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The Legendary Legacy of the Mass Effect series

Friendships, family, courage, lament, control and sacrifice are probably the concepts that the Mass Effect series touched the most with the time I spent with it. Being exact, almost a month ago I finished the long and most awaited threequel and conclusion of the year. Mass Effect 3 was many things; a whole lot of them were positive, memorable and admirable. It had its downsides, just as we would come to expect from anything nowadays, and it had its dark moments, but these last ones were mostly on behalf of the fan base. But I'm not here to talk about that, again.

It's been long and it seems the storm has finally calmed, now rarely do I see a Mass Effect 3 news on a website's front page, or a hateful comment towards the "sucky" now clichéd ending because of how many times it was mentioned. The people have been satisfied. Something new and big will probably go down in the summer, it'll be either the most satisfying reunion between fans and developers alike, or it's going straight downhill creating another hell hole. Or, as most of the times, it'll just stay in the middle. In a neutral point. Some will like it and appreciate it; some will hate it and downright despise it. But we all have different ways of thinking, and we're all different.

Mass Effect 3, like I said, was many things. But if I had to choose one word to describe it, it would be poignant. The last game in the trilogy was full of big and small moments, moments that would end up very different in each playthrough. Whereas you had a happy, joyful moment with someone or something in the game, someone else was getting the exact opposite, instead receiving a remorseful, tragic and regretted moment.

ME3 differs in really great numbers and it's something astounding and admirable. You are guaranteed to always being witness of seeing something new every fresh playthrough you start. That's, if, you decide to be different. If you decide to take this option instead of the other one, to pick this dialogue instead of the original Paragon you made before, or talking or taking someone from your crew to a place you hadn't take him/her before. It varies and it varies in a really special way. There are a lot of things unseen from everyone on this saga.

The Mass Effect games have been a journey, a one of a kind journey across all of gaming. The least I could mention about why it's so special is the implementation of the decision-carrying to the next game. That was truly unique in our medium and really inspiring for even greater works and ideas in the coming future. And like I said in my first Mass Effect blog from me a couple months ago, the Mass Effect series have been characterized to me as a memorable journey, one where you actually feel and care about the places and people you've seen and met. Of course, this wouldn't be as good if it wasn't for the undeniable talent, passion and love Bioware has put into the game and for us. It is truly admirable.

I still remember when I finished Mass Effect. It was an unforgettable moment for me, as I wrapped up the first entry of what would become one of my favorite series, I didn't had a clue of what the second one would hold for me and suddenly, the ending credits hit. The song from the first's Mass Effect credits is one of the best songs I've heard from a videogame. I remember how amazing that moment was, wrapping all of the problems caused by the Geth, Saren, Sovereign; saving the Council and most importantly, finishing what would be the first big fight of the trilogy so I could see the galaxy live and I could fight another day. Then the song blasted through my TV, as I sat there amazed by the song and by finishing one of the greatest and most unique games I've played to date, I felt really, really satisfied.

And as I finished Mass Effect 2 my excitement and understanding towards the last game in the series grew exponentially and enormously. The Suicide Mission song at the end of the credits was sublime; it was in all the sense of the word: memorable.

Now I have finished Mass Effect 3. Many things happened at the end, many of which my understanding was limited, but that did not matter. As I stared into the credits for the third and last time in the series I felt an overwhelming amount of sentiments towards the series.

I had one word pictured in my mind and one word only.

It was not unforgettable.

And it wasn't memorable.

After wrapping up an entire galaxy of histories within the game, after having concluded the dozens of story arcs that grew throughout the games and as I finally left and purged all of my feelings that I had grew from the series since 2007;

I was absolutely sure of the word I had in mind:

Legendary.

-Commander.

Mass Effects are like event games. So many of them happen through your perspective, and you are most of the times in charge of what and how they will develop and eventually, conclude. The Mass Effect games were really personal games, so much to the point one would feel the owner and the absolute owner of their own playthrough. You would invest many feelings, sentiments, thoughts and decisions from your behalf, from your personality, from you. That's what made Mass Effect a universally loved series, but in the long run, its also what made it the most memorable from other games.

You could say each ME playthrough resembled the person behind it, who they talked to, who they romanced, who they did not talk to or romanced, or if anyone. And how much time and dedication went into the series from their part. That's a really interesting and efficient way of trying to look behind one's true self. Because, we all play Mass Effect not collectively, but alone. Apart of making the experience have a more continuous and safer flow by playing alone, you can savor and reflect on every little thing you do, by yourself without any other third party bothering you.

The suspension of disbelief in Mass Effect is truly powerful, it forces you to accept the current bi-dimensional image that it's presenting you and take it as your new reality. When you delve deep into this game, you delve deep. It's really gratifying and a really unique chain of sense and emotions. Sadly, this kind of things come really rare nowadays, and with the Mass Effect series now over who knows how much time until the next big thing starts. Kind of discouraging knowing we'll have to wait at least a couple more years until the start of the next popular decision-carrying series by Bioware, and that's if they ever decide to continue with that idea, but I strongly think they are going to look further down that concept in enough time.

Was it sad for me seeing the Mass Effect series end before my eyes? Yes it was. Maybe not completely sad but kind of a "I'll miss you" feeling. I really don't know how to define it right now, but when I finished Mass Effect 3 I knew before hand it was going to be a special conclusion for a trilogy and I would probably feel sad once I finished it, and I was right. Seeing the universe of Mass Effect ending with that final song, "An End Once And For All", was both really satisfactory and sad at the same time. The song at the end credits of ME3 is also one of my favorites, for me it's a really powerful piece and it caused probably what Bioware exactly wanted with it, it made me and it forced me to remember the past games and all the things I looked, enjoyed and laughed at. When taken in that context it's a really powerful song, or at least it was for me. It makes you reflect of what you just went through and did, but once it's over you realize maybe you didn't enjoy the universe as much as you should have done.

But it's now over, and it's really not that tragic and sad seeing everything end. Any time of the day or year you can restart your journey once again, from the very beginning. Now you will not only appreciate your travels even more and reflect deeper on everything that goes on screen, but now you will be able of taking different paths and choices, taking that into ME2 and finally into ME3 all over again. Of course, it's a vicious cycle, a second playthrough of the game may not cause the same heavy feelings like the first time, but ending something is always and will always leave all feelings and things behind but it will leave one inside you: memories. And that's probably with everything that occurs in life.

Inevitably, I'm gonna have to talk about Mass Effect 3's ending, and to be honest, in a blog like this, it's kind of obligatory. So for those that have yet to finish it I'm going to mark the next paragraphs until where they end so you can skip all these spoilery stuff and continue the reading later on. While the ones that have finished can come together on what was almost a universal feeling seeing the last moments of the Mass Effect series.

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Very well. This is probably the part I've been most wanting to write since I finished the game, so I can finally leave all of my feelings behind and move on.

Talking about Mass Effect 3's ending is especially important for me since it became one of my favorite and most poignant endings ever in a medium. Maybe all of the talk and controversy about the game's end before I had even finished it might have affected a tiny bit on my overall reception of the game, but nonetheless, I loved it.

Seeing Shepard go was probably harder than I thought, but I'm already too far ahead. I want to begin reflecting about it since the start of the mission to take back Earth.

The game had teased you not only all through Mass Effect 3 how bloody and probably scarring the battle for Earth would be, but throughout all of the series too. You would be facing against these incommensurable enemies that no one ever before had managed to stop. At time one would ask oneself and so would Shepard, if we would actually be capable of bringing them down and I loved that. Bioware really nailed that feeling of hopelessness and how dangerous and how many sacrifices would probably go into the final battle for Earth. Starting the mission and already seeing Earth almost like a wasteland was disheartening, only later to see my pilot, Cortez, brought down by enemy fire. And that was just the beginning.

Continuing through almost the 2 hour mission and you could see things just kept seeing worse and worse not matter how hard you would try, it troubled me. And as I started to remember all of the negative feedback the ending was getting from the fans I began to actually feel scared of thinking what the hell would happen to my crew, Shepard or Earth at the end that was so horrifying or depressing it began that enormous controversy.

But I kept going and the mission kept being great. It didn't disappoint in the way of desperate survival, which was nailed really well. I was also worried of my crew, I knew the people I would take with me would suffer and would most probably die, but incredibly, the game made me choose my squad not by statistics or by how strong they were, but by how close I was to them. In the end I chose Garrus (of course) and Ashley. I actually wanted to take Tali with me since she was my romance and I thought maybe there would be a really emotional and personal moment between us two, but I decided taking Ashley of fear seeing Tali getting gunned down in a cutscene by the Reapers.

The scene with the allied forces combating against a giant Reaper in the middle of an apartment complex made me especially nervous at seeing how quickly and easy the forces I had rallied would go down. I felt sad for them, but there would be casualties and I knew that. Inevitable, it was.

And finally after destroying the Reaper with the 2 missiles and we reach the most enigmatic, epic and for me, one of my favorite moments in the end of a game.

Here you are, only thing left is to make the last push with your crew and your long-known friend, Anderson. How the game puts you in that moment and how it builds towards it made the event to be so epic for me. You are running down this hill of death accompanied with your fellow soldiers and assets as well as your team and Anderson. It made me cautious of actually reaching the beam and making it to the Citadel with most of the people alive. As a game, evading the lasers was an easy task and I had a little confidence in actually making it to the beam. But before I fully realized it, everything went to sh*t so fast.

I get hit by a Reaper, I wake up, and I was already getting hurt inside me from what I was witnessing. Seeing my own Shepard so damaged and all bloody really made that moment to stay with me. He's been an admirable figure throughout the series which I have constructed and have always made sure to see him triumphant in every aspect. And until that moment we both were winners. Not even the Geth or Sovereign or the Collectors left a scratch in us. But just the moment where we're facing off against the biggest threat known to any life form I get to see my Shepard so weary and near-death by Harbinger. That really hit me hard.

And as I slowly walk towards the beam and I see all of the people that ran down the hill with me all dead made me feel really hopeless about the end and the initial fear I had was just about to complete itself. But then something probably even worse happened, I saw the dead bodies surrounded by blood of Garrus and Ashley. That was, to be honest, pretty traumatizing. Seeing the dead body without any trace of life and without a head of Garrus surrounded by his blood and sniper and just to later on see the dead body of another old comrade completely obliterated by the Reaper laser, Ashley, really sunk my hopes for a victorious ending. Garrus, such a close friend and old pal laying there, life-less. It hit me pretty hard.

At last I make it to the beam, still struggling and walking in the face of death, my Shepard still carried on. But, he was all alone. I was all alone. And the mere scene of him using his remaining energy to run straight into the beam is another scene that will probably never leave my mind. That moment made Shepard look so heroic.

And this just to briefly be accompanied by the appearance of the "Patriot" achievement on-screen. "Make the final assault." Perfect timing.

My thoughts towards the ending were both hoping that it would be absolutely epic and memorable and the other that hopefully wouldn't be too crushing or depressing. Even though at that point the game it was already massively depressing for me. Of course, these are all good things. Not bad things or complaints.

Once on the Citadel and seeing all of the dismembered body parts really added to the environment. Rarely do you see dismemberment on Mass Effect, or ever. Traveling through the dark corridors and finally onto the platform of that unknown part in the Citadel was mysterious and worrying.

Skipping all of the talk between Shepard, Anderson and a controlled Illusive Man; we finally arrive to the most controversial, enigmatic, mysterious, weird, and another of my favorite sequences of all time in a game and of Mass Effect 3. The moment with The Catalyst.

Before seeing Shepard and Anderson give their final goodbyes to each other after so many years of being together was really sad. And I'll say I teared up a little in this moment, my eyes got watery. It was a really closing-circle moment for the Mass Effect series. Seeing one of your closest friends finally succumb into death moments away of activating the Catalyst and hopefully winning the war was tear-worthy.

But it's not over yet, oh no it is not. I get treated with a really mysteriously symbolic sequence in the middle of the Reaper war. In the middle of space.

The Catalyst, this ghostly presence in the form of a kid shows up to me giving me one of the most confusing lectures I've heard in a videogame. The kid begins talking about the old life and the new life, and the synthetics against organics and how the Reapers are the force that can put order to this chaos across the universe. And suddenly before I even know it, I'm given the ultimate pick of choice, of intergalactic proportions, by the game. Control the Reapers or Destroy them (for some reason the first time I didn't had Synthesis. Even though I had 4800 war assets and 98% readiness) And here I was all confused, walking on a platform in the middle of space with a gigantic war going on, and for worse or better, this dramatic, tense and hair-lifting music trying to describe how gigantic the decision is kicks in.

Of course, it was too much. And that forms part of why I love the ending so much, because of how unforgettable, memorable and legendary it was.

Finally I chose the Destroy option. And this is where the climax of the entire Mass Effect series happens for me, witnessing the final moments of my Shepard going down in a blaze of glory, of performing the ultimate sacrifice for the supreme good. "An End Once and For All" kicks in, the game begins to show you the faces of your crew that now you know you will never get to see again, like if they were the image of an old dream. Seeing Joker saying goodbye, as well as a now deceased Anderson and the always cute and sympathetic Liara taking part in the last chain of characters you get to remember before you ultimately die by the explosion. It was really all too much. By this time, I was already in tears. This moment hasn't repeated since Red Dead Redemption's ending, and more recently but in less force, with a certain moment half-way in Gears of War 3. What was going on in my screen was the end of it all, of everything I knew. I was starting to realize the Mass Effect series that I had started since 2007 was seconds of finally concluding. Forever.

Next in line of the Make-you-cry-until-no-tears-r'-left Mass Effect 3 ending tour, was witnessing all of the galaxy mass effect relays getting destroyed in a chain reaction.

That. Was. A Soul crusher.

The galaxy you had explored to death in the first and second games feeding the context and endless detail Bioware gave to it, and all of those hours spent traveling back and forward through the relays throughout all the games just to be destroyed in a huge chain was crushing to see. Or at least it was for me. It was another sign of "everything's coming to an end" from the Mass Effect 3 ending. First Shepard, now the entire galaxy. It was a pretty strong moment. Then I get to see Joker trying to escape this weird wave of red color and for  a moment back there I swore the entire Normandy and Joker would go down with it. I had this "You have got to be kidding me. Oh sh*t no." I was thinking I had made the wrong decision and killed both the innocent Joker and the entire Normandy crew aboard.

Screen fades to black.

My mind was literally blank at this point. There was SO much going on it completely blocked me from thought.

Then I start seeing the Normandy had crashed on an unknown planet, and like a comfort to my soul, I see Joker made it out alive of the crash and so a couple other member crews, and, Thank God, Tali with them.

And after 5 years of awaiting and making up theories in the way for how the end of Mass Effect 3 would take place, I finally get to see the real conclusion of this beloved series. For the third time since 2007, another kickass song starts to play at the end of the credits. This very passive, but powerful tune throughout the credits served as a tranquilizer and as a memory-awaking medicine to me. The saga was finally over. I remember as with Mass Effect 5 years ago, I did almost the exact same thing. I left my controller on my desk, and just sat there staring at the screen reflecting and remembering everything I had gone through, but this time, I was remembering all the 3 games together.

Truly, truly a legendary feeling.

At that time I still had lots of doubts and was yet to be introduced to the famous internet's "indoctrination" theory that would change absolutely everything I had seen and believed in. But nonetheless, the original ending, the "non-modified" ending will always be my preferred one for being such an incommensurable and immediate wrap-up to a galactic-sized series.

And ever since that unforgettable ending, I've been wanting to write this blog.

You know, watching Shepard ultimately run straight into the beam and dropping his gun before he does all of this with An End Once and For All on the background was really memorable for me. So much, I think the specific moments of the song where Shepard drops his gun and finally jumps into the beam are my favorite seconds of the piece. And that's why I still think Synthesis was the best ending. You didn't try to resist and hold your feet like in the Control ending. Or shot your way out to your objective like you've done through the entire series like in the Destroy ending. Instead, you don't do either, you just... accept it. It's like this moment Shepard has been waiting for and has physically and mentally prepared himself, to go out and sacrifice himself for the galaxy in such a peaceful, calming, and quiet way. In that ending he goes out as he arrived into life. Not shooting your way out, or resisting against a greater force in magnitude.

You just... did it.

No thinking.

And as your face and body begin melting or disintegrating part by part, remembering your now far away squad mates and yourself realizing you are in the process of passing away and will die any second now, along with the beautiful and great piano tune, it's a memory worth storing for ever.

And so, so transcendental I just remember those specific seconds of the piano sounds inside my head. Just like that, so sudden.

Like Shepard's sacrifice.

I'm not going to talk about the theories and all that stuff. That's all so March 2012.  And besides, Bioware has already confirmed further expansion to each ending in the game. I never asked for that. Personally, I did not. I didn't want to, found it unnecessary. But people that are closer to the game and still have unclosed feelings bouncing around perhaps want further closure and a more exact one so they can finally end their Mass Effect 1, 2, 3 journey. And furthermore, more people would have continued to indoctrinate the minds of the rest of the audience, changing their perception of the ending to that of their own.

Good thing Bioware decided to expand on the endings with their own, personal and professional work. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.

Though my preferred ending has to be Synthesis for sure. It has kind of an evangelical side to it, and is the most beautiful out of the three possible ones. There's something about Shepard jumping with his arms open sacrificing himself into the beam that always gets me emotional. I don't know what it is, but I love that moment as much it makes me suffer. Plus the music is absolutely terrific, and was exactly what Mass Effect 3 deserved.

And that Stargazer scene. God, that sunk me so much. It was incredibly poignant. Seeing the man and the kid probably years or decades after Shepard's story took place. You ahd gone down in history. After the 3 games you had built the myth and legend of Commander Shepard. Of The Shepard.

Another thing that killed me was how the kid began asking the man when will he be able to see and travel across the stars. This was especially beautiful when taken in the context that, throughout 5 years we have been exploring end-lessly that galaxy learning more and more about it. But, after the explosion of the mass effect relays, everyone was left alone in their own cluster. And when the man starts talking about other kinds of species each with their own lives and stories millions of light years away moved me. So little did they known how much us, and Commander Shepard had seen and met throughout our extensive journey through the galaxy.

And knowing how Shepard was the first man ever to rally and unite all of the galaxy against one single threat. Cooperating as allies, and buddies. And suddenly all of that lost with the explosion of the relays. And of course, with the end of Commander Shepard's life. Sacrificing himself for the greater good. All of this lets you see just how much I loved and appreciated the ending.

It makes me sad how so many people are letting the ending go unseen and not appreciated at all.

Concluding my Mass Effect 3 ending talk, I have to continue by saying Mass Effect 3 was an absolutely great game. It had certain flaws, which kinda hurt me because it could have easily been a masterpiece that would have last throughout the ages. It's still is and will not be forgotten. But it could have been just a little bit more. Maybe we were asking too much from Bioware. I really don't know.


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[SAFE mode]

I have my theory to why many people were left unsatisfied with Mass Effect 3's ending. Remember that term? "Suspension of disbelief"? This one ties directly to the next one I'm going to write about. A good chunk of people should know this one. And what better way than to try and explain the famous gaming controversy than with good old philosophy. (God, I really love it.)

So, Suspension of disbelief, as you might remember, is the act in which we (for example) take the current bi-dimensional image (TV, video, movie theater) that is presented to us and take it as our own reality. Only through that way we can, said in a summarized way, get into the story and put our emotions into it. The moment the story has done its work. When it manages to pull us into it. Into its suspension of disbelief.   

Now, Mass Effect (like I've said count-less times) is an absolutely personal and emotional game. Because of how we reflect ourselves through the decisions in the game. Makes the overall story and gameplay so much more personal and customizable. We take it, and make it ourselves. We change it how we want and we end it how we please. Mass Effect probably gave the ultimate player agency control. And in the process, by creating such a deep, rich and detailed game with all kinds of characters; inevitably combined with the personal side of the game, players created many bonds and relations and dozens or even hundreds of story arcs throughout the game. And of course, we all want closure for them.

Let's touch a little upon the controversy once again, so what was primarily the reason behind the angry outbreak of fans towards the end? It was the lack of closure, of closing those bonds and feelings that had stem out since the first Mass Effect. That lack of conclusion angered many people. But, some others, the minority in this case, did not suffer the same thing. And actually, they enjoyed and loved the proposed ending by Bioware; I am one of those people, but why? Well, we are all different, we all think, react, and feel differently. And in the case of Mass Effect, we all got into the game in different, very different ways. Some established a more serious relation with the game while others were just along the ride. This is an important factor to consider when we're talking about the end and the outbreak from the fans.

Now let's introduce the concept I've been talking to you about: Catharsis. Catharsis, simply put, is that purgation of feelings and passions found in our soul. Those that we gain and grow throughout whatever tragedy or comedy we are reading or witnessing. It is the mental, corporal, emotional, and spiritual cleansing of all emotions towards that certain work or play. So we can finally move on.

Now here's what I'm proposing: The very reason players were left unsatisfied by the ending was because of that lack of closure to the story arcs created in the game. Yes, they complain about limited ending options and how we never get to know what happened to our assets and crew. But that's all part of a dislike because we did not get to close those emotions. They promised us to do that for us in the end, but it didn't fully happened. So, we angered, rebelled and threw stuff around.

Like I said, the reason behind that is the lack of purgation from all the feelings we gained and grew towards these characters, stories, places and locations we visited across the game. Again, like i said, how we really never get to see what happens to all of the assets we recruited or whatever happened to them, this is exactly that same case. We needed that purgation of feelings and emotion we all put towards the recruitment of all of them. And like I said before, this is not the case with everyone. Some, like me, were absolutely fine with the ending. But because we're all different and act different. But, this concept talks very specifically about emotions and passions we all gain from stories/tragedies, and, since some people accepted the ending without a problem making this case much more varied, does it mean my theory fails or isn't well founded? Well, not necessarily, since or at least, I consider the fact that there are stronger-willed individuals than others; take it as some kind of spiritual view on Darwin's selection theory. Something like that.

The name of the little fella behind this concept of Catharsis was, wait for it, Aristotle. A man which I have a really big admiration towards. According to Aristotle, Catharsis is the power of tragedy to redeem, or purify, the spectator of his own passions, to see them projected on the characters in the play, and let you see the punishment they deserved and that was inevitable for them, but without undergoing the punishment ourselves.

I'm sorry for this exclusive-to-people-who-finished-the-game interruption again, but there's one last paragraph I need to share my view on from Mass Effect 3's ending.

[SAFE mode]

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[SPOILERS ahead]

The final moments presented to you, and the moment I'm talking about is when they show all of the possible paths towards each action that would cause their own specific end.

The blue station and the red station. Control and Destroy.

Or more commonly known in the sci-fi world as: The blue pill and the red pill.

"You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

If I remembered the term, and I myself am a poor joke of a sci-fi movie/literature fan, then you sure as hell know where that quote is from.

Yup. For those who don't know, it's from the 1999 movie, The Matrix.

It's a very deep symbolism these 2 pills have, and, it's also a cult classic across the science fiction culture.

These 2 symbols have been strongly popularized for being a deep philosophical analysis of taking the blissful ignorance of illusion and an easy way out, which would be the blue pill, and taking the path of the sometimes painful truth of reality, which would be the red pill.

I didn't instantly remembered that the moment I was playing the ending for the first time, mainly because I was getting so messed up from so many things going on at once. But later on watching the video of the ending on YouTube made me realize this. Mass Effect is science fiction, so is The Matrix. ME's are also full of references to other popular sci-fi movies and probably Bioware themselves are huge fans of science fiction films and literature.

Of course this last one is obligatory if you're going to create your own living sci-fi universe millions of people are going to judge, don't you think?

The quote was said by Morpheus to Neo. Giving him the choice of either "escaping" to reality, or staying in the Matrix and figuring out just how deep the rabbit-hole goes. He takes the red pill and eventually figures out the true purpose of the Matrix and how it was created. Being the blue pill the easy way out to a "false" reality as Morpheus would tell Neo. And the red pill being the only way out for him.

This has tons of interpretations but it can commonly be seen as, staying in a fantasy world (being the blue pill) and living the hard reality (which would be the red pill) it's an intriguing and fascinating philosophical discussion. Many thinkers alike have both supported and kept researching the concepts, or have declared them as completely stupid or irrelevant to The Matrix's story.


Either way, we're here for Mass Effect, or the way these pills tie in is how Shepard is presented awfully alike these 2 options as well. Him taking the blue or green exit or "Blue/Green pills" would cause him to stay in that fantasy or illusion of reality, AKA the famous indoctrination theory. Taking the red pill would cause him to accept the harsh reality and make him wake up and continue his efforts. This would tie in equally with the indoctrination theory, and him waking up surrounded by rubble on earth for that 5000+ assets special end. Making him return to reality, and escaping the "dream." Maybe this would fit or make sense in the sense that if Shepard was actually fighting with himself against the indoctrination, he might have taken the "blue pill or green pill" (control and synthesis) therefore accepting the illusion of reality, a fantasy of sorts, believing foolishly he could actually control the Reapers or merge into what is called an impossible breed of humans and machines through "space magic." But if the "red pill" is taken Shepard would be still fighting and accepting the reality that he's in. That everything that he has seen so far has been a lie and never existed, that would be hard to accept. Imagine someone telling you everything you've experienced since a certain point has all been a lie and inside your mind, a figment of your imagination. Or even worse, that it never existed. That would be Shepard accepting the harsh reality that it has all been a fed dream by the Reapers controlling him.

Of course this all directly feeds the indoctrination theory, and can't be taken as truth. But the philosophical symbolisms from these 2 pills awfully fit too well into the final moments of the game and the immensely famous and accepted indoctrination theory.

We'll have to be patient until the summer, and wait to see what Bioware has in store for us.

Maybe it'll be as deep as the fans have argued for months and everyone's minds will surely be blown, or maybe Bioware did not really think that far into the matter and they'll give us something less "impacting" but hopefully satisfying to those that are still not happy with the original endings.

[SPOILERS end]

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[SAFE mode]

The Mass Effect series has been undoubtedly an incredible ride from beginning and until the very end. I've absolutely enjoyed all of the moments and 100+ hours I've had across all of the 3 games. It was all absolutely worth it. Mass Effect won its place around the big names of the industry. Hell, I think Mass Effect even surpassed other big names already settled in the industry. I've been a huge fan and have had a huge admiration towards the series since 2007, and I've been equally pumped for every new release. From the blind buy I did with the first one, to the increased excitement for the second one and the damaging wait that was trying to be "patient" for the final one. And it was all so, so worth it. This was a very special blog, for it was the end of one of my favorite series of gaming, of this new generation. It's these 3 games that I've played across the birth of the Xbox 360 to near the end of its cycle. Not only that, but the game transcended in so many ways in the industry, proclaiming its spot as a legendary saga and making BioWare now one of the studios to be on the lookout for when a new series of games come out. And ending such a special, unique and overall, legendary trilogy is not something you get to see every day. And hence the excessive length of this blog. This was all for Mass Effect, shows how much love I have gained for the series and how much respect and admiration I have for it. I've had so much fun with it and the games are one of the reasons why I'll keep my Xbox 360 just in case the next gen doesn't have the option to replay them.

Many will remember Mass Effect by a single thing or event. Some will remember it because of an especially fun dialogue. Some others will remember it because of a certain character, location or an event in-game.

Others for Commander Shepard himself.

Or maybe for the story. Or for the soundtrack. Or for the incredibly deep and amazing immersing experience. Because of that realistic flow the game gives you.

And, talking about soundtracks, they form part of my favorite things about Mass Effect. May it be ME1's Vigil soundtrack. Or Clint Mansell's ME3 Leaving Earth piece.

I have to say I hold a special spot for the Vigil soundtrack from Mass Effect. It fits the game too well. Perfectly, if I might say. Seeing the cover of the first game, which I still consider the best one of the series. Mass Effect 2's one was kinda disappointing. Not terrible, but it wasn't good. Or what it could have been. Especially after the beautiful cover that Mass Effect had. And Mass Effect 3's was definately much better than 2's. But I still like so much more the first one.

So anyway, the Vigil soundtrack and just observing the cover from the first game gets me so nostalgic and squeezes my heart. Apart from being such a calm, passive and beautiful tune, it forms part of the game where evrything began. The amazing story. The unforgettable characters. The enjoyable fun and laughters. The love from the fans and the critics alike. Looking back at someone's or something's origins is always so poignant.

And when the Vigil soundtrack was used in certain parts of Mass Effect 3; Every. Single. Time. It squeezed my heart and made me eyes get watery. I don't why but that tune calms me so much and evokes some emotion in me.

Plus, one of the things I most remember from Mass Effect was that the countless times  I started the game I always sat and waited for the initial moments of the song to pass by, and then, and just then, I would press start and resume my adventures.

But if there's one song I would have to choose. Because of how epic, heroic and memorable it was for me. And the thing that will make me remember Mass Effect series for years because of how strong it was, it would be Mass Effect 2's Suicide Mission piece. And there's an even more special section inside the song that got so stuck in my mind that forms part and forms the Mass Effect series' identity for me.

21 very special seconds that just characterizes the entire Mass Effect series for me. I can't possibly stress how much I love that moment in the song. And when I heard it in the Suicide mission in the game, it became forever inherent in my mind.

Now, ME2's Suicide Mission is not exactly my favorite song of the whole Mass Effect saga. Like I said before, ME1's Vigil ST and ME3's Leaving Earth and An End Once and For All are still other options to consider when choosing my favorite Mass Effect song. I love all of them. But the Suicide Mission's special 21 seconds in it are what undoubtedly make it my favorite so far from the list.

The Good Samaritan path

I remember a few weeks ago when I lent Mass Effect 3 to one of my cousins. She's a really big fan of the series, and thanks to me, she was introduced to them with the first Mass Effect sometime in 2009. She absolutely loved it. Waited impatiently with me for Mass Effect 2's release. We both got our own copies of course. Though, with Mass Effect 3 it was different.

It's not the case that she wasn't excited at all or did not care about it. But she had gone through really busy times and had forgotten about separating cash for the Commander Shepard's final epic outing. So I borrowed it to her a week after I had finished it. I played the initial moments of the game with her and, this is one of the very little reasons why the Mass Effect series was so special and unique and will probably miss it really bad in the coming years.

When you reach the end in the opening Earth level of the game you get treated with an ending sequence where the Leaving Earth song takes place and so the tragic imagery of Earth falling apart by your forever-hated enemies, the Reapers. We were chatting as she played the game, but when that moment arrived she just stayed in silence while I watched her confused to why had she stopped talking.

Shepard having to abandon Anderson at the end, the little boy getting decimated with other innocent people aboard the shuttles, and of course, leaving behind Earth so you can rally the galaxy to take her back. And all of this with the beautiful piano music in the background while watching the planet come to shreds and getting all burned by Reaper fire.

It's an absolutely emotional moment, it's amazingly well done and it was a fantastic intro and a desperate one for the game. It made you feel nervous, sad and at the same time you could feel what Shepard could actually have been feeling that very moment. Crying and tears were absolutely justified in that moment.

And that's what she did.

It was especially cute seeing her like that and I told her the game's not THAT depressing, most of the time that is. Then I told her there was a very special reunion with Garrus on the Citadel later on. And it wouldn't be long until she could finally reunite with him. That got her all cheered up again.

Once again, Mass Effect is a really curious series. When you put so much time in it and so much of your personal time that the game becomes so... alive and real. That's what makes it so unique and such a hard time seeing the series end.

There was another thing that happened with one of my friends just today April 23rd when now I had lent Mass Effect 3 to him. Again, another huge fan of the series. Borrowed him 1 and 2 and absolutely loved them. He didn't have money for the third game at the time of release so I kindly borrowed the final one just as I did with the past ones. Basically, I borrowed him the entire trilogy.

I'm like some kind of Mass Effect preacher I swear.

So it's like a week later after I had borrowed him the game. Of course, he had advanced a lot in the game since that moment. He told me something very funny the Friday of the past week. Since he had been waiting so much time to play the threequel and was getting kinda antsy for not being able to round up the money to buy it, he told me that he would dedicate the whole weekend for Mass Effect 3 and absolutely ignore homework. Well, he did not ignore it since he brought 50% of it on Monday though most of it was half-as*ed.

He said to me on Friday:

"Dude, I'm going to play it until my balls break down."

Very elegant.

As of Monday he was currently past 50% of the storyline.

So today he told me something really curious and something that I thought would be so worth it adding to this blog.

While we were working on the assigned activity of the class he called me and started asking me a few things from the game. Once I had finished answering his questions I turned back and continued my activity. Just to briefly hear him saying to me:

"I don't wanna finish the game, man. I'm going to reach the final part and just leave it there. I don't want to reach the end."  He told me.

"Heh. Believe me, no one wanted to do that." I told him.

Suddenly the "End of it all" concept from the game carries so much more weight.

You see, he had invested so much time in the game and the world that seeing everything end would just make you feel sad because you would start missing the game. He's not that much of a really, really hardcore gamer. He plays lots of games, and knows his stuff around the universes of other games like Fallout 3, Red Dead Redemption or Skyrim. But I never thought to see him so involved with a game once.

Mass Effect is, or was, that kind of a series that just comes every blue moon. We never know where the next like it might appear to topple it, and be better than Mass Effect was. Mass Effect was the culmination and epitome of a lot of stuff that will make gaming very special in the coming years. I'm almost sure. And on top of that, being such an emotional, unique and personal game, Mass Effect, though not wildly popular around the world, is going to leave its mark in many gamer's minds. It was just too special, you know.

Like my friend, once I finished Mass Effect 3 I felt satisfied. But I felt an inner emptiness in me, I had become so attached to the game that, well, was just sad to see everything go and end. And part of other of the reasons why I was considering restarting the trilogy so I could just experience and savor the entire 3 games and truly appreciate every moment.

So both of those cases, my cousin and my friend, I thought they were important enough to include in this blog. You grow with this game, you make the people in the game grow as well and you share dialog, feelings, ideas, jokes, and thoughts with them across the 3 games. And most importnatly, you were in charge of all that people. You were their Commander. It was inevitable for the game to grow up on you, and suddenly seeing everything go is probably a strange, sad moment many of the fans who played the entire series must have felt at the end of Mass Effect 3.

And of course to those who fully appreciate the game, because I had another friend ("had" as in he left my school, not because I stopped being his friend for not caring about Mass Effect, just clarifying) who I borrowed the first and second one. He did not care about the story at all and just skipped the entire dialogue all across the game. Plus, he wasn't really proficient with the English language and though they had Spanish subtitles, he really did not care at all. Just to mention that at the end of his Mass Effect 2 playthrough all of his squad died. Including himself.

What the hell.

That was what I thought when he told me no one survived his playthrough. He was sincere and told me he was just interested in the shooting segments of the game because he found them enjoyable and fun. So that was enough for me. But before you think negatively about him or just bash him around, I had borrowed him before games like Red Dead Redemption to which he absolutely loved the storyline and, together with the rest of the people whom I borrowed RDR, he felt genuinely sad for the final moments of the game. I also borrowed him Dead Space 2 and he appreciated the story as well. And, last but not least, he's a big Halo fan and actually knows his way around the characters and events of the games. So he's not some kind of stupid monkey. No, not at all.

The End of it All

It has been quite a thrill ride, and an unforgettable one. As the series ends, so does my closure to all those open feelings and passions I gained throughout these 5 years of waiting the conclusion of the trilogy. I've had my very own catharsis both in-game and out of the game. As a blogger, looking to absolutely shut these emotions but not leaving them apart, is what I do. Just making way for new ones and storing the old ones somewhere in my brain. Even if they don't want to be preserved.

But technically, Mass Effect still ain't over. We're still expecting that extended cut for the endings Bioware promised to their fans, to us. And they will be taking their time into making them the best possible way and giving everyone finally a satisfying, happy conclusion.

This decision pleased the angry fans for a while, it pleased the ones that wanted more closure and understanding towards the ending and the stories they created and shared.

But for me, it's none of them. I'm not exactly waiting for either of them.

I'm just happy to know that, even after all of this and having cleansed most of my passions and emotions towards the series through this writing,

It's still not over, and there's more Mass Effect on the way.

As a fan, I'm glad this is still happening.

Even if you did ask for it, or if you didn't.

More of the same good stuff never hurt anyone.

And being able to have more content for what will be one of the most remembered games of this age, is just gratifying.

Even though the ride is over, Mass Effect still has something more in store for everyone. And for that I thank Bioware, and everyone should.

As time passes, and may it be you remember Mass Effect for its characters. Or for its story.

For Bioware having created one of the most rich, detailed, funny and ambitious universes since... ever.

I'm just going to remember it for being a damn unique and good series as it stands.

For 3 games we began, developed and finished the story of Shepard.

We shaped his life, his friendships and his romances.

We had started, builded, and ended the myth and legend of the Commander Shepard.

And, of course, as you already know:

Above all of this,

For those amazing, thrilling, and delicious 21 seconds.

 

-Anticitizen-One

 

-2:41-3:02

 

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