Mass Effect 3 Commentary SPOILERS AHEAD!

http://youtu.be/GmECZm1RsN8

 

After 5 years of going through the Mass Effect storyline it all came to an end for me yesterday. I think that I should blog about this while emotions are still fresh and the wounds are still bleeding(It is war afterall).

Bioware set out in 2007 to create a space opera that rivaled that of Star Wars and they succeeded. Even though the first game was forgettable, the story was there and they returned in 2009 and redeemed themselves with Mass Effect 2. 

Bioware stood out as a western game developer that could make roleplaying games or RPGs that challenged the dominance of JRPGs at the time and triumphed.

With Mass Effect 2 being the “dark” story much like Star Wars’ Empire Stikes Back, it set itself up for an epic finale. The Reapers would finally arrive and the bring an end to the story of YOUR Commander Shepard.

Like many others, I pre-ordered the game and patiently waited for news and the eventual release of the game.

Sometime between the last quarter of 2011, a production script of the game was posted on a Russian forum. One could assume that it was authentic as it was given a takedown order. I held off reading it and there were even some posts on the internet that Bioware should not change their story just because the script leaked out. 

As it turns out, they should’ve probably changed the script.

TURN ON CONSPIRACY MODE.

It’s interesting that the ENTIRE script is leaked out in the public just months away from release. By this time, it can be assumed that the script was already locked in (no changes are made) and the entire voice cast have already done their job and are just waiting for the promotional tour of the game. Could it be that some Bioware employee was not happy on how the game ended?

I was able to copy the script before it was taken down and just saved it on my hard drive but not reading it. Now that I finished the game, I had to compare the finished product. Unless you knew how the game progresses, the script is a bit hard to put together on your own. But the endings are the same.

WHAT”S THE POINT OF ALL THIS?

Mass Effect 3 is a great franchise and a great game. If you’ve never played the game before, you should now. The last few games that gripped my heart were Final Fantasy 7′s Aerith’s death and Final Fantasy X for the ending. Those games were made a while back in another console generation so it’s been a while for me to be placed on an emotional rollercoaster all because of a game.

Why is that? Is it becuase of the countless hours spent with the controller as we went through man made environments? The Final Fantasy series has been more like an interactive movie with you running and fighting around and upon reaching certain points in the game you are rewarded by a magnificent cutscene that should be in movie theaters and not your tiny TV.

Yu Suzuki was among the first if not the first to create an open-ended game with Shenmue. Too ahead of it’s time and problems of distribution (released exclusively on the Dreamcast and Xbox) ended the story but not the idea.

Peter Moleneux, creator of Fable attempted the same approach as well. By creating a world where you build up your strengths and abilities to battle a foe in the end. Your choices allow you create a world built around you but in a medival setting with non realistic graphics. But for some reason, I could not sympathize with the character I created there. There was no emotional hook for me. Sure you can have a family and kids, own everything in sight and so on, but it was all an afterthought and not integral to the story. The best relationship you can get out of the game is with your dog and that’s it.

Bioware has placed interactive storytelling in another level. Here decisions matter. Relationships with your crewmembers matter and decided if they live or die. Decisions made early the game determine the eventual outcome of a mission later in the game. Your crewmembers become a part of you and as the game progresses, you see them mature and develop, as did you. Does any of this sound familiar? It’s called real life.

Yes, Bioware had managed to put in over 23GB of data the experience of saving the galaxy and having a love interest at the same time while fending off advances from other crewmates. The Commander Shepard I made, is my Shepard. It’s not only my Shepard, but also in some psychological way, an extension of me. The choices I made are based on my own morals, and own ideas. I cringe whenever I reach a point where I am aware that the path I choose can make my friend love me or hate me. Bioware has made us too involved with the game.

WHY IS THIS GAME IS GOOD.

The game is fantastic. You can tell early on that the game begins to wrap up loose ends. You see people you interacted with in the previous two games and bring closure to their stories based on your actions. The script written is one of the best I’ve heard in a game. I know some of it is cheesy. But that’s how it really is The playful banter between the characters puts a smile to my face. ME3 shows the the most intimate parts of either a growing relationship or rekindling one from the past. Added to the fact that the voice acting is top notch, makes you fall in love all over again.

I could see it now. I would save the galaxy, bring peace everywhere and live quietly with a family and lots of litte blue children.

WTF ENDING

But like life, it throws you a curveball and this one came out of nowehere. Up until the ending, you could control almost every decision made until that point. In Mass Effect 1, it was simply save the Destiny Acension or the Alliance Fleet. Who should lead the council (BTW this should have been a hint, your choice here doesn’t matter)? It was easy, fall in love, stop a rogue Spectre, and prevent a race of sentient machines from killing us all.

Mass Effect 2 was bit more complicated, you had to gain the loyalty of your crew or else they will not survive the Suicide mission you’re on. Plus all the choices you made in the first game carry over.

Mass Effect 3 takes a different approach and math towards the end. The galaxy is at war and you must gather allies and war assets that will determine the fate of the Earth and the universe. The higher the number, the better are your chances in defeating the Reapers. This is the first game that employes multiplayer. This is also the first game that REQUIRES you to play the multiplayer to get the “best” ending. The default is 50% war readiness. That means even if you have 6000pts in war assets, your final strength is only half that. I could still live with that.

So the end finally comes, you have your great confrontation where it all started, then what? You choose to either, die and send everyone to the dark ages, or die and still send everyone to the dark ages. WTF!?! Then what was the point of the past three games that I played to get to this point. It immediately felt that everything I did was all for nothing. I would bring peace, yes. But at what cost? Hasn’t the price been paid yet with billions of virtual lives against the reapers enough? Wasn’t it enough that I died and came back to fight another day satisfactory for the universe? True, Bioware has stated that this only marks the end of Commander Shepard’s story arc and that more can come from the Mass Effect universe, but I feel that their ending killed any notion of that ever happening. 

MASS REJECTION 

If Amazon reviews and the forums at bioware.com is any indicator of the disappointment of fans of the game who have played it, the outlook is not good. What initially started as a 5 star game is now falling to the 3 star mark for one flaw. The ending. It hasn’t been a week since the relase of the game and there are numerous threads with one posting over 680 pages are of this posting on how the ending was a big let down for everyone. Online petitions have sprung up and creative types have been writing their own endings in fanfiction format to get over the grief of the ending. 

I finished the game at 2AM Saturday morning and was shell shocked. I could not move after I saw the credits roll. It was just shock and a broken heart. There was no family and little blue children in the future of my Shepard. 

Bioware hasn’t responded to the fans reaction as of this posting.

DLC OPTION?

Could a DLC fix this? Could the scene at the Citadel be all just a dream in Shepard’s head? Maybe. In ME2 Liara T’Soni, a pivotal character in many ways was relegated to a a few pages of dialogue and nothing more. Fans were initally put off by this since her role in ME2 is a lot bigger than what you imagined. Then Bioware made us all happy by releasing “The Lair of the Shadow Broker” which tied up that end which was more relationship in my opinion and not plot based.

But the post-game scenario, (when you finish the game and all) will return you to the bridge of the Normandy before you attacked the Illusive Man’s base. How can you insert the DLC “Ending” when plotwise, you haven’t ended it yet. It’s not like the Dragon Age DLC there you are either in camp or in your estate.

EPILOGUE

Closure is what fans were expecting from this game and sadly so was I. Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II endings were abrupt but enabled characters an epilogue on what happened afterward. It was easy to accept since you knew they had a sequel in development. Much like in “Return of the King” in The Lord of the RIngs trilogy, you knew what happened to all of the other charcters after they defeated Sauron. But in the case of ME3, you know that this was “supposed” to end the story. This has no comforting ending. We were hoping for a story that we could sleep soundly with. Apparently many are losing sleep over this.

QUESTIONS QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS

The game was understandable up until the conflict with the Illusive Man. Then everything went to the twilight zone.

  • Who is that kid on top of the Citadel?
  • Who made the Reapers?
  • Why were synthetics out to kill organics every 50,000 years?
  • How did your squad on Earth ended up at the Normandy running away from the blast when you were all together at the final charge to the Citadel?
  • Why did the kid show two choices? Why give you a choice at all? It seemed that he was still controlling everyone to the very end.
  • Who is that father and son in the snowy background after the credits? The tale of Shepard?

In the end, Bioware has only succeeded in creating more questions than answering those already here. Sure it tries to have the unconventional ending like the Matrix Revolutions but that doomed the franchise. 

DID BIOWARE REALLY HAVE AN ENDING IN MIND?

This is a short game. It can be completed under 30 hours without multiplayer. Did Bioware really know what they were doing with the game? As a filmmaker, the ending is uninspired. Though the scenes leading up to the end is very good. The fall of Thessia, the Quarians and the Geth, Fall of Earth, the hope that you bring across the galaxy, the personal conversations witj your crew are all well thought out of. The ending felt as if the wrtiers/ creators could not decide on how to end it. 

How would you explain the purpose of the universal extinction? Was the end an afterthought? “We’ll create this magnificent spcae opera and think about the ending when we get there.” 

HOW DO YOU FIX THIS?

If this game will be patched, this will be a very large patch. It would definitely cost Bioware a fair amount of money since they would have to do all new voice acting and animation. Only time will tell if Bioware will stick to their ending or give in to player’s demands. But as of now, I will be nursing a broken heart. Not only did my Shepard not survive. But there’s no one else around me that matters.

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