Are you happy now? When Bioware released the final part of their science fiction series Mass Effect 3, fans were up in arms over the ending. Complaints mostly centered around the limited effects that player choices had over the ending of the story, but there were also plenty of complaints about plot holes, and some fans were even outraged over philosophical issues raised by the ultimate conclusion to Commander Shepard’s story. The outrage grew to such a frenzy that Bioware agreed to rework their ending with additional cutscenes and dialog options to address some of these concerns. The new ending was released this week as the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut.
It’s available now as a free download for all three platforms and it fixes some of the most overt problems with the original ending. This article won’t spoil what happens in the new content, but will discuss the original ending.
One of the big problems with that original end was a gap in the story regarding what happens to Shepard’s crew. Most of the Normandy crew was last seen early in the final mission, with a pair of squadmates accompanying Shepard toward the Citadel. In the final sequence, Shepard goes on alone, but a few cutscenes later, players found the Normandy and its crew (Including characters last seen side by side with Shepard) in deep space rushing ahead of the exploding Mass Relays.
In the Extended Cut, new cutscenes are added which make this less abrupt, but players are still left to fill in the gaps. One can easily presume that the Normandy must have picked up surviving team members who were on the surface, but the issues regarding the crew are still a little fuzzy, especially the teammates who were with Shepard for most of the last level.
Another major complaint was that no matter what players choose, they only got a different color energy beam put over almost identical cutscenes. Unfortunately the different colored beams are still there, and many parts of the new cutscenes are still very similar. However, Bioware has put in additional narrative and footage to differentiate them, but even this skimps on production values by using static illustrations in many parts.
For a series that prides itself on giving players choice over the outcome of the story, the final scene of Mass Effect 3 still ended up restricting players to two options (Three if players unlocked the bonus ending). Depending on how Shepard had been played up to that point, some players felt that Shepard would never willingly choose any of these options, and that Bioware had disregarded all of the story decisions made over the trilogy and railroaded players into an undesirable path with no way out.
This even resulted in some players becoming convinced that entire final sequence was proof that Shepard had been “Indoctrinated” by the Reapers.
A new set of dialog with the final NPC is now in place, and this gives players the option to learn more about the motivations behind the Reapers, and the consequences of playing along with the options.
However the best new bit of dialog is the “Screw you!” ending. Or “Refusal”.
In this one, Shepard can refuse to play ball with the Reapers at all. For many gamers this will end up being the correct choice for their character and Bioware has added in a completely different ending narration and cutscene for it.
These changes do improve the game. They definitely don’t fix all of the problems, but gamers who were disappointed in the original ending will most likely be satisfied with the new material. Gamers who haven’t reached the end yet will probably wonder what all the fuss was about.
Unfortunately the many hardcore fans who were outraged by the original game are going to find some easy targets for further complaints. Plot holes abound, the use of illustrations instead of animation, and that final (Final) epilog with the kid hearing the tale of “The Shepard” managed to stick around too.
Given that it’s a free download, players are advised to install it. People who’ve already beaten the game can load their last save file and go right into it without having to replay the tough fights of the final act (Although the final boss Marauder Shields is still lurking in the same old spot).
The Extended Cut will only improve the game, and doesn’t tinker with the parts that people generally liked. There have also been a few free multiplayer downloads too, so fans who haven’t touched Mass Effect 3 since beating it at launch will find more than one excuse to play it again.