It was Friday night. Or Saturday morning. Depending which side of the clock you’re more active.
But for me, it was the culmination of a five year journey. An epic adventure that consumed over 300 hours of my life. And at 3AM that day it was all over. Mass Effect 3′s end credits flashed across the screen and that was it. The first thing I did was delete all the 35-odd GB of game installs lying on my Xbox 360 hard drive since the first game’s debut in 2007. Unlike many a fan I didn’t feel the need to rage, troll, throw a bitch fit, fight for a refund or start a petition. Rather, I was overcome with a sense of relief.
You see, being a big RPG fan and by extension, an admirer of BioWare’s work, I was naturally pumped when I first read about this space-faring odyssey in the September 2006 issue of EGM (acquired second hand nonetheless) but over time, I’ve learned that things are never what they’re meant to be. There’s always some form of compromise at the end of it all. In this case, it was BioWare forsaking deeper narrative, culling out characters central to the game to package off as DLC and slap multiplayer on it in order to sell more units. Having been on the business side of things in the industry, I can understand where they were coming from and I guess they weren’t given much of a choice either.
Given that BioWare got bought over by the same company who thought it was a cool idea to turn what was arguably the greatest strategy franchise into an FPS (that too, after buying the studio responsible for said franchise) I was expecting far, far worse. And sure, it was diabolical enough that the game mechanics forced me to play the multiplayer mode for over 20 hours, it was better than expected and even grew on me.
After all, it’s not everyday you get a semi-decent game from the same developers who gave you the steaming pile of turd that was Dragon Age 2. Craptacular characters, bugs galore, recycled dungeons and lame plot, it seemed like a pre-alpha build on release. Keeping that in mind as well, Mass Effect 3 wasn’t that bad a game.
Yes, a little more exposition would have been nice as would a greater emphasis on your choices throughout the trilogy but if a next to negligible portion of my 300 hours of gameplay ended up being rubbish, it would be stupid to hold it against the developers. Considering that we live in an age of disposable, 5-10 minute games, a mammoth, interweaving trilogy in itself is a tremendous feat.
So what I’m getting at is this, after all that has happened in the past what with the debauchery of the Dragon Age series and their parent company’s reputation, now unfairly voted as the worst in America, we could have been treated to something a lot more distasteful than a brief slipshod ending. An Angry Birds mini-game perhaps? Or maybe a mineral management simulation? The possibilities to mess this up were endless. And as gamers we could have been a little classier about our response. I’d like to believe we’re a better breed than disgrunted Instagram using iPhone fanboys.