If Mass Effect 3’s Ending Changes, We Can’t Call it Art
April 2, 2012 3 Comments
Mass Effect 3 is one of those games that bends the laws of time. The only other consistently relevant example is the Civilization franchise. Where players succumb to the gentle flow of ‘one more turn… one more turn… one more turn…” until its 4 a.m. Not many games do that to me anymore.
What’s that Hackett? I just saved (Spoiler) and now Cerberus is attacking (Spoiler)? I’m on it. Voosh, I’m off, glancing over my real life shoulder and noticing the clock ticking into the less forgiving p.m. hours of the weekday work night. Do not underestimate how rarely a game comes along with that type of raw power.
It’s also effortlessly intelligent with how it deals with a science fiction universe. Even experienced sci-fi novelists get buggered by unbelievability when they deal with real science like space-time physics, binary star systems, terraforming, alien species, invasive foreign bacteria, artificial intelligence. Mass Effect 3 handles each topic it approaches with a maturity and self-confidence that shows itself as clearly a sci-fi story for adults.
Pivot to the ending. A lot of people don’t like it. That’s not what I’m here for. My problem with these complaints is they deny agency. You can’t strip an author or an artist from their license to create what they want. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, that just means it isn’t for you. A lot of people didn’t like The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or the Star Wars prequels. This is a bad example only because many people famously did the exact same thing they’re doing here. They had and have childishly petitioned George Lucas to fix it, fix it, fix it. We may all agree about Lucas’ horrible late-career film choices, but he is absolutely correct when he responds: tough shit, it’s my movie, I’ll do what I want with it.
ABC News embedded this video about the ending controversy. Besides obvious glitches in the game programming (such as dead characters somehow finding themselves quite alive in the closing cut scene) this list of 10 faults is a very weak argument. At this juncture though, we depart, dear reader. You’ll either watch this and foam at the mouth and demand changes or you’ll shrug at the entitled voices that clearly don’t want this game to be art. They want it to be a pizza they paid for and goddamnit the pizza was cold when it got here and you better fix it.