Written by Troy Benedict Monday, 26 March 2012 06:00
As a gamer, I'm conflicted. I'm happy because it's good to see gamers passionate about what they love. On the other end, I think it's a bit much.
I'm talking, of course, about the recent controversy about the Mass Effect 3 ending and how a lot of gamers are upset and want Bioware to do a redo.
Just to let you know right now, you can read this safely: I'm not going to give away any spoilers, so don't worry about me revealing any of the game conclusionary secrets.
As a form of entertainment, it's nice to see that video games are finally getting to the point where we can demand to be entertained with our gaming for reasons other than enjoyable gameplay. As games begin to mimick Hollywood blockbusters, with games like Uncharted, Gears of War, and the Call of Duty franchise, I think we can begin to treat them a little more than just a formuliac action game with a stylized cinematic filler.
While story doesn't matter for all games, I think it does more so with the games, like Mass Effect, that drive a players experience by giving them the option to choose their paths and become highly involved with the characters by including a detail-rich storyline, and branching events that require you to choose who may live and who may die. The results of your decision will alter your experience going forward.
But do gamers have the right to demand a completely new ending to a game? It's been done before with Fallout 3, and whether it was because of the community outcry, as a fix to make the upcoming downloable content make more sense, or a combination of the two, it seems that the masses want justice again.
Personally, I liked the way that Fallout 3 ended. Without spoiling anything, the game pretty much ends with the credit screen and then you're back to the main menu. Games like Oblivion and the other Elder Scrolls games allowed you to contine roaming the world after the game's ending. Because of this abruptness, the only way you could continue on in Fallout 3 and completing side quests, is to literally avoid playing the final mission. It's not always obvious that you're about to finish the game, especially with open-world style games like Fallout, so for people to be upset that they may have overwritten the latest save with that of the final mission, I can feel their pain. They were forced to finish a game that would never let them continue on afterwards.
What Bethesda did was allowed the player to continue playing afterwards, which really changed the impact of the consequences that you chose at the game's conclusion. Having completed the game before the ending patch was made, I'm glad I was able to experience the original ending, because your choice was more impactful and carried a heavier weight story-wise. From a gameplay point-of-view, hitting a brick wall like that, sucked.
With Mass Effect 3's ending, it appears that Bioware is willing to address concerns from the community. And they should. As a company providing a product/service, they have an obligation to keep the customer satisfied. However, I can't help but feel that this is like opening Pandora's box. Nobody will be safe from the wrath of an angry community if it has been decided that the ending to their game sucked.
With the film and television industry, changes to movies and shows are done all the time. Focus groups are brought in to review a nearly final product to give their overall opinions of it. Sometimes this involves a completely new ending, or rewriting of certain scenes. The only difference is that once a film is done, and released to the theaters, there is no "do-over" when a movie's ending is unsatisfactory. Most people just say that it was an awful movie, or a good movie with a terrible ending, and leave it at that. With games, it's a bit different. We invest more time (and money) into these products. At the same time, I'm of the belief that it's the journey, and not the destination that truly matters. It's not often that I expect greatness from a game's ending, as long as I'm having a good time and being entertained, I'm happy. If I get a few seconds at the end with a real satisfactory cinematic show-down, all the better. If not, it's no big loss.
If complaining about and demanding a "Mulligan" with a game's ending is a right that everybody has now, then I'm calling out Naughty Dog to redo the endings for Uncharted 1 and 2 because of the stupid monsters/blue people, sci-fi elements. (I haven't played Uncharted 3, but I might call for a redo on that ending if it's anything like the first two).
Hey, if anger over a game's ending can muster up enough of a voice for the developer to take notice and offer a resolution, then good - that's customer service at its finest. However, I really hope we haven't gotten ourself into a slippery slope of expecting every ending to be perfect. That to me is a bit ridiculous.
Friends of GoozerNation, what do you think? Is BioWare addressing the conclusion to Mass Effect 3 a good thing? Or something they had planned for future DLC? Or should they have completely ignored the outcry and tell people to "suck it up?"