Game Producer Quest, Part 03

Spoilers about games abound.  You have been warned.

So with rumors on the internet about Bioware patching the ending to Mass Effect 3.  I had noted in my last post that I think they should stick to their guns, simply because the idea of having invested in an incomplete game (“This is the fake ending!  Here’s the real ending, right here for $10.00!) does not endear me…to anyone, really.  Then I began thinking if a precedent was being set here.

And I realized that this has happened before.  In Fallout 3, you take the role of the Lone Wanderer, and in the main plot line can choose to activate a machine that will purify the water of the land.  If you choose to do so, you die.  Or someone else whose name evades me can do it, and you live.

Fallout 3 Dad

Now son, you must sacrifice yourself to save all of humanity, ghouls, and mutants. I know you can do it. I'm so proud of you...now go ahead, and die.

At the time, if you chose to sacrifice yourself, the game was over for your character, uncharacteristic of a Bethesda game.  I was accustomed from Morrowind and Oblivion to continuing the adventures of your character after the main story ended.  While it is true I could have loaded an earlier save to complete the remaining side quests I had skipped over for achievement points, the adventure felt over for me, so I let it lie.

I tend to wait for DLC to go on sale before purchasing, so I did not find out much later that this ending was essentially patched with a new DLC adventure.  Apparently six weeks (or maybe months?) after activating ‘Project Purity’ your lone wanderer awakens, having somehow magically survived the ordeal.  Now, I don’t recall the internet exploding with anger at Bethesda at their original ending, but my memory may be off on this subject.

Speaking of endings, while I cannot say I’m happy with Mass Effect 3’s ending, it doesn’t make me furiously angry as well.  As I noted, I find it to be rich in confusion, which can be frustrating but I’d like to think the franchise will go on and lift my confusion, even though its sales don’t compare to Modern Warfare.  Case in point, I took a peek at vgchartz, and Mass Effect 2 across all platforms sold under 4 million worldwide.  Certainly very successful, but not a mega seller; case in point, Modern Warfare 2 across all platforms sold a little over 23 million.

As a gamer, I can immediately think of two endings that I consider to be worse than Mass Effect 3.  The first and foremost game that springs to mind is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2.  While the first one was developed by Bioware, the second game I believe was developed by Obsidian.

Star Wars: KOTOR 2

When the ending rolled around, the disappointment on my face was unmistakable and sad...

I remember being so excited about the sequel as I enjoyed the first iteration so much.  It started out somewhat slow, but once things got rolling, it was certainly as fun as the first one.  Until the ending; after the final boss battle, you see the ending cutscene, which sees the Ebon Hawk (a Millenium Hawk clone) flying away.

That’s it.

There’s nothing else.  That’s the ending.

It was awful.  I would argue that it’s a non-ending, and raised a dozen questions, which incidentally is what the ending to Mass Effect 3 purposefully does.  Increasing confusion does not make a good ending, in any medium.  At least in my opinion…

The second worst ending would be for a game called Quest 64.  It was the Nintendo 64’s first RPG, if memory serves me correctly, and the gameplay was certainly competent, and fun for a time.

Quest 64 Boxcover

The first RPG for the N64, with an ending so disappointing, it hasn't been played since.

However, the game was long enough where by the endpoint I was tired of playing and just was looking forward to the ending.  However, the ending consisted of a still picture, a painting of a castle I think, with a couple of text boxes below…aaaannnd, cut!  That’s the ending…I was so disappointed, thinking “That’s it?!”

Finally, the Mass Effect 3 guide is sorely lacking in maps and just as importantly, a checklist of clusters that can be scanned for war assets, intel, artifacts, and fuel.  So for my second playthrough, I took the time to make such a list, keeping my laptop handy while I played.  I don’t claim it to be perfect, though I do believe it to be 100% accurate.  It’s the best job I could do and believe it to be a valuable tool.  Just remember that some systems don’t become available until later in the game.  Anyone may use it, though if you post it, I would appreciate giving credit and adding where you originally found it. Anyway, it’s a pdf that you can print out and ensure you get all the war assets from scanning and what not.  Enjoy: Mass Effect 3 System Exploration Checklist

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