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The New Mass Effect 3 Endings: Do they Satisfy, Make Things Worse, or a Wasted Effort?

With the "true" ending to Mass Effect 3 being released this week by Bioware, our staff examines it and gives their opinion... and boy, do they. We were lucky enough to get wildly different views including is Bioware hurting the gaming industry by doing this, was this ending needed, the original ending was terrible, the orignal ending was fine, Bioware needed to do this, and several other opposed opinions. Read our five staff members' statements below and let us know who you agree with the most in the comments! 

Jeffery Dy:
The Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut did exactly what I expected Bioware to do and most importantly, they didn’t significantly change the ending they originally had. Numerous people to this day still misunderstand the whole meaning of this release, which is Bioware clarifying certain things by adding more scenes to the ending because it ended so abruptly. Bioware recommended players to start up a save from the Cerebrus Base attack, but if you just want to skip ahead to Shepard’s big decision, it is best to load up a Citadel restart mission save. There is a bonus scene on the lead up to the sprint to the CItadel, however, but that is the only new thing in the Extended Cut besides the endings.

Your chat with the catalyst before the big decision on the three choices is altered a bit with more dialogue choices. The new dialogue tree opens up more about the results that the choices will make. There is even a new fourth ending if you decide to refuse making the big decision of either controlling the Reapers, destroying them, or merging organics and synthetics together by synthesis.
The ending I decided to roll through for this Extended Cut run was the synthesis ending and I was happy how it turned out to be. It still goes by the normal ending, but the extended scenes show off the after-effects of every race being both organic and synthetic. These scenes in general are altered on which big decision you came up with. For the synthesis ending, EDI narrates the events, which is basically the races together rebuilding the galaxy. If your Mass Effect 2 crewmates survived the events of that game and Mass Effect 3 after doing their sidequests, they will appear in still images as they continue their normal ways. Jack, for example, continues training up new biotic recruits for the Alliance.

The Extended Cut concludes with your crew remembering those who sacrificed their lives through the whole trilogy including Anderson and Shepard. Liara putting Shepard’s name on the Normandy memorial is touching, especially if you developed a relationship with her throughout the game. EDI being emotional during this scene was also memorable for me especially when she hugged Liara. When she narrated her thanks for Shepard, that was also another highlight of my satisfaction for the extended ending. The only disappointing thing of the Extended Cut for me is not much of your other ME3 squadmates get a good amount of screen time other than the memorial scene. We still don’t know what they’re gonna do after the events of the game, other than stay on the Normandy to help out on the rebuilding effort. Despite that, I’m still satisfied how Mass Effect 3’s Extended Cut was done, even though I know it won’t satisfy everyone’s wishes for what they want to see. Bioware clarified a lot of things for me that should've been in the original, but there are still leftover questions for those that want more.

Steven Bednarz:
Bioware really knows how to dig themselves into a hole don’t they? There is no possible way a beloved trilogy that has millions of fans is going to conclude in a fashion that everyone favors. The Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut is problematic similar to the way Bioware created two fan bases with those who enjoy Dragon Age: Origin’s more pen and paper-like gameplay compared to those who now enjoy the Dragon Age II action RPG type gameplay. They have dug themselves into a hole and there is no way to please both audiences. This is the same case for the Mass Effect conclusion; people like the old version and dislike the new ones, vice versa.

How long has it been since Bioware and Mass Effect’s ending has been in the spotlight? Has anyone heard about it for months? I know I haven’t. Unfortunately BioWare buckled under the shit storm of pressure from the fans and decided too quickly to change the ending, instead of attempting to ride out the storm and maintain their artistic integrity. It would appear that the past quite months away from Mass Effect’s ending were just the eye of a storm that has now evolved into a hurricane. Now an entirely new portion of the storm will have to pass. Luckily, Bioware dug that hole to protect themselves from the storm that is about to hit… right?

I for one loved the way the Mass Effect trilogy originally ended; it was ambiguous, metaphorical, bold, and allegoric. All of those things have washed away; the ending is now straightforward, literal, coy, and holds the player’s hand the entire way. Beyond that, some of the new additions are laughable, like the out of place 2D slideshow before the squad puts the “Commander Shepard” name up on the memorial; it turns out Shepard’s first name was Commander all along. What little good that has come from the extended cut is the filling of some plot holes that fans had problems with and the addition of extending the most satisfying ending of them all: the rejection conclusion. So, what's the end result with these changes? Some were good, some were okay, but most of them were dissatisfying. The real question is: are these new additions worthy of losing artistic integrity – the answer, absolutely not.

Andrew Henderson:

What Bioware has achieved with Mass Effect 3 is something no book, movie, TV show, or video game before it has ever achieved and, if for no other reason, this is a significant moment in video game history. While movies have known to rewrite endings and release "directors’ cuts", but never before has a work of art been released to the masses, and then amended, directly due to poor reaction. Fortunately, while the changes and additions were small, they worked to create the necessary amount of closure with the series.

The new “Extended Cut” DLC weaved in new content around the game’s
 original ending. Beginning at the sequence where Shepard and company make a mad dash for the Reaper beam to the Citadel, there are a few new video and dialogue sequences peppered in to further illustrate how Shepard’s squad survives, but the real content kicks in after Shepard activates the Crucible. The mysterious ghostly identity of the “Crucible” is finally explained in a few new dialogue options—it seems the child-like phantom is an AI, programmed several cycles ago. Players can now delve a bit deeper into the “Crucible’s” creation, goals, and motives. Finally, when Shepard is presented with the three options for ending the game, more dialogue options have been added that provide a deeper explanation of each choice.

Of course, the real meat here comes after the player has made his or her selection. This is where the extended cut truly shows off the developer's well-thought-out revisions, as the player is shown how their choice will affect the future of the universe. I chose synthesis both when I originally finished the game and after the DLC, and I was (finally) satisfied at the way the game presented the result of my decision. The “new” ending picked up right after the original one ended (with adding in a few extra scenes here and there) and showed how organics and synthetics now live in peace, having embraced their evolution. This “extended” ending didn’t change anything, nor was it even that long—Shepard still dies and the universe moves on. But, it provided exactly what the original did not, a sufficient way of showing my decision and actions in the game actually made a difference. While I’m sure the ending will receive mixed reviews from fans, I think the developers delivered a satisfying end to their most successful franchise.

Christopher Puenner:
When Mass Effect 3 first came out I eagerly waited at my local Gamestop in order to be one of my first friends to own a copy of one of the most anticipated AAA titles of the year. I then took it back to my dorm room and played almost nonstop until I was completely finished with it. As soon as I was done, I watched the final scenes, respectfully watched the credits, stood up, and walked outside to where my friends were sitting. “Are you finished?” I nodded. “How was it? Did it end well?” I answered: “It was meh”. You’ll hear from many people who can recount the events of the original ending that it was horrible, outlandish, a shame, and embarrassing for the franchise. This is opinion, not fact.

Video Games are an art and have fought for the right to be seen as such for almost a decade now. Every art has its flaws and in most cases those flaws add to the character of the piece, not detract from it. The original ending for Mass Effect 3 was its quirk, its “What a twist” moment that left you sputtering as the credits rolled. As a huge franchise with an enormous fan base, thoughts about the ending spread like wildfire throughout the internet and Bioware was bombarded with endless complaints and sob stories about how they “ruined” the story.

So, being the stand-up company that Bioware is, they developed extended versions of these endings and threw in an additional Refusal option to spice things up. This was a smart move right? I’m afraid it isn’t at all. While the extended endings are better and explain much more about the events after the final decision, we are left with a horrifying discovery; we can strong-arm a company into changing its game for us. This is wrong and should never have happened. The extended ending idea puts all credibility behind video games being art at risk by this choice motivated solely on the desire to please everyone. Let’s hope this isn’t any indication on where the industry is heading.

Vincent Hammett:
I hated the original ending for this game. While I would still say everything before you run to the beam is great and it's still my top game of this year... everything after that point was half-assed, sloppy, and something’s were downright dumb. How exactly do my two crew members magically make it back to the Normandy perfectly fine when they were running behind Shepard before he got deep fried? Why is Joker abandoning Shepard and running away? Why does the Normandy crash during every ending when that should just happen for the red one? There are several other notable mistakes that Bioware made, that weren't edgy, cool, ambigous, or smart... it was just sloppy writing. Luckily, the DLC does fix the vast majority of those many simple mistakes.

I actually respect Bioware more for owning up to their mistakes and fixing what was wrong. If people were pissed because Shepard died or some other artistic choice that Bioware made and they "caved in" to gamers' demands, then I would look at them with less respect. However, the things they changed weren't artistic choices, they their fixed bad writing choices. The original ending was so bad people came up with and chose to believe the indoctrination theory. When your ending is so random, abrupt, and sloppy that people actually make themselves believe it wasn't real, but some trick by the enemy, then you should know there are some major problems that need to be fixed.

I applaud Bioware for trying to fix their mistakes and while this ending isn't flawless, it's the best we were ever going to get without them completely changing the whole thing. I chose the control (blue) ending, but I've seen every ending, and overall I am satisfied with how this ends Shepard's journey. The biggest current problem for me is that the endings (now four) are so wildly different, it still seems as if Bioware has painted themselves into a corner where they can only do prequels. We'll have to wait and see how Bioware responds going forward, but a game set after ME3 in this universe seems even harder to pull off now.


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