Thursday, November 13, 2014

30 Day Mass Effect Challenge, Day 13: Favorite Storyline Mission

You know, with all of the missions that Shepard and Company go on throughout the Mass Effect series, you'd think that picking just one as your favorite would be a daunting, near impossible task. For me, however, this was not the case. Of course, I did decide that I was going to choose one mission from each game, but that's because I'm ornery. I'll try to keep them short, but for ME3, you're going to have to give me a little leeway because I love it so much. Anyway, here you go:

Mass Effect - Virmire
Via Mass Effect Wiki
Yay, I get to leave Ashley to die in the blast!! In all seriousness, I liked this mission because it was one of the more action-focused of the main missions. With Therum, Feros, and Noveria, there was a lot of walking around and talking to people before you got to the meat of the operation, but with Virmire, you set down and automatically started fighting the geth. Once that part is over, you meet Kirrahe ("HOLD THE LINE.") and the rather stoic salarian squad sent to the planet before you. Then you get the confrontation with Wrex, ultimately deciding the fate of the krogan in that very moment, and go off to confront Saren for the first time in the game, shooting up geth colossuses (colossi??), armatures, and foot soldiers the whole way. I also really enjoyed interacting with the people who'd been captured and/or indoctrinated by Sovereign, slowly peeling away the layers for that big reveal that Sovereign, a sentient Reaper, is the "vanguard of your destruction." It was just such a beautifully paced mission that the others just didn't hold a candle to it, even the final mission on the Citadel.

Mass Effect 2 - Collector Base
Via Nibler
Yet again, this was quite possibly one of the most perfect missions that is quite fitting for a final end run in any game. The ability to actually plan the assault by selecting certain crew members for particular tasks was such a great change from the first game, where basically everybody else was just waiting back on the Normandy while three people (???) went after Saren and his geth minions. I was always so worried that one of my comrades* would die in the battle**, and at every cut scene, I found myself holding my breath, hoping that they'd survive. God, trying new squad assignments was so hard for me because I kept on thinking, "But what if they aren't the right choice and that gets one of my people killed???" The only "meh" part was the final fight with the Proto-Reaper, but that's just because I found it exceptionally repetitive. But after that, I got to blow the Collector base sky high (I only kept it intact for Cerberus research in one playthrough), pissing off Harbinger in the process. If it felt emotions, I guess. All in all, a great mission.

Mass Effect 3 - Priority: Tuchanka
Via Mass Effect Wiki
I wasn't kidding when I said that the krogan were my favorite alien species. I was so emotionally invested in their future, and seeing their ancient past brought so much joy to me that it was almost worth Mordin dying. WHAT, I SAID ALMOST. Normally, I kind of find exploring places to be a little boring, especially in a game like Mass Effect, but the krogan ruins (plus the green plants!!) made it nearly impossible not to waste time looking at the architecture and symbols painted on the walls. Whoever designed their artistic*** style was downright brilliant: it captured the blunt, yet gracefully simplistic nature of the krogan, matching perfectly with their view of the universe. Being immersed in what they once were - a noble, hopeful people - gave me the full ability to believe that they could achieve that again, now that the genophage was cured.

(Note: the only time I didn't cure the genophage was when I started a Mass Effect 3 game without importing from the second, and every other playthrough of mine had me helping the krogan, even when I was playing as a renegade. I just could. not. do. it.)

The actual combat was a lot of fun, too, especially considering the dialogue between Mordin and Wrex:
MORDIN: Thresher maw getting closer!
WREX: Tell me something I don't know!
MORDIN: Metal in truck excellent iron supplement for maw's diet!
Dodging Reaper claws and brutes isn't necessarily the easiest, but I found that, if you just dash through them (avoiding the dark shadows of the claws and not really caring if your squadmates are functioning, of course), it's fairly quick work, if you're not playing on a higher difficulty****. Then you get to kill your first Reaper in the game! And it is, indeed, such a spectacle for the krogan to recount for generations to come, including the part where Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws, wrestles the squealing Reaper into the ground. Both Three and I cheered loudly when we first witnessed it, and we were not even remotely embarrassed about it. Unfortunately, Mordin sacrifices himself, in what may possibly one of the most moving cut scenes in history, to save the people he had afflicted with a genetic curse. Sigh. Following your harrowing victory, you get to bond with Wrex and Bakara (who finally reveals her true name to you), and the story progresses.

A big part of why this was my favorite mission is because it didn't just start in Mass Effect 3. From the moment you decide on Virmire to spare or kill Wrex, the krogan redemption or demise has begun. Through your friendship with Wrex, you begin to see the krogan as people, not mindless hulks of violence (even though they'd probably prefer that description), and in the second game, you discover the fruits of your labor, finding Wrex is trying to unite the clans at least somewhat peacefully. There's a glimmer of hope that they can rise above the animals they've been made out to be. Of course, by the time you get to the third game, the stage has been set, and finally witnessing the release of the krogan from over a century of punishment is one of the most beautiful moments in gaming history. Makes me tear up a little, actually.


* Not really the case with Jacob, but I am guessing you already knew that. 
** Mordin died in one of my playthroughs, and in another, Tali somehow was killed, although I didn't find out about it until I returned to the ship. I nearly cried both times. 
*** I absolutely love this artist's rendition of krogan art. If you haven't checked out her other pieces, you should do so. The asari and quarian versions are gorgeous, too. And you can buy prints!! 
Via Stellar State Logic
**** Normally, I'm a completionist about my games, but I cannot bring myself to play on insanity (or legendary on Halo). I tried playing it at that difficulty once and just got so frustrated that I was like, "NEVER. AGAIN." Three, on the other hand, likes the challenge, and, although he has yet to play through Mass Effect, he did get me the achievement of completing Halo: Reach on legendary. Thanks, Husfriend!
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