By John Walker on June 28th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.
You know what – let me apologise and make something clear. The phrasing wasn’t ideal, but my intent was only to call those who stamped around demanding the ending be changed for them, and behaving in really extremely unpleasant ways, farts. Not those who didn’t like the ending, and those who expressed their disappointment with the ending. Not liking things is clearly not worthy of fartdom. So I’m sorry for the offence caused to those whom I wasn’t trying to offend.
I liked the ending of Mass Effect 3. I’ve said so before. I acknowledge there were plot holes, perhaps even mistakes, but not being a self-entitled giant fart of a human, I find that I’m able to accept that the ending of something does not have to meet my preconceived expectations, nor wrap up everything I’ve encountered in a neat bow – heck, I can even hate it – without requiring it be changed. Human stories rarely end that way, and nor should all fiction have to. However, the farting was so loud and so smelly that BioWare felt a need to react. And so it is that new endings are available for the game. I’ve now seen all four. Clearly this involves hefty spoilers for the original game. I only discuss one of the new endings in any detail, however, but still you might want to see them for yourself first.
I won’t repeat myself on why I enjoyed the original endings. And I’m just so damned delighted to see the giant F-YOU that BioWare have given to those demanding they rewrite it. All three endings have been enormously embellished, lots of new detail and fixes have been added, and there’s a fourth brand new ending too. But they’ve stuck to their vision, and kept an ending that sees Shepard sacrifice her life in order to bring about massive change to the galaxy. Change that, sure, makes lots of what came before seem irrelevant. Because that’s what change does.
But importantly, they’ve also addressed some of the very valid issues people raised. I’d say the big two were: how on Earth was the Normandy back at Earth again?, and why didn’t the whole galaxy explode when the mass relays were destroyed?
The former is dealt with really nicely. They took out the mistake, and added in a brand new scene where you see Joker landing near the Reaper they’re trying to take out. Whichever two crewmates you took with you are then rescued before the giant laser beam obscures the screen (which also “fixes” the other bit where people decided they were dead, without having seen them die, and then threw their food at the wall and shat their pants.) And for me, it added a bloody excellent moment, as Garrus, my beaux, looked at me from the boarding platform with loss and pain in his eyes, and found the words to tell me that he loved me. Sniff.
Once with ghost-boy, I’m not sure if it’s my bad memory, or if things make a bit more sense this time. They always mostly did, in fairness. A lot of people seemed to come unstuck here because the Catalyst contradicted himself, and his arguments were flawed. Guess what: the Catalyst contradicted himself, and his arguments were flawed. A creature with near infinite power done fucked up, and it’s Shepard’s appearance on the platform with him that reveals this. It’s why you get to choose. And of course, the notion that this in any way denies the entirety of what’s come before is sheer madness – the Reapers have been there for a reason, trying to wipe out civilisations for a reason – we just found out the reason.
But this time there’s a fourth choice. I discovered it quite by mistake. I left clicked by accident and my gun fired. So I thought, what if… and shot the boy. He didn’t like that. “The cycle continues,” he said. And oooh, an interesting new way for things to play out.
The three previous choices begin in the same way, but are now fleshed out with some superb new CGI sequences in which we see the consequences of the choice meaningfully playing out on a number of planets. Then there’s also some really lame concept-art stills with narration, but heck, this was free. The scenes begin the same in each ending, but end differently, either with the Reapers destroyed, taken over, or of course the best choice of all, synthesis.
That was what I picked first, after my accidentally finding the fourth finish. I wanted to see how things would wrap up with my original choices. And I bloody loved it. I picked synthesis, and while it told me little that I didn’t know, I got to see far more of its happening. I saw Reapers and other species working together to rebuild the galaxy. I saw people with glowy green eyes. I saw Krogans with green-eye-glowing babies.
The other two have similar new content. Often times it’s the same scenes redone, but much more meaningfully than with a different colour filter. And crucially, you also see some significant changes to the way the mass relays are affected. They’re not blown up any more. They’re either unharmed, or damaged. But it seems they can be rebuilt. It’s not quite the brutal, galaxy-exploding/isolating conclusion many refused to suspend their disbelief to ensure.
There’s one more new addition. A lovely scene, that again I won’t spoil, but adding a clever touch of closure without compromising or denying anything. Again, it’s the same for all three of these endings, but importantly there’s a different narrator for each. And talking of different, of course these endings are adapting to what happened as you played all three games, who’s still alive, who died, and who you porked.
I think BioWare have done an absolutely stunning job here. They’ve maintained their integrity and their vision, they’ve stuck to the ending they wanted to tell, but they’ve been contrite enough to fix genuine mistakes. They’ve embellished upon what they already had, and in doing so have made things feel more meaningful without tying stupid bows to every thread. They’ve clearly spent a fortune doing it, and it’s yours for free.