So, three months have gone by – in which time the Mass Effect fandom has seemingly simultaneously imploded and exploded in the shit-storm that ensured after people played the end of the game (see my previous post Critial Mission Failure for more insight if you’re not sure what I’m talking about).
During this time, Bioware has been rather quiet, apart from eventually announcing that they’d release some free DLC to add “closure”. Even their community managers eventually disappeared from their own forums – not really a good sign, although after weeks of various Bioware bods saying “Yes, we’re listening to your feedback, don’t worry” – one particular employee posted a message (paraphrased here because I can’t find the original) “Just because we’re listening to you, it doesn’t mean we’re taking what you say on board“. Fantastic skills there…
Anyway, yesterday (26th June), Bioware released the previously mentioned free DLC.
It’s a hefty download and is primarily made up of a few additional cutscenes towards the end of the game, a few extra dialogue options during the final scene and some epilogues based on your end-game decision. Saying that it does add a brand new FOURTH ending to the game, one that a lot of fans had wanted – the ability to reject the original three (RGB) endings. Unfortunately this comes across as a bit of a “Fuck you for not liking our story” in the way it’s handled…
It doesn’t sound like a lot, and when you see it, you have to wonder why all this wasn’t in the game from the beginning. None of it is particularly ground breaking, none of it adds anything of the ‘oh my god that’s a revelation!’, it all seems to be there to add detail to the story they were originally trying to tell but were, for some reason, unable to coherently get across to their audience.
This in itself is a worrying fact. They were writing a story in a universe they had created to fans of said universe and were unable to tell the story sufficiently clearly for people to ‘get it’. Nevermind the fact that this story is inherently weak and flawed and inconsistent with the established lore and history of said universe.
There are a few telling changes that really highlight the original flaws though, the explosions of the citadel and mass relays are changed, you no longer see them explode completely, just partially – thus making clear that you haven’t just exterminated all life in the known galaxy. There is additional dialogue with the catalyst that helps shine some light on just who and what this character is (although sadly, not in any where near enough detail to actually explain very much).
The DLC achieves what it was set out to do – it adds clarity and closure. This it does very well, it’s just a bit sad that it add’s clarity and closure to a story that a lot of the fans just didn’t enjoy.
As to the changes to the three main endings…
Red – Destroy – Confirms that all synthetic life is wiped out (Edi, Geth, Reapers) but tech remains. Relays are severely damaged but not completely destroyed. All the races (somehow) manage to get home. No galactic dark age.
Green – Synthesis – all life, biological and synthetic are given a common genetic structure (machine based life has genetics? wtf?) – all this genetic rewriting still goes on without anyone else’s consent and still stinks of a hideous form of genetic rape to create a unified superior lifeform. It’s made even worse as the DLC reveals that all the Reaper-ised creatures (Husks, Marauders etc) gain freedom and sentience. I will just remind you that there are Reaperised Batarian’s out there who have a gun cannon for an arm – a gun cannon made up of a human being… this is pure horror stuff on so many levels. This ending is still presented as “the best ending” by the game.
Blue – Control – you now learn that a virtual version of Shep now controls the Reapers, using them as guardians of the galaxy and utilising their billions of years of knowledge and technology to repair all the damage that has been done to the Galaxy and make everyone’s lives as good as he can – this includes rebuilding devastated worlds and fixing up the Mass Relays.
Ultimately, in conclusion – does the ‘Extended Cut’ make things better?
Yes, in that in tries to explain some of the bigger plot holes and undoes some of the exceedingly misleading things that were shown previously. However, in my humble opinion it does not fix the basically poor ending that we were originally given.