WAIT WAIT WAIT.
Mass Effect spoilers to follow. You have been warned.
Maintaining a progress blog on a game like Mass Effect sure isn’t easy. So many things happen in this space odyssey that it’s hard to choose what to focus on and what to let lie by the wayside. It’s not even that the main storyline progression is so intricate, since even though it is truly enough to fill many a blog, it’s the in-betweens that really get you. I find myself wanting to write about each conversation I’ve had with even the most insignificant crewmember, simply because the emotionality of that game is so engaging. Of course I would never burden you with reams of (to the outsider) boring dialogue, so that’s out of the question.
I’ll try to summarize this by only going into detail on major events. I should mention that an oversight was made in my last entry: Garrus Vakarian, a Turian Citadel Security (“C-Sec”) officer joined my group. He was part of the C-Sec investigation into Saren’s affairs after it was suspected that he was a traitor. Although no concrete evidence was found against Saren in the investigation, Vakarian still holds a strong conviction that his fellow Turian is dirty. He’s also an active member of my party (Ashley Williams being the third) and thus takes part in all major events.
Since officially becoming the first human Specter, Captain Anderson (Shepard’s former commanding officer) relinquished his ship (the Normandy) along with all of its crew to Shepard’s use. After further inquiry Anderson reveals that twenty years ago he was the first Specter candidate, but that Shepard’s current nemesis sabotaged him then as he is attempting to rid the galaxy of Shepard now. This instance perfectly demonstrates how Mass Effect caters to both those interested in gunning down some evil robots without much need for a reason and those interested in intricate storylines at the same time: for the former, all you need do is ignore the back story queues given; for the latter, you can get about as deep into any one character’s past as you’d like. Although I’ll admit that sometimes the game does bludgeon you with its clues that “hey, there’s something you should investigate here,” there’s so much to Mass Effect that I’m sure that even with its flagrant advertisement I’m sure to miss some juicy backstory here and there.As soon as the Normandy is put in your hands the game really opens up. Not only are all side quests now available (including those of the expansion pack, which are integrated seamlessly into the game itself), but several storyline locations open up with no structured order in which to approach them. This gives the player the option of doing what they want, when they want without any kind of linear progression. As it turned out my first stop was to a place called Noveria, the last rumored location of Saren’s second-in-command, Lady Benezia. Noveria is a barren, icy planet populated only by a private corporation that hosts science and weapons industry giants and allows them to test experimental technology without Alliance surveillance. Of course you can already see the recipe for disaster here in full swing, and soon enough Shepard learns of an “accident” on Peak 15 that has cut off all communication with the mysterious and isolated laboratory. Guess where Lady Benezia was last seen heading to?
After some relatively insignificant shenanigans at Noveria’s major hub, Shepard and his crew pile aboard the Mako, an all-terrain reconnaissance vehicle that is kept aboard the Normandy. This is where one of my major gripes with Mass Effect comes in: the driving levels. I really don’t like this for a few reasons:
A) The Mako handles like a half-dead fish.
B) It is so overpowered that everything you encounter becomes “free EXP.” It’s just a coincidence that everything you encounter happens to be huge and therefore worth a ton of experience. Hand-holding, anyone?
So after slogging my way through the blustery Noverian landscape I finally arrive at Peak 15. Things don’t look good from the outset with an ex-Mako’s charred hull still flickering just in front of the lab’s garage. At this point I’ve been blasting Geth the whole way up the mountainside with my Mako’s uber super-scoped ROFLcannon, so I’m not surprised to find more of the robotic beasties waiting inside. After lighting up a bunch of them with my shotgun however, a new enemy is introduced: a mysterious and savage alien species incapable of speech and intent on my (and everything else’s) destruction. At this point combat has mostly become Lift, Throw, Shotgun, not necessarily in that order, rinse and repeat. After further investimagation, we find out from the lab’s survivors that the evil little space bugs are called Rachni, and were once a tyrannical universe-spanning super species that was hunted to near extinction by the other denizens of the galaxy. I say near extinction because somehow or other Saren’s people got a hold of a Rachni egg that had been chillin’ (no pun intended) on a derelict space rig in the middle of nowhere for roughly two thousand years. Maintaining the suspension of disbelief was difficult as I was told that not only did this egg survive its long encounter with ridiculously cold temperatures, it also just happened to be a Rachni Queen, capable of revitalizing the entire race without much of a problem.Obviously Shepard could not allow this to happen. So I Lifted, Threw and Shotgunned my way to the very depths of the lab, only to find none other than Lady Benezia herself tending to the Rachni Queen (who is ginormous). After some boring pre-battle banter, Shepard gets it on with Benezia and her Commando Squad. Let me note here that I personally find this to be the most frustrating boss battle in the game. The whole thing takes place in a square-shaped arena with Benezia on a raised platform in the middle taking potshots at you. That would be fine and dandy if it weren’t for the commandos across from you and to your left or right that can all use biotics. This still doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that cover becomes absolutely useless as any schmuck in the room can just toss it aside like a dry leaf and if you are the sorry bastard unfortunate enough to get hit by one of the Commandos’ biotic abilities that you’re pretty much a goner, since the recovery time is so freaking epic. I’m talking Gears-of-War-2-got-smoke-grenaded-on-some stairs epic.
After the fight we are treated to some awkward voice-acting on behalf of Benezia who reveals that nothing she did is her fault ‘cause she was under Saren’s mind control. Yeah, sure Benezia; where should I go next? Oh, to this long forgotten mass relay? Okay cool. Wait, now you want to fight again? Well alright.
Queue second annoying battle with Benezia. Queue Benezia dying.
Now you’d think this particular chapter is over, but not quite. With Benezia dead, the curious Shepard inches closer to the caged Rachni Queen to get a better look at her beady little eyes. The Queen chooses this moment to reveal that she too has super awesome mind control powers over people that are mostly dead and revives one of Benezia’s Commandos to have a little chat with Shepard. The Queen speaks of her “children” (the other Rachni Shepard’s been laying waste to this whole time) and begs you to slay them all, for they “do not know how to sing…”
It’s a long story.
Anyway, she asks you to fry the lot of them. Sure thing, Queenie, anything else I can do for you? What’s that? Release your big-assed self to the galaxy to begin your species anew? And you say that you will sing songs of my greatness if I do this? Well, you’re only a galaxy-ravaging space monster, so sure. G’head.
Damn… I hope that doesn’t come back to bite me in Mass Effect 2.
Well, that was the end of the Noveria chapter and this is the end of this blog, since three pages ought to do it for ya’.
‘Till next time,