(Spoilers) Why I love Mass Effect 3, but hate video game fans

Posted by wh1terav3n (656 posts) -

(Note this post is rife with Mass Effect, Hunger Games, and Bastion spoilers)

The characters and story. I could end this blog post right here, but I'm guessing that isn't enough. I avoided every possible spoiler on my journey through Mass Effect 3, just as I did in Mass Effect 2, and probably more through luck, Mass Effect 1. I was not, however, immune to the heated seemingly one-sided debate that has pervaded the internet thoroughly. I kept waiting for a moment to hit me at the end of ME3 where I would hate it. I didn't hit that point. These are my reasons why.

I'm going to back up. I entered Mass Effect 1 wide-eyed and wonderstruck. Here was a universe, a galaxy, realized in a way I hadn't seen in video game form. Star Trek and Star Wars had a universe, a Song of Ice and Fire had a universe, Ender's game had a universe. But a video game? Many have tried, and some have done well, like (opinions, people) Halo, but nothing like this. It wasn't until I was halfway or more through Mass Effect 1 that that reason for loving the game waned, not because it wasn't still as good, but because something else took it's place: Commander Shepard and the Normandy crew. I have beaten ME1 numerous times, but that first Shepard will always be my Shepard. He made difficult decisions. Lieutenant Kaiden Alenko died because of it. He saw the galaxy teeter to destruction and stopped it, a classic hero's tale.

He moved on in Mass Effect 2, resurrecting from death. He made new friends, new enemies, some died (mainly his enemies), but he emerged. Another hero's tale. He saved humanity from a gruesome death. He saved much of his crew. He met a best friend and lover. He made it through, scarred, but through. He held it together, still the hero. He saw death again, and defeated it, not completely unscathed, but it was defeated before it could wreak havoc. It was a darker, yet still classic hero's tale. He won.

My Shepard, through Mass Effect 3, has watched the galaxy teeter closer to the edge of death, and his ability to save everyone wanes. He is a man who has been in control, but now he faces an enemy so powerful, that he has no control, no ability to save those around him. When he reaches that final room, he is presented with a choice. The options are not of his making, because the powers at play are so beyond him, they may as well be gods. So he made his choice, doing whatever he could to stop the death, not only for those he loved, but for the future, and he died with that choice. There is no happy ending, no win condition. Not this time. My Shepard has fought and fought and killed, and enslaved, and murdered to try and make the galaxy a place of peace. Shepard is willing to die to accomplish that goal, and he proved it.

Mass Effect as a series has moved me in ways that very few other art forms have. I have been destroyed emotionally by very few books, very few movies, very few TV shows (dammit Chuck), and even fewer video games. Letting Commander Shepard die wasn't something I couldn't do without tears and sorrow. I'm a grown man dammit, and I'm so extraordinarily happy that Mass Effect 3 has left me in a somber, melancholy, emotionally fragile state. Why? Because that's what art is meant to do. It affects you. Maybe you don't play games for anything but the fun and the gameplay (and if the number of death threats to that Bioware writer are any indication, there are a significant number of you) and that's fine. Perfectly fine. Just don't complain that not all games fit that mold. Some books are pulp. Some movies are Die Hard. To think that fans of that genre would trash a movie that isn't Die Hard for not being Die Hard-like enough is mind-boggling, yet that's what's happened here.

When the Hunger Games' third book (Mockingjay) ended, I felt empty inside. You know why? Because the author tried to knot up everything in a pretty bow. The author tried to tell me that after everything that girl went through, she was okay in the end. The murder, the lies, she lives happily ever after? Bull shit. She's an emotionally wrecked husk of a human being, and she got over it? Like hell she did. Yet this is exactly what people want from Mass Effect 3. You say that's not your Shepard? You're wrong. Your Shepard may be a bad-ass, but Bioware set up the story of a hero, how that hero accomplishes his goal is up to you, but his goal is not. He may have been a harder man than Katniss Everdeen, but he's a hero, and even a hero accustomed to ordering death has a breaking point, or he is no longer a hero, but a murderer. Perhaps Bioware/EA didn't communicate clearly enough what kind of video game this is. Fine, I'll buy that, they want sales like Call of Duty (pulp if there ever was any). That still doesn't give you the right to demand a different type of game, period. Mass Effect 3 ended the way it did because it's a story and for it to end any other way wouldn't be a credit to everything Bioware has built in this series.

Now that Bioware has come out and said they're providing more closure I'm terrified. I'm scared of what this means. Will Bioware destroy the piece of art they created for some fans (who will still complain about this) who don't understand what they made, or don't care? This is so unbelievably dangerous. Bastion ended in a melancholy, perfect way for what it was. It, like Mass Effect, was wrapped in fun gameplay. It, like Mass Effect ended in a gut-wrenching way. Do you forget everything you've done, the friends you've made in order to save the world? Or do you let it die and keep your friendships intact? I don't understand why the Mass Effect response wasn't formulated against Bastion, it's a similar situation. Is it because it was indie, or because the time investment was smaller? In any case, what this is telling publishers is "We only want pulp out of our big-budget games, leave the emotion to the indies", which is not only steps back for Video Games, but it could very well destroy it as a storytelling medium if unchecked.

Hate me if you like, I'm only telling it how I see it.

Quick edit: I'm not saying the game or ending is perfect. It has some plot holes and oddities, however, the ending is still right in my opinion. The people mad about the plot-holes have a right to be, it's very strange, but that's not what Bioware is addressing, they're "adding closure", which I think is ridiculous.

For a more in-depth point-counterpoint of Mass Effect 3's ending, Ben Kuchera's post on the matter over at the Penny Arcade report is great: http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/why-the-ending-of-mass-effect-3-was-satifying-and-worthy-of-the-series-mass

#1 Posted by wh1terav3n (656 posts) -

(Note this post is rife with Mass Effect, Hunger Games, and Bastion spoilers)

The characters and story. I could end this blog post right here, but I'm guessing that isn't enough. I avoided every possible spoiler on my journey through Mass Effect 3, just as I did in Mass Effect 2, and probably more through luck, Mass Effect 1. I was not, however, immune to the heated seemingly one-sided debate that has pervaded the internet thoroughly. I kept waiting for a moment to hit me at the end of ME3 where I would hate it. I didn't hit that point. These are my reasons why.

I'm going to back up. I entered Mass Effect 1 wide-eyed and wonderstruck. Here was a universe, a galaxy, realized in a way I hadn't seen in video game form. Star Trek and Star Wars had a universe, a Song of Ice and Fire had a universe, Ender's game had a universe. But a video game? Many have tried, and some have done well, like (opinions, people) Halo, but nothing like this. It wasn't until I was halfway or more through Mass Effect 1 that that reason for loving the game waned, not because it wasn't still as good, but because something else took it's place: Commander Shepard and the Normandy crew. I have beaten ME1 numerous times, but that first Shepard will always be my Shepard. He made difficult decisions. Lieutenant Kaiden Alenko died because of it. He saw the galaxy teeter to destruction and stopped it, a classic hero's tale.

He moved on in Mass Effect 2, resurrecting from death. He made new friends, new enemies, some died (mainly his enemies), but he emerged. Another hero's tale. He saved humanity from a gruesome death. He saved much of his crew. He met a best friend and lover. He made it through, scarred, but through. He held it together, still the hero. He saw death again, and defeated it, not completely unscathed, but it was defeated before it could wreak havoc. It was a darker, yet still classic hero's tale. He won.

My Shepard, through Mass Effect 3, has watched the galaxy teeter closer to the edge of death, and his ability to save everyone wanes. He is a man who has been in control, but now he faces an enemy so powerful, that he has no control, no ability to save those around him. When he reaches that final room, he is presented with a choice. The options are not of his making, because the powers at play are so beyond him, they may as well be gods. So he made his choice, doing whatever he could to stop the death, not only for those he loved, but for the future, and he died with that choice. There is no happy ending, no win condition. Not this time. My Shepard has fought and fought and killed, and enslaved, and murdered to try and make the galaxy a place of peace. Shepard is willing to die to accomplish that goal, and he proved it.

Mass Effect as a series has moved me in ways that very few other art forms have. I have been destroyed emotionally by very few books, very few movies, very few TV shows (dammit Chuck), and even fewer video games. Letting Commander Shepard die wasn't something I couldn't do without tears and sorrow. I'm a grown man dammit, and I'm so extraordinarily happy that Mass Effect 3 has left me in a somber, melancholy, emotionally fragile state. Why? Because that's what art is meant to do. It affects you. Maybe you don't play games for anything but the fun and the gameplay (and if the number of death threats to that Bioware writer are any indication, there are a significant number of you) and that's fine. Perfectly fine. Just don't complain that not all games fit that mold. Some books are pulp. Some movies are Die Hard. To think that fans of that genre would trash a movie that isn't Die Hard for not being Die Hard-like enough is mind-boggling, yet that's what's happened here.

When the Hunger Games' third book (Mockingjay) ended, I felt empty inside. You know why? Because the author tried to knot up everything in a pretty bow. The author tried to tell me that after everything that girl went through, she was okay in the end. The murder, the lies, she lives happily ever after? Bull shit. She's an emotionally wrecked husk of a human being, and she got over it? Like hell she did. Yet this is exactly what people want from Mass Effect 3. You say that's not your Shepard? You're wrong. Your Shepard may be a bad-ass, but Bioware set up the story of a hero, how that hero accomplishes his goal is up to you, but his goal is not. He may have been a harder man than Katniss Everdeen, but he's a hero, and even a hero accustomed to ordering death has a breaking point, or he is no longer a hero, but a murderer. Perhaps Bioware/EA didn't communicate clearly enough what kind of video game this is. Fine, I'll buy that, they want sales like Call of Duty (pulp if there ever was any). That still doesn't give you the right to demand a different type of game, period. Mass Effect 3 ended the way it did because it's a story and for it to end any other way wouldn't be a credit to everything Bioware has built in this series.

Now that Bioware has come out and said they're providing more closure I'm terrified. I'm scared of what this means. Will Bioware destroy the piece of art they created for some fans (who will still complain about this) who don't understand what they made, or don't care? This is so unbelievably dangerous. Bastion ended in a melancholy, perfect way for what it was. It, like Mass Effect, was wrapped in fun gameplay. It, like Mass Effect ended in a gut-wrenching way. Do you forget everything you've done, the friends you've made in order to save the world? Or do you let it die and keep your friendships intact? I don't understand why the Mass Effect response wasn't formulated against Bastion, it's a similar situation. Is it because it was indie, or because the time investment was smaller? In any case, what this is telling publishers is "We only want pulp out of our big-budget games, leave the emotion to the indies", which is not only steps back for Video Games, but it could very well destroy it as a storytelling medium if unchecked.

Hate me if you like, I'm only telling it how I see it.

Quick edit: I'm not saying the game or ending is perfect. It has some plot holes and oddities, however, the ending is still right in my opinion. The people mad about the plot-holes have a right to be, it's very strange, but that's not what Bioware is addressing, they're "adding closure", which I think is ridiculous.

For a more in-depth point-counterpoint of Mass Effect 3's ending, Ben Kuchera's post on the matter over at the Penny Arcade report is great: http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/why-the-ending-of-mass-effect-3-was-satifying-and-worthy-of-the-series-mass

#2 Posted by Jay444111 (2441 posts) -

The ending of ME3 was one of the laziest and dumbest things I have seen in serious fiction in my ENTIRE life. Hell, even the dark tower series ended on a better note!

The ME3 ending is completely unfinished and even makes the star wars prequels look good. ME3's ending is so littered with plot holes and contradictions to what YOU have done throughout the games that anyone that defends such a ending should be deemed insane. There is no defending the literally countless bullshit writing moves done in the last 5 minutes that it blows my mind that no one saw this coming!

The endings are shit, pure and simple, it is not because of the no happy ending or the fact that no one wins outright. I would actually be fine with that IF they did it right. However, with the way they ruined player choice completely. Bioware can fuck off a cliff for all I care anymore.

We wanted the option of a good ending, a sacrifice ending, and the Reapers win ending. Instead, all we got were three different colors. We were PROMISED the fact that we could get 16 DIFFERENT endings a MONTH before the game came out... that is false advertisement completely and shows how horrible Bioware has become. Not EA, because I even think if EA saw the ending, they would DEMAND it being changed themselves. It truly is that bad when you look at it as a writer that it is fucking amazing that they destroyed an entire franchise with this ending.

Even I, one who loved 1 and 2 will probably never play them again due to this. Why play if my choices mean nothing?

Don't even use the 'artistic integrity' bullshit on me either. They gave that one up when they sold a squadmate on disc at you/gave you a horrid ending and promised to bring more DLC AFTER the ending... Sure the first two games are art. But three? No, we want it remade. For real, we want this to be remade right here right now for what we got, for how many hours we spent in this universe only to have it not matter. Bioware can fuck off honestly.

#3 Posted by WarlordPayne (694 posts) -

My problem with the ending wasn't that it was sad. The scenes involving the Normandy made no sense at all, and no choice that you made throughout the entire series, including the very final one, had any significant impact on the ending.

Mass Effect 3's ending should have hit me at least as hard as Persona 3's did, considering the similarities and how invested I was in each game. P3 left me feeling empty and confused for a good long while before I could organize my thoughts and how I felt about it. ME3 was so nonsensical that I spent my time trying to figure out what in the hell Joker was doing and how Tali got back on the Normandy rather than the emotional impact of the final scenes.

The ending that players were given was poorly executed, and that's my problem with it.

#4 Posted by PSNgamesun (394 posts) -

These games r just awesome ME3 is great but the ending is filled with holes but the road to get their is awesome I truly feel that this Series is something special n the fact that the media n it's fans drove bioware To adress the ending with future DLC just goes to show how good the Game is. I really think before god boy comes in the game is perfect Great voice acting great everything, I hope the bioware hate finishes Soon this company has been with me all my life n I hope that the future DLC will put the hate to rest. PS. More game time 4 me LOL

#5 Posted by benjaebe (2783 posts) -

The ending to Mass Effect 3 left a lot to be desired and reeks of them running out of time or something just because of all the plotholes, but viewing the game as a whole I really enjoyed it. The response to Bioware in general has been pretty fucking overzealous and stupid though. We get it, the ending was bad and people want it changed, but fan reaction is bordering on disturbing at this point.

#6 Posted by wh1terav3n (656 posts) -

After watching the indoctrination theory, it does change my feelings. The ending makes more sense now, the plot holes are filled in a fairly convincing way. That said, if they then continue the story and ending through DLC, forcing players to have DLC to see the "rest" of the ending. That's absurd. For any who haven't seen it, here is the indoctrination theory (though probably more like fact)

#7 Posted by Aetheldod (3495 posts) -

You know it would´ve been fine if this was the ending of 1 game , but we are talking about 3 games and 5 years of player investment into a charater/world that was supposed to be shaped by the player all the way till the end (including the end). That been taken awayt in the last possible minute to only provide 3 same endings with differnt colors after saying time again that  wouldnt be the case , it is maddening ,  and people are just telling the truth. You know what would´ve appased me is that they just aknowledged that my LI (Liara or decendants) was/would be the stargazer and talking about Shepard. Worst thing is they already did the same to Dragon age 2 and people were up in arms about it (among other things , altho I loved the game  , except the ending) it shouldn´t come as a surprise and this time people are right to complain about unfullfiled promises by Bioware.

#8 Posted by Karkarov (2942 posts) -

@wh1terav3n said:

After watching the indoctrination theory, it does change my feelings. The ending makes more sense now, the plot holes are filled in a fairly convincing way. That said, if they then continue the story and ending through DLC, forcing players to have DLC to see the "rest" of the ending. That's absurd. For any who haven't seen it, here is the indoctrination theory (though probably more like fact)

Uh dude Bioware has already said through various means that the game ends exactly how they intended it to. In april they play to put out some things to "clarify" the ending, but they haven't said jack about changing it. The indoctrination theory is just fan ramblings and supposition.

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