Mass Effect

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 13

This is my Thirteenth AND FINAL entry in my gaming diary for Mass Effect (Xbox 360).

Can you believe it?? Lucky Thirteen! Before I move on, a big thank you to those who have stuck through reading every one of these long-winded posts.

First-time reader and need context? Please go here.

Update from part 12 of the Gaming Diary:

Pepe Shep, Kaiden and Garrus race against the clock to get to the Normandy before Saren’s Base is blown to Smithereens.

Did they make it in time?

Part 6: Virmire


Flight Lieutenant, Joker, tells the crew on the Normandy to “hold on!” as he tries to outrun the detonated bomb on Virmire. The ship manages to escape, but Ashley, unfortunately, perishes, along with Captain Kirrahe and his crew.

In the debriefing room, Pepe tells the crew about the latest “vision” he experienced on Virmire of the Protheans being attacked. Liara offers to do another mind meld with Pepe as he was having a tough time interpreting it. She recognizes the location of this vision; a Prothean research station called Ilos, which was part of her Prothean research. This must be where Saren is headed!

Pepe “skypes” the Citadel Council and tells them what he has discovered about Saren. Although they congratulate Pepe for a successful mission on Virmire, they don’t believe that Saren is in cahoots with any Reapers, or that anyone is under threat. Pepe plans to go to Ilos to search for Saren, but before that the Normandy gets called to return to the Citadel immediately.

Part 7: Return to the Citadel

Pepe is confronted by the Council about going to Ilos to look for Saren. Basically, because they don’t believe a word he says about Saren, they will not support his mission. Ambassador Udina is also present, and supports the Council findings, telling Pepe to drop it, and that this is political. Kaiden calls the Ambassador a bastard!

Frustrated, Pepe tries to formulate a plan to go to Ilos without Citadel support. Unfortunately, because technically the Normandy is controlled by the Citadel, a block has been put on the ship preventing it from leaving, so essentially, Pepe is grounded. I loved his reaction, too. Completely outraged at the situation with a complete lack of support from the Ambassador…a great plot twist! That Ambassador is a bastard!

Not all is lost here…Pepe finds an ally in Captain Anderson. Remember him? He stepped down as Captain of the Normandy to allow Pepe to lead the way. Over a couple of brewskis, Anderson tells Shep that he needs to go to Ilos come hell or high water. And Anderson knows how to stop the block, but it means some risky business; breaking into Udina’s office computer so he can turn off the blockade. He believes so much in Pepe he will risk his life on it.

Then we see Captain Anderson walk into Udina’s office, punch the Ambassador’s lights out and break into the computer!

Good one! (Photo:

Off Pepe goes to Ilos!

Part 8: Ilos

As mentioned, Ilos was a Prothean research facility that has since been destroyed. Once Pepe and crew land there, it is desolate, covered in moss and overrun by geth. If I didn’t have any shooting skills up until now, this part was very good practice!

Ilos (and the confounded mako) [Photo:]

Pepe, Liara and Garrus encounter a Prothean computer terminal where they are able to access a VI able to tell the team a bit of history of what happened on Ilos. Its name is Vigil and looks like an electronic tangled mess.

Vigil (

Vigil explains that Pepe had been called to the facility through his beacon visions to “break the cycle” of reaper destruction. The conduit that Saren is looking for is found on Ilos and it is a basically a pipeline between Ilos and the Citadel. The citadel itself is actually a mass relay (a mass transit device) that once activated, the reapers can pull through and start destroying all organic life in the galaxy. But, no one knows about its sinister use as it is well hidden from organic life. The keepers (creatures on the Citadel that monitor its operations) are seemingly benign and keep the Citadel’s functions running, but the Reapers can use them by sending a signal to have them open the mass relays.

An aphid…ah, I mean a Keeper…

But, right now this signal is not working. Through research at Ilos, the Protheans were able to hone in on this signal the reapers send to the keepers. As it stands now, the Reapers are trapped in dark space unable to send the signal accurately. By indoctrinating Saren, Sovereign can use him to use the conduit to bypass the citadel’s defenses and gain access.

Vigil continues to explain more about the Prothean’s fate; how some survived the attack, but so few did they couldn’t recolonize. Vigil suspects those that remained are now dead.

Vigil ends the conversation by giving Pepe a data file he can use in the Citadel’s master control unit to take over the Citadel’s functions to give him control as the Reapers need to be stopped at all cost!

It’s back to the mako and a race against time as Saren has found the conduit back to the Citadel.

The Conduit on Ilos. (

Part 9: Race Against Time – Final Battle

Here is where there is a ton of action. Mostly, I forged ahead with Garrus and Liara at my side. I did die a couple of times, no doubt, but got through it. A lot of geth, and krogan here.

Funny, all this time through the game, I complained about the mako and how awkward it was to drive. But no matter where I took it, it never tipped over – until Pepe crash landed on the Citadel! Landed right upside down! A final death for the confounded mako!

Sovereign arrived through the conduit and traveled through to the centre of the Citadel and attached itself to the ship. This is one ugly mofo ship. The music ramped up when it arrived.

Sovereign arrives at the Citadel (photo:

…and attaches itself to the Citadel *shudder (

Eventually, we find an indoctrinated Saren at the helm of the Citadel’s master control operations trying to bypass its security. The Battle Saren Royale takes place and he proves tough to kill. He is completely under Sovereign’s influence, with a power that packs a punch. Pepe manages to finally kill him, but not without losing his life a couple of times.

Then, the opportunity arises to successfully destroy Sovereign. This was a wild ride that ended with Sovereign blown to bits and essentially destroying the Citadel. The scene hauntingly reminded me of 9/11 with the fire and chaos…

The scene on the Citadel following the destruction of Sovereign (

With Sovereign destroyed, this means war against the Reapers! I feel a sequel to Mass Effect coming on…

Now, there are two major decisions I had to make to finish this game.

First, I had to decide whether I should let the troops ordered to protect the evacuated Citadel Council continue to do so, or leave the Council to their own devices to allow all troops available to fight Sovereign. It sounds cruel, but I chose to exhaust all troops to fight Sovereign, resulting in the Council’s death. It might seem my reasoning was influenced by the Council’s lack of support for Shep, or how historically they weren’t trusting of humans. But, my reasoning was actually more to do with having more manpower to fight Sovereign and less about my feelings toward the Council’s past actions against Shep. I thought about the fact that at the end of it all, there would be no Council, but I figured there was potential for a fresh start as well. I could have saved the Council, and wonder what that outcome would look like, but, in the long run, I don’t regret my decisions here or anywhere in the game.

Udina and Anderson

The second decision came at the very end of the game. Pepe and his crew survived the final battle, along with Ambassador Udina and Captain Anderson. Pepe meets with both of them to discuss creating a new Council as the old one was killed in the attack. The Ambassador envisions a new Council with a human at its head. The Ambassador asks Pepe who would be a good candidate, and I chose Anderson. My reason was that likely we would need someone on board with military experience. Plus, the Ambassador’s lack of support and dick moves against Pepe when he pushed to go to Ilos ticked me off (yes, my feelings came into this decision)!

Final Round-Up

Mass Effect was one of the best games I have ever played. This brand of storytelling, along with the excitement of gameplay was stellar. And it being an RPG, I was afraid I would have to totally babysit my characters. It turned out not to be as bad as all that.

The only two critiques I have with this game were having to maneuver the mako (of course), and a beef with the weapons…I chose weapons that were not supposed to overheat after 50 rounds, but alas, they’d overheat after five! And these were high-level weapons! I obviously managed – I finished the game for Pepe’s sake! Just not sure why my weapon would overheat so quickly…

Final Thoughts

I was admittedly reluctant to start this diary for fear that it would be a lot of work…and it was. But, I am not one to quit easily, and now that I am at the end I am proud that I finished Mass Effect ALL BY MYSELF, and now I have a thorough written record of my journey.

Thanks for reading!

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 12

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

First-time reader and need context? Please go here.

Update from part 11 of the Gaming Diary:

Pepe Shep, his crew and a salarian army head out to Saren’s base to fight geth and get inside. Shep sends Ashley to fight with the salarians who will take on the front of the base, while Pepe, Kaiden and Garrus will infiltrate the back.


Part 6: Virmire


Wow, a lot happened in this round , so forgive me if I have missed some things. Let me highlight the most important bits.

Pepe and crew head to the back of Saren’s base. Immediately, they head towards a geth communcation tower with the intention of killing it (and they do!). The next task is to head into the building to deactivate the alarms. They make it inside the building and along the way they are attacked by all sorts of geth, krogan and indoctrinated salarians. Speaking of salarians, Pepe finds some locked in cells who have been indoctrinated and are acting a little off. When given the choice to lock them up to die there, I chose for Shep to let them go.

Sooner or later, Pepe finds one of those beacons similar to the one from the first chapter that gave him those weird Prothean visions. He makes another “connection” which replays the vision to the viewer in a little more detail. I am starting to get a sense of what happened to the Protheans at the hands of the reapers and it is disturbing.

Those poor Protheans, running for their lives…(Photo:

Shortly after Pepe experiences this cipher, we finally meet the Overlord of the galaxy – Sovereign – in the form of a hologram. And although initially we thought this Sovereign was a ship, it isn’t; it is a giant reaper!

The hologram of Sovereign – the reaper leader. (Photo:

This…thing resembling a large industrial insect (of course) is the harbinger of doom. Pepe managed to ask it a ton of questions and basically it comes down to this: the reapers come out of the woodwork after laying dormant for centuries, kill any and all organic life in the galaxy and then sink back into the night. They are responsible for the Protheans’ death. No explanation WHY, or at the very least, we “organics” cannot comprehend their reasons for it. The whole thing is effed up, dude!

Following this meeting with Sovereign it is time to nuke Saren’s entire base. But not before being confronted by Saren.

Saren on Green Goblin’s ride (Photo:

He is flying around on what looks like the Green Goblin’s boogie board.

The Green Goblin. I dunno, the similarities are striking! (Photo:

He tells Shep he has formed an alliance with Sovereign so that he would be spared from the unstoppable apocalypse of “organic life”. Shep sees through his B.S. and tells him he has been indoctrinated by Sovereign, for Sovereign’s sake, and that he will be thrown under the bus along with everyone else. Saren wasn’t going to listen, and starts shooting, along with his troop of geth and krogan, while flying around on his boogie board. This part was difficult, as you were supposed to shoot at Saren, but he was a moving target, like an annoying black fly that will strike when least expect it. All this is happening while Kaiden is busy installing the bomb.

Next thing you know, Saren falls off his boogie board and Pepe and Saren start kung-fu fighting (frightening!). Pepe right hooks Saren, knocking him down. Saren then musters up the strength to jump onto his board and flies away. Bye-bye, Green Gob-ahem, I mean Saren…

Then, the race is on to get the mako on the Normandy in time before the bomb is detonated. And then…

Boom! (

Until next time…

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 11

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

First-time reader and need context? Please go here.

Update from part 10 of the Gaming Diary:

Pepe Shep and crew are stuck on Peak 15 on the planet Noveria, looking to eradicate the rachni, an alien species that sort of look like a cross between a lobster, shrimp and some gross crawly insect. The bewwwbly matriarch gets sent to boob heaven.


Part 6: Virmire

Plot Developments and Gameplay combined:

The crew in the Normandy get some intel that there is a Salarian troupe on the planet Virmire that says Saren is there. Time to pack up and get in the mako again!

Upon approaching Virmire, the Normandy detects strong geth transmitters around the area, but manages to drop Shep, Garrus and Kaiden* just under their shields undetected. It didn’t take long, however, to be swarmed by geth.

One thing I noticed immediately when the mako landed on Virmire was how much it reminded me of a tropical island. So lush! Birds were flying around, and there was a vast ocean beyond a quay. Beautiful!

Virmire (Photo:

The area you travel in the game consists of various canals among these rock cliffs. At one point, the mako traveled downhill in a water-slide culvert thingy. Weee! If it wasn’t for the fact that Pepe was actually getting his ass shot off by geth, he may have wanted to take a vacay there.

Pepe, Ashley and Kaiden enjoy some free time on Virmire before defending the universe from Saren…Hey, one can dream, right? (artist’s interpretation) (Photo:

The first part of this mission involves killing these huge geth transmitters found on the planet. All the way through Pepe used the mako to kill various types of geth machinery – geth drones, armatures, juggernauts…Amazingly the mako made it through all of it, but not without getting a critical mission failure (I died).

BTW, the hubs casually sat with me while I was playing this part of the game.

When I first went to fight these geth on Virmire, I ran a lot of them over with the mako instead of shooting at them. Yeah, true confessions: I wanted to see what I could get away with. Could I get through this part without shooting at anything? Yeah, obviously not. And of course, the mako didn’t make my life any easier. When I “died” the first time, I set things right the second time around and fought them.

One of the many types of geth I fought (Photo:

After managing to kill all the transmitters, we travel to an area where the Salarian army who sent for us has set up camp. The leader is Captain Kirrahe and upon Pepe’s arrival he asks if he was the only group sent to help him because they are in real trouble as he has lost most of his men investigating the island for Saren’s base. He says the base is packed with geth and that he won’t be able to gain access without a heavy fight, with presumably more casualties.

It’s at this point that Kirrahe also tells Shep that Saren has also been breeding Krogans (remember Wrex?) to fight in his army. Wrex happens to overhear the convo and asks how this could be. Krogans have a genetic mutation within them called a genophage which increases the chances of miscarriages and stillbirths in female Krogans. Saren’s kind, the turians, created the genophage as a biological weapon a long time ago as a way of decreasing the Krogan population during a war between turians and krogans. Well, guess what? Saren found a cure for the genophage, and is turning things around for his benefit! He is now breeding Krogans to be a part of his fighting army. It’s for that reason that Kirrahe says this cure needs to be destroyed. Wrex doesn’t agree, obviously. These are his people and at last there is a cure to help his species. Wrex confronts Captain Kirrahe before Shep steps in.

Now what follows is the most jaw-dropping sequence I have experienced in Mass Effect so far..

Shep goes over to reason with Wrex. He is very disappointed a decision to kill the genophage cure will be enacted. Wrex considers Shep a problem and pulls a gun on him. At this point, the game gave me five choices in conversation, and one of them was “Shoot Wrex”. When I read that, I was like, “What?! NO!” I chose “We can work this out”.

We can work it out…we can work it out…. (Photo:

Well, immediately after I chose “We can work this out,” Ashley comes in from behind and:

POW! (

That’s right, Ashley shoots Wrex dead! I couldn’t believe it! The hubs and I looked at each other in shock!**

Pepe then returns to Kirrahe who has a plan to infiltrate Saren’s base, but it involves the use of one of Shep’s crew members. The game gave me Kaiden or Ashley to choose from to fight with the salarians. I chose Ashley, and here is why: Ashley always seemed to have an independent fighting spirit in the game. She always says she is ready for anything, and since she went ahead and shot Wrex on her own, I figured she would have enough in her to battle with the salarians for another showdown. I didn’t see this as punishment for shooting Wrex.

Until next time…

*I chose Garrus and Kaiden to accompany Pepe with no real rhyme or reason. I like Garrus, and only used Kaiden in the early parts of the game.

**The hubs has played Mass Effect at least 3 times and said he had Wrex die while he played, nor had ever heard of him dying in the game. Well, look what I accomplished! LOL

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 10

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

First-time reader and need context? Please go here.

Update from part 9 of the Gaming Diary:

Pepe Shep and crew head out into a snow storm to find the Bewwwbly Matriarch on the planet Noveria.


Part 5: Noveria


Plot Developments and Gameplay Combined:

Shep and crew pile into that confounded 6-wheeler known as the Mako, to power through a blizzard that is ravaging the planet Noveria. Their plan is to go find the Bewwwbly Matriarch up on an area hilariously called Peak 15 (at least it isn’t called “Peek” 15, although, we’ve all seen enough of them, haven’t we?)

With that, in case you’ve forgotten who this Bewwwbly Matriarch is:

i Ay Carumba ! [You’re welcome] (Photo:

The crew arrive at Peak 15 after fighting a ton of geth. The facility is shut down for the most part, and Shep needs to fix the power. Along the way, they encounter these…gross looking insect things called rachni that look like…blech!


The rachni (Photo:

These things called Rachni crawl around and appear when you least expect them. They also spit this green venom at you and send their babies to try and kill you. They weren’t that difficult to eradicate, fortunately but were all over the place.

Shep manages to find the main Peak 15 computer called “Mira” that educates Shep a bit in what happened there. Shep then goes deep into the computer’s core to reset its modules.

Folks, at this point, it’s CASUAL GAMING TIME!! Yep, that’s right, Mass Effect has casual gaming puzzles within! In order to repair the computer, you are made to do a Hanoi Tower puzzle! At last! Something I am familiar with!! I mean, how many hidden object puzzle games have I played that had this puzzle in it??

Mass Effect’s Tower of Hanoi puzzle – ahoy! (Photo:

The power is restored, and everyone’s happy, right? Time to go home, Pepe? Not so fast!

In our journey to find the Bewwwbly Matriarch, we encounter a security Commander charged with looking after the area. He informs Shep that the place is overrun by rachni (no sh!t, Sherlock…). Mrs. Bewwbs is in the hot labs shaking things up in there. Finally, we confront her there looking after a rachni queen locked in a glass chamber and she tells us how overpowering Saren’s Jedi mind tricks has over her. She has a window of sanity that is open long enough to explain the rachni are trainable beings that were being bred there to create foot soldiers for the Saren “destroy all humans” campaign.

What comes next sounds vaguely familiar…Originally, rachni were bred by the Protheans and used by them to fight in war. Of course, like the geth, they learned too much and turned on their masters. Back then, they managed to wreck havoc in the galaxy. The Protheans tried to eradicate them, killing over 200 worlds in the process. But, they didn’t get them all, and they managed to breed and colonize.

Big bugs colonizing and wrecking havoc?? I feel like I am talking about roaches and the Orkin man, here.

Sure, he can solve your silverfish problem, but what about rachnis? (Photo:

Anyway, things did not turn out well for Mrs. Bewwwbs…them hoots went to hooter heaven as she turned on Shep and crew, sending her troops on the attack. Shep made quick work of her.

The rachni queen talking through this asari soldier (who is actually dead…) (Photo:

The rachni queen locked in the glass chamber manages to talk to Shep through one of Mrs. Bewwbs’s dead asari soldiers, basically asking Shep to let her people go or kill them outright. Their life has been misery, and they just want to live in peace. She would make a point of teaching her children about Shep’s kindness. (Aww) I chose to let her go.

However, there are still evil rachni on Peak 15 that are beyond saving and continue to cause trouble. A neutron purge solved this after speaking with a lone researcher found in the hot labs who explains everything they were doing with the rachni there. Ironically, he gets impaled by a rachni, himself. Boo.

After eliminating the evil rachni, it was the end of this chapter. I have to say, this was the quickest chapter play ever in the game, and saw the most action. It flew by! I am managing to make sure I upgrade my weapons for each team member. I think this is what is helping me through the battles at this stage.

Instead of proceeding to my next chapter, I am taking the break to do some side missions that you can do if you want. Some of them involve landing on planets and picking up ore samples or investigating. Admittedly, I have had to bail out of a couple of them because the battle with some of the beasts was too intense, or I didn’t have enough technical experience to handle fixing certain things. Ah well.

Until next time…

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 9

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

First-time reader and need context? Please go here.

Update from Part 8 of the Gaming Diary:

On the planet Feros, Pepe Shep and crew seek and destroy the Thorian, a disgusting plant that has telepathic capabilities. It also is able to clone other organisms. This thorian was used in experiments against a colony of humans on Zhu’s Hope. And, of course, Saren was after it.

Shep also meets one of Saren’s worshippers, Shiala. She was held captive in the thorian and was cloned repeatedly. Shiala tried to help Shep with those visions he saw from the prothean beacon, but he still is having trouble interpreting them.


Chapter 5: Noveria

Plot Developments and Gameplay Combined:

Shep and crew head to Noveria because they received a report of geth interest in the planet and the council wants to know why.

This round, I chose Garrus and Liara to be on Shep’s crew. It was random reasoning why I chose these characters, but wound up being a good thing considering the plot developments that take place around Liara’s mum, the Bewwwbly Matriarch.

The Normandy lands on Noveria, and immediately the crew are met with some not-so-nice officers. Apparently, they don’t like it when you “swing by” unannounced. Shep uses his Spectre cred to gain entry. They then meet with someone named Gianna, an Administrative Assistant to a dude named Anoleis. It isn’t long in the introduction when she indiscreetly spills the beans about the Bewwwbly Matriarch paying a visit to the planet. We find out through the grapevine she is somewhere not accessible due to a snow storm in the area.

Anoleis (Photo:

We also meet Gianna’s boss who is a real d-bag, and not too pleased to see Shep. This guy reveals that Saren and Mrs. Bewwbs have business with the planet, and that no one will be able to leave because of the snow. Upon leaving, Gianna tells Shep to go talk to Lorik Qui’in, a turian.

On his way to the hotel lounge, an asari tries to get Shep to do some spying on a guy at the bar that works in biotic technology. The whole thing sounds shady and not something Shep would do, so I declined him from doing that task.

At the lounge, Lorik asks Shep for help. He says that the a-hole Anoleis is a corrupt SOB, and he has proof on his workstation computer – could Shep retrieve it?  Shep is willing to help in exchange for Lorik’s garage pass so his team can leave the area without trouble.

Lorik Qui’in (Photo:

The crew manages to retrieve the information Lorik needed, but holey, a lot of fighting and bloodshed.

On the way back, before returning the info to Lorik, Shep meets up with Gianna again, who reveals she is an undercover internal affairs agent who wants Shep to give her the information he got for Lorik, because Anoleis is corrupt; they need hard evidence. She asks Shep to somehow convince Lorik to testify before the executive board of the planet. I chose to give Lorik the info he wanted in exchange for the garage pass. I also told Lorik that they wanted him to testify in front of the executive board, to which Lorik said, “Screw that!”

Gianna…Those eyes, those crazy-ass eyes… (

Here are my reasons for why things went down like they did:  I could have done everything this lady wanted me to…given her all the info, forced Lorik to testify…Honestly, though, Gianna did not convince me that she was genuine in helping anyone but herself. And by the way, the last time I checked, Pepe Shep was Spectre. I was shocked by Gianna’s reaction to the outcome with Lorik: she freaked out when she didn’t get her way and kicked them all out when she found out what transpired. You see? I was right about her…

Thanks to Lorik, Shep is armed with a garage pass. Knowing we are now on a bolo for the bewwwbly matriarch, it’s time to get back in that confounded mako, put on our toques and get ready for the wintry Noveria weather ahead.


Until next time…

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 8

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

First-time reader and need context? Please go here.


Update from Part 7 of the Gaming Diary:

Shep, Garrus and Wrex manage to destroy the geth’s “mother brain” on ExoGeni. They also learn that ExoGeni was studying a plant / organism called the thorian that infects by releasing spores into the air, and using telepathic capabilities to control those infected. In some cases, they are able to use pain to control the infected. ExoGeni has used this plant in experiments on the people staying at Zhu’s Hope, with terrible consequences. Now many of the people at Zhu’s Hope are infected, and Shep needs to go find this dangerous plant as he knows Saren is also after it.

Chapter 4: Feros


Plot Developments and Gameplay Combined:

Get yo’ Gravol, Immodium, Pepto Bismol or whatever you need to keep yourself from tossing your cookies, ’cause:


Shep and crew go back to Zhu’s Hope to find this “thorian”. Immediately, they are attacked by infected colonists and what appear to be human alien zombies. They were easy enough to kill, but there were so many of them. Once you come upon the thorian, you are made to shoot at certain nodes of this plant / organism to destroy it.

Seriously, nothing prepared me for the most disgusting moment in Mass Effect I have ever encountered thus far.

The Thorian. eww gross… (Photo:

How do I describe this…thorian thing? Remember in Aliens when you finally get to see the queen alien laying those nasty eggs? (Oh, God, I am squeamish thinking about it.) That is what it was like seeing this thorian and it had its own unique talent of laying…green asari clones, complete with green goop. So gross! The thorian would speak through these asaris espousing that they were superior beings to humans, calling themselves the “old growth.” That whole thing was bizarre.

The thorian “lays” an asari clone *Shudder… (Photo:

When Shep finally destroyed the thorian, we are introduced to an asari by the name of Shiala, who was held captive in the thorian (creepy!). Shiala was a follower of the bewwwbly matriarch. We learn Mrs. bewwwbs was trying to steer Saren down a gentler path, but didn’t succeed, and now she is under his spell. Shiala also became a follower of Saren.

Shiala (

Saren used the thorian to get more information on the visions he experienced from the beacon – the same visions that Shep experienced. Because the visions were complex and uninterpretable, Saren bargained with the thorian for the Prothean cipher. A cipher in this context is receiving an understanding of what it’s like to be a Prothean – basically their culture, how they think and their collective consciousness. In order for Saren to obtain such knowledge from the thorian, he gave the thorian Shiala. Shiala can “absorb” that Prothean cipher from the thorian naturally as an asari. She then could download all that knowledge into Saren which is what she ended up doing. Saren then threw her under the bus (or under the plant, as it were…) and the thorian absorbed her, and cloned an evil version of her over and over for its own defenses. Saren then sent the geth over to kill the plant to prevent Shep from getting to it at all.

Shiala was repulsed with her involvement in the whole operation. As a way of repentance, she decides to download the same cipher into Shep, ‘ cause Shep’s visions of the Protheans is very confusing. Let me tell you, Shiala’s mind meld didn’t help Shep any more (nor me for that matter). Those visions Shep experienced wound up to be even more mysterious and troubling with Shiala’s help.

I know the game gave you an option to kill Shiala, but I had Shep let her go. She wanted to go to Zhu’s Hope to help rebuild the colony there, so Shep let her.

Heading back to the ship, Shep finds Fai Dan who is infected from the thorian. He points a gun at Shep under thorian influence, but before Shep can defend himself, Fai Dan turns the gun on himself.

On the Normandy, Shep debriefs everyone. He tells them about Shiala and the mind-meld experience. Liara, also an asari with powerful mind-meld capabilities tries to help Shep through what he experienced recently with Shiala. After another “cipher” experience, Liara says that Shep has a strong will and she has learned so much from those visions in terms of what happened to the protheans…uh, What? Sorry, but for every mind meld Shep has experienced, the game just replays the same “vision” over and over. I can’t make sense of it, and neither can Shep. Hopefully we’ll have some clarity on that soon because I can’t figure it out.

Until next time…

* In a past life, I worked in a hospital dietary department. I’ve seen (and smelled) some nasty sh!t. I have a cast iron stomach for that stuff, but nothing prepared me for what I witnessed this round. *burp!

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 7

This is my Seventh 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?

Diary Entries: IntroFirstSecondThirdFourth, Fifth, Sixth

Update from Part 6 of the Gaming Diary:

On the planet Feros, the leader of the Zhu’s Hope, Fai Dan, tells Pepe Shep and crew to go to ExoGeni, a company that specializes in researching alien technology. This facility has become overrun by geth, so of course Shep needs to eradicate them! Into the trusty Mako the crew goes!


Chapter 4: Feros


Plot Developments

Shep, Garrus and Wrex load into the Mako and head out to ExoGeni. The trip is made difficult by geth barricading themselves at entrance ways and tunnels. Meanwhile, we can hear some radio transmissions that sound like humans in ExoGeni. Sure enough, once inside, we find a small group of humans hiding out there. We learn they are under attack by geth and they have no idea why. The geth have set up cables around the facility to prevent communication with the outside.

We meet Ethan and Juliana. Ethan is a representative of ExoGeni and a bit of a d-bag. His feels responsible for protecting ExoGeni’s interests (and SECRETS!). Juliana is missing her daughter Lizbeth, a scientist working in the ExoGeni HQ. Shep offers to find Lizbeth. On their way out, Shep also picks up another mission from Gavin Hossle, a dude needing access to database information. Shep offers to retrieve what Gavin needs.

After killing some geth, Shep and crew find Lizbeth alone. She says that she is not sure what the geth are after here. We later learn from a VI computer that it is the thorian they are after; a plant / organism with telepathic capabilities. The thorian has the ability to emit spores that infect those that inhale it, making those infected under complete control of the plant. The thorian can even send pain signals telepathically to those infected. Turns out in the end, this thorian has been used in a very sinister way; ExoGeni has tested it on Fai Dan’s peeps at Zhu’s Hope. This explains why in the previous chapter, Shep runs into a guy acting very strangely at Zhu’s Hope (Ian Newstead). This guy was under the thorian’s influence.

As Shep explores ExoGeni, we get to see exactly what the geth were building – some sort of mother brain with tentacles. Shep and crew managed to kill it by using a steel trap door to cut off its main line.

Shep takes Lizbeth back to her mom, Juliana. Once there, we find Ethan freaking out, pointing a gun at Juliana. He knows about the experiments with the thorian happening on Zhu’s Hope. He was preventing anyone from leaving to go back to Zhu’s Hope. He told them Fai Dan’s people are “probably” dead. He knew full well they could be infected with whatever it is the thorian emits. Shep ends up shooting and killing Ethan when he refused to drop his weapon (wha?!)!  The crew then hears from Joker on the Normandy; the people back at Zhu’s Hope are panicking! Time to go back there to handle the situation.

Gameplay Notes

First thing on the agenda is to drive the crew around in that confounded 6 wheeler Mako. That thing is a pain in the ass. I’m running into walls while getting by butt kicked by geth. Glad the game didn’t have Wrex criticize Pepe’s driving like, “Dude, ya been up the pub or what?” Thankfully that tank takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’, ’cause when I saw that ambush of geth, all I did was mow them all down. Screw that shooting sh!t! It worked!

Then I became LOST!! So lost!


I spent the good part of an hour running around ExoGeni, trying to find my way out of that maze. For the most part, the game does things smartly, providing you with a doorway when there wasn’t one initially, or blocking access to a stairway to tell you, “don’t go there”. But this time, I encountered so many stairwells!! I was so lost!

It turned out to be my fault in the end…I hadn’t completed one last assignment (the trap door that chops the mother brain claw off). Once that was done, I could move on.

For the first time, I noticed the consequence of my actions in terms of Shep. Shep killing Ethan seemed a little surprising to me, and I think it had a lot to do with my dialogue choices. Just before he turned the gun on him, there were conversation choices that were actually greyed out – meaning, there were several dialogue choices displayed, but I could not access them all. Interesting! Makes me wonder what it was I chose previously to exclude those lines of conversation.

My next task is to head back to Zhu’s Hope. Who knows what I’ll find going back there! Until next time…

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 6

This is my Sixth 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?

Diary Entries: IntroFirstSecondThirdFourth, Fifth

Update from Part 5 of the Gaming Diary:

When last I left the game, “Pepe” Shep had become a Spectre, and Saren got his Spectre designation stripped, thanks to a quarian by the name of Tali. If you will recall, Saren is a turian, once on the “right side of the law” who is now in cahoots with a machine race called the geth. The geth want to rule to galactic empire and destroy all life with the help of a beacon that has some sort of amazing telekinetic / intergalactic travel capabilities. Why are the geth and Saren involved? Saren is power-hungry, and the geth want Saren to bring back (resurrect?) their “robotic messiahs”, the Reapers. These original hyper-machine droids were capable of obliterating a whole planet of Protheans and then disappearing into the darkness, never to be seen again. Now the geth want the beacon to bring these bot boys back.


Chapter 2: the Citadel


If you will recall from Part 2 of my gaming diary, I had told you about the bewwwbly Matriarch who was also involved with Saren to get the beacon. At the end of Chapter 2, we learn a bit about the Matriarch. She is at the end of her life, revered in her community, and a cranky bitch in need of a sport bra, apparently…Her involvement with this whole Saren thing is questioned in the Citadel Council. It is concluded after Shep is made Spectre that he needs to find the Matriarch’s daughter, Liara, is a scientist on Artemis Tau, a planet in the galaxy. She specializes in Prothean research and is being sought by Saren. Shep needs to find her before it’s too late! With Garrus and Wrex on Shep’s team (my  choice), it’s time to go do some intergalactic travel!

Liara T’Soni (Photo:

Chapter 3: Artemis Tau

Plot Developments:

Shep and crew land on Artemis Tau – a desolate, but lava-filled planet invaded by geth. After many a gun-battle, Shep locates Liara and invites her to come with them back to the Normandy, which she takes him up on. Just then, another kogan Bounty hunter working for Saren shows up with a group of geth. A battle ensues, and of course, Shep manages to kill them all. Everyone returns to the ship safely.

The next mission involves the geth and their attack on a colony on the planet Feros.

Before going onward to the next planet, you are given the opportunity to go around Normandy and speak with all the characters about their histories and culture. I liked this but my thorough investigation was all because I couldn’t figure out the map! (More on that later. ) Going around the ship, you are also given the chance to bone up the crew’s gear, and given a chance to do a little shopping. I got a bit more money to spend this round and wound up investing in a level4 assault rifle. YEEHAW!

At the end of this chapter, we are given the opportunity to create Shep’s crew for Feros. I again chose Garrus and Wrex, and loaded them up with the best weapons and helmets at my disposal.

Chapter 4: Feros

Landing on the planet Feros, we are told to find Fai Dan, leader of the Zhu’s Hope colony. The colony is overrun by geth, and Shep’s mission is to kill the geth transmitter found in some tunnels around the colony, and kill any geth they find.

I had to find Fai Dan first thing. I did, but got shot at by geth, then got disoriented and couldn’t find him again on the map. It was a bit weird; I had the crew travel through the tunnels, and along the way solved some unknown-to-me assignments, such as turning on the water valve, finding some power cells and killing a big animal for the colony to feast on. I didn’t realize it until later when Shep talked with some of the colonists after killing the transmitter that he should have probably talked to them first. Ah well, it all worked out, the colonists were thankful for the help, and gave Shep and crew some scratch for their trouble – right on!

We were also introduced to Ian Newstead;  a guy who is by himself in the tunnels who has essentially lost it. He is alone, muttering to himself and can barely carry on a conversation without screaming.

Fai Dan directs the crew to go to ExoGeni, a company that specializes in intergalactic exploration and colonization – it has also become overrun with geth. This company secured resource rights of planets with undiscovered alien technology, i.e. Prothean  tech, which means it’s also in the geth cross-hairs.

Gameplay Notes

I get to go into the galaxy and explore the different planets. WOOHOO! Exciting times!

The intergalactic Map (Photo:

I remember when the hubs played this game – whenever he would be in the galaxy map in Mass Effect, this beautiful new age dreamy music would play that almost put me to sleep. I love that I can port to a different planet so easily!

When Shep first lands on Artemis Tau, he and crew are in a 6-wheeler vehicle with an automatic rifle attached called a Mako. I got to manoeuvre this thing around. If anyone has ever watched me try to drive a car in a game, it’s really something to laugh about.

Never mind, I managed to fail my mission once for driving my vehicle into the hot lava drink (Ooops…)!

There is plenty of action over the last couple of chapters as geth are coming out of the woodwork. I have to admit to not succeeding in every gun battle, but I got through them. I learned how to change guns and gear up all of my teammates mid battle, as well as how to heal myself. This knowledge base has helped immensely.

Another thing – SAVING YOUR GAME!! Whenever I was allowed to, I saved my game, because you never know when you’ll get killed and have to revert back to a battle you have already fought, which sucks.

Now, about the map that allows you to travel to different planets; it threw me off. See, I understood that my next mission was to go to the planet Feros, but couldn’t figure out how to get there using the map controls. I just figured I needed to complete some character convos with other characters in the game to get permitted to travel. No, turns out all I had to do was Zoom out on the map further. My total Duh-huh moment…At least I learned more about the players in the game, which is never a waste of time.

Finally, the conversation choices haven’t been that exciting. The human crew of the Normandy are being very up front about their feelings concerning working with aliens – they don’t trust them. Shep tells them to get over it. Suck it up and do it; which is what any Commander would tell their crew.

Until next time…

[Gaming Diary] Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Part 5

This is my fifth 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?

Diary Entries: Intro, First, Second, Third, Fourth

Update from Part 4 of the Gaming Diary:

Shepard and crew are told by Harkin that they can find Garrus, a C-Sec officer at the medical clinic on one of the wards of the Citadel. If you will recall, Garrus investigated Saren in an attempt to have his Spectre rights taken away for a suspicion in two areas:  alliance with the geth and his desire to have the beacon for himself to wipe intergalactic life off the map. Garrus was not able to complete his investigation by the time Saren was brought in front of the Council.


Chapter 2: The Citadel


Plot Developments

Shep and crew go to the medical office to find Garrus who himself is trying to locate a quarian (an alien) who might have some information linking Saren to the geth. We find out that, yes, the quarian had been there – was treated for gunshot wounds and was looking for a Shadow Broker to trade some information for a safe place to stay. The Doctor who treated her sent her to a guy named Fist, an agent to the Shadow Broker. As it turns out this Fist dude is actually working for Saren, which means this quarian could be snuffed out unless Shep et. al can get to her in time.

Garrus meets Shep at the clinic and manages to become part of his crew. Garrus’s opinion is, even though they are both turians,  Saren is a disgrace to his people. At this point, Garrus tells Shep that the Shadow Broker has hired Wrex, a krogan bounty hunter, to take Fist out. Plans are made to find him.

Fist happens to be back at the peeler bar where Harkin was originally, and word got out that Shep was going to show up. Immediately his crew is under attack. After succeeding in killing off Fist’s crew, Shepard turned into a badass with gun to Fist’s head, demanding information on the quarian! Fist acknowledges that the quarian is being held captive because of information she knows about Saren. Amazingly, Shep cools down and lets Fist go, telling him he never wants to see him again.


Finally, we are introduced to this quarian, who goes by the name of Tali. She is an unsettling-looking character as her face is covered behind a strange mask. She tells the crew what she knows: that she does have intel linking Saren to the geth, which stems from retrieving audio recordings from a dead geth. We also get some backstory on this race of geth: that the quarians invented the geth and that the quarians had to go into exile once the geth revolted. We also find out these geth worship the Reapers – the first and most revered “hyper-intelligent machine race”. The Reapers were responsible for the destruction of the Prothean civilization, and haven’t been seen in a long time. The geth are using Saren as a prophet to bring them back, and take over the galaxy. Shep believes the information Tali has is enough to take Saren down.

Before heading to the Citadel Tower with the evidence, we meet Wrex, who is the Bounty Hunter looking for Fist. Wrex thanks Shep for “taking care of Fist”, and pays him money for doing so. Now Wrex wants to come along.

With Tali’s help, the Citadel Council brought Saren to task, stripping him of his Spectre rights, and giving Shep Spectre rights himself!

Can I just say, WOW to this story. I am completely riveted by it!

Gameplay notes

We see a ton of action at this point in the story. Basically, every room Shep went into, he was being attacked by an assassin or a thug.

The original members of Shepard’s team consisted of Shep, Ashley Williams and Kaiden. In this segment we had three new characters that joined Shepard’s crew – Garrus, Tali the quarian and Wrex the Bounty Hunter.


Garrus was the first to join. Because Garrus needs to be a part of my team, this meant I had to switch out either Kaiden or Ashley, as Shep is only allowed two other members. This menu you accessed to pick your squad on Shep’s team honestly confused me, as it has each character available standing there with coloured bars above their heads. I assume they indicate how much strength each character holds, yet, you click on the character and a “strength” menu indicating basic, tech and combat strength pops up in the same colour scheme as what is above the character’s head and it indicates a different strength! Confusing! I could be wrong, but I thought Ashley had only combat skills and Kaiden had more versatile skills. Based on that I switched Ashley out, keeping Kaiden and bringing Garrus in. For Tali, I switched out Kaiden, and lastly, when I no longer needed Tali, I added Wrex to Shep’s team. I don’t know if I am doing the right things with this but I seem to be progressing just fine in the game, for what it’s worth.

There haven’t been any real hard conversation decisions that Shep has had to make this time (that I’ve noticed…)

Last thing I am going to talk about are the side missions!!

If you actually spend time exploring the different areas in the game, you get a chance to interact with side characters, have side convos and get asked to do side missions! So far, I have been involved in two.

There is one side mission where you are given a scanner and asked to scan these crab-like creatures around the Citadel. Easy enough to do, and it’s supposed to give you some money.

There is also a scenario you are presented with where you stop to help a man return his wife’s body back home to him. She was an officer and casualty of the war on Eden Prime. You are asked to speak to someone who can pull some strings, but you find out the body is being held for analysis. I tried asking this guy questions to persuade him to let the wife’s body go, but there was no chance. I left it alone and told the man I was sorry, but that I was not about to go against an executive order.

You can ignore the side missions if you want, but I have decided to try them if I come across them.

Until next time…

[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


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…


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.


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…