While we’re on the subject of grumbling about ME3, in thinking more about the ending something struck me, something that I think plays a not insignificant role in how much I hated it.
There’s something deeply anti-science about the ending. This whole notion that it’s inevitable that AIs will rise up against their creators is an idea that belonged in 1960s scare serials. Let’s leave aside how poorly even the rest of game itself supports this hysterical fear, but who actually believes that? Sure, the risk certainly exists, and it has to be taken seriously, but does anyone actually believe that it’s so inevitable that the creation of systematic genocide machines is a viable solution? The game wants us to believe that the only solution to this “inevitable” problem is cyclical genocide, total dominion, enforced non-consensual homogeneity, or total annihilation of any form of artificial intelligence.
One of the reasons I love sci-fi as a genre is the speculative part- what would societies look like under certain circumstances? I was incredibly let down that apparently one of my favorite sci-fi universes of all time fell back on a lame, tired anti-science hysteria as its supposed main theme, and on top of that after several hours of contradicting its own argument!
Pretty much this is my main, biggest gripe about the ending. Mass Effect really stood out for me among a lot of others because it presented the idea that WE would be more harmful to AI than they could be to us. They spent three games, thousands of dollars, months and months and months telling us that the biggest problems that AI had were organics who were manipulating them (Saren) or those who outright feared and hated them (quarians).
The ONLY example they gave of AI damaging organics was an offhand comment by Javik about a dead species from his time who had been wiped out by synthetics. An offhand comment. By a DLC, optional character.
But in stark contrast of that, they gave us EDI with her burgeoning (for lack of a better word) humanity and Legion’s own sacrifice to protect not only his people but the galaxy. Two incredibly well-written, planned out, clearly and purposefully sympathetic AI characters.
But then suddenly within five minutes of the ending, we were supposed to throw all that out the window and believe that after all this effort by the geth to prove that they not only wanted peace with the organics that had once threatened their existence but wanted them to come home, but the second you fixed the Reapers they’d go rabid and turn the ME-verse into the Matrix, ultimately buying into the cliched and pretty anthropocentric idea that the only people capable of doing good are organics (aka us)?
Mass Effect 3 Epilogue Comic. Fanart Friday. Pencil, photoshop.
(Warning for Spoilers and Yuko Bein’ A Huge Nerd) Oh dang, it happened. Magnolia and I might’ve made a pact a while back to do some seriously heartfelt ME3 comics. I’ve been going back and forth over whether or not to post this thing. Guess it’s too late now! You all know my terrible fan-comic secret.
I’m gonna nerd for a bit here, feel free to zone out. After reading the Shadow Broker dossier on Garrus — about his natural leadership abilities being overshadowed by Shepard — I was actually surprised to see him as a squad member in ME3 and not already traipsing around with his own band of ducklings. And lacking a formal XO on the Normandy in ME3, it felt as though Garrus informally took that role. His taking command of the Normandy (a ship with both Human and Turian origins) kind of seems natural to me.
And man, Liara. After seeing her full arc over the series, I’ve come to really love her and what she represents. Originally being historian and archaeologist from a ridiculously long-lived race on TOP of being literally the only character who can’t somehow die by the end of the series, Liara becomes this living time-capsule. She becomes the embodiment of the trinity of past, present and future. It’s fascinating.
I tried to make the language and imagery vague enough apply to anyone’s Shepard with any love interest and any ending— unless, y’know, Garrus died in ME2. A-anyway, this was partially inspired by Marian Churchland’s beautiful ME3 comic (which can be found here if you scroll down a bit). She’s tops.
BioWare needs to see this video.
The best thing about this video, is that it ignores the basic problems with the ending, like the fact that the ending doesn’t give you any real choice, and that it takes away every single choice you have ever made, and that it shatters the whole foundation of the franchise. This video talks about how broken the ending is on an incredibly basic story level. How it just does not work in the most basic possible sense.
I’m just going to start regularly tweeting this (and other videos like this) to BioWare. They need to understand why adding on to the ending and clarifying it won’t work. They need to understand how they have tarnished their own intellectual property. They have ruined their own fiction, and have effectively made themselves, and the video game industry in general, look bad. The ending is a leap backwards from promoting video gaming in general as a valid storytelling medium. Not to mention, they have lied to their consumers and given them false understanding of the product that they were buying in the first place, and are following up their displeasure by saying “Well, we thought it was good! And the critics love it! Look at all the perfect scores! But, y’know what? Okay. We’ll add on to the ending if you don’t like it.” Not to mention, they’ve been deleting Facebook comments and threads and have been locking down threads on their own forums. They’ve been snarky and rude and have just generally fucked this whole thing up. I have no idea how they could make 2.9 games that were absolutely incredible, and then have that last .1 that throws everything else they have ever done out of the window, and say that they like it. I don’t know how they could say that they are upholding their artistic integrity by keeping these endings, because they may think they’re doing that, but all they’re really doing is upholding their egos. If they were really worried about their artistic integrity, they would fix the ending. Fix. Not add on to. Not clarify. Fix the broken ending. And I do mean broken.
Just watch the video. Also watch Jeremy Jahns’ video. And click that link I put up there int he middle of the big paragraph.
Wow how have I not seen this video before! It is perfect. Watch this, guys. Watch iiiit.
Mass Effect 3 Ending (Spoilers)
- Catalyst AI: Ah, Commander Shepard, welcome.
- Commander Shepard: All right! Still alive, made it this far, bring on the final boss! Is it Harbinger? Tell me it's Harbinger. I finally get to punch Harbinger in the balls!
- Catalyst AI: No final boss. Only final decision.
- Commander Shepard: ...Wait, you mean the last enemy I get to kill this trilogy was Marauder Shields? That's a bit of an anticlimax. Eh, no big. I'm all killed out this week anyway. Okay, so what's my big decision?
- Catalyst AI: Door number one - you control the Reapers, and it kills you and destroys the mass relays!
- Commander Shepard: ...Pass.
- Catalyst AI: Door number two - you destroy the Reapers, and it kills you and destroys the mass relays!
- Commander Shepard: ...Well, I like the idea of destroying the Reapers, but that deal's not sweet enough for me. Pass.
- Catalyst AI: Door number three - you combine organic and synthetic life together, and it kills you and destroys the mass relays!
- Commander Shepard: ...Y'know, for a trilogy that's selling point is all about getting to make crucial decisions and their different results, I can't help but notice how Hobson my choices are here.
- Catalyst AI: You MUST make a choice! There is no other way.
- Commander Shepard: Sure there is. I'll just wait for my crew to rescue me. Amount of times I've saved them, it would be only fitting them for them to finally pay me back.
- Catalyst AI: No! You must make a choice! It is the only way!
- Commander Shepard: Yeah, who says so? You? You haven't even told me what the point of all this is. Why do you make the Reapers kill everyone anyway?
- Catalyst AI: It is the only solution. Without the Reapers, synthetic life would eventually destroy organic life. It is inevitable. This preserves the balance.
- Commander Shepard: ...So, your perfect solution to prevent synthetics from wiping out organics is to have synthetics wipe out organics?
- Catalyst AI: ...Yes.
- Commander Shepard: I gotta tell ya, Cattie, that's a really great plan.
- Catalyst AI: You think so?
- Commander Shepard: Oh yeah, I love this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it! It's just like when I was worried my house might catch fire, so I burned the thing to the ground, just to be safe.
- Catalyst AI: Hey! It IS a good plan! Organic and synthetic life cannot co-exist!
- Commander Shepard: What the hell are you talking about?! I just made peace between the Quarians and the Geth. The Quarians! And the GETH!
- Catalyst AI: ...Nuh-uh.
- Commander Shepard: Yuh-huh. The Geth value free will. They were willing to let the Quarians have their homeworld back, just so they'd be allowed develop freely. In fact, the Geth are even helping the Quarians resettle and bolster their immune systems to free them from the suits, so those two are co-existing the SHIT out of each other.
- Catalyst AI: LALALANOTLISTENINGNOTLISTENINGTHEYCANNOTCOEXISTLALALA!
- Commander Shepard: Psht. Tell that to Joker and EDI. Those two are probably boning as we speak. ...Heh. "Boning". Get it? It's because his bones are, oh right, you don't know him.
- Catalyst AI: Enough! You must make your decision and destroy the mass relays!
- Commander Shepard: Fuck no. Destroying a relay causes an explosion the size of a supernova. I'm not gonna cause a nova in every inhabited system in the galaxy. No, if this is the situation, I'd rather my crew rescue me and we look for another way.
- Catalyst AI: YOU MUST MAKE A CHOICE!
- Commander Shepard: Oh fine, if it'll shut you up. I choose to destroy the Reapers.
- Catalyst AI: Destroying the Reapers will also destroy EDI and the Geth.
- Commander Shepard: ...What? Why? ...How?
- Catalyst AI: Because. It... will. Just, y'know. Because.
- Commander Shepard: But they're three completely different entities. Okay, the Geth I can buy, MAYBE, because they have some Reaper code in them. But EDI's nothing like either of them. And you do realize that EDI isn't that body, right? EDI's the Normandy and that body is more like just an extension of herself she projects. To destroy EDI, you have to destroy the Normandy (again) and why the hell would destroying Reapers destroy the Normandy? That's like saying the fall of Berlin would kill Winston Churchill and wipe out the US Navy's Pacific fleet. I mean, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard, and I've seen the endings to both Lost AND Battlestar Galactica.
- Catalyst AI: ENOUGH! YOU MUST MAKE YOUR DECISION! BIOWARE DEMANDS IT!
- Commander Shepard: Fine. Wow, I bet the next playthrough is gonna suck knowing none of the decisions I make will have any bearing on the ending whatsoever, huh.
- Catalyst AI: Any last words?
- Commander Shepard: I'm Commander Shepard and this is my least favourite spot on the Citadel.
Put the gun away
Full Paragon is a new Mass Effect fan-initiated fundraising campaign, playing its name off the “paragon/renegade” actions and choices players face in the game series.
Inspired by the generous fans who raised money recently, but not explicity planning to follow ReTake ME3’s perogatives, Full Paragon wishes to provide fans looking for a place to follow in the footsteps.
The Mass Effect community has always been giving, from gaming marathons to Facebook fundraisers. This is one initiative kicked off by Reddit organizers, hoping to gain support of other fangroups on Facebook, Bioware Social Network, and more.
The Full Paragon campaign reached out to Kids Need to Read, a charitable foundation started by author PJ Haarsma, actor Nathan Fillion, and Executive Director Denise Gary, which focuses on supporting children’s literacy. According to the KNTR website, “Kids Need to Read works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children.
In conclusion, Mass Effect is a story-driven series with an incredibly rich universe. The trilogy has attracted a passionate following of imaginative, giving people who want to open up exciting new worlds to children through books and stories in the same way Mass Effect did for the players. We’re elated to be supporting Kids Need to Read, for their efforts in raising children’s literacy all across America.
So this is awesome.