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Video Game Review: Spectacular ‘Mass Effect 3’ Provides Emotional End to Amazing Trilogy

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CHICAGO – The highly-anticipated “Mass Effect 3” has been devastating and dividing fans for about a month now while we played through our copy of the title and tried to figure out how to fully capture it in a review. It’s difficult to address a title this complex, this emotional, this epic, and this popular. Most people know what they think of “Mass Effect 3” by now but there may be some of you out there who have waited for the first wave of popularity to subside. Let me speak to you — don’t let this game pass you by. Even with its controversial ending, it’s a landmark title in the history of the form.

HollywoodChicago.com Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0

Let me speak to the younger players for a minute. For decades, video games were about two things — memorization and hand-eye coordination. Memorize the order in which Donkey Kong is going to drop his barrels and use your hand-eye coordination to jump at the right time to avoid them. Even later hit games were essentially cut from the same cloth. When simple freedom of movement entered the world of gaming, even in as primitive a form as, say, “The Legend of Zelda,” it was remarkable. You didn’t have to memorize one path to the end, you could choose to go left or right. Still, games maintained a “predetermined nature” for years and many still operate from the same structure. There may be choices but there is a “best” (and least likely to kill you) way from point A to point B.

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3
Photo credit: EA

The most incredible modern games of the last few years have destroyed this sense of a predetermined path and given players a feeling of authorship over their experience. My “Bioshock,” my “Red Dead Redemption,” my “Mass Effect 2” — they were different than yours. I can guarantee it. Whether it is the degree of moral decisions required on the part of the player or the customization of items, weapons, and clothing, the best developers have been revolutionizing the individual experience of gaming to remarkable degrees. But none have had the personal depth of “Mass Effect 3,” a game that doesn’t just consistently demand decisions on the part of the player that have nothing to do with memorization but asks for an emotional connection to the final act of one of the most important trilogies of the last twenty years in any form.

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3
Photo credit: EA

Those of you unfamiliar with the story of “Mass Effect” may think the word emotional to be hyperbolic. You clearly haven’t played these games (or at least haven’t played them with the affection that I have). The writers of “Mass Effect 3” are here to tug on your heartstrings and the degree to which it worked this cynical player was unexpected. I’ve spent time with these characters. I’m invested in not just their fate but — and this is the most remarkable part — their pasts. I have a history with these characters, memories that influence the way I interact with them in the most important chapters of their lives. That’s AMAZING. We’ve gone from memorization to memory. From hand-eye coordination to something that touches the heart.

And that’s the clear intention from the beginning of “Mass Effect 3,” which picks up some time after the events of “Mass Effect 2” and will be greatly shaped by your experience with that title and not just in memory. I can’t recommend enough playing through part 2 and importing your character to this title. Not only will skills and customizable options be imported but your history will be as well. Did everyone survive the end of “Mass Effect 2”? What alliances did you make along the way? What bridges did you burn?

It turns out stopping the Reapers at the end of the second game merely delayed the inevitable and the amazing opening act of “Mass Effect 3” starts with their attack on Earth. In the action’s most memorable moment, as he’s fleeing to a ship to get back to a place where he can come up with the strategy to save Earth, Commander Shepard encounters a young boy in a vent. He can’t reach him in time and has to flee. Moments later, he sees the boy’s ship blown up by the Reapers. The boy will haunt Shepard and anyone who’s emotionally committed to the experience.

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3
Photo credit: EA

The writers of “Mass Effect 3” brilliantly bring back characters from the history of “Mass Effect,” allowing them to play major roles in the action of saving the universe from certain destruction. I have never before felt the feeling of “seeing an old friend” in a video game. When I was going through what I thought was just a basic mission early in the game and ran into former Normandy squad member Jack, it was like surprisingly running into someone on the street that you once felt close to. There was a moment in “Mass Effect 3” when I received an email that another former squad member was on the city base of Citadel and I dropped what I was doing to find them. That’s the kind of personal connection in a video game that has never existed before on a console. And when these friends of mine began to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was an emotional response on my part.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The core of “Mass Effect 3” is about building the alliances needed to save the universe. You will go through story and side missions designed to present you with what are basically political decisions. What species do you side with in a centuries-old debate? Which one will better serve the safety of the universe? What will angering the other do to your cause? Never before has a game blended shooter elements with strategic ones in such a successful way. And, once again, making “good” or “bad” decisions on a moral level will influence the options you get as the game progresses. Even the way you interact with the characters on your ship (and even try to romance a few) will change the game. I think it would be literally impossible to precisely recreate one playthrough of “Mass Effect 3” to another.

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3
Photo credit: EA

The writing on “Mass Effect 3” is some of the best in the history of gaming, but how does it play and look? The combat is very similar to part two with a better grenade system and stronger melee fighting. The basics are the same. Visually, it’s similar as well but the shading is stronger. I’m still a little thrown off by some of the cartoonish character design but the human characters, especially Shepard and some of his human squad mates, look amazing. I must admit, while we’re on a slightly negative tip, that some of the environments start to blend together, especially when it comes to fighting repetitive Cerberus enemies. I wanted a bit more variety in landscape and combatants. It’s the only complaint.

“Mass Effect 3” also includes an accomplished multi-player portion although these games have never been about co-operative play for me. The fact is, however, that multiplayer has become an essential ingredient for a lot of players who won’t buy a game without it. It’s a familiar ingredient here with co-op play and an upgradeable system working with a streamlined version of game combat that allows for more limited weapons and powers.

“Mass Effect 3” came to stores with a heavy burden of expectations and has, not surprisingly, been greeted with a bit of backlash, particularly regarding the lack of closure in the ending. Show me your favorite game of all time and I’ll show you someone who HATES it. Everything that reaches critical peaks has a legion of people salivating to rip it apart. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that “Mass Effect 3” isn’t a complete success. Even if you’re one of those people who feels a little dissatisfied, ask yourself why — it’s because a game trilogy became so important to you that there was no way to adequately end it given the heart and devotion that you had poured into the series. Isn’t that an ambitious, amazing fact on its own?

“Mass Effect 3” was developed by BioWare and released by Electronic Arts for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC on March 6th, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

AOPrinciple's picture

Well, everyone else has

Well, everyone else has already said it, but I’d like to throw in my 2 cents for what they’re worth. I agree with much of what you say in the review, and the nostalgia ME3 can engender is unlike any other game I’ve every played.

However, and this is a big ‘however’, the game is NOT a “complete success”. I can’t believe you wrote such a thing. I have trouble believing that anyone who experienced the outright broken ending can afford a perfect score. You didn’t even imply that the game was a complete success in the [x] category or [y] category. Yes, the lack of closure is a problem and the utter thematic disparity of the conclusion from the rest of the entire series is baffling, but you could drive a truck through the plot holes. From almost as factual basis as there could be for original narrative, the ending was a flop for that last reason alone. Seriously, did someone pay you to say these things?

Anonymous20000000000000000000000000000000000000's picture

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY. If you

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY. If you don’t want to hear about Mass Effect 3′s ending in great detail, evacuate now.

A week has passed since the release of Mass Effect 3, and fans that have stayed true to the series since its first release back in 2007 have been fighting through its single-player campaign, raising forces to drive back the Reaper threat. And as players are reaching the ending of the epic three-part trilogy in which many have invested countless hours, some are coming away from the game‘s finale a little…upset.

We’ve been following the outrage, which stems from the final moments on the Citadel during the end game. In the end, Shep gets three choices — destroy the Reapers, along with all synthetic life, the mass relays and him/herself (because of his/her synthetic parts); control the Reapers, disengaging them from the fight but destroying himself in the process, still destroying the mass relays, and basically becoming a computer; or merging with the Reapers, making all life both organic and synthetic and evolving the entire galaxy to a higher plane of existence, still destroying the mass relays and Shepard, but ending the Reaper threat.

Many fans have been raging about the ending choices, the final cutscene and the implications of the Mass Effect universe after the end of Shepard. Some see it as the raging of entitled, whiny gamers who didn’t get enough sunshine and puppies in their ending, and expected Shep to retire with Tali on Rannoch and creepy little masked babies. But the people who would argue that gamers are entitled and that BioWare’s creative integrity is preserved by the ending, however bleak, are — quite simply — wrong. It’s not about a happy ending; it’s about an ending that makes sense.

We think the fans are right. To prove it, we’ve analyzed the series’ lore, its moral and philosophical themes, the structure of the game itself, even BioWare’s own statements about the series. Here are 5 reasons the fans are right to hate Mass Effect 3′s Ending
Posted on March 13, 2012, Ross Lincoln
Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right

5) Brevity

You have to hand it to BioWare. In nearly every way that mattered, they delivered a rich, complex experience for Mass Effect 3. Anticipation of the game’s finale is brought to a fever pitch by the incredible effort it takes to reach it. It almost defies belief, but after 2 previous games that each require close to 50 hours per character to complete, the scale of Mass Effect 3 almost dwarfs its predecessors. Over the course of game, Shepard – and the player – desperately tries to unite the galaxy behind his effort to defeat the reapers. As expected, you can condemn entire civilizations to destruction or save them, resolve centuries-old conflicts, wage massive battles. You may even play space cupid by helping Joker and Edi (and, it’s implied, Tali and Garrus) to hook it up before the final battle.

You’ll also visit every major planet in the galaxy, reveal the truth about Prothean civilization, watch as friends die, innocents are slaughtered, whole cultures are threatened with destruction. Every moment of the game feels a necessary part of the war effort, every decision feels critical, and as you begin the final mission, you actually feel the weight of 5 years of play, dozens of well-written friendships, and 15,000 years of galactic civilization are behind you. It’s a glorious accomplishment. And that accomplishment is completely undone as the story is wrapped up via a barely-interactive cutscene lasting less than 10 minutes.

That kind of terseness, in addition to just feeling cheap, also manages the particularly nasty trick of completely robbing players of closure. This is critical to understanding why the fanbase is so upset. It’s not just that players are forced to choose from one of three nearly identical endings. It’s not even that they are presented with each choice regardless of what kind of game they played, so long as their EMS rating was sufficiently high. It’s that the player is never given any sense of how the choice they ultimately made affected the galaxy they worked so hard to save.

Instead, they see one of 3 identical, context free scenes of the Normandy crash landing on a planet somewhere, followed by a nonsensical epilogue featuring a Grandfather and his grandson that almost seems to smugly imply that the gamers themselves were nothing but children who couldn’t fully understand these events. And adding insult to injury, they receive a message urging them to purchase DLC. We would never suggest that BioWare’s job is to be nothing more than an infodump for nit-picky fans, but after 5 years and hundreds of hours, Mass Effect 3 players deserved more than a text message urging them to buy more content.

4) It is Confusing and Under-Developed

Of course, the ending’s brevity wouldn’t matter if it actually made sense. But the moment you’re struck by Harbinger’s beam, events lose structure, outcomes become preordained, new concepts and characters are introduced literally in the last seconds of play, and all of it free of any context or explanation. Granted, some of this is kind of trivial, like the fact that Anderson, despite having come up the Conduit behind Shepard, beats him to the secret Citadel control panel room. Maybe BioWare agreed to put Keith David in the final scene in order to make up for his absence during most of the game. It’s silly, but having Anderson in the final scene feels right, so it’s easily forgiven.

But the majority of the ending is an exercise in increasing incomprehensibility, beginning with the abrupt appearance of The Illusive Man. Without any warning, he just kind of… shows up in the control room with Shep and Anderson. It is never explained how this is even possible; there isn’t even a cursory “Shepard, as you can see, I planned to save Humanity by purchasing a penthouse here on the citadel. PEACE.”. Of course, we’ve known throughout the game that the Illusive Man has indoctrinated himself in a foolish attempt to control the Reapers. A comment minutes later suggests that the Reapers allowed him to arrive in a last ditch effort to either talk Shepard down, or kill him. Fine, we accept that.

But it’s the reveal of the game’s primary villain that ultimately cripples the end. It turns out to be a ridiculous AI whose visual representation is the young boy haunting Shepard’s nightmares throughout the game. It is never explained why this is the form he chooses; we don’t even get the courtesy of the “I chose a form you were comfortable with” cliche. The Citadel, the AI explains, is his home and he is the Catalyst needed to make the Crucible work. The AI then claims that he created the Reapers billions of years ago as a means of solving the problem of synthetic life forms killing their organic creators. The Reaper’s whole purpose is to save Organics by killing them, and turning them into synthetics. So that Organics won’t make synthetics who will then kill organics.
Yes, this is exactly what he says.

This explanation for the entire history of the Mass Effect universe is the most precise example of all that is wrong with the end of Mass Effect 3. In essence, the player is told that everything they experienced has happened because it was going to happen, and will happen again. Making things worse, the player isn’t even provided with enough data or context for this to at least make some kind of sense. Instead, they’re simply baffled by events they cannot control, and left with far more questions than any “definitive” ending should have.

Mass Effect has long been held up as a shining example of a well-constructed, fully developed universe. Players are rightly unhappy to see it end as nothing but a series of forced choices justified by tautological platitudes.
Posted on March 13, 2012, Ross Lincoln
Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right

3) Lore Errors, Plot Holes

Considering how short the ending of Mass Effect 3 actually is, it’s impressive that it could still manage to violate established canon while simultaneously creating holes in the plot bigger than The Illusive Man’s ego, but this is indeed the case, and it’s a source of serious criticism from the fan base. There is a huge debate currently underway among the fans about how much, precisely, is left hanging by the ending, and it will likely continue until either BioWare consents to create a new ending, or fans accept that they never will. We will focus on the three that are indisputable.

* The Mass Relays

No matter which of ME3′s endings you choose, the Mass Relays are all destroyed. Yes, despite the weakness of an ending that robs the galaxy of critical technology, the multicolored explosions (player choice!) are certainly pretty. But in The Arrival, it was firmly established that the destruction of a Mass Relay would result in an explosion resembling a supernova, destroying the relay’s star system. In Mass Effect 3′s ending, the Mass Relays are destroyed in explosions so massive that they’re depicted as being visible from a perspective that resembles the Normandy’s Galaxy Map. Which means that Shepard has probably killed more life forms than the Reapers could on their best cycle.

* Inferred Holocaust

But even if we assume that this time, the Mass Relay Network’s destruction was a completely different kind of explosion that didn’t wipe out hundreds of star systems, (that players are forced to fill in blanks like this is another point of contention, incidentally), even a relatively benign end to the Galaxy’s most critical technology suggests a terrible outcome: Everyone in the galaxy is stranded where they happened to be at that moment, including thousands of ships and millions of alien races now orbiting a ruined Earth.

It’s safe to assume that the fleets who travelled to Earth for the final Reaper battle were stocked with supplies, but with the Mass Relay network knocked out, they’re all basically stuck there. That ending’s not just bleak — it implies outright extinction. While the galactic races have access to faster-than-light travel, the relay network is what made moving about the galaxy possible. Even conventional faster-than-light travel means decades before any of those ships makes it home, or even to another star system. It’s more than safe to assume no one, not the Quarians, not the Turians, not the krogan, Asari or Salarians, no one is going see home again.

Unfortunately, the burned husk of Earth certainly can’t support the combined military forces of the galaxy. And remember folks, Turians and Quarians can’t eat human food anyway. The assumption then has to be that everyone scrambles to find a colony to support them, and/or they all die. In all likelihood — faced with starvation, the krogan slowly eat everybody.

* The Normandy’s Escape
This is probably the biggest WTF of all. As the Mass Relays explode, we see a short clip of Joker furiously scrambling in the Normandy Cockpit, followed by the Normandy barely staying ahead of the chain of explosions. Eventually, the Normandy crash-lands on a convenient, Earth-like jungle planet. Joker survives, and as he staggers out of the ship to see the new, presumably permanent home, he’s joined by members of Shepard’s crew. In almost every ending, these crew members include Shepard’s love interest and at least one person who joined Shep in his/her final push.

There’s just one little problem. At the beginning of the final mission, every single squad member travels down to earth with you. Whichever two you chose to accompany you to the Conduit are with you during the final push when you’re blasted by Harbinger. That blast nearly kills you and Anderson. It can only be assumed – again, the player is forced to fill in blanks – that your squad was also hit in the blast. Meanwhile, Joker remained in orbit around earth to take part in the final battle. So how did he A) manage to rescue your squad and B) get the ship to the Charon relay in time to outrun the explosion? The ending cutscene makes it clear that the explosions begin almost concurrently with whichever end to the Reaper threat you chose. So, did Joker chicken out and abandon his post along with your crew? Did the game suddenly introduce Transporter technology? Was it some kind of magical nonsense?

Who knows? BioWare certainly didn’t explain it. Which means that for the rest of time, players must end every Mass Effect 3 game knowing that Joker is probably looking at a Court Martial for cowardice.
2) Key Philosophical Themes Are Discarded

When bringing a beloved story to a close, it is inevitable that a creator will fail to please all their fans. Writing what you believe to be the natural outcome of the world you’ve created, regardless of how pleasant the experience is, will naturally cause people to fluster. Just ask any random person how they feel about “19 years later” and you’ll see what I mean. But when an author uncompromisingly ends their story as they see fit, yet still manages to honor the themes they’ve explored and the universe in which the story is set, love or hate the ending, you still respect where they went with it. When they fail to do so, it can make it impossible to enjoy revisiting that world.

This is what makes Mass Effect 3′s ending particularly galling. After years of forcing players to wrestle with surprisingly complex issues ranging from bigotry, sexual freedom, religion, political corruption and personal moral compromise – especially in the final game – it ultimately disregards all of them in order to force a tired twist ending on players who have seen far too many movies and played far too many games to be surprised. That the ending also requires the player to act contrary to their own actions as established by the series and even Mass Effect 3 itself is just bitter icing on a stale cake.

When trying to understand why players are outraged, here are some of the series’ key themes that are entirely jettisoned in service to a gimmick.

* Tolerance and Unity
Arguably, the overreaching thrust of Mass Effect from the first moment you meet Shepard to the landing of forces from all over the galaxy on Earth is tolerance. Humanity has worked to find its place in the galaxy, overcoming old prejudices to work forward toward a common future. Each game has Shepard putting aside the issues of his crew with one another and with him in order to get a job done, and everyone is better for it. While Shepard can choose to take the side of one person or race over another in many instances, often condemning one side to destruction, the theme at work in all cases is one of finding a place in the universe among all the other races. Even if you choose to be intolerant, the very fact that tolerance or intolerance is the choice at hand builds on the theme.

The theme is extended even further throughout the games as Shepard brings together a team of various species who carry a lot of emotional baggage and problems with each other from a historical, cultural and racial standpoint. Unifying them, turning them from enemies to allies, is dealt with repeatedly in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2; by Mass Effect 3, it’s extending to include the entire galaxy. Shepard is literally solving long-standing problems of hatred and violence between several groups of people. He helps them learn tolerance, and later, unity.

The Illusive Man stands against these themes as a symbol of hatred and racism, pushing humanity backward and separating it. And the Reapers stand against these themes, unyielding in their belief that organic life must be wiped out/harvested/ascended/whatever. But where tolerance has always been an option in the games before, and has always been achievable before, it is discarded wholly in the end. There is no tolerance permitted among the Reapers or by the Guardian. And in fact, the synthesis ending dismantles the idea of tolerance and unity altogether by forcing homogenization on all the life in the galaxy, synthetic included. The control ending forces the Reapers to tolerate you, with the assumption that eventually, synthetics will ruin everything again through their lack of tolerance; the destruction ending, as the Guardian claims, will mean the eventual destruction by all synthetics.
Posted on March 13, 2012, Ross Lincoln
Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right

2) Key Philosophical Themes Are Discarded

When bringing a beloved story to a close, it is inevitable that a creator will fail to please all their fans. Writing what you believe to be the natural outcome of the world you’ve created, regardless of how pleasant the experience is, will naturally cause people to fluster. Just ask any random person how they feel about “19 years later” and you’ll see what I mean. But when an author uncompromisingly ends their story as they see fit, yet still manages to honor the themes they’ve explored and the universe in which the story is set, love or hate the ending, you still respect where they went with it. When they fail to do so, it can make it impossible to enjoy revisiting that world.

This is what makes Mass Effect 3′s ending particularly galling. After years of forcing players to wrestle with surprisingly complex issues ranging from bigotry, sexual freedom, religion, political corruption and personal moral compromise – especially in the final game – it ultimately disregards all of them in order to force a tired twist ending on players who have seen far too many movies and played far too many games to be surprised. That the ending also requires the player to act contrary to their own actions as established by the series and even Mass Effect 3 itself is just bitter icing on a stale cake.

When trying to understand why players are outraged, here are some of the series’ key themes that are entirely jettisoned in service to a gimmick.

* Tolerance and Unity

Arguably, the overreaching thrust of Mass Effect from the first moment you meet Shepard to the landing of forces from all over the galaxy on Earth is tolerance. Humanity has worked to find its place in the galaxy, overcoming old prejudices to work forward toward a common future. Each game has Shepard putting aside the issues of his crew with one another and with him in order to get a job done, and everyone is better for it. While Shepard can choose to take the side of one person or race over another in many instances, often condemning one side to destruction, the theme at work in all cases is one of finding a place in the universe among all the other races. Even if you choose to be intolerant, the very fact that tolerance or intolerance is the choice at hand builds on the theme.

The theme is extended even further throughout the games as Shepard brings together a team of various species who carry a lot of emotional baggage and problems with each other from a historical, cultural and racial standpoint. Unifying them, turning them from enemies to allies, is dealt with repeatedly in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2; by Mass Effect 3, it’s extending to include the entire galaxy. Shepard is literally solving long-standing problems of hatred and violence between several groups of people. He helps them learn tolerance, and later, unity.

The Illusive Man stands against these themes as a symbol of hatred and racism, pushing humanity backward and separating it. And the Reapers stand against these themes, unyielding in their belief that organic life must be wiped out/harvested/ascended/whatever. But where tolerance has always been an option in the games before, and has always been achievable before, it is discarded wholly in the end. There is no tolerance permitted among the Reapers or by the Guardian. And in fact, the synthesis ending dismantles the idea of tolerance and unity altogether by forcing homogenization on all the life in the galaxy, synthetic included. The control ending forces the Reapers to tolerate you, with the assumption that eventually, synthetics will ruin everything again through their lack of tolerance; the destruction ending, as the Guardian claims, will mean the eventual destruction by all synthetics.

Mass Effect continually asks “Can’t we call just get along?” and as Shepard, players can work toward that end for three full games. But the ending totally undoes your work toward galactic unity by undervaluing it, then throwing it out altogether, almost as though it were intended for another story. So what that the races of the galaxy have come to value and understand one another in a way never before possible as they unite against a common enemy: not possible with synthetics and organics, the Guardian proclaims. That’s just an immutable fact. So you’re forced to choose a solution that discards free will.

But the very fact that Shepard is where he is means he has already chosen a solution — unity; tolerance. In the end, Shepard is forced to make a decision that implies that unity, working together, tolerance on a galactic scale — the very things he has been working toward and accomplishing over the span of the entire game (and all three games, really), at every step — are inconsequential and in fact incompatible with the reality of the game’s story. Doesn’t matter how many alliances you broker or how much understanding you cultivate: it makes absolutely no difference.

* Synthetics vs. Organics
To say that the Guardian’s assertion about the never-ending and inevitable battle between synthetics and organics comes out of left field isn’t quite fair. Plenty of times and in plenty of very large ways, we’e seen the creators and the created go to war with one another. Even though the ultimate evil of the game has always been the Reapers, the ultimate conflict has never been one of “machines bad, meatbags good.” And even if you want to argue that point in reference to the first Mass Effect, which was awash with bad guy AIs, the argument breaks down in Mass Effect 2 immediately with the mention of one word: Legion.

Legion immediately changes the synthetic/organic debate when you gain him as a character. Rather than furthering a Matrix-like view of a world in which machines eventually kill their creators, Legion proves that all forms of life can and do have value, and that it is absolutely possible for synthetic and organic life to co-exist peacefully. Throw in EDI from Mass Effect 3 and the debate changes radically again — now synthetic and organic characters aren’t just not killing each other, they’re actively hooking up of their own free will.

That doesn’t sound like a world in which the cylons are destined to nuke the humans. Mass Effect 3 even gives you a chance to redeem the quarians and the geth in their struggle and reunite creator and created, parent and child. These events, in the very same game, are fundamentally opposed to the philosophy of the ending and the themes it represents.

* Free Will and what it means to be alive
One of the series’ strongest themes is an exploration of what it means to be a living being. This ties very closely the concept of free will, and both ideas are defined by contrast to the Reapers. Reapers see other beings as material resources, and their most insidious trick is that before destroying organic life, they rob it of independence. In Mass Effect, the struggle to maintain control over oneself at all costs, even if it means dying in the process, is an important concept. This is further developed in Mass Effect 2, first in Jacob’s loyalty mission ( his father is discovered to have used the side effects of an indigenous plant to turn female coworkers into sex slaves as a means of survival), and with Legion’s, where it’s revealed that the Geth are actually a complex people who simply want the freedom to go their own way without fear of being destroyed. This creates a moral environment in which the crew of the Normandy isn’t just fighting to save Organic life from evil machines, they’re actually fighting for the right to exist on their own terms.

These themes are escalated dramatically in Mass Effect 3. In the mission that can unite the Geth and Quarian, we actually see memories of the original Geth rebellion. The Geth, actually tried to stop the war, and only pushed the Quarians from their home system to keep from having to kill them. As if this wasn’t enough, there is even a moment when Legion says “organic life forms rely on hope to sustain them through periods of uncertainty. We admire the concept”. There’s also EDI, who having been unshackled in Mass Effect 2, is now able to inhabit a body of her own. Throughout the game, she explores the idea of existing as an independent person and even enters into a romance with Joker. Near the end of the game, she offers an extremely poignant summation of the difference between the races of the galaxy, and the Reapers. In essence, she concludes that the Reapers are selfish, and lack empathy, further that they are obsessed with self preservation at the expense of all else.

Both moments are riveting, and they appear to set up a final, brutal philosophical conflict three games in the making. Unfortunately, they do not matter at all. The concept of free will is alluded to, sort of, in the final conversation with the AI, but it has no bearing on any of the (identical) outcomes. Instead, much like the victims of the Reapers themselves, the player is robbed of all free will or even the chance to make the case for it. They must do as they are told, and choose.
1) Player Choice Is Completely Discarded

Finally, it’s tempting to claim that fans are simply suffering from a letdown caused by unrealistic expectations. Call it the Obama excuse — players simply got their hopes up and expected more than anyone could deliver, and ultimately, their anger isn’t at what BioWare created, but that they ascribed qualities to Mass Effect 3 of their own devising. BioWare failed to live up to the fantasy players concocted, and once those players get over that kind of childishness, they’ll realize how awesome the ending actually is. There’s only one problem with this assertion: BioWare’s long history of public statements about Mass Effect 3.

From the beginning, and especially as work progressed on Mass Effect 3, BioWare has made a lot of very specific promises about what players could expect. The vast majority of those promises concerned the very personal journey each player could expect; in short, the choices they made over the course of three very long games would have enormous impact over how their story ended. As recently as January, Casey Hudson was telling Game Informer that “This story arc is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff.” Even today, the official Mass Effect Site bears this message along the top of the page:

EXPERIENCE THE BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END OF AN EMOTIONAL STORY UNLIKE ANY OTHER, WHERE THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE COMPLETELY SHAPE YOUR EXPERIENCE AND OUTCOME.”

As good as Mass Effect 3 is — and it really is an exceptional game in many important ways — the product BioWare ultimately delivered literally broke that promise, and that, more than anything else, is why fans are so angry.

It’s been said more than once that the “multiple” endings of Mass Effect 3 are too similar, but if you have played it, and you’re honest about it, you have to admit that similar doesn’t even begin to describe it. They are all functionally identical. Once players reach the Citadel, they are taken along a low-interaction pathway, engage in conversation with the Illusive Man that can only end with him dead if you wish to proceed further, and then have a conversation — with a very limited set of responses — with the AI child. This experience is the same regardless of your Shepard’s moral alignment, and regardless of the decisions you made to get to this point. The AI does not alter his dialogue if you kill the Geth, he doesn’t offer different justifications if you spared the Collector Base; he does nothing different.

And then, you are given the same three choices, choices that you must accept even though none of them fit with anything Shepard would ever have done at any previous moment in the entire series. Whether the choices succeed or fail depends solely on your Effective Military Strength score, and nothing else. And once made, the only difference between them is a slightly different cutscene, and a different-colored explosion. And that’s it. The game ends at this point, and aside from the Normandy crash-landing, and the weird old man talking about “The Shepard” — and don’t forget the crass DLC pitch — the player never once gets to see how any of the choices they made affected the galaxy, or how the lives of people they touched continue, or don’t, after the war.

In short, players are provided with nothing remotely close to the unique, personal experience they were promised.
Posted on March 13, 2012, Ross Lincoln
Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right

Whether or not you enjoyed the conclusion to Mass Effect 3 (personally I feel
it tarnished an otherwise masterful series) please take a look at the
pre-release quotes below from websites and interviews with the game’s
developers, writers and producers.

Does all that talk of meaningful player choice, multiple significantly
different endings and closure for the characters and series not seem,
at the very least, strange?

I believe Bioware can be legitimately accused of, at best, fudging the
truth if not outright deceit given the inconsistency between notions
of choice, closure etc. expressed before the game was released and
the ending as it currently stands.

In my opinion Bioware produced a badly written, ill-conceived shambles
of an ending riddled with plot holes and logical inconsistencies but
even if you loved the final moments of this great game do you really
think what was stated in the interviews below has been proved true?

Maybe Walters, Gamble, Hudson et al will be proved right when a decent
ending is released via (presumably free) DLC that explains the
original ending was just some sort of hallucination/indoctrination.
I’m not holding my breath waiting for that though.

Official Mass Effect Website
http://masseffect.com/about/story/

“Experience the beginning, middle, and end of an emotional story unlike any
other, where the decisions you make completely shape your experience
and outcome.”

Interview with Mac Walters (Lead Writer)
http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/02/28/mass-effect-3-mac-walters/

“[The presence of the Rachni] has huge consequences in Mass
Effect 3. Even just in the final battle with the Reapers.”

Interview with Mac Walters (Lead Writer)
http://business.financialpost.com/2012/03/05/qa-mass-effect-3s-mac-walte…

“I’m always leery of saying there are ‘optimal’ endings, because I think
one of the things we do try to do is make different endings that are
optimal for different people “

Interview with Mike Gamble (Associate Producer)
http://www.computerandvideogames.com/334598/interviews/mass-effect-3-wev…

“And, to be honest, you [the fans] are crafting your Mass Effect story as
much as we are anyway.”

Interview with Mike Gamble (Associate Producer)
http://www.360magazine.co.uk/interview/mass-effect-3-has-many-different-…

“There are many different endings. We wouldn’t do it any other way. How
could you go through all three campaigns playing as your Shepard and
then be forced into a bespoke ending that everyone gets? But I can’t
say any more than that…”

Interview with Mike Gamble (Associate Producer)
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-02-bioware-mass-effect-3-endin…

“Every decision you’ve made will impact how things go. The player’s also the
architect of what happens.”

“You’ll get answers to everything. That was one of the key things. Regardless
of how we did everything, we had to say, yes, we’re going to provide
some answers to these people.”

“Because a lot of these plot threads are concluding and because it’s being
brought to a finale, since you were a part of architecting how they
got to how they were, you will definitely sense how they close was
because of the decisions you made and because of the decisions you
didn’t make”

Interview with Casey Hudson (Director)
http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2011/04/28/casey-hudson-i…

“For people who are invested in these characters and the back-story of the
universe and everything, all of these things come to a resolution in
Mass Effect 3. And they are resolved in a way that’s very different
based on what you would do in those situations.”

Interview with Casey Hudson (Director)
http://venturebeat.com/2012/03/02/casey-hudson-bioware-co-created-mass-e…

“Fans want to make sure that they see things resolved, they want to get
some closure, a great ending. I think they’re going to get that.”

“Mass Effect 3 is all about answering all the biggest questions in the
lore, learning about the mysteries and the Protheans and the Reapers,
being able to decide for yourself how all of these things come to an
end.”

Interviewer: “So are you guys the creators or the stewards of the franchise?”
Hudson: “Um… You know, at this point, I think we’re co-creators with
the fans. We use a lot of feedback.”

Interview with Casey Hudson (Director)
http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/10/mass1525-effec…

Interviewer: [Regarding the numerous possible endings of Mass Effect 2] “Is that
same type of complexity built into the ending of Mass Effect 3?”
Hudson: “Yeah, and I’d say much more so, because we have the ability to
build the endings out in a way that we don’t have to worry about
eventually tying them back together somewhere. This story arc is
coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot
more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many
decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that
stuff. It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings,
where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got
ending A, B, or C…..The endings have a lot more sophistication and
variety in them.”

“We have a rule in our franchise that there is no canon. You as a player
decide what your story is.”

EDIT: Couple more interesting quotes I found, enjoy……or not.

Mike Gamble (Associate Producer)
http://www.nowgamer.com/news/1027650/mass_effect_3_reapers_can_win_biowa…

Mass Effect 3 will shake up the player’s moral choices more than ever
before, even going so far as allowing the Reapers to win the battle
for Earth, according to BioWare’s community representative Mike
Gamble.

In an inteview with NowGamer at Gamescom, we asked if BioWare was taking risks with Mass Effect 3’s
plot, including a negative ending in which the Reapers win. Gamble simply said, “Yes”. We asked him again to confirm what he had just said and he said, “Yes”.

Mike Gamble (Associate Producer)
http://www.nowgamer.com/features/1229983/mass_effect_3_developer_intervi…

“Of course you don’t have to play multiplayer, you can choose to play
all the side-quests in single-player and do all that stuff you’ll
still get all the same endings and same information, it’s just a
totally different way of playing”

Casey Hudson (Director)
http://gamescatalyst.com/2012/03/casey-hudson-kinect-the-future-of-inter…

“The whole idea of Mass Effect3 is resolving all of the biggest questions, about the Protheons and
the Reapers, and being in the driver’s seat to end the galaxy and all
of these big plot lines, to decide what civilizations are going to
live or die: All of these things are answered in Mass Effect 3.”

Casey Hudson (Director)
http://www.computerandvideogames.com/336331/interviews/mass-effect-3-we-…

“There is a huge set of consequences that start stacking up as you approach the end-game. And
even in terms of the ending itself, it continues to break down to
some very large decisions. So it’s not like a classic game ending
where everything is linear and you make a choice between a few things
- it really does layer in many, many different choices, up to the
final moments, where it’s going to be different for everyone who
plays it.”

EDIT: Thanks to Skidrow-Garrett for pointing out another mystifying quote or two. It seems Bioware worked for years on the ending and are really pleased with it. I think it makes new DLC to address all the concerns less likely, unfortunately.

Ray Muzyka (Co-Founder of Bioware)
http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/the-doctors-from-biowar…

“I just finished an end to end playthrough, for me the ending was the
most satisfying of any game I’ve ever played….the decisions you make in
this game are epic,”

“The team has been planning
for this for years, since the beginning of the Mass Effect franchise.
Largely the same team, most of the same leads have worked on this for
years and years. They’ve thought about [the ending] for years and years.
It’s not something they’ve had to solve in a week or a month even, but
over the course of five or ten years.”

Spoilers galore.
==========

If you’ve finished the game, like most franchise fans, you’re probably appalled and confused by the ending. Or maybe you aren’t. Or you’ve latched onto Indoctrination Theory as an alternative explanation. Whatever the case, this thread is to discuss the ending and what Bioware might do or ought to do going forward.

Personally, I can break down my problems with the ending into the following components:

1. Artistically incongruous

The franchise is about choice and agency. As you galvanize friends and allies along the way, you assemble a personal and political team of friends and allies who you greatly care about, and whose inclusion or exclusion dramatically affects events.

Or not.

You could have assembled the full spectrum of allies or alienated everyone - your ending options would still be the same, so long as you have a high enough EMS rating to access the three options and get a successful outcome. In every outcome, the Mass Effect relays are destroyed, so the entire universe and game world as we know it has been disconnected if not obliterated.

Even if through space magic the explosion of relays hasn’t destroyed surrounding planets (contra established lore), all the species are isolated. The genophage reversal, Quarrian solution, broader alliances - all irrelevant. And everyone on a ruined and isolated Earth, as well as the fleet stranded above, will die of hunger.

Finally, except for one of the 16 possible endings (which are 95% the same in terms of art assets), Shepard is dead no matter what.

Thematically a betrayal of the franchise and narrative non-sequitur

The games emphasize the opportunity for tolerance and inter-species co-existence. They offer compelling dialogue around racism, stereotyping, and genocide. As such, you have overcome deep historical and personal difference between humans and other species, and between other species themselves, to forge friendships and alliances.

But as it turns out, you just got punked. Co-existence is impossible and Bioware is literally space Hitler.

The Child asserts that synthetics can never be trusted in the long run and will always betray their creators. That you might have just brokered a peace between Geth and Quarrians, learned that the Geth were the real victims, and that you can totally trust EDI - all thanks to Bioware - never enters Bioware’s final equation. The hate and bloodshed and betrayal is inevitable despite everything you have done and seen the past five years, so too bad for you.

Moreover, how the fuck did the series suddenly become about organics versus synthetics in the first place? That was one side theme affecting one race. The Reapers certainly never prattled on about the matter. It’s like the writers wrote another, redundant, ending to The Matrix, 9 to 12-year-olds’ edition, and forgot what the hell story they’re supposed to finish.

Galling and flagrant self-contradictions

The Child is so concerned about synthetics betraying and killing organics that he created a quasi-synthetic race to kill organics every 50,000 years. Yes, feel free to let your mind explode. Why not just direct the Reapers to take out the synthetics whenever they cause trouble? Why allow the species to develop (using the relay technology) to a point where they can create such synthetics in the first place?

Moreover, The Child is himself an AI - an AI that assures you he has the best interests of organics at heart, even though he says organics can never trust AI. And according to his own logic - “the creators are always betrayed by the created” - his Casper white little ass should have been chomped up and spat out by Reapers at some point in the trillions of years he’s been using them.

Abandonment of established lore

Remember the last two games? Well, don’t. If Casper the genocidal space ghost “is” the Citadel, as he claims, then Bioware has just made nonsense out of their own IP. After all, why can’t he let the Reapers through the all-important Citadel relay himself if he runs it? So much for the lore about the Protheans finding a way to alter the signal so that Keepers can’t help the Reapers - none of that is of any relevance if the Citadel is actually the father of the Reapers.

All your space homies are cowards.

The ending scene includes Joker furiously trying to escape the blast in the Normandy. He crashlands on a planet and, depending on you whether you chose synthesis, he and EDI or he and your love interest and one of your squadmates exit the ship, serenely and quietly look around, with EDI and Joker smiling widely as they look forward to their first cyberfuck. So while you were getting hit with a beam to save the galaxy, which is now in complete ruin, your crew ran in the other direction, had enough time to reach the Normandy, booked it and are now taking in the sights.

Shepard used to drive the ass-kicking train of pain. Now he takes the short bus.

“Hi, I’m Commander Shepard, and for 100 hours, I’ve taken bullshit from no one, defied everyone in my belief of the Reaper threat, and stood alone in my ability to confront it.

“Wait, did I just say that? Lol just kidding.”

An AI takes the form of a child lifted directly from Shepard’s head, and he’s cool with that. The AI makes hilariously bullshit contradictory assertions, and he’s cool with that, too. The two options the AI endorses - Synthesis and Control - mindfucked Saren and IM, respectively, but hey, maybe it’s just impolite to ask questions when the fate of the fucking universe is on the line.

Also, the pretty-looking option in the center of the room - synthesis - is about “combining synthetic and organic DNA”. That doesn’t sound anything like the Reapers, so no questions to ask there. And this whole setup was created by AI Kid, father of the Reapers, so there is clearly no reason for him to want to deceive Shepard and push him in that direction at all. Off we go!

—-

In conclusion, the ending is marked by undeserved nihilism, cynicism, nonsense, abandonment of in-game logic and lore and out-of-game common sense. A disaster of unprecedented proportions in gaming.

Why Indoctrination Theory is the answer

Any number of bewildered fans have found the 20+ minute video detailing the case for IT - and found it pretty damn convincing.

Now, do I think Bioware is playing us in an ultra-meta troll where the player base is effectively “indoctrinated” a la Shepard into believing they’ve seen the end? No: that is possibly but highly unlikely. More likely is that the team couldn’t agree on an ending or lazily left in assets from an earlier ending that was IT.

But motivations aside, it is the only coherent explanation of what happened. Putting aside the numerous inconsistencies in the end sequence that could be chalked up to developer sloppiness as much as dream logic, here are the crucial pieces of evidence:

1. When The Child speaks, male and female Shepard’s voices pan from the speakers. That can only be a choice by design.

2. The two choices of which The Child approves are the same choices that caused the indoctrination of Saren (synthesis) and Illusive Man (control). And having made either of those choices, Shepard’s eyes turn to the color of indoctrination.

3. The only ending where Shepard appears alive is the one where you choose the “destroy” option and have a high enough EMS rating. And you appear to be in the rubble in London - where you fell before the game’s ending sequence took place, and, by implication, where you never left.

4. As an AI, there’s no explanation as to why The Child presents itself as, well, the child of your nightmares, the centerpiece of your guilt. In fact, looking up the Indoctrination codex entry in-game, all the key markers - hallucinations, headaches, false images designed to play to your weaknesses - take place in the ending or elsewhere in the game.

5. The Rachni queen uses a very specific phrase to describe the indoctrination that occurred to her species - images that appeared “as oily shadows.” There couldn’t be a more apt phrase to describe the shadows in Shepard’s dream sequence.

Beating a Dead Shepard: The Mass Effect 3 Ending Sucks
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by AbsoluteDeicide on March 27, 2012 at 09:45 AM
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It seems like you can’t look a webpage without being bombarded with nerd hate for the ending of Mass Effect 3. As a matter of fact the other day right on my homepage, Yahoo, there was the story of the disgruntled gamer who went to the FTC because he felt he had been lied to by Bioware. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of posts that share similar views as what I am going to say, so why bother? And why here? Well, I’m taking the time to share my personal view for my own piece of mind more than anything as I realize most people have made up their mind on the subject by now and nothing I’m going to say will sway anyone one way or the other. I’ve chose Game Informer as my outlet because I honestly couldn’t tell you how long I’ve been a member here (this is my second name), I think it has one of the best communities around, and I think the dual nature of how the matter has been handled (see the review, versus the very even handed podcast, versus the virtually unanimous distaste for the way fans voiced their opinion makes it a good place to weigh in.

I need to start with some personal history with the series for perspective. The first Mass Effect is hands down the best RPG of this console generation. I’ve probably spent more time with that game than Oblivion, Skyrim, and Fallout 3 combined (and I spent way more time with those games than is healthy for anyone). It’s basically a sci-fi nerd’s wet dream: take the action of Star Wars, the exploration of Star Trek, mix in some heady but believable theories about space travel, and set it in a universe with as much depth, detail, and history as Middle Earth. Gameplay-wise you’ve got the shooting mechanics of Gears of War mixed with the tactical decisions of KOTOR, loads of level based loot and upgrades, a massive universe to explore, and a hardcore RPG mentality overlayed on top of everything. I’ve also never experienced a better story in my many years of gaming; the pace is pitch perfect, it’s full of sublety and symbolism that makes multiple playthroughs almost mandatory, and throws major twists at you as if it’s as easy as taking a breath (one of which asks you to contemplate the meaning of life; a tough feat in any medium). It’s mind-boggling just to think about. If there ever was a game I could consider perfect and would not hesitate to give a 10 out of 10 to, Mass Effect is that game.

Then Mass Effect 2 came out. I won’t go as far to say the second game is bad, but it’s certainly not great. One of the first sequences in the game has your Commander Shepard dying and being ressurected. You know you’re in trouble; once you’ve made the concept of death something that’s temporary and reversable in your fiction, everything before and afterward is rendered meaningless and silly.

Much of what made the first game such a standout had been stripped away completely or altered to the point of being trivial. What we’re left with is a run-of-the-mill third person shooter with hours of cutscences. This could be forgiveable if either element was outstanding, but the shooting portions are clunky, awkward, and linear and the story is incredibly weak. The high concept epic that the first game so expertly set up is all but abandoned in favor of a paper thin cheap B movie that would be at home being mocked by MST3K. The vast majority of game time is spent doing what would be considered minor side missions in the first game that aren’t done with nearly the level of tact. Anything that would be emotionally or intellectually poignant is beaten over your head repeatedly until you just don’t care anymore. I really didn’t want to rant about why I didn’t care for this game and instead just provide a link to a post I made at Bioware directly after playing it, but after about a half hour of searching I couldn’t find it so I’ll just leave it at that. I was disappointed enough by Mass Effect 2 that I was not even going to play the third game or at the very most buy it dirt cheap and used just to see if any redemption could be found.

After my major misgivings about the direction the series was heading but being swayed by overwhemingly positive review scores as well as promises from the developers of giving closure to the story (such as this and the now infamous GI quote) I was pleasantly surprised that the third game is actually quite enjoyable. Most of the complaints I had from the previous game were at least addressed to some degree and even if I wouldn’t classify the game as a “classic” in the sense the original was, it’s at least worthy as a sequel. Again, I’m not going to get into too much detail here (I may write a review at a later date if I feel compelled to revisit the game), but the main problem which is painfully clear to many people is the ending.

As I neared the climax of Mass Effect 3, I was already picturing in my head how once the credits rolled I was going to get up from my seat, run my finger over my game collection until I found Mass Effect 1 and 2, pulled them out and placed them in order where they belonged next to my console, then play the series from beginning to end exactly as I had envisioned five years ago. Yes, all signs pointed to a coming twist in the final moments of the game that would make even the loathed middle chapter of the trilogy at least playable. The build up was promising and well designed, I was waiting for the “aha!” moment that hadn’t been felt since the second act of the first game, this was going to justify the perfect review scores and put EA/Bioware back in the good graces of gamers everywhere because they had, after all, promised something substantial for the finale and despite the negative perception the company had earned recently they couldn’t outright lie like that, right?

Then it happened. Or rather, it didn’t happen. If you asked me what I thought the worst possible way to end the game I could up with, I don’t think I could dream something nearly as anticlimatic or uninspired as what I witnessed. If you live under a cave and haven’t seen it yet, here you go:

It’s hard to convey to someone with little or no knowledge of or experience with the previous games how much of a letdown and cop out this turned out to be. If Mass Effect 2 was your starting point for the series or if you just ignored that “3” on the end of title and picked the game up out of curiosity or the massive marketing blitz by EA I can see not getting what the big deal is about. I can’t imagine the game made much sense to you beyond being a sci-fi shooter with some RPG elements, but I can see saying, “that was good”, putting the game away and moving on. That’s exactly what I did, too, and that’s why it sucks.

To me the outrage many people are expressing is certainly warrented. Even with my lowered expectations from the previous game the ending is a slap in the face. There’s a common misconception that fans are demanding some perfect, happy, fairy tale ending with sunshines and rainbows. I can’t speak for everyone, but I could care less about that. Even if every ending possible resulted in various degrees of misery and annihilation for Shepard, his crew, and the universe I think the discontent would be more contained if it was well written and fit with the rest of the lore. I could even look past the fact that I was outright lied to, being told I have any kind choice about how the story ended if there was some kind of last minute hail mary that contained a explosive moment of brilliance that salvaged the outright sloppiness of the final ten minutes or so and ended the series on a high note. None of that happens. We’re left with a mediocre catch 22 that doesn’t want to commit to or dismiss anything that was foreshadowed and hinted at previously.

Now there’s no shortage of discussions and theories about what the ending actually “means” (most popularly the Indoctrination Theory), but I’m of the firm belief that these people are looking too deep into an incredibly shallow pool. Yes, there is symbolism in the ending, but it’s very heavy handed and not hidden very well. Watching the end you’d have to be blind to not see the Reapers trying to Indoctrinate Shepard (the “black wavy lines” effect is pretty prominent), but if there are any red herrings beyond that we’re now on a slippery slope that could only make a bad ending even worse.

If the ending is “fake” and the real one is coming via DLC, now what? Are the players who liked the original ending going to be upset? Are the ones who were disgusted with the outcome going to fork over more money to a company they feel cheated by to have closure (if you’re in this camp, please don’t)? Are the theorists going to pat themselves on the back because they were right all along (though I’d say it wasn’t a very good trick if it was immediately called out)? Personally, I just don’t care anymore. The series has taken me on such a bumpy ride of ups and downs that now that I’ve said my piece I’m done with it.
Filed under: mass effect 3

Kellye's picture

Will I buy an ending DLC?

Are the ones who were disgusted with the outcome going to fork over more money to a company they feel cheated by to have closure (if you’re in this camp, please don’t)?” - Anonymous

If this was all just a PR stunt and the real ending is coming out via DLC, then yes, I will pay more money to have closure. Not even grudgingly, since I have a good job and can easily afford any expansion that was cheaper than the game itself. That being said, I think it would be a better idea for Bioware at this point to release the DLC for free, since they’ve basically alienated their entire fanbase.

Not only would I buy a DLC expansion, I’m still planning to buy Dragon Age 3 too. Used though, since I will have to hear positive reviews of it - FAN reviews - before I will buy a Bioware game new again.

My problem is not that Bioware screwed up - everybody screws up - it’s that as of today they have only made nebulous promises to fix it. If they don’t address this properly at PAX, there are *tons* of fans that are just going to throw their hands up with the whole situation, and reject the Mass Effect franchise entirely.

I don’t want to be one of those people. I want to be able to keep playing the games that I love (unlike Anonymous, I enjoyed all three of them unilaterally, and Mass Effect 2 was my favorite). I just want Bioware to write an ending worthy of the epic they created. Considering I’ve spent almost $200 in the game and over a hundred hours, I really don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s not like a movie with a crap ending where you’ve only wasted $8 and an hour and a half of your life.

As I’ve read it put elsewhere, we can get some of our money back on Mass Effect, but there is no refund on emotional investment. And since emotional investment is where these games shine, that’s what hurts worse than anything.

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