on March 14, 2012
How bad does an ending have to be in order to ruin an entire series? Yeah, its that bad. Let me clarify a few things free of spoilers. First, I'll actually review the game rather than tell you ho bad the ending is and leave. Don't worry, I have more to say than, "it was good up until..."
There is still plenty of dialogue and character development. All the characters are interesting and usually say things you'll want to listen to. While ME3 tries to appeal to a mainstream audience with MP and the combat, this remains one of those games that you shut the door and pay attention to the deep story and characters. The characters can be found all over the ship for dialogue choices. You don't have to always go to their specific location in order to speak with them. They can also be found on the Citadel whenever you dock so sometimes you'll be caught in situations rather than dialog sequences. Some characters will make you think more to yourself than the series ever has before. This really is some of the best writing to date, no matter how heart-breakingly awful the series ended.
Deaths/outcomes are generally done very well. Depending on your choices and/or renegade/paragon score, some past characters can live or die. Most of mine died, but they were all masterfully killed off and one even brought me to tears. THAT'S SAYING SOMETHING.
The DLC character is a wonderful addition to the series. I can't complain about having to buy him because he came with my collector's edition, but I cannot imagine not having him in the game. He's no Mordin or Thane, but he reveals the truth about the revered Protheans as well as some VERY surprising things about the council races that I'm sure you would not have otherwise known without the DLC. In other words the DLC is ESSENTIAL. As much as I like Zaeed and Kasumi, this DLC trumps them both.
The combat/cover system doesn't come close to the likes of Uncharted. The cover system will drive you crazy and you'll definitely roll when you wanted to snap to cover. A play through of this on insanity is going to result in a broken controller for sure. Shooting gets quite repetitive (I like shooters), and it make you wish some real space age blasters, beams, or lasers would be part of your arsenal rather than normal guns in futuristic clothing.
There is only ONE HUB WORLD. ME2 had Illium, the Citadel, Tuchanka, and Omega. You even had the Shadow Broker ship. Besides the Normandy, you are limited to only the Citadel to visit. THAT SUCKS.
You must procure heavy weapons on site. Gone are the days where you can simply equip the Cain, Arc Projector, Flamehrower, etc. You have to find them on the ground within a level in order to use them.
In Mass Effect 3 everyone eagerly anticipated how Earth would be. It was hyped up in the trailers and I even remember interviews saying you could go to Japan, somewhere in the US, and Vancouver. FORGET ALL THAT. You only go to London. A war-torn destroyed London that is only recognizable as a human settlement because there are actual streets with road paint rather than futuristic platforms or dirt. To say that Earth was underwhelming is an understatement. It downright sucked. The fights, the location, the atmosphere; everything about it was poorly executed and made for a terrible "final showdown."
*****THE AWFUL (spoiler-free)*****
As mentioned the ending completely ruined the entire series for me. I literally just switched my desktop background from Commander Shepard back to Big Boss (Kojima can get an ending right). Not only is it bad because it failed to satisfy me and bring closure to any of the characters we all know and love, but it rendered anything I did in the past games worthless. Had a romance with someone not on the ship? Who cares. Stopped Garrus from killing Sidonis? Who cares. Sidonis is not even in the game. Saved the Rachni queen? It was just a number on your galactic readiness.
I was looking forward to closing the book on my favorite franchise in gaming history....just like you were. To find out that my choices meant nothing in a series that boasts its element of choice above anything else is heartbreaking. Half a decade of the best game I've ever played ruined by the last 15 mins? They had to stumble from perfection somewhere, but they fumbled at the one yard line in the Super Bowl.
Metal Gear Solid takes back its title as the best story driven franchise. Bioware, you failed BIG TIME.
Two words: INDOCTRINATION THEORY
Casey Hudson was quoted as saying he wanted and ending that we all would talk about. I am still conflicted whether the ending was lazy and a massive disappointment, or if the entire final game in the trilogy was riddled with subtleties missed by all of us who hated HATED HATED the ending. Do yourself a favor and watch the indoctrination video. It contains truly COMPELLING evidence that this is not the end......I have changed my score for the time being because of the extremely convincing arguments throughout the vid.
After playing through again on insanity, this game is MUCH MUCH easier than Mass Effect 2's insanity. It has also been announced a few weeks ago that we'll be getting a "true" ending this summer as DLC. I'm hoping its worthwhile but I'm not holding my breath. I have a few other complaints after the game after being somewhat of an expert on it now (I got my galactic readiness to 100% and my assets to over 7000).
It seems like Bioware refused to think outside of the box. Before infiltrating the geth ship you are walking on a blown up ship with magnetic shoes. You are basically out in open space and its AWESOME. These types of moments are what I was hoping for throughout the game. I wanted Bioware to take advantage of the fact that we're in space. Throw in some zero gravity sections, or maybe even be joker for a mission piloting the Normandy. The possibilities are endless and while I still love the game, I would have like to do more than shooting.
And speaking of the shooting, there is too much of an emphasis on it. I know people who get through the whole game without using their powers. In ME2, it wasn't quite a full out shooter and choosing the right squadmates made a huge difference in your play style (at least on the harder difficulties). This time, it really
doesn't matter who you choose (except for Tali with the geth missions; it matters then). You can usually just mow everyone down with bullets ignoring powers.
With everything said, I don't think its as good as ME2. The dialogue and characterization are excellent as always, but it ends on a VERY low note.
***Extended Cut Update***
Prior to downloading the extended cut I tried my best to beat the game and load the ending in time for Tuesday the 26th and noticed something. The shooting is extremely dull and repetitive. ME3 is a mediocre shooter plain and simple. Ending aside, I must say that the new gameplay mechanics and the extreme emphasis on shooting bores me. This resulted in me looking up the extended cut on youtube rather than shoot my way through ME3. Maybe I should change classes or something. Anyways, let's get this over with.
The indoctrination theory was a clever attempt at rationalizing the ending and is now proved invalid. The endings are not changed or expanded on as much as they are EXPLAINED. We now have more closure and can see what Bioware was trying to get across. Across the internet you may find articles saying that the ending should not be tampered with as it goes against the studio's artisic vision, blah, blah, blah. Well, IT WASN'T. IT'S WHAT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. The ending is now complete rather than extended.
Do I think the indoctrination theory is better that what Bioware tacked on to the end of the trilogy? Yes, far better in fact. Is Mass Effect 3 the stinker of the trilogy that could have used a couple more years in development? Definitely. The story, character interactions and everything were excellent, but the past crew were tacked on in missions (Jacob, Jack, Samara) and I still don't feel like my war assets affect anything at all. As for the Rachni, they may as well have never been in the series. Their buildup resulted in absolutely nothing. As you are reading this you probably can see that I think the series deserved a better sendoff. Where were the space battles, QTE's, interactions/conversations with the Reapers, Sidonis (Garrus' foe), and choices from the past (such as if I sided with the Illusive Man)? I can't think of a single way that ME3 built upon or improved on ME2.
Regarding the extended cut Bioware did a wonderful job patching up the misunderstood, vague ending. They listened to the fans and did something about it for free. I will always appreciate that and feel comfort in the fact that this is not the end for Mass Effect.
If Bioware decided to build on ME3's indoctrination theory I could see another game with Shepard fighting the Reapers under impossible odds and finding a way to win with EVERYONE he had in his crew. Except Thane and Legion of course. Abandoned worlds devoid of life and Shepard and crew must fight their way through guerilla style as to avoid being caught. All characters evolve further and are pushed to their mental limits because they are the last in the universe. Then the might and wisdom of the Rachni come to the rescue because of my choice back in 2008 woo-hoo! 100% wishful thinking at this point but whatever, ME3 was OK.