Fighting the plot in Mass Effect 3

I’ve been mostly enjoying Mass Effect 3, but like so many Bioware games, including Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2, I am feeling excessively constrained by the plot the writers have constructed. Though I have done all the side missions, I don’t have any feeling of making a difference in the universe. Sure, all the NPCs I meet know Shepard, but none of my actions are making any difference in the plot, which is smothering and oppressing me.

In the game so far, I have had the choice to kill or save the Rachni (I chose to save them, though I don’t know whether that will be a good idea in the long run), cure the Krogan genophage or not (I did), and I had to make a choice to kill an entire race. At the end of a long and nasty fight that someone should smack the Bioware devs for (more below), I had a choice to either kill off the Geth or the Quarians. In either case, Legion dies, but in the latter, Tali kills herself because I sacrificed her entire race. I call bullshit! The great Commander Shepard should have been able to separate the two forces and broker a peace rather than having once side wipe out the other. Not knowing the consequences, I first chose to support Legion and the Geth, which ended badly for the Quarians. Hating that outcome, I redid the horrible Reaper boss battle and tried the other way, which was better, but not much. I read from the IGN walkthrough that if I had certain criteria met in my imported save file, perhaps I could have saved both sides somehow. Again, what a stupid design?!? You mean doing the side missions to save the Quarian general and their fleet from the fighters didn’t give me enough pull to make them see reason and back off? Come on!

I have a hunch this is just the beginning of me not liking the stupid either/or plot choices, and I know enough people have complained about the ending that I’m sure I won’t like that. I’m just at the point where I am about to be funneled into the final sequence of missions, which is another characteristic of Bioware games that I don’t like. And if this one, like Dragon Age 2, only gives me bad choices, I’ll be pissed (and yes, I’m prepared to be pissed).

So back to the Reaper boss battle on the Quarian/Geth homeworld: Did anyone actually think that was fun? In the battle, you need to keep a laser target designator on a certain area of a huge reaper that is shooting at you and if it even comes close to hitting you, you die and start the whole thing over. And you need to do that for several weapon strikes, so even if you manage to stay alive through a couple, you can still be killed and have to start over. Sure, once I figured it out, it wasn’t terribly hard, but it was never actually fun. This is why I don’t play some of the old console games, like the early Metal Gear games – the penalty for even a small screw up is huge and therefore, I don’t see it as fun.

That being said, there are a couple of very clever sequences the Bioware devs included that they should be commended on. Getting onto a Geth dreadnought through a damaged entry tunnel and being able to use magnetic boots and move all the way around the tunnel was very cute. The mission where Shepard virtually treks through a Geth server was also very creative and unique. So someone had a spark of creativity when doing those missions, but they made up for it and fell back to lazy design when I had to choose to wipe out the Geth, which depressed me.

So I will soon be done with ME3 and will not play multiplayer, I’m sure. The lousy experiences with this game have even made me wary of Bioware’s Star Wars MMO, though if it ever goes free-to-play, I may need to try it.

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