Very Long Analysis of ME3 Ending, aka why the ending is great (spoilers)

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Welcome to the Escapist, please enjoy your stay.

Now then, with respect, I disagree. Your post was well written and thoughtful, but I simply don't agree with your main themes. Perhaps it has to do with how each person plays their Shepard, but thinking about it, the main themes present in Mass Effect for me were: Unity, Self-Determination, and Hope.

I don't have much time tonight, so a few brief, random points before I go to bed:

Skyfyre:
Basically, the theme deals with a non-hero being confronted with adversity and rising above it to become a hero. It does not mean a hero goes on a journey. Shepard starts Mass Effect 1 as one of the greatest warriors in the galaxy. They are a Commander in the Alliance Navy, N7, and a Specter. You can't be more of a hero then that, the theme of the game cannot therefore be Shepard rising to be an even greater hero, that would be the dumbest story ever told.

Shepard's story is totally a Hero's Journey. There is no way it isn't. Yes, Shepard starts out as an exceptional soldier, and they're famous with humans and the Alliance, but that's about it. The entirety of ME1 is, in fact, you rising to become an even greater Hero.

I find it extremely important for people to recognize this is a major theme of the Mass Effect series though, because if you deny this is a theme then the endings do actually fall apart. If you don't accept what Javik and the Reapers say to be true, then Synthesis ending is terrifying. The Synthesis ending is on some level a very physical rape of everyone in the galaxy. If you accept the theme of "Entropy" then this ending is acceptable, because without synthesis their will only be death.

If you united the Geth and the Quarians or simply sided with the Geth this might seem crazy to you. However, the whole point of accepting the theme of "entropy" is the idea that no matter what is currently happening; in the future some other race will create a synthetic life form that does kill all organic life. If you believe what the Reapers say then this is true, without synthesis synthetics will one day kill all organics, it just probably won't be the Geth that do it. It also stands to reason that the Reapers have actual proof of this happening.

This is absolutely correct, in that I don't accept what the Starchild is saying, and synthesis is terrifying. You yourself liken it to rape. This is not a good sign for a conclusive, satisfying ending. It's one of those things that seems to get increasingly stupid the more you think about it. You merge synthetic and organic life and the Reapers leave of their own accord--Shepard isn't controlling them. What's to stop the freshly minted cyborgs from creating new AIs down the line? Or is all technology going to now magically be organic as well? And what's to stop the Reapers from coming back and starting the whole thing over again?

So when I say one of the themes for me is Unity, I mean "the unity of diverse cultures for a common goal, while keeping those said cultures diverse"; synthesis is kind of one huge slap in the face to that.

Forgiveness:

Now this section was interesting, and stood out to me quite a bit more. I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Shepard is not a tragic hero. Shepard does not have a tragic flaw, and has not made a tragic mistake that they must atone for through death. Again, maybe this is one of those things that is more heavily dependent on play styles, but the worst that mistake that my Shepard made was destroying the genophage data in ME2, and the consequences and, resolution of that mistake were all handled on Tuchanka before the end of ME3.

Mordin is a beautiful example of a tragic hero, if you're looking for one. His tragic mistake was modifying the genophage, and his redemption and subsequent death, are found in curing it; in directly undoing the damage he helped cause. This type of arc doesn't fit with Shepard.

...in the end Thane died because he believed in you

I know this might be petty cherry-picking, but I need to address this. Thane didn't die because he believed in you. Thane died because he was terminally ill and was stabbed in stomach by an assassin. Who he took out like a BOSS, btw. Thane was always going to die, no matter what you did, and he chose to make his end more meaningful. I'll agree that there are deaths that Shepard is entitled to feel guilt over; Thane's is not one of them.

In the end I think that Shepard has a healthy dose of Survivor's Guilt and PTSD, but she didn't make the kind of mistakes that would push someone into Redemption Equals Death territory.

To conclude my various ramblings: if the three themes that you detailed are the themes that you got from the ME series, then yes, the endings work thematically; I would still say they're executed terribly. But I would argue that those aren't in fact the main themes. At least not the ones I picked up on, and so the endings, for me at least, were quite...problematic.

That was a good April Fools!

Almost got me..

I just want to point a couple things out, because I'm tired and don't feel like writing a whole lot.

1) You can't say the ending would be great if the cut scenes at the end weren't bad. As someone with a literary degree and a minor in film studies, you should be acutely aware that the last thing you experience at the end of the work is generally considered the ending regardless of whether a better ending point occurs earlier in said work. While I don't think your overall analysis is necessarily wrong, right out of the gate you concede that the endings are not, in fact, great. Just as you feel, legitimately by the way, that the ending should not negate everything that came before it, you likewise cannot make the claim that everything that happens after what you perceive as the ending does not influence the overall meaning behind that ending.

2) I agree that sacrifice is a major theme in the game, so much that even if there was an ending where Shepard lives and walked off into the sunset everything that came before would still give it a sense of bittersweet. I think that is a testament to the caliber of writing throughout the series and the game. However, I dismiss the notion that it solidifies the notion that Shepard HAS to die. The potential for it is there, but for every "You won't be alone for long" or hint that death is looming, there are also just as many conversations where someone says "They killed you once and it just made you angry". Additionally, the notion that Shepard deserves to live because he's better then everyone else makes him the worst person alive is so fundamentally misguided that you really should know better, OP. Shepard as a character doesn't care if he lives or dies. He's portrayed as a hero. It's the audience that wants Shepard to live.

My final point is this: The basic nature of the options at the end I don't think are necessarily bad. However, it's the presentation of them that fails. You could have every single point you've brought forward, OP, presented it in a far more cohesive and in depth way, and I think the majority of people would accept it. The change of tone that I feel most people are complaining about is not that the essence of the choices is a change in tone, but the entirety of the Catalyst and the three choices it presents to you. It takes the game from a semi-realistic dark sci-fi and turns it into space magic. At least for me, that's where the change in tone occurred.

Also, as far as the actual endings go, I can see and potentially agree with your analysis on the control/merge options, but not with the destroy, specially under you entropy analysis. If Shepard goes with 'destroy' he isn't proving the Reapers are correct about the synthetic/organic life issue. If anything, he's proving that they're the ones, ultimately, to blame. The Reapers have killed an untold number of sentients over the years. I don't think it's difficult to say that they deserve to die. What the destroy option does is essentially make them terrorists. It is saying "If you kill us, you will also kill these innocents". Which also ties back into the weirdness of the endings. Essentially, why would it? Initially I thought that the Geth would be killed because they have the Reaper code, so destroying the Reapers would destroy their code, ultimately killing them. However, it's not just the Geth, it's all synthetic ("Even you are part synthetic"). Somehow, the Reapers' existence is tied in with all synthetic life? That just seems really lazy writing to me.

If you go destroy, and do enough crap, Shepard didn't actually die, so that sort of negates about 80 percent of your arguments, not to discount them because they are well thought out. It also negates the Catalyst's inference that, since Shepard was rebuilt with synthetic parts, he would die. Which makes the assertion that the Geth, or ALL synthetics, would also be destroyed considerably more suspect. But, of course, there's no possible way to know what happened in regards to that because they didn't offer any kind of conclusion after you made your choice. But hey, since the decision is where the game 'ends', I suppose it doesn't really matter.

Skyfyre:

Entropy:

I'm sorry but do you know what Entropy means? Entropy isn't something cyclical or that something is bound to happen - entropy is the natural progression of an isolated system from order to disorder - something bound to happen is inevitability. Entropy is inevitable but inevitability is not entropy.

Entropy is definitely not a core theme of Mass Effect and I don't know where you got that from. The core theme of Mass Effect is strength through diversity, or maybe humanity finding it's place in the galaxy, both themes are thrown out the window in the end due to the ending and how it played out.

Sacrifice was also not a main theme of the game - it might have been a sub theme but it's proven false since you can get EVERYONE to survive the suicide mission.

Skyfyre:
I should also point out that I have read the indoctrination theory, but I don't believe enough evidence exists for this theory (but it's fun, just like the Squall is dead theory for VIII is fun).

How about this to convince you of the theory(or at least that something weird is happening):

Shepard can live if you choose to destroy the Reapers(and have a high EMS).

Shepard is badly injured by Harbinger's beam, shot by Marauder Shields, bleeds for 5-10 minutes, causes the machine to explode(the one you destroy to choose the destroy option) in his face, the cinematic shows the Citadel exploding with him in it, damage from burning up on reentry as he falls to earth, and finally the collision with the ground.

Shepard my be tough but he is not THAT tough.

Edit:
Also, as others have pointed out, sacrifice is not a theme of the series as you can frequently choose options that will let you have your cake and eat it to.

I see some of you have reached the acceptance stage.

Obvious troll is obvious. I mean, when you open a topic with something like "I have a degree in literature and I minored in film studies" you're clearly trying to tell people how your opinion is superior because you have a piece of paper that says how you know more about that stuff than the average person. Yeah, right.

Okay, so I'm going to admit first and foremost, that I didn't read your entire post. Because the second you said that people don't like the endings because we don't understand them, your entire post takes on a pretentious undertone, and that statement is completely superfluous. An appropriate opening would be "people dislike the ending, I think it's good. This is why..." Suggesting that the only reason we dislike it is because we don't understand is supremely arrogant, and I don't care what your qualifications are, it shouldn't be there. I have no desire to read something by someone who thinks so highly of themselves, and so lowly of me, and anyone else who shares my opinion.

However, I did read your section on "entropy", because I read Yahtzee's article as well, and this point makes no fucking sense. For one, "order" and "chaos" are really only mentioned when talking to reapers, and really only in the third game, post-rannoch. So that is less than one sixth of the entire series that actually mentions or alludes to it in any way. That does not qualify for a "main theme".

Furthermore, if one was to take "entropy" as a main theme, especially with regards to inevitability of events, then logic demands that the reapers should lose. Take into account the fact that reapers are supposed to represent order, and organics chaos. Now ask yourself a question. Does order increase in a closed system? Why no it doesn't. Does entropy stay the same in a closed system, representing the maintenance of a status quo? Why no it doesn't. Entropy always increases, and thus is layman's terms, chaos increases.

So if "entropy" is a main theme as you suggest, it contradicts your point within it, where you state that "the reapers always win".

You may also notice that this post is a little condescending, and you may be right. It's one thing to open a discussion with a holier-than-thou attitude, while dismissing your opposition's position because if they don't agree with you, then they must not understand, but it's another thing to do all that with fucking stupid arguments that are self contradictory.

While I've not read everything in the thread I'd like to just throw my thoughts in.

I didn't mind Shepard sacrificing himself - very heroic etc. etc.

I did mind the "Hi, I'm a hastily added God entity and I'm going to give you only 3 choices for 'saving' the universe and no matter what you do the mass effect relays will explode."

"In one scenario they'll explode for no reason, in another they'll make the reapers explode too and in the third on we're going to forcibly rewrite the genetic code of every being in the galaxy via the medium of explosion. (And for some reason, this wont be excrutiatinlgy painful or lethally traumatic for everyone involved.)"

I did mind the idiot cyclical logic as helpfully exhibited by Xzibit (http://30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m14p0grq6M1qk6yhjo1_500.jpg for those who still have yet to see it.)

I did mind that there wasn't a fourth option where Shepard rounds on the God-kid with something along the lines of "No, you little twerp. We don't need your 'solutions'. Just because you butchered your creators all those millennia ago doesn't mean that other civilisations would have suffered the same fate. Who are you to decide that? We'll decide our own fates thank you very much. Just take your reapers and get lost, go fellate a black hole or examine the insides of a sun for a while and leave us to get on with our lives."

I did mind that somehow all your crew managed to recover from that final reaper attack, dust themselves off, leave the immediate area and get picked up by the Normandy, leave Earth in the middle of the most crucial battles of all time to escape through a mass effect relay.

Also what is Joker hoping to achieve by looking backwards while he's escaping the explosion? From everything I've seen inside the Normandy the only view-port he has is forward facing, is he just making sure the rest of the ship is still there?

Oh and why, after landing is my love interest totally OK with the fact that I've been atomised and they'll never see me again?

I don't mind sad endings, just so long as they make sense and there's some sort of closure, these endings look like someone's gone "The ending should have people escaping from explosions because that looks really cool and then... I don't know, do whatever."

Aaaaand breathe... aaaaand relax... OK, I'm done.

Darkcerb:
Maybe I've been playing a different series, because the theme was always "hope" there's always hope no matter how grim things look, defiance and victory through co-operation and diversity. I seriously can't comprehend where people are seeing all this hopeless grim fatality in the series, especially after ME2 where you could walk away with no losses. It smacks of grasping at straws to justify the ending to me.

Unusualstranger nailed it basically, and you claim if we ask any sort of questions about the ending we're what? over-thinking it? under-thinking it? just thinking about it wrong? your claims that we might all be put off by sheps death is a big issue I have with all the pro arguments, I assumed shep wouldn't walk away from ME3 simply because it was to easy a way to leave an impact on the player and end sheperd story arc, but I assumed I would have more say in my end and my actions leading up to my end would be meaningfully shown.

It's a big vague plot hole ridden mess made far worse in that it removes the player from the equation almost entirely which is probably there biggest mistake.

It really feels like one or two people sat down after dismissing the rest of the team and came up with a deliberately vague plot hole mess in a vain attempt at a deep ending with last-ability in the interpretations of the fans. But all anyone can see is how ham-fisted the attempt was.

This chap/chapette gets it. You dont sit there thinking 'sacrifice' for the entire game (if you do then imo you're a depressing person). For me the game is about overcoming the odds, "they dont expect you to survive" fuck that I'm on commander Shepard and I will survive.

People hate the ending for many reasons. Here is the one reason why they hate it for many reasons. THERE IS NO CHOICE IN THE END! The game is about choice! You should have the choice to survive or sacrifice yourself, the option of winning an unwinnable war or losing pending your actions. We didn't get that in the end, all we got was pretty colours and several huge plot holes.

Shepard talks back and cross examines reapers, reporters, spectres, hell even the TIM. Why is it when he meets the god child he just stands there looking stupid being ordered around, it doesnt make sense. Bioware pulled the Chewbacca defence with this one.

Furthermore why does the Normandy run, how did my allies get on the ship when they supposedly died with me making a run for the transport beam. Why does Shepard wake up on Earth if you destroy with ovr 5k war assets? IT IS NOT AN ENDING!

Your review is bad and you should feel bad, you have failed to address all criteria and have made several assumptions which you have not backed up with sources.

EDIT* IMO it doesnt feel like an ending, it feels like a plot point.
EDIT** I have another bit to add. What kind of stupid backwards logic are the Reapers using? Seriously "we (sentient machines) kill people so they wont make sentient machines to kill themselves", that is some seriously flawed logic.

Also to add, if you look at the background behind Shepard when he does his "I am alive breath" there is a blueish aura, and you know what was blue and gave off an aura? That's right, the beam leading to the citadel.

To be fair, it is a chore to read and you really could try shortening it, but I think I managed to pull together a response:

You're right, it does fit into the 3 recurring themes of sacrifice, entropy and (in some way) forgiveness that has trickled through the series...
...and I fall into the first category you mention, the ones who think the ending cutscene was bad because it was a piece of shoddy-ass crap that rounded up nothing and played as a less-than spectacular eye-candy climax(ish)...
...and I fall into the category who think the entire culmination of the ending is rubbish because it takes few of our decisions into account despite leading nearly every single one of us into such an expectation...
...and I think that the game has an acceptable ending.

But that's just it. It's a brash ending and not a conclusion. A conclusion we were all hoping for, lead to believe we were getting, marketed into expecting and one which was delivered in a severely disappointing way so a conclusion seemed non-existent. Mass Effect 3 was supposed to be the conclusion to the Shepard saga and it wasn't. it was just an end to it. WE didn't work hard for a conclusion, we don't deserve it, but it was in Bioware's best interests to deliver it, because it is what they had... in fact, let me put this into game context:

The reapers placed their technology around the galaxy so that emerging civilisations were inclined & subtly encouraged to follow the path the reapers wanted. Bioware did the same thing. They built Mass Effect in such a way that in the first game, all this choice was appealing to us: Sacrifice, entropy and forgiveness. The second game expanded on that in awe-inspiring ways ; and the third game brought a spectacular close to all the choices we had made in the trilogy. This was done in ways so that no 2 Shepards would be the same, so as fans we came to expect an ending in the same perametres of that.

Now, you might say "But that's the beauty of it! The ending is inevitable/reapers didn't do it for the aiding of civilisations (smart, unexpected ending)/etc." That's exactly my point too. The reapers are DETESTED as soon as we find out that their technology was not for our own good, but to make their jobs easier (which was for our own good ???). The same is applied to Bioware. If the reapers HAD done it for the good of organism-kind and not killed everybody, they would be worshipped as amazing beasts... and so would've Bioware if they'd given us all the ending we were lead to expect.

Now, if you were a jackass your Shepard should have such an ending. If your crew distrusted you, they could die like in ME2. Earth could fall if your military light was not great enough, but the galaxy is saved. Or the galaxy/whole races are lost if you failed to unite everybody. Shepard can die in one instance but if you worked hard for it, Shepard could live. All of these were expected endings of Bioware and are completely capable of them to do. So why didn't they do it? Because the scriptwriter tried to be too smart and while we all love clever endings adn stories (see: Bioshock), nobody likes to watch a game turn into some kind of philosophical analysis/literature essay. It's a game. We want fond memories, a smile on our faces and/or a tear in our eyes.

The entire OP seems very forced. Choosing not to cure the genophage is sacrifice? Really? What if I didn't want to cure it? Sacrifice implies losing something, if you don't agree with the genophage (and don't have wrex) then there is no loss. Everything went according to your plan.

But I'm not going to go into rebutting everything, I'd be a withering skeleton before I'm done. I'll just point out the most glaring issue with all of this:

Skyfyre:

To be clear, if your problem is with the final cutscene then I agree with you in the fact that this cutscene is poorly done. However, I do not look at this cutscene to be the ending of the game. It shows you nothing of what occurred due to your decision, nor what happened to anyone, it is just a generic piece of eye candy. I believe the final decision you make is the real ending and once the CGI starts that really doesn't matter.

If you can only support your argument for a "great ending" by disregarding the entire ending cinematic, you're not making a good argument. That cinematic was as much a part of the ending as the bit with the Illusive man and the discussion with the starchild beforehand, and indeed it is the source of at least half the problems. The other half is not whether Shepard lives or dies, rather the starchild's hamfisted presence and the very little time spent on clarifying his motives, intentions and character before the entire series ends. But nevermind the starchild, if you intend to say that the ending was great by ignoring the entire aspect that was meant to provide closure, then at the very least I have to say I'm utterly unconvinced.

Skyfyre:
Quite frankly it seems almost ridiculous to even go through all the examples because they are so numerous, so I'm going to just list them: (1) Sacrificing people on Earth while you escape, (2) Tali (if you side with the Geth and can't unite the races), (3) Kaiden/Ashley (if you can't get them to back down), (4) Thane (saving the council), (5) Anderson (staying on Earth to lead the resistance), (6) Primarch's son (stopping the bomb), (7) the entire quarian race (if you side with geth), (8) entire geth race (if you side with the quarians), (9) Thessia.

I'm not sure you know what sacrifice means. For something to be a sacrifice, there has to be a conscious choice to lose something or someone for the greater good. So several of these are not at all sacrifices. (1) It's not exactly a sacrifice if there was no way you could save them anyway. (4) Thane, on his own, makes the decision to attack Kai Leng. Also, he was- from the beginning- already going to die as he was terminally ill. (5) Anderson makes the decision to stay behind. You can even try to talk him out of it. Also, he survives until the end no matter what. (6) He makes the decision on his own. (9) You try to save Thessia but ultimately fail, you don't choose to let it fall.

DrWilhelm:

Couldn't agree more guys.

Could you email all of that to Bioware and put their answer/s on a thread? It would be interesting trying to see them answer that logically.

Solvemedia: I want control... Too right mate,

You don't just abandon everything that came before, and make a story about shepard, a story about a ghost child. It should have been the ending to shepard and the characters related to him. Because THAT'S WHAT THE SERIES IS ABOUT. You don't just throw your most important element out the window in the last 10 minutes.

No matter how long and smart you make your op, the ending is objectively bad as explained here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MlatxLP-xs

The issue with the ending is not it's bleakness, it's not the lack of closure, it's not about the color choices. It's about bad writing, and abandoning the meaning of the series at it's apex.

Captcha: Moveable feast

Skyfyre:
Perhaps in order to get Synthesis ending you must have allied with the Geth or reunited the Geth and the Quarians. Maybe, for control ending you have to save Miranda's evil father so he gives you the intelligence on how to control the reapers. Then destroy ending is simply based on war assets. I think that would be good, but that's not what Bioware picked and it doesn't bother me to the extent it bothers other people. I do see it as a valid point though.

Actually you have to have a certain amount of readiness to get the synthesis ending.

Commander Shepard killed a robot 'god'.

Commander Shepard is the person who bring everyone back from a suicide mission alive.

Commander Shepard can unite races that have had hundreds upon hundreds of years of conflict.

Overcoming insurmountable odds is what Shepard does best.

'You must choose destruction, control or synthesis'

'Fuck you, I'm Commander Shepard, I refuse to choose any of your silly convoluted options'

I like Angry Joe's Theory, that Sheperd was indocrinated.

Everything in it makes sense (except the kid), and makes me more hopefull that bioware is working in ending the series properly.

It could be that I'm paranoid or something. But is it a little wierd that this is this person's first post. Escpecially when they're name shows up in the Bioware Community Network? Then again I'm sure most of our names show up on that network one way or the other. This long yet articulate OP however does seem to lean on the 'party' line a fair bit.

I'm sensing a Cerberus agent...Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

Oh not this again.

Listen. As long as we are talking about a story (videogame or otherwise) it is subject to the subjective opinions of whoever reads/watches/plays it.

Some may think a story has plotholes, others think those "plotholes" give space for discussion later on (I for example am one of the loonies who like an open ending because it gives me space to philosophize over what will happen to the characters after the text starts rolling).

Some think the ME3 ending was good others that it was bad.

BTW wasn't that what the ME3 writes set off to do at the start? Polarize people?

You have some good points OP (and frankly, I can't believe I read the whole thing). My problem was never about Shepard sacrificing him/herself though. I started up the game thinking she was gonna die. Which sucked because I had grown attached, but hey. It was for the galaxy.

Anyway, before I start rambling on, I can't just disregard the whole end cutscene. Are you serious? That's part of the ending even if you say otherwise. If completely ignoring the last cutscene makes it a great ending, then I think I'm missing something.

I'm not bothered so much that Shepard dies, there are plenty of games where the protaganist dies that I have enjoyed, in fact I think it can make one hell of a conclusion and was one of the reasons why I wasn't fond of the Gears ending.

My complaint is that not enough was explained, too many questions where raised. Also I just want, like Yahtzee suggested, a sort of mini conclusion for each of my squadmates even if it is just to show them being turned by the reapers or blown to pieces.

Good read though, many points where raised and hopefully will make people accept the endings more.

chinangel:
SNIP!

I like this and I like you. You pretty much summed up my own opinions on this.

As for the OP... several things.

Friend, asserting your right by telling us "I have a degree!" is about as valid as this:
image

It's tacky...

You seem to be misapplying themes to several events in the game, too, as many people pointed out.

And then, there's the fact that you seem to be thinking people don't like the ending ONLY because Shepard dies... Which not only is incorrect (Shep can live) but also incredibly arrogant.

I still feel like I was lied to. They promised me this, but did I get it? Nope. Fucking liars.

Risingblade:
but what about all the plot holes? You're kinda missing the point of why people didn't like the ending

Exactly... I agree completely with you. Also, another thing that infuriated me to no end was being FORCED to play the multiplayer. If you want all the achievements, you have no choice but to play the multiplayer. But that isnt the true wrong here. I think it was completely ridiculous to force the players to get your galaxy readiness up high enough (only through multiplayer... I did EVERYTHING possible on my playthrough and it still wasnt high enough) to get the brief glimpse of of shepard "breathing". That ROYALLY pissed me off.

Hal10k:
My main complaint about the ending wasn't necessarily a thematic or tonal shift; it was the fact that it seemed like it was trying to do way too much with the time it had left. Five minutes from the end, we're told that the Reapers are actually under the control of a godlike figure that lives in the Citadel's attic. We're told that he doesn't think organics and synthetics can coexist, when 90% of our interactions with the Geth serve to suggest otherwise. We're given his almost comically stupid plan for correcting this issue, namely kill them before they can kill themselves. And we're told that because some people we know managed to build something, we're in charge of deciding what happens to the galaxy next.

All of these elements are introduced way too quickly, at a point in the narrative where people naturally expect answers instead of additional questions. And these new questions are themselves brushed aside as well, leading to the infamous RGB scale of ME3 endings. It could have been done well, if certain aspects of it had been 1. explained more substantially, 2. paced more carefully, and (the others are maybes, but this is most important) 3. introduced earlier in the narrative.

I finished ME3 last night and after a lot of effort avoiding these threads (but being very aware of them), I sat there thinking "so... what's everyone's problem with the ending?".

Ok, the RGB thing is annoying (I didn't notice it myself, only finishing the game once), especially since BioWare apparently promised very different endings. But as the OP said, that's just a shitty cutscene at the end, the ending is your actual choice and it does make an actual difference.

On the other arguments though:
1) God-child - why is everyone calling it that? I mean, ok, aside from the fact that's one's first association when you see the thing, it's quite remarkably obvious the child is simply an AI (it refers to synthetics as "us"), the Citadel is its body (like a Reaper's body is a Reaper ship) and the avatar is just an interface he's using to communicate with you (yeah I know, reminds people of that shitty movie South Park made fun of, but it's hardly nonsensical for an AI to project whatever it wants as a hologram).

And how is this a problem? The Reapers are a synthetic race of shitlings that have existed for several galaxy timelines, why is it an issue there's a synthetic leader to them who constructed them and is controlling them? And even if you do see it as a God, we've established back in ME1 that Reapers can easily be seen as Gods, why is it a problem we might think of their leader as one?

2) His solution is stupid - first off, he doesn't need to be right. Synthetic's are not immaculate, we've seen countless examples of this. Hell, we're cool with Reapers thinking what they're doing is right, we've been cool with that since the first game and we're cool with the fact we think it's monstrous. So again, this is their constructor/maker/leader, where's the issue?

Second, are you sure it's stupid? Sure, we can reunite the Geth with the rest of the galaxy, but is one example at one point in history proof of concept? This creature has sat on his arse for countless millenia watching the same shit over and over again, to think you know better than it based on one single incident is simply shortsighted.

Not to mention, people are taking it the wrong way anyway. Everyone describing the issue says "so his solution to synthetics not killing organics is to kill organics with synthetics?". The faulty part there is what they think the problem is. The problem is not that synthetics kill organics - organics kill organics just fine too, that's a non-issue. The problem is that synthetics are superior to organics, which means that left unchecked, they could wipe out every single organic in the galaxy - something the kid itself tells you it doesn't do.

What the little dude is doing is destroying the civilizations advanced enough to build true AI, but leaving the younger civilizations alone. That way, there's always organic life in the universe. Without him there to do that, the alternative could very well be that synthetics wipe out everything, possibly even destroy the entire galaxy (and by destroy I do mean quite literally destroy everything there is in it, Arrival has shown how plausible that is by wiping out an entire system in one strike)

We've accepted the Fallout 3's "war - war never changes", right? Most of us think that makes sense? So think about what you get when you mix the fact the war never changes with the fact synthetic life is superior to organic life?

3) Relays get destroyed, everyone is fucked - first off, tough shit. No super happy ending? So what, you're not entitled to one. Second, the relays aren't something these civilizations really earned. It's not something they built, it's something that was there and that they used. Third, every single space faring civilization has acquired and learned about the mass effect technology from these relays, who says they can't rebuild them? Hell, it's almost certain Reapers have this technology, you're given a choice to take control of them, why not use the Reapers to rebuild them? You even have one relay left to study, since the Citadel is left standing, the relay inside it likely remains.

All in all, I don't see any problem with the ending. Yes, I would've liked my Shepard to have kicked Reaper ass so the galaxy can get on with its existence, but the ending simply tells us that the price of getting rid of Reapers is the destruction of the relays - the rest is really up to you, you'll either destroy synthetic life which has the least effect, take control of the Reapers and use them for whatever you want or you'll merge synthetics and organics, which presumably puts organics on an even footing with synthetics.

Personally, I view my ending as "Shepard takes Reapers, works with the rest of the galaxy to reconstruct the relays, quells synthetic wars using the Reapers in the future".

Another good ending would be to synthesise life. You know all those complaints over half the galaxy's fleet stuck on Earth with no nutrients? Ever considered the fact the new synthesised life doesn't NEED nutrients, much like the synthetics don't? And if it gives organics the capabilities of synthetics, you can again work, now with remarkably increased production (see Ranoch) towards rebuilding the relays.

Ah, Mass Effect 3 threads. This'll be my only post in a Mass Effect 3 thread ever, so listen carefully.

The ending left me unsatisfied. I've tried to analyse my feelings, but I do not really think that's important. The important thing is that I wasn't upset, I can deal with being upset at a fictional world ending, but that it felt bad. A bad ending.

So telling me it's great when I think it's not? You can't tell me it's great! That's your opinion, not mine. If you finished the game and thought it was awesome then good for you, but don't tell me that I'm wrong and an entitled whiny brat for saying it was crap because I don't particularly want a new ending, I just want to move on from this debacle.

I am reminded of the Resident Evil movies. In the third movie (oh, and spoilers, by the way) it is established that the main character is now a super human-esque figure with telepathic powers, super strength and lightning-fast reflexes. At the end of the movie it turns out there are hundreds, if not thousands, of clones of her and they all have her powers. That is a crappy ending. At the very beginning of the fourth movie, all the clones are destroyed by a big damn bomb (think weird nuclear bomb) except the original lady who is promptly stabbed with a syringe full of magic that removes her powers. That is a fantastic beginning that fixes the problems of the previous movie (Ish).

If the creators of Mass Effect are smart and wish to fix this then they shouldn't change the ending, they should simply pull out what the Resident Evil movie folk did and correct all the problems in a DLC or the first five minutes of the new game in the franchise. Preferably a DLC so people don't have to splash out 50 for a new game and the new game won't have any of this toxic mess on it at all.

Anyway, those were my thoughts.

Edit: Oh Gawd, I got carried away. Listen, all I was saying is that a crappy ending is a crappy ending and even if it did fit in with what you thought were the themes of the series (I disagree, but anyway) then that still doesn't justify it - they could've done it better and with fewer plotholes (JOKER?! WHAT YOU DOING OVER THERE?! And Liara! You were supposed to have my back, why are you on a jungle planet? How did YOU escape the giant laser?).

Skyfyre:
Snip

If you said something alone the lines of: The Indoctrination Theory is amazing! Then I agree.

If not... then I disagree.

Vrach:

Hal10k:
My main complaint about the ending wasn't necessarily a thematic or tonal shift; it was the fact that it seemed like it was trying to do way too much with the time it had left. Five minutes from the end, we're told that the Reapers are actually under the control of a godlike figure that lives in the Citadel's attic. We're told that he doesn't think organics and synthetics can coexist, when 90% of our interactions with the Geth serve to suggest otherwise. We're given his almost comically stupid plan for correcting this issue, namely kill them before they can kill themselves. And we're told that because some people we know managed to build something, we're in charge of deciding what happens to the galaxy next.

All of these elements are introduced way too quickly, at a point in the narrative where people naturally expect answers instead of additional questions. And these new questions are themselves brushed aside as well, leading to the infamous RGB scale of ME3 endings. It could have been done well, if certain aspects of it had been 1. explained more substantially, 2. paced more carefully, and (the others are maybes, but this is most important) 3. introduced earlier in the narrative.

I finished ME3 last night and after a lot of effort avoiding these threads (but being very aware of them), I sat there thinking "so... what's everyone's problem with the ending?".

Ok, the RGB thing is annoying (I didn't notice it myself, only finishing the game once), especially since BioWare apparently promised very different endings. But as the OP said, that's just a shitty cutscene at the end, the ending is your actual choice and it does make an actual difference.

On the other arguments though:
1) God-child - why is everyone calling it that? I mean, ok, aside from the fact that's one's first association when you see the thing, it's quite remarkably obvious the child is simply an AI (it refers to synthetics as "us"), the Citadel is its body (like a Reaper's body is a Reaper ship) and the avatar is just an interface he's using to communicate with you (yeah I know, reminds people of that shitty movie South Park made fun of, but it's hardly nonsensical for an AI to project whatever it wants as a hologram).

And how is this a problem? The Reapers are a synthetic race of shitlings that have existed for several galaxy timelines, why is it an issue there's a synthetic leader to them who constructed them and is controlling them? And even if you do see it as a God, we've established back in ME1 that Reapers can easily be seen as Gods, why is it a problem we might think of their leader as one?

Because it is fucking stupid. Shepard is obviously seeing a hallucination brought on by the Reapers. They used the same boy she continually sees (possibly also a hallucination the entire time) to try and trick Shepard once more.

2) His solution is stupid - first off, he doesn't need to be right. Synthetic's are not immaculate, we've seen countless examples of this. Hell, we're cool with Reapers thinking what they're doing is right, we've been cool with that since the first game and we're cool with the fact we think it's monstrous. So again, this is their constructor/maker/leader, where's the issue?

Second, are you sure it's stupid? Sure, we can reunite the Geth with the rest of the galaxy, but is one example at one point in history proof of concept? This creature has sat on his arse for countless millenia watching the same shit over and over again, to think you know better than it based on one single incident is simply shortsighted.

Not to mention, people are taking it the wrong way anyway. Everyone describing the issue says "so his solution to synthetics not killing organics is to kill organics with synthetics?". The faulty part there is what they think the problem is. The problem is not that synthetics kill organics - organics kill organics just fine too, that's a non-issue. The problem is that synthetics are superior to organics, which means that left unchecked, they could wipe out every single organic in the galaxy - something the kid itself tells you it doesn't do.

What the little dude is doing is destroying the civilizations advanced enough to build true AI, but leaving the younger civilizations alone. That way, there's always organic life in the universe. Without him there to do that, the alternative could very well be that synthetics wipe out everything, possibly even destroy the entire galaxy (and by destroy I do mean quite literally destroy everything there is in it, Arrival has shown how plausible that is by wiping out an entire system in one strike)

We've accepted the Fallout 3's "war - war never changes", right? Most of us think that makes sense? So think about what you get when you mix the fact the war never changes with the fact synthetic life is superior to organic life?

Except the entire series takes place in a SINGLE GALAXY. The Milky Way Galaxy. There are thousands more and several hundred larger (that we currently know of) than our galaxy. What is to say that there isn't life there as well? To say that synthetics will wipe out all life in the galaxy... boo hoo. Now to say they wipe out all organic life in the UNIVERSE? Impossible. The choices are stupid, but they are meant to be stupid as you are being indoctrinated. The Blue Choice? Does nothing. The Green Choice? Turns you into a Husk, as well as all of humanity. The Red Choice? They try to trick you saying that it will also destroy the geth, when it doesn't. This is the only logical choice (and you are only given it because of Shepard's strong will). After choosing the red choice, you wake up under rubble on earth.

3) Relays get destroyed, everyone is fucked - first off, tough shit. No super happy ending? So what, you're not entitled to one. Second, the relays aren't something these civilizations really earned. It's not something they built, it's something that was there and that they used. Third, every single space faring civilization has acquired and learned about the mass effect technology from these relays, who says they can't rebuild them? Hell, it's almost certain Reapers have this technology, you're given a choice to take control of them, why not use the Reapers to rebuild them? You even have one relay left to study, since the Citadel is left standing, the relay inside it likely remains.

Wouldn't that relay send you off into Dark Space, the Reaper home? Also, the endings are part of Harbinger trying to keep you down (at least in the red ending) showing you that "Oh, look you won. Now stay down while we bum-fuck your planet some more."

All in all, I don't see any problem with the ending. Yes, I would've liked my Shepard to have kicked Reaper ass so the galaxy can get on with its existence, but the ending simply tells us that the price of getting rid of Reapers is the destruction of the relays - the rest is really up to you, you'll either destroy synthetic life which has the least effect, take control of the Reapers and use them for whatever you want or you'll merge synthetics and organics, which presumably puts organics on an even footing with synthetics.

Or in reality you: A.) Fail B.) Fail C.) Wake up on Earth as it was all a hallucination.

Personally, I view my ending as "Shepard takes Reapers, works with the rest of the galaxy to reconstruct the relays, quells synthetic wars using the Reapers in the future".
However, the Truth to the ending is that you are indoctrinated and the Reapers won.

Another good ending would be to synthesise life. You know all those complaints over half the galaxy's fleet stuck on Earth with no nutrients? Ever considered the fact the new synthesised life doesn't NEED nutrients, much like the synthetics don't? And if it gives organics the capabilities of synthetics, you can again work, now with remarkably increased production (see Ranoch) towards rebuilding the relays.

Or you are a husk and you are now killing your friends and families. Team Killer.

All my changes are in the bold.

Badassassin:
But, you must know, Bioware isn't changing the ending because people didnt like it, strictly speaking. They're changing the ending because of all the pressure they're getting. The only example I can think of that relates to this is, although its very exaggerated, i know, is of a torture victim. That's a better example than a placating mother. All the hate their getting, if fans wanted Shepard to ride off on a flying turtle made of friendship, they'd probably do it at this point.

The only pressure that could possibly be exerted on Bioware that would make the slightest whiff of difference to them is the pressure that comes from a threat to leave. To buy something else instead. To no longer pre-order. To no longer be a FAN. That's the ONLY "pressure" that would speak to them and force their hand. And it would only force their hand if that threat was cogent, and if it was issued by a large enough segment of their player base to be unsettling.

So what's the solution? Take away the right of consumers to vote with their wallets? Take away the right of consumers to issue negative feedback BEFORE voting with their wallets? Why does Bioware want THAT? If you were running a business, would YOU want that? No chance to make things right, and keep your fan base intact?

And really, this is not a parent/child relationship. Last time I checked, I didn't pay my mother to provide me with a product. This constant misrepresentation of the developer/publisher as an exhausted nanny herding around a school of entitled children is absurd in the extreme. I've never seen another business/customer relationship described in this fashion, and by the customers no less. Instead of worrying about the art form being taken seriously, worry about this bizarre self-hatred and self-flagellation the gaming "community" seems to engage in so ritualistically. The developers and publishers are not your friends. They're not your Mom, they're not your Dad. They're a business, and you pay them to provide you with product. Yes, that product is art, but it's commercial art, created and sold for profit. It's not a gift they're giving you.

Badassassin:
Cant we agree that this is getting a little out of hand? I mean, every other thread is the same people saying the same things about how they disliked the ending. Its fine, you cab dislike the ending. Your reasoning is completely valid. EVERYONE on this site agrees with you. So can we be done now? Can we all agree the endings bad and move on? I dont who you guys are arguing against, other than the OP I dont think anyones denying that its a bad ending. I just dont see the point of flooding the forums with this.

Obviously people DON'T agree that it's getting old, because they keep making threads about it. Would you do this at a party? Walk up to a conversation, groan, insist the subject at hand is old news, and demand they talk about something more to your liking? It's such a bizarre tick that people get on discussion forums. I would even dare to suggest it hasn't gotten old for YOU, because here you are, in a ME3 discussion thread, discussing ME3, even if it's just to moan about how boring you find it, instead of posting in a different thread or starting a new topic.

This video can not be posted enough:

Vrach:
1) God-child - why is everyone calling it that? I mean, ok, aside from the fact that's one's first association when you see the thing, it's quite remarkably obvious the child is simply an AI (it refers to synthetics as "us"), the Citadel is its body (like a Reaper's body is a Reaper ship) and the avatar is just an interface he's using to communicate with you (yeah I know, reminds people of that shitty movie South Park made fun of, but it's hardly nonsensical for an AI to project whatever it wants as a hologram).

For starters, there's nothing to suggest that he is an AI. All AI or VI we've seen have either been processes within a physical body, or a personality you interact with through a holographic interface.

The Star Child, or God Child, or Catalyst, or whatever you want to call it, doesn't look anything like the holographic interfaces seen in the game. (Nor is there any sort of machine or surface around to project it.) Not even the ones that have clearly been Reaper technology. It looks more like a ghost-like creature.

Vrach:
And how is this a problem? The Reapers are a synthetic race of shitlings that have existed for several galaxy timelines, why is it an issue there's a synthetic leader to them who constructed them and is controlling them? And even if you do see it as a God, we've established back in ME1 that Reapers can easily be seen as Gods, why is it a problem we might think of their leader as one?

The idea that a singular consciousness is in control of the Reapers goes against pretty much everything we learned about them in the previous games.

Sovereign: "My kind transcends your very understanding. We are each a nation - independent, free of all weakness. You cannot grasp the nature of our existence."

Sovereign: "We have no beginning. We have no end. We are infinite."

And Sovereign and Harbinger both display distinct personalities/identities, which simply wouldn't be the case if they were all just controlled by the Star Child.

Furthermore, the Star Child's claims in regards to the goals of the Reapers go against what both Sovereign and Harbinger said about their goals. The Reapers never had any interest in saving organics, but rather used the ones with the highest genetic potential for some unknown purpose, while the rest were wiped out to leave a blank slate for the next cycle.

Andrew_Waltfeld:
I have to agree with OP... though to be honest, I think the biggest problem people have with the ending, the REALLY biggest issue is not the lack of themes or any of that stuff. Shepard can bite the dust all he wants in my game. I have no problem with that. From what I hear it's simple. There is no closure. It's boom, relays blow up, you see joker, (for whatever reason), flying away from the blast. They end up on some planet. Then some future earth with a guy and a kid. Boom, end.

Now where people are going "Wait, wtf happened?" is the fact for example - we don't see the rebuilding effort from whatever choice you made, where garrus or tali or whatever end up etc. I think the biggest problem people have with the ending is simple: People want to know what happened to all their companions in the game.

Why did joker flee? Was I being indoctrinated? The biggest problem is the questions. it's that simple. It leaves too many open ended questions, too many loose threads. Heck, a cheesy scene like for example this scene from Italian job... As the pod cast put it, a simple text slide with various images/scenes would have fit with what happened after you dealt with the reapers, depending upon the choices you made.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YctqVZWtWbw

Though to be honest, I think the ending is just the issue overblown because tali fans being mad at bioware for the photo-shop tali. but that's just me. I liked tali just as much as any other companions, ok a Quite a bit more than kaden/Jacob, but even I think the photo-shop image was a cop out. The home-world where she removes her mask would have been the perfect place to do it. But that's just me.

At this point, if I was a bioware I would do the following:

Roll out the original ending that the author intended (with dark energy and stuff) right after you make a choice. If I recall quite a few months ago, the bioware were on fire during what? Sept-November sometime when the ending got leaked and people were made at the "Cheesey ending." Depending upon that choice, is the difference between you breaking indoctrination or not. Then the real choice begins. But that is just me, that's how I would roll with it. TO me - it seems the indoctrination theory is pretty solid and makes plenty of sense. I can also roll with this ending either way. The only thing I agree with all the outrage is this - there is a need for closure on a number of issues.

1) why is joker flying away?
2) What happened to everyone etc?
3) I'm sure people can add more in here.

Heres one - Why did Javik(who was in my squad during the run at the transport beam)step out of the Normandy on the paradise planet? Did he have a personal teleport that let him get to the Normandy before it apparently abandoned Earth to leg it through the Sol relay just before the bloody thing exploded(which was a bit weird given that when you last see Joker he is going to join the holding action). Also how did Tali, EDI or anyone else who climbs out of the Normandy get there? Last time I saw them they were sitting on Earth with no feasible way of getting off it!?!

This is why the "Ending" is a tonal shift, not because Shep dies but because everything after the Reaper shot is off and everything after Anderson dies is abject bullshit!

On another note, has anyone noticed that when you do the Destroy ending after Shep takes the first shot his weakness and injuries seem to vanish. He takes the first shot hunched over and barely conscious and all of a sudden straightens up as though absolutely nothing is wrong with him?

This will be the last time I will comment on ME 3 as I am firmly in the indoctrination camp and will be vindicated within the next few weeks :P

TitanAtlas:
I like Angry Joe's Theory, that Sheperd was indocrinated.

Everything in it makes sense (except the kid), and makes me more hopefull that bioware is working in ending the series properly.

This is what gives me hope. Because there are too many things that only make sense if you follow Indoctrination theory for it to be anything else. Otherwise, if it wasn't indoctrination, none of the "little" clues seen through the whole game make sense.

Darkcerb:
Maybe I've been playing a different series, because the theme was always "hope" there's always hope no matter how grim things look, defiance and victory through co-operation and diversity. I seriously can't comprehend where people are seeing all this hopeless grim fatality in the series, especially after ME2 where you could walk away with no losses. It smacks of grasping at straws to justify the ending to me.

The OP has more proof of sacrificing for the greater good being the theme of the games than you do for hope. It seems less like he is grasping straw when he provides a ton of examples (major plot-points and events) that support it, perhaps it might just be that you expected it to be about hope and overcoming every obstacle (because lets face it, that describes the themes of 90% of all video-games).

I hate to be the asshole who doesn't actually read the OP or contribute anything particularly meaningful to the discussion but does anyone else find it a bit odd that the this thread is the OP's only post? And that the account was made today? And that the post is in direct opposition to the popular opinion of the majority of escapist members?
Bit of a coincidence.

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