The Extended Cut shall soon be upon us. In anticipation of the impending and utterly inevitable disappointment that will surely follow the Extended Cut, I've decided to rant and stuff.
Alright, that was a bit harsh. BioWare's broken my heart before in the past, but the Mass Effect fanboy in me is crying out to give them another shot. After all, there's no way BioWare could botch the ending twice right?
What I Want
All things considered, I'm a simple man with simple desires. All I want out of life is to defeat a sentient god-like race of machines capable of mass genocide, live to tell the tale, move to a planet I saved on the edge of the galaxy, and settle down with my favourite quarian squeeze. That's not too much to ask for, is it?
Not An Ending
Not a happy ending, not a sad ending, not an ending. I want endings. Dragon Age: Origins nailed it, and I'm hoping an ending more like that game, and less like skittles. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of playing that game, it had everything you would want in an ending. There was a bittersweet ending, where your hero/heroine sacrificed him/herself, followed by a sombre funeral. Of course, who actually shows up to your funeral all depends on the decisions you made (e.g. all the people you didn't screw over). Of course, you didn't have to die. Someone else could make that sacrifice for you, which is also bittersweet. There is of course, a for everyone to survive, provided you did a few things right. Ultimately, this means there is an ending for everyone.
He or she will then asks a simple question: what are you going to do now? You can decide to have your character settle down, continue fighting the good fight, hunt down and old friend/lover or embark on new adventures with your love interest. Either way, you got to feel some sense of control and closure over your character's conclusion. Is it really so blasphemous that this all takes place at a party? I don't think we had any complaints about the ending to the ending of Star Wars Episode VI. There were bittersweet moments, but then there was cause to celebrate. It wrapped up the story nicely and we didn't feel cheated of anything. Well most of us. I'm still upset over seeing the ghost of Hayden Christiansen.
So what do this series of segues have to do with Mass Effect? Well, I hope to see these simple things implemented into the ending of Mass Effect 3. An ending doesn't need twenty twists and a convoluted series of revelations to be good. You can have a simple, fitting ending to the story that doesn't completely contradict the rest of the story. There's nothing wrong with simple. With Dragon Age: Origins, after all your dialogue options were chosen and you finished saying your goodbyes you were treated to a slideshow. Yes, a slideshow. I didn't expect BioWare to make a hundred cutscenes based on all the things I did and did not do in the game. It worked perfectly. It showed us the consequences of our actions, and was relatively easy to create. Would I mind seeing a slideshow that complemented the additional scenes? Of course not. Mass Effect was an epic trilogy, with a plethora of plots and sub-plots. The ending shouldn't be a short series of cutscenes devoid of dialogue! There needs to be falling action, resolution, and denouement! This is the last we'll see of Shepard, let it last.
Bring It Together
Really, this is the end of our story. This may be the last time we ever see this universe. Let it go out with a bang. Like Weekes allegedly said, let us truly see what the galaxy is made of! I hope to see STG units shooting Scorpions and holding down the line. I want to see an Elcor with shoulder-mounted rocket launchers!
We need to see everyone coming together and contributing to the final fight, so we can get that feeling of unity. That's what the Mass Effect trilogy has been about: unity and diversity. We need to see all that come together, so we can truly feel the story and its themes come full circle. The way the ending is now, it just felt like another mission for Shepard and co. Please, don't grind our experiences from the past three games into a single number. Show us how all these different species came together for a unified, not homogenised, assault.
War Assets, Please!
This is something I really hope to see a lot when the DLC hits. If I spared the Rachni queen twice, then why don't I get to see friendly Rachni soldiers fighting alongside me? How about seeing some different ships in the fleet? I'd like to see all the little things I've done over the past 3 comes come back, whether it be to help or haunt me. Here are some things I'd like to see Tuesday:
- The Hanar/Spectre unit, depending upon choices.
- The colonists from Zhu's hope. After all we did for that colony, we ought to get a short clip of them fighting for us.
- Aralakh Company. Because they don't need luck.
- The Terminus Fleet. I ran all those errands for Aria, and for what? Let me see those ships specifically. I for one would love to see the Blood Pack going Kamikaze on the Reapers. Vorcha suicide bombers fighting the Reapers? Well that's the best win-win I've ever heard.
- Volus Bombers. Let them show the galaxy that they can be more than bankers. Because no one takes midget Darth Vader bankers seriously.
- Jack's students! What was the point of choosing whether to put them in a support role or not if we never find out what happens to them? If we do make them into a biotic artillery unit, maybe we can see them dealing heavy blows to the enemy, but also taking heavy losses as well? Oh, and Jack should be there too. Because I slept with her, that's why.
- My old squadmates! Sure we get to have a random conversation with them at the end, and that is nice, but how about a short cutscene for each of them? Dependent upon EMS/loyalty, we could see them make a noble sacrifice, or survive in a moment of triumph. Remember that scene with Grunt during the Rachni queen mission? If we did his puberty ritual, good ole' Grunt would come through on top, and we got the happy ending we deserved. If not, we get a moment of tragedy, which is also good. Either way, we felt our choices mattered.
What Needs To Be Fixed
Let's be honest. The ending is broken. It's poorly written, confusing, disappointing, and not a lot of fun. What continues to amaze me about the ending is the sheer number of things that went wrong with it. There wasn't simply one mistake, or grievance. I've ranted in multiple blogs about the large number of issues this has. The fact that people can make YouTube videos exceeding an hour in length says something.
When BioWare announced the Extended Cut, it seemed pretty clear they didn't understand the whole problem. Additional scenes that provide closure and clarity is nice, but that won't stop the ending from being broken.
A Plethora of Plot Holes
Very likely (hopefully), this is what we're going to see cleared up the most. The fact that a game this huge could even be released with so many plot holes in its most pivotal moments is just appalling. The entire ending sequence felt rushed, underdone, and underwhelming. Consider that there is no dialogue in the final sequences of the game, and that Buzz Aldrin got the last word in the entire Mass Effect trilogy. The fact that this can happen just shows how terribly underdone the ending is. Here are some of the minor details BioWare forgot about the first time around. Here's hoping they took notice for the Extended Cut.
- So why was Joker running away? Care to explain why my best friend went AWOL when the fate of humanity hangs in the balance?
- Is everyone going to be stranded? Even the Protheans were only on the cusp of understanding Prothean technology, and the current denizens of the Milky Way are nowhere near as advanced. Is there any way to not destroy all the Mass Relays?
- Why can I survive in the Destroy ending? God Child specifically said I couldn't. Was it wrong?
- The Normandy is seen trying to escape an explosion, but we don't see the rest of the fleet. Since this explosion causes the Normandy to crash, wouldn't it have the same effect on the rest of the fleet? Is it safe to assume then, that the entire fleet we spent the whole game building was just decimated off-screen? Seriously, what happened to those guys?
- How the hell did my squad get onto the Normandy? Maybe a short scene of Joker dropping just in time to rescue my squad and abandon me will clear everything up.
Can You Repeat The Question?
The whole point of this DLC, ideally, is to offer us clarity on a few things. That's great, because we were more than a little confused by the time the credits rolled. Specifically, the conversation with the Catalyst. Despite defying the odds three games over and questioning just about every viewpoint in the galaxy, Shepard becomes compliant in his/her most pivotal moment. Shepard has stopped becoming the challenger-the doer, and has been reduced to a pawn. Whilst I'd prefer it if they removed this particular literal deus ex machina, but if it absolutely must stay in, then I really hope they completely overhauled the dialogue, and lack thereof. For one, there needs to a be a veritable myriad of investigation options. As it stands, we still don't know if Destroy kills quarians, or whether destroying the Mass Relays will cause a supernova, annihilating entire planets and killing trillions. Not that big of a deal, I know, but it'd be nice to have my curiosity sated. Maybe it's too much to hope for, but I would love it if I never had to see it's smug face again. I know it may sounds hard to write around the Catalyst, but in truth, it will be much harder to make an ending work with the Catalyst. Any ending involving a dues ex machina is severely limited in its potential.
But you can keep the Buzz Aldrin cameo, if you really need to.
This may be a somewhat pointless blog sure, since many of us will likely be playing the Extended Cut in 48 hours or so. Regardless, it has been written, so let's hope it's been done. A couple of screenshots have given me hope, but time will tell....
Do I want a happy ending? You bet I do! More importantly however, I want these endings to be flexible and varied. I have more Shepards than I can count, but they're all important to me. Why? They're all different in some way. Problem is, I'm not going to feel any motivation to complete all those stories if the end result is the same every time. Mass Effect 3 had the lowest replay value of any game when I got to the end of it. I couldn't believe that after all I've been through in Mass Effect, I was betrayed and given an anticlimax. All my motivation and desire to do anything even remotely related to Mass Effect was stripped in an instant. Skyrim inevitably sucked me back in, and I was left with a sour taste in my mouth.
Does this make it all ok? No. BioWare (or one person at BioWare, or EA, whatever) lied to us, and completely botched the ending. That can be forgiven, if the Extended Cut goes above and beyond all our expectations. Forgiven, but never forgotten. Needless to say, I shall be ever wary of buying any BioWare product as a result of this. Trust is difficult to attain, easy to lose, and even harder to regain.
Oh, and IGN, don't let Colin Moriarty cover the Extended Cut. He couldn't do his job right when he reviewed the game the first time.