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Reviews Comments: An Unexpected Existentialist Triumph! Mass Effect 3 game review by Lavanya Six

Shepard's lack of freedom in the final minutes of ME3 reflects the larger helplessness of the Reaper War. For galactic civilization it is, as Shepard declares in the opening sequence, simply a choice between fighting and dying. There's no conventional means to defeat the Reapers. So really it's a question of what you do in the time left to you, holding out hope that something — in this case, the gamble on the Crucible — will save us all. So that fighting Shepard talked about? The only alternative to just dying? It's about choosing the manner of your death. Basically, die now or die later. The rest is details.

That's why the ending is brilliant and *totally* meshes with the game's tone. Bring peace to the Quarians and Geth? Cure the genophage? None of it matters in the long-run, no more than all the wars and species that Javik mentions did. Shepard's actions are ultimately as pointless as the common NPC mook shooting at husks. The Reapers don't care if you're a paragon of virtue. The cycle doesn't care if you're a total bastard. The galaxy will keep spinning long after you're dead and dust, regardless if you were straight, gay, or celibate. Who Shepard was doesn't matter. What sort of Shepard you played doesn't matter. YOU don't matter.

The desperate hope of the Protheans on Eden Prime didn't turn out as planned; just as the Crucible didn't in-game, just as Commander Shepard didn't to the player. Javik got to end the Reaper threat, if not in the way he imagined, but accepted his circumstances and tried to make the best of things in a future where no one really knew his people, and had in fact wildly misinterpreted the Protheans as a sage and peaceful elder race that benevolently enkindled younger species.

Saint or devil or anything in-between, at best people will remember your Shepard as a legend, The Shepard, rather than as a flesh-and-blood person.

Are you a mass murdering, alien hating, backstabbing human supremacist?

One day, old men will regale small children with legends of you.

Are you a benevolent multiculturalist peacemaker?

One day, old men will regale small children with legends of you.

This is a powerful game and message. So to all the Commander Shepards out there, I wish you... congratulations! For finishing the fight, however you chose to write the details.



  • Hasfet
  • 1st Jun 12
Umm... didn't this have tons of comments? What happened?
  • Wackd
  • 1st Jun 12
It got flagged and reposted.
  • mcdoomburger
  • 12th Aug 12
I... I can't actually tell if this is in sarcasm mode or not. I suppose I could say that this is more in support of a Nhilistic triumph than an Existential one, but other than that I don't know.
  • MachineMan1992
  • 11th Feb 13
Does nobody see the [/bullshit] sticker at the bottom?
  • JamesPicard
  • 28th Apr 14
I think this is approaching what the writers were going for here, but here's the thing: I don't WANT to be told at the end of an RPG game that my choices didn't matter. RPG games are all about choice, and that is exactly what we were told we would get. They lied their butts off, and ruined the very point of what was one of the best trilogies ever (Yes, trilogies in general, not just video games or sci-fi) with some sort of ridiculous nihilstic crap. In the end, nothing we did mattered, and this was the wrong game to put that kind of ending in.
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 28th Apr 14
@James Picard I think their intention was close but not quite the same. I feel like the idea was that throughout the series we kept hearing about how civilisations were wiped out every 50,000 years. Everyone was trapped in a never ending cycle, never having a chance to flourish. Whatever you were, whatever you hoped for and dreamed for didn't matter because the Reapers were in your future and after them there was going to be no future. Even the name 'Reaper' is associated with the repeating cycle of farming. Through Mass Effect 1 and 2 they talk about how civilisations are being 'grown' along predetermined paths and never allowed to finally express themselves and go their own way.

So the end of Mass Effect 3 was meant to be about one last final push, that took everything everyone had and nearly and almost totally wiped them out. And the effort required was so massive that it brought everything back to square one. But there was a difference this time. The Reapers were dead. Everything had been shaken up, but there was a new dawn* and for the first time in a million years they had a new future. Although they didn't know what that future was going to look like, it was theirs and it would be worth it.

I suspect anything related to choices wasn't deliberate at all. There were choices in the game because Bioware always put choices in their games, they don't think about why. All the framing was about making choices for how you were going to defeat the Reapers not about what the world was going to be like afterwards. That was the idea behind the paragon/renegade system, both Shepards were heading to the same place but they had different ideas on how to get there. The Geth and Genophage stuff just came out of standard Bioware default level design. You always put one big choices at the end of every hub level right?

The story makes thematic sense when taken purely in it's own context. It feels more believable to me that Bioware weren't really thinking/talking to each other than that they were trying to make a statement about the futility of choice. Bioware have never really tried to do anything boundary pushing or challenging before. The closest they've ever come is Dragon Age and when you think about how they sat down to basically write The Witcher and ended up with Dragon Age you can see how hard they find being 'edgy'
  • Mr.Movie
  • 29th Apr 14
Is this satire?
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 29th Apr 14
The actual review is

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