So as everyone across the internet seems to be sharing their reactions about the new Mass Effect 3 DLC, “Extended Cut”, I figure I will chip in my two-cents as well. I have already talked for hours about the game before this DLC, so check that out here.
I have gone back and re-finished the game, as well as watched all other endings on the internet, so I am about to break into spoiler territory, just fair warning everyone.
Ready for spoilers? You sure? Okay.
So I will first put it out there that I actually did enjoy the things they have added to the ending, the short scenes here and there that I can now, in retrospect, see that the team at Bioware very much wanted to imply, they just didn’t quite deliver them.
I went into this not expecting the “Indoctrination Theory” ending to be realised because Bioware all but said it was a ‘good guess’ in their response to the theory after their panel at PAX East. Maybe I read into their comment too much, but suffice to say, the new endings throw that theory out the window regardless.
The endings, all of them, focus on elaborating on what really happened after the use of the catalyst, while also elaborating on some thing that went “unspoken” in the ending before. For example, when charging toward the beam, it is shown that Shepard’s two squad mates (in my case, Garrus and Liara, my love interest) were hurt badly, so he had to call the Normandy in for an emergency evac. This makes a lot more sense than them just showing up on the Normandy with no explanation at all. This is the one scene out of everything that I think really needed to be in the original ending, as everything else, as I’ll get to later, was pretty well implied, save for maybe one or two things. Regardless, the evac scene was very well done, and when Shepard said goodbye to his love interest for what he clearly knew was the last time in my game, it broke my heart. I’m very curious to see what it would be like for FemShep and Garrus.
Moving forward, the next big difference was the alteration to the dialogue between the catalyst child and Shepard. There was definitely a lot more explanation, like explaining what the crucible actually is, which is a power source that allows to Citadel to send these Christmas-coloured lights out, and what truly happens in the Synthesis and Control endings, which were very ambiguous before. This was a much simpler addition, and I think the ending definitely benefited from it, but was still pretty fine without it. I would say this isn’t quite “essential”, just very preferred.
Now onto the “Refusal”.
Little known fact: when I first finished the game, I did choose the Destroy ending, but I also shot up the catalyst boy for shits and giggles, and that did nothing before. Well, now it does something.
I did it again, for God knows why, and found myself in a fourth, completely new ending. This is basically Shepard’s, “hey fuck you!” to the Reapers and their freaky glowing super-child, and has the game end with everyone dying. Woops.
I was laughing through this ending, as I didn’t think it would happen at all. Suffice to say, it’s not a bad ending. I mean, it is a bad ending, but it’s good quality, for sure. The cycle ends, everyone dies, and the next cycle finds Liara’s neato message, and by some means, using that information, stops the Reapers, and create a brighter future. Nice touch, I gotta say.
But back to my real ending. After boringly sitting through all the dialogue again, I jumped back in and did my Destruction ending, though the new dialogue makes you feel like an idiot for not choosing the Synthesis option, which I don’t know how I feel about. The destroy option revealed the death of all synthetics (including EDI, unfortunately), and once you get into these real endings, you start seeing the real new additions to the end.
The biggest changes were that one, the relays are clearly not as fucked as they were in the original ending, where they are seen exploding violently, and two, the Normandy’s escape no longer looks like it almost completely destroys the ship, and seems much more calm now. Two subtle touches, but definitely required. Bioware said they weren’t changing the ending, but maybe these changes are them admitting they agree that their interpretation of the ending may have been stretching it a bit.
Other than that, the only added scene of any length was one where Hackett explains the galaxy has a lot of work to do, but they’ll do it gladly now that they have a chance to live. There are some other added scenes like still shots of old squadmates, the Reapers dying on Thesia, and human being assaulted by a husk and then saved by Christmas lights. Weirdly enough, the confusing “body taking a breath” scene is still viewable, but judging by what I’ve been hearing, everyone who picks Destroy gets it now, not just those with enough readiness.
Overall nice additions, and though even the new endings remain largely the same (similar scenes just with a different person doing voice over), the meaning is much clearer, and much stronger now.
The strongest ending I thought was actually the Control ending. It has voice over by this new “Shepard”, whose essence has be distributed to the Reapers, making him essentially what the Catalyst was. He explains that he now understands sacrifice, and will do what his human self never could: use the Reaper’s powers to rebuild the Mass Relays and the destroyed homes of the many races. He also says he wishes to protect those he loved. I found this very moving, because it felt like Shepard watched over everyone from then on, instead of dissipated into an idea like in the Synthesis ending.
I felt a lot of closure at the end of this DLC, and maybe I’m alone on that front, maybe not. It felt like a bow on an already pretty good-looking present, it’s just a lot nicer and a lot neater now.
Loved or hated the Extended Cut DLC? Let me know by emailing me at Alex@IrrationalPassions.com and have your thoughts read on the next Irrational Passions Podcast.
I think the synthesis ending was the best. EDI survives. Shepard becomes immortal. Anyone see a correlation to religion in Shepard’s death, resurrection, and life eternal? Shepard sacrifices himself so that many may be “saved” and in doing so, becomes incredibly powerful and godlike. Also, the significance of Bioware giving the commander the name Shepard. No first name. A herder of people, in effect, himself a collector (Oh the irony). Interesting that this was the choice the illusive man wanted all along, but he did not have Shepard’s strength, character, or conviction and was indoctrinated. It appears Shepard escaped that fate (I think). In the synthesis conclusion, Shepard says he is “the man who fought to become the one who could lead the many”. It is interesting however that the synthesis and destroy options both lead to damage to the mass relays and leave many civilizations back in the “stone age” before interstellar space flight. If Shepard chooses not to accept the options the catalyst gives him/her, humanity is obliterated but future civilizations use the collective knowledge gained to defeat the reapers and the relays are undisturbed. There are questions I still have, but that’s what DLC is for I guess. The endings are alot better than what was previously offered, that’s for sure.
I really like this thought man. The religious implications of the ending are very significant, agreed. I really do like the full-circle use of the name “Shepard”, and how to the future civilizations, he becomes the legend known as “The Shepard”. Its a nice touch, and may be the hokiest part about the ending, buy also one of my favorites.