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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Mass Effect 3 (Spoilers Within)

   
Author Topic: Mass Effect 3 (Spoilers Within)
Aros
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So, I understand the criticism that ME3 got from a lot of fans. Though I hate it for entirely different reasons.

I played the game without playing the first two. As the first was never released for the PS3, I might not ever play it. I freakin' loved it . . . it's probably the best Star Wars movie since Jedi.

After beating ME3, I started ME2. All I can say is WHAT!?!?!?!?

ME2 has WAY more planets to explore, way more party members, way more missions, a much larger story, vehicles, etc. So they improved the combat system in ME3. Cool. But why did they throw out everything else? Not to mention that the biotics are way dumbed down.

I thought that ME3 was brilliant. After playing ME2, however, I'm super disappointed with it. I'm just left thinking how cool it could have been if the level of detail had been sustained or expanded.

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Tarrsk
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Keep in mind that a lot of that stuff was originally DLC (specifically the vehicle and a number of the characters/ missions). As someone who took a ridiculously completionist approach to both ME2 and ME3, trust me when I say that ME3 has just as much content as "pre-DLC ME2." The only thing there's less of is planet scanning, and frankly that's a GOOD thing.
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AchillesHeel
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ME2 has more party members because they used as few return characters from ME1 as possible, and seeing as the whole story mechanic is built on the suicide mission and gaining loyalty from everyone they used party characters as content rather than outside events. It was simple to write and incorporate the loyalty missions into the whole game schematic, whereas the base missions in ME3 while great for the multiplayer were extremely unmemorable.

They got to tell great stories, with hardly any reason to fit into the overall theme. I would have enjoyed more interaction with now huge cast in ME3, more than "what are doing lately? oh that's cool... nah I got my own stuff to take care of." The death of Mordin really upset me, Thane as well but I knew it was coming. I liked saving those kids with Jack, Legion made me happy and sad at the same time. But I can't remember anything too interesting about my direct interaction with the other characters that impressed the importance to the three game story.

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Dan_Frank
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Part of the difference is in pacing, too, Aros. In ME2 you're not on a tight schedule until near the end. So you have a lot of time to goof around and the game feels more sprawled out.

ME3 is, comparatively, much tighter. Everything is supposed to tie back to the war effort in a tangible way. It dramatically changes the way the game is paced.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I was about to say the same stuff about DLC but Tarrsk beat me to it.
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Aros
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But how many "non combat" worlds were there in each game? ME3 only had Citadel. How big were the worlds (much larger in ME2)?

Maybe I missed some content in ME3, as I heard that some optional missions disappeared if done out of sequence. Regardless, ME2 had more worlds, vehicles, more playable characters, etc... Even without the DLC.

I probably missed out on a lot of the character cameos because I didn't play ME2 first. I sided with the Geth and Tali suicided -- didn't mean much to me at the time.

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Dan_Frank
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ME2 had zero vehicles without DLC.

You're right that ME2 has more "non combat" worlds... but then, once again, this doesn't seem like an issue of less content so much as an issue of the style and pacing of the story. In ME2, you're taking the fight to the Collectors. The galaxy at large is functioning as normal.

In ME3, nowhere is safe. Even the "non combat" world sees combat.

If you take out time spent scanning planets I don't think ME2 is substantially longer than ME3, so "more worlds" or whatnot doesn't seem like a compelling argument for more content.

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Aros
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Okay, it seems like my opinion doesn't correlate with that of people who played through in the "right order", without the DLC.

I do know that ME3 took me two weekends to beat, and I've spent four on ME2 (and I still haven't met Legion). But I have been taking my time and being completist -- while I went through ME3 at a fast clip.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
But I have been taking my time and being completist -- while I went through ME3 at a fast clip.

That's pretty much the explanation right there.

On replay (to have a different Shepard for ME3) I've beaten ME2 over a single long weekend, and I was even being relatively completionist.

Like all Bioware games (and most Western RPGs in general), they're pretty much exactly as long as you want them to be.

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SteveRogers
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I started playing the first games in this series and was having some real difficulties letting the things I liked about the game take precedence over the things I disliked. And then my xBox died, so I haven't finished it yet.
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twinky
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I finished ME1 in about 40 hours. ME2, 50 hours. ME3, also 50 hours. I wasn't a completionist, but I did a lot of side stuff in each of them.

Despite its interface and gameplay issues, ME1 is the best in the series, IMO.

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SteveRogers
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I was stuck on some driving mission which I kept having to start over because the autosave/checkpoint seemed to be really sporadic. It seemed like sometimes it'd be autosaving every five steps I took, but this mission was almost completely devoid of a checkpoint. I wasn't terribly wild about the combat either.

But I really loved the conversation element and the interactions with other characters.

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Swampjedi
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quote:
Originally posted by twinky:
I finished ME1 in about 40 hours. ME2, 50 hours. ME3, also 50 hours. I wasn't a completionist, but I did a lot of side stuff in each of them.

Despite its interface and gameplay issues, ME1 is the best in the series, IMO.

ME1 is the one I've played through the most. In fact, it may be time for an Insanity run!

ME2 felt less story-focused than the first. ME3 was pretty awesome, in general, even if you include the final few minutes. However, I've not replayed either 2 or 3 yet.

2 felt smaller to me than 1 or 3. That's saying a lot, considering how the missions in 3 are mapped.

The multiplayer in 3 is surprisingly enjoyable, though I haven't played in a while.

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Tarrsk
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ME2 was my favorite of the series, although I loved all three, in varying degrees for various attributes. ME2's ragtag band of party members are some of the most fun, well-developed characters I've encountered in my years of gaming. And "Lair of the Shadow Broker" is probably my single favorite mission in the series.

To be fair to ME1, I played it on Xbox 360, so its horrendous (and pointless) item management system severely dragged down my enjoyment of the game. I much, MUCH preferred the simplified RPG elements of the two sequels.

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Swampjedi
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I downloaded the "extended cut" to ME3 today - has anyone had a chance to look at it yet?
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Despite its interface and gameplay issues, ME1 is the best in the series, IMO.
You know, I didn't think so at first, I couldn't really pick, but looking back, not having played any of them for...hmm, a couple of months now, I think I agree.

I'm not sure if it was simply because the first one, as the first peek into that setting, was just so exhilirating to play as a game. But there were other differences, too-the plot seemed...more refined? Not sure how to put a finger on it. More sophisticated.

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Dan_Frank
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But the writing was markedly worse!

Or at least less consistent.

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Jeff C.
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I still can't get over the horrible ending. Almost a decade of build up for THAT? No thanks. I'm done with Bioware games for now.

I remember playing the first game over the course of three days. It was insanely addictive and I couldn't get enough. I did everything, visited every possible location, rushed to get the DLC as soon as it hit, read every codex. I did everything possible in ME2, except for a few DLC missions; I also didn't read the codex very much. When ME3 hit, I expected an amazing, ground-breaking experience, but that's not what I got. By the time I made it to the end, I was so disappointed with the lack of content, the tacked on multiplayer, and the poor direction of the story, that I just didn't care anymore.

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AchillesHeel
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I haven't played through the new content yet but here are my thoughts on the ending debacle.

I really like the genesis ending, its very scifi in what seems to be the classical sense. The idea of synthetic and organic intelligences hybridizing is straight out of a paper back novel, I'm a sucker for grandiose science fiction. I don't like how so many gamers reacted, demanding rectification as if Bioware had a legal and moral obligation to provide exactly the ending that each player had thought up themselves. It has always struck me as childish and inconsiderate of the fact that these games are a form of art, you cannot force art to be the same thing to everyone. The creators of the game have artistic license, if people are so insulted by the idea then they need to grow up or spend all of their free time doing calculus.

What I don't like is that none of the original writers were on staff for the last game. This was a bad idea, I have no clue why it happened this way but it did, too bad. I would have appreciated more time with the full cast, over three games you literally built your own troop of top tier warriors all so they can holo-message you at the end. And this is the thorn in my craw, the endings were all the same... for everyone. All those little decisions you made? feh. Who cares? ooooh you suppressed the urge to punch the reporter for three games in a row!!! you saved the Rachni Queen, you saved that creepy dude who wanted to recreate the facility that made Jack insane. All of it does not matter. A game that was all about choices ends one of three ways no matter what you did. Just plain dumb.

Even if you had to watch all of your friends die in the final battle, one by one, only to find that the options left to you are all empty victories that will not save the lives you came back from the dead to defend. I would still prefer that to the "pick a slightly different ending cut-scene" that it ended with. And I mean sickening and emotional deaths.

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Tarrsk
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BIG OL' SPOILERS BELOW

----

I liked the original ending, and I really liked the Extended Cut ending - with one exception. I didn't care for the new scene in which the Normandy picks up your squadmates at the base of the Reaper beam. It never bothered me in the first place that they ended up back on the Normandy (it seemed rather obvious to me that anyone who didn't make it to the beam but wasn't instantly incinerated would be evacuated back to wherever they might be useful - in your squad's case, back to their ship). And the new scene breaks up the momentum of the charge towards the beam, and kills a lot of the tension. I mean, Shepard now literally stops running for about a minute to help his injured buddies get away... and then picks up running as if nothing happened. All while Harbinger is sitting right there. Uh, OK then.

Anyway, aside from that minor detail, I was quite satisfied with the endings, old and new. I've expected all along that the ending would be more in line with the Big Ideas science fiction of the 70s than the character-driven epic sci-fi of the present day - Mass Effect was, after all, conceived as a loving tribute to the science fiction of that period. And furthermore, it always seemed obvious to me that the ending would involve Shepard coming face to face with the mind(s) controlling the Reaper, and being given a choice that would forever change the face of the galaxy. And that's exactly what happened. The original ending erred in not sufficiently delving into the consequences of Shepard's choice, but the Extended Cut deals with that rather nicely, I think.

And come on - people really expected that every little decision you made would feed into the ending? I mean, punching the reporter?!

[Most of] those things paid off during the game. They didn't need to affect the ending to have an impact - and if they did, the ending would have been so long and bloated that I guarantee that people would be complaining mightily about that.

The full length of ME3 is about paying off your decisions from previous games. The end of ME3 is very specifically about paying off the war with the Reapers. Anything more than that would be (a) impossible to program and (b) make the ending of "The Return of the King" seem like a freeze frame in comparison.

That being said, I can understand not liking the thematic direction they took the ending, with regards to the whole Catalyst concept. I disagree, but I think it's reasonable.

(Regarding the writers: it's not true that "none of the original writers were on staff for the last game." Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer on ME1, left before ME3, yes. However, Mac Walters, the lead writer of ME3, was also co-lead writer with Karpyshyn on ME2, which in my experience seems to be considered the best written of the three games. And Walters himself is credited as a writer on ME1, according to IMDB. In fact, he and Patrick Weekes worked on all three games.)

[ June 28, 2012, 11:50 PM: Message edited by: Tarrsk ]

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TomDavidson
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I wonder whether we can blame Walters for the giant human reaper thingy.
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Ginol_Enam
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
I still can't get over the horrible ending. Almost a decade of build up for THAT? No thanks. I'm done with Bioware games for now.

I don't understand sentiments like this. You didn't like the 5 (now 10ish) minutes conclusion to a trilogy, so you're forsaking Bioware completely (or, at least, "for now")? This doesn't make sense to me. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you should continue to buy Bioware games for the sole reason that they are made by Bioware. That is also silly. To me, you should make judgements on whether to buy a game on a game by game basis. Does this game look good? Have you heard good reviews? Sure, a developer's previous games can and should flavor your judgements... I just don't see how the last .01% of a trilogy can be so detrimental that you will actively avoid Bioware games despite, assumedly, enjoying at least 2/3s of that trilogy (and possibly more of their games?.
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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by Ginol_Enam:
quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
I still can't get over the horrible ending. Almost a decade of build up for THAT? No thanks. I'm done with Bioware games for now.

I don't understand sentiments like this. You didn't like the 5 (now 10ish) minutes conclusion to a trilogy, so you're forsaking Bioware completely (or, at least, "for now")? This doesn't make sense to me. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you should continue to buy Bioware games for the sole reason that they are made by Bioware. That is also silly. To me, you should make judgements on whether to buy a game on a game by game basis. Does this game look good? Have you heard good reviews? Sure, a developer's previous games can and should flavor your judgements... I just don't see how the last .01% of a trilogy can be so detrimental that you will actively avoid Bioware games despite, assumedly, enjoying at least 2/3s of that trilogy (and possibly more of their games?.
It's not just the ending. There's a lot about the third game I don't like and, in my opinion, it comes off as a cheap cash in. Micro purchases, having to enter a code to get the full experience, day 1 DLC, a horrible ending, shorter game, etc. It's just too much. The simple fact that they ended it with a scene that takes back a promise they made when they first started the series (we're only going to make a trilogy of games with Sheppard, but wait! We need more money, so here's a scene with an old man and a kid that hints at yet another sequel) is enough to make me turn away.

They've also ruined what I liked so much about their other franchises. Dragon Age was superb, but the sequel was an obvious attempt to appeal to a broader audience. I went in optimistic, but after about twenty minutes I began to realize something had gone wrong.

The Old Republic is another franchise that comes to mind. They turned a superb single player experience into an MMO that didn't really deliver. That's my opinion, mind you, so if anyone feels otherwise then by all means enjoy the game.

As it stands, they've changed every single one of their franchises into something that's almost foreign. They keep dumbing down their games to cater to broader audiences because they want more money, but at what point does greed overtake quality? I haven't seen anything recently that tells me they're changing that. I was willing to accept the horrible missteps of DA2 and the lack of interest I had in The Old Republic, but ME3 was the point at which my faith in the company completely evaporated.

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Swampjedi
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I wonder if it's not EA's taint.
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Ginol_Enam
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
It's not just the ending. There's a lot about the third game I don't like and, in my opinion, it comes off as a cheap cash in. Micro purchases, having to enter a code to get the full experience, day 1 DLC, a horrible ending, shorter game, etc. It's just too much. The simple fact that they ended it with a scene that takes back a promise they made when they first started the series (we're only going to make a trilogy of games with Sheppard, but wait! We need more money, so here's a scene with an old man and a kid that hints at yet another sequel) is enough to make me turn away.

Keeping it restricted to ME3 and regarding the ending, I'm of the belief that the ending was always destined to be disliked. That's just how it had to be for a trilogy that not only had incredible build up, but also allowed the player to shape it via their decisions. Bioware was never going to please even a majority of their fanbase, much less everyone with the ending. Everybody, it seems, wanted something different from it. The Bioware's official forums, prior to the Extended Cut, were full of people complaining about the ending, but everyone was complaining about different things. Now that the EC is out, you've got plenty of people who are satisfied and feel that BW fixed all of the issues, but other people who are claiming that BW ignored them completed.

On a personal level, I didn't like the original ending's structure and felt that it left too many unanswered questions and introduced the Catalyst with not enough explanation, but I didn't mind the nature of the ending itself. Now that its been expanded, I feel it provides enough explanation and enough closure to finish off the series. I'm actually compelled to start the series again to lead up to this new ending.

I also didn't really get the feeling it was setting up for a sequel with the Stargazer coda. I just got a "life goes on; Shepard's a legend" feel to it. If it was setting up anything, I think its more about DLC that'll take place during the game itself. That's nothing new and nothing that was out of the question, IMO.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm of the belief that the ending was always destined to be disliked.
I don't think so. It's not impossible to write a flexible ending that preserves the importance of choice. They just wanted to spend money other places, instead.
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Tarrsk
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I don't think the ending, at least as conceived, negates the importance of choice. The execution of the original version of the ending doesn't really do the concept justice due to the whole "different colored explosions" issue, but considering that the final action the player is given is, in fact, a choice, it seemed clear to me that the intention behind the ending was all about the importance of choice. They just failed to pay it off meaningfully in the epilogue - an error since corrected by the Extended Cut.
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TomDavidson
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I don't think that more exposition actually equals more payoff, to be honest; while the Extended Cut was an improvement, it failed to address the actual narrative shortcomings of the ending and just spread some spackle around.
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Ginol_Enam
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I'm of the belief that the ending was always destined to be disliked.
I don't think so. It's not impossible to write a flexible ending that preserves the importance of choice. They just wanted to spend money other places, instead.
You may not have always been destined to dislike the ending, but someone else would have. While not scientific by any means, lurking on the official Bioware forums and in other places complaining about different things and now that the EC is out I see people praising different things and other people complaining about those things or other things.

Some people didn't like that the ending choice was "A, B or C", but, while the original presentation of this choice certainly exacerbated the issue, any choice in the end could be boiled down to "A, B, or C." If there was no ending choice, people would undoubtedly be unhappy about not having enough control over the ending (even if said ending relied on their prior choices).

Some people wanted all of the choices made throughout all three games to be reflected in the ending which would almost certainly have derailed the narrative and led to a generic, "Then this happened, then this happened, then this happened...."

Some people want sugar happy endings regardless of the choices made. Some people are fine with the current bittersweet ending.

My point is, there's a lot of ways this ending could have gone. There is, perhaps, some ending that would have satisfied more people than the Catalyst thing, but I don't think there's a clear cut way to accurately determine what the "best" ending would be.

Ultimately, though, Bioware did shoot themselves in the foot. The original ending was simply underdone and I do blame that on budget cuts and a rushed deadline. If the game had been shipped with the Extended Cut, I think the reception would have been overall more positive (at least, in regards to the ending, specifically).

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TomDavidson
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For me, the problem with the ending is that, for one reason or another, the writers fundamentally misunderstood the theme of their own game. It was not "organics vs. synthetics," but rather "what power does a creator have over his creation?"

This question is central to the Geth, the Rachni, the Krogan/Salarian relationship, the Husks/indoctrination, and even Shepherd's involvement with Cerberus. In fact, I became worried about the series in ME2 when the writers so obviously flubbed an opportunity to explore that question during Shepherd's "cooperation" with Cerberus -- and then dispensed with the analysis of these questions altogether to have us fight a giant human-like Reaper made of human bits.

The individual crew stories remained solid, because they were self-contained ruminations on themes that may or may not have directly related to the theme of the game(s) in question and were often -- but not always -- satisfactorily resolved. They'll always be remembered as the high points, for obvious reasons, especially the ones that did manage to tie into the core themes of the series.

But the four options for an ending were (mostly) terrible, because they were presented as the following:

1) Organic life cannot coexist with synthetic life, so all non-organic life must be destroyed. This ending makes no sense whatsoever within the context of the actual theme of the story, but it's an emotionally-satisfying response to "robots want to kill everything" -- even if a magic beam that destroys all AI, everywhere, seems rather like ridiculous overkill. It doesn't touch the core theme, but it still sensibly resolves the Reaper threat.

2) Organic life and synthetic life must be somehow "fused" so that there is no meaningful distinction, and somehow this will eliminate all conflict between the factions, even immediately ending all violent conflict (and possibly turning people into immortal gods). This is even more stupid, since it ignores the actual source of conflict -- the issue of control and inequity -- and also has to posit a truly magical sort of "unification beam." It is by far the most infuriating ending, because it completely misses the point.

3) Reject the choices (and false dilemmas) presented to you by a crazy, genocidal AI and choose to die free, setting up a scenario in which everything you know and love is destroyed but future generations are finally able to win. This is a legitimate decision, and one that should absolutely have been in the game from the start.

4) And then you have the "control" ending, which -- especially with the DLC -- actually does address this theme, by arguing that a benign controller produces a quasi-utopian scenario. And this is true, within the context of the games. Given that so many of the voices arguing for the "control" choice were transparently evil, though, it's surprisingly that Shepherd's narration at the end is uniformly self-sacrificing and benign; even the most selfish, self-promoting Shepherd apparently becomes a selfless shepherd of souls the instant he's put in charge of the entire galaxy. I don't reject this ending wholesale (unlike most of the others), but it's surprising that there are no downsides presented to universal despotism.

That said, I think it's fair to say that the Extended Cut improved the endings a great deal, by recontextualizing most of the illogic and giving you a better sense of the continuation of the galaxy (as opposed to "relays blow up, everyone dies"). But at the end of the day, the endings presented don't deal with the core question; if you try to shoehorn them into that theme, you get these somewhat awkward versions:

1) Species have the right to fight for their own survival, even if it means the destruction of everything else.

2) Everyone can be a creator/god, if you're magical enough. And once you're magical enough (and possibly part of some kind of cooperative hivemind, given the instant cessation of hostilities), the absence of scarcity eliminates economic rationales for competition.

3) Free will and the rejection of artificial restrictions on choice can have terrible consequences, but self-determination might be our highest value -- even over self-preservation.

4) Being ruled by a benign god is actually pretty nice.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I haven't actually played ME3 yet...not sure if I want to after reading this thread.

Nice post Tom.

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Tarrsk
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I'm not sure I'd agree with you that the main theme of the games was that of creators vs created, but I can see where you're coming from. To me, as reductionist and unrealistic as "organic vs synthetic" might be, it was undeniably the central theme of the games. You could argue, I guess, that "organic vs synthetic" still in turn boils down to "creator vs created," but IIRC, the writers make an effort from the very beginning of the game to really focus on how synthetic life might fundamentally differ from organic life.

Maybe a better way to phrase it is "synthetic life vs evolved life" - that is, life that knows for a fact that it was the designed product of an intelligence versus life that emerged through natural selection acting on a system governed by stochasticity. EDI, the geth, and even the Reapers themselves continually harp on this distinction. They know they were built. We don't (at least, those of us who aren't religious). There is plenty of interesting stuff for a good writer to mine there, and IMO Bioware did a pretty darn good job over the course of the three games.

If you accept that Bioware's intention, at least, was really to meditate on this synthetic vs evolved distinction, then I think the endings make more sense. Especially if you view the child as something more nuanced than the two most common interpretations of the character (that is, either an omnipotent god or a "crazy genocidal AI"). To me, it was clear even from the original ending that the child represented an extremely powerful, intelligent AI that was nonetheless hobbled by programming based on the very specific point of view of its original creators, which were organics embroiled in a galaxy-spanning war with synthetics.

The child's dialogue states that it considers war between organics and synthetics inevitable. It does not say which side will necessarily start the war (we are given substantial evidence throughout the games that aggression can begin from either side), only that the distinction between the created and the evolved that I described above will inevitably lead to conflict, unless somehow the two sides were given the means to deeply and intuitively understand the other's perspective (hence the "Synthesis" ending).

What is strongly implied but not stated outright is that the AI can back this up with millions of years worth of data from previous cycles, showing that war between organics and synthetics has always broken out. Now, of course, this doesn't necessarily show that conflict is always going to happen. Some particularly enlightened civilizations could eventually buck the trend on their own. And certainly the Reapers coming down hard on the galaxy every 50,000 years is going to put a damper on the chances of that ever happening. But from the child's subjective point of view, every additional synthetic-organic war is another data point supporting its philosophical axiom that conflict IS inevitable.

And frankly, given the evidence we ourselves are presented in the fiction, he kind of has a point. The only two situations we ever see in the entire history of the ME universe in which any form of peace exists between synthetics and organics are EDI and the possible geth-quarian treaty. And importantly, both cases are the result of direct intervention by Commander Shepard. Which is why Shepard is the data point that ultimately overturns the child's "solution." And which is why the child offers Shepard the opportunity to break the cycle.

Building on this, I see each of the possible endings as the natural evolutionary branches arising from the synthetic vs organic conflict.

(1) Synthesis: The child promotes this as the "best" of the new solutions, but you need to keep in mind that although he is now open to new possibilities, he still remains constrained by his fundamental premise. To the child, synthesis is the only way to completely resolve the philosophical differences between the evolved and the created, because it gives each the full understanding of the other. If you disagree that such a philosophical difference truly exists, or if you believe that organics and synthetics can overcome these differences on their own, well, then don't choose this option. Nobody's forcing you. This is the choice for players who decide that, ultimately, the child has a point. And again, given the data we're provided in the three games, it's not unreasonable to conclude that, in the Mass Effect universe, the conflict IS inevitable.

(2) Destroy and Control: These are the two choices for those who disagree with the child's fundamental premise, but who don't necessarily think the child is a liar or a crazy person - just an AI with a limited and incorrect perspective. These options represent a rejection of the inevitability of war between synthetics and organics, in that they permit for synthetic and organic life to continue co-existing separately, and place the responsibility for avoiding further conflict on both.

Destroy is the Renegade option, because (in line with every other Renegade option in the game) it's "easier" for the person making the choice, in that Shepard doesn't have to take personal responsibility for the aftermath (s/he's either dead, or lives on as just another human, depending on your EMS). And it's something of a brute force solution, killing off an entire sentient species as well as every other unique AI. Renegade Shep, however, understands that sometimes you have to sacrifice others without asking them, if it's for the greater good. And god, who'd want to have to spend eternity keeping Reapers in line, anyway?

Control is the Paragon ending, because it's the hardest path of all for Shepard. S/he now takes personal responsibility for all future actions by the Reapers. And I suspect Tom only watched the full Paragon version of the Control ending, because if you choose it as a Renegade Shepard, the resultant narration is quite different. Yes, Shepard still calls off the Reaper attack and uses the Reapers to help the galaxy rebuild. But Shepard's narration has distinctly ominous overtones, as s/he meditates on the power s/he now wields, and says some rather chilling things on the subject of protecting the "many" from whatever threats Shepard deems serious. It makes it clear that Control ends the war, but opens up a whole bunch of new potential problems, depending on how much you trust Shepard (or rather, an AI based on Shepard's memories, values, and personal relationships). From Shepard's perspective, this is a choice that requires tremendous personal sacrifice, as s/he must now fight the temptation to abuse the massive power s/he has accumulated.

In other words, being ruled by a benign god is indeed pretty nice, but being ruled by ReneGod means you always have to watch your back.

(3) Refusal: I agree with Tom that this is a great ending, and should have been in the game from the start. But as I mentioned above, I don't see this option as the only way to rebuff the child AI's position. The Refusal ending is what a player chooses if they hold Tom's opinion regarding the nature of the child AI - that is, that the AI is either insane or untrustworthy. If you choose this, then the game reveals that this opinion is correct... at least in your playthrough. This doesn't negate the fact that someone who chooses one of the original endings is also correct to trust the child AI - in their playthrough.

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TomDavidson
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Heh. Actually, I've only seen the full Renegade Control ending. And it seemed pretty darn idyllic. Having watched a video of the Paragon version just now, the differences are actually fairly subtle. But I'll concede that they changed a couple words.
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Tarrsk
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The differences felt appropriately substantial to me. They certainly comprise far more than just "a couple words," and the words that are altered change the tone of the monologue dramatically. We're not talking minor changes, here.

I just rewatched the two FemShep Control endings, and here's what I found different between the monologues (leaving out a few genuinely minor wording changes):

Paragon Shepard opens by speaking of her "sacrifice," and indicates that she approached Control with reservation and an understanding of ol' Ben Parker's koan. She then states that her purpose is to provide "hope for the many," and ensuring that "all have a voice." Paragon ReaperShep is there to serve the people to whom she once belonged. She loves democracy! And she swears to "rebuild what the many have lost" and "build a future with limitless possibilities." Militarily, she will "protect and sustain" and "act as guardian for the many." You know, your basic light side Jedi stuff. And at the very end of the monologue, she describes herself one last time as the "woman who gave up her life to become the one who could save the many."

Renegade Shepard, in contrast, opens with the "potential of her decision," suggesting that she embraced Control as a means to gain power. Her stated purpose is to be a "powerful leader" who will "put an end to the bickering of the many," showing that she intends to actively direct the people she once served - and implying that those who disagree will be, ah, dealt with, Reaper-style. She stands with the powerful, specifically saying that she is there "to ensure that the strong are not feared or reviled for their strength." And Renegade Shep has grander ambitions: to "lead an army that none will dare oppose" and "destroy those who would threaten the future of the many" (as defined, of course, by Renegade Shep herself). And of course, she also ends her monologue with a self-description - except hers is "the woman who fought to become the one who could lead the many."

Not sure how you could possibly call that latter version "idyllic," but whatever. It sounds pretty damn ominous, to me.

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