Mass Effect 3 EP15: Sniper Sandwich

 By Shamus Sep 19, 2012 199 comments


Link (YouTube)

So the question posed in the episode: If Mass Effect 3 was a stand alone game – or, if it’s easier to imagine, if it was your first encounter with Mass Effect – would you think of it any differently. Would people call it, “A really smart shooter”? Would people praise it for bringing dialog and characterization to a genre where it’s mostly mute dudes having orders shouted at them?

I find it hard to squint in such a way that I can see that particular hypothetical, but my guess is that I’d be giving this game a lot more praise.

This is not to say that we should excuse the lack of payoff or thematic cohesion. It’s just an interesting thing to note.


A Hundred!2020202019I bet you won't even read all 199 comments before leaving your own.


  1. Dmatix says:

    You should probably change the title to Mass Effect 3 EP15. Right now it says Mass Effect EP15, sans 3, which is confusing due to the reuploading of the first season.

  2. Entropy says:

    Cerberus are actually my favourite of the 3 enemy types to fight, on a purely mechanical basis. Why? CLEARLY DEFINED HEADS. As an Infiltrator, it just makes my job so much more satisfying.

    And those guys with the postbox shield holes for me to shoot through? Love em.

  3. The Other Matt K says:

    I second Entropy’s appreciation for Cerberus enemies from a mechanical standpoint, regardless of my loathing of them in the story.

    As for the hypothetical… Mass Effect 1 was my first experience with a cover-based shooter, and thus gave me a higher opinion of the genre than might be the norm. But in my case, I didn’t tend to break down things into ‘shooter’ vs ‘RPG’ as strongly as others might have. I think ME3 would have certainly had a more favorable reception if it existed devoid of the context of ME1 and ME2, but not due to an audience viewing it as a well-executed shooter, but rather due to the game not having to live up to the expectations and themes developed by the previous games.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Mass Effect was actually the game that got me to pick up Gears of War because I liked the shooting mechanic. GoW and ME are, at least ostensibly, different genres so I’m not so keen on comparing them. GoW is a squad shooter with limited tactical interface, so blaming it for not having “meaningful choice” is a little like blaming a dog for not being a cat. But the stories that Epic Games wanted to tell are interesting, tight, little stories. And they tell them very well. I actually think I have a better feel for the GoW universe and the characters because I spend all my time strapped to Marcus Fenix than I do of the Mass Effect Universe despite seeing so much more of it and having more freedom to explore.

      As for whether I would have better things to say about ME3 if I didn’t have the prior 2 games to compare. Maybe. The ending looms so high though. I had tons of fun right up to the ending. But now, just the fact that Victus is using the same pace-and-talk animation as everyone else in the story annoys me. It’s just another sign that they were, well, going through the motions.

      • Aldowyn says:

        ME3 suffers from the same issues as DA2 did. Yes, it has problems, but overall the main issue with it is that it’s not the same as the predecessors. Although I think ME3 made a lot of strides from ME1 that were almost universally considered “better” in its gameplay, as opposed to DA2 vs DA:O.

        Anyways, my point is people rage at both for departing from things set by the predecessor.

        • Eric says:

          Considering the primary focus of the Mass Effect series is on its universe, characters and story, and they completely and utterly botched those both in Mass Effect 2 and 3, how is Mass Effect’s 3 main issue the fact that it was different from Mass Effect 1?

          I’m also not sure I buy the better gameplay comment either. Global cooldowns for abilities, regenerating health, overheat mechanic is gone, levels are smaller, shorter and way more linear, side-quests completely suck (instead of just kind of sucking), the EMS mechanic is basically a complete waste, paragon/renegade mechanic is almost entirely gone, dialogue is far less interactive, etc. The core shooting “feel” is better but that’s about all I could say is an improvement over the prior titles.

          • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            I think the biggest mistake was going to universal cooldowns. One of the highlights of ME1 was hitting the bad guys with lots of powers, and by the time you got through your list, you were ready to cycle again.

            Power recharge in 2 and 3 is such a hassle that I used my gun most of the time except for very special occassions -like incinerate on an armored unit or overload on a shielded one.

            And I never figured out the stamina mechanic on DA2.

            • Thomas says:

              @Eric How on did Mass Effect 2 botch characters? I thought it’s pretty widely established as the most character focused and the charcater parts are by far and away the best part of the game and close to the best part of the franchise?

              Also @Sabrdance
              I don’t think your experience was very common at all, I’ve heard a lot of people here (including me) say that the cooldown system in ME3 was so good they forgot they had a weapon. In fact it was said in the comments of the last episode.

              I think a lot of people have loved the change in the powers mechanic and it’s been praised a lot. It makes it more tactical because instead of power spamming, it’s about choosing the right power for the right situation, knowing that certain powers are going to have high cooldowns and prevent you from using the small ones and then ME3 combat also had fantastically more varied enemies and was very good at encouraging very broad systems of play, had the perfect balance of upgrade flexibility and overload between all the games, managed to make all the weapons feel distinct from each other, the health is better. The maps are a lot better, having Reputation instead of pure good/evil points makes a lot of sense and fixes a broken system.

              The character interactions are mechanically better in 3, they’ve found ways to stop wasting your time with a ‘I have nothing to say’ conversation, ways to alert you to parts of the ship you’d be interested in visiting. They take of your helmets during cutscenes if you want to. There’s no frickin’ Mako, no intensive resource mining. (The journal got a lot worse though). ME3 had more natural crew interactions and had lots more crew to crew interactions. And ME2 pioneered interrupts. The dialogue wheel was finally broken in 3 though (but it’d been broken to a degree in both one and two before)

              There are lots and lots of mechanically improved points in this game and shooting, which is something which you spend a vast amount of time doing in all 3 games, is finally fun in 3, which is a pretty darn significant thing as far as mechanics go.

  4. anaphysik says:

    ME2 also would have been better if it were stand-alone.

    • DinAdn says:

      Mmmm.
      I ended up seeing it as something akin to the SG-1 to ME1‘s Stargate [the film].
      Both enjoyable, and the latter draws a lot upon its predecessor, but they work very differently as stories.

      • Open Source Idiom says:

        ME2 would have been better if it was allowed to be more impactful. Its major (non DLC) contributions (Cerberus, Omega and the Collectors) were either lost going into 3 or just plain problematic. i.e. Cerberus.

    • Dude says:

      Yes, it is. I played Mass Effect 2 before I played the first one, and everything that didn’t make sense in 2 didn’t bother me, because I figured I just had to play the first game for things to make sense. I figured Cerberus, TIM, the Collectors, etc were clearly defined in the first game, and baby Termireaper was, too.

      Then I played the first game and, well, you know how it goes.

      I think the three ME games work better when considered as standalone series, like Star Trek. TOS, TNG, and so on. Every game works on the same threat and thread, but with a slightly different premise, retconning and shifting certain elements of previous game(s) to better suit that particular game’s narrative. If the game marketing made this obvious, and didn’t push the “your choices matter” angle, we wouldn’t be complaining much.

      Except the last ten minutes.

  5. Otters34 says:

    You know, Tuchanka here looks eerily like a mix between Feros and Ilios.
    Also, I love it when video game heroes talk about ‘sacrifice’, because they’re never the ones sacrificing something, rather making others sacrifice for their sake.
    And turian discipline breaking down here? While fighting Cerberus? That’s hilarious.
    The bomb not going off if you never return clearly means The Illustrious Moron wants to show off his cool new bomb to Shepard.
    EDIT: What the Hell happened at the 19.13 mark? Did Regina gain magnetic powers or something?! That and apparently…turians drop their kinetic barriers when in enemy territory?

    • Gruhunchously says:

      That turian that got sniped had a red headsplosion, even though turians have blue blood.

    • guy says:

      Honestly, the cutscenes universally forget about kinetic barriers except for a handful of instances involving main characters. Though a Nemesis could probably kill a turian through barriers with a headshot.

      Mind, probably the worst instance of forgetting about things in cutscenes is when a pistol is pulled on the asari councilor. A small pistol. Even though Asari are literally all at least somewhat capable of using biotics.

    • Ofermod (Formerly Keredis) says:

      Yeah, that was one of the worst “get on ladder” animations I’ve ever seen.

      Also, do we ever see Turians wearing helmets aside from Garrus when he’s being Archangel?

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      This whole questline makes less and less sense every time I play it. Victus says he screwed up by trying to go around the Reaper fleet -and yet when they found him, he was forced down because he didn’t have space to maneuver. Presumably, though, if he’d broken for open sky he just would have been blasted apart, so what on earth makes them think “frontal assault” would have worked better?

      And then the bomb is out in the open and yeah -in a game where not wearing helmets is justified by kinetic barriers, the turians seem to forget they have barriers.

      The whole thing exists to pump up that “you can’t save everyone” and “sacrifices have to be made theme,” except the best exemplar of this theme in the entire game is The Illusive Man.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I liked the sacrifice, though. I tend to ignore plot details like that in order to see what they were going for. I have to LOOK for bad things to find them.

        ME2 managed to clobber through those predispositions, though, and I was forewarned for the ME3 ending so I DID see those problems. (I would have anyway, if not to the degree others did)

      • Jakey says:

        Turian culture is very conservative when it comes to their military tactics and lore-wise Humans are considered to be far more threatening/unpredictable despite Turians having magnitudes more firepower because Humans do the exact kind of unusual sneaky tactical shit that Turians typically frown upon due to their Proud Warrior Guy raceness.

        Papa Victus is already quite controversial and often disliked because of his unorthodox tactics and ethics, but the thing that keeps him popular is that at the end of the day he pulls through and gets the job done. Victus Jr. is implied to have been promoted through nepotism which is already a massive taboo in Turian culture. He then attempts to do the exact kind of ‘clever shit’ his dad is (in)famous for to sustain less casualties than he would’ve following the normal Turian procedure, but it ends up backfiring on him and killing more Turians in the process.

  6. guy says:

    4.54: That’s… a very good question. The PTSD asari commando mentions that the Marauder assault rifles can’t just be picked up and used. But the heavy weapons can?

    18:02: No, the dialogue is clear on this point. It had been at the bottom of that chasm, which had previously been made of solid rock, then Cerberus somehow found out about it and brought in enough digging equipment to unearth it.

    • Ofermod (Formerly Keredis) says:

      Note that Cerberus brought in all those dudes to dig it up *without* any of the planet’s Krogan getting a bit upset at all these human supremacists DIGGING A GIANT HOLE IN THEIR PLANET.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        Remember that this is Cerberus we’re talking about. If they can resurrect people, build the most advanced stealth ship in the galaxy (twice), maintain a standing army in the middle of cataclysmic invasion, and assault a council homeworld with little difficulty, then they can probably dig a missive hole in the middle of krogan territory with out being noticed.

    • IFS says:

      If I had to guess the heavy weapons aren’t built into the husks because they can only be fired once, that still doesn’t explain why reaper forces never use the gun themselves but whatever.

      • Alphadrop says:

        Does beg the question why they need one shot guns or why the guns are one shot. Heck even the mini nuke launcher thing in Mass Effect 2 could be reloaded with comparable lens flare explosions and Reaper tech is far in advance of the puny humans.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “then Cerberus somehow found out about it and brought in enough digging equipment to unearth it.”

      Because they are awesome like that.This game should be renamed into cerberus effect.

      • ehlijen says:

        Nah, ‘Cerberus Effect’ would imply that Cerberus actually achieves something. Cerberus Defect would be more accurate.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          You mean you didnt read the script for mass effect 4?In it,cerberus became the dominant group because of the crucial role theyve played in repairing the mass relays.And they also learned quite a bit from those,enough to make their own.Plus they also have weaponry centries ahead of everyone else,and extensive spy network on every planet,even the uninhabited ones.

  7. I’m rather amazed the obvious joke didn’t arise when Shamus wished he could play ME2 and ME3 without knowledge/expectations from the first game:

    “You mean like the writers did?”

    Thank you, don’t forget to tip your waitress.

  8. meyerkev says:

    So who else hated the fight from the first 5 minutes?

    /18 times. In one playthrough. Always to the harvester.

    • Hitchmeister says:

      It’s enlightening to watch Josh’s Vanguard playstyle. He mows through most things pretty easily. He takes a lot of damage, but it all recharges pretty quickly. So he’s not in real danger. Until he faces something like a Brute or Harvester which shake off most of his Charge damage and he’s in a lot of trouble. I played as an Infiltrator, and it turns out those units major weakness is being shot by bullets (or the ME equivalent) from behind cover quite a safe distance away. It took quite a few, but I never took any damage, and they did go down fairly quickly. You can shoot a lot of bullets very fast.

      It just seems to me that the more Bioware tried to improve the combat in this series (and Dragon Age, for that matter) the less interesting it became. And those improvements were made at the expense of the story.

      • Otters34 says:

        They really do have bullets in Mass Effect, though they’re much smaller than the kind used here in the past.

        Though of course here they look more or less like high-speed blaster bolts rather than bits of metal being flung at incredible speed.

      • meyerkev says:

        Honestly, Brutes should NOT be a problem at this difficulty level. Yes, their melee will HURT, but you can then immediately countercharge, and boost your shields back to 100%, so it doesn’t matter. Couple it with a few shotgun blasts from a heavy shotgun with Inferno Ammo, and the Brutes go down.

        Instead, Josh is rolling with a low-damage, high ammo shotgun, and a freaking assault rifle (that isn’t the Mattock or the Revenant) that does very little damage. And he’s not CHARGING ENOUGH. Always Be Charging. Instead he’s meleeing, which isn’t recharging his shields, which means that he can’t Nova enough to wipe out groups of mooks, and he’s taking way too much health damage, instead of just absorbing it as shield damage, and continuously boosting his shields. He’s just not doing enough damage, and taking too much non-recoverable damage in the process.

        Also, Josh NEEDS to get an Eviscerator shotgun. Among other things, it doesn’t have quite the same damage falloff as the other shotguns, so you can use it as a short and midrange gun (like to take out Harvesters in 5 or 6 shots from behind cover) that will one/two-shot most mooks at range, and can replace the bad Assault Rifle. Pair it with a scoped Heavy pistol (poor man’s sniper rifle for about half the weight), and you have close to 200% cooldown, which gets you under 2 second cooldowns on Charge.

        /Plus he needs to UPGRADE HIS WEAPONS. *Rage*
        //Also, Josh, map Liara’s Warp to one of your hotkeys. Warp the Brute/Ravager/Banshee and then Charge it, and watch the Biotic Explosion knock them back, take off half their health, and distract them while you get away.

        • anaphysik says:

          The Scimitar is not actually that bad. I’ve certainly been enjoying it in MP. (Of course, its high magazine helps a lot with alleviating my problems of poor aim (not a shooter fan) and low fps from my graphics-card-less pc :P )

          But yeah, here the Eviscerator would be really nice. (Though I don’t like it nearly as much as its ME2 counterpart; although that could be just part of how I dislike a lot of the changed animations for shooting and powers :/ )

          • Aldowyn says:

            They nerfed several weapons from ME2. The vindicator comes to mind (I LOVED that thing in ME2) I don’t think the carnifex hits QUITE as hard, but it’s still quite nice, but you don’t get it until the rannoch missions IIRC.

            In general, there are more powerful guns but they tend to come later in the story. There’s a definite power curve here.

            P.S. GETH PLASMA SHOTGUN. Although you can’t insta fire it for max damage.

            • anaphysik says:

              I basically can’t use projectile weapons in MP due to lag/low fps, so I avoid GPS/Graal and stick to hitscan weapons. Kishock is at least cool enough to derp around with :P

          • meyerkev says:

            The Scimitar’s not bad, it just doesn’t fit my playstyle (which is Josh’s playstyle taken to the extreme. For example, I strongly recommend charging Banshees under most circumstances, and lots of Brutes should be a fun game of bowling for Reapers).

            With me, I’m usually only getting off 1 shot between Charges, so I want my shot to hit as hard as possible (without having the terrible fire rate and weight of the Claymore). There’s not really a functional difference on my end between having a 3-shotter that kills in 1 shot, and an 8-shotter that kills in 2 or 3, except that I can kill people faster with the first one. And meanwhile, being able to sit at a distance and pick people off with my shotgun is awesome.

            /Charge, Nova, Shotgun random dude, repeat.

            • anaphysik says:

              I got tired of the ME3 vanguard playstyle (and animations – I really dislike how Charge looks and ‘feels’ in ME3 for some reason) during my SP run. I avoid the class in MP, so we’re kind of talking past each other here; I agree that the Scimitar’s less than ideal for a vanguard.

              • meyerkev says:

                Ah. What class are you playing then? I can’t think of a class other than Vanguard where I’d take along a shotgun (maybe Engineer, and I haven’t played Sentinel). There’s usually something else filling that gap, like a sufficiently heavy Assault Rifle, Biotics, or Cloak.

                • anaphysik says:

                  Yep, Engineer’s what I use it with. Mostly geth engineer (I’m weird and don’t like the GPS). Haven’t taken it to Gold yet, but it works quite nicely, and I like the Scimitar’s feel.
                  Geth turret works nicely for rushing enemies, so yay synergy.

                  (Though I play several classes. These days, mostly geth engie, salarian infi, batarian soldier, and especially vorcha sentinel (don’t have the soldier, unfortunately, but Flamer+Bloodlust is just incredible).)

                  Ballistic Blades is the ultimate shotgun-replacement, of course.

                  EDIT: Aaaaaaand this all reminds me how primitive Origin is: it doesn’t even have groups, so we can’t set up a TwentySided gang on it.

        • The Carnifex is the rich man’s sniper rifle. The only reason it’s not known as that is because the Widow is the Rich man’s Carnifex.

  9. lurkey says:

    I actually hoped this “Victus set us up the bomb” mission will be where you could kill Garrus, something like Grunt’s one – Victus Jr. bites the bullet, Garrus has to finish the job and if unloyal, amen, and Victus Jr only stands in if Garrus got dead in ME2. Alas. :(

    I wouldn’t ridicule ME3 this much if I played it first because for me “shooter” is pretty much synonymous with “dumb” so it all fits, but then I probably wouldn’t have picked it up in the first place.

  10. Shamus you (and many others here) are gonna love this:

    EA (or BioWare or Origin or whatever) sent me a promo code for Mass Effect 3: The Final Hours
    If I use it I get the thingamajig for free, sweet right?

    One caveat though, you have to “buy” it and apply the promocode at checkout to get it for free.

    OK! Fair enough I think, at least the Origins guys are only half morons. The easy way would be to just log on and download, oh well.

    Ok! Let’s do this little dance then, should be quick right?

    1. I go to the origin website (Why the hell was there no direct link to the product page in the email they sent me?)

    2. WTF! I don’t see it. Ok maybe it’s with the ME3 game page. Nope. Let us search then. No… WTF…

    3. After some googling I end up at the BioWare forum, somenoe there suggest it could be a region thing and it’s not listing under that region, try changing the language at origin. (WTH did they email it to me if it’s not for my region?)

    4. I try to change the language at origin, it’s at the top left easy to see, Great I think. I’m redirected to a landing page of sorts. Ok go back to the store… Nope, no change.

    5. I try to log in…and fail. Hmm. Did I remember my pass wrong? Possibly. only used it once ages ago when I installed ME3. Ok let’s do the “forgot password” dance then…Ok. now I can finally log in. No change in listings or languages.

    6. More googling. I end up again at the bioware forums. Hmm, seems that even though you change the language, the Origin “Store” uses ip addresses so it’ll stick to Norwegian regardless of my setting… Someone posts a picture of a pirate with a burning mustache and a sailing ship, yep, this is starting to look tempting indeed now. Eventually someone gives some direct links to the product page.

    7. I try the direct links and behold, I see this Mass Effect 3: The Final Hours thingy. Click. Added to cart. Fine. Go to Checkout. Apply Promocode. “paste”, fine. Continue….

    8. I have to enter my billing address as it’s listed on my credit card. #1 I do not have a credit card tied to origin, #2 I’m paying $0 for digital goods so why is a billing “address” needed anyway? #3 if I also have to enter my card info next, I’ll kill something.

    9. Ah, it seems I can continue again. Yes. click “Continue…” Ah there we go. Download using Origin… Or if you do not have origin installed then download Origin. GAAAAAH

    10. *sigh* I click to download origin. Get taken to Origin Download page (why the hell for, why not a direct link?) choose save location. fine… drum my fingers while I wait….

    11. Click OriginThinSetup.exe (I would not call 16+MB “thin”) Microsoft Security Essentials scans the file for viruses. (poor MSE has no idea the whole file is a virus), and Windows asks if I want to run this exe I just downloaded? Now now Windows, I know you are trying to be protective, but I need to go trough with this. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine, it can’t get much worse can it?

    12. Elevation prompt and a “Preparing installer” *Sigh*…. Choose location. *grumble* I don’t mind installing software but… what am I doing this for again? Oh Right… Desktop icon? no thanks. start menu shortcut, ok. Autorun at startup, no thanks. Automatically keep up to date, no thanks I don’t want more background crap running. share hardware specs? hahaha NO… Just a plain Install is all I want.

    13. Great a EULA. “If you reside in the US, Canada, Japan..” No I don’t. “If any other country then”… this EULA is between me and EA Swiss? Hahah, no it’s not. And an EULA is not valid in Norway anyway, and isn’t there a EA Norway or Scandinavia they could refer to instead?, must be some legal loophole… OK! Let’s checkmark the “I have NOT read or understood the EULA thingy”. And click OK.

    14. Origin is updating….*bangs head in table* Didn’t I JUST download Origin a minute or so ago? WTF? How stupid can you get? ….”Applying Updates” oh… THAT stupid? Oh an elevation prompt…..Oh great.. ANOTHER elevation prompt for a Origin services (is this the auto updater service I said I did not want? What else did it ignore? Ok. Origin is running now.

    15. Login? *sigh* Ok I’ll login to “Origin” again… And now I’m logged in. Lets move the window to my 2nd screen so I can type this text up more easily… Ooh. whats this? A Popunder popup ad for something? You sneaky little f*****s, that’s adware “nasty” classification right there alone.

    16. Um, where’s my download, the one I went through all this for? Origin client shows “0″ items in my basket… WTF? Ok. Let’s try and click “MY GAMES” then. Ah there it is. WTF? Why is Origin preparing a ME3 Update as well? How about asking me before using my CPU/bandwidth? Cancel Update. *sigh* (Edit. how I managed to find this option so quickly I have no idea, a fluke? years of uber l33t skills?)

    17. Click “The Final Hours” (it certainly is starting to feel like hours by now….A tiny “Download” popup/tooltip? Why not a download button on the huge “box” image instead? *Sigh*. GAH, and why does it close if I just barely move the pointer outside it.. This is really stupid. And I’m def. not “star”‘ing this thing, lets just get started ok? *click*…. “Preparing to download” Oh FFS…

    18. And what is this second window that popped up on my other screen? “Download Now” ? Really… Didn’t I just click a Download button in the main window? *sigh*… *click* Ok… Now what? … 0% complete. *Sigh* and this is a 1gig dl too it seems… Hang on on. WHERE is Origin downloading this… it never asked, is it autoistalling or temporary storing it somewhere? I know I have the space but.. why not let me choose were to download it? (Edit: yes you can choose in the options, but it never asked for my preferred location during install of origin, one could easily assume there was none)

    19. This can’t be their best servers… And why is the two progress bars not showing the same percentage? This is going to take ages. The origins servers can barely squeeze out a measly half mbit? I got a 70mbit downstream line here, AND a 10mbit upstream, “I” could serve this faster tan Origin for crying out loud… And why not show an ETA, there is no way I can do a head calculation of when the whole thing is done, maybe if it had showed the download speed I night have been able, but not just with a percentage. Common, an ETA routine is not that hard to make, and I should know because I wrote one just a few days ago (not kidding here folks, I’m an actual programmer that do programming stuff) even a basic one only takes a few minutes at most to write… oh wait there is one… the tiny triangle at the bottom right behind “% Complete” indicate this text can be clicked to show ETA and stuff, but wouldn’t “that spot” down there be a great place to actually show the ETA instead of a “hidden” linkbutton? And clicking the same place does not close the window that popped up, why not put the ETA in a normal tooltip?. *sigh*.

    20. (a long time later, and no I didn’t take the time)…..100% complete at last… Um. I heard a “blip” of sorts and a notify message appeared and vanished in the tray as I was busy working and typing code, no idea what it said. And the “Origin” window just sits there, no info or instructions on what to do next, and it’s still tagging “the final hours” as NEW, and if I hover over it, it shows a “install”….WTF…. Hang on, wasn’t it installed by Origin then earlier? Was that JUST a download it did? Why not install WHILE downloading? *sigh* Clicking Install, and again it would be nice with a Install button under the “box” image.

    21. It took a long time for the Installer to start, no indication what it was doing, at first I thought the install took only 1 sec. hah… And No, I do not want a icon on my desktop, and no, do not start after install. And another EULA thingy, for Adobe Air now, FFS, I just want to install and play whatever this “final hours” thingy is.

    22. Ah. At last I can play this thing. Again a “Play” button would be nice under the “box” image. Oh! You can double click, who knew? There was no indication that these where double click buttons. Anyway. Clickclick. You gotta be kidding me. Adobe Air EULA again? Click…..OH FFS! Adobe Air Update popup…yes “Update later” *sigh*, and thanks to that, activating the game/window again and I just lost the controls explanation that was displayed, now I have to blindly figure out the controls, or quit and start it again to hopefully see the instructions anew. Oh! Great it’s touch based, and not mouse friendly at all, no next page icons, mouse “back” button doesn’t work, backspace doesn’t work, is this an Adobe Air limitation?.

    23. So basically all this mess was to just watch a series of semi on/off-line web “pages” with embed content and some “online” stuff snuck in here and there (like polls and stats). A few cool things like a VR image that lets you “look around” BioWare HQ, alternate video choices and so on. This would have been much better as a website with youtube videos instead. Now lets see how uninstalling all this is gonna turn out…*fingers crossed*

    24. I have to right click the “box” image to find the uninstall option, sneaky… And it brings up the Windows Uninstall Program control panel? You gotta be kidding me. OK! Scroll down find the entry… elevation prompt, that’s fine. OK! That was relatively harmless. Oh wait. Adobe Air is still here. *sigh* Uninstall that separately I guess. *click* gone. Now where do I uninstall Origin? Hmm, not from Origin obviously. Same Place as the rest I guess then…”A running instance of…?” , darn it I quit Origin but it’s still running thus preventing uninstall? How the hell does that make sense, at least they allow the uninstaller to kill origin if running. (it sticks around in the tray even if you “quit” it)

    Well: I gotta hand it to them, although I haven’t done a deep scan of he system yet, uninstalling Origins do seem to uninstall it.

    Was “Mass Effect 3: The Final Hours” good? It was “ok”, it had a webzine special edition feel to it, just a shame it wasn’t a actual webzine special edition.
    Was it worth going through all that download/installation mess? No, sadly it was not, for me it took longer to download and install and download install and install and update than it took to enjoy the material and thus it soured my experience quite a lot.

    Also, downloading something and then having to update the thing (Origin in this case) just a moment later is not just lazy compiling/programming, it’s unnecessary and fully unavoidable.

    If this had been the “old” BioWare (just before EA gobbled them up) these would be the steps instead:
    1. Click link in email to go straight to the page with the goodies (BioWare Social site login, remember that?).
    2. log in.
    3. redeem code
    4. find the extra in the list of goodies and download.
    5. once downloaded, run it and install.
    6. run it.

    Yeah 6 steps, they could probably be trimmed down to like, I don’t know 3 maybe?
    1. click link in email, get taken to download page, no need to login as you got a special URL, click download.
    2. once downloaded run and install.
    3. run it.
    This is what I’d prefer. But I’d still rather have the old BioWare back. EA and Origin, is like. I don’t know. It’s almost like they are trying to make people “not” use money.
    Ive seen this with other stores and companies too, and first tike and returning customers almost get equal hassle, it’s like these companies do not want customers, that can’t be right, or?

    EDIT/BONUS:
    little note on quitting a program (that I just felt like sharing). On Windows (with very few exceptions) there is no need to free memory or stuff like that, the OS will handle that once the process no longer exist. This is per MicroSoft’s own advice actually. Hence one of my programs only has a tiny delay (100ms) to allow fading and stopping of the audio playing before instantly quitting. Unlike other programs that spend a minute and half “freeing” memory.

    • drlemaster says:

      A friend of mine gave me a copy of DA:O (he had an extra), when I had trouble installing from disk, I decided to try downloading.

      Steps 1-19 almost exactly as above

      Step 20: After 2 days, the download speed had gone from a “speed” 200-300 Kb/sec to something like 40 Kb/sec. I am 20% done, and the computer estimates a mere 400 some hours to go. Free game is not worth it.

      Step 24 also as above.

      Now the slow download may be partially due to my ISP, but I am still getting a message loud and clear from EA: If you every give us your money, we promise to make it as painful as possible.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well give them a break,its not like they had years to research how steam works to figure this out.And its not like they are a huge company with vast resources that can develop this well.And its not like any other online store thingy is any better.For example,when I was buying diablo 3,I had to:
      1)Go to blizzard thingie
      2)Make an account
      3)Go to diablo page
      4)Enter credit car info
      5)Choose where to install
      6)Start playing minutes after the download started while it finished the updates and such in the background.

      See,just as bad,if not worse.

      • Irridium says:

        Oh don’t even get me started on Steam.

        1) Search Steam for game.
        2) Pay for game
        4) Download game
        5) Play game

        How a system managed to survive this long and get on top is just unfathomable.

    • HiEv says:

      Thank you for taking the time to record just how horrible that is.

      I find it sad/funny that places can pour tons of money into PR, and then forget the most basic PR of all: decent customer service.

    • Deadfast says:

      little note on quitting a program (that I just felt like sharing). On Windows (with very few exceptions) there is no need to free memory or stuff like that, the OS will handle that once the process no longer exist. This is per MicroSoft’s own advice actually. Hence one of my programs only has a tiny delay (100ms) to allow fading and stopping of the audio playing before instantly quitting. Unlike other programs that spend a minute and half “freeing” memory.

      All operating systems with virtualized memory do that. It still is considered good practice to free memory yourself, at least on *nix. At the very least you have close your handles.

      Although in case of Origin it’s probably accidentally allocating memory instead.

  11. JPH says:

    Even if Mass Effect 3 was a standalone game or the first game in the series that any of us played, we wouldn’t be comparing it to “other shooters” like Crysis or Call of Duty, for the same reason we don’t compare those games to Borderlands.

    Yes, it involves shooting, but the way the game is structured is fundamentally different.

    • anaphysik says:

      Yeah. Probably we’d be comparing it to Alpha Protocol.
      (I’d like to think that it would come up wanting in comparison, but given how many people love ME3 even in its current state, and how many people hate on AP…)

      • I recently played through Alpha Protocol for the first time. I thought it was fantastic! Ok, the gameplay could be tighter, but I didn’t think it was much worse than ME1. Now that the good Drs have left Bioware, Obsidian is my only link to the RPGs of old. And AP was definitely a step in the right direction. Hardly had any bugs at all :D

        • anaphysik says:

          I loved AP. Unfortunately that’s not as popular a opinion as it should be :(

          • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            I’ll third the motion. Alas, I’ve only played through it twice.

            • Fourthed. Played around three to five times.

            • Grudgeal says:

              A lot-ed. I think it’s thrice for me (assault rifle using the newbie background, pistol-using stealth operative with suave, and most recently a veteran martial arts no-kills playthrough using stealth, martial arts and tranqs a lot).

              Currently considering trying to go through using SMGs or shotguns. Possibly something gadget-based, like an engineer.

              • I never actually used SMGs and Shotguns besides getting the trophies and never beyond the first hub world. Pistols are just so broken in that game.

                I disliked Assault Rifles, but I fear that it was inevitable I chose in my first playthrough to specialize in Assault Rifles with Stealth (figured Stealth for up close takedowns, AR for distance). I decided to play as a Recruit on Hard.
                I am glad I resisted temptations to rage quit. That boss in Russian was BULLSHIT!!!

                • anaphysik says:

                  Oh, *him.* Assuming it’s the same guy we’re talking about (there are actually 2 ‘bosses’ in Moscow, one of them optional), I was too busy listening to the music to not die my first time through. (And I was playing on Easy…)
                  There’s this cool trick where if you go to Taipei first, you can use your awesome contact there to weaken the Moscow boss. Haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to, even just for the lulz, as soon as I can get the time for another playthrough.

          • lurkey says:

            Anecdote about its much maligned gameplay. I decided to play it when I was on crappy temp videocard, so I went through shooty bits with gritted teeth thinking “Yeah, combat is indeed bad as they say”. Then for some reason I decided to give ME2, which I played on a good card before, another go — and it was totally unplayable.

            Cue new card, and I can honestly say I prefer AP’s combat to ME2′s. And yeah, I did a submachine gun / rifle run.

            • anaphysik says:

              Heh, pistols / martial arts. On top of the sheer power of those two, Point Blank Shot is just plain cool.

              • lurkey says:

                Pistols/Tech Savvy. Chainshot-Brilliance-Chainshot-Bossdead. 8-)

                • Stealth/Pistols all the way, with a minor in Sabotage

                  Because seriously, why would a spy need to use Martial Arts?

                  • anaphysik says:

                    Rule of Cool.

                    (Stealth was my third skill, and I dipped two ranks in Sabotage. Also, funnily enough despite using the 3 skills of the Field Agent, I went with Freelancer. Sounded cooler, and actually ended up making for a neat transition from someone (apparently) in it for the thrill to someone with a real agenda.)

                  • StashAugustine says:

                    Martial Arts is really nice for a nonlethal run, since tranqs are really expensive.

                    • anaphysik says:

                      And I think some vendors stop selling them, either after some time/event, or because they run out or something. I forgot why, but I stopped being able to buy them during some parts of the game. (Luckily I found a whole bunch in the hotel.)

                    • I got tons of stealth takedowns (Invisibility yay!), so I never wanted for martial arts.

                      But yeah, tranqs are pretty costly.

                    • Michael says:

                      In AP, the vendors never refresh their stock, unless you do something to actually change your arms dealer contacts, as I recall. Off hand, I remember finishing Saudi Arabia, and dealing with the gunrunner in Saudi Arabia both affected the vendors. Beyond that the only thing I remembered specifically changing what the store carried was working with Albatross in Moscow. Though I think Taiwan had an arms dealer contact you could pick up. And, I think you got a new arms dealer contact every time you enter a new city.

                      That said, as I recall, there’s only about 100-200 rounds of tranq ammunition in the game. So, for that to work, you need to be really efficient with it.

                      Also, there are a lot of reasons for a spy to learn hand to hand. Both in the context of Alpha Protocol and in the real world. Though, granted, in the real world most spies are much more akin to “con artists with government paychecks”.

                      Stuff like Alpha Protocol tends to end up more in the Special Operators range, rather than genuine Intelligence Officers.

          • False Prophet says:

            I loved it almost as much as Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Just like that game, it gives a lot of playstyle options for getting through levels, which is almost completely ruined by the mandatory circle-strafe bosses.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I dunno, I did prefer ME3 to AP even though AP was a pretty good game. I thought there was a lot more depth to the characters in ME and AP had a rather weak plot IMHO. But I do consider it a worthy challenger.

        • lurkey says:

          Of all the things in these 2 games to be compared in favour of ME, “more depth to the characters” and “weak plot” would be my third and second least expected. Funny how different people perceive different things differently. :-)

          • Raygereio says:

            In cases like this I always think back to a post I read from someone who played Fallout 3. Instead of having the rational and sane response of laughing, this guy unironically cried when Dad comitted suicide.

            There’s just no accounting for taste I guess.

          • StashAugustine says:

            That wasn’t very well written, on reflection. I kinda regret mentioning the plot, since it compares favorably to Mass Effect but not to many other RPG’s. I would argue that ME and AP are similar to each other in that they cover up for a weak plot with very good side bits. Alpha Protocol had a much better choice system, while Mass Effect has more interesting character arcs. While AP had a gaggle of fun characters, I would say that Mass Effect comes out on top in that department. I liked the atmosphere, and I thought the character writing displayed a lot more depth.
            Of course, this is all opinion. I do think that Alpha Protocol was a good game, it’s just that I liked what Mass Effect does right better than what Alpha Protocol did right. (I should also clarify that the character writing applies only to the core group of characters.)

            • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              I want to see more games take from Alpha Protocol (and the first half of DX:HR) is the idea that levels don’t have to involve shooting. And you don’t even necessarilly have to know before you start whether it’s going to break down into shooting.

              Give me some puzzles, or some conversation games.

              • Aldowyn says:

                Thane’s loyalty mission didn’t have any shooting at all, despite following someone on an assassination mission. Although I will admit it’s the ONLY one, which seems… odd.

                • StashAugustine says:

                  Samara’s didn’t, either. I really would have liked to see more dialogue puzzles in Mass Effect.

                • Michael says:

                  You actually are forced to fire a single bullet, if that counts.

                  Jack’s really shouldn’t have had any shooting. Who hires a Krogan for a salvage mission? Mercs should have been gone. Or have a way to talk your way out. No mercenary is going to die over a pile of salvaged materials.

                  While Tali’s loyalty mission made sense to have shooting, I would’ve liked to have not broken up the ‘court’ scene into two segments.

                  On the whole, I agree with Sabrdance; sometimes I don’t want to work my twitch reflexes.

                  …which is a reason I tend toward JRPGs and JRPG inspired games. Or even old turn-based CRPGs like Fallout. Menu selection combat and lots of dialogue.

                  • anaphysik says:

                    “You actually are forced to fire a single bullet, if that counts.”

                    But it’s the right *kind* of gameplay. The choice there is *who/what do you shoot*, what action do you take.

                    • Thomas says:

                      This is why I absolutely fell in love with Planescape, huge chunks of game, where say, you’d be in a very interesting brothel thing with 9 members, and you can just spend an hour run around from one to the next, learning viewpoints, running quests, solving problems with words, finding mysteries and using openings in those mysteries to solve more mysteries. And then finally it caps it off with a very cool little conversation with the host.

                      And this was all just essentially in one building with 10 NPCs.

                      Gosh I loved that game. The combat did suck hugely though. The certainty about Project Eternity is the writing is going to be phenomenal and the combat is going to fail badly

  12. Thomas says:

    I think Mumbles’ leaving has created a nice vacuum which of all things, Shamus has been drawn into. Seriously, whats with all the niceness? It’s either that or you’ve had a transplant with Chris :D

    I think the way they tried to do the Primarc’s son’s story was perfectly fair, they weren’t sending you in blind, they were sending you in a with a lot of build up and lots of ‘why has this happened? What’s going on?’ stuff. It didn’t work particularly well, but that’s a perfectly valid story attempt. The missed chance was to have the son more evident in the second mission. That was the shame, because he had nice story filling potential and would be a way to feel closer to Victus and like you’re really trying to make this work.

    I do think all the side missions should have been optional though, rather than an either or business, there’s no particular reason to make anyone do any of them. (and it’s fair that as a consequence the Krogan ability to fight is weakened if you don’t, but the choice should be there).

    Better art would have made more understandable. I know it’s Tuchanka but they should have been giving us some detail into the world during all these missions

  13. Raygereio says:

    Am I the only who was rather confused as to why Victus Jr had supposedly screwed up and why his crew was so upset with him?
    He didn’t really have much options. From what I recall he had a choice between getting blown up or taking a risk and flying into ruins in which they had little maneuverability.

    Being stupidly upset when someone makes a decision that in and of itself isn’t that bad, but just ends up making things bad due to forces outside of that someone’s control is not a meritocracy. It’s “saterday morning cartoon villain punishing his flunkies because the hero beat them”-level of comically dumb.

    • anaphysik says:

      IIRC, you can mention this in game. He says something to the tune of ‘it doesn’t matter that someone made the least bad call they could at the time being, but that they made a call that turned out bad at all.’

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        So the Turian Hierarchy works on the “If it works, it’s heroism, if it fails it was stupidity” doctrine. Brilliant.

        • anaphysik says:

          I was going to make a disparaging comment to the same effect, but stopped when I realized human culture tends to work the same way :/

          (Although viewed less as ‘heroism’ and more as ‘brilliance.’)

          • Thomas says:

            I think it’s not far from being an okay system. If you make the gamble and hope to save lives, then if it comes off wrong you should bear some of the burden of the deaths the occurred. I like to think his crew were just a bit over passionate though and if he hadn’t lost control of his squad, then he wouldn’t have been thought less of for trying the gamble.

            …saying that, it’s suggested that a lot of the military thought less of Victus for not playing it by the book, even when he was successful

          • IFS says:

            I am reminded of one of my favorite books, Catch 22
            “So we give him a medal for flying around twice”

  14. Spammy says:

    So, a few random comments.

    Even if they make no sense, I think the Reaper dragons at least sound and look cool. I like that howl and how they look like they were made out of Bionicle pieces. I think I saw that face on a Bionicle creature once.

    Oh yeah, and this is extraordinarily random, but… That psace on the Turian head where our ears are? Beneath the plates on the head? Every time I see that area in a cutscene I find myself wanting to touch it because I have no mental counterpart for how the texture they gave it feels.

    And since Josh picked up a heat sink, can I voice an entirely too late criticism of the ammo system they added? If the ammo count is supposed to be disposable heat sinks, shouldn’t the mechanics instead be identical to Mass Effect 1 except for that instead of waiting for a gun to coll down you can just pitch its heat sink and slap in a new one? That would seem like an interesting mechanic, theoretically infinite ammo but with a finite amount of fast reloads.

    • Raygereio says:

      Recharging ammo is actually still in the game. It’s just disabled. You can edit the coalesced.ini file of ME2 and 3 and enable it.

      And yeah, it does provide a more interesting mechanic in my opinion.

    • Khizan says:

      The ‘heat sink’ idea irritates me because all they had to do was call it a ‘coolant cartridge’ and it would have been perfect. It’s no longer “Why can’t I just re-use heat sinks after they cool?”, it’s “It’s out of coolant and doesn’t function anymore.”

      One thing I like, though, is that there’s a scene later on with Conrad Verner where he asks about what those heat sink things are, and Shepard has to explain that yes, they are actually an upgrade.

      The thing that always irritated me about them is that they’re universal and not universal. I should have one giant pool of ammo that everything draws from, since they all use the same heatsinks, but nope.

      • Aldowyn says:

        That’s been my issue with the system. You shouldn’t have individual bullets, you should have a full bank of heat sinks. If you want to handwave it as there being different types of heat sinks for different types of weapons, that’s okay since forcing people to use different weapons is a legitimate thing to do, but at LEAST do that. And don’t keep leftover bullets in a magazine if you’re doing a heat sink system, that’s just dumb.

      • Deadfast says:

        I distinctly remember the Spectre assault rifle I had on Illos in the original Mass Effect. It was impossible to overheat. That’s one hell of an upgrade.

        Also, why does every single comment I post get moderated lately? :(

    • Open Source Idiom says:

      “Reaper Dragons”?

      Harvesters are in the second game, though you can’t fight them. They turn up in a couple of random Cerberus-type missions, like the one where you wade through the misty swamp, and spawn slug-like alien things onto the map.

  15. Even says:

    On the question: Ignorance would be a bliss at this point. I doubt it would have fared very well on its own though if it was a carbon copy. When the main thing keeping people around are the recurring characters you’d suddenly have a lot of folks with very little exposition acting like they’re important somehow and that you’re supposed to be familiar with them. The game already relies a lot on the earlier games to make sense out of things. The game would probably need to be cut from about half of its cast and the remaining half would need a lot of rewriting, which would make it a whole different experience altogether and possibly even a lot better overall game.

  16. zob says:

    If this were a stand alone game we’d still be pissed at Kai Leng and his stupid cutscene immortality. That’s bad writing.

    • Thomas says:

      Definitely. And I reckon the crucible introduction wouldn’t be thought of well (although it would be thought of better, because at least it’s not like they had 2 games to introduce it)

    • Vect says:

      The problem with Kai Leng (besides being annoying to deal with) is that he doesn’t go beyond “Boss Guy”. He’s like Harbinger in the last game: Just some annoying asshole you fight.

      I would expect that he’d be slightly less insufferable if there was at least an opportunity to talk to him. Either through comms or pre-fight banter. Like, he’d have dialog corresponding to your teammates (“If it isn’t the cuttlebone”, “So you brought that blue whore along”) and make taunts depending on actions. At the least, it’d give the audience good reason to know him other than “Boss guy who stabbed Character X in that scene”.

      • zob says:

        Difference between Harbinger and Kai Leng is Harbinger cheats in universe. He controls random mook X and when X dies he jumps on mook Y. You never face Harbinger 1on1. Kai Leng blatantly cheats. You can’t kill him, you can’t kill his guardian angel gunship. He activates invincibility code when he likes.

        I don’t think dialogue can fix that.

        • Thomas says:

          Yeah, Kai Leng is on another level of bad. It’s weird it’s been common knowledge for years now that one of the worst things you can do in a game is a have a boss fight where you beat the boss and he kicks your arse in a cutscene afterwards. That’s such an outdated thing to do I can’t believe they put such a jarring example in this game.

          Everything that Kai Leng’s character does, sucks. But he served some nice plot roles. TIM trying to live his Shepard dream through Kai Leng was cool. Kai Leng being a Shepard counterpart whose nowhere near as good because he’s just too much of a dick was good. The way everyone kept saying ‘Oh no! Kai Leng’ was good if he had actually had the skills to back it up.

          Just the guy himself couldn’t fill those roles and also they’d already cut out all motivation reactions from the bad guys in the middle 20 hours of the game, so there was no way they were going to waste time on KL.

          The best thing about KL is how quickly and easily you can kill him in the end, making him look like an absolute tool. Also renegade interrupt (not picking that interrupt is stupid though)

          • IFS says:

            Although the cutscene that sets up that interrupt is stupid, what happened to the shepard that told his squad to “make sure he’s dead”?

            • Thomas says:

              Thats why it only works if you actually use the interrupt. If you use it, it makes it look like everyone knew KL wasn’y quite out of it and Shepard was just taunting the guy in his last few moments. If you don’t use it, it makes it look like Shepard and his squadmates have been replaced with MGS guards

              • IFS says:

                Either way shepard looks stupid, if you were going to taunt someone whose primary way of killing people is to stab them, why would you let him get within stabbing distance? Just shoot him when he first stands up, don’t let him get within stabbing distance of your vital orans and hope you are faster than him.

                • Thomas says:

                  I think showboating is well within the bounds of normal narrative, Kai Leng didn’t get close to laying a blow on Shepard. It was like the Chuck Norris vs Bruce Lee thing where Chuck Norris is a mangled mess on the floor and Bruce Lee lets him stand up, take a swing and then completely goes to town on him

          • Vect says:

            Hell, if they really wanted to make him out to be legitimately skilled, then they could at least have done away with the Gunship. It made him look both cowardly and just plain cheap, and not in the “he’s crafty” kinda way.

            If nothing, Anderson could have added a few words on how he’s tangled with him in the past or show a video of him pre-Cyborg Ninja stabbing Turians and Krogans like he supposedly could in the books. Something to make him more than “Boss Guy”. Or at least make him a boss that can legitimately put up a challenging fight by himself without resorting to Cutscene Powers, though I get the feeling that’s pretty much impossible to do with the combat system of the game.

  17. StashAugustine says:

    I do think that a lot of the criticism ME2 and 3 get is because they’re different in tone to ME1. ME1 is a lot more space opera and has more of a tightly written plot. 2 and 3 are much less plot oriented and darker, but focus more on the character writing.

    • Aldowyn says:

      I’m going to agree here. A lot, not all but a lot, of the issues with ME2 and ME3 come not from inherent issues with themselves, but differences in comparison to ME2, which was that much slower, more thoughtful type of game. Star Trek to Star Wars, if you will.

    • Eric says:

      What is the difference in tone exactly? Sure, Mass Effect 1 was basically a cheesy sci-fi TV show in videogame form, and Mass Effect 2 and 3 were more action-oriented, but aside from being generally just way stupider, and having better combat, I honestly do not see much difference.

      “Moronic plot and villains with motivations that make no sense, lack of direction and forethought, disrespect for the lore and constant retcons” etc. do not result in a difference in tone, but rather a difference in quality of storytelling.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I don’t know if it’s tone. However, the first time I played ME1 right into ME2, I near got whiplash. There is definitely a major shift. ME2 is much faster, much smaller or confined, and much more gun-happy. Is it clarifying to say it feels similar to the switch from the original Battlestar Galactica to the rebooted version?

      • ehlijen says:

        It goes from space being this vast open place to explore and colonise to being just an opportunity to add extra glowy bits and colours to the skybox. Maybe.

        In ME1 worlds are sparesely built up, often with minutes of driving between building groups. Even on Feros the actual inhabited parts were spread out amongst the ancient ruins. It made the planets a tad boring maybe, but it fit the idea of humanity having just taken to the stars.

        In ME2, the first mission is inside a super huge space station built by a small splinter faction. It is followed by a ‘new’ colony with lots of hab-crate buildings piled on top of each other by a bad tetris player. The game goes from humanity spreading out into the vast unknown to humans overcrowding space whereever they land.

        In ME3 we have colonies piled up to become actual slum cities (eg Benning). This is less than 2 generations after FTL travel was discovered.

        At least visually that was a big swtichover that annoyed many people I believe.

        • Thomas says:

          I have to be honest, if I wasn’t a farmer(farmers would spread out though) I’d want to be around other people in a fairly tight area when newly settled. There’s security and convenience and social easieness (plus it’s cheap, and settling is an expensive business, if I was rich and my butler did the shopping and importing materials to a whole new other planet was a cost that I could discount, I’d build a huge estate with gates all the way around).

          If you look when we first settled Western towns, or the sort of housing we used after WW2 when we had to house a lot of people very quickly, they were all cheap closely stacked together buildings.

          EDIT: I’m supporting the ME2 colonies not the ME3 ones. In principle I’m fine with the housing in Benning, but paving everything with all that metal?

          • ehlijen says:

            However those towns tended to have clearly visible and defined edges. ME1 did right in showing us the edge before letting us fight into the town centre (and always keeping an uncluttered horizon on hand). That first colony you go to in ME2 was just Downtown box central. It might have been undeveloped planet otherwise, we don’t know. The game didn’t show us. The automatic assumption for me at least was therefore that this box city was huge.

            In old westerns, even shots of the towns try to have some bleak countryside visible between buildings so we don’t forget this is the wild west. In star wars we saw mos eisley surrounded by sand in the distance first. If the movie had started in the cantina, we wouldn’t have understood Luke’s whining about tatooine being the back end of nowhere.

  18. Is Rutskarn coming back? This is going to sound weird, but I’m one of those “re-watch Spoiler Warning as a podcast” people, and without Mumbles or Rutskarn, something’s missing: A higher octave range.

    Listening to the commentary is like a freestyle jazz composition of jokes, complaints, and occasional bits of praise (sometimes for other games), and now its all in the lower registry. The group needs a soprano or at least a tenor to help differentiate the alto and bass tracks.

    Maybe autotune would help? :)

  19. Hmm, I see you seem to be running short of people on the show… and I happen to be a Tenor. But backup singers are only the beginning.

    What you really need is a secondary layer of backup crew for each cast member. I’m imagining each person with an earbud connected to a seperate voice chat supported by a team of experts. Think about it, any one of you could be a Gestalt instead of an individual! A technological melding, a synthesis, if you will.

  20. Carnadan says:

    It should be pretty obvious that sniper was using an ME1 rifle. He fired more than one shot in 30 seconds, so now he has to dink around for 5 minutes waiting for cooldown.

    • meyerkev says:

      So I only played ME1/2 as a Vanguard because I liked Shotguns.

      How annoying WAS Infiltrator in ME1 given the ridiculous cooldowns? It almost seems like all the damage from the first shot would recharge before your 2nd shot.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        It’s only partial mitigation, but once you got some decent skill and mods, the sniper rifle was quite effective. To this day, I consider the ice-fortress geth outpost in the Armstrong Nebula to be best solved with a sniper.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I used pistols for most engagements and only used sniper rifles when I needed long range or high damage (hello, Assassination.)

      • anaphysik says:

        I Vanguard’d my way through ME1 using only pistols and powers. It wasn’t until halfway through my second playthrough that I learned of CARNAGE.

    • Atarlost says:

      I’ve only seen it in SW, not played the game, but I got the impression someone, probably Garus, countersniped him.

    • Eric says:

      Hold on a second, why didn’t that Cerberus sniper shoot at Shepard during the cutscene? Surely all Cerberus troops know what Shepard looks like, and he/she was just standing around… so one shot, one kill for the nameless Turian standing five feet away, and give up the chance to end Shepard now? Cerberus incompetence knows no bounds!

      • Thomas says:

        No this is canon. TIM hasnt got over his Shepard crush, he still believes that Shepard would work with him and respect him if he could just see his way and he’s given the order not to kill Shepard at this point because ‘he could still be useful’

        Which I found very cool… but this is all only at the end of the game. You have to go through the whole game with stupid Cerberus and it’s right in the second last mission where they remember that they’d built up a complex character for their leader

        • StashAugustine says:

          A lot of the dumb stuff Cerberus does is more or less justified at the end, but by then it’s really too little too late.

          • Thomas says:

            Yeah, this is pretty much my game experience with Cerberus. 20 hours of ‘oh gosh this is terrible, why on earth are they making this happen? So much potential being ruined’ … then 5 minutes right at the end of ‘oh, I guess they did use that potential then. Wish I’d known about that earlier’

            … I tell a lie, it’s a little more than 5 minutes. Last TIM conversation was epic.

      • Piflik says:

        That must have been the worst sniper in history. If it was me taking these shots, I would have first targeted the dude hacking around on that keyboard, instead of the two dudes just standing guard…

  21. Open Source Idiom says:

    Cut Content Time!

    Amusingly, Chris hits upon it here: these two missions were originally a lot different to how they panned out in this game. The bomb mission, I’m not to sure on the specifics, but the “rescuing” of the Primarch’s son was a bit more complicated. The Primarch, discovering his son’s failings, would have compelled Shepard/some of Victus’s squadmates to kill the guy, leading to a moral choice. Presumably this would have had an impact on the Bomb mission and on the peace talks.

    Speaking of cut content, Palaven’s moon was also going to be a bit more involved in terms of content, including a Harvester Battle that would have served as a boss fight.

    Basically the Turians got shafted both in game and in terms of content.

    Edit: Oh yeah, and I think there’s some implication that he was shot down by his own side. Or something. There are various versions of the thing in the text.

  22. ehlijen says:

    As wierd as it is, I think the bomb not exploding if you never rescue Victus was the right call from a gameplay perspective. They deliberatly didn’t want to reveal the bombs existence until then, which means without a ‘you didn’t do this thing before the last mission, now the Krogan are screwed’ is just to late a consequence to make players not feel ‘had’.

    There’s already a few moments of ‘doing this mission negatively effects your ability to win the game’ (after Tuchanka a few questgivers on the citadel die, after rannoch whatever geth missions you don’t do are gone (thhough this one you can at least see coming). Any more and players will lose all trust in which missions are ‘safe’.

    • Thomas says:

      This is one of the big flaws of most RPGs is they negatively reward you for progressing plot. I absolutely never ever do a story mission until I’ve done everything I can before it, because half the time, story progression will prevent you from ever completing those missions.

      …this led to ME2 being even more stupid for me, because I’d completed every single mission I wanted to before doing the Reaper IFF. So Miranda suddenly plonking everyone in a shuttle for ‘where you want to go to next’ was completely ridiculous because I didn’t want to go anywhere.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh comparing the bomb to turian ice maker made me think of benders “Deploying ice drill”.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,lets judge me3 as a stand alone game:

    The good:
    - The shooty bits look like an improved version of me2,which I mostly like,so thats a plus.
    - Characters are good to great.
    - Random things they do between missions is a nice touch,and sometimes really funny.
    - Graphics is mostly good,ignoring this ridiculous face you guys have.
    - Sound and voice acting are good.
    - Leveling up and weapon customization are good.

    The bad and the ugly:
    - The story is incoherent,full of plot holes,even when not tied with the previous two games.
    - Side quests are idiotic,at best.
    - Pinging for planets is a stupid waste of time.
    - The dlcs.First,javik and leviathan are things crucial to the plot,and they are removed and sold as dlcs,which is bad enough.But second,because these crucial elements are sold separately,they are watered down,and turned into inconsequential things which is even worse.Thats a biig minus.
    - The awesomely idiotic button.If it were the days of old 2 button controllers Id get the reasoning,but these days controllers have more buttons than a keyboard,so what the hell?

    So overall,not a praiseworthy game.Slightly above average,yes,but nothing stellar.In fact,without me1,I wouldnt give this game a second glance.

    If you want an above the average stand alone game worth your time,go play FTL.It may not be a shooter,but if you are into space combat and crew management,thats a game for you.

    • StashAugustine says:

      I basically agree with what you said, yet I really liked ME3. It basically comes down to not caring too much about the plot and really enjoying characters and atmosphere (which are unfortunately shortchanged when you just watch the game.) It comes down to what kind of things you want.

      And yeah, FTL is pretty good. Only complaint is that it’s bastard tough to get the alternate ship types.

      • anaphysik says:

        “not caring too much about the plot and really enjoying characters and atmosphere”

        I’d buy that for ME2. Walking around Omega *is* pretty cool. Talking to Legion and Mordin and Zaeed *is* pretty cool.

        But imo ME3 is pretty shit in all three of those features. I see characterization being butchered left and right, and a wildly inconsistent tone, which when it is consistent is either laughably ‘emotional’ or laughably brick-headed.

        • Thomas says:

          I had StashAugustine’s experience. (Apart from the horrible greyness of all the level design, which was a constant knife in the tone for me). I ended up enjoying it more than ME2 and then it even improved how much I enjoyed ME2

  25. Zaxares says:

    1:50: Heh… That was EXACTLY why the Blackstart heavy weapon is in that scene, Josh. ;) For you to use on the Harvester, instead of wasting it on a Brute and a bunch of Cannibals.

    2:36: Yeah… Having a Harvester around makes playing as a Charge-Nova Vanguard extremely risky. They have a near-continuous rate of fire that deals very high damage with each shot, so if they catch you out in the open with your shields down, it’s certain death.

    3:50: I’m with you on that, Chris. Personally my Shepard would have REFUSED to go down there to save Victus’s son unless the Primarch coughed up some more details about why they were down there in the first place. Given how Cerberus seems to have moles/spies everywhere and indoctrinated people have shown up in the most unlikely of places, I wouldn’t have put it past Victus to have been secretly working with the enemy or tried to make a bargain with the Reapers by offering them Shepard in exchange for lifting the siege on Palaven.

    Note that the game doesn’t force you to do this mission. You either need to do this mission or Wrex’s mission to unlock the next plot-critical mission, and I’d trust my buddy Wrex a thousand times over some turian general whom I know next to nothing about.

    15:14: You know, if I hadn’t seen a Mythbusters episode busting that very scene about the bamboo cannon, I would have NEVER got the joke, Shamus. ;)

    18:25: Yeah, I agree that bomb looked kinda ridiculous. :P The story behind it kinda makes sense, but the sheer size of it would have made it rather impractical to hide for so long. It would have required MASSIVE earthworks to hide it, and it’d be rather tough to conceal that from the krogan, some of whom MUST have gotten suspicious of what was going on here. Not to mention that afterwards, there’s always the risk that during excavations or restoration work, somebody stumbles upon the bomb buried beneath the rubble. (Unless you post sentries here to keep away nosy people, but again, that runs the risk of the krogan suspecting something’s not right.)

    19:30: I disagree about the “filler mission” part, Chris, but I DO agree that this mission would have had more impact if, say, it was Garrus who gave you this mission, which comes after the genophage has been cured. Cerberus is trying to sabotage the treaty between the turians and krogan, and so when news of this comes to light, Garrus comes to you and says, “We have to stop this before blah blah blah.” It would have made the mission much more compelling, especially if there was also a choice between Garrus sacrificing himself to save the bomb or letting it detonate. (Of course, to keep fans happy, there should also be an option where you can save Garrus if Shepard is an Engineer or if you brought a tech specialist like EDI with you who can disarm the bomb in time.)

  26. Eärlindor says:

    “HEY SHEPARD, I USED CAUTION AND CLEVER TACTICS INSTEAD OF BRUTE FORCE AND MOST OF MY MEN DIED! IMMA FAILURE!!!

    But… if you just jumped in wouldn’t you all be dead? So isn’t it better off this way? HOW IS IT DISHONORABLE TO FIGHT SMART? SINCE WHEN DID TURIANS BECOME SO STUPID???

    /yelling_off

    Ahem. Sorry.

    • Alphadrop says:

      Surely the Turians are the greatest military minds ever.
      Oh wait suddenly this is starting to make a creepy sense.
      The Turians are crap, from what we’ve seen their airfields comprise of six dinky craft thingies, they can’t take cover from a sniper and in ME1 it was stated they lost to the humans on first contact (by not realising how flanking works or something) yet the other races see them as the best of the best.
      So the other races must be worse.
      Which explains why Cerberus can get everywhere, because all the other races and god awful at doing anything vaguely military like defending their homeworld.
      Q.E.D

      • Otters34 says:

        Not quite that, just that they underestimated human population and fleet size. They sent more than enough ships to beat the living Hell out of the fleet around Shanxi, and defeated the soldiers on the planet with ease(using their in-Codex military skill and ruthlessness). Then the rest of the Systems Alliance fleet showed up and drove the turians off. The Hierarchy were going to bring their whole force to bear on the Alliance when the other Council races intervened, saving humanity from being beaten to a bloody pulp. Which is why turians and humans are so mad at each other. The humans for being treated so badly, and the turians for the First Contact War ending on a note of(to their minds) false hope for humans.

        Thing is, the Reapers are the kind of army where all the discipline, eons of martial skill and total dedication to destroying your enemy(which are things the turians are very good at) do not matter in the least. Everyone is losing, everyone is being crushed inexorably under the Reapers, even the best soldiers in the galaxy from the most powerful fighting species’.

        That and the turians are used primarily in the series to show how good humans are. I mean, the son of a turian general being promoted by nepotism makes NO sense given their culture, which actively seeks out and demotes people not able to do their job right. He would have failed at some drill and been bumped down the ranks in an instant if by now the culture of the turians mattered in the slightest to the writers.

  27. Michael says:

    Aww, you missed the new rifle at the beginning of the map… :p

    The game throws the incisor rifle from one of the ME2 DLC bundles and the digital deluxe edition at the player early in the map. As far as I know it’s always there. It’s one of the burst fire Sniper Rifles, for whatever that’s worth.

    EDIT: there’s probably something to be said about how ME3 throws all of the DLC weapons (and I think all of the armor IIRC) from ME2 at the player. But, I’m not sure what that is anymore… :|

  28. RCN says:

    The problem with Mass Effect is that it transitioned from being a smart RPG with shooter elements to smart shooter with RPG elements… and the gauge we use for “smart” to both genres are on completely different scales.

    (Spec-Ops: The Line, from what I’ve heard since I don’t really have the money spare to buy it yet, would be a genius shooter)

  29. Dasick says:

    I think it’s very important to evaluate games on their own, by the criteria they set out to do, ignoring other games on the market. With that being said:

    -Combat:

    The awesome button. It just makes the game feel very clunky. What I want to do, and how the game interprets my intentions is off in all sorts of minor and major ways. Also, a less noticed thing, is that using the powers is also kind of sluggish and unresponsive.

    The shooting has nice sounds and feeling of punch and weight when you press the trigger. There’s lack of feedback in terms of the game telling you that you hit or missed (I know they do the CoD crosshair thignie, but it just doesn’t have the impact). Not applied to sniper rifles and headshots :)

    The tactics of the game are a little bit flat. Most powers’ primary goal is to deal damage. The secondary effects are interesting in theory, but they rarely end up doing anything interesting, because the target is either dead or immune to the effects, in which case you stop running-n-mowing and have to grab some cover to play whack-a-mole.

    The enemy variety is actually a strong point of the combat. Even Cerberus, which are your basic PMC grunts, have very interesting troop ideas and tactics(smoke screen anyone?); each enemy has their own personality, and within each faction each enemy type feels distinct.

    There are a lot of interesting elements thrown in, but their execution, and even philosophy, prevents them from clicking with each other. It has the elements if a “smart” shooter, just not the execution.

    -Story:

    Most of the character development is based on previous games, so it’s kind of hard to judge it independently. However, Shepard, TIM and Kai Leng are all huge author insert/ego stroking Mary Sues. Also, a lot of the “character development” is throwbacks to previous games and blatant fan service.

    Ending still sucks.

    Cerberus makes a bit more sense because you can assume away much of their incompetence.

    However, there are still some very interesting themes and discussions taking place within the game.

    -Choices you make:

    Wait, you make actual choices, that somehow affect the rest of the game in a meaningful way? Well, given the lack of the retcon of your previous choices, you’re left feeling with way more agency. Plus, the whole war asset system is a more organic but tangible way to impact the final outcome.

    Conclusion

    Overall Mass Effect 3 is the ending the series and its fans deserve. Pfft- hahaha.

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