I tried not to spoil stuff, and just allude to things, but fuck it. If you really want to play the game, play it. Iím considering giving my 360 copy away, so ask nicely, maybe Iíll let you have it.
Last night, I managed to finish what was about a hundred hours of video gaming. Between the three games that all link together, Iím invested. Iím in. I want to see this thing through and finish it out. Good or bad, I donít give a fuck, I just want things to wrap up. Mass Effect has always been a series that took the core of Biowareís tried and tested three dialog choices. Their usual light side and dark side mechanics and put those into a standard third person shooter. Say what you will, the shooting is on par with The Club, Stranglehold, or any other third person shooter still using bullet time, I was a soldier in all three games, I used bullet time pretty continuously in all these games. What made Mass Effect work, is that it adds the Bioware mechanics from Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. To argue that the system isnít nearly identical, is to prove to me youíre fucking idiot, this is the same bullshit theyíve done, and they do this bullshit in such a way that Iím in every time.
They added in a great deal of characters, races, and the histories of these people. I love that. Talking to your team on your ship while youíre between shooting missions is great. Especially when a giant lizard monster whose tough as nails is telling you the story of how his people had been all but completely sterilized by a race of scientist frog aliens, and you can romance a blue chick, like classic Star Trek, but instead of it being completely out of nowhere, it sort of makes sense that you would bone la blue girl right before the big suicide mission. All the while, a big bad alien robot is cruising around and youíre the only guy bad enough to stop him.
This formula was repeated in two, with the stakes being raised and elaborated on. There you work on assembling a bigger team, all of whom now have the possibility of dying in this second game. Also, depending on your choices in the first game, those characters you came to know and be friends with, they could die based on what you did or didnít do.
That lizard man who growls your name after speaking with him changed his character arc from this marauding space bandit, to the only guy with enough stones to rally his people. Seeing him as a leader, as the leader of his people was sort of a big thing. The way he was now, after several years had passed doing this, it was amazing. And in Mass Effect 3, heís still very much the leader of his people, and I got to help him, his people, and managed to come out as some sort of hero to his people. That was fucking awesome, and it wasnít the A story. It was at best, the C story that played throughout this entire adventure, and I was into it.
I played these games, as a dick.
I was a renegade, with minimal light side choices in all three games. I punched out female reporters, even the one who was once on Podtoid. I kicked guys out of glass windows, and occasionally I just left aliens who tried to jive talk to me to die. Any chance to do the dickhead thing, I did and I laughed my head off every time I said or did anything cold blooded. Iím just that kind of guy I guess. Occasionally, I did the right thing and saved characters, and made what seemed like the right thing to do at the time to me.
Regardless of these douche choices, your character is still the hero at the end of every story. You come out smelling like a rose, even if you didnít save all the aliens or do exactly the right thing in the right place, youíre the hero of the galaxy. The whole crutch of the first two games is about these giant robots, one of which you manage to whoop in the first game, while the second focused on bad guys who worked for them, I think. The ending showed that there were tons of these big robots, and that you were fucked. Iím pretty sure the ending text said ďnext time on Mass Effect: youíre so fucked!Ē
Luckily, the third game ties in all the choices and relationships youíve established in the first two games, into this new mechanic where you get assigned points based on which war assets you gain. Say you saved a frog alien in the first game, him and his squad are twenty five points. This score is automatically halved, unless you play the multiplayer horde/killzone bullshit. No thanks Electronic Arts, this is a single player RPG. There had to be at least one guy who stood up in the office and raised his arm, implying with his gesture, ďwhat the fuck!?Ē But there wasnít. This game shipped with multiplayer, that was tied into the singleplayer, that I wasnít going to play. Iím not paying another sixty dollars to play online, type this stupid code in, and then play horde mode with evolving objectives, like Killzone 2 did, and have that be the reason why I save the galaxy.
This led me to doing sidequests, trying desperately to do as many of the boring fetch quests I always ignore in RPGS. Remember those boards in Dragon Age: Origins with all the quests? I never used those, once. Didnít need them. I donít like going and getting bullshit for people and bringing it back to them, that was my job when I worked construction, I donít need a virtual version of me getting coffee and hammers for fuckís sake. Here, I felt like I needed every ounce of anything for this ending. I wanted to save the galaxy with a space armada that could take on god, the devil, and batman all teamed up with steroids, crack, and a couple of really pissed off hillbillies. My space army was going to win this thing, and god dammit, we were gonna win it good!
This high score I was building, didnít factor into anything. I never saw each specific fleet that I brought many items from scanned planets to. I never saw the buttholes I teamed up with shouting as their space ship went into battle. I got a really generic, hobbled together mess of a cutscene where it was the basics. ďHumans, reporting in. Other aliens here. And these other aliens.Ē Then an awkward cut to another set of aliens, and their canned appearance. That was it. That was all I got to see of any of that. It seemed so binary in its presentation, that I actively felt insulted.
I kept yelling at the TV while this final battle raged, ďwhy arenít you fucking idiots shooting their weak spots? I showed you fuck faces how to do this, Metal Gear Solid 2 style, god dammit!Ē Kinect was incapable of knowing what this meant, proving that our video games have yet to have sentience outside of a Dreamcast thinking. I donít have a kinect, but a friend of mine did. Well, no, no he didnít. But you could imagine if he did, and I was yelling at it, it would have no idea what I was talking about. These guys entire everything depends on winning this fight, yet they wonít shoot the bad guys in their weakspot? The big glowing red weak spot, that any idiot would know to shoot at. Iím pissed about that.
There was no final boss encounter, which surprised me.
After fighting a rouge spectre agent and the terminator, I expected to fight some wild big boss battle. Instead, I fought a guy, about an hour before everything ends that I guess was supposed to be the final boss? There is an encounter, where you talk through a situation, but at some point I want the actual game part to matter for something. So after that, I limp my way to a choice between chaos, order, and individuality? I mean that. I actually limped my way to a choice. Shin Megami Tensei does a better job at letting the decisions you make impact your ending using the same three ideals, but here Iím presented with what each of these endings will be, and I limped to the individualist ending, which is where I usually fall in my thoughts.
The moral black and white of the world is always apparent to me, even if it isnít actually there. Iíve burned a lot of bridges, but Iíve let them burn for what I thought were the right reasons. If the world is in gray or not is irrelevant to me, I see it in black and white, as do game developers despite telling us bullshit the NCR and Ceaser's Legion are neither good nor evil. In the course of playing Mass Effect 3, a major character committed suicide directly because of a choice I made. Despite my attempts to save them, I failed. As the final goodbye conversations are happening, I began trying to write the feeling it gave me, that as part of this story with my cypher, I had made friends with these characters and that this is it. This is the final battle.
Like everybody else, I was confused as to who lived in my ending. It certainly seemed like the two characters that went with me, had to be dead. That there was no way possible that they could have lived, and how the hell did this character who showed up in the main end, get back on the space ship? I understood the ending completely. Nothing I havenít seen in films like The Matrix before, just presented with a happy conclusion here. The whole argument the final talk has bothers me, they made a thing that would kill organics so that things built by organics wouldnít kill them. This is bullshit, as evidenced by this Xzhibit macro.
To nit pick this ending more, requires information I donít have. GameFront suggested that something in the DLC for Mass Effect 2, contradicts all three endings. It was explained as being from The Arrival, which I didnít play. In fact, I didnít play any of the DLC and had a fantastic time with this game. If I play Mass Effect 3 again, I might buy the downloadable add-in character from the start. Same with Mass Effect 2, if I do that again, I want Liara on my team. My Sheppered romanced her, as I would, simply because of William Shatner blue chick bucket list talk. If I met a female alien, of course Iíd try to fuck her. Especially if she was blue.
Bad endings are a thing I wrote about before, about how the ending I get is the ending I consider ďcannon.Ē Even if it is the worst thing imaginable. Which, I think I got the best ending for Mass Effect 3. At the very least, a better ending. The arguments for light side and dark side are contradicted by the light and dark endings, or so I was told. I donít think Iíll ever watch those endings, unless I play Mass Effect again with the intention of doing the worst possible light side playthrough, where I just screw the entire galaxy over by being a big soft pussy good guy.
Ultimately, I think that is why I like Mass Effect. Video games typically make me feel like a big pussy. The heroes are often inept, like Samus from Metroid and Aries from God of War, they always lose all their powers in their sequels, never building on anything they learned in previous games. Master Chief and Mario are hardly even characters, they speak, but their look is enough to be what matters more than anything. Maverick Sheppered was a character I made, he looked vaguely Jewish, I imagined him like a badass Israeli commando type. A direct descendant of the holocaust, heís not one to stand for ethnic cleansing. Heís willing to save the universe by any means necessary, and isnít afraid of doing that which he considers the most foul himself, if he has to. This backstory, I made up. One race was wiped off the map during my play through.
As I write all this, Iím watching David Lynchís ending to Twin Peaks.I'm trying to take that ending to my thirty hour commitment in, while contemplating a hundred hour commitment from a video game. Sometimes, I wish the ending I saw for Army of Darkness wasnít the awesome one where he gets the girl and fights the demon in a shopping mall, but the one where he goes to an apocalyptic future, that the rest of the world got to see instead. Alternate endings and endings matter, if an ending retcons another ending, ok. Iím in, if it is a hilarious retcon, like the dog peeing on Freddy Krueger or when Jason was dug up and had lighting strike him, or even better, Frankesntein falling into a convient basement cave in the windmill and surviving. I love shit like that, comic books are bred on that type of bullshit, and Iím curious to see if the rumored Truth DLC is actually real or not. I have high hopes for what Mass Effect 4, I know they will release something eventually, this is Electronic Arts. Their too stupid to let a franchise lay dormant, unless that franchise is the gold box games, specifically Buck Rodgers on Genesis, which Mass Effect directly pulls ideas from several times. I loved that game for the same reason I love Mass Effect, it was me making my team of dudes and carving my own path through the universe, ultimately trying to save the day.
That is what is is all about right? I was to save the day. I'm the hero, or anti hero, and I'm going to save the day. The choices I was presented with let me do that. Knowing how life goes, I don't know what to tell people that can't take a bummer ending. The problems is logic, I have a problem with, but they happened. Done deal, so who cares. I always like to compare our lives to stories, that people who died that I know, their story ends, and mine keeps going. Endings are important. I knew the ending to The Bonerquest, early on. The best way to write, is to write backwards knowing where things are going and what your ending is then tying everything to that moment. Victory, pain, and redemption are all important ideas for an ending to have, as a tragedy or comedy, every story needs elements of both in their ending. I found the final epilogue after the credits on Mass Effect 3, hilarious. The old man calls the kid "my sweet," and Sheppered is reffered to as "the sheppered," so now you're Jesus? I love it. Things got as dumb as they possibly could, and I love that.
I really thought it would be me either saving the day or destroying everything, but the shades of gray in all three endings blurs that line. I think I saved the day with my ending, and that the other two were not even options to consider. But that's just my opinion.
My final verdict? I liked Mass Effect 3. If I had to review it, I'd cite the known import glitch, the galactic readiness being vague, the reaper chases, and strange graphical and sound glitches being rampant. There are no excuses for these things, they exist. Might lack replay value and their are hard to ignore faults. 7/10
My final thought about the series? I liked it.
I wish it had just been one, long full game with no ďoptionalĒ downloadable content, like Persona 3.
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