Whether you were part of the grass roots effort to get Bioware to change its unsatisfactory endings for it’s sci-fi epic or one of those that felt the endings you were given after 100 hours of gameplay were fair, you now have the option to download Mass Effect 3’s new “Extended Cut” DLC. With tons of new cut scenes and new closing voice-overs, the ending definitely qualifies as different, but is it enough to satisfy Bioware’s detractors?
Before I reached the ending of ME3 I was one of those that felt all of the controversy surrounding the ending was just made by entitled fans who wanted a happy ending on a story that really couldn’t have a happy ending…then I finished the game. At first I just felt let down that the series ended in what felt like a rushed slipshod downer, then as the days wore on and I kept thinking of all of the things that made absolutely no sense within the fiction they had created, I really started to see where all of the anger in the fan base was coming from.
After reading a blog post that spelled out what was wrong with the ending in terms even a non-gamer could understand, I felt genuinely cheated. Now that time has passed and a lot of us are over our ME3 anger, Bioware has finally decided to put out the “modified” endings that it said would more clearly show the differences between the 3 different choices you were forced into at the end of the game. Thankfully, for the ease of labeling they remain in three colors.
This still remains the only ending which offers the possibility of Shepard surviving to the end after he makes the choice to destroy all synthetic life in the galaxy. The major changes are really the same that happen with the others. It seems even though Bioware was loathe to admit it was wrong about how it handled the ending originally, the new series of endings corrects what has been pointed out as a serious error in the series lore. Now, instead of all the Mass Effect Relays in the galaxy being destroyed, which according to the ME2 DLC “The Arrival” would have destroyed every single star system that it happened in, the Relay is merely severely damaged. The other changes that go with all of the endings now are a brief explanation of how Joker and the crew of the Normandy survived the firing of the Crucible and why they fled the scene. After all is said and done, the galaxy recovers from the damage caused by the Crucible and life in the universe goes on happily ever after.
In this ending Shepard decides that the Illusive Man, your other major enemy throughout the game, had it right all along and sacrifices himself to become part of the Reaper consciousness, controlling them. Once again, the major changes all happen, but this time the galaxy bounces back even faster because the now “Sheparded” Reapers rebuild the Relays and become the watchdogs of the galaxy.
Even though this was the ending I chose on my first play through (because the other choices seemed to make so little sense for my Shepard), the Synthesis ending still remains the most non-sensical of the endings. Now as the green energy wave spreads through the galaxy, we see more cut scenes of how it magically gives every lifeform “circuit acne”. Now the Reapers help to rebuild with all the knowledge of the previous cycles because they are our cosmic brothers, and Utopia ensues.
OK, here’s the kicker. One of the main problems people had with the ending of ME3 was the fact that Shepard just accepted the 3 choices given to him with faulty logic at face value. Well it looks like Bioware saw this complaint and decided to address it directly by making it the only bad ending in the game. That’s right, in what can only be described as a giant moon bound middle finger to the fans that took issue with the original ending, Bioware has changed all existing endings into happy ones while making the only ending that would make sense as a choice for a lot of people’s characters into the one suicidal ending that would see the Reapers wipeout everyone and the Cycle of destruction continue. Nice.
Personally, I think that the new endings are way better than the original just by fleshing it out a little more. The Relays being destroyed was obviously a flaw that even Bioware saw in the original ones and sorely needed to be corrected. Do I think the new endings are great? No, but they’re serviceable. Unfortunately Bioware and publisher EA missed the opportunity to have the series end on a high note by rushing a flawed ending out the door originally, and it is sad that now anyone who would have been perfectly fine with these endings wont have the joy of discovering them on their first playthough.
Whether you agree with the detractors of the ending or not, it’s good that all of this has forced Bioware to backtrack and redo the ending. While the initial joy of a fitting ending to a great series was stolen from some with Mass Effect 3, maybe the next company that decides to release the final installment of a hugely popular series will take just a litte bit longer and make sure they get it right the first time.