Hello "HELO", this is meant simply as a friendly response in debating your ideas brought up in your post regarding Leviathan and its impact via ME3. I must stress again this is completely friendly, polite and mature discussion, not a retort or argument or name-calling. I just would like to point out some different ideas, see what you have to say and others input, etc. I really liked your blog regarding Leviathan, I found it very interesting and with some good points. However as you will read further, I have some differing views when it comes to certain aspects of your review. Again, before you read, I am 100% not trying to be offensive in any way, shape, or form. Sometimes people can take things the wrong way online, especially since we type and read and there is no tone of voice to set the mood of how the words are meant to come out. Alright then, hope I cleared that up.
I disagree about your feelings regarding the Crucible. Sure, it is the exact definition of a Deus Ex Machina if there ever was one. I remember after playing ME and ME2 I wondered and wondered how the galaxy would be able to defeat the Reapers considering beating Sovereign was nigh-impossible if he hadn't took direct control of Saren. I had so many conversations with friends about how a conceivable way to defeat the Reapers would be developed or what it could even be. We all had the idea that Haestroms star Dholen had something to do with it possibly but it always left me with a huge expection of "I can't wait to be suprised and find out!" how they would defeat the Reapers, surely it'd be so clever and ingenius, not to mention badass. Those hopes came crashing down when I read an article about ME3 before its release by Game Informer, Official Xbox Magazine or some other publication and it talked about the demo there writers saw in which Shepherd goes to Mars to find the Prothean archives to retrieve plans for a Prothean Anti-Reaper super-weapon. Instantly my hopes for the all clever bad-ass tactic of defeating the Reapers was gone and replaced by Donnie Darko muttering "deus ex machina" under that bully's foothold on his throat.
As disappointed as I was, when I played the game I could still accept and conceive that such a blueprint would be a possibility in the ME3 universe, considering the Reapers are over 35 Million years old (the derelict reaper) and come every 50,000 years makes at least 700 cycles of harvesting and galactic civilizations gone extinct. Surely some would place warning as the Protheans did. Surely some would find or devise a way to beat them or use their tech against them. And with Shepherds Prothean cipher and info on the Collectors its no wonder that so much new information regarding the Protheans came about during the two years since Sovereigns defeat. So the Crucible as a concept no matter how unoriginal and disappointing is still on my behalf considered acceptable for the canon and its realm of possibility and believability (yeah I know that's not an actual word).
Now to say that the Crucibles origins as an earlier cycles design, another species and person ideas somehow takes away the novelty of Shepherd wielding it against the Reapers is flawed. Shepherd never created assault rifles or mass accelerators. He didn't build the Normandy or the Thanix Cannons. He didn't build the Destiny Ascension or the Alliance Dreadnoughts and Frigates. It is the same with the Crucible. Anybody can come up with ideas. But it is an individuals will to use them, strength to succeed and morality in deciding whether to use it or not that makes a persons accomplishments their own regardless of the tools they're using's origins. As far as the other arguments you make regarding the strategy to fight the Reapers. Whether to flee or stand and fight, and then Shepherd political games of fetch and essentially mercenary work for other species to me is not flawed or unacceptable either. Why is it not possible to flee one system and hold another? Sure the Reapers attack the galaxy itself simultaneously but not every inhabited advanced system. It is explained time and time again how the Reapers try to subdue and harvest a population rather than as Diana Allers put it "take a few shots from space". I am sure they presumably went by priority of threats. Batarians first as they were geographically in the way at the edge of the milky way but also their huge military. Then of course their main target, Earth. For the same reasons they fear Shepherd and the same reasons they ordered the Collectors to build a new Reaper from humans. Humanity being the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to skills and intelligence where and are the biggest threat to the Reapers. Turians and Krogan can fight, Asari can diplomatically govern and negotiate, Volus can make money and run economies, Salarians can gather intelligence and Quarians have the tech skills. But humanity as a whole is not strong as any one of those races in a single field, but evenly skilled in each field rather than unbalanced skills of being strong at one thing and not another. Also of note is the Galaxies disbelief in the Reapers as myth and pure propaganda or storytelling. Many believed Sovereign to be a Prothean flagship or Geth design. Nobody could conceive of the actual threat. Shepherd needed to gather every race, species, government, militia and military in order to even have a fighting chance. As its stated harvesting of earth could take at least a decade, surely they could hold out while Shepherd played politics and fought for different flags and negotiated different alliances and power shifts.
I think ME3 did an excellent job at the entirety of the story save for the original ending. The only part of the original ending I disliked was its lack of information. Lack of answers and epilogue. If all of our minds could be erased of our first impressions of ME3 and we had to play the entirety of the game over again with no previous knowledge of any of it save for ME and ME2. If we could somehow have our first impressions of ME3 be of the game as it is now, DLC and all, including the extended cut....I think we would all be very pleased. I believe there'd be few if any discontent among fans regarding the games storytelling and direction, and most of all its endings. Unfortunately we all had our first impressions with what I'd consider an unfinished product. We had our DLCs that make the game that much more diverse and story more clear given to us piecemeal over time when the story and playing habits, strategy and familiarity with the games controls and playing M.O. was stale and memory fuzzy. It took a little bit of time to ease back into the game, remember the little tidbits of the plot and side-anecdotes, as well as relationships. With the story and new chapters fragmented like that and time passed whilst reading and hearing others interperetations of the game to be influenced by such as the Indoc Theory, well...you lose sight of the game as a whole, of the story and of this new 3rd chapter in Shepherds tale, it loses its collective and the pieces begin to fall apart and seemingly stand on their own. I tell you, when I first watched that YouTube video explaining the Indoc Theory for the first time? Man, I couldn't get it out of my head.
I didn't agree with it and I didn't believe or buy the evidence for it (if Shepherd was being indoctrinated, then what the hell for? He doesn't sabatoge or kill anybody or overall do anything that would aid the Reapers or destroy his own side, why would they bother with that and then do nothing? You'd think if they were in the process of trying to indoctrinate him they'd have some of his knowledge and be able to ambush them and ruin their plans at every turn and development, why fully indoctrinate him and give him a false vision in his mind right at the end when the galaxy has been united, so many war assets gathered than any other cycle or civilization ever before, and the Crucible actually built and most of all with Human, Turian, Salarian, Asari, Krogan, Quarian, Geth, Rachni, Batarian, Drell & Hanar, Elcor, Volus, Vorcha, Blue Suns, Eclipse, Blood-Pack, Leviathans, Prothean (well one Prothean), and ex-Cerberus troops charging at the Conduit and virtually at the Reapers front door-step? What the hell can Shepherd if indoctrinated do now? It'd be easier to get him to destroy the fragile alliance against the Reapers altogether and learn about the Crucible from him in the first place. Why bother with such an elaborate scheme? They're ruthless, machine, non-empathetic cold calculating, murdering, devastatingly destructive synthetic constructs who kill without mercy and cannot be reasoned with, they're NOT a super-villain Ala Lex Luthor or Goldfinger with big elaborate plans that they just have to explain to their adversary before killing them in an altogether unrealistic, unnecessary, over-complicated and overall flawed & inescapable method or contraption rather than just putting a bullet in their head. IT is stupid.)
But of course since seeing that video which to me the first viewing was powerful and emotional as it turned your ME3 world upside-down, it stuck with me and just could not be shook. It was like a first impression interpretation of the ending, regardless of my thoughts and ideas. Since viewing the video, no matter how many times I replayed the ending or watched videos of the ending online I still could not shake the thought that it was all in Shepherds head and the boy wasn't real, etc. etc. I knew in the back of my mind it was not true but that damned video ruined it for me. I've tried time and time again to scrub my mind clean of this first impression interpretation and see the ending as it is meant to be but I still get that nervous & eerie feeling that its all in Shepherds mind, that its all just so sinister and evil that the Reapers can manipulate somebody so much and totally ruin my previously imagined incorruptible hero by making him their slave and throwing him into a false reality where one has to question what exactly is real and if anything at all was real and how long has this been going on, etc. etc.
Fortunately the Extended Cut helped me erase much of that preconceived notion of the IT but it still lingered on a bit. But now, with the advent of Leviathan and replaying the game from the Citadel Cerberus Coup and onward, I've been able to get as clear and concise of a picture of the game and its IMHO intended story as its meant to be seen without the previous snags of having the story all jumbled and unfinished, downloading this content and playing it at this and that point when you haven't played the game in months, etc. Now though, I feel much better about the game as a whole and especially its ending. Though no amount of replaying and new dlc can ever erase my original perception and disappointment, I feel that the more and more I play through the game as a whole and think about it, that I finally feel like I got the conclusion to the trilogy I loved so much that I, nay, WE as fans deserve and have been wanting for so long. I think so many fans are being arrogantly childish and immature. They expect far too much from their games. They expect a perfection that cannot nor can ever be attained because they will always find something new to be disappointed by or not done quite the way they would've wanted. In its new entirety, Mass Effect 3 including the Extended Cut, From Ashes, Leviathan, etc. is the perfect threequel and the perfect ending for the series we all love so much. My only qualms would be that we could all either go back in time and have Bioware release the original version of the game but with the extended cut, leviathan and from ashes apart of the game itself and not dlc. Or if we could all get our memories of ME3 erased and play the game as it is now with its updates, dlc and extended cuts I think we'd all have a completely different reaction to how the game turned out and how it ended and it would most certainly be a positive reaction.