I delete data like you on the way to real let-downs
April 3, 2012
Originally I had typed a 4,000 word draft of this review. I stopped and deleted it all after I realized that I was tackling it like it was any other review. The only problem that it isn’t. It’s not like other games where it kept me guessing for most of the time on whether or not the overall sensation would be worth my time and money. No, not in the slightest. It came to me that Mass Effect 3 wasn’t just some other game–it was a game I had been waiting for. Ever since Mass Effect first graced its presence back in 2007, I had been intrigued by the shooter with RPG elements that focused more on the dialogue than anything else. And, what’s more, it was a BioWare title, a developer I held in high regard for being one of the last developers in which I felt like I hadn’t been betrayed by. Please note the past tense.
I never really knew what I was going to expect out of the Mass Effect series. When I first played the first title I was surprisingly pleased. Here was a game that brought me exactly what I was looking for; choices. I had been so sick and tired of looking at a character that made stupid choices and let the enemy get the better of him all the time. I’ve always wanted to be the one in control of the character and not simply just standing on the sidelines hoping that the writer for the game actually put in the effort to make him something other than the Marty Stu that says things you would never say in your lifetime. Of course the second title sort of through that out the window when we were shoe-horned with working with ultra-radical terrorists that made the Nazi horror science experiments look like seventh grade chemistry.
Still they kept me interested with their promises that the third title would be vastly influenced by the choices you made in the first and second game. Some of the smallest choices would hinge heavily on whether who lived and who died. All of the sudden you care about completing all those side objectives to make sure Captain Kirahe survives the assault on Virmire or whether or not you care to make sure Jack doesn’t die in the suicide mission. This was it. All bets were off. The chickens had come home to roost and I was ready to pay the piper for just one more idiom. Embarrassingly enough I would have to wait two weeks after the game released before I would get the chance to play it.
I had become entranced, you see, by this entire series and its humongous undertaking to ensure that every choice you made had a unique repercussion in the last game. Because of this, I went crazy. I ran through multiple Shepards through both games. A “vanilla” Shepard (sort of a “What Would Shepard Do” save), a pure Paragon Shepard, a pure Renegade Shepard, and a neutral Shepard. Hell, I even made a Shepard so that he would only romance Tali. And STILL it was not enough. I chose none of these characters for my run on Mass Effect 3. Instead I did something even crazier and fired up both games again to run yet another Shepard through the gauntlet (I dubbed him “mostly Paragon with a dash of Renegade”). I wanted the experience of the previous games fresh in my mind. I wanted to know exactly everything that the third game was talking about. I even kept a notepad next to me where I jotted down moments from the previous two games that I found particularly well done. I was hoping the third game could bring back that same sensation I felt when the Alliance fleet came to the rescue to retake the Citadel. The musical score, the scene cuts, the dramatic tone inflected on every voice actor. It was perfect.
Mass Effect 3 did not disappoint me at first. I went through the game at an alarming rate, building up excitement as I viewed a list of allies that was running longer than the Doctor Who series. Yes, I thought. This is it. When it comes, it will be legendary. Not only will there be the Council races at my side (which we have seen in action already), but we’ll also see the Volus fleet, the Batarian fleet, the combined forces of what’s left of the merc bands; Elcor ground troops with chain guns on their back. The sort of stuff that says, “Yes, this is exactly what I was expecting and it was delivered”. The Quarians and the Geth fighting on the same side, the Krogan cured of the Genophage, the Rachni swarming in to the rescue. Ballads would not due justice to the reality of it all. Hell, even the Hanar were coming along for the fight. All bets were off. Everyone has committed everything. All that sucking up to the aliens in the previous games, every move that felt like a total mistake, the backwards-personality of becoming Legion’s friend, everything–it was finally going to pay off.
But that moment never came. Other than a short quip of Asari, Turian, and Quarian pilots, nothing discernible was recognized. I spent 31 hours scanning planets looking for Elcor and Volus allies only to see that they do not make an appearance. Nothing truly interesting happens. You do not see the sight of a galactic flotilla that would send a chill down a Reaper’s spine. You don’t even see this on the ground on Earth. Notably absent from every engagement is anything that isn’t human. The battle isn’t shaped any differently if you just showed up with a couple of allies instead of the entire galaxy. There are no heart-felt moments of your allies making heroic sacrifices. There are no “get sum” moments. There are no “taking fire” moments. It’s a sham, a wash. I had put in a combined total of over 90 hours from all three games for this sort of treatment? Surely the ending must make up for this, right? It would set everything straight.
In my time of limbo of avoiding to play the game for two weeks, I took precautions to avoid anything that involved a discussion about Mass Effect 3. I avoided r/ gaming like the plague. Nope, can’t browse any community forums–too many “Snape kills Dumbledore” jerks out there to count. I cut myself off from a lot of media, and even then it was difficult to not catch glimpses every now and then. Rock Paper Shotgun kept talking about Mass Effect 3’s ending and what’s wrong withokaybrowsetoanotherpage. And that’s how that played out for two weeks. I kept ignoring what I was gauging as a dissapointment in the ending. “It’s okay”, I would tell myself. “A lot of people are upset with most video game endings. It’s probably just unfounded discordance.”
I stomached an extra five minutes each time just to run through each ending. Becoming more and more disappointed as they played on. “No”, I shook my head at first. “I must’ve chosen the wrong ending. It can’t end this way.” But it does. And what turned into denial soon set into an utmost seething of utter disappointment. Try to weigh my words when I say I was more disappointed with Mass Effect 3 than I was with Hellgate: London. At least with Hellgate I knew the game sucked from the start. Mass Effect 3 tricks you. It runs with a great amount of writing for twenty-nine hours and then beats you with a garden hose for the last two. There’s no greater shame than to be led on for such a long time, through the entire series, just for the utmost utter tripe of a tri-color ending that looked like it belonged in a Disney movie. To be treated to an ending that amounted to Shepard dying no matter what and so does everyone else in the galaxy (but the Normandy miraculously outruns the mass relay blast just so the crew can repopulate some alien world to tell the story of “the Shepard”) after being promised that your actions throughout the series would heavily influence the ending makes me sick to my stomach. It’s the coup de grâce to a fanbase that believed BioWare was actually good at telling stories.
Thankfully I was not alone in this sentiment. Once the game was over and done with I came out of my practiced abstinence and rolled in the filth that was the Internet rage machine. And I was pleased to find that it wasn’t just a random quip or two from here and there, but everyone was talking about it. Everyone. There were a number of YouTube videos blasting it to hell, chopping up clips of all three endings and running them together, showing that the only thing that was different was the color tint. Probably the biggest thing to grace this entire fiasco was a fund drive that raised awareness to the ending of Mass Effect 3, known as “RetakeMassEffect“–they’ve raised $80,310. People are filing FTC complaints against EA as well. Blizzard even takes a jab at BioWare with their April Fool’s shenanigans, claiming how Supply Depot 2 has “multiple endings, each influenced by your choices and color-coded for your convenience! (Further epic endings planned for post release as downloadable content.)” Someone even made a twenty-minute-long YouTube conspiracy theory video on how the ending doesn’t suck if you force yourself to believe some nonsense. Make no mistake, people. BioWare was not trying to be clever about the ending–they just clearly had no idea what to do and thought a hamfisted twist would put everyone to ease because, “Hurrah, DLC! And grindy multiplayer!”
BioWare is utterly befuddled by the feedback. “But we made so much money”, Muzyka says. “I don’t understand why people don’t likey our game. We makes the monies and lots of it. That means everyone likie it.” Not once does he apologize for the trite that his writing team pulled, not once does he promise that he will make amends or seek justice for this clear injustice. Nope. Rather his crowning moment of action is, “Welp, golly gee, don’t you worry! We plan to sell you a better ending with upcoming DLC!” Now I see why BioWare and Bethesda have traded employees in the past and get along so well–they both have the same sort of underhanded business practices.
I don’t know why I’m surprised, really. Ever since the fiasco that was Dragon Effect 2 I had lost a lot of faith in BioWare. More so when they didn’t even bat an eyelash with the day-one DLC From Ashes. “What wrong?” BioWare asked innocently. “We likey the money. Why you surprised? We would sell half the game as DLC if we could get away with it.”
As far as I’m concerned, I’m done. Done with BioWare, done with anything they have to promise for the future. I have wasted days of my time on the series to be so incredibly let down that it’s ridiculous. Five years down the tube. Thousands upon thousands of words defending, praising, and reviewing the series…all of it for nothing. I’ve deleted Mass Effect 3. I have no intention of running through it with any other characters. There’s no reason to. BioWare has managed to utterly destroy a good series and, what’s more, they don’t even see it that way. They will hail this as a complete success and they will simply continue to nickel-and-dime folks for DLC. I have chucked BioWare into the Rejects bin. They reek of the taint of EA. And I want nothing to do with a team of people who think the utter garbage they pushed out between their ass cheeks was anything but the very literal imagery of this metaphor. I leave you with a slew of images from Reddit that further punches BioWarEA in the nuts for this injustice.