Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How games end.

Still here? Great!

If you have been following gaming sites since Mass Effect 3 was released, you should have noticed something.  Namely, people are complaining about how no matter what you choose up to that point, Shephard blindly accepts 3 options and each have stock endings.
Admittedly, there are a few minor differences between the three endings, but all in all, they are the same.

However, I was thinking, if the choices were more limited -or the choices were generally acknowledged to have no effect on the endgame- would there still be the complaints?

Bioshock (and Bioshock 2) had several endings, but these all varied on your choices up to that point.
Unlike Mass Effect, these are your only choices in the game. In Mass Effect, almost every bit of the story depends on your choice and your reputation (Paragon, Renegade, etc)  In Bioshock, you can save or harvest Little Sisters.  That is the only time you are given a choice.  (One exception is granted for if/when you kill Sander Cohen, but that has no effect on the ending and it isn't set up as a choice like the Little Sisters are.)

In Bioshock 2, the Little Sister choice survives, but you are also given a choice on how to deal with many of the "Boss" characters.  You can kill or save people like Grace Holloway and Stanley Poole. They are not attacking you, but they have offended you or betrayed you.    If you choose to spare them that also has an effect on your ending.

When the ending does come around, Eleanor spells out why she is doing what she is doing, and names your treatment of the Little Sisters and people like Grace  as shaping her philosophy on life.  While the choices are limited, you do feel like they have some effect on the ending.

(2K has admitted to dropping the ball on the Bioshock1 ending by making it an "All or Nothing" type of ending, but the end result still applies.  Killing the Little Sisters gives you a worse ending then saving all of them.)

In Final Fantasy 7, you can make several (non gameplay) choices through out the game, but all of them are minor.

1) Your party when you enter certain areas.  The only thing you miss is character reactions.  They may give some additional backstory, but no matter what, the story still continues unchanged.

2) If/when you recruit Yuffie.  This only effects the availability of one side quest (possibly two. I don't know if the Turk sidequest is triggered if she is not in the party), her weapons, some late game materia (as prizes in the sidequests), character chatter, and she has a Gold Saucer date with Cloud.

3) If/when you recruit Vincent.  Except for the Gold Saucer date, his effects are the same as Yuffie's.

4) What you do during the flashback in Kalm.  When Cloud's party arrives in Kalm, he starts to narrate the story of how Nibelheim was destroyed.  This flashback is not mentioned again until Sephiroth starts to tear apart Cloud's psyche.  When he does so, Cloud lists what he did in Kalm.  Other then what is necessary for the plot (such as visiting the mansion)  everything else is dependent on choice.  (So, yes, Cloud can boast of stealing Tifa's bra.)  This flashback is only mentioned once again, but the choices in it are not mentioned. 

5) The second to last Sephiroth fight.  Like Bioshock, this is based on what you did previously.  Whether or not you recruited Yuffie and Vincent, what level you are at that point, if you picked up the strongest materia, how quickly you beat the final Jenova, and if everyone knows their final limits all influence which version of Bizarro Sephiroth you face.  The general idea is the same, but how you defeat him slightly varies.  (If you fulfill most of the requirements, he has more HP and he has a more complicated pattern to beating him.) This choice has the most effect on the ending, but it is still simply one of the final boss fights.  This does not effect the story in any way, nor does it effect the ending.

6) The Actual Golden Saucer date. Much like Bioshock, your date is picked based on how you treat the other characters during the game.  Unlike Bioshock, this has absolutely no effect on the ending.

As a result. there is only one ending.
No matter what you chose, no matter who is in your party, you get that ending.  (Admittedly, this is partly due to the fact that SE could not program the four endings that would be required to deal with Yuffie and Vincent, but the point remains.)

So, getting back to Mass Effect...

One of the main issues is that your choices through out the three games are completely abandoned when it comes to the ending.  (Other issues include the copy and paste ending, the lack of dialogue, and plot holes.)

If the game had made it clear your choices would not have effected the ending - such as Final Fantasy 7 - or shown how they effected the ending - such as Bioshock- would Mass Effect 3 still receive the complaints?


  1. Bah! ::possible spoilers?::

    I curse they made me destroy Sephiroth!

    I've been seeing a lot of negative ME3 chats here and there but I never played the series myself. My good friend is trying to make me do so this summer. If I do, I wonder if I will also dislike the ending?

    1. Sorry it took so long to get back.

      Why do you want Sephy around?

      I wouldn't know. I heard there is some free DLC in the pipeline to clear it up. If that is true, then go ahead. By the time you finish 3, it should be ready to go. (If you play the trilogy. That will take a while to get through). Other then that, I don't know.

  2. No worries!

    I tend to love villains in video games and anime and Sephy was one of my firsts and favourites. He wasn't even the most heinous of villains in the FF games I've played either but I loved his design.

    I'll get around to playing ME eventually, I think. I want to but I've got so much I need to play as well. I'm finding it really hard to sit down and play on my console these days. I'm always hesitant to start games knowing well that I'd be investing a lot of time. It's a mind thing because once I get into it, I usually follow through for the most part and enjoy myself.

    Sometimes though, it's so much more convenient for me to play on the go.

    1. Yeah, other then Aerith, Shinra, and Nibelheim, he didn't do much. Those were all horrible, but compared to Kefka (Gleefully destroying towns and poisoning water) ExDeath (Trying to erase existence), YuYevon (Um... not touching that) and the Fal'cie (Nurturing a civilization only to deliberately destroy it by turning their own citizens against eachother) He's not big. He makes quite an impression though.

      Well, best of luck whenever you decide to start playing it. But you may want to wait until this all dies down. If Bioware DOES change the ending, you may want to wait until it's changed.