[SPOILER CENTRAL] Earlier this morning I put the final touches on my Mass Effect 3 campaign run, and when everything was said and done I felt more than satisfied with the ending. After reading through all of the negative feedback, and even taking it on the chin with an opinion piece on all of the ME3 hate; I was half expecting the Smurfs to appear on My Little Ponies during the final battle against Barney who was the long lost leader of the Reapers. Luckily, this wasn’t the case, and to me I thought the ending was a perfect fit for Shepherd’s Mass Effect trilogy arc. I mean how else did you expect this game to end?
Unless you’re living in a complete fantasy world, Shepherd has had the words “Tragic Hero” tattooed on his forehead ever since he first touched the Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. I went into this final game knowing full well that my Shepherd’s tale was going to come to a tragic end one way or another, and I thought that to be a fitting tribute to my 5 year journey with this game. I mean look at the odds he was up against! Shepherd was basically fighting the forces that control the ebb and flow of the entire galaxy. He’s just a man with some synthetic parts, and a knack for motivating people to do amazing things. He’s as close to superhuman as it gets, but he isn’t Superman, so the fact that he perishes one way or another at the end of Mass Effect 3 makes perfect sense to me.
In fact, I don’t think it would have been believable if he did come out of this ordeal alive. The Milky Way needed a legend to save its inhabitants from impending doom, as well as give the survivors of the Reaper extinction event hope, and Shepherd just so happened to be that individual. Dare I say he is Jesus-like? The ending sets him up for legendary status, and I think Bioware did a fine job hammering home the fact that Shepherd made the greatest sacrifice of all to save the entire galaxy from its vicious cycle of order and chaos. How else do you end a conflict with the insurmountable odds that Shepherd and his crew faced?
I think if Mass Effect 3 had the typical “It’s Miller Time!” type of ending, you know where the good guys come out on top without a scratch on them, the payoff would’ve felt cheap. I know Mass Effect is a video game, and that Shepherd did some pretty unbelievable things throughout the three main games, but he never felt like he was untouchable to me. I also think Bioware was going for more of a personal emotional connection between gamers and their Shepherds, rather than the feelings of being in control of an untouchable protagonist that always saves the day like other genres may explore with a character like Shepherd.
Is this the ending that everyone wanted?
I liken the ending of Mass Effect 3 to Return of the Jedi, which before Lucas mutilated, was one of the most memorable parts of the original Star Wars trilogy to me because of its deep emotional impact. Outside of the awesome space battles that both of these pieces of fiction offer during their climaxes, they both also share similarities with the fate of their tragic heroes. Witnessing Darth Vader realize that he’s been a f*ck up his whole life, and then take control of his destiny again by saving his son and bringing balance to the force will always be a special moment in my geek life.
The feelings of sadness and happiness while watching the final scenes between Luke and Vader aren’t much different than what I experienced while making my final decision in regards to the fate of my Shepherd and the Milky Way galaxy. This decision needed to be painful to really highlight the sacrifices that Shepherd (and inherently the gamer controlling him) made throughout the Mass Effect trilogy to save the galaxy, just like it was painful to watch Vader sacrifice himself to save his son and by default that galaxy far, far away.
I may be called names, and be told to go back under my bridge for my views on Mass Effect 3’s ending, but I thought it was perfect. It had all the elements of a fantastic sci-fi epic. that up until this point have only been seen on the big screen. The moment that the Normandy slips through the Sol relay with its massive armada of unified alien races in tow is a breathtaking sight to behold in gaming. It’s an experience that I’ve never encountered in a video game, and the imagery will forever be burned in my mind due to its awesomeness. The last 20 minutes or so of this game will put your emotions through the ringer depending on how you’ve crafted your unique Mass Effect tale.
The fact that Shepherd dies in all three of the choices you can make is a good thing. He’s been destined for tragedy since the first game, so I don’t understand why so many long time fans are getting bent out of shape over the fact that he moves on to legend status at the conclusion of Mass Effect 3. I personally don’t think it would’ve felt as emotionally impactful if Shepherd and his squad were doing shots of Jager and beer bongs at a “We beat the Reapers” after party event. Just like other tragic heroes such as Jesus and Darth Vader, Shepherd needed to become one with the galaxy to atone for the sins of the many. I loved the ending, and feel awful that Bioware has taken so much sh*t for their artistic vision in regards to the Mass Effect series’ ending.
I would love to learn from those of you who thought that this ending was so bad that you needed to sue, forum bash, or write hate mail to Bioware to express your disgust. Just like me you’re free to your opinions on this matter, but I’d really like to know how you envisioned the ending taking place. Did you want Shepherd and his team to be more like the A-Team and just kick a*s and take names without anyone even getting a scratch? Did you want Shepherd to live even though he isn’t Superman and was facing a decision that had only three possible outcomes as set forth by the creators? I would like to know, so please use the comments section below to respectfully address your points. I’m sure there are some good counter points to my argument, but to me I couldn’t have been more pleased and content with how my Mass Effect journey came to an end in Mass Effect 3.
Goodbye Mass Effect I Loved You!
Thank God for geeks like those who work at Bioware for giving us another amazing science fiction franchise to love or hate for many years to come! You’ve still been wondering why there’s so much hate and venom being spewed at this game’s ending…
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