Why I Support BioWare, and Why I Was Wrong About One Thing

I did make a mistake when I wrote that BioWare’s Dragon Age 2 – even though ‘controversial’ in the world of games – was the best game ever created (sure, in my opinion); BioWare’s own Mass Effect 3 is actually the best game ever created; or, the whole Mass Effect is.

Hey, I am allowed to change my opinion! The Mass Effect trilogy was finalized a year after Dragon Age 2, so, I am absolutely entitled to change my mind.

Is it typical that they are both BioWare games? No. I don’t think it has anything to do with it. Other current games like Skyrim or even Diablo III are excellent games – but Mass Effect just delivers something I have never experienced in any movie or game alike. I actually have written this, and showed my support a couple of months ago. So, why another posting?

Well, that is because of all the crap BioWare is getting about the ending of the trilogy by the players. Well, let me say, by a part of the players, because the players who were so very impressed by the ending, just like almost all professional reviewers of game sites do not try to drag BioWare into court to demand a rewrite.

Yes, for everyone that is not so into the gaming world; it is honestly happening. Not only demand a percentage of the players a new ending, a whole other bunch dragged Electronic Arts and BioWare into court to demand their money back because they claim that there was false advertisement going on.

Let me again state that the ending of Mass Effect is a narrative masterpiece, especially for a game. It is unique, emotional, and original. The most likely problem is simply; there is not end boss fight. Instead of deciding to go for that dime a dozen end-game, they actually scrapped the plans for an end-game boss fight and make it more intelligent. To not disappoint, they unleash hell on the gamer just before that, in an extremely intense battle that should quench the thirst for a major boss fight in the end.

But a lot do not agree. Which, like this is my opinion, is their opinion that they are entitled to. My earlier article about Mass Effect 3 and the responses to the ending, I wrote after finishing the game, so that I knew what everyone was talking about. But especially with the claim of ‘false advertising’ I needed to know what was going on there. So it took me a while to write this.

The claim that BioWare and EA made in the advertising is that the game’s builds up to a unique ending for everyone based on all the actions taken in all 3 games. Which means that a decision made in the beginning of the first game, can see its effect in the ending of the last. Which is pretty amazing, considering all the choices the player can make over the course of the three games.

Mass Effect delivers an ending that builds up and takes about 2-4 hours to play through. It is not only the final battle, it is everything tied into it. Sure, you can finish the game in three different ways, but I think a lot of people don’t understand the essence of what BioWare tried to advertise: There are many unique ways to form your character and have the story build a meaning for you. You start to like and dislike the characters in the game, based on all your actions. Most of the uniqueness of the ending in the game is formed in your mind.

After I played and finished Mass Effect 3 the first time, I immediately started the first game up again, and created a whole new character. I decided to pass on the compassionate FemShep and go for the though dude this time, with all kinds of other abilities. And this time, I would be an *hole. I would piss people off in the game, had a complete galactic government wiped out, and decided to hand over a huge development plant for hostile mega-synthetic lifeform ships called the Reapers to an absolute untrustworthy character called the Illusive Man. I had a fighter for justice murdered by her hostile daughter, and cheated on my love with the reporter that stayed on my ship.

And, what I do have to admit, is that the gameplay actually doesn’t change. Yes, I am bad personality, but my crew around me actually forms with me. I was a bit disappointed about that, because some people became bad with me, instead of being good like the first time I played through the games. All the same things started happening… and the changes were more in the details. But, my personality in the game formed a lot of the gameplay itself. Because of choices you make, you see the storyline in another light. The ultimate evil personality in the game, called the Illusive Man (wonderfully voiced by Martin Sheen) actually makes sense then, and you begin to sympathize for them.

I suddenly lost crew mates because of certain decisions, that I did not want to lose. Two of them, which I really enjoyed, I shot and killed myself. On of them, one of the favorites, even in the back. I did not ‘like’ to make those decisions, but they made sense. And they leave you with a masterful moment of emotion in a ‘video game’. Something I hardly ever imagined to experience. These moments change the view on the game. In my second play-through of the games, the whole story line became about what is right to do. I hurt my ‘companions’ to get to the ultimate goal and safe all and everything, while the first play-through was more about my team, doing what was morally the best thing. This makes a huge difference in your perception of the ending. Even in the simple details. This play-through I had decided to have an ultimate bad person keep her life, while the ultimate good person perished. All the way almost in the end-fight, suddenly there is an enemy, just like all the others, that I suddenly see that ‘she’ carried the same name as the person I decided to let live. I would not even have noticed this if I did not roll over this creature with my mouse. Simple details, but adds a lot the ending of a mission about 20 hours ago.

The last 5 minutes of the game, yes, they are more or less exactly the same. But it is so much more than that, and I think a lot of the people that are now complaining just wanted to point and shoot, and just skipped most of the story-line anyway, or were waiting for this end-game boss fight.  What can I say… I still believe BioWare did deliver what they advertised, but like said, it is more in the perception and in the details. Maybe they should not have boasted that element so much, but simply push the amazing story and gameplay.

BioWare already announced an extended cut which will be deliver with no additional costs to the owners of the game. They mentioned that they did not change the ending, but explained it a bit more. To be honest, I don’t understand why it needs more explaining. The game is pretty clear. But, well, I am also not the kind of guy that when he had an excellent experience for a 50+ hours in a game, and the last 5 minutes don’t contain a boss fight, to go to court.

Mass Effect created not only a very intense story line that is told over three 40+ hour games, but a very detailed, political and emotional scenery. A galaxy filled with races, all with their own wars, habits and intense histories. And the writers have been able to have amazing characters like Garrus, Tali, Liara, Anderson, Miranda and Ashley. Characters, even if they are alien and look really weird, that you start to care about. That decisions involving them can really make you halt the game for a bit, and think about what is going to happen, and what you have to do.

I will go for a third play-through… so I can really build up to the third unique decision all the way in the end. But not right now… not tonight.

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