Go here if you linked here wanting to read about ME3.
A very long post ahead. If you don’t have time for it, feel free to skip it.
This…this whole mess, especially with this final hours in light, infuriates me. To the core of my very being, even.
I was a bit of a late bloomer to Mass Effect. For the most part, I ignored it, since I hadn’t really been exposed to it and nothing struck out at me enough to research it further. I only got it last year because one of my friends was interested in Mass Effect 2, so I gifted it to him. Watching him play it, I quickly saw a game right up my alley. A sci-fi third person shooter-RPG hybrid from the guys who made Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, where all of your choices actually matter? Holy crap! It only took watching about 45 minutes for me to immediately buy myself a copy of both it and the first game, and, some time in the future, all of the DLC.
I loved it. I loved it so, so much. The depth, the complexity, the realistic characters who seemed like actual people [I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a serious crush on Tali. ], since you got to see their thoughts, vulnerabilities, dreams and ambitions, and how their personalities rub off against each other, for better or worse, and you got to play a character that was in tune to your line of thinking, with it affecting what you ran into and how people reacted. All of that on top of the codex enrichening and fleshing out the universe all the further and it was a pure delight. All it took was a little bit of exposure to the game for me to go from “disinterested” into “This is my favorite game ever.” Same with the first mass effect, which I quickly came to love as well.
Since the two mass effects had completely won me over, I naturally became excited and eagerly anticipated the third one. I’ve never pre-ordered a game before; Mass Effect 3 didn’t take long for me to make that decision. Considering how excellent the first two were, I was sure the third, with all of the statements that Bioware was promising, would be the most fantastic thing I’ve ever had the delight of playing. Despite rumors of the leaked endings and how “ridiculous” they were, I ignored the temptation of checking them out, so that my experience with ME3 would be untarnished. In retrospect, if I had gave in and checked those endings, I wouldn’t have pre-ordered.
It didn’t take long for some other things to start bothering me about this game as well. The Day 1 ‘From Ashes’ DLC issue perturbed me considerably. I’m normally indifferent to DLC, but not if it’s available immediately on release. If you can release it the same day as the game itself, I see no reason why it couldn’t just be included with the game besides the reasons of milking the consumer. Despite this matter annoying me, however, I pressed on. It was bad, but it wasn’t bad enough to warrant canceling my pre-order, especially since I knew ME3 would be amazing and satisfactory. Everything else from Bioware’s been that way.
Then the day came. March 6th, 2012. I could unlock my pre-loaded ME3 and play it! Oh, it was so exciting. I knew already from the demo a month prior that I appreciated the improvements to combat. It was nice to actually have speed to Shepard! I sunk in about twenty hours right then and there. The thrill and horror of seeing the Reapers attack en masse for the first time, completely obliterating Alliance forces. The horror of Cerberus indoctrinating their own soldiers and being against you. The sorrow of seeing Mordin and Legion sacrifice themselves for a greater cause, but the pride of doing what none thought possible; redeeming the Rachni once again and getting their aid, curing the Genophage and uniting Krogan and Turian, ending the Geth/Quarian conflict and uniting those races as well. This Shepard was happening, pulling off the impossible, holding a close bond with his crew, and brewing up a massive force to teach the Reapers just how clueless they really were about the tenacity of life itself. Even the Illusive Man’s resolve cracked against my Shepard’s, realizing just how wrong he was. The Reapers underestimated all of this cycle’s races, and they were going to bite the dust for it.
…Only, they didn’t. They WON. Not by any surprise tricks, not by superior firepower, not even by managing to calculate the possibility of this armada and managing to completely shatter it through unforeseen variables.
No, the reapers won because the writers of the games themselves gave up and coped out, for lack of better terms. The greatest victory for the Reapers wasn’t even against Shepard and the massive armada backing him; it was against the players. Those invested in the series for so long were rewarded, for all of our time, passion, sweat, tears, and blood, with the absolutely appauling, horrifyingly shallow ending, which comes almost entirely out of left field.
What the hell is the Catalyst? We were never told or forewarned about this possibility. Throwing its name in a few times prior does not equal foreshadowing, nor does it explain it. As far as I can tell, the Catalyst is the collective mind of the Citadel itself. What came first, then? Did the Citadel exist first, and the Reapers second? Who built the Citadel, if that’s the case? Is the Citadel itself some kind of bizarre Reaper? What IS it? Where does the Catalyst’s consciousness come from? Is it, like the other Reapers, the collective minds of an entire race? If so, which? The race that built the Citadel? How does it control the Reapers? Does it even control the Reapers, truly? If it does control the Reapers, and is the Citadel, why was Sovereign needed at all in ME1 to unleash the Reaper invasion? Couldn’t it have done it itself? Why is my Shepard, which has stood as the pinnacle of hope and self-determination, not even questioning this strange being? Why is he just accepting what this self-proclaimed “Controller of the Reapers” says for granted? Why are these my only three choices? Why does the Crucible supposedly allow these three endings? Why not others? Why doesn’t any of my other choices up to this point make a difference? Why doesn’t the Collector Base’s fate matter? How do we know the Crucible itself wasn’t a trap by the Reapers to further keep the organic species under control? Why is their whole pretense so flimsy? Why aren’t any of the endings elaborated upon when picking them? Why is the Normandy fleeing? Where did they crash? How did my crew standing by my side suddenly end up on it? Why didn’t they do anything to help me earlier? If I was still kicking, couldn’t they have just used like all of our medigels to get me in working shape again? Why is there no elaboration at all, despite Bioware stating this ending would bring closure!?
The more I think about this ending, the more it boggles my mind and seems like the ultimate middle finger to the fans, courtesy of the Reapers . There’s just so much that we’re supposed to just take for granted, or fill in the blanks ourselves, let alone the plot lines that were completely dropped or the contradictions that it makes.
When an ending, that’s supposed to resolve the story of the Reapers and Commander Shepard alike, leaves you with more questions than answers, and wondering why massive chunks of the plot needed to happen, something screwed up.
At first, when I encountered the ending, I was numbed to it. Something was seriously off, and it bothered me, but the rest of the game up to that point had been so fun and involving, that the pain and confusion didn’t kick in immediately. It was only after a night’s sleep that I started to really question everything.
However, as horrible as I ended up feeling the ending to be, I figured there were a few possibilities as to what happened. It seemed likely to me that the publishing monster that is EA probably rushed Bioware, thus forcing them to compromise a satisfactory ending in favor of meeting the deadline. Bad, to be sure, but since Bioware’s always seemed to care about its fanbase, it seemed pretty obvious to me that something to resolve the ending would occur in time. Perhaps it still will; I hope so, although that hope is fading. The Indoctrination theory seemed intriguing to me as well; was it possible we didn’t see the whole ending, and what we did see was a fabrication? It certainly gained plausibility, and gave a reasonable enough handwave for most of the questions above. Although, if it was Indoctrination, couldn’t it have been hinted at with more glaring issues? We could’ve had those strange oily streaks the entire moment after Harbinger blasted you. We could’ve had Admiral Hackett be at the Citadel, which would’ve been a great red flag to indicate to everyone that something was seriously off here.
All of this was completely destroyed with the revelation Final Hours brought up to me. Bioware, not EA, chose this ending. They fully knew what they were working for, and chose this. This poorly placed, spontaneous, suspension-of-disbelief shattering star child and him shoving his choices to us to gobble up. No other endings. Doesn’t matter how you played your Shepard; all that mattered is how many war assets you got so that the Star Child can give you a certain number of prefabricated choices. These ending choices are pitiful; I’m reminded of those 500-in-1 game cartridges which are the same game copied many times over, only in storyline ending form. It’s possible that the endings could be different than that, but, gee, it’s all moot if they don’t elaborate on it at all, isn’t it? It all feels like an indoctrinated nightmare; are we all on the reaper-devastated Earth and aren’t even aware of it because they want to harvest us?
This ending is, to me, a betrayal. If not for the poor writing itself, then for how Bioware handled it. Choosing this ending as preferable over another one they had planned , and giving virtually no relief or official statements to the clearly disgruntled fanbase to talk about their concerns in the slightest. Throw your fanbase a bone, for crying out loud.
There is no curse or word intense enough for the loathing this has brought within me, overall. If you wish to treat me like a mindless ragdoll, Bioware, fine. I don’t need to support you one bit, and i’ll be sure to let anyone I know how I feel on the matter, so that they can also determine for themselves if you’re worth supporting or avoiding.
Thanks for your time to those who read my two cents. Even if we disagree on points, I hope you can at least understand my perspective. :>