Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mass Effect 3's Ending

So I've finished Mass Effect 3 (working on my Insanity Playthrough, I WANT THAT PLATINUM) and I've been hearing all the complaints about the ending. The following is my take on the endings, I'll try to avoid spoiling as much as possible, but it will still be past a cut. Oh and I'm aware of the 'Day 1 DLC' fiasco, but I can't begin to care. I play Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, so if I started getting pissed about business practices that aren't very nice to the customer, I'd never stop being angry...okay I'd be even more angry even more regularly, happy?

Okay so I went with the 'Middle' ending (if you've finished, you know what I mean) and I've seen the others on youtube. I'm not sure I kove the ending, but I'm sure I don't dislike it. Yeah it's kinda ambiguous and it's not exactly an explosively huge finale, but I think it was an interesting way to end it (incidentally the Penny Arcade guys are of the opinion that the finale begins once the Reapers attack Earth, which is a unique way of looking at it.) And let's be honest, even if the ending pissed me off, there's the ENTIRE REST OF THE GAME to recommend it. This game has the new record for 'closest I've gotten to crying' in a game (Mordin. That is all).

The thing is, it seems that a lot of people are angry about how ambiguous it is (which I can ALMOST get, even if I don't sympathize; Ambiguous endings aren't for everyone) but also because they didn't seem to expect an ambiguous or even depressing ending. This confuses me. You didn't expect an ambiguous or depressing ending in your sci-fi story? Let's go over some film greats of the sci-fi genre, just based on what's sitting on my DVD shelf. In Alphabetical Order:

Well yeah that ending was kind of a downer and also kinda ambiguous but...

I don't even know WHAT was going on in that ending, and it's one of my favorite movies of all time

Oooh ambiguous AND depressing, a two-fer.

Kinda depressing, very ambiguous.

Ambiguous, which is why people keep discussing it.

...I'm the only one who saw this, right? Well it's kinda ambiguously depressing, so yeah.

I could keep going, but I've made my point (and I'm only up the M's). A lot, and I mean a LOT of great sci-fi has ambiguous or depressing endings. It's just the way the genre functions. So you can dislike the ending (I love ambiguous endings) but don't be TOO surprised by it. Sci-fi, especially serious sci-fi (of which Mass Effect DEFINITELY is) tends toward darker endings. There are exceptions (Metropolis is probably my favorite) but overall the expectation is there for a dark ending.

There are other complaints, that it renders your decisions moot (I disagree), that it's inconsistent with previously established lore (I'm not in a position to comment, but it didn't get to me) or that it's stupid (I disagree again) but I'm not going to address those one by one, especially since there are already people doing it much more intelligently than me. I'm going to chalk it up to a variation on Kubrick Syndrome. Most of Kubrick's films got mixed responses when they first came out (notably The Shining) but over time people started to realize that they were great and important films. I think, once people have got some emotional distance from the game, that the ending(s) will be more charitably received, assuming Bioware doesn't drop a huge retcon DLC in the meantime (ala Fallout 3). Just take some time and try to see them from a different angle.

Now, Bioware, about Dragon Age 3...

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