So today Bioware released the Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3, and I have to say…I’m impressed. Given the horrific mess that were the original endings, Bioware has done an excellent job making these Extended Cut endings both thematically consistent and emotionally satisfying. In a previous post I said I thought this Extended Cut would be like trying to put a new coat of paint on the smoldering ruins of a car, but Bioware has instead performed a magic trick; using smoke and mirrors to make the endings something that can be enjoyed by drawing our attention away from the flaws. Those smoke and mirrors are some excellent writing and a firm grasp of storytelling basics, something I thought Bioware had lost given the absolutely broken original endings. Whoever was responsible for the catastrophe of Mass Effect 3’s original ending clearly had nothing to do with the Extended Cut DLC.

Two of the biggest issues I had with the original endings was the lack of resolution and the core themes of the game being abandoned for pure nihilism, and Bioware has managed to fix both of these. And 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

3. Lack of Resolution – FIXED! 

Yes, I’m very happy to report that the new endings do give the audience a feeling of accomplishment and resolution. You no longer get a stupid 15 second clip of your team crashing on a planet and fading to black to spare you the sight of your friends slowly cannibalizing each other. Instead you get a rather touching moment in which your crew hangs your name (Commander Shepard) on the memorial plaque onboard the Normandy, right alongside all the others who fought and died alongside you, including Anderson. This is an important moment because it shows us the characters we’ve all grown to love sharing a moment to mourn the death of their friends, and for us, we can mourn with them because this represents the end of our journey together. Their story is over, and our time with them is done. That was the moment we needed, the moment we were all denied in the original endings.

Equally important is that we get some closure on the universe we’ve lived in for five years. Each concluding video gives a great narration by one of three characters, depending on which ending you pick, who give their unique view on the situation. Not only do these narrations give us some closure on what happens in the Mass Effect universe after the defeat of the Reapers, but also expand on what is happening in the endings themselves, helping to solve the next huge issue on my original list.

2. Abandoning of Established Themes and Characters – Fixed!

This was the biggest issue for me. All three of the original endings were so thematically different from the entire series that they felt like the endings to a totally different game. Now, however, thanks to the expanded endings reveal what the hell is going on in these endings.

Wait…what?

Of all three endings, Control was the one that really confused me. Yes, the Reapers flew off after Shepard took control but what the hell happens after that? It didn’t make any sense to me because what was happening wasn’t really explained aside from “yeah, you’ll control the reapers, just trust me.” Do the Reapers just fly off back into Dark Space? Do a little song and dance on Mars? What?

However, now, I think the Extended Cut Control ending is my favorite ending to the game:

Narrated by Shepard, or rather the collective consciousness born of Shepard’s personality merging with the Reapers, he explains what’s happening and why. The great thing about his narration is that, it not only gives us closure as to Shepard’s fate, but makes the control ending fit thematically with the rest of the series. All of the original endings featured Shepard dying for no real apparent reason. It was sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. It didn’t fit because Shepard, while always willing to sacrifice, didn’t simply do so just for the heck of it. In this video though, we see what his sacrifice allowed for:

I will rebuild what the many have lost. I will create a future with limitless possibilities. I will protect and sustain. I will act as guardian for many.

So basically its Shepard doing what he was always doing, only this time his personality is superimposed on the Reapers, turning them into a fleet of invulnerable Shepards. I can live with that.

Similarly, the other big theme that was abandoned by the original endings was the Strength through Diversity theme. This was why I had such a huge issue with the Synthesis ending, because it seemed like the solution in this case was basically “make everyone the same so they don’t fight!” which is a horrible idea. However, the new Synthesis ending suggests that this merging doesn’t make everyone the same so much as it grants everyone a new perspective. With both organic and synthetic beings woven together, they each gain an understanding of the other’s view point. That’s something I can respect, and it could be argued that it’s perhaps the best ending. I still have an issue with the idea of forcing such a radical change on a galaxy of billions without their consent, but the ending doesn’t have that same undertone of racial hygiene as the original ending, so that alone makes this whole DLC worthwhile.

Strength through Diversity is a theme further reinforced by the new cutscenes, where we actually get to see Krogan, Turian and Asari celebrating as the Reapers fall silent across the galaxy. Finally we get to see something other than just humans triumphing in this conflict. The new Destroy Ending features Admiral Hackett saying that the victory wasn’t won by a single species or on a single world, but through the collective strength of all of them.  Finally, good to see everyone else getting some credit.

1. Introduction of New Elements and Characters – Not Fixed

The bottom line, however, is that at the end of the day this still isn’t the ending that Mass Effect deserved. It’s infinitely better that the originals, and the Extended Cut endings are even pretty good in their own right. Had these been the endings that came out with the game originally, Bioware wouldn’t have had to deal with a month of outraged fans pouring hate onto their forums. I think there would have been some mild disappointment, but I can live with these new endings. They’ve fixed 2 out of the 3 crippling problems of the originals, and honestly, that’s good enough for me.

Yes, we still have the stupid God A.I. retroactively screwing the plot of the original Mass Effect and the added dialogue doesn’t do anything to make this section any less horrible. They could make the God A.I.’s explanations ten thousand words long, but at the end of the day, the explanations and logic are still flawed, overwrought and stupid. Adding more explanations to a wrong answer doesn’t make the answer any less wrong. Similarly, the new Refuse ending seems a little half-assed to me as well; I’m glad they chose to add a refuse option but it definitely doesn’t feel like they put any kind of effort into it. You get a small 20 second clip of Liara’s time capsule and that’s it. I would have hoped for a cinematic detailing the last stand of Sword Fleet, as everyone desperately fights to the last man.

Though the Refusal ending is worth it, if  only because we get to shoot the kid.

Still, like I said, these endings are good. Thematically and emotionally they’re very satisfying. They aren’t the epic endings to a massive saga that I would have liked to have seen, but these at least I can live with. I can now play Mass Effect 3 without feeling like there’s a guillotine hanging over my head, and when I finally finish my second run-through now, I know I’ll have a worthwhile ending waiting for me.

So yes, the new endings are a bit of magic trick. Underneath it all, the ending is still fundamentally broken due to the inclusion of the God A.I., but as Michael Caine said in The Prestige, the thing about a magic trick is that “you want to be fooled.”

Damn right I do, especially when the trick is this good.

“The man who gave up his life to become the one… who could save the many.”

I’ve got something in my eye again…

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Written by John Stevenson

I'm a freelance writer based out of Seattle, Washington.

40 comments

  1. You forget the fourth ending the Renegade option (do not accept the solutions), if the Catalist “solution” was no longer valid… why the cycle continues and we (humans) take the position of the Protheans?

    1. I did mention it briefly, however like I said, I thought it was pretty half-assed. It clearly tacked on at the end. Not a lot I can write about when the clip is only 20 seconds long.

  2. I can say that I agree with you on the control ending. However, destroy still does not make any sense and the REJECT ending is purely offensive. Reject and die! This whole thing was half assed enough to get the masses back to playing without any real consequences to Bioware and EA. Now it seems that most will simply glaze over the gleaming plotholes for a few scraps. All I can say is that I’m going to hold my wallet when it comes to EA/Bioware in the future!

    1. Yeah, I’ve certainly not changed my mind about being wary of Bioware products in the future. They’re still not on my instant buy list anymore.

      Like I said, these aren’t the endings that Mass Effect deserved, but at least these sort of work on a narrative level.

  3. Once more, youve done a very good job explaining why im so satisfied with this ending on the one hand, but also still suspicious about it on the other.
    My biggest thanks!

    And yes, the extensions ARE what they were meant to be. Fulfillment of the closure our beloved characters deserved. By now ive only watched the videos without sound, because i was sitting in a lesson in university, so i couldnt turn my speakers on 😀 But even though it was only pictures, theyve handled them so well, i still got the message…and it touched me at heart…

    Rest in peace, shepard (or rebuild that mountain of scrap our galaxy has become :D)

  4. As much as I agree with you, I personally don’t think I can pick control when I play, just because I have this nagging feeling that a person should never have that much power, even if it is my ultra-paragon, saint, savior-of-the-universe Shepard. Still, it was nice for Bioware to expand on everything.
    I have to say though, I do like the reject ending, especially because if you stick around to the Stargazer scene, you see that the next cycle is able to win (and you can even assume it’s without the help of the Crucible because Liara’s time capsule says the Crucible didn’t work, at least I choose to). It feels the most thematically consistent to me because in the end, victory is still achieved without any sort of intervention from the Catalyst/Reaper construct (without sacrificing the soul of his species to use ME 2’s Shepard’s end line-and you can even interpret the stargazer to be some sort of asari living in the next cycle, just like Javik lives in our cycle). I would have liked it to be a little more expanded (maybe even a good ending if your EMS is high enough), but the fact that you can still achieve victory makes me happy.

    1. Never looked at it like that, but your right that the Reject scene is kind of good in that you can bypass the catalyst crap for the next cycle. Still, I think it needed to be more fleshed out for it to work properly. As it is, you get Harbinger saying “So be it” and then fade to Liara in the cave. It needed to have at least some closure for the characters, if only to show their heroic last stand. Overall it was just too short to be effective for me.

  5. Control just creeps me out (sorry Jim). The way the Sheperd AI (or whatever it is) talks just makes me think that one day it will snap and were back to square one.

    Synthesis still strikes me as being very silly but thats all it is to me so I guess thats a step up. Although in my imagination I can’t help but feel that the comments made by Edi seem to imply that the races are immortal now but they’re still breeding meaning that eventually they will consume the resources of the galaxy and then begin fighting over whats left (meaning the entire trilogy has become prologue for Total Annihilation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6mZZiI4ShQ).

    I have to say though that I think I might like the destroy ending, I’m still not sure and need to think about it more. I know I don’t hate it plus it gives you the whole Sheperd survives thing and since I’m a massive pussy that makes me happy (although it wouldn’t surprise me if she/he is now crippled).

    As for the the refuse ending that just seems like Casey Hudson flipping the bird to everone who didn’t like the endings originally. “oh you don’t like this ending? Well fuck you.”

    1. Since my Shepard was a full-on Renegade, its entirely possible my Shepard will totally snap and begin plundering the universe in short order. 😛

      Lol, it does mimic Total Annihilation a bit, doesn’t it? Awesome, I would totally play that sequel. Mass Effect: Total Annihilation

      Yeah, the refuse ending was so half-assed its not hard to see it as a giant middle finger to all of us who didn’t like the originals.

      And it’s John actually. JMstevenson, JM is my first and middle initial. I’m trying to find a way to change it, since half the internet now calls me Jim, and everytime they do I have to resist doing a Captain Kirk joke. 😛

    2. Can I marry you, Drew? All four of your points are freaking just how I feel.

      Control gives one being way too much power. And it being Shepard means that he/she will intervene in every problem. No wars will ever happen only because Shepard will never allow it. (So there goes galactic free will).

      Synthesis just makes me mad. It’s plainly the RIGHT ending, and a game with free choice should not have one end that’s so clearly the right one. Plus it’s so damn perfect.

      Destroy is good only because they point out everything broken can be repaired. That would include the geth and ships. But I’m confused why EDI was dead. You just said you can fix everything, so why not fix her? And Shepard living and maybe reuniting with the LI is just too sweet to past up.

      And the fourth ending is maybe my favorite only because it showed Bioware reads everything their fans write. Even stupid things like shooting an AI in its nonexistent face. Ah, that made me love them again because it was the best ‘shut the hell up’ I’ve seen in a while.

  6. I haven’t read your whole post (only headers and the last part), since I dont’ want to spoil myself.
    But now I’m really excited about the EC and will thorw myself whole heartedly into my ME1-3 complete playthrough.

    I’ll read the whole thing in a week or two, depending on how much time I’ll be able to put in to ME.

  7. Sorry to double post but I have to add that I haven’t actually played the endings yet just watched them on Youtube and hear there are other changes before you get to Casper the genocidal ghost. Like explaining how your crew on the ground showed up on Normandy and that Casper himself is apparently more resentful about the fact his solution no longer works and it goes from been Sheperd does as he/she is told, to two beings who hate each other trying to work together and find a compromise. Also the refuse ending also seems to imply that Casper was Harbinger all along all though thats just from the tone of it’s voice which did sound like Harbinger to me.

    1. Yeah, that’s what is really odd about the Reject ending, in some ways it seems to prove the Indoctrination Theory correct. The Catalyst was simply Harbinger, thus making everything he says suspect to say the least. Definitely not to be trusted.

  8. They certainly did a much better job explaining the choices in EC but to a degree.

    Blue makes Shepard an almighty AI god. That’s cool right? Except there was this idea of organics and synthetics not being able to understand each other completely. What Shepard does to “protect” organics now is the same thing the Starchild had done for millions of years prior. He thought what he did was right too. What happens when the situation changes as time passes? Isn’t this a set up for another horrible A.I. vs organics war(s)?

    Synthesis solidifies the previous presumption that we can’t have peace unless it is forced upon us. It was thought to have been a violation of the physical body, that organics got implanted with tech making them into husks from that green magical explosion, but it turns out it’s more of a mental violation. Peace and understanding that is forced is perhaps still better than conflict, but to me it feels like taking a math test and having all the answers recieved instead of having to work for the result. A hollow victory.

    Destroy still accepts the Starchild’s logic that all synthetics eventually, always, without exception, kill their creators and there’s nothing we can do to change that, but Shepard doesn’t care and just wants the reapers dead no matter what I guess. After having two synthetic squadmates who both showed degrees of having actual intelligence and never showed any kind of hostility this choice is so… disgusting. If you brokered a peace between the Quarians and the Geth they are by your side fighting for your cause with their full force. Killing EDI and the whole Geth race is supposed to be “okay” though because they don’t have souls. Ah yes, “souls”, we have dismissed that claim. With all the science that exists in the ME universe it baffles me that the writers can get away with such an excuse for what is in honesty genocide. I think therefore I am, and when a synthetic tells you that, that’s the time to believe it.

    The last choice which the BSN cried out for was defiance and it was the one I chose when I first played the EC. What players hoped for was a moment for Shepard to straighten his back and tell that Starchild to go **** himself and do what he could to fight until the last man standing. What we got was a “You choosed wrong!1!” interpreted by some to be a middle finger. The scene fans hoped for of squadmates and armies fighting to the death didn’t come and we were instead shown Liara’s vigil telling the next cycle that Shepard screwed it up and didn’t pick the right endings like the next cycle would have.

    In the end it didn’t matter though, because the stargazer scene is still there, giving evidence that civilization still exists far into the future. Which would be true regardless of Shepard altogether. They also managed to pick up on some of the smaller points of criticism like that Jacob was nowhere to be seen for the fight on earth, he was shoehorned into the slideshow at the end. We also get to see other people’s kids, that’s great, guess how much it helps the fans who want their blue babies? Not a bit.

    A few more things that raised my eyebrows.

    In the destroy ending Hackett says “It will take time, but we can rebuild everything that was destroyed.” meaning the relays and the citadel most prominently, since those were built by a much more advanced civilization. They were built by technology and not magic after all so given enough scientific research and time they will be rebuilt. But there are no reapers with the knowledgebase of countless entire cycles headlining the project. My view is that we’re in for a long run here. Another 50.000 years perhaps? Or one million years? No cycle was ever able to understand how they worked, else the reaper invasion would have been stopped.

    Shepard asks what the crucible is and how the reapers could have allowed it to be built between numerous cycles. Starchild says they knew about the plans but thought they were destroyed. Then he throws out “CLEARLY organics are more resourceful than we realized.” huh, this kid has the complete knowledge of (wish I had a number) so many cycles of civilizations and he’s surprised? How did it never happen that someone buried a data disc with more information than the plans for the crucible? “Hmm the crucible plans only took up 38 gig of space and I still have 19.9 Terrabyte left… guess I can throw in our entire understanding on the universe too won’t take too long to copy”. I suppose I’m thinking too hard about this.

    Tl;dr Shit’s still fucked but a little bit less so.

    1. Yeah, I agree you with really. I’m just letting myself get fooled by Bioware because I want to like the ending of Mass Effect :P. I can’t blame anybody for looking past the smoke and mirrors and seeing the broken ending. In the end, the Catalyst’s presence means any ending they could have come up with is broken. Still, this is as good as we’re going to get unfortunately, so I’m just trying to live with it.

      Though thanks for bringing up the Destroy Ending. I forgot to mention I thought the destroy ending’s “Everything can be rebuilt” speech was a little convenient. I mean I thought the Mass Relays were so technologically sophisticated that the current cycle couldn’t reproduce the technology. The Protheans had only just unraveled their construction at the end of their cycle. That’s sort of why I liked the Control ending, because then you have the Reapers to repair their own technology.

  9. As much as I agree on the point about writing being fixed in some points that much I hate EC endings.

    It looks like someone in Bioware/EA with complete lack of skills, talent and knowledge sat down with bunch of corporate lads in big board room – and said:

    – Chaps, we have this ‘gamers’ all over the internet crying about our unfinished, dumb down endings and we need to sort this out.
    At this point someone who seen your blog and post about ME3 said :
    – well, I read your man jmstevenson blog and he pointed out what’s wrong with our ending
    so the first guy says:
    -lets take a look on his points and ‘fix’ our endings, we need to do it cheap though

    After 1 day of writing (done by half wit 15year old) EA/Bioware spent another month on the meetings trying to agree on it (which finally did happened as we can see final result) another month on coding it into the DLC (which took month because they have assigned 2 interns to do so) and last 30 days they have waited for MS and Sony to accept and allow it as a DLC.

    EC endings are indeed much better writing (which wasn’t really hard as ‘original’ endings were just pure crap) – and maybe it could have work if it was released back then – I still would be disappointed but probably not as much as I am now (I can btw bet 10 pounds original endings were shit because of lack of time – and what they call EC supposed to be original crappy endings) .
    It could work as an ending to some mediocre mass produced space opera for young adults (as they call teenagers those days) – however – after more than 100h of game stretched between 3 different games over almost 5 years this is just not good enough.

    1. Your absolutely right. Like I said, it’s still not the ending that Mass Effect deserved. After five years, we needed something a hell of a lot more to really feel satisfied. However, since it’s clear Bioware will never provide us with proper endings, I feel that at least these provide us with some emotional resolution and are at least not completely broken. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m just trying to make the best out of what is essentially, a bad broken ending. Bioware’s provided the framework to fool us into thinking the endings are good, and I’m just letting them fool me.

  10. Well, it was somewhat better than expected and Bioware now has satisfied the normal players who don’t think too much about assumptions, consequences and logic of the ending. I like the emotional resolution, you see Joker having a hard time evacuating, you see the crew assemble to mourn you and the stupid scene of Joker getting roasted is dropped. Why didn’t they make it like this in the original ending? And by the way, the changed the last message, instead of “Thanks for playing. Now BUY DLC!” you get a more personal note from the developers.

    Now on to the ending, I have to agree, control is my favourite one. Yes, this new collective Shepard conciousness has too much power, yes it could snap, but in my eyes it is still better than the others. First of all, synthesis is still an absolute no-go for me. On paper it does look good, synthetics gain understanding, organics gain integration with technology. But I have a big problem with rewriting billions of individuals without their consent in their core aspects. If I rewrite someone’s DNA, I doubt the person will be exactly the same person only improved, but rather a “new” person. Furthermore, looking at all the guys with glowing green eyes just creeps me out… To me it seems that this is the ending Bioware wants us to choose. Much more than in the original game this ending is like the kid that styles itself up and waves with its hand screaming “Look at me! Look how good I am!”. Destroy of course has the advantage that it preserves freedom of choice and doen’t superimpose a new genetic order or a new collective Reaper conciousness upon us. But I have a few problems with this solution: First, what does it mean when the Starchild says “Even you are partly synthetic”. Does this mean, all that contains implants or machines will be destroyed? If so, then the galaxy is pretty much bombed back into the stone age. Of course, further down this ending you see that they are pretty well, but to me it is still not cleared out. Another aspect, I have a hard time killing the Geth when I did everything I could in Mass Effect 2 and 3 to ensure a peaceful coexistence between Geth and Quarians. But perhaps I will choose this ending when I play an anti-Geth campaign. The Reject ending is interesting, but handled very badly. After the choice you only see Liara-AI telling the next cycle that they failed. It could have ended in an epic fight, the combined fleets last stand, the Normandy’s fate, Shepard’s fate, but instead we get… nothing.

    Control I think has potential although much is based upon the goodwill of the Shepard conciousness. But in this ending the galaxy finally has an opportunity to test the theory “synthetics will always destroy organics” without everyone being rewritten on molecular level or all synthetics destoryed. And if this theory proves correct, the Reapers can still intervene.

    1. Sorry for the double-post, but nice to see some added scenes prior to the endings. Like the evac of your squad members with a last romance scene with Liara.

    2. “Control I think has potential although much is based upon the goodwill of the Shepard conciousness. But in this ending the galaxy finally has an opportunity to test the theory “synthetics will always destroy organics” without everyone being rewritten on molecular level or all synthetics destoryed. And if this theory proves correct, the Reapers can still intervene.”

      If that theory is correct Shepard will kill everyone, eventually… But hey, let’s not think too much right? =P

  11. I wrote this to a member of BSN. It really wasnt supposed to be this long, but there were so many thoughts which came to my mind, and i think it explains why I like it as it is now, albeit indeed i would have appreciated if we were given more choices or even another ending (indoc theory :().
    So, here it comes:

    Hey,

    Read your Reply in the official EC Thread.
    Im with you in many points. For example that destruction is very much of a wipeout of peaceful, sentient synthetic life, which then makes our “victory” a true pyrrhic victory. I wanted at least one ending in which i can kill those reapers and save everyone whos left by then…dont want to push the button which kills my friends (geth, EDI).

    And the other endings also give me a headache. Control is too much of an A.I God to me. And being human contradicts being god and vice versa, a huge problem for christian dogmatic too by the way (i am a student in theology). And once the last bit of sheps humanity has faded, its just a matter of time until the AI may snap. I know, the narrative instance establishes that he will never forget and so on. But it feels forced upon the audience and it is against rational logic. And of course its a little bit weird to take absolute power/mindcontrol of a sentient race, albeit these are immortal, infinite machines which may not care about autonomy as we understand it. They follow the best “logos”, to call it as Sokrates did, the best logic, and with shepards consciousness transported into reaperform, several variables in reaper consciousness must have changed due to the input from a biological lifeform and thereby altered their “logos”.

    Synthesis is “the best” ending by its own terms, which means you have to try hard not to think about the mumbo jumbo space magic going on right now xD Its a truly artificial ending because its absolutely beyond any technical possibility, it requires technology exceeding the borders of technology. Its magic, although i have to say the ME Universe indeed always was about space-magic, it was subtle, but from its very start on ME3 was very disinguishably drifting into a more mythical concept, considering the outcome of our actions (krogan cure, geth acquiring true consciousness). Of course it wasnt the same space magic we had to perform in the final act, but it already had a slight touch of it. The reaperthreat had become so big it was clear we would require a trick to evade extinction. And thats where they put the crucible (awkward literal device, i didnt like how it was introduced nor what it was: a super weapon :/ well, it fit the genre ME had chosen at last. An against all-odds super hero with tragic elements. An adaption of the classic stereotype hero to a more emotionally related figure, who was mainly characterized by the interaction of his friends with him. I mean, be honest, shepard never said many words. Most of his emotional potencial was located in his crewmates who commented his personality.)

    But back to topic, synthesis gives us the illusion of a pan-galactic society which has finally broken the limitations of both organic and synthetic limitations. Infinite wisdom serves no purpose if theres no “true sense” behind it, its just understanding for the sake of understanding, which will then eventually lose itself in the vast, endless space of rationality, in my eyes leading to a nihilism which would destroy every last piece of your “soul”, of this entity in your consciousness one would define as “one-self”. On the other hand, organics have many biological restrictions which may prevent them from reaching their “desires” (and i dont mean profane strive for lust and pleasure and power, but the desire to explore the meaning of existence and to seize its beauty.). Both of them are caught in a struggle i lack the words to describe. Just say, it is their will trying to exceed their own limitations, to stagger into an area inaccessible from their stand.

    As Synthesis is shown here, it will provide this access to BOTH organic AND synthetic capacities. As i already said, this is some sort of really heavy mumbo-jumbo-stuff 😀 Indeed, if shepard was still alive, this would be the maximum extent of a cliche happy end, because this is a utopy transcending life into a higher form, as stated in the video, which seems almost divine. It means the beginning of a society with limitless power to shape its own world. I think we have a trope of believe into salvation through technological advance, although here we have an explicite reference to the necessity of biological and thereby emotional evolution. As the god A.I. stated, organics werent ready for this before. They still needed to evolve.
    Most utopies concering technological advance only focus on technology serving the purpose to free us from our all-day duties (comparable to a land of milk and honey). Here both organic and synthetic life went through parallel evolutionary processes, which now shall finally conclude in merging.

    The reason i think synthesis can be seen positive is, that it is established throughout EDIs monologue that no mind control is forced upon individuals. However, i think its still creepy to expand everyones horizon by that extent from one second to the next. Both organics and synthetics should live through a shock (which isnt portrayed here, but i think it is an inevitable reaction) their existence has come to “(more) complete form”, i mean, they all have quantum computers in their brains now, havent they? f*** they must be able to think so incredibly fast, their personality may inflate so far theres even the danger of mental collapse! All must change, also in rhetrospective!

    And thats the point where i also say: “Guys, thats a quite good solution, but its definitely not the one i would like best”.
    I am also of the opinion that leaving both life-forms evolve on would be more fruitful. You cant force experience on ones mind. Neither rational, nor emotional experience. And i think that theres always a loss of possible outcome if you are artificially accelerating a process, and here i mean the process of getting grasp of these inaccessible areas from your genuine point of view, to achieve deeper understanding from your level of existence, the level which made you the person you are, and which is worth to be preserved, because your point of view is unique!
    So, although we havent “hard brainwash” here, we still have a force altering the circumstances for exploring oneself and the world around oneself. And this is a sad moment.

    On the other hand, the whole synthesis sequence is still put into a very well balance between plot- and character advance, giving both rational and emotional insight into its conclusion. Yes, we see how the circumstances may have changed, but we also see an example how a person has changed, and in a positive way! EDIs gratefulness for life really touched me. It was this emotional connection established between her and the crew which made up this peaceful vision of the synthesis ending. It stood also symbolic for the deeper understanding of each other, something which not even organics between each other manage to achieve. And as a fan of synthetic life in ME Universe, i saw this as a positive outcome, albeit, as mentioned, it indeed has some rather fundamental problems. But it was the presentation of this outcome which touched me at heart and gave me the feeling that it is right. And thats why i still like this ending. Because it feels right.

  12. I like the Extended Cut on it’s own merit: the game developers trying to get their message through and please their fans, offering more explanations of the endings, making the endings more diverse. If this was the original ending, I also don’t think there would have been such an outrage over the endings; disappointment but no cluster storm of angry fans. That said, I still don’t like the way things go down after opening the Citadel arms and having to put up with the StarChild, which I liken making the StarChild work is like polishing a tard.

    The added details and conversations options are a nice addition but they still didn’t address all of the concerns such as bringing up the fact that the Geth and Quarians have made peace and exactly how Synthesis actually gives non-organic beings DNA. The “best” ending is just way too space magic-y and those green traits are just plain creepy. I have to agree that Control is probably the ending that was the best in terms of explained and made; I just wonder what the Reapers do after they rebuild the galaxy, galactic police and forced peace through intimidation? The only thing that really annoys me about the Destruction ending is that your crew mourns Shepard’s death even though they’re not dead; they somehow know Anderson is dead but assume Shepard is dead? No scene of Shepard tearful reunion with their love interest, carrying out their plans for their future and making good on everyone’s promise for drinks as they remember their AI friends. I was also hoping for more closure for our squademates from the slide show ending we got similar to Fallout New Vegas or even the one Dragon Age: Awakening had for the companions your recruited; something that specifically said what happens to them after everything was said and done rather than leaving it to interpretation. Maybe I’m just asking too much on that.

    The part the EC amused me was when I first played it, I stumbled into the new fourth ending of refusal which was cool at first, especially when StarChild’s voice changes to a Harbinger-like tone but there’s no awesome last stand scene. It’s neat that they put in this choice but it feels like a big middle finger to the people who don’t like the choices/endings presented by BioWare. The one last major issue I had with the EC was explanation of how your crew gets back on the Normandy, the Normandy just sits in front of Harbinger and Harbinger just lets it slide. It would have made more sense if a shuttle had shown up (may Cortez got another one?) and took them back to the Normandy. At least it gives us a tearful good bye with our love interest.

    Now, I am not full accept their endings, but at least the EC makes playing the game tolerable, like you mentioned, without a guillotine hanging over my head. I’m still part of the Hold The Line movement and Hold The Wallet but regardless of what I or the fans feel about the endings, I think BioWare is done with dealing the endings. Will it be enough to clear up they’re tarnished reputation when everything is said and done? I don’t know but for me, not really. I liken it to being cheated on (I’m assuming since I haven’t had the unfortunate first hand experience), I feel hurt, betrayed, and no matter how I felt about them in the past and my willingness to forgive, I just can’t let it go and forget. I’m willing to see the Dragon Age series through but I will no longer buy their games when they come out, only when they’re out for a while and only on sale or used; I will only buy their games if I borrow them from someone and I like it (and this goes double for EA games, their soulless masters). I will only buy any future DLC for ME3 and DA when it’s on sale. I guess it’s a one step at a time to rebuild my trust with them.

    As for the ending to ME3, it’s not the ending it deserves but at least I still have Koobismo’s Marauder Shields comic.

    1. Something I forgot to mention is that someone analyzed the coding of the Extended Cut and found dialogue mentions of the Leviathan of Dis, which is a small titbit that dates back to ME1 and is mentioned at the end of one of the side missions in ME3. This Leviathan DLC may also have some impact on the ending or at least get mentioned as part of the EC since its in the the EC DLC. Not to give spoilers based on what I read but if it does, that would be interesting to see a new DLC change the outcomes of the ending slightly or greatly but from what I seen from BioWare it’ll probably only be the former as the EC still doesn’t really reflect your outcomes from the other games (Rachni Queen mainly, still no cut scenes of them fighting or their presents in the slide show). I guess time will tell though from what I read and what I’m assuming, it’s making me a bit hopeful that the Leviathan DLC may be pretty good as it may reveal more about the Reapers.

      What do you think of them potentially changing the ending or just adding to the story little by little through future expansions, is it good policy? Obviously, if its done right, probably but how would one go about that? I think it’s good to tailor outcomes to the story of a video game, especially when you’re paying extra for part of a story that seems like it would have a big impact on a character’s perspective. At the same time though, you wouldn’t want to update a story’s ending, theme or mechanics via some untold story addition because than you might end up with contradictions much like my understand of what Enterprise (which after the second episode, I stopped following) did with the Star Trek franchise. And you also don’t want an addition to the story to come off pasted on much like how the Overlord DLC of ME2 was pretty good but didn’t really further the story in anyway nor the outcome of Overlord have any detrimental effect on ME3, especially if you let Cerberus continue the project. And assuming that BioWare wants to keep the endings the way they are theme wise, any future DLC will either be good but pointless or it will some sort of impact on the ending but not enough to actually change things. I guess we’ll see what direction BioWare takes the single player aspect of Mass Effect 3 if they can dramatically change how they got their point through with the EC they might be able to pull off farther additions to the ME3 story. So I guess that I’m trying to ask through my babbling is is it good to add more to a finished story?

      1. I wouldn’t say it’s a good policy. I think every game should be shipped out with a complete story. However, in this case I would welcome Bioware incrementally adding to the story because its a story that I love and one that desperately needs more fixing. I understand it’s not easy to add more story to a game this complex, so if Bioware needs to add to it bit by bit, I can live with that.

        So short answer is, no I don’t think you should add to a story but in this case I make an exception because this ending isn’t really finished. There’s a world of difference between a story with an ending and a story with a conclusion. Mass Effect 3 might have ended, but it lacks a satisfying conclusion.

  13. Mr Stevenson,

    Bioware left a “reply” on the “controversy” of the Extended cut DLC (well this time its a more positive controversy :D).

    “You may notice that in the “Shepard lives” ending, the love interest hesitates to place Shepard’s name on the wall, and instead looks up as though deep in thought. This is meant to suggest that the love interest is not ready to believe Shepard is dead, and the final scene reveals they are correct. As the Normandy lifts off, there is hope that the love interest and Shepard will again be together.”

    Link is here:http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/12758618#12758842

    Well, i dont think this will be wort an article, but id like to hear your opinion. Do you think its propable that Bioware is going for a ME Sequel with shepard? And that way, making the destroy end “canon”? (I mean, they did so with all our dead shepards from ME2 :D)

    My personal opinion is vague. I definitely wouldnt like another ME with shepard. I dont like how it ended, but still i dont want another one, since it can only become worse and i dont see what threat they shall come up with this time. I mean, there cant be anything else like the reapers. I mean, there can, but this would be fu**in silly i think…

    Also i would hate to have the destroy end “canon”. It really sucks to have EDI and Geth killed, its the only reason i chose control.

    So, no matter if they may go for a full-size sequel or a nasty bunch of DLCs (i hate DLC) including LI and Shepard buying pampers for their babies, i would definitely hate it, because this would make the worst of all endings (in my opinion) canon.

    For gods sake, let him rest. He didnt receive his happy end to ride into sunset with garrus by his side and blue spacebabies at home, so why not at last let him have his peace in death? -.-

    1. To be honest I don’t even see how Bioware could make sequels to Mass Effect, Shepard or no shepard. The universe is no longer totally screwed like it was in the original endings, but everything seems pretty well wrapped up at this point. I mean what would a sequel be about? 2 out 3 endings both have the Reapers hanging around as a kind of galactic peacekeeping force, so any threat to the galaxy could be easily dealt with. If they went with the Destroy ending as canon, which would really be their only choice, then we’re missing the Geth which was a huge chunk of why I liked Mass Effect.

      1. The worst thing i would expect is an MMORPG…they made some hints in the past that the universe would fit this purpose.
        As i said, i dont want anymore shepard stuff, to me, it is over. But they could do it like Blizzard with their Warcraft IP way back in the day, when my favorite RTS, with the best lore and style in the genre was transmuted to pure gold…and i mean it. They must have made billions with it. But the soul of the universe was dead from thereon, and so it would be with ME, especially because there would definitely not be any other product around ME anymore, for years. I really would like to have a fast-paced FPS, but since the console is such an important thing, i guess they wont do this because its too difficult to precisely aim with an analogstick…

        It was the first thing i feared when i started thinking about this “total reset” of the ME Universe. This generic “rebuild our homeland” scenario is far too potent for creating an endless chain of minor and dull questplots, “to be continued” is all i can say to this concept…

        Well, never mind. Should they be able to produce something interesting within the IP, maybe ill have a look at it, when its low-budget and a friend of mine highly recommends it to me 😉
        Otherwise ill just stick to other IPs from other publishers. I really hope one day EA will shrink to a medium size F2P company, not able to do any damage to the industry anymore. Because as long as they are so big, we have to fear they will buy successful developers and slowly suck life out of them. I think ive come even that far, that i would recommend others to better pirate their games instead of buying them, because i cant believe this company will ever change, even if they may pretend to do so for a while, they will always fall back into their old character scheme. They are corrupted, forever, theres no way one could cure this disease…

        1. Yeah, EA is definitely the worst kind of company: one that intentionally buys up competitors for the sole reason of gutting them and selling off the components. Kind of sad because I remember being excited when EA came out with something new way back in the mid 90s! 😛

  14. Sry for double post, but i forgot this:
    Why would the LI know that we didnt die? I mean, the citadel blew up. And nobody could know we would have the choice of shooting a pipeline or touch the electric grill or jump into plasma -.-
    So, nice bioware, u pointed at another new plothole xD

  15. Though in comparision with the old ending, the exetended cut is slightly better, but it is still rated low and I now lost any faith and respect for Bioware. Back to the EC, the problem with the Crucible child and the three original options. The problem is that Sheperd follows the Reapers’s idealogy, even the destruction ending. Shepred fixes the conflict with the Reapers, but only in the way the Reapers desired, and the only original way, (refusal choice, which feels like a big middle finger to the player,) is where you lose and your original choice. Going back to the destruction ending, the Reapers win in a way becasue they encourage their belief that organics and synthetics can’t get along. Whats more I feel Sheperd should try to at least talk to the kid of making his own options, because I feel I want to say to the kid: “You’re never going to sovle this retorical problem with the all mightly answer. Conflicts and problems need new answers.” Okay I’m getting off topic again. What would make this situation better if with the damn star-child, is have more of your original solutions or get EDI and Geth in on the conversation. How come they can’t listen to what is going on. This is where I feel we are missing besides the boss fight with Harbinger.

    (On a side note, I really dislike the reason that there is no last boss fight, because its “So video gamey.” Besides that reason then why put up all that tension if there is no boss fight at the end? All the other scenes in the game had them, so why stop at the end?)

    I don’t know whatelse to say, maybe I’ll remember later. Anyway, there is still good old Skyrim. 🙂

  16. “I still have an issue with the idea of forcing such a radical change on a galaxy of billions without their consent”

    Wait. So you’re okay with Shepard controlling the Reapers, imposing his/her version of peace for all of time. But changing everyone into something that would avoid things like the Reapers from showing up again, and leaving them to make their own choices, is too much?

    Also, I love your writing. 😉

    1. LOL. Well it sounds crazy when you say it like that :P. I guess I like control not because its the best option, or even a good option, but because its the least horrible option of the three presented.

      Thanks very much! Hope you keep enjoying my work!

  17. I realize I’m in a super-small minority, but I actually liked the ‘god child’ at the end. I understand why everyone hates it so much, but I thought it fit into the story.

    There are at least two points in the Mass Effect series where someone implies that the Reapers are not the ultimate “decision makers” when it comes to the cycle of destruction. I believe both Saren and Harbinger say as much. And I think the Prothean AI might as well. So when I got to the Citadel, I fully expected to see another race / being / character introduced.

    I certainly wish they would have expanded on this, and introduced the idea earlier, but I personally think it’s interesting to imagine that the very first race to create a true AI was in turn killed by that AI and turned into Reapers. And this galactic cycle has been going ever since. Likely for millions of years.

    I still recognize that there are terribly large holes in the ending because of this (for instance, why do all Reapers pretty much look the same if they were based on the “dominant” race at extinction?). But it’s an idea that captures my imagination. Something that doesn’t happen often in video games anymore.

    1. The AI never bugged me too. But I though that the real form of the Reapers are inside the black shells? I could have sworn they said that at one point (maybe I’m crazy).

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