Mass Effect 3 EP32: Challenge Mode

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Nov 7, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 197 comments

Link (YouTube)

I still consider myself to be under the restrictions of the challenge mode declared in this episode, which means… I basically can’t say anything about this. I had no idea what would happen when I declared challenge mode here. Would the show go silent? Would we praise trivial silly things? Go off-topic? Grunt and curse under the strain of rage?

As it turned out, the show just got very awkward and lame. So, not as funny as I expected. I’d wanted to avoid having a solid twenty-minute block of pure bile. Then again, anyone still watching this season by this point is probably here for exactly that.

I leave it to you: How many things here strike you as wrong, unsatisfying, frustrating, awkward, arbitrary, or emotionally flat?


From The Archives:

197 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 EP32: Challenge Mode

  1. Mathias says:

    You know, I think the scenes with Kai Leng have actively gotten worse after I started playing through Dishonored, because the “mirror double rival” in that game has about one mission of screentime and yet still manages to be SO MUCH BETTER than this badly written, overdesigned twat.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      And you can take him down in numerous ways,without a single cutscene to troll you.You can even just rush in there,interrupt all the dialogues and not read a single letter,and take him down without all of his story being shoved down your throat.There are some negative things to be said about that game,but the really shining positive thing is that it gives you complete control over your actions.

      1. baseless research says:

        you can even steal everything not nailed down right from under his nose without him ever noticing it to send him a message.

        1. AJax says:

          And on top of that, sparing Daud’s life is probably more satisfying than a “Lock player in arena with dude with lots of HP” type of bossfight.

          1. X2Eliah says:

            It is. It really really is.

          2. newdarkcloud says:

            And there is the fact that he is, by far, the game’s deepest and most interesting character. In the brief 1/2 hour or so that you actually see him in the game, you learn so much about him and how far he’s fallen. You learn about how sad he is that he’s nothing more than a sword for hire. And it just works.

            Which is why I’m kinda looking forward to his DLC.

      2. Naota says:

        Not to knock the option for being there (because it’s great that it is), but I always felt like sparing the guy made the least sense of all of the targets in the game. Most of the others are very clearly out of the picture if you choose the non-lethal option, and you can ruin the “big bad” in a way more satisfying than killing him probably ever could be, but if you let Daud live there’s really no justice in it. You don’t even inconvenience him – at best he’s just somewhat embarrassed to be outfoxed at his own game, and he doesn’t come off as someone who would take that to heart. If you leave him, there’s nothing to prevent him from doing the same thing again in the future.

        You can argue in quite the Game of Thrones manner that he shares less of the blame than one might think, but to posit that a hired assassin deserves none at all is quite a stretch indeed.

        Of course, I still spared him. As a Thief player it’s engrained in my nature to kill no one if any other options are available.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well if you read the things you find there,youll find that he actually looks forward to dying.So sparing him,and letting him know that you were there is basically you telling him “Yes,I know that you want to die,and I could kill you anytime I want,but I prefer when you suffer.”.And this really is how an rpg should work:Give the player a bunch of options,even if they seem nonsensical.If the player wants to do something,they will find their own reasons as to why the option is actually preferable,even if its just metagaming.

          1. TheJeremy says:

            I thought sparing him was more like telling him, “I can’t end your problems for you, you have to face them on your own.” This is asking him to actually exercise his own free will rather than become an obedient servant of the outsider or an isolated recluse that doesn’t directly affect anyone.

        2. Amnestic says:

          I let Daud live because having listened to him and seen his character, I thought that he would become a 100 point War Asset for m- I mean, that he’d help me out in the future.

          Turns out he doesn’t and he’s never spoken of again, but that’s okay, his characterisation leads me to believe that he spent the rest of his days working towards alleviating his guilty conscience over killing the Empress and trying to make good on that.

          I set a positive example both to him and Emily, and that was worth more to my Corvo than some brief ‘justice’ was.

  2. Deadpool says:

    I like how the missing given to you is “Fight Kai Leng” not “Kill Kai Leng”

    1. SleepingDragon says:

      Killing Kai Leng is severely missing from this section of the game.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This place really needs to be played with javik in your group.Im sorry,but this dlc just pisses me off.Its the worst kind of dlc.Remember when that companion was sold as a dlc in dragon age?Well that was someone not important to the story.But this is a god damn living prothean!Something that the whole first game was revolving around was a guy who understood their language,their technology,their artifacts!And now we get one,but only as a side thing,sold separately?!Gaaaah!!This is exactly the thing that everyone opposed to dlcs was complaining about,and yet bioware managed to get almost zero flak for it.It disgusts me so much.

    Also,fuck kai leng!

    1. Duhad says:

      To be fair they got little slake because people where busy flinging s**t at the other awful things about this game… How the hell did this game sell so well?

      Also, Red Dwarf show with Martin Sheen as Rimmer and Jennifer Hale as Lister. I would watch it is all I am saying…

    2. Deadpool says:

      Actually, they got quite a bit of flak for it.

      The problem is, outside of fans, Total Biscuit was the only one complaining about it… And he did so before the game came out, so all the fanboys jumped to defend Bioware.

      1. Cody211282 says:

        Not only that but before the game came out (when the Day 1 DLC thing was going on) they had an ex employee of Bioware come out and literately tell customers to “Shut up because we know what we are doing and you have no idea.” That should have been a clear warning for how they were going to handle any flak they got from that point on.

        1. Raygereio says:

          We already had a good idea about that after ME2 and we knew for certain after DA2.

          Bioware is reallly just plain awful at handling PR. And always has been really. Their biggest problem is that their community managers are basically just ascended fanboys with no real clue how to manage fans and even more problematic: they let their employees talk. Don’t get me wrong: normally I’d love it if you could engage the developers. But the BioWare devs that do frequent their own forums only do so bask in the praise and adoration of their fans. Not to actually talk about things.
          Hell, this is a company where one fo the big honchos – one of the doctors – once told a potential customer to shut up and get lost. That’s just plain stupid.

          Then again, watching BioWare’s PR trainwreck post DA2 and ME3 has been the source of a lot of entertainment.

          1. Cody211282 says:

            I only saw a few things with DA2(mostly because I didn’t care as much as ME3) but the whole thing from prelaunch to about a month or so after the EC was nothing but a flying clusterbomb of a mess. I hate to say it but I honestly think the reason the Docs quite was because they couldn’t handle how bad it god.

    3. Luhrsen says:

      Actually I did this mission with Javik expecting something interesting to happen. Instead I got to watch the Prothean VI basically ignore the actual living Prothean in front of it and talk almost exclusively to the alien of a species it’s never seen before. Kind of a gyp.

      1. Lalaland says:

        In fairness the dialogues with Liara are some of the best in mission dialogs in the game. Which again is why the subsequent parceling of him into DLC smells so much.

        I think it’s particularly noteworthy that the new DLC with the female turian and Aria T’Loak is completely segregated from the main game. The whole thing takes place with just Shepard and the afore mentioned characters. It’s all on Omega so they never come onto the ship or interact with the crew and cannot be used in any other part of the game. Would it have hurt Bioware to record a few more lines of dialog for insertion into the various ‘squadmate comment goes here’ pauses in the rest of the main game?

        Strange how Javik could do all these things and has comments in most missions too, it’s almost as if his removal was a late production cash grab and he was planned to be a part of the main game all along…

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I want to add more to this, but really I’ve already voiced my frustrations at that several times over and you’ve pretty much already covered it.

          1. Lalaland says:

            Ah but repeating yourself is one of the joys of an LP like this! I’m repeating myself constantly but it just boggles my mind I can’t stop turning it over and over ‘Dozens of people worked on this, how come nobody said stop?’

    4. RCN says:

      Daemian, I always wondered… do you write without making spaces between punctuations to actually drive us insane? I mean, it is a possibility, and it always bothered me a bit.

      Also… THERE’S A PROTHEAN SQUADMATE IN THIS GAME?! (sorry for caps, but I can’t stress that enough)

      And I have to buy an DLC to be able to use him. Obviously.

      … interestingly, the only question I can think of asking him is what his species actually called themselves. Because Prothean certainly isn’t it and I always respected stories where they eventually give you the actual name of the “ancients/precursors/beyonders/farworlders/protheans/promethelians/originals/etc…”

      1. anaphysik says:

        You could give it a pass as being a translation issue… except that Javik has no problem listing quite a large number of other species from the Prothean Milieu. (Plus, the Protheans were Space-Roman-Empire (not to be confused with turians being Space-Romans), so they ought to have some special identification for ‘true’ Protheans like Javik vs. their assimilated subjects.)

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,a question about this lame ass fight:Can you actually get his health down quickly?Id assume infiltrators with their massive damage would be able to take quite a large chunk of it,which would make this whole sequence even stupider.

    1. Robert Maguire says:

      Yes. My damage-specced Infiltrator was one-shotting each stage of the boss fight – and as you said, you can imagine how much worse that made the way this fight ends. He pops out, I zoom in and fire, he suddenly gets bullshit invincibility and BLOOM ATTACK – with the sniper rifle’s time dilation each stage lasts a fraction of a second. After this fight is where I quit my playthrough.

      1. Deadyawn says:

        Hell, as an engineer it was pretty easy too, I had overload maxed out so I could take his shields out in one hit. I really hate this part.

    2. guy says:

      I managed to do it pretty trivially with charge+claymore.

    3. Luhrsen says:

      My Infiltrator had it so easy with one shotting him each time he tried to attack that I had lots of time to shoot at the attack ship that was the obviously greater threat. Took me a while to realize it wasn’t taking any damage. >.>

      1. Lalaland says:

        So frustrating particularly as by this stage you can practically 3 shot the things with the big sniper rifle. As has been said Kai Leng himself is a doddle too which is why his subsequent taunting of you made me want to punch my monitor.

        1. Cody211282 says:

          I was playing vanguard and damn near drained his health in about 30 seconds. All I have to say other then that is after this “boss fight” I went to the gym for about 2 hours to work out the amount of rage I gained in this segment. As far as I’m concerned this is the part were mass effect died to me.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      As an Adept, Liara and I were wreaking his shit with our powers and biotic combination attacks. He was doing no damage to us and we were tearing his shields down.

      Which made the fact that he recharges his shields out in the open even more irritating. I didn’t realize until a few minutes that I was supposed to let him recharge (because why the hell would I do that) so I spent a few minutes wailing at him trying to breaking through the remainder of his shields as he recharged. (My thought was, “I have to break his shields before he recharges.”)

      1. RCN says:

        For me the single most infuriating thing about Kai Leng (besides everything) is that he not only expects you to act like the stupid cut-scene protagonist, the game actually forces you to act like that too.

        So it is just like playing a Resident Evil game… but you’re actually in control and STILL can’t do anything about it.


        “Fuck you! I’ll keep throwing everything at your ass.”


        “I’ll shoot my powers blindly at you.”


        “I’ll start beating you the second the stun is over.”


        “I’ll freaking kill you from cover.”


        “Oh, fuck you so much…”

  5. Deadfast says:

    Hm… It seems to me Cerberus has been doing some experiments with rapid aging. It seems like the most natural reasoning behind Kai Leng’s personality. He’s in fact a 6 year old child who has been watching Teenage Ninja Turtles a bit too much.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “He's in fact a 6 year old child who has been watching Teenage Ninja Turtles a bit too much.”

      Did you left out the “mutant” part out on purpose?So that no one can now use the “Correction:Alien” joke.Thats a low blow.

      1. Deadfast says:

        Of course, it’s part of my artistic integrity.

    2. Deadyawn says:

      I don’t believe that TMNT could have spawned anything nearly this stupid and evil.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But by the time the kai leng is born,the michael bays abomination will consume everything we now know as ninja turtles,so its possible.

    3. xKiv says:

      Kai Leng, would you kindly go mildly inconvenience and irritate Sheppard?

  6. bbch says:

    “Wait a minute… YOU KNEW Kai Leng was gonna show up in this episode!”

    Priceless :D

    1. guy says:

      In which Shamus gets back at Josh for all his trolling. Every instance of it ever.

      1. nerdpride says:

        Yes, but also I expect Shamus to be reading these comments to see if he has indoctrinated his fanbase yet.

        Shamus, you’re terrible. You couldn’t even say something nice to steer them in the right direction.

    2. The first two minutes of this episode have been the funniest moment of trolling since the Incinerator.

    3. Irridium says:

      I was waiting for Shamus to go “hey, Josh, remember when you wouldn’t sell the incinerator?”

      Sadly he didn’t, but still, it was funny.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil, EVIL man.

        Best troll ever.

  7. Deuxmains says:

    Regarding Mark Meer’s voice acting, his IMDB page makes for some interesting reading, as apparently he voiced about half of the characters in Dragon Age Origins:

    Athras/Gatekeeper/Unscrupulous Merchant/Experienced Elf Male/Rage Demon/Orphan Ollie/Elf Messenger/Werewolf/Pearl Dwarf Male Companion/Surface Dwarf/Traveling Werewolf/Demon/Alienage Elf Thug/Mikhael Dryden – Warden’s Keep/Tug – Leilana’s Song

    He was also Niftu Cal (the drug-addled Biotic God volus in Mass Effect 2) and Cyric in Baldur’s Gate II. So it looks like he hasn’t been typecast as Commander Shepard/Space Jesus, but has settled into the role of Bioware’s favouritest voice actor ever.

    1. Jokerman says:

      He did his job well before, i never once thought “Oh, thats Mark Meer”

    2. Keeshhound says:

      I linked to this back during the Mass Effect 2 lp, but you missed his best role from Dragon Age II

      1. anaphysik says:

        Linky’s broken.

        1. Keeshhound says:

          Again? Blast!

          It’s quite shock going from Commander Shepherd to ah… him.

          Quite a range, Mr. Meer has on him.

          1. Jokerman says:

            ahaha Meer was the male prostitute? That’s hilarious, had no idea.

            Yes…good range i would say.

            1. Jokerman says:

              Found this…

              Retroplayer- Mark, you've also worked alongside Bioware on Dragon Age: Origins in which you play a number of villains. What was it like playing characters that are pretty much the complete opposite of Commander Shepard?

              “I do enjoy playing villains, though — especially monsters. I gotto be several Werewolves in Dragon Age: Origins and all of the talking Darkspawn in Dragon Age: Awakenings, which was fun. And in ME2, I'm any Vorcha you meet — the day we recorded that, I spent the whole day screeching and gibbering in the booth. Also fun. Now that I think of it,before Shepard, I almost exclusively played villains or creatures, with the occasional non-hostile NPC thrown into the mix”

              Kind of feel sorry for the fact he has such a bad rep now, the man is good…cant see him being typecasted either.

              1. anaphysik says:

                I don’t blame Meer. I blame BioWare’s voice direction.

                Meer has tons of neat little parts in the ME games (particularly ME2) where he does well.

                1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                  I don’t even mind his VA in ME. Jennifer Hale is in places superior, but Meer does a good job of playing a military man.

    3. Indy says:

      Even in the Spoiler Warning with the Biotic God, there’s one line where the volus filter hasn’t been applied and you can hear Meer is just talking with his normal voice placing odd emphasis on the words.

    4. Tam O'Connor says:

      Cyric? No bloody way. Color me impressed.

    5. False Prophet says:

      Mark Meer is an Edmonton-area actor some of the BioWare devs are friends with. IIRC, they brought him in to do rough dialogue tracks for Shepard in ME1, with the intention of redoing the lines with the eventual VA. But they liked him, and wanted to give a local actor a break. Also, it’s never said anywhere, but I bet they saved some money not redoing Shepard’s lines with another actor in another city.

      Judging by his body of work, the video game voice acting seems more like a side gig to his improv/sketch comedy jobs. He seems to only have done work for BioWare, which wouldn’t require him to leave Edmonton.

    6. AyeGill says:

      Wait, seriously? I didn’t play Dragon Age, but Mark Meer was Niftu Cal??

      Damn. That is some great voice-acting right there. I actually played through ME2 with a MaleShep on my first playthrough, and it’s amazing that two characters in the same scene were voiced by the same actor, and it wasn’t even remotely obvious.


  8. Jokerman says:

    Sounds like you’re over the illness Shamus, good to have you back :D

    Taking Javic on this mission reveals a lot about the protheans and has some really good banter/Arguing as he reveals the gods that the Asari used to believe in were infact Protheans who landed on Thessia to protect them from another ancient race. Apparently they were the ones who made biotics a genetic part of the asari race.

    Who thing leads to a little fight between the two that you have to break like, like the Miranda vs. Jack thing.

    The whole thing almost got me through the buyers remorse for getting the DLC.

    Edit: Oh and “The beacon must think you’re Prothean because of the cipher”-Liara “It it might be because of the living Prothean standing right next to you…” – Javic

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,communicating between countless light years can be handwaved in many different ways.Mass relays,quantum entanglement,whatever.But how the fuck are you able to track a ship in space,without moving with it,and not only that,but find out a place where a signal is being blocked,without sending a ship there to tell you “Hey,something is jamming our signals here”?What kind of fucked up galaxy this became where a regular signal can instantly transverse the whole galaxy?If you are going to make a space opera,then make a space opera and dont mind the physics.But dont go on establishing your setting using actual real world limitations to explain things like ftl buoys and shit like that if you are only going to say “fuck it,its magic” later on.

    EDIT:Oh wait,Ive just rewatched that conversation.She actually tracked his signal towards the relay and extrapolated his destination from there.His destination that required multiple jumps.Never mind my complaints,this explanation is actually even stupider.

    1. Indy says:

      Traynor knew how small the universe was and deduced that Horizon hasn’t come up in the story yet in this game. It makes more sense this way.

    2. Nidokoenig says:

      This could be explained if there’s some way to detect a ship chaining mass relays, like it having to upload journey data to the first relay, or if there’s some way of knowing when a relay was used recently, so if a set of relays were all used in quick succession, it was probably the same ship.
      Actually explaining it would help(Actually having an explanation to give would help even more), but BioWare probably think that explaining it would get them in trouble later from people thinking “Why didn’t they use that established thing?”, the same way every Vanguard gets pissed off by having to chase somebody.

      They’re stuck between giving people playing video games, a very left-brained activity centred around solving problems with the info and tools given, very powerful info and tools that will almost certainly either have to be accounted for later(more work) or ignored(more complaints).
      Not explaining it and hoping people assume Traynor’s techobabbled around it is an attractive option, but it requires that the central plot is moving along at a certain pace so people don’t stop and think about it… in an RPG, and that the audience is engaged in the story and trusting the writers, while the writers are withholding information from the player or outright bullshitting them with a non-explanation or smoke and mirrors hiding a plot convenience.

  10. ? says:

    I agree with Chris on multiple Kai Lengs. If there were three of him they could make proper Charlie’s Angels pose at the beginning of this boss battle instead of this… thing that he did. What was that? A cramp? Sudden diarrhea? He found a penny on a floor? “Hey, gunship, check out this fine ass… cover me…”

    Ah, what do I know, it’s probably burden of being so awesome weighting him down!

    1. Jakale says:

      Well, by his explanation, they still couldn’t, cause we would have murdered the first Illusive Man enforcer back at The Council coup attempt. Not sure if we’ve seen Kai Leng between then and now to murder enforcer number 2.

      1. ? says:

        That was, something called a joke, mocking the fact that Kai Leng not only brings a knife to railgun fight, but is also trying to resolve the conflict through some modern ballet.
        On more serious note , I still agree with Chris that multiple Cerberus operatives would be more interesting. And having three of them would actually work pretty well with the name of the organization and all of that. Or it could be Kai Leng all the time, but every encounter with Shepard leaves him gravely wounded and next time he is more cybernetic and bearing more and more Cerberus ressurection scars. Or pretty much anything that makes him less of a invincible Mary Sue.

        1. Ofermod says:

          One of the Final Fantasy games did something similar, where your rival looked more and more ragged each time you kicked his ass.

        2. Ateius says:

          A production line of cloned Kai Lengs, each one just as smarmy and confident as the last, with some pre-fight dialogue options where you can leverage paragon or renegade to shake him up by reminding him that you’ve already killed five of him. That would be better than the invulnerable mary sue they’ve got right now. It could even justify increasingly powerful new abilities as they ‘upgrade’ each new Kai Leng to try and finally take Shepard down.

          Not the best solution (which is “Kai Leng does not exist”) but hey, I work with what Bioware gives me.

    2. ThomasWa says:

      EDIT: nevermind

    3. baseless research says:

      Well, if I can be serious for a second, what Chris was referring to was essentially KOTOR. After you find each piece of the Starforge, you are confronted by bounty hunters and/or lieutenants of the bad guy. And Bioware forgot. Like they’ve forgotten all of their skills.

      1. anaphysik says:

        After the first, you fight the awesome cool monotone Calo Nord who I thought was going to be a party member instead of a miniboss D: who you’ve personally met before and seen his coolness in action. After the third, you fight some derpy moustache-twirling sith apprentice whatever moron, who’s only appeared in cutscenes. What a total downgrade.

        1. Felblood says:

          Yeah, Darth Bandon is a total chump, and getting to force push one random minion in a cutscene does not make him more intimidating, but more silly.

          Still, his armor is modable and a great piece of mid-game loot.

          I only remember his name because it was written on his shirt, that I stole and wore for 5 levels.

    4. Indy says:

      I’m more upset about him slitting the scientists’ throats with a katana. I don’t doubt it’s possible, just absurd. Like he suddenly became Corvo or something.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Hey,if I can eat with a trident and a katana,so can he slit throats with one.

    5. Grudgeal says:

      Ah, darn it, now you’ve got me imagining the Illusive Man having his own little Ginyu Force of Kai Lengs, who open every battle with a group pose.

    6. newdarkcloud says:

      Wouldn’t three bad guy boss fights like that be eerily similar to Human Revolution? I mean, they had three boss fights to largely irrelevant characters.

      And Kai Leng is largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

      1. ? says:

        Doing something like that to Kai Leng could bring this part of the game to general level of the story which is already bad.

        I would describe problem with HR boss fights that they forced player to kill them in a game that encourages several playstyles including non-lethal one and stealth. Also it’s hard to say what is their role in conspiracy and what their goals are, Adam is not actively looking for them , yet he just stumbles on all of them during his investigation.

        While Cerberus is stupid in general, and their plans and actions are even stupider in ME3, sending some high profile goons to hinder Shepard goes along stated goal of TIM. That’s all we need to know about their motivation and ideology, they are part of cliche organization of card carrying villains. And there is no other way to progress than to shoot your way through waves of enemies anyway. Might as well be some unique enemy instead of more guys with shields and a mech.

      2. Nicholas says:

        Not quite the same. All three of those bosses were involved in the attack on Sarif Industries that injured you in the first place, so there’s at least something of reason to fight. People didn’t hate on those boss fights because the bosses were inconsequential (which they mostly were, though the Snake I’d argue has some greater story impact), they hated on them because they broke the game rules up to that point and were tonally very different from the rest of game.

        I still think people wouldn’t have complained so much if the very first boss wasn’t quite so hardcore. If you’re been going entirely stealth upgrades it’s horrendously difficult, because of his grenade spam. Depressingly I found the best way to kill him was to run up to him and repeatedly shotgun his face whilst guzzling healing items. He does an attack where he picks you up and hurts you, but he won’t shoot you and won’t grenade you whilst you just stand there so it actually makes the whole thing trivially easy if totally counter-intuitive

        1. RCN says:

          Actually, the best way to fight him is to spam your taser weapon on him. It is the weapon that causes the lengthier stun on the bastard, precise as much as you need to reload it and stun him again. As long as you have enough shots (about 15 I guess), you’ve won. It works for the second one as well, but the last one is trickier.

  11. Kel'Thuzad says:

    More bile please! If something’s bad, it deserves to be mocked.

  12. Well Shamus, about the challenge. There was less shouting and talking over each other.
    My tip. If you try and keep a healthy mix of constructive criticism (the key I guess) while still pointing out stupid stuff and applauding great stuff, I’ll be a happy viewer.

    “no that’s just silly and illogical…”
    “this plot hole could have been fixed by…”
    “very few manage to get this right…”

    That’s a mix of, negative, constructive, and positive.

    I only want to point out one thing, which is what I call a missed opportunity.
    Did anyone else notice that the Prothean beacon thing was actually the top of a huge structure than went way below the temple?
    How much cooler would it have been to explore a Prothean ruin under the temple, maybe run into a eerie wall painting of a Shepard like character etc. The Prothean NPC could even have been given lots of humorous dialog between him and Liara and Shepard.

    Also, Mark Meer…

    Check that out, the whole fan film is “interesting”- There are some continuity issues with the ME universe.
    But the key here is that this is basically not-Shepard Mark Meer as erm Shepard-as-not-directed by BioWare.
    No idea how much say Mark had in the creation of this character though, nor how much self direction he had on the acting.

    Previous url was the trailer/promo.
    Here is the “full” film ((only 13 min).

    And the Making of, with interviews (including interview with Mark Meer)

    1. Jakale says:

      But that also requires there to be a variety of good stuff to talk about frequently enough that you aren’t repeating old compliments just to break up the criticisms.
      I would have liked if the Prothean looked more like the statues back in ME1 than the Collector design this one had. Could have at least held up the “Look how much the Reapers changed them” thing.

  13. Craig says:

    I have to admit, I was very disappointed by this whole challenge mode thing. The anxious buildup of waiting for the sheer amount of bile and hatred you guys were going to fling at this fight made me giddy. So I’m a little torn, because I’m sure you guys probably get tired of constantly having to sling arrows at games for forty-some episodes each (and the whole “three Kai Lengs you can actually kill instead of the one bullshit plot device” was a very intriguing idea), but misery really does love company, and I wanted to taste the flavor of another person’s rage at not being able to blow this guys freaking head off with a shotgun designed to turn buildings into chunks of blood and cinderblock.

    1. Tohron says:

      Your gun turns buildings into chunks of blood? Wow, talk about an impressive gun!

      1. Naota says:

        With Minecraft blocks, anything is possible.

    2. HiEv says:

      The “Challenge Mode” thing would have worked better if you hadn’t disallowed sarcasm.

      Just curious, but was this inspired by the Escapist Expo’s “Hour of Love” panel? Because it was hilarious watching Yahtzee and Jim Sterling try to only say nice things about horrible games and such.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive just figured out something:
    Bioware makes mako,everyone complains,so bioware replaces it with probing.
    Bioware makes elevators,everyone complains,so bioware replaces it with big ass loading screens.
    Bioware makes a mary sue character(miranda),everyone complains,so bioware replaces it with an even bigger mary sue character(kai leng).
    For the love of god people,dont complain about what bioware is making!They will just replace it with something worse!

    1. Jokerman says:

      Nobody complained about exploration, good writing or RPG Mechanics.

      1. Zoe M. says:

        So Bioware got rid of (or minimized) them instead of replacing them.

        And to my knowledge, nobody complimented the action gameplay (at least as the point of the series)… so BioWare expanded it!

        Logic! How does it work?

    2. Cupcaeks says:

      I’ve never understood Bioware’s “If it doesn’t work, cut it off” approach to game design. Things like Mass Effect 1’s inventory and Dragon Age’s combat could have been fixed with a little bit of tweaking, but instead they just dropped the inventory system completely and replaced the tedious combat with EVEN MORE tedious combat. It’s like the word “moderation” isn’t in their dictionary or something.

      I can’t wait for the next Dragon Age, which will have no locations because people didn’t like how they were recycled and where all characters will be protagono-sexual, becuase, hey, player choice.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        To most people, it’s “Go big, or go home.”

        To Bioware, it’s “We go big, or we DIE!!!”

    3. Cody211282 says:

      On the Bioware forums this is a bit of a running joke, basically if the fans hate something they replace it with something worse so the fans will learn to love the old things.

      But in all honestly I think it’s just they being to lazy to properly fix what was wrong with the old systems.

  15. Kevin says:

    No keep up the bile guys its very reliving to be able to share in the frustration I felt playing the game. This scene really frustrated me because like other combat sections in this game, I lost not because I was beaten but because the story demanded it. Is it really to much to ask designers simply to boost the stats of a opponent to such a high level that they actually beat me, you know in the game rather then me “wining” then just making me lose in the cinematic.

    1. Luhrsen says:

      Or have them beat me when I have them at half or more health instead of when I’ve just finished emptying their hitbar.

    2. Indy says:

      The problem is that losing the fight results in ‘Game Over’. If they just made it so losing actually progressed the scene, it would be far easier to be sympathetic to this scene.

      1. Ofermod says:

        That… would have been genius. If you lose the fight, you just skip to the cutscene where he kicks your ass. If you win, well, you’ve still got that stupid cutscene, but it would have been better.

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        YES! I can’t stand when losing a fight you are supposed to lose anyway in the plot is a Game Over. That’s stupid.

        It’s like one of those poorly designed escort missions where you are told to bring a convoy or something to a place where it get’s blown up by something. If it was going to get blown up anyway, why have me escort it?

        If I was supposed to lose anyway, why do I have to win?

  16. Tse says:

    I just realized something. What if Shepard had hidden BEHIND Kai Leng? Just imagine the gunship turning that idiot into mush and then going “Oops, now we either join you or we DIE!” And you get 100 points for the one gunship.

    1. Luhrsen says:

      I tried that and the bullets went through him and hit me.

      1. Tse says:

        I meant in the story, not in the gameplay.

        1. Cody211282 says:

          Same thing probably, Bioware wouldn’t want their little Mary Sue to get harmed before it was time.

  17. Spammy says:

    So… three games in and we learn that the Asari government has actually been hiding Prothean technology from its own people and the rest of the galaxy. This is presumably why the Asari are so technologically advanced, although we don’t see any of that advancement except that their guns look like they came from an Apple store or something.

    It’s just another huge problem I have with the Asari as a species, they’ve got no story. The Quarians have their Battlestar Galactica ripoff, and you have a pretty much continuous narrative with the Salarians, Krogans, and Turians that was still shaping galactic perceptions in Mass Effect 1. At the start of the game I thought all the Turians who were pissed at humanity were just kind of jerks, but then I read the Codex and understood why they were leery and hostile towards humanity.

    And the Asari… are just kind of there. They’re everywhere in the galaxy but they’re never doing anything and they don’t have any species-wide story to draw you in nor an interesting hook or twist on a trope.

    1. Luhrsen says:

      And yet Shepard accepts full responsibility or the loss of their homeworld and the beacon instead of blaming the councilor and Asari as a whole like they should have. That part had me get up and walk out because of the forced stupid.

    2. SleepingDragon says:

      It is altogether a shame about the asari, I mentioned it in the comments to the previous episode but I’ll repeat here, I think the whole uplift thing should have come earlier, say, in game 2, which actually dealt heavily with protheans (which would also make it a good chapter to, say, introduce a living prothean). By 3 we could have a full blown identity crisis of an entire species to resolve. I wonder if there was some sort of planned “racial arc” for the asari that got lost later or if this lack of any decent “fleshing out” confirms them being a fanservice race with no real other idea behind them.

      1. LunaticFringe says:

        I think you need to apply ‘Mac Walters’ Law’ every time something seems to be underdeveloped.

        Mac Walters’ Law- If something in the Mass Effect series should’ve been carefully constructed and built from an already established series timeline then it was totally just pulled from a writer’s ass at the last second.

  18. Zoe M. says:

    Honestly, the slightly-less-angry episode is a nice palate cleanser after last night. Doesn’t quite balance the scales of disappointment, but it helps.

    On topic: I wonder if Bioware will eventually be able to buy their way out of EA, Bungie style? If EA shrank enough, and Bioware remained preeminent, I could see it happening – and possibly (although at this point, unlikely) a return to form.

    If not, we need a new story-based RPG champion. Any takers?

    1. ThomasWa says:

      Would they even want to do that? I mean, the consensus here is, of course, that Bioware is borked beyond belief, but the people working there don’t seem to think that.

    2. Cupcaeks says:

      I think at this point EA and Bioware are indistinguishable from one another, even more so now that Bioware’s founders have left.

      As for who can take on the story-based rpg mantle, I think studios like Obsidian and CDProjekt are already stepping up quite well, and I’m sure there are others that have that potential. Arkane Studios comes to mind, and I really hope Bethesda let’s them work on their inevitable next-big-open-world-rpg, as I really like the world they built with Dishonored, even if the story itself was somewhat lackluster (but still MILES ahead of that of the recent TES outings).

      1. Cupcaeks says:

        I’m also going to add Eidos Montreal to that list of potentials, because I somehow forgot about Deus Ex: HR when I was thinking about recent outings in story-heavy games.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Obsidian,of course.

      1. Zoe M. says:

        Strangely enough, if they could get their act together w/r/t polish and actual game quality, Cyanide might be a contender. Of Orcs and Men and Game of Thrones both had reasonably interesting stories (if very little else).

        Additionally, CD Projekt RED is going places.

        All any of them really needs to replace Bioware is a mega-hit; let’s hope we see one in the next five years.

      2. Deadyawn says:


        Out of curiosity, who else here backed project eternity? I’m really interested to see what happens when they make a game that isn’t severely crippled by publishers imposing time restraints on them.

        1. Ofermod says:

          I backed it. Really looking forward to that. Also really looking forward to the Enhanced Edition of Baldur’s Gate that’s coming out this month.

          Since, you know, I haven’t replayed it in a few months or so.

          1. Mike S. says:

            I backed it too, albeit mostly on the basis of reputation. I was basically out of PC gaming for various reasons during the heyday of that style of game. (I plan to play BG for the first time when the EE comes out this month.)

    4. Ofermod says:

      Isn’t Black Isle coming back or something?

      1. gyfrmabrd says:

        Yes, there is now, again, a game studio by the name of Black Isle. That is a thing. But that studio is not even Pet Cemetary Black Isle, coming back from the grave. It’s a completely new studio which Interplay founded, populated with poor, hapless designers, and then dressed in a coat made of the original Black Isle’s skin, in a weird, semi-transparent attempt to demonstrate that they are deceitful and evil.

        Checkpoint had a nice little segment where they interviewed Chris Avellone about the new Black Isle a couple of episodes back.

        1. IFS says:

          I’m reserving judgement on the new black isle until they actually put out a game. Yes its clearly a transparent attempt to prey on gamers nostalgia, but that doesn’t mean something good can’t come out of it.

      2. anaphysik says:

        Black Isle coming back? Isn’t that called ‘Obsidian’? :P

    5. Adam says:

      Obsidian still makes RPGs according to the old way. Buggy they might have been, but with Alpha Protocol, Fallout: NV, and (right up until the horribly-rushed final act) KotOR II, they’ve shown that their team is right up there with the best of Bioware and Bethesda. And they don’t seem to have Bioware’s problem where they just reuse the same 8 character archetypes all the time.

      Just my 2 copper pieces.

  19. Sozac says:

    When Traynor said “Ma’am” it sounded like she said “Mom.”

    Just thought I’d mention how British people sound funny.

    1. anaphysik says:

      And yet when British people say ‘Mom’ they don’t because they actually say ‘Mum.’
      And so any potential confusion was dispelled.

  20. JPH says:

    I would love for you guys to Challenge Mode the ending. That would be highly amusing, and somebody’s head would probably explode.

  21. burningdragoon says:

    Do those pointless moral skill check dialogue options have an effect on the final confrontation with TIM? Or does it only really serve to show you if you’re behind?

    1. Indy says:

      The checks DO mean something. Succeed at each of the conversations (Mars, Thessia, Cerberus HQ) and you get to do the super awesome “Na-ah” choice during the final confrontation with him. At this point Paragon causes him to shoot himself just as he goes offscreen (I guess Bioware was getting squeamish) while Renegade causes him to just stand in front of you until you shoot him. The penalty for not doing this is negligible.

    2. anaphysik says:

      If you make them all you can Intimidate him and shoot him or Charm him and get him to shoot himself. This ‘saves’ Anderson. That way, you (maybe?) get a few extra lines with him before he bleeds out anyway. (Numerically, Anderson is worth 1000 BS points for the BS whatever thing.)

      TIM shooting himself, is, btw, laughable animated (as is that whole section) and looks stupid. It’s meant to be an intentional throwback to Saren killing himself except that the scene is STUPID and doesn’t work at all. And it just shows the writers as hacks trying to copy-paste their old, decently good resolution onto their current nonsense.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        And it’s worse, because the speech TIM gives when the arms open is vastly superior to the “just kills himself” speech.

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        The scene itself is stupid, but I like the underlying idea behind it. I like that you can plant these little seeds of doubt throughout the game and then use them to your advantage at the end.

        It’s a shame that there isn’t really an incentive to do this. Unlike Saren, TIM poses no real threat. Sheppard can easily dispatch him.

  22. 8Megabyte says:

    Hey guys, shouldn’t this be in the Spoiler Warning category?

  23. anaphysik says:

    Shamus, this post is categorized as ‘Random’ instead of the appropriate ‘Spoiler Warning.’


    1. Indy says:

      Ha! You just got screw Kai Leng’d!

      1. some random dood says:

        The word is not screw, it’s Fuck. Fuck Kai Leng. With a ten foot pole. Sideways.

        1. anaphysik says:

          No, wrong. The meme is “screw Kai Leng”.

          Which reminds me: Shamus, shouldn’t this vid also have that tag? Or does ‘Challenge Mode’ override it?

          1. anaphysik says:

            Sweet, the tag got added!

  24. Indy says:

    So I don’t get how Palaven was fighting for weeks but the Reapers apparently invaded Thessia and took it in twenty minutes. It just gets written off. “We can’t stay in this system any longer!”

    1. Tse says:

      Asari are lovers, not fighters!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Wait,they are french?It all makes sense now.

        1. Nimas says:

          Ah, the poor French. They have 1000 years of bloody history, they lose one war quickly due to not keeping up with the times (the Germans went around the Magineau line) and everyone thinks they’re useless :P

          1. LunaticFringe says:

            Well, to be fair, other modern SNAFUs like Dien Bien Phu don’t help their case.

    2. Ofermod says:

      The Asari are, by dialogue, generally having a *better* time fighting the Reapers than the other species, because everyone’s a biotic, and biotics are rather strong against husks and such.

    3. Even says:

      I think the justification for Palaven was in that they had the biggest military fleet of the council races, everybody and their uncle go through some military service and civilian gun ownership being the norm. Plus they got the Krogan support too which the Codex says to have been a key factor in prolonging the fighting.

  25. MrGuy says:

    Alright, we’re officially in the home stretch for ME3. Lobbying thread for The Next Season’s Game!

    I’ll start.

    For the love of all that’s holy, SpecOps!

    1. anaphysik says:

      Alpha Protocol.

      1. AJax says:

        This. The only thing holding them back is the timed dialogue system which they all hate unfortunately.

        1. IFS says:

          I know they’re against it, but they could probably find a mod to remove the timed dialogue mechanic, if only to give themselves enough time to discuss the options they get.

          1. anaphysik says:

            Josh frequently chooses responses just milliseconds before someone chimes in that they want him to choose what inevitably ends up being the opposite of whatever he did. Heck, I half-expected Josh to troll everyone by choosing the quarians. So, with that in mind, I expect that the main complaint about the timer is not ‘we can’t discuss which option to take’ but ‘Josh can’t troll the rest of the cast as hard.’ XD

            (I tried to find a timer mod before I first played AP, since that mechanic seriously put me off of the idea of it. I ended up just playing the game as is, and I was almost never bothered by it, and got to enjoy a really cool game. That being said, I also don’t think the timer ever really made the experience better :/ )

      2. Deadyawn says:

        I kind of would like to see them play Alpha Protocol, mainly because I never managed to force myself the whole way through that game. Although, judging by Ruts’ reaction whenever it’s mentioned I get the felling that might not be a great idea.

    2. Tse says:

      I think it would be a good idea if most of the fighting got edited out. I tried that game and couldn’t finish because of the mechanics. Wasn’t engaged enough to continue. Which I think counts as the secret good ending.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Bad idea.Spec ops is a game that you need to play,not watch.Its gameplay is purposefully tailored to its story.I know,game story working through gameplay and not beside it,its such a weird concept,but there it is.

      Anyhow,Ive been saying this for a while now,but no harm in repeating:Walking dead.Its a complete contrast to this game:Short,good,with hard and meaningful choices.

    4. Spencer Petersen says:

      Walking Dead, they could time it to coincide with the release of episode 5.
      Its nice and short, keeps a good pace, would provide plenty of commentary and analysis, would be an effective comparison to ME3 and allows Josh to troll in his own special way of insane choices.

    5. Cody211282 says:

      I would love for them to do Jade Empire… Mostly because I am replaying it right now.

      1. Zoe M. says:

        I think they need something short and palate-cleanser-esque after this slog.

        Something with interesting mechanics and story conceits, but enough gripes to keep Shamus in business.

        …I’d actually love to see the gang take on Risen.

        1. Cody211282 says:

          Humm I never played that one. If they do it might force me to buy it though, and I already have a decent sized back catalog as it is, Witcher 1/2, KOTOR 1/2 again, XCOM, Skyrim with the new DLC, Civ V with Gods and Kings,Dark Souls, FO:NV again, Walking Dead, Darksiders, Torchlight 1/2…. Damn the steam summer sales and it being right when my birthday was!

          Also I think Jade Empire would be a good palate-cleanser as well, it’s story is rather fast even with the side quests, the moral system doesn’t lock you out of doing anything but like 2 quests, and I know at least Shamus loves it.

    6. Bryan says:

      Deus Ex! …Oh wait…

      Arx Fatalis? Probably too much mucking around with inventory in that game though. Plus it doesn’t seem to be that well known (and most SW seasons tend to be games they’ve all played at least most of), so that may be an issue. (I’d still like to see Josh try to play that as a fighter type character though, when it’s so clearly balanced toward a thief-mage hybrid type character.)

      Dwarf Fortress! …er…


      1. Keeshhound says:

        Uplink. ( I don’t see more than an episode of play out of it, but it certainly wouldn’t be a corridor-shooter…

    7. baseless research says:

      Have a single episode of them playing global thermonuclear war.

      I mean defcon.

    8. newdarkcloud says:

      They are doing Skyrim next, but after that I would like to see something like Dishonored or Alpha Protocol for an SW season.

      I think Dishonored would be along the lines of their DX: HR season. It’s flawed, but it also does so many things right.

      1. Amnestic says:

        I’m okay with a Dishonored season which sounds a lot like DX:HR since some of the flaws in DX:HR I didn’t really see until they actually did that season (I think Shamus actually noted something similar). I was so engrossed that any flaws were either ignored or dropped entirely. DX:HR’s season didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, and I don’t think a Dishonored season would either. A more positive game would probably be a good thing after ME3 and Skyrim as well :p

        So yeah, one vote for Skyrim->Dishonored.

        1. Nicholas says:

          Yep, I’m also casting my vote in for this. Bastion would also be shiny, and probably quite fast as well

  26. Isy says:

    Re: Multiple Kai Leng’s – didn’t you just describe Deus Ex: Human Revolution?

    1. Isy says:

      Hey Shamus, the video seems to be in the wrong category.

      Edit: Much as smarter, faster, less extraneous people have said a few comments above.

  27. Neko says:

    Wow. Just, wow.

    Okay, self-imposed challenge:-

    The statue sequence was pretty. As pointed out during the episode, it’s also a nice way to take a break from the cover-based shooting.


    Having Cerberus steal a macguffin gives you an enemy you could reasonably expect to defeat, which is nice when the only other enemies available are robotic space-cthulhu. Oh wait you can just hit their weak spot for massive damage, I guess they’re not that big a deal after all. Nooo, it’s this one guy with his special shield that’s the unknowable, unstoppable big bad.

    The effects on the Prothean VI were cool. “It’s the Citadel”. Three words. Just, tell them that before you shut off. Don’t prattle on about how it’s useless. A tiny bit of information that you would have no need to withhold were it not essential for the plot that the heroes don’t learn it until later. Hell, you brought up a hologram of the Crucible, why not a little hologram of the Citadel along side it, with an arrow indicating where Slot A interfaces with Node B. And oh yeah, that’s right – the Crucible has been co-designed by dozens of extinct civilisations to make it into some sort of ultimate game of Chinese Whispers, a final “fuck you, next guy” sent into the void by a civilisation that knew its time was up.

    Having Kai Leng deliver a message from the Illusive Man allows us to have some conversation at this point as well, and keep the human antagonists involved in the story. Oh, hey! It’s Kai Leng! Let’s not shoot at him just yet, and ask him what he wants! Let’s definitely keep standing there while he launches a small sphere which could very easily be a bomb in our direction! Oh, I get it now, looks like he’s got a message for us! Let’s continue to not shoot at him during our conversation with TIM, which as we know, always goes really well.

    Kai Leng having air support shows initiative on his part, and it’s nice to know that some enemies aren’t just going to throw themselves at you mindlessly. But once his shield “recharges” (read: becomes less invincible) suddenly he wants to fight you himself rather than just let his friends bombard the fuck out of you. And where’s our air support? Traynor was able to track his ship leaving but not when it was flying around the away team’s location? Or how about catching it before it leaves orbit, EDI was right there! She could shoot the damn thing down without a second thought! And it wouldn’t be Mass Effect 3 without another opportunity for a powerful Asari biotic to get bitchslapped to show us how badass our enemy is.

    We established that the temple was old in dialogue, so it’s nice to see that play a role in the cutscene where the floor gets damaged and opens into a bottomless pit, what the hell, who decided to build there? Or did they build on solid ground and it just got hollowed out after the fact? Look at poor Shepard’s face as she helplessly falls over the edge while Kai Leng walks past JUST CHARGE HIM. And now he’s slowly getting away, let’s shoot the aircraft ineffectually with a pistol and not get all of our friends to shoot at it with some sort of orbital bombardment. Hhhnnnnnnggggggggh. Do you still have that laser pointer thing?

    1. Nimas says:

      I was almost yelling at the screen that entire time Shepard was hanging on to the edge. Its a shame too, because seeing Shepard kick away from the wall and charge Kai Leng in the face would have been really badass too ><

  28. SleepingDragon says:

    This is one of the two parts in the entire trilogy where I was just plain pissed about not being a biotic in the cutscenes, the other being that time in Lair where you wrestle the asari in the air and she can land down (relatively) gracefully, whereas Shepard just hits the ground like a sack of potatoes.

    I think Kai Leng would be at least one fourth less annoying for me if I could do some honest force arm wrestling with him, then he triggered some kind of reaper tech upgrade that snuffed my biotics out or something, if the game gave me the feeling that he was just boosted to inhuman levels or “cheating”. But no, I should be levitating around flinging those huge chunks of stone at him but instead I’m going to plink at his shields with my gun. To me this reinforces the inherent annoyance of being “beaten in a cutscene” by adding the feel that this isn’t even my character anymore. You know what devs? This kind of thing breaks your precious, glorified to ridiculousness, immersion way more than subtitles or health bars.

  29. The Hokey Pokey says:

    Oh well. I was actually looking forward to the rage explosion. This fight right here is what killed all of my respect for Bioware, and the “lose in a cutscene” trope is my biggest pet peeve.

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I dunno. I think the restrained rage here was much better.

  30. Yeti says:

    I think Bioware was trying to establish this part as the “darkest hour” stage of the story. There are a bunch of problems, here are a few of the big ones:

    1) The fact that you fight Kai Leng, then he calls air support to bomb the place causing a cutscene to take place where control is taken from the player in order to ensure Kai Leng wins feels really cheap. It didn’t feel like an honest defeat, and it taints any attempt at making an emotion moment.

    2) The fact that you can’t talk with the Asari over com doesn’t make sense. It’s a shame, I think the scene would have been better with some dialogue options where Shepard could comfort/swear vengeance/talk with the Asari.

    3) The Reapers killing the Asari at this moment felt like the game was kicking me in the balls. It didn’t make the situation feel darker, it felt like I was being laughed at because I don’t have magical cutscene powers like Kai Leng.

    4) This is supposed to be the darkest hour. The problem is that this game starts with: the reapers are invading, we’re too late! That should have been the darkest hour. This doesn’t really feel any ‘darker’ than any other part of the game. It just feels like an excuse to pad out the game’s length.

    Mass Effect 3 (and 2) both want to be darker games. Mass Effect 3 never establishes any sort of atmosphere because the player constantly looses control of his characters while the game tries through cutscene to establish a dark and dire atmosphere. Rather than achieving this, it all just comes out to be cheap.

    I understand that they wanted to make the Reaper threat feel real and add some tragedy, but nothing in ME3 made me feel all that sad for another character. A good contract is a hidden dialogue in Majora’s Mask with Cremia and Romani:

    Wherein, after helping them both, Cremia says she knows that the Ranch too is doomed, but seems to have accepted her fate. Later, she tells Romani that she can drink Chateau Romani for the first time. Cremia says it’s because she sees Romani as an adult, but you get the sense that it’s because she knows her and Romani both will die. Finally, as they walk to their house, Cremia tells Romani to sleep in her bed.

    Oh, and that game was released in 2000 with an 18 month turn around and no voice acting.

  31. Ofermod says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t like the reveal that the Asari “Goddess” was actually a Prothean beacon? Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never been that big a fan of the whole “Your religion is based on aliens!” thing. Especially since the Asari heads know, which means that… they basically know that the entire belief system/afterlife of their species is a lie that they’re perpetuating? Don’t want to get into a religious discussion here, but… I dunno. That revelation bugged me.

  32. Trithne says:

    What I took from Kai Leng (terrible name, that) cutscene beating you is the reason we have cutscene defeats: To impose a failure state on the player. Stories are at their most interesting when the protagonist fails – they can’t defend the castle, they don’t reach the macguffin in time, when the hero realises they simply aren’t strong enough and retreats.

    Of course, “Retreat” is not in the typical player’s vocabulary. Players have a tendency to expect that any given encounter can be won. The exception to this is forced loss battles where you’re pitted against impossible odds, but even they usually end when the player stubbornly fights on to the bitter end, only instead of game over the story progresses to the next bit.

    If you don’t enforce failure, players will just avoid it. They won’t get that narrative point where the hero fails, because players don’t like to fail. They’ll reload and try again. And again. And when they can’t win, instead of retreating, they’ll decry the game as being unfair, or possibly just shit.

    Then there’s technical issues: Writing, storyboarding, animating and recording a divergent plot based around whether or not you did get the macguffin or no. We’ve already seen how most areas with mutually exclusive outcomes in ME3 boil them down to a different name on the number you add to your War Assets. So they beat you in a cutscene, to ensure you get to see the failure state and get that part of the narrative. The problem being that imposing a failure state by removing player agency just makes them not *want* to experience the next part of the narrative.

    1. MadHiro says:

      If I’m going to lose in a cutscene, in my mind, it makes more sense to have the entire conflict play out as a cutscene. If its absolutely vital that Kai Leng beat me, why am I being given any chance to attempt to have agency in the execution of the story, only to have it revealed as false?

      1. burningdragoon says:

        Or at the very least if you lose/die before reaching the (usually) arbitrary point where the cutscene starts, just start it anyway.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Funny, they managed to do that in the terrible Arrival ME2 DLC.

    2. ThomasWa says:

      But here’s the problem, in this specific case:
      The Hero IS strong enough to succeed. If it weren’t for the Hero’s spontaneous brain-farts, the antagonist wouldn’t stand a chance.
      Kai Leng recharges shields? Use Lift and put him between you and the gunship.
      Shepard falls in a hole? Use Charge.
      Kai Leng tries to escape/do anything? Use Charge.
      Kai Leng fights Shep and co.? Their combined firepower is too much for him.
      The movie equivalent (since we’re talking about plot holes or whatever) would be: A man, armed with a shotgun, lets another man, armed with a knife, attack and kill him, without firing his shotgun. The reason he doesn’t fire is neither the other guy being fast, surprising him, the gun jamming, the gun being empty, the man being a pacifist, the two being related in some fashion or anything like that. The man simply goes “meh” and doesn’t fire. And then dramatic music plays. And then a sensible audience yawns.
      As far as videogames go:
      I thought Mass Effect was more about hard choices anyway. What’s the point of “we’re gonna lose” drama at the cost of common sense, if we could easily have “fuck, no option seems to be the right one” drama instead?

      1. Trithne says:

        Well I never said Bioware knew what they were doing in this case. Writing failure states is hard. Deus Ex did okay, and even it had to fall back on the unwinnable battle that doesn’t game over when you die. Shepard is strong enough to handle anything because the game is designed that way, so the only way to actually get a failure state is to remove player agency. It’s basically the hallmark of bad design in an RPG.

    3. The Hokey Pokey says:

      This kind of thing only works early in RPGs. For example, in Golden Sun you fight the two main villains within the first few minutes. Your health hasn’t even reached triple digits, and theirs is in the tens of thousands. You are obviously outclassed and failure is not only reasonable, but inevitable. The problem is that the farther you get in an RPG, the less reasonable forced failure becomes. In many cases you’re character becomes so powerful that they might as well be a minor deity. In the fight with Kai Leng, he does very little damage to most players at this stage in the game. Mostly because at this point Shepard is an unstoppable juggernaut. To have him lose in combat now is idiotic. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is business as usual for Bioware. When you fight Malak in KOTOR for the first time, you will probably wipe the floor with him. After very clearly demonstrating your superiority, you are forced to lose because reasons. Failure in cutscenes is not a good idea. If you must force failure states, then they need to be early in the game or outside the context of combat.

      1. SleepingDragon says:

        I don’t think it’s really the problem of Shepard being too powerful to loose, to me it’s more about the devs failing to establish Kai Leng as that powerful, hence why I think it would work better if you were allowed to beat him and then he “cheated” in the cutscene by using some reaper tech or something.

        I kinda agree with OP that “beat in a cutscene” style of defeat does sometimes need to be enforced to progress the story onward, the thing is this one is particularly clumsy.

        1. Ofermod says:

          I think my favourite example of “beat in a cutscene” comes from FFVIII, where after you beat one boss… they use their Limit Break on you to win in a cutscene. Which makes perfect sense, since what happens when you get low on health? You use your Limit Break!

    4. sarapickell says:

      They could have had the player forced into a confrontation with the gunship outside. The player fights it as a normal boss battle then in the victory cutscene they turn around and find the VI was stolen during the fight. You don’t even know for certain Kai Leng has it until he sends you taunting email.

      Not only does this make sense and minimize the player’s frustration with being beaten… it also makes Kai Leng and by extension Cerberus seem competent and dangerous, rather than making him an absurd poser who only survives because of magical plot protection.

      Second scenario, Kai Leng challenges you to a battle. You win and he activates a bomb within himself. So during the cutscene, Shepard and team are out of action because of the close range explosive device while a random Phantom grabs the VI and runs.

  33. TheLurkerAbove says:

    Isn’t Nightwing supposed to fight on Batman’s side? Garrus needs to get his house in order.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Of course,thats the real reason why Mumbles left!She knew we would be trolling her with “kai leng is nightwing”,and she wouldnt be able to take it.

  34. X2Eliah says:

    @Shamus – see, you write that this episode was awkward and lame.. Dude, no it wasn’t. First 8 minutes were absolutely great, and the talk after the KL battle was decent too. If you had spent the *entire* episode purely throwing bile on the KL encounter throughout the episode, then *that* would have been lame by virtue of needlessly focusing on a single thing and again ignoring everything else ;)

    So, yeah, maybe there’s something to take from this – bile is good, but there are places where you can afford to diverge from that.

    Ah, but that’s just me and my bile-hater hipster ways. I’m sure all other readers just want snark bile snark bile snark bile.
    Still, for what it’s worth, thank you for this unexpectedly interesting episode.

    1. anaphysik says:

      “I'm sure all other readers just want snark bile snark bile snark bile.”

      That’s ridiculous. You’re ridiculous.

      We want snark bile snark bile snark bile funny credits.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        And the puns.You forgot the puns.Plus the incinerator.Waaait…why hasnt Josh equipped all the weapons for no raisin?

        1. Ofermod says:

          Simple: Because it wouldn’t result in needless trips to the weapon loadout screen.

          Also because he can’t just increase his carrying capacity by getting drunk.

        2. Adam says:

          Also because that would hamper his “faff about ridiculously” battle strategy that has been working so well.

  35. Gruhunchously says:

    By the looks of things, the rest of the season could potentially provide numerous opportunities for the rest of the cast to counter-troll Josh. Give him a taste of his own medicine.

    1. Ofermod says:

      That would be playing right into hands.

  36. Vect says:

    I’m curious as to who here has played Metal Gear Solid 4 because Kai Leng is a rip-off of Raiden from that game.

    The plot is pretty overwrought in that game as well.

    The main thing I’m angry about with Kai Leng is how poorly he’s executed. I like the idea of a rival character, but he should have been more than simply some dipshit boss fight who taunts you. Even then, he could have at least used more interesting boss tactics. Like, rather than simply stand there and recharge his shields while plot invulnerability kicks in, he cloaks and tries to flank you while the gunship does it’s thing. Or at least have him at least be really mobile and hard to hit. Make him at least somewhat fun and challenging to fight.

    ‘Course, I played games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry 3, which did Rival fights really well.

    1. Jokerman says:

      I don’t think they looked at Raiden and were like “That’s who we want, that is the guy” Just wanted a cyborg Ninja dude to be the new saren, they were unsuccessful.

      “then again, some stories can’t easily fit them, but throw them in anyway. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s freakin’ Ninja in your story!”

    2. Amnestic says:

      One of the issues, I think, is that the Cyborg Ninja concept had been a staple of the Metal Gear Solid series (excepting 3). Grey Fox was an extremely memorable character for most and the Cyborg Ninja in 2 was really plot relevant. Raiden’s transformation in MGS4 was pretty disappointing since it was all off screen but honestly I thought it worked for the most part, especially with a bit of foreshadowing at the end of 2. In essence, the existence of some sort of Cyborg Ninja in MGS4 was almost expected at this point.

      Contrast that with Kai Leng who came out of no where and acts with complete cutscene immunity to everything, especially the player. Raiden never had that since he was on your side (and, notably, was seriously wounded midgame even before the end stuff so clearly not straight up invincible). So I’ll agree – he was executed poorly. Even just introducing him in ME2 would’ve been good since at least then you’d have some idea about him.

      And yeah, Devil May Cry 3 did the Rival fight really, really well.

      1. Vect says:

        I agree. I didn’t have a problem with the Cyborg Ninja in MGS. It certainly doesn’t fit the Mass Effect setting.

        While I know he was a character in the books, Kai Leng in that felt more like Anderson’s adversary than anything. It seems really weird to suddenly spring him in the third game and tout him as “Shepard’s rival”. The fact that he has little to no character other than “Hates aliens”, which itself isn’t even well-demonstrated in the game certainly doesn’t help things. Like, maybe in pre-boss banter he could have at least made a point of taunting Shepard for allying with aliens and spout Warhammer 40K levels of Xeno hate, even calling Shepard a race traitor or something if she romanced Garrus. They could even give him a reason for hating aliens, something stupid and petty like he feels that a galaxy of alien badasses made him feel less special and that he feels a need to prove himself better than the non-humans since he already sees himself as superior than most humans.

        My main point is that while I like the idea of an actual rival, Kai Leng could have at least been more than just some asshat that clashed with the setting. Chris’ description of how he could have been one of many Cerberus goons sent by TIM certainly works.

  37. Arvind says:

    Man, Kai Leng is so awesome that his cutscene powers extend beyond Mass Effect 3 and into Spoiler Warning itself! In fact, nobody in the universe can say anything negative about Kai Leng!

    (This message brought to you by Kai Leng, who can hijack any communication channel ever – because he is so COOL!)

  38. Ateius says:

    I liked the challenge as a one-off thing. The long, awkward silences and silly attempts to praise some minor, incidental part of the game (“The dialogue is mostly english!”) were a great contrast to how the episode normally unfolds and possibly says more about the game’s failings than the usual deconstruction does.

    Of course, just because you can’t complain doesn’t mean I won’t. I won’t reprise all my previous complaints about Kai Leng, which are still just as valid here as at his last appearance, but I’m going to voice my displeasure with his JRPG-boss behaviour (“Oh no, you have defeated me! Now I shall effortlessly overthrow you in a cutscene, rendering all your struggles pointless”) and the fact that the Prothean VI’s “security protocols” apparently consist of “stop talking to people and hope really hard that nobody tries to download any data or anything”, because Kai Leng sure as heck didn’t seem to have any trouble accessing it.

    1. Luhrsen says:

      Yeah I really wondered why they even added that ‘security protocols’ line. Someone might say, “Well he used Reaper tech to hack it quickly”. But the VI went secure specifically because of sensing ‘reaper’. So it should have been anti-reaper protocols. Not to mention why even stay turned on at all. A shutdown would have stopped the download completely.

  39. Ofermod says:

    I just thought of something: If the Asari were extracting data from the beacon, which had Vendetta in it… how come they didn’t know about the Reapers?

  40. Asimech (Sumanai) says:

    I really like the visual story-telling in that cutscene where Kai Leng walks to the computer. The way he walks tells us that he’s either suffering from haemorrhoids and/or stiff joints, which humanizes him.

  41. Scow2 says:

    Actually… if you don’t dismiss your involvment with Cerberus out-of-hand because you completely missed the jump in what they became between games, I’m really NOT faulting this chain of events – Kai Leng’s goal isn’t to kill you. Kai Leng would probably have been a LOT less irritable if he worked within the game’s constraints, demonstrating skills as some sort of combination Vanguard-Sentinel-Infiltrator instead of JRPG Anime Ninja (And not having terrible boss-fight mechanics, and inducing Cutscene Incompetence into Commander Shepard). I don’t even find his appearance that offensive – he needs to goggles to hide his warped eyes.

    His goal here is to talk with you, and attempt to turn you BACK to the Illusive Man’s side, who you served before in the second game because he brought you back and gave you some pretty cool stuff to get your job done. Killing you is a last resort. And here’s where the plot of the third game starts shaping up. I think it works until Shepard opened her mouth and forgot that Cerberus wasn’t against hurting humanity in its ambiguous quest to aggressively advance it. It was neither Humanity’s “Shining Sword” nor “Dagger in the back” – it’s the sick surgeon with the scalpel that cuts Humanity open and turns it into some sort of supermutant capable of taking on anything the galaxy can throw at it… at the cost of itself.

    Also – you’re hardly ones to complain about someone doing silly flips through the air while Shepard bounces around the area crossing huge distances in fractions of a second like some sort of giant blue explosive pinball. Or maybe Kai Leng should do more of that sort of thing, keeping Shepard and his squad on the defensive on that match instead of just letting himself be a pinata between cutscenes.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *