Mass Effect: Final Thoughts and Goodbyes

Yes I reused this picture.  One of the best ensemble shots ever.

 

They say the journey is the real important part; our destination can be seen as the final stroke on an otherwise brilliant manuscript of adventures, challenges, and discoveries. My journey began a ways back when I was handed a copy of Mass Effect and told “Play this, you’ll like it. Trust me.” Trust him I did. He was right (of course). Back in March (is it seriously already August?) I went out with everyone else and picked up my copy of Mass Effect 3, eager to take it home and experience the final chapter of my favorite science fiction universe ever. Now, finally, months later I feel like I’ve finished it. I’ve devoured this bit of wonderful story telling from beginning to end (twice). So let’s talk about it.  Oh and be warned, there are spoilers here.

There are two very distinct Shepards for me, the first one I played (a loose cannon, renegade, no BS, the mission comes first type) was a deviation from my normal good guy I immediately dive into games with. He had moments where he committed good acts and moments where he was a cold, heartless soldier sent to save the galaxy. For him the end was cold hard logic: controlling the Reapers is a mistake, destroying them too costly, the only logical conclusion is evolution – to take the next step and unify the galaxy for good. The second Shepard was a female (to really experience a completely different narrative) and she was altruistic, friendly, a people person and essentially everything the male version wasn’t. She made friends, she found love, she did everything she could to save people and bring the galaxy together. This was the more typical good guy I usually play yet in the end she turned out to be more selfish than the renegade. The femShep chose to destroy synthetics so that she might see her friends and family again (I say they made these choices and by that I mean in a role play sense this is how they would have reacted not that I hear voices … all the time). It was a very long and wild journey for both of them, and myself as well since I was along for the ride. Finally it feels like the story is over for me; Mass Effect is done. There is a sense of extreme sadness, profound loss. This is not the destination I imagined when I first set out. More reason I’m glad I took the time to enjoy the journey.

Of the three games the arguments can be made for which one is weakest, which one can be left out for new players just wanting to see a good story, and which one will stick with you the longest for whatever reason. If possible don’t skip anything, include all the chapters in any experience you have. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, each one has parts that can be glossed over to expedite the story moving along, but each one is an important part on the journey’s path. The first one is a monumental success in story telling and player driven narrative. It also feels like an amazing accomplishment in how games are presented and stories told. The second is incredible in it’s scope, it’s showcase of all that this marvelous universe has to offer, and The Illusive Man is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time (if I ever run into Martin Sheen I’m going to thank him for his role, it really made the second game for me). The third has this impressive sense of hopeless desperation. The whole time you feel the crushing weight of the Reapers bearing down on you, of a whole galaxy in peril, and you really feel the gravity behind choices you make as you go. My hands down favorite for some time was 2, but I’m not sure anymore. The first one has a lot going for it, it very much feels like a question of which do I like better: Empire or A New Hope? I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to choose; though not having Liara in your squad in the second one (unless you do the Shadowbroker side quest) is a big point against it (she’s a bad ass space archeologist – what’s not to like?). That leaves 3, sadly the weakest entry in the series. The third game is still an incredible game; it just doesn’t have the magic the previous two did. I blame 2 for being so good, 3 never could have lived up to it (much like how The Dark Knight Rises could never be as good as The Dark Knight but was still a good movie).

Of course the ending has to be touched on as well. I’m a fan of non traditional endings; I want to be left thinking and wondering – building the epilogue in my head. With the original ending I felt satisfied; I’d saved a galaxy, I’d seen all I came to, and the universe would continue on it’s own. My renegade was the one I saw the original ending with and it felt complete. After playing through on the paragon I’m glad I had the extended cut installed. The EC feels like the “good” ending; an ending for people who tried to do all they could to save everyone they could and who wanted to live through to see another day. The renegade’s job was done, he gave the ultimate sacrifice so everyone else could see tomorrow, he had nothing keeping him here. I was satisfied knowing his sacrifice worked, there was no need to see how things unfolded from there; the galaxy would continue on as it should. Then there was the paragon, I can see how the original ending felt unsatisfying to some in such a situation. I was very much interested to see the fruits of my super charismatic diplomacy spread across the universe, I wanted to make sure friends and family made it okay, I wanted to see her have the happy ending she deserved – she earned some R&R. With the EC I feel like I got to see that.

Mass Effect. It certainly has had a massive effect on me. I can’t remember the last time I was this invested and taken in a work of fiction. Perhaps the first time I read through Lord of the Rings. Even my famed love for the Wheel of Time series isn’t this emotionally deep. As much as I loved Avengers it didn’t hit me this hard when it was over; same goes for Batman’s recent trilogy. At least I’ve still got multiplayer to feed my need for this universe, and I’ve still got people I need to expose to the series so I can vicariously enjoy it all over again through them. For now I think I need some time. I’m Jeremiah Cochran and this is my favorite science fiction story ever told.

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About Jeremiah Cochran

The last minute addition to the party that really brings it all together. Let's face it how else could you get past that Balrog without your Gandalf? (Yes I just compared myself to Gandalf, deal) A fan of comics, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, rolling dice, and tapping cards. Essentially he's the nerd renaissance man. Also he can cook. And do laundry (sort of).

Posted on August 2, 2012, in Mass Effect, Nerd Culture, Occurrences, Reviews, Sci Fi, SCIENCE!, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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