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21-03-2012, 07:58 PM #1
Forget the ending, ME3ís biggest fault was the last mission!
Many of you might not want to be bothered with any more of this Mass Effect stuff but I really think there's been too much of a focus on the ending and that looking at those minutes of gamplay preceding it might offer a new perspective. Mass Effect 2ís last mission clearly set my expectations for Mass Effect 3 and when you compare the rush through London with the attack on the collector base several of the formers shortcomings become obvious.
The attack on the collector base in Mass Effect 2 was a proper climax. Before jumping through the Omega 4 relay I had spent hours recruiting for my team, getting to know them, earning their trust and gaining their loyalty. Not to mention the boredom that was farming resources to upgrade the Normandy. When the Normandy left the relay I was glad I had purchased those upgrades and when I saw my team fighting, struggling and holding the line in the collector base I was thankful for having them at my side, as friends and loyal allies. It felt like we made a team effort to stop the collectors. It created a bond between them and me and it made every casualty meaningful. They had joined me in this mission because they trusted me and they gave their life so I could stop the reapers.
London was a rock desert. Chest high grey rubble as far as the eye could see and no one there besides my squad of three and the occasional reaper bestiary. There were some Alliance Troops reporting about their withdrawal and some vehicles they left behind but that was just the setup for my next objective. All of this was in stark contrast to what I had expected after spending the last 20 hours uniting the galaxy, reconciling old enemies and finding new allies to retake earth. I had expected to wade through a battlefield on which humans, turians, krogan, salarians, asari and geht joined forces to give me that one shot we got at defeating the reapers.
But there were no turian snipers in the ruins, providing covering fire to me and the human resistance with Garrus calling the shots, no wall of hulking krogan bodies holding of a flanking reaper force with Wrex telling them to shrug it off and fight, no asari protecting the crucial rockets against reaper artillery with their barriers and no platoon of geth primes screening me when I ran for the beam. I had invested so much time and made so many hard decisions to bring the galaxies most disciplined shots, most hardened fighters, most powerful biotics and a full platoon heavily damage resistant and literally fearless colossi to earth but as soon as I marched out I felt like I was fighting the reapers on my own.
When I started that mission I didnít expect a happy end. I knew there could be no happy end against the reapers, no second ďsuicideĒ mission without any casualties. Before I set out for the beam I bid farewell to everybody as I expected to see most of their faces for the last time or even all of them. And it would have been alright. We would have done whatever it took to stop the reapers even if it meant most of us would not get a chance to enjoy that victory. It would have been alright to see the krogan eventually falter; weakened by the loss of the Aralakh company I had sacrificed to rescue the rachni queen. But all I ever got to see was the death of some Alliance soldiers who somehow teleported in to join me in the run for the beam and the dead bodies of my two squadmates. Thatís it. Those are the only casualties youíll actually see. The only ones youíll feel. And thatís the problem: The mission does not evoke any strong emotions as a climax should.
Bioware could have gotten away with the underwhelming endings if they had given their fans an emotional and suspenseful last mission but for some reason theyíve chosen to invest much less effort into what could have become the series defining moment.
21-03-2012, 11:09 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
Yep, the London mission was a lot less fun than the rest of the game. Not only as a missed chance to reflect the decisions you made to the dilemmas presented to you throughout the games, but as a level in itself. A very poorly lit, largely close-quarters grind with no dialogue with the two people you took with you? I was genuinely expecting a standard video game end-level boss after all that (e.g Joker in Arham Asylum or Saren in Me1). Pleasantly surprised there actually wasn't (the boss in Me2 was particularly poor) but after 30 odd hours of being the galaxy's best sniper, I would have liked my Shep's final ever fight to be something other than more teleporting fetish-ised robot asari, at close range in the dark in a ruined coffee shop. With a random medi-gel dispenser.
21-03-2012, 11:22 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
But then comes the ending which just overshadows everything else :P
I also thought the pacing was totally off. That fight by the trucks was intense, but it doesn't work as the final climax of the game because you think you're going to fight it out in the Citadel as well.
21-03-2012, 11:24 PM #4
All fair points tbh dude. I must admit I was kind of swept up in the trench warfare of it all, but you're right in that it lacking for much colour in terms of activities from your allies (although there was the odd vehicle) Vs the battles on the other planets.
22-03-2012, 12:28 AM #5
I cant help but sort of feel the same. I think we were all expecting a series of final level decisions about how to use the war assets we'd gathered over three games, or at least a few scenes and bits of exposition. I was expecting Wrex on the left of me, Kirrahe on the right, and Joker flying strafing runs from above as the defiant remnants of everyone I'd sworn to fight alongside charged straight into the mouth of hell. Overly high expectations perhaps, but I cant help but feel they could have done so much more with London.
That said, I thought everything between the final charge and the magic elevator was absolutely staggering.I occasionally write things on this website. You can read these things by clicking this thing:
22-03-2012, 01:28 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2012
I think this is an excellent deconstruction of exactly how Mass Effect 2 set us up to expect even better things from the Mass Effect 3 suicide mission. I think that had ME3 been an unknown IP standalone game on it's own merits, London would have been passable as I too got caught up in the trench-warfare vibe. Not great, but passable.
As it stands, I fully agree that London was set up to be the major set-piece of the entire Mass Effect series, where everything Shepard accomplished and messed up along the way could get a nod and thereby giving the player a sense that their work absolutely mattered. Killed the Rachni queen, lied to the Krogan about the genophage cure, gave Cerberus the Collector base, and let the Quarian or the Geth be completely destroyed? You'd be in for one very short assault in London.
That's the thing: I think I would even be okay with the Reapers completely winning by annihilating everything Shepard did manage to put together if you shot yourself in the foot too many times. I think it would utterly piss off a lot of people to have half a decade's worth of work blow up in their faces, but it would have done so based on the actions of the player. As long as there is a tangible and believable reason for the player to have gotten the results they experienced (i.e. in-game sequences with radio chatter, or cutscenes along the way), I would be happy.
It's definitely implied that all of the other forces Shepard has amassed are all in the pitch of battle with and around you, but I think what the players needed was to see it and I think you're spot-on to suggest that London was the place to do so.
I think even the whole Catalyst situation would have gone down a lot smoother if the London mission properly reflected all of the player's work coming to a head. As it stands, we were feeling the build up to the climax all the way through the trench-warfare of London through being blasted in the face by Harbinger. I know I was absolutely brimming with excitement going up to the Citadel, but the big finish never came and credits rolled. But alas, like you said this thread isn't really about the ending itself.
Last edited by delcake; 22-03-2012 at 01:33 AM.