Magnificent And Important Advent Calendar: Day Sixteen

By RPS on December 16th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

Day Sixteen of Advent is of course St. Angela’s Day, the day on which we remember that despite our differences, we can all get along if we just ignore each other and internalise our hate into some sort of ulcer or embolism. So with this in mind, let’s gently peel back the flap to see what’s behind Horace’s unwelcoming glare today.

It’s… Mass Effect 3!

Jim: I couldn’t and didn’t anticipate the amount of noise this would generate. On the one hand I didn’t foresee the ending being quiet so objectionable to so many, and on the other I couldn’t have imagined the extent to which they would have been shouted down by internet commentators with different views. I was left in the middle – as satisfied as I’d expected to be by the ending (when are they ever good?) but at the same time pleased with what I’d seen in the game. Yes, I disliked the combat much more than I had when playing Mass Effect 2 (I can hardly even remember 1, now, but I don’t think I liked that much either) but everything else in the game had rung my bell quite competently.

Mass Effect 3 did big, dark fates pretty well. The opening was calamitous, the ending seemed (to me at least) suitably final. An apocalyptic orchestral strike at the end of a very long composition. And there are certain movements in that overall piece that I really did find affecting. One death, a heroic sacrifice, particularly – I think you know the one – made me nod: Bioware knew what they were doing.

I think there’s something else here, though. Which is to say that we really love Guns & Conversation. The reason so many people care so fervently is that these games really speak to us, whatever their problems. We want choice, we want character, and we want studios who can build thriving, fascinating worlds that we want to explore and care about. The Mass Effect games, I hope, represent the first step in making a mature version of that. You could write a science fiction, I suppose, of the sci-fi games to come. Perhaps this is just the prologue. At least that’s what it feels like to me.

Alec:

It’s not really possible to think or talk about Mass Effect 3 on its own terms, is it? It’s very much part of a picture, and all about trying to bring resolution to relationships and characters built up over a half-decade. I found myself far more excited about prospect of meeting Wrex and Mordin again, of seeing what had changed on the Normandy and revisiting worlds affected by my choices in earlier games than I was by the idea of shooting and levelling up and buying model spaceships. There was the sense that I was in the late stages of some titanic Fighting Fantasy book, waiting with excited nervousness to see if I’d made wise decisions or not, to see if I really could make it all the way to the end.

Perhaps that’s what Mass Effect 3 did best – a sense throughout that we truly were in the climactic stages of this grand space adventure, rather than wandering casually through the galaxy. It’s that more consistent excitement/tension/end of the universe spectacle that most shone in this slice of a much-changed trilogy, though I do have to force myself to remember past the deflation and cod-mysticism of the limp ending proper to recall the grand and thrilling doom of the game’s bulk.

Though, perhaps, I should most admire Mass Effect 3 for often defeating my antipathy towards cutscenes. Having built up some excellent, nuanced and highly likeable characters over the course of three games, I was engaged in the cinematics in a way almost no other game manages. On the other hand, this does mean I’m solely praising the game for its presentation rather than its mechanics. I am a mite disturbed by that.

Even if I am writing these words purely due to emotional manipulation, let’s not shirk from high praise for how deft said manipulation was. I even cried like a tiny baby when [redacted] nobly met their fate while seeking a resolution to the Krogan genophage sub-plot which had run through all three games. Truly, their xenoscience studies ranged from urban to agrarian. A fitting end to a well-loved character – and one that, melodramatic license aside, made absolute sense within the broader arc of the series. I guess that’s also why I found the ultimate ending so wretched by comparison – I’m here to see science, not magic, save the universe. It’s those earlier, per-character endings that made Mass Effect 3 the conclusion the series needed.

John: I’ve said everything I can think of to say about the ending of Mass Effect 3, and why it was great. I think it’s important to discuss the other 99.5% of the game too, which was also fantastic.

Looking back at the trilogy, the second part stands out as my favourite – just the song alone is enough to secure that – but III is definitely the most accomplished. It takes a mature step forward, develops a lot more focus, and delivers some massive dramatic beats. What had been made comfortable in the first two games was destroyed, ripped apart, any notion of stability in the lives of the characters we’d grown close to taken away. But at the same time it built on the history you’d created, delivered on choices you’d made – even unknowingly – and let me pursue a relationship with a character begun in one game, and beautifully continued in another. That alone makes Mass Effect 3 utterly unique, and Samantha Shepard’s relationship with Garrus felt so distinctively mine. Their parting words, their final moments in that much discussed ending, were heartbreaking and wonderful, not just because they were expertly written and completely appropriate to the two strongly developed characters, but because the relationship had felt real beforehand.

And I think that hints at the most important thing about Mass Effect 3. Despite the torrents of bullshit that were spoken about the game, it absolutely did deliver on the choices you’d made in all three games, and your decisions absolutely did have massive consequences. An entire race died at the hands of another, and decisions I’d made in Mass Effect 2 dictated how much influence I could have over it in the third game. Characters I’d previously saved were present to make a difference in my experience, and those I’d failed weren’t there to impact my story further. Relationships had meaning, and the events throughout the game (and that’s what is so agonisingly missed by the frothing few) were the result of the last few years of playing this series. And even that final moment, that ultimate ending – while not directly linked to a binary switch I’d flipped in a previous game – my decision was absolutely influenced and driven by the character I’d been for over 100 hours, the friendships she’d had, the experiences she’d been through, and the ongoing telling of a massive space opera that dramatically peaked at that point. To pretend it wasn’t based on how I’d played the game would be madness.

Few games can claim to have done what Mass Effect achieved. Despite so many gaming series having not only reached their third part, but even their 13th, none has ever created such a strong bond between all three, none has created a true trilogy. Mass Effect was a true trilogy.

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224 Comments »

  1. Bhazor says:

    A literal Deus Ex machina equals a good ending?

    I give up trying to understand the love so many people have for such a bland sci fi soap opera. I’ll just go back to praying for Anachranox part 2.

    • Lacessit says:

      Bye!

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I tend to concede to a lot of criticism aimed at Mass Effect (quite a lot of them from myself), but one thing I never understood was how the games were ‘bland’. They were anything but bland. Cliched maybe, but not bland.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Aren’t the two basically synonyms?

        • malkav11 says:

          No. Bland means that there’s nothing interesting, memorable or compelling about it. Cliched means that its ideas aren’t original. Cliched things can still be interesting, memorable and compelling if done well enough.

          • Consumatopia says:

            I guess by that definition ME3 is certainly not bland–people are always going to remember ME3 as an example of a deeply flawed game. It’s not that most of the game was flawed, it’s that the flaw is the most memorable part of the game.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            That’s an interesting fact.

            Here’s another interesting fact. The ending is not the most memorable part of MEIII for me. For me, it was when a particularly moving familial death scene.

          • cpt_freakout says:

            To each their own, of course! I thought the first one was heavily clichéd in terms of story and the RPG part in general, while the combat was fun. After playing through it in like three sittings like a madman, I found out I wasn’t really playing because I was engrossed by the story or the characters (though I think the setting is fantastic, and fantastically wasted) but because I wanted to blow shit up with a rifle: around that time I was having my share of action gaming and was looking for something new and shiny.

            When I started playing ME 2 I no longer had that urge to play an action game, so I tried to become invested in the story and the crew… to no avail. I found them all pretty predictable, and I thought the story was needlessly convoluted just to give some very simple, clichéd steps. The RPG part was forgettable too (Paragon = good, Renegade = bad, there’s no point to the change in name and the philosophical blurbs if the effects behind them remain utterly manichean, which was a failure Bioware already had with Jade Empire), so I grew bored and dropped it altogether. Other people found all those things I found boring great, so I can’t really argue that ME in general is not a very good game because it’s just one of those we’ll never reach a consensus with. Regardless, the fact that it’s a polemical game for lots of reasons makes it interesting at the same time, even without the ruckus about the ending to the trilogy, so while I would disagree that ME is good, I concur that it’s one of mainstream gaming’s latest Big Things, and I understand its presence in any end-year list.

          • Jahkaivah says:

            That is arguable malkav11, a lot of people consider cliché to be an inherently negative term, meaning unoriginal to the point that it can no longer be interesting, memorable or compelling. It is for example why Tv Tropes insist on using the term tropes instead of clichés. Of course you don’t have to agree with them.

          • malkav11 says:

            There’s certainly a number of people out there who have a low tolerance for conceptual repetition. Those people are going to have a really hard time enjoying media.

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          • ryke says:

            I think the Mass Effect series as a whole are very much flawed (in general, not just the ending) and BioWare’s storytelling skills are often overestimated. But I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t genuinely enjoy the games despite their flaws. The story is still fairly compelling, but it kind of bothers me how far some people are willing to go to praise BioWare even when their writing falls flat. The whole Indoctrination Theory bugs me. It seems pretty much like dedicated fans, with the power of hindsight, are coming up with better explanations and interpretations than BioWare had ever intended, and then claiming that this was the author’s (or writers or devs, in this case) intention all along. Fandoms on the Internet love to do this. Sometimes they raise up interesting details and subtleties about the work, which is great, and sometimes they practically invent whole levels of depth the author almost certainly never intended in any way, and then take it seriously which seems pompous and a little dumb.

            Sometimes you have to deal with the fact that what was written just wasn’t all that good. It was still enjoyable, so why get so worked up about it?

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      I guess the first post could have been a lot worse. Shame that people overlooked 99% of awesome game for that devisive ending. I thought that it was actually interesting that despite its presentation, the game convinced me to try to co-exist with those very machines that I had been trying so hard to destroy for the last few hundred hours or so. I also went back and decided to kill them all. Both felt satisfying.

      For the relationships I formed with my characters alone, ME will remain the best series I’ve yet played. How they handled Garrus and Mordin in particular were phenomenal. I also was at the point of tears as my Shepard tried to crawl to the beacon as her body was broken. How much more could she give, dammit?!

      Not mentioned here is also how awesome the Multiplayer was. I’m not one for loving combat more than narrative, but by golly was ME3 a treat in the combat department. Multiplayer kept me playing for far longer than I expected.

      • Howard says:

        Cover based, third-person combat? Yeah, we were so short on that.
        ME 2 & 3 gutted the interesting, skill based combat of the first game and left us with Gears of war with more buttons. It was a train wreck in that respect and the MP sections were just pathetic, console oriented nonsense, forced upon us to lengthen the broken and trite campaign.

        Mix in the HUGE swathe of bugs, tedious boss battles and endless fucking fetch and carry nonsense (oh, and lest we forget the ejection of a character that survived the first 2 games only be killed of so some bimbo from a gaming blog could get her tits immortalised in all their digital stupidity) and you are left with a shell of a game before you even get to the asinine stupidity that was the endings.

        • Raiyan 1.0 says:

          Because ME1 wasn’t a cover-based third person shooter.

        • colossalstrikepackage says:

          Gears of War did 3rd person cover and shooting well. But ME2 and 3 streamlined the awkward combat of 1 into something better. And ME biotic powers were much better in the last two games – something I haven’t seen done to as satisfying a level in any other game. Multiplayer made cooperation optional, but the feeling of kicking ass on Platinum with my mates was unparalleled.

          • dvzlrnzb says:

            Look up the indoctrination theory and you’ll see what Bioware intended to do, but EA told them not to do it.

            http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1188790300/anima-gate-of-memories-0/

          • WhatKateDoes says:

            Damn these spambots are getting self-aware! Totally fooled me with content-related spoof link there.

            Clever, Spambot, Clever.

            Anyho0. I mostly agree with above, tho not so much with John’s aggressive defence of the original ending. I was originally “meh” about the ending until I thought about it, and got mad. But for me, the Extended Cut thingmabob saved all for me. I loved how each ending choice became a valid option worthy of deliberation, and I loved them all – so much so that I actually felt that my original “destroy” choice was less desirable than the outright “WOOOO! Omnipotent Goddess-like Shepard.. scary future indeed” CONTROL became my fave.

            In semi-linear narrative driven storytelling framed within a game the ending(s) *is/are* important – its not just about “winning/finishing” – a story *must* have a decent ending to be a decent story.

            I for one loved the entire series. I’m concerned about a Mass Effect 4 regardless of when/where it is set.

          • LintMan says:

            @WhatKateDoes: Not quite self-aware yet.. It just takes a real comment from someone further below, spoofs the link, and then reposts it higher up. So if you’re just reading down the comments, it looks like a real, on-topic comment unless you actually mouseover the link. Fiendish.

            We’re gonna need something like the slashdot comment system where the link destination is automatically inserted next to the link.

        • Mordsung says:

          Interesting skill based combat?

          You and I played very different Mass Effects.

          Combat was the first games worse feature, it was cleaned up dramatically in ME2.

          • The Random One says:

            The first Mass Effect’s combat was so bad that even though it became better with each sequel by the end it was still abysmal, and its story was so good that even though it became dumber with each sequel by the end it was still OK.

          • Randomer says:

            Apart from the great set pieces of the boss battles in ME2, the combat was much worse than the combat in ME1, and mostly because of how they nerfed the skill system.

            ME1 had a variety of skills, and it really felt like it mattered which ones you used where. Because of that, you damn well had to be sure you had both a biotic and a tech user in your party at all times. In ME2, I picked my party based on who would provide the most amusing banter as I progressed through the Gears of War combat. Tactically, It didn’t matter the slightest bit which characters I brought, since they all had cookie cutter abilities with merely aesthetic changes.

          • malkav11 says:

            ME2′s combat was also mostly straight Gears of War 1 (which is to say, sitting behind incredibly gamey waist-heigh cover pieces shooting the same one or two gun types at the same boring enemies rinse repeat), without any of the later Gears of War franchise’s innovations as to how to frame those combats and design weapons and enemy types to make them actually interesting. Except with an arbitrary rock paper scissors mechanic against different types of health bar.

            ME3 spices things up considerably.

        • guygodbois00 says:

          My thoughts exactly, sir. And so aptly put

      • AmateurScience says:

        I’d go further and say that it’s the last 5 minutes of what was 100 odd hours of very good. So 99.99917% good, 0.00083% bad.

        I loved it: I cried, I laughed, I even whooped and clapped at one point (very un-AmateurScience indeed!). I like the combat, I’ve liked watching the game, as well as the characters, evolve over time, I was surprised how engaged by the multiplayer I was.

        Above all, Garrus, I love you, man.

        • Howard says:

          The quality of the MP is not and never was the issue, it was its enforcement that had me spitting invective. I will *NOT* be forced into playing a part of a game I have no fucking interest in by dickhead designers who want to justify their existence. I bought a single player game that happens to have MP like I have a 1000 times before – I will NOT be forced into using it!

          • RodHope says:

            Good for you!

          • Nevard says:

            That’s fortunate because it’s 100% possible to get the best possible ending without multiplayer, I know because I did

          • malkav11 says:

            Yep, it’s completely possible to get the “best” ending without doing any multiplayer. But you shouldn’t bother either way. I don’t know if the extended cut ending DLC changes this, but the original reward for all that effort is like three seconds of cutscene that does nothing to make the ending any less arbitrary or bullshit. -if- you pick a specific one of the three arbitrary uninformed choices at the end. War readiness is a con game that you don’t need to worry about at all.

            That said, I encourage you to try the multiplayer. It’s actually pretty fun.

      • Kadayi says:

        There was a lot more wrong with ME3 than the ending. What made the first game so compelling despite the lousy combat was the amount of dialogue options. With ME3 they really cut back on a lot of that in truth. If ME2 was ‘guns and conversation’, ME3 was ‘guns and chit chat’.

        • Vander says:

          I agree. I disliked the ending very much, and was not what was sold to me, but thats not the sole problem of the game…

          And more that the less extensive conversations, mass effect 3 cut also a lot of exploration of non combat zone. The only zone of this type was the citadel, and was very small.

          And don’t even start me on “bro” Vega….

          Dman, this year rps’s calendar disapoint me.

    • jalf says:

      I loved the game, and I think it would be a strong contender for the game of the year title.

      But the ending really really sucked. As Alec said above, it just grates to see everything resolved by magic, by handwaving, by saying “none of what you’ve been doing for the last 3 games really mattered, we’re going to resolve everything in a completely different way”. My choices mattered for the geth and the quarians, sure, for the krogans, for my crew, for Zhu’s Hope, for the healing of my scars, for a million other things.

      But they didn’t matter in defeating the reapers. That was resolved by stomping in and demanding to see the manager. That just left me cold. In a trilogy that was really all about science, about improvement, about solving problems, about people standing together to make a difference, the major storyline was resolved by people standing together and *not* making a difference, by appealing to a higher authority. The superweapon we built didn’t work. The fleets we assembled didn’t suffice. Getting beamed onto the Citadel changed nothing. Everyone might as well have stayed home and just placed a phone call to the Citadel. “Hi, it’s me, Shepard, I’d like to talk to you about the Reapers. I think it’d be great if you could just switch them off now”.

      Apparently, everything we did was just to impress the hell out of some mystical magic-wielding starchild, so much that he decided to fix our problems for us.

      But everything else about the game? Blew my mind. One of the best games of the year, and really the crowning glory of the trilogy.

      • Kestilla says:

        I couldn’t have said that better, honestly. But it was the actual gameplay that made me sad. What did they do to the Citadel? They screwed up the quest log badly and turned sidemissions into a game of hide and seek. Areas were much smaller and less inspired than they were previously, resorting to gobs of backtracking rather than the separate, fleshed out areas you would enter for ME2′s loyalty missions, like Garrus’ quest for revenge, Thane’s tiptoeing on the catwalks above the Citadel’s market streets.

        Everywhere I looked, outside of the main missions, everything else was total crap. Even the planet exploration was uninspired and “why bother?” No Mako? No landing on the planet to get chased off by a malfunctioning army of droids in a sandstorm? No, you can scan three times before the reapers come after you. Ugh. I don’t know what happened, but they neglected a *lot* of content in this game that I’m sure we came to take for granted based on the greatness of the previous games in the series. That it’s missing is not only obvious, but a rather painful observation, especially when you’re stuck in it trying to find the unmarked control panel to further the quest which… is nothing to write home about.

        Case and point, Conrad Verner’s conclusion was all about clicking on medi-gel dispensers to make the bad guy appear like a LEGO game’s gold brick, and Verner himself pulled a dark energy dissertation out of his ass in a sort of, LOOK, he’s useful! He’s redeemed himself! bullshit move.

        I take the game as a whole package, and while I was overall impressed, the ending is secondary to how they tore down the rest of the game around the mainline story.

        I don’t understand the rose-tinted glasses people put on when talking about it. Maybe past experiences color their arguments, but they’re missing what a true disappointment it is after three playthroughs and you still get stuck in the same spot on Joker’s cockpit seat in the Normandy’s bridge each, and every, time. Someone dropped the ball, the game was released too early, and probably pretty much curse you EA for sucking the life out of your studios and their IPs / Bioware never would have let this happen in the Before Times.

    • Taidan says:

      I’ll politely disagree with the “bland” part, as that much is subjective. People are allowed to form an opinion on that part, and we can respectfully all agree to value our own opinions.

      On the subject of the final ten minutes though, you are entirely correct. The very end of Mass Effect 3 is objectively bad writing, and anybody who disagrees is objectively wrong.

      There are certain rules with writing that can be bent or broken, much to the potential delight of the audience, if handled well. On the flipside, there are certain rules that should never be broken, which Mass Effect 3′s ending does, which puts it firmly into the realm of bad storytelling. The example of this being a “Deus Ex Machina” ending can certainly be debated, but the plot holes and utter failures of logic cannot.

      • Gap Gen says:

        It’s not a particularly inspiring universe as far as science fiction literature goes, but given how little of that we get in games, and how it’s not really the science fiction that actually matters here (it could have been set in a medieval fantasy universe and been near-identical in most respects) it’s pretty okay.

        • jalf says:

          That depends on what you’re looking for, I guess. It’s certainly not the most plausible universe, nor is it the most fantastical.

          But it’s comprehensive and generally has a strong internal consistency to it. And it really managed to draw people into it in a way that few fictive universes do.

          You’re right, it wasn’t really the science fiction aspect that mattered, but I personally think that’s a generally a good thing. Science fiction is a setting, not the story itself. It’s the same reason I liked BSG: it’s a sci-fi setting, but it doesn’t treat this as a free ticket to avoid having to write a proper story, it doesn’t treat the sci-fi as “what it’s all about”.

          The Mass Effect universe is full of stupid people and politics and racial tension and people trying to get along with each others, just like a real world. It also has space ships and lasers, but it doesn’t let those change what we know people to be like. I think that’s what makes it interesting.

          One thing I’ve noticed is how quickly and naturally people who play the game pick up names and terminology. if you’re not a big Star Wars fan, if you’ve just watched the movies and enjoyed them, I guarantee that you won’t remember the names of even the major species of aliens. There are humans and, uh, the people with tentacly hair, and the big fat slug people and…

          But people who play Mass Effect very quickly pick up what the different species are. When they’re told of a Salarian, they know what species it is. When they meet a spiky reptiloid guy, they recognize him not just as “the same species as Garrus”, but as a Turian.

          Or the distinction between AI and VI. Or the term “synthetics” (players don’t call the geth robots or cyborgs. We pick up that in Mass Effect, they’re synthetics. Not even “synthetic lifeforms” or something like that, just “synthetics”). Watch people play Mass Effect on Youtube, and it’s hard not to notice how quickly people get into the universe, and start speaking Mass Effect like a native, so to speak. ;)

          I think that’s a sign that the universe did something right.

        • Rindan says:

          Mass Effect was much like Planescape: Torment and Fallout 1 and 2 for me. The story of Torment and the Fallouts were not all that good. It wasn’t a horrible story, but it wasn’t great. What made those games and Mass Effect awesome is that they had good storytelling built on a passable story.

          Frankly, I think that good storytelling is probably more important in video games than a good story. Storytelling is the meat of the game. It is what you remember. Storytelling is the interactions you have with others, the drama of your decisions, the consequences, and the dramatic upheavals. The actual story is just what you affix that stuff on to.

          I can appreciate a poorly written book with a neat idea. I find it much harder to appreciate a game with a neat idea that fumbles the telling of the story. The Mass Effect series is one of my favorite series of all times because it knocked it out of the park in the storytelling department. The ending was a letdown to be sure, but I enjoyed the ride.

      • Acorino says:

        Well, the visuals are pretty bland, but the writing isn’t quite so generic. It surprised when I jumped into the first ME and found out that I got quite involved in the story, because just the look of the game’s environment had turned me off.

    • Vorphalack says:

      Between the botched ending, the required use of Origin, the single player ending being linked to participation in multi-player, gutting most of the RPG elements, and cutting a major plot character to sell as day 1 DLC, i’m sure we can find better things to complain about than how engaging the overall story was.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Actually, you know what? No-one really mentions it, but it was the *start* of the game that sucked horribly. “Oh no,” says the elite military council, “we didn’t listen to you and now it’s too late AARGH WE’RE DOOMED LET’S RUN AROUND WAVING OUR ARMS IN THE AIR AND SCREAMING”. The ending is a masterpiece compared to the game’s beginning.

      • Kadayi says:

        True enough, also pretty offensive in terms of starting point as it’s effectively Shepard on trial for actions that take place in ME2 DLC.

    • Godwhacker says:

      Well, what about element zero? That’s a “deus ex machina” if ever there were one, but most people seem fine with it. It makes magic work! It makes FTL space travel possible! Citing a D.E.M. (I hate the phrase) is not on its own a criticism, since they’re used all over the shop in sci-fi.

      The ending was bad because a lot of what was said and seen didn’t make sense given the rest of the game- Joker running away with squadmates who must have been killed in the final charge, the mass relays blowing up and thus surely destroying civilisation anyway, the claim that the Geth would destroy you even though the Rannoch sequence went to great lengths to point out how nice they were- AND how you could make peace with them, the way even Renegade Shepard couldn’t tell him to go fuck himself, Starchild for some reason being that fucking child from the start… and so on.

      Worse, the more of Mass Effect you’d played, the more you’d been over the fiction and played the DLC, the more likely that you were to notice these things. The people who cared most were thus hurt most.

      That’s why it was bad. Use those reasons. Don’t just shout “DEUS EX MACHINA” at people.

      • Bhazor says:

        But it is though.

        An all powerful being appears out of nowhere, invalidates every action, waves his hands and gives you a completely arbitrary choice of which cutscene you want to see.

        I thought the rest of the writing was absolutely mediocre with what interesting stuff there was (the race war, AI purge) relegated to codecs. But the ending? Now *that* was a whole other league.

        • welverin says:

          No it isn’t that all-powerful being that appeared out of nowhere didn’t do crap, but spout exposition at you and explain what the machine you had spent THE ENTIRE GAME BUILDING did. It did nothing for you and didn’t empower you in anyway, and that’s not a desu ex machina.

      • Koshiir Ra says:

        Element Zero actually falls more into the category of “Unobtainium” than “Deus Ex Machina”. (Look it up on TV Tropes if you have a few hours of free time.)

        • Godwhacker says:

          It’s the same root idea- something impossible is made up in order to make the plot work.

          TV Tropes now seems to have a pithy name for every single possible character and plot point. My point is that just shouting out the name of the ‘trope’ is not the same thing as criticism.

      • jalf says:

        Well, what about element zero? That’s a “deus ex machina” if ever there were one, but most people seem fine with it.

        I see your point, but is it, really?

        From Wikipedia’s entry on “deus ex machina”:

        a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object

        A deus ex machina is not just “something unexplained”.

        There was nothing sudden, abrupt or unexpected about element zero. It didn’t intervene. It was just there from the beginning. Sure, it wasn’t very well explained or plausible, but it was a cornerstone of the universe.

        It wasn’t realistic, but it didn’t break the rules of the universe. We knew from day one that “this is a universe in which a hypothetical Element Zero makes FTL travel possible”. The game just assumes that such an element exists, in the same way that LoTR assumes that wizards and magical rings exist. They aren’t plot devices invented suddenly out of nowhere to tie up loose ends.

        But the “starchild”? Most certainly was a deus ex machina, if there ever was one.

        There is nothing wrong with a setting or story which asks us to suspend disbelief, which goes “Ok, I know magic doesn’t really exist, but imagine it does”, or “yeah, the notion of an “element zero” is absurd, but what if there *was* such an element, and it had these weird properties?”

        That’s not a deus ex machina, it’s just imagination.

      • Zenicetus says:

        No, Deus Ex Machina is a valid criticism (as others are pointing out here). The use of Element Zero is different, as a hand-waving tech explanation, because it’s introduced early as part of the world building.

        There was no build-up to the star child. That whole ending sequence was spun out of thin air, which is why so many players felt insulted and disappointed. They were expecting something more consistent with the story up to that point.

    • Lord Byte says:

      I know, that irritated me too, then again I just ignored the stuff that didn’t matter (everything blows, everyone stranded, all the tasks you did were for nothing), I just wanted my friends to be alive and the all the species I’d saved to live through it. The re-cut ending (since I had the best one), kinda did that, so yaj.

  2. Feferuco says:

    I think if there was no catalyst crap and a little more than Normandy landing on random jungle planet it’d all be ok. And yeah, people who said their choices didn’t matter either weren’t paying attention to the entire game or just rushed it and missed out on most sub-plots.

  3. Vlupius says:

    My Game of the Year 2012 for certain. Even though there was a rather large amount of plotholes (I still don’t know who that kid in Shepard’s dreams is or how he got there) and some obnoxious Dei-ex-Machinae, the atmosphere of it all makes up for all of it. Truly a masterpiece of storytelling.

    • ArcaneSaint says:

      The kid in Shepard’s dream was the one Shepard saw on Earth, the one who crawled into a shuttle which was subsequently destroyed by a Reaper. As for the whole “appearing in his dreams” thing, I think that’s what they call survivor’s guilt, Shepard managed to escape with his life, but he had to abandon the people he fought for, and his “failure” to protect them haunts him in his sleep, manifesting as the innocent child he tried to, but could not, save.

      The Deus Ex Machina at the end was just bad though.

      • Bluerps says:

        Exactly. Also, while Shepard is a tremendously strong willed person, the fact that the survival of the galaxy hinges on her actions is starting to get to her. The dreams show that she is starting to fall apart because of the pressure.

        • Vlupius says:

          I knew it was the kid on earth, and I thought it had something to do with the whole survivor’s guilt, but I wasn’t sure as it seemed weird. After all, why does Shepard care about this kid in particular after having seen him for 20 seconds in total, when so many other people on earth died? Surely she knew others there; even visions of lost squad-mates would make more sense. It’s also rather weird how the Catalyst had the exact same form – if that was just the form the Catalyst knew was important to Shepard, the same questions arises – why not the far further developed relations?

          • Bluerps says:

            Because she didn’t watch any of these people die. Their deaths are slightly more abstract than the kid’s. Also, these people are still present in her dreams, just in a less specific way.

            Let’s not talk about ending-ghost-kid. Ending-ghost-kid is dumb.

          • ArcaneSaint says:

            Because unlike those squadmates, a child is innocent and defenceless. Shepard’s crew knew what they were getting into, and that it might be their death. The child didn’t, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and died without having even a single chance at defending himself.

            As to why he the child featured more prominently in his dreams, there’s two explanations:
            The first being the most obvious, that a child’s death generally weighs heavier than that of an adult (for example, the news “ten children were killed in a shooting yesterday”, gets more reaction than “ten people were killed in a shooting yesterday”).
            Second explanation, Shepard’s a paedophile and was having “special dreams”, but let’s not go there shall we?

      • ChromeBallz says:

        Look up the indoctrination theory and you’ll see what Bioware intended to do, but EA told them not to do it.

        • ArcaneSaint says:

          I know about the Indoctrination Theory, and though it would explain some of the weirdness, it’s not the magical (hah) solution for all the plotholes some people claim it to be (as far as fan theories go however, this one’s not that bad).

        • Kadayi says:

          IT was chem trails.

  4. UncleLou says:

    I loved the first two, even played ME1 a second time in preparation for ME 2 because I had lost my save, but I never made it far into 3. I don’t even really know why, it just left me completely cold. :-(

    • sophof says:

      Exactly the same for me. I simply do not feel like starting the game up, it just doesn’t ‘grab’. Whereas I played ME1 hating the combat all the way to the end and still enjoyed it. For me I tihnk it is ME2, which was better on the mechanics, but worse on the story imo, so I had already lost interest there.

    • ParadoxEternal says:

      That is completely true, but I still think ME2 was the best. The writing was the best, the presentation was the best, the characters were the best. The mechanics were streamlined *ENOUGH* so that the gameplay SUPPORTED the story instead of got in it’s way. That being said, this game is more of a collection of character studies connected by a loose threadbare plot, but I don’t care. The collector base was awesome, finding Legion was one of my favorite moments of the series, and each of the individual character arcs were amazing. I found that the reason I cared so much about most of my decisions in ME3 was because I cared about the characters from ME2. Without ME2, ME3 wouldn’t be nearly as emotionally evocative.

      • woodsey says:

        Agreed, it’s fine that ME2 was character building. Certainly one of the better ways to handle the mid-section of a trilogy.

      • kyrieee says:

        I agree with this. ME2 gets a lot of criticism for having a bad story, not having a clear main antagonist etc. I find that most of the complaints tend to be that its stucture is untraditional but that’s not something inherently negative. Particularly in this case because I think the structure of ME2 worked great, even if for some people it didn’t. Getting to know your crew was much more interesting than having the majority of your missions focused on the main plot like in ME1/3, and it was all in service of making the suicide mission more personal. There was just enough main plot in there to reinforce the point of all the character missions. I also think having just a handful of Collector missions helped keep things fresh every time you encountered them. They were supposed to be mysterious and spending most of the game fighting them would’ve diluted that. Instead all the story missions feel more unique.

  5. Inglourious Badger says:

    I forgot this even came out this year. Was a great game at the end of a great trilogy. The combat got worse with each game, but the storytelling just got better and better. I remember being sceptical about the promise that choices in the first game would carry on in a meaningful way to the sequels, but fair play, Bioware delivered on the branching character narratives and didn’t take many “oh, they’re just not around anymore” shortcuts when the setting would have let them.

    The inevitable apocalyptic ending was always going to smash those petty human (and alien) stories and relationships into pointlessness, but the journey from start to end was truly yours in a way games have rarely done. My Mass Effect ending was a touching goodbye between my (male, yes I know!) Shepherd and Liara T’Soni, the beautiful alien he remained faithful to despite her stubborn disappearance for the length of ME2. The fact she was back in ME3 and their story picked up much where it left off in ME1, but with the added trepidations and complications of the long break, was my definite highlight of the series. Like Jim says, hopefully this and ‘choose your speech’ cutscenes will be ME’s legacy for future games, not cover based combat and wave after wave of identikit, shielded enemies.

    • jalf says:

      I forgot this even came out this year.

      Yeah, I had never even once considered ME3 as a candidate for the advent calendar. It just hadn’t occurred to me that it was a 2012 game. So many other good games have come out since then.

      Not a bad year, I guess… :)

    • Yglorba says:

      The inevitable apocalyptic ending was always going to smash those petty human (and alien) stories and relationships into pointlessness

      Aside (and this has nothing to do with ME’s specific ending, since yeah, the series was always clearly headed there), but why are games so fixated on these stupid inevitable apocalyptic endings? Why do writers love them so much? What’s the big deal about putting the entire galaxy in danger in every single story? Writers need to learn that small stories can be powerful, too; and that making the story about some huge threat to the entire galaxy does threaten to drown out everything else.

      Planescape: Torment, I think, got it right when they made the core story just about you (and the companions you got caught up in it.) I’d like to see more games like that, or games where the entire story is just about one city (or one planet) in a much larger world. Political intrigue and international diplomacy are hard to do when you’re dealing with threats so big that they drown out all the petty affairs of nations and individuals.

      When I first heard about Mass Effect, long before the game was actually made or any real details were out, I expected it to be more like, say, Firefly. I want a game where the focus is actually on the individuals on your ship and on their relationships with each other — I want a game where that’s actually the main story, not a tacked-on side-story to some bloated generic power-fantasy about saving the entire galaxy.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Agreed wholeheartedly. This obsession with constantly upping the stakes is getting so very tedious.

        A story about one planet or a handful of planets trying to hash out basic politics is plenty fucking epic; we don’t need epoch-spanning elemental evils showing up in every damn SF story ever made.

  6. greg_ritter says:

    The ending and the God-child, and this business with a dead kid are awful.
    But ME3 shines in its subplots, choices, meetings with old friends.
    So yeah, I’ve had a really great time with it, and yes, it is a fine contender for a Game of the Year.

  7. Lambchops says:

    Like with the Walking Dead, the Mass Effect series is one which has me saying “it’s the journey not the destination” although for slightly different reasons; as Walking Dead has a satisfying ending and I’m responding to those who wanted to see more branches whereas with Mass Effect it had a disappointing final section and I’m trying to suggest that this doesn’t at a stroke wipe out just how engaging the trilogy had been and some of the excellent set pieces and relationships and so on that it had developed.

    The Mass Effect trilogy succeeded in making you care which did make it more irksome that the final section seemed to completely misunderstand why this was the case tying down how things panned out to an arbitrary “score” which felt miles away from what the rest of the game tried to do. Not to mention the press button to choose ending with it’s pulled from nowhere nature. I’d have much preferred the ending to be determined on the conflict between The Illusive Man and Shepard/Cerberus as that had actually been a proper plot thread in the game.

    But there I go making the same inevitable comments and focusing on the ending. It wasn’t about that. It was about the genophage, it was about the Geth and Quarians, it would about Garrus being a badass, it was about rekindling that accidental relationship with Kaiden that was only there because you were being nice and besides you only saved him because Ashley was a little bit racist. It was about freezing baddies and shattering them apart and lifting them in the air and setting them on fire all in a fight against the odds. It was about tedious minigames, it was about wandering the Normandy and having a chat and drinking with Chakwas for old times sake. It was constantly engaging and enjoyable a decent game made so much more by the connection built up of the trilogy. It really was fucking brilliant. I choose to remember that.

  8. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    One thing I’ll give Bioware is that they nailed the mechanics. It didn’t have ME2′s idiotically limited powers and loadouts, but didn’t have ME1′s tiresome inventory management either. Close range combat as the Vanguard was really damn fun. Bullets? Fuck bullets. I’m running at my enemies and Falon Punching them to death, right after a cascade of my Wub Wub Cannon.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      So making it into a Michael Bay movie was a good thing?

      • Raiyan 1.0 says:

        … what?

        I guess you really enjoyed selling 120 armors, guns and other assorted items, right after comparing each and every single one of them to see which had a +1 increment against your own loadout and themselves? Or maybe you would rather they not expanded on the close range biotic powers so that it turned into simply another third person gunfest?

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Instead of stripping the game of the inventory I would have fixed it. But failing a fix I’d rather leave it as it was in ME1. And I think stripping skillpoints from combat took a lot from it as well.

          ME1 had tons of potential but they went the wrong way in just about any direction that mattered. From removing the airlock on the Normandy, to replacing the immersive elevator rides with boring loading screen thus breaking the world up in levels instead of a whole to forcing the player to die and then deus ex machina him to life again with zero consequences other than you have to work with SpaceHitler.

          So yes, I’d rather have fiddled with inventory than having them turn it into a Michael Bay movie.

          • mpk says:

            ME1 wanted to be an action game rather than a more traditional RPG. ME2 was the logical progression.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Perhaps. But I’d rather it had gone in the different direction. It was in a weird place between action and RPG and I think it would have been possible to salvage it as an RPG. Obviously Bioware disagreed with me and that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean I have to approve.

          • Raiyan 1.0 says:

            Trust me, I was as pissed off as you are about the aspects of the sequels that made them lose their sense of expansiveness. But I’m going to have to absolutely disagree about the whole inventory argument. ME1 had just so many weapons and upgrades that increased your stats by tiny increments, and locking down weapons by classes created arbitrary restrictions. ME3′s upgrades and weapons had meaningful choice – one weapons would have better range but maybe slower reload time, while another would have better firing rate but increased weight, etc. Meaningful choices without the busy work.

            And you do understand that Michael Bay is considered an auteur in his genre?

            And the rest of your criticism on the narrative is irrelevant, I was simply talking about the combat mechanics.

          • Lambchops says:

            “The immersive elevator rides.”

            I think you meant to say “the incredibly long, daft and justifiably mocked elevator rides”

          • Stellar Duck says:

            He may be an auteur. He’s still shit.

            And I’m well aware that the inventory in the first game is dumb and annoying. But I’d rather they fixed it than strip it. Same with the Mako. Instead of tweaking it so it works better they strip it and replace it with… nothing. ME2 is just a series of combat levels followed by a talkie level and then a combat one. ME1 allowed greater freedom in that regard. For instance the club on the citadel. You could go there and later shoot it up without having to warp to a combat instance (as far as I remember). In ME2/3 you can’t return to a combat area once done. It’s just a one time instance instead of part of a world.

            And yes, I know that’s got nothing to do with the inventory. But it’s part of the same trend of Bioware diminishing the game instead of expanding upon what works and fixing what doesn’t.

            @Lambchops: they may be mocked, but that just shows people don’t know shit about what’s good.

            But then, I’m the guy that think FarCry 3 did all the wrong things and lost all the brilliance of FarCry 2.

            The elevator rides were many times better than a loading screen that just emphasizes that it’s a video game. I absolutely loved the small talk in the citatel elevator and the long awkward pauses. To me, that provided a sense of texture to the world that a boring old loading screen can never do. Same with the Mako and the airlock on the Normandy. Spending those 10 secs being scanned made me feel like I was entering a space ship. A loading screen can’t do that.

          • Raiyan 1.0 says:

            I’m not going to argue anymore, but I just want to tell you I agree on the airlock and elevator (and obviously the Mako) comment. I used to swap out my teammates just to hear them talk (Garrus + Wrex = Awesome) on the elevators. And they weren’t daft – they would take as much time as the loading screens anyway, except for they provided a context for the level loading.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Yea, not a lot in keeping at it. Thanks for the discussion though. I might not agree but it never hurts to listen to different views than my own. :)

            Glad to know that I’m not alone in appreciating the sense of context and connection the elevators gave.

          • Tritagonist says:

            The reintroduction of loading screens was quite odd indeed, as was the reduced prominence of the docking bays. BioWare already showed it had found a way to incorporate these into the actual game, and then went backwards and put these annoying loading screens back in. The elevators might have been boring, but at least they kept you in the game and gave you the impression that the maps were actually one large world. The loading screens on the other hand (which, inexcusably, would play for the entire duration of the animated screen in ME2 rather than the time it took to load the level) broke up the gameplay in smaller, self-contained chucks.

          • Lambchops says:

            Hey, maybe the elevators were worse for me because I was playing it on an outdated laptop at the time and the loading took a rather long time.

          • malkav11 says:

            The elevator rides made sense on 360, where they covered the long times it took to load new areas from optical disc. On PC, where the actual loading takes maybe 1/10th as long, they are just a pain in the butt.

            Oh, I appreciate having conversations between the characters in my party, but there was never any reason to restrict those to the lifts (Dragon Age, for example, did just fine at having them occur while strolling around), and their mostly disappearing from the franchise after the first game is more of a sign of Bioware’s general decline than any need for lift sequences.

      • jalf says:

        … yes. Turning the action parts into a Michael Bay movie was a good move, because MIchael Bay knows how to do action movies. If you’re going to have action, you might as well do it well.

        And luckily, the storytelling and atmosphere and everything else wasn’t reduced to Michael Bay levels, so all in all, I’d say it was a good thing.

        • RandomEsa says:

          *cough* Kai Leng *cough*

          The only good story bits in the entire game was tuchanka and quarian versus geth. You know making hard decisions ( and I think without the paragon / renegade options, the quarian versus geth would have been great).

          Everything else storywise were subpar at best.

          • jalf says:

            Ok, Kai Leng (and Dr. Eva) truly sucked, and pretty much ruined any suspension of disbelief you might have had at the time.

            I was thinking more of, well, everything else in the game.

            I’m sorry you didn’t like the game though. Luckily there were plenty of other good games in 2012. :)

        • Stellar Duck says:

          As was mentioned: Kai Leng.

          But Cerberus in general was a black hole of plot holes, illogical motivations and rail roading. Then there’s the collectors. ME2 was spent on faffing about with something that didn’t matter and working with SpaceHitler and trying to reconcile my death at the start of the game and peoples reaction to it. So much bungled story telling I don’t even know where the worst part is.

        • Xocrates says:

          I would just like to say that I find Bay’s action sequences to be rather boring. Much in the same way that I don’t think watching chess with a shaky cam and rock music makes it more interesting.

          This is not a comment to the game, which I haven’t played.

          • malkav11 says:

            Yep. To do good action, the action must be paced and shot in such a way that it is comprehensible and the individual moments of that action sequence are thrilling and impactful. Bay shoots a mess of quickcut visual noise.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Echoing Malkav’s point about ol’ Mike’s shitty action sequences. He knows how to summon up a big spectacle and he has enough momentum to get money for his ideas, but I wouldn’t go around holding him up as a good filmmaker.

  9. Obc says:

    if a game wants to deliver guns & converstation but the guns are “limp” and the conversation grows more and more inconsistent with the characters while choices are becoming more and more unreasonable to what the story set up and all of it ending in a big fat, noisy, stupid, nonsensicale, holybatshitbonkersinsane crash ending then the game IS stale and even stupid.

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      I disagree. I thought that the combat was good enough by itself (multiplayer was awesome). As far as characters go, I cannot think of any game with more consistent, developed and meaningful character arcs. Happy to be proven wrong by any examples you care to present.

      Yes the ending was a little jarring compared to the rest of the game, but it does not negate everything that went before it. And yes the god-child and rainbow endings could have been better written and presented, but the final 3 choices still made me pause.

  10. Jikid says:

    A few reasons that so many gamers hated the ending might be that

    1. we’re conditioned to happy gamey endings because stories rarely matter in games and even more rarely say anything about, well, anything, but none of the me3 endings were truly happy – each one of them had something inevitably dark, which is what made it better since that’s an actual choice – ironic that so many failed to notice (and yes, I’ve read the criticisms towards the ending that try to say that they don’t really want a happier ending, but sooner or later they all start criticizing how dark the ending ended up being so pardon me if I don’t take the “I don’t want happier endings!” talk seriously) and

    2. gamers tend to have less pure fantasy since everything in games is spelled out for them and we’re rarely required to actually use fantasy to imagine something – but that was what effected me the most in the ending of me3, just imagining what repercussions my choice would have. I didn’t need Bioware to spell it out for me because they told me enough of what would happen and the rest I saw myself. This is not to put me on a higher throne than other gamers, I sincerely hope that isn’t what’s going to be taken out of this, but to just contemplate if gamers aren’t actually missing out on some abstract education because of the very nature of videogames.

    • Jikid says:

      I just thought that maybe the darkness of the ending, the big losses in it (spoilers spoilers spoilers!) being Shepard and the universe as we knew it (spoilers end) might have created such negative feelings in players that they didn’t know what to do with them and they projected them towards bioware (for whatever inner, unacknowledged reason) and chose to concentrate on some possible plotholes to tear the ending down so it would seem like it doesn’t matter, but actually the only problem was that they couldn’t deal with the loss. I’ve done it myself with some films that I’ve seen that were so dark they annoyed me so I chose to concentrate on some nitpicking to tear the movie down, make it matter less, but of course that’s lying to myself and I try to actively avoid it however hard it might be. But I’ve also learned psychology in the university so it’s easier for me to notice such things (which is not to say I always notice, far from it! :D/:( ).

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      Now these are the comments I come to RPS for! A really interesting observation, Sir. In my experience, the entire game had been leading up to this foreboding ending, and I had mentally prepared to say goodbye to my Shepard, just as she had done to the rest of her crew. And within that arc, the ending was a little jarring, but made perfect sense of her journey. I always knew that she would have to make the ultimate sacrifice and so the only decision I had left was the how. I guess the game was pretty blunt about that in the final choice (and initially vague about the impacts), but to those who were not willing to let Shepard go may have seen it differently.

    • jalf says:

      No, it had *nothing* to do with the ending being dark.

      We’re not children…

      We just expected an ending that made sense in the game.

      I expected LoTR to end with Frodo either succeeding in destroying the ring, or him failing to do so. I didn’t expect it to end with him giving up, and the tooth fairy suddenly appearing and saying “hey, you did well, want me to get rid of this ring for you?”

      And that is basically what ME3′s ending boiled down to.
      It *was* a happy ending: “the galaxy was faced with a threat it had no chance of defending itself against, and lo and behold, suddenly a god descended upon our hero and said “don’t worry, I’ll fix this”".

      That’s a pretty damn happy ending. It’s just also a shoddy, meaningless one. It’s one that makes absolutely no sense, and has nothing to do with the three games you played through.

      To be honest, I fully expected Shepard to die pretty much from the start, I expected the mass relays to be destroyed. I expected galactic civilization to be set back, I expected some kind of Galactic Dark Age to follow. Compared to that, the actual ending was all rainbows and unicorns.

      But I also expected the ending to build on what had happened up until then. I expected the actual ending to depend on Shepard and the Normandy and humanity and the krogan and the turians and the asari.

      I didn’t expect it to depend on the intervention of a god.

      And if I can add one observation about this whole ending-debate, it’s this:

      I’m getting a bit tired of being treated like a naive child, of being told that “you just disliked it because you want a happy ending”.
      I’m a bit tired of being told this by people who seem to be vastly more naive and childish, who don’t even care *how* the story ended, who don’t even think about what it meant, or how it fit into the story. Who just wanted to see explosions and pretty cutscenes, and people dying and/or living. By people who think the only question that can be asked is “but was it a happy ending or a sad ending?”

      I’m not a child for criticizing the ending, for discussing its literary qualities, for discussing how it fit into the story that Mass Effect told.

      But I am saddened at how many people don’t even grasp that there might be more significance, more to discuss, more symbolism, more *meaning* in the ending than whether they all lived happily ever after.

      • Howard says:

        Heh – you put it far better than I did. Well done.

      • Jikid says:

        First, you don’t have to be a child to be negatively affected by a negative ending. Feeling negative emotions is human, and the funny thing about emotions and storytelling is that the reasons for feeling those strong emotions don’t have to actually exist in the real world. This is why daydreaming and storytelling are so powerful things (and why I as a grown-up man felt a tear fall in the end of The Iron Giant :P).

        Second, you can call the kid a god, but you can also call him something else. Something human (but much further developed than us) that created the reapers and unleashed them based on a fatal and mistaken presumption. And in the end of me3 he – the kid – understands that maybe he made a mistake and he lets the human (who showed it to him) to choose what happens now.

        Third, I’m unsure about the “we know it was going to end badly” hypothesis. Maybe you were sure, maybe you weren’t. I personally wasn’t and was actually interested what (and if, even) Bioware would do to spice up the “either good or bad” ending. BUT the things you say you expected, jalf, well, those are very specific things and there’s really no reason (in the game) to expect at least half of them. Like, for example, how did you connect the happenings of me3 to the destruction of the mass relays?

        Fourth, the fact that you feel the need to point out that you expected the ending to do something means that you were disappointed Bioware chose to not do it the way you expected them to end it. That by itself is not a reason to dislike the ending.
        I also feel that the problem with your problem with the ending wasn’t so much the fact that Normandy (which was really only a ship) or the other races weren’t used in the moment where their fate was decided, but that you just didn’t like the starchild. Maybe you disliked that he seemed all-powerful and you as Shepard so helpless by him? (He wasn’t all-powerful actually, for one he couldn’t stop what he had himself started without massive negative repercussions for the universe) Maybe you disliked that he seemed like a God (but that’s only your interpretation – he’s not actually a God in the way we know it in our reality). I’m not sure. But your insistence on him being a God is, I think, mistaken and hence problematic to you interpretation of the ending and hence for your feelings regarding the ending.

        • Howard says:

          No, that we could see the them of the ending coming proves nothing more than how much Sci-Fi we have read or watched. The tone of the game was clear from the opening screen and that we picked up on that and you did not does not mean that our opinion of how it “should” end was fixed. I personally had no idea what was gonna happen but I had a few theories based on what I was being asked/forced to do in the game. Logical pathways for the narrative were presented all over the shop in this game, each developing and getting added to as I recruited more and more assets to the war effort. The issue is that everything I did was ignored and I was was presented with a totally illogical set of options that utterly removed me from the story I had so far experienced. I don;t give a wet damn what the StarChild was supposed to be, what he was in reality was bad writing, a “we’ve totally run out of ideas and don’t have the balls to deliver a real ending” card being waved at the player as the devs laughingly force us to open a numbered box and see a conclusion that was gibberish and unrelated to our gaming experience.

        • jalf says:

          First, you don’t have to be a child to be negatively affected by a negative ending.

          I’m not sure what your point is. Are you saying that because I was so emotionally crushed by the sad ending, I am now retroactively convincing myself that the real problem was in its other imagined flaws?

          Second, you can call the kid a god, but you can also call him something else. Something human (but much further developed than us) that created the reapers and unleashed them based on a fatal and mistaken presumption. And in the end of me3 he – the kid – understands that maybe he made a mistake and he lets the human (who showed it to him) to choose what happens now.

          Missing the point. From the point of view of the galaxy, of Shepard, he was a god. A supernatural being, someone who has the power to destroy the galaxy or let it live. Someone who has no investment in galactic civilization, who is not part of it, who is completely and utterly detached. “God” is a nice shorthand for this.

          The point is, he had nothing to do with what Shepard spent three years working towards. The point is that the problem was resolved by him snapping his fingers after a short conversation with Shepard. So why did Shepard spend three years fighting to unite the galaxy, if, in the end, none of that was necessary, none of it made a difference?

          Third, I’m unsure about the “we know it was going to end badly” hypothesis. Maybe you were sure, maybe you weren’t.

          We strongly suspected.

          BUT the things you say you expected, jalf, well, those are very specific things and there’s really no reason (in the game) to expect at least half of them. Like, for example, how did you connect the happenings of me3 to the destruction of the mass relays?

          1. it was pretty clear that there would be no plain military solution. The races of the galaxy would not be able to destroy the Reapers in a straight up fight. Hence, for the Reapers to be defeated, something else had to be done.
          2. The mass relays were built by the reapers, as was the Citadel. We were told this in earlier games
          2a. therefore, it would make sense to suspect that they were connected. That if the Reapers were destroyed, the mass relays would also go dark. Or perhaps that if the mass relays were destroyed, the Reapers would be rendered harmless. I couldn’t know the exact relationship, but I could guess that it was all or nothing: either both would be destroyed, or neither of them-
          3. The mass relays were established as being part of the Reapers plans. Their purpose was to control and guide organic civilization.

          So all in all, it didn’t take me long to figure out that “when the reapers are gone, the odds are pretty good that any of their technology, such as the mass relays, will also be gone”.

          I didn’t know, but I suspected.

          Fourth, the fact that you feel the need to point out that you expected the ending to do something means that you were disappointed Bioware chose to not do it the way you expected them to end it.

          Please… No, the fact that I felt the need to point it out was that I was discussing the matter with you. You accused me, and everyone else who disliked the ending, of “merely wanting a happier ending”. I’d say it’s pretty relevant to point out that “I didn’t expect or want a happier ending”, don’t you?

          Now, could you please shelve the condescending psychoanalysis, and consider what I’m saying, rather than what Freud would have thought it all meant about my feelings for my mother?

          That by itself is not a reason to dislike the ending.

          You are right. And that is why I *also* described the reason I dislike the ending.

          A 4-year-old might say “yay, the Reapers were destroyed, that’s a good ending.”

          An adult might pick up on some of the themes that characterized the games. He might expect the story to be coherent, the ending to build on what came before it.

          And that is why, as an adult, I am disappointed with the ending.

          I also feel that the problem

          Ok, that’s it. I’m sorry, I’m not going to discuss this with someone who ignores every argument I make, because he’s more interested in goddamn psychoanalyses. If I need to talk to a psychologist, I’ll go to one myself, and pay him to take me on as a client, and lie on those funny beds they use and talk about my childhood.

          If you want to discuss the actual ending, quit the “I’m going to disregard what you say, because only I know what you really *mean*” talk. It’s just too condescending, and it conveniently ignores every argument I make.

          For this discussion to continue, you’ll have to assume that I mean what I say, that my arguments should be taken at face value, that I’m a sane and rational human being who can express his own thoughts.

          Deal?

          • Jikid says:

            Eh, I just want to say that I wasn’t accusing you of anything. I was just thinking of possibilities. See the “might” in my original post. :P

            Sorry if I tried to force the analysis of the situation into the psychological realm, but that is what interests me – people’s reasons for interpreting the game and the ending the way they do and for reacting to it the way they do. I wasn’t trying to be condescending, I had hoped opening myself as well would show you that. That it would also show that I don’t expect to KNOW what you mean, just contemplate why something would happen. Human psychology is just that fucked up and interesting. For example we can’t really trust our memories which is why I’m so careful regarding the “I was pretty sure this was going to happen” argument. :P

            One straight answer I wanted to give – Shepard spent the last three games fighting because he saw problems and tackled those. Had the Starchild appeared since the very first game, he’d probably have spent the last games trying to get close to him and destroy/convince him. But Starchild wasn’t interested in the actual inhabitants of the cycles, he was only interested in seeing their evolution stopped. And for that he had reapers. He appeared in the end only because Shepard was the first to reach him.

            The argument might as well stop here though. I’m getting a bit tired of being attacked on every front and now being called an idiot as well when I just try to have a friendly conversation.

          • jalf says:

            Well, then, a tip for the future:

            Friendly conversations tend to go more smoothly when you trust the people you are conversing with to be honest. If I say “I didn’t like the ending because X”, then you might do better considering X, than questioning my motives and feelings.

            Otherwise, I can pretty much guarantee that whoever you’re talking to won’t perceive it as a “friendly conversation”.

            And I can see from the other comments that I’m not alone in feeling like this.

          • Jikid says:

            But the thing is the psychoanalysis was the tone from the very first post. If you couldn’t take it, you shouldn’t have replied to me, or you should have started arguing against the psychoanalysis from the very first reply, not suddenly get angry when I continue in the same tone I started.

            And I had also hoped you notice I offered myself as a vulnerable human as well. Seems it wasn’t enough.

          • jalf says:

            Well, I (and others, it seems), saw this as a comment thread discussing ME3 (and its ending), and I saw your original post dismissing everyone who disliked the ending basically as dishonest, and wanted to respond to that. Are you saying we shouldn’t respond when we feel we are being misrepresented, because by doing so, we legitimize the comments we objected to?

            I’m sorry, I don’t think it works that way. Once again, we addressed specific arguments of yours that we disagreed with, we pointed out why we thought you were wrong, and why we felt you misrepresented our point of view.

            I’m pretty sure it is legal to approach a psychologist and discuss with him, without expecting to be treated like a mental patient. Just like it is legitimate to approach a boxer and talk to him, without expecting to be punched in the face.

            An appropriate answer to that would’ve been to address the points we made, not treat it as an invitation to twist and turn (or plain ignore) our words to somehow imply that out disagreement are really just because we don’t understand our own psyche as well as you do.

          • Jikid says:

            My aim wasn’t to dismiss people’s opinions, but to contemplate the reasoning for them, just the way we could contemplate my reasons for liking the game and the ending. I understand how that can feel dismissive and I understand your feelings regarding your opinion being dismissed, but it just felt to me that there was psychoanalytical (as you guys like to call it) stuff to contemplate in your reply. I understand how that can feel humiliating and plain wrong, but again, that wasn’t the aim.

            “Are you saying we shouldn’t respond when we feel we are being misrepresented, because by doing so, we legitimize the comments we objected to?”

            Why the hell would I say that? So the answer is a simple no. To both questions. No, i didn’t say you shouldn’t respond when you feel you’re being misrepresented, and no, not replying doesn’t legitimize the comments you object to. I just threw out a few thoughts to 1. add my 5 cent to the defense of the ending and 2. to see what people think of it. I feel the answer you guys have offered to that has been “don’t try to psychoanalyze because that’s just wrong; also, the ending sucks because of this, this and this”. Okay. That’s legit. Now I know.

        • Kadayi says:

          Please stop. you’re embarrassing yourself with your generalizations.

          • Jikid says:

            That just makes me feel sad for you. :(

          • Kadayi says:

            http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/11435886/13#11470730

            People like that weren’t disappointed with the game because it didn’t have a ‘happy ending’ they were disappointed with it because it was thematically flawed.

            Still given you’re seeming incapable of making a post where in you’re not putting a ‘:P’ in at the reader though, I suspect that critical assessments like that are rather lost on you at the end of the day when all is said and done.

          • Jikid says:

            It’s weird how you cannot comment without being offensive, even attacking me for trying to lighten the mood with some emoticons. To get so angry because of an online discussion regarding hypothetical opinions is just plain silly. As is, I feel, even answering to you. Sorry. …

          • Kadayi says:

            You’ve been called, and that’s the best response you have? What a complete joke.

          • Jikid says:

            In reality, I’m trying to avoid another exercise in futility. I read parts of the topic and that’s the only course the discussion involving it could take.

            You, however, have done exactly the same thing again. Why would anybody want to discuss anything with a person that cannot be polite?

          • Kadayi says:

            I’m still waiting for you to address the thread I linked to and how it makes your initial comments look well frankly….naive & laughable regarding what gamers wanted with the ME3 ending, but do still feel free to claim ‘mock offence’ at my tone as a reason not to tackle that particular elephant in the room.

    • mpk says:

      There was never any doubt for me that ME3 would be darker than the first two. From the downbeat, mournful note on the splash screen to Shepherd’s dreams… it was never going to end well.

    • Howard says:

      No, I have to disagree utterly, though you will doubtless sweep my comment aside as you”can’t take seriously” opinions you don’t embrace.
      I fully expected a dark ending and was ready to embrace it utterly. From the way the game panned out early on, it was clear to me that either a) I was gonna die, b) all my friends were gonna die or c) we were all gonna get it in the neck, and that is fine and a fitting ending to such a war-torn universe and its heroes. The issue is that the endings and the method through which they were offered were total bullshit. They made no sense on any level at all and were just, from a writing point of view, hackery of the highest order. The entire StarChild concept was just laughable in the extreme and the designers stupidity at forcing us to just tug our forelocks and do something out character would never even entertain was just pathetic. sure they tweaked that a little with the expanded ending but it really just made the awfulness of their writing more apparent and the whole experience all the more hollow.

      • Jikid says:

        You start out your comment by already saying that I probably won’t take your comment seriously which makes me think that that has already happened to you (based on your attitude and the way you’ve presented your argument) and, well, it is a bit problematic to answer to your comment since you just call everything bad, idiotic and so on, without actually explaining why it is so.

        For example, you say the ending makes no sense, but you do not explain what exactly made no sense about it. I can only counter that by actually asking “What then made no sense about it?”

        That describes the rest of your comment as well. What was bullshit about the ending? And what was bullshit about the method with which it was offered? Why was the Starchild concept laughable? Why would Shepard never do what the Starchild asks him to do? What exactly in the the extended ending made “the awfulness of their writing” more apparent?

        Also, do not presume I will not take the comments I cannot embrace seriously. I think taking something seriously and embracing something are two different things and do not have to both be present. :)

        • aepervius says:

          Deus ex machina wiki. That was the problem. See if you can recognize the situation below :

          “”god from the machine”; plural: dei ex machina) is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object. It can be roughly translated as “God made it happen,” with no further explanation, and, depending on usage, is primarily used to move the story forward when the writer has “painted themself into a corner” and sees no other way out. However, in other cases, it is used to surprise the audience or, commonly influenced by editors or publishers, to bring a happy ending into the tale.”

          Deus ex machina can be good. But when it is on the level of a wooden-zeus-star-child waving handto solve everything and what happenned before don’t count, but the writer painted themselves in a corner and wave hand with their god/star child/machine /whatever then it REEKS. Positively.

          A much more fitting ending would have ben an epic battle againt the reaper, but the weapon being destroyed, and we human leave a trace for the next cycle (for example) like the ending when you refuse to do a choice at the machina citadel, but being the only ending. But depending how much much you united the world, how much your action were, say you can either have NO monolyth for the next cycle (aka they are screwed) or many more so that they have a real chance.

          But deus ex machina gone wrong always, ALWAYS bring a decry as you saw hundred of thousand of people scream “bad ending”.

          We are not child or whatever you think we are. We can accept bad ending. What makes us puke *en mass* even if we are not litterature major is a badly written ending.

          • Jikid says:

            Deus ex machina ending isn’t bad by itself. The same way using characters and scenarios that resemble other characters and scenarios isn’t bad by itself. If it was, we’d create almost nothing good. Just go and read what tvtropes has to say.

            I’m also not acting like you’re children. I’m acting like we’re all grown-ups here who are still affected by emotions. Are you saying grown-ups don’t make mistakes based on emotions or questionable interpretations?

          • aepervius says:

            Are you reading what we write ? Can you stop being a condescending idiot and readn ? I said expressly it can be good, but in this case it was not. I think it is useless to even try to debate with somebody not even bothering reading what we write and arguying about it.

          • Jikid says:

            Nope, not going to answer you with more than this when you cannot be polite.

            (yea, I might have been wrong, I might have been right, but who cares when the idiot card is pulled out)

        • Howard says:

          You were being dismissive right from the start so of course I would respond like that. As to not presenting arguments: there is just no fucking point anymore. I have argued and debated this till I am blue in the face and the simple fact is that if the StarChild did not make you throw your mouse in horror there and then, then you likely wont get it (not an insult in any way, I am just saying that you see things utterly differently than I).

          The very shortest answer I can try and give about the endings is this: it was a sham and a hoodwink. To utterly and completely change gears, shrink down 3 massive games to 3 choices and to have all those choices be utterly tangential to the thinking and personality of your personal Shepard was just crackers. Dropping the “and so a powerful being turns up and fixes everything” card was just annoying and the worst kind of trash from a writing point of view. Picture any other story you have read that, at the end, as all your characters are about to reach the culmination of their journey, they are suddenly presented with some all powerful (or at least far more powerful than they) being who tells you that all they have worked for is irrelevant and that this was the choice they would always get. Its just utter crap and more annoying than I am really able to express in such short terms. had this been a non-interactive fiction like a book I would have been irked that I had wasted my time on such a shit writer but as this was a character I had built, I had vested time and emotion in, who was surrounded by other characters I had grown fond of, having them all swept aside and rendered impotent was just infuriating.

          • strangeloup says:

            The Starchild bit, and the fact that the choices up until then seemingly didn’t matter, reminded me a bit of Planescape: Torment.

            SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
            Throughout Torment, there’s talk of the question asked by Ravel Puzzlewell, “What can change the nature of a man?” She sends endless seekers to their death because she’s only interested in hearing the answer from one person, The Nameless One. And it doesn’t even matter what answer he gives.
            SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

            The Starchild, and the final choice, seemed like that to me. Perhaps, like Dishonoured’s Outsider, the Starchild only cares for people who interest him. With all that Shepherd has accomplished, how could he disregard her? Sometimes it’s the question that matters. Sometimes it’s who answers it.

    • aepervius says:

      I can’t speak for everybody else , but in this case ? No. Fantasy i have a lot, I have many sucessful team of P&P RPG I led as dungeon master over 1 decades (Call of Cthulhu, Amber, AD&D 2nd , 3rd ed, and cyberpunk) , and that does not happen when you have limited by fantasy. I don’t always like good ending, in fact a twist bad ending, or a normal bad ending is as good as a good one, as long as it is well directed.

      But this is the problem here. It was not a good ending because it came like a “hair over the soup” abruptely, and nothing really mattered what you did. All that mattered to get some specific ending was 1) a number over a certain value 2) you make a choice (ETA or better said the god-star child offer you a choice) 3) you know NOTHING about what hapenned afterward. I am not speaking of the normandy, I am speaking of the various folk. In such a way the reworked ending was much much better, because when you refuse to do a choice you get to see a next cycle may have a better chance than we had, but *we* are doomed. Here is your bad ending. And it was much better than *ANY* of the color button push.

      The problem was not that it was an negative or positive ending, the problem was it FELT like it was badly written lack crap on a scrap of paper on the quick by an intern with some crap ghod child deus ex machina like because nobody had an idea how to properly write an ending (a negative or positive one) or at least did not ahve the time to write and implement it.

      PS: the game was good but I still prefer ME1 and ME2. Actually ME1 on the mechanical POV is my prefered. Alone for the Mako :P.

      • Jikid says:

        What made that ending better? Because from where I sit, by refusing to play the game the way Starchild asked you to do it, you doomed everybody who depended on you. Through choosing one of the three original endings, you at least gave them some choice of existence. And not only that, but by choosing to not react, you shifted the burden of horrible choice from your shoulders to the shoulders of the next cycle who now has to start from the beginning and deal with what you failed to deal with. By choosing one of the the original endings, you not only saved your own people from the reapers, but you also saved the future cycles from the reaper threat.

        And why must you corrupt a thought-out comment with a third paragraph that does nothing but throw vulgarities towards Bioware’s writing staff? It would add more intelligent stuff to the discussion if it wasn’t so angry.

        Also, I find the criticism of the war score since it’s the gamiest aspect of me3. Reach a number and get something. It’s not that I necessarily approve of it, but it didn’t annoy me either. It was just a way for the game to tell me how ready I am to face the ending. Similar to what happened in me2 with changing the characters default stance to a supportive stance. It just made you ready for what was going to happen in the end. Maybe Bioware’s mistake was that it didn’t spell out better how that war score affected the ending of me3. Maybe. Personally, didn’t matter, but that’s just me, I know. :P

        • jalf says:

          Also, I find the criticism of the war score since it’s the gamiest aspect of me3. Reach a number and get something. It’s not that I necessarily approve of it, but it didn’t annoy me either. It was just a way for the game to tell me how ready I am to face the ending.

          But it didn’t matter. In the end. it didn’t come down to a war, the number of forces at our disposal didn’t matter.

          Similar to what happened in me2 with changing the characters default stance to a supportive stance. It just made you ready for what was going to happen in the end.

          No, in ME2 this “readiness measure” actually had an effect. If your guys weren’t loyal, or if you hadn’t recruited them at all, people would die at the ending. The ending in ME2 actually depended on you, on your team, on everyone’s strength and loyalty. If any of those were lacking, it affected the ending.

          The problem with ME3 is that you spend the whole game building up military strength, and then, in the end, we discover that “our military strength doesn’t really matter. The *only* thing that matters, the thing that makes all the difference and saves the galaxy is a quiet conversation between Shepard and the Reapers’ boss. So why did I bother building all these alliances in the end?
          The logical conclusion is that Shepard’s time would’ve been better spent taking classes in diplomacy. Don’t bother uniting the galaxy, just make sure your word skills are razor sharp, because those are what make the difference in the end.

          • Jikid says:

            Well, one reason for gathering the military strength might have been since Shepard (and you/us/i) expected it to matter. The twist was that in the end it didn’t. Personally, didn’t even notice it not mattering, but again, that’s just personally. :P

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Please stop trying to act like a psychoanalyst. Just… stop.

      When you introduce quite possibly the most important character of the entire trilogy in the last ten minutes without being even hinted at beforehand, you know you have a case of terrible writing. Not to mention how Casper completely neutered the Reapers – before, we knew them as vast entities beyond our comprehension, only to later find out they were just pawns of some last minute addition who was emotionally blackmailing Shepard by taking the form of the child Shepard couldn’t save.

      The whole ending smelled of being a rush job.

      • Jikid says:

        Maybe he was introduced only in the end because he was so above getting his hands dirty that he saw no reason get into it before then? :P

    • BloatedGuppy says:

      I’ve been combing through your responses to those who have replied to you on this issue, and I suspect you’re lapsing into a bit of devil’s advocate now (Deus Ex Machina can be good! Maybe the Star Child didn’t want to get his hands dirty, and that’s why he’s an 11th hour add!), hand waving what are generally regarded as plotting errors. So I’m skeptical as to whether or not a reply is just a waste of time, because I suspect you’ve assumed a position now and you’re not willing to come down from it. But we can try anyway.

      1. On happy endings. I don’t like them, particularly. Often I am at the very least slightly derisive of them. I enjoy a dark ‘gritty’ experience. I loved games like Walking Dead, Planescape Torment, or Witcher 2, and none of those can be said to have ‘happy’ denouements. I enjoy the writings of Joe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin, both of whom have been attacked for being relentlessly dark and cynical. I’ve praised films from Requiem for a Dream to Grave of the Fireflies. I am *quite* comfortable with sad endings. My issues with the ending do not stem from its *sadness*. Indeed, its sadness (and Mansell’s score) was the only thing I found praiseworthy about it.

      2. On failing to understand science fiction/fantasy and requiring a pat or simple conclusion. I think I’ve adequately covered this in paragraph one, but no…I enjoy sophisticated science fiction. I like Moon. I like Solaris. I read Asimov and Bear and Clarke. I’m not blind to some of the themes they are exploring in the ending. I do, however, question where the hell those themes came from and why they were airlifted in at the last second to replace the themes that had been with us for the entire running length of the game. For instance, I ADORE the ending of Moon, but I doubt very much I would have liked it in lieu of the ending of Die Hard. ME3′s ending was a bizarre atonal departure from everything that preceded it. At best, it was confusing. At worst, it robbed the player of catharsis they’d spent ~100 hours building to.

      Now, I’ve made my peace with this ending, but it wasn’t a good ending…before or after the extended cut. In its original form you could go so far as to argue it was OBJECTIVELY bad, given how many bizarre continuity errors it introduced via being so slapdash (dead companions getting off the crashed Normandy the most egregious of these). What was shipped to players was indefensible. What was later patched via the extended cut was unfortunate, not least because they blew their own pacing during the charge on Harbinger, but they had to do something to correct the issues re: the Normandy’s nonsensical escape (even if the thing they did was hilarious and poorly thought out). That they felt the need to throw in a petulant “fuck you” to the fans who wanted to say “No” to the Star Child in the form of that abortion of a “4th ending” doesn’t do much for my opinion of the state of that development studio, but that’s just me.

      That a series about a struggle for galactic unity, mending fences between disparate peoples, humanity finding their way in the universe, etc, got boiled down to Shepard making an arbitrary decision handed to her by the primary antagonist in the form of some watery science fiction gibberish about technological singularities and transhumanism, was very unfortunate. The backlash was entirely justified if not always particularly dignified, and I hope Bioware took at least some of it to heart and didn’t spend the entire period whinging about what ungrateful customers they have.

      • Jikid says:

        No, not devil’s advocate. I really think they can legitimately explain why we haven’t seen Starchild before. Sure, writing-wise Bioware might have added him because they had no idea what else to do and it might have been a cheap, desperate shot from them, but I don’t care about that because for me that ending works and I think I have explained how and why it works for me.

        See, if they did create Starchild mid-me3, then the trouble with series becomes apparent – big plotholes can come from the fact that you can be writing like the third book and suddenly think of something great that you really want to put into the series, but you can’t go back and change things in the past so you just have to wrench it in and try to make it work as well as you can. Yea, Bioware could have just thrown some bullshit together to get to SOME ending, but MAYBE they actually thought it was a great and deep idea – idea which they backed with the extended ending. Sure, the new 4th one can feel like a “fuck you” from Bioware to the fans who hated the ending, but it’s also a commentary upon not taking what was offered by the Starchild.

        Talking of that, I understand why the God ending would be so dislikeable. To be put into a position where you’re up against a literal God-figure and having to bow down to him or be destroyed if you won’t, that’s very cruel to an atheistic mind (such as my own), but … he’s only a God-figure if you choose to see him as one. I chose to see him as a human-like creature that has gone so past us as to appear to be divine when he’s really not.

        Also, when I said fantasy, I didn’t mean fantasy as a genre, but fantasy as our ability to imagine things, to fantasize.

        And lastly:

        “So I’m skeptical as to whether or not a reply is just a waste of time, because I suspect you’ve assumed a position now and you’re not willing to come down from it.”

        But … haven’t you chosen a position as well that you’re pretty certain to not descend from due to anything I could say? For example, I say that what was shipped to the players was not indefensible because I can imagine defensive arguments for it, but will you accept that? (Hell, I can’t even be 100% sure that those arguments actually hold water if dug deep enough :P) And didn’t the extended ending explain how supposedly dead companions could be on Normandy? I don’t really know since I didn’t care about the extended ending and didn’t pursue the extra (I got my ending in the original game :P). I just think I remember something about them explaining it in which case … do you not like/accept their explanation as satisfactory?

        What I wanted to add is that I do try to argue in a way that when I cannot anymore defend the position I hold, I change it according to the new understanding. It’s just that … for whatever reason, I haven’t yet found an argument good enough to tear down the me3 ending. :P

        • jalf says:

          What I wanted to add is that I do try to argue in a way that when I cannot anymore defend the position I hold, I change it according to the new understanding. It’s just that … for whatever reason, I haven’t yet found an argument good enough to tear down the me3 ending. :P

          Well, no. Let’s be honest here. In your first post, you started out dismissing *all* criticism as “it’s just that they want a happier ending”. This prompted a lot of responses explaining in quite a lot of detail what the problems with the ending was. This resulted in you ignoring all of these arguments, and instead telling us what you thought it revealed about our inner feelings.

          Heck, when confronted with this, you summarize that ‘you guys hate the ending because of “this, this and this”.’ That was literally as many words as you expended on the explanations of why we found the ending to be insufficient.

          The “whatever reason” is that you haven’t listened to a single word of the criticism that has been made available to you. You have been completely and utterly unable to defend your position, and you choose to ignore that.

          That’s your prerogative, but please, be honest about it. You haven’t addressed *a single one* of the points presented to you. You have pretended to be Freud, yes, pretending to analyze our dreams and telling us what we *really* mean, completely disregarding anything we said. You stubbornly and ignorantly hold your position, not by defending, but by telling yourself that you know better than everyone else, why some people dislike the ending.

          I already pointed this out, and you didn’t read a single word of it, but when the starchild is described as a “god” it is because he behaves like one. It doesn’t *matter* what he really is, it doesn’t matter if he is a god in the biblical sense, it doesn’t matter if it said “God” in the script when Bioware wrote it. It doesn’t matter if he is a “real” god, whatever that is.

          The problem is that the starchild is completely detached from the rest of the story. His presence, intervention and actions are completely arbitrary. He is disconnected from the story.

          The point is that the starchild breaks the rules of the universe, says a big “fuck you” to everything else in the game. Your struggles to make peace between the quarians and the geth? Doesn’t matter. Your destruction of the collector base? Doesn’t matter. Your building of a crazy superweapon? Doesn’t matter. Your assembling of the largest fleet in the history of the galaxy? Doesn’t matter. In the end, only the Starchild matters.

          When you read LotR, certain themes are established. The protagonists are on their own, they’re trying to destroy the ring, and they’re going to have a really hard time of it, but if they fail, the world is screwed.

          This premise is what makes the story interesting. It is about a group of friends/heroes/fools having a really hard time trying to do what’s right. And so I expect the ending to take this theme to its conclusion.

          I don’t expect Tolkien to suddenly decide that “no, this is boring. Here’s what happens:

          Frodo sits down, and complains about how tired he is, and how sore his feet are. He decides that this just isn’t worth it, and he just… doesn’t care any more. He turns around and goes home, all the way home to the Shire.

          Once he gets there, he sits down in his chair, and suddenly, the Tooth Fairy materializes out of thin air, and says “Hi Frodo. I’d like to help you destroy the ring. Would you like me to take it off your hands and magic it into oblivion?”

          That would be a horrible ending because it completely contradicts everything that has come before. This was not what the story was about. It doesn’t fit together. It would have meant that all of their struggles were for nothing. Frodo could have stayed home all along, and just waited for the Tooth Fairy. What had been a story of adventure and hardship and fellowship and what not, just turned into a story about waiting for someone else to fix your problems.

          And yet this is almost *exactly* what happens in ME3. The story, the trilogy, the constant themes, are about people (especially Shepard) doing their best to bring the galaxy together, to make the world better, to actually make a difference themselves, with their own hands, their brilliant minds, their science, their progress, their diplomacy, their willingness to just make life better for their people. It’s about hope, about how “we can do it if we really try”.

          This is the theme I expect to be carried through into the conclusion.

          Instead, we are told that “none of this matters. People can’t fix what’s wrong with the galaxy. You may have done more than anyone, ever before, you may have united the galaxy, you might have died and come back to life, you might have done the impossible on a daily basis for three years. But none of it matters. The galaxy cannot be made better by the likes of you. The starchild can do it with a snap of his fingers, though. So really, you didn’t really need to do any of this. Your hard work didn’t matter. But someone else, someone who doesn’t really care about you, and who effectively didn’t exist until 5 minutes ago, can fix it for you. Just like that. Would you like him to?”

          What had been a story of, well, you know the drill, turns into a story of waiting passively for some miracle to manifest itself and fix your problems in ways you hadn’t even been able to imagine.

          None of your “defense” arguments have touched on this problem.

          Yes, Bioware put together some word which describe how, through a series of miracles, the starchild saved the day, and Garrus and Joker and everyone survived.

          And sure, syntactically that works. The words are there, and they follow the normal rules for the English language, they form complete sentences which tell us things about the universe and the people we care about.

          My hypothetical LotR ending also holds water. It explains how the story ended, didn’t it? It was written in English, it contained sentences and mentioned Frodo and everything.

          But it wasn’t plausible. It didn’t make sense. It’s not part of the same story. It’s not good storytelling, and it has nothing to do with the story that was being told. Trying to pass that off as an ending, a conclusion, is absurd.

          Look at what the word “conclusion” usually means. A conclusion is generally required to conclude something, based on what has come before. The story is about all the things Frodo and his friends did to get to the point where they were able to destroy the ring. In the end, at the conclusion of the story, Frodo is indeed in a position where he can destroy the ring. Does he do it? Does he? Yes, he did it!”
          See? The ending, the conclusion, picks up on everything that happened before, and concludes on it, ends the story.

          But in ME? The story is about all the things Shepard did to get to the point where she could confront the Reapers. And the concluAND SUDDENLY THE STARCHILD APPEARS AND HE WAVES HIS HANDS AND SUDDENLY THE REAPERS ARE RENDERED HARMLESS.

          Do you really not see the disconnect? The story is about Shepard, about organics and synthetics, about the inhabitants of the galaxy. The conclusion is about the starchild.

          Therefore, the conclusion is a conclusion to a different story.

          • ffordesoon says:

            Slow clap, man. That was dead-on, and as good an explanation of the ending’s shittiness as I’ve heard.

            I did like the Extended Cut’s additions and clarifications, though. It was clearly a rush job, and it still has a lot of the problems, as any ending that revolves around a magical ghost child with godlike powers introduced from nowhere automatically is, but I felt that much of the additional content mitigated the damage admirably. It was just about as good as that particular ending could have ever been.

          • Jikid says:

            You have done the same mistakes you have blamed me for doing. This has been more futile than I expected. Partly interesting as well though. Thank you for taking part, despite the ill will you seem to personally bear against me.

  11. Colthor says:

    I really didn’t get on with this. I tried – I’ve spent so long playing, and enjoying, the first two that it seemed a shame to not reach the end – but I just couldn’t. It felt like I was slogging through the motions to watch the next bit of plot happen.

    I’d jog, so slowly, with so much backtracking, between conversation trees before performing a rigorous depth-first search on them.
    I’d push the Micro Machine Normandy around the map and click on the planets until they’d all been clicked.
    I’d run down the mission corridors, pressing space on the circles and cycling between “Charge” and “Nova” on the enemies.

    I didn’t feel like I was playing a game. I was just performing trivial rote actions – usually pressing space – for each prompt that appeared. It could have been so much more. I’m sure it used to be.

  12. Xanadu says:

    Loved ME2.
    Waiting for the Shadow Broker DLC or bioware points to go on sale so I can play story in the right order
    EAs policy of overcharging then never reducing DLC price and including in GOTY editions I already own part of (ME trilogy, DA Ultimate…) has put me right off playing their more recent games
    Will doubtless play in 2013-14

  13. Stellar Duck says:

    I don’t really have a lot to add about Mass Effect at this point. My annoyance at the ending is long gone, my frustration about the shoddy story in the last 2 games is long gone. My interest in the universe is long gone.

    I only feel a vague sadness for what could have been after the first game.

    Though I must say it keeps surprising me that John thinks there is a good story hidden in the last 2 games. The collectors and Cerberus were both preposterous nonsense and Shep was forced to be a moron and work for Cerberus just because. Ash may have started out as a xenophobe but she could be redeemed. Cerberus are space assholes and racists beyond salvage.

  14. maximiZe says:

    Daily reminder that ME3′s overall writing was a major step backwards from its two predecessors. ME1 established an unique, interesting universe which ME2 filled with a number of decent characters whereas ME3 took a dump on both, only slightly polishing the mechanics – which are playable but still not up to par with other TPS.

    This is excluding the ending.

  15. IneptFromRussia says:

    Amen.

  16. Howard says:

    @John “Despite the torrents of bullshit that were spoken about the game, it absolutely did deliver on the choices you’d made in all three games, and your decisions absolutely did have massive consequences.”
    And never has a more incorrect statement been uttered on this site. Not gonna lay about telling you that your opinions are wrong but ME3′s endings did anything other than deliver on what came before. Moronic, illogical endings (conceived purely to make us believe this was their plot all along) which completely unravelled all your hard work you put in (and that’s before we even get into the nightmare of your success being wound up in the bullshit, shoddy MP section of the game) and blatantly ignored everything you did in order boil 100s of hours of gameplay and decisions down to “Choose door A, B or C – you’re fucked in all of them and no, you can’t think outside the box or behave anything like your character has for the previous weeks of play – dance to OUR tune, puppet” – yeah, that really delivered, assuming what I wanted was a truck load of horse shit in which I could bury any hopes I had of a decent conclusion.
    You can be as angry and aggressive as you like about bashing those of us who hated the endings of this game but you will continue to miss the point. Our anger was not caused by us not “getting the ending we wanted” (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) but by us not getting an ending that made an fucking sense whatsoever. I seriously felt like I had fallen down and hit my head when I launched into the endgame of ME3 as there is no way a series and a team that brought me so much pleasure and showed so much aptitude for well written plots could have vomited up such nonsense, but there it was, the ridiculous, laughable, trite StarChild, staring at me and telling me to make a stupid decision, so I, like many, did the only logical thing and turned the game off.
    They did not just miss the point for a select few players, they did not just fail to cater for a particular extreme of character or decision, they failed in explicit terms to honour their own fiction and deliver an ending to a frankly huge trilogy that was anything other than the most pathetic, amateurish Sci-Fi pap, the likes of which even the worst TV script hack would be embarrassed to wheel out.

    • Nova says:

      Our anger was not caused by us not “getting the ending we wanted” (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean)

      I think it means that your anger was is caused by not getting the ending you wanted.

      • Howard says:

        …Sigh.

        I understood the words ffs. I mean that it is a stupid fucking thing to say. “We” are not a collective. There is no “we” beyond those of us that agree that the endings were total horse-shit. To say we “did not get the ending we wanted” either implied that we are are all so clueless as to not understand that we are being total a story and that the writers will choose the over arching plot or to assume that everyone who was dissatisfied with the endings wanted the same, alternative ending. Either way around, its a dumb fucking thing to say and is just arrogant beyond measure.

  17. Flint says:

    Fantastic game and probably would have been my GOTY had it not been for that horrible ending that wrecked all the emotional impact the rest of the game had been so great with. Still, the rest of the game had been brilliant before those final ten minutes and exactly what the final part of a tightly knitted series should be like. In addition, it’s one of the few cases where a clearly tacked on multiplayer mode actually turned out to be fun.

  18. mpk says:

    My Shepherd liked Ashley Williams from the start, but was beguiled by the Asari into a romance that never felt right. He was devastated when Ashley rebuked him on Horizon, delighted when she rejoined to go to Mars and distraught when she was injured. You can guess how he and I both felt when they finally got together. That this happened in a game, and that the emotions the game provoked were real are a testament to the quality of the characters and the writing.

    Dodgy original ending aside (and the extended cut has improved it – the extra exposition was sorely needed), these three games will always have a place in my list of Top Gaming Moments. I’ll never replay them, because to do so would lessen the impact of the first playthrough, and devalue Jock Shephard’s sacrifice. The fact that I can say that without irony is another testament to the emotional impact of his story.

    My Shephard is dead. May he rest in peace.

  19. mouton says:

    Question: I haven’t played ME3 yet, but I intend to do it relatively soon. Should I play it with the original ending or the extended ending? Is it possible to watch both variations without resorting to youtube?

    • greg_ritter says:

      Honestly, I’d go with revised ending, because it’s essentially the same, but it’s more fleshed out and not so jarringly half-assed.

    • mpk says:

      It’s basically the same ending but the extended version adds an explanatory narration that gives some context to what your choice actually meant. Personally, I didn’t like either version, but it’s an ending. Maybe not the ending we deserved, or needed, but it’s the one we got. If Bioware had came out on Day 1 and said they weren’t going to mess with their art and change the original ending, I’d have lived with that. It would forever have tainted the games for me, but I would have lived with it.

    • Tritagonist says:

      Play it with the normal ending (the extended cut comes as a separate DLC, not as a patch) if you want to get an idea of what the initial outrage was about. Get the DLC if you just want to play the game. There’s not much difference between the two in terms of actual content.

    • Kadayi says:

      Get the Leviathan DLC also. It’s pretty short and adds a lot of back story to the reapers.

    • Grygus says:

      Neither. Play the game until you’re knocked out in a blinding flash of white light, power your PC off, and go outside to reflect on the excellent ending. Don’t even look at what comes next.

  20. McDan says:

    My game of the year, which is hard to decide on because it came out at the beginning of the year with so many other great games since then, plus the ending was a let down for me. But ME3 wins because it’s my shepard(s) that are in it. With all the choices that I’ve made leading up to it mattering. Could just babble on about it but that’s enough. What a game.

  21. S Jay says:

    Still did not play it. Origin and stuff.

    • mpk says:

      Thats a fine principle to stand by, rendered utterly meaningless if you use Steam, or Uplay orany of those other wrappers that come with games these days. And if, by chance, you pirate to bypass those then what’s your point?

      • Vorphalack says:

        A fine point, rendered entirely useless by the fact that Steam, Uplay and Origin are not identical, and that the publisher behind each platform can be enough to warrant a boycott of their middle ware DRM regardless of the platforms functionality. Also, piracy = risk of viruses and is not a safe alternative just to see what all the fuss is about.

        • mpk says:

          Re piracy: never said it was, but pirating as an excuse to avoid DRM is something that’s mentioned a lot on this site. I was trying to forestall a comment I felt likely to appear.

          Also: “origin and stuff” isn’t the same as “EA and stuff”, exclusive platform or not.

          • Vorphalack says:

            ”Also: “origin and stuff” isn’t the same as “EA and stuff”, exclusive platform or not.”

            As long as they force you to use the middleware client to run their games then it sort of is these days. SWtOR was the only recent EA title exempt from Origin simply because it was an always online game, and they don’t show any sign of backing away from Origin for future titles.

  22. khomotso says:

    I’m having a hard time empathizing with either the enthusiasm or the hate. I know that I played it, found the gameplay pretty wooden, but slogged through it to see the story unfold, yet now find I can’t remember most of it, so couldn’t have found it very affecting.

    I’ll have to assume this is somehow my own character flaw, and move on. Oh well.

  23. Tritagonist says:

    The overall feeling about this game for me was one of disappointment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I thought it was a bad game. As pointed out by the RPS writers, it did pull off the trilogy style mostly competently, connecting certain story-threads throughout in quite an enjoyable fashion – but it also proved that wrapping up a long story is very hard indeed.

    I never got the ’40 hours of deeply emotional engagement’ some claim to have had, but it did give me a few good chuckles and moments of appreciation. But I was too often frustrated by the lack of control over ‘my’ Shepard, which seemed to grow into ‘BioWare’s’ Shepard with each hour I got further into this game. Entire lines were exchanged without my input, leading to a dissatisfying difference between my Shepard and the Shepard that was under BioWare’s control.

    Perhaps the ending could never have been all that special considering the war the game centred around had grown from one guy chasing another – perfect for the TPS genre – into an all out space battle that seemed better suited to a Total War RTS.

    But anyway, Mass Effect 3 was definitely the most interesting game of the year due to all the excellent reviews and critiques written about it.

  24. brulleks says:

    After suffering multiple problems with getting previous saves to work following a hard drive failure, I was finally able to lead Felicia Shepherd (part Janeway, part female Mal Reynolds) to the end of her epic journey, including the Extended Cut, only for her to suffer a crucial breakdown of reason at the last moment, when I found myself wondering (and following through on the thought) “What would happen if I just took a shot at that kid?”.

  25. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It’s a decent game, but the fact there are 5 or 6 other PC games that are much better in 2012 tells you how good a year it’s been.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      5 or 6?

      Of course it’s a matter of taste but I’d say that there are a *lot* more that 5 or 6 games that are better.

  26. alex_v says:

    The game felt like a slog to me. The characters from previous episodes were shoehorned into the game in contrived ways, and the shooting was dull. I don’t feel the set-up of the game even worked – here’s a devastating crisis on Earth, but it’ll wait while you mess around with side-missions in space.

    I can’t help feeling that a unique experience from the first game has turned into what now seems largely like a casual corridor shooter.

    • Tritagonist says:

      The pacing in the Mass Effect games has always been dodgy, particularly so in the first one. The game is essentially a chase but allows, perhaps even encourages, players to muck around on the far side of the galaxy saving trivial colonies from even less important crises without any punishment whatsoever.

      The third game has some of that too, but here it perhaps makes more sense since the problem confronting the galaxy is so big, so vast, and so all encompassing that there’s really not much Shepard & Co. can actually do about it other than recruiting folks to work on the Crucible.

  27. Runs With Foxes says:

    A series that started off as fairly interesting science fiction became creepy romance games for creeps.

  28. daphne says:

    What with all the focus on indie games for the majority of the advent calendar entries so far, I was half-worried this would be overlooked. A series that I’m very glad exists, sent off beautifully (all things considered).

  29. Risingson says:

    I didn’t like ME3. It had every thing that I didn’t like from the previous games, and more. John Shephard is either a fascist messiah that either does things because he thinks it’s the best for the universe (the “good” path) or he is just a fascist evil, so at the middle of the game I just wanted him to die. Worse: eavesdropping conversations to create missions is just bad taste, something that made me hate the character even more. And the romances are as ridiculous as ever. And the gameplay is just as repetitive and boring as it could be, taking the worse from the “routine” kind of gameplay many modern games have. With those flaws, other minor details annoy me more: is that supposed to be the future of clubs? Are they that alienated? Also, the mission bugs/glitches. Many reasons to put the game way, waaay lower than ME1 or ME2.

  30. Sarre says:

    While I am firmly in the ‘the ending ruined the entire series’ camp, ME3 did give me one of my most powerful moments in gaming. I accidentally killed the Quarians, not really understanding the consequences of my choice, and that scene left me shaking with horror and guilt. I can only think of a few other games that made me feel personally culpable like that – my jaw was literally on the floor as the Quarian fleet fell burning through the skies around me. I went back and replayed the whole mission so that I could make a different choice, something I never ever do, but even replaying it made me feel bad, that I was ‘cheating’ in a very weird and somehow universal way.

    But wow that ending was bad bad bad. I’d planned on replaying the whole series with MaleShep and making the opposite choices from my FemShep playthrough, but after finishing 3 I just didn’t see the point. It’s nice to think that the game is about the journey, not the destination, but with such a seriously lousy, ill-considered destination, I just can’t put myself in that mindset. It’s like stepping off a luxurious private jet to discover you’ve arrived in Detroit.

    OH – and (on 360 at least) not being able to import my character appearance from 1+2 was bullshit – it was an insult to the fans.

  31. Stevostin says:

    Is it available on PC ? I can’t find it on Steam, Green Man Gaming, GOG or any of my usual online shop.

  32. jaheira says:

    My game of the year by a comfortable margin. Baldur’s Gate 2 is still the best Bioware game but both ME2 and 3 came surprisingly close. I’m glad that there’s some single player DLC as well so I can play again with a different character.

  33. Bluerps says:

    I loved ME3. It took me an enourmous amount of time to finish it, because I have a very thorough playstyle, but it was worth it. The ending was shit (the extended one is a little better, but not much), but everything that came before that wasn’t, so I don’t really care.

    It was a great finale for an amazing trilogy of games.

  34. kyrieee says:

    I’m impressed by how much disdain towards ‘ending complainers’ John managed to convey in that short text. Let it go, maybe?

    • c-Row says:

      Those people shit over every comment section that’s even vaguely ME3 related. It’s totally impossible to talk about the game without somebody coming in after a few minutes to post the same uninteresting blah every time. I wish they would give it a rest.

      [edit] To make it as clear as possible – I don’t mind people discussing the ending when it’s within the appropriate thread or comment section, but dragging every conversation about ME3 down to “Oh, the ending was shit” is tiring to say the least.

      • Yglorba says:

        But on the other hand, I mean, it is what the game is famous for. Twenty years from now people will still be talking about ME3′s ending and the reaction to it.

        I think, probably, it will be what the entire series is remembered for in the long run — I don’t think the series deserves that at all, no, and I can understand the frustrated tone in this post about the sense that that’s where it’s unjustly headed for, but I think that it unquestionably reached the point where the controversy over the ending was bigger than all of Mass Effect itself.

        Which, I think, is hard for us to understand and accept, because to us — gamers ensconced in a gamer bubble — Mass Effect is this huge juggernaut. But the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal didn’t write dueling editorials about the game for its gameplay; they wrote about the blowup over the ending, because that’s the part that broke through into the popular consciousness outside of the gaming world. If you mention Mass Effect to someone who doesn’t play games — assuming they recognize the name at all — they’ll say “oh, the game with the crap ending?”

        To be clear on where I’m coming from, mind, I think that GTA:SA will probably be mostly remembered for Hot Coffee — these early media firestorms will shape the way people look at and make games for a long time. They’re going to be taught in classes on making games and on covering games as a journalist, and when similar things happen in other games journalists will reach back to these to explain what’s going on. Long after Mass Effect’s gameplay is dated and forgotten, or GTA:SA is just another forgotten sequel in a megafranchise, people will remember the media blowups.

        • c-Row says:

          Depending on which news outlet they are writing for I am pretty sure it will be remembered as more than that – most likely “the alien sex and dating sim with the crap ending”.

      • Grygus says:

        You do realize that those comments are pretty much conjured by defending the ending, right? It isn’t reasonable to expect people to silently accept your judgment that their opinions are wrong.

  35. U-99 says:

    There are a lot of things to dislike in ME3. First of all – the story. The main story has a lot of flaws: for example, I didn’t understand, how the hell Reapers came out from the Dark Space? It was the Citadel core calling for them, or not? And if they could come out at any moment, why had they waited for about 5 years after the first encounter with Souvereign? And why Reapers, “who attack the main civilisation capitals” did not come to Citadel right at the beginning? They didn’t know how to find it? It was funny to see, also, how “good” humanity wasted all those years and haven’t done a single thing, while “bad” Cerberus came so close to finding a cure for Reaper problem. I wish the game had given me the choise to side with Elusive man in ME3, but all this “built your own story” bullshit haven’t given me the chance to do so. Also, ME3 is not a game about Apocalypse. Hell, Serious Sam 3 was more about it, more about some brave and futile war with 1000 times overwhelming enemy. I haven’t got the feeling that the whole world was coming to an end, because it’s not enough to sacrifice 1 character to show it. It was also funny in the ending, as the united galaxy fleet was permanently captured in the Solar system with mass relays destroyed. Becase all survivors of the last battle were stuck on the razed Earth with no means to leave it. Actually, I would love to see the final war for last resources among all the former allies stuck there – happy end it is.

  36. sinister agent says:

    Those of you who were upset by the ME3 plotlines may wish to see some of the alternatives.

    Canon.

  37. malkav11 says:

    The ending wasn’t influenced at all by the game(s) up to that point because it wasn’t narratively organic to the situation, its premises were contradicted by my experiences in the game to date, and none of the actual gameplay made the slightest bit of difference in that ending or my available choices (I guess maybe you have to get a certain amount of war readiness to have all three choices available? If so, it’s completely arbitrary and there’s no narrative reason that should matter.)

    I’m not going to condemn the entire game for that – it was otherwise very enjoyable and they were very good at coaxing emotional moments out of me as I recalled earlier, happier times with the various cast members (even Thane, who really didn’t make much of an impression on me in 2, was very good here). And oh, some of the Renegade choices were -hard-. And heck, even the tacked on multiplayer turned out to be pretty enjoyable and sensibly cooperative.

    But that ending was -awful-.

  38. Ernesto25 says:

    i feel i have to preface this by saying I love most of what John Walker has written. But he is so wrong about the complaining it feels like trolling. he even mentions DA:O in his review a far superior if low budget ending recognizing defeating the big bad wasn’t the interesting part but the actual consequences of the actions individually and by the council. Such as How does the galaxy accept the geth? Do the salarians get shunned by the community as many others. This ending was predicted and criticised well before me3 came out . I liked the game on the whole but they didnt use their own ingredients (DA:O and suicide mission) that gave me3 a feel of a fetch quest which seems ridiculous from this point when the reapers are already there. The catalyst just makes me sigh and wonder “what if?” if they put more effort into a conclusion other than a slide show in the EC. The atmosphere and storytelling are done very well but please John don’t act like people who didn’t like the ending were raging lunatics who were hoping to be dissapointed after all these years.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Yes! Dragon Age Origins is a game that got endings right! It has enough variety depending on your decisions before getting to that point. That’s what I dislike about Mass Effect 3 ending. You got to the ending and everything you played before only matters in an emotional way, because here, let’s be honest, you only have three colours to choose.

      I think that in future games Bioware needs to find new ways to make the ending more organically fit to our playstyle and decisions. Something like Dishonored, but much more complex and with more options.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        Yeah that’s how i felt when i finished dishonored that if you ar going to do a slide show ending do it like that but me3 deserved more than that. they created a rich and powerful history as backstory and i wanted to know how i would add to this. the reapers are boring plot device but an effective one to bring out all the inter species conflict and ideal clashes. TIM for example should have been a choice as humanity gains from the reaper war over the rest of the species instead of going” hey remeber me?” and been talked to death.

  39. Freeammo says:

    It’s between this and The Walking Dead for GOTY for me. Both very emotional experiences, far more so than anything else played this year. In fact, I stopped playing just about anything else for several weeks after ME3 as nothing else seemed important. In fact as a few people have said above, I’ll probably never replay the game as it wouldn’t be my Shepard any more (only exception was I did re-do the Extended cut but made the same choice again).

    • chargen says:

      Wow

      Wow

    • pilouuuu says:

      And in my opinion the praised ending to The Walking Dead is as disappointing and abrupt as the ending of Mass Effect 3 without the EC DLC.

      As much as you may be invested in the character, an emotional ending doesn’t mean our decisions really matter. Dragon Age Origins, Dishonored, Fallout New Vegas, those are games that got it much better, but I’m yet to find a game which really takes my decisions THROUGHOUT the game really matter. Multiple endings is the way to go! But real multiple endings, not choosing three colours.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      No offence dude, but if you’re investing so much of yourself into a videogame, you might want to re-examine your life.

  40. elilupe says:

    This is the only Magnificent Advent Calendar game I’ve disagreed with so far. The claim that Bioware “Knew what they were doing” is completely untrue. Everything about this game, not just the absolutely god-awful ending, were sloppily made and completely inconsistent with both itself and the rest of the Mass Effect games. There was only one moment in the game I truly felt was well made, and that was when Garrus and Shep are hanging out, sniping stuff on the Citadel. Besides that, this game was absolutely terrible in almost every respect. The environments all were made up of the same color scheme, the missions were full of too-long fight sequences, badly-done and stupid plot twists, and idiotic characters and decisions. The plot of this game is the definition of Roger Ebert’s ‘idiot plot’.

  41. Rufust Firefly says:

    Mass Effect 3 is a really fun multiplayer game that happens to have a dreadful single-player game attached to it. The gloss of the graphics don’t quite cover the raw edges and cut corners, combat was improved to the detriment of everything else, and nothing more can be said about the way the ending undercuts everything that you liked about the first two games.

    On the other hand, multiplayer is actually fun.

  42. StingingVelvet says:

    Never understood the ending complaints. I’m not sure what people expected. My issue with the game was the poor level design, which no ending DLC could fix.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      I think alot of people have stated what they expected but in a nutshell i think i can sum up alot of it as:

      1) Not a deus ex machina god child that makes no sense with or without dlc making you wonder why he didn’t open the citadel arms and let the reapers in from the end of ME1.

      2) Consequences for the galaxy after the reaper threat has been defeated (in some cases maybe it cant be defeated) I cite dragon age origins and fallout new vegas as effective ways of doing this in their respective endings

      Alot of people i know irl and internet land were looking forward to replaying the game and doing different choices from the very beginning to see what other future events you could lead up to.

      I didn’t *care* if Shepard dies if some part of his legacy would live on as he touched positively or negatively many charters and species influencing their future.

    • kyrieee says:

      I think people expected it to remain science fiction and not resort to nonsense that might as well be magic. The ending choices are meaningless since they’re not grounded in the fiction in any way. For example, the idea of turning organics into synthetics and synthetics into.. synthetics? is as vague as it is implausible within the fiction. What does synthesis mean in a practical sense? Does everyone live forever? Can robots and humans breed now? Do people still feel emotion? You can’t speculate on the consequences of such an event because again it’s not grounded in the fiction, so how could you possibly evaluate that choice? The other choices aren’t any better. When you have no way of understanding what the choices mean they’re no longer meaningful, because you can’t use reasoning to make up your mind.

      People also wanted for what they did to affect the final mission, just like it did in ME2. To save time, just look at this flowchart as an example of what people were hoping for: https://images.nonexiste.net/popular/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Got-bored-so-I-decided-to-reject-Mass-Effect-3-s-ending-and-submit-my-own-and-yes-spoilers.jpeg
      Seems unreasonable? Well compare it to the ME2 one: http://img203.imageshack.us/img203/3025/suisidemissionfinal8.jpg

      The image above partially addresses another issue which is the lack of character focus in the ending. The suicide mission worked because it was all about the characters, the thing in the game you actually care about. In ME3′s ending they’re nowhere to be seen and as a consequence BioWare leave their best tool for creating emotional scenes behind. It’s no surprise then that the final scene with the starchild is about as emotionally dead as things get in Mass Effect.

      There’s also the issue of the plotholes, which the extended cut did address to some degree of success so listing them is hardly worth the time anymore. Finally there’s the problem that the central conflict of the game is completely abandoned in the last 10 minutes. You know how the whole trilogy up to that point was about stopping the Reapers? Well in the last scene of the game the game is about something else, the idea that synthetics will always wipe out organics. That is the issue you’re now asked to resolve. Good job BioWare, for 99.99% of the game the motivations of the Reapers were irrelevant, and you told great stories despite that. Then in the last scene of the game you flip everything on its head. Fucking terribe. As the cherry on top Shepard doesn’t even stop the Reapers through his own actions, Shepard is a walking corpse at that point and the starchild just lets Shepard do it. So not only do they change the central conflict in the final scene, they swap the protagonist as well.

  43. Ernesto25 says:

    The best thing about the me3 ending for me was that a majority seemed to share my disappointment (yes some had a bit of rage but most was overwhelming disappointment). it made me feel like i enjoyed and cared about the same things as alot of people and that was the one good that came out fo the poor ending.

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  45. catherinecatherine says:

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  46. NathanH says:

    Top game, terrible last five minutes (I haven’t got round to the extended version yet). I know that twists at the end revealing the antagonists have some hidden agenda is what all the cool kids are doing, but it didn’t make much sense here. Then making the twist really stupid is also a bad move. There was actually potential for a cool twist that I thought might happen and could have been supported by the info you have (the twist being that the Crucible has always been a Reaper plot to distract everyone).

    Sad to see that John is still defending that poison about how gaming is an “experience” that basically should just be forgotten about and never thought about once you’ve consumed it. That really is a terribly negative point of view. The truly great games are those that are great experiences while you’re playing them, and great experiences while you’re replaying them, and great experiences while you’re talking to people online about them, and great experiences while you’re messing around with them to find out what makes them tick, and great experiences while you’re talking to your friends in the pub about them, and great experiences while you’re thinking about them six months later, and…

    • Lambchops says:

      “here was actually potential for a cool twist that I thought might happen and could have been supported by the info you have (the twist being that the Crucible has always been a Reaper plot to distract everyone).”

      Those dastardly Reapers, distracting us with snooker!

  47. Ateius says:

    In counterpoint to the gushing praise of this article and much of the comments, I present Spoiler Warning’s Playthrough of the game in question.

    Spoiler warning: I agree much more (though not unreservedly) with the cast’s commentary than I do with what RPS says about it.

  48. PopeRatzo says:

    This is a good example of just how much less we expect from computer games than we do from any other form of art or entertainment.

    Where else can the “mechanics” suck in a crappy console port, but just the fact that “it kept me playing all three games until the end” is enough to earn it space in the pantheon. It’s as if “I stayed and kept watching the movie until the end” was enough to make it Oscar-worthy.

    I’m tired of the “relative quality” argument in computer games. I’m tired of hearing, “Well, everything else is mediocre, so anything that’s a little bit above mediocre gets to be called ‘great’” Games cost a lot of money. There is a lot of money to be made. We know they can be better because we’ve seen better. Until we start expecting quality – demanding quality – we’re going to have more years where a disappointing, mediocre game like Mass Effect 3 is considered one for the ages.

    We put up with too much crap to get to the once-every-five-years gem.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      The problem is, people don’t think Mass Effect is slightly above mediocre. They genuinely think Mass Effect is masterful storytelling (also that videogames should be about telling stories). Until videogame critics have a wider frame of reference than just other videogames, slop will continue to be praised.

      • ScorpionWasp says:

        Thing is… We have already had a Silent Hill 2. We have had Vampire: Bloodlines. We have had The Void. When I see something whose plot made me bang my head against the wall every 20 minutes (talking about ME 1 here, no way in hell am I touching the sequels after what I saw there) being praised as one of the greatest greats here, a part of my soul dies.

      • kyrieee says:

        People who like it don’t have any references outside of games, eh? That’s a neat way of rationalizing away the opinion of anyone who disagrees with you. Even KG, who heaped praise onto the series, has no references outside games you say?

    • ScorpionWasp says:

      Well said, sir.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I remember a blogger a few years ago making the same argument about comics/graphic novels–that by heaping praise on work which is even slightly more complicated than the average superhero tale, we actually encourage lower standards.

      The thing is, the comic that guy was talking about was Watchmen. Yeah, Watchmen. And he made some good points! My opinion of Watchmen is higher than his, but it has some serious flaws.

      But still, the fact that we in video games have the same problem with Mass Effect…I mean … there is nothing to say but…we suck.

  49. ffordesoon says:

    Mass Effect 3 is aces in my book, but I still think John’s crazy to like that ending. As I’ve told plenty of people, the pre-Extended Cut ending is like watching an Olympic gymnast perform a staggeringly complex routine with nigh-effortless grace, take a bow as she’s recieving ten after ten from every single judge, and immediately throw herself down a flight of stairs.

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