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Cosmicism rears its ugly head in the 12th hour
Fantastic game, very shiny, nice characters, awesome plot arc tie-ups, all that. It really was good, and I loved it. I know that's not what you're here to read.

Look, I hated the ending. I know a lot of people think that means I didn't understand it. Don't worry, I got it perfectly well. Mass Effect is good at bashing important plot details over the head in obvious ways, and the ending wasn't suddenly this massive subtle message that only the intellectual elite can get (well, unless Indoctrination Theory is true...fingers crossed?)

Commander Shepard is a speck among the cosmos. Individual efforts are futile. We're all doomed. This fight was hopeless from the beginning, and you knew that, so here's God Child to smack you over the head with it one more time. At the end of the day, Existentialism and Cosmicism reign supreme. Yes. I got the ending. I understand. I'm not stupid.

I also have a fairly decent memory. See, I seem to remember the end of the first Mass Effect. Sovereign says "organic life is just a fluke" and "I'm the vanguard of your destruction" and all that pleasant stuff. It's a hopeless fight, and we're going to lose. Then, of course, against all odds, Shepards goes and wins. Yes, that's right, you WIN.

Then I remember the second game. The Collectors are snatching up colonists. Shepard actually dies. Everything is hopeless, this mission through the Omega 4 relay is a suicide mission. Harbinger says similar things to Sovereign about organic life being puny and useless. We're doomed to failure. Then, funny story, Shepard wins. Again. WINS.

After a countless series of obvious victories, consistent reinforcement that the Reapers and their genocidal cosmicist reign of terror can be defeated, that everyone in the galaxy can hold hands and be friends, we get a punch in the balls saying that actually it wasn't possible to win, ever. It's not subtle.

It's also not "bittersweet." See, "bittersweet" involves some "sweet" and not just "bitter." I was unaware that stories can only end in two ways: "rainbows and unicorns" or "horrifying existentialist implied genocide." I'm tired of hearing that the only reason people hated the ending was because there were no "rainbows and unicorns." It's a false dichotomy.

Most people understand the ending, and most people just think it sucks.
Not quite right.

The ongoing theme is about the interplay of inevitable events versus freedom, about the impact you can have and about why it matters.

You can do all that awesome heroic stuff but you still die at the beginning of the second game, Udina ultimately ends up counselor even if you back Anderson, Earth is assaulted at the beginning of the third game whether you destroyed the collector base or kept it, whether you saved the Council or not. There are massive human casualties right out of the gate and the Turians lose about 80 percent of their population pretty early on. If you think the ending sucks for that, you have to think the entire game sucks because its in there throughout. Some things you can't help but you still do what you can because the impact you have matters in the here and now.

And you do get a choice in spite of it all. And though the ending cutscene looks pretty much the same whichever option you choose (save for Synthesis where you can see the synthetic traces in everything) the consequences are indeed radically different. You have a choice that can either blast all life back into the stone age or cause it to evolve to a new level.

And yes there is sweet to go to with the bitter. The choices were fail to unite the galaxy and watch as all advanced civilizations are wiped out again or save some portion of those civilizations. This isn't the first time you have to accept heavy losses either. The Batarian colony? Either the quarians or the geth. You impose continued sterility on the krogans or risk them overrunning everything once again (Wrex and Eve are reasonable but the krogan are violent by nature and have plenty of reason to seek revenge, so Wrex could easily lose the control he has.)

I call survival pretty sweet when compared to extinction.

So no, you missed the mark just a bit.
comment #14869 gibberingtroper 15th Jun 12
"we get a punch in the balls saying that actually it wasn't possible to win, ever."

The problem with saying this is the mere fact that you do win. You stop the Reapers from continuing their cycles of destruction, and as the final scene with the stargazer shows, life has continued on after the activation of the Crucible.

So no, I don't think you understand the ending.
comment #14872 lilyxlightning 15th Jun 12
The problem with that, Lily, is that you don't "win" so much as the Catalyst hands you his solutions.

Mordin himself says it: "Big picture made up of little pictures ... Hard to care about two armies fighting. One wins, one loses. Can't anthropomorphize galaxy."

That is the problem with the ending in a nutshell.
comment #14917 KingZeal 18th Jun 12
Adding to that, the Stargazer scene still means nothing, because you get it even with the WORST POSSIBLE ending. So, even if you did absolutely nothing right, you get that ending.
comment #14919 KingZeal 18th Jun 12
The interplay of inevitable events vs. freedom is a theme, but to count it as the main theme of the series is metagaming. Because it's a game with a limited scope there are certain inevitabilities. I'm a critic of Udina becoming councilor because it ignores player choice and feels like lazy programming, breaking immersion in the game. The same is true of the decision regarding the Collector base. +/- 50 War Assets is an insulting reward for that decision.

And of course the problem with the ending cutscenes is that implication and speculation are too heavy to determine just what the heck happened afterwards. Supposedly Synthesis is some grand new evolution, but the relays are just as destroyed and there's absolutely no information as to what exactly Synthesis even does. Do they still need to eat? Do the Geth become capable of reproduction similar to organics? What's the difference? How is this any different from Destroy aside from Joker's glowing green skin? How does a choice other than Synthesis send everyone back to the Stone Age? How does Synthesis NOT send everyone back to the Stone Age? There's no way to tell without creating a headcanon. I respect anyone who can satisfactorily do this, but it's not good enough for me.

And then, of course, there's the bitter"sweet" ending.

For one thing, I didn't play Arrival. That's somewhat important to my initial reaction here. I hadn't even considered the possibility of the exploding relays releasing enough energy to destroy an entire solar system (there's no real confirmation that they didn't). Even if they didn't cause this level of destruction, there's still the problem of all the various races being stranded where they are. Lots of colonies are going to have issues getting supplies, the victory fleet (or what's left of it) at Earth is probably not stocked to feed all of those people, and Earth is an utter ruin. Long story short, lots of people are going to die. 300,000 Batarians is a tiny fraction of this level of casualties.

The utter ruin of the galaxy, regardless of ending choice, is so bleak that only a statement like "survival [is] pretty sweet when compared to extinction" can give the scenario any kind of positive feeling at all.

Just as an aside, the Turians lost nowhere near 80% of their population. The casualties were 3-5 million per day as stated in the Palaven mission. Extrapolate that to 6-9 months (roughly the span of the game, which is referred to in-game as "months" and not "years"), you have 900 million - 1.4 billion losses. That's very heavy, but it's no more than about 15% if even that much.

And I'll argue that you do not indeed win. Just looking at Synthesis, the supposed "best" choice, we get these two lines:

Shepard: And there will be peace? Catalyst: The cycle will end.

That's great, but that doesn't answer the question. Each cycle ends when the Reapers achieve their victory. There's no guarantee there will be peace, or that the Reapers won't harvest anymore. We don't even know if we can trust the Catalyst at all in the first place, so there's basically no telling what the result of anything will actually be. Given the fact that you can turn the Earth into a burnt-out cinder block and still see the Stargazer scene, that's pretty much no indication of anything at all.

So I suppose if you consider...

A) taking the leader of the Reapers at his word and trusting in his solutions (that have, for example, caused the death of countless trillions of lives over the many cycles prior to this one) B)to a problem that there is not only zero evidence for in game but also C) an incredibly strong counterpoint to in the Quarian/Geth conflict that, regardless of the outcome, defies the Catalyst's claim

...to be a victory, then we have a grossly different idea of what victory is.

In essence, you're correct. I don't understand the ending. There's no way to understand the ending at all. It's a nonsensical mess of plot holes, jarring and immersion breaking storytelling, and horrid Deus Ex Machina nonsense.

comment #14920 JobanGrayskull 18th Jun 12
"The problem with that, Lily, is that you don't 'win' so much as the Catalyst hands you his solutions."

The Catalyst outright tells you that its preference would be Synthesis. It disapproves of the Destroy choice. It is neutral on Control.

The Catalyst doesn't tell you what it wants you to do. It tells you what you can do and allows you to make your choice, whether or not it supports it. If you desire so, you can Destroy the Reapers like the goal was for the entire game. There is no reason to believe that you're meant to agree with the Catalyst.

"+/- 50 War Assets is an insulting reward for that decision."

It's actually far more than that. Choosing to destroy the Collector Base lowers the EMS requirements for the Destroy endings. Choosing to keep the Collector Base lowers the EMS requirements for the Control endings.

Research, research...
comment #14923 lilyxlightning 18th Jun 12
What? The Catalyst doesn't say a word in approval or disapproval in any of the choices. It simply lays out these options for you and tells you how it's going to be.
comment #14929 KingZeal 18th Jun 12
And even if it did, that doesn't matter. What you're saying is like if I told someone "well, I'd prefer if you DIDN'T choose this option that you didn't know about before I told you, but that's on you" that somehow it's not a choice that I'd given you. That's like handing someone a gun and telling them you'd prefer if they didn't use it to shoot anyone and then claim that by shooting someone, you're following your own choice. Except you wouldn't have HAD that choice if they hadn't given it to you.
comment #14931 KingZeal 18th Jun 12
"t's actually far more than that. Choosing to destroy the Collector Base lowers the EMS requirements for the Destroy endings. Choosing to keep the Collector Base lowers the EMS requirements for the Control endings."

Fair point. But of course, since the EMS was a poor representation of the effort put into the Mass Effect series (congrats, here's your big number for playing three games), and since multiplayer (you know, that "optional" portion of the game) easily makes up any difference in EMS for both choices, and since I consider both of the choices to be garbage regardless, it's still an insulting reward.

Well, let me put it this way: I was a completionist in both my Paragon and Renegade playtrhoughs (where I destroyed and saved the Collector base respectively). I did every possible sidequest and upgraded every piece of technology. The only difference to me, after doing all that work, was a visible +/- 50 War Assets. That's just ridiculous.
comment #14954 JobanGrayskull 19th Jun 12
Taking these as I can. "I'm a critic of Udina becoming Councilor because it feels like lazy programming."

I'll agree that, given the role Udina plays in events, it would be interesting to see what happened if it had been Andersen in Udina's place. Arguably, we might have been worse off as Andersen is a key figure in the earth resistance and Udina's betrayal galvanized certain factions into becoming more involved. On the other hand, Udina was funneling resources to Cerberus so who knows how it would have balanced out.

But they probably had to economize somewhere and this makes sense. Andersen is established in ME 2 as being wearied by the role and expressing sentiments of missing his soldier life. It makes some sense that Andersen would retire and his assistant Udina would be the natural successor. Though they could have thrown this in at the beginning of the game, or possibly had an off hand mention of Andersen deciding to return to earth before the invasion because he believes Shepard's report and believes he'll be more help there.
comment #14958 gibberingtroper 19th Jun 12
And of course the problem with the ending cutscenes is that implication and speculation are too heavy to determine just what the heck happened afterwards. Supposedly Synthesis is some grand new evolution, but the relays are just as destroyed and there's absolutely no information as to what exactly Synthesis even does. Do they still need to eat? Do the Geth become capable of reproduction similar to organics? What's the difference? How is this any different from Destroy aside from Joker's glowing green skin? How does a choice other than Synthesis send everyone back to the Stone Age? How does Synthesis NOT send everyone back to the Stone Age? There's no way to tell without creating a headcanon. I respect anyone who can satisfactorily do this, but it's not good enough for me.

I don't think answering most of these questions are really that important (though I can understand and do share your curiosity) save for one. The biggest different is that all life, synthetic and organic is now more the same. We understand each other now. Note that this is the only ending that shows EDI and Joker holding each other, symbolic of the new world. The continued existence of EDI means you still have tech. You still have AI's. And the fleet either has the Quarians, who are good at surviving in space and can share that knowledge with the other fleets, or the upgraded Geth who have reaper code and who (as proven in the event that you can get the geth and quarians to resolve their differences peacefully) prove to be remarkably good at building infrastructure rapidly and who would no doubt help the fleet the way they would help the quarians in the peaceful resolution of their arc (Tali will remark over and over again at just how quickly the geth are helping them get established on their home world even helping accelerate the process of rebuilding their immunities). The rest would be speculative but I would think a "synthetic-organic" DNA would open up the possibility of fixing things like quarian immunities, dextro adaptation to earth biochemistry, and Vroliks Syndrome. We may be able to share more directly ala Javik or the asari. I think it would be hard to argue that things wouldn't be better.

comment #14960 gibberingtroper 19th Jun 12
For one thing, I didn't play Arrival. That's somewhat important to my initial reaction here. I hadn't even considered the possibility of the exploding relays releasing enough energy to destroy an entire solar system (there's no real confirmation that they didn't). Even if they didn't cause this level of destruction, there's still the problem of all the various races being stranded where they are. Lots of colonies are going to have issues getting supplies, the victory fleet (or what's left of it) at Earth is probably not stocked to feed all of those people, and Earth is an utter ruin. Long story short, lots of people are going to die. 300,000 Batarians is a tiny fraction of this level of casualties.

The point of the Stargazer scene is that whatever happened, life did move on. That scene is our confirmation that somebody survived and rebuilt.

And as I mentioned before, no matter which ending you get, you have either the quarians who are experts at surviving on scraps or the geth who are good at rebuilding infrastructure. Or both.
comment #14962 gibberingtroper 19th Jun 12
I don't think answering most of these questions are really that important (though I can understand and do share your curiosity) save for one. The biggest different is that all life, synthetic and organic is now more the same. We understand each other now. Note that this is the only ending that shows EDI and Joker holding each other, symbolic of the new world. The continued existence of EDI means you still have tech. You still have AI's. And the fleet either has the Quarians, who are good at surviving in space and can share that knowledge with the other fleets, or the upgraded Geth who have reaper code and who (as proven in the event that you can get the geth and quarians to resolve their differences peacefully) prove to be remarkably good at building infrastructure rapidly and who would no doubt help the fleet the way they would help the quarians in the peaceful resolution of their arc (Tali will remark over and over again at just how quickly the geth are helping them get established on their home world even helping accelerate the process of rebuilding their immunities). The rest would be speculative but I would think a "synthetic-organic" DNA would open up the possibility of fixing things like quarian immunities, dextro adaptation to earth biochemistry, and Vroliks Syndrome. We may be able to share more directly ala Javik or the asari. I think it would be hard to argue that things wouldn't be better.

But we have no idea what that means. You're assuming that synthesis is nothing but a benefit. Is it also a weakness? For example, Shepard could be hacked in Overlord. Can all synthesized beings be hacked? Javik told us that the biggest strength in the galaxy was diversity, and this is a theme that Mordin implies very much in the second game also. Now that everyone's closer to being the same, and having become so by FORCE rather than natural growth and development, does that mean they all share the same weaknesses? For example, without diversity in real life, an entire population can be wiped out by a disease. And speaking of diseases, can machines catch them now? And this is ignoring the issue of babies. Like I mentione before, can anyone manufacture a krogan now? Do geth have to give birth?

To be expected to see the Synthesis scenario as "good", we're going to need more context than greenish skin and a hug.

And as I mentioned before, no matter which ending you get, you have either the quarians who are experts at surviving on scraps or the geth who are good at rebuilding infrastructure. Or both.

I don't know about "good at". The quarians made themselves ostracized by other races and the geth spent centuries rebuilding ONE planet. Neither of those are quite as effective in this scenario.
comment #14963 KingZeal 19th Jun 12
Just as an aside, the Turians lost nowhere near 80% of their population. Yeah that was my mistake. Garrus mentions losing 85 percent of something at some point. A fleet? The moon forces? Who knows.

''And I'll argue that you do not indeed win. Just looking at Synthesis, the supposed "best" choice, we get these two lines: Shepard: And there will be peace? Catalyst: The cycle will end. That's great, but that doesn't answer the question. Each cycle ends when the Reapers achieve their victory. There's no guarantee there will be peace, or that the Reapers won't harvest anymore. We don't even know if we can trust the Catalyst at all in the first place, so there's basically no telling what the result of anything will actually be. Given the fact that you can turn the Earth into a burnt-out cinder block and still see the Stargazer scene, that's pretty much no indication of anything at all.''

The cycle normally ends with all advanced life being wiped out and/or harvested. These endings show that did not happen. The Reapers retreat or collapse. The forces cheer. Your crew emerges on another planet alive and intact (i.e., those who emerge do not look like reapers).

Also, Earth is not a burnt out husk. We know the Reapers only harvest advanced species and leave the less advanced intact. We know this because humanity was around 50,000 years ago and they didn't take us. Everything we know about their M.O. and their tactics suggests that they weren't interested in eradicating all organic life, just organic races. They had enough samples of humanity already. With their technology (as EDI points out) they could resort to much more extreme measures to wipe us out (the Mass Relay explosion at the Batarian colony shows they clearly can achieve far greater levels of destruction than they are.) But they're interested in preserving lesser life forms. There is plenty of reason to believe that their attacks did not render Earth uninhabitable. And the options you have for afterwards either destroy synthetic life, remove the reapers, or synthesize new life. So Earth is not a husk.

I won't argue that you can't trust the Catalyst, but trusting it is perhaps the culmination of Shepard's entire career. He has had to trust the Turians and the Geth, both of whom have been his or humanity's enemy. He has had to get the Turians, Salarians, and the Krogan to trust each other. He has had to ask Ashley or Kaidan to trust him after his time with Cerberus. An entire crew is asked to trust a cerberus built sentient AI with reaper code inhabiting a Cerberus built body. Trust and cooperation have won Shepard many battles at this point.
comment #14964 gibberingtroper 19th Jun 12
But we have no idea what that means. You're assuming that synthesis is nothing but a benefit. There could be benefits and drawbacks compared to the other two endings as there are with those endings. It is the biggest risk and has the biggest potential payoff but it could all go wrong. No argument there.

Javik told us that the biggest strength in the galaxy was diversity, and this is a theme that Mordin implies very much in the second game also. Now that everyone's closer to being the same, and having become so by FORCE rather than natural growth and development, does that mean they all share the same weaknesses?

The ending we see would suggest diversity is maintained. We still see plants, and people of different races. Sure you could argue that for all we know, after this scene, all life begins compiling into a giant monoform like borg cubes or something. But in the absence of more information, what we're shown suggests that it turned out well enough.

''For example, without diversity in real life, an entire population can be wiped out by a disease. And speaking of diseases, can machines catch them now? And this is ignoring the issue of babies. Like I mentione before, can anyone manufacture a krogan now? Do geth have to give birth? To be expected to see the Synthesis scenario as "good", we're going to need more context than greenish skin and a hug. And as I mentioned before, no matter which ending you get, you have either the quarians who are experts at surviving on scraps or the geth who are good at rebuilding infrastructure. Or both. I don't know about "good at". The quarians made themselves ostracized by other races and the geth spent centuries rebuilding ONE planet. Neither of those are quite as effective in this scenario.''

It took the old geth centuries to rebuild a planet. These are upgraded geth with reaper code who can exist as fully sentient individuals without constant need for the geth consensus. If you play the scenario where the geth and the quarians make peace, you'll Tali mention over and over again that the geth are rapidly accelerating the progress of building new homes for the quarians and getting them acclimated.
comment #14965 gibberingtroper 19th Jun 12
You are misinterpreting the term "diversity". Being "diverse" has nothing to do with monoform borg cubes. It has to do with any number of unforeseen differences that can make or break a lifeform. For example, humanity. Humans are not a very diverse species (our population bottlenecked thousands of years ago) which has given us major problems when it comes to diseases and genetic abnormalities. By saying that "everyone's a little more the same" then that invariably means that some form of diversity was taken. Even if it's miniscule and can't be seen by the eye, it means that people were forced in some way or form to be the same to stop fighting. That's like assuming that the only way to stop wars on Earth is to make everyone the same race.

There's also another problem: being the same genetically, by the admission of the series itself, won't do a thing to stop wars. In the first game, Tali says that the reason synthetics are a threat is because they have "no use for organics, none". In other words, the problem with AI is the singularity—at some point, they grow more powerful than the beings that created them. Synthetic beings are beings that are created. It has nothing to do with genetics or DNA. For example, we currently have the ability to create "synthetic life forms" in real life. Everyone being "synthetic" is not possible, unless you've taken away the ability to have children, and once again, if we have, then what did we cure the genophage for? Of course, the fact that the stargazer is standing next to a child implies that children still exist in the future. But let's assume it's the other way: let's assume machines can now, somehow, have natural children. That still solves nothing, because there's nothing stopping anyone from creating an AI, and there is nothing stopping that AI from being superior from what created it. Remember the AI on the Citadel? That was an AI created by an AI that was much smarter than its creator.

And no, you can't argue "well, maybe everybody's perfect now and nobody's ever going to need machines". That's ridiculous. Even the geth needed to create more advanced machines (like Legion). Even the Reapers couldn't do their thing without BUILDING stuff. And in any case, we KNOW that not everyone is equal because Joker still has a limp. He still has a weakness that isn't overcome.

And yeah, it took the old geth centuries to rebuild a planet, but just because they're upgraded doesn't mean they don't still NEED consensus. Being individual doesn't mean the geth, as a species, will make a decision without the others. But wait—even if it did, that means that instead of coming to some sort of mutual agreement before they do something (which takes minutes or seconds) they will now have individuals who can make individual decisions on their own. And thus, uninformed mistakes. You know—just like every other species.
comment #14966 KingZeal 19th Jun 12
"Joker still has a limp."

Joker lived his entire life with Vrolik's Syndrome. Even if Synthesis improved his body to compensate for his disability (which I suspect it would), he wouldn't instantly be able to walk like a "normal" person.

And to argue that Synthesis makes people less diverse is also silly. A turian is still a turian; they simply have synthetic elements. A white human would still be white and a black human would still be black. When I finished my first playthrough, I didn't pick Synthesis because I had decided that the Catalyst was right about everything (for no real reason), that organics and synthetics would always fight each other. I picked Synthesis because it was a peaceful resolution to the conflict and it could have great benefits for both organic and synthetic life. I didn't see it as "oh, they'd kill each other otherwise"; I saw it as "both organic and synthetic life has benefits and drawbacks; if the two were combined, then it would perhaps create a greater life for all".
comment #14974 lilyxlightning 20th Jun 12
Just to muddy the waters that have apparently accepted synthesis at face value I would like to remind you that synthesis makes NO SENSE by the standards that the universe had set up for itself over the course of three games. You can't just shine some green ligths and claim that everyone is suddenly part synthetic without explaining how that's supposed to work. Husks at least have prolonged physical contact with a physical nanotech device, while the synthesis ending has nothing beyond space magic.
comment #14975 McSomeguy 20th Jun 12
Joker lived his entire life with Vrolik's Syndrome. Even if Synthesis improved his body to compensate for his disability (which I suspect it would), he wouldn't instantly be able to walk like a "normal" person.

What does that have to do with the point I was making? You're responding to something completely out of context that doesn't address the actual statement made.

And to argue that Synthesis makes people less diverse is also silly. A turian is still a turian; they simply have synthetic elements. A white human would still be white and a black human would still be black.

That analogy has nothing to do with what we're talking about. We're talking about making synthetic beings and organic beings the same race. Being the "same race" automatically means they are the same by definition. Your analogy would only work if we blended white people and black people DNA into one ethnicity, which means that level of diversity was taken away, because no one can be distinctly white or black anymore.

When I finished my first playthrough, I didn't pick Synthesis because I had decided that the Catalyst was right about everything (for no real reason), that organics and synthetics would always fight each other. I picked Synthesis because it was a peaceful resolution to the conflict and it could have great benefits for both organic and synthetic life.

Yeah, and it could not. Speculation, remember? If we're going to speculate, let's not only be positive because it feels good.

I didn't see it as "oh, they'd kill each other otherwise"; I saw it as "both organic and synthetic life has benefits and drawbacks; if the two were combined, then it would perhaps create a greater life for all".

Based on what, exactly? The Catalyst is perfect now? The Catalyst somehow knows exactly the right solution to its great "problem"? No, it admits that its original solution wouldn't work, and it tells you that combining everyone into synthetic beings will end the necessity for the cycle. Which is still dumb, because as I said, there's nothing stopping people from MAKING some new form of life that will take them out. That's what "synthetic" means. Unless he took away the ability for living beings to create or use tools, there's no way being half-synthetic solves anything.
comment #14978 KingZeal 20th Jun 12
This entire discussion is sort of evidencing my major problems with the ending. You can break it all down and come up with excuses and reasons and explanations for all sorts of things, but the game provides none of these. That's why I found it so dissatisfying. Previously, the series itself answered all of these little nitpicky questions (the Codex was overflowing with minute details about every scrap of technology, culture, history, etc).

The only thing you can do with the ending is headcanon. Let's take this, for example:

"The cycle normally ends with all advanced life being wiped out and/or harvested. These endings show that did not happen."

True, it's implied by Synthesis and Control endings that the Reapers fly away and that there is peace. What's not implied, though, is that the Cycle is BROKEN. There's no guarantee that the Reapers, who are still out there, will not come back for some reason and begin harvesting again. It's purely speculative to say that they won't. Even 10,000 years later, when the Stargazer scene takes place (according to Word of God), is not anywhere near the end of what would be the next Cycle. That's just one example.

The level of information that was provided and the amount of pure conjecture that's required to make sense of the endings (in my opinion, no amount of conjecture can make any sense of this, because a lot of it is just nonsense and "space magic") does a huge disservice to Mass Effect. This is a series that had dozens of planets with in-depth descriptions of temperature, atmospheric content, settlement, and all sorts of other peripheral details, but they can't provide some very basic answers to cap off the main story arc? That's pretty pathetic, if you ask me.
comment #14999 JobanGrayskull 21st Jun 12
"Based on what, exactly? The Catalyst is perfect now? The Catalyst somehow knows exactly the right solution to its great 'problem'?"

I've stated many times that I do not believe that the Catalyst is "right" or that it was ever meant to be seen as "right". But there is one character who has benefited from being an organic with synthetic elements, one character whose body became stronger and their immune system was bolstered by the synthetic elements in their body. That character is Commander Shepard.

I chose Synthesis because it would end the need for the Reapers' cycles of destruction and it could bring about a higher standard of living for all life. (I chose Control on my second playthrough, partly because that's how my Renegon!Shepard rolled and it was a pun on a phrase spoken by the character who I based her appearance on, Lightning from FFXIII.) Besides, if you don't agree with a choice, you're not obligated to choose it.

"What's not implied, though, is that the Cycle is BROKEN."

The Catalyst outright states that it has reconsidered the cycle based on Shepard's actions. In fact, the comment above you even states that the Catalyst decided that its original "solution" wasn't working.

"The level of information that was provided and the amount of pure conjecture that's required to make sense of the endings"

This arguments fails completely based on the fact that your other arguments completely disregard just about everything that happens in the ending. You can't refuse to acknowledge the events that happen in the ending and then say that the ending doesn't give enough information.
comment #15000 lilyxlightning 21st Jun 12
I've stated many times that I do not believe that the Catalyst is "right" or that it was ever meant to be seen as "right". But there is one character who has benefited from being an organic with synthetic elements, one character whose body became stronger and their immune system was bolstered by the synthetic elements in their body. That character is Commander Shepard.

Don't forget that Shepard could also be hacked (as seen in Overlord). There's also the problem of scar tissue that keeps appearing based on Shepard's psychological mood. So once again, it's not a completely good thing.

I chose Synthesis because it would end the need for the Reapers' cycles of destruction and it could bring about a higher standard of living for all life.

It could and it could not. Also, please explain how it would end the need of the Reapers' cycles. Does everything being synthetic mean that no one is ever going to need to build better machines anymore? According to the ending, Joker still has Vrolik's, so we can safely assume that all being will still have their inherent weaknesses. So, what happens when someone builds the next sapient AI that's more powerful than they are? Will everybody magically get along? Why? It's not even like all organics got along with organics and all machines got along with machines. There's nothing to explain why this would suddenly make everybody's lives better other than the Catalyst's word. Oh, but we're not assuming the Catalyst's logic is correct, right? So I guess we have NOTHING to base it on, then.
comment #15001 KingZeal 21st Jun 12
"please explain how it would end the need of the Reapers' cycles."

The Catalyst created the Reapers because it believed that synthetic life would cause the extinction of all organic life. Through Synthesis, there is no longer "organic" and "synthetic" distinctions. Thus, it would be impossible for synthetic life to wipe out organic life because all life would be a mixture of both. Thus, the Reapers' reason for the cycles would be solved, bringing an end as the Catalyst says it would.

"According to the ending, Joker still has Vrolik's"

I've already pointed out that Joker limping in the ending does not mean that he still has Vrolik's Syndrome. He's had the condition for his entire life; the moment it is cured, he wouldn't instantly begin walking normally. Limping would be instinctive, a force of habit.
comment #15003 lilyxlightning 21st Jun 12
The Catalyst created the Reapers because it believed that synthetic life would cause the extinction of all organic life. Through Synthesis, there is no longer "organic" and "synthetic" distinctions. Thus, it would be impossible for synthetic life to wipe out organic life because all life would be a mixture of both. Thus, the Reapers' reason for the cycles would be solved, bringing an end as the Catalyst says it would.

Again, that's not how synthetic life works. You just said a minute ago that you don't believe the Catalyst was right, and yet, here you are using him as the source of your theory? Sorry, it doesn't work both ways. Either the Catalyst is credible or it isn't. And even if it is, the plan is still stupid. "Synthetic" life can still exist. You know the term "Artifical Human"? That's synthetic life. Synthetic has nothing to do with being mechanical or biological—it simply means a lifeform that was born versus one that was created. But let's assume for a second that we accept your definition that it specifically means machines. That still doesn't mean anything because as we say in ME 1, machines can build more advanced machines. Remember the credit-funneling machine on the Citadel? It was built by an AI. And Legion was built as a more advanced geth. So, there's NOTHING stopping bio-synthetic creatures from building more powerful biosynthetic creatures and having THOSE creatures turn against their creators. The cycle is ending because the Catalyst said it is? Why? Nothing in the game supports its words. So, what else do you have to support it?

"According to the ending, Joker still has Vrolik's"

I've already pointed out that Joker limping in the ending does not mean that he still has Vrolik's Syndrome. He's had the condition for his entire life; the moment it is cured, he wouldn't instantly begin walking normally. Limping would be instinctive, a force of habit.

No it wouldn't. If you have brittle bones, it hurts to walk. Joker would damn well know if he was still in pain when he takes a step. Besides that, you're speculating. If we see him limp, he's limping, period.
comment #15005 KingZeal 21st Jun 12
"You know the term 'Artifical Human'? That's synthetic life."

I'm using "organic" and "synthetic" in the way that the Mass Effect universe uses them: organic life is flesh and blood, synthetic life is robotic beings with artificial intelligence. As far as I know, there are no "artificial humans" in the Mass Effect universe.

"You just said a minute ago that you don't believe the Catalyst was right, and yet, here you are using him as the source of your theory?"

I don't agree with what the Catalyst belives: that synthetic life would annihilate all organic life. But the Reapers do. If a solution to the Catalyst's "problem" is achieved—as the Catalyst itself points out—the cycles would have no need to continue.

"Besides that, you're speculating. If we see him limp, he's limping, period."

I never tried to deny that he's limping. He's limping because he's always limped. He wouldn't suddenly start walking "normally" when all of his life he's had to limp to account for his disability.

Think of it this way: all of your life, you've used the standard control scheme for video game thumbsticks, with the left controlling movement and the right controlling the camera. Someone suggests that you change them around, so you decide to do so. Will you immediately use a different control scheme perfectly? No, you would be used to the previous control scheme, leading you to forget that you've switched the thumbstick functionality.

Simply because he would be able to walk normally without pain doesn't mean that Joker would immediately begin doing so.
comment #15006 lilyxlightning 21st Jun 12
I'm using "organic" and "synthetic" in the way that the Mass Effect universe uses them: organic life is flesh and blood, synthetic life is robotic beings with artificial intelligence. As far as I know, there are no "artificial humans" in the Mass Effect universe.

Not the point. You remember the thing about "the created will always rebel against their creators"? That's not limited to synthetics and organics. Synthetics can, and have, rebelled against other synthetics. The heretics, for example. The Reapers didn't brainwash them. They just chose to disagree.

I don't agree with what the Catalyst belives: that synthetic life would annihilate all organic life. But the Reapers do. If a solution to the Catalyst's "problem" is achieved—as the Catalyst itself points out—the cycles would have no need to continue.

Maybe maybe not. The Reapers are never destroyed, though. As was pointed out, we haven't even gotten past 10,000 years in the Stargazer ending, so there's plenty of ways it can still fail.

Just saying—because he said the cycle ended doesn't mean it actually did.

''I never tried to deny that he's limping. He's limping because he's always limped. He wouldn't suddenly start walking "normally" when all of his life he's had to limp to account for his disability.

Think of it this way: all of your life, you've used the standard control scheme for video game thumbsticks, with the left controlling movement and the right controlling the camera. Someone suggests that you change them around, so you decide to do so. Will you immediately use a different control scheme perfectly? No, you would be used to the previous control scheme, leading you to forget that you've switched the thumbstick functionality.

Simply because he would be able to walk normally without pain doesn't mean that Joker would immediately begin doing so.''

Except that's not how Vrolik's Syndrome works. It's painful to walk. You walk that way because it hurts, and it always has hurt. Joker never gives us any indication that there's suddenly no pain, so it's not a stretch to assume he's still afflicted with the disease. Besides, isn't he "synthetic" now? So let's put it this way: the moment the geth get upgraded, they're able to use those upgrades. As is Commander Shepard, when s/he is reborn (and since Shepard is the basis of these upgrades, this is especially important). Shepard immediately knows s/he can do things that s/he could never do before, such as headbutt a krogan or use a krogan/geth gun without breaking an arm. Why doesn't Joker notice anything different, if he's supposedly cured?

comment #15007 KingZeal 21st Jun 12
"the moment the geth get upgraded, they're able to use those upgrades."

A human mind is not the same thing as a computer.

"Shepard immediately knows s/he can do things that s/he could never do before, such as headbutt a krogan or use a krogan/geth gun without breaking an arm."

Except that Shepard doesn't immediately do these things after being brought back to life. Remember that he has, on his ship, a trusted doctor and the Cerberus officer who was in charge of the Lazarus project. It's extremely unlikely that neither of them would have told Shepard about what capabilities their implants would have given them.
comment #15008 lilyxlightning 21st Jun 12
A human mind is not the same thing as a computer.

Except he's not human anymore, remember? So you have no idea how it works, do you?

Except that Shepard doesn't immediately do these things after being brought back to life. Remember that he has, on his ship, a trusted doctor and the Cerberus officer who was in charge of the Lazarus project. It's extremely unlikely that neither of them would have told Shepard about what capabilities their implants would have given them.

Speculation. As far as we see in the story, none of them ever tell him/her "Oh by the way, you're a Terminator now". And really this argument is pointless because you miss the point. This is pain I'm talking about. Humans kinda, you know, can tell if they feel it.

comment #15009 KingZeal 21st Jun 12
"This arguments fails completely based on the fact that your other arguments completely disregard just about everything that happens in the ending. You can't refuse to acknowledge the events that happen in the ending and then say that the ending doesn't give enough information."

But I'm not disregarding anything. The ending shows us a sequence of events, regardless of which choice you make. These events have very spotty details that change only slightly.

The Citadel emits a pulse of energy, we don't know why or how. The Earth and the Reapers are affected based on EMS score, but the correlation is not at all clear aside from metagaming (low number means burnt-out Earth, medium number means devastated but surviving Earth, high number means only the Reapers are affected...but this doesn't really make sense internally in the story or cutscenes).

The Reapers either die or fly away, and the soldiers either cheer or look utterly bewildered (and rightfully so...they have no idea what just happened). This is the most overtly different aspect of the ending scenes, aside from the "Adam & Eve" symbolism of Synthesis.

The Normady is outracing the energy pulse, though we don't know when or why, because the Normandy was just at Earth helping to fight the Reapers. The energy blast catches up with the Normandy, and the screen goes black.

The Normandy is shown crash-landed on some beautiful planet. We don't know where this is supposed to be, but presumably (against all odds) it can support life. Did Joker purposefully crash here?

People start getting out of the ship, some of whom were just on the ground with Shepard and presumed dead in Harbinger's attack. How? Why? In Synthesis, everyone is glowing green and EDI snuggles up to Joker, as a nice little metaphorical nod to creation stories. Maybe they'll even be able to reproduce together now, but who knows?

Then we get the Stargazer scene, suggesting that somewhere, somehow civilization survived. They're vaguely humanoid, but beyond that there's no telling whether it was humans, Turians, Quarians, Asari, or someone else entirely. No indication is given of who actually survived the battle over Earth, or where anyone wound up after that.

The only way to make sense of this is to fill in the (enormous) gaps with headcanon, speculation, and conjecture. There are so many questions raised and so very few answered. Just because things happen onscreen that we can see and hear doesn't mean they contain any level of meaningful or useful information.
comment #15016 JobanGrayskull 22nd Jun 12
"But I'm not disregarding anything."

You disregarded the fact that you do win: you stop the Reapers' cycles of destruction, one way or another. Because of your actions, galatic civilization is saved. It comes at a great cost, but after all, one of the major themes of the third game is "victory through sacrifice".

You disregard the effect of your final choice in ME2 beyond that of the War Assets they provide.

You disregard that your EMS also determines if the team that accompanies you in the final mission is killed by Harbinger or how many people appear to have survived the crash. (The teleporting squadmates problem appears to be a programming oversight: the squadmate(s) that appear are the ones you've used the most, but it doesn't make an exception for the squadmates you've chosen for the final mission. It's a minor plot hole—although it isn't always invoked, if you choose less-used members for the final mission or they're killed based on low EMS—but likely unintentional.)

A great amount of the ending criticism I've seen, not just on this site but many others, is based on not understanding how the ending is influenced by various factors and disregarding major plot events. Many comments I've seen about the ending don't take into consideration what Vendetta tells you and the Control option.

"(low number means burnt-out Earth, medium number means devastated but surviving Earth, high number means only the Reapers are affected...but this doesn't really make sense internally in the story or cutscenes)"

A higher Effective Military Strength score means that you have a greater number of troops that can defend the Crucible, people who can work on the construction and research involved in constructing the Crucible, and resources to construct the Crucible. Thus, the higher your EMS, the more work the Crucible has had done on it and the less likely it is to be damaged during the final battle, both of which would result in the Crucible being in a more completed state when it is activated.
comment #15019 lilyxlightning 22nd Jun 12
"A great amount of the ending criticism I've seen, not just on this site but many others, is based on not understanding how the ending is influenced by various factors and disregarding major plot events. Many comments I've seen about the ending don't take into consideration what Vendetta tells you and the Control option. "

Sorry for repeating myself, but you repeated yourself as well, and these arguments of yours have been adressed -and immediatly debunked- in these posts. The way you viewed Control was revealed to be erroneous, and was born of, ironically, not understanding the ending. As for Vendetta, he does not foreshadow the Shocking Swerve, and if you insist on it, it means you ignore the meaning of foreshadowing.

As for the rest of your arguments, I don't have time to adress them all, but since you misunderstood the ending, it's probable that they are wrong too. 'Tis interesting to note that despite how you constantly complain about people who disliked the ending supposedly did not respect other opinions, you go spam the comment section of every review and accuse them of ignorance when you misunderstood the ending yourself.
comment #15058 Anfauglith 24th Jun 12
Conveniently, in the Extended Cut they fixed a lot of the bleakness and speculation that I hated the first time around. So many of my arguments here are now moot. I commend them for expanding on things to make much more sense and actually show tangible effects.

Whether the ending fits thematically with the rest of the series...well, that's a different beast entirely. I suppose I'll have to settle for the rectification of the depressing nihilism.
comment #15094 JobanGrayskull 27th Jun 12
"Depressing nihilism" can be pulled off correctly, in my opinion. The problem with those endings was that all the sad things were inferred rather than executed properly, and that they came off as a Diabolus Ex Machina.
comment #15097 Anfauglith 27th Jun 12
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