One Spectre to save the galaxy.
When Mass Effect 3 was released in 2012 I had started to ask myself why I hadn’t played even one of those games till that point. It had always been on my mind to pick up the series and that year I finally started to dive into the Mass Effect Milky Way and start my journey. This is an old log of my gaming experiences in 2012:
The first thing that made me happy In ME1 was the customisation. That’s how Shepard acquired the looks of what I affectionately kept calling “the Russian rogue”. The decision of playing as female or male already took me quite a while. Right from the start I began to immerse myself in the world of ME step by step. I was running around doing side quests a lot, listened to all sorts of people’s talk, got to know my crew and was very disappointed that I couldn’t start a romance with other men (yet). After Shepard had become a Spectre and I had learnt to hate the Citadel Council I explored all kinds of different planets, found secret hideouts, uncommon resources and over-aggressive Thresher Maws attacking my vehicle (which I affectionately named Marco due to its actual titling M35 Mako). The story excited me. It wasn’t even that spectacular but nevertheless a sci-fi adventure that really managed to captivate me right from the start. Saren, the villain, was of course a character I sympathised with right from the beginning (because I tend to always like the villains) and I greatly enjoyed chasing after him, not knowing how tremendously important and dangerous this mission would become.
First I fought my way through the snowsquall of Noveria up to Peak 15, where the nearly extinct species Rachni and an unexpectedly hard and exhausting fight with Asari Matriarch Benezia awaited me. The journey up there was a long one and gave me various chills as if the weather that surrounded me on the mountain had gotten to me outside of the screen. It was rememberable and remarkable.
The next deed of heroism entailed rescuing an Asari researcher named Liara from Prothean Ruins on the planet Therum. Having gained another crew member, Shepard’s ship. the Normandy, set off to Feros. And without having any evil intentions I was reminded rather ungently that these were violent times as I set foot on the planet and was immediately attacked by a pack of Geth (a race of networked AI). They had invaded the planet and of course only my team was competent enough to get rid of them. On my way to the ExoGeni Headquarters I met some more aliens like the fishdog’ish Varren and the corpse-like Thorian Creepers that yearned to kill me. But this mission also ended successfully, because…well, Commander Shepard is a frickin’ spectre. He killed the Thorian and got some new information on the Conduit artifact and the Reapers, the ultimate enemies of the galaxy that will bring forth terror and genocide. Great, even more responsibility to bear.
Nevertheless I gladly flew to the next location, called Virmire, where Saren and his Geth army were expecting me. But when I landed, the first thing that astonished me was the beautiful environment. It looked like a Tropical Island, with endless mass of water. Driving too far into those beautiful waves kills you though, unfortunately. So with this holiday atmosphere surrounding me I went to face the big, bad Turian. A small army of Salarians joined our team to distract the enemy from Shepard’s ‘Team Shadow’ that would plant a bomb inside Saren’s base.
And that was the part where it got really emotional as well as even more thrilling than before. At first, Wrex was confused about what was the right thing to do. He randomly shot the water with his shotgun which scared me every single time since I first didn’t know the cause of the shots and thought that some enemy was approaching. Eventually I had a talk with him and he decided to stand by my side. I was moved.
Then, when the infiltration was imminent, the Salarians declared they were ready to die and that I had to send one of my crew members with them. I knew for sure that I wouldn’t see that person again. I had to choose between that one guy, Kaidan and that one gal, Ashley. I never really liked Ash but I didn’t want to sacrifice her because of that. But I had to think logically and Kaidan had the skills and the responsibility to set off the bomb and that way Ashley had to go….The infiltration made me nervous and legitimately scared of what was to come but it was so much fun to play. The constant pressure of acting fast while still trying to save everyone and successfully planting the bomb without dying myself weighed on me. But Wrex and Garrus were by my side.
So eventually I got to meet ‘the Reaper’ and learnt a bit more about their whole conspiring galaxy conquest. And then the damn game gave me a glimpse of hope to save Ashley, for nothing. On my way to her I had to make a choice. Go back and defend the bomb from being destroyed by the enemy or go save Ashley and the remaining soldiers. I wanted to save her so desperately at that point but I knew that the few people near the bomb couldn’t defend it by themselves and then everything would have been for nothing. That moment when I had to apologise to her…it was the worst thing ever and I regretted it. I knew of her family and her dreams and goals in life but I couldn’t do anything to make her live long enough to make them come true.
I went back, Saren showed up, we fought, he fell back as the bomb began its countdown and while sitting safe and sound in the Normandy I could see the massive explosions. I’m sorry, Ash. I’m sorry, Salarians. You won’t have died in vain. (My team members took her death surprisingly well though…)
I returned to the Citadel, hated on the Council even more, stole my own ship (wait, what?) and was taken off guard by an even more impressive environment on the plantet Ilos. I learned even more about the Conduit, got to know that I am the only one who can break through the cycle, basically “the chosen one” if you want. No pressure. I rushed down a long waterslide, following Saren to the Citadel again. The catastrophe was in full swing as I had fought my way up the zero-gravity Citadel tower where my companions showed some frustrating incompetence (which they never done before) and I had to snipe my way through an immense battlefield. Thanks, guys. But I still love you.
Saren Boss Battle 1 emerged. It wasn’t that hard. Saren Boss Battle 2 emerged. It was tediously long but not as difficult as I had expected. However, I was glad to have achieved so much. The Sovereign aka the Reaper was defeated, I decided to not save the Council, pity pity, and although I had gathered so many Renegade Morality Points (though not on purpose) I still turned out to be a good fella. My rogue commander Shepard had decided to side with the aliens, or at least not be a patriotic earthling, after all.
This game really was a great experience. I was very pleased with the competent AI of my team comrades as well as the other NPCs, the interaction was interesting and believe it or not, the German dub was actually passable if not even good!!! It’s funny that male Shepard’s voice in the original sounds very likeable and in the German version it doesn’t, it’s rather strict. But hey, the dub didn’t make the game worse at any point so I won’t be too critical.
For me, the hardest parts regarding gameplay were the fights against Benezia, simply because they swiftly acquired a rather negative undertone as I died frustratingly often because of the Asari’s Biotecs…After what seemed like an eternity I made it to the second cutscene just to get another fighting sequence in which I died a couple of times again.
When the Matriarch was finally beaten I still had to take care of her underlings and that’s when the real good thing happened. There was one last Asari left, barely alive but so was I. As I fired my shotgun I could see how she was shooting at me as well. “Great, now I will have to start over again!”, were my thoughts but before her bullets reached me the enemy soldier conveniently died through my shot. I had been a milisecond faster and before I got my chance to die the next cutscene began.It had been a long time since I’d been so relieved after a fight. And I still let that Rachni queen go…ain’t Shepard a kind man?