Mass Effect 3 (spoilery single player)

And so it ends. Spoilers!


The trilogy is complete. Mass Effect 1 was clunky in its execution (the controls were a bit iffy on the PC, the motherfucking Citadel took fucking hours of my life I want back, and my hatred of lifts developed because of this game), but it had story and characters that were fairly fucking awesome. Mass Effect 2 was a lot less clunky (apart from the soul-crushing planet scanning), a lot more polished, and rolled up the set up from the first game into a sci-fi Magnificent Seven, which was fucking awesome. Mass Effect 3 is where the choices and the story you’ve made along the way pay off, whether for bad or good.

Confession time – I had to cheat a bit. Between Mass Effect 1 and 2, my PC died, so I had to rebuild it. Lost all my save games. So I actually went back and finished the first game again, twice to get a Paragon and Renegade character, ready for Mass Effect 2. In between Mass Effect 2 and 3, my PC died, and I bought a new one, and the old hard drive died along the way. Could I be bothered finishing either of the previous two games again? Could I fuck. So I went online and downloaded a Paragon save game as near as possible to my original story choices from the first playthrough (only major difference being that Ashley “Space Racist” Williams was alive instead of Kaidan “Carth Onassi” Alenko.

Mass Effect 3 is sad. Right from the off. There’s the odd bit of comedy throughout the game (although I’m sure your mileage may vary due to the very different ways the story sections can play out depending on what you did in the previous games), but for the other 99% of the game, you’ll be getting battered over the head with the “we’re all gonna die, war is hell” stick. Fuck it, I’ll mention the gameplay here – apart from a beefed-up melee attack that you’ll learn to build into your repertoire fairly quickly, it’s exactly the same as in Mass Effect 2. Did I just use the word “repertoire”? Jesus H. Fuck, that’ll be a sign of the wankery to come, I guess. My apologies in advance.

Going into the third game, I knew I’d have to make some difficult choices, and that some characters would die. What I didn’t expect was which of these would affect me the most. When I played ME2, just like I did with ME3, I did my best to avoid any spoilers off the internet. And I mean “any”. I was so determined, I pretty much avoided every games site ever until it was finished. So when I was playing ME2, I was so surprised when Mordin, mid-conversation, burst into a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan. It was a brilliant bit of writing (I mean the dialogue; I guess Gilbert & Sullivan were good writers too), and  an excellent way of making you forgive the guy who helped condemn a whole species to possible extinction. And it was optional! I’d guess a lot of players didn’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked all the characters pretty much equally, but that bit of song really brought Mordin to life, and salved any judgement of his character with affection.

So when Mordin decided to go on a one way trip to cure the genophage, giving the Krogans a future, I was moved. A bit. But when he knew he was about to die and started trying to sing Gilbert & Sullivan one last time, that set me right off. I bawled my eyeballs out.

In my playthrough, Thane died too. So did Miranda. But Mordin? Mordin was the one that really made me start to give a shit.

Bioware is currently being nagged to death by fourteen year old internet fuckwits to change the ending (which is weird, cos Mass Effect 3 is one big ending, but they mean the ending to the ending, I guess). I sincerely hope that Bioware kindly tells them all to fuck off. I mean sure, the game has the readiness meter that Fable 3 had (although Fable 3 outright lied to the player to goad you into getting the shitty ending, which is a cunt’s trick; at least ME3 plays fair with the rating and the time you have left to do it). It also has the “choose your own ending machine” at the end, like in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which was a bit shit in DE:HR (but it’s not as shit here, and I’ll tell you why in a sec). No, the reason why I want Bioware to stick with the game as it is is that it makes sense. Narratively, it’s a solid ending. Sure, it blindsides you with a twist (the Citadel plays host to a behemoth AI that runs the Reapers, and it can’t go on exterminating life every 50,000 years cos the current cycle has proven that it won’t work), but it totally works. The Reapers controlled the Geth, so the Catalyst controls the Reapers. The Catalyst chooses the form of the young boy who Shepard has nightmares about because the boy was someone Shepard couldn’t save; the Catalyst is trying to make him save itself. Shepard is given three choices at the end, and they all tie in to the beliefs of certain characters in the story (as it points out to you). And I don’t know about the other endings, but I chose to go with the assimilate option; synthetics bonded to organics, and everyone lived happily ever after. OK, so they lived without mass relays any more, but they lived!

For all these reasons and more, I loved the ending (to the ending that is ME3). It was a bitter-sweet ending, and with what went on in the rest of the game, it was the best I could have hoped for. The sweet part comes after the credits; the old man’s voiceover is a bit forced, but then I realised it was Buzz Aldrin doing the speaking, and I loved it.

And so it ends.

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