Mass Effect 3 EP4: Gigantic Space MacGuffin of Doom

By Josh Posted Saturday Aug 18, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 380 comments

Link (YouTube)

So it figures that for the one episode this week where Shamus lets the rest of us get a word in edgewise, he isn’t around to post a long cliff’s notes of what he got wrong!

And even then we missed massive chunks of what’s going on. Like the whole “TIM wants to indoctrinate the Reapers” thing. Oh well, that left us plenty of time to talk about a completely different and spectacularly unsuccessful BioWare game. Also, the color purple, Chris being happy, and the fact that Rutskarn is a chihuahua. Yep, this is the best episode we’ve done so far. No doubt about that.


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380 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 EP4: Gigantic Space MacGuffin of Doom

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,even if you kill the council,you will still have the council in me3?What?Why?Why was this a trilogy then?Whats the point?

    1. Luhrsen says:

      I remember that if you killed the council it was supposed to be replaced with a purely human council. What happened to that? Also no explanation is given for why Anderson quit his job only a few months after the last game. He still seemed to think it was important he stayed where he was in the last game. :(

      1. Vect says:

        Well, in the books it states that Anderson decided to retire for some reason. For pretty much all the Expanded Universe stuff, Undina is always the Councilor. Hell, he’s the one who promoted Bailey for killing Pallin.

      2. StashAugustine says:

        In the episode, they mention that they pass it off as the humans handpicking people rather than the council being human. I never did that option, but if you save the council then they pop up when you talk to the Council and the replacement council appears otherwise.

      3. newdarkcloud says:

        There are two explanations, one in-game reason and one development reason.

        In-game: The Codex (because why bother saying it in dialog) states that Anderson got fed up and quit the council.

        Development: To justify all of the contrived stuff they planned to do with the two characters. Making choices with actual consequence is hard and current Bioware had neither the time, money, nor talent to successfully pull it off. How else would Anderson be able to stay on Earth? How else how Udina’s inevitable backstab (Fuck the writer who thought that was a good idea)?

        I wrote a two part article explaining my grievances with the series and it’s inability to make your choices matter and how I would’ve slightly reworked there plot. I don’t know how feasible it would be, but it was fun to write it.

        1. Eärlindor says:

          Those are pretty great articles! I would completely remove Cerberus being a hostile force of stupid in ME3, but I get the point you’re trying to make.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I was trying to work within ME2 and ME3s framework without changing any one thing dramatically. It’s to show how only making a series of small changes, you can totally make it all better.

            1. Eärlindor says:

              Yeah, I kinda figured that’s what you were going for.

              It’s also amazing how easy it is to come up with fixes off the top of one’s head, as well as how easy would be to implement some of this stuff with just a little planning.

              What the heck was BioWare doing this whole time?

        2. Thomas says:

          I’m going to disagree, we’ve already disagreed with this earlier but I’m going to do it in stronger terms.

          The true consequences of electing an unwilling politically naive soldier as counciller with a cunning ambitious amoral man in the background, is the ambitious amoral man stiches the guy up and takes his job. That is the consequence of the choice you made. And I like that the universe isn’t so Shepard centric that every now and then you make a choice and other people choose to unmake it.

          It was foreshadowed right from the beginning of ME2, the first time you see Udina, Anderson admits that hes already been ursurping him and stealing power. It’s clear that there was only one way this was going to go.

          The mistake wasn’t in councillors changing, the mistake was they failed to give your action a consequence. If you chose Anderson, the aliens should trust you more after the coup and give you more support, if you chose Udina, they should accuse you more of being involved and withdraw support. That’s what should have happened. Also instead of Anderson stepping down (which you’re right, is lame) he should have been framed in a scandal

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            You know, I’ve been okay with that. At the very least, that acknowledges that something changed as a result of what you did.

            The way it’s set up now, nothing Shepard ever did over the span of two games (with the exception of Mordin and the Krogan) really amounted to anything. At least with your idea, there would be some payoff. And I thought that I admitted in the article that I was being completely biased and that that one in particular was just poorly written fan fiction.

            1. Thomas says:

              Sorry, I think I’m being over bullish in my defence of ME3, I’m determined not to end up like Mumbles and Bioshock (and is it me or is she being a lot firmer here on this?) and I’ve overcompensated.

              Regarding your article, it seem very even-handed and level headed about the affair to me.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Thank you. I tried my best to be, even though I didn’t always succeed.

        3. Lightningstrike14 says:

          I always assumed Anderson was voted out by the Humans, because it was obvious in ME2 Udina was more at home in political situations, and all Anderson had was Shepard’s endorsement, which meant significantly less after the whole Cerberus thing, so I never questioned it.

        4. Daemian Lucifer says:

          If only they knew in advance that this would be a trilogy,this couldve been easily averted.

          1. Thomas says:

            I will say this. They planned Udina’s thing in ME2. We all know they’ve completely failed to make a story that works across any two games you pick from the story, but this wasn’t one of their failures. Even maybe the initial set-up naturally suggests that this is going to happen eventually

    2. lurkey says:

      To be frank, this is one of them retcons I welcomed. Because honestly, do you think the other races would let humanity usurp the power just like that in the first place, Sovereign or not?

      1. Ringwraith says:

        It’s a “human-led council”, not a “human council”. It’s mentioned by a few people that it’s basically just a human one for all intents and purposes as they picked some yes-men to represent the other races.

        1. Viktor says:

          Then why is the council so terrible to you in ME2 and 3? If it’s human-controlled, then we suck at controlling people.

          1. Jarenth says:

            “Humans suck at doing things” is pretty much Mass Effect in a nutshell.

            1. McNutcase says:

              It’s not just humans, though. I don’t think I’ve seen any entity exhibiting competence in my entire experience of Mass Effect (which is, admittedly, limited to Spoiler Warning and that Freelance Astronauts one where they ran through the tutorial with Male!Shep’s head on FemShep’s body (and I discovered that player gender is determined by head gender, while voice actor is determined by body gender…))

              1. Viktor says:

                I haven’t played 3, but other than the politicians, Salarians have been good in 1 and 2. Kirrahe was competent and might have been able to pull it off without you, but welcomed your help and was willing to trust you. Mordin and his assistant disagreed and worked against each other, but they were both good at their jobs and had logical reasons for what they did.

                1. Sigilis says:

                  If you’d like to preserve that illusion, please continue to not play ME3. Of course since Spoiler Warning will get to it later, enjoy your counterpoint in a month or so. Except for Mordin who is always awesome.

                  1. Zombie says:

                    Kirrahe in ME3 is epic too. In fact, the whole Sur’Kesh level made me smile because of all the dialogue between Shepard and the people from the 1st game (Wrex, Kirrahe).

          2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            My recollection was that if you took the full renegade option in ME1, it was supposed to be a fully human council, where it was only a human-picked-and-led council if you focussed on Sovereign. I think some comments to that effect are made in ME2 -for example when you talk to the turian arms dealer on the Citadel.

            But then you also get weird results if you play a Renegade game and then save the council, or a Paragon game and then kill the council.

            1. Lame Duck says:

              I think the way it works is that after Saren and Sovereign are killed, there’s a conversation with Anderson and Udina and you can choose whether to rebuild the Council or replace it with an entirely human one.

              1. Thomas says:

                Frankly the entirely human thing was a crud option to start with. If you tried to pull that crud the first thing that would happen is the Asari, Turians and Solarians would just find another place to play and refuse to let you touch their toys again.

                Secondly the Turians would kick your arse

                1. SleepingDragon says:

                  I agree. It could have worked if there was no game after. For example, the ending could state that knowing what Citadel really is human’s grabbed control of it in the chaos after the attack and deciphered the controls to disconnect the entire relay network, after which they studied them more extensively and used their absolute power over the relays to basically dictate what the whole galaxy does.

                  It would work as an ending but the split is just too big to be viable for a continued story. I mean, a human only Council, for any reason, would completely change the balace of power in the galaxy and the events in the game would have to reflect that. The real question should be what were they thinking when they were doing this?

                2. Lame Duck says:

                  I think the idea was that the Turians lost a significant amount of their fleet in Sovereign’s attack. Although you’re right that it would be incredibly hard to convince the other races to go along with it. It could have been an interesting direction to go though; the galaxy has become much more fractured and there is now two competing Councils, the all human one on the Citadel and another one made up of the three Council races somewhere else.

          3. PurePareidolia says:

            That’s amazing – “Humans will always be second rate citizens”.
            YOU OWN THEM! How are you failing this badly?

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              It’s like rigging the deck in a poker game and complaining that you ended up with the worst hand in the deck.

              Though granted, in my games, I saved the council, so I never saw this scene as it played out. As far as I can tell, these actors are different voices though – pretty sure the Asari is really lower than the regular councillor.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      This is the problem that crops up every time pre-baked storyline, voice acting, and cinematics meets up with branching plots over long periods. Eventually, you run into the geometric growth limit and have to start cutting off ramifications. It’s like trying to grow an oak tree in a test tube. It starts off fine, but all those branches have to go somewhere.

  2. Gruhunchously says:

    Why is Adam Jensen hanging out with the Illusive Man? I don’t get it.

    1. Nyctef says:

      Kai Leng never asked for this. He wanted to be in a JRPG but all the cooler kids kept getting the jobs.

      1. Sozac says:

        I really thought Kai Lang was going to be the resurrected teammate (Ashley or Kaidan). Because when I thought about it, you only got vague glimpses of him having long hair (which Kaidan could have grown out). And they both had dark hair. Then I though, “Wow, they’re really jumping the shark with this one.” But then it was some nobody with a tough boss fight on insanity.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          And when you read the books, you realize that he is only as skilled as he is not because of any competence on his part, but because everyone he talks to immediately becomes an idiot.

          Same thing with TIM. It’s how he was able to take Omega away from Aria, which I thought was stupid.

    2. Keredis says:

      Adam Jensen would have been a far better villain than Kai Leng. And you could even blame the stupid cutscene behavior he seems to inflict on everyone around him on him releasing pheromones.

      1. Sigilis says:

        Having Adam Jensen, by which I mean a cybernetic Cerberus operative that is being made to do morally grey things and is an actual character that you can eventually boss conversation into submission, instead of Kai Leng might have fixed a lot of the problems with Cerberus in this installment. For one thing, having an antagonist who might have a legitimate reason for being able to out Shepard you is a lot easier to swallow when they’re half robot. For another, having another character facing the whole paragon/renegade dilemma that Shepard faces, and essentially being you from ME2 could be the counterpoint to “You were in Cerberus and you suck because of it”.

        Instead of having this amoral and obviously evil Villain who performs assassinations with all the gravitas of Travis Touchdown and is granted game mechanic breaking powers by fiat, you would have a super powerful character who has motivations and emotions who can’t be bested by force of arms easily. You could convince him that he’s wrong at some point and then convert him into war points, paragon style. Or convince him he’s wrong and then take advantage of his momentary weakness, renegade style.

        All in all, fuck Kai Leng. Seriously.

        1. He reminded me of Travis Touchdown as well. I was humming Philistine the entire time I fought him. Well, the second time I fought him, the first was mainly incoherent rage.

          I now sympathize greatly with Skelter Helter.

  3. Michael says:

    I know we discussed this in the first episode, but seriously, what the hell happened to the graphics between 2 and 3? I just opened up Mass Effect 2, and it looks so much better.

    I know for a fact that both games use the same graphics engine, Unreal Engine 3, so the extremely noticeable drop in quality isn’t due to switching engines. Shouldn’t the quality be going up as the team gains more experience building in Unreal (you know, creating ME1 AND ME2 with it)?

    And I’m not being facetious or rhetorical, either; I’m legitimately interested as to why Mass Effect 3 looks better than 1, but worse than 2.

    1. Nyctef says:

      I don’t think it looks especially worse than 2 – the landscapes are noticeably more detailed and prettier than in 2, the effects are more spectacular but I think the characters may have taken a dive into the uncanny valley as they get more detailed and the animation quality doesn’t keep up.

      In other news: Rutskarn doesn’t give happy endings. Man, this messes up so many of my stories. Thanks a lot Rutskarn.

      The problem with Bailey is that he has a very straight, tired delivery that might be excellent character acting or might just be the VA phoning it in. It’s hard to tell.

      1. AJ_Wings says:

        This. I haven’t played ME3 and I can already tell some of the effects look much sleeker like Shockwave and Charge but some the human character models look awful while the all the aliens races look good. Is it because they’re stuck re-using assets from 2006-2007? I know UE3 is capable of much more believable human models.

        1. Nyctef says:

          Well, Shepard looks bad because her mouth is a bit too big and pronounced. I’m not sure if Josh messed it up, but I don’t remember having that problem. (When you select “Custom Appearance,” the “new” Shepard face changes to a reasonable copy of the one from the previous two games. I really liked that and just stuck with it)

          I think the aliens look better mostly because the turians/salarians don’t really have an uncanny valley problem, and because Liara looks great :)

          1. McNutcase says:

            Josh selected “custom” and made the mistake of messing with the sliders.

            I’d have been fine with my usual approach: hit “randomise” and keep doing so until I get something I can live with. Sure, you get a lot of shovel-to-the-noggin monstrosities, but you’ll eventually get something close, and then you can actually figure out what the sliders do.

            1. Nyctef says:

              Yeah, that’s what I usually do :) . In ME’s case though the (old) default faces just seem to fit the voices really well, so I stick with those.

              1. Indy says:

                Is there a way for Josh to mod the face to be Regina’s during the interim? That would be the best solution for it, I think.

      2. Michael says:

        Yes, sorry; I should have more specific when posing a question such as this.

        I was referring only to characters. I haven’t been paying much attention to backdrops and special effects because of my problem with the characters’ appearance.

        With regards to your comment about Bailey – I’ve always liked his delivery in 2. It seemed very genuine to me. I haven’t heard enough of him in 3 to make a decision one way or the other.

        ‘Yeah, well, send me a Christmas card or something.’
        ‘Spending a year dead is a popular tax dodge.’
        ‘You think he’s the only man who ever screwed up raising a son?’

        1. Nyctef says:

          Ah yeah, he was pretty good in 2. I think I had more of a problem with Bailey later in 3. [mild spoilers] There’s been a big attack on the Citadel, he’s been shot and a lot of people are dead but he still has that same slow delivery. I was expecting him to be a bit more emotional at least. Maybe I’m remembering him unfairly – to be fair he was tired and he must have been dealing with a crapload of his beloved bureaucracy at the time. We’ll see later :)

          Edit: Going back to the original point, I think the problem with character animations is that getting those right is really a matter of real skill, rather than having a good engine or processing power. It’s really hard to do, especially when the facial animations have to be generated to match hours and hours of dialog. LA Noire is the obvious example of getting it right, but IIRC they ‘cheated’ by recording the animations from the actor’s faces and using those.

        2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          I chalked it up to “they’ve always been wooden plastic, and now they’re doing so much better at the setting the dolls are starting to look unreal.”

    2. Shamus says:

      My guess: Dilution of talent.

      As they push harder to release games closer together, they expand the teams. You can do a game in 4 years with 20 people, or you can do a game in 2 years with 40 people. But actually, you’re going to need more like 50 or 60, because of the inefficiency of large groups. (Five people can work in Harmony. Twenty people can collaborate. Forty can cooperate. Fifty can attend meetings together. Sixty can fight and cannibalize each other.)

      With the short dev time and huge teams, you just can’t get the same concentration of talent. Even your top-notch people aren’t going to have time for polish like they did before. That and the perma-crunch policy of EA ensures that people are always burned out and sick of the work instead of energized and creative.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Osmosis or leadership?
        The first part sounds like osmosis. Skilled people tend to attract unskilled followings which results in a net-average ability level.

        In this metaphor, the company is surrounded by a membrane which only allows unskilled people to pass through. The skilled people are stuck in the company, and the ambient concentration of unskilled people causes the company to swell up until it is in equilibrium with the surrounding incompetence. There’s no way to control where people go, it just happens.

        But I think your later observation is more to the point. The problem isn’t dilution per-say, or large groups, the problem is leadership. The membrane allows all kinds to pass through it, and skilled people are driven away from harsh working conditions and managers who don’t respect them. Motivated people will always be more efficient than those who are abused.

        Large teams are actually more efficient than small ones, if everyone is well motivated and well organized. The point of large teams is specialization, not collaboration. I totally agree that if you have 20 people working on a single task, there’s something very wrong. A team of 60 will only work when there is clearly a few people in charge who have the best interests of the team at heart so that the members can focus on their little pieces without watching their backs all the time. Mercenaries are inherently violent, but large effective mercenary armies have been created. If you hire a hundred mercenaries and then ask them to decide among themselves who will be the next king… yeah, you’ll get organizational friction that you could torch buildings with. If you hire the same mercenaries, make it clear who is in charge, pay them well, treat them with respect, and give them reasonable duties, you’ve just made an army. The problem is that this takes work, and even leaders get lazy.

        The same issues crop up on this blog, and the comments which are attracted to it. Left to itself, any project will languish. It takes constant energy to prune the bad and encourage the good. Gardeners who neglect this principle will find themselves rapidly hedged in by weeds. Leaders are no different. One person can only do so much, and teams allow each person to do more, not less, but only if they are led well.

        1. some random dood says:

          I think the rubbish about large teams being more productive per person was well and truly killed in “the mythical man-year”. You may be able to achieve more overall with more people, but the individual gains tend to decrease as the number of people on the team increases. ( ps238principal makes the point very clearly, below.) Also , managers always overstate their own importance :-)
          As an aside, “per-say” is actually “per se”.

      2. ps238principal says:

        I once heard that way of thinking described as the kind that leads one to the conclusion that nine women can produce a baby in one month.

  4. Rasha says:

    Man these council titles are so ubiquitous. One might even say ghostly or perhaps… *sunglasses* spectral. YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!

    1. X2Eliah says:

      You know, I did expectre a pun like this the moment I heard Ruts saying his thing.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I’m surprised, X2Eliah. I expected more self-control on your part when it comes to punning. I expect to see you in my office tomorrow. There, I will give you a lectre on self-pun control.

        1. Irridium says:

          Oh that was just ghastly.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I was admittedly a bit of stretch. Only a phantom of what I can truly do with puns.

            1. X2Eliah says:

              Welp, don’t hold back then – let your puns wraith havok on these comments!

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Well, that ghost without saying.

                1. Volfram says:

                  OK, I’ve had enough of this.

                  NewDarkCloud, when people complain about your puns, it’s not a compliment. Your puns really are truly horrid. You emphasize them too much and telegraph their location, and half the time, it’s a wretched stretch of a pun anyway. You may as well have banners across the top and bottom of your post announcing “ATTENTION! THERE IS A HORRIBLE PUN IN THIS POST! SEE IF YOU CAN FIND IT! DID YOU SEE IT? IT’S ON THE 3RD LINE, 4TH WORD! I HOPE YOU SAW THAT PUN!”

                  X2Eliah’s was much, much better, but still sloppy. Shamus and Rutskarn are masters of the art.

                  [edit]Irridium’s was beautiful.

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    If you’re implying that my puns may be bad then… Yeah, of course they’re bad. Good puns aren’t funny because nobody winces in pain at them. Don’t you know that this is all to massage my own over-inflated ego?

                    Oh, well. Like a crippling lack of talent has ever stopped me before. I lack the capacity to feel shame (except on Tuesdays). :)

                    In summary, though my puns may be ghouling, they are the ones ruling.

                    Oh look, an incinerator! I always wanted one of those!

                    1. JPH says:

                      For the record, I don’t think your puns are any worse than Rutskarn’s or really anyone else’s here.

                      And if you’re worried that people are legitimately complaining about your puns, think about ALL the times that EVERYONE in the Spoiler Warning cast has complained about Rutskarn’s puns.

                    2. newdarkcloud says:

                      Not to mention the hemipenis speech.

                  2. X2Eliah says:

                    I don’t think anyone’s ever actually complained about the pun threads here. Yeah, some of them are awful – mine usually are. So what. Even bad puns help these threads take on a more light-hearted shade, to remove the mind’s focus from the usually present arguments.

                    I do see how something might just push the wrong buttons for you.. But let’s try and keep the spirit of humour for these parts and save the raging rants for… well, almost everything else, it seems.

                    1. Volfram says:

                      Most people wouldn’t complain, but I actually like a good, well-crafted pun, and threads like this do the art a disservice. Imagine a wine taster’s response to someone putting vodka in Kool-Aid and calling it Sherry.(I am not a wine taster, sadly, or I could have chosen a better wine)

                      A single good, well-crafted, well-delivered pun can do far more harm than a thousand cheap shots. Go back to the Spoiler Warning episode for Amnesia again, and pay attention to the doozy Rutskarn drops. The pun itself is… decent, but his delivery is everything. Rutskarn makes Shamus and Mumbles beg him to tell them the pun… and then he does.

                      Wonderful. Beautiful. Masterful.

                    2. X2Eliah says:

                      Honestly, I might have seen your point, but imo you are taking this way too far. First, “art”? Really? Or are you trying to be ironical in a meta-sense (if so, just stop it). Second, “more harm” – is that why people make puns? To harm others? Then fuck it, I want out. Never have understood all the groaning and moaning after puns – I’d say some have the capacity to be genuinely witty and clever – and I really like good puns, not “like ironically” or “like how it hurts others”, but just plain like -, so idk why their sole aspect of praise should be “the harm they do”.

                    3. newdarkcloud says:


                      I’m not gonna lie, that sounded extremely pretentious. Even more-so since we are talking about something as ubiquitous as puns.

                    4. Volfram says:

                      Not trying to be ironic by referring to puns as art. Done right, they’re a form of poetry. I do agree with X2Eliah’s opinion. Punnery isn’t about making the worst pun and making everybody wince in pain.

                      My comment on “causing more harm” was that if your intent is to hurt people with your puns, you can do better by applying some strategy than just spraying them out randomly and hoping you get a hit or two. I thought the flurry of puns at the end the Trainz(with a Z) Spoiler Warning episode was legitimately hilarious. Also worth noting was that not a single one of them was emphasized, and if you aren’t paying attention, you would have missed every last one.

                      Perhaps I would have been better served going with my original plan and pointing out that NewDarkCloud’s opinion is comparable to the one that games can’t be compelling without photorealistic graphics, a joke can’t be funny without a little swearing, or a movie can’t be good unless the female lead flashes her breasts at least 3 times.(4 might be pushing it.) Puns can be funny without hurting anybody. They are also far more effective when executed skillfully than when not.

                      Or perhaps my mistake was in caring about NewDarkCloud’s opinion of me.

                    5. newdarkcloud says:

                      You realize that when I posted that I was kidding, right? I didn’t actually mean that I intend my puns to cause others actual discomfort. That was intended to be a self-defecating joke.

                      Puns are inherently subjective, like all forms of humor. Trying to impose what you think of as a quality pun onto others is inherently a flawed way of thinking. What one person finds to be a good pun is something that will just piss another person off. Best to just enjoy them all regardless, imo. It’s all in good fun and not intended to be taken very seriously.

                      What I’m saying is that this is the Call of Duty of comment threads and I am Micheal Bay*. There is no way my puns can be mistaken for quality or high class, but they have mass appeal (I hope) because they don’t require much thought.

                      *For the record, I don’t like Micheal Bay, but I can see why his stuff is popular.

                    6. Thomas says:

                      :( This is way too serious for something that isn’t treated with seriousnessness at all. Is this really something we’re going to chose to fall out over? It’s always felt to me that the whole fun of the pun storms was just seeing how long they could keep it going (I’m sure people even reuse the same puns sometimes :D), I’m pretty sure there’s no intent but for the lightest of fun.

                    7. Syal says:

                      Imagine a wine taster's response to someone putting vodka in Kool-Aid and calling it Sherry.

                      Imagine the crowd’s response when a wine-taster comes to a Kool-Aid party and complains about the drinks.

                      Suffice to say, I don’t lich your attitude.

                2. ehlijen says:

                  In the spirit of appeasement, maybe we shouldn’t continue…

                  1. Volfram says:

                    I probably should have mentioned earlier, I don’t object to pun threads. I’d just prefer to have more “so bad it’s good” or “so good it’s good” content in comparison to the usual “so bad it’s horrible.”

                    The thing is, if you telegraph your pun from a mile away, people are going to brace themselves for it, and it’s going to reduce the impact, in addition to the “don’t explain the joke” effect(which is known to kill even the best of jokes.)

                    If you’re subtle about it, and you weave your pun into the prose so that your readers don’t even notice it until after they’ve read it… they don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

                    1. newdarkcloud says:

                      I don’t think I could ever bee that good at puns, unfortunately.

                    2. Volfram says:

                      It’s not hard if you just don’t bumble along announcing everything you do. I didn’t really intend to stir up a hornets’ nest, just prompt you to be more of a hard worker.

                      It’s ironic that a pun can have more sting if you simply drone along, but it takes real skill and planning to keep the buzz to the minimum required to produce something fit for a queen. It’s part of why I have such respect for Rutskarn’s honeyed tongue. I’m generally far too rash.

                    3. newdarkcloud says:

                      But that’s why I love threads like this. It’s a hive of ideas for good puns like that. That way, I can learn to make puns that are much sweeter to the ears. The best way to germinate threads like this is to make puns, even if they aren’t exactly of the highest quality.

  5. Hitch says:

    I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, or even more frustrating, but if you have Chakwas around, you can eventually have a conversation with her where she says what Shepard should to all the people giving you shit about “working for Cerberus.” She says (and I’m paraphrasing from memory), “We didn’t work for Cerberus, we used Cerberus because they had the resources to fight the Collectors when no one else in this stupid galaxy would.” Of course, Shepard never gets to actually say that to anyone else so it’s kind of a push.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      Yeah, that was a nice talk. Pity it never came up in ME2.

      1. Nyctef says:

        You *can* say some stuff like that in ME2, and I tried to at every opportunity, but the problem was it never really made a difference plot-wise.

        1. SleepingDragon says:

          And most of the time you were actually hoping you were picking something like this, but instead of a strong and maybe even somewhat accusatory stance you were getting a whiny Shepard going on about how “I don’t have a choice” and “cause Cerberus cares about them colonists.|”

    2. Thomas says:

      What I love about that speech is, she says ‘You’re right, we should feel guilty. To the Illusive Man. We took all his money and his resources and used him and then tossed him aside…’ (can’t quite remember it exactly)

      And I actually was/do feel guilty about that

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Oh really?I dont find that nice at all.In fact,I find that pretty infuriating,because THATS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS DOING IN ME2,AND COULD NEVER SAY THAT TO ANYONE,NOT EVEN TO ASHLEY-BITCH WHILE SHE KEPT ATTACKING ME!!So to me that piece of dialogue sounds like “Hey player,see how smart we are?Guess you never thought about saying a thing like that,huh?Haha!”

  6. Keeshhound says:

    I seem to recall people reporting that they couldn’t off the robot in time on a new game plus because it gets more health but you’re still stuck with the same pistol. If that is the case… why? Why would you alter the health on what is essentially a glorified QTE?

    1. Danel says:

      I think the issue is more that on a New Game Plus you can use different weapons, including the more advanced pistols… which may actually end up firing too slowly.

      1. Sigilis says:

        Also, you get a pistol no matter what your loadout… even if you don’t actually carry a pistol and have never used one.

      2. ehlijen says:

        The main problem is the sticky grenade pistol. The time delay fuse is too long to trigger within that QTE, meaning you can’t damage her at all.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      That whole chase scene was completely contrived. There was no reason it had to happen the way it did. It’d be better if she just obstructed your route and took an elevator or something that you could catch in time. This non-sense with not letting Vanguards use their powers or making their powers render the scene invalid is getting on my nerves. These are simple workarounds.

      I also didn’t like the Ashley/Kaiden thrown on a bus thing, but it honestly didn’t bother me too badly. It would’ve been better to have them not partake in Earth/Mars and just let them do other important things in the background and then meet up, but that’s really not too big of a deal.

      1. SleepingDragon says:

        When I saw the slow-mo sequence for the first time I was pretty sure they were introducing a major new mechanic into the game, like, we were getting at least one of these during every major quest, possibly more. Turns out it hardly shows up, not that I’m complaining really.

      2. some random dood says:

        Does anyone know what happens if you just say “screw this” and just dawdle along instead of chasing?

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Critical Mission Failure aka Game Over. I know because once I decided it would be more fun to kill the Cerberus goons shooting at you.

          1. some random dood says:

            And sigh – I hate “minigames”, which, let’s face it, this effectively is. A poorly designed frustrating minigame.

  7. Eric says:

    I never played the game as a female Shepard. I just realised that inside the Citadel, she has this really awkward, weird butt-jiggling walk and this standing pose where she keeps her elbows tucked close to her body to make her look “more feminine” or something. BioWare did the same thing with female Hawke’s ridiculous running animation in Dragon Age II… what were they thinking? I’ve never seen anyone walk or run like that, ever.

    Also, proportionately her super-skinny arms, thin waist, huge butt and muscular legs look really, really weird.

    Wait, I just remembered… why did Udina’s hair colour suddenly change from grey to black? Did he start dyeing it or something? But despite his widow’s peak and obvious aging he hasn’t lost any more hair in like 5 years?

    And come to think of it, how did Shepard just barge into the Council? Isn’t it like, super-secure and restricted for only specific people? What if you’re no longer a Spectre? Shouldn’t Shepard be like, shot dead right then and there? What if they weren’t talking when he/she arrived to deliver that dramatic line? What if it was like, their lunch hour and they weren’t there? What if it was 3 in the afternoon were talking about like, space taxes on some remote colony or something and Shepard was all “oh, uh, I’ll come back later. Sorry. Uh, bye.” And do they all stand there on that pedestal awkwardly in a row when they’re meeting to talk to each other? I thought that was just like, for meetings with delegates from other planets and stuff. Why don’t they get a boardroom table or something?

    Also hey, isn’t it nice that of all the hundreds hospitals on the Citadel, the one we go to, you know, the one with about 4 rooms dedicated to patients and is made up primarily of a waiting room and a front desk plus some labs, we also just so happen to bump into not one but two plot-related doctors from previous games, right in the very same room? Talk about coincidence!

    1. lurkey says:

      Regarding the run, chicks in really narrow pencil skirts and on really high heels do run something like that. Walk, not so much.

      Also how much cooler would have it been had TIM the Toolbox sent to Mars not the “Supermodel with literal helmet hair” droid, but “Elderly eccentric looks-like-Doc Brown scientist” droid. At least the romance would’ve been creepy and entertaining instead of plain creepy.

    2. X2Eliah says:

      Eh, Bioware’s modellers/animators just have this weird thing about chick bodies, it seems. It goes back to Dragon Age: Origins as well. There’s literally only two female bodytypes – one is that .. thing.. in darkspawn tunnels with about 6 flopping boobs, iirc, and the other female model is used by all the chicks in that game. Needless to say, it’s.. Well, it’s classic bioware chick modelling, let’s put it that way :|. And, yeah, the run animation is really weird in there too.

    3. Raygereio says:

      And come to think of it, how did Shepard just barge into the Council? Isn't it like, super-secure and restricted for only specific people?
      Well, they were all hanging out in the Human Council’s office.

      what were they thinking?
      A Bioware developer (I forgot who, think it was DA2 lead designer): “Have you seen FemHawke’s walking animation? Meow. So hot.”
      It’s not an exact quote because I don’t care enough to look it up, but the gist of it is the same.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      Anderson and Bailey seem to have both either dyed their hair or suddenly grew much younger. I don’t even see a reason for it.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Udina, not Anderson. I hate him so much I used the name of the other guy.

  8. Museli says:

    Does the Spoiler Warning Drinking Game include a drink for the times Shamus points out that something is happening for no reason? I hope not, or this season will result in some serious illnesses. If more game devs employed Shamus as Head Nitpicker, we’d have some much better plots floating around.

    1. James says:

      Isn’t that the job of an editor? And speaking of which were was the editor for mass effect 2 and 3? was he on vacation?

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      It didn’t before, but it does now! ;)

      1. Keredis says:

        Oh God. My liver. My poor, poor, liver.

        1. Syal says:

          We’re going to have to add some kind of anti-drinking rule pretty soon.

          “Induce vomiting if no drinking conditions are met for thirty seconds.” Or something.

          1. Dragomok says:

            “We vomit… Or we die!”

    3. Deadpool says:

      Isn’t the point of the dirnking game to cause alcohol induced comas? Because the rules include “in the original game”, “three or more people talking at once”, “Josh dying” and “Josh using more than 3 inventory items in a single trip to the inventory screen”.

      Anyone using those criteria alone would be dead long before Mass Effect 3 came out anyways…

  9. Christopher M. says:

    Sudden realization: Why on Earth does Shepherd cast shadows on the Illusive Illusion/hologram? Light doesn’t work that way!

    1. swenson says:

      Because lighting in videogames is hard.

      1. Christopher M. says:

        Conversely, turning off lighting on any given object is (almost always) very easy.

        Thus, we have this thing – laziness breeds fuel for pedants like myself.

    2. X2Eliah says:

      Because it’s a solid holoprojection. It’s a sci-fi thing, don’t ask.

    3. Mr Guy says:

      Because it’s not ON Earth. It’s on Mars.

      Geez, pay attention.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      Because Yuri and Soap and McTavish dude was like “Let’s shoot some guys up.”

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          “Because we needed a diverse set of Multiplayer maps!”

          1. Keredis says:

            I love how the one side mission quite literally takes place on a multiplayer map. EXACTLY.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              There were side-missions on all of the MP maps that were included in the game.

              1. Thomas says:

                Are those the Cerberus levels where you go back and forth between sides of the map? I enjoyed those ones. (I’ll admit I haven’t touched multiplayer because I was worried it’d force me to play or degrade my galactic readiness)

                1. newdarkcloud says:

                  Yeah. You notice how much smaller the maps are in those missions.

                  The MP will decrease Galactic Readiness overtime if you don’t play, but it will never be lower than the default 50%. It helps determine your Effective Military Strength for the ending.

                  The formula is:
                  Total War Assets * Galactic Readiness = Total EMS

                  The Extended Cut made it so that getting a full bar for endgame is easier by reducing the necessary EMS.

                  1. Thomas says:

                    I was okay with my EMS anyway because I’m a good little obsessive player and do all my loyalty missions twice daily and pick the correct options. (Plus I’m completely unaffected by whether Shepard survives or not when contemplating the fate of the universe). I was just worried if it was at 50% it could slip to 25% or something, now I know it doesn’t I’ll maybe give it a look in. Cheers :D

            2. guy says:

              I actually did like that. I was like, “Cool, Shepard goes in and knocks over the cerberus base and then the multiplayer characters show up to hold it”

          2. Note that no multiplayer maps take place on Mars. They’re all custom-built for multiplayer and then used in the N7 missions which I thought was pretty cool.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              Yeah. I was just quoting Chris from his tired MW 3 rantings.

  10. McNutcase says:

    Ooof, the doctor conversations really show off what a horrible trainwreck of a face we’re stuck with now. Between the too-wide mouth and the horrible palsied eyelids, this Shep is just not going to be easy to look at. She looks, frankly, as though she’s stoned.

    As for Rutskarn’s inspirational speeches… yeah, that’s how they normally go in the BSG boardgame. Because the humans are incredibly hosed. A friend of mine had a legendary game where they forgot to include any cylons in the deck of cards that you use to determine who is and isn’t a cylon… and they still lost. For Rutskarn’s edification: Michael Hogan. Bald guy. In the show, he has a drinking problem. And you really ought to watch the show before playing the boardgame, it can be kind of spoilery otherwise.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      She looks less like Regina and more like Regina’s impish, baby faced little sister.

      Maybe we can establish an alternate canon where, between games, the original Regina drunk herself to death or accidentally charged off a cliff, so the Alliance had to hastily conscript Little Regina to fill her shoes and carry on the legacy of giving terrible motivational speeches and slamming dudes across the room.

      1. Sigilis says:

        Actually, after she jumped off the cliff the Blue Suns recovered her body. Its in one of the novels, I think. Or was it the comic book with the ludicrously buff Turian?

        So yeah, long story short, Zaeed said ‘I don’t think a chick with a guddam catchers mitt for a face is going to unite the galaxy’.

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          Zaeed always get the last word. The final line of the series should have been Zaeed summing up the highs and lows of the journey while ultimately working it back into a story about all of his men dying horribly. Oh, and it should have included the word ‘guddam’ at least once.

    2. SleepingDragon says:

      RE: Boardgame, it’s a great hit with people I hang out with so I played dozens of games and observed probably something like a hundred more (I’m seriously not exaggerating at all). Trust me, while a godawful game may happen the humans aren’t that hosed at all once you get a feel for the game, learn the rules well and pick up some tricks. We still obviously get games were Cylons win even before the halfway mark, as well as games were humans leisurely get to the finish line but you’d be surprised how many games get decided right before the last jump.

  11. Littlefinger says:

    I read the title as “giant Space Muffin of Doom”.

    Which would have made for a better game.

    1. Imposing Snail says:

      And for the ending you get a choice of bran, chocolate or blueberry.

      1. Alex says:

        Except they all taste like cashew.

        1. X2Eliah says:

          Yes, but you can download the sugar sprinkle dlc.

          1. Sigilis says:

            With that DLC, everything ended up tasting a little saccharin for me.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Space muffin?Motherfucking,cocksucking,god damn,son of a bitch!

  12. elilupe says:

    I picture the way the original Bioware employees that still work there feel, mixed up with all the younger, new employees and having to deal with EA’s stupidity and over-control, is kind of like(geeky reference incoming) the way Simon feels in the second arc of Gurren Lagann; he worked incredibly hard to elevate his friends to riches and fame, and now that he has been successful, he has to watch as his control over the situation is lessened and the evils that come with great profit start to appear.

  13. James Davis says:

    While I agree that the ME1 characters are way better in general than the ME2 characters, I found Thane Krios to be completely awesome in ME3. He was excellent and his death scene was gut-wrenchingly personal. Very little of the rest of the game evoked an emotional response, but Thane’s death prayer was exceptionally well done.

    1. Littlefinger says:

      I’m going to say “Tunchanka” and let you figure out the rest.

      1. swenson says:

        I cried. And then continued to get the sniffles for a few days after I finished if I thought about it too hard.

        WHYYYYYY?!! T_T

        1. Littlefinger says:

          It was a GREAT sendoff. Best bioware writing in this trilogy.

          1. Keredis says:

            Agreed. Thane, Mordin, and Legion all had excellent writing for their deaths, if you can get past Legion’s “And now I must dissolve my personality for some reason” and focus more on the bit about “Geth really do have souls.”

            1. Raygereio says:

              I’m honestly baffled at someone calling Legion’s death well written. I couldn’t bring myself to care at all because of how out of left field it was. There was no built up for it: it was as if they looked at the script of Rannoch and said: “Needs moar sacrifice!” and stuck a random sacrifice in.

              Thane’s and Mordin’s were well done though. Mordin’s especially is ME3’s best moment. I would go so far as to cal it the best moment of ME in general.

              1. Keredis says:

                Like I said, if you ignore the REASONS for his death, the dialogue is well-written. Kind of like how Thane’s death is only good if you ignore the reason for it (Him being stabbed by Kai Leng because Shepard didn’t know how to shoot guns during cutscenes).

                1. Sigilis says:

                  And Mordin’s death is only good if you ignore the reason for it (Salarians haven’t yet discovered how to make cables long enough to reach the top of a skyscraper). In fact, if we ignore everything that we don’t like, they get even better,

                  On a serious note, I was personally under the spell of suspension of disbelief for all of them except for Thane’s. That one sucked, mainly due to the involvement of one of the many Plot Singularities which forced me to pay attention.

              2. bit says:

                Due to making a mistake earlier, I unfortunately got this ending- Which is actually a really good scene.

                1. LunaticFringe says:

                  I got the same thing as well, was actually glad I did, I think it’s actually a better scene then Legion’s sacrifice.

                  1. Thomas says:

                    That’s not the best scene, the best one is where you kill Legion with the interrupt. That was a really good death. Never play this game unimported because it spends the whole time kicking you in the teeth for sucking so much, but it touches on the sad moments well.

                    That shot of Legions profile, falling down is the stuff dreams are made out of. Bioware’s direction in this series has generally been fantastic

                2. Lame Duck says:

                  How the hell can one game simultaneously be as good as that and as bad as “We fight or we die!”

              3. guy says:

                Legion’s death didn’t trigger much of a reaction from me because of that very reason. But, because I didn’t have enough paragon/renegade points…

                I got to watch the migrant fleet die, hear the Rayya’s last transmissions, and see Tali jump off a cliff.

                That was a much, much bigger punch in the gut than anything on Earth and a good deal more painful than the others because I chose for it to happen. I could have gotten a different heartwrenching scene if I’d picked another option, but I picked the one I picked.

                1. Thomas says:

                  Oh my gosh, that scene was brutal. I let it run for maybe 5 seconds before I switched off the PS3, I can’t believe they were willing to do something so dark

  14. Lame Duck says:

    Why aren’t the Reapers attacking the Citadel? Didn’t that Prothean AI near the end of Mass Effect 1 state that their strategy was to take the Citadel, which gives them control of the Mass Relay network and access to a bunch of data like census records and such, so everyone’s trapped in their systems and can be systematically conquered by the Reapers?

    1. StashAugustine says:

      Their plan also involved jumping straight to the Citadel. Since they have to enter from a different place, it might be less convenient.

      1. Lame Duck says:

        I would have thought the ability to completely cripple the entire galaxy’s transportation system would be more than worth the inconvenience of having to drive for a few extra hours.

        1. Keredis says:

          They attacked just about EVERYWHERE ELSE in the galaxy first before going after the Citadel; it can’t possibly have been that inconvenient to send a fleet there instead of every single homeworld.

      2. Raygereio says:

        Why aren't the Reapers attacking the Citadel?
        There’s abolutely no reason given for why they can’t. Heck, later in the game it just happens. One moment the citadel is fine, then *poof* Reapers have it.

        It however can’t happen for story reason, because as you said: it would give the Reapers complete control over the mass relays and thus basically prevent the entire game from happening.
        Mind you, given how ME1 portrayed Sovereign’s strength the entire game already can’t happen. The idea that we’re able to put up a fight at all against a foe that superior is ridiculous to begin with.
        Another unanswered question; why aren’t we using that control to isolate the Reapers? It’s like Bioware completely forgot about that little detail from ME1.

        1. Sigilis says:

          Its not the only detail from the earlier games that they conveniently overlooked. *cough*Conduit*cough*

          1. LunaticFringe says:

            Do they ever explain what exactly happened to the Conduit? I know the Council hand-waves Virgil as being ‘too degraded’ or something like that, but the big mass relay stuck in the ground is hard to miss. Of course that would negate so much of Bioware’s ‘finely crafted plot’ that they might have just ignored it.

            Mental note: Remember to bitch about the stupidity of the Reaper’s Citadel capture when we finally get to it.

            1. Sigilis says:

              I’m glad you asked! They don’t mention it.

              The entire focus of Mass Effect 1, the thing that the Reaper Sovereign and his pet Spectre were ransacking the galaxy to find. The thing that allowed them to pretty much instantaneously travel to the citadel. No, that would have made the ending different from the artistic vision that the developers had. And we all know how important that is, unlike logical integrity.

              1. StashAugustine says:

                Dammit, you guys, I hadn’t even thought of that. Now I’ve got another thing to complain about.

          2. anaphysik says:

            You know just how *hard* they forgot the Conduit? That stupid beam in London that Marauder Shields is guarding? ALSO CALLED ‘THE CONDUIT.’ GRAH.

        2. Corpital says:

          I think that has to do with the Thanix the turians modeled after Souvereigns main cannon. Which was explained in something like two sentences by Garrus in ME2.

          IIRC Codex states 3ships with them should be able to take a reaper out.

          1. Raygereio says:

            Yeah, but that’s a handwave that isn’t backed up by any logic or inuniverse justification.

            Sure, the Thanix canon might have enough punch to start threatening a Reaper. But those canons need to be on ships in order to do you any good and just saying “Oh, every ship uses it now” is ignoring the logistics of actually overhauling and refitting every ship in your fleet in under 2 years.
            And that’s also ignoring that Sovereign one-shotted ships left and right in ME1. Heck, he headbutted one to death!

            Sidenote: I’m not sure, but I don’t recall ships actually firing Thanix canons in cutscene. At least, I don’t remember weapon-effects similar to that of ME2’s Normandy. Then again, ME does not have best of trackrecords when it comes to this.

            1. Corpital says:

              Ok, they have more ships than we have guns and we need 3guns per ship. BUT: if you stop in the intro where the Reaper is destroying that alliance ship(boom, shockwave, collapsing floor) and just look at them, this allmighty machinegod is incapable of doing any damage to the alliance ship. Clearly, our shilds have improved!

            2. ehlijen says:

              Logistics? You mean scanning planets for a few days and pushing a button in the science lab? :P

            3. guy says:

              The Reapers are powerful, but they aren’t gods, no matter what the Geth Heretics think. Soveregin didn’t take on the whole Citadel fleet because a bunch of it was patrolling the far side of mass relays Saren shut down, and the entire Heretic fleet was helping him. They’re a good deal more powerful than dreadnoughts but the council races have a lot of dreadnoughts and a good percentage of the Reapers are occupied by harvesting operations at any given time.

              Honestly, the animators do not seem to know that the Thanix cannon looks like the Reaper main gun because that’s literally what it is. The endgame involves Thanix missiles, even though that makes not one iota of sense.

              1. StashAugustine says:

                Animators and writers not talking to each other about technology is one of the running curses of Mass Effect.

            4. Alexander The 1st says:

              Well, the Quarians get away with the idea that they sprung for the retrofitting so they could take Rannoch.

              And the Geth…it could be argued the Heretic Geth already had access to that information.

              Which actually could say a lot; they had a group of machines who knew how to install the Thanix Cannons and to make them more effective.

              1. guy says:

                Also, Legion was explicitly confirmed to be sending information back to the mainline Geth during the opposed loyalty conversation between him and Tali.

    2. The worst part is when they actually get around to doing that in the endgame, you can still jump to Earth. Even though jumping that far requires going through multiple relays.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Omglol, using the conduit end on Ilos to reach the conduit end on the Citadel as your means of getting everybody back to Earth would’ve been super silly/neat.

        1. PurePareidolia says:

          Actually it would’ve been less silly, more exactly what the conduit was designed to do in the first place. All you’d have to do would be get to Ilos, but that’s a one-line fix “I guess when it was knocked out of position the reapers couldn’t target it to lock it anymore.”

          Oh wait, you meant the entire fleet, not just us. Except we wouldn’t need to send the entire fleet, just get to the citadel and unlock the relays so they can come in under their own power. that would’ve worked fine.

          Congratulations! You solved Mass Effect 3!

          1. anaphysik says:

            I meant ‘silly’ in a good way.

    3. guy says:

      The other thing is that the reason the Citadel is so important every cycle is that it’s more or less at the center of the Mass Relay network. I am confused by the fact that the Reapers even can get to all the homeworlds without taking the Citadel.

      1. Thomas says:

        I’m pretty sure they don’t mention the whole idea of the relay network thing once in the whole of ME3. It barely scrapes a codex sentence in ME2. It’s hard to believe they can just forget something like that

  15. kanodin says:

    Bioware being cheap on anything you can change or have a choice in is what really bugs me. They spend who knows how much money to get Martin Sheen as the Illusive man but they minimize Ashley/Kaidan’s involvement because they don’t want to hire a redundant voice actor for any longer than they have to.

    They spend the vast majority of the second game focusing on the people you can recruit and their stories over the main plot and then all those guys, except the two from the first game, get reduced to showing up once because there’s a chance they could die.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      Then again, I’d say even TIM is a better character than Kaishley/Ashdan :| If not on a plot-logic-basis, then at least TIM’s purely more tolerable.

      1. Even says:

        YMMV. K&A might be annoying, but at least they’re not horribly written semi-Mary Sues. There’s just no end to the headaches when deconstructing TIM’s character.

        1. Thomas says:

          Not at all, Illusive Man is written as a complete loser wannabe in a lot of ways, and I don’t hold issue with his leadership, Shadow Broke competence, he displays that well in ME2. I’m nearly at a point where I’ll gush, and you’ll all be completely unimpressed but at the very least TIM has a complicated core character trait that’s consistent throughout the whole of ME2, ME3, that drives all his actions.

          The problems with him is that they don’t put the character moments in the right place. We have a whole game of switched evil before they even think about giving him character right at the end

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I’ll give TIM credit. He had a lot of potential as a character. Furthermore, his final scene was well done and I like the way the game handled it. (I think it’s buried in the comments of last episode.)

            I’m neutral to the twist of him being indoctrinated the whole time. It makes bringing Shepard back make even less sense.

            It’s just that he is a symbol of Cerberus, and Cerberus is where a lot of the crap that has plagued ME2 and 3 came from. It’s amazing that nobody so much as questions him. It’s not that a character like that can’t work, but that he needs good set up and lampshading.

            I’m feeling a lot more generous towards ME3 than I was going in. It’s a good game, but marred by so many flaws in the writing.

            1. Thomas says:

              Whoops I missed Kai Lengs entrance here, wait a sec, I’ll blurp down below now (this is going to be so underwhelming now I’ve hyped it, but I wanted to wait for Kai Leng’s). I’ve got a response to the resurrection but you’re completely right about all the stuff that went bad is pretty well represented in the stuff they do with him in both

            2. Lame Duck says:

              I can’t speak to him in ME3 ’cause I haven’t played it, but from watching the ME2 Spoiler Warning series it seemed like TIM could have been substantially improved by making him less “cool”. Instead of smoking constantly because it makes him look more mysterious, he should have been smoking constantly because he was under an incredible amount of stress and strain from running Cerberus. He should have been balding and come across as being constantly harried and rushed when he was talking to Shepard. It would justify the whole “rogue cell” thing a bit if it felt like he wasn’t in complete control of the organisation and he might feel like a bit less of a jackass if he came across as someone whose morality has been compromised by the weight of the responsibility.

              1. anaphysik says:

                Those are some good ideas. A bit like how the Shadow Broker would’ve been immensely improved by being some little accountant guy rather than BOWSER. (Okay, wow: so volus came to mind as the right look for the Broker, and I just realized: what if Barla Von had been the Broker? *squee* So perfect.)

                (Lair of the Shadow Bowser actually makes the whole ‘Isn’t TIM cool, you guys?!’ thing even worse. Frig is his dossier stupid.)

                1. Vect says:

                  I will say that the fact that he has a liason with Asaris makes him a hypocrite. Guess the ridiculous smoking is sorta a gag.

                  1. Alexander The 1st says:

                    Well, as Chambers mentioned in the second game, being pro human doesn’t mean alienist per say. It means more about making humanity the leading spear tip of the galaxy.

                    Basically the whole “Humanity is the entire council” thing they had at one point made as an idea for Renegade Shepard in ME1, IIRC. Aliens can still exist, but they exist for our purposes.

          2. Even says:

            ‘Complete loser wannabe’ wouldn’t be exactly how I’d describe him. It’s just that most of the stuff he’s involved with in regards to the plot of the games or the history of the universe is at the end of the day just almost always either ludicrous or insane or improbable to various degrees. Which all makes him look like either an idiot or a psychopath. While he does succeed at times, it doesn’t make his actual plans any less horrible. The fact that the writing uses the handful actual successes as a means portray him as some sort of visionary genius is just twisting the knife in the proverbial wound. He’s just an extremely lucky asshole as far as most of his history with Cerberus goes.

    2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Last couple of episodes I’ve been cutting them some slack on the budget point, but now I wish to reverse myself: wasn’t the point of being acquired by EA that they would finally have a real budget?

      You have EA’s moneybags! Fix the graphics, the faces, the animations, the eigen/jigsaw/whatever plot, and most importantly hire someone to tell Casey Hudson when his ideas for the ending suck!

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        They wasted all that EA cash on the foolish Old Republic MMO. It’s the only reason they went to EA in the first place, else they would have stayed independent.

        And EA took a massive hit after that. Their finances are doing pretty poorly now and they are looking for any sort of profit. It was clear from the get-go that they rushed this game in order to ship it out the door and cash in on it. How else do you explain the load times, the Day 1 DLC, and the clearly micro-transaction focused multiplayer store?

        As Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage said (paraphrasing), it’s clear that EA, knowingly or not, has affected the way Bioware does business. They have gone from a company that makes money to make games to one that makes games in order to make money. Once you realize that, all of the poor/rushed decisions make much more sense. This is not the Bioware you used to know. They are just another corporation in a long line of corporations.

        1. Thomas says:

          I want to just say, we all mocked UFC and other games for needed 5 million in sales to turn a profit, no matter how much money EA had, to pour it all into a game and then require 10 million sales to turn a profit would be ridiculous. TOR was an MMO so the potential gains were much higher than they could ever be for ME3. If they made the best RPG in existence it still wouldn’t sell for that kind of money

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Exactly. And the budget for TOR was huge. If it was successful, it would’ve been the best gamble in gaming history. However, they had to have known going in that the project was extremely risky at best and downright suicidal at worst. It simply isn’t that smart to gamble so much on one project.

            I don’t want EA to go out of business. I want them to shape up and live up to the potential I know is there. They can be a great games publisher, but they are holding themselves back with comically high budgets for many of their staple franchises among other questionable decisions.

  16. Keredis says:

    You know, I love how Bioware came up with the idea of Renegade interrupts to allow you to actually shoot people during cutscenes instead of just standing there pointing your gun at them looking angry while they hurt your friends/allies.

    I’m sure this time is just an oversight, and there will NEVER EVER in this game be another point where they don’t give you an obvious interrupt option to just shoot someone before they kill someone.

    I mean, Bioware wouldn’t pull this sort of rubbish twice in one game. They’re too good at writing for that.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Exactly! They had the mechanics already in place, yet they didn’t want to use them for fear that they would fracture an already fragile main plot.

    2. I think every conversation should have a permanent “shoot them” option bound to the centre of the dialogue wheel. Even if you’re talking to a hologram and it doesn’t make sense, or your squadmates or something. Maybe killing civilians gets you court marshalled immediately but I wouldn’t care because my shooting list is so long.

      Fallout: New Vegas did this right by making a primary design principle “make sure the story works if the player murders everyone they come across the moment dialogue finishes”

      1. Thomas says:

        I’m okay with them not doing this in Mass Effect, I figure the series from the start was trying to be story oriented enough that Shepard has always had a defined character (this is why I hated ME2 but ME3 broke me of the habit and convinced me to just be content with the character Shepard is and stop trying to play my own). The voice acting alone in the Mass Effect series hugely forces this. You can make all the appearance tweaks you want and the second Shepard speaks you’ll realise it’s not the person you created.

        So them saying there’s no universe where Shepard kills civilains on whim doesn’t bug me. I’m okay with them creating a corridor of choice and saying Shepard can be anything in this region but nothing outside of it. The truth is, a pyscho Shepard would have been put down and confined, not allowed anywhere or listened to by anyone and the galaxy would have died. It’s just they fail at that a lot of the time and in lots of the cases at even doing that

      2. swenson says:

        I… am actually completely OK with this. 99 times out of a hundred, I wouldn’t take that option, and I can see them not allowing it if it’s a random civilian or if you’re, like, talking to the Council or something (or ending such choices with an instant Game Over–you’ve been court martialed and sentenced to a hundred years hard labor on the sun or whatever), but honestly… so many confrontations, either “shoot them” is an option eventually (so why not shoot them earlier?) or there is no good reason for Shepard to not shoot them.

        Renegade interrupts are an excellent start, but there aren’t enough of them…

        1. Keredis says:

          Yeah. Maybe make it that if a conversation would end with a fight (or has the possibility of ending with a fight), you can start the fight then and there by shooting them in the face. I think Shamus actually suggested such a thing in one of his columns.

          But I’d gladly sacrifice the ability to shoot people during conversations for less Cutscene Incompetence.

          1. Thomas says:

            They should definitely do it for pretty much every fight. And leave it on for long enough that you can do some talking _and_ take it if you want to

  17. Mr Guy says:

    Props to Shamus for the apparently un-picked-up Flight of the Conchords reference.

    Spoiler Warning Cast, I am disappoint.

    1. bit says:

      Rutskarn got it. Baugette!

      1. Mr Guy says:

        Ah. I lost track – I thought that was Shamus again.

  18. Lame Duck says:

    It’s a bit late, because this only just occured to me, but why didn’t the Reapers use the Collector’s paralysing Stirges when they attacked Earth? Are they not bothering trying to make a human Reaper anymore?

    1. Keredis says:

      I guess because the Collector base (and all the Collectors/stirges) were destroyed by Shepard, and the Reapers no longer have the technology to create more. Since, as far as recreating extinct races go, it’s so much easier to create a robotic Rachni queen that is capable of reproduction than it is to make some paralyzing drone-things.

      1. Corpital says:

        Maybe Mordin perfected his bug spray technology out of boredom and then they distributed it to every single entity in the whole universe with the same method they used to change all the gun to need ammo.

        Also…were the husks etc.called Reapers at any point in ME1/2? It was confusing to hear people saying something like “We are nearly reaching a stalemate with the Reapers.” when they really meant “We are still not capable of killing the weakest and most harmless thing since these exploding balloons on Eden Prime in ME1.”.

        Villain Decay at its best.

        1. Keredis says:

          I’m pretty sure they weren’t. “Reapers” just sort of became a catch-all for “Reaper Forces” in ME3.

          1. Ringwraith says:

            Pretty much, seeing as Husks started coming in many different varieties now, so it would start getting confusing.
            They even start differentiating between different sizes of Reaper ship too.

        2. guy says:

          Pretty sure they actually meant they were throwing enough dreadnoughts at the Reapers it was starting to bog them down. But the Husks are the entire Reaper infantry arm though technically not Reapers themselves.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      Because that was no longer convenient for the writer and thus was discarded.

      1. Thomas says:

        This is so true. The whole collector thing was shoved under a carpet. I guess maybe we killed them all but that shouldn’t erase their technology

        1. Keredis says:

          And it’s not like killing all the Rachni prevented the Reapers from creating an artificial one to breed more Rachni anyway.

      2. guy says:

        They forgot to tell the Codex writers that, though. So I guess they were cut because… I am drawing a total blank. I cannot imagine why. They even had a Prothean body model! Not just Jarvik in the DLC but another instance we’ll encounter later too!

  19. Raygereio says:

    A litte tidbit about the gynoid. She infiltrated the mars base under the name Eva Coré. That’s the name of a dead lover of TIM from the crappy Mass Effect comics.
    She looks nothing like this gynoid, however the gynoid looks suspiciously a lot like Miranda (same bodymodel). So TIM rebuilt his dead girlfriend and then proceded to make her look like one of his favored underlings.


    About Turian females. I’m to lazy to look the video up, but one in of the promotional videos for ME2 they had a feature about designing the aliens. One thing they brought up was the difficulties of designing females aliens. To paraphrase a Bioware designer: “What are you going to do? Slap boobies and lipstick on a Turian? That would be silly!”
    Point 1: Why do all alien life need to conform to humanoid sexual dimorphism?! They. Are. Aliens! Use your friggin imagination.
    Point 2: The comics gave us female Turians. … They slapped boobies on a Turian and called it a day.

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I like to think that we’ve seen many turian women (or whatever you would call them) and we just didn’t notice. Under all that armor, how could you tell? On the other hand, since we probably haven’t seen any in the game, I choose to believe that turians are seriously dimorphic and they got the plumage I wanted the krogan to have.

      Hey, I like feathers.

      Now here’s the real killer question: if a turian woman had feathers, and turian man didn’t -and they each mated with a different asari -would the children of the woman have feathers and of the man not?

      1. Lame Duck says:

        I don’t think Asari inherit any physical traits from their non-Asari parents; in fact, I think most Asari are supposed to have a non-Asari parent. Although I’m not at all sure what it is they are suppose to inherit. Or how.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Asari copulate with other races to randomize their own DNA for reproduction. They don’t actually use their mates DNA at all in the process.

          Them sleeping with fellow Asari is akin to inbreeding.

          1. Keredis says:

            That’s always kind of bugged me. Doesn’t that basically mean that they were inbreeding for most of their history until they finally made first contact with an alien race?

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              That is what they are implying, isn’t it? Samara explains that Ardat-Yakshi were common until the space faring age because of that. It’s very similar to how inbreeding causes all sort of genetic diseases to be more prevalent.

              1. Paul Spooner says:

                But if they can extract DNA from such a wide variety of species, they should be able to use just about any cellular material for randomization. A bit of blood, a stalk of celery, severed limbs, a steak. The Asari would (by this logic) be the sentient canibals of the galaxy.
                Plus “randomizing” DNA is a terrible idea. That’s like running DBAN on your harddrive.
                Clearly, this is all just handwaving to justify in-game sex-ualization of the Asari, but it would be nice if it made a bit more sense. Something like “We think it’s fun!”

                1. Alexander The 1st says:

                  Randomizing DNA actually does make sense.

                  Keep in mind, they’re only randomizing one side of the full DNA strand, and identical amount that, if it weren’t for the Asari’s default DNA, could compromise something completely different than an Asari.

                  But the main strand the Asari use is always of an Asari. Lightly touching on Eugenics, it’s possible the “Build an Asari” genes are *technically* dominant over any other race’s genes. Which would mean, in any genetic pair, they would rule out.

                  On the other hand, stuff like nose length and such may *not* be dominant, hence allowing for changes to be made.

                  Also, it’s worth noting Asari don’t actually use the other’s DNA to do the randomization – it’s the memories of the person that causes the randomization. It’s presumably allowed because of their mind-melding capabilities.

                  So the celery, while it *could* be used to randomize, probably doesn’t store memory and sensation, therefore very little randomization would occur.

                  1. Sigilis says:

                    Point of order, randomizing ‘one side’ of a DNA strand would make no sense, since if it doesn’t cause the DNA to split in two or bunch up oddly (and become useless) due to incompatible base pairs it would result in a Chimera. Or rather a being who has half her cells from the Asari, and half of them random wacky fun genes. That is if the mix’n’match genetics could produce a viable cells, otherwise she would be all ordinary Asari.

                    Additionally, modifying a genetic pattern in anything but the most minor and predictable ways tends to produce very, very different results. Whether the changes are horrifying (the classical image of the mutated freak), completely inconsequential (what probably happens if you mess with non-coding regions), or result in changes in metabolism that alter the fractal resulting from the blueprint. The last one is ostensibly what happens, but it seems like such a method of reproduction would have a lot of EXPENSIVE failures to deal with, and therefore makes little sense to me as a reasonable way for a species to develop. Which is probably why other methods of genetic exchange are used on this fair planet (plasmids, chromosome pairs, etc) that encourage that the data is free from corruption and won’t destroy the resulting life form. Of course fictional life is free to develop traits that are only possible instead of likely due to it being fiction, so thanks for indulging me by reading that paragraph. I really appreciate it.

                    What is more likely is that Asari/non-Asari pairings are closer to cloning than actual sexual reproduction. That is, if any of this made the slightest bit of sense, since interspecies reproduction with beings that evolved in environments that potentially differ radically from you own will probably never happen due to a billion other factors.

                    Long story short, stop thinking about how the kids will turn out, and just fondle some blueberries already.

          2. PurePareidolia says:

            Just think of Asari as the xenomorphs from Aliens, except instead of taking on features from their non-Asari parents they all look identical and just act very very slightly differently.

            As in, a human xenomorph from 1 is very different to the dog xenomorph from 3, while a krogan-Asari might be slightly more tempramental than a salarian one but you’d be very hard pressed to notice it. Ardat-Yakshi meanwhile are all identical because they inter-species lack genetic variation. Oh wait.

            What I’m saying is the Asari are full of it, their choice of partner is meaningless and they reproduce through binary fission.

          3. Lame Duck says:

            ??? How does that make any damn sense?

              1. Lame Duck says:

                Oh, and if the Codex said that Cerberus is a completely reasonable and intelligent bunch of folks with coherent goals and motivations and there was no railroading going on in ME2, would you jump off a cliff? I mean, would that be true?

                1. SleepingDragon says:

                  Let’s be honest here, Asari mating is this alien thing that was never quite explained and, I imagine, was never really that thought through by the devs anyway.

                  If we wanted to really get into deconstructing it I’d have to point out that the codex doesn’t mention any long term, large scale experiments of crossbreeding Asari with other species in a controlled environment to see if there is any form of cumulative effect and/or to what extent the traits from the non-Asari parent are really a thing. Yes, it is believed that an Asari-Krogan child will be more temperamental but this may very well come from societal expectations.

                  The way I imagine it Asari mothers just use the partner’s DNA pretty much as an RNG for altering the DNA of their own clone (obviously just little bits of it, I mean, if they just altered all of it the results would be rather unpleasant). But again, I don’t think this was ever explained in all the mechanical details.

                  1. Lame Duck says:

                    It really does seem like something that should have had absolutely no explanation at all. Just lampshade it and move on, ’cause the more time you spend trying to justify it, the more time people will spend thinking about it and there’s no way you’re going to be able to make it reasonable.

                  2. guy says:

                    You know, what struck me as strange is that the biggest explaination of that comes from the bartender Matriarch on Illium, but she also seems like a counterpoint. I mean, the fact that she’s got a firey temper could be put down to just being raised by a Krogan dad, but she also seems to have bone ridges on her face. They’re mild, but distinctly Krogan-looking.

                2. newdarkcloud says:

                  If the codex told me to jump off a cliff… then I’d have to do it because how else would the plot progress.

                  1. Jarenth says:

                    The codex would update at the bottom of the cliff. “Haha, silly player, you jumped off a cliff! Why did you even think that was a good idea?”

                    1. newdarkcloud says:

                      Okay, I laughed at that one.

      2. bit says:

        What? No, that doesn’t make any sense, even ignoring how Asari work. Strictly male features aren’t just present in male DNA, and strictly female features aren’t just present in female DNA. In fact, potential for everything is in everyone, pretty much.

        Then again, I guess they’re aliens.

        1. Sumanai says:

          Well, if something is in the Y chromosome, then it can’t really come up with someone who as a double X instead of YX.

          As I understand genetics, which isn’t much.

    2. Even says:

      The biggest problem and a major plothole with Core is that how did she get away with the servo noises that the platform makes with Every. Single. Step. as we can witness with EDI.

      It’s just pure insanity that no-one in the facility would pick up on it.

      1. ehlijen says:

        That could be explained by EDI trying to emphasise her nature as a way to seem less disturbing to the crew? Or maybe it just turns Joker on?

        She talks about her hair that way at some point. She can form it into indivual strands instead of the bucket it is normally, for infiltration purposes. But because that’s not what she’s doing, she might chose to deliberately act roboty.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          …and you kinda banged it up pretty good, first by Vega’s ramming making it be a crash victim, and then all the holes you put into it.

  20. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    I’m generally not complaining, but I think there’s a couple of places where the crew is playing “Turian Councilor” to get them going and coming. Had the Salarian dalatrass just been a regualr salarian with breasts, we would have complained too. It makes perfect sense for amphibians to look the same -they aren’t generally dimorphous on earth.

    Had they destroyed the second Normandy at the start of this game we would have complained that it was already done and this was stupid.

    On the redesign – A bunch of people apparently complained that having the armory on the CIC deck made no sense – so they moved it to the shuttle bay. Despite that fact that now that I actually want to rotate my weapons around a little bit it is a major pain in the neck to go do that since it involves an elevator ride.

    1. ehlijen says:

      And correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the galaxy war map comm centre in the back sit pretty much inside where the old drive core just to hang? (Which hasn’t changed in look or size if you check it out in the engine room).

      1. Sigilis says:

        I always figured that impossible space thing is why they blocked off the windows in the crew quarters… not that having a constant dazzling light show in your bedroom isn’t conducive to sleep.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          Only the old life support area had windows overlooking the drive core, as the old crew quarters never had them, and they still don’t.
          There’s no ‘impossible space’ thing as the war room is where the old comm room used to be, as well as the lab and armoury, the latter of which is now completely blocked off and what’s left of it you can see is simply a pile of crates.

          1. Sigilis says:

            I got curious, and was able to piece together an image through which I prove my earlier anecdotal ramblings.

            Image Link

            For those utilizing text to speech machines, or who are loathe to click links, I aligned the two maps from the ME2 and ME3 CICs as best as I could and indicated the area that the war room occupies that should house the volatile and expensive drive core. Additionally, I included images of the unblocked and blocked windows in the crew quarters. I think now more than ever that the space that resulted from the war room’s addition is not possible.

            1. Indy says:

              My favourite bit is the dramatic widening of the ship you seemed to not have noticed.

            2. Ringwraith says:

              Huh, obviously those windows were so minor I never noticed the ones in the lab/armoury. I stand corrected.

    2. Phantom Hoover says:

      Because the only options for sexual dimorphism are breasts? Admittedly she’s wearing that robe, so there might be some morphological differences it covers up.

  21. Eärlindor says:

    So let’s see: the cheap, lazy, and rushed feeling of ME3 could likely be the result of all the money dumped into TOR (and we all know how well THAT worked out).

    A Prothean Deathstar (xD) Mcguffin of Deus Ex Machina Doom (say that five times fast), pulled out of a hat. A type of robot we’ve never seen the likes of before (nor will again), also pulled out of a hat. Cerberus goes crazy: pulled out of a hat. PROMOTIONS FOR EVERYONE (except Shepard :[), pulled out of a hat. Heck, the freaking god-child, er, Catalyst too. ME3 really is a game of hat-pulls. I never thought of it that way before.

    1. Keredis says:

      Wait, Cerberus going crazy counts as being pulled out of a hat? They were pretty much crazy from game 1. Or did you mean their truly ridiculous resources in this one?

      1. Eärlindor says:

        Yeah, their status to Galactic Empire. Also turning against you completely when they have NO REASON to do so.

        1. Sigilis says:

          Actually, I found TIM’s anti-Shepard stance to be refreshingly in character. Without Shepard around to blow up all the Cerberus ‘Rouge Cells’ TIM would have a hard time dealing with all of them. Spoiler alert, its implied that Cerberus still has a rouge cell problem in the Benning mission. Also, its revealed in the end that TIM is an asshat.

          1. Indy says:

            I love that mission. It’s the only time there is an implication that Cerberus is trying to downplay its stupidity.

          2. Eärlindor says:

            I don’t see how it’s in character. Cerberus wants to stop the Reapers like everyone else. So their solution is to kill EVERYONE for NO REASON? This is BS. TIM has NO reason to do ANYTHING that he does in ME3, and has EVERY reason to want to still work with you, especially for a pro-human Renegade Shepard. He could still advocate control if he wanted to, maybe even make it a secret project, but to kill EVERYONE else trying to stop the Reapers when it’s even to their own detriment? No. A million times, no.

            And don't give me that “TIM is indoctrinated” crap. Indoctrinated at the end, sure, but what about the beginning of the game when he first presented his “control” plans to Shepard? Before any implants or anything? Was he indoctrinated then? Or after you storm the Cerberus base (a whole other post itself) and talk to him? There were no implants on him then. Was he indoctrinated then? The game never tells us anything regarding this. TIM being indoctrinated is one of the crappiest and cheapest contrivances in the Mass Effect universe. All so you can have more mooks to fight. Just because.

            There is nothing in-character about any of this.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              Actually, according to a comic, he was indoctrinated well before the events of Mass Effect 1.

              1. Keredis says:

                If he was indoctrinated then, why did he work against the Collectors instead of trying to control them as well? Or even just have the indoctrination trick him into thinking that something else was the real threat?

                1. Thomas says:

                  Indoctrination has to be subtle if you want the victim to survive for long periods of time, and it’s suggested every cycle there’s a faction manipulated by the Reapers into being too extreme and end up wanting to kill the Reapers.

                  It actually makes a lot of sense, because we have TIM who always wants to do good, but somehow doesn’t realise that everything he’s doing harms humanity more than it helps.

                  I even think it works for ME3, where the indoctrination is clearly being ramped up from the start. But like everything, we’re missing the characterisation. Instead of just flicking an evil Cerberus switch, they should have shown us more scenes of TIM losing it or hints of indoctrination in the middle of the game. As it is, you talk to TIM on Mars and I think your next contact with him is Thessia. They put all the explanation and complex character stuff right at the end

    2. Merle says:

      They do mention later on that EVA (Dr. Eva Core) was a specific special project undertaken after EDI told Cerberus to go Warp themselves – another Reaper-inspired AI with stronger safeguards to ensure it stays loyal.

      Presumably, she was designed as the first of a series or something along those lines.

      She’s still pulled from a hat, but she does get justified after-the-fact.

  22. Chris says:

    Looking back: I’m pretty sure I simultaneously completely ruined and totally saved this episode.

    Don’t worry, though, I’m taking cliffs notes and writing down ideas for intelligent things to say next week.

    1. Corpital says:

      Don’t forget the singing! It makes everything better.

    2. tjtheman5 says:

      Chris, are you feeling purple?

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      Why did it take me that long to get “Turry”? I’m ashamed of myself for not getting that.

  23. Thomas says:

    I’ve got a pet theory, that everything that turned people onto ME3 hate, came from flaw. Maybe not most of this people on this blog, because we were resistant to ME2. But the other people who enjoyed ME2. There were plenty of mistakes, but I think they’d have been ignored like them in ME2 if Bioware had got this right.

    Bioware do not understand how to present a setback. All the worst scenes in this game in the end, come to Bioware trying to make a sad, bad moment and doing it in such a bad way the player rejects it and throws it back in Bioware’s face.

    They injure Kashley when we could have saved hir perfectly fine, everytime Kai Leng is around, there’s a setback that Shepard could have solved. They kill off a child but they don’t introduce it properly so it feels like emotional manipulation. And most of all in the ending they give you down beat after down beat, set back after set back and after an hour of misery and ‘this is going bad’ gameplay and cutscene, they try and do the worst thing of all, and make the player choose a bad moment, as though it’s the players fault that it has to be like this. And what do you do? You don’t accept it, because it BS, it’s not coming at the right emotional point and the reason for it is shoddy. So instead of having a sad moment, you blame the bad feelings on the developer, because they made the bad moments incompetently.

    There were plenty of other flaws, and most of you would have still been bothered by them, specially the ones who hold ME1 on a higher pedestal than the others, but if Bioware could present a negative story development in anything but a player skull bashing way I bet there wouldn’t have been the controversy

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      That’s a good, extremely plausible theory. In fact, I think that’s a significant factor in why Mass Effect 3 was so poorly received. The lack of choice is a problem, but not a significant one if presented well.

      1. Lame Duck says:

        I think it’s important to note that Bioware has never actually been very good at doing meaningful choices; both KOtoR and Jade Empire had the same problems with ridiculously binary paragon/renegade choices that Mass Effect does. Their strength has always been characters, setting and narrative (probably in that order), so I think they could easily have gotten away with having lots of ultimately meaningless choices if the writing had been stronger.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I think that pill would’ve been easier to swallow if Bioware wasn’t constantly pushing the “your choices will mean something down the line” thing that they were. If they were more up front about your choices really only displaying the player’s attitude towards things and not actually affecting the main plot in any meaningful way, then they would’ve been in the clear about that.

          But no, they had an “artistic vision”. Come on guys, we have to stick with it, our “integrity” is on the line.

          1. Lame Duck says:

            Well, true, they really shouldn’t market the game on the meaningful choices it doesn’t have, but I will point out that KotOR does have “Choose Your Path” in big letters on the back of the box, so, again, it’s not like this is a problem that’s new to Bioware’s efforts with Mass Effect. Plus, nothing will ever be able to top the insult of Fable claiming “For Every Choice, A Consequence”.

            1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              In BioWare’s partial defense, I remember an interview back, oh probably ME2 or there-abouts, where one of the developers said that every Shepard was a hero going to the same place, it was just a matter of how you got there. Bablyon 5 did something similar- there was never any question how it was going to end, just how they got there.

              It was always a minor irony that a game with such obvious free will trappings was also so obviously on rails.

              The defense is only partial, however, because around the start of ME3, all the rails converged and there was no “how you got there,” there was “CONTENT!!!!!”

              1. Keredis says:

                This defense also completely contradicts their statement of “We’ll have so many endings, and they’ll be so different, that you won’t even be able to describe them as A, B, and C.”

                1. newdarkcloud says:

                  That statement still makes me wince in pain. Directly contradictory to what actually happened.

                2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                  Not entirely. It is possible that you could end up in the same place by taking a dozen different routes through the end game. Red, Blue, or Green are just the culmination of a lot of railroading.

    2. The worst part is where they make your character completely incompetent and then the other characters say it’s not their fault. YES IT IS.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I wouldve forgiven lots of crap in me2 and 3 if only they were consistent with the first game and themselves.But nope,we have to retcon a bunch of things because we have no clue how to write a story in a preset setting.

    4. X2Eliah says:

      Random note: I know that “hir” was a gender-neutral (or third gender) descriptor in some SF book, but I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was. Would appreciate if some kind person would remind me on that.

      1. Cradok says:

        Star Trek New Frontier, most likely, as they have a hermaphroditic crew member.

        1. PurePareidolia says:

          I’ve seen the term around but never knew where it originated. So that’s interesting.

          1. Cradok says:

            I’m pretty sure the term didn’t originate there, but Google doesn’t seem to be able to tell me where it did.

        2. X2Eliah says:

          Probably not the one I was thinking of, since I’ve never bothered to read any star trek books.

          1. Thomas says:

            Darn I thought I was being original :D Maybe an Asimov book? There’s a couple of hermaphrodites in those

            1. X2Eliah says:

              Hm. Maybe? Idk.. From the snippets I can remember, it was something more modern though – possibly Hamilton? idk.

              Looks like this is actually a fairly popular pronoun, turns out. Didn’t know that.

    5. some random dood says:

      In summary, the writing was crap? I can get behind that :-)

  24. Jason says:

    Poor Fortification. Josh picked it over AP Ammo, but apparently isn’t going to use it.

    1. McNutcase says:

      Of course not. It slows down his cooldowns, so he can’t spam Charge and Nova as much. He wouldn’t have used AP ammo either, since he’s refusing to shoot anything in favour of Charge, Nova, Rinse, Repeat.

  25. Deadfast says:

    I think somebody mentioned that the cutscene animations were shared in one of the previous discussions. No better example than female Shepard carrying Kaiden – who appears to weight about twice as much as she does – on her shoulders without breaking a sweat. I get they were trying to show compassion but this looks just ridiculous.

    1. Shepard is a cybernetically enhanced space badass capable of firing a shotgun that would break the arms of a non-Krogan. She can carry Kaiden if she wants.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        Or use a sniper-rifle that would break the arms of normal humans, and thus is only really able to be mounted on artificial things due to the recoil, like say, Legion.

    2. Syal says:

      Now I want to see Shepherd take Kaiden to the hospital bed by repeatedly Novaing him closer to it.

      1. Jace911 says:

        “I’m sorry Commander, but the influx of refugees has filled all of our billets-”

    3. guy says:

      Given the number of times Shepard does things like fall twenty feet and land on her spine before immediately standing up with no sign of pain I choose to believe that all the electronics and metal we shoved into her over the course of ME2 stuck around and have made her capable of outlandish physical feats. Also, power armor.

  26. Thomas says:

    SO. How the Illusive Man rocks and Kai Leng’s characters role is really good, even if the character himself and his actions are BS. Also why I love TIM, and I mean that literally, for the whole game I’ve just wanted to give him a hug. Forget Ashepard, I ship TIMShep.

    What I love about TIM is that he is the worlds biggest Shepard fanboy, he makes Legion look like a flake. The minute Kai Leng steps into that shot you just instantly know that he’s basically a great big doll that TIM’s dressed up to look like Shepard. And Bioware writing is so solid, because this is shown as completely canon by the end.

    TIM is completely overawed by Shepard and everything Shepard does. The man worships the ground beneath your feet and it completely blinds him to how the universe actually is. It’s to the point, where TIM doesn’t believe your enemies, or that Shepard might actually hate him. Because he likes Shepard he imagines himself in the role of respectful rival, two men who are absolutely alike but sadly on the wrong side of the line.

    And he believes this so much that when Shepard dies, there’s is _nothing_ to be done but throw every resource he has to bring Shepard back. Billions and billions, ships, crew, scientists, all of it is not important unless he can bring Shepard back, because Shepard is important darn it.

    And when his favourite lacky suggests putting mind control chips in Shepard the pain he feels. No! Don’t you see? It has to be Shepard! And besides Shepard is his fr- a useful resource. He doesn’t need mind control chips because he genuinely believes that when Shepard has been brought to his side of the affair, she will see things clearly and join up with him voluntarily.

    And when you do everything you do in ME2, I really do think the TIM is deluding himself so much, he really thinks what he says is the truth. When he says giving back the Quarian was a useful olive branch, even if it wasn’t what he’d have thought to do. He’s telling the truth, he’s rationalising everything away. Shepard can do no wrong, they’re not disagreeing, it’s not a screw you, it’s just a different way of doing things. A useful olive branch.

    Shepard and TIM are both dedicated, good, skilled men working for the sake of humanity and now Shepard is on TIMs side there can be no wrong doings and he’ll arrange everything and do everything, he’ll recruit aliens, former comrades, people who hate Cerberus and want to do everything to crush it, to get Shepard to stay on his side, to make people comfortable. When he betrays you, he expects you to understand, surely someone like Shepard knows the choices that TIM has to go through, that sometimes you have to do these things. And he’s hurt and a little confused when you call him out on it and so he hides it by taking a firmer line.

    And then you go blow up his base, take everything you can and run away. And yet even now, when every action you take is to defeat him, he still refused to try and kill you, even though it’s the sensible option. ‘Shepard might still be useful’ he says in the logs. He’ll kill your crewmates, quite happily, they led you astray and away from him, there’s nothing special about them, only Shepard is important.

    And he turns Kai Leng into a mockery of you, he tells himself that KL is actually just like Shepard, and obeying orders and working for him, just like TIM always wanted. He can’t see that Kai Leng, is an unorignal psychotic douche without the capacity for leadership or original thought, because he wants him to be Shepard too badly. He’s not hurt when KL doesn’t kill Shepard, because Shepard’s Shepard and nothing can be considered a failure if they can’t defeat Shepard. But he’s hopeful, next time he says, out with the old and in with the new. You will become Shepard, KL, next time.

    And in all of his conversations with you, its of an old faithful friend who put all his trust in you only to be cast aside again and again. Don’t you understand Shepard? You’ve got to show me some respect, something anything, I can’t take being ignored and cast out like this, I’m going to be tough I tell you. Tough love.

    And in the end as he puts the gun to his head, he realises that he’s gone too far and strayed too far from the path. He wasn’t on the right side.

    Shepard: You’re stronger. Don’t let them control you.
    The Illusive Man: I tried, Shepard.

    Gunshot. Curtain on the powerful authorative man, who thought that he was doing right for humanity, blind to his failings, thought he was a hero, just like his hero, Shepard but despite everything, in the end he just couldn’t be enough like Shepard.

    1. Thomas says:

      Of course, there are a myraid failings around him and Cerberus in the story, and they forget how important this relationship is, right up until a handful of logs at the end of the game. But there was nothing wrong to his actual character

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I see definitely see the logic in it, but it reminds me just a little of the Indoctrination Theory in that the evidence is there if you look for it, but it seems incredibly unlikely that Bioware intended for that. It feels a bit like Alternate Character Interpretation.

        Not to belittle you or anything. I can perfectly understand the progression of thought and it is valid, but I doubt Bioware had that in mind.

        1. Even says:

          It’s still a better interpretation than the IT. ME2’s plot might as well be written off with him being a deluded fanboy since his plans make just about as much sense as you’d expect. ME3 I’m not so sure would all fit in with that.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Yeah, this is basically explaining a motivation that wasn’t really touched upon. The IT involves interpreting scenes ,way different than face value. I mean, this actually fits pretty well. (Remember that he explicitly tells Kai Leng that he reminds him of Shepard.)

            1. Thomas says:

              I honestly think, that maybe I’m overstating the fanboy aspect, but Bioware had always intended the character to be Shepard fan, if not Shepard obsessed (because in there universe it makes sense to obsessed with Shepard) both in that scene and the log he references KL as a replacement Shepard (there was no way that in with the new line was coincidence). And from the lack of control switches and his continual praise of Shepard I really think the game is suggesting that he thought Shepard would see he side of things. He’s always explaining his opinion and eventually in this game he snaps and calls him naive, which just shows, unlike any other person, TIM wants Shepard to understand and accept his point of view

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Then that begs the question, since the Illusive Man is confirmed to have been indoctrinated before even the events of the first game, then why wouldn’t the Reapers subtlety influence him to think that way or why wouldn’t they try to prevent him from thinking that.

                In the novels, they did something similar to an indoctrinated man who was going to kill himself to stop the Reapers. They altered his hormones to make him think it was a coward’s way out.

                To imply that TIM is a Shepard fanboy would be to imply that the Reapers are also Shepard fanboys. Which, given the ending, makes this one huge clusterfuck. Ugh.

                1. drkeiscool says:

                  When was it confirmed that TIM was indoctrinated that early? I just remember a log in the Cerberus HQ showing that he got Reaper tech shoved in body (without anesthesia, no less).

                  1. Dave B says:

                    The comic basically says outright that he became the Illusive Man after he encountered some reaper tech long before the first game.

                    It doesn’t specifically say he was indoctrinated, but that was when he got his weird bionic eyes.

                  2. Taellosse says:

                    The comic that stars TIM has him indirectly being affected by a Reaper device which gives him his funky eyes. It is, not coincidentally, also in the same scene that Saren is first affected by Reaper tech, though he doesn’t get truly, deeply indoctrinated until he finds Sovereign, in the aftermath of the mission he was on with Anderson, which is the subject of the first novel.

                    The implication, as I took it, was that TIM (and Saren)’s initial exposure had a very subtle, slight affect, because it wasn’t, by itself, sufficient, or constant enough, to truly indoctrinate them. But it tweaked them both just enough so that when they encountered more Reaper tech later, they’d be more likely to seek it out, and further their exposure, and thus their subversion. It takes longer for TIM because he doesn’t encounter a live Reaper first-hand, like Saren does, but they’re both slowly, gradually subverted, beginning with that first exposure.

                2. Thomas says:

                  Frankly, that question would be begged anyway, because the Illusive Man spent all his resources on resurrecting subject. My own take is that non-game canon is written by a troll who has no idea of the consequences of his decisions on game narrative. :D

                  In that case, the answer would be, regardless of TIM’s motives, that the Reapers didn’t believe Shep was a big threat and that TIM was a bigger problem and his resources needed to be destroyed. They certainly never indoctrinated him enough to stop him hating Reapers (like they did with Geth and the Enkindlers) maybe his will was too strong for that and the indoctrination had to last for too long (it’s weaker the longer you need it to work right). Right up until the end he still believed in fighting the Reapers and he took his life to do it.

                  Anyway the thing that flaws my take is the word ‘fanboy’ which I use because I don’t believe Shepard was the only person who could’ve saved the universe. In-game this isn’t canon, so fanboy is incorrect, it would place TIM in a position where he understands and admires Shepard’s ability.(Which incidentally the Reapers do too :D Citations, Human-Reaper, conversation on Rannoch)

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    Is there anywhere were it actually says that indoctrination weakens over time? I don’t remember hearing that, but it’s possible.

                    And I don’t think you can argue that the Reapers were not interested in Shepard. Unless we forgot all about Harbinger and his fascination with Shepard and his crew.

                    1. Sigilis says:

                      As far as the game informs us, it remains in effect for years at least. The colonists on Feros email you if they survived and the Asari tells you that she still feels the indoctrination effects from her time with Sovereign. She manages to stay free of Reaper influence only because of the whole Borg collective thing they have going on on Feros. Make of that information what you will.

                    2. Thomas says:

                      Sorry I didn’t mean weaken over time. I meant indoctrination is degenerative proportionally with the strength of indoctrination. So if you tried to indoctrinate someone for years, it’s got to be very very very subtle and weak (it can get less subtle when they only need him to survive for a couple of weeks(

                    3. Thomas says:

                      This is the codex on indoctrination

                      As you can see strong indoctrination turns people to mush in weeks. And subtle talks about years as the outside, and we have TIM being indoctrinated for 5+ years. So that’s got to be crazy subtle. Turning ‘I want to protect humanity’ to ‘I want to protect humanity by any means necessary’

                      I’m fine with TIM being indoctrinated, the VI says there’s always a cerberus, so it make sense that TIM was being influenced from the beginning. It helps explain why he could never see how his actions weren’t helping. I don’t think he was ever indoctrinated to his opinions of Shepard though, it makes his blindness less of a weakness even, because it was Reaper directed blindness

                      (A man with Reaper tech in his eyes can’t see the consequences of his actions or what’s he’s become. Heh.)

                    4. newdarkcloud says:

                      I see, that’s what you were referring to. That makes sense. It now does fit into established lore. It just seems like that’s something that accidentally fit into the lore rather than something that was planned and deliberate, if you know what I mean. That makes your theory quite plausible.

                      If that was the intent, then Bioware really should have made that more clear, either with lines that indicate a subtle self-doubt or just a few more scenes where we see the Illusive Man just thinking to himself or talking with other people. It becomes again an issue of presentation, not plot, intention, nor lore. Players can understand subtlety, but that’s more ambiguous.

                    5. Even says:

                      I still find it hard to believe they had any plan at all. There’s just something so fundamentally broken with the way they wrote this game and I’d bet it’s most likely a serious lack of proper direction. Unless their plan was to try to tickle the “puzzle nerve” (or whatever you call it) with purposefully bad writing, there just isn’t anything obvious in the details that would make you instinctively analyze the plot a little deeper.

                      At least for me anyway. For comparison, Alan Wake with its metaphysical mumbo jumbo actually works in this sense because it fits naturally to the themes and it blends (mostly) into the whole narrative. You instinctively try to make sense of all the weird and strange and pay attention to details, the whole story being basically a mystery to be solved when very little gets explained outright and so you come up with your own theories about it, and that’s all fine.

                      If there really were things in ME3 that you were supposed to pick up, then I have to say their sense of style and delivery is abominable.

                    6. Thomas says:

                      Oh yeah, I’ve no pretense that they’d thought about indoctrination at all when doing his character stuff. It just happens to fit in nicely.

                      Okay, how about this line, when TIM meets Shepard at the end, Shepard asks, why bother with us? And TIM replies ‘I need you to believe’

                      Also when he says ‘Shepard…I- I only wanted to protect humanity’ that pretty much sums up all I think of his character. He wants Shepard to understand him and accept him, which is why he’s constantly reaching out and trying to persuade Shepard of his right in both games, and he was a person who wanted to do good, but couldn’t see that he wasn’t doing that. He’s always seen himself as a powerful highly motivated individual sacrificing himself for the greater good of everyone, and he sees Shepard as a powerful highly motivated individual working for the great good of humanity.

                      Heck in this scene on Mars he says ‘that’s what seperates us Shepard, where you see a means to destroy, I see a way to control’ . That’s what he believes, that the thing that’s different between the two is just that TIM is more practical and otherwise they’d be the same.

                      Look at this scene
                      See the way he completely dismisses Liara, but he spends all this time talking, trying to convince Shepard to see the same way as him

                    7. newdarkcloud says:

                      As long as you can acknowledge that it only accidentally fits in, I can acknowledge that as a very solid and more likely interpretation of the Illusive Man.

                      Now if only that plot would call him on it!

                    8. Thomas says:

                      Woah, my characterisation of TIM as Shepard respecting and making poor choices regarding Shepard because of it, is canon, look at all those quotes and scenes, it’s been as deliberately writen as Jacob’s niceness or Legion’s fanboyism or Miranda’s control fetish. What is an accident, is that it tallies nicely with TIMs indoctrination, when actually I don’t think they were really thinking about his indoctrination until ME3

                    9. newdarkcloud says:

                      Yeah. You’re right.

                      I’m just still mad that my introduction to the Mass Effect series (I played on the PS3 and I’m too cheap to get a 360) was working with terrorists for no reason other than that the plot said so. That’s my own bias.

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        I see definitely see the logic in it, but it reminds me just a little of the Indoctrination Theory in that the evidence is there if you look for it, but it seems incredibly unlikely that Bioware intended for that. It feels a bit like Alternate Character Interpretation.

        Not to belittle you or anything. I can perfectly understand the progression of thought and it is valid, but I doubt Bioware had that in mind.

    2. Sigilis says:

      I can honestly say that this interpretation of TIM has never occurred to me. Primarily because of the way he keeps trying to kill Shepard in ME2 by being complicit with the Collectors, via their delightful traps. It could be chalked up to him feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse once he has to argue with Paragon!Shepard or seeing what a mewling subservient jerk-face Renegade!Shepard is. However, I find TIM to be creepy and stalker-esque even before factoring in this character interpretation. As a result I will continue to believe that he only resurrected you to deflect attention from the true savior of the galaxy, Joker.

      1. Thomas says:

        See he can’t have been trying to kill Shepard, he’d invested too much into him to want to kill him off and he was prepping Shepard to do the Omega run well in advance of that. There’s no reason to disbelieve him when he says he believed Shepard would survive (again, because he genuinely respects Shepard) and after those events he explains to you his motivation and expects you to accept it as rational, I think he even tells you that he’d believed you’d have done the same in his place

    3. LunaticFringe says:

      Honestly, this interpretation of the character would’ve been great if Bioware had intended it that way. Unfortunately they do very little to hint at this deeper character motivation, instead attempting to keep him ‘mysterious’ which mostly results in ‘chaotic stupid’ actions.

    4. drkeiscool says:

      This is exactly how I saw the Illusive Man, especially after finding all those logs in the Cerberus HQ.

      1. Thomas says:

        Phew, I’m glad I’m not the only one. I was feeling like maybe it was turning out that I was just a little crazy :D

  27. StranaMente says:

    I was quite pissed about Udina vs. Anderson. If I chose one it was for a reason, a reason Bioware chose to ignore.
    Also, I got reinstated as a spectre in the second game, and got reinstated AGAIN in the third. That’s lazy.

    1. Thomas says:

      I think Spoiler Warning actually turned down the reinstation to piss off the council.

      If you are a spectre the line is ‘the council have chosen to uphold your spectre status’ instead (and they actually give you access to stuff, spectre status was only a title last time as a goodwill gesture)

      1. StranaMente says:

        In my playthrough they did reinstated me, even I was already a Spectre, I remember it because it was really non-sensical.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Again, your choices are meaningless.

        2. Thomas says:

          That’s a bug then, because the line above is directly quoted from a youtube video I checked to make sure.

          Either way your choice is meaningless, but it was meaningless in ME2, really in ME2 there should have been some consequence to that meeting and after that the affects could die out and be left out to dry. It’s sensible enough they’d make sure you’re an out-fitted spectre come what may here

  28. Thomas says:

    Also on episode, I’d like to say everything the council says here is completely reasonable and only highlights the weakness in the plot. ‘You’d like us to divert resources to an unknown failed maguffin, lacking a crucial piece and retake a planet completely taken, instantly when there planets are under attack everywhere and there’s every indication there is more to come’

    Stand together Shepard? Then why aren’t you giving Earth resources to the Asari and Turians?

    1. Mr Guy says:

      Maybe they’re all gone.

      Related – what bugs me a bunch about this is that Shepard is so cock-sure (pun semi-intended) of everything with no evidence other than “because I said so.”

      Oh, we lost contact with a moon base in the opening cutscene. Your dialog choices are “It must be the reapers!” and “Of course it’s the reapers!” Oh, the reapers attacked Earth and every other homeworld. Of COURSE the main focus of their attack is earth, and that’s where everyone should make their last stand! Oh, we found some mysterious information about a theoretical device we don’t understand. Of COURSE it’s the key to defeating them and our only hope!

      Yeah, the developers know that that’s how the plot goes. And we know (because we watched the trailers and read the press releases and know it’s a Mass Effect game) that that’s how the plot goes. But it’s really jarring and really lazy for Shepard to somehow know all this.

      1. To be fair, rapid communication loss when you know the reapers are coming is the kind of thing you can reasonably ascribe to reapers.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          That is kind of their MO. Divide and conquer.

          1. Sigilis says:

            In this game they epitomize this strategy. When they arrive in the galaxy they split up their force and attack all of their enemies at once. Then, after a protracted phase of fighting that allows their enemies to come together in teamwork and unity: BAM! They obtain the means to shut down intra-galactic movement and… do nothing with it.

            Yep, divide and conquer. Reaper strategy 101. God help us if they manage to find a copy of The Art Of War.

            1. Ringwraith says:

              Well, the tactic of splitting up to attack all the different races causes them to cease acting as a unified group, which causes them to gain the upper hand. You only need to look at all the systems that become Reaper-controlled over the course of the game. They also immediately destroyed the batarians when they arrived, but being isolationist no-one noticed until the refugees started arriving in droves.
              The end of the game is all all over the place plot-wise anyway, so I’m looking too deeply at that.

            2. LunaticFringe says:

              Hell, Sun Tzu might as well be calling out the Reapers: “The power of those united is whole, while the power of those who are divided is reduced.”

          2. Keredis says:

            Forgive me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “Divide and Conquer” usually refer to dividing your ENEMIES and then taking them out piecemeal, rather than dividing yourself and letting your enemies do that?

      2. IFS says:

        To be fair shepard has been set on things with little evidence since the first game, remember saren’s trial at the beginning?

  29. Dante says:

    Yes, this is the best episode yet this season.

  30. Phantom Hoover says:

    So this point’s been made a few times before here, but it’d be kind of interesting if you guys took a look at the Freespace games at some point. The overarching plot is very similar to ME’s, and it seems you guys would have some interesting things to say about it. I suppose it’d probably be poorly-suited to a video format if you wanted to talk about the plot, though. Maybe a written article or something?

    1. Otters34 says:

      Seconded! The series does both the ‘weird aliens with very inhuman customs’ and the ‘Enigmatic evil aliens that blow everything up’ thing extremely well.
      Of course, as mentioned above it’s not really suited to a season of Spoiler Warning.

      1. Phantom Hoover says:

        Although I can totally see Josh ‘accidentally’ sending his wingmates alone to fight a squadron of Dragons.

        1. Otters34 says:

          Josh: “You go have fun guys!” *lots of kabooms and cries of despair*

  31. Ateius says:

    So in the first six minutes we have:

    1) An extended chase sequence that for all intents and purposes may as well be a cutscene since you’re not allowed to affect the outcome,

    2) A nice serving of cutscene incompetence, and

    3) The game completely ignoring your decision at the end of ME2. Blow up the station, don’t blow up the station, doesn’t matter, Cerberus has Reaper tech and husk-like soldiers.

    Then later we conclude with a council scene that plays out identically regardless of your choice at the end of ME1, which at the time was implied to have significant consequences.

    It gets better later, right? It’s not all this bad. It can’t be, with all the praise it’s gotten.


    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Don’t worry, that big important decision from the first game with the Rachni Queen will have a large variety of effects on the story depending on what your choice was.

      1. guy says:

        It actually does matter a bit, but yeah.

        1. Indy says:

          I’m gonna call “Bullshit” on that one. You get to choose between Alien and Alien/Jurassic Park. That’s it.

          1. guy says:

            There’s also an effect on War Assets and some emails. If you saved the Queen in the first game and save her again, she’ll help you out. If you release the Jurassic Park Breeder, she turns on you and slaughters an engineering corps I will grant it is hardly a huge chage.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              Apologies in advance, but someone has to say it.

              “Because war assets totally impacted the game in a meaningful way and completely altered the ending. (/sarcasm)”

    2. Keredis says:

      The game does get better after this. The worst is over.

      At least, until the next horrible part.

      1. LunaticFringe says:

        Tuchanka and Rannoch will be refreshing, but other then that it’s going to be a season of disappointment and sadness.

        1. Indy says:

          I liked Palaven as well. That one should be next week.

        2. swenson says:

          Tuchanka will be some episodes of sadness too, but in a totally different way.

          1. LunaticFringe says:

            Well there will also be a few completely confusing Cerberus missions on Tuchanka as well.

          2. guy says:

            Rannoch will be the saddest, in my opinion. It was the only time I can recall where I ran into a “Are you sure?” dialogue node and swapped my answer without the original option I picked being obviously stupid.

            Then I felt terrible and depressed and had to keep moving to reinvigorate myself with some hate for the ponytail. It was cleansing.

    3. StranaMente says:

      As always, any time the game gets near Cerberus the plot goes batshit insane. And many of your important decisions are disreguarded, because they interfere with their story.
      On the other hand some of the companion stories are nice, as it was in ME2, but, for me, that alone can’t save the game.

    4. guy says:

      Frankly, I can divide the game into three parts:

      1) Things aside from the very last encounter with the Illusive Man that involve Cerberus

      2) The ending

      3) Things that are good

      Unfortunately, a lot of the game involves Cerberus, because they’ve been given the role the Geth had in the first game as the face of the Reapers that you can actually fight. Except… the husk legions already fill that role, are more fun to fight, and make vastly more sense.

      I won’t say the rest of the game is perfect or even that I didn’t notice logical flaws, but as Shamus points out if something is sufficently good you don’t notice the flaws because you’re entertained.

      The biggest story complaint I have is that the writers for the main plot practically forget Indoctrination can be used by the Reapers for purposes other than filling Cerberus’s ranks. No one important, not a single person, abruptly betrays you and turns out to be Indoctrinated. No Indoctrinated non-husk members of other races even provide cannon fodder so much as once. There’s a spectacular instance where Cerberus breaks all logic and common sense by launching a sneak attack on a secure STG facility which could have been made much more sensible by having a newly-returned strikeforce betray you for a superfically reasonable cause and turn out to have been Indoctrinated on a deep cover mission.

      There’s so much storytelling potential in the capacity of the Reapers to mind-control anyone who spends too much time near their stuff, and it’s completely thrown away. There’s no creeping fear that any seemingly reasonable risk only looks like that because the Reapers have started to get their hooks into someone’s mind, not even a passing mention they might be using it to exacerbate tensions between Salarians and Krogan or Quarians and Geth or Humans and everyone. I mean, I guess the Geth kind of get Indoctrinated but that’s not really the same process.

  32. guy says:

    Ugh, the chase sequence. Scripted chase sequences where you must fail are always annoying, but the existence of Vanguards makes this one about a million times worse because for 1/6th of the classes and probably a higher percentage of players catching up is not only possible but trivial.

    James, you are fired. That model of shuttle has a pair of frontally mounted anti-armor guns! That is why we use it! We have an entire spaceship capable of taking out a reaper-tech cruiser just hanging around! Even Wrex would have tried shooting first!

    Actually, this is the start of a trend which will piss me off throughout the whole game. Two, really. First, although the Codex explicitly says that kind of shuttle has anti-armor guns used for ground support, they’re used precisely once that I recall. Second, when creating the SR-2 Cerberus demonstrated once more that they’d huffed paint as children by making it too large to land on planets. Then they neglected to give it a stealth shuttle. So all too often there are times when we’re forced to take a shuttle and land well away from our destination because of AA which the SR-1 could have gotten us past just fine. Also it might have been able to flatly ignore some because it was a frigate and not a shuttle even when it was not virtually invisible.

    Honestly, what would really have made Kashley a nightmare to keep around is the way they’d have to change everyone else’s dialogue. That could get stunningly expensive and is probably why they’re removed from the game until the Garrus situation is resolved. Then again, both Garrus and Tali could be dead but there’s massive quantities of dialogue associated with and about them so I really don’t know. Maybe they were gun-shy about giving them too much of the spotlight after the Horizon disaster last game.

    Man TOR was a disaster.

    It feels almost like all the good BioWare people ended up on the Geth/Quarian writing team because those sections are the best sections.

    I think virtually the entire human population still lives on Earth.

    To be fair the Serpent Nebula is completely artifical, but yeah.

    Hilariously, the entire council occasionally says something like, “Well I do kind of owe this incredibly sweet job to you, so I’ll shake some help loose from my government.” I was actually mildly disconcerted, I’d expected them to be a bit wary.

    So, there’s some persistant bits of irritating writing that are beginning to show up. First, everyone being so pissy about the aliens refusing to come help because they have their own problems. The people with the most claim to recieving help at the moment are probably the Turians, mostly because their homeworld might actually be held. Second, Shepard stressing out over things. The second was mostly a problem because my Shepard had the ruthless background and deliberately sacrificed like 90% of her command on Torfan to secure victory and never displayed the slightest hint of regret or sadness about it.

    1. LunaticFringe says:

      Palaven seems even worse off then Earth sometimes. When Garrus points out his hometown is a giant red crack on the planet, I don’t think you can actually see that from orbit without, I don’t know, a massive tectonic shift/volcanic eruption. We’re talking Yellowstone supervolcano levels here.

      1. Indy says:

        Earth has the same red spots at the end of the game.

        1. LunaticFringe says:

          True, the problem is that these huge red spots are not addressed. With the level of destruction shown on Earth and Palaven there probably wouldn’t even be a breathable atmosphere. I get that the giant spots ‘look cool’ but the level of destruction shown on the ground in contrast to them is completely silly.

      2. guy says:

        Yeah, but the Turians are still fighting. They’ve got some coherent chain of command and still do things like call for air support and have a line of succession for Primarch, and their fleet is still engaging the Reapers on a large scale. If anything, the massive destruction is a positive sign: The Reapers want to capture as many inhabitants alive as possible, so if they’ve begun massive saturation bombardments it means the Turians are enough of a threat to them they chose to forgo a ton of husks (And Turians provide possibly the most useful husks aside from Ardat-Yakshi) and several destroyers in order to get rid of a problem. Pavelen is battered, but it’s not yet out of the fight. Earth is under Reaper control and its defenders are dead or scattered.

        1. Thomas says:

          Plus the Turians actually manage to regain a lot of the planet with Turian help. With some Alliance support they’d have driven the Reapers right out of the system

    2. swenson says:

      In all fairness, you had to do the “land in a drop vehicle away from the AA guns” thing in Mass Effect as well. The only difference is that you dropped in a ground vehicle (the Mako) instead of a shuttle. In fact, the SR-1 not being able to land for various reasons is a big factor in a few cases–you can’t take the Normandy to Peak 15, for example, you can’t land it on Virmire until you take down the AA guns on foot, and you can’t land it on Ilos because there’s not enough room.

  33. topazwolf says:

    One thing that has always annoyed me was how the shuttle in Mass Effect 2 was unarmed. I was always sitting in my chair think “If only we had guns on our shuttle, then we could do something that didn’t require an uphill slog on foot”. Then comes mass effect 3 where James crashes the shuttle. The first thing that popped into my mind was “If only the shuttle had gu… wait a second that shuttle does have guns!” Then Vega proceeds to not use the guns. It became a game long obsession for me to find out if the guns were actually functional. It took until the Quarin Home world for said guns to be fired once. It really bugged me, small inconsistency though it may be.

    1. Sigilis says:

      Their goal was to get the data from the robot intact, Shepard informed Vega of the importance of the data. This might have actually been the best chance to get the data intact, seeing as its probably not easy to blow a shuttle up and subsequently find the flash drive or whatever with the vital information.

      Also, it looked cool, right?

      1. topazwolf says:

        The problem did not lie in how he did not use the guns in that particular instance, I also thought it would be a poor idea to shoot it (though crashing it into a pile of burning wreckage was hardly an improvement). The problem is that the ship clearly is stated to have guns in both the codex and has actual visible guns on the model. There are several missions where it could have cleared the landing zone before kicking you out into a foot battle. Even ignoring this, the first time the guns were used was eighty percent through the last game of the series. It just bugs me that the game forces you into bad positions so that you can shoot more people with a rifle instead of just killing them with cannons and moving on with your day.

        1. drkeiscool says:

          To be fair, Sheppard calls out Vega on this if they converse after Mars; Sheppard is worried about Vega because it was such a reckless move. And if if he blew up the shuttle with guns, that might risk completely destroying the data.

    2. guy says:

      Gun anger buddy! I didn’t actually see the guns on the model, I read the codex entry (I am the bane of lazy writers everywhere and read all of the things) and kept thinking “This would be a wonderful time to get some Close Air Support from the guns on the shuttle we landed here with.” Also, I kept wanting the SR-2 to fire missiles or something at convienent times.

    3. swenson says:

      That may be the point. Vega is not really the “think things through” type, and Shepard does chew him out for it later.

  34. Zaxares says:

    2:42: Originally, Charge wouldn’t even work on her AT ALL. The first time I encountered Dr Eva, I went, “Oh, this should be EASY. I’m a frickin’ VANGUARD! Watch me… Hey, why’s Charge not working?” And then she escaped while I was frantically mashing the button. It was only after that that I realised it was meant to be a scripted chase scene, but it was still very immersion breaking. It looks as if they fixed Charge not working on her in a patch though.

    4:33: Shepard’s shuttle is a 44 Kodiak-A. Basically it’s the military version of the Kodiak with thicker armor plating, improved shields etc. That’s probably why it suffered less damage in the impact than the Cerberus shuttle, which is a plain 44 Kodiak.

    10:30: I think it’s all down to pure numbers. Earth’s population is listed as being something like 13 or 14 billion at the time of the Mass Effect games. That’s WAY larger than the human population on any other settled planets. Plus, the other races (turians, asari, salarians) seem pretty hell-bent on protecting their own homeworlds too, no matter the cost.

    16:03: No, if you saved the Council in ME1, it’s a different three alien Councilors. They’re more sympathetic towards Shepard, but they still basically refuse to move to save Earth on your word alone. It’s another classic “illusion of choice” moment.

    Also, it’s a shame you didn’t speak further to Udina afterwards, Josh. I always thought Udina was an ass, but the conversation you can have with him there shows a surprisingly human side to him. It was probably the first (and only) time I ever genuinely empathised with him.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      That’s a good reminder about the Udina discussion. I had forgotten about it, but thinking back, yeah, he did have a bunch of pretty good lines in this situation. To be honest, I practically assumed that he finally has stopped being such an ass after the two games.

      Real shame that Bioware didn’t seem to share that opinion.

      1. Indy says:

        The “I had to have a separate VI to keep track of all their birthdays” line bugged the hell out of me. That’s what? An 8GB file?

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        Pretty much that. Any sympathy I had for him was immediately cut off the moment he had any further contributions to the plot. Players of ME3 will know what I’m referring to.

        1. Thomas says:

          Like so many things, they just needed a block of development there. I could buy what happens to him, if they showed it. Maybe three conversations with him in the game where he seems increasingly tired and bitter/radical each time. Player could even sympathise, it’s not like the council has much goodwill from most players

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            That’s the thing. Why I wrote those articles and what has been bothering me this whole time. This plotline, setting, and story are far from irredeemable. In fact, they are extremely close to greatness. It’s just a series of small, easy to fix mistakes that hold this series back. I wanted it so badly to succeed and it almost did.

            It’s frustrating. Just a little more polish in the writing and set-piece design would have easily made this a masterpiece of a franchise. As of now, it’s just a really good one that left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

            1. Thomas says:

              I wish I was a modder at times like this :D

              1. somebodys_kid says:

                I wish the game could be easily modded at times like this…

      3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Udina as a character has never really bothered me. He has the unenviable task of representing an unpopular people to the galactic UN. He’s Valerian Zorin to the Asari’s Adlai Stevensen. And then Shepard goes and kicks on another Cuban Missile Crisis…

        OK, don’t push the metaphor too hard, but you get the idea.

        At the beginning of ME3, he finally becomes somewhat sympathetic, partly because he’s no longer in Zorin mode, partly because everyone’s on the same side, and partly because he’s actually trying to help you, rather than keep you from screwing things up further.

        And then the Coup happens and that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

  35. Irregular says:

    Wait, doesn’t indoctrination make people more stupid?

    That could explain why Cerberus hit a new low in this game.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      It still doesn’t explain why Shepard or anyone else can’t/won’t call them on it.

      1. Irregular says:

        I figure it’s because Cerberus won’t back down no matter what they get called out on, and Shepard + friends have more important stuff to do than argue with idiots.

  36. RCN says:

    Well, now you are bound to play the BSG Boardgame. Mumbles will be Agathon, Rutskarn will be Gaius Baltar, Shamus will be Adama Senior, Josh will be Starbuck and Chris will be Chief Tyrol.

    And they won’t even make to the second jump.

    On ME3, I really found it stupid that if you’re a biotic, with the powers to toss people into the air with your mind, you can’t do anything to the Fembot. Even mechanics wise, she has no armor or shields, you should be able to shockwave her into space. Or even just pull her if you’re looking for more finesse into plucking her out of Kaidan. But alas, it is not the first game to forget you have powers in the cutscenes. Doesn’t make it less maddening though…

    1. Thomas says:

      You don’t even need that, the amount of time it took Shepard to kill her was shorter than the amount of time that Shepard was pointing a gun at her head whilst she contemplated beating Ashaiden to pulp

      1. RCN says:

        Though, really, it’d be nice if they added the odd alternate cutscene if you’re biotic/infiltrator where you use your powers. After all, you get to watch other biotics being badass with their powers, but Sheppard is only able to ever attempt badassery by holding the boring (but universal, so it is assured to misrepresent you regardless of your class, since you’re always using something better) pistol.

        On another note, I hope Josh plays the whole audio-trailer for Blasto. That is, without a glimpse of a shadow of doubt, the funniest thing Bioware has ever written.

        1. IFS says:

          No all of Minsc and Jan’s lines in BG2 are the funniest things that Bioware has written.

          1. RCN says:

            Well, the modern Bioware at any rate. The guys who created Minsc all ended up on Obisidian, if I’m not mistaken.

  37. newdarkcloud says:

    I just want to the point out that the first episode of ME3 is now on the Spoiler Warning page, yet the last Half-Life episodes and Modern Warfare stuff aren’t.

  38. Paul Spooner says:

    I haven’t actually played the game… is this “prothean device” the whatsit where you push the “choose your own adventure/ending” button at the end? Is it really that straightforward?

    “The reapers are here to kill us all! There’s no way to stop them. Instead of using your abilities you’ve developed over the course of the game, you’ll have to kill them all with this magical artifact we just found!”

    Actually, this reminds me of something I read before… Ahh yes, the final ending to Chainmail Bikini, I’l just quote the salient part here:
    “Everyone is outraged…. It's obvious his plan for this campaign was for them to go on a long series of fetch quests, so at the end Casey's Super Weapon could defeat Casey's Super Villain.”

    And that was a parody of the worst kind of Dungeon Master techniques. A good fit ME3? Well, at least human nature is reliably dumb. Props to the CB team for their insight into the freedom-hating minds of the Railroad DM. Sounds like Casey is working for Bioware now, or maybe the other way around.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Yeah. This McGuffin is what lays the groundwork for the ending. The problem with it is that everyone admits that they don’t know how it will work. They just assume that it will destroy the Reapers (or in TIM’s case, control them). I want to justify that by saying desperate men to desperate things, but really hedging your bets on technology you don’t know works or even how it would work is very annoying. Doubly so for being introduced at the end of a trilogy.

    2. Gruhunchously says:

      Casey is indeed working for Bioware. In fact, he’s Mass Effect’s executive producer.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Oh wow. After some research, it appears that Casey Hudson (who as you said is the producer) was one of the two guys who wrote the ending. Good call!

        That coincidence is rather creepy. Plus if you re-arrange the letters of “Casey Hudson and Mac Walters” you get “uh scan end cat Mars slew Yoda” or “ahem cold yrs unwed Nasa acts” which would both be good inspiration for alternate endings of ME3. Embedded titles of future DLC? Perhaps.

    3. guy says:

      It’s… not quite that bad. Actually, I didn’t really mind The Crucible. While it is the super weapon defeating the super villain, there is an awful lot put into actually using it. Basically the entire rest of the game is getting together the resources to assemble and deploy it. But yes, it does provide the Ending-O-Tron 3000.

      1. Indy says:

        I’d feel better if the Crucible was something that was optional. Gathering all the resources to build it would mean more if there was an ending where it just wasn’t built. You don’t have the choice, all the resources don’t matter: THE THING GETS BUILT REGARDLESS. The Ending-O-Tron is never threatened. Bioware has given us the story they want to tell.

        1. Thomas says:

          I would say that it’d be weird after all this just to defeat the Reapers in a straight up battle… but they never really seemed to have a cohesive idea of what they wanted to do with the Reapers anyway. In 3 games we have at least 4 pretty distinct versions.

          … so this might have been cool actually. It would make the war assets feel more natural, and the choices, because if you have enough army you have the chance to just straight up defeat the Reapers. Costs a lot of life, but Shepard can survive (with enough EMS) and the relays don’t get destroyed. Hmm. Would have been a more interesting (natural) choice

  39. Merle says:

    I just don’t understand people not liking Chakwas.

  40. David Winkler says:

    I loved the heck out of this game. But the things all you people have been texting about is pure nonsense. Anderson needs no real reason for leaving. You should realize that by inference. The only thing I have about the game is the way Shepherd was when he or she(depending on which sex you chose) told the Asari Ambassador the info was not retrieved. To me it was very bad writing because Shepherd should have tore a bran new ass hole into the Ambassador for not giving the information when Shepherd told the Council about the Catalyst. I was disappointed but not enough to quit the game because it is still one of the best games out there;definitely a classic. The game play and controls, to me, are one of the best I have played; I am 72 and I’ve played quite a lot of games to qualify that statement. Anyway I just wanted say something about a game I have played at least 4 times and really love.

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