A write up about Mass Effect and other things

Seriously. If you are sick of talking about this, why did you click on my topic to begin with?

Because everyone is probably sick to death about talking about Mass Effect 3, I apologize. If you are sick of people talking about it, please press the back (<---) button on your browser and continue looking at the forums. I however, am not sick to death of talking about Mass Effect 3 because I feel like all of the major discussion surrounding it has been about one thing, namely the ending. Allow me to get that out of the way now: The ending of Mass Effect 3 is terrible, but the people getting themselves in a frothing rage about it are more terrible. Ok. Done. No more ending talk. Also, there are no real spoilers, so feel ok about that if you for some reason have yet to play it.

Instead, I will talk about the other parts of the game, namely the 20 hours that it took to get to that terrible ending. Because up to that ending, Mass Effect 3 does exactly what it should. It responds to what you did in the previous games in various ways, though unfortunately not really in gameplay-relevant ones, and is basically a giant fanservice parade, to the point where it strains the credibility of the plot. Since Bioware has inadvertently dug themselves into a hole by giving you the ability to kill off your Mass Effect 2 party members, all of them with the exceptions of Garrus and Tali (not coincidentally the only returning party members from the first game as well) appear at various points in the game, usually involving them doing something totally badass... only for them to give some sort of lame, half-hearted excuse as to why they can't cruise with you on your radical spaceship to fight the reapers. It's delicious candy for anyone who liked the last game, but that is how every serious sidequest goes down. Because seriously, who actually went out of their way to do most of the fetch quests in the citadel? Of course, even more insane is what happens when you let them die. While I'm sure most of you are anal-retentive about that kind of thing and are incapable of letting anyone die, I wasn't and I let Tali die in the collector base, which had an entirely different character do what I assume was ostensibly the same thing. Except for the part where you can't negotiate a peace between the Quarian and the Geth without her alive.

Otherwise, the game is basically what Mass Effect 2 was, but there are no hacking minigames (sure, I'm fine with that) and you can customize your weapons in a way that echoes the first game, but without the whole pesky “Incredibly poor inventory management” thing. That is also to say that it is a passable third person shooter, as long as you are willing to play it that way. For my part, I was using an imported Vanguard and thus basically used Charge+Nova for the entire game, to the point where the combat stopped even being remotely challenging and was basically a joke the entire time. I'm sure if I was playing on insanity or whatever I couldn't have abused it as I did, on Normal it does the job for literally everything. It's a pity too, as the weapon arsenal seems greatly expanded, something that I'm really only getting into with my forays into the multiplayer.

Speaking of that, the Multiplayer is functional and enjoyable, if only in the vacuum of me having not played a ton of Gears of War and other real Third Person Cover-based shooters. It's a pity that it also exposes one of the other ugly things about ME3, namely that there are only three types of enemies. Cerberus, Reapers and Geth, which all in all results in a little more than a dozen enemy types overall. The complete randomness of the progression seems flawed in some fairly serious ways. While I'm fine with a bit of randomness, the fact that it is all random makes it discouraging, as the chances of me getting a new race or weapon is somewhat less than I would desire. While I literally got sick of Modern Warfare 3 after like a day of playing, you can't deny that it works.

A reminder of where we came from

All these things being equal, I would like to close by saying that I went back and I played a few hours of Mass Effect 1 today. Holy shit. To say that it is a radically different game than the other two is perhaps something of an understatement. I can tell you already that one of the things I now, retrospectively, miss in Mass Effect 3 is the very distinct, very pronounced 70s/80s sci fi tone, equal mixes of Star Wars and Star Trek with a thick, thick film grain filter and lots of lens flare covering the entire thing. Sure, half of the supporting cast is not much more than living codex entries, substituting personalities for lore-porn, and sure, the gameplay is kind of ass. But it seems clear to me in remembering these things that, regardless of whatever else the series has become, the first game is very much of a clear vision, one that knows exactly what it wants to accomplish, even if I still think that hybridizing shooters and RPGs usually is not for the best. Something that the ending could have taken some tips from.

Other stuff (in bullet point form)

  • On anime: The last episode of Excel Saga is either brilliant or incredibly tasteless. I'm inclined to say both. The series itself? Sure. I admit to liking insanity, even at the cost of it being obnoxious on occasion. Best parts are the parts that don't actually involve Excel, which is more than one would think.
  • Also Ghost in the Shell is a goddamn bizarre movie. I wasn't expecting nearly as much hamfisted philosophical dialogue as I ended up encountering. Perhaps more hilariously, its spinoff series: Stand Alone Complex makes the main character attractive and ditches all the "What makes something human?" nonsense in favor of Cyber Cops doing awesome cyber cop things. Sure, I'm not entirely sure if it insults the grand ideas of the movie, but it's a lot more entertaining to watch.
  • Ranma 1/2 is kind of terrible in a way that I'm into. No wonder I've watched like 50 episodes.
  • On other video games: I will probably play Icewind Dale II and finish it up this month. Honest. I'm on chapter 5 of 6. It's not like I have a ton left to get through. That game still isn't as good as Icewind Dale.
  • League of Legends is still a thing. Now that I'm no longer in the same hall as the guys I play with however, I've been cutting back somewhat. Better the idiots I know than the ones I don't. Ziggs is a pretty good mid carry.
  • As I said, I literally got bored of Modern Warfare 3 after a day of playing. My reflexes simply aren't up to the task anymore and I feel like an old man being wrecked by the ScopeXXSnipeXX420s of the world. It's a bummer that Black Ops II actually looks kind of intriguing.
  • My Ironman playthrough of Wizardry 8 may be thwarted by me accidentally trapping myself in part of the level that I can't get out of. Which is a bummer since I was doing so well too.
  • The Legend of Grimrock is cool. I got stuck but am too stubborn to look at a guide... yet.
  • On real life: Having no close friends at home is a bummer.
  • Finding a job so your parents don't invent chores for you to do is a bummer
  • Cards Against Humanity is amazing. It's also horribly offensive.
  • I am probably going to bed now.
11 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by ArbitraryWater
Seriously. If you are sick of talking about this, why did you click on my topic to begin with?

Because everyone is probably sick to death about talking about Mass Effect 3, I apologize. If you are sick of people talking about it, please press the back (<---) button on your browser and continue looking at the forums. I however, am not sick to death of talking about Mass Effect 3 because I feel like all of the major discussion surrounding it has been about one thing, namely the ending. Allow me to get that out of the way now: The ending of Mass Effect 3 is terrible, but the people getting themselves in a frothing rage about it are more terrible. Ok. Done. No more ending talk. Also, there are no real spoilers, so feel ok about that if you for some reason have yet to play it.

Instead, I will talk about the other parts of the game, namely the 20 hours that it took to get to that terrible ending. Because up to that ending, Mass Effect 3 does exactly what it should. It responds to what you did in the previous games in various ways, though unfortunately not really in gameplay-relevant ones, and is basically a giant fanservice parade, to the point where it strains the credibility of the plot. Since Bioware has inadvertently dug themselves into a hole by giving you the ability to kill off your Mass Effect 2 party members, all of them with the exceptions of Garrus and Tali (not coincidentally the only returning party members from the first game as well) appear at various points in the game, usually involving them doing something totally badass... only for them to give some sort of lame, half-hearted excuse as to why they can't cruise with you on your radical spaceship to fight the reapers. It's delicious candy for anyone who liked the last game, but that is how every serious sidequest goes down. Because seriously, who actually went out of their way to do most of the fetch quests in the citadel? Of course, even more insane is what happens when you let them die. While I'm sure most of you are anal-retentive about that kind of thing and are incapable of letting anyone die, I wasn't and I let Tali die in the collector base, which had an entirely different character do what I assume was ostensibly the same thing. Except for the part where you can't negotiate a peace between the Quarian and the Geth without her alive.

Otherwise, the game is basically what Mass Effect 2 was, but there are no hacking minigames (sure, I'm fine with that) and you can customize your weapons in a way that echoes the first game, but without the whole pesky “Incredibly poor inventory management” thing. That is also to say that it is a passable third person shooter, as long as you are willing to play it that way. For my part, I was using an imported Vanguard and thus basically used Charge+Nova for the entire game, to the point where the combat stopped even being remotely challenging and was basically a joke the entire time. I'm sure if I was playing on insanity or whatever I couldn't have abused it as I did, on Normal it does the job for literally everything. It's a pity too, as the weapon arsenal seems greatly expanded, something that I'm really only getting into with my forays into the multiplayer.

Speaking of that, the Multiplayer is functional and enjoyable, if only in the vacuum of me having not played a ton of Gears of War and other real Third Person Cover-based shooters. It's a pity that it also exposes one of the other ugly things about ME3, namely that there are only three types of enemies. Cerberus, Reapers and Geth, which all in all results in a little more than a dozen enemy types overall. The complete randomness of the progression seems flawed in some fairly serious ways. While I'm fine with a bit of randomness, the fact that it is all random makes it discouraging, as the chances of me getting a new race or weapon is somewhat less than I would desire. While I literally got sick of Modern Warfare 3 after like a day of playing, you can't deny that it works.

A reminder of where we came from

All these things being equal, I would like to close by saying that I went back and I played a few hours of Mass Effect 1 today. Holy shit. To say that it is a radically different game than the other two is perhaps something of an understatement. I can tell you already that one of the things I now, retrospectively, miss in Mass Effect 3 is the very distinct, very pronounced 70s/80s sci fi tone, equal mixes of Star Wars and Star Trek with a thick, thick film grain filter and lots of lens flare covering the entire thing. Sure, half of the supporting cast is not much more than living codex entries, substituting personalities for lore-porn, and sure, the gameplay is kind of ass. But it seems clear to me in remembering these things that, regardless of whatever else the series has become, the first game is very much of a clear vision, one that knows exactly what it wants to accomplish, even if I still think that hybridizing shooters and RPGs usually is not for the best. Something that the ending could have taken some tips from.

Other stuff (in bullet point form)

  • On anime: The last episode of Excel Saga is either brilliant or incredibly tasteless. I'm inclined to say both. The series itself? Sure. I admit to liking insanity, even at the cost of it being obnoxious on occasion. Best parts are the parts that don't actually involve Excel, which is more than one would think.
  • Also Ghost in the Shell is a goddamn bizarre movie. I wasn't expecting nearly as much hamfisted philosophical dialogue as I ended up encountering. Perhaps more hilariously, its spinoff series: Stand Alone Complex makes the main character attractive and ditches all the "What makes something human?" nonsense in favor of Cyber Cops doing awesome cyber cop things. Sure, I'm not entirely sure if it insults the grand ideas of the movie, but it's a lot more entertaining to watch.
  • Ranma 1/2 is kind of terrible in a way that I'm into. No wonder I've watched like 50 episodes.
  • On other video games: I will probably play Icewind Dale II and finish it up this month. Honest. I'm on chapter 5 of 6. It's not like I have a ton left to get through. That game still isn't as good as Icewind Dale.
  • League of Legends is still a thing. Now that I'm no longer in the same hall as the guys I play with however, I've been cutting back somewhat. Better the idiots I know than the ones I don't. Ziggs is a pretty good mid carry.
  • As I said, I literally got bored of Modern Warfare 3 after a day of playing. My reflexes simply aren't up to the task anymore and I feel like an old man being wrecked by the ScopeXXSnipeXX420s of the world. It's a bummer that Black Ops II actually looks kind of intriguing.
  • My Ironman playthrough of Wizardry 8 may be thwarted by me accidentally trapping myself in part of the level that I can't get out of. Which is a bummer since I was doing so well too.
  • The Legend of Grimrock is cool. I got stuck but am too stubborn to look at a guide... yet.
  • On real life: Having no close friends at home is a bummer.
  • Finding a job so your parents don't invent chores for you to do is a bummer
  • Cards Against Humanity is amazing. It's also horribly offensive.
  • I am probably going to bed now.
Posted by wumbo3000

I totally agree with you on the cameo appearance thing. I feel like every time someone from ME2 comes, there needs to be a studio audience that starts clapping and cheering for them. Related to that, ME3 sorely lacked new characters.

And you're right; if you look at some of the first Mass Effect screenshots, that game looks old. Graphically speaking, I mean. The art and visual style of it is still cool. Still has the best box art of all 3 games in my opinion.

Posted by TheDudeOfGaming

@ArbitraryWater said:

Seriously. If you are sick of talking about this, why did you click on my topic to begin with?

Because I'm fucking stupid okay?

Posted by Hailinel

@ArbitraryWater: Ghost in the Shelll's movie adaptation (it was a manga first) was really a product of its director. The manga isn't nearly as dour and actually has some lighthearted moments. The director, Mamoru Oshii, has a habit of injecting philosophical wankery into his films. if you thought Ghost in the Shell had a lot of it, you should see Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2. It is wall-to-wall philosophical navel-gazing, punctuated by the occasional action sequence.

And Excel Saga is just special. I remember watching that show in the anime club back in college. Just complete and utter insanity.

And Ranma 1/2 is stupid in a way that I can enjoy, as well.

I have nothing to say regarding Mass Effect 3 or its predecessors.

Posted by joshthebear

Man ME1 is a fucking amazing game. The story, characters, sense of universe, and music are the best in the series. I don't care if it's not the best playing game ever. It's easily my favorite game of this generation by leaps and bounds.

Edited by Tennmuerti

Cool story bro.
It was actually a cool story. And you're sorta a bro?
Mam ME1 boxart is great,  as is it's ending.

Posted by drGiggless

shorten this by about 4 paragraphs and i'll consider reading it.

Posted by MormonWarrior

Cool blog. I feel largely the same way - it was great fan service, even if it was a little too convenient that you run into everyone again. I actually got sucked into the multiplayer quite a bit when I started playing as a different kind of character than I normally used, and it was pretty fun though flawed. I play Gears of War as well, but I found it very fun.

But gosh, that ending...it's taken me since I beat it a week after release to now to really get over how butthurt I was about it. I thought people were just being whiny, which is true in some cases, but holy crap...it's way bad.

Also, I didn't even like the first game when I played through it the first time. I thought the busted combat, myriad glitches, boring missions and characters and the story in general were just kind of flat and didn't deliver well. When I played Mass Effect 2, though, I really got sucked into that world and loved it way better. I've now played Mass Effect through three times to import characters over to 2, and I learned to appreciate it based on the merits of its sequel.

Posted by Mento

It probably doesn't speak highly of me that I rented the PS3 version of ME3 first, hated how the default Shepard apparently sleepwalked her way through the first two games and waited until the 360 version was available to rent. I managed to see two whole side-missions radically transformed by having non-dead ME2 characters show up in them. Of course, then I started to see them everywhere I went. I got the impression that BioWare kind of expected you to only let a handful survive so they'd have more impact when they finally reappeared, but I guess they underestimated how anally-retentive we'd be about keeping them alive. Ditto on how ME2 characters can still die in ME3 if you didn't do their loyalty missions back in the day (which default Shepard invariably did not do).

Silly reunion train aside, the major story missions were done really well I thought. At least in the regard that they never felt any particular subplot was worth anything less than full cinematic closure, whether it's the Genophage or the Geth or what have you. Should've tripped some warning alarms that they were basically leaving nothing for a possible sequel to work on, but it was cathartic as hell to see all those loose threads tie-up.

Moderator
Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Hailinel: I will keep that in mind. I wasn't really planning on watching Innocence anyways (something about the ending to the original rubbed me the wrong way with its non-conclusiveness) but if it is more of that kind of stuff I will stick to SAC. I should probably watch Akira too, if only so I can talk smack about the other anime film that has obtained significant mainstream recognition for questionable reasons (I mean, I've already seen End of Evangelion, so as far as the depths of mind rape and explicit violence go I have probably seen worse) I figured those particular bullet points would be of more interest to you than whatever dissertation I had on Commander Shepard's last adventure.

@MormonWarrior: What I left unsaid when I was talking about the first game was the fact that... yeah. It's not necessarily a great game. Having spent all of Mass Effect 3 with half of it installed on my hard drive, going back to the 20-second elevators (that are set in stone, meaning that my hard drive installation only affects half the loading times) in the first game is an exercise in pain. I may actually go out of my way to play more and write something about it... but the game itself makes it harder than it should be.

@Mento: I did like the amount of closure they gave, even if I was playing my Shepard maximum renegade and pulled the biggest dick move in the galaxy by killing Mordin and tricking Wrex into thinking that I had cured the Genophage, only for him to get REALLY PISSED at me and get shot by C-Sec personnel. It's probably the closest thing to an evil decision you can make in any of those games and it's a testament to how good those characters are that I felt incredibly bad doing it.

Posted by onan

@ArbitraryWater said:

Dear Diary,

...

Ranma is on that list of things I'm going to get around to finishing eventually. It's been something like 15 years now since I've seen it, so it's probably about time.

Edited by Yummylee

In all honesty, ME3's ending is just one of many stark complaints I have towards ME3 as a whole. Equally as notable for me would be how Shepard would talk for herself so goddamn much! And even the options you do get are skimmed down from 3 to 2, and are much more so obviously leaning towards 'paragon response v renegade response'.

So many pivotal conversations where you have no input whatsoever... it was maddening. It's not like Shepard was much of an 'avatar' so to speak like The Warden in DA: O, but comparing how much sway you have over Shepard's conversations and overall personality between the original and ME3, I would say there is a significant difference. It all started with that damned Lair of The Shadow Broker DLC... for as much as I really enjoyed it, I see now that that is where the gears started to turn in deciding to cut down on a lot the user-input and focus on making Shepard much more of a pre-determined character.

Also while many people get caught up on the ending, I think it starts to fall apart right around the actual 'Retake Earth Mission' begins. The way it all plays out was basically like any other mission, with some overly long arena combat to wrap it up; terribly anti-climatic to say the least, and it didn't come close to conveying what was supposed to be the biggest battle in, like, the history of ever. A massive step-down from the perfect pacing and consequential suicide-mission during ME2. Though the part when you're charging towards Harbinger, watching everyone die around you and makos blow up, was pretty exhilarating at least.

The 'gotta fetch 'em all' sidequests were dreadful, explicitly reminding me of one notable criticism I had with DA2; the wave based stuff wasn't as lazy, but considering how little narrative there was involved, they still felt incredibly shallow. A farcry from side-missions like during ME, when you have to save a politician who had been kidnapped by renegade biotics to alter... some law involving biotics and L2 implants, OK I can't remember the specifics, but it was a heavy theme all the same.

ME3 also easily has the worst iteration of galaxy exploration across the trilogy, thanks in no small part to the silly cat & mouse game with the Reapers, and how there's very little to find out there besides a lil something to expand your war assets meter. In fact ME3 overall stands as my least favourite by far.

And yet, there are still aspects that are my favourite across the trilogy. The shooting is at its best in here, the mix of ME/ME2 customisation was appreciative, the way squad members would actually talk with each other making your team actually feel like a team--rather than a group of individuals hanging within their own little bubble awaiting Master Shepard to arrive--and, yes, there are iotas of fanservice sprinkled everywhere. A lot of the writing is maybe a little too self-aware, but it's hard to resist cracking a smile when Garrus shouts out ''I'm Garrus Vakarian and this is my favourite spot on the Citadel''. The way Kaiden comes to terms with how a lot of people apparently find him kinda boring and annoying was great too. Again, almost a little too self-aware for its own good, but at that point, you're precisely there for the fan-service anyway, so it was appreciative.

The way some of your decisions actually ripple down to some degree was a surprise as well, such as Eve dying should you of destroyed Maelon's research. But then it always comes back to the ending and how in the grand scheme, nothing mattered... that definitely puts a damper on things.

The Tuchanka and Geth/Quarian conflicts were still highly engaging, though. But I also agree that the excuses a lot of the ME2-only cast make up for why they can't nut up and join you were weak. Some were acceptable, like Thane and his illness, and Jakob and his family I guessss? but characters like Samara and Grunt should of been able to join.

God, what else... I also really enjoyed how the soundtrack was made up a lot of the best from both prior ME's. See, there's definitely a lot of specific elements that stand as the series' best imo, but when viewed as a whole, it's considerably more mixed than the first two. ME3 I feel holds an unsteady balance between what I liked, what I disliked, and what I outright hated, whereas the first two weighed in on enough positives to overcome any nagging issues I may of had otherwise.