Mass Effect 3 EP35: A Little Unwhelming

By Shamus
on Nov 14, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I know we picked on this section of the game where you assault the Cerberus base, but it’s actually got some good points. My excuse is that the dream sequence caused some sort of build-up of complaint energy that needed to be released. That’s totally how it works.

Chris was right, in that the enemy variety is pretty good. There’s a good mix of tight corridors and open areas, along with some multi-level combat to keep things fresh. There are bright areas, dark areas, cool blues, and deep reds. You’ve got snipers, turrets, shield guys, standard mooks, and mechs.

The thing where you launch the fighter to blast a hole in the wall is a pretty classic BioWare gate. (Like using the mining laser in Mass Effect 1.) It’s there to give you a combat breather and allow time for a few lines of dialog without stopping for a cutscene.

As a bonus, the whole “Am I who I think I am?” moment takes the form of a dialog wheel that you can exit if you’re apathetic or you’ve seen it before, which is better than packing it into a linear conversation.

So yeah. Ignoring the whole “Cerberus” thing, this is actually a fun section of the game.

I still like the idea that your team breaks into their base to find Cerberus is fighting rogue robots, space-zombies, holographic ninjas, haywire vehicles, carnivorous plants, biotic dogs, robot thresher maws, zombie thresher maws, astrally projected thresher maws, regular thresher maws, indoctrinated ghosts, and an army of mantis-men. It’s like this every day at Cerberus HQ. There’s a line of troopers punching in at the Cerberus timeclock, just shooting the breeze and talking about what sort of failed, escaped experiments they’ll fight today. They ignore you when you blast your way through the Cerberus break room because 1) You’re not on the schedule of stuff to fight and 2) they’re on break.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!



A Hundred!A Hundred!204224 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. ? says:

    Technically Shepard IS their science project gone rogue and trying to kill every Cerberus agent that gets in her way…

    Wouldn’t it be fun to learn that the Reapers are remnants of Cerberus time travel experiment gone horribly horribly as usual?

  2. StashAugustine says:

    Plus, this is the mission where you get the minigrenade launcher. And between blowing the shit out of the Illusive Man’s big room, killing Kai Leng, and watching the Alliance fleet wipe the floor with the Cerberus ‘fleet,’ it’s like a cathartic checklist.

    Yes, this is where you get the romance scene. I like how Shepard wakes up in sexy black lingerie by herself.

  3. JohnnySteps says:

    I like how the new CoD has just as many choices as consequences as ME3.

    Seriously EA wtf

  4. Din Adn says:

    Oh man, that last paragraph fits the character of Cerberus from ME1 so well.

    I am now imagining an alternate Mass Effect coninuity where the mission you describe is a sidequest that allows you to stop Cerberus once and for all, if you’re so inclined.

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    “Killing gameplay” (as described) doesn’t seem like a perscriptive idea. If the best moments in a game are non-gameplay moments, then the designers should be writing movies, music, or novels, not games. This would be like saying “sometimes the most impressive part of a novel is the awesome picture on the cover”. While it’s true for a lot of books, it’s not really an admirable goal for authors.

    • Phantos says:

      They are called Video Games, after all. Not that there isn’t too much Hollywood envy in games today, and more developers should be using more of the tools at their disposal intrinsic to video games.

      Just sayin’, a “cinematic” video game has a right to exist.

      • Klay F. says:

        Yes, they have a right to exist, but I’m still questioning why the people who make “cinematic” videogames are in the videogame business at all if they’d rather not let the player mess up their awesome set-pieces with silly things like agency? Don’t answer that question, because I already know the answer: because they don’t have to talent to succeed in the movie business.

        The one thing that sets videogames apart from all other entertainment is that its interactive. If you can’t leverage this unique aspect of the medium, there is a very compelling argument that you don’t really belong in the industry.

        • Jingleman says:

          I think that there’s something to be said for the non-killing bits. I haven’t read the article in question (maybe somebody could link it?) but it sounded like Chris was talking about “less competitive” moments, not “non-interactive” moments. Framed that way, I think that they are some of the more important points in a game. Every game has to have breaks in combat to prevent fatigue and avoid falling into a never ending grind. The best games use those moments to help build tension for the next “shooty bit,” while contributing to the overall story or setting. Some of my favorites are in Half Life 2 (and episodes): the train station, arriving at Ravenholm, Alex examining the hot rod, and arriving at White Forest. Those are memorable moments that give context to the combat sections.

          So, I don’t think this is a conversation about player agency vs cutscenes & railroading, I think it’s about how well done the downbeats can be.

          • Klay F. says:

            The fact that the vast majority of videogames only form of agency and interactivity is killing things only serves to highlight how inept most game developers are at utilizing the single most unique aspect of said games.

            I know Chris mentioned that driving around listening to tunes in GTA is not gameplay, but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

            How well done the downbeats are directly relates to player agency though, because in the vast majority of games these days, the downbeats only ever happen in cutscenes, which is antithetical to what a videogame actually IS. The downbeats you like so much in Half-Life 2 were good precisely because you still retain control (in other words, you were still playing the game, rather than being force to watch through a cutscene).

            • Jingleman says:

              I think that’s the point that I was making. It’s not like these downbeats have to have significant player choice to be considered the less-competitive bits Chris was talking about. Minimal player control is enough, usually, if it’s handled competently. We can debate whether control of the camera or minimal movement in a railroaded series of areas is sufficient to be considered “player agency,” but I think the real point is that it’s possible for some of the most memorable bits of the game to be outside of combat. I mentioned the HL2 scenes to illustrate what can be done outside of cutscenes, but I think that cutscenes have their place, too, though. The best developers have a sense of balance between dictating the player’s experience and allowing interactivity.

              • Tizzy says:

                YES! YES! YES! YES!

                As soon as this killing gameplay notion came up, I immediately thought of the opening of Half-Life 2, one of my favorite part in any game ever. The first time I played it, I remember incredulity: how long will I have to play a shooter without shooting?

                Memorable, exhilarating, and still potentially deadly if you play it wrong, BTW. And it fits nicely into the story.

                But I will agree that cutscenes have their place as well. Actually, one of my frustrations in HL2 was the feeling that I was always looking at the wrong place at the wrong time when people were talking to me. Oh well…

    • TMTVL says:

      Two words: visual novels.

      I wonder what gaming would be like if those ever became popular.

  6. Phantos says:

    Hey Shamus, I know this is only very loosely connected to ME3, but did you hear about the hacked Origin accounts?

    And how EA just straight up said “Nothing to see here, move along people!”?

    • Raygereio says:

      Let’s be fair for a moment and not engange in mindless EA bashing.
      Looking at that article, that’s not what EA said. The first generic responce is pretty routine. You can interprete that as “Nothing to see here, move along people!”, but all it really means is that EA support at that moment had no idea what’s going on.
      EA’s second response was that they so far haven’t found any security leaks on their end. And looking at what happened it’s not an impossibillity that the leak was on the user side.

  7. newdarkcloud says:

    I can’t wait until Josh sees the consequences of his choice to destroy the Collector Base.

  8. baseless research says:

    Alright, Chris. If at any time someone says “mcguffin”, he or she needs to drink a double whiskey.

  9. Ofermod says:

    Wow, it’s like that bit from AssCreed, where Francesco di Pazzi trolls Ezio by running up and down ladders!

    Also, this whole sequence is ridiculous. Cerberus has the ability to put up a fight against an entire Alliance Fleet, but not to design fighter catapults that cannot turn around and launch fighters into their own base. Why is that thing even designed to swivel at all, aside from maybe specifically when loading the fighters? Under what circumstances would you make that mechanically possible when designing a catapult?

    • guy says:

      Quite a few! If you’re in atmosphere, you might want to be able to orient it relative to the wind. In space, it would allow you to launch out of a hanger with multiple doors wherever it’s safest. Note that neither is the case here.

      • Ofermod says:

        Okay, true. I forgot to specify “in what circumstances where you have only one conceivable launch direction” would you want that to be mechanically possible.

        • Jingleman says:

          Maybe the thing swivels because the fighter needs to be pointed the other way below decks where it’s presumably stored. They should probably add a safety or something.

          • ehlijen says:

            I assumed it’s for when the fighters land again: They just lazily float in, land on the pad without needing to turn around first. In the opening cutscene to Master of Orion 2 you see a landing pad do exactly that.

            • Ofermod says:

              That’s a poor design for combat, though, having the launching/landing being the exact same catapult. Means that you can’t launch and receive damaged/out of fuel/ammo/whatnot at the same time.

              • ehlijen says:

                It works in a system where every fighter has his own launch pad (seemingly the case in that MoO2 intro).

                But why, when you have ME cores, do you need launch pads anyway? Lower your mass to mako weight, kick in the engines and zoom off!
                All you really need is a hole to fly out through.

                • Ofermod says:

                  This is a system where the launch pad is being used for multiple fighters in succession, though.

                  And that bit about ME cores is a good point. I keep forgetting that that kind of technology exists.

                  Probably says something that I keep forgetting that “Mass Effect” technology exists in the Mass Effect universe, huh…

    • Mike S. says:

      As observed above, “able (even likely) to turn around and shoot us in the face” appears to be a design criterion for anything produced by Cerberus.

      • Mintskittle says:

        So it’s not a flaw, it’s a feature? Sure, why not? Makes as much sense as anything else Cerberus does.

      • swenson says:

        A la the Shepard project in general.

        • Mike S. says:

          Shepard, and to a first approximation everything else Cerberus has ever worked on/with. Ever. Cerberus projects that can wind up shooting at Cerberus (or otherwise attacking it) include, but are probably not limited to:

          Rachni
          Thorian creepers
          Husks
          Shepard
          EDI
          Jack
          The Normandy SR-2
          (And to en extent the entire ME2 crew, especially Miranda and Jacob)
          The derelict Reaper researchers
          Hacked geth
          The EVA-bot
          Their own enhanced mooks (ME3 multiplayer, and the iOS game)
          The Illusive Man (if you guilt him into shooting himself)

          Kai Leng may well have the distinction of being the *only* Cerberus project that never fired a shot at Cerberus.

    • SleepingDragon says:

      To be fair this isn’t really dumber than a lot of real life design choices, we wouldn’t even notice this if we were still into the game. But Cerberus has become so much of an annoyance and a pile of stupidity over the second and third game we just look for anything that we can point at to further ridicule the organization.

  10. That last paragraph reminds me of Research and Developement from Paranoia.
    Ah, the memories…

  11. Phantom Hoover says:

    Chris’ comments on how much time the game takes are starting to wear thin. It’s an interesting point but bringing it up once an episode like this isn’t the way to introduce it, especially since the overall discussion is always about something else.

  12. Hoffenbach says:

    With that long list of things, I’m surprised they don’t have a Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot, too.

  13. I really hate attacking the Cerberus base here. Our fleet is engaging their fleet (seriously, wtf??), there’s not way they should have this fleet! Then EDI insists that she HAS to come with you, which is stupid because she doesn’t have to leave the ship in order to help you. There is literally nothing she does for you here she couldn’t have done remotely. Then Cerberus’s big trick is they’re going to vent the hanger, even though we have AIR-TIGHT space suits with BUILT-IN GRAVITY, so we shouldn’t even be able to be sucked outside. THIS is Cerberus’s big pull? And THIS is what EDI had to be here for? And then Shepard says, “Oh gosh EDI! Good thing we brought you along!” NO! NO, WE DIDN’T NEED YOU! And while we’re at it, what good reason is there for all those fighter controls being spread across three terminals other than pure gameplay terms?

    I didn’t even like Shepard questioning his death and revival. At this point, it’s like insult to injury. Yes, Shepard. You died. This was explained to you back at the beginning of ME2. WHAT? Maybe you’re just a “high-tech VI that THINKS it’s Shepard”?? A VI? Really? Even if we take this stupid second-guessing seriously, Cerberus built an AI! Why would you be a VI?

    And then there is Kai-Leng…

    Everything from here on out is just plain insulting. 100%.

    • Klay F. says:

      Oh God, at the point where Shepard was questioning his/her own existence, I felt like Bioware was (yet again) giving me a big middle finger.

      Really Shepard? We are at THE endgame, and you want to worry about this now? Couldn’t you have brought this up at any point in the previous game and have it be 100% more appropriate? What was the point of the second game again? Oh right, there was no point, it was (yet another) $60 middle finger from Bioware.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Yeah. That particular line of bullshit was WAY too little WAY too late. That should’ve been a whole side-plot in Mass Effect 2, not a throwaway scene in Mass Effect 3 at the very end of the game.

        • Mike S. says:

          One thing that sort of threw me off with that sequence is that as far as I was concerned it had. It took some thought to remember that that whole part of the ME2 character development– especially of my second Shepard, who’d been sent into a serious identity crisis by TIM’s changing her Colossus-lifting Adept biotics into some sort of charging commando thing– had taken place entirely in my head.

          (One reason that incarnation kicked Kaidan to the curb was that he was the only one, among all her old friends, who’d kicked her while she was down.)

        • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          On the one hand, I liked the confirmation that Cerberus was Puppy Kicking Incorporated, which had been my argument in the second game (TIM Lies, all the time -Kreia is more honest than TIM).

          On the other hand, I figured this out a game ago, and it was fairly obvious as recently as Mars.

      • Raygereio says:

        Oh God, at the point where Shepard was questioning his/her own existence, I felt like Bioware was (yet again) giving me a big middle finger.

        It really was a writer flipping us the bird. A common complaint about ME2 was how Shep’s death was handled. Specfically, it wasn’t handled at all. Her death and resurrection is completely ignored.
        And now in ME3 we get few token lines about it and the writers immediatly shut the potentially interesting theme down.

        It’s like the Extended Cut DLC and how the new ending triggered of you shooting the Star-Child hologram (something which a lot of people did out of frustration). It just comes across really petty and childish.

    • Lame Duck says:

      Not only does Cerberus have a fleet big enough to take on an Alliance fleet, but Shepard also mentions in the conversation with Joker that the Cerberus ships outclass the Alliance ones. Plus, Cerberus apparantly doesn’t even feel that this battle is significant enough to send out all of their fighters; that hangar is still full of ships.

    • Jingleman says:

      Well, to play devil’s advocate, we already know that Cerberus has access to shipyards; they built our ship, which is supposed to be the most advanced around, so maybe a fleet of lesser ships is plausible. Also, Shepard has already been sucked into space, armor and all, which is what killed her in ME2, so maybe it’s an effective strategy when she’s blowing up all of your dudes with no trouble. And if she was an AI, wouldn’t she be self aware enough to realize it? The lines are blurry in this universe about what counts as self-awareness and how smart VI’s can be (most of them act like Clippy from Microsoft Office), but maybe she’d have to be a VI to operate as we’ve seen her without realizing she’s artificial.

      I’m just saying, I think this part of the disastrous endgame is the least offensive, most fun part of the whole final act.

      • No. It’s total BS. Logistics! Where do they get ALL the shipyards necessary, GET all the money and resources they need to build shipyards and ships (SUPERIOR to the Alliance apparently, I might add–see Lame Duck above), get crew to man all the ships, train the all said crew, get supplies for all said crew, and move all this around while the Reapers are setting millions of things and people on FIRE, everywhere, every single day? And Cerberus did all this within a year? There’s no way ANY of this is possible.

        We’ve seen that combat suits can allow people to walk perfectly sideways up massive towers. Also, the only reason Shepard was blown into space in ME2 was because of an explosion, which could’ve easily been avoided if she just sat down in the escape pod as opposed to stepping back out.

        Besides, if getting sucked out really IS a problem, EDI can just remotely hack everything like she did back in ME2. There was no reason for her to physically BE there.

        And NO VI could be so sophisticated as to be and do what Shepard does. And there’s no reason an AI couldn’t be restricted in such a way as to not be aware it’s a machine, like a Replicant or something. I don’t feel like arguing this particular point, because it’s utterly stupid regardless and never should’ve been said.

        Sorry for revealing my mood. Everything to do with this is just so stupid.

        • Jingleman says:

          Well, there’s no indication that Cerberus started building its fleet or recruiting its crews in only the last year; they were building the Normandy more than three years previous to this, and we have no idea how long they’ve been shipbuilders (or buyers) before that.

          The fact is, we’ve never really gotten a good description of the scope of Cerberus’s resources, or of how pervasive their influence is in civilian human society, or how much positive publicity they got from Shepard’s role with them (which correlates to recruiting). The galaxy is huge. Humans are more populous than just the Alliance. I don’t see why the faction that Bioware tells us is big can’t be big (after they retconned it in ME2). There’s nothing in the rules of this universe that says that Cerberus couldn’t have done this. There’s never been anything that suggested that their resources are anything but unlimited. Besides, it’s not like they’re fighting ALL of the Alliance fleets, just a detachment of the Fifth Fleet, from a fortified position.

          On decompression: Shepard died because her armor was breached by debris while being thrown into space by a violent decompression caused by explosions in the Normandy. This airlock was filled with stuff that would have become debris, and we already know that the armor’s magnetism or mass effect fields or whatever can be overcome by explosive force, blowing them out into space. Even if they didn’t die from the debris, explosions, or crossfire, they would be removed from action. It’s a sound strategy of desperation, if they thought they could decompress the hanger explosively enough. I grant that they didn’t explain why EDI couldn’t remotely hack anymore.

          On AI: Replicants are from a different universe. We’ve not gotten enough to know whether AI’s can be thus limited in this universe. We do know that every AI we’ve ever seen knew what it was. We don’t know how sophisticated VI’s can get. All we know is that “self awareness” is the line that separates them, and that Shepard thought that “VI” was a possibility for her, and none of her companions thought that was stupid. That tells me that there are VI’s that can be programmed to believe they’re human and pass.

          The point is, none of these ideas are THAT stupid. Most of the logistics of this sequence are consistent with the established rules of the universe. Cerberus’s motivations are irrational and muddy, of course, but that’s an overarching thematic problem. And the Alliance’s reasons for attacking are thin. But this particular sequence makes a decent amount of sense, given everything else we know. No reason to start insulting people.

          • guy says:

            The logistics problem does remain an issue, though. In order to plausibly tangle with a detachment of Fifth Fleet, they need dreadnoughts. Even given that Mass Effect has seriously advanced fabrication technologies, those take a while and a lot of resources to build. And the only place really capable of building them would be Alliance military shipyards. Granted, those are probably run by defense contractors who might have supported Cerberus, but they couldn’t possibly have hidden a dreadnought under construction.

            • Jingleman says:

              Why are the Alliance shipyards the only place dreadnoughts can be built? Every navy we’ve ever heard of has dreadnoughts, and according to the codex, it’s Council regulations that limit the numbers each navy can have, not expense or technology. For all we know, they can be thrown together or purchased with relative ease for an organization like Cerberus. If Cerberus does have secret shipyards somewhere, which isn’t out of character for them, then why wouldn’t they be able to create dreadnought or two over the years? We still don’t know how long they’ve been building ships; nothing implies that the Normandy SR2 was their first attempt. The galaxy is enormous; it’s entirely plausible that an organization built around secrecy could hide a shipyard. Or why couldn’t they have bought and retrofitted some dreadnoughts? I’m just saying, all we’ve ever seen about Cerberus since ME2 has indicated that they have unlimited financial, scientific, and manufacturing resources, much of which is held outside Citadel/Alliance space. We can gripe all we want about how that’s a retcon and that it makes them a less-interesting antagonist, but I haven’t seen anything in-universe that places the kind of arbitrary limits you’re suggesting on Cerberus’ capabilities.

              Side note: from the scenes of battle we see here, I kind of get the feeling that the base itself is armed and fortified like a dreadnought or carrier would be, but that’s speculation.

              • Mike S. says:

                After Joker removes her blocks in ME2, EDI gives a rundown of Cerberus’s resources:

                “[A]pproximately 150 agents and operators organized into three cells.” (The number of cells has varied, but “never more than a dozen”.)

                “[No] solid data on material or fiscal resources. Spending trends indicate that Cerberus has a reliable income of several billion credits per year.” (Sourced from front corporations and “several wealthy contributors in the Alliance military-industrial complex.) That income estimate presumably takes into account the four billion over two years spent on the Lazarus Project to bring Shepard back.

                Cerberus has at least one shipyard, since it assembled the new Normandy at “a remote location in the Voyager cluster.” But that required secretly sourcing parts from thousands of suppliers over a period of years.

                (The original Normandy cost the Alliance as much as a light cruiser; the SR-2 presumably somewhat more than that, especially given the No Questions Asked markup on the parts and labor.)

                I probably like ME2 and ME3 more than just about anyone else here. But it’s still true that a fleet on the scale of the one we see in this sequence (plus all of the attacking forces on Sur’Kesh, several ME2 character sidequests, and the N7 missions), really requires EDI to have been lowballing Cerberus by at least a couple of orders of magnitude, on everything from finances to personnel to the Illusive Man’s willingness to delegate. A Cerberus with those sorts of resources isn’t a terrorist organization, it’s a rival government.

                • Jingleman says:

                  Yeah, I saw this. The only bits that could cut against Cerberus doing whatever they want is the dozen projects at once and the mere 150 agents. I think that the implication from the games and novels is that the “agents” in question here are Miranda/Shepard/Kai Leng level; if it counted mooks and other lower-level personnel, Shepard would have destroyed Cerberus by the end of Act 1. The mere dozen projects don’t preclude anything either, as they’re often rotating and we don’t know what, of what we’ve seen, counts as one project or merely a subdivision of one of the dozen.

                  I’m starting to sound like an apologist here, and I’m not one. I don’t like doing mental gymnastics to justify this stuff, and I generally stay away from it. I’m only playing devil’s advocate, trying to temper the rage a little bit when the writers more or less play by their own rules, as they have here. I do think that the Cerberus-as-government analogy is apt. They spend and produce like a small government, and their goals are decidedly political. I might even have liked a storyline in which TIM makes a play for real political power at some point.

              • Lame Duck says:

                Your argument seems to be that if we accept that Cerberus has infinite resources, it becomes completely plausible that they can field the kind of fleet necessary to fight the Alliance navy. You’re technically not wrong in that assertion, but I think most people’s objections with that would be in accepting the idea that Cerberus has infinite resources.

              • Cupcaeks says:

                “all we’ve ever seen about Cerberus since ME2 has indicated that they have unlimited financial, scientific, and manufacturing resources”

                I think that would be the crux of the problem there.

                And besides, if building ships was so easy, don’t you think the Alliance fleet would’ve been back to full strength by now? The war assets page specifically says they haven’t had enough time to rebuild, and it’s been, what, 3 years?

                I mean, sure, Cerberus having magical, super-fast ship building technology would make about as much sense as anything else we’ve seen from them, but that’s a little too much hand-waving for my taste..

                (Edit: Aggh, ninja’d. Curse you, Lame Duck! You win this round…)

                • Mike S. says:

                  I made a more detailed post that’s currently stuck in moderation. But the short version is that EDI gives us a rundown of Cerberus’s resources in ME2 after she’s unshackled, and while they’re large they’re a couple of orders of magnitude too small to justify a fleet like that.

                  • Yes. Thank you. That’s a big part of the problem. Cerberus is only suppose to be comprised of 150 operatives divided into three cells (military, medical, science) with only a dozen projects at most running at any given time, and an income of “several billion” credits. Considering the bases you attack back in ME1, and the commandos you kill, you have to figure the military branch was severally crippled at least. This doesn’t include every other project that’s ever blown up in Cerberus’ face. Again, logistics. There’s no real way Cerberus’ resources are sufficient to produce hundreds, thousands, of soldiers, ships, and crew–plus supply and maintenance. What ME3 shows us is nothing short of the friggin’ Galactic Empire.

                • Jingleman says:

                  Yeah, I’m not defending the stupidity of writing an organization like Cerberus with essentially unlimited resources. It was shocking in ME2, it was ridiculous in the novels, and it was just silly in ME3. I’m just saying that this particular sequence follows the admittedly stupid rules set up by the game, so I don’t think it makes sense to angrily nitpick the little things in this part of the endgame. This game has enough problems without that.

                  It’s a symptom of Shamus’s pet “trust in the storyteller” theory. Most of our trust, whether you call it that or immersion or suspension of disbelief, has been shattered by this point, so the temptation is to assume that every little thing they present us with is full-on contempt for the player. I’m just trying to bring us back down to earth a little bit here. Just because they screwed up royally with the overarching plot, motivations, and the like, it doesn’t mean that everything from here on violates the rules of the universe. This sequence was more or less coherent.

                  • Ofermod says:

                    Of course, if Cerberus does have near-infinite resources, and they wanted Shepard to succeed, it makes one wonder why Shepard didn’t just have unlimited resources/money/minerals/upgrades during ME2… “Oh, this mission is critical for the sake of Humanity… but we’re going to limit your budget to one one-hundredth of a percent of what we’re spending on a single ship.”

                    • Jingleman says:

                      One of the many stupid things Cerberus has done. ‘Course, Shepard did succeed, so maybe they’re actually pretty good at budgeting for commando suicide missions, after all.

                    • guy says:

                      Yeah, they clearly lacked the capacity to construct cruisers in ME2, or they’d just have blown up the collector warship.

                    • Jingleman says:

                      That doesn’t quite follow. Cerberus’s whole need for Shepard in ME2 was thin; I don’t think they ever gave a satisfactory explanation for why she’d be more effective than ships. It’s not that they couldn’t have built cruisers to fight the collectors, it’s that they were too incompetent to see that as an option. Pretty much every plan they have is stupid. That doesn’t imply that they lack capacity to succeed with a more reasonable strategy, only that they are too stupid ever to try one.

                    • Alexander The 1st says:

                      @guy:

                      Shepard states at the beginning of ME2:

                      “You could’ve trained an entire army for what you spent to bring me back.”

                      I’m assuming ships are included in said army.

    • MrGuy says:

      Actually, I think the Cerberus videos point more strongly to JOKER being an AI than Shepard being an AI.

      Think about it. In ME2, it’s not like it was obvious that Shepard got Joker to safety before the ship blew. It’s entirely plausible Joker died too (to the point where Shepard is surprised he’s alive). And no one would pay billions to bring a flesh-and-blood Joker back.

      TIM doesn’t ask for Joker – he asks for the file about Joker. He doesn’t talk about giving Shepard old crewmates – he talks about familiar FACES.

      And it actually explains some things. Joker’s strange EDI fixation is a LOT less creepy if he’s also an AI. Also fills in some (admittedly recent – can you CREATE a continuity issue with a retcon?) continuity holes – Joker claimed in ME2 to have been with Cerberus for 2 years (i.e. just after the Normandy exploded), but here we’re seeing TIM decide to recruit Joker shortly before Shepard wakes up. It would make no sense for Joker to lie about this, but if he’s an AI with implanted memories, it’s much more sensible.

      • Fleaman says:

        Or TIM is senile and tried to recruit Joker twice.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        I think specifically, he was with Cerberus the whole 2 years, but they only told him about the whole Collector mission the day before.

        In ME2, when he shows you the SR2, he says “They only told me about it yesterday.”, or something similar to that effect.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah,but edi remained on the ship,she wouldnt be able to push the buttons.Thats a crucial thing here,pushing all those flashy buttons.

      @MrGuy

      You are a genius!

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      I played an Engineer my first playthrough.

      So yeah, I found EDI’s insistence that she joins you kind of annoying.

      “Why can’t you just tell me what to do? I’ve worked a console before.”

  14. zob says:

    I feel old. The scene where Shepard grabs the kid and they burn together just reminds me of the dream sequences of Terminator 2. There it was kinda poignant, here it’s just meh.

  15. Deadpool says:

    Having a Dwarf have sex with Morrigan is the funniest part of Dragon Age…

  16. Lame Duck says:

    Holy crap, Josh’s joke that you’re assualting the Star Forge actually makes quite a lot of sense. It explains how Cerberus has infinite resources and given how cartoonishly evil they are, Cerberus could easily be a part of the Sith.

  17. guy says:

    I personally prefer fighting the Husk legions, and actually liked the shooty bits of the endgame. Maybe it was partly because my first playthrough was as a Vanguard, so the Cerberus forces were either Guardians or blurred together into things I charged, and I never knew the sword-wielding ladies had an instant kill attack because I meleed them to death before they could use it, or maybe it’s because I really hate Centurions because they can fill the entire screen with smoke.

    Also, seriously, what is with the fleet battle? How did Cerberus get a fleet that could match an Alliance fleet?

    • Jingleman says:

      I did like fighting the Cerberus guys, myself, more than I liked fighting the Reaver-husk-creature-things. I usually play snipers, though, so maybe that’s why.

      I agree with what Shamus said about Cerberus mainly being there so that we could fight “space marines.” I think it really does work best when fighting against humans or similar species, rather than the more feral enemy types. I always thought it was a little weird that the Locust in Gears of War weren’t smart enough to form complete sentences but fought with modern firearms and tactics.

      I’ve been trying to think of a way to have a space marine enemy in this game that would have felt reasonable and kept the Reapers front-and-center. Maybe mercenaries? Saren employed krogan. I don’t know. But, hey, if you ignore the silliness of Cerberus, I think fighting them is pretty fun.

      • Even says:

        Speaking of space marines, a WH40k crossover could only do the series good at this point. The Imperium of Man vs. the Reapers (being basically cyborg tyranids) would be about a bazillion times more entertaining and interesting conflict.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Simple, indoctrinated forces. Having a few mercenaries who were indoctrinated, but nameless and faceless, would’ve been enough.

        Since you don’t really need Cerberus for the plot. It would be fine.

        • Jingleman says:

          Yeah, I guess Indoctrinated forces would work. In fact, that’s basically what Cerberus ends up being. I always thought that indoctrination breeds incapability, but I guess there’s an argument to be made for a gradient scale from husk to TIM or Saren.

          It might have been cool if you had to worry about allied units becoming indoctrinated mid-battle, or if you could make a poor choice that resulted in a squad member turning on you.

          • Ofermod says:

            They really wasted Indoctrination. They had this whole setup that could allow you to fight any type of forces, to explain betrayal from anyone, even your closest allies… and what do they do with it?
            Cerberus.
            And possibly Udina, it’s not clear.

            A decent writer/designer could have done some very entertaining things, both in terms of plot and shooting setpieces.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              The codex says that the likelihood if Udina being indoctrinated is low.

            • Jingleman says:

              Agreed. The description of how the cycles play out and civilizations are exterminated includes some really interesting stuff about key betrayals leading to massive losses. Wouldn’t it have been cool if a disloyal companion in ME2 might survive and come back in ME3 as an indoctrinated antagonist? Or if Joker suddenly tried to crash the Normandy? Or if a Council member pulled a Saren after having disbelieved you in ME1? Just so much wasted potential.

              • anaphysik says:

                Hell, even just the paranoia of “are they or aren’t they indoctrinated?”

                • Jingleman says:

                  That’s a mechanic that might make a great survival-horror game: pick up allies along the way and maybe they become supernaturally treacherous, maybe they don’t. Anybody exposed to the bad guys becomes a potential ticking time bomb, but to accomplish their goals, players need allies, especially long-term allies. So, the game is about how long you’re willing to risk alliances with NPC’s, with longer time spent yielding greater rewards but promising more danger if things go badly. Just spit-ballin’. Heck, there might be one like that.

                  • Ofermod says:

                    That would also bring Paragon/Renegade into play rather well: Paragon is trusting your allies to resist indoctrination and attempt to keep as many alive as possible (despite the major risk involved), while Renegade involves you deciding that at some point, the danger outweighs the benefits. Idealism versus pragmatism indeed.

                    Maybe even make the timers slightly random or have otherwise hidden factors, so they can’t just consult a wiki that says “Okay, this person will betray me after exactly two more relay jumps” (although I’m generally opposed to having that element of chance that can mess up a game).

      • guy says:

        In addition to general indoctrinated guys, they could have just made fancier husks. Maybe variant marauders wielding different forms of weaponry or something.

        I think the big thing about the husks is that some of them are huge piles of hitpoints. That’s interesting to me as Vanguard, because it means that they don’t instantly die to charge+melee, but gets kind of annoying as a sniper because we expect most things to go down to a sniper rifle shot to the head. Also, I liked specifically seeking out and killing Marauders to keep them from enhancing their allies. Apparently Centurions have an enhancement aura that buffs nearby troops, but I never actually noticed that in gameplay. Plus, screw the smoke grenades. They’re just annoying.

  18. Lame Duck says:

    Shamus mentioned that Shepard is sleeping on top of the blankets at the beginning of the episode. This actually happens all of the time in video games; pretty much no developers have figured out how to have someone sleeping in a bed normally and not have it look like complete garbage, so the vast majority of game characters like to sleep outside the covers.

    • anaphysik says:

      Two Best Friends Play brought this to my attention in their Heavy Rain vid. CANNOT UNNOTICE.

      IIRC, though, they did mention that Deadly Premonition managed it.

    • Shamus says:

      As someone who has done cloth physics in the past, I will tell you the problem is MURDER. You can make it passable as curtains or flags, but if someone tasked me with the job of of making a blanket drape over a humanoid model and could be folded away when they woke up, I would try very, very hard to dissuade them.

      I wasn’t really suggesting that they should have you under the covers. I was just musing at a slightly silly image.

      • McNutcase says:

        As a point of interest, where would sails fall on this spectrum? They’re more constrained than flags or curtains, but I wouldn’t expect them to be as much of a nightmare as blankets.

        Although Shepard’s habits can be explained away as “controlled environment, no real need for blankets”, assuming she’s OK with airflow over her body as she tries to fall asleep.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          It all depends on how “general” the problem is that you’re trying to solve. Any time you can use a set of parametric animations instead of actual simulation, you’re going to be doing well. As long as they aren’t “luffing” too much, sails can be parametrically animated.

          But, if you had to do simulation… probably not a lot easier than clothing. For the fully taut static case it’s easy, and you don’t really have to simulate anything, but for the little ripples in the cloth, the billowing and turbulence, now you’re doing not only cloth simulation, but fluid vortex simulation and computational fluid dynamics. The number of calculations for that stuff is not a small number. It is a very large number.

          Back to the cloth simulation case, they could do “getting out of bed” motion capture on the cloth as well as the actor. If they are really going for cinematic realism this is a must, and much easier than trying to get convincing results through simulation. It would still look strange though, which is one more reason why game graphics should be stylized.
          http://blog.projectfledgeling.com/20120817/10/

      • Mike S. says:

        In one of the features relating to The Incredibles, someone (probably Brad Bird) was recounting how the animators were casually describing all the amazing things they could do easily with their shiny tools. And then they got to the point in the script where Mr. Incredible grabs his boss by his shirt front and more or less panicked. “He wants a shirt grab?!?!?

        They got it, but they’re Pixar, which means lots of resources, for something that doesn’t need to be rendered in real time, or be easily repeated.

        • Mintskittle says:

          In the commentary for The Incredibles, they also mention the part at Edna’s place where she runs her hand through the super-suit and out a tear in it was a nightmare to get right as well.

          • Fleaman says:

            I bet this was the whole reason for Edna’s character. At some point after the shirt-grab part, one of the animators just stuck her head into the writing staff room and said “Hey guys! I’ve got a plot point for you! FUCK CAPES.”

      • Lame Duck says:

        Someday someone is going to invent a method to convincingly simulate cloth physics and they’re going to make a game that’s built around getting in and out of beds just to show it off.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Couldn’t you fake it? Show the establishing shot with the covers in place, then go to close up, have Shepard rise and throw off the covers off screen and then we go to the wide shot again and the covers are off.

        No need to ever show the covers moving and flowing.

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          That’s true.

          If you’re going with cinematic camera control where the player can’t control it, you might as well use the cinematic trick of moving the camera so that it can’t see the robotic backside of the shark.

          Take one from Jaws, is what I’m getting at.

        • SleepingDragon says:

          I think this was mentioned on the show (in the Palaven moon episode? I’m too lazy to check) or in the comments but most handshakes are handled outside of the screen for this reason. Usually just below the bottom line so you can still see arms and forearms do the “handshaking” movement but so that you don’t see actual hands.

        • Hitchmeister says:

          The Sims 2 and 3 fake covers om the beds that Sims sleep under. It’s not terribly realistic looking, but passable and somewhat less jarring than sleeping on top of the blankets.

      • Piflik says:

        If someone really wanted a blanket animation from me, I’d make it bone based (probably with an animated normal map). It’s difficult, but doable. Trying to create a cloth simulation for a blanket is hard enough if you aren’t constrained by realtime requirements.

      • Amnestic says:

        I think they could have chosen lingerie+covers or clothes+no covers. Being fully clothed makes it look like Shepard just collapsed on the bed from exhaustion and passed out, while lingerie+covers gives us the impression she actually prepared for bed.

        Sleeping Dogs had your character pass out fully clothed and except for the facial accessories (sunglasses) hanging on, it was never a problem for me since in character it made sense that Wei Shen wouldn’t always take the time to disrobe before his head hit the pillow.

        I think that’s part of why the lingerie thing rubbed me the wrong way. That and it seemed to be done solely for sex appeal right after post-traumatic stress disorder dream. Like…seriously Bioware? Not the time!

      • Rasha says:

        What if it was some kind of space magic blanket that blinks out of existence when not in use? That way you could make a stable model.

  19. Klay F. says:

    On a related note: What happened to Rutskarn? Did you already say something and I just missed it? I am seriously going into withdrawal from lack of puns.

  20. McNutcase says:

    So nobody else got that you just pick up a rifle and follow the yellow line. You’ll know when the test starts.

    I am disappointed.

  21. burningdragoon says:

    Man, nothing like a super advanced AI inhabiting a physical body and using a physical(ish) keyboard to interface with a computer system.

    Also, it bugs me that you can hop in a completely unused Atlas mech, with a very clearly intact front shield and when you are inside it, it shows up broken.

    • Mike S. says:

      I think physical interfaces are a problem with the geth, but if I were EDI I wouldn’t plug directly into Cerberus’s systems for any money. (Yes, she’s the greatest cyberwarfare system in existence this side of the Reapers. And they’re the ones with all her documentation, and a couple of years to refine techniques.)

    • There have been cases where you want this.

      “With the world’s first electronic stock exchange, the NASDAQ terminal, traders could type in orders directly into a computer.

      [Trader Thomas] Peterffy didn’t want to type in the orders. He and his engineers hacked into the NASDAQ terminal and wired it up to their own computer, which traded automatically based on algorithms.

      A senior NASDAQ official saw Peterffy’s setup and said Peterffy was breaking the rules: All orders had to be entered through the keyboard. He gave Petterfy’s group one week to fix the problem.

      Peterffy and his engineers came up with a solution. They built a robot with rubber fingers that typed entries into the keyboard. It satisfied the NASDAQ rules. And on active trading days, the robot typed so fast it sounded like a machine gun.”

      Source – from the Planet Money podcast

  22. Deadpool says:

    Atlas are a LOT easier with Sentinels (I’m guessing the whole game is).

    Constant Biotic Explosions do MASSIVE damage to them and all the troops that tend to congregate around them…

  23. Deadpool says:

    Chris, can’t Engineers hack the Turrets? Or is that only Tali?

  24. JPH says:

    That insta-kill cutscene move reminds me of the Deus Ex HR boss fights.

    /shiver

    • Spammy says:

      What was it Barret always said when he grabbed you? “I’M GONNA BREAK YOU IN HALF!” ? And then he just throws you to the ground and slowly revs up his minigun so… er… I guess that makes him less competent than Cerberus here.

      I guess to be fair when you’re in a freaking Battlemech that compensates for being Cerberus.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        Unless your under 50 health. Then he just punches your head off. If your not, then he smacks you a bit and then stands there revving his minigun while you run to the nearest cover, and the all resumes as normal.

        But the Human Revolution boss fights are dumb and I try to block them from my memory whenever possible. Fortunately, there’s enough good game left over to make ends meet.

  25. Vipermagi says:

    Why is EDI walking around on the ship using the sexdoll? She’s the ship’s AI, she’s already god dang everywhere and has no need for a body. Why does Joker tell Shepard to talk to EDI, when EDI is omnipresent on the ship anyhow? Why is he panicking about EDI anyhow? If they’d be able to kill EDI off, it probably doesn’t matter much that there’s a sexdoll attached or not.

    The fact they even have an AI is rather strange considering the universe’s paranoia towards them, and now it’s controlling a sexdoll in places it doesn’t need to. God damnit. This game.

    • Klay F. says:

      Oh man, I hope Josh brings EDI to the endgame in London. The scene that results in her getting injured in the final charge is filled with enough stupid to make my head explode.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Remember that EDI is the result of one of Cerberus’s experiments. She is the combination of the rogue AI on the moon and (I think) Reaper code. When the new Normandy was made by Cerberus, she was installed as a cyber-warfare suite. So he being on the Normandy makes sense.

      But you’ve got me on the sexbot shit. I have no justification for that besides “We wanted you to take EDI with you on missions and needed to draft up an excuse.”

      • guy says:

        That leads to the question: Why did they want you to take EDI with you on missions? Couldn’t she just have been mission control?

        • SleepingDragon says:

          Because EDI was pretty popular in 2. A lot of people liked the lines she got, a lot of people liked her interactions with Shepard and Joker. So they tried to put more of her into the game.

          Also, a lot of people liked Joker, how can we “reward” Joker?
          Also, anthropocentrism, what would “reward” EDI? Well she could be a “real girl” now! (well “realish”)

          • Jingleman says:

            What’s wrong with a little anthropocentrism? It’s not like any turians are going to play this game…

            But I never liked EDI, anyway. AI’s are supposed to be really dangerous in this universe. It’s supposed to be a big deal, but everybody just gives her a pass, and she’s one of the guys. Plus, I’m not particularly a Tricia Helfer fan, and I think her casting drove EDI’s popularity more than anything.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              That’s the thing. We are repeatedly told that AIs are super dangerous, even in the end. However, every bit of evidence runs directly contrary to that assertion.
              The Geth: Isolationists.
              EDI: Cares for the crew and wants to sex up Joker.

              • anaphysik says:

                Well, there is the credit-stealing AI on the Citadel – who interestingly buys into the ‘AIs are dangerous’ rhetoric *more* than you/your squad.

                For those who didn’t play ME1 (you, being on PS3, I assume did not): http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Citadel:_Signal_Tracking

                Frankly, it’s quite interesting how similar that AI’s thoughts are to the ME3 ending nonsense. In ME1, that AI is portrayed as paranoid, vengeful, and irrational, by the way!

                ——

                Something that I think needs be kept in mind: ‘AIs are dangerous’ is not supposed to be the rule of the Mass Effect universe – it’s supposed to be the belief.

                Too bad Bioware forgot that.

                For reference, the codex entry on AI (copied sic):

                An artificial intelligence is a self-aware computing system capable of learning and independent decision making. Creation of a conscious AI requires adaptive code, a slow expensive education, and a specialized quantum computer called a “blue box.”

                An AI cannot be transmitted across a communication channel or computer network. Without its blue box, an Ai is no more than data files. Loading these files into a new blue box will create a new personality, as variations in the quantum hardware and runtime results create unpredictable variations.

                The geth serve as a cautionary tale against the dangers of rogue AI, and in Citadel Space they are technically illegal. Advocacy groups argue, however, that an AI is a living, conscious entity deserving the same rights as organics. They argue that continued use of the term “artificial” is institutionalized racism on the part of organic life; the term “synthetic” is considered the politically correct alternative.

                (The ME wiki does a poor job of identifying which parts of the codex come from which games; however, I distinctly remember reading this in ME1, so unless I’m crazy that’s where it’s from. (A note: that means this is something L’Etoile wrote. L’Etoile also wrote ME2 Legion.))

            • SleepingDragon says:

              I mean the Pinocchio Syndrome type of anthropocenthrism: the best thing that can happen to AI is to be put in a humanoid body mimicking as many human features as possible (EDI) and to drop the whole consensus thing and instead become a race of individuals in more or less humanoid platforms (geth).

              For the record I did not mind EDI as a team member, I liked a lot of her lines in ME2 and after some 15+ years of intense gaming I’m all but phasing out boobs.

          • Cupcaeks says:

            Of course, what you really mean is that they needed to find a way for you to sleep with her. Again, player choice.

            • Alexander The 1st says:

              Wait, can you go a full romance with EDI? I know the option *technically* exists at one point on the Citadel, but I’ve never seen it tried.

              • Cupcaeks says:

                I actually have no idea. I avoided the romances in these games because it just seemed so out of character for Shepard as a commanding officer, at least the way I was playing.

                Come to think of it, all conversations with her seem to indicate she’s only interested in Joker, so I’m not even sure if she’s even an option for the player at all.

                And for the record, sans the whole sexbot thing, I really like EDI as a character, and totally agree that she was one of the better written parts of the game. Her arc is one of the last vestiges of actual science fiction in the series at this point. I’m just loathing how Bioware seems to think having a ‘mature’ game means making it M-Rated rather than having mature storytelling. Dragon Age 2 was, by far, the worst offender in that regard (LOL, sex and gore, AWESOME look at how dark we are!!), and ME3 looks tame by comparison. I just can’t help but think that the only reason EDI got turned into a sexbot was to pander to the audience, although maybe I’m just being close-minded and the sexbot actually does serve some higher narrative purpose. I wouldn’t know though, too busy staring at that shiny robot ass.

                (Edit: Was thinking on it some more, and maybe the sexbot serves to emphasize how much more human she’s become? That actually seems admirable, though I still could’ve done without the gratuitous ass-cam.)

              • anaphysik says:

                No, it’s a Joker-EDI official Bioware fanfic thing.

                Although you can hit on Joker…

    • anaphysik says:

      “Why is he panicking about EDI anyhow?”

      Because in ME3, Joker doesn’t care about EDI. He cares about her boobotic ‘improvements.’

    • guy says:

      That’s one of the things that kind of bugged me about EDI in this game. I kind of rolled my eyes at the whole sexbot thing, but I wish there was an option to just keep addressing EDI by talking to the air wherever.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      They skipped over it in the playthrough, but I think EDI was actually one of the better written parts of the game. She’s Mass Effect’s Pinochio -the AI who wants to be a real woman. As such, she’s a great foil to the Reapers.

      At the same time, on multiple playthroughs, she’s also a serious argument that the reapers are right: no matter what you say to EDI, she always ends up in the same place. So maybe the universe is preordained after all.

      • Klay F. says:

        There is a conversation you can have with her right after Horizon, where she talks about Reaper concentration camps and regarding how the people behaved when put in such a position, and her confusion when faced with it.

        IMO that singular conversation is the only part of ME3 that was good without qualification.

        • ThomasWa says:

          Wait, so the game itself outright likens the Reapers to Nazis and the ending got written how?
          This is unbelievable.

          And probably the strongest indicator that game plots need to be written in the manner of e.g. a novel, in that one person with a clear vision keeps the parts straight. The Bioware school of “have two dozen people write whatever in their designated chunk of the story and hope it forms a coherent whole in the end” really, really doesn’t work.

          • Klay F. says:

            I liked the conversation not for what it revealed about the reapers, but for the resolution EDI finally gets to her major arc. She went from believing in ME2 that the propose of life was survival and procreation. Even early in ME3 she is confused by irrational acts like self-sacrifice. Her conversation after Horizon is dealing with her finally understanding innately that life is about more than just survival and procreation, and she modifies her core programming to reflect that understanding. This makes no difference in gameplay terms, of course, but I was just so happy to have some dialog that wasn’t insultingly stupid, that I didn’t care.

            This was a conversation that belonged in a parallel universe Mass Effect sequel that DIDN’T totally abandon its space opera roots.

  26. Arvind says:

    I miss “stop shooting me” too, Shamus. :(

  27. Jokerman says:

    Morrigan in normal gameplay

    http://www.leetgamesblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/morrigan-dragon-age.jpg

    Morrigan having sex

    http://www.toomuchzerging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/but-i-dont-wanna.png

    So she sneaks out and puts on a bra to have sex with you….after you start kissing….yea.

  28. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Once again,we see how much of an improvement it was to take the deadly mechs,remove their vi,put a chair in them,and protect it with thin glass sheet.More deadly then ever!Especially when it gets hijacked.

    EDIT:Actually,it kind of makes sense from a gameplay perspective.Why should only 2 classes be able to hijack them?Lets make it so that everyone can hijack them!Though if you can still hack them the regular way,this would be even more hilarious.Can you?

    • Luhrsen says:

      Since you have to remove all the armor to hack something and they don’t have a hitpoint bar, no sadly.

      • anaphysik says:

        Nonsense. (And extra nonsense because *nothing* with armour in this game has a health bar, yet you can definitely use Sabotage on pyros and primes.)

        http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Sabotage
        http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Atlas

        The Atlas can be successfully attacked with Sabotage and turned against other nearby enemies. Ironically, the power only works if the shields of the Atlas are up; once depleted, Sabotage is no longer effective.

        Although actually hijacking them is quite hard. Most of the time you’re likely to kill the damn thing before you’ve reached the hijacking conditions. (Basically you need to equip a powerful sniper rifle and headshot the pilot, while making sure your squadmates don’t attack it or use good powers against it. Anyone playing ‘normally’ is SOL.)

  29. LunaticFringe says:

    Since we’re winding down to the end now but the true ‘ending’ is nowhere in sight, just wanted to bring this up: remember when Mass Effect had an amazing theme with some subtle philosophical commentary written in (I can’t be the only one who noticed the ‘Sovereign/the geth are a Hobbesian utopia’ concept)? The first game is all about exploration, about humanity (personalized as Shepherd) discovering the stars and the dark force behind it all. Then the second game comes out and, well…there’s really nothing interesting. There’s some great concepts, with Shepherd’s transhumanism, the Geth civil conflict, highlighting the krogan problem, etc. but nothing is ever done with them. Instead we get a dumb action plot, while the game’s companions and their loyalty missions are what introduce these. I think Mass Effect 2 was meant more to be about the characters then the actual plot, and I think that’s why I’m a bit more…kind to it then most here. Still, as a result they completely wasted any chance of broader, more compelling themes.

    Then Mass Effect 3 comes along, already in trouble by the damage that 2’s plot did. The problem is that this time they had no larger character sections to balance their weak plot, and my god does it show. Mass Effect 3’s theme seems to be ‘horrible emotional melodrama spiked with long bouts of shooting things’. Ok, so there is concepts like the cycles and the synthetic/organic divide introduced at the very end of the game, but nothing broader appears throughout the rest of the game. Bear in mind, I’m not sure the game’s (largely) hack writers could write something as well or as interesting as Mass Effect, but I do think there’s also another factor in here: Hepler Mode.

    By sectioning off gameplay and dialogue while trying to connect the two, Bioware’s basically making a game that makes the worst calls on both sides: gameplay that has little story relevance, designed so that ‘Story Mode’ players can rip through it easily, resulting in sloppy movement mechanics and generally boring waves of units to mow down. For story, this allows the writers to treat it as more ‘cinematic’, which basically just means that the author begins to reduce your agency with his ‘Failed in Cutscene’ powers. Kai Leng, all of TIM’s dumb conversations, the child, and the bloody ending come from this division of gameplay and story. I guess my general thesis is that sectioning off gameplay and story this way incentivizes both sides to get lazy. I recalled Shamus’ article on ‘Hepler Mode’ and just thought this is an interesting side effect.

    • Mike S. says:

      Can you give an example of something from the first game that couldn’t have happened, or would have had to play out differently, if ME1 had had a Story Mode?

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Wrex’s Family Armor?

        The Nassana Dantius pirate quest?

        Virmire? I mean, if you could just plow through the enemies, why would you use the alarms? Or the whole fights to help allieveiate the problems with the other teams?

        Eden Prime’s bomb defusal section?

        Feros’ Zhu’s Hope charge?

        Noveria’s neutron charge?

        The Conduit rush? I mean, you can’t let those Story Mode players die on that last part if the idea is that they have to run to it and not take out the enemy Geth. So clearly those are earlier on beforehand, and that whole scene would be cutscened like the Suicide Mission leaving in ME2.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          Beat me to it, but throw in Kashley’s death in there too. Because ‘story mode’ would have likely resulted in the writers developing a series of binary dialogue choices for each companion and making the player choose once (and only once) via cutscene which you save, which then shows it, surprise, via cutscene. Then Saren would’ve shown up and used a ton of cutscene powers while showing no real competence in actual gameplay sections.

          • anaphysik says:

            What is this I don’t even. (Excluding the last part, but any time difficulty-slider-esque mechanics come into play either that’s going to happen for some people, as can the corresponding ‘got killed by a small cat on Mega-Hard.’)

            Kashley is resolved by a binary choice… in a cutscene… which is resolved via cutscene…

            Also, Saren does use cutscene-powers.

            Is your point that what already happens would happen, or that there would be *more* of what there already is?

        • Mike S. says:

          I’m not sure I understand. As implemented, ME3’s Story Mode is just super-easy combat– first level Shepard can stand out in the open, shields barely go down, and enemies die trivially. So you kill the mooks guarding Wrex’s family armor, including the leader, and then you open the locker.

          (If it had happened in ME3, actually opening the locker might have happened in a cutscene. But that might actually be better in some ways. The first time I played through, I either missed the locker or failed to open it, and so had to do some fancy footwork to keep Wrex alive, even though I’d actually done the quest.)

          A story mode version of the bomb defusing would basically be the equivalent of “skip for 100 omnigel”– which wasn’t permitted for Eden Prime but was allowed for later incidents like the Towers of Hanoi on Noveria.

          Even if they implemented the actual “skip combat” button suggested in passing in Hepler’s interview, you’d presumably just have all the enemies fall over dead, or skip to the point at which you’ve won the fight or some action other than shooting bad guys is called for.

          So you click it when you enter the cookie-cutter mercenary base, and Tonn Actus is dead and you’re in front of the armor locker. (After which Wrex comments on what a piece of junk it is.) Or “We have to disarm those bombs!” [press] “You disarmed those bombs just in time, commander!” Or “Activate the neutron purge!” [skip] “Wow! How many rachni *was* that?”

          You’d use the alarms on Virmire, or not, because that was the Shepard whose story you (or rather, the Story Mode player) wanted to see played out.

  30. Desgardes says:

    I wish Ruts was here, so when they were talking about Cerberus not knowing they were here someone would start singing “With Catlike Tread”

  31. Off-topic, but a question that I’ve been wondering about: Has this site been really slow-loading for anyone else the past few weeks? It takes a good minute or more to load the main page most days (I’m on Time Warner cable). The videos load as fast as they’ve always done, but the actual site seems to crawl.

    • StashAugustine says:

      Yeah, it’s not that bad, but it’s pretty slow for me.

    • Shamus says:

      YES. It’s horrible. It’s been this way since the hurricane. (I don’t know if the hurricane actually had anything to do with it.)

      This is unacceptably slow, and I’m getting reports of it from just about everywhere, so my webhost can’t seriously claim the problem is on my end.

      I should probably email my host and find out what’s up. On the other hand, I’d like to think if this is something they could fix, it would have been fixed by now. Hmmmmm.

  32. “They ignore you when you blast your way through the Cerberus break room because 1) You’re not on the schedule of stuff to fight and 2) they’re on break.”

    That made me laugh Shamus. Maybe you could turn this into a story. Some poor smuck with the bad luck of having the same name as a notorious galactic hero that gets drawn into a galactic plot, while all he (or she?) really wants is to keep their cozy job at “Kerberus” dealing with the daily crisis ad shooting the breeze with the other guards during lunch, discussing who saw the most scientists get ripped apart by the latest experiments. I’d love to read that…

  33. Dork Angel says:

    I’m surprised you skipped over Jack’s death so quickly. I think her story was the most tragic. I mean she was tormented and tortured by Cerberus all through childhood to somewhere in her teens. Finally escapes for a few years where she helps save the galaxy and finds some peace teaching the students only to be captured by them again and more or less tortured to death along with the students she came to love. The game doesn’t even give her an on screen death scene like Tali got. Mind you, I am biased as Jack was my love interest…

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

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="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

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