Mass Effect 3: A Mass Failure?

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To all those who have not played the game: Spoilers ahead.

Mass Effect 3 is the finale of the Mass Effect trilogy, and as the conclusion to such an epic series, fans expected it to be epic. Was it an epic conclusion? This is the question that has divided the gaming community, causing arguments in forums, reaction videos on YouTube, and angry Facebook posts (I myself am actually guilty of leaving an angry post on BioWare’s Facebook page) over the endings.  However, after a second play through, I realized that giving the game a rating of a 2.5 just because of the ending is not fair. I believe the entire BioWare team, just as it deserves a slap in the face for the endings, deserves credit for every other aspect of the game, which was almost perfect.

The voice acting was amazing; the graphics were excellent; and the cleverness of this script surpassed those of the past two games, something I did not think could be done. To top it all off, the musical score to this game has to be the best musical score I have ever heard. Don’t get me wrong, the scores to Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 were excellent. However, the music for Mass Effect 3 conveys an incredibly complex combination of determination, desperation, and fear in a way I had not previously thought possible. Prior to playing this game I was not aware of the powerful emotions music could elicit.

For all this, BioWare deserves a cookie. Heck, they deserve a whole batch of cookies for all of this. The ending, however,  merits no baked goods of any sort. My problem (and the problem of millions of other fans) is this: BioWare is a company that prides itself on making games where the player chooses what happens. Anyone who has played any of Bioware’s other games, like the Dragon Age series, know that the endings to those games could have played out in many different ways. In Mass Effect 3, there were only three. All three ended with the Mass Relays, the source of intergalactic transport and the reason for the advanced state of organic civilization, being destroyed and all three end in Commander Shepard dying/on the verge of death and separated from his/her crew forever because the Mass Relays were destroyed.

Now, my problem is not that Shepard dies and nobody gets a happily ever after. Actually, I think that this is very realistic and is a good ending. No, my problem is that all three endings were very, very, very similar. I, along with God knows how many other people, are livid because Bioware took away from us the very reason we play Mass Effect: the ability to make choices. I know of many people who literally burst into tears because of the ending, and I know many others who were so angry that they broke their Xboxes. Personally, I felt really nauseated and saddened upon finishing my first play. However, online forums have given me a reason to have hope for the future. Rumor has it that a DLC will be released sometime in the future, and BioWare has confirmed that it is taking into account all player feedback.

So, what can fans expect? Honestly, I have no clue. The idea of adding on endings in not an entirely new idea; it was done with Fallout 3 a few years ago. However, this raises questions: Should an artist, in this case Bioware, change their artwork because people don’t like it? Can the damage done to the series even be repaired? And if BioWare does make a DLC with more endings, how many endings will there be and when can we expect it? Only time will tell if BioWare will, or even can, repair the damage it has caused to its fan base.

 

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