The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 14
was inevitable, hence why it's near the end of my series. We've already seen a
deluge of reviews on the topic, so I wanted to wait a while to give my audience
some breathing room. This, for all intents and purposes will be primarily spoiler
free aside from a few general plot points so those who've never played or seen
the DLC can read this without any fears.
impressions playing this DLC - which automatically is incorporated into the game
when you launch the Chronos Station mission - were those of surprise and
excitement. I have to hand it to Bioware for the care and consideration they
placed into the material. The DLC adds quite a few extra scenes to the game's
final mission that aren't long, but substantial enough to be complementary to
the overall product. I couldn't resist the desire to smile every time they came
into play and I saw a particular Admiral utter a few priceless gems.
problem with the original endings established in Mass Effect 3 was that it not
only left players entirely disoriented due to the abruptness of certain plot
points but that it also felt tacked on rather than organic and cohesive. Many
have referred to it as a Deus Ex Machina of sorts. In part I'd have to admit it
was, although the proper term would be MacGuffin. Later on, a particular
development infuriated players due to how it seemed to force players to make
decisions that seemed to yield vague resolutions. When I first experienced it,
I definitely felt that it was poorly written and underdeveloped. The logic of
the surprise nemesis was also something that was innately moronic and completely
destroyed the mystique of the Reapers who'd previously been established as
Lovecraftian in nature.
weaknesses don't even include the most infamous criticism surrounding the
original endings of Mass Effect 3: they were animated almost entirely the same,
with their main distinction being the colors shown in them. This glaring
problem, when combined with the vague and justifiably confusing ending to most
players, incited the sensationalized movement that made this DLC possible. Thankfully,
Bioware has addressed this problem modestly, though not as efficiently as most
hoped they would.
helps to give the final section of Mass Effect 3 the atmosphere it needs so
desperately to keep players invested in the story on all fronts; we see events
happening with the fight behind the scenes, glean what happens to our crew, and
are even treated to a few scenes that vary depending on your EMS and make the
ultimate push Shepard makes all the more rewarding emotionally. The strongest
and simultaneously weakest aspect of the DLC story-wise, however, happens when
Shepard finally reaches their objective.
dialogue adds more context to the events unfolding, as well as some of the
purposes of the conflict that drives the series. Yet, it also features the
worst line uttered in the entire series. The Reapers still have not reclaimed the
sense of abject terror they once held with this development in the story, and
certain aspects still feel forced on the player. The inclusion of a new choice
in the story - one requested by BSN members for quite a while - is finally
that Bioware listened to the opinions of their fans and included it; detractors
seem to think its inclusion was an underhanded attempt to spite players
discontent with the story's original endings, but I find it far from that, although
I don't like it not having any variation. Nonetheless, the ending is what I
consider to be a true "science fiction ending", in that shows a side of Shepard
that many of us wanted to convey but couldn't and also leaves much room for
interpretation in terms of how Shepard's choice has impacted the future better
than any of the original endings.
purists should be relieved that the endings are essentially preserved and
unaltered, simply embellished by additional material. Bioware did not give fans
the super happy endings they protested but atleast made one concession that
thankfully doesn't affect the others. Now, I'll discuss the "improvements" they
did make to the endings.
particular case, players will find that there are a few new cutscenes -
although brief - added that still don't add much other than help differentiate
the endings from each other with a minor change in animation. Aside from that,
and the slight variations that already occur, the endings still do not vary
much. However, the extended material at the end of each - featuring a different
character monologuing each time - does give each ending a sense of character.
While I don't like the approach taken to this segment - basically, a slideshow
- and expected it to follow the cinematic approach Bioware's known for, the
images are still beautifully drawn and evocative. Combined with the rest of
minute, yet modest changes, I found myself highly pleased with Bioware's
approach to the issue.
change that Bioware made comes in the form of a patch to Mass Effect 3 to fix a
problem even Shepard couldn't solve: EMS. Despite claiming that players would
not have to play multiplayer to get the optimal ending for Shepard, a few fans
that datamined the game found that achieving this without multiplayer was
impossible due to an inherent flaw in how EMS was designed; it required players
to make impossible choices, such as simultaneously saving both Kaidan and
Ashley; saving and sacrificing the Council; similar for the Collector Base,
among other stringent requirements. After a while of ignoring complaints about
the issue, Bioware finally investigated the problem and have effectively fixed
it by lowering the EMS requirement down to 3100 instead of the standard 4000.
This perhaps is the most important contribution Bioware implemented through the
Extended Cut DLC, and has earned my deepest respect from them. Once I finally
earned the optimal ending through single player alone, one nagging question
kept bothering me as I watched it.
Why hadn't this been the original ending setup in
the first place? Even though there were a few disappointing elements that
remained, they were nothing that would've incited the level of furor and
overwhelming distaste that the standard ones did. Why did Bioware, in all their
exceptional talent, choose to rely on one of the oldest and overused tropes of
science fiction in order to resolve the conflict with the Reapers? Those are
questions best to ponder at another time though, or for the legion of fanfics
players are writing to make the ending they wanted.
the Extended Cut probably won't please those irreparably damaged by the endings
of the original, nor those staunchly devoted to the endings as they are. It
will however, please those on both sides with more legitimate and less obtuse
concerns. It's no panacea or second coming, but it is something worth checking
out and it's free. Try it out and I'm sure you might be surprised.
9.25 out of 10