Mass Effect 3 Mid Game Post

Ok, I’m back. In the past month, I played until the end of my WoW subscription.

Not much to talk about there. I made it to Northrend and about level 70 before running out of time. Will have to go back and play again once I can commit to it so I can actually experience Legion (and Warlords of Dreanor for that matter, since I’ve never played that either). I do find that I like the “run around while listening to music/podcasts” aspect of the game the best, which is a little sad since the main reason I got WoW was because Ed kept saying how much he missed playing games with me. In the end, all I wanted to do was play by myself and listen to stuff. Maybe we’ll look into a different game to play together.

Also in the past the month, I posted pictures of my “forced” holidays. I feel like the world needs more harmless sharing of nature photos. (Not to be confused with au naturel photos which are a completely different matter.) Am always looking for recommendations. The travel and real life bloggers I follow either patter out or turn into advertisements for their “how to work from home” books and/or their sponsors. (Follow My Legs and the Giant Spoon! I have neither books to sell nor sponsors to promote!)

On Mass Effect 3

I’ve played up to Priority: Rannoch now. I supposed I should have good manners and put in a spoiler cut after the random screenshot. 

I freaking LOVE this poster. I tried to find a real life version (or even a windows wallpaper). No luck. Am bummed.

I love the evolution of Shepard from competent person at the right (wrong?) place at the right (wrong?) time in Mass Effect to badass (sometimes to the point of WTF, even as paragon) Shepard in Mass Effect 2 to harrowed “I’ve just seen Earth destroyed and I’m grasping at straws” Shepard in Mass Effect 3. It doesn’t resonate as strongly with me as it did 5 years ago. I’m at a way easier place in my life these days after all, but I still love to watch my Shep reaching for strength she didn’t know she had.

Shepard and (part of) her Geth Prime army (courtesy of Expanded Galaxy Mod). Two things: 1) This Shepard is pretty much identical my original Shep, which makes me happy. But not using Blood Dragon Armor this time. Cool look, bad stats. 2) The lighting in the game sucks! Took me forever to get a decent pose.

About the storyline, I often wonder if I should claim that Shamus Young ruined Mass Effect for me. Thing is, I always could see cracks in the game, just not as clearly and confidently as him, and for me, Mass Effect was all about Shepard with enough good background content that it was easy to forgive and forget or shrug off nonsensical stuff as “video game logic”.

Even today, I can’t say it ruins my experience, but I am saddened at what feels like missed opportunities.

The council, for starters, was handled with rough gloves in ME3. For comparison, in ME, you want to slap them, but you get where they’re coming from. The frustration therefore adds to the experience. In ME2, they leave you scratching your head but you only have one interaction with them so whatever. In ME3, your initial meeting consists of you begging for help but their own defenses are already stretched too thin. Shepard and Udina are understandably upset, but is “blind” really the appropriate insult? This is the first, and possibly the only, time since some point in the first game where the council isn’t “blind”. They do get real stupid, real fast though. The asari councillor refuses to attend a war summit with the other major galactic forces because…some unclear reason. The Primarch says something about “bad blood with the krogan” which makes no sense since out of all the pre-human council species, asari have the least bad blood with the krogan. They’re also supposed to be the most diplomacy-first so world lore would suggest they would be the ones pushing for a summit and krogan involvement. There is speculation online of them worrying about secrets getting out, which would have been cool if seeds of suspicion had been planted here. Missed opportunity! I like that the asari are resistant to cooperating, but having a reason would make for a better story. If that reason was not meant to be revealed until later on, Shepard and co should have been confused and suspicious. Then you get the Dalatress. You can understand her reluctance plus the email she sends after Tuchanka explains her thought process very well, but her stance of “sabotage the genophage or I won’t help you” before Tuchanka translates to “if you don’t sabotage the genophage, I’m just going to let my people be exterminated”. They REALLY couldn’t have found a better way to make her take a stand? Even something as outlandish as a past fling with Saren leaving her a little bit indoctrinated would have made more sense and would have provided a reason for Cerberus to have known about the ultra secret facility on Sur’Kesh and its ultra secret test subject (more on this later).

I like the resistance to cooperate from other species, I really do. Without it, we’d have a boring story. It’s just that it wouldn’t have taken much to make resisting leaders feel more like the scared politicians in denial the game keeps talking about. In one sweep (a matter of hours?), the Reapers exterminated the batarians, took out a few asari colonies and have the humans and turians locked down. There are a lot of dumb things a scared politician would do, but the time for denial is long past. Last cycle (remember, Vigil tells you all about the Protean extinction), the Reapers needed data from the Citadel to track down colonies and possibly homeworlds (I suppose Harbinger must have collected this data through the Collectors and sent it along to his buddies, but it would have been nice to get some info on where Harbinger was and how he operates), used indoctrination and manipulation as their major tactics and took centuries to harvest advanced organic life. It would be easy to be in denial of these Reapers until beyond the point of no return. However, this cycle, we get all-knowing Reapers who simultaneously take out three homeworlds and countless colonies (and soon a fourth homeworld) through sheer brute force. (EDI and Diana Allers mention the Reapers using manipulations but it seems kinda silly given how physically powerful and numerous the Reapers are this cycle). I can see them being in denial if a few colonies, the batarians that no one likes and the whiny humans were under fire, but the Turians? If the Turians are close to losing their militarized and highly defended planet, you don’t deny. You panic, you shit your pants, you do stuff you regret but you don’t deny.

Back to Cerberus, does anyone else find it irritating that they find out about all the big secrets at the same time (Sur’Kesh) or before (Tuchanka bomb) you? I don’t hate their presence per say, I’m happy to fight something other than husks, but why doesn’t the game tell you how they find out about these things? You don’t even get the satisfaction of Shep and co being confused or curious. It’s just accepted that Cerberus is as all knowing and it’s really, really annoying (*slaps keyboard*).

Further along the Cerberus and council trains of thoughts, I feel like Udina’s betrayal was another missed opportunity. I would have loved to see a defeated, broken Udina up against the wall begging Cerberus (who seems to have become the biggest force in the galaxy after the Reapers) for help. Instead, his betrayal kind of comes out of nowhere. He is miserable and cold if you visit him right before the coup and almost outright says that the Kaidan (or Ashley) promotion to spectre was for his personal gain, but it’s not the level of despair needed to organize a Cerberus take over. After all, things are actually looking up. The Turians are cooperating, the Krogan are excited about kicking Reaper ass, STG is on your side, Crucible construction is going unreasonably well and a bit of negotiation involving colony protection would have probably got the asari dispatching forces. I mean, I suppose once you catch him in action, he could have said something like “help came too late, the plan was already in motion” but we don’t even get that. In fact, the game isn’t even all that clear in telling you he’s responsible. You get a possibly fake recording and then he incriminates himself when you catch up with him. There’s so much that could have been done with that. Such a shame.

Playing with Mods

Before firing up Mass Effect 3, I went out and loaded up my game with mods. It was actually a little trickier than expected. I’ve modded WoW before but nothing else, and the only guides I could find were so complicated that if I had the knowledge to understand their lingo, I wouldn’t need a guide in the first place. But anyway, being a total mod newb, my mind is blown by how cool some of those mods are.

So far I’ve experienced Better Dreams and Expanded Galaxy Mod.

The former replaces those slow mo running through the forest dreams with flashes of memories similar to beacon flashes in Mass Effect 1. I find that the memories would have more impact if some of them lingered a little longer: they were flashing too fast for me to even recognize most of the time, much less feel, but it certainly beats the original dreams. Nobody, anywhere likes slow mo running. I feel like it should be used very, very sparingly in games but that’s just me. What do I know?

Expanded Galaxy Mod adds emails, quests (scanning or text based, obviously since they don’t have access to voice actors), Normandy customization, jokes and more, and manipulates the war assets to better reflect what is actually happening around you. It’s done very, very well (my special compliments to the writers – they totally nailed the character’s voices in the emails/dialogue transcripts IMO) and I actually have trouble distinguishing mod content from base game. Having access to the entire galaxy map right from the get go was a little overwhelming, but once you realize there’s not much to do in systems that haven’t been invaded yet, it’s fine.

And with that, I’m heading back to my game.

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2 Comments on “Mass Effect 3 Mid Game Post”

  1. Terry Says:

    If you’re looking for a game to play together, have you considered Divinity: Original Sin? It was designed for two people to go through it together. I know a couple who did that and they seemed to like it.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I think I’ve watched Ed play that before. (I went and checked Steam and yes, I have.) I was turned off by the Diablo look but now that I read the descriptions and reviews, it seems like a game that could grow on me. I had no idea it was designed for two people. Looks like a sequel is actually scheduled for release in less than two weeks, definitely an option for when I’m finally ready to tear myself away from Mass Effect. Thank you!

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