[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 4

This is my fourth entry in my gaming diary for Mass Effect (Xbox 360).

The short of it: A casual point-and-click gamer plays an RPG for the first time by herself.
The task: To play Mass Effect (the first one) in its entirety and to document her experiences along the way.

First-time reader and need context?

Third Diary Entry
Second Diary Entry
First Diary Entry
Diary Introduction

(Photo: meodia.com)

Checking In

Up until now, my posts about Mass Effect have been a lot about the story behind the game. The reason for the serious detail is mostly for me to remember how the game played out. A lot of stuff happens and I just want a place I can refer back to in my own words.

That said, thanks for sticking it through with me for the first three parts of my Mass Effect journey.

Now that I have entered the second chapter of the game, I am getting more comfortable with the characters and story, so hopefully in the future my diary entries will be more about the meat and less about the grizzle (ha!).

For this part of my gaming diary, I am going to talk about:

Decisions, Decisions…

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I have been leaving out a crucial part to Mass Effect up until now – the fact that this adventure is decision-controlled; meaning, Shepard is often given two or more choices of dialogue that direct how the plot is going to go. I am getting the sense, however, this game is not like my experience with the Walking Dead Game where I can immediately see a result of my “actions”.

So far, I have been playing Shepard as a confident, level-headed, and “ready for battle” soldier, yet with an inquiring mind. Any time I was given the chance to ask questions of other characters, I took it: for example, in the first chapter before Shepard went to battle on Eden Prime, I had him ask a boatload of questions of Captain Anderson and Nihlus – Why are we going to Eden Prime? What is Nihlus’s involvement? Why is the beacon so important? I went that route to test the waters. I guess, I could have made Shepard a dick at the gate and completely dismissive, but my past experience making my character out to be uncooperative in other games hasn’t garnered me any good satisfying results. I really would have to go out of my element to be mean too, and I figure Mass Effect is a long ass game to be an angry young man. Also, if we are being honest, I had Shepard ask all those questions probably to relieve my own anxiety about making sure I got the plot and characters right. Hah, Psychology at work…

Not every conversation between characters forces the player to choose what Shepard says, but when it does the game gave you plenty of time to decide (I am not sure if this is a Casual Mode feature or not). When it prompts you a circle at the bottom of the screen will appear with at least two choices. The choices, I figure, are strategically placed left or right of this circle depending on context: right side is the definitive “I am going now” while the left is the more, question-based (Maybe?). Players can use the left stick and green A button to make their decisions.

What follows are my top decisions I made in Chapter 1 (completed) and Chapter 2 (so far)…if memory serves me right…

Chapter 1: Eden Prime
1. In his conversation with Nihlus regarding Eden Prime, I decided Shepard would tell him he had never been to the planet before. I am not sure if this one was to be played honestly (meaning, yes, he’s truly never been there), or if he’s lying to Nihlus because he doesn’t trust him. I’ll take it at face value and not think too much about that at this point. Who knows if this will have any bearing on gameplay later on.

2. I chose that Shepard ask the Captain if he approved of Nihlus tapping him on the shoulder to become a Spectre. I wanted to see what kind of relationship the Captain and Shepard have with each other – does the Captain believe in Shep?

3. As previously disclosed, I played Shepard as an inquisitive fellow and therefore chose the “investigate” choice in conversation whenever I could.

4. I had Shepard invite Ashley Williams to join their crew on Eden Prime, as opposed to using his rank as Commander and forcing her to come along. Again, I don’t want him to play an ass. I feel being respectful has its benefits. We’ll see if that burns me later on…

5. I made Shepard confident he did nothing wrong in the battle on Eden Prime, despite one of his crew getting killed and the beacon burning up. I also made him certain that Saren went rogue all along, supporting the Captain’s claim.

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Chapter 2: The Citadel (So far):

1. I had Shepard tell the ambassador he thinks Saren is dangerous, full stop! I chose this one because I also think he is dangerous (a bit of me bleeding through, perhaps?).

2. In case this has any relevance, I also chose to have Shepard stop and speak with the guided tour simulator, Avina, in the Citadel. I got some background on the Citadel Council, a bit of history between humans and the members of the council (all of them are aliens). There was some good info there.

3. When Shepard meets Gerrus for the first time, I had him conclude immediately that Gerrus doesn’t like Saren; to which Gerrus agrees by saying that ” something about Saren rubs me the wrong way.” I think this shows solidarity especially considering both Saren and Gerrus are turians, so you would think they might be on the same side. I liked the fact Gerrus sided with the humans.

4. At the Council Panel when Saren accuses Shepard of destroying the beacon, I had Shepard ask him how he is involved,, adding that the mission on Eden Prime was top secret and the only way he would know about the beacon is if Saren was there (Want some cream for that BURN, Saren??).

5. When Saren hurls insults at Shepard about being a human, I had Shepard say, “Insults? Typical.” I chose this come-back because my reaction was “you dick!” when I first heard it… and I know there was “you SOB!” as a choice, but I want to play Shepard with a little more professional integrity. With this come-back, Shepard then tells the Council panel to stop protecting Saren, and that he won’t waste his breath trying to prove his guilt, because “you made your decision.”

6. Like a good reporter, I had Shepard push the Captain to tell him how Saren and the Captain are involved with each other.

7. I had Shepard defend the Captain when the ambassador eludes to cutting him out of the Saren investigation, and that he would go looking for that drunkard, Harkin. I thought that showing solidarity with the Captain would pay off for Shepard in the long run. We’ll see.

8.Before he leaves to speak with Harkin, I had Shepard ask the Captain if there are any more leads. Glad I did: he tells Shepard to go meet with Barla Von, the agent for the Shadow Broker.

9. When Shepard meets Harkin, he asks if he could help him out. This whole time I didn’t have Shepard tell him, “Don’t waste my time,” or “you’re a liar” which were options several times throughout that scene. I had Shepard ask him how he knows all his information, letting Harkin talk and spill his “secret”. There was another “investigate” option in his conversation with Harkin which I took advantage of!

So there you have it. I haven’t noticed the impact of these decisions  – yet!

Until next time…

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