Before I go any further I want to make it clear that during this article I will be openly discussing the Ending(s) to Mass Effect 3.
This is a warning!!! If you are still playing or want to play through with no prior knowledge then click off this page NOW……..
……..Right! Now that’s out of the way, Hello!
It can’t have escaped your attention that the ending to one of the greatest gaming experiences ever has been less than favourably received. The ending to the Mass Effect Trilogy was always going to divide gamers because as the old adage say, “You can’t please everybody”, however I have yet to find or talk to anyone who is pleased with the way Bioware has waved Goodbye to Commander Shepard.
There seems to be two distinct “Unhappy Camps” forming – those who are angry with Bioware for ruining the series and those who are disappointed with such a weak ending to the strongest game of the series. I personally am disappointed.
People who have read my previous articles will know that I am not the biggest fan of the Xbox, I accept it has it’s fans but I am not one of them, so I didn’t get to experience the Mass Effect universe until Mass Effect 2 was released on Playstation 3. The absence of the first game has not stopped me falling madly in love with the series, I won’t even change Shepard’s face because I don’t want to mess with Bioware’s perfection. The universe was bright, colourful, exciting and full of life. In a world before Skyrim it was the first RPG that appealed to me and I played it through multiple times.
I got Mass Effect 3 on 9 March 2012 and over the course of a week I enjoyed every aspect of the game, I relished the skirmishes with Cerberus, I was enthralled by the Battle for Palaven, I was moved by the curing of the genophage, and I gasped when one of the choices I made ended with the destruction of the Quarians.
Unfortunately because the game was released in the UK three days after the release in the US the reports of of fans unhappy with the ending had already begun to appear on UK gaming and news sites. I made sure not to read the articles but it was hard to avoid the headlines, needless to say I was aware that there was a “Controversy” about the ending that I was quickly approaching. During the game I had begun to formulate what I thought the ending would be, if you are interested I’ll write out my idea for the ending at the bottom of this article, and I thought that it was going to be a small minority of gamers that just wanted to moan because the series didn’t end with Sunshine & Rainbows but after playing through the game I can now see why people are up in arms.
I fought through the streets of London till I arrived at the base with Anderson, I then spent time working my way around the base talking to Soldiers and having conversations with my allies and team mates. I’m not ashamed to say this but I did get quite emotional during this time. In my eyes this was Goodbye, Shepard wasn’t coming back and I’d never see any of them again, picking my final team was a hard choice but in the end I went with the two most important people – Garrus & Liara.
Off we went to destroy the Reaper and make our way to the beam and onto the Citadel. The fight was long, hard and frantic but in the end we made it and then just as we were all running to the beam the unthinkable happened. BAM! Zapped by a Reaper Beam, screen fades outs, silence. Part of me thought that was going to be the end, part of me wishes it had been. Once the game returns and Shepard makes his/her way onto the Citadel the game takes a massive nosedive.
I don’t think I will be alone in saying that for me, the Citadel/Catalyst scenes feel rushed, badly thought out, tacked on at the end and are generally a massive disappointment from scenes we experience not 20 minutes beforehand. How did Anderson get on board? If he was right behind Sheppard then why didn’t he stop him? Where are my team mates? How did the Illusive man get there and when was he indoctrinated? Who was indoctrinating Shepard while he was in the control chamber? How did he, Anderson or the Illusive Man know how to use technology that no one had seen for at least 50,000 years?!! Oh and what happened to Harbinger?? Remember him the biggest and baddest of all the Reapers…..
Once those scenes were over and more choices are made, you are then moved onto to the last choice. You meet the Catalyst, who I assume takes the form of the boy Sheppard saw get killed back on Earth at the start of the game, although how it knows who this boy is or why it takes that particular form is never made clear. The Catalyst will then give you up to three choices, the choices depend on your Morality level but they are:
1 – Control: Despite the fact that you have spent the entire game telling the Illusive Man that Reapers cannot be controlled, it turns out they can – but it will cost you your life.
2 – Destruction: You can chose to destroy the Reapers but in doing so you will destroy ALL TECHNOLOGY! That includes the Geth so if you haven’t already killed them you get the option to again.
3 – Synthesis: The middle ground where you can choice to merge all organic life with all synthetic life. Not sure why you would want to really as isn’t that what the Reapers want anyway…
In all possible endings there is one constant – whatever ending you choose and whatever morality you are the Mass Effect relays will be destroyed. For those who played through the “Arrival” DLC on Mass Effect 2 you will remember that you were told that an exploding Mass Effect relay would destroy an entire Solar System but again this is not mentioned during the final minutes of your play through. Either way it would appear that the Universe is screwed no matter what you do.
I went for the Paragon/Blue Ending and sacrificed myself to control the Reapers. I got teary as my Shepard disintegrated in front of my eyes, I felt that pang of bittersweet victory as the Reapers ceased firing and retreated from Earth and I watched on in horror as I started a chain reaction of exploding relays. It was over………but it wasn’t.
Can anyone, ANYONE, explain what the Hell the Normandy is doing mid jump when the relays start exploding??? The Normandy is last seen in the Battle for Earth, why does she now appear to be running away from the battle. The shockwave from the explosions eventually catches up with her and we are suddenly treated to the sound of birds tweeting and some leaves. the Normandy has crashed, Joker, who you are reminded earlier on in the game has a terrible brittle bone disease, steps out unscathed from this crash into the Sunlight on this strange and unusual planet, and oh look right behind him, it’s, it’s GARRUS & LIARA?? But wait aren’t they dead? Didn’t they get zapped by the same Reaper beam that I got zapped with on earth? How did they get back on the Normandy? WHERE THE HELL WAS EVERYONE GOING!!!!
I was literally stunned by what I had just witnessed, but it wasn’t over yet. Now there is that rather bewildering scene of a boy and a man holding hands in a snowy landscape looking up at what maybe the Earth talking about the Sheppard Stories……HUH??
AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!! WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED!!!!! Was my first reaction, in fairness it’s still my reaction. I just don’t get it. I will put my hand on my heart and say I do not understand the ending.
I like to think I’m quite clever, I can pick up on the subtext and read between the lines but the last 30 minutes of Mass Effect 3 are some of the most bewildering I’ve ever come across. I’m not saying I want it spelt out for me but I would at least like to have all the correct letters.
The only thing I can adequately compare it to is the ending of Lost. (If you haven’t seen that either then stop reading!) The last series of Lost was really good, some amazing moments and the excitement to find out what the whole thing was about was tangible – nothing could have been more disappointing than not really getting any answers, Evil Locke being killed, a shiny cave and purgatory. Yep it was all about purgatory, the same thing the producers swore it wasn’t about when the Series first started! Not only did the rush job ending ruin the last episodes, it’s unsatisfying conclusion then cast a shadow over the entire series. I fear the same has happened to Mass Effect.
Yes there are petitions and statements about Bioware accepting comments and working to find a happy medium that respects artist integrity yet giving fans the ending they want. Yes there are those who are adamant that Bioware should stand their ground and not give in whilst at the same time thanking their lucky stars they didn’t mess things up. But in my eyes the damage has been done now – You cannot unsee what has been seen. You cannot undo what has been done.
In the way that The Elder Scross V: Skyrim will always associated with frame rate issues and lag on the PS3, Mass Effect 3 will always be remembered for the ending that failed to provide what it’s fans wanted most.
This is what I thought might be the ending. It is quite dark.
The Catalyst turned out to be nothing more than a storage device. Shepard made his way to the heart of the device to find the catalyst was a series of recordings. Each cycle that had passed before had a champion who had made it this far only to find out that there is no way to stop the Reapers. All of this has happened before and all of this shall happen again. All the Catalyst/Citadel does is record a message from the champion about his/her story and how they got there. Shepard records his adventure as the Reapers continue their destruction. The End.