Monday, March 19, 2012

A Longer Look at the Mass Effect 3 Ending (Contains Spoilers)

It almost seems unnecessary to write a longer analysis of the Mass Effect 3 ending since it seems like everyone else has already made my point. I spent a little time today following a bunch of links kicked off by Adi Tantimedh's writeup on Bleeding Cool and the amount of well reasoned consensus people seem to be displaying over the situation is atypical of most reactionary discourse on the internet. In fact it doesn't seem reactionary at all and the few instances of people supporting the existing endings actually seem more crackpot to me than the thousands of people who are disappointed.


As far as my personal take on the situation, I can deal with the "Guardian" AI and the choices presented to me. I actually tend to like the idea of some incalculably old being at the helm of a galactic perpetual motion machine that involves the Reaper's wiping out the majority of organic life every 50,000 years. I like it because it allows the story to resolve itself as a tale of the races of Shepard's cycle coming together as one against all odds and achieving a level of societal evolution that no other cycle before them would seem to have been capable of. In my game, Shepard has not only united these races, but he's fought for the rights of synthetic life and proven that organics and synthetics can try to live together harmoniously; an outcome that is diametrically opposed to the Guardian's antiquated reasoning that the created will always seek to destroy the creator. The game means to give me the magical "synthesis" ending as the ideal resolution for my particular choices, but it's not ideal at all. In my version of the galaxy we have succeeded without the physics-defying synthesis offered by the Guardian. If anything, we've proven that we have what it takes to break the cycle and run our own lives.

What I want is a 4th option, the Babylon 5 option. I want my Shepard to stand against the Guardian and the Reapers like Sheridan in season 4 of B5 when he faces the leaders of the Shadows and the Vorlons and tell them to "get the hell out of our galaxy" ... we don't need them anymore. I want the former child races of the galaxy to storm the gates of heaven and demand to be taken seriously and to become the true masters of their own fate, for better or worse.

Maybe Shepard still needs to die in order for this to happen, maybe the mass effect relay network still needs to be destroyed. I don't care. I don't have as much issue with all of that nor the three options I was given. The real issue is that they were options I/Shepard was given and not options we got to choose. It's that 4th option, the option of choice that I think people feel is missing. Regardless of how you play him, Commander Shepard is a big damn hero and the endings we were given don't make me feel that way when all is said and done.


This is just my opinion though. I can't speak for the writers of ME3 nor would I seek to undermine their decisions. As a game developer I know that there are many things going on under the hood of a project you never see that affect every aspect of it's development. I know not why nor how the endings were arrived at and I don't seek to criticize that process. They've achieved an amazing thing with the Mass Effect series and I look forward to whatever comes next whether it addresses the ending controversy or not. So go play ME3, play them all, and see for yourself. Even if you're disappointed in the last 15 minutes, you're going to enjoy the ride; I can pretty much guarantee that you will.

The views expressed on Plenty For All are purely the opinions of Brian J. Audette and are not at all affiliated with, representative of, endorsed or supported by BioWare, EA, it's shareholders, partners, or subsidiaries.

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