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

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT
 

I like how this entirely ignores and/or assumes several arguments.

1. Bioware made promises on a game that it most certainly did not deliver on, this isn't conjecture or opinion but provable fact. Anyone who goes back and reads the promises they made and then plays the game cannot possibly argue that they are consistent.

2. You assume that the everyone agree's on the same theme which is almost never true with great works of fiction or art. People have been arguing for years about the meaning of Jackson Pollock's works, and centuries over the Mona Lisa. I realize comparing the ME series to the Mona Lisa is a little, stupid, but the point holds true none-the-less. I personally felt that the ME series was indeed about sacrifice but not entropy. I'm not sure if anyone watched 'Flash Forward' but there was an episode where one of the main characters commits suicide because he will be responsible for the death of a young mother. To me it's the same deal in Mass Effect, sacrificing everything to defy fate and to defy the eternal cycle of violence and genocide that has claimed the galaxy from day one.

3. The Mass Effect ending was full of plot holes. I'm not talking about the CGI stuff, which was stupid don't get me wrong, I mean once you get into the citedal beacon you end up getting handed a bunch of explanations that, plain and simple, make no sense. "We invented a race of synthetic gods to murder everything so they don't get... murdered... by... synthetics." Oh yea, that makes all kinds of sense.

Honestly I don't really care about your degree's or your qualifications, they have no bearing unless you fairly review all of the problems with the game's ending which NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE TO DO. Unless you're going to address all of the problems please keep your half-baked opinions to yourself.

Skyfyre:
Mass Effect 3: Great Ending or Greatest Ending

Conclusion:

So that's pretty much it. I find it impossible to comprehend how anyone can say the ending was in any way a tonal shift or somehow disconnected from the narrative. It fits perfectly in with the themes of (1) sacrifice (2) entropy (3) and forgiveness. If you are so caught up in the fact that the final cutscene randomly shows the Normandy fleeing, or the fact the mass relays are exploding, then you really need to stop it. For one thing it doesn't matter that galactic civilization might be over, you still triumphed over the Reapers.

It certainly doesn't mean none of your decisions in the game mattered. If you cured the genophage then the krogan civilization can still thrive on their planet, if you united the quarians and geth then they are indeed going to be working together to establish their future. The mass relays didn't destroy all life when they exploded as some of you have argued. We already know from the final scene set in the future that it didn't kill everyone. Clearly Bioware is saying there is a way to destroy the relays without them destroying the entire galaxy.

Finally if you are sad Shepard is dead, then you certainly should be. If you think this ruins the game you are have misunderstood the narrative themes of the series. The best stories have realistic endings, Shepard dying in this context when examined against the narrative themes Bioware is portraying is an extremely realistic ending. When Blade Runner was made the studio forced Ridley Scott to put a happy ending on the film. This ending made little narrative sense in connection with the theme and tone of the overall movie and was mostly deemed a failure. Scott's director's cut which omits the happy ending is now considered to be the far superior version of the film. When Great Expectations came out everyone demanded Dickens change the ending because it was too depressing. Dickens relented, he couldn't afford his audience to be upset with him. Today literary scholars consider this the worst decision Dickens ever made and now the majority of students that read Great Expectations read it with the original ending intact. So certainly mourn the fact that Shepard is dead, but don't go around saying that Bioware's writers didn't know what they were doing, they clearly did and they created one of the best videogame narratives because of

Finally, the majority of us are not pissed that Shepard died, most of us expected it. That's a child's reasoning for being angry. I would suggest some actual research before you post another of your 'reviews' and actually read up on the reasons people are angry instead of just assuming you know everything and working from there.

chinangel:
I hate it when people use this word of 'sacrifice' for the ending of mass effect 3. Because it's NOT sacrifice. like. at all.

A sacrifice is a choice. You see two options and you choose to give your own life up for a certainty (you believe) of some kind of victory.

A perfect example of this is Dragon Age: Origins. The Warden has to make a tough call. Sacrifice them self to kill the arch-demon for good, or put their trust in a shifty, morally-questionable sorceress.

THAT is a perfect example of sacrifice.

Mass Effect 3 however is just shock tactics, or a weak attempt at it. When I was buying the game I KNEW they were going to kill Shepard and I KNEW it was going to be simply because 'this is how you make a memorable ending'. This. IS. Bullshit. It is also very lazy writing.

Endings are NOT memorable because the hero dies at the end. Endings are memorable because the hero overcame great odds. This is not what happens in Mass Effect 3, and writers kind of need to realize that.

Look at Bioshock the good ending shows the main hero living, and with all his daughters, and dying of old age. This is a good ending, and it's memorable. He overcame great odds and was rewarded for doing so.

In Mass Effect 3, Shepard dies (no matter what) and...what? Nobody wins. Earth is destroyed, the races are scattered and this has solved nothing, in fact analysis reveals it has made many many many more problems for the Mass Effect Universe.

"Dur Hurr the main character dying is controversial and dramatic" no it's not. The death of your main character MUST feel organic. It must feel that this is what the game was building to, that there was no way this could be accomplished without this momentous sacrifice, and it MUST be a sacrifice! A CHOICE! NOT me being railroaded into choosing my preferred death.

Lastly, there is respecting the main character. Look how much Shepard has already sacrificed. Friends, Family (in some cases), loved ones, humans, turians, spectres, a chance at a normal life. LIFE ITSELF in one case! Shepard has ALREADY given up so much, and then you're just going to take the rest in the end? (For gender pronoun purposes i'm going to use my shepard for refference, a girl.)

My shep WANTS to stop fighting, but on her own terms. She'd probably find a comm system and tell everyone to glass the Reapers, and then...I don't know..use the Citedal as a battering ram, escaping just in time in a shuttle as it plowed through several dozen reapers, and cause chaining explosions that take out more and fight to some bare victory, but a victory none-the-less and go on to have little blue babies.

This is the thing, Shepard deserves a happy ending above all else. shepard has ALREADY given up so much that killing her at the end feels like a slap in the face to the player who watched Shepard struggle up to now, and to the character who isn't given a fighting chance.

TL;DR.

1) Sacrifice must be a choice, a real choice. Not a railroad (See also: Mordin Solus' death)

2) Endings Must feel organic, and the ending must make sense. Not thrown in because you want to be 'shocking'.

3) Respect the sacrifices of your main character, who has already given up so much to this cause, don't demand their lives as well unless the ending would truly feel empty without it.

This a thousand times this
thank you for putting so eloquently what I have been thinking.
I don't need "bittersweet" in my games, unless I choose it. I can get bitersweet all I want in real life.

Skyfyre:
Mass Effect 3: Great Ending or Greatest Ending
It certainly doesn't mean none of your decisions in the game mattered. If you cured the genophage then the krogan civilization can still thrive on their planet, if you united the quarians and geth then they are indeed going to be working together to establish their future. The mass relays didn't destroy all life when they exploded as some of you have argued. We already know from the final scene set in the future that it didn't kill everyone. Clearly Bioware is saying there is a way to destroy the relays without them destroying the entire galaxy.

By the way, you do realize that if you chose either the Synthesis or the Destruction ending that ALL synthetic technology in the galaxy is either fused or obliterated right? That means Geth, EDI, the Quarian Live Ships, the Quarians Enviro-suits, EVERYTHING.

So actually the endings don't just ignore our decisions, the endings actually FLAT OUT NEGATE SOME OF THEM.

And it's funny how the destruction of one Mass Relay practically annihilated the Batarian civilization but somehow the destruction of every Relay almost simultaneously goes just fine. It makes no sense, sure we can ASSUME that bioware is saying 'don't worry it's ok they won't end the galaxy' but it doesn't flow with literally anything they've been saying since the beginning of Mass Effect 3 at all. So that last sentence is just pure bunk, I really hope your just posting all this because bioware is paying you to and that you're not actually this dim.

chinangel:
I hate it when people use this word of 'sacrifice' for the ending of mass effect 3. Because it's NOT sacrifice. like. at all.

A sacrifice is a choice. You see two options and you choose to give your own life up for a certainty (you believe) of some kind of victory.

A perfect example of this is Dragon Age: Origins. The Warden has to make a tough call. Sacrifice them self to kill the arch-demon for good, or put their trust in a shifty, morally-questionable sorceress.

THAT is a perfect example of sacrifice.

Mass Effect 3 however is just shock tactics, or a weak attempt at it. When I was buying the game I KNEW they were going to kill Shepard and I KNEW it was going to be simply because 'this is how you make a memorable ending'. This. IS. Bullshit. It is also very lazy writing.

Endings are NOT memorable because the hero dies at the end. Endings are memorable because the hero overcame great odds. This is not what happens in Mass Effect 3, and writers kind of need to realize that.

Look at Bioshock the good ending shows the main hero living, and with all his daughters, and dying of old age. This is a good ending, and it's memorable. He overcame great odds and was rewarded for doing so.

In Mass Effect 3, Shepard dies (no matter what) and...what? Nobody wins. Earth is destroyed, the races are scattered and this has solved nothing, in fact analysis reveals it has made many many many more problems for the Mass Effect Universe.

"Dur Hurr the main character dying is controversial and dramatic" no it's not. The death of your main character MUST feel organic. It must feel that this is what the game was building to, that there was no way this could be accomplished without this momentous sacrifice, and it MUST be a sacrifice! A CHOICE! NOT me being railroaded into choosing my preferred death.

Lastly, there is respecting the main character. Look how much Shepard has already sacrificed. Friends, Family (in some cases), loved ones, humans, turians, spectres, a chance at a normal life. LIFE ITSELF in one case! Shepard has ALREADY given up so much, and then you're just going to take the rest in the end? (For gender pronoun purposes i'm going to use my shepard for refference, a girl.)

My shep WANTS to stop fighting, but on her own terms. She'd probably find a comm system and tell everyone to glass the Reapers, and then...I don't know..use the Citedal as a battering ram, escaping just in time in a shuttle as it plowed through several dozen reapers, and cause chaining explosions that take out more and fight to some bare victory, but a victory none-the-less and go on to have little blue babies.

This is the thing, Shepard deserves a happy ending above all else. shepard has ALREADY given up so much that killing her at the end feels like a slap in the face to the player who watched Shepard struggle up to now, and to the character who isn't given a fighting chance.

TL;DR.

1) Sacrifice must be a choice, a real choice. Not a railroad (See also: Mordin Solus' death)

2) Endings Must feel organic, and the ending must make sense. Not thrown in because you want to be 'shocking'.

3) Respect the sacrifices of your main character, who has already given up so much to this cause, don't demand their lives as well unless the ending would truly feel empty without it.

This is beautiful and almost entirely true. I don't necessarily agree that Shepard deserved a happy ending universally, I'm perfectly fine with him/her dying, but I utterly and completely agree that the sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it's a choice, otherwise it's just a lazy Deus Ex Machina that forces you to adhere to the writers ending script which, let's be honest, wasn't very good in the first place.

So thank you for writing this, it's so very true.

Sanguinedragon:
This a thousand times this
thank you for putting so eloquently what I have been thinking.
I don't need "bittersweet" in my games, unless I choose it. I can get bitersweet all I want in real life.

To be fair, I think it would be hard to get any sort of "happy" ending that wasn't in reality bittersweet. Dragon Age: Origins' endings were bittersweet.

With Mass Effect 3 they just completely forgot about the "sweet" and did their best to cover the whole ending with "bitter".

lordmardok:

Skyfyre:
Mass Effect 3: Great Ending or Greatest Ending
It certainly doesn't mean none of your decisions in the game mattered. If you cured the genophage then the krogan civilization can still thrive on their planet, if you united the quarians and geth then they are indeed going to be working together to establish their future. The mass relays didn't destroy all life when they exploded as some of you have argued. We already know from the final scene set in the future that it didn't kill everyone. Clearly Bioware is saying there is a way to destroy the relays without them destroying the entire galaxy.

By the way, you do realize that if you chose either the Synthesis or the Destruction ending that ALL synthetic technology in the galaxy is either fused or obliterated right? That means Geth, EDI, the Quarian Live Ships, the Quarians Enviro-suits, EVERYTHING.

So actually the endings don't just ignore our decisions, the endings actually FLAT OUT NEGATE SOME OF THEM.

And it's funny how the destruction of one Mass Relay practically annihilated the Batarian civilization but somehow the destruction of every Relay almost simultaneously goes just fine. It makes no sense, sure we can ASSUME that bioware is saying 'don't worry it's ok they won't end the galaxy' but it doesn't flow with literally anything they've been saying since the beginning of Mass Effect 3 at all. So that last sentence is just pure bunk, I really hope your just posting all this because bioware is paying you to and that you're not actually this dim.

I agree with your side here completely. But in the Arrival DLC you took out a Batarian colony world. Not the homeworld. The Batarian's are still devastated by the reapers though. It's a bad sign when the husks of your race are the reapers front line forces. It means they got a loooot of you to go around. And I was gonna ask how the Quarians are messed...then I remember that codex entry that mentions the cybernetics they have to interface with their suits. So it's not much of a leap to assume their ships are built around the same idea.

All I wanted was a little closure. Just a quick "so and so went on to be a doctor" thing that showed me how my decisions affected the galaxy for the next couple hundred years. I thought the ending was ok, but I was just left wondering if I did the right thing.

BloatedGuppy:

Revolutionaryloser:
I'm pretty sure it's established over and over and over again that the Reapers are too powerful. At most, the entire joined forces of the galaxy could take out about 10 of them and even then it would still mean losing all their military forces. The thing is that be they invincible or not, there are anything between 300 and 80,000 of them.

That was certainly the tonal impression from ME1 and ME3, but ME3 retconned that a bit. There's an entry in the codex about clever ways to kill Reapers, the Reapers are fought to a standstill in numerous areas, you're in on killing a couple of Reapers yourself, they introduce smaller Reapers, and on and on. As there's a finite number of Reapers, it does suddenly make one wonder WHY a conventional military approach is unfeasible, especially since their traditional blitz attack got foiled.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you, and prefer the idea of the Reapers as being virtually unstoppable, but Bioware really took the edge off them in the third game. If the Catalyst had been a more conventional weapon instead of an echo chamber for circumlocutory ghosts, the concept of a Reaper defeat wasn't unthinkable.

I thought I remembered reading a email in ME3 from the colony at Feros and how they were holding off REAPERS all by themselves. You know, those like 30 people you may have saved in the first games - they're holding off at least 1 Reaper with no star ships or orbital cannons or anything. Just a bunch of colonists.

I agree with the shift of tone, though. It took like every single ship at the Citadel firing everything they had at him to bring Soveriegn down. The tone isn't even consistent in ME3. Sometimes they're practically invincible and other times as long as you have kind of a gun you can hold off Reapers just by shooting them in their glowy thingy.

If the entire fleet you had gathered at the end all focused on a single Reaper and just moved from Reaper to Reaper instead of the chaotic fire we got they would've really fucked up the Reaper forces. Granted the the Reapers were pretty thick the entire game. Chessmaster on my computer is probably smarter than they are.

I absolutely agree with 'chinangel', in that sacrifice is a choice and you certainly don't require the death of your main character to make an ending poignant.
Though I'm not too concerned about Shepard living, I would have preferred it, but it's a preference and I understand the people who felt the story is better if Shepard dies.

Also on your last 2 points:

2) This is not 'Entropy' and I don't believe the choices solve/reflect anything (at least not very well)

3) I don't necessarily think 'Forgiveness' is a theme

2) Entropy is a description of how a system is more likely to move from a order to chaos. The Reapers repeating a cycle continuously is not chaos.
Arguably the removal of technologically advanced races creates more chaos, but within an ordered system. Where the Reapers always return, always harvest people, overwhelm them etc... You could argue the story focuses on the inevitability of defeat by the Reapers, but that is nothing to do with entropy.

Entropy is in a sense 'inevitable', but this doesn't mean everything inevitable is entropy. This is mostly a problem with language, however, even though the Reapers are crazy hard to kill, I still would have preferred a final 'Death or Glory'(mostly death) charge to a series of meaningless choices.

The synthesis ending is the one I have the most problem with, because as far as I can see it solves nothing. Why does people having a 'synthetic' side preclude them never again building synthetics that would eventually destroy them because they are too 'organic'.
Also no-one who united the Geth and Quarians is saying that; synthetics will never rise to kill everyone. Though this does prove that not 'all' synthetics will do this, why should all synthetics come to the 'destroy all life' conclusion. The Legion mission in ME2 shows not all synthetics behave in exactly the same way, they can come to different truths.

Even if all synthetics came to the conclusion that organics were unnecessary; concluding you don't need something doesn't mean you automatically destroy it.

It's just as likely an 'organic' will build a superweapon to destroy all life in some way, like an unstoppable virus.

Also how does the destroy ending prove the Reapers right? You're not pressing some magic button that prevents people ever creating synthetics. You might just have wanted the reapers destroyed after all the harm they caused.
Or in my case, because I thought Shepard might survive that way.

I don't really understand the purpose of the 'Control' choice. As in essence it's the synthesis choice just with less green. Also the implications of what you actually 'control' the Reapers to do, is never really explained. Will they ever break free, will people use them to advance technology, will they create a dark space Reapers retirement home?

Nobody knows because Bioware didn't give any explanation, and it should not be left to my 'imagination'. You leave things to the imagination of the audience when it adds something, if I wanted to imagine endings I would play games, read books or watch films, I would imagine whole stories.

Ultimately these choices are visually identical, which even if the philosophy had been great, makes for a poor experience with a very visual medium.

Also this:

Skyfyre:
Mass Effect 3: Great Ending or Greatest Ending

I believe that a better final cutscene that better fleshed out what happened would have been a great benefit for people that either didn't or can't analyze the situation themselves and just wanted to be told by Bioware what the endings meant. If such a cutscene existed I really doubt the majority of people would be upset with the game.

This, is mildly insulting and makes a number of strange assumptions. Firstly it assumes people disliked this through lack of understanding. Also it assumes people wanted a philosophical ending. Just because the game contains some philosophy, doesn't mean the ending has to have some deep meaning to it, this I felt didn't fit.

3) Just because a film contains lots of mentions of Christianity doesn't make it about Christianity, it just means the film mentions God a lot. Like say if they set it in the Vatican.

Incidentally I disliked everything following the arrival through the Relay, as not only the end choices are the same regardless, so - pretty much - is the battle, bar some tiny details. This is regardless of what military strength you had, and for an epic 'This Is It' moment it was really underwhelming.

As a final note, logic from a horse is just as valid as logic from a Harvard professor.

Hammeroj:
You mean, you figured the series would end by the worst MacGuffin in recent history?

The ending makes sense, people just simply weren't happy with their character dying.
Though I do agree that the endings cutscene could have been more detailed in regards to the other characters' fates, it was overall a very good ending.
Maybe you didn't like the ending, but that doesn't make it a bad ending. In short; ME3 had a good but disliked ending. There's a difference between the two.

Skyfire, I completely agree with everything you said. Post of the year.

So many people are grabbing their pitchforks and torches over the ending its ridiculous. You've just posted a beautiful, calm, analytic response to all of the madness. I kind of understand why they reacted so harshly, but if you think about it it actually closes things off nicely. Yes, the final "consequences" cutscene could be longer and show what actually happens to the key characters and locations. The Joker/Normandy scene to me illustrates that life does indeed go on, albeit sans the technology that society is built upon. I think that Joker was trying to save the ship from destruction, which to me explains why he quickly took to hyperspace to get out of the Sol system.

It would've been cool to get a troops eye view of Garrus and your crew celebrating the pull-out of the Reapers as all their tech is dissolved away. Or perhaps the Asari gathering up the remains of their Prothean temple. Also, that Turian planet under heavy assault....

I suppose if you take all that was in that little cuscene you can deduce what happens in the rest of the galaxy, but people want to reaffirmation by seeing the results for themselves. But that's why we take to forums: to debate all the little details, lol.

Your Very Own Personal MeatBag:

Hammeroj:
You mean, you figured the series would end by the worst MacGuffin in recent history?

The ending makes sense, people just simply weren't happy with their character dying.
Though I do agree that the endings cutscene could have been more detailed in regards to the other characters' fates, it was overall a very good ending.
Maybe you didn't like the ending, but that doesn't make it a bad ending. In short; ME3 had a good but disliked ending. There's a difference between the two.

'people just simply weren't happy with their character dying'. I could sit here and ask if you've been paying attention at all...Which if your brushing this off in that matter you obviously haven't been. But instead I'm just gonna quote SNL: "I'm gonna assume you know why that's stupid and move on."

Welcome to the Forums. Sadly, I disagree with you on a lot of things.
First, let me establish something: Mass Effect is a Role Playing Series.
That might seem obvious, but a few of your points ignore this completely. When you play Shepard, you aren't doing the same sort of thing as when you play Master Chief in Halo, Blackburn from BF3, Raynor in SC2 - you are playing a character of your own forging. It is not Bioware's character, it is yours. This is evident from the number of decisions you make about your character, from the basic 'What do you look like?' to covering philosophical issues such as religion. You are given choice as to how you enact, and Shepard's attitude, who they are, and what they will and will not do, has never been dictated by Bioware. Well, until ME3.
In ME3, most of your dialogue is chosen for you. You don't get to choose how your Shepard reacts to things. The Dream sequences you mentioned would not occur for some Shepards - yet they are forced to because Bioware wanted Shepard to be haunted by that. I can honestly say my Shepard doesn't give two s***s about that kid down on Earth, or anybody for that matter. Yet suddenly, they are forced to because Bioware decided they should. This also carries through to the endings. There is no choice to even try to stand against the Reapers [A point which I will discuss more later on], there is only the Diabolus Ex Machinas that the Catalyst presents you. This element of choice is taken away from you, and you are left to make a decision not for your own Shepard, but for the Shepard Bioware envisioned. No legitimacy is given to a Shepard that does nothing, merely a game over screen. This may not seem like a problem, but it ties into the free will theme - which has existed throughout the series - and would, if you are correct in your assumptions of the Reaper's strength, be the 'Reapers win' ending we were promised by Devs.

Next, I would like to address the 'Free Will' theme. Whilst you may not have noticed it, it has always been prominent in the series. Think back to the final fight of ME1. What was the first half of it? A conversation with Saren. What was that conversation about? The same thing that had been discussed before, both with Saren and with others on Virmire - Indoctrination. Half of the final fight in Mass Effect 1 is about free will. Can Saren break through the control established by Sovereign, regain his free will, and then sacrifice himself for the greater good?
Fast Forward to ME2. What is something Miranda tells you about your resurrection? She wanted to plant a control chip in you - to take away your free will. This is used to paint a positive light on the Illusive man, as he prevented her from doing so.
Then into ME3, what was the final fight? No, it wasn't Marauder Shields. It was a conversation with the Illusive man about controlling the Reapers, and again, indoctrination. Can you break through and convince him that he is being controlled. Can he regain his free will and sacrifice himself, or is he still beholden to the Reapers?
The Indoctrination theme has been strong running in the series right from the first game, and is all about free will. Free will is a theme expressed in Mass Effect through both the gameplay and through the narrative, and is even more important a theme because of this.

Now, on to your points:
1. Sacrifice for the greater good.
As you have noticed, this theme has been prominent throughout all of Mass Effect. There are two problems with it in ME3 though: That it affects Shepard, and how that is handled.
The first part of this problem is that Shepard themselves is now affected by this. Whilst you believe them not being affected by this would destroy the theme, I think you are utterly wrong in this regard. Simply because others sacrifice themselves does not mean you must. If your three friends threw themselves infront of a bus in a futile attempt to stop it from hitting an old lady, would you HAVE to jump infront of that same bus? Would there be no sacrifice if you didn't?
No. This paragraph of yours illustrates it perfectly:

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. These are just the main ones, there are times of smaller tales of sacrifice for the greater good such as the Krogan dying on the Rachni planet, or the Rachni queen dying if the Krogan team is saved.

All throughout the game sacrifice is rife. The theme runs strong. You suggest that if Shepard didn't die, the theme would be destroyed. I disagree.
Was the theme destroyed in ME1 because Shepard didn't die to stop Saren and Sovereign?
Was it destroyed in ME2 because you had to REALLY screw up for Shepard to die to stop the Collectors?
If you answered no to either of the above, there is no reason for it to be forced now. This part of the problem is the minor part however. The major part is how Shepard's death is handled.
The handling of Shepards death is nothing short of atrocious. Imagine LOTR, the ring has fallen into the lava, but it doesn't get destroyed. Suddenly, Sauron laughs and says Frodo must jump into the lava and sacrifice himself for the Ring to be destroyed. Imagine Star Wars, once the Emperor is dead Vader reveals to Luke that the new Deathstar can only be destroyed if he jumps into its core, and it is otherwise invulnerable.
These would be terrible ways to end those stories. There is no reason for the main protagonist to die, yet the death is forced. This same problem occurs in the Mass Effect 3 endings. A Diabolus Ex Machina is enacted to force the main character's death, without any real reason given for why this must be the case. Many people would not have cared so much if we saw the Normandy do a suicide run, ramming Harbinger to try and give Shepard a chance to reach the Conduit. We wouldn't have cared had we seen our squadmates die under Reaper fire as they tried to allow us passage. We wouldn't have cared had Shepard died fighting, or had been killed by Harbinger as he activated the Crucible, or had the Illusive man come back in husk form and shot him in the back, before the Catalyst destroyed it [A bit of a push with that one though]. Why? There is a quantifiable reason for Shepard and the Squad's death. To stop the Reapers from achieving their goals, or because they were caught off guard.
In the ME3 endings, we have no such reason for Shepard's death. 'You must jump into a beam of light and be obliterated', 'Why?'. 'Because your DNA will fuel the creation of synthesis!'. 'Can I make a blood donation instead? You know, enough of my DNA is already splattered over this station, and I could send a bit more through. No reason I have to die thought'. 'Yes, you must die'. 'Why?'. 'Because... You must'.
'You will dissolve into nothingness upon grasping those handles'. 'Why?'. 'Because you must die, no other reason'.
'An explosion will kill you when you shoot that power conduit'. 'Well, I'll just line up a shot from here then...'. 'You can't'. 'Why not?'. 'You must be within the explosion's range'. 'Why?'. 'Because you must die'.
Out of the lot, Synthesis is the best explained, but it is still sketchy at best. Why does Shepard need to die to activate the Crucible? Why is there no conventional means to do so?
The game turns something that should occur normally into something that the character must die for. In this case it is most equivalent to a gun that requires the user to shoot themselves in the head, and it will then kill their target. Why? No reason given. The user must die, that's all you need to know.
Had Shepard died through a means that made sense - KIA by Reaper forces, by Harbinger, by an Illusive man Husk - many wouldn't have minded so much. They would still be upset about the mistake that was Shepard's death, but it would not be as important a point in their minds had the reasons for Shepard's death been not so non-existent.
You also bring up the "Hero's journey" argument, though in somewhat the wrong context. You will find that when people use this argument, they don't refer to wanting Shepard to live, the are referring to the utter failure to follow this narrative structure in the end of ME3. The game ends on its climax. There are few, if any, works that do this successfully, and ME3 isn't one of them. There is no 'Return with the Elixir' stage, the game ends on its climax. There is no resolution or closure, only the climax. This utter failure to follow the narrative structure that has been used throughout the rest of the series - both collectively, each game individually, and often each mission individually as well - is what people refer to as one of the literary failings of the ME3 ending.

2. Entropy. This you have split into two parts: The cycles in the story, and the reasons the Reapers can't be beaten. I will address both.
Firstly, the cycles. Whilst it is undeniable that these cycles exist, what many object to is the assertion that Organics and Synthetics will ALWAYS be at war, and ALWAYS try to kill each other, and even then, that synthetics will ALWAYS win.
All such ideas are destroyed in ME3. Firstly, that organics and synthetics will always be at war. It is easy to see how this is wrong: The Quarians and Geth united, EDI hooking up with Joker. Synthetics and organics are not always trying to kill each other, and are not always at war. This is one of the main parts of the game - disproving such an assertion. The entire Rannoch segment of ME3, and Legion from ME2 - are made pointless by the end, as their message is utterly revoked by the Catalyst, who claims that such things cannot happen.
Then, lets assume that the Quarians and Geth had kept on fighting. Who would have won? Thanks to the Reapers, likely the Geth. Lets take the Reapers out of the equation though, considering their purpose is to protect organics by killing them. Who would have won? The Quarians, easily. Without the Reaper code, the Geth are utterly outgunned by the Quarians, and are wiped out. The technological singularity point is revoked.
In the Prothean's cycle, the galaxy was united to defeat AI. It is implied that the Organics began to win. Then the Reapers showed up.
For the Reapers' purpose being to protect organics, they seem to put more effort into protecting synthetics
Whilst it may be true that synthetics and organics will eventually go to war, the Reapers do nothing to prevent this - they actually encourage it - and in doing so are both the cause for such wars, and the failed 'solution' to them.
Secondly, the fact that the galaxy can not defeat the Reapers. This is never hinted at throughout any of the games. What is hinted at is that we can not defeat them alone. I ask you though, is the Systems Alliance alone in this fight? Or do they have the support of Krogan, Turian, Salarian, Asari, Batarian, Volus, Elcor, the Blue Suns, Eclipse, Blood Pack, Ex Cerberus Operatives and more. This is a threat that the Reapers have never faced before - a fact that you seem to forget.
It is established in ME1 that the only reason the Reapers are so successful is because they catch their enemies completely off guard. Not off guard in a 'You didn't believe we were real, so now Palavan is burning' way, but in a 'You didn't know we existed, so we jumped through the Citadel Relay, destroyed your government, shut down the entire relay network then picked you off one by one' way. They have never before faced the combined might of the galaxy in one fight.
Yes, the Reapers are strong. We, however, are stronger. The Reaper forces are spread across the Galaxy - not just at Earth - and whilst what is at Earth is the largest concentration of their forces, it is nowhere near all of them. Four Dreadnoughts can destroy one Reaper capital ship. We have over 100. A handful of cruisers and frigates can take down a Reaper Destroyer - we have thousands. These numbers are based off conventional Mass Accelerator weaponry. Most fleets have been equipped with Thannix Heat Based Weaponry - which is even more effective vs the Reapers. It would be perfectly possible to defeat the Reaper fleet at Earth - if you had the entire galaxy behind you. Heavy losses would be inevitable, but heavier losses would be inflicted on the Reapers. In addition to our superior numbers, what effect does taking out an enemy ship have for each fleet? If you take out a Sword/Shield Frigate or Cruiser, you are making a minimal impact on the overall firepower of Sword. You take out a Dreadnought, you are making a small impact on the overall firepower. You take out one Reaper Destroyer, you've taken a small amount of firepower away. Take out a Capital ship, you've taken a relatively large amount of firepower away. Each casualty inflicted on the Reapers gains Sword an even greater advantage than it had before.
The Reapers are far from unbeatable. We have them fighting us on relatively easy ground - for the first time in the history of the galaxy - and our fleet is actually stronger than theirs - at Earth, if you did everything right.

3. Finally, the ending in relation to Forgiveness. This largely ties into what I said earlier about this being a Role Playing Game, not a linear game. You are playing your Shepard, not Bioware's.
You state that Shepard feels guilty about the losses of all those left behind - but what do you base your evidence on? What YOUR Shepard felt, and the dreams that we were forced into. My Shepard is a survivor. If there is a cost that can be taken to save themself, they'll do it. This is galactic war, and whilst it would be nice to save everyone, Shepard for me feels that the most important person to save is themself. There is no guilt about Thessia. There is anger that he failed, and anger that the councillor hadn't told him about this sooner, but no guilt. Likewise, my Shepard felt no guilt for that kid. It was one kid out of billions that died during this war, and he was more concerned with whether Anderson made it out, or whether the Normandy would become that Reaper's next target.
This is one of the big failings of the third game on the whole - it takes away a lot of that role playing aspect, and forces Shepard to become the character that Bioware want them to be. This is extremely evident in the ending where Shepard literally just gives up. There is no fight. There is no 'What if you're lying to me?'. There is nothing but pure acceptance and defeatism. The only thing I can think of that would be going through Shepard's head is 'Damn, we lost, and now I die because some stupid hologram is telling me to. F***'.
My Shepard ain't a Paragon, he don't give two sh**s about who he has to sacrifice to win this war - so long as its not himself. This isn't a choice that Bioware should get to make, especially when they've established this as a Role Playing Game, where Shepard is your Shepard, and they've put forward numerous promises about what the ending could be. This is why ME3 is, by my standards, the worst game in the series. Its combat is better than 1 and two, as is its ability system and arguably the inventory too, but in the role playing department it falls way behind. Shepard is no longer your Shepard, they're Bioware's Shepard.

Mass Effect 3's ending is neither a great, nor the greatest ending. It barely even qualifies for 'OK'. You have addressed few of the many issues that people find with it. Things such as plot holes, the literary failings of the ending, the lack of choice, broken developer promises, destruction of Shepard as a character, random space magic, diabolous ex machina, no closure - the ending is plainly bad.
I will direct you to read a few articles on this. For example:
http://jmstevenson.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/all-that-matters-is-the-ending-part-2-mass-effect-3/
http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10056886
and watch this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MlatxLP-xs

There are a ton of things wrong with the endings. They are not great. They are not good. They are barely mediocre. They spit on the ideas formed by the rest of the series - not simply narrative ideas such as the Free Will theme, but also Role Playing ideas, and the idea that Shepard is your character. The ending is a failure when all is taken into account. It does not accomplish its purpose. It is literarily unsound. It takes the key ideas established in the gameplay of the series, and some of the narrative ideas, and throws them out the window. It disregards everything that the Mass Effect franchise stood for, and that is why people hate it.

Your Very Own Personal MeatBag:

Hammeroj:
You mean, you figured the series would end by the worst MacGuffin in recent history?

The ending makes sense, people just simply weren't happy with their character dying.
Though I do agree that the endings cutscene could have been more detailed in regards to the other characters' fates, it was overall a very good ending.
Maybe you didn't like the ending, but that doesn't make it a bad ending. In short; ME3 had a good but disliked ending. There's a difference between the two.

That people are still coming to this conclusion after so many reasoned discussions is just plain insulting.

Thank you for such a wonderful and eloquent analysis of the Mass Effect 3 ending. Unfortunately it was probably followed by many posts from the idiot masses who are angry about your favorable view on it. But, you put to words many of the reasons I liked the ending.

Alright, I'm just going to sit in the back corner of this debate and watch from the sidelines, since I haven't actually played ME3 myself and I'm not qualified to talk on it, but I'm noticing a few reoccurring trends:

Anti-ending team: No, you're wrong, and here are reasons A B and C for why. I disagree with you, and am still upset.

Pro-Ending team: You're all just mad that your character died, that, or you're all idiots that don't 'get' what Bioware was trying to say.

Anti-ending team: I think we've said MANY times that we don't really care about rather or not our character died, and if you'll just take a look at my-

Pro-Ending team: NO U!!!! UR ALL JUST ON THE BANDWAGON

...........

I'll admit that I'm a bit biased, what with my Anti-EA policy of recent days, but this thread is just getting comedic.

Carry on, everybody.

psicat:
Thank you for such a wonderful and eloquent analysis of the Mass Effect 3 ending. Unfortunately it was probably followed by many posts from the idiot masses who are angry about your favorable view on it. But, you put to words many of the reasons I liked the ending.

I think this is right here the reason that this ending discussion has gotten out of hand. The sudden assumption or demonizing of the other side. For example the "It was probably followed by many posts from the idiot masses..". You arn't helping anything by doing that. And if you would take the time to read and look, perhaps you would note that people are annoyed for very specific and perhaps good reasons.

When lots of people complain, perhaps it is better to look than just assume they are all insane.

Its bad storytelling.

You don't add a new character in the last 5 minutes of a game with a new dilemma that supersedes the previous plot.

(the focused goal of stopping reapers get pushed aside so you can "solve the dilemma of organics and inoraganics" <---which is all bullshit anyways. Where does it state again that ALL robots will turn against their creators no matter what again? Because some glowly space kid told me? My Shepard wouldn't have given him a fucking thought.)

And there isn't even a sense of accomplishment to any of the options. The space kid LETS YOU pick whatever the fuck you want. Thats right, the person in control of robots that kill everything because he says nature demands it just lets you do whatever the hell you want with the universe. Because....magic.

And why would killing all inorganics kill ANYONE with a robot implant? So you kill all amputees and people with medical conditions too? This is ridiculously stupid. Robots aren't organic, and a human with inoragnic parts isn't a robot!

And what does turning everything into a half-robot/half-organic solve again? Why is that even an option? Do humans brains devolve so our decisions are based of programming and robots grow skin then? Who the hell wrote this?

And you can't question any of this. You can't talk to the kid, and he only has 14 lines of dialogue anyways. And it doesn't matter what you pick, everyone gets stranded on earth and left for dead no matter the option.

Hyper-space:

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).

As many others have pointed out more eloquently then I will his understanding of the theme of sacrifice is shotty to start with.

Do I really need to sit down and list all the examples of sheperd overcoming the odds? how about the entirety of the series up until the last 10 mins.

Seanfall:

I agree with your side here completely. But in the Arrival DLC you took out a Batarian colony world. Not the homeworld. The Batarian's are still devastated by the reapers though. It's a bad sign when the husks of your race are the reapers front line forces. It means they got a loooot of you to go around. And I was gonna ask how the Quarians are messed...then I remember that codex entry that mentions the cybernetics they have to interface with their suits. So it's not much of a leap to assume their ships are built around the same idea.

ah, ok I never played the DLC, so I was working off of the fact that there were so many batarian refugee's and there was a whole plot arc about a batarian general killing humans because he blames them for the destruction of his people.

SargentToughie:
Alright, I'm just going to sit in the back corner of this debate and watch from the sidelines, since I haven't actually played ME3 myself and I'm not qualified to talk on it, but I'm noticing a few reoccurring trends:

Anti-ending team: No, you're wrong, and here are reasons A B and C for why. I disagree with you, and am still upset.

Pro-Ending team: You're all just mad that your character died, that, or you're all idiots that don't 'get' what Bioware was trying to say.

Anti-ending team: I think we've said MANY times that we don't really care about rather or not our character died, and if you'll just take a look at my-

Pro-Ending team: NO U!!!! UR ALL JUST ON THE BANDWAGON

...........

I'll admit that I'm a bit biased, what with my Anti-EA policy of recent days, but this thread is just getting comedic.

Carry on, everybody.

Actually this isn't too far off. Everyone does seem to be assuming we're pissed off that Shepard died when we have mostly all agreed that Shepard dying is just fine.

In other news:
Ghost Recon Future Soldier and Prototype 2 both come out next month!

lordmardok:

Seanfall:

I agree with your side here completely. But in the Arrival DLC you took out a Batarian colony world. Not the homeworld. The Batarian's are still devastated by the reapers though. It's a bad sign when the husks of your race are the reapers front line forces. It means they got a loooot of you to go around. And I was gonna ask how the Quarians are messed...then I remember that codex entry that mentions the cybernetics they have to interface with their suits. So it's not much of a leap to assume their ships are built around the same idea.

ah, ok I never played the DLC, so I was working off of the fact that there were so many batarian refugee's and there was a whole plot arc about a batarian general killing humans because he blames them for the destruction of his people.

Ooooh yeah bahalk...or bayllak...or Bayleaf? O.o that guy with the yellow head. He's actually from a DLC from ME1 which if you have a PS3 or just didn't buy it you probably wouldn't know who he is. Can't blame ya. He takes over a huge asteroid and tries to destroy the planet Terra Nova. In the DLC: Bringing down the Sky. He Blames humans for the Batarians fall from grace. And their losses when they tried to enslave lots of humans. He has different dialogue depending on if you picked War Hero, or Ruthless backgrounds. He's an extermeist. But yeah in ME3 he has, threw the Arrival DLC, a Legitimate reason to hate Shepard. But he takes it too far.

So, essentially:

Nothing you do can stop the reapers, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you will fail and goddammit, YOU WILL LIKE IT.

Oh, another one of these threads, is it? "No, you don't like the ending because you don't understand it."

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty was defended with this garbage argument, and very similar posts. Didn't change the fact that Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is easily one of the most poorly written games ever made, and wrote out an entire expansion pack worth of story development.

Using your concepts in play, OP, and the style of your defence, The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions are potentially two of the single greatest motion pictures of all time. Except, ya know, they're not. They're poorly written, poorly paced, poorly acted; it's not about the themes and their understand - it's about execution and coherency of those themes.

The last two Matrix films both failed to present themselves in a well executed and coherent manner. The thematic discussions contained within those films are, strangely enough, incredibly interesting: free will versus destiny, choice versus reaction, emotion versus logic - however, they were so badly presented, executed thus incoherent as to render such discussions pointless.

A badly executed ending is still a badly executed ending. And Mass Effect 3's ending was easily one of worst executed endings in living memory. The primary issues that both - both - previous titles deferred their catharthiic resolutions. That's a massive fucking "no no" in any story telling medium if the final entry's resolution is "chose the lesser of three evils." Congratulations: you provided zero pay off to your audience.

It's story telling 101. And Casey Hudson is a fucking terrible story teller; the ending is the most important part of any Epic, as it is what bestills a lasting relationship. All classic Epic tales had well executed endings - not happy endings, but well told ones.

Zeh Don:
Oh, another one of these threads, is it? "No, you don't like the ending because you don't understand it."

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty was defended with this garbage argument, and very similar posts. Didn't change the fact that Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is easily one of the most poorly written games ever made, and wrote out an entire expansion pack worth of story development.

Actually, no, Starcraft 2 wasn't defended with that argument, or at least not anywhere as prevalently as the other two. Which were:
1) Yeah, well, y'know, that's just like, uh, your opinion man.
2) Blizzard's writing always sucked! Why are you expecting anything better than garbage?

That's not the reason I'm quoting you, though. I'm curious as to what the part of your post I bolded means.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-common-movie-arguments-that-are-always-wrong_p2/

It occurs to me that #3 and #1 apply nicely to the OP.

Hammeroj:
...Actually, no, Starcraft 2 wasn't defended with that argument, or at least not anywhere as prevalently as the other two...

Well, sorry champ, but it was - refer to the offical Starcraft II forums' Story Forum, I believe these types of threads are still floating near the front pages - however it was eventually abandonded because there wasn't anything to understand: Starcraft II's plot was utter garbage; there was no deeper meaning. Mass Effect 3 will eventually reach the same point: it was shit, we know it was shit, the developer knows it was shit, and they don't give a single fuck because they got paid.

[quote="Hammeroj" post="9.361199.14208063]...I'm curious as to what the part of your post I bolded means.[/quote]
Starcraft: Brood War was written out of existence so that Starcraft II's "Romantic" aspect could be written in - a weak and cliche plot device that enabled Blizzard's writters to give Jim Raynor clearer motivations that serve the necessity of creating a Zerg-focused Expansion pack without forcing the player to be the villian - something that they're trying to avoid as they move to "mass market" appeal.

This doesn't flow. In Starcraft II, after the ending of the opening mission, Jim Raynor comments on a picture of Sarah. The undertone is that of longing for his beloved. However, during and at the conclusion of Starcraft: Brood War, Jim Raynor makes his motivations quite clear: he means to kill Sarah, The Queen of Blades, for all the people she's killed - including his friend, who no longer exists.

Blizzard's writters chose to re-cycle the Warcraft plotline for Starcraft II, because it had already worked. This required a sympathetic anti-Hero - which The Queen of Blades is not. So, they transformed Jim Raynor's motivations from hate to love, so that he could "save her", giving them their necessary plot device to enact the "misunderstood Bad Guys" aspect of the Warcraft plotline, and paint the Zerg as slaves, like the Orcs, instead of the mindless drones to the hive mind that the original Starcraft did.

This then enables a Zerg focused expansion pack where they play as the "badass anti-hero" good guys. It's one of the worst re-writes in video gaming history.
Another example is the Tychus fiasco; they added this charcter into the game's plot line after the release of the cinematic trailer, which featured a no-name marine being suited up. This got them a lot of questions as to who the character was. They originall answered "Just a marine, no one special" but created Tychus because they kept getting questions; they figured they had "something cool" they could use. Unfortunately, because of the late addition, his entire plotline feels like a half-baked and weak afterthought - because it totally fucking was.

I apologize for the long time it took me to respond to people. I enjoyed reading the majority of these posts and I wanted to simply wait to respond to everyone at once. I did indeed read every post. My goal was to get this done before Friday when Bioware announces that the Indoctrination theory is correct at the PAX panel. A common theme that came up though was you dislike that I said I have a degree in literature. If you were somehow insulted by this take solace in the fact it cost me $100,000 and still couldn't get me a job.

Hal10k: I would say 20% max of our interactions with the Geth have been positive, considering they were an enemy in all of ME1, and most of ME2, it isn't until ME3 that you become super friends. I'll ignore all that though, because I understand according to the narrative these were all reaper controlled Geth you were fighting. However, we do know form the history Bioware created that the Quarians and Geth have been at war for hundreds of years. I think this pretty much shows synthetic/organic relations are problematic. We also find out in ME3 that the Prothean empire also warred with their own synthetics that they created. So I would hardly say that Synthetic/Organic relations have been going well. If you also believe the reapers theory then this has been happening every single cycle, now if you feel the reapers are lying then yea it might be more difficult to believe. I also don't believe that finding out a VI controls all reapers is some crazy plothole that makes no sense. Someone must control them, why not a VI. I certainly agree though Bioware should have introduced the idea much earlier and paced it better. I believe this was due to a rush in production.

UnusualStranger: I certainly agree with your first point. I wish Bioware could have told a story where the ending fits all characters imaginable and hopefully someday this will be possible in gaming. I guess my argument would be that I feel it's clear in the third game Bioware plays a much stronger rule in deciding what the narrative is then in the other games and attempts to force your character to be a certain way which might indeed go completely against how you perceive your own character. However, I would say the ending that results from this is in line with the themes Bioware is attempting to portray in their game. I feel that "story frustration" will be unavoidable for some people even if Bioware had did the best job possible.
I cannot agree with your second point. Yes Shepard does succeed in the other games, but I feel that is mainly because he is the main character and Bioware wanted a trilogy. So instead they cause other people in the story to be sacrificed instead. If anything I would say it's sacrifice with hope, I certainly don't believe Bioware is saying everything is hopeless. Kaiden/Ashley died, but their actions created hope for the future, Mordin died but he created hope for the Krogan, Shepard died you saved the galaxy.
I also agree with your third point in so far as you say that Bioware should have given better closure and this idea that they can constantly make DLC is terrifying (although I will add that at the end of LOTR you actually have to buy the Similarion to find out literally everything that happened in the end). I don't feel this is a bad ending though, I guess mainly because I enjoy trying to analyze things. One of my favorite books of all time is John Fowles "The Magus" which might be the most famous literary work of all time to have such a jarring ending. It just basically ends on a cliff hanger and your only option is to analyze everything that happened in the book to decide what this ending means for the characters. I consider this the greatest ending in literary history. If you read "The Magus" you can probably understand why I love ME3, although I know a lot of people despise "The Magus" as well.

Agayek: I would certainly agree that a theme of the series is defiance of fate and fight against inevitability. In ME 1 the reapers themselves pretty much say, we are inevitability now fight us. However, in ME 3 the narrative basically concludes by saying you can only beat us if you sacrifice yourself. Therefore I feel sacrifice is a more important theme to discuss. You are certainly defying inevitability by dying, because your sacrifice does what no other species in the millions of years of the reapers inevitability has been able to do. I guess I feel your disconnect is that Shepard needs to live in order to defy inevitability, while personally I believe he has defied inevitability with his death.
Secondly, yes I completely agree another theme in the series is diversity combining physical, sexual, and cultural diversity. However, In my view synthesis doesn't disregard this. I don't see how synthesis would wipe out cultural diversity, all these cultures still exist. In my opinion it would be like saying everyone is organic and therefore not diverse. As far as I can tell from the synthesis ending everyone also still looks physically and sexually different and this hasn't changed either. I guess bioware should have explained what they meant by synthesis better, but my understanding of it is all species will be made up of synthetic and organic parts, but that doesn't mean they all share one mind or they all now think alike.
The final point you make about the Catalyst saying the cycle is inescapable is true, if you pick the destruction ending. If you pick Synthesis the Catalyst doesn't know if the cycle will repeat itself. I also feel the control ending gets at this as well. If you believe in free will and you avoid destruction, since that kills the Geth and proves the Catalyst point, then you can probably believe that if you control them the galaxy has a shot at not repeating the cycle.

Neonsilver: First of all, what I'm saying is that if you hated the ending solely because Shepard died then you missed the concept of sacrifice that runs throughout the narrative. I am not saying this is the only reason people hated the ending. However, you are wrong if you think people didn't hate the ending because of this. When it comes to private blogs/articles then yes you are correct, very few of these people hated the ending because Shepard dies. But, if you read forums there are tons of posts from people saying this is exactly why they hated the ending.

Seanfall: After the mission on Rannoch you fight a reaper, it takes the entire Quarian fleet syncing their weapons with the Normandy's targeting to destroy 1 reaper. The Reapers have constantly exterminated civilizations before, I literally cannot imagine that in the million years they have successfully been doing this no race has attempt to do what Shepard has done. However, let us say you are correct and this literally is the first time the Reapers have had to fight the combined fleets of a united galaxy. First, they slaughtered the entire Earth fleet in the opening of the game, they then crushed a large portion of the Turian fleet, even with Krogan support you speak to Garrus and learn that the Reapers will soon win and therefore they have ordered all ships to retreat. Then you have Admiral Hackett telling you pretty much in every conversation that even with a massive fleet you are going to lose. Finally, when you get to Earth at the end you learn the Reapers have massacred your entire ground force, and I believe what they say is that only 50% of your ground forces make it to the ground (I apologize I can't remember, but it's a low number and my friend who just won assures me it's 50%). I guess I could be insanely wrong, but unless you are correct and Bioware has no idea what they are doing, then I can only assume they constantly tell you this so that when you get to the end you believe these are your only options because anything else will end in the death of everyone.

Chinangel: The game is about sacrifice. The fact you can't personally choose whether you sacrifice yourself or not doesn't matter. You are confusing the game mechanic of player choice with the actual narrative. Bioware has written that Shepard is willing to sacrifice themselves and in the end does. Simply because I am never given the choice to be like screw this bs Joker plot a course for the Andromeda Galaxy we are out of here and I'll just live with all my friends on the Normandy does not change the fact the game is about sacrifice. Yes in Dragon Age Origins you are given a moral choice that decides this outcome, but in ME 3 you are instead told you don't get the choice this is simply who your Shepard is. Now obviously people are upset that their character that they created wouldn't do this, however that doesn't change the actual narrative Bioware wrote for this game. The fact everyone else sacrificed themselves to get Shepard to this point does not somehow negate Shepards sacrifice to give the deathblow to the Reapers.
To say the hero hasn't overcome great odds is even more ridiculous. No matter what ending you picked, you defeated the Reapers. An evil that has plagued the galaxy for millions of years. Literally, even if all your friends die and galactic civilization collapses you have accomplished what no one in the history of the universe has ever been able to do. I can only assume you are trolling me about the Bioshock ending being good, because most people despise it.

Vuljatar: Transhumanism is a huge theme in this series. In ME1 you have people being turned into husks. At the end of ME1 Saren is merged with massive amounts of Reaper tech. At the start of ME2 Shepard is fitted with synthetic tech to bring you back to life, not to mention again that you are fighting people that are being combined with Reaper tech. The final battle in ME2 is a huma/reaper hybrid. Also the biotics are people merged with technology to amplify their biotic powers. The synthesis ending is not surprising at all. You are correct that control of the Reapers is constantly said to be bad, however until the last scene you didn't know the crucible can give you this power and just assumed control meant physically controlling them and basically having them as your own personal army. I do not feel this is what happens at the control ending at all. However, let's say you are right, then it is indeed a gamble to try this so you should pick synthesis, which as I just explained makes perfect sense. I did indeed read that article you linked, my answers to other people's questions deals with most of those questions as does my overall analysis. The only thing I cannot explain is the Normandy randomly flying away.

VivaciousDeimos: First I want to thank you for sharing that link (http://jmstevenson.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/all-that-matters-is-the-ending-part-2-mass-effect-3/) I think that may be my favorite article I have ever read on ME3 and the ME series in general. I would highly recommend everyone read this writers insight into the game. That being said I don't agree with his analysis. If I was to defend his analysis I think the only way to do so would be to say the entirety of ME1 is the Call to Adventure, ME2 would then be the Time of Trials, ME3 would then be the Resurrection/Return with the Elixir phase. He instead broke each game into it's own Hero's Journey, which certainly is possible to say, but I think examining the whole series is the stronger argument.
However, while he does indeed note the structure of a hero's journey he most like purposely ignores many of the other aspects (I say purposely, because I think it's extremely clear he does know exactly what he is talking about). Mainly the Call to Adventure can't be about an already established hero, that's kind of the point of the Hero's journey. The journey of self-discovery, over coming adversity, eventually becoming a hero. If Shepard was just starting in the Alliance Navy then you could do that, but Shepard is already too much of a hero for this to work, at least in my view (off the top of my head I can think of no story that uses this narrative structure where the hero is already an actual hero. The closest I can think of is the Odyssey, but that basically starts off by knocking the hero down to normal standards. I guess you could argue that the Reapers are such an overwhelming threat that Shepard after Eden Prime is so far knocked down in his view of the galaxy and himself that the story is basically his recreation into this even greater Hero). Despite, this fact I will agree that you could say a hero's journey is a narrative theme in this work. But, I would certainly not suggest it as the main theme of the story as the Hero's Journey is more about narrative structure.
I also disagree with the writers post that Shepard using the crucible and sacrificing themselves does not complete the final phase of the Hero's Journey narrative. The Crucible is the elixir phase and Shepard uses it. Final point, even if we all agree that the main theme/narrative is the concept of the Hero's Journey then this ending is appropriate, because nothing in this theme means the hero should or will survive, the poster even suggest that Shepard should die in the end.

Jshrike: If you actually had a degree in literature or film studies you would understand that while endings are certainly important, it is faulty logic to conclude a work is a failure because part of the ending is bad. The Cantebury Tales is considered one of the greatest literary works and it does not even have an ending. Blade Runner had a terrible original ending and no one went around saying that film is a failure, same thing with Great Expectations. I don't even think the cutscene in itself is bad, I think it's bad because Bioware should have put more into it, but nothing that occurs in that cutscene bothers me, except the Normandy flying away. I said let's not focus on the cutscene, because I feel there is nothing to even focus on, it is generic as far as analysis goes. What am I going to analyze in the cutscene, the mass relays exploding? The meat of the ending is all in that part before it, which is why I focus my analysis on that.
I also honestly believe that Shepard being alive if you have enough war assets at the end is quite frankly Bioware just throwing people a bone, which is why it requires such a high war asset rating. I seriously doubt anyone at Bioware considered that the ending. Also in regards to destruction, you are proving the Reapers right, because you have other options to defeat them and not kill the Geth. How about control ending and then fly all reapers into a sun, problem solved.

Dwarfman, Reet72, The Forces of Chaos: I wish Bioware did pay me. Then I wouldn't be sitting around with this useless degree in literature.

Vrach: This guy basically says what all my answers are to the supposed plot holes, so I'm not going to go through it again. If you disagreed with his post you'd disagree with mine.

Kasurami: First point, yea I certainly can see this. Bioware definitely should have done a better job of making it feel more impactful, it does indeed feel like Shepard is just giving up. However, they did get hit by a giant ass laser beam so I'll cut them some slack if they weren't at their strongest. I too would have preferred some more emotion from Shepard when told these are the only options.
Second point, I do actually know what Entropy means. However, it was very stupid of me to try and combine the myriad of things I tried to discuss under this theme as Entropy. I knew I wanted to discuss the idea of the Reapers having this Order v. Chaos thing going on. Where they believe the universe will always end in chaos and they are trying to bring order to it by creating this cycle that stops the chaos, and then combining this thought with the concept of the inescapable cycles repeating themselves. I really like the word Entropy and thought close enough, even though I knew if you really understood the definition of Entropy what I'm talking about doesn't quite match up. Obviously, you still understood the idea I was trying to convey, so thank you for still analyzing it anyway. That being said I do agree that a theme is breaking the cycle, for the reasons you said. I would disagree that the endings ignore this idea though. Control ending might or might not continue the cycle. Synthesis I believe breaks the cycle. Destruction I believe goes back to the entropy concept that you broke the reaper cycle, but because of it this inescapable chaos the reapers were trying to stop is now going to occur.
Third point, I find Shepard's death to be heroic. The entire weight of the galaxy is on your shoulders and these are your options and none of them are the options you want. Shepard does what must be done and ends the war no matter what option you pick. I find this to be heroic. Also, while it is true that happy endings of course can be just as mature as depressing endings I cannot imagine any happy ending for this game that would be a mature ending. I have read a variety of "fan" endings which are happy and I find all childish. If by happy you mean full of hope instead of happy in the sense everyone lives, then yes I can actually see a mature happy ending for this game. In your conclusion part I also agree with everything you said, except for the Mass Relay part. We know life survived due to the very end of the cutscene, therefore the Mass Relay's must have blown up in such a way that didn't wipe out entire star clusters. Also your point about Great Expectations I assume was gotten from the Wikipedia article instead of from reading actual literary criticism or having professors discuss it. Yes, according to Wikipedia critics now like the revised ending. I have never had a professor that put forth this view, nor would I agree with it. This might be because the professor I had was a big fan of the writers who were also fans of the original ending. However, everyone I knew always read Great Expectations with the original ending, they were my classmates though, so maybe you read it with the revised ending.

Izzy1320: I agree with everything you say, I would just clarify the one point that the reason I don't care much about the cutscene is I don't find anything wrong with it except the Normandy randomly flying off. I wasn't ignoring it in the sense that I don't consider it part of the ending, it is certainly part of the ending.

Joccaren: First Point, I certainly agree and see the problem here. The narrative of ME3 definitely strong arms Shepard into certain actions, and attempts to evoking certain feelings that could very much go against the character the player creates. In this sense it is very possible for this entire story to break down, because nothing that occurs would make any sense for your particular Shepard. I'm also not sure if Bioware could have done anything to fix that though...
Second point, I would certainly agree that free will is a very important theme in the series. The only thing I would say here is that in the end the narrative Bioware has created the concept seems to be that Shepard has as much free will to the extent that the AI/Catalyst allows them. Due to this, to analyze the endings given, I don't think examining the theme of free will is helpful (unless I was arguing that the ending is bad).
Third Point, I have responded to the Hero's journey theme from another poster, although you also worded it well the other guy beat you to it. As for Sacrifice, I certainly feel Bioware could have made a better reason for Shepard to sacrifice themselves. However, the way I see it is, for control Shepard merges with the Reapers and hence the organic form is destroyed. For the destroy ending, they said it was because you have synthetic parts, for synthesis I wasn't thinking so much of DNA as Shepard's human mind being what was required for synthesis.
I answered your fourth point in another post. I also feel I answered your final point in the same way as point 1. Indeed the fact that bioware wasn't able to adapt the game for everyone is a problem. I did read all your links and see the video as well though.

No one cares about mass effect anymore, bioware jumped the shark two games ago

BloatedGuppy:
http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-common-movie-arguments-that-are-always-wrong_p2/

It occurs to me that #3 and #1 apply nicely to the OP.

I don't really see that at all. That's actually quite a dumb article, #3 in particular is actually an extremely valid justification for Fantasy or Sci-fi movies. It's called "willing suspension of disbelief" and has been a justification for 200 years. Even Shakespeare mentions it in the prologue of one of his works (I forget which one).

And what do you think the OP's pet cause is (in reference to #1) ?

My only complaint was that we weren't provided closure for the universe and characters i loved so much.

I'm going to never to say you're wrong about the geth. They haven't been at war for centuries.
The Geth and Quarians had a war, that the Quarians started and the Geth won. At the end of it the Geth had a chance to completely kill off the Quarians but let them escape instead. After that the Geth avoided contact with organics for centuries. It wasn't until the Reapers started meddling that they showed up in organic space, and even then it was a rogue faction of them. The next war with e Geth is again started by the Quarians needlessly - they attack the Geth unprovoked and force them to seek Reaper aid to avoid being wiped out. The Geth never rebelled against their creators as the Starkid claims, they only ever fought in self defense or due to Reaper influence.

The entire theme of the Geth plot arc in ME is whether or not they should be considered 'alive' - you know the whole Blade Runner thing. "Does this unit have a soul?" summarizes the entire arc. Starkid simply comes along and tells us "No" synthetics don't have a right to exist alongside organics it can only be one or the other. Or apparently Synthesis ... Whatever the fuck that means.

Also since you bring up Javik's story about the whole synthetic problem they had I think it should be pointed out that what was actually happening was closer to a race attempting to achieve Synthesis than anything else.

My problem with the ending has nothing to do with Shepard dying, in fact I would prefer things if it had just ended with Shepard dying next to Anderson with the whole Starkid thing cut out. That was a beautiful moment right up until the magical space elevator comes out of nowhere.

Narrative themes of the games, as in plural, were that the reapers were evil and then some retard AI kid controlling them on the citadel and you have to ignore the entire plot of the first 2 games.

For all your genius, you couldn't figure out how stupid that is?

Where did you get your literature degree? "Add important characters in the last 5 minutes" University?

Add in the fact the endings were made for people without a quasi-english degree. You know, people with common sense enough to not spend several thousand dollars on a degree that is wholly worthless.

@Skyfyre:
I have read your very interesting analysis. Here's my take on things:

Sacrifice:

Yes, I agree it's a major theme in the series, in the last game more than ever. I also think that sacrifice should be a choice, else it isn't meaningful - and that ME3 actually provides you that choice if you have enough foreknowledge. You can survive under certain conditions - if you choose the worst ending (many people don't appear to get that). For the best ending, you have to make a sacrifice of all that you are.

However, that's not why most people dislike the ending. The problem is not that Shepard dies, but that everyone and everything else appears to be screwed alongside. At best, galactic civilization is fragmented, and people care about that much more than about some abstract new civilization arising in 10k years. Shepard has lost everything he had, we have lost Shepard, and while that's sad, it's also approriate. Losing everything *we* care for as players, that appears like a deliberate FU from the writers. I am willing to live with Shepard dying. I am unwilling to accept not having a choice about destroying galactic civilization - because that's what I set out to save. When people say the endings feel like a failure, that's what they are talking about.

Entropy:

The big problem here is your big if: "IF you can accept the Catalyst's reasoning". Then the final choice makes sense. However, while I play as if I do (and consequently choose Synthesis), I feel like I'm raping myself if that makes any sense, on two counts:
(1) Because the reasoning the Catalst gives me is insufficient, especially if you consider that every single hostile act by a synthetic against an organic, for all three games, has been either self-defense or the result of Reaper influence. The Catalyst doesn't give me any way to accept its reasoning without Shepard looking like an idiot. I don't even get the opportunity to question it.
(2) The Catalyst speaks as if I'm supposed to take it as some kind of divine authority. That flies in the face of one my Shepard's core traits. He accepts nothing on authority only, not even from superbeings. Since ME3 is also a roleplaying game, it should allow me to express myself in that way, even if in the end I'm forced into one of the three options anyway.

What's needed is more exposition from the Catalyst. If the Catalyst makes its rationale appears reasonable and plausible, I'd have no problem with acting on it. As nothing but a simple assertion, I cannot accept it.

Also about the Synthesis, the description flies in the face of logic. This becomes apparent if you compare the phrasing from the game script leaked in November. There it goes "We synthetics will become more like you, and organics will become more like us". While this is very vague, it's some I can work with to establish a coherent scenario, and it's very obvious that this is not supposed to destroy diversity of life. This new thing about the "final evolution of life" (I associate: stagnant) and "new DNA" (I associate: epic biology fail, not for the first time in the trilogy by far) is nonsensical. It makes the Synthesis a bitter pill to swallow unless you revert to analysing the symbolism and ignore the phrasing as an indicator of what really happens.

Forgiveness:

Bioware should not try to forcibly apply this to Shepard. All throughout the trilogy, there were many actions I was forced to do, which I would've done differently had I had a choice. That's ok, such things must exist for a coherent narrative. But I was always free to imagine what my Shepard thinks and feels about it all. Sometimes they made me feel things keenly and it was appropriate - like when I sabotaged the cure. But those dreams are odd. They didn't trigger anything and I personally I found them confusing and didn't know what to make of them.

Here's a concrete example of how guilt and forgiveness work well in the game: After I sabotaged the genophage cure, I felt like sh*t. I had killed one of my best friends in the name of necessity, I betrayed the krogan because I couldn't believe they could get their reproduction into control. It was very intense, and very well done by Bioware to bring the feeling home like that. A short time later, I watched Thane die. Because of respect, I took part in his prayer, only to be told that he had asked forgiveness from his goddess in my name. I am not religious, but that was a very powerful scene.

Those unnamed faces in the dreams, however, including the child, didn't touch me at all. I felt no connection to them because no connection had been made. Personally, I am also very averse to redemption themes, especially if it is implied that redemption equals death. My Shepard died for the future, not for the past, and I resent any attempt to put a different interpretation on it. The same with the other decisions. I didn't sabotage the cure because of an unwillingness to forgive, but because of concern for the future. Bioware shouldn't try to force motivations on the protagonist of a role-playing game beyond what is necessary for the plot. The only motivation necessary is "Shepard wants to stop the Reapers at whatever cost - to himself and to others."

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked