By now, if you play Mass Effect, you know about the extended cut and have seen at least one of the new endings. Nearly the entirety of the gaming community was disaffected by the ending to Mass Effect 3. Pretty much every blog, website, reviewer, or anyone with a keyboard or camera hopped on the “hate Mass Effect because the ending sucked” bandwagon. I can’t say that I’m displeased with the extra content, but I’m probably the only person that feels it wasn’t necessary. The general consensus is that everyone’s happy now because we have closure. But did we need closure? Granted most of us were in a six year relationship with Mass Effect, but we’re not sobbing high school girls who need it spelled out for us that it’s over, or unsatisfied, middle-aged, romance novel reading housewives, that just NEED to know what happens to the protagonist and their love interest. Or at least I’m not. These are the only two acceptable situations where I will allow a desire for closure. Closure is easy, closure is pretty, closure plays to our base emotions, but it’s not necessary for a good story. I think that’s the easy way to tell a story; wrapping it up in a nice and neat package topped with a little bow. Which is fine if we were reading a teenage middle-schooler’s book. But an adult story like this does not need a happy ending.
The Empire Strikes Back ends with tons of questions left unanswered. The rebellion is put to rout, Han is frozen in carbonite and taken off by Boba Fett,, and Luke has his hand cut off by the most evil man in the galaxy who then tells him that he’s his father! Then it just ends. Also, let’s take the first two Alien movies. Ripley has just barely gotten away with her life, but there’s no time for catharsis. They don’t show her landing safely back in civilization, reuniting with her family. Just back into stasis, best of luck to you, Ripley. Then it ends. That didn’t make these endings terrible. That being said, I would like to take this moment to note that I realize I’m comparing a video game to movies, but there are no other sci-fi video games out there that have attained the scope of storytelling that Mass Effect has, so I reached towards it’s closest relatives.
My only real complaint about the ending of ME3 was the complete lack of defiance Shepard had. After you’re done listening to all the crap Ghost Kid has to tell you, you’re just like, “Ok. Sure. Whatever you say.” That’s not the way I play. That’s not how my Shepard would react. My Shepard would never blithely accept someone else’s arbitration. Even if I was never able to change the choices given to me at the end, I still would have been satisfied with one more act of defiance. After going through all the dialogue the first time, I shouted at my TV, “F— you and your choices!” And now you can. Without giving too much away incase you haven’t done the new endings yet, they did add in a “middle finger” ending.
I haven’t started any new games since my last run through, so I had a restart mission checkpoint right before beaming up to the citadel, which meant I could quickly just run through each ending. Otherwise the closest area where you can save still has a pantload of fighting before reaching the citadel. Skipping the dialogue during these scenes isn’t allowed, which is kind of annoying if you just want to view all the endings. I suppose that does force you to invest yourself in what’s going on though, giving you a more emotional reaction. I’m sure this was intentional on Bioware’s behalf, since the whole point of the extended cut was to give people the cathartic release they requested for their Shepard. I’ll admit, I liked seeing what becomes of Wrex (if he’s alive). and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little interested in what Tali (my love interest) does after my death. It’s nice to see these things, but still not necessary. When we’re left with these emotional holes like this at the end of a story, it allows us to intellectually fill them ourselves, and thus take more active participation in crafting our own story, which is really what Bioware’s game have always been about. I suppose it’s a trade off. We’re happy and satisfied when we’re given this information, but we’re robbed of our ability to wonder.
Now I’m not saying that anyone who wanted more closure for their ending was wrong, I’m just defending my opinion for why I didn’t think the original ending sucked. The three original endings have all been extended and have a much stronger emotional punch, which I guess is what people wanted. There are slight variations between them, but ultimately each one wraps up all your accomplishments the same. Like I said before – pretty little bow. I do think one thing is for certain though, the new endings offer more of a finality for Shepard’s story. If there is going to be another Mass Effect game, it would more than likely have to be a prequel.