The mass effect one game has had on most headlines is profound, Mass Effect is epic but the reason the spotlight shines down on it is unjustified. As a fan who has invested countless hours into more than eight play-throughs of Mass Effect 2 and working on my third run on Mass Effect 3, I believe I have as much of a say as those who think their entitled to … demand for a change to the ending. I’ve read some of the comics and looked up the rest through the internet, I’ve read the synopsis of the novels and I’ve read the wiki’s of every race, character and event you can think of. Does this give me entitlement over the ending of the series?
The answer is no, as a writer there is one thing I can say without a doubt: A writer writes a story he or she is interested in hearing. They craft a world which is theirs and theirs alone, no one holds any say, what-so-ever, over the events that happen within that world. The fact that BioWare gave choice to the player and carried it across three games to impact the universe in so many different ways is amazing, to say the least. To say your actions throughout the three games have no impact is a blatant lie, if you can’t see how you shaped the universe than you sir. are blind. Throughout the three games you’re crafting the future of the universe within some ones epic space journey.
Allow me to take a step back and sum up my thoughts of the game as a whole, as a fan, a gamer and as a writer.
Game-play: By far the best in the series, I never had the chance to play the first game (lack of a 360 still prevents me from doing so, try not to hold it against me) but from what I’ve heard it isn’t great. The shooting has improved, the only way I can think to describe it is: Uncharted Drake’s Fortune = Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2 Among Thieves = Mass Effect 3. It feels fluid and smooth well each gun has its own feel, recoil and weight to it. Mods will help each player craft their very own play style, do you want more ammo or more damage? I'm not a fan of the bar-graph showing each guns attributes but it gets the job done. You’re abilities allow for six ranks of powerhouse awesomeness, the last three ranks allow you to customize them according to your play style. Are you going for pure power or biotic combos?
The combat is fast and fluid which complements your play style, are you a one gun fast tooting biotic powerhouse or a soldier through and through. You can lug every gun on your back or simply pack one for back up to your powers. Weight was a great addition, adding in just another level of RPG to the guns vs. powers play style. I honestly felt Mass Effect 2 was tailored to soldier class, I cruised through my insanity run without a bead of sweat. My adept’s biotics were simply to slow which had me relying heavily on my SMG and handgun (I hate SMG’s, handguns are fine but not something you want to take waves of enemies on with). My adept Shepard in Mass Effect 3 is tearing through enemies left and right, my soldier (which was my first play-through) struggled on normal to make it to the end of the game. Put it this way, I haven’t fired a shot and I have a Mattock with +200% weight.
I was disappointed to see a lack of dialogue cutscenes, more often it was simply a character talking well I still had control of Shepard. Sometimes I would walk away thinking they had nothing interesting to say, other times I simply wish I had a dialogue choice to pick from. All in all, however, I felt the dialogue was amazing. It had its very funny moments well other times nearly had a tear in my eye. Bleeding into the dialogue chatter is my experience with side missions. Walking through the citadel you’ll over hear people talking and suddenly a side mission will pop up as your more than ten feet away from the conversation that gave you the side mission. When you think about it Shepard becomes kind of a stalker, I mean he’s eavesdropping on people’s conversation than once he has said item they were looking for he comes up and says “I heard you were looking for this, here you go.”… Umm that’s not weird at all.
Story: Without spoiling anything for those who still have yet to play it I will dance around the more important plot points so all can read without worry. Firstly I’d like to say to all those upset, shut up! There are people out there without your opinion who have yet to beat the damn game and now your simply ruining the experience for them.
Best in the series is, honestly, a hard statement. From what’ve I’ve read of Mass Effect’s story I know it’s a damn good one. Mass Effect 2 wasn’t so much about the over arching story but your encounters with other characters. Mass Effect 3 is the final stretch, the epic finish, the war. Players will find their choices over the past two games to shape the events that transpire within the war with the Reapers. Shepard still has choices to make, choices that will affect the future of the galaxy. With the end of each act you’ll find a massive choice you’re faced with, whatever you pick will forever shape your universe and determine what happens for the future. One could easily say the end of each act is the end of a story in its self, the choices made are powerful ones indeed.
The war with the Reapers is a hopeless one and we knew that going in, you’re fighting an unstoppable force. A force which has never been taken down since the dawn of time, the conflict is a hopeless effort, and yet Shepard is the image of hope as he just changed the course of history through his actions. Who better to stand behind in your final hours, who better to lead an army against an unstoppable force. The story has always been the Reapers, from the very first steps in Mass Effect the Reapers have been the threat. Players expect closure to this conflict and that’s just what you get, you get all your answers to the Reapers for better or worse. And here is where I think BioWare made a brilliant move. They brought closure to the conflict which started, which birthed this series well at the same time leaving it open to interpretation. The fate of the galaxy rest in your imagination, if you don’t have one I can understand why you’d be upset.
SPOILERS: for those who don’t care or have beaten the game here are my thoughts on the ending. The Reapers god (more than likely every things god) shows up in a child’s form to make Shepard sympathetic and actually listen to what he has to say. He explains how the Reapers are meant to keep all life forms from destroying themselves, a concept we should be pretty familiar with seeing how we’re currently doing it to ourselves (we’ve also seen concept like this in movies such as Terminator, both Tron films… need I go on). It’s explained slightly before this but the power which the crucible wields is far stronger than what a mass relay can even handle… foreshadowing maybe, just maybe (had to throw that in their cause it was a complaint that BioWare never foreshadowed the destruction of the mass relays). The Reaper god than explains how your one weapon (which I’ve always hated the idea of “one weapon” ending a massive conflict) is not really one weapon. It is a weapon meant to turn the mass relays into weapons across the universe (another thing hinted at throughout the story, they mention how the citadel is Reaper technology and so are the mass relays and how the crucible was meant to use the Reapers technology against them). So it boils down to this: control the Reapers, unit all life or destroy all synthetics. I can’t, for the life of me, think of any other choices to put in there. Personal I hate the destroy all synthetic life because the very last cutscene is Shepard’s torn up N7 armor, even with his dog tags, as the image fades he takes a breath. You’re talking about surviving the massive explosion of the citadel… but hey, I do understand people wanna see their Shepard live and it’s made pretty clear your gonna die with the other two endings. So my ending (see what I did there, I don’t like one ending so it’s not my ending, I'm not gonna complain about the ending I don’t like.) is the synthesis one, unit all synthetics by throwing your body-which is both organic and synthetic- into the crucible’s beam creating a blast of energy which surges through the mass relay destroying them. The rest is up to you. END OF SPOILERS
I’ll end with this, love the end or hate it but accept it as the story. Something I’ve never told anyone, I hated Uncharted 2’s ending. My favorite game/series of all time is Uncharted and Uncharted 2 is one of the best games I’ve ever played. My issues steam from the force Drake faces throughout the story, you’re talking about a mere man fighting a military force led by a ruthless beast of a man. So a rag-tag crew of treasure hunters goes after a treasure and so is this war criminal, you’d think people on the good guy’s side would die off left and right. Sure Jeff the camera man dies but let’s be honest, he was a red shirt if there ever was one. Schafer was more of a tear jerker but even he was a red shirt at the end of the day. To have everyone on Drake’s side walk away without a scratch… well I simply would have been happier is Chloe jump in at last minute to stop Zoran from killing Drake in that final battle. She gets shot but it gives Drake time to get the 1up on him. Also having Elena survive the grenade… well I won’t complain because I love Elena. At the end of the day, no one is simply walking away unscathed from a conflict such as that. But that was the Uncharted 2 ending and I accept that and continue to hold onto my love for the series.
I can understand complaining about two small problems near the end of the game but what I don’t understand is calling the whole game shit because you didn’t like one thing about it. I don’t understand not being able to fill in the blanks (talking about when the screen goes black) for yourself, if BioWare flat out told you what happens after those credits roll, will you be anymore happy? Maybe you have a different vision for those characters after the credits than the writers, maybe you want them to go about their life in a different way. I honestly see this as another bandwagon trend, one of the greatest video game stories of all time and one damn good game, it’s popular so let’s hate on it. Let’s pull some BS issues out of our hats to complain about. The degree in which so called “fans” are going to too show their upset is downright nasty and disrespectfully to BioWare to say the least. To start a charity for children is so underhanded it’s not funny, you’re basically saying that if BioWare doesn’t answer this petition their assholes for not supporting Children’s Play. BioWare has every right to end the game how they want, they could have ending it with Shepard and crew in a park eating ice cream for all they want, you have no say over it at all.