Mass Effect 3 Screenshot

A copious amount of blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids have already been spilled over Mass Effect 3′s (ME3) ending. Several of the first few Google results concern the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction in some way, be it in the form of an online petition or a silly FTC complaint. The laser-like focus on the ending is a damn dirty shame, because outside of those five minutes at the very end of the game and a shaky first hour or so, ME3 is about as good a series finale as I could have hoped for.

Spoiler Alert

ME3 gave me extremely gratifying conclusions to pretty much all of the lingering conflicts spanning the series. That's why I find it odd that so many of the complaints center around the lack of "closure". Almost every major character & race gets their arc tied up in a nice little bow-a thrilling, sometimes touching, and often gut wrenching bow. On top of that, there is a ton of NPC to NPC interaction that was sorely lacking in the previous games (the Garrus-Wrex banter that I've wanted since ME1 finally came about), providing that extra layer of depth that ME1 and ME2 never could quite attain.

ME3 is a wonderful thematic success as well. Shepard's desperation and weariness is almost palpable, and the entire galaxy feels blanketed in a crushing sense of dread. For example, this sense of urgency is put to excellent use during the Quarrian Fleet segment. The sheer madness of the Admirals' plans for war with the Geth ("Does NOBODY care about the all-powerful robots that are killing everything!?!?!") had me almost breaking my mouse on the Renegade interrupt to sock Han'Gerrel and throw his stupid ass off the Normandy. Thus, the beautiful reconciliation of the Geth and Quarrians (not to mention Legion's death) carried so much dramatic weight that I still get goosebumps watching videos of it. The game is filled with moments like this (with the Tuchanka mission also deserving recognition), making it an emotional roller coaster in the purest possible sense.

As for the ending…this is probably the part where I'm expected to launch into a full-on tirade about how it's awful and painful and ruins the game. I won't be doing that. Don't get me wrong, I didn't care for it. I certainly won't try and defend it in any substantive way, though some are valiantly doing so against the tide of internet hate. While I think I understand what they were trying to do there, it suffers from a gross lack of exposition. Still, I refuse to write off the game on the basis of those final five minutes, simply because it is only five minutes. I stated on Twitter right before I finished the game that it would have to make my computer explode to erase all the warm, fuzzy feelings I had already experienced. It did not do that.

That said, I'm of two minds to a certain degree on whether BioWare should retcon the ending a la Fallout 3 and Portal. On one hand, artists are by no means obligated to tailor their work to suit the tastes of the audience. If George Lucas wants to go back and alter the original Star Wars films or make terrible prequels, he can do that. If it's bad, then by all means be as harshly critical as is warranted, but don't try to say he's in the wrong or "ruining" anything from the original films. On the other hand, if BioWare saw fit to add an appropriate level of exposition to that final sequence, I certainly wouldn't mind.

In any case, I got 90% of what I wanted from Mass Effect 3. Almost every major plot thread was addressed in a satisfying way and the characters that I wanted to see more of got their screen time. By the time Illusive Man was dying and the magic space elevator or whatever took me to meet the Star Child, I was already pretty happy, and nothing can undo that. Not even inexplicable multicolored explosions.


Richard Naik

Richard Naik

Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Richard received his first console (the NES) at the age of six, and from that point on games have been an integral part of his life, whether it's been frittering summers away with the likes of Mario, Mega Man, and the Zerg or partaking in marathon sessions of Halo, Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead. After being a longtime reader of GameCritics, Richard joined the staff in March of 2009, and over the years Richard grew into the more prominent role of part-time podcast host.

In 2016, he spearheaded a complete rebuild of the GameCritics.com website, earning him the title of Chief Engineer.

His gaming interests are fairly eclectic, ranging from 2D platformers to old-school-style adventure games to RPGs to first-person shooters. So in other words, he’ll play pretty much anything.
Richard Naik

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3 Comments on "Mass Effect 3: A thing that happened"

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Anonymous
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I agree to most of your comments. The FTC complaint is easily the dumbest thing I’ve heard in some time. All the same I’ve been a serious fan of the series for years, and I see the ending as an insult to the rest of the series. Outside of the last 5 minutes, the 3rd installment was excellent, but essentially that ending destroyed any future for the series, and bringing a ‘spiritual’ or godlike character into a series that has always focused on a physical response to a physical problem is rediculous. Sure some are being too angry about it,… Read more »
kevlarcardhouse
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I think I mostly stand with the OP in that while I understood the overall concept that they were going for but felt that they messed up the execution. However, the insane amount of vitriol online about it is quite shocking, with people claiming it retroactively ruins the entire trilogy for them, and heavily exaggerating it’s faults. (Some of the things being called “plot holes”, I don’t know how you can say without being intentionally disingenuous.) I feel like there has been a fever pitch of extreme negativity around BioWare for a while, though. Some of it may be justified… Read more »
Li-Ion
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Well said! I actually like the ending. It might not be perfect, but it reminded me of some great movies that also ended without spoon-feeding everything that happened. It made me think after the credits rolled, which is something rarely any games have managed. I can get why people might be disappointed by the ending. However: the sheer ferocity of the attacks towards Bioware and their employees is still puzzling me. And a FTC complaint? Really? To whoever did that I can only say: get a life. If that’s the biggest disappointment you ever had you can consider yourself fortunate.… Read more »
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