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Indoctrination or Not, It's Problematic

HELO March 31, 2012 User blog:HELO

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I'm not a big fan of the Indoctrination Theory.

It's not that I think its supporters are wrong in thinking that the end of the game is all in Shepard's head as he struggles to either cave in to or overcome the Reapers' last-ditch attempt to take him out ('cus vaporizing him just will not work). Honestly, that may very well be exactly what's going on. It makes a hell of a lot more sense than the Anderson/TIM/Space Ghost stuff being real.

Except it doesn't.

No, I don't mean that I believe incontrovertibly that all of the events on the Citadel at the end are easier to justify as real events than as hallucinated ones. Nor do I mean the opposite. What I mean is that saying it was all a hallucination makes sense as a justification for why it was all so frikkin' weird.

But it's problematic. Actually, either way, it's problematic. At best. At worst it's just...stupid. Poorly crafted. Absurd. Insulting.

See, with or without indoctrination playing in to things, the end is still completely removed from the rest of the game: NOTHING you did for the dozens of hours you spent playing SPECIFICALLY TO PREPARE FOR THE END has anything to do with the end. You raise an army you never use. You get resources for a weapon you don't really ever deploy. And there is no build-up to either the almighty Space Ghost being the ultimate bad guy (the prothean VI on Thessia's suspicions that the Reapers have a boss doesn't count as build-up since no one discusses them further) or to the idea that the fate of the galaxy rests solely on Shepard's willpower.

So, if it's real: disappointing and disconnected.

And if it's not real: disconnected and confusing and...incomplete.

'Cus if it was an attempt at indoctrination, then the three choices at the end lead to either indoctrination (Blue and Green) or resistence (Red--which is why it's the only one where you survive). And if you resist...well, how exactly does that make the game end?

Seriously. If the Red ending (heh...they're like Weezer albums) is Shepard resisting, why does his resisting stop the Reapers? Was their secret vulnerability a delicate ego? Was the key to their destruction really no more than a stern "stop that"? And if it was...well, that's really lame. Like, monstrously lame.

I mean, if it was all just a test of wills, then wouldn't you think that there'd be more to do after you win that contest? You know, like defeat the Reapers?

If you were being indoctrinated...and if you overcame the indoctrination...wouldn't you just wake up by where you got shot? And wouldn't the war still be going on?

So...where is the rest of the game?

Now, don't get me wrong: if the Citadel whatnot really was all in Shepard's head, and if the Green/Blue endings were, in fact, you giving in to the indoctrination...then sure, that should be the end of the game for you, and you should see the galaxy fall to the Reapers, roll credits.

But the Red ending, then, should mean a longer final mission, where you get to punch Harbinger in the face and you save the galaxy and your love interest is waiting for you on the shore of a tropical beach, roll Miracle of Sound video.

(And how cool would that be? Filling the final mission with little traps that could, based on your choices throughout the games, legitimately stop the journey for you before the fullest version of the end? Awesome. Ballsy, but awesome. Just imagine that: "Dude, I beat ME3 last night! How frikkin' hard was shooting Harbinger?" "What are you talking about? It ended on the Citadel. With the Space Ghost." "Um...I got another 5 hours of gameplay after that.")

But none of that happens. Sure, Indoctrination can explain the weirdness, but it doesn't explain why the game ends with the weirdness instead of, I dunno, a totally badass fight.

The whole thing is still completely removed (structurally, thematically, in-universe logic-ly) from the rest of the game. And I haven't heard a satisfying theory yet that makes that suck any less.

How do you account for that? Did they genuinely think they'd created something amazing? Did they know it was crap and hoped we wouldn't notice? Did they deliberately sell us an incomplete game in order to force us to buy DLC?

...is what I've been thinking. And it is also probably a good indication of why I've never written a blog entry before.

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