joiedecombat: (Shepard lives!)
[personal profile] joiedecombat
Okay.

Now that I've calmed down some, let me discuss Mass Effect 3.

Stuff I did not like:

* The completely unhelpful mission journal. The previous two games updated the mission journal when you made progress in a quest - even a sidequest. They also told you where to go to clear objectives. Mass Effect 3's journal does not do this, or even tell you in what manner the mission was resolved when it drops off the active journal into completed/unavailable status, making it impossible to tell if you actually completed a sidequest or simply ran out of time. This is a comparatively minor nit, but frustrating at points.

* Diana Allers, please put a shirt on. (Shepard's little black dress is similarly unfortunate. The one from Kasumi's loyalty mission in ME2 was so much better.)

* I was mildly disappointed that after I let her go in ME1, the rachni queen only got captured and enslaved by Reapers again. The promise delivered by that nameless asari on Illium in ME2 gave me a little chill, and I was really hoping to see it play out - the rachni fleet sailing to the rescue to help burn the Reapers from the face of the galaxy, to a resounding chorus of "WTF?" from the Council races. That would have been awesome.

* Not a single person on the Normandy acknowledged in any way that Thane had died. After hearing their reactions to every other plot development up to that point, it made me incredibly sad that nobody had anything to say about it and everyone wanted to talk about Kaidan being back instead. Kaidan was my Shepard's love interest - she didn't have one in ME2 - and this left me suddenly feeling not all that happy to see him. (Seeing Thane's name on the memorial wall helped slightly, and eventually being able to gut Kai Leng like a fish helped too... some.)

* I would also have liked some ingame mention of Emily Wong's offscreen death, because it was something that, even in spite of being done purely via Twitter, managed to have a lot of emotional impact. And besides that, dammit, I liked her.

* It didn't affect me personally, but it sucks for anyone whose FemShep romanced Jacob that, after seeming serious about her by the end of his romance in ME2, in ME3 he's given up on Shepard completely during her house arrest and has started a relationship with another woman, with no justification beyond "the Normandy is your true love." (Funny, none of the other possible love interests seem to think so.) Kaidan had an excuse for trying to move on in ME2: it had been two years and Shepard was dead. Jacob has no such ground to stand on. I can only assume this was influenced by the lukewarm fan reaction to him in ME2, which is no excuse; there were people who liked and romanced him - I wasn't one of them, but I know they were out there - and no other romance got shafted so badly.

* The ending.

I'm going to try to break down my response to the ending in the most objective way I can. Let me say first that I never expected a perfectly happy "everybody lives!" ending. Nor do I feel that, had the Crucible turned out to be a galaxy-wide Reaper killswitch that ended the war with no further damage, it would have constituted a perfectly happy ending. Billions of people are dead. As many or more are traumatized and/or homeless. Whole colonies have been wiped off the map, and probably every inhabited world of any significance whatsoever has taken major damage to resources and infrastructure that will take decades or longer to repair. People Shepard personally knows and cares about are gone: Mordin is dead. Thane is dead. Legion is effectively dead. Anderson is dead, along with potentially many others. The ones who haven't been killed have lost people they care about (connect the dots and you realize that Joker's father and little sister died horribly on Tiptree, for example). There may not be a single person alive in the galaxy who has not lost someone or something important. After the war as the game up to the ending showed it, everyone has scars.

When you spend three games getting to know the setting and the characters, there's a high level of emotional investment. After seeing them all put through the wringer like that, you want to know that the effort and sacrifices and pain paid off, that they and the things that they're fighting for - their homes, their worlds, their friends and family, the freedom and continued survival of their respective species - are going to be okay. The ending of Mass Effect 3 does not give that assurance. It's too vague, too open-ended, makes too radical a sweeping change to the nature of the setting. There's next to no indication of what happened to any of the characters you've spend three games getting invested in: we see Joker and one or two squadmates crash-landed on an unknown garden world, but that's all we get.

Interviews prior to the release of the game claimed that the ending to Mass Effect 3, as the end of Shepard's story, would be definitive, that it would not leave a lot of unanswered questions. But it does. What happened to all those people on the Citadel when the Reapers took control of it? What are the consequences of Shepard's ultimate choice, and how does that and the destruction of the mass relays affect galactic civilization? What happened to Shepard's team members - how did people who were on Earth with her end up on the Normandy, and how did the Normandy end up crash-landing on an unknown planet in another system? How are the turians and quarians stranded in Sol system going to survive with only a limited supply of dextro-amino-based food (whatever's on Earth for a relatively small population of immigrants and tourists, plus whatever supplies they have on their remaining ships) available to them and most likely no way to get more? For that matter, if Garrus and/or Tali was on the Normandy when it crashed, are they doomed to starve to death, or is it Joker and the rest of the survivors who are doomed?

We can guess at the answers to these questions, we can extrapolate (mostly unhappily - Tali's probably never getting back to Rannoch, for example) but that's all we can do. The game doesn't tell us. The only assurance we have is that, according to the epilogue, sentient life as we know it doesn't die out completely in the aftermath of Shepard's choice.

The ultimate choice also honestly doesn't make sense in the context of the rest of the series up to that point. Yes, all three games establish the conflict between organic and synthetic life. The first game takes the unilateral stance that synthetic intelligence has no reason to coexist with organic life and will always turn homicidal; the second game challenges that assumption by introducing EDI, an AI who is consistently altruistic and helpful towards the organic crew of the Normandy even after all programming constraints are lifted from her and even comes to consider them her shipmates and friends, and Legion, who provides a very different and sympathetic perspective on the geth and is also consistently helpful and altruistic. The third game brings this to its logical conclusion by giving Shepard the opportunity to forge peace between the geth (by this point depicted as cruelly wronged by their creators) and the quarians, and to encourage a romance between Joker and EDI--

--only for the Catalyst to claim that all synthetic intelligences will inevitably turn on and destroy their creators, and the only way to prevent this is to either a) allow the Reapers to keep on harvesting advanced civilizations before their creations wipe them out (I am unclear on how this is preferable, since I consider "melted into grey goo and used to build a Reaper" preservation only in the most technical sense, and I refer you to Mordin's rant about the Collectors for more on this subject), b) either take control of or destroy all synthetic life currently in existence and possibly a good bit of other technology besides, including the geth and EDI, who in no way deserve it, or c) or enact an Instrumentality plot. Nothing about the series up to that point gave me any reason to expect to see an Instrumentality plot turn up in Mass Effect, let alone as the "best" (at least in the sense that it requires the highest wartime asset score to unlock) possible ending. And there's no opportunity to make an argument using EDI and the reconciliation of the geth and the quarians as counter-examples to the Catalyst's assumptions.

I don't object to Shepard having to sacrifice herself to activate the Crucible and stop the Reapers, although I feel like a "golden ending" in which she survives should be possible. I do object to Shepard having to sacrifice herself (unless you reach a suitably high wartime asset score and also take the "destroy" ending, presumably sacrificing the geth and EDI in the process) to accomplish one of three equally unpleasant "solutions," any one of which seems to irrevocably change the face of the setting into something unrecognizable as the setting I've been invested in for three games.

And maybe it doesn't actually change it as drastically as I'm supposing - but again, I have no way to know, because the game doesn't tell me.

And then we come to the things that were promised about the ending prior to the game's release which simply were not delivered.

We were promised that the ending would be definitive and provide a sense of closure for the trilogy. It doesn't.

We were promised that while playing multiplayer helps improve your wartime readiness, it would still be possible to reach the "golden ending" via single-player alone. The final verdict is out on this while people crunch the possible asset numbers, but so far it seems like it's simply not possible to reach the necessary 4000 effective wartime asset score necessary for the "good" ending, let alone the effective 5000 score needed for the "best" ending, without the readiness percentage boost from multiplayer. Not that this matters, because...

We were promised that how we progressed to the ending would affect the ending we get - to quote Casey Hudson, "If you just rip straight down the critical path and try and finish the game as soon as you can, and do very little optional or side stuff, then you can finish the game. You can have some kind of ending and victory, but it’ll be a lot more brutal and minimal relative to if you do a lot of stuff. If you really build a lot of stuff and bring people to your side and rally the entire galaxy around you, and you come into the end game with that, then you’ll get an amazing, very definitive ending." Mass Effect 2 actually did this. If you didn't take time to ensure the loyalty of your squad and upgrade the Normandy, you saw your ship trashed and your teammates dying over the course of the suicide mission, up to a possible very bleak ending in which Shepard herself dies. I imagine most of us were envisioning something similar for ME3's ending, but on a larger scale to reflect the larger scale of the fight.

Instead, the possible variation of the ending sequence is minimal. At too low a rating, you're forced into the "Control" ending; higher scores unlock first the "Destroy" option and then the "Synthesis" option, and finally a hint that Shepard might have survived if you reached a high enough score and also took the "Destroy" option... none of which means anything, because (aside from Shepard's possible survival in that one ending, which still isn't very encouraging because your friends and love interest are stranded god knows where away from Shepard) the only difference between the three options is the color of the light that erupts from the Crucible, whether the Reapers fly off or (in the "Destroy" ending) fall over, and vaguely creepy glowing eyes and circuitboard patterns on everything if you picked "Synthesis."

All of these issues combine to make the ending incredibly unsatisfying. And it's truly a shame, because up until the Catalyst made its appearance the game was amazing. The other complaints I've listed are, for the most part, such small things. I don't understand how Bioware's team could have put together such an epic game experience and then dropped the ball so dramatically just shy of the buzzer.

My personal opinion is that the ending did not need that one final big game-changing choice. the whole game was about hard choices and sacrifices just to get to that point. By the time Shepard is up there having her last conversation with Anderson, there is no way a Reaper killswitch would be an "easy" ending - she and the rest of the cast, the rest of the entire setting, have gone through so much hell that they have earned it. Or, hell, if people really feel that would be too easy, the Crucible could simply deactivate the Reapers' barrier, like what happened with Sovereign when Shepard defeated his Saren-puppet on the Citadel in ME1 and gave the fleets an opening to destroy him.

And, you know, the rest of the game is so damn good that if Bioware were by some chance to release DLC that retcons the ending, I would probably buy it. I'd wait for reviews first, because now I've been burned, but if they were even guardedly positive I'd probably buy it. I don't want to encourage game companies to release incomplete games and then charge extra for DLC to complete them - my main argument against getting into MMORPGs has always been that I feel like I should only have to pay for a game once - but aside from those last five minutes, it's so, so good. I really want an ending that lives up to the rest of the game.

Bioware's response to the complaints has been... well. I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I've heard Bethesda released a DLC ending fix for Fallout 3, so there's some precedent, but since I didn't get more than a few minutes into Fallout 3 I have no idea of the details or what the scale of the thing was.

Guess we'll see.


Now, with the negativity out of the way, Things I liked:

* The sense of urgency throughout the game is remarkable. It's easy for video games, especially RPGs, to fail on this sort of thing because the player knows perfectly well that unless there's a timer on the screen, the world will remain just on the verge of disaster indefinitely while they swan around the map for days completing sidequests, collecting gear and resources, and level-grinding to their heart's content. This is just as true in ME3 as it is in any other game - moreso, because those sidequests will expire completely if you progress too far through the main plotline, with potentially grisly consequences - but the game never lets you forget that the galaxy is going to hell and people are suffering and dying out there. Like I talked about in my previous post, everything comes back to that.

There's a senile woman at an embassy office repeatedly asking the asari clerk about her son, who "hasn't called in a long time," to the poor asari's increasing frustration and sadness. There's an Alliance private asking to be deployed against the Reapers and not Cerberus because she recently learned that her little brother joined Cerberus. There's a salarian on medical leave for an almost-healed injury, gushing about the top-of-the-line heavy armor he received through some sort of mix-up that happened to coincide with his human friend selling her beloved car. There's a human criminal tearing her turian partner a new one for suggesting that they could steal a couple of crates of Alliance supplies from Customs. There's the truly horrifying story told, over a long series of overheard conversations, by a PTSD-stricken asari huntress in the hospital - and an opportunity that comes up via Spectre channels to authorize her request for a gun.

Minor collection sidequests run along the same lines: the batarian preacher trying to find a way to lend emotional strength to his decimated race. Medics at the hospital who desperately need specialized supplies. The elcor ambassador pleading for someone to try to evacuate civilians from his fallen homeworld. The list goes on.

* The memorial wall on the Normandy, which I actually passed by a good many times before I realized what it was, and then I went all gooey. I confess I wanted to see Emily Wong's name on it.

* James. Muscles on his muscles and a face like he's been chasing parked cars, and a much better example of the "relatively stable human male squadmate" than they ever managed to pull off with Jacob back in ME2. He's laid-back, straightforward, and frequently funny, and not without his own baggage, and he plays very well off all the established team members from the two previous games. He won me over by the time I got to Eden Prime and heard his conversation with Liara about dinosaurs. I loved his reactions to things that are new to him but old hat to the rest of the cast, his banter with Cortez, his bull session with Garrus, and his efforts at getting to know Javik.

* The party banter and conversations in general, a prime example of the thing that I mentioned in my last post about how Bioware was clearly putting everything they learned from the previous two games into practice and listening to what fans had to say. Not only is it much smoother and more believable now that most characters only start a conversation tree if they have something new to say, I love that they interact with one another so much more, even moving around the ship periodically or turning up on the Citadel, instead of being constantly glued to their assigned spot or trailing behind Shepard. That was a big issue with ME2, both the frustrating broken-record loops when a squadmate had run out of things to say, and how disconnected the team members seemed from one another most of the time. That may be why no one had anything to say about Thane's death, in fact... after all, they barely interacted with him when he was on the Normandy before. By comparison, the intra-party interactions in ME3 are priceless, like Garrus and Joker trading jokes about each other's militaries, or Kaidan and Tali nerding out intensely over their respective omnitool preferences.

* I liked Samantha Traynor and Steve Cortez, both as gay characters whose characters are not about being gay and would not be any less interesting if they were hetero, and just generally for their characterization as a whole. I found Traynor infinitely preferable to Kelly and liked seeing her gradually grow more comfortable as part of the Normandy's crew (especially her lines about wanting one of those little "units killed" stamps on the galaxy map for every time she analyzed the crap out of some data), and as already mentioned, I loved Cortez's banter with James and his presence as an actual personality at the steering wheel of the Kodiak, and his struggle to cope with the loss of his husband to the Collector raids.

* Getting Ken and Gabby back! I loved them to pieces in ME2. Too bad they didn't have as much to say this time around, but getting them back made me happy regardless.

* Garrus's entire role in the storyline. He was a favorite of mine in the first game; I still liked him in ME2 but I thought his arc in that game just wasn't as strong. His writing in ME3, however, is a thing of beauty all the way through. His conversations with Shepard about "ruthless calculus," his support of her in the low point after Thessia, that buddy-time scene up at the top of the Presidium, and oh man that last goodbye... It's all such great stuff. I never romanced him - could never bring myself to; he always felt so much like Shepard's alien little brother by the end of ME1 - and I feel no need to do so now. His storyline and his interaction with Shepard are perfect just as they are.

* ME3 also finally made me actually like Jack. I didn't dislike her before, but her characterization held no interest for me in ME2. It was really nice to see that she'd matured and grown as a person by 3 - still recognizable as the same person, but no longer cherishing a homicidal mad-on against the rest of the world, and involved in something and with people she honestly cares about and wants to protect. Score a win for warrior therapist Paragon Shepard there.

* Grunt practically slamming through his squad to greet Shepard, and his dramatic last stand, which had me talking to the TV screen telling the game it had damn well better not kill my baby krogan. First actual tears of the game. And then, "Anybody got something to eat?" Oh, Grunt. Never change. ♥

* Basically everything about the Tuchanka leg of the storyline, where the game really starts giving a sense of just how difficult it's going to be to pull the various species together into a force sufficient to stand up to the Reapers. In its most basic form, it's not really anything different from things Bioware games have done before - the PC needs help from a group that needs her to resolve a problem for them before they will, or can, commit to helping her. Dragon Age: Origins did it well. But Orzammar is a cakewalk in comparison to the desperate balancing act Shepard has to perform in order to try to reconcile the thousand-year-old grudges between the turians, the krogan, and the salarians. Just when it seems like things are going to work out, there's some new complication - that turian bomb, the salarian Dalatrass's ultimatum - that threatens to bring the whole thing crashing down. Intellectually I knew that the game would go on, but emotionally I was on the edge of my seat biting my nails in suspense, wondering if I was really doing the right thing or not.

And then it came to such an epic conclusion. First the mother of all thresher maws versus a Reaper, summed up perfectly by some random YouTube commenter: "Welcome to Tuchanka, motherfucker!" It's awesome, and it's the first breath of hope that this can actually be done. And then Mordin's final scene at the Shroud. He was probably my favorite new character from ME2, and it hurt a lot to lose him, but taking the Paragon option it was such a fitting and satisfying way for him to go out. If you're going to kill a major character, that's how you do it.

* Thane's death is the same. He's another character that I loved from ME2, and I cried like a little girl over his last scene, but he went out like a badass and remained made of class right to the end. I don't doubt that if Thane had been in his prime, Kai Leng would not have stood a chance. As it was, I wanted Kai Leng's head on a plate. Just like with Mordin, it hurt to see him go, but it fit. Even having an alternate Shepard who romanced him in ME2 and who I may someday import for an ME3 run, I'm satisfied.

* I was a wreck by Rannoch, especially going through the geth server and seeing the recorded memories from the Morning War, which made it clear that the quarians were in the wrong. I had no idea if I'd be able to reconcile them, and I couldn't imagine what I'd do if there wasn't a way to convince the quarians to let go of their 300-year-old vendetta - the geth didn't deserve to be wiped out, but if the alternative was to side with them and condemn Tali's people to death instead? :C :C :C On top of that I was terrified that Legion - another favorite from ME2; these games have a remarkable talent for making the oddest things cute, like krogan and geth - was becoming corrupted by Reaper code, or breaking down for some other reason. Yes, Legion. Yes you do have a soul. :c

Also, fighting a Reaper ON FOOT, staring down its eyebeam and calling down an orbital strike from an entire fleet. Glorious. Even if it did take me three tries on Narrative difficulty.

* Liara's effort to create this cycle's version of Vigil, to preserve everything they knew about the Reapers and try to fling a light of hope ahead into the next cycle in case they lost... which was heartwarming, but also brought home again how desperate the situation really was.

* I also really liked how the events of the game clearly took a toll on Shepard, especially after the failure at Thessia. In the first two games, she could get frustrated, or angry, but in ME3 we see her tired. Scared. Battling against despair. Needing support from her team, instead of being the rock-steady warrior therapist who talks them through everything. Jennifer Hale, whose voice-acting for female Shepard I've liked from the beginning, really brought her A-game.

* Drunk Tali. Tali in general, but her drinking binge was both heartbreaking (especially since it came right after I got the email about Kal'Reegar's death ;_;) and hilarious. "Emerrrrrrrgency induction port!" Especially drunk-dialing Javik to tease him about liking Liara. "And you like meeeeee tooooooo!" Liz Sroka's voice acting for Tali is so cute.

* Speaking of Javik, I liked him well enough. I don't know that I'd have felt the need to mention him specifically, though, except for Liara's reaction to him, culminating in her losing it at him after Thessia for not having all the answers, and his surprisingly encouraging pep-talk to her in response. And then all but admitting to Shepard afterwards that he said it not because he believed it, but because it was what Liara needed to hear. The scene with him on the Citadel being confronted by NPCs looking to him, a Prothean, for reassurance that he has trouble giving was also very compelling.

* "This is for Thane, you son of a bitch." I will never, ever not take that Renegade interrupt.

* And just... everything about the last push through London and the final conversations with team members past and present. Especially the ones with Garrus, Kaidan, and Tali. Like Liara's work on those new beacons, they really brought it home that this could very well be the end of everything.

And, related to that, the last conversation with Anderson on the Citadel: "You did good, child." All of my tears.

* Also, this. Probably the most positive channeling of frustration over the ending that I've seen. Even if Bioware takes no notice, at least the charity gets the benefit of it.

As I gain some distance from the ending, I think, overall, it has not ruined the experience for me, and I'll be able to do another play through, perhaps through the trilogy as a whole. I'm just going to... turn the console off after the last talk with Anderson, and imagine my own ending from there.

Date: 2012-03-14 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natasharules77.livejournal.com
Reading over some of things on the good end really makes me want to go replay the game again. So many just amazing moments in voice acting, in cinematics, in overall character growth...Mass Effect 3 did almost everything right. That's what makes the ending so much more inexcusable.
Edited Date: 2012-03-14 05:07 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-14 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Yeah. I mean, it'd be one thing if the game failed as a whole, due to time constraints or changes in the creative team or meddling on the part of EA. But for it to be so great up to that point and then fail so dramatically, it's just - baffling. I can't get my head around it.

Date: 2012-03-14 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] humansrsuperior.livejournal.com
it's just - baffling. I can't get my head around it.
Makes me all the more curious about Bioware's claims to wait and see, that they have plans. I'm not getting my hopes up either, but those better be some freaking epic plans. -_- There is no logic to them half-assing the end of the game. None at all.

Date: 2012-03-14 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] humansrsuperior.livejournal.com
Not a single person on the Normandy acknowledged in any way that Thane had died.
YES. I am disappoint, Bioware, severely.

That may be why no one had anything to say about Thane's death, in fact... after all, they barely interacted with him when he was on the Normandy before
To me, that's no excuse. That may be the case, but they would've certainly known that he and Shepard were an item. SOMEONE should've stepped up to at least ask "How're you holding up?" Be it Garrus or Liara as your two BFFs, or Kaidan as your previous LI who had explicitly asked you about "some assassin" in that hospital conversation, who had met Thane. It just... wouldn't have been that hard, to throw in a line or two. If they could have an ENTIRE CONVERSATION about it with Liara in the Shadow Broker DLC, they could've put it in the freaking game. -_-

but he went out like a badass and remained made of class right to the end. I don't doubt that if Thane had been in his prime, Kai Leng would not have stood a chance. As it was, I wanted Kai Leng's head on a plate. Just like with Mordin, it hurt to see him go, but it fit. Even having a Shepard who romanced him in ME2, I'm satisfied.
Also this! That was so LAKDFJS:LDKFJ freaking epic!! That battle between two assassins. I agree, if Thane had been at his prime, he would've won. In a way, he still kind of did, he prevented Kai Leng from completing his mission. It would've been a discredit to his character to wither away on a hospital bed; he would've wanted to go out on his feet, with a bang (and I wanted that for him, too). And he so did. Probably one of my favorite parts of the game.

* "This is for Thane, you son of a bitch." I will never, ever not take that Renegade interrupt.
I CHEERED. I WAS SO HAPPY. I'M NOT EVEN KIDDING. The ONLY reason I even did Renegade was for Thane; like you said yourself, I wanted Kai Leng's head on a platter for essentially killing Thane. And the venom in the voice acting deliverance for that line was perfect. Gah. All the love. (I romanced Thane too so I was SO HAPPY lol!)

Okay so I only commented on the Thane stuff xD but I pretty much agree with all your pros and cons, yes. ♥ (I DID do a runthrough in ME2 romancing Garrus, though I didn't complete it. I would so do it again in ME3. But I agree with you: the writing for him was ACE. All the love on that, pure gold. Bioware did him epic justice [well, until they freaking stranded him on a random jungle planet. Thanks guys.].)

Date: 2012-03-14 05:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
To me, that's no excuse. That may be the case, but they would've certainly known that he and Shepard were an item. SOMEONE should've stepped up to at least ask "How're you holding up?"

Oh, I definitely don't consider it an excuse at all. Just... maybe a contributing factor. Someone should still have said something, though. If nothing else, Thane promised to look out for Kaidan in the hospital, you'd think they might have had a conversation at some point or something.

(Shameless edit for appropriate icon.)
Edited Date: 2012-03-14 05:47 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-14 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] humansrsuperior.livejournal.com
(Shameless edit for appropriate icon.)
LOL I approve! *claps*

But yes, Thane himself plainly stated he'd spoken to Kaidan (re: the whole "he'd been hoping to be visited by a woman. Is there something I should know?") and Kaidan obviously knew about Thane. And Garrus and Liara were both more chummy with you than anyone else. IDK, that whole thing just felt SO overlooked. I had all these hopes and dreams for love triangle conversations... Bioware dashed them all. D: (Definitely been reading too much fanfic, lol!)

And even when Thane collapses bleeding I wished there'd been, I don't know, something. I get that Shepard is soldier first and everything else second, but a "I'll come back for you" or a brush of her hand on his face or something before she took off would've been nice. -_- Rather than just "How bad is it?"
Edited Date: 2012-03-14 05:56 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-14 06:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Ahh, see, I didn't do love triangle stuff because I'm chicken. (the Shepard I mentioned is an alternate Shepard who saved Ash and romanced Thane and I may import that save, but the Shepard I imported for my initial run didn't romance anyone in ME2.)

So I was mostly okay with how the actual thing played out... it was just the resounding lack of care from my crew afterwards that hurt and made me have my Shepard go hide in Life Support for a while.
Edited Date: 2012-03-14 06:10 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-14 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] humansrsuperior.livejournal.com
have my Shepard go hide in Life Support for a while.
LOL OMG I'm so glad I'm not the only one who did that!! The fact that the windows were all blacked out also gave me such a resounding sense of loss... :(

Haha no, I didn't think or expect them to go too full blown with the love triangle thing, but it hardly got anything at all, aside from the hospital lines we mentioned. I just felt like it deserved a little more. :P Even in ME2 Joker asked about Horizon and your LI and how that went down, so that got mentioned, and was discussed. But with Thane? Nada. :( (Just his name on the memorial, which, *SOBS*)

But oh well, I'm not going to dwell on it. I wasn't even sure if Thane would still be breathing when I put the ME3 disc in, so what we got was better than nothing at all, I suppose. It's just in the aftermath of having ME2 be SO Character focused, ME3 is a bit of whiplash.
Edited Date: 2012-03-14 06:14 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-14 06:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pagerunner-j.livejournal.com
Oh my GOD, I did exactly the same thing.

(fine, I give up, have the fic I just mentioned (http://masseffect.livejournal.com/1336056.html). Three guesses what room it's set in.)

Date: 2012-03-14 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Oho, I'd read that fic, and it's very sweet. Aww, Garrus.

And, yeah, I ended up having my Shepard hide in Life Support a couple of times after that when things got really depressing and I needed a minute to cope. Like after Thessia.

Date: 2012-03-14 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pagerunner-j.livejournal.com
It's a good room to brood in.

Date: 2012-03-14 06:04 am (UTC)
ext_413211: (Default)
From: [identity profile] zomgitsalaura.livejournal.com
the renegade option to avenge thane was SO DAMN SATISFYING
now let me do that to a reaper with a giant gun and i would have been happy *PEWPEW*

Date: 2012-03-14 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pagerunner-j.livejournal.com
Yeah, I went and wrote a fic about my Shep and Garrus talking through the whole situation with Thane, since it kinda broke my heart that no one brought it up. Ah, headcanon catharsis.

You're bang on the money with all this, I think.

Date: 2012-03-14 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erunamiryene.livejournal.com
had the Crucible turned out to be a galaxy-wide Reaper killswitch that ended the war with no further damage, it would have constituted a perfectly happy ending

I'm concerned about people who think that, especially since they went to lengths to SHOW you the effects of war (the PTSD asari comes INSTANTLY to mind). There isn't a REALLY happy ending. Wars don't have happy endings; that's just how life IS.

Grunt's scene, the first time I saw it, had me a Total Bawling Mess. I think I cried harder there than I did for Mordin, and I was crying pretty hard for Mordin.

Shep's renegade interrupt of the reaper on Rannoch was fucking awesome. "Tell your friends we're coming for them." *paints the target one more time, reaper gets bombarded, dies* "Never mind, I'll tell them myself." XDDDD

I agree with all of this; I just wanted to mention a couple of things. :) Now to go check out the Blue Skittles Option at the end of the game. XD

Date: 2012-03-14 06:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Yeah, the PTSD asari is a perfect argument against the idea that a perfect happy ending is in any way even possible. Case in point, as it were.

All I want is the satisfaction of knowing that, in the end, the main cast got what they were fighting for: peace, rest, and the salvation of the galaxy as they knew it. I guess maybe the first two could happen in the wake of the endings we were given - again, we have to extrapolate for ourselves - but the third is kind of sunk by the sheer scale of whatever change Shepard makes, as far as I can tell.

Date: 2012-03-14 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roguexninja.livejournal.com
Tell your friends we're coming for them." *paints the target one more time, reaper gets bombarded, dies* "Never mind, I'll tell them myself."

OMG thats what she says?! My Paragon is totally making that my 3rd Renegade interupt for the game.

Date: 2012-03-14 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erunamiryene.livejournal.com
It is SO AWESOME. I didn't get it on my Ridiculously Paragon playthrough, so when I saw it I was like RENEGADE INTERRUPT THE DYING REAPER FUCK YEAAAAAAAH, and then that's what she said and I totally cheered.

It's my second favorite renegade interrupt of the game (first being THAT WAS FOR THANE, YOU SON OF A BITCH because Jennifer Hale's delivery on that was perfection).

Date: 2012-03-14 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roguexninja.livejournal.com
That is awesome! I'm totally doing that my second playthrough.

I smashed the renegade interrupt with EVEYTHING I had. It was so epic and fitting even for my paragon. I wasn't even a big Thane fan but I HAD to kill that bastard!

Date: 2012-03-14 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alhazred.livejournal.com
In case you're curious: the "ending DLC" for Fallout 3 actually did more than just change the ending. It really didn't even change the ending at all, even if you picked the option to sacrifice yourself you would magically survive complete with other characters saying how they don't know how you're still alive (it also fixed some nonsense where you could ask certain companions to perform the task that would kill you, who have a natural immunity to the problem, and in the vanilla game they would just say some crap about how they can't interfere in your destiny.) Rather, it added on several more hours of main-quest gameplay, new content with new explorable areas to go along with it, and even new sidequests in parts of the world already explorable in the vanilla game (there weren't much of these, though.)

Date: 2012-03-14 06:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
That is interesting to know, thanks!

Date: 2012-03-14 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fay.livejournal.com
Not a single person on the Normandy acknowledged in any way that Thane had died.

It's OK, because Kai Leng does~!, as does whatever's happening in Shep's dreams, but no one on the Normandy does. It's bad enough that he does not join Shep's squad despite wanting to not die in a hospital but fighting, but the lack of recognition was rather painful. My Thane-mancing Shep was longing for BFF!Kasumi about right then and wondering how much she'd have to pay Liara to get her to find Jacob so she could recruit him and have Kasumi join her, when....

It didn't affect me personally, but it sucks for anyone whose FemShep romanced Jacob that, after seeming serious about her by the end of his romance in ME2, in ME3 he's given up on Shepard completely during her house arrest and has started a relationship with another woman, with no justification beyond "the Normandy is your true love."

THIS. At first I hope that this was only should Shep and Jacob not have been in a relationship, but when I learnt that it wasn't, I was so very incensed. At least he's happy -- the only squadmate who is.

I would also have liked some ingame mention of Emily Wong's offscreen death, because it was something that, even in spite of being done purely via Twitter, managed to have a lot of emotional impact. And besides that, dammit, I liked her.

Yes! The only decent in-game Han aside from Shep should you headcanon them Han! The only consistently good journalist! I was distraught that she was gone. She could be stationed on the Normandy any day. ;_;

* "This is for Thane, you son of a bitch." I will never, ever not take that Renegade interrupt.

It's the same if you don't take the interrupt -- Shep just doesn't punch through the sword. I did dislike that Shep, EDI, and the other squadmate all had their backs turned away from the pile of dead bodies and the door(s) to the room (http://i.imgur.com/hvlRd.png). Wouldn't that be exactly what you'd want people watching, Shep?!

Date: 2012-03-14 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
...oh there it is. WTF, LJ, why did you flag that as suspect?

Date: 2012-03-15 12:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fay.livejournal.com
Thinking about it, it could be due to my having linked an off-site image. :)

Date: 2012-03-14 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Also, regarding Shepard's dreams: were you able to make out what Thane's voice said in them? I could hear him talking but my audio simply wasn't good enough for me to understand the words.

Date: 2012-03-15 12:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fay.livejournal.com
I believe that he says, "You are no siha", but I could be mistaken. That would be about where I first started thinking that Shep's dreams were being manipulated because why else would they show them. Now I nearly fully embrace the idea of indoctrination/hallucination. <3

Date: 2012-03-14 08:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fay.livejournal.com
Hm, I cannot edit my comment, so I'll just ramble further:

What is also disturbing about Thane's death -- or Thane being stabbed by Xiaoleng's sword -- is that Shep gives less reaction than they do to VS being attacked on Mars and in hospital afterwards. (Not even a medigel comment, really?) There is also no difference in the death scenes between romanced and non-romanced Shep. srsly? I almost preferred the older version of the coup, with Udina himself working to kill members of the Council (the asari Councillor?) and a much more obviously ill Thane (and Kasumi~! and even Kolyat) working to stop him per request of the hanar embassy (on his side). (I sort of kind of really disliked the editing of the fight between them, even though I had figured that that was how Thane was going to die as soon as I learnt that there was an assassin character working for Cerberus. sob.)

Date: 2012-03-14 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
I am not sure where your other comment went! I got the email notification, but it seems to have wandered away from the page somehow.

It's bad enough that he does not join Shep's squad despite wanting to not die in a hospital but fighting

I was kind of okay with that, especially since his first reason given for turning down the offer boiled down to "I would not be much help to you." It's one thing to want to go down on a last solo assassination, and when he threw in with the suicide mission he was still for the most part not hampered physically by his condition, but it's another thing entirely to risk Shepard or another teammate being hurt or killed because he had a dizzy spell in the middle of a firefight. And emotionally he's just not in the same place he was when Shepard met him on Illium. He's reconciled with Kolyat, he accomplished something significant with the fight against the Collectors, he's made peace with himself. He doesn't feel the need to go out in a last blaze of anything any more. My Shepard would have liked to have him riding along on the Normandy, but she didn't feel like she should press the issue after he turned her down the first time.

I did dislike that Shep, EDI, and the other squadmate all had their backs turned away from the pile of dead bodies and the door(s) to the room. Wouldn't that be exactly what you'd want people watching, Shep?!

Seriously. Very sloppy for all concerned. Especially since it's not like he was exactly quiet about coming up behind her. My headcanon is that she totally heard him coming and was feigning ignorance until he was close enough to stab, but that doesn't excuse the complete failure of either of her squadmates to, you know, watch her back.

There is also no difference in the death scenes between romanced and non-romanced Shep. srsly?

The scenes are slightly different, judging from what I've seen on youtube - Shepard's "see you across the sea," and another comment from Thane that I forget the context of - but the differences are small enough that I can understand the complaint. (What, no last kiss? Really?)
Edited Date: 2012-03-14 02:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-15 12:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fay.livejournal.com
I was kind of okay with that, especially since his first reason given for turning down the offer boiled down to "I would not be much help to you."

The writers did have to say something so that he wouldn't be there. Regardless, the medical advice in his SB dossier is that he should remain active. At least they do somewhat make a point to show that through mention of PT. Ah well. I just headcanon messaging back and forth, and that he's caring for her plants. ;D

The scenes are slightly different, judging from what I've seen on youtube - Shepard's "see you across the sea," and another comment from Thane that I forget the context of - but the differences are small enough that I can understand the complaint. (What, no last kiss? Really?)

Lack of a kiss didn't bother me (though it would have been nice -- have you seen the romanced!Miranda death?), but it was more the death scenes in the older leaked scripts that I compare them to. Romanced!Shep joked with him (and/or he with her) would get the recollection of his breakdown and her support pre-O4. Non-romanced!Shep finished his prayer for him, as s/he "had to say something if [he] didn't come back from Omega-4" and had found one on the extranet.

Date: 2012-03-14 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nel-ani.livejournal.com
Not a single person on the Normandy acknowledged in any way that Thane had died.

THIS. I kept running around, looking for someone to talk to, and NO ONE SAID ANYTHING. ;_;

Since I didn't romance Jacob, I didn't realize that he hooks up with Brynn no matter what. I did find it strange that Shepard kept asking him "what about you and me? what's going on with you and Brynn??", since, you know, I had no romantic interest in him.

The sense of urgency throughout the game is remarkable.

Yes! I mostly found it hard during missions, where I knew I had to look around to find mods and quest stuff, but where people were "we're getting slaughtered here! please hurry!" over the radio. I sprinted a whole damn lot.

* "This is for Thane, you son of a bitch." I will never, ever not take that Renegade interrupt.

Yes, GOD. That was SO SATISFYING.

Now that I've gotten a little distance and am not in shock and in tears and "that's it?!" about the endings, I do think there's more to them. It does feel a bit dodgy, though, that if there is more, it isn't in the finished game you paid for. How did they expect people to react?

Question: what's the difference between Narrative and Casual?

Date: 2012-03-14 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Yes! I mostly found it hard during missions, where I knew I had to look around to find mods and quest stuff, but where people were "we're getting slaughtered here! please hurry!" over the radio. I sprinted a whole damn lot.

Yeah, same here. Lots of sprinting.

Question: what's the difference between Narrative and Casual?

I'm not sure exactly, just that Narrative is presented as the easiest mode, for people who are interested in the story but suck at shooters. Which is me. (I probably could have wrestled my way through Casual, but eh.)

Date: 2012-03-14 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grandmoff.livejournal.com
We have reached consensus.

Date: 2012-03-14 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atrocity.livejournal.com
This. All of this.

I just finished the game last night, was still sorting out my thoughts in some way to respond to this... and you beat me to it. Basically everything I feel in terms of the ending is what you said. I loved the game right up until the last five minutes, where it went onto into something that felt like a half-assed attempt at being Kubrick, and honestly don't even try because no one can be Kubrick. It just felt lazy.

And then learning about all the other potential endings...

It feels like a marketing thing to me, like how a proper ending cannot be guaranteed in the game ITSELF, and you have to wait to buy another DLC. If that's the case, I call bullshit, and I feel for the fans who don't have easy internet connections or money to spare. It's not fair to penalize portions of your fanbase who already dug up dough, despite the economy as it is, to buy an expensive game.

Otherwise? Such a beautiful game. I can't count the number of times I cried. I was pretty much just consistently bawling through the good-byes to the last leg of the mission. But I think what gutted me was the poet krogan's last poem. I LOST IT. :(

Date: 2012-03-14 04:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Yeah. As pathetically desperate as I am for a fix for the ending, there'll be a little part of me that will hate myself for buying it if by some chance they do put something out. Especially if it's accompanied by "oh hai we planned it this way all along lol" instead of "We're sorry we let you guys down, we hope this helps make it up to you somehow."

But anyway.

CHARR. ;_; I did not see that coming, because who remembers the name of that one asari NPC they talked to for like two minutes on Illium halfway through the previous game? And then "O blue rose of Illium!" and :c :c :c I cried.

WHY ARE KROGAN SO CUTE. A CROSS BETWEEN A KLINGON AND A GIANT SNAPPING TURTLE SHOULD NOT BE CUTE. BUT THEY ARE.
Edited Date: 2012-03-14 04:39 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-14 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atrocity.livejournal.com
Yes. I think, if it does happen, I may pirate it on a matter of principle. It's rankling having to spend money on something the game itself should have ensured me! It was like all those themes I spent exploring throughout the entire game were just thrown out the window the moment Deus Ex Kid shows up. Where was the option to go 'hey, retard, look out the window and watch geth throw away their newfound awareness for organic life, also here are vids of Joker and EDI doing it all night long.'

But if we maintain canon established in Arrival -- and oh god, I loved Arrival and all the moral devastation that wrought my Shepard -- the reapers essentially won because every system containing a relay should be hamburger meat. And the fact that presumably got Deus Ex Machina'd the hell up just proves it was lazy writing.

I love ambiguous endings. I even love appropriately bleak ones. But so long as they provide some sense of closure. And even if a ME4 gets released, I don't think a Mass Effect that lacks its NAMESAKE RELAYS will have the magic of the series. It was all about the politics of exploration. It's like trying to do Star Trek with the characters all stuck on a planet. It's certainly something, but it's not Star Trek.

And the krogan are THE BEST. The krogan female basically shaped up to become one of my top favourite characters in all three games. She's just so sick of all the bullshit. <3

Date: 2012-03-14 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
It's like trying to do Star Trek with the characters all stuck on a planet. It's certainly something, but it's not Star Trek.

This much more clearly states what I was trying to say about the implied changes the endings make to the setting. Except I'd even go a step further and say it's like trying to do Star Trek with the characters all stuck on a planet after the Federation has been nuked.

Ahaha, I loved the lady krogan, though. Especially since my Shepard's given name was Eve. Neither my headcanon nor my headcanon Shepard herself could quite figure out whether Mordin honestly got that far without knowing her given name ("Irrelevant! No one uses it!") or actually did that on purpose to be clever. Either way, it made female-bonding with her extra entertaining. (And, along with Kirrahe's promise that the STG would have my back no matter what, made me feel a lot better about my decision to give the dalatrass the finger and go ahead with curing the genophage. I mean, I don't know if I could have brought myself to backstab Wrex after he'd been such a loyal buddy through all three games to begin with, and I had a lot of faith in Mordin's moral compass, but with ladykrogan there to beat sense into everyone as well, it made me much more confident that I was not setting up another Krogan Rebellion a couple centuries down the line.)

Date: 2012-03-14 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erunamiryene.livejournal.com
Oh good, it wasn't just me crying at Charr's note. I had to set the controller down and take a break ... for a damn drop-off quest.

SO MUCH of the ambient and nearly off-hand things were just amazing.

Date: 2012-03-17 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] funwithrage.livejournal.com
Ew.

And, you know--having spoiled myself via TvTropes like whoa--I could *deal* with "Synthesis" ending. Not thrilled about it, but could deal.

Except apparently I'd have to do everything right *and* import characters from the past two games *and* do multiplayer BS to get it. Which, no. Bioware: I AM ALREADY PLAYING YOUR FUCKING MMORPG. There is a limit to which I am willing to deal with the unwashed 4channing hordes of the Internet; I should not have to do so in order to get a goodish ending.

I'm a game behind, and wondering: buy ME2 and hope that Bioware will have de-fucked the ending by the time I get to ME3? Buy DA2 and hope that DA3 is not in the ME3 pattern? Say "fuck it" and try to find a downloadable copy of Baldur's Gate 2?

Date: 2012-03-17 12:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
My recommendation: play ME2 and ME3, just turn off the game at the end of the last conversation with Anderson, before the last scene kicks in.

I'm not even kidding. The game up to that point is fantastic, and while stopping there leaves a lot of stuff unresolved, the whole somewhat wonky narrative structure of the ending makes that conversation enough of an emotional resolution, leaving the story in a place where it's not as hard for the player to extrapolate how everything will be okay.

Not like the actual last scene, which makes such drastic sweeping changes to the setting that it's nigh impossible to sort out the implications.

Date: 2012-03-17 12:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
Also, tangent: you're playing SWTOR? Which server? I've got approximately a billion characters on Begeron Colony.

Date: 2012-03-17 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] funwithrage.livejournal.com
Ooh! I'm Talinna over on Shien, but can go Bergeron too. Yay!

Date: 2012-03-17 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
I've got Greeneyes (trooper), Mariyu (consular), Maya (knight), Michal (agent), and a couple of smugglers who haven't really taken off for me. I'd be happy to team up sometime when I'm not stuck at work!

Date: 2012-03-18 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] funwithrage.livejournal.com
Yay, awesome! I'll finish up my Tatooine hijinks on Shien; have created Jedi Knight Aerilya on Bergeron, 'cause I want to hang out with the little astromech droid, and will start leveling her up.

Date: 2012-03-19 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joiedecombat.livejournal.com
T7 is adorably gung-ho.

Although not as gung-ho as the Trooper's droid companion.

"But I've been functional for days! Imperial scum across the galaxy should be cursing the Republic ingenuity that created me!"

Date: 2012-03-19 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] funwithrage.livejournal.com
I love 4X. So much.

Date: 2012-03-17 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grandmoff.livejournal.com
You can get Synthesis without Multiplayer, which I know because I did it. Of course, the rest still holds true, in that you have to do everything right, which means full imports, but there it is. The only ending you seem to have to play MP for is the 5 second "Sudden Breath" addition to the Destroy ending. Which is the only ending to get said addition, for whatever reason.

Date: 2012-03-18 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] funwithrage.livejournal.com
This is good to know. Still, full imports seems like a bit much: I get pretty irked when OOG decisions like that affect story options.

But hopefully by the time I play through ME2, Bioware will have seen sense.

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