So, here we are. After much outcry, wailing of lamentations and gnashing of teeth we finally have the extended ending to Mass Effect 3. It was promised that this ending would give greater detail into what had already been shown, and also address some of the key issues fans had with the original ending. So, does it make the grade?
As always, spoilers ahead.
I’ll say, after a good deal of thought, yes. My reasoning is thus. Three major issues were solved in this extended cut. Issue number one: We now have an explanation for why Joker was running away in the Normandy. It bothered me greatly, as I’m sure it did others, that Joker and the crew would simply turn tail and run while Shepard was doing the hero thing. I mean, what’s up with that? Where’s the band of brother’s comaraderie? But with the extended cut we now see why he was running, and that he had to be convinced to leave. This is a great improvement. As an addendum to this, you can also evacuate your ground team to the Normandy, explaining how the hell they got there when they were fighting down on earth with Shepard.
Second, we see that Normandy actually taking off from the planet it crashed on. Fantastic! That means the members of the crew that don’t operate on the same D.N.A. as the humans don’t starve to death. This is good, because I love Tali and Garrus to death and the idea they were slowly wasting away on some alien planet surrounded by food they couldn’t eat pissed me off. It seems like the people are Bioware were a little confused as to how the fans could come to this conclusion, but come on! The ship had crashed, it was beat up and we never saw it take off again. What were we supposed to think? This is a welcome change.
Third, and related somewhat to the bit above, is that the Mass Effect Relays are fixed. This is either done by the Reapers themselves, controlled by Shepard or convinced thanks to Synthesis, or by the rest of the surviving races even if it takes a while. While this is good, because it means galactic civilization doesn’t just crumble, the more important aspect of it is that the Relays didn’t blow up. As we saw in the Arrival DLC for Mass Effect 2, when a Relay blows up it pretty much goes supernova and destroys a solar system’s worth of space. The original ending implied, almost outright showed really, that the Relays had blown up. This would have killed billions. Now they merely broke after releasing their energy. It’s nice to know that Shepard’s choice didn’t kill more people in one go than the Reapers ever did throughout the entire series.
There are still some issues, of course. The endings now have significantly more variety between them than they did before, but that’s not really saying much when the bar is set that low. There are still some similarities between all the endings, and while it does make you feel that each ending is more unique there’s still a lingering sense of pick your different colored light. That’s my one lingering gripe, to be honest. However, there is now sufficient variety between the endings to greatly improve the overall experience. So I can easily live with this.
Hell, there’s even a fourth ending where you can refuse all the options given to you by the Star Child. Granted, this ends with the destruction of all races this cycle with the message that another race thousands of years later picked up where you left off. This does give a feeling of Bioware flipping the bird to their fans for all the noise they raised, but I think we can forgive them this. Overall, I have to say these extended endings are a massive improvement. I have to wonder, though. Why didn’t Bioware just give these endings in the first place? It really does imply that the original endings were rushed, and I think that if they’d just taken the time to do it this way there would have been significantly fewer bad feelings from fans in general. Maybe it was executive pressure? Whatever the case, we have the new endings and they’re free. That’s a victory for the fans, right there.