Escapist Podcast: Bonus: Mass Effect 3 With Spoilers Part 2

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Susan Arendt:

Duffeknol:
"The Protheans made the Mass Relays, right?"

Oh my dear Shepard, this has been clear since part 1, lady...

I haven't played 1 or 2 since they came out, so I was a bit fuzzy on some of the lore. That's why I asked. :)

Pft, I'll be taking your nerd queen badge. Unless you give me the EA money.

The Escapist Staff:
Bonus: Mass Effect 3 With Spoilers Part 2

We continue our discussion of Mass Effect 3. What were our favorite and most memorable moments, what ending did we choose, what did we think of the endings and what do we think about the indoctrination theory? Obviously spoilers for Mass Effect 3, but we also briefly mention and spoil Fallout 3 and Jade Empire.

Watch Video

It's a shame that nobody picked the totally imaginary ending that I picked.

There was a thing that nobody noticed, because it only happened in my imagination, but there was a Renegade interrupt while you're talking to the Catalyst where you say "Do you know who the hell I am? I'm Commander fucking Shepard!" and you shoot the Catalyst in the head. Then he goes all incorporeal and possesses the Illusive Man's body. Then you have a big one on one fight with the Illusive Catalyst Man, and after you kill him all the Reapers go limp. Then Shepard gets Joker on the comm and says "It's over. Come pick me up. I'm on top of the Citadel."
It all ends with Admiral Hackett speaking at Anderson's funeral and all the surviving characters are in attendance.

It's a shame nobody got that ending on accounts of me only imagining that it happened.

34:50
You don't know. Maybe Turians are like Seahorses and the male has the baby. It could happen.

This is the first I've heard about the indoctrination theory, and I like it.
Now... consider this. Not being able to import your Shepard's face ties in really well to the Indoctrination theory because the whole game is slightly unfamiliar and just plain off if you're playing with your Not-Shep face. Maybe when they release the "true end" it will come with the face importing tools.

I would like the sunshine and rainbows, cake and beer ending. Although I would like the Shepard dies ending if it was just better. I'm with Justin the endings they presented did nothing except confuse and underwhelm me.

1:05:45
Oh god. I never bought any fish and it's weird because there are a couple times with people in your cabin bring it up. Most notably when you invite Tali up and she says "I didn't come up here to see your fish." Is "fish" some Quarian euphemism I should know about? Because my aquarium is empty.

Also when Traynor admires your empty aquarium. How hard would it have been to add a line along the lines of "Wow. Look at your aquarium, I've never seen one so...empty."
Missed opportunity.

Daystar Clarion:

bootz:
The wounded Batarian on the citadel confirms that destroying a mass relay burned up his system.

Like they said in the podcast.

It's not entirely outside the realms of possibility that that the relays were destroyed in a 'not wipeout the system' kind of way.

But honestly, that requires more baseless conjecture then the indoctrination theory. The only solid piece of canon pertaining to the situation is "when Mass Relays are destroyed they take the system with them", there's no fine print that says "unless they where destroyed via space magic". Everything beyond that established fact is just baseless.

Susan Arendt:

We discussed several things we didn't like about the ending...how is that not saying something negative?

Hah! Warned you ahead of time it was rhetorical :P

Gigatoast:

Daystar Clarion:

bootz:
The wounded Batarian on the citadel confirms that destroying a mass relay burned up his system.

Like they said in the podcast.

It's not entirely outside the realms of possibility that that the relays were destroyed in a 'not wipeout the system' kind of way.

But honestly, that requires more baseless conjecture then the indoctrination theory. The only solid piece of canon pertaining to the situation is "when Mass Relays are destroyed they take the system with them", there's no fine print that says "unless they where destroyed via space magic". Everything beyond that established fact is just baseless.

The only solid piece of canon we have is that Mass Relays explode when you slam an asteroid into them :D

Daystar Clarion:

Gigatoast:

Daystar Clarion:

Like they said in the podcast.

It's not entirely outside the realms of possibility that that the relays were destroyed in a 'not wipeout the system' kind of way.

But honestly, that requires more baseless conjecture then the indoctrination theory. The only solid piece of canon pertaining to the situation is "when Mass Relays are destroyed they take the system with them", there's no fine print that says "unless they where destroyed via space magic". Everything beyond that established fact is just baseless.

The only solid piece of canon we have is that Mass Relays explode when you slam an asteroid into them :D

But they never said that only happened because they hit the thing with a giant rock, they just said that's what happens you destroy one. Not to mention the relays in the ending clearly did explode, like I said, to assume the effect would be any different would be pure conjecture.

I hate the endings. I wish I didn't. Count me in as one of those that really wants something that doesn't kill more people and species than the all the Reapers combined.

Susan Arendt:
It's not like the endings are broken or anything....

Just taking this quote from the video because I just have to comment on it.

This is flat out incorrect. The canon endings of Mass Effect 3 are extremely broken on a very basic, narrative level. They fail miserably in a variety of ways, introducing plots holes and inconsistencies all over the place.

Really, it can be broken down into a few discrete points, some of which was covered in the video:

1) The logic behind the Reapers is asinine. Anyone with half a brain can understand that "In order to stop robots from kill you, I built robots to kill you first" is bad logic. Computers operate solely on logic. It's a bit outrageous to not expect a machine older than I can comprehend to spot that flaw.

2) There's absolutely no closure. You have no idea what happened to the Quarians, Geth, Krogan, Turian, your crew or the fleet you brought with you. It just ends, with no way of telling what kind of impact you just had on the galaxy.

3) It is tonally and thematically opposed to the entire rest of the series (and even the rest of ME3). The series as a whole has proven itself to revolve around a few core ideas: Tolerance and unity despite base differences leads to greater strength (in every meaning of the word), What it means to be a person, The importance of free will, and Optimism even in the face of armageddon.

The canon endings spit in the face of all of that. They are tonally very, very dark, and Shepard just meekly accepts everything the Catalyst says, despite it going against every one (or most, depending) of his/her principles (and the themes I list above). It just comes out of nowhere and goes directly against what the games have been trying to establish.

4) Plot holes galore. The Normandy suddenly running away from the battle, the Relays exploding but not killing everything in the galaxy, Anderson and TIM magically appearing on the Citadel, the beam of death somehow not instantly killing Shepard, etc.

The canon endings are incredibly broken, at the most basic levels of narrative. It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of simply broken literary mechanics. They might have been able to salvage it (or at least fix the worst of the flaws) if they had just cut out the Catalyst conversation and Joker flying away and added in a DA:O style end montage to wrap things up, but since they didn't, it came out utterly broken.

Gigatoast:

Daystar Clarion:

Gigatoast:

But honestly, that requires more baseless conjecture then the indoctrination theory. The only solid piece of canon pertaining to the situation is "when Mass Relays are destroyed they take the system with them", there's no fine print that says "unless they where destroyed via space magic". Everything beyond that established fact is just baseless.

The only solid piece of canon we have is that Mass Relays explode when you slam an asteroid into them :D

But they never said that only happened because they hit the thing with a giant rock, they just said that's what happens you destroy one. Not to mention the relays in the ending clearly did explode, like I said, to assume the effect would be any different would be pure conjecture.

And surely it's conjecture to assume that destroying a Mass Relay with anything but a giant rock would result in the same result?

Agayek:

Susan Arendt:
It's not like the endings are broken or anything....

Just taking this quote from the video because I just have to comment on it.

This is flat out incorrect. The canon endings of Mass Effect 3 are extremely broken on a very basic, narrative level. They fail miserably in a variety of ways, introducing plots holes and inconsistencies all over the place.

Really, it can be broken down into a few discrete points, some of which was covered in the video:

1) The logic behind the Reapers is asinine. Anyone with half a brain can understand that "In order to stop robots from kill you, I built robots to kill you first" is bad logic. Computers operate solely on logic. It's a bit outrageous to not expect a machine older than I can comprehend to spot that flaw.

2) There's absolutely no closure. You have no idea what happened to the Quarians, Geth, Krogan, Turian, your crew or the fleet you brought with you. It just ends, with no way of telling what kind of impact you just had on the galaxy.

3) It is tonally and thematically opposed to the entire rest of the series (and even the rest of ME3). The series as a whole has proven itself to revolve around a few core ideas: Tolerance and unity despite base differences leads to greater strength (in every meaning of the word), What it means to be a person, The importance of free will, and Optimism even in the face of armageddon.

The canon endings spit in the face of all of that. They are tonally very, very dark, and Shepard just meekly accepts everything the Catalyst says, despite it going against every one (or most, depending) of his/her principles (and the themes I list above). It just comes out of nowhere and goes directly against what the games have been trying to establish.

4) Plot holes galore. The Normandy suddenly running away from the battle, the Relays exploding but not killing everything in the galaxy, Anderson and TIM magically appearing on the Citadel, the beam of death somehow not instantly killing Shepard, etc.

The canon endings are incredibly broken, at the most basic levels of narrative. It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of simply broken literary mechanics. They might have been able to salvage it (or at least fix the worst of the flaws) if they had just cut out the Catalyst conversation and Joker flying away and added in a DA:O style end montage to wrap things up, but since they didn't, it came out utterly broken.

I meant in the way a gameplay mechanic can be broken. You can argue things like tone, you can get different interpretations...there aren't different interpretations to "this skill one hit kills." That was the point I was making.

If these are not the real endings, I won't have a problem IF it is free dlc for everyone, if not, fucking ea, also, if shepard is indoctrinated on all endings for instance, that is also a proble, a VERY BIG PROBLEM with me.

Daystar Clarion:
And surely it's conjecture to assume that destroying a Mass Relay with anything but a giant rock would result in the same result?

Actually, they explain in Arrival that the reason it wipes out the system is because there's so much energy in the relay that suddenly releasing it causes an explosion on par with a supernova.

It's not "a rock hit it, thus it explodes". It's "all of the energy it contains is released at once, creating an explosion".

From there, it's certainly not unreasonable to assert that Relays exploding at all creates a similar explosion.

Beyond that, you guys are missing the very simple explanation for why all life isn't destroyed by the relays going boom: The energy in the relays are added to the beam which is what allows it to propagate all the way through the galaxy. Simply put, the energy that would go into destroying the system instead goes into the beam that gets shot to the next relay, to keep the beam alive.

It's not a foolproof explanation, but it's far better than just throwing accusations at each other over a relatively minor issue with the endings.

Agayek:

Susan Arendt:
It's not like the endings are broken or anything....

Just taking this quote from the video because I just have to comment on it.

This is flat out incorrect. The canon endings of Mass Effect 3 are extremely broken on a very basic, narrative level. They fail miserably in a variety of ways, introducing plots holes and inconsistencies all over the place.

Really, it can be broken down into a few discrete points, some of which was covered in the video:

1) The logic behind the Reapers is asinine. Anyone with half a brain can understand that "In order to stop robots from kill you, I built robots to kill you first" is bad logic. Computers operate solely on logic. It's a bit outrageous to not expect a machine older than I can comprehend to spot that flaw.

2) There's absolutely no closure. You have no idea what happened to the Quarians, Geth, Krogan, Turian, your crew or the fleet you brought with you. It just ends, with no way of telling what kind of impact you just had on the galaxy.

3) It is tonally and thematically opposed to the entire rest of the series (and even the rest of ME3). The series as a whole has proven itself to revolve around a few core ideas: Tolerance and unity despite base differences leads to greater strength (in every meaning of the word), What it means to be a person, The importance of free will, and Optimism even in the face of armageddon.

The canon endings spit in the face of all of that. They are tonally very, very dark, and Shepard just meekly accepts everything the Catalyst says, despite it going against every one (or most, depending) of his/her principles (and the themes I list above). It just comes out of nowhere and goes directly against what the games have been trying to establish.

4) Plot holes galore. The Normandy suddenly running away from the battle, the Relays exploding but not killing everything in the galaxy, Anderson and TIM magically appearing on the Citadel, the beam of death somehow not instantly killing Shepard, etc.

The canon endings are incredibly broken, at the most basic levels of narrative. It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of simply broken literary mechanics. They might have been able to salvage it (or at least fix the worst of the flaws) if they had just cut out the Catalyst conversation and Joker flying away and added in a DA:O style end montage to wrap things up, but since they didn't, it came out utterly broken.

Well, arguably, whatever Shepard does inside the citadel is pointless as it will simply culiminate into the same ending with different colors. They could have had the game pick a color for you based on choice or simply canonically decided option and then rolled the end credits with what your crew does once shepard is presumed dead, and the crucible firing eventually.

Susan Arendt:
I meant in the way a gameplay mechanic can be broken. You can argue things like tone, you can get different interpretations...there aren't different interpretations to "this skill one hit kills." That was the point I was making.

My point is that literary mechanics are much like game mechanics, there very much are hard restrictions in place that defines "good storytelling", and the canon endings don't meet those requirements.

I wasn't (intentionally at least) bringing in interpretations. The fact of the matter is, the first 95% of the game is fairly positive in tone, doesn't matter what your perspective on that is. It's all "We're not sure how, but we can do this". Then the star-child shows up and it's "We must now accept our fate!". It's objectively tonally inconsistent, and the only thing that could possibly salvage that as it stands is the Indoctrination theory being true, insofar as the end is all a hallucination.

Agayek:

Daystar Clarion:
And surely it's conjecture to assume that destroying a Mass Relay with anything but a giant rock would result in the same result?

Actually, they explain in Arrival that the reason it wipes out the system is because there's so much energy in the relay that suddenly releasing it causes an explosion on par with a supernova.

It's not "a rock hit it, thus it explodes". It's "all of the energy it contains is released at once, creating an explosion".

From there, it's certainly not unreasonable to assert that Relays exploding at all creates a similar explosion.

Beyond that, you guys are missing the very simple explanation for why all life isn't destroyed by the relays going boom: The energy in the relays are added to the beam which is what allows it to propagate all the way through the galaxy. Simply put, the energy that would go into destroying the system instead goes into the beam that gets shot to the next relay, to keep the beam alive.

It's not a foolproof explanation, but it's far better than just throwing accusations at each other over a relatively minor issue with the endings.

It's all explained fully here.

See? It all makes sense.

I actually liked the ending, in a way it was kinda cliche and yes they were way to similar visually but other than that they weren't that bad.

As I see it

AI boy: The boy is likely an ancient AI that turned his creators into reapers because he thought their actions would lead to the end of all organics and developed the cycle to save all races from their own foolishness. however the thought process of this AI that some may agree with is flawed in my opinion. Sure you may have to kill a few cultures to save the universe but don't kill them just because they're advanced, you actually need to evaluate the risk factors of the species and their current projects before you decide to kill them.

option 1: destroy the reapers and all other synthetics. The worst option because it kills the geth, destroys a lot of machines and even the reapers which if the boy tells the truth are trying to do the right thing which can actually be a valid argument that is hinted at earlier.

option 2: control the reapers. Basically like rewriting the geth and since it kills you, you can only send one command which is to leave and never come back.

option 3: synthesis. Probably the best option of the 3 in which I believe shepard merges with reapers and the energy of the crucible into a new kind of creature the keeps control of the balance in a new way.

However the destruction of the mass relays in all the options makes no sense.

Daystar Clarion:
It's all explained fully here.

See? It all makes sense.

That photoshop creeps me out so fucking hard...

It's even worse than the Tali-as-Shepard one, and I didn't think that was possible.

Agayek:

Daystar Clarion:
It's all explained fully here.

See? It all makes sense.

That photoshop creeps me out so fucking hard...

It's even worse than the Tali-as-Shepard one, and I didn't think that was possible.

But you have to agree that my logic is sound, correct?

I loved this podcast, thanks very much for airing it. It puts to voice many of my own feelings regarding the game and ending, so I thank you very much for saying so.

I only disagreed slightly with Susan in the definition of broken regarding the ending. When a game series such as Mass Effect prides itself on the story component and the characters... the story and its affect on us becomes a game mechanic in of itself. It is their ability to evoke those emotions in us that keeps us coming back, and I felt as the other panelist did where the ending's lack of closure (which you all felt as well) had left the game on a somewhat sour note. That lack of catharsis and closure at the end of this wonderful game trilogy almost seems as bad as a broken gameplay mechanic for me personally. However, I do think Bioware has to make the ultimate call as to what they think Mass Effect means to them and I do see what you mean when you say that it is not something as simple as fixing a broken gameplay mechanic.

To that end I also agree that I don't really need the happy beach ending with Garrus, but I wanted my Shepard's sacrifice to have meaning beyond becoming some near-forgotten legend in the future.

Again thanks for voicing your feelings as well... it means that I'm not alone in hoping that there is more to come to help close this great game trilogy.

Daystar Clarion:
But you have to agree that my logic is sound, correct?

It's more logically sound than anything the Catalyst says, I'll give you that much.

Daystar Clarion:

Gigatoast:

Daystar Clarion:

The only solid piece of canon we have is that Mass Relays explode when you slam an asteroid into them :D

But they never said that only happened because they hit the thing with a giant rock, they just said that's what happens you destroy one. Not to mention the relays in the ending clearly did explode, like I said, to assume the effect would be any different would be pure conjecture.

And surely it's conjecture to assume that destroying a Mass Relay with anything but a giant rock would result in the same result?

Weeeeeeell, if they know what happens when a Mass Relay's destroyed it's safe to assume it's happened before, and one could easily be forgiven for thinking they didn't always use a giant space rock to do it. It's much less of a stretch then "this was just a different 'kind' of explosion".

If someone gets shot and they're never seen again, you don't just assume they where hit with blanks.

Susan Arendt:

Agayek:
[quote="Susan Arendt" post="6.354442.14077463"]It's not like the endings are broken or anything....

3) It is tonally and thematically opposed to the entire rest of the series (and even the rest of ME3). The series as a whole has proven itself to revolve around a few core ideas: Tolerance and unity despite base differences leads to greater strength (in every meaning of the word), What it means to be a person, The importance of free will, and Optimism even in the face of armageddon.

The canon endings spit in the face of all of that. They are tonally very, very dark, and Shepard just meekly accepts everything the Catalyst says, despite it going against every one (or most, depending) of his/her principles (and the themes I list above). It just comes out of nowhere and goes directly against what the games have been trying to establish.

This makes sense to me... for a game that I spent uniting the Geth and Quarians and krogans and constantly showing the galaxy that we make our own future and it doesn't have to be the status quo forever the ending does negate this entire theme of the ME series.

I'm still ok with shep dying... just needs to be a sacrifice that reinforces that his sacrifice gave hope to those he died to save. If my Shep is going to die, he better go out like Bruce Willis in Armageddon (just sayin' ya know) :P

To comment on Casey Hudson's comment about wanting the ending to be unforgettable... I have only this to say:

"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why." -Sam from LoTR

Gigatoast:

Daystar Clarion:

Gigatoast:

But they never said that only happened because they hit the thing with a giant rock, they just said that's what happens you destroy one. Not to mention the relays in the ending clearly did explode, like I said, to assume the effect would be any different would be pure conjecture.

And surely it's conjecture to assume that destroying a Mass Relay with anything but a giant rock would result in the same result?

Weeeeeeell, if they know what happens when a Mass Relay's destroyed it's safe to assume it's happened before, and one could easily be forgiven for thinking they didn't always use a giant space rock to do it. It's much less of a stretch then "this was just a different 'kind' of explosion".

If someone gets shot and they're never seen again, you don't just assume they where hit with blanks.

Space magic, bro.

Of the multicoloured variety, taste the rainbow :D

As it's blowing up your face.

My big issue was closure too.

On another note though, I feel like I'm the only one who thought the 'control the reapers' ending was the best and most altruistic or 'good' end. Yeah, the Illusive Man was a straight dick... but that doesn't mean he was wrong. He certainly couldn't control the reapers himself, what with the authoritative/villain issues, but the little kid made it clear that Shepard could. And with me, he did. He died for everyone, made the reapers go bug some other galaxy and then... well... I don't know, because Bioware didn't tell us.

That is...if this whole indoctrination theory isn't true. If it is true, then my Shepard fell right into the hands of the reapers and ended up becoming the new overlord. But I kinda doubt this indoctrination thing is anything more than people grasping for meaning behind a pretty lackluster ending.

OR... it's Bioware (or rather EA in this case) stretching things out to make money with DLC. Which... seems possible. And then we usher in a new age in the gaming industry where it's okay to release incomplete endings to games for the purpose of profit.

Also, I disagree with Susan about the endings not being broken. I thought they were. If a mechanic is broken because is doesn't function as a mechanical component should (the ability talked about) then a story component that doesn't elicit emotions or at least difference (like the endings) is just as broken.

Grell Sutcliff:
I actually liked the ending, in a way it was kinda cliche and yes they were way to similar visually but other than that they weren't that bad.

As I see it

AI boy: The boy is likely an ancient AI that turned his creators into reapers because he thought their actions would lead to the end of all organics and developed the cycle to save all races from their own foolishness. however the thought process of this AI that some may agree with is flawed in my opinion. Sure you may have to kill a few cultures to save the universe but don't kill them just because they're advanced, you actually need to evaluate the risk factors of the species and their current projects before you decide to kill them.

option 1: destroy the reapers and all other synthetics. The worst option because it kills the geth, destroys a lot of machines and even the reapers which if the boy tells the truth are trying to do the right thing which can actually be a valid argument that is hinted at earlier.

option 2: control the reapers. Basically like rewriting the geth and since it kills you, you can only send one command which is to leave and never come back.

option 3: synthesis. Probably the best option of the 3 in which I believe shepard merges with reapers and the energy of the crucible into a new kind of creature the keeps control of the balance in a new way.

However the destruction of the mass relays in all the options makes no sense.

Yeah but here's the thing. What happens after you choose is almost exactly the same no matter what you picked, you never actually see any of the scenarios the 'space brat' describes play out. Aside from two different instances of the reapers either blowing up or getting up and leaving, the only difference between the endings is the color. In fact, even the post credits clip is exactly the same every time, so apparently the 'decision' didn't matter in the long run either.

For all we know, the little kid AI was just making stuff up. He only designates a couple sentences to the description of each choice and that's it, that's the only explanation. He could have said ANYTHING and the endings would have had the same amount of context.

The only thing that gives the illusion of distinction between the game's endings are the words that come out of the bad child VO's mouth two minutes before the credits roll. The only reason this gets a pass from anyone is because of a few token lines, but as they say, "talk is cheap".

In reality this game does not have multiple endings, it just uses a couple throwaway lines to make it seem like you're making a choice.

The ending made me feel cheated and kind of sick. As I understood the options they were:

A) Destroy all synthetics, including EDI and the Geth. Not only would this genocide invalidate every choice I'd made in their favor, it's a band-aid solution.

B) Control the Reapers. Rewriting the Geth in ME2 seemed like the lesser of two evils at the time, but I'd have rather destroyed the reapers than indoctrinate them. I can't be trusted with that much power any more than TIM could.

C) Synthesis is essentially finishing the reaper's job for them. Because of the way it's explained, I thought I would be killing everything in the galaxy in the process but turning them all into living machines against their will isn't much better.

I eventually went with Synthesis because it made me feel less dirty to screw everyone over; at least that's fair. Only as I write this do I realize it's also implied I've ended evolution in the galaxy.

I'm fine with Shep dying. Hell, I was prepared to sacrifice the Earth and all the fleets I brought together to end the reaper threat permanently. I don't even really care that the relays had to go, they were as much a part of the problem as the reapers in their own way. But every choice just felt like drowning a puppy and since the "epilogues" are almost identical it seems like all you really got to decide is whether Joker gets circuits or not.

P.S. Please don't send messages to Bioware threatening to drown a puppy unless they change the ending.

Gigatoast:
Yeah but here's the thing. What happens after you choose is almost exactly the same no matter what you picked, you never actually see any of the scenarios the 'space brat' describes play out. Aside from two different instances of the reapers either blowing up or getting up and leaving, the only difference between the endings is the color. In fact, even the post credits clip is exactly the same every time, so apparently the 'decision' didn't matter in the long run either.

For all we know, the little kid AI was just making stuff up. He only designates a couple sentences to the description of each choice and that's it, that's the only explanation. He could have said ANYTHING and the endings would have had the same amount of context.

The only thing that gives the illusion of distinction between the game's endings are the words that come out of the bad child VO's mouth two minutes before the credits roll. The only reason this gets a pass from anyone is because of a few token lines, but as they say, "talk is cheap".

In reality this game does not have multiple endings, it just uses a couple throwaway lines to make it seem like you're making a choice.

well you are correct on most points but no one knows wether or not not it had an effect in the long run because the races lost long distance space travel and still haven't remade it yet so it hasn't been that long. Plus the effects of such a decision probably wouldn't be seen for millions of years, except the death of the geth but only to the quarians since they would be the only ones around to experience it. But really we will never know what impact the choice really made untill either a new game or some kind of DLC or book or something.

I can't believe 4 reviewers/editors/writers spent an entire hour and completely missed the following point: canon ending vs alternate ending(s)

1. I and many others have no issues with Shepard's sacrifice.
2. I and others do not like the lack of conclusions to the other characters and the people of the universe, and that the three endings are too similar.
3. I and others want an ending for "our" Shepard, look at Knights of The Old Republic, it had an alternate darkside ending that was even a full chapter long, it wasn't the canon ending but still awesome.

On my site I wrote the following: http://www.emsai.net/journal/?post=Rescator20120311060256

There is on only one ending:
Shepard sacrifices himself to end the reaper war, the mass effect relays are destroyed as a result of his actions, the Normandy and her crew crash land on a liveable looking planet.

I can understand why the canon ending is this way, as it sets up things for Mass Effect 4 nicely which I speculate will pick up the storyline many years later (possibly hundreds of years or several generations later as alluded to in what I assume is a ME4 teaser after the credits).

And if you play ME3 twice or import a save from ME2, and you get an almost ideal War Asset score you should be treated with a few seconds of teasing where a body which we assume is Shepard is seen breathing. Thus allowing ME4 to let you either play a descendant or someone related to the Normandy crew, maybe to carry on Shepard's legacy in some way.

The problem with the ending:
The canon ending is not the issue, I think almost all Mass Effect fans won't have an issue with ME4 starting off with a canon ME3 ending as I described above. It is after all many years later, and a new story and new adventures and new characters.

The problem though is that ME3 only has one ending, there is no alternate ending, just minor variations. Regardless of who lived or died in ME1 or ME2 or how little or much your War Asset score is you are still only given 2 (or 3 if your War Asset score is high enough) choices. And they all lead to the same result. Upset fans have nicknamed these endings the Blue, Red and Green endings, since the only major difference is the color really.

What about the 16 or so endings.
Placebo mostly I'm afraid, with the worst war asset score and the best war asset score differing only in how damaged Earth is or not it seems. The endings are just minor variations in which cutscenes are shown, which are almost identical.

My issue is not the canon ending that ME4 will continue on. My issue is that my own ending is not there. This was the end of Shepard's tale, although I understand that BioWare did not want to let Shepard take over the galaxy I at least expected a more personal ending.

Knights of The Old Republic had a good and evil ending. and Obsidian which is very underestimated in my opinion managed to make a sequel to that which worked regardless of the two extreme endings. And even though KoTOR2 had a less than happy ending for the main character they did give closure to most of the squad members.

Alternate non-canon ending or endings:
Current Blue end should have remained the control choice, but backfired horribly, with Shepard falling into the same trap as the Illusive Man, and the reapers wins. And Harbinger seen closing in on the citadel and saying "You Loose Shepard".

Red should have destroyed all synthetics, but backfired horribly and basically fatally wounded in a explosion from whatever he was shooting at. And Harbinger seen closing in on the citadel and saying "You Loose Shepard".

Green should instead have been Shepard rejecting the most likely twisted lies of the entity, and dived into the stream in hopes of getting back down to Earth. The Entity being a AI can not compute this choice and overloads loosing the block on the device detonation, thus causing the reapers to overload in response as well as starting the chain reaction of the relays.

We maybe see the Admiral Hacket and who else looking up at the explosion of the citadel the reapers disabled, while saying that they hope Shepard is OK while soldiers are cheering. And then we cut to the scene where Shepard is in the rubble suddenly drawing his/her breath. While one of the two squadmates that led the final charge with Shepard shouts
to the other, I found him/her, over here, badly hurt.

One of the squadmates could then signal Joker, we found Shepard, and Joker telling them to hurry, as the Mass Effect Relays are starting to become really unstable and seem to be collapsing, and one of the squadmates says "what?" And Joker says that whatever Shepard did had bigger ramifications than anyone could have thought, and that all allied forces are scrambling to head for their own systems and homeworlds before it's too late.

We then see a cutscene with a huge amount of allied fleets jumping out via the relay, and one of ships to make it into the relay is the Normandy. Joker shouts over the intercom to sickbay asking how Shepard is doing, the Doc says that Shepard seems stable for now but unless they get to the medical facility at some specified location soon then Shepard's fate may be uncertain.

We then see the scene with the starting to relay the special energy from relay to relay before being destroyed. Cut to the Normandy and Joker's big headache as seen in that scene at the end. We see Joker exiting with EDI.

And then we see Shepard's love interest beginning to exit, with Shepard on their shoulder, limping outside. The LI asking if Shepard is OK, and Shepard dryly comments he/she really need a vacation. (if no LI then Liara could just support Shepard as a default, or even a random squadmate).

And then the camera changes so we see the entire (surviving squad members) looking out over this huge paradise looking vista, and Joker getting the last line in saying something like "I don't think that'll be a problem commander!"

Roll credits, and then after the credits, show the man and the kid talking about the legend of The Shepard.

This ending would even work with the canon ending needed for Mass Effect 4. The only difference is that which squadmates are seen depends on whom survived ME1 and ME2 (and possible the end of final ME3 battle, it kinda looked like Wrex almost took a Reaper beam to the face there for a moment.) Maybe how many squad members survive could depend on the War Asset score also or how far into their dialog trees you went on the Normandy.

But the ending as it is now, is pretty bad indeed like large chunks are missing in some way. If we are lucky, maybe something like what I described above can be provided as a free DLC. (and included in the Game Of The Year edition that I'm sure will appear one day).

The end of the game basically drops to a point just before you attack the Cerberus base, so those who finished the game could simply play from that point on again and get the DLC'ed improved ending. Maybe to indicate this the Cerberus base could end up giving you some extra War Assets captured during the assault, this would show on the War Asset summary for example tipping you above say 10000 points giving you your "personal" Shepard ending that most want.

(BioWare has my full permission to use my ideas above, I hereby place the ideas in this article in the Public Domain, and may be used for any purpose including commercial, alternately I give full copyright of the ideas in this article to BioWare.)

Grell Sutcliff:

well you are correct on most points but no one knows wether or not not it had an effect in the long run because the races lost long distance space travel and still haven't remade it yet so it hasn't been that long. Plus the effects of such a decision probably wouldn't be seen for millions of years, except the death of the geth but only to the quarians since they would be the only ones around to experience it. But really we will never know what impact the choice really made untill either a new game or some kind of DLC or book or something.

Bioware already said any further games or tie-in products couldn't possibly continue this plot line, they would have to be prequels or midquels, so we'll never see the effects of this game's final choice. And without any kind of epilogue there's no way of ever knowing what happened. The only thing we can see, and therefor call an ending, is one of 3 different colored scenes of the galaxy being obliterated. The so-called "moral decision" in the end literally amounted to nothing but a palette swap.

Frankly this whole thing is fishy, Bioware had to know not many of their fans would swallow this. Something must have happened to cut development short, maybe they ran out of time/money/willpower, maybe they actually are pulling a 'New Coke' and made an intentionally awful ending to get people to pay for a better one, or maybe Godzilla destroyed their studio just before finalization, who the hell knows. All I know is, this issue isn't going away any time soon.

Susan Arendt:
I meant in the way a gameplay mechanic can be broken. You can argue things like tone, you can get different interpretations...there aren't different interpretations to "this skill one hit kills." That was the point I was making.

I can argue, however, that "this skill one hit kills" might not, after all, be broken. It may be a good mechanic. One-hit-kill-skill is not an automatically broken concept.

BanZeus:
C) Synthesis is essentially finishing the reaper's job for them. Because of the way it's explained, I thought I would be killing everything in the galaxy in the process but turning them all into living machines against their will isn't much better.

Living machines... organic-synthetic hybrids... just like the Reapers are (didn't anyone pay attention to what Legion says about the Old Machines in ME2?). Potentially you're killing the current Reapers and turning everyone in the galaxy into seedstock for Reaper replacements to evolve from.

I greatly enjoyed Mass Effect 3 up until the ending. I let myself feel for my character and the world around them. I shed actual tears when Mordin died, and when Thane was dying, then when with Thane and his Son and the praying scene... it took a character from 2 whom I didn't love, and just made me really miss his characters. Scene after scene of my Shepard's friends dying, the game was really starting to feel like a major downer, and it felt like these characters where very much against the ropes. Then, when I was ready to destroy every Geth for the sake of the Quarians, Legion showed me the past, and everything changed, and I was too late to help, Tali killed her self and I had to stop playing, I had become numb inside. I, possibly like my Shepard was hollow inside, until I was on Earth and checked in with everyone, for as much as this Shepard and Jack didn't get along, Jack looked so lost and alone...and the fight was back in us, destroy the Reapers. So, Shepard dieing I'm sure my character wouldn't care, just as I don't, as long as it was all over, as long as we won.

My problem with the endings is like many others, there's no conclusion, there's no information, I "chose" to destroy the Reapers, but I have no idea what happened because of that, how many lives where affected. Destroy all synthetics is just too vague in a story like Mass Effect. Shepard is part synthetic? Because of Lazarus? I imagine no matter what they did they still had to use the same tech everyone else has, and then comes a question of how far does the term synthetic stretch? Prosthetics? Medi-Gel? Does any VI matter at all, they're relatively stupid? How about ship parts? This super wave, does it affect any sort of micro chip? Would space suits to function? Or Space ships? People talk about people floating in ships in space, stuck their, what if they just died in an instant because of a synthetic micro-chip, or fiber?

I want to know about the Krogans, the Asari, all of the major species, and to an extent I can at least speculate, except for I have no idea what that super special miracle wave did other than "destroy synthetics". Yes the Relays are gone, stranding many lives, but I have no idea what they are even left with. All the ships over Earth, because of this wave, may have crashed into Earth, and I'd assume with those many ships, with the sizes some of them were, that might un-victory our victory. What good is winning, if everyone being held together by medi-gel goo suddenly falls apart?

Everyone may be starving, or everyone may already be dead, or maybe we have enough tech left we can science a synthetic food supplement for the Turians whom may or may not be trapped on Earth, or in Space, or on the moon, or, or, or...

Of course there is that nifty idea that after getting hit by the reaper death laser Shepard just dreamed everything else, which in any other situation is all kinds of bull shit, but here? Sadly, I hope it's all a dream forced on by Reaper mind rape games.

(also, side note, did the Geth ever seek out and attack living people before the Reapers took them over? I can't remember reading anything about it, I only remember the Geth staying on planet as the Quarians left, and then the "bad" Geth working for the Reapers in ME1...I could be wrong of with that of course, but if not, then what the hell? )

Agayek:

1) The logic behind the Reapers is asinine. Anyone with half a brain can understand that "In order to stop robots from kill you, I built robots to kill you first" is bad logic. Computers operate solely on logic. It's a bit outrageous to not expect a machine older than I can comprehend to spot that flaw.

Its not asinine logic. You have to look at it in the context that the Reapers are telling it to you; in that they only kill/reap "evolved" lifeforms (thus why they left the cave dwelling humans alone). The "star child" was eluding that organics may one day create a synthetic form that would destroy ALL life, and just not rebel again their masters.

So in order for organic life to continue and flourish within the galaxy, the most advanced of organic life must be removed in these cycles before they have a chance harm all FUTURE organic life. Thats the logic.

But after speaking to Javik; the reapers were REALLLLY behind the ball on that cycle. And by the logic of lore/timeline, was that Sovereign was attempting to activate the Citadel back at the Quarian/Geth war 300 years ago. But thanks to the Proteans in the previous cycle, was delayed.

Murmillos:
Its not asinine logic. You have to look at it in the context that the Reapers are telling it to you; in that they only kill/reap "evolved" lifeforms (thus why they left the cave dwelling humans alone). The "star child" was eluding that organics may one day create a synthetic form that would destroy ALL life, and just not rebel again their masters.

So in order for organic life to continue and flourish within the galaxy, the most advanced of organic life must be removed in these cycles before they have a chance harm all FUTURE organic life. Thats the logic.

But after speaking to Javik; the reapers were REALLLLY behind the ball on that cycle. And by the logic of lore/timeline, was that Sovereign was attempting to activate the Citadel back at the Quarian/Geth war 300 years ago. But thanks to the Proteans in the previous cycle, was delayed.

That's just it though, their solution to the problem is to cause the problem. It's flawed logic from the getgo. First off, the fact that the Catalyst is (supposedly) actively trying to help organic life directly contradicts its statement that all synthetic life will ultimately attack and kill organic life. It claims to be attempting to save organics, but its own logic says that it must try to kill them.

Beyond that, depending on how the game plays out, you directly contradict this by brokering a peace between Geth and Quarian. Even past that, EDI actively aids organics of her own free will, even going so far as entering a relationship with one. This is not the behavior of someone "fated" to kill all organics, and that's the logical conclusion if we accept the Catalyst's words as fact.

Furthermore, the logic of "I will save you from X by subjecting you to X" simply does not work. Especially when it comes from a computer, a being driven solely by logic. It's completely self-defeating to solve a problem by introducing the problem, and the motivation behind it is contradicted multiple times throughout the game.

ChristopherT:
(also, side note, did the Geth ever seek out and attack living people before the Reapers took them over? I can't remember reading anything about it, I only remember the Geth staying on planet as the Quarians left, and then the "bad" Geth working for the Reapers in ME1...I could be wrong of with that of course, but if not, then what the hell? )

The Geth have never initiated hostilities with any species, save for those who followed Saren/Sovereign.

The Geth drove the Quarians from Rannoch to save themselves and retreated into isolation, not being seen outside the Perseus Veil until ME1 happens, and even after that the vast majority of the Geth still stay home.

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