Tuesday, March 05, 2013

On bad (as in REALLY bad) video game writing...

Well, there you have it, folks. After a year of hoping for some glimmer of light, or the possibility of an ending that doesn't destroy the narrative of all three games, the final DLC for Mass Effect 3 has been released, and to quote the ever brilliant Top Gear, "It's not gone well."

Now, I'll say right away that this blog post is going to include spoilers for that new DLC, called simply 'Citadel'. And so, therefore, I'm going to make sure I only put in spoilers after the break; only click through and read it if you've played the Citadel DLC, or if you don't mind being spoiled, or if you're so jaded with the Mass Effect 3 debacle that you don't care...

Still with me? Right then, I'll continue. My vociferous hatred for the ending of Mass Effect 3 is well known by anyone who actually knows me. I loathe it, I really do, and I loathe the way it retroactively manages to knacker the preceding two games, as well. For those who haven't had the sheer horror of witnessing it first hand, the ending comes in the absolute worst form of deus ex machina, an almost literal one in fact, where you're taken up to meet the 'Catalyst', known variously as 'Spacebrat', 'Godkid', and 'That annoying little sprog who needs a good punch up the bracket'.

He then offers you three 'solutions' to the dilemma of the game, the Reaper invasion, and to be honest, all of them are pretty final.

Here's the problem, though: said Godkid is in fact the collective intelligence and will of the very enemies you've been fighting for the entire game. To 'win' (for a given value of 'win') the game, you have to agree with his worldview, capitulate to one of his solutions (all three of which are fundamentally mean-spirited and generally unpalatable), and do the enemy's job for him. And you cannot refuse.

Well, okay, you can refuse, as of the Extended Cut DLC, created specifically because fans hated the original ending, and what you get if you do refuse his demands is basically a glorified, non-standard game over.

This is alarming, because it shows that at no point did anyone within Bioware look at this hideous carbuncle of an ending and think, "Actually, this is kinda just like the bad guys winning, when you think about it for two seconds."

But no matter, they finally had the chance to fix it with the final Citadel DLC! This was it, this was their chance to make everything right! So, did they fix it?


Instead, what we got (well, I say we, but I mean everyone who bought the DLC, because I chuffing well wasn't going to unless I knew it fixed the ending) was an idiotic, hackneyed, ridiculous side mission, the main villain of which is Shepard's Evil bloody Twin.

I swear, if I did to one of my novels what Bioware's done to Mass Effect 3, then my editors would rightfully tear me to pieces.

If they didn't catch it (which they would), I'd expect to haemorrhage fans, left, right and centre, till I fixed it!

So there we have it. The company who many viewed as the best storytellers in the video game industry really don't know how to tell a story (or at the very least, they don't know how to end a trilogy). I think it's fair to say that they've lost that particular crown, now.

Still it saves me money in the long run, that I would have spent on future Bioware/EA games, so silver lining and all that...

(Image Credit: Mobygames)

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