Unlike Adam (aka CheeseBadger), I’m not a fan of the Extended Cut.
Sugarcoating a piece of crap doesn’t make it food. It might look more like food, but it’s still not edible. This is the case of the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut.
When you talk about Mass Effect as a franchise, one word comes to mind: choices. The choices we make throughout the series shape events within the game. Every dialogue you pick results in consequences. This is the reason why the first two games had so much replayability. While the story follows a single plot line, the variations are enough for us to play through the games over and over again.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for a majority of Mass Effect 3. The dialogues are the same lines read in a different tone. Most decisions are exposed to be frauds. One prominent example would be your choice of human councilor being invalidated. Regardless of your choice in Mass Effect 1, you end up with Udina in ME3. Another one will be the Rachni Queen. Had you released her in ME1, she would fall under the Reapers’ control; had you killed her, she’ll return in husk form, or something like that.
However, I would also like to point out there are also many parts of ME3 which were done right. The missions in Tuchanka, for one, have shown us glimpses of the game’s massive, unreached potential. Another great example will be the missions in Rannoch.
When it came down to the ending, BioWare choked, big time. Maybe more so than the New York Knicks against the Indiana Pacers in 1995.
The in-game default doesn’t look as good as the concept art. Just go with this one.
Before we get any further, I think it’s only right for you to learn a little bit about my character. I’m a guy, but I love me some FemShep. Hell, my “canon” Shepard is a FemShep, simply because I grew up watching cartoons and playing video games featuring Jennifer Hale’s voice. Call it nostalgia. Plus I like watching women kick ass.
You know, her voice is featured in 100+ video games, more than anyone else.
Anyways, Alexis Shepard is a paragade spacer, war hero. In ME1, she romances no one, saves the Rachni queen, picks Ashley over Kaidan, keeps Wrex alive, and saves the council. In ME2, she’s reborn. She gives the Illusive Man a finger by blowing up the Collector’s base. Throughout the journey in ME2, she falls for Garrus, because of his scars. They test his reach and her flexibility right before the suicide mission. Everyone gets out alive. Alexis 2 : 0 Reaper
In ME3, Alexis Shepard decides to help the krogans cure the genophage. She manages to repair the soured relationship between geths and quarians. As for Garrus, they talked about making that vid money and adopting Krogan babies.
TURIAN BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t even care if it’s krogan anymore. (Credit goes to Rossilyn on DeviantArt)
Why, BioWare? WHY?
It’s an allergy, and something got into my eyes, OK?
The Endings Pre-Extend Cut
After the Alliance finally completes the Crucible aka Reapa Killa, Shepard returns to Earth for a final showdown against the Reapers. She gets there, kicks asses, being a badass. Then she is told she needs to get all the way to the Citadel to activate the Crucible. To accomplish that, she along with a bunch of human shields have to rush to a beam which will take her directly to the Citadel. Once she reaches the Citadel, she sees the Illusive Man, indoctrinated and all. Admiral Anderson was there as well. Depending on your dialogue with TIM, Anderson may or may not die. Either case, TIM is gone for good after this one.
Come to think about it, it kind of looks like a penis with a huge dick head.
Then, you’ll reach the Catalyst, the kid who’s controlling the Reapers. Basically, he tells you that the Reapers exist to destroy everyone before the synthetics destroy organics and vice versa. Well, technically, Reapers don’t destroy. They just suck your essence or something to become even more powerful, or something like that. It doesn’t really matter. Bottom line, they’re here killing everyone before the civilization destroys itself.
The Catalyst then presents you with a few options:
- Control – You get to become part of the Reaper consciousness, and withdraw the Reaper forces immediately.
- Synthesis – Since Shepard is part synthetic, all thanks to Cerberus, she can jump down some light beams and convert everyone into part organic, part synthetic. Reapers will not reap anymore, simply because there are no classifications between organic or synthetic.
- Destroy – You blow up the Catalyst. Reapers die. All synthetics will die as a result. The geths you worked so hard to save, along with EDI, are no exceptions. If you were bothered enough to do side fetch quests or multiplayer, Shepard will survive. There will be no epilogue whatsoever.
- Shoot the Catalyst, and nothing happens.
- Throw your controller at your TV screen.
It’s really a matter of picking your poison, since the only difference lies in the hues of cinematics. They are completely identical. Whatever you did earlier in the game don’t matter; whomever you romanced doesn’t matter. The ending boils down to a number (the EMS) and three options.
In a nutshell, the relay network is destroyed, and your crew escapes from Earth for no good reason. They land on a planet where Garrus and Tali will starve to death. Somehow, the destruction of mass relays did not lead to a complete annihilation of the galactic system (as indicated in Mass Effect 2).
The Ending in Extended Cut
I’ll be honest. I just watched the gameplay footage on Youtube. I didn’t even bother to play through the game again.
First of all, there is an extended scene during the beam dash, in which Shepard calls for a pickup from Normandy. One of the two squad-mates you brought along will say goodbye. You’ll get a different version if he/she happens to be your love interest.
VIDEO REMOVED BY YOUTUBE
Second, there are a few more investigative dialogue options for the Starchild aka Catalyst.
Third, there is a new ending which allows you to refuse the Catalyst’s options. The entire civilization is wiped out and the cycle continues. EMS doesn’t change anything.
Fourth, the endings now include epilogues of sorts, narrated by different people depending on your choice.
VIDEO REMOVED BY YOUTUBE
VIDEO REMOVED BY YOUTUBE
Fifth, depending on your EMS, your crew is either stranded in the jungle-like planet after their escape or they fly off elsewhere.
Sixth, should you opt for the destroy ending and has a high enough EMS, your love interest will refuse to put your name on the memorial in the Normandy.
However, the Shepard breathing scene is not elaborated upon.
Do I like it?
Watching the extended cut for the first time definitely left a taste of bitterness. However, after watching it for multiple times, it’s not as bad as I first thought. It went from an F- to a C-.
Why don’t I like it?
There are quite a few reasons as to why I still find the ending not likable.
1. The beam dash scene makes no sense
Do you seriously expect a Reaper to allow its arch nemesis to say her goodbyes to her boyfriend? Come on. If I’m a Reaper, their asses will be grass. OK, even assuming that the Normandy has some sort of technology that keeps itself invisible from the Reapers, the logic behind this scene still doesn’t add up. Why bother wasting all that personnel on being human shields when the Normandy can drop Shepard off at the beam with no casualties? The melodramatic goodbyes are there solely for the fluffs.
2. The refusal ending
The Extended Cut was created in response to the outcry over the original endings. BioWare maintained that there would be no new endings. Yet, we see a new ending. That wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t feel completely unnecessary. Yes, we wanted an ending in which we get to refuse the Catalyst, but not at the expense of the entire civilization. This option feels like a middle finger from BioWare to some of us. Somehow, I find it comical.
3. The “Shepard is still alive” tease
This is actually one of my biggest complaints of the original ending. Given that Mass Effect 3 is supposedly the final entry of a franchise, fans would like closures on their characters. Shepard’s breath leaves fans in confusion. Is she alive? Is she on the Citadel? How does she manage to cheat death once again? Are Shepard and Garrus going to adopt Krogan babies? Plus, the scene has essentially betrayed the game’s very own theme – sacrifice.
I understand certain stories have ended on a cliffhanger, allowing audiences to interpret the protagonist’s fate. However, Mass Effect is not one of them. We know our protagonists way too well, and we dove into Mass Effect 3 fully expecting closure. Throughout the game, Shepard is tying up loose ends stemmed from ME1 and ME2. Showing Shepard taking a breath at the end only brings in more questions. You want to leave your viewers wanting more, not asking questions out of bewilderment.
4. Starchild aka the Catalyst
The Catalyst is just mind-blowingly lazy writing. Mac Walters and Casey Hudson essentially pulled a Deux Ex Machina with the Starchild. The last thing you want to do in the final stages of a story is to introduce a key character. The character will almost be impossible for audiences to relate to. As a result, it is extremely hard to empathize with Starchild.
The logic of the Catalyst is also very questionable. Destroying us before we destroy ourselves? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Imagine France coming out of nowhere and fire nuclear weapons at the United States and China, in attempt on ending all disputes over human right issues.
Even assuming that the Starchild’s logic is intentionally flawed, it is, as mentioned, hard to relate to the character. The Catalyst’s logic is right because “the writers said so.” However, a character’s authority doesn’t come from the writers, but rather his/her/its development. Walters, Hudson, as well as the guys behind Extended Cut, have failed to realize this point.
5. The Destroy ending invalidates what some of the players worked for
The speculations were indeed right. The Destroy ending will effectively kill off EDI and the geths. Now here’s the problem. A lot of us play as paragon Shepards who worked really hard to make sure that quarians and geths end up in peace. Hell, some of us picked the geths over the quarians because the latter were the ones who started the entire conflict. As much as I know life’s a bitch and then you die, Mass Effect 3 is not real life, and this goes to my next point:
6. Just because it’s sad doesn’t make it realistic
For those who claim “MASS EFFECT 3 ENDING REALISTIC BECAUSE IT SAD”, let’s keep it real for a second. Nothing about Mass Effect is realistic. Sorry for waking you up from your fantasies but I haven’t heard any stories of some big ass AI robots created for the sole purpose of killing invading earth yet. Hell, I haven’t seen a xenosexual couple yet. Oh wait, the last one is actually possible.
In case you haven’t heard, not every soldier who fights in wars died. Not every cop who fights crimes gets killed on the line of duty.
7. If I want a dose of real life, I’ll be listening to Wu Tang Clan
Unlike Mass Effect 3, Wu Tang Clan actually provide sound advices, some damn good ones at that. When I play video games, I’m looking for an escape. I knew I couldn’t kick asses across outer space in real life. That’s why I played Mass Effect. I don’t need video games to remind me life sucks.
What’s done right then?
1. The soundtrack
The final track pre-EC matches the game very well – great in the first 95%, sucked in the last 5%.
The remixed track sounds much better. The drums are pretty good. The tone sounds way more uplifting and much more “definite” towards the end. Sorry, I wish I could elaborate more but I’m no music critic.
2. The beam dash goodbye scene
*sniff*sniff* ONCE AGAIN, I’M NOT CRYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *sniff*sniff*
I know I know. It still doesn’t make sense. But there’s just so much fluff. Shekarian are so adorable. WHY??????
*eats a tub of ice cream*
3. The control ending is so much better
Pre-EC, the control ending is seen as the ultimate no-no choice, as electing for control simply means you’re giving in and the cycle continues. However, it’s explained in this one that by ascending to be the Reapers’ consciousness, Shepard successfully accomplishes what she had set out for – ending the reaping cycle. Furthermore, she has the full Reaper force in her hands. Now she can be the great American (or Canadian, if you play as BroShep) savior of the poor.
This totally happens in my head canon.
Extended Cut managed to present the ending in a way that makes it passable. Some plot holes were filled, I’ll give them that. However, it is still nowhere close to reaching its full potential. The most frustrating part about the original ending is its complete lack of ambition. The EC failed to fix that.
When you’re shooting a basketball, the follow through is as important as the stance and the stroke. ME1 is BioWare setting their feet; ME2 is their stroke; ME3 is their follow through. With a bad follow through, the shot is likely to miss. This is what happened to the franchise as a whole. It missed. When you miss a shot, you can rush into the post and bust your ass for an offensive rebound. However, BioWare didn’t realize that their miss was a game-tying shot, and responded with a half-assed effort a few seconds t00 late. As a result, the game was lost. Their fans were gone.
The EC is just too little, too late.
If BioWare by any chance decides to make a romance DLC, I’m game. Yea, the EC is good enough for me to purchase that DLC. (Credit goes to Siberfeder on DeviantArt)
We shall end this with even more Shekarian. Listen to Jennifer Hale’s heart-break in the second one. *bursts into tears*