TIME FOR A MASS EFFECT 3 BLOG YAAAAAAAAAAAY
I probably shouldn't be writing this because A) it's been discussed ad nauseam and B) I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts, but when did that ever stop me before? So, here goes:
The Better Suicide
First, I suppose I should clarify ‘how’ I played it, since that seems to be one of the major points of discussion. So: I got From Ashes and Leviathan, which I felt ok doing because the game was like 15 bucks because it’s a year old so nobody cares. HOWEVER I played the original ending, just for fun. Also, I figured that’d give me an excuse to play through the ending again with the extended version.
As for the game itself: I think I might have actually enjoyed this more than ME2. I guess that’s not exactly a popular opinion, but I think the overall narrative just worked better. 2 was ok, but I never really liked the suicide mission thing they kept harping on. The whole game was just putting the team together, and then HEY YOU SHOULD DO THIS SIDE MISSION SO MAYBE YOUR SQUAD LIVES WINK WINK. You spend the whole game gearing up for this one thing, and they telegraphed everything so much, and helping out each and every one of your buddies with their life problems just made the whole thing feel disjointed. And like, not to get nitpicky over this, but I really don’t see why Martin Sheen didn’t just send Miranda with like 100 Cerberus dudes in a couple ships to deal with the Collectors. Seriously. Would have been so much easier.
The suicide mission concept in ME3 worked much better – which is to say, everything is completely fucked and no one has any idea what the hell they’re doing but they have to do it now. It’s the same story as Dragon Age: Origins, technically (right down to the enemy types being corrupted versions of the different races), but they put enough of a different spin on it that it still seems unique. It’s not an amazing story, but as someone who brings low expectations to the franchise I thought they handled it ok. I think I heard this somewhere else, so I won’t take credit for it, but if you took ME 3’s story and put it in modern times, Shepard would be singlehandedly re-uniting Pakistan and India and solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that all those countries could help him fight global warming. It’s an absurd premise, but (especially considering how fucking awful the opening sequence is) that absurdity wore off as the game lurched into the final stretch. I’ll get to that in a bit, though.
I had hoped that having a noticeably smaller cast in terms of party members meant you would be spending more time dealing with them, but unfortunately that didn’t seem to be the case. You have your moments with them, sure, but so much else is going on that they all seem to fall by the wayside. Meeting up with all the characters from the other games balances that out, I suppose, although that did get a little cheesy at times (oh hey Jacob, fancy meeting you here!). But then there’s Mordin’s ending where he’s singing and you’re just... fuuck.
And then you have Kaidan, who just spends the entire game being incredibly confused about everything all the time. Half the time you want to punch him in the face because bro seriously needs to get his shit together, but then he awkwardly offers to have gay sex with you and you just end up feeling kinda bad for him because he clearly just doesn’t understand anything that’s going on, which oddly makes him the best character in the game because he’s just the most transparent version of how everyone else is reacting to this situation.
Or you could just have buttsex with him, I guess. Whatever floats your boat.
Javik was interesting, but not the huge necessity he was made out to be. I was nervous before every mission, wondering if I needed to bring him, but even on Thessia, all he ever really contributed was ‘I’m a Prothean and that looks fucked up’. Don’t get me wrong, having a battle-hardened asshole who’s OCD about washing his hands and has a magical floating pack of 5 Gum was fun, and as someone who romanced Liara in all 3 games I liked having him around to flesh her character out a bit. Maybe not $10 worth of fun, but still.
Leviathan I liked, if only because they took the basic premise for the series – giant evil aliens gonna eat y’all! – and made the absolutely fucking brilliant decision to turn them into the mice from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Seriously, I hated everything about the Reapers before Leviathan, but after playing that I was totally willing to go along with whatever ME3 wanted to do. Which brings us to the ending.
I’d managed to avoid spoilers, for the most part, but I knew about the hullaballoo enough to know that the ending alone was considered crap, and the DLC mitigated that. Otherwise I was mostly in the dark – knowing Shepard could die was kind of a given, considering the series’ history with multiple endings, so hearing about that was kind of irrelevant. I had seen the words ‘Star Child’ and ‘ Indoctrination Theory’ being tossed around, but didn’t know what they referred to – in fact, I only beat the game a few hours ago, and I haven’t had a chance to read up on everyone’s year-old discussions of the ending, so I still don’t know what Indoctrination Theory is... yet.
The Quiet Earth
Like I said, I played the original ending, and honestly? I liked it. As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t exactly held the series’ writing in high esteem, but I thought they did a remarkable job in making it seem equal parts dire and just plain fucking weird. They spend the whole game hyping up how the final battle will save the galaxy, but then you wake up on the Citadel and everyone is dead and the Illusive Man won’t shut up and the whole thing was just so crazy that I thought it totally worked when I really wasn't expecting it to. Like, it seemed like the typical endgame to a video game, but it was so atonal to how Mass Effect usually was that it just... worked. I'm not sure how to explain it. Then you start talking to that fucking kid – did I mention the dream sequences were laughably stupid? Because they are – and you save the world by creating a planet of robot-trees for EDI to populate with her robo-babies. The whole thing is so fucking nuts that it’s a way better ending than the series deserves (haven't checked out the other options yet, I should add). Having the insight from Leviathan probably helped swallow Glow-Kid’s explanation, despite the glaring inconsistencies and plot holes between the two, so I can understand why people got upset initially. But a more traditional ending wouldn’t have worked so well. Maybe part of me is just glad that Shepard was never described as the Chosen One, despite filling that role in the story, but having this kind of ending feels like they actually followed through on the universe they created when they introduced the Reapers, where humanity is insignificant and doom is inevitable. I honestly can’t think of a better way to end it, because anything more reasonable would have been a letdown. It’s not an Assassin’s Creed III situation where they tacked on some bullshit about the sun exploding and religion being bad, because the ending is the first time Shepard really engages with the Reapers – i.e. the focus of the series, and this game in particular – on their level, rather than with lots of military hoo-ha. The fact that it's a Quiet Earth -esque twist that barely makes any sense is totally appropriate. I fully intend on playing the extended version later, just to see what they changed, but I can say right now that I ended Mass Effect 3 liking it much more than I did when I started.