After seeing my twitter feed get hammered by all the game journalists I follow bash on fans for not liking the ending to Mass Effect 3, I felt a need to wrote more on the subject. Elaborate if you will. The issue isn’t that the game ends on a downer. The issue is the ending isn’t representative of the game. The game, by and large, is the product of story and mechanics. In Mass Effect 3’s place, the mechanic IS the story. What characters live and die, what races make peace and war is largely up to the player. To have the game end not being dependent on a butterfly effect of the player’s actions and choices is one large place where the ending fails. While the “galactic readiness” stats could be argued to be this very thing, its hypocritical. The meter doesn’t care if the Quarians and Geth have made peace. Why would you make peace with the Geth and Quarians only to eliminate them with the Reapers? There’s a conversation between Garrus and Shepard. Garrus mentions that (to paraphrase) “you have to sacrifice 20 billion over here to save 10 billion over here”. Shepard answers by advising Garrus to not let it go down to statistics because then they’re not better than the Reapers. The game ending is done entirely by a statistic that doesn’t care what you’ve done, only that you’ve gotten numbers!
Another issue with the ending is the sudden change to Joker flying the Normandy trying to escape whatever decision Shepard made. How is this even possible? Wouldn’t the Normandy be caught in the explosion of the mass effect relay? Those proved to destroy entire solar systems in the DLC Arrival. Not to mention how did the Normandy even know to start fleeing in the first place? And how did the party members that were on the ground with Shepard make it onto the ship? And if you got the secret ending showing the N7 armor, how the hell did Shepard survive an exploding Citadel and drop through atmosphere?
The game asks the player if AI’s and organics can get along. The player has the option of how to answer this in the game. In my game, my answer was a resounding, sure. The geth and Quarians made peace and hooked up. EDI started dating Joker and gained emotions. Yet at the end the god-child pretty much says, AI’s and organics cannot coexist as the AI’s will always eventually start hunting them down. I just spend 35 hours not buying that solution, what makes you think I’m going to start buying it now?
And again (referencing my last entry), anyone with half a science degree knows how much BS the idea of a magic space beam making everyone an organic synthetic hybrid is. Human beings are already driven by a degree of pressure provided by blood and electrons. Electrons make up electricity. Electricity runs computers. In our real world, universities have studied and tested organic computers! Computers that run on DNA! The human body is already a machine, what makes you think the human race isn’t going to learn to upgrade it one of these days? The only question is if the human race can last long enough in a state that will accommodate the research to accomplish this.
And after spending so much of the game bonding with your teammates, why wouldn’t you include a small epilogue or where are they now based on your decisions? What happened to your significant other? Did any of the alien races survive other than your crew?
Believe me the fans voices are only going to get louder. I’m an anime fan and absolutely love media and art that involves critical thinking and challenges social, political, religious, or moral thinking. But for a machine to work, all those pieces have to fit together.
And lastly, while I enjoy sad endings, art does not require a sad ending. I’m alright with Mass Effect 3 having a sad ending. I’m not alright with people making these claims that all the great works of art have sad endings. That’s closed minded and absurd and a stereotype. But if you think the majority of the world prefers sad endings, then maybe its time you went out a little more. No one is a lesser person for disliking sad endings. We have very little time to our lives, I cannot blame someone for wanting to spend that time happily with their loved ones. There is always going to be misery and pain in the world and if we’re lucky we’ll get a chance to do something about it. This doesn’t mean we should all live in emotional misery for it. While this last paragraph is entirely opinion, I feel its important to include it anyway. Don’t close your mind.
PS – The proposed fan ending is shit. Please don’t think I’m in support of that petition. While I would love a piece of paid DLC to address my concerns with all the above, that fan ending is pretty terrible. Plus I would rather the persons who worked on it get their own chance to correct it.