The consistently excellent Tom Bissell, writing for Grantland:
I have my qualms about the story this game tells, but then I always do. At the same time, I’m aware that BioWare’s writers have had to juggle the individual and — depending on player action — often highly variable fates of several dozen characters throughout something like 150 cumulative hours of in-game narrative time…In light of that, the story’s occasional failure to make sense is forgivable. Slightly less forgivable is the fact that Commander Shepard, Mass Effect’s indomitable hero, seems to meet the same two dozen people in every Mass Effect game. Is this the smallest galaxy ever imagined? It seems like it. There’s a point at which fan service becomes narrative prostitution.
I couldn’t agree more. As I noted in an earlier editorial the constant “coincidental” bump ins with past characters from the Mass Effect universe got pretty grating. This could have been handled a more gracefully if some aspects of this were just directly written in the plot (e.g. Shepard is asked to directly assemble his old team.)