Mass Effect 3’s Ending and Extended Cut, Part 2

The changes brought by the Extended Cut don’t kick in until the final stretch where everyone makes a mad dash for the transporter beam.

Remember that ridiculous sequence where your crew was magically back on the Normandy and they were fleeing battle for no reason to…. somewhere…?  Well that’s been fixed.  Sort of.  Now, once you get so close to the transporter beam, your squad gets knocked over by an explosion from Harbinger’s beam.  They get barely scratched–covered in a little blood, sure, but nothing compared to the injuries Shepard will receive–nevertheless, Shepard freaks out for no reason, and calls the Normandy to pick up your squadmates.  If you brought Shepard’s love interest with along, they have a good-bye moment.

This… this… what?  How?  Huh??  This makes no sense!  Everyone on the Normandy–everyone in the daggum fleet knows what they signed up for!  It’s now or never!  Why would you risk everyone on the Normandy just to evacuate two scratched up people out of everyone else who is dying making a dash for the beam???  We now see the Normandy rejoin the battle in space.  Your squad is not much safer there than where they were a few minutes ago!  And now they’re sitting useless on a ship!

SHEPARD.  IS.  A.  BRICK.

So we get to the retarded section with the Illusive Man, and he can somehow control Anderson and Shepard with his mind.  How the heck does this even work?  He implanted himself to (attempt to) control husks, not people.  If this is like Reaper Indoctrination, then how the heck does this workI remember reading in the codex how Rapid Indoctrination decays higher mental functions and leaves the victim a gibbering animal, and slow, subtle Indoctrination is best.  There is no way the Illusive Man should be able to do what he’s doing.

Then he goes on and on how he’s doing what’s best for humanity, and how the Reapers are, in fact, his enemy, he just wants to control them.  This is a joke.  TIM isn’t doing what’s best for humanity, he spends the entire third game killing everyone.  He mucks with every single one of Shepard’s plans for no reason.  Nothing he does even remotely helps himself.  If anything, he’s helping the Reapers.  He turned the Citadel over to them, for heaven’s sake, when he needs it as much as Shepard does!  Whyyy???

And don’t give me that “TIM is indoctrinated” crap.  Indoctrinated at the end, sure, but what about the beginning of the game when he first presented his “control” plans to Shepard?  Before any implants or anything?  Was he indoctrinated then?  Or after you storm the Cerberus base (a whole other post itself) and talk to him?  There were no implants on him then.  Was he indoctrinated then?  The game never tells us anything regarding this.  TIM being indoctrinated is one of the crappiest and cheapest contrivances in the Mass Effect universe.  There is no reason for TIM to be your enemy, and every reason for him to be one of your allies–especially for Renegade Shepard.  Throughout the whole game, he could be advocating Reaper control while Anderson or Hackett or whomever pushes for Reaper destruction.  Then he could be trying to implant himself or whatever and still fail in the end.  But no, we get full-on retard Cerberus instead.  Cerberus who, in the first game was a rogue black-ops group; Cerberus who, in the second game became a think tank of 150 dudes; Cerberus who, in game three, magically became the friggin’ Galactic Empire from Star Wars–who is competent enough to field armies, establish bases and invasions, and who is somehow one step ahead of everyone, yet incompetent enough their plans always fail.  That is a very specific level of competency.  Logistics people!  How is he able to capture enough dudes to turn into semi-husk soldiers, supply enough armor, weapons, training, ships, bases, and more, all while the Reapers are killing millions of people every day?  Cerberus is the humiliating dead weight around the neck of this entire franchise.

And don’t get me started on the emo-Final Fantasy-villain-reject, Kai Leng, who has no business being in this game.

Shepard’s argument with TIM plays out like it was written by a child, and the characters act as such.  Shepard simply tells TIM he’s wrong and it’s a back and forth of “Nuh-uh!/Uh-huh!” until the moron shoots himself in the head in a pathetic attempt to imitate Saren, the only brilliant antagonist (heck, anti-hero!) to come out of this series.

Y’know?  Perhaps my favorite moment in Mass Effect 3 was when Anderson and Shepard were just… sitting there… at the end.  That moment for me–in its own vacuum–was the most moving.  And it’s completely undone by the stupidity of everything around it–what led up to it and what came after.  The sad thing is most of it was cut as part of what Casey Hudson called “trimming the fat.”

And then we come to the star child, AKA the Catalyst, and the remainder of what the Extended Cut brings to the table… sigh.

So the entire overarching plot of Mass Effect–stop the Reapers–suddenly turns out to be a red herring and the actual (all new) plot is organics versus synthetics.  The reasoning put forth by star kid here is that the created ALWAYS rebel against their creators.  The Reapers where “his solution” to solving this problem.  This comes from an actual concept in science-fiction, (and what some scientists talk about actually happening) known as the Technological Singularity, where the (rough) idea is that machines surpass humanity in intelligence and capability, ultimately making us irrelevant.  The problem is that it is so poorly written into the story that it doesn’t work and uses completely circular logic.

Luckily, a few questions were answered by the Extended Cut here, but the problem largely remains the same.  The Catalyst goes from being this cryptic-spewing-BS-god-like entity in the original ending to an AI created by a progenitor race to police the development of organics and synthetics.  He didn’t create the Reapers himself, but he gave them function, he says.  The circular logic is still there though.  And now we have an Artificial Intelligence acting as judge, jury, and executioner in an affair of synthetics killing organics to keep said organics from being killed by said synthetics… ugh…

If the goal was to prevent development of AI passed a certain point, why the heck would they build the Citadel and Mass Relays to force life into evolving towards a certain path, as Sovereign said back in the first game?  Doesn’t that run counter to what they’re trying to prevent?  Wouldn’t it be better to have no relays or citadel at all?

Furthermore, how do they know that synthetics will “always” rebel?  The Geth not ever wanting war with their Quarian makers disproves the star child’s assertion, and the alliance between the Geth and Quarians disproves this.  Heck, in the first game the Geth you fight were a small faction “deceived” for lack of a better word, and in the final conflict between Geth and Quarians the Reapers tried to help the Geth.  For a race of ancient machine gods that are trying to prevent Singularity, siding with the synthetics doesn’t help their goals.  In addition to the Geth, EDI’s character all by itself disproves the Catalyst’s assertion.

One of the games most powerful themes was strength and unity through diversity.  Different people and different beings from different walks coming together to solve a greater problem: stopping the Reapers.  The game’s narrative flies in the face of the Catalyst.  There is so much evidence we could smack over the head of this stupid thing.  And Shepard doesn’t do it.  Not even in the Extended Cut.  We can’t argue with star kid, only ask three or four questions about his “awesomeness.”

SHEPARD.  IS.  A.  BRICK.

The clarity is nice, for sure, but it doesn’t make it any less stupid, and it sucks we can’t argue when we should be able to.  We can tell the star child to screw off now, and that’s good.  We can shoot at it now, and it reacts, and that’s good, but the writers clearly don’t like the fact that we hate this brat and his false choices–the result is one giant “f*** you!” and we get an insta-fail ending.

Mass Effect 3 constantly likes to beat us over the head with the idea that the Reapers cannot be defeated conventionally but this should not be true.  They are an incredible obstacle to be sure, but if ME2 showed us anything it’s that we have the tools to fight back.  All the writers had to do was pay attention to their own narrative and the friggin’ codex!

Following the Battle of the Citadel, human and turian volunteers conducted a massive three-month survey effort to clear the station’s orbit of debris. Secretly, the turian Office of Technological Reconnaissance “volunteers” were technology recovery specialists salvaging the main weapon of the geth flagship Sovereign, and large amounts of its valuable element zero core.

Contrary to popular belief, Sovereign’s main gun was not a directed energy weapon. Rather, its massive element zero core powered an electromagnetic field suspending a liquid iron-uranium-tungsten alloy that shaped into armor-piercing projectiles when fired. The jet of molten metal, accelerated to a fraction of the speed of light, destroys targets by impact force and irresistible heat.

Only 11 months after the battle, the turians produced the Thanix, their own miniaturized version of Sovereign’s gun. The Thanix can fire reliably every five seconds, rivaling a cruiser’s firepower but mountable on a fighter or frigate.

The Normandy SR2’s javelin missiles can take out a Collector ship after several hits, but better yet the Turian Thanix Cannon described above is based off Reaper weaponry and can take out a Collector ship in two shots.  Imagine how effective that would be against a Reaper!  Better still, it can be mounted on ships as small as fighters.  How come no one bothered to build entire fleets with these things?  We dumped tons of resources on the Crucible, and no one even knew what that thing did.  The galaxy was grasping at straws.  If they’re willing to put money on a big giant deus ex machina device of stupid, then how much more would they be investing in Thanix cannons.  You can put them on fighters, how many times can I say that?  The Alliance and Council could also look at this handheld Reaper weapon which is insta-win waiting to happen right there.  Heck, research the mysterious “Klendagon Weapon,” y’know, that massive gun that killed a Reaper and created the great rift on the planet Klendagon?  Look at Javik’s beam rifle!   We saw visions of Protheans using them against Reaper ships in a ground fight–I don’t know if this was out of desperation or because those rifles really do pack a punch, but it’s worth investigating anyway.  Reverse engineer people!  Oh my goodness!

WRITERS: FRIGGING.  PAY.  ATTENTION.  TO.  YOUR.  NARRATIVE.

Instead, all these things magically don’t exist anymore–not even the Thanix Cannon on the Normandy.  We are forced to rely on the Crucible, what Shamus Young perfectly labeled as the “Ending-o-Tron 3000™.”  That massive “gun” that no one, from its inception, even knew what it did; that different races from every galactic cycle added onto and were able to hide from the Reapers who “never leave a trace”; that was magically sitting in the Mars archives and no one happened to notice until recently… oh how convenient….  Yet for as important as this thing was, no mention is ever made of it in any of the Prothean Beacons or in other records, except for the Beacon in the temple on Thessia, which Asari have supposedly been studying for thousands of years and somehow never found Crucible or (what was then the mysterious) Catalyst plans–heck they’re too stupid to make the connection that ancient carvings of their goddess look exactly like Protheans.

Y’know, from the beginning I was afraid how the Mass Effect trilogy was going to play out.  When you have a hyper-advanced race of living ships that are practically gods in their own right, how do you stop something like that?  I feared BioWare painted themselves into a corner and would have to resort to a “killswitch” resolution.  It turns out I predicted accurately, but I figured it would be disappointing, but “okay.”  I never could have conceived what we got.

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5 Responses to Mass Effect 3’s Ending and Extended Cut, Part 2

  1. theviking says:

    Ya know, I never played these games, and after reading this…I’m kinda glad…

    Like

    • You SHOULD play them, though. The first 2.90 games are absolute masterworks of storytelling and gameplay. Especially in the “Story Driven Shooter/RPG” niche genre.

      Just… brace yourself for the endings, and do your best to pretend they don’t exist.

      Like

    • Ian says:

      I wouldn’t completely agree with Tyler here. The first Mass Effect is a MASTERPIECE. ME2 has a terrible main plot, but excellent characters and side stories. ME3’s plot is solid in contrast to ME2’s overall, but the writing is mostly stupid and the characters are weak. It’s obvious they cut a thousand corners in ME3. Then of course, the ending, even with the extended stuff, ruins the entire series. I would also argue the combat got dumber.

      I now see Mass Effect the same way other people see The Matrix: there was only ever one.

      Like

      • Well, I can agree with you on most points there Ian.

        With the exception of (what to me is the most disappointing thing)…

        Several of the main questlines in ME3 are some of the best I’ve ever played in a game. They are truly awesome. Makes the ending even more bitter to swallow.

        If the entire game had sucked, I may feel differently. But there was brilliance in there, too 😦

        Like

  2. Pingback: Mass Effect 3's Ending, Closing Eulogy | Mythgamer

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