Why Do You Hate Mass Effect 3?

Kevin examines how Mass Effect 3 has become the latest game to shoulder the burden of fan discontent.

When is a game not just a game anymore?

As games have become more present in mainstream culture, and as they have taken on elements of other forms of art and entertainment, they have become targets of admiration and ire. It has been somewhat of a rite of passage for the medium, I think: by gaining larger and larger audiences, the industry becomes a victim of its own success. We're not concerned just with how good the games are--we contextualize them. They become symbols of moral philosophies, business practices, and social trends. For many gamers, "Call of Duty" no longer represents a series of first-person shooters. Instead, for right or for wrong, those very words represent cookie-cutter sequel development, extreme linearity, and tremendous financial success. "World of Warcraft" isn't just a popular online role-playing game: it's the watering down of an entire genre to appeal to the masses.

World of Warcraft: Not just a game, but a symbol of homogenization.

And now Mass Effect 3 has become more than just a game--it has become a social touchstone. In spite of the game's overall excellent quality, Metacritic users haven't been so kind to it; the Xbox 360 version of the game has a 5.0 average reader score as I write this. Many readers have well-formed thoughts to share. Many others have little to say about the game, and a lot more to say about the business and social climate in which it was created. So what does Mass Effect 3 symbolize beyond "role-playing action game?" Based on Metacritic reader reviews, the associations are loud and unmistakable.

Association 1: Homosexuality

How telling that one of the first messages I received on Twitter after I linked to my Mass Effect 3 review was about how I "loved fag**t n***ers." (As a male Shepard, you can romance Cortez, a man of color.) For the first time in the series, a male Shepard can conduct a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender. As a gay man, I'm disheartened by the homophobia that has seeped out around Mass Effect 3, though it's not the first time a BioWare game has touched this nerve. Nevertheless, BioWare has gone out of its way to depict its characters as actual people. Actual people have different skin colors and moral systems. They are honest, or duplicitous, or perhaps both. They are cruel, or not, or somewhere in between. And sometimes, they're gay.

People enjoy hating large corporations and the games-as-products philosophies they stand for.

We've written before about the subject of homosexuality in games, and specifically in Mass Effect 3. The recent crude but vocal reactions are fascinating and heartbreaking, in part because the same subject was once a cause for unity. When the original Mass Effect was released, the female Shepard-on-Asari (lesbian) romance caught the eye of the mainstream media. Seeing a beloved game attacked by the press caused gamers at large to come to BioWare's defense. The tune hasn't fully changed now, but it is more discordant. I wonder if there is a gender distinction here. Does the young, vocal male audience support female-on-female romance, but not male homosexuality? There's an audience that resents BioWare's inclusiveness, and this is where players reflects social attitudes at large.

There's little chance my words, or yours, will persuade the guy who told me that I love "fag**t n***ers" to be less heartless. What I hope I can do is to persuade you to speak out if you've been silent. I quote from one of my favorite blogs, Tom & Lorenzo:

"It's society that needs to change its attitudes toward gays, from the top down. And when the majority of people are righteously angered by any attempts to dehumanize gays or treat them as inferior--and more importantly, moved to act on that anger, rather than sitting at their computers and shaking their heads over it--then anti-gay [sentiment] will practically evaporate."

Association 2: Questionable Business Practices

Release-day downloadable content, such as that released alongside Mass Effect 3, is a contentious subject, particularly when the content is on the disc and must be unlocked with a downloadable code. Gamers see it as an attempt to charge us for something that should have been in the final product to begin with. They see it as a sign that development resources were squandered on a side project when they should have been focused on the main release.

In addition, Electronic Arts' gaming portal Origin is hardly loved but is required to play Mass Effect 3 on the PC. It represents corporate greed, because it forces players to use software they don't like (Origin) instead than software they do (Steam). (And it's notable that Steam developer Valve retains general gamer goodwill, while EA certainly does not.) People enjoy hating large corporations and the games-as-products philosophies they stand for, hence much of the ire aimed at major publishers like EA and Activision.

Mass Effect 3 offers day-one DLC that isn't all that excellent and that requires PC players to use Origin to play it. All at once, BioWare's shooter/role-playing hybrid taps into general gamer rage. Traditionally, BioWare has avoided this kind of negativity. However…

Association 3: The Abandonment of BioWare's Prior Creative Direction

Public perception of BioWare had been slowly shifting, but did so even more with the release of Dragon Age II. With that fantasy sequel, the series left its Baldur's Gate/Neverwinter Nights roots behind in favor of a design with more mass-market appeal. PC gamers noted the shift to console-focused development, characterized in part by the loss of the isometric camera angle. The role-playing elements were downplayed, but without any real benefit, and the overall decline in quality between Dragon Age: Origins and its sequel didn't go uncriticized.

Her appearance seems more like a calculated marketing ploy than a union of creative talents.

Mass Effect 3 took commercial matters even further. The game features journalist Jessica Chobot's voice work and physical likeness, but her unremarkable acting (and awkward, sexualized character model) makes her appearance seem more like a calculated marketing ploy than a union of creative talents. Meanwhile, Mass Effect 3 implemented a multiplayer mode that had a direct impact on the story. And this harks back to general gamer discontent over DLC: we think that time and resources spent on online play should have been directed at the more meaningful campaign. The common interpretation: Electronic Arts forced BioWare to implement a feature the game didn't need, and shoehorned in a character and actress for marketing purposes, not creative ones. Whether or not that's true is ultimately irrelevant. If the Internet screams loudly enough, the screams become truth.

This is not where the camera is always focused when Diana Allers is onscreen.

BioWare is not alone, of course. Think of other recent fan outcries:Supreme Commander 2, Command & Conquer 4, Final Fantasy XIII, Medal of Honor, and so on, all victims of Internet outrage. I don't think it's about change--not really. In spite of it all, I believe in gamers. I believe we are ready for the next big thing, or at least, the next new thing. Rather, I think it's about homogenization. We resent that World of Warcraft is such a juggernaut that its influence can be felt across the entire genre. We resent that Call of Duty is so ubiquitous that not only do other shooters strive to deliver similar experiences, but games in other genres have co-opted features associated with that series. We perceive developers leaving behind their creative sparks in favor of a game of follow the leader, in which evil publishers churn out focus-tested products rather than true art.

And in spite of its excellence, Mass Effect 3 has joined the company of games that have been associated with significance beyond their actual merits. Gaming is all grown up now. We've burdened developers and publishers--and they've burdened themselves--with enormous amounts of baggage, both deserved and undeserved.

Bioware is adept at manipulating the hype machine prior to release, dominating gaming news (yes, even here on GameSpot), and revealing so much information over long periods of time that they spoil key moments in their own games. (Compare this approach to Rockstar's, which is to drive anticipation for games like Grand Theft Auto V by releasing little information in advance.) Fans are disillusioned by marketing ploys and blatant cash grabs. For Bioware to regain that goodwill, we need to see that creativity trumps marketing. We need to know that characters appear in their games because they enrich the experience--not because they make for great marketing material.

As for gamers, well, we need to make sure we're directing our passion where it belongs. If rightful calls for fair pricing models are mixed with homophobic venom, then we make it easy for publishers to ignore us. Say what must be said, and do it loudly. Just make sure it's something worth hearing.

Written By

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

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1842 comments
icebox98
icebox98

i think the best ending is the synthesis ending. its the only ending that leaves everyone (including the geth and EDI) alive. who am i to decide the geth die, after they help me fight the reapers.

i think i was ok with shepard dying. BTW, legion also died 4 the geth. 

kcshawman
kcshawman

Well sex is part of what makes this universe go.  However simple things like not being able to hide behind an object when in a fire fight can end your sex life.  I have not read every post but no one seems to complain about how the game play itself sucks.  I like this game but I would love to be able to throw a grenade when I want to and where I want to.  Gears of War had that under control.  I have been killed many times because I cannot duck when I want to.  Jumping sucks.  Ammo selection is a pain New Vegas worked well when selecting ammo.  Halo had the jumping figured out.  Gears of War was not as bad as Mass Effect when it came to hiding behind objects.  I am still trying to figure out how to throw a grenade.  When I had no enemies I could throw several but when a fire fight got into play I could never figure it out.  Too complicated make it simple.

StarSword_C
StarSword_C

As far as #1 is concerned, there's a double standard like there is with so many things related to sex.  In the typical straight male mind, girl on girl is hot* and guy on guy is not.

* You'll notice that apart from a few nutbars on Fox News nobody complained about FemShep and Liara going at it.

Leejjohno
Leejjohno

The reaction of gamers and the media in general speaks volumes about just how emotionally involved a lot of people were with the game series. It's not something that happens often in the video game industry.

 

I do believe that whichever way we look at things, blaming the development on consoles and publishers is misdirected anger; at some point people working at bioware should have seen this all coming and protested towards the creative direction the game was going, period.

 

Being honest, this all started with Mass Effect 2. It lost the unique if flawed experiences that Mass Effect offered in place of gameplay that poorly imitated gears of war. Basically third person shooters are fine when done well but mass effect traded role-playing in for chest high walls back in ME2; all in the name of "catering for new mainstream fans" or whatever.

 

Even as I type this a few people are watching... That's pretty cool.

TheHumanBush
TheHumanBush

My biggest reason for hating this game is that you're forced to play a half-assed multiplayer to get a half-decent ending.  

CatPuncher
CatPuncher

re: the hater - unfortunately, i believe the (white) heterosexual male is one of the few social denominations that hasn't yet experienced any particular enlightenment or social revolutions that would help it set aside the stagnating opinions of the last century or earlier... if i were you (VanOrd), i would take consolation in the likely fact that this individual is probably a kid around the age of 15/16 that delights in nothing better than expressing his own opinion in a flourish of mucky feathers, even though the sane world agrees otherwise. Incidentally, i thought this attempt to introduce homosexuality into rpg games could have been interesting if it had been properly adapted into the story, but as it was it seemed as though it had been simply crow-barred into the plot much like Diane Allers and James Vega - no context or justification, it/they were just there... in fact, the whole game seemed to have been produced in that fashion - all the components just thrown in a blender

chakkerz
chakkerz

@figthingfish18 Firstly, my apologies, I didn't word that right. It has been a while but, that should have been "ME is a fantastic series that unlike CoD has captured a huge audience that spans fans from all manner of genres". I agree that sales alone CoD is definitely a force that is inspiring a lot of people to play the game. I know a lot of people that were (are) excited about CoD, but ME has the added charm that although deep down it's a shooter it has a great story to go with it. Since my original post I have had a chance to get down and dirty with ME3 and I have to say that I am very disappointed. Granted only 5 hours in but there is no depth, there is no wow factor, this is going through the motions to a point where "not trying" is ever so obvious. It is sad to see how it has fallen. I'm hoping it will pick up, but I guess BioWare have forgotten what ME was supposed to replace, or maybe they remembered they don't have to fit in with the high standard Star Wars does expect. (and "high standard" is a relative term here :S )

ronnet
ronnet

@Lostinthebliss, Bioware games include gameplay where you can talk to NPCs, get to know them and eventually have them become your friends and even lovers. This is what these games are about, just as much as they're about combat. I agree that it seems 'too late, too little' to now add homosexual romance options. A great part of the trilogy is that you can invest in the relationship in game 1 and see it come to conclusion in game 3. Adding homosexual options now seems like a cheap way to please the fans. It wasnt in the original plans, don't add it in now as it cheapens the trilogy. However I don't see why they shouldn't include homosexual options in a game that is partly about building up relationships. A large part of the world population is gay just as a large part is female. They can't just assume that all gamers a straight males. In an action game where the sex and preference of the hero are irrelevant it is unnecessary to mention whether the hero is gay or not. But in Bioware games the option should be included. Strangly enough people are angry about it now, but ever since Bioware decided to really add romance options in their games (with Jade Empire) there have been homosexual characters. Before JE they had a semi-romance in KOTOR but it was more or less a storyline choice.

TheBinoMan
TheBinoMan

I agree with most of Kevin's arguments, and generally i'm not the mainstream kind of guy my self. I don't listen to mainstream music. Usually I don't watch movies that came from Hollywood. My favorite niches in video games are indie games, student games or at least games that have some renovation in them. And with all that said, I love this game. Although ME3 is far from being perfect, It is one of the best games I played in very long time, especially in story and atmosphere. And one last thing (with a spoiler!) If ME3 is so focused on marketing and sales, why make ME3 the last one? Why not make a ton of ME games just like COD or even Assassin's Creed? Maybe because Bioware are more focused on story more than anything else since SW:KotOR. Maybe it is more important to close the story and end the saga in the right way, than making more and more sequels, then earn the money back with more successful sagas.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Interesting. I don't care about #1 on your list. Honestly the racism / homophobia is overdone to the point of exhaustion. I honestly don't care what your race or sexual preference is and unless it is brought up correctly I don't think it should be brought up at all. #2 - this one does bother me and in fact is the reason I haven't bought the 3rd game. Not only is Day 1 DLC a problem the fact DLC for ME2 explained direct plot points that I was interested has turned me off to the series. I'm cool with having a game that expands its universe, but I'm not going to shell out DLC prices, on top of a full $60 game. Especially day 1. It is a money grab. #3 - Yep, this game was a grab to appeal to as many people as possible. I don't game that way. I game on the genre based on the type of game I want to play. When all the genres mesh together I usually feel like I'm playing a game that just doesn't fit my style at times. Stick to the genres.

Lostinthebliss
Lostinthebliss

Wait. Cortez is a man of color? great. just ruined the whole game. racist..... How bout you stop forcing me to accept something I don't want to accept. Im not OK with homosexuality constantly being pushed to some norm i have to accept or come to terms with or im the one whose the hater. How bout you make a game i can enjoy playing that doesn't have to involve these stupid politics. Go get a real girlfriend, or a boyfriend ( if you're gay

megamario9
megamario9

Stay tuned next week as Kevin talks about racism in grand theft auto V! -_-

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Point 2 and 3 are personal and understandable... point 1 is acceptable too from a respectfull perspective but... Still don't understand how people can be so upset about homosexuality potraited in Mass Effect 3 and feel indifferent about the human-alien inter-racial relationships the game also offers...

toonsim2
toonsim2

The ending just seems totally lazy to me when in the rest of the game; you had felt the consequences of your decisions.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I thought the game was great. But the ending was horrendous. Still didn't take away from my enjoyment. Not the way I would have wanted it to end though.

ex_shadi
ex_shadi

i dont care for any of this reason to hate such a wonderfull game. wether he a gay or not its just a game , its not that big deal beside if the ending is so bad this mean one thing we gonna see another chapter of mass effect in the future and that so cool, isnt that enough guys. its just a game for fun only , who hates gays dont go there dont choose that dialogue for those who love series its not over yet ..... beside for me shippard is a cool character i wish he could make a return in the other chapters too. but its gd for now beside the story so great ghraphics superb gameplay great so let us dont concern about little trashy things and concentrate on what is much important after all of this rage about the game, it still one of the greatest game ever can u doubt that

JeffreyCor
JeffreyCor

I have no problem with any of the above nor to I hate Mass Effect 3 itself. The ending, maybe 1% of the entire game at most, is total garbage. The rest of it is brilliant!

GBASWFan
GBASWFan

I dont hate Mass Effect. In fact I love it. I didnt even hate the ending. Disliked, sure, because it was unfufilling and ruined the rest of my day. But not hate.

liam82517
liam82517

@Cray-Z-Canuck How is you mumbling a load of tosh, strong evidence? Here Ill back up my claim with as much hard proof as you did..."cos I said so!" Or just do a basic google search. Or why dont you actually roof me wrong and show me/tell me the names of all these people/groups that kill in the name of being anti religion!

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

I smell the real ending coming in the form of a DLC.... I am so not getting this game.

famekiller
famekiller

@ Suikogaiden are you referring to the author of this story? If so, he has every right to take offence. The F & N words are offensive to a lot of people. Gay/Straight Black/White whatever. I too find them offensive and you're the one that should be ashamed of yourself for even writing such rubbish.

Cray-Z-Canuck
Cray-Z-Canuck

@liam82517 Thank you. You just proved a suspicion of mine. You don't actually read what I write. You just spew venom and insults. Once again, I find myself arguing with your insults that have little or nothing to back them up but your opinion. It's like I'm arguing with a very angry know-it-all teenager. I never said religion was perfect, but it seems you have put that in my mouth. Religion had nothing at all to do with Hitler killing people, I agree. Once again you put words in my mouth. Please provide proof that religion has killed more people than atheistic evolution. Otherwise go cry in a corner. I presented strong evidence for my side of the argument, you have failed once again. I'm done arguing with you. Have a good life miss.

liam82517
liam82517

@il_moro You sound like a battered wife that wont admit her husband just knocked the taste out her mouth for no reason.

liam82517
liam82517

@Cray-Z-Canuck Yes the news stories of roving bands of atheists murdering people certainly proves that point. As for hitler if you think religion had anything to do whith why he hated jews you are clearly a retard Hitlder hated jews for many reasons. He blamed them for the defeat in world war 1, he blamed them for the demise of the monarchy, he blamed them for the ruin of germany. I know my history just fine dick, why dont you stop crying about religion being perfect because its not. nor has it ever been. Religion(its many many forms) have caused more deaths than any other reason in history. deal with it!

Guest_1001
Guest_1001

Listing homophobia as one of the reasons that people may dislike Mass Effect 3 is just childish and trivialises the real issues the critics of the game argue against. Points two and three touch upon the real issues but they're still miles off the mark. Perhaps the real crux of the matter has only come up in the last week or so but little sentences like "Mass Effect 3 has joined the company of games that have been associated with significance beyond their actual merits" just comes off as untrue. Part of the criticism of the third game is to do with the fact that Mass Effect 1 and 2 set a standard that the third game failed to live up to.

Cray-Z-Canuck
Cray-Z-Canuck

@liam82517 How about you check your facts first friend. Plenty have died because of religion. No denying that. Staling and Hitler killed millions because of their atheistic/evolutionary ideals. That's a fact, and verified by history and eyewitnesses and you raving about it not being so doesn't change it. So obviously athiests DO care about what some think. Hence the aggressive athiestic movements out there. Please remove your blinders and check the history books before going on yet another rant. Those events still can't compare to the mass millions (50 to 70 million in estimate) who died in World War 2 alone.

Cray-Z-Canuck
Cray-Z-Canuck

@H_Van_Zan The Crusades did not kill MILLIONS of people. Yes, lots died, but not near that many.

Ardiendos
Ardiendos

@gavachotrece Sounds like you have been indoctrinated by the Reaper- uh I mean the Catholic Church.

gavachotrece
gavachotrece

Sorry @Zevvion, I ran out of characters, just had one more point: The thing that interests me about homosexuals, is that unlike other groups of people who indulge in sexual practices that are generally considered to be deviant (adultery, incest), homosexuals have had a lot of success in convincing people that their sexual practices are not a choice, but a genetically built-in trait, similar to race. I respectfully disagree with this idea. It is not a scientifically proven fact by any means. I don't have an issue with the idea that some people might have genetic factors that give them a higher propensity for homosexual behavior, but I'm sure the same could be said for a variety of behaviors, including violent behavior. Does the fact that you FEEL something mean that it's OK to do it? Does the fact that you FEEL something mean that you have no choice but to act on it? Of course not. If that were the case, I would be a murderer, because there have been times I really felt like shooting someone :)

gavachotrece
gavachotrece

@Zevvion, thanks for posting a legitimate and respectful question about why I'm opposed to homosexuality. My primary reasons are religious. My church teaches that Intimacy between a married man and woman is ordained of God, and a sacred, special thing. It teaches that any deviation from this (including not only homosexuality, but adultery, incest, etc.) is unacceptable to God. I believe God sets the standard for what is right, and what is wrong, regardless of what is popular among mankind at the time. I would suggest (in order to better understand where someone like myself is coming from on this subject) that you take a look at human sexuality in the broader sense, and ask yourself, "do I really believe that there should be no limits when it comes to sex?" If you think about it enough, and you're honest with yourself, most people are going to conclude that there should be limits, and it's OK for a society to pass laws accordingly. Should people be allowed to cheat on their spouses with no legal consequences? Should people be able to practice incest with no legal consequences? Should pedophiles be allowed to molest children with no legal consequences? Of course not. Civilization has, and always should, consider some sexual practices to be deviant.

Ardiendos
Ardiendos

Wait, people were actually bothered by the male homosexual relationship? Why? It's not like it was forced upon you and Cortez was a bro throughout the entire game. The relationship choices in the game are what give it strength. . As for the ending, I can understand why that has drawn the ire of the series beloved fanbase. Not only was it was a confusing way to end Shepard's story, but it was highly hypocritical of BioWare who have stated throughout the game's construction that they want to offer a 'satisfying ending'. What is satisfying about three ambiguous choices and a final scene that offers more questions than answers? That's not even mentioning the fact it clearly set the stage for further content by ending on a cliffhanger. . Honestly I didn't 'hate' the ending, but as I say it did confuse me. Far be it from me to tell BioWare how to tell their story but for a series that is built upon playing the role of Shepard as either the Paragon Hero or the Renegade Brute; it is difficult to accept an ending that doesn't give a clear option for either play style to take. . In the end it feels like you have to 'settle' on a decision, when Shepard has spent three games doing things his/her way. The final act therefore doesn't feel like it reflects anything that happened before.

carv85x
carv85x

SPOILER WARNING Reapers - We kill you because we want to save you Blue Ending - Thank you, we'll take it from here Red Ending - You kill me, I kill you Green Ending - Screw being different, lets all be the same For such an epic journey, was these the endings we deserved? I don't understand how a galaxy surrounded with such complex mysteries can meet such a simple and vague resolution, nor can I believe people that defend this conclusion really cared for the story.

angrychinaman
angrychinaman

@FIRE-WARRI0R I don't know why I like the mining so much....... I wish i could sell the stuff i mined for credits... that was my main issue with the game.

forbs61
forbs61

Liked the game, liked the multiplayer, story should've ended better though. Not really a happy ending if the woman you romanced is halfway across the galaxy on some unknown world and your dead. Times like this I'm glad I hate the game and not the player.

idioticbobsaget
idioticbobsaget

Gamespot: "At first we hated the ending, now we will defend it!" Irony much?

rhymesmatter
rhymesmatter

@il_moro then i take it that you are the 14year old boy (who surely choose Tali as romance) that in the next post is going to pretend to be 34 years old?nice! well said lad! I am with you on this one

il_moro
il_moro

Bottom line: get a grip, people. ME3 was remarkable in its scale, tone, and character engagement (particularly if you played as a female Cmdr. Shepard). It was never going to have the tidiness of a 90-minute Lifetime movie nor its saccharine nature. Thank you, Bioware. If you aren't hearing enough kudos, I'm really sorry because you produced a worthy experience. Just remember that your target audience is, well...14-year-old boys to 34-year-old men. It's not the worst thing in the world to push them into cognitive dissonance. :-)

megatrunks
megatrunks

It was that hard to make a better endings instead killing one of the most charisma character in video games.

Stevo_the_gamer
Stevo_the_gamer moderator

Mass Effect 3 is an amazing experience... save for the illogical and abrupt ending, of course.

pfrederickjr
pfrederickjr

I don't know why everybody gets so P***ed Off. Game development is a business. Developers are in business to make money. If they don't make money then any future games set in this universe are dead before they even get to see the light of day. People need to be honest with themselves and take a step back and grow up. The Mass Effect universe has enriched the culture of gaming, though there may have been a few stumbles, all in all the world is better for having its story told. I think the question that everyone needs to ask themselves is: Would I prefer that there never was a Mass Effect in the first place? My answer is of course No. I love the series and I take it for what it is. A story that some really talented writers and developers put together for my enjoyment. Period.

Lunarautumn1
Lunarautumn1

@TheHumanBush This couldn't be more wrong You do not have to play Multiplayer at all to get the best ending. I have played through several times and got every ending in ME3 without playing multiplayer at all. there are more than enough war assets to pick up to give you enough points to get the best ending. You have been misinformed Also i bet 99% of the people playing Mass Effect 3 don't know that there is actually a 4th ending that i just happened upon and it was really interesting to watch I am sending a message to Bioware to find out why this has not been mentioned anywhere, Is it something of a special idk but i am going to ask.

thejfactor99
thejfactor99

@Lunarautumn1  You played the game with the extended cut dlc.  Before that they supposedly made a mistake (freakin huge mistake if you ask me) and you couldn't get the high EMS ending without multiplayer.  The 4th ending was also part of the that dlc.  I don't think it made the ending any better, btw