Mass Effect 3. It is all over the net and the gaming world…..dividing players, the game community, player community and game developers, and so forth for the highly debatable Ending to the tale of Commander Sheperd. Notice I said ‘Ending’ and not ‘Endings’ (plural)….for it is here that makes understanding the finale so important. It is the Ending to the Story….and whatever a player ‘chose’ is how that ending would be told or concluded.
This is important to understand and grasp, as much as it is for players trying to grasp and understand why it ended as it did. Choice was the selling point of the game obviously, other than gameplay, and it was reinforced by the universe that was created by Bioware and the story that was being told. Repeat that…. The STORY that was being told. The player was making choices and leading the story to it’s conclusion. The player was merely the Director of the Story, just like a director in a film…the difference being unlike a film director, there is no way for the player to produce anything or create anything to put into the tale. They have to make do with what is given them, and make their choices as to how it will play through. Choice. A brilliant selling point and for the most part delivered in this epic storyline…which is what players are forgetting…while it is a game to play through, it is ultimately the Story they have control in their choice of and how it is told specifically depending on their Point of View. Just like Obi Wan said in the Empire Strikes Back, it all depends on your point of view.
In all three of the ME games, choices made were or would lead to the same conclusive cutscene result for every mission. It did not matter if you responded one way or another, if one wanted to they could go back and reply differently to get the same result as the first. Not sure if any are familiar with Mad Libs, written stories that had places missing where one could add their own noun, verb, or adjective in parts…where upon reading the story after doing so would result in hilarious renditions of the how the story translated, most of which were far flung from the original. Similarly, though maybe without as much silliness as Mad Libs, the story was told how one chose or selected responses or inquires from the given selections based on that part of the story or mission. This is important to remember as well….based on the selections given that a player could choose from, these being preselected to choose from.
There were only a few places that player choice had any real effect…Reputation, Alliances, and Relationships. Reputation was which response a player chose or which morality of response (good or bad), and also if one chose to select the flashing colored Quick Response with L1 or L2 (PS3 buttons). Alliances could be crafted, agreed upon, disagreed upon, etc… and would have an affect, but nothing really game determining in the end. Relationships…now that was truly a player choice arena. On one play through, I had a melding of Sheperd and Jack…at the loss of Miranda. On another play-through I had the closeness with Miranda…at the loss of Jack.
Playing ME1 and 2, at the end…it should also be noted…there would be a NPC type character transition effect, where it would depend on say who you chose for a squad. It would determine if they lived or died. After playing the endings, this being after presaving at points prior and playing them differently…changing the choices made. Each time a random member or choice of members would be opted for survival or death….BUT no main characters, like Garrus, could ever be selected by the game to die. Only other NPC type characters. At the end of ME2, two times playing it… I lost Miranda one time and then Jack the next play through (and not sure why but it seemed to have same affect on characters of the relationship affect). It didn’t matter who I chose…it would choose on its own who lived or died, AND would arrive at the very same conclusion as any other time. AND THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO DEBATE OR RIDICULE RESPONSE BY THE COMMUNITY….because they knew a ME3 would be coming to transfer and continue.
Well…..same thing occurs in ME3.
Players have really DELUDED THEMSELVES in thinking that there would be some kind of infinite results or cause and effect happening. That the ramifications for their separate and individual, ‘unique choices’ were going to be algorithmically manifested and accounted for. To do that would be HIGHLY improbable for a game to accomplish, much less a developer. Coding for that would have been enormous…requiring an almost EDI (the synthetic AI) talent and capability, not to mention it would have made the game entirely too big to even put on a disk. So….every choice was going to lead ultimately to the same result regardless. It was just going to be an ultimate given. It is the player’s and community’s fault for buying so much into the premise of choice having massive cause and effect outcomes…and I guess Bioware’s fault as well, for brilliantly marketing it as such but not clarifying just how it was going to be limited in a way.
The whole concept of ‘choices’ in the game were minimal, and while some things would be affected they were mostly minor. IT WAS THE PLAYERS PERCEPTION OF STORY that was the real choice factor. HOW the story played out, how the dialogue was rendered in time, what missions and where, or when etc, etc were the real choices.
If one plays the game and chooses to do this and that, it could play differently than if someone did that and this….to put it a spin on it. How YOU chose to play it out was going to be different in its entirety to how it played through than the way I did. And so forth a million players over….with only a highly random chance of any two or three others being exactly the same. Choosing the direction of the STORY is the main ‘choice’ factor players had….anything else was just a deluded belief and a great marketing ploy. Which really didn’t affect me or anyone else negatively until now, because the games ARE awesome! And why did it affect so many…because they fail to understand the inevitability of there only being so many ways to get from A to B that are capable of being put into the game, much less the number of ‘B’s to conclude with. What you chose at the end was how the story ended….FOR YOU. Not what choices you made would alter and create a new ending.
Now everyone wants on the bandwagon, and demands closure to something they cannot seem to grasp….the bigger picture.
I could see ALL of the plot holes, what happened to this or that character, results of what transpires after Sheperd’s assimilation, sacrifice, or demise….meaning to humanity and the galaxy. But it really was foretold as to what would happen when given the choices to begin with. It was in being given descriptions of what would happen that led a player to decide…”Do I want this, this, or this to be what happens to them, as a result for what action I take?”. After making that choice….it then becomes the version of the tale or legend…it plays out in cinematic form for the story to be effective and artistically rendered. Depending on how or which path you chose ACCOMPANIED by the descriptions of what happens to the Galaxy and all of the inhabitants is how the story ends. Period.
Play it again….choose differently, and all that really changes is…. how the STORY is perceived to end.
The big picture being forgotten…..all of the uncertainty, wonderment, debates, etc ….is it not possible that it is being developed? That Bioware has an idea of them being divulged in future ME games? (Which was stated by Bioware as definitely continuing with a ME Universe thing after Sheperd’s final storyline.)
It would make sense to use these wonderments at the end of ME3 to capitalize on FUTURE CONTENT and have pertinent STORYLINES. But no. The community jumps the gun in a fanatic uproar and just stews and cries over it, EVEN THOUGH every single ending in ME3 can be understood as the story plays out individually currently and without foresight of possibilities of getting more and more Mass Effect in the future.
If this kind of negative feedback were in the development, beta, or gameplay related issues…Or being discussed constructively, and not reactionary like a tantrum….then I can see it making sense. And giving feedback if you didn’t like it is fine….but demanding a rewrite? Actually asking for donations (though for charity which is always good) to make a point that is based solely on player misconception….. That’s just over the top! Especially when the endings made sense and were…while could be said an easy way out, were a plausible storyline to the entire story.
I am sure if any of these ME fans had read the Star Wars books….which would be the main storyline not tangents….they would be appalled at what occurs in what would be the last 3 parts of the entire story. (The Three Chapters that would be VII, VIII, and IX) Fans are already appalled at all of the revisions occurring currently with each new movie set release of I-VI…and thats because the original story is being constantly edited and altered. Asking for Bioware to rewrite or add something for the sake of closure…..which was already given is absurd AND has the exact same effect. What if the rewrites are not good enough? What if the closure is just that….closure…..closed….no more story….no need to expand upon or continue into a ME Universe aspect, because the displeased fanatics will never be satisfied until it ends their way? And which Fan Ending is THE way it is supposed to end? And what have you really demanded? What form is it going to be be in? I’ll garner an answer to that….purchasable DLC, that would simply be an option to buy, that might add more of a cinematic ending. Perhaps similarly, but with 5 more minutes of gameplay.
The whole purpose of having the mystery of ‘After Sheperd’s Tale….’ is so players can discuss, debate, inquire and so forth. Negative aspects of that nature are also guaranteed to happen as well. It is feedback in any form. But the feedback should’ve been of a more inquisitive and constructive nature….inquiring more of “what’s next for ME?”…”any plans to include explanations or the transitional affects into future STORYLINES?”…. “will the main NPC’s be given more roles to center games on?”…. “will future games be of a Pre-ME3, heck Pre-ME1 even….or post ME3 nature?” These are generally, even in negative connotations, given a sense of urgency for more ACTUAL games….NOT feeling obligated to give you better closure/ending.
To do as the community is doing over this, would be the same as demanding….Morgan Freeman to stay in Shawshank Prison, because you feel it would make it more sad or speak of the nature of importance to having determination and individuality like ‘Andy Dufrane’…..or for more of the artful sense, like demanding Michelangelo put a fig leaf on the statue of David- which WAS demanded by some, and still is, as ridiculous as it sounds.
Given the endings told….as individual STORYLINES separate from each other, it really should not be hard to determine what happened…much less to Sheperd and her team. Yep….I CHOSE Sheperd to be female…and she has a different hairdo with black hair to boot, than the default game version! Base it on what you chose…THAT’S how and what happened. Choose a different one…. then THAT’S what and how it happened….and what would occur as a result. The game is awesome. The series was awesome. So were the STORYLINES I CHOSE as they played out. Sorry yours seemed terrible or ended unexpectedly, which is stretching it a bit seeing as how it all ultimately was designed to end the same way overall….just taking a different route to get there. And if the frothing up-chuck of a response is what some in this community choose to retort with…..then, by determination of choices, causes, and effects….as the Knight Templar in Indiana Jones: Last Crvusade said, “You chose poorly.”