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What is wrong with the ending to ME3:


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#1
Nobrandminda

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 The community seems to be split on this, with most people disliking the endings, and a handful of people who say they are fine, and the arguments about what makes an ending "good" or "bad" tend to miss the point.  In my mind, the biggest problem with the ending isn't that it is disappointing or poorly writting (it is, but I'll get to that in a minute).  The problem isn't the tone, the ending could have been happy or sad (preferably one or the other depending on choices, but again, I'll get to that in a minute), and it would have worked either way.  

The problem is that the ending is simply wrong.  It is incorrect.  It is simply not what the series was building up to.

This is a long post, but that's the long and short of it, so stop reading there if you want.

It's like if Return of the Jedi had the ending to 2001: A Space Odyssy, because in essence, that's exactly what happened.  At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke opened up a portal to another plane of existance where a some illdefined God-like being told him "Your friends are screwed, but you can sacrifice yourself to save them."  He did it, and that's it.  Roll credits.  We don't get to see how it all turned out, or how anyone reacted to his sacrifice, and we don't get any explainations as to why that just happened.  We just see a wierd looking explosion, and maybe one reaction shot.  The End.

But let's get to specifics.  Since this will walk through the entire ending, don't read this if you want any surprises.

Let's start with Shepard getting knocked out by Harbinger.  That was Harbinger right?  I mean, they all look the same to me.  Anyway, Shep gets knocked out and from this point on it's never really made clear what's going on.  The first time this happened to me, I let the three husks kill me because I thought it was like the nuclear bomb scene from Call of Duty, or a dream sequence or something.  I supose between Reaper Indoctrination and Protean Beacons screwing with your mind, this series is already prone to wild theorys of "Everything after ____ is just happening in Shepard's head," but the presentation here makes the idea so plausible it's distracting from what's actually going on.

In the next bit, we join Anderson on the Citadel, and again, I really don't know how that worked.  Was he just slightly ahead of us?  No.  We would have been able to see him.  Was he behind us?  No, he gets to the Crusable controls before we do.  Was he take a completely different route to get there?  Maybe, but I didn't see any other paths.

Whatever, the Illusive man shows up and you talk him down.  I liked the way this bit mirrored the ending to the first game.

Then Anderson dies.  No complaints about that, I think everyone saw this coming.  Honestly, I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did.  He's the mentor figure, he has to die, it's like a trope or something.

But here's where things really start to go wrong.  We get beamed up to... somewhere and meet the Star Kid, and well, someone in another thread put it best:

"The Catalyst starts going on and on about how the created will always kill the creator.  The most critical moment in the game, and yet, there's no option to jerk that kid up by his holographic hair and say, "Bulls***!  Look out there.  Geth and Quarian, fighting side by side.  Look at the Normandy, look at Joker and EDI.  We're making it work.  Maybe it will last, maybe it won't, but who the f*** are you deny us the chance to try?""

This right here, is my second biggest problem with the ending.  We finally have an explaination for the Reapers, and it completely contradicts the theme of the series, or at least this game in particular.  Getting the Quarians and the Geth to work together is, to me, the defining moment of the game.  It is also the only "pure" victory Shepard ever gets during the main storyline, that is to say, it's the only victory without a "but" attached to it.  Shepard escapes the Sol system, but Earth falls.  He brokers a peace between the Krogan and the Turians, but in doing so shuns the Salarians or dooms the Krogan.  He finds the Prothean beacon on Thesia, but... you get the idea.

And also, where does the Star Kid himself fit into that little theory of his?  Is he the creator or the created?  If the Reapers have been faithfully carrying out the will of their creator for untold millions of years, doesn't that completely contradict what he's saying?

And now you have your choice, and my biggest issue with the ending.  There are so many problems here I don't really know where to start.  I guess I'll start with a very simple question:  Why does the Star Kid give a damn how many war assets I have?  The whole thrust of the game, get more resources to get a better ending, makes sense... right up until this point.  Dude's going to shut his ears and go "La la la" just because we didn't want to spend a few hours scanning uncharted star systems?  Really?

There's also the fact that one big decision to decide the fate of the galaxy just doesn't cut it anymore.  You might be thinking "but that's always how it is, there's always the one big choice at the end, and it doesn't really matter what you did previously."  That may have been the case in Mass Effect 1, but that was five years ago now.  ME2 did a phenominal job of making it feel like all of your choices mattered in the end.  You still had the one "big" choice sure (destroy or preserve the base) but you also had all of the decisions about how to prepare for the mission and how to go about infiltrating the Base, all of which determined your level of success.  There was clear cause and effect.  Upgrade the Normandy to survive the assault.  Choose the right man for the right job.  Here you just have some vague number that determines which choices you are going to be presented with for some reason that is never, ever, made clear.

And then there are the choices themselves.  Bioware says there are 16 possible endings, but really there are only 5 with slight variations, and even that is being generous since all five of them basically boil down to "Shepard sacrifices himself to save the galaxy"  unless you have enough War Assets (again, why??) in which case you get an easter egg hinting that Shepard survived after all.

First of all, this may be nitpicky, and depending on who you romanced, you might not have noticed it, but you see flashbacks to several people during the sacrifice and there's a reasonable chance that you'll miss out on your romantic partner.  It's always Joker, Anderson, Kaiden/Ashley, and Liara, so unless you happened to romance one of them, Shepard's final thought isn't of his loved one (or loved ones if you romanced multiple people along the way).

The ending doesn't offer any closure whatsoever.  It's not abundently clear who lived and who died since it's never really made clear what exactly that green/blue/red explosion does.  For all we know, Joker and company really are the only survivers of the assault on earth (how did the squad get back to the Normandy anyway?) and they repopulated uh... Earth?  Where did they land anyway?  Even if they survived, with the Mass Relays destroyed, it seems like the entire military strength of the the known Galaxy is stuck on Earth.  How exactly is that going to work out?  I wonder who in their right mind would choose the "destroy all technology" ending, since the Kid flat out tells you that it will destroy the Geth (implying that EDI would die too).

We get the little epilogue with Buzz Aldrin (check the credits, that's him) talking to a kid, so we know it worked out... somehow.  As always, the ending is vague about the details.  I'm not sure if this is meant to be taken as a sequel hook, I kind of doubt it since the message afterwards literally tells you that Shepard's adventure will continue via ME3 DLC.  In any case, this is a very poor way of conveying the information that the galaxy went on without Shepard.  Mass Effect is a character driven story line.  I don't want to see how his children's children remember Shepard, I want to see how his friends and allies remember him/her.

So it's not just Shepard's sacrifice that's the problem, it's everything surrounding it.  There is nothing worse in fiction than when something tries and fails to bring closure.  You can bring closure to a storyline, or you can leave it open to interpretation, but the ending tried to do both, and in doing so, fails.

#2
Taleroth

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Well written. Thank you.

#3
toots1221

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Totally agree.

#4
MacAttack

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Got to say it. Your right.

#5
Tsantilas

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Nuff said.

#6
CommanderWilliams

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This.

#7
TamiBx

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Exactly.

#8
Almostfaceman

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Well said, but you may as well copy and paste this in a "main" ending thread since they'll lock this one and ask you to post in it.

#9
Luigitornado

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Don't agree. There has been a build up for this moment since the first game.

But okay.

#10
Mr. Big Pimpin

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Excellent post.

#11
Gruzmog

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Word

#12
mireisen

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Nobrandminda wrote...

"The Catalyst starts going on and on about how the created will always kill the creator.  The most critical moment in the game, and yet, there's no option to jerk that kid up by his holographic hair and say, "Bulls***!  Look out there.  Geth and Quarian, fighting side by side.  Look at the Normandy, look at Joker and EDI.  We're making it work.  Maybe it will last, maybe it won't, but who the f*** are you deny us the chance to try?""


This +1.

#13
realguile

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Taleroth wrote...

Well written. Thank you.

Agreed

#14
SomeKindaEnigma

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Outstanding post.

#15
CheeseEnchilada

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Everyone needs to read this. Best post on this topic I've seen so far. Bravo!

#16
johhnytrash

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Well put. It's going to take me a while to get over this...

#17
Creylon

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This perfectly explained all that was wrong with the ending.

#18
Notho

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Well written. You hit on just about everything that was wrong with the ending. This should be the new "The Ending Sucks" thread.

Edited by Notho, 09 March 2012 - 07:46 PM.


#19
sonogi

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great write-up, but i thought the ending was well done (flame away). the Star Kid was a nice touch, and can simply be interpreted as an ancient intelligence, perhaps part of some highly evolved civilization. i thought it was really cool how the reapers are a sick way of "preserving" the civilizations that came before.

maybe im simple, but i really enjoyed the ending. i thought it would be horribly executed based on all the crying ive been reading, but it was actually well done. sorry, this is just my opinion.

#20
lockdown51

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Bioware, fire whoever your head writer was and hire the OP. The former head writer clearly has jumped the shark.

#21
Jjacobclark

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If this gets deleted or locked please post this on all the big threads since it needs to be read

#22
SyyRaaaN

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I didn't read it all, but i think i made a similar point. The problem with the ending is that its out of context. So i assume i agree with u.

Edit; I didn't make the same point :D. But i still agree with you.

Edited by SyyRaaaN, 09 March 2012 - 07:52 PM.


#23
A Blind Bandit

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What's worse is that all 3 endings completely contradict what you've been told for 3 whole games.

Control: You are consistently shown through the Illusive Man that trying to play god is a bad idea.

Synthesis: You are consistently shown that trying to skip a step of evolution by means of outside forces is bad, seen through Legion, Mordin, Saren, and TIM.

Destroy: You must destroy the Geth, who you discovered had a place in the galaxy after all. The complete eradication of technology sends the galaxy back to the dark ages. Not to mention that you also just killed the quarians as they still need those suits.

Also in all cases the Mass Relays are destroyed. What was the point of saving the Galaxy if you're just going to doom it all anyway? Fighting for those planets was ultimately pointless as now none of the fleets can get home. This is doubly true for the Quarians/Geth. While the other worlds might have some chance of surviving as they still might have a civilian presence, the entire Quarian and Geth fleets were at Earth, now with no way back to Rannoch. So you got back the homeworld for no reason at all. The Krogan left on Tuchanka will just nuke themselves without Wrex around to keep them in line too.

#24
satrack

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+1

#25
sighineedname

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I agree with the first poster. These are some of my thoughts. Some are redundant with what the first poster said.

Why I Prefer to Alt F4 after killing the Illusive Man



Let me preface this by saying I realize this is just a game.
I realize this post was probably a giant waste of my time. The thing is I love the
art of storytelling. I read books for fun. Who does that anymore? I played Mass
Effect for this reason. The storytelling. I did not play it for the oft times clumsy
attempt at Gears of War style combat. This is why the ending is so egregious.

I completed the game with over 5000 mad skill war points (or
something like that), so this will be from that perspective.

I. Events Occurring in ME3

II. Missed Opportunities

I. Events Occurring in ME3

This part will cover events that occur in Mass Effect 3 that
either contradict the previous games or do not make sense given the ending.

We start with the Reapers attacking Earth. This sets the
tone, desperation, mood and motivation for us as the player). This is good. We
have much wailing and gnashing of teeth over having to leave Earth behind.
Realistic from what you’d expect of soldiers. As a side note in the section,
from a consistency standpoint, I think they showed the Reapers destroying at
too fast of a pace for the rest of the game to make sense, but I think that was
there for a sense of urgency. I don’t think anyone would care if you escaped
from Earth and the Reapers had so far managed to destroy Bill Gates’ house.

Next we move to Mars. We find there was a whole other set of
Prothean ruins there that went previously undiscovered. This has problems, but
ones I am willing to forgive. I knew there would have to be some device, for
lack of a better word, to kill the Reapers, given their number and power. I
would have liked it to be introduced in a way that did not conflict with the
universe though. We are talking about a universe that highly prizes Prothean
ruins for the technology they can bring, but somehow it escaped their notice
that there were more where they had already dug. I can accept this as an excuse
for them wanting to show us Mars given its place in the games lore. All in all,
this is not a huge issue. I was prepared coming in for a elaborate solution to
the Reapers, so I soldiered on.

The next portion of the game is largely running around and
assembling allies to bolster the all important Effective Military Strength
statistic (More on this in missed opportunities). The stuff here largely makes
sense, and is the main part of why I think this game could have been brilliant.
Shepard is spending his time acquiring allies and working out problems, as he
has been wont to do throughout the series. By now this is what we expect of
Shepard. We blow up many enemies and then talk others into doing things like
were the damn champion of the universe, because we are. For the purposes of
this, I won’t go in to how boring the planet scanning still was. I’m sure
everyone is capable of understanding why on their own.

Obviously, during this part of the game we met the new Cerberus.
This is where we start getting some major problems. First off, Bioware seems to
put a lot of effort in to making it look like Cerberus is not indoctrinated.
The attack on their facility in order for the Reapers to protect themselves is
the most obvious example. In the end the citadel-reaper-god-kid (CRGK) of
course confirms that they were indoctrinated. This was not a hard conclusion
for the player to come to, considering they had a bunch of Reaper tech stuck in
them and Reaper tech all over their bases. Of course they are indoctrinated.

As such, why the hell are the Reapers bothering to attack
that base at all? Bioware could have just filled it with a bunch of Cerberus
troops and it would have been fine. As it is, we’re left to wonder why the
Reapers were so worried if they already had Cerberus under control. This is
never resolved, and the actions of the Illusive Man seem rather bizarre as a
result. In addition, it turns out studying the Reapers was not even necessary in
order to control them, since Shepard could do it as one of the ending choices.
At least Cerberus keeps up its record of colossal failures. I was worried for a
while after they managed to successfully resurrect Shepard.

As a side note on Cerberus, who is this Kai Leng guy? I feel
like he was just shoved in our face as an antagonist. From a story telling
perspective, I feel like Thanes death was used as a literary hammer to beat us
into disliking Leng. Literary hammers tend to pull me out of the story (and I’m
sure this is true for others), which isn’t what you want to do to the player.
All in all, he felt kind of ham-fisted and ridiculous with his hilarious poses
and flips. My understanding is he is from the books or something. That’s fine
if you want to use a character from there, but they should be introduced to the
games if you want to use them in such a fashion (that is, not a hammer).

Anyway, we keep cruising along. Make Turians and Krogans all
friendly. Mordin makes some golden rain on Tuchanka and has one of the best
deaths I’ve seen in a game. Many times I think writers are guilty of using
death as the aforementioned literary hammer. Mordin’s was a completion of his
character. It was the culmination of his redemption, and I honestly felt sad to
watch him go, but happy that he was singing as he went out. Obviously, this
doesn’t apply if you renegade shot him, but it’s still fine from a storytelling
perspective.

We keep trucking, and start playing Tron with Legion. I’ll
bring up a minor issue here, just because it really annoyed me. We kill the
Reaper that is coordinating the Geth with an orbital bombardment from a huge
amount of ships. Firstly, why did I have to aim my targeting laser so precisely
if they were just going to bombard the crap out of the whole area? I didn’t
really understand that. Secondly, how come that one took so much firepower, but
you drop the one on Earth with two small missiles? Who knows?

Some of this is off topic so I people don’t think I’m just a
crazy hater. Throughout this phase of the game, there are many great
conversations that you have with your squad mates, both on ship and in the
Citadel, etc. I greatly enjoyed how your squad seemed more alive in this one,
compared to ME1 and 2.

We then reach the final phases of the game, starting with
Literary Hammer Leng stealing the Prothean VI from us on Thessia. Hey this
works, Shepard can fail. We see some humanity. Good stuff. Unfortunately this
is going to Cerberus who the Reapers are controlling into thinking they can
control the Reapers even though they would fail per CRGK because they are
controlled already. Something like that. Blah blah blah, we blow up Cerberus
because god dammit we need the catalyst. Turns out it’s the Citadel. Okay, nice
twist. I’ll buy it. The Reapers have moved it to Earth to protect it from our
plans. At this point I’m thinking “Okay, yes. The final epic fight. This is
going to be so awesome.” And it was! Tearful goodbyes, Anderson delivering
lines like boss, a Shepard speech to his crew, wading through lines of Reaperites
as people lay down their lives for the galaxy. It was all there. You could feel
the loss. You could feel the need to win. You could feel the determination.

We bleed and crawl our way to the control room in the
Citadel, waiting for epicness, but unaware of the tragic piece of storytelling
that will soon be revealed to us. The Illusive Man shows up. We hearken back to
the Saren-Shepard conversation from the first game where Illusive Man thinks he
is his own man. Anderson gets executed, or doesn’t. Anderson bleeds out in my
game because apparently I didn’t have enough of a reputation so far. Who is
that Shepard guy anyway?  Probably that
lunatic that ran around the galaxy and did every side quest except a couple he
forgot to turn in because he couldn’t tell in the journal that he had gotten
the part necessary for it. I digress. We blow away the Illusive Man. The game
ends. The credits roll. We know Shepard finished blowing up the Reapers. Earth
is devastated. Shepard crawls out bloodily as the hero. Or maybe he dies heroically,
whatever you want. (S)He lives by the beach with Ashley/Liara/Miranda/Jack/Tali/Traynor/Cortez/Garrus/Kaidan/Vega/Jacob/(poor
thane)/that news reporter that I left in the basement. You can think up
something suitably dark if that suits you. The series obviously was going to
have a dark tone considering it opens with one of your squad mate’s deaths.
Plenty of things could work here. I’ll have more on this later, when I bring up
lack of attachment to the ending that actually occurs.

But, no. This wasn’t the end. I didn’t alt f4. And I watched
the franchise come to the most embarrassing and pathetic conclusion I could
imagine. Turns out the Citadel is actually a part of a being, CRGK, that
controls the Reapers as a way to ensure that organic life continues.
Alright. Okay, so what do we do from here? Okay. We blow them all up.
Hey that sounds good, that fits with the game. Or we assume direct control
(Hey, why did we never have a conversation with Harbinger anyway. We just got
dying-mc-lame-voice-reaper). Alright…… Or we synthesize a new being that is a
hybrid.

The kid. Oh, the kid. Where did this come from? Here, in a
single moment, we destroy the Reapers malice. We destroy the Lovecraftian
horror of the Reapers. They’re just minions of the CRGK. This is the moment I
felt like the entire series came crashing down. People don’t need some insane
story to consider something worthwhile. It’s how the story is written. It’s how
the characters pull you in. It’s the believability. The foundations of the
fantasy.  The CRGK tossed it all out the
window. Huge problems occur in this moment. First of all is, if the Citadel is
a sentient thing controlling the Reapers, the first game should not have
occurred as it did. It should have been like oh hey, some bug dudes screwed
with my signal. Guess I should do something about that and let the Reapers
through. BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR, everyone dies. (That was my text
version of the Reaper roar; great sound, by the way). Another issue is I’m not
really sure why the CRGK’s MO is now ruined. Shepard made it there by consuming
all the previous civilizations warnings of the Reapers, and being stupendously
awesome. This cycle hasn’t put any effort in to preserving knowledge, except
Liara. We can assume it will have the same problems as the beacons did, except
we don’t have a safe house set up anywhere, and no Thorian to be a cipher anymore.
As a result, CRGK should just tell Shepard, “Haha, this was all a trick to
control your response” and watch him die of despair and depression.  The final problem with CRGK is, in the words
of what I said out loud when he started talking, “AGAGLGLABABLEGLAGLBLRLBARLBALBLAFLLBLB”.
How does this fit with the Mass Effect universe? There’s no consistency between
the games we played and the last five minutes where we talk to this kid. It’s
extremely frustrating. Where does the Reapers’s god-like complex come from?

“You exist because we allow it and you will end because we demand it.” How do
the Reapers even represent a preservation of life? Shepard has to state the
most obvious thing when he tells CRGK that taking away free will takes away the
point. This shouldn’t be enlightening to someone who could design the Reapers
and control the fate of the galaxy for that long. They shouldn’t need it
explained that that’s not really living. Mass Effect has always had an element
of struggle to it. Colony life is hard, AI’s causing problems, etc. The CRGK
takes away the entire struggle. Everything is just assembly line Reaper
production to suit the CRGK’s desires, which is based on an unproven
hypothesis. The hypothesis of synthetic life will dominate organic life is
contrary to what we have been doing through the three games. Namely, the Mass
Effect universe shows that synthetic beings can coexist and indeed seem to move
toward behaving as organic beings. There is no option to call the kid out on
this. Presumably he could just stop the Reaper’s himself since he controls
them, but Shepard loses his talking powers at the most crucial moment.

Now to address each of the choices. Reaper destruction. Hell
yeah. This side was all colored in red, so I guess it was supposed to be the “renegade”
ending, even though the whole series was about destroying the Reapers. This
should have been the ONLY (successful) ending, just not executed through CRGK.
And not resulting in your squad being on some random planet via a method that
seems counter to the universe. And blowing up all the mass relays for no discernable
reason. (Incidentally, all the armies of the galaxy are now stuck on some
decimated Earth, so I am forced to assume lots of starvation is on the way for
them). Okay, so anyway, this destroys all synthetic life. They even make a
point to mention how Shepard is partially synthetic. But mine was still alive
at the end because of my >5000 awesome points (however that matters). EDI
gets roasted, poor Joker. Geth all get obliterated. This is all dumb because
people can just rebuild them anyway.

Assuming Direct Control. This seems to be the “paragon”
ending, given it is bathed in blue. The thing is paragon Shepard was almost militantly
following the maxim of free will when he made decisions. He presented the case
and tried to not use force. Of course there were some exceptions (rewriting the
Geth), but in general he did not seem the type who wanted to enslave a sentient
race. But there it is. This ending sucks due to not fulfilling the purpose of Mass
Effect, namely, kill some Reapers baby. How is it satisfying for Shepard to be
the new Reaper god? Why would anyone set out for that as their goal as they are
playing this game? It runs counter to everything we have tried to accomplish so
far. It also has the same problems as the previously mentioned one. All the
relays blow up. Everyone is stuck on earth, blah blah. Crew winds up on random
ass planet still.

Synthesis. We create organic synthetic life that is the
pinnacle of evolution. Golly. This sounds a lot like Reapers. Sorry, I’m
forgetting they’re actually just synthetic now, even though we established in
Mass Effect 2 that they are organic synthetic hybrids. I think that’s all I
need to say about that. Who knows what was going on here? At least Joker can
get it on with EDI in this one.

My problem with this device of the ending is that nothing
here evoked catharsis. All it evoked was an “Uhh, what?” This isn’t Fringe,
guys. This isn’t the response you should want here. There’s no emotional payout
at the end. Great, my squad is stuck on random planet. They’re going back to
caveman-hood. Shepard dies never seeing his friends again. His friends don’t
even seem to give a damn about the sacrifice he made. Come on Bioware. Show us
a ceremony of sadness or something. Give us some form of emotional investment
in the ending. There was nothing, just Shepard being not quiet dead. Suck on my
>5000 points. The only satisfying part of the ending is I assume CRGK died
when the Citadel went nova. At least we took out on tragedy of writing with
this ending.

II. Missed opportunities

Oh boy, did ME3 miss a lot of opportunities. But, let me
start with what I think they didn’t miss.  The biggest thing here was the presentation of
the universe at war. All the side quests were related to war readiness. The
section of refugees was done well. You could feel the crowding and the desperation
to get in. People’s lives were being torn apart by the Reapers and that was
made apparent throughout the game. Bioware set the mood and tone brilliantly
throughout the game. From leaving Earth, to the final assault on the conduit,
it was all done excellently.

There were, I felt, large opportunities missed. I’ve covered
two already. Namely, any form of emotional payout from the ending and
exploiting the Lovecraftian horror of the Reapers. I did enjoy that we got to
see a more human side of Shepard, but I think they missed some opportunities
here. I think they missed a chance to have Shepard dealing with indoctrination.
After all, Shepard has been around a lot of Reapers. Actually, I found the
malice of indoctrination was largely absent from this game. Other than Cerberus
trying to harness it, the Reaper’s indoctrination was mainly mentioned in side
notes and the occasional side quest. We know from the previous games that will
power is a factor in indoctrination, and I would have liked to see that driving
some of Shepard’s character development. This would have been perfect in the
dark theme of the Mass Effect universe. The set up of the game ignores this
completely.

Another aspect of Shepard is the fact that he is full of
Reaper tech. We got a brief conversation about what Shepard thought of being
rebuilt, but we have no closure on the Reaper tech. In general, it seems that
the potency of Reaper tech has been diminished from the previous games. Whereas
before, any Reaper tech would grind a will down, in Mass Effect 3 this effect
seems largely to be arbitrarily decided. The Geth are no loaded with Reaper
technology, to no apparent adverse effect. Even in the presence of all the
Reapers at the final battle we are just given “They’re high tech now and they
stopped the possibility of indoctrination.” Oh, really? Would you care to
share, guys (its?)? I was hoping with some struggles with EDI over this.
Nothing. Mainly, I was hoping for something more with regards to Shepard and
the Reaper tech. Ashley seems to be the only one who holds suspicions, but that
wasn’t really about the Reaper tech, but that Shepard was willing to work with
Cerberus. It was obviously a substantial amount of tech used to bring someone
back from the dead, and I think it was a missed chance for further character
development. As a side note, shouldn’t cyborg Shepard just be able to pick up
Vega and toss him across the room?

The most egregious missed opportunity occurs in what I will
call the illusion of choice. Throughout Mass Effect 3 we are very blatantly
shown that our choices had almost no impact, while playing the game where they
should have had the most. I felt like decisions had more impact in Mass Effect
2 than 3. This problem is highlighted best in the Effective Military Strength
rating. Every choice you made just boils down to a small adjustment on the EMS
rating. I won’t even go into the essentially mandatory multiplayer to get
>5000 EMS. Where was the connection we made with these people in the
previous games? In ME3 we barely got emails from them like we did in ME2. I
didn’t find Parasini anywhere, for example. Shiala was just cut down to 20
points or something on my EMS. I can’t even remember impacts from my side
quests in ME2 that I did. And I did all of them. Every choice we made just
adjusted our EMS without any influence on the world. Obviously, saving the Council
or not had some impact, but no effective difference in the possible endings. The
biggest example of the illusion Bioware presented with Mass Effect was the
Rachni. I’m sure this pissed off many other people. If you kill the Rachni
queen, you are treated to a synthetically created queen that creates Rachni for
the Reapers to then convert into Reaperites. Excuse me, but holy **** Bioware.
Could you more explicitly tell me that you don’t give a damn about what I chose
in the previous games?

This illusion of choice was one of the biggest failings that
the ending offered. Not only did any combination of choices lead to the same
possible endings assuming you had enough to get your EMS high enough, those
three endings were essentially identical. I picked the destroy Reapers, since
that was the point of Mass Effect to me, but I watched videos of the other two.
We are treated to the exact same ending with a different color shockwave. Did
Bioware just not care at this point? Not only did our choices from the first
two not really present different opportunities, but even the final choice of
how to solve the Reaper threat results in roughly the same outcome, tweaked in various
ways. Is it too much to think that Bioware should have given us three distinct
ending videos? For crying out loud, Joker still limps in the synthesis ending.
At least they could have fixed that. That wouldn’t have solved the flaw created
by the citadel reaper-god kid, but at least it would have lessened the sting of
bad story telling a fraction.

I know it is impossible to write an ending that will please
everyone. I’m sure there are people who were upset when Frodo did not have the
will to throw the Ring into the fire. The thing is, I suspect this ending
pleased very few, and it is definitely possible to write an ending (dark,
merry, whatever) that pleases many.

As I said when I started, I know this is just a game, but
like when some people were upset that Han didn’t shoot first, I feel like
Bioware essentially ruined the point of the franchise with the ending.
Hopefully Mass Effect spawns more epic storytelling in the gaming sector, but
hopefully they do not continue the tradition of Mass Effect’s pointless and
unsatisfying ending. I did enjoy the game for all but the last few minutes, and
if the ending was good I probably would not have even thought about the flaws.
To that end, any subsequent play through that I may do, like a renegade play, I will
just alt f4 after shooting the Illusive Man and leave my imagination to finish
off a great space opera.

Edited by sighineedname, 09 March 2012 - 07:50 PM.