Cunningham Corner Mass Effect 3 – Extended Cut Review

If you were among the tens of thousands of fans disappointed by the “Mass Effect 3” ending, you’ll be happy to know the “Mass Effect 3” extended cut was released yesterday, June 26. As you can imagine this review will include some SPOILERS but I will try to minimalise, especially as the ending differences would be relevant to the way I played the game.

Bioware describes the Mass Effect 3 update as:

“This is a downloadable content pack that will expand upon the events at the end of Mass Effect 3. Through additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes, the Extended Cut will include deeper insight to Commander Shepard’s journey based on player choices during the war against the Reapers”

Sounds good to me and accordingly to the official Bioware blog for the game, don’t expect an actual change to the ending, with the over arcing storyline outcomes remaining largely intact, but a better emphasis on what each choice represents to the events of the game.

“The Extended Cut is an expansion of the original endings to Mass Effect 3. It does not fundamentally change the endings, but rather it expands on the meaning of the original endings, and reveals greater detail on the impact of player decisions The Extended Cut expands on the endings of Mass Effect 3 through additional scenes and epilogue sequences. It provides more of the answers and closure that players have been asking for. It gives a sense of what the future holds as a result of the decisions made throughout the series. And it shows greater detail in the successes or failures based on how players achieved their endings.” – Bioware blog.

Bioware have recommended to experience the new content, you will need to load a game save before *SPOILERS – look away now if you haven’t yet finished the game* the attack on the Cerberus Base and then play through the remainder of the campaign to experience the new endings. They also add this note:

“The Extended Cut endings will differ depending on choices made throughout the Mass Effect series, so multiple playthroughs with a variety of different decisions will be required to experience the variety of possibilities offered by the new content.”

Ben Shepard, not the guy from GMTV, and Lynz Shepard were the chalk and cheese couple of Vanguard galactic heroes. Ben is/was a true blue paragon who knew how to crack a few heads but when the big calls were needed he often found himself shifting the analog stick towards the sky blue while Lynz was the personification of everything Ben never wanted to be. She saw the worst in people, expected to be betrayed at every corner and chose the hell-fire red options from the start.

I may take you along my journeys as Ben and Lynz Shepard in a future blog post but for now we can see how this extended Cut is being hyped and what if/any difference it makes to the experience.

First practical point comes in the fact that it is a 1.85GB download and took me exactly 1 hour to download from my Belfast city centre flat. More annoying though once the download was complete, even with multiple restarts of my Arkham Asylum vinyl covered Xbox360, I had consistent messages bubbles appear telling me my download had completed. I love an achievement bubble “bleep bloop” as much as anyone but this is still driving me nuts but it seems to be common problem from the looks of the Bioware social network. Plus it froze my Xbox at least twice as I am writing this, hopefully you guys will not have anywhere near the same issues. EDIT: Thankfully the noises have stopped after 25/30 minutes.

So after all the leading into the story, what is my verdict for this extended cut and the simple is simply “so what?” I’m not one to be overly negative about anything and although I was disappointed by the ending at the time, it is so long ago now that this “extended cut” was just as described. Nothing…..more. No Indoctrination theory, no twists, just a reorganisation of some of the scenes and the most glaring obvious plot holes are accounted.

A run-down of the changes are described below: (MAJOR SPOILERS) You have been warned! These are the changes noticed during my attempt to replicate the so called “perfect ending” for the Destroy StarChild decision.

  • The run up to the citadel bean is extended to include your team being “rescued” by the Normandy SR2 to cover the fact that team members ended up leaving the Normandy from the new planet crash side
  • Added scenes and more conversations with the StarChild to remove the “zombie” effect of Shepard that helped the indoctrination theory
  • Scene showing Normandy receiving orders to leave the crucible area, preventing the “Why did Joker flee?” analysis
  • A new Admiral Hackett voiceover states the mass relays now are explained as not actually exploding and that all are only “severely damaged” yet in the same sentence saying that all damage will be “easily repaired.”
  • With the Hackett voiceover, we are “gifted” to some still shots of scenes dependent on how we influenced the galaxy, including my story my new baby Krogan and the Quarians on their homeworld.
  • While it also seemed I had lost the “perfect ending” with the Normandy Crew and my beloved Tali, holding a plaque about to hang on the memorial wall of the Normandy when I am greeted to the now famous “still alive” clip of Shepard among the charred wreckage but no extension to the scene.
  • The now much maligned, paraphrased “come back for more DLC screen” is replaced by Bioware thanking the fans for their support and “more adventures in the Mass Effect Universe.”

So there we have it, something but also nothing at the same time. I completely understand the notion of artistic direction and freedom of creativity but they will also have to understand that I am free to not enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Simply put for me, the Bioware “brand” has taken a hit in my opinion from its possibly unattainable heights yet is still in higher regard for me than a lot of studios.

Let us know how you felt the extended cut DLC changed your Mass Effect 3 experience in the comments below!

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