Mass Effect 3’s New Endings – “Extended Cut” DLC Reviewed

27 Jun
Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut

Too Bad This Wasn’t in the Original Game

Back when Mass Effect 3 first came out, I played the hell out of it. It was a blast – an epic conclusion to the story.

Until I got to the original ending.

It’s the main reason I never posted a review. I loathed the original endings so much that I couldn’t get through the review without it turning into one giant rant. The same ending videos with only a different colored explosion to separate them, the leaps of logic, the glaring holes – I had the gaming wind knocked out of me. It wasn’t a sense of betrayal so much as extreme disappointment. Like books and movies, a game can survive a slow or even bad beginning if the end is great – but reverse that and the whole experience gets tainted.

Now the “Extended Cut” DLC is out, with “enhanced” versions of the endings – in addition to a fourth ending that was oddly missing the first time around. While there are still some issues, Bioware has gone a long way toward giving Mass Effect fans the epic ending we all expected.

I suspect a couple of factors were at play with the original endings. The project had already been delayed once, and I suspect there was a rush to get it out perhaps sooner than it should have. Cutting down on dialog and cutscenes – not to mention gratuitous reuse of cinematics – could have been a side effect of trying to save time. And some of the choices could have just boiled down to writers assuming too much from the audience. Some of the plot jumps that so perplexed us probably seemed fine to those working on it, since they knew what was going on in the backstory and could infer the gaps. They failed to realize that an audience can only infer based on what they see and hear. Instead of the audience inferring step B in a plot jump from A to C, the plot seemed to go from A to F at times for the audience.

Before this turns into that rant I originally had, let’s move on. Many articles have already been written on the original endings, and cover the topic far better than I could.

First, I want to say kudos to Bioware for putting this out at all and making it free. They easily could have said “too bad, we’re not going back” or “fine, give us another $10 and we’ll give you a real ending”, especially given their parent company (EA). That they didn’t speaks volumes about how much they value their fans.

** Warning – Beyond here there be spoilers!! **

It’s amazing what a little fleshing out can do. Those supposed-to-be-inferred plot holes have been closed. Joker isn’t running away like a coward, and the companions you took on your final mission don’t just magically teleport to the Normandy. There’s also a fourth option during your conversation with the Catalyst – you can now refuse the other options. If you do, however, you get treated to the shortest and tritest ending by far – it does smack of a thumbing of the nose to fans who asked why the option wasn’t in the original game.

Each of the original three endings has been expanded – you get a better sense of the scope of change wrought by your choice. There’s still a fair bit of cinematic re-use, but it’s not as blatant as the originals were.

 

 

The biggest improvement to the ending would have to be the unique epilogues – one for each ending – showing just what your choice meant to the galaxy at large. Different static scenes show various races and depend on choices you made earlier in the game. Some of the shots are not quite the quality you’d expect from Bioware, but given everything they crammed into this DLC I think it’s forgivable.

There are still issues with the ending that keep it from being all-time great, though. There’s no real final battle. You still end the game with a relative whimper (for an action RPG, anyway) – only interacting in conversations with the Catalyst. This is my biggest gripe with the end game by far. A far smaller issue – the cloying stargazer and kid scene is still included. It’s not my cup of tea, and doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the ending.

I envy people who will be playing the game for the first time now. With the DLC installed, it finally feels like a complete game. I’m happy with the new ending, but it won’t erase the memories of my first (and only) playthrough. You only get that one chance at a first impression, and I’ll always associate Mass Effect 3 with more bitter than sweet. I realize I might be in the minority here, though.

That said, if you can compartmentalize better than I can, or – better yet – are picking this up for the first time, I definitely recommend this game.

Mass Effect 3 w/ DLC
8 fixed endings out of 10

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