So you’ll have to excuse me for my passive-aggressive review of the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut that was released yesterday. I spent all day looking forward to playing it, working on my multiplayer game in anticipation of playing through the ending again, eagerly awaiting some actual better quality storytelling, only to be bent over and fed a spoonful of shit; apparently you really can polish a turd.
For everyone out there who’s interested – or even still gives a shit about this – the “new content” isn’t really all that new. There are a couple of scenes shoehorned in to alleviate some of the more egregious plot holes, but the infamous RGB Endings are still in full effect. Now, each one has about two minutes of epilogue, consisting of a character voice-over as a hastily cobbled-together slideshow of badly drawn images plays in the background.
Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen: the best Bioware/EA could come up with is about 6 minutes’ worth of new voice-over work and a fucking slideshow. It’s not even necessarily a unique slideshow for each ending, as some slides are re-used with different endings, just with some effects either taken out or put in to suit the color scheme. I’m not even kidding about this; if you’re not sure what I’m talking about (and I’ll be as spoiler-free as possible) the “Synthesis” ending re-uses several of the slides from the other two, only adding touches of green glow everywhere – something I could probably figure out how to do, given enough time alone with a copy of Photoshop.
Not only that, but the fourth ending they put into the game, which has come to be called the “Refusal” ending, can be interpreted as Bioware/EA pretty much flipping off their entire fanbase, or at least those who went the extra mile to try to make sense of the horribly vague original endings by coming up with the Indoctrination Theory. This ending can be triggered either through a dialogue choice with Star Child, King of the Reapers, or by actually shooting him in-game – something that I (and several other people) would spend time just mindlessly doing in impotent rage, disgusted with having three “choices” that really weren’t choices.
Now, as soon as you trigger the Refusal ending, Little Boy Blue drops his voice by abut thirteen octaves and bellows out “SO BE IT” in the kind of voice you’d associate with hearing right before your poo-poo hole is violated by every single one of the Harlem Globetrotters at once. Not only did it scare the shit out of me, the ending the choice presented to me was most definitely of the “bad end” variety, indicating that refusing the three nearly identical narrative choices the game presents to you is not what the developers intended, and that a player refusing to choose from an array of three equally shitty choices is punished for taking a stand against such rampant stupidity. This struck me as the kind of passive-aggressive bullshit response stance that Bioware/EA has taken to constructive criticism of the ending of the game since the beginning, only grudgingly coming forward to a half-assed “Extended Cut” that mistakes providing clarity for an already bad ending as equal to changing a bad ending into a better one.
Truth be told, the ME3 ending experience is improved from the addition of the new content. However, this content should have been included in the game when it shipped, not included three months later and only after a groundbreaking fan outcry that polarized the gaming community into either Bioware/EA lapdogs or “entitled whiners.” As far as I’m concerned, this new content is simply a case of too little too late. The only good thing about it is that it was provided to players for free; even Bioware/EA isn’t so bloody arrogant to charge people for the privilege of playing the game they bought in its entirety, right?