Mass Effect EP9: I Think We’re Going to Need More Bugspray

By Shamus
on Oct 15, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

93 comments


Link (YouTube)

Our re-posting project from 2010 continues. Here is the episode of infamy, where we decided to leave Kaiden on Virmire instead of Ashley, as originally planned. It’s true that his death was repealed for our Mass Effect 2 play-through, but it was re-instated for Mass Effect 3.

Looking back, I can’t help but think he was the lucky one.

EDIT: No, Kaiden is alive in our ME3 play-through. I forgot. I was confusing our Spoiler Warning run with my own play-through.

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  1. silver Harloe says:

    Apologies for the off-topic, but on the right-hand side, it used to show your last few twitter comments, now it just says “follow shamus on twitter:” (the colon implies something should follow, but it never happens anymore). I think the last time I saw something on there you were saying “now I have an article, but I shouldn’t be writing it on twitter” about something stupid MS was doing?

  2. anaphysik says:

    If Kaidan were still alive, he would likely suffer from stupid trust issues. So really, he’s the lucky one.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Non linearity?In my mass effect?

  4. Joneleth says:

    Wait, did I read that wrong? Did you guys kill Kaidan again? Awesome!

  5. Klay F. says:

    While we are still talking about Mass Effect, I’d like to bring up something I discovered while I was replaying ME2 about a week ago.

    I didn’t actually get through the entire game, but I still counted no less than 4 references to weird happenings related to dark energy (the most obvious was of course Tali’s recruitment mission). It was interesting hearing those references now that the original leaked ending is public knowledge. It seems to me that maybe (just maybe) Bioware did originally have something in mind for the end of the trilogy. I guess we will only be able to wonder at what prompted them to change the ending, as I can’t really imagine the script being leaked is actually what forced them to change it.

    • Dragomok says:

      The Catalyst ending (in the exactly same form it was implemented) also leaked (in December 2011) and everyone criticised it for being too extreme in the galaxy-wide catastrophe department; so no, the leak couldn’t have been the reason why Bioware ditched the one with dark energy.

    • anaphysik says:

      “Dark energy” is still a really tenuous connection. Dropping in a couple vague, go-nowhere references to it in the second game does not constitute proper thematic and narrative development. Which makes it par for the course for ME2 and ME3, but still…

      Although I’d like it if you could specify what the other references were; I’m blanking on them and it’d be nice to have the proper data in mind if I’m to pass solemn judgment like I just did :)

      (Wiki says dark energy interests on Noveria (talking to Parasini, who may be dead) and Object Rho (which is DLC and is stupid DLC).)

      I mean, I know the games attribute anything eezo-related (biotics, mass relays) to “Dark Energy Did It,” but it does so obliquely, rarely actually discussing it. If you want to run a major plot with it, then the vague hints regarding Haestrom’s sun/etc. need to be dropped *waaaaay* back in the first game so that you can build them up over time and explore the topic (e.g. perhaps with missions involving examination of mass relays and the network in the second game (now that you know they’re the Reapers tools), or discussions as to the origin of eezo, or whatever). You can’t drop vague musings in the second game and then make it the defining moment of the third. Moments of revelation only work if you’ve given the narrative thread proper, steady build-up. Buzzwords =/= build-up.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Wasn’t the change in edning directly tied to the lead writer of ME1 being sidelined in 2’s development and completely removed from 3’s development?

  6. Din Adn says:

    In ME1 I ended up choosing to save Kaidan for purely mechanical reasons.
    He’s a half-decent support caster, and I was playing a shooty shoot shoot guy.

    Usually I try to make decisions in-character.

    • theNater says:

      It’s entirely reasonable for Shepard to choose based on team efficacy. The galaxy is at stake, after all. Is it possible you made the decision in-character, and just didn’t notice?

    • Aldowyn says:

      Yeah Kaidan is pretty good as a support caster, since he has overload and … lift? Some biotic ability. Ashley is just a soldier and squadmates usually suck at shooting…

    • Spammy says:

      My counterargument from experience: The only abilities at all that really matter are Throw and Lift. Liara learns both, Wrex learns Throw. Play as the same class as Kaiden is and roll with those two and you basically embarrass every big enemy in the game to death, keeping them ragdolled to death.

      • Luhrsen says:

        I usually put Kaiden on the Salarian team as the most experienced, leaving Ashley at the bomb. And then I run back to Ashley at the decision because making sure nobody messes with the bomb is more important than saving the Salarian squad. Ashley is saved by default.

        • Even says:

          This is exactly what I did, except my reasoning was that a biotic would be more useful for the salarian team. With two fairly unremarkable characters, it only felt logical to pursue the mission instead of playing favorites.

        • anaphysik says:

          Same, exact opposite :P

          Put Kaidan with the bomb because he’s a tech expert, more experienced, and also because my Shep trusted him more. Sending Ashley with the diversion teams was just to give Kirrahe some extra fire support and another body to absorb bullets; did everything I could to sabotage the forces coming their way from the backlines, but there was no getting around the fact that some of his soldiers were going to die and it only made sense to lend my own soldier to his effort.
          (Also, if Kaidan went with Kirrahe, he certainly might be good for helping them kick ass, but he’d also be the obvious target for the enemy, and thus killed far too early; I also wouldn’t want the strike team he was on having to tactically plan around his skills instead of adapting a soldier to their own, and it would unbalance whichever strike team he was on.)

          Then went back to the bomb because, just like the others, that was the objective and I had to make sure it was safe. Had already done a lot to help Kirrahe’s team, so I’d already minimized their losses as best I could – honestly, if I were to go back to Ash, I’d really be doing it to go back for *Kirrahe*. The bomb is also the logical place for Saren to attack (to disable it and not lose his facility).

          Kirrahe made it out, so if Ash couldn’t pull through herself then I kind of figure that either she just got unlucky or she intentionally pulled a blaze-of-glory moment. Either seemed fitting to me.

          • Even says:

            If I recall they point it out that both knew how to operate the bomb so I don’t know if specific tech expertise was that vital.

            “but he’d also be the obvious target for the enemy, and thus killed far too early”

            That’s not really how it works if the leader and the team knows what they’re doing. This being STG, the best the Salarians’ got, I was putting trust in that they’d know what they’re doing and being able to adapt correctly. If adapting was an issue, then bringing ANYONE not familiar with their tactics and MO would put a serious hamper to their effectiviness. Ashley being soldier makes no meaningful difference here. She’s Alliance trained and probably not all up there with guerilla and whatever else tactics the STG uses in squad combat.

      • StashAugustine says:

        Yeah, but then you have to play Sentinel.

        • Spammy says:

          I played Sentinel… =( It wasn’t that hard… you get Lift and Throw and Sabotage and Marksman so you can just throw powers around…

          I WANTED TO BE THE MOST MAGICAL SPACE WIZARD OF ALL DON’T JUDGE ME

        • anaphysik says:

          Sentinel, Adept, and Vanguard *all* have both Throw and Lift, so there’s no real reason to stick to Sentinel like Spammy says.

          Honestly, ME1’s Vanguard is probably the closest class to ME2+’s Sentinel – a solid defensive class (medium armor and ME1-Barrier + Shield Boost) with good powers.

          (Well, actually, ME2-sentinel powers are just okay, but ME1-Vanguard powers are pretty good. Marksman, Carnage, Throw, Lift, Barrier, Adrenaline Rush, and Shield Boost are all great. (Nwver really found Warp useful, except as just ‘something else to cast’ when the other powers are cooling down.))

      • lurkey says:

        I got a lot of unexpected respect for Kaidan when he lifted a Colossus on Virmire. ’twas a beautiful view…awww, who’s a little cute Colossus wiggling its cute little appendages helplessly in the air? :3

        • Mike S. says:

          That’s one thing I really missed about high-level ME1 biotics. Especially on Haestrom in ME2: “Colossus? I used to be able to toss these around! Miranda, where do I go to file a warranty claim?”

  7. Guildenstern says:

    I’ve hit that “can’t look around but can still move and fire” bug in ME2 before, but never in the first game. I’d forgotten about this, but now we remember that it isn’t just Josh that breaks every game you guys touch in new and exciting ways.

    • Indy says:

      Hell, Josh hit that exact same bug during the finale of Mass Effect 2. Maybe there’s a conspiracy regarding every game Spoiler Warning will eventually cover where they have to include a hundred bugs.

      • Guildenstern says:

        It’s universal. If you’ve ever tried to do a let’s play before then you know how many bugs can suddenly crop up out of nowhere. Me and a buddy managed to glitch up Arkham Asylum pretty good and we actually completely crashed my Xbox during Alpha Protocol. It’s not just Josh: whenever anyone picks up a controller with the intention of posting game footage to the internet, it’s almost guaranteed that something stupid will happen.

        • anaphysik says:

          Blasphemer! You dare call the Great Troll’s powers mundane?

          Randy’s obviously the one to hit the bug in this episode, but think about it… have you heard from Randy lately? (ME3 SW doesn’t count; that was obviously just Mumbles with a cold.) Josh obviously took his powers when he took his chaotic stupidity. …Or maybe Randy took Josh’s voice. I forget which.

  8. ehlijen says:

    Thematic similarity between this and the most recent ME3 episode:
    Elevators travel faster than explosions!

    • Indy says:

      There’s also cleavage. A lot of cleavage.

      • Indy says:

        Actually, there seems to be a bit more:

        A mother saying goodbye to her daughter just before death.
        A display of biotics used very trivially.
        A stab through the chest.
        Animation glitches.
        A case of non-subtle indoctrination.

        It turns out putting these episodes side-by-side is very appropriate.

        • anaphysik says:

          You forgot:

          Bile

          • Keeshhound says:

            It’s not really bile in the ME1 episodes; yes, they harp on some idiotic design choices, but it’s more “this is silly, but an acceptable silliness for the genre,” vs. “this is horrible, and it disgusts me to see such horrible design choices.”

            • anaphysik says:

              Well, I’d argue that they do get pretty bilious with regards to the elevators (which I never minded, and actually liked; I missed them in 2/3 :( ), but point taken.

              (I also liked the muzak on them, too! On Miranda’s loyalty mission, there’s an elevator that plays that tune, and she breaks it! Grah, that’s obviously the real reason why I killed her.)

  9. Volfram says:

    I was using this episode as background noise. If you listen to Benezia and Liara’s lines at Benezia’s death without visual context, it sounds… really awkward…

  10. Otters34 says:

    Most of what the squadmates in Mass Effect were for was introducing the setting and various issues, Ashley for the First Contact War and glimpse into human culture, Kaidan for the shadier side of biotics and corporate intrigues. As a partial result, their own personalities were..not quite as important, I guess? To the writers? Of course with characters like Garrus and Wrex that doesn’t hold quite as true…

    I never really got invested in them enough to want either of them to live or die over the other, so it ended up a pretty tough choice.

    What’s so terrible about those two, out of curiosity?

    • IFS says:

      I liked both of the characters, but I tended to kill off Kaiden just because I didn’t like his voice, in fact his hushed voice was hard enough to hear on my old computer that I had to turn on subtitles just to figure out half of what he was saying. And before anyone says anything my hearing is just fine thank you.
      As for the hate for Ashley I think a lot of the hate is because some of her lines come across as space-racist, that and she kills Wrex if you don’t talk him down or shoot him yourself. For Kaiden I’m not sure, his character is pretty much that hes been through a lot but doesn’t really blame anyone for it and generally remains a calm and forgiving guy, so my guess is that other people found his voice as annoying as I did.

      • Henson says:

        Personally, I found Kaiden to be kinda nothing; wishy-washy and little personality. Throw all the characterization you like at him, none of it sticks.

        • Indy says:

          His character here and in ME3 is the same. He outright tells you: “I am at peace with myself. I am resolved. I can give you my background, but you can’t change who I am.” And as a result, he comes across as boring. The whole point of him in the third game is to provide more characterisation for Shepard, he’s trying to resolve your issues, ease your stress. He invites you to dinner to take your mind off the war. I appreciate it, but he needed something more.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I don’t hate Kaiden, but he’s kinda boring and I liked Ashley, so he gets the short end of the stick.

    • Mike S. says:

      They each seemed to be reasonably well-defined to me: Ashley likes poetry (though I don’t think she really gets that Whitman poem she’s always quoting), is religious, has a close-knit military family that she adores, expects to be mistreated in the military because of her grandfather, and is suspicious of aliens. (Though that and her single mention of believing in God tend to get caricatured.) Kaidan’s naturally cautious and deferential. He’s seen what happens when you let perceived military necessity get ahead of human decency, and so tends to be suspicious when Shepard cuts corners (though of course he can be brought around). And he basically believes that people are people (for better and worse) no matter how many eyes or head-fringes they may have.

      Really, all of the squad members are there to carry some of the expositional load. But Garrus and Tali get to continue their character development into the next game, and Wrex is naturally awesome. (And Liara… well, they obviously decided she needed something more, given the direction they took her in ME2. :-) )

      But I find Virmire a difficult choice every time I play it through, and that last stand of the one left behind one of the most powerful scenes in the game.

      (And as a result, I find Horizon in ME2 the most frustrating exercise in railroading in the series. At least with the Extended Ending of ME3 it’s possible to say “bugger this for a game of soldiers” to all three choices. :-) )

      • FalseProphet says:

        Though [her space racism] and her single mention of believing in God tend to get caricatured.

        Yeah, what does TVTropes call that? Flanderization? I remember both things being talked up on threads before I played ME, and finding both blown way out of proportion. Yeah, she’s highly suspicious of aliens because of some personal history. She’s still professional enough to work with them. And I was expecting some kind of fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist, not the vaguely-defined deism she actually espoused. I don’t recall her using her beliefs as a gavel to pass judgement on others. Not even to justify her hostility to aliens, who almost certainly believe different things than her.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I hate ashley because I had her live my first time around,and had her be the “why didnt you call me” idiot in me2,which really,REALLY pissed me off.

    • FalseProphet says:

      I don’t mind either of them, especially compared to Jacob and Miranda. They’re just not as interesting as the non-human squadmates.

    • lurkey says:

      IMO, Ashley has more character than Garrus, who gets all his characterization in ME2 and in ME1 he’s just wannabe Dirty Harry with daddy issues. I found her a bit like mini Wrex – tough, no-nonsense, cynical soldier with flaws and more thoughts and insights going on than just “Shoot maim kill bwahahaha”, but you have to chat them up to discover that. She’s my second favourite character in ME1, and that’s why I only played ME3 with saves where she’s dead, because I hate the abomination that masquerades as her.

      Kaidan and his insecurities all sound very much like Carth Onasi from KOTOR (being voiced by the same actor doesn’t help) and that’s enough reason to kill him horribly all the time.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        Sometimes one feels the compulsion to euthanize every ME1 character that they can in order to spare them from what is to come.

        • anaphysik says:

          Except Liara; can’t spare her. Bioware actually lurves her more than Miranda, and it’s impossible for her to die before the ‘run to the (first) big glowy beam (which we also called the Conduit because we forgot ME1) like an idiot’ section of ME3’s end. (You have to have very low EMS and she has to be in your squad.)

  11. I hated this level, if for no other reason that whenever I got biotic-lifted or thrown around, I stood a really good chance of falling off the walkways onto the pipework below. I’d then get massacred because I couldn’t move. On the rare occasions I didn’t get killed, I still had to reload because Shepard can’t climb.

    • StashAugustine says:

      The level with the Thorian, I kept getting throw-clipped into the scenery. Instant reload.

    • Spammy says:

      I’ll raise you one better: I got clipped through that wall by the entrance and outside the level. I got to float, completely frozen, through the void outside of playable space while I watched the level receding into the distance.

      I hated this fight for that reason. Stopped playing for a week and a half for that reason.

  12. ACman says:

    It’s this sort of thing that makes me hate Bioware these days.

    Hmmm, “moral choice” time…

    Releasing deadly killer alien species = paragon.
    Destroying deadly killer alien species = renegade.

    Surely Paragon would involve calling the council to contain the facility and let scientists and politicians decide what to do? I agree that destroying the Raknii is a “renegade” option but when put next to releasing the Raknii it’s reduced to being merely not the “absurdly stupid” option.

    Who wrote this? Who decided to make Liara such an insufferable retard? Was there a lack of oxygen in the writer’s room at this point?

    I know it gets semi-retconned in ME3 so that this Queen will help you out, but what sort of “Paragon” would take that risk initially? Who finds a containment facility of hellishly dangerous killer beasts and decides that the only human thing to do is release them?

    Ohhh…. http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/minks.asp

    In the analogous situation in Aliens the “Good” character Ripley wants to exterminate the Aliens and the “Evil” corporation wants to study them.

    In Mass Effect it seems to come down to uninformed mawkish virtue on the one hand and somewhat over-zealous prudence on the other.

    • guy says:

      You’re cut off from comms by the storm and the facility declared a containment breach and called in a nuclear strike or something, so you can release or kill the Rachni Queen, because leaving her gets her killed when the facility is sterilized.

      I don’t blame you for forgetting, because honestly the timetable is not terribly clear and there’s at least like half an hour between the most recent mention of either factor and the decision.

      • anaphysik says:

        I still think you should still have the option to just leave her (even though it would have the same effect as killing her; and yes, the turian Councilor should still chew you out, this time for not being decisive :P). Again, similar to the ‘save the council / focus on sovereign / intentionally leave the council to die’ choice.

        I guess it could be argued that without interference, she would just release herself, as it seems she tries to do with the puppeted asari should you decide to kill her. (Alternatively, we could say that release is then the default option if you decide not to, well, make a decision.)

    • FalseProphet says:

      Too many of the “moral choices” are basically Paragon = naive vs. Renegade = asshole. Sometimes a naive person makes a good decision despite their naivete, and sometimes you welcome the asshole who will make the hard decision. But in general, both are poor starting points for decision-making.

    • Alex says:

      I don’t care what Mass Effect 3 says, no good will ever come from releasing an alien that subscribes to the Independence Day school of communicating with humans.

    • anaphysik says:

      Something I think is worth noting in this discussion:

      This is likely the first time *anyone* (well, anyone not on the Peak 15 team) has actually communicated with a rachni (and what’s more the communication was actually fairly peaceable). The rachni wars were fought sans-dialogue; the rachni just showed up and killed things, and *never* communicate, not even to say “DIE!”

      This situation is dealing with what could be a totally different mindset. It’s like meeting a mink/xenomorph that could talk and philosophize.

      Sure, they might turn out like the Brain Gremlin, but the decision does raise important concepts: the rights of sapients, the fault of war, genocide, trust, alien psychology, self-determination, history, containment, blah, blah, blah…

      It is not a simple situation.

      • lurkey says:

        …and it all was touched rather nicely in Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game”, from which the concept of the Rachni Queen was incidentally [turian councilor] borrowed [/turian councilor] almost wholesale.

        • carrigon says:

          I had the same thought too

        • Jeff says:

          Aw, I’m 5 hours too late to make the reference.

        • Mike S. says:

          While Ender’s Game is going to be an influence (along with Starship Troopers, where the Listening Post Alpha sidequest seems a clear homage), I don’t really see it as a lift. Insectoid aliens go back to the pulp days, and giving them a dominant queen is practically de rigeur.

          (Because we mostly think of insects in terms of eusocial species like bees and ants– and then map the role to the term even though queen bees don’t actually run anything. :-) )

          I’d agree Card’s story likely informed the Queen’s characterization as the mournful last of her species. On the other hand, the rachni don’t seem to be a mass mind, the war didn’t start over a misunderstanding, and the queen doesn’t communicate with Shepard telepathically or over a great distance. It strikes me as a different song that includes some overlapping melodies.

    • drlemaster says:

      As much as we like to complain about the Paragon/Renegade system, how it often makes no sense and encourages us to game the system; if we think of it as only having and in-game effect with no other significance, it actually makes more sense. Then the Paragon option is just whatever option would make people think of Shepard as a nice guy/gal who can be trusted (if they heard about it), and the Renegade option is whatever would make people afraid Shepard will punch them in the jaw if they give him/her any crap. So saving the Rachnai queen may be the stupid option, it makes people think well of Shepard when they hear about it.

  13. Deadyawn says:

    You know, looking at it again it seems like Liara was the one who actually pushed the box in the way based on her position and how the box moved. I could be wrong though

    • anaphysik says:

      Yeah, I think it was Liara, too. It’s hard to tell, but it would definitely be easy for her to do it, and seems more likely given the power usage sequence by both Liara and Kaidan in the prior few seconds.

      Of course, Randy would surely not blame his source of “bow-chicka-wow-wow” regardless of veracity, so…..

      I believe we can barely see the hand of the offender poking into the left side of the frame, but I couldn’t make out clearly whose it was. Can anyone go all CSI and pull the culprit from the reflection off the rachin’s eyes for us?

  14. Grudgeal says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the Rachni are very similar to the Liir? Both are telepathic space earth creatures with tentacles glued on who are benign and communicate by telepathic ‘singing’. Their speech patterns are all similar too.

  15. Wedge says:

    I’ve complained a lot about how the Paragon/Renegade framework forces the writers to place an implicit value judgement on every decision you make, leaving no room for nuance or conflicting values. What this one also points out is the fact that the system also forces you to have *exactly two* options. There are a million different ways you could handle the Rachni queen. Bring her to the council? Try and take control of her yourself? Sell her to ExoGeni for a nice little profit on the side? Obviously it’s not possible to have infinite choices in a video game like this, but it’s still perfectly possible to provide more and more nuanced options than “kill her” and “let her go.” That’s not possible when every choice is hamstrung by only being allowed two options.

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