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23-04-2012, 01:47 PM #841
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- Dec 2011
Just dropping in to add my tuppeny bit (having finally finished the game about a week ago).
I went for the synthesis ending but actually found it a pretty satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Some of the details were slightly immersion breaking (like circuitry in leaves??) but the overall arc of the ending worked fine for me.
It's not a new theme, but for me the trilogy (like all good SF) basically hammers on the relationship between us (or evolved life in general) and what we create (technology and designed life). But more than most SF the games do take this relationship through a variety of different analyses -- starting of with the role reversal of the husk conversions on Eden Prime, where immediately the organic is essentially treated as raw material by the synthetic (a theme that is made slightly over explicit in ME2), through the parent/child dynamics of Quarian/Geth where it has become clear that Geth are no longer 'designed life' but are effectively an evolution of the Quarians (which is probably worth a post in its own right), even to themes like the Krogan who are jumped out of their evolutionary trajectory and effectively turned into 'designed life' by Salarian technology who then have the presumption to genetically castrate them (building 'safety features' into their 'creation').
Coming as the wrapping up of all these themes, I found that the choice between luddite, technocrat or singularity was very appropriate -- and after I went for synthesis (suspending disbelief about the leaf circuitry...) having Joker and EDI emerge as Adam and Eve characters on a new Eden was totally appropriate. Certainly no more daft than, for example, the ending of Peter Hamilton's Nights Dawn trilogy.
Of course, I do have a second and interpretation: Shepherd gets gunned down by the reaper while approaching the beam, the scenes on the citadel are nothing more than the spastic firing of synapses as she dies, the reapers destroy us all, the cycle is completed... again. (This is probably a more believable outcome to be honest)
02-05-2012, 10:40 AM #842
I have finished this. Good lord, Marauder shields was a pain in the hole on insanity.
I'm glad I don't try to read through the bioware forums. Read John Walker's piece on the endings, read some of the comments, really had to stop at that point, because the internets was making me angry.
Just to hit maximum grumpy old man mode and throw in my own rant, the Mass Effect series has had the unintended consequence of revealing the worst side of fan behaviour within the gaming community. I can't say I was particularly happy with edi and Liara being magically transported onto the normandy and crash landing elsewhere. That was an epic fudge. Last I saw, they were both on earth, and when the green synthesis went down, provided they survived, that's where they should have stayed. That felt like a bit of a 'shit, we better throw them some closure.' I'm somewhat confused on the insistence of attaching shephard to joker, because that might have been what they intended, but I thought she was closer mates with Garrus and Tali, meself. But whatever. These are examples of not quite getting the tone right, and why, to my mind, it's only a good ending.
I just can't, for the life of me, fathom or understand why people insist on everyone living and the gates not going down in their ending. I don't recall Dan Simmons getting this shit at the end of the first two Hyperion books (I, uh, don't really think about Endymion. He may have wanted to return to that world, but I did not). I can't recall any reaction like this to the abject misery and desolation that is captain jack's character in Children of Men. One of my standout favourite pieces of literature is LeGuin's The Farthest Shore. Ged, uber magician, saves the world by ensuring that people can die again and in the process loses all his magic. Sure, they get a new kingdom out of it, but he just goes back to a hut on the side of a hill.
It's not like great genre fiction is unfamiliar with downbeat endings which end suddenly, which don't give you 'closure'. Nor, in truth, should they. I have read just about enough of the 'people like narrative' prattle to be really pissed off here. Narrative doesn't mean you get to find out what happens five years after the fucking story. narrative is the story. If you are emotionally invested in characters (in spite of the multitude of hackneyed lines and some truly awful, awful touchy-feely dialogue), then the writers have succeeded. Good for them.
Is it an elegant, beautiful ending? No. Does the little PDA note at the end horribly cheapen everything? Yes. But much like the series as a whole, the spreading out of a grand narrative over three games has given the writers the breadth to give you a familiarity with characters you like spending time with, and even when about half of what the characters spout is tedious cliche, they still stick with you.
It's funny. I'm happy with my ending in the witcher, but in someways, I feel closer to my ending of the trilogy. It doesn't quite have the heft of JD hearing about the lights going out all over the world, but as ever with this series, I find myself surprised that its as close as it is.
I find it frustrating that significant chunks of the gaming community has responded in the way it has. But not surprising. I used to work as an editor for a large SF publisher, this sense of ownership (combined with a demand that it be recognised) is very familiar. The gaming community, just like SF fandom, is very close to the thing it loves. The support structure that helps these games garner incredible commitment and monetary support will work against the writers, developers and publishers. There's not much to be done about it. I think in some ways, games (and to a certain extent, television), encourage this kind of response because their medium is ultimately more permanent - there's always another episode, and you can always go back and play a particular chunk of a game and have a different outcome. I think that permanence makes people think that the story has to keep on being told. Endings aren't welcome in such an environment.
But if you want a fusion of gaming and narrative, at some point, you're going to have to have one. And that ending may not resolve how you like, because someone else is writing it. Not you. They get to decide how it finishes. It's not Minecraft. You get to participate in the story, not write it.
Last edited by Wizlah; 02-05-2012 at 10:43 AM.
02-05-2012, 11:29 AM #843
02-05-2012, 11:49 AM #844
It's funny, because I just replayed the final bit to see what the control ending was like, and there's a bit of back and forth where shepherd says (in my version at least) that one of the defining points of organic life is free will, and that the catalyst's solution doesn't give that. then the catalyst says that humans have always had free will and choice and it's because of that that shephard is standing there talking to the catalyst. Which is an uncanny echo of the argument you're putting forward. The choices affect the journey, but the ending was always the same vs why don't the choices affect the ending.
But a lot of the discontent doesn't just seem to reflect the lack of sufficiently complex endings - it's that people don't have the endings that they want amongst those sufficiently complex endings. Go through that first page of comments to john walker's piece, and it's mostly complaints about the nature of the ending, not that they didn't offer sufficently complex endings to reflect all the choices made.
Last edited by Wizlah; 02-05-2012 at 12:02 PM.
02-05-2012, 12:02 PM #845
So I've wanted to post about this for a while now. These are mainly random thoughts about the final quarter of the game, accumulating in an 'eh?' at the end.
Aside from the ending itself, there's several things leading up to it that seem a bit silly:
Starting on the Normandy before Priority: Earth: The whole ‘Tali-Garrus’ romance pops out of no where; you just walk in on them in the gunnery battery. It’s supposed to be endearing and charming, but instead it just comes across as contrived. There’s no lead-up to it; it’s just… there. I understand that they may have kept it a secret on purpose, but all the same it was just odd that they had left no clues around before then. Unless they did and I missed them, but I pretty much did the rounds with every character after every major mission.
After stepping foot on Earth: The death of Cortez seems very unnecessary. It doesn’t really do anything for the story and again, seems contrived and unnatural. He’s supposed to be one of the best shuttle pilots in the Alliance and yet he’s off by a single Harvester - even though I swear he’s kited them in previous missions (I may be wrong here however).
If his death is supposed to stir some sort of emotional reaction in me, it fails; Cortez was a likeable but fairly minor character in a cast filled with people who have been with me for the two games prior.
After getting picked up and meeting Major Coats in the shuttle: The whole scene is just a little random. Anderson could be filling the same role as Coats - since he has been on Earth while the war has been going on too. Moreover, that weird ‘I was born in London…’ line from Anderson is… just… meh. And I already knew that he was from London anyway from talking to him a fair bit earlier over vidcom.
After reaching the forward base and talking to the squad members: There is a few minor things here that, collectively, breaks immersion and gives me a big impression that the development team were being rushed for time.
For me, the first thing is the final farewell to Kaiden. I play as FemShep and he is my love interest. Even though I have the helmet option to ‘off in most circumstances’, during the conversation with him my helmet is on for some reason. This means that when the kissing happens… yeah… it doesn’t look good. It’s a shame I didn’t take any screenshots but I’m sure this probably happened to a few people.
The next thing is when you’re talking to the Communications Officer who patches you into various people who are not with you at the same staging area on Earth. It’s quite miraculous how he knows who to contacted based on their first names (‘Jack’, ‘Samara’, ‘Grunt’ etc.). This may be explained by the fact that your old squad members would have had such high profiles after working with you during ME2, but all the same…
Something minor during the conversation with Jacob - he calls me ‘Sir’ even though I’m FemShep.
Liara’s weird memory/vision she shares: I… just… ugh. Did I miss something with this? Is it supposed to symbolise eternity? Did I just embrace eternity?
To be honest I feel that the most touching part of the entire area is the conversation that you overhear with a marine talking over the radio to a civilian survivor, who commits suicide to avoid huskification.
So after that some shit happens and Harbinger arrives. People make a big deal about this and I understand why; after an entire fifteen hours of being absent, the apparent commander of all of the Reaper forces in the galaxy has come to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth, literally. But… hang on, I have just been fighting legions of faceless Reaper forces and only now Harbinger shows up only to bail shortly afterwards? Plus, I have just spent the few hours prior to that fighting the Illusive Man’s organisation. So this begs the question…
Who was the antagonist?
It was the Illusive Man, right? I mean, basically all of the Second Act involves him or Cerberus in some way - from the attempted coup on the Citadel to them trying to control the Reapers. But that seems strange to me, since even though Cerberus were a major part of ME2, the Reaper threat took precedence. But here we have half of the game dedicated to finishing off the organisation and the allocation of War Assets falls by the wayside. Weird.
I had hoped that Harbinger would have played a bigger role in the story, but his appearance towards the end seems to be more of a cameo than anything. This is strange to me, because in both ME1 and ME2 Shepard has a very personal relationship with both Sovereign and Harbinger. However in the final game the closest you get to that sort of interaction is with the Reaper on Rannoch, which basically amounts to ‘LOLOLOL YOU CANNOT DEFEAT US’, ‘ye i can’, ‘KK’.
Hell, maybe the Starchild is the antagonist if the Indoctrination Theory camp are to be believed.
Whatever. Just some random thoughts.
Last edited by Krathor; 02-05-2012 at 12:09 PM.
02-05-2012, 12:12 PM #846
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- Feb 2012
- Stockton-on-Tees, UK
The main problem with the ending is quite simple. Throughout the series you make lots of choices that ought to have long-term far-reaching impact on the galaxy. You know this when you're making the choices, and that's part of the fun. The future of the galaxy is in your hands, not just in the stop-the-reapers sense, but also for many of the individual choices.
A good Mass Effect ending would have given indication about the long-term outcomes of your collection of decisions (ideally randomly generated (with the random numbers determined at the start of the game) so that particular decisions or combinations only improved your chances of a certain outcome, rather than definitely gave you an outcome).
A bad Mass Effect ending would have given no indication about the long-term outcomes.
What we actually got was something worse: an ending whose only indication about the long-term outcomes was that pretty much nothing mattered.
As an example, the best choice in Mass Effect 3 is the Krogan one, particular if Wrex is dead. You have on one hand Wreav, an obviously vicious and vengeful leader, who could become supreme ruler of an extremely warlike and destructive species. They nearly destroyed galactic civilization once already. On the other hand, you have Eve, who seems pretty sensible and reasonable. And also the Krogan don't really deserve to be genetically stunted by outside powers, it's not really fair on them. What to do?
Well in the end it probably doesn't matter, because Wreav is probably dead, and many of the Krogan are probably cut off from their homeworld anyway, and there's not going to be any galactic war anyway because their aren't any Mass Relays. It's worse than not being told the outcome of our decision. We're essentially being told that our decision didn't matter. I almost shot a well-meaning scientist in the back over this, and now you're telling me that none of it mattered or could ever matter? Not good.Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.
02-05-2012, 12:23 PM #847
I think the genophage still matters, them reproducing 1000 times faster will certainly influence the species recovery.
If that means they become a plague of a species remains to be seen.
The mass relays might have sped up every day technology, but they probably slowed down scientific advancement. Only the Geth understood being a slave to alien technology was a bad thing.
Super fast FTL will be developed again, but this time it won't be a trap.
Last edited by Heliocentric; 02-05-2012 at 12:27 PM.I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
02-05-2012, 12:25 PM #848
Watch the tasteful nerd rage video Sinderlin posted. It's 41 minutes but it does a good job of summarizing a lot of issues with the ending from a narrative perspective.
Also I think you need to extend your reference pool beyond a few comments on Johns article.
02-05-2012, 01:20 PM #849
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02-05-2012, 01:37 PM #850
He's right in this regard - the sequence on tuchanka is better than the final ending in terms of how it's done. I hadn't thought about that before and it's proof that they fell short of a truly excellent ending. I could happily stick with the three endings they outline if they just found a better way to tell it, and dump the crash landing on an alien planet when two of the people were on earth last time I checked.
But, and this is crucial, the existing ending still did the job for me. Hell, I'm not even pissed off at the kid. I rolled my eyes when the little fucker appeared at the start of the game and just put up with it. As ever, I am amazed at how much I will roll with Mass Effect when bioware keep doing dumb shite like that.
I'm at the point now where I'd rather bioware just held up their hands and said 'yeah, we fucked up the ending - could have told our finale better but we didn't. And we perhaps shouldn't have promised so many individual permutations unless we were committed to a fallout style rundown of what happened to everyone who survived.' And just leave it. Because what's done is done, and I'm of the opinion that you kind of have to stand by what you made, even when you messed it up.
I was saying to a friend this morning, I was recalling the anger a colleague used to feel over the ending of Donna Tartt's The Little Friend. Man, she wouldn't let that go for years. And what it amounts to is this - she's less likely to buy the next donna tartt book and more likely to say that donna tartt needs a tougher editor. Maybe bioware don't make the same mistake next time. It was a pretty ambitious trilogy, so I'm happy with the thing overall. Hope they try and do something like it again.
Having read your response and taken a look at the youtube vid, I can see why some people are understandably pissed off with the result. Not me, although I doubt I'll be buying a bioware game again. But I'd decided that before I played a minute of ME3. I just don't like enough of bioware's writing. It's why I didn't want to play dragon age, and I'm not in a hurry to see anything they do in the future. But those flaws were apparent right the way through the ME trilogy, and weirdly, the things I don't like about the ME trilogy didn't show up in the final scene.
(Well, okay, the kid as the avatar for the citadel/catalyst.)
Last edited by Wizlah; 02-05-2012 at 01:39 PM.
02-05-2012, 01:53 PM #851
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I say that Wreav is probably dead because he was with Hammer, krogan are assault troops so he would probably be part of the main assault, and almost everyone in the main assault died (unless they were teleported about the Normandy by Space Magic).Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.
02-05-2012, 01:54 PM #852
02-05-2012, 01:57 PM #853
At work so can't type much, but the big terminator reaper in me2 actually tied into the original trilogy outline that Drew Karpyshyn wrote where in the reapers were harvesting civilizations in order to try and overcome the real threat to the galaxy, namely the spread of Dark Energy, which was a much more talkie techie sci-fi idea. This was the storyline that both ME1 & ME2 followed. Karpyshyn ended up going down to Austin to work on TOR rather than ME3 and Mac Walters and Hudson essentially threw it out the window and concocted the whole God Child/Q thing towards the end of production (as the Dothraki say 'this is known').
02-05-2012, 02:10 PM #854
It's funny, I kind of got the sense that the reapers weren't trying to harvest to prevent the synthetics from winning/losing, just to avoid the conflict full stop, because if it got out of hand everything would be wrecked. So they stuck with doing a wipe and giving some other lifeforms a go for a bit until the conflict started to emerge again, then wipe and reuse the universe. I have no idea where I formed this intepretation from. Given that understanding, I chose synthesis because the cycle needed to be broken, and destroying the reapers/synthetics wouldn't solve that, nor would control - the problem would potentially still be there.
02-05-2012, 02:19 PM #855
As it stands now, all you're told (discounting the annoying normandy bit) is that the mass effect gates go down, and either all synthetics are gone (but may return, because, you know, people will build them), or the reapers are gone under the control of shephard (who may or may not exist in some weird mental/symbiosis with them - control to my mind is the weakest of the three endings) or there's a crazy new galaxy where the cycle is stopped. They don't tell you anything else. I'm okay with that. I presume life survives somewhere all around the galaxy, and that with the onset of the reaper war, a huge effort has been made to preserve as much knowledge as possible (e.g. liara's memory boxes, the asari arrangements which are made after thessia falls, whatever eve was doing back on tuchanka - she mentions reminding the krogans about their culture and preserving old ways).
02-05-2012, 02:39 PM #856
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That's all irrelevant to what I'm saying. The choice in question was not just "should the Krogan by able to reproduce". The thing that made it one of the most interesting and difficult decisions in the game was that, at the time of the choice, you have to wrestle with the potential outcomes: Wreav wins the power struggle and destroys galactic civilization, Eve wins the power struggle and the Krogan become a more enlightened and civilized species that can engage in galactic civlization, or some compromise between the two extremes. You balance these possibilities against the barbarism of just letting the Krogan waste away pathetically. What turns out to happen is that, for reasons beyond your control or possible predictions, no matter what you do those outcomes won't really happen in any way that you originally conceived.
Of course it is a plausible outcome that something comes up later that renders all of those choices meaningless, just like it's a plausible outcome that the Reapers win no matter what you do, but that doesn't make it a good idea. If you've got a choice'n'consequence game where you are frequently making choices that you believe at the time to be going to impact galactic civilization in certain ways, then if your ending makes these consequences meaningless or completely unknowable in advance, then you have done a bad job.Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.
02-05-2012, 02:51 PM #857
You know what impact your decisions have on tuchanka. the krogan can breed or can't breed. there could of course be many more permutations to that - the problems between wreve and eve, say, whether wrex could continue to guide the krogan to something better - but that's not the story being told here. the story has always been about the universe and the reapers. within that context, your decisions have some meaningful impact, although in a somewhat cack handed fashion. The catalyst says the crucible has changed it and allowed it to provide a different solution. and if you build up your assets enough, the idea is that the crucible actually allows the catalyst to concieve of the idea of synthesis. It is clunky mashing of narrative and gameplay - I guess the reasoning behind it might be that if you give the allied forces enough of a chance to win, enough breathing space, the crucible will work best as intended, which in this case is to provide a blueprint for a new kind of organic/machine synthesis. But if you can't give them that time through your many decisions, the crucible is only good for one thing - destruction.
02-05-2012, 03:02 PM #858
You can argue that they didn't build up that final decision well enough in the narrative of the final game, and I think there's a point to be made there - you're told nothing about the crucible, just that it's potentially a big bomb to blow up the reapers. Even allowing that as an essential part of the drama of the third game (your one last chance isn't even one you understand well, but desperate times call for desperate measures), they could have pushed a lot of the dialogue to meditating on themes of change and metamorpheses, cycles and so on. but they didn't because bioware are a bit shite that way, so we got more soldiers in space and their love interests. But then no one ever accused bioware of learning some of the lessons of deus ex, which pretty much spent its whole game considering and framing the nature of the final decision.
02-05-2012, 03:06 PM #859
The real problem with the ME3 plot is that they never explain why synthetic life is bad. So what if it wipes out organic life? What difference does it make? Why do the reapers care? The whole thing feels contrived.
02-05-2012, 03:06 PM #860
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Why? Because if you spend time building up an interesting subplot (who wins the Krogan power struggle and what happens after) the worst thing you can do is then later say "oh haha, turns out that subplot was utterly meaningless". You say it's not "the story being told here"---so why include it at all? It was set up in a really good, deep way. And then all thrown away right at the end. That's just bad.
Your talk about "fixed points of the narrative" is completely irrelevant. Of course the story has to end at some point. It's whether you make the ending work well with what has gone before. In this case it clearly does not. It works against the experience that has gone before.Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.