Ramblings | Finishing Mass Effect 3 Late

It’s been a long and ardu­ous road for my ver­sion of the Mass Effect hero Com­man­der Shep­ard, but it finally came to a close last night.  I’m not quite sure why I put off fin­ish­ing the game for this long, but it may have ended up being for the best. A huge amount of the extra down­load­able con­tent, per­haps more than it should have been, really enhanced my play-through and left me pretty sat­is­fied with the end­ing where most peo­ple were not.  Join me, or don’t if you haven’t fin­ished this game yet and intend to, as I explore how the end of one of my favorite trilo­gies in gam­ing made me feel and how it might have affected me dif­fer­ently had I fin­ished it back when it first came out. 

BenShepard

As with most games that involve moral choice, I tend to steer in the direc­tion of the choices that I would make per­son­ally.  The Mass Effect games were no dif­fer­ent and thus my Com­man­der Shep­ard leaned heav­ily in the paragon direc­tion.  What can I say, I guess I’m just kind of a pos­i­tive per­son.  Don’t get me wrong, when I felt strongly enough about a sit­u­a­tion, I didn’t hes­i­tate to acti­vate some rene­gade inter­rupts, but for the most part I like being the nice guy.

At the end of Mass Effect 3, I had long since been poi­soned with the knowl­edge of exactly what my choices would be and the con­se­quences of each action.  In all fair­ness, I’m fin­ish­ing the game just short of a year after its release, so this fact didn’t upset me in the least.  After being briefed by my choices when play­ing last night how­ever, I was more torn than I thought I would be.  Know­ing which end­ing peo­ple were call­ing the best, I first thought about choos­ing the destroy option.  It seemed like an easy choice, that’s what I’ve been striv­ing to do the entire time.  The only prob­lem was that, when think­ing a bit more about it, the Com­man­der Shep­ard that I had taken through all three of these games would never make that choice.  It would mean the destruc­tion of all syn­thet­ics and my boy scout of a Shep­ard would never allow that to hap­pen to EDI or the Geth.  I also couldn’t choose syn­the­sis, because that’s a huge choice for the uni­verse that my Shep­ard would never make for everyone.

This left me with only one choice and a knot in my stom­ach.  As has hap­pened sev­eral times before, my char­ac­ter needed to sac­ri­fice him­self in order for every­thing to work out the best way pos­si­ble.  This con­cept is a lit­tle tired, espe­cially in video games, but I was at the very least able to swal­low the result.  After a slow walk up to each sec­tion star­ing at each of the choices for a bit, I finally made my deci­sion and saw the end of the story for my ver­sion of Com­man­der Shepard.

Upon see­ing every­thing the game had to offer, I thought about some of the pieces of DLC that I had pur­chased.  The vex­ing thing is that I really couldn’t imag­ine the game with­out these pieces of the puz­zle.  The From Ashes con­tent, while it doesn’t add ter­ri­bly much in terms of extra mis­sions, intro­duces a char­ac­ter that deserved to be explored.  It seems to me to be ridicu­lous that Javik would not be part of the main game since the fall of the protheans has been a major part of the Mass Effect story through­out the whole series.  He also has quite a few awe­some asides to add dur­ing mis­sions, espe­cially dur­ing the trip to Thessia.

As per­plex­ing as Javik’s pres­ence is from the on-disc mate­r­ial, I am more sur­prised that Leviathan was added con­tent.  I can under­stand want­ing to make sure you have some­thing that makes this stuff rel­e­vant, but this par­tic­u­lar piece of DLC really should have been in the main game.  It down­right explains the ori­gins of the Reapers and makes the end of the game make a whole lot more sense.  Nei­ther of these exclu­sions are game-breaking, but nonethe­less would have detracted from my expe­ri­ence had I missed them.

As far as the extended cut of the game is con­cerned, after I fin­ished the game my curios­ity got the bet­ter of me and I checked out the orig­i­nal end­ing online.  It’s not ter­ri­bly fair of me to com­ment on this ver­sion, hav­ing seen the extended cut just before­hand, but it didn’t offend me a great deal.  If the series had been a movie that had no choices or inter­ac­tions what­so­ever, I would’ve really enjoyed that end­ing to be hon­est.  Con­sid­er­ing those inter­ac­tions did in fact take place, I can under­stand people’s neg­a­tive reac­tion to the cul­mi­na­tion of their actions up to that point.

Over­all, I actu­ally had a pretty good expe­ri­ence with my end­ing of Mass Effect 3.  It’s hard to pin­point why my expe­ri­ence might have been dif­fer­ent enough to evoke that dras­tic a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion from those that played it at release, but I have a few sus­pi­cions.  Either the inclu­sion of the addi­tional con­tent or per­haps my tem­pered expec­ta­tions from what I’d heard through the grapevine are the things that improved my expe­ri­ence over those that came before.  I’m inclined to think that the lat­ter held a bit more sway over my opin­ion, based on my past expe­ri­ences with games like Bionic Com­mando which I had a great time with, but I do believe that both played a crit­i­cal role.

In games, and series for that mat­ter, that we invest a lot of time and energy, some­times it’s hard to let go when the time comes.  Some­times, a series will peak in the mid­dle and set our expec­ta­tions very high for the dra­matic con­clu­sion, which more often than not can lead to a bit of dis­ap­point­ment when it finally comes to an end.  Some of this is a part of us dis­ap­pointed that the expe­ri­ence is over and it’s time to move onto some­thing less famil­iar.  I’ve put my Com­man­der Shep­ard story to bed, but instead of feel­ing sad that his story didn’t end in quite the way I imag­ined when play­ing through Mass Effect 2, I’m just going to look for­ward to the next, brand new, epic adven­ture that steals me away into a new and unknown universe.