Mass Effect 3 EP2: Now I Have A Machine Gun

By Shamus
on Aug 16, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

382 comments

Welcome to the next installment of, “Shamus complains for twenty minutes, starring Shamus and other people who might be trying to get a word in edgewise.”.


Link (YouTube)

So now for commentary on the commentary…

  • Protip: If you’re sick of the tutorial because, for example, you’ve done it once times already, the most expedient way to get through this opening section is to park your Spectre buns behind one of the conveniently placed chest-high walls and blind-fire until you have no moar boolitz. End of sequence.
  • I maintain that forming a “resistance movement” is ludicrous nonsense. When the enemy out-classes you by this much, you don’t waste human lives hitting it. You hide. You scatter. Not to get all Sun-Tzu on you, but you should never give the Reapers a target to hit. They don’t have morale, supply lines, or other logistical problems. Gather food and ships and never stop moving. Anything else is just pissing away human life. I don’t mind that Anderson stays behind. I just wish the game didn’t pretend he was running around, headbutting Reapers.
  • Re: “Humans are special”. The book I’m writing now (60k words and counting) is an attempt to make a sci-fi universe where Humans are NOT special. I don’t know if I’m pulling it off. I’m at the part of the book where I hate everything and want to scrap it. Again. But I’m pressing on. Wish me luck.
  • “Anthropocentrism”. Thank you for the very handy vocabulary, Chris. (Seriously: Anyone else notice how Chris knows basically all the words?) I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices this.

    Note how the aliens in the galaxy look more like us than the other mammals on our own homeworld. Like Chris said, they even relate to others just like we do. They’re basically re-skinned humans with the occasional quirk. (Most common quirk: Is a guy and is highly attracted to the human-looking Asari.)

    I know this is tough to overcome. In a game or movie, you want your aliens to have expressive faces and human-understandable body language, and you don’t want to blow a fortune while your art team tries to rig and animate some crazy scuttling headless thing in a way that the viewer can comprehend.

    Even in written fiction, it’s just much easier to give your aliens two eyes, moving eyebrows, a nose, and a laughing, smiling, smirking, frowning mouth. Otherwise every conversation will grind to a halt as you stop to explain how this alien emotes, what motions it’s performing, and how the current POV character understands it. (Just imagine a conversation with a sapient turtle. How do you know if it’s bored or laughing or confused?) That’s great if you want to write a book specifically about the different ways sapients might relate to each other, but if you’re just trying to get from ONCE UPON A TIME to THE END of your spaceventure, then a serious exploration of physiological diversity is going to kill the pacing and make the reader hate you.

    “Modak unclamped his mandible, set his shoulder ridge spikes upward, and brought his ears up to three-quarters upright. He held this posture for just a moment before returning his ears to normal and deflating his cheeks. When performed by females this was often a sign that the speaker was mocking your excess bravado, but since Modak was male it meant he was expressing agitati-”

    OKAY I GET IT THE GUY IS ANNOYED CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ON.

    It’s a tough problem, is what I’m saying. Having said that, I’m really, really disappointed that the Elcor and Volus were basically forgotten. In particular, the Elcor have always been a favorite of mine because of the way they attempted to engage this very problem.

  • I’m not even going to get into the many problems with Cerberus. We’ll have LOTS of time to heap shame on them later when they bring out the weapons-grade stupid.
  • Watching this again, I see Liara ISN’T wearing four-inch heels. Which makes the hip-swinging walk even more comical.

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!202020202There are now 382 comments. My website weeps for mercy.

From the Archives:

  1. Deadpool says:

    Larry Niven did a descent job into making non-human aliens with Pierson’s Pupeteers (and an excuse for when you DO find human-like aliens).

    • Keredis says:

      I recall one short story from a Writers of the Future competition where a species of alien was basically a giant puddle of mud that had to speak through a specific box. It’s ’emoting’ was basically limited to the agitation of the mud/bubbles and such, if I recall.

      Of course, that short story also had space whale biological gunships, so…

    • DrMcCoy says:

      Also done very well (IMHO) in John Brunner’s “The Crucible of Time”. The most common complaint thought does seem to be that it’s quite slow-paced.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        I found Crucible well done on its non-human physiology. The dissapointing aspect was that it was basically a long tirade about the decay of society and religion, so a fairly anthropocentric psychology. Consistently done though, and not too heavy handed. Definitely a good read for anyone trying to portray an alien clearly-non-human race.

    • False Prophecy says:

      It’s a comic novel, but the Yherajk from John Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars were pretty good: “We look like snot, and we smell like dead fish.” Finding a way to get humans to look past their disgusting appearance to ensure a peaceful first-contact is the main plot of the novel.

      • False Prophecy says:

        Oh, and there’s Alan Dean Foster’s The Damned series. I’ve only read the first book, A Call to Arms, so far, but it’s an interesting take.

        All the other races are generally some kind of anthropozoomorph–the avian race, the cat race, the amphibian race, the arachnid race, etc. And humans are special, but not for our intellect, or gumption, or culture, or tolerance, or thirst for freedom. No, humans are special because of our physical brutality. Humans are the most savage species in the galaxy–in first contact, a middle-aged musician cripples the veteran commando of the recon team with a wussy panicked backhand slap. The good guys decide to recruit humanity in their war against the evil empire, even though the human notion of total war is completely alien to them–and they apparently pay the price for this decision in the sequels.

        Humans are basically the krogan in these books.

        • Zimner says:

          I liked his Commonwealth books, too. He makes the aliens seem alien enough, but generally glosses over the exact physical details of emoting (they just “gesture amusement” and so on) instead of segueing into a xenological essay every time. Not that I can remember ever reading a book where the author did find it necessary to go into meticulous detail about every gesture, expression, etc.

          I mean, he goes into his made-up sign language on his website, but shows restraint in the actual books.

    • Keredis says:

      You know who actually does a REALLY good job with non-human aliens? Phil Foglio, in his Buck Godot series. There’s a HUGE variety of aliens, from bipedal nigh-humans to eldritch abominations. And it isn’t the sort of thing where everyone’s attracted to each other (although there is still a good bit of inter-species attraction); as the title character puts it, “Humans and Thuxians aren’t compatible. I don’t even know what to look for” when an alien complains about him seeing her undressed.
      I believe the ‘specialness’ of humans in this inverse is summed up by the following passage:
      “When Humanity joined the Gallimaufry [galactic trading community thing], the first impressions of established idea sifters were rather disappointing. Yes, they were entertainingly crazy, but their quirks were mere amplifications of other neuroses and psychoses that had been in and out of vogue for millennia.

      Then it was revealed that humans froze liquids. No big news there. The concept that electrified the Gallimaufry was that Humans stuck a handle into the frozen liquid and ate it! Still frozen!

      Shockwaves of tsunami-like proportion ran through the culinary schools of the galaxy. Entire industries were spawned and fought over, and at least two desert dwelling races were saved from extinction.

      And most important of all, when Humanity threw a party with refreshments, everybody came.”

      So that’s what makes humans special in that universe. Popsicles. Although some aliens believe humans apparently have a certain ‘non-linear quality’ that proves useful, on occasion.

      Although it turns out that humans ARE somewhat special, as they (and only a very few other races) are NOT interested in a certain MacGuffin that others worship as a God.

      • Jakale says:

        While Foglio does a really nice job at variety, most of the big alien players still follow the tweaked-humanoid two eyes on a top-most head with arms and feet model. I did really like the “every single race has a version of the mythical ninja” joke.

        To an extent, most stories featuring humans as a main player will somehow make them special, since it is a bit tricky to make them stand out otherwise.

        In the first ME, I kind of liked how they dealt with it. Humans weren’t special, they were just the new guys. In fact, they were, comparatively, sort of the teenagers of the space age. They got lots of new stuff, but they’re still cocksure and a bit sulky about having to learn about all these new races and earn the rights to stuff they thought they should be given right off, like the political powers.

        • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          Humans were a little special in the first ME -they’d imported the Aircraft Carrier concept to space, for example, to get around the treaty obligations. They were also unique among the spacefaring races that they didn’t have a central government -the Systems Alliance Parliament was more of a UN, while the nationstates back on earth ran everything. This was, I always gathered, part of the reason the colonies in the Traverse didn’t get any help from earth -they weren’t SA colonies, they were either independent claim jumpers or NS sponsored colonies.

          Of course, one of the major themes of the first game was that everyone was different from their first appearance. That seems to have fallen by the wayside with, for example, Wrex becoming far more of a meatheaded krogan.

        • methermeneus says:

          Yes, Buck Godot was one of the first things I thought of with this idea, but I also have a great example in written fiction that I haven’t seen yet here: Tanya Huff’s Confederation of Valor series. In that, there’s a reason that the races humans come into contact with the most often are vaguely built around the same physionomy: Those species, along with humans, make up the entirety of the Confederation’s military force, and beings that can’t communicate fairly easily at a glance don’t make a working army together. (This also doubles as an excuse for humanity’s “specialness,” in that they aren’t special. In fact, they’re considered horribly primitive by most of the Confederation, but since some other nation from the other side of the galaxy is trying to annihilate them, the Confederation needs a few species that haven’t evolved beyond the instinct for war to keep them alive.)

          The best part of the Confederation of Valor novels (in this context, anyway; the best part overall is the first two books, which are like awesome action movies in paper form, and especially the first, which is literally a sci-fi version of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift) is just how inhuman the non-military species are. Included among these are the Miktok, a massive arthropoid species, and the literary device of a species that is never thoroughly described, called the H’san (who apparently love humanity for a similar reason to the aliens in the Buck Godot universe, although not popsicles: They apparently can’t get enough of cheese.) Some of the Other species are even better, such as something kind of like a centaur but with a tiger instead of a human, and an insect-like species that communicates via pheromones, vague snippets of which the humans in the series manage to piece together. (I seem to recall that cinnamon was one signal they figured out, as well as Pine Sol.) And beyond all of that is the completely alien and incomprehensible being(s?) known as Big Yellow.

    • Scot Schulz says:

      Brin’s Uplift Universe does the not-remotely human aliens well, imho. There are entire classes of galactic civilizations therein which barely communicate because they’re not interested in the same resources. Of course, the series remains anthropocentric despite the setting because of the unique stituation of humans in the books. I felt the overarching story in ME1 worked well precisely because it suggested an interesting varient of Brin’s world-building, but all of that toppled horrifyingly in the nonsense of ME2 and ME3. Mass Effect: amazing potential utterly wasted.

    • Rariow says:

      I seem to remember one where the aliens communicated by slightly shifting gravity in their immediate area. Of course, this was a hell for the author to write, so he ended up just making them the BIG BAD GUYS, pretty much what the Reapers end up being.

      • Ciennas says:

        If you’re referring to the panuuri of Schlock Mercenary, they weren’t the big bad guy because of that. It was the whole annihilating a galaxy because it annoyed them, I think.

        • IFS says:

          They were annihilating it because the transport technology that was being used (teraports) was harmful to them, so they wanted to kill off everything that could teraport.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      On the toppic of humans are special. They were allready special in ME1. Most characters remarked upon how quickly humans mastered the ropes of galactic politics. How humans gave Turians a good run for their money in First Contact wars. AND how they are a likely future candidate for Council position after a mere half a century!

      And while I like me some humans are special story (humans are wariors, and humans advance/adapt terrifyingly quickly are my favourites) you can find the most likely scenario in our own world. Take any Pacific island nation, and that’s us. Teh people there are just as smart as us, but simply rest of the nations in the world have more of evry resource.
      Even if you restrict yourself to the Europe as Galaxy. Newly ariving humans would be like any Eastern Euroepan small country. It will eventually reach the standards of the rest of the EU/COuncil space, but it won’t ever amount to much in large view of things.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Gods themselves from asimov also has non human aliens,that even reproduce in quite a weird way.

      • Cyranor says:

        Jim Butcher in his Codex of Alera series does a good job of this. While the species are all humanoid the vord, the marat, and the canim all have very different social interactions and are conveyed quickly and coherently.

    • HiEv says:

      The problem I have found most irritating is not that most alien species look human (I can especially excuse this for TV shows and movies with tight budgets), but that even when they do look non-human, they still just act like an otherwise run-of-the-mill human in a weird body. Often they’ll give them a few weird social customs, in a poor attempt to make them seem less human, but they still think about things basically the same way we do.

      The best truly non-human alien story I’ve read is Eliezer S. Yudkowsky’s “Three Worlds Collide“. It starts off with first contact between humans and a crystalline alien race that not only eats their own babies while they’re alive, but believes doing so is a virtue and that not doing so is a sign of evil and selfishness. When they find out that humans don’t eat their young, they encourage them to give up their wicked ways and start eating their young. Then things get weirder when an even more alien race shows up and makes first contact with both of them (I’m not going to spoil them for you). It’s a really good short story if you want to see what some truly alien ethics and logic look like, and why it is “logical” from their points of views.

      I also liked the 1998 sci-fi movie “Soldier” (with Kurt Russel), because the “soldier” the film refers to, despite being human, had been brought up in such a way that his thinking was very “alien” to how normal humans think. It was just nice to see such a different, yet consistent, viewpoint and way of thinking portrayed well. Overall the film may have been just OK, but seeing a well done portrayal of someone behaving with such alien motivations really makes this movie stick out in my memory.

      Fiction really needs more alien aliens, rather than just aliens that look physically alien but are still mentally basically humans (or, worse yet, bland “kill all humans” monsters).

      • Paul Spooner says:

        Read “Three Worlds Collide“ and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’d say the third species is “right” but I suppose the point of the story is to get you to think, not to take sides. Interesting how his cosmic horrors ended up being similar to some of the scenes in Revelation. Thanks for linking it! I probably would never have found it otherwise.

    • Bryan says:

      B5 had a couple extremely-non-human species, Vorlons and Shadows. Several of the other species were still quite obviously humans in masks, and had pretty human reactions to things, but those two really didn’t. Or, I didn’t think so anyway.

    • Kaeltik says:

      Verner Vinge does very alien aliens well.
      In A Fire Upon the Deep, two of the main alien protagonists are basically sentient seaweed with masterful technical skills but no short term memory. They ride around in souped up wheelie carts that provide motility and external RAM. Their beliefs, desires, and other motivations are also inhuman.
      In half of the same book and all of the sequel, Children of the sky, the story happens on a world populated by canid groupminds. Emoting example: “Four of him bobbed their heads in amusement while a fifth positioned the telescope.”
      In A Deepness in the Sky, the issue of physically alien aliens is dealt with more explicitly, and very well. To say how would spoil a few choice bits.

  2. Eruanno says:

    They actually did one good thing with Cerberus. As I was playing the game and running into more and more Cerberus mooks, I thought to myself “BioWare is going to have a really terrible explanation to where all these people are coming from, or worse, no explanation at all.”

    There is an explanation to where they all come from, and it’s actually not bad. (Or maybe it is from some angle I haven’t thought about. Oh dear.)

    • Keredis says:

      “Where the people are coming from” is not a bad explanation, I’ll agree with you there. Doesn’t quite explain the body armor/mechs/spaceships/all other materiel, but it does solve the sheer numbers problem.

      • Deadpool says:

        Yeah, the Illusive Man is richer than almost any government in the Galaxy… And he has no known legitimate income.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          And no obvious means of illegitimate income either. So far, Deus Ex is one of the few where Evil MegaCorp actually seems to have some means of income and something to sell.

          • swenson says:

            There’s all those shell corporations, like Cord-Hislop Aerospace, in whose space station the Normandy SR-2 is built (and whose logo is the one everyone always thinks is Cerberus’). Some of them have got to be producing legitimate products. I’m not sure if that’s enough to pay for everything, but it’s a start.

            There’s also wealthy people like Miranda’s father who secretly donate to them.

            • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              And the Illusive Man holds the patent on velcro, don’t forget.

            • Thomas says:

              EDI talks about dozens of real corporations who are actually Cerberus fronts. And Ceberus also broker information which is one of the most powerful resource gathering means in the ME universe.

              The only thing maybe is that Shepard was meant to have strained their wallets. But it’s a war against unknown aliens and there were plenty of ways for Cerberus to war profiteer, especially since they were using Reaper tech

              • Keredis says:

                It does raise the question of, “If Cerberus is so rich, and the Illusive Man wanted you to succeed in ME2, why didn’t TIM just write you a blank check for weapon and ship upgrades?” I mean, they already spent a ton of cash rezzing you, they’ve obviously got several more tons of cash… why didn’t they let you have access to some of that? Instead of the paltry sum you’d get at the end of missions.

                • Thomas says:

                  That’s really what I was getting at in my second paragraph. I could understand that resurrecting practically bankrupted them and they had to dole you out money slowly as finances recovered. But they recovered an awful lot by the 3rd. With extra tech and war profiteering maybe… but it’s a little iffy

              • Jace911 says:

                I was perfectly happy to buy this explanation until I saw that Cerberus was fielding bloody cruisers (Enough to challenge an entire Alliance fleet if the penultimate mission is any indicator), and then I realized Bioware was just pulling shit out of their ass as usual.

        • Merzendi says:

          He has an income from blackmailing all of his former operatives. Since Shepard din’t pay, he leaked all of the evidence that you were actually working for him, rather than having just stolen one of his ships and not repainted it (which is the usual cover story). This stuff being leaked is why you’re under house arrest.

          Or am I giving Bioware too much credit on this again?

        • Entropy says:

          Actually, it’s explicitly stated in the novels, and I think somewhere in the games, that TIM has a couple of corporations who make money for Cerberus.

          Not that the sheer scale isn’t still ridiculous.

    • swenson says:

      Yes, I was pleased that there is some explanation. In most games, there’s just all these people, and somehow no one ever runs out of troops. (Case in point: seriously, how many hundreds of mercs did I slaughter in ME2? There has got to have been a solid dent put in the operations of the Blue Suns, Eclipse, and Blood Pack after I got through with them.) I wasn’t a huge huge fan of that whole segment (although it did succeed VERY well in creeping me out big time), but ultimately, it’s much better than the handwave of “well, they just have a really really good recruiting program that somehow no one ever noticed.”

      • StashAugustine says:

        It’s also kinda nice because ME2 sets them up as Well-Intentioned Extremists, whereas in ME3 they’re massacring Alliance personnel by the hundreds. Making it clear they’re indoctrinated slaves does make a lot more sense, and sorta-kinda-almost justifies their really stupid-evil approach.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well sure,”where do the people come from” is explained.What isnt explained is “where do the resources to turn all of them into soldiers come from”.

    • guy says:

      See, the main issue with where they’re getting the guys is the question of why those guys are Cerberus instead of joining a certain other group that recruits in the same manner and has a strong focus on mixed species combat groups.

  3. Ryan says:

    The problem with Cerberus is that bioware wants them to be ‘mysterious’ and ‘unpredictable’- the easiest way to make it difficult to assess an enemy’s motivation is to have them be unreasonably stupid.

  4. CTrees says:

    I actually thought some of the star wars novels dealt with the problem of emoting well, when talking about Bothans. Granted, theyre still basically rubber forehead aliens, but pointing towards movements in their fur was at once quick, understandable (from dealing with dogs and cats), and a fairly alien bit of body language.

  5. Phantos says:

    RE: Ashley and Kaiden being “insufferable” in ME3:

    Kaiden is a character I started out hating in the first game, and ended up liking by the 3rd. Maybe it was just because of all of the squad-mates who died in my playthrough, maybe it was because of that talk with him on the Citadel and on Earth. But I stopped seeing him as the whiny white-guy I never put on my team, and saw him as a guy who’s struggling with a lot of personal crap and just needs to be cut some slack.

    I still didn’t put him in my team ever. But by the end, I was finally glad he was still around. If ME3 deserves nothing else, I think it deserves credit for that.

    • Irridium says:

      That’s how I saw Ashley as well. Really don’t get all the hate towards her. Though I felt this way all the way back in ME1, but still.

      • StashAugustine says:

        Yeah, I always liked Ashley. She (and, I assume, Kaiden) didn’t get enough screen time in ME3.

        • Hitch says:

          In ME1 I preferred Ashley to Kaiden. One of the things I liked was she was an unapologetic xenophobe. That made her feel real and gave her friction with the rest of the crew and Shepard. I didn’t like that they toned that down and she spent most of ME3 looking down on Shepard for working with Cerberus. (I also hated the whole, I had no choice but to spend ME2 working with Cerberus and now I have to take shit from the whole galaxy for it.)

      • Dragomok says:

        If you want to know why some people hate her, read replies to this comment.

        • Hitch says:

          So I like her for the same reason most people hate her? Interesting.

        • Irridium says:

          So, because she’s a xenophobe and racist she’s hated? But… if you talk to her, you find out she’s none of those things. She just holds a bit of a grudge because her grandfather is the only human to surrender to aliens, which resulted in a stigma getting attached to her and her family which ended up hindering her military career. And if you talk to her further, you can make her realize that her grudge is a bit petty.

          She wasn’t racist or xenophobic, she just held a grudge. A grudge which, while rather silly, was understandable. And, you know, human. People have held grudges for much sillier reasons.

          I know people on the internet have a habit of over-exaggerating things, but damn. A grudge =/= full-on racism/xenophobia.

          • Shamus says:

            The big reason she’s called a racist is because many people misunderstand one of her lines. In ME she says something along the lines of people naturally being more inclined to save the life of a relative than their own dog. Some people misunderstood this as her saying aliens were no more valuable than dogs. But she was really saying that we shouldn’t depend on OTHER species, because they would abandon US for those reasons. That is, they might really like us, but they won’t love us the way they love their own kind. Not exactly an extremist position.

            I made the same mistake the first time through the game. It wasn’t until my second play that I realized was she was saying. A re-phrase would have made her beliefs a lot clearer to the audience.

            • NonEuclideanCat says:

              Might also be her idle comment on the Citadel:

              “I can’t tell the aliens from the animals”.

            • Irridium says:

              Hm… hadn’t considered that. Guess I just understood what she was trying to say the first time through. Thanks for the explanation.

              Oh, somewhat unrelated, you forgot to explain the policy for spoilers in today’s notes.

            • Corpital says:

              Didn’t Ashley say something like “I cant tell the aliens from the animals” when you talk to her on the citadel in ME1?
              Considering most animals are forbidden on the citadel that seemed pretty racist, but then again she disliked the pro-human protesters because they were xenophobic.

              edit: Obviously I am slower than the cat. Another proof that there should be more cats in sci-fi, since they are superior to mere humans.

              • 4th Dimension says:

                If whe didn’t know about that rule, (I didn’t know about it), than that comment, while a bit blunt, isn’t wrong. She simply couldn’t differentinate sentients, because everybody was WAYYY too alien.

                Then again I didn’t romance Tali/Liara EXCATLY because they are alliens.

              • Alexander The 1st says:

                I think that “aliens from the animals” line was a bit of lampshade hanging on the idea that the aliens looked liked warped versions of Earth animals.

                Elcor – Elephant.
                Volus – Dog (Specifically, I think Pug when I see them.)
                Hanar – Jellyfish
                Salarian – Frog
                Turian – Lizard
                Asari – Fish

            • anaphysik says:

              Yeah, except that’s ALSO a repulsive concept to me, the idea that you should care more about someone who’s the same species/clan/nationality/colour/shoe size/whatever as you than someone who is *your friend*.

              (Note that Ash’s viewpoint may certainly be more /realistic/ than mine, particularly in ME’s default ‘one species one gov’-type setup. Of course, I think we see far too many of those in fiction, and I’d much rather see more ‘multiple coalitions cut from the same sets of cloth.’ About the only time we ever see factions within a species is when we get multiple human factions.)

              • Taellosse says:

                But she wasn’t saying anything about alien friend vs. total stranger of your species. She was saying, if someone is forced to choose between the life of a beloved member of another species, and a beloved member of one’s OWN species, nearly anyone will pick the member of one’s own species, no matter how much the alien is ALSO loved.

                And she wasn’t ADVOCATING an attitude like that, she was merely saying that was natural, for everyone, both alien species and humans. She WAS saying it was reason enough to keep some distance between “us” and “them,” so she has a bit of an isolationist/self-reliance tendency, but it’s not xenophobia or racism.

          • Eärlindor says:

            Yeah, I don’t get the Ash/Kaidan hate. Ashely was definitely one of my favorite characters in the games (ME2 doesn’t count :P). For all the complaints I have about this game, one of the things I thought BioWare did wonderfully was Ashely’s continued development. I was really pleased with that.

            Ha! Kinda dropped the Kaidan thing. I think out of all the human male squadmates, he’s the best. He’s just a straight up decent guy who likes to contemplate things. However, I do think Kaidan’s problem is that his arc happened before the events of ME1 during his BAAT training with Vernus, so I get why people think he’s static.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I have the reverse view. In the first game, Kaiden was the single most level-headed member of the crew, the one who had the best grasp on the situation -even when driven to renegadeness he has the pithiest summation of the situation: “21 mutineers on a stolen ship to save the galaxy. Way to go Team Milky Way.” He was the anti-Carth-as-paraphrased-by-HK47.

      In this game: whiner.

      Shoot him, please. I’ve yet to have the honor.

  6. Deadpool says:

    I was annoyed at Liara’s introduction because she is in a vent, running away like a scared little girl… And then, after escaping the worst marksmen in the universe, the becomes an uber badass and casually kills them both.

    Y’know, Singularity would be SUPER useful in a tiny, tight, enclosed space… Like a GOD DAMNED VENT.

    As for the walk, the single worst example of this was Diablo 3 where Diablo gets a female host and a sexy swagger…

    Althogh Halo Reach gets honorable mention because I’m fairly certain I was supposed to be surrpised that the player character was female, but the first shot you have of yourself is your ass sexily swaying back and forth so…

    • Phantos says:

      I’m not surprised that Liara is all over the place in this scene. Bioware could never decide what to do with her.

      “Should she be a bookish nerd? No, wait, make her a bad-ass killer. No, wait, make her pandering, shallow sex-appeal! Now randomly jump between these three options.”

      STORYTELLING!”

      Each game, it feels like I’m supposed to think of her as this really important character, and really like her. Before the Extended cut, it’s her face that appears in a flashback instead of characters I actually made clear I was fond of. But the games never really settle on what she should be, jumping around between: “SHY, MURDER, TITS”. It’s like they lack confidence in her. And if the game can’t get behind this pile of discarded character traits that don’t add up, I don’t know why it thought I would.

    • Raygereio says:

      I was annoyed at Liara’s introduction because she is in a vent, running away like a scared little girl… And then, after escaping the worst marksmen in the universe, the becomes an uber badass and casually kills them both.
      ME2 team:
      “Hey, remember that timid scholar from ME1? Let’s turn her into an uber-trained, boobs-of-steel commando!!”

      Ugh.

    • Andrew says:

      Not really, I would think that in a tighter space like the vents the people caught in the singularity would be able to brace themselves on the floor and roof preventing any change in orientation. You saw that on of the cerbies tried to grab the vent as if to get back into it where he would be safer. While it might make aiming harder it does not seem like it would be to great a detriment when the person using singularity has no where else to hide(Like say behind a waist high wall.). But that is just my opinion on the matter, it has been a while since I last read the information on singularity and it’s effects on objects.

      • bit says:

        Also, there’s the distinct possibility that she might suck HERSELF into the singularity, or any number of unintended side-effects. (Eg. collapses the vent onto her) I don’t see why she didn’t use any of her OTHER powers, like putting the first guy in stasis, but the scene seems to fulfill it’s intended character-defining purpose; Liara is a competent fighter, who’s foremost a thinker.

        • Keredis says:

          Maybe using biotic powers requires the full range of body motion to do so (similar to casting spells in some universes, explain it here by being some kind of ‘crutch’ that isn’t needed but is taught because it makes using biotics easier to learn), and she couldn’t quite manage it in the vent?

          • swenson says:

            Ooh, that’s a good point. I know it’s triggered in humans by the firing of certain nerves, which is done by making the showy movements to move muscles and fire the nerves, etc. I’m not sure how it works in asari (as they’re born with the ability, they don’t have to have implants like humans), but it likely works in a similar way.

            Or even if it was possible in the vent, it may have been such a tight space, it would’ve taken too long for her to turn around, get in position, carefully set it up, etc. as opposed to just standing up and creating it in the manner she’s more familiar with.

            I assume she didn’t get killed because the Cerberus troops were also crawling through the twisting vents and she has a barrier up (I assume. Liara always does.). Also because she had Plot Armor right then.

            • Keredis says:

              That would have actually worked really well if there had been a point in one of the earlier games where they specifically go over that a restrained Biotic can’t actually use their powers. It would have been a nice touch.

              • Dragomok says:

                That would have actually worked really well if there had been a point in one of the earlier games where they specifically go over that

                As far as I know, that sentence pertains to the whole game as a whole.

              • Indy says:

                I think Jack’s restraints count but they never explain them. She only goes beserk when you release her after all.

                • Keredis says:

                  They also mention that she’s been in stasis, and it looks like she’s just waking up. Her restraints also appear very weak, only enough to hold her upright rather than actually preventing her from doing anything at all, given that she breaks out of them without even needing to use the standard biotic glow.

              • Alexander The 1st says:

                Well, it *could* be subtly intended to be induced…

                For example, if Stasis holds a person in place, what prevents them from using Biotics like Singularity to rip the Stasis field apart?

                In fact, when Kaidan talks about his biotic kick to Vyrnnus…from what I understood, Vyrnnus pinned him down and had a knife to his throat.

                But his feet may have been free. Or at least one of them. Slight quick movement…BIOTIC KICK! To the neck, which presumably allows for interpretation, I guess.

    • TheButlerDidIt says:

      The gender of Noble Six(the player character in Reach) is chosen by the player. I didn’t play with the female model, so I’ll take your word for it about the opening scene, but PC gender is in no way supposed to be a surprise in that game.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I actually didn’t mind that. It was a symbol of her transformation from a timid archaeologist into the world’s best, most badass information broker.

      It was for people who didn’t do the Shadow Broker DLC to see how far she’s come.

      • lurkey says:

        Eh, I didn’t buy her as badass then, I didn’t buy her now. Quoting your mum’s cool words out of context does not make you cool, Liara. Not to mention how she sucks at “Shadow” part of being Shadow Broker, given how many people know who she is, and these are only people we meet.

        (Note to self: remember to further bitch upon Bioware’s custom to cheapen its accidentally good catchphrases and memes by driving them into ground).

      • Sumanai says:

        She transforms from a timid archaeologist to a badass in the time it takes her to get out of the air duct? (Note that Deadpool is only talking about a change within this one scene, not across the games, even if that was the original intent.)

        • newdarkcloud says:

          We, no. Escaping from the vent to blow them to kingdom come is symbolic of her craacking out of her shell.

          And I’d imagine even a hardened badass would be just a little panicked at the prospect of being shot in an air duct.

          What the hell!? Since when was I defending this game?

          • Sumanai says:

            While I’m certain you know this, I feel an insurmountable urge to mention that symbolism is not by itself a valid justification for doing something that is, or may be as you can’t really know before it’s put in front of the audience, harmful for the suspension of disbelief.

            She doesn’t use biotics until she’s outside, and her expression does a huge jump from panic to “unflappable badass”, not helped by her walking animation. Then the aim of the enemies is just WTF-worthy. Those are enough that if symbolism was the motivation they should have scrapped the idea. Or overhauled it.

            I’m guessing she came through the duct mainly so there would be a reason why you can’t go back the way she came, and she used biotics while standing because they had the animation ready. Facial expression being the result of just not thinking about it, just like the model walk.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      It’s not just Liara’s walk. BioWare reused every single, solitary possible movement from everybody. I get that you want to re-use your animations, but please throw some variety in there so it doesn’t look like everyone in the game is acted by the same person.

      • Klay F. says:

        You know, story aside, this is what actually bothered me the most about actually playing the game. Nearly every single animation has been used and reused since the first game. There is so much recycling of assets in ME3 I steadfastly refuse to believe that it cost anywhere near the reported $50 million to make. The only what that would be possible is if the Bioware staff spent 5 man-hours playing foosball or pinball for every 1 man-hour of actual work.

  7. Lame Duck says:

    I’m not at all sure why the Reapers were blasting the little pissant shuttles full of escaping civilians, but completely ignored the military vessel that has twice been involved in wrecking the Reapers’ plans.

  8. Sozac says:

    I really like the Rachni. They see the world in a way none of the other races really can, and may still be like human bugs, but they still seem more alien than an Asari, volus, and other races.

    A “tip” for Shamus and his aliens. I don’t know how your storyworld works, but if it a first encounterish thing, try to make the aliens mysterious. Make them unrelatable and indescribable. And if you really want to make humans unimportant, maybe imply the aliens knew about the planet for a while, but were more interested in interacting with other alien races they found that seemed more important, and that humans were in like their backlog. Of course, you already wrote too much for this to actually matter, but its what I’d do if writing a story like yours.

  9. Klay F. says:

    Well there are certain schools of thought claiming that bipedal-ism might be a favored evolutionary direction on the path to tool-using intelligence etc.

    While this would most likely only hold true on planets with near-Earth gravity, I think its a valid conceit of the medium.

    One could also make a case that the way the Elcor and Volus are pushed off to the side, might actually be a representation of how analogous species might be treated in a real-life future. Bipedal life sticks together because its so much easier to relate than with those other weirdos etc. What I’m saying is that this area of the fiction/lore is ripe for commentary, but instead we get “space lazorz lawl”.

    • Raygereio says:

      Well there are certain schools of thought claiming that bipedal-ism might be a favored evolutionary direction on the path to tool-using intelligence etc.
      From what I know of them, those schools basically boil down to “Humans are awesome and perfect!”, often with some religious basis to it.
      I’m honestly not aware of any strong and logical argument for for why bipedalism is a favored direction.

      • Dragomok says:

        I’m pretty sure these schools of thought claim that since a bipedal organism uses only one of two pairs of appendages for moving, there is a greater chance that the other pair might develop into fine manipulators. Also, transportation of small-sized tools and delicate items is far more easier when you don’t need to reduce the number of legs you can walk on (ever seen a dog walk on three or two legs?).

        Unfortunately, these schools don’t have much evidence to support their theses other than “But but but… Humans…?!”. Velociraptors and eye-bigger-than-brain ostriches generally don’t have precise hands, while squirrels, racoons, gorillas, lemurs and chimpanzees do.

    • SleepingDragon says:

      Well, let’s just hope that those people who claim the evolution of theorethical other inteligent lifeforms would probably lead to something bi-pedal are right and not just biased. I mean, I’d hate to be that “bi-pedal weirdo” in the galacitc society of things slithering about…

    • Hitch says:

      The Volus are the short, round bipedal humanoids. I don’t see them as all that creative. The Hanar are a really interesting design for an inteligent alien race.

      They finally got away from it in ME3, but for the first two games the unique and special thing about Humans was they were the race with two genders. This was unheard of before.

      • Raygereio says:

        They finally got away from it in ME3, but for the first two games the unique and special thing about Humans was they were the race with two genders. This was unheard of before.
        There was really no need for female specific alien models. Saying humans can’t tell the difference between the genders (grab a random dog: can you tell the gender without looking at the genitalia?) or that aliens simply don’t have sexual dimorphism like we know it would have been perfectly fine.
        No, instead we need boobs on our Turians. Joy.

      • Deadpool says:

        How DO the Hanar build tools?

    • Tse says:

      Well, since all higher lifeforms on earth have 4 limbs the only way for us to use tools efficiently was to use only 2 of them for walking. If life had developed with 6 limbs, like in Avatar (I hate that movie, but it is a good example), intelligent beings could develop 4 legs and 2 arms or maybe 4 arms and 2 legs. It made no sense for the Na’vi to be humanoid, because that doesn’t make sense in their own world. I think that just shows lack of imagination, like the schools of thought you mentioned.

    • Thomas says:

      I was just thinking during this episode actually, that there may be some evolutionary basis for aliens having fairly similar personalities to humans. Because the process itself is completely centred survival of the fittest, there will be personality types that are better for that and the weird co-operative but also aggressive human thing with a huge jump in empathy depending on the closeness to other humans seems fairly optimal. You don’t get many animals at all that have a completely behavioural pattern, no matter what path they’re on.

      One of the nice things about Mass Effect in general is they put some thought into how the mindsets/physical appearances of the creatures would have evolved. Even if they did also end up making everything more human so it was cheap and understandable. (Boobs are the worst though, that’s not even a common feature of animals on earth)

      • StashAugustine says:

        To be fair, the only species with visible breasts other than humans are the asari. Come to think of it, what are asari- are they really mammals? They’re scaly and they don’t seem to have hair.

        • Taellosse says:

          There’s a subtle suggestion in one scene of ME2 that the Asari don’t ACTUALLY look nearly as human as we see them. In the bar on Illium, there’s a human and a turian taking a salarian out for a “bachelor party” and they’re getting a table dance from an asari. They each comment about how they think the asari look like their own species. There’s an implication that the asari unconsciously subvert the perceptions of every other sapient species to perceive asari as having features they find sexually attractive.

          It’s never officially confirmed anywhere, and there are other things that suggest otherwise (Liara is the only non-human squad member in ME1 that can wear human armors, for example), but I always thought it was a nifty implication.

        • Shamus says:

          The Quarians also have breasts. Beyond that, we don’t meet many females. Turian, Elchor, Volus, and Batarian are all male voice-acted and use male pronouns.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I can be up with this explanation for the volus. Quick, who knew that the Allies in WWII included China, Mexico,Brazil, and Ethiopia (and more). Mexico even had it’s largest contribution be financial and industrial, rather than military.

  10. Mari says:

    The key with introducing and explaining non-humanoid psychology and physiology is to only interject a sentence or two at a time. Choose one or two key gestures or other non-verbal “markers” to focus on, highlight them briefly, and then move on with the story. “Mordak unclamped his jaw and raised his ears partway. Jim puzzled over the gesture as he had only ever seen females do it to mock false bravado. But Mordak’s words made clear his agitation. “Blah, blah blahgitty,” he growled in his most irritated tone.”

    Of course, ideally, these sorts of interjections would occur occasionally throughout a whole body of work all set in the same galaxy which would eventually paint a larger picture of a complex and detailed world. Hint, hint. :-P

  11. Nimas says:

    Can I just say that all the annoyance and bile that Shamus is spewing is absolutely *hilarious*. It’s been awhile since I enjoyed a SW this much :D

    • Eärlindor says:

      It totally is. xD

      Actually, I haven’t heard much yet that sounds like petty complaints. I ripped on all this stuff on my very first run too.

    • Naota says:

      I feel bad for thinking the same thing when Shamus gave advance warning for his ill-tempered complainery. Don’t get me wrong, (more) objective criticism is something that should be aspired to, but a good old fashioned nerdrant can be enormously entertaining once in a while.

      Also, I’m having fun comparing my experiences with the first level of the game to these episodes. I had some similar thoughts on “the kid” and the Reapers, but had none of the inexplicable bugs, anthropocentricism, horrible puns, or cranky headache man commentary to keep me entertained. Now what would a Mass Effect game be without those?

      Not very fun to watch, that’s what.

  12. Keredis says:

    What I want to know is, why didn’t the Reapers hit Mars? It’s an important human installation, I’d imagine. Even if they don’t know that, you’d still think that they’d send ONE of their hundreds of Reapers to each planet in Humanity’s home system just to make sure that the pesky little humans weren’t up to shenanigans. Drop a few blobs of husks, maybe.

    Also, why didn’t the Reapers secure the Sol relay? If it’s the only way out of the System… why not have a few Reapers sitting there, blowing up anything that tries to go through? Prevent anyone from going for help, prevent any of the human fleet from escaping. It still could have been handwaved in terms of Shepard getting out, via the Normandy’s stealth drive.

    • StashAugustine says:

      They do hit Mars, it mentions them showing just as the Normandy’s hightailing it out of there.

    • False Prophecy says:

      Mass Effect is one of the rare space opera settings where it’s actually possible to straightforwardly anticipate and block enemy movements and communications. The galaxy is connected by a limited number of “bridges” and even if the Citadel races aren’t capable of cutting those bridges (Arrival notwithstanding), they sure as hell can amass forces on one side or the other. (Other settings that are basically Horatio Hornblower or the Pacific Campaign IN SPACE often talk about “blockades” and “border patrols” but they rarely make sense given how space travel works in those settings.)

      And yet rarely is even the most basic understanding of strategy ever on display in these games.

      • Keredis says:

        The Honor Harrington series does a pretty good job with blockades that make sense, since they’re usually put into place at certain “warp-gate” type places, where the defenders can basically destroy anyone coming through one by one (and attempting to route around would take a matter of weeks, if not months).

        But I guess it goes back to ME2: Why not just mine the relay?

        Actually, I just thought of a decent twist: The Reapers are huge and super-intelligent. But maybe they don’t have a grasp on things like logistics and such? I mean, they don’t need them, and it’s not like they typically need to exploit such weaknesses to destroy lesser races, so they normally don’t even bother to pay attention.

        But that idea falls apart when you remember that the very FIRST thing they usually do when culling the galaxy is, in fact, to shut down all the relays and cut off all communication/supply lines.

      • CTrees says:

        The Ender’s ______ series calls this out, pointing out that defense in depth in space is essentially impossible on any large scale. Of course, they go on to ignore that (see: defenses of the bugger homeworld), but at least they address the problem.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        One of the few things that gets explained in me3 is how reapers managed to go to earth bypassing the fleet.They used ftl in much greater proximity to centers of mass,which no one expected.

      • Thomas says:

        Did you read the battle codex’s? I thought they give a fairly realistic display of how tactics would work here. You’ve got to remember that they Reapers vastly outnumber and outpower the other forces in a straight fight, so if you’re blockading a relay it might not work.

        Turians had the best tactic, they blockaded their relay with spy drones to assess enemy forces, realised the superior firepower also gave Reapers a bad turning circle so parked right on top of them. But then the Reapers attacked Palaven, forcing the Turians into a more convential warfare in order to save their homeworld.

        I really loved those codexes. Shame there’s only 5-7 of them

        • Keredis says:

          I was wondering more why the REAPERS didn’t blockade the Mass Relays of the systems they invaded, cutting them off from reinforcements/preventing escape.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            They didnt have enough ships:D

          • Thomas says:

            Oh okay, that’s more reasonable. But they did do that didn’t they? That’s why the Normandy had to do all the salavaging, because it’s stealth drives could get through the relays. And the Alliance escaped because they sacrificed half their fleets to get to the relay. Not all the relays are two way so there was plenty of none reaper controlled space to jump to.

            I guess it didn’t make sense in the last battle. Except that the Reapers can only block the entrances to relays, not exiss. Because their size mean their strategic weakness is if an enemy warps right on top of them. So they’d be placing themselves at a disadvantage if they blocked the exits, giving the enemy the only possible tactical advantage, when they’ve got the firepower to just win straight fights otherwise.

            • Keredis says:

              How is their large size a strategic weakness? We’ve seen them simply decide to plow through enemy ships before, unscratched. I’d almost say that should be their strategy, if I were them: RAM EVERYTHING, and use your lasers to shoot down anything outside of ramming distance.

  13. Raygereio says:

    So yeah. The kids dies. This comics sums it all up pretty well:
    http://i42.tinypic.com/15n98w6.jpg
    I honestly laughed as the kid died. The whole thing was so badly constructed, it became silly.

    As for the whole Kaiden/Ashley divide. They are the same character in this game. Both do and say the exact same things. The only difference between them is that Kaiden is gay all of a suden. That’s it.

    Also, you know what bugged me the most about the Liara vent scene? Cerberus troopers are just a few meters behind her. Liara has no space to manouver and can only crawl in a straight line. HOW IN THE BLOODY HELL ARE THESE GUYS MISSING HER?!
    I wasn’t amazed at how awesome Liara was in her introduction. I was amazed at the incompetence of the Cerby-dudes.

    Well, that and I was trying to figure out how many cupsizes Liara had grown.

  14. False Prophecy says:

    Oh, yeah, this was also the game where apparently the Reapers start making Darkspawn. Husks are just the human version; then you get the bataarian version, the turian version, the krogan version–ugh.

  15. Sozac says:

    Well, I can’t edit my first post, like I usually do, but my other comment was in reply to reading Shamus’ video, post and I guess this comment is OT with the actual vid.

    Not a big Liara Fan. Vega is pretty good especially for a new character with less history than others. I liked Kaidan mostly because of his voice actor (which is also 1 reason I liked Carth as well). I still haven’t played a ME3 game with Ashley in it. Also, I think it’s stupid how Cerberus got so powerful when I basically wiped out every base I could find with them on it in ME1, and didn’t give them the Collector Base in 2. Yet they still get all this bullshit.

    Also, message to the dead Cerberus guys from the vents. “What’s it like to be worse shots than storm troopers?”

  16. silver Harloe says:

    If it’s third person omniscient, you can just tell us what the Modak is thinking and leave the physical description out. “The Modak expressed agitation, but Shamus didn’t understand the alien’s body language,” or “Shamus saw the Modak’s agitated expression.”

    If there’s a POV character (first or third person), and that character doesn’t understand the alien body language, then the reader shouldn’t, either.

    If the POV character DOES understand the body language, then you can skip describing it (or put it in an appendix) and just describe the POV character’s interpretation of the actions. “Shamus saw the Modak’s agitated expression.” It probably goes against “show, don’t tell,” but those six words are very economical compared to your paragraph.

    If there’s multiple characters you have a little more freedom:

    The Modak clicked and whistled, a moment later Jim’s implant suggested, “90% probability: ‘welcome to my home, nice human.” Jim started for the door, but Shamus grabbed his arm and whispered, “he’s being sarcastic, his body language is all annoyance.”

    Well, I’ll win no writing awards, but you get the point.

    • krellen says:

      “Show, don’t tell” is only valid in visual mediums. Books absolutely can (and often should) tell.

      • Naota says:

        I find the “show” part of the mantra to still be incredibly important in writing. It’s usually much more effective to write characters doing things or illustrate them happening naturally over the course of the plot than to have them sit down and convey exposition to the reader entirely through dialogue/stated fact. Obviously this doesn’t work in every case and isn’t always worth the word investment (pacing, coherence, and focus should have priority), but raw exposition should always be avoided where feasible.

        Better to explain Modak’s gestures in a way that carries the message intuitively than to have another character explain “Modak did this; that means he’s annoyed. Then he did this; that means he thought better of it. Modak’s race aren’t very sociable. They also look strange!”

        Ultimately these things should become apparent as the story progresses – not because the author put the plot on hold and started stating them outright. Nobody should have to explicitly tell us that Reapers are dangerous or Hanar are polite.

        • Cineris says:

          I used to struggle a lot with the writing advice to “Show, don’t Tell” because if you really take that advice to heart in the way that I did, you avoid revealing characters’ inner thoughts, emotions, or even using loaded words to describe their actions (e.g. “Sneering” a snide comment, instead of “Saying” it).

          If you really sit down and analyze ways in which authors “tell” rather than show, it’s quite a lot. You can pick any work of great literature and it’d be worse off to be written with a strict, “Show, don’t tell” rule in mind.

  17. Klay F. says:

    Please, Josh, please, please, please tell me you won’t be Charging and Slamming your way through the entire game.

    • Keredis says:

      Man, when I played this game as a Vanguard, I actually used weapons, and had a noticeable recharge time on my abilities. Watching this is just… it’s like I’ve been using a gun as a club all this time, and someone finally showed me how to aim the thing and pull the trigger.

      Actually, come to think of it, I think I spent half my time using melee attacks (i.e. clubbing people with my gun) anyway.

      • Merle says:

        You need two weapons as a Vanguard: A shotgun and a heavy pistol. With a bit of luck, you can even do without the pistol.

        Either the Graal Spike thrower or the Geth shotgun allow you accuracy at mid-ranges; the Carnifex is a great sniper pistol, but you can get by without it.

        • somebodys_kid says:

          I use Carnifex exclusively in multiplayer with a scope and damage enhancing mod. Head-shots galore!

        • Mike S. says:

          I started out with a shotgun, but quickly abandoned it in favor of light weapons and faster recharge. Nova more than made up for the ME2 role of the shotgun on my Insanity Vanguard playthrough. With Reave as a bonus power to deal with longer range attacks, Vanguard Jane barely fired her gun anyway.

        • Theminimanx says:

          I always used the Indra, a weapon I got from some kind of promotion (I think it’s in the weapon pack DLC too). It’s like an assualt rifle with a sniper rifle scope, while also being so light I could still spam the charge-nova combo. Nothing could stop me.

      • swenson says:

        I always have been a Vanguard, but I saw once someone do a speedrun of Tali’s recruitment in ME2 as a Vanguard, and I realized the same thing as you–I was in the presence of a master. So I kept working on it, and I’ve gotten to the point where, y’know, I think I’m not a half-bad Vanguard these days. (although I keep going without playing for long stretches, so my skills get rusty)

        Here’s the rules for playing Vanguard in ME2:
        Charge someone. Melee them to stagger them. Charge them again. Repeat until they are dead.

        Here’s the rules for playing Vanguard in ME3:
        Charge someone. Hit nova. Charge again to recharge your barrier. Repeat until everyone is dead.

        If you’re still too low-level and you can’t risk nova-ing too early because your charge won’t recharge fast enough, throw in a melee. And remember, if you charge so much you die a lot, charge more. There is not a single problem in the Mass Effect universe that cannot be solved by application of VANGUARD CHAERG, with the possible exception of the Catalyst.

    • StashAugustine says:

      I’ve heard you can basically stay in an invincibility frame throughout an entire firefight by using nothing but Charge and Nova.

      • bit says:

        I played a melee-focused infiltrator using a Scorpion packing max cryo ammo; I was invisible so much, and the freezing was so effective, that I basically never got hit throughout most of the game and could backstab anything (Even eventually the big Cerberus walkers) In one hit.

        If was glorious.

        • StashAugustine says:

          Slomo with the Infiltrator is such a game breaker. You can use the Black Widow as a CQC weapon and upgrade the disruptor ammo so it one-shots Centurions and Maurauders with a headshot and Husks, Cannibals, and Troopers with a bodyshot.

      • IFS says:

        You can still be caught by the instant death attacks that banshees, phantoms and atlas’s have so it is important to start backing up after charging.

      • meyerkev says:

        Yep. Just walk through the invincible frames.

        You HAVE to have 200+% cooldown(Stack Shadow Broker upgrades, armor, and the “Nova knocks 25% off cooldown times” perk) and EVERY SINGLE MEDIGEL UPGRADE. I tried walking with a heavier pistol(152% cooldown), and just died. Take a fully upgraded Eviscerator(The best early shotgun in the game) with Exploding Inferno ammo, and the BEST fully upped pistol you can afford(Carnifex on NG, Paladin on NG+) plus scope mod. Charge, Shoot his buddy, Area Nova to knock everyone nearby off their feet, Charge. When you inevitably get knocked into health, Charge, then medigel. As long as you have medigel, you’re golden. If you end up running into something too hot to handle (turrets), pull out the pistol, and use it as a poor mans sniper rifle.

        There’s a bit more to it than that (leaving certain mooks alive as an escape route, etc, etc), but most Vanguard guides will more or less boil down to that.

        Also, in unrelated notes, I can’t wait to see how Josh deals with Brutes. (Personal tactic: Charge, Shotgun, take hit on shields, reCharge, etc, etc)

        /Heck, you can even Charge/Nova/Charge Banshees. (Charge, Backwards Roll, Nova, SHOTGUN TO FACE, repeat). It’s hard, but not impossible. For extra fun, pull along Kaiden and Liara. Reave(Kaidan)/Warp or Singularity(Liara) are GREAT for setting off Charge Bombs and knocking half the health off a Banshee.
        //Still can’t charge turrets without blowing off their first health bar though.
        ///And remember, it’s Heavy Charge, Area Nova. All Area Charge does is knock 2 people out of your Nova range, and a suspicious number of enemies seem to be set just far enough apart that Heavy Nova will miss and Area will hit. It’s not so much about killing people as getting them to “STOP SHOOTING ME”. If you can lower the enemy DPS to a low enough level to survive cooldowns, you live. If not you die.
        ////Must admit that my Insanity playthrough was less “Charge, Nova, twiddle thumbs for 1.5 seconds while they plink at my health, Charge” and more “Charge, twiddle thumbs for 2 seconds while they plink at my shields, Charge”

    • swenson says:

      There’s a different way to play a Vanguard?

      • Klay F. says:

        Having never played Vanguard before, I can’t see how it could possibly NOT get mind-numbingly dull. I just don’t understand how something like this could be fun for anybody.

        • swenson says:

          I guess it depends on the person, but honestly, it never gets old for me. It’s just so entertaining! You zip around punching everyone in the face–and if they’re tall enough, the crotch. It’s far more fast-paced than most other classes. For example, I kind of like infiltrator, but all you do is basically sit in cover and pick people off from the cover of your cloak. Boring. I like the high-risk aspect of a vanguard.

        • Dave B says:

          It might be simply a matter of opinion, but here’s my take on it. Vanguard can be repetitive, and thus boring to watch, but it is a lot of fun to play. A good Vanguard can clear a battlefield very quickly. Not every Vanguard player spams Charge+Nova like Josh does. I liked to use Charge to fill my shields and get in range, then switch to the shotgun.

          • StashAugustine says:

            I like ’em in MP, but I don’t think I’d like a whole campaign with them.

          • Klay F. says:

            I’m not going to argue with you, because I have personal experience that directly confirms this “fun to play, but not to watch” mantra. Still…sometimes I wish the show would go back to the old “lets show off the game” playstyle and ditch the “troll ALL teh peapolz!!!” playstyle.

    • SleepingDragon says:

      Not only is it effective but now Josh also knows that doing it he is trolling at least one person in the audience. Expect to see no guns fired at all after this week.

    • Eärlindor says:

      Please, Josh, please, please, please tell me you won’t be Charging and Slamming your way through the entire game.

      NO! Now you’ve jinxed it!

    • guy says:

      He may occasionally shoot people who cannot be charged due to terrain features. Oh, and Cerberus has jerks with tower shields who are flatly immune to most types of frontal attack, most definitely including Charge and Nova. And they turn around instantly if you charge behind them.

      A good way into the game I learned armor piercing ammo can damage them through their shields and became a very happy man.

  18. bit says:

    Devil’s advocate;

    Honestly, as far as pointing the sexual pandering finger, I tend not to rag on Mass Effect. The game is clearly going for a certain over-the-top, cinematic look, with muscled, broad-shouldered gentlemen, firmed, shapely women, slick guns and technology that make big fancy lights and sounds; EVERYTHING’s a little overblown, sexy, impractical and stylistic so even though the armor looks ridiculous in context of our world, at least they mesh well with the (Quite strong) aesthetic feel of the rest of the game.

    • bit says:

      I kind of lost my point part way through that. Sorry, I’m tired. Also, more importantly, Liara’s swag really doesn’t diminish her as a character; Focus on what she says, not how she walks.

    • lurkey says:

      It totally is all that, but the problem is – the game itself doesn’t know it’s campy. On the contrary, it takes itself completely seriously, and that clashes with all the cheese. The reason why I will always prefer Dragon Age 2, that ME2-3’s Siamese triplet in retardation, is that DA2 knows it’s campy and runs with it. It’s often tongue-in-cheek and not above poking fun at itself, whereas ME3 is as full of grim artificial pathos as a funeral of a Soviet Union leader – and equally impotent in harvesting sincere emotions from the audience, no matter how bluntly it demands them.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Isn’t literally everyone in the Alliance military genetically enhanced? That would help to explain the lack of imperfections.

    • StashAugustine says:

      It helps that, with the exception of Samara and Miranda (and Jack, I guess, although that seemed to serve a purpose rather than blatant fanservice), the dress is pretty reasonable. Actually, given the civilians wandering around on the Citadel in bikinis in ME1, I’d say they’ve gotten better about it. (Although I do like how Samara shows way more skin than Morinth.)

  19. Merle says:

    I was really surprised by how much I liked Vega. He seemed to be obviously flagged as “hey, I’m the new guy”, but not in too annoying a way, and his interactions with Shepard and Cortez really built him up as a good character and a nice source of perspective on the Alliance military.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I liked him too, and thought FP,Jr was doing a really good job because I didn’t hear a lick of the high school student or the Wing Commander character (and that is the last I shall say of that movie today).

  20. Hm… The game does not pretend Anderson is fighting Reapers on Earth… I seem to recall a conversation in wich he explains that he’s basically gathering survivors and moving from cover to cover…

  21. David says:

    “Is a guy and is highly attracted to the human-looking Asari.”

    There’s actually a cute throw-away scene in ME2 talking about this! There’s a few people of different species (human, turian, salarian, I think) sitting in a bar watching an asari, and they wind up talking. It turns out that all of them think the asari looks pretty similar to their own species. They start speculating about whether this might be some sort of subtle asari mind-control…

    • StashAugustine says:

      They lampshade that a lot in ME2/3. There’s also a line where Ken speculates based on Benezia and Samara that asari matriarchs “never stop growing.” Aetheta (or however you spell it) mentions that Benezia had a large chest “even before she hit the matriarch stage” (to a horrified reaction from Liara) and claims that other species won’t pay attention to asari unless they’re sexy.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I liked that scene.Its a shame they didnt expand on it.

  22. Jakale says:

    These last two episodes remind me of something one of the Unskippable videos brought up. Future tv monitors have absolutely rotten reception.
    Also, wow, I’d need to ask people who would know, but that seems like an excessively large and reinforced-for-weight air duct.

    • Carlos Castillo says:

      You could explain that away using the Codex entries from ME1 (and may show up later) which discuss that Mass Effect fields are used in traditional manufacturing to produce materials that have fewer imperfections and can be made stronger (more densely packed) so that a “Space Air Duct”, despite having the same size, shape, wall thickness, and support structure as modern “human sized” air ducts, are much stronger (and possibly denser) due to their use of “Space (Opaque) Aluminum”.

      Alternatively, both Liara, and the troopers could be using biotic / mass effect technology to reduce their weight during the romp in the air duct, because at the start of the chase, they did bring down sections of the ducts somewhat embarassingly. It would also explain why Liara wouldn’t use Singularity until after she left the ducts (she had an active power).

      It’s funny how much stuff in the mass effect universe uses the titular “Mass Effect”:
      – Transportation (both ships and terrestrial craft)
      – Construction
      – Manufacturing
      – Communications (FTL Comm relay network, except the QEC)
      – Weapons (Even pistols are a mini-mass effect field powered railgun)
      – Many of the powers (especially the biotic ones)
      – Genetic / Physical Enhancements
      – Rhynoplasty (There are ads on Ilium talking about using biotics for face-lifts)
      – Dental Hygene

      None of this alleviates the problem presented in Deus Ex (but mostly ignored by same), that vents large enough for easy human passage rarely exist, and would generally be avoided in the design of any secure facility.

  23. Spencer Petersen says:

    I feel the biggest failing of the Mass Effect universe is that the entire main conflict of the series is never experienced firsthand, nor manipulated by the players actions barring irrelevant “war assets.”

    The game keeps trying to justify why ground troops are even relevant in this war considering they outclass us so far in terms of ship-to-ship power that its absurd that they even need ground troops to do anything besides round up prisoners and bodies after they obliterate everything.

    I feel the plot of these games would have been so much better suited to some sort of space combat rpg that gradually expanded to include more ships as the game progressed and you gained recognition and eventually a fleet. If they instead treated the ground missions as little morality plays to adjust your standing with factions/characters or acquire technology I feel it would have felt way more rewarding than the shoot/talk/shoot/talk/shoot/paragade we got. If they had bothered to plan ahead and get the war asset idea started from game 1 it might have been something. Instead it’s probably the biggest cop-out to sequel save importing I have ever seen.

    There’s a lot of “If”s here, and I guess that my main point. Mass Effect could have been a great RPG that focused on big picture choices and consequences. Instead we got tiny choices and Mary Sue’s.

    • StashAugustine says:

      I always kinda liked the idea of a game where you’re an N7 operative during the events of ME3, and importing your ME3 file changes what’s going on in the game.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Because the reapers have to harvest, and not just glass, there is actually a reason for ground combat.

      What bothered me was that this should have been the hook for beating the reapers. We can’t take them in space, so we lure them into gravity wells and take them there, on the ground. Suddenly the krogan are an integral piece of this plan -and that makes the Salarian offer all the more daunting, because what if the Salarian fleet really could give us a shot at taking them in the air…

      But no. It’s just a progress bar. Choice? Bah.

      • Keredis says:

        The problem with that is that the Sovereign-class Reapers don’t seem to be any less effective at killing ground targets than at killing air/space targets. Also, how do you lure them into a ground battle such that they don’t just decide “Screw this, we own the skies. Let’s just destroy all life on this planet from orbit and go harvest somewhere else.” Or even if they need to harvest a large amount of life from that specific planet for some reason, fine. They still control the air. They can land forces wherever they want, whenever they want. The ground forces would be forced to either split up and be picked off piecemeal, or clump together and let the other life be harvested… while getting destroyed from orbit with minimal collateral damage to harvestable life.

        • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          The reapers are unbeatable because the writers say they are. A better writer would have written an achilles heel or somesuch -and that the Sovereigns are less effective on the ground would have been a good one to work with.

          • Keredis says:

            I’m not sure I’d say that a “better” writer would have done that. One can consciously write a good story with an enemy that doesn’t have a traditional achilles heel, for whatever reason. Would have actually been ironic if they were STRONGER on the ground, but were just so generally powerful that their relative weakness in space didn’t even matter. It’s okay to write an antagonist that can’t be beaten by traditional means, as long as you do it right. Here, though, the achilles heel is the Catalyst, but it was written in very, very poorly.

          • Luhrsen says:

            Actually they did write in that Achilles Heel. They said Sovereign classes have to drop their shields when landing and use their mass effect to keep their hulls from collapsing under gravity. Not that this had any gameplay effect.

            • 4th Dimension says:

              That would make them horrible ships for supporting land invasions. Since you can allways mount heavier guns on grounf than in space, they should have been pulverized by planetary defences.

              • guy says:

                All large ships in the series have to do that.

                Well, actually, that isn’t quite true, because non-Reaper dreadnoughts don’t have powerful enough drive cores to do that.

                • Keredis says:

                  Although we’ve seen non-Reaper dreadnoughts fighting inside of the gravity well of a planet. By which I mean right at the beginning of ME3, that dreadnought chilling out in the atmosphere (at a lower altitude than some of the skyscrapers) that gets blown up by the Reaper laser. Still takes a few shots, too.

                  Interestingly, if the wiki is correct that humanity had only 9 dreadnoughts at the time of ME3, then… that’s a significant chunk of the Alliance’s firepower that decided to chill out in the atmosphere without any kind of screening units, instead of being with the rest of the fleet.

      • Spencer Petersen says:

        They don’t have to glass, but just focus on ships attempting to flee and knocking out military centers and unmanned defenses from afar. The whole Reaper invasion would have gone perfectly if they just stopped Shepard from escaping (and about the stealth systems, the collectors could track the new Normandy just fine after they passed the omega-4 relay, and the collector tech was based off reaper tech).

        And its not like they are in a rush, the Reapers are slow and methodical by nature, why would they go down to the planet so fast?

        A much more effective hook I feel would be that the reapers have Earth cut off and are employing their indoctrination field to force humanity to submit for maximum harvest potential. That would provide a reason to be quick, it would make sense why they couldn’t evac the planet and it would be a great variable for the endings, poor performance means almost complete indoc of the human race, great performance means very little indoc. Plus it would provide a reason to have some humans in the enemy variety besides the clown town that is Cerberus

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well,after watching spoonys ultima retrospective,I can say that there are some good things about me3:

    – At no point does shepard say “Whats a krogan”,even if you kill wrex in 1.
    – It only took 3+2 years for the series to start sucking and then completely ruins your investment in it,as opposed to 13+5.
    – Admiral hacket is at least competent,so there is at least one person in power who does something right.

    • Thomas says:

      Hmm this is one we’ll have to stretch out over a longer period of time as we go through the game, but I feel ME3 was no better or worse than ME2. The exact same joys and flaws are to be found in both.

      Actually ME3 made me enjoy ME2 more. I’ve played ME2 6-7 times now (a lot considering I was adamant that i hated the game) and the first playthrough I truly enjoyed was when I want back from ME3.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Rutskarn references doom?With all these old people around?

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Why does kaidan have reave now?

    Ah yes,cerberus.Me2 and 3 really do sound like fanfics.
    – So we need a villain here.
    – Hey,that game used some terrorist group named cerberus,how about them?
    – Perfect!

    Wait,that was being nice to kaidan?Whats the opposite then?”Fuck you you piece of shit!Obey me,or die!”?

    I like kaidan simply because he is not the ashley bitch.

    Ive been watching farscape recently(thanks sf debris,for hooking me on another show),and I wonder,were the asari inspired by zhaan?I mean they are blue psionics that worship a goddess.

  27. RCN says:

    You forget the Hanar! They too are pretty much the most alien… well, aliens in the game. Their over-politeness quirk gives me the creeps.

    I find it hilarious though that the in-game big blockbuster movie (Holodrome? What do they watch?) is a buddy-cop movie about an elcor partnered with a hanar… and their chief of police is a volus. That’s comedy gold and someone HAS to make a machinima out of it.

    Also, it is funny how fast you corrupted Mumbles. At first she was all “aw, the kid is alright.” By the time you’re leaving earth she’s mocking the kid with you guys.

    And please, rip a new one on the Crucible thing. It may have led to the best aspect of the game that is the pooling of forces to the construction of the damn thing, but it still felt contrived, convenient and ungodly stupid. Only Hackett’s comments on it were worth any thought.

  28. SleepingDragon says:

    Ah yes, this bit and the part in (I’m guessing) next episode kinda got on my nerves. Ashley was all, clumsily written, “I don’t trust you cause you were with Cerberus” at the same time between her and Liara I got this feeling there were already strong hints of romance options around* (could be because I romanced Liara in the first (and dumped her in the second) game). The vague and misleading options on the dialogue wheel weren’t helping much, on the one hand I was playing paragon, on the other I was worried any of the upper choices could mean “I want to have your children” to one of the NPCs…

    *I’m guessing that awkward cut after “Liara” at around 16:55 is where they place the kiss scene if Liara and Shep are together. For some reason it always felt like my mShep was kinda in Liara’s personal space there…

    • meyerkev says:

      To be fair, the Ashley thing is actually a setup for the midgame. If you don’t defend yourself during Mars, cheat on her and lie about it, and/or just don’t visit her at all, it’s very, very hard to NOT have to shoot her.

      • SleepingDragon says:

        Which doesn’t change the fact that it is a case of clumsy writer causing weird dialogues out of nowhere and sudden mood swings. If they needed “attitude score” for that they could have made further dialogues more expansive or put in more events relating to the character.

        • Carlos Castillo says:

          What’s also annoying (clumsy writer wise), is that from the end of Mass Effect 1 until essentially when you re-recruit them in ME3 after the Suicide Mission, as mentioned above Ashley and Kaiden are essentially the same character. They have the exact same story role to fill, and say basically the same things.

          Once ME1 ends Ashden (or Kailey) does the following:
          – Try to get you to evacuate the Normandy (unsucessfully), and assist with the crew’s evac
          – Stay in the Alliance military for two years regardless of anything that happens in ME1+ME2
          – Go on a secret mission to Horizon for Anderson
          – Somehow survive Horizon despite being one of the first hit (and paralyzed) by seeker swarms during the attack. You’d think the Collectors trying to attack Shepard would prioritize the collection of Kailey.
          – Admonish the engineer for saying bad things about Shepard (“You are in the presence of a GOD!”)
          – Say bad things about Shepard
          – Refuse to join you because (unlike you) they are not a traitor.
          – Meet up on earth before the reapers attack
          – Bring the Normandy to rescue you
          – Be the third party member on the mars mission where they question your loyalty as soon as Cerberus Shows up (and for the rest of the mission)
          – Get their ass handed to them by Robo Eva Coré
          – Go to Huerta Memorial where (when Ashden wakes up) (s)he apologizes for questioning your word about your position on Cerberus.
          – Get recruited by Udina into the Spectres
          – Be the personal guard for the Council during the assassination
          – Question Shepard’s loyalty again during the standoff (or not if you have a good rapport with them by this point).
          – Get killed by Shepard or Party Member (or not)
          – Killing Udina, or allowing Shepard to do so (if surviving above)
          – Meeting you at the dock to be re-recruited or become an (equally valued) war asset.

          After this point (and if you recruit them) Kailey/Ashden finally diverge from their conjoined plot line and are free have a quiet moment with a grieving sister (Ashley), or become gay for Broshep (Kaiden).

          Superficially the only real difference during this stretch is slight dialog changes due to their previous past as two separate persons, and their military rank (Kaiden goes LtCommander -> StaffCommander (same as Shep) -> Major (above Shep)) while Ashley goes GunChief -> GunChief (ME2) -> LtCommander)

          Speaking of rank, just about every chararcter you met in ME1 has gone up in rank, an nearly all of them also now out-rank Shepard in their respective structure and Shep spends most of ME3 giving orders to them:
          – Wrex (Leader of Krogan)
          – Garrus (Gives orders to Turian Generals – not sure of exact rank)
          – Tali (Admiral replacing her Father, if not exiled in ME2)
          – Kaiden is both higher rank in the Alliance (Major), and a Spectre
          – Liara is the head of the largest information brokerage in known space.

          Also there are a large number of other high-ranking officials and heads of State, that Shepard bosses around over the course of the game. The only people Shepard really takes orders from (and never the reverse) are Hackett, Anderson, and optionally Aria T’Loak.

          • Irridium says:

            One explanation could be that your Spectre status trumps all. Since humanity is a council race, everyone in the military would have to follow your orders.

            As for Hackett, Anderson, and Aria… Hackett is the only one who knows what he’s doing, so Shepard will do what he asks. Anderson is a friend. And Aria doesn’t give two craps about your rank or Spectre status.

            Plus, since the Galaxy is being invaded by Reapers, it makes sense that others will defer to your judgement, since you’re the only one who’s encountered them before this and the only one who knows anything about them.

            That’s the reasoning I’ve been using.

          • ? says:

            Major is higher rank than Commander? That seems counter-intuitive. Until I learned that I assumed Shepard was surprised that Kaiden is on promotion fast-track, not thinking ‘shit, I should salute him now.’ I wonder if Anderson dreams of becoming a colonel one day or, gasp, a sergeant!

            • Keredis says:

              Yeah, Major is apparently only one step below General in the ME universe, and is above Commander (being equivalent to the Alliance Navy rank of Captain). As opposed to the current US military, where Major is equivalent to Lieutenant Commander, and the army equivalent to full Commander is Lieutenant Colonel (with full Colonel equivalent to Captain).

              Now I’m curious as to if the writers meant for Kaiden to be lower in rank than Shepard (Lt. Commander equivalent, as a Major would be in real life), and simply didn’t remember that the Codex specifies that their ranks are different from current ones. Because if they did mean for him to now have rank on Shepard, they really should have done something with that. Maybe even give Shepard the chance to be bitter about being passed over for promotions for the last few years.

              • ? says:

                Even with real life rank system there is place for bitter for promotion mini-storyline. He was a Lieutenant in ME1, and in 3 years he is a Major. Meanwhile Shepard got no promotions, medals or any sort of recognition of her work. From her perspective Kaidan is making a career doing basically nothing but whining about her working with Cerberus, and she is stuck with mountain of bad PR and doing the dirty work. I guess renegade Shepard couldn’t care less, but for paragon Shepard this gotta sting.

  29. Mr Compassionate says:

    Where does Cerberus get their funding? All their bases explode all their employees die all their plans fail all their research produces nothing nobody wants to even be associated with them and they have to avoid well policed sectors because they are a terrorist organisation that feels the need to brand their ships with the official terrorist logo, good luck finding investors.

    And yet they find the money to construct the most advanced stealth ship in the galaxy only better which costs as much as a whole fleet. They also find the coin to purchase an army, and ressurect somebody who gone through re-entry. Well I only played ME1 and 2 so maybe its all explained later in this and everything makes sense. Har har my sides not likely.

  30. AJ_Wings says:

    After these couple of episodes, I think I’m gonna stop ragging at Bethesda for their bugs and glitches. While those guys have the excuse of the difficulty of coding an open-world game, why does Bioware have so much bugs and design flaws in their linear, cover-based multi-million AAA shooter. That whole FOV part screwing up certain cut scenes is ridiculous, did anybody QA test this game?

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Because nobody was suposed to ever see anyhing outside FOV, since FOV can’t be set trough menus. JOsh probably ‘hacked’ it through an ini file.
      Compalining about something like that is like complaining about lack of textures outside of the level if you use noclip

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Or complaining about a sex minigame in a perfectly fine game about drug trafficking and gang murdering.

      • Josh says:

        This, exactly. It’s why I was giving that spiel about how we don’t normally use mods or the like when I tried (and failed) to do this in the first episode. But I can’t stand playing at that incredibly narrow 70 degrees. I feel like I’m going to bump into Shepard’s back if I’m not careful.

        The cutscenes actually switch the FOV up often, going from wide establishing shots to a close-up of a character’s face. Setting it manually with a custom bind overrides all FOV settings though, which is why I can make the cutscenes look really strange if I want to, and why I need another bind on my mouse to reset the FOV to normal settings.

        To be fair, this is not the first time I’ve done stuff like this. I used ini edits to turn off mouse smoothing in both New Vegas and Fallout 3, for example. It’s just this game makes the custom FOV much more obvious since it wasn’t designed to work with non-default FOV settings.

  31. Varre says:

    I was disappointed with how often you fought Cerberus: Mars? Cerberus. Grissom Academy? Cerberus. Sur’kesh? Cerberus. I only played to the start of the krogan arc before my Xbox disk refused to work, but I feel like I spent most of that time fighting Cerberus.

  32. LunaticFringe says:

    I actually find Ashley to be more annoying, it doesn’t help that Kaidan’s whininess seems kind of forced while Ashley’s VA actually does a good job. For me she lost all good qualities after I was forced to kill her during the coup (Thane and Kirrahe weren’t around to stop Kai Leng so he killed the councilor and framed me). Ignoring the fact that the coup was just stupid in general, thanks to the introduction of Kai Leng and Udina’s crappy motivations, shooting Ashley made me dislike her even more. When she basically told me to burn in hell after I had proven multiple times that I was loyal, even saving her life after stealing information from Cerberus, I lost what little respect I had left.

    • Keredis says:

      Are Kaiden’s dialogue/actions there any different? Do you still have to shoot him in that scene?

      • LunaticFringe says:

        I believe so, which makes less sense because I assumed Ashley’s ‘hell’ comment was a reference to her religion in Mass Effect, but they could’ve easily just switched out characters. I’ve personally always just seen Kaidan as boring and whiny, but his VA just doesn’t convey the material well so it just falls flat. I end up just ignoring him rather then hating him.

      • Thomas says:

        You don’t have to shoot either if things go right :D

        • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          Someone inform me of the proper way to screw this up then, because I have yet to get to shoot either of them, and I’d like to do it at least once.

          • LunaticFringe says:

            Thane or Kirrahe can’t be alive, because then no one saves the salarian council member and Kai Leng ‘cleverly’ has a virus that prevents security cameras from recording him, so they assume that you killed him via edited footage. Then you have to do the renegade prompt or one of your companions will shoot them instead.

            • Keredis says:

              I get that part. What I meant is, why is that the scene that made you consider Ashley more annoying, if Kaiden acts the exact same way (assuming that he does) for the same set of circumstances? Do you consider that Kaiden “lost all good qualities” after that same scene if you made the choices that lead to you being forced to kill him? Or are their behaviors/dialogue different enough that he seems more reasonable/justified/acceptable in forcing you to shoot him?

              • LunaticFringe says:

                It’s the quality of the voice acting that cements it. Kaidan’s VA seems to convey his lines with a bit of boredom and a lot of lines that he uses seem out of character as a result. Ashley’s voice acting, however, is better done and conveys the material more successfully, which makes her lines come off as more genuine rather then forced. ME2 had a similar problem with Kaidan’s and Ashley’s lines as well.

            • Thomas says:

              You can still save them if the salarian doesn’t survive and the footage is faked though. I’m not sure if you can get away with not shooting Udina though, because it’s never seemed worth even taking the chance on him

          • lurkey says:

            I think Salarian Ambassador must be killed (hence no Thane, no Kirrahe), otherwise Udina won’t have fabricated evidence of Shepard killing the Ambassador, and without it Ashkaidan is more inclined to believe Shepard.

            P.S.: Kai Leng’d!

  33. newdarkcloud says:

    True story. I played through as an Adept in Mass Effect 3. I spent 15 minutes doing the one fight before it ever occurred to me that I should use my weapon. I was level 30 and decimating with my biotics. I could have gone on for hours. I use the weapons out of frustration.
    Basic play-testing would’ve solved this. Shamus and I cannot have been the only ones who got stuck here. What the hell were they thinking? That should have been time based. Nothing else makes sense.

    As I eluded to in yesterday’s comments, fuck Kai Leng! He’s an asshole and a Villain Sue. Same goes for Cerberus. I’ve got nothing more to say about that.

    And the chase scene. Josh is Vanguard, so that’ll be fun.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      I found all the weapons fairly useless, except the Scorpion. Because my god that thing is amazing as an Engineer. Just keep your attack drone and turret going while firing off a few microgrenades once and awhile, you don’t even have to hit the guy, just somewhere NEAR him. I typically just upgraded that gun to its highest level and carried nothing else.

      I also just don’t see why anyone would play Mass Effect as a soldier or sentinel.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Yeah. I just carried a Pistol and an SMG with lighter parts. All the firepower I need because I just cheesed it with powers.

        I played as a Sentinal once in ME2, but I play on switching her to a Vanguard instead.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          I tried sentinel for awhile, but it was incredibly dull, seems like the most random pieced together class in ME2/3, it’s designed for close quarters combat but the Vanguard is just so much better in that regard.

          I found Engineer a lot of fun, especially with Tali in my squad, because then I basically had six squadmates instead of two.

          • StashAugustine says:

            Sentinel was a lot of fun in ME2. You never had to take cover, you could easily spend the entire game running around, the shields would break about when your armor power recharged.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Variety. But the soldier class is virtually useless. The new weight mechanic means that his one major ability -lot’s of guns -is virtually useless. If I want slowdown while I line up my shots, I’ll play an infiltrator.

      • Thomas says:

        Sentinel was good fun. You don’t really have to take cover. Although of all the classes, Sentinel (and apparently soldier) actually got a nerf in ME3, whereas all the others got super boosted (especially adept, ME3 adept is completely lush :D). Instead of an extra health bar the shields just gave you more damage resistance and slowed biotics. :(

        Sentinel in ME2 was awesome sauce. Just fight, when your shields go, flick on tech armour, when that breaks your shields will be back up and the recharge on the armour is almost over again

      • Eärlindor says:

        But, but I love the Sentinel! It’s practically the best of both Adept and Engineer worlds! It’s like a… magic rogue or something! :D

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      No it won’t. They disable the charge ability.

      • Keredis says:

        They disable the charge ability for the first part of the chase. I’m super stubborn and kept spamming the button out of sheer annoyance, so it eventually started letting me use it. To the point where, when she climbs the ladder at the end, I was standing there in physical contact with her as she started her climb up, and had to wait until she was no longer body-blocking the ladder to climb on it myself. It was… pretty stupid.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          Hell, I caught up to her on the ladder during my second playthrough too, and I was an Engineer. Would’ve been nice if they had animated a kick that knocked Shepherd off balance a la L.A. Noire.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I’d didn’t say it’d be fun for Josh, did I?

        But it will be fun for me, since Spoiler Warning get’s hilarious when the game does stupid.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      So anyone played with infiltrator?That was my favorite class in 1 and 2.Nothing more satisfying than putting a bullet between the enemies eyes.

      • StashAugustine says:

        That was my class on my first playthrough. Slomo+ Black Widow+ Disruptor ammo, with Incinerate as a AoE attack and Cloak to get you out of trouble.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          So basically the same thing you did in 2.Well I may have said a lot of bad things about 2,but at least that was fun.Even on higher difficulties.

          • StashAugustine says:

            If you can say nothing else for ME3, the gameplay is a blast. ME1 was clunky and ME2 was boring, but ME3 has really good combat. The skill system is a whole lot better than ME2, as well.

    • krellen says:

      You alluded to it. You weren’t avoiding it.

    • meyerkev says:

      Keeping in mind that I’ve only played 4 classes:

      Vanguard: Close Combat. Plow through mooks, and pray on bosses.
      Adept: Has some overlapping powers. All about powers and Biotic Bombs. Cooldown mechanic does mitigate the shared cooldown problem from ME2 though.
      Sentinel(haven’t played): Almost an Adept, since it can have the Warp/Throw Biotic Bomb combo (like Adept), but also the Murder Everyone known as Dual Area Overload (Combine with Garrus for Tech Explosions galore). Haven’t played personally.
      Infiltrator: Sit back. Way back. Shoot things through head. Very, very slowly. (Sure, you CAN go invis and sneak/melee, but that was usually a quick death for me)
      Soldier: Finally, a class that can actually use weapons. (Used Mattock, and then switched to Revenant. Man, was that fun.)
      Engy: Turrets are your friend. Combine with sniper rifle pistol (or grenade pistol), and have at it. Also, have not played outside of 3 levels of normal and most of a playthrough of Casual.

      • Bret says:

        You do not understand the ways of the True Vanguard. Or maybe you typoed.

        I think you mean “Prey on bosses.”

        Shotgun with incendiary ammo and nova make short work of almost everything.

        …Except Banshees.

    • Carlos Castillo says:

      Since it’s the tutorial level, and it ends with the Normandy rescuing you (since you can’t leave Vancouver, let alone Earth without a stealth vessel and hope to survive), the decision to have you rescued on or a short period after running out of ammo has some merrit. I do agree that a time-limit (or a kill limit, with a possible cutscene change) should also be in place though.

      Right now:
      – Run out of bullets = rescue

      If they add a time limit, they could then have:
      – 5 minutes of fighting = rescue
      – Run out of bullets = rescue

      Then good players aren’t frustrated, and bad players / speedrunners get a quick out.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I agree with that. The kill count idea is also good. There should have been multiple triggers to end this scene. It’s just very jarring since there are classes that don’t focus on weapons. And all of them can be tuned to be very power focused.

        So yeah. I was cautious optimistic going in, but that scene left a very sour taste in my mouth that never had the chance to be washed out thanks to the idiot scenes the came after it.

  34. Astor says:

    Okay, Im sorry. I already commented much of what fallows on the previous review but I can’t handle it anymore!

    1) No need to excuse yourself, Shamus. I was nitpicking EVERYTHING during the start of the game, and I hadn’t had any woes in my day to justify it.
    It was awful, nothing the characters said or did made any sense. How come nobody did ANYTHING while Shepard lingered in the cell? How come nobody did anything while they lost Pluto and had something “massive” on long range scanners? What was getting Shepard and asking him questions going to accomplish?? Don’t these people have some evacuation protocols?? I would expect them to have SEVERAL different evacuation protocls tailored to different specific situations. If I was Shepard and these retards suddenly released me to tell me they are losing comm with EVERYTHING while something MASSIVE approached, I would’ve punched them in the jaw, took over, issue evacuation orders, issue future!internet to tell everyone to evacuate Earth ASAP**, all the while screaming madly like a girl and then run off to my fucking ship. I wouldn’t waste time talking nonsense (“we fight or we die” right after I said this was about “survival not tactics&strategy” LOL).

    2) The resistance is utterly stupid (this goes hand in hand with Reapers starting on Earth). If Reapers attack Earth, it can’t last much more than a few days before *everything* has been decimated to goo and cinder. I could understand if Anderson was just too old and jaded and decided to stay in order to go out with a bang and maybe even provide “assurance” to the few survivors who would die with him. If he stayed for any other reason, then he is stupid too.

    3) I got past the humanoids in the first ME. I can accept it: this is not a hard sci-fi story, in fact it’s a modernized call-back to and embracing of (could we say reconstruction?) sci-fi serials and Star Trek. I can accept that, and move on.

    4) You just gotta love how, after ret-conning ME1’s Cerberus in ME2, they re-retconned ME2’s Cerberus for ME3. Now we have three completely *different* Cerberuses to complain about! yay!

    5) I never played a “Vanguard”, couldn’t stop laughing at the video.

    6) Clint Mansell.

    7) I want a hard – or kinda hard – sci-fi novel Shamus!

    • Thomas says:

      The first battle of the Alliance was at Arcturus station where they lost almost their entire fleet, before they hit earth.

      The timeline of the very start of the game is very muddled. There’s lots that make it clear that the Alliance people have been fighting Reapers and organising themselves against them before they summoned Shepard. In fact that long range scanner is probably them realising that their fleets got decimated and the Reapers broke through. But why get Shepard up now? And at the same time as Earth being attacked first it seems that every other civilisation in the galaxy also got attacked. And that Bactarian colonies were enslaved and no-one noticed? The whole beginning feels a bit rushed really.

      A resistance makes a lot of sense. Remember the Reapers don’t want Total Annihilation but Total Conversion. So they concentrate on the big population centres where they can start manufacturing soldiers. So a resistance leader can stay out of the big cities, gather survivors, intel, raid camps etc. It helps a lot end game that people have maps of what the Reapers were doing in these places

      EDIT: Also Star Trek has the worst aliens in the history of sci-fi. I always get repulsed when I remember just how unoriginal Star Trek aliens were. It makes me prefer the earlier series when they didn’t have the special affects budget to mess it up so badly

  35. juanguy says:

    To me, the thing is… there are four reapers in the pullaway shot (7:00 on the dot is a perfect point). In one city. How many of the bloody things are there attacking earth? The single solitary one was such a hassle in ME1, partially because it was an unknown factor… but they’re still !@#$ing dangerous, neigh-invincible, huge warmachines.
    After an hour, that city won’t be alive anymore. The shot pans up, there could be no reapers behind the camera or another six. Maybe some people in shelters survived, the really unlucky one that get to become husks when the reaper’s find them and pull them out, or else when they starve because there’s a building collapsed on top.
    An hour later those reapers will be obliterating another city. This isn’t Independence Day, where the locust-aliens cruise around and pseudo-nuke each location. The reapers are combine harvesters, every human they get their hands on going to the war effort. They’ve been doing this for millions of years, and have quite a bit of practice.
    Earth is just plain !@#$ed. Eight days, twelve on the outside.
    Why are we supposed to ‘take back earth’ afters seeing that pullaway? A force, unknown size, of the most dangerous !@#$ers ever encounters pulled a sneak attack and now their most experienced foe is heading off to call for aid.
    None of the commanders on the ground will be familiar with tactics vs reaper forces. No one is, except Shepard and no one would have been forwarding her reports to the grunts and lowbie officers, considering the upper officer’s attitude toward her. If the reapers smashed the Terran military bases first, the majority of soldiers not on leave are dead before they know how to fight back properly. Quite probably, the most valuable guys on earth are the conspiracy theorist and paranoid military speculators that have been obsessing over reaper rumors (well, it worked out for Burt Gummer).

    Honestly I wish the MacGuffin had been on earth. At least that could have excused the reapers taking their sweet time to scrub humanity off the surface of the planet, being busy searching for and securing the one thing they respect and/or fear.

    • Thomas says:

      The Reapers were trying to harvest though. Even if they didn’t need soldiers it’s an agreement of the compromise that they do (for BS reasons, but at least in universe it made sense)

      I agree that they shouldn’t have been talking about retaking Earth. There was no way that was happening. I kept begging Shepard to think about other people on concentrate on retaking Palaven or something. At least they were still fighting back

      • newdarkcloud says:

        That bugged me throughout my whole playthrough. I knew it would even when reading the promotional materials. It didn’t make sense for Earth to last that long. It was very arbitrary to me. Doubly so after what happened on every other homeworld.

    • silentlambda says:

      That first question’s a pretty valid one that no one ever wants to bring up. Harbinger effortlessly sheared through half the citadel fleet in the first game and he was alone. Yet Anderson claims to be waging friggin’ geurilla warfare with their invasion force? No. Not logistically possible. If a skyscraper sized Reaper (most of whom can travel faster that light) sweeps an area with it’s massive death ray, you aren’t going to pull off some kind of flanking maneuver to deal with it. Hence why you never get to SEE Earth until the Reapers are all neatly accounted for by the writers to preserve the player. As suggested by the cast, just having them focus on tearing apart the allegedly more important races would alleviate this whole nagging question.

      • Indy says:

        But the thing is, humanity is important. You see, the Reapers heard that the Blue Suns, the most populous organic militarised organisation in the galaxy, was lead by a human. They haven’t heard that it lost that leader.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I’m pretty sure that they’re hitting the harvesting camps and ground forces, rather than the actual Reaper ships.

  36. Thomas says:

    My least favourite characters with ME3 by far were Ashley and Liara. Vega and Cortez were pretty good but not up to the level of Garrus and co. With the exception of Wrex it felt like being with Shepard in ME2 was the key for awesome (Ken, Donnely and Kelly included) being central in 1 but not 2 = boring or aggravating (Ashley, Liara, Adams) and ME3 orignals were middle of the road (all two of them)

    I hate the catalyst thing so much. Its so frickin convenient. Towards the beginning of the game, after you’ve begun to rally other species, one of them should have talked about a big discovery they’ve found/been keeping secret/knew about but was in a place too dangerous to be worth covering and then Shepard should have had a story campaign where she slowly recovered it.

  37. Axion says:

    Chris: “Isn’t the emphasis on the ‘con’?”
    ^This. I was really thrown off by the way you guys were pronouncing incongruous.
    I don’t even know if that’s spelt right -_-

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Anthropocentric too, but I just chalk this up to different regions, different accents. Everything sounds different in the South (where I’m from).

  38. Keredis says:

    Also, rewatching the episode, I just realised: Since Josh had killed all the Cannibals, and the next wave hadn’t arrived yet… when the Normandy bombarded the site to “save” Shepard, Shepard was the only one even remotely close to the explosions.

  39. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,will you do one whole episode of pinging for artifacts?

  40. Rodyle says:

    So, guys. Tell me: how do the other classes do in ME3? I heard sentinel was even worse than it was in ME1 (which is a shame, because I like the idea) and that a few classes (including the vanguard, as Josh shows us) became incredibly overpowered.

    Also: Shamus, you might want to look at some of your older shows. Viddler won’t let me watch them. Is this a known issue?

    • swenson says:

      Vanguard is like in ME2. If you know how to play it and you’re aggressive, you are essentially unstoppable because while you’re charging, you’re invulnerable, and you have so many abilities that let you stagger and stunlock enemies.

      Not sure on other classes, I haven’t played them enough to tell.

      • StashAugustine says:

        Adept is fun, it’s all about crowd control and biotic detonations. I went through the entirety of Palaven without firing a shot (including the turret section.) Infiltrator is basically soldiers with fun powers that specialize in sniping, with a cloak ability for extra damage, repositioning, and escape.

  41. swenson says:

    Hey Josh, wanna tell me how you set up the whole change FOV, keybind to change it back thing? I really, really, really want to do that too.

  42. Gruhunchously says:

    You know, the whole sequence where the Normandy won’t pick you up until you run out of bullets seems entirely in character for the Joker that we know. First he drops you off on the other side of the planet from your objective, and then then he just hangs back patiently waiting for you to run out of bullets so that he can swoop in and make his heroic entrance. What a jerk!

  43. Shamus, I kinda liked the “Modak” description. Also you’d only do that explanation the first time, following times you would only use “Modak expressed his agitation again.” and readers “should” remember how he’d “look” doing that.

  44. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A question keeps popping up in my mind,but I always forget about it:

    Wasnt it established in me2 that the new normandy is so big that it cannot enter the atmosphere of a planet?Which is why we always used dropships.And here we have it landing to pick us up.Not only that,but it lands on several planets later.So what was the point of establishing anything back in 2?

    • Irridium says:

      Well, apparently the Alliance dismantled it and put it back together with “adjustments” or something.

      I guess… that’s the excuse? Or maybe the ship just can’t land on higher-gravity worlds? I don’t know. It was probably one thing, then ret-conned.

    • Cyranor says:

      Most of Mass Effect 3 was disregarding or ret-conning Mass Effect 2 it seems. It goes back to Shamus’s comments about how the crucible should be Mass Effect 2 instead of the company team building retreat that was Mass Effect 2. Which then became irksome when you rarely see those crew members again except for one measly mission with them. Don’t get me wrong those were some of the best moments in Mass Effect 3 but it just seemed to illustrate how much the events of Mass Effect 2 didn’t matter.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        That’s the most annoying thing to me. We make such a bleeding big deal about forming this team and then they scatter to the four winds and barely make cameos in this game. I liked ME2, and trying to keep everyone alive, or see what the game would be like if only certain people died. And this is what I get.

        • Thomas says:

          I just checked the wiki and it seems that it’s only that the Normandy 2 can’t land on every planet.

          I wish we had more time with the ME2 characters, but I can understand why they wanted them a little more distant from the plot, and you appreciate them more if you’ve been forced to do a non-import run first and you know that the missions end more horribly without them. Makes them feel a bit more important

  45. Lunok says:

    Humans where special. They were the only species to have beat the turians in a battle since the krogans.

  46. Indy says:

    Is anyone else sad that Josh never looked down at the horrible civilian sprites in the first level? Show off Bioware’s very awesome artistic skills.

    For those who want to see what I’m talking about

  47. Sumanai says:

    I’m getting a feeling that the complaints are justified. Over the top pathos*, stupid dialogue and Cerberus all happening too early in the game before there’s a chance to feel invested and therefore it’s easy to nitpick**. While you have played before, the feelings from the original run can still override feelings from incoming parts.

    * I’d like to use another word just to avoid overuse with Chris, but he has been using it too much and now I can’t think of anything else. In fact, I have no idea if I’m using ‘pathos’ correctly.

    ** Well, by most people’s metrics. I don’t think people can criticise Cerberus enough and the desperate attempts at sympathy are annoying.

  48. Bryan says:

    Hah. Little Lamplight. :-)

  49. Alex F says:

    I hated Vega as soon as he started objecting to the plan. All I could think is “Why is Chris Redfield on my ship and why does he think he’s important?” It didn’t help that I was playing a female Shepard and they ave you the same kind of forced flirty dialog that they did with Jacob. I did like his banter with Cortez though.

    • lasslisa says:

      By late in the game I couldn’t even talk to the guy. Like, really, THOSE are my conversation options? (One conversation in the refugee-housing-bay, I tried all the options, and ended up just reloading and not talking to him there entirely. Never happened.)

  50. X2Eliah says:

    Eh. Completely agree with the sentiments about Liara’s character model. It’s just so.. explicitly pandering, it’s stupid. And yeah, playing the game, I basically went just as Shamus did, “ookay so this is how Bioware did it in this game”. It’s.. Well, I would say that Liara is like a good character with a model replaced by something made by an overzealous anime fan, but… Well, see, this is how Bioware themselves see Liara:
    http://store.kotous.com/mass-effect-liara-tsoni-bishoujo-statue.html
    (Officially commisioned Liara statue, they ordered it not long before ME3 came out, iirc)
    So honestly, if there had been a Mass Effect 4, we’d quite probably see even rounder face, bigger tits and wider hips. This is stupid and childish and blatant, but.. I guess it’s Bioware’s game in the end.

    Edit: Probably more pertinent to the previous episode, but I wanted to mention that imo they actually really pulled the multiplayer section of the game off rather well. Heck, I absolutely dislike most online/co-op/(especially)versus match-games, and I had tons of fun with ME3’s MP.

    P.S. Josh is playing the vanguard perfectly, as he should. For that class in this game, the charge-nova chain is the only thing you need to do. Charge and Nova both have animation frames during which the character is invulnerable, it offers the best damage *and* juggles the shields, removing enemy fire from the equation. It even works in multiplayer (with a human vanguard), on bronze and silver. Gold, not so much, unfortunately, unless you are hosting (way less lag).

    • Aldowyn says:

      Did they ever fix the “my planet needs me” bug where a vanguard that isn’t hosting, hits the charge key and immediately dies goes nuts and starts clipping through everything and eventually floating upwards infinitely?

      But yeah I liked the MP. I didn’t play it much, but not too bad at all.

  51. rayen says:

    If Maxis can create a system wherein any creature created can emote and display emotion through body language bioware can create some goddamn galactic diversity.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      They had no time,they had to work on the awesome story.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I hate that you say that. Not for the obvious troll, but because this really could have been a great series. The plot after ME1 pretty much wrote itself. They had a detailed lore and an interesting enough overarching plot. It was really a case of execution.

        Then they did this Collector crap in ME2 and had to really struggle to put it together in ME3. It almost worked. They had stupid points in the plot to be sure, but that’s to be expected after ME2. They were so close, but muffed it at the end.

        That’s the ultimate tragedy here. Not that it wasn’t good, that it could’ve been great.

  52. Dwip says:

    Not that anybody’s going to read this far, but things to say.

    1. Did you guys ever actually make it to multiplayer? I really do find it one of the best parts of the game, and the ability to quickly switch up classes/gear, plus the frantic nature of (most) MP maps makes for a way different and more compelling combat experience than the SP. In fact, ME3 MP is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed public multiplayer since Age of Kings or thereabouts.

    2. Didn’t so much as blink at the resistance movement idea. Several reasons, most of which should be apparent to Anderson at the time:

    – It’s not like you’ve got a great shot of getting off Earth with all the Reapers flying around. I mean, it’s what, the Normandy and like 5 other guys who make it? And just offhand, I’m going to guess there aren’t enough shuttles in the world to lift all the people who need out out.

    – There’s only so many Reapers, and they can only kill so many people in so many places at one time. So if you can dodge those, well. On the other hand, lots of husks and marauders and things that are harvesting people that you CAN take the fight to, and that somebody has to.

    – It’s not like this is the first time in military history where some soldiers took a look at the overwhelming force of the enemy and said “Yeah, I’ll fight those guys. No problem.” World War II in particular is rife with that sort of thing, from your European resistance movements to individual Japanese soldiers attempting to fight on for years/decades. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s a valid response.

    – Too, you (and Anderson, and Vega, etc) are a soldier, and there are civilians to be protected and what have you. Unless you went really renegade, the emotional response should be to want to help the people, and in the heat of the moment, that’s probably going to mean a very emotional stay behind response. Thus, your possible reactions and Vega’s reaction. Anderson’s smart enough to know somebody’s got to stay behind and lead, and it may as well be him. And we’ve just spent two games proving you’re a better diplomat than he is.

    So that worked ok for me.

    3. The whole save Earth thing also just sort of worked for me, though the stupid kid and the awful storytelling didn’t. I also really wish we’d actually had a bit of that prologue time to meet James so I could give a damn about him. Alternately, scrap him for somebody cool. I’d have taken Jacob. I like Jacob. Anybody.

    I have a half-defense of Cerberus, I guess, too, but I’ll save it. Also, that would mean talking about Kai Leng, and while my stockpiles of profanity are high, they’re not that high. Just thinking about it is killing my blood pressure.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      1.) Indeed. I think the co-op aspect of it is what makes it work.

      Also, the fact that they really limit each class’s abilities to each race, which never let anyone (Say, the Engineer with a Combat Drone and Turret) hold off an entire area.

      The fact that it’s randomised Horde mode, where sometimes you aren’t just killing waves, and sometimes you need to get something that’s actively guarded by a strong enemy…it just broke up the monotonous of regular fps/tps multiplayer.

      2.) Also, the Normandy’s a stealth ship. Which is probably the *only* reason you got past the Reapers. At like, any point in the game. By the time it occurs to them to use their eyes to spot you, you’ve already slipped past their defenses.

      As a result of that, yeah – someone needs to handle communications with the group on Earth. Especially since the United Nations and/or the Alliance Parliament got all wiped out.

      3.)James is supposed to be an “explain the situation” character though – when you have to take him to find Victus on Palaven, he helps clue in to the audience who may not have played the original or the sequel as to why we’re recruiting the skinniest bunch of dudes ever.

      • Dwip says:

        1. It’s the co-op, yeah. People on PC tend to be a bit quiet, but you don’t get chat spam, you don’t get a lot of annoying people, generally people try to work with the team, which is nice.

        And yeah, I really enjoy mixing up races and classes. Finally, I can be the Geth Hunter I always wanted to be when I grew up. Or a krogan. And that’s great. I kind of like feeling like I’m one of the random redshirts in the war.

        3. See, here’s what gets me about James. First, we’re in game 3. If you’re just now picking up the series, you’re probably going to be pretty lost as it is, so I’m not sure James really solves that problem effectively, or is necessarily a valid way to solve it in any case. Do something like the Genesis DLC for ME2 if you must. Since I played a couple times through ME1/2 beforehand, there wasn’t much for me with James.

        Bigger thing, though, is that I feel like they sort of half-assed him along with the rest of the events between Arrival and ME3. Supposedly I’ve known this guy for a while, but it’s not really shown at all, just told, and any references to our shared history have failed to make an imprint on me. I’d have been happier if they ran him more like Cortez and actually made him somebody not known to me.

        Too, here we are in the final fight against the greatest threat in the galaxy. We need a team of the best, and we’ve spent years assembling them – like 10 or 15 of the biggest badasses in space. I’ve got Space Batman, the Shadow Broker, a subordinate Spectre, the last freakin’ Prothean, a super AI, the best expert on Geth anywhere, a bunch of people who are also my best friends…and some dude. I passed up Grunt, Kasumi, Jacob, all of them for this guy? Meh.

        (squad members as war assets grumble grumble gripe rant)

        He’s kind of like Kaiden, sort of bland and boring, except Kaiden and I will always have Mako jumping and the nuke on Virmire, where James just hasn’t got anything going for him.

        Contrast with Javik, who was great in almost all ways.

        …yes, this subject bugs me, why do you ask?

  53. Alexander The 1st says:

    About the bullets at the opening of this video:

    – As soon as one gun runs out of bullets, it begins the countdown. You don’t have to run out of both, but one of them has to.

    At least, in my experience, that seems to be the case. First time through, the calvary came in *just* as I ran out of bullets on my pistol after already running out on the machine gun.

    Needless to say, I had to slow-clap that, because I thought that was the full trigger. Pretty sure my second run only needed the first gun to run out though…

  54. Vect says:

    I’m one of those who didn’t have a problem with Vega. He came off as a decent fellow. It helps that unlike Jacob the game gave him chances to interact with other characters and do more than spew token dialog about the mission at hand/some backstory.

  55. Zaxares says:

    3:57: You know, I wonder what would happen if your Shepard was standing right at ground zero where the Normandy is supposed to launch the missiles… I never did that because I’m a real “blast enemies from cover” kind of player (classic Mage), so while I figured out pretty early on that running out of ammo was the trigger to end the cutscene, I never really put myself in a position to try and break it.

    5:39: Despite everything, I still have to say that the cutscene of you leaving Earth was very, VERY well done. The music is simply sublime here, and the matching of the horns to the Reaper Destroyer’s footsteps was sheer brilliance.

    8:23: WOAH! Hang on… Femshep’s line there was totally different from the one I got on my Shepards! Then again, the two Shepard’s I’ve taken through the game so far were mostly Paragons. So maybe Renegade interrupts vary slightly depending on whether you’re Paragon or Renegade. This… is quite a revelation.

    10:30: Yeah, but Mumbles, you have to understand that Kaidan is voiced by Raphael Sbarge. ALL his characters are like that. XD Remember Carth Onasi from KotOR?

    11:17: Rutskarn, you have just gained +10 Influence with me for the Doom 3 quote. XD

    12:30: Auto-level?? HERESY! You always min-max your team in RPGs! ALWAYS! >:( I shall now fly into a state of frothing internet rage at your clearly ill-informed and poorly thought out actions!

    14:25: The game does explain (very late) much later about where Cerberus is getting all its troops from. However, I agree that it seems crazy how it has all this money and resources to EQUIP these soldiers when the Systems Alliance itself seems to be struggling to find funding and resources.

    18:14: You know that Joker actually lampshades this in the game? XD He actually mentions that Liara seems to have gotten “bigger”, and wonders if all asari undergo similar developments as they age, after seeing Samara and Benezia.

    18:48: Ayep. Totally agreed, Shamus. This is what ME2 should have been about. And maybe it’s not even based off the Protheans. Maybe the schematics for the Crucible were found in the Collector Base, and THAT’S what the Illusive Man was secretly after all along. (Although… the fact that you can blow the base to hell kinda screws with that theory.)

    19:40: Another annoyance is if you’re already playing an Adept, and have Kaidan on your team. You’ve got two biotic characters and Liara, a THIRD biotic, gets shoe-horned into your party. Sure, it makes sense for her to be there for story reasons, but three biotics is just overkill.

    • swenson says:

      “three biotics is just overkill”

      Your enemies certainly might think so…

      In all fairness, you could set up a triple biotic team in the other two games too. I often did, mostly because A) biotics are awesome and B) it’s ludicrously OP in ME1 (I can lift a Colossus off the ground. I CAN LIFT A COLOSSUS OFF THE GROUND.). It’s just that they’re forcing you to have one here if you’re a biotic and you saved Kaidan.

      But from a story perspective, they couldn’t let you take Vega. That would leave the VS to drive the shuttle, and Kaidan at least would never be so stupid as to do the crashing stunt, and if Vega had been the one injured so severely, no one would’ve cared. Or at least I wouldn’t have. I only vaguely started to care about him toward the end.

  56. Ateius says:

    In defense of Liara’s clothing, at least she’s not showing any skin this time. Anyone remember ME2’s ridiculous plunging necklines and exposed cleavage? Yes, ladies, please go ahead and wear that into battle. So hey, improvement.

    Also, I seem to recall it’s been mentioned, but having Anderson die to tinkly sad piano music would have been far more moving than that kid. Anderson is a character we’ve seen developed and connected with. Most players love him because you can have him punch Udina in the mouth. Anderson is someone we care about. Him dying would have a much better chance of legitimately delivering the emotional punch they were trying for with the kid, who we don’t know and don’t care about.

  57. guy says:

    Ugh, Cerberus. I’m up to the missions with the Geth, and so far only stuff directly relating to Cerberus strikes me as badly written although there are a number of characters I was probably supposed to dislike who I do in fact dislike.

    Yeah, fan-fiction Mary Sue seems about right. Sure, there is a handwave of them having front corporations and some rambling about how they apparently got outlandish amounts of support from various human factions for… some reason, but the simple fact of the matter is that in the previous games they did not have anywhere near this much stuff. And they aren’t really that interesting. Also, at no point did Shepard get to ask anyone where all this stuff came from. And then there’s Kai Leng’s first appearance and the related “WHAT HOW DID YOU DO THAT” with regards to the plan he’s part of. Though that I might have given a pass once the explanation showed up if Cerberus hadn’t already ticked me off. But it makes the Air Force Oneski incident look downright tame in comparison. Also, Kai Leng and another agent we’ll probably meet next week had completely outlandishly annoying plot escapes. I expect Josh will cover that when we get there.

    The biggest issue with Cerberus, though, is that they seem to be an attempt to fill the Geth role from ME1. But that role no longer needs to be filled because of the increasing diversity of husks giving the Reapers a ground game you could actually fight. So there’s all these logical contortions for absolutely no good reason. Even if they wanted another type of antagonist, because admittedly you fight A LOT of husks, it’s well-established that Reapers have mind-control powers. I mean, they seem to have modeled and statted out C-Sec and soldiers from each race for use in big brawls, so any instance of Cerberus doing something could have been replaced with indoctrinated forces. Probably Turians, because Turians just seem to be the most competent race around in this game. Pavelen seriously impressed me.

  58. The Other Matt K says:

    Yeah, when I first played through the game, I didn’t catch on to the ‘running out of ammo is required to get rescued.’ I was playing a biotic. I blew up the enemy for, like, twenty minutes, not understanding why they kept on coming. I started running around, trying to figure out if I needed to be in a certain location to trigger the rescue. I tried restarting the encounter, tried doing things in a different order, etc, and it never occurred to me that the game could possibly want me to ignore all of my core class features and instead fire all of my ammo for no reason.

    I finally figured it out and fired a bunch and moved on. I then went the rest of the game without even once fire a gun – except for in cut-scenes, where I forgot all my cool powers for no reason. :/

    I never fired a gun, that is, until the mandatory end sequence where I couldn’t use powers and had to fire my gun, with decent precision, while shaky and weakened, after never having bothered to practice with it at all. Which meant repeatedly dying to husks and that stupid marauder over and over and over again. (Until I finally succeeded and was rewarded with the crappy ending that followed.)

    So … yeah, the mandatory gun sequences and cut-scenes were especially obnoxious when the game otherwise gives you the option of never bothering to fire a gun at all.

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