Mass Effect 3 EP34: Menus and Silence

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Nov 13, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 162 comments

Link (YouTube)

The Illusive Man runs a super-powerful organization that opposed you in the first game, because they are inept pro-Human terrorist mooks. Then he brings you back from the dead, because he opposes the Reapers. But then he’s attacking the Citadel, because he’s… pro-Human again? But then he’s husking Humans because he wants the Reaper power for himself. Later on he tell the Reapers what the Prothean AI revealed about the catalyst, either because he’s indoctrinated or because he knew how the Reapers would respond. And then at the end he’s just a stupid crazy idiot who got indoctrinated ages ago.

You can’t say any particular thing is a plot hole, because he has character elements to justify almost any sort of behavior. His only real motivation is identical to the motivation of the writers: Oppose Shepard no matter what she’s trying to do, and oppose her in a way that leads to squad-based shooty combat. TIM is the avatar of the writers, and he doesn’t step out of the way until we meet the Star Child. Who is arguably the same thing. This is true of a lot of videogame antagonists. The problem is, it’s not supposed to be this obvious. Usually the writers hide that sort of thing behind a curtain of of characterization.

This could have been done much better, is what I’m saying.

Sorry for the rough start to this week. It really did take us a long time to get it all working, and by the time it happened some of us were tired and irritated. Maybe that was just me. At any rate, we’re near the end. Looks like we’ll finish this game right around the end of the month. We’ve picked out our next game. I won’t reveal what it is, but I will say the next season is likely to be a lot more positive.


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162 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 EP34: Menus and Silence

  1. Paul Spooner says:

    It’s an interesting observation that computer game antagonists exist (exclusively) to oppose the player. Ideally they would have other independent goals as well, just like good fictional villains. Intriguing.

    1. MrGuy says:

      Though, “existing to oppose the player” is the very definition of “antagonist.” There must be an opposing force to create conflict. This has been a mainstay of storytelling since before the days of God and Satan.

      Depth of motivation has never been required if we’re focusing on the protagonist’s story. A vague dark evil is a great canvas to paint your bright shining hero against (War of the Worlds, for example, is a great story where the antagonists have no story other than wanton destruction).

      The problem is trying to have it both ways – have both the protagonist AND the antagonist have “interesting” stories generally means the antagonist needs better motivation.

      Look, this isn’t an argument! It’s just contradiction!

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Take, for example, the comment I’m responding to. It has no purpose except to contradict; To oppose is the only reason it exists. It doesn’t offer any additional information, or even interesting perspectives. TIM is very much like that.

        The main difference is that TIM doesn’t admit it. It would have at least been understandable if he said “I’m trying to stop you Shepard!” and had done with it. As it is, there’s the implication (mentioned previously in the show about Cerberus invading the bathrooms) that he just exists to foil you, but it’s never mentioned in world. He’s a vaude-villain, played way too straight.

        1. False Prophet says:

          Brilliant, just brilliant. You two made my evening, thank you.

  2. Ofermod says:

    That Kai Leng email really was a horrible writing decision. It’s one thing to pull the old “Post-boss-fight-cutscene win” trick (what TvTropes refers to as a Heads I Win, Tails You Lose scenario). It’s pretty time-honored and, while it can be annoying if poorly executed, is kind of forgivable.

    It’s another entirely to rub it in the player’s face after you pull that trick, and have the boss taunt them about how weak they were.

    1. scowdich says:

      I think you may actually be referring to Cutscene Incompetence. Kai Leng has a way of inducing it, but Shepard is unusually prone to it even without him around.

      1. guy says:

        It’s both. It was Heads I Win Tails You Lose, and the reason for that was Cutscene Incompetence.

      2. Pyradox says:

        I don’t know why either of those terms has to be linked when they’re perfectly self explanatory.

        But yeah, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Renegade interrupts needs to be always active.

        1. anaphysik says:

          “I don't know why either of those terms has to be linked”


    2. meyerkev says:

      So I should admit that my first playthrough was a straight ~18-hour playthrough after I hadn’t slept for 2 days. So I was in no condition to see plot holes, and the places where the game was able to reach into my hindbrain worked really well. For example, Tali jumping off the cliff, and the Paragon Interrupt failure was absolute genius.

      Thessia is the first time you really fail. Tuchanka, you win, Rannoch, you win (albeit by accidentally killing the Quarians). Thessia, the IM wins, Kai Leng beats you, the Reapers kill everything, you LOSE for the first time since Earth. And then when Kai Leng calls you up and taunts you… that WORKED. Especially since it has that fake header. That get me mad.

      So despite the utter stupidity of it, I still enjoy getting that message.

      /Despite my maintaining that Female Renegade Shepard is best Shepard, this playthrough was Male mostly Paragon Shepard who also was my first ME1 and ME2 Shep’s.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        So what youre saying is that in order to enjoy me3 one needs to suffer from sleep depravation?

        1. Aldowyn says:

          I pretty much do that without the sleep deprivation. Although you could argue that I’m almost always sleep deprived.. hmm…

          Anyways, I pretty much have to actually TRY to see plotholes unless they’re REALLY blatant.

        2. Even says:

          Inebriation probably works too.

          1. SleepingDragon says:

            Ooh, they should make some kind of medication for this, something to make you out of it enough not to notice this stuff but that wouldn’t impede your motor control (so you don’t get frustrated with the gameplay itself). They could sell it at drugstores and a proof of purchase of a given game would entitle you to a given amount, like a prescription…

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            We get drunk,or we die!

        3. Hitchmeister says:

          Sleep deprivation assists in the willing Suppression Critical Faculties, which is similar to the Suspension Of Disbelief. It’s a video game version of it in which you decide, “As long as I’m having fun, I’m not going to worry about internal logic or plot holes.” So many things in video games make little sense if you analyze them too much, but in a good game you’re perfectly willing to say, “Doesn’t matter, I’m having fun.” If the fun slips, you start to take time to think, “Why is this happening?” and things go downhill from there. The pacing and nature of Spoiler Warning is such that it encourages too much thinking about what’s happening in a game. Although some games manage to get in the way of their own fun without any outside help.

          Shamus says the next game should be more positive. It’ll probably start out that way, but by the midway point I’ll be surprised if you can’t take that statement and compare it to the episode at hand with comedic effect. Virtually no game can take the kind of scrutiny that Spoiler Warning gives and come out unscathed.

          1. Tizzy says:

            I was thinking: next game will be more positive? I think I’ve heard that before, can’t remember for which game though.

            Never mind… Positivity is overrated anyway :-)

    3. The Hokey Pokey says:

      I have never encountered a game in which losing in a post fight cutscene was forgivable. If I win the fight, I win the fight. If I have to lose, don’t make me fight in the first place. “Failure is not an option until it is mandatory” is stupid game design.

      1. Ofermod says:

        There’s a forgivable one in FF VIII, simply because when you’re low on health, you get access to a powerful attack called a limit break. So what does the boss do when you beat them in the battle? Use their limit break in the cutscene that follows, because they’re low on health after the beating they took!

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Question, do you HAVE to win the fight? If so, then it’s still shit.

          1. Ofermod says:

            I’m honestly not sure. I’ve heard that you get that same cutscene if you lose, but I’ve never lost the fight, so… no idea.

            1. Ofermod says:

              The wiki says that you don’t have to win. You get some rewards for winning, but instead of a game over if you lose, you still get that cutscene of you getting your ass kicked by the Limit Break.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Then that works fine, they did a similar thing near the start of Kingdom Hearts 1 with a fight against Squall. If you win, Sora gets tired and collapses as if he lost, yet Squall is also visibly tired. Later on, he gives you stuff.

      2. Keeshhound says:

        I would argue that a boss fight where winning still counted as a loss would be forgivable if the fight itself was a decoy within the story. It’s much worse if the boss loses the fight and then turns everything around in a cutscene, but they managed to pull it off with Saren in ME1.

  3. Xanyr says:

    The Walking Dead? It’s the Walking Dead isn’t it?

    1. AbruptDemise says:

      Episode 5 isn’t out yet. I don’t think the Spoiler Warning crew would play through the whole game until it’s been out for a bit. They delayed playing through Mass Effect 3 until it everyone* had time to play through it and form opinions about it.

      *’Everyone’ may or may not include the members of the Spoiler Warning crew

      1. Amnestic says:

        I’m still hoping for Skyrim since I loved their FO3/NV seasons and would love to see more of the same.

        1. Zagzag says:

          Right with you on that one! In my opinion the two Fallout series were probably the best, and I’d love some more crazy sneak attacking action.

        2. TJtheman5 says:

          From the same guys that brought you that last stuff?

          1. Bryan says:

            …it’s More of the Same!

            1. Jace911 says:

              I think you mean “More of the Shamus”.


              1. Adam says:

                *more of the Sham-

        3. Zoe M. says:

          I’m rooting for either Dishonored or Psychonauts.

          1. Arvind says:

            Dishonored would be great for Spoiler Warning, it’s relatively short and I’m sure the crew would have lots of things to say about it.

          2. SleepingDragon says:

            I think Dishonored is a bit too new, but it is indeed a nice game with a lot of well thought out features, I think it’ll make for a good season eventually. Not so sure about Psychonauts, I love that game to bits but I’m not sure some of the twitchier platforming is well suited for the show (then again, cue in a number of Yakety Sax sequences), plus it’s strictly linear so no real option for stupid/silly choices.

        4. Yeah, I thought Shamus said Skyrim was coming after ME3 a while ago. I’m guessing that’s changed.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            He did, we’re just speculating.

        5. Deadyawn says:

          I’m actually kind of hoping they’ll skip it to be honest. Bethesda is not very good at writing and we all know it pretty well by now. The season on Fallout 3 was instructive because Fallout originated as story focused series and the writing just got worse as it progressed with Fallout 2 being not that great, Tactics being bad and Fallout 3 being completely fucking stupid.

          While Fallout 3 might have been a fun game, the writing was so utterly terrible that it was important to let people know about it. It was a horrible disfigured mockery of what the series had once been.

          Skyrim though? Well, its an elder scrolls game and, well…yeah. I mean they certainly could spend an entire season pointing out all the stupid shit in Skyrim and I’d still watch it but I kind of feel like it won’t be able to provoke much insightful commentary. Maybe thats just me, I don’t know.

        6. el_b says:

          reginald cuftbertson, he is, drugborn!

          1. Hitchmeister says:

            How much skooma can a Dragonborn take before they explode?

            1. el_b says:

              FUS RO BLEUGH!

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I hope that too as well.

    3. Viktor says:

      I know it won’t happen, but I’m hoping Mercenaries 2 or Saints Row 3. They’re fun and varied enough to stay entertaining, but still allow plenty of opportunities for nitpicking.

      Too bad they don’t do console games, Dead Rising would be perfect.

  4. Ofermod says:

    Also, ending the episode on Josh’s reaction to seeing the kid again was perfect.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Best precision F-Bomb, EVER!

    1. Phill says:

      True – that was one of the best timed cuts to credits ever. I’m still smiling about it.

  5. baseless research says:

    The video won’t load from your website for me, shamus. Also, the direct link to the youtube video has an empty target. It says “”.

    For those with issues watching, the correct link is this:

  6. newdarkcloud says:

    Chris makes a very valid point in this episode. You really could cut Cerberus’s entire contribution to the story and it would make the game so much better. They could have been interesting villains. However, because of Bioware once again mishandling a good concept, they become totally stupid and irrelevant.

    They only problem I had with all these menus being in different places was the fact that the upgrade station and shops were one loading screen away from the other shops (because PS3). I kinda wish all the crew was all of the same loading screen too. It just makes things easier. If I wasn’t the kinda guy who always check conversations, then I’d’ve never bothered with all of those loading screens in the way.

    As for Miranda’s dad. He’s just an idiot.

    1. Jakale says:

      I mentioned in the last video’s comments that Cerberus was the Umbrella Corporation of the ME universe as a joke, but it fits them so well. They exist solely to provide something to fight and a place to fight in.
      If that means that they have more giant facilities researching useless and dangerous things in entirely the wrong way than you can shake a stick at, then so be it.
      Nothing about them really matters to the plot and any attempt to fix that makes a jumble of confusing and conflicting information that ultimately has little to no purpose.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        That’s the worst part. For all their meandering and pointless distractions, Cerberus never really does anything and has no clear goals.

        1. False Prophet says:

          I might have said this way back but I’ll repeat it. What if the reason the Systems Alliance was so useless in ME2 wasn’t because they were morons, but because the government was polarized between two political blocs–a pro-interstellar bloc who want humanity to have a strong place in Citadel politics and to forge alliances and trade agreements, and an isolationist bloc who wants to build up humanity’s defensive capabilities and forge humanity’s destiny on its own terms, not under the limitations of the Citadel Council. The Codex gives us a name for the latter bloc: Terra Firma. Then Cerberus is either their officially disavowed but clandestinely-supported dirty-tricks squad, or alternatively most Terra Firma politicians are law-abiding, work within the system types and Cerberus is full of former TF extremists tired of trying to change things through legal channels.

          So why is the Alliance unprepared for the Reapers? Because while Citadel-bloc politicians were able to pass some cooperative measures (e.g. the combined taurian/human Normandy), Terra Firma manages to channel a similar amount of resources and taxpayer money into their isolationist, hunker-down and ride out the storm agenda (e.g.–“The Citadel was intended as the Reapers’ tool to hunt us all down and murder our planets one by one. Obviously the best way to protect ourselves is to completely divorce ourselves from the Citadel’s purview!”)

          The plot of ME2 could then have been, Shepard is trying to build and maintain this inter-species alliance to fight the Reapers, while Terra Firma and Cerberus do things to try and sabotage that goal. The former would use blackmail, vote-buying and other dirty political tricks (and perfectly legal ones, but Udina has a better skillset to deal with those). Meanwhile, Cerberus does more direct things like kidnapping important asari dignitaries, assassinating turian officials, and setting bombs in the Migrant Fleet to try and turn other species against humanity to force isolationism on the Systems Alliance.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            Now, see, this could have been interesting, with Terra Firma as the Sin Fein to Cerberus’ IRA

          2. Jakale says:

            We can wish for cool, complex stuff like that, but there’s always going to be what could have been and what we got. Personally I think they should have left Cerberus where it was at the beginning: harmful, semi-pervasive, but ultimately stupid and relatively small time galactic terrorists. They didn’t even have a stated goal. They just caused problems for (fairly often human) people directly or indirectly. Jack’s story wouldn’t even need to change. That fits their MO perfectly.

            If the creators wanted a big group that did things through less than legal channels, then I would have taken it more seriously if it had been some new group that showed up since the first game, maybe even your political split faction guys. Just not the guys that I mostly ever saw after their small, research facility had gone belly up, unleashed their own experiments, and killed the lot of them before I even got there.

          3. Grudgeal says:

            From what little I remember from ME1 I always though Cerberus was an Alliance black ops project gone rogue: An arm of the alliance military doing transhumanism, AI and xenobiology research on the cutting edge to improve the Alliance’s military efficiency, until the Alliance discovered their research had crossed the line from “unethical but cutting edge” to outright “unethical and a HUGE political liability if discovered”. This lead to Cerberus being disavowed, cut loose and attempted to be shut down, only for the Alliance to discover they’d squirreled away enough resources and materiel they’d appropriated to become near self-sufficient.

            Expanding that, that would make Cerberus basically this small band of ex-Alliance intelligence officers, scientists, analysts and soldiers who keep doing the stuff they’d always been doing except without the (unofficial) government oversight, creating a small group of “we will help humanity advance militarily whether you’d like us to or not” extremists who’d keep doing transhumanism projects and other unethical research, possibly seeking overtures with the Terra Firma party to lend some political clout to their side and allow their discoveries to be integrated into the Alliance.

            ME2 could still use them as an ally/enemy, possibly a Renegade option that would be hunting down pieces of Sovereign and other traces of Reaper tech, with the aim to improve humanity and provide higher-tech solutions to the Alliance to match the Salarians, while being disavowed by the very faction it sought to bolster. Contrarily, the Paragon option would be to aid the Alliance and STG to take them down or something, with the neutral option being to help the Shadow Broker plant plants in the organization so he/she/it could sell their research on the open market.

            Heck, Cerberus in that incarnation would be natural allies of the Collectors if you still introduced them as a minor race with sidequest potential: Cerberus traded humans with them for technology and examples of other species, and sicced them on Shepard to remove them. You could even imagine them using something as ridiculous as a resurrection, if only because it was new tech that needed to be tested because the long-term implications would be to make humans effectively immortal.

        2. Alex says:

          They brought Shepard back to life with the correct number of limbs. That’s enough to buy them a “don’t try to stop me leaving and I won’t shoot you” in my book.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Cerberus is worse than umbrella.At least umbrella doesnt flipflop so much and is always poised to just take over the world.

        1. Jakale says:

          Probably only because they have more money than sense. Nearly every leader in the organization has turned out to be completely nuts.

  7. Zagzag says:

    I thought you had said (or implied) that the next game would be Skyrim. Come on… I’ve been waiting A YEAR for you to give it the Spoiler Warning treatment, don’t let me down now!

    1. MrGuy says:

      I maintain my “for the love of God, SpecOps!”

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Alpha Protocol. Then, Dishonored. Then, Assassin’s Creed 3.

        1. Ofermod says:

          Planescape: Torment.
          Or the Enhanced Edition of Baldur’s Gate that’s about to come out.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Planescape’s awesome, but looking at other people reading low-res text for 30 hours on end probably wouldn’t be that fun.

            1. Ofermod says:

              The solution: Rutskarn reads all that low-res text in his dolphin-lover voice.

              Everyone loses!

        2. Aldowyn says:

          Haven’t they said no to Alpha Protocol in the past? Dishonored… eh sure. Josh playing that would be GREAT. AC3 would be interesting, as I think the plot is much better than AC2 while the mechanics… aren’t, for the most part.

          1. Raygereio says:

            Haven't they said no to Alpha Protocol in the past?

            And with good reason. Such good reason that I wonder why the hell people still want the SW crew to LP it.

            Alpha Protocl is not very likely to result in a fun showing. It just doesn’t fit Spoiler Warning’s style of LP.

            1. krellen says:

              It’s the timed dialogue system. Doesn’t give them time to discuss what choices should be made.

              Just in case anyone wasn’t clear on it.

              1. Nick says:

                That hacking mini-‘game’ doesn’t help either, on the PC it made me quit playing it after about an hour

                1. StashAugustine says:

                  AP’s basically the only game I recommend playing as a hacker first.

                  1. Deadpool says:

                    It is SUPER easy with two analog sticks…

                    I would quite enjoy watching Alpha Protocol anyways. Seeing Josh make quick decisions would be HYSTERICAL…

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      How about a play through of Minecraft? Multiplayer server, so everyone can play at once. That’s my guess.

    3. Lovecrafter says:

      Personally, I’m hoping for Dark Souls or Spec Ops.

      1. somebodys_kid says:

        MDK 2 Enhanced Version.
        Actually I’ll just go and play it myself now!

      2. IFS says:

        Dark souls would work better for a special episode I think, the games difficulty would be made worse by having people giving commentary the whole time and could get a bit repetitive. That said I do want to see it at some point in at the very least a special episode.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Yeah, and plus, the crew’s specialty is plot and story analysis. Dark Souls, while I wouldn’t say it has a nonexistent story, it would be nearly impossible to try analyzing it.

    4. Bedla says:

      Oh please, PLEASE let it be Skyrim. The Fallout 3 season is definitely my favorite. I guess it’s the special chemistry between Josh and Bethesda? When first playing through Skyrim, there wasn’t an hour without me thinking “I can’t wait for Spoiler Warning to completely destroy this game!”, and it would be awesome to finally see that happen.

      However, a quick run through Dishonored as a palate cleanser before that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

      Oh, and long time listener, first time caller, all that stuff… ;)

      1. Deadpool says:

        I think Skyrim is the safest bet… Even if I’d probably prefer something else.

        On the other hand, Fallout 3 is also my favorite season…

  8. baseless research says:

    “Stuff happened for no reason” seems to sum up everything in the Mass effect series post ME1.

    1. Klay F. says:

      What Shamus said in the post is quite damning of the writing also, that Cerberus, as an organization, is just a tool to move the plot forward. The problem with this is that only complete hacks write stories where the main characters’ only contribution to said story is to react to things. In good fiction (like Half-Life 1 & 2, Portal 1 & 2, hell even Dragon Age), the main characters (i.e. you, at least in terms of video games) are the ones that drive the story, and make things happen. What the characters actually do is determined by their characterization.

      In Mass Effect 2 and 3, less so in 1, the plot is Shepard and company reacting to things Cerberus/The Collectors/Reapers initiate.

  9. burningdragoon says:

    Having Kai Leng kill Miranda is nice I suppose, but it has 2 major failings. 1) When she dies Shepard (Male at least) says “I’ve never met anyone like you” or something like that. Even if you’ve been mean to her the whole game. 2) When you kill Kai Leng finally Shepard shouts “This for Miranda!”

    1. anaphysik says:

      Luckily Josh is going to get “This is for Kirrahe!”

  10. TMTVL says:

    No guys, Jacob wasn’t a genuine casualty. Thane was. Remember him, the fish guy who just sat in a closet ’till he died?

    1. Deadyawn says:

      Oh, man, I laughed for ages when that happened.

      Shephard slaughters her way through an entire building full of mercenaries and robots to recruit one guy, only to leave him in the storage compartment under the stairs for a good few weeks. And then, in final climactic confrontation he’s killed by a bit of debris without so much as a “Oh Noes!” from ANYBODY!

      1. Ofermod says:

        No, no, there was that remark of “They got Thane!” from… Miranda.

        So yeah, no comments from anybody. My bad.

  11. MrGuy says:

    I’m not sure what’s worse – Chris quoting Keanu to justify military tactics, or it making perfect sense.

  12. LazerBlade says:

    I hold that while Quake 4 was not the best game on the planet, it did a great job handling a boss battle the player is supposed to lose. Another good example is probably the fight at the end of the intro stage of MegaMan X. I think when it comes down to it, the reason those two worked for me when Kai borking Leng didn’t was because the boss was legitimately more powerful than you in gameplay. This way it feels so much more like you lost a battle and so much less like you creamed the boss and then the writers used their magic to make him win anyway.

    Also, an interesting note: both of those games allowed you to ultimately confront and defeat the boss once you had grown in power and character. You felt yourself become a better character and a better warrior until the next confrontation. In this game, there is no “Shepherd loses because she wasn’t good enough but eventually gains the needed skill to win later,” instead it’s replaced with “Shepherd loses because CUTSCENE TROLLING LOLZ! But eventually wins later because EPIC VENGEFUL BOSS ENCOUNTER LOLZ!”

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Agreed. MegaMan X was really a fantastic game. I remember finally getting to that first boss (it took a while!) and going “wow, this guy is tough!” and really feeling like it was a legitimate challenge. And then to beat him later. So awesome. Speaking of which:
      This guy could do well on Spoiler Warning… maybe.

      1. LazerBlade says:

        Oh yes, it has been awhile since I watched this. I liked MMX, but watching this really made me appreciate it so much more. I’m kinda sad there hasn’t been anymore Sequelitis. ;(

        1. Dragmire says:

          I’ve heard he’s working on a Zelda one. I think he mentioned it in a game grumps episode somewhere in the Megaman X playthrough.

          EDIT: Found it.

          He starts talking about around the 2:10-2:20 mark.

    2. Vect says:

      A similar one would be Nohman in the Anubis mech in the Zone of the Ender series. He was the endboss of the first game and he was completely undefeatable since he had a teleport move that made him impossible to touch. He’s still undefeatable throughout the second game until the final level where Jehuty gets the same powerup that puts them on even footing.

      1. Mattias42 says:

        Personally I was PISSED at that ending.

        Leo has fought through an entire army and you get curb-stomped in what might as well have been a cut-scene. Ugh. Completely broke my immersion.

        Great game, but man, with that ending? I’m soooooo glad it got a (much better) sequel.

  13. HiEv says:

    Apologies for going slightly off-topic or if I’ve missed the answer to this before.

    What’s the status on Josh’s Shogun let’s play?

    We were heading towards the climax, but it’s been a while, so I’m kind of anxious to find out what happens next. I’m not trying to be rude or rush him to do it now, I’m more just curious about when/if it is coming.


    1. Grudgeal says:

      Seconded. I want more samurai deaths, the Oda clan collapsing, and Josh expounding on Japanese history (and me looking like an overeducated arse for nitpicking at it in the comments), damn you.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Yeah, I wasn’t really interested in the gameplay of the TW series, but the comments and history discussions from Josh and the people in the comments were really interesting.
        So I hope the series returns someday too :(

        1. Hitchmeister says:

          Oops, sorry. It’s probably my fault — or people like me. I wasn’t really paying attention to those posts. I’d assumed since they stopped that he finished the game.

          Since he apparently didn’t: “Get back to work, Josh!”

  14. Sombersome says:

    Frankly, I enjoy the quiet parts. The dull hum of the ship’s electronic equipment is much easier on the ears than the cacophony of gun blasts, explosions and taunts they have to endure when you’re fighting.

    The ending was excellent ;D

  15. Tohron says:

    Just noticed it watching the video – at the end of the Sanctuary segment, Hackett says that their searching alerted Cerberus, so they don’t have the element of surprise. Then, at the start of the Cerberus base assault, he says you have the element of surprise. Clearly there was a communication failure somewhere…

    1. Ofermod says:

      Maybe Hackett finally figured out that Cerberus was so incompetent that even when they knew an assault was coming, they’d be surprised?

    2. Indy says:

      I think they’re only surprised if you don’t have Miranda alive. When she’s alive, she plants a tracking beacon on screw Kai Leng’s ship. If she’s dead, the Alliance searches for their base. I don’t understand why anything happens the way it does at this point. Why don’t we just use Traynor’s weird tracking thing? Why can’t Miranda tell us where it is? (I know it moves now, but in the game, it’s never mentioned) If screw Kai Leng was trying to taunt us, why not tell us where the base was?

      And then we get the drop on them somehow because the writer’s had written this line before they determined how you’d find them.

  16. I liked the Mako too, Chris! D:

    1. Deadyawn says:

      You know, I have to say that I never really felt the lack of it in the newer games. I mean, yes, a sense of exploration is probably something you’ll want to capitalize on in a game set in SPACE and vehicle sections can be a good way to break up the gameplay. Oh and its way better than probing for minerals. It’s just that the whole mechanic seemed kind of reduntant to me. We are talking about a linear bioware rpg, for the most part it’s the story that makes it compelling and not the gameplay. Whenever I was down on a planet driving around like a drunken lunatic, it always felt like I’d rather be doing something directly related to the story and continuing with the narrative. I didn’t really want to waste my time with the slightly shitty exploration stuff. Even if it had been good I don’t think I would’ve done a whole lot of it.

      1. ryath says:

        I definitely felt the loss. I think it’s mostly a loss of any sense of scale. Actually, one of my most vivid memories of Mass Effect is exploring one of those random, barren, ice planets. It just gave me the impression that the universe was this massive, lonely place, which made the moments of interaction between characters and the playful banter that much sweeter.

        Nice to have the contrast, I guess? The huge, inhospitable universe and the grounded, human moments.

        Plus I just love exploration mechanics.

      2. krellen says:

        Whereas for me, driving around on planets looking for stuff and looking at scenery are all my best memories of ME1. I hardly remember the set pieces.

    2. Hitchmeister says:

      The Mako was never the problem. The bizarrely spiky planets we had to drive it around on were the problem. Like Shamus said, 10 minutes with an erosion simulator would have solved 90% of the problems with Mako exploration.

      1. Ohh yes. Why on EARTH was everything sooo MOUNTAINOUS?

  17. zob says:

    That credit sequence sums up whats awful with the game. Shepard falls multiple times + Screw Kai Leng + that random kid.

  18. rrgg says:

    Credit where credit’s due I guess. It did take quite a while before I finally realized that my squad members were constantly teleporting to keep up with me.

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      That’s common in a lot of games. It should be a TVTropes page. Anytime you have AI companions, followers, squad-mates, etc. and any degree of free roaming you tend to get separated from them. If the game is well designed they’ll teleport to catch up in such a way that if you look around they’ll be right behind you acting like, “Hey. We’ve been here the whole time, really.”

  19. Ravens Cry says:

    Off topic, but . . .
    I may be alone in this, but I dislike how Spoiler Warning is basically taking over the blog. Having Spoiler Warning once or twice a week would be preferable in my view if we could get more other stuff. Like Josh’s engaging written Let’s play of Shogun 2, or Shamus’s action reports on his programming projects or some rant on something that goads one of ya into a foaming nerd rage. I liked those a lot and while I liked Spoiler Warning too, especially the vitriol infused wrath that was Spoiler Warning: Fallout 3, I like your other material as well.

    1. I disagree. It’s my favorite feature. I also like listening to it like a podcast.

      Besides, two episodes a week?! We’ll be in Mass Effect 3 until the actual events of the first game take place!

      Speaking of the first game, seeing the old ME playthrough reminded me of how jarringly weird the beacon-visions were. I see they were going for some kind of fusion of organic and synthetic, but modern-day resistors stuck in chuck roast? And real footage of it contrasted with a polygon-based game? It was an odd artistic choice, but I guess it doesn’t matter since they kind of downplay that whole thing in the two remaining games.

      1. Phantom Hoover says:

        Maybe Spoiler Warning is your favourite thing on this blog, but why should it be the only one made? Heterogeny is good.

        1. It’s not the only thing on the blog. Granted, it dominates, but I’m assuming that’s because of the labor involved.

    2. Nick says:

      Also, I think you’re overestimating how much of Shamus’ time Spoiler Warning takes. As he’s said often enough, that’s all on Josh. I assume Shamus is more busy on writing projects and doesn’t have extra stuff to share with us for now, so I can wait.

    3. Hitchmeister says:

      I don’t think Shamus has any programming projects to report on lately. All indications have been that he’s working on another novel and he doesn’t like to write about writing much. As Lazarus Long said, “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of — but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”

    4. Shamus says:

      For the record:

      What others have said is true: I’m working on a book. We’re also trying to move and dealing with personal-life stuff that’s eating blog time.

      If we didn’t have Spoiler Warning, the blog would be blank. I do try to make the SW posts interesting / entertaining, even for people who don’t watch the episodes. Okay, 4 posts a week about Mass Effect 3 is maybe not the best content, but its something.

      1. Ravens Cry says:

        Well, thanks for the update, Shamus. Hope things go well for you on all fronts. :)

  20. By the way, noting the standing around, grindy combat, etc. What happened to Josh’s “Magical Fast Forward” power? Or does that only work with do-overs and inventory management in Fallout games?

  21. Neko says:

    I’m with Chris, I liked the Mako. Bounce around on an alien planet, possibly one with a toxic atmosphere, tackle objectives in whatever order you please or omit some altogether.

    It just needed more variety in terrain and buildings.

    1. Tvtim says:

      Yes, me too, I loved the Mako. My favorite thing about it was that it was so floaty, you could jump and just screw around on a planet on the way to an objective. My favorite was when I was able to actually flip the Mako on it’s back and was able to drive upside down by using the thrusters to push myself along; was good times until I hit a cliff, it fell and righted itself.

      Good times just flying around, seeing how much damage you can get from a single fall, and getting it to smash onto it’s top and whether or not it’d stick.

      1. Spammy says:

        Funniest thing I ever did to the Mako was make it spin like a pretty ballerina on one corner. I hit a ramp with a twist, but the Mako can’t turn over, so it just spun around the left hind wheel for a few revolutions.

        1. Tvtim says:

          No, it can definitely turn over, you just really have to work at it…throwing it off a cliff at an angle helps.

        2. Dragmire says:

          I remember ramming a Collossus with the Mako on Therum and somehow got an arm lodged in the Mako’s geometry, I ended up dragging it through that whole section. I was laughing pretty hard until I stopped at the end and found out it wasn’t quite dead yet.

          It was a little weird, I felt like I committed animal cruelty or something like that…

  22. Jokerman says:

    Spec ops is my bet, although has lots of boring long combat sections too – i was playing that game just slogging through to get to the next story bit.

    1. drkeiscool says:

      I actually really enjoyed the combat in Spec Ops for some reason. I think having such little spare ammo helped, forcing me to actually move around and engage the enemy instead of just hunkering down behind cover.

      Playing on easy helped.

  23. StashAugustine says:

    I hope Skyrim, so I can change from pretending this is actually a great game to claiming an acclaimed and beloved game is in fact kinda shit.

    Anyway, I always thought (if they’d actually planned this out) they should have set up Henry Lawson as a Cerberus operative in Miranda’s loyalty mission. It would have provided a little foreshadowing for this and given her a reason to turn on Cerberus at the end for more reason then “Shepard says so.”

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I’ll defend them on that. In ME2, they establish that Mr. Lawson is a huge financial contributor for Cerberus and is obsessed with leaving a legac behind. It’s not too huge of a stretch for him to start working for them after Miranda and Oriana go missing.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Stash’s point was not about ME3 but instead RE:Miranda leaving Cerberus at the end of ME2 except she didn’t because she was all dead >;].

      2. StashAugustine says:

        Really? I thought I missed the “he’s contributing to Cerberus bit,” although now that I think about it I wasn’t surprised when he’s working for them in 3. Maybe I just assumed mad scientists just flock to them or something.

  24. Spammy says:

    I think in addition to the control problems with the Mako (which are really only problems if you can’t laugh at watching your tank spin like a ballerina), Bioware needed to stop, take a deep breath, and look over their idea to put open world tank driving in the game.

    Part of why I keep putting up with New Vegas’s bugginess is because I know I can poke around, explore, and find something cool. The Mako sections as they were really just padded out the resource gathering time, they really didn’t add anything, which was the huge disappointment to me. I’m on an alien world, and I’m really just twiddling my thumbs and praying that the next plain has a Thresher Maw, because those were kind of fun to fight.

    So basically what I want is Far Cry 2’s approach to combat (i.e. running around the map, no fixed way to do anything, take the approach you please) with Mass Effect 1’s setting and planet maps and New Vegas’s environmental storytelling as a reward for my efforts.

  25. Nimas says:

    You know, I’m surprised no one has mentioned how much more awesome the game would be if Shamus’ comment was true. If Shepard was the hulk, I’d imagine her getting onto TIM’s base, telling everyone to leave cause she’s got this, and then going cathartic on it.

  26. guy says:

    Man, Shepard kneecapping hostages deserves a place in the pantheon of cool resolutions of cliched scenes alongside Mal walking up the ramp. This is actually the second time; in Lair of the Shadow Broker she can do the same thing with that hostage situation.

    The Illusive Man being Indoctrinated was such an unreveal that I was unclear why any of the characters were confused on that point throughout the whole game.

    I always grabbed AP ammo. The new AP ammo was pretty much the best thing even before I realized it let me shotgun Guardians in the chest.

    Chris: ONE OF US ONE OF US ONE OF US. Yeah, I love the Mako. That conversation would have been better if the Hammerhead and Mako had both been in the game.

    So, getting through this early: The Fifth Fleet attacks Cerberus HQ. In the middle of the hard-fought bat- wait, what? WHAT? Cerberus is taking on Fifth Fleet?. One of the ones with carriers and dreadnoughts? This is way more outlandish than the stuff they’ve already pulled. Last game a single cruiser was a serious problem they needed all their resources to deal with, and suddenly they can fight dreadnoughts that could swat that cruiser like a fly? Just the armies were pretty implausible even with Sanctuary feeding them troops due to logistics issues, but this is a whole new level.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      On Thane’s loyalty mission, the kid takes a racist politician with gang ties hostage. The Renegade (non-persuade) option is to straight-up murder the hostage.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        “Hostages are only valuable if I want them alive.”

        I love how Thane’s like “Why did you kill him?” and Sheppard goes “Because you said you didn’t want your son too.” and Thane just accepts it.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      I actually took Warp Ammo over Armor-Piercing Ammo at first because I felt it was more in line with my Adept character. I think it gives higher overall damage boost (about +30% at max?), but I can’t be sure.

      1. guy says:

        I grabbed it more because of the shoot through cover thing than just the damage boost.

    3. anaphysik says:

      On bonus powers: Energy Drain from Tali and Reave from Kaiden are both pretty handy.
      Carnage is kind of rubbish :/
      Though at least it does make people asplode.

      EDIT: should have been a reply to newdarkcloud to be more on-topic.

    4. Amnestic says:

      I was a Vanguard like Josh. My ammo stuff was covered by Fire/Cryo, so I went ahead and took Reave since the minor damage protection was nice and it gave me a long range DoT I could fire out when Charging was a terrible idea (like Banshees sometimes).

      1. guy says:

        I actually was also a Vanguard. What really made me love it was the way it negated Guardians, who were the bane of my existence because my only other counter to them was Pull, which had a long cooldown and thus kept me from using Charge for a dangerously long time. Plus shooting through thin cover was just fun.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Meh, stick an armour-piercing mod (like the shredder mod for shotguns) on your weapon and you get the same cover-busting effect. I’d rather use up a mod slot than a power slot (especially when I could have Incendiary + shredder mod) :/

  27. Neil D says:

    Man, the glitch at 4:00 reminded me of Creepy Watson.

    1. Me, too.

      And why don’t those guys behind Amnesia and Penumbra swipe that mechanic?

  28. anaphysik says:

    Chris: “the third in a series of 10-hour games”

    Am I weird? Because ME1 was a 60-hour game for me. So was ME2. Even ME3 was still a 35-hour game. (And I’m not counting reloads or quicksave/quickload events, but just the actual playthrough time.)

    Now I know that’s weird to a certain extent; from what I’ve heard, most people found ME2 to be a 30- to 40-hour game (and if I had had ‘Online Feedback’ enabled I could have easily snagged the longest playthrough title). But 10 hours? Come on.

    (Hell, even SW, which is incredibly compressed, has spent about 11 hours getting to this point, not 7.)

    1. Aldowyn says:

      They tend to be 20-30 for me. Apparently I’m super efficient at playing games like that, it just doesn’t take me as long.

    2. Shamus says:

      I’m sure he was just approximating. If you asked me how long ME3 was, I’d have said something similar. I had no idea we were at the 11 hour mark until you said so.

      When I take a break from a game, I often don’t close the program. I just alt-tab for a bit. Sometimes I leave and come back later, totally forgetting that the game was running. Then Steam tells me I have 200 hours in Skyrim, but I don’t know how much was actual playing and how much was spent at the pause screen. This is on top of the fact that it’s easy to lose track of time when playing a game.

      Point being: I often give wildly inaccurate estimates for how long a game is, particularly when you’re talking about a long game.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well if you skip all the bonus missions,all the dialogues,never reload to see if saying something different will get you a different result,dont give a shit about switching guns around,already know roughly which guns and powers you want,you could probably finish all three in about 40-60 hours.

      But if thats how youll play your first time through,and you arent a reviewer,I dont think rpgs are for you.

      1. What if you’re role-playing an exceptionally impatient adventurer?

        “Yeah, yeah, ultimate evil or whatever. Let’s get this over with so I can decorate my house, get the best outfit I can find, and steal everyone’s stuff in the name of heroism.”

    4. Piflik says:

      Don’t know how you got 60h out of ME…I finished the game with all sidemissions and stuff in 24h (I admit that was 24h straight, because that game was still fun, as opposed to the sequels)…haven’t played the other ones to give an appropriate estimate, but I doubt they are running longer than the first one.

    5. anaphysik says:

      Well, that’s annoying. italic tag was only supposed to surround ’10 hours?’ and not the rest.

    6. newdarkcloud says:

      Well, we saw in the previous two SW seasons that when you cut out all of the side stuff in ME games, the plot itself only takes about 10-15 hours or so to do. It’s just that all of the side-stuff, especially in ME2, tend to be of higher quality.

      Even in ME3. The mission at Grissom Academy stands as my favorite mission in the game.

  29. Raygereio says:

    I still maintain that if Bioware put some friggin effort into the various random planets of ME1 and didn’t have what looked like an intern churning out a crapton of fractal generated landscape in one morning, more people would have remembers the Mako fondly.
    Though it was funny how the skies looked often pretty good (almost as if someone put effort into them) and the ground textures were bland, uniform and featureless.

    Also, I can’t help but be somewhat bewildered at Chris’ complaint of not knowing stores existed. And I suppose those are similar to comments Shamus made a bunch of episodes ago.
    Maybe I misunderstood the complaint, but I recall Liara flatout telling you that upgrade menu in her room exists. And the various stories can easily be found in the citadel. They’re not hard to spot. I recall just one that’s somewhat hidden. And Cortez says in his first conversation that once you’ve found a store, you don’t need to track it down again to access it. You can just access it from the Normandy.

    It really feels weird for me to defend Bioware. But if you as a player don’t care enough to pay attention, then are the developers obligated to take your hand and guide you like a baby?
    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying anyone who misses things is doing it wrong. Rushing through is a certainly valid playstyle. But you kinda have to just accept the risk of missing content if you do so.

    1. The galaxy needed more wicked jumps so you could catch some sweet air.

      Just so long as they didn’t use Skate 3’s physics engine.

      1. Raygereio says:

        There actually a physics glitch like that with the mako. I don’t recall what triggered it, but the mako could end up whirling through the air helplessly slowly taking more and more falldamage as it bounced of nothing.

        Edit: Like this:

        1. anaphysik says:

          Reminds me of this for some reason:

    2. Aldowyn says:

      … CHRIS didn’t know stores existed? Rushing through a game does not seem very chris-like

      I’m with you, I completely don’t understand how you can not know stores exist. That’s not at all the games’ fault. The only difference is that in ME3 there’s typically not.. you know.. PEOPLE at the stores that you can talk to. Even ME2 had that.

      Oh the little things that make ME3 seem less like an RPG and more like a shooter with an upgrade system…

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Well, you’re never really told to explore the Normandy. Hell, Shamus missed Cortez completely his first playthrough and he’s the one who tells you of the store and upgrade terminals in the Armory. I can see how you would miss that since Cortez does kind of blend in with the environment as a generic looking mook.

        They never tell you that the Squad Powers are changed in the Med-Bay. It’s also where you can re-spec characters. To most people, especially if you played ME2, would probably skip the Med-Bay since they know nothing important happens there. I could even see that.

        As for Liara, you’re natural inclination after Mars would be to visit her and she tells you of the upgrade terminal. I don’t know how you would miss that.

        Remember, Chris played ME3 specifically for Spoiler Warning, so I can see why he would rush through the game.

  30. Eric says:

    Anachronox for next month. I called it.

    Though honestly, you should just download the DX10 mod for Deus Ex, get the updated modded executable, and change the audio buffer size to 60. It’ll record fine.

    Yeah I really like Deus Ex. :(

    1. Ofermod says:

      Nah, they should record Deus Ex exactly the same way they did last time.

      See how long it takes before Shamus’s haunted audio card manages to start a cult to Cyborg Satan.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Oh man, Anachronox would be amazing! But… usually this show does “recent” games. And 2001 was… twelve years ago? What? We’re living in the future. WE’RE LIVING IN THE FUTURE GUYS!

  31. Sally says:

    At 7:39 in the video is the dramatic conclusion to a player influenced story spanning three games… and it’s a wee little pop up in the corner of the screen that says “Breeder Queen Betrayal.” That’s it.

    I spent five minutes hunting through my assets looking for more information about this betrayal. Never did find it. I wound up hitting the internet out of frustration when nothing further came up in game (no emails, no shadow broker info, not even an overheard conversation between the loading screen/airlock guards about it)!

    I still can’t believe after all the hard choices and hand wringing over the fate of the rachni, that’s how it can end. With a pop up.

    1. Ofermod says:

      I think there are a few lines in the War Assets about it, but yeah, that’s pretty much it. Really a complete cop-out (as in, more than the artificial queen was to begin with).

  32. noahpocalypse says:

    I predict… HALO 4!!!Z0MG4W3SOMENE5S!!1!

  33. Guvnorium says:

    Hello darkness my old friend… I’ve come to talk with you again…

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