Well, I did it. I didn’t think I could pull it off, but I managed.

I beat Mass Effect 3, in it’s entirety, on Insanity mode.

This may not be a big deal to some, while to others the idea might seem impossible. Personally, it was a huge accomplishment. Perhaps my biggest gaming accomplishment ever, mainly because I’m not known for one who cares about those sort of things. I’m proud of myself, because I had serious doubts about pulling it off. I’m the kind of person that hates to do things halfway, so once I was commited to this feat my biggest concern was simply not being able to finish.

There were undoubtedly same rage-incuding, controller-tossing moments, but overall a strange thing happened that I didn’t consider: I got better at the game. And in turn, it became a lot easier.

I earned it!

I earned it!

The idea to do this came mainly from the fact that I never managed to play any of the DLC packs. At the time of writing his, there have been two released, Leviathan and Omega. So rather than go back, load my pre-endgame save and try to knock these out, I figured a full play-through might be more enjoyable. And heck, why not do it on insanity?

I actually attempted this once before in Mass Effect 2. However, I didn’t get past the level on Omega where Mordin has you turn off the fans while Vorcha are shooting rockets at your face. It was HARD, and I didn’t have the patience at the time. In retrospect, given time I could have gotten through it. But from what I hear, that part was easy compared to later missions.

In fact, the consensus is that Mass Effect 2’s insanity mode is the hardest of all 3 games. Still, ME3 on insanity was no cakewalk. I spent a lot of time online researching proper strategy and watching YouTube videos. I must have re-speced my Shepard at least 3 times in order to choose the upgrade perks that would best suited to staying alive in this mode. I also imported my Shep from my first play-through, which allowed me to unlock level 10 weapons, and that certainly gave me some advantage.

If you were wondering, my class has always been Vanguard. The charge/nova combo is the way to go against certain enemies, but most of the time I was gunning behind cover. It took at least twice as long to finish any given level that it did on normal, because I had to learn to be patient; biding my time while a Nemesis popped his head up briefly, finding the quickest way to take out a turret, or just running/charging away from Banshees.

Overall though, like I said, I managed. From my personal standpoint, I want to outline some common “trouble levels”, and give my take on my experience:

Grissom Academy: A lot of people apparently had trouble with this. I did not. The Mech sequence was a piece of cake.

Final Kai Leng Fight: This is supposed to be the worst part on insanity. However, I beat him on my first try within like 2 minutes. I basically constantly used a biotic charge/shotgun combo him when he wasn’t recharging, and with Liara and singularity the other enemies were barely an afterthought.

Rannoch/Geth Primes: This was pretty tricky. I didn’t give up, and got it on my ~15th try, but it is tricky. Right of the gate you have to grab the Spitfire, find immediate cover, and try to get the first Prime down as soon as you can. Then, focus on keeping distance between you and the remaining ones, and use the other Spitfire on right side. The big problem is their shields, and it takes almost an entire Spitfire to drain it. Once you get to one remaining Prime, you should be set.

London/Defend the Missiles: This was hectic, but pretty manageable. I died once, but before I got to the final part. For the last onslaught of Banshees, I kept charging them until their barriers were down, then mixed some Nova with other powers (Dark Channel and Warp) to make some decent explosions. At one point, I got trapped in the building with 5 Banshees on top of me, but I was able to charge a brute outside to get some air. Before I knew it, the missiles were ready.

This is a glorious moment.

This is a glorious moment.

Now, there was one part that made me want to quit entirely. It was actually in the Leviathan DLC. The middle point, where you’re on the asteroid. I don’t know if I just had a bad team, if it was too early on (I was still level 58 I think), or what, but I spent about 6 hours trying to plow through this.  always managed to get to where the Banshees popped up, but with the damn Ravengers and the incredibly poor level design (easy to get trapped, not a lot of open cover), it was a bitch. Ironically, I had no trouble with the last part of the DLC.

All that said, let me throw out a few general tips for anyone that want to try doing this.

(1) You will have grenades constantly thrown at you. Never stay in cover that you can’t easily get out of, or that is in a corner. You’ll find a lot of times  the controls won’t be super responsive, and unless you’re fully powered up a single grenade means instant death.

(2) Combat Engineers: KILL THEM AS SOON AS YOU CAN. Turrets absolutely suck; don’t even think about charging them if you’re a Vanguard, you’ll die.

THIS MOTHERFUCKER, RIGHT HERE.

THIS MOTHERFUCKER, RIGHT HERE.

(3) Choose your weapons wisely. The M-77 Paladin pistol (Spectre weapon) is like a damn hand cannon. I actually went through most of the game with the M-96 Mattock rifle – it’s a little on the heavy side, but it has a good fire rate and does decent damage. Only problem is you have to press the trigger every time you fire.

With shotguns, I like the Geth Plasma shotgun, but it’s a personal preference. I can’t speak much for sniper rifles, but the M-98 Widow is stupid powerful. Finally, if you have anyone on your party that can use rifles, always give them the Particle Rifle. It is a pain in the ass to aim when you have it, but the computer always has perfect aim, so Garrus and Javik (for example), can completely tear things up.

(4) If you’re fighting Banshees, they’re going to come after you. I noticed in normal, they didn’t jump towards me that often, and only launched their glowly ball of death when I got close. On insanity, they immediately rush you, will follow you around, and constantly try and shoot you. All you can do really is keep your distance (but Vanguards charge, always) and widdle them down one by one.

That’s all I can think of for now. If you plan on taking, the plunge, let me know! I’d be interested in hearing your experience.

In a related note, I talked about all this a little in the podcast my friend Nick and I did tonight. If you haven’t already, check out Retronick.com to hear my friends and I ramble about games once in a while. Props also goes out to Nick for getting all the achievements in Mass Effect 1 and 2. He has balls of steel.