Thursday, March 29, 2012

Another blogger blogging about Mass Effect 3's ending.

I didn't intend on writing a reaction post to ME3's ending. I don't think anyone does - it just kind of sneak up on you until you can't not write about it. I'm going to say that there are spoilers ahead if you hadn't have guessed that by this point. So if you don't want to be spoiled about the game's ending, don't read on.

This isn't going to be a terribly long post. I think many others have expressed their disappointment with the ending of the game in much more depth and intelligence than I could muster. I didn't hate the ending when I first experienced it. I still don't hate it now. I also didn't love it. I really didn't feel anything towards it, which, considering how much I love the series as a whole, is really my big personal disappointment when it comes to the ending.

Now that I have the disclaimer out of the way, I'll get to the point of why I chose to write about ME3's ending. It took me a week or two to digest my reaction and ultimately come around to realize what ending I wanted to see in the game. If you're not familiar with the particulars of the ending, first, go play the game and experience it for yourself. The ride is worth the milquetoast ending, that's for sure. Second, ultimately you're faced with three choices - red, green, and blue. I didn't have a problem with the choice aspect of it - while some others do (for example, they wish there were more choices to choose from) - my paragon Shep took the only option he could see open to him and went green.

Turns out, and this is the real problem I had with the game's ending, it didn't really matter which option you chose. All three colors (and what they meant in the world of the game) give you essentially the same boring, unsatisfyingly-sparse ending. By the time you make it to the citadel, it just feels like you're going through the motions looking back on the ending.

Here's what I propose to change the ending, and what I realize afterward that would have really made the game just awesome for me. Keep the starchild, I don't really care about that much. Give me the three choices, as I mentioned above, that's fine by me too. Although I wouldn't mind seeing different choices from the three presented, I think making a hard choice in a crappy situation is just fine and in-line with the rest of the game.

A New Ending for the Mass Effect trilogy

What you need to do to make the ending satisfying is to change the use of the crucible - the super-magical-alien-super-weapon-from-beyond-space-and-time - depending on the color chosen by the player. For the renegade/red option you can have the crucible boost the offensive power of all organic lifeforms near a mass relay. For the paragon/blue option you can have the crucible boost the defensive power of all organic lifeforms near a mass relay. For the third/green option you can have the crucible severely weaken all synthetic life near a mass relay.

Don't stop there though. After all, we know Marauder Shields, while a truly deep and rich final boss battle, was not a final challenge for the great galactic Sam Shepard (yeah, that's my guy's name, wanna make something of it?). See, the crucible is a great weapon, but much like Jack's group of biotic students, weapons can be used in many different ways. Once Shepard has made his/her decision, that's when the final battle really begins.

See, by the time you make it to the citadel from Earth, the combined fleets and armies are just doing down-right terribly. Getting the crucible to fire was way more difficult than anyone ever hoped it would be. It's taken much longer and way more resources to get even a single soldier there to fire it than was originally planned for. The fleets are scrambled and the armies are leaderless and hopelessly doomed to becoming zombie robots.

Then the crucible blows, and depending on which option you chose, you've given organic life's chance in the galaxy a real shot in the arm. It's just enough to even the odds to 50/50 chance of survival. Now you have to get down to it and fight an actual reaper. The battle is representative of all the battles taking place post-crucible firing. Of course it's gotta be big, that's why you're fighting Harbinger. The citadel poops you right out back to the spot where ole' Harby almost killed you originally.

Even better, most of your squad mates survived to this point (and just like at the end of Mass Effect 2, some may have died depending on how you played the rest of ME3). What could be cooler than that? Oh I don't know, how about every surviving member of your crews from all three games are there fighting by your side to destroy Harbinger? Instead of a three man squad, you could have upwards of 12 or 15 all working with you. Just like at the end of ME2, you assign certain members to certain tasks, but in ME3, you assign them to things like holding the left flank or focusing on taking out banshees. Of course all this without a single medigel. Someone dies in this fight, and that's it, there's no coming back.

The boss fight would be unprecedented in size and scale. You'd have to use tactics, and everyone your character has relied upon in the past is there to see it out until the end. It may be more predictable, cliche, and remind you of the ending of ME2, but that's why I'd prefer it. I liked the ending of ME2. Once the battle is done, you get little cutscenes with each of the surviving party members five years in the future and everything's golden! I don't need Shepard to die in the end (I'm not against bittersweet, but I don't need his/her death either). If you complete the game, you've beaten the Reapers, and you get the reward of seeing what the result of that is to the people closest to you. Give me a series of endings like in the movie version of the Return of the King, and I couldn't be happier.

That's my two cents.

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