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Mass Effect Rant. *Spoilers. Oh, So Many Spoilers.*

Posted by Grimm, 10 March 2012 · 591 views

Let me preface this particular rant with an undying pledge of love for the majority of the Mass Effect Series. When I first started to read the articles about the production of the first game, I was intrigued. When I actually bought and played the first game, I was ecstatic. Finally, a new space RPG that was more "Hard" Science-Fiction than it's fellows! Codex upon codex showered fluff-text down upon me like some magical fountain of fiction, and I greedily downed cup after cup of lore with just enough techo-babble to make the whole scenario at least sound plausible.

Unlike many people, I loved the heck out of almost every aspect of that first game, from exploring myriad worlds in the Mako(A sort of cross between a moon rover and an APC), to chilling in an elevator and listening to my squadmates talk amongst themselves. The gameplay was awesome, the writing was great, and the score was so chock-full of synthesizers I thought I was going to have to meet up with Paul Atredies on Dune.

Now of course, I'll admit being a fan of good Sci-Fi yarns totally colors my perceptions of the game, but Mass Effect 1 was one of my favorite games of all time. Bioware did an amazing job introducing me to a new universe with exciting characters and a universe so well established I actually thought I was going to have to pull a brick out of my pants.

Mass Effect 2 was just as exciting for me. I bought it the day it came out, frothing at the mouth as I fumbled it into the disc tray for my 360, and didn't stop playing until the sun was just breaking over the horizon. Being able to import my character from a previous game isn't exactly a new idea to people who have been playing Bioware games for a while, but the way the choices of your first game impacted the choices of the second was incredible. Adding a "choose your plotline" option for players new to the series was just the icing on the cake.

When I played the second game, I was a little disappointed with some of the changes they made. I mean, I'd rather roll around in my little space APC than fire probes that I constantly have to restock from orbit, and I'd rather buy goods from stores than buy plans for goods from stores before finally using the resources I'd gathered from my probing to manufacture said goods. Minor problems really, most of the game was still solid, and minor issues from the first game were improved.

The second game introduces you to an almost entirely new cast of characters to crew your ship, The Normandy, and the ability to upgrade said ship before you finally go on your supposed suicide mission at the end of the game. I was a little disappointed that you really don't get to interact with your love interests from the first game but so much, but consoled myself with the idea that the time apart would make the emotional impact of the reunion so much sweeter in the third game. Unless of course, you choose to be unfaithful to your paramour from the first game and romance some of the newer characters.

The way choices from previous games played over to the sequels was a hallmark of the series, which was why I was so excited for the final installment, Mass Effect 3. I pre-ordered the game, and practically squealled with delight as I unwrapped it and waited through the installation process on my 360.

Right away, I knew my dreams had been answered. Bioware had successfully completed the series. Each mission led me further into a massive quest to unite the Galaxy against the threat of a race of massive synthetic lifeforms created to destroy all advanced civilizations to make way for the younger species, a massive fleet of galactic reset buttons lurking in the dark between galaxies. Plot point after plot point was hit, the writers were obviously in some kind of epic, pseudo-metaphysical gestalt with mother of all muses! All my characters survived the ending of the second game, and I was rewarded with reunions aplenty! My main character was re-united with his love from the first game, then went on to help restore the ability to reproduce to a practically neutered species. I engineered a lasting peace between a race of synthetic lifeforms and the creators who had been chased off-planet after they failed to destroy their unexpectedly sentient creations!

Near the end of the game, I was still bouncing in my seat as I roamed the galaxy, collecting lost artifacts and ships to add to the might of my already-growing super-fleet. With all in readiness, I finally initated the sequence of events that would end the game.

After an epic space battle cinematic, I managed to reconstitute myself from the pile of nerd on the floor and proceeded to fight my way across London in a desperate bid to save not only the then-occupied Earth, but also the rest of the galaxy. The ground battle was even more epic than the one in space, mostly because I could control my character in the fighting. Enemies fell before the combined might of my squad, my chosen love interest throwing enemies willy-nilly with her telekinetic prowess, even as my other favorite character, essentially your main character's best friend, mowed down mook after mook, occasionally popping up to decimate an enemy's shielding before I reduced the hapless monster to a flaming corpse. Yay for ammo that burns people!

And then, things got bad. As my character led the final heroic charge, a stray blast from one of the monstrous robo-squid took out my entire party. My main character stood, horribly wounded and holding only a pistol, to struggle onwards. At that point, I was saddened by the loss of my blue-skinned space-amazon, but still excited that I would be able to take my In-Character revenge on my enemies.

After staggering down a hall of corpses, I came upon my nemesis, a man who had brought my character back from death for the express purpose of winning the war and advancing the interests of humanity over those of the other races. Sadly, his zeal got the better of him throughout the series, and he ended up "more machine than man, twisted and evil."

In a mighty display of super-heroic dialogue, I managed to convince this villain that his plans were flawed, that he had fallen under the sway of the very monsters he had set out to defeat. The final villain defeated without firing a single shot, I eagerly stepped forward to claim my victory, to see the culmination of every choice I had made in a series of games that I had played since 2007. Would my unfailing heroism be rewarded with a giant awards ceremony? Would my character somehow manage to find his lady love amongst the ruined rubble of the battlefield, miraculously unharmed? Would I see a future where they lived happily ever after, their offspring living for millenia, as the Mother's species was wont to do? Would I die, and in dying be rewarded with a funeral ceremony, being laid to rest next to my character's beloved? What splendors could possibly be in store for my Ultimate Good Guy?

Instead, I was given a stereotypical "pick-an-ending". The only twist? I died in all of them. And not only I die, but the choices were delivered by an AI that took the form of a child my character had seen die earlier in the game, and had had nightmares about the rest of the time.

And the choices were thus:

Destroy the destroyers by snuffing out all synthetic life forms, including the race of machines I had worked so hard to reunite with their creators, as well as the cybernetics that kept my character alive after he had been resurrected. The massive space-transit system that gave the series it's name was destroyed in the process, trapping the myriad species in their respective corners of the galaxy, and dooming many to death as their colonies were cut off from vital supply routes. Aparrently you can survive this ending, though it sucks because half of your crew can't survive without the food grown on their respective planets.

Fuse synthetic and organic life-forms into some kind of new fusion species, through the magic of the newly-revealed Starchild AI. You die, but the majority of your crew lives on in some kind of techno-organic Eden, each of them glittering and glowing with the eerie green light of their new fusion species. Oh, and the massive space-transit system that gave the series it's name was destroyed in the process, trapping the myriad species in their respective corners of the galaxy, and dooming many to death as their colonies were cut off from vital supply routes.

Fulfill your greatest enemy's desire and take control of the monstrous robo-squids, bending them to your wish to serve Man even as your body is destroyed, your life extinguished. The process is not perfect, however, as the massive space-transit system that gave the series it's name was destroyed in the process, trapping the myriad species in their respective corners of the galaxy, and dooming many to death as their colonies were cut off from vital supply routes.

So none of the choices made across the series meant a thing. Loyally buying every game and pausing to consider the ramifications of each action was not rewarded. Instead, I find that I have played a series of games on and off for roughly four to five years for an ending that basically consists of a giant middle finger from a developer that up until now, had never failed to deliver a satisfying ending to an epic RPG.

Why spend so much time developing an excellent universe, why even present me with the ability to affect so much of the universe across three games, why allow those choices to carry through, each game, and then discard the entire premise of the series for a lazily-written choose-your-ending that flies in the face of the game's Sci-fi roots? I mean, why bother even writing a story so compelling, so amazingly beautiful that I become emotionally invested in the goings-on of the characters if you're going to destroy everything they've worked for in what amounts to the universe's greatest Pyrric Victory?

I don't even know that I want to buy any more Bioware games after this. I mean, I've already bought the Old Republic, so I'll probably give that a try, but I don't know that I'll be able to look at their name on a game and feel compelled to buy it. I certainly know that I can't trust them to deliver a satisfying ending that feels like I've accomplished something.

Maybe they wanted to go for a "futility of life" thing, I don't know. Or a Promethean "Man is not ready for such power" moral. Heck, for all I know they want to make people quit playing video games and force them to go out into the real world and get lives, a prospect I do not relish.

Although in my opinion, it's another ploy to make people buy the eventual Down Loadable Content, you know, the one that will "fix the endings" and give us what we paid sixty dollars to see the first time. If I end up being right, I weep for the medium. If I'm right, I don't know that I'll be able to afford to keep playing.

So yeah, Mass Effect: Great, great series, except for the last fifteen minutes.

Sheppard doesn't die in all 3 endings,
The one where you destroy the reapers, (if your readyness is high enough, and your fleets are strong enough, after the credits you supposedly see shep, survive in a pile of rubble.

The control the reapers one, Shep becomes part of the catalyst, that controls the reapers. He's still alive, minus a physical body.

When all organic & synthetic life, becomes symbiotic witheach other, Sheppard is litterally alive in every single living thing in the galaxy. *btw, this also includes tech besides cybernetics, if you will, the entire galaxy goes back into the dark ages*

Also, didn't you see Stargazer & the child talk after the credits? shep he aludes that Sheppard had more adventures after ME3,

Mass Relays can actually be rebuilt.
Ah yes, the infernal Galactic Readiness thing. Another irritating idea. Forcing someone to play multiplayer to improve their single-player campaign is irritating to the extreme. Not to mention that we were promised by Bioware that you could still achieve the best endings without touching the multiplayer. To those interested, my fleet was maxed out, but my readiness remained at %50 throughout the course of the game. So in my experience, Shepard died. As to the other endings, though...

1. I'll admit that it is indeed possible for Shepard to live through the Destroy Reapers ending, but you have to sacrifice both EDI and the Geth to achieve victory, so while you may survive, it's not an ending I would prefer.

2. In the Control the Reapers ending, I'd disagree that Shepard is alive at all. In becoming a part of the Catalyst, he sacrifices both his body and humanity. The resulting fusion of the AI and Shepard's consciousness would probably be a new being, neither Shepard nor Catalyst. Whatever it would be, it wouldn't be Shepard.

3. I wouldn't think that the Synthesis ending would mean Shepard was alive either. Sure, maybe his cells were the blueprint for whatever was done, but his consciousness was erased in the process.

I'm pretty sure you weren't saying that Shepard didn't die in any of the endings, I just felt it would be appropriate to respond to each ending as you mentioned them.

As to the Stargazer thing, he never says whether or not the next story is sequential. Seeing how the game ended, in fact, I think the next one, if they make a next one, might be a prequel, perhaps telling the story of Shepard before he was a Spectre, possibly based on the chosen background.

Also, the child says "The Shepard." Which sounds almost like a title, so for all we know, it could be about his descendants, or perhaps someone calling themselves Shepard in the future.

Needless to say, I didn't like the endings. And needless to say, I still don't like them.
*note not trying to be arguementive or anything, just tossing in some of the things I though about the ending, with other things I've read and the other crazy theories out there.*

The Shepard being alive, is even having his physical body destroyed, is purely on a philisophical level. Aside from him emerging from the rubble in the 'destroy all reapers' ending, It goes along with several of the concepts discussed between shepard, and EDI, and even the Geth vs the Quarians through out the game. It really biols down to transhumanism.

Escentially, think of it this way.

Theres plenty of Shepard cells just... laying around. Ready to be cloned.

If Shepards consciousness is infused in every living being in the galaxy, so to, would his clones. (Can you say... Dune? Duncan Idaho?)

In the catalyst one, His consciousness has now merged with it. And is 'controlling' the galaxy through the reapers. (Piss the shepard off, go after humanity? get reapers on you) But it would be possible, to take that 'catalyst' and put it back into a shep clone.

And the rubble ending?
Same as from ME2. He's probably very..... charred. But possible to 'fix' him again... Its all possible, and it all could be a dream, He could have been imagining it all on his death bed. Or, he could have been under reaper indoctrination almost the entire time, and not even know it.

Though it is odd, some say that at the end of the Stargazer video? It says 'GO BUY MORE DLC'. >_<
Nice, although once again, the whole "space magic" thing really seems to me to go against the harder Sci-Fi feel of the whole series. I was impressed that they even tried to explain why there were telekinetics and whatnot. Most people just go with "It's the future. Mind powers. Whatever."

Also, this amused me.

But yes, I agree. If they force us to buy DLC for better endings, I'll be upset. I'm more hoping that they'll release an update on April 1 that gives us the real endings, proving this whole business an elaborate April Fool's joke.

Hell, maybe the whole thing will end up being some kind of dream after Shepard goes down under that Reaper's beam, and he wakes up to find himself in a hospital instead.
the only thing about all that is, I swear there was another instance, where shep 'should' have died, but got up almost 'miraculously' like at the end. really makes me wonder how 'far' back this 'dream state' extends.

One of the theories is that the 'reason' why some of the 'vanguard' choices, are more 'renegade' and the renegade choices maybe more 'vanguard' in nature, is due to a possible 'reaper' indoctrination. (they also theorize, that at the end, the 'letters' on the path up, are 'reversed'. indicating that the 'right' choice is 'wrong' and the 'wrong' choice is 'right'.

And to me, it still seems that the whole 'right or wrong' choice? are both wrong, the so called 'neutral' choice IMO is the BEST outcome from both.