Mass Effect 3 EP23: Dead Civilians for Breakfast

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 236 comments

Link (YouTube)

Really Hacket? Killing civilians isn’t the M.O. of Cerberus? This is a preposterous claim that goes against every single thing the game has ever shown us about Cerberus, across all three games. Hackett seemed like the last sane man in the galaxy. Now he too has turned into a Plot Zombie, mindlessly believing things that the writers demand without regard to what the game itself has shown us.

They were shooting civilians on Mars. They fed colonists to a thresher maw to test the scientific effects of feeding colonists to thresher maws. They invaded the Citadel and went out of their way to pointlessly shoot up the mall even though the place had no strategic value. They murdered a bunch of people in Mass Effect 1. They tortured and murdered children to make a better biotic. They dumped a bunch of scientists into a dead reaper and didn’t bother checking up on them until the whole team had been turned into husks. In Jacob’s Mass Effect 3 mission (which I think we’re skipping) they’re trying to kill a bunch of of scientists and their families because they want to leave Cerberus, and they want to leave Cerberus because Cerberus is the kind of place that would kill you and your whole family for trying to quit.

The only time they don’t kill civilians is when their own experiments / robots / test subjects / doomday virus / cloned dinosaurs break loose before they get a chance to deploy it, and kills their entire science team. Cerberus is an unintentionally comical mess, the kind you would get if the Umbrella Corporation bought out Cobra Command and hired Wile E. Coyote to run it. Cerberus not only kills civilians, they do so for no reason and with spectacular incompetence, usually in ways that run directly counter to their goals.

This feels like a giant middle finger from the writers. They know how stupid this sounds, and they don’t care. Note that this is the opposite of lampshading. If this was lampshading, Hackett and Shepard would comment on how confusing or nonsensical their plans seemed. Instead, the game shows us how stupid their plans are and then has the central characters ignore it.

In the show, Chris mentions the Geoff Keighley interview. You can see it here, but this is all you need to know about it:


Three different product placements. Not subtle, background placements, but in-your-face staged goods framing the person being interviewed. I’ve seen the image above with the caption of “VIDEOGAME JOURNALISM” being passed around.

Moving on:

So The Traynor romance didn’t work out. I must laugh at the ridiculousness of four dudes failing at lesbian seduction in a space opera videogame. I think justice was done here.


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236 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 EP23: Dead Civilians for Breakfast

  1. LunaticFringe says:

    *Put on Biodrone hat* But Shamus, all those Cerberus operatives that killed civilians were rogue cells.

    Actually, now that I think about it, it would be hilarious if the Illusive Man wasn’t actually in control of Cerberus and the whole organization had turned into a rogue cell. TIM’s just the old senile guy they forced out who thinks he’s still in charge, and his emo nephew Kai Lang just reinforces his delusions in order to keep him calm.

    1. Ofermod says:

      That… would have been an *amazing* revelation. And then that one Volus who works for the Shadow Broker turns out to be the *real* head of Cerberus.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Barla Von would have been more appropriate as the Shadow Broker himself. (I made this suggestion myself some time back in another comment.) Certainly better than Space Bowser.

        Senile TIM would make more sense that what’s presented, but it still does nothing to assuage the stupid massiveness of Cerberus in ME2/3. It would only work with the chaotic, fringe, small-time antics of the Cerberus from ME1.

        1. Ofermod says:

          Ah, was that you? I knew *someone* had suggested Barla Von as the Shadow Broker. Made me think that it would be amusing if he was in charge of *every* shadowy organization, up to and including the STG.

          1. Alexander The 1st says:

            Hidden in plain sight. I like it.

            In fact, now that I think about it, isn’t Liara like that? Just out in the open, sitting at a table with a tablet looking over cofidential, sensitive data out in the open?

          2. anaphysik says:


            The idea was inspired by the general consensus that the SB being a meek little accountant person would’ve made far more sense.

            Back in the ME2 series someone else suggested that Hackett could’ve been the Broker, which I thought would have also been clever.

            1. anaphysik says:

              Re: Hackett: Credit where credit’s due – Irridium suggested that:


        2. baseless research says:

          Way back when I first played through ME 1 I thought the Shadow Broker was organised by the Keepers you see everywhere in Citadel.

          Then Virgil had to come and crush my dreams. :(

          1. Indy says:

            Now THAT would have been even better than Barla Von.

          2. anaphysik says:

            Gosh, I just wanted Keepers to be involved with frigging *anything* after the first game (where their involvement was pretty excellent, tbh). Nopes.

            1. LunaticFringe says:

              Well in Mass Effect 2 it’s mentioned that the keepers cleaned up most of Sovereign before anyone could examine the evidence (obviously to sell the whole ‘Council denies Reapers’ storyline). Interesting idea, but terribly executed when you realize that if there was enough of Sovereign left to come up with the Thanix cannon then there must have been enough to tell it was far beyond geth technology.

  2. Garrett says:

    Hold on Shamus. In the latest resident evil movie Umbrella Corporation builds replications of major cities, fills them with clones, then releases a zombie virus and records the effects to show to other cities (that they built) so that those other cities would buy the Umbrella Corporation’s virus. Keep in mind that the world has ended by now in this series. Umbrella Corporation is the most hilariously stupid evil organization I have ever heard about. Cerberus is at least looking to take over the galaxy or something.

    1. Jace911 says:

      Cerberus is at least looking to try to take over the galaxy by actively sabotaging all efforts by a multispecies coalition to prevent the galaxy from being wiped out by the Reapers.

      So pretty much a typical Cerberus plan.

      1. Adam says:

        So far as I can tell, Cerberus’ (by which I mean The Illusive Man’s) whole scheme is to stop the coalition so they don’t blow the Reapers up. Seriously. Did ANY of the writers talk to each other about the parts of the game they were working on? TIM is essentially trying to PROTECT THE REAPERS SO HE CAN CONTROL THEM. Of course, he’s actually indoctrinated in what would be a neat twist if Shepard didn’t basically just say it outright when you talk to him on Mars. (and if everyone didn’t just see it coming anyway)

    2. I honestly can’t tell if you’re making up the stupidest most needlessly villainous thing you can think of as a joke, or if that’s actually the plot. Both are equally plausible.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its one of those things that are so stupid that you just cant make up.That is the plot.

        And I still think umbrella is the more sane one here.

    3. Rick C says:

      ” so that those other cities would buy the Umbrella Corporation's virus. Keep in mind that the world has ended by now in this series. ”

      Didn’t you get the impression they did that BEFORE the world ended?

      1. ehlijen says:

        Not really, no.

        The only impression I got was ‘hey, you’ve seen this before. Like! LIKE IT!’

        1. Rick C says:

          Really? Because I thought it was pretty obvious from context. Umbrella Corp is a big multinational that makes weapon systems; the T-Virus getting out was what set off the original movie. Since it’s explicitly explained that the underground lab was built as a sales demonstration, it wouldn’t make any sense for it not to have been built before the world ended, because afterwards, the customer base is pretty small.

          I haven’t played any of the games, so I’m just going by the story as told in the movies.

          1. ehlijen says:

            My point was, the movie gave up on any attempt to make sense. And I’m not saying this cynically and ignoring that previous movies weren’t very good either. I mean that in this one nothing happened other than to set up a fight scene using mostly familiar elements in, at best, a slightly new arrangment. No one made sense, no one developed, no one was included other than for ‘was in it before’.

            It is entirely possible this facility was built before the outbreak, it is just as possible that it was built after. No one says either way because it doesn’t matter. Ready…Fight!

            1. Mr Charles says:

              Not to imply that the plot of the resident evil films isn’t completely stupid, but they actually do say it was built before. Supposedly their still doing tests to learn to control the virus. I’d have thought they’d have enough data about zombies eating people at this point, but oh well.

              1. Jeff says:

                It seems like the motivation for everything in RE is “gathering data”. Apparently the RE universe functions on an XP system, where sending bioweapons out to massacre civilians and policemen will help make better bioweapons.

    4. krellen says:

      I was under the impression that Cerberus was the Reaper-loyal, indoctrinated faction for this cycle, whose active goal was, in fact, to sabotage all efforts to stymie the Reapers.

      1. Klay F. says:

        The only problem with that theory is that Shepard is literally the only character in the game who even suggests the possibility that TIM might be indoctrinated, and all other characters pretty much ignore that possibility entirely.

        If I remember correctly, in one of the comics or novels (I forget which), its pretty much directly stated that TIM has indeed been indoctrinated since before the first game. So I’m guessing that the writers DID intend for TIM to be a reaper agent, but I guess they forgot about that little detail until the end of the game.

        1. anaphysik says:

          On the Cerberus space station, you can see a recording where TIM has his doctor implant him with Reaper tech in order to intentionally become indoctrinated.

          I wish I were making that up.

        2. Thomas says:

          Shepard doesn’t suggest, it it’s very heavily implied by the Protheans on Thessia and the Cerberus Base. They pretty much just straight out say it. You can take it as canon.

          I mean your whole last conversation with TIM (if you talk it out) is:
          Shepard: Stop doing this you’re indoctrinated.
          TIM: I can’t. I’m indoctrinated

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            The beacon pretty much admits it. “Indoctrinated forces have…” or something to that effect.

            And the aforementioned comic that reveals how TIM was indoctrinated when he was a lowly mercenary named Jack Harper.

            1. anaphysik says:

              “Indoctrinated presence detected” right as screw Kai Leng walks into the scene.

          2. Klay F. says:

            Yeah, I remember the conversation you have with him during the ending, but what I meant was no character actually ever acknowledges that TIM might be indoctrinated besides Shepard. Yes the Prothean VI says that Leng is indoctrinated, but its never brought up by any of the principle characters. This is a pretty big oversight, because the one question every character asks without fail with regards to Cerberus’ retarded motives is: “Why?” When the why is finally answered, not a single character acknowledges it until at the very end by Shepard.

            I mean, take this episode for instance, even Hackett is stumped as to why Cerberus would do something so stupidly counterproductive, yet as a player you are unable to put out indoctrination even as a wild guess at this point in the game.

      2. mdqp says:

        So they resurrected Shepard because the reapers actually thought that with him/her at the head of the coalition the galactic species would do something stupid (like building the crucible), so they implanted the idea in Tim? See, the reapers get have a bad reputation for being stupid, but they are actually pretty clever when it comes to make their enemies become even dumber than them, thus turning the table… :D

  3. Psuedocrat says:

    “The Illusive man is no mad dog killer, he HAS to be after something!”
    I’ve always felt that Cerberus would be 90% less annoying as an entity if they didn’t have to share an identity with the incompetent stupid-evil mooks in ME1.
    The idea of a rarely trusted, renegade organization with questionable motives but clear ideals could be done well, but it fails immediately when you remember their old past-time of murdering random admirals and feeding them to rachni.
    How much better would ME2 be if instead of working for “Cerberus”, you were working for, say, “Stymphailian Bird”? They’d still balance out to far below the stupid line, but it wouldn’t be as far down.

    1. anaphysik says:

      It’s the opposite for me. A shadowy military ops program that will murder you and feed you to cloned rachni for trying to investigate them is a lot more believable than any of the antics of ME2/3 Cerberus.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Well, to be fair, I always thought that the problem isn’t that they’re stupid, rather that everyone thinks they’re not and they have ridiculous amounts of money.

      2. Psuedocrat says:

        I’m not saying that Cereberus in Mass Effect 1 was done badly; as a random group of mooks to feel justified in mowing down, the organization was handled well. Their evil was never questioned because nobody ever regarded them as anything but a radical terrorist organization. They were mysterious and shadowy and held promise to be a recurring group of antagonists.

        But all of this prevented Cerberus for EVER being portrayed as even an untrustworthy friend. After you spend a five hour side-quest in one game trying to wipe some people out, you do not want them coming back next time with a phoenix down and an apology card from hallmark. Cerberus in Mass Effect 1 was more believable, but that identity only harmed their likability in Mass Effect 2.

        Yes, Cerberus was handled poorly in ME2 in a thousand different ways. They were stupid, pointlessly evil, terrible at tricking you, were apparently funded by God’s loanshark, and nobody ever admitted that any of these things were true. However, even if Cerberus WAS perfectly handled; if they were ambiguously idealistic, shadowy in their dealings to a respectable degree, and only produced that slight, barely noticeable hint of distrust, they would still fail. By sharing a name with an unambiguous antagonist from a previous game, all possibility of being a portrayed well in this way is cast away. It’s the sign of newly hired or publisher-appointed writers seeing Cerberus from ME1 and deciding to throw that into the sequel without understanding it because, “Hey, Bioware is all about the story! The fans will love this consistency between sequels! Look at me show my writing chops!”.

        What I guess I was trying to say is: In ME2 and ME3 Cerberus is still inexcusably written, but if they at least started with a fresh slate, it wouldn’t have caused more problems by clashing with their portrayal in ME1.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Ah, well in that case I guess we’re actually in total agreement :)

        2. FalseProphet says:

          Having a nativist/xenophobic political movement in the Systems Alliance, with a lot of popular support and influence, could have made the story a bit more complex and interesting. They’d be ostensibly opposed to Shepard’s goals but have no more desire to become Reaper chow than anybody else. The Terra Firma Party, maybe? They could have been set up as the political arm of Cerberus, somewhat distasteful, but not out-and-out terrorists who would normally be shot on sight.

          1. anaphysik says:

            An ideal sequel to Mass Effect 1 would have been half about exploring long-running narrative threads, with humanity’s approach to galactic politics being a major one of those. Hell, it’s the obvious thing to talk about after the end decision of Mass Effect 1.

        3. mdqp says:

          I wouldn’t have minded a different group, with a “human first” goal, OR a really evil organization, like Cerberus in ME1. The real problem here is that the writers were unable to make up their mind, and kept going back and forth between the two portrayals as if they had an identity disorder, and handwave every possible conflict between those two portrayals. You must master double-think, before being able to accept Cerberus, basically.

        4. Scerro says:

          I played ME2 over the summer.

          When I started, I had no memory of Cerberus from ME1. After a while I think I remembered a side quest in a base that I found, and went through and killed them all.

          To me, it wasn’t like they didn’t have potential. It’s just that they were actually so evil. In fact, I finished ME2 without doing Jack’s Loyalty mission just because I felt like her mission was just continuing what I detested about Cerberus so much. She merely was trying to continue that.

          Hey, she got the survivors back to the ship, so it was totally worth letting her die. At least she was good for something.

          It did make me mad that I HAD to get her to continue the storyline. I did all the missions trying not to get her. She’s unstable and angry and has no reason to work with Shepard, so I never liked her, or thought she belonged.

          Back on topic – After an absence from the first game for probably 3-4 years, Cerberus seemed like a organization that seemed to be vilified to an extreme, and I wanted to see it be an organization that just has some things and some people go wrong. Not outright evil. So it made me disappointed that it turns out Shepard is mysteriously allied with an evil group that is growing ever more powerful and really honestly not too much better than the reapers. At least the reapers just kill you, Cerberus causes untold havoc and in general hates everything and everyone.

      3. Grudgeal says:

        I actually thought the ME1 description of Cerberus, what little we got, seemed interesting: Alliance spec ops/black ops and science team gone rogue. Basically, the dirty laundry of the Alliance and the dark side of the N7 program and all programs intended for R&D and study concerning aline beings (heck, they may even be the precursors of the N7 program), cut loose after becoming too much a political liability. An alliance-version League of One, if you will, or a Mass Effect version of Alpha Protocol with a more military bent, using the Alliance’s own resources for their own radical goals.

        It seemed completely at odds with what we got in ME2, which seemed more like the Illuminati crossed with the Terra Firma party. In fact, if it hadn’t been such a silly and arbirtary plot point to begin with I could perfectly imagine ME1 Cerberus as using Shepard’s body for an unstable, prototype resurrection programme just to see if it was a feasible thing to do.

        1. Scow2 says:

          I actually liked Cerberus in the series up until ME3. Especially from Miranda’s alternative perspective on the incidences from the first Mass Effect. They came across as a faction that took the most expedient route to solving problems, ethics and morals be damned. Yeah, they fed colonists and marines to Thresher Maws – in order to study the combat ability of the Thresher Maw and the exact effects its toxin had on humans and their vehicles – either to advance humanity offensively by weaponizing it, or defensively by formulating something to resist it. I don’t like the backtracking on Jack’s experiment – it was clearly amplifying biotic power to its limits. Ethical application comes after.

          A lot of Cerberus’s experiments, such as experiments with the Thorian, showed promise with creating a tactical hive-mind – as demonstrated by the colonists of Feros holding their own against the Collectors and Reapers. They didn’t know what they were dealing with during the Husk experiments – but a way to wrest the “Geth”‘s horrific shock-troopers away to Human control would have been invaluable, especially when the truth was revealed. And the Rachni were being tested to see if they could become viable mass-attack shock troopers without having to spend the lives of human soldiers when “Zerg Tactics” became necessary, even though human soldiers were used as target practice to assess their combat ability.

          While they had a lot of spectacular failures with a lot of projects, they also managed to salvage a lot of their info, and they probably have a lot of lucrative contracts that are far less dastardly. The loose “Rogue Cell” structure keeps one experiment’s explosion from adversely affecting another cell’s standing. I was a willing pawn of Cerberus in ME2, Being a “Chaotic Good” rogue cell… and then ME3 came along and suddenly turned everyone LOLEVIL and given infinite resources.

          Unfortunately, I never got to finish ME3 myself… but from what I’ve seen from other’s playthroughs, I’d have been just fine with the “Control” ending, which is essentially achieving Cerberus’ goal from the second game – Apotheosis, becoming God to guide the people of the world, with the Reapers as my servants to thrust Humanity into a new age.

          On that note, I didn’t have a problem with the War Asset system unlocking the Blue ending – War Assets and Galactic Readiness represent just how unified and how high morale is in fighting the Reapers – it becomes a battle of Will. Prior to acquisition of enough War Assets and proper Galactic Readiness, the Reapers are so strong and dominating that attempts to Synthesize or Control them will backfire catastrophically. But fighting hard enough, when the Big Decision comes, the Reaper’s Will is broken by Commander Shepard’s – like Frodo claiming the power of the Ring as his, and SUCCEEDING. And, with the “Destroy” option, Shepard can survive because the act of destroying the Reapers isn’t quite as taxing.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You working for cerberus couldve worked in 2 if it was done covertly.Like you get recruited by miranda,or some such,and only after half the game you find out that she is cerberus,so you get the chance to continue begrudgingly(renegade),or convince miranda to steal their money and plans and leave with you(paragon).

      1. anaphysik says:


        Sorry, my mind does not compute. It”s–s– broke-oke-n-&189?//cd.%ken10110001-0110- —

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        That would have been interesting. Someone else posted another idea where Cerberus could have actually been a pro-human terrorist organization while the Shadow Broker would’ve been someone who uses his information to maintain galactic stability, and Shepard would’ve been forced to choose between one or the other in a true Paragon/Renegade fashion. I liked that idea.

        1. StashAugustine says:

          I like the idea of just having Hackett say, “Hey, Shepard, spy on Cerberus for us, willya?” And you say yes or no. It’s less than five minutes and it makes ME2 much more bearable.

          1. Thomas says:

            Oh man that would have been good. That would have been great. If they wanted to run with it, there could have been little moments in the game where you could choose to double-cross TIM or double-cross Hackett, so whatever opinion you have of the Cerberus situation you still feel like you’ve been given a choice.

            Hackett could even have given you a phone call just before the Omega Relay and explained that the Alliance wouldn’t be able to recover any tech there and Shepard should destroy anything rather than let Cerberus have it

            1. anaphysik says:

              “Oh man that would have been good. That would have been great.”

              No it wouldn’t. It would be the bare minimum acceptable.

              These types of fixes would’ve definitely improved the story, don’t get me wrong. But all they do is put little pieces of tape around the corners, or perhaps some metaphor that actually makes sense, seriously, wtf is that metaphor supposed to mean? am I going crazy? or just tired?

              Ahem, my point is that those kind of fixes only improve the plot and not the narrative. Proper storytelling would involve way more interaction and exploration of whether an organization like Cerberus is worth using / can be controlled / worth joining / etc., where your loyalties should lie, et cetera, et cetera (insert Yul Brynner here). (Also, humanity’s role in the galaxy and its plans / arc.)

              Which, hey, are some of the topics that Alpha Protocol tackled.

              On the Yul Brynner as King Mongkut comment:
              FACT: I find musicals and musical films loathsomely boring.
              FACT: 1956’s The Kind and I is extremely awesome and everyone should watch it.
              FACT: In my (slightly alt-)historical fiction I’m writing, I make references to both King and I’s badass Brynner-Mongkut, while still utilizing the real history of the actual Mongkut (who dual-classed as an ascetic monk/amateur astronomer) in the background. It’s neat like that.
              et cetera, et cetera

              1. StashAugustine says:

                Personally, the reason I still really liked Mass Effect is that, for me, it’s all about the characters, not the narrative. I agree that it would have been better with a coherent plot, which is why I make suggestions like this.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  There is a distinct difference between narrative and plot, you should note. Plot is the sequence of events necessitated by the game. Narrative is the storytelling currents that belie the plot, and deal with the environment it takes place in (a bit like themes, but much more specific and involved).

                  Frex, some major narrative threads in ME1: humanity’s evolving role in galactic politics; the krogan and the rachni; the krogan and the genophage; the quarian-geth conflict; indoctrination; the role of Spectres; human-batarian enmity and competition; Prothean ruins; etc etc.

                  Frex, Wrex and Mordin are intimately involved in the narrative of thread of the krogan and the genophage (and this is *ignoring* anything they may do in ME3, where it becomes the plot).

                  Legion, the ME1 geth, Tali in ME1, the Admiralty board (Rael, Koris, Gerrel, and Xen), etc. are all involved in the geth-quarian narrative thread.

                  The plot is investigate Saren, visit 4 world, go to Ilos, stop Sovereign. But there’s so much more going on in the background that shapes the world the plot inhabits, and those are the kind of things focusing most on.

                  The characters that grab me the most are those that aren’t just “cool,” but that also involve themselves in any of the (good) narrative threads. Wrex, Legion, Mordin. (And to a lesser extent Tali, since she helps more with getting the Admiralty Board into the picture.)

                  It’s perfectly fine to have some characters that are just cool in a narrative vacuum (e.g.: Garrus, although at least in ME1 he does also manage to play well into the narrative regarding Spectres; Zaeed), but too many of them will give a feeling of emptiness and narrative distance. Just like how ME2 felt.

                  (This is a big problem I have with some of smudboy’s ideas for fixing ME2. (Also, he’s a rampant Samara fanboy, but I suppose everyone has their vice :P) He focuses too much on trying to make characters plot-relevant. Damn plot-relevance! Anything can be made plot-relevant. Relevance with important narratives is where actual depth is at.)

                  1. StashAugustine says:

                    My argument is that the characters have self-contained narratives. This is why I liked ME2- the structure allowed it to distance itself from the main plot and focus on telling side stories with all the other characters. For example, Jack might have had only minor relevance to the main plot, but I liked talking with her, hearing what she’d done, finding out her backstory, and helping her come to terms with what happened.

                  2. Indy says:

                    An anthology of short stories can still be an interesting book. But the game doesn’t market itself like this, there is no indication on the box that this is what’s being told.

                    What we get instead is a book where the main character dicks around for three quarters, inserting him/herself in all these side missions that don’t seem to involve him/her in any way.

                    And in regards to “plot-relevance”, Thane doesn’t do anything. Recruiting him does not involve the collectors, earning his loyalty doesn’t involve any continuous narrative and he follows it up with not doing anything on the Suicide Mission. We get an assassin and have no stealth missions or enemy lieutenants to kill.

                    1. anaphysik says:

                      (Honestly, I’m not sure who you’re replying to.)

                      For reference:
                      There is only one plot-relevant squadmate in ME2: *Mordin* (because he makes the doohickey (swarm immunity) that you need to do the thing (Horizon mission)). My disparaging framing of this plot-relevance is quite intentional, since plot-relevance means BUMPKIS.

                      There are only three narratively-relevant squadmates in ME2: *Mordin* (because though him we explore the ethics of the genophage, its effects on krogan society, and how everything builds upon the lore that Shamus handily summarized in his 4-post series about him), *Legion* (because through him/it we learn about geth philosophy of mind, consensus, the heretics, the geth’s plans, and the attitude of the geth), and *Tali* (because her trial introduces us to the politics within the Migrant Fleet, giving us insight into modern quarian plans and attitudes in regards to the geth).

                      Note that Mordin’s plot-relevance and narrative-relevance are completely disconnected and in no way fundamentally interlinked. Query: what do those having deep discussions about Mordin talk about? His narrative-relevance, no shit (also singing). Because plot-relevance is cheap and artificial.

                      Thane has no plot-relevance, as you correctly point out. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that any narrative-relevance he has is to a minor and disconnected thing. Basically he helps flesh out the hanar, but the problem is that there are only minimal threads in the rest of the game and the rest of the other 2 games that even involve the hanar. There’s no overarching exploration of the hanar (or any other of several woefully underused species), their views, role, whatever, and so anything that Thane tells us is essentially irrelevant.

                      Having a dude that only Thane could shoot would not suddenly make him important. That’s plot-relevance, and plot-relevance is cheap (literally, all you’d have to do is say there’s a guy Thane has to shoot to progress and *pow* plot-relevance (as long as that doesn’t create a plot hole)).

                      Making Thane important would involve, well, proper fucking storycraft. Actually making the things he’s talking about part of an important facet of the universe. Making the relationship between the Citadel races (e.g. hanar, elcor) and the Council races a recurring, important topic that interconnects with other recurring, important topics.
                      Then Thane would become one small expression of those threads, one take on the whole matter. *Then* would he be important.

                2. Klay F. says:

                  Here is my problem with people saying they are in it for the characters.

                  In any good piece of fiction, its the characters that drive both the plot and the narrative. The entire concept of the reapers (now that they are without Sovereign) is inherently lazy. They are just a force that makes plot happen whenever the writer wants it to, because the writer/s is/are too inept to have the characters drive the plot.

                  In Mass Effect (the series as a whole), the characters not named Shepard are completely incidental to the plot. They don’t matter in the slightest. Its extremely obvious in ME3 where every plot point happens regardless of whether or not said characters are even alive. Actually its even extremely obvious in ME2 where the majority of your play hours are spent dealing with your squad’s daddy issues.

                  This is why something even as sparsely written as Half-Life 2 is superior in terms of both narrative and plot to the whole of the Mass Effect series. The characters of Half-Life 2 (you included) don’t just sit on their asses waiting for a wild plot thread to appear, they go out and MAKE the plot happen, even when they screw up, they are still driving the events. In Mass Effect, the plot is something that happens to the characters and the entirety of the series is spent reacting to the plot, because the plot will happen whether or not they are even present. The characters contribute nothing.

              2. anaphysik says:

                *King and I

                Those are two keys away! How do I keep mistyping King as Kind?

                àœbrigens: irgendein Kind ist gestorben.

  4. Zoe M. says:

    Am I the only person (Wait.. one never is. Never mind.)

    Moving on.

    I would kill for a Battlestar Galactica/Firefly-styled ARPG. You and a cast of one or two dozen strong characters, completing missions for your ship, working to thwart some sort of threat… where each mission may be predetermined, but everything from the group you select to the choices you make to your skill on the battlefield decide the outcome.

    And, crucially, there is no guaranteed outcome. Mix in a little FTL – just let the player lose if he plays his cards wrong.

    That would be awesome. Get on it, Bioware. Call it Mass Effect Universe or something.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      “And, crucially, there is no guaranteed outcome. Mix in a little FTL ““ just let the player lose if he plays his cards wrong.”
      Maybe not quite lose, more of an Alpha-Protocol-the-first-time ending where everyone dies and nothing makes sense. I think one of ME’s biggest problems in the way its choices are presented is that it’s too easy. There’s actually a lot of different outcomes to your choices, but anyone who’s touched a RPG before can easily get the best endings to basically everything. It would be nice to be able to screw up a little more.

      1. Indy says:

        None of this “blue or red options guarantee the best outcome” nonsense.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Get on it, Bioware.”

      Oh god,please no!No matter how much I want firefly to come back in almost any form,I dont want it to come back as a putrid,festering,boil filled,nonsensical,shitstain video game.Maybe if they got a team capable of producing another baldurs gate,but with this one,hell no.

      1. X2Eliah says:

        Hm. Maybe “get on it, CDProjekt” or “get on it, Valve”.

        1. Indy says:

          Given how Dishonoured was made, I suggest “Arkane”.

  5. Lame Duck says:

    Gah, the animations in the chess scene were so fucking awkward. “I am fidgeting because I am a human. Beep-boop.” Super uncanny.

    Also: “GUI interface”? Redundant “interface” aside, that is just a retarded piece of dialogue. I point-blank refuse to believe that people in the Mass Effect universe differentiate between electronic and physical chess sets by describing them as a “GUI interface”. Electronic, digital, holographic, computer, VIDYA GAYME; literally any other term would have been better.

    1. I couldn’t stop thinking about this video in that scene.

        1. Ira says:

          I, on the other hand, am laughing at her suggestion that her holographic chess set is smaller and more convenient than a physical one. That thing you see in the cutscene is huge. What, was a plastic travel chess set too cheap and convenient?

          For that matter, you have hologram projectors everywhere: they show these constantly spinning suits of armour, for a start. Can you not load a chess program on to the ship computer or something?

          1. Klay F. says:

            They have to show that its the future, therefore EVERYTHING must be holographic, regardless of how little sense it makes, or how needlessly complicated it is. This isn’t even considering the fact anyone familiar with ergonomics knows that having tactile feedback is objectively better than no tactile feedback. This is why smartphone and tablet interfaces suck so hard, and why keyboards are still being bought today.

            1. anaphysik says:

              Unfortunately, basic ergonomic sense is quickly draining away from our modern world. As terribad as they are, touchscreens keep infesting products at a prodigious rate…

              1. Mike S. says:

                And they sell. I’m with you (and am still grumbling about having to choose between a keyboard and decent battery life on my last smartphone). But the market seems to be pointing the other way.

                It seems as if tactile feedback may not make a comeback till they figure out a way to simulate it convincingly on touchscreens. (Which I suppose takes us a step closer to the omnitool. :-) ) Mass Effect’s “virtual interfaces only” looks more plausible today than when the first game came out, more’s the pity.

                1. Klay F. says:

                  Having stupid holograms on everything might make sense on sleek consumer devices like the iSpacePhone where style matters over performance.

                  But on a military vessel where your survival depends on inputting commands into the ship with split second precision? Absolutely not. Could you imagine an F-22 Raptor pilot flying his/her jet with the ludicrous flight controls Joker has to contend with, or worse yet, an iPad touchscreen? No matter how good an ace pilot could theoretically get with such a control scheme, he/she just wouldn’t compare to someone with…you know…an actual fucking flight stick. Thats most likely the reason Joker is such a crap pilot despite us being constantly told that he is amazing.

                  1. anaphysik says:

                    I’m imagining the other space pilots going “dammit, I got interference all up in my holokeys! if I had one of those ancient touchscreens you could actually touch, at least I could clean the gunk off of it…”

        2. Indy says:

          I love the top comment on that video. It’s so perfect.

      1. Eruanno says:

        I think of that video every time someone mentions the word “GUI” in any sentence ever.

        1. StashAugustine says:

          I think of Yahtzee’s remark on Borderlands: “I wanna talk about the menu- it’s a while since I’ve seen a GUI this bad” while the screen shows a guy holding a dinner menu that’s sticking to his hand.

    2. ehlijen says:


      I usually only hear that phrase in the BSG boardgame. “I Am President Human. Beep-Boop!”

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      I don’t why they didn’t just have her say “It’s a virtual chessboard, holographic pieces.” I just started doing GUIs in college when Mass Effect 3 came out. I cringed.

      Even better, make just make Shepard’s table a projector and load the program onto it. You could’ve had Traynor get EDI to upload it before you arrived.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Or you could have made a chess set with an omni-tool.

        1. Irridium says:

          Considering that the omni-tool shoots fireballs, spawns drones, is a freeze-ray, and a dagger, a chess set sounds well within its capabilities.

    4. Deadfast says:

      Well, perhaps there you can get a chess set that beeps at you. That would then be an “audible user interface interface”.

  6. anaphysik says:

    I think technically Cerberus fed marines to a thresher maw to test the scientific effects of feeding humans to thresher maws. (Also, injecting thresher maw acid injected into human bloodstreams to test the effect of… decisions having no impact in the next game? Stupid writing?)

    They’re still space idiots / space murderers, though.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Actually that second part (Corporal Toombs) brings up another massive place where Bioware totally fucked things up with “the opposite of lampshading.” Working with Cerberus is stupid in ME2 (even when ignoring that what they want you to do is also stupid). Hell, you frequently get shit for it during the game. And then in ME3, you get shit for it *again*. Because no shit, they were as evil and as stupid as you (the player) thought they were.

      Bioware once defended themselves by saying that they couldn’t write two radically different playthroughs based on player/character choice. That’s okay, you shouldn’t have to. But if you don’t, then you absolutely do need to make sure that what you write isn’t *moronic*.

    2. guy says:

      No, no, they fed civilians to Thresher Maws. The marines were just in the way.

      1. ehlijen says:

        They did both. One of ME1 Shepard’s background options is being from a colony that was attacked by thresher maws (which you can discover were released by cerberus) and the first mission from the admiral on the citadel presidium to trigger the cerberus side arc has you finding some marines there were lured into a thresher maw ambush. Just so no player will miss out on that moronity :D

        1. Spammy says:

          Is *that* why those marines were there? I stumbled on that little bit completely on accident, I utterly missed that admiral when I was on the Citadel.

          1. Alexander The 1st says:

            They were there trying to find data about Armistice Bane, IIRC.

            I never could continue the Bane side of the quest though…

            1. anaphysik says:

              *Armistan Banes

              (‘Armistice’ would be a great nickname is he turned out to be some retired military leader, though :P )

              The Banes thread is really short anyway. You can hear about him during the Save Dr. Michel from a Blackmailer sidequest, and then ask Anderson about him, who directs you to Kahoku, who tells you a bit more. That’s as far as you can go.

              (When ME2 came out, lots of people thought TIM was a Banes who had faked his own death. That would’ve been slightly interesting if the Banes thread weren’t terribly minor and all of Cerberus in ME2 weren’t terribly terrible.)

            2. Raygereio says:

              That bane thing in ME1 really felt awkward. Like it was the last remnant of some cut content. He’s brought by important people, it’s build as this big thing and then… nothing. It’s never mentioned ever again.

  7. Ofermod says:

    As far as the “If you can read this” line goes, that works on occasion. For instance, being a line in a journal or something, or a letter to be delivered to a loved one in case of KIA/MIA: “If you’re reading this, it means something has happened to me.” It’s still an unnecessary preface since it could just be “Something has happened to me”, but it’s sort of a pleasantry. Like “Good Morning,” or something, only it’s really the worst morning. Or evening.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Deus Ex did a funny little take on the whole “if you are reading this” in the Ocean Lab. At the very beginning, you find the journal of a guard who’s very grumpy on account of being almost dead. He lists off every terrible thing thats happened and then finishes up with something along the lines of “But none of it matters because we’re all dead anyway. So, if you’re reading this, screw you!

      As grim as that level was, I found it pretty amusing.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      For KIA/MIA letters, it works, no doubt. But generally speaking, for most of the time they use that line, it would be better to say “When you get this…” People use that line all the time. “When you get this, call me back. I need to talk with you regarding X (explain story).”

  8. Adalore says:

    Basic typo, in the “they're trying to skill a bunch of of scientists”
    I am sure you meant kill. :)

    1. ehlijen says:

      Middle of the second paragraph you ended up with a double ‘they’.

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      Nah, they’re trying to soak up the skill scientists have so that they can finally do their stuff skillfully.

      It still tends to end in death, as do all Cerberus tasks.

  9. ehlijen says:

    Whoever wrote or ok-ed that bit of hackett line just deliberately didn’t care about anything else written in the game.

    Was it a silent cry for help from someone feeling their creative soul being smothered, perhaps?

    1. Thomas says:

      Okay here is my excuse (it’s going to be terrible =D), it is how I read it on first go, but it’s still doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      So you’re meant to do this towards the beginning of ME3 before you figure out they’re indoctrinated (?) and this line is meant to imply that Cerberus have stopped being an independent entity and probably become Reaper slaves by this point. The idea is that even when Ceberus fed people to a Reaper maw it had a purpose (and most of that in ME2 was canoned as rogue cell projects.) Not entirely sure if I believe it but TIM talked about Rogue Cells in reports that Shepard wasn’t allowed to read ever. So Cerberus just plain killing civs for no reason whatsoever is out of character with ME2,ME1 Cerberus and an introduction to the changes in ME3.

      I feel that’s exactly what they were aiming for, but I don’t know, I still feel pretty stupid for typing that out, I’m pretty much out of excuses at this point. Maybe the Quarians attacking on Rannoch, the video logs in the Cerberus base and of course, the ending but that’s pretty much it now. Even the stuff inbetween that makes sense is just plain boring and unfun (except from a combat point of view)

      1. anaphysik says:

        Oh gosh, Thomas, you are *such* a rogue cell apologist! :P

      2. ehlijen says:

        Doesn’t explain why
        a) cerberus apparently releases press statements and
        b) Hackett believes just one word those statements say.

        Cerberus personell is known to kill civilians and alliance military for its own lulz/reasons that weren’t apparent at the time. An outsider wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between TIM-sanctioned and rogue cells.

        How often does a known war criminal terrorist organisation get to pull the ‘that was a rogue cell’ card before Hackett should just dismiss anything they say unheard?

        The logical assumption is that Cerberus has an as yet unknown objective for gunning down those people, not that they forgot to lock the armoury on drunken soldier night again.

        1. Thomas says:

          I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here, I’m not trying to defend it, but I guess I don’t find your specific objections insurmountable. The first half about press channels and listening to them, I’d fully discount. All the fashionable terrorist cells are decking themselves out with websites and press releases. It’s one of the first things that’s reported on the news after a terror attack

          The IRA/ Al Quaeda are always saying they’re doing/not doing something and it’s given some weight because the purpose of terror attacks often involves publicity. You don’t fully trust them, but you use it as a starting point and weigh in with evidence, which is what Hackett does here with the MO thing

          The second half is definitely more legitimate but I don’t know if I can find an example of Cerberus before this point in the game every directly massacring civilians. Even the thresher maw incident involved a thresher maw and Hackett will have more insight into Cerberus and rogue cells than most because Shepard will have been sharing information.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Like I said below though- Cerberus is implied to be murdering civilians on Eden Prime.

            1. Thomas says:

              Ceberus were trying to claim ownership though weren’t they? They had some sort of motive
              “Cerberus attacked Eden Prime for reasons that remain unclear and set up facilities to occupy the colony.”

              So there’s still a justification somewhere. Benning is just out and out death

              1. anaphysik says:

                That’s an extremely tenuous defense, especially when it’s nearly identical (“reasons that remain unclear”). Unfortunately, I can’t be arsed to spend more words on that than that :/

                Even in ME1, Cerberus was its own special brand of Chaotic Stupid Evil. Wrex specifically goes out of his way to note them as morons. Any attempt at giving indications to the contrary have always failed on me.

                Also, I can’t believe I’ve never noticed that unclear and nuclear are anagrams of just one swap. That will surely now forever ruin my pronunciation of uhn-klee-uhr /’ÊŒnkliÉš/. Oh dammit.

  10. FalseProphet says:

    Re: Chris’ point around 5:25–for all its faults, one of my favourite things in Dragon Age 2 was the implication that your party members had relationships with each other than didn’t directly involve Hawke at all. I’d like to see more of that in games, the whole world not having to flow through your character.

    Also, chess is pretty gangsta.

    1. lurkey says:

      I liked this aspect of Dragon Age 2 too. Aside from adding character to your companions, it also helped to establish Hawke as “the common mook who sometimes went adventuring with typical RPG protagonist likes”. While inadvertent, it still was a refreshing change from Bioware’s formula.

  11. McNutcase says:

    So who else, during that entire “hold the line!” segment, was shouting at the screen for Josh to use some blasted medi-gel? He was on his last health bar, and usually completely without shields, for something like three minutes! I’m amazed he survived, and I’d like to DEMAND that he never take that risk again. Because I will exact revenge for every second of this game he has to replay due to such shenanigans, and he will not see it coming…

    1. anaphysik says:

      I too yelled at the screen. Though normally I enjoy Josh’s antics.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      I know he does it to make the show more interesting to watch (and it works), but I can’t help to want to backseat game.

      “Josh, USE MEDIGEL!!! No! WHAT are you doing!? He’s DEAD! WHY ARE YOU USING NOVA!!!??? Arrrrrggggggggg”

      It’s hard to resist.

      1. anaphysik says:

        It’s really no wonder they barely managed to beat that map (Ghost) in MP!
        Have to keep reviving their Leenroyginald Cuftkens!

  12. StashAugustine says:

    Not only do they kill people as part of/to cover up their experiments all the time, but I’m pretty sure they do the exact same thing on Eden Prime in the DLC.

  13. Ryan says:

    The music in this game really confuses me. I get what Josh is saying, but I love Clint Mansell, and he did Moon, so he’s easily capable of compositions in the vein of the ME1 stuff. I suspect serious miscommunication on the game’s aesthetic or, more likely, meddling from above.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      Yeah, the music choices in ME3 are… odd. A couple of extremely typical videogame ‘epic’ and ’emotional’ bits, mixed in with remixes and repeats of ME1 and 2 sounds.

    2. Chris says:

      It’s tangentially related, but yay, I have an excuse to post a link to one of my favorite YouTube musicians covering Mass Effect 3 music!

      Both this and the original composition are a little heavy on the Inception/Transformers booms, but aside from that it’s pretty and melancholy. The whole soundtrack to ME3 is pretty somber, which fits the tone of the events that unfold in the story. Unfortunately while they’re sad as heck and the music reflects it, neither the gameplay nor the writing (especially while on missions) makes an effort to. Shepard is off running around being Space 007 and spends the whole game shooting Cerberus jerks in the face and wondering why we all can’t get along and save Earth. He doesn’t really experience any loss directly (hence the “a kid died!” schtick in an effort to give the whole end of the world thing some emotional grounding). So all this sad/somber music feels like it comes from a totally different game – a game where people are dying off and all hope is lost instead of a game where we stoically ramble about stuff that makes no sense. And yeah, it also feels out of place when it delicate/romantic music has to stand in both for sexytimes tunes and also for “Hey, you want to play a game of chess and then leave?” music.

      I would be curious to know how much of the soundtrack’s tone came from some creative director requesting sad music specifically and how much came from the creative directors telling the composer about the nature of the game and having him arrive at a stronger emotional core than the entire 10 hour shoot ’em up did.

      1. X2Eliah says:

        What’s interesting about hearing that melody in an acoustic lead is how.. well, how humanized the tune is. It is, essentially, a melody by humans for humans (Well, I tend to phase out the reaper-BLAAARGHs, as I don’t think they contribute to the musical score itself). And yet… It’s not entirely the music the franchise started with. To put it into lame words, ME1’s main tune sounded like something made by the creations of humans to celebrate the artificial, the ‘futuristic’.
        I suppose it frames the change in the overall series as well, with the focus switching from the universe/world to the local/human.

        Or, maybe I am overthinking this.

        1. Eruanno says:

          I see (hear?) what you mean. The music from the first Mass Effect had a very iconic futuristic tone, and I still remember the first time I booted it up and heard the menu music and got the feeling that “damn, this is going to be cool”. They have sadly abandoned that notion in the later games, but I still recognized the Illusive Man’s theme when they played it juuuust before his hologram appears on Mars in ME3. So I guess the music-people are doing something right if it’s iconic enough for me to pick it out.

          And if we’re sharing Mass Effect music from YouTube, why not Malukah?

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Suicide Mission is still my favorite music in the series.

            1. Ryan says:

              Vigil still wins out for me.

              1. StashAugustine says:

                Vigil’s awesome, but it doesn’t get programs written two hours before the deadline.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  (Was so confused as to what you were referring to, until I realized you must be talking about a personal experience in the war between motivation and deadlines.)

              2. anaphysik says:

                Even soulless monsters like myself love Vigil. This is undeniable.

                Shamus’ writings about Mordin and all the backstory that funnels into him is what got me genuinely intrigued in the series, but Vigil is what sold me on absolutely definitely playing the game, just from the opening menu screen.

                1. Dave B. says:

                  Yeah, that tune always gets me right in the Emotion Approximation Core. *sniff*

                  1. anaphysik says:

                    Beep-boop fizzle-pop, fellow robot, beep-boop indeed.

              3. Eruanno says:

                Ooohhh, Vigil is brilliant. How could I forget… *Manly tear rolls down cheek*

      2. Ryan says:

        You know, the “Some Kid died” strikes me as especially egregious when you consider that later they have no problem killing an actually beloved character to up the stakes- see Mordin, Legion, etc. Why couldn’t the Virmire survivor bite it in the opening mission? Oh, right, nobody likes them.

        1. Irridium says:

          Why couldn’t Anderson bite it in the opening mission?

          Oh right, they needed him to stay alive until the end so he can be shot and killed by The Illusive Man.

      3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Throughout the game, but especially at the ending, the music suffers both from the dissonance of the imagery and the music, but also from intense whiplash without any transition (and loading screens do not help in this at all). The music cues often feel like they were written for this scene alone -but no one thought to make some form of transition from the last music.

        X-Wing was doing this decades ago.

        Why in bloody hell can’t EA?

  14. Naota says:

    Not to spoil this too badly for anyone who has yet to see it, but come the mission on Sanctuary we learn that Cerberus as an armed force and a corporate entity is literally fueled by dead civilians.

    While all of the things Shamus mentioned may have been true, many had a game’s distance between them or were at least out of the way of the main plot. Sanctuary is a primary story mission that you cannot skip, and even there you have them going out of their way to murder random innocent people for the evulz.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Dude, you *are* spoiling viewers who are going in blind. They must learn the idiocy first hand if they are to suffer as we did.

      Spare the plot, spoil the child.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      I have a LOT of things to say about that. I’ll wait until we get to that before I post it.

    3. swenson says:

      Setting aside the idiocy of Cerberus claiming they care in any way, shape, or form for humanity that becomes clear at Sanctuary, it actually performed an important function–explaining where the bajillions of mooks come from. And it makes it significantly more tragic when you’re gunning people down… no wait, no it doesn’t. Does make it depressing to go back and hear all the ambient conversations about people sending their kids to Sanctuary, though.

      1. anaphysik says:

        “explaining where the bajillions of mooks come from”

        Only in the minor-est of ways, as we’ve all noted on this site numerous of times. Logistics, technology, production, transport, etc, etc…. all of those are way more important and Cerberus displays zero rationale for their ridiculous fielding of them. ‘Getting people’ is only one tiny step to having an army that can attack the Citadel.

        And fuck it, I’m even going to take major umbrage with their people collection scheme. Who goes to Sanctuary? Strapping dudes and dudettes fit for military duty? NO. Skilled engineers? NO.
        The young. The old. Families. The wealthy few.

        HELL, NON-HUMANS go there, including lots of turians and asari (although that does explain the Reaper forces you encounter there… sort of. We’d have to take it on granted that Cerberus has access to advanced husk-making tech in order to properly explain that. Dragon’s Teeth are probably not enough. Also, that can’t explain ravagers (rachni) and brutes (need krogan too); would have to check what spawns, and fuck if I’m going to waste my time playing through that nonsense again.)

        Just to field the people (disregarding all the equipment and supplies and logistics and transports) that Cerberus does necessitates taking in *way* more people than they turn into proper troops. Not only because of the simple fact that only a portion of your population will be fit for fighting, but because that portion’s going to be even smaller than usual, since they’re pulling their population from people who have already been tapped out by their own militaries. (If Cerberus used husks, it would actually be *more* believable.)

        And, of course, actually building and maintaining the Sanctuary facility would take significant resources. (And even if there was a facility in place that they repurposed, that’s still a hell of a lot of people to process through it (house, FEED, TRAIN), and outfitting the facilities with indoctrination tech and shit was likely not easy.)


    4. Irridium says:

      Don’t worry. Shamus said the comments are a live-fire exercise in spoilers, so spoil away!

      TIM kills Anderson.

        1. anaphysik says:

          (Future Wil is here to say: Someone should name their Shepard “Rosebud Shepard” just so that TIM can kill Anderson with Rosebud.)

    5. X2Eliah says:

      As a positive aspect, I found the visual design of the sanctuary’s first stages (the open halls and lobbies) to be pretty nifty. Felt like the presidium.

  15. anaphysik says:

    I actually do like Liara’s bit in this episode, and it’s one of the few times when the musical accompaniment’s horrifically obvious manipulative intent doesn’t manage to detract from the scene.

    It’s not perfect, but it is a good scene. Should’ve been longer/more involved. And less surrounded on all sides by idiocy :/

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yes,that liara thing is one of the good things in this game.In fact,from what Ive seen,the only good parts of me3 involve people from me1(liaras preparations,emergency induction port,wrex,other small vignettes on your ship).

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I disagree. I actually liked the part with Jack and Grissom Academy.

        1. X2Eliah says:

          Well, grissom academy was heavily mentioned in ME1’s lore, iirc – wasn’t it where Kaidan studied and had his mood-swing-induced-attacks? SO you could say that the grissom academy is a character from ME1.

          Okay, I’m reaching way too far here.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Kaiden’s story happened at BAaT, which was shut down years ago, due largely to incidents like his.

            I think Grissom Academy had been mentioned as the more legitimate successor to that program, but I can’t remember.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              It was in Project Overlord and it’s Ascension Project is mentioned in Jack’s loyalty mission.

              1. anaphysik says:

                I know you have less-than-stellar feelings about Overlord, but I feel like reiterating that I really liked it. Of course, it should’ve been part of the main game as part of an overarching thread of sidequests, conversations, and whatnot regarding the geth (since it deals specifically with attempting to communicate with / control them (which also ties in with human integration or dominance when it comes to dealing with aliens)). And of course, the main game should’ve have been concerned with these kinds of overarching narrative threads in the series.

                I also really like that it took the path (however admittedly nonsensical it is) of having a *human* learn the (auxiliary) methods of communication of an alien being. Far too often is it us making other lifefoms conform to our methods.

                But that sound clip *is* still too loud! :P

                1. newdarkcloud says:

                  To be fair, I actually did like Overlord’s plot and premise, but I always have to skip over it.

                  The final choice in the end made my stomach churn. Even my Renegade Shepard couldn’t do it. Though when I saw the Renegade choice on YouTube, I was glad that both Shepard’s were disgusted.

      2. Thomas says:

        I guess a lot of people would disagree with Mordin.

        I still really resent the ME1 cast that weren’t in ME2 (Wrex is a cool character, but he doesn’t actually do anything here). I’d prefer the new guys to Kaiden or Liara or Ashley and there wasn’t much about any of their storylines in ME3 that I connected with at all, I grew to really loathe them instead. Even Liara on Thessia. Whereas Cortez had nice moments and James+Garrus was awesome and I enjoyed Legion’s death (in the destruction path) although I can see where that is controversial. I though Samara’s thing was cool too although I can see people not going along with that one.

        …but Liara and Ashley are so dull. I tend to blank them when they’re talking to me and Ashley’s ME3 design is absolutely ridiculous, she’s not a soldier, she’s some smug prissy fashion model who has long hair and applies lipstick before going into battle.

        I didn’t even enjoy this Liara scene. I thought the concept of what she was talking about was neat, but she sounds so darn unemotional all the time and it’s like this record isn’t something that even really means much to her.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Wrex is actually just about the only character from ME1 who *is* actually doing something in ME2 that’s reasonable and worthwhile and actually a good excuse for why he can’t go shoot some Blue Suns with you right now.

          actually actually actually

        2. StashAugustine says:

          I liked Liara in this game, and I really wanted to like Ashley, but they did nothing with her. She’s actually one of my favorites from ME1, I was really disappointed you only get about 1 conversation.

          1. Thomas says:

            Well you get her hospital stuff and then her sister stuff so that’s a grand total of 2! Maybe if I had more of a bond with her before I’d have liked her here but I found even the conversations she had a bit of a slog to get through

            1. StashAugustine says:

              Yeah, point. But it’s still odd that most of the conversations with her are before you actually have her in your team.

  16. Klay F. says:

    On a unrelated note, I’m getting a serious, “I hate my life,” vibe from that photograph. It must be the eyes. He looks emotionally dead.

    1. Irridium says:

      Yeah, he has a look of “I’m tired of this shit.”

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    While you guys may not have made a better game than this(though with their funding I dont see how you couldnt have),you certainly could have written a better story than this.Heck,anyone couldve written a better story simply by following one rule:Read what was written before and stick with it.The majority of crap in both me2 and me3 comes from not following that simple rule.

    1. ehlijen says:

      They didn’t forget to follow that rule. They just decided that making the game go differently would lead to more marketable levels. I hope. Else things are even worse than I thought.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Choosing the new direction is not the problem,it still couldve worked.But for example:Shepard was special in me1 because he got the prothean message in his head,and is the only person(except for the villain)to obtain the prothean code.Thats a pretty big thing and a very good reason why youd sink money into trying to resurrect them.So why does tim resurrect shepard?Because they are an inspiration to everyone.Whaa-?And the only living person with the prothean code thing?Never mentioned again.Bwhuh?!

        And its not just the continuity between the games,its the continuity during the games itself that gets broken numerous times(listen shepard,kaishley is on this secret mission and thats why you werent able to find out anything about them,let alone contact them,but dont worry,that wont stop them from bitching about you not trying to contact them,even though you did).

        1. X2Eliah says:

          Wait, how is prothean code important after ME1? The entire point of the prothean code is so that the recipient can talk to Virgil. Shepard did that, virgil got his energy sucked right off, the Ilos complex ended, and Sovereign invaded citadel (the core message of the prothean warning). After all that, the prothean cipher code is pretty much irrelevant…

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats exactly it.Which is why shepard is also irrelevant after me1.You have this blank character who is unique simply because they are the only living person able to decipher prothean relics,so the most sensible thing would be to make the plot of the sequels be centered around prothean relics.But nope,nothing to do with protheans anymore,and shepard is now important because shut up.

            And really,having your main baddy in me2 essentially be prothean husks,and not once use the one thing that made shepard special before that was of prothean origin is just stupid.Whats the point of collectors being prothean husks then?Why was it of any relevance to make these two connected if they did absolutely nothing with that?

            Whats even worse is that me3 brings this up again,but only so that it would end up being filler instead of anything important.Hey shepard,we found this new prothean weapon that could defeat the reapers,but dont sweat,anyone can decipher the plans now,so we can send your head that can actually speak the language away to do something else instead.

          2. SleepingDragon says:

            But that’s the point, you have a very strong, unique hook that you can use to make Shepard important. Instead they made him/her important because of some vague quality of “being inspiring” and/or “being the only hope” (however you measure that).

          3. anaphysik says:

            It’s irrelevant *plot*-wise, yes.

            But it’s absolutely important *narrative*-wise.

          4. guy says:

            It’s not a one-use code, it’s basically a complete Prothean translator and mental interface. Logically speaking, after ME1 Shepard should have been put in the most secure location possible and spend all his time interfacing with any bits of Prothean computer they can dig up. Other people know written Prothean, but they can’t use the mental interfaces and I don’t know if anyone can understand the spoken form.

            1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              He should have been Jack O’Neill -interfacing with Ancient artifacts left and right. And occassionally getting his memory zapped.

              And having Asari ships named after him.

              1. ehlijen says:

                While also Daniel Jackson-y dying and reincarnating all over the place?

  18. Rodyle says:

    Wow. That joke was quite hilarious, seeing how Josh plays. Are we sure Regina is not the lovechild of a human-krogan relationship?

  19. ? says:

    But gunning down civilians is not their usual M.O. It’s far too simple and effective. Killing those civilians with Rube Goldberg machine, now that’s more like it.

    1. Lalaland says:

      Ominous foreshadowing…

      1. Lalaland says:

        I refer to the end game sequence where we discover the Haven Project is a giant Rube Goldberg machine designed by Cerberus for making husks/more mooks

  20. Klay F. says:

    You know another pretty cool idea Bioware had, yet did nothing with? The fact that the reapers are basically the last remnants of otherwise extinct races. There could have been some pretty cool things done with that. You could have taken an opportunity to maybe learn some things about the races to come before you. This could have added some much needed depth to the reapers as a whole. Maybe offer some sort of confirmation (maybe through actual conversation with them) that each reaper really was a preserved race instead of just another bland machine spouting bullshit about cycles. Maybe whenever Shepard killed a reaper, instead of reaffirming his badass-ness, Shepard could maybe offer some sort of regret at completing the the extinction of some long forgotten race, that they’ll now never have the chance to learn about.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Barely touched upon with one paragon response (interrupt) during the Reaper section of Rannoch.

      Even then, the line and the delivery are pretty shoddy.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      In Control and Synthesis, the writers make the Reapers give their combined knowledge to the races of this cycle to help rebuild society.

      So they finally remembered this concept after it ceased to be relevant.

    3. SleepingDragon says:

      I’ve been saying this ever since I played ME3 and a couple times in the comments to this season. This, this is exactly what they should have done. As soon as the entire “preserving” concept came along I immediately thought this would be something really cool. I mean, thousands of races over thousands of cycles got assimilated in this way, what possible reason could there be for this? What sort of truth was revealed to them that they all chose to perpetuate the cycle for countless millennia? But no, let’s have them spew slight variations on the oneliners the players have heard before.

      1. Klay F. says:

        As a corollary to this, someone in the game should have pointed out this:

        Do the reapers REALLY care about preserving live in reaper form? Because they seem awfully eager to throw away dozens of their own number conquering the galaxy. You’d think the reapers would take more care in protecting themselves if they actually gave two shits about preserving organics. When you remember that EVERY reaper ship, big and less big, are each the last trace of an extinct race, then all that bullshit about how they are preserving you starts to ring hollow. Even if you could legitimately make a case of preservation in a reaper shell, your case seems much more weak when you realize that, come next cycle, after your race is supposedly preserved, there is a pretty good chance you’ll just be destroyed by the next race that refuses to lay down and die.

  21. X2Eliah says:

    I really like that interview picture, though. It is something that’s worth remembering whenever a journalist tries to portray the gaming industry, and the associated journalistic ecosystem, in it’s current state, as a completely professional high-brow medium of artistic expression. Aye, some small part of it may well be, but not all of it and imo not even most of it.
    Edit: Along this note, seems like in the current GMA’s, Ubisoft is holding an iphone5 contest for journalists who take a picture with their farcry3 promo guy, and there’s free PS3 giveaway thing for journalists advertising a game on their twitter.
    So, yeah. INTEGRITY!

    1. StashAugustine says:

      The weirdest thing is that there’s a poster for Mountain Dew. This is pretty conventional advertising. But then there’s these pop cans and Doritos next to him that he’s clearly not using. Why not just put a poster for Doritos behind him?

    2. Klay F. says:

      This is another thing that pissed me off about the journalists’ response to the ME3 ending backlash. You had so freaking many so-called journalists un-ironically yelling “ARTISTIC INTEGRITY” at the the top of their lungs, they seemed to forget that modern AAA gaming is the absolute antithesis of artistic expression.

  22. Thomas says:

    There’s a nice example of how broken the dialogue wheel has gotten here
    Option: Yeah I get it. That’s me.
    Actual Dialogue: …and the other has a smartass coms officer to keep her in line.

    It’s a nice line, but you know, maybe you should let us choose it. Bioware actually forgot what the dialogue wheel was meant to do, so now we only have ‘positive interaction’ ‘negative interaction’ with no clue what either one is.

    On the other hand, this led to me to like both series better. I could never roleplay anything because Shepard has a voice with very strong personality in it, so it would always be wrong unless my character happened to be a badass soldier. This wheel convinced me to stop trying and top right all my conversations and, apart from killing Kelly (-_- Why would they choose to do it like that?) that relieved a lot of my tension with the game and made the experience much more enjoyable.

    Incidentally to defend EA a little bit, the writing was already on the wall in KOTOR. They tried to push you to turn off subtitles for a more ‘cinematic’ experience and one thing that’s really noticeable is that all the dialogue in KOTOR is incredibly boring. There’s no way I’d listen to the voice acting, clicking through is the only survivable option.

    And they pretty much carry that through to Mass Effect. All the exposition/talking with people dialogue is horrible and static and uninteresting but without the option to easily click through and not miss anything. The very dialogue wheel itself shows how fundamentally flawed they are at this. 6 options, 3 carry the dialogue forward, 3 back that expo dump and come with the promise that they will not move things forward or alter the conversation in any way.

    It shouldn’t be like that. That’s an RPG crutch and a pretty awful one at that. Conversations should be less static. There’s a place for a bit of it, but generally its just not fun and they should find a better way to convey info

    1. anaphysik says:

      Another really annoying part about KotOR dialogue is how there’re only about 2-3 sound clips for each alien language. So all conversations with ithorians go:
      “[Ithorian generic clip] [Ithorian worried clip] [Ithorian generic clip]”
      [dialogue choice]
      “[Ithorian happy clip]”

      As a person genuinely intrigued with foreign and alien languages, I noticed this ALL THE TIME :[ And it was awful.

      (The twi’lek clips are even worse, since they don’t even stay self-consistent in general delivery. (Also, they get repeated more across multiple species, I think. It’s also possible they’re actually Bocce clips, but that makes them even worse in some ways.))

      On the upside, sel’kath clips are at least all pretty awesome.

      It’s not as fun as using my Gremlins voice, but it’s still pretty fun to speak like a sel’kath.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Moocha pakka laahka. Hromnatee hontunda devonopada.

        1. lurkey says:

          Dude, that’s actually Mandalorian, not Twilekkian.

          Why do I even remember this I hated KOTOR oh god it’s coming back the memories

          1. ehlijen says:


            And didn’t the mandalorians just speak aussie?

            1. lurkey says:

              Ah. That dreadful phrase was branded into my brain by some kid you discovered in Hawk’s cargo hold; she didn’t speak English since she grew up as Mandalorian slave and so you had to learn her language by listening to this particular gibberish for 256 times in a row. Yeah.

              Why Aussies? :-)

        2. StashAugustine says:

          Kandosii sa kar’ta, Vode an.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      ANY time ANYone suggests turning the subtitles off for a “better experience” or doesn’t include subtitles at all, I die a little inside. Not everyone is a native English speaker – even those of us who do and can communicate in English without problems – and even so, not all of us have distraction-free, soundproof gaming rooms and perfect hearing so that they’ll hear and understand every word said, even over background noise and effects.
      I’d sooner force subtitles on than off.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        And its not like you cant not look at them.Yes your eye does instinctively get drawn towards the letters,but if the stuff you are watching is really that good,and you understand everything perfectly,you wont notice them at all.

    3. StashAugustine says:

      At least you can’t accidentally have sex with a hooker in ME3. That one incident soured me on the first half of ME1.

      1. Thomas says:

        You can just accidentally wipe out the entire galaxy =D Twice.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Wait, what? When?
          Unless you’re counting past the beam.
          1) TIM shoots you. you pansy. you know renegade interrupts don’t steal paragon points or anything, right?
          2) you shoot SpaceDerp “SO BE IT!” with the Extended Cut installed. which totally made me have to kill the process and have to boot up my relevant backup autosave (handily named AutoSave_RGBullshit.pcsav) to prevent the waste of even more hours.

          (my first time through EC, I decided to see the Refusal ending blind via the dialogue wheel, and see if they actually got something vaguely right. instead, I got to see a big old middle finger from the writers. my second time through EC, I said ‘fuck it, imma delete SpaceDerp and be a space cthulhu’ and so was going to choose Control, but decided to get some parting slugs on the way over. at which point I was treated to another middle finger from the writers.)

          The whole Refusal ending ought to be the clearest indication that the lead writers really are as self-absorbed, petty, and hackish as we suspected they might be.

          1. Mike S. says:

            I didn’t hate Reject, but I suspect that’s partly because:

            a) it paralleled, surprisingly closely, a Bad Ending I’d made up as an alternative when the game originally came out. (Except mine had Liara’s beacon playing to a squad comprising a yahg and a varren, led by a pyjak with a red stripe down its arm.)

            b) I came upon it without any warning, because I fired a potshot at the Catalyst. (Thanks, Tasteful Understated Nerdrage!) So it was a complete, literally jawdropping shock.

            And sure, the passive-aggression is there. But Twitter back-and-fill notwithstanding, there’s nothing actually in the Refusal ending that says that the next Cycle won by making an RGB choice. The player can equally reasonably believe that the beacon gave the next Cycle the head start in time and knowledge to finally defeat the Reapers. We become what the Protheans were at the beginning of the game: paying the ultimate price to achieve the ultimate victory– but not for ourselves.

            I wouldn’t want that to be the only ending. But as a possible ending, it can be a dramatically satisfying choice. (Which puts it ahead of the other extant endings. :-) )

            1. anaphysik says:

              “Except mine had Liara's beacon playing to a squad comprising a yahg and a varren, led by a pyjak with a red stripe down its arm.”

              I would certainly have had a hearty, enjoyable guffaw at *that.*

            2. lurkey says:

              Or it can be just evolution working: each iteration is better than previous in regards of stopping Reapers. Protheans sabotaged the Citadel relay and left some working beacons, current one assembled the Crucible, disregarded it for a piece of shit that it was and left some beacons too, the next generation put all the info to good use and finally beat the suckers into metal goo. That’s my canon.

          2. Thomas says:

            To be fair the first time I only accidentally triggered the destroy ending. I had fond memories of DX:HR of running to each button, about to click it and then change my mind and run to the next one, and I was gearing up for that and hobbled right…and Shepard suddenly became locked in place. Huh. So I tried to move around for a bit and shoot things and eventually I decided that I might as well wipe of all synthetic life and take off the top-soil of all civilised technology as well.

            The second time, I decided I’d grind out some multiplayer and see what the EC Shepard survives ending was like. And it’s very boring replaying the end part and so I fire my gun around to distract myself from Shepard’s zombie pace. I enjoy shooting Anderson a few times before the oh-so dramatic scene where you’re forced to shoot Anderson. And I got to the child (and I kept myself spoiler blind for ME3 so I hadn’t paid attention to the controversy and didn’t really know what the EC had changed yet) and as I was lurching around waiting to get to the destroy I shot the floor a bit and the wall a bit etc and then I hit the child, who proceeded to give me a massive middle finger and tell me that he’s just going to destroy the galaxy now :(

  23. anaphysik says:

    I’m confused, why is Josh picking all these paragon options all of a sudden? WHERE’S MAH VUHRSMILIRTUDE?

  24. X2Eliah says:

    Also – Shamus & Rutskarn nailed it in the intro.. there is still stuff left to talk and discuss and analyze about mass effect, but I (and lots of the folks on twitter I talk to) just can’t bring myself to care about the series/game anymore. It’s like.. it’s done, it’s over, and I just want to forget it all.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I think that even if you divorce the game from the stupidity of the ending and the plot, you’d still feel that way. The trilogy is over, it’s done. There’s nothing left to do. It’s partly why I can’t play it again. I feel like there is nowhere to go. I know the ending. It won’t change.

      1. X2Eliah says:

        Yes. The ending was a good catalyst for that emotion (heyoo!), but it was largely coming with or without the relative quality of *how* it ended.
        This is another of the reasons I mentioned when explaining why Dishonored is a 2-playthrough game.. The story is also designed to be complete and finished when you end it – there’s a definite sense of “that was a thing that happened and is now over”.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something that needs to be brought up.

    2. Lame Duck says:

      Can someone who’s played the game tell me roughly how much more there is to do?

      This season is beginning to drag for me too and I think that the problem is that too many of the game’s problems (or at least at the part we’re in now) boil down to the fact that Cerberus is just horribly written. What else is there left to say about the stupidity of Cerberus that hasn’t been said already in this season and in the ME2 season?

      1. Chris says:

        This week we complete the first half of the Geth/Quarian missions. Next week we’ll finish this plot line, begin the Samara/”Let’s lock up our crazy and powerful on another planet” plotline, and then it’s time for the end. Depending on how many side missions we do, I’m guessing:

        This week: Get most of the way through Geth/Quarian plot.
        Week 2: Finish Geth/Quarian plot, start Samara quest
        Week 3: Finish Samara quest. Being two and a half hour ending sequence.
        Week 4: Ending prologue. Yes, this is functionally a thing.
        Week 5: Ending for reals, perhaps?

        If we’re fast/lucky and don’t do any more side missions, we might be able to squeeze the whole Samara plot into week 2 and begin the ending quest at the start of week 3, but I wouldn’t count on it.

        1. anaphysik says:

          “Samara Quest”? You gone crazy again, Chris?
          I think you mean Liara and Thessia.

          1. Chris says:

            That one! Still getting into the hang of talkin’ Mass Effect having been gone for so long.

            1. Thomas says:

              The earth stuff is going to be painful. That’s pretty much the worst part of the game to playthrough and it looks terrible and it’s going to end up being multiple episodes of pure combat

              1. X2Eliah says:

                It might end up looking very dark, to be frank. Maybe Josh could look into upping the brightness a bit on the london sections? Idk.

      2. Raygereio says:

        Can someone who's played the game tell me roughly how much more there is to do?

        We’re about half way through the “main quest” missions now. You’ll be pleased to know that in the next set of main quest missions we get to complain about crap writing that’s not related to Cerberus.

        Still doesn’t make it any less crap though.

        What else is there left to say about the stupidity of Cerberus that hasn't been said already in this season and in the ME2 season?

        Honestly? Nothing. If you haven’t played the game then I would still stick around. Believe it or not, but Cerberus will get even more stupid in upcomming mission. The absurdity of it becomes downright hilarious.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well at least we are getting to the high point of the game now.I was expecting it to start in this episode,but then Josh was like “Fuck it,lets do a side quest”.

      4. guy says:

        Your optimism will be missed. Cerberus just keeps getting stupider.

        Though I liked the Geth-Quarian stuff that’s coming up.

  25. swenson says:

    You guys, haven’t you learned yet? “Rogue cells” is Cerberus corporate-speak for “totally normal operations”.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Rogue cells are the communication devices of Cerberus. Each phone comes with a dead civilian wallpaper.

      Rogue cells are what Cerberus looks at using the microscopes. They also use telescopes to look at exceptionally large piles of dead civilians.

      Rogue cells are what Cerberus puts in their TV remotes when they run out of juice. They have 187 channels dedicated to broadcasting programs on dead civilians.

      All these projects have been funded with Cerberus’ ‘selling dead civilians as souvenirs’ business.
      Nowadays it’s quite lucrative, but at the beginning it was a rough sell.

    2. StashAugustine says:

      It’s funny that noone in the Systems Alliance has heard of plausible deniability.

    3. Vect says:

      I’m pretty sure “Rogue Cells” is the standard BS Excuse of Cerberus, a buzzword meant to claim plausible deniability even in completely implausible situations.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Wait, you’re only NOW figuring that out?!

  26. Eric says:

    Hey guys, remember when people used to kind of look forward to new Mass Effect games? You know, before we all realized that they were terrible? Those were the days, such childish innocence… :'(

  27. Even says:

    Totally agree with Chris on the romances. I’d say only ones started with characters Shepard meets in ME1 would have any real potential to be a little more meaningful and even then, they hardly get away from the non-existent writing standards of the series.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      I thought it really odd that the romances ‘reset’ between 2 and 3. I mean, it makes a little sense between 1 and 2, considering Shepard’s been dead and all, but did they not let you write letters while in prison?

    2. burningdragoon says:

      I consider the Tali and Garrus romances some the best/least dumb as bricks romance in any game (not saying much) simply because there was an entire first game where romance wasn’t an option, meaning there was an entire game to build strong bond/friendship/whatever instead of “Hey we just met and now we’re in love” thing that happens in pretty much every game ever.

      (not they don’t have their own dumbness too, but still)

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      And what is it with bioware and romances?Why does every game have to have romances?And not just that,but with everyone in your party.Which is especially odd for a military organization.Whats so wrong about having just buds in your party?This one friendly talk with liara here is way better than plenty of the sex scenes.Heck,”Shepard-wrex” is way better than plenty of the sex scenes.

      1. Vect says:

        It’s a way to ego-stroke the player.

        I remember in one of the videos of Project Eternity, Chris Avellone states that an important part of Companion characters is having them ego-stroke the player somehow, with romance being a possible way. He doesn’t mean “Make them sing the praises of the PC” but that they should react to the Player’s actions. Like “Hey, that’s a cool thing you did” and that a character who constantly complains and insults the player is not one that players wants to have around.

        1. Thomas says:

          Bioware could afford to learn a less or two from Chris on how to do it right though, what you can do with the characters in KotoR2 and the way you do it is much much better than KotoR or Mass Effect.

          It doesn’t even ego stroke when its this easy to fall into a relationship with someone, it stops feeling like something of value and more like choosing what colour of armour you would like. It’s an expression of creativity at best, as reward for slogging, rather than something impactful you’ve earned

          I mean listen to the wiki description
          ‘Romances are built through conversing repeatedly and answering favorably when the subject is raised. ‘

          That doesn’t sound like something cool. I reckon Shepard spends enough time with anyone to establish what would feel like a proper relationship, if it depended on how the characters reacted to Shepard and his actions. Not in a ‘topright’ kind of way, but as in Tali being with you when you help out the Quarian in the Citadel in ME2.

          You don’t even have to complete someones loyalty mission to romance them. How wrong is that? Well Garrus I didn’t feel like it was worth my time to help you get over your deep seated emotional problems stemming from the betrayal and death of your squad, but you’re still going to sleep with me right?

        2. lurkey says:

          Interesting he says that when in Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas none of your followers think you’re hot stuff, one even non-stop mocks you with almost every dialogue option, but all of them are rather well liked or at least not hated by fans.

          On the other hand, none of them have this crazy insane worship going on like Garrus or Tali do. :|

          1. Vect says:

            Well, they do respond to your actions. Like Cass lets you know that she thinks you’re a bastard if you’ve got Evil Karma and Veronica isn’t happy if you wipe out the Brotherhood. That in itself is an aspect of “Ego-Stroking”, letting the players know that they did something.

            Another thing that Avellone said was that companions should be optional and even killable by the players for those who want to play psychopaths like that.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well he did say that romance is a possible way,not the one must have all the time way.

            1. Even says:

              He’s also on record saying that he hates/dislikes writing romances in various interviews. If I recall in one particular interview he described them as (paraphrasing) “distracting and detracting from the story”. Being particularly true for the ME series, it makes me wonder if it would have made any difference if Bioware had scrapped the romances and focused their efforts elsewhere. They already give more than enough attention to specific characters.

              Incidentally found this after some googling. Thought it was kind of interesting.

        3. ehlijen says:

          The problem is not characters that complain, it’s characters that either don’t offer redeeming values or are penalised for complaining, such as in DA:O (Morrigan dissapproves, -10 influence).

          People don’t bring those characters because they lose out on power if they do.

          But take HK-47 in KOTOR1. Even many lightside characters brought him along because he was funny in a way when he complained about not getting to shoot stuff. In KOTOR2 that lessened somewhat as it introduced an influence system (you you were more spoilt for choice to begin with).

          1. Thomas says:

            There’s definitely a way of complaining that is still ego-stroking. If a light side character completely freaks out ‘you monster! How did you even do that? How is it possible?? someone…could be so… and the orphanage…the screams and then it just didn’t stop…and then the goldfish’ you’re going to feel pretty good about yourself. Whining is the worst.

            Also he pointed out that people need to be able to get revenge on their companions or change them or reject them if they don’t like them. So at least you can stick some dynamite down someones pockets when they complain too much

          2. anaphysik says:

            In my playthrough of KotOR I decided to play a very deliberately ‘good is dumb’-style good guy. And I most definitely did take HK-47 with me everywhere :D

            “Oh, master, how could you say such things…”

      2. anaphysik says:


        Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

        1. Sumanai (Asimech says:

          Sheparex sounds like a salve or a cream.

          1. JPH says:

            Talk to your doctor before using Sheparex.

  28. burningdragoon says:

    “I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite time capsule in the galaxy”

    1. ehlijen says:

      “You will find this message, or we die!” ?

  29. Mike S. says:

    “In Jacob's Mass Effect 3 mission (which I think we're skipping) they're trying to kill a bunch of of scientists and their families because they want to leave Cerberus, and they want to leave Cerberus because Cerberus is the kind of place that would kill you and your whole family for trying to quit.”

    Worse, because Cerberus is the kind of place that would kill you once you’ve finished your part of the project, even if you’re not showing any signs of planning to quit.

    Which does seem a departure from ME2, where the organization does have some rudimentary loyalty-building instincts when it comes to their own personnel. They may happily drop volunteers off to sites with an 80% chance of turning them into husks for SCIENCE!, and of course they’ll experiment on civilians and soldiers outside Cerberus with reckless abandon. But they’ll go to some expense to spacelift Miranda’s sister and Random Crewman’s family out of immediate danger, presumably because TIM recognizes that it helps get people to agree to participate in the next crazy scheme.

    (Even if you absolutely must feed your scientists into the Sanctuary husk factory for important scientific reasons, for goodness sake just show some patience and wait till they can all be put on one ship. Why raise suspicions?)

  30. Wedge says:

    The Liara VI does pay off in the EC if you take the “Refusal” ending (which is the only ending that isn’t complete shit). I thought it was a nice touch.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      Yep. That’s my personal “canon” choice end for the ME trilogy, in fact.

  31. Gruhunchously says:

    I just realized it this episode, but cruising around the galaxy map is one of the few times this game comes close to resembling what I would consider to be a proper Mass Effect experience. That music…

  32. Wraith says:

    That picture of Geoff Keighly reminds me of everything I hate about Activision, Microsoft, Sony, EA, and the general corporate culture surrounding the games industry these days. The image made me sick to my stomach. It’s gone down the horrible, horrible path American Football and Adam Sandler went down in which product placement takes priority over content, especially when it comes to advertising. Every time I see a commercial for a game that shills free pre-order DLC from GameStop (meaning EVERY BLIPTV VIDEO I’VE SEEN THIS MONTH) it makes me want to boycott the whole damn system.

    In football, we have shit like the “Visa Halftime Report” or “Dorito’s Player Statistics” and all kinds of other eye-rolling bullshit that makes me LESS inclined to gorge on their products.

    In games, we’re starting to get garbage like “GameStop’s Pre-Order Sweet-Ass Weapon/Armor” or the “Mountain Dew Multiplayer Double Experience Sweeptakes” or, worst of them all, the “Pre-Order now at GameStop and win free additional muultiplayer maps or single-player missions we totally didn’t cut out of the base game to grub for extra cash”

  33. Keeshhound says:

    You know, this might just be the XCOM talking, but that mission seemed pretty similar to a terror mission. Except that the council of nations never tried to tell me that the Ethereals weren’t in the habit of killing civilians.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      The Chryisalids have formed a rouge cell!

      1. ehlijen says:

        Dr Vahlen wants to play chess with you?

  34. RCN says:

    Possibly the best Cerberus rant Shamus ever did. What really grinds me is that I picked the trasher maw backstory for my renegade shep play through and discovered the game largely hand-waves or ignores that CERBERUS DID IT.

    Seriously, I still agree with that first corollary, either everyone is stupid to believe cerberus when they literally say every damn stupid thing they’ve ever done was done by a rogue cell (which is everything they’ve ever done), or cerberus is beyond incompetent to have every single project it ever has go rogue.

    Really, and 90% of this crap could so easily be solved by NOT HAVING CERBERUS as the faction that saved you on ME2. It literally had no build up and did nothing of note on ME1. It could be anything else and it wouldn’t need half as many hand-waves. And even if it has to be cerberus, HOW hard is it to make another evil faction to start doing stupid shit from now on, so you don’t need to re-use time and again the “rogue cell” excuse? They even INTRODUCED several new bad-guy factions in ME2. Half this shit could’ve been done by the Eclipse, and the other half could easily be split between the shadow-broker and the Blue Suns, with a side of Aria.

    On another topic, initially I liked the war assets. But only because naively I thought you’d do SOMETHING with it. Boy was I wrong. It was barely even a thing.

  35. JPH says:

    What I hate about all the Mass Effect romance subplots is that they all end at sex. It’s like the ultimate goal is to get into his/her pants. That’s even when the achievement typically pops up: “Ding! You got sexed. Mission accomplished, now to get back to the plot.”

    You can’t convince me that there isn’t any nasty subtext in there.

  36. Natureguy85 says:

    In fairness to Hackett, he says “gunning down,” not “killing.” He’s technically right. Cerberus prefers to kill via failed experiment.

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