Home | On Mass Effect 3’s Ending (!Spoiler Alert!)

On Mass Effect 3’s Ending (!Spoiler Alert!)

Posted by: Cooper | Filed Under Weekly Articles | No comments 
Apr 12

I will take this chance to show my personal stance on Mass Effect 3’s ending. Keep in mind that this post is kind of long, and if you want a basic summary of my thoughts, you should head to the last few paragraphs.

Take note that the following post may contain huge spoilers for ME3. If you haven’t beaten the game yet, your best bet would to be to come back later when you have.

Everyone (including myself) is upset about the ending to Mass Effect 3. Let’s get one thing out of the way first, though. I love Mass Effect, and I love Mass Effect 3. The game is incredible in every way it could be. The entire trilogy has a special place in my heart and is one of my favorite trilogies of all time. That is why I feel so blatantly forgotten about when it comes to the ending. Rather than completely wrap up all of the questions in the trilogy and leave me with a fulfilled feeling (much like Gears of War 3), Bioware went with the “leave ’em hanging!” approach.

The biggest question gamers have for Bioware is: why? Why not completely satisfy years of gameplay across three games with an ending that leaves a completed feeling? With this question, gamers and the internets grew frustrated and started a war against Bioware.

(If you don’t want to read about my ending, skip the next 7 paragraphs…)

Let me start with my own personal experience with the ending. When you bum-rush the teleporter to the Citadel, I was surprised when the reaper beam struck Shepard. Even more surprised when Shepard then woke up to find everyone around him dead. Why did Shepard survive? I wondered. Is Shepard some type of superhuman that kept him alive? Oh well, I trekked onward towards the beam. After getting onto the Citadel, I was even more confused. Why are the keepers still alive and nobody else? Did the reapers keep the to help control the Citadel? Are they indoctrinated or working with the reapers? Are the keepers actually synthetics?

Once again I wandered on. Eventually I heard Anderson’s voice. Is Anderson superhuman too? If so, then why didn’t I see him go into the beam? Anderson is wondering where I am, but he continues to travel forward as well. Eventually I get to a great opening, I can hear Anderson as he says he has reached a panel of some sort. When I walked up to the platform, seeing Anderson for the first time since the start of the last push, I was confused yet again. Why is their only one pathway leading the the platform? How did Anderson get there then? Was he in front of me the whole time? How did he not see my body?

The next scene with the Illusive Man only makes the confusion worse. How in the world did the illusive man get there? Was he hiding out the entire time? Some how, I was seriously starting to doubt where everything was going. But only if I knew how worse it was going to get. When you see the Illusive Man it is obvious that the reapers have taken hold of his mind. Eventually (I don’t wanna go through the dialog line-by-line) the Illusive Man shoots me and makes me shoot and kill Anderson, and then I kill the Illusive man. After all of the bloodshed, Admiral Hackett magically comes into existence again. He tells me I need to activate the panel that Anderson was trying to activate. But before Shepard could reach the panel, he passes out (most likely from blood-loss. The Illusive Man talks a lot…). This is where the final mission goes from confusing to downright hokey…

A lift takes Shepards unconscious body to the outside hull of the ship. Apparently superhuman Shepard can now breath outside of atmosphere. Then the kid seen throughout the game appears once again as an apparition. The child labels himself as the catalyst, and he is there to help Shepard decide the fate of the galaxy. He gives Shepard three ultimate choices. He can either kill the reapers, ensuring victory, but another dominant synthetic species may rise from the ashes. He can take control of the reapers, forcing them to stay out of the way of the organics, or he can combine organics and synthetics, ensure that the cycles would never happen again.

The child then goes on to tell Commander Shepard that no matter what choice he makes, the mass relays will be destroyed (I will get back to that). As soon as I finally took control of Shepard, I was dumbfounded. Why does the Illusive  Man, the man who has been evil for the entire game, end up being the good guy? Why does Anderson, a good character from the beginning of the trilogy, end up being the renegade choice? I decided that even though it goes against my strongest morals, the reason for this sudden change is because controlling the reapers would show mercy, where as killing them would be reckless and resemble vengeance. I didn’t even consider the middle ending. I saw it as Bioware’s way of giving a “neutral” choice. After thinking for an unbelievable amount of time, I decided to stay with my Shepard’s consistent paragon personality and go with the “good” choice.

With either the “good” or middle choice, Shepard dies. With the “bad” choice, Shepard wakes up after a cutscene is shown. The way Bioware handled Shepard’s death was probably the best part of the ending. I was nearly in tears as the game showed me all of Shepards closest friends over the years. As he slowly disintegrated, I actually felt like I was losing a friend, or watching someone I had grown to know and love just drift away. The score that played during this moment definitely sent it home, and I still listen to it every now and then. This touching moment doesn’t last long though, and it isn’t long at all before you are shown even more confusing scenes.

The Mass Relays start to explode as told by the catalyst. When they exploded, they created black holes, which is what the Normandy eventually gets caught in. The battle on Earth stops though, and the Normandy crash lands on an unknown planet. Some of my crew comes out of the ship (After a little research, I believe it is the crew members you talked to the most, so for me it was Garrus, Liara, and Javik). After the credits roll, a boy talks to his grandfather and the speak of Commander Shepard as “The Shepard” and apparently the grandpa has one more story to tell.

This would be one heck of a cliffhanger if I wasn’t so confused as to what just happened.

(Continue here)

If you played the Arrival DLC in Mass Effect 2, you may recall the fact that when a Mass Relay is destroyed, the force is so great that it destroys the galaxy it is contained in. So one of three things happened:

– Bioware either forgot about Arrival or didn’t care about it and made the explosions not as lethal.

– The Crucible made the Mass Relays explode in a different way from the asteroid throw in Arrival.

– Everyone except for the Normandy crew is dead.

The first two could be cop-outs that Bioware may use, but the last one just doesn’t fit. Does that mean that the boy and the grandpa at the end are products of centuries of inbreeding? Its something to certainly think about. And even if the Mass Relays exploded in a different non violent way, every advanced species is stuck in the sol system, with very limited resources. How will the universe rebuilt? can it? without the Mass Relays, it will take hundreds of years to get anywhere, thousands for most species to just get home. We can’t expect everyone to live on earth.

Next question is, why was the catalyst the little boy? and why were the renegade and paragon options flip-flopped? This is where the internet is going the craziest.

The most popular theory is the “Indoctrination Theory.” This theory states that when Shepard is knocked out after getting hit by the reaper beam, he actually starts hallucinating the events afterward. The idea is that Shepard has been exposed to the reapers longer than anyone in the universe at this point, and getting knocked out like this might have been their first chance to finally get into Shepard’s head and indoctrinate him. The reason this theory is so popular is because it makes sense. The reapers would reach into Shepards psyche to find the boy and use him to lower Shepard’s guard. Then the reapers will confuse Shepard into thinking that saving them is the good choice, and killing them is bad. Theorists say that the player can stop the reapers attempts to indoctrinate them by killing the reapers and living to fight them off one last time.

When I first heard this theory, I fell in love with it. What’s not to love? it explains almost everything, and even explains why Shepard wakes up back on Earth after taking the “renegade” option. Also, it has probable cause, considering the “paragon” and middle choice kills Shepard. The reapers want their only remaining threat out of the way. Convincing Shepard to out himself is probably a last resort and shows how desperate the reapers are. All of this sounds good. The only problem people don’t take into account is what will happen after Shepard wakes up.

This is my only real problem with the theory. Shepard wakes up, and then what? fights off Harbinger with his bare hands? Another nuke launcher (The big missiles didn’t even work!)? So what is Shepard supposed to do? The general gamer population has pretty much left that up to Bioware.

Sure, Bioware could take the indoctrination theory to heart, and either say that that was their idea all along or that the gamers were right. Knowing Bioware and their devotion to their fans, I would expect the latter.

The next question is, did Bioware mean for this to happen? Surely they couldn’t look at the ending they had and think that was enough. Maybe this is what they wanted to happen, for the gamers to fill in the blanks themselves. If you think about it, it actually makes the ending more personal if you imagine yourself what happened in all of the plot holes. But, once again, that is just the easy way out for Bioware. I don’t blame them though. Bioware is a developer who has always put the fans first. No, I blame EA. EA has been pushing all of its developers to include as much DLC as they can. Who knows, maybe they forced Bioware to have an incomplete ending so they could profit from it later. This either was not the case, or has been resolved since, though, because all of Bioware’s announced upcoming DLC is going to be free.

Including the “Extended Cut” DLC getting released sometime this summer. This DLC is promised to explain and elaborate things in the ending. The gamers got what they wanted (at least lets hope so) and all is calm in teh internets now.

So what do I think? Personally, I think Bioware is making the right move. The video game industry needs to stop drawing parallels between itself and other industries. Some argues that authors would never change or alter an ending to a book just because the readers didn’t like it. They also argues that television and movie directors don’t change their endings due to public outcry (I’m looking at you, Sopranos!). So, they say, video games shouldn’t either. Video games are different from books, movies, and television shows. Video games can be updated with patches and enhanced with DLC. That is why an ending change is possible. The industry has grown to the point that it can start being its own. It can stop comparing itself to movies and other media forms. That is why I think that Bioware is taking the right path by following what the fans want. After all, if it were my game, I would want to make the fans happy at any cost.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you strongly disagree? Leave a rating of this post and tell me about it in the comments below!

– Cooper

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