So the Reapers are invading homeworlds. They’re aiding or augmenting the Geth. The galaxy is allegedly running low on resources. This is the worst possible moment for the Quarians to attempt to retake their homeworld.
After reading what other people are saying about this plot, I have to say that the problem isn’t how stupid the Quarians are. As others have pointed out, lots of wars are started for stupid, short-sighted reasons. Perhaps even most of them. I think the problem isn’t that the Quarians are being stupid, it’s that the game isn’t properly justifying this stupid and allowing the player to respond. Shepard just says that this is terrible timing.
What we needed was an argument where the player can express these frustrations:
[It doesn’t make any sense to fight the Geth when the Reapers are coming.]
How hypocritical, Shepard. Is your homeworld any less a lost cause? You’re asking me to abandon the hope of my homeworld to help save yours.
[Even if you win, the Reapers will just come and kill you.]
I promised my daughter that she would stand on the homeworld and see the skies of Rannoch with her own eyes. If we’re going to die, we’ll do so on our own world.
[You should be using your liveships to flee the Reapers, not sending them into battle!]
You mean we should be sending them to Earth. The only reason you’re here at all is to get help for yourself. If you didn’t need us, you would have been happy to let the Geth wipe us out.
[You don’t have the power to overcome the Geth. This is a waste of life!]
Perhaps. I’ve made a calculated risk. I admit it’s not going as well as I’d hoped. But now that you’re here, perhaps we can tip the scales… [Mission details.]
(Etc, for every major objection that players are likely to raise.)
Sure, his arguments are mostly strawmen arguments and appeals to emotion. (He’s also pointing out how hypocritical and dumb Shepard’s ENTIRE QUEST is in this game. Let’s let this slide. We’re just trying to patch this one spot, not fix the whole game.) It doesn’t make his move any more sensible, but it does make it more understandable. Now we understand the admiral is a tragically flawed man, and not just a moron. More importantly, the game has allowed the player to point out all these flaws, removing the need for them to roleplay a total moron.
The point is: I’m not saying the idea of the Quarians attacking the Geth is completely invalid. I’m just saying they didn’t sell it.
Aside: Legion’s voice is pure awesome. Perhaps my favorite robot voice in any fiction ever.