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Plot holes left unresolved by Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut

by Ethan Powers on July 4, 2012

Last week, most of you eagerly played through the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut naively hoping, even praying that BioWare had done more than simply add dialogue and supplementary cinematic scenes to what is now infamously renowned as one of the most botched endings in the history of gaming. For the second straight time, the majority of you once again walked away disappointed, saddened, or perhaps even downright outraged.

Regardless of the criticism Mass Effect 3’s ending damn well deserves, BioWare is certainly worthy of praise for owning up to their mistakes and admitting that some sort of fan recompense was in order. The fact that an “Extended Cut” for Mass Effect 3 is even available right now implies that BioWare, though they won’t admit it publicly, knew deep-down that they had shipped an ending that at the very least was incomplete.

Yet BioWare’s second attempt at providing the Mass Effect trilogy with the closure and resolution it deserves largely falls short due to a complete failure to recognize what ailed it the first time around: blatantly obvious plot holes and writing that you’d expect to find at the bottom of a paper stack topped with rejected movie idea pitches. Chalk it up to redundant gamer whining if you will, but the community is less concerned about not getting the ending they’d wished or hoped for, and is rather outraged at the fact that BioWare has chosen to leave major errors in continuity and narrative even after taking a second look at the game’s conclusion. So while BioWare metaphorically tied a nice and shiny bow onto Mass Effect 3’s ending with the Extended Cut, no DLC will ever be able to remedy the fact that the ending was an abomination to begin with. Slapping some paint and new siding on a house that has a decrepit and decaying foundation will undoubtedly make the presentation better, yet it cannot mask the fact that the house itself is in need of more than an aesthetic update.

Partly what baffles those of us who have been fans of the series since its inception is how BioWare could overlook the evidently inconsistent writing, climaxed with the introduction of the Catalyst character who almost served as a form of dues-ex-machina for the developers. It’s as though they couldn’t find a way to end the Reaper threat logically or rationally while providing gamers with the element of “player decision” that had come to characterize and even define the franchise. The result? A contrived and forced finale that was neither sensible nor satisfying. What’s perhaps even more baffling is the fact that BioWare did not take the fan-manufactured “Indoctrination Theory” and run with it. The Mass Effect community gave the heavily criticized developers a glorious out. One that would have turned a laughable conclusion into a twist ending that would’ve caused us to step back in awe-inspired admiration and would have catapulted BioWare to legendary status. But I suppose the concept of creative control is just as good, eh BioWare?

I struggled with the idea of writing and publishing an open letter to BioWare that listed the community’s remaining and justifiable gripes following the release of the Mass Effect 3Extended Cut, but ultimately restrained myself in favor of a much more lighthearted showcasing of some of the ending’s more obvious oversights. Mainly, because Mass Effect 3 never needed an “Extended Cut” to begin with. It needed its entire third act to be thrown out and re-written, something that BioWare would never have been willing to attempt as they continue to scream, “Creative freedom, dammit!” to the hordes of gamers calling for them to do so. Besides, I have already expressed my extreme disappointment with the Mass Effect 3 ending once before. I don’t have the inclination or the wherewithal to do so again.

So, here are five plot holes that remain unexplainable even after the release of the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut. Try to find some humor in them, because at the end of the day, if you’re not laughing, you’re crying. Take solace in the fact that that there are other stories to be told and other games to be played, my friends. If you don’t move on, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life. What about our enjoyment within the Mass Effect universe you ask? We’ll always have Mass Effect…and Mass Effect 2… and the majority of Mass Effect 3. This Casablanca reference doing anything for you? No? Right then, Mass Effect 3 and its ending plot holes.
1. In addition to uniting all races in the galaxy, add “can breathe in space” to the list of cool sh*t Shepard can do.
– When Shepard is elevated to meet the Catalyst, he makes the transition from inside the Citadel to outside (Space) without the help of any equipment or additional gear. He then goes on to have a conversation with the avatar as if he’s used to being lectured in a vacuum atmosphere. No helmet. No mask. Nothing but the tattered battle suit on his back.
For those of you citing “Mass Effect fields” as a simple and appropriate answer, I point you to the end events of the original Mass Effect in which Shepard found himself on the outside of the Citadel. In this similar circumstance, there was neither air, nor gravity. As a result, Shepard can be seen wearing his mask. Yet when Shepard converses with the Catalyst atop the Citadel in Mass Effect 3 he is magically without the need for a mask or helmet.
Let’s assume just for a second that oxygen can somehow be transported from the wards to the outside (which is highly doubtful considering the arms have been closed). Why would the Reapers leave the oxygen flowing? We’re led to believe that the Reapers are an all-powerful race of an ancient and colossal nature, yet they just forgot to push the one button that would ensure their victory? Oxygen (and the magical addition of gravity in Space) is the only thing allowing Shepard to hobble toward that red beam of light and destroy the largest and most powerful threat in the galaxy. You’d think flipping a switch would be easier than conquering an entire star system.

2. Harbinger calling a timeout in battle to allow Shepard to say goodbye to his crew aboard the Normandy.
While not a plot hole, the new scenes of the Normandy picking up your injured squadmates while Harbinger blows everything else to hell are incredibly silly.
You’re running toward the Conduit in what is supposed to one last epic act of desperation to get to the Citadel and activate the Crucible. Initially, it is. Harbinger’s laser is taking out every last bit of the remaining hammer squads. Transport shuttles are being blasted from the sky and tanks are being thrown from their intended path as fiery debris soars overhead. Suddenly, one of your team members goes down. You stop your run to help him/her take cover behind a nearby tank. Then, hilarity ensues.
As if Harbinger pauses to say “Aww, that’s kinda nice”, he allows Joker to swing in with the Normandy, pick up the downed as if he’s performing a routine evac. with no more danger present than a pea shooter and a few potato guns, and give Shepard the time he needs to say his heartwarming goodbyes. If the whole concept of the largest ship on the battlefield swooping down to pick up soldiers amidst destruction on a cataclysmic scale weren’t ludicrous enough for you, BioWare even gives you time to pick dialogue options. As soon as you’ve said your farewell, you continue your run to the Conduit and the chaos resumes.
The question as to how your squad made it back aboard the Normandy was one of the glaring holes in the original ending, yet against all odds, BioWare made the narrative even more illogical by adding in this gem. We’re supposed to believe that Harbinger can pinpoint every other Alliance unit on the battlefield except the biggest one, which also belongs to a human for whom he contains great hatred and resentment toward? Someone should have assumed direct control of the writing staff.

3. Anderson manages to make it up to the Citadel milliseconds after Shepard.
In the original ending, one of the more puzzling gaps in the narrative was that of Anderson making it to the Conduit, though we clearly only saw Shepard as the lone survivor. The Extended Cut adds dialogue after Shepard reaches the Citadel as Anderson claims he “followed you up.”
Had BioWare shown Anderson making it to the beam ahead of Shepard, they could have very easily erased this irrationality. In this scenario, it would be very plausible to believe Anderson went up and came out in a different processing room, yet managed to make it to the main chasm as a result of the Citadel’s structure consistently moving (I like to think of it in terms of the moving staircases at Hogwarts). However, it was Shepard that went up first, and it takes him a long time to do so. He falls, slowly limps his way toward the beam and even manages to take out a few Husks and a Marauder in the process. When he does finally make it up, Anderson radios-in just seconds later. We’re supposed to believe he was mere steps behind Shepard and didn’t call out to him so they could go up together? Additionally, Alliance radio intel would tell us only Shepard made it to the Conduit:
“God…they’re all gone.”
“Did we get anyone to the beam?
“Negative. Our entire force was decimated.”
Admiral Hackett then goes on to say, “Holy shit. He did it. We’ve got reports that someone made it to the Citadel.” The fact that Hackett later addresses Shepard directly when the Crucible doesn’t fire tells us that Shepard is the “someone” that the Alliance was referring to. How is it that Hackett knew Shepard made it to the Citadel, but not Anderson who was apparently a foot away from him when he went up?

4. “Tis’ but a scratch!” – Shepard lives.
– Those of you who finished the game with a high enough EMS and chose the “Destroy” ending have now seen this scene not once, but twice. The fact that BioWare did not eradicate the scene in which Shepard draws breath as the N7 armor is seen surrounded by rubble in what is presumably Earth is not a plot hole. It’s an absurdity.
There’s really no explanation needed for this one. It is a complete and utter insult to the intelligence of gamers to even imply or leave the smallest inkling of an indication that Shepard could have survived the Citadel’s explosion and his subsequent fall back into orbit, let alone in one piece. BioWare ought to release one more piece of ending DLC just for parody’s sake. But this time, the Normandy crew is replaced by members of Monty Python, Shepard ditches his N7 gear for the Black Knight’s suit of armor, and yells, “It’s just a flesh wound!” as he climbs out of the rubble and dusts himself off.
On a side note, it’s safe to assume that humanity cleared the massive wreckage scattered throughout London as they began the first phases of the rebuilding process. Are we to believe no one found the body of Shepard and checked his pulse? Apparently all of the British paramedics were killed during the war.

5. Introduction of the Catalyst directly contradicts the entirety of the original Mass Effect.
– Without attempting to explain the elaborate and mostly irrational mythology that BioWare inserted into the last five minutes of Mass Effect 3, the abridged version is this: the Catalyst is an advanced AI that represents the collective conscious of all Reapers. He tells Shepard that the Reapers were created to prevent organic life from wiping itself out and that the creation of synthetic life will always result in the destruction of the creator. To prevent this, the Reapers come around every 50,000 years to harvest advanced civilizations, creating a new Reaper, while leaving the smaller societies to develop and evolve.
The problem with the concept of there being a sophisticated AI that represents the communal thought of the entire Reaper race is that it conflicts with the motivations of Sovereign in Mass Effect. If the Catalyst has been on the Citadel for thousands of years, and indeed shares a collective intelligence with all Reapers, why would it be necessary for an actual Reaper to be present? According to its logic, the Catalyst should have known about the existence of any and all space-faring civilizations, and should have been able to alert the Reapers without the help of one. There’s simply no overcoming the idea that had the Catalyst been one of BioWare’s narrative concepts from the earliest stages, and not a manifestation of poor and frustrated writing at the end of a circuitous plot, it would have alerted Reaper forces to return to the Citadel immediately after the defeat of Sovereign without the need of the Keepers to send out the signal.
The Catalyst’s mere existence highlights BioWare’s inconsistent writing and narrative across games. Instead of settling on one singular conclusion to a plot that had become utterly convoluted, they introduced some pixilated kid said to embody the collective intelligence of all Reapers. Within minutes BioWare attempted to twist and contort an enemy that we had believed personified evil and malice for the betterment of two and a half games, into a controlled synthetic species whose actions were simply misunderstood.
Part of what made the Reapers such a well-received enemy in the past was their enigmatic nature. We knew very little about them other than the fact that they were an ancient race of colossal beings, containing immense power and with very little regard for any civilization that attempted to oppose them. Does Sovereign or Harbinger for example, uttering such phrases as, “You will know pain, Shepard” come across as beings with misconstrued intentions and who are uninterested in war? Quite the opposite. The Reapers’ characterization during the events of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 led us to believe that they were sadistic monsters who took pleasure in bringing about the brutal and violent end of the galaxy.
Thus, it’s difficult to view the end of Mass Effect 3 and the creation of the Catalyst as anything but an artificial solution manufactured by BioWare in a desperate attempt to provide an unnecessary mythos to an enemy that was better served without it. The Catalyst undoubtedly served as BioWare’s hasty and ill-advised resolution to a narrative they had lost track of. This deus ex machina, of sorts, offered a set of quick, immediate solutions to the seemingly unsolvable crisis of the Reaper threat. The Catalyst’s inception not only disregarded hundreds of hours of narrative logic, it turned what was once an enthralling piece of interactive entertainment into a muddled mess of a story.

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  • Jumper

    How about an explanation for why the synthesis option supposedly cannot be forced on people, and then you force it on everyone in the galaxy and it somehow works

    • N7 Operatives on Facebook

      Re: Synthesis
      This is a pretty simple answer. Synthesis could not work before because it was the Reapers trying to force it. At which point in the cycle did they try to force this is up to speculation. Shepard is an organic who accepts it and is the one to choose it. The state of the galaxy has never been more desperate. Where you see Synthesis taking place is on the battlefield. From Earth to Menae to Tuchanka to Thessia. These are all planets that are losing the war. The Quarians if they made peace with the Geth have already accepted them into their suits – representing the willingness organics have with A.I.s – and perhaps another difference this cycle has from any other. For the optimist, the reason is because Shepard is an organic accepting the olive branch is why synthesis can occur. For the pessimist, the desperation of the galaxy is the reason. For the others, the Reapers never had the Crucible to power their Catalyst which the Catalyst also states in the scene.

  • OpGuns69

    To be honest i didnt read the whole article.

  • Chomper

  • AKA Zzz

    Good article. I think they kept Shepard alive in one of the endings for future releases (/more money). They’ll probably do a spin-off and if that fails they can just release Mass Effect 4 with Shepard returning. Just like what Halo did with ODST.

  • Kryptice

    Great piece! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article, and I agree completely. The ending to Mass Effect 3 is a travesty and it undermines the solid storytelling that characterized the series. Everything about the third act of Mass Effect 3 fails the simplest logic test, from the Citadel being moved onto Earth when the Reapers could have easily set a trap at the Serpent Nebula to capture the Crucible weapon and destroy the Normandy, to the Reapers anchoring the station down to London with a “teleporting” beam that didn’t have an off-switch, to the infamous star brat Bioware pulled out of their asses at the last moment.

    I so miss Drew Karpyshyn. He’s the reason Bioware used to make great stories.

  • Chicka

    Honestly, i do t think everyone is goin to say: hey cool I am half organic and synthetic. A lot of people I’m sure would be pretty pissed about it. I personally think its a racist concept. Let’s make everyone the same.

  • Moschops

    The “Star Brat” was mentioned in the first Mass Effect game, as was the unknown nature of the citadel’s inner core. If you’re going to complain, it helps to know something about the universe.

    All of your other complaints are easily explained as well.

    You didn’t get dancing ewoks…boohoo. Go back to playing JRPGs and reading fanfic.

  • N7 Operatives on Facebook

    Re: Breathe in Space
    This is the easiest to answer as we’ve seen shields protect areas with outside views of space before. Why people assume the Catalyst is in the vacuum of space is a mystery by itself. Especially when the Catalyst has control of the Citadel and is able to raise Shepard to It’s platform. The author tries to cite a time Shepard needed his suit, but deliberately fails to mention the Catalyst’s role in bringing Shepard there. That’s because that is what makes their point completely fall apart.

    Re: Harbinger not blasting the Normandy
    This is another simple answer. When you have control of a gun turret at the London base you are shooting Husks and Cannibals storming the walls. Who do you shoot first? Those getting closest or those offering the biggest threat? Either answer is acceptable. The Normandy is neither of these. It has stopped it’s run. Hammer is still plowing forward. Harbinger has one laser. Would it allow more ants through to destroy something that has stopped coming forward? Something that is not firing at it at all? Of course not. That is illogical. As nice as it is to believe Harbinger allows Shepard one last moment of compassion, it is simply because It has bigger fish to fry.

    Re: Anderson making it to the Citadel
    This was intentionally left the way it was by BioWare and for a reason. There are multiple conclusions for this speculation. Personally, my belief was this is the role of level design. For all you see in the corridors of the Citadel, you do not see just as much (actually, more). There could be other entry points and other ways to the console. Walls are changing automatically and the way Anderson took could have closed off the same way the way Shepard enters is closed off too (the door behind them shuts and cannot be opened again – a bridge Anderson takes could retract the same way). There’s also Anderson’s comment of his location resembling the Collector Base. Note the walls around Shepard. They do not resemble the Collector Base at all. There’s the lone yellow light in the tunnel which hearkens back to the Collector Homeworld, but that is it. Anyway you look at it, Anderson came up in a different place than Shepard. Anderson, like Shepard, was never going to stop heading to the conduit. Anderson could very well be telling the truth that he made it just behind Shepard. Again, as much as you see when you wake up, you cannot see just as much. The background is blurry and their are damaged vehicles to either side of you. Anderson could be behind those vehicles; there are lots of places he could’ve been.

    Re: Destory’s Extra Scene
    The author of this blog takes a big hit to their credibility when they start making outrageous jokes. They actually make more jokes then making valid points for this entry. I can argue their point by saying that Shepard was part synthetic and the blast should’ve destroyed him too as the Catalyst warns – and I can counter that too as I have in my own writings. Ethan Powers doesn’t make that point, so let me counter his two tiny details. First is that Shepard is already shielded by the Catalyst. What we assume to be rubble from the Citadel easily could’ve protected them. Second is why London recovery didn’t find the body. We don’t know how long the epilogue covers. Recovering from 9/11 took our generation an extremely long time. That was one building. In ME2 we hear that recovery from the attack on the Citadel has and will take more than 2 years. Where Shepard landed – If they even landed on Earth – is also not known. As to why the scene was not deleted from the Extended Cut is because: They wanted an ending where Shepard lives. And that BioWare also did not want to contradict the Indoctrination Theory’s reason why it is there. The scene serves both those endings a specific purpose.

    Re: The Themes of ME3 And ME1
    This point warrants an essay of its own. Unfortunately for Ethan Powers, his points are based on subjective opinions and not on facts. We can easily look at the themes of ME3 being an extension of those from ME1 and are not contradictory. Being an extension, we are looking at the bigger picture. ME1 is smaller, it’s focus is more limited; things can be more black & white. ME3 and ME2 both get into the more grey areas of the problems with conflict and of resolutions. One cannot simply generalize Reapers as bad. There is a purpose to them. The opinions of them are up to gamer. Personally, I see the Reapers as being an out of control V.I. solution similar to some of the more infamous V.I.s in ME lore (the N7 missions in ME2, Luna Base, Overlord). When the Catalyst absorbed its creators, it no longer had to answer to anyone. In that time it was able to grow and learn as A.I.s are feared to do. But the Reapers’s past is left vague on purpose and my belief can justifiably be different from someone else’s.
    Ethan does make a glaring oversight when he mentions Sovereign. First was Sovereign was simply trying to activate the relay station that the Citadel is so the Reapers in Dark Space can come back to the galaxy faster than it took them. Second, the Reapers are in hibernation and waiting to be awaken, something that Harbinger doesn’t do until the end of ME2 with the Collector’s Base destruction. As the Catalyst does not appear until after the Reapers have taken control of the Citadel it is highly likely that like the Citadel being a relay station, the Catalyst itself is in a hibernation of its own and is not awakened until the Reapers have gained back control of the station – something that does not happen in ME1.

    I wish Ethan had written his blog more professionally, but I also wish he brought more to the table. His five points have already been brought up across the internet. So much so, I already have counterpoints to everything he said. This blog has raised nothing new and lacks even unique insight in any of the aforementioned points. If you want to believe these are plotholes, you are welcome to. Ignorance is a right of all organic beings and BioWare is more than happy to let speculation continue – that is what they wanted from the beginning. The Extended Cut was them stepping in to answer questions they did not intend. Things like Anderson were intentional from the beginning, whereas things like Hackett knowing Shepard made it up to the Citadel was not.
    Like BioWare, I am happy to see all the discussions arising from ME3 months after the game’s release when so many other games have run out of steam and are no longer being discussed. BioWare has created a wonderful universe and brought together so many people to share, discuss, and debate topics that start with the game, but sometimes move on past them.

    For the American readers, Happy Independence Day! For the rest of the world, thank you for being a part of the Mass Effect universe.

    • Moschops

      The Catalyst is not a V.I.

    • Ethan Powers

      Regardless of whether you’re a BioWare employee or just some troll trying to get likes on their Facebook page, none of your counterpoints directly answer the community’s qualms.

      1. You’re circling the main argument for this point: Why was Shepard wearing a mask at the end of ME1 in very similar circumstances and not at the end of ME3?

      2. You’re right. The Normandy is not close or the biggest threat. It’s just the largest and most renowned ship on the battlefield and it happens to be just yards away from the Conduit, while the crew aboard it are patiently talking to the single biggest threat the organics face: Shepard. If you still think that doesn’t serve as grounds for being a major target, I don’t know what to tell you. Also, you say, “Harbinger has one laser.” You’re dead wrong. Watch a video of Shepard’s run to the Conduit if you must. He has multiple lasers which he uses to target multiple areas.

      3. Did you even read my issue with this particular situation? I stated that I could believe Shepard and Anderson ended up in the same chasm when considering that the structure was changing, I didn’t discount that. My concern is with Anderson coming up the beam just seconds after Shepard. Shepard didn’t realize he was behind him? Anderson didn’t call out to him so the two could go up the mysterious and creepy beam together? You completely missed the point of the argument here.

      4. I truly don’t even need to validate your argument with a response here. What you’re considering is absolutely absurd, and you yourself know that not a single person with even a miniscule amount of wit or common sense about them would believe that any person, even if it were Jesus of Nazareth, could survive a colossal blast, subsequently fall down from space, land on Earth, and survive.
      “What we assume to be rubble from the Citadel easily could’ve protected them. Second is why London recovery didn’t find the body. We don’t know how long the epilogue covers. Recovering from 9/11 took our generation an extremely long time.”
      So you’re proposing that…”rubble”, protected a man from a fall from Space. Wow. Please run and tell NASA your brilliant findings. Of course, you have proof that “rubble” has protected men as they fell from Space, or even as they jumped off of a relatively high building, right? Also, what a well-thought out and intelligent response you propose by randomly throwing in “9/11” to try and support a ludicrous answer. I’m not sure how recovering from the September 11th terrorist attacks has anything to do with nobody noticing that the most famous man in the galaxy is in fact not dead, but breathing, has anything to do with what you or I were talking about, but then again we’re all aware by now that when someone does not have sound facts or validity to back up a ridiculous conspiracy theory, the phrase “9/11” is never far behind. Jump to the 1:08 mark in the video below to see yourself somewhere in the audience.

      5. “One cannot simply generalize Reapers as bad.”
      Right you are again. The Reapers don’t seem malicious or evil in any way, shape, or form.

      “The Reapers are in hibernation and waiting to be awaken, something that Harbinger doesn’t do until the end of ME2 with the Collector’s Base destruction. As the Catalyst does not appear until after the Reapers have taken control of the Citadel it is highly likely that like the Citadel being a relay station, the Catalyst itself is in a hibernation of its own and is not awakened until the Reapers have gained back control of the station – something that does not happen in ME1.”
      Your response here, which is basically one long and confusing run-on sentence, has such poor diction that I can barely comprehend what you’re blabbing about, though I’m sure it once again has nothing to do with the original argument I made in the article. As a result, I’ll simply ask you one question. We can assume the Catalyst is a pretty important character, correct? If it was planned from the very beginning, why wouldn’t BioWare at least imply that every Reaper was controlled by a single, collective conscious, rather than leading us to believe that they were a race of sentient beings who all thought for themselves independently of one another? Actually, don’t answer that. I can tell you. It’s because BioWare was up to their nose in a horrid third act during crunch time for ME3 development. The solution? A classic example of dues ex machina.

      Not a single one of the counter-arguments you present does well to resolve ANY of the above issues. You’re attempting to justify terrible writing, while managing to do some of your own, and are failing miserably. Go ahead and Google “community response to Mass Effect 3 ending” and see if I’m in the minority of people who were upset with an atrocious ending to an otherwise legendary trilogy. There are few who are bigger Mass Effect fans than I. I have dumped more hours into these three games than I care to admit to publicly. I’m just one fan, one gamer, who wished he could have seen and experienced a fitting, appropriately epic (and logical) ending to one of gaming’s finest franchises. What we got instead was an irrational, complicated, and unsatisfactory mess. If it wasn’t, BioWare wouldn’t have spent the time developing an “Extended Cut.” That I can assure you of.

      Lastly, and I apologize to all who now have to scroll through these comments, don’t ever directly attack the professionalism or integrity of this site again. We are all for critical discourse here, and eagerly await readers to analyze articles with which they are free to love or despise. You’re free to tell me how much you think this article sucks, or perhaps how much you think I suck, but do not make utterly false and fabricated claims that this site does not care about professionalism or integrity. Believe me when I say those are two characteristics that we feverishly pursue and strive to maintain. Your last paragraph neither adds constructive criticism nor analytical dialogue. It’s what we like to call trolling. And it’s grounds for being banned from the forums. Happy Birthday America! =D

    • Moschops

      1. For the same reason he wasn’t wearing a mask under similar circumstances at the end of ME2. If this is such a terrible plot hole, why did you even buy ME 3? And why wouldn’t the catalyst be able to generate a ME field to protect the area again?

      2. You’re right. Now why didn’t the destroyer at the beginning of the game not target the Normandy instead of a couple of shuttles with civilians instead of the Normandy?

      Ohhh yeah….*stealth ship*. Duh.

      3. You have no point. You could just as easily ask why not as much as why.

      4. Once again, you don’t have a point. It’s not like Shepard didn’t teleport *to* the citadel or anything.

      It is also strange that you don’t seem to care about Shepards body surviving atmospheric reentry in the second game.

      5. “As a result, I’ll simply ask you one question. We can assume the Catalyst is a pretty important character, correct? If it was planned from the very beginning, why wouldn’t BioWare at least imply that every Reaper was controlled by a single, collective conscious, rather than leading us to believe that they were a race of sentient beings who all thought for themselves independently of one another?”

      They did. It’s mentioned in ME 1 and also by the Reaper on Rannoch and Vendetta on Thessia (“Its presence is inferred rather than observed” “The Reapers are not the masters of the cycle.”). The presence of a “presence” is mentioned by Ashley in the first game and James in the third. The unknown inpenetrable nature of the inner core of the citadel is one of the first codex entries you receive in ME1.

      “I have dumped more hours into these three games than I care to admit to publicly.”

      Which doesn’t validate your incorrect dedcutions of what the Catalyst is. It is not a AI or VI. Bioware has already confirmed what it is, and your “argument” is based on an incorrect assumption.

      This is not a plot hole. This is a lack of reading and reasoning skills on your part and refusing to accept the fact that you don’t know the game universe very well.

      “Lastly, and I apologize to all who now have to scroll through these comments, don’t ever directly attack the professionalism or integrity of this site again.”

      The last refuge of a weak argument. You’ve had no problems attacking the professionalism and integrity of Bioware (directly in your flawed and subjective opinion piece) and people who disagree with you. Heaven forbid anyone else say the same thing to you. Just a bit of advice: if you’re going to attack people’s professionalism and integrity, you should be willing the accept that same kind of criticism in return. That’s how an adult handles things instead of threatening to silence people or ‘take your ball and go home’.

      You brought up the same old, tired, flawed, and debunked arguments posted on dozens of forums and websites and passed it off as your own thinking in an attempt to generate page views, and threaten to ban people who call you out on it. Yup, the paragons of professionalism you are.

    • Ethan Powers

      1. “For the same reason he wasn’t wearing a mask under similar circumstances at the end of ME2.”
      So poor, inconsistent writing. Gotcha.

      2. You accuse me of “not knowing the ME universe,” yet you appear to be very uniformed yourself. If you were informed, you’d know that the Normandy’s stealth system does not protect against visual scans. In other words, a towering Reaper would very easily be able to see it hovering just above ground mere yards away.

      3. “You could just as easily ask why not as much as why.”
      Sound argument. I also generally tend to take that approach when I don’t have valid reasoning.

      4. Teleported to the Citadel? He teleported UP to the Citadel. Are you suggesting he was somehow teleported back to Earth safely and soundly after a blast that would have very obviously killed anyone in the vicinity?

      5. You seem to be making broad generalizations and hopelessly attempting to connect dots that aren’t there to begin with. Sovereign explicitly states, “You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it.” Why would he choose the phrase “we” instead of a more enigmatic choice of wording? There’s also this little gem that highlights the inconsistency:
      “We are each a nation. Independent . Free of all weakness.”
      That the Thessia VI states the Reapers answer to a higher power is completely contradictory to the game’s lore. You claim to have such thorough knowledge of the Mass Effect universe, yet you cannot seem to grasp, like the rest of the community has, that the introduction of the Catalyst avatar utterly disposes of narrative that was built upon by two and a half games.

      “You’ve had no problems attacking the professionalism and integrity of Bioware”
      You clearly have no knowledge or comprehension whatsoever for why journalism as a trade exists. Is BioWare an objective news site? No, they are a game developer that opens themselves to criticism by game outlets and all who spend good money on their products, particularly when they do a poor job.

      “You brought up the same old, tired, flawed, and debunked arguments posted on dozens of forums and websites and passed it off as your own thinking in an attempt to generate page views.”
      There’s a reason as to why I continuously state that the above issues are qualms of the COMMUNITY, not unique or exclusive in any way to one writer. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and Google “Mass Effect 3 ending” and see if I’m in the minority. Try not to get too upset though, you’re bound to try and logically wrap your head around ME3’s ending and why it was so poorly received. Again, we are all for educated and open discourse here. Being critical of an article is one thing. Attacking the site’s integrity on no valid grounds whatsoever is something else entirely. That “threat” you speak of is a part of our forum policy. If ignorance or stupidity were also, I could have very easily banned you for your completely irrational arguments. Yet, they are not, but you can be certain that the same “threat” is posed to you also. You’re free to engage in cultured debate. Start trolling with idiotic claims, and you’re gone.

    • Moschops

      Yes, the sort of which has been present since the very first game. If that sort of stuff bothers you, I ask again, why would you even bother buying ME 3 in the first place? At the end of ME1 the team survives hard vaccuum decompression when the chunks o’ Sovereign crash into the citadel tower, and that didn’t outrage you? Jack strutting around decompressed areas wearing nothing but a leather strap? Joker doing the same at the beginning of ME2? Joker abandoning Shep and getting the Normandy to Arcturus from Ilos in the time it took to use the conduit? You didn’t actually SEE Joker get the order to do so, right? Therefore it’s a terrible plot hole!

      Shep’s body survives atmospeheric reentry, and then is brought back to life? Nobody realizes the Collectors are Protheans? Garrus takes a rocket to the side of the face and lives? Thresher maws, which could destroy your rover in one hit in ME1, suddenly develop the trait of sitting at standoff range and letting you hammer them with hand cannons and biotics? Shephard and his teammates are all on the Collector base, and yet the Normandy is somehow completely repaired in, at most, a few hours. Shep and team survive a fall of an unknown distance (enough to slay any collectors who are pushed over) and then arise from unconsciousness with all teammates alive and well enough to run.

      A Geth Destroyer shoots an unarmed shuttle while the Normandy hovers nearby, and the Normandy manages to achieve an escape vector from Earth while hundreds of Reapers are in orbit and on the planet…I suppose none of those guys just looked out a window. Same with the fleet around Ilos in ME1. Geth don’t use windows? Then what am I looking through on the Geth station in ME2? Citadel scanners can detect unregistered gene mods from skin flakes…yet I can walk right through with Legion.

      No worries in any of that? No questions,eh? No outrage?

      My main point is simply this. If these sort of plot holes and inconsistencies ruin your enjoyment of a game, then WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU BE PLAYING ME2 and ME3? Had the ME story been an airtight hard Sci-Fi narrative from ME1 on, then there would be some merit to using this to justify your rage. In light of the fact that it is a space opera with some pretty glaring inconsistencies throughout, the arguments are trite.

      And NO, you do not speak for a majority of ME players, and no google search proves so. The fact of the matter is the OVERWHELMING majority of people who have played or are playing ME finshed it, enjoyed it, and HAVE MOVED ON. The inane prattling of xenophillic otaku who have nothing better to do but whine about the ending does not represent a majority of the customer base or even a sizable minority of the gaming market.

      You didn’t get dancing Ewoks and your happy wedding to your love interest with a fade to black as the other members of your team talk about how awesome you are. Boo Hoo.

      >>>>“You’ve had no problems attacking the professionalism and integrity of Bioware”
      >>>>You clearly have no knowledge or comprehension whatsoever for why journalism as a trade exists.

      I’m close friends with several *actual* journalists…you know, people who have risked their lives doing their jobs and spent years pursuing ACTUAL NEWS (not just links to or republishing of press releases). What you do does not qualify. You are an amateur blogger and you have published trollery, yet you act indigant when called on that fact. Take your patronizing attitude elsewhere, potzer.

      >>>Is BioWare an objective news site? No, they are a game developer that opens themselves to criticism by game outlets and all who spend good money on their products, particularly when they do a poor job.

      My clicks pay for your product. Now you owe me the exact content I desire! I demand a change to the article!

      I was brought here for the first time by a news aggregator link to this article, and would suggest not allowing your site to be indexed by Google News if you want to enforce a ban on criticism of your ability and integrity. So sure…go ahead and threaten to ban me, as if being banned from this site would somehow make my life worse. Such are the actions of little men when given a little bit of power.

    • Cadence

      Despite what you believe, there’s no such thing as video game journalism. Some writers might try to pretend that they are “professional journalists” who write for big sites like IGN, Gamespot, etc. and they put on a good show. Working inside the industry I can tell you right now; even the biggest video game websites are only allowed to publish what we tell them to. It’s all designed to make money, if it goes against our views or the particular way that we are trying to market a game we will request that an article is changed or pulled. If that doesn’t work we will pull support from that particular site. The PR agencies that we work with fabricate the “news” that you read every day.

      Every preview, review, and news article that you’ve ever read has been utterly influenced in some way or another by the public relations team that is working on that game. Whether that be from free products to the reviewer/previewer, trips and accommodations, or just outright lies as favors, you can rest assured that this is the case.

      If you don’t believe this, its because its working.

    • Ethan Powers

      Your first two paragraphs point out a number of issues that perhaps you or others have with the writing. Yet, they are not my issues, and they are not the glaring issues that the community has expressed outrage over. I can suspend disbelief, but only so much, and I believe others would tell you the same thing. Also, I would argue that one could condone such obvious inconsistencies at other points throughout the trilogy. But at the end of Mass Effect 3? The game that was supposed to emotionally end such a legendary series? I think these issues are highlighted more so than normal when you take into consideration the context of when they occur.

      Same goes for your argument in your third paragraph. You still aren’t addressing why one of the trilogy’s primary villains failed to take out the Reapers’ most sought after enemy despite being given an opportune moment. You’re simply naming other points in the game’s narrative that should irk me, yet don’t. I’m quite certain I made it clear that such issues did not in any way ruin my experience with the first two games. However, an ending which completely disregarded two and a half games worth of logic and narrative definitely put a damper on it when you’re speaking about the Mass Effect series as a coherent chronicle.

      “And NO, you do not speak for a majority of ME players, and no google search proves so. The fact of the matter is the OVERWHELMING majority of people who have played or are playing ME finshed it, enjoyed it, and HAVE MOVED ON”
      Wow, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t know how to use Google. My condolences. Any idiot with a computer could see that the majority of gamers who have played through the ending are not content with it. To demonstrate that fact, I’m going to point you to four links (backing your points up with evidence is tough for you to comprehend, I know):

      Assuming you are friends with *actual* journalists (they may want to clue you in on how to spell *indignant, among other grade school words you spell incorrectly) and are not once again making up some ludicrous claim based on no valid grounds, I can tell you that I also know *journalists* within the industry who were among the majority of players pissed about ME3’s ending, yet couldn’t publish their true reactions due to political reasons. Something else you seem to know very little about.

      I’m also not sure how Google News bringing you here has anything to do with our forum policy. I believe you 100% when you say that not coming to this site would not affect you in the slightest. As such, feel free to roam the internet looking for another. I’m pretty sure there are a few more out there, perhaps even some that agree with the ending of ME3. Thanks for stopping by.

      In reply to Cadence – You’re absolutely right. Gaming news outlets have become more like PR firms in past years, yet that’s just the nature of how news in the industry is manufactured and passed around. Very little news is “exclusive”, and unless you’re among the likes of Game Informer or Kotaku, you won’t be getting much news that is unique to your site. You’re also spot on when suggesting that news, reviews, etc., are all heavily influenced by the developers and publishers who provide their products to news outlets. It’s been that way for some time and surely won’t change anytime soon. However, as a smaller site, we are not bound by the same limitations that a bigger site with 100x the traffic might find itself under. Sites with political ties and influences are less likely to report how they really feel about a particular issue within the industry. We however, are not in that same predicament. At least not to the extent of the biggest sites. As a result, we have more freedom to express our true opinions, as you’ll find with all opinion pieces on this site. This article for example, is one of them.

  • Grayson

    Well I have to applaud you on this article because I completely agree. But I have to point out one thing: that Shepard could breathe in space because in real life mass effect generators create their own pocket of spacetime which oxygen can exist in. Even in space.

  • Wesley Copeland

    Freekin’ great read man. I laughed, I cried, I contemplated snapping my disk. Everything I want from an article. ^_^

  • ForThessia

    1: This is just ludicrous. In ME1 Shepard was running along the outside of the council tower and other areas, in ME3 she is being taken to the home of the central guiding intelligence of the entire reaper ‘species’. Of course it is completely ridiculous to suggest it may have mass effect fields and not actually be open to space. It’s not like the Reapers have that kind of technology or anything. Talk about grasping at straws.

    2: Wow, the tens-hundreds of millions of years old Reaper doesn’t pause to vaporise a handful of insignificant organics who are in the process of fleeing? It’s almost like they might be arrogantly dimissive of organics chances to succeed after harvesting thousands upon thousands of advanced civilizations.

    3: Assuming everything we see is instantaneous, assuming that we saw everything that was going on when Shepard was almost unconscious form his injuries and is it so unreasonable that Hackett would assume it was Shepard who made it to the Citadek? It being her mission afterall. Hell they may have been picking up on her helmet transponder/communicator thing by then too.

    4: The Citadel has emergency mass effect generators and variosu other gubbins to stop it disintegrating entirely. Also at least in my lst Destroy playthrough teh citadel explode, it and the mass relay system were heavily damaged byt NOT destroyed. So no, it is not insulting to think that one of the most advanced pieces of engineering the galaxy has ever seen would not necessarily be vaporised, nor is it certain the thing would re-enter the atmosphere as opposed to go into orbit.

    5: Again, you need to actually pay attention. The last remaining Prothean scientists on Ilos used to conduit to travel to the Citadel and change things so that the Reapers wouldn’t automatically take it over. It is assumed this is restricted to the Keepers, it is not inconceivably that it was more involved than that or that the Catalyst is restricted to using the Keepers to effect physical/programming changes on the Citadel. It is fundamentally just a shackled AI afterall, EDI needed Joker to physically engage with her ‘body, so too the Catalyst required the Keepers.

    Nope, still just grasping at straws to try and keep the ill justified nerd rage going as far as I’m concerned.

    • Moschops

      The Catalyst in not a V.I. or an A.I.

  • HamJamIAm

    Dear BioWare

    Why did you not simply swallow your pride and run with what was SO BLATANTLY OBVIOUS!?!?!? INDOCTRINATION??? There is NO THEORY to it. You laid out all the points CLEARLY for ALL to see in the ME, ME2, and the first 2/3 of ME3. I groan

    the·o·ry  [thee-uh-ree, theer-ee]
    noun, plural the·o·ries.
    1. Theory, hypothesis are used in non-technical contexts to mean an untested idea or opinion. A theory in technical use is a more or less verified or established explanation accounting for known facts or phenomena: the theory of relativity. A hypothesis is a conjecture put forth as a possible explanation of phenomena or relations, which serves as a basis of argument or experimentation to reach the truth: This idea is only a hypothesis.

  • Chichi

    Do reapers need oxygen anyway?

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