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Mass Effect 3 review with spoilers
The third part of a well-received trilogy will always have high expectations. Some storytellers rise to the challenge and end their story in an emotionally-satisfying way. Others fold under the pressure and let the story just fizzle out. Mass Effect 3, sadly, falls into the latter group.

It starts well enough. Earth is conquered by the Reapers, and you need to put together a coalition to take it back while also gathering resources for a superweapon that might be able to beat them. Fair enough, it's easy to accept. So you travel the galaxy, visiting the homeworlds of the major races to help them with their problems, freeing them up to help you. Two planets in particular, Tuchanka and Rannoch, tie up long-running plot threads. Rannoch is arguably the weaker of the two, as you try to create peace between the organic quarians and synthetic geth. After using a targeting laser to kill a skyscraper-sized Reaper on foot, you have to choose which of the two races is wiped out, unless you made certain decisions in the second and third game that allow you to take a third option of making them stop fighting. It's heart-warming, but it also feels like a wasted opportunity. Instead of peace, they could've had players choose between two morally difficult options that, while not wiping out either race, would certainly harm one.

Tuchanka was much better, and speaks of the true potential of video games as a storytelling medium. It ties in decisions from the first two games, then adds a few more twists, creating a difficult decision that can gain you the support of one race at the cost of betraying a second one. Also, giant thresher maw vs. Reaper. Awesome. No matter how you play it, it's full of powerful moments, and will make you cry.

The combat is much improved, and weapon upgrades are handled well. The dialogue writing is the best in the series. Squadmates move around the ship and talk to each other, making it feel more alive.

But the game has quite a few plotting issues. And, of course, the ending. Sigh. The ending fails on every level. It is one of the worst pieces of writing ever. It really is.

But if you just pretend the ending doesn't exist, it's a thoroughly enjoyable game. Most of the flaws are easily overlooked, in light of the fun combat and fantastic dialogue.

It's a fantastic game, despite the truly, truly awful ending.
I'm interested in why the reviewer thought the ending was "one of the worst pieces of writing ever", but it was running up against the 400-word limit as it stands. Maybe you could add a comment elaborating?
comment #14943 JackAlsworth 18th Jun 12
The reason the ending is such awful writing is because it violates almost every rule. The series has always been driven by the characters, and the end largely abandons them. Throughout the series, we were given a choice in both how and whether we argue with people, but we're given only a single dialogue option, and it doesn't even address the Catalyst's logic (he says synthetics will try to wipe out their creators, and then Shepard talks about either choice or hope - huh?). It violates core themes, particularly the Synthesis choice, which is presented as the ideal option. It takes an issue that was resolved from a literary standpoint - the entire point of Rannoch was to resolve the conflict of organics and synthetics, and then we find out in the final minutes that it was what ultimately drove the entire plot of the series. It robs us of any sense of closure on any of the people we've come to know and care about, and leaves us with more questions than answers. It tries to include the resolution and falling action as part of the climax. It's full of totally needless plot holes. It has no real emotional resonance. It introduces a brand new and major character, with no foreshadowing or build-up at all, in the final moments. The Catalyst, for no logical reason, looks like the kid who died on Earth, which was a blatant and shallow attempt at emotional manipulation.

It just fails on every conceivable level, and worst of all, it's inconsistent with what came before. An ending that sucks but makes sense in context is one thing. But this was an ending that both sucks and makes no sense in the context of the franchise. That inconsistency with what came before makes it far, far worse than simple bad writing.
comment #14945 Tiamatty 18th Jun 12
Looks like whoever you were talking to had their comment deleted.
comment #14948 VeryMelon 18th Jun 12
And the other comment you made is gone to.
comment #14949 VeryMelon 18th Jun 12
I tried to word my comment so that it would make as much sense as possible when that comment inevitably got nuked. I feel so paranoid. :/
comment #14950 JackAlsworth 18th Jun 12
"The series has always been driven by the characters, and the end largely abandons them."

All of the characters' plot arcs are addressed throughout the game. You're even able to get in touch with your squad and former allies before you begin the final assault.

"It violates core themes, particularly the Synthesis choice, which is presented as the ideal option."

Synthesis is the Catalyst's ideal option. It is the option that the Catalyst feels is best. You are not obligated to agree with the Catalyst, nor is the Catalyst portrayed in a way that is intended to make it appear that it is right.

Regardless, not every Shepard follows the "core themes" of the series. In terms of Paragon and Renegade, Control can easily be considered the "Paragon" choice—it's even represented by the colour blue.

"It takes an issue that was resolved from a literary standpoint - the entire point of Rannoch was to resolve the conflict of organics and synthetics, and then we find out in the final minutes that it was what ultimately drove the entire plot of the series."

And that's one of the ways that the story shows that the Catalyst's way of thinking is flawed. Except for some reason, people have the assumption that they're supposed to be agreeing with the Catalyst.

"It's full of totally needless plot holes."

Like?

"It has no real emotional resonance."

I beg to differ. Knowing that not just the actions of Shepard and their squad but also the entire galaxy and countless generations before them ultimately brought an end to the Reapers' cycles of destruction left me with a wide smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

"It introduces a brand new and major character, with no foreshadowing or build-up at all, in the final moments."

You must have completely forgotten about Vendetta, which not only tells you about the existence of the Catalyst but also that the Catalyst is on the Citadel and that the Crucible was thought to be able to destroy or control the Reapers.
comment #15010 lilyxlightning 21st Jun 12
"Like?"

Like the Normandy suddenly running from Earth after, through some strange miracle, having gathered your squadmates, even the one's that were there with you when Harbinger attacked.

Like the endings apparently running on space magic where they stiwched genres from science fiction to science fantasy in the last 5 minutes.

Like TIM suddenly being on the Citadel with 0 explanation for how he got there.

comment #15011 McSomeguy 22nd Jun 12
"Like the Normandy suddenly running from Earth"

Because Joker would hang around while a potentially-dangerous device is letting out a big light-show.

"Like the endings apparently running on space magic"

Because highly advanced technology apparently doesn't exist when it comes to the Crucible. Except when it does exist in the form of the Mass Relays.

"Like TIM suddenly being on the Citadel with 0 explanation for how he got there."

Because spaceships don't exist in the Mass Effect universe.
comment #15012 lilyxlightning 22nd Jun 12
Do you have to start an ending debate in every single comment section?
comment #15013 CPFMfan 22nd Jun 12
"Because Joker would hang around while a potentially-dangerous device is letting out a big light-show."

With Shepard still being there? Yes, he totally would, as did the rest of the fleet.

"Because highly advanced technology..."

... is explained, at least to some degree, while space magic is not. That's the difference between science fiction and science fantasy, and Mass Effect had been one of the hardest sci-fi franchises of recent years up until those last 5 minutes.

"Because spaceships don't exist in the Mass Effect universe."

Spaceships can't get you onto the citadel when it's arms are closed.
comment #15014 McSomeguy 22nd Jun 12
"... is explained, at least to some degree, while space magic is not."

Vendetta provides quite a bit information on the Crucible. That's one of the major elements surrounding it: no one knows how it works. No one is really sure of what the Crucible will do, other than what Vendetta knows—and even Vendetta's understanding is limited.

"Spaceships can't get you onto the citadel when it's arms are closed."

Because he couldn't have simply gotten on earlier than then. Alternatively, the Conduit.

"Do you have to start an ending debate in every single comment section?"

Felt like returning the favour for the people who decided to turn my review into a soapbox to whine about the ending. I feel that someone should point out the lack of reasoning or wrong reasons given for the ending allegedly being "bad".
comment #15017 lilyxlightning 22nd Jun 12
"Vendetta provides quite a bit information on the Crucible. That's one of the major elements surrounding it: no one knows how it works. No one is really sure of what the Crucible will do, other than what Vendetta knows—and even Vendetta's understanding is limited."

Which is a cheap cop out for not being able to come up with a method of defeating the reapers that actually makes sense. Hence space magic.

"Because he couldn't have simply gotten on earlier than then. Alternatively, the Conduit."

No, he couldn't, the time frames don't match. And yeah, he absolutely took a stroll down the warzone and walked right up to the conduit in that fine suit of his without getting blown to shit.

"Felt like returning the favour for the people who decided to turn my review into a soapbox to whine about the ending. I feel that someone should point out the lack of reasoning or wrong reasons given for the ending allegedly being "bad"."

If this is your sentiment then why did you bother asking people about why they're being critical of your undiluted praise? Clearly you understand it very well, just from the opposite perspective.

comment #15020 McSomeguy 22nd Jun 12
@Lilyx:

Sadly, you misunderstood the ending, so the very foundation upon which your arguments rested has been debunked. That very same discussion includes the reason for why the ending contradicts the themes of the series. I pointed out how wrong you were about Vendetta being foreshadowing in our Mass Effect Cleanup thread, and I think in our main Mass Effect 3 forum thread as well. Try to improve your arguments, because right now you just recycling old arguments that you were not able to defend or that you just didn't defend at all, and spamming other reviews with them. At least you were honst and admitted that you spam the other reviews out of petty revanchism.
comment #15056 Anfauglith 24th Jun 12
lily: Some character threads are cleared up, but most aren't. Those conversations before the big battle? That's not closure or resolution. That's actually building tension. Closure requires a return to a state of normalcy. We never get to see what the new status quo is for all the people we know. Therefore, the end abandons them.

Synthesis is presented by the game itself as the ideal option. Of the three choices, it requires the most War Assets to achieve. The Catalyst's talk of it being the best option further suggests that it's what the developers wanted people to choose. Players can disagree, but that doesn't change the fact that it's what the developers presented as the best choice, contrary to several themes of the series.

Bringing back a resolved theme has nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing with the Catalyst. It's simply bad writing. The theme of organics vs. synthetics was resolved. Over. Done. There was no need for the writers to bring it back at the end. That was the problem. I don't mean it was resolved in the context of the game, I mean it was resolved in the context of telling a story.

The final scene with the Catalyst felt utterly hollow.

That's not foreshadowing. In no way is any of that foreshadowing the existence of an AI living on the Citadel. You clearly don't know what foreshadowing is. Foreshadowing requires it be something that people can predict if they're paying attention. There is no way anyone could've possibly predicted, based on anything said by anyone at any point anywhere in the series, "Hey, maybe the Catalyst is an AI living on the Citadel responsible for the creation of the Reapers." A good twist requires you be able to look back at the story, and see how the twist came logically from previous comments and events. That was not done here. At all. It flat-out was not done.

I don't know when the Normandy would've had the chance to flee the light show. And I certainly don't see how the Normandy could've picked up the people from Earth before it did so.

The Crucible isn't using "sufficiently advanced technology." In Synthesis, in particular, it's just flat-out making shit up. It's Space Magic. It makes no sense in the context of what we know about the technology of the setting.

The Illusive Man pops up from right behind Shepard. Where did he come from? Set aside how he got onto the Citadel, how did he get onto that platform without being noticed? If you watch the scene again, he just walks out from behind Shepard. Dramatic, sure, but also basically impossible.
comment #15082 Tiamatty 25th Jun 12
So the Extended Cut adds some closure. All my other criticisms of the ending still apply.
comment #15091 Tiamatty 26th Jun 12
Here's some extensive discussion on the implications of the endings, including some fairly convincing arguments against Synthesis.

http://masseffect.answers.wikia.com/wiki/ME3_Extended_Cut_-_analysis_of_choices

The logic of declaring Synthesis as the best because it requires the most War Assets to achieve is flawed; from an in-universe standpoint, making all organics into organic-synthetic hybrids is the most complex use of the Crucible, and would likely require a more developed Crucible and more protection to accomplish (Control would be second and destroy would be the easiest use). There is also the fact that war asset requirements, the indicators of how difficult each method is to carry out, depend on whether you saved or destroyed the Collector Base. If War Asset requirements were used to determine the quality of an ending, Destroy would likely come out on top, since only by choosing that and having an even higher amount of assets (3,100-5,000) can you have Shepard's survival.

Additionally, Synthesis seems to be what the Catalyst wants most, not necessarily what is best for the galaxy. Whereas Destroy would result in the death of all the Reapers (the Catalyst's means of continuing the cycle), and Control would essentially turn control of the Reapers over to Shepard (who can use them as he/she sees fit, possibly in a way the Catalyst doesn't approve of), Synthesis would presumably leave the Catalyst in place, able to influence things and possibly even intervene if things don't go as planned.

I personally chose Destroy. I considered it the most realistic and believable option, as well as the one most likely to avoid long-term conflict with what remained of the Reapers. Losing the geth and A Is such as EDI was unfortunate, but I considered it a necessary cost of peace.
comment #15206 Valiona 5th Jul 12
I choose destroy as well. I always had a feeling the Catalyst was up to something, and the extended cut proved me right. Catalyst is Harbinger. In control they get Shepard, who is to say s\he won't become indoctrinated? Synthesis seems to play into what the Reapers want. Destroy seems like the best way to screw them over, and hey, Shepard lives.
comment #15256 tsstevens 7th Jul 12
Uhh, what? I'm assuming you took the Catalyst's voice shift, if you refuse all the choices, as Harbinger's voice, which is not true. That was just a generic Reaper tone of speaking. There is nothing to indicate that the Catalysts is not what it claims to be. If Shepard was a renegade(or maybe if s/he killed the Geth) then the Catalyst even comments that it isn't very fond of the idea of being replaced by Shep in case of the control ending but that it would have no choice in the matter as it is bound by the capabilities of the Crucible just as much as Shepard is.
comment #15261 McSomeguy 7th Jul 12
In any case, twist true or not, I don't think any interpretation has Catalyst as completely trustworthy, just maybe inable to pull any further tricks
comment #15265 Tomwithnonumbers 7th Jul 12
That's not exactly relevant since the extended cut shows us just what happens after the choice is made and the Catalyst didn't lie about any of them.
comment #15267 McSomeguy 7th Jul 12
Doesn't matter. Even if the Catalyst isn't Harbinger it still screws over the galaxy in that one ending. What better way to return the favor than by wiping out the Reapers? They don't get Shepard leading them, they don't get to convert the galaxy, best ending.

Of course you can take whatever ending pleases you, but that's the one for me. Much the same as we might think countries should follow any particular religion (I happen to think they should be monotheist, follow any religion you please, or more than one, or if Shepard is who you choose for guidance and comfort you could do a lot worse, or none at all.) It's when we start getting into trying to tell others this is the belief, or ending, to follow that things get bad.
comment #15269 tsstevens 7th Jul 12
Well, if Shepard doesn't take any of the other options then continuing with the default course of action seems like an obvious way to go for the Catalyst but whatever. The main reason I don't like Destroy is because it kills the Geth and EDI and I don't like Synthesis because it still reeks of space magic.
comment #15272 McSomeguy 8th Jul 12
Doesn't wiping out the Reapers reset a lot of technology? I can't see why it's the best option, because you destroy life at the greater expense to yourself and all civilisation. I mean people are going to die because they don't have technology that they used to save peoples lives and all you get back is revenge, because with Shepards control the Reapers aren't a threat at all (probably)

Whereas there's no technological loss except for the relays, no death of anyone except Shepard (and in many ways, story-wise that seems better to me), and you could easily wipe out all the Reapers is Shepard intended to with the control option.

Of course if they'd ever actually explored the Reapers at all at any point in any of the games apart from that one conversation we'd actually know how viable the control option is, how vengeance driven destroy would be, or how sensible it may be. But they never tell us this stuff
comment #15277 Tomwithnonumbers 8th Jul 12
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