Welcome to the third segment in Building Consensus, a special series in the overarching "Thirty Days of Mass Effect" project. In this time, I discuss the merits of the different choices players are offered in Mass Effect 3 with respect to the endings. This is an epic undertaking, and I'm pleased to have seen a wealth of opinion and perspective on the topic.

Here in this discussion, as you know, are our fellow Spectres who for sake of anonymity - I trust you know how important they are to galactic security - have been given codenames: Marston Shepard, Chris Shepard, Archibald Shepard, Batman Shepard, Blake Shepard, Eric Shepard, James Shepard, John C. Shepard, John Shepard, John S. Shepard, Dave Shepard, Dood Shepard, Jotale Shepard, Catherine Shepard, Colin Shepard, Cameron Shepard, and Phil Shepard. I'd like to thank them all for participating in this dialogue, and I'll now surrender the floor to them, before offering my own closing remarks on the issue. (Spoiler warning!)

So, let's see these legendary figures offer their input, in alphabetical order:


"Which Choice was the Best?"


Archibald Shepard:

"I was of the mindset that Bioware should not change the ending, not so much because I loved the first ending, though I did grow to appreciate it after having some time to reflect. I really just felt it would set kind of a bad precedent, and part of me always wondered if they did this intentionally so they could release DLC(paid) that would expand, of course we all know that the uproar was huge and they did release free DLC that expanded on the end choices. I had not intended on playing the DLC, however a P+ subscriber, it was downloaded automatically so I decided what the heck(I did play ME1 and ME2 on my 360, I played ME2 on PS3 as well, had intended on finishing story on both platforms but my 360 died in February).

"Since it was already installed, I fired up my main save for Commandress Jeremina Shepard, with that I saw the differences, starting with how my crew was evacuated while making the last push for the Citadel, I saw myself 'warp' into the Citadel. Next big change came when the Catalyst gave much more detail on what each ending would do, I absolutely appreciated this. I accidentally chose the reject option at first by firing my gun in the general direction of the Catalyst. This angered him and next thing I saw was Liara's time capsule message and a kind of strange after credit cut scene regarding "the Shepard" except it appeared to be an Asari female with the kid, not a human male.

"Next, I loaded Archibald's save and this time I chose the Destroy option, as again, this was my mission throughout. I went through the slideshow and saw Liara start to put my name on the board and then take it down before actually placing it.

"Finally, I wanted to see the Synthesis ending, so with Archibald again, I chose this destiny. A very nice narrative by EDI didn't keep me from feeling a bit creeped out, in addition I was very dead in this ending.

"Ultimately, I cannot answer your question; there is no 'right' choice. I feel it was a bad idea to leave the fate of Shepard long term up to the fan to decide, particularly after giving more details in the extended cut DLC. I cannot really explain what I mean very well, but I liked the idea of leaving it up to my own brain to decide. The DLC gave jut enough detail to make it clear that he lived or died, but nothing else in my opinion.

"I guess in a perfect world, compromise is usually best, so Synthesis seems like it should be the no-brainer option; however, I just don't feel that is correct, the same logic the Catalyst uses to make Synthesis look like a viable "solution" could and should also prove it to be ineffective as a long term solution. Besides, c'mon, am I really supposed to believe that in REAL TIME, Shepard's DNA is somehow merged with the Reapers or whoever and all beings, organic or synthetic, are merged on the spot? Just. Not. Happening."

Orochi: I see you're not the only one who thought the Synthesis ending had some rather creepy elements, which weren't helped much by the already odd changes they made to EDI's character. But yes, Synthesis is one of the heavily-criticized endings for having virtually no logically scientific foundation.


Batman Shepard:

"Once again I'll have to say Destroy. Upon examination of the choices offered, I have to say that no matter what you're going to eat a sh*t sandwich. With the Synthesis ending, you take away the most valuable thing in life, which is choice. You force every race to become a synthetic/organic hybrid, and who knows what things will be like then? Peaceful? Sure. But they had no say in the matter. To me, that's wrong. Every man/woman/alien should be able to decide their own destiny.

"With the Control ending, all you succeed in is proving the Illusive man, and the Reapers right. If you take control of the Reapers, they will eventually rebel. It's inevitable, just look at the whole Quarian/Geth situation. With the Reject ending, you get everyone killed. You lose. I'm not okay with that. Future species' might win, but I'm all about preservation. So for me, Destroy and rebuild is logically and morally correct. I felt horrible ending EDI, as she was an amazingly interesting character. I also felt remorse for the Geth. But like I said, every situation had a turd sandwich waiting for you. Maybe they can salvage EDI at some point and bring her back. Everything is reparable...wow I rambled." 

Orochi: Destroy is a very popular ending, mainly for that special shot you get if you have the proper amount of EMS. The turd jokes oddly remind me of an old South Park episode. Not sure why, but they do.


Blake Shepard: 

"Again I'm going to have to go with Destroy (reject is pretty good as well). I wanted the Reapers gone. They have existed for at the very least 37.5 billion years. The height of the Prothean empire consisted of over 1 Trillion lives... almost all vaporized into oblivion... or worse. So every 50,000 years the Reapers come and eliminate about 1 Trillion lives. That means that the Reapers have at least eliminated around...

"375,001,000,000,000,000 lives (give or take a few zeroes).

"No way in hell I am letting these f***** live. This is what we are supposed to do. We united the galaxy to destroy these monstrosities. We sacrificed and lost friends for this goal. There is no way in hell any of my team or my Shepard would agree with Controlling the Reaper or Synthesizing with them. Destroy is the right option in my book. Plus, it's the only option to where Shepard ever has a chance of living. I don't know about everyone else, but my Shepard is going to open a bar somewhere on a beach and live out the rest of his days with Miranda. That's just what I hope for at least.

"Perhaps why I hold Destroy in such regard is that I think that the other endings are a blatant betrayal of my teammates. These are characters that I have grown to love over the course of the Mass Effect series. I think of their sacrifices and wonder what they would think of my Shepard after this life-altering choice, Sure, the extended cut makes everyone seem pretty okay about Synthesis and Control, but they just feel wrong to me. Those choices feel like I'm turning my back on all the sacrifices my team has made throughout the series."

Orochi: It's clear that your decision comes from a vested personal interest and involvement rather than the usual cookie-cutter deeds done for "the galaxy." It's also testament to how lifelike these characters can become when you've been attached to them for so long. As I remember mentioning briefly in a previous blog, I chose Destroy in honor of Anderson, one of my favorite characters. Later, I chose Control to spite TIM and to use the near-infinite powers of the Reapers for Good instead of the selfish desires he sought. Even when I chose Synthesis, I did it for the benefit of the Quarians and the Geth, a kind of definitive stamp that would cement their peace in the future as well as the present.

Chris Shepard:

"Which choice is the best choice between the three (four?). Synthesis. Why you ask? Because it spares the most lives, and that’s what my Shepard was fighting for all along, pure and simple. In every other ending, save for control, you wipe out a massive number of lives. The reason I don’t like control is because nobody should wield that much power as an eternal being. Not even me. Especially not me."

Orochi: Well, I see that you are infatuated with Synthesis. A nice and honest reason though for why you feel Control isn't a good choice. I see that you consider the Geth to be alive, I'd assume? I do not, but I think they have great value as a sentient synthetic race.

Cameron Shepard:

"Synthesis. While it's forcing evolution on the entire galaxy, I find it a better choice than killing off the synthetic lifeforms (Destroy ending) that I helped just foster independence with their creators (Geth) and a sense of love (EDI) or becoming the equivalent of an AI construct (Control) that could be corrupted in the future."

Orochi: The moral implications of the Synthesis ending comprise my primary reason for disliking it; Shepard's place as galactic savior makes sense, but their decision to make Shepard do something that completely contradicts all that we've come to expect completely contradicts what they previously established: that Shepard fights for the galaxy's right to choose for themselves.

Catherine Shepard:

"Players' opinions of the choices offered at the end of ME3 may vary wildly, but it's clear that the game's creators considered Synthesis to be the right choice. There's a lot of evidence for this: Lazy players won't even be able to access it as it has a higher EMS requirement than any of the other endings. Additionally, some of the stills in its epilogue are unique among the three main endings (Kasumi, for example, looks much happier when she is shown in Synthesis' epilogue than she does in either Destroy or Control's epilogues). I would also argue that of the endings, Synthesis is most consistent with the overarching themes of the Mass Effect Series, since to me it most clearly conveys a sense of sacrifice and the value of peace and unity. However, despite all that, I still can't help but prefer Destroy, because f**k Reapers."

Orochi: Interesting. I simply see Synthesis as being too much of a false utopian ending, and I think it's rather sad that Bioware deliberately makes it seem like the "correct" ending to players with all the EMS you have to build up to be able to get it.


Colin Shepard:

"So far I've only made it to one ending and I chose Synthesis. I liked it because it ended the endless cycle of the Reapers. I didn't see the purpose of Starchild or the long, slow walk."

Orochi: I completely despised the ridiculously slow gait of Shepard during the final moments of the game.