Spoiler Warning S4E5:
Don’t [REDACTED] with Aria

By Shamus
on Nov 24, 2010
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

233 comments

Warning: The following program contains absurd plotting and one swear word. Viewer discretion is advised.

I know people are always throwing the word “cinematic” around, but check out the camera work in the conversation with Aria. This is a pretty good example of how to make a game feel like a movie without yanking control away from the player and making them watch something canned. It lets the designers show off the set design, it lets the author give their characters the proper visual weight, and you get to keep playing the game.


Link (YouTube)

Let’s expound on the small exchange when you enter Omega, because it’s a great example of what I’ve been on about in the last few episodes and it’s too long to fit into the episode:

So you come back from the dead, possibly with a new face, and are given a new, more upgraded stealth ship. And then some criminal thugs are able to identify you, personally, before you even land. And it’s not even a big deal to them. “Yeah. We knew it was you, Shepard. Yawn. Whatev.” It’s stupid little contrivances like that that just needle the crap out of me. Now, the purpose of the conversation is clear:

1) Send the player to Aria for the quest hook.
2) Establish that these people know who Shepard is so that we don’t need to waste screen time explaining it to them.
3) Be a little bit of a jerk to the player to set the proper mood for the rough and hostile Omega.
4) Establish that, even before you meet her, Aria is knowledgeable and well-connected.

You could have done all of these things without introducing the preposterous notion that someone recognized Shepard despite the fact that she was:

1) Many kilometers away, in space.
2) Wearing a new face.
3) INSIDE of a stealth space ship and not hanging out the window.
4) Believed (known) to be dead for the last two years.
5) Flying under the flag of her known enemy.

Now, I know some people are going to want to jump down to the comments and wrangle a bunch of justifications that can make this work. Or at least, make it fail slightly less. But that’s not the point. The point is that you’re suddenly yanked out of a story when it stops making sense. What? Did that guy just claim he recognized me before I landed? Even if you can sort it out later, it still breaks immersion. And even if I can swallow this, Shepard should have had some sort of epic “WTF!?” moment. This is exactly why the concept of lampshading was invented.

The thing is, this is something that BioWare is usually really good at. They’re great at anticipating player objections and heading them off. Or even using them against you. It’s the reason I love BioWare games. (I certainly don’t play them for their deep, complex leveling mechanics.) If this were a game from some other company this would barely register an eyeroll from me. And if we saw a story like this in a game from id Software, I’d be delighted, because it would represent a massive increase in quality. But this is a sequel to Mass Effect, and I continue to view it through that lens.

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Footnotes:


A Hundred!A Hundred!2013233 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. GiantRaven says:

    Man, with this level of swears I don’t know if I can continue watching this series…

    • Nyaz says:

      “Think of the children!”

    • Kdansky says:

      Yeah, the swears and implied sexing in the title (“Redacted”? Come on!) will traumatize my imaginary children. They love the shooting and killing of people though, so I think I’ll have to put up with them swearing, or else they will never be polite amok shooters!

      I want to add that I find the treatment of the word “fuck” unbelievably hypocritical. I’m certainly not the only person on the planet using swears, but censoring myself to f***, s***, c***, p*** or what have you? Why do we make such a drama about a word getting used? Because it’s so fucking (there, I said it) taboo! If we’d man up and not use all those disgusting stars instead of proper letters, it would not be such an issue. We don’t need to swear more. But we need to do it proper if we are going to do it, and not chicken out with lame self-censorship.

      It’s as if people are afraid of the devil jumping out of a hole in the ground if you use his name.

      • Matt K says:

        I agree with GiantRaven. This level of swearing is completely unacceptable. I require a significantly higher rate of swears in my video content.

      • Shamus says:

        If the f-bomb wasn’t the worst word, some other word would be.

        Why is this word the worst! It’s just about sex! And sex is awesome!

        Why is this word the worst? It’s just about excrement! That’s natural!

        Why is this word the worst? It’s just the name of a bundle of sticks!

        Why is this word the worst? It’s just about petting small furry hamsters!

        There will always be different levels of interaction and formality. This is a GOOD thing. And putting in [redacted] is funnier than using the real word.

        In clothing, men take off hats when they go indoors and everyone is expected to keep their genitalia out of view. In language, there are different words and sets of subject matter that are appropriate based on the company you’re in.

        I AM SO ANGRY I AM GOING TO USE ONE OF THE “FORBIDDEN” WORDS!

        Man, language – and comedy in particular – would be so much less interesting if we didn’t have this stratification of formality in word usage.

        • krellen says:

          And then there’s Jack, who uses the word like it was ketchup.

        • Josh R says:

          I always thought the most disgusting word was “gash”
          just the connotations and comparision to a knife wound were a bit horrible

          • Newbie says:

            It is pretty horrible but when your female friends use it on almost a day to day basis then it quickly loses it’s disgust. The term Axe Wound instead of gash is more creepy.

        • DaveMc says:

          Good point: strong curse words retain their ability to add emphasis only if they are deployed relatively rarely. So there’s no point trying to eliminate the concept through familiarity: some other word, as you say, will just come occupy the same niche. Don’t try to deny it, folks, it’s already happened over and over, goddamn it. (Time was, that that would have been a terrible oath. Now, many people wouldn’t consider it cursing at all.)

        • SolkaTruesilver says:

          You should check up French-Canadian swear words. Things like Ostie, Tabernacle, Chalice are pretty big swear words.

          On the other hand, “Christ” isn’t that big of a cuss word. Funny.

          • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

            My big sister yells “turnip” occasionally, especially if she hurt herself. No reason, other than it’s amusing for not being a proper swearword and has a T, R and a P in it. Which we both consider important for swearing, especially when pissed off. Something to push the frustration into. Note that we’re actually using the Finnish word for it (“turnipsi”) and in Finnish the ‘R’ and ‘P’ are pronounced… stronger(?)

            • Sekundaari says:

              Angrier! They are pronounced angrier.

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                Well, yes. But only when you’re swearing, angry, scaring tourists, talking to someone you don’t like, talking to friends, around people and when you’re alone.

                • Sekundaari says:

                  Anyway, turnipsi doesn’t sound perfect for swearing for me… maybe it’s the “ipsi” in the end. But with T, R and P… parta? Purtava, turpea.

                  I’d prefer K, R and P. All sorts of funny fake swears there. Parku, porkkana, kurppa. Kurppa!

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  “rt” makes the ‘t’ too silent. Turpea could work though.

                  (parta – beard ; purtava – chewable ; turpea – swollen/bloated – You know when sponges expand when they’ve been dry and get water? That would be “turpoaa” – swells.)

                  I like ‘k’. And “rk” doesn’t suffer from the same thing as “rt” either. However “rp” does, but “kurppa” works due to the double consonant. Although, doubles are not really what I’d go for when I’ve hurt myself. That’s why “perse” works so well. Although “kurppa” might startle people just as well. I’ll have to test it.

                  (parku – cry ; porkkana – carrot ; kurppa – sandpiper ; perse – lit. ass (not as in “one parent of a donkey”), not to be mistaken for “per se”, which is latin and means “in itself”.)

                  — Translations brought for the purposes of non-Finnish speakers understanding most of the conversation. But the rest is madness anyway, so you’re not losing much.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Mi krop!Mi krop!

            • Tomulus says:

              Reminds me of this skit:

            • silver says:

              “not being a proper swearword and has a T, R and a P in it”

              Ah, so Admiral Ackbar wasn’t being a coward, he was just cursing. I get it.

        • Kdansky says:

          I do not disagree that spewing curse words at random is stupid.

          But when discussing curse words, can we please behave like adults and refer to them properly? This is what bothers me way more.

          A urologist will not call the penis a “wee-wee” either, because it’s serious business for him. So if we talk about swearing, we should use proper words too. Or else we just look silly and hypocritical.

          “Oh gosh darn, she used the f-bomb!!” vs
          “She says ‘fuck’ a lot. Is that really necessary?”
          The first one is silly blabber, the second one is how one should discuss dialogue.

          On a sidenote: “F-Bomb” reminds me of a famous (American) atrocity with another letter instead of the evil F. Putting the two things on one (linguistic) level is way more disgusting and disrespectful than just writing ‘fuck’.

          • Shamus says:

            We wouldn’t be discussing curse words if you hadn’t been irritated at the lack of them in this post.

            Saying F-bomb reminds you of a-bomb? Interesting. Maybe once fuck is worn out and lost it’s shock value you can try and see if a-bomb can be its replacement. Until then, I’m going to continue to use “f-bomb”. Some places on the net have locker-room level talk. Others are more like a bar. I’m going to continue to run this place like my living room. I place value in behaving like a gentleman. Other people can run their own websites the way they like.

            • Kdansky says:

              You misunderstand me. I am not bothered by the lack of curses at all. In fact, I find them annoying to read in the vast majority of cases (and sometimes, they get a point across).

              But I am annoyed that the curse words are there (you used the equivalent of “fuck” twice in the former post) and the writer chickened out in the last moment and censored themselves, as if they are afraid of what people will think of them. Well if you don’t want people to think you swear, then don’t swear, it is that easy. But do not pretend-swear. And when one is talking about swearing, one needs to grab the words by their real names if one wants to be taken seriously. Lastly, if even “she said fuck” makes you uncomfortable (after all, you are not swearing!), I’d suggest writing “she used expletives” or “she did swear” instead.

              No quality newspaper or book would ever print “s***” or “f***”. Either they print “shit” (unlikely) or they print a completely different word, such as “rubbish”. A gentleman would call things by their names, and speak the truth, not hide behind made up swears such as “gosh” and “darn”. Can you imagine James Bond using the word “f-bomb”? I think that’s pretty clear.

              And as an addendum: I understand that you used “[redacted]” for a joke, but that only works well when there is contrast, such as when RPS rips apart Poker Night at the Inventory and pretends to remove expletives from the text, to get the message across that the original text would have been even more brutal. But there never were expletives to begin with, it’s a two-layered joke. The [redacted] adds the impression of “it was so bad we really needed to censor ourselves or else you readers would have died of shock”, but we all know that in reality, there was no such thing as a pre-redacted text, it’s made up.
              In the case of the title of this post, you did censor a quote, and there is nothing amusing about that. It’s just (self-)censorship. If you’d written “I dislike that Bioware used so many [redacted] [redacted] [edited] [would burn your eyes out] swears.” it would have been funny, because again, we know you didn’t actually write down curses and then censor them.

              • Shamus says:

                “In the case of the title of this post, you did censor a quote, and there is nothing amusing about that.”

                I think not everyone is quite as hard core about the quoting of fictional idiots.

                This seems trivial to me, but if you must know how the post came about:

                Josh named the YouTube post “Don’t (insert explicative here) with Aria.” This was too long to make a proper title post. (I avoid titles that run over to three lines.) I liked replacing it with [redacted] because the term has such a serious air of authority about it, and it was amusing it to use it in regards to Aria and her plea for attention. And then to make sure the idea came across, I added the “Viewer discretion is advised” warning.

                And I have now spent more time talking about it than I spent naming the post.

                • Syal says:

                  I liked it, though I think replacing fuck with “[have sex]” would have been hilarious.

                  (Also, unrelated; glad to see the title captions changing at least semi-regularly again, but “unreptentant” is driving me nuts.)

              • Cybron says:

                Uh, I’ve seen many newspapers and magazines (is Newsweek not quality? Hard to guess your standards) employ such censoring. Namely, when quoting things. You know, like the title of this post.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Sure,a urologist doesnt say wee-wee,but he doesnt say dick either.F-bomb refers to a trope,and tropes in discussing stories are the equivalent of latin in medicine.And yes,its an english name of the trope,but we are in the age of internet,where english is the language majority uses,so if you want the majority to understand you,you will use it as well.A german doctor wont use a german name for a disease when they write a paper about it,they will use latin.

            Oh,and you want to talk about swears maturely?But see,”I’ve been working on the Railroad…” is the euphemism for “This story is linear”.I didnt see you complaining about that title.But when the title has a euphemism for a swear(and for the same reason of comedy),then you have a problem.That doesnt strike me as mature.

      • Veloxyll says:

        It’s actually all a big conspiracy by Asterix merchants.

  2. Eleion says:

    I don’t agree that the thugs recognizing you is necessarily ridiculous. I think it was in part to show the level of cynicism that the people on Omega have towards life (and gossip).

    “Oh, the super soldier who people thought was dead is actually alive. I guess we were lied to/the person who told me that was stupid. Big surprise.”

    That’s what I took it as, anyway.

    But given Shepard’s non-response (that I hadn’t realized before), you’re probably right about it being simply lazy writing.

    • Nyctef says:

      ^ This (Assuming he’s even telling the truth, of course)

    • chiefnewo says:

      I always assumed that the whole “design a new face” thing wasn’t actually a part of the story, just a way for you to play with the new character designer. In story terms its assumed that your new face is now the face you always had, meaning people recognising you isn’t that unsurprising.

      After all, it’s a waste of time bringing back Shepard as an inspirational icon if no-one can recognise him/her.

      • Will says:

        What i find highly entertaining is that it’s entirely possible to go through the entire game with a face-hiding helmet making it impossible to see who’s under there.

        I ran through most of the game wearing the Collector armor (bonas content iirc) which not only completely hides your body, but is using technology no-one has ever seen before, but that didn’t stop every man and his dog recognising me on sight!

        Seriously, put the N2 helmet on and you are unrecognisable, but people just keep on recognising you.

        • Nick says:

          This is like my main complaint with the Need For Speed games, you can buy spoilers, wings and lowered suspension for you car, but the game regards it as purely cosmetic rather than aerodynamic.

        • Avilan says:

          My main problem with all DLC armors except one (which is just armor parts) is that the helmet cannot be removed.
          Of course I have some extra beef with the Collector armor since well… you look like a collector in it, at least enough for someone to blow your head off before they realize it’s you… :P

  3. Deadpool says:

    I find it amusing that Cerberus keeps pushing you to get Mordin first, but all Omega seems to talk about is Archangel this and Archangel that…

    • Nyaz says:

      Yeah, screw that PLAGUE that doesn’t affect humans and vorcha. I mean, what’s the worst thing that could happen? We DIE? Pff, not very likely…

    • Integer Man says:

      I avoided Mordin at first because the game seemed to be moving me to get him and I wanted to exercise my newfound freedom. Turns out that Mordin is the best part of the game. They’re just saying “DUDE, seriously – get this guy!”

      • Aldowyn says:

        Well the reason is because if you don’t get him you can’t upgrade your stuff, obviously. And they put Archangel there because they want you to see the big surprise as early as possible. (No spoiler!)

  4. Christopher M says:

    So, Aria == Badger. I can understand that – the places even look similar.

    On a tangent, wouldn’t it be awesome if Bioware made a Firefly RPG?

  5. ToastyVirus says:

    is there gonna be any sort of order to these being released? or are you just releasing them when you can.

    Not that I’m complaining of course.

  6. wtrmute says:

    I wasn’t very impressed by the F-bomb. It feels that she’s trying too hard, here. I mean, she doesn’t know Shepard from Adam, and yet the first thing she does is toot her own horn, how she’s the queen and the CEO and her word is law and nobody f***s with her, oh yeah. It sounds absolutely juvenile.

    • Retlor says:

      Yeah, pretty much. She might have been more intimidating if she hadn’t been so keen to let you know how badass she was. Then, when you talk to other people in Omega, you could find out just how much she controls everything.

      Aria had the potential to be cool. They bring her on with all this fanfare, and then leave her sitting in that chair for the entire game with nothing to do.

      • aegof says:

        Getting Shepard in front of her is probably the smartest thing Aria could do, actually. She learns what Shepard wants on Omega and directs him there–meaning Shepard doesn’t need to dig and perhaps find some things she’d rather him not know. At the same time, she establishes herself as the best possible contact Shepard could have on Omega: amicable, (in a Terminus Systems kind of way,) informative, and powerful.

        Shepard’s dangerous. His enemies tend to get shot. (A punch to the face is also likely.) Aria, in her egotistical criminal-queen kind of way, is trying to be his friend.

        • Retlor says:

          I’ve no problem with the local powers-that-be calling Shepard in for a chat to explain what the score is.

          But Aria gets you sat down and then brags about how great she is. It comes off as forced. These are things that would have been more intimidating if we were SHOWN them, not told them.

          I love the conversation with Patriarch, where he tells you about how he used to be top dog, until this young asari hoodlum comes in and knocks him down. There should have been more scenes like that.

  7. Josh R says:

    I was always slightly surprised by how quickly everyone believed I was back from the dead.

    And very weirded out by people randomly sending me emails “so I heard you are alive again love mum”
    have cerberus logged me in to my emails? is their ship running me on hotmail? do I have a new email address people have found on google?

    so many questions

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I must agree. It completely threw me when random people I ran into suddenly had my email adress. I kept wondering how serious an organisation Cerberus could be if they gave me an account called shep@cerberus.glx or some such.

      I mean, it’s rather silly. And it led me to wonder if TIM also has an email.

      I also seem to recall getting some spam. I wonder why EDI didn’t filter that. I rather doubt she doesn’t have access to my mail. Or the yeoman for that matter. She deffo reads my mails, or at least the subject lines and senders.

    • jdaubenb says:

      Some emails mention that a coworker/therapist/best buddy who “works for the people you work for” is handing out your contacts like candy. Same for the Alliance brass and Udina.

      • Matt K says:

        I figured Cerebus just updated your facebook status “Back from dead, working for secret org that hates aliens, named after the three headed dog of myth named Cerebus”.

        I mean they are evil, incompetent but evil.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          Yeah, the access to your contact info is ridiculous. I mean, even if you weren’t “back from the dead”, “suspect of cooperating with human extremists” and all that, even if you were “just” a spectre… what, like, everybody can just get your email?

          On the “not surprised about being back from the dead”, it’s one of the few things I actually can buy about this plot. Let us consider: it would seem that there is a decent pool of spectres, furthermore, it seems that many of their names and visages are available to the public in some way, a somewhat strange decision but maybe this is just a case with the spectres we know and there are others working undercover (in case of Shepard we have to take into account that he/she is the first human spectre, which, I believe, was expected to be largely a matter of political favour and was announced far and wide… you were on TV, for example). Now, considering this I think it is reasonable to believe there is at least one “rumoured death” per “public” spectre a week and one “confirmed death” a month. The only people who are really shocked by Shepard’s return from the grave are those who would reasonably expect him/her to contact them had he/she survived, in short, your old team, friends, family. Seriously, on the Citadel they seem to have a special legal procedure for precisely this case (the possibility of pretending to be a spectre back from the dead is a bit lampshaded by all the supposed scans you go through when entering for the first time, a stupid writer trick but it at least is there).

    • guy says:

      I kind of assume Cerberus has set up an account for you and forwards it through a bunch of internal proxies.

  8. Scourge says:

    Whenever I play mass Effect 2 I always, always always -always- get reminded of this picture. http://nerfnow.com/comic/243

  9. Ouchies81 says:

    Regarding the AI that goes rogue and plays games.

    Spoiler:

    The Tachikomas in Ghost in the Shell generate a independent personality and some curiosity to its world as the first season progresses.
    They spend some time playing games and reading comics/books.

    It’s a great story arch.

    • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

      I think it’s “arc”, but yeah. The tachikomas were great.

    • SomeUnregPunk says:

      in Shirow’s comic that happened all the time… to a point where they would fuck with their minds so as to stop them from going fully independent and staging a revolution for AI rights.

      They would use subtly to make them bicker upon themselves for dependency on humans and revolution as being bad b-movie plot.

  10. swimon says:

    I like the idea of going to the “bad” parts of the galaxy after being in the rich parts in the first game but I have some problems with Omega. Firstly is the mood shift of the entire game. ME1 was set in a very happy almost utopian world, this is part of what made it so unique (to me at least) because you very rarely see things set in positive futures. ME2 on the other hand is set in a rather dystopian future (Omega is a slum, Ilos has slavery and the citadel is on the verge of fascism it seems) this is a lot more common setting which makes it far less interesting IMO. Personally I think a combination of the different settings would be nice like if the citadel in ME2 was still like the one in the first game and maybe Omega or Ilos would have featured in ME1, it would have created a nice juxtaposition that really highlighted both the beauty of the galaxies best and the harshness of it’s worst.

    The second issue I have with Omega is how small it feels. ME1 was great at creating these huge open planets that really made the world seem large but Omega is basically just a corridor with a shop or two. There are two more areas but they can only be accessed during certain missions. This is a problem I had with the whole game, it never feels big and it never really let you explore.

    • FatPope says:

      This is why I gave up on the game. The entire thing is just one long, extended corridor

    • guy says:

      And yet I still can’t find my way around omega, because someone stole all their windex and lights.

      The Citadel having a slum district really irritated me. What is there that pays enough money to live on and is not done by the keepers?

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      I enjoy the different look at these places and that nothing is all rainbows and sunshine. I think it’s a matter of personal taste, one of the things I really disliked about all the Star Trek series was the sort of bubblegum utopia it’s set in — I know it’s Gene’s vision for the most perfect future ever — but it still managed to irk me; probably why Deep Space 9 ends up as my favourite of the lot.

      I know ME2 never really intended it, and it’s a shame because they could have done a lot of powerful stuff going about it the right way, but the deconstruction of utopia can be done in a very convincing way. Showing the other side of the coin and so forth.

      “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise,” and all that.

      • swimon says:

        Well it’s a matter of taste obviously but almost every tv series or game is dystopian in nature (books have it a little better). Except for star trek and ME1 I can’t really name any game or tv future that is a little optimistic (it wasn’t like the ME1 universe was without trouble seeing as how it was essentially ruled by enormous corporations and questionable politicians in a decidedly undemocratic manner). Which is why I dislike the universe in ME2. I’ve been in so many dystopian universes in games that they sort of bleed together.

        • krellen says:

          I just realised last night that this is one of my main gripes with ME2. I’m sick of the gritty and grim and dystopian. ME1 was a nice, clean, shiny future – one that we haven’t seen since (at best) TNG. We’ve been 20 years without an optimistic look on the future, and ME2’s “Renegade” worldview pissed all over the Paragon optimism of ME1.

  11. Fnord says:

    The confrontation is a little less weird if you have the Zaeed DLC installed, since Zaeed is also basically standing right there, waiting for you. Thus, the feeling is less “your stealth systems are useless” and more “your communications aren’t as secure as you think”, which makes more sense.

    I’m actually kind of surprised you don’t have Zaeed; is this a used copy?

    • Irridium says:

      You can’t buy used PC games. At least where I’ve lived, which was in North Chicago and Vermont.

    • Josh says:

      No, I have Zaeed, but to me he’s just a boring Jango Fett clone and the party manifest is long enough as it is. The only interesting character moment for him occurs in his loyalty mission and he has virtually no dialogue beyond that so I figured it would be better if we devoted our time to some of the more interesting characters.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Zaeed, and I think Kasumi, have no dialogue trees outside of meeting them and their loyalty quests. This is a Bioware game. WTH?

        And there’s the fact that he’s a jerk.

        • Avilan says:

          Zaeed and Kasumi are eachother’s opposites. Zaeed is an ass, and an incompetent leader (the reason all his stories are about being the only survivor is because he can’t lead troops for sh*t). He is usually the last person I do the loyalty quest for, just before picking up Legion, because you never have to talk to him and everything he does Garrus does better.
          Kasumi on the other hand is smart, cute, deadly and interesting. Despite not having any conversations! She is the first character I pick up after Omega, and I do her loyalty mission directly. Of course a small part of that is because of the wonderful gun you get, but she is really effective and a good complement to Garrus or Thane or Legion (snipers, and she up close and personal).

          …I am actually one of those that wishes she was a romance option, even.

      • bit says:

        Yeah, but if you have the DLC he turns up at Omega and immediately joins your party; you don’t need to devote more than two minutes to him. In fact, how did you disable him?

    • Sydney says:

      Two things.

      1) The Normandy doesn’t run stealth at all times; the ME1 Codex mentioned that if it tried, everyone inside would cook. The stealth system works by trapping all heat within the superstructure; it’s only turned on at need.

      2) Let’s not forget Wilson. Who knows how much info he leaked? Anderson knew Shepard was alive almost immediately; that intel came from somewhere.

      While I still don’t think the “welcome to Omega” exchange was well-handled, it makes sense if you pay attention to the little things.

  12. Sheer_Falacy says:

    You mention wanting to see an AI go rogue and then not wanting to kill anyone or be evil. One example of this is the webcomic Freefall, which includes robots who develop independence but don’t particularly mind people (though they’d rather not be property anymore).

    • Bret says:

      Might Marathon’s Durandal count, in his odd bastardly way?

      I mean, he does leave a lot of people dead in his pursuit of godhood, like any self respecting psychopathic AI, but he doesn’t kill anyone directly, and in the end, is on the side of the angels.

      Or more accurately, one supposes, the angels are on his side. Either way, humanity winds up saved, slaves are freed, and Azathoth does not awaken to devour the universe.

      So, good on him?

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ahh,you didnt do the bartender.But then again,you dont have much renegade points,so I guess you cant do the most interesting thing with him either.

  14. Vipermagi says:

    Jaggies! *gasp*
    I didn’t notice the lack of anti-alias in the other episodes; what happened?

    • Irridium says:

      Mass Effect 2 doesn’t have an editable AA setting.

      You could manually change it by playing with the game files, but otherwise its nonexistent. You notice it more here since there’s a lot of stuff in the scene.

  15. utzelgrutzel says:

    I just want to add to your list the possible option:

    6) Wearing a full-face helmet

  16. Beardface says:

    Oh God, a TVTropes link :O

  17. Jeremiah says:

    So, the Normandy SR-2 approaches Omega and they’re able to detect the ship & “tag” it, determining what the ship is and that Shepherd is on it.

    In the rest of the universe thus far only Collector ship’s (maybe the Reaper’s, too?) sensors are able to detect stealth systems like the Normandy has.

    Therefore, Aria is teamed up with the Collectors!

    • Jeff says:

      The stealth systems are only for emissions, you’re still visible. You’d also need SOME sort of interface to dock, it isn’t like you can pull a boat up to shore and slip into town.

      It’s less that Shepard’s recognized, and more that the thug was deliberately sent to greet you because Aria’s aware of your presence. The initial greeter doesn’t know you.

      I think you’re also not supposed to have a new face in-universe. Though that doesn’t explain how Tali recognizes me underneath a helmet…

    • Jabor says:

      Alternatively, the Normandy’s stealth systems were the most expensive part, and Cerberus decided to go for a … more cost-efficient design.

      Which might also explain how they were able to afford the rebuild.

      • Ringwraith says:

        The stealth systems don’t work when the ship goes into or is just coming out of using it’s FTL, as Adams put it, “It’s like setting off a massive flare” as all the wavelengths of radiation generated by FTL can’t be captured by the Normandy’s radiation and heat sinks, denying stealth.

    • DougO says:

      *pssht* Joker: “Omega Control, this is Normandy, requesting docking clearance.”

      OC: “Reading you Normandy. Stand down your stealth suite for traffic control.”

      [OC Tech 1, off-mike to tech 2: “The frack? That was that Spectre’s ship, the Big Damn Hero everyone was talking about. Look it up in our Ships-We-Need-Aria-To-Know-About, stat!”]

      OC Tech 2: “Close but…I’m guessing it’s a Mark-2. Commander… Sheppard, that was her name. Must have faked her death.”

      OC Tech 2: “Hey, greeting grunt, if Sheppard gets off that ship, make sure they know we know it’s her, and send her up to see the Boss.”]

      • Another Scott says:

        Yeah this works

        • PurePareidolia says:

          Yeah it does, I mean it involves them lying about how they found out about you, but I guess they were doing that anyway – I mean, I’m fairly sure you start in the terminus systems after leaving the Cerberus base so you didn’t “arrive” there regardless.

          And I mean is an asteroid really going to have the long range communications systems to monitor and identify every ship that enters the terminus systems – presumably thousands of lightyears across?

  18. Zagzag says:

    I’ve just about got used to the new format and this series is posibly the best so far. Are there specific episode release days, or will they just turn up when they’re ready?

  19. SpammyV says:

    Anyone else getting Pulp Fiction stuck in their head from all the times we’re going over Aria’s line?

    Josh had better play careful or we’re going to have a Kroger beating up Shepard and yelling “WHAT DOES ARIA T’LOAK LOOK LIKE?!”

    • Integer Man says:

      I’m picturing a Kroger employee doing that to Shepherd when he does his/her grocery shopping. Fairly awesome mental image.

      Do believe you meant Krogan.

      Speaking of Krogans, fun fact: ME2 has Krogan Poetry. I laughed so hard after I got the reference to H2G2.

      • SpammyV says:

        I meant Krogan, yes, but I thought it was funnier to call them a Kroger. It was also the first thing that came to mind when I thought of them. For bonus points, a Krogan working for Kroger.

        “WHAT? WHAT AIN’T NO PLANET I EVER HEARD OF. THEY HAVE UNIVERSAL TRANSLATORS ON WHAT?”

  20. Aelyn says:

    Love the new format. I find myself anticipating the next installment.

    With that, I literally just finished ME2 for the second time. There’s a quest later on that came to mind due to the rant above. You go rescue a ship that got attacked while responding to a fake distress beacon. After saving the ship, you’re asked to go disable the beacon.

    In another star system.

    Uh… what? So did the ship get attacked over at the beacon and just drift a star system or two? Oh, the bad guys took it for a joy ride and left it in a decaying orbit around a planet a couple star systems away when it ran out of gas. Right… gotcha.

  21. chiefnewo says:

    This is an odd complaint as it actually speaks to the success of what you are going for: You’ve succeeded in making me feel like I’m on the couch there with you, but no matter how loudly I scream you won’t respond to anything I say!

  22. Jokerman89 says:

    In Mass effect 2 i though they did a much better job at making all of the Asari you meet look different. Much more than they did with the first game.

  23. Marlowe says:

    So Revan (Shepard), escapes the clutches of the (Jedi) Council and arrives on Taris (Omega), which he finds controlled by criminal gangs (mercenaries), such as the Black Vulkurs (Blue Suns) and he has to negotiate with them in order to gain access to the lower levels and help them eliminate their enemies (but he double-crosses them), which have been quarantined because of the Rhak Ghoul plague. Revan (Shepard) meets a Doctor who wants to find a cure for the plague and to distribute it for free to help the whole population but the local crime lord wants it for himself so he can profit. The Doctor’s assistant is kidnapped by mercenaries (is working for the crime lord). Oh, and Revan (Shepard) walks past this dude preaching on the street about the evil of aliens (humans).

    So, yes, this game did make a good substitute for Knights of the Old Republic.

    • Irridium says:

      You could do that with most Bioware games.

      You must get accepted into a special order(jedi/Spectre/Grey Warden) to fight a great enemy(Sith/Reapers/Blight). The people in charge(Jedi Council/Council/Royalty) aren’t much help so you gather a bunch of people who are each archetypes to fight the big boss(Malek/Saren, Human Reaper(lol)/Archdemon) and bring peace to the land(Galaxy/Another Galaxy/Fereldan).

      And thats the core of a Bioware game. Each has its own special set of RPG tropes, but you get the idea.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        To be fair,there arent many unique plots in the world.Maybe a few dozen altogether,or less.Its how you tell them that is unique.

        • Avilan says:

          Somebody once said that all unique story telling plots were used about 10 minutes after our ancestors sat down around a camp fire for the first time.

        • acronix says:

          Nice excuse, but it doesn´t work for me. Bioware has been retelling the same plot over and over for the past…what? Four or five games? The only difference between them is the setting, everything else is pretty much the same. So they are not really telling it in a unique way each time; what they are doing is like reading Red Riding Hood to their children, but making her first a medieval lass, the next time she´s a cyborg, then she´s a kung fu master, then she´s IN SPACE… you get the idea.

          • Avilan says:

            The point is that yes, Bioware are closer in their retelling than a lot of other writers, but you do bring up the reason.

            All modern stories are either basic or elaborate retellings of ancient stories.

            I for one enjoy Bioware’s efforts even after noticing the pattern. They do what they do best.

            …By the way, this is why Dragon Age II, if they keep their promises, will be a break for them. It will not be the exact same story as before.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Yes,yes,and blizzard is basically retelling the story of lucifer over and over.Warcraft in particular is just a bunch of sons(both literal and metaphorical)who are rebelling against their fathers.Starcraft a bit less so,but still very much.

            And planescape torment is just retelling of old greek myths about people going into underworld in order to live forever.

            Does that mean planescape and starcraft are not the literary masterpieces everyone praises them to be?

            • acronix says:

              I´m sorry, I don´t remember seeing the writers of Planescape doing three or four games about that subject*. They may have, though, in which case I´d be happy if you could point me to them so I can start rambling against them too.

              Keeping the “plot trend” in sequels, like Blizzard´s doing (except for Warcraft III, which appeared to me a lot like the fantasy retelling of Starcraft), isn´t what I´m refering to. After all, the sequels subjects and plots will be defined by their predecessor´s. In that sense, Bioware didn´t anything wrong with ME2, since it continues ME1. However, they DO have a bunch of games set in different universes and time periods that keep the same subject and structure. That´s what I´m talking about.

              EDIT: Unless you meant that they made up the original greek myth.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                About planescape:So its ok when you rip someone else as long as you dont rip yourself,is that what youre saying?

                About blizzard:I wasnt talking about sequels in warcraft,but about repetition inside the warcraft universe.First,you have the titans and sargeras as the original warcraft lucifer.Then we have kil’jaeden repeating the thing.Then the lich king,then artas.Yes the details differ,but its basically the same story of betrayl from the bible,in one single setting.

                But that doesnt make warcraft lore bad,heck no.Warcraft has a very rich,very well done lore,with interesting details and wonderful stories.So what if the plots repeat themselves?Plots are just the source.They are few,and bound to repeat.Its where you go from that source that matters.

                • krellen says:

                  Warcraft had well-done lore before World of Warcraft came along and Chris Metzen forgot he had ever written anything before, anyway.

                • acronix says:

                  As you seem to like agressive questions, I will continue the trend:
                  So it´s all right to sell the same tale as a different one because I made it “IN SPACE”, is that what you are saying?

                  Anyway, I disgress that question. What I´m saying is that exploring new topics YOU hadn´t explored is all right. Exploring the same topics over and over while only changing the adjective of the setting (medieval, fantasy, in space) and the secondary plots isn´t. Because, you know, you just explored it.

                  Warcraft: You weren´t talking about the sequels, but I think the introduction of Kil´jaeden and the Lich King happened in those. I could be wrong, though, since my interest in warcraft lore is very rusty.
                  Again, I have nothing about continuing the topic in a saga. I´m against continuing the topic BEYOND that saga and into unrelated universes. Like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, if you want recent examples from the same developer.

                  And yes, it´s where you go to from the source that matters, I agree. A great writer may be able to make a wonderful story based on the concept of “Knight rescues princess from tower”; but you would really think he was a great writer if he kept doing the “Knight rescues princess from tower” over and over again while going to the exact same place every time? Because that´s what Bioware has been doing: retelling the same thing, using the same source, and then never bothering in searching for other routes for it beyond setting.
                  Except for side-stories, that is. Those are a bit hard to correlate to each other.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  @krellen

                  That was all before world of warcraft.I first read it as a flavor text when warcraft 3 came out,and I have a feeling it was written way before that.

                  @acronix

                  Or how about the same tale,but just made “in fantasy”?But no matter what I say about warcraft 3,it still was a good game,even though it drew so much from starcraft.It still had plenty that made it unique.

                  Oh,you mean you are against starcraft(doing the lucifers fall in space)and diablo(doing a bit of literal lucifer setting)?Thats 3 settings,having the same underlying theme of good guy becoming bad and betraying his friends/the world to become the “devil”/the devil.Yet all 3 are unique,despite that.

                  True,bioware is telling the same story in different settings,but they are doing it in a unique way every time.Yes,the main story goes almost the same way,but its the side quests and npcs that make it different.So they are changing the setting and characters,but keeping the story the same.Is it really that worse than changing the story but keeping the setting and characters?

                  And are you saying that terry pratchet is a bad writer because most of his books start with “in space there is a giant turtle,carrying 4 elephants on its back,who support a flat world on theirs”?Its the same plot 38 times.And usually it revolves around something threatening to destroy the world,and someone unwittingly stopping it.Is discworld saga a bad saga because of that?Is it bad because its repeating is jokes sometimes,only told with different angles(antilight,antiwarmth,etc)?

                  Or how about asimov and his stories about a guy faced with mistery,goes to some other planet to think of a solution but is proved wrong,goes to another planet(city,location)to think of another solution but is proved wrong again,goes to another planet and thinks of a third solution,but is proved wrong again,but finally has an insight and shares the real solution in the very end.

                  What Im saying is that if you decompose any story to its raw components,of course it will be exactly the same as millions of others.But the story is not just its plot.The setting,the characters,the narative,all of those are very important.In fact,the basic plot is probably the least important thing of any story.

                • krellen says:

                  That was my point, Daemian.

                • acronix says:

                  @ Daemian:

                  (…)”It still had plenty that made it unique.”
                  (…)”Yet all 3 are unique,despite that.”
                  (…)”Is it really that worse than changing the story but keeping the setting and characters?”

                  Read carefully. I never implied such a thing. What I implied is that I´d prefer them to use the uniqueness they are capable of in the main plot as well as in the characters and side-stories they do so well. Those game may have “plenty” to make them unique, but the unique-ness doesn´t come from the theme or the plot, which is the same all the time. Why can´t they use that uniqueness they clearly have to make a new* theme?
                  So yeah, I´m against Diablo. And I guess against Starcraft too now, since it looks like it was just Warcraft in space! in more aspect than the RTS mechanics.

                  And are you saying that terry pratchet is a bad writer because most of his books start with “in space there is a giant turtle,carrying 4 elephants on its back,who support a flat world on theirs”

                  I said before that I don´t see anything wrong with keeping the theme if you are writting in the same setting. Pratchet always starts with the same tortoise? Then it means it´s the same setting. If it the same setting, he may keep the theme. He didn´t make another world for each of his stories. Not that I know of, anyway.

                  “Or how about asimov (…)”

                  Never read him, so I don´t know enough details to give a proper opinion on his work. But yes, if those are different universes, then I´m sure I don´t want to read him.

                  “What Im saying is that if you decompose any story to its raw components,of course it will be exactly the same as millions of others.”

                  I agree, but that wasn´t my point. My point was that it isn´t a valid excuse for one to write the same plot every single time.

                  “But the story is not just its plot.The setting,the characters,the narative,all of those are very important.In fact,the basic plot is probably the least important thing of any story.”

                  Then why bother putting it in, if it is so unimportant? Why not make a long chain of side-stories connected only by its characters?

                  *New as in unexplored or untold by them.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  So,youre saying that capcom writes better stories than bioware because they are keeping the same setting?

                  Interesting thing about discworld series is that it jumps between regions,planets and dimensions(there are even crossovers with our own dimension),so Im not sure how youd define that setting.It uses the same logic of hitchhikers guide through the galaxy,meaning that everything is possible because of the rule of funny.So how would you define a setting then?With discworld,not even laws of science remain the same.And following that logic,one could argue that all bioware games are in the same universe that changes completely in regular intervals.Would that make the repetition ok?

                  Isaac asimov is considered one of the best sci fi writers of the 20th century.He is also the one we should be thankful to when we finally make true ai,and it doesnt enslave us( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics ).

                  “Then why bother putting it in, if it is so unimportant? Why not make a long chain of side-stories connected only by its characters?”

                  That would also be a plot.And those side stories,theyd all have their plots too.Its like asking “Why do rivers have sources,when those are so small compared to the rest of the river”.Thats what plot is:The source.Its just a foundation to the story.And just like dozens of radically different buildings can have the same foundation,so can radically different stories have the same underlying plot.krellen said it very well below “Loving a game for its “plot” and loving it for its story are two entirely different things….”

                  And really,I dont get peoples obsession with the plot.Venus,earth and mars are basically the same thing:Rocky celestial bodies of spherical shape,with molten cores and atmospheres,and they all orbit the same star.So you could say that these three planets have the same plot.Yet their stories are different in uncountable ways.

  24. (LK) says:

    You guys spend a lot of time making fun of the game for just throwing you in among this horde of people you dismiss as just being terrorists, but I think you’re missing the point. You’re supposed to ask those questions, and the answer is supposed to be that there’s more to a cause like that than flat characters who are just terrorists.

    If there was a bioware 50 years ago, they would have placed the protagonist in this situation surrounded by people who on the surface are just subversive communists… and then forced you to ask the question of where the organization is getting all of these seemingly normal, competent people if they’re just stupid evil commies.

    I think Bioware is trying to make a commentary on how flippantly people apply the label of “terrorist”… which they do kind of botch by doing so with an organization that really does murder people

    • Shamus says:

      I would love to be able to see the game this way. I am 100% in favor of a group of shades-of-gray operatives, but everything in the first game worked to set up Cerberus as the most two-dimensional incompetent buffoons. It’s like if Cobra Commander stepped down and put Starscream in charge.

      Again, if they had planned ahead, this could have worked.

      • (LK) says:

        This may just be an artifact of the fact that in the first game, Cerberus was just a flat antagonist presence, and it was only decided to tackle this angle with them after the release of the first Mass Effect.

        Sort of like all the retcon you see in the comic book world where suddenly a character or element which was not properly set up for something in the past is siezed hold of and used to do something different.

        It really doesn’t work, because Cerberus in the first game really was just this one-dimensional stereotypical terrorist organization, but that might just be because it’s a sloppy retcon.

        (and I should point out that if you’re just making fun of the fact that this is a really sloppy lack of continuity, then there’s really no good way to disagree with that. It totally is incongruous)

        • Avilan says:

          In fact, when you look at it, Cerberus has in this game been replaced by the three gangs. Especially Blue Suns, who seems to be the gang most into going into business for themselves rather than just serving others (Eclipse, other than on Illium, tend to be body guards or hitmen. Blood Pack other than on Tuchanka are just hired muscle. Blue suns are pirates, entrepreneurs etc etc).

          This happens a lot in stories; when you elevate one villain to anti-hero or at least a 2- or 3 dimensional character (or organization), you need to bring in another “flat” “evil” enemy to take his / its place.

      • silver says:

        Nevertheless – once we accept the silly idea that they built the ship, we can safely presume they built it so their mooks could crew it, and not really complain about their mooks being the crew.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Main problem is that Shephard, the player’s presence in this world, goes along with this without being given a chance to see proof that Cerberus aren’t the baby-killing, kitten-stomping bastards they tried so hard to look like in the first game, or any kind of force compelling cooperation.
      Shephard having a little monologue about these guys probably having a kill-switch in his/her body or needing his/her nanites recalibrated regularly by Miranda would sort of explain going along with the first few missions and let us realise these people are just reckless rather than actively evil.
      Then you could do Miranda’s loyalty mission at the earliest opportunity so that she either tells you that there’s definitely no kill-switch or recalibrates your nanites whatever you do, leaving you free to have fun cutting Tim off whenever he asks for a report.

      Really, that’s a tiny, insignificant band-aid, but it would actually explain why Shephard doesn’t just cap a few fools and split. Even putting a member of the original Normandy crew in the tutorial area would help. The current guy is an attempt at doing this without doing this, since he’s ex-Alliance military, but to us, he’s just some dude. Hell, I can’t even be bothered to remember his name. At least if we had someone we think Shephard should trust telling us to give these guys a chance, we might excuse the railroading. But we’re given a choice between “Don’t wanna, but OK” and “Hell’s yeah!” with no explanation or motivation.

      • BanZeus says:

        There’s a perverse part of me that hopes when they release ME2 for the PS3 they include the option to be as uncooperative as a lot of people seem to want.

        All of these choices are an instant Critical Mission Failure because Shepard chooses to sulk and let the Collectors win. You get a Dirk the Daring style cutscene of Shep getting melted into goo.

  25. Irridium says:

    Its not that swearing in games bugs me, its just swearing just to swear. Or swearing just to try and seem “serious” or “edgy and cool”.

    Saren never swore, and I took him more seriously then most of the characters in ME2.

    Andrew Ryan swore like, once I think, and he’s a far greater antagonist then most.

    Basically, swearing =/= mature, or serious, or edgy, or cool, or hardcore. If your having your characters swear for those reasons, your doing it wrong.

    Unless the swearing is in the character’s, well character. But most of the time that character just ends up looking like a kid who just learned how to swear.

    • Aldowyn says:

      swearing in character = Jack.

      The swearing is part of the whole darker thing going on with ME2. Most of the time it fits – it certainly doesn’t have a “Kane and Lynch” effect. Sometimes swearing really is the most appropriate thing for the situation.

    • aegof says:

      Man, after his temper tantrum after Eden Prime, I couldn’t take Saren seriously at all. Meanwhile, Aria’s one of my favorite characters in the series! I don’t think I really took note of her potty mouth, honestly.

      • Irridium says:

        I figured he was drunk. I remember him knocking over something and I just thought it was a bottle of some exotic Turian drink. So yeah :P

        @Aldowyn: I know, I was referring to the games that put in swears to be mature or edgy or cool or what have you. If it suits the character, I don’t mind it. If not, then it just seems stupid.

  26. fscan says:

    i could be wrong, but wasn’t aria involved in securing your body from the shadow broker (comic? book?) ? so, she probably knows that it’s you on the cerberus ship that looks like your old ship :)

  27. Aldowyn says:

    hey guys, just so you know.. that stealth system can be on for a grand total of hours, and that’s with subspace flight. It doesn’t work at all with FTL.

    It’s for covert ops, not running around the galaxy with no one seeing you.

    I see what you mean about Aria, though. She has about the same role as Liara on Illium, except the latter is, well, herself. It at least would have been interesting if she could do more than just feed you information about Omega.

    • guy says:

      It worked plenty well to avoid a massive planetary blockade with perhaps the most advanced non-reaper tech known in the first game. I expect that effective sensor range is shorter than a light hour, which would be about how far it could presumably go in that period. I personally assumed it just wasn’t turned on due to lack of need.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Yeah, probably not turned on. And that ship is kind of conspicuous.. oh look, it’s a normandy, with Cerberus logos. Must be Shepard working with Cerberus, that’s kind of strange.

        Not that it would have mattered. I’m sure Aria has sensors strewn all across the system, if not the entire sector.

  28. Some random funny ME2 vids on youtube to hold you guys over to the next SW episode ;)

    Gotta love BioWare’s talent for “coloring” the world you are in:

    Shepard deals with Classism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuYFEetWk5c

    Shepard finds out that chicks DO look prettuer after a drink http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18_bt9_6mJU

    Some lampshading of all the sexual females in ME2? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjQH_IerdOs

    Someone at BioWare knows their space science http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GqqDCe4Yrs

    And this one is for the Tali fanclub members (nudges Rutskarn) since this won’t be possible in the SW playthough http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt9wjcmtnh8

  29. kretyos says:

    I think Cerberus deliberately spreads the word. They want to use Shepard a leader and figurehead to rally support for there cause ( and use her fame and hero status to make themselves look good).

    I’m glad that finally I can see the story and the other great parts of this game without gameplay parts that irritated me.
    It has a feel of an arcade shooter with short linear levels (complete with level completed screen showing statistics)and with upgradable primary weapons (weapons) and secondary abilities (skills).
    For me one of the important thing in a good RPG game is the different character builds, that the game primary test the abilities of the character (role) and not the actor (me).

  30. Jokerman89 says:

    I do think doing a retcon on an existing group is better than creating a new one out of nowhere that had no place in the first game.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Only if it’s done well. “Hey, why did we never hear about these guys before?” can be answered with “Space is big, I mean, really big.”. “Hey, who wrote this crap? These guys are acting out of character!” is a bad question to put in someone’s head, and it could be avoided by various nefarious and non-nefarious means of forcing Shephard to tolerate Cerberus until the story gets around to making it clear there’s no other option.

  31. Neil Polenske says:

    “Now, I know some people are going to want to jump down to the comments and wrangle a bunch of justifications that can make this work. Or at least, make it fail slightly less. But that’s not the point. The point is that you’re suddenly yanked out of a story when it stops making sense.”

    You don’t find this at least a little presumptuous? If I can provide justification for it, then it never stopped making sense to me and I would not have been yanked out of anything.

    But I love doing this kinda thing so I’ll do it now:

    1) It’s hardly outside the realm of logic to think a criminal organization would have information on peace keepers like Shepard. Being such a public persona would only make it all the easier to obtain intel on her over other Spectres.

    2) It’s not illogical to assume TIM notified Omega of her arrival in that “I loves to spread me some rumors I do” manner of his. My assumption about ‘tagging’ Shepard was just that it was macho BS on the lackeys part.

    3) Makes sense to me that they wouldn’t believe the news of Shepards death or care if it was true or not since it has nothing to do with them, so they’d hardly be surprised at her presence…or care. Speaking of nonchalance, why would they care if she’s working for TIM?

    Finally and this part is blatantly incorrect on your part to my knowledge:

    She NOT wearing a new face. It may be a new face in the GAME, but in the STORY, it was repeatedly pointed out to me that TIM kept you as you always were to the best of Cerbs abilities.

    • Shamus says:

      Those are all interesting justifications. Too bad none of them were in the game.

      • Fnord says:

        Well, we KNOW there was a mole in the Lazarus project, what with all the mechs.

        We also know that Illusive Man has been in contact with some people (Okeer and Warden Kuril at least, plus the DLC characters) about Shepard. We know that Aria tries to maintain intelligence on criminal groups, based on her response to the datapad you find in the Archangel recruitment mission. Including the Blue Suns, who Kuril and Okeer work for.

      • Irridium says:

        Hell, it would have been fine if Miranda or Jacob said “we suggest Omega first. One of our agents managed to get us a meeting with a crime lord by the name of Aria.”

        Is it perfect? No, but its better then what we’re left with. Which is nothing.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “She NOT wearing a new face. It may be a new face in the GAME, but in the STORY, it was repeatedly pointed out to me that TIM kept you as you always were to the best of Cerbs abilities.”

      Key part here is best of cerberus abilities.A massive reconstructive surgery is hardly going to make you look like you were before such extensive injuries,even in such an advanced setting.Especially when it has been interrupted.

  32. Avilan says:

    Question:

    Are there so many conversations and quests skipped because of time constraints (Need to go through this game fairly quickly), or are they skipped because of well… not paying attention and just running by?

  33. superglucose says:

    I know I am in the minority here but…

    I have played some of Bioware’s “best” games. Jade Empire (legitimately good), KotoR (legitimately good plot), Mass Effect (legitimately meh), and Dragon Age (… ok nothing to see here move along). They are not gods among men. They barely even scratch the surface of “impressive.” If you want to see driving storylines, take a look at Freelancer or Fallout. If you want to see fantastic characterization, KotoR 2’s characters were much better than the original. If you want to see divergent storylines, look at Morrowind or Daggerfall or hell even Fallout: New Vegas.

    The thing about Bioware is this: they can consistently make average and relatively uninspiring games that do a decent job of being entertaining but do very, VERY little to push the envelope or change anything. Look at Mass Effect 1 for example, the big highlight of that game was controversy behind a *lesbian sex scene*. I see people drooling over this game, about how “edgy” and “progressive” it is and how “brilliant” the writing is, but then I play the game and let me tell you something: with Mass Effect 1, they had what could have been the single most brilliant story in video game history by turning Saren into an anti-hero. Instead they took the cheap route out: he’s mind-controlled and selfish.

    So please, stop treating Bioware like they’re god’s gift to gaming. At best they write slightly above-average plots. I will give them this; however, they manage to invent worlds that could seriously lend to some ground-breakingly brilliant plots. Just, next time you look at a Bioware game (because now you’ve complained a LOT about the plots of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2), think about it this way: if it was a book, would you enjoy it? If the answer is no, then the plot is not very good. And I understand, a game is more than the plot. But the PLOT of a game is nothing more than the plot, and if you want to talk about the plot by itself, then *it must be able to stand alone by itself without the gameplay*.

    From what I’ve seen, the plots of most Bioware games (except Jade Empire and KotoR, Jade Empire was “WOW” and KotoR was “… that was cool”) are what I would expect from books at a reading level of 5th grade: the villains are all kick-puppy bad with no redeemable qualities (hell even Voldemort is intended to evoke pity; he fears death) so that we don’t have to have any of these “moral quandaries” where people might accidentally think for themselves and DECIDE for THEMSELVES what happened.

    A great example is Dragon Age. In the beginning, Loghain orders his army to retreat, leaving the King and the Wardens to die at the hands of the Darkspawn. Instead of Loghain being a “good guy” who saw the enemy army and made a decision of “Hmmm… there’s too many of them, and I don’t think we can win this fight” (which, if you did the missions before (which were required) you’d know that many of the sentries were thinking “this is altogether too many darkspawn), all mystery is removed when suddenly the grey wardens are traitors! Also I want to be king. Please make me king? Kthxbai. Loghain’s not some troubled and conflicted leader trying to do what’s best for his people (though they try to make him come across that way to absolutely no success… he seems like a dumbass rather than someone capable of the plans he’s been carrying out. Also his underlings are rutheless to the point of being absurd to bring us back to “HE KICKS PUPPIES CLEARLY EVIL KILL HIM NAO”), he’s a power hungry megalomaniac… like Saren! Like the Ambassador!

    Speaking of which, let’s look at another game by Bioware: Mass Effect. Remember how Saren had the whole cloning facility and Wrex went all emo because “My people are dying and Saren found a way to stop that from happening”? I got REALLY excited when I got there. I was SURE this was going to be one of the coolest and most epic twists in gaming history: Saren teamed up with Sovreign to correct the Genophage. After all, the Turians are the ones who employed the Genophage (even though the Salarians invented it), so here’s a Turian guy who seems to be rogue… working with obviously evil machines looking to erradicate all life… I heard that I can convince Saren to kill himself… now he’s found a CURE?! The plot of the story must be that Saren found Sovreign and realized that with access to that technology he could reverse the genophage, and knowing that it would be against the galaxy’s desires tried to hide it. It doesn’t explain the whole “attacking human colonies” but it does explain why he’s got an entire Exo-geni lab. Maybe he was attacking the human colonies because he got in too deep, and Sovreign convinced him that the answer to curing the Genophage lied in finding the last Prothean safe house. Maybe he’s a conflicted anti-hero: he knows what he’s doing now is wrong, but believes it’s for the greater good; who cares about a couple thousand humans today when compared with the survivability of an *entire species* in the future? Short-list for Best. Villain. Ever. Because he’s not evil, he’s a good guy. Good guys make the BEST villains because it’s HARD to bring them down. Good art provokes an emotional response, and killing saren would’ve definitely been tougher.

    But no, it turns out the reason for curing the Genophage? He needed to grow an army. Two things:

    1) WHY DOES HE NEED TO GROW AN ARMY?! HE HAS THE BLOODY GETH! HE CAN JUST BUILD MORE GETH! What kind of loony, completely impossible scientifically, absurd birth rate do the Krogan have that they can out-produce entire planets full of factories? Do new krogan get born and mature to adulthood every 30 seconds or something?

    2) WHY THE HELL DID HE NEED AN ARMY IN THE FIRST PLACE?! Absolutely nothing he does in the course of the game indicates that he needs an army to do ANY of it. Hell, showing up as a spectre, flashing his badge and being all, “I need to see this artifact” would raise much fewer red-flags than showing up as the admiral of a fleet of GETH, murdering a fellow spectre, and planting bombs across the colony. The only explanation for needing an army is so he can be a threat. The only explanation for his needing of a *Krogan* army was so he could be both a threat and a slave holder. That’s BORING. Any five-year old can (and does) dream up Dr. Horrible in their afternoon playtime. It takes true genius to dream up Dr. Horrible, the man who’s not really evil, but he wants to fit in with the cool kids and also hates Captain Hammer not because he always foils the doctor’s plans, but because Captain Hammer has the heart of the girl Dr. Horrible is in love with. How shitty would that have been if Dr. Horrible was just going around kicking puppies and not interested in the lady of the show at all?

    And here I have written yet ANOTHER rant on how mediocre, boring, and pathetic most of the Bioware games that people foam themselves at the mouth for are.

    P.S. I love watching your videos. It seems strange, I know, it’s just that the rampant fandom of Bioware rubs me the wrong way. Not that they’re bad, I just don’t think that most of their games are exceptionally good. Jade Empire and KotoR were wonderful, the rest merely… games. On par with Fallout 3 and Oblibbions, but not masterpieces like Super Mario World, System Shock or Morrowind.

    • Avilan says:

      It is just that some people like different things. What you call “nothing to see here” is the best game since Baldur’s Gate II, IMHO. Fallout 1 and 2… Decent stories, bugfests, with an immensely frustrating GUI.

      Different strokes for different folks, it’s as simple as that.

    • Shamus says:

      Getting irritated because someone else likes something more than you is not a healthy thing. It’s a great way to end up in a lengthy and futile slap-fight with fanboys.

      Nearly all of the games you cited as being “better” than BioWare games came from companies that have gone out of business. If Looking Glass miraculously rises from the grave and starts putting out games again, I’ll be the first in line with my pre-order money. Until then, we’re stuck with what’s left, and there aren’t that many. It’s basically down to BioWare, Bethesda, and Obsidian.

      If you’re raging about how RPG’s have been turned into a thin gruel of lightweight mechanics, few choices, and safe plots… yeah. But it’s not like I haven’t beaten that topic to death in the past.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Freelancer,serriously?The rest I get,but freelancer?

      And if you really want to see bioware shine,play neverwinter nights:hordes of the underdark.You cant have anything better than making the devil into a maid at your inn.

      As for sarren,you havent payed any attention.Yes,he is a generic villain on the outside.But bellow the surface,you get that he was a good guy,and that his goal was always to slow down sovereign.He knew he wouldnt be able to resist the mind control for long,so he decided to make himself as public as possible.If you look at it in retrospect once you talk with him in the end,it becomes clear that he was smart enough to know his limist and not blindly believe he alone can defeat this ancient being.Building huge armies instead of covert attacks,public show of force instead of surgical attacks,it all shows that he wanted to warn everyone,to make them prepare.So he was the good guy,but not one that wanted to purge the galaxy of evil,but the one who betrays his friends only so that hed have enough trust and opportunities to slow the villain down.

      And while it is true that bioware rarely shines in the mains story department,they are brilliant when it comes to establishing characters.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Freelancer had a fairly good plot. Not excellent, though good enough. Anyway, wasn’t the whole point of the plot was descend into a non-stop war sequence that set to constantly top itself? As it did and it was awesome.

        • Volatar says:

          No, Freelancer’s plot was a total assault on the Science Fiction genre. It was absolutely horrid.

          • Ringwraith says:

            When star systems are only about 100km across and you have a top speed of 300 m/s? Or when planets are only a few km across? You’re saying the plot is an assault on science fiction?
            Just saying it’s not big on the whole proper science fiction thing.

    • Neil Polenske says:

      Well to this I agree 100%. I didn’t play any of the old school PC games during the age of Looking Glass etc. I was definitely a console brat up until about the time of Half Life 2.

      If people were wowed by the plot of ME1 (or this one for that matter) I pity them. But plot wasn’t really the strong point of that game (or again, this one). As someone mentioned, it’s the high quality of the characters and dialogue that are so much farther than most any other franchise out there.

      Again I was all up in da consoles during the nineties, so if it was better in the ‘old days’…I don’t know about that. So from my head, this is standard videogame plot with high quality writing. I’m fine with that.

      Though I will ask, am I the only one who thought the shooter mechanics were better in the first one?

      • krellen says:

        Loving a game for its “plot” and loving it for its story are two entirely different things. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved anything for “plot” (but then, I’m well versed in Shakespeare, so all plots are old hat for me), but I often love things for their story – how they tell the plot.

        ME1 takes an old plot and tells it extremely well – it has a really strong story.

        ME2 takes an old plot and brutalises it in front of you – it has a really lousy story.

    • Fnord says:

      I doubt many games (indeed, many stories) can withstand a nasty, flippant critic.

      Take Fallout as an example. I think the story works quite well, but how does it stand up to this treatment (spoiler warning).

      Fallout, driving story? You mean a hunt-the-McGuffin first part, followed by “oh, there are these big ugly people running around, they MUST be a threat”. Yeah, really edgy move there, making the bad guys ugly monsters. Oh, and where there was an opportunity to have a moral dilemma, a chance to ask if the master has a point, if super mutants are an improvement on humanity if you look beneath the surface. But nope, they’re actually sterile; no destiny of humanity here.

      Same for Jade Empire:
      So, Sun Li wants to power of the Water Dragon? And the best plan is an elaborate conspiracy involving the single remaining Spirit Monk that could be ruined at any time if a Lotus Assassin happens to stumble in a few years early, or if the pawn just catches pneumonia and dies? Is it so hard for the Glorious Strategist to arrange an “accident” for his brother BEFORE he acquires the powers of a god?

      I say this not because I dislike Fallout and Jade Empire; on the contrary I think they’re quite good. But a combination of nitpicking and accentuating the negative can make almost anything look bad. I think you’re applying a double standard.

    • swimon says:

      Ok everyone likes different things but Morrowind as an example of divergent storylines? Really? Don’t get me wrong I will spend days proclaiming Morrowind as an example of man’s greatest achievements but it didn’t really do divergent storytelling. I mean how many choices are there total in the game? There were a lot of freedom to the game but the only real choice that I remember that you could make that changed the outcome of the plot is whether you kill Vivec or ask him for wraithguard

      EDIT: “They’re basically like gods because they sell drugs to like 500 people”
      you know just like gods do ^^

    • Kdansky says:

      Late to the party. But [i]damn[/i] do I agree with this.

      I was playing ME1 and reading Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga (book 1) at pretty much the same time, and I was appalled how everyone praised ME’s horrid plot and mediocre characters.

      And don’t give me “but it’s not a book”. Even movie plots can easily keep up with books, despite being constrained to just two hours instead of hundreds of pages. Games have all the advantages of both (text is fine, pictures are fine, films are fine, length isn’t limited (except by money)) yet they still fail miserably and can barely compare to Saturday morning cartoons from the 80’s.

  34. superglucose says:

    One other and totally side note since this is, you know, “spoiler warning”:

    I feel like TIM is a smoking gun. Knowing Bioware’s track record, it’s going to peter out into nothing, but i feel like there’s enough about him that you *could* make a case that he’s intentionally NOT working in Humanity’s best interest. It would explain why he hides so damn much from you (like the “deactivated” vessel a little later in the game, or why Cerberus seemed like they acted at odds with their philosophy in the first game) if he’s using blind fanaticism as a means to motivate decent sections of humanity to commit… well… a culling of humanity. Maybe he’s working for the reapers? I thought one cutscene showed that his eyes were definitely not quite… human. Probably my biggest disappointment from a storyline side of things (other than the “resurrerection” beginning (intentional misspelling) of course, that was just blah) is that TIM never amounted to anything more than a jackass boss who seems to delight in trolling his employees.

    But you never know, there’s always Mass Effect 3…

    • Dude says:

      It would be a fair bit of salvage if ME3 revealed TIM as working in the interests of, say, the Geth, being a Geth cyborg or something similar.

      It would be lifting a fuckload (gee!) of stuff from classic SF, but they already got Tigh and Helfer on board, and with Legion they’ve already lifted the good-machines-bad-machines bit from Battlestar Galactica so, why not?

      I mean, if what we’re looking for is a cohesive story or something of that sort. I’m perfectly happy speed running through the shit (whiz!) bits (anything related to ME2 plot) and getting to the good bits (the one hour character story bits). Just like The X-Files. Yeah!

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      With the fact that depending on the ending you either antagonize him or leave a ton of reapertech to Cerberus I’d say TIM is definitely not over. He seems to be one of those loose ends they wanted to establish to make sure people buy ME3. That being said there are just as many wrong ways to play this out as there are awesome ways. I never actually thought about him not being on the “human supremacy” side, if they turn this around (in a believable way) I’ll admit I fell for it hook, line and sinker and attributed all the Cerberus ineffectiveness to messy writing. It is unlikely he’s with the Reapers though, unless 1) he’s with the “good Reapers” that I theorise will appear in ME3 for no good or apparent reason or 2) there is some really, really messed up Xanatos gambit in the works.

      Also, yes, his eyes definitely aren’t standard for a human, could be just some “supertech” contact lens or bionic replacements/upgrades or could be something more sinister.

  35. ClearWater says:

    I read Aria and I thought yes! Rutskarn is finally going to sing.

    I was right.

  36. Dang it. Shamus I think your blog ate a comment post I made. it had a bunch of links to youtube with some cool humor found in ME2 (like the sarge berrating two privates on “eyeballing it in space” among others…

    Oh well…

    BTW! Shamus, did you catch the issues Gran Turismo players have these days? The online play servers where so overloaded that it caused (I assume) the DRM in singleplayer to choke when it tried to “call home” during game start and at certain other screens. *laughs*

    Ah. NM about the lost post. It’s just still stuck in the moderation queue. (due to the links I assume).

  37. Dovius says:

    On second thought, let’s not go to Omega, it is a silly place.

  38. Herman says:

    She probably has a spy in Cerberus. This isn’t hard.

    • Shamus says:

      And in my post I said making up justifications for questionable moments doesn’t cut it.

      Reading my post isn’t hard either.

      • kretyos says:

        I think while playing (reading, watching a movie) people use there imagination to fill out the word or make up justifications on the fly often without even noticing it.
        Probably for you and some others this was too big of a (plot) hole (and the bad start before this with TIM doesn’t help in gaining momentum either) but for others (like me) it wasn’t a questionable moment because the answer came naturally.
        Maybe it’s my imagination but I think that Ceberus wanted Sheppard not for her fighting skills (though you mainly use that), but because of her (in)fame and war hero status and her ability to lead, so for me thing like this and the emails felt perfectly natural because in my mind they actually “advertised” in certain circles (or generally everywhere) that Sheppard is working for them now.

  39. X2-Eliah says:

    I don’t know how to say this, but for me, this episode was seriously low on both witty/funny comments, puns, and interesting game-related stuff.

    I don’t know how other people are finding it, and whether your viewerbase has grow, but personally, this show is slowly slipping away from that “Omg must watch asap” status.

    • Squash says:

      it certainly seems like the viewer base has grown. And the show has got more professional in production since its early days. The contributors are still the same. Stick with it, I don’t think they’ve lost their mojo just yet.

  40. Patrick says:

    Glad to see the team is doing Mass Effect 2, and I really like the new, tighter format.

    I’ve never played ME2, but from watching the episode, I actually think Jacob being the only person who salutes Shepard makes perfect sense. (Kelly saluted Shepard in that scene as well, but I chalk that up to her trying to make a good impression on the boss.)

    Normandy 2 is a corporate vessel, not a military one. The crew might be just as well trained as a military crew (if not better), but saluting isn’t part of their culture. Jacob, on the other hand, is ex-military, as is Shepard. Jacob might salute out of respect or nostalgia or whatever.

    If that’s what the writers had in mind, maybe they could have made it more obvious with a bit of dialogue or something.

    SHEPARD: Jacob, I notice you are the only person on this ship who salutes me.

    JACOB: Well, Commander, these Cerberus guys aren’t too big on protocol. But I’m still an Alliance Fleet man at heart, and I believe in treating my commanding officer with proper respect.

    SHEPARD: That’s interesting, Jacob. I find you to be a believable, well-rounded character with coherent values and personal idiosyncrasies.

    JACOB: Thank you, Commander. I hope the audience sees that as well, and doesn’t just think I’m a weird nerd for saluting.

    Anyway, just nitpicking your nitpicking. Love the show, and hope it has long run. Oh, and while I think Jacob’s saluting is justified, calling him a nerd for doing it was, I think, the funniest part of the episode.

  41. Piflik says:

    I know this season has just started and will likely run for quite a while, but I would like to demand the next game to be Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines…I would even go as far and say you should abandon ME2 for it…(mainly because I haven’t yet played it and have to wait for the PS3 version to be released…thus I am torn between not wanting to spoil myself too much and watching the show…)

    I just love that game, despite its flaws…and it is really sad that Troika died over it…I find it has a great atmosphere and the level in the haunted mansion still scares me more than the entirety of Dead Space.

    Oh…and since I absolutely loved you deconstruction of Fallout 3 I would really see something similar for New Vegas…when (if) the major bugs are ironed out…

  42. RejjeN says:

    I don’t think you’re ACTUALLY wearing a new face in cannon, after all the whole point of the Lazarus Project was to restore Shepard completely, I think they just used it as an excuse for you to reconfigure your shepard’s face :P (How else do you explain your former squad mates to recognize you right away?)

  43. Double A says:

    Someone tell Josh how to melee before it’s too late.

  44. sebcw1204 says:

    soooo…., you guys still doing this?

  45. Nyquisted says:

    Do you think maybe Aria’s individuality and big voice actor are foreshadowing for ME3?
    Because I imagine a powerful crimelord might be a good ally against those pesky reaper folk.

  46. some random dood says:

    Talking about where Cerberus gets their crew from, they do poach quite a few from Alliance. Apart from Jacob, Joker and Dr. Chakwas, they also manage to persuade a couple of engineers to join (down in engineering, near where Tali ends up after she joins). Will admit, they are characters I like. OK, so the guy has a Scottish accent so typical for engineers on shows, but as that allows him to get a quote in that he’s joined Cerberus just to “…kick the Collectors in their daddy-bags” is worth it. (I made a point of frequently wandering down to engineering to hear their banter.)

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