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4 Life Lessons Taught By Mass Effect
By: Ericthebearjew | Part of a Column: ETBJ's Incoherent Ramblings
Tags: Gaming, Mass Effect

ETBJ's Incoherent Ramblings
Warning: There be spoilers ahead

Just the day before I started to write this article, I completed my second play-through of the Mass Effect Trilogy. Despite yearning for the "Shepard breathes" Destroy ending with the help of the DLCs and whatnot, I still failed. This sort of led to an epiphany about the series, but more on that later. There are a few more things I've noticed that the series tries to teach.


For example, no matter how attractive the aliens are, searching Google for porn featuring them isn't exactly the best idea.

So, on that awkward note and without any further ado, here are four life lessons you learn from failing Mass Effect:

4. You can't save everyone

This one may be cheating a little, because I'm essentially talking about the crew of the third game, but that does reach back further into the series. For example, if you want to keep Wrex around, you spare him on Virimire, the same planet in the first game where you have to choose between Kaidan and Ashley. The thing is, the survival of Wrex makes the Salarians unwilling to cough up EMS (the "military strength" currency from ME3), even if you did save the Councilor, the ungrateful bastards.


Well, joke's on them, they have no external genitals!

The only way to get both maximum Krogan and Salarian EMS is to kill Wrex, sabotage the genophage cure, and trick Wreav. This not only dooms the Krogan but deprives you of a good chunk of the joys of the Citadel DLC. During Zaeed Massani's loyalty mission in ME2 you have to let a bunch of maintenance workers burn to death while trapped under rubble in order to secure his loyalty.

So not only is it impossible to save everyone in this scenario, but the easiest way to achieve your goal is to do something that you really don't want to do. This sort of reflects real life, where you can't always get what you want, and sacrifices sometimes have to be made. You can try to force an easy way out, but that could have dire consequences. Take shoplifting for example; that seems like an easy way out of worrying about your food budget, but you'll inevitably get caught, banned from the store, and arrested.


But at least you might go out in style.

3. You can't please everyone

In ME2 there are two conflicts you have to resolve regarding crew members arguing: Miranda vs. Jack and Tali vs. Legion. Tali vs. Legion is easily solvable, as it is near the end of the game and your morality ratio is more grounded. It is rather hard to peacefully resolve the conflict between Jack and Miranda. Then there's Tali's trial, where no matter how paragon you are, you just can't seem to make her an Admiral (the renegade option ends her loyalty towards you). Both these cases seem unresolvable unless you're willing to exploit that glitch where you keep Samara stalled in that Omega apartment for hours, racking up 2 paragon points at a time.


Eventually, you start to wonder whether or not she's catching on and is just humoring your insane ass.

There's the issue with the Port Hanshan pass on Noveria in the first game. In order to get the pass, you have to either work with IA operative Gianna Parasini or help the Turian manager Lorik Qu'in cover his own ass. Either you get Qu'in to testify against the Salarian administrator Anoleis, help Qu'in recover a bribe, or trick Parasini into a shootout with Anoleis. No matter what you do in either game, someone will always be less than pleased your decision. Just like in real life.


Except in real life they probably wouldn't change their attitude at the drop of a hat, only to die in a suicide mission.

2.Sometimes the harshest option is the best option.

Due to the renegade choices at the beginning of the series, it's easy to associate renegade with negative. In my first play-through, I ended up killing Wrex because only the renegade option was available, and I assumed Shepard would just kill him anyway, but it turns out Shepard just yells at him to snap out of it. I also rewrote rather than destroyed the Geth and saved instead of killed the Rachni queen for the same reason, as if I was deterred by the very idea of renegade.


Us Bearjews are instinctively Paragon

It turns out that those renegade choices were all the best options available. Aside from the whole thing with Wrex, destroying the Geth base instead of rewriting it will make it easier to broker peace between the Geth and the Quarians, and killing the Rachni queen leaves there no reason to spare the Queen Husk in ME3, thus, Grunt's Squadron "Aralakh" Company grants you 650 EMS, while saving the spared Queen dwindles Aralakh to 50 and the Rachni are just 100 strong. The lesson being, never trust a spider.


Especially the mechanical ones

1. Sometimes, things just don't work out.

The most controversial and base breaking thing about the series is its ending. It's so hated that for those that play the trilogy on the PC, there's a fan made "Mass Effect Happiest Ending Mod" (or MEHEM), as depicted below:

The thing is, everybody seems to be focused on the Destroy ending. But what if that ending isn't supposed to be the right (or at least the ideal one? The theme of the third game is "You can't save everyone", and who exactly are you trying to save the most?


I mean, aside from these two.

That's right, Shepard, the player character. The character that is essentially an avatar of yourself. So naturally, you want Shepard to survive and prevail. But things tend to be arguably better for the Mass Effect universe if Shepard DOESN'T survive in the end. There are the Control and Synthesis endings where, although Shepard's physical body is destroyed, s/he either takes control of the reapers and establishes peace, or turns everybody into Outlaw Star-esque bioandroids, therefore making the harvest unnecessary. So basically, the entire trilogy is essentially a big "FUCK YOU!" to basic human survival instinct.


In other words, it's essentially like my IRC rants, but with more lesbian shower scenes.
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