Mass Effect 3: The End of an Era

Taste the Rainbow!

Thanks to animangagurl for the use of this excellent image.

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So this is the end of Mass Effect. Not just of the last game, but of the trilogy as a whole. Right now, I am of two minds. I am not wholly satisfied with the so called Extended Cut but at the same time, there are some redeeming qualities to it that I can not, in good conscience, ignore:

  • It provides closure: For those who wanted to see what happened to the characters they came to love and the galaxy as a whole.
  • Injected some measure of reasoning to the actions/words of the God Child: They showed more of the logic behind the Reapers actions and how the Catalyst works.
  • There is something for everyone: The endings appear to be based on fan input/outcry.
  • The filled in some of the plot holes and contradictions: Not all of them, but by lessing the impact of the Catalyst, it showed that the damage was reversible.
  • It brings back some elements of classic science fiction such as Transhumanism and the meaning of godhood/transcendence.

Yet, two facts remain. One, the underlying logic behind the God Child is still flawed, although the designers lampsahed it and second an option to reject the preexisting choices is given, but it ends up being a giant middle finger to those who criticized the lack of logic in the ending (like myself). The God Child literally turns around and walks away and you lose. Further more it is hinted that someone in the next cycle did take one of the options and achieved “peace” (whatever that means).

Another lesson here is that games still have the potential to reach the next level of interactive storytelling in video games. We will have to wait for the next generation of consoles and perhaps a new crop of game designers to see if they learned the right lessons from this experience.

And what is the final lesson(s) from the Mass Effect debacle:

  • Treat your audience with respect.
  • Do not try to outsmart your audience, you will only end up outsmarting yourself.
  • And sometimes the simplest solutions (such as ending the game after Anderson’s death and having the Catalyst destroy the Reapers) are by far the best.

NOTE: For those interested in my theory/version of events, take a look at this pair of fics.




10 comments on “Mass Effect 3: The End of an Era

  1. I think it’s very true about what you say about outsmarting your audience. People really shouldn’t try stuff like that. I hope that all game designers learned something from this whole escapade. I haven’t played the dlc yet, it’s not been released on PSN Europe.


    • The last 10 minutes of a game are no place for bold experiments, that’s for sure. I don’t know if I will download the thing (it is available here) but I may just succumb and do it anyway or not as the case may be. 😉


  2. You know, I’m not convinced this is the end. Call it groundless hope, but I’m still clutching to the indoctrination theory, and that the “real” ending is the destruction one. After all, it’s the only ending where Shepard survives (and the added content even calls more attention to this with the different versions of the nameplate scene).

    Maybe I’m being silly, but I think there’s more to the story, and some interesting “leaks” are floating around (plus some hints at future “Leviathan” DLC found in the extended ending DLC’s game files). We’ll see what happens.

    One thing’s for sure though, even if this is really where it ends for Shepard’s story, it’s definitely not all we’ve seen for the Mass Effect universe. They’ll revisit it eventually.


    • Leviathan is an in-game expansion that I doubt will nothing more than re-entrench the existing endings (flawed as they are). The “secret” or “reject ending turned out to be a giant middle finger to those who dared questions BioWare logic (or lack thereof) so I doubt their will be anything along the lines of the Indoctrination Theory. And even BioWare knows when to leave things where they are less they re-ignite the firestorm.

      As for expansions, expect more along the lines of multiplayer, until EA can’t squeeze anything else out of the franchise. Look what happened with Halo. Yes there will be a Halo 4, but it won’t be by Bungie. Microsoft had to wrench enough rights out of the company to form 343 Industries to keep the IP going, good stories have a definite end.


  3. Ooh, I didn’t know the extended cut had been released. I finished the game a month ago and have spent a lot of time debating the ending with family and online. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with. Must chat to you about this sometime, Raf! My theory was it was that everything after the world got fuzzy was a dream.


    • Also known as the Indoctrination Theory. A bunch of fans thought the ending was that Shepard was indoctrinated. Turns out he (or she) was not. Bummer! Then again, if you’re looking for the second worse ending trope of all time instead of the ending you got, well….


  4. I read the Indoctrination ending and mine was a variation as I didn’t feel that what he experienced was something inserted into his brain by the Reaper, but possibly a nightmare after the event. And was Bioware’s attempt to “phish” feedback from players to construct the “proper” ending. (Which I gather has happened).


  5. […] didn’t leave the fans demanding a retraction or fume at how she did it. Another mate of mine, Ralfast said that Bioware tried (and failed) to outsmart their fans in the end and I do believe that he had […]


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