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An Addendum: On the Mass Effect 3 “Extended Cut”

I think I’ve said enough about Mass Effect 3 in this piece right here.  Go back and read it if you wish.  But I couldn’t let the chance to speak a bit on the just-released “Extended Cut” DLC that Bioware just put out.

ME3 EC

I’m guessing Bioware did not expect the backlash that the ending of Mass Effect 3 got from fans.  Maybe they thought the ending was enough.  Maybe they were following the edicts of their Electronic Arts’ overlords.  Who knows.  What is a matter of fact is that the backlash occurred, Bioware was surprised, and they responded by releasing a longer ending.

So let’s first consider what it is not before we can speak of what it is.  This is not traditional DLC.  You are not getting one extra moment of gameplay.  There will not be an extra boss battle in this.  The game unfurls exactly the way it did before in terms of your actions.  Likewise, it is not a “new” ending.  The choices presented to you before remain with one extra addition:  an opportunity to reject the Star-Child’s choices.  Not that it’s what you want to do since all that does is lead to the destruction of your cycle’s species and the end of your civilization.  But at least you can tell the Alien Geniuses to piss right off.

ME3 EC - LiaraSo what is it? As the title suggests, it is an extension of the endings we got.  You do get the option of having your ground team evacuate aboard the Normandy – leaving you alone to finish the fight.  You get extra in-game cut scenes that reveal the Armada dispersing as the Crucible is set to fire – exonerating the Normandy’s crew from charges of having abandoned you – and the destruction of the mass effect relays is now more of a setback and not the end of galactic civilization.  The Normandy is no longer stranded in some remote planet – the game’s final scene is the ship leaving for new adventures.  Most importantly, you get expanded endings for each one of your choices that show the effects of your actions (more or less).  Whether you destroyed the Reapers and everyone unites to rebuild or you control the Reapers and live on as their overlord and help rebuild or you opted for the synthesis ending and everyone now has green eyes, there is a sense of closure to the story now.

If you want to see the endings, click here to visit IGN and catch all of them.

If nothing else, Bioware should be commended for recognizing the anger of their fanbase and for responding to it so quickly.  As well, they made this DLC 100% free for anyone who wishes to get it.

That said, if you had fundamental, philosophical issues with how the ending played out, this won’t fix them.  If you thought that the Star-Child and his aforementioned makers (the Alien Geniuses) were a cheap deus ex machina and wanted them explained, that doesn’t happen.  If you were hoping for a new way to end the game, one that would recognize your various efforts and actions throughout the whole of the trilogy, nope.  You’re still getting one of three endings, with many of the same still images in them and it’s just a question of what flavor you opted to end the game with – chocolate, vanilla or lime.  Got a problem with it?  As the Prothean says underneath:

mass effect 3 deal with it

And while I can applaud Bioware’s timely response to the backlash, the question that has to be asked is: what has happened to them?  They were one of the great, can-do-no-wrong studios in gaming.  From Knights of the Old Republic to Jade Empire to Mass Effect and Dragon Age, Bioware spent much of the first decade of this century damn near the top of everyone’s list.  Their games won accolades and fans.

They have spent the last two years dealing with issues and backlash to Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3.  The studio that could do no wrong seems to now be unable to get things right.  I hope they get things turned around, whatever the reasons or causes are.  They are one of the best options for quality, intelligent, thoughtful and fun video games out there.  It would suck if they just fell into the morass of mediocrity that claims so many in a desperate attempt to crank out product for cash.

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