Mass Effect Retrospective 28: Actually, Go Ahead and Fear the Reaper

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 22, 2015

Filed under: Mass Effect 227 comments

Shepard has the Normandy sidle up to the “disabled” Collector vessel and his team takes the shuttle over. They’re here for “intel” on the “Omega 4 Relay”, but it’s kind of vague because that’s a really broad topic and we don’t know what they’re looking for specifically. We don’t know what part of the ship they’re in, or heading for. We don’t know how far we have to go, and it’s not even made clear why we need to board their vessel in the first place, since EDI seems to read their databanks from the Normandy. I guess the Collectors have a really shitty Wi-fi password? The author doesn’t seem interested in explaining how that works or what the limitations are, or what.

That’s usually fine in a drama-based story, although this is kind of muddled because the team seems to forget why they’re here. It would be nice if there was just one or two lines of dialog that framed their goals for this scene and explained how they planned to achieve themLike: We need to take this wireless adapter to the Collector router on deck 2.. Shepard and friends just walk down a single linear corridor and act like tourists in a Collector-based theme park.

It’s actually important to keep the audience focused in a situation like this. We want the player to have some kind of perceptible goal. Since this is supposed to be an ambush, we want them to be thinking about the thing they’re supposedly about to get. Otherwise they go into passive mode and simply wait for the other shoe to drop.

And then we come across a weapon on the ground and we get a popup asking what weapon class we want to permanently unlock for Shepard. Just.. what? Here? In the middle of a mission? Shepard suddenly unlocks a new weapon? Shouldn’t this happen on one of the many upgrade menus in the Normandy? Why is this choice here?

It’s like the writer forgot they were supposed to be building tension for the upcoming ambush and so they left out some exposition and instead gave us some immersion-breaking decisions to make about our character build.

None of this is horrible (yet) but it does feel distracted and desultory.

The Collector Ship

EDI: Shepard, I've scanned the Collector databanks. It contains over a hundred exabytes of bullshit, nonsense, blatherskite, and plot holes.
EDI: Shepard, I've scanned the Collector databanks. It contains over a hundred exabytes of bullshit, nonsense, blatherskite, and plot holes.

EDI scans the Collector databanks and steals all their exposition. She reveals that the Collectors have a “quad strand genetic structure” identical to a structure “found in ancient ruins”, and that only the Protheans had this feature.

A writer who had even the most rudimentary grasp of story structure would have tucked that “quad strand genetic structure” idea into the story much sooner. Preferably at some point long before this reveal, so that this would be a payoff instead of an ass-pull. But this is the first we’ve heard of it. Instead of being an “ah-ha!” moment of revelation, it’s an immersion-breaking moment where we stop and question the storyteller. Really? The ONLY SPECIES in the ENTIRE GALACTIC HISTORY to have quad-strand DNA? That sounds so unlikely and amazing that it ought to be a topic of constant curiosity whenever they come up.

This revelation that the Collectors are the Protheans would feel a lot more satisfying if the writer had made some kind of effort to connect the two. In Mass Effect 1, the Protheans were lanky Slenderman-looking guys with tentacle beards. Now they’re dudes with insect heads. It just feels like a lame twist for the sake of a twist, not a satisfying development of an idea that was properly established.

Then we reach the main chamber and we see the millions of pods on the wall. One of your companions says something like, “They couldn’t fill these pods, even if they hit every colony in the Terminus Systems. They’re going after Earth!”

Now, you could assume that this one squad member is just jumping to wild conclusions. Maybe the Collectors don’t plan to fill all the pods, or maybe the other pods will be filled with members of other races, or maybe the millions of pods are already full of stuff they’ve been collecting for centuries, or maybe the extra pods are for the collectors themselves to sleep in, or this is how they care for their dead, and so on. There are a lot of conclusions we could jump to that are more plausible than “The Collectors are planning to attack Earth directly.”

I don't know if the pods mean they will attack Earth, but I'm willing to bet these chest-high walls mean we're about to be ambushed.
I don't know if the pods mean they will attack Earth, but I'm willing to bet these chest-high walls mean we're about to be ambushed.

But you get this conversation no matter who you bring with you, and I find it more plausible that the writer once again has simply given the characters a copy of the script. The writer is trying to build tension by suggesting that Earth is in danger. Once again, this the problem of assumed empathy. These lines are intended to be exposition.

Which means the Collector’s plan was doomed from the start. The Normandy can give the Collector ship a pretty good thrashing at the end of the game, which means the Collectors wouldn’t stand a chance against the Alliance fleets, which it would certainly have to face if they went anywhere near Sol.

EDI has already revealed at this point that this particular Collector ship is the same one that destroyed the original Normandy, and it’s also the one that attacked Horizon. And at the end of the game, we only face one vessel. Which means that – based on everything the game shows us – they only have one ship. The Collectors aren’t a threat to Earth. They’re losers. If we blew this thing up right now we would win the entire game without needing to go on a suicide mission through the Omega-4 relay.

I’m not saying the game should end here. I’m saying the writer should be able to put themselves into the shoes of the various participants and see the world from their point of view. The Collectors have a plan that is doomed to fail. Everyone knows they come out of the Omega-4 relay, so the Alliance could stop them by having a handful of ships camp the relay. Shepard’s ship is revealed to be strong enough to cripple the Collectors at the end, so he could do the same thing. These possibilities need to be dealt with in dialog to avoid the feeling that this is a galaxy inhabited entirely by morons.

The Collectors spring the trap and kidnap Shepard by flying away!

Quick Joker! Create tension by stupidly flying close to their easily-avoided death beam!
Quick Joker! Create tension by stupidly flying close to their easily-avoided death beam!

Just kidding. They just funnel him into a room with chest-high walls and then send waves and waves of mooks at him. Shepard fights his way back to the Normandy and flies away. There are actually some tough encounters along the way, but when the tiny Normandy ditches the massive Collector vessel, I can’t help but marvel at how every single mission in this game seems to diminish our antagonists. The story ought to be building them up for the big finale, but instead it’s eroding them. Their trap was dumb, and the only reason we walked into it was because TIM can’t remember which side he’s on. Their forces are ineffectual. Even with the home field advantage and the element of surprise, they couldn’t stop three people from leaving. Their scheme to assault Earth is a pipe dream.

The only reason they’re a threat so far is because they’ve been kidnapping isolated unarmed civilians that nobody cares about.


You're railroaded into objecting to the plan, and then you're railroaded into accepting TIM's explanation. Is the writer familiar with the CONCEPT of roleplaying?
You're railroaded into objecting to the plan, and then you're railroaded into accepting TIM's explanation. Is the writer familiar with the CONCEPT of roleplaying?

In the post-mission briefing, Shepard comes off as kind of dim-witted. I mean, aside from the initial stupidity of working for Cerberus in the first place, his dialog after the mission is a mess. When Shepard discovers that TIM “lied to him” (by not telling him about the ambush) he gets upset that he wasn’t told all the details. As former Alliance military he ought to be able to wrap his head around the idea that superiors don’t always share all the intelligence with you. The problem with TIM’s plan isn’t the lie of omission, it’s that it’s stupid and creates needless risk of irreplaceable mission resources. If he had a smart plan that required withholding information from Shepard, that would be fine. But Shepard and company aren’t just disposable mook scientists like Cerberus is used to throwing away, and putting all of them at additional risk for no articulated benefit is… so very Cerberus.

Shepard is mad about the wrong things and expresses his anger childishly instead of pragmatically. Again, instead of making TIM smart the writer made Shepard dumb. That’s nice in that it prevents the player from asking questions that would unmask the plot as a gigantic waste of time, but it does so by launching them out of the story through dialog-wheel shenanigans.

You can see what the writer is trying to do: They want Shepard to board the Collector ship and get the next batch of exposition, and they’re trying to build some sort of conflict between Shepard and TIM. But this exchange shows they have no head for proper character-driven motivation. All three parties have to behave irrationally to make this particular mission work.

The Dead Reaper

It's been here a long time. There are over 74 million parking tickets stuck to the windshield.
It's been here a long time. There are over 74 million parking tickets stuck to the windshield.

We’re nearing the end of the game at this point. So far the character-based missions (recruitment and loyalty missions) have ranged from serviceable to fantastic, while the story missions have ranged from dull to abysmal. But here we have an interesting situation where a story mission is also a recruitment mission.

TIM sends us to investigate a mostly-dead Reaper, which is smashed and orbiting a brown dwarf. Apparently it was felled by some long-dead civilization, and the carcass has been drifting there for 37 million years. There’s some technical talk explaining how this thing was found and a discussion on what the conditions are like around a brown dwarf. The dialog establishes that if the local mass effect field fails, the Reaper will fall into the brown dwarf and be destroyed. The thing has a strong “sleeping Cthulhu” vibe, with the last batch of visitors (Cerberus scientists) having gone insane. Even in death, the body of this Reaper is still dangerous to the minds of mortals.

Suddenly Reapers are spooky again. Suddenly science is a fun source of plot elements again. Suddenly the game remembers that Cerberus is stupid. Suddenly it feels like I’m playing a sequel to Mass Effect 1.

If this mission had been written in the same style as the rest of Mass Effect 2, then the writer would’ve had the Reaper orbiting a supernova, because a supernova sounds “cooler” and more people have heard of it. The idea of “Cut power, Destroy Reaper” would have been introduced as it happened as a last-minute ass-pull, instead of being properly telegraphed at the start for a later payoff. The people inside would have been killed by something that can hide behind chest-high walls instead of going insane.

Okay, I realize it’s completely unfair to condemn Mass Effect 2 for mistakes it didn’t make. But I’m just trying to illustrate how I see this shift in tone and focus. This mission feels different from the rest of the story missions. It feels like some of the recruitment missions, or perhaps a bit like Mass Effect 1.

Q: Why didn't Cerberus tow this sucker away and study it away from the ship-obliterating brown dwarf? A: Because how else could they pointlessly waste the lives of their inexplicably loyal followers?
Q: Why didn't Cerberus tow this sucker away and study it away from the ship-obliterating brown dwarf? A: Because how else could they pointlessly waste the lives of their inexplicably loyal followers?

I’m not suggesting this mission is perfect or anything. The description for how the Reaper was found is pretty iffy. As INH5 pointed out in the last entry:

I don't have any justifications for the dead Reaper. There's really no reason for it to exist, especially given that the stated method of finding it (tracing the path from a crater that an enormous mass driver left on a planet) wouldn't work because planets move and rotate. As do stars. To do that, you would have to figure out the time of impact to the second, then figure out how the galaxy's stars were arranged 37 million years ago. I'm pretty sure that both of impossible no matter what kind of advanced computers you have.

On top of this: Going by the “Reapers kill the galaxy every 50,000 years” number, 37 million years means that 740 different societies have come and gone since this Reaper was killed. 740 different species rose to galactic power, explored the stars, built governments that lasted thousands of years, waged wars, conquered their adversaries, colonized far-flung worlds, and were then wiped out by the Reapers. And yet none of those 740 masters of the galaxy ever found this Reaper?

It’s true that the science behind this isn’t very science-y. But Mass Effect 1 also had little compromises like this. It’s not ideal, but I find these sorts of missteps are far less irritating and immersion-breaking than the broken characters, nonsense dialog, lack of reasonable dialog options, tonal failures, and massive contrivances we see in the rest of the story. I know I’ve been pretty heartless to poor Mass Effect 2 in this series, but I’m not doing this because I enjoy complaining about thingsI only enjoy complaining about things that REALLY BUG ME.. I really am willing to let little things slide when the author has the basic elements of storytelling working properly.

This mission is yet another case of a failed Cerberus experiment, and I don’t know if that’s a point in its favor or not. On one hand, this feels consistent with what we knew about both the Reapers and Cerberus in ME1. On the other hand, the main story missions probably shouldn’t be selling the idea that the main story is a dumb idea.

Cerberus found this dead Reaper and dropped off a bunch of scientists, who all went insane. Either Cerberus never bothered to check up on their people, or this whole thing was a deliberate test to see how long it would take them to lose their minds. It’s stupid and evil either way, but the first one is more stupid and the latter is more evil. (And wasteful either way. I have to assume there’s a finite supply of human scientists who are desperate enough to work for Cerberus. And leaving them all to die together isn’t a very good way to run an experiment. Did Cerberus even have means to gather the data? Did they even come back for the results?)

Earlier in the series I said that Mass Effect 2 feels like it was written by someone who hated Mass Effect 1. This mission feels like it was written by someone who maybe wasn’t totally on board with the overall direction of Mass Effect 2.


The meeting with Legion is understatedBy the standards of squad-mate introductions. and mysterious. He has just a few lines of dialog to stimulate our curiosity and a single moment where he snipes a husk to demonstrate he’s not your foe, but the game doesn’t say anything further. He doesn’t quip, he doesn’t get a big moment of cutscene badassery, and he doesn’t invite himself onto the team. In fact, he gets the opposite of this. After intriguing us, Legion has a moment of cutscene failure where he’s swarmed by husks. The writer here understands that the best way to get the player to do something isn’t “DO IT BECAUSE I SAY SO!” The best way is to simply leave a breadcrumb trail of questions and then allow them to predictably follow it to the answer.

My only complaint here is that this entire mission is basically fetching a key to open a door. We get the IFF so we can go through the Omega-4 relay. That’s actually not the best use of a dead Reaper, story-wise. Really, an encounter like this is significant enough that it could have been the climax of the game. Obviously the mission we have is too short and simple for that, and wouldn’t work with the rest of Mass Effect 2, but in a thematic sense this would have been a good way to wrap up the middle chapter. If this was longer and isolated Shepard from the Normandy then we could have trapped the player in here. You could mess with the companion dialog and make them worry that they might be crazy. Having the player crawl around in this Reaper and uncover more secrets would have been a good way to follow up on the Sovereign conversation in the first game. It certainly would have been better than playing Whack-A-Reaper with Harbinger when he assumes Mook Form.

But instead the whole thing is relegated to a door-opening quest. And despite my griping, I think it’s still pretty solid. This does a good job of re-establishing the Reapers are a space-terror after the previous missions worked so hard to completely ruin that.

We’re getting close to the end of Mass Effect 2 here. We’ll wrap this up in two more entries.

After that? Guess.



[1] Like: We need to take this wireless adapter to the Collector router on deck 2.

[2] I only enjoy complaining about things that REALLY BUG ME.

[3] By the standards of squad-mate introductions.

From The Archives:

227 thoughts on “Mass Effect Retrospective 28: Actually, Go Ahead and Fear the Reaper

  1. somebodys_kid says:

    Were you planning on mentioning the story DLC in this series?

    1. Andrew says:

      I remember Shamus saying he didn’t play the DLC for ME2. Might be wrong about that tho.

    2. Taellosse says:

      He is not – he said as much at the beginning. Shamus is playing on PC, and finds the nonsense of having to buy fake currency to acquire the DLCs (at full price, too) to be too much irritation and trouble to bother. Nor does it help that it is actually not possible to buy the correct amounts of “Bioware points” directly from their site so you don’t end up with leftovers (and thus overpaying) at the end.

      You CAN buy just the right amounts through Amazon, add the points to your Bioware account, and then buy the DLCs, but that is, admittedly, kind of ridiculously convoluted.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        It’s better streamlined in Origin (kind-of…), but that would probably require buying the game again.

        Also Origin.

        And by streamlined I mean “You can buy and spend the points directly in the Origin store”, not “We got rid of the stupid system along with it’s point mis-matches and ridiculous prices”.

        1. Mike S. says:

          You don’t actually have to buy the game again in Origin. You can enter the CD Key from Steam (or from your CD if you have that) and the game will be added to your Origin library.

          (I only discovered this by accident a month or two ago.)

          1. RansomTime says:

            Oh wow, thanks for this. I totally didn’t think that would work but it did. It picked up that I owned Shadow Broker and Arrival too.

            So someone’s probably spent a non-zero amount of time linking the old Bioware DLC system with origin, and more time implementing the Bioware points system on Origin, and no-one thought “you know what, this’d be a good time to just scrap that system and use real money”.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I understand why Shamuse stays away from it but I always regretted they didn’t do Arrival in the SW season and I wish it was covered in this series. On the one hand it desperately tries to be story relevant, on the other it’s just such a magnificent clusterbus of a mess on every level. The story, the framing, the gameplay and the writing is just crowning on the rotten cake.

      2. Raygereio says:

        Nor does it help that it is actually not possible to buy the correct amounts of “Bioware points” directly from their site so you don't end up with leftovers (and thus overpaying) at the end.

        That’s only a problem if you want to buy the weapon & outfit packs. And honestly: If you want to pay money for one extra gun in the game, then you deserve to ripped off.
        For the DLC with actual content you can buy the correct amount of point.

        You do basically have to go through two stores in a row (one to buy the points and one to spend those point) which is exceedingly silly. But the biggest problem is those stores are located on Bioware’s defunct forums. Bioware never bothered to move all that stuff to their new forums.
        So if you want to still have the DLC for Bioware’s non-Origin games, then you’d best grab it now and keep a backup. Because at any point Bioware can decide to just delete their old forums without warning (much like they did with their first forums which contained the ME1 DLC).

        1. Mike S. says:

          I wound up spending money to buy the (comparatively) non-embarrassing outfits for the companions, like intact armor for Garrus, a less exhibitionist leather outfit for Miranda, and an actual top for Jack. I won’t defend paying actual money for paper doll clothes, but I did prefer the result.

        2. Loonyyy says:

          If you’re being ripped off, by definition you don’t deserve it. Someone has cheated you.

          That’s a very unhealthy attitude towards this sort of lazy cash grab.

      3. Couscous says:

        But Bioware points are on sale for 33 percent off at Gamestop!

        Dear lord, I am thankful Bioware points won’t appear in any future games.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    EDI: Shepard, I`ve scanned the Collector databanks. It contains over a hundred exabytes of bullshit, nonsense, blatherskite, and plot holes.’ title=’EDI: Shepard, I`ve scanned the Collector databanks. It contains over a hundred exabytes of bullshit, nonsense, blatherskite, and plot holes.

    Shepard: Damn!I was hoping we would find at least some balderdash and drivel.Oh well,maybe on the next collector death trap.

    1. Chris says:

      Shamus may have put 10,000 words into this series, but blatherskite stands above all the rest.

      1. Richard H. says:

        Blatherskite sounds to me like a material that shaky edifices might get made out of. For an example, “I built this wall out of Blatherskite, but my customers keep accidentally knocking holes in it.”

    2. MichaelGC says:

      Aye – although possibly they were saving up the poppycock, hogwash and gobbledygook for ME3.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Look,shepard!A lens flare!That means khan is about to teleport behind us from earth!

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Was there ever any reasonable explanation given as to why the collectors only have one ship?I mean even the sovereign,who was able to plow through an entire fleet,who took prolonged pounding from numerous dreadnoughts before finally succumbing to damage,didnt attack on its own.It brought a whole fleet of geth with it.So why does the sequel,one that is supposed to be increasing the stakes,have not only an antagonist of lower tech level,but one that is numerically inferior as well*?

    *Not to mention severely mentally deficient on top of it all.

    1. Taellosse says:

      There is not. The Collectors are described as enslaved holdovers from the last cycle, servants of the Reapers who exist for unspecified reasons (intel on the developing species in the new cycle? Maybe that’s why they “collect” stuff? But supposedly that’s what Sovereign was for – to watch the developing sapient races in this cycle and initiate the next culling when he judged the time was right. As an emergency backup plan in case the Reapers can’t reach the Citadel at culling time? This is what they’re supposedly intending with the creation of the giant terminator after all, but it’s unclear if that’s the only reason they exist, or they’ve just been put into service in this fashion because they’re handy). There is no explanation at all for why they are so comparatively few in number, why their technology is inferior to the Reapers’ (though apparently marginally superior to what the Council races have), why they have only one ship, or why they apparently all make their home in a single system.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I know the in universe reasoning.I was referring to out of universe reasoning.Why was such a dumb decision made?

        1. Mistwraithe says:

          Mmmm. I’m getting the idea, just an impression mind, from a few different sources on this website, that the writers of ME2 were not very clever.

        2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          Basically, the Collector Ship serves the same focus as Saren in ME1. It handily defeats your efforts in the beginning, you do missions against it in the middle (including a boss battle with the gun in 2 and the bomb in 1), and then the finale involves beating it SPECIFICALLY in addition to the situation as a whole later on (battle in the Council Chamber in 1, battle in the Normandy docking bay in 2). So there isn’t more than one in order to focus the player’s attention ON that one. Multiple ships just would have made it clear the mission was impossible since it takes all of your efforts to handle just the one.

        3. Nidokoenig says:

          They’re few enough in number to not need a deus ex machina to defeat. Which kind of makes Mass Effect 2 kinda pointless, since it doesn’t really raise the stakes like a middle act should in a three act structure, you’re just accumulating more power and dealing with a minor threat to keep your skills from getting rusty.

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Eh, I feel like the Suicide Mission has the best stakes of the whole series. Whole swathes of characters can be killed off in a way that doesn’t feel like you had to do it on purpose (like getting Mordin or Wrex or Kashley does later on).

            It also DEFINITELY would not work to win with a Macguffin device in Both 2 and 3. For whatever possibility the ending of 3 COULD work, that would go to zero if the heroes had just done that in 2.

  5. wswordsmen says:

    You didn’t even mention the biggest plot hole of them all. Shepard has proof that more Reapers exist and that they are old enough they can not be Geth weapons. Take the Counsel to see the Reaper and you get them to admit there is a threat they don’t understand and could destroy any given fleet in the galaxy and there is more than one of them.

    You must really have liked that part, because this was a big plot hole.

    1. INH5 says:

      You can’t do that because when Shepard investigates the wreck (which you would absolutely want to do before taking anyone important near the thing), he ends up in a situation where he has the choices of 1). be trapped in the Reaper until he goes crazy and turns himself into a husk, or 2). escape by disabling the Reaper’s mass effect core, which will have the side effect of plunging the Reaper into the core of a brown dwarf. At that point, any recordings Shepard had made during the mission wouldn’t be worth much as evidence. “This video is certainly interesting, but where is this ‘derelict Reaper’ now? Oh, it fell into the core of a brown dwarf and is now totally irretrievable? How convenient. It’s just like how Bigfoot always manages to escape back into the woods after anyone makes to snap a photo of him.”

      The set up is still pretty contrived, but from an in-universe perspective I think Shepard’s actions make sense. It still would have been good to address this in dialogue though. “We should show this to the Council to prove that the Reapers exist.” “Yes we should, but we should make sure that this thing is safe first.”

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You forget how the council LOVES to trust recordings.

        1. caeka says:

          In addition we could have Shepard or even someone on the Normandy record the entire expedition. It is kind of funny this entire thing is not addressed, since the entire reason we are “working” with Cerberus is because the council doesn’t trust us.

          1. Merlin says:


            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              …Except in the beginning of Mass Effect 1, where there are.

              And they specifically used them to tell the Normandy they need backup.

              1. Merlin says:


                1. Galad says:

                  Love that edit!

                2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  In the Grim Dark Future, Garrus forgot to take off the lens cap. Dang it Garrus!

                  1. At least his selfies are better than Miranda’s! Instagram is now blocked on the Normandy thanks to her.

              2. boota says:

                bah. gopro tech disappeared between ME 1 and 2, since being able to record on the go was deemed unnecessary because there now are much better quality stationary cameras.

                1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Grim Dark Future Go Pros ran off unlimited power batteries in 1, that would occasionally overheat and ruin the image if left on for too long. In 2, they switched to the much better “canisters of film stock” which last for a few minutes at a time and then need to be changed out.

      2. Benjamin Hilton says:

        For me the biggest problem with the reaper wasn’t the fact that it was never found in the past, it’s that it got left behind in the first place. The reapers are all about erasing evidence of the past, and just leaving one of your own corpses floating around in space seems pretty dull witted. Especially when you consider that It’s not likely reapers get killed all that often, so I can’t see how this event would have gone unnoticed at the time.

        1. batti says:

          “Steve? Steve!? Goddammit, where are you Steve!?”

          1. Gruhunchously says:

            Steve, answer me! Steve, what’s going on? Steve? STEVE!? STEEEEEEEVE!

            1. NotSteve says:

              Hey, don’t look at me. I have no idea.

        2. Couscous says:

          This. If humans can find it, it should be trivially easy for Reapers to find it and clean it up.

          But maybe Reapers are just incompetent at actually cleaning up their garbage.

      3. MadHiro says:

        It would be absolutely crazy to bring people as important as the essential rulers of Known Space to an unsecured derelict. So you don’t take the Council itself to eye the wreck; maybe you bring half a dozen Spectres along with you. The Council would presumably trust what the Turian/Salarian/Asari agents report back. There’s this entire branch of covert, elite operatives which we were part of (potentially are part of again?) that not being able to tap even one of them to come verify this massively important piece of evidence always made my eyeballs roll back into my skull.

        1. Benjamin Hilton says:

          Now that I think about it, I really wish there had been more interaction with other specters. I feel like there could be a lot of interesting stories there. As it stands, with the exception of Kaishly, every specter you do meet either dies instantly or turns out to be bad. Which brings up another point. Why is every non-Human specter so shit?

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            The Salarian Spectre from 3 is good at his job and only dies in a last ditch sacrifice to save an entire planet, which you can prevent by bringing over a save file where Kasumi joined the crew and survived the Suicide Mission. So…. um. #NotAllSpectres I guess.

            Plus the evil Vanguard (!!) Spectre from 2 (Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC) is the best boss fight in that game.

      4. Sleeping Dragon says:

        The same applies to the Collector’s Base, if you choose not to destroy it you can’t handle it over to Alliance or the Council, only Cerberus, or the Shadow Broker’s data on Collectors and Reapers.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So far the character-based missions (recruitment and loyalty missions) have ranged from serviceable to fantastic

    Eeeeehhhh,Im not sure recruitment missions were even serviceable,let alone fantastic.Grunts is stupid,and revolves around a pretty disappointing bait and switch,samaras is nonsensical,mordins is bland,and jacks is predictable and pointless since she frees herself,and technically jacob and mirandas is the first story mission,and is riddled with idiocy.So that only leaves thanes as serviceable,garruss as good,and talis as great(which is only due to the trial)*.The characters you interact with in those are mostly great,but their pacing,reasoning,etc are subpar.

    Also,the two dlc ones,but those are loyalty missions as well.

    1. Eman5805 says:

      For me, Jack’s issue was the idiocy to Warden Kuril or whatever his name was. But Jack absolutely does not free herself. She does not get off that ship if Shepard doesn’t arrive. She was in cryostasis until she is freed.

      Yeah, she immediately runs amok , wastes like five YMIR mechs (Cutscene Power to the Max like a mug), and all that, but it wasn’t pointless.

      I do agree with an earlier point Shamus makes about why Cerberus would ever recruit her, when she hates everything Cerberus, and justifably? I’d rather this be a moment of rebellion for Shepard. OH! I got it. Like, maybe Liara gives Shepard Jack’s dossier deliberately as a screw you to the Illusive Man and Cerberus, and recruiting Jack could be a character plot point where Miranda and IM are against it, but Shepard overrules them.

      And then Jack could be made actually useful in combat…

  7. Ninety-Three says:

    “They're here for “intel” on the “Omega 4 Realy””
    Really? Are you sure?

    1. Shamus says:

      “I need you to board that ship and get some hard data on the Collectors. Find us a way to get to their homeworld.”

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        That’s what I get for being glib, I was pointing out the typo of “Relay”->”Realy”.

          1. MrGuy says:

            Did Cerberus even have means to gather the data? Did they ever back for the results?)

            Perhaps “Did they ever COME back for the results?”

          2. SL128 says:

            On typos, annotation 3 should say “By” instead of “But.”

            1. Neil D says:

              Well hell, if we’re on a typo hunt, then there’s “…sidle up the the “disabled” Collector vessel…” in the opening sentence.

  8. guy says:

    I believe the story with finding the dead Reaper is that they managed to locate both the planet that got hit by the shot and the planet the shot was fired from, and had reasonably accurate dates for both. Then it’s a bunch of astrophysics math that need not detain us at this juncture to find where they’d be 37 million years ago and look for places where wreckage of something hit by the mass driver might have drifted to, allowing them to run a search pattern. A brown dwarf is exactly the sort of place which 740 cycles might never bother to examine closely if they didn’t have a specific reason.

    As for the collector vessel, I think you do stick a thingy on one of their terminals.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      But planets rotate (and because they gave us a bunch of data on the planet in question, we can be certain it’s not tidally locked). Unless you knew exactly when the shot connected, to the second, it could have gone off along any conceivable angle, so it’s impossible to trace.

      1. guy says:

        Except they knew the direction the shot came from, because they knew where it was fired from. It hit the Reaper and kept going to slam into a planet in another star system. So they know the dates of firing and impact +/- ten thousand years and can get the approximate locations of the star systems when the shot was fired. The target must have been in a line between the two.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I’m willing to give this one a pass just because it’s mostly a reasoning mess that could be sort of handwaved if the rest of the story held together. Mind you at this point the trust in the writer is not so much broken as repeatedly maimed and left for dead in a ditch.

          Bear in mind though there’s still a lot, and I do mean A LOT of variables involved, especially in a period as long as 37 million years and on a scale of star systems, AND not knowing what exactly happened in the first place even if Cerberus finds remnants of an ancient mass driver, a crater and connects the two they have no guarantee what the thing was used for, and even if they assume that it was used against the Reapers they don’t know if the weapon hit and if it hit did that change the trajectory of the projectile. Not to mention the very idea that after going to all the lengths to conceal their presence AND with every one of them preserving the very nature of a unique species (I’m aware that it’s very unclear if this was the overarching idea at the time of making the second game) the Reapers would just leave one of them to rot is preposterous… I could go on and on.

    2. INH5 says:

      I’m pretty sure that the dialogue in-game says something along the lines of how they backtraced from the point of impact, found what was left of the cannon, then used those two points to run some math and figure out where the target of the cannon was. Regardless of the specifics, it’s quite a coincidence that of all the groups in the last 740 cycles, Cerberus is the one that happens to find it, and with perfect timing too.

      1. guy says:

        Cerberus knew to look. No one is going to go make a close survey of a brown dwarf in the middle of nowhere unless they have a persuasive reason to.

      2. Decius says:

        It’s not the only derelict Reaper. It’s just the only one found this cycle.

        1. swenson says:

          Not quite! The Leviathan of Dis was confirmed in ME3 to also be a dead Reaper, albeit presumably one of the smaller ones that scuddle about.

          Of course, the Leviathan of Dis is mentioned literally three times in the games (a planet description in ME1, a conversation with Balak in ME3 that only happens if you played the Bring Down the Sky DLC for ME1 AND didn’t kill Balak AND completed the Batarian Codes quest in ME3, and in the Leviathan DLC), so it’s understandable if you forgot about it.

          1. guy says:

            Actually, from what I understand it was one of the Levithans from the DLC of the same name. They’re the species the Reaper hull design is based off, though, and have a very similar Indoctrination ability. In ME1 the Leviathan Of Dis was mentioned to be a living ship, so presumably it wasn’t a Reaper, and vanished mysteriously, so presumably it was still alive.

            1. INH5 says:

              No, at one point in ME3 you can meet a surviving Batarian who will tell you that the Leviathan of Dis was a dead Reaper that got removed from the planet for study and ended up Indoctrinating the Batarian leadership, which is why the Batarians got hit so hard in ME3. Yes, the planet description calls it a “living ship,” but ME2 reveals that Reapers are partially organic.

              1. guy says:

                They hauled away a Reaper corpse. They hauled away a Reaper corpse.

                In secret.

                That is… so much dumber than I had assumed.

                1. djw says:

                  It sounds stupid to us because we know about Reapers. The Batarians presumably did not know about them, and the ones close to the reaper were probably indoctrinated into convincing the rest to come closer…

                  1. guy says:

                    That is not, in fact, my objection. The smaller Reapers are the size of skyscrapers.

                    1. djw says:

                      Are you saying that it was crashlanded on a planet? If it was in orbit then its size isn’t really that big of a deal.

                    2. guy says:

                      It was crash-landed on a planet. Bottom of a crater. Also, pretty sure it’d be hard to get it to FTL even if it were in orbit.

                    3. djw says:

                      Getting to FTL is spacemagic, so they can hand wave that for all I care. Getting a reaper off a planet in secret sounds tricky though.

                    4. guy says:

                      I demand consistency in my space magic!

                      The required quantity of Element Zero in the drive core for an FTL trip of a given duration that does not end with electrical/flaming death for everyone on the crew and slagging all the onboard electronics scales with the mass of the ship.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        If they determine that a crater was from a planet based mass driver launcher,its not impossible to find the best candidates from the nearby systems where the shot might have originated and investigate them.What is impossible,is finding the cannon after so many civilizations have trampled over it,and after the thorough reaper cleaning.I mean they barely found loose traces of protheans,the race from a previous cycle,and now they miraculously found a weapon from 740 cycles ago?

        1. guy says:

          Well, it’s presumably a really, really big gun and furthermore implied to be on a blasted hellscape that cannot support even the simplest of life courtesy of the Reaper counter-attack. So I could buy finding fragments of the barrel and the wreckage of deeply-buried power generators.

      4. Nevrim says:

        So the cannon remains still exists after 37 million years. Thats a lot of cleansing cycles.
        A cannon that can shoot from another star system accurately enought to shoot a small ship, AND with power enough to scar a planet? And the reapers left its remains? What was the cannon made of? Why isn’t Shepard going straight to retrieve a sample of whatever is made of?
        To me this questions where some of the more annoying ones I found in the game, I mean if you are dealing with an end of the world kind of adversary and you have the remains of an ancient superweapon you study it, no? or at least you make a small side mission to explain why you can’t.

        Sorry about the spelling and grammar errors I might have made, english is not my native language and I don’t write as often as I should.

    3. Rob says:

      It still doesn’t make any sense. The planet the Reaper-killer was fired from almost has to be in the same system as the derelict Reaper, otherwise we’re forced to accept that the civilization who created it is capable of hitting a mobile ship-sized target from another solar system (which is less likely than dropping a needle in a hurricane, only for the winds to carry it and hit the center of a playing card on the other side of the storm). There shouldn’t have been any need to calculate trajectories from tens of millions of years ago; once you’ve found the weapon you know what system the Reaper has to be in.

      Another problem with reverse calculating the trajectory: the derelict Reaper and the impact site are on opposite sides of the local cluster, and the shot went through the Reaper. Even if the hit only altered the projectile’s velocity by a few millionths of a degree, across interstellar distances that’s enough that it wouldn’t even enter the fringes of the solar system containing the planet it eventually impacted.

      Of course there’s a trope for this.

      1. guy says:

        Saying it’s got to be in the same system assumes that the Reaper didn’t drift out of the system after getting hit by a super-powerful mass driver round, quite possibly while it was already headed out of the system. Certainly, there’s a lot of places it could have drifted to, but the ME universe has the technology for unmanned interstellar probes and even a very vague calculation is going to give an area considerably smaller than the entire galaxy.

        1. MadHiro says:

          What sort of vague calculation are you figuring? If the only data we’ve got to work with is the final impact point of the round, and its initial firing position, that still leaves us with the rather large unknown of the Reaper’s heading and velocity when it was hit. If it was traveling at FTL speeds when it got winged and has drifted for 37 million years without decelerating, you’re looking at a search sphere way in excess of the size of the entire Milky Way, reaching out past intergalactic space into our neighboring galaxies. Even if the sucker was ‘only’ traveling at a third of C (engaged in an ultimately failed attempt at dodging the shot which ended it), that’s still a mind-melting expanse of space to cover.

          And then there’s the job of actually finding the object once you’ve somehow miraculously managed to track it; ‘big’ reapers are two kilometers in length. So that’s spotting one particular object that’s just bigger than a twiggy comet, sans tail, in an entire solar system. Its not even giving off the EM footprint that a ship would normally be broadcasting with its active systems, so you can’t even sniff it out that way.

      2. krellen says:

        I’m pretty sure the wounded planet and the cannon planet actually are in the same system. The Reaper isn’t because it’s had 37 million years of momentum to drift away.

        1. Mike S. says:

          Drifting with escape velocity for one system but with exactly the right speed and vector to wind up with its mass effect fields keeping it in a stable position in the brown dwarf’s orbital space seems like a stretch. I’m more inclined to think that the Reaper was hit in Mnemosyne’s orbit and stayed there, while the round continued on to Klendagon a few thousand years later a la the “Newton is the deadliest SOB in space” lecture.

          Since hitting a target at interstellar range and travel times is also a stretch, that points to the gun maybe being in the asteroid belt in that system.

          (While there’s no hint of this, maybe it wasn’t an asteroid belt– until the system’s other planet was hit by Reaper counterfire.)

          1. krellen says:

            An orbit requires a lot of momentum to maintain, actually, and gravity effects over millions of years could have slowly steered the derelict towards a stable orbit somewhere. We’re talking about a lot of space and a lot of time; the implausible becomes plausible at that scale. How do you think life developed?

            1. Mike S. says:

              If a single round from a mass accelerator cannon a) killed a Reaper, b) by chance set the remains of that Reaper into an orbit around a superjovian planet in another system that remained stable for tens of millions of years, and c) proceeded to hit a different planet, then while God may not play dice with the universe, He plays a heck of a game of billiards.

              1. djw says:

                I agree that sounds improbable. Perhaps the Reaper limped to the Brown dwarf to hide and then expired in orbit.

                This brings up another thought I had… What if the derelict reaper was the “Sovereign” of the cycle where it was hit? If it was killed mid cycle that would explain why the other Reapers never found it. It would also give it a fairly pressing motive to hide, since it would be unwilling to risk giving the Sapients of that cycle a chance to learn about Reapers many years in advance of the Reaping.

                1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                  The limping, likely even some automated procedure operating below the level of “consciousness”, is the best theory for why the Reaper is in orbit. It’s also another reason why searching for it by tracing the projectile’s path is utterly ridiculous. Mind you Cerberus operates on the assumptions that the projectile was used against, actually hit and incapacitated a Reaper that drifted off but parked at a safe spot somewhere nearby and that was not recovered by its brethren. Even with all of this in mind a space just in the vicinity of a single star is… there’s no proper sense of scale to even try comparing it to a 2km long ship.

                  You know what? This is why Cerberus suddenly has enough forces to engage entire armies and fleets in ME3, they had them all the time they were just combing this entire area, and they still got lucky!

        2. GloatingSwine says:

          The planet that was hit is actually a place you can visit in the first game (well, one of its moons, one of the origin sidequests is there, the one for the Ruthless background IIRC). You can see the effect of the impact (the planet is actually just a picture of Mars with the Vallis Marineris as the “impact” trench)

          It’s an explored system, if the gun was there it would have been found.

          Also, the impact to the planet is supposed to suggest that the round hit the planet, scored a massive trench into its surface and then carried on, which means that the impact almost certainly changed the rotational period of the planet, maybe its orbital period as well.

          So all you’d really get from the trench is the plane along which the round was travelling, you wouldn’t easily be able to work out where any of it might have been fired from based on the current orbits of the planet because the energy involved in the collision must have changed those by an unknown amount (because you don’t know how much energy the impactor had before or after the impact)

    4. djw says:

      I am still not sure whether this calculation is possible or impossible, but here are the results of some googling I did about galaxy data.

      ~100 billion stars in the galaxy. This is a lot, but it is a tiny number compared to the number of air molecules in the room you are sitting in. Tracking the trajectory of every air molecule in a room is flat out impossible. Tracking 100 billion stars (times another factor of 100-1000 to account for planets and other crap) is probably really really hard, but I don’t know about impossible.

      ~Orbit time for the Milky way is on the order of 200 million years. The Milky Way is not a solid object, so different parts take different amounts of time to orbit. This 200 million year number gives us a rough idea of the scale of the orbit. To a very rough approximation, after a couple of complete rotations the galaxy should be hopelessly scrambled. The 37 million year time frame for the derelict reaper is less than this, so there might be some hope for reconstructing the state of the galaxy at that time.

      I’ll continue to ponder, but I am leaning towards giving the writers the benefit of the doubt on this one.

      1. Mike S. says:

        I really want to give them the benefit of the doubt. (And even without it, I’ll chalk it up to WSOD.) But while I think that the fractional galactic rotation would work for making large general predictions about the structure of the galaxy (the spiral arms aren’t going to disappear or change direction or anything), at the level of individual stars it’s a massive N-body problem. The movement of a single star relative to another on that timescale may be impossible to predict precisely enough even in principle.

        The round has to have hit Klendagon at a certain angle, so its rotation inscribes a region of its sky as possible sources rather than the entire galaxy. But narrowing which stars might have been in that position 37 million years ago seems tough-to-impossible in itself, and would still be a staggering number of stars. They really needed some other clue besides the rift itself to home in on the gun, let alone its target.

        1. djw says:

          Yeah, that’s flip side. Which part of its orbit was the planet in when it got hit? The time scale for tracing that backwards is some multiple of its orbit time, and that is certainly less than 37 million years.

          More Google foo, the Lyapunov time seems relevant. For our Solar system it is listed as 50 million years. (although on second glance, the orbits of some object IN the solar system have much shorter Lyapunov times).

    5. Couscous says:

      They would need to date it insanely precisely or there are going to be insanely huge margins of errors. The Earth revolves around the Sun at about 67,000 mph. The Sun revolves around the galactic center at about 514,000 mph. Even very precise dating is going to have a very large margin of error.

      The point is that the dates are going to be approximate and the margin of error is going to be relatively huge for the purpose of finding the ship. Like plus or minus 37,000 years even with a 0.1% margin of error. They also don’t know at exactly what angle it was hit, exact power of what hit it, and a ton of other relevant details that are going to add up to “well, it would be in basically this quadrant of the galaxy somewhere.” They might know the approximate angle, the approximate power of what hit it, and the approximate other relevant details, but there is a reason chaos theory was summarized by someone as “when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.”

      They might as well have a Total Perspective Vortex that calculates everything from a piece of fairy cake.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And yet none of those 740 masters of the galaxy ever found this Reaper?

    That is actually the only plausible thing here.You see,our galaxy is big.Really big.You just wont believe how vastly,hugely,mind-bogglingly big it is.And discovering a single ship next to a dead star,unless you are searching for it,is practically impossible.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      There’s also the side detail that by the time anyone finds it, the Reapers have already started Reaping.

      I mean, if what Sovereign said about using the Mass Effect relays to ensure organics follow a specific pattern, they might’ve configured the relays to not allow any access to any relays with the weapon in question to be found universally…until the Reapers have shown up in the first place.

      So everyone discovers the planet with the scar across it, but can’t find the planet with the traces of the gun until the Reapers show up and it’s not like they’re going to be able to build a counter-weapon anyways.

      As for the Reaper itself…that could be explained by it being lodge out of Relay area space for a while ala the Mu Relay being knocked out due to the supernova.

      Then, relatively recently, the Relay got knocked back to nearby the Reaper, and…well…Sovereign can’t stop anyone from getting to it.

    2. Mike S. says:

      Yeah. The mass relay network reduces the size of the problem from the galaxy’s full hundred billion stars by design, but it’s still huge. And a system which you can already tell from interstellar distances doesn’t have a garden world or much else of interest isn’t going to get a lot of examination.

      (And no one’s looking for Reapers, because Reapers are a half-remembered galactic legend that no one seriously believes in till they show up. This is probably the first Cycle that got to see a Reaper before the destruction started in earnest, much advantage did they take of it.)

      This is undercut somewhat by the codex saying that there were probes sent there that went so far as to notice a minor gravitic anomaly that they didn’t follow up on. But that’s a case where the game itself, by not making a big deal of the issue, is doing better worldbuilding than the supplementary material.

      1. guy says:

        It’s indicated that the Council throws unmanned probes at basically everywhere within unmanned probe range. They have been at this for a while.

        1. Mike S. says:

          Still, that’s a job of work. Standard FTL is something like twelve light years per day, with more for military ships. (Less if there’s a big gap that stops you from discharging static between two systems.) Unless I’m doing this wrong, that means that a week’s travel around a given relay would encompass (4/3)*Ï€*(84^3), or around two and a half million cubic light years.

          Around Sol, stellar density is about .004 per cubic light year, which gives roughly ten thousand stars within a week’s flight of the Charon relay. Higher density for stars nearer the core, lower for those further out or outside the spiral arms, of course.

          Even in the thousands of years the asari have been at it, and taking into account that some relays’ spheres will overlap each other and that ftl probes can visit multiple systems… that calls for a lot of probes. Even with Citadel tech, it might make sense to stick with Kepler-type telescope surveys and only probe systems with specific criteria of interest.

          1. guy says:

            For ten thousand stars, that means that if we count from the end of the Krogan Rebellions, ~1000 years ago and some point after when they last blindly opened relays, they’d need to probe ten stars a year per relay to visit every star within a week of the relay before the start of the series. That’s slightly over five weeks between stellar surveys if they’ve only got one probe per relay. They’d probably want to probe every celestial body they could find looking for suitable core discharge locations, which Kepler-style surveys would have difficulty picking out, and have a rather considerable industrial base.

            Note that drive cores on average must be discharged after 50 hours at FTL. Probes presumably have been modified for increased distance compared to the average, but that still cuts down the number of stars by at least 50% unless they do find a discharge point.

            1. Mike S. says:

              Isn’t that only five weeks between stellar surveys if each stellar survey itself takes no time? A week per star requires two hundred probe-years added to travel time, a month per star adds 800 years– and even a month isn’t a lot to survey an entire solar system. I guess it depends on what kind of data they’re collecting.

              (Do we have even a rough sense of how many relays Citadel civilization includes?)

              Interstellar communication is also only possible via comm buoys, which suggests the probes have to store the data till they get back to a settled system. (In which case a lost probe means a redo for anything done since its last upload.)

              It’s possible I’m being too negative. But sending probes to, say, half a million stars in a millennium (assuming 50 non-overlapping relay regions) is at least a pretty serious undertaking.

              1. guy says:

                If we’re doing a week each way and a week in-system, that’s three weeks per star, so it’d take 600 years and 50 probes. Or more plausibly 600 probes and 50 years, which considering that the Council races collectively possess 74 dreadnoughts and the Turians apparently could build and support more, probably isn’t that big a deal. The survey would vary between intensive and cursory depending on likely properties of the place and anything interesting the probe spots. Minimum is planet count, rough size and orbit, and magnetic field for discharge purposes. Five weeks was not the time it would take to do a new survey, but the slowest they could go while finishing in 1000 years with one probe per relay.

                I expect they’d spend more time than my estimate but could have thousands of probes. Surveying brown dwarfs and similar as well would push up the number of objects, but those surveys would be extremely cursory, apparently to the point of missing a 2-km starship with active reactor, and probably represent a slight diversion from a survey of an actual star system.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Thats assuming that you can completely map out a solar system in a week.With our current technology,we still have a plethora of unmapped asteroids that are quite close to us.And a single asteroid is about the size of a reaper(a few kilometers).With more advanced technology it would presumably take some less time,but I guess much more than a week.

                  1. krellen says:

                    Our main obstacle is our (lack) of speed getting around the system. FTL travel pretty much negates this – Pluto is a mere 5.5 lighthours from the sun. The volume of our system out to Pluto, then is 697 lighthours; at 12x lightspeed, the probe can transverse every centimeter of that area in 2.5 days. Leaving the probe 4.5 days to actually probe. (Making the radius 6 lighthours only adds another day and a half to transversal time.)

                    And of course, 12 lightyears per day is a lot faster than 12x lightspeed.

                    1. Jesse says:

                      Not to mention the sheer scale of industry any of these civilisations have. I’d imagine an unmanned probe to the ME universe is probably somewhat akin to a satellite for us now, and we have quite a lot of those around and can make them in a relatively short amount of time with only a relatively few countries doing so. Now imagine earth with all the countries more or less aligned in goals and technology level, that’s a lot more satellites we could make. Now times that by say 20 earths and maybe 100 partial earths (complete guesses at the scale of the civilisations in ME, based on the newcomer human planets we see in game and the fact that the various races own large sections of galaxy each). And add to that the drive others have mentioned whereby finding new planets is very important and lucrative. You wouldn’t be talking about thousands of probes here, you’d be talking millions, maybe more.

                  2. guy says:

                    They don’t especially care about single asteroids, though. What they want to find are planets with breathable atmospheres and/or strong magnetic fields for colonization and core discharge purposes. The systems we actually visit are often in the process of being more carefully surveyed by actual live research teams.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Then they have even less reason to probe a brown dwarf from up close.

                      Also,if they dont care for asteroids but just planets,they dont even need to probe stars from up close.We already can scan for planets in distant star systems.We found hundreds of them in the past decade or so.

                    2. guy says:

                      They managed to miss an entire Reaper with a fully-operational Mass Effect core. They clearly didn’t look very closely.

                      Have we determined the magnetic field strength of hundreds of planets? Because that’s critically important for dreadnought core discharge.

      2. djw says:

        I wonder if the reaper has been discovered a few times in the past, and the indoctrination effect drove the discovery team crazy before they could report.

    3. Couscous says:

      Mass Effect otherwise operates on the Star Wars “the galaxy is actually really small” principle. Same with movies like the 2009 Star Trek.

  10. Ninety-Three says:

    “”The Collectors are planning to attack Earth directly.” But you get this conversation no matter who you bring with you”

    Actually, that’s a recurring problem with the game’s mission dialogue. Most missions have a couple places where your squadmates will comment on something around them, but regardless of which squadmates you have with you, you’ll get the same comments, almost word for word. Bring along Jack and Grunt on a high-tech mission and you’ll get the baby Krogan commenting on how impressive this fancy technology is.

    It’s like they got halfway to the idea of “We should flesh out our characters with some mid-mission dialogue”, so they wrote in a couple points of interest for characters to respond to, but every character read the same script when it came to how they should react.

    1. Merlin says:

      This is consistently an issue with the classic Bioware format of (A) giving you a huge party, (B) not giving you enough spaces in the active group to bring everyone along, and (C) letting you freely choose the active group. I really don’t understand why they haven’t adopted gameplay that lets your group be a group or assumed even limited control of your party composition.

      You think back to something like Chrono Trigger, and they got a lot of mileage out of things like making Ayla mandatory in prehistory segments, Frog mandatory in medieval segments, and so on. CT isn’t even that big on characterization – basically everyone is just a standard plucky hero – but they at least get some context to work within. You still had some control of your party, but the game ensured that the person who needed to be there was actually there, which also tended to lead to mixing up your party a bit.

      Instead, they decided to go with Chrono Cross’s, which gives you a ton of characters (almost none of whom have actual reason to hang out with you and save the world) and, rather than having unique characterization and dialog, have unique annoying accents programmatically applied to a common script.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        They do assume control of your party various times. The character relevant to the Loyalty mission comes to that mission. Kaidan and Ashley have forced roles on the mission with the nuke. EDI has to come to the showdown with Cerberus in 3. But in most other places, locking down that control would just be boring and annoying.

    2. Flip says:

      It doesn’t even make a lot of sense that they would target Earth. There are enough people in the Colonies. Terra Nova has over 4 Million inhabitants. That should be more that enough to fill all those pods.

      1. Mike S. says:

        “They’re going for Earth. By which I mean New Earth, in Latin. Maybe don’t give all your planets the same name, Shepard?”

        1. ? says:

          “They are going to Earth, by which I mean new nightclub on Eden Prime, there is a leaflet and everything! Tomorrow is karaoke night… those bastards!”

    3. Deager says:

      That is a tricky one. Bas L.’s comments to me last entry reminded me that when we play through a game more than once or try multiple options that we get a different view. Having incredibly variable dialogue and comments would be awesome but I’m guessing when the script does indeed call for a main concept to be put forth (regardless if it’s a good one or not) then we get generic dialogue. Too bad that.

      I’m pretty sure a lot of dialogue wheel stuff in ME1 has the exact same verbal response from Shepard without even changes to renegade or paragon points. Sometimes even a left/investigate option does the exact same thing as the middle right/neutral option. Too often, it’s the illusion of choice. Video games…smoke and mirrors. :)

      I’m not knocking you though. I would love little comments on the side to be true to characters and variable among the group. The thousands of bools in the game make it plausible to do some pretty cool stuff, but there is the old time and money issue that always crops up.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        It’s not even a time and money issue though, they recorded each dialogue for every combination of point of interest and character (or at least every character minus one, since you’re guaranteed to have two squaddies). They already invested most of the effort, the writers couldn’t take a few minutes out of their day to give the VAs different lines to record for the POIs?

        1. Deager says:

          I agree with you and yet I’m still not sure. Is there some weird thing they consider about keeping certain concepts very much the same at the cost of a line actually making sense for that character? Something else in game design that I’m missing!?

          Ultimately though, I agree with you. They record the lines, and a statement with no response dialogue after it would allow a pretty great option for customization from the writers. Or, even if there were a response, it’s not that hard to mix it up a bit.

          I’m going to have to pay attention this ME2 run to see why the game doesn’t drive me nuts with this stuff. I’m guessing I still buy the actors portrayal of the characters and I hand-wave everything else; lines, plot, science…

        2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          The characters sometimes do have different lines though. You’re being reductive. Note what happens when Shepard pushes somebody out a window in 2 or when a Shepard who dated Tali meets up with her again on mission in 3.

        3. Andrew says:

          That holds so long as the lines are independent of each other. If some enthusiastic person decides to have one character say something, and the other give a specific response to what was said, you could have potentially :

          Zaeed speaks first, the other (out of the remaining 11) responds or
          if no Zaeed, Legion speaks first, the other (out of the remaining 10) responds
          Jack speaks first, Kasumi responds.

          for 11 possible first lines and 66 responses.

          This could be reduced by grouping character types – eg Tali and Mordin have the “scientist” tag and say equivalent things, for which a “response to scientist” is equally appropriate. I’m reminded of the Spirit Engine 2, where you were required to have pick a character from each of three colour-coded sets, each set having a similar temperament, so the mix-‘n’-match character conversations would work.

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Yeah, generally they will pick one of your guys and have them react to what’s happening. That way, they only need to write 11 lines (say).

        4. Deager says:

          This is pretty late now but I’m in ME2 at the moment. There’s actually plenty of dialogue variance depending on who’s with you. I’m not going to care if everyone says the same exact line at certain times. Doesn’t matter. There’s enough variance when needed from what I see.

  11. Nentuaby says:

    The one UNfortunate thing about the overall really effective dead reaper thing is that it killed the final choice of the game (… even deader…) if you considered its implications. We learn here that Reaper tech does not need a functioning Reaper consciousness to be an Indoctrination hazard.

    Now… Purge the Collector base and study it? Are you fucking NUTS? Forget whatever moral bullshit Shepard quotes in the “blow it up” option, even a 9000% Renegade Shep now has the context to realize that inheriting a currently functional Reaper base is SUICIDE.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      Now I wished there was a reference to that in the ending choice.

      “Maybe we could use their tech to advance ourselves, but you’ve proven that you can’t even handle a dead Reaper; so, words to the effect of no.”

      1. Andrew says:

        I blew up the base because I was worried about the risk of indoctrination, and wish that line of thought could have been explored – having TIM tell you the benefit is worth the risk is very Cerberus – they’re all about the crazy risks, and opting to take the high-risk, high-reward path could fit with a victory-at-any-cost Renegade.

    2. Timothy Coish says:

      I guess I sort of tuned out by this point in the game, but wasn’t the choice to save some specific small amount of reaper tech?

      I know that Cerberus is portrayed as incompetent fools by their actions, and mostly-incompetent fools by the writers themselves, but let’s pretend otherwise. Imagine instead that Cerberus was an extremely competent humans-first organization, and they had a history of true insights and breakthroughs. In that case, considering the odds the galaxy is up against, you could make a great argument that the risk of indoctrination is very much worth the potential gain from understanding even part of reaper technology.

      That’s not the Cerberus that Bioware actually created, but I can dream.

      1. guy says:

        The choice is to either kill all the Collectors and leave the base completely intact to hand over to Cerberus or blow it up. Leaving the base intact makes more sense if you’re going to hand it over to a vaguely competent organization that would take anti-Indoctrination measures like conducting all research by telepresence.

        1. Nidokoenig says:

          And have all the telepresence operators in secure locations, with means to neutralise them at the first sign of trouble. Where the SCP archives lost at some point? This is basic shit.

          1. guy says:

            Granted, while the SCP Foundation would know to do that, I can see a competent research corps forgetting that step, especially since there’s no specific evidence that it can be carried on visual transmissions.

            1. Nidokoenig says:

              I was actually making a joke that these, by their time centuries old, Oil Age stories would be a good source of ideas. Honestly, it should be standard procedure in extraterrestrial exploration to use telepresence because some fucker’s gonna turn out to secrete cyanide gas as a waste product or something.

              1. pdk1359 says:

                Well, considering that we’re desperately working on efficient telepresence technologies right now, I can totally understand why the sci-fi magic future of Mass Effect wouldn’t be even slightly familiar with telepresence technologies; I’d kill the drama.

                You could make a game/movie/tv show that has all of the first contact event occur through telepresence factors (with sufficient detail/drama), but you couldn’t keep the idiot producers from killing it.

                P.S. I just added telepresence to my computer’s dictionary. This makes me happy.

                1. GloatingSwine says:

                  Actually, it’s been done. In a JRPG no less.

                  In Xenoblade Chronicles X everyone is remote operating a machine body by telepresence, and the big drama of the game is that the life support core where all the real bodies are needs finding before it powers down (since the colony ship suffered a serious case of explosions).

              2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                Until it turns out that using a machine to speak in place of you is a DEADLY insult in the alien culture, and they declare war as soon as they discover you are doing it…

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    At some point during this mission, I really thought we’d somehow get to softly reactivate the dead Reaper and use it as a spaceship, perhaps to infiltrate the Reapers fleet or to at least convince the skeptics that Reapers were still very much a thing.

    It might have been stupid, but certainly not as stupid as the ending we actually got.

  13. MrGuy says:

    You can see what the writer is trying to do: They want Shepard to board the Collector ship and get the next batch of exposition, and they're trying to build some sort of conflict between Shepard and TIM.

    I’m struck here by what a great job DE:HR does with Pritchard in a sort of similar situation. They deliberately build up a semi-hostility between Pritchard and Jensen, but they grudgingly have to work together. Pritchard is never a straight-up adversary, but you’re wondering half the game if he’s really on your side or not. It’s a great example of building interesting, story-deepening conflict, and they do it without needing him to straight up betray you or have a full-on confrontation.

    1. Chris says:

      I had forgotten how much I liked the way they did that. I spent such a long time expecting Pritchard to sell me out and have been working for the baddies the whole time. In actuality, he was probably the most trustworthy ally in the game. At no point did any of it feel like an asspull. I have a myriad of story complaints about that game, but the Jensen/Pritchard interactions were just so well done.

    2. Zekiel says:

      Yes. This is one of the things I loved about DEHR – the Pritchard/Jensen relationship, which was even better than the interactions with Sarif and Malik. (And they were pretty good.)

    3. Couscous says:

      Sarif not betraying you or turning out to be evil (well, mustache twirling evil) felt weird. Good, but it was still weird.

      1. Chris says:

        I really despised the VA work for Sarif. He was so whiny.

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          “Honestly, I’m afraid you’ll take it the wrong waaaaaay :(”

          But jokes, and few flubbed line readings aside, I actually really liked Sarif’s VA. I thought he we pretty good at being chummy and straightforward while also being flustered over the problems he was dealing with and the secrets he was trying to hide. He nailed the whole ‘semi-benevolent capitalist’ vibe of Sarif’s character. This is of course subjective.

  14. MrGuy says:

    If this was longer and isolated Shepard from the Normandy then we could have trapped the player in here. You could mess with the companion dialog and make them worry that they might be crazy.

    This possibly explains the whole game for me.

    Cerberus found the derelict reaper a decade ago. TIM, realizing the importance of the find, rushed to see it personally, and wound up indoctrinated.

    TIM, under indoctrination, comes up with what seems to him like a great plan – betray Shepard to the Collectors (that’s how they found you!), get Shepard killed, then rebuild him to get Shepard’s loyalty. It’s the worst plan ever, not in small part because it risks the galaxy’s (and so humanity’s) best asset against the Reapers, but TIM’s indoctrinated so he doesn’t realize this.

    TIM builds his “human rebuilding” program using scavenged tech from the derelict reaper, which means Shepard winds up partially indoctrinated as part of the rebuilding process. This is why the dialogue is so stupid – as hard as Shepard struggles against indoctrination to say “I’m not working for Cerberus,” he never can. It’s why he can’t find a way to question TIM’s motivations or actions, no matter how absurd. It’s why TIM always seems to genuinely believe his plan is the best plan in the world, even though they’re almost always explicitly counter to his pro-human agenda. It’s why “let’s build a plucky band of misfits!” seems like a better plan than blockading the relay or destroying it.

    Shepard can sort of fight this occasionally in dialogue, and can sense something is wrong, but never is able to break out of it. It’s why the side missions feel so much better – when Shepard is off on his own making decisions, everything feels normal. It’s only when he puts his mind to “defeating the collectors” that the indoctrination starts driving, making everything feel wrong.

    Shepard’s indoctrination isn’t complete, which is why TIM sends Shepard to the derelict reaper. Now that Shepard is fully indoctrinated, TIM has Shepard destroy the reaper to destroy the evidence (and ensure nobody can ever prove he got Shepard indoctrinated deliberately).

    The final mission was meant to be a suicide mission. TIM planned to broadcast Shepard’s (second) death from beyond the Omega-4 relay back to the alliance, in the hopes of using Shepard’s presence to “prove” the threat and get the Alliance to send their entire fleet (under TIM’s command), which would subsequently be sent through the Omega-4 relay and destroyed.

    And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

    1. Taellosse says:

      Within ME canon, TIM actually is partially indoctrinated, though not by the derelict Reaper. One of the tie-in comics covers his backstory as a member of the armed resistance fighting the Turians during the First Contact War on Shanxi. Near the end, some bit of Reaper tech is found, and he’s exposed to it’s effects when it gets turned on. This is why he’s got weird eyes – he was ever-so-slightly husk-ified by that device. It’s also heavily implied that it subtly affected his mind, and helped drive him to found Cerberus, which eventually led him to expose himself to an ever-increasing volume of Reaper tech, culminating in his being fully indoctrinated in ME3.

      None of which actually damages your fanon theory, either – it’s entirely possible that he provided Reaper tech to the Lazarus project, possibly even masking its origin.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        He also at least once sentenced someone to death by forcibly injecting them with Reaper tech.
        For the bonus research I presume.

    2. IanTheM1 says:

      Something that would have been really dangerous and tricky to pull off well, but would have been genuinely terrifying?

      Have Martin Sheen utter three words to Shepard:

      “Assuming direct control.”

    3. Timothy Coish says:

      A great fan theory. Catharsis requires that this be made explicit. If I don’t trust that this is the story that Bioware actually wrote, then I just feel frustrated at the stupidity of it all.

      But it amazes me how much more sense this theory makes than the game alone.

  15. Flip says:

    Cerberus found this dead Reaper and dropped off a bunch of scientists, who all went insane. Either Cerberus never bothered to check up on their people, or this whole thing was a deliberate test to see how long it would take them to lose their minds.

    I don’t think this is fair. You make it sound as if Cerberus intentionally send their scientists to get indoctrinated. But does Cerberus have any reason to believe that a dead Reaper would indoctrinate people?
    1. Sovereign’s remains didn’t indoctrinate anyone on the Citadel. At least we never hear about it.
    2. We know the Citadel is Reaper tech and it doesn’t indoctrinate people.
    These facts suggest that dead Reapers and even non-sentient Reaper tech are harmless.

    So it is entirely reasonable for Cerberus to send a research team. And TIM explicitly says that they have lost contact. So they previously had contact with the science team. It just stopped reporting in at some point. This fits with the codex’ explanation of indoctrination:

    Long-term physical effects of the manipulation are unsustainable. Higher mental functioning decays, ultimately leaving the victim a gibbering animal. Rapid indoctrination is possible, but causes this decay in days or weeks.

    So it is possible to indoctrinate people within days. Unless you are suggesting that Cerberus checks on its scientists every day – they never seem to do with their other experiments -, it does make sense that they can get indoctrinated without Cerberus-HQ noticing.

    1. guy says:

      There were more than a few ME 1 incidents involving people getting ahold of what in hindsight are clearly Reaper artifacts and getting Indoctrinated and turning themselves into Husks. Sovereign’s corpse doesn’t Indoctrinate people, as far as we know, but on the other hand he got blown up pretty thoroughly while this one is largely intact. Getting Indocrinated and turning themselves into Husks is certainly on the list of things that could happen to a research team on the derelict Reaper, so Cerberus should have demanded near-continuous reports.

      1. Flip says:

        What incidents are you referring to? I don’t remember a single point in the story where people are indoctrinated without Sovereign being involved.

        Saren? He was on Sovereign.
        Benezia? She was on Sovereign.
        Crazy Salarians? They were in Saren’s base where he was performing indoctrination experiments and had a working Sovereign hologram. And he presumably visited his base every now and then. With Sovereign.

        Sure, you could argue that in hindsight Object Rho from the Arrival DLC is such an artifact. But arguing with the benefit of hindsight is invalid when trying to judge Cerberus’ behaviour. They can’t know what didn’t happen yet.

        1. guy says:

          Here and here for sure, possibly here too, but that might be Cerberus being Cerberus and turning people into Husks without needing to be indoctrinated first.

          1. Flip says:

            The third link doesn’t work.

            The second link merely proves that Dragons’ Teeth (aka the spikes) can turn people into husks. We already knew that. If the spikes could indoctrinate people, wouldn’t we expect to see indoctrinated people from the Citadel and Eden Prime, where Saren left a few of them? And judging from ME1’s Eden Prime, these things need to be manually operated.

            The first link shows that some unspecified alien technology has transformed the ship’s crew into husks. We have no idea what this technology is. They could’ve found another dead reaper for all we know.

            So your logic is this?
            a) The spikes can be used to make husks. Therefore dead reapers indoctrinate people.
            b) People became husks at some point in time after they found alien technology. This alien technology may or may not be involved in their transformation. Therefore dead reapers indoctrinate people.

            That’s moon logic. TIM would be proud.

            1. guy says:

              Yes, they need to be manually operated. Which in turn means that the only plausible explanation for why a colony or spaceship not attacked by external forces would all transform into Husks is that they got Indoctrinated and used Dragon’s Teeth themselves. Which means that either they found an entire live Reaper who mysteriously failed to show up for the Citadel attack or they got Indoctrinated by something other than a live Reaper, such as a piece of technology that might be found on a dead Reaper.

              1. Flip says:

                Yes. And now all we can do is speculate what happened. :-/

                Still, I maintain that it is not unreasonable for TIM to send scientists without bad intentions.

                The last dead reaper we dealt with didn’t indoctrinate people after it died. Why should this one?
                The last time we encountered Dragons’ Teeth, they had to be used manually. Why should these be different?

                1. guy says:

                  Because these incidents extremely strongly imply that it doesn’t take a fully-operational Reaper to Indoctrinate someone, and Sovereign was blown into tiny pieces that could have destroyed anything that Indoctrinates people, while this one is largely physically intact and even has an operational Mass Effect drive. So while it could have gotten its Indoctrination systems destroyed, it also could still have them.

                  1. Alexander The 1st says:

                    The part about Sovereign being broken up into parts, ergo not indoctrinating people, assumes that people *aren’t* indoctrinated when they take Sovereign’s parts.

                    Nothing says that Sovereign, while being destroyed, couldn’t slowly indoctrinate people, and do so in so subtly a way that it’s not immediately obvious that’s what happening.

                    If people are away from the Sovereign research parts for most of the day, it might even be really slow.

                    1. guy says:

                      That’s certainly possible, but as we never find any evidence indicating someone got Indoctrinated by it as of the end of ME3, I think it’s safe to assume it wasn’t working.

                      Also, the Keepers did drag huge chunks of it into their mystery sealed areas, so they might’ve grabbed any parts that were still radiating the Indoctrination field to make sure the Council couldn’t analyze it by remote.

                    2. Ninety-Three says:

                      Hell, nothing even says it’s subtle. For all we know there are bases full of people who got turned into husks by studying Sovereign’s remains, it’s not like huskified science bases are rare in the Mass Effect universe. Shepard can’t hear about every place it happens.

                    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

                      I would also point out that during and after the second game the theory of Council indoctrination (either by Sovereign’s fragments or some Citadel function that it managed to activate before being destroyed) was a fairly common explanation for their behaviour…

                      Also, the Object from Arrival DLC

        2. Keeshhound says:

          There are a couple of sidequests where you encounter derelict ships or bases full of husks where it becomes apparent in hindsight that the previous inhabitants ran afoul of indoctrination.

  16. James says:

    I am mostly o.k. with this reaper being 37 million years old and not found by the 740 species that have risen, after all the galaxy is a huge place, and is designed to lead everyone to the citadel, because all roads lead to Rome after all.

    740 species not finding a thing around A failed star in trillions would be reasonable, how Cerberus found it was moronic, they could have just said it was dumb luck and id have been ok with it.

    An analogy i came up with was something like having 740 people looking a specific car somewhere on earth. you wouldn’t be surprised if none of them found it.

    1. Flip says:

      And we can have many more people look for a missing airplane and still not find it.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The only good thing about the collector ship mission is mordins talk about their stagnation.

    1. Corpital says:

      And, if I remember correctly, the always stellar german translation that turned the anti-materiel rifle into an anti-matter rifle. Granted, it makes more sense to have such a weapon here than in a lot of other games, where the same mistake was made.

      1. Mike S. says:

        Even in English, they called the Widow an “Anti-Material Rifle” rather than “anti-materiel”, so the German translation comes by the error honestly.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          Hmm… wiki says that “material” (with an A) ‘may refer to’ “materiel” (with an E). AKA, in American English, we spells it like we sees it.

  18. Duoae says:

    I…just…. ugh!

    The number of times direct evidence of the Reaper threat looms large in this story and with all the surveillance equipment and whatnot (hey, you’d think the Shadow Broker would want the galaxy to not implode from utter annihilation) somehow the citadel council and human council are completely and aggressively against any talk or acknowledgement of this…

    The number of times the writers had to actually gel this story into a single cohesive whole over the three games and yet they completely messed it up time and time again.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      somehow the citadel council and human council are completely and aggressively against any talk or acknowledgement of this…

      The most frustrating thing is that in me3 there is one conversation with joker where he says “I thought the council simply didnt want to tell us because of cerberus”.So the writers actually thought of a good,plausible explanation to put in there and then decided not to do it because…having the council be that stupid is funny?Ugh!

  19. The Defenestrator says:

    It would have been better if Harbinger was actually the dead Reaper, and the Collectors were trying to repair or jump-start it somehow. That would make the story more Lovecraftian and make it easier to justify Harbinger being irrational and focused on Shepard. That also allows for the reveal that Harbinger is a Reaper to have an impact, since if it is fully restored it can be a big threat immediately. Also, the solution to stopping Harbinger can involve some way of theoretically stopping a Reaper which works on a partially-revived Harbinger but might not work on a healthy Reaper without some more work.

    1. Matt K says:

      That actually would work in a number of ways. The Collectors could be the remains of a group he indoctrinated to repair him, gathering up humans could be to create a new body since the repair process isn’t working, etc.

      Although the problem I keep seeing with the game is so many of these ideas presented in the comments would have been an improvement. Sad really.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Or you could even say the repair process *is* working, just that it involves organic material as it does in the current game.

        Which would give the “Keep the base alive” choice at the end a potential Renegade benefit – even *if* people go indoctrinated researching the base, anything they send back about how the Reapers repair themselves would be a *minefield* of great ways to disable Reapers when they show up in ME3.

        Then, even if TIM goes indoctrinated and whatnot, there’s a reason to attack his main base outside of Kai Leng ninja’ing the McGuffin you need.

    2. Flip says:

      This would beg the question of why the Reapers left a dead Reaper floating around when they know about it. The Reapers made and control the Collectors, so they should know.

      1. The Defenestrator says:

        How about this: In this version of the story, the Collectors are controlled by Reapers in the galaxy, not the ones in deep space. Normally, there is at least one Reaper in the galaxy at all times to command them, but with Sovereign destroyed they are able to pick up the faint signals from the dead Reaper for the first time. The Reapers in deep space don’t have any direct control over the situation.

        1. Flip says:

          So why doesn’t Sovereign bring the Collectors to the Citadel?

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            To be fair that’s a good question without altering the game as well.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Because sovereign wasnt a loser who needed some losers to support him.Harbinger,on the other hand…

          3. guy says:

            Because it’s one cruiser and would be kind of a pain to get to the Citadel for the purposes of having it blown up by a dreadnought.

          4. The Defenestrator says:

            * The Collectors needed to be doing something else at the time
            * The Collectors were still waking up and getting their ship out of mothballs (Sovereign needed to act while Saren was still as functional as possible more than it needed a big escort fleet)
            * Sovereign thought having a mixed organic/synthetic fleet might cause problems
            * Collectors are already Indoctrinated enough that actually being close to a Reaper might cause them to degrade too much to be useful

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              The last one might be most notable – the idea that indoctrination makes a slave less useful as it is indoctrinated might tie into it, and explain why he went with Saren instead – he needed a clean slate that gave him further access into the Citadel itself.

              Given that the Collectors are a 1-cycle change for the Reapers to use them as they are, they may have said “Look; no matter what, don’t break the Protheans *too* much – we want them to completely build a Reaper to help you if things go awry.”

              As for the dead Reaper, the problem with the Collectors picking up the its signals is that the Collectors should be docile after you dropped it into the brown dwarf.

  20. Raygereio says:

    In Mass Effect 1, the Protheans were lanky Slenderman-looking guys with tentacle beards

    As far as I can remember, ME1 never actually stated that those statues on Ilos are what Protheans looked like.
    During development of ME1, according to the Art of Mass Effect book, those statues originally were supposed to depict Protheans. But the writers hadn’t nailed down what the Protheans’ role in the story would be, so they decided to keep things vague.

    As former Alliance military he ought to be able to wrap his head around the idea that superiors don't always share all the intelligence with you. The problem with TIM's plan isn't the lie of omission, it's that it's stupid and creates needless risk of irreplaceable mission resources.

    Shepard is mad about the wrong things and expresses his anger childishly instead of pragmatically.

    I’m not sure I understand where you’re going here. I think it’s fairly reasonable to be pissed off then your superior (*) intentionally withholds information critical to you succeeding and, more importantly, surviving.
    * Or since I refuse to acknowledge TIM as Shep’s superior: Some weird dude who claims he supports the mission and wants to see it succeed

    What would be the correct thing to be angry about according to you? Because even if TIM had an actually good reason for withholding that information, I would still want to yell at him for pointlessly endangering the mission and lives.

    1. Shamus says:

      “As far as I can remember, ME1 never actually stated that those statues on Ilos are what Protheans looked like.”

      Right, but the slendermen were also in the visions. Sure, they COULD be something else. Maybe it’s characters from their favorite TV show? But that’s not what the first game led you to believe, and the change is jarring. And never addressed. And makes the “Collectors are Protheans” reveal even more ill-fitting.

      “I'm not sure I understand where you're going here. I think it's fairly reasonable to be pissed off then your superior (*) intentionally withholds information critical to you succeeding and, more importantly, surviving.”

      I structured this specifically to deflect people trying to defend TIM with “But officers withhold information from field operatives all the time!”

      “What would be the correct thing to be angry about according to you? Because even if TIM had an actually good reason for withholding that information, I would still want to yell at him for pointlessly endangering the mission and lives.”

      From the article:

      The problem with TIM's plan isn't the lie of omission, it's that it's stupid and creates needless risk of irreplaceable mission resources. If he had a smart plan that required withholding information from Shepard, that would be fine.

      Incorrect: “How dare you not always give me all the information!”

      Correct: “Your plan was stupid.”

      1. Chris says:

        I could never make out any specific details in the visions. It just looked like a bunch of pictures of spaghetti, raw hamburger, and dentures to me.

        1. guy says:

          Found a high-quality upload. At 0:04, you can see a squid-head.

          The official final explaination is apparently that the Protheans were a warmongering, imperialistic culture that absorbed multiple species instead of a mostly peaceful culture consisting of the only species that happened to achieve space travel that cycle. That only raises more questions!

          1. INH5 says:

            Actually, the real explanation is that the Illos base was built on the ruins of a civilization from the cycle before the Protheans known as the Inuusanon, so the statues were presumably built by the Inuusanon instead of the Protheans.

            That still doesn’t explain the visions, but it’s not hard to think of potential explanations. For example, Vigil did say that the message was intended for other Protheans, so maybe the intended message was, “the things that wiped us out also wiped out the Inuusanon 50,000 years ago, and they’re going to come back in another 50,000 years!”

          2. Chris says:

            Ah, I see it now. Being able to pause makes a big difference.

            Upon seeing that clip again, it seems pretty clear that the Reapers being partially organic was in the plan from the start.

            1. guy says:

              I don’t think so; it looks a lot more like the Husk process in action, which they were known to use in the first game. Also, Vigil knew the contents of the Beacon but did not understand Reaper motives, so it wouldn’t contain evidence they reproduced using captives.

        2. BenD says:

          Another vote for ‘the visions were unintelligible nonsense’ from me. That said, I did interpret the creatures in the ruins as Prothean (or representationally Prothean anyway).

      2. Raygereio says:

        Right, but the slendermen were also in the visions.

        We’re going to have to agree to disagree here. I’ve gone over the vision guy linked above several times and those flashes of slender figures don’t look like the Ilos statues to me. They don’t look like anything to me really, just “vague humanoid shape”.

        The problem with TIM's plan isn't the lie of omission, it's that it's stupid and creates needless risk of irreplaceable mission resources. If he had a smart plan that required withholding information from Shepard, that would be fine.

        I guess I’m a bit baffled that there’s a possibility that you would have been okay with it.
        I can’t think of a reason that would be good enough for me to make up for TIM risking irreplaceable mission resources and the success of the mission.

        1. Shamus says:

          Screenshots in this post show what I’m talking about:

          In any case, it’s a matter of the writer understanding the expectations of the audience. “OMG! THESE ARE PROTHEAN RUINS! LOOKIT THESE STATUES!” Obviously most players will assume the statues are the Protheans, because that’s how statues work on Earth. The writer has put expectations in the minds of the audience. And then later they just drop that image for something else without comment. Sure, it’s POSSIBLE. But when you’re trying to pull off a plot twist you want the New Idea to click into place, not feel like this ill-fitting retcon / ass-pull. Some basic exposition, lampshading, or foreshadowing would make this scene work so much better.

          “I guess I'm a bit baffled that there's a possibility that you would have been okay with it.”

          I’m just trying to allow for the possibility so I don’t get picked apart by people citing real-world examples where compartmentalization of information was good.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            *Looks at the screenshots in the linked post*

            OMG!I see it now!The same blinding yellow lens flare as on the collector ship seen in this post!Definite proof that collectors are protheans!

            1. BenD says:

              In all seriousness, this screen shot was the first time I saw anything more than ‘generic destruction’ in the visions. They were so fast, chaotic, and blurry in ME1 that I developed a habit of tuning out when they happened. I certainly couldn’t resolve meaning from them, so they were just unwanted noise in my brain.

              So thank you, Shamus, for the screen shot, is what I’m saying.

            2. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

              I think this proves that Virmire was an inside job.

              1. Supahewok says:

                Burning eezo can’t melt reaper tech!

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            What gives me pause personally is that the only reason I can think of to go all insect on Collectors was to prevent people figuring out the connection too early. The “slendermen” would make an excellent base for creepy enemies and even if the similarity was somewhat vague it could be explained by the statues being inexact or following an artistic trend. For that matter when we meet Javik the overhaul from Protheans to Collectors appears to have been rather severe as well.

      3. Jsor says:

        This might be one of those “trusting the writers” disconnects. I had assumed that the Collectors were heavily genetically modified by the Reapers like the Keepers which explained their different appearance.

        (I’ve never played ME3 or seen the Prothean companion, so I have no idea if this ended up being a total retcon)

  21. paercebal says:

    About the dead reaper…

    A friend and I are working on a tabletop RPG campaign spaning from pre-ME1 to ME3, as alternatives to Shepard. And ME2 is in the way. In fact, the Collectors are in the way, so my feeling right now is to ditch them as major antagonists (after all, they’re just four-eyed husks).

    Now, the dead reaper: Imagine the dead reaper was given by Sovereign to the Heretic geth to build their own ultimate geth runtimes housing spaceship? What Shepard finds inside are not Cerberus morons. But geth, most of them trying to integrate themselves in the reaper systems, trying to fit in somewhere they don’t really belong.

    So, instead of destroying/reprogramming the Heretic geth in some random and forgettable starbase, why not do it inside a dead reaper?

    It solves a lot of problems:
    1 – Shepard learned it from Legion, not TIM
    2 – The dead reaper is actually awakening, so there’s no time to call for Citadel witnesses (“hey! look! another reaper!”)
    3 – The random station disappears, to be replaced by something actually cool

    While the “reprogramming vs. killing” choice is cool, it could be reworked as Shepard trying to convince the geth their integration with reaper technology is wrong: After all, all those geth runtimes running on reaper memory and processors are getting… different from the others, aren’t they? Is “geth husk” an actual thing? Are the Heretic geth being indoctrinated without them realizing it?

    Should Shepard convince the Heretics, they join back with the geth (and the reaper would fall to its destruction). Should Shepard fail, then the only solution would be to destroy the reaper with the runtimes inside.

    1. Jakale says:

      So this would be a case of the Geth incidentally repairing and reviving the dead reaper with their own bodies and systems?

      Are you also including the bits where EDI is nabbing info from the reaper? Could be fun to play with the paranoia of “If pure technological beings like the Geth could be maybe/maybe not indoctrinated, is our AI compromised?”

  22. Mike S. says:

    And then we come across a weapon on the ground and we get a popup asking what weapon class we want to permanently unlock for Shepard. Just.. what? Here? In the middle of a mission? Shepard suddenly unlocks a new weapon? Shouldn't this happen on one of the many upgrade menus in the Normandy? Why is this choice here?

    Presumably for the same reason that in the previous game we were standing around on Luna after shooting an AI in the databanks and suddenly had to choose a specialization class right now, can’t proceed without doing so, with only the vaguest idea what either really did.

    (Better: it happened at the end of that mission rather than in the middle. Worse: it’s pretty obvious what the weapon options do, but whether you want to be a Bastion or Nemesis requires more guesswork or a quick check of the wiki.)

    1. Andrew says:

      Huh, I didn’t realise the specialisation was unlocked by that mission – I figured it was unlocked by levelling up to a specific level, but the wiki tells me you’re right.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        The good thing about that seemingly optional mission doing that is that most players (probably) did it. And therefore are interested when they realize that that insane AI was EDI waking up into being sentient.

  23. swenson says:

    Then we reach the main chamber and we see the millions of pods on the wall. One of your companions says something like, “They couldn't fill these pods, even if they hit every colony in the Terminus Systems. They're going after Earth!”

    Fun fact for ya, I recall somebody did the math back in the day, based on some rough estimates of the Collector ship’s size and the size of the pods compared to Shepard et al., and there’s no possible way you could fit billions of pods in there. Millions, yes, but not billions. People just take up too much space. There is no way the Collector ship could actually have been expecting to harvest Earth itself.

    Nitpicky? Sure, but amusing. :D

    1. guy says:

      Well, they did say millions in dialogue, and the implication wasn’t that they were necessarily going to grab everyone on Earth (certainly not in a single trip) but that since nearly all humans live on Earth it’s the only place they could plausibly target to fill all those pods.

  24. Disc says:

    “I have to assume there's a finite supply of human scientists who are desperate enough to work for Cerberus.”

    I’m pretty sure it’s just TIM’s super power to be able to find all the gullible but gifted people in the galaxy and making them offers they can’t refuse even when they reasonably could. If they don’t exist, he relies on his power of belief to eventually make them manifest. Which I think is his whole MO regarding to Cerberus. If he believes there’s even a slight chance of success, he’ll go for it. If it goes wrong, well, don’t mean nothing, right?. If he turns out to be right, it’s all the justification he needs, no matter how insane the plan actually was.

  25. Timothy Coish says:

    Quick rewrite of this mission I did for fun:

    Cerberus, through a combination of caring, industriousness, science, and luck find a dead/damaged reaper.

    New version:
    Only instead of being idiots who send in presumably talented scientists to be indoctrinated instead send a team to orbit the station and study it from the outside. Then they send in a bunch of armed robots to scout out the location and provide feedback to the team. All goes well and they’re getting some good data.

    Unfortunately for them they start losing contact with the robots. Eventually, most disturbingly, the science team that never even boarded the Reaper starts showing signs of mental deterioration and indoctrination.

    TIM is desperate now, and asks Shepard to personally explore the reaper. He’s aware of the danger, but they took precautions and now they’re forced to expose Shepard temporarily to harm.


    First of all, this works really well from a gameplay standpoint, since you can end up fighting husks as well as whatever synthetic enemies you would like.

    More importantly this new version establishes a few things:
    1) The reapers are an enourmous threat. This 37 million year old beast was able to indoctrinate the synthetics and even organics “safely” away from it.
    2) Cerberus is talented and pragmatic. They believed it to be a dead reaper, but they took precautions anyway. Even doing that, the Reapers are so powerful that they forced Cerberus into a bad situation.

    If you want, maybe change some things up.
    1)Maybe the scientists are fine and talk to the player on the orbiting base, and they just needed ground troops.
    2)If you want Cerberus to be evil but not stupid then maybe they threw an unarmed prisoner into the Reaper to study the effects of indoctrination. You could even have them “immobilize” him by breaking his legs or something. Very evil, but also potentially very useful. (Kind of ruined by having everyone understand indoctrination anyway)
    3)Great opportunity for a major plot point change. Imagine if the scientists put some technology on Shepard to study indoctrination. Turns out they have a few good leads, and due to Cerberus brilliance they think they might understand the physical cause of indoctrination.

    Shamus argued that this is the best written ME2 mission, and I’m not disagreeing with that. Still, it’s pretty easy both to tear apart this mission, as well as improve upon it. This comment took me about 10 minutes to think up and write.

  26. Neko says:

    This was a nice mission. Doesn’t redeem ME2 for me, but I agree with your sentiments about it. It would have been really nice to follow the “even the corpse of a reaper drives people insane” idea further.

  27. Tuck says:

    Apropos of nothing, can you change your background again please? The asymmetry of this one makes it hard for me to concentrate on reading, especially when it doesn’t scroll. :( And I can’t really see what it’s a picture of to make up for that, because the blog area covers the focus of the picture!

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Depending on your browser, you should be able to Right-Click -> View Background Image.

      (It’s the Citadel Presidium from Mass Effect, by the way.)

  28. Zekiel says:

    The Reaper mission reminds me of one of the most annoying missed opportunities in the series – that not once do Bioware ever properly use make use of the excellent possibilities that “indoctrination slowly messing with your head” should have. It is perfect opportunity to do some interesting character dialogue as squadmates experience mental degredation or hallucinations – you could do some really interesting things with how different characters react to low-level indoctrination (akin to the reactions of your companions to the Fade dreams in Dragon Age Origins). But no. Neither Shepard nor any of his squadmates ever experiences any indoctrination effects at all, even with all their exposure to Reapers and Reaper tech. Bleagh.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      In ME3 they originally planned to have Shepard be indoctrinated, but they cut that idea part way through. My personal theory: that change is where Indoctrination Theory comes from, the writers cut the idea but didn’t pull all the clues out of the script, leading people to still reach the indoctrination conclusion.

  29. Tonich says:

    You know what you’re doing, Shamus? You’re RUINING my favourite source of space adventure! Now I won’t be able to enjoy this game as much as I used to. You evil, evil person… *sob* I think… I think I love you. :)

    Seriously though, I was dissatisfied with the plot of ME2 quite a bit, but I was willing to turn a blind eye towards it because of the cast, and as long as it still felt like a genuine space adventure. But now I just see how atrociously incompetent the writing was…
    Actually, I can’t even imagine a writer being that bad without either being a total amateur to writing or doing it all on purpose. It’s like with Cerberus: either they’re inexplicably dumb, or really evil, and I can’t decide what of the two is worse. The main story really feels more like the result of “design by committee”, done in ten minutes before deadline. And here I can only think of one possible explanation (well, actually two – the other being about hiring a random guy who didn’t feel like putting in any effort to do the job, which sounds rather unlikely), and it leans towards the “evil publisher” idea. Like, EA asking BioWare to provide them with a plot for the second game RIGHT AWAY.

    “Guys, we want you to start working on the sequel to that space opera of yours, but the execs want to know it has potential. So give us at least a couple of ideas for how the plot goes, just for the sake of showing them… What? Your main writer’s on a sick leave today? Come on guys, surely you can come up with something, you’re a studio famed for their stories!” Then the draft done by a handful of studio employees goes away to the execs, and suddenly becomes The Official Plot for Mass Effect 2.
    “No, you can’t change it any more. Oh, but you can work on everything else in the meantime – side missions, character arks, stuff like that. Just make sure it fits in with the plot”.

    I know it’s lame to blame publishers for every misstep, but I just can’t think of anything else that would explain the results we have. It even explains the need for Shepard’s death in the beginning.
    “We need some reason for giving players the option to re-design their protagonist for the second game”.
    “Well, we could let Shepard die heroically and replace him with a new character. We’ll start the game with a strong, emotional scene this way”.
    “What? But people love Shepard! Plus, we’ve already arranged for his voice actors to reprise their role. That stuff about a heroic death sounds cool though. Let him die and then get resurrected. This way we’ll both get those emotions out AND not split the fanbase. Sounds good enough for me”.
    But then again, it does not explain those stupid pieces of dialogue… so I guess my train of thought stops here. :)

    Anyway, I really, honestly, truthfully love this series, and your writing in general. Can’t wait for the next entry!

    Your Russian fan,

    P.S. Somehow my initial coment was marked as spam, so I’ll try one more time. Probably has to do with the fact I have to re-route my IP to access your site – that or your spam filter is racist and hates Russians. :)

  30. arron says:

    I’m surprised that there isn’t a 3D adventure that takes the mickey out all the inconsistencies and egregious nonsense in the Mass Effect universe and mixes in the sort of quirky humour that you find in Kingdom of Loathing. With crafting for items that are common adventure game tropes – like Plot Armour and Evil in a Can.

    Shamus’s critical articles on Mass Effect could prove very useful source material for this production.

  31. Couscous says:

    Looking up the dead Reaper on the Mass Effect wiki led me to this.

    “Klendagon’s artwork, visible from Presrop’s surface, is actually a real-life depiction of Mars. The ‘Great Rift Valley’ “” the massive trench dug into Klendagon from the mass accelerator round “” is actually the Valles Marineris. The same artwork is used for Chohe’s moon.

    When the player decides to scan the planet in Mass Effect 2, a default planet texture is used so the Great Rift Valley cannot be seen.”

    Good old effort.

  32. newdarkcloud says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for some time, and if I had to guess what happened with Mass Effect 2, I would guess that it simply had to do with limited time/budget.

    Again, I know nothing of the inner workings of Bioware and I can only speculate. What I picture when I see this game is a vision of the final Suicide Mission as the primary focus. That’s what they honed in on for the duration of the project, and that’s what came first in the pecking order.

    Of course, a Suicide Mission where anyone and everyone can die doesn’t matter if you don’t have interesting companions to join you for it, so the next area of focus was on characters and their recruitment/loyalty missions. These companions were created based on what roles they may serve on a Suicide Mission and what kind of Ocean’s Eleven-style expertise they could bring. That’s why each member of the team seems to serve a archetypal role, like “hacker”, “scientist”, “solider”, “assassin”, and so forth.

    My theory is that these story missions, which are the whole setup behind the Suicide Mission, were at the bottom of the priority Totem Pole. They just weren’t as important as the characters and the Suicide Mission itself, so they got cobbled together at the last minute due to budget and time constraints.

    Remember, it wasn’t just that the Bioware team had changed in terms of members (because many of their team went to work on The Old Republic). They also were purchased by EA, a publisher with a known track record for producing games quickly, with small 2-year dev cycles.

    I may be wrong, but my distinct impression is that many of these criticisms would have been hammered out with some more time. I would suppose that Bioware had the rough idea for these missions planned out, but not enough time to get the details just right.

    But I’m not, nor have I ever been, a Bioware employee, so I don’t know for sure.

  33. Gruhunchously says:

    You know what my favorite thing about this sequence of events is? That when you get to the derelict Reaper, the IFF you need is conveniently just lying there on a table waiting for you to pick it up.

    And that suggests that the team TIM sent to the Reaper extracted it before you got there, which suggests that they already knew what to look for. And since TIM sent them there, and lost contact with them before he sent Shepard to the Collector Ship, it suggests that he ordered them to extract the IFF at some point before then as well.

    So TIM put Shepard in extreme peril by sending her into a trap that he knew about in order to confirm the importance of something that he had already had his science team identify and extract from a dead Reaper beforehand. And never told her anything about it until after the mission was over. What a dick.

    1. Shamus says:

      I totally missed this.

      That’s awesome / shameful.

      1. guy says:

        Granted, it makes sense to really want to confirm “This will prevent instant death at the start of a critical mission”

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          Yeah, but that explanation suggests that The Illusive Man is being careful and thoroughly exploring his options before risking the lives of his most valuable assets, which is grossly out of character :P.

          I think the whole thing makes more sense if you see him as the obsessive fan/possessive boyfriend type, so enthralled with this bloody icon of humanity that he brought her back to life at great expense, and is now throwing his weight around, trying to test the limits on what he can order her to do and seeing how she’ll respond. If she dies, it’s a damn shame, but there’s always Kai Leng.

        2. Ninety-Three says:

          Now that I think about the IFF, it really, really shouldn’t work, because of the incredible age of the Reaper it comes from.

          1: The Reaper in this mission gets killed.
          2: The other Reapers finish their Reaping for that cycle, go back into empty space and notice “Hey, where’s Steve?”
          3: 36 million years pass. The Reapers say to each other “Haven’t seen Steve in a few epochs. So he’s definitely dead then.”
          4: Another million years pass. One Reaper says”Hey, didn’t Steve have our wifi password on him? Are we sure that’s safe?” and the other responds “Eh, I can’t be bothered to log in to the router to change it, we’ll probably be fine.”
          5: Shepard goes through the pockets of Steve the Reaper and pulls out one 37 million year-old still-working password.

          Hell, in 37 million years the Reapers should have changed their password a few times just out of good security practice, never mind that they knew they had lost one of their own, and that sentients could pull the password out of their corpses.

          You could maybe argue that Shep downloaded an updated version of the password from the Collector trap, but that just makes their shoddy security even more inexcusable because they knew Shep had gotten into their data, so their first course of action should’ve been changing passwords.

          1. guy says:

            I can accept the Reapers failing to change their security codes out of hubris. Also, it’s communicating with a Mass Relay, and updating the codes on those might be a pain. ME3 does have a conversation indicating that the Reapers themselves have changed their IFF code, though it’s not clear if they did that a long time ago and just never updated the Relay network or if they changed them after you used them.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I was under the impression that the so called “IFF” was something to make the Omega Relay enter into “pinpoint precision” mode rather than an actual authentication code? So in ME2 it’s not so much changing your password from 123456 to 654321 but rather something like changing the shape of bolts that hold down the hatch? I’m willing to believe that the “changed the codes” only happened during ME3.

            And even putting that aside this requires for someone to
            1) Assuming that it survived (which is the case) locate Steve (something that 740 galaxy spanning species failed to do, and the other Reapers themselves might not have been able to achieve, which is one possible explanation why they left it just floating there)
            2) Assuming the specific part of Steve containing or responsible for the IFF is not destroyed recovering that specifically
            3) Connect the device from a mysterious derelict with the Omega Relay
            4) Go through either prepared specifically for or at least enough to handle both the conditions and the hostiles on the other side
            Bearing all this in mind I can sort of accept that Reapers would see this as a non-issue, plus it’s a really minor thing compared to all the other nonsense already going on in the story.

            1. Ninety-Three says:

              IFF stands for Identification Friend (or) Foe, so whatever it is, it’s presumably about broadcasting an “I am a Reaper, give me access” signal. Such a signal would obviously have to be encrypted to prevent any old schmuck from sending it, so we’re back to the password problem. There’s a special signal you transmit, and no matter what the signal’s content is, it’s really just a password, so they should’ve changed it.

              1. Mike S. says:

                There is nothing more plausible to me than persistent bad information security. I’d also believe:

                The Leviathans hard-coded a password into the Reaper IFF when they built the first one. (And that it’s probably the Leviathan equivalent of “p@55w0rd”.)

                There’s a small tag on each relay that displays the password. (“Seriously, who can read Old High Leviathanese besides us these days?”)

                There’s one Reaper who’s been banging on about updating the security for half a billion years, with the rest pointing out that it’s a lot of trouble and they’ve never had any problems so far.

                The same Reaper has reported a half dozen backdoors into the network and promulgated fixes for each. None of them has been implemented in the production system.

              2. guy says:

                Well, there’s a lot of ways it could work. Note that I’m not sure they ever did actually change the Relay passwords; I think they’d need to control the Citadel to do it across the network as a whole. EDI just says that the Reapers themselves aren’t fooled by the IFF code.


                1)It’s an IFF code and they could and should change it all the time but don’t.
                2)It’s an IFF code, but the Relay system has funky security permissions and it would be very difficult to change it. Note that the plot of the first game centers on the fact that they can only control the Relay network by instructing the Keepers to do it and can only do that by making the Citadel tell them to due to [nebulous changes over countless cycles], so they might have to rebuild the system from scratch to get admin privileges. The Protheans managed to modify the Citadel coding in some manner, but then again all they did with that is keep the Keepers from reacting to Sovereign’s signal, which could have been accomplished any number of ways.
                3)The signal uses the IFF system, but the extra precision mode is not triggered by the IFF itself, it’s just loaded into the same hardware. The control protocols could be unencrypted.

                It’s also fairly plausible that no one has ever previously managed to exploit this; in addition to the Indoctrination field of even dead Reapers making study difficult, the IFF itself is apparently loaded with an AI virus.

                1. Alexander The 1st says:

                  Re: 2.) Note that the plot of the first game centers on the fact that they can only control the Relay network by instructing the Keepers to do it and can only do that by making the Citadel tell them to due to [nebulous changes over countless cycles], so they might have to rebuild the system from scratch to get admin privileges.

                  But the Reapers had millions of years to rebuild it bit by bit, and they only had to *really* replace *one* Relay.

                  Glad to know I’m not the worst at procrastinating.

      2. Some Unregistered Punk says:

        I’d bet you missed this because finding quest items just lying about the place is standard throughout the game industry.

  34. Dilandau3000 says:

    Wow, a reaper killed by a weapon so powerful it took a sizable chunk out of a planet? Obviously this might be a useful lead on how to defeat the Reapers! No? We’re going to go with a barely-foreshadowed (only one line in Lair of the Shadow Broker) Prothean Device that no one knows what it does but we’ll spend countless resources building because no one can come up with an actual plan?

    And Liara finds the plans for this device on Mars, of all places. Not in the giant caches of prothean data that the asari have been keeping secret for millennia, as revealed in the same game, but in what previously was assumed to be just a small data cache on Mars. After all, it makes sense that the protheans would leave this information in the system of a species so primitive that if it hadn’t been for the Citadel being sabotaged they wouldn’t even have discovered space travel before this cycle’s reaping, rather than give it to the one species they had specifically been grooming in preparation of the next cycle.

    Actually, that could’ve worked. If the asari had known about the Crucible all along. If the council’s apparent disbelief in the Reapers was just a ruse, them trying to avoid galactic panic while in secret they were already constructing the Crucible after Sovereign’s attack, believing they could get it finished before the Reaper invasion. It makes their attitude towards Shepard in ME2 much more understandable, because Shepard isn’t trying to desperately alert them of a huge threat, but someone trying to cause a panic by revealing that threat. We still need a good reason for them not to tell Shepard about it; maybe because they don’t trust the resurrected Shepard. Maybe because they’re just that secretive (not hard to believe, really).

    Liara, as the Shadow Broker, uncovering this Council plan and forcing them to make it public and let the Alliance help also makes much more sense than her suddenly finding completely new information in the Mars archives that no one else found despite decades of study (but the previous Shadow Broker somehow already had hints of its existence). Even if what we got did at least remember that Liara was supposed to be a prothean expert.

  35. Jaq says:

    I know you don’t want to harp on writers, but you mentioned that the derelict reaper mission felt like it was written by someone not on board with ME2.

    Legion (and his recruitment) was written by Chris L’Etoile, one of the original writers who was the first to leave, rather publicly, with a heavy dose of unhappiness with the direction of the series. He was also the most heavily involved in the planetary descriptions that were so scienc-y in ME1.

    So yeah, it was definitely written by someone writing more in the ME1 style than the ME2 style, and by someone who left before this game was even completed.

  36. Submariner says:

    One of the things that really broke immersion for me about the disabled Collector ship mission was the way EDI suddenly had control of the ship (to escape the Collectors) after having stated that she was shackled and couldn’t control the ship for the entire preceding game. Then when Joker had to unshackle EDI later to purge the Collectors, I was struck by it again. “But she already *can control the ship. Remember the disabled Collector ship mission??!?”

  37. Bronn says:

    The Collectors plan is to kill Shepard, I think? But at other points they seem to want Shepard alive.

    Here’s the thing: This mission is an obvious trap. The player seems it coming. Why can’t they have Shepard do something just slightly clever in advance of this trap to explain how she survives? The ONLY thing the Collectors needed to do to prevent Shepard from escaping is to blow up the undefended shuttle. They don’t do that because they’re stupid. Shepard is also stupid because he doesn’t do anything to prevent the shuttle from being destroyed.

    Fix both problems: By now the player has a minimum of six characters, and maybe as many as 12. Have Shepard anticipate a trap, bring extra characters along, and defend the shuttle. Then the collector can seem KINDA clever by having them attack the shuttle, and you have a ticking clock for getting back to the shuttle before your defense team is overwhelmed. It would only change the story a tiny bit and wouldn’t affect the mechanics at all, if the designers didn’t want to.

  38. Roger says:

    Interestingly, ‘a galaxy inhabited by morons’ is pretty much the vibe I got from ME2 and the majority of ME3. Which is why the ending actually made (almost) complete sense to me.

  39. Smehur says:

    The description for how the Reaper was found is pretty iffy. As INH5 pointed out in the last entry:

    I don’t have any justifications for the dead Reaper. There’s really no reason for it to exist, especially given that the stated method of finding it (tracing the path from a crater that an enormous mass driver left on a planet) wouldn’t work because planets move and rotate. As do stars. To do that, you would have to figure out the time of impact to the second, then figure out how the galaxy’s stars were arranged 37 million years ago. I’m pretty sure that both of impossible no matter what kind of advanced computers you have.

    It’s true that the science behind this isn’t very science-y.

    Planets move and rotate in an extremely predictable way and their orbits typically don’t change on timescales much longer than 37 million years. The motion of the host star has nothing to do with locating the wreck relative to the planet as both the wreck and the planet move together with the star (it makes no difference for their relative positions and motions whether the star moves or not). But even if this did matter, stars also move in predictable ways and you don’t have to know how every star in the Galaxy moves in order to track one specific star. You can reconstruct the motion of a star millions of years back with present day astronomy, no problem.

    In fact, the only thing that makes this scenario out of reach for present day astronomy is that it’s a brown dwarf and not a regular star. Brown dwarfs aren’t bright enough for measurements you’d need for this (position and radial velocity). But with telescopes powerful enough (not hard to imagine happening within a few decades, let alone centuries from now even without the influx of advanced alien technologies) it’d be entirely plausible. If the wreck is large enough you could even establish its presence and orbit from Earth (though you’d probably think it’s a rock).

    All this ignores the ability to actually travel there, which you can, and do, in Mass Effect.

    This setup could’ve easily come as a suggestion from a professional astronomer. It might not sound science-y enough because life is often stranger than fiction. Sadly, stellar kinematics (and apparently Kepler’s laws too) don’t have the glamor of black holes, supernovae, dark matter and other popular stuff.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes, planets move and rotate in an extremely predictable way and their orbits typically don’t change on timescales much longer than 37 million years.

      However, this also requires impossibly precise timing.

      Let’s say I ask an astronomer what the tip of the Eiffel Tower was pointed at on January 1st, 1970 at exactly 12:00am. What part of the sky? I agree that you can work that out.

      But what if I ask you “Where was the tip of the Eiffel Tower pointed in the early fifth century”? (Let’s just assume the tower is a timeless constant.) There’s no answer to that question. If you want to trace the line of the tower to the surface of a particular planet in another star system, then you need to know the exact moment in time of the projection, out to many decimal places. There simply isn’t any way to look at a 37 million year old crater and know when it was created, down to the microsecond.

  40. Kilroy says:

    Mmm… not too sure that the criticism of your allies extrapolating that the Collectors want to have Earth-based shenanigans is necessarily valid. Seems like a logical enough step granting the size of the containment facilities, especially since they want, specifically, humans. After all, colonies have been so small that it’s unfeasible that they’d be able to fill up that space in any reasonable amount of time with just colonies (heck, if you want to get a little meta, we’ve only met one guy from a colony even). That leaves places in Council Space to consider, and leaving Earth, the place with the largest possible number of humans and the best human-to-alien ratio, as the best answer. Numerical logic like that is machine logic at its heart.

    Now I suppose that you could also state that “there’s nothing to indicate that the Collectors intend to fill all those pods”. But now we’re making assumptions to give fault. There’s no reason to make that many pods if you don’t intend to use them all, or even half of them. Half would be enough to make the same point. To disregard the intent is to ascribe lack of logic to the Collectors that they, for once, don’t actually have.

    A similar analogy would be if you were shopping with your buddies Garrus and Tali for PVC piping because your water line broke and you need a lot of it because it’s a big break.

    Garrus: “Spirits, Shepard! We’re going to need a ton of piping for this job!”
    Tali: “The only solution would be Home Depot!”

    If you were to tell your two buddies that there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that there’s vast amounts of PVC piping at a place that sells materials for construction, they’d most likely be terribly confused as to why you don’t buy their reasonable explanation.

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