Mass Effect 3: Character or Plot?

Warning: The article below contains spoilers for Mass Effect 3

I have always been interested in games with story, whether role playing through a computer or home console system or, better yet, tabletop games like D&D. Typically, I don’t expect much plot or character development from a game, but recent attempts by Bioware have proven that somewhere between all the shooting, a loose series of cut scenes can weave together a decent narrative. Whether such a medium will ever rise to the level of a novel has yet to be seen. But what really intrigued me about Bioware’s latest, Mass Effect 3, is the controversy surrounding its ending. For many gamers, it was a terrible disappointment. A poor conclusion to a story leaves the reader/viewer/player with too many unanswered questions (this year’s Prometheus comes to mind) or doesn’t offer proper closure (Hunger Games: Mockingjay). Other bad endings include the dreaded deus-ex machina, from the Ancient Greek play, where an actor dressed like a god was elevated onto the stage to resolve the conflict. In a deus-ex machina, the events leading to the conclusion feel inconsequential and the audience feels cheated. Notice how I did not mention unhappy endings, which are not classified as bad, otherwise Shakespeare would be the worst writer in history. Crowd pleasing is an easy sell. People generally want to feel happy. It takes a true master of story telling to make a person feel satisfied with a negative emotion. This is called a tragedy. Of course, many tragedies misfire, which is usually the case when the ending doesn’t satisfy the above criteria, when it doesn’t answer its own questions or give meaning or closure to the story.

The writers of Mass Effect 3 achieved a perfect, albeit bittersweet finale, and I am completely baffled by the public reaction to it, which forced Bioware to do something unprecedented: to create a downloadable, extended ending, which, not surprisingly, did little to appease the outrage. I have not been this baffled since the hatred for the Star Wars Prequels. I immediately grabbed my iPad to better understand the reaction. Armchair critics have been typing their hearts out with dissatisfaction. As one blogger stated, the game was a failure because people don’t care about philosophical questions or mythology, in reference to the Reapers, an alien race who believes it necessary to exterminate higher intelligence in the galaxy. Excuse me? Mythology is the very best of story-telling tradition, and as for philosophy, I’ll simply quote from Socrates, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” If a story, any story, can make us think about life, about the BIG picture, that is always a plus in my book (figuratively and literally). But, as usual, the critics state their opinions as facts. These are the same people who give advice to George Lucas on how to make a Star Wars film. Now I have no problem disliking pop culture, such as the new James Bond film Skyfall, which, despite 92% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I felt was boring and pointless. Opinions are like that, varied and inarguable. What bothers me, however, is a growing trend that may shed light onto the Mass Effect 3 haters and the Skyfall lovers

For the past ten to twenty years, fiction has been moving away from plot and more toward character. Now, I focus a great deal on my protagonists in my own work, but the balance has shifted too far; character trumps plot to the point where plot becomes irrelevant. George Lucas disappointed millions of fans by focusing his Prequel Trilogy on political and philosophical questions rather than on character (in both acting and dialogue). The Dark Knight Rises, which was received with near universal acclaim, plays like a psychological study of Bruce Wayne, while disregarding the logic of the plot. This year’s Avengers, despite one awesome SFX sequence after another, puts more emphasis on the heroes’ relationships to each other than the events on screen. For the first time in Bond history, Skyfall delves into James’ childhood and the Oedipal drama between him and M. On the book front, Life of Pi focuses exclusively on the thoughts and feelings of one character, which is more widely accepted than Cloud Atlas, a story of grand philosophical concepts. All that brings us back to the ending of Mass Effect 3, criticized for not adequately giving closure to each of its characters . . . we don’t know whether they lived, died, or went on to happy lives. To this I say, who cares?

Has the isolation and dehumanizing effects of our Facebook generation made us obsessed with ourselves and our feelings? Never mind why the aliens are attacking, what matters is how we feel about it. Don’t get me wrong, some of the best fiction is character-driven, from Shindler’s List to 127 Hours to Catcher in the Rye, but for me, a galaxy-wide war involving synthetic aliens intent on making all extra-solar civilizations extinct does not speak of character study. There are far more interesting and significant issues to be mined from such a story, and I could care less what my blue-skinned girlfriend will be doing after the games’ credits roll.

Character matters, but so does plot; the two are conjoined and complement one another. If one fails, the story fails. Mass Effect 3 does not disappoint in this regard. Shepard, the hero of the Mass Effect series, sacrifices his life for the big picture. But perhaps what really bothers the critics is the fact that, however the game ends, the hero dies. For them, no matter how noble the death, Mass Effect 3 ends on a tragic note. These same people forget how short and precarious life is, how we’ll all end up in the same place some day. The Ancient Greek philosopher, Solon, argued that how a man dies is far more important than if or when. I really cannot imagine a better way to end my life than by saving trillions of lives. It is the very definition of the heroic journey, past down from Beowulf, and if that doesn’t fit the feel-good package the Internet community thinks it wants, well that is art. Art gives us what it wants, not what we ask for. Which is precisely why, as art must do, it stirs up so many passions.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS POST IS CLOSED TO NEW COMMENTS. 

54 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3: Character or Plot?

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  1. “The writers of Mass Effect 3 achieved a perfect, albeit bittersweet finale”

    1) What was perfect the writers achieved, aside from a deadline?
    2) Bittersweet? To quote Shamus:
    “But what we have here is not a bittersweet” ending. This is a nihilistic tragedy where everyone dies for no reason.
    For something to be “bitterweet”, it must have some sweetness in it. There is nothing sweet here. Nobody hugs. There is no hope, no future, no joy, no understanding. The isolated people of the galaxy starve or explode. “

    shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=15395

    “I have not been this baffled since the hatred for the Star Wars Prequels.”

    You seriously think the prequels were good? That explain a lot.

    Armchair critics don't need to show anyone what to do. It's like telling someone not to stab themselves, and you saying “all you do is complain: what could you do better?” (Answer: don't write like that.) There are numerous ways the ending could work. Most obviously, to remove it. (No Catalyst.)

    …what is your problem with Skyfall? There are a few issues, but nothing serious. It's a bloody action flick. If you evaluate any Bond film, as a contemporary story, you're going to be disappointed by their lack of logic, destruction of verisimilitude, and the unbelievability of over the top characters and scenarios. Bond was never a normal spy thriller: it is it's own drama, a type of action movie pastiche, of one liners, stone cold killers, crazy car shases, Bond girls, and stunts.

    So you have no problem disliking pop culture, provided it's stuff you dislike? Observer bias.

    I have a clue for you: George Lucas's prequel films were for kids. They weren't about political intrigue; and putting Jar Jar binks in the Senate is not anyone's idea of “high political debate.”
    youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI

    …oedipal drama between Bond and M? What?

    How do all of these movies…bring us to ME3? What nonsense chain of reasoning is this?

    Who cares what happened to the galaxy (and some people) in the ME universe, when the entire resolution of the (newly introduced in the last 10 minutes of the) plot involves the fate of the galaxy? The only reason ME was even likable was due to its side characters and setting. Why don't you ask the fans why they're interested in the characters? Look at ME2, which was 75% personal asides about, yup, the side characters, with complete disregard and destruction of the main overarching plot. Look on deviantart for thousands of pages of fanart and fanfaction, about personal asides of — gasp — guess what? The side characters. Look at non-canon characters they've created and see why people like the ME universe. The setting. The universe. The lore.

    No, facebook has not isolated us; it has brought us together.

    Galactic genocide doesn't allow for character study? And why the hell not? An author can allow a character to go crazy with exposition on any conflict.

    Characters and plot matter, since the plot comes from characters.

    …but wait. So you don't care about the fate of characters, hence why everyone who dislikes ME3 was bitching about the lack of character resolution in the ending…and now you're saying ME3 does not disappoint in plot or characters. What?

    No one cares that Shepard dies. (Except for biased fanboys, or in your case, a biased English major/writer of sorts who has some dogmatic approach to a hero's journey or some such nonsense. You're projecting what you think people are arguing about. I haven't heard one sensible comment that there should be a happy ending, and I've no idea where you're getting any cause as to what this has to do with character (which you believe ME3 doesn't have or does, I don't know.)

    Art can also be a pile of shit. Which is exactly what ME3 is.
    youtube.com/watch?v=iiN8gL40d84
    youtube.com/watch?v=6nVf_yDYftY

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  2. Hi, Stefan, nice of you to drop by. Now as for your comments:

    I do not think the ending to ME3 was nihilistic, and even if it were, that wouldn't make it a bad thing (remember Solon). Maybe your choices differed from mine and you saw a different ending. In my ending, the Reapers were destroyed, giving hope to humanity. I don't buy the whole “aliens stranded in the Sol system” issue. It presumes way too much, such as that the Solar system cannot support that many species, or that the mass effect relays cannot be rebuilt. Secondly, FTL travel is possible outside of the relays, so going home isn't out of the question.

    As for Bond, I think you explain the series perfectly. I simply felt the new Bond lacked many of those qualities you address. But again, that is my opinion. “Observer bias” is my point exactly, and I would never claim that Skyfall is shit, or be so arrogant as to insist that my opinion is factual or can be backed up by evidence.

    As for the side characters in ME3, I did not say they were unimportant, I was simply stating that for me, Mass Effect had more to do with war (I distinctly remember more shooting than talking). The side characters sitting in a room having lunch, without plot or purpose, would give us no reason to care about them. Shepard's sacrifice becomes more significant and emotionally resonant by knowing those characters, so their time in the game is not wasted. After all, those characters represent the galaxy he is saving.

    As for caring whether Shepard dies or not, there are many fans who do. Whether you want to call them “fanboys” is irrelevant and adds nothing to your argument. Also, ending your comment with “Mass Effect 3 is shit”—is exactly the kind of immature discussion I no longer tolerate, which is why I no longer frequent message boards.

    My blog exists for reasoned argument and discussion. If you cannot refrain from swearing and using logical fallacies, there are plenty of better suited websites you are free to visit, but your voice won't be heard here.

    If you took the time to read the post in its entirety, without jumping all over your keyboard to dispute every sentence, you may have understood the thesis of this post. As you may or may not have noticed, this is not a video game blog, it is a literary blog, and as such, its purpose is to make pop culture observations from a literary perspective (if this doesn't float your boat, again, lots of other places you can go with your opinions). While Mass Effect 3 is a video game, it still adheres to certain basics of story telling. The thesis of this post, in case you missed it (it was in larger print) was to shed light on a growing trend in popular culture where character development supersedes plot. You may not be old enough to remember the video games/movies I grew up with in the 80's, but in those days we were lucky to have any character arc whatsoever. Nobody ever asked or cared about Link/Samus/Mario etc. life story. While I agree that the greater emphasis on character is a good thing, I am dismayed by the lack of interest in plot (namely, very little attention was given to why the aliens attacked in Mass Effect 3). I gave many examples of this change in trends. Mass Effect 3 was one of them. You may be simply too young to see how society changes over time.

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  3. Hey Nick! I think you didn't do your homework before argue Stefan. He pointed out several times the reasons for ME3 to be this failure in terms of story and storytelling. Maybe if you check his videos, you could understand better that. They are not just great for learning, they sometimes are funny as hell. 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/user/smudboy

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  4. I did my homework as far as the subject of discussion, primarily the ME story. I don't expect people to be required to visit links all over the web so that I can make a point. I do, however, expect people to actually make an attempt to understand my thesis before arguing. As far as story telling goes, it's quite amazing how many people argue about it without knowing anything about it. I could suggest several books with nihilistic endings. In fact, ME3 wasn't even unusual; if there was any ambiguity to it, it's preferable to feel good, neatly wrapped endings so common, and boring, in games these days.

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  5. Mass effect 3 had a great ending and there's not anything anyone can say to change that. First of all I have been playing mass effect since the first mass effect and I understand it better than most people and I can tell you that the ending is anything but nihilistic. there are so many options that all those people could do like what Nick said FTL travel is still possible its just going to take years instead of hours and im sure that the galaxy will find another means of going faster then light.so I fell like you (Stefan) are just not giving it any possibility's after the Battle or just simply not cares enough to think that far into it.

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  6. “I do not think the ending to ME3 was nihilistic, and even if it were, that wouldn't make it a bad thing”

    1. How is the destruction of the relays NOT nihilistic? All of your choices have been made moot. Every solar system that has a relay, as well as the Citadel, has been destroyed. This is what happens to solar systems with relays in them (see ME2's Arrival DLC.) If it's not destroyed, then the people in the Sol system won't be able to support themselves (humans won't be able to grow enough food for themselves, and Turians and Quarians, due to protein chirality, would simply starve.) The galaxy doesn't get much more nihilistic than that.

    …opinions can be backed up by evidence. That's why have such opinions. If we couldn't back them up, we wouldn't have such opinions. See: science.

    Considering we have dozens of characters, and an ending that doesn't provide an epilogue or resolution to them, then yes, that's a bad ending.

    Mass Effect 3 is shit. It has some drama here and there, but as a whole? Quite shit. I'd go into detail, but that's why I prepared videos:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiN8gL40d84
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxIfQ8ZFd8s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nVf_yDYftY

    Feel free to counter all plot holes, lore breaking scenes, and make such points “not shit.” It's not immature name calling: it's fact. The Catalyst was the most lore breaking scene in the entire series (and there's a lot.)

    Please refer to the “swearing” I have made, and the logical fallacies I have made. Or do you simply suck (swearing!) at a different opinion, and thus label me a child?

    I make literary observations all the time in video games. What's your point? Who cares if you have a blog? I have a blog too. I also make videos on youtube. Still making literary observations in video games, no matter the medium.

    For one, the majority of stories nowadays, as they are told, have to focus on plot (e.g. short stories, TV crime dramas.) The longer a piece of work is, the more opportunity for characters development (you can't tell a short story purely on character development.) Plot comes from characters. If you have a space opera epic like ME3? It would be nice if the protagonist actually developed. But Shepard's a static brick.

    I'm 32. I remember stories and movies from the 80s, thank you very much.

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  7. Dear Fonda:
    How does ME3 have a “great” ending?

    Watch my Bookends of Destruction series on youtube, as well as my new Extended Cut analysis, and prepare to have your mind blown.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiN8gL40d84
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nVf_yDYftY

    I've played all 3 games in the trilogy, and I can tell you the breakdown in the narrative started with ME2.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR558wTjOUU

    All those options? Yeah, they're made moot by the fact that the plot gets destroyed at the end, and then gets replaced by the Catalyst's plot. Then, the destruction of the galaxy (see: ME2's Arrival DLC for what happens to exploding relays) either kills everyone or strands them.

    FTL? Good luck. Still not fast enough to go where you need to. Unless you want to take millennia to get to where you want to go. The galaxy wouldn't find a new way of going faster than light, 'cause they would've died out by then (by lack of food.)

    If you seriously think I'm not thinking enough, you are grossly mistaken. My entire point of analysis is to find meaning. I've devoted over what, 2-3 years, dozens of videos and hours of analysis of the ME series? The only one in this conversation who's not thinking enough is you.

    Take off the blinders.

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  8. There's a lot of difference between a nihilistic ending, a sad ending and a bad ending.

    Since we're talking of videogames here I'll use those as examples.
    A nihilistic ending is the one in Spec Ops: the line. At the end there's no redemption, nothing you did helped anybody or improved anybody's life. You are a monster and there's nothing you can do.

    A sad ending is the one in Dragon Age: Origins: either you or a dear friend of your die to save the world. If you live, you'll bear the weight of that loss, but if you died you know you will have no place in that world, but at least you will have a resolution.
    To the moon has also a really sad ending, and not for the purpose of having a sad ending.

    The end of Mass effect 3 is bad not because is sad, or because many people die.
    It's bad because it's temathically and logically disconnected from the rest of the game, it makes no sense on itself both from the science point of view and plot-wise.
    It's a contrived mess that appears from nowhere, bears no link to the rest of the game whatsoever and spurs some logical phallacies about “synthetics will always destroy organics” and pretends that we are sold on that.

    The rest of the series has some highs (mostly personal stories about side-characters) and some lows (all of Cerberus and the human reaper among the rest), but surely the end is the lowest point.

    Here's another very interesting video that explains my point of view better than I could:
    http://youtu.be/7MlatxLP-xs

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  9. Hi guys I just felt like dropping by and saying that even though you disagree with the ending of Mass Effect 3 that does not change the fact that that ending was what Bioware intended it to be and your opinions do not matter in the end because they are the ones making the games and making the money. So I'm sorry for saying this but analyzing the story for 2-3 years really doesn't matter unless it makes you feel better. They are doing what they love and no amount of complaining about the ending will change that. I enjoyed the entire series and that's the point of a game, to be enjoyed. It was in their artistic vision to end it that way. If you really want things to end your way then go make a game that millions of people will enjoy like they did, less talk and more walk.

    Also if you really care about story, read a book instead of playing videogames. The entire reason Book's are written is to tell a story. I appreciate the fact that you guys are so committed to the ending but in the end it really doesn't matter. That was the story of Shepard and his journey. Bioware has already confirmed they are making more Mass Effect games and maybe those will explain every little thing about the universe. Sadly not all things end the way you want them to.

    Now to talk about the actual point of the article, if you actually read what this Nick guy had to say you would have realized the real point of his article was to say that stories have changed from what they used to be. He said that stories are becoming more character driven then plot driven and I agree. I liked the ending of Mass Effect because It brought closure to my experience and the plot of being Shepard. I feel like games like Mass Effect are meant to tell a story but they are also meant to be experiences. Since you play the role of Shepard nothing is really set in stone. I had a great “experience” playing the role of a commander having to make difficult choices in determining the fate of the universe. It might not have brought closure to the characters but it did to the plot. That is why I enjoyed the game. I cared more about the plot. Without a plot there isn't a reason to care about a person like Shepard. The story of the Reaper threat ended and that's what mattered to me. I care more about the how and why rather then the who, and on that note I never thought the ending was bad.

    Don't forget it's just the ending of Shepard there will be more Mass Effect games to explain other things in the vast universe Bioware created, so there is no need to get your panties in a bunch. Now if you guys really care about story that much that's a whole other story. (…see what I did there?) Why don't you read a book, seriously this Blog is full of articles of great book's that tell phenomenal stories.

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  10. If your entire issue with the ending of ME3 has to do with the relays, you are being very presumptuous.

    1. You have very little understanding of the actual size of the solar system. I suggest you pick up an astronomy book to get a better idea. In a future where FTL travel is possible, teraforming would also be possible (we're almost there now). Food can be grown on Mars and many of Saturn's and Jupiter's moons. I suggest reading author Ben Bova for a better understanding of the solar system. Secondly, the United States alone can feed the entire population of Earth. The current problem with starvation on our planet is being able to transport it. With FTL travel, that should not be a problem.

    2. You presume that the relays cannot be rebuilt. Don't forget that human scientists figured out how to build the Crucible. If they can engineer Prothean tech to build that, they can surely build a mass relay system.

    3. You presume that the story is finished. It isn't. There will be a Mass Effect 4 and I would not be surprised if Bioware addresses many of your concerns. The end of Mass Effect 3 is simply the end of Shepard's story.

    4. FTL travel is possible. FTL is an acronym for (Faster than Light). Mass Effect does not specify how much faster, but we can infer how fast by simply playing the game. The closest star to Sol is Alpha Proxima (binary to Alpha Centauri). The Alpha system is approximately 4 light years away. The Normandy appears to travel from one star to the next in a matter of hours. I do not imagine that Shepard would remain standing for days or weeks waiting for the Normandy to reach another system. Worst case scenario, the Normandy takes 4 hours to reach Alpha. At that rate, to reach the opposite end of the galaxy, you would need 100,000 hours. 100,000 hours/24 = 4166 days/365 = 11.42 years.

    Case in point, nobody is stranded, they are inconvenienced.

    Science is not an opinion. The Earth going around the Sun is not an opinion; it's fact. It is sad that people nowadays do not know the difference between an opinion and a fact.

    I agree that Shepard is a static brick, but that is not the ending's fault; the whole game is like that. The biggest plot holes for me have to do with gaming mechanics—it makes no sense that only 3 people can go on a mission at any one time. This is why I don't play games for story value. If you care that much about story (and I am glad you do) consider picking up a book.

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  11. Stefano, you make it sound as if the Catalyst was just “thrown in there”. There is a name for that in fiction; it is called incidental. Good stories should never be incidental. Typically, the ending of any story should be preceded by a level of foreshadowing. While the hologram child was a bit strange, the idea of Reapers wiping out inferior life forms was foreshadowed repeatedly throughout the series. The Geth is just one example, the Krogan another. Each subplot mirrors the story as a whole. As for Shepard's decisions being rendered moot; I was under the impression that his actions enabled the various species to band together against a common foe. Sure, maybe without the mass relays the various species will be lonely for a while, but it's still better than extinction.

    I have not devoted 2-3 years analyzing the game's story (more like a few hours). But any story you spend that much time analyzing is bound to be disappointing (see Star Wars fans).

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  12. “If your entire issue with the ending of ME3 has to do with the relays, you are being very presumptuous.”

    Where the hell are you getting this? I devoted over 8 videos of how bad the ending is. If only the problem was just with relays exploding. (retcon: ME2's Arrival DLC.)

    “1. You have very little understanding of the actual size of the solar system. I suggest you pick up an astronomy book to get a better idea.”

    I suggest you tell me your understanding of the size of the solar system. Cause I may know it mathematically, but I still can't perceive it; and neither can you (or any person for that matter.)

    “In a future where FTL travel is possible, teraforming would also be possible”

    Prove it from the lore, or you're making shit up.

    A Reaper infested earth? Destruction and death everywhere? Sure, we'll just destroy the world over and make 95% farmland…

    In the low EMS Destroy ending, the earth is reduced to a cinder block. Good luck “terraforming.” And how would military ships have terraforming technology?

    “2. You presume that the relays cannot be rebuilt.”

    And how would that work? Let's IMAGINE and say they can be.
    a) Group A repairs relay A
    …and waits for…
    b) completely separate Group B to repair relay B

    (Nevermind this is a retcon where a destroyed relay destroys an entire solar system. But oh yeah. Mass Effect series: great continuity in their writing.)

    Your speculation on rebuilding the mass relays, vis a vis the Crucible as tech, has nothing to do with how demonstrably bad the ending is, or how destroying relays/not destroying a solar system isn't a retcon.

    “3. You presume that the story is finished. It isn't. There will be a Mass Effect 4 and I would not be surprised if Bioware addresses many of your concerns. The end of Mass Effect 3 is simply the end of Shepard's story.”

    I kind of got the #3 in the title as the end of the trilogy. Stupid people expeccted ME3 to tie up the plot holes and nonsense of ME2. Guess what? They made more (plot holes, retcons, breaks in continuity, etc.) But don't worry. I'm sure ME5 will clear up the bullshit story that is ME4…

    “4. FTL travel is possible (sic)…Alpha Centauri”

    Do the research and math on the lore or don't even bother.

    Whereas the the Asari did detect a primitive human colony in the Alpha Centauri system via the Manswell Expedition, we don't know what conditions or real estate there is to feed the hundreds of thousands of Asari, Turian, Quarian, Krogan, Human and other such species (let alone specific genetic chirality that won't kill each other.)

    And again, military ships wouldn't have planetary-scale terraforming tech, let alone any.

    “Case in point, nobody is stranded, they are inconvenienced.”

    Case in point, you're speculating. Please, quote the codex (which, by the way, isn't referend in the main narrative (at the ending), which still makes it a giant leap.)

    “Science is not an option.”

    Sure it is. It's a body of observations and conclusions that are easily reproduceable. You can believe other forms of science, or none at all, like gravity being a push and not a pull.

    If “it's my opinion that liquid water is wet”, is that a fact, or an opinion? Or both? (See how that works?)

    “it makes no sense that only 3 people can go on a mission at any one time.”

    Unless your definition of a plot hole is different than, ah, the normal one, that's just game play. Referred to as Gameplay and Story Segregation. These things are not issues.

    Exactly which book shall I pick up?

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  13. “Stefano, you make it sound as if the Catalyst was just “thrown in there”.”

    Deus ex machina? Yeah, they are.

    “There is a name for that in fiction; it is called incidental. Good stories should never be incidental.”

    Yes. We know ME3 is shit.

    “While the hologram child was a bit strange, the idea of Reapers wiping out inferior life forms was foreshadowed repeatedly throughout the series.”

    Um, that's not foreshadowing. We're told several times over (and shown via difficult to see visions) that's what Reapers do.

    “The Geth is just one example, the Krogan another.”

    Ah…the Geth never wanted to wipe out inferior life, ever. The Krogan were used to stop the Rachni. The Krogan Rebellions were over their rate of expansion, not their desire to wipe out “inferior life.”

    “Each subplot mirrors the story as a whole.”

    Which? The Geth don't want to destroy the galaxy. No one wanted to.

    “As for Shepard's decisions being rendered moot; I was under the impression that his actions enabled the various species to band together against a common foe. Sure, maybe without the mass relays the various species will be lonely for a while, but it's still better than extinction.”

    Choicemaster 3000 (or 4000, with DLC) makes all your choices moot. Saved the Rachni? Saved the Collector Base? Saved Legion?

    Who cares. Everything's an EMS value.

    “I have not devoted 2-3 years analyzing the game's story (more like a few hours). But any story you spend that much time analyzing is bound to be disappointing (see Star Wars fans).”

    Or it could be fantastic (Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate 2, Knights of the Old Republic 2, etc.)

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  14. Science is not an opinion! Such a statement is demonstrably, unquestionably absurd. Perhaps if you read more and played video games less, it might help you gain some much needed perspective. One of the things I do appreciate about Mass Effect is how much the creators tried to follow basic astronomical principles, which is more than I can say for Star Trek or Star Wars. “Liquid water is wet” is a meaningless statement, and no scientist would ever make such a statement. It's like saying rainbows are beautiful. If you want to understand science better, I recommend Richard Dawkins' “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

    Secondly, terraforming is possible (to some extents we're doing it now). The Earth has been reduced to cinders before. Mass volcanic eruptions turned earth into a fireball, destroying 95% of all species, and yet life came back. Fire does not destroy minerals or nutrients. Matter cannot be created or destroyed; this is called the law of conservation. With the technology that must obviously exist in the future, terraforming is as sure as planting crops. If I write a story, I would never bother to explain every detail about every little thing; I'd expect my readers to have some common sense, to assume basic tenets of reality to be as true in my fictional world as they are true in the real world, unless otherwise stated. Otherwise, we may as well assume that the only thing in Mass Effect are spaceships and guns and aliens. Earth is just a big military base… without farms, without shopping malls, etc., and if that is the case, what is the point?

    The Codex (I didn't really read it, to be honest, too boring) doesn't need to state the obvious. When you fly the Normandy outside that little circle in the game, you are LEAVING the system and going to another one. If the Codex contradicts this, then the Codex flawed.

    In addition, the galaxy is mind numbingly massive place. Even if the Reapers somehow destroyed the solar system (which I didn't see happen in my ending) there are plenty of other places to inhabit.

    Point is, the intelligent species of the galaxy were saved, thanks to Shepard. All is not perfect, but I prefer it that way. It makes for more mystery, which is always a good thing. Like I said, perfect, but bittersweet.

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  15. “So I'm sorry for saying this but analyzing the story for 2-3 years really doesn't matter…”

    I'll be talking about how bad the ME3's ending is for years to come.

    “I enjoyed the entire series and that's the point of a game, to be enjoyed. It was in their artistic vision to end it that way.”

    Media has two purposes: to entertain and teach. The ME series taught us how to laugh at artistic vision.

    “If you really want things to end your way then go make a game that millions of people will enjoy like they did, less talk and more walk.”

    So in order to appreciate a shit story, I need to turn my brain off and enjoy it ONLY for the piece of shit nonsense sensationalistic drivel it is?

    Get a life. Get a soul while you're at it.

    “Also if you really care about story, read a book instead of playing videogames. The entire reason Book's are written is to tell a story.”

    Wow, great. Here's a revelation: I've done both, lots. Nothing's stopping games from becoming excellent stories. (See Planescape:Torment.)

    “That was the story of Shepard and his journey. Bioware has already confirmed they are making more Mass Effect games and maybe those will explain every little thing about the universe. Sadly not all things end the way you want them to.”

    $100 says they'll keep making more plot holes, continuity breaks & lore destruction, like they always have (see ME2, ME2:Arrival, ME3, ME3:Extended Cut, ME3:Leviathan, ME:Deception, & now ME: Paragon Lost.) It's hilarious how much they suck at following THEIR OWN LORE.

    “I liked the ending of Mass Effect because It brought closure to my experience and the plot of being Shepard.”

    Wow, plot resolution. Fantastic. Now how…just that they did.

    “I had a great “experience” playing the role of a commander having to make difficult choices in determining the fate of the universe.”

    Apparently you also had no problem having all of your choices rendered into an EMS value, which gets totally thrown out the door when Starboy tells you what's what.

    “It might not have brought closure to the characters but it did to the plot.”

    Not Shepard's. That was scrapped in the last 10 minutes. After that, it was all various levels of nonsense.

    “That is why I enjoyed the game. I cared more about the plot. Without a plot there isn't a reason to care about a person like Shepard.”

    So you cared about the “synthetics will always destroy organics, always” plot? That came out of nowhere? Cause that's what the ending was. Which strangely had nothing to do with the ending choice you make.

    “The story of the Reaper threat ended and that's what mattered to me. I care more about the how and why rather then the who, and on that note I never thought the ending was bad.”

    If you truly cared about how and why, you would be asking how any of this shit is possible, and why it makes absolutely no damn sense. Why the Catalyst contradicts itself, previous games, and it's own lore and motives.

    “Don't forget it's just the ending of Shepard there will be more Mass Effect games to explain other things in the vast universe Bioware created, so there is no need to get your panties in a bunch. Now if you guys really care about story that much that's a whole other story. (…see what I did there?) Why don't you read a book, seriously this Blog is full of articles of great book's that tell phenomenal stories.”

    Yay, more bad writing! As if ME5 will explain the coincidences, contrivances, plot holes, lore breaks, retconns, voodoo sharks and deus ex's of ME4. I'm sure it'll cure cancer, too.

    We analyze our media so that artists will do better. If you don't, they'll keep churning out the same nonsense, appealing to a wider audience, and will have no identity or premise the original author had.

    Hey want to read a great ME book? Try ME: Deception. I'm sure you'll LOVE THAT!

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  16. OK, you don't understand what deus-ex machina means or foreshadowing. I won't bother to explain them, but I suggest you study up on it before commenting.

    The choices made for a fun game. That's it. As for Knights of the Old Republic 2, I didn't like that game much. The gameplay was too easy for me, and the idea of “killing the Force” was, to me, absurd. But see, that is my opinion. Nothing I say or do will change what you think, nor can you change how I think. That's how opinions work.

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  17. “Science is not an opinion! Such a statement is demonstrably, unquestionably absurd. uch needed perspective.”

    How is the scientific method not an opinion? Maybe if you conduced some experiments, you might see that it is just observation and subjective conclusions.

    And if it is a fact that the Catalysts' reasoning is flawed, he contradicts himself, creates logical fallacies at every turn, is an idiot, and retcons the Reapers and ME1, how is that good storytelling?

    “One of the things I do appreciate about Mass Effect is how much the creators tried to follow basic astronomical principles, which is more than I can say for Star Trek or Star Wars.”

    So the ending sequence where they blow up the relays (and we see it from what, 50k-150k light years away), first blows up a relay (that was never there, see ME: Arrival), instead of starting in the Sol system? They can't even get the goddamned location of EARTH right.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSmnIGpqNJI

    Yeah cause FTL follows basic, astronomical principles.

    Cause we're 100,000 years in the future watching as the light from the relays eventually hits our eyes.

    “”Liquid water is wet” is a meaningless statement, and no scientist would ever make such a statement. It's like saying rainbows are beautiful.”

    Wrong. You have senses. You use them to create a posteriori knowledge, aka, observations.

    You see a white wall. You conclude the wall is white. That is an objective observation.
    You touch liquid water. It feels wet. Also objective.
    You see a painting. It looks beautiful. That is subjective.

    Lots of scientists (and people) have made similar observations. Seriously.

    “If you want to understand science better, I recommend Richard Dawkins' “The Greatest Show on Earth.””

    Or I'll keep doing actual science, like my chemistry courses. Thanks, 'writer guy.

    “Secondly, terraforming is possible (to some extents we're doing it now). The Earth has been reduced to cinders before.”

    1) prove in the narrative terraforming is possible, with a military fleet, or keep your speculation in check.
    2) We're not taling about whoever's left on the planet. We're talking about an entre military fleet of various species stranded.

    “If I write a story, I would never bother to explain every detail about every little thing; I'd expect my readers to have some common sense, to assume basic tenets of reality to be as true in my fictional world as they are true in the real world, unless otherwise stated.”

    There is no indication that the various military ships possess terraformign technology, nor is it even mentioned in the narrative. You're reaching.

    “The Codex (I didn't really read it, to be honest, too boring) doesn't need to state the obvious. When you fly the Normandy outside that little circle in the game, you are LEAVING the system and going to another one. If the Codex contradicts this, then the Codex flawed.”

    Glad we agree on something.

    “In addition, the galaxy is mind numbingly massive place. Even if the Reapers somehow destroyed the solar system (which I didn't see happen in my ending) there are plenty of other places to inhabit.”

    Which you can't get to without Mass Relays…

    “Point is, the intelligent species of the galaxy were saved, thanks to Shepard. All is not perfect, but I prefer it that way. It makes for more mystery, which is always a good thing. Like I said, perfect, but bittersweet.”

    And why you're wrong. It's not a bittersweet ending. It's a nihilistic one.
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=15395

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  18. Stefano, I think you're done here. Your arguments are becoming circular and therefore pointless. What you are basically saying is this: Mass Effect is shit because it is. Any argument to the contrary is invalid because the game is shit.

    If you have nothing more to contribute to the discussion, I suggest you go elsewhere. I have already warned you against swearing, and yet you persist in it (and not for good reason, mind you). There are many great stories out there, but they are typically found in books. I honestly do not pay too much attention to plots in games, because as fiction I cannot take them too seriously. Most of what you are referring to, the plot holes etc., I don't even remember, even though I've played all 3 games. If I were as obsessed as you, maybe I could understand your anger. Obsessing over any one thing is bound to skew your perspective in a negative way. Nothing Bioware could have done could satisfy the time and energy you put into the game. It's that simple. If I could leave you with one thought, it would be this: if you truly care about story, you're looking in the wrong places. Pick up a book. Try “Cloud Atlas”. If you like Sci-Fi, I recommend Ben Bova, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert's “Dune” or Ray Bradbury.

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  19. Nick, I am not making a tautology, or A=A argument. Are you paying attention? I have listed:
    -Dozens of questions the narrative itself and didn't bother to answer
    -Sheer stupidity
    -Plot holes
    -Contrivances
    -Errors in lore
    -Errors in the series.

    The list starts here, with my Bookends of Destruction #3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qa81mq3744

    Read them in the description if you're so inclined, and can't pay attention to the video.

    I am not obsessed. I am merely paying attention, trying to educate you.

    “I am completely baffled by the public reaction to it”

    If you don't want to be completely baffled, watch my videos, or ask me questions. You rambling on about other stories, or telling me you don't care: well, there's your answer. You don't give a shit. I'm trying to help you learn.

    I use objective observation. I get pissed because when I can't find an answer, I realize the writers didn't put even a moments notice of thought behind their work. They disregard, even contradict, their own lore. If a story cannot stand on it's own continuity, when it's a trilogy, it is not great; it is rubbish.

    Stories are everywhere. I look at books, movies, comics, prose, poetry, and games. I have read Clarke, Herbert, Asimov and Banks. I am not some simpleton you can disregard as if I don't know my classics, philosophy or science.

    You invent the narrative by speculating on FTL and terraforming, when there are no instances in the story to tell us such alternatives to the galaxy at the end not starving to death or not exploding.

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  20. When I played the game, I did not notice any errors, as you did. Being that it was an RPG, I focused on the things I cared about. Arthur makes a good point when he says that it's the experience that matters more than consistency. Consistency is important for phone books, not fiction. I enjoyed the drama at the end of the game—the way Shepard, clinging to life with nothing but a pistol in his hands, hobbles over to the light beam. I really couldn't care less what was happening to the Krogan or the Turians. In fact, by not knowing, it gave the game a greater sense of being there. After all, if you were Shepard, what would you know about the galaxy at large? I saw it as his story, his sacrifice, his heroism. The political intrigue didn't concern me. If Mass Effect were made into novel, it'd be a terrible one. A good story needs to focus. We don't need to know the history of Hogwarts to care about the little boy living under the cupboard. In an RPG, where you make the choices, you become the writer/the editor; you decide what matters, and in the story I played, everything made sense, because it was about Shepard. You cared about other things, and are entitled to feel that way. Yes, I did feel baffled and still do. As far as game stories go, it was a good one. If you really want a bad story, try playing Street Fighter or Final Fantasy, which is nearly incomprehensible (but still fun).

    As for FTL, I do not have to speculate. It's right there in the game. Can the Normandy travel between stars without the mass relays? Yes? OK. Case closed.

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  21. OK, an opinion is something that differs for each person. If I say to you, “the color blue is the best color” that is my opinion. In other words, it is true for me, but not necessarily for you. However, if I were to say to you, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” you could possibly choose not to believe me, but that wouldn't make it untrue. Whether you like it or not, whether you agree or not, the Law of Inertia is just as true for me as it is for you. That is called science.

    How is the Catalyst an idiot? How does he contradict himself?

    As for the location of Earth, you can't tell the location of the Earth just by looking at the galaxy. The galaxy is continually moving as is the Earth, not to mention the way the light shifts over time. If you were to look outside a telescope in the ME universe, you would quite literally see the Normandy in a hundred different locations at once. Here I'll have to recommend another book, “Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

    As for science, I will certainly avoid your chem lab if you think you understand it. Yes, a scientist could say “the wall is white” as an observation, but “water is wet” is redundant and pointless; it's like saying that the wall is solid, which is obvious.

    As for FTL, it is agreed that, unless we can get around the laws of physics, it is and will forever be impossible. But I did appreciate how the Mass Effect STORY addressed the issue through the reduction of mass. Without FTL, we wouldn't have a story to tell. The Reapers could never reach Earth let alone destroy it, or if they did, the human race would likely die out beforehand.

    As for terraforming; it's not really a hard thing to do. I suggest you read the Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars series. If the human race can bend the laws of physics to make FTL travel possible, if it can create sentient machines, it should have no problem using algae to create oxygen (as a start). In fact, NASA has a plan right now for growing plants on Mars.

    I still don't see what's wrong with this story.

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  22. That's because you're not paying attention. If you cannot understand peoples negative reaction, that's your problem, and I'm trying to enlighten you.

    Consistency doesn't matter to fiction?! JRR Tolkien would like to have a word with you. So would Asimov's Foundation series, or Bank's Culture series, or Brooks' Shannara series, or ANY book that has more than one chapter. If a story is not consistent, it falls apart.

    …are you really a writer? Do you suddenly forget characters one chapter and just, make shit up the next? Do you retcon things? Do characters contradict themselves, and the previous chapters? Cause THAT'S WHAT ME3 DOES.

    Oh, of COURSE. NOT KNOWING about entire SPECIES. YES. That TOTALLY ADDS to the game. Let's just NEGLECT entire SECTIONS of the narrative focusing on ENTIRE CIVILIZATIONS. We'll just forget LotR's second book, Star Wars' 5th episode, or ME2's character vignettes. That'll make for a MUCH RICHER experience.

    I'm sorry, what planet of writing did you come from?

    In an RPG, you make choices; it's like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure. Your character is defined along those paths, nothing more. Unfortunately, Shepard's a static brick, so you can't really apply that to the ME series. (Look at Alpha Protocol, or KotOR, or any Infinity Engine game.)

    I cared about the ENTIRE narrative. I payed attention because it was there.

    You cherry picked. And now you find yourself baffled by the people who disliked the ending of ME3.

    And even now, you're trying to justify the ending, all because ships have FTL, and will somehow not starve…ah huh. Keep making shit up, chief.

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  23. I watched your video. It found it insulting, simplistic, and downright inaccurate. If your video did anything, it was to alleviate any doubts I might have had about the story, which is just fine, thank you.

    First and foremost, you should never insult people from the get-go when you are trying to make a case. As soon as I heard, “Anyone with half a brain . . .” I immediately wanted to shut the thing off.

    Secondly, your “Writer's Guidelines” is great for high school Creative Writing 101, but that's about it. That's the sort of thing I had to study 20 years ago in college. Once you get into the business, you realize all of those “guidelines” are just that, guidelines. Don't philosophize? Have you read “Life of Pi”? “Cloud Atlas”? “Dune”? Don't introduce new characters in the end? Have you read “Game of Thrones”? For every one of your criticisms, I can give you many examples where famous authors or books did it. There are no absolutes in fiction; none whatsoever. This is practically a theme in my blog.

    As for the Reapers, why did you ever assume their only intent was to destroy all life? Did you really buy that explanation? Because I never did. I knew there had to be something more to the story. If anything is “complete insanity” it would have been such an inane plot. I was happy to know that the Reapers were more than just your average bad guy. How boring would that be? In how many games have we seen that plot device before? Who in God's name wants to see the same thing over and over?

    As for the Catalyst, you keep saying Shepard could simply have told him to “go away”. Why do you assume that was even an option? Shepard had a control panel and that was it. It wasn't a magic genie bottle for him to do anything he pleased. I agree that synthesis was a bad idea, but hey, I didn't choose that ending and nobody else had to. My Shepard destroyed the Reapers. The galaxy was saved.

    Your review also contradicts itself. You show a video where the Reapers claim “you cannot grasp our existence” but then you gripe about not understanding hologram boy in the end. How's that for a contradiction? Plus, how do you expect to simply tell the Reapers to go away and play nice if they are beyond mortal comprehension?

    Quirky twist endings are some of the most popular forms of endings. Whoever wrote that “article” knows nothing about fiction. Some writers have made entire careers out of twist endings—O' Henry springs to mind.

    Learn to read, indeed. My suggestion to you, please read more!

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  24. FINAL THOUGHTS:

    My apologies to readers who found this bantering distasteful. I had hoped for civil discourse, but alas that wasn't possible.

    Stefan, you must realize your opinions are simply that. You have every right to feel the way you do, but you must refrain from insulting people who don't share your views. You wanted to “educate me” but I am still baffled. Was the ending perfect? By no means. Could it have been better? Of course. Was it terrible? Not at all.

    To address a few issues:

    Not all fiction is consistent. A story has to do one thing: interest the reader. Joseph Heller became famous for “Catch-22” where people who die in one chapter show up in the next. Characters may contradict themselves if you have an unreliable narrator, “The Great Gatsby”, of if you're commenting on the insanity of war, “Catch-22”.

    (I) Without evidence to back it up, you insist the aliens will starve. For this to be true, you have to assume that:

    A) There is not enough food in storage.
    B) Food cannot be grown on a ship (ever heard of hydroponics?)
    C) Food cannot be synthesized ala Star Trek (was food ever an issue on board the Normandy?)
    D) Other planets (like Mars) cannot grow food, even though NASA has a plan to do just that.
    E) The Earth cannot recover, even though geologists have shown mass extinctions happen frequently throughout geologic time, and everything turns out fine. In the Permian Age, 95% of all marine species went extinct. The Triassic extinction claimed 80% of quadrupeds. In the Cretaceous, no large land animals survived. Life is resilient. The Law of Conservation states Earth cannot be destroyed other than by supernova. Life would return in time, which is better than total extinction.

    G) The Earth is worse than it looks. But raging fires tells us nothing about the ocean (which makes up 3/4ths of the Earth anyway). Plus, London is largely intact. A true mass extinction, like what wiped out the dinosaurs, would leave nothing standing.

    E) There are too many aliens on board the fleets. There are 190 million in Pakistan alone. Doubtful there are so many on the fleets, but Earth has room (especially now that humans have been killed off by Reapers).

    F) None of the above matters, because of FTL. This is a FACT you cannot deny. It is more than possible for the fleets to go to other systems.

    Your doomsday scenario is based on many more assumptions than mine.

    (II) Starving is technically impossible. As the population nears zero, food becomes abundant. Worst case scenario: cannibalism.

    (III) On your YouTube video, you wanted the Reapers simply destroyed, but without philosophizing or twists of any kind, the story could not have concluded meaningfully. We knew the Reapers were harvesting species; it could not have been merely to make zombies. Destroying Earth would have been as simple as pushing an asteroid. The twist ending was inevitable. Having the Reapers be evil for the sake of evil would have been cliche and utterly disappointing.

    (IV) A story should not introduce new characters at the end, you said, but Mass Effect 3 didn't. The Catalyst is the Reapers! Have you not seen the Wizard of Oz?

    (V) The ending isn't nihilistic. The protagonist destroyed the Reapers and saved the galaxy. But let's say for the sake of argument the ending was nihilistic. That still wouldn't make it a bad ending. Have you read “Hamlet”? Every character dies, including his mother, two best friends, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend's father. Have you read “The Scarlet Letter”? The lovers never get together and the man (a priest) kills himself. Most critics consider these of the very best of classic literature.

    I am sorry Mass Effect 3 made you unhappy, but it's just a game. For me, it was great, and I'll be sure to buy the next in the series.

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  25. I feel the need to interject in the discussion (I am going to tell you right away that I enjoy Stefan/Smudboy analysis of the plot of ME3, and I found myself here because I follow his work, actually).

    I will address your list, first:

    A)It's inevitable that there is a limit to how much food they could bring. Repairing the Relays would surely take a long time, if it was possible at all (nobody was capable of even understanding how they work, and people have been around them for years in the ME universe), so it's safe to assume that they have to at least replenish them somehow.

    B)To do that, you must have the proper equipment and of course, seeds to plant and actual soil, possibly ways to keep it fertile, or access to fertile soil that can periodically be used to substitute exhausted soil.

    C)Food isn't synthetized in this Universe (and in ME2 you actually get a quest to buy better supplies, to raise troop's morale).

    D)You must check if this is possible in this game's universe, and see if they have the necessary equipment to do so (Mars isn't colonized, just so that you know, and hosts just scientific bases, if I remember correctly).

    E) Recovery wouldn't happen before billions die, since the fleet fired their weapons in Earth's direction (something that is actually prohibited by the laws the species of this universe agree upon). Something akin to a nuclear winter is very likely, given the already ongoing Reapers attack (and this handwaving the fact that they had to retcon how the explosion of a Relay should be able to destroy a solar system, by making this one a “different” kind of explosion). There wouldn't be enough space on the ships, and there would be troubles with the food, anyway (You die if you go without eating for a month, and you need a week without water to die, so you should take this into account).

    G)I don't know why you are talking about the ocean, since most humans I know live on the ground, and a fire of that size visible from space might very well create a cloud of ashes big enough to bring another glacial age.

    E)Earth wouldn't be a hospitable place, you could hardly hope to house and feed people in the numbers that the survivors from Earth and the fleet are in such a situation, with the need to build a lot of said housing from scratch (the destruction was massive, I assume).

    F)FTL in the ME universe also needs fuel, and you'd have to see what kind of planets are in range (for really long distances, Relays are required… There aren't neighbouring species to Earth, just to make an example). You are the one making assumptions, since you expect people to fill in any gaps in the known technology there might be, without questioning anything (the game shows no colonies within flying range from Earth, although I haven't checked the Codex on this one).

    II) With cannibalism people die (unless you assume that they somehow store all the bodies of the ones who are already dead in a refrigerator, which sounds unlikely since a)there wouldn't be enough refrigerators and b) if they don't do that… The bodies rot, so the only cannibalism available is from the fresh deads… Since people would probably start to kill each other anyway once the food starts to run out, there should be enough supply, I guess, but people are going to die anyway).

    III)This might or might not work in both the proposed ways, I don't think there is a superior plot on a general basis, I just believe the current one has too many problems to work as it is, the concept itself could have worked in a different setting or a different road to said ending.

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  26. IV)As a general rule, I'd say it's bad (but it's not set in stone, each story and plot has tropes that may or may not fit it, and I believe there is nothing in this one that justifies such an approach, though), especially if it opens and close a completely different story on its own (there isn't anything indicating that we are going to meet or talk with “the collective intelligence” of Reapers, whatever that means. The way the plot rolls out, it seems like we are just going to kill the bad guys, without ever having a chance to confront their reasons… Then, all of a sudden, we talk to this guy, and get a completely different main plot, without any real foreshadowing… And we can't really confront him on this anyway, you never push the issue, you can't argue with it, you just go along with the catalyst even if what he says makes little to no sense, no proof, no evidence, but you roll with it, which is frankly, unmistakingly bad (you'd have no reasons to believe he is telling the truth, since you don't know what the Reapers besides what he tells you, he is the main force behind the whole conflict, and you don't even know what the crucible does… You have to accept his words, but aren't given a single reason to do so by the narrative… It's really bad, I believe). I'd say that in this particular scenario, the pacing is bad, because this character just dumps on you the “real” conflict and instantly offers the solutions (only the ones approved by him… You can't suggest it to just leave you alone, which would make perfect sense by that point). And this is without arguing in depth about the logistic of the choices (they are very, VERY unbelievable) and the underlying themes they carry with them (they are all sort of fascist in one way or the other).

    V)The ending is nihilistic in the original portrayal (I guess you didn't hear the author's comment about “A galactic dark age”. Even if this was partially retconned in the Extended cut, it shows that you probably didn't get the intended message from the ending). The galaxy survives… Just barely. Of course, I guess that technically there is still hope, so maybe nihilistic isn't the right word (I am not a native english speaker, so forgive me if I am making some kind of mistake here).

    You are free to enjoy it, but you should aknowledge that the narrative has many issues, at least (I read all sort of books, both good and bad. I even read the Twilight series. I know it is utter crap, but I found it enjoyable anyway, I don't feel the need to defend it, because I accept its limits). Even if you wanted to say that you can explain somehow some (or even all) the points, I am sure you'll agree that they aren't completely baseless, and if you can raise those questions, and the narrative fails to answer them properly, than the narrative is flawed (and even worse, many of those raise one after the other during the final dialogue, which should at least be internally consistent… But it isn't. The catalyst logic is flawed, but you do what it says anyway… Its justifications are feeble, its attempt at explaining so obscure I actually thought it was lying, at first). You might debate how important that is to the enjoyment of a game/movie/book, but you can't deny that they exist and they matter… And there are no excuses, if the same results for building the tension could be achieved in a more logical way, but the authors simply didn't make an effort to think things through, that's just lazy… This is a science fiction series, after all, and rewriting the lore whenever it doesn't fit your needs is bad, it's like saying that they wouldn't be able to write about believable story in the present, and they just need to change the rules whenever they want to raise the stakes… A fantasy or sci-fi setting isn't an excuse to do whatever you want all the time.

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  27. Welcome to the discussion, mdqp, I had hoped to finish with this issue since I do not really care all that much about Mass Effect (this is a literary blog, after all) but since you put in the effort to write and give a polite response, I feel I should let you have your say. Please keep in mind that I don't tolerate swearing or rudeness here, so when that starts, I'll no longer be taking your posts.

    As for your response, you do bring up some valid points. But I never suggested life would be easy. In fact, I'd imagine it'd be total hell. I'd imagine most of the fleet would die out. However, given what we know of real world history, if small mammals with no technology can find a way to survive the 5 mass extinctions of the past (which did turn the Earth into a cinder) I think a highly advanced civilization can do the same.

    B) Seeds: Throughout the world, in deep underground bunkers, there are seed safe-houses that have been designed for just this sort of scenario. I don't have to speculate here, these things exist today, NOW. Also, soil is often made more fertile after volcanic eruptions. Just look at Hawaii. In fact, fire is used in Brazil to clear land for farming.

    G) A glacial age may actually benefit the planet. Keep in mind, human beings flourished during the last Ice Age. And fish, some of which live miles beneath the water, would be unaffected by fires on the surface.

    E) Housing is not necessary for survival.

    F) You've made a good point about no solar systems being within range of Sol, but keep in mind that the range is based on fuel reserves on board the Normandy. A fleet of ships would have significantly more fuel, and this fuel could be combined to travel greater distances. But let's say for the sake of argument no star is within range of Sol. Fine. There are, however, many systems with human, Krogan, Turian, etc. colonists that do not have a relay system. In other words, even if the relays did destroy the systems they are in, the other colonized systems would be safe. Sure, it is a bit of a bummer that so many had to die for this small victory, but that is a staple in almost all great military fiction. You can think of the fleet's sacrifice like the 300 Spartans, all of whom died in order to help the Greeks join forces against the Persians.

    (II) This is the silliest argument. You do not need refrigerators in space! Space is naturally 3 degrees. All you would have to do is shut down whatever generates heat on board one of the ships and there you go: instant fridge!

    (III) The ending is reminiscent of many authors, including Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. In all of their books, alien intelligence and motives are nearly incomprehensible. The writers of those books expected the reader to wonder, to speculate, the theory going that the human mind is only unable to comprehend so much. When I met the Catalyst, I was not surprised or confused by anything he was saying; in fact, I was so familiar with that kind of “ending” it was almost a cliche to me. I think a lot of this explains why so many people were furious when I wasn't. Different experiences result in different opinions. In fact, I prefer ambiguous endings (I don't like things neat and simple and clear cut). The good guy wins scenario has been done a million times before. Yes, it is bittersweet (billions die) but it gives a sense of consequence (billions die!). In fact, I expected a downer ending; I never believed in the Crucible. It all seemed too convenient, too contrived—a super weapon that magically saves the day? The ending is the only ending that could have made sense (to me).

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  28. To mdqp

    (IV)-(V)

    I agree that there are many, many flaws to the story. I simply did not feel the ending was one of them. Yes, Shepard was given limited options, but what else could he do? He was half-dead, separated from his crew, and just had a pistol. Honestly, when I “ran into the light” I expected a suicide mission. Even if Shepard assumed the Catalyst was lying, what else could he do? He had to make a hard decision, and that, to me, is far more interesting than, “Push Here to Kill All Reapers”. I also do not agree with this notion that there was no foreshadowing. There was tons of it. Didn't you wonder why the Reapers were attacking? Why they were turning people into zombies, instead of simply dropping nukes on Earth or pushing an asteroid toward Earth? When you met the Reapers and they said, “You cannot comprehend us…” didn't it make you wonder? When the Protheans inform you that the Reapers do this every bajillion years, then go away, didn't you wonder why? The story begged these questions be answered. If I wasn't given any answer, I'd probably be as angry as you.

    Of course, it might have ended better, with more explanations, showing more of the battle Shepard helped to organize, but the story was crap from the beginning. Honestly, it never seemed credible that Shepard was the only guy who could do anything in the galaxy (he's everywhere!) and that the Normandy is just about the only ship you ever see flying around, that only THREE people can get off the damn ship at a time (what is everyone else doing the whole time, twiddling their thumbs?), and that every mission you undertake somehow revolves around going on foot and shooting a bunch of people. Basically, the “story” of Mass Effect is, Shepard goes to planet A, shoots people, then goes to planet B, shoots more people, repeat. Sorry, but I cannot take a game story like that too seriously.

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  29. Since it looks like I didn't explain myself properly, I wll try to do so now while I answer some of your points.

    B)Seeds need to grow, too, they don't instantly turn into plants and fruits. Again, the problem here is the time frame, paired with the problems of getting things to restart somehow. In the aftermath of a devastating war, a lot of people are going to be left behind.

    G)Glacial age changes the needs of our society drastically. You need shelter from that kind of weather, and since the destruction was massive… You get what I mean, rebuilding would be very hard, and this only adds to the pressure.

    E)See above.

    F)It isn't just a matter of lack of fuel (which would matter only to the relatively short distances). The other species are so far away they are unreachable without the Relays, and I thought we were discussing generally the situation on Earth, not the other species scattered around the world (I can't make assumptions, but I believe they are fine, on a general basis, even if separated).

    II)Again, I am arguing that a huge number of people, even among the survivors, will die, not that our species will just go extinct and that's it, end of the story. How many bodies can you store on the ship? How accessible they would be? I am not sure we would see a massive effort to get bodies to float around space in order to eat them so quickly… We would probably try to eat what food we have left first, and then, once this food runs out or is getting scarce, people will fight… More deads, but the old bodies will be unusable by then.

    III)What it is reminiscent of is irrelevant to the topic of the discussion. I am sure the ending of a parody is reminiscent of the original work that inspired it, but by no means they should put on the level because of that. I judge the value of a work based on the merits I believe it has, not because it seems to be part of a noble lineage or something akin to that.

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  30. In this story, the plans of the Catalyst aren't complex, or impossible to understand, they are in fact quite mundane, it's just a matter of scale and magnitude that makes it a real issue. I didn't say I was confused, I said I believed it was lying, because there are a lot of logical fallacies (its whole argument is an appeal to probability, for example, in which it states that, sooner or later, we will build AIs that will kill us, and therefore, he has to turn us into Reapers to avoid that the AIs we might create will kill us… I hope you can see that by simply stating that “x will happen” doesn't mean that x will indeed happen. Also, he says that this is going to happen “sooner or later” (I am paraphrasing here), but everything is going to happen “sooner or later”. It gives us no real reasons as to why the conflict is unavoidable, and why it decides to turn organics into Reapers, instead of killing the machines (which would be a much easier thing to do, since their numbers wouldn't be so great if they acted timely… They are strong enough that they could impose their laws to organics, too, so I can't see how this turned out to be the logical solution). Also, the problem here is that the creators of the Crucible (that the Catalyst says was built with each passing cycle… And again, I thought this was supposed to be a trap, because it makes so little sense that people would add and improve to something they don't know how it works and what does it do, unless of course, we are the dumbest cycle around and can't figure it out. The idea of synthesis sounds a really weird addition to do to the crucible, if you are desperately trying to survive the Reapers, which means either kill them or stop them, and since nobody talked to the catalyst before, this means they couldn't know synthesis would have stopped the conflict), are handwaved so poorly it hurts. It also makes no sense as to why its plan doesn't work anymore if they manage to build the crucible (this is made more apparent in the Extended Cut, but basically, the Catalyst can turn the Crucible off, which means everything it's still under its control), it can continue killing people (Aka “ascending them”), and in fact it keeps doing so while you talk with it. There is no reason for it to believe that its solution won't work anymore, and it doesn't act like it doesn't work anymore, since it just keeps doing it as you speak. Synthesis is really poor techno-babble, and has big problems thematically (we can only understand each other if we are all the same, otherwise we'll simply kill and murder every last one of us), and rationally (no technology ever mentioned in the game allows for such a thing… It would also need to work all the time FOREVER, otherwise new non-hybrid life will spontaneously form… And it doesn't even stop hybrids from creating old fashioned AIs, so it doesn't solve the problem the Catalyst poses). This is true for the other endings, too: Destroy is weird (if it's an option, why it doesn't simply suicide together with the Reapers? Can't it at least tell us that much? It doesn't stop us from creating AIs in the future, so not a solution to its problem), and so is control (here too, we have a problem: if it's alright by the Catalyst that you take control, why can't it simply follow your orders? What stops it from just doing that? Again, this doesn't make it impossible for new AIs to arise, so it doesn't solve the conflict the Catalyst speaks about).

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  31. In the end, we can safely conclude that the Catalyst is a faulty AI, and that's why it started all this, but it's awkward that we can't confront it on its proposed solutions, since the actually don't solve the problem it poses. It's weird we can't ask it to stop the conflict and leave, or suicide, or anything else. Shepard's sacrifice is artificial, and thus is made less important, since common sense could avert it.

    Foreshadowing to this meeting and to the real reason behind the conflict isn't there, at least not in a way that could inform players (there are conflicts that somehow migth mirror this one, but they aren't in the main story), at least that's how it looks to me. Of course I wondered what moved the Reapers, I am not saying leaving their reasons unknown would be a good thing, but I feel that the ending weakens their role a lot, from “impossible to comprehend Gods” to “galactic house-keepers”. I am really disappointed in how they decided to answer the question, is all I am saying.

    Yeah, Shepard's “last sane man” routine in ME1 is tollerable, but “Space Jesus” in ME2 and ME3 is really annoying. Since it's a game, I am willing to turn a blind eye toward story-gameplay segregation, though.

    If you say that the story can't be taken seriously to begin with, why did you made a post saying the ending was good? Did you consider the ending in a vacuum, story-wise, with nothing before and after, and that's why you considered it good? Because it sounds weird to me you feel that way about the game, but then consider the ending good (do you mean good as in, “the ending this game deserves”?).

    I'd say that ME1 was a decent piece of sci-fi, if a bit leaning toward the action flicks, my problems are with ME2 and ME3, which are really complete crap from beginning to end,

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  32. I like your Catalyst as faulty AI theory. And I, too, thought that the Reapers might have had a more interesting motivation. I also agree that perhaps Shepard could have shown more reluctance to going along with the AI's three options. I was not thrilled with the idea of, “all AI turn on their creators” motivation. However, the Catalyst did mention that the Reapers only go after advanced civilization, “which is why we left you alone the last time.” I really found that part fascinating. If I had been the author of the game, I would have changed the reasoning to this: The Reapers destroy advanced civilizations to make room for evolutionary diversity, to allow lesser species from becoming dominated by more powerful ones.

    As for my statement about the ending, I thought it was a good ending within the context of the game. I don't know about you, but I really have not come across many games with decent stories. Compared to Halo, Metroid, Gears of War, etc., I found Mass Effect to have a good story, in that it attempted to have story at all. The only two games I have ever played that, IMO, had book worthy plots was the first Knights of the Old Republic and a little known game called Eternal Darkness, largely based off the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.

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  33. As for the motives of the Reapers, much of your reasoning is based on human bias—why destroy the machines, when sentient machines are just as worthy as organics? And why should the Reapers worry about conflict? What I gathered is this, as a collective intelligence, death does not matter to them. It seemed to me that the Catalyst was interested in saving the DNA of all the life forms that had come before, as a way of preserving information. It's not a motivation we could understand, but I saw Shepard like an amoeba arguing with a human being. There is no point to understanding. In the end, I think the Catalyst decided to change, due to the fact that Shepard was the first sentient being to reach its control panel. I do not assume to know precisely how the Catalyst works, and whether or not it can simply tell the Reapers to “go away”. Maybe that was not an option. Keep in mind that many of the AI in Mass Effect developed free will. Maybe the only way to control them was via synthesis. By giving us the destruction option, I took it to mean that the Catalyst had a change of heart, perhaps realizing the fallibility of its own plan. I know this is a lot to speculate, but I think the Mass Effect team left it that way on purpose, for us to speculate. I do think, however, the ending could have been a lot better if many of the issues you raised were at least addressed. A simple piece of dialogue where Shepard could argue, “Why can't you just go away…” would have helped.

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  34. I do not care about noble lineage, I simply listed many authors and books who did precisely what you and many others find so disagreeable. You are entitled to hating nihilistic endings, but that is your opinion. The scenario you envision, a stranded fleet fighting for survival, sounds fascinating—in fact, I think it could make for a great sequel. But you see, that's just my opinion, and we are all entitled to different ones. As to whether anybody is reachable, who knows? I don't think the game made that clear.

    But why speculate? We can actually see how the Normandy crash lands on a tropical planet. We know, by the old man and the little boy talking, that things do, in fact, turn out OK in the future. So it isn't all bad. And even if it is, I applaud Bioware for doing something different. They made something unforgettable. The worst ending you could have is one you don't even remember seeing.

    Now for the sake carpel tunnel syndrome, let's drop this issue. I never intended this post to go so far. I would, quite honestly, much rather discuss books.

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  35. But the Reapers don't preserve the AIs, in fact they usually control them (there is mention of this in a DLC of the game, but I must admit I didn't play it), and it's very much implied that they destroy the AIs (otherwise, you would see them around… What are the odds of all of them going extinct? Machines would rule the galaxy, already, and the objective is to prevent the organics from building synthetics that will destroy organics… It should be obvious that they are destroyed to avoid this scenario, after taking care of the organics), and the Reapers “Ascend” a few species, only the ones it can turn into Reapers, and destroy the rest, so it doesn't even care to preserve all life, and not even all advanced civilizations. An Amoeba isn't capable of arguing with us, but Shepard can argue with the Reapers, especially since their logic fails some of the most basic checks if you place it under scrutiny (as I said appeal to probability, and all the rest). I can understand the idea (hell, that was what I was expecting after ME1 dialogue with Sovereign: “You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it” is the perfect line to convey that idea that these are Chtulhu in space, but once you give them an agenda for what they do, you must be sure it's solid, not a farce. The point here is that this isn't a movie or a book, and player agency has a big role in any videogame (and especially in RPGs, although the Mass Effect series has always been a little light on that part), you can't avoid to ask the tough questions to the Catalyst, because Shepard is both a character and an Avatar for the players, to deny Shepard a way to debate with the inane logic of the Catalyst pulls the players away from any form of control in the most important scene of the game (and I am not even arguing that in the end that Shepard wouldn't be forced in that situation, but to not even try to look for another, much more logical solution?). I am okay with speculating, if you want to keep a shroud of mystery around the Reapers, but we aren't given hints, they tell their plans in our face, and it sounds… Well, kind of stupid (I mean, I almost wanted to tell them how they could have done a much better job, which is bad if you want to portray them as this impossible to comprehend creatures).

    By the way, I was just arguing that the ending is tragic, because a lot of people that defended the original endings said that we were imagining things when I talked about a gloomy ending, but by no means I meant to say that it's bad because of it (that would be too general, and silly). I do believe that the themes of the endings are repulsive (as I said, they all seem fascist at their core, and since at least one of them is presented as good… Make of that what you will), and I would argue about just how much they seem to fit with the general themes and ideas that the games promote throughout the whole experience, but that's another matter.

    I do believe that your idea for their motivation would have been already a step forward (although the galactic community itself tries to preserve any new species they find, ironically, and have all sorts of laws to keep planets with the possibility to develop life pristine), but of course I am going with what they gave us.

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  36. There are games with decent and good stories/plots (Planescape: Torment is a game often mentioned, but I also liked the longest Journey; Fallout 1 & 2 if you are willing to accept their deliberately goofy backstory; Jade Empire from Bioware itself; KOTOR that you also named; maybe its sequel too, KOTOR 2, but you'd have to overlook the many flaws the game has because of its troubled development history; Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is interesting in its own ways, too; I'd say ME1 wasn't too bad, either, if taken alone, but it too had its problems; Deus Ex Human revolution has an interesting story with several flaws, but I'd say its themes are carried on way much better than the ones in ME3, so I'd call it a mixed bag; Baldur's gate 1 & 2 are good fantasy stories, too; Metal Gear Solid is a good story, if marred by overblown conversations and somewhat silly character design). I am not saying that I expected a masterpiece, but the way it was handled was so sloppily it hurt, at least, I had a fit of laughters when I saw the ending, and I gave the game my best “are you kidding?” face more than a few times during my playthrough.

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  37. I generally hold different genres of games to different standards and I generally demand a good narrative from RPGs and adventure games. Again, I don't believe it had to be this incredible piece of art, but this is written very poorly from beginning to end, with a lot of uninteresting dialogues and several attempts at evoking an emotional response in the players I found cheesy and transparent, to the point of causing the opposite effect on me (I won't even try to list the various plot holes, as many people did that before me by now). And I even had my expectations low, after ME2, but it was way worse than I expected (and after a meaningless death and resurrection within the first 5 minutes of the game, clearly intended as a cheap plot device, you would believe it was hard to get disappointed, but I was wrong). I don't know, maybe I am just crazy, who knows? But I believe the game has a poor story even for videogames standards, that's why I complain about it.

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  38. You shouldn't really compare books to games. They are pretty different mediums with very different limitations and capabilities. Anyway, you should give Planescape: Torment and The Witcher games a try, even if they're not your thing. Planescape had the most engaging story I ever had the pleasure of experiencing in any medium. The Witcher games are masterpieces of non-linear storytelling.

    I would also give the first season of The Walking Dead (the game, mind you) a try. One of the few good surprises in the last couple of years.

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  39. That is really my whole point, Mornegroth. I do not expect great story telling from games. I realize that not every plot can be translated into game play. Gamers need something to do, some level of control and decision making, to make it still “a game”. This is why I do not get too upset when a game's story isn't on par with a book. I compare games to games, and as far games go, Mass Effect 3 has a pretty decent story.

    Unfortunately, I am extremely busy and I have to focus my attention on reading. Before Mass Effect 3, I had not played a game in months. It was really an excursion for me. If I play anything, it'll likely be Mario, so I can play with my kids.

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  40. The best RPG you can play is on a tabletop. In the 80's, before anyone could dream of X-Box, that's what RPG meant to me. The choices players are given in a video game are extremely limited—which limits the potential for story telling. In ME3, I really wanted to get into one of those fighters; I would have loved a Galaga inspired scene, but it wasn't an option. Still, I applaud Bioware for their story telling efforts. Even having the option to talk to people is great. I don't know which games you have been playing, and maybe I am missing out on some other great story telling games, but I really cannot think of any with decent story. Before Mass Effect 3 I played Skyrim, and again, beautiful graphics, nonsensical story. To be honest, what I enjoyed most about Mass Effect 1 was the ability to explore space. Call me a geek, but I had the most fun reading the statistics for each planet. I loved how in ME1 you could drop down in the little rover. Opinions differ for everybody.

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  41. I agree with many of your choices. I too, greatly enjoyed Metal Gear Solid and Deus Ex (the original PC game). I can't say I thought too much about KOTOR 2 (killing the Force was an absurd idea for me) and Jade Empire was OK (I'd put those in the Mass Effect category). It's been almost ten years since I played those games, so we can agree that great story telling is rare, and I still don't feel Mass Effect 3, compared to those other games, was bad. I think the game went more for emotion than logic. I really “felt” the ending of the game—the destruction of humanity. It was very visceral and sometimes frightening. I cannot recall how much more sense Deus Ex made (been a while) but I can say that it didn't have the same emotional impact because there was very little by way of other characters (it was mostly a FPS) and by the end of the game, I had achieved something close to godhood and there was no real sense of danger.

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  42. There are PLENTY of games that boast quite the caliber of story, so I'm curious as to why you bring up the medium somehow impacting the quality of storytelling. A game can tell a strong story like a book, and just because you don't EXPECT it does not grant amnesty for failing at it.

    Please don't forget (and if you need a reminder, look at the back of the ME3 box) that they've claimed this to be narrative-driven game play, and that BioWare time and time again have claimed that the story is the most important part. Using basic reasoning skills, one would conclude that the element of this game that should come under the most critical evaluation is the one they're parading to be the strongest: The story. Why do you shrug it off with a statement like “I do not expect great story telling from games” about a game that claims to be ALL ABOUT STORY TELLING? That makes absolutely no sense, but this seems to have a stifling resemblance to the logic found in apologetics so I'm not too surprised.

    I am glad that you bring up that there has to be a level of control and decision making. That means you, much like the writers of ME3, had to come to terms with the limitations they are working in. This is the moment of truth, because it sorts out the capable from the incapable.

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  43. You see, a smart writer at that point would scrap a plot direction or device (i.e.- godchild) that would somehow take away from the plot AND game play (i.e.- all you do is make pointless, illogical conversation that furthers nothing so you could either vaporize yourself or shoot an oversized soda can and possibly vaporize yourself depending upon whether or not you rallied enough people behind your soda shooting frenzy.) They'd probably write something in that would compliment both simultaneously without overstepping their limitations or breaking disbelief, and given the current state of affairs within the ending, that's an entire ocean to fish ideas from.

    A genius writer would find a way to incorporate their desired plot all while keeping the audience involved with both the narrative and the game play. Godchild didn't have to be bad, it just was because a complete lack of competence and an overabundance of denial. This could only exist in a bizarre, alternate-reality where the end stayed the same but was so well written and executed that lavishes of praise were given for a LACK of plot holes and sub par writing. This sadly did not happen as made evident of the dichotomy we reside in.

    A bad writer will not bother to care about their method or limitations, and will simply charge forward with a clunky, contrived, and pointless mess; likely tarnishing any connected experiences within the narrative (in this case, almost everything.) There is no excuse for this, and expecting lenience in any level of critique for this sort of behavior is merely being unwilling to improve; a common trait amidst bad writers.

    I honestly don't care what medium you work in, bad story telling is bad story telling. You could be a film maker, a novelist, game designer, whatever! If you're trying to tell a story and fail at the basics, then you did a poor job. There's no weaker defense than blaming it on your medium, regardless of your subjective predisposition towards it. That shows a lack of ingenuity and an incapacity for creativity on behalf of the writers, and an unwillingness to be objective on part of the critic. There's a parallel between these two, because both require the same things to fix their respective dilemmas:

    Thought and effort.

    I'm not comparing Mass Effect 3 with the works of Isaac Asimov. I'm comparing it to Baldur's Gate 2, which was made by the SAME COMPANY YEARS AGO. That's a pretty fair comparison, considering it's the same group and the same medium. One is significantly more solid in terms of narrative than the other (SPOILER: it's the one without a godchild at the end) and it still delivers despite being “translated into game play.” I guess they were using something that actually works that time around.

    Imagine that, using creative thinking to overcome adversity through limitations… Oh well, it's not like you need creativity in writing, right?

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  44. While I must admit I never had the chance to play a tabletop RPG, I believe you are right of course. No videogame can possibly cover the infinite possibilities that human beings can handle.

    Skyrim is one of the poorest experiences out there, story wise (I think Morrowind does a much better job with the story and the player's role within it, even if it's technically dated right now), but its strength lies in the gameplay, and overall is a really enjoyable game.

    I loved exploration in ME1 too (I never understood why people hated the Mako so much. Sure, the controls were a little clunky, but it was fun to just land on unknown planet to take a look). One of the things the sequels lacked the most is that sense of discovery, getting to know aliens and their culture, exploring planets and learning something about them. In games, that too is often part of the narrative, it enriches the whole experience, and leaves it to the players if they want to get deeper into it or not.

    I can't say I didn't appreciate Bioware's efforts for story telling, but I feel that if you create and solve conflicts by obvious plot devices, you cripple the narrative, that's why a certain degree of consistency and logic is required, otherwise anything goes, and it turns into make believe among children, rather than an interesting story (believability is important, and it's just the first step in a story, and yet I feel ME3's ending doesn't even deliver that).

    I was referring to the Deus Ex prequel, that come out 1 or 2 years ago (I can't remember right now), but Deus Ex too, is a good game. It also solves the situation with a Deus ex machina (as the name easily suggests), but unlike ME3, there is a proper build up to all the 3 choices, and the hard questions are asked, not left to rot inside the players' brains, and the consequences are usually more clear cut, while in ME3, the only ending which is clear is destroy (in control, you are basically the new Reaper god… But can you go insane? How is your mind really affecting the Reapers? Will it work forever? Can you be influenced by them? What are the limits of your powers? And synthesis is… Well, synthesis, freaky glowing green eyes for everyone. I am a med student, so this and the resurrection of Shepard in ME2 really grate on my nerves, although these are also very weird even at basic biology knowledge).

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  45. You see, I didn't care much for the Deus Ex prequel. This is my whole point. Everyone's opinions differ. IF anything grates on my nerves, it is how passionately people fight and argue to prove an opinion. For people such as yourself, logical consistency trumps everything, and I can respect that. I believe, however, that you can have the most logical story in the world, and it wouldn't necessarily be a very good story. I think a good story is one that moves you emotionally, one way or the other. I think Mass Effect 3 seemed to achieve that (at least for me). To see things from my perspective, you would have to live my life and know what I know, and vice versa. I respect your viewpoint and all I ask others is to respect mine. You should check out my current post where I defend Twilight fans. Even though I believe Twilight is of the worst examples of fiction out there, I do not begrudge people for enjoying it, nor do I think Twilight fans are stupid for liking it. Obviously, there is some value they find in those books that I cannot see, and I respect that.

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