Looking Closely At Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut

By Jenni . July 8, 2012 . 4:30pm

Remember what happened when you beat Mass Effect 3 months ago? Good. Now forget most of it. BioWare has just let out the free Extended Cut DLC which, at a massive 1.8GB for PS3 owners, expands upon what we knew to help fill up those gaping plotholes. Spoilers abound ahead, so turn back if you haven’t finished either the regular ending or Extended Cut endings.


(Also, forgive me for the use of female pronouns. I only play as FemShep so that’s how I tend to think of Commander Shepard.)


The changes start when Commander Shepard makes her run for the beam that will take her and her squad up to the Citadel. Previously, Harbinger would fly in, shoot a beam and the squadmates with Shepard disappear, only to magically reappear on the Normandy. Now, BioWare’s inserted a scene where one of the squadmates is injured by Harbinger’s attack. Shepard calls in the Normandy to pick the squadmates up.


I’m not sure if my experience was unique, but this segment was ridiculously buggy and glitchy. I took Garrus and Tali with me on this final mission, and Tali kept disappearing. The game would slow to a crawl or nearly freeze up throughout this segment. As a result, the meaningful goodbye between Garrus and Shepard, in which she told him she loves him and vice versa, was rendered totally unromantic and dramatic.


Things are much clearer once Shepard is on the Citadel as well. Anderson clearly says that he came up after Shepard, explaining why we didn’t see him running. Once Shepard reaches the platform area, it’s also made very clear that the black squiggles and clouds that appear on the edges of the screen are the Illusive Man’s influence. It’s his new Reaper-tech exerting a controlling influence over both Anderson and Shepard.


A new cutscene then appears after Shepard either talks the Illusive Man to death or shoots him. Admiral Hackett is on his ship and a datapad is passed to him. He then learns Shepard made it to the Citadel, which explains why he knew to hail her.


Unfortunately, you still encounter the ridiculous Starchild after Shepard passes out trying to reach the console to activate the Catalyst. The Starchild then goes into the diatribe about how the race that made the Synthetic Reapers did so to prevent chaos and prevent synthetics from eventually wiping out organic life. (You can’t point to EDI or the Geth as examples of synthetic/organic harmony). Starchild then says having the Catalyst added to the Citadel and offers each option for Shepard to choose. This time, an explanatory dialogue option is available as the Starchild lectures about the various choices, so Shepard can see what would happen, a vague idea why and how it would influence the galaxy.


The biggest change is the Refuse ending, which has Shepard rejecting all of the Starchild’s options. It’s really quite interesting. You can trigger it through dialogue choices or by just turning around and shooting at the Starchild.


Either way, it makes the Starchild break character. With Harbinger’s voice, he then says, "So be it." This has cemented the idea in my mind that Harbinger is secretly tsundere for Commander Shepard and offered the other options in the hopes Shepard would choose Control or Synthesis so Harbinger and Shepard could be together forever.


At that point the Reapers win. All the civilizations we know and love are destroyed. The epilogue shows Liara’s beacon on one of the developing planets, providing information about the Reapers, Commander Shepard and the cycle.


The absolute best part happens after the credits for Reject. Instead of Buzz Aldrin telling the kid about Shepard and such, we see a random female alien basically saying the same thing, indicating that Commander Shepard’s fight and Liara’s beacon did succeed and the cycle was successfully broken by the next generation.


If you stick with one of the original three choices, you then get treated to some new cinematics. It turns out Hackett ordered all ships to withdraw to a rendevous point, and Joker is coerced by one of the squadmates to fall back. The Catalyst fires. In Control, Reapers and their minions pull back and leave. In Synthesis, everyone pretty much has a kumbaya moment and stops fighting. In Destroy, all the Reapers collapse and the reaper minions pretty much disintegrate.


After that, it’s time for a slide show with some animated segments mixed in to show what happened with some of the Mass Effect 2 squadmates that survived. For example, Jacob seems to be some kind of official on the Citadel and, if you saved Keiji’s grey box and chose the Synthesis ending, Kasumi will be bonding with a Keiji AI. You’ll also see the crew of the Normandy in front of the memorial wall, with Shepard’s name being added to it in the Control and Synthesis endings and not being added in the Destroy ending. You also see civilizations rebuilding, the Citadel permanently above Earth and, most importantly, baby Krogan.


Each ending also has a new voice over to go with it. Should you choose Synthesis or Destroy, Admiral Hackett talks about the fate of the galaxy. If you go with Control, you get to hear Reaper!Shepard, which is one of the creepiest things I have ever heard. It sounds as though having her consciousness uploaded negated her sense of self and that her new decisions are guided more by the memories of her time as Commander Shepard.


Overall, I think the new ending was handled very well and wonder why BioWare couldn’t have just delayed the game to have this originally included. Plotholes were plugged for the most part. I also liked how the Starchild’s "true" identity was revealed via the Reject ending.


Personally, I consider Destroy or Reject my canon endings. Both fit in really well with my Shepards’ characters and wrap up the saga well. In one, people fighting get exactly what they wanted. People wanted the Reapers destroyed and they are. As a bonus, Shepard even survives if you were prepared enough. If you Reject the Starchild’s options to find a way to win without letting the Reapers get their tentacles in things, then your efforts ensure the people of the next cycle defeat the Reapers.


This is also due to issues with the other two options. Control concerns me, as I worry that ReaperShepard might lose touch or eventually restart the cycle depending on the course of the universe and its people. The voice over already shows that she’s become part of a larger consciousness and seems to speak about her old life as something separate from her new immortal existance as a Reaper. Things may stay good for now, but what happens hundreds or thousands of years later when ReaperShepard starts seeing what choices people make after the Reaper war is a distant memory? A renegade Shepard especially could decide that the cycle needs to start again, because she’s won’t let them be idiots after the sacrifices she and the people in her time made.


Then there’s Synthesis. Synthesis is a good idea, but I also question the morality of it as it forces a whole new lifestyle on everyone. During all the fighting, people never once say they want to merge with the Reapers. They want them gone so they can move forward with their lives. In theory, Synthesis sounds nice, but it also seems like too perfect an answer, if that’s possible. It just seemed odd to see everyone so accepting of Reaper and Reaper minion help so quickly after everything the Reapers had done. Maybe it’s just me, but it reminds me a bit of indoctrination, as Shepard is making the biggest decision ever for every single being in the galaxy.


Personally, I’d say I’m satisfied. I still think the Starchild is the biggest and most ridiculous "out of right field" deus ex machina device used in a video game ending and wish I could have seen some rachni troops in action, but overall I think BioWare did a good job of making the ending make a lot more sense. What do you think?

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  • I think someone I knew said it best.

    a polished turd is still a turd.

    for me, I stopped caring about ME, and no matter how many insulting “4th choice” endings they add in, they can’t hurt me any more, because any amount of attachment to the series died with the ending.

    • rurifan

      You had months to vent, please give the negativity a rest already.

      • Raharu95

        Things like this don’t just die on people’s mind. As much as you think the ending had no meaning to the overall experience, it Still is a big deal to people. Not only that but Bioware basically lied to people and were only saved from being charged with false advertisement because of technicality. Things like this Don’t die down after a fews months.

      • Testsubject909

        Look to Star Trek and Star Wars.

        They’ve had years. It’s not going. What makes you think this would go away in a matter of months?

    • Stuff like this, I can’t stand. I can never let this series be ruined in my eyes just because I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. It’s sad really, how an ending makes a spectacular series hated by fans. 

      Honestly, I think what you’re saying is completely dumb, stupid and such. 
      But, I respect your opinion. So I can’t be angry.

      • Rentekabond

        Considering how much time is invested in things like this, I can completely see where he’s coming from. In a game that’s all about getting everything just right and supposedly telling your own story only to have it end in a “pick a color” fashion is very deterring.

        I know I personally had been on the fence on whether or not to give the series a try again when 3 was coming out, but after hearing all the bad things and remembering the various reasons I’d already given up on the series beforehand, it completely ruined the experience for me because I knew that none of the choices I made or would make mattered.

        It’s all a matter of investment and payoff.If you promise me a kobe beef after charging me $60 and fill me up with chips while it’s cooking, I’m gonna be pretty mad when you come out with a hot dog.

        •  blah blah blah whine more excuses five year old.

          • aoihana

            You’ve made your point, anything further doesn’t really help your case.

            Refusing to accept @facebook-100000301072427:disqus ‘s legitimate opinion while calling him a five-year-old over it is utterly ironic. We may not agree with it, but it’s his own opinion, and the large consensus, it seems.

            So long as an opinion is voiced maturely and respectfully, the mature thing would be to respect it.

            Also, @yahoo-HAEBCODVH3BGFIHE47BKNDXD2I:disqus ‘s comment above may have been a bit immature, but instead of trying to challenge it in a mature, respectful manner, you plummet even lower. 

            Stop telling people to grow up when you’ve yet to do so yourself.

          • Testsubject909

            Why yes, you are making yourself look very mature and definitely not like a mocking five year old child. Most indeedlydoo.

            But hey, you want to try to deny an argument or provide a rebuttal in the form of… I’m not too sure how to describe it.

            Your choice.

            That said, I just wanted to point that out. I’ve long been tired of getting involved in the core conflict here anyways since there’s always a bunch of people trying to belittle the situation.

            PS. Don’t expect a reply. This is my only go through this thread, just wanted to see what it was and what some of the comments were. As I said, I’m currently quite tired of getting involved with this shenanigan.

  • LustEnvy

    I’m fully satisfied with the extended cut endings. They fixed all the questions I had with the original endings, and gave me enough to feel that the saga was complete. Bioware got it right this time.

  • Samurai_Heart

    Great insight, it’s pretty much how I felt and yeah synthesis ending seemed to convenient. Sorry, Edi and the Geths but star child pissed me off so much throughout the game I had to choose destroy XD.

  • rurifan

    Personally, I was hoping for a post-game real ending DLC.  Want more ME3 story to play, not the worthless multiplayer junk.

  • RaineNythra

    Better then what it was but still fundamentally flawed. They really should have made the ending a result of the choices one makes over the course of the games rather than this whole ‘ I’m the Starchild, pick a color’ nonsense.

  • Jonathan Keycross

    The changes made to the existing endings make it hard to believe these were the endings they truly intended to make in the first place.

    Still, the Extended Cut sums up everything that needed to be corrected in the original endings. So I think this was the best move Bioware could make.

    • Tim Wilcox

      yeah okay but harbinger just ignores the normandy while it picks up your squadmates? and anderson comes up after you but somehow makes it into the control room before you even though there is only one path up there? somebody said it earlier: the ending is cheesy, EC or no.

      • Jonathan Keycross

        You forgot to mention how the mass relays were clearly destroyed in the original ending and in the EC they are only partially damaged.

        I agree on the “Harbinger was eating popcorn while seeing the dramatic scene of Sheppard saying good bye to his companions”. It doesn´t make that much sense but at least it does answer the question of why your squadmates on one scene were on earth with Sheppard and in the next they´re in space.

        Anderson does have a conversation with sheppard that points out they were teleported in different places, at least giving some sense the whole “but I was here first!” issue.

        And yes, the endings are too optimistic. But I think that goes more to a thing of personal taste rather than narrative.

  • RandyMarks

    “Should you choose Synthesis or Destroy, Admiral Hackett talks about the fate of the galaxy.”
    ……Doesn’t EDI speak on the Synthesis ending?

  • No matter how you slice it I still had a conversation with space Jesus and saved the universe using a magic microwave beam that popped all the reaper popcorn at once. In a series that thrives on story, having something just magically zap the entire universe and deliver whatever fate you choose for your enemies feels so damn cheap and thoughtless.

    • Luna Kazemaru

       uhh Halo?

    • PowerSerg

      Thats so true. A series that is 100% about choice pulls a so choices and effort don’t matter why don’t you just talk to the big guy upstairs he came up with some good ideas. 

  • mirumu

    I’ve been hearing very mixed things about these new endings so I guess I should just take the time replay it myself when I get a chance. I like this sound of it as is described here.

    With the original endings I viewed control and synthesis as loosing the game since they represented everything Shepherd had fought against with Saren and the illusive man. If the last bit on the citadel wasn’t indoctrination, it was at the very least a hard sell to come around to the Reaper’s way of thinking. I chose destroy, and other than the mismash of plot holes and starchild gibberish was relatively happy that I’d won even if the game didn’t make it clear.

    Whether or not the new reject option is a good ending, I do think it should have been there all along. In the original endings it seemed very strange to be taking the word of someone like the starchild who by all rights was just Harbinger in a less threatening guise. Knowing they’ve actually confirmed that to be the case pleases me.

    • Raharu95

      The reject option is not a good ending. Is it pretty much Bioware telling you “You Lose for not following in our plan!” in that ending everyone dies, and you are not even shown what happened.

      • PowerSerg

        Lol I 100% agree with you. Don’t like our original endings well screw you and go die. 

  • scratchbach

    I’m glad they released the EC. As somebody who hated the original endings, I ultimately still think the endings were not exactly fitting for this series, but I can accept them now that pretty much all the plot holes are gone, and it’s not left completely ambiguous.

    My paragon Shepard chose control, and I’m don’t regret that choice one bit.

  • (Also, forgive me for the use of female pronouns. I only play as FemShep so that’s how I tend to think of Commander Shepard.)Lol ok, just know FemShep isn’t canon compared to the original Commander Shep.

    • LustEnvy

      Lies. Femshep is the ONLY femshep. Know your place. Emotionless Broshep has no place in this universe.

  • Nemesis_Dawn

    All the footage I’ve seen of the Synthesis ending has EDI doing the voice over.

    Anyway, I did Destroy the first time and I did it again. I was satisfied with the end. I don’t like calling him The Starchild, though, now that he very clearly explains that he’s basically an A.I. for the Citadel. 

  • Guest

    Please someone just make a console Legend of Galactic Heroes game

    • mirumu

      That’s one of those ideas that just seems to make too much sense to actually come true. I’d love nothing more than to be proven wrong though.

  • disgaea36

    this is so stupid im highly disappointed. I still like the whole idea that the whole citadel part was all in his head while the whole time he was under the rubble and they some how managed to stay alive and win the war. these extended endings are retarded cause it sames bioware just cooked anything up to please the disappointed fans. waccckkkk im sticking to the original idea. 

  • Jirin

    I have no problem with the endings themselves, so much as the lack of consequence any decisions you make except for right at the end have on the ending.

    Why doesn’t the decision to destroy the collector base even get mentioned in 3?  Cerberus having the base or not should be a major plot point.  Whether or not Shephard took TIM’s side should be a major plot point.  Instead all the decisions you make over three games are reduced to a number.

    • Testsubject909

      And, correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t play this game, I just study it by talking to people who have and by reading through tons of commentary and watching videos, your war assets are all still pretty much completely useless in the end no?

      • Jirin

        They affect what ending options are available to you, and how badly Earth gets damaged depending on your choice.

  • Greg Thompson

    Mass effect 3 Distroy ending with the shepard living scene opens up for a Number 4

  • Daniel Williams

    Since the ending, extended or otherwise, almost completely negates the lore and plot of previous games Bioware can go and stuff themselves.

    I chose Reject just because I couldn’t take that slap in the face.

  • I’ll be completely honest, I kind of like Starkid now.

    I am almost thinking of CLU on tron legacy.

    An imperfect creation of an imperfect creator, trying to use it’s limited logic to impose perfection.

    You listen to the Catalyst talk and you realize that it has essentially
    become the very thing it is trying to prevent, but it doesn’t see it. It
    admits the Reapers are synthetic creations meant as a solution to
    prevent organic and synthetic life from destroying each other. However,
    we know this is wrong if you save both geth and quarians, that organic
    and synthetic life can co-exist. However, it cannot seem to fathom this
    outcome. Also the Reapers are not a means of preservation, again a topic
    I have talked about at great length, but instead are just synthetics
    wiping out organics. We can see these flaws and understand the Reapers
    are synthetics trying to justify why they are perpetuating the very
    thing they claim to be fighting to stop.

    I actually like that.
    It gives you more understanding as to why the Reapers have to be stopped
    since they are imperfect beings that cannot see they are the very thing
    they claim to oppose. 

    Which brings up another point, Bioware’s original intention was to create an ending for everyone.

    This is why I actually like the endings with the EC additions: there
    is no clear cut “good” ending or definitive good or bad morality here,
    evidence by the fact that we have a lot of people in every camp,
    Control, Destroy, or Synthesis, who see it as the best or most
    morally-correct ending. A lot of people may not be satisfied because
    they have to sacrifice something any way, or they won’t ever know all
    the answers, but I prefer to think about it an discuss it than have it
    spoon fed to me.

    This is the speculation they intended, this
    morality (Is the genocide of the Geth right? Can you really control the
    Reapers? Is synthesis really the way forward? Dozens of questions that
    you can discuss and speculate about with screaming…well most people
    anyways, some are just not happy no matter what)

    I saw someone say that you can have complete peace and
    stability, but loose all freedom and diversity. You can have freedom
    and diversity, but war and conflict along with it. Which is better?
    The Catalyst would argue for the former, while choosing “Destroy” would argue
    for the latter.

    Control is the odd ball, what dialogue Shepard says changes depending on whether you are a Paragon or Renegade character. Paragon Shepard is “I’ll be nice, but in control” Renegade Shepard is all “I am in control, and Peace will be enforced against anything or anyone who disrupts it”

    All in all, as much as I hated the endings before, now that things are clarified, people can actually talk (well most people can) without acting like the endings killed their family. And the discussion I’ve seen and participated in has been quite enjoyable.

    Thanks Bioware.

  • AOPrinciple

    The starchild was not harbinger. It’s a little surprising to me that you would think or suggest that this is the case. If you played 2 then you should know harbinger’s voice pretty well, and that;s clearly not him. It sounds instead like the reaper that was killed on Rannoch. I’m guessing that is the catch-all “reaper” voice. In any case, harbinger went completely AWOL in ME3

  • I think it only seems logical to continue with the Shepard story. Why you may ask? Throughout the game Shepard shows clear signs of trying to fight Indoctrination. All of them displayed in the game (in the Codex) and you can find the video on Youtube. It has been happening since ME1. Indoctrination full-fledged was shown in ME1, and in ME2 Harbinger constantly utters phrases specifically aimed at Shepard. ME3 starts showing the side effects, as will be stated in these Brackets.

    (The little child in the beginning, nobody helped him get in the ship,
    Hallucinations by Shepard, Ghostly presences, clear ramifications of
    indoctrination, also highlighted at the end when the Reapers fire and
    kill everyone you are with besides you and Anderson, where did the grass
    or shreds of grass come from when they were firing at you? Clear
    hallucination that was displayed in Shepards dream (The one about the
    Child). Also, why would Hackett be contacting you if he knew the whole
    fleet was killed?) The only way to fight the Indoctrination attempt is
    to destroy them. Then the ending, when you see that last breath, that is
    where the ME4 plot should begin again.

    As for plot, to start with everyone trying to find Shepard alive and
    while Earth is trying to (If Shepard’s gasp was on Earth) clean up and
    rebuild, some random person finds him and you must be nursed backed to
    health. Only until someone with authority finds you, or a friend.
    Particulary Liara, or anyone who was your love interest in ME3. From
    there, the goal would be to rebuild the Mass Relays in an attempt to
    re-establish some kind of Galactic Peace. I can talk all day about this. Matter of the fact is, the whole point from start to finish in all 3 games, was to end it with some way of defeating the Reapers, not harnessing your body with them or controlling them. While the game does give you “choices” as to which way you want to end it the most logical and following the base of the series is to once and for all destroy them. The chaos between the Synthetics and Organics is completely over exaggerated and if it were to reach an extent of Chaos, the very creators can control the synthetics anyways. The only reason the Geth attacked was because of the Reapers, so the Reapers being hypocritical once more (On top of the harvesting theory they have which is bogus). Please Bioware, don’t let me down. Shepard is the face of this franchise, the game reflects off his accomplishments and choices, it won’t be the same without him no matter what other people say. Make Shepard in ME4!

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