Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Riffing on the new Mass Effect 3 endings

After the controversy surrounding Bioware’s half-arsed attempt at ending the venerable Mass Effect series, it was somewhat surprising to see a multi-national conglomerate listening to their consumers and responding.
So, after a few months of waiting, Bioware have spooned a little sugar to their angry fanboys (myself included), in the form of Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, a weighty download which adds more background and more explanation to the threadbare mess the game came packaged with.
Obviously, spoilers ahead, so consider yourself warned.

As well as expanding on the ‘control’, ‘destroy’ and ‘synthesis’ endings offered by the original game, the Extended Cut includes a fourth option - ‘Refusal’. This sees the angry AI powering the Citadel and the Reapers complete their harvest of the galaxy’s intelligent races, and ends with the following civilisation living in peace, having heeded the warnings left by Asari scientist Liara T’soni. Bit of a cop-out, but not a bad addition to the line up.

As for the three traditional endings the download adds a whole lot of extra content, including conversation options with the ‘Star-Child’ AI as to its origin and purpose – and why the heck it’s doing what it’s doing.

Also explained is why the Normandy was in jump space when the Crucible fired and how the Illusive Man got there, in little scenes which play out amid the action of the finale.

As for the fact that exploding Mass Effect relays would devastate the galaxy... well, now the relays are merely damaged, not destroyed. *Sweeps massive developer oversight under the carpet*

The additional ending videos which play after Shepherd makes his decision are a much-needed addition also.

Having selected the synthesis ending on my initial playthrough, I was treated to a video explaining what the power of the Crucible would do – merge synthetic and organic DNA into new life – followed by a series of still images detailing the results of my actions: Geth and Quarians on their shared home planet, Krogan babies and the like.

The destroy ending shows a similar slide-reel of images, with a voice over bemoaning the destruction brought by the Reapers, and how the galaxy will have to rebuild.

The control ending – previously nonsensical rubbish – is by far the best of the three now, making Shepherd out to be a legendary hero who gave himself to the cause, and ends up a benevolent, spiritual military dictator, getting the Reapers to rebuild the relays and protect the galaxy. And yes, that’s still ripping off the original Deus Ex.

Overall, the Extended Cut adds enough background, exposition and explanation to make Mass Effect 3’s laughable ending a little more plausible to its legion of fans.

Sure, it still leaves a number of questions unanswered, but on the whole it was a welcome addition – and one which should of been included in the first place.

Sadly, however, all the hard work you go to to unite the galaxy to face the Reapers still means very little. You can’t fail, it’s still an A,B,C choice – but at least this time you get to know what happens when you push the magic button.