The Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC Review
Mass Effect 3 gamers demanded closure, answers, and some changes when they asked for more from BioWare. Now that the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC has been released, many gamers will discover they’re not actually getting the complete package they wished for. Be warned, spoilers abound in this review; it is after all my take on the Extended Cut patch for the Mass Effect 3 ending. The DLC does not offer a different “Shepard kicks ass, takes name, and gets the boy” ending, rather it offers a few more pieces of dialogue in the final scene, some stills showing life after your choice, and a cutscene showing your most beloved crew member adding your name to the Normandy’s memorial wall. A fourth choice is added, but the results probably aren’t what you want either.
Does This Set A Bad Precedent?
For the most part, this DLC does not change the ending the writers had intended. It’s less of an addendum to the story and more of a post-launch patch for the script. You’ll get additional cut scenes which add a “Where are they now” amount of information, but except for a few minor alterations, the DLC does nothing to change the fate of Shepard. Does this set a bad precedent? Gamers already think with the right volume, they’ll be able to demand changes of game makers, but in reality they didn’t get any major tweaks, just added information. On the flip side, this allowed BioWare to explain their choices, and win back the love of many gamers who really wanted to say goodbye.
What It Added
One of the major complaints about the end of ME3 involved players feeling like their Shepard was not represented in the final scene with the Catalyst. After three games of fighting for humanity and all sentient life, Shepard wouldn’t readily accept suicide as the only choice, especially without asking any questions, like “Why?” This DLC adds some dialogue options for Shepard and the Catalyst before a choice has been made. The information was limited but did offer information on the Reapers’ origins, the Citadel and the Star Child himself.
Information and additional scenes were also added to better illustrate each choice. There were dialogue choices for each of three options that allowed Shepard to ask for an explanation about what each choice did, and what the consequences were. Shepard’s fate did not change.
Thanks to an added piece of dialogue mentioning a “rendezvous point” BioWare was able to answer what happens to all the War Assets/alien troops Shepard had brought to Earth. This “rendezvous point” also explains why Joker was flying away from Shepard in her time of need. The added scene showing him rescuing your crew and then being told to evacuate was appreciated.
The destruction of the Mass Relays left a bleak outlook for the universe you just died to save. A few words of voiceover from Hackett in the Destroy option will ease your troubled mind. BioWare wrote that debacle out by adding they were “severely damaged.” Hackett assures us, “We can rebuild everything.” Not most stuff, but everything. Phew, that’s a relief. This is a good example of BioWare making a significant change to the canon they set in the original ending.
The most notable added scenes took place at the end of each option. The first scene shows victorious Asari and cheering Krogans as Joker flies away, escaping whatever color you chose. The same lush island scene from the original ending plays out before revealing all your surviving squadmates gathered around the Normandy's memorial wall. Commander Shepard’s name is added above Admiral Anderson’s.
I’ll admit the first time I saw Kaidan put Commander Shepard’s name on the wall I felt the muscles in my face tighten. I passed that wall dozens of times in between missions. Seeing Shepard’s name there was final.
Sorry, You Haven’t Been Indoctrinated
The Indoctrination theory has been latched onto by disappointed Mass Effect fans everywhere. In general, those people found BioWare's ending confusing or vague and needed a “it was all a dream” explanation to enjoy it. BioWare pretty much dismisses that theory with this DLC. The “dream trees” are still behind you as Shep approaches the beam, but don’t get excited. As soon as Shepard enters the beam, a cutscene is triggered. In it, Hackett is heard saying, “She did it. Someone made it onto the Citadel.” Sorry, it’s not a dream, Shepard is actually there.
I’m glad they dismissed the theory. Like many, I held onto it at first, but it just didn’t add up. To think, I became so frustrated that BioWare had composed an ending so unsatisfactory that I believed a bunch of people on YouTube.
The additions made to each ending were minimal, varied by color not choices, but did offer the closure I sought for my crewmates.
The new ending allowed Shepard to refuse the Star Child’s choices outright. After listening to his suggestions Shepard can deny the Star Child’s request to choose.
I was preparing to walk over to the synthesis beam when I instinctively felt the need to shoot that punk-ass kid in the face. Just one more time for old times sake, you know. Turns out that’s actually another way of activating the Refusal option. I learned this the hard way.
This choice offers no indication of what actually happens next. Godchild's voice changes to a deep, foreboding one to say "So be it." The scene jumps to a time capsule from Liara. The holographic time capsule offers a retelling of their story via archives. Then a woman instead of a man (I guess Buzz wasn’t in the Extended budget) tells a little boy that because of these archives, they were able to avoid being in the same position, implying that knowledge was used to eventually defeat the Reapers. How or when, we don’t know.
Choosing Control lets Shepard basically becomes God. Now we know more about what Controlling the Reapers involves. The blue electric beams flow through Shepard, breaking down her body into nothing, thus becoming one with the Reaper hive mind. Shepard ceases to exists as a human and begins her life as a higher power in control of the Reapers.
A disembodied voice describes the death of Shepard, ushering in the birth of demi-Shepard. She now has a new purpose, one filled with helper Reapers and Krogan babies. The frenzied final words of Illusive Man echo in this monologue. She harps on protection, being a guardian, the greater good, harnessing the power of your enemies, all ideals Shepard threw back at the Illusive Man as part of his indoctrination. Being God didn’t feel right, so I replayed it again.
BioWare was apparently tired of gamers complaining about the lack of a “good ending” because they decided to add a few sentences for the Star Child. He tells you Synthesis is the ideal choice, the correct choice. It’s irksome for a game about choice to have a character tell you all other options are wrong, especially when they’ve done nothing to make that choice favorable.
The problem I had with choosing synthesis before still remains, there wasn’t a impassible conflict of synthetics versus organics to warrant all the bullsh*t the Star Kid was spewing. EDI, Legion, Geth and Quarian peace, there were numerous examples I wanted to present to the Star Kid as evidence against his certainty. Instead of an explanation of why this was the right choice, BioWare added green eyes. Yes, green eyes are the results of Shepard’s sacrifice. It ultimately left me feeling like I understood more about the organics versus synthetic relationship than the BioWare writers did.
Destroy lets Shepard shoot the core of the Citadel unleashing a red wave of death to all synthetic life. The Star Child heeds the same warnings, all synthetics will be destroyed only to rise up again in time. Despite being told for three games you had to, above all else, destroy the Reapers, this still isn't the "right" ending, but damn it feels the best.
This choice is the only option that allows the possibility of rebuilding the Mass Relays. More importantly than that, it’s the only ending where Shepard could conceivably still be alive.
My Final Play Through
I’ve been a gamer my whole life, dying has never been an option, dying is failure, dying means I get a chance to try again and do it right. Dying at the end of a game I put myself into emotionally wasn’t something I was ready for, even after the months I’ve had to get used to it. I may have beat the game, this time with more scenes, but I still don’t feel like I won.
I played each ending again and finally chose Destroy. Despite the fact that my Galactic Readiness had dwindled back to 50%, and my EMS was still at around 4,000, my Shepard gasped for air at the end. The Star Child spelled it out for me, Synthesis is the right choice, the best possible outcome, the inevitable evolution of the human race, and yet I wasn’t satisfied when I chose it. Destroy may have rid the word of synthetics, but it gave me a glimmer of hope Shepard may still be alive. I guess it’s selfish, but hope for myself offered me satisfaction where world peace left me feeling empty.
Was It What I Wanted?
Scenes about the Normandy, Joker, and my crew were absolutely necessary and frankly, they should have been in the game at launch. It takes a lot of humility to admit mistakes and make changes, and for that I appreciate what BioWare has done. These scenes, primarily the ones I got with the Destroy ending, lightened the blow of disappointment I felt the first time I beat the game, but it’s still not the ending I want. Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut feels like band-aid for too big a wound, but hey it’s a free band-aid!
If you were perfectly happy with the ending you had before then you don't need to play this DLC, but it won't hurt your experience either. I think most gamers, especially those who have been with the series over the years, will appreciate being able to say goodbye to your squad while they say goodbye to you. In the end, this is free, so why not give it a shot?