Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Defending Mass Effect 3

Only days after writing an open letter to Bioware about how disappointed I was with the ending of Mass Effect 3, here I am writing up a defense letter. Am I consistent or what? The truth is, I feel really bad for Bioware right now. Sure ME3's ending was confusing, anticlimactic, and flat out disappointing. When the two most popular interpretations for the endings are either a) a dream that does not exist in reality and therefore never happened, or b) completely illogical nonsense that makes no sense to anyone, there is a serious problem. However, the ending is not the only part of the game. Mass Effect 3 is a great adventure nearly all the way through. I really enjoyed playing it.

The reason I decided to write this defense letter was because I saw a Twitter post from Jessica Merizan, community manager at Bioware. On her tweet, she asked what the fans' favorite mission in ME3 was. I wanted to respond her because I have a pretty great story behind why my favorite mission in ME3 is my favorite. Sadly, those stupid tweets have such a limited amount of characters, so I could not write what I felt needed to be said. Luckily, I am not limited on my blog, so I will write it here. Before I begin my tale about my favorite mission in ME3 and my defense of Bioware, I must warn any and all who read this. There be spoilers in this post. Pretty big ones too, so if you have not played ME3 to at least the start quarian/geth plot in the story, I suggest you move along now and preserve what is certainly the most compelling part of the game (at least to me).

I woke up one morning looking to get through the krogan story arc once and for all. I was frustrated at this point because my favorite character, Ashley, had been stuck in a hospital since the end of Mars. I wanted to get her back on the Normandy where she belonged. A friend told me that if I finished the krogan plot and then returned to the Citadel afterward, she would be back on my team. That was today's gaming goal. In order to finish up the krogan plot, first I had to do a favor for Wrex. Now, we have all played Wrex's mission so I won't go into details, as that is not the part of the game I wish to discuss. However, we can all remember that it was quite an emotional experience. I was never a huge fan of Grunt. I liked him, but I didn't love him. However, I was still very protective of him. Daddy issues I guess. I am not sure. Either way, when he got his full on Boromir moment, I was weeping. I went from liking Grunt, to loving his sorry ass. And when Grunt reemerged victorious, I cried even more, with happy tears this time.

After that emotional end to a very cool mission, it was time to cure the genophage. This mission was so epic, so awesome, and so emotionally moving in more ways than one, I almost thought I was at the climax of the whole game. It was that supercharged. When the mission ended, I was crying again. But I was also jazzed. Several of this game's best moments happen in this mission. "You've been a champion to the krogan people, a friend of clan Urdnot and a brother to me," Wrex says. And to top it all off, we get the sad, yet inspiring farewell to one of the best characters in the ME universe, Mordin Solus. Again, I cried.

At this point, I was emotionally drained. I just wanted to quit. I needed a break from ME3 for at least the rest of the day. I decided to follow my friend's instruction and pick up Ashley so that I would have her for the next mission. Big mistake. I headed back to the Citadel only to find that Cerberus was throwing a coup. I couldn't quit now, I had a galaxy to save.

This was my favorite mission. The Citadel Coup. The action was intense, the story was solid, the tension was at its peak, and I was already emotionally drained form the missions that came before. At one point in playing this mission, the batteries to my controller died. After a brief freak out, I quickly leaped up and grabbed some spare batteries, however, I couldn't swap them out. You see, due to my obsession with marathoning this game, I played the most tense, exciting and emotionally gripping missions in rapid succession. This was like swallowing 5 pounds of sugar, drinking a quart of coffee and then taking a hit of speed. My hands were shaking from all of the adrenaline, and as much as I tried, I could not replace the batteries to my controller. My hands were literally shaking that bad. Thankfully, my little brother was watching me play, and he kindly assisted me in my time of need.

The Citadel Coup garnered a physical reaction from me unlike any game I have ever played, movie I have ever watched, or book I have ever read. Battling all of those Cerberus agents in a familiar area, facing off with Kai Leng for the first time, Thane's epic biotic bitch slap, the confrontation with Ashley, a sad yet fitting goodbye to one of my personal favorite characters; all of it combined to make these the most memorable moments in ME3. And when it was all over, I had my two great loves back on the Normandy, Ashley and Elanor, where they belonged. Oh, you don't know who Elanor is? Oh yeah. That's my Revenant light machine gun. I loved the gun so much that I named her Elanor back in ME2. Yup. That may seem strange to you, but when your two favorite sci-fi stories are Firefly and Farscape, you grow an affinity for naming fine weaponry.

Amidst this ending debacle, I just wanted to voice my appreciation for ME3. I already voiced my concern, but I have always said, if you are going to cut someone, you may as well have the common decency to put a band-aid on the wound. So here is your band-aid Bioware. ME3 was a thrilling experience. No matter what happens, you gave me one of the most thrilling gaming experiences of my life, one that will not easily be outdone. Heck, maybe that is why I did not care for the ending, because that Citadel Coup was just so unbelievably impressive. Even you couldn't out do that moment. That's not a bad thing, really. I'm sure some fans hated this mission, but for me, it was the best. So thanks Bioware for the Citadel Coup.

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