First of all:
Do not read this post if you have not beaten Mass Effect 3.
Seriously. Don’t read this.
Okay. Still here? Well here we go.
There has been an uproar lately about Mass Effect 3. If you don’t know what Mass Effect 3 is, it’s a video game. It’s the 3rd installment in what is arguably the greatest single player experience in video game history. It’s a sci-fi epic in which the player makes choices throughout the game that actually effect the storyline, characters, conversations and overall direction of the experience. That is, until the very end, in which your decisions play virtually no role in the final moments of the trilogy.
Mass Effect is a journey. It’s one of the most well thought out sci-fi ideas since Star Wars. In fact it may be better than Star Wars. Nay, it IS better than Star Wars. Seeing as this is possibly the best sci-fi property going, the developer, Bioware, has created quite a fan base around the game and has given those fans three quality games over the last 5 years.
Bioware is not perfect however.
Mass Effect 3 has issues. I’m not talking about the moderately weak cover mechanics or the fact that you have to switch discs (on Xbox360) throughout the game. I’m not even talking about the moment when Kaiden (your comrade and fellow soldier) makes a pass at you, which regardless of your moral position, is completely out of place. It really does not fit the character at all and seems shoehorned in by a secular humanist intent on shoving their square morality block into a round hole. Can I not offer my injured war buddy some comfort in the hospital without worrying about him taking it the wrong way? Sigh. Even this is not the issue I speak of.
Mass Effect 3’s main issue (which has many fans in a panty-wad) is the ending. The last hour of the 75+ hour trilogy.
To be sure, Mass Effect 3 is a work of art. However, it is not the same medium as a book or a movie. Mass Effect 3 is a game. It’s a medium in which the player….assumes control (see what I did there) of the main character and shapes the experience as he or she deems fit. The game plays out differently depending on the choices you make throughout the game. Even the appearance of Shepard, the main character, can change depending on your choices. Yet, at the bitter end when all hope seems lost, the fate of the Milky Way galaxy plays out the same regardless of your choices.
Mass Effect 3 ends basically 3 different ways:
-You destroy all the Reapers and all synthetic beings in a red fireball and the Mass Relays are destroyed
-You control all the Reapers in a blue fireball and the Mass Relays are destroyed
-You merge organic and synthetic life (supposedly) in a green fireball and the Mass Relays are destroyed
If you’ve played as a Paragon (positive, good choices) throughout the game, the natural choice would be to “Destroy the Reapers” in order to preserve life in the galaxy and end the Reapers’ murderous wave to wipe it out. Yet, this option is considered the “Renegade” option, as its fireball is red colored which is associated with the Renegade choices throughout the series. This is puzzling.
If you are fighting tooth and nail for years to protect the people and aliens you know and love, fighting to preserve the infinitely valuable sentient life covering many of the galaxy’s star systems, why would you think all of a sudden that some holographic Reaper overlord kid predicting the future (which is impossible by the way) and spouting nonsensical B.S. makes more sense than what you KNOW is the right thing to do?
This Reaper overlord kid is introduced in the last 15 minutes of the game. He tells you they have established a cycle in which they wipe out the sentient life in the galaxy and process them in order to “store the old life in Reaper form.” The kid says this helps those sentient species “ascend.” Here the philosophy of Mass Effect take a nose dive off an ExoGeni skyscraper.
What the hell are the sentient species ascending to? Murder? Oppression? Sitting outside the galaxy for 50,000 years at a time? Rubbish. Am I supposed to think that the Reapers and their cycle stand for something greater than what exists in the galaxy currently? I wanted to put a “shave off the block” into that Reaper hologram idiot right then and there, but Bioware didn’t give me the choice. They forced me to listen to this lunatic for 5 more minutes. The hologram kid then tells you that “synthetics would destroy all organics” if this cycle wasn’t in place. Seriously? How do you KNOW that? Has it happened before? Obviously not, since organics are still around. I mean, if what the foolish hologram saying is true, then how are organics around AFTER the first synthetics were built and there were NO Reapers about to “protect” organics? And even if synthetics got close to actually doing destroying organics, can the Reapers’ cycle truly be a better option? It’s the SAME thing! REAPERS KILL ORGANICS GUYS. THEY KILL ORGANICS.
Reapers process sentient beings in order to harvest their DNA to preserve sentient life. Who actually thinks that life is simply DNA? This is scientific reductionism ad nauseum. It’s RIDICULOUS and it’s not true. The Reaper cycle is just plain murder. The “chaos” that the Reapers say they want to stop is LIFE as we know it.
So, let’s think about life and the galaxy as we know it. It’s amazing. It’s messy. It’s diverse. It’s dirty. It’s connected. It’s wonderful. It isn’t perfect, but it’s beautiful. You’d fight to protect it wouldn’t you? You might even give your life for it. Yet THIS is exactly the “chaos” that the Reapers want to destroy. Yet Bioware thinks that 2 outta 3 options you may want to choose in the game are to let the Reapers live and control them (TO DO WHAT!!?? WHAT purpose could this achieve?) or blend them with the beautiful messy people throughout the galaxy (again, to achieve what? How will this be better? The holo-kid failed to mention that). I’m sorry. Are we just supposed to trust the murdering Reapers when they say that this “final evolution” or “synthesis” of synthetic and organic life is supposed to be good? Evolution does not simply equal good. The Reapers consider themselves more highly evolved than us and boy aren’t they everything you ever wanted to be.
Though the philosophy behind Bioware’s three choices are poor, what really left a pit in my stomach at the end of the game was the unrequited love of Shepard and (in my game) Liara. The destruction of the Mass Relays only compounded this problem as every sentient being on a starship in the Sol system was instantly cut off from their home worlds and everyone they love in other star systems. They are stranded around earth, a wrecked world no longer capable of sustaining that many beings. You may say “But they could rebuild earth, think about the technology they have.” Really? Here is earth after the Reapers begin attacking it:
Oh. M’yeah. You’re right. Looks like a great place to grow Quarian crops.
Technology is not magic. There is no robot Madam Pomfrey to wave around a medi-gel wand to make all the boo boos better.
The Mass Relays being destroyed shattered the galaxy perhaps as much as the Reapers themselves. By choosing ANY of the three options Bioware gave, you end up hurting billions of beings. You may say “But most of the ships have FTL (Faster than Light) drives!” Well, keep in mind The Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years across. That means if you can travel at the speed of light, it will take you 100,000 years to get across it. So, lets say that FTL can take you 10x faster than light. In this case FTL capable ships could get you across the galaxy in 10,000 years. Even if FTL capable ships could go 100x the speed of light, getting Tali from the Sol System to Rannoch would take around 800-1000 years, as they are on opposite sides of the galaxy. Not feasible. Also, FTL drive cores require fuel, and NO ship has the fuel to do this type of travel. The Mass Relays being destroyed literally ended galactic civilization as we know it. The Reapers built the Relays, and correct me if I’m wrong, but no one fully understands how to rebuild them. Nor does any data fully explain how to build one, let alone build two to be linked together. Perhaps if there were, and QEC (Quantum Entaglement Communication) could transmit the data, then galactic civilization could rebuild, but who knows. Well, Bioware I guess. But they’re not telling…yet (hopefully DLC is on the way that will ease the misgivings).
This video: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DynYgr1rqEec&h=9AQG9Vlq0AQG0HVdEwHgDIWK28BCffGmJoxlAXq53oFuQVQ&enc=AZNrXBprEKp8W-XlNHyW5yNSmftTLsimt3wo6ZuYPv6o53FCaksJhtVVTFPnxbPQlDOXUl-Vx4u1qMU5L8p6SoZOFGzRvwlHjUkbSedNMkp59A
is a well-made video regarding the “Indoctrination Theory” which basically says that from the moment (or around the moment) when Shepard get’s knocked out by the Reaper laser in front of the elevator beam on earth, he is either:
A) Dreaming/undergoing indoctrination and never actually goes to the Crucible via the elevator beam
B) Fighting against indoctrination all the way to the bowels of the Crucible where the Catalyst/Holo-kid tries to trick him into making a decision to spare the Reapers (which is why the “destroy the Reapers” option is colored red for Renegade).
If “A” happens to be true, then Bioware is guilty of the cliche “It was aaaaaaall just a dream” story arc, and has apparently constructed the end of the game to get people to buy DLC. This theory could potentially put the blame on EA though.
If “B” happens to be true, the easter egg on the best possible ending of Shepard taking a breath (regaining consciousness) whilst laying in the rubble of Earth makes no sense. Shepard has already re-entered a planet’s atmosphere from space without a ship before and died in the process. He would certainly die re-entering Earth’s atmosphere once the Citadel was destroyed/seperated. He’d burn up just like a meteor.
If either of these is true, more story will be needed to fill in the gaps and apparently the DLC is touted to do just this. But this seems cheap in that NOT ONE SINGLE player has actually beaten Mass Effect 3.
The ending of Mass Effect 3 did not go over anyone’s head artistically. It went under everyone’s head because it makes no sense or intentionally leaves holes to be filled in later.