What's the Deal With Mass Effect 3?

-Samer Farag

When Mass Effect 3 was first released recently, it did so to critical acclaim. It was praised for its engaging combat, great voice acting, and its ability to tell a story, as well as how it fixed the issues of both Mass Effect games before it.

But then time passed. And people began finishing the game. And something changed.

People began hating it.

Not the whole game per se, But its very end. The last few minutes of the game, maybe its most crucial moment, was despised by people the gaming world over. What started as the most acclaimed game of 2012 thus far became the most controversial. 

I, for one, am indifferent towards Mass Effect 3’s endings. As a back-up of my credentials, I am a large fan of all three games, and have beaten all of them multiple times now. But I am also not a “mega-fan” so to speak. I will attempt to point out both reasons as to why gamers should and shouldn’t get mad about Mass Effect 3’s ending. SPOILERS AHEAD.

First, why do some players hate the ending? After discussing this with friends and colleagues who dislike it, as well as reading the opinions of many others, I have come to see a number of reasons.

Confusion: I agree with this one. Some parts of the ending made little to no sense to me. Characters appear out of nowhere, without any explanation as to how, and there is a slightly rushed paced. Characters are introduced that we haven’t seed hide nor hair of before. Major plot twists are revealed, then brushed aside. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the ending, I believe we can all agree more time could have been put into it. 

Lack of Choice: This is important. Mass Effect is about choice, and to many, this choice was felt to be taken away by the players at the end of the game. Essentially, it is believed that the past 2 and 3/4s of the game had not purpose, as it had little impact on the ending. This will be countered later in the article.

It’s too negative!: Many have felt that no matter the choices one makes , the endings are much too negative. Many wanted a happier ending as a possible choice, but it is considered to not be there. This will also be countered.

Now, why we shouldn’t hate the ending. 

Hype: To a large amount of gamers, Mass Effect is the pinnacle of gaming storytelling, sci-fi, and action-rpg. Expectations were high. So high that it was most likely impossible to please everyone with the conclusion of the high profile RPG. It seems this hatred is almost inevitable. 

Shepard: We ME players have stuck with this series for years now. Shepard is my character, as much as he is yours. I believe we have reached a point where we have become so attached to our Shepards, creating our own story, and, subsequently our own ending for our Commanders. when our proposed endings, the ones many players wanted, were not there in the game, we became dissatisfied. Blinded by our own expectations, essentially.

There IS Choice: The saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination,” fits well here. Choices about all sorts of things, hundreds of them, played some part in the Mass Effect trilogy. They are present in the conclusion of the game, as they were present before it. What I did to get to the ending is different from what you may have done. But there needs to be a conclusion, and whether or not that ending and your choices are enjoyed by the players is subjective. This leads to my next point:

Not everyone’s seen it all: I played ME3 twice. In one play-through, Shepard and Anderson died. In another, Shepard AND Anderson lived. When I told my friends, many were surprised. “Shepard can live?” It seems a few (not all) detractors have not realized how major the changes of some of the endings can be. They simply beat it once and complained about the conclusion. If you didn’t like it, try again: You may be surprised as to the difference, and subsequently more satisfied. 

It needs to be bleak: From the beginning, it is emphasized that humanity is fighting a losing battle. Of course the conclusion of a war isn’t going to be completely positive. These people are fighting the Reapers, machines that have obliterated civilizations many times over. It’s basically carved in stone that the universe is going to be purged by these things. That there is absolutely zero chance that they win. Of course it’s going to be a by the skin of your teeth situation. It’s going to take everything we’ve got, and casualties are inevitable. Civilization is lucky enough that it was able to survive, let alone sustain so much damage. War is not all rainbows and sunshine, and no one is completely unharmed when its over, whether mentally or physically, and whether it be person or entire planet. Especially when your fighting against the prophesied enders of the universe. 

In the end, there are lots of reasons to like and dislike ME3’s ending. I enjoy the debate it has generated around the gaming community. What are your thoughts on the ending, and why?