[It should go without saying: spoilers, spoilers, spoilers...]
Huh. Well that was a hell of a thing.
Depending on who you ask, last week Bioware, the creators of Mass Effect 3, either ‘caved to fan pressure’, ‘corrected their ham-fisted, hurried storytelling’, or ‘wanted to provide closure for those who appreciated their vision’ by releasing an Extended Cut of the concluding game of their trilogy. From whichever angle it was viewed, this free downloadable addition to the current game was a direct response to months of criticism directed at the game’s plot holes, inconsistencies and sloppy design – all elements that even the creators themselves came to admit needed clarification lest the confusion continue.
Many have found these revised and expanded endings to be satisfactory (if not outright brilliant) additions to the Mass Effect lore, which is no doubt a good thing. I however will have to admit right out of the gates – before the tenor of my response drifts into inevitable sorrow – that I was not one of those people. So if you are (quite understandably) sick of hearing people whine about these endings, it might be a good idea to pass on by right now…
Many (myself included), had criticised the game’s original ending for its thematic, character and logical inconsistencies, and although a great deal of effort was exerted to justify these problems in the new cut, it is odd to note that so many narrative absurdities still litter the work – this time arguably even more pronounced as they work overtime to clear up the jarring details left hanging the first time around.
Now, crewmates that were once somehow mysteriously transported onto the Normandy are shown in the process of being bundled onboard – despite the fact that this involves the ship parking itself right directly front of a giant Reaper, a creature that was spewing a volley of devastating lasers that were only moments before annihilating objects as small as scampering humans with surgical precision. The Reaper, Harbinger, seems to take a mystifying coffee break while Shepard evacuates her team: ‘No, you guys have your conversation. I’m just gonna fill in this crossword for a minute and – Oh? You’re done? Well: Laser! Laser! BLAM! Mmwoah Ha Haaaa…‘
Similarly the ship’s pilot Joker no longer runs off during the battle and abandons you without a reason; he is shown being ordered to do so by Admiral Hackett because – well, because… Just because. You know what Admirals are like. And although Joker looks momentarily conflicted, fan-favourite character Garrus leans over the console to agree with the call and tell him to scram. So now you are no longer abandoned by the guy who earlier in the game promised never to leave you, you’re also abandoned by the guy who promised that he’d walk into hell with you and order a beer. So that’s two people off the Christmas list.
Perhaps the most extraordinary addition to the work, however, is the further elucidation of the Catalyst character. Previously your standard deus ex machina (literally a God from a Machine) through expanded conversational choices he is now revealed to be a sociopathic Artificial Intelligence, designed several eons ago to solve the ‘inevitable’ problem of synthetics and organics eventually slaughtering one another. Having watched The Matrix and Terminator 2: Judgement Day one too many times, the Catalyst used his dispassionate machine logic and decided that the best way to stop the bloodshed was to just kill all advanced species himself and save them all the time. He therefore rolled out a swarm of killer space-locust who turned everyone to goo, and to make ever more machines of slaughter out of their remains. You know, as you do.
Click “next” below to read part 2…