Note: This article contains spoilers regarding Mass Effect 3’s ending and is geared towards an audience that understands both Star Control and Mass Effect.
I bought Mass Effect 3 a long time ago and I have played through the ending which ultimately leads to two decisions:
- Destroy all synthetic life, including Geth.
- The Reapers allow themselves to be controlled by Shepard and stop their attacks.
From what I’ve read from MassEffect.Wikia.com, there is a third ending where Shepard does not die, but I only had the above two choices because of my stats. Regardless of the decisions above, the following always happens in my experience:
- Shepard dies in either decision.
- The Illusive Man dies, though the events leading to his death can vary through dialog.
- The mass effect relays are destroyed, making hyperspace travel impossible.
During the endgame, manual saving is disabled and the only way to resume a game is to load autosaves. This forced me to play through a much longer portion of the game in order to see the two results of the two choices in the end. After the game ends, I was brought back to just before I attacked Cerberus, forcing me to play through the entire thing if I wanted to try another path to the ending.
I’ve been aware that Mass Effect has always been planned as a trilogy and I knew that this game would be the last. Anyone keeping track of Mass Effect 3 is well-aware of the mixed reception from its ending. Needless to say, the series is definitely concluded. It is still an epic ending with lots of action.
Here are some things I’d like to mention with regards to this game:
Comparisons to Star Control
I have seen multiple tweets online about people being reminded of Star Control, which is awesome. Like Mass Effect 2, the player only controls the ship when moving between different star systems. However, there is an additional threat. Whenever the player scans a star system, the Reapers will eventually locate the player and Reaper ships will chase the ship. If three of their ships catch the player, it will be game over and the player will be forced to load a previous save or exit. The player also has the option to retreat and come back another time.
Mass Effect continues the trend of requiring the player to forge alliances to defeat an enemy that will annihilate the galaxy of all sentient life. There is a strong mix of rich dialog where the player can choose different responses that can range from being nice, neutral or downright aggressive. In addition, it is not possible to be allies with every race. Not all races get along with one another and there is a lengthy history explaining why this is.
There is no perfect answer to give in the dialogs. It does not seem that there is a “best case scenario”. Whether or not I succeed or fail in convincing anyone through dialog, there can be a negative and/or positive reaction. Just because I failed to convince someone to see something my way, does not mean I failed the entire game. Character dialog is a very important part in Star Control and it is just as important in Mass Effect.
Here is an example of one alliance I tried to create:
Choosing Geth over Quarians
The Quarians created a race of robots to be used as laborers. They eventually gained intelligence and turned on their masters. While it is similar to the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, I assure you that is where the similarities end. At first, I tried to create a truce between the Geth and Quarians to fight the Reapers. In one of the Quarian missions, I had to deactivate a series of transmissions that the Reapers were using to control the Geth to fight on their side. After deactivating the last transmitter, I encountered an old Geth ally I met in Mass Effect 2: An independent Geth infiltrator named Legion. I made the decision to bring him aboard, angering my new Quarian allies.
There was an ongoing space battle between the two races. This is where things started to get complicated. Now I had an ally to represent the Geth. Things started to get more complicated when Legion asked for something to help his race: He wanted to give Reaper upgrades, sentience and independent thought to all the Geth. In other words, they would all have free will just like him and stronger. I accepted his request, angering the Quarians once again.
At this point, I’ve been fighting off several Geth enemies and they are incredibly strong, powerful, advanced and there are many of them. If I can guarantee the Geth on my side, they would make a very powerful ally, even if they are just robots. So we attacked a base full of reapers.
There was even an epic boss battle where I had to battle a tower-sized Reaper. The only weapon I could use was a laser targeting system that would give a target for orbiting ships to fire on. After memorizing the Reaper’s patterns and remembering that it is easier to target a reaper with the laser while standing still, I won in the end; for my last attack, the game changed to slow motion and my eyes were fixated on targeting the Reaper before it can fire and watching it explode was definitely epic.
A cinematic showed the Geth ships in space deactivating, vulnerable to the weakened Quarian ships.
Then came the next decision. Legion and Quarian Admiral Shala’Raan vas Tonbay* were with me and Legion asked if I will allow him to send the upgrade commands to the rest of the Geth. I accepted. Tonbay stated that the Geth must be destroyed and pointed out how many lives they have taken since their creation. The Geth began uploading the upgrades to the geth. Tonbay reiterated her hatred towards the Geth and that we should not allow them to be upgraded. I had the option to shoot Legion to stop the upgrade. I decided to allow him to continue the upgrade.
The Geth ships started to reactivate and with their new upgrades, they resumed their attack on the Quarians and were victorious. Admiral Tonbay took out her pistol and proclaimed her disgust with what I had just done and she shot herself in the head. In addition, Legion dies as a result of the upload. The Geth fleet moved towards the Quarian homeworld and the Quarians became extinct.
Then there is a cinematic showing a deadly, gigantic, red Geth soldier stared at my character, thanking me for the upgrades and promises to help us defeat the Reapers.
While I have one very power ally on my side, it cost me the entire race of Quarians. I could have maintained the truce had I not allowed the upgrades. I could have also killed Legion in the first place, allowing the Quarians to wipe out the Geth while they are deactivated, saving their race. However, there is no perfect answer and no matter what I choose there is always something positive and something negative.
And speaking of Legion, did you know that Legion is voiced DC Douglas, who also provided the voice for Albert Wesker in Resident Evil? The following video is an easter egg in response to the announcement that Albert Wesker will not be in Resident Evil 6, though DC himself will remain active in the voice acting business:
Of all the the announcements about Mass Effect 3, one of them that stood out to me was one regarding the game’s difficulty. It was stated that this one would be significantly more difficult than the previous two games. That is definitely true. With the different enemy types, there are different tactics. For example, the Geth can turn invisible and Cerberus troops use smoke grenades to make sniping and targeting impossible unless the player is using a heat-vision scope. Also, the player will frequently encounter enemies with armor, riot shields and regenerating shields. There are even larger enemies that can kill the player in a single strike. I also found myself dodging grenades more frequently.
I found myself investing in medi-gel upgrades and stocking up. I also saved up for armor and weapon upgrades. Taking cover before attacking became an instinct to me and I started to rely on powers just as much as weapons. I admit it, I may have gotten frustrated at some points and I temporarily switched to casual difficulty so that I can move through the game’s plot at a reasonable rate.
I’m glad that more people are mentioning Star Control and Mass Effect in the same sentence. Even though TFB is currently working on Skylanders Giants, it’s good to see that even a critically acclaimed game such as Mass Effect will remind enough people about Star Control.
With the success of Tim Schaefer’s Kickstarter fund for Double Fine’s independent adventure game, many people have wondered if TFB can do the same for an independently developed Star Control game. I would love to donate my money for such a project. However, at the same time, I must remain aware of “video game politics” and remember it’s really up to TFB themselves and whether or not their agreement with Activision allows them to do such a thing. I would love to write more about this when I get more time.
Mass Effect 3 is a good game and it is clear that this is the definitive last game in the trilogy, unless Bioware decides to create a new Mass Effect without the original Shepard character. However, it is difficult to continue from a save game where the mass effect relays have been destroyed. After I brought the Geth to my side, I did not see them very much in the end; I wish there was more epic scenes with the powerful Geth solders. I highly recommend this game to any Star Control fans. Playing the previous two games is not required, but is recommended.
Some people have interpreted the ending as “Buy the DLC to see more”. While I haven’t played the DLC yet, I do not necessarily hate the ending. It may be possible to have Mass Effect spinoffs or prequels, but that’s entirely up to Bioware. I wish I could have seen more in the ending. For example, in Mass Effect 2, depending on the ship upgrades I purchased before the final mission, the ship may or may not be destroyed. In Mass Effect 3, I was able to recruit a group of violent mercenaries to join me. There was even a criminal I released from prison and she even repeatedly stated that she loves to kill people. All I got was some dialog from other characters shocked that I would support these types of people. Other than the occasional dialog, I never saw these people again, not even in the ending. Other than that, showing more results of even my minor decision would have been nice.
When I get more time, I’d love to play the DLC. I heard that at least one of the downloadable missions will be free and I will definitely be looking forward to that one.
What do you think about Mass Effect 3 and the ending? Love it? Hate it?
* Tali died in my save game of Mass Effect 2. Had she been lived, she would have taken Tonbay’s place. However, she would have jumped off a cliff to her death as a reaction to my support to the Geth upgrades.