On Mass Effect 3: Partially Digested Edition

With now over a week having passed since I first completed Mass Effect 3, I’ve had some time to process both the content and my reaction to it. Since there’s one particular element that likes to stand out, I’ll go about tackling that first, if more for my own peace of mind than anything. As the previous post, this one contains massive spoilers, and adds several more paragraphs; you have been warned.

My opinion of the ending hasn’t really changed all that much in the past week – I still think it’s pretty terrible, though I respect that there are people who disagree (just as I personally thought Dragon Age II was brilliant in spite of its many detractors and flaws); what has changed is that I’m in a better position to observe just where, how and why the ending ceased to work for me.

It’s important to note that up until Anderson dying, I was still totally on board which what was going on. I had my first feeling something was amiss with the red beam, I suppose, seeing how at any other point in the game those very same events would’ve resulted in nothing but a failure state. I’ll admit that for awhile I wasn’t sure whether what I was seeing was the intended path or just an extended showcase of how I’d failed at the very last minute due to some consequence I’d failed to foresee. Hadn’t I been fast enough on the sprint button? Had I brought the wrong people? Had I amassed too small a force? Had I missed something critical and now doomed my squadmates and the entire galaxy to death by Reaper?

But that wasn’t the point of failure, and in spite of the appearance of both Anderson and the Illusive man (and his sudden body-controlling powers that clearly weren’t just tied into your implants) seeming quite the contrievance, I was perfectly willing to accept these events on the terms that the Illusive man was effectively a stand-in for Saren, and that the dialogue I was having was a reprise of the battle of wills and the conflict between hope and despair that had marked the original conversation back in Mass Effect 1.

By the time I was having the final conversation with Anderson it was pretty clear that if I ever had had the chance to save him, it had come and gone, and I was fine with that. One final loss, one last mistake made during the grand journey of Kate Shepard. I saw before me a bittersweet victory of hope bought with the death of CaptainAdmiral Anderson, and it seemed like a poignant end to an epic.

Unfortunately… that’s not where it ended at all, and in hindsight it’s perhaps fitting that the peace was broken by Admiral Hackett essentially telling me that my ending had failed utterly.

I started smelling some kind of attempted metaphor from the moment the holographic platform of light started raising the unconcious Kate Shepard upwards. By the time the star child had delivered the metaphor and my options in full, I was simply staring at the screen with my thoughts bouncing somewhere between “Are You Kidding Me?” and “The hell, BioWare?”. By the time the bizzare space magic lightshow started I was already so ejected from the events taking place that the Normandy’s frantic escape seemed less like an odd plot contrivance and more like an odd non sequitor theatre, like I was watching a blooper reel rather than actual story.

When I started seeing squadmates exit the wrecked Normandy it actually seemed curiously fitting because they seemed every bit as mystified about the chain of events as I felt.

In essence, the problem is that I simply don’t buy it – neither their provided metaphor nor their means of delivering it. Nor do I buy the options I’m presented with – it’s not that I find it difficult to pick an option because it’s a hard choice but rather that I find it difficult to pick one because they all seem so constructed and lacking in any suitable frame of reference to the events otherwise happening.

So these are our choices – we can elect to destroy the Reapers and their technology (ie: Citadel, Mass Relays) and free the galaxy from the order they impose… but this will randomly also knock out some technology (Synthetic life forms like EDI and the Geth, and part synthetic life forms like Shepard) but not other technology for the sake of… preventing it from being the obvious good ending, I guess? We can also merge ourselves with the order and… somehow, through the power of green space effects… make all life, both synthetic and organic, into part synthetic and part organic (aside: what about new life that evolves after this event? is that somehow affected by residue green space effects too or is it basically screwed from the get go?) because this somehow makes everything better. Oh and the Mass Relays break down anyway. Or we can impose our own order over that of the reapers in the ending that curiously make the most sense with what’s been established so far, effectively swapping the tyranny of the Reapers with the one of whatever order Shepard would chose to impose upon galactic life. Again no Mass Relays, but the ShepardGod would be in a position to rebuild them to impose a new relay-based order if the ShepardGod so chose.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize what the attempted metaphor is trying to say, and I don’t think it is inherently broken at its core; the Deus Ex series of games tend towards a very similar metaphor that tends to go the same way: either we impose order and control on technology/information, merge freely with it in the hopes that the resulting transhumans will be enlightened enough to make it a better future, or we tear it all down because we’ll all feel safer when all we have to concern ourselves with is our immediate surrounding and future and won’t have to contemplate great questions such as why people on the internet are so mean.

And here’s the thing – I quite like the Deus Ex series of games, and as much as I can decry the middle child of Invisible War as being every bit as crap as everyone says, the endings were never what was wrong with it. Heck, I was perfectly happy with merging all humans together with the JC Denton/Helios AI construct in a perfect, consensus-based democracy built on free and absolute exchange of information. Heck, as silly as I thought the buttonmatic end-o-tron machine at the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was, and how cheap it seemed that the resulting ending was the exact same reel with different voiceovers, I never minded the actual intent of the ending there either. I happily had Adam Jensen wander over to the end-o-tron and press the button to let the well-intending but sometimes misguided David Sarif give me the better future that he envisioned.

But, and here’s the key things, those are Deus Ex games – transhumanism and human-technology interaction is the very core essence of them from start to end. All three of those games are basically one long metaphor culminating in the ending of your choice, broken up by moments of dialogue, shooting and puzzle solving. They will continously throw different perspectives and observations of their metaphor at you during the entire game until you finally decide where you stand at the very end.

Mass Effect was never that for me in any way, shape or form. The metaphor doesn’t come across to me as some kind of deep extension of the struggles or ideological challenges I’ve faced up to that point, it just falls flat as some attempt at trying to insert a conundrum that is only tangentally related to the events at hand. Heck, as far as my games went, the question of whether Synthetics and Organics could live side by side without one side automatically annihilating the other was already answered back in Mass Effect 2 with the answer quite clearly being “Yes, they can.” and then being relegated to only a byproduct of the larger concern of whether diverse people and species can work together and the value of diversity and self-determination over homogenization and one-size-fits-all.

And even then, more than metaphors, it was about characters. About individuals who went through all hell together and had eachothers backs when no one else would. Up until Anderson dying, that was what the game was about to me – regardless of whether his death was his final sacrifice to aid my Shepard or my Shepard’s final failure to protect someone that mattered to her.

It’s not about how the ending was bleak – some of my favorite memories from Mass Effect 3 involve characters I cared about (Mordin, Anderson, Legion… heck even Thane) dying because of how much those endings touched me, and even though I do know there’s a way to keep Mordin alive, I doubt I’d ever chose it because I’d much rather see him go out resolving his past and happily imagining what kind of interesting tests he could run on seashells than know he’ll slowly fade away a broken man plagued with guilt. They’re far from my only favorite moments, but they’re definitely among them.

It’s not about having to make difficult choices either: one of my outstanding and strongest memories of Mass Effect 1 will forever be when the game forced me to choose between Kaidan Alenko and Ashley Williams, much due to the context within which I had to make that choice. I’d left Kaidan with the bomb, and he was the higher ranking officer, so he was the logical choice to save, but… he was also someone that Kate Shepard had expressed quite a bit of interest in and was really looking forward to spending some time on shore leave with. On the other hand, Kate had also had formed a fairly solid friendship with Ash, which left me in the moral quandry of whether it was fair or ethical to save Kaidan as there were clearly ulterior motives involved.

Looking back, I think it took me something like a quarter hour before I finally chose to go back for Kaidan and leaving Ash to die, and though I nowadays know to expect the choice, decide on it beforehand and take it without hesitation, I always felt the Virmire survivor was a that much more valuable character to me because I had to pay the life of one character to preserve another.

In the end, my largest issue is that the ending simply does not follow. It made the rest of the game seem incredible futile to me – not because the ending tore down the metaphorical house I spent the rest of the game building, but because the ending told me that the bricks I’d used to build said metaphorical house were actually live velociraptors.

I reject their presented metaphor and by result also reject their ending; all the strange plot contrivances from the oddly circular reasoning behind the Reapers to Joker’s frantic escape from the glorious magical space light to the incredible things said magical space light was capable of accomplishing are related to but ultimately secondary to that fact. Good or ill, I had expected – and wanted – an ending that was about character, not about some greater metaphor that I ultimately answered a whole game ago which only remained open in any form because some large space jerks decided that wide scale murder was a better answer and wouldn’t consider alternatives until I’d first given them a solid kick in the tentacles. I’d wanted a resolution that was about Shepard, about his or her friends and allies, foes and enemies; something that gave closure to the story I followed, rather than something that arbitrarily answered what colour of space explosions it takes for Joker and EDI to be able to have adorable robot babies.

Wasn’t there something in Mass Effect about the importance of self-determination? Why, in the very end, are we relying on solutions given to us when much of the point with the struggle was how we had a right to take each step for ourselves?

Make no mistake, though – I understand that there are some people who felt the metaphor provided made perfect sense for their experience, and if people loved the ending then that’s great. Like I stated at the beginning, I personally thought Dragon Age II was brilliant in spite of its flaws and the many voices decrying it as terrible, and I respect that some people similarly don’t find the Mass Effect 3 ending nearly as terrible as I do, and that’s great.

Nor do I think that BioWare are absolutely required to change things (but nor are they required not to; the outcome woudln’t be without precedent); sure, their pre-release claims about the nature of the ending don’t quite seem to line up to what we got in all that many ways, but seeing how BioWare PR has typically been about as factual about the nature of their final product as any hype ever produced by Peter Molyneux, I’m not entirely sure why anyone’s surprised there.

That said, if a whole lot of people are disappointed, and they don’t feel their concerns are addressed, then they’re also fully within their rights not to pursue future offerings from the brand, developer and/or publisher either until they feel it be worth it. It’s no different from not getting hardware of a brand you’ve had bad experiences with (or heard bad things of), avoiding a store where you’ve recieved bad service or avoiding a restaurant where you didn’t think the meals were very good.

Would I like an ending more in tune with what I’d expected? Yes, definitely. Am I going to expect them to add one? No, not really. But I do recognize that this ending, and however BioWare chooses to handle the fallout, will shape a whole lot of opinions of both them and their future offerings – mine included. Rather than trying to make demands or predictions, I think I’ll simply leave it at I’ll be quite curious to see what actually comes out of the fallout.


16 Responses to “On Mass Effect 3: Partially Digested Edition”

  1. 1 Eliza Scarlet
    March 20, 2012 at 14:53

    In an essence, you basically experienced the ending the exact same way that I did. I was also left wondering if there was some key decisions that I had missed, if there was a certain object that I failed to find, if there was a choice I should’ve considered better.

    To find that I took the quick route and simply googled and poured through what I could find, which eventually led me to simply get the galactic readiness to 100%, if but to see an additional cut-scene, which basically left me as empty as the prior one did.

    Alright, I thought, these choices are blatantly horrid, and I agreed with myself that I never expected BioWare to lob this in my face. Yet I nonetheless went about trying to complete the game with my paragon FemShep after having played through first with my renegade FemShep. But I haven’t even quite finished that yet, due to a whole other problem that smacked me equally hard in the stomach: the half-arsed done story about Thane Krios.

    For those who’ve yet to see a “culmination” of a Thane-FemShep romance, this is in a sense spoilery.

    In short, the horribly half-finished story about Thane Krios where ABSOLUTELY no one of the crew even vaguely, remotely, barely or even scarcely comment on his untimely (though obviously inevitable) demise, and my FemShep making ABSOLUTELY NO indication afterward of expressing sorrow over that fact, well, it simply screamed “RUSHED STUFF LOLZ”.

    Afterward the whole ending choices struck me even more as rushed, seeing as how not only that left me empty, but now also the Thane Krios storyline.

    Consequently, I would echo the same train of thought of whether or not I’ll even bother with another BioWare game, if this is what they offer me. And make no mistake, ever since KotOR I I’ve been a big fan of their products, and Mass Effect was no less dear to me.

    But, crikey, how I hate that one company’s trail of games can affect me this deeply. Leaves one wondering if one shouldn’t just let such epics alone, when the outcome can be devastating. And bugger it all for even having said effect.

    I wanna be entertained. Not bent over and buggered. No way I’d pay for that for real, anyroad.

  2. 2 Coragon
    March 21, 2012 at 12:46

    This sounds very much like my own feelings about the ending. 99% of ME3 rocked, the last % wasnt….ME at all. And it continues to surprise me that Bioware could think it was. Rushed or not, new writers or not, they should have seen this coming.

    This is the story about “the shepard” and in the last moments they pretty much say its not about him/her at all, and then they’re surprised when people are upset? Mind-boggling, because Bioware is generally a very competent bunch of game-developers.

    Ever since I finished my first playthrough I’ve been thinking if I did the right choice, in preparation for my 2nd playthrough. I chose red, and I’ve thoroughly analyzed “why?” in my head. Red is the only option that destroys the geth and EDI, which also destroys a part of my heart, because I hate making Legion’s sacrifice for nothing, and I hate destroying EDI. The statement that it also kills Shep because he/she is part synthetic prooves false however if you have enough war assets, which again prooves that Shepard really isnt a synthetic lifeform, or even a half-synthetic lifeform. He/she is still an organic, patched up by a few synthetic pieces(metal to the spine, implants etc. Not really a half-robot).

    Blue seemed like a better option at first. It was colour-coded blue so I thought “paragon!”, but then I saw the illusive man, thought about his motivations and if my Shep could really be trusted with godly powers, godly powers that would also destroy him in the process. Despite my Shep being paragon I had doubts, and I didnt come up here, having to watch Anderson die and walk through an army of reapers and their minions to have the reapers SURVIVE, while I become some sort of Skynet wannabe that can apparantly control alien lifeforms that are a million times older and more advanced then me. In short: I didnt buy it.

    The middle choice, Synthesis, was easy to dismiss. Not only is the starchild outright wrong in his statement that synthetics and organics cant live together peacefully, but he was, to me, wrong in assuming that “merging” the two would create some sort of magic happy happy land. The specifics of the option are vague(as with every option), but I dont see why half-synthetics would stop creating fully synthetics anyway. Also, again, the reapers survive. This time you dont even have control of them, they just hover off. Reliable? Hell no. Turning everyone in the galaxy into half-cyborgs AND having the reapers survive and just fly off. By far the worst choice.

    So why did I choose red? In the end, because the red option was the only option that felt like it was in line with the rest of the game. It was the only option that I felt was the intended path of Shepard, the whole deal with the crucible. The goal to me was always trying to stop the reapers, destroying them somehow. The red option is the only one that actually achieves what the game was to me originally setting out to do, and the only option that didnt feel like some vague haze of falsely built-security by letting the reapers live. I did not WANT to let the reapers live. They are -incredibly- intelligent and powerful dreadnought AI’s that can mind-control entire civilisations. I dont feel comfortable letting them exist, even if it is under some disguise of control.
    The sacrifices were heavy, I hate letting the geth and EDI go, but in the end, that is what sort of felt like it was the right path. No “good choices” should be made easily, and adding some sacrifice to it felt right.
    As for the Starchilds bull on it not being really a solution…I can take that. First I dont think he knows what he’s talking about. He seems to have a very stubborn mindset and I doubt the Geth and the quarians were the first organic and synthetics that got along in the millions upon millions of years of galactic society before them. I dont buy the magic conclusion that they always have to end up in conflict, it seems pulled out of his arse, and more a judgement based on his own experiences of the reapers then anything else.
    In short: The red option was the only one that actually felt like a “win” to me, and something in line with Shep’s previous goals, previous experiences and his previous path. It was the only choice somehow “attuned” to the rest of the game.

    Red is also the option that allows Shep to live, but that was just a bonus. I was content with the ending before I saw the “breath” scene, it felt right. Shep surviving feels better.

    So I guess my point with all this is that I’ve digested things as well and come to the conclusion that I dont think ME3s ending is really god-awful. It is still severly lacking however, and feels very out of context with Shepard and his/hers experiences. Not to mention the huge plotholes, that are still there. I -really- want to know where Normandy is, how my crew-mates are doing and why they were taking the charon relay in the first place.

    • 3 Nhani
      March 21, 2012 at 13:48

      For me how terrible it is depends entirely on how you judge it. As the final beats to a character story, it’s poor at best and utterly incomprehensible at worst. As a closing metaphor I guess it kind of exists, but I wouldn’t call it good exactly. It does flashy visual effects and protagonist death though, and leaves infamous room for “lots of speculation” so there is that, I guess.

      Honestly the more I look at it, the Mass Effect 3 ending seems to me like it is an ending the same way a gas giant is a star. It’s as if during the confrontation between Luke Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine would suddenly have torn off his own face to reveal a python and followed that up with saying “What is the riddle of steel, Skywalker?!”.

      For the record I picked the Synthesis ending first because it was the metaphor that seemed most fitting metaphor out of the limited selection and was greeted with an utterly nonsensical chain of events. I went “huh.” I reloaded and tried again with the destroy ending to see what changed and found out that barely anything did. I once more went “huh.” and then resolved to just Alt-F4 after Anderson dies in future playthroughs because nothing after that even bothers trying to make sense.

  3. 4 Meglivorn
    March 21, 2012 at 15:35

    Despite all of my previous arguments, I agree completly with this post πŸ™‚ And watching the happenings since, I think I can see where this whole ending thing went wrong, starting with the dealdline rush, the fact that at november the leaders still didn’t know what to do with it (from Casey Hudson and Mac Walters comments).
    Also, I think there is a serious non-sync (uh, how to word this in english) between the writers/producers and the fans. They said that the “fans needed more closure”. And there is alot of endings, becouse oupr pervious decisions are comcluded and thruout the game there are many endings and closure. Like you kill the querains, the geth or broker a peace between them the endings already tripled and you had a closure… yea, the only sad part that the real endings simply erase this or make pointless. Also, they really think this was “a non-forgetable, uplifting and hopeful ending”… non-forgetable, right but I really can’t see the hopeful and uplifting part.
    And yep, I join the alt+F4 at Anderson dies part. Not becouse I don’t like or don’t want to try to make sense of the ending but simply, becouse it’s anti-climatic and boring. The ending of ME2 was essentially a movie too from the moment the human reaper falls down. The run out of the base, The Jump, the flying escape from the explosion, and after the reapers awakening… yet I watch the fraps video from time to time becouse it’s great. This is not.

    I’m not that radical that I reject all of the ending. I’m perfectly fine with Shepard dead, I even accept the Colorful Magical Light. I just want to know, that my friends will be all right, and the alliances I managed to make had some point, and the people of the galaxy will be all right. Doesn’t have to see it. I want, but I accept if I don’t. I only want to be sure about that. Becouse it’s important, as much than the fact of the breaking cycle.
    I know, I had some argument before. Some “art student” part of my brain still saying those lines. That the reaper tech have to be gone, that the galaxy is now in a brand new age, and walks a path never before and how great is that… But as the time goes and the days fly, my other part, the one want to see all of them again (and for me that’s the main reason I played the game, not the shooter bits), the one who – whatever ridiculous it is for a fictional character – cares and love them, want to be sure. Absolutely sure. So my compromise is, that I want only the relays destruction gone. With that tiny piece erase, everything is ok for me. No need to the strange escape of the Normandy, I know that Tali will be home and have her house, I know that Wrex will be a great father and later a very funny grandfather. Liara goes back to be the Shadow Broker, becouse the rebuild needs her information network and she can help a lot with that, and she also write her book about the real Protheans. And somehow I have no doubt that the next primarch of the turians will be named Garrus Vakarian πŸ˜€
    Heh… I wandered away a bit…. sorry.

    Oh, one note about the 3 endings. I watched all three of them the night I actually finished the game. And I have to admit I did smile once. In the synthesis version, when Joker comes out of the ship, help EDI step down the rock as a true gentleman, and they fold together for the “gazing to the future” scene… Call me an old romantic fool but they were simply cute. And that image I want to keep.

    So, I watch with great interest what this uprising will achive, and what will the consequences be. Not like it’s without precedence in the history of entertaintment, but I have never seen such uprising for a game. It’s really interesting, and somehow I feel that whatever the end will be, Bioware did something really great with the Mass Effect series, to stir up such emotions πŸ™‚

  4. 5 dallanna
    March 21, 2012 at 19:41

    I think the problem was, from various sources I’ve read, that they ran out of time and they thought they could pull a Stanley Kubrick and get away with it. Guess not.

    And the gaming press and Bioware itself doesn’t seem to making it any better with all the condescension by claiming that the criticism is the same as entitlement.

    • 6 Ellessar
      April 27, 2012 at 19:54

      Oh god yes. How I hate that attitude of the press. That we, the fans, are only feeling entitled.
      To that I say f*ck em. They didnot deliver what they promised. If you buy a product in a store e.g. a vacuumcleaner, and it turns out to be a leafblower (stupid example I know but they usually get the point across the best) then you have a right to feel ‘entitled’ and complain.

  5. 7 Moria
    March 22, 2012 at 17:25

    I had to head-canon it. /sigh. Even if we accept that blowing up all of the relays doesn’t kill everyone in those systems (coughArrivalcough), then the starvation and resource issues that ARE going to kill billions of people are unacceptable in my mind. I personally cling to the Indoctrination Theory because it is the only way I can get a halfways decent ending, even if I had to create that ending myself. I know I’m not the only person who did this and it makes me wonder if ME3 will ultimately go down in history as the first game where the ending was truly created by the players instead of the company. I guess it depends on how the writers ultimately tackle ‘fixing’ and ‘clarifying’ the ending, and whether the fixes prove acceptable enough for people [i] who already created their own endings and had the time to become invested in them [/i] to adopt.

    As for me, if the Star-Child ending remains in there, then so far as I am concerned, Reth Shepard collapsed and the teammates she spent THREE GAMES collecting and strengthening finished the job. You’re right. It’s the people and the relationships you built that are what the game is truly about. In that case, and borrowing from Tolkien rather than Kubrick, what better way to end the game than by having your teammates, friends, step up and finish things when Shepard is too broken to do so. It’s still bittersweet. But it actually fits.

    (Oh, and I’m just curious. Am I the only person who head-canoned saving that kid at the beginning? I played the demo and that bit was just…unacceptable. So I had her biotically grab the boy and bring him along. His name is now Michael and he’s her adopted son. /grin.)

  6. March 24, 2012 at 01:06

    I was actively emotional for the deaths of squadmates. Halfway through my second playthrough, where somehow Major Kirrahe gets the hit instead of Thane who did the first time… I don’t remember Kirrahe very well, but I was sad to see him go. Legion going down with that fateful ‘I’ instead of ‘We’ really made me twitch, as did a few moments with my darling Tali.

    I can’t voice how much disappointment there was at the conclusion. I’m not sure if it’s the right way to say it, but I lost interest in the choices I was being given because they were just so… Irrelevant. I solved the problem of cohabitation with synthetics when EDI didn’t f* up my ship when she was unshackled, and not an hour or three earlier I’d just consigned the Geth and the Quarians to, quote, “do in weeks what would have taken us months” re: resettling Rannoch. I felt like that argument was buried with an elaborate grave, not just dealt with!

    Disconnected is how I felt, that’s a better word. And that’s all before I digested it and cringed at the barrage of bloody plotholes. So not only did I feel the ending was irrelevant by the end of ME3, I also didn’t feel like it had any integrity at all, nor do I think my Shepard would have swallowed the God-child’s absolute bull* at all, let alone so easily.

    Am I the only one who can scarcely believe that it’s the same writing team who wrote the 98% of ME3 that was their best work to date who wrote the ending sequence? I couldn’t believe it. In my own words, the only ones before flapping into bed post-completion:

    “Not sure if serious, BioWare.”

  7. 9 LoLDrood
    March 24, 2012 at 05:36

    Guess who just beat the game?
    Guess who is not pleased with it? I actually got more and more angry as the credits rolled. The credits music also sucked; perhaps the music composer shares our feelings..

    Thoughts as I read the post and comments, cause there’s too much to read to reply to coherently.

    I agree Nhani, re: being fine with the Anderson death and every up to majick floating Shep. Then my Bullshitdar went wibbly wobbly.
    Star Child God can lick my taint. Your options suck, your motivation is more retarded then the bad Final Fantasy bosses, and I HATE children in all forms. And I hate that there was supposed some connection between hoodie kid who kept reappearing in the X-Files dream sequences. Dumb, meandering, and hallmark bullshit of bad writing.
    The exiting crewmates reminds me of the part in Hitchhikers Guide, when Ford and Arthur are transported to prehistoric earth, after being written into a corner on the death ship. “Uuuuhhh…. fuck it, they are now somewhere else. Moving on!”
    ‘buttonmatic end-o-tron machine’ is now one of my favorite things ever.
    Regardless of my play-throughs in ME1, I always went back for the bomb. Ren or Para, Shep is always, always, “Mission comes First’ and I could never justify anyway she would not go back to the bomb.
    I’m not one who thinks Bioware ‘owes’ us a better ending, but it’s a safe bet that i’m going to be considerably more reluctant to open my wallet for any of their games ever again.
    …Although, I -do- think Bioware owes me money back for that face import bullshit. If I buy a toaster, and only after I get home and unpack it does a little note fall out saying, “btw, the toaster does not come with a power cord” I think I would be well within my rights to demand a refund. But I’m digressing, believe it or not.

    I hate it when sci-fi genres decide they need to get “deep”. If your story is ABOUT the human condition, then fine, have a metaphorical ending. It worked on BSG, because that show was a more traditional, “the future as a mirror to how we are right now” sci-fi setting. But Mass Effect was never that. Mass Effect was running and gunning, putting together a posse to buck the system, giving the Evil Space Cuttlefish the finger and telling them to swivel on it.
    The sudden jackknife into existential absolutism is just lazy. DS9 did this too, where the series goes from this:

    Which is effing awesome, to:
    Sisko: Help us, Bajoran Pagan Space Gods!
    BPSG: Okay. War over.
    I actually looked that clip up, after a few story points in the Ren arc that really resonate with it. Ironic, the Devs of ME3 must have been fans of DS9 as well.
    Imagine Back to the Future, where at the end, Doc takes Marty and Marty’s Girlfriend up into the Delorian, but instead they warp into a trans-dimensional plane of non-existance and meet God. God explains that now that humanity has unlocked time travel, He feels that his presence is no longer needed, thus removing the benevolence of humanity and leaving the planet as cold distopian husk of cold science, forged through the shattering of the Universe’s secrets with uncaring blood and tears. Marty and Doc have to decide to either allow this progress to continue, or sacrifice themselves, destroying the potential of what could be, but preserving a green world’s joy and innocence.
    That would be pretty out of place and stupid, yes?
    Hi, Mass Effect 3 trying to be deep!

    This was such a far cry from the glorious endings of 1 and 2. ME2, your choices ACTUALLY mattered, both in the main game, and during the final mission. Nothing mattered in this game. I haven’t done the math, but it looks like you could have skipped every single fleet-building side-quest and it would not have made a lick of difference. Rachnii? Geth/Quarians? Crew saved in ME2? Yup, that sure was a time sink, wasn’t it? This should have been the most epic, nuanced, personalized ending in the history of gaming, and instead we got a pile of cold McDonald’s fries and a flat diet coke.

    *******END NHANI’S POST*******

    @ Coragon – How did you get your Shep to survive? Mine didn’t.

    @Meglivorn. Asynchronous is the word you’re looking for.
    I could almost live with the stupid false-choice ending if there had been ANY attempt to give closure to the characters. Show Earth rebuilding, the fleets working together, what the people we spent the last three games getting to know (except James. Who the hell is James? Shep acts like they’ve been good buddies for years. It’s super disconcerting) will do with their lives.

    Romancing Liara, it’s pretty strongly implied that got herself pregnant with a baby Shep right before the final assault. Golly, would have been nice to see how THAT turned out, but I guess not! Best we not even mention it again.

    I also have no problem with Shepard not surviving the mission, hell, I would have been more shocked if she survived.

    @Dallanna I’ve found that ‘entitlement’, over the past two decades, has come to mean ‘I can’t actually refute your argument, so I’m going to call you a stupid head.” It’s kinda like how German words can have really complex meanings.

    @Moria I’m a big fan of Occam’s Razor, and think it’s exponentially more likely that sloppy writing and buggy programming create the illusion of a subtle, symbolic peyote-trip story. Also, it fails to explain why, if Shep was indoctrinated by the Reapers, he would continue to do everything possible to undermine the Reapers. Further, Anderson’s and The Illusive Saren’s presence on the Citadel is easily explained: he was indoc’d, told the Reapers about the Catalyst, left Ceberas HQ, went to the Citadel to enjoy the Reapers’ ride to victory on Earth. Anderson would have ignored any order to retreat if he thought he could make it to the conduit, esp if he knew Shep wasn’t dead, and made it to the console first because he wasn’t mortally wounded.
    But i could be wrong; maybe it was supposed to be a master-stroke of genius / rip-off of Sixth Sense. THAT would mean we all payed $60 for a giant “hahaha, fuck you asshole. If you want to know how this really ends, pays us $10 more” from Bioware/EA. I don’t think that scenario is really the superior one.

    Believe it or not, I’m trying hard to come up with an explanation for this that doesn’t end with me angry or disappointed. A few years ago, it was vogue on some sites to complain about the decline of gaming; how the golden age was over, and we’ve entered the age of fast-money, dumbed-down pablum. I laughed the suggestion off, back then…

    • 10 Coragon
      March 24, 2012 at 11:51

      My Shepard “survived” in the sense that you get to see him/her lying in a pile of rubble at the very end of the cutscene, looking dead, but then Shep gasps for air, apparantly being alive. So its not exactly an “alive” option in the sense that he walks out and celebrates with his/hers friends…..who are now stranded on a planet somewhere along the charon relay and its destination relay.

      As to how to get that very short “breath” scene, I think it has to do with your active warscore. I am not sure on the numbers, but I’ve heard you need at least 5000. Or that could be 6000. Something which I think is impossible to get unless you get your readiness rating up a bit through multiplayer.

      Fortunetly, ME3 multi is fun as hell.

      • 11 Coragon
        March 24, 2012 at 11:54

        Oh, also, you need to choose the “red” option, destroying the reapers. All other options automaticly end up with Shep being disintegrated.

      • 12 LoLDrood
        March 25, 2012 at 00:40

        Huh. I picked red and didn’t see it. I think it might have something to do with your readiness %? Which only goes up if you play multiplayer, and I have no friends.

        Meglivorn, you’re probably right about the timeline there; I haven’t watched DS9 start to finish.

    • 13 Meglivorn
      March 24, 2012 at 22:09

      Thanks for the word πŸ™‚

      Just a little note about the DS9 rant:
      It doesn’t went from the linked scene to the Space Gods. It went from “It’s not linear…” in episode 1 where the “space gods” very much appeared. This scene was in the “In the pale moonlight” episode, in season 6 after the only one event where the “gods” actually interfered with the war.
      Sorry, must point that out. DS9 in my book still the best scifi series ever πŸ˜€

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