Mass Effect 3: Omega

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You can’t believe everything you read on the boards. If you did, you’d think Mass Effect 3’s latest single-player DLC, Omega is a giant turd. The truth is, it isn’t. It’s actually pretty great. It felt much more like a real Mass Effect story than Leviathan. It’s pretty big, it looks great and it adds two characters you’ve never had in your party before.

Mission

The goal of Omega is to take back Omega from Cerberus and get it back under Aria’s control. If you read the Mass Effect 3 comic that came out pre-release, you’ll be familiar with the story. Cerberus moved in and took over Omega, and that’s why Aria’s busy lounging on the couch in Purgatory on the Citadel in Mass Effect 3.

Squad

Unfortunately, you can’t bring your regular squad along like you could in Leviathan. There’s a story reason in that Aria doesn’t trust some of them and the story involves Aria and a female Turian, Nyreen Kandros, joining you, so the game wants you focusing on them and utilizing them as much as possible. Also, I think Bioware didn’t want to call every voice actor back in to do voiceovers for all the possible different lines they’d have. It was disappointing at first, but once you’re into the story, you get why it is the way it is, and it’s totally fine.

Aria

Aria’s powers include Reave, Carnage, Lash and a new power called Flare. Flare is described as:

Focus and expend all biotic energy to unleash a huge flare that throws enemies within its range, causing massive damage.

It’s pretty nifty and can be unlocked as a bonus power for Shepard after completing Omega.

Nyreen

Nyreen has a mix of tech and biotic abilities, so we could think of her as a Sentinel. Her abilities include Overload, Incinerate, Lift Grenades, and Biotic Protector. Biotic Protector is described as:

Deploy a shield that protects against all damage at the expense of moving, shooting, or using powers while it is enabled.

So, essentially it’s a massive “save your ass” shield that you can’t attack from, although, there’s a weapon or power buff that you can get after the shield expires from the level six evolution. I didn’t employ it all that much though. Nyreen isn’t in your party that much and I mostly had her spamming Overload on shields and barriers.

Story

Omega doesn’t impact the overall story of Mass Effect 3 the way Leviathan might. In Leviathan, you’re recruiting a massive ally that could swing the tide of the war in your favor (SPOILERS: IT CAN’T REALLY), but after completing Omega, you just get some ships and eezo from Aria. Whoopdee do.

General Oleg Petrovsky

The main villain, General Oleg Petrovsky, seems like an interesting character. He isn’t indoctrinated, he seems to respect Shepard as a soldier and claims he’s doing this for humanity, and doesn’t see himself as part of the Reaper war. What occupying Omega might accomplish he never really says, but it would’ve been interesting to allow Shepard to side with him, but Shepard wasn’t given the choice to side with Cerberus ever during Mass Effect 3, unlike Mass Effect 2, so there’s no reason to give the player the choice to side with them now.

Nyreen’s Fate

Spoilers Ahead!

Nyreen ultimately perishes towards the end of Omega. She sacrifices herself to save some civilians, which has been her motivation throughout Omega, but it seems so pointless, considering she only takes out three Adjutants and I’ve been manhandling them for the duration of the DLC all by myself. If she had waited ten seconds, Aria and Shepard would have showed up and destroyed the three measly enemies and Nyreen could’ve lived. The crap part of the whole ordeal is that there’s no way to save Nyreen. (Mordin!) The rest of your squadmates, aside from Mordin can be saved. If you had everyone’s loyalty in Mass Effect 2, they can all make it to the end of the game. Sadly, there’s no action or choice you can take in Omega that can save her.

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut

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The New & Improved Starchild

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut added (or better put, subtracted) a lot from the Starchild. The Starchild wasn’t defined very well in the original Mass Effect 3 endings and now it’s established that he is an AI constructed by the creators of the Reapers to manage the chaos. In a great twist, it’s now revealed that he reaped his very own creators in order to maintain order. I wasn’t surprised that the Starchild didn’t actually reveal any information about his creatores. In fact, Shepard explicitly asks about them, but the Starchild tells Shepard that it would take too long to explain it and “we don’t have much time.”

Destroy

The Destroy ending was always the ending that we all wanted. The Reapers are taken care of and most of the galaxy is fine. The Geth (who we come to possibly like during the course of our playthrough) are also wiped out unfortunately. I think the Destroy ending makes the most sense for Shepard. Destroying the Reapers has been the goal of the series and this is the only way to be sure that they will never hurt anyone again. The Geth, even if you happen to like them, are not valuable enough to saved at the cost of the rest of the galaxy. Shepard is told that he won’t survive this ending, but we have all seen the “breath”. Bioware even confirmed the other day on their forums that in the Destroy ending, Shepard is in fact alive.

One of the goals for the Extended Cut, as part of addressing player feedback, was to provide more time with the love interest, and more opportunity for players to say goodbye to them and provide additional moments of connection between them. We did this in several ways: Shepard can now actually say goodbye to the love interest when they are split up at the conduit run.

When Shepard sees flashbacks of important characters during the final decision, the flashbacks are now variable based on your playthrough – so your love interest can appear as one of the flashbacks, providing another moment of reflection between Shepard and that character.

A memorial scene was added, partly to show a close bond between Shepard and the love interest. The scene is variable, and if Shepard has a love interest in a given playthrough, it will be that character who places Shepard’s name on the memorial wall.

Control

Control might actually be the best ending of all of them. Sure, Shepard gives himself over and essentially becomes the new Starchild (and a Reaper too, possibly) but everyone lives. The Geth don’t get destroyed. Shepard’s friends live good lives. And the now-Shepard-controlled Reapers help clean the galaxy up! Shepard being a Reaper is creepy, I know, but if he’s not killing anyone, what’s there to complain about? All well that ends well, right?

Synthesis

Oh Synthesis. You don’t make any sense. So, Shepard uses the Crucible to rewrite the building blocks of life, gives everyone green eyes, and now we live in peace with the Reapers. Makes no God-damned sense and yet it feels like this is the ending that Bioware wants us to like. I think this was Mac Walters and Casey Hudson’s vision they keep talking about. It’s a shitty vision that has no real sacrifice for anyone. In Destroy, the Geth are sacrifice (although you’d never know because Bioware never actually shows anything happen to the Geth) and in Control Shepard has to live on forever as Reaper Babysitter in order to keep the peace. In Synthesis, everything’s hunky dory and we wipe out as much diversity as possible. Sounds like trouble to me.

Refusal

Then there’s Refusal. Refusal seems to be Bioware’s direct response to the fans’ critiques of the endings. Essentially saying, “If you don’t play along with how we see everything working out, the entire galaxy has to die. At least for this cycle.”

In this ending, Shepard keeps the moral highground and doesn’t give into the Starchild. Because of this, the cycle continues and everyone is wiped out. Of course, it takes 100 years or so for this to happen, but it would’ve been nice if Bioware had actually shown Shepard’s crewmates fighting on and eventually perishing (or dying of old age, if they’re lucky).

We’re shown Liara’s time capsule which apparently helps the next cycle figure out a way to defeat the Reapers in the next cycle. Maybe the next cycle’s Shepard just chooses Destroy that time around. The new Stargazer confirms that without what the previous cycle had done, they wouldn’t have survived.

My only real problem with Refusal is that even though the galaxy is destroyed, we aren’t shown any of it. In the other touched up endings, we get to see the effects of our decisions, but in Refusal, we’re again shown almost nothing.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Bugs and the Relationship with the Customer/Player

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This hurts me.

I play a lot of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Too much, probably. It’s pretty great that a game I loved, has a pretty fun multiplayer component, and it doesn’t cost anything to play (except for the initial cost of buying the game). I would pay for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, but I’d expect game breaking bugs to be fixed faster. In particular, the Vanguards’ Biotic Charge has been broken since the multiplayer demo back in February. Yes, February. Essentially, if you get killed as you’re initiated a Biotic Charge, you charge into the ground. You start clipping into the geometry of the map and after a couple minutes, you’re so fucked into the geometry that you can’t do anything. You can’t attack enemies, but you keep taking damage. You’re a liability to your squad. Should you squad happen to all get wiped out on a non-mission wave, you’ll sit there in limbo, stuck in the geometry, and the only way they’ll get their deserved XP and credits is for you to quit, and for you to lose everything.

Supposedly, today’s patch is supposed to fix this. Great! Only took three months! But, it’s comments like this that make me think that Bioware thinks the players are assholes for complaining that things don’t work right. I know it’s a free-to-play model. The multiplayer is being funded by people buying Microsoft points to buy reinforcement packs that are totally random. If you ever go to the Bioware forums (Trust me. You shouldn’t.), you’ll see that the people who spend the most time playing (and subsequently complaining about bugs in the game) are not paying for credits. The nature of random unlocks makes spending real money on the game hard to swallow. If the money you spent on credits could be spent on anything you wanted, I probably would’ve dumped some money into the game to unlock and level up a Talon or a Paladin. Since the game isn’t competitive, I don’t see why this would be bad. We’re all on the same team. Me having a really powerful weapon isn’t hurting anyone.

It was also super annoying when the Resurgence Pack came out and for the first 24-48 hours, the existing reinforcement packs you could buy didn’t have any of the new characters or weapons in them. Bioware never said they wouldn’t, but they were more than happy to let people spend real money to buy game credits in hopes of unlocking a new character. Had I not checked the Bioware forums, I too might have wasted a bunch of credits.

I’d pay for DLC packs if I just got the characters right away with a little bit of an XP boost to start out. I will not, however, pay for credits that can only buy random unlocks. I commend those that do, because it means that I get to play the game for free. But I’d rather the DLC just cost 5 bucks a pop and I get everything at once.

I know a lot of the people that worked on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 are gone. I know that Casey Hudson, who was supposed to be the guardian of the Mass Effect universe, let the franchise fall apart (Mass Effect: Deception and Mass Effect 3′s God awful ending), but Mass Effect 3 and its accompanying multiplayer are really fun to play. Where Mass Effect had a fantastic story but wasn’t really fun to play, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 turned the series around to where the main story was bad (the personal stories were fantastic though!) and the combat got much better. Mass Effect 2 is still a fun game to replay just in combat terms, and Mass Effect 3′s combat is so much fun, I’ve put three times as much time into the multiplayer (if not more) than I did in the single player side of the game. Because of Mass Effect 3′s ruining of the story for me, I’ll have to be okay just having fun playing the multiplayer until the inevitable rejiggering of the single player story in the Extended Cut DLC that hopefully doesn’t come out while I’m in the US and unable to play it!

Mass Effect 3: Rebellion Pack

Vorcha

I knew the Vorcha would come. It’s not like I had any hush hush intel, but I knew the Vorcha wouldn’t leave us flapping in the wind, at the mercy of the Reapers. I knew our Vorcha saviors would come.

The great Vorcha tactician Schrelvar, you probably haven’t heard of him, once said that, “You suffer, hard we come.” While some have taken this to mean that the Vorcha are scavengers and pick the bones of those already defeated, in some circles, there are still true believers in the benevolence of the Vorcha.

Now that the Rebellion is upon us (May 29th, 2012), the Vorcha will finally be able to show us all what they’re capable of.