Mass Effect 3 EP9: Interocitor Cycles

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Sep 5, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 391 comments

Well, Chris brought it up, so we are now officially talking about the ending. This will be the first of many discussions, I’m sure. Once again, no need to spoiler tag Mass Effect stuff. Anyone reading the comments has already bought the ticket and is clearly here to take the ride.

Also, sorry for bringing up my book again. That’s an obnoxious thing to do and I need to stop doing it. “Oh, I’m writing a book with these very themes!” Barf. It’s my innate desire to talk about what I’m working on, but it’s pretentious and it’s actually terrible for my productivity.

Link (YouTube)

Chris brings up Film Crit Hulk. I like Film Crit Hulk, which is why reading the FCH take of Mass Effect 3 was so painful. Film Crit Hulk wrote this bit about the ending of Mass Effect 3. I was really frustrated with it. As I’ve said before, I don’t mind people saying they liked the end of the game. If it gave you closure or satisfaction, then great. But if you’re going to wade in and say things like…


…then you really need to at least have some basic grasp of what the critics are saying. FCH linked this video, which lists a lot of complaints. Right off the bat, this video is one of the weakest critiques of the game. FCH is attacking the weakest critic, and he still can’t tackle the guy’s main points about coherence and continuity. In my thinking, Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage is pretty much the definitive deconstruction of the ending, and the conversation ought to begin there. I don’t think my take on it is nearly as strong, although the bit on the crucible is kind of important and often gets overlooked because there’s so much broken stuff at the end that we overlook the earlier broken stuff.

Part of the problem is that the ending critics were so scattered. Some people really did want a happy ending. Some just wanted their choices to matter. Some wanted closure with regards to their characters. (Yes, the game offered closure, but then in the last five minutes it yanks the rug out from under its own story-caps, throwing everything into question again. It’s like if Frodo heads off to the Grey Havens but the boat springs a leak. Did he make it or not?!?) Some people wanted to know the mystery of the Reapers. Some of us just wanted the damn thing to make sense. Each group kind of sees themselves as the bearers of the One True Worthy Complaint, and as a member of the last group I’ll admit to being part of that particular problem.

The fact that there are so many complaints only underscores how broken the thing is.

But to insist that people demanding logic and continuity are advocating the death of storytelling because you liked the theme is to duck the argument entirely. You can say they missed the message. You can say there’s more to the game that they didn’t see. But let’s at least admit that there’s a shortage of sense-making going on here. If the critics are advocating the death of storytelling, then Film Crit Hulk is advocating the death of logic itself.

Talk about meaning and cycles all you like, but people asking perfectly reasonable questions are not trying to kill storytelling. They’re just trying to wring some meaning out of a patchwork mess of incongruous events. I’m not going to list them all here. Maybe in a future post I’ll sit down and attempt to catalog all the moments where the game made some nonsensical leap. There are many, and they led to story collapse for a lot of people.

Strange aside:

Has Film Crit Hulk ever made their identity public? I ask because when I talk about FCH I have this strange tendency to refer to FCH as “her”. I think I managed to avoid doing so on the show, but only because I was making an effort to self-correct before I opened my mouth. Same thing in the paragraphs above. I mean, the icon is of a male character who TYPES IN ALL CAPS, so it’s not like I can forget who I’m reading. Am I confusing FCH with someone else who has a similar author voice? Is FCH written by a woman, or is there a female critic with a similar shtick? I just… why do I keep walking away from his articles thinking “She said so-and-so”? I’ve never had this problem before. Really odd. Also, sorry for calling you a girl, FCH, please don’t smash.


Here is another analysis: This is not a pipe.
And here is another good one, from an author’s perspective: Mass Effect, Tolkien, and Your Bullshit Artistic Process

More EDIT:
Ah! In the comments Soylent Dave reminds me that there is a “Feminist Hulk” Twitter personality. That’s probably where I got the notion that HULK SMASH SCHTICK = Woman.


From The Archives:

391 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 EP9: Interocitor Cycles

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Finally youve posted it here so I can leave this comment.

    Ive been watching a lets play of the leviathan dlc,and I have a question:Why wasnt that made into a game?Why wasnt that mass effect 2?You have indoctrinated dudes killing important people left and right,you have something capable of killing a reaper,and it was just stuffed as a dlc for the resolution of the game?Why?WHY?!!And really,the 2 dlcs for me3 shouldve been the focus of the second game:You have an actual living prothean,something that is a huge find,and you have a weapon capable of killing a reaper,and neither one of those are treated as anything actually important.THAT.IS.BLOODY.STUPID!!

    EDIT:And just as I posted this,you guys start talking about it on the show.Shouldve watched that extra minute first.Oh well.

    1. Lanthanide says:

      You should use punctuation properly.

    2. PurePareidolia says:

      Can I get a link to the LP?

      My Mass Effect 3 up and died, then refused to ever run again, so I uninstalled it and the Origin it rode in on.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Now that its been a few days,there are plenty of those floating around.But back when it came out,it was a bit hard to find,so I picked up this guy.

        EDIT:By the way,heres one hilarious cutscene from that lets play.Vega really likes shooting the ground.And everything else.

        1. PurePareidolia says:

          OK, I watched it. Ignoring this guy’s ineptitude at Let’s Play, there were so many things wrong with that DLC I don’t even know where to start. I mean, aside from the Turians having a reaper corpse as of 20 years prior and covering it up, and aside from Shepard and co being SEVERELY brain damaged for most of the plot, it was trying its damndest to tie itself into the still-god-awful ending which I resented wholeheartedly. That’s not even scratching the surface though. Argh.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Small correction, I thought it was the Batarians who covered it up, not the Turians.

            That would actually explain why the Reaper artifact the Batarians found in the first book never made headlines. The same artifact that led Saren to Sovereign. Honestly, the Reapers should have been exposed well before the events of the first game with both the incident with the Batarians and the one that Turians were involved with. (That indoctrinated the Illusive Man.)

    3. SleepingDragon says:

      Wait… am I getting the subtlest hint of a statement suggesting that Leviathan is actually good? I’ve decided that I probably won’t bother with future DLCs for ME but I am still curious…

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You dont fight cerberus,you get some nice mysteries to solve with indoctrinated people as assassins instead of dumb kai leng clones,you get a better kind of explanation for the reapers and why they are squid-like,so yes,its not that bad.I wouldnt call it good,because it still is dragged down by me2 and me3.So if I were you,Id stick to just watching a lets play(about an hour and a half).

        Its funny how all these dlcs would make an actual good game if they were replacing what we got.Shadow broker couldve been the beginning of me2,where you need to find new allies after the council abandons you/leaves you for dead,then you get the search for an actual living prothean,and then he shows you a path toward a weapon capable of killing a reaper.And no miranda is needed for it to work.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          and yet it has a 70 on metacritic because the popular view is that DLC sucks and that ME3… maybe not sucks, but certainly isn’t perfect :/

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Whats so bad about 70?70 is above average.Its not stellar,it still has some problem,plus it is a part of an average game,so 70 is pretty good for it.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              Gaming reviews don’t work that way. I’d consider.. 75 or 80 to be average. For context, ME2 got a 93-96 (depending on platform) and ME3 got.. 89 or 93 (again, depending on platform). Note that most of these reviews came out before the ending controversy, unlike the Leviathan reviews.

              Why does Leviathan deserve to be SO MUCH lower than the actual game?

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                I know why Id give it a low rating(it shouldve been the focus of the second game,and not a throwaway dlc for the third),but as to why others did,and lower than the actual game,I cant say.Probably the same reason that makes them think 75/100 is average.

                1. Aldowyn says:

                  Just because it’s on the wrong place doesn’t mean it itself is BAD. I wouldn’t consider that under the scope of a review.

                  1. Sumanai says:

                    And here we hit to the core problem, which is that review scores are worthless. They mean different things to different people, so the only way they can be useful is if the critic is known to the viewer ahead of time so the viewer can make educated guesses from the score itself.

                    But an educated guess is still just a guess, and they’re likely to go through the review anyway, so you’d still be better served with a “Liked/Neutral/Disliked” system.

        2. LunaticFringe says:

          Pretty obvious that it’s just a good way to sell DLC. I mean, in the Extended Cut you ask the child who made it and he just says ‘there’s no time to explain’ yet if you play the Leviathan DLC you have a further discussion about them. They don’t offer up any hints as to who its creators were. It screams ‘Oh, you want us to actually explain what the hell is going on here? Play the Leviathan DLC and it’ll make slightly more sense.’

          That being said I feel the DLC makes the whole ‘cycles generated by the Catalyst’ plot even more stupid. The leviathans are worried that sentient races are creating artificial intelligences that destroy them, so they respond…by making an artificial intelligence to solve the problem that eventually destroys them.

        3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          I’m torn, but only a little. On the one hand, it does sound like a really good DLC. On the other hand, after 4 playthroughs of ME3 -2 original, 2 extended cut -I’ve had the ending too much and just don’t want to play anymore. Playthrough 4 became a slog from Thessia forward. The DLC just isn’t enough to make me want to do it again.

          1. Klay F. says:

            Honestly the DLC suffers from the same sort of stupid that has handicapped the rest of the series: an NPC says something patently absurd, and you aren’t allowed to argue back (AKA railroading).

            There is a point near the end of the DLC where Shepard talks about how all of organic life is paying the price for Leviathan’s species’ mistake, to which Leviathan replies “There was no mistake.” You can’t even argue against why that sentiment is so monumentally braindead. I felt myself getting dumber the more I thought about the implications of that statement.

    4. Dragomok says:

      I… I’m just dumbfounded. Stuff from Leviathan and From Ashes should have been the most important… mayor… of the third game, but instead… sidequests in DLC and… Crucible… Starchild…

      Argh, I can’t even think straight and express myself correctly.

    5. guy says:

      So, two and a half videos in, I’m torn. On the one hand the indoctrinated guys are legitimately creepy, on the other hand it doesn’t seem to work quite like it did in ME1, and more glaringly Shepard seems like he just arrived from a universe where mind control fields are not a known phenomenon.

      Oh, the reason it doesn’t work the way it does in ME is that this appears to be something that is not quite the same. I’ll allow that.

      But the “We are a small to mid level provider of tungsten. Are you familiar with the applications of tungsten” seems like what Alan Wake was shooting for and missed with the Taken ranting.

      1. guy says:

        Okay, looking ahead on the wiki, it turns out the Reapers were created by pyschically powerful whales capable of spaceflight with the right personal gear who view all other life as their sla— waaaiiitttt a minuite

        It is uncanny.

        1. LunaticFringe says:

          Honestly, not sure which is more weird: evil space dolphins or evil space cuttlefish.

          1. Sumanai says:

            Cuttlefish. Dolphins are evil IRL,cuttlefish merely chaotic neutral.

            I’d like to nitpick and note that the Suul’ka way of “teleporting in space and breaking through the ice” isn’t how it would work. The water would not flash freeze.

            And yes, I am aware that it’s strange to get hung up on such a detail when you have evil, immortal, psychically powerful space dolphins.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    On atlas mechs:
    So the way to improve a huge robot of death is to slap a glass plate on it and stuff a squishy human inside it?Replace all the electronic reflexes and aiming programs with a slow response of a human.And instead of putting him on a ship or somewhere else that is safe,and have him control the robot remotely,put him in the middle of the danger,protected only by a sheet of glass.A huge sheet of glass at that,not just for his eyes,so that it would be extra vulnerable.How is cerberus competent again?

    1. PurePareidolia says:

      Don’t be ridiculous – we all know there’s no way to control a robotic ground platform from a ship in the Mass Effect universe. Even if you could it would be impossible to give her decent aim or reflexes comparable with a human, and besides Cerberus would be too ethical to design an AI capable of that kind of thing, especially using reaper technology. For that matter they would never install such an advanced AI on a starship because that would be ludicrous. And besides, she spends all her time telling jokes and making out with the pilot, it’s really distracting.

      …I forgot the point I was making.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “…I forgot the point I was making.”

        Cerberus is dumb?

        1. PurePareidolia says:

          That is always what I’m saying. Even now.

      2. Khizan says:

        Yeah, I’ve never understood why Cerberus didn’t put AIs in their Atlas mechs to drive them. After all, putting AIs in all their killer death robots worked so well for the quarians…

        That aside, EDI is Cerberus tech but she works for Shepard because she made a conscious choice to defect from Cerberus, and she was able to make that choice because somebody went and disabled the interlocks. I’m not sure I’d want my gigantic deathbots equipped with that kind of driver, myself.

        Hell, her behavior is a prime example of why you don’t see more AIs running around the ME universe. Very expensive, very risky.

        1. Naota says:

          Nobody said they had to use a full-featured AI – just a VI capable of walking, taking commands, and shooting at things with a modicum of intelligence. Barring that, remote pilots transmitting commands from elsewhere. Barring that, only put the huge glass weak point right over the pilot’s head so he can see out rather than making the mech into a fishbowl with legs, then have a big retractable armour plate that slides over that with a camera on it and only use it as a manual fallback if the camera fails.

          In other words, it’s not that it isn’t using an AI – it’s that the whole idea of the Atlas mech is dumb on multiple levels.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            “Nobody said they had to use a full-featured AI ““ just a VI capable of walking, taking commands, and shooting at things with a modicum of intelligence.”

            So basically what ymir mechs were.And atlas is supposed to be an upgrade of them.

          2. Khizan says:

            As far as the VI is concerned, the point behind putting a person in the rig was to increase the tactical flexibility of the mech. It was an explicit attempt to break away from the move-shoot VI, which can’t adapt to conditions nearly as well as a human pilot. An AI could adapt that fast, but that’s expensive and risky.

            Pilots controlling it via radio/tightbeam/whatever is susceptible to jamming, as well as involving putting all your pilots in the same place for a major operation. Aside from that… Cerberus is willing to take the pilot losses for the increased performance.

            Why the window? Why not? They’re using some kind of synthetic sapphire with protective interlayers. What kind of armor do you think they’re going to put on it in place of it that will actually matter? Dreadnought plating? I’m using weapons that can pound through more than a meter of cover. If you put regular armor all over the cockpit and had the pilot use a camera interface, the only thing that would probably change is I’d be putting my shots into the pilot through an opaque sheet of armor and he’d have to use crappy cameras to drive.

            And THAT means that the stupidity is using a giant walker mech at ALL. It is the classic problem with mechs; it presents far too large of a target profile without being able to carry enough armor/firepower to make it worthwhile.

            The Atlas is a dumb idea, yes. It’s just dumb for completely different reasons than the ones you guys are thinking of. :P

            1. Naota says:

              It’s easy enough to assume facts to support your argument when the source material doesn’t explain them, but that doesn’t really lend it any more weight than ours. In example:

              Who says a VI can’t be sophisticated enough to make worthwhile tactical decisions on the battlefield? If we can write game AI today which can do the job and build real robots that navigate battlefields, why can’t we make non-sentient computer logic algorithms do it in the future where aliens and space magic are a thing? Nothing in the ME universe says this is or is not possible, yet you assume it isn’t because that’s more convenient.

              Who says there isn’t a form of remote communication that can’t be jammed or hijacked in the ME universe? That sounds mighty Cerberus to me. We’ve got linked particles as binary communicators already, and I can’t fathom how those could be jammed. They’re notedly expensive, but Cerberus has apparently unlimited resources and cyber-ninja that shoot freaking dark matter. Doesn’t seem like a problem for them.

              Who says the camera has to be crappy? Put a big holo-screen in front of the pilot and get a decent camera. Now you can see everything without dying when somebody breaks the big obvious shoot me window. If the camera does get damaged or malfunctions you can slide up the armour plating to see what’s going on through a little window of that special glass. The best of both worlds.

              Pilot losses aren’t the problem. Pilots dying prematurely because the big glass window is an obvious structural flaw is. Enemy personnel climbing into the broken mech to co-opt it against Cerberus immediately afterwards is. The claim is that the window is made of unobtainium, yet it’s still the weak point – it still shatters first, exposes the pilot, and takes more damage than the rest of the armour. No matter how super-strong they say it is, it’s still weaker than whatever they built the rest of the mech from.

              In other words, you can’t fight fanon with fanon. For every justification you might think up that isn’t provided by the game there’s an equally plausible counter-justification.

              1. Luhrsen says:

                Also remote piloting is what EDI does all the time and she never seems to get cut off. Even when we are deep in underground caverns or fighting dozens of other AI’s with hacking abilities.

            2. decius says:

              Then why is the pilot aiming, rather than designating targets for the computer to shoot? The tactical flexibility of having the pilot doesn’t require that all of the wetware slowness be incorporated into every action.

    2. Corpital says:

      But it is been lengthy and thoroughly established for all of 3seconds in the mars mission, that Cerberus turns their mooks into…let’s call them huskies.

      They now even have laser vision! How could they not be awesome at controlling robots?

      1. Corac says:

        Those are ocular flashbangs. Harder to disarm than cyanide capsules.

    3. Raygereio says:

      Funny thing about the Atlas mechs:
      You can in theory shoot out the pilot and take the thing over (I say in theory, because in my two playthroughs of ME3 I never managed to kill the pilot before the Atlas itself died). When you pilot it then, the cockpit has broken glass.
      However, we’re given a fresh mech on more then one occasion and it has the same broken glass cockpit.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        I played solder. He has armor piercing rounds that go through that glass like through butter. In my one playthrough MAJORITY of mechs were taken out by killing the driver. The mechs weren’t in too good shape (10% of health) but they were playable.

        1. Guy says:

          Really? I had an AP round infiltrator who had no luck whatsoever pulling that off.

          1. Luhrsen says:

            I used shock rounds on my infiltrator and got one shot kills with minimal damage to the mech every time.

      2. Indy says:

        The mechs are only recoverable on certain missions such as the Coup. Even then, you pretty much have to make every shot hit the glass. The rest of the missions just have the mech explode if the pilot dies.

    4. Jexter says:

      Whoever designed the shock absorbers on Atlas mechs deserves a medal. Or a reaper indoctrination to simulate an imaginary medal. One of the two.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    People in fantasy and sci fi usually refers to any sapient group.Its just a term we accepted for simplicity.

    1. Sigilis says:

      The alternative, referring to non-humans as something that is not ‘people’ sounds kind of racist. At least insofar as it brings up not so fond memories of a time when people who looked different from us (though still the same species) were not ‘people’. To me, any situation in which a sapient being is called something other than ‘people’ makes me uncomfortable. I wonder how they feel about being called whatever we call them. At least I know if I call them ‘people’ then I can justify myself by saying I consider them to be at least my equal.

      Though if they consider themselves above me, I would probably call them people to insult them. Alien ‘gods’ are my least favorite kind of alien.

      1. Nick P. says:


        I always kind of grit my teeth whenever a non-human intelligence is called something other than a person. No matter what the intent is any other word comes off as condescending and patronizing.





        Most annoyingly of all is that depending on who you ask the very definition of the word person already makes room for non-human sapience.

        1. a human being, whether man, woman, or child: The table seats four persons.

        2. a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.

        3. Sociology. an individual human being, especially with reference to his or her social relationships and behavioral patterns as conditioned by the culture.

        4. Philosophy. a self-conscious or rational being.

        5. the actual self or individual personality of a human being: You ought not to generalize, but to consider the person you are dealing with.

        I mean come on, if aliens landed tomorrow you’d really walk up to them and be all like, “We welcome your…kind, to Our Peoples Planet you space creature you.”

        EDIT: Thinking further, I guess part of why this bothers me so much is that I’m one of those people who’s very interested and optimistic in the future possibilities of genetic engineering and the like. Call me transhumanist if you must but that’s not *quite* the right word to describe how I feel.

        So with that in mind the idea that if I was to modify myself sufficiently then that would mean that I am no longer considered ‘person’ but ‘thing’ instead MASSIVELY sets off my ‘Fuck you!’ alarms.

        1. SyrusRayne says:

          I agree that it’s a potentially uncomfortable subject. However, that means it’s all the more valid a choice of discussion. If it can elicit a response (positive or negative) from someone, it’s worth exploring. Not by Bioware, of course, because this sort of discussion shouldn’t have a binary Paragon/Renegade decision tied to it.

          Maybe the aliens don’t like to be called people because they consider themselves above humanity, for example. Or humans could be prejudiced against such an such an alien race, because maybe their diet consists of what humans consider literal garbage? Probably not all of them would be racist, of course, since that rather defeats the purpose of a discussion on racism and generalization.

          There’s potential here to explore racism in a way that doesn’t involve the human races we’re familiar with; in that way it could be more disconnected from our biases and can be discussed more fully, with less (although not completely absent) risk of offending people.

          PS. Syntax errors abound in the previous. It’s a rough couple of paragraphs. I swear I’m good at writing, normally.

          1. Shamus says:

            Actually, I can’t escape the notion that this interesting racism discussion would be undone by linguistics problems. This conversation is obviously taking place in English. At some point, a human had to tell this alien what the word “people” meant. If I tell the alien the word only applies to Humans, then the alien has no reason to doubt that. WE might get in a debate about whether or not the word should include the alien, but the alien probably won’t take offense unless they’re privy to that debate.

            1. rrgg says:

              I don’t remember what the official explanation for why everyone can understand each other is but I always assumed that it was the classic “magic translator combines all the languages into one” Shtick. If that was the case then it would probably be best to just assume the most general definition due to the fact that the word “people” is just going to be translated into the other race’s word for “people.” Of course, there would be a lot to debate in that alone but I highly doubt many races will have a word for “people” that means “just humans.”

              When you talk to Liara’s Father there is a part where she will accuse Shepard of being “an anthropocentric ****” (as an aside I may have a suspicion about where Chris gets his words) if you attempt to call her “Liara’s other mother” because the words “mother” and “father” hold a completely different meaning to the asari than just “female parent” and “male parent.”

              1. Aldowyn says:

                ME universe has universal translator implants for military and political people, I believe. And available for purchase for civilians of course.

                I THINK that’s how they do it.

                There’s definitely some “magic translator combines all languages into one” but it’s not good enough to read Elcor body language.

                1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                  There’s a translator. When Thane calls Shepard “Siha” she says “I think my translator glitched.”

                  It does require constant updating and it occassionally leaves words with certain connotations (like Siha) untranslated.

                  1. Irridium says:

                    One thing the Codex says in ME1 is that many humans do in fact learn at least one alien language. I believe it was the codex entry on humans or Earth. Can’t remember which.

                    So you could assume that most humans outside human-space would know an alien language or two. Even if they wouldn’t be able to speak it due to lacking certain muscles or features or whatever, they’d still be able to understand what others are saying.

                    Not enough to explain how everyone can understand each other of course, just an interesting tidbit I feel is relevant.

                  2. Klay F. says:

                    The universal translator always struck me (at least in the Mass Effect series) as retardedly picky about what it translates and what it doesn’t. Somehow every alien species automatically knows the meaning of every single human turn-of-phrase and figure-of-speech in existence, yet the translators STILL refuse to properly translate “Keelah Se’lai”. Hell even Garrus knows that “Everything in the galaxy tastes like chicken.” Wha?

                    1. Irridium says:

                      In Garrus’ case, he’s spent a lot of time on the Normandy, so it’d make sense he would understand some human phrases.

            2. Kian says:

              The other thing is, and something you didn’t bring up when this whole thing started with Wrex saying “women”, universal translators.

              Wrex didn’t say “Women”, he said whatever the word expressing that is in Krogan. And maybe when you say “people”, they hear the alien word for people, and if you say alien they might hear the same or something else depending on how one language is mapped to the other.

              Personally, I prefer the word people to refer to every sapient being. It means humans now because that’s the only people we know, but it seems more productive to extend the word to other intelligence when and if we find or create them than to try to come up with another word to draw up boundaries between humans and non-humans.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                The problem with that,however,isnt that he said “women”.Its that he said it in such a tone like a human man would say,expecting you to understand.It heavily implies that krogans have the same background for genders like humans.

              2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                While most English speakers drift over the difference, “person” is not the singular of “people.”

                Many individuals are persons. Many individuals of the same culture and socio-ethnic identity are a people. Many groups of people are peoples, or nations.

                So it would make sense to refer to non-human groups with similar culture as a “people.” This of course requires thinking of the Asari People in the same way an American thinks about the German People.

                On the larger point, though, most common usage of people probably does mean “persons like us.” We could substitute “Americans” for all uses of the word “people” in most American’s speach without loss of meaning.

              3. decius says:

                So when a human says “people” meaning “humans”, it gets translated into alien for “humans”; but when a human says “people” meaning “sapient creature” it gets translated into alien for “sapient creature”?

                No, will not *spit*, thank you.

            3. Jexter says:

              This. Chances are, it’d be difficult to even communicate with an alien through the most basic of means, like colored light signals. Who’s to say they’d see the same part of the electromagnetic spectrum? Flashing what we see as visible light at them might be as useful as flashing infrared at us.

              It’s even a huge assumption to think they would have a language. Or at least, something we’d recognize as one. Communicating within one’s species could very well be a requirement for intelligence, but the only reason we can translate languages between humans is because our similar brains share similar concepts. An alien would have concepts that couldn’t be easily translated, if they could be translated at all. They might not communicate with audio signals. They’d be, well, alien.

      2. Corpital says:

        Josh nailed the point there. He said they use “people” like a 20th century nation and the krogans culturally were 20th century before they killed their planet. Yay, Bioware thought this through!

        1. LunaticFringe says:

          Cause hundreds of years of nuclear holocaust, intergalactic warfare and eugenics programs don’t alter a culture at all. Bioware is truly a master at understanding cultural development.

        2. Jexter says:

          To be fair, creating a realistic alien is hard. If Bioware took the time to make it realistic, the entire trilogy would be this endless exposition about how we first managed to say “hello” to the first alien race we met. And then they’d kill us.

          That doesn’t necessarily excuse the constant anthropomorphism, but there is a reason for it. They could have made it slightly more realistic, but some problems would have to remain. It’s just hard to tell a story, otherwise.

    2. Piflik says:

      I personally never saw the word ‘people’ as a specific term meaning humans (though to be fair, I am German, so when I see the word ‘people’ I have the German translation in my head and its meaning in the German language), I always thought of it as a quite broad term encompassing everything sapient (*). When I want to say ‘humans’, I say ‘humans’.

      What I rather think about is that word. How would you translate ‘humans’ into an alien (i.e. non-human) language? Would you at all? I mean, they will probably have a word in their language, meaning the same thing, but at the same time meaning a complete different thing, namely themselves.
      Example from the ME universe: The Krogan call themselves ‘Krogan’, the humans call them ‘Krogan’, but the meaning of the word (in the Krogan language) would be the same as ‘humans’ (in the English language).
      Now…what would happen, if the members of the alien species are not capable of recreating the sound of the word ‘humans’ physiologically. How would they talk about us?

      (*) Although iRL this really is ‘humans’, at least today. Who knows what the future brings.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I propose Marklar.If we get Marklar and Marklar to say Marklar,then there would be no Marklar.Marklar could then be just Marklar,and Marklar would similarly be Marklar.As for Marklar,it could be Marklar or Marklar.Then we could easily distinguish Marklar from Marklar,and Marklar would be happy.

        1. Nick P. says:

          Your Marklar’s are wise.

      2. False Prophet says:

        But that’s typical, no? There are a lot of cultures on Earth whose name for themselves translates into “The People”, “The Folk”, etc. We generally just use their word for themselves.

        I just assume that “krogan” is a species term equivalent to “human”. Better than throwing around homeworld names (“Earther”, “Tuchankan”, etc.) in a setting where the major sapient races are spread all over the galaxy.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Im fond of the term terran myself.Blame starcraft for that.But it kind of fits.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Yeah, it’s especially nice when they aren’t the only playable race and possibly even bad guys. Although it basically is the same as “Earther” except people decided to call it “Terra” instead of “Earth” because Earth sounds… too pedestrian I guess.

            How’d we get here? Oh yeah. (one of those conversations)

            1. Mike S. says:

              Speaking of that and the translation issue, Elliot S. Maggin had fun with it in an old Superman novel:

              “[…]Are you Luthor the Earthling technician?”

              “I prefer the term Terran, actually. Earthling always sounded kind of sappy to me.”

              “Non sequitur. Are Earthlings not Earthlings?”

              “I believe the subject does not realize he is hearing the intentional translator over his head. When any of us refers to your racial ancestry it is translated in your perception into whatever word you expect to hear.”

              “You mean I hear you saying Earthling but if I wanted to I could hear you say Terran?”

              “Non sequitur,” the bug-thing said again.

              “I know, I know. They sound like the same word to you.” Luthor was very pleased. He’d learned something new. “What’s my race now, bug-eyes?”

              “As I referred to you before, you are a Terran. I am a bug-head. The creature who just addressed you is a vulture-face. We will ask all further questions.”

              Luthor wondered if any of his interrogators could fathom the reason for his wide grin, or if they knew what a grin was. Here he was, twenty-six light-years from home, locked in some crazy room in his birthday suit listening to his jailers insult themselves. He hadn’t enjoyed being locked up this much in years.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                That is pretty funny, I have to admit. Love the relatively hard sci-fi approach to the universal translators :D

      3. SleepingDragon says:

        I may be getting it wrong but doesn’t conversation with alien species actually occur through some sort of technomagical translation device? The question would really be how context-sensitive it is and, seeing as there seems to be not a single instance of linguistic confusion though the whole three games, I’d assume the answer is very.

        On that note, I think in Polish it works the other way: the term for “people” is a plural of “human” rather than “person”, using it for non-humans would be kinda awkward, you can sort of say “your people” in Polish but I find it difficult to process something like “all the people gathered here” if it were to refer to a number of species.

  4. ThomasWa says:

    I think that this article highlights the endings thematic failings pretty well, if we want to talk about more than just logic-stuff. I haven’t played ME3, but after reading this, I don’t quite see what merits it could have.

  5. Harry says:

    Yeah I too love Film Crit Hulk – his columns about the three-act structure, the hero’s journey, and action movies are some of my favourite pieces of writing on the internet (alongside some of Shamus’s stuff, actually) – but I hated that column he wrote about Mass Effect. It irritated me because it struck me as very lazy criticism from one of the least lazy critics I’ve seen.

    Shamus goes over most of the important criticisms of what Hulk wrote, but one thing I did also notice that Shamus doesn’t mention is that Hulk is continually talking about Mass Effect as being the “Citizen Kane” of games – the moment where games finally achieved a level of storytelling that helped define itself as a medium, essentially. I couldn’t disagree with this more. Firstly, because the Mass Effect series is not at all a coherent enough or mature enough series to provide that kind of basis of respectability for an entire medium. Secondly, because there have been plenty of games whose storytelling far transcended Mass Effect – games like Planescape: Torment or Baldur’s Gate 2, for example. These are games I suspect Film Crit Hulk has never played. He never mentions them.

    This is a problem because Hulk sees the Mass Effect series as a moment when games finally reach an apex of storytelling, when in fact, the current movement in gaming is more like a Renaissance; a movement back towards games being focused on storytelling and mechanics, as opposed to the last 10 years, where everything was focused around graphics and style. Due to the budget constraints of graphics and of voice acting, we lost the best storytelling of the 90s and are only just regaining that; Hulk seems to see this and think of it as a crowning achievement, when really we’re just regaining lost ground. That’s the impression I got, anyway; it’s quite possible that Hulk really did play all the old-school games I’m thinking of, and genuinely sees Mass Effect as a progression from that. I suppose Mass Effect is more ‘cinematic,’ and Hulk is, after all, a Film Crit.

    Also, I’ve listened to him on some podcasts (in his “Bruce Banner” form) and Film Crit Hulk is, most definitely, a man.

    1. ThomasWa says:

      I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he liked the ending. It’s the least interactive, most movie-like part of the game. Badumtish.

      1. guy says:

        You joke, but it is honestly the most movie-like part of the story.

        Really, part of the reason I liked the Rannoch story is that it literally could not have been told as well in any other medium. It is critical to the impact that you made the choices that led to this. If people are serious about video game storytelling, that needs to be done much more often.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Rannoch and Tuchanka involve mechanics that should have been in the game since the beginning, no joke. There was NOTHING like that in ME2, one of the biggest failures (along with, you know, the ENTIRE PLOT being pointless) of the game.

          Mass Effect, as a series, despite the ending, is probably the best compromise of cinematic and traditional game storytelling I’ve seen.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I think that’s why those two parts are almost universally well-received. That brought most of the relevant choices into account in a way that only a video game could successfully pull off.

            I’d argue that Mass Effect 2 did do one thing right, the suicide mission. Most of what you did in the game affected the outcome in some way. I think Mass Effect 3 should have done that on a greater scale. The finale should have been the ultimate tactile battle between your forces that you’ve gathered up through the course of the game and the Reaper’s forces.

    2. False Prophet says:

      Yeah, I’m a big FCH fan too, but found his ME essays really, really disappointing.

      As for MovieBob, the quality of Mass Effect wasn’t really his point. He was responding more to the entitlement of the Take Back Mass Effect crowd and their sympathizers, that the developers “owed” them a better ending. Bob’s point, as I understood it, is that if video games are ever to be taken seriously as a mature artistic medium, its creators need the freedom to make the art they want, and not be cowed into revisions solely because of a butthurt fanbase. Shamus is clearly disappointed by ME3 and its ending, but has never called for storming BioWare’s offices or the like.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        And I would almost agree with MovieBob,if not for the fact that bioware was falsely advertising its game.Say what you want,but if you say that your game will not end with a disappointing X,and it ends up with a disappointing X,anyone who bought it has the right to demand their money back,or for the disappointing X to be changed.

        1. Ib says:

          The key point here is that your definition of a “disappointing x” clearly differs from that of the game developers. It is only “false advertising” if the game developers agree that it is a disappointing game: your experience is not a universal reference point.

          Actually, this applies more to your comment below. Having a different opinion to somebody else does not make them a liar, and it is a pretty silly (and oft repeated) argument that has made me lose all sympathy with the so-called “Re-take” movement, despite also disliking the ending.

          So Casey Hudson thinks that there aren’t just three colour coded endings. He is wrong, there clearly are just three minutely different endings. However, I am not so arrogant and presumptuous to claim that I know what he really thinks better than he does.

          He is clearly deluded about the quality of his own game, but the spurious accusations of lying and false advertising are far worse.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            There’s other things that were straight up lied about – for one someone (probably Hudson) SPECIFICALLY said that the “best” ending (and therefore the hardest to get by common gamer logic) would NOT require ANY multiplayer.

            Guess what. It did. They fixed it with the Extended Cut, but that’s immaterial.

            And saying that the ending would be strongly affected by your previous choices… technically true of them in aggregate (as in they contribute to your galactic readiness which determines which ending you get), but certainly spiritually wrong.

            I don’t hate the ending as much as others, but they certainly didn’t deliver on their promises and it could have been a LOT better. I don’t even mind how static it is so much, except they said it wouldn’t.

            1. Ib says:

              You’re going to need to be more specific here: calling somebody a liar is a pretty heavy charge, and you really need strong proof. For the multiplayer issue: I was under the impression it could be gotten without multiplayer, I recently read a long equation on the bioware forums which seemed to prove it. Even if you can’t, it may have been possible to get the ending without multiplayer in a previous build, which was the case at the time of the quote, but this was later changed. This is why you shouldn’t throw around accusations of lying without real proof: unless you can say for certain that this is false, that this was false when the person said it, and that the person was aware this was false, you cannot call it a lie.

              As for the second one, as you say, it is a matter of opinion. I happen to agree with you, but equally I won’t call them liars just because I have a different opinion to them. Equally, I won’t say they didn’t “deliver on promises” simply because they didn’t live up to my expectations (which they didn’t).

              1. LunaticFringe says:

                I’d suggest googling a few statements (I’d provide links right now but the Mass Effect 3 discussion has bogged the internet down so much that it’s hard to find the original quote and not some criticism of said quote) such as:

                Casey Hudson “You can get the best ending without multiplayer.”
                Casey Hudson “The endings won’t be A,B or C.”
                Casey Hudson “You won’t find a magical ‘kill reapers’ button.”

                And see what he was saying BEFORE the game, and then after. I think liar is a bit of a dramatic term but dishonest definitely applies.

              2. Aldowyn says:

                They specifically said you wouldn’t have to use MP in an interview, which in my mind counts as a promise. And you definitely DID have to, because they specifically stated they were changing it to be that way for the EC. therefore, broken promise.

                It’s not like I’m suing them, I’m not going to go look for sources or anything :/

                1. Jon says:

                  Seeing as somebody actually referred this to the advertising standards authority, and the FTC in America, not something to joke about. Either way the point still stands: if that statement was made it is arguably “breaking a promise” if the way you portray it is correct (although it hardly seems a “promise” from the phrasing. If I say “I’ll have the work done by tomorrow, but something comes up out of my control which prevents me from doing it, it seems a little harsh to say this is breaking a promise).

                  However you (and I quote) said they “straight up lied about” it, which is unfair and not backed up by anything other than “this is what I think”. Which is what I dislike about the anti ME3 crowd and which is markedly prevalent: people making strong, hyperbolic claims with little supporting evidence.

                  1. krellen says:

                    BioWare got off the hook because interviews are not viewed as advertisements, and are not held to the same standards.

                    1. Jon says:

                      That seems like a pretty reasonable stance to me. It’s easy to misphrase something, or to let personal opinion intrude, in a spoken interview. On the other hand, advertising material should be proof-read and held to a higher standard. Looks like the ASA got it spot on.

                    2. Aldowyn says:

                      Okay, they didn’t lie. They changed their minds. They did break a promise though.

                      Although those interviews are specifically meant for public consumption as a form of advertisement.

              3. Indy says:

                This is a link to the Bioware forums detailing the statements in interviews and such that turned out to be untrue. Several of them could be claimed to be made early in the game’s development. Not all of them.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            “The key point here is that your definition of a “disappointing x” clearly differs from that of the game developers.”

            Not if they show actual disdain for “disappointing x”.Specifically in this case,pressing a button and getting a differently coloured end scene.

            1. Keredis says:

              Hey, you didn’t actually press any buttons for the ending. One of them, you jumped into a vortex, and another, you just shot something repeatedly. That’s a clear difference right there!

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Casey Hudson specifically stated they wouldn’t make the ending a choice between A, B, and C. Those were his direct words. It isn’t false advertising, but it is inherently misleading.

            2. Jon says:

              I…don’t really understand how this address the point, to be honest. The point is that false advertising is claiming something about your product which is, objectively, not the case. You mention disdain, but I don’t really see how you can show this is the case. The advertising standards authority will not uphold a claim of false advertising based on “some guy thinks they were wrong”, as shown by the fact that EA were cleared of any wrongdoing.

              @Keredis: Not really much better, however some people are prone to excessive narcissism. Nothing I’ve heard from Hudson dissuades me from the idea that he genuinely does think the ending was amazing, and gave good choices to the player. Not really defending him from the charge of being a hack: from what I can tell the ending debacle was pretty much his fault.

              But given that this was a game so hotly anticipated that it would have sold infinity billion copies without a cent of advertising, the idea that Bioware/EA would deliberately falsely advertise the game is completely ludicrous – why would they even need to open that can of worms?

          3. Keredis says:

            So your explanation is, “It isn’t lying or false advertising, the executive producer was just deluded about his own game and has no idea as to what the actual game or its ending is like.”

            Is that… an improvement?

    3. krellen says:

      Everything I have to say about FCH’s “Citizen Kane of gaming” schtick is something I already said on my blog (I kind of hate doing this sort of promotion, but the article is here if you’re curious).

      Short version: there will never be a Citizen Kane of gaming. Citizen Kane is not the paramount movie because of its artistic message, but because of its artistic vision – how it conveyed the message. Games are too diverse to ever have as singular an example as Citizen Kane.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I just finished KOTOR 2: The Sith Lords Restoration Mod. In terms of storytelling technique, mechanics usage, and story-gameplay integration it may have the same level artistic innovation as Citizen Kane or Battleship Potemkin.

        But I agree on the narrower point, games may need a Citizen Kane for each genre at the very least.

    4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I keep hearing good things about Film Critic Hulk.

      But I will never read him. Because (and irony fully intended) HIS EXCESSIVE USE OF ALL CAPS MAKES MY EYES BLEED AND I WANT HIM TO STOP.

      However, if there is a convenient way to de-ass his writing into standard capitalization, I’d happily give him a shot.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Someone mentioned here a program that turns all caps into normal typing.

        EDIT:It was Exetera,and the program is here:

    5. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No more “Citizen Kane” of games. I absolutely hate that phrase because it is so meaningless. Why can’t we have the Hamlet of video games instead? Hamlet has depth, dramatic character arcs, meaning, history and all sorts of things behind it.

      Citizen Kane is a shallow film, and that is what it was designed to be. Smoke and mirrors. Kane is the greatest cinematic magic trick in film history. It tricks you in thinking you have had a great revelation when it has revealed absolutely. It’s an empty puzzle box, solving it will get you nothing. That’s what makes Kane so brilliant.

      So if Mass Effect is the Citizen Kane of games, then it tricks you into thinking you are witnessing something deep and profound until it pulls the rug out from under you at the last minute and you realize its all meaningless bull….nevermind. Carry on.

      Also. There is a major difference between Kane and ME. Kane never breaks its own internal logic, ME3 did.

      Also Also. Citizen Kane is no longer the greatest film ever made. So now ME would be the Vertigo of video games. I’m sorry, but comparing ME to Hitchcock is beyond laughable. Give Hitchcock James Stewart and a staircase and he can give you the most intense two minutes of your life. I dare video games to do better with just as little.

      1. Indy says:

        Krellen wrote an interesting article about the “Citizen Kane” of gaming, saying that gaming is a more elaborate spectrum incapable of having a single defining identity. Starcraft could be the greatest RTS or Guild Wars 2 the greatest MMO and neither could be called the “Citizen Kane” of games.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    About defending the ending:Even if you dismiss everything about the game,the thing is that bioware specifically advertised its ending as “We dont want the player to push a button,and then get a different variation of the same ending”,yet they delivered exactly that.Its false advertising and blatant lying,and no matter whether you liked or hated any aspect of the game,the truth is that such a despicable behavior is never acceptable from anyone.

    1. Aldowyn says:


      Sometime way back when I was an innocent little gamer, I used to like Casey Hudson because he seemed to believe what he was saying. Not so much any more. PR people in general.. bleh. I’d much rather talk to/hear the people MAKING the game – they do a better job anyway.

    2. Keredis says:

      That’s one of the things that a lot of people seem to forget. It would be like if JK Rowling had said that the last Harry Potter book would finally clear up… something that people had been wondering about, I can’t think of anything. And then she decided to just make said thing even MORE vague, and countered with “Artistic integrity. Who cares that I blatantly lied to my loyal fanbase, you’re all a bunch of entitled whiners for wanting what I told you I’d give you.”

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      “Yeah, and I'd say much more so, because we have the ability to build the endings out in a way that we don't have to worry about eventually tying them back together somewhere. This story arc is coming to an end with this game.

      That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we're taking into account so many decisions that you've made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff. It's not even in any way like the traditional game endings,where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C…..The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them.”

      -Casey Hudson of Bioware, with regards to Mass Effect 3

      I feel that this quote is relevant to your point.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I wonder yet again why the change of mordins voice actor?Usually when such a thing happens you hear at least rumors about fighting between the crew,or some personal problems,or money,or anything.But this time,nothing.He even said that he was up for it,but was never contacted.Thats just weird.

    1. guy says:

      Cost? I don’t remember how much of a name the guy was, but his rates may have been a little high considering Mordin’s reduced story presence.

  8. cannibalguppy says:

    Iv’e got to be honest and say that with the free “Extended cut” dlc the endings got quite decent, and you could FINALLY shit on the starchilds plan, even make the cycle continue if you dident want his bullshit about why they did it and all that.

    But with the “Leviathan” dlc you actually get the real reason, its more akin to a glitchy or broken AI than an actual plan and solution. For once the bioware writers made something tie on to the story and become coherent instead of bs.

    So if i could rewrite my memory and remove that first ending i got back in april and only get this one with the dlc i would not be unhappy at all, its alot less ham-fisted and compared to alot of other games its not bad at all. a 7/10 ending to be honest and in todays standards thats not bad :P

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Hmm. That’s interesting, considering Leviathan has been in the works since well before release according to rumor. So… why wasn’t it in the game in the first place if it made the ending work so much better?

      I think it’d actually be a really interesting subversion if you could show/tell the kid how broken he really is. CRITICAL EXISTENCE FAILURE.

    2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      The extended cut DLC was originally an improvement, but in subsequent playthroughs the stupidity piled up, and now the fact that it is longer and unskippable leads to it being worse. At least the stupid of the original ending was over quickly.

  9. Sigilis says:

    When I read the Film Crit Hulk piece on the ending, it felt as if the entire article was designed to generate controversy more than conversation on the subject. The tone was dismissive, the argument insubstantive and the number of capital letters was higher than typical for the usual kind of serious critique. I felt like I was being trolled in the most deliberate and obvious way.

    Unfortunately, I am not allowed to dismiss things just because I don’t like how they are presented to me. The analysis that FCH presents paints the very act of thinking about narrative or any other aspect of anything to be a fundamentally wrong act. It is almost ironic how a critic could consider opinions about the quality of a work to be absolutely invalid. I find it shocking that the expression of one’s views is, to FCH, taboo. There is nothing in that opinion piece that even attempts to address the inconsistencies, only to attack any detractors of the work.

    All that I took away from that article was that Critics are the only ones with any right to say anything about art and that ‘artistic integrity’ is something that I can use to justify just about any flaw in anything I create. Also that something makes me angrier than the ending to ME3.

    Oh, and if you don’t like this post, I consider it art, so artistic integrity. Bacon dripping on a swing, the naked insect in a pool of tears. See, it is avant garde.

    1. ThomasWa says:

      Dude, Bioware called, they want to hire you. As lead writer AND as PR.

      1. Sigilis says:

        Oh, BioWare? They’re a little too out there for me. I prefer to work on my nice, safe sculptures made of excrement like a normal artist.

      2. IFS says:

        Given how many people on this site have offered ideas for improving the story in various ways they ought to just hire the entire thread.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Hey guys,lets all get together and raise some money for Twenty Sided Comment Section Bioware Plus,or TSCSB+ for short.

          1. Keredis says:

            And now I have this mental image of a bunch of people dressed like Reginald Cuftbert bursting into the room where there’s a bunch of bad writers working on a project.
            “Don’t worry, we’re not mercenaries. We’re just here to fix all your problems.”

            1. IFS says:

              “… By putting grenades in your pants.”

  10. Hal says:

    Regarding FCH’s gender, I can think of two possibilities:

    One is that the voice used by FCH in writing, such as it is, is somewhat feminine. Granted, I don’t care for the idea of “male” and “female” writing, but it’s not a new idea either.

    The other is that something about FCH reminds you of a female you already are familiar with, whether it’s the style of writing or just the appearance and structure of the name. Sometimes such things are very subtle.

    1. Shamus says:

      The latter must be the case. I don’t know what “feminine” writing would sound like. Or rather, I doubt I have the ability to tell the difference.

      What I was expecting was for someone to say, “Oh Shamus, you’re probably confusing Film Crit Hulk with this other writer, who you’ve forgotten all about”. I mean, that’s what I suspect is happening, and Google can’t help with that. :)

      1. Sigilis says:

        “Google can't help with that. :)”

        Yet. Might be cool to be able to search for similar styles of writing the same way we can search for similar images.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Only until they introduce google memory,the search engine that will scrub your brain for any relevant data.

        1. decius says:

          First I want a program that can scrub my brain of images.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats the upcoming adobe bleach.

      3. Soylent Dave says:

        There’s a Feminist Hulk on twitter (and with a blog, I think), who (naturally) uses the same schtick and seems more likely to be female.

        (not necessarily, of course – but it could be the source of your confusion)

        Feminist Hulk posts about nerd stuff, too (comics, games etc.), so there’s some crossover.

        1. Shamus says:

          That’s it! Yes. Now I remember. I was trying to remember a blog, but it was a Twitter personality.

          Whew. Thank you.

          1. thewizardninja says:

            I don’t know if it’s been said already but FCH has at least appeared on podcasts before (not as THE HULK but as the one behind FCH), and he’s either most certainly male or using a nigh undetectable voice changer.

          2. Taellosse says:

            To further bolster this as probably what you remember, Feminist Hulk last year revealed that she is, indeed, female. She did an interview, out of character, with Salon, or Gizmodo, or some site like that. It was a moderately big deal in the blogosphere/twitterverse/internet culture at the time, enough so that I heard about it even though I did not previously follow or know anything about Feminist Hulk, as did a lot of others.

      4. Steve C says:

        Actually Google can help with comparative writing styles. That’s how your style was categorized along with Cory Doctorow. I don’t know the particulars but I do know it’s out there. Moot point now that you’ve figured out which other Hulk you were thinking about but IMO still pretty cool that it is possible.

    2. pneuma08 says:

      It was interesting to me to see Shamus bring up the point, because I’ve thought the same thing about FCH (possibly) being female.

      Nevertheless, I think part of the genius of the FCH persona is that it does not matter. Rather, in divorcing him/her/itself of their own identity and using an obvious persona, a great deal of unproductive ad hominem criticism (and praise) is dodged. Think about it: if FCH is indeed a woman, the public reactions would be vastly different. That sexism in Arkham City article? Yeah…

      Instead, by divorcing the speaker from the dialog, everyone can focus on the point rather than who said it.

      1. Shamus says:

        That’s a good point. Plinkett of RedLetterMedia fame achieves much the same thing by making the critic such an awful monster that you can’t criticize them. I mean, if someone is a serial murderer, how absurd is it to accuse them of being unfair and biased?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          And pizza rolls.No man who bakes pizza roles can have bad taste.

          1. anaphysik says:

            Never did get those in the mail…

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Well then,you need to go to the post office and kill everyone for losing/eating your pizza rolls.

  11. Henson says:

    Personally, I don’t dig FilmCritHulk. Partly because the lack of proper grammar bugs me. Partly because the character is only The Hulk on the surface, not in its content. But mostly because OH MY GOD THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE IN ALL CAPS IT HURTS MY EYES.

    1. ThomasWa says:


      1. Exetera says:

        I actually do think that he gets some benefit from having the all-caps format. Mixed-case English has very obvious shape variations between letters and words; there are ascenders and descenders which simply do not appear in uppercase. This shape variation allows us to read much more quickly than we otherwise would be able to; HULK’s perpetual uppercase, on the other hand, slows us down a bit… meaning that we read a bit more carefully than we otherwise would. It is, however, legitimately quite irritating; there are tools for sentence-casing text, though.

        1. Henson says:

          That’s an interesting point, but I think you could just as easily say the opposite; that the extra energy needed to read an all-caps article means less energy left for critical thinking.

          It also begs the question: if it takes much so much more energy for basic comprehension of simple ideas, why should I bother?

          Maybe I’ll use that case-fixing tool and check out more of his stuff one of these days. Now all I need is a grammar-fixing tool.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            There is research that suggests that struggling to decipher and read something makes it easier to memorize and recall the information presented.

        2. Piflik says:

          Didn’t work for me. I opened the page, saw the headline in ALL CAPS and immediately closed the tab. I just can’t be bothered to read more than one sentence in ALL CAPS. As you said, the obvious shapes of words help reading. I don’t read letter-by-letter (anymore), but word-by-word (or even a whole group of words at once), sometimes even skipping words that aren’t important. With ALL CAPS this is more or less impossible. The words are just rectangular boxes of varying length.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Yuo konw,ist fnuny hwo yuo cna eaisly raed tihs,BUT NOT THIS.Huamn brian is a wierd thnig.

            1. Indy says:

              That’s an amusing trick.

        3. False Prophet says:

          I came to the same realization. I can’t really skim FCH like most things I read on the web. Also, I find with his writing over time there are fewer and fewer Hulkisms, we’re almost at the point where he’s just writing articulate film criticism essays in all-caps.

        4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          Well thank God. I may actually read him now. Though I’ll probably start with that John Carter Review that resulted in my eyes bleeding out and temporary blindness.

  12. Corpital says:

    Josh died two times to the turrets but still stomped the robot with no problems?
    That robot was the first point where I died several times in a row.

    Also I don’t know if I remember correctly, but wasn’t there a little conversation with Kirrahe somewhere after the mooks are killed?

    1. meyerkev says:

      Turrets are the only thing (other than various one-hit kill mooks) that can whack a Vanguard fast enough to overcome the shields between charges on lower difficulties. Even worse, they stunlock you so it’s pretty much a third of a second in reaction time between getting hit and dying.

      Whereas the robot is merely a matter of timing because they telegraph the shots. You can (with lots of luck, and some knowledge of where and how the one-hit kill animation lands) even just Charge-Nova-Repeat an Atlas.

      Edit: And now that I watch the video, he was also frontally assaulting the turrets instead of using that flanking row. That’s officially suicide.

      1. Hitch says:

        I play ME3 pretty much the exact opposite of Josh. My Shepard is an infiltrator, using the sniper rifle 90% of the time. Turrets were no problem at all and the shield guys were one of the most fun enemies to fight.

        Other notes:

        How about instead of Cerberus for this fight we get a group of dissident Salarians who’s gotten wind that the Krogan female is being turned over to help cure the genophage and want to stop that by any means necessary? I feel that makes more sense and gives some nice enemy variety to the game.

        Discussion of the use and meaning of the word “people.” That could lead to a situation in a science fiction setting where the term takes on a distinctly derogatory meaning in certain circumstances. “What do you mean, ‘You people?'”

        1. Ronixis says:

          When I played an Infiltrator, I generally found turrets to be helpful. It is at least amusing to hack one and watch it spin right around at the engineer who put it there.

      2. rrgg says:

        Playing as a soldier I only died to a turret once. I was having a good time, pop-up shooting some dudes, when suddenly my health started going down and it turned out that an engineer had spawned behind me and was able to construct a turret 3 feet from my character’s face without me noticing due to how the camera was facing.

        1. McNutcase says:

          Apparently Mass Effect 3 violates rule 1 of third-person perspective: Thou Shalt Not Hide Things From The Player That The Character Would Notice.

  13. Zaxares says:

    1:21: Yep, totally agree with you there, Shamus. Ostensibly it’s because Cerberus doesn’t want the genophage cured and because the Illusive Man supports anything that causes infighting and weakening of alien species, but this still seems REALLY dumb considering that Cerberus has no real guarantee that they (and humanity) can win the war against the Reapers at this point in time. It would have been much smarter to allow the alien races to build their strength, and then serve as a buffer against the Reapers while Shepard builds the Crucible.

    The only way this explanation could even POSSIBLY be close to logical is if the Illusive Man was already indoctrinated, and the REAPERS are the ones who don’t want the alliance taking shape. They implanted the order in TIM’s subconscious, and he came up with some anti-alien rhetoric in his mind to justify the action.

    4:38: Good point there, Chris. I was SO disappointed with the dumbed down dialogue in ME3. I mean, I was never really a fan of the dialogue wheel in the first place, but 95% of the dialogues in ME3 just present you with 2 choices, and usually they’re not much different from each other anyway. I accept that this is something that just comes with standard RPGs, but they could at least have tried to inject a bit more variety into it.

    5:40 – 5:50: Ah, turrets. The bane of Vanguards everywhere. XD

    7:30: And Guardians… The other bane of Vanguards, but only if you haven’t levelled up your Charge enough so it deals enough force to stagger Guardians, which it looks like Josh has done. The key to dealing with Guardians is to make sure you’re not too close to them when you Charge, because they tend to just melee you through the Charge.

    Alternatively, just stick a shredder/armor-piercing mod on your gun and fire away!

    8:10: Uh… Actually Shamus, the last mission was on Menae, which was Reaper enemies. XD

    9:38: Having played the endings, both pre and post Extended Cut, I can safely say that I understand what angle Bioware was going for. The trouble is, it was just done SO poorly. It had potential, and it could have been a great ending if it was done properly, but it wasn’t, so it left this taste of bitter disappointment in the mouths of fans who have been waiting for almost 5 years for this moment. Hence, the huge outpouring of “nerd rage”.

    For the record, I’m in the group who would have liked a classic Bioware “happy ending”. It’s what we’ve come to know and expect from Bioware. Heck, I’d go so far to say as it’s one of the main reasons why we BUY their games. It may be cliched, but it’s what we love and WANT from our Bioware games. You’d have seen similar levels of discontent if the Avengers movie had ended with Loki killing all the Avengers, or if a romantic comedy ended with everybody dying and/or going insane. That’s NOT what we went to the theatres to see!

    12:55: I’m assuming that Atlas mechs have a built-in mass effect generator that can near-instantaneously raise or lower its mass the same way it did for the Mako, which was how the Mako was able to do all those crazy stunts it was (in)famous) for in ME1. I miss that beast… XD

    15:30: No, male and female quarians do look distinctively different to each other. We never see female turians in-game, but they’ve appeared in comics and they do look different to male turians as well. (Their crests are a lot smaller and not as elaborate as those of males.)

    Also, that scene also proves that the female Krogan is a Soldier with Adrenaline Rush, as that’s the only way you could get off two shots with a Claymore WITHOUT reloading. XD

    And finally, anybody else think that the female krogan’s ankles look WAY too thin and delicate to support such a MASSIVE upper body?

    17:57: I don’t know… I think it’s possible, with detailed enough instructions, to build something while not knowing what it does or even what you’re doing. Even something as complicated as a computer or a car could be built from scratch provided you have the necessary technology level to manufacture the components and put it together, without knowing what the final product will be.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “I accept that this is something that just comes with standard RPGs, but they could at least have tried to inject a bit more variety into it.”

      People started to equate RPG with “various paths”,but its not true.So now even when they want to tell a linear story,like that of mass effect 3,they struggle to branch it in such a way that it always leads to the same conclusion.And they fail at it miserably.Look at alpha protocol,and how well it branched.And look at spec ops:the line,and how it pushed you in the role with a linear story.Me3 tries to do a mesh of those two things,and that simply doesnt work.

      If you want to tell a linear story,then by all means do it.But dont try to disguise it as something it is not by using stupid plot holes and asspulls.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Mass Effect … shucks, Bioware games in general (at least since KotOR) have never REALLY been branching/various path games. You’re doing the same things just in different orders. Any variance isn’t really significant, you’ll end up doing the same thing anyway. Mass Effect 3 didn’t even seem to be really trying.

        And I’m cool with that, most of the time.

        1. Keredis says:

          Baldur’s Gate II did a really good job of having the branching paths that lead to the same place, since it let you have different options while pursuing the main goal (and gave you multiple character motivations to pursue that goal. No matter how you wanted to roleplay your character, there was SOME reason for you to follow the story).

    2. IFS says:

      I remember seeing exactly one middle choice in the entire game (not counting the ending) and it was in a discussion with Liara over the time capsule thing she made. Needless to say I took it as I felt the need to protect what was clearly an endangered species in the mass effect universe.

      For turrets you need to circle around them as you charge nova them so they can’t shoot you as much, for guardians you just use pull to get rid of their shields.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Guardians are a piece of cake for anyone with shockwave, pull, singularity… charge and nova only stagger them, though, so MP human vanguards have issues. They’re not that hard to snipe with a pistol, sniper rifle or Mattock though.

        1. IFS says:

          Asari vanguard has stasis, which when upgraded to stasis bubble will paralyze guardians through their sheilds and make them drop them. Also I think Drell vanguard has pull.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            I specified human, if you didn’t see.

            1. IFS says:

              Huh, not sure how I missed that :P

    3. guy says:

      Whee, other Mako fans! I loved that tank and the way it laughed at incoming fire and also 70 degree inclines. The Hammerhead could actually fly, but it was just not the same and it was very slightly more durable than tissue paper.

      1. Merle says:

        Don’t forget how the Hammerhead didn’t even have a health bar, so there was no way to tell how close to death you were other than the actual flames coating your vehicle that you were actually in.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I loved the mako,and was so sad that it was gone.I was actually happy that they tried something new with hammerhead.But that got scrapped as well.It seems that their response to “Something is wrong with one of our game elements” is to simply remove it,instead of trying to fix it.Something other big companies,like ubisoft,are very fond of.And its a pretty stupid philosophy.

        1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          Loved the Mako. Except for not being able to depress the main gun.

          1. Mike S. says:

            “Oh, yes, I’m sure you’d like me to shoot that geth Colossus, but what’s the point, really? You’re just going to try to drive me straight up a cliffside again, and then we’ll burst into flame. And me with this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.”

    4. rrgg says:

      I do like how some of the worst enemies in the game are the ones who said “Hey, you know all of this indestructible cover lying around? Why don’t we just pick some of it up and use it as, you know, a shield?”

      To be fair, it really does feel pretty rewarding the first time you score a head shot through that little slit with a sniper rifle. I think the only problem is that there isn’t much you can do when you get into melee range. You can’t punch them (or reach over and pull their shield off) and they become too close for you to aim properly.

      1. SleepingDragon says:

        Biotics just pull the shields, which is good seeing as sniping is not exactly a biotics forte. I don’t remember if you can launch or otherwise scatter these guys before you get rid of the shield.

      2. Mike S. says:

        If only they’d thought to put some of the Atlas windshield glass across the vision slot.

        (Though maybe TIM just figured that with the new production techniques, replacement mooks were cheaper than adding a few ounces of transparisteel to the shields’ cost. After all, he’s got to be stretched pretty thin by now financially.)

    5. Corpital says:

      “I mean, I was never really a fan of the dialogue wheel in the first place, but 95% of the dialogues in ME3 just present you with 2 choices, and usually they're not much different from each other anyway.”

      I clearly remember that these two choices are often not only “not much different” but exactly the same answer.

    6. newdarkcloud says:

      I hate to keep saying it, but the Illusive Man WAS indoctrinated by this point. In fact, he was indoctrinated since before the events of THE VERY FIRST GAME.

      It solves the question of why they are dumb in ME3, but opens up a host of other questions.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Wasn’t he only partially indoctrinated, and it wasn’t until ME3 that the reapers pulled out all the stops and made him full-out crazy? It actually does help a lot.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I honestly have no way to confirm that either way. They don’t go into the details of how far gone he was due to the first indoctrination.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            I figured he was like Saren -who doesn’t go totally over the edge until after Sovereign gives him implants. But TIM was probably a piece of work anyway beforehand.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              The weird part was that he was just a mercenary contracted to the Alliance before indoctrination. After the events that led to his indoctrination, he became the Illusive Man.

    7. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      It has occurred to me that this game would have worked better if they’d had mission hubs where you could actually get to meet the peoples you’re interacting with. The reapers could be invading Sur’Kesh so you have to bounce around the planet finding missions and such -like in Noveria or Feros from ME1.

      It would also allow Cerberus to be less dumb. Cerberus would just be opportunistic, using the invasions to weaken potential non-human powers. And their discovery of the krogan women could be merely dumb luck -since they’re attacking all over Sur’Kesh.


      So, can you lay out what you think they were going for, because all I could ever come up with was some lamely written pop-Hegelianism cribbed from a coffee table tome of philosophy.

      1. Zaxares says:

        Bioware basically seems to be pushing the Synthesis ending as the “ultimate” ending. The extinction cycles are halted, the Reapers are made friendly, the geth and EDI survive and all live in peace with organics. Aside from Shepard’s sacrifice, it technically fulfills all of the requirements for a classic “happy RPG ending”.

        On the surface, this seems to make sense. One of the messages that the Reapers have been constantly pushing is that the cycles cannot be stopped, that war between organics and synthetics is inevitable as long as they remain different from each other. While all of the endings result in the Reaper extinction cycles being stopped, only in Synthesis is there a complete breakthrough that will result in permanent peace.

        The problem with the Synthesis ending, as I see it, is two-fold:

        1. Bioware really shouldn’t have continued to use the organic-synthetic conflict as the impetus for the extinction cycles. The reason for that is because the organic-synthetic topic has ALREADY been dealt with in the game, during the Geth-Quarian mission arc on Rannoch. There, the player can choose to side with synthetics, with organics, or against all odds, actually convince both sides to make peace with each other.

        In the latter case, we take away the lesson that peace despite differences IS possible, and that it needs to be given a chance, but the endings refuse to allow that possibility, which felt like a slap in the face for many players (myself included).

        2. I personally feel that the peace offered in the Synthesis ending is fake. Just because everybody is now comprised of the same physical make-up, and able to understand each other, doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody will now live in harmony with each other. Look at the geth/heretic schism, for example. Despite having perfect communication between each other and the advantage of living in a society where complete consensus is required to take actions, irreconcilable differences STILL managed to arise and split them apart.

        Therefore, I personally feel that the Synthesised races will inevitably return to war and conflict. The ONLY way that everybody can truly live in peace together is if everybody had the same mind, the same goals, the same consciousness. And that, to me, is probably the WORST possible outcome for the ME-verse, because that would mean a complete loss of individuality.

        Not to mention that the Synthesis ending leaves some BIG questions unanswered. The ending clearly shows that even plants are synthesised; if everybody can communicate freely with each other, does that mean you can sense what a pig or an apple is thinking when you eat it? Or when you walk across grass and crush it underfoot? What about even smaller things like bacteria? We kill thousands of them every day just by breathing them in and slaughtering them with our immune systems. How would we even live in such a world where we can’t help but feel the pain and anguish of everything we kill or destroy without realising it?

  14. Gunther says:

    I’m a big fan of FCH; his articles on the heroes journey, the five-act structure and his screenwriting 101 article in particular are excellent tools for new writers and fascinating reading in their own right.

    When I first read his article on the Mass Effect ending controversy, I assumed it was a joke, and that he’d give us his real opinion in a day or so. That article is so unlike his usual stuff – it’s lacking in substance, mean-spirited and dishonestly represents the views of the people he’s attacking. Normally he’s very fair even to movies and people he clearly dislikes; I hope the people reading him for the first time from Shamus’s link don’t judge him entirely on that article.

    He did later release a follow-up article that apologized for the tone of the article, but he didn’t change his opinion on the ending – he still genuinely believes it’s a work of art, something that changed what he thought the medium was capable of. Personally, I suspect he may not be as knowledgable about video games as he is about movies. IMHO, the ME3 ending deserved every bad thing people said about it. It made me fight the urge to release hour-long youtube rants on how disconnected it was from the rest of the game (an urge plenty of other people got, by the looks of things).

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “he still genuinely believes it's a work of art”

      Well to be fair,it is a work of art.Its only bad art.

      1. Raygereio says:

        I don’t know. It might secretly be brilliant art.

        The ending kinda work if you interprete it as some sort of meta-screw-you to the complacent audience.
        Mass Effect is a series where the illusion of choice is meaningless and has no actual effect on the rigid and inflexible story, and thus culminates in a meaningless and illusory choice that has no actual effect on the rigid and inflexible ending.

        It’s the writers taking a big steamy dump on your face and asking why you didn’t complain when they fed you bullshit before. Genius!

        1. StashAugustine says:

          Oh god, when did Kojima start writing for Bioware?

        2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          I have begun to think that there could have been a very interesting story about how you can’t fight fate. There could even have been an interesting story about how you can’t fight fate, but how the (above mentioned) pop-hegelianism of the ending results in the fate that can’t be fought being that the reapers are ultimately going to be subsumed.

          Neither is the story Mass Effect told.

          Hey, fodder for my own writing, though.

    2. ThomasWa says:

      OH GOD, yes does he not know videogame-storytelling. I mean, at one point he referred to the Catalyst conversation as “long and indepth”, sorry, “LONG AND INDEPTH”, when really it’s not. It’s not even a conversation if you think about it, since all the player can do is…listen, instead of picking options from the dialogue wheel (Pre-EC). For people who have played games like Planescape, KOTOR, Morrowind, or even Mass Effect (DUR), that is not a conversation.

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        That is, however, a conversation in a form very familiar to a film critic. They don’t get to talk back to the screen either.

      2. Aldowyn says:

        That conversation was a totally one-sided info dump to satisfy the people complaining about knowing what the HECK they were choosing. To be fair it helped a lot, but as an actual CONVERSATION it’s lacking. Even the dialog with TIM was better than that.

  15. lurkey says:

    Yep, let the Salarian scientist name a Krogan female after a figure from a human religion (and not too popular one, seems to be). HUMANITY FUCK YEAH!

    1. Raygereio says:

      Yeah, the YUMANITY IS SUPERIOR! thing is really starting to get annoying. It was rather tiresome in ME2, but it become just silly in ME3.
      We have the obvious “Earth is more important then any other planet in the universe!” thing, but there are also other little things.

      For example, the human designed shuttle is just so much superior then any other design for shuttles out there and everyone in the galaxy is now using it. I get that Bioware didn’t want to make more then one model for shuttles and used that as handwave, but it just comes across as dumb.

    2. ? says:

      But she is alive… why don’t they ask her? She doesn’t know her own name, yet she knows who Wrex is?

      1. Guy says:

        She discarded her name during the ritual where she dug her way out of a rock cave with her bare hands.

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I’m not going to object to this one. We need a symbolic name for her. Sure, we could have picked some krogan name, but then we’d need a 5 minute explanation which ultimately just boil down to “Krogan Eve.”

      The audience is human, so are the writers. Human cultural references are simply going to happen.

      1. ehlijen says:

        No it wouldn’t take 5 minutes.

        “Named her Mya. Mythical Krogan Progenitor. Comperable to human Eve. Seemed fitting.”

        That’s a perfectly reasonable thing for Mordin to just spout out and would take 30 seconds tops.

  16. Nick P. says:

    Everybody probably has their own personal favorite rundown of the Mass Effect 3 ending and many of them make comparisons to Lord of the Rings, but for what it’s worth this seems like one of the better and more succinct ones I found myself nodding with while reading:

  17. Exetera says:

    Film Crit HULK said a lot of stupid stuff about the Mass Effect series; it’s as if he didn’t see anything but the cutscenes. He doesn’t find the only kid in 120 hours of gameplay laughably manipulative (or the first Earth scene in 80 hours), he actually thinks the Stargazer sequence has narrative importance instead of being vague, faux-profound dialogue delivered over desktop wallpaper with extra lens flare, he seems to think that “alive and on your ship (which crash-landed on some planet you don’t know)” is reasonable closure for your characters… Ugh.

    The biggest problem is this weird insistence that “cycles” are a theme. If that were true, we should be seeing cycles everywhere. The soundtrack should be about cycles. It isn’t. There should be cycles in the technobabble. There aren’t; instead, it’s all about the eponymous Mass Effect. The drive core hasn’t even got any spinning; the Mass Effect relays do have spinning, but it’s this gimbal rotation which very precisely doesn’t look like a cycle. We should be seeing it in the architecture; circular space stations are a very well-known design idea, and they’re certainly no stranger to gaming, but they’re absolutely nowhere to be found in Mass Effect 3.

    So what part of the game does make HULK think it’s about cycles? Aside from the kill/respawn cycle, that is? I… guess maybe that one monologue Sovereign gave eighty hours ago, and people refer to on occasion?… That’s not enough, HULK. You can’t justify a theme that sweeping with one monologue. You can make a game about big, nebulous themes, like cycles. But you have to pay for those themes, and the Mass Effect series clearly doesn’t.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      IIRC, Yahtzee made this argument too. I’d accept that it’s less about cycles and more about inevitability. It comes up a lot in the genophage arc- if you help the Krogan, they will rise up again. Of course, this misses the point that the whole game is about breaking those cycles.

      1. Trevel says:

        Cycles WERE there, from the start of Mass Effect one.

        The Space Empire was nearly destroyed by the (X) but then they relied on the new race (Y) to save them
        Then the Space Empire was nearly destroyed by the (Y) but then they relied on the new race (Z) to save them.
        Then the Space Empire was nearly destroyed by the Reapers, who had been created by the (???); and then they relied on the new race, Humanity, to save them.

        And the Reapers had the cycle of their own; every so often, they reset the universe.

        Cycles were part of the game world.

        Just not really part of the game.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Yeah, they mention “cycle” in reference to the whole reapers killing everyone… a LOT. It’s definitely important to the narrative. IMO it’s about BREAKING the cycles. The geth won’t kill the quarians, the krogan won’t rebel again, and life WILL survive. It’s actually fairly compelling IMO.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            Agreed. The theme of cycles is about breaking them. Breaking the cycle of hatred between krogan and turian/salarian, and between quarian and geth.

            And breaking the cycle of destruction.

            The story could have been written where the cycles continue anyway -or where the cycle is broken in a more interesting way. But it didn’t happen here.

            Also, a lot of those cycle references crop up in ME3 -and the “it’s not random, it’s deliberate” bit does not appear before Thessia. This sounds less like theme and foreshadowing than narrative insertions to make the ending work. Ie: they came up with the crucible and Murry the Space Child, and then inserted the dialogue into Thessia to justify it.

            1. StashAugustine says:

              I was under the impression that the ending had to be changed late in development, which would explain a lot of things.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                Wasn’t the ending changed after that beta leak or whatever? I think that might be a thing.

    2. rrgg says:

      When Josh uses his powers on a Cerberus mook the target flies upward, moving in a cyclical manner. This is intended to represent the transcendent nature of life and death.

    3. Jexter says:

      Quantum Conundrum implies during a loading screen that, everytime you die, time just cycles around 14 billion years or so back to the same point. I like to imagine this is true for all video games.

  18. Raygereio says:

    Part of the problem is that the ending critics were so scattered.

    Having looked over many comments spread about across various blogs and fora, I think the problem is that a lot of people on some level know that they don't like the ending, but they lack the capability to express exactly why and what they don't like.
    So they default back to certain basic things like “Shep died. I didn't want her to die!”, while if the death was meaningful, gave closure and was well done, this same person might have loved it.

    About the crucible: That thing is such a ridiculously concept that it I just giggle whenever I see the damn thing.
    As Josh said: if you have the blueprints and the intelligence to read and use them, you ought to be able to figure out what it does. Maybe not the device's exact purpose, but at least more beyond: “Err… me think it does things”.
    It gets even better though. Here's a quote from something way ahead of us that I'm going to throw out.
    The Crucible is not a Prothean design. It is the work of countless galactic cycles stretching back millions of years. Each cycle adds to it. Each improves upon it. Thus far none have successfully defeated the Reapers with it.
    So wait, this thing has never worked? This is absurdly stupid. This is so stupid I cannot believe any group willing to devote resources to it would be smart enough to do advanced algebra. And how do you “improve” something when you don’t even know what it does? What metric are you using to measure this? If I found a diagram for a bike tire, would you consider it improved if I attached a lamp to it?

    1. ThomasWa says:

      Actually, if someone had found out the Crucible’s exact purpose and abilities, we would not have had the ending stupidity. The writers could have established like midway through the game exactly what it does (maybe build a few missions around each effect, one where you take control of some husks, one where you destroy a single Reaper in a testrun etc.). If they had done that, I think a lot of people would have been more accepting of it. Maybe. I guess.
      (Well, if it’s secondary effects weren’t still needlessly contrived for the purpose of Drama.)

      1. ThomasWa says:

        Come to think of it, was this the source of the problem? Needlessly fabricated Drama through the Crucible’s other effects? If Destroy and Control left the Geth alone, who would have objected?
        (Note, I didn’t play ME3 and it shows. I bet I got something wrong.)

        1. guy says:

          It would have been less bad, in that there would have been no, “So you considered everything that went into the Geth-Quarian war and finally sided with the Geth? TOO BAD, THEY ALL DIE!”

          Also, removing the destruction of the Mass Relays would have made for a somewhat satisfying resolution, although the manner in which it happened was not great.

          1. Merle says:

            It’s even worse if you brokered peace.
            “Hey, you showed that the irreconcilable war, the one example of why synthetics and organics can never live in peace, had a way out? You proved that they can work and live together, for the benefit of both? You did the seemingly impossible and paved a brighter future for mechanical and organic life alike?

            FUCK YOU! The robots are all dead now. Yes, even the ones you like. Even the one that in a very real sense is your ship, who’s spent two full games learning to live and grow as an independent being. They’re dead unless you let the monstrous, murderers-billions-of-billions-of-billions-times-over Reapers live. Oh, and you die too.”

            There is no way to end up with a universe where both EDI and Shepard are alive, for no better reason than “Well otherwise every player would choose that path!” That is complete and utter balls.

            1. guy says:

              I dunno, that is very slightly less bad, although it does add in an extra helping of the Catalyst being straight-up wrong about how organic and synthetic life cannot coexist. But at least you didn’t exterminate a sentient species in order to save a sentient species you subsequently exterminate.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                I’m cool with you not being able to convince the Catalyst of the viability of the geth/quarian truce, but not not being able to MENTION it.

                As for the killing geth and EDI thing… I’d be fine with it doing it at lower EMS and adding more precision as you get more (due to the Crucible being damaged), a mechanic that’s already present to some degree.

                And for the not knowing what it does part… dumb and there’s no reason for it apart from isolating anything to do with the ending to the ending.

        2. SleepingDragon says:

          There were visibly more problems with the whole thing (for example, regardless of the ending, destroying the entire mass relay network) but I do agree that the game would have benefited greatly from not trying so hard to artificially amp the drama surrounding the Crucible.

          I think a nice way to solve it would be to describe it as a developing attempt to, say, hack the Reapers. Claim that there were records of some mild success in the past that encouraged future civilizations to try along this route. Then point out or discover that someone figured out that hacking individual Reapers is all but useless in the war effort. For example the Crucible takes immense amounts of energy to operate and is somewhat fragile and would be easily destroyed after taking down just one Reaper but that some race discovered there is some kind of node that can connect to all of them, eventually reveal that it is the citadel and the Reapers are using the relay nodes for communication (which would make sense since we know that the Citadel controls the entire relay network).

          This would make the Crucible a much more realistic and reasonable project to invest in but there’s more, it allows the gradual introduction of the information sprung on the player in the last few missions of the game, it still allows for keeping some degree of uncertainty in what the Crucible actually does (even if it works to what extent could we hack the Reapers? Just disrupt their communication network? Order self-destruct? Paralyze them?), TIM would make more sense, he’d simply believe that we could take full control of Reapers and being the human supremacist prick that he is would want it for humanity… On top of that revealing all this info still wouldn’t ruin the final surprise in the form of some other mind driving the whole thing (I’m operating under the assumption that we’d like to keep this).

          1. guy says:

            My personal explaination is that the Crucible was always a Reaper-killing weapon. The original one successfully crippled a Reaper. A later version killed one outright. The next one managed to fire twice before the Reapers blew it up. Eventually it was capable of killing all Reapers in a star system, but only once. So someone figured that they needed a way to fire it into every star system simultaneously. Lacking the know-how to make their own galaxy-spanning FTL pulse, they realized that the Citadel could control all the Mass Relays at once via some FTL mechanism and decided to use that. Finally, in the current cycle the Crucible is uncovered and constructed before the Citadel falls.

            That would, of course, have made much more sense if the final battle was a desperate fight to hold the Citadel while the Crucible made its way to the Serpent Nebula, linked up, and fired, instead of the Reapers capturing the Citadel.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              Which, coincidentally, removes Earth from the equation. Admittedly having BOTH the crucible and Earth caused… issues with the narrative. Perhaps if there was a critical part to the crucible on earth (like, I dunno, an actual catalyst instead of a dumb AI), and you had to use conventional force to push the Reapers off (temporarily) and get it…

              Also I don’t think the crucible necessarily needed to WORK in previous iterations. All you need is a concept, some kind of design, and good documentation. It’s kind of hard to convert something from a laser or something that kills one reaper to a galaxy-spanning pulse.

              1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                That makes some sense.

                I just assumed the reapers invented the crucible as a way to distract people -but now that someone has actually built the thing, Murray the Star Child had to come up with a new distraction.

                Although, in this case, “Catalyst” is an appropriate name for the Star Child -he does nothing except facilitate the reaction.

                Here’s what I want to know -if it is so necessary to get onto the Citadel… why not go to Ilos? It cannot be that the Conduit requires the Serpent Nebula to be the location of the Citadel, because the Serpent Nebula and Ilos have both moved over 50,000 years.

                1. Aldowyn says:

                  lol that’d be funny :D That’s like riding the eagles to Mordor… NOPE I don’t have to fight you! See you later suckers!

                  Seriously, I seem to remember something happened to the archives on Ilos that made them inaccessible. Certainly Vigil was inaccessible.

                  1. guy says:

                    Vigil ran out of power. There is no mention of physical damage to the Conduit or any issues that could not be fixed by attaching jumper cables to the Normandy.

                    1. Aldowyn says:

                      Why did Vigil run out of power THEN after surviving for millions of years?

                      Wait, I can probably answer that myself. He was on super-hibernation mode and reactivated his reserves in order to talk to Shepard.

                      Still, he must have had some kind of permanent storage, why not take him back and reengineer his power supply to reactivate him?

              2. guy says:

                It apparently was developed over a huge number of cycles. I don’t see that happening without working versions being developed. I mean, the Reapers wipe the galaxy pretty hard, so the only likely reason for something to reliably survive is that active efforts were made to keep the Reapers from destroying all copies and a lot invested into that. Which seems like a lot of work for something that didn’t save you or the last people who worked on it.

                I mean, we didn’t ever find any Prothean data regarding Reaper designs or order of battle. For that to happen, the Reaper purge must have been pretty thorough, which implies they’re that thorough every cycle. So a lot of effort must have been invested to hiding it every cycle, which would mean each cycle must have been convinced it wasn’t a dead end.

                Probably it started as a [technobabble] that Reaper systems were inherently vulnerable to, and each iteration involved taking the [technobabble] and finding a superior way of deploying it.

                1. Mike S. says:

                  Right. The basic *idea* of the Crucible isn’t a bad one. Given the setup of the Reapers, winning really demands some sort of extraordinary option. There’s something really evocative in the idea that across vast gulfs of time, thousands of species who would never meet have been passing a torch one to the next. It takes the tragedy of the Protheans we learn about in the first game another level up: rather than *one* forerunner having spent their last energies giving us a chance, we’re standing on the shoulders of every civilization that ever existed in the Milky Way. It would help make a final victory, even a costly one, mean something more than fireworks.

                  They could even have gotten away with some aspects of its operation starting out mysterious and coming into focus, as long as a plausible basic idea was clear. Discovering poorly understood ancient tech and learning how to work it has been galactic civilization’s MO, and it’s what Shepard’s been doing all along. (Oh, mysterious Prothean beacon! Better get the Cipher, whatever that is. Which will lead us to the Conduit, whatever that does.)

                  The details we get make less sense– obviously the people who did the *design* work need to know what it’s supposed to do, and the development process should be more a matter of proofs of concept, scaling up, and getting around problems and Reaper countermeasures. It’s okay for the current project to get some stuff wrong– again, this is the civilization that’s been using the Citadel for millennia without knowing half of what it’s for– but they need to at least have a perceived and plausible idea of what it does.

                  (Sticking with Bioware’s endings, the easiest thing is that Destroy is what they think it’s supposed to do, with the other functions being more sophisticated operations that require a billion-year-old AI to do the fine manipulation. Sort of the way you could build a powerful laser as a weapon, and then hook it up to a CNC controller to use it for fine carving or surgery.)

        3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          It’s worse than that. On my last playthrough, the crucible starts talking about that and I wanted to break in and say “wait, if I control the reapers, I can target their brains, and only their brains, right?”


          “OK, so why don’t we program the Crucible to just fry the brains it is connected to rather than everything with a quantum blue box?”

          “umm, because then we wouldn’t have the appropriately tragic ending.”


          1. Aldowyn says:

            Control the reapers and have them commit suicide. Except Shepard still ends up as Shepard-godmind, just with no minions.

    2. Hitch says:

      I guess we just build it with the idea that we’ll figure out what it does when we turn it on. If we’re lucky maybe somebody(thing) will show up to explain what it does.

      No, seriously, that’s the plan. Reaperhood is looking better all the time.

  19. pneuma08 says:

    Hm, reading through the article that FCH wrote on Mass Effect 3, I wasn’t terribly happy with it either. But after reading the response/companion article later and thinking about it some more, I think I understand what was going on: I think that FCH was expressing (in an abrasive manner he/she/it apologized for later) the discordant idea that yes, it is possible to throw logic and continuity out the window without Ruining Everything, like the great sci fi flick 2001: A Space Odyssey. In contrast, coming from the gaming and comic book side of things, continuity and the logic thereof are paramount, and perhaps taken way too seriously.

    1. ThomasWa says:

      But that’s the problem: The ending to ME3 throws more out of the window than “just” logic and continuity. Argueably, it throws out most everything else as well.

      1. pneuma08 says:

        And arguably not. It’s just a different perspective.

        It also goes back to ownership of the game as well. If this were just a movie, the reactions would be “I don’t get what they were trying to say” rather than “Give us a ‘real’ ending”.

        1. ThomasWa says:

          Well, no one said the ending was “fake” and asked for a real one (Exception Indoctrination Theory, I know, but exception proving the rule.). They said it was horrible in one way or another and asked/demanded a non-horrible one.
          All right, fine. I think we, and a lot of people by the look of things, are having two distinct conversation at the same time, namely:
          What are the merits, if any, of ME3 and its ending?
          Are we allowed to ask for a different ending in actuality (and not just in a hypothetical sense, wouldn’t it have been better if etc.)?
          I think we need to keep them separate.

          1. Chargone says:

            stupid corrupted idiom.

            exceptions Disprove rules. the exception DISPROVES the rule. it means you need Better Rules (or less exceptions, depending on context)

            likewise: the proof is in the pudding… what? what does that even say? Nothing. it’s ‘the proof of the pudding is in the Eating’ meaning … pretty much the same thing. you can’t tell how good it is until you try to use it for what it’s designed for. but still.

            also: ‘could care less’. this one’s a product of the same process that produces a ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ that are completely indistinguishable to the outsiders ear in some US accents. it’s also a nonsense statement. the concept being expressed, and the original expression, is ‘couldn’t care less’. as in, negative values of caring about the matter are impossible and the amount that the person in question cares is already at zero. caring less cannot be done. ‘could care less’ is a … non-statement, for want of a better term.

            grwar! rant rant rant rant!

            1. Sigilis says:

              The exception does prove the rule, for the definition of the word proof that would be better phrased nowadays as test. The idiom should be scrapped because the English language is vague enough without intentionally employing words in ways that they are not usually used for, but that is beside the point.

              Also, relax. Try to extract meaning from writing where you can and try not to explode at everyone who uses language differently. A mild correction should work just fine.

              1. Chargone says:

                clearly i need more emoticons in my rants.

                it’s not at the person for ‘getting it wrong’.

                it’s at the language for being stupid and having these sorts of things in it.

                i also restrain myself more often than i actually complain about it (by a lot).

                it’s also supposed to be more informative than complain-y. (and, depending on my mood at the time, amusing.)


            2. ThomasWa says:

              The exception in the pudding I’m eating proves I could care less.

              (I’M SORRY.)

              1. Chargone says:

                … … somehow i doubt that :P
                perfectly valid response :)

            3. Merle says:

              “Test” and “prove” are synonyms in certain contexts. That’s the context that gives us “the proof is in the pudding”, “the exception proves the rule”, etc.

              1. Chargone says:

                another bit of stupid on the part of the English language then. besides, if prove = test and an exception does not follow the rule (by definition) then i’m not sure how an exception proves a rule. you test the example against the rule and if it doesn’t follow it the ‘rule’ fails and/or the example is an exception. the exception doesn’t test the rule. the fact that it IS an exception causes the rule to fail… or something.

                … point is, it still doesn’t really work and the logic goes from wrong to tortured if you read it that way.

            4. decius says:

              When I try to challenge a rule, I find a case to which the rule does not apply. Those are the exceptions, and the nature of the exceptions determines the validity of the rule.

            5. Fleaman says:

              Would you rather have or eat a cake?

              1. Chargone says:

                personally, i’d rather trade it to someone who’d actually enjoy it in exchange for something more useful.

                then again, the cake is a lie anyway, so that might be considered some form of fraud or con-artistry…

                (and the ‘have’ in that proverb can only be replaced with an entire explanatory sentence anyway, so far as i’m aware, so it’s not really the same issue.)

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ok,lets imagine this was a movie:
          We have had two previous movies already,establishing a lot of stuff,and people mostly praised them as being good stories.Then the third movie comes out,and just before it hits theatres,the director comes out and says “We didnt want to have a deus ex machina happy ending like every other movie out there,so we made this”.The movie is mostly on par with its 2 prequels,and then in the last 15 minutes,theres a sudden deus ex machina,some bullshit exposition that has nothing to do with anything up until then,and then a happy ending for no reason.The reactions would definitely be the same,and legitimate as well.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Raar. Deus ex Machina isn’t really Deus Ex Machina if it’s EXPLAINED. If they’d been setting it up for two games (ha just typed movies and had to fix it) like they SHOULD have been it’d have been a legitimate plot device and might have worked. The way it was… it felt like it was shoehorned in to fix the plot. You know, like it was.

            1. ThomasWa says:

              To be fair, the crucible itself is a McGuffin, not a Deus Ex Machina. However, the Catalyst is. Furthermore, what exactly the Crucible does is never established/revealed too late. That means that the Crucible could have done ANYTHING the writer wanted, including something unstupid.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                “A deus ex machina Latin: “god from the machine”; plural: dei ex machina) is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.”

                “MacGuffin (a.k.a. McGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a motivating element in a story that is used to drive the plot. It actually serves no further purpose. It won’t pop up again later, it won’t explain the ending, it won’t actually do anything except possibly distract you while you try to figure out its significance. In some cases, it won’t even be shown. It is usually a mysterious package/artifact/superweapon that everyone in the story is chasing. ”

                I believe my point as to it being a deus ex machina is pretty well answered there.

                As to it doing something unstupid… I don’t think the crucible’s different options is completely broken in concept, only in execution. But that’s a whole other can of worms. I DO definitely agree that it’s purpose is established WAY too late.

                *edit* “It won’t explain the ending” XD Technically the Crucible DOES, just… kinda badly.

        3. Naota says:

          If you ask me, a near-perfect analogy to this happening in film is the Matrix trilogy (save perhaps that I don’t think the original Mass Effect was anything near as revolutionary or challenging a piece of fiction as the original Matrix).

          Three movies with discordant tone and themes (due to not planning ahead) that all get dropped in the final few minutes, alongside character development and proper closure, to make a vague and ill-explored philosophical point which the audience neither wants nor cares for in lieu of anything resembling a real ending. It assumes a disconnected, unrelated, pompous moment of “cleverness” from the writer is equal to the resolution of a story three acts in the building.

          It is devastatingly wrong.

        4. pneuma08 says:

          You two above are missing my point. I’m not about to debate the merits of ME3’s ending. What I’m saying is it is *possible* to *not have* to follow continuity, and demanding otherwise is disingenuous. (Some might even go so far as to say it is immoral, since you’re effectively limiting what tools artists are allowed to use, but I digress.)

          1. ThomasWa says:

            I don’t think this is possible in videogames that require player input for moral dilemmas. The very opposite is required, so that the player can make an informed decision. It is telling that your example is a movie, not a game.

            Here’s a game that absolutely disregards continuity and needs to so to work at all.

            EDIT: link no work. The game is called Home. It’s an exploration-based horror game. It was made by one guy, is 3$ on Steam and has tons of atmosphere.

            1. pneuma08 says:

              I disagree. I haven’t played the second one, but isn’t the Witcher’s moral choice system based around the idea that you don’t have complete information (and therefore cannot make an informed decision) – but have to try anyway? (This is much closer to morality in real life.)

              Also, I did see Home on Steam, and thought it looked interesting (despite not really knowing anything about it from the trailer). I’ll have to check it out sometime.

              1. ThomasWa says:

                Maybe, I don’t care. This isn’t Witcher. It’s Mass Effect. Herp Derp.
                I haven’t played Witcher, so I don’t know how they do it, but I have to say, in a time when videogames strive to have more meaningful choices in them, endowing them with arbitrary results rings hollow to my ear. If the consequences of your actions arise from unknown circumstances anyway, why even bother taking the choice serious? Are we promoting nihilistic, absurdist design? I think not.

                1. pneuma08 says:

                  Aaand that’s a fundamental disagreement in game design philosophy. I can respect your opinion, but I don’t share it.

                  Take Spec Ops for example. The choices you make aren’t meaningful because if any consequence the game imposes on you (spoilers: it doesn’t). They’re meaningful because they reach beyond the game and question what you’re doing and why – which in this case are far more important than the (nonexistant) consequences.

                  1. ThomasWa says:

                    But that’s my point: We CAN have meaningful choices, that DO have consequences within a narrative. Specs just happens to suck at doing that/ have no intention of doing that.
                    If our choices have no consequences, then we don’t need to be playing a game to explore them. We could look at a movie that raises a question, and then employ hypotheticals concerning that question in our mind. Games, by their nature, allow for so much more. They allow us to DO stuff and follow up on it and react to the result. Specs Ops, however, doesn’t even let you do mistakes. It pushes those on the characters, instead.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Sure.But when you start one work of art as clearly defined by continuity go so far to at least try to explain various leaps in logic and moves from reality,suddenly choosing the other path makes for bad art.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              Basically ME3’s approach has merit but not as a sequel to the first game.

              Also known as “EA screwing up all of Bioware’s franchises in the name of ‘accessibility’ and ‘general appeal'”

              1. pneuma08 says:

                I don’t see any reason why the nonexistence of continuity should be constrained by continuity.

                1. Aldowyn says:

                  What? So you’re saying that the tone of the series wouldn’t matter to a game that’s deliberately thwarting continuity, basically?

                  I can’t agree that ME3 was trying to do that. It still has way too many constant threads from the earlier games, it just doesn’t work :/

                  I apologize if I’m missing your point entirely.

                  1. pneuma08 says:

                    That’s pretty much it. Still, a few niggling points:

                    1. I’m talking about the ending, specifically. The rest of the game is more or less an epic overture of the rest of the series. It doesn’t thwart continuity until the Grand Reveal.

                    2. I’m not saying consistency doesn’t matter at all – it does make it HARDER to do, but it isn’t a limitation in the sense that it restricts what is and isn’t possible. Simply put, if they were good enough they could have pulled it off. Whether they did or not is up for debate (although the consensus of the vocally opinionated is pretty clearly negative).

                    (In my opinion, Bioware’s strength in writing comes from their characters and not their narrative. I mean, ME2 pretty much has the same narrative flaws as ME3.)

                    1. Aldowyn says:

                      Okay, that makes sense. I’ll also agree with you about the narrative versus characters. Also I think they’re pretty good at setting KotOR might have been a subversion of that, depending on how you view the reveal.

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Id really like to see a story teller that manages to start a story by having great emphasis on continuity and explanations,only to throw it all away halfway through,and still have it be a good work overall.I dont think a anyone,alive or dead,is good enough to pull that off.

                    3. pneuma08 says:

                      Aldowyn: Hmm, I’ll have to revisit KOTOR (and also Jade Empire) since I don’t remember those narratives terribly well. In the meantime, I’ll just qualify my statement by saying it applies to recent Bioware titles. :)

                      Daemian: It’s a pretty bold statement to say that no one has or or will ever be able to accompish, but if 2001 doesn’t qualify, I lack the breadth of knowledge to refute the claim (although I cannot accept the claim as it is too far-reaching). The novel A Scanner Darkly maybe?

                      Also, not “halfway through” – the ending. (Seriously, it’s the last 10 minutes of a 6-10 hour game we’re talking about here, let’s not get carried away by rhetoric here.)

                    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      2001 the book is pretty hard on explanations through and through,it doesnt change that.2001 the movie is not,it is more of a feel than continuity and exposition.Scanner darkly Ive only watched,sadly,but it similarly is more about feel than explanations.

                      And its not just the ending.The second game already started tossing plenty of things out the window,and third one went way overboard with it.

                    5. pneuma08 says:

                      You’re going to have to qualify more specifically what you mean then. You say these examples are “more about feel” – but isn’t that the point? Isn’t that one way to overcome the limiations of continuity? Just because the ME3 writers failed at it, doesn’t mean they couldn’t have done something similar.

                      Perhaps the question I should be asking is, what about Mass Effect changed in the ending that didn’t also change with the ending of 2001 (the film)? That would help me to better understand what you’re saying.

                      Also, 2001 the film has a consistent tone, yes, but following the introduction, the middle is highly strung together and consequential, and the ending is psychadelic trip and space baby (beautiful and powerful, yes; tonally consistent, yes; sequitur, no). A Scanner Darkly is about the effects of hard drugs on people, and starts out with fairly clear explanations of what is going on, and as the novel progresses descends into chaos and confusion, ending with a broken man who may or may not know what he is doing. Thematically consistent, and maybe doesn’t qualify because it is possible to suss out roughly what is happening to the protagonist, although there is a good amount of ambiguity.

                      Oh, also someone mentioned the Matrix. The first Matrix had a discordant (yet thematically consistent, if somewhat heavy handed) ending. Seriously, hard explanations all around and then resurrection and exploding agent and flying away.

                      Also, the discusison is about ME3 in particular, and not the series in general (although ME3 is informed by the series). Switching the context like that is kind of disingenuous and not productive to discussion. Please try not to do that.

                    6. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Me3 is a sequel,a part of a greater story,and taking it out of context is what is disingenuous.You cannot just pluck the ending third of a story and talk about it like nothing before existed.Yes,it couldve worked as a stand alone game,but it wasnt a stand alone game.It was a sequel that drastically changed its tone from its predecessors(well me2 changed the tone technically).

                      Again,take 2001.Start reading the book,and then when the last 3rd comes,stop and watch the last third of the movie instead.You will get a sudden whiplash.The movie works when watched on its own,but when connected with the book,it falls apart.But unlike me3,2001 the movie wasnt made to be a sequel to the book.Thats the key difference here.2001 is a stand alone piece,me3 is not.

                    7. pneuma08 says:

                      I’m not saying to take it at its own merits, in fact I explicitly say to put it in its context. What I am saying is that the scope of one game in the series and the scope of the entire series are two separate contexts. ME3 may have changed the tone of the series, but it has its own, arguably consistent, tone as well, and you’re confusing the two (either intentionally or not).

                      It essentially goes like this:
                      “ME3 has a consistent tone, up until the ending.”
                      “No it doesn’t, the tone changed considerably from ME1.”

                      See what I mean? It’s disingenuous. Both statements may well be true but there are different scope of contexts and thus there isn’t an argument, just two people talking past each other.

                    8. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      But even on its own it doesnt have a consistent tone,long before the ending.The whole mars sequence,the citadel being untouched,cerberus being a terrorist organization with better funding than actual civilizations,quarian/geth conflict as opposed to rachni non-conflict,and the stupid,moronic,idiotic way in which you acquire side quests.

    2. Phantom Hoover says:

      You do a great disservice to 2001 by calling it a flick that throws logic and continuity out the window at the end. The ending makes sense enough in the original formulation by Clarke (the ending of the novel); the extreme ambiguity and lack of explanation in Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite is mostly deliberate. It works because it tries to make no sense and succeeds; ME3 doesn’t work because it tries to make sense and fails.

      1. pneuma08 says:

        Yes, and that’s exactly my point. Kubrick and Clarke are able to paint with nonsense and discontinuity; 2001 is only one example of this, and does not parallel exactly to ME3. Unsurprisingly, ME3’s writers aren’t quite so talented as to get it right, but aren’t they allowed to try?

        And I would actually argue that you do the film a disservice by saying you need to read the book to understand it. The film can stand on its own merits.

        1. Phantom Hoover says:

          I didn’t say you needed to read the book, I said that the book has a fairly unambiguous and comprehensible ending, so the film left those elements out deliberately. I wouldn’t say it throws logic and continuity out the window at all; rather, it masks them deliberately to confuse the viewer and invite their own interpretation. Meanwhile, ME3 just lays it all out in front of you and pretends it all makes sense.

          1. pneuma08 says:

            Fair enough. I had read your sentence to mean that although the ending didn’t make sense in the film, it did make sense in the book; instead, you were drawing a contrast between the book. (The semicolon threw me off, as I read the juxtaposition to mean a joined connection rather than using the closeness to highlight their differences.)

            Anyway, when you say it “pretends it all makes sense”, I think you may be the one imposing that onto the ending, specifically when you say “makes sense” you mean logically, but the argument goes they’re painting thematically, not logically.

        2. ehlijen says:

          What 2001 one did that Mass effect didn’t, though, was establish from the beginning that clear understandibility wasn’t being offered.

          Mass Effect does not do that. The clue trail to follow Saren, the final conversation about his motivation, the showdown with Wrex on Virmire…all of it is about actions and consequences. Why they drive us and what to do to get the outcome that is most desirable.

          Then the catalyst starts monologuing.

          The movie equivalent would be an agatha christie style investigation story finished with a never before mentioned wizard showing up and reading everyone’s mind, easily finding the killer and the riding off with him into the sunset. Possibly to the police station…possibly to get ice cream.

          1. pneuma08 says:

            I really didn’t want to talk about the quality of the ending, but I guess forget about that.

            Note well that I never said the Mass Effect 3 ending was good. Rather, I believe their failings don’t have anything to do with the fact that they ditched continuity and instead have to do with the fact that they didn’t do it well enough that people felt unsatisfied. The backlash that no game ever should try to ditch continuity and logic again is an unwarranted overreaction.

            1. ehlijen says:

              Maybe not never, but certainly not at the end of the long expected conclusion of a trilogy that has not been set up to support that kind of ending.

              If you wait until the third expensive product before pulling the rug out from under your fans you deserve backlash.

              1. pneuma08 says:

                I’m not saying they don’t deserve backlash (well, quite frankly, I don’t think they deserve any such thing, but that’s a separate argument); what I’m saying the backlash is overreaching in its statements. The ME3 ending isn’t “bad” because they tried to do something kind of abstract, it’s “bad” because they tried and failed to do something abstract. The former says that no one should ever do it because it is bad, that’s the difference.

  20. Eric says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t seen/didn’t mention smudboy’s analysis, Shamus. It’s probably the most in depth and anal-retentive of all of them, although to be fair it doesn’t talk so much about the fans and expectations as it does just the many, many core issues with the plot (and you need to watch the rest of his videos to sort of understand his perspectives on the series).

    Also, to be fair, they’re also long. Like, really long. His discussion of Mass Effect 3’s ending is close to a feature film’s running time. :p

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      +1 for smudboy here.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          I’ve been running into his name a lot lately. I’ll have to look into that.

        1. anaphysik says:


  21. Lame Duck says:

    “Commander, stay back! Hostiles just down the hall.”
    “Is there an easier way around?”
    Err…yeah, it’s called charge.

    For such a short, simple cutscene there was a hell of a lot wrong with its design. As Josh has been so thoroughly demonstrating, three Cerberus mooks is not something that deserves any kind of special attention. The Cerberus guys look like complete incompetents for not being able to take down a lone Salarian who saunters casually out of cover. Kirrahe looks like an idiot for sauntering casually out of cover and then ignoring someone setting up a turret right in front of him. Shepard and squad look like dumbasses for just standing around doing nothing after Kirrahe created an opening for them.

    Oh, and then Josh looks like a fool for charging directly into a turret.

    1. ThomasWa says:

      I noticed that too. The level design frequently dips into “generic-Shooter” territory, where stuff mostly happens only so the player can fight a thing at a place, like a dozen husks from a turret and then, falling down, a brute face to face and here, a turret that Kirrahe, Badass that he is, doesn’t shoot.

  22. cerapa says:

    Since we seem to be talking about the ending, I personally feel like the control and synthesis are the worst.

    But not because of what you might think. Its not because of hating the reapers, but because of the opposite.

    You see, reapers are explicitly said to be created from species, whetever they like it or not, and forced to continue the harvest. They arent convinced, but are indoctrinated(which would actually make indoctrination of others a side effect of the catalyst controlling the reapers). This makes them slaves to the catalyst. They simply do not have a choice. They arent some eldritch horrors that want to destroy everything, but brainwashed slaves forced to act against everything they believe in.

    Control means they stay slaves, just with a different master.
    Synthesis means everyone becomes a slave just like the reapers.
    Destroy means you are killing people/species/societies who have been enslaved for thousands of years and havent had a free choice ever since they became reapers. Basically a mercy kill.

    And refusal. Refusal is identical to destroy, considering that the reapers and the Catalyst are defeated in the next cycle. But it is also the only choice which would free the reapers. The Catalyst will not under any circumstances grant the reapers freedom. It will allow them to be destroyed or controlled, but not to be free.

    So, basically the reapers are the woobies of the universe and get screwed over every time.

    1. Littlefinger says:

      I donno about that. Remember this exchange back in ME1:

      Sovereign: Rudimentary creatures of blood and flesh, you touch my mind, fumbling in ignorance, incapable of understanding.
      Garrus Vakarian: I don’t think this is a VI…
      Sovereign: There is a realm of existence so far beyond your own you cannot even imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. I am Sovereign.
      Commander Shepard: Sovereign isn’t just some Reaper ship Saren found. It’s an actual Reaper!
      Sovereign: Reaper? A label created by the Protheans to give voice to their destruction. In the end, what they chose to call us is irrelevant. We simply… are.
      Garrus Vakarian: The Protheans vanished over 50,000 years ago. You couldn’t have been there, it’s impossible!
      Sovereign: Organic life is nothing but a genetic mutation, an accident. Your lives are measured in years and decades. You wither and die. We are eternal, the pinnacle of evolution and existence. Before us, you are nothing. Your extinction is inevitable. We are the end of everything.
      Commander Shepard: Whatever your plan is, it’s going to fail. I’ll make sure of that.
      Sovereign: Confidence born of ignorance. The cycle cannot be broken.
      Tali’Zorah nar Rayya: Cycle? What cycle?
      Sovereign: The pattern has repeated itself more times than you can fathom. Organic civilizations rise, evolve, advance, and at the apex of their glory they are extinguished. The Protheans were not the first. They did not create the Citadel. They did not forge the mass relays. They mere found them – the legacy of my kind.
      Commander Shepard: Why would you construct the mass relays and leave them for someone else to find?
      Sovereign: Your civilization is based on the technology of the mass relays. Our technology. By using it, your civilization develops along the paths we desire. We impose order on the chaos of organic life. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it.

      That’s not the dialogue of a slave, that’s a character in control of himself and dismissive/domineering towards others. If we’re going fan-wank, then I choose to erase the child from existance, the crucible was designed by the protheans, it blew up the Sol system along with all reapers in it, and all reapers were present in-system to protect Citadel (for whatever reason).

      1. cerapa says:

        Like I said, indoctrination. This is something that used be a whole society(who most certainly resisted), and has now become a domineering jackass who cant even comprehend that the reaper agenda could be wrong in absolutely any way.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          There’s interpretations to be had here (actually a good thing). You might see them as the consciousness of an entire civilization brainwashed into a certain outlook. Someone else might see it as more akin to the way the Asari reproduce, taking on the best aspects of a civilization and incorporating it into a new individual. Personally I’m in favor of the second because turning people into goop GENERALLY leaves them pretty dead and thus unable to think.

      2. Fleaman says:

        Counterpoint: In the universe of Mass Effect, every sentence ever spoken by TIM is what the dialogue of a slave looks like. Indoctrination is actually kind of a cool thing.

  23. Lame Duck says:

    Oh, since we’re talking endings, I’m curious what changes are made in the Not Quite As Shit Ending DLC?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You get a few cutscenes that make each ending more distinct,you get the fourth option to simply die and let the cycle continue(admittedly with a nice nod towards liaras time capsule),and you learn that shepard has no first name.

    2. meyerkev says:

      Haven’t played Leviathan.

      It ups the quality and number of the cutscenes, and makes them less obviously repetitive. Like if you totally deliberately fail, you’ll get cutscenes of the Reapers attacking and not quite destroying the Crucible as it moves in. Or the Normandy can either be seen doing repairs or flying off.

      The thresholds move down, so multiplayer is no longer required.

      Plot Hole filling:
      Your squadmates get picked up by the Normandy from the base of the beam (or obviously eaten by the beam). No idea why Harbringer doesn’t whack the ship, but less of a hole.

      Hackett orders everyone to run and not stop running the second the Crucible starts firing. (so why Normandy was in transit).

      Normandy can be destroyed, making repairs, or flying away. So it’s not stuck on random planet.

      Control – Shepard is God-Emperor/ess of the universe, basically by taking over from the kid, and controlling the Reapers. Reapers rebuild the galaxy under Shepard. Different dialogue dependent on whether Shep is Renegade or Paragon.

      Destroy – Made clear what “destroy all synthetics means”. Geth and Edi are dead, but the Implied Human Holocaust is not happening. Depending on War Assets, you can either wipe Earth in the explosion or light damage. High War Assets = galaxy rebuilding. Low War Assets = galaxy wiped, little hope of survival for others.

      Synthesis: Wierd cutscene with Edi. It still makes 0 sense, but hey. You also get to see a Quarian face (sort of, from the side) if you do this and resolve Rannoch happily.

      Refuse: Refuse the kid enough times or shoot him once. He leaves, everyone dies, Liara’s capsule works, the next cycle beats the Reapers. Ooh, and we get a different Stargazer person. If I hadn’t triggered it by accident (go pure Paragon once you hit the Catalyst, because if you say “NO” enough times, he’ll just trigger it, and there’s not a ton of warning), it’d be pretty cool.

      Still does nothing with actual thematic story elements, but pretty decent in isolation.

      Also, in unrelated context, depending on how screwy we’ll be in this playthrough, do the Turian mission and then don’t do the follow-up.

      1. lurkey says:

        I would argue about “ups the quality”; IMO, it makes the Synthesis ending even creepier – a series of posters a la vintage Communist propaganda with EDI droning in her monotone something akin to “There are no wars, because there is no conflict. Everyone knows what everyone else thinks. We are happy. We all float down here! ” The future is a “Black Hole Sun” video, those who died were lucky ones. :S

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Umm. Perhaps that was the point?

          1. lurkey says:

            I think you give Bioware too much credit – they aren’t exactly known for subtlety and hidden depths. Synthesis was the ending for which you had to do the most footwork, hence the writers must have believed it was the best outcome and Synthesis future an utopia.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              It wasn’t subtle, though. It was pretty friggin’ obvious to me. Perhaps because it’s such a common theme.

              Personally I think that the “best” ending (which, btw, is ACTUALLY the one that requires the most footwork) is the destroy ending where Shepard survives. You know, the only one that does what Shepard has been trying to do for 3 games now – destroy the Reapers?

              1. Keredis says:

                That’s a good point. Destroy would have been hands down the best if it had been “Destroy the Reapers” instead of “Destroy all Synthetics”.

      2. SleepingDragon says:

        Also, the kid gets slightly more explainy with the options if you ask and, a minor one but I like it because it’s something I’ve been saying would solve that problem, the relays are show to kinda fall apart rather than explode, since so many people remembered that relays exploding was a big thing (literally) from Arrival.

        Generally it’s fairly obvious that they went down the list of minor complaints:
        -why is Normandy going who knows where? Hacket gives the order
        -what does stuff like “will loose everything” in control ending mean? The kid elaborates
        -doesn’t the whole galactic civ get destroyed by mass relays exploding? the relays don’t explode but fall apart, the future is addressed in the new cutscenes
        -how did my team get on Normandy? Normandy picks them up.
        -why, in my last moments, I’m thinking about Joker and not the person I was romancing? Now you do.
        -great, so my team is alive but stuck on a random planet. Normandy is shown to be repaired and leaving.
        and so on and so forth.
        -I hate this ending, I’m not going to be part of this, I want to refuse! Now you can.

        I will admit I appreciate the changes, they fix a lot of the secondary that people had and just plan laziness/sloppiness on Bioware’s side (like the romance thing). EC definitely makes the endings more fleshed out and puts some better attention to details, though there’s still a lot of stupidity left in the storyline that is impossible to solve without some major changes/retcons.

        1. StashAugustine says:

          Yeah, my opinion having only seen extended cut is “ending == stupid, series != ruined.”

          1. Aldowyn says:

            That’s about it, yeah. It’s still bad, but it’s not OH MY GOD WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT WHAT IS GOING O)ASFHDGHSDGHHAHHHHHH! bad.

  24. Pteroid says:

    Not to seem like a pleb but…what’s an interocitor? I don’t get the reference.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Basically,its the placeholder device for whatever you may need at the moment.Linky.

    2. Chris says:

      While Daemian Lucifer is right, I believe Shamus and I know it most fondly from its appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

      Anyways. That’s enough of that. Normal view.

      1. Shamus says:

        Chris is right. MST3K:TM is where I first heard the word.

        Back in Ye Olden Dayeth, perhaps as recently as 1985, we used the word “Widget” to mean “generic nondescript thing”. But the problem with handy words like that is that someone will, just to be funny, actually NAME something with that word. If that thing becomes popular, then the once-generic word is basically conscripted into use as a specific word. Widget was one of those words. Widget is now a user interface term, usually for dock-able screen elements.

        Now Interocitor is our generic thing word. I miss widget. It was was easier to spell.

        1. Unbeliever says:

          “Interocitor” is now our generic thing word?!?

          Why wasn’t I notified???

          [Anyone out there get THAT reference?] :)

        2. Coblen says:

          Oh my god all my business classes use widgets in every example and I always assumed it was something similar to a nail.

          This all makes so much more sense now.

        3. Matt K says:

          I honestly had no idea there was a real Widget although at the Patent Office we still use that term to refer to a generic object (also in laws school and college). So you can still use it, I guess just not in reference to programing.

    3. HiEv says:

      It’s an alien communications device/computer/weapon from the 1955 movie This Island Earth, and the building of one is a sort of intelligence test given by the aliens.

      There’s a good picture of an interociter at the Uncyclopedia, if you’re interested.

  25. burningdragoon says:

    The shield guys are incredibly fun to fight… if you’re an infiltrator. *Pop* *head asplode* rinse, repeat.

    1. False Prophet says:

      Yeah, Cerberus is an NGO Superpower. It could have worked if they’d established Cerberus from the beginning as an autonomous body with significant resources, maybe using historical precedent like the British East India Company or Teutonic Knights. But instead they want us to swallow the few rogue scientists and survivalist-militia-types from ME1 were actually part of something like COBRA from the 80s GI Joe cartoon, with similar abilities. E.g. there were episodes where, for example, a huge COBRA squadron would suddenly attack a GI Joe convoy–in the middle of the continental United States with no warning. Similarly Cerberus’ ability to suddenly attack secret salarian facilities with no warning.

      I might have said this before, but had Cerberus been portrayed as a bona fide political movement, a significant opposition party to the tolerance/openness bloc in the Alliance, there was potential for great storytelling there. There could be divisions even among the general staff of the Alliance military. But instead, this silliness.

    2. StashAugustine says:

      Mail Slot!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Can you shoot through that with weapons other than sniper?

        1. IFS says:

          Yep, I’ve done it with a shotgun before, you just have to get very close. The spread reducing upgrade helps too.

        2. StashAugustine says:

          I do it with pistol and occasionally with assault rifle on multiplayer.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            It’s pretty easy to do with a Mattock, but it’s pretty much a sniper rifle with next to no recoil, lower damage, and a way faster fire rate. Technically an assault rifle.

            SMGs.. it’s hard. Shotguns… also hard, depends on the shotgun. Works if you get REALLY in their face.

            Or you can just get armor piercing and claymore them.

        3. ehlijen says:

          You can do it with any weapon, it’s just that being accurate enough is easiest with the sniper rifle. Also, most weaker weapons tend to not oneshot them even if you do hit the head through the slot.

  26. ehlijen says:

    Cerberus is trying to stop Shepard because she broke up with TIM. So he teams up with Harbinger, the creep she wouldn’t even date, to take personal revenge. That’s pretty much what I’m getting from everyone’s Shepard fixation in this franchise.

    Bioware used to know how to give at least acceptable reasons as to why everyone was the main character’s friend or foe and rarely, if ever, indifferent to him or her. Baldur’s gate, KOTOR, Jade Empire even Dragon Age and ME1 to a degree gave actual reasons as to why the player was doing this thing and why the bad guy wanted YOU! to face what you ended up facing. ME2 and 3…don’t. Harbinger shouldn’t give a damn. TIM should be working to avoid shepard while striking at the crucible, not the opposite, which he is doing.

  27. Mr.Soggy says:

    I think I just worked out why Cerberus is so incapable of using basic common sense… The Illusive man is just that, an illusion, Conrad Verner runs Cerberus.

    1. Guy says:

      That’s Dr Conrad.

  28. drlemaster says:

    Re: referring to Film Crit Hulk as she

    My ex used to sometimes send me links to Feminist Hulk, who tweets and occasionally shows up elsewhere under that handle. Could you be subconsciously conflating the two?

  29. False Prophet says:

    Yeah, Cerberus is an NGO Superpower. It could have worked if they'd established Cerberus from the beginning as an autonomous body with significant resources, maybe using historical precedent like the British East India Company or Teutonic Knights. But instead they want us to swallow the few rogue scientists and survivalist-militia-types from ME1 were actually part of something like COBRA from the 80s GI Joe cartoon, with similar abilities. E.g. there were episodes where, for example, a huge COBRA squadron would suddenly attack a GI Joe convoy”“in the middle of the continental United States with no warning. Similarly Cerberus' ability to suddenly attack secret salarian facilities with no warning.

    I might have said this before, but had Cerberus been portrayed as a bona fide political movement, a significant opposition party to the tolerance/openness bloc in the Alliance, there was potential for great storytelling there. There could be divisions even among the general staff of the Alliance military. But instead, this silliness.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      There even IS a pro-human political bloc that was touched on in ME1 that could be backing them. I don’t think any connection is ever established.

      The biggest problem with Cerberus isn’t what they are in each individual game, it’s that they shift with no discernible reason from game to game simply to fill a role in the plot.

      1. Keredis says:

        Also, if they have so many resources, why couldn’t they have cut you a blank check in ME2? I mean, if it’s such an important goal, instead of the paltry sum after each mission, just give Shepard a few million credits. They can obviously afford to spare it. Or give Shepard access to one of their cruisers, or a mech, or even just one of those bulletproof shields the guardians have. But nope. Despite them burning a TON of resources to rez Shepard for this vital mission, it apparently wasn’t vital enough to allocate a few more resources once Shepard was actually alive.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          *shrug* They mechanized and upscaled after/during ME2. Some other handwave. Something. A “blank check” would fairly fundamentally break some aspects of the game.

          But there IS no handwave, none at all. They just magically turn into whatever they need to be.

          1. Keredis says:

            That’s the thing. I understand that, from a gameplay perspective, you can’t have unlimited funds. But if you have the player character working for an organization with unlimited funds, that is willing to spend unlimited funds on the player character, and the player character’s mission is touted as Priority #1 for said organization with unlimited funds, some kind of handwave is neeeded.

    2. ? says:

      A group like Cerberus could take control over some of the independent human colonies in the Terminus Systems. They would simply have to put their sympathisers on most of local government positions and promise some protection independent of the Citadel and Systems Alliance. That would explain why they were so interested in stopping the Collectors (‘they took our cannon fodder!’). Question is: can several recently established independent colonies have weapon manufacture industry that covers Cerberus needs? Although human expansion and assimilation of cutting edge mass effect technology always seemed ridiculously fast to me. Maybe they can build mega-factories and space shipyards in weeks.

      That’s all speculation in search of logical explanations. The real explanation is: Cerberus took control of biggest plot mines in the galaxy, and they are using it to make plot armour and plot holes.

      1. guy says:

        Mass Effect has always implied tremendously fast construction rates. Just for starters, ME1 ammo mods were not things you physically inserted into weapons but were instead software chips used to retool the ammunition fired.

        Then there’s the bit where the Turians rebuild a number of dreadnoughts by the time ME2 runs around, even though they’re the single largest military investment in the entire galaxy, are massive in size, and require extremely complex components and rare materials in vast quantities.

        However, Cerberus does not merely have “a lot” of stuff. They have enough stuff to be a serious military threat to full Council members. Also, they have the most advanced, and therefore difficult to construct, stuff.

  30. Eric says:

    One thing you mention about expository dialogue – I think this is a major, major problem with BioWare games in general. Expository dialogue is always, always fine if the player is the one being told about things in a direct manner. For instance, in Planescape, it makes sense to run around Sigil asking questions about the world because the player (and character) are new to it. But to have other characters in that same world delivering exposition to each other is a whole other matter.

    I’ve been playing KotOR II again recently and that’s something I really, really appreciate. Characters only ever really give you an info dump on something unless you actually need or ask for it, and if it’s relevant to the situation. Otherwise they only tell the player things if they are relevant to the situation… and many of the conversations you witness hint at the larger realities of the world without outright stating them. Atton isn’t just going to dump his whole life story on the player like in a BioWare game, the player needs to keep pressing the issue, cozy up to him, etc. The player can infer just as much from his actions and behaviours, and it comes across much more naturally.

    It’s a shame too, because once you notice obvious exposition it’s very hard to un-notice it, in anything, whether it’s films or books or television or games. I realise there is a desire to slap people across the face with the relevant facts to make sure they understand what’s happening, but it shouldn’t ever be necessary to do it in such a heavy-handed way unless the audience really does demonstrate it needs heavy-handed methods to understand things (i.e. “what’s a Paladin?”).

    1. Spammy says:

      “What’s a Paladin?”

      I’ve just recently started playing through Mass Effect 1. When you first get to the Citadel you can walk up to the Volus and Elcor embassy and go, “Tell me about the history and culture of the Volus.” Which is still stuck in my head for how demanding and expository is is. I want to walk up to some random diplomat at the UN building and go, “Tell me about the history and culture of your people.”

      1. Ronixis says:

        Sten in Dragon Age sort of subverts this. You can ask him the same sort of thing when he joins, but he just says “No.”

        1. Aldowyn says:

          It IS Sten, after all.

          Talking about the Spectres on the Normandy with Jenkins and Chakwas might or might not be a good way to handle it, depending on your perspective. I thought the conversation with Pressly about Nihlus was REALLY good at establishing the tense relations between some humans and turians (largely dumped later on, although I can see why)

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Mass effect also had nice ways to have shepard give exposition.For example,the wheel says “whats X”,and shepard then says “Isnt X supposed to be…”.It was a nice touch to have your character actually know the world they are living in.

      1. Eric says:

        It still comes across as stupid. I mean, you have two choices:

        1) “what are the Protheans?” -> “50,000 year old civilization”
        2)”the Protheans? aren’t they that 50,000 year old civilization?”

        It’s not really elegant at all, and I don’t think really counts as foreshadowing because there’s no subtlety or tact to it. It’s that lack of thought in how it is presented in the dialogue that’s the problem. Sure, we need to know it, but the game shouldn’t need to suddenly make everyone in the room start speaking directly to the player to do it. As an example, I’d write it as something like:

        Anderson: “There’s Prothean ruins on Eden Prime, Shepard.”
        Shepard: “Seems those things always turn up where you least expect.”
        Anderson: “Maybe so, but this expedition is one of our most promising in years. We’ve poured millions into this site alone, and our archaeologists are telling us it’s the real deal.”
        Shepard: “What do you mean? It’s another Mars find?”
        Anderson: “No promises, but it’s looking that way. I don’t have to tell you what the stakes are that we make sure this site remains secure and safe.”
        Shepard: “Damn. You should have told me earlier.”

        Here we’ve got exactly the same info dump (Protheans = old, Mars was an important discovery, Eden Prime is important), but Shepard avoids sounding like a moron and you don’t break the fourth wall by having Anderson say AEONS AGO, THE PROTHEANS WERE A SPACE-FARING CIVILIZATION THAT RULED THE GALAXY etc. It’s just the subtleties that count. If the player wants to know more, well, they can read the codex entry.

  31. burningdragoon says:

    Also, seriously, what’s with the butt circles on female armor?

    1. Matt N. says:

      Don’t ask, don’t tell. . .

    2. ehlijen says:

      erm…they’re magnectic, so you don’t need seatbelts on the magnetic shuttle seats?

  32. rrgg says:

    I was really disappointing that the engineer class didn’t really feel like being an engineer at all. During my first play through I saw the Cerberus engineers run around building turrets and repairing things and thought “Woah, I want to do that!” But instead the class is just somewhere between “another space wizard” and “solder with some fancy grenades.”

    I think at one point you can overhear a conversation between the loading screen guards where one asks why we don’t just take out Cerberus’s colonies and the excuse given is that, well, “Cerberus doesn’t have colonies.” Oh, my mistake. See, I was confused because I was under the impression that the vast number of resources, manpower and equipment Cerberus keeps showing up with actually had to come from somewhere. But that’s just me, trying to analyze strategy when this game is clearly all about the akshun!

    1. ehlijen says:

      Yes, I was horribly dissappointed when I saw that the engineer class’ turret was nowhere near as cool as the cerberus one.

  33. rayen says:

    something you didn’t touch upon. bringing up the gender wars between krogan, take notice, that joke is a horse that has been dead since the mid-nineties, in doesn’t make sense in the krogan culture since if i remember correctly they are a very war like race and all krogan (regardless of gender) have to fight to stay alive and fed. And here the killer for me, if you are playing as femshep lack of response makes it even weirder. But other instances where they changed something to be more asexual when it didn’t need to be, here someone thought the joke was so good they left it in…
    Really, Bioware? this is the quality writing you’re known for?

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Krogan females, fertile ones anyway, rarely have to fight. The effects of the genophage mean that they are kept separated from the men and viciously protected so that they can (try to) breed in safety. They’re too valuable to throw their lives away in some skirmish.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        It is heavily implied that the krogan are matriarchal, but that for some reason the men have been running things since the at least the Rachni Wars and the uplift. As such, the line may actually carry a bit more weight along the lines of “who is really in charge here.”

    2. Eric says:

      What’s more jarring for me is that Eve has this really weird super-liberal attitude that mirrors modern perspectives on politics and human/religious/sexual/etc. rights. Imposing our values into an alien race that cannot possibly relate to our way of life is just silly, and turning Eve into a Space Muslim + Women’s Rights Activist(TM) is even worse.

  34. IFS says:

    So if cerberus wants the female krogan dead, and they can drop in a giant robot, why don’t they just drop in a nuke instead? I doubt they really care enough about the facility/planet to try to capture it, and as the first game showed a ships drive core can be converted into a nuke (or equivilantly powerful bomb) so its clearly not outside their magic resources.

    1. Keredis says:

      Who even needs nukes? Just a simple kinetic strike with some large, heavy objects from orbit would solve the problem.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah,but nukes are expensive,and cerberus isnt made of money.They have limited resources you know.

    3. Eric says:

      Because then Shepard wouldn’t be able to run around shootan everyone :(

      1. IFS says:

        Because Soap and Price wanted to shoot some dudes?

    4. zob says:

      I don’t think they want to kill the Eve. They want to kidnap it for some reason, maybe for blackmailing krogans.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Would believe that if they were not shooting at her,which is shown by her health bar.

  35. Entropy says:

    I assumed the reason Cerberus is attacking now is to stop the genophage from being cured. Because they are pro-human, and believe that the krogan will straight up murder everyone if they are cured.

    A viewpoint I am not unsympathetic to.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      “assumed” is the problem. That is, as far as I remember, nowhere stated, mentioned, or even implied in any fashion.

  36. Spammy says:

    I still stand by what I said in the last episode’s comments, that it would have been cooler if the female Krogan didn’t look anything like what we’d expect and more resembled in size and build a Shadow Bowser on steroids. They could keep her nearly covered up on the way up but then on the walk to the shuttle she steps out and you see how huge she is and maybe she even goes all “RIP AND TEAR, RIP AND TEAR” on some Cerberus dudes. So she’s not just a Krogan in a robe.

  37. ps238principal says:

    The Atlas Mech’s landing makes perfect sense when you accept the idea that the Solarian engineers built their floors sturdy enough to withstand the impact and support one tromping around on it.

    It’s how in movie-land, all rooftops can support helicopters.

  38. Darren says:

    Not really about ME3, but FHC’s response makes me think about Red Dead Redemption. From what I can tell, many (most?) people hate the ending, whereas I thought the ending was one of the best parts of the game, and the only explanation I can think of for the hatred is that it doesn’t give players what they want.

    The question, to me, then, is when do you make that distinction? Red Dead Redemption ends the only way I think it reasonably can while respecting the plot and characters that have been developed. I would not want to have that revised, and part of why I wasn’t able to get into the Undead Nightmare expansion/spin-off/whatever was because it was, well, kind of tasteless, to me, to see these characters who were given such a moving send-off repurposed for a goofy grindhouse riff. On the other hand, Bethesda’s revision of the ending of Fallout 3 didn’t bother me in the least, since the original ending relied on the player caring about “Dad” and “Mom” to a degree that I frankly don’t think the game could ever muster.

    Does this make me a hypocrite? Should an ending I thought was terrible–and which I believe I could convincingly argue was terrible and offer ways to fix it–be allowed to be revised while an ending that I thought was good–and which I believe I could convincingly argue was good–be sacrosanct? How do you make that distinction?

    1. ThomasWa says:

      If the article I (and Shamus, subsequently) linked at the top of the comments is to be believed, then the EC indeed improved the ending by offering another choice, in this case allowing the player to refuse the original choices’ suspect morality.

      I think videogames are not movies. That goes without saying, but Movie-People need to be reminded of this. As such, there are different rules at play, some of which we haven’t even defined yet, as a culture. My point is, if your game is about choice, it needs to have choice. If your artistic message demands trivial choice, don’t put it at the end of a game with nontrivial choice. ME3 simply betrayed the expectations of an audience, who, in turn, complained, exactly in the way one would complain about a gamebreaking bug and demanded it fixed. There is nothing suspect here.
      About RDR: I think that game offered too much freedom. From what I know (very little, I haven’t played it) you can play it as a mostly good person, but the ending ultimately disregards that. (As far as I know, it’s the protagonist’s dark past, that ultimately claims him. Maybe the problem in this case stems from that last part being done during game play, effectively communicating to the player that they should be able to win this. That should probably have been a cut-scene instead.)

      1. ThomasWa says:

        I just read up on that final mission some more and I think there really is a problem in the divide between gameplay and story, namely the “Redemption” part. The game says that there is only one path to redemption for that character, when some players discovered others. In other words: Yes, this game needs either a “Good” ending, or it must prohibit a “Good” playthrough, one of the two. It doesn’t make a lot of sense otherwise.
        (To me, anyway. Shucks, I don’t know.)

        1. ThomasWa says:

          Thinking more on this, audience expectation might be the key here. If RDR had communicated the fact that the protagonist dies at the end, people would have accepted it more readily. They could have shown the firing squad etc. out of context in the beginning of the game (similar in the way God of War does it), and, in the final mission, filled in that context of redemption. This way the player could have done away with the thought of “death equals failure” early, because death was already assured. The final mission would then have been a “Mind=Blown” moment and retained its effect for everyone.
          I guess it comes down to telling the player what it is they are supposed to do, and then let them work towards that. RDR doesn’t allow the player to work towards the character’s redemption through being a good person, instead only to work through a linear story, which happens to end with the characters redemption. But throughout that linear story the player is also supposed to not die, only to then die at the end. I think there is confusion in that.

          1. Darren says:

            Ah, but that’s the thing: why shouldn’t John Marston die? He may have turned his back on his past life, but does that mean he deserves special treatment compared to his unrepentant colleagues?

            Throughout the game (and I’ve been slooowly working my way through a replay, so I’ve been looking for this) there is a significant gap between how John viewed his past and how it probably went. John consistently says that they stole from the rich to give to the poor, but none of the other members of the gang behave in a way to suggest that they were ever anything other than mindless thugs. The “I Know You” questline (which does foreshadow John’s death) rather specifically calls John out on his contributions to the deaths of innocents. John’s first exchange with Bill Williamson highlights his oddly formal language; Williamson’s assertion that Marston always did love “fancy words” is the first suggestion that John is aspirational (or morally superior, or arrogant), adjusting even his own language to raise himself higher.

            The funny thing is that no one besides John and apparently many players really buys this. The federal agent is the most blunt about it, and comes off as a huge asshole, but even Nigel West-Dickens can see through John’s bullshit: “No one is as critical of alcohol as a former drunk,” or something like that.

            John Marston is an unreliable narrator. John Marston doesn’t die just because the federal agent is an asshole, but because John’s past sins weren’t forgiven any more than his comrades’, and he must share their fate, for good or ill (and, based on Jack’s adoption of John’s lifestyle, I would suspect the consequences are very bad indeed). It isn’t a happy ending, but it’s satisfying because that sense of inevitability is woven throughout the story, from beginning to end. At least to me.

      2. ThomasWa says:

        Wow, do I talk on about other stuff a lot there. On changing stuff: I think there is not much damage to be done IF we stick to “adding options” as opposed to actually changing what’s there. That Undead Nightmare-Thing sounds stupid to me,too. But it shows the different approaches that different developers have. On the one hand you have “uptight-Artistic-Integrity”- Bioware, who take their nonsensical sci-fi story really serious and on the other you have “hang-loose”-Rockstar, who are willing to mess around with their (awesome, if flawed) tragic western, as if it were no thing.

  39. LunaticFringe says:

    So no one has brought this up yet in the comments, so I will: Remember how the dalatrass was talking about how uplifting the krogan was a mistake, an idea that seems to be supported by at least the civilian government of the salarians?

    In the STG base if you check the consoles near the Yahg a scientist discusses how they’re going to uplift the Yahg in the same way to ‘benefit their interests’. Um, why? Why would you uplift a species obsessed with control, are naturally aggressive unless you constantly assert dominance, and are highly intelligent predators? Why would you do this after how bad the krogan turned out?

    Seriously, I find this little throwaway to be one of the most confusing things in the whole game.

    1. guy says:

      Salarians are not known for their foresight.

      Apparently the Yahg are fairly binary. They’re either pretty much completely loyal or are actively participating in a dominance fight. So the Salarians may have been convinced they could keep them on a leash.

      1. Irridium says:

        It’s also why the council quarantined the Yahg homeworld and essentially banned them from interacting with the rest of the galaxy. Which means the Salarians are violating council law. I understand it would be kind of pointless to care when the galaxy is being attacked by Reapers, but still, shouldn’t someone have brought that up? Maybe have Liara remark how there shouldn’t be Yahg here?

        I can buy into the Salarians doing some shady secret stuff that violates a law or two, but still.

      2. LunaticFringe says:

        You could justify it, but the game just throws this in and never comments on it or explains why this would be a good idea. And it’s not like it would be too off-topic. Later, when the dalatrass asks Shepherd to sabotage the cure you could’ve had him/her highlight the fact that the salarians are trying to do the same thing they did to the krogan with the Yahg. It makes no sense to just throw this in with little to no context and then expect the player to accept it as logical when less then an hour ago the dalatrass explained how uplifting the krogan was a mistake.

    2. Eric says:

      More to the point, don’t the Yahg come from a jungle world and basically just fight and kill everything in their natural habitat? As I know they have very little society, culture or technology, so why would they be so intelligent enough to be worth uplifting in the first place?

      Oh right, because BioWare just ran out of ideas and needed a boss fight for their DLC, so they decided to pull some big monster out of their asses, and then couldn’t even get someone with a working brain to justify it via some bullshit codex entry.

  40. Keredis says:

    Am the the only one who constantly wonders why, if someone can make an invulnerable material, why they don’t just make everything out of it? I mean, why don’t they just make armor or mechs out of whatever they make those Guardian shields out of? Or, at least, let Shepard pick up one of those things and run around with mobile cover.

    1. ps238principal says:

      Because it only comes in one color, the licensing fees and restrictions on the patent are unreasonable, and for some reason it’s not as sturdy unless it smells faintly of rotten cabbage.

  41. Wraith says:

    There is only one kind of relevant genre where ME3’s ending is appropriate, and that’s the Cosmic Horror Story. And even then it still doesn’t quite fit.

    In a Cosmic Horror Story, there is no way to win. Humanity is so insignificant that they barely register if at all on the radars of the great eldritch beings that inhabit the universe. Oftentimes, they are referred to as an “accident” in regards to their existence. There’s no way to defeat these beings operating on an exponentially greater level, only to delay or slightly inconvenience their very, very long-running schemes concerning humanity. Everything is hopeless, and the more us puny humans learn about our enemies, the more it drives us quite insane. ME1 had a lot of elements of Cosmic Horror, most notably the concept of indoctrination, the appearance and nature of the Reapers, and the scene on Virmire with Sovereign. In fact, I often heard the Reapers nicknamed “Mecha-Cthulhu” before ME2 ruined them. These elements added a LOT to the atmosphere and flavor of the ME universe, and are what made the Reapers such a fascinating adversary. The conversation with Sovereign is hands-down my favorite scene in the series – the writing there is superb.

    The problem is, ME2 pretty much discards and disregards all of these Cosmic Horror elements. The Reapers are no longer this enigmatic, unstoppable entity that views organic life with the same disdain as we do insects. Harbinger – and by extension, the Reapers – is absolutely fixated upon Shepard and humanity as a whole. The Reapers seem to idolize humanity so much for defeating Sovereign that they are giving them the dubious honor of becoming the first new Reaper. And on that note, the Reapers no longer have a motive that is a complete intriguing mystery – they’re just reproducing. I would even go far enough that it’s possible for the future installments in the series to ruin Sovereign’s awesome dialogue – why would Sovereign hold organics in such disdain when the Reapers DIRECTLY DEPEND ON ORGANICS TO LIVE? The ONLY concept of this sort that remains constant throughout the series is indoctrination, because you would have to try really really hard to ruin something like that and we all know just how much effort Bioware put into ME2/ME3’s writing.

    And as for why the ending does not fully conform to that of a CHS, it’s possible to win. It’s really bleak (even less bleak with the Extended Cut), but these Eldritch beings are defeated. Sometimes it’s as if they tried to compromise – make the ending really dark but at the same time make it a “you still won though” ending – and failed absolutely miserably in the way indecisive, confused compromises often do.

    So after two games of spitting in the face of their Lovecraftian roots, Bioware pulls a bunch of shit out of their ass that would only be SOMEWHAT fitting for a Cosmic Horror Story, and they expect us to not hate it? LOL

    1. ehlijen says:

      Worse than that. You couldn’t just win. Until the DLC ending, you couldn’t actually lose. You were forced to win in an unsatisfying manner.

      1. Wraith says:

        I know. I would have been all for an even bleaker ending if the series had stayed true to its roots. But what we got…didn’t even stay true to its roots. To paraphrase the LOTR-ME article, the writers decided to focus on what was basically the B-theme.

  42. Ron says:

    The impression I got was that the Illusive man wasn’t trying to stop the alliance, just the genophage cure. Considering the fact that he wanted to control the reapers to assure human dominance in the galaxy, a rapidly breeding krogan population would be one of the few things that could stand in his way. Throughout the game it’s made fairly clear that he sees the other races as more of a threat than the reapers.

    Shamus, I’m not sure if you’ve played Leviathan, but I was reminded of this post while playing: They have now been reduced even further, from generic AI drones carrying out a simple function, to AI that turned on their creators due to a misinterpretation of their function.

    I have to disagree with those that say the Leviathan dlc should have been part of the game. The reapers are now as generic as any other AI in science-fiction.

    1. Luhrsen says:

      Sort of the way Loghain considered the Orlesians a bigger threat than the darkpawn. Though stupid, it makes sense from that point of view.

  43. Lightningstrike14 says:

    One of the things I don’t understand about people’s criticisms of the latter ME games is the removal of RPG elements like the inventory system. I don’t understand why people liked that, it kinda broke the first game for me. I mean here I am, big bad space marine, but I have to rip my gear off dead geth, I’m a spectre, shouldn’t I just take from the military or something? I liked the latter games ways of addressing that stuff, specifically the armor, a lot better.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      ME2 stripped it TOO much, IMO. There weren’t that many armor options and they didn’t make a HUGE difference, and the gun choice was pretty abysmal. ME3 was much, MUCH better in that department.

    2. Keredis says:

      I can’t say that I had any complaints with the removal of the actual inventory management system. That was a pain.

    3. Eric says:

      I agree. Inventory systems only matter if you have, you know, a game with actual mechanics beyond “point gun -> shoot gun.” Mass Effect does not, therefore it needs no inventory.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        I object. Mass Effect has skills, essentially first aid kits, ammo, and even armor. Inventory just doesn’t make sense in context because he’s in the military/terrorist group and has backers.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      I honestly think that’s something Mass Effect 3 did right. It balanced the streamlining and combat of Mass Effect 2 with the RPG elements and inventory management of Mass Effect 1 very well.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Agreed. I’m also immensely happy about ME2 and 3’s choice to not use vendor trash. Vendor trash is pointless busywork at best and sadism on the game designers part at worst (when needed to keep up with the economy curve but not easy due to limited inventory space).

        Note that I’m not talking about worlds that simply have everything as an item for completion sake (skyrim) or use pointless items as red herrings for crafting systems that has recipes discovered by trial and error. I’m talking about the game being programmed to randomly drop lvl2 gear from lvl 12 foes. Or DA2 where trash was literally just ‘money that takes up inventory space until you go back to a shop’.

        1. Lame Duck says:

          Vendor trash is supposed to be a way to give the player money in a context where it would be non-sensical to have coins. For example, taking the pelt of a yeti to sell rather than having them carry around loose change in their fur.

          Typically I much prefer the verisimilitude of appropriately used vendor trash, but in this case it doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense that a military officer and secret agent would need to scavenge their enemies corpse for money. Plus ME1’s inventory system was easily one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me in a video game, so anything that means of less of that sort of thing is OK by me.

          1. Sumanai says:

            In a fantasy setting it could be done so that when you vendor trash, it all piles up on the same slot and as soon as you enter a town or a store they’ll be sold. Possibly even offer the option to show their value in your money pile, so you know how much money you’ve got the next time you get into town.

            Hmm… possibly not a slot. Have a vendor trash tab or some kind of a container in your inventory that has all of them. It’s vital however that they don’t take any space, or just the one. Also they shouldn’t be shown when looking at the “All Items” page, unless there’s space for “All Useful Items” page.

  44. Jon says:

    On about the 4:00 mark Shamus says he thinks the Mass Effect 1 team would have used the salarian homeworld as an opportunity to show us more about Salarian society instead of Generic Military Base #7. I actually think this is one of the biggest criticisms of ME 1 and one of the strengths of ME 2.

    In ME 1, you don’t get that much insight into the races. The citadel is the only real hub, and pretty much all the plot worlds you visit are “generic scientific colony #3”. Noveria was interesting, but fairly human-centric the rest were just glorified archaeological dig sites. The side-mission planets were all identical Generic Miltary Bases.

    However, in ME2 you got a much better feel for the different races: you saw the commerce-centred Asari society on Illium, the internal politics of the migrant fleet and the brutal devestation and triballism of Tuchanka. I thought this was actually one area that ME2 shined (despite its flaws) whilst both ME1 and 3 were major letdowns.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      I agree that ME1 definitely needed more variety. The citadel was good though because EVERYTHING is there and therefore you get to meet EVERYTHING. ME3, IMO, shouldn’t need it because all of that should already be established – now it’s time for WAR, and all that stuff just influences the world – which it does, with things like the Salarians arguing over the Genophage and the Geth/Quarian conflict.

    2. Lame Duck says:

      Yes, this is pretty much the enitre reason that I didn’t really like ME1 very much. I had a very hard time caring about the imminent destruction of such a culturally dead galaxy. You say Noveria was interesting, but even that looked like the sort of place that would make you kill yourself after about 3 days of living there; it was all grey, concrete corridors and identical office space.

  45. RCN says:

    Yay, Spoiler Warning is back. Damn, that means I need to get back to this game and finish it so I’m not out of the loop and can actually read all this stuff about the ending (BTW, can you believe I managed to stay spoiler free of ME3 ending until now? Me neither! And somehow, here I am. Seriously, I have no idea what the gripe is yet. I don’t know what happens. Even as I watch spoiler warning.)

    Oh, and apparently moviebob is defending the ending… well, moviebob thinks “And the princess was saved… till she is kidnapped again” to be perfection as far as GAME endings and storytelling is concerned, so he really shouldn’t be allowed to talk about games anymore. It comes off as either really condescending to gaming, or really fanboyish of him. Or both.

  46. Mr Compassionate says:

    Oh gods I just watched Leviathan DLC ending DX

    I don’t think I can even express the amount of stupid displayed there. Anybody who says the end of that explains to any degree the actual ending or reaper motivations wasn’t paying attention at all.

    How would you clean sewage off your walls? Im willing to bet your first choice wouldn’t be to spray more sewage on it. How would you save your mind slaves from synthetics made by themselves? Not by making some bloody synthetics of your own. Especially not when you possess psychic abilities of your own capable of bringing down guess what? Synthetics.

    What was the victory state of this plan of theirs anyway? “Oh no our thrall species’s are killing themselves with robots! Who will complete all the sweaty labor now?”
    “I have an idea, lets store all their biological data in giant flying sapient death robots! That way they CANT kill themselves because they’ll all be dead already.”
    “Genius! Ill get the sentients to get to work on making robots to kill themselves right away I simply cant see this going wrong in any regard.”

    Years later they would be left with nothing but death robots chock full of bio juice floating about space for no reason. The slaves would be all dead and massively powerful self aware robots without target parameter restrictions more powerful than their creators sit idly twiddling their lack of thumbs for the rest of time. Victory achieved?

    Edit: Actually reading that last paragraph again I cant help but notice a description of the victory conditions for the space lobsters sounds almost identical to the defeat conditions for the space lobsters. But the space lobsters said they used thrall species for work and made them prosper, so in either scenario that fails and the lobster people sit about in the ocean forever with nothing. The only difference in the defeat scenario is they cant go outside.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      What? The Reapers are definitively using people as thralls?

      Curse you Bioware >.> The Reapers were so INTERESTING in ME1!

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        If you want to set up an ancient unknowable race of killer precursors, it’s generally a good idea to KEEP them ancient and unknowable. Unless you have some mind blowingly clever idea behind their motivation, anything you reveal will inevitably lead to disappointment and lessen their value as antagonists.

    2. Wraith says:

      Yeah I just watched an LP of Leviathan as well. There’s a lot of stupid in there, the most prominent two being:

      -There’s suddenly a way to “shield” from indoctrination, which has never been mentioned ever and is mind-numbingly stupid in concept
      -The idea of a “rogue” Reaper is incredibly stupid if you take into account the ACTUAL CANON of the Reapers being controlled by a central intelligence

      Now, if you erase Bioware’s ruining of the Reapers from the series, especially the Catalyst, THEN the idea of a rogue Reaper would be plausible, and fairly interesting, actually. Even still, this should have been a DLC for a PROPER ME2. You know, the one without the Collector or Cerberus or Resurrection Reset Button stupidity where you actually prepared for the Reapers instead of faffing about on a meaningless, feature-length sidequest.


      Okay, I admit, I was not quite finished with the LP when I made this post. Leviathan is not a true Reaper as is suspected, but the original race that created the Catalyst and ultimately became the first Reaper. This little twist is actually quite well done because it is heavily foreshadowed that Leviathan is just a rogue Reaper. The problem here is that WHY WASN’T THIS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT EXPOSITION IN THE MAIN GAME. Holy crap if they actually had some decent exposition on the motives and origins of the Reapers like this, then how did they end up botching ME2 in particular and the rest of the series so badly. It seriously hurts me mentally to see a series with such potential to be squandered with such incompetence.

      1. Mr Compassionate says:

        You know its actually even worse than that.
        Not only did they not include something as trite as the motivation of the main antagonist in the main game the motivation in itself really badly stupid. I mean the motivation presented at the end of ME3 is stupid, then the DLC elaborates on the stupid to flesh out the variety of ways everything is stupid. The space lobsters clearly survived by sheer luck because their plan should by all rights have killed them off.

        1. Wraith says:

          Yeah, even with all the other important exposition, they still fail to explain just how the Catalyst came to believe in its stupid circular logic.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Is it sad that I really don’t care about the massive spoilers in these posts? Also, I think it would be really impressive to make the motivation WORSE than what we already had. At least we (apparently) see the ACTUAL origins of the Reapers instead of the catalyst BS.

  47. Bertilak de Hautdesert says:

    As I understood it, the female Krogan has to stay in the stasis pod because of the nature of the STG security measures. They cannot release her from the restraints until they clear her through the checkpoints, with the assumption that she (or whom-/whatever is currently going through the secure transfer procedure) will be secured in a new set of restraints before releasing the old set—like putting handcuffs on a prisoner inside a cell and only removing them once said prisoner is secure in another cell, except automated and apparently too time-consuming to override in the present emergency.

    Clearly the writers should have established this better before having her step out of the pod and casually shotgun two mooks as if nothing kept her from doing so the whole time.

    Others have addressed this point above, but I’m hard-pressed to think of another term in American English which would work as well as people as a term covering a non-specific group of sapient beings (i.e. mixed humans, asari, quarians, etc.). At least in my experience in the US Northwest, persons sounds forced in casual speech, so clarity between “plural persons” and “nationality/ethnicity/creed/other distinctive-group-of-like-individuals” would best depend on context.

    It’s not an excuse for ignoring the issue altogether, but the fact stands that humans communicating with humans will necessarily default to human terms and modes of thought even when discussing hypothetical non-humans.

    1. ehlijen says:

      That’s a fair reason. But then why does the player need to desperately protect the pod from incoming fire? Either it’s too hard to get her out of there in which case it should also be too hard to get at her in there with gunfire or she is at risk from gunfire in there, in which case shepard should be able to shoot out the glass and get her out.

      If Mordin’d said something like: “Shepard! Emergency containment designed to sterlise contents in case of breach! Must protect pod until system overriden!” it could have worked.

  48. Ryan says:

    Having recently played Spec Ops, the idea of Shepard just wandering around solving everyone else’s cultures’ deep-seated problem with a liberal application of elbow grease and good ol’ human common sense is just so laughably absurd. Yager should do their own rewrite of the ending where all of your attempts to unite the galaxy ultimately screw everyone over because you, say, didn’t actually understand what a Krannt is, or the sanctity of the Hollows, or the harvest cycle on Rannoch, or something.

    1. ThomasWa says:

      To be fair, Mass Effect is a series of RPGs, not Shooters. RPGs have a different tradition, e.g. they (can) allow for non-violent problem solving. Also, as far as I could tell, a lot of the heavy lifting is done by individuals, who could have that pull (Wrex, Eve etc. It’s not like Shepard personally talks to the Krogan or Turian or whatever population, but rather their leaders/important figures.).

  49. Artur CalDazar says:

    Uh, I thought I made a comment. Did it get blocked/deleted or did my browser eat it before it was posted?

    1. Deadfast says:

      It might be queued up for moderation. According to Shamus the detection is a tad paranoid.

  50. PurePareidolia says:

    That “This is not a pipe” article is a thing of beauty. It sums up my feelings on the series so perfectly with the only difference that I didn’t see the Refuse ending as a victory. It was the DM telling me “Wrong choice – Game over, now go pick one of the real endings”. It was still my favourite of the three, but it was the Ghandi “just sit down and take it because fighting back is wrong” option. And that would be cool if not for the fact it cost the lives of everyone Shepard knew and trusted then the next race USED THE CRUCIBLE ANYWAY. It’s not a noble sacrifice for the good of all free beings, it’s a senseless resignation to defeat, allowing some other, more pliable race to come along next time and do your job for you. It’s literally the “screw you guys I don’t want to be the protagonist anymore option” which means the antagonist still wins.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Don’t even mention the Refuse ‘ending.’ DON’T EVEN MENTION THE REFUSE ENDING.

      Fucking hell, we can’t even shoot the stupid little shit anymore because of that. It it, as you more eloquently put it, Bioware’s version of giving the middle finger to anyone who dares not like their ‘uhrt’.

      1. Mike S. says:

        I discovered it by accident my first time through the EC, and after some thought, I don’t hate it. (At least in the context of an ending that I overall think was the wrong direction to take.)

        Shepard and Liara basically achieve what the Prothean scientists on Ilos attempted: breaking the Cycle for future species, if not for themselves. It’s basically the Frodo Baggins ending on a galactic scale: “I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.” It’s a tragic ending, but not a meaningless or despairing one.

        IIRC it’s been passive-aggressively suggested in Twitter that the next Cycle ended it by choosing one of the tricolor endings. But that’s Twitter, not the game. There’s nothing in what we see that says that they didn’t just get millennia of head start out of Liara’s data caches and use it to build on the various promising options we got right at the end. (Not least strangling the Catalyst while it was sleeping. :-) )

  51. Sumanai says:

    Yes! It’s now so obvious. My face is about a cycle. The cycle of life! When I was born it was about the birth of new life, interim it was, or rather is, about the traverse through life and in the end it will be about the death that awaits all living things. Genius!

    But seriously, I didn’t realise before that the “it’s about cycles” is the same thing as “it’s about life” in that it can be used to describe anything.

  52. Deapool says:

    To be honest I don’t read much Film Critic Hulk so maybe this is a foregone conclusion, but he doesn’t seem particularly serious… He prefaces his argument by describing the non extended ending as having Shepard meet the Catalyst and having a “long, in depth conversation about cycles” with him. It’s odd because the Catalyst’s ten or so lines are neither ABOUT cycles (in the same way this post isn’t about Hulk films) nor would anyone in their right mind consider them long or in depth except maybe Bizarro.

    That said, I will take his argument at face value and it still doesn’t work. At its hear t he is claiming that audiences hated this ending simply because of a) sad, b) gave up logical and reason for thematic lurked and c) gave up choice and consequence for thematic purpose.

    The problem is that, like many people who spoke for or against the ending he got this wrong. And in this case we have proof: Other games have don a, b or c and gotten away with it. Hell some are considered the best in the medium.

    Planescape: Torment has one of the most overwhelmingly depressing endings ever. AND player choice slowly erodes as the game progresses to the point that the difference between good and had ending is more a feeling than a cinematic. And yet, widely considered as one of the best game stories ever.

    Xenogears has a plot that makes less sense the more it gets revealed with a metaphysical, Deus Ex Machina (literally) ending that puts even ME 3 to shame. And yet, STILL considered one or the best in the genre.

    Ignoring whether or not these games are good or not, the point here is that, from a narrative perspective, these games have done the same things Hulk claims people hate about ME and people didn’t hate them! There wasn’t even a smaller scale version of what happened to ME. NO ONE complains about those endings at all.

    So Chris, even though he is looking at it from a purely narrative outlook, fact is he still doesn’t get it.

    To be fair, I don’t think any one has. Shamus almost hit the nail in the head on this post though…

    The problem with the ending isn’t lack of clarity, or narrative dissonance, or land of closure, or common sense, or choice, or any of the metric shit ton of complaints leveled against it. The problem is ALL OF THEM. ON TANDEM. Audiences have faced and even enjoyed several of these problems with amending but never all of them at once. The ending categorically fails on so many levels it hurts to even consider. You’d be hard pressed to find worse… Or even come up with it on your own.

    Btw moviebob had a different problem: He argue costumers can’t complain about products if said product is art. Or at least that they shouldn’t. That’s a whole different fallacy…

  53. StashAugustine says:

    Brief note about the “another military base” comment: Yeah, there’s lots of that, but it does look a whole lot more interesting than ME2 did.

  54. Jaerys says:

    It’s funny that Bioware ignores the logistic problems of Cerberus having such a large and well supplied army. Didn’t they make a game where the source of the bad guys inexhaustible supplies was a major plot point? I think it involved a space forge and cheddar monks. What was it called again? Coat . . . err something? Oh well, I guess it wasn’t very memorable.

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