Companion Gaming - Mass Effect 3 pt. II

Posted on Fri 23 August 2013 in video games

I’ve been looking forward to this. Companion Gaming, the second edition.
After completion of Mass Effect 3 I was curious to get some more thoughts from my girlfriend as I myself have already written and talked extensively about Mass Effect ever since becoming fascinated by its first part.

I’ve published my thoughts about ME3 with my girlfriend last time. Consider this article an addendum to that post after having finished the game. So if you are interested I highly recommend reading part I and coming back. I’ll wait for you.

You’re back? Good. Let’s start this.

Impressions

There are many, many different characters with vastly differing personalities.

Yes, this is certainly true. On the other hand this is what I expect when playing a game that has its roots deeply in Role Playing Game territory. While not strictly an RPG it has many of its elements; especially part 3 is a lot closer to being an RPG than part 2; which was more of an RPGish shooter. A variety of interesting characters is one of the basic building elements of an RPG. RPGs are about character progression; not only in the numerical “Do X to level up” way but crucially about depicting a change in character when looking at the protagonists. A foundation of good storytelling is the theme of growing up, filling a role and fulfilling a special purpose. It’s hard to find a genre in which this theme is more important than RPGs.

The 'Destroy'-Ending is unsatisfying.

Yes, but there’s a reason I specifically chose this ending, even though I personally think that ‘Synthesis’ is how the story should end, because it’s a far more fitting conclusion to the events up to the final point. ‘Destroy’ is bad in a number of different ways, but mainly because it annihilates the newly brokered peace between Geth and Quarians due to indiscriminately eliminating all synthetic forms of life. I wanted to see Shepard alive after all the events. I wasn’t really ready to let go of the Commander that I’ve played for all those hours in all those years. Shepard would’ve chosen ‘Synthesis’ but some dumb reason I didn’t.

There were no little blue children.

Everyone got their hopes up when Liara and Shepard are talking about the little blue children in part 2 and even during the last sequences of part 3. None of those romantic fantasies containing little blue children came true. Which is a pity, to be honest and you should have a nice picture to improve your mood. Or another one of Shepard and Liara’s potential teen daughter. Overall a lot of people would’ve preferred a happy ending with a fitting conclusion to the overall story arc. That wasn’t what we got and it’s okay too. Game makers also enjoy artistic freedom and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The Extended Cut contained more explanatory content but didn’t change the endings’ effects. That’s how it should be else we set a precedent with unfortunate consequences. While players might have a say via community voting and similar processes during the development stage of a game, changing something afterwards because a majority didn’t like it is ridiculous and inconsequential. By the way, Krystian thinks a little different about the Extended Cut.

ME3 has lots of plot variety and choices. It is cool that most of the time you can achieve an optimum outcome.

Very true. For many squadmates your actions decide over their fate, whether they survive their individual ordeals and your choices decide how they deal with their individual struggles. You shape their lives as much as their companionship influences your Shepard’s quest. While I personally was very sad that it wasn’t possible to have everyone of my old and current team survive and achieve everything that I wanted to see from the narrative I also understand that there has to be drama and freedom to the story the writers create for a game like this. The central theme of war is by no means a friendly topic and to have everything (space-)magically work out without any casualties on your side even though the enemies are superior in strength as well as in numbers would make the game disconnected with what the story it aims to tell.

The Geth server level is amazing.

Hm, kind of. I mean, yes, all opinion is subjective and all that but given that the strengths of ME3 are its narrative and its combat system this non-combat sequence was surprisingly fun. Getting to know some of the Geths’ history in addition to a relaxing level which is fun to play without any of the stress of getting shot at certainly qualifies it as one of the highlights of the game when looking at original ideas.
Addendum: my girlfriend played this, as sort of a greater introduction to ME3’s controls and combat mechanics. I’d like to mention that this would’ve made for a great tutorial given that the true prologue featuring cannibals and husks makes for an introduction that might be perceived as too hectic.

Why aren't there more easy levels like this?

Well, because by default Mass Effect is not intended to be played on the ‘Narrative’ difficulty. If you’re only in for the story however, that is precisely the recommended setting. The Mass Effect wiki has an explanation on the ‘Narrative’ setting.

Citadel was hilarious.

Very true. The humorous aspects of Citadel cannot be overstated. There are so many puns, jokes and ridiculous situations crammed into this download of about 15€ as well as minigames and additional content and so much more that it’s hard not to recommend it. The writing is excellent - something that has to be expected when the Bioware writing team goes all hands on deck.

Your girlfriend is stupid. She keeps on saying the same things.

I had to chuckle when my girlfriend used these words to express her annoyance about the NPCs having limited lines which they repeat after having run out of special topics. Especially the romance options could’ve had more additional lines of dialogue. One can only hear “Nice to see you, Shepard” for so often before it’s too often. She also pointed out that it’s somewhat awkward to have the romance partners call your character ‘Shepard’ because you don’t call your significant other by their surname. Given that the player can choose the main character’s given name, introducing a - possibly gender-neutral - nickname per romance option would’ve improved dialogues and made them feel more intimate.

That's a crappy ending too!

Since the ‘Destroy’ ending wasn’t quite satisfying, we jumped on YouTube some days later and checked out the other two and a half endings; them being ‘Synthesis’, ‘Control’ and ‘Reject’. We both feel that, if given the presented four options are the only possible answers, ‘Synthesis’ is how the story should end. ‘Control’ isn’t too bad if your hero is on the paragon side while ‘Reject’ prompted above quote.

Conclusion

ME3 was fun (for the most parts) while it lasted. It has been suggested to me that a fourth part has been announced but I haven’t looked into it since I’m currently oversaturated with the ME universe. This should be the last Mass Effect related post for a while.
I’m already preparing the next Companion Gaming article - about Beyond Good and Evil HD which we’ve recently finished.

All those little blue children will be disappointed that I didn't have a speech. ~Liara