This post contains spoilers about the ending of Mass Effect 3.
I knew it. I knew it from the very beginning. Oozes of gamers I know would try to convince me Mass Effect is not just a good game series: they'd say it is gorgeous, fabulous, magnificent, and superficially majestic, better than all Diablo, The Elder Scrolls and Warcraft combined. After singing the praises to Commander Shepard and BioWare's storywriters, they'd usually start yelling at me ecstatically: 'Dude, just check it out for yourself, just check it out! You'll see what I mean!'
Sometimes I thought, 'Hey, if so many people keep telling me this game is worth my while, why shouldn't I really give it a try?'. Still, something intrinsically old-schoolish, nurtured with the nerdy atmosphrere of Daggerfall, Morrowind and Baldur's Gate and smithed by never-ending streams of monsters in Diablo and DotA always stopped me from making the final step, whispering into my ear guilely: 'Man, leave it as it is.'
So, that's how it has come about that I've never played Mass Effect. And it turns out, I've been right.
Two weeks ago Mass Effect 3, the third installment of the game series, was finally released to the thirsting public. Fourteen measly days have passed and look what we're having: a whole «Retake Mass Effect 3» group on Facebook, which has accumulated over 40,000 likes so far. The members of this community stand for an immediate extensive re-writing of the game ending, because the current one is just too somber and doesn't fit the overall importance, attached in Mass Effect even to the insignificant decision we make in the game.
Think about it for a sec: 14 days — 40,000 likes. 2,857 likes per day in average. 119 likes per hour. 3 likes per minute. BioWare must've screwed up the ending really bad if such a huge horde of fan has shared their outrage.
And I can see why the fans got so angry with the ending. Despite an impressive number of various ending variants (I heard about 16 of them), they're all different in minor details, whereas the key points of the game finale are always the same. No matter what you did in game, no matter which side you took in one of the hundreds of moral choices that the game is abundant with, at the end of the day, Commander Shephard (along with the player) has proved to be absolutely unable to change the fate of the Galaxy. Well, maybe, not absolutely… But still, the extent to which the player's actions in all of the three games influenced the final outcome has eventually been way more significant that the developers used to makemade us think.
It's like as if you came to a fruit store and the sales person told you they were having some goodies for you. However, you could get only one of them, and what you actually get would be defined by the answers you'd give filling out some form.
And now imagine: after twenty minutes of writing, you hand out the questionnaire back to the sales person and get… a pear. Okay, it's not that bad yet. Maybe. Somehow.
Then one of the buddies you had come to the store with would also fill out the questionnaire, this time deliberately giving the answers different from yours. For all his effort he would be rewarded… with a pear.
Next would be your buddy's girlfriend. The third sequence of answers — and again a pear.
'So, what's the catch, man?' you would almost certainly ask the sales person.
'Well, there's no catch. There are just no other gifts but pears'.
The craziest thing in that whole story is that the fan community has reacted to the storywriters' failure so promptly and unambiguously. Usually, when some story element gets screwed up, it's no good for the fans to criticize it: almost no reaction will follow. That's, basically, how holywars in game communities begin.
This time it's been the other way round. Mass Effect trained its place that their opinion, their actions are important, that they do matter. And now BioWare is crossing out this whole concept, replacing it with some almost fatalistic bullsh*t. Not what a normal person with a sufficient amount of self-respect would be happy about.
Perhaps that's why the community outrage was so enormous that time, and perhaps that's why the intensive fan protests have brought results: BioWare promised to take into consideration the criticisms by «Retake Mass Effect 3» and gave a hint it was not the last game featuring Commander Shepard.
I wish it would work with the politician just the same way.