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FTC complainant calls Mass Effect 3 ending 'complete'

by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, Jul 2, 2012 9:00AM PDT

You may not know the name Spike Murphy, but you almost certainly know of him. He made headlines when he filed a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint against EA for the ending of Mass Effect 3. In doing so, he crystallized many of the complaints against BioWare -- and the backlash against those complaints as well. He is easily one of the most vocal figures against BioWare's contentious ending, so now that the company has released the Extended Cut, we wondered what he thinks of the changes.

"I liked the new endings," Murphy told Shacknews. "Many plot holes were filled in, and a lot of the sequences seem so organic and natural to the story that it seems shocking they didn't include them in the first place. Most importantly, there's a real epilogue now, one which gives context and consequence not just to our final choice, but to all the choices we had made to get there. The ending feels complete, whereas before it seemed rushed, unfinished, and frankly like they didn't know what to do."

For better or worse, most fans' reactions will compare the new endings to the old. The original ending, which can still be viewed without the downloadable content, was fairly divisive. Even in light of the improvements, Murphy feels the old ending was "incomplete and full of holes." It wasn't just a bad ending for Murphy and some fans, it was a slap in the face. "We all needed that cathartic release of seeing the results of our actions, of giving everything we had done context and meaning, and in their attempt to be vague and mysterious they instead robbed their entire narrative of meaning."

That passion drove him to file with the FTC, and later the Better Business Bureau. He doesn't make a serial habit of this, and told us that this was his first time filing such a complaint.

Not that the new ending is quite perfect. Murphy says he has "minor issues" with it, including one major plot point that fans raised about the ending. "I wanted the Catalyst to address the fact that the Quarians and Geth made peace, invalidating its argument." He also thinks it "would have been nice if you could beat the Reapers when you choose to reject the Crucible," but reiterates that none of these problems bothered him much.

The most important question for BioWare is whether the controversy has lost some of its fans. Whatever people thought of Murphy's FTC complaint, it was coming from a place of love for the series. BioWare doesn't want to lose its most ardent supporters, and the Extended Cut was a way for the company to show their concerns were being listened to.

Murphy's feelings toward the future of the series are mixed. He says if BioWare hadn't changed the ending, he probably wouldn't have bought another Mass Effect game. "I feel that there is a much greater amount of trust and faith asked of gamers as opposed to other art mediums because of the large investment of time and energy necessary in playing through a game and thereby appreciating the art," he said. "Because of that, a betrayal of that trust between artist (the designers) and their audience like we found with the original ending of ME3 is far greater than, say, having a bad ending on an otherwise good movie. As it stands, I'd be open to another Mass Effect game."

BioWare has at least mostly convinced one of its harshest critics. As the controversy fades further into the past, it remains to be seen what lasting legacy is left on the Mass Effect series, and if emergency repairs to the ending regain the fans' trust for future installments.

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