Has it really been five damn years since Mass Effect was released? After all this time it looks like we’ll finally get a chance to finish the game’s story; and not a minute too soon. I was starting to think about moving on to another ambitious science fiction universe—God knows there isn’t that many of them. Well, as far as Mass Effect 3 goes, you can definitively count me in. After all, I absolutely love it when a game drags out its relatively simple story so that the studio will have an excuse to make more sequels.
“Sir, finishing this financial opportunity.”
Alas, the fight will be finished this March or something. Wait, did Mass Effect ever have a ridiculous one-liner? I’m pretty sure that with 450,000 words, the game was a little too, um, wordy for that bullshit. In any case, Mass Effect 3 is here and its, probably, a little queer (so you should get used to it). Queer how, you ask? That question isn’t that easily answered; I guess it has something to do with the series’ continual attempts at emulating Gears of War‘s combat mechanics. If I had to illustrate how this trend progressed with a poorly made graph, it would probably look something like this:
Besides all the plagiarism and out of the kindness of my heart, I really want to help you play this new game in a way that will have it live up to its full potential. To help you get the most out of your experience with the game, I have made you a little guide that will assist you in your final adventure with Commander Shepard. Remember, you do not have to use any of this advice if you choose not to—it just makes the game incredible. If you are interested in making ME3 absolutely pants-shittingly rad, then strap on your crash helmet and dick-protecting iron boxers: this is going to make your fucking ass explode.
1. Redesign Your Shepard
This first step is absolutely vital. If you’ve played Mass Effect 2 then you realize that (Spoiler Alert:) Shepard fucking died in the beginning. Even though you’d think that this would make him look seriously screwed up, Bioware decided that the only real hint to the Commander’s recent demise would be a slight limp and some sweet glowing red neon on his face—if your play style falls under the category of “Complete Fucking Dickhead“, that is. Even when you were as much of an asshole as the game allowed you to be, you just never could really make Shepard have that realistic “been dead for a few years” look.
Even Jesus looked more convincing and he was only a little bit evil.
So when it comes to creating a realistic Shepard, the full weight of that creative process has to fall squarely on the players themselves. I completely recommend redesigning your character to resemble the sort of trauma that any man would take on under the circumstances that have befallen Shepard. Not only will a nice redesign to your character create a deeper sense of immersion, it will also serve as a reminder for all of the craziness that Shepard has went through in the previous two games.
What kind of changes do I recommend making? Well, allow me to introduce you to my new Shepard:
“Only the dead have seen the end of war”
This is undoubtedly a man who has seen not only his own death but the death of both his sanity and his complexion. His eyes just seem to scream “I should not be alive“. Even his hair screams, with the unbearable strength of a million rape whistles, that his soul is slowly rending itself apart under the pain of all of his previous actions. Yes, though to a layman he may appear to be some sort of red-headed pedophile Hitler from the very deepest circle of hell, in truth, he is nothing more than an allegory for what any person would become had they seen even the smallest bit of his experiences transpire in front of them.
This, my friends, is how you do it right.
2. Use the Kinect Support Correctly
Say what you want about Xbox Kinect, whether it’s a gimmick machine or not, ME3 is actually better with it. You read that right, the Kinect hasn’t just been tossed in as an afterthought this time; Bioware actually put some time and thought into it for this game. What all this translates to is that the Kinect is a real convenience while playing Mass Effect 3. Instead of having to pull up, say, a clunky wheel interface to control your teammates, you can just tell them what to do while you’re playing. If you haven’t got a chance to try it out by now, then believe me when I say that it does work.
However, this isn’t a guide to getting things to work, this is a guide for making things as rad as balls as humanly possible. So how does one make the Kinect feature better? I’ll tell you how: you have to use Harry Potter spells.
That’s right, Harry Potter spells. When playing ME3, and you’ve just commanded one of your crew to use “Concussive Shot” or “Singularity”, scream out to the other teammate to use “Expelliarmus” or, if you’re an evil character, “Avada Kedavra”. Now, while this technique will technically do absolutely nothing, it does make you feel pretty damned awesome.
And it’ll only make you look 22.5% stupider than this androgynous human being.
This technique is so much fun that I sort of wish it would have been incorporated into the full game as an actual feature. In the end, is “Element Zero” that much different than magic?
3. Roleplay as Commander Shepard
This one kind of goes back to the first step a little; the only key difference being that instead of just making your Shepard look realistic, roleplaying Shepard means that you have to try to emulate Shepard’s personality realistically. This might make you wonder how Commander Shepard’s personality would really be. To figure it out let’s look at the real “Commander Shepards” that exist today: the military infantry.
The infantrymen who have seen real warfare tend to develop a beautiful bouquet of stress related mental disorders: most common amongst them being PTSD and other ailments that encourage habit forming behavior and addiction in a percentage of returning veterans. Now what happens if you take one of those infantrymen and up the stress by, let’s just say, one thousand percent?
What happens when you take an infantryman, have him live through countless battles and watch literally hundreds of the men and women that he served with die horrible, violent deaths right in front of his eyes? What happens if you bring him back to life with an experimental technique that has never really been used before to fight an enemy that is threatening to kill pretty much everyone and everything that he has ever loved? And, just to spice it up a little bit more, what if this man died in a way that would encourage serious traumatic fear of the very thing that he would have to travel in day in and day out?
Picture somewhat related
And one more thing about the resurrection surgery: did they even think about what kind of problematic mental issues might arise from completely regrowing someone’s brain? I’m pretty sure that no one bothered to mention whether they had tried it before on anyone else, and given how expensive the procedure is, it seems highly unlikely that they did. Shit, I wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t even tried it on a pig cadaver before they decided to start it up on the Commander. That means that, for all they knew, they might have unleashed one of the most highly trained and mentally fucked up killing machines upon a galaxy that already had a major problem with giant life-exterminating crabs or whatever.
What all this means is that the “real” Shepard would be one mentally unstable dude. To simulate the real Shepard while playing ME3, why not try to bring out the crazy by switching up moral decisions left and right, like some sort of even more bipolar Christian Bale? It’s a great way to establish the uncontrollable mood swings that Shepard must have around every other second.
For example: if you happen to run into a needy beggar on the streets, go ahead and give him some money. Once you have collected the “Paragon” points for your noble deed, kill him in some horrible way, if the game permits you to. This is the proper way to play Shepard. You need to keep in mind that with the trauma that he’s been through, Shepard is most likely in some state of quasi-reality. One second he might see the beggar as one of his long dead comrades and the next moment he might see him as a giant enemy crab thing. Playing Shepard like a schizophrenic cross between a Captain Planet villain and a rabid ferret is a great way to liven up the Mass Effect 3 story.
What will Shepard do next? Hell, even you won’t know!