Although it shouldn’t be, I found it somewhat emotionally difficult to uninstall Mass Effect 3 this weekend. I haven’t played the game in more than five months, and I had not planned to start again either. All the extra DLC feels moot to me after the endings, and while the multiplayer was surprisingly good, I got my fill of it after a few weeks.
There is no particular reason for me to feel this way.
And yet… uninstalling may as well be the kiss of death. I can always reinstall later, of course, but the mere knowledge of a 5-6 hour download is enough to send my thoughts elsewhere. For a while, I had entertained a fantasy that I would replay the entire series again, start to finish, this time as Renegade FemShep. The whole ending debacle stymied that fantasy, but there always seemed to be a spark of hope that I would come back around and just do it.
But… not anymore. I need the hard drive space. And I probably need to move on for real, like I thought I already had. No reason to keep holding onto those old pictures of your exes.
In other news, I uninstalled Diablo 3 this weekend and felt relief. Of course, I did so after cashing out my gold, although the exchange rate is a whopping $0.52 per million gold right now. I did not talk about it, but I booted D3 up two weeks ago and went ahead and beat Diablo on Inferno, just to say I did so. The gear inflation/power creep/nerfs made it feel like a completely different game.
But then again, I am not sure I enjoyed the game that it had been all that much anyway.
Three months to the day ago, I decided to write a post called What I Want to See from Bioware, vis-a-vis the proposed Extend Cut of Mass Effect 3.
And now I have seen those endings. All four of them.
That is your warning, kiddos. Spoilers dead ahead.
In that prior post, there were a number of things I was looking for from Bioware, in Best Case/Worst Case scenarios. The biggest one was the Normandy scene at the end, which made no goddamn sense whatsoever – it essentially ruined the endings for me all by itself. What I wanted to see in the Extended Cut was:
What I want to see from Bioware:
- Best Case: an explanation of how the crew (EDI and Liara, in my case) got back on-board the Normandy, what the Normandy was doing while I was on the Citadel, if they knew/suspected Shepard was alive or dead, and why they were running away.
- Worst Case: ensure that the crew with you on the final mission don’t show up in the final scene.
Mission accomplished. In a big way.
In the interests of being somewhat objective, the “answer” they gave to where your crew members were at was… a bit hard to swallow. With Harbinger easily knocking out tanks and fighters left and right, it seemed quite out of character for him to let the Normandy land, for people to be evacuated, for there to be time enough for one last tearful goodbye, and then an escape back into orbit. If the Normandy was capable of landing, why not just drop off a bunch of people at the beam itself?
I am willing to entertain the notion that Harbinger would not care about Normandy picking people back up, as long as they were not being moved closer to the beam, although that seems a bit weak.
Outside of that gripe? Smashing success on the other points. I laughed out loud when Hackett said what he did in the screenshot above; partly from the unexpected bluntness, and partly from the beginnings of a catharsis I had been missing for the last three months.
The next section of that prior post was about Indoctrination:
What I want to see from Bioware:
- Best case: Settle the Indoctrination debate once and for all. If Indoctrination is real, include a true final battle scene, potentially followed by the same sort of choices.
- Worst case: Remove the breath scene.
As far as I am concerned, the Indoctrination theory is kaput. It was actually kaput months ago, but the mini-epilogues following each ending serves as final nails. In the scheme of things, Indoctrination was a better ending than what we were originally given, but these new ones supersede the old in a good way.
The breath scene is unfortunately still in the game, but since March I have come to understand that the Destroy ending is actually truly Renegade. Ironically, all those Indoctrination videos had led me to believe that Control was bad and Destroy good, (i.e. the real ending), when that really was not the case. It is true that “nuking the site from orbit is the only way to be sure,” so to speak, but condemning all synthetics to death, including EDI, when other options are available is undeniably Renegade. Control may not seem like the way the Reaper threat should be handled, but a Paragon Shepard would take that chance. The consensus says: these units do have souls.
The final section was general plot holes:
What I want to see from Bioware:
- Best case: Shore up these plot holes via Codex entries, FAQs, or at least acknowledge they exist.
- Worst case: leave everything vague and unsettled.
Many of the points I raised regarding the Citadel were answered by the expanded Catalyst dialog, if a bit weakly. Not the biggest one, though. Why the Reapers did not simply reassert control of the Citadel immediately upon emerging from dark space is probably one of those “Why didn’t the Eagles just fly Frodo to Mount Doom?” questions for the ages.
The Endings Themselves
Talk about night and day compared to the previous ones, eh?
The amusing thing to me, is how my very first extended ending was the new one.
After slogging through the Cerberus base and the London battle and the unskippable post-beam dialog, the very first thing I did when I regained control over Shepard was shoot the Catalyst in the face. His Harbinger-esque “So be it” response took me aback, as did the unexpectedly poignant “Failure” ending. I remembered that time-capsule scene with Liara, and was even touched by the knowledge that though we had failed, the cycle was eventually broken by the next generation of intelligent species. Whom, while still looking suspiciously like asari, nevertheless had the gumption to actually take Reaper threat goddamn seriously. “Was that so hard?” I asked the monitor afterwards.
I played through all three of the other main ones, and was immensely satisfied. It is still Synthesis – aka the Green Cupcake – all the way for me, but I felt that Bioware did an excellent job at handling the Control ending as well. They all felt a bit… Deus Ex. In a good way. I have no idea how they will rationalize additional post-ME3 games in the Mass Effect universe, at least without holding Destroy up as canon, but I suppose we will all jump off that bridge when we come to it.
Months ago, a friend asked me as to whether I would purchase any future ME3 DLC. At the time, I replied “It will depend on how Bioware handles the Extended Cut.” Although I am extraordinarily happier with the series now than I was back in March, I am not sure that I want to revisit Shepard and crew again. Say what you will about the writing or “cheap emotional tricks” or whatever else, but this series truly has affected me in ways few games (or books, or movies) have.
I am thankful for the experience, of course. I just know that the longer I stay in Manse de la Shepard, the less likely I am to enjoy all the other experiences out there. It is hard enough handling regular post-game depression, without also having to question why I am not a better man in real life.
I am only half-way joking.