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InkDagger Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Mar 14th 2019 at 2:11:37 AM

I feel like ME 2 moved the story forward, but in ways that left ME 3 to justify. And since ME 3 didn't justify them, the blame falls on ME 2. Like someone in an improve group just ignoring half the group's contributions. You can start a knock-knock joke perfectly but it'll fall flat if no one responds with 'Who's there?'.

Or, like, if Pirates 3: At World's End just kind of forgot about Davey Jones and moved on. Like, yeah, they resurrect Jack, but now Barbossa is back to being the big bad and they handwave that Davey Jones is off doing fuck all. Or Barbosa killed him off screen to restablish himself as a big bad.

I think ME 3 should have been a scaled up ME 2; where ME 2 is built around taking a team of specialists on a Suicide Mission and getting them to resolve their differences, ME 3 should have been taking entire fleets of the galaxy on a do or die war and getting them to resolve their differences and play nicely or we'll all die. And ME 3 is... vaguely resembling of that statement. But not very.

Edited by InkDagger on Mar 14th 2019 at 2:12:21 AM

Mar 14th 2019 at 2:48:42 AM

I think that was the ultimate failure - story aside (Which, for the most part was actually good) the mechanical expectations set by the suicide mission meant most were expecting these assets to come into play in SOME WAY. maybe a unique cutscene here or there to show the impact.

Even with the endings, if that'd happened it may have softened the blow. The extended cut should've been the way forward at the start; but all they REALLY needed was a set scaling of endings (maybe with a little variation) - golden ending (all war assets) "good" ending but Shep dies, bad ending everyone dies.

But as I say, I get the feeling they wanted to be darker. Whoever forced the Cerberus focus (And I get the feeling they thought Cerberus was a more interesting enemy - in the same way Section 31 got BIG in Star Trek as a foil) in 2 I think forced the edgier view in 3.

I still love the game, but I tend to stop before the Cerberus base and with Citadel. Heck, if they wanted dark, end it at Anderson and fire the crucible. That was a lovely scene.

All it means though is I wish there were more grand, character driven space opera games that weren't a) Strategy games or b) top down isometric.

i may have to go reinstall SWTOR for my fix. Or replay the trilogy again. Not sure if I want to replay Andromeda though. Not yet.

Yumil Mad Archivist
Mad Archivist
Mar 14th 2019 at 4:31:32 AM

I've made the joke in the other thread, but the more I read about Andromeda the more I'm convinced Xenoblade X is a better Andromeda Than Mass effect Andromeda three years before. It's a shame the wiiu emulation of the game is still lacking, because it means you have to get a wiiU to play it. I think that's a very convincing take of Nintendo of the space opera genre.

"when you stare too long into the abyss, Xehanort takes advantage of the distraction to break into your house and steal all your shit."
Mar 14th 2019 at 5:07:56 AM

I was sorely tempted to get a Wii U for that game - it looked crazy fun.

Yumil Mad Archivist
Mad Archivist
Mar 14th 2019 at 5:21:18 AM

It is. I don't think it reaches Bioware level of characters writing, and it is stuck with the default of being, in terms of plot and narrative, essentially mass effect 1 in a world where you're not really sure mass effect 2 will ever exist one day, but it's smart enough to know its flaws and focus on his strengths, and it captures the same core feeling of an unforgettable journey you back with nothing but fondness years later I have for ME.

Edited by Yumil on Mar 14th 2019 at 1:27:26 PM

"when you stare too long into the abyss, Xehanort takes advantage of the distraction to break into your house and steal all your shit."
Mar 14th 2019 at 9:26:01 AM

Definitely. While I'm still annoyed at more than a few things about X (they gave a surprisingly good Info Dump in the thirty-second opening narration and then spent the first hour of the game explaining the same thing again but in a less interesting way), it got the exploration and mystery parts right. I do hope we get a real sequel to it eventually. It's not like X really needed that map on the tablet, so it shouldn't be too hard to adapt the same basic premise to the Switch.

Yumil Mad Archivist
Mad Archivist
Mar 14th 2019 at 2:13:21 PM

Yeah the game is actually very alright to play with just the gamepad so the game has zero excuses to not be on switch. Even the monolith devs want to port it, they're just not sure they have the money/time to apparemently

"when you stare too long into the abyss, Xehanort takes advantage of the distraction to break into your house and steal all your shit."
Mar 14th 2019 at 2:14:17 PM

@Yumil No, I am not Shamus Young, rather I was the guy that wrote this big long thing and then discovered a few months ago from this thread that Young went even more in depth into it with some much better words and terminologies and comparisons. I use the alt-LOTR with "Yandalf" one, the "trust between storyteller and audience" one, and the "sequels cannot contradict the sensibilities and themes of the original" one a lot when discussing other works, as well.

As for my comments regarding difficulty in assessing a game as a reviewer, I primarily meant that it's hard for anyone to do the difference when formulated an opinion, doubly so for professional reviewers who do this for a living and thus need to manage egos from both fandom and commercial. When you say a movie is bad, invariably you mean one of several things - bad writing, bad acting, poor effects, etc. One of these things being good doesn't really make up for the other things being bad; at best it relegates it to Narm Charm. When you say a game is bad, on the hand...what does that mean? Does that mean the game is not fun to play? Does that mean the graphics are derpy? What if the graphics are derpy but it's really fun to play? What if the writing is bad, but the worldbuilding I like? What if the strategic mechanics are boring, but the boss fights are cool? Gamers in generally tend to be more tolerant of faults if the gameplay is at least something they like. It's really hard to decide that Mass Effect 3 (or 2, for that matter) is "Bad" when omniblade melee finishing moves or kicking mercs down tall buildings is just fun.

I mean, I never said that Mass Effect 3's gameplay wasn't fun. I do believe I praise it as an improvement over 2, despite having some kinks here and there. My critique was always towards the writing.

"2 would have been better served as having you go on a reaper hunt but for the Normandy destruction be a closer for the first third of the game. Then it's about stopping collectors who are trying to sabotage said reaper hunt.

And then it turns out the collectors are building citadel mk 2 to summon the reapers.

Shifting the focus to Cerberus was the main flaw I think. Making it all about the humans."

Yes. 1 was literally setting this up. Vigil all but handed Mass Effect 2's writing team a ready-made conflict ball hot off the pass what with the whole "well, Sovereign probably has other indoctrinated agents running around too...good luck" thing that Vigil gives you.

I would argue, however, that the dark energy plotline would probably also be dumb and require similar asspulls, and it would have been better to simply not explain why the Reapers do what they do. The way they were set up in 1, almost any explanation given would not be nearly as satisfying as what people were imagining in their heads.

Regarding the power of Reapers in 1 - look, 1 makes it clear that Reapers are Very Powerful, but they're still machines with hardware limitations, albeit very advanced ones that are on an extreme upper limit.

In order to accept that Reapers can be killed by throwing enough firepower at them, all that is required is to accept that Sovereign is a reasonably intelligent being who wouldn't bother with assembling a geth fleet to screen its advance if it didn't think the Citadel fleet could kill or harm it.

In order to accept that Reapers are so difficult to kill that we might as well consider it impossible, you would have to ignore everything that the first game tells you about why they are dangerous.

A Mass Effect 2 where you try to discover just what happened during previous Reapings while warding off sabotage attempts from indoctrinated agents and Plan B from leftover altered prothean slaves would have been preferable to the one where the government disowns you for no reason, your stealth ship gets discovered for no reason, you die for no reason, you have to play guidance counselor for 10-12 dysfunctional "badasses" with daddy issues dreamed up by some fourteen-year-old, and then you go out to the boonies to kick the Wacky Wayside Tribe in the nads and have zero effect on the actual Reaper War.

Yumil Mad Archivist
Mad Archivist
Mar 14th 2019 at 2:23:34 PM

Thanks for the clarification.

and [awesome] to your post. The only thing is that I'd be much more charitable to the actual 2 we got because I reaaaaaallly dig the characters in 2 and the whole concept of building a team to pull a suicide mission. But I understand that this story should not have been a followup to the story of the first game.

Edited by Yumil on Mar 14th 2019 at 10:28:27 AM

"when you stare too long into the abyss, Xehanort takes advantage of the distraction to break into your house and steal all your shit."
Mar 14th 2019 at 2:43:45 PM

I also found Mass Effect 2's Heinleinian level glorification of humanity to be kind of dumb. Somehow humans are the most genetically and mentally diverse species in the galaxy (despite the fact we have fairly low levels of genetic diversity compared to other creatures on our own planet) and the pro-human terrorist organization Cerberus are now good guys. They didn't given give off pro-human vibes in the original game, they were specifically given that trait in 2. It's basically making the space KKK out to be heroic!

Protagonist506 from 'MURICA Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Mar 14th 2019 at 3:01:26 PM

It's worth noting that Cerberus is not portrayed outright positively in ME 2. They're Villain Protagonists who are allies of convenience with Shepard.

To be fair, there is a Misaimed Fandom and I would say that's arguably due to bad writing in ME 2. The basic issue is that Cerberus, while evil, is the only organization that actually has a serious plan to stop the Reapers at that point in time and wants to help you. By contrast, the actual good guys of the setting (The Council and The Alliance) are completely unhelpful and do everything they can to dismiss you. For example, in ME 1 the Council will criticize your decision to kill the Rachni Queen and will criticize your decision to save her.

I think it's fair to say that your story might have an issue when the villains of it are far more helpful and reasonable than what it tries to portray as the actual good guys.

"Any campaign world where an orc samurai can leap off a landcruiser to fight a herd of Bulbasaurs will always have my vote of confidence"
Mar 14th 2019 at 3:09:22 PM

It also says that if the Systems Alliance and Turian Hierarchy went to war, a chunk of the galaxy would have been devastated, even though humanity has only been in space for two decades and the first game's codex stated our economy was smaller than that of the Elcor.

Mar 14th 2019 at 5:44:47 PM

Cerberus may not have been portrayed outright positively in 2, but it was definitely portrayed as primarily positive. Being the only group to care about stopping the Reapers will do that.

Which is why they should have dropped the Cerberus plotline to start with, or simply have made them one of several questlines. Maybe have them be some Alliance black ops group that you need to help (or destroy), and then there's an indoctrinated infiltrator trying to sabotage their research, or something.

I hated like at least half the characters in 2 who weren't Tali and Garrus, and the rest were mostly characters I found...bland and unremarkable. Mordin was great as one of the few times they bring out someone to grant validity to the Renegade side, but then they wreck that with the "I regret everything" development in 3.

Mar 14th 2019 at 6:49:10 PM

They could have kept the Cerberus plot largely the same and made it dovetail with 3 much better, if they added a few things; first off, have Cerberus be clearly bad guys doing bad things for (supposedly) noble reasons. Have the game make a stronger point about that, with Ken + Gabby initially, then Jacob and eventually Miranda confiding in you their increasing doubts about Cerberus as the game progresses and your team grows together.

Second, have Cerberus not be the only organization taking the Reapers seriously-have Hackett contact Shephard directly while they are on a mission, very early in the game, outside of surveillance range of EDI/Cerberus and lay out a new Status Quo: people in power are taking the Reaper threat seriously, but the Council has instituted a moratorium on the subject in an attempt to quell panic. Either because the other 3 council races worry that their lack of ability to resist will invite increasingly desperate actions as the galaxy prepares to fight a Hopeless War, stuff like researching AI, a cure for the Genophage, making another attempt to clone Rachni, uplifting Yahg, and a general list of very bad ideas. Or because the Human Council is worried that gearing up for a galactic scale war will incite the already pissed alien races into doing something stupid, like try to reassert control of Citadel space through violence. Make there be actual reasons the Council seems like they stuck their heads in the sand, and equally clear that people like Hackett, Anderson, the Specters, and STG are working in secret to do what they can; and that they view Cerberus as either a wild card or possible fifth column that needs to be dealt with before the Reapers arrive. Hackett essentially gives you a new, Alliance sanctioned mission; post facto legitimacy to your actions, and you are now an Alliance operative planted in Cerberus, evaluating the organization. Your mission is to see what, if anything, can be salvaged from Cerberus, and gather as much data as you can so the Alliance with be able to burn it down in short order when you are finished.

Paragon Shephard wants to save the decent people and get them out before the house burns down; the Paragon ending is you burning the Collector base for a whole host of moral reasons, plus the practical one of denying it to Cerberus. Renegade Shephard is initially interested is salvaging the organization and ensuring the tech and knowledge will benefit Humanity, but loses faith in TIM-so they radiation pulse the base and bank on the Alliance getting set up there before Cerberus can, while telling TIM to take a hike. 3 will reveal Cerberus conquered the Omega system and reached the base right after the Reapers hit the galaxy; after the Alliance had cut a deal with Aria, but just before they copied the Reaper IFF protocols for other ships without the Game-Breaker of EDI.

Finally, make the Suicide Mission the second-to-last mission, and make Arrival the true ending and part of the base game, not DLC. After the Suicide Mission, EDI dumps the data she salvaged and brings to your attention the importance of some imminent issue with the Alpha Relay; during the debrief, Hackett tells you other intel led him to send a team there as part of his anti-Reaper initiative, and wants you to go there immediately and make contact. From there, Arrival plays out the same, except for a Wham Shot halfway through-once you escape, an intercepted message from EDI regarding the analyzed info dump lets you know the Reapers are mere hours away from the Relay. The ending cinematic with the Reaper fleet descending on the Milky Way? A video clip from the Collector Base info dated 2+ years ago, with the fleet on the move since you destroyed Sovereign.

Edited by ViperMagnum357 on Mar 14th 2019 at 9:50:33 AM

Mar 15th 2019 at 1:06:42 AM

ME-2 runs into a major problem in that 3/4ths of the game is recruitment and loyalty missions. The suicide mission is also set up early on, which makes the big reveal of the Collectors as husk-Protheans feel more incidental rather than story altering.

One thing that bugged me was that they never really explained why the Illusive Man was so adamant about bringing Shepard back exactly as they were, making it seem like Shepard alone was needed to face the Reapers (an absurd premise, really, since they are just one person). Though after already playing through ME-3 once, I played a second time buying "From Ashes" dlc and it gave the closest answer, Shepard was still impacted by the Prothean beacon, which is what makes them a unique person with high strategic value.

Mar 15th 2019 at 1:28:24 AM

See things like this make me sad that games are so hard to make. Want to try a different story? Fanfic fix ! But a game? I'm actually a little sad I cant ever have a go at these reimaginings.

What this does show is that bioware is possibly the exception for the most part - able to pull a cohesive (for the most part) story out of a collaborative process with loads of moving parts and opinions.

ME 2, 3 and andromeda seem to have more gritty vibes to them compared to the more optimistic ideal of me1. 2 still had a positive theme of hope and redemption - so I quite like the point of a series remaining true to its core themes to maintain a consistent rapport with the fans.

Yumil Mad Archivist
Mad Archivist
Mar 15th 2019 at 2:21:22 AM

[up][up]I thought the rationale behind it was that the entire point to bring Shepard back from the dead was his supposed value as an asset against the reapers, and that things like putting him on a leash with the control chip would just make him less effective at being himself and as such reduce its value.

"when you stare too long into the abyss, Xehanort takes advantage of the distraction to break into your house and steal all your shit."
Mar 15th 2019 at 10:13:05 AM

Re: Shepard must be brought back exactly as they were - I'm sure someone on the writing team thought "hey, that'll make TIM a real good whatchamacallit to the Reapers, where just like they can't indoctrinate their agents too much or they'll lose effectiveness, TIM can't put a control chip in you lest you lose effectiveness. Foil! That's what it's called. TIM is a foil to the Reapers. Champagne and strippers all around!"

That, and they were working with this "Shepard is a bloody icon" thing (which Young goes into as a thing that works for an independent game but not as a follow-up to Mass Effect 1), in addition to wanting to give you that wham moment of "did we just die in the intro" without having to actually change anything.

Re: 2's improvements Yes, I would concur that anything that pulls the story back to Shepard's primary mission is working with the Council/Alliance to stop the Reapers would be an improvement. There's a reason why I immediately changed back to the Alliance dress uniform instead of the Cerberus branded underarmour upon starting 3.

2 definitely needed more content focused on preparing against the Reapers. That most of 2 was recruitment and resolving daddy issues also undermines the whole synthetics vs organics theme in 3, because at this point, the meat vs metal debate is like 10% of the plot, and all of a sudden we're supposed to accept that this somewhat generic setup for a sci-fi setting is the focus of the series as a whole?

Mar 15th 2019 at 10:21:34 AM

There is this weird... anti singularity feeling from a lot of the Bioware writers. As in any AI that is positive is an EXCEPTION not the rule. Or they're intelligent sex bots. Heck, Dr Eva Core was implied to be something of a companion for TIM as well! Which is CREEPY AF.

The direction appears to have gone down a rabbit hole; I'd actually equate ME 2 to DA 2 in tonal shift. Both were grittier; both had smaller foci; both focused on a damaged set of deeply written companions.

And both had barely any impact on the wider arc, aside from introducing a slim plot thread. For DA 2 it was the Red Lyrium; for ME 2 it was what the Reapers actually DO. And neither was massively expanded upon in their follow up.

DA: I learned from Mass Effect's mistakes though - where 3 had a limited impact, the War Table gave an illusion of choice - those "big decisions" opening up little choices here and there. Even if the ending battle was equally as lackluster.

I'm actually tempted to try a re-write of ME 2 to bring it in line that would better suit 3. And as for 3, the Crucible actually does work as a device - it's the catalyst that's the issue. We could've had an amazing boss fight across the Citadel, with harbinger in the background. A mirror to Sovereign but with better technology.

Mar 15th 2019 at 6:02:33 PM

2 definitely needed more content focused on preparing against the Reapers. That most of 2 was recruitment and resolving daddy issues also undermines the whole synthetics vs organics theme in 3, because at this point, the meat vs metal debate is like 10% of the plot, and all of a sudden we're supposed to accept that this somewhat generic setup for a sci-fi setting is the focus of the series as a whole?

There is this weird... anti singularity feeling from a lot of the Bioware writers. As in any AI that is positive is an EXCEPTION not the rule.

The whole "synthetics will always rise to destroy organics" thing that ME3 pushed so hard felt extremely contrived to me, since literally every single instance of synthetic life in Mass Effect portrayed it as just trying to survive organics attempting to wipe them out.

Even in Mass Effect 3 itself: the geth are more sympathetic than ever, and Javik mentions another race of synthetics from his time that the protheans wiped out because the reapers enslaved them.

Like, there's not a single instance anywhere in the trilogy of synthetic life antagonizing organic life that wasn't a direct response to a threat organic life posed to them. Except for the catalyst, who's the one that insists this is a thing.

Night Vision Image Quality Cleanup
Mar 15th 2019 at 6:21:43 PM

The Leviathan mention that being a problem for their thrall races.

The Leviathan are also a walking god complex, and the catalyst and the reapers are operating under faulty logic, based on them.

So, all in all, the issue is some wannabe deity cuttlefish fucking the galaxy for over a billion years.

FrozenWolf2 Avatar of War from Have you seen me?
Avatar of War
Mar 15th 2019 at 6:54:55 PM

The Geth suffered from being someone in the writing rooms PET race with the amount of backpedaling used to make them "oh so innocent they didn't mean to kill all of you"

The most dodgey is the whole memory flashback when it very clear Legion or The VI is controlling what you see specifically to make the Geth seem like 100% Victims

"Why are you the Quarians in their suits?"

"Have you ever seen a Quarian outside of their suit"

-having romanced Tali- "Yes"

... -Can't go into the long spill about is translating the data in a way you can understand and use the excuse that your brain is just filtering the Quarians into suits... Even though thats not how data works-

"But old memories seldom fade and bad habits die hard."
Mar 15th 2019 at 8:29:56 PM

[up] Even in Mass Effect 1, the geth are implied to be somewhat sympathetic. Tali's own retelling of the Geth War paints the geth as only trying to defend themselves, which you have the option to call her out on. ME2 and ME3 just confirmed and elaborated on this.

The quarians still being in their suits in the flashbacks is almost certainly just laziness on the developers' part, with a clumsy Hand Wave. I wouldn't read too much into it. The photo of Tali out of her suit was literally just a stock photo with a purple filter over it.

Night Vision Image Quality Cleanup
SpookyMask Insert title from Corner in round room Relationship Status: Non-Canon
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Mar 15th 2019 at 11:32:34 PM

Geth are out of character in ME 3 for different reason :p

Also I'm just annoyed they didn't go with original concept art for Tali's face because they were obsessed with ensuring she looks pretty (after thinking people can't find her pretty because of alien legs. What the heck bioware?)

Time to change the style, for now
Mar 15th 2019 at 11:45:48 PM

Shepard as some sort of ordained Washington or Churchill figure is the problem, as it's assuming that A) there is no one else who could step up in their place and B) people can determine such important figures in the moment rather than retroactively. That's why the Prothean connection makes more sense, as it is something with unique and strategic value.

Shepard's death and resurrection never really sat well with me anyway, mostly for how extreme it was (there shouldn't really be a body left to resurrect if he got spaced and went through planetary re-entry). I think it was done more for the shock factor, so little is done with the implications he might as well have been captured, frozen and later thawed.

I think the real issue behind the Get is that they functionally end up informing the greater conflict with the Reapers, and so when the Reaper motivation is revealed we've already covered the topic rather well. I think that issue lays more on ME-1 for not establishing the Geth as much more than robots to shoot at. We get talking points backstory, but nothing that makes them relatable. Of course, that's part of what made Legion such a good character.

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