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Mass Effect 3 Part 1: We Fight or We Doy

By Shamus
on Wednesday Aug 15, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


This is the 300th episode of Spoiler Warning. Seriously. We’ve made three hundred of these things. That is a lot of spoiled stuff. This seems like a great time to begin our long-delayed Mass Effect 3 season.

Link (YouTube)

I should probably apologize for this start to the series. Often people accuse us of “just looking for stuff to nitpick”, which isn’t really fair or true. We’re usually looking for stuff to talk about, and sometimes those things are positive and sometimes they’re negative. But in our first block of episodes, I seem to remember spending about two hours hating the game and whinging on about Every Damn Little Thing.

What happened is this:

Josh, Chris, and I spent about forty-five minutes trying to play Mass Effect 3 multiplayer and having our efforts thwarted by the awful interface, stupid Origin problems, bafflingly long menu loads, dumb DLC policies, and glitches. Before that, I’d been playing pub games with strangers and dying again and again to the AWESUM BUTTIN LOL that made me sprint when I wanted cover, do little somersault rolls when I wanted to revive a teammate, and enter cover when I was trying to run away or push a button. So I was in a bad mood. As a bonus, I had an eyeball-obliterating headache and I was getting sick.

So, I entered our first Mass Effect 3 episode in an extreme state of agitation. I was mad at everyone and everything, BioWare in particular. I think it would be fair to say that I was looking for stuff to complain about, since that was pretty much my mental state at the time. I dominated a lot of the conversation and most of it was complaining incoherently about small stuff.

This was all very unfortunate, since Mass Effect 3 has a few awful, terrible, no-good, Very Bad problems, but none of them were the things I was bitching about. In fact, I spent so much time complaining about trivial things that I missed the couple of important or noteworthy things.

Case in point: Shepard’s big “We fight or we die” one-liner. We’ve been waiting for two whole games for this moment, and our big speech boils down to:

Commander Shepard! We’ve fallen out of an airplane with no parachute! What to we do?

(Thoughtful, dramatic pause.)

We hit the ground or we die!

So… yeah. I was in a bad mood, complained too much, and kind of started us off on the wrong foot. Sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better, I hated making it more than you’ll hate watching it. And if that’s not a ringing endorsement I don’t know what is.

Comments (518)

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  1. Mycroft says:

    Sorry to Necro this post, but the Interwebs are a big place, it takes a long time to read everything. :-) Anyway, I had two comments to make, one relevant to modern day (2017), one to the ancient past of 2012-

    1.) With the coming out of Missed Defunct- Androbabies, I’ve finally decided the disgust from ME3 has faded enough where I would poke my head up & consider the series again. I was shocked to discover that ME3 for the PC is now at 5.6 on Metacritic! Considering that it was at 3.8 until well past 2012, I wanted to know what the heck happened.

    I feel like Ripley in ‘Aliens’- “Did IQ’s just drop sharply while I was away?” It would seem so. ME3’s ending was a storytelling disaster of Epic proportions. The Games media’s lashback against player dissatisfaction was also so great I thought at the time that something like Gamergate would have started Then. Pity it didn’t, because there would have been virtually no straws to grasp regarding Gamers being Women-hating Terrorists.

    So not only did IQ’s drop sharply, it also appears we have Goldfish memories, because with MEA I’m seeing the exact same kind of complaints come up that came up with ME3. Gamers may not be Misogynists, but we sure have an atrocious knowledge of history & and an appalling lack of Perspective.

    2.) Regarding the actual game’s opening sequence & plot, it was a huge misstep from the word GO. Dropping Shepard into the Alliance HQ without any explanation (in-game) was an amateurish mistake. Having the attack start Right There was story-destroying pandering to the lowest common denominator of action films.

    For any player with even half a brain, it creates a shattering disconnect between your actions during the game and the actions the Reapers are doing at the same time. Despite some ham-fisted attempts by Bioware to justify these two conflicting series of events (especially egregious in the ‘Citadel’ DLC), the fact remains that while we are dicking around eavsdropping on conversations at the Citadel, Millions of humans are dying on Earth.

    In a more logical story, there is simply NO WAY that Shepard & crew could do any effective recruiting given how fast the Reapers are obliterating the Planet. THEN we go to ask for help from the Turians, who are getting their asses handed to them by a different group of Reapers, and the same with the Asari, the most advanced Council Race. It’s not a matter of opinion to say that this entire plot is actiony schlock equal to ‘Battle Beyond the Stars’.

    Ironically however, Bioware was right about one thing- The Reapers should not have been able to be defeated conventionally. What they should have done is follow the lead of their betters, specifically a tiny little game that came out in 1993 called, ‘Star Control 2’.

    (Spoilers for SC2 ahead)

    In this game, at the start, your PC discovers that humanity & the Alliance of Free Stars, have lost the war against the Ur-Quan Hierarchy & the entire planet Earth has been put behind a Slave Shield with a Pre-Nuclear level of technology. Your Quest in the game then becomes finding the remenants of your old allies, new allies & technological Macguffins, to free Earth & start the War Anew.

    That’s just the *backdrop* to the start of the game though. If you’re paying attention to info you come across, you soon find that the stakes are worse than you imagined. The Ur-Quan, while brutal enemies, were the Nice Guys in this fight. They have another branch of their race, called the Kor-Ah, who don’t just make battle thralls or slaves of those they conquer, they obliterate them. Completely. Your PC then finds out you have about two years in game time, to find a way to defeat the Kor-Ah before they start their Death March & destroy all life in the Galaxy.

    If you’re invested in playing SC2 at all (Which most players would be, it’s one of the best games ever made.), when you find out about that time limit, it creates a sense of tension and creeping dread that no amount of whiz-bang explodies could even come close to. As the Clock keeps ticking down, that tension only increases. You cannot do a THING in this game without being reminded that time is critical. All of your exploration & fun encounters are bittersweet because you know time is running out.

    I cannot stress enough how wonderfully nerve-wracking this experience is. The entire experience is truly Epic in a way that makes a mockery of the normal use of that term. This is how Bioware should have opened ME3. I don’t mean with the Earth already defeated, I mean with the knowledge that, like the Arrival DLC, the Reapers are coming and when they do, the game is OVER.

    ME3 should have focused on stopping the Reapers in Dark Space, before they even get a chance to return to the Milky Way. Either finding a way to destroy them, or truly stranding them (Remember, even Reapers have a limit to how far they can travel in ‘normal’ FTL.), both could have worked.

    Using the method that SC2 did to create such incredible tension, would have worked far better than what Bioware actually did do, and would not have created such a huge psychic disconnect between Shepard bopping around being a Peeping Tom & the Reapers obliterating populations wholesale.

    Sorry for the long post, thanks for your writing, Shamus, much appreciated.

    P.S.- The Source code for Star Control 2 was released free to the community back in 2002. Fans have since created a free, modern-windows compatible version called, “The Ur-Quan Masters”. There is both a standard & HD version made & even with my spoilers, I can’t recommend the game strongly enough.

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