Headscratchers: Mass Effect

Headscratchers for Mass Effect.


General Headscratchers:

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    Romance 
  • The Romance Options in general for Male and Female Shepard have a common pattern. Both Shepards can romance the Virmire Survivor and Liara in the First Game. In Mass Effect 2 they can have a relationship with a Dextro DNA alien, romancing the Cerberus Operative and romancing a notorious criminal. However, It seems that Male Shepard is always the lucky one to get the smooth skinned females while Female Shepard has to settle for scaly aliens who have a penchant for sniper rifles.
    • Hey, you forgot Jacob with that last bit... Just like everyone else. Except Kasumi.
    • Well, she only wants him for his body.
    • And apparently, Male Shepard only likes pure blooded human/asari/quarians which define perfection of their genes.
    • Exactly how are Ashley or Tali "pureblooded" or "genetically perfect", again? Only Liara and Miranda are described in those terms, and in Liara's case it's an insult, not a praise.
    • Liara is also not "pureblood" either. She's quarter-krogan.
    • Liara is not actually smooth-skinned. Asari have scaled skin. its very fine and difficult to notice without the very high-res textures in Mass Effect 3, but their skin has a similiar consistency as drell skin.

    Shepherd and AI's 
  • Shepard's Shut Up, Hannibal! to Sovereign: "You're not even alive. Not really. You're just a machine, and machines can be broken," comes off slightly worse when viewed in light of Legion and EDI.
    • And as of ME3, there's new light in knowing that each individual reaper is the entirety of an advanced (organic) civilization, preserved in Reaper form. "Just a machine", eh?
    • It sort of makes sense if you consider that Shepard's interactions with AI in the first game were largely negative. The heretic geth were essentially at war with the Alliance (at were thought to represent all geth instead of a small minority), the AI on the Citadel (which tried to blow itself up, killing Shepard and ďas many organics as I canĒ), the rogue AI on Luna and now Sovereign, a literal Omnicidal Maniac. Itís not unreasonable to assume that Shepard though all AI were Always Chaotic Evil. But interactions with EDI, Legion and the true geth over the next two games probably changed his/her opinions.
    • Even in ME1, Shepard can argue with Tali that the geth were living beings with a right to life, and that the quarians were in the wrong.

    The Omniblade 
  • The Omniblade actually isn't a new development for Mass Effect 3. After all, look at Kasumi whenever she uses Shadow Strike. She's striking at enemies with her omnitool! So those things can be pretty nasty weapons as early as Mass Effect 2.
    • According to the Codex the tech is almost as old as Omnitools and a standard app, but until the Reaper invasion and the necessity of fighting Husks in close combat everyone thought it was an idiot's weapon. Except Kasumi apparently.
    • Specifically, the codex explains that the use of omni-tools as a weapon is almost as old as omnitools themselves. The omni-blade, specifically, was developed explicitly in preparation for the reaper invasion as a good hand to hand weapon against husks. This is somewhat demonstrated by how in multiplayer, Batarians (who've isolated themselves for a while), developed a different weapon; the omni-gauntlet.
    • Not to mention that in the Shadow Broker DLC, the Broker busts out an omni-shield.

    Elcor Hands 

  • Exactly what do the Elcor use for hands?
    • Their hands are used for hands. The elcor forearms have long fingers that they use to manipulate tools.

    Measurements 
  • Why does the game measure planetary info relative to Earth? For instance Cyone has a gravity of 0.95 of Earth's. Gravity is measured in Newtons with Earth's as 9.8.
    • Earth is what we're familiar with, so it's the baseline we use to judge other planets. We do the exact same thing in real life. For example, distance between a planet and its sun is measured in Astronomical Units (AUs). One Astronomical Unit is the average distance between Earth and Sol.
    • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure.
    • Fridge Brilliance sets in when you realize that you're reading the human version of the Codex. Reading the Turian or Asari translations probably would have different measurements.

    Resurrection 

  • Something that occurred to me last night. Why does anyone care about death anymore? Cerberus managed to resurrect a corpse, and depending on your choices, the leader of that little project is still out there. So if Shepard dies in the destroy ending, you bring him back again. Mordin sacrifices himself? Dig the body out and jump start it. Wrex, Eve, the Virmire survivor, Tali. Anyone who dies could conceivably be revived as long as they have some semblance of a body. Sure, it cost 2 billion credits at the time, but that could be attributed to a terror group running R&D testing. They've got the formula down, and could conceivably adapt it to any species.
    • A valid point, but during Mass Effect 3, a little problem called the Reapers that everyone is worried about, so not a whole lot of focus on a then-experimental procedure that MIGHT work. Of course, with the Reaper threat over at the end of Mass Effect 3, that could probably be researched.
    • Actually, it cost way more than two billion credits, and more than two billion credits is a lot of money. Shepard him/herself essentially says that "you could have trained an army for what you spent on me." No one's going to have the money to spend on resurrecting a single person because its bloody expensive as fuck and they've got to rebuild all of civilization.
    • The cloning facility also gets attacked in the opening to 2, and with the casualties among the staff coupled with the loss in data it might be set back even further.
    • To clarify, it's likely that the majority of the expenses went into actually figuring out how to resurrect someone. And between all of the people who died in the Reaper invasion and how pretty much every organic has a personal stake in this type of medicine, it wouldn't be too hard to drum up support. After all, billions of credits won't do you much good when you're dead.

    Asari technological superiority 

  • Is it just me or is the supposed technological and scientific superiority of the asari nothing but Informed Ability? What are exactly the asari's technological contributions to the Citadel Space anyway? The quarians created the geth, an entire race of AIs (though the lack of AIs is due to the restrictions on AI research imposed by the Council, and it wouldn't a big surprise to me if it were the asari who came up with these restrictions too). The humans created medi-gel and managed to "resurrect" a person who would otherwise be considered dead. The salarians created the genophage, the modified genophage, and the cure to it. Meanwhile, the asari can't even cure a genetic disorder like the Ardat-Yakshi. In fact, it seems that the whole Ardat-Yakshi story exists for no other reason than the Rule of Drama - despite what Samara says, it won't take "magic" to cure the disorder. The Codex specifically states in ME1 that the humans have already managed to cure most of their most dangerous genetic disorders through screening and gene therapy - why won't the asari do the same thing? Samara says the AY disorder only becomes incurable after the symptoms manifest during adolescence, so there is plenty of time to diagnose it before that. The natural biotic abilities of the asari are no achievement of theirs - as far as I can remember, anything born on Thessia has biotic abilities due to eezo permeating everything on the planet. Their "telepathic" reproduction is probably due to Prothean influence. So, once again, what exactly did the asari achieve?
    • They pretty much built the Citadel society and economy from the ground up. They're the foremost experts on biotics and mass effect technology in general. They've got the largest economy and population in the galaxy. While the examples you mentioned of other species' technologies are notable, those are for the most part just singular examples of those technologies. The fact that the asari maintain an unquestionably superior economy and political presence int he first place indicates that while other species have their achievements, the asari have a general technological, cultural, political, and economic advantage over everyone else in the majority of typical technologies. The fact that they haven't cured the Ardat-Yakshi genetic issue is not an indicator of lacking genetic capability. Humans haven't been able to cure Vrolik's Syndrome, Garrus' mother does suffer from an unspecified disease that hasn't been treated yet, the drell have not been cured of Kepral's Syndrome, no one's found a way to improve vorcha lifespans, etc. There are plenty of examples of diseases that have not yet been cured in the setting, so a particular genetic disorder remaining untreated is not inconsistent with the medical technology of the setting.
    • Re the AY cure; Samara also mentions that it isn't possible to diagnose an Ardat-Yakshi before puberty, at which point it's too late to do anything about. It's not that the Asari haven't tried.

     Rarity of Garrus's markings. 
  • In ME 3 we find out Garrus was born on Palaven, so we can assume his markings are Palaven markings. But if that's the case, why don't we see a single other turian with the same markings?
    • Because there's trillions of turians and we run into at most several hundred unique turians over the course of the series? Also, just because a turian is wearing facial markings it doesn't mean that they're the markings of their planet. Also, the markings are generally used by turians who were descended from colonists, not the homeworld. There's no reason to assume that Garrus' markings are Palaven-specific.

    Geth Ships 
  • Why would the Geth design their ships to look like giant bugs? That demonstrates a concern for aesthetics that seems unusual in a species that considers windows to be an unacceptable structural weakness.
    • Geth do have what looks like some kind of aesthetic preference for those sorts of shapes. There's no apparent reason for them to continue using platforms that resemble quarian body structures, but they insist on doing so.

    Alliance organization 
  • Why would the Alliance already have a large fleet of interplanetary military before the First Contact War? This isn't just space police either, they're supposed to have several dreadnoughts already before they encounter the Turians. Against what threat are these supposed to be deployed? Was it just a "well, just in case we ever find aliens, we better have a huge fleet ready to meet them" thing?
    • Pretty much, yes. They already had confirmation that intelligent alien life existed by that point.

    Alliance military overrated 
  • Let us examine the Alliance Navy's stated capability in the Codex and compare it to its actual record
    • Shanxi - Draw as everything returned to status quo antebellum. Would have actually been an embarrassing loss had all 35 dreadnoughts of the Turian fleet ganged up and attempted to capture or obliterate Arcturus (whose poor defensibility is examined in Mass Effect 3/Fridge Brilliance) and Earth. An overly cautious council allows it to eke out a draw from eventual defeat.
    • Mindoir - Loss, as the fleet could do nothing to prevent the entire colony from being massacred or enslaved.
    • Elysium - Win if War Hero Shepard existed. Not sure if it was a win otherwise.
    • Torfan - Win but a very inept win if 75% of forces were lost achieving that victory.
    • Eden Prime - Loss. Beacon was used before Shepard could get to it, priming it for destruction. An entire division was annihilated and the colony almost got blown up.
    • Feros - Three out of five possible outcomes result in the colony being lost outright, so a narrow Loss.
    • Terra Nova - Win, but would have been a devastating loss if Shepard hadn't shown up.
    • Freedom's Progress, Ferris Fields, new Canton - Losses
    • Citadel - Win, but would have been a huge Loss if Sovereign hadn't ASSUMED DIRECT CONTROL of Saren and lost its shields.
    • Horizon - Loss as it was Cerberus who saved the colony and used that as political capital.
  • With this record it seems to be incredulous why the Council races consider the Alliance as so strategically important. Their fleet was at heart a paper tiger and only "won" due to Shepard's presence. The third game gives us two more examples of Alliance blunders - if Shepard didn't rescue Kenson, half a marine division is lost accomplishing the same task. And another Alliance black ops raid on the Batarians turned so bad they had to cover it up. And that info still leaked out to a weapons dealer. Turian Blackwatch was twice as strong as the Alliance's Delta team which is supposedly filled with N5 and N6 types. In all games Turian made weapons are more powerful than anything made by the Alliance. The Council could have just unleashed the Turian fleet in its entirety whenever Goyle or Udina got Uppity and come out of it none the worse for wear.
    • Several of those "losses" - Freedom's Progress, Ferris Fields, New Canton, and Horizon - are explicitly outside the Alliance's jurisdiction. Elysium was a victory regardless of Shepard's presence, as Pressly explicitly talks about how he was in the relief fleet that destroyed the pirates. Feros is not an Alliance loss, as the Exogeni security on the planet were actively suppressing attempts to call for help even after Shepard disabled the geth jamming. Torfan is up in the air; losses were specifically so high because Ruthless Shepard pushed his troops to extreme ends to achieve victory. I wouldn't count the Citadel either way, as the Citadel fleets also lost that engagement.
    • Now, comparing the Alliance to the Turian Hierarchy is disengenious. The turians have been spacefaring for literally over a thousand years. Of course they have a leg up on the humans in terms of numbers and quality. Why the Council considers the Alliance strategically valuable is due to several factors: the Alliance is positioned to secure the Attican Traverse, and the Alliance has, in less than thirty years, managed to eclipse another Citadel power - the Batarian Hegemony. Yes, the Alliance is behind most of the Citadel in terms of raw numbers and power, but they've literally only had element zero technology for forty years, and in that time they grew so swiftly that they completely outcompeted an established, existing nation to the point that it actually quit the Citadel and went rogue. Balak even explicitly states that the Alliance is too strong for the Hegemony to challenge. That's plenty of reason for the Council to be interested in the humans.
    • Why would the Council need the Alliance a middle power at best to stabilize and control the Traverse? Why couldn't the Turians with their sheer military might, stabilize it already? And yes, the Alliance had in a short time eclipsed another nation, but that too was another middle power associate race. Sure, they could have eventually advanced to the point where the Alliance is on even keel with the other Council races, but already considering them when they were in actuality miles away from reaching such a level seems to be a panicked jump the gun type of reaction at best. Even the Volus and Elcor have to share an embassy while the Alliance gets a prominent one all for themselves right from Revealation. A far more prudent action would have been to make the Alliance share an embassy and dangle an exclusive embassy as a potential prize instead of a Council seat. And if they scream and yell, park a few dreadnoughts in the Exodus Cluster.
    • The turians already have to deal with patrolling the rest of Citadel space as it is. Far better to let a new, expanding power that is willing to move into the area do the work of colonizing an unstable and distant frontier than to move turian fleets that are patrolling the closer borders with the Terminus into undeveloped areas, especially undeveloped areas that Citadel members aren't really willing to colonize (considering that they have literally billions of star systems in their own territories to deal with).
    • Splitting this off from the previous point because it deserves its own entire bullet point: this idea of the Council moving turian ships into human space is colossally idiotic and completely out of character for the Citadel as a whole. The humans are allies. You don't send warships to threaten allies because they're raising a stink, and the Council itself doesn't have the authority to move warships like that anyway. The turian navies are under the control of the Hierarchy's Primarchs, not directly under the Council's control, and the Primarchs would never pull warships and send them against their allies over a minor diplomatic squabble. And if they did, other Citadel associates would quickly begin pulling out simply because suddenly the Council and/or the turians are throwing dreadnoughts around at minor political squabbles. If the Council somehow managed to get the pull to park dreadnoughts in human space as a threat, the humans would immediately withdraw from the Citadel and there would be a massive political shitstorm within the Citadel over a gross and blatant misuse of force against its own membership. Not to mention the turmoil that would result within the Council species; the massive asari e-democracy alone would go utterly batshit at the idea of resolving political disputes by gross abuse of force instead of reasoned diplomacy.
    • In Mass Effect: Revelation Ambassador Goyle flat out threatened to go to war with the Council if some very damaging sanctions weren't lifted. This wasn't a "minor diplomatic squabble" not by a long shot. At that point, the Council would have been well within their rights to call Goyle's bluff by sending a fleet of Dreadnoughts to human space and say "So you want to go to war with us? Just try it." This was in essence how JFK diffused the Cuban Missile Crisis and ensured that the USSR never projected power like that ever again. And by doing that they could have made sure that the Alliance progressed to possible Council status on their terms, not on humanity's terms as we see in the trilogy. Why the Council just gave in to the bluster is what is surprising. They certainly had a lot more spine during the Krogan Rebellions. Instead in this case they cave in to an actually weak military power and allow it to advance swiftly.
    • No. What Goyle did was basic brinkmanship negotiation. The Council threatened severe sanctions. She refused to accept the sanctions the Council was handing down for illegal AI research, and Sparatus was actually the one who suggested the possibility of war - but only the possibility, and Goyle immediately admits that the Alliance will lose. Followed by her pointing out exactly why the Alliance is valuable at that point in time: they're stabilizing a distant and dangerous area of space and are a major trade partner with several other species. She uses audacity to make a stand that shows she's willing to hold her position, and then she turns around and willingly accepts reduced penalties when the Council asks what the Alliance would accept without withdrawing from the Citadel. This is nothing like what JFK did in the Cuban Missile Crisis because at that time, the US and USSR were engaged in a cold war and the Crisis revolved around one side getting a severe and completely unacceptable strategic advantage over the other. They were not official allies. The Council and Goyle were negotiating, and neither side wanted war, because, again, they are allies. The comparison to the Krogan rebellions is also disingenious. The Council actually allowed the krogan to forcibly seize multiple colonies before they officially demanded they be returned. Only after the krogan refused did they go to war. In other words, the Council allowed a member state to repeatedly invade and annex allied territory before they finally went to war.
      The Council does not go to war lightly. If they're willing to let the krogan seize multiple colonies before turning to hostilities, there is absolutely no way they would go to war just because the humans balk at sanctions over failed AI research. Whether or not they would win is completely immaterial. The Council has consistently shown that it prefers peaceful negotiation over military conflict.
     No assault rifle training for Infiltrator Shepard 
  • There are five snipers you encounter in all of the trilogy - Ashley, Garrus, Legion, Thane and Zaeed. Other than Thane who is more like a mob hit man than a soldier, all of the other snipers can use assault rifles. In 3 Shepard can use any weapon but it seems odd to me in the first two games that only a soldier Shepard who snipes can use assault rifles. The infiltrator by default is woefully bad with an assault rifle. How can a military sniper attain that skill while being such a poor shot with an assault rifle? Makes absolutely no sense, when you consider that Garrus and Legion who are also infiltrators in the traditional tech/combat hybrid sense are proficient with assault rifles. In Real Life snipers have to qualify as above average Expert with assault rifles and be designated marksmen in their squads before they can become eligible for sniper training. Why that logic is eschewed here is truly head scratching.
    • To be quite blunt, its game balance. Soldier Shepard's entire specialization is that s/he can use all guns equally well. The Infiltrator sacrifices assault rifle training for tech powers, which are among the most useful utility abilities. If it really does bother you that an Infiltrator has no assault rifle training, then you can just unlock the option during character creation by completing the associated assault rifle achievement.

Alternative Title(s):

Mass Effect Fridge Logic
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