Monday, July 2, 2012

Mass Effect 3: Indoctrination Theories, Epilogue DLC and... Gears of War?

When it released last March, the controversy surrounding Mass Effect 3's endings were a focus of intense discussion.

Some vehemently opposed the way BioWare choose to end the trilogy, accusing the developer of cutting corners allowing for a lethargic, albeit confusing ending. Other players believed there was much deeper meaning to the mystery of the conclusion. We've been waiting for the Extended Cut DLC to clear everything up and now that the wait is over, we're both ecstatic and disappointed at what BioWare has wrought.

Editor's Note: This article contains spoilers regarding Mass Effect 3 and the Gears of War franchise. If you intend to play the games and/or don't want the endings ruined, then progress no further.

If you haven't seen the endings yet, check out all of them on GamesRadar.

Andrew's argument for botching an opportunity


A while back, I wrote an article stating my horror as to how fast people jumped on the 'hate BioWare' bandwagon. To me the conclusion of ME3 was more ambiguous than anything. As soon as Harbinger's beam smoked you, that was when I noticed everything around Shepard seemed... different. From the control the Illusive Man had over Anderson to the way Shepard cringed when the Reaper noises echoed across the screen, there was too much that materialized at the end for me to consider it a simple mistake; a failure at elaboration.

Obviously a great deal of people felt the same way which is what gave rise to the Indoctrination Theory. Simply put, people thought the entire final sequence was really Shepard going through the Indoctrination process; attempting to stave it off. Certain videos gave immense evidence to this claim and it honestly seemed like such an intelligent way to leave the series in suspension. However, after the Extended Cut DLC dropped, this theory was immediately dis-proven.

Didn't you know? These guys could be helping you out soon!

Saying all of that, I personally would like to apologize for my stance on the matter. Maybe it was just the sequence of events and the missing pieces that made this whole Indoctrination Theory plausible, but I'll be damned if I couldn't say it was convincing. The new endings are extremely well done, and provide ample information that satisfies my lingering questions. The Catalyst now elaborates on its history, new cut-scenes show Hackett finding out someone got to the Citadel and even how your team gets off world. Most importantly though, the new endings show a very different, yet similar conclusion that feels much better than the original ones ever could. Though, now that we know this was the way BioWare wanted to tread all along and not the way of Indoctrination, I feel a bit dismayed.

BioWare should be commended for going the extra mile for not only acknowledging the fans disapproval, but for following it up with a free piece of DLC that clears up any previous issues. There are few companies that would go this far and for that, BioWare, I applaud thee. However, now that we know the truth about the ending, it pains me to realize that either ME3 was rushed out the door at the last minute, or somebody gave the green light to ship the game despite the unfinished ending. We can speculate that it's 'all EA's fault' but that's an unfair accusation as we know nothing of the game's final days of development.

Anderson dying was still a strong sequence.

Regardless of the answer to why the game shipped the way it did, the fact of the matter is that it did ship that way. Akin to Mortal Kombat's horrific online multiplayer and Dark Souls' downright broken multiplayer component, this is something that just cannot be looked over when judging the entirety of the game. What were they thinking? ME3 was incredibly detailed thoroughly and then the end just throws a bunch of janky situations together and we were supposed to be pleased with the outcome? Again, that's why I thought something greater was at hand and this brings up a whole different issue I have with story-writers.

The Indoctrination Theory was an very intelligent take on how ME3 ended and I think if BioWare made it work then we'd be talking about how revolutionary this kind of narrative was instead of, you know, how bastardized it became. Could you imagine if after playing through the game you found out the final choices you were given were a ploy? What if Shepard was tricked into allowing the Reapers to live, forever sealing the fate of the galaxy? The thought of this kind of decision making lifts my gaming soul to untold heights, but alas, this was not the case at all with ME3. It might sound odd, but this reminds me of Epic Games' missed opportunity for the Gears of War franchise.

Even Shepard wanted to see what happened next.

Stay with me here; Gears is something people look at and only think of thick dudes, chainsaws, cover and guns. Well, it didn't use to be like that and if you were there with me during the first Gears, you know exactly what I mean. The Locust were an unknown enemy, one that just emerged and slaughtered humanity by the billions and nobody knew why. Hostages were not taken, communication was impossible, making the situation as dire as possible. As you progressed through the game, the precious resource known as Imulsion was introduced to the player and some of the history of Sera was told.

The rush for the revolutionary resource orchestrated the Pendulum Wars, a 79-year civil war. It all seemed so clear to me and a few other websites that, perhaps, the Locust were the good guys in this matter. I mean, maybe the humans were killing the planet or hurting the Locust by siphoning so much Imulsion, forcing the hand of the Locust. Be honest; how amazing would that have been? Over what we got, I feel this was a completely wasted opportunity to blow away gamers of all kinds. Instead, Gears will still be known for its hardcore action and its lackluster narrative. BioWare has followed in the exact same footsteps and disappointed fans with their decision making process.

I'm a massive fan of both franchises, but I can't sit back and accept the fact that there just wasn't opportunities to make better decisions. Both trilogies are now over, but with Judgment coming and more DLC for ME3 to come, you can bet we haven't seen the last of any of these franchises. I just hope this time around, we don't run into the same circumstances.

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