Patching a Story – The Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut
When I reviewed Mass Effect 3 back in March, the dreadful ending was the smallest of my many qualms that lead to a final score of 3/5. Good news for those who feel the same; the ending has been “fixed” with a free pack of DLC containing a ton of cutscenes with some important changes. Not as many as I’d like, but there’s a new ending at least. That’s not to say there aren’t any problems, though. Also, here there be spoilers.
Aforementioned ending is basically telling the Star Child that you refuse his choices. This is either done in a dialogue wheel or by shooting the Star Child once you regain control of Shepard. Seriously. You can trigger a whole ending just by doing something most gamers would do anyway. The ending consists of a few ships getting Reaped (if your Galactic Readiness is high enough) and then Liara’s beacon warning future civilizations about the Reapers. Thus begins my problems with the Extended Cut. This should be the option where people who busted their asses off to get 100% completion in multiplayer and as much Galactic Readiness as possible can both tell the Reapers to screw off and still beating them. That way, you can silence the people who say choices didn’t matter in the end.
The changes to the actual endings are quite significant; moreso than I expected. Most of the plot holes have been plugged, like why Joker abandoned Shepard and what happened to everyone at the end. It smacks of assuring a small child that everyone was fine at the end of a children’s film. It’s okay, kids! The relays didn’t really blow up! Everyone made it back home! Even the Normandy escaped that planet! Sure, the bleak almost-failure of the original ending hurt, but there wasn’t a more organic way to do this?
Thankfully, I only noticed one major plot hole from the new scenes. If you were questioning how your squadmates end up on the Normandy after Harbinger shot them, you should be happy to hear your question has been answered. An exploding car fell on them so Joker came back to pick them up. My problem is as follows; the fact that the Normandy was able to get to and then escape the beam unscathed directly in front of one of the most powerful Reapers in the entire fleet is nothing short of insane.
I noticed a few smaller changes too, like Cortez screaming upon being forced down, and some very minor extra dialogue that doesn’t really serve any purpose. If you like the Mass Effect voice actors, and you should, then you should find the new dialogue serviceable. Plus, if you want all 3 endings but don’t feel like playing an absurd amount of the multiplayer, then you can get the 3rd ending with a relatively low Galactic Readiness score. That’s better.
But we still have to consider that everyone’s main problem with the endings–the endings themselves–remain intact. The impact of your decision is more prominent in the ending cutscene, but to this day I cannot believe the endings we got were the original endings. It’s been hypothesized recently on the Velocity Gamer Podcast that everything was planned out in a series bible, but at the last second, somebody on the dev team got a new idea. That idea seems even more likely now that BioWare has gone out of their way to justify the ending by putting together almost 2GB worth of cutscenes. I think somebody very powerful from BioWare or EA had an idea, and the rest of the company is scrambling to keep up.
The fan response is more varied than last time. Gavin Dunne (aka Miracle of Sound, the guy who does the music we play on the podcast) was satisfied, posting on his Twitter “Now THAT is how you end Mass Effect”, but it seems like he’s the only fan who thinks the endings totally fit the series. Sophie Prell from the Penny Arcade Report was left feeling disappointed. “It’s time to begrudgingly accept the endings for what they are, and always have been: Imperfect and unsatisfying.” she says. Believe it or not, those quotes were the most positive I could find. Personal friends have analogized the new scenes to putting sprinkles on a rancid ice cream cone after arguing with the clerk for hours. YouTube video upon YouTube video has been posted discussing the new cutscenes. Even people who work for this very network of sites are ranting about it.
Nothing major has been changed. Making the Indoctrination Theory canon would’ve been brilliant and turned BioWare into a legendary studio, but that didn’t happen. Every thematic problem you had with the original ending is still here. Between a mix of less plot holes and being able to shoot the Star Child, I am less enraged. This doesn’t mean I’ll be updating my review score any time soon, since there are issues with that game beyond a few ending plot holes.
This is the last nail in the coffin. Every cutscene completely kills any fan theory, especially the Indoctrination Theory. Prell said, “The new content may be a letdown, but the Extended Cut is out, and I don’t expect there to be more olive branches from BioWare in this area.” I agree with her. It’s finally over. The Mass Effect 3 ending drama is finished in any official capacity.
What that means is mostly up to you.