The end truly came. I played the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC last night, and watched all the possible endings. Before starting the final mission, I thought about the finality of what I was about to do. I love the Mass Effect series so, so much, and now it was about to be completely and finally done. I mean, I suppose there could be another spin-off game or something, but I think it would be cheap of Bioware to do that. I hope they’re smart enough not to. Despite what people think of them now, after the ME3 ending fiasco, I think they have enough integrity to walk away gracefully from the series.
I’m torn how to approach this post because I have a lot bouncing around my mindgrapes about the original Mass Effect 3 endings, the game as a whole, the series, and the DLC. Anyway, as I work my way through this: spoilers to come. Feel free to stop reading if you haven’t finished the game or the DLC yet, and want to experience it on your own.
I’ll start at the beginning of the turmoil: the original Mass Effect 3 endings. When I finished the first ending (I believe I chose to destroy the reapers [i.e. the “renegade” red option]) I sat there in stunned disbelief. Did I really just hear three options that all had essentially the same consequences? As I played through the next two endings, my disgust grew. All three endings were next to identical, with a few minor animation differences, and a big ball of light changing from blue, to red, to green, depending on your choice. I could probably have swallowed the actual conversation from the spirit child douche, and his patchy explanations, but I couldn’t take that Bioware had so lazily slapped together some ending sequences.
To be completely honest, I was disappointed, but not mortified like so many other Mass Effect series lovers. I thought “Hm, this is a poor ending, but whatever.” What bothers me more about the ending as a whole are the inconsistencies. How is your crew on the Normandy when they were all making the frakking assault on Earth with you? How the HELL is Anderson on the Citadel with you? “Oh, I was right behind you.” B.S. sir. B. freaking. S. Those are my two biggest gripes, although if really pressed, I could think of some more.
And that’s why this DLC was still disappointing to me. I actually appreciate the gesture from Bioware, to try to appease fans at all. And some of the extra explanation from the spirit child devil was helpful, but overall the DLC was still kind of a patch job which took away from its value. Like why did we need a cut scene of Admiral Hackett recognizing that Shepard made it into the Citadel? And back to one of my biggest gripes, why couldn’t he tell two people went through the beam!? Perhaps to prove that it wasn’t a dream, like the indoctrination theorists were claiming.
My first wish would’ve been for Bioware to confirm the indoctrination theory, just for those fans that put so much thought and time into it, despite the flaws in the theory. My second wish would’ve been for the company to just put out a Q&A of the leader writer and designer, or whoever else was responsible for the holes in the plot and the inconsistencies, to address questions from fans. They said they were surprised by the fan outrage, which to me implies that they thought their ending was perfectly reasonable. Explain to me how it was; defend your case. Maybe you’ll convince me.
At the end of the day, it felt as if Bioware was handing out buckets to scoop water out of the bottom of the boat, instead of patching holes. But that might be the best we could hope for, without too much overhaul that would’ve proven cost prohibitive for the company. You know what, though? Despite all of my gripes and grievances, I started my second run through of the game as soon as I finished the first. I plan on playing tonight, even though I finished all the DLC endings last night.
The real bottom line is this: I love this game. I love the gameplay mechanics, I love the voice acting, I love the dialogue, I love all the characters, I love the terrible decisions you have to make, I love that even on my third run through, I get choked up when Thessia falls to the Reapers. I still get choked up when Mordin sacrifices himself to cure the genophage. And I still cheer like a kid when I run and butt slide over a box while I’m running to and from cover (because seriously, it’s so bad-a). I love modding the weapons and I love getting new powers with every run through. I love the cut scenes, like watching the mother of all thresher maws, Kalros, choking out that Reaper on Tuchanka like a boss.
Mass Effect 2 was where I started this series, after a co-worker highly recommended it to me. It was the first series I started on my brand new Xbox, the first system I had purchased without my brother, and the first series I had tried without him. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he played so we could dominate multiplayer and we could have more immersive discussions about the series (although he patiently hears all my ramblings about it without playing it), but for the first time, I have a little bit of ownership with Mass Effect, and that makes it a pretty special series to me.
I heard one fan say she could never play Mass Effect ever again because the endings had soured her opinion much. I don’t think an ending of a series as epic as Mass Effect could ever erase all the wonderful moments from all three games that have created such an immersive and beautiful universe to explore and save, again and again and again.