So last week I took my sort-of annual vacation to Florida, to enjoy an early week of summer with the fam. If you spend the winters in New England, you know how precious a solid week’s worth of Vitamin D can be in mid-March. When I got back, the weather was appropriately crappy (40 degrees Fahrenheit and rainy… you know the drill), but it was the perfect opportunity to finish Mass Effect 3!

Man, would I love to talk about the ending. I want to keep things SPOILER FREE here, though, out of respect for those who haven’t gotten there yet. I realize I’m probably one of the last to finish it anyway, but just in case, I will not be spoiling things. I would, however, like to share a few of my thoughts, and I’ll be as vague as possible.

Firstly, I didn’t hate the ending. For those of you who do hate the ending… I know, I know. I see your points. But let me explain. I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to a product I adore. It takes a lot to turn me sour. The ending of “Lost” was the last thing to awaken hatred in me, and I’m sure a few of you share my sentiments there. But my gut reaction to ME3’s ending was not one of ire. Yes, it was abrupt. And yes, upon further reflection, there are a LOT of loose ends. But I kind of feel like I was getting closure throughout the entire game, at least with regard to my favorite characters, so when it came to the end, it was just “The End,” and that was that.

Having said that, I was still very curious to see what everyone had been saying so far about the ending. What was all the ruckus about? It didn’t take me long to find plenty of info about something I will refer to as “IT.” I figure that’s vague enough for those of you who don’t know. And for those of you who do know… well, you know, don’t you?

At first I was skeptical, but after reading waaaaaaayyy too much about IT, I’ve gotta admit: I’m a believer. There are a bunch of clues throughout (too many to ignore), and it involves a piece of Mass Effect lore that is not only prevalent, but central, to each Mass Effect game. Honestly, my hope is that they’ve been planning this all along, and aren’t simply changing stuff to appease fans. Remember two weeks ago, when I wrote somewhat coherently about narrative in games, and how the great games use narrative in ways that other media cannot? Well, if IT is accurate, Mass Effect will end up as one of my all-time favorite games. Let’s face it; even with the current ending, taken as a whole, Mass Effect is already one of my favorite game franchises. Second only to Half-Life. If IT proves true, I may have to re-evaluate. Seriously. Although, when Half Life 3 comes out, that may shake things up all over again.

For those who think IT is a bunch of paranoid nonsense, I understand. Bioware keeps saying that they’re not going to change the ending. But then again, if they’re moving according to plan, then they’re not really changing anything, are they? Look… I know it’s a lot to swallow, but we have two options here: either the writers knocked it out of the park for hundreds of hours of content over several years and then somehow borked it all (forgetting half the lore they’d built up previously) within the last 15 minutes of their creation… OR they’re using their otherwise top-notch game to take the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format to a whole new level. I prefer to believe the latter.

Really, the thing that sells me on it is the ending you get if you maxed out your Galactic Readiness (or whatever the heck it’s called) and then pick the “What Would Anderson Do?” option. That really tells me that they have something up their sleeve. And think about it… Bioware has admitted they’re coming out with DLC within a month or so that will “clarify” the ending. It takes a long time to produce game content. The backlash is only a few weeks old. There’s no way they could cobble content together and release it as DLC this quickly if they were only doing it to appease fans. They’ve been working on it for a while. And if you follow their Twitter feeds and interviews, you’ll notice how damn coy they’re being. I’ll give you a few links; this one is from early February, an interview with Mike Gamble in Eurogamer. And here’s another interview with Mike Gamble in 360 Magazine, also from February. This quote in particular is interesting: “There are risks involved in how you get there or how you completely not get there.” Food for thought. And here he is in Gamerzines, telling us to hang on to our finished game saves. Also, here’s a statement on Bioware’s site from Ray Muzyka.

I guess we’ll know for sure in a few weeks. Hold the line, people.

On a completely unrelated note… who’s going to PAX East this weekend!? I am, that’s for sure. I’ll be the svelte, bald-headed guy with glasses, searching for the Supergiant Games booth, so I can score me a sweet “Bastion” t-shirt. I will also be playing arcade games in the Classic Arcade room. You can pretty much count on that. If I remember my camera, I’ll take pictures!

Oh, and one more thing… THIS.