- June 20th, 2012
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PART 2: LOST…IN SPAAAAAACE, OR LET’S MAKE AN INDEPENDENCE CONTACT DEAL DAY (BECAUSE FUCK YOU)
I knew it was coming, the entire internet warned me, but I did not heed their cries, and now I am a lesser man for it. I will likely never play any of the MASS EFFECT games again. Like the Lost TV show, the finale ruined the rest of it. It was the worst ending to any RPG I have ever played and I am including KOTOR2 because even though that was an unfinished hack job at least I got to win. I don’t know what I did in MASS EFFECT 3 aside from turn the Milky Way into a bunch of abandoned hobo robots. Fortunately I picked what was behind Door #2 and Khan fired the Genesis probe at Earth and now Joker and EDI can have sex and spawn the new race among the oleanders and shit. Adam and EDI. A ha. A hahahaha. Ha.
I could go on, I dunno, until my ragged demi-corpse collapses in a heap of callow flesh stretched over chittering bones like a folding circus tent in Hell, my death rattle powering my fingers to bang out one last FUCK YOU BIOWARE but there’s not much point anymore. Unless the upcoming DLC is called PSYCHE and you get to replay the ending all over again and it is completely different and not obviously written by two guys at 4AM on the embarrassing end of a caffeine binge, that is. And it won’t be. No way Bioware would cop to fucking things up that big nor spend the time necessary to make it right. We paid our dime and took our chances, as they say. Also, Buzz Aldrin. Who knew Jessica Chobot would be only the second most annoying cameo in the game?
The game was pretty well fucked before the ending though, you ask me. The ironic part about the ending was that it was so awful that it made me realize how much I cared about the story, because I sure as shit didn’t feel like I did while playing the last 1/3 or so of the game. You just can’t dump a bucket of cool epic gaming moments into a swimming pool of filler and expect players to be held fast until the end. I don’t care how good the multiplayer is, don’t connect it to the single player part. Don’t make me collect dozens of generic war assets, make me collect about 10 or 12 and make them mean something. Make it like ME2 except it is the Quarian fleet and the Geth fleet as opposed to just Tali and just Legion. You get my drift. And shorten the game so the epic bits can have a chance to gain some momentum. And try to do one better than Roland Emmerich with Independence Day. It’s neat setting up a neigh-unstoppable foe and all, but don’t just shrug your shoulders and realize nope, the good guys actually can’t plausibly win this fight and bullshit something up. At least the good guys won in ID4. In ME3 we got the ending of Contact. The ending of Contact.
The game did have some great moments, too. The female Krogan. Curing the genophage. Taking down a Reaper with the mother of all Thresher Maws. Having sex. Shooting skeet with Garrus in the Citadel. Mordin being a stone cold boss. Catching Garrus and Tali making out in the engine room of the Normandy. Good stuff.
But all of it is 10 square feet of paint spread over a 100 square foot floor and Bioware still manages to end up in a corner on the other side of the room from the door. Man I don’t even mind that there were all kinds of devastation and mayhem and Shepard sacrificing himself. All of that makes sense to me. When I was running towards the Reaper Beam of Plot Contrivance I was like AW YISS THIS IS THE SHIT, IS THAT A TEAR IN MY EYE, TIME TO GO OUT LIKE A BOSS, WHAT WERE ALL THOSE WHINEY BITCHES COMPLAINING ABOU-
Oh yeah, OK, yeah. NOW HERE’S BILLY FROM THE FAMILY CIRCUS WITH OUR EXPOSITION.
I AM THEM PRETENDING TO BE HIM CONTROLLING HIM CONTROLLING YOU SO I AS YOU CAN SHOOT HIM AND ME (AS HIM). OH JUST PICK A COLOR ALREADY.
Some of you may be too young to recall, but Bioware’s first and still best RPG franchise was BALDUR’S GATE. It had for all intents and purposes three iterations (BG1, BG2 and Throne of Bhaal which was marketed as an expansion to BG2 but it had so much content that it really was a true sequel) and the series genuinely played like an epic fantasy saga. Your character could go from a level 1 nerd at the start of BG1, carry over to BG2 directly (minus equipment) and directly on to ToB. At the end of each game was the obligatory big boss fight, but they were pretty fun and challenging and eminently winnable with obvious victory conditions (you kill the bad guy to win, period). In a clever twist you are able to recruit the boss from BG1, Sarevok, to fight alongside you in ToB. Yes, those were simpler gaming times but it still felt right. The game system stayed true to its AD&D RPG roots and just improved on the little things to make it an overall better gaming experience.
Contrast that to the MASS EFFECT games. A shocking overhaul to – many would say jettisoning of – the RPG elements after the first game to focus more on the visceral feel of combat. Exchanging mediocre minigames and side quests for even worse ones, then essentially keeping those terrible aspects alive in the third game despite literally nobody liking them. Adding a multiplayer element, which I’m sorry I don’t care how great it is it still makes no sense. And of course the ending to the entire thing, a complete travesty and failure that only dim minds allow themselves to appreciate. But there’s a certain irony to the outrage, as I will show you.
Read this plot synopsis of the MASS EFFECT trilogy (via wikipedia):
The first game in the trilogy centers around a player-created character named Commander Shepard and his/her mission to save the galaxy from a race of mechanical beings known as the Reapers, and its followers, including Saren Arterius. The first game sees Shepard facing Sovereign, a Reaper left as a vanguard, who plans to allow the Reaper fleet currently hibernating in extra-galactic dark space to invade the Milky Way, and destroy all sapient organic life, continuing a mysterious cycle of destruction. The second game takes place two years later, and sees Shepard battling the Collectors, an alien race abducting entire human colonies in a plan to help the Reapers return to the Milky Way. The third and final game centers on the final battle against the Reapers.
Did you catch that? Do you see? SHEPARD FAILS IN ALL THREE GODDAMNED GAMES. Stop Saren so the Reapers don’t invade (the Reapers invade). Stop the Collectors so the Reapers don’t invade (the Reapers invade). Stop the Reapers from erasing all the unique and precious sentient life forms in the known universe (Shepard merges humanoid and synthetic life thus ending all unique forms of life, or Shepard destroys all synthetic life which as it turns out is a sizable portion of the galaxy’s life forms, or Shepard allegedly controls synthetic life but this is poorly detailed in the final moments so who gives a rusty fuck). Now you might be compelled to argue that Shepard can win in the end of the third game but you would have to ignore that at the end of the ME2 DLC, Arrival, Shepard blows up a mass relay and it causes destruction on astronomical scale never before seen nor imagined. No matter what ending is chosen for ME3, all the mass relays are destroyed causing untold devastation as well as sending who knows how many worlds back into a pre-interstellar-flight ghetto. HOBO ROBOTS. BUT THE REAPERS ARE UNDER CONTROL (MAYBE). Blech. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
Now, I will mention one thing. Yes, it is possible for Shepard to survive. With maximum Galactic Readiness (ugh), if one chooses to destroy the Reapers (and all synthetic life). Actually, max GR (ugh) isn’t required if Paragon dialogue options are used in every face to face dialogue with TIM during the game (Mars, Thessia, Chronos Station and of course the Citadel), with a relatively high GR however. After Shepard destroys all robots and the full cinematic plays, a brief cinematic of a shadowy figure in N7 armor lying amidst some rubble suddenly moves and gasps for air (then Buzz “-kill” Aldrin ruins the moment completely).
But guess what? Remember when the developers said point-blank that multi-player would NOT be required to get the best ending in the game, just War Asset accumulation? They lied.
Observe (via Mass Effect’s wiki page):
According to data found within the game, the total War Assets score is 8370. Howeverm this number is unattainable… [as it would] require impossible feats such as both Kaidan and Ashley surviving or both saving and sacrificing the council. Currently the highest obtainable War Assets is about 7700, half of which is…[below] the needed 4000 to unlock all possible endings. This may change in the future as more DLC which may [or may not -Bill] contribute War Assets, is released.
That’s right single player chumps (like me), you have NO SHOT of getting the best ending of the game as of today or anytime earlier without playing multiplayer. And if you are reading this and realized you did play multiplayer and you could have gotten the best ending, it’s likely too late because the modifier for MP degrades over time and AAAAAAAARRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHH
Of course those options are hidden in Investigate side-trees so it’s easy to miss them. Maxing Paragon means nothing for the final dialogue. Let me repeat that. HAVING A HIGH OR MAXED PARAGON DOES NOT HELP WITH THE FINAL DIALOGUE. They will appear as long as you made the correct Paragon choices in conversations with TIM only. This might be a backhanded gesture of goodwill because achieving 100% paragon requires one to quite simply do absolutely every single Paragon option and absolutely zero Renegade options, because both Paragon and Renegade points accrue on the same scale and reflect as percentages. So, if you chose one Renegade option or interrupt, you cannot get higher than a 99% Paragon because 1% will be that one measly time you picked Renegade. Yes, that is the exact opposite of how it worked in ME2, fuck you that’s why. What does max paragon get you? An achievement I presume, more than you got in ME2 if I recall.
I have the distinct feeling that it will be impossible for me to think or speak about MASS EFFECT 3 or the franchise in general now without prefacing my thought with AND ANOTHER THING… I am busting at the seams with another things. They emanate from my very being like ketones from an alcoholic diabetic, noxious and fruity, and I can’t stop it. The insulin injection of disbelief suspension fails me.
Why didn’t The Illusive Man control Shepard from the beginning or at any other time during the events in ME3? If the Reapers can read Shepard’s mind well enough to use Billy as their avatar, why didn’t they realize Shepard could/would kill them all? Why didn’t all the races put a bunch of people in hiding like the Protheans? If this is all made-up bullshit anyway, why do the Geth, Quarians and EDI all have to die with the Reapers? Why would Bioware destroy one of the only things about their original IP that made it interesting and semi-unique, the mass relays? What the fuck was the point of ME2 aside from meeting Mordin? Why would Bioware think having the 3 endings be nearly identical aside from a palette and minor art asset swap was a great idea? Why is anyone surprised that Bioware can’t write good endings to their games? Have they ever?
This was supposed to be shorter and a lot funnier, with a silly top ten and some clever jabs at the Portal levels, the hilariously absent Save function on Earth, the exceptionally stupid Temple of Asari Doom and really guys, a space ninja but I don’t have the heart. It’s hard to go off on a I-hate-ya-cuz-I-love-ya rant about a game when your final memory of it is a homonculus of how much you loved the game running down a long hallway and slamming into a light pole with a comical KA-WHANG sound, its arms and legs flung forward Scooby-Doo style. MASS EFFECT 3: ZOINKS.
If Bioware didn’t give a shit about me (or you, or the millions of people who bought all three games) enough to give its finest franchise an ending that befits it, why should I expend any special effort on commenting about it? The answer to that question is the same answer for all the players wondering what the ending – any of the endings – was about. No reason whatsoever at all.
AND ANOTHER THING, IF SHEPARD CAN LIVE WHY DOES HE EVEN GET TO LIVE WHEN HE’S CYBERNETIC AND ALL OTHER CYBERNETIC LIFE WAS DESTROYED ARRRRGHHHHH I AM TEARING UP MY LIFE-SIZED PICTURE OF CASEY HUDSON SOAKING IT IN BITTER TEARS OF MY DEJECTION AND CHEAP SCOTCH