Mass Effect

Don't read this if you haven't completed the trilogy! It's kind of quickly bashed-out because I wanted to get something down while things are still swimming around in my head. Might be up for some editing later on.

I completed this a week ago, and I was completely happy with the whole thing, the whole trilogy. I was so dark leading up to its release that I really didn't know anything about it - even who was in it (in terms of returning characters). Once it launched I stayed away from game sites and didn't even look at twitter. An incredibly refreshing way to play a game in these all-access, spoilers-everywhere times (I highly recommend this approach for story-led games). In fact, I didn't even know people were unhappy about the ending until a friend told me (and we're both spoiler-sensitive enough that he himself didn't know why, he'd only seen headlines).

Anyway, I'm really struggling with the idea of replaying the saga, even though I want to spend more time in those games. I'm pretty precious about Mass Effect, and the story and characters are very dear to me. The story I experienced is the only one I'm interested in, because that's the only way I see that universe, if you get me. The characters that lived and died, the choices I made... all that stuff is Mass Effect to me. There's no other interpretation. The notion of replaying for a 'better' outcome just feels so odd. It would be like remaking a classic movie and changing the ending (for the record, I never reloaded a save to go back on a decision or event that played out badly).

Well, I'm only a week out from it so maybe over time I'll warm to the idea.

My path through the story (what I can remember):


Saved Wrex
Sacrificed Kaiden
Spared Rachni Queen
Romanced Liara
Sacrificed Council
Can't remember what I did about human leadership. I think I put Udina in charge


Destroyed Geth heretics
Stayed faithful to Liara
Lost entire crew aside from Chakwas (tardy in going through relay)
Lost Thane and Jack in suicide mission
Destroyed the Collector base


Spared Rachni (the cutscene afterwards with Grunt fighting put me through the wringer).
Cured the Genophage (Mordin died. I cried during that sequence, which is the only time that's ever happened thanks to a videogame).
Ended the war between the Geth and Quarians peacefully, although Legion sacrificed himself to upload his consciousness to the collective.
Romanced Liara
Lost friendship of Wrex because my lack of urgency in dealing with the bomb on Tuchanka led to Eve dying. Heartbroken about that
Chose synthesis ending.

I played a very righteous Shepard. Fair and always willing to do the best for everyone, but still very practical and serious about her job. Merciful in all but the most extreme circumstances and ruthless in combat.

Thoughts on 3 overall, and the ending:
Lots of problems with it on a technical level, but that holds true for all three games. Combat is something I grin and bear in order to get to the next bit of story, or the next opportunity to talk to my crew. Side missions are a mess, woefully handled. Often I would complete them without even realising I was on them.

Everything else was great. When EDI appeared in physical form I rolled my eyes at the SEXY ROBOT stereotype, but over the course of the game she actually proved to be my favourite new character by far. Kind of encapsulating one of the major themes of the story (machine intelligence, what is 'life', where is it all heading for biological creatures, and so forth). Pity about the alternate costume cameltoe though :rolleyes:

Javik was such a jerk! He wanted me to blow Legion out the airlock.

Some gobsmacking designs and environments. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of exploration, but then the focus of the game was a hurried gathering of forces rather than a leisurely galactic jaunt.

I thought the end was fine. I have no problems with lack of closure or ambiguity anyway - a lifetime of reading sci-fi has seen to that - and I fully expected the sacrifice of Shepard to be inevitable. In fact I spent most of the game confidently convinced that she was the catalyst. I'm a sucker for noble sacrifice though. If anything I didn't appreciate the young boy as the delivery mechanism for the final decision, but that's just because I didn't particularly like exposition time! coming from a child. Also, it kept reminding me of Jake Lloyd.


I didn't need or want to see any kind of epilogue with Garrus setting up a private investigation firm, or Joker and EDI's biomechanical kids running about. I loved that the ending was so final and literally transformative for the galaxy that it would have been a clean slate. The cycle is broken and everything can move in a new direction.

As for things that needed closure - the main stuff was served with endings - they just didn't come at 'the end'. During the course of that game I wrapped up two major plot threads of the saga - the Genophage and the war between the Geth and Quarian - both of which could have gone in very different directions. I don't know the nuts and bolts that lie underneath the surface, but I'm sure that many more things I did along the way impacted subtly on the course of ME3's story, and the choices I got to make (I had greyed-out dialogue with the Illusive Man at points, for example). It's not all about the very, very end. I think anyone focusing on the final decision is kind of missing the point. The journey is as important as the destination, if not more so. A friend said something that was absolutely bang-on: Think of the whole of Mass Effect 3 as the end of the Mass Effect story, not just the last five minutes. The Reapers had to be dealt with in order to bring the story to a close, but the method is almost irrelevant by that point - is it any better or worse than ME2's Contra III Boss fight? Personally, I was hugely relieved that it didn't come down to a boss fight, cos I frickin' hate them.

The last bits of the puzzle got explained, I made a decision based on the ideals of my Shepard. Fin.

Yes, the endings are superficially similar but they all have to be the ending of the story that was written. What differs is the player's interpretation of how things would continue from there. In one version the Reapers still exist, under the control of some kind of Shep-ghost master intelligence. In another all machine life is obliterated, leaving only a future for biological existence. The third is a shining, happy future of unity - a new stage of evolution for all. Is deciding the fundamental future of the galaxy not enough? It's all so subjective, which is why I think it's ridiculous to complain about. We were playing a series of games that allowed a lot of player freedom throughout, but ultimately we were playing the story that Bioware created. The only way I would have been upset is if I'd gotten to the end and my Shepard had acted in a way that completely betrayed her character, or threw in some ludicrous twist:

*Shep rips off mask* "Haha! I was a Reaper all along!"

I think Bioware did just plenty in giving us a wide range of choices and branches, but we have to be reasonable about the overall story - it has to stay within certain parameters just to make sense among everyone playing it. My story - while still being about the Reapers, the Genophage, and dozens of other threads - varied hugely from my friends on the specifics. Did people think there would actually be dozens of completely different endings, depending on whether or not you shot Conrad Verner in the foot? I may be wrong, but did Bioware ever explicity promise that we would all have vastly different endings? Vastly different stories along the way, yes - and we did.

Ah... I've ranted too long on this and I didn't mean to.

I liked it.

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