4 Reasons Why The Mass Effect 3 Debate Refuses to Die

Shamus Young

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4 Reasons Why The Mass Effect 3 Debate Refuses to Die

More than two years later, people still argue over the ending of Mass Effect 3 and the series as a whole. Why are people so passionate about it?

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Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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Y'know, some of us played all three games (multiple times even) and still considered the sequels to be huge improvements, both in gameplay and storytelling.

Although the "Human's Are Special" undertones can admittedly fuck right off. As can the ending of course, at least the original one.

If nothing else, I agree with your final point of a whole bunch of different people wanting a whole bunch of different things.
 

blackaesir

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Zhukov said:
Y'know, some of us played all three games (multiple times even) and still considered the sequels to be huge improvements, both in gameplay and storytelling.
Or we liked somethings better in the gameplay and story departments and some things worse, because everyone has different personal preferences.

And also the extent to which Mass Effect 3 did allow us to resolve various ongoing issues (Geth vs. Quarian in particular), those resolutions could in turn make the ending more or less nihlisitc depending on what a given player did.
 

SonOfVoorhees

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I played the first two when they were first released. I then rebought them to play before ME3. Out of all 3 ME games, ME3 is the only game i didnt replay. The ending wasnt that great and that killed the replay. But before that seeing the Rachi pissed me off as I killed the last one in ME3. Also by then all the stuff your character did was only shown in emails. In ME2 it wasnt like you could play as Wrex if you saved him in ME1. So i knew from ME2 that the whole "your choices change the world" was bullshit and cosmetic. Your choice whether to kill the council or save them in ME1 made no real difference to ME2. Your choice to destroy or save the base in ME2 made no difference to ME3. So for me, ME3 lost a lot what made me love ME3.

But for the debate, its no difference to any other game/movie/book that disapointed me in my life. ME3 went into its case and i sold it and moved on to another game. Some people act like ME3 raped and killed their wife and kids. Just really over the top.

Regardless of everything. The ME universe is still one which i would love to travel in again. Regardless of the ending, its the stories and characters that make it for me. An one boring ending wont change that for me.
 

TheMadJack

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I'll probably replay the ME series eventually, but I'll stop playing the third when at the end--as you meet the child--as it's mainly irrelevant from that point on.
 

Zombie Badger

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I think the real reason that ME3's ending is still such an open wound is that the preceding series had spent five years building up to it. Everything was leading to this moment and when five years of emotional investment is met with disappointment it's not going to be forgotten quickly.
 

wastaz

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Nov 16, 2009
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My main problem with ME1 was the atrocious Mako. I love that game, but every time it makes me go into the Mako I want to throw my controller out of the window and kill small furry woodland creatures (won't anyone think of the small woodland creatures?!)

ME2 and 3 had different tones and I do believe they dropped the ball on the ending, but I really wish we could all focus on the real problem with this game series instead.
KILL THE MAKO!
 

DaWaffledude

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Apr 23, 2011
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I feel like anything important I have to say on the subject was covered here, and anything else is just me spewing preference and bias.

That being said ME1 is my favourite game of all time, and I had to force myself to finish ME2. Also, I love the Mako. Sue me.
 

Notshauna

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May 12, 2014
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I really wish people will stop saying some found the ending amazing, it's a cop out and is full of the usual mass media "fair and balanced" bullshit where they always find someone "on the otherside" no matter how wrong it is. The ending is terrible it's indisputable, it's not surprising that people like the ending, I like the Super Mario Bros. movie but it's still terrible. Mass Effects ending is still an illogical convoluted mess that tried to staple reasoning on to mad gods, offer a "big" decision when one wasn't needed and ended up with a hook to the next game that is more poorly written than some of the stuff I wrote in diapers.

It's plain and simple what it should of been, no fancy crucible rewriting the directive of reapers, it's a weapon plain and simple, you don't know what you do until the AI informs you. No more magical star child informing you of everything about the reapers and they're stupid directive, just a simple AI saying hey what you built will do this. And this weapon is a super nova bomb, there is a simple binary choice set it off at full power destroying all of the reapers and everyone in the Sol system as well, or set it off at lower power, potentially escaping, and causing the people in Sol to survive but failing destroy all of the reapers (but, they'd retreat to recuperate their numbers). And after that there'd be a Dragon Age Origins style reveal of the victory celebration revealing if Shepard survived (if you have to include galactic readiness make that be the factor that decides it).
 

teh_cabbage

>BE THE BATMAN
Oct 13, 2010
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I know I can't be the only one who vastly preferred the first Mass Effect's gameplay to the second. I liked the Mako, I liked the inventory management, I liked the shooting! I was more upset by ME2 than ME3, though admittedly ME2 convinced me to not bother with ME3, and as a result I only only actually know ME3 from the Spoiler Warning season, so that might explain why I don't really have much in the way of strong feelings.
 

Therumancer

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Nov 28, 2007
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Shamus, I think your analysis of this is deeply flawed because it considers some fringe components to be serious "sides" of the discussion and omits perhaps the most important part of this entire thing:

The most important part of the ME3 fiasco is that Bioware made specific promises about the ending of the game and what it would include. Bioware made it clear with direct statements that Mass Effect 3 would both answer all the outstanding questions and would NOT include a simple "choose A B or C ending". Bioware proceeded to put in a "choose A B or C" ending anyway, what's more many of the biggest questions in the series were not answered. Bioware released an app that was "behind the scenes" of ME3 and in that app they had the devs saying "well, we decided not to answer a lot of the big questions because they work better as mysteries and give us material for later games in the franchise". Add to this some leaked information about how Bioware actually had no plans for the ending until late in the process, and how what they did was inspired by an adolescent fan whose fan-letter got taped to a director's door, and you can see why there was a riot.

It should also be noted that changing the game genera in this case is a little different than your presenting it. Mass Effect (the original) worked as a self-contained story. It was also a game in a very niche genera as you pointed out. The problem isn't so much that Bioware decided to make a sci-fi shooter, but that they made it "Mass Effect 2" basically claiming that an entirely different kind of game, with entirely different core principles (as you pointed out) was "more of the same" following the first game. Basically Bioware should have created an entirely new franchise for that, and left a game a lot of people fell in love with alone rather than ruining it by stamping a "2" on something entirely different and then claiming anyone who complained about this was being unfair.

When it comes to that transition, also consider that it's not really fair or accurate to say that the first "Mass Effect" as any kind of an underperformer, or that it's criticisms by the shoot-bro crowd were especially relevant. After all it succeeded well enough where they wanted the franchise name for other games. It could have succeeded just fine where it was even by AAA standards but basically EA/Bioware wanted more money, and figured it could piggyback off of the success of the first game by using a title people loved, while otherwise making an entirely separate kind of game and using some of the same story elements and lore. This did indeed move more units, but it also meant that all those people who came to the game because of the first one felt rightfully betrayed, as they were being exploited, probably to form a "safe" foundation if for whatever reason they didn't draw in a whole new market.

The same can also be said about "Dragon Age 2" to an extent, which also pours fuel onto this fire. A game that was specifically created and hyped as a series acting as "the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate" and using similar sensibilities was turned into a brawler. Not just a brawler, but a lazy one, where you see loading screens suggesting tactics conceived back when the game was still going to be a real RPG (like suggesting having fighters block for mages in a party formation).

I'll also say that I don't think the ending of "Mass Effect 3" went over anyone's head. The problem with the ending is that it didn't fit with the rest of the series, which even in the first game involved a hero who pretty much resolves no-win scenarios. Furthermore the whole organic vs. technological argument and the "inevitability of conflict" makes no sense if you subverted the whole logic by say bringing peace between the Geth and their creators... or even just sided with The Geth for that matter.

The actual reason for the ending is pretty much to level the universe, so they have a blank slate for franchise potential. Basically with the way they ended things with exploding gates and the like they can argue that anything survived or didn't survive, and feel free to pretty much ignore the entire trilogy in moving forward with the franchise... which was the bottom line because a series intended to end as a trilogy at most got turned into a franchise by corporate suits who insist on milking anything and everything dry. The ending is crap for fans, but pretty much perfect for developers who want a relatively blank slate to work from.

Rather than a lot of separate voices "talking over each others heads" there are disagreements, but pretty much everyone agrees that the ending was garbage, and that Bioware should create a new one, more in keeping with the spirit of the series. Not to mention that any such ending needs to be done so it is not simple a "choose A, B, or C" option because Bioware promised it wouldn't be one. What's more any such ending and the events leading up to it, should resolve a lot of the bigger questions leading up to that. If Bioware wants to do more "Mass Effect" after achieving that, more power to them, but the whole "Line" is united in the stance that Bioware needs to keep it's promises in regards to the trilogy and give the story of Shepard a proper ending fitting the character and the spirit in which it has been operating.
 

Zorg Machine

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This is just plain wrong. I was really invested in the games and not only did I think that they got better and better with each game, I though that the gameplay especially got better and better. The third game in the series was awesome and lived up to all of my expectations and the sole reason I got so angry was because of the horrible ending. On a side note, I didn't think that the ending to Bioshock was bad at all. Sure, it may have peaked with Ryan but the ending wasn't a disappointment.

I was perfectly fine with the ending given by the extended cut and when that came out I could finally put the series as one of my most loved game series ever made. The reason why it's still so fresh in my mind is that it was clear that after making this amazing universe and continuing the grand story they decided to ship the game before they had finished the ending. It's like staying in a five-star hotel and having a wonderful morning but when you get your breakfast it turns out they just shoved a bunch of eggs up a pigs arse rather than having me wait for my bacon and eggs. Sure they took the time to cook it up later but nothing will make me forget that image.

I'm also very annoyed at the DLC situation (The citadel DLC was perfect in every way though) as Javik should obviously have been part of the base game and the Leviathan DLC was a bit too important to have been introduced after I had already finished the game.
 

Reaper195

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Jul 5, 2009
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Zhukov said:
Y'know, some of us played all three games (multiple times even) and still considered the sequels to be huge improvements, both in gameplay and storytelling.

Although the "Human's Are Special" undertones can admittedly fuck right off.

If nothing else, I agree with your final point of a whole bunch of different people wanting a whole bunch of different things.
This. The difference between playing the first game and second reminds me of the gameplay difference between Bioshock and Infinite. Bioshock wanted to be played like System Shock, but through enemies and weapons at you like it was a shooter. But it did not have fluid shooter controls and felt incredibly heavy and clunky. Infinite fixed that by adding swift movement, a proper aiming system, and the best revolver since anything in Red Dead Redemption. Mass Effect 1 is so goddamn hard to play during the combat sections because the combat is not really deigned for a shooter. They should have kept the turn-based thing from KOTOR. Or got rid of a lot of the RPG elements which did sweet fuck all like the ability to buy for less and sell for more at shops, or the inventory system. I never bothered to sell things (Omni-gel like a mofo!), and simply swapped my weapon of choice to a better one when I got it from killing an enemy. , and particularly 3, completely fixed that. I'd still argue that the games are Role Playing Games, since you play as Shepard, and guide how her (Never played the games as MaleShep. Dat Jennifer Hale) character develops.

I will admit, I was a bit miffed when Bioware said the ending wouldn't be "Select one of three options" and it turned out to be "Select one of two options. A third is available if you did some correct stuff. Also, a fourth was added which shouldn't have been added considering how little effort was put into it". But story-wise, I enjoyed the ending. I thought it was well done. I wish the DLC, particularly the water one which I can't remember what it was called, was part of the main game, but it is what it is. EA aren't ever going to change until their company crumbles around them.
 

Trishbot

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I loved all three games... until the final moments.

The Extended Cut helped greatly... but it's just hard to forget how bummed out you were at the time. It's like being told you're going to Disney world, only instead you wind up at a funeral and are told it was all a joke. Sure you can go to Disney world later, but it was heartbreaking and disappointing the first time and it's just flat-out hard to forget those feelings or disassociate them from the series.

I'll say it like this: I bought every Collector's Edition, bought every DLC, played every game multiple times, and when I got to ME3's final moments... I had no desire to ever go back to that series and see that ending ever again or buy any of the DLC that followed. To this day, I'm still waiting for a sale on Leviathan and Omega (which sells for more than the game itself does).
 

Eclectic Dreck

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Charcharo said:
The reason I never finished the first game was the UI. Not the genre, not the difficulty not the gameplay (those I liked a lot).

Its UI was Dog Shit. Whoever made that (and the War Thunder UI) needs to change their line of work. They just suck epicly at it.
Mass Effect 1's UI was a mess and something I would expect from a newbie Half Life 1 modder. Not from a AAA developer...
At the time, one would not have considered Bioware to be AAA. Both Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect began their lives and spent most of their development before being acquired by EA. I suspect you'd find the budget for either game would be remarkably low if indeed it were possible to actually get such information.
 

Redd the Sock

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You missed a big one:

ME3 was a finale.

Serialized narrative is rarely done in video games and done well even less. Most games fall into 3 catagories:

1) the episodic: Few games do this anymore, but it's a standard: every game is it's own story set in the same universe, yet is devoid of much world building. Games like Mario, Metroid, or the Batman Arkham series might have some shared connections between games, but are treated with seclusion from each other and as such, the buildup and investment isn't there, so a bad ending doesn't feel like quite the waste.

2) The reset: every game starts over, even if the character types are reused, it's always a new Link, a new Final Fantasy or a new Disgaea. Again, less attachment, less problem when something goes wrong.

3) the running narrative: Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Metal gear. The games with stories that keep us coming back for more to see what happens next. Things build, get convoluted, but keep interesting if you can keep up. Thing is, these rarely try and end. Metal Gear 4 and God of War 3 produced finales to their stories, but on the other hand Resident Evil kept going until it fell apart, and Mortal Kombat needed a do over.

So with most games not trying to a continuing story or pushing it well past anyone's interest, ME3 was something to be cherished. A multi-game story that built to a climactic ending before we got sick of it or it had to be forcibly extended. A story we could be hyped for while not being held back by other games' need to not cut off a sequel. I mean, after seeing the final battle with Umbrella in Resident Evil largely not happen, or resigning ourselves to never seeing the "final" battle With shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat, or are still waiting for all the plot threads to be tied up in Kingdom Hearts, this was huge.

Then they blew it.
 

senordesol

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Oct 12, 2009
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My problem with ME3's ending is rather simple.

We were teased throughout the series with a reckoning.

There was no reckoning.

That's it. That's the long and short of it. Kill the Rachni Queen? Doesn't matter. Rescue the Council? Doesn't matter. Failed to gain all of the war assets? Doesn't (really) matter.

You can go through the entire game, making decisions at complete random, and not have it make a damn bit of difference to the outcome. That's where people get are getting pissed.