People in fandom debate fiercely about numerous parts of the Mass Effect narrative and how “good” they are. Yet no one seems to argue about how great the series is at giving its players that found family goodness (and if there’s someone who does argue about it, they’re wrong). Much of this highly prized content come from the protagonist’s krogan squadmates—Wrex, Grunt, and now Drack—but on my way to find the “Shepard bails Grunt out of jail for partying too hard” fic that I wanted, I found another sort of fic which nevertheless embodied so much of what it meant to be part of Commander Shepard’s team on the Normandy. The only problem I had with it was that I read it too early in the day and my emotions weren’t steeled enough to keep me from bawling over my favorite characters.
While watching Game of Thrones a couple nights ago (yes, I’m late to the party, don’t judge) I had a startling revelation: I never finished my ‘Top 5 Side Characters’ series for Mass Effect. D’oh! But stay in suspense no longer, for I have returned after playing the latest DLC—Citadel—and my Mass Effect writing muses are ready and raring to go.
As in previous installments (found here and here) I defined a side-character as a character who is “not involved in the main quest in any way what-so-ever”. For Mass Effect 3, this standard becomes essentially impossible because even the hordes of stupid scanning side quests still directly affect the main quest. As it stands, the third installment of this series is so narrow (which is fitting since the galactic war is coming to a head) that I’m going to have to say “influences the main plot the least”, but even then I can’t keep my own rules as you’ll see soon enough. Also, as this is the final installment in Shepard’s story, the cameos from past games are so numerous that many of my favorite side-characters are not from Mass Effect 3, but have made a return from the previous games. It also stands to reason that there aren’t that many interesting side characters unique to this particular game anyways.
Not like that stopped me from having way too many favorites to begin with—narrowing down the list was still difficult and I’m still not entirely happy with it, but I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied with a ranking until it became “Top 100 Characters” or something. No one wants to read that. If you think I missed someone or if you agree/disagree with me, leave me a message in the comments and let’s chat.
It’s the new year, and I feel excited about video games. I am excited about the mountain of games I acquired as presents and with gift cards, as well as games coming out later this year. For as much as I love good games, I am sad over how many of my friends and family just don’t enjoy them the way I do. Whether they lack interest or skill, it’s always difficult to share this part of my life with them. That’s why I’m trying to think of new ways for me to try and share my gaming experience with them.
There are of course the games that are fun to play with a group despite the challenges of the game. Games like New Super Mario Bros. U, Call of Duty, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 are great because, due to their tendency toward bullshit difficulty spikes, the whole group enjoys the accomplishments of even two players finally beating a level. Plus, the shared suffering leads to lively conversation. Other games which have narrative arcs which tend to appeal to those outside of the medium are always fun to pass and play, even if some people are terrible. These games include Alice: Madness Returns, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Resident Evil 5, and they tend to be just as fun to watch as to play if you are already invested in the subject matter. Hell, some games are such a spectacle that it’s fun to pass and play without any narrative context. Call of Duty and Halo attract droves of casual players who only play in groups. Any of these are fine, but I feel my repertoire lacks a certain “universally appealing” punch. So imagine my delight and excitement as I realize a way to better involve more people in the same games I already love. Continue reading
The release date of the ‘Omega’ DLC has come and gone. Omega has been taken back, Aria is firmly seated on her throne once more, and Cerberus has lost a substantial foothold in that sector of the galaxy. So why am I so damned undecided on how I feel? [Spoiler Warning]
Earlier this month, Bioware released their first large-scale DLC for Mass Effect 3: Leviathan. All that was known before it came out is that Shepard was dealing with something that had the capability to destroy a reaper and seriously, when your side of the battle can’t even take out one reaper without a whole lot of trouble, finding something that can—no matter how dangerous it is—starts looking mighty good. Yet now that I’ve played through it a couple times I can’t help but feel that it was somewhat lacking, both in its design and its story. [Spoiler Alert]