I really, really loved this series, and up until the ending for 3 I’d say it’s the best written video game I’ve ever played. I’ve tweeted a few thoughts, but I feel like if only to get the thoughts out of my head, I need to write a bit more longer form.
My problems with the end:
1- My biggest objection isn’t one I’ve seen noted online, but in the final showdown with the Illusive Man, you’re twice presented with renegade options to kill him. At least in my game play, where I have taken the paragon route at every turn, if you don’t take them, the mission fails and you have to start over.
If I don’t have a choice, don’t give me a choice. Shooting the guy is hardly a bag-guy move in the first place, and the way it was labled as a renegade options just make me assume there would be a paragon option as well. The end result was that I had to replay the scene (which is not one of the better written ones anyway) and it felt totally anti-climatic.
2- The ending is just too much of a departure from the style of gameplay you’ve had throughout the series. ME gets high points for a mix of action, role playing and cinematics, but in the end it’s mostly an action game, and having the last 10 minutes be pure dialog just felt unsatisfying. The lack of a “big bad” in the final fight also felt off. (in part because the Banshee’s highlight ME3’s unfortunate move to make close quarters combat more important when the very way you view the game makes that artificially difficult- from a 3rd person perspective the hardest thing to see are people right in front of/next to you. The game is an incredible cover based shooter, and should really stick with that).
3- The stuff with the kid was just awful. The Reapers didn’t need a mouthpiece to argue on their behalf- they’re more interesting as an angry god/force of nature. Even worse, all you do is functionally repeat the same debate you just had with the Illusive Man but with a worse set of motivations for the other side of the argument.
It felt hacky, and out of step with the rest of the series. As a storytelling choice, it really fails to pay off many of the themes the game was building towards. You spend most of the game building alliances, and rather than the ending having much to do with that- it’s all about one person’s choices.
4- I wanted to see Elcor with gun on their backs. I got no fucking Elcor. Dicks.
5- Many elements of the epilogue make no sense and felt out of place. what made this frustrating is that ME3 was clearly made with such care in nearly every other aspect that to see something so sloppy at the end was very strange. I’ve seen rumors that the creative process surrounding the ending was very different from the rest of the game, and that sure seems very plausible.
Still a great game though. ME2 might be my favorite ever, and ME3 is way up there as well. I’m just going to imagine an ending where Shep fire’s off the big gun and saves the world and shacks up with Miranda in Space-Cabo or something.