Mass Effect 3 Dilemma

So the final DLC (Down Loadable Content) for Mass Effect 3 dropped today.  Thus far I have resisted purchasing any of the DLC’s for this game.  I had the same reaction to Dragon Age 2.  I didn’t buy a single DLC.  But for Mass Effect 1 and 2 and Dragon Age: Origins I bought every DLC.  The games were just that good.  But now my resolve is being tested.

From the trailer it’s apparently old home week all the living characters with whom you’ve adventured return.  And you get a snazzy apartment.  And maybe you get to spend some quality time with your love interest before bad guys try to kill you.  Getting to reconnect with Wrex and Zaeed and others is very, very tempting, and the chance to spend more time with Kaidan — really tempting.  But like the other DLC’s it suffers because it fundamentally affects nothing in terms of the ending, and I think it undercuts one of the great strengths of the third game.  The building tension, stress and exhaustion under which Shepard is operating.  One of the more powerful cutscenes in the third game is when Joker is desperate because Anderson has told him to “look out” for Shepard, and he awkwardly tries to ease the commander’s sense of grief and failure.  It’s an honest and very human moment.

The entire setup also seems to violate Shepard’s fundamental character.   You’ve been given this enormous apartment, but if you’ve played a paragon Shepard you’ve been  trying to convince the Citadel to take in more refugees, and people are living cheek to jowl in squalid conditions.  Why wouldn’t the good commander offer space in this giant apartment to refugee families?  He’s got a pretty nice cabin back on the Normandy.

Then there’s the whole — Reaper’s are kicking the shit out of Earth, and other planets are burning, and millions are dying, but you’re going to have a party?  Again, it seems so out of character.  Apparently you’re back at the Citadel for repairs to your ship which helps explain this side mission and takes off some of the curse, but the tone is worrisome. 

And somebody is trying to kill the person who is leading the effort to prevent the annihilation of all intelligent life in the galaxy?  Why would anyone do that?  Because they’re crazy?  But now you have an insane antagonist, and that’s always difficult to pull off.  They did manage to make that work in THE DARK KNIGHT primarily because of Michael Cain as Alfred’s wonderful story about taking out the bandit leader by burning down the forest, “Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money.  They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with.  Some men just want to watch the world burn.”    But in Mass Effect 3 we’re talking the destruction of every living soul in every advanced civilization.  That’s some pretty serious crazy if you want that to happen, and a very elaborate way to commit suicide if that’s what you actually after.   For villains to be truly effective they have to think of themselves as the hero.  As the writer you should be able to make a compelling argument for the villain’s position.  Perhaps my training as a lawyer — to be able to argue both sides of a problem — has helped me with that, but I think it’s critical.  Otherwise you just end up with villains who are evil because they are evil.  Not a lot of nuance there.

Bottom line — I’ll wait to read the reviews.  If there’s quality time with the characters and LI (Love Interest) then maybe, but if it’s mostly just a run-and-gun I’m less interested.  I need the next great narrative driven RPG to come along.  Maybe it will be Dragon Age 3?   Sadly, I confess to being skeptical.

8 Responses to Mass Effect 3 Dilemma

  • Doughnut says:

    Firstly I must apologise myself. I am not a native english speaker, so please excuse for possible mistakes. Its kinda hard for me to express my fellings in different language, especially about the things like story and such:)

    I must say that from what I’ve read about your opinions on ME3 ending and basically everything that is considered bad about the game (storywise) I preatty much agree with you on most of the things. I actully consider myself a supporter of the “Indoctrination ending”, ie. that everything after Harbingers beam is a reapers attempt to indoctrinate Shepherd and that we never actually get the real ending of the story because all ending presented in the game are just reaper mindtricks in your head (well except maybe the destroy ending, where you supposedly break from the indoctrination in the end, but still, its not the ending)

    But about the DLC. I actually played it and preatty much enjoyed it. Even with the problems you poited out like shortleave of someone who is leading the efforts againts the reapers seems weird. But the events of the DLC could have taked like 2 ingame days so that doesn’t seem that far fetched. I sort of liked the atmosphere of the dlc. On the one side there si lots of ingame jokes and references and the tone is lighter (it kinda remaided me of some kind of anniversary episode the tv shows have) but at the same time (especially during and after the “party”) you feel quite sad because even despite all the reasurence from your teammebers, you know that shepherd will die at the end.
    I liked this DLC best from all 3 that has come out. I quite enjoyed the both omega and leviathan (even if I don’t like the introduction of the leviathans themselves). It does not change the ending or fill any important plot hole (some may say it adds a few), but if you are willing of little “Suspension of disbelief” (i hope that the right term for it 😀 ) because of the the things you poited out (like using the appartment for yourself instead of war reffuges and stuff), the dlc is kinda nice way of saying a little personal goodbye to the world and characters you like and love so much. At least that how I feel it:)
    Have a nice day!

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    Well, the reviews have come in, and I’ve very excited to buy this newest and the final DLC for Mass E effect. I have a feeling I won’t actually make it to the end of Mass Effect 3 after I play this adventure on the Citadel, but it sounds like a lovely send off to characters I have come to love over three games and many hours of play.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    Hey, Doughnut, thanks for the comment, and your impressions of the DLC. As you can see from my latest comment — I am going to buy this DLC. It sounds like just what I need — a way to say goodbye to these characters I have loved and enjoyed through so many hours of gameplay. I cared about them all enough to write a story. Which I haven’t done since I became a professional writer.

    I think the fans who came up with the IT theory were geniuses, and I wish BioWare had gone with that fix, but for 2 and one third games Mass Effect was practically perfect. I think I will replay the first game many times in the years to come.

    Again, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • wolflahti says:

    When you use abbreviations or other jargon-esque terminology, it’s generally recommended to define the terms the first time they are used. Maybe I’m the last remaining person on Earth who doesn’t know what DLC stands for, but knowing would likely have made your post more understandable.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    Sorry about that. I have gone deep into geekdom, and, incorrectly it appears, assumed that everyone who stops by my site is as deep into the geek as me. I will rectify that going forward. I’ll Edit the post when I get a chance.

    DLC — Downloadable Content.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    As Wolflahti pointed out I sort of went right into the deep end of geekdom, and neglected to explain certain abbreviations. I’ve gone back and corrected that. I’ll try to be better going forward about not speaking/typing in Geek Speak since probably not everybody who might stop by suffers from my terrible, very bad, horrible video game addiction. 🙂

  • David Acton says:

    Melinda, I’m curious what you thought of this DLC? I’m in the same boat as you re: the ME3 endings, and swearing off any ME3 DLC’s.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    I still haven’t played it. I was asked by a BioWare person to play it and tell them what I thought so I plan to do so. Of course then I had the problem where my bank decided I couldn’t possibly be buying points for my X-Box and alerted the fraud department. Then Microsoft decided I couldn’t be trusted either and wouldn’t let the card go through. I’m going to try today to buy some points and buy Citadel.

    That’s why I’ve been playing ME3 was to get to a point where I could evaluate Citadel. I have to say, now that I’ve written my own ending and aftermath and I know that that nonsense at the end of the game wasn’t actually what happened. 🙂 I don’t have quite the emotional reaction that I had when I finished my first play through, and was so utterly and totally appalled.

    It’ll probably be another month before I get to Citadel, but I’ll let you know what I think. I’m debating Leviathan, but only because I want more time to adventure with Kaidan. I still think playing the backstory was a terrible idea.

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