Monday, August 6, 2012

Film Crit Hulk Hulks-Out on ME3 once more...

Well, this should be interesting...

When the web-famous Film Crit Hulk took a break from movies to opine on the "Mass Effect 3" ending controversy, he was doing so as observer - he hadn't played/finished the game at the time, and (like me) wasn't critiquing the merits of the ending but the behavior of "Re-Take" - it didn't matter (and still doesn't matter) in this context what Hulk or anyone else "thought" of the ending itself, because good or bad it's a terrible precedent to try and make artists subserviant to the knee-jerk negative response of the audience.

Well, now he HAS finished the game, and offers up his critique of the ending(s) themselves; his main discovery and thesis being that three endings being essentially the SAME ending as-seen through the prism of different philosophies is the entire point that (in his opinion) people managed to miss. READ IT HERE. Money-quotes after the jump:

Choice bits from the article itself (all quotes in caps because Hulk is in fact a Hulk):





Hulk goes on to say that his takeaway from all this is that the gaming community doesn't appear to be "ready" for the medium to reach the same level (of storytelling accomplishment) as other mediums; which I have a hard time disagreeing with. Not every game wants or needs to tell a great story, fine - but "Mass Effect" DID want to do that; and it's fans basically said "no thank you."

I don't WANT to get into this nonsense again, but the big reason video games (the ones that try to tell "cinematic" stories, I stress) are by-and-large inferior to, say, movies in the broad sense is that too many otherwise good ones are still wedded to gimmicks like multiple-endings and overly player-effected narrative.


RaviorStygian said...

Um . . . Extended Cut? Hello? Did people just forget about that?

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, but didn't the ending of ME3 have something about how we "weren't ready"? Very fitting / metatextual.

Anonymous said...

I would also but it on the publishers such as EA that also are not ready to reach the levels of other mediums. I'm not sure what part of mulitplayer was part of Bioware's story in ME3.

Also there was the extended cut that just came out, and an incoming DLC that will 'add' to the story. So whatever. I'm sure we will get another episode where Bob drags this topic from the dusty grave when nobody really asked for it (or cared) in the future like Other M.

Mads said...

The thing about Film Critic Hulks otherwise well written pieces is that he doesn't really care whether his criticisms are internally consistent - which is to say, he doesn't care whether they are, in fact, right - He's an artist and trolling is his game...

Which, you know, that's kindof in the name right there. He's a hulk, a big lumbering troll. That's what he does.

He voices his oppinions in the way he does - all caps and provocative - not just because it's a fun gimmick, but because it evokes emotional response.

In podcasts where he doesn't posses his gimicks, he uses other ones - such as the definition of the word art, in one podcast in particular - in order to frame the conversation in a fashion that allows him to evoke emotional responses.

You could say the same about Bob, but here, there's at least a sense of professional pride in insuring internal consistency, and a sense of intellectualism that says, well, if someone is right, better recognize that.

This, the hulk does not possess. In the podcast I heard where he was talking about being taken to task over his prior statements, he agreed that they might not all be right...but he insisted that they were meaningful, and that meant he shouldn't have to care about whether his statements were right.

He is fundamentally a manipulator, taking fake positions for the sake of participating in and directing discussion if he feels like it. As such, his criticism can be disregarded as disingenuous dribble. Just as you argue that an artist shouldn't allow himself to be bound by the knee-jerk reaction of an audience, we shouldn't allow ourselves to be manipulated by a critic who only cares about controversy, and doesn't care about integrity.

Therefore, I suggest you simply ignore what he has to say. I mean, theoretically he could have changed, but he doesn't deserve the chance to prove it. There needs to be less critics like him who just throw (well written) shit around to make a spectacle and profit.

Jim said...

Indeed, as Mads says, if you are wrong once, you should be ignored and never given a second chance. Wise words we could all learn from.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Bob - why exactly do you have a problem with multiple endings and player driven narrative? Those elements give the games complexity, enhance replay value, and help the player feel like they have a more substantial impact in the game.

Botman said...

I only skimmed over the article, since I can't stand that damn all caps gimmick. I pretty much wrote him off once he said he enjoyed the Rejection ending, an ending that is the very definition of pettiness and spite, saying "it was the ending we deserved".

Actually, now that I think about it, it makes sense that you would link this article, Bob. After all, you certainly know a thing or two about making stories out of spite due to people complaining.

Looking Down The Crionics said...

Mads, absolutely. This cocksucker just lost all credibility (as if some douchebag masquerading as the Hulk had any).

Fuck him and fuck you too Bobby.

Codrin said...

Thanks for the link! Hulk really expressed what I thought of the endings. Which is to say, most gamers thought of it poorly, I think, because they didn't stop to think why the game endings didn't make them feel "good." Well, I liked the article, your thoughts, and ME3's ending, thanks again!


Redd the Sock said...

Oh grat, this again, and I'm taking the bait.

On the surface, Hulk starts out well enough. He does what opponants to re-rake should have done in the first place and explained what we were missing and why we should have like the ending. I'm not sure I agree with the assessemnt, mostly because this doesn't last long and we get yet another round of the "artist integrity" pity party for 2/3 or the article.

I've tried to be paitent and understanding to this side of things. I get that no artist gets into creation to make what other people want. But this pretty much spells out my anger to that side. First he pretty much impiles we're stupid for not getting the intended message, then goes on and on about how we as consumers want things from our games and movies and that is somehow wrong.

It goes beyond general arrogance into an area of total lack of repect for fans. If we don't get something it's because we plebians that just don't get it rather than the artist's fault for being too abstract. That's insulting enough, but an attitude that comes off as anytime a fan is disatisfied they can not be in the right about it just comes off like art isn't about entertaining or enlightening, but about the artist needing their ego stroked, preferably for something as much a personal vanity project as possible.

I understand a difference of opinion, but a pretentious attitude is what shuffles "art" to the margins over other works. When one director is giving us what we want and another is telling us what we should want, it isn't hard to see how Transformers becomes a blockbuster while stuff from Cannes gets limited release.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even going to go into the actual ME3 stuff, except to say that there is more than enough blame to go around on this one,imo no aspect of gaming, from publisher down to consumers and everyone in-between, came out of this looking good.

The day multiple endings and player effected narrative (which you CANT have too much of in my book, provided it is executed properly of course) is dropped from gaming is the day I drop from gaming, it isn't being done properly most of the time I grant you, but is that not true of everything?

Plus I don't really 'get' why multiple-endings and player driven narrative wouldn't work in a 'cinematic' game (it doesn't help that I don't fully understand what you mean by that term either) its worked in the past (see: the original Fallouts and Planescape: Torment if you don't believe me), the very fact that these things are treated as gimmicks seem to be the problem, NOTHING works well when its obviously a bolted-on extra.

Also, if I may indulge in a little inter-disciplinary snobbery, as a book-snob I find your games vs movies comparisons to be pretty funny (though largely accurate),given how far movies still have to go to catch up to books ;)

Anonymous said...


Pretty sure most what most people wanted from Mass Effect was a fun roleplaying game set in space.
If it had achieved enough critical acclaim while doing that to be considered art....good. But that wasnt the focus.

The company publishing the supposed attempt at ARTISTIC NARRATIVE also had little problem chopping it into pieces to sell it back to us later.

Also, what truly separates games as their own storytelling medium is the same stuff you're now calling a "gimmick". The player DOES matter. He/She is part of the experience and needs to be designed into it. A video game narrative excels by working in the medium, not being a movie separated by long period of senseless button mashing. So of course alot of "cinematic" story based video games arent going to be as good as movies.

Honestly Bob, you of all people should know this, and you're just bringing this guy up because he agrees with you.

If you really "don't WANT to get into this nonsense again" than stop bringing in dumb opinion pieces in an attempt to be "right".

Anonymous said...

Bob has brought up opposing views before, Extra Credits on Other M, and Jim Sterling on ME3 I believe. Though he does follow it with a big BUT afterwards. Funny enough, both are/were from the Escapist, where he works. Most of the time however he just ignores other videos that provide counter arguments or dismisses them entirely ('I heard it from 4chan!')

You are right that he does like to use those that agree with him as examples, particularly with Hulk. He even devoted an entire episode based on something Hulk wrote (Why I love Movies). He also used Hulk for the Arkham City 'bitch' controversy, the devolution of Modern Warfare, the Spider Man movie (which ironically Bob said would also be the last LAST time he would dredge up the Spider Man debate), and ME3 obviously.

Anonymous said...


Yeah...this kinda bullshit can go right off and fuck itself. If I don't agree with you, I don't know what art is? Fuck you Hulk. Fuck. You.

Sara Pickell said...

I'm rather curious what exactly HULK was smoking at the time that made him see all that symbolism in the ending. I played through, both with and without extended cut, and didn't see a grand symbolic ending in either case. As a matter of fact, the single greatest annoyance present in all of it is that the endings have NOTHING TO DO with the THEMES of the story. They are artistic failures lacking in any pertinent symbolism or meaning. Extended cut merely upgrades them from servicably average endings to mildly good endings, but they still lack the artistic integrity to be great. A fact that is made all the more disappointing because the rest of the game does aspire to greatness and usually reaches it.

Yes in the general sense we end a cycle... but there are five hundred ways to write, "and the cycle ended". We could have been saved by god beings, we could have verbally berated the Catalyst into giving up his mission, we could have focused the entire fleet's power on destroying the citadel and thereby destroying the Catalyst, we could have set off a bomb in the center of the galaxy and blown all life to dust. Yes, they end the cycle. So what. The important question is HOW do they end the cycle. That's what all of our themes were about. Do we end the cycle through great personal sacrifice and the loss of our friends? Do we end the cycle by convincing our would be enemies of their error? Do we end the cycle by being the mother-****ing Shepard and finding a way through no matter what? By uniting at the last? And what message does Shepard leave behind? What is Shepard's legacy? We've had huge themes of the legacy of those that came before... so what about our Shepard? What is their legacy? Even the extended cut doesn't go into how Shepard effected their squad personally at all unless you go with synthesis.

"Not every game wants or needs to tell a great story, fine - but "Mass Effect" DID want to do that; and it's fans basically said "no thank you.""
No the fans said, "you failed." And they did. Which is the most annoying bullshit in all of this. Mass Effect as it is... IS NOT READY TO BE CONSIDERED GREAT ART BECAUSE THE ENDING IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. THEY failed to make great art. WE just pointed it out.

Aiddon said...

Huh, interesting take from Hulk. However, I would argue that ME isn't exactly the greatest narrative gaming has. I've always found that "player-driven/choice-driven" narratives are kneecapped right out of the gates due to people having to accommodate several different responses. As such, Shephard comes off as archetypal to the point of the being bland and any romance might as well just be an achievement-scoring domination. I've always found that games that DIDN'T offer choice (or at least little choice) to the main narrative (Vagrant Story, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, FF VI, FF VII, FF Tactics, Blazblue, etc) to have better narratives because the writers didn't have to accommodate the player's choices. The only I saw multiple paths work was Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together and even then the choices were just a handful of key ones (and even then the canon path is VERY obvious).

Anyway, Hulk pretty much is right in that we weren't ready for something as ambitious as ME. Instead of just letting bygones be bygones people spat in Bioware's face in the most mean-spirited, selfish way possible and insulted the idea of art to its very core. Gamers can come back and demand to be taken seriously after they gain some self-awareness and grow up.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

As a partaker of media, I'm drawn to strong stories and storytellers. Always have been: always will be. I love good stories, strong characters and engaging conflicts.

MovieBob said, "...the big reason video games (the ones that try to tell 'cinematic' stories, I stress) are by-and-large inferior to, say, movies in the broad sense is that too many otherwise good ones are still wedded to gimmicks like multiple-endings and overly player-effected narrative."

I wouldn't say that ALL games do that, but that does appear to be the case with a large number of Western-developed RPGs. The protagonist is (in the case of games like Mass Effect and Skyrim) created entirely by the player. And while you interact with other characters in the world, it feels like you're observing the world instead of participating in it. As such, those types of games, while they can be fun in terms of gameplay, don't affect me on a narrative level. I don't feel for any of the characters or the overarching story.

JRPGs*, on the other hand, were, for a long time, the premier narrative genre in videogames**. Their stories help shape the worlds they took place in and even, in some instances, give context to their various gameplay mechanics. You also have a cast of clearly defined, fleshed out characters that make you care about their struggles.

Simply put, stories of all kinds are rooted in strong characters, and games with player-created protagonists simply CAN'T provide that.

As Aiddon said, "games that DIDN'T offer choice (or at least little choice) to the main narrative (Vagrant Story, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, FF VI, FF VII, FF Tactics, Blazblue, etc) to have better narratives because the writers didn't have to accommodate the player's choices."

Also, Aiddon, I think I fell in love you a little bit (in a totally hetero way) for mentioning my favorite game of all time, Xenogears.

*The label JRPG always bothered me, but I can understand why it's used. I just wish we had another way of stating it that didn't seem exclusionary or racist.

**Seriously, RPGs were THE storytelling genre in videogames until Metal Gear Solid came around and blew the hinges off.

Mads said...

Indeed, as Mads says, if you are wrong once, you should be ignored and never given a second chance. Wise words we could all learn from
@ Jim
Ok, look, if I ever get any indication that he has changed his tactics - and bob will surely keep linking him, so I'm bound to found out - I'd consider reading what he has to say.. Because of course you're right, I can't presume he'll be a rotten apple for all eternity.

But I will admit that I'm incredibly sour about the product he's currently peddling. He's building controversy on the back of false arguments and malicious manipulations. He's at best wasting peoples time when he could have provided quality content or no content, and those who actually fall for his incorrect arguments come away _dumber_.

That gives him a black mark in my book - he's worse than most other internet critics because of his platform and methods.

I'm responding to Bobs post here to recommend that you steer clear, and I wrote that in no uncertain terms.

JPArbiter said...

I love how people keep holding up the Mass Effect series as some kind of blueprint for sprawling meaningful narrative, when only the first game truly provided a narrative worth playing. ME2 was an incoherent mess that acts as a guide book of "what not to do" when making narrative (Great mechanics though) and ME3 spent most of it's time cleaning up ME2s mess.

FCH nailed a lot of the symbolism of the Pre Final Cut ending to ME 3, something I had been screaming from the highest building in my town about. he also nailed how insubstantial Final Cut really was, being nothing more then a denouement that was only need for players who could not or would not fill in those blanks themselves.

vlademir1 said...

I never expected to have you say anything that I'd have a strong enough negative reaction to actually care enough to comment on it. Here you have in your dismissal of player driven narrative and multiple endings as gimmicks.
While I agree that the fan outcry over ME was exceedingly excessive and overblown, that is simply because of the fact they missed the biggest storytelling point in the entire three game set. Choice here was meaningless all along, and it just took most fans until the very end to realize that. There are no meaningful points in the narrative that the character doesn't attend, regardless of their choices. None of these games gave anyone any more real choice than Final Fantasy VI, but they created a deeply penetrative veneer of choice throughout. Shepard, and by extension the players Shepard acted as an avatar for, were, through the entire story, manipulated, in universe through whatever agency fits the full narrative (I'd postulate "fate" in this case) and as players via the designers' Batman gambit. This end was a given from the fact we know they planned further stories in this universe, and having any significant clear cut divergence in ending would have knee capped their ability to make them.

Ultimately the average gamer isn't really ready to have real choice in a game, because gamers, generally, have a strong drive to see all content in a game, and real choice would limit that.

Ask your average gamer how they'd feel about a game where on any given playthrough they'd only ever see maybe 10% of the content of the game and might have to play the game 15 times or more through to see all of it. Hell, ask your average dev team or publisher how they'd feel about that. Games as a medium including the subcultures surrounding them are plain unready for real choice yet, not least because we haven't yet developed our own language of the medium to even the point where an analogue to film's Birth of a Nation could exist. For now film, being the closest medium to games, is where we take the bulk our base medium language from but until we can grow beyond that games will, on a storytelling level, be nothing more than a slight variation. The medium's current greatest potential is in telling vastly different stories from a single starting point, but until we either fully embrace that paradigm and all it will entail or outright reject it we're going to be handicapped by purely linear narratives with a veneer of choice. If we do reject it, for any of the myriad reasons we potentially could, games just become another pale imitation of film with a few specific divergent selling points (ie. gameplay), like TV ultimately is.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people keep praising Bioware like they are some kind of auteur artist. They aren't Peter Molyneux, Tim Schafer, Shigeru Miyamoto, Will Wright, Sid Meier, or even a Hideo Kojima. No, this is EA freaking Bioware, the same developer that made a sub par 300 million dollar Star Wars MMO and a game that had day one DLC and tacked on multiplayer to help bring in added sales that has no meaning to the 'great story' it touted. I see no art in that, just a product.

Bioware once showed great promise, but now it is nothing more than a husk of its former self, ready to join its fated brethren Bullfrog, Maxis, Pandemic, Westwood, and Dice in that large pit EA uses once it bleeds them dry and finds them no longer profitable.

Razmere said...

I guess you could just add me to the "Yeah the ending sucks and you can hate it but you don't have the right to sue anybody over it" camp.

Evilkinggumby said...

"Bioware once showed great promise, but now it is nothing more than a husk of its former self, ready to join its fated brethren Bullfrog, Maxis, Pandemic, Westwood, and Dice in that large pit EA uses once it bleeds them dry and finds them no longer profitable."

god.. i think I'm going to cry. I forgot about the many losses over the years.. damn those were some fine studios and some great games.. ugh... I may need to re-install Lands of Lore and relive the memories again.

I have layed through and finished ME3 and really.. I can see why the ending is less than perfect. But I don't see it as 'rage-inducing-riot-fodder' either. The fact the fans threw such a stink seems a bit overblown to me.. but I will say that now that I finished the game (and got 2 of the endings first hand, seen a few others second hand) it was enough of a let down to spoil me from wanting to replay any of the serie as an alternate character for likely a few years.

I think effectively fans wanted to see the series END much like Dragon Age BEGAN. They wanted a half dozen really unique, well thought out endings that were related to the characters decisions and so everything wrapped up in a neat and logical little package. Instead they got more of how Dragon Age 2 began, with a fairly linear single story to go through. Really if you look at the dev cycles for the 2 franchises you begin to see the transition from what started as a pretty varied and imaginative experience ended up transitioning into a funneled "we don't have time/money/resources to make this varied, lets steer them to the conclusion" concept. And DA2 wasn't even a conclusion.. just a really scaled back game.

not to say any of these games are BAD or terrible so much as losing the artistic vision and depth of lore/characters/detail that a lot of fans appreciated from Bioware.

Nuttin I am in much of a tizzy over, it's just strange to see what was a mild disapointment for me became such a shitstorm for so many more...

Nixou said...


It was worth reading just for that.

Also, the FMH is being too nice to the "re-take" mob: The real reason behind the whole conundrumis that in the end Shep stoped being this invincible-super-badass-space-marine masturbatory power fantasy: Bioware managed to turn him/her from a generic invincible hero into an interesting protagonist and made a conclusion to his/her story which was in fact internally coherent, but when the adulescents who had become used to jerk off in front of their HDTV while feeling all-powerful were deprived of it, they started to throw a tantrum because a team of writters decided to give them plot instead of porn, behaving like children stomping their feet because they had garden peas instead of fries with ketchup at lunch.

Hyperme said...

So did this cut of extension actually replace the crappy Deus ex Machina with a big gun and a suitably epic final boss, thus giving the player some delusion of choice in the whole matter, instead of being 'let the space ghost fix everything'. The player needs to pull the trigger. Be the one who ends the menace, or at least play a somewhat major part in the whole effort.

Now, why is the player so important? Why must 'auteurs' bend back to accommodate their power-trip?

Because, in a shocking twist, the player controls, and is arguably an element of The Protagonist. The Main Character. The person the plot is based around. A well crafted game protagonist connects with the player, helping them to fully engage with the story and world. It allows some level of emotional investment. In a game. Emotional investment in what could be considered (by people such as a certain Bob of Movies) a digital toy. There's a unique link that can form between the player and the player's character, as they project themselves into the world.

Now, if Harry Potter ended with, say, Godric Griffindor appearing and blowing up Voldemort, his Horcruxes and the Death Eaters, people would be like 'man, that's a bad ending. Harry didn't overcome Voldemort even a little bit!' The protagonist not accomplishing goals in non-interactive media is pretty grating. Now, if you combine this with the fancy emotion link deal I talked about above, players can get annoyed. This might be the reason people saw Other M as sexist (beside the 'murder all the established canon' and 'lol samus is braindamaged and won't Varia Suit up in lava land without man telling her to'). Samus actually does very little in terms of dealing with plot points. Ridley, the Deleter, Sector Zero, and even the main villian all get dealt with by others. And by extension, the player is robbed of these achviements as well as Samus. Which could move a reaction up from 'what is story is dumb the protagonist barely does stuff' to 'Samus does nothing - omg sexistisms!'. The player themselves, not just a character, is being marginalised by the plot, and people don't like that. Which could lead to an increase emotional reaction. Mass Effect is even worse, since the player has the illusion that they are creating a character, rather than just picking a static path from many static paths. It's somewhat dynamic, possibly increase that emotional investment banking.

(continued in next post...)

Hyperme said...

Now I've spent most of a paragraph about games doing it wrong, I'll bring up an example of something doing a similarish threat to ME3, the destruction of all know life by a higher power, done right. My example is the game Iji, which, in as few spoilers as possible, has a plot like so; 'aliens attack earth! call some other aliens! oh crap they're gonna destroy earth we gotta stop them'. This leads to a 2D actiony game with RPG elements. Mass Effect omits the 'call some other aliens' and goes straight to 'oh crap they're gonna kill everyone we gotta stop them'. In both games, the protagonist, Iji in Iji, and Shepard in ME3 fight their way to a being who can stop the invaders. However, in Iji this is fully purposeful, where as it ME3 it happens somewhat by accident. Of course, ME3 hasn't fallen over yet, as the meeting happens in the location you were aiming to reach anyway. Where ME3 falls is what happens when you meet the Reaper-God-Space-Ghost. It gives you a choice. You effectively pick one of Space-Ghosts solutions. You have no part in them, other than hobbling into a light and hoping Space-Ghost wasn't lying. You're final act is pressing the go button for something someone else is entirely responsible for. Iji is mostly the opposite of this. General Tor, like Reaper-God-Space-Ghost, can stop the games threat. However, he at first chooses not to. Instead, he pulls out the most power weapon he can access, a giant mecha suit, to beat Iji with. Iji, and by extension the player, must overcome this final, ultimate challenge to save the Earth. Convincing the higher being to spare your species is an achievement. The player can feel victorious along with the character. The build up to Tor is completed in a final climax. In ME3, the build up to fighting the Reaper's leader is cut down in favour of Space-Ghost. Sure you fight through the Ruins of London. But you fight minions. Not the true villains, but their lackeys. Their Death-Eaters. The player expects to be part of a final battle for the galaxy, with the same level of influence they've had all game. Instead, Space-Ghost. Shepard and the player do not truly defeat the Reapers, they need help from an even higher power. Where as Iji is able to overcome a more powerful foes, and convince at least one of them that Earth should be spared.

Art is execution. If you can't reach the apex of execution of your medium, how to you hope to make a piece of Art. An in games, the execution requires the player to feel engaged, to feel like they are, at some level, part of the story. Half Life 2 managed it. Portal managed it. If an FPS can Art, simply by mastering it's gameplay, any game can Art. But the execution must be there, or Art is lost. Because an author who can't spell or plot, well they can't Art. A musician who cannot make a harmonious tune cannot Art. Even when the Art is derived from a failure of standards, those standards must be understood. Unless you accidentally Art. But ME3 is apparently a purposeful attempt, and thus failed to Art when it failed to execute.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

vlademir1 said, "Ask your average gamer how they'd feel about a game where on any given playthrough they'd only ever see maybe 10% of the content of the game and might have to play the game 15 times or more through to see all of it."

While you'll generally see more than 10-15% of it on any given playthrough, you have to beat Chrono Trigger 13 TIMES in order to see all the endings, and people consider that game to be pretty good.

Anonymous said...


Anyone who thinks the Mass Effect series or its ending is some deep artistic statement or anyway near coherent is as stupid as the people who demanded a new ending.
You are as mature as the whiny brats you are complaining against.

Shark said...

What do gaming journalists know about art? Absolutely nothing!.

Anonymous said...




Botman said...

If you'll permit me to be a bit of a smartass (as if I wasn't one in my last comment :p), I'd like to make a little reversal of a common argument I heard from the other side in Bob's original videos:

Denouncing the people in the vocal minority of the Retake movement/complainers who took things too far = Okay

Saying we're a bunch of uncultured, idiotic plebeians to people who disliked the original endings, or preferred the Extended Cut = Not Okay

Laserkid said...

Here's the problem with this line of thought.

Mass ERffect uis not, and has never been mnarketed or considered a grea6t art game/a wonderous narrative. It has been pinned as a wonderful giant choose your o9wn adventure game set with fantastic HD visuals./ To the point where the developers themselves said it would be disrespectful to not include wildly diofferent endings.

When they fail to deliver on their own marketing, and the very thing that made the series popular5 in the first place, that is when the outcy happened.

I don't think anyone is mad because mass effect 3 is an art game - beecause either way you look at it it is not (and coul;d not be) one.

If you want an art game, you can't have player controlled generica protagonists. I'm not saying you can't play the protagoniost, before some smart assed person points out then it wouldn't be a game. I'm saying when the protagonist is a standin for you (see also chrono trigger where instea dof multuiple choices ala MER, your protagojnist is silent), the gane uis heavily hampered in being art.

That doesnt mean it makes a bad game mind you. Afformentioned Chrono Trigger is one of the most beloved games out there.

Of course we're lookin g at the game being art on a storyteklling level, as opposed to at the experience level.

Artistic storytelling and good gameplay are almsot diametrically opposed concepts - this is because gameplay fundamentalkly involves the player in the world they play in, and if its only pulliong you along the plot train (ala MGS) while it still might5 be good (again akla MGS), it will invarably upset many gamers who want to get past the cutscene and get to the game already.

Games /= movies, and to make thema rtiustic will involve finding a way to make the interactivity artistic.

Bastion is a great fi8rst step in that direction.

I guess I'm rambling, as I amw ont to do sop in short - no - even with ME 3's mono ending it is still not "art" - its just a failed game design (again based on what the developers said they were making).

cdstephens said...

Since this is about story anyways, I figure it'd be best to leave this comment here.

Bob, for the love of storytelling in video games, play Spec Ops: The Line. It is the best story telling game I have played since Bastion. It's essentially the Apocalypse Now of video games, both in the sense that they're based off of Heart of Darkness and they take a radically different approach to war in their respective mediums in their time of release.

It's pretty much the only game that makes you feel terrible about yourself for your actions of war. The mediocre gameplay is worth the story (in fact, it somewhat adds to the message about how terrible war can be). And the use of themes taken out of Heart of Darkness is great, like the idea that if you attempt to "civilize" the "darkness" of "barbarism" then you yourself will succumb to that "darkness". It also deals extensively with PTSD.

So please Bob, play this. Extra Credits has said good things about it if that means anything.

Joe said...


That is perhaps the most inane, uninformed diatribe I've seen on the internet in a long time.

Hulk makes no bones about the fact that he writes his posts to start a dialogue, not to convince anyone of his point. Because we're talking about art and entertainment--by definition among the most subjective topics possible. These are things that have been debated by philosophers, writers, scholars, academics, critics and pundits for millennia. Nobody can be "right". (They might be wrong, however.)

Hulk takes shots at a lot of "conventional wisdom" like the three-act structure, the Hero's Journey, Batman's awesomeness, BioWare's storytelling ability, etc. precisely to shake people out of their complacency and make them defend these ideas. And if they can't, maybe they shouldn't be conventional wisdom. Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.

FYI, we've been trying to define "art" since the days of Plato and Aristotle, and still don't have a consensual definition. So why would you expect Hulk's definition to be any better than anyone else's?

Redd the Sock said...

@Sam Robards

In fairness to Chrono Trigger, it's really only 2 or 3 playthroughs just stopping at odd points to beat Lavos to get all endings. Of course people have gone through ME senveral times, or at least looked up youbtube videos of how other scenes played out.

Something better might be Bioshock where most of it's story is not only optional audio tapes, but parts easially are missed if ou aren't thourough enough in finding them.

I think ME did overpromise on it's endings to the point most of us hoped for themes to vary with our choices. It rubbed the wrong way because after bringing at least for the moment, peace betweeen two sets of warring races, the end dilemma seemed like something that should be flat our rejected as a false premis. AKA if you can broker peace beween the warring races, it's proof that while we may have our bumps, we don't need extermination to keep the galaxy from being totally destroyed. The ending we got might have fit had attempts failed, and Sheppard had to deal with the fact the catalyst might be right. You could have a full firefight to stop the reapers, or have sheppard try trickery depending on paragon/renaged levels. There's a lot of options if the writer thinks about how a story might flow based on the choices made rather than the writing only one he wants. Yes, it's a lot of work, but is perhaps more organic to a medium based on interactivity.

If the Japanese can put out a few dozen visual novels a year with multiple branching paths and endings, I think we can pull off the smae feat in an action/RPG.

Anonymous said...


Too bad Bob uses Hulk's articles to prove his point instead of creating dialogue.

Xaos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xaos said...


Sigh....THIS is why video games will never reach their full artistic potential. Everyone keeps ignoring what separates them from movies.

The story was about a malevolent alien force controlling the growth and evolution of an entire galaxy, destroying any civilizations that became too advanced and seeding the charred planets with life to do it all over again.

Basically, the destiny of your entire people was already per-determined by the enemy.

How "NOT-ABOUT-CHOICE" could it possibly be?

But...I remember what happened last time you were proclaiming how true your opinions on ME3 were, back in the Spring.

I brought up the subject that the ending of the game was written differently from the rest of the game, but you ignored me. It wasn't peer-reviewed, it wasn't editted, it was just rushed out the door to meet an EA deadline. ALL CLAIMS OF "ARTISTIC LICENSE" ARE DEAD ON ARRIVAL DUE TO THIS FACE.

I tried to talk to any of you again and again. Only to be ignored. So, my hope that you actually want a real conversation about this is hitting the goddamn floor.

I hear that dissenters on Bioware's own forums were silenced and threads were locked over any excuse at all.

I've seen the Extended Cut DLC, and you know what I get? I don't get "Okay, noobs, THIS is what we meant to convey", and certainly don't get "Alright, alright, we'll do it your way!".

Instead, the word that comes to mind, over and over again when I see the changes, is "Oops."

"Oops! We really SHOULD have made it clear that your teammates already got back on the ship!"

"Oops! Shepard really SHOULD have asked all of those questions of the God kid in the first place!"

"Oops! They still crashland on the jungle planet, because that's part of our 'artisitic vision' that we didn't want to change, but they still get back to earth before anybody starves from ruining out of alien food. Really, this kind of makes the whole scene pointless, which I guess we didn't think through, but its in there because we're trying to please the fans and the auteurists. Oops!"

Xaos said...


"The real reason behind the whole conundrumis that in the end Shep stoped being this invincible-super-badass-space-marine masturbatory power fantasy: Bioware managed to turn him/her from a generic invincible hero into an interesting protagonist and made a conclusion to his/her story which was in fact internally coherent,"

Fucking how and when?

The Control ending is all about the leader of the Reapers surrendering his control over his creations to Shepard for no reason.

The Destroy option is also about him just offering to blow them all up, just taking the GETH hostage as well. For no reason.

The Synthesis ending is clearly the one the God child wanted, but why even offer the other two? But anyway, this ending is just Shepard meekly following someone else's suggestion.

True, not very

Weakness is not depth. Stupidity is not humanity.

If you're going to make this argument, defend it. Otherwise be counted as among the mean-spirited and attention-seeking troll-etariat with nothing meaningful to say.

Explain if there were actually interested neutral parties that might be converted if you made your case thoroughly instead of just making assertions as if they were self-evident.

Nixou said...

"If you're going to make this argument, defend it"

Why should I lose my time and energy explaining anything to you since you're obviously not smart enough to even ask the good question?

Anonymous said...


Why are you even bothering to talk to this waste of human skin?

Everyone that comments on this blog knows Nixou is an ignorant lump of cunt discharge, not worth the barest modicum of human decency.

Xaos said...

@ Nixou:

Let me try again then.

You claim that the ending is what finally made Shepard into an interesting character instead of a, as you say, "super extereme badass space marine masturbatory power fantasy." My question is:

How? How did he go from a boring player insert to a real human being in his conversation with the Catalyst?

All Shepard did was ask a few awkward questions (or ask a lot of slightly smarter questions in the DLC)and limp towards one of three different magical solutions to his "pesky reaper problem" without even a good reason to trust the Catalyst, aka the creator of the Reapers who himself (supposedly) gave Shep the keys to his destruction/replacement with Shep, (even though he clearly wanted the Synthesis ending. Which brings up the question....actually, if you can't guess the obvious question here, you're just stupid. Ha! You see? I can do it too!)

What humanity was shown in the ending? And don't tell me "its because of the feelings of powerlessness he evokes when dealing with the indecision" because that's just more borrowing the player's feelings if anything. Shep doesn't show any indecision on screen.

In fact, he doesn't even really show much emotion in this scene, at all. One quick "then we have no hope" that sounds more tired than anything and then Ghost kid says some more things and immediately picks him back up.

He didn't show how much he really cared about anybody here (all the characters he spent the trilogy with are elsewhere). We didn't see Shepard's hopelessness at discovering that there really is no way to save the Galaxy.

Hell, in the DLC, the Control ending turns Shepard into GOD. What could possibly be Power-fantasiER? And this is apparently what Bioware MEANT for that to do. Remember, Bioware said the DLC was supposed to CLARIFY the ending, not change it. They kept the jungle planet scene even though the crew obviously gets back to earth, making that whole scene entirely pointless.

Also, you should be informed that I haven't played Mass Effect. I got no skin in the game, aside from just being a neutral observer who's been convinced to take the side of the outraged fans, simply on the grounds that the ending is low-quality and obviously the product of a rush-job, as opposed to any grand "artistic vision."

I add this to disarm you of the instinct to attack my character simply because I'm the "enemy". How much money I've given Bioware is besides the point, anyway. I asked you a question. I won't stick around if you refuse to answer.

I guess what I'm saying is this is your chance to prove that you are a real human being. Instead of just a troll like Anon seems to think.

So I ask again:

Bioware managed to turn him/her from a generic invincible hero into an interesting protagonist and made a conclusion to his/her story which was in fact internally coherent

Explain what you mean by this, or get out of my sight.

Nixou said...

"How? How did he go from a boring player insert to a real human being in his conversation with the Catalyst?"

The meeting with the Catalyst does not make Shep a more interesting character: it merely underlines a change done by the whole third episode: several scenes (and not only the nightmares) are showing Shep slowly but surely breaking down under the pressure and becoming increasingly fatalistic: the contrast between the jingoistic speech of the beginning (We Fight or Die! Suivez mon Panache Blanc!) when Shep is still the player insert and the farewells told by a very fatalistic Shepard at the end being a striking stylistic and tonal change.

From the first episode, it was not-so-subtly hinted that the Reapers could not be defeated through conventional warfare, Shepard John-Waynesque antics notwithstanding. But since virtually every RPG in existence are about the protagonist beating impossible odds and ending the story victorious above the dead carcass of his final nemesis, pretty much everyone disregarded the bleak foreshadowing. Even with the fatalistic tone of the third episode, virtually everyone assumed that there would be a final turnabout.

Enter the one-two punch of the conclusion: first Harbinger cripple Shepard, such breaking the first part of the power-fantasy (the invincible hero), then the crucible, instead of turning the Reapers into ice creams, does not function even once connected: by denying the final turnabout to its audience, the story definitely tears Shep away from the wish fulfilment department, something which is underlined by the encouter with the Catalyst not being a "last boss" one can defeat.

notmyday said...

Nixou@ The Control ending then spit on everything you said and goes back to invincible hero. Where you become god of all reaper. Tell me how is that not power fantasy.

Mads said...


Sorry for the late reply:

That is perhaps the most inane, uninformed diatribe I've seen on the internet in a long time.
I'm sorry to hear that you feel that way.

FYI, we've been trying to define "art" since the days of Plato and Aristotle, and still don't have a consensual definition. So why would you expect Hulk's definition to be any better than anyone else's?
I don't expect it to be better, I expect him to not abandon his own definition when it doesn't suit him.

Even if it's a subjective term, the very least you can do is to make sure you apply it with logical consistency within the domain where you decide that it should be important, if you do decide that. Which he did. I can find you the podcast and give you exact quotes.

Hulk makes no bones about the fact that he writes his posts to start a dialogue, not to convince anyone of his point.
He might say that. Fair enough. But ask yourself this: If he was always looking to start dialogue, if he always possesed a position of neutrality, you'd expect his initial take to be wrong from time to time. You'd expect he'd listen as well as talk. And you'd expect him to post up and explain when he was wrong and how he was wrong; recant on prior standpoints.

Dialogue is give and take.

How often would you say he gives? That he relents or recants? That he admits to being wrong, or simply saying, upon reflection, that his initial view was flambouyant and ridiculous, here's what he realizes he really feels after some people argued their case?

Because if he never does that, it's not a bloody dialogue. So why don't you give me an example from, say, the past month, where he does this. Convince me that is his actual aim, as it were. Should be easy enough if you're right.

Nixou said...

The Control expanded ending goes back to invincible hero.

In the original, we just see the Reaper leaving the devastated earth, then the last short Buzz Aldrin dialoue confirms that life went on. The amount of control Shep has -whether it's simply giving them a single order -leave the organics alone or the capacity to completely micromanage the Reaper swarm- is left vague.

The expanded ending -being nothing more than an attempt to placate the mob of spoiled brats who were throwing a tantrum because Bioware had broken their virtual GI Joe- included a Jesus Nimroy flavored lolipop: "here's a candy, now go play somewhere else: Mommy's busy working with her Star Wars mod for WoW"

Anonymous said...

Go away Nixou! Nobody likes you!

Aiddon said...

I believe you meant to say "I don't like you, so stop talking!" There was only one person every viewer hated and it wasn't Nixou

Xaos said...

Huh. I'll be damned. It turns out not everyone on the internet IS like that jerk I wasted half a week arguing with on youtube only to never move past the contention of whether Bronies were in fact capable of creativity or not...(ugh, its called a ROM HACK, its uncreative by default.)

Seriously, though, my opinion of you has improved significantly through this one post alone. I...may have used too harsh language with you before, its just that my experience arguing this subject has not been pleasant.

I really am glad you responded, and I find your prospective refreshing to say the least.

I just don't think its a correct assessment of the situation.

First of all, the crucible DOES turn the Reapers into Ice creams (when its finally ready, that is). One of three different flavors, actually. Hostages (Synthetic life, the freedom to NOT become a Cyborg against your will, the Mass relays, etc.) are just taken with each option, is all. know, if you wanted to save the day, regardless of intellectual merit said day-saving consists of, then the game has that. Heck, you don't even really have to work for it, you have your day-saving handed to you on a silver platter by a Hologram kid.

But this is just nit-picking. Let's get into the greater details about why that "One-two" punch hit nothing but air.

Crippling the hero so that he moves at a speed of 1 mile per year does make the game a lot less fun, but that doesn't really in of itself break anything. Truly invincible heroes are not badass, but boring. The only thing that is more awesome than the One defeating the Many is if the One gets "Battle-Damaged," but fights on through his injuries. Heck, Samurai Jack (the cheesiest action cartoon there is) regularly scars and even inflicts handicaps its protagonist just to try and build tension in the mindless, long-as-hell action scenes.)

Also, cutting someone down to size does not make them "just a human being." It just makes the struggle more desperate (and badass.) They have to make an actual mistake to be fallible, otherwise they are just doing their best but still going down (heroically) in a conflict where their best just wasn't good enough. Like, not confronting somebody about suspicious behavior because you're afraid of embarrassing yourself if its nothing, and then dying when their bomb goes off. The ending could've been Shepard being captured and tortured to death and s/he would've just been considered a martyr, but no less legendary.

The biggest plot hole is why the Catalyst doesn't *just* offer the Synthesis option. It doesn't matter if Shepard is "ready" or not. Just refuse to help him and wait for the next cycle, offering ONLY Synthesis yet again. Some people still thought the Control and Destroy options were horrible because they still blew up the Relays, causing "Arrival DLC" explosions all over the Galaxy at worse, and heavily implying the death of the galactic civilization (and the starvation of the stranded victory fleet) upon which the franchise was built one at best.

Oh. Wait. Halfway through the controversy, Bioware declared that Reaper Technology could fix the relays, oh and nobody starves to death. And the thing is we didn't really have a reason to so much as suspect their optimistic outcomes the way the ending was before.

Nixou....can I ask you something?

Can we at least agree, that there WERE fans who were totally immersed in the world, and who really, really, did care about the Mass Effect universe. That somebody out there might've been hurt because they were given the impression that they were tricked into caring more about the world than the authors did?

(To be continued.)

Xaos said...

(Brief intermission for one little detail)

@ Anonymous: I wasn't going to say anything because I'm not your father or anything, and whatever your deal with Nixou is is your problem. seems that while I (slowly) type my response, you've been out there, NOT HELPING ANYBODY.

To answer your question from earlier, I'm talking to Nixou because I am trying to have an actual conversation instead of a shouting match. Sometimes that means taking absurd-sounding (to you) arguments seriously and giving them an opportunity to clarify their positions.

So I respectfully ask you to SHOOSH!

Xaos said...

I mean, I heard people say over and over again that they would have accepted even an outright apocalypse ending so long as it at least made sense. (In fact, we heard it so often, that Mr. Btongue, in his first "Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage video, actually spoke out a warning of the dangers of going too far to the other extreme and confusing being As Dark As Humanly Possible for being Deep And Meaningful.) But I also heard people calling for a more character-driven ending, rather than one where "Shepard gets all the bitches, awww yeah."

The "Extended Cut" DLC WAS needed. The ending didn't make certain things clear, and each one of these was basically a plot hole, and not of the "yeah, that's kind of weird, but oh well." variety. In fact, when I watch the DLC, I keep hearing a little teeny tiny Casey Hudson in my brain going "Oops!" every five seconds. (Presumably he already made the meanspirited "Refusal" ending and has gotten that out of his system.) Perhaps a list is in order:

-In Pre-DLC Ending, the Control Option doesn't spell out that Shepard becomes a God-AI. It says that he will control the Reapers, but he will also die and "lose everything." What? How can you control anything if you're dead? In DLC, SHEPARD ACTUALLY ASKS THIS EXACT QUESTION. "Oops!"
-Also, it may have been implied that the Control option might have turned the Geth and other synthetics into mindless obedient zombies. At least, I THINK that's the argument that "Synthesis-lovers" use to explain why the Control ending was bad. (Its not by the way. Its the one that does the least damage and guarantees that the Relays will be long as the relays don't blow up the galaxy..)
-In Pre-DLC Ending, The Mass Relays combust completely. The Arrival DLC clearly mentioned that Mass Relay explosions blow up entire solar systems. (it even forced Shepard into a dilemma that might've made the player feel *gasp* POWERLESS!) In the DLC, Shep gets to confirm with the Catalyst that that specifically won't happen. The release of energy is even less destructive to Relays this time in actual cutscenes. "Oops!"
-Joker retreats off with no warning, giving the impression he is abandoning Shepard and the Earth with no reason to do so. The DLC, he is ordered to retreat along with the rest of the fleet because "The Crucible is armed." We even see him torn up about it. "Oops!"
-Shep's squadmates miraclously teleport onto the Normandy in the orignal. In the DLC, there is a scene of them retreating while Shep moves ahead. "Oops!"
-Joker and Co. crash land on a jungle planet, implying that they are stranded there, and will be stranded there (even though the multi-species crew probably can't survive once the Normandy runs out of supplies). But, one way or another, the Relays get repaired and they are apparently rescued before anybody starves, making the whole reason for the Jungle scene confusing and pointless. "Oops!"

THOSE are the things I hear people bellyaching about, and the DLC solved them. Well, it didn't tell us why the Catalyst offers Shep the Destroy and Control options, but I guess I'll just choke that up to him getting Senile in his old age.

Anonymous said...



Anyway, what's the point? Seriously, what is the point? They're all trolls; Bob, Nixou, Hulk, all trolls.

Our arguments could be carefully constructed, blow by blow breakdowns of the opposing side. Or they could be incomprehensible, gibbering insanity. It won't make one lick of difference.

As long as ME3 exists as is, Bob and Hulk will continue to be condescending jerks who completely and aggressively miss the point, no matter how many time we try to set the on the path so we can have a serious discussion.

So I say, fuck it. Fuck it all. I'm just going to be a asshole because in the end, much like your decisions in the game, it doesn't really matter.

Xaos said...

Also, here's an offering to show my "I get Tragedies and powerlessness" cred. In fact, I would say it does it better than most games.

Its a free Flash game you hopefully never heard of before. Go ahead and play it, it'll only take 10 minutes, tops. Yeah, I know, who do I think I am, Extra Credits?

But seriously, here's the link. And remember, you only get one chance to save the world. That's how its supposed to work, anyway. (I'm a little fuzzy on if that part of the game actually works right or not. But, that is most certainly the intention.):

*intermission music*

(actually...I might as well just wait for your reply on this matter.)

Anonymous said...

O look, more pretentious arty bullshit.

Really, I get what this game was trying to do. But since I can't play it again whats the point? Irreversible decisions are the domain of the real world. If you make a game that copies the worst aspects of reality, I'm just going to stamp on your face an yell "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG"

Star-Lord fan #missing said...

I don't care about ME3 one way or the other, since I haven't played it nor do I have any interest in doing so, but there's something I don't understand...

Why is activism to get Wii JRPGs released in America a good thing, but activism to change a (according to most gamers) shitty, lazy and continuity-contradicting ending for one that makes sense and isn't crap a bad thing?

Sound hypocritical.

And I don't buy that "art can't be changed" argument.

Art has no rules, and there are lots of examples of authors modifying aspects of their work to better appeal to their audience (this happens a lot in comic books and TV shows).
Hell, it even happens in films, ever heard of George Lucas? (Yeah I know he is some kind of heretic demon to Star Wars geeks but sometimes changes can be good).

Xaos said...

@ Anon

...Sigh. That maybe so. There might be some truth to the impression that all the game journalists are too insulated from the public and too receptive to the establishment, and all too dependent on triple-A game industry ad revenue. But I wasn't lying when I said Nixou got a higher opinion of him for telling me something about the actual ending. A lot of the "Anti-retaker" crowd simply engage in personal attacks and sweeping generalizations of the gaming community, and all of them using the same words over and over again with such pervasiveness and consistency as is normally reserved for the extreme right wing. There are other words besides "Entitled", you know. Get a thesaurus!

And yeah, Nixou's doing that too, basically labeling everyone who didn't like the ending as Anti-Thinker clones that don't want to get anything from a game other than AWESOME," but his argument is at least uncommon enough to make me feel like it might be his genuine opinion.

The fact that he (nor anybody else for that matter) hasn't told me anything about how the ending is in any way BEAUTIFUL, merely focused on the trappings of "arty things" the ending has, does not in of itself take away from the fact

(But seriously, Not everything that's twisty is a "TWEEST." The story still ended with Shepard saving the galaxy. They just somehow managed to suck all the common sense out of the setting. I-is that the artistic achievement? Because it broke the world record for destroying the most Narrative Coherence in the last five minutes of a long story that HAD Coherence?)

The biggest disappointment was that Hulk was the one who linked me to "This is water."

Its...not the greatest thesis on moral thinking, but....its still an important one.

Maybe some of those SUV drivers WERE in an accident, and under orders from their therapist. Maybe it is Me who is in Their way.

On the other hand, kindness and consideration can be taken advantage of, and at a certain point you do have to put your foot down and come to the conclusion that "fairness" is the furthest thing from the other person's mind. It means nothing if they refuse to meet you half-way.

And yet, I don't know what else to do but try to strike up a conversation this way.

If its all for nothing, what's even the point of these comment lines? Nothing. Just to cause me to pull my hair out when I go over the invisible 4,000 character limit AGAIN.

Xaos said...

That game was meant for Nixou, actually.

Besides, I brought up "One chance" because UNLIKE MASS EFFECT, it actually IS a story about powerlessness. It does what Nixou claims Mass Effect does, minus the whole "reversal" thing. Actually, no, if you factor in that John begins the game as a celebrated hero who cured cancer, then it even does the reversal thing, just very early in the story.

I was trying to make a point.

You see, unlike Mass Effect, the protagonist keeps on driving the plot, it just becomes sadder and more hopeless, while the world tries again and again to get you to veer off course. I did.

The wife committed suicide, even though I could've spent the day with her instead of working on a cure. I never gave into the flirty coworker's advances, even though she correctly assumed that that was her last day on earth, and now she was dead. Everyone was dead....except for Molly.

I took the kid to work once, although the game gave me the opportunity to take her to the park in the second-to-last day. She kind of bounced a ball around sadly in the blood-stained office full of the bodies of suicide victims too numerous for me to move, while "Daddy" did scienc-y stuff that might all be for naught.

And I felt bad. And then, on the final day, and the two of us could barely move. I knew we were fucked. The opening even said "you HAD one chance" I did everything that would've been expected of me (no matter the tragic cost), but...was it too late? Did I really want to force Molly to spent what could be her last day alive playing by herself in that dusty office?

....nope. I just couldn't do it.

Fun fact: That picture was taken months ago, before the Mass effect controversy was even happening, when I played the game myself. I had no idea we would be talking about it. I saved it just because of the emotional impact it had on me. When we died, I felt sad, but also a profound sense of peace. Was this the right thing to do? WAS there a right thing to do? Somehow, it didn't seem to matter. This wasn't frustrating to me. What would I be frustrated with? Myself?

But this wasn't the moment when I saved the picture. Although I understand the purpose of the game was only to play once (and lets be honest, that car moves way too slow for a second playthrough), and I understood I was supposed to live with these consequence, I took the game so seriously, that I couldn't fight a nagging feeling. How close was I? So, I opened another tab and confirmed.

I was just one last day at the office away from developing a cure. ...Only for John and Molly but still.

Then I realized my weakness. I wouldn't say I hate my old ending, it was certainly done well. But that was unequivocially the wrong answer. I did what felt good instead of what was the best chance for saving Molly. I was...irresponsible.

This was a good lesson to learn in a simulation, rather than real life.

So, I decided that I would save that picture, to remind me of what is really important.

But I also saved it for another reason.

It reminds me of that moment of peace I felt from doing what I thought was right, although it has taken a different symbolic meaning.

And yes, its all a pretentious artist's story, possibly with all the cards stack against you! Of course he could totally screw you over and decide that there is no solution. But that's not what its about. Its about your choices and those choices producing consequences that determine how the story ends!

You know...the way that Mass Effect supposedly wanted to, but didn't because no matter what you did up to get to the ending, you're still going to kill the entire galaxy at the end 'cuz a Hologram told you too.

Anonymous said...

...what is this "Rejection" ending? Is that the new one I've heard about where if you do not choose an ending quick enough, you get one to say that you lose and everything is destroyed?

Cause if so, I can honestly say that's the one thing they could have added that would have made me happier. Don't get me wrong... I reviewed the game myself, but I loved the fact that if you dont choose, you lose everything with a game-over. It puts an extra punch into the game that there is something to lose still. in case you want to see my own words on it. (They are pre-dlc to add to the endings, but still)

- Megabyte

Xaos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xaos said...


There's no time limit.

If you shoot the hologram kid, he just gets a monster voice and says "SO BE IT." and stomps off the crucible in a huff.

And then we just fast forward to after all the exciting stuff has happened and view a hidden ruin where Liara left a message for the NEXT cycle.

So THEY build the crucible and use it to pick one of the endings like good little children. And THEY get the happy ending.

I find it incredibly huffy and juvenile. I think they did this first, to feel like a BIG MAN and get that out of their system. Before making the other endings, because the other endings are all full of admissions that "yeah, we kind of screwed up here. And here. And here. And here. Look, just take these extra scenes that help the ending finally, finally make sense, we are so, so, sorry even though we never said so in a public forum and even turned OUR forum into a police state, it would just be too much of an embarrassment to admit the fans were right all along. know, this is our attempt to make it right, even as we try to sweep everything under the rug to make ourselves look better.

Are we COOL?"

Anonymous said...

The game has been out for months, the extended cut has been made, Hulks argument for the original ending was made a week ago, and the majority of people who complained about the ending have moved on.

By now if anyone is still making this big of a deal over Mass effect 3 having a disappointing ending all I have to say is this...

Megabyte said...

wait so... there is no longer a time limit before you "just lose" when picking? Really?

That's actually kinda lame, but I wouldnt know. I havent played since finishing it before that was even announced.

Xaos said...

@ Anon:

Bob posted this on his blog (NOT so very long ago, he still hasn't put up episode 73), tell him to move on.

Really, first people fuss about me asking a Mass Effect 3-related question on another thread because it wasn't a Mass Effect topic anymore, and now that it IS both a Mass Effect topic AND the newest one on the blog?

How, exactly, are you not being unfair?

If nothing else, why single me out? I'm not the only one posting on this. Nixou, Star-Lord, and others have commented just in the last few days or so. It was almost like we were having an actual discussion. Why not ask them why they don't move on?

Really, I'm hurt by your words. But I'm starting to feel all you want is to be victorious, rather than right.

If you're worried about me keeping this inside me and never letting this go, DON'T. I don't know how many times I have to say I haven't actually played Mass Effect (I'm always surprised people don't take any issue with that. Come on, if you think I'm lying, say so to my face.) and therefore personally not "entitled" to anything, I just came to understand the "Re-takers" side, and DIDN'T come to understand who the other side could call this nonsense "art."

I mean, there's people who aren't even defending the actual content of the ending, instead making proclamations of the horrible mob strangling creative freedom and ushering in cultural stagnation (I find these to be alarmist and lacking in articulate arguments).....and then there are people who dig their heels in, IGNORE all the plot holes and declare that all of us philistines "Just don't get the message the ending was trying to convey, because your stupid and smell bad!"

..."What message would that be?" I ask. Nobody answers, they just scatter like a pack of frightened kittens.

(to be continued...fuck you, Blogger)

Xaos said...

The ending to Digimon Adventure 02 (actually, most of 02 in general, with all of its crazy half-completed story arcs) was a fucking mess, and completely wrecked that setting. (Every following season of Digimon was a reboot or re-imagining with its own unique world). BUuuuut, you could still argue that at least the ending was trying to be happy and positive and end on a high note, and you can at least trick yourself into liking it if you don't think about it too hard. But this ending? Its like a menu of all the things one could hate.

"Good Evening, sir! Tonight's specials are Loss of Focus and Narrative Coherence, Irrational Character Behavior from both Protagonist and what we THINK is the Antagonist but we aren't even really sure, important details about the fates of characters the audience cares for being glossed over, and a really stupid scene of Shepard taking a breath underneath some rubble even through s/he should be dead that nobody has even TRIED to defend. Would you to see our wine list?" And well...I just wanted to flag somebody down long enough for them to explain to me why anybody actually eats at this resturant. (Do they serve you addictively good breadsticks while your waiting or...?)

Nixou really did impress me because finally, FINALLY I found someone here who didn't just dodge the question, like everybody was doing the ACTUAL controversy was going. However, his review wasn't all that informative.

All he really said about the "resturant" was that "It wasn't another shitty burger joint like all the fatasses wanted!" ...That doesn't tell me anything about what's GOOD about it, but it was beginning to feel like fucking progress.

I'll end it by saying again: I actually did want to talk it out with somebody. Come on. Somebody tell me what IS you opinion of the (optional) breathing scene? Explain to me the brilliance and vision of adding this impossibility to the ending, let alone only deeming the player worthy of it after playing enough multiplayer? But, it feels like all I'm doing is talking to myself, and I'm fucking sick to death of it. I thought Bob might've kept bringing Mass Effect up because he just couldn't understand how anyone could've taken THEIR side. Perhaps he was seeking closure, the way I was. And I wanted to be there for him or anyone else.

Perhaps I hoped in vain. But know this:

Strawmen will never lead you to the truth, only insulate you further in the cocoon of your own beliefs. And yet, that is the only kind of arguments anyone wants to have on the net. So people break away from each other in disgust, labelling the other person a troll and agitator, and learn to only go to the havens where they don't have worry about anyone contradicting them.

This is why the internet segmented the culture more than ever, instead of uniting it like was predicted.

What still chills me to the bone was that another person I respect once told me that we, as a people, are losing our ability to argue.

Aiddon said...

yeah, off-topic, but this deserves attention:

WTF, EA?????

Xaos said...

@ Aiddon


Our country is so fucked.

Xaos said...

(Here, this was deleted from an earlier post because I couldn't fit it in. I don't really want to save it to my hard drive, but seems a shame not to post it.)

Even if you tell me something to the effect of "Oh, in my playthrough, I couldn't stop the war between the Quarians and the Geth so the Quarians died out and I thought Synthesis was a redemptive moment for my Shepard", I can still point out that for players who DID get the Quarians and Geth to stop fighting, and even fight together, and also that the Organics STARTED that war, all disprove the whole "Organics will always be threatened by synthetics and there can never be any understanding" thing.

Really, that idea in of itself, while it is the oldest (and most tired) cliche in Sci-fi, is actually quite repulsive in any other context. Watch.

"The white race will always be threatened by the mud people. Conflict is inevitable and there will never be an understanding."

No wonder we hate this ending. ITS -RACIST-!

Really. I understand that ME3 is mostly about spending the entire game helping everybody, and understanding everybody and stopping wars and bringing them all together as one big galactic family. And then all of a sudden the Catalyst wants you to address how SOME differences just cannot be resolved.

Vinny Andreotti said...

I love HULK, as well as you Bob, but I believe you can't properly gain perspective on this situation without playing the games, and clearly HULKs total misrepresentation of the series' themes most likely stems from him only playing the third game.

Normally something like Re-take would bother me, but it doesn't. Retake was never about being an overly vocal focus group. It was about devoted fans calling bullshit at corporate stagnation and interference in a beloved series which derived an ending which flies in the face of the very tenants of competent storytelling.

This, I believe, is a fundamental difference. It's also something that you and HULK tout as a living.

Honestly, what's the difference between your (well-said and spot on) bile toward The Amazing Spider Man, and Re-Take? Not enough people yelled with you?

Starfall said...

Wow. Just reading the fucking comments here you can tell just how right Film Critic Hulk is. Half the people here clearly didn't read the whole article (some even point that out in their own damn comments), others just didn't even understand what he was trying to say. It's going to be a long and tough journey to get gamers to grow up and be ready for powerful stories.

Anonymous said...


And if the Mass Effect series is what you base this quality on, we will have an even longer way to go.

Popcorn Dave said...

clearly HULKs total misrepresentation of the series' themes most likely stems from him only playing the third game

He's played all three of them, he says so in some of the comments if you want to look.

Anyway, for what it's worth, Hulk has written a follow-up article after all the negative feedback he got last time around.

A Few More Words on the Column About the Ending of Mass Effect 3

He obviously realised the dismissive tone wasn't really appropriate and that he needed to explain his position more. I think it's a vastly better and more in-depth article than the one Bob linked to. I hope the people attacking him here will take the time to read it.

Xaos said...

@ Popcorn Dave:

I read it.

Although all I didn't attack him so much as WAS attacked and subsequently lost faith in him.

By the end of this article, it sounds like he is finally trying to do what I've been attempting for a long time. Actually fucking talk about this.