Mass Effect 3: What? The End! Now?!

If you have not yet played the end of Mass Effect 3, this post may contain spoilers.

I find it very ironic that in the week that I’ve decided to dig a little deeper and lay bare my true feelings about the whole Mass Effect 3 ending issue, Bioware goes and announces the Extended Cut DLC. I had thought that I would have at least another month to blunt myself for its announcement but it seems that I was mistaken, that they managed to get their act together faster than I had anticipated they would.

This announcement has left me with a whole barrel of emotions that I’m not quite willing to deal with in light of my previous posts. In Mass Effect 3: The End I spoke about (and elaborated a little) the sense of disappointment and anger that I felt at Bioware for doing with the ending what they did. In Tears for the Soulless I spoke about my own personal love for characters and emotions in fiction and why the ending of Mass Effect 3 did the characters an injustice in not closing their stories properly. And, then a day later I had this wait for me:

As I had anticipated, it’s very clear that Bioware had no intention of ‘fixing’ the end (in my mind, taking out the starchild or proving right the Indoctrination Theory that’s been very popular with fans) but rather just expanding on what I had previously called a ‘cluster fuck’ of misshaped plot holes and the destruction of player’s decisions. In the interview with Casey D Hudson they spoke of how they intend to show players the consequences of their actions as well as add more ‘visual combat’ sequences (hopefully showing us those Elcor Heavies we all want to see…) and perhaps expand a little on what happened to the rest of your crew members after the war. The words that I didn’t hear of course were: “We were wrong.” Instead they just confessed that their previous ending left a lot up to the players’ own imagination (so much for art).

At first, I thought that I wasn’t going to bother to go through the trouble of hooking up my PS3 to my PC and downloading the 2GB ending. It’s going to sound really silly but I feel that I’m not ready yet. That in light of the two posts that I gave; I’m too raw to deal with more disappointment. I had lost a lot of my faith in Bioware and I’ve become all too aware of how their actions can affect my own emotions and shake my own calm centre (and, I’m about as calm as any red head can be on a good day). I’ve recently acquired the Mass Effect 3 OST and when I listened to the last songs on the CD I realised that I had missed quite a lot of them purely because I was crying so much by that time, that all I could see was Shepard, Anderson and the Starchild. It made me remember how deeply that ending had affected me and how absolutely crushed I had been. I’m not fond of my own emotions and facing all of that again? I didn’t think that I’m that mad.

Yet, last night I found myself almost dragging myself to my PS3 console. I dug out my Mass Effect 3 disk and with an emotion I could only name as bitter sweet agony I picked up the replay that I had abandoned and dragged my Shepard through the tedious slump of the quarian levels and the brilliantly agonising fall of Thessia. Because I knew what was going to happen in both instances, the emotions didn’t touch me directly but I remember how absolutely surprised I had been being able to forge an alliance between the quarians and the geth and how shocked I had been when I realised after Thessia that I had lost a fight. It made me realise that this is still an incredible game and that the ride Bioware had taken me on the first time was marvellous. Even the fact that the terrible ending evoked such uproar from the fans is proof that Bioware did what they wanted to do well. They got us so involved that we couldn’t let go. If this was just an ordinary story, a bad ending might’ve had you go ‘bleh’ and you carried on with your life. This didn’t. It stuck with us, all of us. And, I think in that you have to give Bioware their dues.

Grudgingly, I also have to say that for all the controversy surrounding it, you also have to give Bioware some credit in actually bothering to give us this extended ending. They didn’t need to; they had already made their millions. They spend time working on it that must’ve been scheduled out for other projects and although it would’ve been ludicrous if they tried, they’re not charging us anything despite the fact that it obviously cost them some money. It shows that they do appreciate their fans (in a very: Yes, we like you and we love to take your money but we’re still going to screw your emotions over, kind of way) and perhaps, the fact that most of us hated the ending made them think a little deeper and learn something out of all of this.

Perhaps.

Tomorrow evening, I know that I will go to the PSN network and download the Extended Cut DLC despite the fact that I know it will most probably throw me back into a depression that will take me days to dig myself out of. Tonight, I will play my game up until the moment where I can attack the Cerberus base so that I can be ready for the new added content. I’m not particularly happy about it all but I’m strangely determined to see it through. The thing is that I need closure and I need to know that I didn’t spend over 400 hours playing this game for nothing. And, although I’m head shy I find that, like some Indoctrinated Fool, I have enough faith left in Bioware to trust that they will make this right. They gave us this amazing game that up until the last few minutes had captured all of us heart, soul and mind. Yes, it makes them dangerous for people like me who get too involved but I’ve also realised that I wouldn’t change it for the world. That I will take this game for all its glory, its agony, its tragedy and its triumph.

I just really, really hope that the extended cut is worth it. I really do.

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Who is Femshep?

If you’ve been following my tweets you’d have noticed that I’ve been tweeting quite often of Femshep, the character associated with the epic game series Mass Effect. You might’ve recognized this tag, or you found yourself thinking: What is this woman on about? Why is she so obsessed with this character?

Well. I’m glad you asked.

Femshep is the nickname for the female Commander Shepard, the main character/protagonist of the Role Playing Game franchinse from Bioware – Mass Effect. For those of you who are not that familiar with gaming, it basically means that she’s the woman who’s back you are constantly staring at. She’s one of two main characters of the series, the other one being Broshep or Maleshep, her male counterpart. When you start your game you can decide whether you want to play as a male or as a female and this choice effects not only who you romance but sometimes on the odd occasion who people respond to you. Broshep is voiced by actor Mark Meer and modelled after actor Mark Vanderloo. Femshep was voiced by Jennifer Hale and modelled after… Nobody. You see, up until now, Femshep had been the ignored and forgotten child of the franchise. Bioware once claimed that only about 18% of all gamers played as the female counterpart of the series, which probably meant that they felt justified not to spend that much time on her… But, I still think those percentages are wrong.

You see, Femshep is popular. I’ve seen it in fan fiction and I have monitored (and from my own experience I should add) how passionate the fans of our female heroine could get. After the release of Mass Effect 2, there became a slow but steady outcry to Bioware to use FemShep in marketing too. We wanted her to be acknowledged. We wanted Jennifer Hale to be acknowledged. You see, this woman, this voice actor is one of the best around. Not only has she now earned herself a space in the Guiness World Record books as the most prolific voice actress (ie – she’s been in more video games than your average Joe and Jack…) but she was also nominated for the best performance by a female voice actor by the Spike Video Game Awards in 2010. She’s, in a word, awesome. Which is why it’s been so disappointing to find that only Mark Meer had been used in marketing up until now. Now, please – I realize that there are people out there who feel about BroShep the way I feel about my FemShep. I’m not saying that he’s bad, I’m just saying he’s not right for me and for numerous other fans out there.

The thing is that you get involved with Mass Effect. You stand there with this woman and make difficult choices. You fight against impossible odds. You find yourself having to make a choice between who of your friends to save and who not to. You can destroy nations, save cities and face down evil overlords. And, all the while you’re doing it alongside this woman. You’re doing it with Jennifer Hale and it’s only fair that she gets acknowledged for the amazing work that she’s been putting into this series. She’s done just as many recordings as Mark Meer. Why not split the marketing 50/50? Heck – if they marketed her more from the beginning, that 18% might’ve been very different…

And, this year it will be. Although the marketing had not been split 50/50, Bioware listened to their fans and said that they would make a trailer in FemShep’s honour. We were going to get a trailer. And, we couldn’t wait. Today, the 10th of February, has been dubbed FemShep Friday (and if you’re on twitter, use the #femshepfriday hash tags!) in honour of the trailer’s release. Today. After all that waiting, after all that anticipation. After thinking that it was going to appear at the Spike VGA’s (and then disappointed) we were now going to finally catch a glimpse of our heroine in action. I am beyond excited. I feel like a dog that had just caught a car that he had been chasing. For months. Every time I go onto twitter and I see the fan’s support for both FemShep and Jennifer Hale I feel my heart swell with pride.

So, today is our day. Today, is the day where the fans of Mass Effect and FemShep can celebrate and thank Bioware for listening us and for supporting us. Today is Jennifer Hale’s day, to honour the amazing job that she had been doing, for the part that she played in making this game so wonderful.

Today is FemShep Friday, and I will show my support. And give my thanks.

And, watch that trailer when it comes out.