If you have taken a look at any gaming fan sites or blogs in the past couple of weeks, the biggest news was the ending of Mass Effect 3.
Soon after the game was released, fans flooded the Internet with complaints about the ending. The complaints quickly became rage, as campaigns began to appear in an effort to force BioWare to change it.
It is important to understand that the ending constituted a small percentage of the actual game time, only 20 or so minutes of a campaign mode that spanned 20-plus hours.
So why was there such intensity in the complaints about such a small part of the overall game?
Story and video games have an interesting relationship. Depending on the game, players have different expectations of the story. The Modern Warfare games involve a number of set pieces linked by a mediocre story.
The Mario Games, one of the most important game franchises, have the age-old plot of rescuing the princess from a monster. Yet fans are not asking to change their stories.
While gameplay is the most important aspect of any video game, the importance of plot is dependent solely on the game itself.
In the Mass Effect franchise, in fact, in all of BioWare’s games, fans have had a very high standard for the story.
What we have seen is what happens when the story does not meet those standards.
One of the main reasons for the outrage is the how the developer advertised the game.
The writer, director and numerous people involved with the game promised that fans are going “to get some closure, a great ending. I think they are going to get that,” an ending that would break free from the standard A, B and C ending. The ending that the fans got was completely different than what they were expecting and what BioWare promised.
To understand the true outrage, it is important to know the basics of the actual ending of the plot. So this is officially a spoiler alert. You have been warned.
After Shepard gets on the Crucible, he is confronted with the Illusive Man and Anderson.
It is not explained how they got on the crucible, but after an argument on what to do with Repears, the Illusive Man dies and Anderson is mortally wounded. Shepard is then taken to the “top” of the Crucible, where he meets the “Catalyst,” who claims that he created the Repears.
He created the synthetic Repears to eliminate most of organic life, so organic life does not create synthetics to destroy organics.
Then Shepard is given three choices: destroy the Repears, combine organic life with synthetic life, or control the Reapers.
No matter the choice, the Mass Relays are destroyed, Normandy has crashed landed on a planet, and Shepard is shown to be alive.
After that, we are given a prompt saying that the adventure will continue through DLCs. If you think that this ending is hollow with more questions and answers, then you are in the vast majority.
Contrary to what BioWare promised, the choices that you make, either in this installment or the previous ones, made little to no impact on the ending.
Fans have also come up with an alternative theory called the “Indoctrination Theory” to make some sense of the ending, but even that leaves us with a false ending. What the outrage shows us is that even an acclaimed video game franchise can be overtaken by few bad story decisions.