RGB And Wait, What’s This?!
So, I’ve blogged about my views on the Mass Effect 3 endings before. Consequently now that I’ve been through the Extended Cut, it’s probably time to air my views there too. (Because of course computer games are Serious Business, amirite?) Needless to say this post will be a soup of spoilers.
I’ll put a quick, non-spoilery TL;DR summary up here: the Extended Cut is much better. Well done to Bioware! They did the sensible thing, owned the mistakes and dealt with them in a reasonably satisfactory manner. Having seen the Extended Cut I feel a lot happier about the endings, and feel that I better understand what was happening.
Now, in more detail…
So, onto my thoughts on the Extended Cut itself.
First off, there’s actually now a fourth ending. I found this completely by accident last night. I’d resolved to pick Synthesis this time (I took Control last time, and I’m not really keen on Destroy); whilst I was moving Shepard toward the glowing beam, I decided to take a pot-shot at the Space Ghost Kiddy. I wasn’t actually expecting this to do anything but just thought it might be amusing to fire the Carnifex for the last time in-game.
The gun fired. Then, I was startled by a deep, growly, rather Harbinger-like voice which said something to the effect of, ‘So be it. The cycle continues.’ (I like to think that the voice actually was Harbinger – who knows, perhaps it was listening in on GSK/Shepard’s little chat?)
Then the screen cut out to a view of a hillside somewhere with some kind of beacon stuck out of it; it turned out this was one of Liara’s information repositories, and it was broadcasting an automated message, describing how the civilisations of her day had fought and lost the Reaper War. Then that faded out, to be replaced by a different version of the ‘Stargazer’ scene. This time, the voice speaking was female, and the silhouettes were distinctly non-human in outline. It emerged that they were actually from some alien civilisation at some time in the future, who had used the knowledge in the repositories to (presumably) win a conventional war against the Reapers.
Well, I wasn’t expecting that! That’s certainly the mother of all distant finales, isn’t it? This ending doesn’t specifically tell us what happened to the ME cast, but I guess we can assume they all got milkshaked at some point. Ouch.
So, however tempting it might be, don’t shoot the Ghost Kiddy.
After that I went back to my last save, and repeated the ending-sequence. I was feeling a bit uneasy, as I still hadn’t completely worked out how I’d got the distant-finale ending. I was wondering if now this was actually the only one?
No, it isn’t. On my second attempt – without shooting Ghost Kiddy – I managed to get the Synthesis ending. And this was where the real emotional payoff happened; the narration there is done by EDI, and well, she’s very happy. Plus you get a shot of the quarians getting on with the geth too. The EC has strongly emphasised that Synthesis is arguably the ‘best’ of the options available.
Also, Synthesis results in friendly Reapers. Wow! (In Destroy they’re all dead and in Control it’s not really clear whether they still have any sort of minds of their own left.) I really liked that bit.
So, what’s been clarified?
- The squad pick-up: we actually see it happen. Shepard calls down the Normandy just before reaching the beam. That’s what people had assumed happened before, but we didn’t get to see it, so a lot of us (myself included) had been rather confused!
- The Normandy leaves Earth: because the crew are directly-ordered to by Hackett. And Joker doesn’t look too happy about this. But we now have a sensible explanation for what the Normandy was doing in that relay corridor! Yay!
- The nature of the Catalyst: this gets clarified somewhat. We still only have part of the picture, but the outline appears to be that an organic species built it at some point. Apparently it was supposed to mediate relations between organics and synthetics, only apparently it decided to do this by setting up a repeated cycle of genocide. (Sounds to me like its creators forgot to debug their code – maybe someone’s fingers slipped on the keyboard and set $GENOCIDE_ALL_LIFE_Y_OR_N = 1 when it should have been = 0? Or maybe this was one of those fixing-a-float-type things, combined with the uncertainty on a floating point, which is why the Reapers only reappear every 50 Kyr?) However we do learn that the Catalyst is apparently the collective intelligence of the Reapers.
- The relay explosions: aren’t really explosions anymore. Rather, it looks like they discharge their entire eezo cores while transmitting the signal, and then they just sort of fall apart. So with any luck this means the galaxy hasn’t been subjected to a galactic-level ‘Arrival’-type event. Also, the ‘Control’ ending shows you a relay being rebuilt (by Reapers!), and in ‘Destroy’ Adm. Hackett describes them as ‘badly damaged’ rather than completely demolished. So presumably this means the network can be repaired, and may even still be partially-operational.
- We see the Reapers either leave or keel over on several different planets: so my conspiracy theory that they’d only left London has been refuted.
- Shepard is assumed dead: in all the endings. Also it does appear that Anderson is dead for real; again, this wasn’t 100% clear previously.
So, the EC is a definite improvement, and now it actually does *feel* like an ending.
However, there are a few things that the EC does still leave hanging. I’ll note these down for the record:
- Space Kiddy is still there; I’d have been quite happy to see the back of it completely, but then, that wouldn’t really have been fair to the people who did like the pre-EC endings. Also, at least we get some more clarity as to what exactly it is. (It’s still an annoying little snot, though!) But all of this still raises more questions than it solves.
- What about Sovereign? It seems a lot of what it said in ME1 was either wrong, deluded or an outright lie. (Related question: are the Reapers themselves actually aware of Space Kiddy?)
- The rationale for Synthesis still doesn’t really make that much sense, even if it is the ‘best’ of the available endings.
- The Citadel itself: or, more accurately, the people on it. Even in the EC we never find out what finally happened to Bailey/Aria/the Council etc. Since the Reapers stole it, I’m assuming they all got milkshaked – but we never actually see this. Nor, oddly, does the Council et al. get mentioned in any of the endings.
- Harbinger: it’s still not really obvious why it doesn’t just finish you off properly just before the beam. It’s not like Harbinger to miss a chance to shoot at Shepard! I suppose we’ll just have to assume that Harbinger made a mistake, I suppose.
- The Crucible: we still don’t really get any clear answers as to where it came from originally.
- And lastly… in the case of Synthesis, what does Javik make of discovering he’s now part-machine? I can’t see him taking that too well, somehow … haha!
Anyway, my summary is that I’m definitely pleased to have seen the Extended Cut. It’s cleared up all the really crippling closure issues from the previous set (even if we do still have Space Kiddy). It probably also means that I no longer need to write the alternative ending I’ve got floating around in my head, as I’m reasonably happy with the ones we’ve got now.
So yes, once more, well done to Bioware 🙂