30VGC: Day 27 – Most Epic Scene

To know me is to know that I love my yearly series, and here’s a new a one! This year I’m taking on the 30-Day Video Game Challenge (30VGC). Though, actually, it’s going to be more like the 26-Week Video Game Challenge, since I’ll only be covering two or three topics from the challenge each month. You can check out my intended schedule in this post. With that, it’s game on!

My pick for the most epic scene in a game is the Reaper Destroyer/Thresher Maw battle in Mass Effect 3.

The following article originally appeared on Virtual Bastion, 21 July 2016.

One of my favorite general moments in entertainment, from books to movies to games, is the unexpected save from the jaws of doom. Someone or a group of people is in the gravest of grave danger. The situation looks absolutely bleak, and things are only going to get worse unless help arrives. Only, there’s no chance of help. The end is truly nigh! But then, suddenly (or seemingly so) a savior comes out of nowhere to snatch the person or group right out of the clingy hands of death! And doom is abated once more.

It’s a classic scenario that we see over and over again – from Star Wars to Jurassic Park — and it gets me every time. I’m easily sucked into watching or reading scenes where it looks like curtains for our heroes, only for them to find some way out or be rescued at the last minute. It occurs in games too, and one of my most favorite unexpected saves comes courtesy of Mass Effect 3.

Plus, it involves giant monsters! How can it NOT be great?!

Spoilers ahead!

In Mass Effect 3, the Krogan homeworld of Tuchanka plays a significant role in the game’s story. At one point, a massive battle involving Commander Shepard and comrades ensues on the planet. Tuchanka isn’t exactly the most scenic place, but the traversing the crumbling red world is a highlight, from bounding through a decaying city to creeping through dark catacombs, it’s all quite the experience.

The end of the fight involves a Reaper Destroyer. The insect-like Reapers are one of ME’s primary antagonists, and in the third game, Shepard meets the gargantuan Destroyers face-to-face a few times. The meeting with the Reaper Destroyer on Tuchanka is particularly harrowing because of the planet’s landscape and the many, many, many other enemies that come to greet you in the final throes. The final scenes are little more than orchestrated chaos.

The main issue with the Reaper Destroyer, beside its size, is that it’s nearly impenetrable. So a Krogan who’s with Shepard suggests summoning an equally large and formidable beast, a Thresher Maw, a creature akin to the largest underground centipede you’ve ever seen. In order to call up said animal, Shepard must activate two resonating hammers that just happen to right where the Reaper Destroyer parked itself. Between the ground enemies and the Destroyer unleashing its own bean of destruction, activating the hammers can prove…difficult.

But! Oh, but what a reward everyone gets once the hammers have been rung! The whole thing is simply epic.

Watching a video of the scene doesn’t quite do it justice. There’s something spectacular about witnessing the take-down as it happens, especially after the fight it took to get to it. What comes with it is a true sense of both awe and relief. And it’s such an amazing example of the unexpected save. Because while you know that Thresher Maws are large and dangerous, seeing a Reaper Destroyer crumple as it does is brilliant. Because it makes you realize that they aren’t so invincible after all, and that maybe, just maybe, Shepard can save the galaxy from them. It’s one of the most extraordinary situations I’ve ever experienced in a game, ever. No matter how many times I play ME3, it will never get old. And as I said, you just can’t beat seeing a giant monster fight another giant monster.

Lede image from Image from Flickr user Ryan Somma (CC BY 2.0)

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