Mass Effect 3

Common Sense Media says

Exciting sci-fi adventure with gore, sex, and profanity.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game focuses heavily on fighting against the evil Reapers, rallying various civilizations together to protect innocent worlds, and working to stop malevolent forces. Themes of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice emerge. Note, though, that players engage in violence to maim and kill enemies.

Positive role models

Commander Shepard, the game's human protagonist (who can be male or female), exhibits both positive and negative traits. He fights against evil to protect the galaxy from harm, but spends much of his time engaged in violence. Also, players can control whether he is polite or rude during conversations, meaning he won't come off as the same kind of character for all players.

Ease of play

The game developers at BioWare have spent a lot of time refining control in their Mass Effect games. Those who've played a previous entry in the series will ease right into this game, while rookies should be able to learn the basics within the first few missions. The Xbox 360 version of the game also offers Kinect for Xbox 360 support, allowing players to give commands to squadmates using their voice instead of via the controller.


Players select weapons -- guns, bombs, and futuristic weapons like an arm-mounted tech-blade for deadly melee attacks -- before approaching enemies in tactical fashion, and hiding behind objects while exchanging fire. Some kills are slowed down for dramatic effect. Players can also assign combat orders to their squad mates. Some enemies are machine-like, but others -- humans and aliens -- show blood when attacked, especially during headshots.


As with previous games in the series, the game's protagonist (who can be male or female) may have a love interest in the game and might end up in bed. A simulated lovemaking session sees the player's character lying down and rolling around while partially dressed. Cleavage and buttocks can be seen, hence the "partial nudity" warning by the ESRB. The game also gives the option for a same-sex relationship. Some lines of dialogue are sexually suggestive in nature.


The game contains strong profanity during some dialogue sequences. This includes words like "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," as well as "bitch," hell," "damn," and "bastard."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Creates privacy and safety concerns. The game supports online multiplayer (two to four players), including the option to voice chat in real-time. Because the Internet sessions aren't moderated, it's possible to hear profanity and/or engage in inappropriate conversations.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know Mass Effect 3 is an action game with role-playing elements designed for mature players. It shows violence and blood -- dramatic, slow-motion headshots depict crimson splatter -- and presents adult situations that include suggestive dialogue, sexual activity, and partial nudity. There are thousands of lines of dialogue, some of which include strong profanity. What's more, multiplayer support over the Internet means gamers can chat freely in real-time, creating potential for players to share personal information and become subject to inappropriate conversations.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Is it any good?


The intense, combat-heavy gameplay, tight controls, and engaging story and characters all make Mass Effect 3 an extraordinary adventure, regardless of whether you're new to the series or a longtime fan. Along with the long solo campaign -- which features tens of thousands of lines of dialogue and nearly 90 minutes of cinematic sequences -- the game features multiplayer modes for up to four players. This continues the fun long after the story is completed.

While all three versions of the game are the same, the Xbox 360 version also adds Kinect support, which allows gamers to assign instructions to Shepard's squad mates using voice commands instead of using the controller. Without question, the Mass Effect series -- designed for players 17 years of age and older -- is among the finest examples of interactive entertainment, delivering immersive, action-heavy gameplay (with many RPG upgrades), solo and multiplayer gameplay, and memorable scenes and characters.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether this game utilizes Kinect for Xbox 360 in a meaningful way. Do voice commands enhance the experience? Did you feel more immersed in the game?

  • Families can also discuss the depiction of sexuality in games. Do you think games are an appropriate platform for romantic narrative?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:March 6, 2012
Genre:Role Playing
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Science and nature, Space and aliens
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Violence (PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of Mass Effect 3 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written bya deep gamer September 1, 2012

Makes you think about yourself and those around you

I have been a gamer most of my life, and thinking about every game I've ever played, Mass Effect always stands out for me. This series has the deepest characters in any game, and, with the amazing story and interaction, you feel like they are actual people. You feel like these people are your friends, your family, not just some faces. If you betray one, you feel like you stabbed a friend in the back, not just kept a secret from some meaningless character. Everything in this game makes you think about the difference between right and wrong, between friendship and power. You will feel bad for someone suffering because of you. When you couple that with the stress of the war, there are moments where getting the job done feels amazing because you helped those you've grown close to. Yes, the gameplay and story stand up on their own, and yes, there is language, violence, and sexual themes. But all of these things take the backseat to the real as flesh and bone cast. If you let this game in, you will feel for these people. Don't be surprised if, during a particularly tender moment, you feel a tear form. More than one have admitted to it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old July 23, 2012

Common Sense Media, you don't understand kids.

This isn't really that bad of a game. I used to be terrified of gore, but I got over that, so I watched my dad play this game for a bit. There's barely any gore, just guns. As for the sexual activity... I watched a walkthrough online and saw a scene where Shepard (main character) and Miranda were making out. It felt awkward, but really, if you don't want your kid to see this just tell them not to pick a love interest in the game! It's just language that pushes it from "T" to "M". Otherwise it's easily a rated T game. Now let me explain my "positive role model" and "positive messages." Shepard can be a good dude and make all the right choices if you decide to be paragon, or be brutal if you're a renegade. Overall, this is a GREAT game.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byJester™ May 9, 2012

Magnificent Finale to a Fantastic Trilogy!

Right off the bat, i am not one of those haters out there who give Mass Effect 3 a 3/10 because they weren't happy with the last 10 minutes of the end, regardless of the fantastic 30+ hours of gameplay prior to that. Mass Effect 3 is a stunning game. The story is brilliant, with lots of interaction and most certainly not linear. Bioware has done a very good job of bringing back the RPG elements of the game and balancing them evenly with combat. The game has stayed true to its roots with about 30% of the game being spent in conversations. In broadening the RPG elements, Bioware has also increased the violence. Enemies can now, with the right weapons, have their heads blown off or explode into meaty, bloody chunks. Headshots with sniper rifles are also instant kill against basic enemies. The romance is also back in a more mature form, and by mature i dont mean boobs and sex, but rather players now have to talk to their "love" interest in multiple scenes and with some characters the final romance scene is simply them talking and then implied sex. Some people claim this is Bioware dumbing it down, i think it is a mature approach to realtionships. Nudity and sex doesn't make it "mature" but is rather an immature approach to such things. Overall Bioware has made a fantastic game that is hands down my Game of the Year and for many good reasons. Mass Effect 3 is a must have for fans of science fiction, or those interested in a good story and interesting, wonderful characters.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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