Friday, 16 March 2012

Mass Effect 3 Ending Rage "Spoilers"

Everyone that knows me well enough knows that I am such a Mass Effect fan girl. I’m always going on and on about how amazing the games are and how great the story is, like some kind of school girl gushing about her crush. As soon as I started playing the first Mass Effect, I realised that this was going to be a series I would fall in love with. I enjoyed every aspect of the game, from its rich and detailed storyline to its believing and wonderfully crafted characters. The combat of the first game was a little ropey, but that was soon fixed by the fantastic sequel, which added more depth and a more tactical approach to its gameplay. Even after the first few hours of playing, I was completely hooked.

So, what is it about the series that I like the most? What makes the game something so extraordinary that I would go as far as to make Mass Effect one of my favourite game series of all time? It’s down the fact that you make the Mass Effect Universe your own. Through the character of Commander Shepard, you can shape the protagonist into exactly what you want and the choices you make effect the entire world around you. You control the events of the story, the relationships with the characters, even the type of hero you want Shepard to be. Having that amount of control over the course of three games is astonishing. The choices you make in the first game have implications and ramifications in the second. But it’s not only that – it’s such an emotional story. The nature of the game forces you to make sacrifices. Do you save somebody because you care about that character, or do you sacrifice them in order to save a civilization that you know will help you with the inevitable war? It a definite heavy hitter emotionally and that’s one reason why I believe it’s such a good game. It makes you care about the characters and it makes you care about the consequences. Not only do I want to save the whole universe, but I also want to make those sacrifices count. I want revenge on the Reapers for making me leave a squad member behind. I want to make the deaths of those characters during the Collector mission mean something. I didn’t want it all to be in vain.

So why am I hating on Mass Effect 3?

As soon as I heard the faintest slither of news about Mass Effect 3, I was excited (understatement) I was already counting down for it's release when Bioware was still trying to schedule in Martin Sheen to do his voice over sessions. I mean, I had my Collectors edition pre ordered in July. So yes, as you could probably tell, I was eagerly awaiting the finale of my favourite game series.

So when I got my hands on it, I was more than ready to rip into it and get it played. Everything about that game was perfect - just what I'd been hoping for. The story hits you hard and makes you care. This isn’t just about aliens anymore – it’s about Earth. You can only watch in amazement as the whole world is changed in a matter of moments. Its bloody good stuff. And it just gets better as the game progresses. You build your forces to try and take on such a colossal threat and you honestly don’t know how you’re going to pull this off. The sheer scale is overwhelming. I honestly loved every second of knowing that I was going to have to do something seriously awesome to beat back this seemingly invincible army. My Shepard fought off Reaper soldiers like a man possessed, using some serious fire-power through some extraordinary cutscenes and set pieces. I honestly thought it was the best game in the series so far. Everything up until the last five minutes of the game was amazing....

....and then the ending sequence started. Everything I loved about the game and the series was crushed in a few minutes. I could only watch in horror as I was forced to play through the most disappointing ending I have ever, ever experienced. All my favourite moments from the game were instantly forgotten, replaced by sheer horror as I realised nothing I did in the past games even mattered at all. The many games I’d played, prepping multiple endings and picking different choices all in preparation for this one moment....well, I’d just wasted my time.

What’s so bad about it? Well, the actual idea behind the whole Reaper invasion makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You’re introduced to a random character at the last minute (dubbed as StarChild.'s a kid), with no explanation as to who or what it is. Then you’re told the reasoning behind the whole thing: “Organics and synthetics will always fight one another. So to stop this from happening, we’ll send an army of synthetics to wipe out all organic life every 50,000 years. That way, we can save them by turning them into a Reaper and they can join in next time!” Erm...what?

Then you're presented with a choice. You can either:

  • Choose to wipe out all synthetic life (including the Reapers and one of the races you might be friends with). However, the organics will create a new form of synthetics that will eventually turn to war against them (apparently). However this will kill you in the process because you’re partially synthetic.

  • You can harness and control the Reapers. This will also kill you in the process.

  • You can fuse yourself with the magic beam and combine all synthetic and organic life, creating peace. However, (you guessed it) this also kills you in the process.

By this point I was so horrified, I chose to just kill everything as a big SCREW YOU!

The worst part is that no matter which option you decide to take, the ending cutscene is actually the same. The only difference you get between the three of them, is that the explosion is a different colour. So, for all the hours I put into the series, all the love and care, all the difficult choices I made, all I got from it was a red explosion. Wooo....what a reward.

What annoys me the most about the ending is the fact that all the choices you’ve made through the entire series, all the relationships you’s all for nothing. None of it even has an impact. So, you’re telling me I played through those games, making me consider those serious and emotional decisions for absolutely no reason? Is there actually any reason for me to even play the first two games?

It feels like Bioware decided to try and make something arty, something that would be debated. Instead it makes no sense. It’s like the ending of the 3rd Matrix film....And there are so many plot holes that just appear in the last five just ruins everything that was so carefully and lovingly constructed in the first two games and even during most of the third one.

I mean, I’m all for Shepard dying at the end, but I wanted that to be my choice. That’s the core reason why the ending is so frustrating to me - I have no choice in the matter. For a game that’s all for giving you options and shaping your universe, the lack of this in the ending is what ultimately ruins it. So much so, that when I imported my next Shepard to begin the end to her story, I actually switched it off after half an hour deciding that I didn't actually care. It’s not like my choices mattered anyway.

All in all, Mass Effect 3 is a truly awesome game. It really is. (I'll go more into these at another time) And Bioware really did manage to make it unforgettable...but not in the way they intended. Which is a shame, because this ending is how the series will be remembered, not for it great storytelling, gameplay or characters. So, I think I can safely say that despite ME3 being an incredible game, Mass Effect 2 keeps hold of its title of being one of my favourite games ever.

Rant over.

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