Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 6:00 PM by Tim Bowers
It goes without saying that if you have not finished Mass Effect 3 or played the Extended Cut DLC then you should not read any further. There are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Divisive: adj; tending to cause disagreement or hostility between people.
I think the above definition sums up the reaction to the original endings to the Mass Effect 3 trilogy, don’t you? Even I wrote quite a lengthy article about the utter bewilderment I felt during that last 30 minutes or so of the game, that article can be found here, so it was with great excitement that I downloaded the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC last Wednesday when it (finally) appeared on the PlayStation Network.
At the time of the original endings you could say that there was a sense of hysteria about it all, it was clear that fans of the long running series were not happy and felt cheated by the ‘tacked on’ feel to the end of the game but looking back now with calmer minds you can see that, for the most part, the problems fans had were justified. The ending was abstractly complicated, the difference between the choices amounted to not much more than the colour of the energy sent out by the Citadel, there were massive plot holes that you could have parked a double decker bus in and there was no real indication of what followed after your decision, especially when your actions could have potentially wiped out all life in the Galaxy.
I may be wrong but I can’t think of another video game that had such a polarising effect that the creators eventually agreed to go back and tinker with the game in order to provide a more satisfactory ending, but that’s exactly what Bioware decided to do and the Extended Cut DLC is the result, so let’s have a look at what has changed.
Where to begin?
One thing that stands out straight away with the DLC is exactly how far back Bioware want you to go for the DLC to kick in. Now I for the most part just reloaded my save from when Shepard meets the Catalyst, but Bioware state that to get the best from the DLC you should restart just before you attack the Cerberus base, so on my final play through I went all the way back and did what they say. What did I find? NOTHING, the newest scene doesn’t appear until just before you get beamed to the Citadel. From what I can tell nothing changes from Cerberus to Citadel so why on earth does Bioware think you need to go that far back? Surely a save from the assault on Earth would do just as well?
For the most part all three endings remain the same, you still have the choice of Control, Destroy or Synthesis, except now each ending is expanded on by the Catalyst and the repercussions of that ending are explained by voiceover of a set character and a slideshow showing the galaxy rebuilding. What is strange is that these epilogues appear to have changed the opinion of the ‘best’ ending. With the original endings most assumed that Synthesis was the better ending, everyone lived, and it was the final stage in human/synthetic evolution, but after watching my friends as green eyed circuit board skinned versions of themselves I found it a little bit creepy, a bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Children of the Corn. Now it appears that the best ending is Control. The expanded epilogue explains how Shepard is now immortal, living forever as the mind of the Reapers, how he is able to use the Reapers to help rebuild and protect the Galaxy and how in this form, he is able to watch over his friends forever. It definitely seems like the most appropriate end to the games.
The Destroy ending is more or less exactly what you would expect, but it has its own little secret to show. In the original endings, if you worked your way through the multiplayer and raised the Galactic Readiness to maximum and then chose Destroy you were treated to a short cut-scene showing a battered N7 chest plate suddenly rise and a sharp intake of breath, hinting that Shepard may not have croaked. Fans of the game who did not want to partake in Multiplayer felt cheated so Bioware have now removed that multiplayer requirement for that scene.
When three become four!
For those that have played through the DLC you may have noticed a few strange conversation options during your talk with the Catalyst, turns out that these will lead you into a new fourth ending. No one is completely sure why this new ending has been added, however it does seem like Bioware having a dig at people who weren’t impressed with the original choices.
The fourth ending has been nicknamed ‘Refusal’ and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Shepard can, either by using the conversation or by shooting the Catalyst, now choice to ignore all three options and continue the fight. As you can probably guess this doesn’t go well for the Galaxy and the cut scene shows a holographic Liara explaining that they fought the Reapers, but lost, but hope that whoever hears this message will be able to use the information to win.
Filling in the _________
While the updated endings may not completely blow your mind the DLC does manage to fill in a lot of the blanks that were created during the original play through. You will now know how your team mates ended up back on the Normandy, how Admiral Hackett knew to start docking the Crucible and you will also get an answer to what the hell the Normandy was doing mid jump through a relay when the Relays started to explode. Again, not all of these make perfect sense, the team mates getting back on the Normandy reeks of implausibility, but it’s better than nothing.
The Final Cut?
So, does the Extended Cut DLC live up to all expectations? No. The endings still remain the same, the explanations are minor, the additional scenes are negligible and it certainly doesn’t feel like months’ worth of work especially when there are still plot holes that require you to navigate around, those that played the Arrival DLC will know that I mean. What it does do though is highlight how poor the original ending was; everything that has been added in should have been part of what we were given to start with. It shows poor story telling on Bioware’ part that they even had to give in to the enormous pressure to make changes. But whether it rocked your world or left you burning all your Mass Effect memorabilia the endings are here to stay.
The Future Shepard.
So what can we expect next? You’d be a fool to think that Bioware is done with the Mass Effect universe. Through this trilogy they have created a galaxy filled with life, history and potential. How about a trip back to the First Contact War in a Halo Reach style game, or maybe the Rachni Wars? What about the Protheans? Or another cycle? There is endless potential for games so I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of this universe. There is also the rumour that this is not the last we’ve seen of Shepard, if I’m honest I think this is my least favourite rumour, Shepard’s story has been told and to bring him back from the dead, AGAIN, would just ruin his sacrifice.
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