damalur: (me • we are legion)
no, use my SPACE name! ([personal profile] damalur) wrote2012-03-08 06:36 pm

me3 flailing: post-game

So I finished Mass Effect 3 today after four hours of sleep and I have to say, I am pretty disappointed in the ending. I really, really hope there is a secret unlockable NG+ or DLC alternate ending, because I found all three ends completely unsatisfying. No explanation of what the Catalyst is or how it came to be, very little choice beyond that one major synthesis/destroy/control split, and little resolution beyond the defeat of the Reapers.

I have a problem with the big reveal on two levels; the first and more valid relates to storytelling. From a storytelling point of view, the ending is inconsistent with what BioWare has written previously. I enjoy ME as an update of the basic Cthulu story - the idea that there are ancient, unknowable horrors waiting in the universe. If you're going to remove that mystery, you'd better have a damn good explanation, and taking all agency from the reapers does nothing to validate three games of painting them as the all-encompassing horror.

Also, there was far too little exposition on who or what the Catalyst is or how it came to be. Sticking a deus ex machina ending in what was generally a thoughtful sci-fi universe with a pretty well-reasoned internal logic results in angry fans with good reason. Beyond that, the lack of epilogue was disappointing; I play these games as much for the characters and small details as any other reason, and some minor nods beyond Joker and Edi in the Garden of Paradise would've been great.

My second problem with the endings is that on an emotional level, none were truly satisfying. I worked hard for my ending, damn it. I made every paragon choice I could, saved every person, hoarded every resource from the first game right through the end. There were two damn characters from the second game I was beyond thrilled to see again, and BOTH OF THEM DIED. Well, sure, I could've killed Wrex instead of Mordin, but I can't even quibble with Mordin's death - it was so perfect for his character. I sacrificed, is the point. I was careful. No, I was meticulous. I also sat in front of the TV sobbing for fifteen minutes after Tuchanka, but I'm not going to complain about that - that's effective storytelling, everything the endings could have been but weren't.

And yeah, I want that happy ending. I want Shepard to persuade the Catalyst that life, synthetic and organic, should be free to exercise self-governance without interference from some higher lifeform. Maybe we'll all kill each other in the end, but you know what? That's our right. Except for the one superficial choice, the ending removed all agency not only from the reapers and not only from Shepard, but also from the galaxy as a whole. We're directed and shaped by the Catalyst? Where was Shepard's chance to ask why? Where was Shepard's chance to put a bullet through the Catalyst and walk away, knowing she might have doomed the galaxy but that at least they were making war of their own free will? Three games of railing against the reapers and Shepard just...accepts what the Catalyst offers?

And okay, maybe I also just want an ending where Shepard tells the Catalyst to shove its head up its ass, destroys the reapers, and walks off with Garrus to raise three krogan orphans in a sunny beachside home. I would've walked away satisfied, is what I'm saying.

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