The video game industry has seen its share of let downs; from the release of the much-anticipated Duke Nukem Forever after 15 years to the disappointing Fable III, and even to the catastrophe that was The War Z. While this is a common practice, some games certainly stood out more than others, and I felt as though one stood above, or should I say below, the rest – Mass Effect 3, which was a disappoint 5 years in the making.
BioWare had put high hopes in the minds of gamers even before the release of the first Mass Effect game. The premise of the game was to discover more about an unknown synthetic race known as Reapers, and discover a way to stop them from wiping out life in the known universe. It had been stated that most (if not all) decisions you make would have an impact on the outcome of the trilogy, most notably how the reapers were stopped. Throughout the course of the trilogy, major decisions such as choosing to save or kill certain characters, and how you choose to treat your party members and characters involved in side quests. These choices were carried over throughout the trilogy, so many so that it seemed unfathomable that all of these would influence the end of the game. Surely enough, the promises were once again confirmed when director Casey Hudson stated that the ending will be “different for everyone who plays it “ based on all the choices that were made, leaving fans with a astronomical expectations for the climax of the series.
This following section contains possible spoilers
However, after building up an army and increasing your “galactic readiness” in an effort to fight off the reaper invasion throughout the campaign (and online play if you so choose) and reaching the final playable section in the game, it was clear that the multitude of promised endings based on your decisions did not exist; the only decision that is relevant to the ending is the last one you make based on three options, in which the player was able to arbitrarily decide how the reapers were dealt with. Possibly even worse, the three endings are almost entirely identical. As one would expect, much of the fan base was outraged; a game that had a story based around the player’s decision, but later revealed that most of the decisions were irrelevant would be infuriating to anyone. This frustration was shared by most of the fan base, even bringing some so far as to create a petition, which raised $40,000 on the first day (money which was directly donated to the Child’s Play organization), to change the ending of the game. Some more, well, passionate fans even took it upon themselves to contact the Better Business Bureau, who claimed it was false advertising and even threatened to sue. BioWare responded to these complaints by releasing downloadable content to slightly alter the ending, and even adding a fourth possible option – a refusal to make a decision. This content helped to clarify a few aspects of the already confusing and disheartening ending, but did little to soften the blow for the disappointed fans. Recent expansions have also been released such as “Leviathan”, which helped to shed some light on the events that transpired toward the end of the game, but for many it was too little and far too late.
Recently, BioWare even announced the released of Mass Effect 4, which would have a completely new story arc and a whole new cast of characters. This does however beg the question, should the fans give this new game a chance after they were left with such an anticlimactic ending to the previous trilogy?