[This article contains spoilers and rambling, you have been warned!]
Iíd like to begin by stating I donít consider myself a blogger or even a decent writer, but I felt the need to say something in regard to Mass Effect 3 and its ending controversy as it is an issue I have a strong opinion of and a series of games I have a love for and can write passionately about. So Iíll start off with a statement of my general feeling walking away from ME3:
In my honest opinion Mass Effect 3 and the ending was decent at best and next to the first game it is a disappointment.
Donít misunderstand me though, Iím not saying the game is bad but I canít help but feel Mass Effect has lost a lot of its spirit; it has lost a lot of what made it special to begin with and made it a magical universe to explore. I concede it is a slick shooter with impressive graphics and deep interaction, but thatís not the entirety of what makes Mass Effect so great.
So what makes Mass Effect special to me? I pretty much summed it up a while ago on a fan forum when talking about the Mass Effect 1, the entire game gives you a ďhell yeah!Ē feeling from start to finish. Essentially Mass Effect 1 gives you a deep feeling of personal involvement and immersion that I have found in very few games. It is an incredible experience where you can journey from planet to planet being the hero and creating your own legendary story.
I can remember so many enjoyable ME1 moments that can make me gush like a fanboy, like the conversation at the start where Anderson, Hackett and Udina decide Shepard is the only one they can depend on and then the Mass Effect theme plays as Shepard strides through the Normandy to the bridge, the landing on Eden Prime and the race against time to save the colony, exploring the length of the Citadel and meeting the different races, the induction of Shepard as the first human Spectre, saving the Feros colony, unravelling what happened at Noveria and deciding on the fate of a species, going to Virmire and storming Sarenís facility where you first meet the sinister Reaper Sovereign, making the hard choice of sacrificing one of your team, travelling to Ilos and speaking to Vigil the only link to the ancient Prothean race, talking with the squad and getting to know them and romancing an LI, and finally the epic conclusion where you walk up the side of the council tower and defeat Saren and Sovereign, the game finishes up with Shepard defying death and talking with the council and then finally striding off heroicly stating it isnít over yet...
Someone give Drew Karpyshyn a fucking medal for being a credit to the games industry and for writing one of the best plots in Sci-Fi, when I finished the game I felt like I should be standing and clapping. Thatís the reason itís special, it was an incredible experience and unique.
If youíve played Mass Effect 3 you might read that and say to me but Mass Effect 3 has all that, but ask yourself does it really? did you feel any heroism about being sent to save a colony to fight Cerberus, fighting with a few waves in an arena and then getting a reward of a thanks email and some war assets? did you get that personal feeling of involvement with squadmates without a personal quest and many following conversations? Did you feel elated when they reinstated your spectre status when they said oh youíre a spectre again nonchalantly? did you feel like you were on a planet and not a small spit of land following an arrow? did you honestly feel like your decisions mattered? Did you feel like you were discovering a whole new universe?
To me these are important questions and I have to say no to all of them, but Iím not so blinded by my personal feelings to suggest nobody had fun playing the game but Iíd be fairly certain in my assumption quite a few fans had significantly less fun this time around.
Then we have the game interspersed with fetch quests which are hollow and meaningless: go to this system and scan this planet and get them their goddamn relic. Shepard is supposed to be the hero not the city handyman like DA2ís Hawke for crying out loud!
Then we have combat. Now the combat is great most of the time and you do feel powerful but consider how long the game is, people are clocking in at 20-50 hours. At about the halfway point through the game you are going to see it, you are going to see through the illusion and realise you are being lead from one killing room to the other fighting the same enemies and the game tries to make it more fresh by...adding more enemies youíve already seen. This is the problem when a game is more shooter oriented and you stretch out the gameplay, at 20+ hours itís like playing through CoD 4 four times, you begin to see the repetition and when you are told to visit this objective you know you will reach it fight a wave of enemies, reach the next objective to allow you to do the first objective and then fight off a wave of enemies and then youíre done.
Now the ending/s, I can forgive everything but this. I played through the game and thought finally! Finally I am going to find out the amazing story behind the Reapers and why they harvest people, ever since Sovereign and even Harbinger my curiosity and interest has escalated. Then we find out they harvest organic life to protect it? really? really? I thought the Reapers were supposed to be intelligent but their solution to eliminating conflict is to create the biggest goddamn conflict imaginable and eliminate every fucking thing? seriously wow...
Then we get absolutely no epilogue on what happened after, to the races or your team, and also thereís no explanation about how you choices affected anything after, this is the conclusion of Shepards story right? Then where is the conclusion? except for a brief cutscene and a text box which still tells us nothing except ďyou got rid of the Reapers, good job!Ē
You know truthfully I didn't find the synthesis ending (the best ending apparently) too bleak, I fully expected Shepard to die but I expected the catalyst being so unique and able to direct the crucibles power that it could only be an organic which would be the catalyst. To save the universe it would be necessary to pay that ultimate price of self-sacrifice and the Reapers would once and for all be destroyed. So a mixture of the synthesis ending and the destroy the reaper ending, and then maybe after show the survivors returning to normal life and what happened to your team and maybe a baby Shep on the way if you romanced someone, oh and another statue obviously, this is Shepard saviour of the goddamn universe we are talking about.
Sadly it wasnít the case and the best ending was sacrifice yourself to turn everyone into walking circuit boards and suddenly organics and synthetics will stop seeing each other differently and be the same group... yup, because itís not like organics fight organics or synthetics fight synthetics...sigh...
Despite my rant and heavy criticism I still love this series and Iím thankful to Bioware for bringing us these great games but itís difficult to stifle disappointment and part of me does feel concerned for Bioware as it looks like both in Dragon Age and Mass Effect they have started to go on the downhill and started trying to distil the essence of the franchises to their basic elements while losing the spirit of what made those originals great.
So in conclusion, Itís a simple fix, we just need more ďhell yeah!Ē in future.
( If you have read this far all I can say is thanks for enduring my rambling and let me know if you agree or disagree with the points Iíve made.)