Attention: more Mass Effect-edness ahead, with **spoilers** likely.
So. I’m really close to finishing up Mass Effect 3. Or at least, I think I am. I’m in London and…well…you know how it goes. You’ve played it, right? I’ve been getting more and more twitchy the padt couple times playing, so I’m anxious to see how everything wraps up. But that’s not what’s on my mind at the moment; something else is. Namely, the quirks of romance and relationships — in Mass Effect. (But not with emphasis on the awkward sex scenes or sexual preferences issues.)
In my previous post I mentioned that my current Shepard romanced Garrus in this game and Mass Effect 2. In ME1, she (read: I) somewhat unintentionally ended up playing both Kaiden and Liara until a choice had to be made. TI;dr: I ended up going with Liara.
At various points in ME3, players are given options to meet face-to-face with teammates to discuss life and, sometimes, love. In the case with my Shepard, Alexandra, Liara came forward first to ask about their relationship. I went with the “just friends” route. Her sadness was expressed well and I, myself, felt a little bad about denying her. (It was a little odd, though, because I don’t remember us associating much in ME2 outside of Illium). Next was James, one of the new ME3 characters. Like a Toostie Pop that you just wanna lick, he had a hard exterior but a sweet, soft core. The get-to-know-you scenario was set up as a sparring match, which, right away, was very flirty. I was surprised, and honestly a little taken in by James’s directness. I may hit that with my next female Shepard, but I quelled the fire this round. Garrus was third in line and, as expected, was a charm. Alien/human stuff aside, as well as the strange scenes of them getting close (his armor is so big and bulky), I simply adore Garrus. I like the way he’s written, no nonsense yet supportive. Friendly, confident, sensitive, and sexy — it’s the scars, y’know? He was immediately my favorite character in ME1, and I was happy to have the chance to…um…get to know him better.
Garrus was all well and good, but what got me a little out of sorts was Kaidan. He joined the team about midway through the game, and not too long after joining, I got one of those “let’s meet” emails from him. We met for dinner on the Citadel, and because I’m probably a little too into he game, I expected the conversation to be less than cordial, considering that I was pretty much a dick to him in ME1. Would those circumstances be brought over to ME3, I wondered? The short answer is no. We sit down for dinner, some serene music immediately starts playing in the background, and I get ready for some sincere conversation. But instead of some sort of “let’s talk about what happened” scenario, I got the “I still have feelings for you” routine, and he wants to know what our relationship status is.
What the hell…?!?!
Pardon the backtraking, but with Alexandra in ME1, I recall a scene in a room with both Liara and Kaiden, being forced to make a choice. Kaiden was pretty pissed at me when I told him to shove off. In ME2, we had one scene together – one scene, and he was downright cold and freaked out when we met on Horizon. I rightly deserved the treatment seeing as how I dissed him and was a Cerberus agent. So now, in ME3, time has passed, and I’m sitting down with a person who disliked me at the end of ME1 and in ME2, but who is now dully scripted to reveal what? His love that was in stasis?? C’mon, Bioware, I just don’t buy that. Of all the scenes that probably should have been more irksome, this one really threw me off guard. The game’s seemingly great attention to detail was cast out the door in favor of what? A pre-written plot point? Shepard having to make some life-altering choice? Maybe it’s my naïveté speaking, but I just didn’t get it, and I didn’t like it.
As with Liara, I said let’s just be friends. Kaidan really seemed legitimately disappointed, and I apparently bought him dinner. Life went on.
Overall I think the romances/character relationships in ME are fairly well done. They kinda ring true to life in some respects, they offer welcome breaks from shooting, and they act as elements of humanity in occasionally sterile settings. I enjoy playing with the more mundane aspects of “life” in games, especially since I don’t have much personal experience as an assassin or military strategist. And the more I feel invested in my characters, the more I want to play (and Bioware’s games tend to be very engaging, despite the attention to some details and overlooking others). The notion of romances (or just hooking up), generally throughout the games, makes sense in my mind, because that’s one thing that sometimes happens when groups of people, often strangers-cum-colleagues/friends, are bound together (and maybe the end of the world is at stake). Just look at anything from The Breakfast Club to Star Trek.
For the moment, however, I’m about to enter what promises to be a huge battle at London. I bet I’m gonna have to say goodbye to Garrus. Or something poignant like that. If I have to speak to Kaidan, it better be a conversation that makes sense. That steak was expensive.