Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mass Effect 1: Death of a Marine (SPOILER)

I hope to get a more formal post, soon, but this would be a good sample of what it is this blog is taking aim at. I'm playing Mass Effect 1 at the moment, yes, late to the game, and I hit the "Sophie's Choice" scenario. What I find interesting is that a) I made my decision, rather quickly, based solely on gameplay mechanics, and b) I had an emotional reaction to the outcome.


At a certain point in the game, you're asked to make a choice. Save one character or another, and you do not have the power to save both. One is setting a bomb for a suicide mission, the other is being overwhelmed by geth. It really doesn't matter where you assign them in the beginning because the choice will still come up in the end.

I chose Ashley because I'd spent considerable time developing Ashley as a romantic interest. There was also a somewhat strategic decision, as I needed a character with weapon expertise to keep around over biotics and tech ability. Someone superior to Garrus and Wrex, in effect. Story wise this also made sense, though I admit I surprisingly didn't spend much time thinking about that.

Kaidan Alenko is, unfortunately, Kaidan. While he was the senior member of the crew, my character, Max, and I has only known him for the length of the game itself. I also figured that I could finally get his migraines to stop. You see, unlike Ash, there wasn't too much to Kaidan outside of some sort of angst that existed soley as a backstory. I took him along on biotic themed missions, and still, no commentary, no connection was made to this brother in arms. To me, at the time, he was just a gameplay mechanic.

The choice was made, I went back to Ashley and a boss fight with Saren himself. One that felt pretty epic. The consequences were interesting. I angered Ashley when I picked her over Kaiden, and she calmed down quickly when I let her know that it wasn't a fair choice no matter what I did.

Then, after the conference, I ran out the conference room, turned around and went downstairs to do my usual round of character discussion.

And there was no Kaidan. None. He was gone. No longer in that spot doing, well, whatever it is he does when he's on the ship.

And I felt it.

There's something to that. I, as Max Shepherd, made a decision, and the consequence of that decision was right there beside me. No longer do I talk to the man. I can't ask for his advice and assessment of the situation. I can't talk to him about his much belabored backstory.

Goodbye Kaidan, you will be missed.

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