Musings on Mass Effect 3

It’s funny coming into some of these huge, and rather controversial titles so far after their release because the general buzz has mostly died down so you kind of get the chance to be a little more subjective on the game. You aren’t as influenced by the talk, reviews or any other conversations about the title. It is nice to be involved in the zeitgeist of a gaming release, the excitement or disappointment, that drone of conversation that you get to contribute to. It’s just the time of sharing the interest in our medium and game with like-minded people but sometimes I feel like it influences you a little too much.

I also think it can be just as important to have these conversations about titles far after the original release too. I didn’t think so but yeh, it seems to be a far more impartial type of experience and far more personal. Valuable in its own way

Now I know exactly what has been said about the game, the horror of jilted fans but I’m more removed from that and honestly I don’t see what’s the issue here. Hmm… I’ll get to that later. I do have a few thoughts about it but what I really liked about Mass Effect 3 was that it continued on with the story and player interactions in such a way that it does make you think more about the situations going on. About the interaction of characters, about the context and inner workings of events and just some rather in depth philosophical thoughts interspersed through .

A few Spoilers Ahoy form here on in.

Morality and Humanity

Themes about the impending annihilation of many races is a rather heavy topic but it is done rather well. You can feel the incredibly desperate nature of the people here and with how they act. Self-serving interests but that is rather typical given the initial circumstances. You look after your own but through team work and the usual errand style quests you see that slowly changing to trust. Of course it’s under the banner of the greater good but still.

I like the reapers, they are an excellent enemy for the series and here they are absolutely terrifying. Every time you encounter them you feel equal parts terrified and totally insignificant. The ant underneath a foot and that’s a weird feeling. It’s an interesting premise for them as well, a force of universal balance and paving the way for the younger races to grow. It’s an entire foundation around the theme of determinism, whether the cycle of superior races can actual change away from one of chaos and destruction and, that’s probably a no.

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Resistance is Futile

I enjoy the exploration of the Krogans too. The Genophage, a genetically engineered way of limiting breeding of an entire species is an incredibly tricky subject. Causing such a thing is a drastic event, morally reprehensible but in the eyes of some a necessary action.

Like the Geth it seems another case of some sort of self-serving idea going beyond what was planned. Giving the Krogans Technology to fight, while at the time seemed necessary ended up in a lot of harm befalling the very people that they were intended to help. The Geth is another situation and by the end of that scenario I really felt for them. A tool that was basically given sentience and then sentenced to die. A race that only wants to be left alone yet continues to be attacked.

I actually sympathised with them far more than I did the Quarrians. I ended up taking their side in the conflict too, letting them upload the modified Reaper code and then, gaining the ability to eradicat the entire Quarrian fleet. It was a one or the other situation and while my decision was mostly emotional and taking the side of what I perceived the more peaceful race, there was certain other elements there.

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Choice and Consequence

I wondered about humanity itself. Would you consider the Geth human in sense? Of course the flesh is not there but they certainly have individual personality, the ability to contemplate their own existence. The propensity for growth and even certain aspects of a religion, or reverence around. certain facets of their culture.

Of course the debate comes down to a soul. What is the definition of that and how is it determined, if in fact it is a real thing? They can technically die I guess, if their individual soul wasn’t able to integrate itself elsewhere but with the shared nature of thought, is death real for them. Their large network stations seem like some sort of higher power, something enlightening to them all yet they are not a hive mind so they are still free thinking. It’s the usual interesting discussion around AI with a few important differences that might make it something more.

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Neon nights

Mission Structure

The whole thing did seem a bit more polished and structured. There was still some Variability in what you had to do next, and a Universe Map to explore but the path just seemed a bit more guided. The missions themselves were good with a  nice variability on the stories being told and the plot between them. They could have fallen into a reaper/collector heavy story again but they opted to tell a lot of really different but interesting stories that really fleshed out my understanding of the Mass Effect Universe.

The various factions were great and I love how … well, Alien looking many of the aliens are. Just feels more believable when humanoids aren’t the only thing.

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seriously, WTF is this thing… an intergalactic Bison?

Some of these stories were great like the monastery for keeping a lot of the powerful Biotic Asari. Beautiful location that most took to for the safety of others. The secondary story driving a lot of them involving the illusive mans actions were also really cool, the experiments being done and the  refugees from various places that needed saving.

It was good to see too how they really changed up the mechanics within a few of the missions to make something different.  Taking that space walk along the Geth Docking bridge was a captivating experience and rather disorientating too.

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Vomit bags are under your seats

Being able to Pilot the mech was awesome and the geth ship with the electricity running through the corridor was an interesting mechanic, just overstayed its welcome. It broke up the spaces between the usual corridor gunning quite well.

Characters

For some reason I didn’t get as invested in the characters this time around as their just seemed to be far less focus on them. They were still an important part but I just didn’t feel the need to talk to them as much. I think a part of that was the mission briefings being more being about the war and meeting the character was addition to that whereas in Mass Effect 2 it was all about both finding these people and then creating a connection with them.

This time i formed very little connection to any of them bar what I’d already made from the previous title.  I didn’t even bother with romancing Garrus again which is said. That sexy grasshopper face =p It just seemed to be more about having the focus on Shephard. Shephard the saviour, Shephard the Mediator, Shephard the Soldier and they were all just filler. They were definitely better fighters this time but still, just not as needed.

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Oh.. helloooooo there. giggity

The newer characters were incredible bland as well. Beefcake Boy and his Buff Bod. Some other jock type guy and umm… who else was there again. Even Edi in the Robot form was rather boring. I guess I never got to know them all because I just stuck with Garrus and Liara for nearly the entire time but even then, there seemed to be far less conversation and banter throughout the missions and in cutscenes that made you enjoy them in the First place. It’s funny but I actually felt more connected to some of the characters from the side missions that ended up getting a little extra exposition.

The Ending

This leads me to the ending which I kind of saw coming. You can’t just make the focus of a story one person, only one person and then not make them sacrifice themselves for the greater good. it just makes sense. Shephard was going to die and I am totally ok with that kind of fatalism. The story needed an ending, it needed a solid conclusion point and while the cynic in me thought that they missed an opportunity for the sequel the storyteller in me is relieved.

We have an ultimate unstoppable evil that we’ve already seen can stand its own against the might of the other races, quite easily. The might of the galaxy wasn’t going to stop them, it was always going to be an element to distract. Some kind of sacrifice needed to happen there.

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War of many worlds

I was talking about this on twitter too and I get why people were upset. We have a game and series that has championed choice as being meaningful to the story and having an impact and yet the ending takes that all away, well not just the ending as there were plenty of events throughout were the result had been determined. I liked it though. I don’t need the happy, Hollywood style ending with everyone holding hands afterwards. This was bittersweet and it suited the mood of Mass Effect 3 far more. I game that was all about the really hard choices, about loss and the huge tear jerking impacts of them.

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Seriously, screw you Bioware for this one

I just don’t understand what it is people wanted from it in the end as we are more recounting the story someone else has crafted for us. Yes we have a certain amount of interaction in it but that is all predetermined as well. That is just how most games work. This was someone else’s story and always has been, they concluded it and I’m happy to have experienced that.

#ME3 # ramblings

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3 thoughts on “Musings on Mass Effect 3

  1. You’ve played Fallout? Either of the 3, all the way to the end? That’s my bar for interactive storytelling, where my choices impact the game. They all ended at the same point. They all had around 3 possible outcomes. You were the hero.

    But that decision wasn’t made in a vacuum. There was a lot of context and story before and after that event. Heck, in my story I killed vault 101 in fallout 3 because I sent water traders to help them. I let the president run fallout 3.

    At least you got to see the fixed endings, after EA/BW through some DLC patch on it, so there was a bit more meat to it and they fixed a few issues (like how the ship actually escaped and how the relays didn’t actually destroy all civilization). Plus I think people were expecting more than a deus ex machina event. Starchild came out of nowhere. Seemed odd coming from a company with writing chops.

    • Argh. Mobile phone postings… fallout 1 for the water traders.

      And I meant to add that it’s good to have a more complete view of the game and not just the last 5 minutes. Seems the focus was always on that and not so much on all the good stuff the game does do for the rest of the game.

    • ooooo yeh the fallout series were great. Especially all that end game choice. Loved New Vegas and ending up controlling the robot minion army

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