What can I say about the Mass Effect 3 ending that was not already said. How can enumerate the massive failure it was without repeating the stuff you already head dozens of times before. I could write a few thousand words on this, but it would all be redundant. It would all be stuff you heard before. I’m late to this party and I feel like whining about the ending now would just be beating a dead horse. Beating it inexpertly, long after other people displayed a world class skills at the same beating.
Hell, I think this video by MrBtongue is possibly the best analysis of the ending I have seen on the internet so far. It’s kinda long, but watch the whole thing – he makes a lot of excellent points:
There is just no way I can top that, so I won’t even attempt. It suffices to say that I think the ending was the worst video game disappointment of the decade. Yes, it was worse than Duke Nukem Forever, because hell – I did not expect Duke to be anything but a novelty anyway. Mass Effect on the other hand was excellent game series. Hell, Mass Effect 3 was an excellent game, right up to the ending.
What was the main reason why it didn’t work for me? I already told you what I loved about the game the most: the Tuchanka and Ranonch quest chains. Why? Because they were awesome. Because they were complex. Because they forced you to make difficult, morally ambiguous choices. Because they neatly closed long running story arcs from two previous games.
Of course I loved the other things about the game too. I loved drunk Tali. I loved Blasto. I loved Liara’s time capsule scene. I loved playing chess with Traynor. I loved letting Garrus win at shooting cans and letting him brag about it. And while I was completely creeped out by Joker’s romantic fling with EDI’s plastic body, I consider it one of the fun parts of the game. But what I enjoyed the most was curing Wrex’s people and giving them a chance to rebuild their civilization. I loved giving Quarians their home world back, and planning to build a house there with Tali. That was what I was hoping to see in the end: the Krogan developing high culture, the Quarians flourishing on their home planet… And maybe Tali in a bikini or something.
Why did I hate the ending of the game so much? Because it made my favorite parts of the game not only irrelevant but meaningless. Will Tali ever get to build that house she wanted? Doesn’t matter – she is either dead, or stuck on some jungle planet with Joker and EDI, and out of supplies to fix her suit when it breaks. Though she will likely starve to death first, seeing how Quarians (much like Turians) can’t eat our food, and even if they could the bacteria in it would probably kill her. Similarly Wrex, will never get to see the children he sired and he will never get to lead his people, because he is either dead or stuck on Earth.
The entire galactic civilization is over. Everyone is stuck on their planets without any hope of reconnecting with loved ones, ever. Even assuming some civilization could rebuild or repair the Mass Effect relays, it would take them countless millennia spent in relativistic speed flight, to reach former colonies and re-establish communication with all the stranded worlds.
I’m not really upset that the ending is sad. Sad endings are not bad – I often prefer tear jerkers to happy endings. But the last few minutes of ME3 are not really sad – they are stupid. They invalidate everything you did in the past 3 games, and make it meaningless. All that effort to unify all these diverse people under one cause, all the wars you end, the agreements you broker – it’s all null and void, because at the end you blow up the galaxy and strand everyone anyway.
Out of all possible ways to end this game, Bioware chose this and I just can’t fathom why. Why couldn’t ME3 end the way Drangon Age: Origins did. That was a perfect ending if I have ever seen any. Mine was actually happy ending because I took Morrigan’s deal and my Gray Warden got to live happily ever after. But if you chose to tell Morrigan to fuck off, you could have a bittersweet ending too. One that worked. One that gave you closure. One that did not completely wreck the setting and mock all the work you did to improve it.
What’s your take on the ending? We had some brief discussion on this in the forums, but let’s have a proper one here. What killed the ending for you? How would you improve it? Let me know in the comments.