I finally got around to playing the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC. I was quite happy with the open-ended original ending, but many people were not. This 2GB free download will provide more closure to you if you fall into that category. Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t finished Mass Effect 3 yet, stop reading now. 🙂
First of all, it’s fantastic that EA/Bioware offer this ending for fans at no cost. Hopefully, you have a save that’s relatively close to the end. I had to start a ways back, before the assault on Cronos Station, but the epic battles that follow were enjoyable to play through again. I chose to bring a different party with me in the final stretch to make the Banshee battles a bit easier and to vary it up a bit. However, if you can, I recommend bringing your romantic partner with you, as it will give you a more meaningful scene added by the Extended Cut, near the end of the game.
The primary addition of the DLC is an epilogue of sorts. There are the 3 endings, each with their own added epilogue, and there is also a fourth mini ending if you refuse all the choices offered to you. After playing through it once, you’re given a save that you can load right before you beam up to the Citadel letting you try the various endings and see how they play out with your characters and the choices you made. I definitely recommend playing through it at least once, but here are the full endings for reference (the links will open in a new window).
Synthesis Skip to 70s.
Control Skip to 80s.
Destroy Skip to 90s.
I liked the original open-ended conclusion. Yes, it made a lot of fans complain, but it also spurred a bunch of discussion – I was actually really leaning toward the Indoctrination Theory. But these new endings are good, as well, and provide closure to those that want (need?) it. Perhaps more importantly, they differentiate the endings in more ways than colour (the community were calling the endings the Red, Green, and Blue endings – hah). I liked the added scene when running to the beam where your squad mates get evacuated. I found the Synthesis ending a little too fantastical and Utopian – even the plant life is somehow infused with synthetics and everybody has green eyes and magical circuits or something. A little creepy. Great for Joker and EDI, though. 🙂 And I liked the narration by EDI. One thing that didn’t change but remains interesting is that the Destroy ending is the only one where Commander Shepard lives.
I didn’t play the original Mass Effect, but played both 2 and 3. I got attached to the characters, I cared about what happened to them and felt bad about poor decisions. These are not short games, they’re massive time investments. Yet they managed to keep my attention (which grows shorter by the day), for almost their entirety. The writing can be both funny and moving. The art direction and visuals are top notch. The voice work is exemplary (Nintendo, please take notes). The music is evoking… I love the music and will be printing out a decent piano score of Leaving Earth. The gameplay is genuinely very fun, tense, and polished. You could say, “Well, it’s an overwhelmingly massive production, …” (it is) “… everything has to be amazing.” Luckily, in this case, that’s true; but not only are the components amazing, everything fits together so well the end product is something more. And I’m thankful for that. I look forward to the next entry in the Mass Effect universe.
(But I’m content to wait a while, I have a massive backlog of neglected games.) 🙂
, my thoughts on the EC:Is it LESS BAD than the oriignal ending? Most certainly.Is it GOOD? Hell No.Because there is only one ending I would ever consider thematically accurate with the series, the Destroy ending, I am only going to list the following mistakes made by BioWare that were ultimately detrimental to story as a whole when one takes into consideration that time and again the developers have stated that this is THE END of Shepard’s story.(Problem 1) Forcing the Player to ComplyThe Destroy ending always comes at the cost of the lives of EDI and the geth. This is unchangeable, and your EMS has absolutely no effect on it. Because of this, BioWare effectively negates all of the relevance of the Rannoch story arc and the the Joker/EDI relationship side-plot for all players who choose Destroy, to the story’s detriment. It feels heavy-handed, as though BioWare wants to force you to choose between the life of Shepard (knowing that Destroy is the only ending where he is both alive and human), or the lives of EDI and the geth. Ultimately, such a decision should never have to be made because, as we all know, Shepard excels at doing the impossible. He SHOULD be capable of taking that Third Option that everyone wants. Plus, the idea that Crucible is literally the ONLY method of defeating the Reapers during Shepard’s cycle is ludicrous. Why did I bother uniting EVERY RACE in the ENTIRE GALAXY, something that had NEVER BEFORE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED, when it ultimately doesn’t matter, and still comes down to picking one of three options offered to you by the Star Child. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that BioWare outright flipped fans the bird by making shooting the Star Child into a legitimate option, only for it to result in the worst possible ending (where Shepard’s cycle is defeated, but the next cycle is victorious), as if to say, Oh, this is what you would have done? Well, you’re a bunch of entitled jackasses. Here, have some death. You lose. (Problem 2) Squadmates Leave ShepardThe addition of the scene where you tell your LI to go back to the Normandy without you, while voice-acted beautifully, was nothing more than an attempt to justify (wrongly) why these people, who have outright stated they WILL NOT hesitate to walk with you to their deaths, would retreat. Injured or not, the idea that any of your squadmates would leave Shepard to finish the fight by his/her self, when they willingly joined Shepard in a mission that was stated to be a Suicide Mission with a 100% chance of casualties in ME2, is completely ridiculous and out of character. It was a failed attempt, because there is no way that anyone who is even loosely familiar with of these characters can say that ANYONE on Shepard’s crew would comply with the order to leave the fight. And while the flight from the Crucible later was done well enough to explain why Joker flies the Normandy away, it doesn’t excuse the fact that Shepard’s squadmates left him on the frontlines in London, which remains out of character.(Problem 3) Mass Effect 3 as a Whole Continues to be Thematically RevoltingThe difference between the first two games and Mass Effect 3 are staggering. Whereas there was always a sense of hope in Mass Effect 1 and 2, the idea that despite the odds you could succeed, in Mass Effect 3 the entire atmosphere starts off incredibly defeatist, and only gets worse as the game progresses. Time and again, characters state that There is no way to beat the Reapers conventionally , despite the fact that there was never any other option other than conventional means in the past two games, and characters seemed to think that enough prep time would allow them to come out on top. Instead, it all comes down to relying on a MacGuffin of unknown effect (the Crucible, the exact use of which nobody knows or understands), and now they have canonized (with the Refuse ending) that attempting to fight without the MacGuffin results in death for Shepard’s cycle. Period. This goes so far against the grain of the story it leaves me feeling chafed.Victory in the face of overwhelming odds. Never giving up, even when everything looks hopeless and you know you’re outgunned. Going forward, knowing that to do so is suicide, and coming out alive anyway. Doing things the way you know they MUST be done, never compromising. THESE are the themes of the Mass Effect series, and the Extended Cut does nothing to fix the fact that ME3 tosses all of that in the garbage. In fact, since telling the Star Child that you want nothing to do with his options now results in the worst possible ending, it has actually decided to do more than just toss them in the garbage. It chose to light them on fire, too.(Problem 4) No Reunion for Shepard and his Love InterestI don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that most of us fans would have been satisfied with the Extended Cut if nothing extra was added, with the sole exception of a scene where a living Shepard reunites with his/her Love Interest and the rest of the Normandy crew. I could care less about the destroyed Relays, the stupid and forced sacrifice of EDI and the geth, or even the fact that I’m not allowed to flip the Star Child the bird and win the war the way I freaking want. But the very least you could do is allow my romance, which I invested time and emotion to, bear fruit. Instead, we are given SPECULATION, the possibility that Shepard might be alive with a single breath from his/her body in the ruins of the Citadel, the possibility that his/her Love Interest has not given up hope that he’s alive when they refuse to put his name on the memorial wall, the possibility that, perhaps, they will be together again soon.The dialogue and voice-acting in the sending Shepard’s squad away scene is so wonderfully acted that it serves to drive this point home. We should have been given a reunion. I wanted to HEAR Mark Meer and Ash Sroka speaking the dialogue of a heartfelt reunion, the war finally over, Tali’s and Shepard’s future together finally secure (yes, I romanced Tali). I wanted to SEE it before my eyes, played out on the screen, them building their house on Rannoch with their own hands. Was that really too much to ask? Was it really so wrong for me to want that? Well, it was certainly not what we were given. BioWare chose to tell us to think up the reunion for ourselves.Why? Why should it be placed on us, the players’ shoulders, to come up with what happens after the credits roll? BioWare stated time and again that this is the end of Shepard’s story . Well, if it’s the end of HIS story, why does every ending piece requiring SPECULATION revolve around HIM? The end of someone’s legend should be decisive. THIS, however, is nothing more than shoddy writing. As a writer, when concluding a story (or a series as a whole, in this case), there must be resolution beforehand, wherein all plot-points are addressed and all issues resolved. This does not happen when the ending is as open-ended as BioWare has left it. And attempting to justify it by saying fill it in yourself is nothing but laziness or mismanagement of time and resources, resources that probably got sunk into the pointless multiplayer mode. That isn’t how you end a series. You do not, deliberately or otherwise, leave loose ends dangling like a fish on a hook.(Conclusion)Does the EC provide a bit more closure? Sure it does, but it’s for just about everything that doesn’t matter to me, never giving me (and several other fans like myself) what we truly wanted. I wanted my work to bring peace to the quarians and the geth to mean something. Instead, EDI and the geth die unless I give up every ideal I have fought for the past two games and compromise on an ending other than Destroy. And even without that fact, Synthesis and Control still negate the one other thing I wanted out of this conclusion to Shepard’s story for my relationship with Tali to bear fruit. If BioWare wanted to please me, just about everything in this Extended Cut was unnecesary. A lot of us fans were ready to call the ending fixed just so long as there was a reunion with our Love Interest and the Normandy crew at the end. Instead, we are given SPECULATION, and told to think up a reunion for ourselves.This is supposed to be the end of a legend, yet there are too many threads left hanging about, blowing wistfully in the wind. It’s shoddy writing, no more, no less. And like I said, yeah, it’s better than the steaming pile of garbage that the oriignal endings were. But that doesn’t make it GOOD in my eyes.Thank you all who took the time to read this. While we may have differing opinions on the matter, I respect each and everyone of your viewpoints. And, despite all of my anger, thank you, Bioware. You made a series that I loved more than I can adequately describe, and even these endings can never take that away from me. No matter how much vitriol I may spew at you from these lips of mine, I shall always love you for the fact that you gave me Mass Effect.Keelah’Selai