Starbrat is still in it, the entire last mission that took place on earth still felt like call of modern battlefield, mostly humans with very few aliens. The three choices are still repulsive, force everything and everyone to become exactly the same destroying the diversity that was so important to the Mass Effect universe, become a godlike dictator or commit genocide.
Synthesis doesn't make everything exactly the same, it just makes organics partly synthetic with the abilities of machines, and gives synthetics an understanding of organics. I wouldn't force such a thing on others even though I'm a transhumanist, if synthesis is inevitable it should be allowed to happen naturally. When picking Synthesis you don't even know what you're forcing on everyone as the Catalyst only describes it in very general terms. There was a very funny thread on the Bioware forums about what the rehumanised husks must be thinking. Control only results in something resembling a dictatorship if your Shepard was a Renegade, the Paragon version is more like a benevolent guardian. I still rejected it because it doesn't leave the races free to develop on their own terms, a benevolent guardian fixing things for everyone would cause the races of the galaxy to develop along the paths it chose, whether the guardian wanted to or not.
That leaves Destroy. Wiping out the Geth is truly regrettable especially as it lessens the value of Legion's sacrifice, but I see no other option. Besides it's not as if the Geth are truly alive and they did ally with the Reapers twice, their sacrifice was necessary to destroy the Reapers.
Bioware gave us the choice to tell the starbrat to go fuck himself but it was presented in a way to tell us that we're wrong for picking that choice
That's because it's a stupid choice, you've been told throughout the game that you can't defeat the Reapers conventionally. By refusing to use the Crucible you've just gone and made sure everyone's sacrifice counted for nothing, well done Commander!
*looks at indoctrination theory and mourns for what might have been.*
IT was just a stupid conspiracy theory, it's amusing how IT followers STILL won't let go of it even though it's been comprehensively disproven, hell it was disproven even in the original ending.
Because Shepard meeting the reaper overlord and doing exactly as it says makes perfect sense, yes listen to the genocidal ancient machine thing, well done commander. By using the crucible you're abandoning everything Shepard and his/her allies were fighting for and essentially agreeing with the reapers. The problem is that the core theme of Mass Effect has always been victory over impossible odds, not victory through sacrifice.
This sums up most of what is wrong with it quite nicely:
"I haven’t had a chance to catch up on this thread completely since returning from my business trip; I’m still perhaps ten pages behind, so I apologize if part of this has been brought up before, but given that the conversation has skirted this area and then veered away again a few times I’m willing to bet it hasn’t.
I’ve also been somewhat hesitant to post my thoughts on the Extended Cut, given the potentially controversial nature of those thoughts, but if there’s one place I’ve seen on the internet where they have a chance of being discussed and analyzed rationally, I believe that place is here.
I have not played the Extended Cut (and neither will I), but have watched the entirety of them on YouTube. I did not find anything to like about any of the updated material, except perhaps, on a purely intellectual level, the new Refusal ending. In fact, it clarified for me two things about my initial response to the ending that I had not realized before, and because of that, I found the entire exercise to be both more depressing than the original ending, and even more deeply offensive.
My first response (in terms of importance, although not in chronology) is one of philosophy. I don't mean sitting-in-a-leather-chair-smoking-a-pipe philosophy, I mean philosophy in the sense of worldview. This only became clear to me after watching the Extended Cut and assimilating and digesting most of the discussion on this thread, as well as various other outside sources. What gave me the final lens to really crystallize it was the blog entry Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. TWILIGHT, in which he dissects the Twilight series on a similar level as we have done here with Mass Effect 3.
In "Part 2: The Thematic Nightmares" (sometimes it's eerie, the parallels to this thread), Hulk mentions that the concept of Twilight came to Stephanie Meyer in a dream. He accompanies this with a video where she is interviewed and relates how surprised she was during every step of the process of writing and publishing the first book. He notes that she essentially vomited her id all over the paper, and that this style of unconscious writing gives us a deep and penetrating glimpse of her pyche and worldview (and the problems therein).
WHILE THERE IS A CAPACITY TO WHICH ALL WRITERS ARE WORKING THROUGH RELATIVE PSYCHOSIS, EMOTIONS, AND RESERVATIONS, YOU CAN AT LEAST TRY TO HAVE THEM SERVE REAL THEMATIC PURPOSES OF THE STORY. YOU CAN TRY TO PROVIDE A KIND OF CATHARTIC NARRATIVE OR INTELLECTUAL PERSPECTIVE FOR YOUR READER.
BUT WHEN YOU LACK THAT AWARENESS, YOU LIKELY START PARTICIPATING IN SOME KIND OF INDULGENT FANTASY IN A STATE OF SEMI-MASTURBATORY GLEE. WHICH ISN'T TO SAY THOSE KINDS OF THINGS CAN'T BE GOOD EITHER, JUST THAT MOST OFTEN RESULT IN SOMETHING PURELY INDULGENT FOR THE READER AS WELL AND LET'S BE HONEST. MOST OF THE TIME THEY AREN'T THAT GOOD, AT LEAST NOT THE SAME WAY. THE MORE UNAWARE AND UNFOCUSED WRITING BECAUSE "GOOD FOR OTHER REASONS." THE WORK IS OFTEN MORALLY TROUBLESOME TO BOOT BECAUSE OF THE WAY THEY DON'T REALIZE HOW THEY INDULGE IN THIS MASTURBATORY GLEE WITHOUT ACTUAL CONSEQUENCE THAT ACCOMPANIES REAL LIFE. HULK KNOW THIS ISN'T JUST COMMON TO JUST STEPHENIE MEYER. IT'S TRUE OF EVEN GREAT AUTHORS. LIKE HOW DAVID FOSTER WALLACE FAMOUSLY (AND CORRECTLY) DIAGNOSES THE CHIEF PROBLEM OF ALL OF UPDIKE'S WORK IS THAT HE CAN'T UNDERSTAND THAT HE'S AN ****. HULK REALLY WANTS TO CLARIFY THAT HER PROBLEMS ARE NOT UNIQUE.
BUT THEY ARE REAL PROBLEMS.
I won't go into the ways in which Twilight is thematically revolting (and it is); the specifics don't apply here. But the principle does. The Mass Effect series, once it fell under the purview of one Mac Walters, was in hindsight quite obviously written in a similar seat-of-the-pants manner as Meyer's dream-induced literary paroxysms. That he and Casey Hudson separated themselves into a room and came up with the ending to Mass Effect 3 in isolation over a short period of time grants us a similarly id-fueled glimpse of their subconscious, as their ingrained worldview bled into the ink of their pens.
What we find there is, in a word, Progressivism, and Progressivism at its vilest, terminal expression. Walters and Hudson were given a story about initiative, free will, strength in the unity of differences, and the power of a remarkable individual to change the world. They chose not to honor that story; instead, they grafted it onto a fabricated dilemma which promotes the subjugation of the individual for the good of the collective. In this new paradigm, one life has no inherent value beyond what it contributes to society as a whole, and that existence would be vastly improved if the individual would simply submit to those who know better how its energies should be spent.
This worldview is responsible for the moral relativism that declares in absolute terms that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and erupted into such blights as the Soviet gulags and the Killing Fields of Cambodia; it is responsible for the Orwellian statism that establishes the central government as the final arbiter of all rights, and holds billions under oppression and poverty in such places as Communist China and North Korea; it is responsible for the idolization of homogeneity that spawns ethnic cleansing, and created such horrors as Auschwitz and Jasenovac. Red collectivism, blue tyranny, and green eugenics: three great tastes that taste great together!
In these three color-coded, "acceptable" options, we are required to submit to at least one of these Progressive tenets in order to "succeed"; if we remain true to the principles we fought for during the previous games, if we assert the right of the individual to live free, we are ground to nothingness underneath the weight of that ultimate collective, the Reapers. This is why so many players instinctively felt that the new Refuse ending was little more than a middle finger extended from BioWare's metaphorical hand. "You can't fight City Hall. Pick a color, or die." It's encouraging to me how many recognize that death is, in this situation, the most desirable choice. It's equally discouraging to me how many find one of those awful colors to be an acceptable compromise.
I do not for a moment believe that Walters and Hudson consciously believe in or promote any of these things. Nevertheless, it is, based upon all historical evidence, the ultimate result of the paradigm to which the endings adhere. They are free, as Meyers was, to indulge their utopian fantasy without the horrific consequences that worldview creates in real life, but as the creators of those endings, they ask us to actively participate in atrocity; indeed, they make atrocity a prerequisite of victory.
I did give warning that this viewpoint might be controversial. But as a staunch libertarian, I cannot express the level of repugnance and even, after a fashion, anger, that I feel when I consider how badly the story of Mass Effect has been twisted at the very end of the series to adhere to this morally bankrupt, Social Darwinist worldview. I now know, in the future, to actively avoid anything with Walters' or Hudson's names on it, as I find the philosophical perspective that they believe at a deep, subconscious level to be both historically and ethically indefensible.
My second response to the Extended Cut is an emotional one, and while it was the first response I was aware of consciously, it ultimately springs up from the deeper value system of the reaction I discussed beforehand, combined with my own creative input into the character of Commander Shepard. It's the more powerful of the two because it is the surface reaction, but is ultimately a manifestation of my feelings towards the themes of the more subtle and subconscious one.
I’ve mentioned before how I felt, upon completing my initial playthrough of Mass Effect 3, as if my character Jessica Shepard had been kidnapped. She simply vanished at some point in the story, but I finally realized I was watching an imposter only after the Catalyst’s elevator pulled her into the Receiving Chamber of Doom (the subconscious view of the Catalyst as the kidnapper may be, for many players, a significant source of the ire directed towards it, but that’s a separate discussion for a different place and time). The lack of closure was the worst part, that sense of waiting with no hope of an end. It was one of the major reasons I loved (and still love) the idea of the Indoctrination Theory, even though I knew intellectually that it could never happen. I did not know what had happened to Jessica; I did not know where she was; I did not know if she was alive or dead. I did not know.
Well, now I know. BioWare has given us closure with a vengeance. And in doing so, they have assassinated Jessica in a manner far more total than any sniper’s bullet could possibly have accomplished.
In the backstory I created in my head for this part of the Mass Effect universe, much of Singapore is a downtrodden slum under the control of Chinese organized crime. It was here that the orphan Jessica grew up, her life one of deprivation, exploitation, abuse, and murder until she escaped to the Alliance. Although she would vehemently deny it, the traumas of her past rule her actions; she is guarded with her trust, unshakeable in her loyalty, utterly incapable of forgiveness, pragmatic to a fault, and if there is one thing she despises more than any other it is a bully. She will reflexively defend anyone who is too weak to protect themselves, will give anyone the benefit of the doubt once and once only, and habitually distrusts authority figures. Her inherent mechanical brilliance lets her tear apart any engineering or coding to its component parts and reassemble it better than it was, and because of this, while she can develop a relationship with synthetic beings, she never subconsciously views them as anything more than tools. And underneath all this runs an almost feral current of primitive survival instinct that manifests in coldblooded ruthlessness and an absolute inability to surrender. She is a damaged, flawed, beautiful creature and the most Renegade Paragon you’ll ever meet.
I have not played the Extended Cut to put her in front of the Catalyst for her final test, but I don’t need to. I know her intimately and can project her into that environment to watch what she would do. And I know that, as much as I would wish her to stand on principle and tell the Catalyst and his Reaper thugs to go to hell, she never would. It would feel, to her, like giving up. She would grasp at the one chance for survival, the one chance to save the people like Liara and Garrus whom she would sacrifice hundreds of other lives to save, the one chance to wreak vengeance upon the biggest bullies the universe has ever seen. She would sacrifice the needs of the few for the needs of the many, for the few are merely machines. She would gamble that the Catalyst was not lying with every word, because really, the Reapers are already out there annihilating the combined military might of the galaxy, what does she have to lose? She would succumb to the collectivist worldview, and choose Destroy. And in so doing, her virtues would putrefy into hamartia, and her faults would crack and gape and release a monstrosity.
Are not the most stirring tales those in which the heroes’ faults become their strength? What then shall we say of the tales where the heroes’ virtues become their downfall?
It hurts me to discover that a character I love, as strong as she is, cannot, at the end of it all, be as strong as I hoped.
I refuse to subject Jessica to this nihilism, this perversion, this complete and utter destruction of character. I am convinced that the narrative abortion that was the Lazarus Project is the point at which the Mass Effect story suffered its mortal wound (also a discussion for a different place and time), despite limping on for two games before succumbing. But to me that is now the demarcation point of the series. Shepard died there; what moves and talks and shoots its way through the rest of the series is a construct fashioned only in Shepard's likeness. And so, to me, the original Mass Effect is the one, the only game of the series. I will remember Jessica as she was then, striding through a universe of mystery and wonder, vital and indomitable and real. Her tale is a tale of perseverance and triumph, the damaged young criminal growing into the savior, a bright icon of terrible righteousness ascending from the morass of her own shadowed past. No tale hers of compromise, of failure, of precipitous collapse back into the mire of amorality. Not as BioWare would have it.
I reject their choices. I reject the story they told. I reject their claim upon my imagination. Jessica Shepard is mine, and they shall never take her from me."