Mass Effect 3. This is how the world ends?

Mass Effect 3 The Citadel

Go no further if you haven’t played the previous Mass Effect games or if you are currently planning to play Mass Effect 3 and don’t want to read spoilers.

I’m just going to cut right to the chase on this one. No use easing into things, or trying to soften the blow. Mass Effect 3 was a game that was 90% great and 10% terrible. Ordinarily that would be OK except, the 10% that was terrible in this case happened to be the most important part of the game – the ending.

This isn’t intended to be a full review of the game or the series. I played all three games, and the first two in the trilogy multiple times. I’ve also read some of the Mass Effect novels, so its a story that I was pretty invested in. Lots of expectations for how Bioware intended to wrap up the entire trilogy.

Man, was I disappointed.

First I will give major kudos to the Bioware team on the technology in the game. Both the graphics, sound and the addition of the voice controls via Kinect made for a great gameplay experience. I’ll have a very hard time playing another game on the XBOX 360 that doesn’t incorporate Kinect somehow into the control scheme. It wasn’t perfect, and sometimes I had to repeat myself multiple times (sniper rifle…. WARP WARP WARP) but so much fancier than messing with the squad control wheel.

Where the game failed in my opinion (and this has been stated on probably a thousand web sites already) was in the story’s final moments.

The ending of Mass Effect 3

All roads lead to disappointment

 

Yes, I was bummed that all roads basically took me to the same destination. Although I had played as a paragon most of the time, I was forced with a decision to basically let everyone die and destroy the mass effect relays, effectively severing the connection I had painstakingly established over a period of 40 hours in the game to bring all the races together for their confrontation with the reapers.

But not only was I doing that, I was also forced to choose between dying in two different ways. I could either die to take control of the reapers myself in hopes of forcing them to abandon their siege of Earth, with the possibility that in the future they could return to harvest humans again. Or, I could die by destroying the reapers with the probability that sometime in the future organic life would again create synthetics which would invariably rise up against their masters, thus starting the cycle of destruction over, again.

Talk about two shitty choices.

Obviously the game had to end in some fashion. And, not every story ends well. But at the end of literally a 150 hour ordeal (adding up the time it took me to complete all three games) you’d think Bioware might let me and my friends live. In my game, no one survived – I think that qualified me for the dubious honor of “worse ending possible.” In some other players endings, posted on YouTube, there are a couple of survivors.

Here is what I think should have happened instead.

Shepherd bridges the gap, settles old feuds with warring races and gathers together a united Alliance army to face the reapers. After a harrowing fight, in which some but not all of your crew die, you emerge victorious. The work to rebuild the planets ravaged by the reaper invasion begins and there is an era of peace. However, lurking on the outer fringes of the universe new threats are assembling. The illusive man, who escapes the citadel before the crucible is assembled, regroups.

I mean, anything short of everyone dies, and those who do remain are sent back to the stone age, would have sufficed to.

Now it seems like Bioware is going to create a new ending, or at least patch in some better explanation of what happened. I don’t really agree with this. They had their chance at writing an ending to what otherwise was an immaculately told space opera. They blew it. I definitely am not going to replay the whole thing to find out what might have been.

The game met so many of my expectations, but let me down on the landing.