Why the Mass Effect 3 Ending Was Fantastic

#1 Posted by usernameisnot-- (1 posts) -
*---=Why the Mass Effect 3 Ending Was Fantastic=--- * * *(Sorry for the weird asterisks; I couldn't get it format right any other way) Having heard how terrible the ending was before I started playing Mass Effect 3, I had braced myself mentally by the time I finally managed to perfectly headshot those husks and marauder twenty times in a row and drag myself into that big beam of light. (I was also on the verge of punching my laptop.) But then the remarkable happenedthe ending was incredible! And I could not for the life of me understand why there was so much disappointment. So, I went online and starting reading the critiques. Some were childish, some had valid points, but more than anything else, I felt ME3 had been misunderstood. The ME3 ending needed a new kind of heroa paragon of advocacy and elucidationa renegade against the critics who ceaselessly bashed the different colored endings. So inspired by Sheps tireless fight against the destruction of the universe, I decided to take on an even greater challenge: explaining why the Mass Effect 3 ending was actually awesome. --Dispelling the Indoctrination Hypothesis-- First to dispel the Indoctrination Hypothesis. Clever and superb as that ending would have been, it clearly wasnt intended. The proof: the stargazer cut scene after all the endings. If this was actually how the story was intended, not only did it not explain how the Reapers could be destroyed because of a dream sequence, but the stargazer cut scene clearly shows that you saved the day even if you chose the blue or green wrong endings where you gave into the Reapers. Great idea had they actually intended it, but they didnt. Case closed. * * * --The Role of the Reapers and Guardian-- Now one common complaint is that the Reapers and the Guardian dont make sense. Why would you kill all organic life to prevent synthetic life from killing all organic life? Now that isnt actually as paradoxical as youd think. The Reapers aim was to allow new organic life to keep developing, but not allow it to finally create a synthetic lifeform that would permanently kill all organic life. They recognized that new organic lifeforms have intrinsic value, and even honor organic life by dedicating their energies to preserving eachs image in synthetic form. Their stance was basically: Well we wish we didnt have to keep slaughtering you every 50,000 years, but if we let you live, youd permanently kill all organic life accidentally. At least were turning you into cyborg-robot things to keep a record you ever existed. And you know what? In a twisted way its both sort of benevolent and logical. At the very least, it moves them out of the black area of the good versus evil continuum, and into the very dark gray. But whats more important is that, as the audience, were not supposed to believe that the Reapers and the Guardian are omniscient or infallible (despite the Guardian being a virtually immortal, wispy blue thing). They were built, just like the Geth, and something in their history made them come to the conclusion that synthetics will always kill organics (can you think of any examples?). This in turn became the basis of their reasoning for cyclical slaughter. Now its not hard to imagine the Geth eventually being backed into a similar corner, and coming up with a similar bizarre logic that both preserves themselves, but allows organic life to develop up to a non-threatening point. Thats part of why its a brilliant ending: your interaction with the Geth, EDI, Legion and others informs your choice as to whether or not the Guardian is right that the two cannot coexistand to what degree hes rightwhich in turn determines what final path you choose to take. --The Endings: Destroy All Synthetics Red-- The main theme in the renegade path (aside from just being a badass) is a willingness to sacrifice, physically and morally, to achieve pragmatic ends. The ends justify the means. A more amicable relationship with Cerberus in ME2, the choice to deceive the Krogan about curing the genophage in ME3, and Sheppards general attitude towards lost comrades throughout the dialogue are all examples of this, amongst many others. A renegade Sheppard is also more prone to see things as a conflict one has to win, rather than something that can be solved peacefully. Renegade Sheps stance on retaking the Quarian homeworld being an excellent example. The result is that a Renegade Sheps endingdestroying the syntheticsis a choice actually based in philosophical agreement with the Reapers: its us or them. The result is a Sheppard thathaving already killed the innocent Geth race in favor of the Quarianswould likely feel little remorse at sacrificing the rest of the synthetic life in the universe for the safety of the organics. Us vs. them; the ends justify the means. And one could easily imagine the resulting universe post ME3: synthetics would become the ultimate boogeyman legend and likely no one would ever build a true AI again. * * *At least not for maybe, like, 50,000 years... --The Endings: Merge Synthetic and Organic Green-- The green ending falls between renegade and paragon. On the one hand, it saves all life in the universea very paragony thing to do. On the other hand, it forces the choice to merge on the entire universe in the name of long term peacea very renegadey thing to do. -And again, the foreshadowing for this, and the concept of where is the line between organic and synthetic as a theme, are both so well done in the Mass Effect series. Several of your squadmates, and yourself, already have biotic implants hinting at a likely positive future for man-machine hybrids. * * However, at the same time the Illusive Mans creation of sanctuary and his use of the Reaper technology to make his hybrid soldiers was obviously repulsiveas was of course the Reapers doing it with all the races in the game. By merging everyone are you actually creating a lasting peace, or are you following in the footsteps of the Illusive Man and the Reapers? And this choice was foreshadowed in the story: did you destroy or forcibly rewrite the heretic Geth? The choices are obviously parallel: do you let someone/something die for what they believe or do you force them to cooperate? With this option you hope for a future of organic/synthetic peace, but you always have to wonder if you really had the authority to play god like that with the fate of all life in the universe. * * * *--The Endings: Take Over the Reapers Blue-- Finally you have Bluethe Paragon option. And the reason this is the Paragon option is because it has none of the ends justify the means aspects of the other two endings. In the Red option you kill the synthetics to save the organics. In the Green option you force everyone to merge to create peace. But only with the Blue option do you destroy the threat, but leave both the organics and the synthetics to determine their own fates. * * *A major theme in the Mass Effect series is the how versus the what. In the game, both what the renegades and the paragons do are almost the samethey fight the same battles, recruit the same allies, and screw the same aliens. The difference is how they do it. Unlike a Renegade Shep, a Paragon Shep always cares about the morality of his or her means, as well as the ends. Every death is felt, every action reflected upon. For instance despite the threat of the Krogan uprising, a Paragon cannot condemn the preemptive act of castrating an entire race (a situation with strong parallels to the Reapers repressing organic life). Nor can a paragon let the innocent Geth be destroyed just because of a biological closeness with the Quarians (if he or she doesnt have enough paragon points to unite them that is). * * *It doesnt mean the Paragon isnt willing to make tough choices. Shep is never a clearly black or white character. The paragon option of saving the Quarian admiral over his several men is a tough choicebut the choices like this that Paragon Shep makes are grounded ones, and only made with strong evidence they will pay offunlike, for instance, the Illusive Man sacrificing millions to maybe find a way to control the Reapers. * * *And yet, this game is so great because the Blue ending still isnt the obviously good choice. Despite being the ending that doesnt force any choice on the synthetics (destruction) or organics (merging)its still the choice that implicitly admits the Illusive Mans ends were right, even if his means were terribly wrong. However, it is also the ending that best acknowledges killing and controlling each other is not something that is always broken down under synthetic vs organic lines. Therefore the sacrifices associated with the destruction of, or merging with, the synthetics will not necessarily bring peace. The relationship between the Salarians and the Krogan is very much analogous to the Quarians and the Geth. And the Geth also ultimately opposed the Reapers despite also having a synthetic lineage. Therefore the Paragon Shep is unwilling to destroy, or force merging, when its no guarantee for peace.* * *Instead the Paragon ending chooses hope and faith in the future actions of others, no matter what their origin or history. * * * *--Destruction of the Mass Effect Relays-- Many people complain that the destruction of the Mass Effect relays is terrible since it meant the isolation and destruction of so many people. Yes, no doubt many people died and suffered from their destruction, but it was very necessary from an artistic stand point. (Also how about a little perspective; you just ended a prospectively infinite cycle of cold hearted slaughter. Be happy. Jeez.) * *The destruction of the Mass Effect stations represented the end of the cyclical oppression of the Reapers reign and a fresh start for free, optimistic evolution throughout the universe. While a technological boon, the relays presence kept man/alienkind on a predetermined trajectory not of their own creationa cattle chute for technological evolution. Only with their destruction could man/alienkind find the path they were meant to create for themselves without Reaper intervention. Yes, technological advancement and the galaxys recovery will be slower for it, but it will be a recovery free from the influence of the Reapers. * * *--The Normandy's Escape-- Now here I agree with the criticism that the Normandys escape seems a little unlikely, BUT again Im willing to give it to them for artistic purposes. Like in so much great literature (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, the Bard), the hero ultimately dies. (Would you want another Harry Potter?) But unlike in other stories, in ME3 you chose what kind of day gets saved, even if you arent around to enjoy it. How then does one get the player to reflect on the implications of the path chosen? Make the player see the friends hes invested in living in that future. If one death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic, only by seeing a close few embark into this new universe can it really hold the intimate gravitas that the ending should. Like the destruction of the Mass Effect relays, the crash of the Normandy represents the necessary backslide in technological progress to have an unfettered evolution forward. Your squadmates experience is a tangible microcosm for what is happening through the galaxy, and their steps into an uncharted world a metaphor for the new path of life in the universe.* * *Now, given all that, was the Mass Effect 3 ending perfect? Of course not. I agree the ending sequences could have varied more cinematically based on your choice. And sure, some fans would prefer a hard-line realistic endingor a happier oneas opposed to the more artistic, metaphorical approach they tookand thats fine. Thats all simply a matter of taste. But I believe the majority of people who disapproved of the ending disliked it because they didnt fully understand it. The differences in the ending were subtle, but exceptionally crafted, and they exemplified an old adage most gamers these days probably arent used to following. In the end, Mass Effect 3 wasnt about winning or losing; it was about how you played the game.
#2 Posted by Torino818 (149 posts) -

This sounds alot like the points I made.  Did you perhaps read what I wrote on this website below or when it was on fanfiction.net?


A Teaser:

The God Child

Of all the problems people have with the ending for Mass Effect 3 almost all of them have some issue with this god-child.  According to ME3 the god-child is the catalyst an AI appearing deity that is housed within the Citadel.  This god-child is based off of a child that Shepard attempts to help and is later vaporized as the Normandy makes his escape from Earth.

After you open up the arms of the Citadel and the Crucible attaches to it you are lifted on an elevator and meet the god-child.  The god-child then explains that he is the catalyst, not the Citadel like you believed.  He explains that the Reapers are his solution to chaos, that the Reapers dont destroy all organic life that they harvest it and make room for other species to rise to galactic power.  This seems confusing but think of it this way, when the collectors were building a human reaper they dissolved colonists completely everything about the colonist became a part of the reaper.  The colonists beliefs, memories, and knowledge became a part of this Reaper, some small part of the colonist was the Reaper.  Although the colonist no longer had free will or an individual identity he/she became immortal in a sense, his/her actions would be stored in the collective consciousness of the Reaper.  A completed Reaper would have the collective knowledge of an entire species, their culture, their knowledge.  It would not have free will or individuality but it would be immortal.  That is what the god-child believes it is providing, immortality to all the races that are now preserved in Reapers.  The galaxy would then have room for an entirely new culture to evolve and flourish.

In the last few moments of the game you a confronted with three distinct choices. Destroy where all synthetics will be wiped from existence, this includes the Geth and EDI, but you are warned that the peace will not last and eventually your descendants will make synthetics that will kill all organic life.  Control Shepard sacrifices himself to take control of all the Reapers, however control is not guaranteed and if he should fail there will be no do overs.  Synthesis Shepard combines his energy with the Crucible to modify all life in the galaxy and create a new genetic makeup for all species, a mixing of synthetic and organic.  No matter what Shepard chooses it seems the Reapers will be defeated and in every ending the Mass Relays are destroyed and Shepard dies (not including the destroy easter egg).  It seems that these choices are meant to drive you away from the Destroy option which The Indoctrination Theory claims is the only viable option.  But is it really?  During one of the earlier conversations with Liara she tells Shepard that the crucible will create more than enough energy to destroy the Reapers but she worries about what form that energy will take.  If something creates enough energy to destroy every Reaper across the galaxy why couldnt the other two options be viable.  Altering DNA seems complex but we humans do it naturally whenever a child is born it is the mixing and altering of human DNA.  As for control the Reapers are already controlled by the god-child so it would just be seen as a change in ownership.  Lets also not forget the only choice that is available should you have an extremely low readiness level Destroy.  If the ending really was about Indoctrination then the  only available option would be control (not of the Reapers but of Shepard) instead Shepard not only destroys all of the Reapers he also destroys most if not all of the life in the Sol System.

As noted in the Indoctrination Theory video the god-childs voice is that of the female Shepard mixed with the male Shepard.  For most people this seems very strange.  Why out of all the voices and people in the universe would it choose this combination?  If this god-child really has control of the Reapers it would have been easy enough for it to access Shepards memories during the Reapers attempt to control Shepard in the Citadel control room.  Why it choose this child seems simple enough to me.  It choose this child because it is someone Shepard did NOT know at all.  A complete stranger that Shepard has no idea about his personality therefore any personality the god-child gives it would be the only personality associated with the god-child.  As for the voice it probably choose something that would sound comforting and yet at the same time authoritative, like Shepards parents.  The fact that the childs voice is male and female Shepard combined is probably a result of what both of Shepards parents sounded like.  It chose the parents voice because that is how the god-child sees himself, not as a terrible destroyer of civilization, but as the preserver of alien cultures which allows new cultures to arise a guardian of the galaxy if you will.

#3 Posted by dahui58 (21562 posts) -

Sorry, but major TL;DR, I read the first few of your explanations, but the actual story and what happens aren't really what killed it for me, it's the fact they missed out on such a good chance to really create an intricate sequence of videos (even images or a wall of text would have done), unique to each player, showing how YOUR choices made a difference. Not some lame ass choice at the end. To be honest I found the whole last bit unbelievable and ridiculous anyway.

Dragon Age Origins or Fallout New Vegas would be a good example of the type of ending I want, one which actually reflects your choices. ME was a truly epic series, all about choice and freedom, the fact 99% of your gameplay, story and character was ignored at the end was a retarded decision.

Awful ending, a big missed chance, not as totally bad as it could have been, but still an absolute shocker.

#4 Posted by NBAmaster33 (938 posts) -

First of all, I'm not sure whether you're referring to the original endings or the extended cut.  Neither of them can be considered fantastic by any means whatsoever, and that is not up for debate.

The core problems below are irrefutable:

Abandonment of Genre

Abandonment of Character Focus

Abandonment of Central Conflict

Abandonment of Narrative Coherence

The Extended Cut mostly fixed the character focus issue and touched on the narrative coherence, but otherwise the premise of the ending has not been altered for correction and improvement.  While you may have liked the ending, it is by no means fantastic simply based on literary storytelling rules and guidelines as well as the context of the story.

#5 Posted by dbene (237 posts) -

Sorry, but major TL;DR, I read the first few of your explanations, but the actual story and what happens aren't really what killed it for me, it's the fact they missed out on such a good chance to really create an intricate sequence of videos (even images or a wall of text would have done), unique to each player, showing how YOUR choices made a difference. Not some lame ass choice at the end. To be honest I found the whole last bit unbelievable and ridiculous anyway.

Dragon Age Origins or Fallout New Vegas would be a good example of the type of ending I want, one which actually reflects your choices. ME was a truly epic series, all about choice and freedom, the fact 99% of your gameplay, story and character was ignored at the end was a retarded decision.

Awful ending, a big missed chance, not as totally bad as it could have been, but still an absolute shocker.

were you looking for things like "the Salarians went on to Flourish and develop scientific breakthroughs resulting in peace throughout the galaxy"....like a summmary of each race etc.?
#6 Posted by dbene (237 posts) -
Leviathon changes the ending for me as well. promotes the theory that everything is cyclical and that everything (even what we consider to be the first or "Gods" ) came from something else older and they in turn were probably created before that.