If you are a video game nerd like I am, then you probably have heard the commotion about the ending to Mass Effect 3. Apparently, some players don’t feel that the ending to this trilogy does the series justice.
Let me explain. No, the ending isn’t happy. It is a melancholy conclusion, but the entire last act of the game had been heading in that direction. There are missions at the end of this game that are darker and more tragic than any game I have played, on a scale that is hard to imagine. The only emotions I felt during the entire Sanctuary mission were dread and despair. This only got worse as I entered the last fight. I don’t know how you can have a happy ending after something like that. At no point during the end to this game did I feel that Bioware owed me more than the experience I got. I suppose that it is incumbent on an artist to ensure that the art they create conforms to the unspoken whims of their audience. (By the way, yes, video games are art.) Look at all the happy endings in Shakespeare’s famous tragedies; let’s remember that uplifting painting Guernica; and don’t forget the sublime joy on display in James Cameron’s opus, Titanic. The point is that it doesn’t matter how much you want the characters to have a happy ending. The only two things that should impact a story are the artist’s choices, and the needs of the story itself.
There are other complaints besides “I didn’t get the happy ending that I paid for!” These hold just as little water. The complaints basically suggest that there isn’t enough to distinguish the choices at the end. Again, that is crap.
No, there aren’t huge differences in the cut scenes that play out after the game ends, and yes I wish there was more of a difference. While I don’t like the probable reason (compatibility with future DLC), I had no problem with the end I saw. It wasn’t until I went back to compare endings that I saw the similarity. When you play a game like this, you shouldn’t go back to see the different endings at all. You should own the ending you got, just like you should own the story that your choices made.
The real problem is that this entire game has been about wrapping up the threads of the last games. Huge plot points in this game are the ultimate payoff for events that started in Mass Effect 1. We have seen tremendous character growth in the various crews of the Normandy. There were moments in this series that brought tears to my eyes. Ultimately, while I think that the haters of the ending are whiny, little chumps, what really upsets me is how they express their dissatisfaction. These chumps have whined publicly, called the developers terrible names online, and even hijacked a charity to make their point. In short they have had an internet tantrum.
Do I wish Bioware had spent a little extra time fleshing out the different endings? Of course I do. Do I think the slightly less than ideal ending negates my experience with the most epic story in video games so far? Not on your life. Will I play through Mass Effect 3 again? Absolutely.