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Old 2013-04-08, 10:36   Link #3741
Dark Faith
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
These graphics/specs arms-races aren't profitable for anyone, and judging by the popularity of mobile gaming, most customers don't care about bleeding-edge graphics--they care that the game is fun.

And really, isn't that the whole point?
Couldn't agree more. Good graphics are nice to have, but we're long past the "good graphics" stage, nowadays I feel we're into the "superfluous gralphics" area. Looking good is a plus, but do we really need graphics that come this close to the real thing?

We used to have fun with much simpler things. Heck, the snake game on the old Nokias could keep me hooked for hours, as did Gameboy - in fact, nowadays I'm more likely to spend hours playing a Gameboy/NDS rom than an MMO or single player game. Why? Because it's FUN.

Somewhere along the way, people lost sight of that simple fact. Games are meant to be fun, everything else is an extra.
Nowadays graphics seem to come first, and only then comes gameplay. I mean, heck, just look at game trailers (especially MMOs). It's all about "Look at how PRETTY OUR GAME IS!".

Boring.

Now getting back on topic, the Mass Effect trilogy was superb, but the ending was bad. Very, very bad.
For a game that was all about making choices and dealing with the consequences, this "pick a color and enjoy the cutscene" ending was really disappointing. And while I can understand the constraints of time (and money), this was a really short sighted decision. Sure, EA managed to score a profit at that time after 5 years of bleeding money, but at what cost in the future? How many players felt so cheated by that that they'll boycott (read: pirate) EA's next releases instead?

Don't get the wrong, ME3 was great... but as a person that enjoys the ending of a tale as much as the journey towards that end, I felt cheated.
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Old 2013-04-08, 10:46   Link #3742
synaesthetic
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Yes, I had more fun playing Ys Origin (a 2006 PSP game ported to Steam, with a resolution and texture bump being the only graphics adjustments) than I had playing many more expensive games.

Though ME3 is pretty goddamned fun. The game is basically 98% gold, but unfortunately that last 2% is shit and it's the ending. The DLC has been very strong as well, continuing the trend from ME2 (unlike ME1, which had pretty crappy DLC).
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Old 2013-04-08, 12:03   Link #3743
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After replaying the entire series (with my nice PS3 edition of the games), I can equivocally say the original ending(s) is the only true ending, and it is pretty damn great (which is a slight change form my initial reaction).

I am not a gamer. I put very little of myself into a character. I only care about the story being told, and while the ME universe blended traditional and non-traditional storytelling in a unique and fun way (that allowed my own input into what happens next), ultimately the core story is still resistant to any "tampering" from the audience (in fact, I would even go so far as to say the main story isn't even about choice until the final moments).

Mass Effect is about cycles (this has been said many times before, by critics and the creators alike). Creation, Death, Love, Hate, Violence, Revenge, etc. Everything is a cycle. The trick - if it can be called a trick - of Mass Effect 3's ending is the realization that we really only have 3 distinct choices concerning the cycles of the universe: Ending them, Harmonizing with them, or simply Continuing them (this is somewhat simplistic, but still acceptable). All three paths lead to a similar understanding of the universe, or at least an understanding of life, death and potential rebirth. Ending a cycle can only be done with violence, in this case the death of all synthetic life and all the collateral damage this entails (all in the name of total victory). Creating harmony can only be done by sacrificing uniqueness and a species individuality; becoming not one with everything, but an actual part of everything. And finally continuing the cycle is only done through cooperation (becoming the leader of the Reapers) even if the continued threat is still relevant. Individually the choices are quite profound, but together they create a wonderful little discourse on the human condition (they're not in-depth enough to create any type of analytical understanding of the individual players, but they are pretty telling of the basic intentions of each player).

I think the endings are so disliked by some for the simple reason that they represented choices the audience did not want. The choices Shepard is confronted with are not the choices the gamers have made up to this point (in many respects they are the Catalysts choices). Rather they are actual story choices rather than gameplay choices. Truthfully, as you play the series the presentation of choice is readily apparent to not be the story itself, but rather the gameplay for the story - you are given variables, but the ending is inevitable. The biggest moments in the ME universe are entirely out of Shepard's (the players) control. A teammate still dies in ME1 no matter what you do; Liara's mother still dies no matter how sympathetic you are to her tragedy; you still must stop Saren (even if you don't have to actually kill him yourself); you still must go through the Omega Relay (even if you can improve your chances of success before you go); you still must stop the Reapers; etc. For every choice in the Mass Effect universe, their is an absolute (for without absolutes, there is no story). (Choice, in turn, becomes the flair or flavour of the series ('I chose to save the Rachni because...', 'I chose Liara because...', 'I chose to be female because...',etc), representing individuality on part of the gamer, but these choices are not strictly relevant to the overall story.)

The world of ME is grey. A Paragon Shepard is just as "good" or "bad" as a Renegade Shepard. There is a reason the Catalyst chooses to take the shape of the child Shepard could not save (who in turn is symbolic of all that Shepard can and cannot do). The story of Mass Effect is just as much the story of Shepard's abilities as it is his/her inabilities.

What follows from this final choice, the repeated imagery throughout the endings, still contains its own core contextual understanding. Ending the cycle brings everything back to zero - the Normandy crashes and Eden is now technologically devoid and figuratively uncorrupted. Continuing the cycle - the Normandy crashes, yet nothing truly changes. And, Synthesis - the Normandy crashes, but now true harmony exists in the universe even if some individuality had to be sacrificed in the process (best symbolized by the glorious image of Joker and EDI standing side-by-side as true equals). Due to the context, all the endings are unique even if they repeat the same images.

(And what's more, the choices and endings are resolved. Rather than simply "winning" the game, we are treated to actual resolved storylines (well, maybe not the Control ending since that only continues the cycle).)

Again, I'm not a traditional gamer, so the ending(s), especially when experienced after plowing through the entire series in one go, was particularly powerful and a little emotional mostly because I felt it enlivened many unspoken themes and understandings of the character separate from the individual player (rather than specifically what the individual player would do). I believe it to be not only the best possible ending for the series, but also one of the best endings of a game series ever (and possibly just one of the best endings period).

edit: now I'm off to play the DLCs. Beyond the Liara DLC from 2 and somewhat the Javik from 3, I don't consider the others to be "plot" important (if they were, then they would have been included, or at least mentioned, in the core games). Can't wait to play Omega and Citadel.

Last edited by james0246; 2013-04-08 at 12:20.
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Old 2013-04-08, 13:25   Link #3744
synaesthetic
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I don't have a problem with the endings because they lacked choice. I have a problem with the original (and EC endings now) because they're horribly written. I haven't seen such a blatant deus ex machina in a serious work in ages.

The synthesis ending is also especially hated by me on a meta level because it's a blatant and obvious ripoff of the merge/Helios AI ending from Deus Ex and the JC Denton ending in Deus Ex: Invisible War. The Destroy ending (pre-EC) is also a ripoff of the Tracer Tong ending in DX1 and an incredibly cliche ending period--the incredibly annoying Hollywood line "technology is evil, we should rid ourselves of it and be pure and natural again."
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Old 2013-04-08, 13:40   Link #3745
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^I don't feel they are deus. If anything, the Catalyst is an Oz type charater who rips away the curtain to expose the hidden workings of the universe. Consequently, its powers are standins for the creators themselves as they give the player the ability to resolve the story. It's perfectly coherent and logical with everything previous (Shepard did spend an entire game looking for this very power, it just came in a form he/she did not expect), only this time Shepard sees the expanse of the universe rather than just his/her life and choices.

As for rip-offs...well why should that matter? As long as it works within the confines of the story why should it really matter if we have seen it before? And I also didn't see the return to zero as a good ending. Though, I'm fairly confident it isnt supposed to be considered a good or bad, but a choice for the individual player.
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Old 2013-04-08, 13:46   Link #3746
Rising Dragon
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How is the Synthesis ending anything but Deus Ex Machina? With no buildup or potential, let alone a damn explanation as to how it's even possible, you're suddenly given a choice of using space-magic to turn everyone into a hybrid of organic and synthetic. That's a DEM, no matter how you spin it.
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Old 2013-04-08, 13:52   Link #3747
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How is the Synthesis ending anything but Deus Ex Machina? With no buildup or potential, let alone a damn explanation as to how it's even possible, you're suddenly given a choice of using space-magic to turn everyone into a hybrid of organic and synthetic. That's a DEM, no matter how you spin it.
Save for the fact that Shepard spent an entire game looking for just such a device. The catalysts form is different from expectations (as are its solutions), but it is essentially what Shepard (and in many respects the player) wanted all along.
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Old 2013-04-08, 14:19   Link #3748
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
Save for the fact that Shepard spent an entire game looking for just such a device. The catalysts form is different from expectations (as are its solutions), but it is essentially what Shepard (and in many respects the player) wanted all along.
I don't remember Shepard ever wanting everyone to be the same race. You have the choice of Legion's side or Talia's side, or alternatively peace between them. You did not at any stage decide to fuse these two peoples together.

I can accept a lot of things. But "we need everyone to be the same to have peace" is not one of them. That having differences is somehow a negative is perplexing.

It would be like solving the Turian-Human war by turning humans into Turians.
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Old 2013-04-08, 14:25   Link #3749
Dark Faith
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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
Save for the fact that Shepard spent an entire game looking for just such a device. The catalysts form is different from expectations (as are its solutions), but it is essentially what Shepard (and in many respects the player) wanted all along.
I spent the entire game looking for a weapon that'd let me destroy the reapers (since apparently "building a shitton of warships" wasn't a valid objective), not something that'd screw around with biology across the galaxy for giggles.
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Old 2013-04-08, 14:26   Link #3750
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Wow, that's a Broken Aesop for the ages right there.

Peace is only possible if everyone is homogenous and exactly the same!
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Old 2013-04-08, 14:45   Link #3751
james0246
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Peace is only possible if everyone is homogenous and exactly the same!
I'm not sure where this idea that everyone is the same comes from. Did the creators say that is what synthesis was? Because I took synthesis to be a newly stated but evident commonality amongst the species (like most species being carbon based), but not the sole defining characteristics. Asari are still asari and geth are still geth. Now they just share a common feature. So any bias based on disparity becomes unnecessary...though still possible.

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Old 2013-04-08, 14:50   Link #3752
Rising Dragon
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The issue most people had with the Synthesis ending, other than the fact that it's bloody space-magic, is that it's a forceful conversion of an entire galaxy's population, without giving them any say on the matter.

I can agree with you that the Destroy and Control endings weren't DEM--plenty of build-up for it, at least on the Destroy side, in that Shepard's trying to find a weapon that'll annihilate the Reapers... and we have plenty of "We can control them!" coming from Cerberus... but only if you ignore the fact that on the player's side of things, it was built up as "You can't control the Reapers, you're indoctrinated and they're using you!"

Which makes Control ending's "Whoops, I guess I CAN control the Reapers!" make that much less sense. And most people's problem with the Destroy ending is that you're railroaded into destroying all synthetics, which pisses people off if they already proved they CAN co-exist, because the game is essentially telling you "Fuck your beliefs, we're doing what I want."
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Old 2013-04-08, 15:16   Link #3753
Dark Faith
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And, Synthesis - the Normandy crashes, but now true harmony exists in the universe even if some individuality had to be sacrificed in the process (best symbolized by the glorious image of Joker and EDI standing side-by-side as true equals).
(And what's more, the choices and endings are resolved. Rather than simply "winning" the game, we are treated to actual resolved storylines (well, maybe not the Control ending since that only continues the cycle).)
Thing is, no matter how hard I try, I can't percieve Synthesis as a "good" ending (or any of them, for that matter...) since you've just basically conjured space magic to change the physiology of every race in the galaxy, their opinion on the matter be damned.
It's like one day everyone wakes up and has an extra appendage because some guy decided that was the way to go. Somehow, I can see a lot of people throughout the galaxy being unhappy with having their bodies changed without their consent, regardless of how minor the change may have been (do we even know?). So how "resolved" is that storyline? To me it just seems like shit's about to hit the fan.

I expected.. hell, I wanted the crucible to be some sort of Death Star-like weapon that was able to anihilate reapers by the dozens. And after that I'd get a choice about how to use that technology.
Instead I got a space station manned by a pintsized Deus Ex Machina that shoots rainbows which affect all life in the galaxy.

So I just threw in the towel, walked away and let the reapers have their fun. I wanted no part in those nonsensical endings. Let the next cycle deal with this crap
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Old 2013-04-08, 15:19   Link #3754
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The issue most people had with the Synthesis ending, other than the fact that it's bloody space-magic, is that it's a forceful conversion of an entire galaxy's population, without giving them any say on the matter.
Especially when they throw in Joker and EDI like they are somehow now happier to be the same species. That wasn't want their relationship was based on, it doesn't improve anything that mattered.

Whoever wrote that ending have absolutely no understanding of the ramifications.
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Old 2013-04-08, 15:30   Link #3755
james0246
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I spent the entire game looking for a weapon that'd let me destroy the reapers (since apparently "building a shitton of warships" wasn't a valid objective), not something that'd screw around with biology across the galaxy for giggles.
To be fair, that was your expectations, not what was ever actually stated. And, you were still in the end given that choice, you just had to accept all the consequences of such a choice.

(And I never thought building a "shitton of warships" was an option. Beyond the timing (can you really make a bajillion ships in two years?), if all you needed to defeat a billion year old crisis was a shitton of anything then the crisis would have been adverted long ago. No, the option was never sheer brute force. This is part of the reaosn Shepard has his awful recurring dream of complete failure - he/she knows that brute force and grit will not save the day.)

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The issue most people had with the Synthesis ending, other than the fact that it's bloody space-magic, is that it's a forceful conversion of an entire galaxy's population, without giving them any say on the matter.
It's all space magic. You spend an entire game looking for space magic, because that's the only thing that can save you. Sadly, the space magic you thought would just make the Reapers go poof, instead presented you with a true choice for how the future will be laid out.

I do agree that the moment is very meta within the game. As a character, Shepard cannot know the wills of his/her creators or even his/her players, so the decision is even starker than we realize. But, I do feel that is what Bioware was going for. Very few choices in the game really matter (sad, but true; especially if you realize that most choices reflect gameplay rather than true story development). They are a fun bit of gameplay, but few actually fundamentally change the player's outlook on the in-game universe. These final choices change everything.

That being said, I never understood the critique of choice for non-player characters (i.e. the universe has no say in whatever Shepard decides). From day one of the game, everything Shepard has done could potentially change the universe, and he/she seldom if ever actually talks to anyone about his/her decisions. The moment you let the Rachni live is the moment you've given up any chance of critiquing the game for allowing Shepard to choose for the universe.

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And most people's problem with the Destroy ending is that you're railroaded into destroying all synthetics, which pisses people off if they already proved they CAN co-exist, because the game is essentially telling you "Fuck your beliefs, we're doing what I want."
I disagree. Despite the fact that a true Renegade would have already killed off the Quarians or the Geth long before the end (and would be inclined toward Destroy anyway), I do believe the final decision for Destroy is supposed to be seen as bad. Bioware wants you to have the option though, even if they do not necessarily see it in the same light as Control or Synthesis. And when seen in regards to the theme of cycles, a complete end to a cycle is a must in terms of options (even if the end is over-the-top violent and destructive).

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Especially when they throw in Joker and EDI like they are somehow now happier to be the same species. That wasn't want their relationship was based on, it doesn't improve anything that mattered.
See, I didn't get that they were the same species. The convergence of synthetic and organic did not create One species, it added something to all species that already exist (within the realm of the blast). Joker and EDI are still separate species, they just now share a more advanced commonality. (Personally, despite whatever the creators may or may not have said, I've never believed that the child seen at the end is Joker and EDI's child.)

I do understand the criticism of this commonality being a morally ambiguous (if not harmful) approach to peace. But, I also never thought Synthesis actually created peace. There was no changing of ideas or ideals. Different Religions and their gods still exists. And presumably so to do various syn-biological differences (the Rachni and Krogan still breed like bugs, the Asari are still mono-gendered, and the Quarian and Turian still can only eat certain types of food). The forcible change may be "awful", but I never believed it really changed that much (in terms of the individuals).
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Old 2013-04-08, 15:59   Link #3756
Rising Dragon
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It's all space magic. You spend an entire game looking for space magic, because that's the only thing that can save you. Sadly, the space magic you thought would just make the Reapers go poof, instead presented you with a true choice for how the future will be laid out.
That's true, but unlike the Synthesis ending, there's ways around making it look like space magic. Destroy Ending could easily have been sending out a signal from the Catalyst that forces all the Reapers to self destruct. Control Ending is the same thing, sending out a signal of Shepard's will to alter their programming and force them to stand down.

Synthesis? Not so much, you get blatant space magic changing everyone at the cellular level across the entire galaxy.
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Old 2013-04-08, 16:07   Link #3757
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Synthesis? Not so much, you get blatant space magic changing everyone at the cellular level across the entire galaxy.
Synthesis is also a strange ending because it only becomes a choice after you've done a predetermined amount of "good" (or at least acquired a predetermined amount of military readiness) in the universe. You are only allowed to "change" the universe after you've changed the universe (truly united it). There's something very interesting about that...
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Old 2013-04-08, 16:10   Link #3758
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Or farmed multiplayer for a good few hours.
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Old 2013-04-08, 16:23   Link #3759
james0246
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Or farmed multiplayer for a good few hours.
LOL, too true . I wish I was more into the multiplayer (for this game), but it just never interested me. Some of it sounds fun, but it also sound a little pointless.
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Old 2013-04-08, 16:36   Link #3760
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The problem with Synthesis as space magic vs. the rest of the game's space magic: it's not explained, nor is it internally consistent.

Mass Effect is very, very much like Gundam in that Magic A is Magic A. It explains everything. Everything is internally consistent. Synthesis is not. It's blatant deus ex machina. Even "telepathy" was explained during the Leviathan DLC, where Ann Bryson tells you that the rachni communication methods are basically an organic quantum entanglement communications system. Same with the Leviathans and their mental domination powers.

Eezo and mass effect fields are the Minovsky particle of the ME universe, but the Synthesis ending makes no goddamned sense even in context!
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