It’s no secret that I didn’t like the Mass Effect 3 ending. As one of the older, more loyal fans to the series, I felt seriously short changed. I had come to expect quite a lot from Bioware who, in my oppinion, had not failed to deliver (we’ll ignore Dragon Age 2 shall we…) in the days leading up to the release of Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect 2, with its function that allowed you to play either paragon or renegade and its manner of providing you with the direct consequences of your wrong decisions (sending Tali into the vents for instance vs sending Thane) had showed me that Bioware knew what they doing and had the ability to anticipate player expectation. I had expected quite a similar scenario in Mass Effect 3, where my decisions were multi directional and the consequences of those decisions would be made very clear. We had, after all, been building on those decisions for three games.
This of course was not to be and in a move that had become one of the most controversial affairs in gaming history over 86% of Mass Effect players said that they not only disliked the ending but would like to have it changed. The ‘Hold the Line’ community was instigated, a group of people dedicated to ‘resolve’ problems between game developers and consumers and their first call of action was to try and get Bioware to change the Mass Effect 3 ending.
During March, as gamers ranted and raved about the game, Bioware remained mostly silent except for a statement from Co-Founder Dr. Ray Muzyka in which he urged fans to be patient and they were addressing the criticism that they were receiving. In April they announced that they will work and release on an extended cut addressing all the questions brought up by their fans. Addressing, they said. Not fix. As someone who has become severely cynical about Bioware and the whole Mass Effect experience, I could not help but assume that it didn’t bode well and my unease wasn’t soothed when I read how voice actresses like Kimberley Brooks, who plays Ashley Williams, say that she was recalled only to do one or two more lines. Since she’s one of the major love interests, I can only imagine how little the other characters will be considered.
In the podcast that was released on Friday the 8th of June, Casey D Hudson and Mac Walters, the director and lead writer of Mass Effect, spoke a little of what they planned for the Extended Cut DLC. Their focus was mainly on how this cut was intended to provide players with the closure that they had been demanding but I could not help but feel that they were essentially missing the point. That it wasn’t the closure that the fans had such a big problem with but the major plot holes such as the star child’s logic and the space magic sequence to name two from a lot.
The DLC will be released tomorrow, on the 26th of June across all platforms and at a size of just under 2GBs, it’s clearly a massive addition. I think that it will be very interesting to see what problems the developers deemed worthy of addressing and whether it will truly be what the fans need for the ending to make sense. Although I’m not holding my breath, I do find that I’m grateful towards Bioware for making this available. The facts are that they’ve already made their money from the game and from a corporate point of view, they owed nothing more to the fans. But, their reputation has been dented and I think that this is a very big exercise in PR and relationship building. For myself, I’ll reserve judgement. Not because I’m cynical and unable to believe in the company any more but because I was so dissapointed the first time round that I have to manage my own expectation. It does not make me any less grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity, but it does mean that I will reserve judgement until I’ve seen the results for myself.
For more information on the Extended Cut DLC, read Bioware’s official statement here. The Extended Cut will be be available to download at no additional charge for Mass Effect 3 game owners starting on June 26 for PC and Xbox 360 customers worldwide. Playstation 3 customers in North America will be able to download the Extended Cut DLC on June 26 and the rest of the world on July 4.
To Mass Effect 3 players, from Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder of Bioware - http://blog.bioware.com/2012/03/21/4108/
Kimberly Brooks Interview: The Voice Behind Mass Effect’s Ashley Williams - http://sticktwiddlers.com/2012/06/12/kimberly-brooks-interview-the-voice-behind-mass-effects-ashley-williams/
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