I made it a daily game in early April to trawl through various gaming forums, reading the constant, vocal, and in some ways almost creative outcries against Bioware and its perceived mangling of the ending of what was supposed to be the preeminent trilogy of this console generation. While it’s generally ridiculous to expect anything but angry noise from the blind-mad-god that is the internet, one could taste the venom being written forth from Mass Effect 3 fans, how this ending, which undercut much of the events of the game and trilogy itself, and in a moment almost antithetical to the point of the Mass Effect series, boiled the entire conclusion down to a game of “Pick Your Favourite Colour”.
While I’m not sure if it was out of a desire to more carefully enunciate their game’s ending, or rather a knee-jerk “Oh man guys the internet’s pissed” reaction, Bioware publicly came out soon after the internet’s outcry to let the public know that they’re on the case, and in the coming months an “updated ending” would be brought out, which would alleviate the…*ahem*…gentle criticism many had over the ending.
Well, that day is today. The Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC has been officially available on Xbox Live for some hours, and I along with many others have played through the ending again to see what they went ahead and changed. So, you’re clamoring to know I’m sure, does it achieve its lofty goal of calming the internet trolls?
Eh, probably not.
This is coming from someone who, while maybe disappointed in the lack of real granularity from ME3‘s ending, didn’t really mind it that much, so keep that in mind as I go over the beats of the new extended cut, but all these new endings seemed to do was stitch on an additional scene for each ending choice, quietly cut away some of the more glaring plot holes, and generally just make some minor changes to give the ending less of a downer feeling. The ending is moderately better than the previous, so I guess one could consider it a success in that regard, but it didn’t deliver what I feel like the fans really wanted – an ending that felt more uniquely tailored to the player, or at the very least an “Animal House”-esque post-credit that showed how your myriad decisions over the course of the trilogy impacted the characters in which you’ve become emotionally invested .
Well, what do you get? Some plot-hole destruction, first and foremost. A small scene’s been added that explains why the Normandy’s flying away from the pretty-colour-explosions in the epilogue, by showing an evacuation order made to all ships. Not that big a deal, but one less thing for the internet hivemind to obsess upon. They also cut out some moments of dialogue discussing how all the Mass Relays are going to be destroyed and the galaxy basically ruined no matter what your decision is. That seems to no longer happen, and any damage done to the Mass Relays seems to now be reversible.
The biggest difference however comes in the additional ending scene each choice gets. They’re pretty slickly done, although shown predominantly through slideshow, going over how awesome the galaxy is now that you’ve destroyed/taken over/combined with the Reapers. You’re given a couple still images of those who you may have lost along the way, and some more images of those who survived helping to rebuild. They’re warm scenes, and emotionally stirring, but they all still feel too…cookie-cutter, which I feel is the exact problem most had with the original, unedited conclusion.
Oh, and they’ve also added something of a “None of the Above” ending, where you in essence tell the Reaper…Star Child…Thing to go to hell. Kind of a nice touch on Bioware’s behalf.
While these addendums don’t really provide the true connection to each individual’s story that many had hoped for (an aspiration which considering how insanely complex the decisions are in Mass Effect is likely impossible), there’s some cool new scenes to watch, and some further illumination on what happens to the galaxy post-Shepard. Also it’s free, which is never a bad thing.