Laser Time SPECIAL – The End of Mass Effect

One part reverence, one part spoilers. We celebrate the greatest sci-fi saga of our generation in 1st half of the show, then head into MASSIVE SPOILER territory in the 2nd half with our thoughts on Mass Effect 3’s controversial  ending.

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74 thoughts on “Laser Time SPECIAL – The End of Mass Effect

  1. Cool cool cool

    Seeing as this is a special does that mean that there will be a normal LaserTime later today or am I just being greedy?

  2. Oh boy, Mass Effect! I love this series, and hey, since this episode is all about Mass Effect, the boyfriend might actually want to listen!

  3. Awesome, Ive been waiting to hear what you guys had to say. Personally, I liked the ending I ended up with.

    1. FYI, the first half is an SPOILER-FREE overview/lovefest for the entire Mass Effect series. You can easily enjoy that without worrying about ruining the game for yourself. Just duck out after the break!

    1. I can’t believe you said all of those things about that series and I couldn’t disagree more with whatever your opinion was on the ending.

      Looking forward to listening to this at work tonight.

      Going to make the predictions that you called the fan outcry and Bioware’s response as “setting a bad precedent” despite the fact that said precedent has already long since happened. You’ll probably remark about how artistic integrity should be maintained no matter how utterly terrible the ending is.

      Still, love listening to you guys, even if you are wrong! (Or maybe right? I don’t know yet!)

      1. It seems the more of a fan of the Mass Effect series the more you were disappointed with the ending. Obviously there’ll be exceptions but yeah that’s the general rule of thumb I’ve observed.

  4. Huzzah! Really looking forward to this. An actual, measured examination of the ending! Unheard of! (I personally liked it… mostly.)

  5. Man, I am really glad you guys are doing this. I know that both Chris and Brett were really in support of the ending. Really interested in what you guys say to back it up.

  6. Can’t wait to hear your opinions on the ending. I don’t see the problem with them because I’m not a whiny baby.

    1. That’s not the problem. You don’t have to be a whiny baby to feel let down by the ending like I, and many others were. I wasn’t part of “Retake Mass Effect,” but that ending is fucking terrible. It makes no sense and, honestly, does not take your actions into account. It hasn’t stopped me from starting a 4th Mass Effect playthrough, though.

      FYI, everyone, sane people hated the ending, too.

  7. Meh, think I’ll skip this one.

    I already finished ME3, I just don’t want to hear how fanboys try and defend it.

  8. Greatest of our generation is a very bold statement. But Ill let it slide since old guys are from generation X and Im from Y.

  9. Yay! I know you probably recorded this weeks ago but (whether on purpose or not) it’s nice that you gave the topic some breathing room, it’s been just long enough so that I’m not sick and tired of everyone talking about the ME ending. And you guy’s opinions are something I really want to hear, so yeah, that worked out nice.

  10. Sweet! I was dying for the new Laser Time and now I find out it’s a Mass Effect centric podcast?! Win-fuckin-win baby! I’ve listened to other Mass Effect spoiler-casts but I can’t wait to hear the Laser Time crew’s take on the whole series, especially the Mass Effect 3 ending.

  11. I haven’t listened yet but I really hope it isn’t just you guys yelling about how all the people who didn’t like the ending are wrong, because that’s what I’ve been seeing from your twitter feeds.
    I will stay optimistic.

  12. WARNING: BIG DUMB RANT PARAGRAPH AHEAD! Look, I loved every single thing about ME3…until the last 10 minutes. I will refrain from mentioning specifics, because the comments suggest that plenty of people haven’t played it yet. However, I just wanted to say that everything that follows your confrontation with the Illusive Man is incredibly, mind-numbingly, Michael-Bay-humor-level retarded. Chris, I’d like to point out that it is NOT like the ending to 2001, because that makes perfect sense if you’ve read the book (or looked it up on Wikipedia). And Brett, literally every criticism you’ve made against BattleStar’s ending can be easily and fittingly applied to ME3’s finale. It’s all deus ex machina garbage that isn’t deep, isn’t satisfying, isn’t fitting, and isn’t any damn good. Ambiguous ending are fine. Tragic endings are fine. ME3’s ending is just stupid, and (for me, anyway) that is not fine.

    1. Some vague spoilers, ME3 virgins!

      I agree there are similarities between BSG and ME3’s endings… but for some reason BSG weighed harder on me because it was weeks of meandering, faux spiritual nonsense that led up to a finale where everyone acts out of character. ME3 was solid up until that end, which I felt was handled well regardless of which prevailing theory turns out to be true. Didn’t feel schlockey or hackey to me at all. But! I do agree it’s something of a letdown, because if the “I Theory” turns out to be true, and that’s what’s going on, then there really is no resolution whatsoever, and that’s lame. There was too much going on (and hundreds of hours of my time invested) to not get some kind of actual cap.

  13. Badass. As soon as I beat ME3, I immediately started the series over again in the hopes of doing a “perfect” paragon run. My Wrex is alive, I saved the council, I hooked up with Ashley in ME1, then Miranda in ME2, and my entire crew survived the suicide mission. I just started ME3 again today, so the timing of this special couldn’t possibly have been better.

    I can only hope that you guys don’t fall back on the handwaving “gamer entitlement” argument that has plagued so many members of the games jarnalism community. I adore the ME series to the point where I would go as far as saying it’s my favorite franchise this generation. That said, the ME3 ending was balls and acknowledging that doesn’t automatically make one an entitled baby.

  14. Bloody fantastic episode guys, loved hearing your thoughts on ME3, the game I’ve played the most this year so far.
    I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending, but I’m very eager to see how the Extended Cut DLC will play out.

  15. Damn it. Now I have to beat Mass Effect 3 before I get a new Laser Time! I even mentioned that you guys talk should about Mass Effect when you asked for show suggestions. Well, this will give me even more incentive to finish 3. I’m looking forward to hearing this episode in a month or so.

  16. Dislike the dismissal of dissenting opinion and using indoctrination theory as a cop out.
    The Buzz Aldrin fmv was a DLC device. It was goddamn hokey.

    The actual ending was the spear point for upset fans, but mass effect 3 had many tonal shortcomings.
    Sidequests without meaning. Tali’s stock photo. EDDi. Shepard having nightmares and acting like a pleb over a nobody kid. Becoming a quitter after a forced loss to Leng.

    I liked it, but it did not deserve 10/10s. Not by any metric.

  17. Great discussion, could not agree more. Bioware gave us a challenging ending and sadly some of us couldn’t handle that. And this might actually be my favorite Laser Time episode so far- more video game talk!

  18. Who did the remix at the end? And where can I find it? Searched all over, can’t find this specific one used at the end of the episode.

  19. I’m glad you got something out of the ending, but for as much as I love the rest of the game and the series, I just can’t find enough redeeming features among the gaping plot holes, glaring breaches of internal logic and the Diablo ex machina (Patent pending) to give it a pass.

    I’ve gotten past the dibelief/anger/bitter dissapointment I felt initially, but it’s still dissapointing that such an epic series would go out like a punk like it did. Especially since they had the PERFECT opportunity to give us a good ambiguous ending, had they just stopped 10 minutes before.

    If feeling this way makes me a whiner, so be it. I can’t change the way I feel.

    1. Yes I agree if they stopped right up to the, you know walking glowing thing ahem, it would have been a fitting ending. It’s when they tried too hard to explain everything, when they went all George Lucas (was seriously surprised the guys didn’t discuss this) on our asses when it all fell apart. I’m with Brett with the I Theory and hope, hope that this is Bioware after all.

  20. 45 minutes of being told we are idiots, uncultured, and how “deep” this ending is because it’s deep. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected dissenting viewpoints to be given any consideration. Oh well.

  21. Mass Effect 3’s ending is basically the Mass Effect series finally going where the Matrix series did in Reloaded and Revolutions where it tries to be “deep” but fails to make sense on any level. Hell the final scene even resembles a certain scene from The Matrix Reloaded! It also introduces completely new concepts and conflicts in the final 10 minutes of the game.

    I didn’t “buy” any of it. To be honest I half suspect people who don’t mind the ending are suffering from the same thing I was when I first saw The Phantom Menace. Denial.

  22. Ugh. I wish I could listen to this, but I’ve been very careful to not spoil the ME3 ending.

    (I still don’t know what happens and I don’t know why people are mad because I haven’t finished the game yet!)

  23. You are giving Bioware way too must credit. Gameplay and story wise the ending was half assed. And yes i read books and yes i play video games and yes i watch movies. But still I finish the game before release as fans tend do. It was very easy too trick orign too unluck the game days before release and there will always be stores selling before street date.

  24. I get the bad ending to ME3 but if you’ve done some research I think the “Indoctrination Scenario” really works and I hope Bioware does some good storytelling when they decide to wrap up or retale the actual ending.

  25. Gah, ok 3rd time trying to comment so I guess maybe I have to leave out the url at the end.

    Sooooo basically Mass Effect is the FIRST interconnected trilogy for the video game industry and for that I applaud Bioware but ultimately in the end all the actions and decisions throughout don’t seem to matter which tarnishes a great customization focused RPG.

    Check out Checkmate Arcade ME3 Spoilercast, a few CAGS and I weigh in the matter.

  26. I just finished Mass Effect 3 on Sunday so PERFECT timing. Really looking forward to what you guys thought. I felt ME3 has the best ending this console generation period. After hearing about all the uproar I was expecting a totally different ending and what I got was so mind blowing and thought provoking. As Brett said on his twitter, never has a games ending made me think about it for several days.

  27. Haven’t beat ME3 yet but that certainly hasn’t stopped the internet from spoiling it for me already. Oh well, its the journey right?, not the destination (to take from the hippy handbook) Enjoyed the podcast, My only real disappointment with 3 so far has been the tiny bit of Jack we get to see. I was one of the weirdos that romanced her and found her to really grow on me as a character (I’m also strangely attracted to tank girl so yeah) and then they do an awesome redesign of her character and only give her a tiny bit role. I’m fine with her not being a party member, but come on guys! One interaction on the citadel and a goodbye message is all I get from warming up that ice queen?

    1. nah I romanced her with my first playthrough, or should I say I romanced Tali first and then Jack but Jack was the last one so she was the registered romance lol. Her character growth brought me into her personality and likability. As you romance Jack in ME2 she’s there in your cabin crying a few tears, a touching moment.

  28. I haven’t watched the episode yet, but why does it have to be considered a special when this would make perfect sense as a regular episode? If any episodes could be considered specials it’d probably be the PAX one and the Talkradar one.

    1. My guess is that since they usually have a theme or compilation of media to talk about for Lasertime while this one they focus on Mass Effect.

  29. Loved this episode my thoughts on the end pretty much echo Brett’s. Also thanks to Cheryl for being on always nice hearing from “old friends”.

  30. Awesome, thank you Lasertime for doing a ME3 episode. My other gamer friends aren’t into Mass Effect, so I was dying to discuss the story and ending and this is the next best thing.

    Overall, I like the outcome of the ending, but I still think the players that invested 3 games worth of play time deserve more closure in terms of the choices and decisions we made and the relationships we fostered. I’m hoping the DLC will include this.

    Great episode as always!

  31. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    i LOVE me some Cheryll! so good to hear her voice! love dat laugh. X3

    this was a good talk. this site needs more games talk.
    I personally was 99% satisfied with the mass effect ending.
    I looked at it from the point of the entire series as one big story, i was pretty satisfied.

    also to Tyler… with Javik, if you come across the right people they do freak out about the fact that he is a Prothean.

  32. Hey guys, first off. Awesome job with this podcast. I’ve been listening since the start, even though I haven’t really posted here. (Only in VGMpire so far.) I overall enjoy the show, and I like that you guys share a devotion for the Mass effect 3 universe.

    MASSIVE SPOILERS FROM HERE ON. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

    That being said, I respectfully disagree with some of the things you guys said. And it kinda bothered me how pretty much aside from Brett, the rest wasn’t really much of a discussion as it was more of a rather obvious single. “We liked the ending, thus we are right, and detractors are whiny and stupid.”

    Yes, i am aware that a good amount of the complaints about the ending are stupid. (We wanted a happier ending! I wanted to see the Rachni fighting alongside me! I wanted 10+ totally different endings!) But it kinda pisses me off how you guys focused mainly on those, and either downplayed, or dismissed some of the sensible complaints.

    Regardless of whether you agree with the indoctrination theory or not. (And I agree that this is a good theory, and if true DOES add more value to the ending and makes it more ballsy.) There are some really STUPID plotholes and faulty logic in those final moments that just can’t be ignored or be dismissed as “nitpick”.

    Funny how you guys never even mention the whole speech the starchild gives about how he was the creator of the reapers, and the reason why he created them. I am fine with not knowing the origins of this being, or how he’s able to project itself as the child from Shep’s dreams. But what feels unforgivably STUPID to me, is his reason for creating the reapers “Organics are doomed to create synthetics life that will eventually eradicate the,…. So i created a synthetic race to eradicate them instead!” Does this really feel like an unimportant issue to you people? He just defined the MAIN motivation for the villains of the series, and it’s a stupid, contrived, contradicting reason. (Also utterly wrong, because your possible alliance with both geth and quarian disproves it.) And it’s exacerbated by the fact that it would have been better off if they just left the reaper’s motivations as one could just grasp them: That’s the way they were, that’s how they reproduced. How was that not enough? and if anything, that would have added to the ambiguity and “Challenge” you guys so adamantly defend.

    And then there’s the whole squadmate thing ever since the beam hit. Really? you guys are dismissing that as stupid nitpick? We’re talking about at least TWO squadmates that were directly behind Shepard when the beam hit. How they survived when every other soldier but Shepard survived is a mystery on itself, but I CAN accept that happening somehow. (Specially since, as you guys pointed out, the game pulled that off with Grunt, for example.) But what I cannot accept, is that, being in the THICKEST, most defended part of the battle, your squad mates would have time to see the crucible exploding, then retreating and getting picked up by Normandy, and the Normandy blasting away all in TIME. Specially because, it doesn’t matter how much time Shepard spent inside the crucible as you guys argued. Joker and the rest had no reason whatsoever to fly away BEFORE they saw the crucible explode. If anything, they would be trying to find other ways to get INSIDE the crucible and help Shepard, not knowing what would happen. So seriously, how is this a small issue? I mean, yeah, if we subscribe to the indoctrination theory, none of this matters, but problem is that you guys seem to like the ending even if it all happened exactly as depicted.

    So yeah… Note that neither of these issues has anything to do with the ambiguity of the ending. So to me, this is not DEEP, or CHALLENGING writing. It’s shoddy, lazy storytelling. And lazy is something else that shows in the different endings. I’m fine with there being only three. what I am not FINE with, is that these are three VERY different endings in what they do and how they change things. And it’s the ending of the series and trilogy. The least you could have done is to make each cinematic distinctly different… but they aren’t. There are a couple differences here and there, sure, but they are otherwise very damn similar, specially considering that the consequences of each are VERY damn different. The fact that this was handled this way is LAZY, and I’d like to see how could anyone argue differently or defend it.

    Alright. I’m done with my super huge rant that probably nobody will read. (Although I sincerely hope that at least Chris or Brett will, and take the time to at least say “No you’re still wrong and stupid, go away”. Since I want to think I’ve worded this in an acceptable enough way to warrant any kind of reply?) I honestly had moved on from the ending, and I am actually okay that they aren’t changing it, and just expanded it. But it sincerely tickled my nerves how in the show Chris blatantly insulted anyone that didn’t like the ending. Went all “they hurt my feelings.” and “I have sincerely lost respect for the consumer base.” Without really taking into account some of the more legitimate complaints.

    I like this show, and I’ll keep listening even with my disagreements with your opinions. But please don’t try to act like you’re being fair, when you’re clearly not?

    1. WOW. What a short concise argument you have there. LOL. You see when I CAPITALIZE certain WORDS it draws emphasis to them.

    2. Okay, buddy, I’ve seen these comments brought up constantly and they are driving me crazy.

      1) The motivation behind the Reapers does make total sense and I don’t understand why people are struggling with it. Some incredibly powerful force (who we do not know) thought this was the best solution long, long ago. They came to the conclusion that history will always repeat itself no matter what, that the cycle will continue. Destroy the synthetics, and they will just build it again, then freak out when those synthetics become self-aware, and then those synthetics will overtake the entire universe and no organics will ever live again. A better solution is to let organic life thrive until it advances to the peak of it’s civilization, then harvest them through the Reapers and let the cycle starts from scratch.

      Yes, this is a terrible solution full of flaws. Yes, the evidence you have seen in this cycle disproves this claim. That is the entire point.

      Think about everything you have been dealing with throughout the trilogy. Think about the constant difficulties in convincing both the Alliance and the Council into doing the right thing and always failing at it. Think about how the Quarians keep wanting to re-ignite a war with the Geth despite all the problems it has caused those people. Think about how society mass-produced a war-like species called the Krogan to aid in a war effort, and then created a Genophage to basically ruin them. Think about the actual motivations of The Illusive Man or Saren. Think about how the Protheans essentially acted like dictators of the entire galaxy. Remember how all of them felt justified in their actions, and how they accuse you of being too simple and naive for thinking there is another option. Even curing the Genophage angers some species who believe that [i]history will just repeat itself.[/i]

      The entire series has been people with more power than you making pragmatic decisions that they think is the [i]best solution[/] and are actually not evil but think they are doing what’s best for civilization. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that whoever created the threat the whole series revolves around follows the same logic.

      2) I don’t understand why this is a big deal at all. There is no evidence your squadmates were in the way of the beam, and seeing as how everyone either assumes you are dead or that you are in the Crucible and has heard nothing from you for a very long time, I don’t see why it’s such a stretch that they all went back into the Normandy and are anticipating an escape if necessary.

      Also, yes, I feel most of the complaints are ridiculously “nitpicky” because they are people trying to take their dislike of the ending and make it out to be “lazy”. Just like most sci-fi or fantasy, people shoveled so much nonsense in the Mass Effect series wholecloth. I don’t know why people who had no issue talking to a creature with no face, no working appendages, and no mouth but somehow evolved to handle interstellar travel and yet scream “plothole” because they don’t bore you with the details of how people got back on a spaceship.

      Finally, the people complaining about “closure” anger me the most. The biggest problem with this game is how tiresome the coincidental meeting of a small collection of people are even though you are racing across the universe. Every single former member of Shepard’s team has to stop by to tell you how much you affected their lives. And then they tell you again. And again. And then right before the final battle everyone tells you yet again. I don’t understand how people can insist that there isn’t enough closure after that.

      1. Regarding the last paragraph:

        The reason people say that there isn’t enough closure, is that by it’s very nature, closure is not knowing what happens before a big, apocalyptic battle. It is knowing what the consequenses of said battle are.

        Regarding your second to last paragraph:

        A work of fantastical fiction such as Mass Effect, depends on something called internal or narrative logic, rules that govern what can and cannot happen in the fiction. When the narrative logic is broken, like many people believe the ending of ME 3 did, it creates a breach in what is called the reader-writer contract, which is quite important for a piece of narrative fiction to work.

        Hope that clarified some of the things you were confused about.

    3. One of the problems I had with starchild is that he chose the worst possible way of stopping synthetic life from occurring. The Reapers intentionally allow the organic civilizations to access the Mass Relays, which allows them to advance technologically in a rapid manner. If you remember the Illusive Man’s speech at the end of ME3, he states that humanity has advanced more since finding the Mass Relays than it did in the past 10,000 years combined. If the Reapers were trying to prevent the creation of synthetic life, they should have inhibited technological growth instead of promoting it. They should have just stayed in the universe all the time and threatened to glass any planet that created synthetics. Instead they allowed them to advance to the point were not only could they create AI’s, but also things like Thanix cannons, that could be used against the Reapers.

  33. I love laser time for how its goes into depth about quite nerdy and nostalgic subjects but has a good sense of humour and doesn’t jump into total off-putting nerd cliche land….. in short i like i can and have passed laser time on to friends that would never listen to something like this or a podcast on their own and you don’t need know a shit tonne about 90’s wrestling to find it funny or something interesting….
    Something like the mass effect 3 podcast isn’t like that, i’m trying not too be rude in how i put this, but it goes too much into the kind of actually nerdy kids who hang out at the role playing game store kinda territory. I know this will come off wrong….. there is nothing bad about being like that and im not sneering too much, it’s just not to me laser time strengths or an episode i’ll be able to pass on, it is too specific video gamey podcast which is not what makes laser time great (and laser time is great)…..ugh this sounds uncool, but laser time is cooler than this.
    start a video game podcast for this and the pax live kinda thing.

  34. To be honest, I thought the ending Mass Effect 3 was more cheap than deep. A bunch of lore-related logistical inconsistencies aside, the final hour of the game felt cold and disconnected from everything that came before it. Jamming in a maudlin conversation with a glowing ghost child about organics and synthetics is a cheap way of creating empathy and context for the role of the Reapers. It’s almost as if I read the Harry Potter series all the way to the end and then discovered the last few chapters were about Harry and Voldemort fighting over a bag of jelly beans. There’s still a conflict here, but it’s not the one I care about.

    I’m almost certain that Bioware fell into the same trap as the Wachowski brothers did when they wrapped up the Matrix. There was just an extra layer of…stuff that didn’t need to be there and even if the Indoctrination Theory proves true, it just comes off as pretentious.

    In fact – Mass Effect 3 is pretty similar to The Matrix. Shepard is Neo, the Reapers are the Machines ( they even had their Harbinger giant face-thing talk to the hero and were in essence trying to harvest everyone), the star child is the Architect and that Stargazer scene may as well have been the Architect and the Oracle sitting on a park bench.

  35. For everyone who thinks the ending to Mass Effect 3 was Deus Ex Machina and pulled out at the last possible minute, pull out your copy of Mass Effect 1 and look up the codex entry for Klencory.

  36. Kind of disappointed by this episode, to be honest. I think you guys made the best possible arguments for the ME3 ending(s) that I’ve heard to date, but it still baffles me how none of you were bothered by how dumb the last 15 minutes or so were. You really thought that stupid Starchild (featuring sub-Heavy Rain voice acting) asshole with the worst logic ever who completely ruins how cool the Reapers were was an ok idea? Or how about all your alien pals being stuck on a ruined earth so they can slowly die or else never go home again? Shepard not asking the Starchild more questions like “who the fuck are you, really, and why can’t I choose something that won’t mess up the entire galaxy and kill me?” seemed alright to you too? A happy ending was not necessary, but options for a happy, sad or combinations of happy/sad endings would’ve been great. However I think most people would’ve settled for endings that weren’t stupid as shit and nearly identical. Also,

    “Hey awkward grandpa voiced by someone Bioware pulled off the street, tell me more about the Shepard!”
    “Ok my sweet, delicious little boy…let me tell you the story about buying more DLC!”

    Ah well.I do appreciate the reverence you guys have for the series, because it’s pretty great.

  37. Having played the game and come back to listen to the podcast, I’d be happy to say that whilst the endings presented are interesting I did want to have some option for a cornball happy ending. I know I will remember my choice well, but my final memory is tinged with sadness.

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