“Still a better ending than Mass Effect 3….”

Still a better ending than Mass Effect 3

For the record, I corrected a spelling error on the original version…

Erik and I have had occasion to remark somewhat harshly on the now infamous ending to Mass Effect 3, and I’ve come across something that I think further illustrates our points.  I saw this meme the other day–one of many–and it made me laugh enough to post it to Facebook.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was the literal, if sad, truth.  The bouncing cards at the end of Windows Solitare, which have been around since Windows was dependent on DOS, illustrate how to end a game, story, or challenge, better than what we were actually sold in Mass Effect 3 back in March.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Solitaire’s ending provides a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment appropriate to its level to the average participant.*  You feel like your several tries to get to the end have been rewarded and acknowledged.  We got none of that in the ending of ME 3.
  • The ending is consistent with the tone and feel of the rest of the piece.  This fact is so simple in relation to Solitaire that I know I had never considered it before.  It is a small challenge with an appropriate reward that follows in the specific theme of the game.  ME 3 was the end of an epic series with a reward that was unfitting to its scope and the magnitude of its experience.
  • It is a complete ending.  The participant isn’t left with a slew of unanswered questions–questions that apparently have answers that no one bothered to provide.  Ending with unknowns is of course OK, so long as you intend to continue the story.  Unfortunately, both Solitaire and ME 3 are supposed to be decisive culminations to the participant’s specific efforts.  Solitaire comes through; ME 3 falls flat.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the end of Solitaire, small (and even petty) though it may be, leaves the participant ready to give it another shot.  People play Solitaire more than once specifically to see the end.  The ending of ME 3 was so underwhelming and disappointing, that most participants I know–myself included–continue to play the game on occasion in spite of the ending, rather than because of it.

But perhaps all is not lost. There are some brilliant minds at Bioware, and I just can’t bring myself to believe that even they think that what they gave us was as good as they claim to think it was.  I can’t help thinking that there has to be another shoe yet to drop.**

Anyone else rooting for Indoctrination? *Sigh*

__________

*I’m intentionally using the word “participant” instead of “player” here.  I think that these principle are broadly applicable to everything from games to movies to books to management, and I don’t want my language to pigeonhole me.

**I think it might be worth noting that Bioware continues to insist that they will stay true to the “original vision” for the ending.  That doesn’t sound encouraging.  Then again, if the “original vision” included something more up their sleeve, anything might happen!

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About Brian

I am a history professor and author living with my family in the Virginia Mountains. It's hard to improve on a life like this!

Posted on May 26, 2012, in Brian Melton, Mass Effect, Plot, Science Fantasy, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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