Now this is old news and if you do not like discussing the ending of Mass Effect, please do us all a favor and do not continue reading then complain that the subject has been beaten to death.
Mass Effect is the greatest story the media of video games has to offer. The amount of information presented to the player that provides the lore to the game is unparalleled. The amount of time put into the personality, background, and overall like-ability of every character in the series makes even the most hardened of men care about their fate. The story consumes the player and makes it feel as though they are truly apart of the narrative. The tale of Commander Shepard is an epic one, used in both the current meaning of amazing and the Greek form of a tale. Unfortunately in a sense, the latter can be said about the series as a whole as well.
Mass Effect 3, the last installment of the Mass Effect series, concluded one of the greatest stories of all time. Unfortunately it didn’t end like the one of the most incredible stories ever told. The ending was surrounded in so much controversy that even the Penn State athletic department would feel sorry for Bioware.
For any of you who have not played the series, the best comparison I’ve ever heard to this ending was: Imagine in Harry Potter that the real enemy wasn’t Voldemort, the true mastermind behind all that evil was Dudley. But that’s not all, the only way to stop Dudley is for Harry to destroy the magical world. And to top icing on the cake, every character you’ve come to know is probably dead (Ron, Hermione, George, Fred, etc..).
Yeah, it was that bad. The things that I explained earlier that made Mass Effect great were completely abandoned in the final moments of the game, the most important moment in the series. They lost narrative coherence, continuity, and the main character lost the things that made him great. Everything you know about the Reapers seemed to be uprooted in the final moments of the game with the introduction of the “AI Star-Child”. The continuity of the story seemed to be lost when some characters magically appeared on the Normandy or the Citadel. Shepard also seemingly loses the ability to gather information to make an informed decision. Much of the controversy that surrounded it had to do with players making the most important decision of the series near-blind. They completely destroyed the lore of the series in the final moments of the game as well with the destruction of the Mass Relays.
All of this could have been forgiven if Bioware did what they said they were going to do from the beginning, allow decisions that were made through out the series change the outcome of the ending, an interactive ending that told YOUR story. They always talked about how Commander Shepard’s story is the player’s story. Hell they even said it wouldn’t even be a simple A, B, C choice. (Actually you’re right it was Red, Blue, Green). Part of the problem had to do with the great expectations Bioware fed their audience.
It was bad, but that’s not what this post is about.
Bioware heard our complaints and acted, something people do not give them enough credit for. They accepted that the ending wasn’t satisfactory and tried to fix it. They didn’t owe the fans anything, they could have left the game as is. Yet they manned up and took responsibility. Hell, who really knows if it was even their fault? One only has to look at the destruction EA causes wherever they go to see that there may have been a bigger bully rushing/changing the project. In any case though they changed the ending with the extended cut DLC.
The extended cut fixed many of the things previously stated – narrative coherence, plot holes, destruction of lore, too many questions, not enough closure, and so on. They fixed it, and while some may argue that the concept of the ending wasn’t well thought out (I would be one), one can at least accept the new ending presented. If this had been the ending they had originally presented to us many would have not have been mad and the public outrage would have never of happened. In fact most would have been content with the ending and it probably would have been acclaimed to be one of the greatest finishes in gaming history.
There was too much right in this series for it to go that horribly wrong in the end. I’m glad they came out with the extended cut DLC, and although the bitter taste from the original ending still lingers, I can truly be happy with the ending and can move on with gaming.
What do you guys think? Did you like the series? What about the endings-original/extended? What were your favorite moments of the series?