If all goes as planned, will you redeem my life again?
Well, Shepard? What’s it gonna be? Tomorrow ME3 drops and (sorry, Spinks) like so many, I am about to muse on and share my reservations with you all. Don’t get me wrong: I am very excited for it. ME1 and ME2 were far and away the best video game RPG experiences of my life to date; I love Shepard and I will – with high probability – enjoy the game.
Unless they kill Shepard.
It’s been en vogue for the past decade now for writers in both literature and film to either present a sad ending (like a pyrrhic victory) or a sacrificial hero (where the protagonist goes all Jesus of Nazerth on us and “dies to save us”). I’m talking about endings like Matrix Revolutions (that’s a pretty extreme example, right there, where the protagonist goes out glowing like a god damned crucifix) and the saddest movie ever, Dancer in the Dark. (Do not watch that movie. You have been warned.) Movies like DitD actually present no victory at all; they are what I’d call unredeeming: the entire story is the bottom of the second act.
What’s funny here is that it’s obvious: they basically have to kill Shepard for at least one of the necessarily divergent endings. Here follow some of the ending paradigms I suspect as possibilities:
- The Jay-Naz ending: Shepard dies and saves everybody.
- The mega happy ending: Shepard survives, saves everybody, lives happily ever after with (insert your elected love interest here).
- The realistic ending: Shepard survives, saves not everybody but many, and lives with a heavy conscience.
- The en vogue ending: Shepard dies, saves not everybody but many, and the player is like “wtf – reload”.
- The Dancer in the Dark ending: Shepard dies and saves nobody and it seems like he never stood a chance. (Read as: justified nerd rage.)
These endings actually leave me (and the rest of us) no room to complain; they are necessarily incomplete because “saving everybody” and “Shepard’s end” is not all there is to tie off. There are a lot of loose ends after the first two games, so Bioware should take a note from Bethesda here. I’m talking about the end-of-game montage after Fallout 3 and New Vegas where every single faction/side plot is discussed, where the narrator walks us through the dénouement (it’s fun to say: “dey-no-mah”) and we see all ends. I’m sure Bioware will have its own way of doing it, but I want to see it. Hell, I really want to see that undercover cop from ME1 come after Shepard and try to court him (or her, or just be friends, or whatever). Bring those characters back.
Anybody that really loved the series played through it several times to follow up on different forks that interested them. Not utensils but story arcs. I have several saves to see to their (multiple) bitter endings:
- Shepard was an absolute paragon, saved everybody, was loyal to his love, Ashley Williams, throughout ME2, and is a relentless, unstoppable, bad ass white knight. Oh, and he told Mr. Illusive to stick it and blew the Reaper baby into little kibbles.
- Shepard was patient with the innocent and ruthless with the wicked (read as: Renegade options for jerkss and foes, Paragon options for everybody else). He romanced Liara but fell for Jack (and romanced her in the Paragon way). He’s still an independent contractor employed by Cerberus. Miranda hates his guts but everybody survived the end of ME2. Oh and he shot Rex in the face in ME1. And Tali can never go home because he kind of punched some people there too. And punching that jerky news lady in ME2 was awesome. “I’m sick and tired of your disingenuous remarks!” BAM.
- Shepard was very nearly a paragon, saved everybody he could, fell for Ashley in ME1, fell for Tali in ME2 because it made the most sense. Seriously, Tali was above all other characters the one that Shepard spent the most time talking to in ME1. I look forward to Tali and Ash having a discussion in ME3…though that may be a Miranda/Ash thing.
- I do have a save where I romanced Miranda, because if there is an argument between Ash and Miranda I want to see it first hand.
I’ll see at least two of those to conclusion (probably the first two) but undoubtedly over months of playing other games it will call to me and I will see more of the story at my own pace.
I’ll be mad if Shepard dies, but as long as he doesn’t always die, I’ll accept it. It is Bioware. Alternate endings is what they do.