Of Protheans and Quarians

Wow… a couple posts all within a couple days of each other.  Will wonders never cease?

Meanwhile, I have gone from being reluctant to commenting on other creative works to doing so twice in roughly 48 hours.  But eh… whatever.

(SPOILERS ARE FORTHCOMING, BECAUSE PEOPLE PRETEND TO NOT LIKE THEM… EVEN THOUGH THEY DO.)

In my last (fairly long-winded) rant, I commented about Mass Effect 3’s DLC “From Ashes”, and suspected that some very angry people were jumping to conclusions that may or may not be true.  Having now finally purchased and played such DLC personally, I feel safe to say that my initial suspicions on the matter feel very much correct to me.

I can see why Bioware (or EA) rejected this plot line as being a central element to the story.  To have this element being vital to the storyline would have felt like a glorious ass-pull; conveniently finding a surviving member of a race that made the initial designs for the weapon the Alliance was now trying to build?  There was very little chance that Bioware’s writers could have sold me on that, and for as difficult as I can be on myself when it comes to plot devices, I am notoriously easy to please when experiencing others.

It would have been horrible, but in the constraints it is currently in, it works… better.  I still think the entire premise is fairly fundamentally silly, but in its current form it creates a nice backstory lore and makes some very interesting observations on how people will read their own biases into things, whether or not these biases are accurate or not (I personally find Liara discovering the Protheans were pretty much nothing like the idea of them she had constructed in her head to be deviously amusing… because I see people do this all the time with historical figures even now).

As for it being worth the $10?  It really depends.  If you are a lore nut who squirrels away and reads every Codex entry as they pop up, and greedily grabs every detail of the Mass Effect universe you can (ya know… like me), then yes, it really is.  If that stuff doesn’t concern you and you’re looking for something that is an actual legitimate compliment to the main storyline… you’re better off saving those $10.

Meanwhile, since I have the post window open, I might as well bloviate on another ME3 related topic clogging my headspace.  That of Mass Effect’s favorite Quarian, Tali.

There’s a bit of an angry backlash over the entire event that finally revealed Tali’s face behind the mask to the player.  The rage is centered around the image actually being an altered stock photo, and reflecting laziness on Bioware’s part.  I think the anger is misdirected; not because it was “lazy”, or because it was a “stock photo” (gonna shock some people here, but you’d be amazed how much game imagery is based off of stock photos) but because the entire literary device used simply wasn’t very well executed.

I get what Bioware was trying to do.  In the first Mass Effect game, you never see Tali’s face, and the game’s lore suggests fairly strongly that you never will.

But then, in Mass Effect 2, the option to romance this shy, bookish, alien hottie with a crush on the hero (the number of fetishes this girl hits among the sci-fi nerd group is truly staggering) emerges, as well as her determination to let your hero see her face… except… the player doesn’t get to see it.  Her back is to the camera.

F***ers.

Then comes Mass Effect 3.  Depending on how it works out (I’m assuming the people who really care about this are the ones that went the extra three some odd side missions, reputation, and dialogue choices to get the best possible result), Tali and her people have their homeworld back; a place where they can eventually live without those “damned helmets.”  And sure enough, Tali does just that, taking off her mask to breathe the air of Rannoch for herself… with her back turned to the camera the whole damn time.

F****ers.  You did it to us again.  You got our hopes up all over again… teased us… taunted us… and we fell for it again, you devious, cunning, scheming fu…

… wait, what’s that?  You left us a gift, Tali?  In the cabin?  Oh.  Well, hey.  It’s you.  Without the mask.  Good one, Bioware!  You really had us going!   Good show!

At least, that’s what they were hoping for.

But really, guys, you know better than that.  If you’re gonna jerk around someone like that, you either completely jerk them, or your make-up effort has to be worth it.  A very low quality image sitting on the end table with no life or energy frankly doesn’t cut it, and that would have been true even if the image in question was a completely original artwork.  You executed the routine great, then completely flubbed the landing, and as such the entire routine suffered.

It wasn’t laziness, it wasn’t the stock photo, it was a literary device that just didn’t work.  There’s no shame or dishonor in that.  That happens all the time to the best of writers.  And that’s… okay.  We’ll live.

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