Last week, gamers were swiftly reminded of their anger towards the ending of “Mass Effect 3″ and that the game’s developer, Bioware, promised to fix it. Well, the Extended Cut is out and its hefty (but free!) 1.9 GB package features no new gameplay; instead it’s a bunch of cinematics and voiceover clips. That said, a few handy YouTube clips are embedded after the jump!
If you still haven’t played “Mass Effect 3″, I’m going to spoil this game like crazy. If you have no idea what a “Mass Effect” even is, I’m not going to try to explain it!
I will preface with this: I love this game! It has the best gameplay of series as well as the strongest narrative structure. It also introduced me to my bestest friend Javik. Despite the game’s few missteps (DeviantArt EDI and Darthu Maru come to mind), this game is great.
In the Extended Cut announcement linked above, Bioware asks you load a save before the assault on the Cerberus base. Time is precious, so instead I loaded up a save right before you get beamed up to the Citadel. The first big change is a quick cutscene with Admiral Hackett confirming that someone did make it to the Citadel, thus disproving the much-ballyhooed “indoctrination theory”. As a means to explain how the hell Shepard’s BFFs made it back to the Normandy, there’s also a line of dialogue where Shepard orders Joker to pick up his/her squadmates.
Aside from some perfunctory dialogue options that kinda-sorta clarifies the Catalyst’s intentions (in case you’re incapable of making very basic logic leaps), your options are still destroy, control, synthesize, and refuse. Prior to the update, that last one was achieved by taking too long to decide, getting an automatic game over and turning off the Xbox in blind nerd rage. In the update, you now get an ending that explains WHY YOU ARE A BAD PERSON FOR BEING INDECISIVE.
As for the other endings, the big revelations are as follows:
-The fleet (including the Normandy) is ordered to jump away from Earth once the Crucible is activated. This explains why Joker darts out of there as we now see other ships leaving our solar system. So tidy!
-The mass relays may not be destroyed! The “destroy” ending shows a relay’s rings falling off, but the destruction is nowhere near as bad as it was in the original cinematics. Just a few space workers and some new rings and those relays will be as good as new!
The real meat of the tacked-on endings merely expands upon what the player should already know: “control” uploads Shepard’s consciousness into the Reapers and “destroy” has the Reapers fall from the sky and onto some unlucky people. The most alluring ending is “synthesis”; it explains organics and synthetics evolved into a higher choir of existence. This results in a hilarious montage of glowy humans, krogans, geth, etc. checking out their weird new bodies! Everyone’s just standing around marveling at the shininess! So while I appreciate the effort, the original “synthesis” ending was way less hokey but just as effective: glowy-skinned Joker exits the Normandy in a sleek new glowy hat! Leave it to Bioware to make an ending with a robot hat seem understated.
I didn’t mind “Mass Effect 3′s” original ending. It’s an ambitious science fiction yarn with big ideas and its endings were suitably nebulous. Big ideas always seem to have small outcomes in sci-fi. While the three endings are essentially the same with the only difference being the color, the implications are up to interpretation and I definitely enjoyed the experience of weighing the options. The original endings encouraged the player to use his/her imagination, which is far more edifying than having it all spelled out. Maybe with the “control” ending I discover new galaxies with my peaceful Reapers! Maybe I’m a big space fascist!
These new endings lack imagination; they feel like a big, expensive fanfic. The “Mass Effect” series has always been about choices and while these new endings are very sleek, I feel like they rob the player of the series’ greatest choice: deciding what the hell happened after the credits rolled.