Mass Effect 3 Ending Post-Mortem: Fans Are Still Right
WARNING: There are likely a buttload of spoilers in here.
This is a joint article authored by Phil Hornshaw and Ross Lincoln.
For some background, you might want to check out our “Mass Effect 3 Ending: The Game Front Primer”, the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC Review, “Mass Effect Extended Edition: Putting Lipstick on a Frog?”, “Mass Effect 3 Refusal Ending: ‘Artistic Integrity’ Achieved”, and the article on which this one is based, “Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: Five Reasons the Fans are Right”.
Back in March following the release of Mass Effect 3, we wrote up an analysis picking out five big reasons why angry fans were right that the ending of BioWare’s sci-fi saga wasn’t up to snuff. We felt that for a number of reasons, ME3′s ending wasn’t of the same level of quality as the rest of BioWare’s mostly great game, and that calling fans “entitled” and all manner of other names over it was the wrong course.
Three months later, BioWare has released its Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3, bringing “clarity and closure” to the game once and for all. BioWare even added a fan-requested ending in which Shepard refuses the terms of the “Catalyst,” a holographic computer program that controls the Reapers. All in all, we liked the Extended Cut, even if it didn’t solve most of the issues of the endings to begin with.
So we’re revisiting our original analysis, “Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right.” We’re looking back at five of the reasons we felt Mass Effect 3′s ending was broken to see if and how the Extended Cut has remedied those issues.
The original endings of Mass Effect 3 were incredibly brief, leaving off tons of important information. It was this lack of content that led to so many of the issues of explanation many players had when it comes to the finale of the game. Bits of information, lacking cohesion, led all manner of possible awful outcomes for the galaxy — like the destruction of the mass relays, which implied many a holocaust, and the Normandy’s final moments on a random planet, far from Earth. And that was to say nothing of the reuse of assets with a change in color palette, which made many players understandably angry after being promised multiple diverse endings.
If there’s a point at which the Extended Cut truly solves a major problem of the original endings, it’s here. Adding quite a swell of additional content, including voice-overs and explanations of the aftermath of the firing of the Crucible, the Extended Cut is just that — extended. And for the most part, the additional content is effective, bringing together both catharsis for the story and an air of conclusion. The trilogy that was Shepard’s story has come to a definitive close with the Extended Cut, much to its benefit. There are still stories to be told in the Mass Effect universe and that universe is not worse for players having been a part of it.
And as was pointed out in “Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut: Putting Liptick on a Frog?,” the endings look a great deal more professional than the originals. The rushed state of the original set of endings suggested a lack of funds or perhaps time; the reworked endings look like what one would expect from a triple-A video game title from a major developer and publisher. The stills and added scenes are well-made, the voice-over acting is impassioned and enlightening. All in all, the Extended Cut greatly improves over the original endings.