Monday, August 13

Mass Effect 3 ending

I finally finished ME3 and have gotten to see what all the fuss over the ending was about. I played the unimproved ending because I wanted to get a taste for it and...I found it to be choppy. Characters popped in, or events happened post climactic choice that didn't connect with where I had last known they were at. The discussion I had with the Catalyst lacked exposition and I didn't really feel like this was as well fleshed out as it should have been. I knew the choices mattered but the weight of those choices wasn't really presented very well, I thought.

I read Film Critic Hulk's review of the ending though and I have to agree with him on many points: the game's story isn't there to answer your questions about how or why the Universe came to light. The story is there to remind us that we have been fighting wars like this for a very, very long time and the 'best' ending is one that strongly suggests that evolution is the best way forward, to the next cycle. 

I also watched the 'Extended Cut' endings (excepting the one I chose: I have another character to play and will likely pick the same choice so it will be interesting to see how things shift) and found those to be very, very illuminating. Suddenly there were conversation choices that hadn't appeared when I had played through and plot points to help the end sequences connect together. The drawback is that now the endings seem to have a little too much explanation after the fact and not quite enough before so again, players make the choice 'blind.' 

This may be intentional and if so, it feels a little weird for the series. Choices, especially big ones, were always given context so they could be meaningful. To have information dumped after the fact is realistic (we don't know the consequences until we make the choice) it's opposition to previous actions in the series can be a cause for discomfort. Plus, they don't really tell you anything: The Universe keeps going and you can count on shit getting weird again.

However, I am finding that I appreciate the stories and endings that tell me a bit less. I am thinking of the Dark Tower series which ends much the same way: everything starts over, except this time, Roland knows more. The Matrix trilogy does this too: Reboot but with a chance for peace.

Because what else can you do? Human history has been recorded for a long time and we still have the same stories being told to us about love, death, dishonor, greed, and courage. Why is that? 

I have to conclude it is because human beings are still working similar patterns. Not the same. I cannot conclude that it's the same: our behavior has changed over the centuries. But close enough, maybe so close, that it is difficult to distinguish between the cycles. Eventually, those cycles are going to change: either for the better or those cycles for humans, at least, will be eliminated.

What else can you say when you confront God, you know? What is God going to say to you?

"This is the best I could do. Now you have a chance to fix it: what is your choice?"
And the best ending has you starting over but evolved. The other three endings all lead back to where you start: either a fractured galaxy will evolve, or a united galaxy against a creepy overlord who just has 'your best interests at heart' or, in the added secret ending: You lose and the Reaper cycle starts all over.

How could anyone do better? To give the audience a simple victory would be to spit on all the complexity that Bioware had been working on for years! To insist on losing would be a terrible crime against an audience that was rooting for and cheering and hoping that this could be their generation's Star Wars. You cannot betray your audience in such a manner: That's one of the unbreakable rules.

So you have to take the difficult way out, which is to say: You got here, now start again. Good luck.

Not sure what else people could've asked for.

That said: All the complaints about the plot points not sticking together in the endgame, that I feel is dead on and I'm glad they addressed it. Also, the Earth sequence was savagely difficult for me and I'd had my galactic readiness up to 100%. I cannot imagine how frustrating it would have been if I had not done that. (Although I probably did not choose the best team so that's my bad. Even so, it was punishingly difficult.)
And that is that.

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