Mass Effect

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User Info: Trambient

5 years ago#1
So, SPOILERS all around, I'm making this topic specifically to talk spoilers, so the other topic is free for other discussion.


So, I really hate to be part of a bandwagon. The internet has been pretty horrendous when it comes to Bioware for the last few months, between the Dragon Age writer fiasco (which genuinely made me embarrassed to be a gamer) and the Day-1 DLC. I thought these were such ridiculous crusades of anger.

Anyway, besides a sort of uninspired first few hours (a complaint I'd readily make against all the ME games), I absolutely fell in love with this game in every way. The humor, the tension, the tone, everything. The build up to the final confrontations on Tuchanka, Rannoch, and Thessia were some of the most emotionally investing moments I've ever experienced in a game. The fact that I actually felt the weight of the things I'd done in the previous games made it all the more intense for me. The game wasted almost no time in conclusively and in climactic fashion tying up plot threads that had convincingly carried through all 3 games.

My heart was seriously just racing for the length of the game. Even the small moments where you listen in on squadmate interactions on the Normandy, or meet up with them on the Citadel, I just genuinely loved every moment of the game.

So, yeah, enough beating around the bush, I absolutely, wholeheartedly abhorred the ending. The way it dealt with the material that preceded it not only cast a negative shadow on the events of ME3, but on the entire franchise.

I just felt like the ending portrayed nothing but a sense of despair and defeat. A kind of hopelessness. It makes everything you've done throughout the franchise feel so... irrelevant. The fact that you can't even use your actions as an argumentative stance against the Catalyst, and his absurd shoehorning in of some overarching plot that has no real-world equivalent, and is so besides the point of the bigger picture of not even the franchise as a whole, but even ME3 specifically. In fact, it even comes off as outright hypocritical, at least based on my experience with the game.

It was just genuinely awful to me. I absolutely adored every moment of this game until the last 15 minutes, and those 15 minutes cast such an overwhelming shadow over the franchise as a whole.

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User Info: Trambient

5 years ago#3
Alright........ this is actually really interesting:

EDIT: And by really interesting, I mean totally fascinating. If this is the case, like if this is what was actually intended, I would literally go from thinking this is possibly the worst ending to a franchise I've cared deeply for, to the most mind-numbing example of.... I can't even think of an adjective for it.

The idea that it wasn't Shepard that was indoctrinated, but me. Please, Zack, read this the entire theory, please tell me what you think.
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User Info: Mertato

5 years ago#4
Initially I hated the three choices made at the end but the indoctrination theory is an interesting one. Radio communication saying that the entire squad had been wiped out by Harbinger, the whispers in the scene with the Illusive Man, etc. I'm trying to wrap my head around what this means, really. It's either the most thoughtful ending to a franchise ever or the worst. Let's get this out of the way first - do you guys subscribe to the idea that the child from the beginning didn't even exist at all?

If we just take my decision at face value (i.e. destroying the reapers and all synthetic life) it's completely dissatisfying when Legion gave his life on Rannoch. The only other character death that left a bad taste in my mouth was Kelly Chambers because apparently I could have saved her from Cerberus if I'd chosen a different dialogue option early on. Amazing job on Mordin and Thane, especially the prayer with Kolyat.

Some of the battles in the game were incredible, Thessia was a favorite or fighting your way to the transport beam where brutes and banshees continue to spawn before you launch the missiles at the Destroyer. The combat is excellent so I can see myself staying with the multiplayer for awhile.
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User Info: Anderjak

5 years ago#5
I will start by saying this: Bioware is not exactly known for bad endings, or for removing choice. They tend to be either fairly crafty, or very plain-faced. Maybe "middling" endings, sure, but never outright bad.

I'm going to start by mentioning Dragon Age 2 for a moment; That is the first game where Bioware played around with an unreliable narrative. The very first moment of the game is a lie; Varric tells a tale of Hawke and his/her heavily buxomed sister (seriously, that part made me laugh out loud when I realized what happened to her character model) laying down scores of Darkspawn in a blaze of glory. When asked for the real "truth," we see that there was a great deal of anguish and strife, that there were no easy, glorious battles, and they came at cost. Also, Hawke's sister was nowhere near as ample in bosom.

Throughout the game, we are given narration by Varric. We are not playing Hawke in realtime; we are playing Hawke THROUGH Varric, when the man already knows full well what happens at the end. It's very possible much of the game, much of the player choice, is a complete lie, because Varric can very easily say there WAS no Hawke, that the character was actually just all of his allies personifying into one form -- or he can say there were no allies, and Hawke stood alone, manipulating things from the sidelines. It's one of the first times in a game where the player's actions could very well be invalidated, as they are fiction within fiction. We don't get all the details. We only get the parts Varric deems interesting or important or what have you.

I mention this because I think Bioware had this in mind for Mass Effect 3.

The God Child, in his more tangible form, is never seen without Shepard looking at him. I'll be honest, I actually called this in some form during the demo; my original theory was that Shepard is suffering from PTSD, that the child is a figment of his/her imagination, an embodiment of the regret of not being able to save everyone, of undergoing constant stress and never getting a chance to relax.

This theory is supported pretty easily; Many versions of ME1's opening describe Shepard as being a bit damaged by war, that he/she had undergone significant strain. In ME3, there are constant references to Shepard's stress levels. It is practically inhuman how much Shepard is going through. There are two ways to interpret that dialog, though: 1) It is a sign of Shepard's own status as an exemplary individual, marking him/her as the one worthy to board the Crucible and make that final choice. 2) It is the game trying to tell the player that there is something not right with this picture. Did any of you find it odd how even Garrus and Joker were commenting on Shepard's stress state? Typically, they're the last to do so; jokes are first and foremost. Shepard is losing people left and right, and there is not even a moment, save for just before the drop onto Earth, that there is even a chance to breathe, with some potential break time with the LI for that run.
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User Info: Anderjak

5 years ago#6
There are definitely a couple of ways to interpret the Hallucination/Indoctrination theory up to this point. Shepard dies after being hit by the beam, or is put to near death, and we're seeing his last hallucinatory thoughts. I don't think indoctrination would enter into here; I'd sooner see PTSD taking hold, Shepard's mind trying desperately to fight the idea of losing this battle he has been slowly killing himself over for the past few years, essentially formulating an ending that let him believe he'd won, and the God Child, the manifestation of his own guilt, presented the problem he'd had of how exactly this would all end. In other words, the Child presents a number of solutions Shepard has actually considered over the course of the game, with Synthesis only appearing after significant stress and effort (it is the only ending that is unlocked via War Assets; Control and Destruction are available no matter what).

If Shepard survived the beam, however... There are, I think, two ways to go. TIM gets control of Shepard via indoctrination -- or, at the very least, indoctrinates just enough to make our view of Shepard's actions unreliable from then on. We never see that crawl of mist and smoke at the corners of the screen at any other point, save for right then (I think, correct me if I'm wrong). Shepard may very well be perceiving his actions as completely different, as having very different justification. Meaning, of course, the final decision is not what it appears to be. This goes back into the theory that was linked; Control represents the indoctrination winning, Destruction represents Shepard breaking free, and Synthesis being a compromise between the two. The theory readily explains the color choices for the two initial options (which I'm glad and unsurprised it was pointed out and added into everything). The OTHER way to go, as opposed to TIM aiding in Shepard's indoctrination, is that Shepard dies in that final collapse, and we once again fall into unreliable narrative. This essentially feeds back into my PTSD theory, which I'm favoring over strict Indoctrination for the moment. It's fundamentally similar to the H/I theory, but it does take a few things more literally throughout the course of the game.

So, yeah. I think the ending is unreliable, to an extent. I just don't know what that extent is. Bioware's already proven they're interested in playing around with narrative in very interesting ways; there actually is reason to believe they have a card up their sleeve, and meant for the ending to be so divisive so people would actually talk about it, and eagerly await any bit of news regarding potential ending-altering DLC. We may be looking at masters of storytelling and marketing here, and, in all honesty, I'll gladly pay that price if this really is even half as maniacally genius as I hope it is.
An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

User Info: Anderjak

5 years ago#7
Oh, and just for general opinions on the game: I am roughly in the same boat as you, Travis, save for the ending. I actually liked it. I also didn't expect much, however, and was just so glad the stress was over. I won't argue whether or not I thought it was good, because I'd rather save that discussion for after I see the other two endings first, just to see how it all adds up, but I did like it.

It seems like the differences in the choices are a good deal more drastic than in previous games, to me. I've been talking with a bunch of people as I play through the game, and there is some seriously crazy stuff that can happen. I've heard a number of ways the Quarian/Geth situation can be resolved, and it's kind of daunting, haha. One of my friends was floored that you could actually save the Geth AND the Quarians/Tali at the same time. Crazy stuff.

The only thing I was hugely disappointed by was the lack of character diversity when compared to ME2. I'm so glad to have Liara and Kaidan/Ashley back, but I didn't ever really feel like bringing in anyone but some of my allies from ME1. Garrus, Tali, and Liara were pretty much my go-to team. EDI was neat, even if I did dislike her design (wouldn't mind it in a more pulpy fantasy sci-fi story, though), and Vega still turned out to be one of my favorites, personality wise, but there was a fair deal less development on everyone, which kind of let me down. Plus, seven or so allies as opposed to twelve? C'mon. Oh well, it wasn't anywhere near close enough to ruining the game for me. Just something that bugged me a number of times. I kept thinking there'd be a new ally just around the corner or something. (nope; all the ones I wanted back simply died or just didn't hop aboard.)

I need to try out Mass Effect: Infiltrator. It's made by the same people who made the Dead Space iOS game, which was bloody fantastic. You get to play a Cerberus Agent gone rogue. That's too neat to pass up.
An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

User Info: Trambient

5 years ago#8
Another thing to really be mindful of is that the only ending in which Shepard can actually survive, not only did the Catalyst explicitly imply that Shepard would die (calling all of his statements into question), but Shepard woke up in London. In what appears to be the exact location where Harbinger struck him/her down. No way S/he'd survive the complete destruction of the Citadel and reentering Earth's atmosphere.

Let's get this out of the way first - do you guys subscribe to the idea that the child from the beginning didn't even exist at all?

I think it's certainly worth noting in the beginning that no one, at any point, acknowledges the boy, and no other major character sees him. A Reaper growl is what directs Shepard's attention to the vents to begin with. No one helps or even gestures towards him when he struggles to climb into the escape shuttle.

I don't know, even though I think it's the wildest of speculation, I think it would make sense - and I would even hope - that the boy was never real, because I sorta despised his inclusion to begin with haha. But it does feel like grasping at straws.

And yeah, to be clear, this ending would only be spectacular to me on the condition that we get an epilogue of sorts. Or like, an actual ending haha.

Anyway, I'll definitely comment on favorite moments and the things I loved about the game pretty soon.
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User Info: Trambient

5 years ago#9
Uhh... haven't read what Zack wrote. To be clear, my response was directed at Aaron. I'll read yours now, Zack.
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User Info: Trambient

5 years ago#10
I think PTS is interesting, and it certainly feels like the game is constantly pushing Shepard into a corner, but I don't like that for the ending, because I feel like it's applying something to Shepard that wouldn't apply to the player.

The thing that was really amazing about the game (well, one of many amazing elements) was that I felt like I was getting pushed into Shepard's corner. I became increasingly Renegade as the game went on, not for some cohesive reason, but because I was stressed and fed up (not with the game, this is a testament to how invested I was with the story). I was twitching the entire time I was playing. I literally shot Udina on pure instinct, not even thinking of repercussions. "That was for Thane, you son of a *****!" is likely the greatest example ever of Shepard saying exactly what I was feeling (and for the record, Mark Meer was absolutely stunningly good in this game. His performance was so far above and beyond what I thought he was capable of in 1 and 2).

The reason Indoctrination makes so much more sense to me, for the ending, than PTS does, is because it ties into the entire franchise. You're always told you won't even realize it's happening, that you'll be subtly compelled to comply with the Reaper's wishes. In the theory, it's like they were literally trying to indoctrinate the player.

Think about it, the Catalyst presents the "destroy Reapers" option, the goal of the entire franchise, in a negative light. It's like an aside, "you can do this but you shouldn't." The lighting, its position on what appears to be a giant conversation wheel, they're making you believe that's Renegade (by what stretch of the imagination is Anderson Renegade and TIM Paragon?). Then you have two other options, that are presented much more attractively by the boy, and both include letting the Reapers live. You can do what TIM wanted, which is presented as Paragon, and then the other option closely resembles what Saren wanted. In both of those options, Shepard is transformed into what can only be described as a husk.

The geth and EDI will die? That certainly shook my resolve, but only because of the Catalyst's (proposed) manipulation. I was willing to possibly sacrifice the salarians to save the krogan. I came pretty damn close to being forced to throw the quarians under the bus for the geth.

The fact that the destroy ending ends with Shepard waking up in London (considering you meet all the criteria for that) is the strongest argument imaginable to me, for this theory. Shepard beat the indoctrination, he kept his resolve, he passed the test, and now it's time for him to get up, and finish the job.

And seriously, the fact that you don't even have the opportunity to argue with the Catalyst, not to mention how peculiar and dreamlike those last several minutes felt, is just all the more argument.
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