Gametalk 6: MASS EFFECT 3

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Gametalk 6: MASS EFFECT 3

Oh yeah, let’s talk about Mass Effect 3 here boys and girls

(Sorry folks, I’m a Cerberus fan)

Judging that it has been around 1-2 months from this highly anticipated game, I expected TRUE fans to have finished it by now. Surely those who have finished it has seen the ending right?  The ending has spawned a humongous uproar that tore apart Bioware’s Mass Effect boards. People created petitions to go against the ending they recieved as they finished the game. The movement known as “Take back the Ending” (a play on the game’s tagline “take Earth back”) would surge throughout the forums and promote the opposition of the ending. It didnt’ stop there. One person even sued Bioware for False advterisement with their game. Another sent a large amount of cupcakes to Bioware with 3 different frostings.

So what the hell exactly happened with the ending? Well that’s exactly what we will be talking about.

Here it is folks, let’s talk about the last game in the Mass Effect 3 Trilogy and its controversial last few moments in the game.

….aaand in order to justify the minor rage that will be inevitabley present in the post, let us turn the dial back to 2007 when the first Mass Effect was released.

Trust me, it is a very simple reason.

For the longest time, I dreamed of a series to have a continuation effect. Having a game series that catered to your personal adventure. A game of choice where your actions held consequences or rewards in the next game. While I personally didn’t play Mass Effect 1 as deeply as its sequels, it deserves praise as it kick-started a series that would be remembered with great praise…if of course if they fix what happened in the last 10 minutes of its final game in the series.

Anyways, I started out incorrectly by making a completely new introduction, but whatever. Allow me to tell the game’s basic premise and how I got into the games. Most of story and the rest of that sort were said back in the 2nd Gametalk session, so read that first if you are not familiar with the storyline.

So back then, Mass Effect was considered a decent game with a few minor hiccups in terms of some gameplay and some graphical issues. I was initially not even aware such a game existed until it was 2 years later, when my brother came home with Mass Effect 2 on his computer. He told me of the awesome concept in the Mass Effect series. As I have mentioned, “choices in the first game that have an impact on the overall series in general” was what I’ve always wished would happen. I was kind of suprised to see a game like that actually exist now. So, with me being excited to start the game, I started playing Mass Effect 1 on my brothers labtop.

To be honest, my brother already spoiled me on Mass Effect 2 and I saw a lot of the final mission and its gameplay. With that in mind, after experiencing the 2 boring hours of getting shit done in the Citadel, I finally got to experience the story outside the annoying sidequests. Mass Effect 1, for me, served as only a bridge and introduction to Mass Effect 2. I currently was not completely sold with the game. But after playing it through, I had a connection to its characters and its universe. All of that topped off in the epic final battle to save the galaxy itself from impending doom in shape of gigantic-sentient ships that destroy all organic life every 50,000 years called Reapers.

So as I quickly started Mass Effect 2, I was kinda bummed out when the game started with you DYING. But it was kay because an organization who made a lot of appearances in the sidequests from the first game decided to revive you. Now the crew you made so many developments with from the first game are basically seperated. Anyways, the crew from ME2 would turn out a lot more interesting for me compared to ME1. The talking was a lot more straightfoward and streamlined and there were a lot more companions for you to talk to. You also met up with a lot of the characters in the first game (depends on how you ended the first game). But in short, ME2 was f*cking amazing compared to the first game. They improved the gameplay, storyline, graphics, and the overall game in general. There’s actually a good point on the characters that I could compare to Angel Beats, but that’s kinda off topic so we’ll save that for later.

Mass Effect 2 topped the game off with you and your specialist team storming the base where beings called Collectors were harvesting humans to make a human reaper. But to even make it that far, the game had these small checks to see if you played the game correctly. By correctly, it checked to see if you made the right upgrades to your ship, gained the loyalty from your entire crew, and checked to see if you were ready to go immediately once the non-combative part of your crew were kidnapped.

If the mission was successfully done, the game ended with your character looking up toward the stars as hundreds and hundreds of Reapers are shown to be making their way to the Milky Way Galaxy.

Mass Effect 3 continues were we left off, but much like the 2nd game, starts you off back at square one with little to no equipment or a sizeable combat crew. But it does give off a very strong emotional start, but that would be an understatement as the Reapers arrive….on EARTH. You escape with your ship and are instructed to get every fleet from every race in the galaxy. On the way, you revel at the sight of innocents dying, especially a child you couldn’t save while escaping a destroyed building.

The quote that I mentioned above really is the goal of the game. You are to go to every race and ask for their support in the galaxy wide conflict against the Reapers. You must help each race from their own troubles to allow them to support you. But, behind the scenes in the war effort is a device that was extracted from Mars left by the ancient races from the previous extinction cycles nicknamed the Crucible. As you gain allies, you gain more support in finishing this device to combat the Reapers. But it’s all that simple in gaining the trust of an entire species, it goes as simple as helping them out in their own battle against the Reapers but old blood must be wasted away in order to unite all the species under one banner.

Examples go from finally making peace between Krogans and Turians, working on curing the genophage (a “disease” of sort that makes Krogan sterile) with the Salarians and the Krogan, unifying or destroying either the Geth or the Quarians, and other conflicts. Doing this while you get updates on Earth’s condition and the progress of the Crucible.

Throughout the game, there is a sense of glaring urgency that is prevalent in the game’s progress. The game naturally makes you feel for the condition of Earth and the inevitable battle that will take place to re-take Earth alongside the galaxy’s fleet. Sidequests are availible in a small window between missions and have consequence later in the game only help to make you feel more in a hurry to get everyone’s act together. But sometimes that urgency dies when you take a friendly trip to the Citadel to see how your mates are doing. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to rest…once in a while.

The game has its great share of epic moments, but usually an epic moment is followed up with a tearjerking moment. The most notable example being the moment where Mordin (provided that he survived) he assists in helping on curing the genophage once and for all. After summoning the mother of all Thresher Maws (gigantic space worms) against a small Reaper, you ascend a tower that acts as a enviromental landmark on the Krogan homeworld. Due to the fight however, the system for adminstering the genophage is kinda bugged out and Mordin decides to sacrifice himself to atone for his sins (cause he was in the main science team in creating the genophage) . I would go on but playing the game after immersing yourself in the universe and the story really gets to you when it comes down the to fate of each character you fought alongside with.

But I’m not here to review the game (or atleast, try not to make it sound like a review), I’m just here to (kinda) justify the uproar with the ending so let’s on to that right now

So, provided that you played the game well and didn’t screw up in game and in the past installments, the final sequence of missions begin with the attack on Cerberus Base. Remember the organization Cerberus? Well in the 2nd game, you basically say f*ck you to the guy who spent a lot of money building you back together. He also led an army of super soldiers that fight you throughout the game. So you can basically expect a crapton of resistance in the base. Anyways, after fighting the base filled with soldiers, you figure out that the dude isn’t there and basically sold the galaxy out to the Reapers as he reveals the existance of the Crucible project. With that revealed, the secret project left by each species in the previous cycles is now revealed and they probably won’t allow its existance to be passed on to the next cycle. So the message is sent, You have to end this fight once and for all. The Reapers have formed a defensive line and took the Citadel (the secret “catalyst” of the Crucible) to their fortified location near Earth.

With the fleets at your back you lead the final assault to take back Earth, get to the Citadel, and activate the Crucible. The fleets that alligned with you report in and they engage the Reaper forces. While the brunt of the fleet fighting off the Reapers, Shepard’s crew (I really need to decide whether to say Shepard or “you”..) reaches planetfall and prepare for the fight to get to the Citadel.

In the last few moments you have, you have the option to talk to the people you have saved through past missions and past side missions. Basically, you get to hear how everyone who joined you are doing and how they are helping the cause. With that done, you head out for the final push.

That push ends with you and your crew reaching the the portal to the Citadel, but not without some more cinematic slow motion sequences. Some Reapers descend upon you and blast at you something fierce. You are knocked out but you muster enough strength to get to the portal. Inside the portal, you arrive at the Citadel and reunite with one of the major supporting characters, Anderson, the character you basically started out with in the first game. The two of  you confront the Cerberus leader and in the end, figure out that he is indeed indoctrinated by the Reapers. Whatever you say to him doesn’t matter, he gets shot and project Crucible is activated. Shepard is able to open up the Citadel and allow it to dock with the Crucible, Anderson and Shepard sit down to see what they worked so hard for.

But, Shepard somehow finds himself in an unknown location and an apparition of the boy who he failed to save back on Earth near the begining of the game walks to him and explains that he is the “catalyst”. It explains to him that the Reapers are a “just” cause to a universe that goes through self destruction every cycel and that Reapers are there to stop it. But Shepard being the first being to be in this situation is offered a choice, either to destroy all the Reapers, controlling the Reapers, or becoming one with the Reapers. The final decision however is the where the rage begins

But allow me  to finish before we talk about that. Whichever option you pick, you die and the only difference it makes is either a red, blue, green colored light that expands throughout the galaxy. Your ship is seen fleeing the blast and later ending up on a distant planet.

It doesn’t end there, the game ends with a child and his father looking up at the stars, and the child asks his father to tell the story about “The Shepard”.

However, if you are able to amass enough war assets and galactic readiness (resource that are picked up through missions and dialogue), you see Shepard barely alive and breathing somewhere.

First off, what’s your opinion on that? Would someone whose been waiting 5 years for “THEIR” ending be happy with only 3 (technically 4) variables that account to the ending? What happened to the closure and the other characters you formed relationships with? People complain that they could have ended the entire thing with Crucible being activated and have Anderson and Shepard looking at Earth to be an acceptable ending. But there is barely an epilogue and the existance of Reapers is shown to be a cheesy reason. The perfectly emotionless and malevolent enemy happens to be perfectly just, it’s a twist but I personally was not happy with it

In the shorter version, it could simply be said that people expected a lot more from the ending. They wanted more say on how the ending would turn out. They wanted their choice to matter whether who survived the conflict and how the universe was saved and what the costs were. All that came down to 3 endings with the only difference being  the colors of a galaxy reaching explosion.

It really is a simple reason why not a lot of people liked this. People wanted an explanation, people want some closure to the characters they have made connections with for the past 5 years. Ending all your choices and decisions to culminate in just 3 possible endings is just….well….unexpected at the most.

I’ve talked about summing the series up in general moreso than the actual reason why people are mad. People spent years, perfecting their playthroughs. They wanted their mistakes or successs to factor in the final fight. They learned so much behind the characters, their motives, wishes, dreams, and their pasts. The universe felt so real and everyone didn’t want to let go. You could just feel the culture of the races you meet and the emotional attachments people have made to the game.

No matter what, Cerberus is the main enemy. No matter what, you end Cerberus’ operations. No matter what, you have the same damn missions in the last stretch of the game. To give credit, those last missions were awesome anyway, but it led down to how it ended.

You could say that they wanted it to go out with a bang…and it certainly did.

What do you think, fine reader? Do you think that the rage over the game’s ending was justified with the amount of hype that came with it?

We’ll see what happens this summer as Bioware plans to give more details to their ending.

6 responses »

  1. Hmmm…I haven’t played any of the Mass Effect games, so I guess my opinion is that of an outsider…but if you’re choices were supposed to have some sort of effect on the other games, that kind of a set ending seems rather cruel to those perfectionists you mentioned. Reading this reminded me of the original Fallout (which is an awesome game, by the way). The actions you take throughout the game influence what kind of an ending you can get, and you have tons of freedom over your character and how to take those actions. While the effect is much more localized (it’s only across one game, as opposed to three), it seems very similar. Only, what made the endings in Fallout so great was that they were all so different, unlike ME3. One was a fight, the other a conversation, and the third a betrayal.

    I don’t want to start gushing about another game here, so I won’t say any more. But I feel like the whole reason Fallout was bound so much more tightly had to do with it’s scope. Now, what I took out of this article is that Mass Effect was planned from the get go as a game that would have sequels that build upon it. But, from the way each game abandons the previous characters, and because the story of the second two sounds like it took off in a different direction of than the first, I wonder how much changed in that time. Obviously, there are going to be staff changes throughout the course of a major blockbuster three game series, but how many major staff members and story designers did it go through before the franchise ended? To me, it sounds like there were different designers (at least, story designers) for the games, and the result was that the story lacked cohesion. Or, the designers weren’t counting on the success of the first game, and subsequently didn’t have the entire story planned out. At least, that’s what I thought when reading about it here.

    Of course, I could be wrong about all of this, but if I’m right, than the problem would indeed be the scope of the design process. Trying to plan out a single story with multiple intertwining paths sounds like an absolute monster of a task. I think such an undertaking could only be truly accomplished with a massive amount of planning before hand, and if any major, decision making staff changed (or if a decision making developer suddenly changed their minds on something between games) it would be like throwing a monkey wrench into that planning. Since a single game probably wouldn’t undergo such staff changes, that’s why I feel like a smaller scope would solve the problem. Anyways, that’s just my uneducated, two-cents guess.

    Whether I’m wrong or right, nice article. Keep it up!

    • First of all, that’s one hell of a response there. Second, thank you for commenting!

      To answer your point, I think Bioware basically got their “footing” down after the success of Mass Effect 2 which was released in 2010. Mass Effect 1 had certain flaws but the 3 year gap between the release of the first game and second game Bioware was successsful in addressing all the issues. Bioware now had 2 years to come up with the sequel and to tie all the knots together. They DID change the writer for ME3 (who was present in the first 2 games)

      Your factors do make a valid point and I agree with you.

      But surely they would have pulled off something better than this…they knew they had legions of fans waiting for some closure

      • Mass Effect is damn awesome, until the last few minutes…

        I thought I was being mocked when the only difference in the ending is the change in color explosions, lmao. And in order to accumulate enough assets to get the “additional scene” for the ending, you must play multiplayer and.. I don’t think I’m a fan of those. In fact, I’m skeptical I could even support it, since I play the PC version. Besides, just having that additional 5 seconds scene for all those assets is kinda silly..

  2. My intentions of this games ending actually made me feel kinda happy(due to the fact I wanted to see a bad ending so I did all the wrong stuff) but even though that I don’t say people should get upset over it because since when did you play a game that didn’t have a happy ending… and when I replayed I did everything right I got the same ending I was like… ok so it still has bad ending oh well atleast there is a game that finally had a bad ending instead of a good ending because are you really going to see dominate victory after a huge war happened Most of the time that will not be the case so I say I believe the ending was Fair…

    • Even if they planned a bad ending, the three endings were remotely the same thing though. People wanted consequences and different outcomes for their games but everyone who played it were given the same three choices.

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