Thu
Jun 28 2012 10:30am
Do the New Mass Effect 3 Extended Endings Help or Hurt? Yes.

Do the New Mass Effect 3 Extended Endings Help or Hurt? Yes.

It seems like only yesterday fans were taking BioWare to task for the rushed, disappointing epilogues in the blockbuster science fiction RPG Mass Effect 3. But, it has in fact been nearly five months since the protests, petitions, and Kickstarters demanding new endings for the final part of the videogame trilogy.

Forget the debates about who has the right to change a work of art. BioWare has released the promised, free Extended Endings DLC. Does it make amends or is it reopening old wounds?

The short answer is yes.

Unless anyone was worried about poor lil’ BioWare getting their feelings hurt by mean people on the internet, the game company still stands behind their original, terrible endings. And they should. It’s their product. They admitted mistakes, but to completely disown their work would be a slap in the face to the team of people who slaved over creating it for months. And Mass Effect 3 was largely a triumph until those last ten minutes.

So. Don’t expect drastically different endings here. The final three choices are the same, only more fleshed out to answer some particularly confounding questions. Were the mass relays irreparably destroyed? (No.) How did your squad on Earth end up back in the Normandy? Joker wouldn’t purposely abandon Shepard, would he? (Of course not.) Were the dextro-based species like Turians and Quarians doomed to starvation on carbon-based planets? (Garrus can’t die. Don’t you dare even suggest it.) What the hell is the Catalyst, really? (Still no clue. He/It’s a bit like The Architect in The Matrix movies. That’s about as promising as it sounds.)

In addition to logic, the new endings have a bit more emotion. You do get to see more of the effects Shepard’s ultimate choice has on the universe. There are some new cut scenes, but as with the original ending, there are only slight differences between them. Some new content isn’t even in cinematics, but more a slideshow of what looks almost like fan art. But, hey, it’s something. I also liked the inclusion of voiceover narration from key cast members that gives more weight to Shepard’s enormous achievement in unifying the galaxy for a common cause. BioWare even tweaked the final text message that appears after the game, turning it from a slap-in-the-face plea to get future (paid) DLC into a thank you to the fan community. Well played, BioWare.

There is a completely new ending, but it’s quite the downer. Shepard can refuse making a choice and the consequences are catastrophic and very unsatisfying. But, if you’re playing a really bad Renegade, I suppose you’d enjoy rage-quitting the galaxy:

You can watch all of the endings online, or if you really want to watch the new endings with your Shepard, I’d recommend switching the gameplay to Narrative mode so you can fly through the Cerberus Base and London final battles. Seriously, BioWare? You couldn’t give us a later save point?

Some fans will just complain about anything.

(For the record, I chose Synthesis and it seemed the “happiest” of the endings. Shepard dies, but everyone else, synthetic and organic, lives in peace.) 

All in all, I like the new endings much more than the originals. Which I hated. So, it’s gentle praise. I think if we got these extended endings from the start, there would have been an almost equal amount of head-scratching but a whole lot less flat-out rage. The original endings really did lessen my overall enjoyment of the franchise and I haven’t replayed it since completing the game in April, but this DLC lessens the blow.

And there will be more traditional, standalone DLC coming soon, too. Mass Effect 3 producer Mike Gamble admitted as much on Twitter and files pulled from the Extended Cut hint that it could be about abandoned Reaper tech wreaking havoc. So no matter which choice you picked at the end, Commander Shepard will always live on in some form.


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick and recently appeared on Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast to profess her love of Michael Fassbender and Alien 3. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci

14 comments
Chosen
1. Chosen
It was not a slam dunk or a full retcon like I hoped. But it does help soften the stupidty of the ending. I enjoyed the control ending, but only for my Renegade, let me tell you the galxy is screwed with my Reaperd in charge. But for me the best ending is still Destroy, as much as I hate that my Shep has to commit genocide against synthetics to win, Control is evil even when its a paragon Shepard going god-mode, Synthesis to me feels like letting the Reapers win, Destroy at least fits what I had been saying the whole time at least, even if I reject the logic of peace being impossible between organics and synthetics.
Chosen
2. chosen
also thanks to the EC I was able to start a new character in ME1, hopefully not dreding the ending will allow me to finish this one.
Mordicai Knode
3. mordicai
Wait, stereochemistry plays a part in ME? That is pretty neat.
Chosen
4. DavidEsmale
The Extended Cut was definitely an improvement, but was also much less than I wanted. I'm glad that the endings were differentiated from each other much more than they were, and that it was clarified that the Mass Relays weren't destroyed. The epilogue was sorely sorely needed, so that's a huge plus.

But it doesn't make the choices you are given any better. Then again, some of the choices made in earlier games that, at the time, were a big deal (like freeing the Rachni) turned out to be almost unimportant to the series. So it feels like being faced with only bad choices is par for the course at this point.

And honestly the new fourth ending kind of felt like Bioware was flipping off all of their vocal and annoyed fans.
Theresa DeLucci
5. theresa_delucci
@1 Yeah, I think I could replay the Mass Effect series now, knowing that the very ending doesn't make me want to light my Xbox on fire.

@3 Whaaaa? I Google'd and everything.

@4 The best parts of 3 were the missions that felt like big payoffs, namely the Quarian fleet missions and the krogan genophage. Man, that Tuchanka mission was so awesome and epic and exciting. (*sniffles* Mordin!) Maybe one of my favorite game missions ever. But I agree that a lot of the "big" choices in the earlier games didn't amount to much more than getting these war asset numbers and that was pretty disappointing.

Raising stats isn't enough to make me want to play the forthcoming DLC. Unless it's Aria's attempt to regain control of Omega because, damn, Aria is cool. I really liked "Lair of the Shadow Broker." You got so much info from it and it was really gorgeous to look at and you can change your relationship with Liara. (Next playthrough, I think I'm going to make her a love interest.)
Chosen
6. chosen
@5 I have read all the spoilers or potential spoilers at least, of the Leviathan DLC. It does sound intresting and the fact that you can find the Leviathan in ME1 shows that bioware is at least attempting to act like the care about game canon. That does not mean they won;t botch this as well. Also I am totally with you on wanting an Omega DLC with Aria.

***Spoilers!***

The idea that Balak from Bring Down the Sky is the one who tells you about Leviathan and starts you on the quest is nice, because I felt his part in ME3 was lacking. But I dont know if I actually want that thing to be a war asset, but the Idea of learning more about the race that built the Reapers is interesting.
Steve Hussey
7. deihbhussey
Personally, I think the scuttlebut is silly. I enjoyed the ambigous and open nature of the original ending. To me, it's the only way you can end an epic like Mass Effect. I have yet to play through the ending with the new content, but I applaud the audacity of Bioware for the original. It's a bit like Dune a la God Emporer in that - at least by picking, IMO, the best possible ending for the universe - Sheppard is responsible for changing the basic paradigm of all people anywhere in ME and preventing the repeated destruction of any advanced civilization. It answered the Machines or Man question for all time. Little questions like how an individual person got off Earth are irrelevant in the face of that.
Chosen
8. jgolenbo
meh...i can't work up the interest. Probably cause im a big baby. I WANT MY FEMSHEP ALIVE GDAMNIT
Chosen
9. DavidEsmale
@7 "Little questions like how an individual person got off Earth are irrelevant in the face of that." That's one point where I disagree with you. Most of the time when we discuss characters or historical figures that took it upon themselves to decide how everyone around them gets to live their lives, we throw around words like tyrant and dictator. I agree that the Synthesis ending is probably the best of the three...but it's still horrible.

Shephard has been fighting for 3 games to preserve the rights of organic beings to make their own decisions, make their own mistakes, live their own lives. And then he/she makes a decision that completely flies in the face of that.

The difficulty in trying to subvert expectations like this is that it needs to be done in a way that is still fulfilling to the audience in light of those expectations.

I expected to eventually face off directly with Harbinger. But he wasn't even mentioned until late in the game, and only showed up once.

I expected the mystery of Haestrom's fast-aging sun to, at best, play a role in the finale, or at worst to at least be explained. But that entire mystery was just forgotten about.

I expected the Rachni to play a big role in the finale...but they don't even make an appearance.

Given that the entire purpose of the Reaper/Conduit cycle is to prevent synthetics from completely eradicated all organic life, I expected that I could show them the falicy of that argument. Since I have an AI on my crew that's dating my pilot and have an entire race of synthetics allied with me against the Reapers. Instead, everyone dies if I make the one 'choice' that best approximates that conversational choice.

OK, I feel like I'm ranting now, so think I'll cut myself off as far as this comment goes now.
Mordicai Knode
10. mordicai
5. theresa_delucci

The whole "different shaped amino acids" thing, that is what you call it.
Theresa DeLucci
11. theresa_delucci
@9 Rant away, please. I can talk Mass Effect all day long.

@10 Thanks. Yeah, and it really gets a few mentions. Especially when the ship's doctor gives you medical advice on cross-species mating habits. And then sings Gilbert & Sullivan.
Chosen
12. chosen
@10 Yhea there are 2 species that are dextro based. Its never a big part, you just get bits of dialogue like a bartender saying "dont eat the nuts in the red bowls there for Turians and Quarians, unless you want to die"
Chosen
13. DavidEsmale
@11. You may end up regretting that...
Chosen
14. Eric Saveau
When I reached the end of Mass Effect 3 all I could feel was enraged betrayal and the overwhelming desire to shove Casey Hudson and Mac Walters into a pocket universe comprised entirely of teeth and wire. The Extended Endings... have taken a lot of the edge off of that. I was able to at least feel like, out of the available (and still nonsensical) choices, I took a stand that somewhat fit why I had done the things I did for the past several years.

If ME3 had shipped with these extended endings in the first place, there would have been less outrage. The crap sandwich they gave us initially has now been taken away and replaced with a bologna sandwich on dry bread with old cheese and stale crackers and a couple of Snickers bars left over from three Halloweens ago. It's still a helluva letdown from the sumptuous feast that preceded it... but at least it's more or less edible. It's more like the end of the story of my Commander Shepard; not what it should be, but I felt the emotinal resonance that was previously lacking, and I can live with it.

...but it still should have ended with series creator Drew Karpyshyn's original plan, gorramit...

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