I freaking love Mass Effect. Or at least, I did. Mass Effect 1 brilliantly married two contrasting gametypes – the run and gun action game and the RPG. It had issues but was largely carried by the engaging stories and locations. The sheer depth of the game is evident through the extensive lore in the game’s codex. All in all, it took several hours of my life.
Mass Effect 2 carried on where the first began but was slightly disappointing to me. The RPG elements were watered down into basic mechanics. The gunplay was much better however and the story continued to shine, even if it never did really advance the overarching plot.
So I approached Mass Effect 3 with caution. Particularly because Bioware’s last release before ME3, Dragon Age 2, was so dire that it worried me about Bioware’s ambitions. Happily, Mass Effect 3 was good. The RPG elements hadn’t returned to ME1’s standards, but they were much improved. Once you passed the slightly tedious introductory level on Earth, you were back to hopping from planet to planet and free to explore, making the game massively enjoyable. Completing the story; discovering galaxies and planets; gathering resources for the final war effort: I quickly decided this was my favourite in the series. Then I got to the ending.
You’ve probably heard about the outcry from the ending even if you haven’t ever touched a Mass Effect. It’s as disappointing as everybody says. I read somewhere before the game’s release that the story for ME3 had been leaked; the outcry apparently leading to Bioware making last minute revisions. Whether this story is true, I have no idea, but it damn sure feels like it is. Without stepping into spoilers, it was rushed. Events happened for no reason; you are shown little outcome of the decisions you’ve made and overall, it just makes no sense. As the closing paragraph to a trilogy renowned for its story, it was as disappointing as they come.
Now Bioware has released the ‘Extended Cut’ version of the ending for free. It’s currently available on Xbox Live Marketplace. I’ve downloaded it, but I’m not entirely sure I can be bothered with it. Is this what we just come to accept in gaming now? “The original ending was bad, so let’s just paper over the cracks with some scenes we should have included anyway”. It’s almost textbook laziness. I’m just amazed that we weren’t actually forced to pay for the DLC; I guess if enough people are heard, you can make a difference.
It just seems to me that the original ending was deemed good enough to be released. This is what Bioware decided was acceptable as the ending to Mass Effect. A rushed DLC with some missing scenes just sounds like the deleted scenes you get with a DVD – they were dropped for a reason. If I felt the ending was bad in the first place, am I going to be pleased with the second, perhaps even third rewrite? Perhaps we should be encouraging this sort of attitude in games companies – acknowledging their mistakes and attempting to fix them, but I feel that the damage has been done here.
Despite this, I probably am going to pick up and play Mass Effect 3 with added fixed ending again, if only to mop up the rest of the achievements on my growing to-do list. I’m just not sure that I can overlook and forget the immense disappointment I felt with the ending only a couple of months ago.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below or tweet me – @colemansa.