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While I've been mostly on posting hiatus, and in hiatus from online gaming in general like my beloved Puzzle Pirates, I've returned to console gaming.

During this time, I discovered some games I hadn't played during their release and fell fanatically in love with, such as BioShock and Fallout 3. I also finally broke down and played the first two Mass Effect games. Anyone else here a fan? I'd love to talk about them, but I don't want to bore everyone if the series doesn't have an audience here.

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I just finally got ME to install on my PC for the first time (long story) and have been working through it now. I must say I am highly impressed so far, but holy fartburgers there is a lot to read to start out.

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I am a Mass Effect grognard. Played through both ME1 and ME2 multiple times to sample different character combinations and get all the cool achievements/awards.

And of course, to create multiple savegames in preparation for ME3. :)

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I am a Mass Effect grognard. Played through both ME1 and ME2 multiple times to sample different character combinations and get all the cool achievements/awards.

And of course, to create multiple savegames in preparation for ME3. :)

Same here. And regarding the achievements, I'm happy that earning them actually gives you in-game benefits for future characters. Most games don't reward you for achievement hunting. It's nice to get health or weapon bonuses as rewards for the dedication in obtaining the achievement.

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Are you talking about the dialogue, the game manual, or the in-game codex?

The codex...because I have to read everything, and yes, some of the dialogue, because I can't not choose everything and hear all that the NPC might say.

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Yeah, if you try to read the entire codex, that's going to take a LONG time. Especially since new entries are constantly appearing the more you explore and interact. Keep in mind, if you haven't already, the codex is written from an in-game perspective, and that means it's not 100% accurate.

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I'm a very big fan of Bioshock 2, Fallout 3 and the Mass Effect games. I think it's awesome that ME3 will be mixing the inventory and upgrading system from both 1 and 2 into the third. Right now I'm a big fan of Deus Ex too, a very well done Shadowrun-esque FPS stealth game.

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I wasn't as big a fan of BioShock 2 as I was of BioShock 1. I didn't feel the story was as strong, and I honestly felt it weakened the story of the first one by trying to retcon in characters and elements that did not exist in the first.

Saying that, though, there were areas of BioShock 2 that were absolutely gorgeous, particularly Minerva's Den, and I loved having the ability to use plasmids and weapons without having to toggle on or the other off. And its multiplayer is surprisingly well-done.

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Ressurecting this thread to talk about Mass Effect 3. Spoilers will be in-thread.

So, the ending. Yep, this'll be controversial. And no, I won't defend the green door (I did not get the green door on my initial main-plot-only run, just blue and red.) The space magic of the green door is just a step too far for me. It's like Silent Hill 2's infamous "barking dog" ending. A bit of a mood killer.

But just as the presence of the barking dog shouldn't kill what a great game Silent Hill 2 is (by reputation; I've never played it but I hear very good things) the green door shouldn't be allowed to diminish Mass Effect 3, which is probably the best overall game in the series. The reputation system overhaul, the ingenious "weight" mechanic, the mod system which keeps the customization of 1 while abandoning RPG packrat-itis (nonsensical in a world with minifacturing and omnigel...) and those are just the mechanical tweaks. Writing-wise I was cursing at the screen for what the imaginary computer people were making me feel. That's a mean feat by any standard.

I look at the overall story of the Mass Effect games as, in part, a reaction to the nature of death in a video game, which typically has next to no consequences. It says something about the medium when a game like One Single Life is considered so revolutionary. In Mass Effect, though, death is a pretty big deal. The main enemies are called the Reapers. The end boss of the second game is literally a giant black skeleton. You can't get out of Mass Effect 1 without people dying, and 2 is structured around a mission where no one is safe, including Shepard. So Mass Effect 3 being so death-heavy feels like a natural progression, and that's why I'm fine with the ending I got.

The ending I got involved me crawling in shattered N7 armor over the body of my Shepard's love interest, being forced to kill my mentor, willingly gunning down another mentor to save my own life, and then confronting the prime mover behind the Reapers, who sees "death" as another word for "change," like the Tarot card of the same name. I was reminded of the story about why peppers taste so strong - they taste the way they do to discourage natural predators, yet that very taste is why we cultivate them and put them on our food. If a pepper were somehow sentient it would not understand why I put it in my salad. The prime mover, the Catalyst, and the Reapers it controls, simply don't understand why our lives are so precious to us. "You'll thank me when you're uplifted," they reply.

"Hell with that," says I, and I moved towards the blue door that would let me control the Reapers, killing myself in the process - and destroying the relays, though apparently NOT in the fashion that causes them to bloom into supernovas, otherwise there would be no way the Normandy could survive, nor the two people in the after-credits coda. I figured that the Reapers, under my control, could someday rebuild them, and so I sent Shepard to her death (or, if you prefer the other word, 'change.')

Shepard was never going to have a happy ending. This game was about the worst war in history, and what Mass Effect 3 relentlessly portrays is that war is calculated, directed horror, which calls upon all to give some, and some to give all. Even in the best case scenario it will take the galaxy longer than anyone's lifetime to rebuild. In that respect, London was a fitting final stage, since it's been nigh on three-quarters of a century since the Blitz and there are still holes in London.

But London endures, and so too does life, and that's what Shepard was truly fighting for. And the coda at the end, in a time where Shepard is a legend, is evocative of Carl Sagan at his finest. Carl Sagan never had the mass relays to bolster his determination that life mattered and that the cosmos was beautiful - so basically, the people in Mass Effect, with the miraculous Element Zero, don't have much of an excuse. A still more glorious dawn awaits, even if Shepard and her friends, mentors and lovers will never live to see it.

What Mass Effect 3 does is state, quite bluntly, that Mass Effect is not a franchise, to be pumping out a new game every two years - it is a story with an ending, and that end is Shepard's. For all the cursing at EA and Bioware for its commercial attitude towards downloadable content - somewhat, though not entirely, justified in my eyes - this is a surprisingly uncommercial move. No more Mass Effect games are planned. I don't think we need any.

So yeah, I liked it a lot.

Green space magical cyborgs, though. Oy. I don't know what they were thinking.

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I want to preface my post by saying yes, Mass Effect 3 is a phenomenal experience. I loved it. Loved the DICKENS out of it.

My experience of the ending is not quite as idyllic as Mike's, though it was by no means the dull-spoon-to-the-guts that it seems like a lot of people are complaining about. Be warned that my spoilers are significantly more specific than Mike's, though if you're reading this thread...well, you know what you're in for.

The ending breaks down into 3 main choices, with a scattershot of results based on a few game conditions in addition to your choice. They are:

Blue ending - You choose to take control of the Reapers. This is what the Illusive Man wanted to do all along, and both Anderson and Shepard eloquently argue against doing in the moments just before this choice arrives. However, you're Shep, not the Illusive Man, so perhaps it's okay if you do it. This destroys Shep, but allows his or her consciousness to ASSUME DIRECT CONTROL of the Reapers...and winds up sending them en masse back to Dark Space (one assumes). The mass relays are still destroyed, ending Galactic Civilization as we know it, but otherwise things are peachy.

Green ending - You choose 'synthesis,' where Shep throws him-or-herself into the energy beam of the Crucible, in a scene that reminded me a little of the end of Tron, and this somehow empowers the Crucible to 'merge synthetics and organics' throughout the galaxy. The Catalyst is a big fan of this idea, stressing that it's the only way to permanently solve the problem of "created versus creator" that has so plagued the galaxy throughout time that the Reaper Cycle was, until now, the only solution for it. What it MEANS to be 'merged' is not explained, nor explored. From the end cinematic, it apparently means to have glowing green irises. What specifically happens to the Reapers in this is unclear, as each is an entire race, not just a machine intelligence...but they stop killing people, and that's the important thing. Oh yeah, mass relays are destroyed.

Red ending - You choose 'destruction.' You take your handy-dandy Carnifex, limp towards a power conduit, and shoot it out. This somehow causes the Crucible to respond in kind, releasing a wave that annihilates all synthetic beings in the galaxy. Also, all mass relays. It's stressed by Catalyst that this includes non-Reaper synthetics though, like the Geth. This struck me as a significant drawback. I believe it was intentional, because otherwise this is the obvious choice. :)

In addition to the results of the Choice, there are conditions that, if fulfilled, result in the destruction or salvation of Earth (the galaxy is saved regardless), and the possible survival of Shepard. Regardless of anything, the Normandy is seen inexplicably fleeing a wave of destruction...and not quite making it. It then crash-lands on a very nice planet. Joker and two other people come out (which two depends on your choice, and other things). Roll credits.

I found this a dissatisfying conclusion at first. Here's why. First, the graphic difference between the choices is nonexistent. They use precisely the same footage, except the color of the energy release, and the reapers either fall down dead, or fly away. Seemed a bit lazy, but since you generally aren't expected to see more than one...eh, ok. It's a quibble, not a complaint.

My first complaint comes from the mind-shattering inexplicability of it. For example, my ground squad in the final mission was Garrus and Liara. They were with me in that final headlong rush for the finish line that only Shep (and, weirdly, Anderson?) managed to cross. I figured, oh noe, they're dead! But...no. Apparently Liara managed to teleport onto the Normandy, which decided to flee Earth in FTL, because that's where we next see it. Yep. Liara walked out right after Joker onto the surface of that planet the Normandy crashed on. Wah...HUH?! It makes no sense. And I went back and replayed it, just to be sure. Yep. Liara again. It's not random.

So...okay. Brain reeling a bit, I decided to think about it. And I realized this ending, no matter what, horks over the ME universe something fierce. The mass relays always get destroyed. Always. The Long Night descends...a new Dark Age. Of course, in some ways this might be GOOD, since we're no longer beholden to reaper technology, which USES us as much as it is used BY us...but damn! Where does this leave Mass Effect 4?

And then, finally, and most significantly, the ending really doesn't leave me with any idea of my beloved crew's fate. Marooned on a planet...my only clue comes from a scene after the credits where their descendents are apparently swapping Shep stories. So, okay...they were okay, I guess? Except for the aliens like Garrus and Tali, and Javik and...et cetera. They died childless. I guess Liara might have mothered a clutch of asari. The POINT is that I don't know. I'm forced to speculate and conjecture. It's not satisfying. It's not cathartic. Mass Effect 3 sets you up with HUGE EMOTIONS...and then lets that hang with an ending that doesn't give you anything to do with them. A Fallout-style narrative that recaps all the cool stuff you did during the game, and caps off with a description of how your pals got along would have been nice. You know what would have been even better? BIG SPACE BATTLE SETPIECE. To be fair, ME3 has one...it just comes earlier than the end. I wanted to see more of that. More giant armies clashing with reaper husks. More starships dodging lasers and shooting missiles. THAT got my blood pounding. I wanted a big, spectacular, epic ending and felt kind of let down when I got a quiet, austure one.

But...I have reached peace now, because on even FURTHER thought, I decided that the ending on the CD is very likely not the actual ending of the game. There is significant evidence to suggest that Bioware has something up their sleeve...most likely in DLC...that will complete the ending that THIS ending is essentially the first part of.

I'd be happy to discuss the reasons why I think this is so...but that is another post.

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I actually like the ambiguity-slash-finality (in my ending, I did not ever see anyone step out of the Normandy, so I never got any teleportation bugs.) It's significant that Shepard steps into the Catalyst chamber alone - again, the Catalyst represents both change and death, and we all face death alone. And past that point, all we can do is hope that we lived as best as we could and that we left our world better than we found it - but we can never know for sure.

Previous Mass Effect games had ambiguity revolving around their major decisions - what should we do with the Rachni, the Council, the Collector base, the heretic geth, and Maelon's genophage data. But the key difference is that we knew there would be payoff (and oh, there was.) The ending of Mass Effect 3 is different, because as far as I know there won't BE a Mass Effect 4 - so you'll never see the result of Shepard's final key decision. That changes it significantly. The decision is what it is. And it means that Earth doesn't need to survive and neither does the relay network and neither does Shepard herself.

To make a comparison, you'll remember the ending of Planescape: Torment, where - spoilers for a decades old game - the Nameless One goes to Hell to face his just desserts, no matter what, unless there's a version of the ending I never saw. I wasn't as huge a fan of PS:T as so many others were, but there's no denying the finality of that ending, combined with the ambiguity of the fates of those left behind. There's no Planescape 2: Nameless Harder on the way. If there were, the ending would feel diminished.

I disagree with the notion that it renders all decisions moot. The relays collapsing changes everything. If the krogan are cured, they don't expand and repeat the mistakes of the past; if they aren't cured then they'll die out on their scorched rock of a world. If the Migrant Fleet is stuck out in space they will die - and if the destruction ending is chosen, the geth will perish. The relays can potentially be rebuilt if Shepard chooses control - and of course, all life everywhere changes if synthesis is chosen. That's not my issue with the ending. I only take issue with one of the endings.

The reason I hate the synthesis ending is this. I can buy talking with an ancient AI, and I can even understand why it doesn't stop Shepard (maybe the Crucible has paralyzed it) or why it didn't act sooner (because the Keepers were sabotaged and never turned it on for this cycle.) I can buy a signal that engages a safe self-destruct on the relay network since FTL communications exist. I can buy controlling a Reaper since mind control is possible in-universe. I can buy destroying them with a massively powerful long-range weapon. All this fits the way the universe has worked up until now. But I cannot make the leap to a wave of energy that summons up synthetic components in every living thing in the universe, amoebas included. That's basically space magic. I can handle bleak and I can handle an ending that is ambiguous as hell (in the short term - as the coda shows us, long term it works out.) I can't handle such a leap beyond what we expect from the science of Mass Effect.

But the bleakness and ambiguity and finality, I'm 100% okay with.

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One other thing.

I played with no DLC - or as close as I could get, having bought it digitally. I didn't recruit the bonus DLC squadmate and I didn't use any DLC weapons, and I have to say, the notion that this game is incomplete without its launch-day DLC is ludicrous. In addition to a storyline as big as any previous Mass Effect game, if not bigger, there is a multiplayer mode so robust that they earnestly could have released it as a full game. I think people just reacted the way they did because a ) the hype machine got so huge that a backlash was inevitable, and b )the bonus squadmate was a Prothean, which is a huge, huge bomb to drop into the unvierse and people figured it'd be the single most important thing going on.

I'm on playthrough 2 now, and I'm going to meet the mystery squadmate - and I'm looking forward to taking my time. But even with a no-sidequests run I easily got my money's worth of game.

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With regards to the endgame, the being that you speak too is an ETI (type VI considering it's capabilities, to alter all life so that is biosynthesitic on a galactic scale would require it be so), the option that gives the most possibility is that of synthesis, because in effect the ETI is using Shepard's biological and synthetic implants as the basic building block for the new state of existence, and some parts of the end game only make sense in the light of being given near godlike abilities at least for the moment.

Sense Shepard became part of the process, I decided that Shepard must have become part of a inner world, similar to when I entered the geth consenses, allowing Shepard to make some fixes to the various problems encountered in the overall game... and make the ending much more satisfying from a personal standpoint.. what those changes are.. well, that's another post.

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Speaking as someone who got the 'Shepard Lives' ending, I think y'all might be reading too much into the 'ending' right now.

Furthermore, Bioware's made it clear that they -would- be interested in continuing the franchise, including vague talk of a Mass Effect MMO and a Mass Effect 4. None of those will feature Shepard though. They've made it clear that ME3 is the end of Shep's tale. However, and I've mentioned this on the game forums too, the game isn't over until the DLC stops coming.

My position is that, as Stargazer said, there is one more content update featuring Shepard coming. Until we see that, it's premature to talk in too much detail about the end.

Though it's fun, I admit. And we have to talk about -something-. :)

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It sounds like the ending boils down to a situation of "we won, but at what cost". I think that the fact that there are upset fans, that there is debate and discussion, and that people are interpreting the ending(s) their own way and injecting their own meaning into the events is a good sign that the designers didn't drop the ball at all. At least that's my thought as an outsider looking in.

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My complaint about the ending has always been that it feels incomplete.

Once I decided that there's more coming, I liked it more.

That decision is based on evidence, but it ultimately may very well be wishful thinking in the end. I recognize this. However, there is ample reason to believe that additional endgame content is forthcoming.

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It would seem awkward to have DLC that takes place before the end of the game, since its probably reasonable to assume that people will be done by the time it launches.

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Well, after you finish the CD content, it 'resets' you back to immediately before you begin the sequence of missions that leads to the end...so you can use that character to play pre-endgame DLC, and then replay the end.

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I'm sort of with Max on this, at first I was somewhat, disappointed by the ending, but after some thought, and the realization I could put my own spin on the outcome (until they make Mass Effect 4 at least);

I also thought the destruction of the Relays was a bad thing at first.. except that I realized that with all of the technological discovery's, they could be rebuilt.

I am of the opinion that synthesis is the only choice for a good aligned Shepard, as your betraying someone with the other choices (EDI and the Geth are synthetic lifeforms, and I find betraying EDI as particularly repugnant).

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But synthesis destroys free will. You essentially force everyone in the galaxy to become somehing radically different without their consent.

How is that so different than what the Reapers do?

...sans terror and bloodshed and betrayal of loved ones and so on, of course.

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I dunno... Cyberization sounds sorta cool. As long as we don't become the Cybermen I am perfectly fine with the "Green" ending.

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Arr...the point though is that the ending asks you to make that decision on the behalf of trillions of people, many of whom would not be fine with it.

It really is a variation on what Reapers do as well...gather people up, and make them into bio-mechanical creatures. They just do it on a large, grand scale. And without green space magic to make it painless. :)

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So then one would assume that the "good"est option (take that grammar!!) would be to have Shep take over the reapers. I haven't really heard anything bad about that one, and one assumes he could put them to use picking up trash and helping old ladies cross the street.

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But really, the problem is bigger then that, the Reapers are Sentient beings themselves, if I can't destroy them, how can I possibly justify enslaving them, on a moral grounds, personally, that's even worse..and really, it doesn't solve the underlining problem, that of the issue between biological and synthetic life.. the synthesis option is the only one that really solves the issue.

Furthermore, I seen a lot of potential issues it can fix especially genetic defects, like the Ardat-Yakshi, the Quarian immunity issues, even Joker's bone disease.. the biosythesis option can, potentially fix all of these.

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So wait...you're concerned about the free will of the Reapers, and NOT the free will of -everyone else in the galaxy?-

Goodness.

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The thing that's great about the Illusive Man as a villain is that he's both too smart to not be entirely wrong, yet too accustomed to having his own way to accept that he might not always be right.

He's clearly a brilliant man, and he has the purpose of the Crucible figured out. He was wrong about who could use it but not about how it could be used. But his flaw is that he wants to put anything he discovers under his control - he's the one who wants the Collector base, after all, and you know that he'd never hand that thing over to Hackett (unless he did, in a playthrough I haven't gotten to since Dumbfuck Shepard who got all but two of his squad killed and gave TIM the base hasn't been imported yet.)

What's cool about indoctrination in Mass Effect is that the subject isn't suddenly a mindless zombie - but rather their beliefs shift just enough to justify what the Reapers want of them. Saren wants to protect the galaxy by any means necessary, so when he's doing Sovereign's bidding he frames it as a story where he's the hero. When Doctor Amanda Kenson studies Object Rho in "Arrival," she suddenly starts expressing her scientific curiosity about the Reapers and wanting to spare them. When the hanar diplomat is turned, he has shifted his religious beliefs to Collector worship. And the Illusive Man sticks with his idea of saving the Reapers "for himself" long after it's untenable and has caused so much death.

So TIM turned out to have a legitimate truth that got warped by the metaphysical singularity of the Reapers. Once I knew this, the choice was easy. With the Reapers under her control, priority one would be "how about rebuilding tham thar mass relays," potentially shortening rebuild times by centuries. I don't regret my choice at all - though I should be less dismissive of the Merge option since apparently some people went straight for it, giving it some legitimacy.

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It's not simply a concern for the free will of the reapers.. it's a concern that if the Illusive Man is right, then the words about the cycle must have something to recomend them as well, controlling the Reapers only creates a temporary solution.. for now, inevitably the problem of biological and synthetic life conflicts will come up again.. and again... the merger solves the problem, forever.

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I chose Destroy because, at the time, it was the only choice that clearly and irrevocably freed the galaxy from the Reaper/Citadel framework, albeit at a great and morally unsustainable cost. I chose to bear the moral burden of genocide to free the galaxy from this system of control.

Consider the source though. The Catalyst is the one who guards and enforces the Reaper Cycle. Its assertion that 'synthetics will always turn against their creators' may be flawed. It may be that the entire 3-way Choice is entirely based on a flawed premise and that all of the choices lead to equally flawed outcomes. The Catalyst is the product of th same assumptions that justified the Reapers and is ultimately a prisoner of those assumptions. By playing its game, we become prisoner to them as well. There must be another way.

Just one more reason I'm fairly certain that we haven't actually seen the end yet.

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Do you all think that the real reason behind the venomous player response is that there is, in fact, no "shiny happy ending" ending? Would the fan response have been more positive had there been an option for peace love and kumbya that didn't require anybody to die, or be transformed into a cyborg against their will?

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From what I've seen, no. And I've been reading a LOT on the Bioware forums.

The main complaints are:

1) Our choices didn't matter. This is based on there being only three different paths at the end, and only a very small number of divergences within those paths based on your actions in the game. Did you unite the Turians and Krogan? Make peace between the Geth and Quarians? Doesn't matter. The end is the same.

This strikes me as a bit fallacious. It's overly focused on the ending cinematic, rather than the game as a whole. To my mind, the Quarian/Geth dilemma doesn't really directly impact the situation on the Crucible because...why would it? But it DEFINITELY made an impact on the galaxy, even if the final cinematic doesn't acknowlede that.

To my mind, this complaint then directly results from the other big one:

2) No sense of closure. The game just kind of...plops to an end. Magic space coloration spreads around the galaxy, ending the Reaper menace magically. Your giant armada, your ground forces, the sacrifices you've made and asked of others...it all boils down to not much. No big spectacular coolness. Not even a Fallout-esque slide show recapping all you've done and giving an idea of how things in the galaxy have changed because of you.

My theory is that this is intentional because it's not actually the end. They didn't WANT closure yet. Your mileage may vary. If this IS the end, then this is my complaint too. I remember Mass Effect 1 and 2's endings...ME1 had an AMAZING end. ME2 had a very functional, yet satisfying end. ME3...neither. It's a bare bones end that covers the absolute minimum necessary; yes you saved the galaxy...yes (or no) you saved Earth (or not)...yes, the Normandy and its crew survive (including, mysteriously, the ones who'd been with you on Earth). You win. Congrats. Roll credits. Golf clap.

3) The scene with Catalyst is terrible. Actually, the complaint is that, similar to my previous comments, Catalyst's logic is flawed and people are annoyed that Shep...for arguably the first time in the game...meekly goes along with it all without questioning it. People say it seems out of character, especially if you've played even a little renegade. He asks some questions, but they're...in journalism parlance...'softballs.' He doesn't question the system, the assumptions. He goes along with the framework as presented, only asking how he can go along with it and what the consequences will be. This, of course, makes people feel railroaded as the character they thought they knew becomes someone wholly different.

Very few people I've seen are complaining about Shep's fate, live or die. Somewhat more complain about the mass relays being destroyed...largely because it pretty much wrecks the galaxy you tried to save (see complaint 1). By far the most complain about one of those three though, or a direct variant of one of them.

And not EVERYONE is complaining. They are just the majority of people who post.

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