Revisiting Mass Effect: Part 4

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Posted by meteora3255 (465 posts) -

If you need to catch up on the earlier parts catch them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

After stopping Matriarch Benezia and freeing the Rachni on Noveria. Kylie Shepard continues her race to stop Saren and the Reapers. Following another lead, Shepard heads to Feros to investigate unusual Geth activity.

The odd colony

The Mako always handles so well!
The Mako always handles so well!

When Shepard arrives on Feros she is told she must meet with Fai Dan, leader of the Zhu’s Hope colony. As Shepard explores the colony it’s apparent very quickly that things are not well. The colonists are low on food, power and water. On top of that, the colonists all seem focused on their tasks to the point that they will not speak to Shepard about anything else. Even Fai Dan won’t give Shepard any more information beyond the troubles of the colony. Fai Dan asks that Shepard help destroy a Geth transmitter in the tunnels under the colony so that the Geth cannot coordinate their attacks.

Shepard easily dispatches the Geth in the tunnels and retrieves supplies to help the other colonists. While in the tunnels she encounters a colonist who seems to have gone insane and isolated himself. He tells her that he is fighting “it” and that it hurts when he doesn’t listen to the voice in his head. When Shepard asks Fai Dan about the man he refuses to speak on it.

With more pressing matters to attend to Shepard leaves the colony and heads towards ExoGeni headquarters, the location of the main Geth invasion. After meeting some of the evacuated employees, Shepard enters the facility to repel the Geth. Along the way, she discovers that the researchers at ExoGeni discovered an ancient plant-like creature known as the Thorian. The Thorian uses spores to control other creatures and ExoGeni was using the colonists as an experiment in their quest to capture the creatures power.

The Thorian is the prettiest ancient plant-like lifeform Shepard has encountered.
The Thorian is the prettiest ancient plant-like lifeform Shepard has encountered.

With this information, Shepard races toward the colony. On the way, she is given special gas grenades by the ExoGeni team. The colonists will attack her to protect the Thorian and the gas grenades can subdue them nonlethally, however the player is left to decide whether to use them. This presents an interesting moment because there is nothing to suggest Shepard would kill innocents given a viable alternative yet the game doesn’t acknowledge this. The Paragon/Renegade system isn’t a good vs. evil choice. Shepard is always going to be the hero. The difference is how Shepard goes about getting results, for a Renegade the ends justify the means and no cost is too high. In this case Shepard is giving a very clear option to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties but can choose not to use it. Kylie Shepard used the gas grenades but this moment still seems off putting based on the way they characterize Shepard everywhere else.

The battle with the Thorian is just as anti-climactic as the battle with Benezia. Waves of “Thorian Creepers” (reskinned Geth husks) and an Asari attack Shepard as she works to destroy the creature’s neural nodes. Eventually Shepard prevails and one of Matriarch Benezia’s followers is released from Thorian control. She tells Shepard that Saren used the Thorian to gain the Cipher needed to understand the Prothean beacon and passes this information on to him although the vision is still not clear.

With Feros completed Shepard races towards Virmire and her next lead. The Feros mission continues a trend that I didn’t remember from my original playthroughs, specifically that this middle section of the game wasn’t particularly memorable. There is a lot of gameplay to be found but it all blends together with very little to make it stand out the same way the first 10 hours and the last 10 hours do. I do remember really enjoying Virmire and am excited to see how it holds up. Kylie Shepard’s quest is winding down but I am excited to revisit the end of Mass Effect.

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#1 Posted by billygoat117 (160 posts) -

I have really enjoyed reading these retrospectives. I'm currently in the middle a second playthrough of the series, and your notion of role-playing Shepard as a distinct individual as opposed to simply doing what you yourself would do is very intriguing to me. I think I might try that when Andromeda comes out next month.

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#2 Posted by meteora3255 (465 posts) -

@billygoat117: Thanks. Generally my first playthrough is the "Me" run making decisions as I think I would. After that is when I start to try to form characters to roleplay before starting so I think I will probably do the same for Andromeda.

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#3 Posted by nnickers (262 posts) -

So I played the original Mass Effect back at launch and absolutely loved it: played through on the hardest difficulty with every class, some more than once. I played two a little past its launch because I was busy with college back then and still enjoyed the setting but felt like they'd removed too much. I never got to the third game.

I just built my first PC last year and took it as an opportunity to go back and finish the series, with my plan being to start over from the beginning. I got as far as the Liara mission in the first game (just after you leave the Citadel) when I called it quits; that game feels shockingly dated. Though I do think that first trip to the Citadel, taken on its own, may be the high point of the series. I moved on to the second game and had a great time with it. What felt at the time like a massively dumbed-down sequel turned out to be far more palatable today. So good work Bioware, turns out your game developers were far more prescient than my late-teens self.

After I beat two, I finally started my first-ever playthrough of the third game. And...months later I'm still maybe a dozen hours in. Every week or two I force myself to play once mission out of some feeling of obligation. The writing is worse, the characters are bland, the combat feels awful (guns feel like bb guns and biotic ablities have <1 second CD's), the mission designs are repetitive, the environments feel like they're taken from a PS2 dungeon crawler...that game is a real bummer. I would have considered myself a big fan of the series up to this point, and now I'm considering just looking up Youtube videos for the rest of ME3's story. I'd read back when it released that 3 was the weak point, but I never imagined just what a drop in quality it took.

Man, those first two games though.

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