In this latest segment of 30 Days of Mass Effect, we'll be covering a section that focuses on the underwhelming aspects of Mass Effect 3, be they plot or general story conventions. Some might agree while others will disagree and have their own examples to offer. I welcome the dialogue, so make sure to comment and remember to avoid this if you don't like spoilers.



7) Excessive Deaths (Melodrama)

Of course, I must be crazy not to expect people to die when they're in the middle of the greatest war the galaxy's ever seen, right? That, I have no problem with. In fact, deaths in meaningful events like these can be fulfilling and cathartic when the player has a bond with them. I think of Mordin's sacrifice being the best example of this. Yet, when every other character you run into is dropping like flies - especially in default playthroughs - the deaths of characters start to feel contrived. One of these moments occurred when I completed the final mission on Rannoch with Shala Raan (Tali had died in the Suicide Mission) and chose to sacrifice the Quarians in favor of the Geth. Like Tali, she committed suicide but I felt empty and unsatisfied instead. Given her strength of character from what we'd previously seen of her, Shala Raan seemed more likely to shove a gun into my face rather than kill herself. The death of the Primarch's son seemed believable, yet also felt equally contrived. There are some moments I appreciated though, such as the deaths of the squad you encountered on Thessia, Anderson, or the death of Eve - depending on whether you kept Maelon's data - and Tali.


6) Diana Allers

I absolutely detested every moment I had with this lady, and no, it wasn't because of her creepy facial animation. The obvious culprit in this case was her bland personality and equally bland voice actress. The acting was so terrible and jarring in fact, that serious moments - such as a conversation in which Allers reveals her homeworld was hit by the Reapers - were ruined entirely by the monotony of her voice, confusing me instead of engaging me. It was bad enough that they'd killed off Emily Wong, a reporter I was eagerly anticipating to see in the third game. Instead I was stuck with this lady on-board; strangely enough, I can't imagine why I haven't found the time to boot her off yet. It must be the five TMS points I get.


5) From Ashes

Everyone who's bought this DLC has obviously bought it for the character, and not the entertainment or replay value the mission offers players, which is practically nil. It's a shame, because the premise is so fascinating: help Liara uncover a secret Prothean artifact on Eden Prime; an artifact which happens to be an actual Prothean. It sounds like the recipe for an exotic set piece akin to the world of Ilos in the first game. Instead, we're treated to a rather uninspired camp that might as well have been ripped from Mass Effect 2 with hordes of Cerberus fodder comprising the basic conflict. The flashbacks players got to see were especially interesting, but they only raised more questions ("What happened to the place where Javik was originally stored?") than answers. With all the promise that the Leviathan DLC delivered, I'm glad Bioware learned from their mistakes.


4) "When Fire Burns, is it War?" (The Catalyst)

That tragicomically inept quote is actually uttered by the Catalyst in the newest version of the Extended Cut DLC. While it seemed like a fascinating idea to turn the Catalyst into a conscious entity that controlled the Reapers themselves, I couldn't help but feel shortchanged at how mundane the Reapers had become, robbed of the mystique we'd seen them accumulate in the first and, even to a lesser extent, the second game. Instead, we had "Starbrat", as critics have scathingly called the Catalyst, whose explanation for the problem of synthetic/organic conflict smacked of something ripped directly from Gurren Lagann - those who catch the reference get 100 internets - and whose solutions were far from original and moronically provincial. The ten minutes of dialogue after what was supposed to be the climax of the game also ruined one of the best moments in the series, and with lines as bad as the one I've just shown you, this new development in the story was far from welcome. Others may hate the endings - I don't have too much of a problem with them - but nothing concerning the final events of Mass Effect 3 troubles me more than this poorly written and underdeveloped plot device.


3) Cerberus

Yeah, I said it. I can't say I was very surprised that Cerberus went back to the same old antics we'd known them for in the third game, especially if you've followed the books in-between Mass Effect 2 and 3. However, I also can't help but admit that Bioware's choice to recast them as a primary antagonist alongside the Reaper threat was far too safe a route for them to take. Adding complexity to the conflict with Cerberus would've given the story the necessary nuance that it needed; TIM after all, isn't really evil in the conventional sense players would think of him. Making them a lot more competent than they were depicted would also have been nice; there were maybe two or three times where Cerberus actually had the upper hand in conflicts with Shepard, which drained any sense of tension or anticipation from encounters with them. I honestly wanted to see Kai Leng whoop Shepard and co.'s butts a few more times after that awesome showdown at Thessia.


2) No recruitable Wrex? ZOMG

Seriously, I forgave Bioware after they shafted Wrex from my party in Mass Effect 2. I at least could see the loveable Krogan as he unified the clans on Tuchanka. Yet, they thought I'd be satisfied with them handing us the short stick again. Not so. Wrex is easily one of the most popular characters in the story, next to Tali, and while I can understand that being leader of the entire Krogan race as far as their government is concerned is a big responsibility, I couldn't help but wonder why he wouldn't be able to join us in the fight against the Reapers as a representative of their race. I'd like to have seen Wrex become recruitable after the Tuchanka missions were complete, similar to Tali. Nothing would beat having a Krogan on your team - they tried to make up for this gap by turning James Vega into a human tank- and I'm guessing that this is the reason why. Hopefully we'll see him in future DLC missions.


1) Marauder Shields (No Final Boss)

I remember the intense and frantic skirmishes with everything from Cannibals to Brutes in the most important showdown before the final push toward the Catalyst. I defeated waves of enemies with my squad while struggling to fend off terrifying Banshees and dodged beams fired by Harbinger. Then, I sped to the beam, the ground exploding as Harbinger's laser eye moved past us... only for my entire squad to get caught in one overwhelming blast. When I regain consciousness, my armor's been shredded and I'm severely injured, but I'm strong enough to make it to the portal.

An interesting segment occurs where I have to fend off against husks approaching, and I soon face a surprise attack against a Marauder just when I'm closest to the portal. With a few well-timed shots in the chest and head, this bad guy's wiped out easily, and I make my push to the Catalyst; exeunt the final events of Mass Effect 3. Unless you count this encounter, there's absolutely no final boss for players to fight. "No final boss?" Nope. "And here I was thinking I'd get to put the whammy on Harbinger after all that talk of him being my salvation through destruction." Perhaps he could've assumed direct control of The Illusive Man, since that guy was a couple upgrades shy of becoming a full-fledged Human Reaper. Now that would've been a fight to remember. Unfortunately, Bioware dropped the ball in this department big time.


The Verdict

I'm certain there are segments that others didn't like in the series, while others that players did like that I've already listed. Nonetheless, we all have our own respective tastes and hopefully I aspire to see some of these elements improved in the future. Feel free to list your own and comment below.