Mass Effect 3 Fans Just Can’t Be Pleased – SPOILERS – ALSO KINDA RANTY


Look, I was there with you all when we got pissed off about the ending. I called for DLC from Bioware. I even defended the idea of an author compromising their work to please their audience. But I kept some perspective. Bioware have promised  to give us the closure we were all saying we wanted. I respect that they don’t want to change or rewrite the endings they have or add a new one, and I don’t think they should.

This is Shepard’s story, and you may want your to raise little blue babies with Liara, but to me a story this big about someone this important can only end with that person dying. We can respectfully disagree on that.

But according to a poll of nearly 3,000 players on Bioware’s forum had 84% of participants say that the new ending DLC isn’t enough. Apparently, getting what we asked for isn’t good enough. We need the same “epic battles” and cookie-cutter happy endings everybody else needs.

But about that battle…were you not there? Maruaders and Brutes and Banshees spawning from four different locations, completely encircling you in a place with no adequate cover as you fought desperately for the future of all sentient life against impossible odds? Did I just dream that? Is that part of the Indoctrination Theory too now?

I didn’t really mind that the endings were more Arthur C. Clarke than Star Wars. It was their lack of integration and explanation that irked me. That looks to be what they’re fixing. And I can work with that. In fact, I’ve gotten over the ending completely now. By the time they’d announced the new DLC, I’d stopped caring.

Because it’s just a video game.

Like Star Wars is just a bunch of films, Transformers is just an old (and kinda bad) cartoon. These are huge, formative parts of various eras of our lives but that doesn’t mean we have to hold them to these unreachable standards. And we shouldn’t be so damn bitchy when we don’t like what we get.

Video games and films and cartoons and comics and all that stuff are important. I get it. Really, I do. I’m right there arguing that pop culture is  more vital and culturally truthful  than any amount of “High Art”. But at the end of the day, politics, the environment, charitable works, scientific advancement, your job/grades/social life/love life/whatever are more important things to spend your time on.

Mass Effect was a trilogy that tried to give a rich, original universe and compelling, transmutable story on a scope that just seems to be too big for them to really pull off.  Bioware really don’t deserve this level of hate.  They gave us Baldur’s GateJade EmpireDragon AgeKOTORThe Old Republic. Remember all that stuff? Yeah. Good stuff.

In fact, Bioware’s one of the most consistently good studios out there. Who else really matches up to them? Valve sure, but who else can you name that’s been delivering such consistently good games for so long?

And considering the wealth of wonders the Mass Effect trilogy has given me, let alone their other works, I can forgive them a shitty ending.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Willow Wood
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 15:15:38

    This was a really good rant. I hope plenty of annoying, bitchy Mass Effect fans will read it. I don’t care how mean that sounds. I’m sick of them on my Twitter Timeline and their inability to understand how difficult it is to make and write a videogame, let alone consistently brilliant ones.

    And Bioware don’t owe us anything. It’s like saying J.K.Rowling owes her fans another Harry Potter book exactly as they ask for because she’s popular now, and, well they’re entitled. Sorry, why can’t Bioware continue to write what they want? At least they’re trying to please their fans and asking for opinions. But at the end of the day, we’re being told a story. We aren’t the writers of Mass Effect no matter how much we love it.

    This is the ending BIOWARE was happy with. Bah. I haven’t even played the fucking game and I’m angry at the fans. Mostly because I try and avoid the bitchy Dragon Age community. I’m getting off your blog now. //rant-of-agreement-over

    Reply

    • jackcalico
      Apr 15, 2012 @ 16:37:56

      I don’t disagree with wanting extra closure like they’re providing for the ending, and I do kinda think an author owe their audience something considering the level of investment a fan has. To me JK did kinda owe us a book that tied up the loose ends and gave us a lot of memorable moments (which we totally got).

      But I think after Bioware announced the new Extended Cut DLC, they’ve “paid” for whatever problems the ending had. Now the fans are being butthurt over it for no real reason.

      Like with the Star Wars Kinect dance stuff which is obviously balsphemy and I definitely in no way think of them as funny at all…

      Reply

  2. corneilius5188
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 15:19:19

    R’amen

    Reply

  3. Anonymous
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 00:46:42

    Mass Effect 3. It’s the end of an epic trilogy. A series that is beloved by many fans. And yet in this final installment, the series is riddled with controversy and littered with disappointment. Fans – worldwide – are crying foul while websites across the globe are giving the finale to Commander Shepard’s adventures scores at the highest of their ratings systems. Why is there such a huge divide? Let’s delve inside and take a look.

    GAMEPLAY

    Essentially, if you’ve played Mass Effect 2 then you’ll have no issues with Mass Effect 3. The controls, combat system, everything is the same pretty much with a few additional tweaks. You can lunge over things and such and climbs ladders now. It’s a small but welcome improvement over the previous entry, but let’s be honest, ME2 was a fantastic improvement over the first installment. One thing I’ve noticed, at least in the Xbox 360 version, is that the A button is excessively used. It’s the action button, the dodge button and in multiplayer it is the heal teammate button. I can’t possibly be the only person who struggles with rolling around while trying to heal my teammate because I’m dodging instead of activating the healing sequence.

    VISUALS

    Crisp, clean and with minimal quality issues, the graphics in the game were beautiful. I wouldn’t say flawless, but high quality none the less. It’s a step above the previous two games, which is expected from a series. The videos of certain sequences were especially well done, including the final battle for Earth. A lot of detail went into this. However, the motion in some of these FMV sequences can still look a little wooden and facial expressions seem forced. It’s like watching a great movie with weak acting. This unfortunately has been the way it has been through all of the games, and a minor detail that the voice acting and quality of the story provide the ability to overlook.

    SOUNDS

    All the same great voice actors are here, and as usual the quality is great. I’m not going to say much else about the sound because really the music score is great and most games get the explosions and gun fire right so there isn’t a lot to critique beyond that and the voice acting. It doesn’t blow your mind, but it is quite good.

    GAME DESIGN

    When I played the first Mass Effect, I was amazed at the size of the game. Almost every planet you could land on and explore. The Citadel was massive. It was very impressive. Mass Effect 2 took that away and streamlined the process of planet jumping but it definitely made the galaxy feel smaller. With this installment, the universe seems tiny. And linear. Very linear. Now I understand the game is supposed to set with a sense of urgency and trying to accomplish these certain tasks to get things done, but it just felt rushed to me. It’s the same feeling I had playing Dragon Age 2 (another Bioware sequel). The second game in that series suffered from what feels like a rushed storyline and design. When most of the areas in the game are just recycled version of the same 4 or 5 areas, it feels rushed. Fortunately, Mass Effect 3 doesn’t suffer from this problem; however the galaxy sure seems small this time around.

    STORYLINE

    Let me start off by saying I thoroughly enjoyed the story for the third game in a row. Unfortunately, by the time the game has ended, the missions you go on, the party members you pick up, the choices that you make – none of it seems to matter. They give some of the storyline arcs some meaning by killing off some of the companions from the previous games that you had grown attached to, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the story by the end is flawed. After pouring hundreds of hours of your life into the game over the course of three games, I expected the choices I made along the way to matter. Did sacrificing the council in the first game make a huge difference? No. Did giving the collector base to Cerberus in the second game make a difference? No. They are mentioned, but the repercussions of these decisions are never felt.

    Similarly, certain things you do in the game don’t appear to have any impact. If you saved the Rachni in the first game, you have a mission to add them to your war assets, but beyond a video conference with Admiral Hackett, that’s it. You don’t see the Rachni helping in the battles at the end, you don’t see them building the Crucible – nothing. The same thing can be said for the geth after ending the war between them and the quarians. Or the mercenaries.

    Now we get to the part that has caused the most controversy and honestly has delayed this review as a whole. The game’s ending. Now, I myself haven’t had an extreme hatred for the ending the game gives, but I can agree with the majority when I say that it is very, very disappointing and from basically every aspect. This game’s theme of apparent lazy writing overall transcends into its fullest in the last 5 minutes of the game. I want everyone to understand right away that while I was disappointed that Shepard dies at the end (supposedly), that isn’t what upset me about the ending. The entire game prepares you for Shepard to die. In fact, the way it was written you expect it to happen. The problem I have is with the fact that everything you did in the previous games, everything you did in the hours leading up to the final battle, the war assets, the unification of races – none of it matters. They want you to believe that you have a dozen endings out there, but let’s be honest here. It’s one ending. One. There might be a dozen ways that ending can play out, but it’s all the same. That’s why people are pissed. This was a game series where choice was everything. Everything you said, everything you did, it had consequences right up until the end. And even that isn’t the worst. The worst part is the M. Night Shyamalan plot twist at the end. It could have been Anderson betraying you. It could have been a lot of things. What we got was a cop out. And the reasoning behind it? Synthetics to harvest and destroy organics so that other synthetics don’t destroy them? Plot twists + plot holes + broken promises = unhappy consumers. Word is that the ending will be addressed in some DLC. This review is of the finished product that I paid $80 for (I bought the N7 Collector’s Edition).

    In the end, Mass Effect 3 seems to have suffered the same fate as Dragon Age 2. It feels like a rushed product. That’s not to say it isn’t a great game. Because it is. It just fell a little flat. Artistic vision or not, there are ways to make a “hero dies at the end” story satisfying. A prime example of this is the movie Gladiator. After randomly watching this movie the other night, I saw great comparisons to Mass Effect 3. The dream-like visions, the hero dying in the end, the fact that the conclusion would be the same whether or not he was able to pass on the wishes of Marcus Aurelius after slaying Commodus due to political changes – it’s all there.

    In the end, I’m fine with how the game ended. I’m not going to raise hell for them to change the ending or their “artistic vision.” But when it comes to preordering the next Bioware game and dropping the extra money for a “special edition,” I’ll be thinking twice. It’s a great game, but they also seriously dropped the ball in some areas. After playing through both Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effects 1 and 2, Dragon Ages 1 and 2 and now finally the third Mass Effect … I’ve come to expect better than what we received. In Dragon Age 2 and in this game, I enjoyed them both, but I wasn’t satisfied. Bioware has backed themselves into a corner with the quality of their games where each time they have to raise the bar. Their franchises aren’t Call of Duty or Madden where new maps or a roster update will appease their fanbase. We’re patient consumers. Just give us a product we’re proud of.

    Reply

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  5. Freeronniedobbs
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 19:38:28

    “Apparently, getting what we asked for isn’t good enough. We need the same “epic battles” and cookie-cutter happy endings everybody else needs.”

    1. No one asked for the DLC we’re getting. NO ONE.

    2. The end of an epic space adventure trilogy is NOT the place for a pretentious, dark for the sake of dark, art house, bullshit ending.

    3. Liking “non-stereotypical” dark depressing endings doesn’t make you refined, or deep, or thoughtful, hell this whole rant proves you aren’t the last one.

    4. Dark endings aren’t more realistic.

    5. Yeah we need the same epic battles, considering the ENTIRE series is based around one gigantic EPIC BATTLE. Sorry it’s too “mainstream” for you.

    When you take a boss fight out of a game, because you think its “too video-gamey” you’re an idiot. When you scrap a conversation because you suddenly decide the answers aren’t important, you’re an asshole.

    6. What we don’t need is a lame, half assed meet you a quarter way DLC pack that merely explains the garbage.

    7. This EC DLC is a cheap, lazy way, of trying to placate fans without putting forth any REAL effort, and still stubbornly sticking by the tripe they produced.

    They aren’t fixing anything, they’re simply explaining why their shit stinks. Look at Bethesda, a company that still cares about their customers, Fallout 3’s horrible ending, was fixed with an entire expansion pack full of new content. Bioware doesn’t care enough to do that. Even if they did, EA wouldn’t let them.

    So screw you, Bioware isn’t being generous, they aren’t listening to fans, they’re doing whatever they want and stopped caring a long time ago. They aren’t giving the player base what we wanted, and you fucking know it.

    There is a reason Drew Karpyshyn and Brent Knowles quit.

    Reply

    • jackcalico
      Apr 25, 2012 @ 21:17:50

      I’d take umbridge with your tone, but I was rather ranty. Please, allow me to just clarify what I was trying to say.

      1) Actually, the majority of people I’ve spoken to about it have been saying that it’s the lack of explanation of how the various plot threads and the endings themselves played out that irks them most, and what they wanted to see addressed.

      2) I wouldn’t describe the ending in any of those terms. Sure, there are dark elements and the sudden introduction of the Crucible’s options is pretty much an asspull, but I don’t think of them as pretentious. As to whether a better ending could have been made, I agree that there could be.

      3) I know this. I love my big happy endings, but I don’t think that Mass Effect should have a big happy ending. The themes of sacrifice and pyhrric vistories have been present in all three games and the background lore, such as with Virmire, the ability for so many characters and even entire races to die. For the ending to reflect is, I feel, appropriate.

      Also, from a pragmatic standpoint, killing Shepard is the best way to stop him from appearing in any games they want to set in the ME universe after 3.

      4) They aren’t. Neither are happy endings. It depends on the context they’re used in. I’d call Mass Effect’s general ending, such as Shepard and Anderson dying, to be bittersweet.

      5) When I said we didn’t need that, I meant we didn’t need to spend hours slogging through battlefields to reach the ending. The final battle on Earth WAS too short, but we didn’t need to fight for every inch ourselves and have Shepard do everything that needed to be done. But yes, I really wish there’d been more scenes of other characters duking it out.
      with the Reaper forces.

      As for the lack of a boss fight, what is there that Shepard and co could fight that’d fit? Nothing. And the idea of holding the line for one desperate chance to get to the Citadel against wave after wave of monstrously powerful regular baddies fits better with the thematic and mechanical feel of the third game.

      6) As it stands, the endings are all bullshit. For me, that’s because it’s not explained. I have faith enough in Bioware that when they explain what happened to all the characters and races and with the endings we chose, it will all work much better. Maybe it won’t, maybe it’ll still be bullshit. But we can’t know yet if this new DLC will be any good, and shouldn’t judge it prematurely.

      7) I respect that they’re sticking to their guns but still listening to their fans enough that they are going to make this.

      And as for this being lazy, I have two things to say. 1) making a new ending DLC will not be cheap or easy. With the trilogy over, the Mass Effect studio would either have been moving onto a new spinoff or winding down to just the folks needed for bugs & patches and supporting the online mode. Instead, they’re going to have to invest millions of dollars and thousands of man hours into creating this new content. 2) You’ve not clarified what else they should do. If they completely remade the whole “take back Earth” sequence, it’d take at least six months, and they would not be able to give it away free. You’d be paying a large amount for either a gigantic DLC file or an entire new disc.

      I know that this ending fiasco has caused a huge scandal and unfortunately marred the reputation of a truly excellent game that stands as one of the best and most emotionally powerful that I’ve ever played.

      This really is Bioware being generous in my opinion. They’re working to give their fans what they want, and trust me, they’ll be taking this incredibly deeply and personally as creators. And I’m afraid I know nothing of the sort. In my eyes, this is a mature response and fair compromise.

      You are free to disagree with this, and I hope that now you understand where I was coming from better.

      Reply

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