I know my thoughts were really rambling and unfocused when we got to the underground section. Let me try to sand the corners off of this ugly bit of criticism:
They step off the highway and go down a flight of stairs into a section called “the city of the ancients”. The idea that it’s basically sitting under a highway but that it’s completely mysterious is just goofy to me. Who called it “city of the ancients”? And then after all the build-up that this is THE CITY OF THE ANCIENTS, it turns out it’s just a couple of palette-cleansing tunnels. This isn’t really a plot hole or anything. It’s just that the characters tried to heap so much significance on such a small and inconsequential space. Nobody mentioned it before, or after. It didn’t have any bearing on the ongoing adventure.
Also, Liara marvels at the painting, surprised that the Krogan had an artistic side. I wanted to bop her on the head for being so racist. Or perhaps, for being so dismissive of their capacity for architecture, which was apparent long before we got to this small scribble on the wall.
And now for my big gripe about Tuchanka:
BioWare, you have an art problem. It’s really bad. You need to fix it as fast as possible. It is completely bonkers to spend all these millions on scenery and then bleed out the contrast and ram the whole thing through a color filter.
Why is the sky the same color as the foreground? Why are the plants the same color as the dirt? Why is the dirt the same color as the stonework? And for that matter, why is the stonework all one color? Nothing here “pops”, and thus the whole thing feels flat and boring. Why is all of it the exact same saturation? Even the fog is the same color. Just… why? Why would you do this?
We’re looking at the surface of an alien world, torn by centuries of endless warfare, and it looks completely generic and uninspiring. You were trying so hard to evoke a sense of wonder with that crap about THE CITY OF THE ANCIENTS in your generic dark empty underground rubble-hallways. You could have accomplished so much more if you’d just kept the maniac with the color-filter away from this vista.
Allow me to bring out an example of a good ruin:
The player stands out against cover, which stands out against the sand, which contrasts sharply with the plane, which stands out against the flowing black smoke, which contrasts sharply against the crisp blue sky. Different colors. Different brightness. Different saturation levels. Boom. Depth and visual clarity in a crumbling ruin.
Good art is hard to make. It’s even worse to see it defaced like this. Please, please. Find the art-murderer in your dev team and stop him before he kills again.