06 January 2014

Mass Effect: How Not to End a Series

To say the Mass Effect series was good is a drastic understatement in my opinion. The series as a whole is in fact one of the best I've ever played. However, when the folks at BioWare decided they were tired of making Mass Effect games, they took it out on us fans.

To set the stage for my utter disappointment, I must tell you that I played all the Mass Effect games, and played ME3 right after release. That was before the extended endings were released, although they had little to no effect in "fixing" anything.

First, I go through the hybrid ending (green), figuring it would be an optimal ending. After seeing it, it twinged as slightly evil because you were forcing a fundamental change on the entire universe that no one asked for. Then I do the "good" (blue) ending thinking it would be... well... good. However, the "good" ending realized the goal of a power-hungry villain and leads your character to not only sacrifice himself, but also his moral center. Also, the cut scenes were the EXACT SAME with minor animation differences and a different color explosion. So I thought, "oh the colors must just be reversed or something". So then I did the red ending, thinking it would be the good ending. It also had the EXACT SAME cut scenes with minor animation differences and a different color explosion. The red ending was also bad and a temporary solution, but it seemed the only ending to fit with themes from the previous titles in the series. If you have enough war assets, it's also the only ending with even a hint of the main character surviving. There's also a fail condition that you could call an ending that simply kills every one and resets technology back to zero. And none of the endings made any sense in context with the rest of the series. They were explained away in the extended endings, but still didn't really seem to fit the way the previous games ended. The fact remained that in ME3, BioWare had decided to take a different direction with the series (i.e. push it off a cliff).

So basically, the series ends on the main character only having selfish choices which also force him to die for completely arbitrary reasons (because that's the way the star kid designed it, and the main character suddenly lacks the capability to come up with independent solutions). And since BioWare seemingly intended to converge all the endings around you being a jerk and dying, they only bothered to make 1 ending cut scene, with minor animation tweaks and color changes between them. The extended ending didn't change that, it just added more filler.

All this leads me to believe the Mass Effect team was tired of making Mass Effect games and sabotaged the ending. This way, they theoretically have less fans begging for them to make a sequel (the main character died and ended up being a tool anyway). However, this hit me as a betrayal by the characters and universe I had come to love. The "mass effect" for me has been to no longer be a fan of BioWare. Their games have some of the greatest story, which makes the series-ending betrayal all the more bitter.

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