The Realisation of a Poor Finish: Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut
I am someone who wasn’t nearly as miffed as most people on the internet regarding ME3’s original ending. I realise people have deadlines and I also appreciate that a video game is someone’s artistic vision brought to life. I do however understand why there had been such an uproar surrounding the whole ‘ending’ fiasco: poor story structure, nonsensical logic and the distinct lack of player choice to name but a few of the issues as to why people were so upset.
When it comes to RPG’s I am somewhat a bit of a headcase completionist, and despite satisfyingly completing the game long ago I decided (needed!) to at least give Bioware’s long awaited extended ending the once over. Sadly, instead of receiving the elongated absolute visual eye-jizz ending everyone was hoping for all I got from this testament to bitching, whining and fan service was a stark reminder of just how annoyingly tedious, janky and un-realized the gameplay of the last two hours of the Mass Effect trilogy really is.
As with anyone who’s completed ME3 will know the free DLC kicks you back at the assault on the Illusive Man’s headquarters; a fairly standard Mass Effect duck and cover based level, but with a few extra baddies and ‘boss’ sections thrown in to make the player feel as if they are coming towards the end of the game. Although re-starting the game by ploughing though the Illusive Man’s hanger did bring back some fond memories of grandeur it also made me start to think of just how much pressure the developers must have been under in order to complete the game and rush it out to stores for it’s March release date.
What annoys me is that Bioware give you such a wide berth of time to find said computer that even Stevie Wonder locked in a dark basement with a blindfold on at night could stumble his way over to the terminal.
Case in point is at the beginning of the level you are given a set amount of time to ‘quickly’ find a computer and override one of Cerberus’ schemes to vent a hanger with you still in it. Simply waiting for the counter to run down culminates in a ridiculous red screen “Critical mission failure” death sequence. What annoys me is that Bioware give you such a wide berth of time to find said computer that even Stevie Wonder locked in a dark basement with a blindfold on at night could stumble his way over to the terminal. I hate to be picky about this kind of thing but to me, as a fan and as a gamer, the fact that this is a ‘panic!!! all hands on deck!!!’ time-based objective on one of the final missions of the game means we at least deserve a glorious death scene, not some padded bra of false illusion.
The next stumbling block I reached on my extended cut journey was fighting the actual ‘boss’ of the Illusive Man’s level – combat with the deadly cyber bastard Kai Leng. Although this character has a fantastic back story and motive it is barely mentioned or elaborated in the actual game itself. Like many of us who cannot really be bothered with reading any other Mass Effect media the inclusion of Leng as a main antagonist is completely baffling and poorly fleshed out, thus rendering him pretty irrelevant to the whole debacle.
Of course the actual fight with Leng is equally as bewildering. You are bizarrely placed in a very open room with a ninja half-robot-assassin whose main attack is with a sword. Call me crazy, but this seems to lend itself to the complete opposite of Mass Effect’s cover-based team shootie bang bang gameplay; so much to the point where the fight ends up being a supreme clusterfuck of bodies, bullets and running backwards. Granted the fight does open up when areas of the floor get blown up, but at the point of the battle it becomes slightly inconsequential as there are so many people in such a limited space that finding cover becomes irrelevant.
The end section of the game is where that glorious 1.85gb extended cut DLC goodness that Mass Effect fans have being screaming for comes into action, but not before you have to play though the game’s final gutwrenching, soul destroying, piss poor excuse of a final battle. Nope, no huge giant robot human exoskeleton to fight here, not even a flock of Reapers and a specially constructed sky cannon to fight them with at your disposal. You rather simply have to combat hordes of the same enemies you have fought a million times throughout the game but with the added faux pas of being in a place with a bit of a shitty cover lay out.
Words cannot explain how many times I either got snagged on cover whilst being surrounded by enemies or had a Banshee teleport directly on top of my face only to shortly thereafter hit me with the dreaded insta-kill. I’m not someone who normally moans about the difficulty of a game but I just feel that the final level of Mass Effect 3 (the final battle after three forty-hour games!) is nothing more than a cheap attempt of making a level ‘hard’ by swarming the player on an overtly broken battlefield. We eventually reach the final push, the huge run toward the Reaper-teleporty-Citidel-shinything. It’s a pretty sweet moment, but now we have a nice new chunk of cut-scene dedicated to your team escaping the battle – thus clearing up one of the many issues fans of the series had with the game.
I have a feeling if you had any form of relationship with a member of your squad who you have taken down to earth you will have a nice little bit of unique dialog. Although I romanced the hell out of Jack I did fool around with Liara in Mass Effect 1 and The Shadow Broker DLC, so we had a nice little farewell which made me feel pretty special. I am glad Bioware have included this emotional albeit short section into the game and pleased it also doubles up to add some clarity to where the hell your team goes at the end of the trilogy.
The rest of the story goes on to play out as normal until you reach the final choice of the game with the scary hologram dream child. Without spoliering things to much you now have the choice to ‘refuse’ all three of the original game ending offers, which I mistakenly found out about by trying to shoot the young child in the head for funsies. I loaded the game back up and proceeded to re-play the section choosing my standard ‘synergy’ choice. It leads a pretty cool elaboration of the games standard ending complete with some cheap looking still-frames and voice overs but hey, who am I to complain as once again I am left pretty content in the storyline department but completely bemused by gameplay choices.