So I literally just finished playing Mass Effect 3 with the new Extended Cut content. I wanted to go ahead & give a review of it while the impression is fresh on my mind, & also to be one of the first. Because of the nature of this DLC, which just adds story & no real gameplay changes, I’m going to do things a little bit differently than my normal DLC Reviews. Instead, I’m going to examine whether or not the content addressed the issues people had with the endings that prompted the release.
First of all, let me clarify that the new content does not change the endings themselves. BioWare already stated this before, but I thought I’d clear things up having played it now. The game still has the same three endings: Destroy, Control & Synthesis. The purpose of the Extended Cut wasn’t to start over from scratch, but to try to add more closure to the series. So no, it doesn’t support any part of the Indoctrination Theory. The endings are what they are, no tricks.
Also, just to note, I only replayed the final mission from just before firing the missiles at the Reaper & on, so I’m not aware of any changes before that point. And a third note is that because my Military Strength hadn’t changed, I can’t speak for any changes to the game if you have more or fewer resources. I have about as high an EMS count as you can get on single-player only, enough to have access to all three ending options.
Alright, with that out of the way, let’s look at if the Extended Cut addressed the concerns of the gaming community.
Does it explain how the squadmates you took on the final mission got back on the Normandy? Yes. This was actually the first new scene I saw. And I thought the scene felt very natural.
Does it explain how Hackett knew Shepard was on the Citadel? Sorta. It’s still rather ambiguous about how he knew it was Shepard precisely, but it does add a scene where they detect someone made it inside.
Does it explain the Catalyst & Reapers? Again, sorta. There are some new questions Shepard can ask while talking to the Catalyst that expands on where it & the Reapers came from. I still wish Shepard could point out the fact that they’d ended the war between the Geth & Quarians, thereby destroying the argument that organics & synthetics can never co-exist, but at least I no longer feel like the issue was completely dropped.
Does it explain why the Normandy was fleeing the battlefield? Yes. I know a lot of people had a problem with the scene of Joker frantically flying the Normandy away from the power surge, since there was no context for the scene & it was completely out of character for the crew to just abandon everything to run away. But I’m happy to say there is context for the scene & it stays within character. In fact, I believe the cockpit scene was completely redone.
Does it provide closure? Yes! No longer does it cut straight to the credits after seeing the Normandy on the planet. Now, all three endings have their own epilogue. The Epilogue includes a narration (each from a different character), still images of the aftermath (including showing what some of your former squadmates are doing) & a scene of what’s left of your crew mourning Shepard’s possible death. Personally, I think this sequence is the best addition. Not only does it tell us about how the species fared after the war & imply that all of your squadmates survived (unless you chose the Destroy ending), but each has its own unique feel, making each ending feel different. Even if technically you do the same thing to get the endings, in the end it feels like they play out differently.
I thought I’d include a sort of timeline highlighting the original & new content to get a better idea of the changes:
Original sequence of running to the beam
New cutscene showing squadmates being forced onto the Normandy
Original sequence leading up to entering the beam
New cutscene showing people being detected on the Citadel
Original gameplay up until Shepard speaks with the Catalyst
Three new questions to ask about the Catalyst, Reapers & the Crucible
Choose your ending
New cutscene showing the ships, including the Normandy, having the flee the area
Original ending cutscenes up to the Normandy on the unknown planet
New epilogue sequences
Same ending with the grandfather & child
Oh, & now if you choose the Destroy option you can still get the short scene near the end showing that Shepard is alive. Before you could only get this on the Pefect Destroy Ending, which you couldn’t get through single-player alone. So I thought that was a nice touch.
I have to admit, although I still don’t like the idea of having a God-child force me into three endings on the asinine logical that synthetics & organics can never coexist when I’ve already proved they can, I did like the epilogues. If BioWare was going to go this route, these are the endings they should’ve given us in the first place rather than just stopping the game with so many questions. Each of the epilogues is bittersweet in their own way & are more the type of things I’d expect BioWare to write. But seriously, where’s the super-happy-everyone-lives ending? I know it’s unrealistic, but BioWare can’t make me this attached to characters just to make me lose someone. It’s either Shepard in the Control & Synthesis endings or EDI in the Destroy. I know I was expecting Shepard to die in the end, but I honestly can’t point to one ending & call it the Best Ending. I suspect BioWare would call that the Synthesis Ending. But is it so wrong to think everyone deserves a happy ending?
Final Word: If you already liked the ending, this DLC will just be icing on the cake. If you were like me & didn’t necessarily hate the ending but felt it was incomplete & left you with too many questions, I think you’ll find this does a good job of clarifying things. But if you absolutely hated the ending, this will probably just make you more mad since it’s not a rewrite. Personally, given that it’s free, I see no reason why anyone should not get it. At the very worst it’ll placate you to have some real closure this time.