My Thoughts on Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 is a video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts.  It was released 6 March 2012.  So, yes, this is something I probably should have written back in March of 2012 and not have waited until November 2013 to give my review on the ending of game I wanted to play as much as I wanted to see Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith.  I even reserved my copy at Gamestop a year before it was released.  At the time, it had a Fall 2011 release date then it got moved to 1st quarter of 2012 then the actual 6 March 2012.   Summer of 2011, they announced the Collector’s Edition, so I paid the extra $20 and got the version instead.  I have never been as excited for a game as I was for Mass Effect 3.

I made sure I knew enough about the game without spoiling any of the story.  I’m a fan fiction writer and I have written over two dozen stories set in the Mass Effect universe. [link]  I did a lot of speculating about how the war with the Reapers would play out and some I hit on and some I didn’t.  The last thing I wanted was to know what was in the story.  I knew about certain characters returning.  I was okay with knowing that, but I at the same time, I wasn’t surprised they were returning.  Some of the squadmates from the first game didn’t join the fight in the second game.  The way BioWare create this trilogy is amazing.  Choice matters.  Do I pull a doucher move and punch this reporter chick in the face?  Even as a male Shepard?  Or do I walk away without answering her questions?

I was set, ready to play once I got my hands on the game at the midnight release.  I had been keeping an eye on Twitter because the Mass Effect team had started tweeting about the Reaper invasion, bringing the story of the game to Twitter.  They didn’t spoil anything in the game, they added to the story.  Which I loved.  I applaud them for doing that.  At 11pm EST, I did read a tweet that shocked me and I mentioned to those I was standing around waiting for Midnight what was tweeted.  My favorite reporter had just died.  Why couldn’t it be the one I always punch in the face?  Oh, because I get to punch her in the face for a third time.  That works too.  I was sadden by the lost of Emily Wong, the reporter Shepard helped in the first game.

I knew about the reporter, Diana Allers.  Before the game, I was dead set against letting her on board the Normandy.  I didn’t want to be like General Custer, having a reporter with you all the time.  But once I found out how things were going to work, having her on the ship is a plus.  Allers wasn’t as annoying as I thought, but still rather not have a reporter on the ship.  Some of my playthroughs, she’s not on the ship.  I had 10 different Shepard ready for import.  Five male, five female.  Every Shepard is different some how.  I played the game every way possible, I think.  I still think I might have missed something some where.  I found something new just last week during a PC run.

I get home and start playing by 1am.  I played until the sun came up, went to bed, got up and played all day and all day on Wednesday.  My plan was to import my first run of Mass Effect 2.  It was an import with zero DLC from Mass Effect 2 completed.  It was a rental at the time and the Cerberus Network code wasn’t available to those who rent.  Keep the game, they send you to box and the contents in the box.  Which I did a few weeks later. My plan was to slowly import all my different Shepard(s).  I had conflicts with different love interest.  Some people died because I made a bad choice in Mass Effect 2.  Some died because I had to choose between two people(Mass Effect).

As a fan fiction writer there were a few things I really wanted to know.  What is Dr. Chakwas first name was tops of my list of things I was hoping to get answers to.  Getting more background on characters makes it easier for me to write them into my stories.  Is the things I heard were going to be addressed in the game actually going to be in the game?  Yes, I was very happy when I learned Dr. Chakwas first name is Karin.  I never laughed so hard as I did when Liara finally meets with her father and listen to that conversation.  Pure gold.

There were decisions in the game that were gut wrenching to make.  Some of the renegade moves cut me to the core.  How did I just do that?  What was I thinking?  That happened more than once during my first renegade Shepard.  That was a very rough run.  Shooting people in the back, allowing someone to take their own life in front of you.  Yea, rough stuff.  The game was emotional rollercoaster.  I laughed, I got mad at what was going on, and at the end, I cried.  The ending to this day still brings tears to my eyes.  Seeing that Shepard died had me crying so hard, I couldn’t play anymore that night.  I even tried to play the multi-player but my mind wasn’t into it.  I had to take the rest of the night off.

Even knowing in my stories my canon Shepard lives a long and happy life with Dr. T’Soni.  Knowing you can head-canon Shepard living if your war readiness is high enough does not stop the tears.  The music is very moving at times and sets the tone for the end game scenes.  I found the ending to be very fitting to the arc of the story.  BioWare stated this was the end of Shepard’s story before the game launched.  Seeing the choices with Shepard possibly living in only one of them.  Yea, it’s the end of Shepard story.  I am perfectly fine with that.  I was fine with the ending.  I questioned a few things.

I had many chats with a Xbox buddy about the ending.  Many, many chats.  Then BioWare announces the extended cut to placate the nerd rage about the ending.  Again, they stated they were not changing the ending.  The fans reaction to the games ending and how BioWare handled it makes me question why a company would want so much input from fans.  The extended cut and the Leviathan DLC added much to the back story.  But it wasn’t something me and my Xbox buddy hadn’t already thought of.  Everything in the extended cut, I thought would happen.  

People were freaking out about the destruction of the Mass Relays.  What?  They can’t be rebuilt?  I wonder if people sat and thought about things before they started freaking out?  It’s wouldn’t be the first time in human history for things to be lost during a war and rediscovered a few decade/centuries later.  Knee jerk reactions help no one.  There was a lot of that going on with the ending.  The rage at BioWare Social Network caused me to stop posting there.  There are sections of that forum I refuse to click on because I don’t want to read what people are posting.  It’s been almost two years and people still bitch about the ending.  Get over it already.  It wasn’t that bad.

I hated hearing how our choices didn’t matter.  Actually, yes they did.  Just not in the manner you thought.  They turned everything into a numbers game.  And if you had an import with 100% done in the other two games, it was easy to have a high enough war readiness number to make it seem like your choices didn’t matter.  But I ask this.  What does curing the genophage have to do with a choice at the end?  I wonder how many players who ranted about the ending knows there are actually 6 different cut scene ending to the game and none of them deal with the three choices at the end, but are attached to the war readiness number.  There are ranges to them.  The lower the number the worst things are.  I destroyed the Reapers and everyone else.  No one got off the Normandy.  The two squadmates who were with me died during the trench run added content.  Choices matter, just not how most thought it would.

I think the biggest problem with the war readiness number and how that was configured by adding the multi-player as part of it.  As much as I think the way they added multi-player to a single-player game was a good one, but looking back on it, I’m not so sure it was a good idea after all.  Some one can promote enough classes from the multi-player to never ever have to worry about their war readiness number at the end of the game.  Hell, all the added single-player content did that too.  If you bought it.  This after they lowered the number when they released the extended cut.

After all these months and after taking a lengthy break from Mass Effect, I have can still find things I’ve not seen before.  Which is cool as hell.  I still don’t get all the hate about the ending.  I wonder about the indoctrination theory crowd.  As soon as I started hearing about that, I started laughing.  Then when I read more of the arguments, I stopped trying to figure these people out.  I could go on and on about it, but I won’t.  No way does that theory work in my view.  I’d go with everything was a dream before I go with the indoctrination crowd.

At times, I do think the writers left the ending and what happened to Shepard for the player to decide.  Is that last gasp from Shepard on the pile a rubble, Shepard’s last breath or coming to from being knocked out from the explosion?  I know what happens with my Shepard.




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