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Sessler's Soapbox: Mass Effect 3 Wrap Up

Posted: March 13, 2012
Sessler's Soapbox: Mass Effect 3 Wrap Up
http://www.g4tv.com/videos/57704/sesslers-soapbox-mass-effect-3-wrap-up/
http://images.g4tv.com/ImageDb3/293777_LGST/soapbox-3-13-12.jpg
Video_57704
Adam discusses Mass Effect 3's day-one DLC, its controversial ending, and how well it handled same-sex relationships.

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  • bretthoof

    Here's a very interesting article from Kotaku on why the ME3 ending was bad. I like this article because, like Adam, it agrees that the ending should not be changed but still makes a good point on why the ending was such a let down.

    Link: http://kotaku.com/5892676/why- mass-effect-3s-ending-was-so-t errible/

    Posted: March 14, 2012 12:43 AM
    bretthoof
  • alivealie

    Wonderful soapbox, Adam. Poignant, cogent, compassionate, with a fine touch in your anecdote about Dickens.

    In my opinion, the recent community reaction to Mass Effect 3's ending could be likened to those of a spoiled brat. Now this is not to say it is entirely the fault of avid fans and gamers (like myself) that we should feel entitled to decry a product when our expectations have not been met. Just as blame should fall on the spoiled child's parents when he or she demands to "have her cake and eat it, too," so corporations (such as, for example, Blizzard) are to blame for having listened too carefully to even the most redundant and insipid requests of their player-base. Then they respond by "improving", or at very least "meeting" that base's demands, thus encouraging more of the same behavior. Sure, the models of production and development are quite different when comparing an MMO like World of Warcraft to a narrative trilogy like Mass Effect, but the bottom line is that we, the people, are biting the hand that feeds.

    Everyone who followed the series from its origin knew going into Mass Effect 3 that it was the final game in the series, and that things would come to an end, for better or worse. When I first began the adventure, I was prepared to watch my Shepherd fail, even perish (hell, she did in part 2), if it stood for a greater cause. When I finished the game, I wanted to believe that all Shepherds would be prepared for such dark times, and that they would shine in spite of it. Perhaps I was wrong.

    Perhaps, as the industry (and the audience) of video games matures, developers and creative teams will learn to better moderate their attempts to strike a balance between creative freedom and fan favoritism. I can only hope, with all the negativity surrounding what I think should be a celebrated accomplishment in narrative games, that everyone can learn a little something from this outcome.

    Posted: March 14, 2012 12:00 AM
    alivealie
  • SavvyToli

    Sess was right about all the things except the ME3 endings. I love how everyone discussed about all the empty pages that were left unanswered in the last 15 minutes of the game I had a thousand questions that came to mind. And i literally went crazy about wasting all this time and devotion for something so puzzling and stupid at the same time.

    The ME trilogy is an awesome adventure and had and still has the potential to become even greater than Star Wars or Star Trek sci-fi stories. Im personally a huge fan since the first ME and have both ME2 and ME3 collectors editions hoping it woulldnt end the way it did with no absolute closure whatsoever. I read about something Bioware said to keep our saved games of ME3 pointing out that an ME4 is on the way. Seeing Shepard breath again in one of the choices left me hoping it was actually true. It looks like they will end up doing it like FF13-2 with a true ending coming with a DLC which is just ripping us off so we can buy the ending of the story when it should have been there in game already.

    Im hoping that wont be true but i will keep my fingers crossed for a surprise coming up to greet us with a fulfilling ending that ME3 and all the sacrifices the characters did wont be turning back to the stone age where Shepard has to start using bows and arrows now.

    I romanced Tali just out of curiosity to see her face and thought she died with me racing to the beam but she turns out alive and well on each and every ending with no worries about Shepard or maybe starting to cry about losing him or anything. It seems that no matter what choices me or anybody who played the game really mattered at all. It all came down to red, blue and green.

    I will keep believing in Bioware as i have since the beginning with the Star Wars stories. Please Bioware on behalf of myself and all the fans that love you, do some calibrations and shed some light for us.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 11:41 PM
  • Blood_Knight87

    Okay, I have read these comments, listened to what Adam said, as well as finished my copy of Mass Effect 3, but I must simply agree with Adam on this one. It is the -artist-, not the audience, that tells how something should end. I have played the Mass Effect games since the first in its first year of release. I, for one, actually like the endings to the game. Plus, there is supposed to be a secret ending after a second playthrough anyway. So, shut up and stop wasting time and energy on this and put it into something more meaningful, like the unemployment rate, or something more important than this.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 11:30 PM
    Blood_Knight87
  • bogdog44720

    Mr. Sessler,

    The artistic license argument is BS. Bioware and EA are in the business of selling video games. Plling stunts like this and calling it artistic license is a cop out. This will hurt their sales and their sale of DLC because as well all know nothing you do in this game has an impact on the ending and that is why every one is mad.

    Oh, and the artistic license thing sounds hollow when two of the three writers of Mass Effect 1 and 2 were not involved in the writing of Mass Effect 3.

    Bioware knew this backlash was going happen which is why they "revised" their forums code of conduct policy just days before the games release.

    95% of a game we've waited 5 years for is simply not enough.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 11:16 PM
    bogdog44720
  • Alien_Number_Six

    I feel sorry for Adam. He has to give a score for a game that almost everyone will disagree with either for or against. Then the poor man must explain himself for giving said score. X play is never the place I go for reviews. I'm a Game Informer kind of guy. I feel that X play is not allowed to give it's true opinion of games due to sponsoring. Ripping Adam a new one for doing his job is killing the messenger. Six out .

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:58 PM
    Alien_Number_Six
  • Zathrix

    To be perfectly honest, they don't need to "change" the ending. They need to add to it. Why you ask? Well, there wasn't a sense of resolution for every character. I would love for them to add in more cut scenes that show what happens to each character during/after the ending events. This could also help with the apparent plot hole that can happen in the last scene.

    Hope I kept that vague enough... But yeah, lighten up people, it was a thematically fitting ending to a fantastic series. It just wasn't comprehensive enough.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:46 PM
    Zathrix
  • MrLee95

    Adam I like ya and all, I think you are usually dead on with what you have to say. But in this case, you are dead wrong! This is not an ending the fans should have gotten! The decisions we made over the course of 3 games turned into a pick 3 doors ending. There are many plot holes and the ending just does not make any sense!! I usually don t link other people thoughts on this, but PLEASE take the time and read this write up from Gamefront!
    Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right!!
    http://www.gamefront.com/mas s-effect-3-ending-hatred-5-rea sons-the-fans-are-right/

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:37 PM
    MrLee95
  • DanielKeating

    Mr. Sessler,

    I did not write this. It is from Game Front but articulates what the issues are for many gamers concerning the ending. I hope you give it some consideration.

    http://www.gamefront.com/mas s-effect-3-ending-hatred-5-rea sons-the-fans-are-right/

    Respectfully,

    Daniel Keating

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:30 PM
    DanielKeating
  • unbias

    Good youtube video on why we hate it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=4H_A7SeawU4&list=UU7v3- 2K1N84V67IF-WTRG-Q&index=1 &feature=plcp

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:14 PM
    unbias
  • unbias

    TENS OF THOUSANDS of people didn't get this. We are not asking for a Disney ending. We are not asking for a dance party with Ewoks. We are just asking for our Big Heroes to go out on their own terms, win or lose.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:05 PM
    unbias
  • unbias

    WHY IS EVERYTHING SO SAD

    It's not sad. You are being incredibly myopic and dismissive of our experiences by reducing it to "y every1 has 2 diezorz?". The ending of the story is not actually sad, it's just anticlimactic, contrived, incongruous, and ridden with plot holes.

    The part that's sad and what's tearing me apart is that this is not a case of people writing themselves into a corner. This is not a case of glorified hacks like Ronald D. Moore or Cuse/Lindelof making crap up as they go along, to find themselves at the end with no way to tie all the crap together in a cathartic way.

    This is a beautifully written game, for the majority of the experience. Bioware has bona-fide talent within their ranks. And the story, up to the very end, is redeemable in dozens of ways. Even the contrived, out-of-the-blue Star Child could be made into an interesting character by presenting it as a shackled AI who was given a specific, limited goal born of fear (stop AI from wiping out organic life forever), and it arrived at the grotesque solution of Reapers not because AI is evil, but the constraints never allow it to look past the false dilemma it's attempting to solve.

    Most importantly, this is not a TV show or a movie. This narrative is, by design, told in a unique medium which is NOT doomed to give us a singular ending. Our Shepards can be varied, yes, but there is a finite amount of paradigms that lead you to the end, and they could all have a cathartic, poignant, and persistent ending. Let the Renegades ascend to rule the galaxy. Let the Paragons defeat primitive fear and xenophobia.

    I do not care if the Relays have to go down, but don't do it in such a thoughtless way as to destroy everything meaningful I accomplished. I do not care if my Shepard dies. In fact, I expected her to go down in a blaze of glory, in the greatest battle that shall ever be fought, for the most meaningful (to her) victory a soldier could ever earn. She did not get this. I did not get this.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:04 PM
    unbias
  • unbias

    CHOICES DON'T MATTER

    Again, you're missing the point. No one is complaining about the preceding 30 hours of gameplay. Choices did seem to matter. Your treatment of the Rachni queen from two games ago ended up gaining you a seemingly valuable ally. Saving Wrex can gain a hopeful future for the Krogan. Your choices regarding Legion and the Migrant Fleet in ME2 have incredibly strong consequences in the seeming conclusion of the Geth/Quarian storyline. This is why we loved the game up to the ending.

    And the ending completely demolished all of it, and made it completely illusory. Who gives a crap if you saved the Rachni? They just end up giving you Space Points and don't affect your ending at all. Who gives a crap if the Quarians or Geth or both survived? They're all dead anyway. Who cares if you cured the genophage and saved the one leader who could lead the Krogan into a less brutish, more hopeful future? He's either trapped on earth or dead, and the radioactive husk that is Tuchanka cannot sustain their race without supplies anyway.

    And even more egregiously, the choices you made in the development of YOUR Shepard don't matter. She acts EXACTLY the same when facing the ultimate antagonist regardless of whether she's a Space Racist Renegade or Never Surrender Paragon or whatever your Shepard actually is, and what (insert pronoun) stands for.

    You accept Space Suicidal Dictators premise without argument, and dejectedly pick one of the three Slightly Less Turning Everyone Into Paste final solutions he has to offer.

    How does it matter in the slightest that I've done the frickin' impossible and united the Geth and the Quarians into a hopeful future, shown that we need not fear synthetic life, seen a nascent artificial sentience freely decide to set "Love and compassion" as their main motivation, and fought for the reactionary, bleak idea of "AI will always rebel" to be proven wrong? Space Mass Murderer shows up, says "AI will always rebel, here are drastic fixes to this undeniable problem". And I go "yessuh"?

    Posted: March 13, 2012 10:03 PM
    unbias
  • unbias

    UNIGOLYN / 1:34PM

    DEUS EX MACHINA:

    You're getting your literary devices mixed up. The Crucible is not deus ex machina, it is a MacGuffin. It's largely irrelevant except as a plot device. It is the exhaust port on the Death Star.

    The narrative of ME3 is not about finding the Crucible, it is about building the greatest alliance ever seen in the galaxy (which the Crucible, as a plot device, allows to happen).

    Why the Catalyst AI and his Monty Hall spiel of the Adjust Hue/Saturation is a deus ex machina is that it is the resolution to the narrative. The fact that he is also literally a "god from the machine" is irrelevant, albeit ironic. He is a deus ex machina in the literary sense, i.e. a handwaved contrivance that shows up out of the blue to quickly whisk away all the dangling story threads, and to abruptly end the story.

    This is abysmal writing. This is abysmal game design; a Pick Your Own Adventure book where all choices take you to the same final chapter. It is counter to everything this game is. And what is this game?

    In a recent Extra Credits, Portnow discussed core elements of a game. The Mass Effect series is really not a third person shooter. It is also really not a roll-the-dice-and-level-up CRPG. Mass Effect is, at its core, interactive fiction. All the memorable moments in these games take place in cutscenes that play out in myriad ways based on prior choices. You are role-playing in the most literal sense of crafting a character's personality based on your choices. The climax of Mass Effect 2 was not shooting the Human Reaper in the eye, the climax of Mass Effect 2 were the cutscenes that played and showed the results of your actions. Did you defy TIM? Did your crewmates survive? If your choices were poor enough, you could defeat the final boss, only to make a desperate leap towards the Normandy with no one to catch you.

    The desperate leap in Mass Effect 3 is your dash towards the Beam. The only input that matters at all past this point is the encounter with TIM. That encounter is true to Mass Effect, and honors your previous choices, and provides closure for the secondary antagonist.

    But for the main antagonist (Reapers), nothing you did matters. You are given three arbitrary choices to solve a problem that, depending on your actions, may be proven to be a false dilemma in the first place. If you saved both the Quarians and the Geth, witnessed Legion's messianic sacrifice, and humanized EDI - the Catalyst's claim of organic/synthetic conflict being unavoidable is patently false.

    The Catalyst AI is completely incongruous with the narrative and the themes of the game. It shows up, provides a complete strawman of a conflict, and then offers three vapid, plot-hole ridden resolutions to this conflict, which abruptly end the narrative in a blinding flash of Space Magic (pick your color!).

    Posted: March 13, 2012 9:58 PM
    unbias
  • unbias

    UNIGOLYN / 1:34PM

    DEUS EX MACHINA:

    You're getting your literary devices mixed up. The Crucible is not deus ex machina, it is a MacGuffin. It's largely irrelevant except as a plot device. It is the exhaust port on the Death Star.

    The narrative of ME3 is not about finding the Crucible, it is about building the greatest alliance ever seen in the galaxy (which the Crucible, as a plot device, allows to happen).

    Why the Catalyst AI and his Monty Hall spiel of the Adjust Hue/Saturation is a deus ex machina is that it is the resolution to the narrative. The fact that he is also literally a "god from the machine" is irrelevant, albeit ironic. He is a deus ex machina in the literary sense, i.e. a handwaved contrivance that shows up out of the blue to quickly whisk away all the dangling story threads, and to abruptly end the story.

    This is abysmal writing. This is abysmal game design; a Pick Your Own Adventure book where all choices take you to the same final chapter. It is counter to everything this game is. And what is this game?

    In a recent Extra Credits, Portnow discussed core elements of a game. The Mass Effect series is really not a third person shooter. It is also really not a roll-the-dice-and-level-up CRPG. Mass Effect is, at its core, interactive fiction. All the memorable moments in these games take place in cutscenes that play out in myriad ways based on prior choices. You are role-playing in the most literal sense of crafting a character's personality based on your choices. The climax of Mass Effect 2 was not shooting the Human Reaper in the eye, the climax of Mass Effect 2 were the cutscenes that played and showed the results of your actions. Did you defy TIM? Did your crewmates survive? If your choices were poor enough, you could defeat the final boss, only to make a desperate leap towards the Normandy with no one to catch you.

    The desperate leap in Mass Effect 3 is your dash towards the Beam. The only input that matters at all past this point is the encounter with TIM. That encounter is true to Mass Effect, and honors your previous choices, and provides closure for the secondary antagonist.

    But for the main antagonist (Reapers), nothing you did matters. You are given three arbitrary choices to solve a problem that, depending on your actions, may be proven to be a false dilemma in the first place. If you saved both the Quarians and the Geth, witnessed Legion's messianic sacrifice, and humanized EDI - the Catalyst's claim of organic/synthetic conflict being unavoidable is patently false.

    The Catalyst AI is completely incongruous with the narrative and the themes of the game. It shows up, provides a complete strawman of a conflict, and then offers three vapid, plot-hole ridden resolutions to this conflict, which abruptly end the narrative in a blinding flash of Space Magic (pick your color!).

    Posted: March 13, 2012 9:57 PM
    unbias
  • Terrisletix

    I would love to hear your take on the Childs Play donation drive that has collected 20,000 dollars in less than 11 hours from fans who want adjusted endings. That to me, is history in the making in our industry and concerning fans.

    http://retakemasseffect.chip in.com/retake-mass-effect-chil ds-play

    Posted: March 13, 2012 9:28 PM
    Terrisletix
  • CheerleaderKratos

    All I will say is the indoctrination theory is one of the biggest copouts ever. I can't believe fans are willing to believe that "it is all just a dream" would make a better ending. I would be even more upset with Bioware if this is indeed the case. You want an ending that destroys the franchise, then look no further than the indoctrination theory. If this were only one of many possible outcomes, fine, but as a whole for the series, I don't want it and I don't like it anymore than what I received. I am perfectly happy with the Synthesis ending I chose. I'm willing to listen to the complaints being lodged, but there comes a point when all they show is how entitled the fans think they are. I agree with you Adam that we need to let "sinners be sinners".

    Posted: March 13, 2012 9:14 PM
    CheerleaderKratos
  • ajax32

    I'm about half way through. I'm not worried about the ending.. Mostly because I remember reading about some BioWare dev. saying that you might want to save you ME3 save file.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 8:55 PM
    ajax32
  • knivetsil

    *Spoilers below*

    Adam,

    Thanks for trying to make me feel better about the ending of Mass Effect 3. At the end of my first playthrough, I felt profoundly disappointed, primarily because there was no payoff to the relationships I had built with the characters throughout the game and the trilogy. The moment I enjoyed most in the game were the times when I was paid off in character actions for previous experiences with them. Mordin singing Gilbert and Sulivan as he died atop the tower, curing the genophage. Or Legion referring to himself as "I" as he sacrificed himself to give souls to the geth. Or even smaller moments, like an exasperated Shepard telling Conrad Verner "Don't do anything!", before Conrad finally manages to be helpful in his own way. Each of these moments was powerful because they paid off a previously existing relationship - one that had made me care about what happened to these characters. And to Bioware's credit, almost all of these payoffs were executed perfectly.

    This is precisely why the ending was so devastating for me. None of the previous relationships got paid off. If the ending had been taken completely out of context - if I had played the last 30 minutes of the game knowing nothing about any of the characters beforehand - it would have felt exactly the same. Bioware had a huge opportunity with this ending to pay off all the relationships you've been building throughout the trilogy in a huge way. Even a simple slide show, Fallout 3-style, would have paid dividends. Instead, there is little to no mention of any of the characters in the ending; instead, you are faced with a Deus Ex-style, grandiose choice to determine the fate of a galaxy you don't care about nearly as much as you care about a dozen or so specific people in that galaxy, whom you will never see again.

    You make an interesting point, in that if video games are to be considered art, then we must give the artist creative license. However, the reality is that video games, if they are art, are a very commercialized form of art, especially in the case of a highly-marketed game by a large, established developer such as this. In order to retain their customer base, Bioware needs to be responsive to the demands of the market. If the ending of Mass Effect 3 really is exactly as the developers intended it to be on an artistic level, then the developers must choose between bending their artistic vision to suit their consumer base or losing a segment of said consumer base. Such is the case for any artist that hopes to be commercially successful. In any case, I don't feel like gamers are doing Bioware a disservice by petitioning them to change the ending, particularly since any such change would likely come in the form of DLC that we would have to pay for anyway. I don't feel like Bioware "owes" me anything; I chose to buy the game and invest dozens of hours playing it. If that was a mistake, then it was a mistake on my part for having too much faith in Bioware's ability to make games exactly the way I like them. Still, if enough people feel the way I feel, market pressures will make themselves felt one way or another, and if Bioware hopes to retain customer loyalty, they will need to do something to assuage the angry masses.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 8:36 PM
    knivetsil
  • Luke_nx01

    "Let the art be art"
    That's just it! The ending (which I won't spoil) goes against the central artistic element of the game: choice and result. It eliminats the effect of any choice, and doesn't include a choice for a paragon player.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 8:36 PM
    Luke_nx01
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