Alright, I decided…like I decided months ago…that the second post that I would make to celebrate the one year anniversary of Mass Effect 3 would be another opinion piece about that pesky ending. Getting tired yet?
Now this blog, as my opinion, acknowledges that even though the ending is vastly improved under the Extended Cut, and even though I like it…there is still a lot of problems with it. Now this blog will address the first set of problems, I plan on doing the second part later as more of a general blog. If you the readership remind me of this I shall do it.
So, the ending to Mass Effect 3 is drastically improved, but it still does not feel right, and pails into comparison to another ending…to another Video Game…that was so far in the past to almost be unremembered…namely Mass Effect 2.
Now Mass Effect 2s ending, the Suicide Mission, and the ‘End Run’ towards the end of the game, was near perfection, marred only by what some consider to be a sub standard boss fight. But the rest of it? Was good.
So why is this? And why did the Mass Effect 3 ending fall on its face in comparison?
Well in the main way it had to do with presentation, and how they handled the story.
Mass Effect 2 the entire story was devoted to the gathering of a special team, gathering their loyalty, gaining resources, and solving mysteries all in preparation for one suicidal attack through the Omega 4 Relay.
Throughout it you got to personally know the characters and personally lead gain their loyalty by completing tasks for them. But throughout the end depending on the choices you make, anyone is at risk.
The last mission was a reveal of this entire thing. Your entire efforts, stopping the Collectors, your decisions and efforts on who you made loyal and didn’t make loyal throughout the game. The upgrades you made to your ship. Whatever you did you choices mattered. And yeah, they mattered in the end of Mass Effect 3 with the inclusion of the Extended Cut, but you had a personal stake in the mission. Your choices didn’t affect the entire game, the entire universe, just the mission and the men and women you were fighting with. Which made it purely personal.
Plus the musical score really kicked ass but that is beside the point. 😛
But the events of the story flowed naturally from one to another where it all just sort of fit from one to another. The surprise at the end was logical to what you knew about the threat you were facing. And while you faced a decision, it wasn’t universally shattering. And it was exactly what you set out to do from the start.
And about ME 3? Well Mass Effect 3 had many of these elements, the entire story was devoted to dealing with the Reaper threat in one way shape or form, your actions in the game did affect what you could do in the ending.
But it didn’t have that emotional personal connection. It was not truly representative of spending an entire game where everything you did went into that one final moment. Instead you got an info dump and you had to face one last grand decision that didn’t really effect your team, but faceless millions of beings.
This all has to do with presentation. In the Suicide Mission you felt your efforts pay off, you saw your efforts pay off, your team lived and died on you, the musical score and the action kept it going to where you got the sense that this was the end of the line, everything that you did to this point mattered.
Which as another aside I think is why Mass Effect 2 is such a good game. A lot of the game to that point was pretty plain at times, but to watch your efforts pay off, was just amazing, whereas ME 3 had the opposite effect.
And ME 3 you didn’t see your war assets, you didn’t see your efforts pay off. You never really saw your war assets fighting, never saw any different, never actually saw how your decisions mattered. Just they did in a metaphysical sense in how effective the Crucible was.
So in other words, ME 2 was an emotional build up with a climax for that build up, ME 3 for whatever reason failed to deliver. A noble effort, but it was just not as polished.