Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bittersweet Symphony

I am still going to defend the need to have a bittersweet ending in media, video games in particular. But as I play through Mass Effect 3, at the end of it all, I’m feeling it. I don’t want to finish the game.

I’m not regretting skipping ahead and reading the Wiki story outline. However that sadness is kicking in. I know my main character is going to die and that really sucks. I know people on my ship are going to die, no matter how much time and energy I have put into the game to get them to like me and to stay safe. Doubly sucks. Hell I put in way too much effort in ME2 to ensure that didn’t happen. Everyone comes back alive. If I get knocked out in the process, oh well, but the rest of you are required to survive. Why? To validate my gaming experience.

What is the point in saving the galaxy if my comrades, who I have spent 3 games working my ass off to protect, die in the process? The emotional investment we have in this game is at a lost. I think a number of us can agree that our interest in media (movies, television, books, games, etc.) is based off of the characters. Whether it be a personal connection, similar circumstances, or mutual dissatisfaction, a story is moot if you don’t have solid characters to play it out.

That is why I’m ambivalent about finishing the series, something that I am sure a number of you can agree with.

Again, I do want to state as I did in my post a few months back that Sheppard has to die. I don’t feel that the series could reach a more cohesive conclusion without his/her death occurring. Even with the “multiple” choices made available to the gamer (and I use that term lightly because let’s be honest, the endings are about 98% the same with the exception of a different colored laser beam), the best possible resolution has to kill off the main character. The beauty of the story doesn’t hold if he/she lives. Even that slim chance of Sheppard clinging to life in the super, secret, extra bonus ending is a bit of a cop-out. I’d rather they focused on the secondary characters and ensure their lives are fulfilled because of Sheppard’s sacrifice. Insert your religious references here.

Of course that’s also a way to get EA to crank out another game and a really crappy anime. So, you know, whatever.  I just know for me personally, I don’t think I can physically finish the game. I’ll make it to the beam of light from the Crucible and stop. I want to end the game knowing that everyone on my team lived. Beyond that, let it be.


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