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Games Of March 2013: Mass Effect 3: Citadel

Mass Effect finally gets a fitting farewell.

By John Teti • April 17, 2013

Did you miss the first installment of this month’s Digest, in which we dissected BioShock Infinite? Imagine your good fortune—the episode is still available online!

It was the final moment for an icon of science fiction, and fans were angry. They wanted a fitting sendoff for the characters they’d grown to love—a sense that their journey mattered. What they got instead was an ending that came out of nowhere and was distressingly pat about what had come before. I’m referring, of course, to the final episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. But now that I think about it, Mass Effect had kind of a similar deal, didn’t it? Well, in any case, the Citadel expansion gives players one last visit with their crewmates from the Normandy. Drew Toal joined me to eat a pineapple donut and to discuss this poignant farewell to the Mass Effect trilogy.

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  • PaganPoet

    Did anyone else actually do all the 180-whatever pull ups with James watching? I feel embarrassed about it, but I did, hoping something was going to happen. Nothing did.

    I also played Shepard as a male (my “canon” Shepard, at least), but I’ll still refer to her as her. That’s how we do, yeah? She done already done HAD herses! Oh no she better don’t! 

    • http://twitter.com/Gerardi Matt Gerardi

      Don’t worry. I fell for the pull-up challenge too. 

    • Fluka

      Same, but only on the second time through.  It was…pretty much what I expected.  But I still feel stupid.

      I never got around to finishing the Mirror Match challenge in the combat arena, though.  To say nothing of the “Glitch” match…

    • O Superman

      The first time I watched the “She done already done had herses” clip, I was like “Oh that’s too bad, Delta got it wron- WAIT WHAT”

    • stuporfluous

      i heard tell on other random gamer sites that doing all 183 pull-ups demonstrated the kind of bull-headed stubbornness that made Shepard exactly the kind of hero needed when faced with the kind of overwhelming opposition presented by the reapers. or something.

    • KidvanDanzig

      I can’t just not accept a challenge from a video game character, what sort of man do you take me for

    • Thats_A_Paddlin

      I didn’t do it the first time, but did it the second time.  I was determined to do it without looking it up on the internet whether or not anything happened, and then nothing happened, and I felt pretty stupid.

  • Jackbert

    Good lord. I just imagined a man with John Teti’s current hair and Drew Toal’s former mustache. Now that would be a 1970s game show host. 

    • Effigy_Power

      I feel like buying a vowel or spinning some sort of wheel.

      • Asinus

        It’s a show where people guess phrases…!
        There’s a wheel… people might win a fortune…
        PASS PASS!!!

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I feel like Drew lost a coin flip: heads, he had to shave his mustache; tails, his fiancée had to grow a mustache. It landed heads.

  • OhHaiMark

    It’s such a conundrum, the fact that these shooting-heavy games are becoming mundane as you say. Tomb Raider is another strong example. I wish that you could skip most of the fighting and falling and near-dying and just explore caves. If they were to make an expansion for that game, I’d hope it was an extended set of tombs to raid. It probably won’t be, but there’s hope.

    The Citadel expansion reminded me of that. I like the shooting mechanics in Mass Effect 2 and 3 a lot, but it’s only thrilling for so long.  The quiet moments in the Citadel, or those spent in the lower decks of the Normandy were my favorite parts of the Mass Effect games. Seeing the characters moving about the ship, with things to say to me as new events happened was just so engaging. You could spend the whole game without really talking to any of them, but then you’d just feel so lonely.

    I also miss the solitude of exploring planets like in Mass Effect 1, even if the driving mechanics were wretched. Many nights were spent combing over the surface of a planet in a distant area of the galaxy.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Bad news: Tomb Raider is getting only multiplayer DLC.

      While I quite enjoyed the game’s combat, I did want to explore more, well, tombs. I had hoped for some sort of “challenge tomb” DLC. Alas, it will not be.

      • Eco1970

        Tomb Raider made me angry. It wasn’t Tomb Raider. It was uncharted in a ponytail. Wave after wave of wankers, stupid xp system, pointless mechanics (“shoot your arrow at a wall to distract guards…er, just this one time when we introduce the mechanic, then never again”). Awful, awful game. The contempt I have for the devs reaches volumes unmatched by even Contemptor, the God of Contempt, when he was feeling especially contemptuous about Contemptibulus, the Patron Saint of the Contemptible.

        • OhHaiMark

           I don’t know if I can really say the game is awful. It’s just sorta…there. Except the tombs. I like exploring, and I like vivid game-worlds and it had those…sort of?

        • Eco1970

          It also had an insane amount of brainless goons in the endless funnelked shooty bits. I call these guys ‘waves of wankers’ because they usually come in waves (and more waves than I find acceptable), and they annoy the crap out of me. Like wankers. Obe of my overridingvthoughts whilst playing it was ‘how many goddam ships must have bern shipwrecked here? This is ridiculous’. The average cargo ship’s got a crew of 15-25 apparently. I killed hundreds of wankers even before I got to the undead zombie samurai guys. Utterly stupid. Needs moar tomb raiding.

      • OhHaiMark

        Damnnnnn it.

        It was a fine game, I guess. I’m working my way through it and continuously searching for tombs instead of finishing the game. It’s the Tomb Raider equivalent of repeatedly talking to your Mass Effect crew-mates even though you know they aren’t gonna say anything more.

    • His_Space_Holiness

      I have this same problem with a lot of games. I would love to hang out in these interesting worlds and control these various characters, but if all I’m doing is shooting guys, I’m checking out. I just don’t like shooting all that much as a game mechanic, and it’s the dominant form right now.

      • OhHaiMark

         No kidding. I don’t mind integrated shooting mechanics, but the transfer from exploring and living in the game world to shooting segments is rarely seamless.

        Perhaps this is just a growing period, a feeling out to see how to make it seamless?

        • KidvanDanzig

          In terms of game design, dialogue and the like have generally been considered a minigame in the same way that, say, lockpicking in Fallout or Skyrim is a minigame. It exists separately from the primary gameplay (ie the action). 

          Leaked footage of Obsidian’s canceled Aliens RPG showed that they were working on an ambient dialogue system that would have bridged the two game elements – basically instead of parking and talking in the manner of pretty much all RPGs prior, dialogue in the Aliens game was designed to take place during exploration or even possibly combat, with no interruption.

          Then SEGA started to lose its financial footing and they canceled it.

      • The Guilty Party

        I don’t mind, as long as it is relatively easy (or can be set to be), because I’m not so good at it. :P

      • AxlProse

        It’s such a shame that there are no resources to find out which games have shooting or not!

        • His_Space_Holiness

          Ah, I seem to have created the mistaken impression that I buy games without knowing anything about them. All evidence to the contrary, however, I happen to not be a complete idiot. What I’m talking about is that my aversion to shooters means that I don’t buy games that I otherwise might, mister sarcasm pants.

        • AxlProse

           @His_Space_Holiness:disqus Mister Sarcasm Pants should be my new username from now on.

          Anyway, I think that an RPG-action-shooter needs shooty bits, because if they’re difficult enough they create their own sort of tension. if you’re just walking around talking all the time you miss out on that sort of visceral tension.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

         I just finished Bioshock Infinite and found myself wishing that I didn’t have to actually fight anyone.  The world is so interesting and pretty to look at.

      • William Miller

        ME3 did suffer from one of the worst non-shooting bits in an FPS though. The dream sequences were unbearable (even though they only lasted for a minute or so a piece).

  • Effigy_Power

    Okay, since this is likely the last time GS will have a Mass Effect article, at least until the MMO, the cereal, the shooter, the space simulator and the FarmVille: Feros DLC, I will venture something positive for a change.

    Mass Effect, for better or worse, has to be rated as one of the most influential gaming franchises ever, if not THE most influential. Bioware went for broke and through that shook up the action RPG genre to such a degree that ME is being copied left, right and center, down to the radial UI.
    Great voice-acting has been done, which has certainly elevated the production value of gaming as a whole, though sadly probably also the production costs and thereby sale expectations.
    The game wavered between amazing RPG and mundane SciFi shooter, but more often than not kept on the positive side of things.
    While the plot was a bit here and there, the characters certainly were written really well, even if the visualization still mostly followed Hollywood appearance standards.
    And even in times of being a wall-hugging shooter, I can’t pretend that the game wasn’t almost always entertaining and in the end a good game, with occasional moments of outright genius. The resolution of Project Overlord, the Rogue AI on the Moon, the Shadow Broker’s lair… Certainly the series has more than enough amazing drama in it to plaster over the seams.

    I for one am glad I played pretty much all of ME (this DLC not yet included) and that’s the last thing on GS I shall say about ME, which should now die. ^_^

    Apart from Stew Bum’s screenshots of Miranda’s butt. Keep those coming. And maybe Miranda cosplay. You don’t need to know that.

    • PaganPoet

      Just to add to your perversion there shoe-horned in at the end, I want you all to know that #kaidanpornweek is something that happened on the internets the first week of April. Please don’t press me on how I know that.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        I knew about Kaidan Porn Week. I don’t even know how I knew, but I did. Rule 34, thou art an insidious beast.

        • PaganPoet

          YAS!! dat biotic booty!

          (I’m sorry, y’all, but I’m two whiskys deep; it’s hard to keep the pervert in check at this point of my drunkenness; let me have another and I’ll just have to go to bed.)

    • HobbesMkii

       I hope the character artist on Miranda got a raise when ME2 did so well.

      • PaganPoet

        Tourism to Australia rose by nearly 200%

    • Fluka

      Wait, Stew Bum does Miranda cosplay?  

      Also, agreed on all counts.  It may not be perfect, and I’m ready to move on, but I’ve definitely gotten more out of Mass Effect than I have any other game series.  And hey, the ME3 Digest last year got me to register for Gameological, so there’s that too!

      Now where’s Dragon Age 3?!  I have a need for more fangirlism and Internet Arguments!

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Something about the juxtaposition of Miranda, whose copious ass-ets drew a fair amount of press and criticism on the game’s release, with the phrase “Stew Bum” just gave the latter a really, really disgusting new connotation I’d never considered before.

        • PaganPoet

          Maybe Miranda’s character designer was just trying to pay tribute to Australia’s most famous butt.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m disappointed that that link is not actually a link.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          You know what makes a case of “Stew Bum,” like a jillion times worse? A hermetically-sealed, skintight sci-fi jumpsuit.

        • PaganPoet

          Link fixed

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          How the hell could I have not predicted that that was a link to Kylie?

        • Effigy_Power

          Well, it’s that or Crocodile Dundee.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Whoa, let’s not get crazy here. Here‘s a recent GamesRadar list of what they thought were the most influential games (not series) that I thought was quite decent, although too US-centric. And it’s missing titles like Ultima, Dragon Quest, Xevious, Gradius, A-Train, Dragon Buster and whatnot. I’m not even convinced Mass Effect has a shot at Top 100. At least not yet, of course.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        The Mass Effect series has had a huge influence on the way people discuss games. As for its gameplay, it’s hard to compare it to those early classics. Super Mario Bros.  was a deep, original game that spawned all sorts of blatant copies, but it also inspired people to make their own deep, original games. So far, all we’ve seen from the descendants of Mass Effect is blatant copying. The deep, original games will likely emerge in time.  

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          What are some of the descendants of Mass Effect you’re talking about? Do other recent CRPGs (like Skyrim or Fallout or whatever) owe it a great debt, or are there some slavish Mass Effect rip-offs out there I haven’t heard of because I’m kind of clueless?

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus : I was referring more to the copying of superficial elements (radial UI) that Effigy Power alluded to in her original post.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @twitter-493417375:disqus Ah, having played on PC, the only ‘radial UI’ I was familiar with was the conversation selector (which I’ve only seen appropriated in the most recent Sam & Max season and nowhere else), but it looks like the console games have a neat Secret of Mana -style radial combat menu. Has that been used in a lot of other games since?

        • Destroy Him My Robots

          I really don’t know what impact Mass Effect supposedly had on the way people discuss games. I guess analyses have moved out of the GameFAQs ghetto in recent years, but I’d chalk that up to correlation rather than causation unless I had a good reason to think otherwise.

          As for its influence on other games: Which ones? I guess there’s Alpha Protocol and that’s all I can come up with. Admittedly I may be playing the wrong games. The only other games I can come up with that use a radial UI are Secret of Mana and the dialog wheel in the 3rd season of Telltale’s Sam & Max. The latter is definitely taken from Mass Effect, but *shrug* big deal. Even if it’s in a lot of games, surely we can agree that in terms of importance “Selecting stuff with an analog stick is now slightly more comfortable” is way, way below “You can use an analog stick to move around in a 3D space” for example.

          Really, the one major aspect where I think Mass Effect was groundbreaking is that it made romancing/banging video game characters socially acceptable in the West. That could be a big one. We’ll see how influential it’ll prove.

        • Professor_Cuntburglar

           Deus Ex: HR is more than a little Mass Effect-y.

        • The Guilty Party

          I think Mass Effect, and Bioware games in general, have popularized the concept of ‘yes, you can spend a lot of time telling a story and talking to people and customers will still buy your game and they will expect some level of story in other games’.

        • KidvanDanzig

          @twitter-493417375:disqus  I don’t think I’d credit Mass Effect with UI innovations like radial menus, those were a natural consequence of developers designing (relatively) complex command systems around console controllers instead of keyboards. Bioshock came out a few months before Mass Effect and featured similar radial menus for its weapons and plasmids

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Yeah…Because I haven’t been able to play a lot of AAA games of this past gen (owning a Wii and having an older computer until recently), and what big games I do play, I tend to play well after release, and asynchronously, I wasn’t sure if I just wasn’t in a good place to recognize the significant influence of Mass Effect that Eff describes (since I haven’t encountered the linear progression of big-name games that followed it). But I’m legitimately curious if it actually has been terribly influential. Now that I’m playing the game, I can’t really see a lot in it that I’ve seen in many other games. I imagine it didn’t pioneer the cover-based shooting that I hear it shares with a lot of games this gen, and a lot of the other mechanics seem like iterations of prior Bioware stuff. I wouldn’t say Mass Effect defined a genre like most truly “most influential games” did (I would venture that the most recent game to do so is probably Minecraft?).

        • fieldafar

          Influential enough to spawn a legion of copycat games? Maybe or maybe not.

          Influential enough to set debates on a whole range of issues and discussions on gaming itself, enough so that future games are subtly affected thanks to the results (or lack of) of those arguments? I’d say so. 

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          I agree that Mass Effect’s innovations were largely iterative. It didn’t create any new game mechanics, but it did combine existing game mechanics in a new way.

          - The exploration and diplomacy elements are similar to the “Star Control” series.

          - Cover-based shooters were a dime-a-dozen, even when the first game came out.

          - The RPG elements are very much in the Bioware tradition.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @twitter-493417375:disqus Yeah, exactly. It feels much more to me like a very highly influenced game than an influential one. I don’t really see a lot of Mass Effect copycats out there, though I do see a lot of games that share elements of it, because Mass Effect is kind of a slush pile of bog-standard contemporary game mechanics (juxtaposed in a fairly singular way).

        • Destroy Him My Robots

          @fieldafar:disqus Well, we’ll see. I’m not playing favorites here. If I were, I’d rather have Mass Effect on the list than Farmville, of course. But Farmville is able to make a solid case for its influence without resorting to crystal gazing, and that’s what matters.

      • KidvanDanzig

        For some reason it still bugs me that Half-Life tends to get rated for FPS design ideas that originated in System Shock. Technically it was its own marvel (seamless levels were especially a thing), but the immersive FPS thing existed prior. And that’s not even taking into account things like found diaries and audiologs.

    • Bad Horse

      Mass Effect has no real imitators so far, I guarantee it. If it did, I’d already own them and have played them 3 times by now instead of doing the complete ME trilogy again with a slightly different class and set of choices.

  • HobbesMkii

     *GASP*
    “Teti doesn’t play FemShep”
    *readies good non-FemShep player stoning rock*
    “Oh…he told me not to get mad…well, I guess I’ll give him a pass…this time…”
    *grudgingly discards rock*

    • Effigy_Power

      I am tempted, but then a paranoid feminist rant against the person who feeds Soupy doesn’t seem like a good commenter-career choice.

      • IntotheNightSky

        Have you ever considered the self employment route?  You could go into comment consulting, or trading shares in comments.  Stick it to the Man.

      • Enkidum

        And your rants are generally depressingly sensible and non-paranoid. It’s like feminists aren’t all man-hating humourless knuckleheads or something.

        • Effigy_Power

          Oh you…

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        You could point your rage cannon at people who use the word ‘femshep.’

        Shepard is Shepard is Shepard. If you don’t call the male one ‘manshep,’ you shouldn’t be calling the female one ‘femshep,’ which seems to indicate that she’s a special case and somehow distinct from the ‘real’ Shepard.

        I’m not playing as ‘femshep’ or ‘the sheppette’ or whatever I’m playing as goldang Commander Shepard, fucking badass space hero. What she’s got in her space-pants is ancillary.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Actually, people do call the male one “ManShep” or “BroShep” and sometimes refer to the default male Shepard as “Sheploo” after Mark Vanderloo, the male model on which he’s based.

        • Simon Jones

           The issue is that Femshep is a thing that is both part of and seperate from the female shepard.

          It’s got a strong streak of Waifu-ism to it.

          And yeah, people do call dude shep Broshep.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Is there also a separate name for every other phenotypic variant? BlackShep, WhiteShep, BlondeShep, etc? Or is the decision to make your character female somehow more striking and of note than any other decision you make in character creation, and worthy of its own denotation?

        • Simon Jones

          So you’re determined to do a thing, are you?

          Okay.

          Mass Effect 1 was the game with the lesbian sex scene in it.

          I have suspicions that a certain amount of the Femshep thing was partially spawned from people rationalising they made a lady character so they could have lady sex with the blue girl.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          Gender is the single most important choice you make in character creation (with the possible exception of class) because it changes the relationships you can have with other characters.

          Black or white, you can still romance Ashley. A vagina, however, is a total deal-breaker.  

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @google-aa3d3e69ad6ac05b510b07fa7ce00830:disqus : You are producing a lot of enigmatic little isolated sentences, but it overall they seem to be conveying very little information. Vague blanket statements (“ thing that is both part of and seperate”) are left unelaborated, and jargon (“waifu”) is used in a way that seems mainly meaningful to yourself, mostly in passing and also unelaborated.

          As for the use of “broshep,” there’s hardly parity on that front. Clearly there’s a larger tendency to distinguish female versions of the character from the norm in a way that isn’t done with male versions, or with other physical or personality choices (there’s no SoleSurvivorShep or RenegadeShep, either, f’rinstance). It’s weird.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @twitter-493417375:disqus :
          I would venture that career choice is at least as important, as it effects combat and levelling gameplay through the entire game, while gender’s gameplay ramifications are largely relegated to the conversation-tree-dating-sim subgame.
          The backstory and psych profile also affect gameplay in a non-trivial way, making certain missions available and changing how stats level up.

          But none of those choices warrant an epithet (“EngiShep,” or whatever).

          Even if we accept your proposition that gender choice is inherently more significant than any other character choice, that doesn’t explain why one gender choice is demarcated by an othering epithet to a much higher degree than the other gender choice.

        • Enkidum

          Just to wade in – you’re right that the disproportionate use of “femshep” to indicate the female and just “shep” to indicate the male is symptomatic of, well, just the standard garden-variety sexism that infests the world. 

          But this is one of the cases where people are most definitely warranted in specifying gender – it absolutely matters what your shep has in its pants because that changes your gameplay experience quite a bit, and we are after all on a website that discusses gameplay experiences.

          So no, I think you’re just flat out wrong to get annoyed at people who use the word “femshep”, because it conveys useful and pertinent information. You should be annoyed at the fact that “shep” by itself is often taken to refer to the man (cf. the history of the word “man”), but like a lot of -isms, this is one that’s hard to pin down on any particular people or occasions – it’s something that bubbles up through the collective actions of thousands or millions of people.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Enkidum:disqus But, again, other character choices have arguably as much or more gameplay impact as gender, and, again, don’t get a special epithet.

          As you note, the fact that ‘femshep’ gets used to describe female Shepards and ‘shep’ gets used to describe perpetuates casual sexism, and I don’t think doing so is worth it just to be able to succinctly convey some information that is either irrelevant, or can be conveyed super easily in ways that don’t do that.

          It’s really not that important that the term you use to describe your Shepard contain information that I can use to discern what silly-dating-sim-conversation-trees you had available to you in your playthrough. Especially when that term is inherently problematic.

        • Enkidum

          Eh… I dunno, the notion that someone’s job or personality traits is as fundamental to their identity as their gender just seems wrong, at least for the vast majority of people, and certainly is not true in terms of Mass Effect.

          Playing as an adept or what have you changes the gameplay slightly, but has very little (if any? I dunno have only played ME1) impact on the “story”, which as John and Drew are kind of pointing out, is what many people really find special about ME. (Well, there’s lots of things that people find special about me, I suppose, but here it’s an acronym.)

          The paragon/renegade thing I suppose does matter to the story, but other than that there’s nothing which comes close to gender. And the paragon/renegade thing is a matter of hundreds of small choices you make throughout the game, whereas the gender is something you set at the beginning of this 200-hour odyssey of gaming that defines much of this odyssey. So the paragon/renegade thing is something you “do”, the gender thing is something you “are”. (Which, for all the valuable points about gender as performance and so forth, is not an entirely crazy or false notion.)You’re talking about something that literally closes off a large chunk of the possible gameplay and opens up other chunks, and these chunks are a big part of the attraction of the game to people. 

          With all due respect (which is plenty in this case), you don’t have much love for the dating sim aspect of the game, but that probably says as much about you as it does about the game. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t say all that much about either.)

          So is the language of femshep and broshep somewhat concerning? Yep, especially when “shep” = “broshep”. But… I just not on board with the claim that it’s inherently a bad thing and should be avoided.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Enkidum:disqus I think you’re overstating the amount of gameplay/story that the relationship component comprises. Unless ME3 has a 20-hour wedding planning sidequest, I don’t know how the relationship aspect “closes off a large chunk of gameplay.” (Or a much larger chunk than other choices, made before and during the game, that open or close different missions or abilities).
          And again, even if it did have major significance, I don’t think it would justify using the term.As far as sex/gender being fundamental to identity, and the way that maps onto the Mass Effect world, I don’t think I agree that it amounts to that much, either. Because of the limits of the gameplay mechanic/choice, there’s some muddying of the terminology and its unclear whether what is selected is really sex or gender, but I would suggest that biological sex, when weighed against social context, individual personality differences, and even adult vocation, has a vanishingly small influence on a person (stu dies in matrilineal societies indicate that traditionally sex linked traits have more in common with social position, and studies in contemporary Western culture indicate that there aren’t reliable gender-determinant psychological factors, and that what statistical trends do seem to correlate with sex/gender are much, much less influential factors than social factors and life experiences. e.g. Someone being raised by a family on a space station vs. being an orphan on Earth would have a much more significant impact on them than would whether they were a boy or girl).So with inherent sex traits set aside, we can focus on the social factors that dictate gendered behavior/experience, and, honestly, the Mass Effect universe (particularly human/citadel society) seems to occupy a kind of Starship Troopers post-gender society. My Shepard has never encountered (diegetic) sexism, or discussed how her gender has significantly affected her career or life experience. The only limits imposed on her as a result of her gender are those imposed non-diegetically by the game – e.g. certain romantic options are cordoned off based not on sexual preference but on gender identity. So the game does a weird double-move of effacing sexism within the game world (in doing so effacing a major component of the real difference of lived experience between men and women) while making use of a sexist mechanic to generate an artificial generalized difference between men and women. And just because the game uses a sexist mechanic to make the sex choice ‘meaningful’ doesn’t mean I’m excused in using sexist nomenclature to describe my character, even if that nomenclature is “informative.”

          “Femshep” is like “comedienne” or “actress” – it’s at best unnecessary, and at worst marginalizing. And the “extra information” folded into those words doesn’t really justify their use. Of course it’s not hate speech or whatever, but it’s still kind of crummy.

        • AxlProse

           Yeah you’re wrong, and also being a dick. Have a nice day.

        • Enkidum

          Mods have probably stopped reading at this point, but generally we try to be a little nicer to each other here @AxlProse:disqus . And if we’re not, they’ll just cut the aggressive comments, like, uh, that one.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Enkidum:disqus Obviously your well-thought-out, respectfully-presented arguments simply weren’t enough! Luckily this name-calling jerk swung in to put me in my place with a baseless knee-jerk argument! He really put together a convincing case.

        • William Miller

          I’m having trouble with the video and don’t really follow any other gaming sites so forgive me if this is a cliched comment but I just can’t stand the male Shepard’s voice acting. Also @twitter-493417375:disqus Ashley is hot (especially in ME3) but I can’t stand her character. I usually keep her alive over Kaidan but then I feel guilty later on. Traynor is almost always my romance pick.

  • Professor_Cuntburglar

    I finally got playing through ME3 recently, and I have to say, I like the ending. If anything, it was good yet flawed; I have no idea how everyone thought it was literally the worst thing ever. At some point I’m gonna write up a detailed explanation why (cause I enjoy that sort of thing) but basically I thought it fit in with the rest of the series perfectly in terms of gameplay. You spend the rest of all three games going through dialogue menus and making seemingly important decisions that often don’t have a big effect on the overall story. What was everyone expecting?

    (and no, not liking the choices you’re given isn’t a valid critique. Neither is “you were just picking between 3 colors!”)

    • Juan_Carlo

      The ending was awesome.  Like, it totally blew me away on a sort of emotional gut punch level.  Immediately after finishing it I rushed to the forums to declare my love only to find everyone bashing it.  It really is odd.

      But I actually see it as one of my favorite video game endings ever.  I’d acknowledge that they may have botched some of the exposition and execution slightly, but I think it got all the big emotional beats perfect and it had a bunch of really memorable moments.

      • DrFlimFlam

        Definitely. I beat ME3 the night before I went on family vacation last year, and I’m glad that’s when I did it; crossing half the country and doing things actually got my mind off of an ending that laid me low. I seriously felt changed by the fact that the game was over, and spending a week with no way to think about it too much was the best.

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        Same here.  I heard some of the complaints before I got to the end, but nothing specific.  I loved MY ending, and it wasn’t until I read the details on the color-swap endings that I understood how some people were upset.

        I still felt no need to go back and replay with the revised ending or Citadel DLC.  My personal Shepard’s saga is complete.

        • Professor_Cuntburglar

           My Shephard died as he lived, accidentally picking the opposite choice from what he actually wanted.

        • BillyNerdass

          I had a similar experience with the ending. I knew nothing more than the fact that it was really pissing people off. I seem to love shit that gets everyone up in arms, so I was expecting to really love the ending. But when I got to it all I could think was, “that’s what’s pissing people off?”

        • DrFlimFlam

          Prof, I did the same. I retconned it in my mind, but they really didn’t explain my choice well. It was tonally accurate for my Shepard to do, but at the same time, my Shepard was going to try to be selfish for once and damn the torpedoes. Instead, he became an eternal RoboGod.

    • OhHaiMark

       I liked it too. I was surprised that it got so much hate too. It was such a strange thing, and it really made me question the nature of games and how we consider them critically.

      I dunno.

    • Captain Internet

      In 20 years time, when public services have fallen under full corporate control, EA PRESENTS: “This house believes that the Mass Effect 3 ending was actually pretty good” will be the most requested motion for High School debate teams across the world.

    • fieldafar

      I wasn’t angry at the ME3 ending, just a little disappointed. I even got caught up in the whole “Retake Mass Effect” thing for a little bit, but when I realised that… maybe it’s for the best. I mean, like @Juan_Carlo:disqus said, there was genuine emotion underneath a patchy exposition. I now fully accept the ending, even if I’m still a tad let down.

      And perhaps those who were upset at what happened just haven’t accepted the fact that Shep’s story has ended at last. 

    • Halloween_Jack

      The basic problem with the original ending was that it was a 2001 ending to a space opera, which simply doesn’t work. Worst thing ever? I don’t think so, personally, but it clearly could have been better. Most importantly, and something that the 180-degree-turn of opinion from fandom upon the release of the Citadel DLC has generally shown (with the exception of some holdouts at Hold the Line), people wanted a better resolution to the relationships built up over the series than a quickie holo-phone call before the final battle. 

      • Professor_Cuntburglar

         That makes sense, but at the same time, I think it helped give you a better sense of isolation. Sometimes you don’t get to say goodbye to everyone you want to before the end.

    • Xtracurlyfries

      Alright, I’ll bite since no-one else has. HERE BE SPOILERS.

      I was angered by the ending. Having such a massive (and literal!) Deux Ex Machina that had little to no foreshadowing felt completely unearned.  I didn’t mind that Shepard might have to die, frankly I expected that. And right up until Anderson died, I thought everything was fantastic. But to have such a great saga, and moreover one that revolves around giving the player choices, resolved in a couple of minutes with a random little kid
      giving you no choices at all just pissed me off. Not to mention the huge number of things crammed in there at the end that just made no sense.

      To me, it really felt like a fantastic series had the last 5 minutes taken over by a committee of people who hadn’t followed anything up to that point. It was as if, at the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke dies in the exploding Death Star because the Emporer’s previously-unseen cousin stops him from getting onto a ship. And then Chewbacca and all the Ewoks explode because the Death Star has a previously unknown ability to kill all fuzzy lifeforms when it is destroyed.  (Though, if someone wants to make an animation of that, I’d be fine with it.)

      • Professor_Cuntburglar

         But… the Crucible is discovered like right at the beginning of the game, and it makes it pretty clear that it is some sort of ancient magic beat-all-the-bad-guys machine. I like that there was no way to beat the reapers without making some sort of major sacrifice. Also the choices seemed pretty darn big and important to me.

      • lookatthisguy

        I wasn’t going to comment, given this is a week-old article that I’ve barely gotten around to watching/reading after completing Citadel, but this again? Deus ex machina it isn’t. As the Prof said, the Crucible is around for the whole game… it just turns out that what you thought was the Crucible actually isn’t the Crucible.  If anything, it’s a jarring plot twist.

        Actually, that’s exactly what it is. I think some people just couldn’t handle the jar.

    • AmaltheaElanor

      It makes me so happy to hear you say this.  After the game came out last year, I spent time in forums where declaring you liked the ending would’ve about gotten you lynched.  It’s one thing to hate the ending to a game – it is a whole other thing to start campaigns against the company that made the game and make anyone on the other side of the issue into a pariah.

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

         I found the original ending rather satisfying, personally.  Sure, I didn’t get to become God-Emperor of Space, but I did what I set out to do, as I’d said at the beginning of the game: stop the Reapers, no matter the cost.

        That I might have died (I didn’t, I had one last, closing gasp) at the end was fitting.  That I may have been stranded on the blasted remains of Earth, with no way to return to space, I was fine with.  That the galaxy may have been doomed to recreate the Mass Effect technology that permitted FTL travel was out of my reach to do anything about.

        I did my job, I stopped the Reapers, and I was totally fine with that.

        • neodocT

           Sometimes I think I should have chosen that option. MyShep just integrated with everyone. Creeper…

    • KidvanDanzig

      Real talk, ME3 would have been like 90% better if they had just gotten rid of that fucking nameless Canadian white child. It was an awful, rancid piece of nakedly and embarrassingly inept hack writing that infected the core plotline and tried to brute-force its way into actual pathos. It’s seriously like a plot device from a Glee episode wandered into the wrong property. I replayed the game recently and was all “hey this is still fun” until the dream sequences started showing up, like 20-minute jazz improv sessions in the middle of a hardcore punk album, killing the momentum of the game and curdling its tone.
      Really, outside of the Tuchanka portion of the game and some of the ME2 character resolutions, the quality of ME3′s writing sees a pretty significant drop from its predecessors. They rushed themselves but they also just kind of… weren’t good writers (see: Pinocchio geth).

      2 ironclad reasons that Mass Effect 3′s core questline is miserable hackwork:
      1) Nameless Canadian White Boy Who Represents All of Humanity in Dreams (you scoff as though I were being glib, but that’s his true hanar soul name)
      2) Kai Leng. KAI LENG

      Somebody on twitter (or was it here?) concocted the theory that Shepard has the reaction s/he does to the nameless boy because ME is actually a Children of Men dystopia in which no children exist, except this one boy. Have you seen a child other than that one???

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

         Tali’s a teenager, or the equivalent thereof, for her species when you first meet her in ME1.  You learn more about Quarian children in ME2, though that may depend on your relationship with Tali.  Liara is a late-teen/early-20-something amongst the Asari when you meet her in ME1, commenting that she’s considered barely more than a child amongst her race for being only 100.

        • csm5673

           Tali is actually around 24-25. Born in 2161

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

           Bit late to be starting her pilgrimage, then, don’t you think?

          Hmm, actually, that puts a whole new spin on her story.  Maybe she was a crushing disappointment to her father, and that is why he immersed himself in his work, becoming distant and cold, eventually identifying with the emotionless shells that were the Geth.

      • csm5673

         The Starchild isn’t real.

  • IntotheNightSky

    Perhaps someone who’s purchased this can let me know, but is it possible to play this DLC from the save immediately before the final mission?  If I recall correctly, and spoilers by the way, the citadel had been vanished away by that point.  While I’m not exactly inclined to play through the game again, I would love a chance to go on a romp with some old friends.

    Thanks in advance to anyone with the straight dope.

    • Fluka

      Is that after the Cerberus Base?  Then unfortunately, I think the only place you can go is Earth.  Otherwise, though, a save right before Chronos Station (which is where the game restarts and autosaves after you finish Earth) is exactly the right place to play it, when all the characters are available.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Wait – does this mean this “new ending” DLC can’t actually be played from “the end” of the game? That seems weird.

        • Histamiini

          It’s not a new ending.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          Toal and Teti refer to it as an “ending”, but it takes place chronologically in the middle of the game.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @twitter-493417375:disqus : That’s weird… Why do they call it an ending – is it an error on their part, or does it serve some sort of ending-like closure function? (Was it designed as a sort of panacea for the reportedly unsatisfying ending?)

          Not yet being in ME3, and having heard vaguely about the ending controversy and “extended cut” and so on, I assumed that this was somehow related to that, based on the description here.

        • PaganPoet

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus It’s either because the episode has been confirmed as the last ME3 DLC, or it’s because the mood of it in general feels like a “goodbye” to all the characters we’ve come to know over the course of the trilogy. Or both.

        • Halloween_Jack

          “ending-like closure function” is correct. 

        • Thats_A_Paddlin

           It’s not weird if your Shepard dies.  It’s closure before the final battle.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      In order to play the Citadel DLC, you need a save file after Tuchanka, but before the assault on the Illusive Man’s base. (Once you beat the game, it takes you back to just before that assault.) 

      • Halloween_Jack

        Also, too, if you want the maximum number of people at the party, it should be done after Horizon, as that’s when Miranda becomes available. 

      • KidvanDanzig

        I’m pretty sure the starting point was the coup attempt by Cerberus, not the completion of the Tuchanka missions.

    • KidvanDanzig

      The game generates a “final save” before the assault on the Cerberus Base for this express purpose. If you want the maximum amount of content to show up in the DLC, you have to start it after you’ve investigated Sanctuary (that’s assuming Miranda lived, which she probably did because she’s notoriously hard to kill in ME2).

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

         Um, I killed her in ME2…I didn’t mean to!  She was with me during the final boss and I didn’t have enough Paragon or Renegade to calm down her fight with Jack, so I sided with Jack.  But everyone lived on my second playthrough.

        • KidvanDanzig

          I think the rep is more for “let’s kill everyone but Shepard” fuckup playthroughs. The algorithms that determine who dies and when always place her at the bottom of the list for whatever reason (I think also that maybe she can only be killed in a few sequences), so in a lot of cases situations she ends up surviving where it seems like she should die. 

          This is reflected in the released ME2 plot stats that show a huge majority (~85%) of players saw her live even when they didn’t know enough or didn’t care to do any loyalty missions at all, which is a substantial number.

  • Fluka

    Aw man!  I’d finally managed to get over my crippling Mass Effect obsession, and now you guys are dragging me back in!  Oh, okay, one last time, if you insist.

    Two amazing things about this DLC.  First, it actually does feel like The End.  I have no desire for any more Mass Effect, and now that I’ve put both my Shepards through it, I really feel like their stories are well and truly over.  

    Second, there’s just so much of it!  The banter and jokes seem to change drastically based on who you have in the party.  I went with Liara and a romanced Garrus the first time, resulting in a lot of ME in-jokes from previous games (and, uh horny Garrus dialogue).  But for my second, renegade run, I had Javik most of the time, resulting in a lot of hilariously trollish, unimpressed moments, and one moment of pure (super-spoilery) Renegade Glee.  Also a good surprise: bringing EDI back on the Normandy mission.  Different dialogue also seems to trigger for different combinations of people at both parties.  I’ve still yet to play with Wrex, either.  So many iterations.  It’s fanservice upon fanservice upon fanservice, all the way down.

    Some tiny great moments:
    - Javik, boogying down
    - Everything involving Grunt. Everything.
    - Dancing vorcha in the elevator.  I wish I could invite him in.
    - Zaeed and Garrus, home security
    - Paragon interrupt for EDI and the sportscar

    Also, goddamn I want to live in that apartment.  Those were some nice bathrooms.

    • Juan_Carlo

      I have a weird thing about video game apartments too.  I remember really wanting to live in a few of the Alpha Protocol apartments.

      • Travis Stewart

        Those things were gorgeous and surprisingly memorable, to the point where I wished there was more to do in them.

    • Drew Toal

      Two things that got edited out of this Digest:

      1) My boundless amusement at Javik wrapped around the toilet muttering about ruling the galaxy.

      2) Taking Wrex to the party in his finest Krogan prom tux.

      • http://twitter.com/Gerardi Matt Gerardi

        One thing not mentioned in The Digest or during shooting: Mordin’s PDA. 

        • Fluka

          Please do not make me start crying again.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      The size of that apartment seems large for a military officer, but don’t forget that Anderson was a politician for two years. Depending on your choice at the end of the first Mass Effect, Anderson was either the most powerful human alive or the SECOND most powerful human alive.

    • AmaltheaElanor

      I forgot about the successive Renegade prompts (and Javik’s “Finally!”)  That was awesome.

      My favorite moment was Shephard obsessing about “Is that how I sound?” after my clone locked us in the archives, said, “I should go” and left.  I love that I was even given a dialogue prompt about *how* I could obsess.

      Also, using Traynor’s toothbrush to infiltrate the Normandy.  That one had me rolling on the floor.

      Plus, what I also love about the DLC is that not only did it keep giving me more and more after I had completed the mission and held the party – giving me additional meet-ups with each major character – but I’m pretty sure there’s stuff I missed or didn’t get a chance to experience because of who was in my party, etc. and that there will be more to discover the next time I play through.

      • Fluka

        I think all my favorite self-effacing jokes in this DLC were the ones making fun of the Paragon and Renegade interrupts and choices.  Including a dialogue choice which really perfectly sums up the entirety of Mass Effect’s moral system:
        Paragon: “I will end you.”
        Renegade: “I will end you painfully.”

        • Jackbert

          That was my favorite joke of the DLC! I also loved the sheer absurdity of the renegade interrupts available right after that dialogue choice.

          “I’ll rip off your head…AND MOUNT IT ON MY DESK…AND FLING IT OUT THE WINDOW!!!”

      • PaganPoet

        I somehow missed all the Kasumi interactions. I’m gonna have to replay it because I loves me some Kasumi.

    • lookatthisguy

      There was that Tarantino-esque (for want of a better descriptor) editing when Traynor encounters her nemesis at that one game… that one had me laughing pretty hard. And there were a couple pretty obvious Star Wars references that were amusing (the salarian referring to an “elegant weapon,” for instance).

      But I think my favorite self-effacing jokes are actually the jokes about the multiplayer: the people standing around on the Citadel having conversations about their own contributions to saving the galaxy which are clearly references to certain types of multiplayer players that other multiplayer players ostensibly would complain about (people that go running off lone wolf instead of helping with objectives, and other stuff I can’t remember off the top of my head).

      It was pretty clear the DLC was meant to be the nightcap for the devs and serious fans—let off some steam, have some fun, and get some fan-service character closure. I’ve been sad all week since finishing it. Opened up old wounds, I guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

    I have never played Mass Effect and yet i have fapped to Rule 34 of it.

    Should i play the entire trilogy or should i just play ME1 & maybe ME2 and avoid ME3 according to /v/?

    • PaganPoet

      No, play all three. ME3′s ending is a bit hollow, true, but it’s nowhere near as bad as they would have you believe. It’s an easier pill to swallow if you consider ME3 as a whole as the ending to the series, and not just the final 15 minutes.

      • IntotheNightSky

        The resolution to the Geth-Quarian conflict, in particular, was profoundly satisfying in my playthrough. 

        I think it does depend a lot on one’s own personal preferences though.  If you’re someone who absolutely abhors an incoherent plot, perhaps ME3 isn’t right for you.  If you’re the kind of person who could tolerate the failings of something like Looper, ME3′s definitely worth at least one spin around the block.

      • DrFlimFlam

        That right there. Mass Effect is the conclusion of both the story and all of the choices you’ve made over the 40+ hours BEFORE it. So many people wanted a tailor-made ending when the entire game is colored with your previous decisions.

    • Juan_Carlo

      Yes, play them.  Cumulatively, the are like one of the best SCIFI TV series ever.  

      Plus, opinions on the ending are by no means unanimous.  I know plenty of people who quite like the ending (in fact, I actually thought that ME3 was the best overall game of the series.  And even if you hate it, it’s definitely the darkest, so you kind of have to give it some credit for bucking the trends of your typical 3rd installment in a trilogy).

    • Simon Jones

      ME3 is a perfectly fine game. Not as good as 2 but probably better than 1. You should play it.

      But!

      It suffers a bit from Bioware buying into the hype that they’re  great storytellers instead of having a writing room filled with people with unpublishable 90′s style multi-volume fantasy epics mouldering on a hard drive somewhere.

      So they overreach a bit.

      Not as badly as they did on Dragon Age 2, but they didn’t really have the chops to bring together all those plot threads together in a way which would have satisfied the majority of the audience. Not that anyone really could have to be honest. Which would have been fine if they hadn’t made such a big deal of carrying your character through and chose probably the worst way to implement a resolution.

      Also, your party has nearly every actually fun character taken out. Leaving only 2 Immoens, Garrus who is boring, Boring Racist Lady or Even More Boring Psychic Dude, Fuckbot and some guy from Gears of War.

      • The Guilty Party

        You… you don’t like Garrus? I don’t think my mom wants me to hang out with you anymore.

        • Simon Jones

           Actually, yeah. That is unfair. I do like Garrus.

      • Simon Jones

         In all fairness, I should probably also note that Mass Effect 2 is very, very good with it and Dragon Age: Origins probably being pretty much the peak of Bioware style RPG’s.

      • Roswulf

        Simon, I wonder if you could expand a little bit on the “two Imoen’s point,” which you have made before.

        Obviously Tali, Liara, and Imoen share the traits of “small females,” but I question whether there are all that many similarities beyond that. And I’m…uncomfortable with the idea that there should be a cap on small women. So what defines Imoen-ness to you?

        To me, Imoen is defined in Baldur’s Gate by her relationship with the protagonist. She is the childhood companion, and as is later revealed, she is related by blood to her bestest buddy. She is also irritatingly chipper. And she said Heya and giggled way too much.

        By Mass Effect 3, Tali and Liara are strikingly NOT defined by relationship with Shep. The Shadow Broker and Admiral responsibilities create a very different relationship with our protagonist. As opposed to ME1, they are no longer damsels in distress to be saved but valuable allies with independent power bases (I think the Tali-Imoen connection in ME1 is very strong BTW). Heck, Tali left to her own devices creates her own romance.

        Nor- and some of this follows from the darkness of ME3′s plot- are Liara and Tali particularly chipper through most of the final game. Instead they are burdened with angstiness, and not the Imoen in BG2 angst of having something awful done to them but the very different angst of having massive responsibilities to society.

        Also, they never announce “I’m Imoen!” so you know they aren’t Imoen.

        To be clear, I don’t in any way want to imply that you are wrong to dislike the two characters. I’d trade the pair of ‘em for Mordin in an instant. I’m just questioning whether, in an industry that so frequently handles gender appallingly, we should be dismissing characters as “all the same” on heavily gendered grounds

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        Your brief descriptions remind me of my favorite group description – The Black Eyed Peas, first heard by me on The AV Club:  “Hologram Man, Meth Lady, The Other Guy, & The Other Other Guy, Inc.”

        • Halloween_Jack

          I made a similar comment on the ME subreddit about why Garrus had the least baggage of anyone who is or was on your crew; I don’t really hate anyone on the list (even Jacob, who could have been written much, much better), but even for someone who’s got the names of all his dead vigilante squad written on his Kuwashii Visor (Sidonis’ is scratched out), Garrus is the most straight-up hardcore motherfucker of them all. 

      • Halloween_Jack

        One of the problems (which the Citadel DLC did much to address) is that the devs seemed to feel that ME2 changed too much of ME1, and so they brought your ME1 crew back (swapping Wrex out for James), without retaining any new squaddie from ME2, except for EDI in her new chassis. It really seemed kind of dumb that Liara gave up the Shadow Broker’s ship (somehow managing to stuff everything she needed to continue in that role in Miranda’s old office), but when you asked everyone from ME2 if they’d join you, they were all like, meh, I’m good. (At least they could have thrown in another mission or two with Samara or Jack and her Biotic Scouts.) 

        • PaganPoet

          The following post is somewhat spoilery, so read with care.

          I think it was done that way since depending on your actions in ME2, it’s possible for any and all of your squadmates to be dead.
          I was actually thinking about this the other day. If you make really poor gameplay decisions and don’t have the Javik DLC, by the end of ME3, you could have only 3 squadmates to choose from.

        • KidvanDanzig

          This irritation is compounded by the fact that the Virmire survivor is out of commission for damn near half the game and thus suffers for further characterization. I don’t know why they thought that was a good idea.

        • Halloween_Jack

          @KidvanDanzig:disqus : IKR? My theory is that some character intros in the games are delayed so that you’ll give other characters in the same class a try first: Liara requires a lengthier and more difficult mission to recruit in the first game so that people play Kaidan as their biotic, Tali is delayed in the second so that people bring Mordin along for a little while, and Ashley is taken out of commission to promote James as your go-to soldier. Could be true. 

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

         Your party can consist of people you didn’t get killed in previous chapters of the game or, if you’re going in with no previous save-file, those who “canonically” survived ME1 and ME2′s Suicide Mission.

        In my original play-through of ME3, Ashley was dead, Jack was dead, Wrex was dead, and Legion was dead.

        • DrFlimFlam

          In my original play-through of ME3, only Kaidan was dead, and I’d forgotten he was ever alive.

          As it should be.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

        I just did a second playthrough and let Kaidan live instead of Ashley just to do something different, and boy did I regret it.  It was even worse because I played straight Renegade and he complained about everything I did.

        • lookatthisguy

          Good to know, since I want to start a second playthrough and go Renegade, and know I want to try at least once as Female Shepard (I figure Jennifer Hale put in all the work; I want to see how she compares to Meer), but can’t decide if I really want to sacrifice Ashley. Kaidan never really did enough to impress me… maybe I’ll just decide in the heat of the moment.

    • OhHaiMark

       Absolutely play them all, the series is enormous in scope and often beautiful.

      Frankly, I would disregard what everyone says about the third game and play it. It’s goddamn great. People say to avoid it because of the final 15 minutes but that’s completely dismissive of the utterly excellent first 98% of the game.

      • DrFlimFlam

        My only problem with ME3 is how unrelentingly dark it is. It’s tonally accurate (this is the final battle, the Ragnarok, if you will), but it’s so unceasingly grim. I still love it, but I like ME2 better because it’s just a bit more fun to be around.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      As I understand it (only being partway through ME2 myself), 3 is the game that strikes the balance between the excesses of the first two games – it might not be the one to leave out, honestly.
      The first game is a very Bioware CRPG, with all the pluses and minuses that come with it – and the addition of irritating constant organization of equipment and inventory using an awful UI, and some boring driving and shooting bits that remind me of GTAIV.
      The second game shaves off a lot of that CRPG complexity, becoming more of a mission-based space-shooter, which you might not find compelling if you came in expecting an RPG. It does a much better job of integrating characterization of your party into the missions, though.
      As I understand it, 3 reintroduces some of the RPG-style complexity of stats/equipment/sidequests etc. but in a more streamlined way than ME1.

      There is a possibility that I may not go on to ME3, but that’s not because of hearing whining about the ending or hearing anything about it being a not so great entry in the series. Mainly it’s because I’m so far kind of nonplussed by the series, and the jury’s still out for me on the “necessary time investment / how much of my time is this really worth” ratio (as well as the fact that I got 1 and 2 on sale, whereas 3 is still newish and expensiveish and will make me install Origin and ugh).

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        The console versions of ME3 are down to $20 these days, so the PC version should drop soon.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Well, what do you know?

          Though, you wouldn’t happen to know if the “Digital Deluxe Edition” is actually worth 10 bucks more, would you?

        • Fluka

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus Does the Digital Deluxe Edition contain Javik?  Then $10 is mostly just the added price of Javik (but he costs $10 normally).  I think that’s the digital version of the collector’s edition.  There’s a bunch of extra crap (soundtrack, art book, etc.), plus some extra outfits for Shepard and the squad, and a surprisingly disappointing robot dog.  Javik’s pretty awesome though, it’s worth noting.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Fluka:disqus It is, indeed, the “Ashes to Ashes” DLC, which includes Javik, and seems like a pretty integral/important addition.

    • HobbesMkii

      I feel like we’re all just letting the first part of this response go by. I’m not sure I’m the person to address it, but I will say the games are less fappable than your average issue of Maxim.

      • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

        Nah, i feel like it’s more fappable than your average issue of Maxim.

        I am into alien girls after all.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Maxim has way fewer tentacles, for one.

      • PaganPoet

        Far more fappable for some of us. Two of the main male characters are based off of fashion models. One of whom is also openly gay.

  • Fluka

    Questions for those that have finished the DLC:
    - Quiet party or Loud party?
    - What class were you playing in the final boss fight?

    My answers: Rager all the way!  And Vanguard, with was an utter pain in the ass.  I feel bad for all those people my Shepard has fought over the years…

    • Jackbert

      RAGER VANGUARD YEAH!

      I got smashed and smashed things with Krogans. The boss wasn’t too bad, reave charge nova charge repeating works pretty well for…anything.

    • PaganPoet

      Carlos was Infiltrator, Charlotte was Sentinel. I love being a Infiltrator, but I’m loving Sentinel much much less. Mostly because I think Tech Armor sucks ass. Why would I want some stupid ass shit slowing down my power usage? Hells to the no!

      I definitely threw a rager too, I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t call C-Sec on me. I’m sure I would have torn up James’s eggs the morning after.

      • Fluka

        But are you making sure to always detonate your tech armor?  

        SUGGESTIVE SPOILER HERE 
        What does the nega-Sentinel have for their powers, anyway?  For Vanguard, I got frikkin charge ‘n nova’d!  It was surprising!  
        END SPOILER

      • DrFlimFlam

        Crazy, my classes are the same. Infiltrator first, which honestly I felt was kind of a disappointment of a class, at least in the games, and Claire is a Sentinel because I loved it in ME3 and I’m hoping for some carryover.

        What I wouldn’t give for the N7 Paladin as a playable class in the stories. Just a badass power class. Very different from the “hide and shoot powers with pistols” of my character.

    • Simon Jones

      Loud party. Because I am gonna shoot motherfucking squid robots in their motherfucking face and there will be noise.

      Soldier.

      Because I was a soldier in the first game.

      Which wouldn’t be a thing except they’ve managed to make the class duller with each successive game until his only real advantage was being able to carry all the guns.

      Which would be great if Assault rifle wasn’t the answer to every single problem.

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

         To be fair, in almost any situation where guns are involved, you’re really hard-pressed to top an easily-wielded, high-capacity weapon with burst-fire mode.

    • dmikester

      Oh, totally a rager.  I didn’t want to let Wrex and Grunt down (not to mention Jack)!  And yeah, a boring Soldier.  In my second playthrough, I’ll definitely play as a class that’s a little more complex.

    • Thats_A_Paddlin

      First time – Rager/Infiltrator
      Second time – Quiet/Vanguard

    • William Miller

      Vanguard is the only way to go in ME3. I usually play sentinel in ME2 and any class works for ME1 once you’ve unlocked the assault rifle but I like the increased combat speed of vanguards in 3.

  • Liebheart

    Oh men.I haven’t played Citadel. Don’t tell me; Sheppard was dead during the whole trilogy. He/she didn’t really survived that attack in Akuze.
    Oh, the horror, the horror!!!

    • PaganPoet

      The call was coming from inside the Citadel!!!!

      (hehe, no tea, no shade, but that’s actually not too far off from the twist from ME1, amirite, brahs?)

    • DrFlimFlam

      No. Let’s just say that if you want to stop the Reapers, you have to kill your younger self.

  • Eco1970

    ME just passed me by, which is weird since I loved KOTOR, for example. I read reviews of ME1 when it came out and was put off my its difficulty, so never played it. I borrowed ME2 off a friend, and I got as far as some planet where you have to join some soldiers or something and go find some guy who’s holed up as some sort of resistance leader and apparently you know him already or something and then you’re up on this bLcony and waves of wankers attack you.

    And then I was on this big ship and i could wander around and talk to people but they were all saying variations on ‘ooh, everyone thought you were dead, it’s great to be working with the hero of Aldebaran’ or whatever, and I felt like I’d arrived late to the party.

    If the cover system had been better, maybe I’d have persevered, but it’s doubtful.

    No idea about ME3 at all.

    • Halloween_Jack

      And then I was on this big ship and i could wander around and talk to people but they were all saying variations on ‘ooh, everyone thought you were dead, it’s great to be working with the hero of Aldebaran’ or whatever, and I felt like I’d arrived late to the party.

      So, not a fan of Escape from New York, I’m guessing.

      • Eco1970

        Au contraire, I like EfNY very much, although it’s a very long time since I last saw it, so I suspect I’m missing your connection.

        • Halloween_Jack

          Snake starts the movie with a considerable back story that’s never completely filled in; you never find out, for example, why everyone thought he was dead, or whatever happened to Fresno Bob (the former partner of Snake and Brain, aka Harold); I understand that there were some deleted scenes that filled a little of that in, but the story worked pretty well without it. I felt the same way about ME2, which I played through before picking up ME1 as a sort of prequel. 

          Similarly, the thing about meeting up with Garrus without having had the ME1 experience (ditto with Wrex, Liara, the Virmire survivor, etc.) has a lot of precedence with the trope Putting the Band Back Together[TVTropes]; quite a few stories actually start with someone going around and meeting members of the old gang and seeing who’s gotten on with their lives (Liara, Wrex, Virmire Survivor, Anderson) and who’s game for a new adventure (Garrus, Tali eventually). I mean, obviously, if that’s not your thing, then that’s not your thing, but I kind of liked occasionally running into someone who had some history with my character and could even fill in a few things. (One of the things that can help is that there is an interactive-comic DLC thing, Genesis (and now Genesis 2, for people that want to start with the third game) that can give more backstory and also let you make some of the choices from ME1 that affect the later games; in particular, there’s one choice that determines whether you meet Wrex in ME2 or his brother.) 

        • Eco1970

          ‘Putting the Band back together’ as done on the Blues Brothers, for example, is great. I’m aware of the trope and I understand and appreciate well-done assumed but not explained backstories. ‘It’s not your thing’ is not applicable to me. But the characters in ME2 just didn’t grab me at all. Comparing them to Snake just reinforces my ‘meh’.

          Also, ME2 is actually a sequel. Escape From New York isn’t.

  • Enkidum

    So you feel like a more dialogue-y version of ME with less of the shooter stuff stringing together the more Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stuff (in a good way, being snarky but not disparaging about it). Doesn’t that kind of sound like The Walking Dead, maybe with a little more action-y elements every now and then?

    I’m currently playing through Episode 2 of The Walking Dead and am impressed with how they use dialogue trees, and follow ME in having permanent choices that actually matter. (Although SPOILER ALERT I THINK I’m a bit less impressed with the growing realization that I’m not going to get supper and this is all kind of Texas Chainsaw Massacre-ish and my air force buddy is what’s for dinner, and I wish southerners weren’t always portrayed as cannibals. Haven’t opened that barn door yet but I’m pretty sure, at any rate.)

    Anyways, I think that idea (making ME more like an action-y Walking Dead with a dating sim somehow attached) would be kind of cool, maybe? But it would be a very, very different game, and I dunno if there’s a market for it, at least not one that supports that kind of budget. 

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      I definitely felt like, among the many different sub-games Mass Effect shunted me between, (including poorly calibrated dating sim, GTA “interminable drive to warehouse to shoot stuff” sim, among other) that there were a definite “adventure game dialogue puzzle” moments (especially when playing as a charismatic Paragon who could talk her way out of fights), and some “Walking Dead”-style choices-with-consequences.

      However, whereas Walking Dead did a great job of presenting choices without a clear “right” or “good” option, Mass Effect seemed to rarely provide choices of that complexity, instead offering choices that had to fit into their binary “Paragon/Renegade” point system (and sometimes choices which were ambiguous seemed to be arbitrarily assigned Paragon or Renegade points, which was weird). It is still fairly interesting, though, seeing those choices from ME1 play out in ME2, though they don’t seem to have as much narrative relevance as Walking Dead (maybe simply by virtue of ME’s story having such a broad scope, the impacts of your decisions necessarily feel smaller – in WD choosing whether or not to give Clem a candy bar feels super-significant, while in ME the choice to have saved an entire species from extinction feels weirdly minor).

      Part of why I preferred Walking Dead was definitely the lack of samey shooty missions stringing things together. But I also think that its writing and characterization were much better, that the choices it provided were more complex and challenging, and that they were better integrated into the narrative.

    • Raging Bear

      I just finished that chapter, and thanks to the storied bugginess of the series, it refuses to recognize that I have a save full of choices to begin the next with, and offers to generate them randomly for me when starting 3. Good times.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Are you playing on Steam? The Steam version, for me, saved save games to a different directory than it read them from, which was seriously stupid (and also broke the end-of-episode stats 3 times out of 5), but a little Googling showed me where to copy files over to not lose my info. Your issue may be salvageable with a modicum of busywork (I’d fill you in right now, or provide a link, but it’s been ages and I don’t recall exactly what directories I had to work with).

        • Raging Bear

          I am on Steam, albeit Mac Steam, though I imagine it uses pretty much the same file structure on any platform. I will look into this matter, so thanks for the heads-up.

          Oddly, there was no problem going from episode 1 to 2. And when I load my save, I can look at the episode 2 page and click continue, which then swaps to episode 3, where clicking “play” gives me the “generate choices” option. So it’s as if it knows my save’s there and yet doesn’t at the same time.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Raging_Bear:disqus I actually had almost the exact same issue, where eps 1 and 2 transitioned seamlessly, but every other episode had the save importing bug (which I thought was because I downloaded eps 1 and 2 together, and the others ep by ep as they released – but apparently it’s still plaguing folks even though the whole series is out as a single entity).

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

           I believe that is because ME3 is actually installed and launched via the EA Origin platform, and the previous 2 were not.

      • Enkidum

        Had to delete and reinstall the game in order to even be able to get it to acknowledge that Episode 2 existed. It kept saying it was installed but wouldn’t give me the option of playing it.

  • dmikester

    Add me to the chorus of people who absolutely loved this DLC, especially everything after the main story missions, which had very funny dialogue but a pretty ho-hum story with an incredibly predictable “twist” at the end (though the main villain was actually kind of an interesting idea).  As Drew put it, the self-effacing humor of this DLC was so welcome and fun.

    What stunned me was just how much content there was (I think it took me about five hours to get through everything), especially all of the visits you could do with characters in the apartment and little side meetings you could have with characters throughout the Citadel, most of which felt really emotionally satisfying.  And of course, the party and the apartment were ridiculous, again with lots of content and very clever moments.  I think for both closure and sheer amount of content, this is the best DLC I’ve ever purchased for a game.  Besides, it led to my final moment in my first Mass Effect playthrough being my Shepard trying not to look at Traynor enjoying the hot tub in the apartment and her talking about adjustable massage wands; you can’t say that about every DLC.

    What I’ll be interested to experience is what happens when I play through the game again, but this time with the Citadel content happening before the standard ending.  While this felt like a proper ending, I wonder if there won’t be another kind of emotional poignancy having it all happen before going into the final series of missions.  Definitely something to look forward to.

    • Thats_A_Paddlin

       I tried to reply to you but it ended up posting by itself.  See my comment above.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    My favorite bit was the immediate cut at the end to Drew’s face full of doughnut.

    Also: Pineapple cake doughnuts sound so super amazing.

  • stakkalee

    I gotta say that @andrewtoal:disqus cleans up nice.  The grey suit, black shirt combo looks really good together and the maroon tie is a nice touch – understated like the rest of the outfit, but still providing a bit of color.  He barely looks like a writer at all!  Still, you guys are probably sitting there in your boxers, aren’t you?

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      This conversation raised a lot of important questions, the foremost of which is, “Whose hair is more muss-able in the above, and which intern gets that job?”

  • duwease

    I need, like, a week’s heads-up as to what’s going to be on the Digest so I know to put down what I’m currently enjoying and grab the new thing I planned on getting eventually anyway.  Any clues on the next one?  Antichamber?  Blood Dragon?

    • PaganPoet

      I hope they talk about Guacamelee.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      That’s a great idea. I should publicize the lineup in advance so that more people can be in on the conversation. I typically set the lineup a week before taping, so I’ll let everyone know on the Gameological Twitter thing next time.

      • duwease

         The service here is exquisite!  My compliments to the management.

        • PaganPoet

          Just tip your bartender.

      • Cloks

        As long as we’re suggesting site changes, have you thought about making reviews sort-able by platform?

        • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

          Yes. We’ve been tagging all reviews in the CMS for a couple of months now, in preparation for building out the front end of that feature.

  • Thats_A_Paddlin

     I played this DLC on my old save, and then played it again after a fresh playthrough of the trilogy, and it definitely enhances the experience.  My only nitpick is that it becomes available too early – it was just a little odd to have just spent a bunch of time at the Citadel, and then I get back on the ship and Admiral Hackett tells me that I need some R&R at the Citadel and the ship needs updating.