**I’m sure everyone has heard their fair share about Mass Effect 3 this month, and while I’d love to move on to better things I felt this particular piece of news warranted a discussion. Hopefully you’ll agree. Obviously, since this topic deals with the ending of the game, this article contains spoilers.**
Yep, you read that right. It would appear that someone (a Bioware forumite by the name of “El_Spiko”) is actually bringing a case to the Federal Trade Commission claiming that the ending of Mass Effect 3 isn’t just bad, but full out false advertising. Of course the idea of bringing a video game to the Federal Trade Commission over it’s ending is pretty ridiculous. I mean, people don’t exactly press charge every time they go and see a horrible movie (if you could, I’m sure Gary would have by now). But then again El_Spiko isn’t bringing up the claim because of his dislike of the ending, but because he feels the game’s ending (and therefore the product as a whole) was advertised to him and fellow consumer’s falsely. The question is, is he right?
I’d argue that he is. And here’s why…
Prior to Mass Effect 3’s release Bioware made its rounds to the usual media outlets and gave their usual spiel about how great the game was turning out and what players could look forward to… you know, the usual stuff. Including this choice bit from executive producer Casey Hudson to Game Informer Magazine:
“This story arc [Shepard’s] is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff. It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C.”
“It’s more like there are some really obvious things that are different and then lots and lots of smaller things, lots of things about who lives and who dies, civilizations that rose and fell, all the way down to individual characters. That becomes the state of where you left your galaxy. The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them.” (Emphasis mine.)
Well Mr. Hudson, that’s quite an interesting quote to make about the endings, especially when you consider that Mass Effect 3 actually DOES end with three choices. Oh sure, technically there are 6 different videos that can run at the end (each depending on the strength of the force you bring into the final battle) but those 6 videos are still part of one of THREE endings. You know, A, B or C. Exactly what Casey said wouldn’t happen.
Likewise, he claims that the game’s endings will have a great deal of sophistication and variety to them, yet that also isn’t the case. In fact, it is entirely possible for two players to go through all three Mass Effect games, make opposite choices from each other at every turn, and then both reach the ending of Mass Effect 3 and, with a single similar choice, get the exact same ending as each other. Think about that for a second. In a game series where everything you’ve done from one game carried into the TWO games after it, all your choices are suddenly useless. Every choice you make, person you save or kill…every choice you make defines your world and the characters around you. Except for the ending. Suddenly NONE of that makes any difference. I don’t know about you, but that seems to be in contradiction to what Mr. Hudson said we’d be getting in our final product.
“But Jason!” you might cry in a whiny voice. “That was all pre-release press stuff. They say all kinds of fluff and lies when they do that. You can’t hold that against them!” Well, yes I can. But even if I couldn’t, my point would still stand, as they have made no attempt to change their tone about the ending even after it has been released. The Mass Effect website still reads, and I quote:
“Experience the beginning, middle, and end of an emotional story unlike any other, where the decisions you make shape your experience and outcome.”
Huh, that’s odd. Because that is exactly what doesn’t happen. Is the story emotional? You bet. I shed a tear when Thane died, and couldn’t help but whisper the final verse of “Scientist Salarian” as Mordin sacrificed himself to save the Krogan. Did my decisions shape my experience? They sure did! And I’m sure each and every player will have their own little stories to tell about what happened to them throughout Mass Effect 3. But did my decisions effect the outcome of the game (and series)? No. No they did not. Even if you liked the endings I think you’d be hard pressed to prove how exactly your choices did. Because they didn’t.
So yeah, I’d say this guy has a legitimate case. Will the Feds see it that way? Probably not; and that’s unfortunate. Because despite all the hype and talk of Mass Effect 3 being a complex ending unlike any other, where no two players will have the same story to tell by the time the game comes to a conclusion, the ending of Mass Effect boils down to a game of Let’s Make a Deal, only behind each and every door is a freak’n Zonk.
So best of luck to you El_Spiko. Because I’m gunn’n for ya and Lord knows you’re gonna need it…