About the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy

Over the last few days the internet has been ablaze - though instead of being due to a crippling attack by the Reapers, it's ablaze with debate and argument over the ending of what is arguably this generation's most ambitious trilogy.

This article will contain spoilers.

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Fans have raised significant amounts of money for charity in the name of changing the ending, threatened to picket Bioware's offices and of course been deliberately inflammatory in some cases to Bioware staff and social media channels.

Some of the gaming media have drawn ire for protecting Bioware, essentially calling out fans that are complaining as entitled whiners. This is angering those upset with the ending even more, and that anger is being directed as much at those press defending Bioware as Bioware themselves.

"The reaction to the Mass Effect 3 ending is beyond absurd," Destructoid's Daniel Starkey wrote earlier this week.

"The gaming media rushing to Bioware's defence and shitting on gamers who thought ME3's end was crap is disgusting," a NeoGAF user wrote in response.

It's not a good look for any of us.

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The accusation that all press who stand up for Bioware's ending are shills is one without merit. While this might be the case in a few fringe circumstances, I know plenty of non-press types who actually found the endings satisfactory. As ever, those upset are the most vocal group here.

There's also been an accusation I've seen frequently that press are defending the ending because many of them didn't actually complete the game before writing their glowing reviews. They can’t express their disappointment 2 days after giving it a 10, right? In fairness, this is probably true.

I know several people who had the game show up a few scant days before launch but were encouraged or wanted to meet a looming embargo. With 15 or 20 hours under their belt, they wrote reviews. That's a valid style, and their choice. On RPG Site, we never publish reviews without completing the core storyline of a game first. The only exception in recent memory was Dark Souls - for obvious reasons.

If these people played the game and were then disappointed with the end, they should consider going back and amending their copy. You, the readers, have the right to ask if the game was completed prior to the review - so do.

I still scored Mass Effect 3 as highly as Mass Effect 2, though, even though I saw it to the end before putting pen to paper. While the ending felt a little damp and anticlimactic to me, everything up until Shepard is spirited into a room by a ghostly platform and then suddenly, seemingly in the vacuum of space without a helmet and speaking to the face of the Reapers in the form of a child - is incredible.

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"The payoff on the way is as good as I'd hoped," I said in our review, referring to the incredible way character stories and galaxy-wide stories were concluded in the game. "Though the final moments of the game lacked finesse, I found myself still satisfied when the dust settled."

I really did. While a little sad Liara and Shepard wouldn't get their crop of blue children, I knew that she'd love him forever. I knew that he and Garrus would be brothers for life, and that Tali would help her people to forgive and work with the Geth.

I'd resolved the Galaxy's greatest conflicts with an amazing lack of bloodshed. I even finally felt sorry for and understood the angle of the Illusive Man, somebody who I spent most of the past two games hating. In the final moments, I even considered switching to his side.

The choices up on the crucible are undoubtedly something of a miss-step, but they are not so much of a step wrong that they eliminate the hours of top-notch storytelling in the hours before it. It's for that reason Mass Effect 3 still got the score it did from me. I stand by the score.

With that said, I don't think you're entitled whiners. Something about parts of the ending, even before the 'space child', feels off. Why were lines regarding Joker and the Normandy flying in to help, cut from the dash to the beam, found on the disc? Why is the game so unclear about the fate of your two squad members after Shepard wakes up? Questions like this suggest things fell to the cutting room floor due to time constraints - and these things might've helped offer better clarity in the ending.

I firmly believe that the team at Bioware are entitled to their creative vision of the Mass Effect series and universe. No matter how invested I or anyone else has become in it we have absolutely no right to dictate to them how this story should end or how any other should begin. As caretakers of the franchise that is their duty, and they have hard decisions to make.

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We can demand better rewards for our loyalty, though - for having save games right through from the first title, for sticking with them. Some would like to see closure for individual characters or races post-crucible. That's reasonable, I think.

The question now is what Bioware's original vision was. If the ending follows their original vision from early in development, it should be left as-is and people should suck it up.

If this isn't precisely what was envisioned and was tweaked, edited and pushed in this direction by time constraints, Bioware should be given the chance to try to enact their original vision through game updates.

Whatever happens, all I know is that everything up until that weird space child was one of the best experiences of the generation for me. It would've taken something a lot worse than that ending to change that.

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