Video game review: BioWare ending to ‘Mass Effect 3’ mars series, but could still be salvaged

By Jason Krell

There is no sense in writing a straight review of “Mass Effect 3.” It’s a great game, and only an idiot wouldn’t play it — just be sure to pick up and play the previous two first — but there’s a much more important conversation to have. It concerns the controversial endings, so be warned that there are MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead.

When Commander Shepard makes it back onto the Citadel to activate the Crucible, what we find is disconcerting.

We come face to face with the Illusive Man for the first time, and we can tell he’s completely indoctrinated. He tries to argue us over to his side and we do the same with him. If you have a high enough paragon or renegade score, you can convince him to commit suicide, Saren style, and proceed to activate the crucible.

But you pass out at the controls because you’ve lost so much blood. Despite that, it turns out that’s all anyone needed to do. Then you get up to this higher platform which has a sweeping view of the battle raging over Earth and this giant construct built onto the Citadel.

Then this hologram approaches in the form of the child who died at the beginning of the game. He claims to be the creator of the Reapers.

After more explanation of why the Reapers came to exist in the first place, the climax occurs. Players are given two — three if they fulfilled certain conditions — options to solve the conflict and … that’s it.

There’s nothing else. No discussion, no Shepard-style “make my own option” attitude. The player is forced to submit to these options, all of which have no consideration for how the rest of the whole series was played. No other choice is important in the end and almost everything you worked for is torn down no matter what.

I can understand Shepard dying in most of them — the “Mass Effect” series truly is the first video game epic and it should be appropriately tragic. So OK, the player’s character’s life is over, but BioWare took it a step further, ruining the lives of everyone else in the galaxy by destroying the mass effect relays.

Even that is understandable to a degree. The developers wanted to show sometimes there is no happy ending and all the choices made before are irrelevant. That’s fine. When it becomes a problem is when the series’ entire selling point are those story-changing choices.

Coming to the end of “Mass Effect 3” was like having someone buy you the coolest pet in the world, you spend a week falling in love with it and, at the end of the week, it gets taken away without explanation.

It’s unfortunate that the rest of the game is marred by one failure on the part of BioWare. Some fans are up in arms, submitting petitions to the FTC over claims of false advertising and starting loud online protests while others show their support.

Some fans have also gotten together and created a theory that would make BioWare the cleverest video game developer in history.

It began on the BioWare forums when a thread began on the “Mass Effect 3” ending: These people claim that, following the point when Shepard is struck with Harbinger’s laser, it’s all an indoctrination-based hallucination. The whole point? That’s the kicker. According to strong and convincing evidence, the reason is to show the players what being indoctrinated actually feels like.

BioWare took a made-up game construct and made it real. Just try and think about how insane that sounds. However, what’s more insane is that it really does make the most sense.

I’ve decided to buy into the theory since BioWare is about the only developer capable of such an astounding creative feat and it’s really the only way to explain the otherwise unexplainable endings.

I agree with many on the forums in saying if BioWare hadn’t intended this real-life indoctrination thing, it should go with it. Then all it needs to do to fix the problem of the ending would be to release some free downloadable content with what happens after the indoctrination and give a more satisfying conclusion. It’s as simple as that.

Read more here: http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/index.php/article/2012/03/bioware_ending_to_mass_effect_3_mars_series_but_could_still_be_salvaged
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