Mass Effect 3 EP11: Toilets and Fatalism

By Shamus Posted Friday Sep 7, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 262 comments

Link (YouTube)

You know, I spent like five minutes going on about how they negated the decision in Mass Effect 1 where you chose to kill the Rachni Queen or set her free. However, I’m remembering now that the first game had this same problem. There were still sidequests in the game where Rachni showed up. So the game let you make a decision and then ignored it. Here in Mass Effect 3, it really does take into account if you saved her or not. It’s superficial, but its there. So, Mass Effect 3 fares better here than I gave it credit for. In fact, for this decision it fares better than the original.

The Space Quest 2 toilet scene I mentioned looks like this:


Not as crazy as I remembered it. If you’re an old-timer you’ll remember this section as one of the most legendarily obnoxious bits in adventure game history. As you walk down the hall, you encounter an H. R. Giger Alien. If you let it get close to you, it kisses you and walks away. Then, hours later when you’re at the end of the game, a larvae will burst out of your chest and you’ll die. If you didn’t happen to have a save game pre-kiss, you’d have to start the entire game over. No, adventure games didn’t “die”. They were executed for their heinous crimes against fun.

But I digress.

The talk about the Slenderman was a reference to the fact that Chris had been playing the free indie game Slender before we began recording, and as a joke he was pretending that he found the game to be brain-meltingly scary instead of not scary in the slightest. He was very good at pretending this. He pretended this very hard, all evening, without ever breaking character.


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262 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 EP11: Toilets and Fatalism

  1. Joe Cool says:

    Oh, yeah. Slender is totally not scary. So totally not scary, I was just pretending to wet my pants. Y’know, just to play along.

    1. SleepingDragon says:

      Yeah, from what I heard it’s so boring and not-scary at all I’m not even going to bother playing it. Yeah, that’s totally the reason and not the fact that I scare easily and just thinking about the bits I’ve seen from screenshots and, very, very short fragments of gameplay vids, make me want to look over my shoulder in the evenings.

  2. TheJeremy says:

    This title may be analogous of the series as a whole.

    1. swenson says:

      Yes, if you ever want to change the name from “Spoiler Warning”, just change it to that. “Toilets and Fatalism” is pretty accurate.

      1. Dmatix says:

        Best band name ever.

  3. Aanok says:

    Josh and Shamus said it extremely well and I completely agree: ME has never given any kind of power to the player with regards to plotpoints.

    Oh, so you saved the Rachni two games ago? Sucks to be you, they’ve been indoctrinated. What’s that? You killed their queen? No, no, I disagree with that, now they’re back thanks to my awesome narrative powers. And they’ve been indoctrinated.
    Ah, you annihilated the Council at the end of the first game? That’s too bad, they won’t listen to you or even give you the benefit of the doubt until their races have been decimated by the Reapers. You’re telling me you saved them at the cost of hundreds of human lives? You’re a nice guy, but the Council won’t help you anyway because I’m too lazy to come up with an alternate storyline that’s narratively viable and friends to my development budget.

    They only gave us freedom of choice over flavour matters, like which characters are still alive and Shepard’s relationship towards them. If anybody’s dead (like Mordin or Legion), then you just have a double in their place, doing what the authors decided should happen anyway.

    I mean, giving the impression of freedom over actual freedom has always been Bioware’s thing, ever since the golden days. But ME has been advertised as this wonderous place where everything you do matters, you’re given plenty of choice and the game takes that into account, while it’s possibly one of the less successfull attempts at this on Bio’s part ever.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      It keeps being relevant, so I’ll keep posting it.

      Basically, when you go on a case by case basis, only a few of the “major” choices in the game actually had any impact at all. I wish they hadn’t marketed it like your choices matter. That was the worst thing they could have done.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Yeah, I play Mass Effect not to make big choices but to see all the character writing. I think that with some white-jumpsuited exceptions, the characters are among the best I’ve come across.

      2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        It depends at least a little on what you mean by choice.

        From the beginning, I remember that the selling point was not choice, but options. You were always going to be a hero and save the citadel/earth/galaxy, what would matter was the way you did it. This was at the time a pretty good compromise between dense and immersive storytelling and open-world gameplay.

        The game became more linear and railroady over time.

        the problem is therefore even worse: not only do none of your decisions not matter, but because the decisions never meant that much in the first place, much of the supporting narrative doesn’t matter either.

        1. JPH says:

          “not choice, but options”

          That’s like saying “not mad, but angry.”

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Yeah. That is pretty much just semantics.

      3. Naota says:

        I’ve always felt that Bioware’s done themselves a severe disservice by focusing ever more intently on the quantity of choices over the quality of actual choice. You can only stretch these things so thin before even the illusion of choice shatters for the player.

        I feel bad for linking this so many times over the Mass Effect seasons. I don’t mean to shadily advertise my own article every half-dozen episodes, but at the same time I can’t exactly stick 4000 words and images into a Spoiler Warning comment box. Choice in RPG’s is a hell of a nuanced subject and I love talking about it. Stop saying insightful things I agree with!

        Anyway, back to innumerable choices without any actual choice:

        Even if the game isn’t about choice and the marketing is ill-informed, offering thousands of choices is still a central part of the design philosophy. If the game is about the characters (I certainly think so), the character writing and central plotting doesn’t exactly come out of this decision unscathed either. Because of all his/her permutations Shepard is a faceless everyman without any character development which the entire story still revolves around, Garrus’s politics and ideals get railroaded between games, Mordin’s overriding pragmatism (if you took the renegade approach to his mission in ME2) ceases to override, and all previously dead characters aside from Wrex get far-too-convenient stand in replacements who ape them action for action and almost line for line.

        Isn’t a big part of enjoyable characters that they contribute something of their own to the setting? That they develop in a sensible and consistent fashion? That they’re unique and do things that matter? Things important to them, that wouldn’t be nearly as potent if enacted by a random extra?

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      I’m pretty sure this is a result of the popular American culture concept of “freedom” as the ultimate good. We keep getting games that are marketed as giving the player “real choices” (Fable, I’m looking at you) which are otherwise interesting and enjoyable games.

      So, basically, it’s better to tell the truth than lie and hope your customers are dumb enough to swallow it. But that’s a lesson as old as sales, and the counter-argument keeps proving itself. Oh well!

      1. Aanok says:

        I don’t think American culture is in the question. I think freedom is good in games because it makes you feel important, it makes you feel that, regardless of the world completely orbiting around you like it is in some cases, what you do has an actual meaning and can lead to consequences, good or bad. It makes you feel more involved with the game world, that is.

      2. Fleaman says:

        I think it’s a bit of a stretch to blame it on American culture. “Meaningful Choice” as a game mechanic/marketing ploy is pretty much isolated to the RPG genre and games that are deliberately mixing “RPG elements” into another genre, so the concept probably arose from within the genre and not from a more inclusive context. It’s more likely that it’s rooted in the video game RPG’s descent from the tabletop RPG, where meaningful choice is basic.

    3. Loonyyy says:

      From the limited view of the player, the illusion of choice is the same as the reality. I’ll happily take the illusion. We are after all, paying for a very large illusion vis a vis, the graphics themselves. It’s only by comparing notes later we can realise that we’ve been tricked. But really, did we come to the magic show for anything else?

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        It’s not even an illusion of choice, really. When Udina always becomes Councillor, a Rachni Queen will always be around for Grunt’s mission, Cerberus always get’s the proto-Reaper, all regardless of the fact that I made choices directly contrary to them (For me, I made Anderson Councillor and blew up the base) the game is clearly breaking any sort of “illusion of choice.”

        In these cases, they are outright nullifying choices instead of seamlessly weaving them into their immutable narrative. That’s not the same thing. For an illusion of choice to work, they need to at least make it look like they took choices into account. They couldn’t even do that right.

        1. Loonyyy says:

          True, many of these choices aren’t just illusions, they’re straight up lazy. I get that they have to arrive at the same end, but that really shouldn’t work by straight up choosing the opposite of your intension. Still, I’d hesitate to criticise it for the dodgy choices, I’d get on them for the lazy writing involved in those choices.

      2. Naota says:

        The problem with false choice lies in the tricking. We can’t just want to be fooled – we need to actually be fooled (even knowingly) for the magic to work. It doesn’t work if the obvious trick behind the magic is right out there for everyone to see.

        Bioware doesn’t so much spin a narrative that we only notice is linear as an observation in retrospect as it does eagerly offer up choices only to renege on them, completely and obviously, later on.

        This isn’t the stage magician asking us to pick a hand where both hold an identical coin inside a differently-coloured shell, but rather the performer balking when we ask for the left hand, tossing the right shell into it, then throwing the real left shell over his shoulder and straight through the curtain where we’ll never see its contents. It’s still the left hand! That’s fair game, right?

        1. Loonyyy says:

          Yep. I’m all in favour of having irrelevant choices that make me think about my impact on the story, but straight forward ignoring my input’s lazy.

          I figure it’s like in a first person shooter: I get to choose my weapon, and how I go about the level, and I feel there’s some choice there, even though it’s strictly linear, and results in the same conclusion. But if at the end, I get a cutscene where my character breaks the game rules, and uses a weapon he doesn’t have, and seems to have lost his equipment, then it breaks it.
          And then, if it makes me play on with this alternative, taking away my stuff, then I’m very annoyed (Which, I imagine, is one of the key parts of the response to the lazy circumvention of choice: You made a deliberate choice with respect to attaining a certain outcome, and the game happily overlooks it).

          Still, I think the problem is less choice, and more how they disguise the lack of choice. If, for instance, in the Udina case, they simply used a different character, it would stop you from thinking about the aversion of your choice. Or if they put in an impossible mission to foil an assassination plot on the Admiral, giving you the illusion of agency, whilst at least giving you the illusion that your choice was playing out.

  4. Desgardes says:

    Chris is a Whale Biologist.

    1. Joe Cool says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone other than myself and my friend use that term in that manner. Are there others?

    2. anaphysik says:

      My inner taxonomist must correct you to ‘cetologist.’

      However, I haven’t watched the episode yet, so I don’t know what this is referencing. Statistically, I would guess something involving ‘dork.’

      1. anaphysik says:

        EDIT: And now, having watched it, I’m honestly not sure what you’re referring to here. Help?

        1. Lame Duck says:

          It’s a Futurama reference. Whale Biologists calls them like they sees them, just like Chris.

    3. TechDan says:

      I use this reference as often as I can.

      Actually got a friend to start watching Futurama because of it. Showed her the “Three-Hundred Big Boys” and got her hooked. Not sure she appreciated the sheer number of references I made in a week, but it was her fault for being an actual biologist.

  5. StashAugustine says:

    Is Jack still alive? If so, did you miss her mission at the Grissom academy?
    Also, did anyone actually keep Miranda alive, and what did you think of her character development in ME3?

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      My “canon” playthrough was a No Man Left Behind one. Miranda actually did get some character development in the third game. She rebels against Cerberus and the Illusive Man is on a desperate hunt to save her sister. If you resolve her problems, she’ll work on the Crucible as a 25 point War asset.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Well, yeah, I did keep everyone alive. I did kinda like what they did with Miranda’s character in ME3- she sorta apologizes for working with Cerberus and spends the entire game hunting them down.

        1. Corpital says:

          Yes, she does. But to do so she asks for your help but refuses to tell you for what because she can’t trust anyone.
          But I have to say her actions are curiously symmetrical. The very first time you see her(apart from the opening) she kills someone who could have been very useful to capture. At the end of her mission she kills someone who could have been extremely useful to have in captivity.

          Anyway, I somewhat disagree with calling her going renegade cell a character development because, as many other things in these games, it happens between games(even if the seed for it was planted in ME2).

      2. Grudgeal says:

        And for the record, Jack died during the Hold the Line segment of the Spoiler Warning ME2 playthrough (she’s just above Miranda on the ‘dies first’ list).

        Which is sort of a pity after they bothered going through her loyalty mission and all, but nobody seemed to care much.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I could’ve sworn Jack survived. She was in the last scene.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Too bad if she’s dead, Grissom Academy was one of my favorites.

            1. Keeshhound says:

              Go back and watch the video; Jack’s the one talking to Shepard when they call back to the squad after the baby terminator dies.

              1. Gruhunchously says:

                I watched the season 2 finale. There are four coffins at the end: Thane, Jacob, Grunt, and Miranda. Jack is indeed still alive.

                1. newdarkcloud says:

                  It’s a shame we lost such valued crew members… and I guess Miranda and Jacob were alright too.

                  1. StashAugustine says:

                    I’m sad about Thane. He was actually one of my favorites. And we don’t get to see him fight Kai Leng now.

                    1. newdarkcloud says:

                      I guess in this playthrough, it will be for Kirahhe. You son of a bitch!!!

    2. Dragomok says:

      Initially, Shamus thought that Miranda had impenetrable plot armor, but some time later mentioned on Twitter that he actually managed to kill her. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the save that’s used in the current series is the one from the Mass Effect 2 series, so she’s alive.

      So yes, chances are that many people kept her alive; can’t tell how many willingly, though.

      EDIT: Oh, wait, no, she’s dead. Sorry. I watched only about half of that season.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Miranda has impenetrable plot armour until the very end of the Suicide Mission. She can only die in ME2 while holding the line or during the battle with Arnold. (I wrote a sort of guide to doing so in comments elsewhere on this blog).

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          The trick is to take her with you on the final confrontation.

          Which makes me a little sad, as doing that gives her some character development. (She tells the Illusive Man how stupid he is)

          1. anaphysik says:

            That’s the ‘easy’ way, which to me is also the less satisfying way. As I detailed before, it’s perfectly possible to have her die whilst holding the line, if you choose your final team and escort appropriately. The *actual* trick is to have her – and only her – non-loyal (preferably by simply siding with Jack during their ridiculous catfight), so that she’s first on the chopping block.

        2. ehlijen says:

          Her plot armour last exactly to the point in time when the game stops throwing “and who would you like to do X?” lines at you.

          I think EA just wanted to save a little on voice actor time so the writers had to make sure at least one character was guaranteed to stay alive up to a certain point to deliver the role selection lines.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            That’s honestly what I think too. Since Miranda was made into the second-in-command, it made sense to use her as the exposition machine. The only problem is that Miranda’s character sucks.

            1. anaphysik says:

              Yes, I agree, it’s quite obvious that they made her impossible to kill in order to have her deliver lines – but the fact remains that she’s the one delivering the lines, and that only occurred because Bioware clearly thought she was SOO AWRESMOE!

              Frex, a more obvious and neutral choice would be to have EDI handle those kinds of lines.

              1. ehlijen says:

                I disagree. She’s obnoxious and annoying, but she was also the only team member not expressly hired by another teammember, ie next to shepard she is the only one of any rank, and would have been even without being such an ass.

    3. guy says:

      I kept her alive in my femshep run due to her heavy plot armor and my desire for “Everybody lives”. Her character development completely failed to impress me.

    4. Raygereio says:

      Miranda’s development is non-existant in ME3. In ME2 her character revolved around her daddy issues, her sister, “I’m perfect! Oh wait nevermind, Shep you showed me that I’m not.” and her ass. She has the exact same thing going on ME3.
      The only thing different about her is that she’s on the run from Cerberus (and about a 300% increase in ass). She’s also still wearing the same extremely conspicuous, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination catsuit from ME2. What sense does that makes if she’s trying to hide from cerberus? They did remove the Cerberus logo from her outfit’s texture. It’s something, I guess.

      The thing that really bugged me about her in ME3 is that at one point Miranda askes you for Alliance resources. It’s never explained what resources exactly and she never tells you what she’s going to do with it (I’m not really sure, but I think you can’t even ask). In terms of gameplay it’s essentially just giving you the option of killing Miranda. But within the story it’s this really silly and pointless trust exercise that comes out nowhere.

      Also, there’s a scene in which she apologizes for working with Cerberus and being a dick. I don’t really recall why, but I remember that as being one the most akward dialogues in the game. I think there were these odd pauses between sentences that made it look like something out of bad soapopera.

      Random thing: watch her belt:

      1. Dragomok says:

        The belt was a rouge ce… No.
        The belt was never on your sid… Still no.
        The belt is on Slenderman’s payro… Nah.
        The belt is a li-NGHH.

        I bet there’s a joke to be made here, but I just can’t think of one.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The belt teleports,or we die!

        2. SleepingDragon says:

          I never asked for this (belt)!

      2. StashAugustine says:

        I gave her alliance resources on pure metagame.

      3. HBOrrgg says:

        I wish I had a screenshot of the part where the dialog wheel and the speech option “I can’t get destracted. . .” is shown right next to Miranda’s behind in the background.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:


          1. HBOrrgg says:


            1. Irridium says:

              That moment made me laugh as well.

    5. Keredis says:

      I don’t understand why, if Miranda is alive, she doesn’t tell you where the Illusive Man’s base is. She’s been there, inside his office, staring at the same sun. She should at least be able to tell you the star system/orbital distance/whatnot. But nope. You need to wait until a tracking device gets attached to Kai Leng to find where TIM’s been hiding out, since she apparently sees no reason to help you.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Does she ever say she knows? She might have been transported blind.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          The books say that even TIM’s most trusted allies are always flown in blind and anyone who works on the station never leaves.

          1. Indy says:

            Oh, so it’s just like the Shadow Bowser’s base.

      2. Dragomok says:

        Actually, it is stated in Mass Effect‘s Extended Universe(*) that TIMmy’s main base a space station/ship which moves every time somebody visits it.

        (*) I haven’t read any books or comics. I just saw it in the notes describing horrible, horrible errors in that last book. You know, the one that fans were burning – literally lighting the paper it was written on – on YouTube.

        1. Theminimanx says:

          But the star you see in ME2 is the exact same as the one in ME3, so it can’t have moved. And besides, how would you move an entire base without attracting attention?

          1. Raygereio says:

            Apparently every single time someone comes or goes, the CerbyHQ station moves to another system. Which is just one more piece on the humongous pile of stupid wankery that is cerberus. I guess they also drag the sun with them so that Timmy can keep his sweet background for him to pose for and take pictures of himself.

            And the problem is not just moving an entire base without drawing attention. We’ll see later that Cerberus has a spacefleet big enough to keep an entire Alliance fleet occupied floating around it.
            And for that matter; stations are stationary Bioware. When it has a fully functioning sub-light and FTL drive and moves around on a regular basis, it’s a frigging spaceship.

            1. StashAugustine says:

              The Vasari will disagree.

              1. Dragomok says:

                Well, they do have a regular drive, but still no FTL.


                1. StashAugustine says:

                  /pointless nerd commentary, the joke’s already dead
                  IIRC, don’t Star Wars space stations have the capability to move? I seem to recall lots of talk about disagreements of their placement. And when you think about it, then all space stations would either be capable of FTL or constructed in-system.
                  But yeah, what’s up with the star? I always assumed it was a hologram, but I just remembered that it does appear in the shot of the Cerberus base in the assault.

                  1. LunaticFringe says:

                    I’d assume that the original reason for the Illusive Man constantly staring at the star was foreshadowing for the original ‘dark energy’ ending to the series, but was scrapped along with Tali’s comments on her mission about the sun aging too quickly.

          2. Kian says:

            I’ll agree that the base moving is stupid (no one notices a friggin huge space station making jumps through the relay network? Sure, that’s subtle). However, I have to speak out against the whole “the star in the background is always the same” bit.

            There’s no reason to believe the star is the same. There are billions of stars in the galaxy. If he wants to move around, he can probably find a star that matches his mood, like how depending on whether you are paragon or renegade he’ll choose a blue or red star.

  6. Dragomok says:

    Despite all the praise, I’m really not going to try Slender.
    When I played Which, at first I was restarting it repeatedly several times (because it did not detect left-handed mouse mode), then played it three times up to the first room in both Hi- and Low-Res version (couldn’t find the key), was trying to make fun out of the woman by addressing her ‘my faithful companion’ whenever she was following me, was offended by the naivette of the moral it was trying to make and thought both endings were definitely way over the top (with barely two minutes long stabbings)

    …yet it still managed to creep me out for several days.
    Or rather nights.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Slender honestly isn’t that bad. It’s pretty scary, but it won’t haunt you or anything.

      My friends and I played through it.

      1. Dragomok says:

        Better safe than sorry, better safe than sorry, better safe than piggy bank, better safe than sorry…


        I will definitely give it a go. When the sun is up. And there’s someone in the room. And when I’ll finish scribbling up pentagrams on the border of my monitor.

        1. Pteroid says:

          Don’t wanna be scared? Three words ‘Twenty Dollas Mode’

      2. Phantos says:

        I have been scared watching people play(and talk over) games and mods that were purportedly “scary”. That was not scary. That doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as scary. That was the video game equivalent of “Boo!”. Not like a ghost, but like a rapper referring to his girlfriend.

        Internet, I am disappoint.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          You really need to play it for yourself before you say that. I’m serious. I didn’t get the tension of it until I played. It’s truly minimalist horror.

          Also, it’s free and works on PC and Mac. You’ve no excuse not to play it.

      3. lurkey says:

        I’m getting curious. How does it compare in scariness with “Amnesia”?

        1. Blargh says:

          Ehh, less scary than Amnesia, but more paranoia-inducing. If you’ve played Amnesia, the quickest way to describe it is “Amnesia on a minuscule budget”. Less scary because slender’s monster doesn’t move when you’re looking, so there’s less of that “ohgodi’mhidingpleasegopastohgodohgodohgod” feeling of terror, but there’s a good deal more tension because slender’s monster can show up anywhere, at any time, so you’re always worried about coming around a corner and running straight into it.

          1. Will says:

            He’s called Slenderman.

            1. Blargh says:

              Yeah, I know. I just didn’t call it slenderman because, well, I’m not sure why.

  7. newdarkcloud says:

    The transformation is complete. Chris is now arguing in favor of the dumbest possible choice you could make here, which means he’s a full-fledged member of Spoiler Warning. They have corrupted him.

    On a side note, I recall the Queen looking “Husk-ie” when I played through on a file where I saved her. Of course, my memory might be off.

    1. meyerkev says:

      So at some point, we should decide whether we want to see all the endings/stupid kid dialogue(even if we don’t take them), or if we want to have a totally screwed up playthrough (which means we’re stuck with bad destroy ending (or refuse)).

      Because if it’s the latter, this is totally the best thing to do. If it’s the former, at some point, they need to do a scanning episode (or three) and maybe a couple of those stupid cerberus missions, because the cutoff is 2800 (or 5600 with no multiplayer) for synthesis.

      1. Littlefinger says:

        Or use a savegame editor to give yourself 100000 warscore. I did it because I didn’t want to bother with the multiplayer.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I know the cast hates using mods, but that’s seriously the way to go. An episode of scanning only makes sense if they want to do probing questions again. Otherwise just go with the flow.

          1. zob says:

            I think they already used a save editor for this one.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              Yeah, because the default save for ME2 sucked just as it does for ME3.

          2. Alexander The 1st says:

            Or an episode of multiplayer with questions being answered.

            Much, much more interesting.

    2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Yeah, did they redesign the queen? We don’t really get a good look at her in the first game, but this is not at all what I envisioned crumped up in that chamber.

      1. drkeiscool says:

        Yeah, they did.

        Compare this to this.

        She seems to grown more eyes in ME3.

        1. Ateius says:

          How have they managed to make it look worse two games later? I’m genuinely impressed with their commitment to mediocrity.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I would assume that the Reapers did something to the queen, which would explain her disfigurement.

            1. drkeiscool says:

              Normally, I wouldn’t be upset about a character redesign, but what is up with her body? It looks like she’s been assimilated by the Zerg.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Because Yuri and Soap and McTavish dude wanted to blow things up.

                1. drkeiscool says:

                  Oh, of course! How could I have missed that?

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    Thanks to Chris, I now have something do say whenever the designers to something that seems contrived.

        2. Keredis says:

          Of course! That’s how you can tell it was the Reapers at work! Like how the human-baby-terminator-reaper randomly had an extra eye! It’s a deliberate, deep, ARTISTIC decision, and not because they couldn’t be bothered to look at clips from the first game and count.

        3. el_b says:

          its not the real one its an artificial rachni, they killed the real one…if they didnt it wold appear here instead.

          1. drkeiscool says:

            The artificial rachni looks exactly the same as the real one.

            1. el_b says:

              wow thats pretty lazy, its not like they didnt already have a texture.

  8. l3f4y says:

    Slender Man should generally be two separate words when referring to him (or it). Usually the only time “Slenderman” is used is to save two key presses when referring to him in a non-serious context, or when (for whatever reason) the author of a Slenderblog chooses to refer to him that way. This I know not by being a pretentious jerk who only just discovered the Slender game, but by being a pretentious jerk involved in the greater mythos. *coughi’msosorrycough*

    Also, I’ve only recently noticed that the dice represent the number of comments. This blew my mind.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Technically it’s the number of unique threads, he changed it … relatively recently. At least I’m pretty sure it used to be on every comment.

      1. Dragomok says:

        No, it has been exactly like that for several last years.

        1. Jarenth says:

          The notion of ‘threads’ has been… I feel it’s been semi-recent, but it’s probably a few years old by now.

  9. Jakale says:

    It occurs to me that Mass Effect treats the Rachni like the new Dr. Who treats the Daleks. “Whole race that caused tons of problems and were eventually all killed in a massive war, except they weren’t ALL killed, it turns out, and this important episode event is the last time, except actually no, because it turns out..ect.”

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Eh, the Daleks have been mysteriously coming back from the dead since the series began. They were supposed to be “utterly destroyed” in the very first episode they appeared in, but of course, no one realized how popular they would become at that point…

    2. Lame Duck says:

      I think there’s also a lot of parallels to be made between the Reapers and the Daleks. Everyone talks about them both as if they were these terrifying, supremely dangerous threats to all life but in both cases the writers aren’t skilled enough to handle it properly so in practice they come across as kind of sucking and failing a lot. Plus, they’ve both got the chocolatey robot exterior with a creamy organic centre thing going on.

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        The Daleks have to fail, unless the timeline dictates otherwise. The problem is that they appear far too often these days, just so that they can get blown up over and over again, to the point where it’s hard to take them seriously. They need a nice long break before they can make their triumphant appearance once again.

        1. Lame Duck says:

          I’ll contend that even if they were to leave the Daleks unused for 10 years, they would still suck if their episodes were written the way they are currently. The problem isn’t that their big plans are ultimately foiled, it’s that they constantly fail at the most basic tasks that they’re supposed to be awesome at. In the latest episode a Dalek shoots at Rory from about two feet away and fucking misses! And their corpse-snatching security is beaten once by a fire extinguisher and then by being kicked. And to top it all off, they apparantly allow a bunch of insane Daleks enough access to their network to delete all information about their worst enemy from across their entire species.

          1. Gruhunchously says:

            Aye, the Dalek’s capability of hitting things is greatly variable. they always seem to have difficulty hitting major characters. And minor characters. Hell, they have trouble hitting each other, big bulbous targets sitting ten paces away. Also, they have this unfortunate tendency to self destruct, get immobilized, and get their eye pieces knocked off. The more frequently they appear, the more the contrivances build up. They need a break, probably for a few years.

            1. MikhailBorg says:

              Steven Moffat, current showrunner, happens to agree with the “they really aren’t that terrifying” criticisms. The most recent episode was an attempt to try something different by making them less terrifying, more creepy.

              Ironically, the more Daleks you have, the less scary they seem to be. Scariest appearance in the new series, for my money, is the single example in the 9th Doctor episode simply titled “Dalek”.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                Wasn’t that the first Dalek episode that showed in the U.S? Where there was that one Dalek the collector had, and it activated and they were like STAIRS WILL DEFEAT HIM nope he floats…

                1. Ronixis says:

                  It’s the first Dalek episode of the new series, but parts of the old were shown on PBS in the US. I believe the episode was set in the US, though.

                2. MikhailBorg says:

                  That’s the one. A single mutant in a robot shell, yet nothing can stop him as he slowly comes for you: chains, stairs, guns, nothing. Kills a platoon of soldiers with a single shot. Very well-handled I thought.

                  1. Jarenth says:

                    Not to mention it has some great Nine-character building as well.

                    1. Gruhunchously says:

                      That was a fantastic episode to be sure. Probably one of the best Dalek stories of the series, old or new. And thinking about it makes me wonder if a problem with the newer stories is that the Daleks aren’t allowed to go on killer rampages as often. They are so much more effective when they go to town on some hapless group of soldiers and/or resistance fighters, it helps remind the audience why they are so dangerous in the first place. But since the Tenth Doctors first season, all they seem able to do is pick off a few grunts and minor characters. Anyone can do that!

  10. StashAugustine says:

    Also, did they get the krogan poem? That’s pretty much the best part of the game.

  11. Cahoun says:

    Adventure games aren’t dead. They live a very healthy life in small studios and indie devs. The big titles that went on forever died because they failed to evolve and adapt and were just persisting due to sales figures. Not unlike potential current market trends. Eventually people WILL get tired of the same thing, especially when you ratchet up the artificial difficulty.

    1. Dragomok says:

      They live a very healthy life in small studios and indie devs.

      As well as myriads of Flash developers and Telltale Games.

      On a side note: is it only my impression, or is the mayority of these small commercial adventure games studios European nowadays? Nearly all of adventure games, which’s reviews I read in my country’s biggest gaming magazine, were either German or Spanish, and I the only two American adventure games I ever played were The Curse of the Monkey Island (old) and Sam & Max: Seasone One (by Telltale).

      1. Sumanai says:

        I would like to mention that the “90% crud” rule applies here rather strongly. They rarely try to fix the old problems like pixel hunting and old revelations like the fact that action sequences don’t fit into point-and-click adventure games. I’m starting to have trepidations every time I move a cursor on a link leading to an online adventure game.

        Not that the problems are limited to online games at all.

  12. Corpital says:

    Yes in the default playthrough Miranda is alive. While Wrex is dead. And Legion’s dead. And Udina is…well ok, Udina is a counselor anyway now.

    So…this mission annoyed me to no end. The forced elevator to the cave entrance for me, but removing the heavy weapons from the game and then taunting me with that lousy flamethrower? Curse you, game, I want my nuclear explosion device back!

    While you could reason the shield generators were installed in the cave after the first krogan attack, why the hell did the hyper intelligent machine gods that can raise their impenetrable walls with a mere thought install fragile off-buttons on the outside of said wall?

    Also crawling through a little dark hole in the wall of the venomous killerbug infested cave because you are 110% sure behind it is the ultimate evil of this week? Great thinking there. What would the krogans have done if you hadn’t come along? I mean exept dying because they were not able to the reaper node on your side of…oh…ooooh now I get it.

    Hated the later fighting here because what happened to Josh i.e. getting flanked by a husk while regenerating, followed by QTE cutscene, followed by getting shelled to death, tended to happen to me much more often than only 2times.

    But the biggest problem with this mission was the question why the hell the Reapers even bothered to cobble a rachni queen together. They were utterly beaten by the krogans so why not just make more krogan huskies? Would they have to capture more of them? No! That jerk Saren was able to build a krogan cloning facility, so was Okeer when he created Grunt.
    Heck, if they wanted their rachni so bad then why not directly clone rachni troops instead of a queen?

    To counterbalance all of the above: I really really liked the recording of the krogan poet from ME2, Illium.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I take it the use of the Cain to kill a Reaper at the endgame made you happy.

      Of course, like Smudboy says, why wouldn’t they just make a ton of Cains?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Because you can only cain when the game says you cain.

        1. Corpital says:

          To kill the Tresher Maw on Tuchanka AND the final reaper, yes. Showing that stupid thing what I think about it’s superiority was satisfying.

          Maybe that’s why the Reapers bombed our nuclear rockets as a priority target.

        2. Indy says:

          We Cain or we die!

        3. some random dood says:

          @Daemian Lucifer
          Ouch, groan – good one

  13. IFS says:

    My main problem with the ravagers in ME3 is that, like josh said they look nothing like the rachni, worse they don’t even manage to be as scary looking as the rachni. The Rachni were monstrous alien bugs that shot poison and a few larger ones used biotics (those ones scared the crap out of me, they were on a sidequest) and they caught me completely off guard. The rvagers on the other hand look like big derpy bugs that shoot easil avoidable rockets and spawn an enemy that is a nuisance to non-vanguards and a free shield recharge to vanguards.

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Yes. All of this. These aren’t rachni, these are meatbags.

      A real rachni would have been awesome! Especially with their pentient for coming out of vents.

    2. Littlefinger says:

      It’s interesting to see how bioware used bloat to try and make a character more intimidating. In Dragon Age, they made the darkspawn queen freaky by making a dwarf female incredibly bloated and grotesque, and here again they add sacs underneath the rachny model.

      They could have gone the other way, make them look more like xenomorphs from Alien – sleek, lots of spikes and claws etc. But they didn’t, and the rachni turns into a pathetic enemy as a result. Sad.

      1. Ronixis says:

        I thought that the Broodmother was rather horrific, if not intimidating. My Warden died in that fight because I kept trying to kill the boss without looking at it (I switched to controlling Wynne after that).

        1. Lame Duck says:

          I think a lot of what makes the Broodmother horrific was the build up though. That was easily my favourite sequence of the entire game and then the fight itself was actually a bit of a pain in the ass.

        2. IFS says:

          Oh yes the Broodmothers in DA are some of the creepiest monsters in the series, that first one especially because of the excellent build up to it. But the broodmothers are bloated monstrosities for a reason, it makes sense for them to be bloated monstrosities and their deformed appearance is even more unsettling knowing what they used to be.

          The ravagers on the other hand are bloated for almost no reason, lack enough similar features to really be identified as zombie rachni (no tentacle arms, the mouth and head are too different) and the bloating doesn’t make them horrifically twisted abominations of their former existant but rather unimpressive blobs with guns strapped to their sides.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Those easily avoidable rockets HURT though. Individual ravagers are easy, but if they start pairing up with other guys and flanking and things, … well, it’s bad.

        3. Zukhramm says:

          I can’t even remember meeting it. It must have been in the Deep Roads.

          1. guy says:

            Did you quit partway through the Deep Roads? Because while it does bleed into a massive blob of fighting darkspawn, the Broodmother people remember. Primarily in their nightmares.


            1. Zukhramm says:

              No, I just cannot recall anything that happened there. My mind is blank.

    3. HBOrrgg says:

      They are a pretty major pain to fight as soldier. Especially in this section when they randomly decide to spawn one right behind you (suffice to say I died a lot here).

      1. Tohron says:

        You can take Reave as a bonus power – that alleviates some of the pain of fighting Armored foes as a soldier. Overall, between Concussive shot to drop the barrier, then Reave + Incinerate and Warp from EDI and Liara, they become fairly manageable. Maybe that’s why I stuck with that team from the moment they were both available.

      2. Khizan says:

        This depends entirely on your weapon choice, really.

        If you’re packing a solid heavy pistol(Carnifex, Paladin) with AP or incendiary ammo, they’re maybe 1-2 clips. They’re also dead easy targets who clearly telegraph their attacks to let you coverdodge.

    4. guy says:

      I found Ravagers to be a huge problem on my Vanguard run. For one thing, the swarmers are contact explosives, so charging in their general vicinity got me covered in acid. And the Ravagers themselves were incredibly sturdy. The simple fact that they took a whole ton of damage, combined with hitting pretty hard, made them probably my leading cause of death aside from Banshees.

  14. Steve Online says:

    Ah, the flamethrower.

    The constant, imminent Main Character flambé in the cutscenes is a nice touch.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      What is it with this game and weapons firing off in the cutscenes?Check out how vega loves shooting the scenery here.

      1. Sumanai says:

        I’m getting a definite “throw more people at the problem so they’ll be done faster” -vibe.

      2. Deadfast says:

        The flamethrower isn’t firing, it’s just “idling”. Seems to be a part of the every weapon is an assault rifle in cutscene that forces you to holster a weapon that was never meant (and programmed) to be holstered in the first place. I mean who could have predicted you’ll get to the end with a weapon so rare you trip over it every three feet.

        1. ehlijen says:

          The flamethrower was available and could be holstered in ME2 (with the Zaeed DLC). I don’t recall setting myself on fire all the time with that thing on my back then.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Maybe it has something to do with the higher resolution models, though I honestly have no idea why they wouldn’t just turn off the effect.

      3. Ateius says:

        Vega, trigger control! Trigger contrAAAH MY FOOT!

        You are so court-martialed.

        1. StashAugustine says:

          Poor trigger control always bothers me in games and movies. Props to MGS and Spec Ops for showing it correctly.

  15. guy says:

    3:53: I think there was a door on the other side of the cargo container.

    4:50: Not even explosions and three season’s time can stop the trolling.

    11:20: They look reasonably like Rachni Husks, which is what they are. Certainly the swarmers are carrying on the fine tradition of tiny exploding things from the first game.

    Yeah, the Rachni Queen bit is pretty freaking lazy. The Dead/Alive status of people actually had considerable, if largely cosmetic, effects on how things went, but here it’s almost meaningless.

  16. Rasha says:

    Well looks like this story bugged out. Also Josh you are going to get so much flaming for that reference.

    1. Moewicus says:

      I, for one, am really fired up about it.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Yeah. I was looking forward to this episode, but I can’t escape the feeling that I got burned.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Cool it guys,we dont want to start a flame war here.

          1. Gruhunchously says:

            Will you all just stop it with these infernal puns already!

            1. Moewicus says:

              But it’s just starting to heat up!

            2. Nicholas says:

              Yeah, we wouldn’t want any Fallout from our conversation. That’d be way too heavy

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                That pun is so good it incinerates all others.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  Oh, you people and your puns. Give it a break already: Josh was simply enjoying himself as he gleefully ignited all sorts of arthropodal creatures and paraphenalia.

                  You know, just being a FIRE BUG.

                2. ehlijen says:

                  Not cool, man, not cool…

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    You’re right. I should know the chilling effect of my own puns. I don’t want to anger anybody.

                    1. anaphysik says:

                      And if someone gets annoyed anyway, it’s probably best just to give them the cold shoulder.

                    2. newdarkcloud says:

                      That’s a little harsh. You don’t need to give them such a stone cold reception.

                    3. anaphysik says:

                      What, would you rather I take the always-friendly “Ice to meet you” approach? Or just chill out a bit?

                    4. newdarkcloud says:

                      Just chill out a bit. Hell will freeze over before anybody finds these puns to be too offensive.

              2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Puns on topic are bad enough,but tangential ones?This haas to stop before they mutate into superpuns.Not even fire can wake you from such a biologically shocking nightmare.So lets free ourselves from them now,man.

                1. Moewicus says:

                  All these puns got really toasty! To whom should I Maillard my check? I just want to let everyone know I had a reaction.

                2. Rasha says:

                  But you see we didn’t start the fire. It’s always been burning since the worlds been turning.

  17. Astor says:

    Did you guys play Walking Dead Ep. 3? I thought that game was doing choice pretty well (even had hopes for branching in Ep.4 or 5) but after Ep. 3 it’s looking like your choices don’t really matter much. I guess that still it’s less jarring because many of the choices are made in much more subtle ways in Walking Dead than in ME.

    One of the best examples of these “subtle” ways to make meaningful choices that comes to mind is how you can turn Alistair more towards cynicism/realism or reinforce his idealism/innocence in DragonAge.

    1. Spencer Petersen says:

      I feel the Walking Dead makes the choices more important by keeping the focus on both long and short term effects via it’s effect on other survivors as well as paying off earlier choices fairly often while you still make new ones. Mass Effect chooses to load all your choices on the vague promise of them making a difference two games down the road and then just renders them all down to an unimportant number that feeds into the ending-tron-3000. While I’m sure the Walking Dead will feature alternate endings, I almost feel the story can end the same way and still make the choices matter in a meaningful way.

      A good choice based game should make the choices primarily affect the journey, not the destination.

      I guess it’s just the way the games handle their tone. Walking Dead hammers you with a lack of resources and general death-around-the-corner tension that makes a sad ending fitting, whereas Mass Effect keeps making up pseudo-science to solve problems as they arise and only creates tension by hammering home the stupidity of everyone around you, which makes a sad ending feel like the game is punishing you for their stupidity.

      Look forward to Walking Dead Spoiler Warning, You could probably hammer out an episode in 2 weeks, and the episodes are short enough that Josh or Shamus could actually do some of the optional stuff and still fill the time with commentary.

  18. IFS says:

    Shamus I think the sidequests where rachni appeared in the first game were all explained as places where samples of the rachni soldiers were sent, I remember one sidequest was a cerberus base that had some in containment and the other was a planet where they had gotten loose and alliance troops were struggling to hold them off. Both sidequest could be discovered long before you went to Noveria, so they could also act as foreshadowing of what you would find there.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      So they were all rouge cells of the rachni?

      1. anaphysik says:


        Also, you could hear the rachni theme on particular spots on multiple planets throughout the galaxy, even without them actually visibly appearing there. It was rather unsettling.

        I believe one of the places was on the Moon….

      2. ehlijen says:

        Exactly, actually. The queen promised not to attack people and assuming she was telling the truth (confirmed in ME2 and 3), those were clearly not rachni under her control. Whoever recreated her in that lab had already recreated more rachni that also weren’t under the queens control and who says they hadn’t kept a few spares elsewhere?

        It wasn’t a very fitting side mission, but ‘defend a wall in on a desert planet against bugs’ was just too cool a fight for bioware to not homage…

        1. Mike S. says:

          All the rachni encountered off Noveria in the first game were Cerberus’s, exported or cloned from the batch at Peak 15 before Shepard got there.

          (Eventually you track them back to a space station where the commanding officer’s notes complain that the mistake was treating the rachni as animals rather than as POWs. Fortunately, Cerberus would never make that sort of mistake ever again.)

          Given that TIM is indoctrinated in ME3, Cerberus is the obvious alternate source of rachni if you killed the queen. (Sure, you blew up the project, but if Cerberus had them on four planets they could have had them on five.)

          One way they could have made the ME1 decision still have some impact without changing the combat balance in 3 would be to still have cloned ravagers, but not have a queen at the end of this mission– and have that potentially make the difference between Grunt surviving and not.

  19. HBOrrgg says:

    The rachni breeder is one of the places where the default game seems to screw you over for not importing a save. It seems like the rational choice would have been to make it default to saving the queen and give new players the option to decide for themselves whether their Shepard is the kind who would kill a creepy bug alien or try to negotiate with it. As it is the decision only has one right answer with the other one being a massive FU.

    Basically if you try to save the Breeder if you didn’t save the queen in the first game then you will not only lose some Krogan but it will end up betraying you and kill off a bunch of the engineers working on the crucible. Even if you never actually played the first game and have no idea what decision you would have made.

    EDIT: And apparently they missed this fact? Am I really the only one who obsessively went over the wiki’s list of every war asset in the game?
    Look, I may have been saddled with crummiest (default) choice-selections possible and the total war assets may have turned out to be completely meaningless in the end, but watching as my army slowly grew and the different troops got updated was hands down one of the funnest parts of this game.

    1. rrgg says:
      Or this since I apparently put in the link wrong.

      Really, no one else thought that was fun? Well, bah! I don’t need you guys anyway. . .

  20. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    On fatalism -there is an interesting game to play where you see that your choices don’t matter to the end-game. I think Mordin’s and EDI’s development -regardless of how you prompt them -could make for a very interesting discussion. EDI always ends up in the same place regardless of whether you give her the Renegade or Paragon responses.

    And if the game had gone there, it could have been interesting.

    But that isn’t this game. Despite all the railroading, the game keeps talking about breaking cycles and how choice really matters and then at the end, it isn’t a reveal that this has all been wrong.

    No, it’s a GM Fiat followed by Rocks Fall Everybody Dies.

    1. LunaticFringe says:

      I think Josh highlighted it pretty well…a fatalistic narrative viewpoint is the product of Bioware’s railroaded plot that largely fails to account for player choice, not a deliberate concept on the part of the developers. Marketing and interviews for Mass Effect has always enforced this notion that ‘your choices matter’.

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Whats really bad about these (non)choices is that in the same game we have sequences where your previous choices do matter,a lot.Wrex and his brother are really different and change the outcomes of the tuchanka mission quite a bit.Geth/quarian conflict hinges greatly on what you did in previous games.And then,theres this,and the even stupider collector base.So once again,we are shown that these people can do something meaningful from your choices in previous games,they just dont do it for some reason.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      The collector base was something that really pissed me off. Honestly, that was stupid. Really stupid. I saw the damn thing blow up. Why does it exist and why would I send it to the alliance as a War Asset when I thought it was an abomination that needed to be destroyed? It’s too much condensed stupid.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        It not only exploded,it exploded in the middle of the universe,surrounded by black holes,from which it was probably shielded by something inside the base.So it was not only destroyed,it was wiped out of existence.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Yet TIM still has the resources to literally do the impossible and go through the Omega 4 Relay without a Reaper IFF and recover something that literally does not exist anymore.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Youd think that that dead krogan is talking to you via telepathy of some sort,but nope,its pheromones and quantum entanglement!Isnt technobabble fun?

    1. Jarenth says:

      I thought those dead krogan were talking using their vocal cords.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait…With miranda dead,does that mean no emergency induction port?

    1. HBOrrgg says:

      Oh no. . .

    2. Majere says:

      Suddenly Miranda becomes much harder to hate.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Not really. Seeing as the best way to get the induction port is to ignore her pleas for help and then see her get killed anyway, letting her life for a few more cutscenes is a small price to pay.

        1. SleepingDragon says:

          I don’t know if this is a persistent glitch but I got the emergency port scene despite the fact I was doing 100% paragon and Miranda lived through the whole thing.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Same. I also got that scene when she was alive and working on the Crucible.

          2. ehlijen says:

            I don’t think it’s a glitch. Tali mostly drinks because she both identifies with Miranda’s daddy issues and envies her the chance to have told him off for his stupid plans.

            1. SleepingDragon says:

              Really? I guess Tali’s dialogue is somewhat ambiguous as to what exactly happened. Still, it felt somewhat confusing to the point I assumed it was a glitch and I wasn’t supposed to get that scene. I also seem to remember the internet telling me something to similar effect.

              On the other hand, considering how paranoid developers are with “the player may never see this, we must make it mandatory” these days I could see them trying to push it anyway with the use of the aforementioned ambiguity. Not that it isn’t a funny scene.

            2. newdarkcloud says:

              When you think about it, a lot of the crew members have daddy issues or variations of them.

              Liara (in a sense)
              Ashley (if I recall correctly)
              Thane (variation: he’s the dad, his son has daddy issues)

              Is there something subconcious on Bioware’s part.

              1. IFS says:

                Ashley’s issues are less with her dad and more how she gets treated as a result of her family (mostly her grandfather who lost at shanxi in the first contact war, if I’m remembering correctly).
                For everyone else, yeah daddy issues are an easy flaw to give a character that keeps them relatable.

                1. StashAugustine says:

                  I think EDI lampshades this, you ask her if she has any lingering issues with her creator and she just stares blankly and says no.

              2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Also thane is the daddy being an issue.And technically legion has some daddy issues.

  24. Ronixis says:

    Incidentally, “larvae” is the plural form. You should say “a larva” or “larvae” (I haven’t played it, so I don’t know if it’s plural.

  25. Raygereio says:

    Your choices being meaningless in Mass Effect is something that really annoys me.
    I can understand the why: tracking and accounting for all of these variables and providing content for all different combination of choices would be an enormous undertaking. I recall a presentation from Chris Avellone in which he talked about the development of Alpha Protocol (A game which does a lot to give you the idea that your choices have an effect. You can disagree wether or not it does so succesfully, but unlike Bioware, Obsidian at least tried) and you really got the sene from what he was saying that this was damned hard to do. And AP is just one game.
    But I think it would be something feasible if the entire trilogy was outlined and planned from the beginning. Something which it obviously wasn’t, even though Bioware said from the very beginning that it was.

    But what gets to me is that Bioware told us out choices would have meaning to them. Bioware being full of it is something that always irritated me about them. Yeah yeah, we get that that you think you’re super awesome writers. Guess what; you have your occasional good moments, but you’re no Shakespear. So stop trying to pretend that you are.
    But my preference of humility over hubris aside, I draw the line when I’m being lied to. Here’s an example:
    Casey Hudson:

    It’s not so much that there is a fixed set of alternative endings, but all of your choices really determine how things end up in the universe. So, how you approach the end-game, for every player, you’re going to have a different set of results in terms of who is alive and who is dead, and which civilisations survived and which ones were wiped out.There is a huge set of consequences that start stacking up as you approach the end-game. And even in terms of the ending itself, it continues to break down to some very large decisions. So it’s not like a classic game ending where everything is linear and you make a choice between a few things – it really does layer in many, many different choices, up to the final moments, where it’s going to be different for everyone who plays it.
    Date of publication: 17th of February, 2012

    That is a quote from someone who graduated from the Molyneux school of PR. It's one thing to hype up your game, but this goes beyond using hyperboles and stuff. He was describing a ME3 that looks nothing like the ME3 that I played and at that point was already finished.

    This isn't something unique to Bioware though: a lot studios promise the sun, moon and stars and deliver none of it. And yet they are never called out about this by gaming journalism. Just try imagining this (or buggy releases, for that matter) happening in something like the car industry. The company would be publically crucified and rightfully so in my opinion.

    1. acronix says:

      I like how “the ending itself continues to break down to some very large decisions” actually meant “You get to choose the color of the explosions!”.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      Interviewer: [Regarding the numerous possible endings of Mass Effect 2] “Is that same type of complexity built into the ending of Mass Effect 3?”

      Casey Hudson: “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.”

      Yeah. That’s far from the only statement he made that pisses me off in hindsight.

      1. Ateius says:

        “[Regarding the numerous possible endings of Mass Effect 2] “Is that same type of complexity built into the ending of Mass Effect 3?” “

        What’s all this? ME2 had two endings. “And also Jack died” does not qualify as an entirely different ending.

        Mind you, it’s still a step up from what ME3 delivered, so …

    3. anaphysik says:

      Oh yeah, once again I throw my vote in for a Spoiler Warning season of Alpha Protocol. Loved that game. Would be hilarious to see Josh muck it up in appropriate Reginald-Cuftbert-style.

      I know there’s been mention before of ‘the timed conversations are a killer for us’ but seeing as how Josh nowadays rarely takes input from the others, instead choosing the opposite option mere moments before someone speaks up with a favourite… well, I think it’s less of an issue of gameplay being dysfunctional with the cast’s wishes and more an issue of gameplay being dysfunctional with the cast’s hilarious trolling XD

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Alpha Protocol is a brilliant game that’s broken in a lot of ways and allows the player to be a massive dick. So yeah, perfect for SW right there.

        EDIT: When comparing it to Mass Effect, remember ME is five times as long, had three writing teams and three times the development time.

        1. Keeshhound says:

          I love Alpha Protocol, but I also have to admit that the game is buggy as all hell, and with Josh’s penchant for finding every single bug there is to encounter in a game…

          1. StashAugustine says:

            …would just make it funnier!

          2. guy says:

            He did do New Vegas.

        2. Deapool says:

          Agreed. Good blend of “great ideas” and “horrible mistakes”

          WAY more meaningful choices than ME though…

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            And the game does visibly change depending on your actions. I played the game five or so times and while you are going through the same levels, character interactions, perks, enemies, and more all changed dramatically.

    4. Aldowyn says:

      Technically most of that is true, except for the “until the final moments” part. You do get to decide which civilizations survive and which fall, who is alive and who is dead, etc. etc.

      So yeah, each player’s situation is probably fairly different, but as to it affecting the ENDING? Not so much.

    5. SleepingDragon says:

      I kinda avoided most of the press releases relating to ME3 after a point due to spoilers and such but this coming as late as 17th of February?! I could understand this sometime early in the development, or when talking about 3 in relation to 2, or talking in general about plans for the trilogy after the first game. But 3 weeks before the release date? I’m not sure if it’s even physically possible to do any work on the game at this point that wouldn’t go into “day 1 patch” much less the major alterations like the ones required for the game to fit the description. “Technically true” is the best I can say about some of these statements and a number of them fall into “blatant lies” category for me…

  26. Moewicus says:

    You know what I would do if I were in charge of designing Reaper bases? I would install a bunch of pop-up walls, but I would make it so that when the delicate power node was destroyed, the walls would just stay in place. Galaxy = conquered.

    1. Jeff says:

      I like how it takes power to keep something in place, but without power something moves. Imagine building starships on that principle, you wouldn’t need fuel! Just constantly give it no power.

      1. Indy says:

        Divert power to shields = Jump to hyperspace.

  27. Deapool says:

    Sentinel is WAY better class than Vanguard btw… Biotic Explosion all d

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      But does Sentinel have a move that makes them say “HHHHHHHHUUUUUUUURRRRRRAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

      No, didn’t think so. How about:

      1. LunaticFringe says:

        Meanwhile the Engineer is behind a chest-high wall complaining about ‘those jocks and their macho bullshit grunting’.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Meanwhile meanwhile the Infiltrator is quietly scratching marks into his rifle for every “mail slot” he’s made, all the while mumbling to himself, “I’m not a crazed gunman, dad, I’m an assassin.”

          Wait what game were we talking about?

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Guild Wars, wasn’t it?

  28. Axion says:

    On the subject of subverting the Rachni, didn’t the reapers also turn them against the protheans 50000 years ago? Thats one hell of a track record…

  29. Lame Duck says:

    Falling is not permitted until it’s mandatory.

    1. ehlijen says:

      We don’t fall, or we die!

  30. anaphysik says:

    @Campster: FWIW, I think Josh is playing vanguard pretty inefficiently – he’s blasting off Nova mindlessly and being sloppy with his Charges, and taking way more damage because of that. And honestly, a lot of times it’s safer to use your shotgun/pistol (whichever you carry) instead. But yeah, vanguard can be pretty meh (in the boring sense) gameplay-wise. I think it’s rather telling that vanguard is a class that I consciously avoid whenever I play ME3’s multiplayer, despite playing it throughout the main games.

    I mostly prefer Engineers (human, geth, male quarian), Infiltrators (salarian, geth), and Soldiers (batarian). Mostly.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I just keep in mind that Josh is trying to make it fun to watch instead of playing for real and that makes it mostly better.

      But it doesn’t get rid of my backseat player mentality. JOSH USE CHARGE! NO! NOT NOVA! CHARGE!

    2. Jeff says:

      Vanguards, properly set up, are invulnerable in a normal playthrough of ME3. Yes, Adepts and Sentinels are brokenly overpowered due to constant Tech/Biotic detonations, but Vanguards are worse if you set it up properly.

      I accidentally took a Vanguard into a Silver MP match once, and was surprised my random “Whoops, guess I’ll just fool around” approach gave me a ridiculously high score.

      1. anaphysik says:

        I never claimed that vanguards weren’t ridiculously awesome. In fact, I pretty much claimed the opposite – in noting that even with his horribly sloppy play, Josh is doing just fine (mostly it just means that he hovers around low health a lot, and wastes a bunch of medigels).

        My *real* point was that (regardless of power level) I ended up finding Vanguard gameplay to be very boring.

      2. swenson says:

        I sometimes almost feel bad about taking all the XP in multiplayer with my vanguard, even when all I do is just fool around… vanguards are really, really good at mopping up enemies once their barriers/shields/armor are down.

        1. Jeff says:

          Eh, XP is shared anyway. The only bad thing a fellow player can do is deny medals, by dying or by preventing a medal requirement from being met (like the guy is 1 kill short of upgrading his kill medal or something).

      3. meyerkev says:

        For a while, on Firebase White/Bronze, I could get every single point for the first 2 waves as a Vanguard. Charge/Nova/Charge/Nova/Shotgun/Charge, Hey, where’d everyone go?

        /And then I hit Silver and died. I’m so used to having Medigel as a 3rd level of backup.

    3. Josh says:

      To be fair, I was doing a bit better before we took a week off and Guild Wars 2 came out.

      1. anaphysik says:

        To be fair, I found your ‘oh wait crap this isn’t Guild Wars why I am playing this like Guild Wars’ to be endearingly hilarious. I’ve no real complaints as a fan :D

    4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I’m too much of a cover-based shooter. When I play vanguard I spend a lot of time shooting with the shotgun. And in ME3 I even put the shotgun away and packed an assault rifle. Stunlock with the AR did more to keep me alive after a bad charge than the uber power of the shotgun ever did.

      Oddly enough, as the engineer I pack the shotgun because I can use the drones to drive enemies out of cover and then shotgun them.

      1. anaphysik says:

        I like shotgun-engineer too, although evidently for different reasons :) (Works nicely in multiplayer with the geth engineer, I’ve found – the turret’s shield restoration lets you rush right in and start blasting away without getting killed.)

    5. Indy says:

      When it comes to multiplayer, I found the virtually indestructable Vorcha Soldier to be the most fun. That flamethrower power is amazing.

  31. Lame Duck says:

    Wait, did Steve Buscemi voice Leliana in Dragon Age?

    1. Indy says:

      No, that was Steven Blum. Everybody is played by Steven Blum.

      1. IFS says:

        Steve Blum and Nolan North voice everyone ever

  32. Wait… Josh, you could have used the subtitle for Chris “Gave the reporter a blow job” and you didn’t? You, sir, really are a troll!

  33. meyerkev says:

    Also, apropos of nothing, all of your Viddler-based Spoiler Warning vids seem to be broken. Says that your free trial has expired.

    1. Raygereio says:

      Viddler has removed their free accounts.

      What you can do to get the videos for now is go here:
      Click on the video you want and go download the .flv

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        If the crew gives me permission,Id be willing to reupload all of those on youtube(my account or their account,doesnt matter).I have enough bandwidth to burn(not playing guild wars).Though the quality wont be stellar.

  34. SleepingDragon says:

    So in the meantime I did what Daemian advised and went to watch the Leviathan DLC playthrough and I have to say that the whole DLC thing is way out of hand. I’m not even going to cry for the days of yore when an expansion pack was like a third of a game by itself but in any reasonably written game the contents of Leviathan would be a major, if not critical, plotpoint to the main narrative.

    1. Dragomok says:

      This, to a lesser extent, also applies to Lair of the Shadow Broker, The Arrival and From Ashes.

      1. SleepingDragon says:

        Somewhat agreeing on the Lair, if there was actually any use for it. From Ashes is largely inconsequential by Javik being reduced to trivia by writing him as a soldier who has little to no idea about stuff like Conduits or Crucibles, or even effective anti-reaper tactics (the lack of which is largely the point of his character), and while the subject matter of Arrival definitely should be in the main game that DLC was so godawful I’d rather it was wiped of the face the Earth.

  35. some random dood says:

    @Shamus’ complaints about ME1 rachni. Actually, they were reasonably well explained – if you found the side-quest series! It was mentioned on the ice-planet (forget the name) that some of the rachni were taken away from the mother for development, but yet again, Cerberus managed to stick their nose in. In yet another Cerberus operation they were held on a space station for experimentation, but then escaped and took shuttles away from there (the quest I think had you back-tracking the rachnis from at least one of the planets they ended up at to find the Cerberus base where the infection spread from.)
    So I don’t really have an issue with how the rachni showed up in several places in ME1 – but it is yet another example of Cerberus incompetence that really makes you wonder about how anyone ever funds them. Unless it is a TV company funding them to get another reality show (“Gee, look at what those crazy Cerberus dooooooods are up to this week, on ‘Science wonks and zombies'” – and now for our scheduled advertising break).

  36. Zaxares says:

    0:50: That’s easy. All you need is a form-fitting suction tube that attaches to the excretory orifice in question. Problem solved! :D

    3:15: They probably did it so you didn’t have to have all those krogan and Grunt/Dagg following you around. Which I think is a tragically wasted opportunity to showcase a really large gunfight between your squad, Aralakh Company, and hordes and hordes of Husks/reaper enemies.

    5:00: This whole mission is basically a homage to Aliens. Webbing, flamethrowers, giant creepy bugs… I loved the movie, and this mission was pretty fun too, but I agree that the Firestorm weapon really needed to be buffed up. Even on Normal difficulty it took about 3 seconds of roasting a Husk to take it down.

    5:40: As soon as Josh got grabbed by the Husk, I knew we would be seeing a Critical Mission Failure screen coming up. XD

    7:25: I haven’t played a game yet where I killed the Queen, but I think the Reapers cloned the new Queen using Rachni DNA they had collected back when they first indoctrinated the race.

    11:11: Actually, no, the Reaper base IS blown up. It’s just that the Illusive Man was able to salvage something from the base anyway (mainly the Human Reaper’s power core). Yes, you can say that THAT in itself is unbelievable given the size and intensity of the explosion shown at the end of ME2, but I’m willing to give the story writers a little leeway.

    1. ehlijen says:

      But if the reapers just have rachni dna for cloning on file, why is everyone treating this mission as a ‘yep, now we stopped that for good’? Shouldn’t there at least be a handwavy line about Hacket deploying recon units to look for more queens?

      1. Astor says:

        fridge logic, I love ’em.

      2. Keredis says:

        Well, the Reapers just don’t have the infinite resources to be able to make another one. Who do you think they are, Cerberus?

  37. Perivale says:

    I know I’m coming to this late, but surely Rutskarn was “Thrown in for his WREX appeal”…

    Kill me now.

    1. IFS says:

      *noncommital Grunt*

      1. Gruhunchously says:


  38. Hitch says:

    Instead of substantially changing the shape of the story according to your actions in the first two games, who lives, who dies, and who you left in charge, they just went out and hired a whole truckload of Biff the Understudies from Baldur’s Gate.

    1. Keredis says:

      I’d have forgiven them that if they’d actually gone and named them Biff the Understudy.

      I still have fond memories of managing to get him into my party somehow…

  39. 4th Dimension says:

    What episode does Shamus’s title of the week “Briliant plan to steal Omega” reference? Or is it some future episode?

    1. guy says:

      There’s probably one more episode, which will be released saturday. I guess they talk with Aria and discover that Cerberus stole Omega.

      Apparently the expanded universe shows that Cerberus released Von Newman Machine Husks and it went all Night of the Living Dead in there. This, of course, leads to the questions of how Husks could overrun Omega, given the sheer number of guns and angry Krogan and Vorcha it contains, and also the question of why this tactic is never used again. I mean, I imagine they were Super-Husks, but that only raises more questions, like why do they ever use non-super husks.

      1. Keredis says:

        I’d always had the impression that Cerberus basically just made use of their laughably huge fleet to take control of the space outside Omega, and then just threatened Aria with the complete destruction of the station (and her) if she didn’t turn it over to them. Not sure what made me think that, though.

  40. Ravens Cry says:

    This is why I liked LucasArts adventure games better.
    Only very, very rarely was there a game over, let alone a ‘Gotcha!’ moment like this. The Secret of Monkey Island even parodied the ‘humorous’ deaths of Sierra games.
    Also, frankly, I liked the writing better than Sierra.

  41. Jokerman says:

    It didnt seem odd to find a few stragglers in ME1, you doomed the race by killing the queen but that wont wipe them all out immediately. Having a new queen turn up is stupid though.

  42. Littlefinger says:

    Errr, why is this tagged “mass effect 2” and not 3?

    1. anaphysik says:

      Good catch. You’re right, the post is incorrectly tagged.

      EDIT: Hm, maybe this should see the attention of Shamus more readily? Hm, perhaps if I trip the moderation filter!
      Ahem…. POLITICS.
      EDIT 2: aw, didn’t work…
      Ahem…. RELIGION.
      EDIT 3: yay

  43. Wraith says:

    Just wanted to mention something I encountered while going through the older seasons: Alan Wake Episode 4 is blocked on copyright grounds for some damn reason.

  44. The Other Matt K says:

    I’m not sure there is much of an argument to be made for ‘fatalism’ as an actual theme of the game. Yes, Bioware clearly has a story they wanted to tell, and the consequences of your actions are adjusted to match as closely to their story as possible. Nonetheless, that is no more linear (and often less so) than many other games. For it to be a truly thematic component of the game, there would have to be some sort of overall message that was informed by this, and I don’t see that anywhere. If anything, the theme of choice is much more present, and while the game may not have lived up to the promise of its decision making, that is clearly much more in keeping with the vision behind the game, regardless of the success or failure of that vision.

    In contrast, the concept of cycles is absolutely a theme in the game, and can be seen in many, many places – from the mega-cycle of the Reapers and civilization, to the cycle of galactic menaces (Krogan are uplifted to fight Rakni, then Krogan become next threat and a new solution is needed, etc), to the Shadow Broker cycle (with one shadowy figure replacing another behind the scenes, without operatives ever knowing that a change had taken place.) Now, it is by no means the only theme in the game, nor even the central one, which is why Film Crit Hulk’s argument using it is so weak. But as an element woven through the setting and the story? Yes, it is definitely there.

    Fatalism, on the other hand… I can’t think of a single element of the background or a single line of dialogue that is informed by that concept.

  45. AxiomaticBadger says:

    In many ways the deal with the rachni was my biggest problem with ME3.
    It’s just so pointless.
    Their combat role could easily be subsumed by husked hanar or elcor, as could the entire mission. Then we could have had a little message like in ME2 that they stand ready to help out, maybe have an extra cutscene segment at the end that shows their fleet turning up to help out at the battle for earth, and that would have been fine. Instead we get this forced drivel.

    Regarding the theme of the series, and I’ve said this before, imo mass effect is all about whether or not the end justifies the means. We are repeatedly presented with characters tend to one side or the other, and we are faced with the consequences of thier actions: for instance, Saren is willing to cause mass genocide in an attempt to prevent galactic extinction, and the genophage was enacted in part to allow the krogan a chance of co-existing in the galaxy.
    In me3, we see this on a galactic scale. Do we betray the REDACTED in order to win the support of the REDACTED, or do we take an idealist path and hope that the REDACTED will be enough to stem the tide.

    The purest moment of this is, naturally, the ending. We are presented with 3 options, none ideal, all flawed. We can no longer choose a perfect path, we can only choose which price we are most willing to pay.

  46. Chauzuvoy says:

    In other news, I’m now casting for Mcauley Caulkin v Slenderman.

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