Mass Effect 3 EP41: Artistic Integrity

By Shamus
on Nov 24, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

353 comments


Link (YouTube)

Well, it’s over. When we began this series I’d planned on mapping out a great big deconstruction of the ending and listing all of the failings in exhaustive detail. This was going to be the definitive listing of the major thematic / logical / lore / character problems at the climax of Mass Effect 3.

But in the end, my heart just isn’t in it. Smudboy has done the definitive listing of faults, and Nerdrage has the most damning. There’s no need to catalog every damn thing that went wrong, and in the end all that matters is that we lost our connection to this world that we enjoyed so much. And that problem is deeper than just “Why does Shepard’s pistol have infinite bullets in this scene?”

I’ve also decided not to grant this game the Goldun Riter Awward. Yes, this ending was atrocious. Yes, the series lost its voice. They bungled the lore. They dumbed down the characters with tired action schlock one-liners. Plus Kai Leng. But this game also gave us the wrap-up to the Salarian / Krogan conflict. It gave us a a visually rich and character-fulfilling playdate with Garrus. There were other moments that worked, which I will not enumerate in order to avoid re-salting old wounds. The point is, they’ve still got some people at BioWare who know what they’re doing. Also, this third game is being viewed as a referendum on the series as a whole, and I’m not quite willing to throw out the Mass Effect 1 baby with the Mass Effect 3 bathwater.

In the end-credits discussion, we brought up Walking Dead, and I mentioned how that game was written without a plan. Here is an interview with the writers where they discuss that. Note that this contains serious spoilers for the game up to episode 4.

But having watched that interview again, it’s clear they had a rough plan. Or if not a plan, then a series of plot-points they wanted to hit. They also talk about using playtesting to get feedback on the story. Both of these are things BioWare neglected to do. If BioWare had just made a rough sketch of their ideas at the start, they could have avoided wasting all of Mass Effect 2 on irrelevant nonsense and then retconning over it in Mass Effect 3. If they had done a bit of playtesting, they would have discovered the extreme disparity between their intentions and the audience reaction to the ending, and a lot of this controversy could have been averted.

When we talk about the difference between “We make games to make money” vs. “we make money to make games”, this is exactly the sort of problem we’re talking about. We’re hard on Casey Hudson, but the truth is that a lot of the problems are probably more to do with business and less to do with writing. The desire at EA to turn all franchises into yearly FIFA cash cows has got to be murder on anyone trying to tell a story like this. If the Mass Effect 1 writers had to work under this pressure, with a rotating staff of contractors, with new writers coming and going, Mass Effect 1 might have turned out just as badly. Good writing takes time, especially when you’re talking about collaborative writing and worlbuilding on the scale of Mass Effect.

If there’s a Mass Effect 4, I doubt we’ll cover it, for all the same reasons we don’t do other games that are outside of our area of interest. EA decided they want another biennial Modern Warfare-type title. This is dumb and wrongheaded and shows that the people at the top of EA really have no idea what they’re doing, but we don’t need to spend another 15 hours to point that out. They’ve decided to make a play for the already-saturated bro market of big-budget spectacle shooters instead of keeping their investments diverse with the RPG market. They’ve made that particular bed, and I’m not going to rage at them when they lie down in it.

I know this has been a rough one. Thanks for sticking with it. You’ll be happy to hear that our next season is likely to be a lot more positive. I’ll announce the next game tomorrow.

Thanks for watching.

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!202013353 comments. But who's counting?

From the Archives:

  1. Peter H. Coffin says:

    38 minute episode. You must have REALLY wanted to wash your hands of this one… *grin*

  2. Tuskin says:

    Can’t wait too see what you guys have in store for us next.

  3. newdarkcloud says:

    Finally, we can move one. When this season started, I was eagerly anticipating the discussion of the ending. I wanted to be able to throw out ideas and discuss the parts that may be worth salvaging and how to fix all the rest.

    As this season went on, it began to be more than a little grating. I was getting sick of complaining about it and sick of hearing everyone else complain about it. It’s really not even worth talking about anymore. There was once I time I was filled with indignant rage over this ending. When I went on forums to openly criticize Bioware for what happened to the franchise. But I no longer have it in me. I don’t even care anymore. I just want to get to the nest season.

    Spoiler Warning: Assassin’s Creed 3. This is going to be awesome.

    • swenson says:

      “But I no longer have it in me. I don’t even care anymore.”

      Yeah. That sums up my feelings on the ending pretty well. If I feel anything at all, it’s sadness and maybe still a little confusion, but honestly? I’m just numb. Can we be done with ME3 now? (I say as I’m replaying the game and have gotten back into the multiplayer. I suppose rather I mean for us to be done with the ending. The rest of the game is honestly not that bad, or at least as they’ve said, there’s some really great moments and I like the combat alright.)

    • This mostly echoes everything I thought and felt about the game and this season. I’m so fatigued at this point. I can’t really bring myself to care anymore. There’s still a part of me that wants to talk fixes, but I think I need to go through some kind of R&R from Mass Effect before that can really take place.

    • Jakale says:

      I dunno, AC2 is generally well regarded and that season wound up not dissimilar to this one, with many examples of the same criticisms and an over all tiring sort of feel. Haven’t played AC3, but I also haven’t heard it terribly well spoken of and I doubt it got significantly less tedious to watch when you aren’t the one playing, especially considering reports of missions that you instantly lose with tiny mistakes.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        What the purpose of me calling for an AC3 season EDI?

        http://youtu.be/EYshf589urU?t=32s

      • aldowyn says:

        The difference is that you play those games for fundamentally different reasons. AC2 was fantastic mechanically, especially compared to AC1, and that’s more of the focus of that series, so AC2 is seen as being very good. AC3 has issues with that kind of thing, so it isn’t seen as being as good as AC2, despite going back to classic AC themes of grey and grey morality.

        As opposed to Mass Effect, where the focus is the story, and yet the SW crew find plenty of room to EVISCERATE it.

        That said, even though I preferred AC3’s story to AC2, I’m not sure how suited it is to Spoiler Warning… AC2 didn’t go particularly well after all.

  4. StashAugustine says:

    The motto of Mass Effect:
    “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”

  5. Tvtim says:

    Overall, I still like Mass Effect as a whole. I will buy the fourth one (if/when it comes out) because I enjoy playing them; and for a large part enjoy the story (ending aside anyways). I kinda just blank out for the story in such a way that I’m fully paying attention, but just accept all the happens (so my trusting the writer skill is basically at 110% at all times). It’s not a whole “it’s about the journey” crap, I just genuinely enjoy playing and listening to the story to see where everything leads and what comes out of it, and that even though small, my choices had some kind of impact in some way.

    I liked the game, I will defend it’s odd choices (except the ending, that was just terrible), and I will continue to play on.

    • AJax says:

      Yeah, I’m actually still kinda interested in the fourth game despite all the garbage this game has thrown at us. I honestly want them to retcon everything that involves Cerberus and The Reapers in the trilogy and just start again fresh.

      Seriously guys, thanks for another awesome season.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      This game, and then Dragon Age II put me off BioWare. I may, one day, go and get some of the classic games, but there’s going to have to be one hell of a review of Mass Effect 4 for me to buy it. It isn’t that the game didn’t have its good points -it did -but it was such a slog. The feeling of emotional drain at the end isn’t cathartic, it’s exhausting -and I don’t have that in me again.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “I may, one day, go and get some of the classic games”

        May I suggest that day to be the 28. and you go and buy baldurs gate enhanced edition?No?Well,Ill suggest it anyway.

      • Supahewok says:

        Mass Effect 3 has an 89 professional critic rating on Metacritic, with 100% positive reviews. And you’re willing to trust reviews for Mass Effect 4? The only review I would trust would be a Wot I Think from RPS, who tell it how they see it. They’re not always right; the WiT for Fallout: New Vegas in particular was atrocious. But they’re honest, being one of the few journalists who called ME3 out on its crap right out of the gate.

        So yeah. Don’t put your faith in reviews when ME4 comes around.

    • aldowyn says:

      This is basically my opinion as well. Although I haven’t watched this season much, so my preconceptions of non-ending stuff have not yet been shattered.

  6. Halfling says:

    Great season from you guys. But this is easily the worst game that spoiler warning has done a season of. Really besides Tunchanka ME3 was simply awful totally broke any love I had left for Bioware, well okay SWTOR had mostly done that but at least that game was somewhat fun in the typical boring MMO way.

    Look forward to what you guys do next season. Hopefully something fun and not so stupid grim dark.

    Also the whole finale of the game once you get up for marauder shields just seems incredibly disconnected from the rest of the franchise, including the bro shooter elements that leaked in ME2. Oh well at least this ending really makes me appreciate ME2’s ending, which all of a sudden seems great by comparison.

    Still wish Bioware would have gone with the indoctrination ending that a lot of the fans had theorized.

    • Amnestic says:

      The Indoctrination Theory fails because it doesn’t fix problems with the ending (the primary ones being “Your choices don’t matter” and “Stuff is based off of EMS” and “We didn’t get the ending we wanted”).

      Why? Well because the summary of the Indoctrination theory is thus:
      Did you pick Destroy and have enough EMS? Okay, Shepard is on the brink of death and out of action for the foreseeable future. No one stopped Harbinger, the Crucible never fired and the Reapers go ahead with their purging. Shepard eventually dies ‘cos, duh, the Crucible was literally their only hope and they failed.

      Did you pick any other ending or not have enough EMS? Okay, Shepard dies, Crucible never fired and Reapers go ahead with their purging.

      Either way? Everyone dies. Your choices didn’t matter. Geth/Quarian? Pfft. Krogans? Who cares? The only difference the Indoctrination Theory offers is whether Shepard lives for a brief period – lost on the battlefield, alone, covered in rubble and near death, during a Reaper Purge. And you’re out of options. Two of your allies died on the battlefield alongside you, the Normandy’s probably the next prime target for Harbinger and you’re all going to die.

      I don’t have a problem with ‘bad’ endings, but I thought the main objection with ME3 was how similar all the endings were and how nothing mattered. Sure, Starchild didn’t help, but the Indoctrination Theory isn’t the magic bullet people seem to want it to be.

      • Luhrsen says:

        I think you misunderstood. The Indoctrination Theory isn’t meant to be the end of the game. We were hoping to wake up from the dream and be given better options and gameplay choices to solve the reaper problem in a more meaningful way. Of course it doesn’t fix plot holes by itself. The whole point is that the plotholes didn’t really exist/were only in your mind.

        • Amnestic says:

          I was under the impression that the Indoctrination Theory had Shepard Indoctrinated in all except the Destroy Ending (signifying Shepard’s resistance of the indoctrination). If you’ve got low EMS, then she still dies even if she rejects it and if not? Well, Harbinger beam to the face tends to ruin your day regardless. I’m not sure what choices can be born from the Indoctrination theory as it stands.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      There are still some very good things in this game,that spoiler warning has fixed.And really,its a shame that the bad things loom so much over this,because there are some things in this game that other rpgs should pick up.Your crew actually moves through the rest hub(your ship).They interact with each other in various ways,and thats great.Just search youtube for these vignettes,they are really good.

      But again,this is the case of bioware doing a crappy main game,but excellent side content.

      • aldowyn says:

        This game pretty much nailed the interaction with crew mates, I thought. You just randomly see them and talk to them, and it’s amazing. Even some interaction between them, like tali and garrus, which more games should have more of.

  7. burningdragoon says:

    The Joker scenes are what really did it in for me. Everything before the Starchild I thought was fine (pre-reflections), the Starchild part was mostly just me being confused. But Joker fleeing was like “no seriously, why is this happening right now. Stop. No. This is bad.” And then Garrus and Tali, who I had with me on the final charge, who I reasonably assumed had been vaporized, popped out of the Normandy safe and sound. It bummed me out more than anything.

    I will say that conceptually at least I like the super bad Destroy ending.

    Also, the low EMS Starchild greeting/conversation somehow makes less sense (to me) than the high EMS one.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      If I ever play the game again, I will pretend the actual ending is that Anderson says “you did good, kid,” and we fade to white as the Crucible fires.

      Maybe I’ll pretend to watch the Destroy ending.

      I have many gripes with the ending, but what provoked shouting and screaming the first time was that Anderson’s death (ok, second death -the first time I didn’t twitch fast enough and TIM killed Anderson, and then me, and then I had to do the whole thing over again) was a great emotional release and ending -and then the game kept going. It’s the opposite of TIM’s problem -TIM is an obstacle on our way to confronting the reapers. Hackett’s call is a “oops, sorry, you’re not done yet!”

      • Thomas says:

        They should have made it possible to save in the last section of the game. I had good memories of reloading DX:HR until I was satisfied with my canon, trying that with ME3 is painful beyond end. I found repeating marauder shields when I died agonising enough, I can’t imagine having to go back to TIM

      • anaphysik says:

        The cut full dialogue with Anderson is even better:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDWpd9nCKws

        Astounding to believe that they cut reasonable stuff like that and decided to include more and more of their dribble. Well, not so much ‘astounding’ by this point as ‘expectedly disappointing.’

  8. Nimas says:

    Watching the ending, the thing that struck me most was that I was pretty much ignoring what was happening on the screen and was just listening to the music. Especially when Joker was ‘escaping’ (?)

  9. scowdich says:

    Shamus, I’m afraid I have to disagree with your statement that this doesn’t interfere with your enjoyment of the first Mass Effect. In my own mind, I feel like I can’t play any of them again – Mass Effect is permanently tainted because it begins the story that ends with Mass Effect 3, and no headcannon can blow away that memory.

    My trust in videogame writing has actually been damaged. I’m not sure I can ever invest myself in a series again like I bought into the Mass Effect universe, knowing the rug could be pulled out from under me again.

    Forgive me, world of fiction. I was young and naive.

    • swenson says:

      Willful ignorance, friend. I’ve come to the point where I just ignore the ending. To me, it didn’t happen. Or, rather, it did happen, but for very logical and reasonable reasons that had nothing at all to do with the stupid child of stupid stupidness. I’m just not entirely certain what those reasons are.

      (Regardless, I’m kind of with you. It’d be hard for me to replay ME1, and not just because the combat sucks. Even if I did like the ending, it’s just… so much has changed. Can I really go back to naive Liara, angry merc Wrex, cowboy cop Garrus? And, for that matter, innocent Shepard? Evil Cerberus, though, I think I could live with that…)

    • LunaticFringe says:

      I’d have to somewhat agree to that. Sovereign’s speech is completely recontextualized. First time I played Mass Effect, his speech was intimidating and felt really alien. Now it comes off like he’s trying to trump himself up. “Oh yeah, I’m an immortal machine god, been around forever. Yeah, I’ve got a plan, I’m not going to explain it to you because you’re too dumb. You’ll all die cause I demand it, not cause my boss does, etc.” Basically pretty much everything Sovereign says is severely weakened if you take the ending as canon.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Sovereign’s reveal was the central thematic confrontation of the original game. Fifteen lines of dialogue revealed an intelligence ageless, timeless, incomprehensible -and godlike. But evil. Who are these reapers, and why do they consider themselves so far above us that they can pronounce sentence on us? What is this level of understanding that they claim justifies their omniscent morality?

        Three games later, the payoff is 14 lines of incoherent text that contradicts the great central conflict.

        Was it so hard to read Dante or Milton? Could they not have found some blasphemous motivation to give to the reapers to motivate their god-ishness? Hell, could they not simply have reprised the geth story? Each reaper a nation to itself, one mind of many minds -held in place by indoctrination -but because of it, infinitely wise and perfect, and therefore threatened and offended by the diversity of the galaxy?

        All this was there.

        Pissed away.

        • Maybe it’s a meta-metaphor for running a really powerful game company, and when your customers won’t behave and do what they’re supposed to, your only course of action is to blow up the internet.

          Or something like that.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          And the thing is, Sovereign was already heavily influenced by the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. So they already had a philosophical basis and could’ve easily taken it further. They didn’t even need a lengthy backstory for how the Reapers came to be, they just needed to give them decent motivation.

        • The Hokey Pokey says:

          Why have motivation at all? If you are going to make super intelligent and unknowable aliens, it is best that you never reveal that kind of information. By revealing the reapers’ goals, when we already know the actions they take to meet those goals, we have an easy way to quantify their actual intelligence. If we can think of better ways to meet those goals, then they must not be as smart as us.

          The reapers’ goal was to prevent synthetic takeover. Their plan to accomplish this was to repeatedly exterminate organics. Can we think of a better way?

          Of course we can; just destroy the synthetics instead. Suppose country A and country B are at war, and you want country A to win while country B loses. What intelligent person would decide the solution was country A’s destruction?

          • LunaticFringe says:

            I actually thought from Sovereign’s speech that I had figured out the motivation for the Reapers in the first game: we’re livestock. The entire galaxy is the Reapers’ version of agriculture. They set up the infrastructure, let species develop, then harvest them for any applicable knowledge/technology. Any useful species they develop into something similar to the Collectors. Sovereign doesn’t explain this to Shepherd, because, well, have you ever tried to explain to a cow why it has to die?

            You could’ve even hinted that there’s actually something WORSE then the Reapers beyond the Galactic Rim, and the Reapers have been harvesting thrall species for millions to years to fuel their war of attrition against it.

            I think I might be one of the few people here that felt that the Reapers needed motivation or they were just ‘evil for the sake of evil’. Of course, what we got was far worse then that.

            • Good stuff.

              I would have been okay with simple self-interest if we had to have a motive.

              My own theory was basically trans-humanism. The Reapers were originally an organic race (NOT the Leviathans) with a god-complex–trying to raise up both themselves and other organics beyond the boundaries of mortality.

              /Shameless self-promotion

              • LunaticFringe says:

                ‘Trans-Reaperism’ is a pretty good idea as well. It’s a consistent theme in other science fiction (which would’ve been great considering the original Mass Effect was basically a love letter to dozens of pieces of science fiction like Ender’s Game, Star Trek, etc.) and it ties in well to Harbinger’s claims. Handled correctly you could’ve also given the Illusive Man/Cerberus decent motivation: they agree with your quote that being a Reaper is the highest form of existence. As the transhumanist ending of Human Revolution states: “We can become the gods we’ve always been striving to be.”

              • Grudgeal says:

                Both are very good ideas.

                Personally I had sort of a middle ground of the two: I thought of the Reapers as a failed attempt at a Singularity-reaching species. They all uplifted themselves into these massive consensus frames so they could live forever as machine gods, only for their technology to fail to obey Moore’s law and reaching a ‘peak’ in processing power. The Reapers never entered into the eternal exponential tech growth all the futurists are predicting for singularity here on Earth, and are stuck in their current stage of development without any external stimuli able to coax them into evolving further.

                Consequently they consider themselves the ‘peak’ of evolution, having no ability to conceptualize anyone becoming even more advanced than they, and just to be on the safe side regularly cull all other species, AI as well as organic, to prevent anyone else from getting in on that and challenging them.

                That could be coupled with the idea that they harvest other species for their technological and cultural advances just in the off chance they’ve used the Reapers’ seed technology to come up with something new and innovative the Reapers hadn’t thought up.

            • Phantom Hoover says:

              The Reapers would’ve been able to work without a stated motivation if you hadn’t had a conversation with Sovereign. After that they become anthropomorphised too much to ignore their motives.

            • anaphysik says:

              Well, I mean, they *were* called Reapers, you know (to reap = to harvest using a scythe). The Protheans put all that imagery right into the name they gave their destruction.

              (Also, my homebrew PokéRPG campaign totally has a gang of scythers in it deemed ‘The Reapers’ XD)

      • scowdich says:

        Before Mass Effect 3 came out, that was what I would consider the best villain monologue in gaming.

        “You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.”

        Recontextualized, it’s almost ridiculous.

        “You exist because you haven’t reached your expiration date. And you will end because you might build robots.”

        • Friend of Dragons says:

          From the first time I got that speech, while I really liked it and thought it was well done, I was also betting that the writers didn’t actually have his unknowable motives all figured out.

          I’m not saddened that I was right, but I am disappointed that this was all they could eventually come up with when that bill came due.

        • Cerberus Public Relations says:

          “In the end, what does it matter? Your survival depends on stopping them, not in understanding them.”

          That should have been it. No need for a master plan reveal.

    • krellen says:

      While I can’t speak for Shamus, I can tell you as a fellow oldish dude that my ability to ignore parts of creative canon that I don’t like has vastly expanded as I have aged and experienced more and more disappointment. So many bad turns have been taken in series in my life, but I try not to let them destroy what I originally loved.

      There was only one Highlander.
      Same for the Matrix.
      Star Wars stopped at the original trilogy.
      They never remade Battlestar Galactica into a psychological thriller.
      Skynet was never made after the T-100 was melted down in molten iron.
      And there was only one Mass Effect.

      It gets a lot easier the more you do it.

      • lurkey says:

        All that, plus Stephen King never found time to do the last three Dark Tower books, “Lost” got canceled a handful episodes into season 6, and Greece didn’t win UEFA Euro. It really is easy and it works, kids.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        SkyNet *has* to be made after the T-1000 (or any of the Terminators) are destroyed, or none of them will be sent back to be destroyed.

        It’s a stable time loop.

        I’ve always liked the idea that SkyNet’s real goal isn’t actually the Termination of John Connor, but ensuring the creation of itself (being as CyberDyne reverse engineer everything from the chips they recover from the original Terminator).

      • I pretty much did the same thing after Halo 3 back in the day. Mass Effect 3’s ending was utterly bewildering and disappointing, yes, but also less painful.

      • Nytzschy says:

        I found this quote about the original BSG by Isaac Asimov to be quite amusing in relation to both your note about the BSG remake and the strategy of ignoring canons one doesn’t like: “Star Wars was fun and I enjoyed it. But Battlestar Galactica was Star Wars all over again and I couldn’t enjoy it without amnesia.” source

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Try this:
      Mass effect 1 was made the game it is,and then the series got canceled.The rest was just noncanon fanfic.Thats how you can go through many,MANY bad sequels,like for highlander,or star wars,or this game.After all:There can be only one!

  10. LunaticFringe says:

    I think we’re all a little worn out from this season Shamus. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but after awhile you run out of bile.

    So I guess the only thing about the actual ending I’ll comment on is synthesis. It’s pretty clear synthesis is presented as a ‘good’ ending. Ignoring the obvious problems (like how synthesis makes no sense/is never probably explained and how this is what Saren wanted in the first place) I’ll ask this: how is this a morally ‘good’ choice? Due to synthesis being so poorly explained there’s so many implications. Take the husks for example (I’m basing this off of the EC). Does synthesis basically ‘reboot’ their consciousness from before they were a husk? If so, then imagine the horror of that. How many husks would just flat-out kill themselves once they regained their consciousness? Let’s consider the opposite as well, that synthesis basically forms a new consciousness within husks. How many people do you think would be comfortable with something inhabiting their relative/friend/whatever’s body? This is just a basic example but there’s layers of moral and philosophical issues. Taking a page from Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage my Mass Effect 3 ending is where synthesis basically turns out to be a Tetsuo: The Iron Man scenario. Cause they have given me no indication that isn’t the case.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      This is why you don’t leave Hegel on the coffee table when your art major cousin comes to visit.

    • ryath says:

      Destroy and Control are both understandable. Destroy is the completion of your original mission, though sacrificing the Geth to do it is upsetting. Control is the ending I lean toward, provided Shepard really is in control of the Reapers (my Shepard’s plan would have been to immediately command them to destroy themselves).

      Synthesis, though, yeah… I can’t think of any way to justify choosing that ending. I hadn’t even considered what you say about the husks, just what happens to all the non-Reaper-ized entities in the universe — which is that Shepard basically decides all by himself to change what it means to… be alive. Even if everything that happens as a result was positive, you can’t make that decision for an entire universe. It’s morally repulsive for Shepard to think he’s in a position to.

      I still subscribe to the Indoctrination Theory, anyhow. Not only does it solve a ton of issues with the ending, it also makes a lot of these scenes way more poignant and emotionally meaningful. Headcanon all the way, chaps!

      • Mormegil says:

        Good or bad was moot. I never saw the destroy or control option because the game let me shoot the stupid kid right in his stupid kid face. So I did. Got what I assume was the “worst” ending but to me it was fine because kid+face+gun.

      • Tohron says:

        Wow, I also came up with the Control-into-self-destruct plan as an ideal solution – seems like the best way to say “screw you” to the Starchild given the available options

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      All I can say is:Morality systems are ALWAYS bad,and should be removed from games,forever.Take dishonored,for example:Your good choices require you to have two people kidnapped,mutilated,and forced to slave to death,one other person mutilated and exiled,and one woman sold as a sex slave.And you are actually complimented and rewarded for this!Basically,the games have screwed morality where as long as you dont kill someone,you are doing a good thing,even if that thing is worse than death.And that is so wrong.

      • Asimech says:

        There have been, or are, arguments going if it’s really a “good-bad” system instead of “more bodies, more rats, more chaos”, but that’s an argument about intentions, not about the results.

        In the end everything I’ve heard of the system in Dishonoured says “morality system”, since one of the results (Chaos) is worse for the player than the other. Regardless of intent or in-game justifications it will come off as a “good-bad” morality system, and that’s all that really matters.

        I agree with you, just thought I would point this out.

        • Mattias42 says:

          I though the system in Dishonored was perfectly logical.

          The city is going through a time of deep crisis do to an epidemic and slitting the throat of everyone you meet will not improve matters.

          Less peace keepers = less peace = more chaos = greater spread of plague and repeat.

          That and I saw the non-lethal options as lesser evils, after all, we are talking about overthrowing an government. There are exceptions, but usually blood tends to flow during such times.

          • Asimech says:

            I’m not saying, or at least my intention wasn’t to say, that it’s illogical. My intent was to say that it is a morality system regardless of how logical it is.

            • Mattias42 says:

              I kinda see where your coming from, but I disagree.

              What I meant with “logical” was that I thought of it more like a choices and consequence system.

              There’s no judgment of your actions in this game, at least not from the game itself. It “simply” keeps track of your choices and show you what they have cased.

              Perhaps we are working from different definitions, but to me a morality system involves being held to a code of conduct. Like the dark/light side in KOTOR or open palm/closed fist in Jade Empire.

              I did not feel this in Dishonored, instead I got a Alpha Protocol vibe. Your contact didn’t betray you because you got a 100 kitten eating points, he betrayed you because he begged you to save his sister and you shot her in the head to show that you don’t negotiate with terrorists instead.

              Granted the difference is subtle, but I consider it an important one.

      • LunaticFringe says:

        Except at least Dishonoured gives you some wiggle room. I got the low chaos ending despite killing all the targets (except Campbell cause I have a love for ironic punishment). This was because I avoided killing guards (cept those asses who were trying to take a woman’s medicine for her baby) or being seen. I argue that Dishonoured exists in kind of a weird in-between space when it comes to morality systems, coupling the consequences of your actions with a basic moral framework. I’d agree that a ton of the nonlethal are terrible in terms of morality but at least it was situated in a more complex gameplay-story relationship then most games.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Oh dishonored definitely does give you lots of options,no doubt about it.And plenty of games are lenient with their morality(new vegas practically ditches it karma system,and uses it in 2,maybe 3 instances),but it is still a broken system.And in some cases the morality system of dishonored makes sense(the more noisy you are,the more guards will be sent to hunt you later on),but in others(rats),not so much.

          • Mattias42 says:

            More corpses.

            Less people to clean ’em up.

            Flesh eating plague rats that always hunger and swarm down the streets in a tide of teeth.

            Think about it.

            It even leads to a feedback loop!

      • Jekyll says:

        I feel like a system based on the favor of different groups should replace the morality meter. Not only is it more logical in how it relates actions and consequences, but it makes the world seem more real. Different groups have different agendas and the player is the deciding factor in who pulls ahead.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yes,definitely.

        • Nidokoenig says:

          I thought for a while now that games with a fantasy setting with many gods/other supernatural beings should throw black and white morality out and replace it with the blue and orange morality those gods ordain. So if you have a god of Murder, Arson and Flower Arranging, you can butter him up with senseless murder, but all the fun powers he gives you disappear if you traipse through too many flowerbeds instead of walking round them. And you can do some weeding or tidy up a cave’s moss to unlock Fireball +3 before a big boss fight. The Elder Scrolls has the perfect setting for this with the Aedra and Daedra.

          The other problem with morality systems is they don’t do many of the fun things they could do with them. For example, with the Paragade system, everyone’s going to have some impression of whether agreeing with their side is paragon or renegade, and they have some impression of your tendencies. So why not have circumstances where both sides think they’re paragon and both let you breeze through or obstruct you equally based on your alignment? Mostly because it multiplies the scripting and voicework you have to do, I suppose.

      • Amnestic says:

        I think it worth noting that, if speculation is correct, then killing a few isn’t enough to warrant a Chaos jump. For example, if you stick to your prescribed targets (Pendletons, Lady Boyle, High Overseer) and ONLY killed them, you’ll still end up with low Chaos.

        Yes, the more murder you do the more Chaos you get – that’s not terribly surprising. It doesn’t seem (as far as I can tell) to judge you on who you kill, just how many. All are equal in death and all that. Does Corvo think setting Lady Boyle up with Rapeface Noble is a ‘good’ thing? It’s left up to the player to decide.

        Really the only questionable choice is the achievement name for a no kills playthrough – “Clean Hands”. No matter how Corvo played the game, his hand will never be clean. I’d still say it’s a better name than ‘Pacifist’ though.

  11. Sozac says:

    At first, I thought the title was Autistic Integrity, and I was gonna be like “You guys”, but then I woke up. Either way, I’m glad Marauder Shields got a mention. His name should live on in testimony to his almost greatness.

    • anaphysik says:

      “Autistic Integrity” would have been incredibly rude. Autistics may have extreme difficulty communicating their ideas, but at least they might have ideas *worth* communicating.

  12. “Our entire force was decimated!”

    English majors? They’ve given you an opening. Have at them.

    • Jakale says:

      It will take ages, but we may one day be able to properly coin the term Moled for getting 6.022E23 dudes killed. Might wipe out humanity, though, assuming we even reach those numbers to start with.

      • LunaticFringe says:

        But at least before that we’ll be able to say the human race got ‘saganed’ (A Sagan is at least 4 billion, cause of good ol’ Carl Sagan and his ‘billions and billions’ quote he never actually said).

        • Mattias42 says:

          Actually, he did say it!

          To make his fans happy after being misquoted.

          “I never said it. Honest. Oh, I said there are maybe 100 billion galaxies and 10 billion trillion stars. It’s hard to talk about the Cosmos without using big numbers. I said ‘billion’ many times on the Cosmos television series, which was seen by a great many people. But I never said ‘billions and billions.’ For one thing, it’s imprecise. How many billions are ‘billions and billions’? A few billion? Twenty billion? A hundred billion? ‘Billions and billions’ is pretty vague… For a while, out of childish pique, I wouldn’t utter the phrase, even when asked to. But I’ve gotten over that. So, for the record, here it goes: ‘Billions and billions.’ ”

          From “Billions and Billions: Thoughts of Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium”.

          We live in a poorer world without that man…

    • Zombie says:

      Oh, awesome. Only 10% of our guys died? Well Happy day, I hope it was all those stupid Vorcha and the other races we never cared about/gave much thought into/wrote a thing about other than, these guys suck, shoot them. Lets have a party!

    • anaphysik says:

      ““Our entire force was decimated!”

      English majors? They’ve given you an opening. Have at them.”

      Linguistics majors? He’s given you an opening. Have at ‘im.

  13. Greg says:

    Glad this season is over, I had to give up watching maybe halfway through, too much bile and negativity for me. The show needs some positivity to balance it out more, it’s much more enjoyable to watch.

    Hope next season works out better :)

  14. I see all of this staggering around which just makes everyone look silly after about three minutes, and I’m wondering how if a bathroom in this game can provide weapons & ammo, why can’t a football field of the Citadel provide enough medi-gel to fix Shep’s legs?

  15. McNutcase says:

    Did nobody apply CoG calculation to the hunched-over Shepard model? She could not possibly remain standing through most of that; she would fall flat on her face, because her body is already halfway through falling forward! Trust me, I’ve staggered around and fallen over a LOT; you CAN’T stand up in the positions she was managing. I guess TIM’s magitech resurrect-o-tron implanted some kind of suspensors. No, wait, that’s why your class powers went away! You’re using all your biotics to keep from splatting your face into the floor and bursting your nose again!

    I kind of had the feeling Josh was this season’s designated honey badger. I’m glad someone was able to step back and not have so much emotional investment.

  16. EDIT: Some show notes — Honestly, Anderson and Shepard’s talk at the end is my favorite moment in the entire game, and the only moment that had any emotional resonance with me. And it’s completely ruined by everything leading up to it and after it. What makes it worse was that it was suppose to be longer and a lot of the dialogue was cut.

    Good job, BioWare. Good. Job. I am spending the last ounces of the venom and sarcasm I have for this game on this one moment, at of all of them. Good. Job.

    Another thing: the reason why you get more/”better” choices with the Crucible at the end (and I had to figure this out and/or someone else pointing this out to me) is because the larger your fleet is, the more the Crucible can be protected from damage on its way to the Citadel. It’s a hidden factor that is never shown or explained. So because your score was low (and thus your fleet small) the Crucible sustained considerable damage and you could only select the “Destroy” option based on the Baby-Reaper Heart you received from the Collector Base and use as a power source. Not only that, but the Destroy beam was all messed up so that instead of just wiping out synthetics, you effectively roasted Earth, and presumably everyone else in the galaxy (unless some BS in the Extended Cut says otherwise, I don’t know). So Regina Cuftbert killed EVERYONE!!! HOORAY!!! I can’t help but think it’s what she wanted.

    END EDIT.

    Well a wrap up to another season. I’m not going to lie. I started off excited, and by the end I was tired. This turned into one of the more painful seasons of Spoiler Warning, and I think I can safely say that because, again, I think it’s safe to say it was painful for everyone. But it was good coming to this point and finally bringing it to a close. I really appreciate all the hard work you guys do.

    Thanks again for another season of Spoiler Warning, Shamus&Co., and I look forward to the next as always.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      That, that is now my ending. That conversation, then cut to white. Why they cut that dialogue is beyond me, that’s literally Keith David and Jennifer Hale at their best in terms of voice acting.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      Oh god…

      Why did they cut that? I would have accepted that as the ending. Just fading on that conversation and them dying up there together. Leave everything ambiguous.

      Soldiers die all the time without knowing if the war was won. Shepherd, in the end, was just another soldier.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Because Casey Hudson decided to cut it. There’s your reason. Everyone else wanted to keep it, but Mr. Hudson didn’t. Since he’s the creative lead, he get’s his way.

        Bioware’s artistic integrity. Suck on that.

        • Lalaland says:

          Bloody hell what an idiot. That’s one of the few scenes that even sounds like the actors are in the same studio let alone reaches that level of emotional and character resonance. Ugh if he could cut this then is it any wonder he thought his ending was a thing with ‘integrity’ worth defending. Fan-fic treats it’s character s with more respect

          • newdarkcloud says:

            Sorry, but Mr. Hudson felt it was too long and took player’s attention away from the ending.

            I’m not kidding.

            • Amnestic says:

              “It took player’s attention from the ending”

              Sounds like a good plan to me.

            • Eremias says:

              Let me guess: Unlike the brilliant ending, he didn’t write it and hence couldn’t take credit for it?
              So he downright manipulated the thing.
              Goddamnit, I just thought he was a hack. He also appears to be the sort of asshole who does not care for the success of the whole project, but rather how his contribution to it makes him stand out. This man cannot work in a collaborative team environment, it seems, and would do well to stop working on AAA videogames, since they are exclusively made by teams.

    • some random dood says:

      Bioware left that on the cutting room floor?
      I think it conclusively disproves anything they say about “artistic integrity” – if they had any clue about art, or even had a heart, that scene would be included.
      To the Spoiler Warning crew – thank you for investing your time and sanity to bring us this project.
      To all the commenters, thank you for all your insights and thoughts and suggestions for the Mass Effect universe, and trying to bring sense to the series, along with alternate possible paths.
      To Bioware – no thanks. You have lost a customer. I will not be buying any more games from you unless a community such as this gives it a positive rating. (It’s a pity Josh didn’t grab a cut of the original ME3 ending which showed the “BUY MOAR DLC” to emphasise where the company is at now, rather than a patched version, but still.)

    • I’d lay good money on someone, somewhere, probably in an executive office, was worried that talk about having children would get them blowback from people upset that not only did ME allow you to play a homosexual character, suggesting that such a person could be allowed to be a parent was beyond the pale.

    • Deadfast says:

      They cut this out? Like really? I’m at a loss for words…

    • AJax says:

      Wow, that was absolutely wonderful. It would’ve totally redeemed for me the awfulness of TIM’s previous encounter.

  17. Cannibalguppy says:

    I cant wait to see what’s gonna get ripped apart next ^^ I love both the bile and the gushing to be honest but even i was sick of this game at the end of it :P

    Less evil corporation games and more games with creators that actually care about their product please! :p

  18. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    The music in the finale annoyed me. This is the triumphant ending -why are you playing a dirge? War is sad, yes. But this war is over.

    They got this in the first game.
    They got this in the second game.

    Third game? Whiff.

    • Jakale says:

      I suppose it could be argued that the victory was too Pyrrhic to be triumphant, but I don’t really know.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Triumphant?

      Dude, EVERYBODY DIES. That’s not triumphant.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Mr. Hudson talked quite a few times about this game’s theme being “victory, but with sacrifice.”

      Make of that what you will.

    • anaphysik says:

      At least they played a Faunts song after that. A Faunts song that sounds like a knock-off of better Faunts songs (thanks to the poor mix the game used instead of the much more nuanced original, which isn’t bad but still not great) instead of the awesome Faunts song played for the Mass Effect 1 credits (which would be http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLkSnCZMXSM M4, Part II.).

    • Thomas says:

      For the people who enjoyed the ending, the music was pretty tone perfect for what they were enjoying (at least it was for me and the other people I’ve talked to seem to have taken away a similar idea of the ending)

      It’s not sad music quite, it hits a pretty positive beat by the stranding on the planet but it represents the idea that the war is over, but it cost nearly everything they have to finish it. But now it is over and it’s over forever, they might not have much new left but they have a new beginning and a new chance they didn’t have before. The imagery is pretty cohesive with this idea as well, stranded on a planet but it’s a beautiful wild and young planet. (it doesn’t hold up so well to critical thought but I think it’s meant to be taken symbolically. They probably did always fix the ship and fly off again, but that’s not the point of the ending so much)

      It’s like the Elves who chose to fight in LOTOR. They won and they freed the land, but their age was over and a new begun.

      To be honest if they went for straight upbeat it would have been a lot harder to screw up, wouldn’t have driven off the people who dislike the ender for the downerness and frankly upbeat is easier and Bioware have shown they can do it loads and loads of times before. I’m not saying it’s a beautiful ending and you just can’t appreciate it! Or anything like that. But the music fits and idea that could have been good and was good for some people and although I probably wouldn’t have disliked an upbeat ending it would have been something that I’d play and then straight away forget about (which again would be fulfilling the dreams of so many disappointed people right now)

  19. Zoe M says:

    I’m actually sort of excited about Mass Effect 4… But only if they pull off a Firefly-style low-key game this time; no big bad, no galactic evil. Just you, your ship, your crew, and what might be the universe’s last living biotic versus a malignant central government (The council gone to seed?) trying to expand and survive three hundred years after the destruction of the relays.

    I’d play that.

    • That… sounds interesting. I think I’d play that too.

      My own idea was a little different/weird.

      The Relays are gone, and planets across the galaxy are littered with dead Reapers. Dead Reapers can still Indoctrinate. So most, if not everyone is stranded in their own little pocket of the galaxy, and there would be husk-ish zombie folks all over the place gathered around their own Reaper corpses–almost like temples–and people forming Reaper cults. The setting is kind of like a Fallout-style post-apocalypse on a galactic scale.

    • Hitch says:

      I have no faith at all in Casey Hudson and BioWare being able to come up with any story in the Mass Effect universe set before, after, or during the existing games that I will want to take a chance on. I may feel different once they finally decide what they’re going to do, but I know how badly they can screw things up.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Considering that they didn’t even know whether they want to set it before or AFTER the original trilogy, yeah.

        Why in the hell would anyone think that a sequel would be a viable option after that!? Casey Hudson, that’s who.

        • Mattias42 says:

          In theory, a sequel could salvage quite a lot. Perhaps even restore the Mass Effect brand and the costumers faith in Bioware.

          In practice, I know I’m not even looking at the trice damned thing until the reviewers that actually mentioned the ending of ME3 has given it their thumbs up. IF they give it such, I might be interested.

          I doubt I’m alone in this.

          I think a prequel would be a worse idea though.

          As interesting as seeing the first contact war or the rachni war would be, considering that we know how that story goes short term and that in the long term it simply leads to Casper and his magical rainbow machine…

          Not sure I would bother even with good reviews to be honest.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            I’m done with Mass Effect regardless. I’ll follow the franchise more than likely, but I will not buy or play any further games.

            • Mattias42 says:

              Sadly I’m both morbidly curious and a bit to honest, so I’ll probably end up buying it somewhere down the line.

              Of course I’m also quite patient and frankly I can wait for the bargain bin.

              Unless it actually turn out good of course, but I don’t think I’ll ever pre-order a Bioware title again. Especially if they start talking about “the start of an epic trilogy”.

              Fool me once…

  20. “…but over the years, it has grown.”

    It’s funny how you could see that as using the Bioware Mass Effect team as a metaphor for a cancerous disease.

    • scowdich says:

      Rutskarn’s followup comment of “metastasized!” relates to that. Metastasis is what it’s called when a cancer of a single organ spreads to the rest of the body.

      So you could say that the long-cancerous EA has finally caused organ failure in Bioware.

  21. Jakale says:

    My thoughts at 13:25.
    The crucible sheds its protections and slowly takes its place in the Citadel. A man solemnly walks to a lone, glowing console. Switches are pressed, a head is raised, an energy wave pulses out, felt by everyone in the system. Suddenly, a voice. “Hello chilllllldren! This is Three Dog, owwww! and you’re listening to Galaxy News Radio, coming to you live from the pan galactic seat of power, itself, the Citadel!”

  22. silver Harloe says:

    Josh asks, “What count as synthetic life? Do cyborgs count as synthetic life?”

    As I mentioned here http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=17717&cpage=1#comment-310344 , that is one of the basic problems with the ending – we are synthetic life, created by molecular machines. There’s no magic that makes the sentence “we organics have choice, not like you machines” make sense in our modern understanding of how life works. Even in 1969, in “Creatures of Light and Darkness,” Roger Zelazny was pointing out the artificiality of the distinction. As a society we should be past this ridiculous trope. I assert, purely as my opinion, that part of your revulsion with the ending was subconsciously grounded in the fact that it takes a massive step backwards in our scientific understanding of what life is.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      This is another one of the reasons why I can’t stand synthesis. It basically spits on even our current scientific knowledge and calls it a utopia.

      • Josh says:

        And it doesn’t even hold up to even the barest of scrutiny. How does turning everyone into not!cyborgs change anything? Why can everyone suddenly live in harmony because the beam turned green and made everyone… half synthetic (what)? And what’s to stop these new synthesized people from eventually making, you know, normal AIs that then kill them and start this bullshit “cycle” all over again.

        And all of these questions flow from a central problem with the premise: Nowhere in Mass Effect is it ever adequately demonstrated that any and all synthetic life is destined to eventually end up in an apocalyptic war that drives their entire creator species to complete extinction. This certainly wasn’t the case with the Geth, they forced the Quarian exodus because the Quarians were apparently being assholes and trying to exterminate all of them for no adequately explained reason other than, “Whoops, we made a species of AIs.” And while I may have a lot of problems with that explanation, this is essentially what the game itself says; that the Geth did not want to exterminate the Quarians, but saw no alternative.

        Aside from the Geth, the only real argument the games make towards that point is the Reapers themselves. But that’s circular reasoning; the entire premise of the Reapers is that they’re ancient machine gods that want to destroy all organic life. Of course they’re going to try to destroy all organic life.

        So instead, we have an absurd solution to a problem that only existed in the story because some writer said it did.

        • AyeGill says:

          While I haven’t played From Ashes myself, I’ve read spoilers on it, and this problem is actually just made worse. You see, Javik doesn’t trust Legion and the geth in general because in the previous cycle, a synthetic race allied themselves with the reapers and started murdering all the organics. Why? Because the reapers mind-controlled them.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            That’s it. Case closed. I have a friend who likes the ending who defends it by saying that “The Reapers must obviously have some sort of evidence. The only point was that our cycle is an exception.” But now we have TWO cycles in which the Reapers cause the problem they were trying to solve. I’ll bet you’d find more if they took the series further back.

            The ultimate reason this all fails is because the Reapers themselves are a paradox.

            • Asimech says:

              Your friend’s argument is based on blind faith on the writers’ words. I don’t think they’ll change their opinion no matter what you say or gets revealed.

              • Thomas says:

                In my imaginary ME story that I play when I play the game the Starchild is written to be broken and flawed in his logic. There was a conflict along time ago, long and bitter and the resulting compromised ended in a broken machine resetting the universe every 50 000 years and unable to see his mistake because the universe is never allowed to develop long enough to show it. Another reason why I have to uninstall the EC because it becomes a lot harder to ignore the fact that the writers actually believe Starchild was right the more he speaks (and Synthesis)

                • newdarkcloud says:

                  Synthesis? What is that? I’ve played through all versions of the ending, and despite all evidence to the contrary, there is no “Synthesis” ending. I hear Bioware once considered it, but cut it because it was stupid and the entire Anderson conversation took priority because of how touching it was.

                  No, only Control and Destroy were offered, and the EC included Rejection.

                  Which reminds me, why do people keep insisting the their was a fourth Indiana Jones movie? There were only three. And none of them had Shia LeBouf in them.

                  • Thomas says:

                    Presumably Bioware did consider Synthesis and then decided to cut it, it was only dissatisfaction that brought it back. Remember I hold the original ending over the EC, so for me, yeah, Bioware didn’t consider Synthesis as part of their original scheme and it was just some hacked up idea to try and patch over the gaping chasms in their much hated ending

                    I mean joking aside actually decided to write synthesis out his canon and taken the steps to make sure that happens =D

                • Wedge says:

                  See, the thing is, that *could have worked*! The idea that the Reapers and the Star Child were a failed creation that ended up perpetuating the problem they were intended to solve. A competent writer could have made it work, too. But that’s not the way it’s written–as is, the player is supposed to accept that what the Star Child says is *true* rather than being ridiculous circular logic. And BioWare is just doubling-down on that idiotic nonsense with the Leviathan DLC.

            • Neko says:

              Don’t you get it, man? The Reapers behaviour here can easily be explained by the fact that the reapers have been indoctrinated. I mean, they’re always hanging around other Reapers, right?

              That, or it was a rogue cell.

            • I have the From Ashes DLC. I know the part he’s talking about. Nowhere does Javik say the Reapers controlled this AI race. He was talking about a race that was trying to save their dying sun and they basically interfaced their brains with computers and cybernetics. Naturally the experiment goes horribly wrong and they morph into insane killing machines.

              What Javik DID do (unfortunately) was subtly enforce the “synthetics are bad” argument and the Organics vs Synthetics theme.

          • Zombie says:

            I cannot face-desk hard enough. A synthetic race was mind controlled to kill the organics? What next? Dogs and cats living together?

        • SleepingDragon says:

          I think this shows how segmented the writing for ME3 must have been. As in, it does feel as if the people working on the ending and the people working on things like EDI and the geth had little to no communication with each other (or they wrote parts of the game and only learned about the things they were supposed to write in other parts when it was too late to change the older stuff). For the ending to work in any extent it needed for the alliance with the geth to be shown as definitely temporary, it needed EDI as increasingly alien and unable to cope with interaction with organics, it needed the crew being increasingly uneasy about EDI…

          It’s obvious (to me) that the idea underlying the ending wasn’t so much about actual meat VS circuits but about some underlying difference in mindset. In that the divide between organics and synthetics was some gap of “otherness” that neither side could ultimately pass. In that context the choices are destroy all synthetics physically, destroy the “otherness” by overwriting the synthetic mindset with human (specifically Shepard) one and synthesis, which allows for the closing of that gap, which should be a psychological thing rather than grafting toasters onto organics and kidneys onto synthetics. The source of the geth/quarian conflict was, ultimately, the inability of quarians to perceive geth as actual lifeforms and if you do synthesis in EC the first line that EDI gives in her closing monologue, if I remember correctly, is “I am alive”.

          The problem is, like you said, that this theme does not follow from the first two games and not only isn’t successfully established in the third one but is in fact undermined on several occasions. On top of that a lot of players are by this point frustrated by the game not delivering on its “your choices matter” promise, by plot contrivances and induced stupidity, by failure to establish Cerberus as a powerful enemy in favour of “magical cutscene power”… these players have at best lost the trust in the writers that Shamus discusses in his replies to FCHULK, which makes it hard for them to buy into the ending and so the vague form of the non-EC ending failed to work for them, at worst they are downright hostile to the writers, which means if they can think of an interpretation of the writing that doesn’t work they will instinctively go for it.

          • anaphysik says:

            In that context the choices are destroy all synthetics physically, destroy the “otherness” by overwriting the synthetic mindset with human (specifically Shepard) one and synthesis, which allows for the closing of that gap, which should be a psychological thing rather than grafting toasters onto organics and kidneys onto synthetics. The source of the geth/quarian conflict was, ultimately, the inability of quarians to perceive geth as actual lifeforms and if you do synthesis in EC the first line that EDI gives in her closing monologue, if I remember correctly, is “I am alive”.

            Do you see what’s so horribly wrong about that line of thought? (I hope you do, and sort of think you do.) The inherent implication that EDI & other synthetics aren’t alive until they’ve adopted some organo-centric mindset. The problem wasn’t with the geth not understanding the quarians’ mindsets (although I have mentioned before that there were some clever things that could have been done along those lines, which obviously weren’t), but with the quarians accepting the geth.

            Then again, “destroy synthetic mindsets so that organics will accept synthetic mindsets” is par for the course for Reaper logic.

            • SleepingDragon says:

              Seeing as I’ve lamented the fact that the whole merging and fragmenting fluid gethmind thing was dropped in favour of “see, geth are now good because they became REAL people” yeah, I can sort of see. I was arguing more what I think the authors intended to convey but failed both in the ending and throughout the game, not the least of it being the fact that the third game in particular presents AIs as almost all too eager to cooperate with organics.

              To be fair, if my idea of what they wanted to achieve is anywhere near accurate I think this is something that borders on impossible to convey in general, we are always going to perceive a non-human mind through an anthropocentric or anthroponormative filter and values, and probably crosses this border for an AAA game that needs to be entertaining and appealing to a mass audience on top of that theme. On the other other hand it doesn’t feel like they were even trying.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          This is to say nothing of how it breaks one of the big themes of this game: strength through diversity. As Chris mentions, at the start of the ending it’s all about bring people together, despite their differences. Synthesis is the antithesis of that, it’s about homogenizing the entire galaxy to ‘get along’. Imagine if we applied the same logic to other alien species after the First Contact War. Hell, imagine if we applied that logic in the real world to race, gender, sexuality, etc. It’s a complete insult to the player’s intelligence to create somewhat interesting and well-developed AI characters like Legion and EDI but then have (as Rutskarn put it) a ‘racist’ view of ‘synthetics’ regardless.

        • el_b says:

          it seems odd that the Green option is considered the best since it’s essentially rape on a universal scale.

          the reason there was so much conflict in the galaxy in the first place is entirely because of the reapers. They set the rachni on everyone and because of that the krogan were turned into walking weapons. Their technology created the illusive man and therefore Cerberus. The first contact war happened because of the rachni as well as it influenced Laws concerning mass relays.
          I’d imagine one of the few conflicts they weren’t ( probably) involved in was the geth and quarian struggle, and that was entirely because the quarians were murdering dicks who just couldn’t take a hint and make peace, lore even says he geth were willing to give back rannoch in exchange for peace. That actually contradicts the reapers belief that synthetics will always kill organics all the time, something tells me they saw Terminator Too many times in their cycle.

          I think it would be pretty cool if you had the option of finding out what the hell the reapers actually do and want Somewhere along the line( it wouldn’t have been explained in any way by now and there would have been no stupid baby human reaper)and it actually drives Shephard Insane and acts as a nonstandard game over what he just like pulls his eyes out or something because it’s just so lovecraftian.

          Since each reaper is essentially a philosopher’s stone from FMA I think it would’ve been pretty cool if there was some kind of internal struggle amongst the reapers that you discover or some way to distract them at the end by turning them in on themselves, after all theyre not completely robotic and might actually be affected by your successes and willpower.

        • Dragmire says:

          The only thing I will say in defense of the AI will kill all organics is that people seem to forget all the AI based side quests we did through the series. Every time there had been an instance of an AI being created in the series with the exception of the Geth (and EDI but she was hostile as the moon rogue ‘VI’) were aggressive of their own accord.

          The examples I can think of are the AI from ME1 that stole credits from Flux to try and get itself shipped to the Geth in order to help kill organics, The AI from ME2 that shipped corrupted robots that killed everyone they saw and even project Overlord with a human voice at it’s center was killing everyone it saw.

          But that point is moot considering the Geth prove that the “all AI’s will wipe out their creators” statement is not an absolute fact.

          • Mattias42 says:

            An argument could be made that AI in the ME setting tend to go berserk BECAUSE of the law against them.

            I forgot her name, she is only mentioned in codec, but apparently ME humanity had a strong AI around the time of the first contact war.

            She is never mentioned anywhere else (to my knowledge), but I got the impression that she was completely sane, non-hostile and got “killed” for diplomatic reasons at the end of the war. By the humans themselves.

            If your marked for death anyway, why cooperate?

            And these laws apparently can be traced back to something never specified about the citadel, so again its the Reapers fault.

          • Luhrsen says:

            The Moon VI was programmed to be aggressive, it was a combat training facility. The problem we were called in for was that the automatic shutdown wasn’t working.

            The AI with the money was trying to run away and only went for murder as what it saw as a last resort. It knows you are definitely going to kill it no matter what. It’s the law after all.

            The corrupted robots were caused by a hardware malfunction that was accidentally loaded into the production run, not an AI.

            Overlord was an insane human mind telling the robots what to do, not an AI.

            The only purely synthetic beings attacking organics by choice that I saw were the Heretics controlled by the Reapers. Creating a logical fallacy that should have killed the kid just like the trope.

            • Dragmire says:

              Those reasons are all fine in that it is a result of organics causing it but that’s entirely the point. As idiotic as it is, for whatever contrived reason, AI’s will turn on their creators(because they turned on their creations).

              I saw Overlord as instructions lost in translation, Geth seem to interpret “Quiet” and “Make it stop” as “Kill everything”.

              • Luhrsen says:

                Two problems. Only one of those examples has the machinery making a choice of its own. They can’t be said to ‘turn’ if they are only going by their programming, faulty or not.

                As for the example that made a choice. While he did turn his master in to the authorities, Star Childs actual words were “destroy their creators”, not turn against. And as said before that AI was trying to protect its own existance knowing that AIs were supposed to be automatically destroyed by evil organics.

                • Dragmire says:

                  I could be wrong but was that not it’s intention once it joined with the Geth?

                  • Keeshhound says:

                    The Flux AI never expanded on it’s plans beyond “contact the Geth and propose an alliance.” It might have wanted to take command of a squad and start burning organic planets, or it might have just wanted to get out of Dodge before it was found and summarily executed. Who knows? The Shadow. Duh.

          • anaphysik says:

            “the AI from ME1 that stole credits from Flux to try and get itself shipped to the Geth in order to help kill organics”

            I think that AI is an interesting case because it *itself* explicitly touts an ‘organics will always try to destroy synthetics’ line. You can try to reason with it or promise you won’t attempt to harm it but it doesn’t believer you. To me, it had simply taken that statement as a given and worked its logic from there – and with a false premise you can still come up with conclusions that perfectly logical, and yet completely wrong.

            It was just a paranoid, bullheaded, overreactive AI that had read an idiotic Extranet post (probably posted on some Citadel politics blog) and taken it as gospel.

        • theNater says:

          The first game, taken alone, makes a decent argument for all synthetics being destined to destroy their organic creators. We have four pieces of evidence:

          First, there’s the AI on the moon. We don’t ever get a really clear read on what happened there, but it is trying to kill everybody it can reach.

          Second, there’s the AI stealing credits from Flux, who turned on its creator and was trying to join the Geth.

          Third, there’s the Geth themselves. While the Quarians did fire the first shot, they’ve been attacking every ship that came into their space since, no questions asked. And they are presented(in the first game only, remember) as being unified in support of the Reapers.

          Fourth, in your conversations with Tali, you learn that the Geth were made intelligent by accident. The Quarians tried to shut them down immediately because AIs were illegal. Why they were illegal is never explained, but it suggests someone(maybe the Quarians, maybe one of the council races) has had a bad experience with AIs in the past.

          I was actually annoyed at the first game for being so unequivocal that AIs always go bad. Eventually I came to terms with it as a rule of the Mass Effect universe. So I got to be annoyed again at the second game’s inconsistency with the established universe. I don’t know the word for the frustration I felt when the ending was inconsistent again in order to bring back the same objectionable premise from the first game.

          I’m always up for expanding my vocabulary, if anybody does know that word.

        • Deadpool says:

          The ONLY good thing I could see coming out of this mayhem:

          The new Mass Effect story involves a Geth party member as a major character. Your enemy is too powerful, so you upgrade your Geth ally, somehow give him biotics, and he becomes massively powerful and helps you beat whatever big bad there is.

          That’s the first game. The rest of the series is said Geth ally going evil, multiplying and becoming the dreaded machine singularity the Reapers said would come…

          • Mattias42 says:

            According to how biotics are supposed to work there’s no reason why a geth couldn’t have them.

            The only thing special about an organic biotic is that they survived the prenatal ezo exposure, other then that it’s just ezo and electricity.

            That a machine race that self improves haven’t figured that out might be one of the biggest WTFs of the series of you think about it…

    • lurkey says:

      The synthesis presentation in Extended sounds so creepy that, were the game by, say, Obsidian or other company known for subtlety, I would totally believe they created a deliberate dystopia. You know, with all those “We are one. There are no wars. Everyone is happy. We all float down there” creepy lines droned in EDI’s creepy monotone. Not even that subtle, really. Buuuut since it’s Bioware, I’m sure they thought of this as of genuinely ideal future.

      And speaking of dystopias, control is this too – with disembodied Big Dudebrother Shepard watching over the Universe. If it wasn’t sci-fi series I would say s/he becomes a god…oh wait, it isn’t sci-fi since the beginning of ME2, so allright – congratulations on your godhood, Shep.

      • silver Harloe says:

        It just occurred to me when I read your mention of godhood, that these are the exact same three choices from the end of the original Deus Ex, with the mass-effect relays standing in for the net – and I don’t mean a little, I mean to accuse them of plagarism. (except in Deus Ex, the endings made sense)

        • Eremias says:

          I know, right?
          it’s almost like you can actually pull of a Deus Ex Machina ending if your game is built around it so much, it even bears that name.

        • Gruhunchously says:

          I figured I’d just leave this here, then.



        • LunaticFringe says:

          And there’s numerous reasons for that. For one, JC Denton isn’t a passive character when given his options. He asks hard questions and responds cynically when the other characters’ claim their version of the future is best. Shepherd, on the other hand, blatantly accepts all of the Starchild’s broken logic while spouting off terrible pseudo-logic like ‘organics make their own choices’.

          • Mattias42 says:

            To be (a little) fair to Shepard, at that point he has lost a lot of blood, is half-fried, half-dead (not even sure if the same half) and wearing melted armor that probably hasn’t even cooled yet. And that is not even counting what might have happened to his cybernetics.

            So just a smidgeon of an reason his judgment might not be the best.

          • Gruhunchously says:

            Also, in Deus Ex the three endings are presented by three distinct characters representing three distinct factions, all of whom have been explored up to the point, who want JC to take an action that promotes their respective interests.
            By contrast, the three Mass Effect 3 endings are all presented by one character whose motives and desires are only vaguely defined.Does the Catalyst want to destroy all organic life, as it has done for every previous cycle, or does it want synthesis? Why does it apparently not want to order the Reapers to stop their attack (or does it? Shepard is too boneheaded to ask the obvious) but is perfectly willing to allow Shepard to take control, which would ultimately achieve the same result? Why is the Catalyst even letting Shepard, an organic with a relatively microscopic perspective, make these all important choices. What does the Catalyst want out of all this.
            The Catalyst isn’t a character with motivation, it’s just a clumsy writer-insert designed to let the player make three nonsensical contrived choices.

        • silver Harloe says:

          Well, I was a lot slow on this observation (of course) – search forward for newdarkcloud , who wrote a whole article on the endings of Deus Ex v the ME3 endings long ago.

          I’d like, though, to suggest the silly idea that when the writers said “we have it planned all along” they meant “yah, we plan to make a space-opera version of Deus Ex” and the rest of the game went more against their plans than the ending did. This is based solely on the observation that JC Denton = Jesus Christ = a shepherd = Shepherd. No doubt that’s more of a coincidence of “both games wanted to use Biblical imagery” rather than “we need a name that alludes specifically to JC Denton,” but it’s still amusing to me.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Actually, now that you mention it: Control, synthesis, destroy and defy all options sounds a lot like the options given to you at the end of Invisible War too (it’s almost exactly the same options as ME3, in fact, and the defy ending leads to a similarly mean-spirited writers giving you a “screw you” for no reason, although given the alternatives it’s almost the best option).

        And even though Invisible War was a crap game for the most part, the ending videos were decent. And Invisible War’s ‘synthesis’ ending, well: It sort of touches onto what you’re talking about.

        • Gruhunchously says:

          The problem with Invisible War’s endings was that all of them were of the ‘screw you’ variety. Ambiguity is nice and all, but all of those ending videos leave me with an ‘oh God, what have I done’ depressed feeling: either you’ve made humanity the thralls of an all powerful and somewhat suspect AI construct, you’ve subjected them to the intrusive Orwellian reign of the Illuminati, you’ve put a bunch of violent technophobes in charge, or you’ve started a war that destroyed the human race a we know it. No matter what choice you made, you’re final impression is negative.

          Deus Ex (the original) presented each of it’s choices as non-ideal but hopeful and optimistic, and was better for it.

  23. Adam P says:

    Voice actor credits:
    “COMMANDER SHEPARD”
    Main character, list them first, makes sense.

    “Kaidan”
    Okay, I guess we’re going into squad names now? They were with us for the journey, I guess-

    “Jessica Chobot”
    Such an important character deserves such a high listing.

    They’re doing it alphabetically by character name, but that’s kind of a dumb system! They might as well have ordered it so Shepard was followed by TIM and Kai Leng credits.

  24. Vagrant says:

    Can someone explain a moratorium to me in this context? I googled it and got: a legally authorized period of delay in the performance of a legal obligation or the payment of a debt. which seems wrong in this context. I started with the thought that I knew what it meant but ended with a lot of confusion and doubt.

  25. Kavonde says:

    Wow. And I thought the original ending was bad enough with full Readiness; it’s actually even worse without. I actually had no idea that it limited you to only one option. That’s… that’s really, incredibly stupid.

    I can’t say that you guys have turned me against this series. I’m sure I’ll play through it all again some day. But having had all of these plot holes, contradictions, and absurdities pointed out, I don’t think I’ll be ever look at it the same way.

    At the end of the day, the single biggest problem with the series is that the Reapers shouldn’t have been there. In ME1, the Protheans thwarted Sovereign’s traditional Plan A, and Shepard and Co. stopped his Plan B and killed him. In ME2, the Collectors and their baby Reaper could be seen as Plan C. Apparently, having a drone race harvest resources to create a new in-galaxy Reaper to replace Sovereign was more efficient than having everyone fly in from Dark Space. This was never actually hypothesized or mused on in the game, but after spending some time thinking about it, that’s the only way ME2 makes any sense.

    So then, in the Arrival DLC, the Reapers are somehow going to use a non-Citadel relay to beam in from Dark Space. Uh… what? Wait. If they could hotwire another relay like that, shouldn’t that have been Plan B? Or at least Plan C? Well, whatever. Shepard blows up the relay, foiling their plans again. Clearly, the only option for the Reapers now is to make the slow, arduous journey from Dark Space to the galaxy proper, which–judging by how many things they tried first–is no doubt going to be a long and resource-taxing trip that will give the galaxy plenty of time to prepare.

    Oh, wait, nope. They show up a few months later and start blowing up Earth.

    There aren’t enough facepalm .jpgs on the entire internet.

    • Tse says:

      The idea was that they traveled conventionally to the Mass Relay in Arrival. Shepard only slowed them down because they had to travel to the next one. Yes, I know this is stupid. If they can travel to the galaxy in a year or two it would be pointless to try and reveal themselves by enacting plan A, B or C.

  26. Mattias42 says:

    Know what would have redeemed the scene with The Illusive Man for me?

    Being allowed to agree with him.

    (Shepard plain, TIM Bold.)

    “I will control the reapers!”

    “Sure, sounds like a plan. I’m game!”

    “… What?”

    “There is no reason for us to fight at this moment. You trying your thing first and me and Anderson can act as a backup. If you succeed we are unneeded, if you fail we might be able to do something. Or do you see any logical flaws in that? We have worked together before, remember all the good we did then?”

    Now if this would work does depend on if TIM is still himself or not and even then I can see Anderson objecting and perhaps even trying to stop you both, but the scene would make so much more sense and flow naturally from the characters. It would even be a really good renegade ending, doing what needs to be done, remember.

    *Edit. On further thought it would even work well for a paragon character.

    Broken, bleeding, earth hangs in the balance and Shepard is still trying to do the right thing by using diplomacy to unite everyone against the reapers.

    What could have been…

    • SleepingDragon says:

      Just for reference, if the control ending is available the Starchild reveals that it wouldn’t have worked for TIM because he was already too indoctrinated. Of course Shepard doesn’t have that guarantee during the conversation.

      Also, hey Bioware, imagine how well this could work: you’d let TIM fuse with the machine and then we could have giant TIM flailing around at Shepard in an epic bossfight, you could even use the basic animations of the reaper larvae from 2!

      • Alex says:

        “Also, hey Bioware, imagine how well this could work: you’d let TIM fuse with the machine and then we could have giant TIM flailing around at Shepard in an epic bossfight, you could even use the basic animations of the reaper larvae from 2!”

        I’ve got a better idea: let TIM get possessed by the Reapers and then shoot him in the back of the head, temporarily disrupting the Reapers and letting the fleet win without any Starchild ****.

        It worked with Saren, didn’t it?

    • newdarkcloud says:

      That’s actually one of the Charm/Intimidate options. You can tell him “Alright then, do it!” Turns out he’s so are gone that the Reapers won’t let him pull the switch.

      I liked the TIM conversation for what it could have been. A reward for implanting seeds of doubt as you go on. But that suffers because:
      a.) The scene itself is poorly written
      b.) There really isn’t a payoff. Either way, he dies and the same scene happens. Unlike Saren, there isn’t a boss fight or sequence to skip (Side-note: I’m GLAD they didn’t turn TIM into a monster to fight. I’m glad that was too “Video-gamey.”

      • Mattias42 says:

        Is it the renegade one? Haven’t seen that one.

        In that case it makes me feel a bit better that they at least acknowledged the logical and diplomatic solution.

        Still, they could have done something more interesting then “indoctrinated all along”.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Indeed. It’s a Intimidate option.

          Here. The Renegade version of the scene.

          • Mattias42 says:

            Thank for the link, interesting.

            It has a lot in common with the paragon version, I had simply forgotten.

            Think I prefer that one though, convincing your former ally turned enemy to make one final sacrifice just resonate more with me then pissing him off to make an opening.

          • Honestly? I think that better than the Paragon options in this sequence.

            It’s funny the similarities between this and Saren’s conversation: both could’ve been written better, and the Renegade is better than the Paragon. Both Paragons are “You’re wrong” with TIM/Saren saying “Hm, I’ve never thought of it that way,” and the Renegades are basically “You failed” and TIM/Saren’s subsequent reactions to that make a little more sense.

            • Mattias42 says:

              I saw it as casing an crisis of faith, backed up by that you need to try to convince TIM for the whole game for it to work. A clash of titans of personality, something like that.

              Again, I would have preferred a series of events that lead to him being in control of himself. Perhaps a bonus only available to those that imported their save and saved the base?

              But sadly then we are back at the big problem of ME3, that your choices barely matter.

              Still, I like this scene, if nothing else for what it tried to be.

              Granted it is literally minutes before a scene so bad that it casts a bad light on the entire series and I think that rubs of a bit, but i digress.

              • Thomas says:

                I liked this conversation and how it was written. It was probably my favourite moment of the game. I guess I had the divergence of liking TIM from the start though. It’s probably the difference between having know about ME1 and not. The Cerberus I imagined in ME2 wasn’t the same Cerberus they established in ME1 and everything divides from there

                • newdarkcloud says:

                  Again, I love the concept of that scene. Had the writing been there, and the payoff been a little better, than it’d’ve liked it much more.

                  It just feels like an empty gesture though, since Anderson dies regardless. There’s no reason to even bother trying to persuade him. No reward.

                  Even in ME1, using Paragade on Saren allowed you to skip an entire section of the boss fight. That’s significant.

                  • Thomas says:

                    The reward is not having to shoot someone and giving someone a moment of clarity in their life =D I’d never consider going for the shooting option.

                    ..although now I come to think of it, yeah why would a Renegade character be satisfied with that? Surely you’d want to cap him yourself? Wow good thing I never play Renengade or I’d have found that entirely unsatisfactory =)

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      Well, a Renegade goads TIM into pushing Anderson aside and leaving himself wide open.

                      So it’s barely a change from the vanilla, non-Paragade conversation.

      • anaphysik says:

        Forget C/I, it’s also in the regular old dumb white-text options. One Renegade option Josh took has Shep saying ‘Then control them and end the war already!’ and TIM gets all pissy shouting ‘Don’t tell me what to do! Until Some Kid shows up again I’m basically the writer, so you CAN’T tell me what to do!’

        (Actually, you know what? At this point in the game I think Hudson&co expected everybody to have the Reputation points to C/I every response, and worked all of those into their ‘beautiful’ ‘narrative.’ So selecting a white-text response is frankly a lot like refusing to play along with the DM’s spoon-feeding in preparation for their giant-good vs giant-evil self-battle.)

  27. River says:

    The one thing that would’ve made the ending actually work for me would be a
    Fallout style thing that explains what happened with every race and such. As it is the ending fails miserably by merely showing a few scenes of the post decision galaxy

    • Dragomok says:

      Well, that’s what actually was added in Extended Cut, even though the fate of each specific race is explained only by a still image while the voice-over explains what happened on galactic level.

    • Thomas says:

      I would have hated that myself. It was something I was glad they didn’t do, because I wanted to be allowed to imagine how the future turned out, rather than have it dictated to me. I’d first played the non-import version and made some choices based on hope and I wanted them to stop telling me that my choices were right or wrong and let me instead decide that for myself.

      Most people agree with you from what I’ve read, but still I would have hated it (and I do hate it in the EC).

      • newdarkcloud says:

        That was the part of the EC I DID like. I loved that we could see the results of our actions. That’s what an RPG is supposed to do. You make choices and it relays what impacts those choices had on the world.

        That’s why I would’ve love a Suicide Mission-like final level. The consequences would already be built into the game and you wouldn’t need to elaborate on it in an epilogue. Maybe you can have an aftermath thing ala Dragon Age: Origins, but it wouldn’t be necessary.

        • Thomas says:

          I guess I’m more satisfied in my own head. My choices had consequence, I saved the Geth, I saved the Quarians. I took a chance on the Krogans that they would change and that we would behind the scenes, make sure they didn’t screw up this time, for all that they lost Wrex and they lost Eve. The STG were assigned to culturally assassinate Wreave, they disgraced him and showed him as dishonourable and then beat him into a pulp and left him wounded but alive. The council found a disciple of Wrex among the Urdnot clan and filled his head with the idea of opening new relays, battling new monsters and filling a new galaxy. The Krogans became explorers slowly instead of warriors, talking of the glory of discovery instead of death, but in their own special brutal way. After a time they became wise enough to start limiting their own populations, like the Solarians choose to do, to conserve resources and because one Krogan is good enough to outclass 10 other aliens anyway.

          Or maybe, since I’ve never managed to fix the relay destruction into my plan. I will let the relays be destroyed. There were Quarians on the home world , Krogans on their homeworld and enough aliens in Earth to allow them to create new populations. The virbance, the mix of cultures and the strive to reach the legends of what they once had drove the advancement of distance technology in leaps and bounds and one day, some clever Solarian on Earth, with the aid of a young Turian cracked a new type of travel, wholly different from the Reaper tech and they expanded out again and met their old worlds with a whole new cultural understanding. The Krogan confined to one world without access to other races or technology had been forced to grow in the absence and what they had was very different from what they would have been before. And life was never again like it was before the Reapers because now each race had this whole new perspective of life coming in from their people who’ve grown up in other planets and other societies. Their fate was no longer cultivated by the Reapers and attributed to the Protheans, but truly their own. I like this. It solves my relay problem and I think it will be my canon from now on.

          I think we skirted around this idea in previous discussion but it was never really concrete. You want the game to recognise and reward/reflect your choice, but for me being able to make the choice itself was it’s reward. Can you see why I hate being told what happens and why I hate the EC? When I have all this, why do I need anything else?

  28. FlashFire344 says:

    Why do I feel this is a “Rock falls, everyone dies” ending? Yet not? I am confused. Anyways off to guildwars 2.

    • Raygereio says:

      Will, it pretty much is an “everyone dies” ending. At the end of ME3 everyone and everything Shep might have given a crap about is gone.

      The mass relays – the only effective means of space travel – are gone, stranding everyone in the Sol system and no one has the slightest clue how the things work, let alone have the resources and capabilities to replace them.
      Earth was seriously wrecked from what we saw, so it’s highly unlikely that it can produce enough food. While the Quarians did bring their live ships, they’re set up to produce food for the Quarians and Turians. But don’t have hope, because feeding two peoples is likely beyond their capabilities.
      Did you help the Quarians reclaim their homeworld? Well, sucks to be you: They’re never going to see it again. Did you cure the genophage? Well, sucks to be you: the combat-capable Krogan populace (pretty much everyone) is now stuck in on Earth and the Turian homeplanet and whereever else they decided to fight spacemonsters with shotguns.
      Oh, and 7 billion metric tons worth of Citadel is going to rain down upon an already devastated Earth. Why hello there, Endor Holocaust.

      And then the Extended Cut DLC came along and said that everyone lives. How you ask? Well… err… they just do, stop asking questions!

      • Amnestic says:

        The Extended Cut does give you one (explicit) ‘Everything dies’ option. You can essentially tell the Catalyst to go screw himself and the scene cuts to Liara’s time capsule and then the Stargazer scene talking about how Liara’s stuff allowed them to beat the Reapers in their future cycle.

        It was…more palpable, if only because I was allowed to reject the Starchild’s reality and substitute my own.

        • Raygereio says:

          Really? Maybe I’m just jaded, but I just saw that as petty writers taking yet another dump on their writers.

          What was the thing that almost everyone did out of frustration out of how stupid the ending was? Shooting the messenger.
          And Bioware then tied the new “Screw you. Rocks fall, everyone dies. I’m taking my dice and go home”-ending to you shooting the messenger. Complete with a booming “SO BE IT” even.
          When I saw that I just laughed over how childish it was.

          • SleepingDragon says:

            I’d say the actual option to refuse the choice altogether was a nice thing. I think it could even work with shooting the kid (in fact it could have been pretty cool as a slightly “hidden” option). If it was there in the first place. The fact that it was added in this form (especially after the “10 minutes of shooting the kid” videos became popular on youtube) does feel to me like the writers were trying to nurse some serious butthurt and going “oh yeah? well there you have it assholes” towards the players.

            On the other hand I fully admit to being rather negative towards the writers at this point so maybe I’m not giving them the benefit of doubt they deserve.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              I think that this is where EMS should have come in. If you refuse, the game should have checked to see whether or not your fleets are strong enough to win.

              But no, without space magic, you have no hope.

              • Alex says:

                That would have done a lot to redeem the ending. Nowhere near enough, but the ability to brute force a happy ending without being completely dependent on Space Hitler keeping his word would have been a good thing.

                • Mattias42 says:

                  I would have really liked an ending like that…

                  But that would of course have ruined the lots of speculation.

                  That was obviously the most important part!

                  Ugh, I actually had hope for the extended ending when it got announced…

          • As it stands, I think it is childish the way the writers handled it. In theory, I like that we can tell the kid to screw off, but it’s stupid that insta-failure is the only outcome.

            • Amnestic says:

              I’m not sure if this is deliberate or just an oversight, but I’m fairly certain refusal doesn’t count as an actual ‘ending’ either. I was aiming for the Insanity achievement and only got it when I chose one of the ‘normal’ endings (Control/Synthesis/Destroy). Choosing refusal didn’t give it to me.

              Again, might just be a coding oversight or something, but interesting nonetheless.

      • Thomas says:

        The Mass Relays is the one thing about the ending is the one thing I can’t stand but also the one thing that was legitimate artistic vision and and a result of a theme set up and explored and consistent throughout all 3 games.

        I was replaying ME2 and Legion has this big talk about why the Geth refused Reaper tech because allowing yourself to grow up on someone elses take changes the way your species grows, makes it less unique and special and weakens their ability to self-deteriminate. Which is what the whole point of the Citadel and the Relays were in ME1, a way for the Reapers to force the universe to grow along predictable lines and be vunerable to their trap. There’s the constant question about previous cycles sowing the life of this one, the Protheans uplifting species and leaving clues to get the specie along a path that can hopefully destroy the Reapers. The Krogan were uplifted by the Solarians and it ruined their culture and threatened the Galaxy. The Rachni were interfered with it and it ruined the Galaxay. The Geth just want to be left alone and decide for themselves. The Illusive Man constantly wants to use Reaper tech and it’s presented as evil. The literal presence of Reaper machinery corrupts the mind and destroys your free will (Probably accidentally fits)

        Even the idea that the game promises choice, that I should be allowed to decide how this happens fits with it (Definitely by accident)

        And so it makes sense for the Galaxay to have a new start and to really be allowed to decide it’s own existence, that they can’t grow up on Reaper tech again and the relays have to be destroyed.

        …. But I still hate it because I care about this universe. It’s the one part of the game which I don’t have head canon that makes it all okay again. I can’t even be satisfied with the EC ending having the Reapers rebuild them, because I find using the Reapers like that unacceptable. My one idea is that maybe the nations reverse engineer the gateways, but that destroys the theme.

        • An interesting point. And now that I think about it, Legion undid everything he said in ME2 by integrating the Reaper code to achieve true AI status. Thanks BioWare.

        • Raygereio says:

          I can agree with that.

          As you said: The destruction of the relays did made sense from a thematic point of view. It symbolizes this cycle throwing of the shackles of reapers influence.
          But the relays also represented Mass Effect as a whole. The relays were the icon of the series. So it also symbolized the writers killing off not just this series, but the setting as a whole.

          There’s certainly something to be said for placing a firm period like that at the last sentence of the last chapter of the last book in a series. No fan in their right mind really wants endless sequels after all.
          But you want the series you’re invested in to have a good send off. To close it down at something as bad as this just leaves a bitter taste of disapointment in one’s mouth.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          I like that actually. In fact, that would’ve made for an interesting final choice:

          Do you destroy the Mass Relays and the Reapers, guaranteeing and end to the cycles forever and bringing the reign of history back into the hands of the mortals, but damn the world to suffer hardship in the aftermath?

          Or do you take your chances in conventional warfare? Do you trust your fleets enough to end the Reapers without significant casualties? Have you become so reliant on their technology that breaking the Relays is too great a risk to take?

          Choose.

          • Gruhunchously says:

            Of course, the option to destroy the mass relays would make the ending even more like Deus Ex than it already is, but…

            • newdarkcloud says:

              I’m not again it being a blatant rip off of Deus Ex, I am again it doing so in such a shitty and haphazard way.

              Clearly the Deus Ex ending works. It’s just the way Bioware choose to execute it they turned it into the worse ending EVARRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

    • el_b says:

      so basically the catalyst was a halo ring all along? I TOTALLY CALLED THAT SHIT!

  29. X2Eliah says:

    @Shamus – thank you for that final retrospection write-up – I really can’t fault any of it, it’s spot on. And, yeah, when I played ME3 and finished it (original ending, natch – my last playthrough end with the extended cut was surprisingly mollifying as a final playthrough for me), that was literally the feeling I had: “My heart is just not in it anymore”.

    I guess if we can say one thing, it’s that Bioware really did close the Mass Effect trilogy. (which makes the suggestions of ME4 being a sequel all that much more idioticstupidludicrouswtf).

    Anyway. Thank you for this season, which in the end was a positive experience with all its ups and downs.

  30. lurkey says:

    The DLC where you help Aria to retake Omega is due next week, so do not uninstall the game yet, Josh. O:-)

    (Seriously, is that faux ~*badass*~ idiot asshole so popular among the fans that Bioware thinks this DLC will sell well? Or it’s just stale old Matrix fanboyism of the writers?)

    All in all, I liked this season – as a counterbalance to some people I actually hate when there’s too much positivity (booooring!), and it was fun to laugh all the way to the ending again.

    • Mattias42 says:

      I actually thought her introduction in ME2 was quite good.

      But then again I thought we would get to see her DO anything in ME3…

      So, yeah. Chalk up another for “What was the point of this again?”.

      • Amnestic says:

        I wouldn’t have minded if she’d stayed in ME2. That would’ve been fine. We can have cool characters which we never see again (like Shepard’s mother?). I’d have assumed that she was some two-bit gangster with a crazy inflated view of herself because she runs some dinky little space dive with a flare for the dramatics and moved on.

        I can at least hope that the Omega DLC puts to rest if she is in fact the Asari commando that Wrex was sent to kill and blew up a space station trying to do so (hey, writers? That would be some pretty badass DLC right there. Or how about your Omega DLC is Garrus’ team in the ME1->ME2 gap?)

        • Mattias42 says:

          Oh yeah, Shepards mother, now there is wasted potential.

          Anyone else disturbed that you can contact anyone important to you except your mother in the base? Since she is an admiral or something like that it is easily hand-waved away not being able to, but not even trying…

          Heck, would have even finely given the cosmetic skin upgrade a chance to effect something. “Oh, son… What happened to you?”

          • Amnestic says:

            My guess? Because Shepard’s mother only exists in one origin story – Spacer. And apparently putting effort into these (“Your choices matter!”) was too much trouble aside from throwaway lines. Hackett actually mentions that he’s recruited your mother for the Crucible project and she’s a Rear Admiral. Why couldn’t she tell us that? I dunno. Because of artistic integrity I guess.

            • Mattias42 says:

              Probably. But why add something if you don’t intend to have an payoff in the end?

              Think about it. If they had one background for Shepard, Bioware could have made it more detailed and interesting simply by taking the time it took for the 6 choices that doesn’t matter and building towards a cohesive picture instead.

              Isn’t that the definition more or less of incompetence? Putting more effort in and getting worse results.

              The more I think about the ME series, the clearer it gets to me that Bioware had no idea where they were going with any of this and that infuriates me. Why? Because they claimed both for the first and second game that they had everything figured and planned out already! It was even on of the most common critics about ME2 that so little got resolved, but it got cut slack because of the whole trilogy thing…

              Now, incompetence? Irritating, but fine. We all get in over our heads sometimes, but lying to your costumers… Not fine.

            • Thomas says:

              Your choices on that front rarely mattered in ME1. Apart from a handful of missions (one a piece?) what you got was people constantly telling that, wow Shepard your wonderful because ________. I can’t believe you did that!

              I think it was a nice touch in the end but they couldn’t have possibly managed to let the story diverge radically based on something like that. So they shouldn’t really have ever given Shepard a mother and chosen something smaller and less crucial instead

              • Mattias42 says:

                But ME1 had the excuse of being, well, NR 1 in a brand new series.

                Two and three, not so much.

                But even then do to the plan of making it a trilogy from the start and the promises (read = lies) that they had everything already figured out, it is a poor excuse.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            But we can’t have your choice in background actually matter, silly Mattias42!

    • Irridium says:

      Well if people aren’t sold by Aria, maybe they’ll be sold by the the first female Turian to ever appear in the Mass Effect games.

  31. Cody says:

    This season has been like you guys carefully going over and nitpicking an ex. There are part’s were I agree with you, parts were I want to defend her, and parts were I am yelling at the screen trying to point out a horrible flaw you missed.

  32. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You have only this one option,so its your choice.Do it,or quit the game.

    Thats hilarious.

  33. Deuxmains says:

    Remember the Deus Ex: HR series, when Josh complained about the ending being Evangelion bad? Well…

  34. Raygereio says:

    I’m going to be positive. Because I stopped caring about Mass Effect and Bioware. They don’t deserve my hate.
    So here’s some stuff that I liked:

    You can convince Timmy to stop himself, but the only way to do is if you explored the dialogue options in his previous conversations and already planted a seed of doubt in his head. I feel like that’s good way to reward players who go for all possible dialogue options, instead of hurrying through.
    Speaking of Timmy, he was originally supposed to be a bossfight: http://www.evilsourcegaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/33vdqc5.jpg
    I think we can all agree that what we got was better then that.

    Mass Effect 3 also had some neat subtle things. For example early on in the game if you go to the dance spot on the Citadel’s club you do the classic Shepard shuffle. But after a conversation with Joker about dancing your worries away, Shep does some pretty crazy arm flailing.
    That was good touch.

    Oh and while the regular gaming journalists cheerfully continued being their regular pathetic selves (either by being too scared to actually come out with an opinion and/or to defend their praising reviews, or by being shameless about licking the gaming industry’s behind and being controversial for the sake of generating page hits). Forbes of all places suddenly revealed themselves as a solid source of gaming critique with well thought out articles.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/03/12/how-bioware-could-find-redemption-using-mass-effect-3/
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/03/13/mass-effect-3-and-the-pernicious-myth-of-gamer-entitlement/
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/03/13/why-fan-service-is-good-business/
    I guess the ending popped a few monocles over there. Mind you, it probably helps that unlike certain other websites, Forbes is run by adults.

    No wait, I was supposed to be positive. Let’s see, can I think up something good about the ending? … Aha!
    The ending brought us this joke:
    http://i.imgur.com/Dmog4.png
    Thank you, James. That was good burn.

    • Jarenth says:

      “The Illusive Man’s weapon is his intelligence.”

      HAH.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      I remember reading the Forbes articles and being amazed at how much they ‘got it’. And I think I figured out why. One, as you mentioned, they’re outside mainstream gaming journalism, they’re not a website covered in Mass Effect 3 advertisements. And two, Forbes is a business magazine, its writers understand the concept of consumer satisfaction based on quality services/goods. There were no cries of ‘artistic integrity’ from Forbes because they understand that while games are art, they’re also products.

      One of the biggest problems with the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy was that anyone with a ‘games are art’ axe to grind jumped on the bandwagon. Take Moviebob for example. Never played the Mass Effect series, wasn’t interested in it either. Yet he still took time to call anyone who wanted a better ending entitled and discuss the ‘broader implications’ of ‘forcing’ companies to change their ‘art’. Let’s ignore the fact we’ve already had series change their endings due to fan response (Fallout 3) and it didn’t destroy the ‘artistic integrity’ of the medium. I honestly think that everyone coming to Bioware’s defense like that damaged the medium by further negating company responsibility (“Oh Bioware made the ending they wanted, if you consumers don’t like it too bad”).

      • Jekyll says:

        The worst part about the ‘games as art’ defense is the hypocrisy of it all. You mean to tell me that retconing most of Mass Effect 1 and 2 are A-OK, but changing an objectively awe full ending ruins the medium? How do you think the people who wrote the reapers felt pal? There were no cries of ruining their story because of ‘artistic integrity’!
        *note: this is directed at Hudsen and the normally sane Moviebob, I don’t want it to sound inflammatory towards the posters here :P

      • Lame Duck says:

        I really don’t understand why people act like getting Bioware to make the Extended Cut was some sort of great victory for consumers. They didn’t make the ending good and it would take a complete re-make of the entire game to fix the issues with the writing. The same is true of Fallout 3. It just seems like it was a massive waste of everyone’s time to me.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          I don’t get it either (and I was never for changing the ending, I wanted it to stand to show how far Bioware has truly slipped) but I do think we need more consumer pushes like this against certain companies. The gaming industry gets away with stuff that in other industries would be company suicide (in terms of products I mean, not say, blatant CEO corruption).

          You’re completely right, the Extended Cut doesn’t really fix anything (in fact a lot of it raises more questions). Some consumers got what they wanted from it (if I could find that clip of that girl at the conference praising the Mass Effect 3 team for ‘letting her have her last moment with Garrus’ I’d include it here) but ultimately I think the majority of people did not find the EC fulfilling.

  35. Daemian Lucifer says:

    About walking dead,the Shamus said that they didnt have a plan,but did have a series of plot points that they want to hit.Um,thats a plan right there.You have a rough draft of where you want the game to go,and then slowly fill in the gaps.

    Compare that to mass effect series,where one such thing(dark energy)was just tossed out.So,no plan at all.No plot points that you have to reach,no outlined characters,nothing.Thats why mass effect series doesnt work,and walking dead does.

    Also,on the subject of me3 vs walking dead,someone needs to make a video of some kid dying contrasted with you killing duck or clementine killing you,just to show how a bad game and a good game do it.

  36. hewhosaysfish says:

    Why is it a Renegade interrupt to shoot TIM? When he’s about to execute Anderson?

    • Eremias says:

      Because Anderson represents Destroy. There is no other reason, except maybe that giving the player a Paragon interrupt after that one would take the steam out of the moment.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Especially considering that if you don’t take the interrupt and TIM shoots you, it’s a game over.

      Though I guess you can’t have a neutral interrupt. So shooting somebody gets lumped into Renegade.

    • Thomas says:

      Renegade always indicates destructive actions in the game. Everytime before I’d expect a Renegade to shoot or hit something and the paragon involves talking. One doesn’t have to better than the other. With Veeto Paragon is talking him out of a panic and Renegade is scaring him out of a panic. Both are ultimately ‘nice’ but the gun is more renegade. Killing someone to save someone else is definitely a Renegade action

      It made it very clear what you were doing. If it was Paragon I’d have expected it to be talking him out of it and annoyed that I’d done something I hadn’t expected to do. The problem would be if someone didn’t choose Renegade because they were a Paragon person. I don’t know how they could solve that though. Maybe Shepard could take a bullet for Anderson?

    • Wedge says:

      This pissed me off, because I was playing Shepard as pure paragon, so the idea that shooting TIM to save Anderson was somehow a “renegade” action was fucking idiotic.

  37. Eric says:

    Thanks for the series, guys! I enjoyed it even if it was tough towards the end for you.

    “But this game also gave us the wrap-up to the Salarian / Krogan conflict. It gave us a a visually rich and character-fulfilling playdate with Garrus. There were other moments that worked, which I will not enumerate in order to avoid re-salting old wounds.”

    I’m not so sure it’s worth it. Yes, the game has a couple good moments. But even they have issues, and the way they are strung together is amateurish. There is no real coherence to any of those conflicts throughout the game, and they don’t lead to anything meaningful. It all comes across as filler because the whole “save the different species!” angle has so little to do with the Catalyst.

    What’s more, the different species themselves are hard to sympathize with when they all come across as pig-headed idiots who can’t put aside their petty conflicts in the face of CERTAIN ANNIHILATION. Yay, we saved the Quarians… right after we learned that their people were actually assholes responsible for the Geth uprising, not to mention their admiralty apparently has no problem firing upon their own allies for no reason. And we care because… uhm, Tali is cute? Or something? Screw you BioWare.

    If they had a better overarching theme, like “the Catalyst needs Reaper tech to be built, hunt down the big bad Reapers tyrannizing the different planets” then they could have worked it in much better.

    Think of it this way. If you get a meal at a restaurant where the garlic bread is tasty, the drinks are nice, but your steak is completely uncooked, the vegetables have been regurgitated onto your plate, and the sauce is engine oil, I don’t think you’re going to walk away from that restaurant saying “well, at least the bread was alright.”

  38. Dude says:

    I hope the next game you do is The Walking Dead now that episode 5 is out (and it’s about the same as the other episodes), or Spec Ops.

    In other words, please do a game you enjoyed more than Mass Effect 3’s last two hours.

    • rayen says:

      so just about any game ever?

      • Mattias42 says:

        I realize that it has a lot of text and that the gang has probably already decided the next season, but I think Planescape: Torment would make a near perfect followup on ME3.

        Fantastic story.
        Great characters that act in a logical fashion (for the setting).
        More colors then grey and blue. (Minus the main character…)

        Almost a bloody mirror image.

  39. Dave says:

    I actually liked the ending (and the game as a whole). I agree with most of your criticisms but I guess the flaws that you see just didn’t bother me much. Sure, it’s not the ending that I would have written but I still enjoyed it and it left me thinking about it after the game ended, which is not a bad thing.

  40. The ending might have been more worthwhile if it turned out the Crucible wasn’t run by the Starchild, but was a Volus.

    It turns out the Volus built the Reapers and are trying to wipe out all organic life because they still can’t get Biotics to work for them.

  41. Jekyll says:

    You know what’s the oddest bit in terms of spoiler warning history? That is seemed so novel at the time to take shots at Bioware, the “kings of storytelling”. Yet, as the last of the third game comes to a close this season, the perceptions have completely 180’ed. No longer is it shocking to see potholes dragged up in this game series and the awful writing seems to be the norm now. Now it’s more of a shock to see the good being dragged from this wretched mess of a series. Of all the sadness in the literal story ending of Mass Effect the most tragic part in my eyes is the sight of a once flawed, but noble games studio fold under its own greed and self righteousness. EA might have been greedy idiots, and Mr. Hudsen might have his head up his ass, but without each other this ending may never have happened. But it did, and the gaming industry is one more company less who cares about story. That, to me, is the worst part about this ending.

  42. Irridium says:

    If I could just pile some more wood onto this roast, notice how they docked the Crucible with the Citadel. To do that, they would have had to fly it past the big space battle, re-position it so it’d fit into the Citadel, then dock it. Just seems like a damn obtuse way to do it.

  43. Xanyr says:

    So which “tomorrow ” did you mean?

  44. Christhegamer says:

    Shamus mentioned how the destroy option is red although it represents the paragon mindset. I think that the options are correctly color-coded:

    Destroy-Renegade-Red:
    Just destroy the reapers, the thing you came here to do, without changing your mind after you have been presented with other options.
    Sacrifice the Geth, a whole species, and EDI in order to achieve that goal, Shepard does not die.

    Control-Paragon-Blue
    When presented with new option, change your mind even if the choice is the same that TIm would have made, but, as we learn in the extended cut, use your new powers for the good of the galaxy.
    Sacrifice YOURSELF so that all the races on the galaxy can live in peace.

    • Luhrsen says:

      Except that you only know it works if Shepard can see the (EC)future and knows about becoming a literal Deus Ex Machina. Why would you believe that the Reapers will continue to follow your orders once the conection has killed you?

      • Lame Duck says:

        Because the writers are too inept to do a bait-and-switch like that.

        • Thomas says:

          Because the Starchild described everything to you. If he was lying he would lie about the destroy option too. You don’t know how this is meant to work, maybe you were meant to press a button to make the superweapon deploy and the Starchild told you that the superweapon worked by shooting at it because it actually just makes the station go Nova and wipe oout every opposing military force in the galaxy because they’re all conveniently surrounding Earth.

          If the Starchild lies Shepard is screwed whatever will happen. Maybe what he told Shepard was the destroy action was just one of those crates of ‘security plasma’ that they loved having in ME1. If the Starchild can lie the human race loses. I mean what you suggest involves the Starchild correctly informing you about control and that it will kill you but not that it will stop controlling the Reapers afterwards.

          I like to think the Starchild isn’t programmed to lie like that but it just shows the problems of putting the ending choice in the antagonists mouth

          • newdarkcloud says:

            Deus Ex did it so much better by having three different entities represent three different solutions.

            • Ofermod says:

              ME3 kind of did the same thing, with Anderson being Destroy, and TIM being control… but didn’t really have anyone (other than I guess Shepard) to represent Synthesis, which just comes out of the blue anyway.

              • Thomas says:

                That in itself was stupid and didn’t work at all though. I didn’t get why Anderson particularly represented destruction and did not get at all why they thought representing an option by the evil villain loser antagonist who’d just shot your friend and committed suicide, was possibly a good idea.

                + It’s worst of both worlds, because it doesn’t fix the problem that the information is still all being presented by one person who it’s very very reasonable to distrust

  45. Thomas says:

    So I guess it’s my last chance to discuss my deepest darkest secret that I’ve tried to hide during all the times I’ve written a post and responded to a video in this series.

    I have never played/watched/read a plot synopsis of Mass Effect 1.

    I’ve started now (although due to a misunderstanding, in German) and the writing so far has been terrible. (There will be an however, bear with me, the tl;dr is the writing at the beginning of ME1 is awful, worse than ME2 and ME3 and the point continues after the — break)The beginning of ME3 was lackluster but ME1 actually gave me some pain to play. So one cowardly smuggler who steals weapons from his own protectors is crouched behind the crate of a Spectre whose been shot in the back of the head and says another Spectre magically did it and Shepard instantly has conviction that it’s so? And then she gathers a man whose held a grudge against Spectre for 20 years, a C-Sec guard bored with life and feels restrained by his orders to protect civilains who has no evidence but ‘just knows’ that Saren is guilty and a Krogan to help her case. Meanwhile cursing those damn politicians and their damn politics for wanting more evidence?

    It actually made me dislike Garrus for a few moments! And then the exact same thing is repeated again with the Reapers. With more ‘damn politicians’ wanting more evidence than someone who was knocked out for 15 hours before sending an entire fleet on the pursuit of mythical space aliens?

    The speed Shepard leaps to conclusions is scary. She hears reports of Geth outposts in a system, ‘they’re might be planning attacks’ says Hackett. It’s preparations for an invasion says Shepard! She takes out four camps, small enough to be defeated by one transport vehicle, 3 of which contained no buildings. I expected a headquarters for an invasion! She says. And then she destroys a room full of Geth. Haha I stopped an invasion!

    I’ve shot people who behave like Shepard quite a few times in ME2 and ME3. I don’t trust her and I am her, and I even know she’s right.

    And the Matriach is dressed in a dominatriy outift and your first confrontation with Saren involves him speaking in the most ridiculously evil voice (although this could be the German note:Tali’s voice in German=worst thing ever) whilst glowering at you in a 20 feet hologram above your head. Subtle.

    And you hardly talk to your squadmates at all. I’m actually confused why Wrex is even on my ship and I’m parsing Garrus as him being a bored idiot (did he quit C-Sec? Did he even have time to talk to his boss? When did he have the opportunity, he was with me the whole time?) Worse I had what two conversations with Liara before I kill her mother. (I was expecting that to be a lot later in the game) Where are the conversations? I’ve even done their special missions and they barely say a word or act in them
    ———————————————————-
    …so yeah. But here’s my point. I now totally understand how you guys felt and my enjoyment of ME2 and ME3 is now severely lessened. ME1 was just so much better.

    I can pin it on three thing and the latter are really encompassed by the former. Tone. Art direction. Film Grain

    It#s just so much more open and explorative, the idea behind it is ‘wow look at this galaxy’ instead of ‘look how cool this is’. It’s trying to show you the beauty of the universe. I haven’t completed it yet and I’m worried that will change (and hoping I will at least get to have a decent length conversation with Wrex before I decide whether to kill him) but whats there is amazing.

    And this is just summed up by the art/level design. The citadel is infitnitely better, bigger and more like a real interesting place than it is in the following games. The Citadel in ME1 is just designed to make you want to walk around it. In ME2 and ME3 it’s blocky corridors and shopping malls that you use. Good places for character moments but not a place in itself that’s attractive and interesting.

    The focus shifted from the world to the characters in the world and it was worse for it. (Plus they really didn’t make the change make sense at all. Why on Earth would you use the people who tried to turn people into zombies and an admiral into a Rachni? as the too extreme but kinda good purposed human fundamentalists)

    So I guess you all were right and your reasons were right. I still like the ending of ME3, in it’s quiet, a new beginning way (I guess Film Hulk pinned down my reasons but I only understood it emotionally and not academically) but it’s not what ME1 promised

    • Gruhunchously says:

      I love Mass Effect 1 and I think you’re totally right about Shepard’s gung ho attitude at the beginning, especially seeing as how the only evidence she has of Saren’s involvement is second hand information. Whenever I’m playing, I can always feel a twinge of distance between me and her (these day I play as FemShep exclusively) whenever she goes “SAREN’S A THREAT TO ALL HUMANITY!”. I mean, Anderson has an excuse for his finger pointing behavior because of his history with Saren, but Shepard’s got nothing.

      But as praise to counterbalance the criticism, I also think that the whole beginning sequence does a good job of establishing Saren as the villain, and the is especially noticeable seeing as how neither of the sequels really have a strong central antagonist. Harbinger just stays in the background all the time and you can never talk to him or interact with him in any significant way without fighting, and the Illusive Man is just so inconsistent that it’s hard to tell whether he’s lying, telling the truth, being indoctrinated, or just bonkers. Saren, I think, was handled really well; his actions on Eden Prime, then subsequent hiding behind the Council gives you plenty of reason to dislike him, and he’s treated as such that even when he’s not onscreen, you can still feel his presence in the story. And that’s all before the Virmire scene where we learn what he’s really all about, and the ending where he can be coerced into suicide.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      It’s okay. I also know ME1 from that season SW did on it and from the comic in the PS3 version of ME2. I’ve never played through it myself either.

    • Otters34 says:

      The thing about politicians is very explicable: it’s based on military science fiction, a genre known for having “To blazes with politicians and their ‘rules’, we’re doing What’s Necessary!” as a very large part of its worldview. That and most Canadians I know detest their elected officials with a passion.

      A lot of what you’re finding so irritating in the original Mass Effect is basically old-school BioWare tropes, including the small outposts(also a function of the larger amount of areas they had to make for the more free-roaming game), a few key conversations with your shipmates that progress their own arcs instead of a more organic kind of relationship, them having slightly thin motivations and the bad guys being so obviously evil it hurts. As someone who grew up with those tropes as something quite familiar, I didn’t even notice or take issue with them first time I saw them.

      EDIT: The reason Wrex goes along with you is so he can be involved in something worthwhile instead of random mercenary jobs. Garrus is meant to be your classic ‘dissident from the established order’ BioWare character, and his determination to punish the guilty over protecting the innocent is something you can talk him out of in that game, though your hard work is of course undone in the next.

      EDIT: Having heard Saren’s German dub, I agree. That man’s voice just drips evil!

      • Cupcaeks says:

        I remember being initially underwhelmed the first time I played through Mass Effect 1 exactly because of those tropes, and some frankly poor writing (“This evidence is irrefutable!”). I was like “Oh, so we’re doing this again are we, Bioware?”. The character arcs just felt too same-ey to me in relation to past games they’d done like KOTOR and Jade Empire. In fact, I don’t think it was until ME2 came out that I really started to appreciate aspects of ME1 that I hadn’t really paid much attention to while I was playing, things like the well-thought-out and finely established elements of hard science fiction, the tone and mood of the setting established by the art and the music(gotta love that synthesizer!), and just the overall sense that someone had actually sat down and thought about the implications of mass effect technology to create a world that seemed totally possible if we accepted a few assumptions. I didn’t notice any of these things while I was playing, but I found myself sorely missing them when they were gone.

        Yeah… not sure what my purpose was in posting this, but glad people are still enjoying Mass Effect 1, and thanks for another entertaining season of Spoiler Warning. Eagerly looking forward to the next one.

      • anaphysik says:

        What’s a good linky to German!Saren? As someone who understands German decently well-ish, I’m double interested.

        (Also, obviously we need some linkies to German Shepard *badum-tish* except I’ve already heard her in ME2.)

        EDIT: okay, saw the final confrontation with Saren where you convince him to kill himself. The German Synchronsprecher for Saren was… well, he gave a REALLY shitty delivery. Like, totally ruined the gravitas and flow and VERISIMILTUDE of that scene. It was awful. Now I want to boot up ME1 again so that I can hear it done properly.

        vid here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b87JmMNahM8&t=12m38s (Now, I don’t hear the standard turian flanging on that voice, so maybe it’s glitched or something. But even so, that would just more easily reveal the terrible delivery.)

        • Thomas says:

          Wow yeah, they completely forgot to add his voice affects for the end? How on Earth did that happen? He had such a cool voice except for the end? Plus my Shepard delivered a line in a male voice a couple of scenes before that, so maybe they were really rushed with the ending?

      • Thomas says:

        The problem with that is that Wrex, Garrus and Tali are pretty much solely motivated by a ‘lets save the galaxy’ adventure but that only makes sense when they’ve already risked their lives based purely on the dreams of someone they’ve spoken too like twice. What really hurt was they all ended up on my ship without even me needing to talk to them. You know how in ME2 it feels like your collecting the ultimate team of badasses in the galaxy, the best scientists, the best fighters, the tech ueber genius etc. To me ME1 feels like I’m recruiting the people stupid and crazy enough to follow some nut who had a dream.

        It’s got better now I’ve done Virmire. Now the threat is actually established I can forget that stuff. There’s still not a lot of character action. I think I actually maxed out Garrus’ story arc before I even did my first story mission (he only talks about returning to C-Sec now). Tali doesn’t seem to want to speak to me. Wrex is talking but it feels like I’ve only ever been able to have romance convos with the other three and I don’t even like any of them in that way.

        I’m actually really glad I played the games in this order. I think ME2 is a much better establisher of character. Think of all you heard and saw of Archangel before even meeting him, and then when you met him! I can process old relationships fine and it was an amazing introduction. And the same for Mordin and Tali. By the time you recruit them you know exactly who they are and you’ve forged a meaningful bond that gets better with the loyalty missions. And I get to enjoy ME2 and ME3 because I don’t know what they could have been

        The only thing I’m missing is Wrex#s character, because it seems to me he reall comes across, not through the dialogue, but through combat with him, by him being the most ridiculously tanky badass. I never got much from our conversations, but the fact that whenever we come to an enemy I just tell Wrex to charge at them and watch him shotgun them to pulp whilst eating bullets and looking them in the face, is exactly what his character should be. In ME2 I never even knew he was biotic and that threw me when I found out.

        And then I get to appreciate ME1. It occurs to me that’s it’s more subtle than I thought. There’s an awful lot wrong with it, but somehow they’re the mistakes that don’t matter so much and the good shines through. Chris is right about the conference meetings. In ME1 you are almost never just told something by someone else (apart from the idiotic ‘what is a paladin?’ Shepard dialogue when you try to learn about something), all the information is conveyed directly to your face by Saren himself, or by Sovereign. There’s often not enough information but itäs better than the dredge of 3.

        I do have some things in ME1 that I dislike because ME2 raised my expectations (wait, so there wasn’t any evidence that Saren’s Krogans were unthinking misbred monsters and in fact you have coherent dialogue with some, but Wrey just bought you saying that? That’s not how it was madeout to be) but far less than if I went the other way

    • Grudgeal says:

      Holy heck does German Saren sound evil. He sounds like a Reaper.

      Makes me wonder what the heck Sovereign sounds like.

      EDIT: Well, Sovereign sounds pretty much the same. Feeling a bit down now.

      • Thomas says:

        Contrary to belief German is naturally more silly sounding than evil sounding =D You can tell by all their onomatopoeia words ‘schnupfen’ ‘knack’ (ker-nack) ‘schluerfen’ ‘schmuck’ (okay that one isn’t ono… but it still keeps the point). They love this really funny uuoooh sound.

        I much prefer German Shepards female voice acting though. It’s a lot less loaded than Jennifer Hale’s. Hale’s was good but it was the voice of a very specific pushy badass person, even for Paragon. German Shepardin lets me imagine Shepard as I wanted to

    • Thomas says:

      You guys are going to facepalm me but… yeah I prefer the endings of ME and ME3.

      I think you all had some serious nostaligia goggles on when thinking the baby-reaper-teriminator could come even close to the stupidness of the Saren boss fight. At least Terminators have some dignity, Saren was copying a Scooby Doo villain (And that’s not just hyperbole, I mean this
      http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120713222251/scoobydoo/images/b/bf/86004e313170f1298fbd01f4203c3614.jpg
      and this
      http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090725153317/masseffect/images/thumb/6/65/SarenHusk1.png/800px-SarenHusk1.png)

      and yeah they screwed up the delivery but what he was saying before hand was really poor. Okay it makes sense that he becomes really stupid under indoctrination but TIM never went round boasting about the amazing anti-mind control device he let the Reapers install inside his brain. And Saren switches from that to shooting himself in like three lines. With TIM he was fighting from the very beginning and the tension came from the fact that he was failing and it was making him angry and he was directed that anger at everyone and anyone.

      But it just generally left me cold. I was expecting some sort of Harbinger ‘we are coming’-esque blood pumping speech and instead I got another council scene (because I’ve got good memories of those the fifty times thats been repeated through the series) and another damn politics comment. And that wasn’t even the end. They let Anderson bumble on for a few more lines before cutting to credits.

      And emotionally cold is a bad place to be because it makes you ask questions like ‘do they really expect me to feel any emotion/anxiety that their protagonist in game 1 of promised trilogy gets crushed off camera by a random bit of debris?’ or ‘The Normandy got the last shot? Really? A frigate? Did they really forget to bring any dreadnaughts in a fight with a capital ship? It made Sovereign look lame. It’s not even Sovereign who takes out the DA. And can spaceships physically move like that?’ And Shepard whats with the posing?

      It didn’t give me particularly negative feelings, but it didn’t have any positive ones either. It just fell dull and rote. ME1 is still the better game (proper quest hubs! Feros! Noveria! Virmire!) and it feels much faster paced but in the end it also ends up feeling a bit human obsessed (the only game where you really visit multiple alien worlds is ME3 and they completely screw it up. Figures) The end has made ME2 take an upswing in favour again but ME1 still has the magic. And if the cutscenes of the ME1 ending were bad at least they weren’t the dredge of ME3 ending combat.

  46. guy says:

    They really should have just had Anderson and Shepard sitting down on the Citadel, bleeding out, then had the Crucible activate, the citadel begin to glow, and faded to black. I mean, that would leave a lot of questions unanswered, but it would be a proper and solid ending.

    Instead, we get… this. It is so vast and terrible I can’t work up the energy to complain about specifics because I’d end up needing to get into the fractal nonsense underlaying the thing.

    If they really had to have the ending continue past the obvious ending point they’d installed, they should have:

    1. Had the final conversation be with Harbinger. Well, maybe not Harbinger because he’s become an internet joke, but they have been building him up as the head Reaper. Maybe swap what role he has in ME3 with a new Reaper called Imperator or something, but anyways the final conversation needs to be with an established Reaper. Or maybe a whole bunch of them at once.
    2. Not literally blown up the mass relays.
    3. Reworked Control somehow. As it is, the only really compelling argument against control seems to be that expecting it to actually work in any fashion is complete and utter madness. We only believe it will work because it’s the final boss conversation and they’re presenting us with a set of choices and wouldn’t be giving us a fake-out choice. As far as Shepard knows, the Catalyst just wants her to take the option so it can use her as a base to tune the Crucible to indoctrinate all organic life. For instance, making the Human Reaper their new master with Shepard heading the collective intelligence. There would also need to be more interactions with Reapers to convince us that plan actually makes sense.
    4. Reworked Destroy, too. Give some other reason not to take the reworked Control, and made Destroy just violently obliterate the gathered fleet but not touch Synthetics not in the system, so you’re sacrificing something (Namely, the combined military might of just about everyone and all the personnel aboard, Earth, and the Citadel) but not totally negating saving the Geth.
    5. Explained Synthesis.
    6. Given the Reapers a more coherent explanation of their motivation. Like, they show up at the height of Organic-Synthetic conflict of each cycle and burn away both sides so that the galaxy is only intermittently under the dominion of unfeeling hordes of robots. And then have them acknowledge that this is a terrible plan and ask you to pick between better ones because they’re deadlocked and you seem to know what you’re doing.
    7. Maybe rewrite the whole TIM buisness to have him simply be the voice of the Reapers in his final conversation. Have him glowing Harbinger yellow-orange and using a Reaper voice, so you’re actually having a confrontation with the Reapers when you run into him. Or just kill him before the battle for Earth.

  47. Phantos says:

    “Shepard is going to drop the fattest beat in the galaxy, and that’s how you stop the Reapers.”

    Aww, you read my fan-fiction!

  48. Lame Duck says:

    This is only tangentially related to the topic at hand, but I just finished replaying KOTOR and, oh my god, the last level made me want to kill myself. It literally just throws waves and waves of enemies at you and the combat in that game is just awful. The only reason I chose to save Bastilla was that I was pretty sure it would make me fight her some more if I didn’t.

    Anyways, I hate you, Bioware.

    • dalek610 says:

      God, I know what you mean. Last time I played KOTOR, I was going darkest of Dark Jedi. I used Bastila a grand total of three times:
      1. The moment she comes into your party, and you have to use her until you get back to the safe house.
      2. That level when you are captured on the Leviathan, and are forced to have Carth and Bastila in your party.
      3. The last level.

      After the ending, the joke among me and my friends was that Bastila’s job was to make sandwiches for my apprentice until I figure out how to bring Jolee back from the dead, or give HK-47 control of the Force. At which point they would be my apprentice, and her sole job would be to make sandwiches.

    • Alex says:

      Playing as a lightsider was a serious PITA right at the end. You still had the waves and waves of enemies, but not being able to drain life made the final battle last about seven times longer than it would as a darksider.

    • Thomas says:

      Cast your mind back/forward to KotoR 2 and then we’ll talk about ridiculous endless waves of enemies =D

  49. Dante says:

    So shouldn’t it be “You’re tearing me apart Mass Effect!”

  50. Wraith says:

    Rutskarn and Shamus have salvaged the ending for me. My new interpretation:

    Shepard is totally high as a kite off LSD, and using the Catalyist – the largest microphone ever created – she seeks to subject the galaxy and the Reapers to the greatest rave in galactic history.

    So for serious, fuck this game. Fuck EA. I laughed so goddamn hard when someone pointed out that they changed the ending pop-up so it wasn’t hawking the DLC, because I got the original pop-up and was insulted. I promised myself then that if EA had the gall to SELL me a new ending DLC, I would swear off EA products forever. Since they didn’t, I haven’t banned myself from EA, merely extremely wary and judgmental toward their future games.

  51. Fang says:

    I’m so glad this season is over. I stopped watching within the first 10 or so episodes because the complaining and “whining” was starting to get on my nerves. Fallout 3, New Vegas, and heck even the Modern Warfare 3 episodes at least had some type of praise mixed in with the complain.

    Can’t wait for the “secert” new season ;P.

  52. zob says:

    I just want to point out one thing. Geth and EDI’s destruction in “Destroy” ending is not that random. Geth and EDI carry reaper code.

    • Indy says:

      But he specifically says synthetic life. I’m pretty sure Shepard doesn’t have any Reaper code… (Maybe if she got it in the Troncencus).

      • zob says:

        Here is what i thought happened. At some point someone with attention to detail said “The way the story is going if we destroy reapers by destroying their code we’ll also destroy the Geth because we just upgraded them with that code, and isn’t EDI got some of it as well?”. The guys in charge remembered the bit about Geth would be destroyed but had no idea why. So they slapped the synthetic part. For what it’s worth I never bought the thing with Shepard dying due to cybernetic implants in her body, considering she faced a point blank explosion to start the ending and exploded with the Citadel. Dying due to having cybernetics would be an afterthought at that point. I thought about adding “but it doesn’t make ending any better” to my original post. Seemed unnecessary :)

  53. Museli says:

    Thanks for your hard work on this series guys. It’s a shame ME3 didn’t turn out as any of us wished, but I’ve never been disappointed by a series of SW, and that is still the case. Looking forward to Walking Dead. :D

  54. Venalitor says:

    Mass Effect III, A game with one of the worst puns ever made for a title.

    A pun which is also a good indicator of the game itself.

  55. blck98391 says:

    All I read was “Mass Effect was supposed to be about the characters, and not anything else”, and “they butchered the lore”. Well maybe your version of the lore, but Mass Effect means different things to different people.

    Make games to make money bit. Bioware, like any other company out there is in business to make money. They are not in business to please their fans. So catering to them and solely making games to please them is a moot point. Listening to customers is important, but they need to focus on their bottom line, which is to make money.

    Pleasing their fanbase clearly isn’t profitable, so they look to a new fanbase, which plays games for fun, doesn’t take things too seriously, and is a profitable market. Unlike their fans. I speak of course of casual gamers. Like it or not you’re not living in the 1990s anymore. Catering to fans may have worked back in the day, but that same kind of strategy doesn’t work today.

    Also, ending was fine. Made complete sense within the lore. There was foreshadowing to see it coming. Bioware didn’t mess up. People just didn’t pick up on all the warning signs.

    http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/9872108&lf=8

    https://twitter.com/masseffect/status/179687674049867776
    http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10034971/1
    https://twitter.com/masseffect/status/188525425394327553
    http://www.rage3d.com/board/showpost.php?p=1336868194&postcount=2100 (click spoiler links)

    • guy says:

      Sorry, no, we heard all about Indoctrination Theory way, way back. It does not fit with the Extended Cut, it does not fit with how Indoctrination actually works, and it has long since been shot down.

      • hermes says:

        When someone links you an article that states clearly from the developers themselves that the ending is indoctrination, then it hasn’t been shut down. I think it’s merely the case of people can’t read. If some people say “there’s no foreshadowing at all in the game, or it doesn’t fit with the lore”, then you clearly weren’t paying attention. If you’re expecting a simple “yes or no response” from the developers making it painfully obvious that was the ending, good luck on that. Not going to happen.

        You guys just want everything for nothing. Say, was the ending indoctrination? Oh, I don’t know, Bioware didn’t tell me the ending was indoctrination. I’m not going to read the codex or pay attention during the game. It’s the writers job to spoon feed me everything. To explain every little detail of the story, because if I have to use some brain power and logic to figure it out, then it’s bad or lazy writing.

        As some of you have said “if the writer has to explain anything, then they’ve failed as a storyteller”. I should only have to participate in 0.1% of the story, the writer has to do 99.9% of the work for me. I’m being sarcastic here. Still, you have to participate in the story at some level. Writers can’t do everything for you.

        Indoctrination isn’t supposed to work like that? I suppose you mean, real world indoctrination? This is Mass Effect. A piece of science fiction. All real world laws and rules go out the window. People who expect that everything in its universe has to conform to real world laws or ideologies are fooling themselves. I’m sure that Star Wars or Star Trek isn’t any different. They don’t have to follow the rules either.

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