Thursday, 28 June 2012

Does the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut Get It Right?

**************WARNING SPOILERS FOR ME3**************

I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a clever man; I thought I had installed the Extended Cut and played through the ending again, only to discover that nothing was different. It gave me the opportunity to reassess my thoughts on the original ending, with a couple of months contemplation between playthroughs, and compare it to the new conclusion. On my second play-through of the ending I didn't find it as unsatisfying as the first time, though still far from great, maybe because I already knew what was coming and tempered my expectations, or maybe because, though I tried not to be, my originals thoughts were marred by other people's opinions. The original ending lacked the promised scope, didn't fully realise all your choices and was quite frankly nonsensical. The Extended Cut plugs the most obvious plot holes, though don't look too deep as there are still many to be found; rearranges the end of game video sequence for each choice, though some are still repeated; and adds in some more video clips of the repercussions of your choice. Your actions throughout the game still don't feel as though they have a direct enough result; you spend the game collecting a massive army, but you don't really witness your personalised army in the final battle, and it prevents the game from feeling individual to you.
The final chapter in London is the same up to the point where you make one last push to the Citadel.

Completely changing the ending, or incorporating indoctrination theory, would have set a dangerous precedent. Whilst it is important to send a clear message to developers that we will not accept paid DLC for a complete ending, as BioWare seemed to have planned, we cannot get every ending with disagree with changed and should allow developers their artistic integrity. Despite the outcry of fans to change the ending it seems to me that if anyone compromised BioWare's artistic integrity it was EA. Publishers, like EA, are increasingly pushing to squeeze as much money as possible from each customer, rather than creating a quality experience to attract as many customers as possible to their games. As long as they are asking what can be removed from a complete game instead of asking what they can add they are failing to serve their customers. Since KOTOR BioWare games have been a day one purchase for me, but between this fiasco and DA2 I have decided to rethink this policy. If you had asked me just a couple of months ago who my favourite developers are I would have said without a moments hesitation Blizzard, BioWare and Naughty Dog, now I am not so sure.
It seems the characters were as emotionally vested in me as I was in them.

So does the Extended Cut go far enough in changing what was wrong with the ending? I think under the circumstances, yes, but it still makes me weary of BioWare and EA. The Extended Cut offers a superficial bandage to the situation that should give closure to people who have been with the series from the beginning and a satisfying ending to people new to the series. The story is further fleshed out and better justifications and explanations are given, but it still won’t be winning any awards any time soon, and could have been so much better. Some of the theories that people came up with go to show how creative and invested a lot of the audience is, and whilst BioWare could not have incorporated them as it would have no longer been their story, how ready for a more complex, mature and engaging story people are. To me the emotion in the game was just as important as the story, and I think that is something the Extended Cut does get right. For me the best two parts of the final fight are not action set pieces but, firstly, when you talk to your past and present crew members, putting on a brave face as you know this is probably goodbye, and your final farewell to Anderson, the melancholy of his death combined with the perceived view of your imminent victory with one small task left to do. 

So in conclusion I think that the Extended Cut offers a relatively good solution to a bad situation, the ending now supplied might not be great but should at least offer closure. Changing the ending too much could have set a dangerous precedent whereby gamers have too much say in the development of a game, but not complaining and allowing corporate greed to take from the integrity of a game would have been just as dangerous. This about the best outcome we could have asked for.



    Twitter feed (can't find link)
    "Its not that the ending was taken in the wrong direction its that it makes NO SENSE. Ashley was on the Normandy? she [was] with me."
    @masseffect: "Probably a good thing to be cautious of."


    In this clip, you can see that the orange ball (destroy ending) is the one with the highest prize. While the control. synthesis (blue, green) balls are the lowest prize (worst ending). Just Bioware messing with you regarding the ending.


    Ooops, forgot Youtube link.