I have never bought any of the Mass Effect game guides prior to this purchase. I didn't buy this one until I had finished the game the first time. But then, I also avoided the entire Internet until I'd finished this game and found myself with more questions than answers. Lest this turn into a complaint about the quality of choices or outcomes in ME3, this review will be spoiler free.
I do love the franchise, and bought the collector's edition of the game itself, then the collector's edition of the guide. To be honest, I get more of a charge out of exploring and trying things in an RPG than I do playing the game glued to a walkthrough. Mass Effect games were (for the most part) not like, say, recent Final Fantasy games where you would discover 80 hours in that some obscure random act in the first 12 hours of the game has torpedoed your chance to farm some component to get the ultimate cheese grinder mod or something like that.
However, choices and outcomes for ME3 events in several places are highly dependent on choices you made and quests you completed going all the way back to the original Mass Effect (potentially a total 150 hours of gameplay over three titles). Buying the game guide made more sense, especially since I'm a huge fan, and the book itself is made to last longer than the paperback version.
This is the hardcover version of the guide, but don't expect the highest quality hardcover. The contents are a mostly visual guide on heavyweight paper. The binding is glued, however; not stitched, so over time may still fall victim to the contents cracking out of it's shell. I have not used the guide as a walkthrough, but only for spot checking certain events and choices, so have not abused the binding in a way that a book I relied on heavily might be.
As far as the actual informational content, the book does not entirely deliver, but makes the argument against making physical guide book purchases. The index, as noted in other reviews, is rather weak, and lacks summarized game choices considering one of the biggest factors in the game ending, War Assets and Readiness Ratings are a pure numbers game. Surely, this might be a daunting task, considering that War Assets might change based on imported data from one or both previous games, or none at all, and variable input from choices in ME 3 itself.
The book makes few apologies for this, but acknowledges that it lacks this information, and it's one of the twitchiest things about ME3 that might MAKE you want to get a game guide. If that's what you're looking for, then bluntly stated: This book is not going to help you!
Granted, the book cannot account for errors in the game import functionality affecting your scores, but the presence of the information of what DOES affect your score might help you sort out that your game is suffering from an import error. There is no list of the different support conversations indicating how they affect your War Assets (and they do!). In fact, there is hardly any acknowledgement of them at all.
Also, the guide falls down on some key decisions, in an attempt to make the book spoiler free, or simply has misinformation (the conditions for the optional endings to the Quarian-Geth conflict, for one). Personally, I don't expect my game guides to be spoiler free. Anyone using a game guide, I figure, has taken a fairly soft stance on spoilers, and some highlighted boxes indicating spoiler content will suffice for protecting what's left of the surprise in the gaming experience. The book simply omits the info entirely.
At which point, I still found myself, with my old friend Google, gleaning the different choices from various sites.