Folks, humanity has been counting down the days, and we've finally reached that inevitable moment: the Reapers are on the horizon, and will invade the planet Earth this March. Mass Effect 3 will be upon us, and all of the galaxy's Shepards - both male and female- will begin their journey to conclude the current gen's most definitive RPG franchise. This blog series will pay tribute to the franchise as we brace ourselves for the upcoming finale by chronicling my own journey and experiences with the Mass Effect series. We'll continue this series with a look at the moments in various assignments that I feel are underrated - emphasis on underrated - in the Mass Effect franchise. DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE REVIEW, SPOILERS MAY BE PRESENT.




This moment in Mass Effect 2 might be one that most players will encounter by accident; I know I did. This event happens in Omega, and isn't related to the story at all. Instead, Shepard's just taking a routine stroll through the clubs and ordering a drink from the local Batarian bartender Forvan. Suddenly, Shepard takes a dive after the first shot and we get a rather conspicuous shift to Forvan's smug demeanor.

You wake up outside, around a few human partygoers who are amazed that you're still alive. Surprised, they fill you in on the situation: Forvan hates humans for personal reasons and spikes their drinks with a lethal poison, and even killed a friend of theirs; except, he didn't kill you. So, you decide to pay this guy another visit. When you return, Forvan is naturally shocked, and here's where it gets interesting: Shepard can let the jerk leave; shoot him; rally the crowd - a Turian named Ogrinn eventually kills him - or you can force him to ingest the deadly liquid. Sounds like poetic justice to me.




Players will remember this Krogan Battlemaster that inhabits Omega, who once ruled Omega without equal. When Aria came, the two eventually developed a rivalry that ended in a failed assassination attempt. With Aria victorious, the fallen Krogan leader was given his title name as a sign of mockery, since it's completely meaningless to the Asari. As a result, Patriarch's lived in shame ever since as a trophy that reminded Aria's rivals of her power and influence, although he did later become one of her trusted advisors.

When you arrive on Omega however, mercenaries are trying to challenge Aria's dominance by assassinating Patriarch. She orders you to protect him; failure to do so will test her reputation. However, players have a chance to become Patriarch's krantt instead and take them out for him, allowing Patriarch to gain his dignity back. Shepard can also choose to incite the inner-warrior within Patriarch, sending him to face his assassins and die in a blaze of glory. Either way, players will have a chance to see Patriarch escape Aria's shadow and reclaim his honor as a Krogan.




This underrated moment occurs in the first entry in the Mass Effect franchise, and involves an unsolved case that haunts Garrus. Players interested will learn that the titular villain makes a fortune selling organs that he's grown inside of living patients, often people who are very impoverished. Garrus had tracked Saleon but was unable to capture him; he never stopped searching for the criminal though. As players learned, Saleon had changed his name to Dr. Heart and was holed up at a new station, the MSV Fedele. Garrus, of course, wanted to be there with you if you decided to pursue this lead.

Players found themselves fighting the deranged failures Saleon had been experimenting on when they arrived at his station. Once they reached him however, players were given a choice: they could allow Garrus to get his revenge, or they could convince Garrus to arrest him instead. Both scenarios ended up with Saleon dead after resisting anyway. Those who chose the high road, however, had a chance to see Garrus have an epiphany that would later encourage him to try to reapply for the Spectres.



This event also occurs in the first entry of Mass Effect, and presented one of the few dilemmas that weren't as easy to reconcile. Players who went to the Embassies after recruiting Tali would encounter Samesh Bhatia, a widower hoping to cremate his recently deceased wife, Nirali Bhatia. We soon learned that Samesh had not received his wife's body, and that the Alliance had not explained the delay; he asked Shepard to inquire about the issue with Clerk Bosker at the Embassy Lounge.

Those who did would learn that the situation was far from cut-and-dry: Nirali Bhatia, a member of the 212 regiment on Eden Prime, had sustained unique injuries that the Alliance hoped to study to gain a better understanding of Geth weaponry. Since such research would inevitably lead to fewer deaths, the information could prove invaluable - although it would most likely take many years for results. Releasing the body would naturally complicate this research. Shepard was then tasked with the choice of persuading - or coercing - Bosker to return Bhatia to her husband or convincing Samesh that the research would grant meaning to her sacrifice. While Samesh, as her husband, was clearly right idealistically, one could argue that Bosker's perspective had more pragmatic value. No matter what route you took, players were presented with a quandary worthy of debate and a mention in this blog.




This underrated moment happens in Jacob Taylor's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2. Jacob learns that the Hugo Gernsback, the ship his father - Ronald Taylor -was stationed on, recently put up its distress beacon. Interested in investigating the lead, Jacob convinces Shepard to travel to 2175 Aeia, where the ship crash landed. When players arrive however, things are far from expected; the survivors are deranged from being forced to eat the toxic food of the local flora, and all the male crewmen are feral and violent from being exiled, calling themselves "Hunters". The most critical details are worst, however.

Jacob discovers that his father, in spite of all that's happened to the crew, is alive and well, shielded by mechs that he uses to police the remaining colonists. Even worse: his father's been abusing his power for ten years and only recently activated the distress beacon when he finally began to lose control. Players battle through the crazed Hunters and soon reach Ronald Taylor himself, who's prepared a half-hearted excuse without even recognizing his son's presence.

After Jacob reveals himself and Ronald confesses, the player has the option to arrest him, leave him to the Hunters, and one final option. Shepard can watch as Jacob gives his father a weapon that's barely-charged and dares the man to own up to his responsibilities. As his father commits suicide, players are given a glimpse at Jacob that's a far cry from the mellow figure most are familiar with.




We're drawing closer to the end of this blog, and we visit yet another moment in Mass Effect 1 that I feel hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. This assignment is unlocked when you have at least eighty or ninety percent of your Paragon gauge filled. Shepard then will receive a message from Hackett outlining a hostage situation on the planet Chohe, of the Cacus system in the Hades Gamma cluster. However, like usual, the situation is far from routine: biotic fanatics have drugged the researchers there, who wander mindlessly throughout the facility; Hackett is relying on you to save them while avoiding any casualties.

Players will have to modify the settings for their squad so that they avoid recklessly using their powers, and with the right amount of care and precision - including multiple tries on harder difficulties - Shepard should come through victorious. Those who saved five civilians were granted an extra bonus and the privilege of knowing that they'd accomplished a feat that epitomizes the goals of a true Paragon.





This underrated moment also occurs in Mass Effect 1, and is among my personal favorites in the entire franchise. After you've completed one of the missions, you can return to the Citadel, where you'll find Rebekah Petrovsky and her brother in-law Michael Petrovosky arguing in front of a Rapid Transit Station. The issue? Rebekah's husband recently passed, and she's with child. The child apparently faces heart-related health risks and while Rebekah claims there are treatments available, they may not be effective. Michael Petrovsky claims that the gene therapy he wants her to use for the child is very effective; Rebekah however, is afraid of the long-term risks that might develop based on "extranet articles" she's read. Hmmm... As Shepard, it's your duty to help them resolve this matter.

To be honest, it's thorny material. It's naturally Rebekah's right as a mother to be wary of any procedure that influences a child's development while in utero, and the decision is something her brother-in-law has no business deciding for her. One could argue though, that the extranet sources she may be relying on - just like those who fail to question the claims of articles on the internet - probably are sensationalized. Since gene therapy is also a practice the Alliance offers its soldiers regularly, it could be possible that her grief and concern for her child's health may be coloring her understanding of the subject.

Like all predicaments you'll encounter in this game, however, it's up to you to make the definitive move. It's a potent issue that's especially relevant even in our time, and for that, this moment gets the #4 spot.



This underrated moment in Mass Effect 1 is only available to players who chose the "Colonist" background for their character. Upon returning to the Citadel, Shepard's contacted and informed of a highly unstable woman by the name of Talitha. Players eventually learn that she was a survivor of a Batarian raid on Mindoir, much like Shepard; Talitha, however, poses great danger to herself.

In this rather taut assignment, Shepard must carefully negotiate with Talitha, coaxing the woman while getting close enough to administer a sedative. If Shepard moves too quickly, Talitha will shoot herself. Instead, Shepard must draw from their similar experiences to convince Talitha to get the help she needs. Renegades can forgo the conversation altogether and have Talitha assassinated, but the real emotional draw from this powerful and often overlooked event comes when the player is patient.



This moment in Mass Effect 1 is perhaps the most difficult quandary players are faced with. Travel to the Ming system and players will find a derelict ship by the name of MSV Worthington. As with all deserted ships in Mass Effect, there's a pretty complicated dilemma awaiting players.

Once you arrive on-board, players will immediately notice from the numerous explosions in the cargo hold that someone doesn't want any company. Examining several logs that can be found in the different rooms of the ship will explain why: a patient in the medical bay is currently on life support and completely brain-dead. Named Jacob, the crew had decided to terminate his life support. However, his girlfriend Julia - who also happens to be a powerful biotic; go figure! - objected to this and became unstable, killing her crewmates to prevent them from terminating Jacob's life. Unfortunately, players would also face her in a short-lived battle.

When players examined the machine keeping Jacob alive with this knowledge, they had the option to preserve his life - knowing that he was never going to function again - or euthanize it, an equally difficult choice for moral and possibly ethical reasons. Regardless of what option you chose, a squadmate would reaffirm that your choice was the proper one, and no alignment points were given either way - most likely to avoid controversy. It's a situation that speaks to the innate desire within us all to preserve life, in contrast to the pragmatic, yet morally dubious alternative, and it succeeds without a hitch or deciding for us.



The number one underrated moment in the Mass Effect franchise occurs in the second entry, during an assignment you receive after completing a mission related to the Blue Suns. Shepard's informed that Batarians are holed up in an Alliance missile silo on the moon Franklin, orbiting the planet Watson in the Skepsis system. They apparently have fired two Javelin missiles at an Alliance colony, and it's up to Shepard to deactivate those missiles before they make impact. The problem? You only have five minutes.

Players will battle through legions of Batarians, including a Batarian Commander in areas that scarcely have places of cover while hacking into doors to gain access to move further. Players who pace themselves well and equip their squad appropriately however, should make it through to the control room within a decent amount of time. Yet, all is far from over.

You'll learn through EDI that only one of the missiles can be deactivated. Shepard will then have the burden of deciding which of the two targets will be sacrificed. If you spare the spaceport that's targeted, thousands will die in the residential district, but the colony nonetheless will survive. Choosing to spare the colony will destroy the space port and cripple the industrial sector, forcing the colony to evacuate. You don't receive alignment points for either choice, since both clearly suck and have serious ramifications, but as a true leader, Shepard must decide what's best through judgment and critical thinking. The assignment convincingly creates a moment of complete frustration with no easy solutions, and prepares us for the tough decisions we'll face later on.



I've shown you the moments that I've loved in the franchise so far that I consider to be underrated and of great significance. Perhaps, based on your outlook, yours will differ from mine, yet these choices are all aspects of what define us as leaders, and what better conduit than Shepard? Fans of the series will recognize that its multiplicities can present creative and engaging new ways to approach various issues, and that's an experience we'll continue to relish. Stay tuned for the next segment in our journey with Shepard.