Saturday, 24 March 2012

Mass Effect 3, finished!

Ok I have finished Mass Effect 3 and I am going to have to squee. There is so much good here. It was  fun, it was rocking, the story and the side quests were great. The completionist in me loves the various options and extra quests we could do. The story lover in me loved the plot, the highs and the lows, the victories and the tragedies. And the gamer in me found the game easy to play and fun with sensible controls

I did expect to have an issue with the game dumbing down and having space bar do EVERYTHING from use to climb to jump to cover to, well, everything. And there were the odd moments when I was dodging back and forth in cover or tumbling around like an acrobat when I just wanted to check the console. But it didn’t happen as often as I expected. Still, bring back “e” please.

ME 2 and ME3 I don’t think the whole “clips” concept worked. They had a nice idea with ammo in the first game – and I don’t think the whole “heat sink” idea made a whole lot of sense the way it was implemented. And, besides, you never ran out of ammo so why bother?

I found the side quests better than previously. ME1 involved too many hours driving around empty planets (or checking internet maps). ME2 made me feel I had to ration resources so couldn’t explore every cranny. ME3 let me find everything and left me feeling that I DID find everything.

Ok, people died and I know a lot of players had problems with established characters dying. And I can see that – but I thought it was necessary to bring how just how extreme the loss of life and devastation is during the war. How many people have died, how much this fight is costing – sure we can show images of London in ruins (and yes, seeing Big Ben in the background gave me the heebie jeebies) but having someone you’ve invested in die shows it more. Flip side is, of course, that a) I saved a lot of people who could have died and b) the characters who did die weren’t my personal favourites or squad members. Now, if Garrus or Tali or Dr. Chakwas or Joker had died? I’d probably be telling a different story and be pouting mightily.

On inclusion – lots of it and I loved it. And I loved my romance with Estevan (Kaidan, alas, died in ME1 for me) but more than anything what impressed me is that Estevan is gay. I mean, even if my Shepherd is straight as straight can be, Estevan is still gay. He isn’t the gay option thrown in to placate me and hidden away if you don’t want him. He’s gay, he’s mourning his husband and he will talk about it. Similarly you can walk through the Citadel and hear a woman talk about her wife. While romancing these character is an option, there existence is not. They are there. And that impressed me.

And to describe how much I loved this? I’m tempted to do a play through of the whole series, one after the other. Yes yes I am.

And now the elephant in the room. The ending. Ok there has been a lot of comments on the ending so here’s mine with a spoiler warning


I chose the option to merge synthetic and organic life. And I was very very disappointed by the ending. It brought me down from my high.

First of all – killing Shepherd? No. You can’t end an epic series like this game by killing off the protagonist. What a totally depressing way to end. Damn it I want happy ever after!

And destroying the Crucible and the Mass Relays? You’ve just destroyed Galactic Civilisation. Destroyed it. Which, coupled with the destruction wrought by the Reapers, has likely set everyone back centuries, if not millennia, even with the glowing blue circuits. But more – it’s invalidated everything we’ve done. Curing the genophage, creating an Alliance with the Turian and the Krogan, ending the Geth/Quarian war.

I also question the idea that synethetics and organics must be at war and, if we destroy all synthetics and new synthetics are created they will begin the cycle again. Example to the contrary – the Geth. I have the Geth and the Quarians

How I’d have ended it?

The Reapers gone (without killing the Geth and EDI) and then talk of a golden age with a vast galaxy united in peace under the Council, rebuilding and flourishing without the Geth. I want a vast hall with embassies from every species having a little spot with a big platform with the Council stood on it with a BIIIIG statue of Shepherd stood behind them. Or Shepherd as human Councillor

Is it clichéd and lacking in twists? Sure. And that’s a problem? We’ve had 3 epic games of epicness, give us our clichéd glorious ending! Parties, victory, grand success. C’mon, some reward for the emotional investment. I want 30 minutes of cutscenes showing everyone celebrating and saying how awesome Shepherd is, little scenes of Tali on Ranoch flourishing in Geth alliance, Rachni opening an embassy on the Citadel, Liara with the Assari rebuilding Thessia, Wrex holding his first child, the Turian fleet under Garrus flying proud again. Joker and EDI getting married, I want my epic! I want an ending to match the emotional investment

Not some nameless astronomer telling bed time stories’ to a kid, civilisation ending and Shepherd dying to give everyone Tron tattoos.  I don’t want to be left feeling vaguely that all the time playing the game was not worth it.