Ok, so I just beat Mass Effect 3 about an hour before writing this, and decided to give my initial reaction to it. As I’m sure you all know by now, the ending to the game is almost universally despised. People seem too really, really hate it and found it very unsatisfying and don’t like the way your actions reflect the trilogy as a whole, and large groups are even petitioning BioWare to add another ending to the game. And I decided to give my opinion on this because I kind of needed to get it off my chest. I needed some kind of outlet to help me process it because it’s a bit of a mind fuck. Now I will warn you now, this is a post that will contain a ton of spoilers so stop reading now if you care. A full review will probably be coming next week but for now here is my initial reaction to the ending.
The best way that I can describe the ending is as sort of a mash of the most depressing and mind fuck aspects of the endings of Wolf’s Rain, Lost, and the Space Odyssey books. The ending starts off with what was one of the most intense climaxes I have played in any video game. Then you get to the place where can activate the weapon that will win the war for you, you have a final confrontation with The Illusive Man, and Anderson dies right beside you as you activate the weapon and bleed out.
Now, up until this point the climax had been fantastic and I really liked where it was going. But then he goes into another area where the master of the Reapers appears to him in the form of a child and tells him the true purpose of The Reapers and here is where I start to have mixed feelings. He basically says that this cycle was put in place in order to preserved organic life in the form of Reapers in order to keep synthetic life from eventually dominating the galaxy.
And that’s what I have mixed thoughts on. It’s a very simple yet complex answer to what the Reapers are for. Quite frankly I would have preferred if they left the motivation of the Reapers ambiguous or completely blew me away. It kind of seemed like they were trying to meet halfway and that bothered me a bit.
But then we come to the part that has generated so much hatred; the three choices. The first has you destroy all synthetic live in the galaxy as well as much of the technology in it, including the Reapers with the child saying that the peace won’t last. The second is where Shepard can control the Reapers but will die in the process, (not really sure how that works). And the third is where Shepard has to sacrifice himself in order to bring about the next stage in evolution that combines synthetic and organic life.
Interesting right? But here is what annoys me and I think annoys everyone. For starters, no matter what you do, the Mass Relays are destroyed by your actions. So the intergalactic community that was built, that you broke your back to help, establish is gone. That pissed me off beyond belief. They spent so much time and effort investing us in these worlds, in this technology, in this intergalactic community and suddenly it’s all gone. They’re all cut off from one another. It’s done. Were back to where everyone was before discovering the Mass Relays and that really pissed me off and depressed the hell out of me as it, in a lot of ways, made your past actions almost completely pointless.
The other thing that annoyed me about it is that you have no idea what happens to everyone afterwards. The last shot of the game has the crew of the Normandy standing on a deserted but habitable planet and implies that they’re going to and will build a society there. But other than that, it gives you nothing. You don’t know what becomes of them. You literally know nothing of their fates. Did they prosper? Did they die? Did certain characters get together? Explanation please! The same goes for all the societies of the galaxy. You don’t know what becomes of humanity, or the Asari, or the Krogan. And again, the fact that they took so much time to invest you into these characters and societies and gives you nothing when it’s all said and done just pisses me off beyond belief.
The last thing that annoys me is Shepard’s ending. In short, there is no happy ending for him at all. Now, I like bittersweet endings like those of The Dark Knight or the remake of True Grit but this one just really made me sad. This was actually the game where they really made Shepard into a character rather than the blank slate he had been in the other games and to see him not get a happy ending of any kind is just soul crushingly depressing. I know I’m not alone in this and I may sound like a bit of a sissy but I kind of wanted to see a bit or piece of Shepard’s life with his/her love interest. I wanted to see what became of them. I wanted to know if things worked out or if they had kids after the end of the war and I felt a little cheated in this regard as I did with all the other characters.
But despite the fact that I don’t agree with a lot of the choices that they made for the finale I do understand it from a narrative point of view. I get that they were trying to establish that this is it. This is the end of the story. Shepard’s story is over. This is the end of Mass Effect and from that stand point I do understand. I may not agree with it but I get it.
My final thoughts on the ending, thus far is that I don’t hate it. I may not like certain things about it but right now, I can’t really find anything that killed it for me. For me, it was very much like Wolf’s Rain’s ending where I didn’t know how to feel and it’s honestly something that I have never fully come to terms with. And to be honest I think that Mass Effect 3 is going to be this way for me for good. I don’t ever see myself loving this ending or hating it and I probably won’t be joining the people that are petitioning for another ending. More time will have to pass before I can say anything for sure but for now, that’s all I have to say on the subject. For those of you who stuck with me through this rant, thank you and if you read this and beat it as well, I’m curious to know what you thought about the ending. So until next time this is The Illusive One signing off.