Oh Gosh, all the endings?
Well, I’ve done a couple different playthroughs, so for frame of reference I’m going to list my Shepards before going into the choices they made:
Matthew is from Mindoir, a war hero of the Skllian Blitz, and an uber-paragon Talimancer. Janie, a spacer brat and sole survivor, is his exact opposite - an uber-renegade and a (renegade) Garrus-mancer. Maria is an earthborn butcher of Torfan and lies philsophically somewhere in the middle, neither purely renegade nor purely paragon, and hasn’t picked a love interest yet.
- I usually save the council, mostly because I LOVE cranky ass Sparatus. Matthew Shepard saved them, as did Maria (paragon femshep). Maria felt the council were assholes but were symbolically important enough to save, plus she thought the Destiny Ascension would come in handy. Matthew thought if being a pain in the ass meant that someone had to die, then they’d have signed Udina’s death sentence years ago.
Janie Shepard actually did go through with it and killed off the Council. At the time it felt satisfying but after a while everyone just kept throwing it in her face. She got tired of that - save a thousand lives, only to get yelled at not saving three.
- I prefer Anderson over Udina, and that’s because I just think it’s the choice that Shepard - his protegee - is more likely to pick. Udina threw you under a bus after Virmire, there’s every guarantee that he’ll shift opinions whenever it suits him. Anderson seems more the steady, loyal pick. Both Matthew and Maria picked Anderson, feeling that he was more trustworthy as a vocal point for humanity.
Janie picked Udina; she didn’t particularly like him but he seemed like the best voice for human interests on the new, human dominated council. She asked Anderson to keep an eye on him, though.
It didn’t work out in her favor.
- I actually prefer keeping the Collector base, but I hate having to give it to Cerberus. I think it’s kind of weird that destroying the base is the paragon choice; destroying Maelon’s data - equally “tainted” with unethical conduct - is the renegade option, but destroying the base is the paragon one?
Matthew blew it up, mostly because he had had it up to HERE with the Illusive Man’s crap. Janie kept it, feeling that the value inherent in it outweighed the risks. She figured she could kick the Illusive Man’s ass if she was wrong.
Maria probably will keep it, but having to sign something over to the Illusive Man will haunt her.
- Oh god, the big one. I’m so very split on Mass Effect 3’s endings, you don’t even know.
On one hand, I really like that they’re all a bit bittersweet. Even ending has it’s cost. It would have been so easy for Bioware to give you one ending that has all the benefits and none of the drawbacks of the ME3 endings, but they didn’t. Each ending definitively feels like there is heavy cost to the victory.
On the other hand, I don’t like that that cost is almost always Shepard. I don’t think Shepard has to die for the game to feel bittersweet - she’s lost a lot of friends, most of the galaxy has been reaperized - it’s bitter and adding that she would die just makes it feel a bit too “grimdark.” And all the reasons for her to die - basically LOLZ WE NEED YOUR DNA FOR MAGIC AND LOTS OF IT - feels dumb. You’re in a super advanced society, get what you need from a finger-prick and move on.
On one hand, I like that the endings each have a character representing them - Saren for Synthesis, the Illusive Man for Control, and Anderson for Destroy.
The problem though is that that connection is not really focused on, or sussed out well. Sure, each character advocates a plan, but it’s never explained why each character favors each plan, or how the system doles out the morality points for it. It’s never quite explained how the Illusive Main gets indoctrinated. There’s never - ever - any moments where a character wonders if perhaps Saren was right all along, and that perhaps an alliance between humans and reapers was the ideal solution. There’s never even really a point where Anderson blatantly says he wants to destroy the reapers even if there were other options, nor even a scene where Anderson is shown to be more willing to take on high risk missions. The closest I can get to that is that Anderson praises Shepard for Torfan in ME1 if you chose that as your background, but since most people don’t pick Torfan, that’s not exactly a good way for the game to get its point across.
And now a bit on every ending:
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