Tuesday, June 26, 2012
ME 3 Meh
Well that was quick. Just a few hours after the "extended cut" ending went live for download the videos were up on YouTube. After having watched all four, it's still an underwhelming end for what had been one of the most breathtaking science fiction trilogies in recent years--both from a technical standpoint as well as delivering a weak emotional impact.
Technically: The quality of art in the 'clarification' montage is weak in quality, and the still images are almost identical for all three of the main endings. While the accompanying narrations do help to differentiate the endings, they still fall well short of the sixteen "wildly divergent," "non-bespoke" endings that the developers hyped.
Emotionally: There's still a real lack of gut-level, feel-it-in-your-heart payoff. The secret to the series for me and many other players is how character driven the trilogy is up until its final fifteen minutes. The relationships that a player's male or female Commander Shepard can form with a wide cast of supporting characters are both amazingly executed and very much the major draw that pulled so many guy and girl gamers into this hard science fiction franchise. While this time around the endings at least show us those characters surviving in the long run and inform us that Commander Shepard's final decision did not kill trillions of individuals and destroy civilization as we know it, there is still nowhere near enough material to give us a feel for the characters' lives. Especially for the life of whichever individual the player chose as his or her love interest. One or two cheap still shots can not wrap up attachments formed over 100+ hours of interactive game play.
Given the heroic, cut-scene endings of the previous two installments I'm still very much at a loss as to why the developers did not work to create an emotional spectrum of endings, rather than focusing on three possible resolutions to a conflict introduced in the final minutes of the series' last act, all three of which involve the sacrifice of the protagonist--a sacrifice that came out of left field for most players who had been told by the developers multiple times that their choices would shape outcome.*
Unfortunately, the emotional impact isn't anywhere near satisfying enough to justify the time investment of re-installing the game just to watch a so-so montage.
*Yes, there is the four second cut scene of the breathing chest plate in the destroy option, but with the developers unwilling to commit to showing Shepard alive and fans uncertain if that section of armor actually belongs to Shepard, there doesn't seem to be much payoff for most players.