So Mass Effect 3 came out on March 6th, and by now most people who were going to play the game have already done so. But I’m going to just go ahead and preface this with GIANT FUCKING SPOILER TAGS! DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN’T BEAT THE GAME!
So here’s the thing. Right now people seem split into two groups. There’s the people who hated the ending so much that they feel BioWare has, with malicious intent, hurt them. Then there’s those of us who felt the ending was fine, or liked it, or just don’t understand what the fuss is about. A very vocal group of gamers has decided to form the “Retake Mass Effect” movement, and are demanding that BioWare change/add on to the ending to the trilogy. BioWare has already announced that they’ll be releasing DLC in short order that will clarify the ending, and clear up any confusion or misconceptions. Apparently, however, this announcement wasn’t enough for these so-called fans.
They co-opted Child’s Play, the “gamer” charity that gives toys and video games to hospitals and sick children, and started a fundraising drive to bring awareness to how much they hated Mass Effect 3’s ending. They raised $80,000, a hell of a feat to be sure, but some of those who had donated believed they were actually paying to get a new ending made. They then proceeded to ask for their donations back. From a charity. Child’s Play was understandably uncomfortable with this, and Jerry Holkins (of Penny Arcade) responded by stating that Child’s Play should not call attention to another cause, it should be the cause. They shut down the fundraiser to avoid any bad publicity because a charity lives or dies by its reputation, and should not be dragged into politics or the anger of fanboys. A lot of people were outraged by this, and I have seen a lot of people saying that they are now boycotting Penny Arcade and will no longer donate to Child’s Play. Totally mature.
After this, they decided to raise over a thousand dollars to get custom cupcakes made to send to BioWare in protest. The cupcakes came in three colours (red, blue or green), but they all tasted the same. This was a not-so-subtle way to show their discontent with BioWare. 402 cupcakes were sent to the BioWare office in Edmonton, and BioWare took the messages that were attached to the cupcakes, and then gave the cupcakes to a local youth shelter. I imagine some kids are incredibly happy today, those were some damn nice cupcakes.
Unfortunately, many were also enraged by this move. Apparently the cupcakes were only meant for BioWare, and giving them to underprivileged children is the same as throwing them in the garbage to these people. Madness, I tell you. I don’t know about you, but if I were given a bunch of cupcakes in a back-handed sarcastic gesture, I wouldn’t eat the damn things either. But you know who would eat them? Those kids at the youth shelter.
So, wedge firmly planted between the two halves, with those of us on the outside left totally baffled by how events are unfolding. I don’t know how any of these “retakers” can’t see how entitled and bratty they’re making themselves sound and look. It may not be their intention, but their actions are what matter in the end, and it’s not a pretty picture they paint of themselves. Those who dare to voice support for BioWare or the game are immediately branded as corporate shills, biodrones, idiots, illiterate soap opera fans, not true fans of Mass Effect, Call of Duty fratbros, children, contrarian, hipster, casual gamer, etc. It’s incredibly tiresome, and all because they felt the last 5 minutes of the game weren’t up to their outlandish expectations. The ending objectively sucked to them, and any evidence to the contrary is a lie.
Except, here’s the thing: the entire third game is the end, people like to gloss over this. The choices you made throughout the series come to their conclusions during the entire game. Also, the endings in the other 2 games gave you 2 choices that didn’t ultimately matter.
In the first, you kill the council or you spare the council. You get some different flavour text, but the overall narrative is the same.
In the second game, you blow up the Collector base or you send out a radiation pulse and hand it over to Cerberus. The cut scene for that explosion is the same with different colours, and the sun behind The Illusive Man changes colour depending on your choice. Ultimately has no real bearing on the overall narrative.
In the third game, the galaxy builds a superweapon called the Crucible, and it’s power source is the Catalyst. The Catalyst turns out to be some kind of ancient being of light that created the Reapers to cull civilizations to keep them from destroying the entire galaxy through their own synthetic races and war. You’re given three choices:
A.) You take control of the Reapers and become the new Catalyst.
B.) You destroy the Reapers, but also all synthetic life. Your AI friends, the Geth, even your Commander Shepard who is part synthetic will die (although not technically, (s)he breathes at the end).
C.) Synthesis. This takes all current life and makes it all part synthetic, to achieve unity. To do this, your Commander Shepard sacrifices his or her life, and becomes a part of everything.
In all three endings, the overall result is the same. The Mass Relays send out waves of energy (color depending on your choice), thereby destroying themselves and leaving the entire galaxy’s fighting force in the Sol system, our system. It also cuts off the other council worlds from each other.
The only part of the ending that irked me was the Normandy scene. For no apparent reason, your ship and crew are flying away from the battle, they crash on an unknown planet, and then the credits roll.
There has been a lot of speculation about plot holes. Some say that it was ‘established’ in the Arrival DLC for ME2 that destroying a Mass Relay destroys the entire star system, therefore all life is wiped out. However, what was actually established was slamming an asteroid at high speeds into a Mass Relay destroys most of the surrounding star system. The energy pulse is not explained, although you can clearly see Earth is not destroyed so… yeah. Speculation.
Another popular “RAGE” point is your crew that was on the ground with you in London is miraculously on the Normandy at the end. Teleportation people are calling it. Now, granted, this was the part that bothered me so I understand the frustration, but BioWare has already stated that they’ll be releasing DLC to clarify the ending and clear up people’s confusion. So this should be a non-issue at this point.
Some more say that the “god child” (AKA Catalyst) has no relation to the Mass Effect lore, and that it was a completely nonsensical way to end the game. This isn’t entirely the case, though. I know it’s popular for these “Retake Mass Effect” people to call those of us that were fine with, or even liked, the ending non-fans, but there is plenty of room for the Catalyst within the Mass Effect lore. Like the article posted earlier today about the planet entry for Klencory, there are many strange and fascinating tidbits through out all three games that pointed toward strange mysteries, like Kumun Shol’s “light beings” and “machine devils.”
I was not upset with the ending because I knew my Shepard was going to die. Victory at any cost. And the cost was high, very high, but at the end I felt hopeful. Sure, everyone was stranded in the Sol system, but the entire galaxy’s best and brightest and most technologically advanced all in one place? I hardly think they’ll have a hard time figuring something out for survival and new ways of travel.
And in the end, we were playing Commander Shepard’s story. While we could personalize, to a limited and pre-scripted extent, our choices and experiences, the overall narrative was the same. Whether I saved the council, blew up the collector base, or romanced Garrus, in the end everyone fought the same war I did. You save the Citadel from Sovereign and Saren, you save human colonies from the Collectors, you save the entire galaxy by ending the Reaper threat.
Most people will argue vehemently that they don’t just want a happy ending, that that’s not what their movement is about. But then they’ll turn around and go, “But why can’t we have a happy ending?” It’s a silly argument.
Five minutes should not diminish the hundreds of hours of joy this game brought you. An ending to a video game should not spiral you into depression for weeks, and if it does, you need to seek professional help immediately. That is not healthy. And guess what, those developers, artists, composers, writers, and myriad other people that worked on this series? Yeah, those are real people who put everything they had into making this franchise. Real people with real feelings. So before you run off to rage at them for what you feel is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, maybe you should sit down and reflect on what’s actually important in life. Reassess your priorities and get some perspective. This entire situation is childish to the extreme.
Mass Effect 3 was a great game, one that left me in tears several times. The entire journey was solid and worth every penny.