The big day has finally come. The epic conclusion to the space apocalyptic drama series Mass Effect has finally been released, and players can now aid Commander Shepherd in the fight to take back Earth. If you're not one of the many Mass Effect fanatics that rushed out to purchase the game upon release, here are five key takeaway points based on the reviews.

1. You must play the first two games before playing the third. This may sound like common sense, but this isn't one of those games players can just catch up as they go along. Mass Effect is truly a game that requires players to make the journey from beginning to end in order to experience any sort of fulfillment from the conclusion.

2. The ending is worth the wait. After persisting with the same storyline for the past two games, the final installment decides the fate of all the characters and galaxies fans have grown accustomed to. As CNN writes, the game brings the series to a resounding and satisfying crescendo with tight combat, excellent storytelling and majestic visual effects.

3. The best of both worlds. Although the first two games center on the same plot, there are some gameplay variations that distinguish the two, preventing the sequel from becoming a rehash of the original. The first chapter emphasized the main quest at hand, giving players a sense of purpose and importance. The second game's plot was more succinct, but more characters and side stories were thrown into the mix. And the third, according to PC Gamer's Tom Francis, tries for the best of both worlds: an urgent and galaxy-critical plot that directly involves the entire crowd of oddball personalities the series has built up. And it works.

4. Multiplayer mode is the key to better endings. For gamers, it could be incredibly frustrating to play through an entire series, carefully choosing each decision and completing all of the side missions, to reveal a lackluster ending. This usually isn't the case with the Mass Effect franchise, but Francis from PC Gamer warns players that neglecting the new game's multiplayer mode could yield such consequences. Presumably, they're trying to encourage you to try the multiplayer because to do well in it, you have to buy or earn unlockable items, and you can get those for real money, he writes. This can damage the single-player aspect by resulting in a subpar ending as a penalty for not playing co-op.

5. Cloud saves from Mass Effect 2 won't transfer. The creators of Mass Effect realize the importance of storyline continuity, and therefore have enabled cloud saving. This means basically means that a save file could be backed up virtually or on another player's system, preventing it from being lost if a player's Xbox is damaged. However, Mass Effect 3 is completely incapable of reading Mass Effect 2 save files that have been stored in the cloud.