For the record, I don’t have a single issue with the Mass Effect 3 ending. I really liked it. Maybe it was because I was really to please. Maybe it was because I was expected something truly god awful based on what people were saying on Twitter. Or maybe it’s because I’ve seen much MUCH worse. Here’s a handful of endings that pissed me off in ways that Mass Effect 3 never could.
Battlestar Galactica: If there is way one to quickly push my buttons it’s a cheap cop-out ending. It was all a dream? Bite me. But one that gets going even more so? God did it. And that’s what we get at the end of the new BSG re-imagining. No real explanation. Just ‘God did it and that’s why it all works.’ You have got to be kidding me. No. You don’t just get to wave that wand around because you have some pseudo-religious themes in your show. You have to EARN ‘God did it’. There has to be reasons. There has to be motives. God doesn’t get a free pass because it’s God. It doesn’t work that way.
So unless you can actual give me an explanation as to why ‘God’ decides to wipe out the Cylons, sends them to a mysterious planet that they dub new ‘Earth’, destroy all their technology and jump start humanity. Cause as it stands there is NO REASON for them to do most of that other than to cram in a stupid message that technology is bad and God is good and they are somehow mutually exclusive.
Ranma 1/2: What’s worse than a bad ending? Well, how about a non-ending? Ranma 1/2 wrapped up after hundreds of pages of manga with a complete and utter non-event. The two closest things we have to main characters in a cast of dozens seem to be about to be married – something that was a LOOOONG time coming, and then POW! The whole wedding gets ruined by the baker’s dozen of other potential suitors and the massive series ends with a still shot of the two NOT married teens running off to school like they always do. No real conclusion. The end message is: put the last few volumes on a loop and read until the end of time. Thanks. Fabulous.
Teen Titans: Things. F-ing. Change. The biggest middle finger to the fans I can possible think off. Let’s bring back a very important character that was thought gone for good a few seasons back, make it super ambigous about whether its a look alike/clone/etc by giving them amnesia and a bunch of other weird hints, and then don’t resolve it giving one of the main cast a nice heaping helping of woobie angst in the process. Oh, and by the way: SERIES FINALE. This episode never existed as far as I’m concerned.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Okay, so you spend 24 episodes of a 26 episode series building up some horrific apocalyptic ‘Third Impact’ event that will wipe out everything. So how do you start episode 25? Oh, with a text screen that proudly announces that the apocalypse already happened and the following two episodes take place AFTER that.
Beyond the fact that the last two episodes are entirely philosophical debates that take place within the main character’s head, there is never any explanation as to how or what the apocalypse was. You actually get the feeling at the end of Episode 24 that they just stopped the last risk that could have triggered it!
Luckily, we get a movie that explains what happened. Or maybe it’s a ‘what if’ alternate universe thing. No one is really sure if they are supposed to be in the same continuity. I always assumed they did. But the movie is just as whack-a-doo as the show or more so in some cases. And as a giant middle finger to the audience they made an even MORE non-sensical ending. Complete with utterly irrelevant imagery, vague dialogue and little to no context crammed in for the last minute.
Chrono Cross: So you’ve spent dozens of hours hacking your way through a plot more dense than Akira meets the Kingdom Hearts franchsie, and defeated the final boss. Finally we have a chance for some clarity as that last piece slides into place and puts all of this in some kind of conte- Who is that? Why is there some random live action girl wandering around live action Tokyo? Why does she have the magic pendant?
The ending of Chrono Cross requires more work in trying to decipher what it is supposed to be than the entirety of the rest of the game. And in a game that involves alternate universes, time travel, body swapping, conspiracies within conspiracies within conspiracies… that is saying A LOT. To be honest, I have no clue how anyone figured out what’s going on here without some kind of supplemental material. Which considering Square Enix’s fondness for companion books may have been the case. Anyway, it confused the heck out of me in an already confusing game.
So with Mass Effect 3 coming out in… *looks at Xbox 360 screen* T-3 days? Whatever. Tuesday. I’ve decided to do one last play through of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. I’ve heard through the inter-web-o-sphere grapevine that the Normandy in ME3 will feature a memorial wall for all the people who have died in the trilogy, also the fact that almost everyone you’ve ever teamed up with will be showing up at some point in the game. Well, what happens if those people aren’t there to team up? Who replaces them? In every single save game of ME2 I’ve got, I have saved Wrex, I have kept my entire crew alive through the suicide mission, and everything is set for war with the reapers. But what if you fill up that memorial wall and kill everyone? Well, mostly everyone. My end goal of this last play through is to leave just enough people alive to ensure that the save imports into Mass Effect 3. That means killing everyone you can except for 2 crew members. Easy, right? Wrong.
Oh sure, in the first Mass Effect it’s really easy. There’s a maximum of two crew members that can be permanently killed off. The fun comes in finding ways to kill off NPCs as well. Captain Kirrahe on Virmire? Yea. Skip all the side missions, and send more guards his way and you can guarantee that the good captain won’t be able to hold the line. The Council? Oh you betcha. The Rachni? Dead as door nails. The Zhu’s Hope colonists? Well, let’s just say my Shepard is the Butcher of Torfan AND Feros now. It makes things so much easier not bothering to save people. I actually made it through the game, even with a large chunk of the side quests complete, in record time.
Mass Effect 2, on the other hand, is where things get tricky. It does still shorten the game to not have to worry about loyalty missions or having a good paragon or renegade score to settle disputes, but the real task is making sure that you kill the most people and still surviving to the end. The general idea is to have all but two crew members die in the final suicide mission. That means not rescuing the Normandy crew, and killing off the majority of your team mates. However you MUST have at least two team members survive or else Commander Shepard himself will die and you won’t be able to import the game into Mass Effect 3. Considering the nature of the suicide mission, and how many factors and decisions can lead to death or survival, this requires a careful hand and a lot of planning. I’ve hunted down charts, checklists, and made countless sticky notes to plot the course of who should die and when. Thankfully, the internet has provided ample resources of how things like not researching improved armor will affect the final mission, including a list of who will die and in what in what priority. I can only imagine the research that went into figuring out how each of these events can shakedown.
I haven’t finished the play through yet. I’m about 3/4ths done at the moment. But I’ve been getting this weird sort of mix of glee and dread in the fact that I am purposefully doing something so counter intuitive. This isn’t like the Ironman Challenge where it’s about restricting yourself to increase the challenge. At least, not that I am aware of yet. That opinion may change once ME3 comes out and I see the results of all of this. But to actively plot the demise of your own team and to be crossing your fingers to hope that they all perish in the flames of battle is something you don’t do in video games too often. I know I’m crazy, but there’s crazy and then there’s crazy. You know what I mean?
So have you ever worked to do something in a game that is the complete antithesis of what you should be doing?