XBox 360 Reviews
Mass Effect 3 Review (Xbox 360)
By Ivone Alexandre Mar 26, 2012, 2:13 GMT
The final moments of Mass Effect 3 have regrettably become the centerpiece of the franchise, when instead we should be appreciative of the extraordinary adventure--one of science fiction\'s finest.
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
This letter comes late, far too late to make a difference that will change anyone's mind about what's happened to you, to the universe. It's over, Tali. It's all over and I'm not entirely sure how to move on.
In the shadow of everything that has fallen, everything we built, all I can think about is you. I don't usually drink, but I'd spent most of the night having a few beers and blasting through missions, wondering how long it would take, how much more I'd need to play in order to start wording some form of reaction. You see, I've grown up. I've grown busy, tired. Sometimes, playing these games, I feel too old. I don't believe they can make a difference to me, to anyone anymore. There are plenty of other things I should have done yesterday. Things that didn't include saving the universe...
Or failing to.
But while I promised to write something, I never expected it would be a letter to you. Never thought I'd feel the need to apologize for my actions, for everyone's actions. After hundreds of hours of missions and battles and saves, I was impatient. Hasty. After the turians and krogans had been settled, I was burnt out. I wanted answers. I did what everyone else has done. I played the game looking toward the end.
Your mask. It's the only thing I see now. Your mask against the valley that would have gazed into your living room window. I wanted to catch you. I dream of it constantly, of barely holding onto you. Your arms raised against the sky. And then I'm falling and I can't wake up.
After you died, I turned off my console. I sat quietly for a long time.
Your death defined me in the end. Not the image of a small boy, not my final moments. Not whether the reapers won or lost. It was you. Everyone who fought with me. I don't know if I ever told you about me and Thane. It doesn't matter now. I couldn't save anyone and that is my burden.
You see, for the first time since I began playing rpg's, began playing video games, a death, your death, a fictional character's death defined my actions, defined who I am and how I play. I played recklessly after you died; I let no one live that I could manage to kill or allow to be killed. I attacked at half military readiness. I wanted blood, Tali. I wanted to be punished. I wanted to die.
I'm sorry, Tali. I'm so, so sorry.
I'm starting a new file today, a different one, a hopeful one. I haven't found you yet, and that's ok for now. I'm taking my time, this time. I know where you are. I remember the glowing life at the edge of the map where they told me the quarians required aid. I'm nervous about how it will feel, to know what I've done. To see you again. In any other world, at any other time, the ability to find you again would be my salvation. That's what “Press Start” has always been. Salvation. But it isn't this time. It's daunting to hear you surviving in other stories. I can't watch them. I can't watch you. Not until we're together again, sitting on the edge of that cliff, dreaming a different dream of home.
I'll try to save you this time. And the next time. And the time after that. It won't change what I've done. Nothing will change the choice I made, and the experience of those consequences. It isn't just a game replayed anymore. It's choice. And I chose wrong. I've heard so many complaints about the meaninglessness of it all and it makes me ill. That anyone could attempt to render these choices empty is horrifying. I was responsible for you in life and death, and I'll never forget that.
Much of what I can say, of what anyone can say about Mass Effect 3 has already been said. This wasn't a new game we intended to interrogate about graphics or gameplay. Like long time friends, we know. We understand. Aside from a mild haircut, and some new jewelry, we, as friends, flow into the ever familiar. We are here for the story.
However, what's regrettably become the centerpiece of one of the most successful video game franchises in history isn't whether or not we've been on an extraordinary adventure. It's whether or not the final moments of Mass Effect 3 define Bioware's success or failure with this final installment. While I believe in and respect the gaming community as some of the most passionate, proactive, and responsible consumers when it comes to their consumption of media, I disagree with the ultimate judgment of the ending. What they've done with their displeasure is a sight to behold, and I still look forward to the forthcoming DLC, to see how Bioware handles this unprecedented tilt in the relationship between player and creator.
My stance on this is to simply share, as sincerely as possible, how this game created one of the most the important connections I've ever had to a character, across any medium, and affected me in ways that are now ingrained in me as a listener, player, and human being. If science fiction is the means by which we define our humanity, then Bioware succeeded, not only diegetically within the conflicts and relationships of the story, but non-diegetically, in our relationship to the game itself. What is it to feel truly guilty, to experience morality and judge ourselves by our actions in a fictitious world? When I walked away from the game, I wasn't gauging promises and follow-throughs-- I was truly considering the choices I'd made and how to remedy them. How to play again. How to move on. And that's truly a feat worth celebrating.