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Finished saving the galaxy - Tactical Ninja

Mar. 29th, 2013

11:51 am - Finished saving the galaxy

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I know the ending for Mass Effect 3 was controversial, and that a significant number of people went WUT, and that folks were sufficiently upset that an extended ending was written to try and mollify those people. I was advised to download the extended ending before playing. I kind of wish I hadn't.

After it ended I went and had a look to find out what happened differently before the extension was added, and I think I would have preferred that.


I actually would have preferred the game finished just as the energy from the Crucible caught up with the Normandy - in fact, I reckon the best place to end it would have been at the spot that leaves you wondering if the Normandy outran it, so you could never be sure whether your squad were affected by whatever decision you made.

I chose synthesis, because transhumanism is an interest of mine and because my Shepard was so bloody virtuous she made me a bit ill sometimes, and that was the way with the most peaceful future. And everything that happened after the energy wave was just Disney-type mush in my opinion. Krogan babies and folks holding hands and reapers helping rebuild the world, blech. I didn't need to see that. I liked that it built to this epic finale and that at the end it came down to one decision by an individual to decide the future of the galaxy, and everything after that climax just seemed flat to me.

Dr Wheel says that he was disappointed that no matter what decision you made, the only change in the ending was the colour of the energy wave and I can kind of see that, but for me, the three Mass Effect games were about the journey, trite as that might sound. The decisions I made did make a difference - to my experience of the god knows how many hours of gameplay there were before the final half hour. And it's so like real life that the decisions you make affect your now, but often the big decisions are a matter of choosing between a couple of arbitrary options that you didn't bring on yourself but which will dramatically change the future. And for Shepard, sacrificing herself to save the galaxy is to me, the ultimate in ways such an epic saga could end.

I've tried to think of other ways they could have finished it and I can't. If it'd been a final boss fight and then yay we won and that's that, I would have felt ripped off. There was too much buildup, too much emotional involvement, too much loss, and too much at stake in-game for it to have been a happy, neatly-tied-up ending - and I think that's why the cutscenes of the extension fell flat for me.

Let her dive into the beam, let it release its energy, and let us never know what happened to the Normandy and its crew. That would have satisfied me.

That's one of the reasons I liked the ending to Dragon Age 2 so much as well - [there is a sense of] inevitability as you realise that regardless of your actions, some life-changing events are out of your control and sometimes the consequences are the same no matter what you do, and then you don't really find out what happened to your people afterwards. It leaves something hanging, something that keeps you thinking about it after it's over.

I like that.


Obviously I'm in the minority, for both these games, in liking the way they chose to end them. And I'm concerned that because of that, Bioware will stop writing these types of endings and we'll go back to the 'kill the boss, everyone lives happily ever after' style endings that make games into Disney movies and for me, ultimately forgettable.

I hope not.

Current Mood: tired

Comments:

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From:laoke
Date:March 29th, 2013 05:47 am (UTC)
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This is my reaction, copied from a post I made about a year back. And I still think it speaks for me.

"The problem I have, and I think it's not unrealistic, is that the endings are uniformly, well, taking away the element of choice not just from you but from the characters you've invested so much in (over a hundred hours of gameplay on my part, thanks to my inability to not walk through the entire damn ship after a mission).

I'm being asked to Destroy / Enslave / Meld with Artificial Life (Reapers, Geth, EDI, hell Avinia for all we know) for a reason that I have demonstrated in the game is simply not true not just once, but multiple times. Hell, in the philosophical discussions throughout the game I tended to come down on the side of 'Life is life - it doesn't matter if it's organic or synthetic!'. To suddenly be told that no, I'm wrong, without actually showing why makes me instinctively go 'Actually, I'm not sure that's right.'

And for someone with the power to create the Reapers - why do it? For a fraction of the resources, you could take the artificial life and send them on a trip to another galaxy. Or design a Virtual Universe for them to explore. Why mush the organic life up into a fine paste and create murder-machines? It. Makes. No. Sense.

Basically what it comes down to is this. God in the ME3 universe is a sadistic machine that creates life just to tear it down again for entertainment. It's a little boy with a magnifying glass focused on the Milky Way. And it's very hard to accept that the story I've been so invested in, that does so much right, falls at the final hurdle into a cream pie made of liquid manure and flesh-eating acid. Because being told that I'm doing this all for the entertainment of the Catalyst just has me table-flipping the fuck out.

Lets take the obvious parallel. Babylon 5 is probably the science fiction work that resonates the most with this. How would have that ended had the Shadows and the Vorlons said 'OK, we're not leaving. We're forcing everyone to either enslave us, kill us, or meld with us.'

It's taking away one of the central pillars of that mythology. The concept that the old must stand aside and let the new grow and make it's own mistakes. And it's not even replacing it with something neat like a Lovecraftian ending (which would have, for the record, rocked hard).

I'm getting overly annoyed by this now, but I can't think of a single example of a work of fiction that so badly flubs the dismount. It's a masterpiece. A wondrous piece of interactive fiction. An evocative, driving, emotional tour de force. And frankly, I'm basically saying to myself 'I died in the assault on the Magic Stairway To Heaven™ and everything past that point is an oxygen deprived, cybernetically enhanced mind creating a Virtual Reality to sustain itself to the point where brain death is inevitable.'

That's right. I'm pulling the 'It was all a Dream' card to make the ending better, and it fucking works. That's how weak the 'canon' ending is."
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From:tatjna
Date:March 29th, 2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
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I disagree. I knew throughout the whole game that the aim was to save the galaxy - that this would be the final outcome one way or another. The only thing in question was the how, and I approached the ending under the assumption that it'd be by destroying the Reapers.

It was the fact that I'd proven the Catalyst's assumption about synthetic and organic life wrong that caused it to provide a bunch of other choices. This was the first cycle where it hadn't turned out exactly as the Catalyst assumed it would, and thus more options were open. And frankly, if straight-up destroying the Reapers was one of them, it wouldn't have been a hard decision to make, you know? It's what I came for initially. To then have other choices changed things.

Each of the offered choices came with a sacrifice - so to destroy the Reapers you had to destroy other synthetic life too, because that's what the Crucible had been made to do by those who didn't know any better at the time.

I found this provided more possibilities than I expected, and made the ending better than if I'd just turned the bloody thing on, zapped the bugs, back to business as usual.

But as I mentioned, I suspect I'm in the minority there.

Edited at 2013-03-29 08:16 pm (UTC)
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From:laoke
Date:March 31st, 2013 09:52 am (UTC)
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I agree that me destroying the Reapers would have been an even worse ending. I mean, I'd be perfectly happy with a dark ending. Hell, I'd love something Lovecraftian, where the Reapers are, in fact, doing it to 'protect' organic life from something terrifying. And that by stopping them you're unleashing consequences beyond anything you could possibly imagine. Maybe a race exists outside the galaxy that's attracted by a certain level of technology, that the crutch of the Mass Relays prevents from occuring too soon. And that race will use the souls of organic life as fuel for their journeys between galaxies.

But the lack of closure is what I keep coming back to time and time again. To put it another way: what would have happened in The Lord of the Rings if something like this had been the ending? Basically we'd hit the climax of the story, the ring would be destroyed, and the story would end right there
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From:tatjna
Date:March 31st, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. I was one of the people who thought all the tying up of loose ends and closure in LoTR was annoying pap, and I would have preferred to end it with the destruction of the ring. That's where it ends in my head. ;-)

Likewise in DA2, the final clash with Meredith felt like an afterthought, as if I were just going through the motions for the sake of closure, and that the important stuff was already finished by that time.

So I think that's probably why I preferred the original ending for ME3 - it's a personal thing for me that closure for the sake of closure feels fake and doesn't really work in my head.

I do like your suggested alt ending though. Fun times! ;-)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:March 29th, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC)
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I'd be curious what the extended ending actually added.

There was still a lot of fluff at the end of the original. It was about what happened to some of the Normandy crew. But like the colour of the blast wave, it was almost the same cutscene, and the only difference your actions made was who exactly survived. It was like they just swapped character models. No dialogue either.

The overarching ending of the story I could handle, but it was just feeling ripped off that the ending sequence was essentially the same, no matter what you did... so why even make the player make the choice?

Of course, I didn't know this when I played it. So it was retrospective disappointment.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:March 29th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
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From what people say, it sounds like the extended cut adds lots of filler and attempts to clear up plot holes. So finding out about what happened to the Normandy was always part of it.

From the youtube clips, they certainly seem more complete, and it's nice that they added a 4th choice about how to end it :-)
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