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Mass Effect 3 Ending Vs Sci-Fi Writers

ME3's ending split gamers and caused an internet storm - but what do top sci-fi writers make of it?

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SCIENCE FRICTION

Does Mass Effect 3 need a new ending? On our own Facebook group there are as many readers happy with the ending as unhappy at the loose ends. Some of the best science fiction novels - Rendezvous with Rama, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Hyperion - work because they ask more questions than they answer. Is the fuss just the work of a generation of entitled gamers raised on Star Wars, waiting for Princess Leia to hand out the medals?

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"I personally prefer the hanging questions," says Green. "Life doesn't end with a medal ceremony or dancing Ewoks, and even when it does, somebody's still going to have to clear up all those discarded streamers the following morning. But there needs to be some form of emotional pay-off for all those people who stuck with the over-arching story from day one. When it comes to a huge game like Mass Effect 3, to have an ending which negates any of the travails of the player is a mean-spirited and lazy thing to do."

"The ending was bad," agrees Abercrombie, "but in no way spoiled the experience. I was vastly more disappointed by Dragon Age 2, which just seemed generally shoddy throughout. BioWare only owed players a great game and I think they largely delivered that. Shepard's relationships were actually paid off really well."

"The best moments were things like Mordin Solus's sacrifice, and the wider plotline of the Salarians, Krogan and the Genophage. The outcry over the ending seems excessive to me, but did it make good science fiction?" he asks. "Well, was it good science? No. It was pretty incomprehensible and didn't make much sense even within the context of the game.

"But I'm actually a lot more interested in whether it made good fiction. And the answer is 'no' again. Heavy exposition by a glowing child never before mentioned seems a sure sign of failure. By the time you get to the end of a hundred and fifty hours of gameplay, you shouldn't need things explained. You shouldn't be watching with furrowed brow thinking wha? You shouldn't be thinking at all. You should be feeling it."

REWRITING HISTORY

"An author owes their readers closure at the conclusion of a series of books" says Green. "Each individual story needs some form of resolution, although that could include setting up the next adventure." That next adventure is clearly a big part of BioWare's plans, and while the new ending will give key characters the epilogue they deserved, the Retake Mass Effect campaign have simplified Mass Effect 3's bigger problems, says Abercrombie.

"I think the problems started well before the ending," he explains. "The Illusive Man went from fascinating power behind the throne in Mass Effect 2 to tedious blathering villain in Mass Effect 3, for instance. The third game was more gung ho, more morally simplistic, more... cheesy than the second.

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"A great ending begins right at the start. Red Dead Redemption - which I thought had a fantastic ending - has a strong central theme about the death of the West where the central character embodies that theme, the action all plays into it, and the end is bold and tough but entirely fitting. I'm not sure how a bit of DLC can make the difference for Mass Effect 3. If the spike on the top of the skyscraper is wonky because the foundation is wonky, a new spike ain't going to fix it."

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