You know something went wrong with your video game when tens of thousands of fans who were thrilled to finally play it ultimately ended up enraged and signing petitions to get the game’s ending fixed. This was the case with BioWare’s trilogy-maker, Mass Effect 3.
But, to their credit, BioWare took notice after all the negativity, and they promised to make some big changes for their fans to try and make it up to them. Those changes ending up becoming a nearly 2GB add-on called the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut, which you can download for free right now if you’ve not already.
Now that the add-on has been released, you’ve been able to check it out, and some time has passed, there is only one question to be asked: are you satisfied with Mass Effect 3 in the end? Head below for more and to speak your mind on the changes, but do no proceed if you’ve not beaten the game. Spoilers, there shall be.
I personally was far behind everyone else in my game, and could only think to myself while playing “all this anger HAS to be an overreaction, right? The ending can’t be THAT bad, can it? How hard could it possibly be to close out a trilogy that’s been as good as the Mass Effect trilogy?” Then I reached the end. I saw what all of you saw. And I too was deeply saddened by what had played out to my betrayed eyes.
The problem was that Mass Effect 3‘s ending was probably the least complicated thing to achieve. If you’re like me, you didn’t need some big complex ending. When closing the book on a character as special to many of us as Shepard is, you need only give us satisfactory closure. The Reapers are the big threat and have been for over the course of the entire trilogy, so all I wanted in ME3 was a ridiculously epic game that got me to that dramatic ending where we finally end the Reaper threat and save the universe again. Nothing more than that was necessary. It didn’t matter that it would have been predictable, because we earned that ending; we all expected it to come down to that, ever the confident commander we are.
But BioWare ended up overthinking it, trying far too hard to do something unique and complex when we as players just wanted what we had fought for. The result was a surreally strange mixture of space ghost kids and the painfully poor decision to bring everything you had fought for, their all-important final decision, down to a freakin’ color. And it all crumbled down on them. It’s not the first time the developer has tried to do too much, either. The end of Mass Effect 2 was as great as the rest of the game…right up until you found yourself fighting a giant terminator. Not too damaging to the overall product, yet not at all necessary either.
All of that said, I could have been fine with space kid and his colors. Maybe even satisfied with certain endings, depending on which was chosen. What really killed me was the lack of closure on many of the characters, and the frustration that came with most big choices.
Through the whole game you’re thinking two things: “these damn Reapers are going down,” and “I’m going to lose a hell of a lot of people…most likely including myself.” But why does it always have to be “with good, there is always bad” with BioWare? We finally get to kill the Reapers and…oh, sorry, if you do that, you have to die and all the Mass Relays blow up, too! Fantastic. Now you’re thinking about the other choices you don’t want to pick but feel the need to anyway in order to try and save everything. Obviously you can’t save everything, but this is Commander Shepard we’re talking about; if he can save them, he’s damn well going to try, even if it leads him away from his original gameplan. In my game, I wanted that red ending (which is actually not a bad ending overall) so very badly, but ended up picking something else because I didn’t want to see the Mass Relays destroyed, and I hated the thought of BioWare killing Shepard off just because they say it’s the end of his story.
Call me stubborn, but after being forced to warm up to some new jackass in Dragon Age II, I dread to this day the thought of having to step into the shoes of an entirely new character if they ever make Mass Effect 4. Then again, the old gentleman at the very end of the game (Buzz Aldrin) does tell his grandson he’ll tell him one more story about “The Shepard,” but let’s not get our hopes up like we did for Seinfeld.
After that my mind was running, trying to figure out what exactly I had chosen over my first preference. Then everything started flashing before my eyes, Garrus apparently invented teleportation in his spare time, didn’t tell anyone, and jumped over to the Jurassic Park island with Joker and EDI somehow (in my game, anyway), and then it’s all over. In the blink of an eye, it felt. Where was everyone else aside from the main characters—Wrex (my personal favorite character), Jack, Miranda, Grunt, so on—I had formed a bond with over three games and well over one hundred hours of playing this story? Who had survived the final push, and whose name was being added to the wall on the Normandy? These were the crucial things I needed to see and never got. These were very likely the same things that drove many of you insane. These were the things BioWare tried to remedy.
According to them, their extended cut would fill in a lot more story details, and offer much more closure overall. Which brings us to the reason you’re here in the first place (OK, so we took the scenic route—I never got to vent about the ending when it first came out!).
You, my friends, are the judge and jury…executioner, too, if necessary. You make the call. With the changes that BioWare has made, do you have the closure and the satisfaction you originally hoped for? I personally think the game will always be tainted by these issues and the fact that space kid and the colors remain, but I am happy that there is more closure now and I’m not left completely clueless.
Can we move on happily and eventually replay the whole trilogy (and perhaps Mass Effect 4) knowing how things play out, or was the damage simply too great?