Disclaimer: I have not yet completed Mass Effect 3 but I will comment to the best of my ability from what I have heard from other players who have finished it. Needless to say, spoilers will follow for both Mass Effect 3 and Fallout 3.
Finish strong. If you have a great beginning and a great middle and you nosedive in the third act, the only thing people will remember is the nosedive. Such is the case with Mass Effect 3, which, over a trilogy built up for the past five years, spiraled downward in the game’s conclusion. This sparked a massive outcry from fans who complained that the game’s ending funneled all of the big choices made, over the course of three games, into one choice that decides everything including the fate of the player’s character.
The fans were in such distress that a group of fans are in an agreement with a gaming charity called Child’s Play to change the game’s ending. Kotaku reported on the group, “called ‘Retake Mass Effect’” and the group makes it abundantly clear that “it is the right of the writers and developers of the Mass Effect series to end that series however they see fit… [we] respectfully request additional endings be added including a heroic ending which provides a better sense of accomplishment.” This group hopes that “this makes them appear less ‘angry or entitled.’” I do concur with the group and Mark Serrels’ article about why the ending should never be changed, that the artist/writer should remain in control of their creative works. Anyone getting flashbacks of Stephen King’s “Misery” should be familiar with this concept of fans wishing for a change to a story.
I do think, however, that people are allowed to express their disdain for any creative works because it allows for engaging and interesting discourse and dialogue. People are forgetting that Mass Effect 1 and 2 had one ending, regardless of choice and regardless of whether you were selfless or selfish. The journey of the previous Mass Effect games ended the exact same way with your character continually interrupting a large-scale invasion. Mass Effect 3 seems to be following suit with a singular ending based on where the Bioware writers decided to end the trilogy. It appears to me that the Mass Effect trilogy gave the illusion of choice throughout the entire trilogy, from the beginning, so for fans to be so paralyzed and dumbstruck over the Mass Effect 3 ending seems rather confusing considering the build-up and the endings of the other two games.
This reminds me of the debacle that occurred in 2008 when Fallout 3, developed by Bethesda Game Studios, ended so abruptly and reduced player choice significantly to: You die, one way or another. The ending caused an uproar that they were not allowed to play after the ending. Bethesda, in response, created post-release downloadable content which allowed the player to continue the game after the game’s “real” ending. The fans made their objections recognized by the developer and the developer replied in their favor. Only time will tell if Bioware will do the same for Mass Effect 3 and release a more satisfying ending for fans who are complaining about the game’s ending.
Sound off in the comments below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your opinions on the public’s influence on game endings.