After thinking long and hard about my earlier comments regarding the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut, I’m going to retract and revise somewhat. I still believe that the whole RGB/Star Child debacle should have been scrapped, incinerated, its ashes mixed with a load of nuclear waste and then fired into the sun. Of course, due to solar winds and whatnot, we’d be sharing it with the rest of the universe, which might have its own set of consequences, but my opinion on those items has not changed since my initial review several months ago. And because BioWare decided to keep those elements, my view of the EC is significantly less than rosy.
But, in all fairness to the development team, let’s consider a couple of items where they deserve a massive high-five from the players.
First, they recognized that many/most fans considered the original ending to be a complete pile of shit. They listened, weighed those reactions against their vision of the story they wanted told (I’m pretty sure this is the “artistic integrity” that they stood behind) and then tried to bring the two closer together while keeping their story. I’ve said several times that it’s their story and I meant it. I’m under no obligation to like the way that it played out, but the time and effort that went into producing and releasing the Extended Cut is prima facie evidence that they sincerely care about the way the players perceive the game. Not many game companies would consider that, much less do it. To that extent, my opinion of BioWare is significantly higher because of the Extended Cut.
Second, the Extended Cut does deliver on the promised clarity and closure. Whether Shepard physically lives, virtually lives, dies or whatever is irrelevant. I was not expecting Shepard to be around in any potential ME4, anyway. And while I still have issues with the Star Child’s logic, the expanded dialogue does succeed in clarifying many issues leading up to the final choice. I still do not agree with the effects of those choices (and I now believe Synthesis to be the suckiest of the three – maybe it’s the glowing green eyes), but the canon reasons why those choices are what they are makes more sense than it did in the original.
Third, the extended cut scenes (OK, slideshows) with their voice-overs let you see how your earlier decisions play out in the larger universe. I am still less than thrilled that the Destroy ending also takes out the Geth and EDI, so I’m pretty much left with “the Illusive Man was right, after all,” which galls me no end. But seeing the mass relays being rebuilt, the Krogan family, the memorial service as Shepard’s name is added to the wall, and all the rest, does a very good job of dispelling the doom and gloom of the original ending.
Because of these, my initial conclusion of the EC being “only a bit” better than the original is doing a disservice to the team that went out of its way to make it in the first place. Let’s chalk that up to persisting dissatisfaction with the Star Child/RGB ending while giving appropriate kudos for the effort of trying to make it more palatable.