The 4th Wall: Integrity Test

Well, gamers, today is the big day.  June 26, 2012 marks the day that the extended ending for BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 is released for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.  After months of debate, discussion,  and argument, we are finally going to see what our choices across three great games amount to.  BioWare says they have listened to fans and worked to give us the closure for which they have clamored.  I think that by releasing this extended ending, they have given us much more terrible than closure.

In order to understand the ending controversy, we need to go back to the franchise’s beginings.  Mass Effect was released by Bioware who always intended for it to be a trilogy of games.  Their promise was that everything decision you made would affect the overall ending.  Your actions, your conversations: it all would have an effect on the conclusion.  Mass Effect 2 came out and you saw firsthand the consequences of your actions from the first game.  When Mass Effect 3 was released earlier this year, gamers were promised that they would experience a unique conclusion based on their decisions from the previous games.  My ending would be completely different than my wife’s ending.  Then, as you would expect, excited fans. started completing the game.  They met the AI God-Child and were given three choices (or fewer) to make.

That’s when the outcry began.

People were miffed.  Actually, miffed may be too light a word.  People were royally pissed.  BioWare’s forums were exploding.  Gamers threatened to never play BioWare games again, claiming they were lied to.  Someone even filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau claiming false advertising.

In response to this outcry, BioWare caved and is now releasing an extension to the Mass Effect 3 ending.  They have stated it will not change the way the game ends, but only expand upon what actually happens.  They are hoping it will provide closure for fans.

This brings me to the most important part of this article: my opinion.  I played through all three games one time each.  I wanted the decisions I made at the time I made them to determine how things ended for Commander Shepherd.  So, imagine my surprise when I got to the final area and was given three different choices to determine the fate of the universe.  After I made my choice and saw the ending, I took some time to think about it.  At first, before I beat the game, I was against the outcry against BioWare.  After I beat the game, I was disappointed that my expectations weren’t met.  Yet, despite my anguish, I still did not get involved in the outcry.

As a writer, I think that a story needs to be delivered the way the author intended.  BioWare’s team of writers went with the ending(s) they went with for a reason.  I would never ask them to compromise their integrity because I was unhappy with their choices.  I hated the epilogue at the end of the last Harry Potter book.  It seemed tacked on and didn’t stand with the rest of the story.  Yes, it wrapped everything up, but it just seemed that J.K. Rowling decided to add it last minute.  However, that was her choice.  As the creator of that universe, she had the right to do what she wanted with it.  I would never dream of asking her to change it based on my opinion.

Not only does extending the ending compromise BioWare’s integrity, I feel it sets a very dangerous precedent for the industry.  Fans now know that if they complain enough, they can change things to suit their own needs.  Mass Effect 3’s ending was supposed to be the culmination of three games worth of choices.  So, now, if a large enough group of people don’t like something in a game, they can get it changed.  This doesn’t happen in film after the film is released or inliterature after the book is published.  What gives gamers the right to demand an ending is changed?  Before the existence of DLC, you were given an ending and dealt with it.  Some games just thanked you for playing.  Where did this sense of entitlement come from?  I don’t get what we did to deserve to be entitled to anything.  We didn’t work for hundreds of hours.  We didn’t sacrifice time with our families in a creative endeavor.  All we did was spend a little bit of money and complain loudly.

So, now the extended ending is coming out.  BioWare has tried to answer the outcry.  Is it going to be enough?  My guess is, probably not.  Some people may be okay with the extended endings.  Many will still complain.  The added scenes may even make things worse and create a whole new outcry.  BioWare has sold their soul to make their fans happy, and I don’t think it will have the effect that the company intended.  Gamers have becomes a spoiled group with a sense of entitlement when, in fact, we should be happy that we are able to play so many great games.  Enjoy the extended endings, gamers.  It’s more than we deserve.

-The 4th Wall is an imaginary barrier that separates a particular medium from its audience.  It is also a weekly column on Vagary.tv born from the Just In Bailey column, written by Joey Alesia.  Each week, Joey looks at video games and the industry as a whole and works to break the 4th Wall armed with over 25 years of gaming knowledge and a twisted sense of humor.  Be sure to follow Joey on Twitter (@wrkngclsswrtr) or email him at Joey.Alesia@Vagary.tv.

 

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Author: Joey Alesia View all posts by
Joey's adventure into the realm of video games began at 3 when Nintendo first hit the West. He grew up a Nintendo fan and ended up branching out to Playstation when FF7 hit and XBox when Oblivion hit the 360. He's not huge on first person shooters or sports games but definitely enjoys a good RPG or survival horror game. His all-time favorite series is definitely The Legend of Zelda, followed extremely closely by Metal Gear. Joey has a firm belief that games should be treated with respect when they are made and that the classics should never be overlooked.