Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mass Effect 3's ending and my problems with it

Now that I know Mass Effect 3's ending I've been playing catch up on all the bitching about it. Ignoring the over-the-top petitions and calls to boycott BioWare FOREVER, some of these people kinda have a point. This is about to become spoiler central. You have been warned.

I have nothing against downer endings. My periphery glance at the bitching before I'd seen it myself convinced me it was just a bunch of gamers that couldn't handle everything not going their way. Shepard dies. Big whoop. Grow up. But the lack of choice? The feeling that most of your decisions don't effect the end of the game? Now there's a point I have to agree with.

All three decisions had the Mass Effect relays blowing up. Not happy. I'd just spent forty hours uniting the galaxy and I wanted to let it keep going just as it was. The fact Shepard's friends are left mourning would be fine. I did it in Dragon Age, I was ready to do it again.

Just look at every previous BioWare game. Every choice you make has huge ramifications. Lets take Dragon Age: Origins, because it proves my point exactly. You kill the big bad Darkspawn dragon, in my case sacrificing the Warden because it was his job. Then you get a cutscene that details every single decision and how those people are effected. Alistair and/or Anora's reign, how the dwarves progressed with their new king, Morrigan running off. Everyone that you made life changing decisions about was given an epilogue. It doesn't amount to much more than a slideshow, but it's a hugely satisfying slideshow.

In Mass Effect? Everyone is stuck in whatever system they were in when the relays explode, and apart from some picture-esque view as your crew climb out of crashed Normandy you are told nothing.

BioWare argue that the game itself is built around these moments. In some ways the games do offer big resolutions to ongoing stories. But when you're responsible for curing the genophage, giving sentience to the Geth and getting every race working alongside each other you want to know how the galactic community moved on. Instead, by blowing up the relays I didn't feel like I saved the galaxy. I may have stopped the Reapers, but I did it by bombing everyone else back to the stone age.

And then, well and then there's this: A Logical Breakdown of Why the Mass Effect 3 Ending Makes No Sense. Every bit of reasoning pretty much comes out and makes you go “Oh shit, they have a point.” A few I even realised myself, and I can be the ultimate hand-waver at times. I'll also throw in the bit with Liara. That was incredibly weird, admittedly I didn't ask what it was, but it was still fucking trippy.

What about a different ending some fans are calling out for? The storyteller in me partially believes BioWare can do what they want, its their story, their ending. I'll defend Battlestar Galactica's finale if you force me too. But that same storyteller can't help but spot the massive plot holes too. However, at what point does it go too far and just gets a little too George Lucas?

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