[Written on GIO.]
***Major Plot Spoilers!***
For those of you who do not or did not know, I recently finished my month and a half long endeavor to complete the entirety of the Mass Effect trilogy (all DLC included) with a character ranging from the first to third game. My chosen representative for this sojourn was none other than Commander John Shepard, Sole Survivor and Earthborn soldier. Without further ado, allow me to start talking about the ways I conquered each difficult choice thrown at me in each of the three games and their downloadable components. I will begin with the first game.
Part One: Making the Tough Calls
Mass Effect 1
Fans of the Mass Effect series know that no single decision has an easy consequence, or set of ramifying consequences, and the first game rammed that home even before the series was a big name on BioWare’s already prestigious games resume. This having been said, it should come as no surprise that right off the bat, your service history is thrown on the table- open to customization per your choice. Do you want to be an earthborn orphan? Or maybe a spaceborn civilian? Or maybe even a colonist on a remote colony decimated by slavers? And after you’ve chosen your origins, it’s time to pick your designated military background- ruthless mercenary, war hero of the Elysium, or sole survivor of a terrible thresher maw ambush. It’s been five minutes, but Mass Effect already has your mind thinking things over, weighing choices and opportunities, and unknowingly changing the course of the next three games to suit your background in question. That is what it’s like to become Commander Shepard. Now, with the introduction out of the way, let’s move on to the brief descriptions of the major decisions in ME1’s plot- and the outcomes I experienced in this playthrough.
Noveria Pt. One
There are several ways to be granted access to the garage level in order to make your way to the mountain peak housing one of Saren’s operational research centers. Instead of choosing any one method, I went for a mixture of two or three of them, with marginally different results. I took the Hanar merchant Opold up on his offer to smuggle goods to a Krogan, opting to trade it for a higher price with the Krogan and keeping the creds for myself. After this exchange, I met with a local businessman with some dirt on the corrupt Administrator withholding access to the garage levels, and retrieved some data of his thereby convincing him to go to court and file a suit against said Administrator. After this exchange, I uncovered an administrative assistant who was actually a private investigator also looking for dirt on the previously mentioned Admin. Needless to say, after a little cajoling and diplomacy, and hog tying the Admin- she gave me that garage pass and I was on my way.
Noveria Pt. Two
After arriving to Peak 15 and finally getting through the hordes of mutant Rachni and soldiers, and tying up loose ends where Liara’s matriarch mother is concerned- you have your first encounter with the Rachni Queen. This may or may not be your last, but you are presented with two options: let her live and go free to reign in her species and live out her life, or eradicate her and her children for the threats they present. I chose to let the Queen go, which may or may not have repercussions later on…
Arriving on Feros, it was suddenly clear enough that a lot more was wrong than Geth activity and attacks from spacefaring mercenaries. Something really fishy was going on. It only took a little bit of careful research and exploration to recognize that the insidious Exogeni Corporation had their hands in a lot of bags they weren’t supposed to be in- mind controlling plants and cloning being two of them. After making my way through the Geth hubs and fighting back to a pocket of safety where several survivors had taken up residence, the Exogeni team leader on Feros decided he wanted to purge the nearby colony they had been illegally experimenting on. So I, being the paragon and diplomat I am, talked him out of it of course. And then proceeded to waltz through the colonial encampment, knocking out enthralled colonists rather than killing them- saving them for later, and giving them a second chance. After destroying the evil influence of the so-called Thorian and its clones, I freed the strange Asari and sent her on her way- after gathering what information I could on Saren and his fleets of course. And that was Feros. Then it was off to Virmire…
Virmire Pt. One
Virmire will go down in the Mass Effect books as one of the most morally and physically challenging missions of Shepard’s career- meaning it was a difficult time and offered up several difficult choices. The first of which being Urdnot Wrex’s brush with death at the hands of Ashley and Kaidan, after his outburst about whether or not the cloned Krogan should be considered his own people, and whether or not they should willingly allow the Salarians and others to destroy the genophage cure Saren has concocted. I eventually, diplomatically as ever, resolved the situation and assured Wrex that I would do everything in my power to help his people, and that it was paramount that we destroy the cure for the time being so as to avoid Saren creating more soldiers and strengthening his fleets. Wrex then followed me into battle, however stubbornly afterwards.
Virmire Pt. Two
Here comes what is undeniably the hardest choice of the first Mass Effect game- a true do or die situation if there ever was one. Shepard’s crew plants a several megaton nuclear bomb, and selects a person to defend it, as well as one to travel in with the Salarian STG operators who provide covering fire for the infiltration team. I decided to send Kaidan with the Salarians and their brave captain, while Ashley came with me and Garrus and other crew members. After we made our way through the base, not knowing the situation on the other end, or if any of the Salarians or Kaidan had even survived, we successfully armed the warhead and fought off Saren’s assault. Then came the crunch time. Kaidan came across the comm as the last surviving member of the pinned down unit, and asked for assistance. However, Saren now had Ashley pinned down at the bombsite. Who did I choose? Kaidan urged me to go to Ashely’s aid, and I did. We fought off Saren as the Normandy arrived for a hot evac, but we had to leave one of our own behind. Sadly, that dreadful day on Virmire, we lost Kaidan in the resulting explosion that wracked the facility…
Citadel Pt. One
The Citadel has always been a big focus in Mass Effect lore, and is also a major hub of activities in all three games. It seems only right that the final confrontation of the first game should take place here then, with the Geth attackers being ousted by the Alliance fleets, and Sovereign destroyed by the Normandy and several other flagships. At one point, near the end of the fight, the Destiny Ascension- the Alliance ship bearing the council members of the Citadel, comes under heavy fire, and requests immediate help. You have the option to ignore their please for help and continue the fight right then, or to sacrifice a few ships for protection. I chose to save the council, which earned not only their gratification, but their support in the times to come. Even if I lost a few lives that day doing so.
Citadel Pt. Two
As you begin to shoot that final shot in order to finish off Saren’s indoctrinated self, a small little cutscene initiates. Saren and Sovereign realize that they are slowly being pushed back, and Sovereign begins to reassert its control more firmly. This gives the former Spectre a moment to break free of the indoctrinating mind control spell he has been under. He begs you to finish him off, or else he will be forced to kill you. Through careful negotiation and paragon usage however, I managed to convince him to take his own life, that being the only honorable way out of the situation he had created. And thus ended Saren’s reign of terror- well, at least until Sovereign reanimated his corpse and used its husk to fight me. But it’s okay, I blew them both up anyways.
Citadel Pt. Three
Ah, and now we near the final minutes of the first game…or at least the main story anyways. Seeing as the council members survived due to my aid, and are grateful for once that I was around, they offer humanity a seat on the council. The ever-conniving Udina begs that I choose him, the obviously most qualified person for the job. But I notice that Captain Anderson is in the room as well. So, in one of the acts that brings me dangerously close to breaking my 100% paragon challenge due to the spitefulness involved, I choose Anderson…of course. I mean, he deserves it more anyways. So, there you have it.
Bring Down the Sky
In many ways, sending an asteroid towards a fully colonized planet can easily get a Spectre to come after you, or even to want to kill you. But when you offer in a further morality check by rigging hostages to blow and then forcing that Spectre to let you walk free, yeah, you could say it’s really going to piss him off. This is just what the Batarian terrorist Balak does in the Bring Down the Sky DLC for Mass Effect 1, and it is an action that is sure to have repercussions later- as I made sure. Being the paragon I was, I swallowed my pride and kept my honor intact, vowing to catch Balak one day but letting him go free so long as the hostages’ lives were guaranteed. It hurt, sure- but it was the right thing to do.
Part Two: The Journey Continues
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 1 may have had some tough morality checks, but you haven’t seen anything until you witness the many flagrant and varied decisions that you must make in the second game. Not only are the stakes much bigger and the adventure much more difficult and long, but you’ve got more hopes riding on you this time and more lives in your hands. You could say it’s somewhat of a dangerous and suicidal undertaking, and you’d certainly be right. It doesn’t get much worse than traveling through an unknown and uncharted relay into no man’s land. It most certainly does not…
The game starts the moral questions soon after control is given to players. This one is quite simple however: give Veetor, the Quarian, the chance to recover with the Migrant Fleet, or send him off like a cargo package to Cerberus and the Illusive Man for… “questioning”. I chose to take Tali at her word, based on our relations in the previous game, so I gave Veetor his life and sanity back. And the Quarians promised to give me some information that he had discovered on the Collectors, so heroism and honor didn’t lose out too terribly much.
Mordin’s loyalty mission was an…interesting one, to say the least. Going into the Krogan homeworld with little to no data on what one of Mordin’s old friends was up to was quite an unsettling experience, and one I’d sooner not repeat given the chance. Maelon, it turns out, was actually experimenting on curing the genophage by torturing female Krogan with experiments that simply did not work as well as he had intended. When Mordin was well and ready enough to simply shoot Maelon however, I stopped him, and explained as to why we should at least salvage the data for later use. Which definitely helped during ME3, and saved a life or two as well- even if he didn’t deserve it.
After receiving a distress call from the Alliance cruiser that his father had been serving on before h ultimately disappeared, Jacob and Shepard go down to the planet’s surface and investigate. Turns out, unsurprisingly, that not everything is as it seems, and that there was a splitting up of two factions in the ranks- the food hoarding officers, and the unruly crewmembers forced to survive on brain altering toxic plants. Once you finally confront Jacob’s father Ronald, you are given the option to kill him yourself, let the crew ultimately discover him and do the job for you, or convince him to come with you as an Alliance prisoner. The only true renegade decision is to kill him, but you can retain your paragon status whilst letting the crew take care of them as they see fit, so Jacob and I waltzed off, leaving him with a pistol placed conveniently close enough to look really appealing when faced with certain death and torture. He took that route, I’d say.
***Tune In Next Time for Parts 2 and 3***