I finished Mass Effect 3 the other night and I am now feeling somewhat bereft (and a few other things which I’ll go on to) seeing as Bioware have stated this is their last ME game with Shepard and it was always only going to be a trilogy. It was sort of how I felt after I’d finished watching all 7 series Buffy, you miss all the conversations the joy of learning the new stuff. Yes you can watch/play again but its not quite the same as the first time through, although still as enjoyable. Maybe you think that’s sad (I don’t mean in the boo-hoo-hoo way), but if you think how much time you invest into Shepard, you make her (or him) your’s, its you’re decisions. Its not like finishing an Epic Fantasy series or something similar, yes you do invest in the characters there, and you get scared and happy for them but when you have to decide if you will forge this alliance or not, if you will tell these people off or not when you get a choice in the decisions, you become much more attached to the whole world.
I am going to hide the rest of my post as there will be spoilers, the first little bit less so as I talk about the game and the second bit well, I’m talking about The End bit so yes quite a lot of spoilers there.
DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS. You have been warned.
First of all I do love this game, in a way I enjoyed it perhaps more than 1 and 2. (perhaps because there was less faffing about scanning planets ;)) I absolutly adored the writing, emotional and poignant in all the right places. It felt tight and the acting especially Jennifer Hale’s was spot on. (FemShep all the way.) I love the way she has of making Shepard’s voice break a bit under the strain of all that pressure without ever actually breaking. And that last bit, the bit before you get your choice, well that was heartbreaking. Ms Hale you have out done yourself. Thank you.
I loved the game play, the way the terrain felt a lot more dynamic than it has done previously, yes you still move from cover to cover but it’s not quite as regimentation as it has been previously. Also none of this using the same map stuff. No mini games either when you’re trying to hack/fix things. Doors that your hacking just take longer to open. I really liked this dymanic as with the ones where you have to get a party member to fix things while you protect them. I didn’t really find myself frustrated by anything game play wise (although I noticed that sometimes powers did not want to activate and I had a couple of weird glitches where the W key was moving me to the left instead of forward).
Although I have to say *spoiler here* that having to run towards/fire a guidance beam at aReapers as they try and disintegrate you with their devastating beam weapon is terrifying and where I had the most reloads – particularly on the second one. Again I have to gush about the writing as this reminds me of you talking to Wrex over the radio as you try and deal with the first one. The simplicity of him telling you to hurry up and Shepard simply yelling ‘Theres a Reaper in my way Wrex!’ as a Reaper tries to step on you. Makes me chuckle – and wonder what happens if you got Wrex killed previously?!
Which brings me back around to the writing and the scenes. I enjoyed them all, and I’m really glad Shepard got to make up with Kaiden and get back together. But oddly perhaps the thing I will miss the most is not my Shepard’s relationship with Kaiden (I do like my romances in bioware’s games). But Garrus Vakarian. Now I’m not a shipper, I really can’t see Shepard and Garrus romantically involved, but as your best friend? He’s fantastic. And yes Liara and Tali are you’re best friends too, but Garrus. Shepard and him tend to see things in a similar light, he’s military like Shepard and I think they both have the same sense of humour. You are both in a similar position with your people. The ‘Experts’ on Reapers. I think Garrus understands Shepard better than anyone else. Throughout all of ME3 everything his said always worked well to pick Shepard up again. And actually my favourite moment(s) (there’s 2) were both with Garrus. The first was you’re little break from it all on the Citadel. Shepard and Garrus just have such an easy time talking to each other, winding each other up. I loved how relaxed they both were. And the second one was you’re last conversation with Garrus before the end game. How you’ll go for a drink after all the crap is over and that it’s Shepard and Vakarian all the way, has been from the start. I’m going to miss that.
And now on to my thoughts of The End bit. *MAJOR SPOILERS HERE* I have seen a few posts on this and I agree with some peoples but I have a few things I want to comment on.
The end choices. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m fine with these to be honest, I found them a bit weird when first presented but…. I don’t really know what I expected of the ending – killing the reapers sure and that is what I achieved. I’ve seen people mention that its all a Deus Ex Machina and well it is, but the Reapers are so goddamned powerful how else are you going to defeat them without a superweapon? I have to assume that the writers always had an idea that they would need this for you to ‘win’ and it is/isn’t thrown at you at the last minute, I mean you know about it all through ME3 but… you only find out about it IN ME3. *shrugs* I guess I’m just rather pragmatic about it I just simply could not see the galaxy winning a war of attrition against the Reapers. Whether this was a good idea writing wise I’m not sure, I suspect others are more bothered by this than I am. I was more interested in all the relationships with you’re crew etc.
If you want to argue that you don’t really get a choice then.. as pointed out in an article here. In a way you don’t have a choice, both paragon and renegade tend to get a similar result even though they use different methods. It’s a very clever way to make the story somewhat linear (as in overall you have the same outcomes ish.. even though its very different methodology.)
If you’re pissed that you got the ending where Shepard dies. (There is only one (might be two) where s/he survives – maybe a few more options for this would have been nice.) then what else did you expect? You are fighting in an APOCALYPTIC WAR for the fate of the whole galaxy. People die. ME is not some happy fairytale it is quite gritty, (hello have you seen the shit Cerberus does?!) So while I didn’t want her to die, while I would have liked to have her retire somewhere with Kaiden and perhaps have mini Shepards running around. (Hmm actually can’t quite see that happening, maybe she’d have adopted and to be honest can’t see her staying still and quiet for long.) But it would have not been believable to me. An ending like that would have pissed me off if I’m honest. In a way it already seemed to be stretching it that Anderson was still alive on Earth what with the Reapers being there while you pulled the alliances together. But then I’m used writers (Joe Abercrombie and GRRM) killing people off/doing horrid shit that can make things worse, and as far as the galaxy is concerned if Shepard dies then s/he does die a hero. But then I will admit this is very subjective depending on the person. Bioware had a fine line to walk to get an ending people would like/find believable.
So for me personally I don’t think there is a problem with the choices of how to defeat the reapers. The issue I have arises from the lack of any real Epilogue. I don’t know what happened to my crew, my allies, the rest of the galaxy! The whole galaxy is almost an apocalyptic wasteland! What are people doing to pick up the pieces? What happens if the mass relays get destroyed (as they do if you choose synergy)? Who survives from my crew? (How did EDI get onto the Normandy when she was Earth?! – That’s the one I just can’t puzzle out.)
Games like Baldur’s Gate, Never Winter Nights, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vagas. ALL of these had some bit at the ending telling you what happened to the people in your party and such depending on what choices you made in the game. The Fallout games have a few variations on ending slides for people and places. Its not like this is stuff that HAS to be animated text/narration works perfectly fine! (Or have we moved on from this for some reason?) And that really is all I want. Just tell me who is dead/alive. Its the not knowing thats the problem. And if Shepard dies then having something like what you get at the end of DAO if you get your Warden killed makes it worth it. Its sad, but does give more meaning to the sacrifice. (Especially as there seems to only be one way to survive and you probably have to do everything perfectly to survive – makes me want to actually buy a walk through for the first time ever so I can get this!)
I will admit I’m a little bit irked by people who have played every bioware game and I suspect enjoyed them all, to suddenly go. ‘I’m never going to play a Bioware game again because of those last 5 mins of ME3!’ Seriously? Yes I agree I don’t understand either why they did that and I am disappointed. I don’t know why they seemed to think a bit more closure wasn’t required for the end game. But seriously? You’re going to allow 5 minutes and simply ignore all those hours of fun, good writing and such that you’ve had in all the other games? I’m kind of equating this a bit to a certain characters death in A Game of Thrones by GRRM, where people have a tendency to ‘Throw the book at the wall’ at that point. Most people tend to pick it up eventually and keep reading. And I know this isn’t quite the same – in the book its for plot purposes in ME3 its…. well I’ll be honest I don’t know what it is.
I’m not letting this ruin the fact that I love Bioware games, I’m just hoping that they do take what has been said on board and release something to give more of an epilogue. I don’t need it to be animated. Narrated text would be fine (like Ron Perlman’s narration in Fallout).
And considering I’m almost pushing 2000 words on this post I think I’ve said quite enough. I loved the games, I haven’t been put off playing them. I am considering a replay from ME1 (it’s been long enough) but yes an ending with more of an epilogue would be nice.