Mass Effect EP5: Failure is the Only Option

By Shamus
on Oct 2, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

51 comments

Close your eyes and imagine a graphics card. Picture a nice, high-end card, preferably something in red. Perhaps it’s inside a computer, humming along, the fan spinning, processing gig-pixels and rendering bling-mapped ray tracings or whatever it is those things do. Can you see it? Good. Now imagine the same card, except on fire. You will notice that the card no longer runs Crysis at max settings. You may also notice that your computer no longer works right and you can’t edit Spoiler Warning episodes this week.

I don’t know what Josh did, but his graphics card is borked and he’s waiting for the replacement to arrive. In the meantime, we’ll just re-post old episodes from season one. Those are just as good, right?


Link (YouTube)

Note at the top of the episode, Randy and I had a little generational misunderstanding. He was talking about Battlefield, and I was talking about Battlezone. You know, this thing:

battlezone.jpg

I could try to describe to you just how slow computers were in 1980, but by the time I was finished, Intel would have released the new Core i8 processors and I’d have to start over. To give a sense of scale, we’re talking about the difference between a sandal and a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. I still get dizzy when I think about just how fast things have changed in my lifetime.

With regard to Mass Effect and the cutscene in this episode, I feel the need to point out a few flaws.

  1. The cutscene has you blundering into a trap…
  2. …along with the rest of your squad…
  3. …while holding the wrong weapon…
  4. …and staring into derpspace while the bad guys flank you.

Whew. I sure am glad they fixed that nonsense in the sequels.

EDIT: After Randy’s death at thirteen minutes, I’m pretty sure we reverted back to the last checkpoint, which was the very beginning of the episode. We don’t usually edit episodes these days, but I’m pretty sure there was a great big cut between the death and “round 2”.

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Footnotes:



20201151 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ahh,mako.If only people knew what they would replace it with,theyd appreciate it much more.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      On the other hand, there is great fun to be had in probing Uranus.

    • Mintskittle says:

      To be slightly fair, the hover tank in the Firewalker dlc, which I believe was free, had much better controls. Too bad it was only used in a couple of custom side missions and the Overlord dlc.

      Also, I did not hate the Mako.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        On a PC maybe. On a PS3, that shit sucked. I could not aim that gun for the life of me.

      • topazwolf says:

        You mean that stupid thing that blew up if someone sneezed at it? I’m joking, but on high difficulty it is entirely possible to be destroyed by a group of enemies with assault rifles. Fun to drive, not really fun to do combat missions in (most of my enjoyment with it was in the overlord dlc when it suddenly became used for platforming).

        Though I did not find it terribly difficult to aim. The only time I found it inhospitable at all was when I was being forced to use it to shoot from a mile away so that I could avoid being hit by a few stray bullets and dying.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh yes,the firewalker was a step in the right direction.If only they focused on that instead of the probing.

      • Irridium says:

        It did control better, I just wish it was made out of something sturdier than styrofoam.

        • Mike S. says:

          It would also be nice if you could a) save while in the Hammerhead or b) get out and walk around (and take the opportunity to save). b) would of course be better and a nice callback to the first game’s planetary environments, but would presumably be a lot more work.

          But the lack of either was intensely frustrating when I needed to stop playing, but was stuck at a point where I needed to get through whatever platforming, laser-blasting, volcanic, or geth-infested obstacle was standing between me and the next landing point.

  2. AJ_Wings says:

    As much hate as the Mako sections, which is totally justifiable and accurate in some ways, I still genuinely miss it. It added much needed variety to the gameplay. Yes, the level design in the mako sections were contrived and monotonous but it still gave me the feeling of being part of an incredibly large and alien planet.

    The mako sections just needed to be re-designed from the ground up. Fix the physics, add actual level design to the areas instead of a one big tunnel, emphasize resource exploration a bit more. It could’ve worked out but like every un-polished good idea, it’s disappointing that bioware just dumped them out in the sequels. Shame, since they had lots of potential.

    • KaleNich says:

      Yep, the great BiowEAre stategy nowadays: if its broken/boring, dont fix it just dump it (and replace it with something totally different but equally broken/boring).

  3. zob says:

    I know it’s weird but I always liked Mako sections.

    • Luhrsen says:

      The Mako sections mostly got easier if you played them multiple times and figured out where the hidden roads were. :P If only the terrain marked on the map was more accurate.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hmmm,I dont remember geth leaping around in later games.Did they make the enemies a bit dumber in the sequels?

    • Adam says:

      Dumber? No. But they did restrict their movement a whole lot. In the series’ transition from rpg-shooter to cover-based-shooter-with-talking, they made cover much more necessary, which makes enemies like the Geth Hoppers much too dangerous. The new design philosophy as of ME2 (haven’t played ME3, so I can’t comment) seems to be that breaking through cover -or rather, being able to damage you through it- is limited to boss encounters.

  5. OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! AAAAAIIIIIIEEEEEEE LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVE BATTLLLLEZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNE!!! :DDDDD

    *Ahem*

    Use to play it all the time as a kid. ^_^

    • Paul Spooner says:

      For me it was “Specter Challenger” but that’s probably fifteen years later. The sad thing is, the mechanics are fundamentally very similar even today.

    • FalseProphet says:

      I used to love playing it in the arcade. Something about those old games with the wireframe graphics made 7-year-old me think I was in a real military simulation.

      Damn, I miss arcades.

    • I briefly owned a Battlezone arcade game (found at a garage sale for $35!!!!) that just needed a few bits fixed at a local video game dealer.

      I eventually had to make room for more “grown up” stuff, but while we had it, it was pretty fun at parties. I don’t know if it was the hardware or the cabinet, but MAN that thing could pump out bass like you wouldn’t believe. People three blocks away felt it when your tank exploded.

  6. Irridium says:

    I loved the Mako sections. They gave the game a sense of bigness that I felt was lacking in ME2 and 3. Made it feel like an actual galaxy, filled with planets.

    The Mako sections are also something I’ve always dreamed about and would love to do, but I would never be able to. Just exploring planets, going where nobody has gone before, walking on another world… The Mako sections let me live that fantasy out, let me be that explorer I’ve always dreamed of being since I was a kid.

    I know they weren’t perfect and could have been way better, and I don’t begrudge anyone who didn’t like them, but they let me live out a childhood (and adulthood, really) dream. And that’s why I love it.

    • IFS says:

      Yes, exactly this, the Mako had problems, mostly that it was a rubber brick that has as much weight as the hammerhead has armor, and the planets needed better artistic direction, generally being all one or two colors, but they were fun to explore and replacing the Mako with scanning was a terrible idea.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Ah, the Hammerhead. I fucking hate that thing. I wish it was never thought up.

      • Mike S. says:

        I kind of loved the rubber brick dynamics. (Which could mostly be justified via some creative interpretations of mass effect tech, which is– I’ve always assumed– what’s mostly stopping you from feeling those tumbles inside the tank.) All I’d have added is some companion dialog commenting on Shepard’s driving skills.

        (Something Lair of the Shadow Broker in ME2 got right in the car chase scene. Given that Makos made a reappearance on Earth in ME3, I wish they’d given us a last chance to drive one there.)

        The Mako could also be fun to play with– e.g., using it to run over a geth Colossus, then getting out and finishing it off on foot while it struggled to right itself. Completely unjustifiable from a role-playing perspective, unless Shepard is being played as certifiable. But nevertheless amusing. Also useful for XP-grubbing if you’re trying to maximize your level for an ME2 import.

        The problem, such as it was, was the planet designs– too many random mountain ranges blocking access to too many identical buildings full of identical mercs. (The ME2 and ME3 missions may have been more linear and less expansive, but at least they didn’t all look alike.) Though there’s nothing like being a high-level ME1 Adept and throwing one of those mercs over the horizon. (Except, perhaps, realizing that he’s not quite dead and you have to find him and finish him off before you can continue with the mission. :-) )

        And sometimes the planets would have fun features– the Odd Skull, the Prothean pyramid that ties into the Consort’s trinket, the Shifty-Looking Space Cow (that picks your pocket of credits if you let him get too close!)

        I’m nowhere near as negative on 2 and 3 as many here are, but I would certainly have liked to see more exploration missions in both. (And I’d take something like the Mako in a heartbeat over the flying crate of gelignite that is the Hammerhead.)

        • IFS says:

          If you think getting out to shoot a colossus on foot is bad I once got out of the mako to engage a geth dropship on foot with my shotgun, while it was raining gunfire and geth troops down on me, even better I won that fight.

          Companion banter in the mako would have been hilarious, though I do remember a few side planets in ME1 had some companion comments as to your actions. I remember one where I was supposed to search a group of pyjaks (the monkey creatures) to find a data disk, instead I just shot a group of them with the mako’s cannon, an action that netted me 8 renegade points, as well as the comments “Nice shot” from Wrex and “That was a little harsh” from Tali.

          • Mike S. says:

            I’m very suggestible where Paragon status is concerned, as evidenced by the fact that I could never bring myself to kill the space monkeys in ME1, but had no problem gunning them down for Ratch on Tuchanka in ME2.

            (Getting Renegade points from conversations, or even issues I disagreed with the game on like Legion’s loyalty mission was no problem. But killing innocent space monkeys? That’s apparently Going Too Far.)

          • anaphysik says:

            YOU KILLED THE SPACE MONKEYS?!>?!>!? You horrible bastard!

            The pyjak assignment on Tuchanka is I believe the only sidequest I’ve been offered but never done in any of the Mass Effects. (A few like the background missions and the Paragon lab mission I also haven’t done, but that’s because I never got them.)

            • Mike S. says:

              But they’re eating the Urdnot food stores, mildly inconveniencing a merchant. (Who might offer me a discount!) Also, you have to do it to get Urz the varren to follow you around Tuchanka.

              (We will gloss over Shepard’s ongoing efforts since Feros to make varren an endangered species.)

    • Lame Duck says:

      For me, the effect was just to make the galaxy seem empty, it was filled with planets, but they were essentially the same planet copy-pasted over and over again. I wanted to explore, but there never seemed to be anything worth seeing, only generic rooms full of criminals to kill and boxes to hide behind, or yet more geth, or something that would make me play that damn hacking mini-game again. I wanted to find a remote alien colony and learn about its culture, or a science team researching some cool phenomenom, or a crashed spaceship to explore, or some big new (non-Thresher Maw) monster to fight. I wanted to like it, but the execution was so bad that it pretty seriously hurt my enjoyment of the game; I hard a much harder time caring about the fate of the galaxy when it seemed like such a boring place.

  7. Tse says:

    At 9:05 – That’s what she said!

  8. psivamp says:

    And this is as far as I got into Mass Effect 1. I think the last save I had was when I landed on this rock and so I was more than a little miffed at this sudden difficult bit that murdered me.

  9. IFS says:

    At least in the first game when the cutscenes had you holding the wrong weapon it was still a weapon you had equipped, and as far as I can remember virtually all of the cutscene stupidity was confined to these ambush cutscenes, which were unimportant to the plot.
    ME2 was probably the best in terms of cutscenes because they added interrupts to allow you to choose whether or not you wanted to suffer from cutscene stupidity, though it had its own share of bad cutscenes. ME3 promptly went and forgot all of the lessons that bioware learned for ME2 and went in the opposite direction, with very few interrupts, and some truly horrendous cases of cutscene stupidity.

  10. Dante says:

    Josh destroys everything he touches.

  11. Paul Spooner says:

    7:45 – Interesting that you used the term “pranking” instead of “trolling”. How quickly our terminology shifts these days.

  12. Even says:

    Everybody knows the red ones go faster.

  13. Hitchmeister says:

    It was a simpler, happier time when the worst thing about Mass Effect was the Mako. *sniff*

    • ehlijen says:

      I actually think the inventory system has the mako beat.

      • Mike S. says:

        The inventory system was probably the worst, though sticking pre-combat save points before unskippable cutscenes was a close second.

        (One of those should be coming up in the next episode. I may still have PTSD from hearing “Surrender. Or don’t– that would be more fun.” one too many times on my Insanity playthrough.)

        I won’t count clear bugs, like Throw sometimes embedding an enemy into the walls where it can’t escape or be damaged, stopping the game in its tracks.

  14. Spammy says:

    Ah, the Mako. Best story I have about the Mako’s physics being weird was a time where I had gone up a bump in such a way that the Mako wanted to lift up like I’d gone off a ramp and spin around. Think the car jump from The Man with the Golden Gun, but more vertical. But since the Mako can’t flip over like that, what it wound up doing was just spinning around the back corner like a ballerina. On the whole I think I liked having the Mako around, just for the sense of movement and exploration. Even if Mass Effect sucked at providing rewards for exploration.

    Also, all Big Enemies share a common weakness in Mass Effect 1: Throw and Lift. Knock ’em off their feet or lift them up into the air and they’re helpless. One of the reasons I took Liara everywhere, whenever there was big Geth or a Krogan she’d just lift it into the air and we’d all take turns shooting it like a clay pigeon.

  15. Mintskittle says:

    There was a trick to getting the Mako through those rocks if you run into the gap just right so you have it when you fight the colossus.

  16. As others here are saying, I also have fond memories of the Mako, warts and all.

    Perhaps the purpose of Mass Effect 3 was to make gamers long for the previous installments so much they’d buy the Galactic Edition or whatever they’re calling the trilogy pack they’re selling.

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