This is something I had been working on right after seeing the ending to Mass Effect 3, but I hadn't touched it in a while and I went back today and added to it. I would have liked to have written more, but honestly I just can't bring myself to go through a real breakdown of all the points that I have issues with, also there are enough people that have done it already as well. I am hoping to do a write up about the Extended Cut beyond the videos that I have done as well.
First let me start off by saying that I have loved the Mass Effect series since the first game came out in 2007. The interesting thing is that I have not actually played them. When the first Mass Effect game came out I was just getting into first person shooter (FPS) games. Until that point I had been mainly a role playing (RPG) and fighting game type of video gamer. Sure, I had played some Halo and Halo 2, who hasn’t, but at that point in time I was not very good at them. Thus, when the first Mass Effect game came out I let my husband play it and I watched it. Without even playing the game the story pulled me in. My husband was no longer allowed to play without me. We would talk about the game and he would look for my opinion on what choices he should make with the story, it really was a group effort. We both couldn’t wait until the next installment of the series came out.
Finally Mass Effect 2 comes out. I will never forget before the game came out I had read that Commander Shepard dies at the beginning of the game, but not wanting to ruin it for my husband I didn’t tell him. I was not home when he first brought the game home, so he thought he could be sneaky and start up and play the first little bit of the game before I got home. When he saw how the beginning of the game started he had to turn it off and wait for me. We were both so excited to see how the choices we had so painstaking made and remade throughout the first game would influence how our game would turn out in the second edition of the game. We once again found ourselves spending time discussing what the possible ramifications of our choices might be before we actually decided on anything. Even after completing the game we still went back to play the game, I don’t know how many times, I’ve lost count.
I’m not the kind of person that has ever thought about reading any video game novels; however, I decided to check out the first Mass Effect book Revelation. I blew through the first book and the subsequent two following books. I kept telling my husband that he needed to read them, partly I wanted to talk to someone about them and there was backstory and other information he needed to know about before the third game was released. He finally gave in and read them just as quickly as I had, agreeing with me that they were good and worth the read. My next step was getting my friends who loved Mass Effect to read them as well; I’m still working on that.
I like many others got invested in the story and the characters created within the Mass Effect universe. I found myself thinking about them and possible other story arcs and wondering how everything was going to turn out in Mass Effect 3. Sure, there are characters that I’m more invested in than others, so much so I decided to cosplay as one of them for upcoming conventions. I have been working on a Tali cosplay that I couldn’t be more excited about. I want everyone to know just how amazing and well developed the story is in this series. I set up a countdown on my phone, randomly informing people how many days until the release date; needless to say I was excited. I recently attended a science teacher educator conference held at NASA which prompted me to bring my Mass Effect apparel to wear while visit NASA. There is a picture of me sitting at the flight command seat in old mission control wearing a Normandy Crew t-shirt.
Finally the countdown on my phone reaches less than a month, then a week, we are down to single digit days and finally we are hours away from the midnight release. I’m in Mountain Standard Time so of course an Eastern Standard Time friend had to send me a picture from his phone of the game as well as call to rub it in that I still had to wait two hours till I could get my copy. My husband and I head over to pick up our paid in full (which it had been for over two months) copy of the collector’s edition of Mass Effect 3. We get home and choosing rather than to go to bed and get some sleep we put it in the 360 and play until past 2 in the morning. The two of us are so excited and forgoing good night’s sleep to play Mass Effect every spare moment we can. We are both enjoying the game, even though the game felt shorter than the previous ones. I determined this was because we didn’t have places like Omega and Ilium to explore, or the time spent probing planets. At first I was a little bothered by this, but after spending some time reflecting that the game needed that sense of urgency I became okay with this feeling. A feeling of uneasiness came over me as we were making the approach to Earth. I was worried what the final choices were going to be, how many “people” we would lose, but I was just waiting to see how everything turned out.
The final battle on Earth was going and I was fine with the direction the game was taking, until the rush toward the beam to take Shepard up to the Citadel. Once Shepard was hit with the beam from Harbinger, the game suddenly felt as though it had been written by a completely different team. The whole feel of the game changed for me, it no longer felt like it belonged with the other games. The entire game sequence on the Citadel left me feeling underwhelmed with resolution, but I was still invested and eager to see the end. Then the glowing elevator takes Shepard up to the top to make the “final decision”, which as I have come to discover I am not the only person left reeling with the ending of Mass Effect 3. The issues I have are three fold.
The first issue that I really have is that, given the series is three games driven so heavily by story development and player choices, to have absolutely no effect on the ending of the game makes me feel as though the previous two games are pointless. If I am going to spend the time debating the choices I make within my Mass Effect game, than I want to see that play out. There is really a lack of narrative cohesion between the narrative throughout the other games and the last fifteen minutes of the game. If you change up the way in which the story is told and you break the rules that you have set in place for that universe, you are going to lose your audience. The whole idea of creating your own world is that you have to set boundaries and parameters for the characters to exist within, and I personally have found that this was extremely well done, and anyone who has spent any time reading through the Codex in any of the three games I think would agree with me. That is why the last fifteen minutes of the game are such a complete disconnect from the rest of the series. It would seem as though they were written by someone else who had very little knowledge of these larger pieces that make up the Mass Effect universe. For a game that has been driven so much by dialogue and the overall story it seems as though the conversation with Star Child was extremely weak. Given that the conversation with Star Child is supposed to be what wrapped the game up, it really felt as though this was a half-assed phoned in conversation. We didn’t get any answers, if nothing else it caused me to ask more question. I understand that any well written work is going to leave me with some lingering questions, but this didn’t answer any questions and just proceeded to add more to my ever growing pile.
The three different colored endings is also another area where I take up huge issue with. My husband and I still continued to choose the destroy ending, also known as the red ending, because that seemed as though your best option, given that the whole series has been about you fighting the Reapers, why all of a sudden should we just accept what Star Child is telling up and jump into the green ending, oh sorry, the synthesis ending? I thought the whole thing that made what Shepard did so amazing, that they were able to get the entire galaxy to work together was because everyone is so different and these differences are what make each race and each world unique. The synthesis ending takes all of that diversity away and makes everyone the same. How is that preferable? I understand that if you chose the destroy ending you kill the Geth and EDI and I am very saddened about that choice, but we all knew that the final game was going to involve some sacrifice and some sadness, so I suppose I am be alright with that situation, I may not like it, and I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but I can understand it and move on. Also, if the whole synthesis ending was the way things should be and this was the way evolution was supposed to go, then why hasn’t it been done before? Obviously the Reapers could have made some organic do it already if they wanted them to, you know with the whole mind control thing, or what they had to do it of their own free will? I personally cannot understand why this synthesis ending is supposed to be the correct ending. We have been fighting against the Reapers this whole time and now we are supposed to trust them? I’m sorry but I’m going to have to throw the bullshit flag on that one. For some reason Shepard has been able to resist the indoctrination effects since the first game, maybe the Reapers have determined that this is the only way to get him to do what they want. All I know is that for me personally the only ending that is worth anything is the destroy ending. Which brings me to my next point; if you get your EMS score up high enough and you go through the ending you will come back to what we can assume to be Earth, so see an armored body with N7 insignias, and then they take a breath. Are we to assume that this is Shepard? Trust me, I want to assume that it is Shepard, but I’m also having a hard time believing that it is. How exactly did Shepard survive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, last time I checked there were only a few degree difference that allows you to properly reenter Earth’s atmosphere, otherwise you will hit in come into the atmosphere and burn up, or you will bounce off and continue in space. Thus, how exactly was Shepard able to do this from the Citadel? Also, how exactly did Shepard survive falling from that speed? I’m pretty sure falling from that speed would leave you a puddle of goo, no matter how awesome Shepard is. I want to know what this ending I have taken to calling the “twitch twitch ending” is all about, does this mean I am going to get another Mass Effect game, or is this just supposed to make me happy that Shepard didn’t die, either way, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Earlier I talked about the lack of a narrative cohesion between the rest of the series and the end of the game; this could be seen with the whole destruction of the Mass Relays. I’m sorry, but at what point during the series did someone unlock the secrets of the Mass Relays? Throughout the series it has been discussed that we do not know how they work or how the Citadel works, thus if we destroy the Mass Relays, we have no way to fix them and I’m pretty sure that means we are screwed. Let us also at least touch upon the fact that destroying the Mass Relays causes a great deal of damage, so how are you going to get around the destruction of numerous planets near the Mass Relays? I know there has already been a great deal of discussion about the ramifications about the destruction of them, so I won’t bother going into detail here. I will just say this, how exactly does everyone get home? How is the Sol system supposed to support this huge army that you have amassed? There, I said it.
Overall I am disappointed to see this ending type of ending for such a wonderful series. I guess I will have to wait and see what happens with the Extended Cut whenever that is released. I hope that we will get more and get a better ending, but I doubt that will happen. I just have to hang my head because I got so invested in the series and the characters and to see it end like that, well I makes me not want to get invested in games again because I don't want to experience the utter disappointment that Mass Effect 3 gave me.
Why I loved Mass Effect and how it hurt me
Blog entry posted by Amalthea327, Jun 30, 2012.