I then went to the third of the first three planets I was told about in the beginning of the game. Noveria is a planet where unethical research takes place. It was a great example of what could eventually happen in a universe in which we have colonized other planets. When you’re effectively an infinite distance away except with the most sophisticated military ships, it becomes hard to enforce laws on anything but the planetary level. And, of course, it’s also a sci-fi extension of the whole “money talks” and “someone needs to do the dirty work” real life tropes. Just look around Earth and you’ll see many corporations doing illegal or unethical things because the money involved is so much greater than the potential penalties. And there are some technical innovations that have come at the expense of unethical practices. We all hate that, but love the innovation. Of course, that doesn’t mean that some people weren’t trying to stop the bad behaviour and you have the opportunity to help them out.
I ended up taking Liara and Wrex to Noveria. This was a great coincidence on Liara’s part because her mother is there and that leads to some extra drama. And Wrex urges me to kill a species that almost wiped out the universe. This was a great way to demonstrate the complex and contradictory ideas we can hold in our heads as he isn’t quite to eager to exterminate a species when it comes to Krogans later.
So, I don’t know how differently my mind works to most people who play Bioware games, but what happened next left me conflicted. My main mission is to stop Saren. So I followed every clue to him which leads me to Virmire as the next planet to go to. I didn’t go back to the Citadel or any of the side missions because the game narrative is all “we need to hurry and find Saren before he kills the universe”. I found out from my brother that Virmire is just one step away from the end-game fight with Saren. And, for a while, we thought they game would reach a point of no return after Virmire. (He couldn’t remember exactly when it’d happened and it turned out he was wrong, but that leads to another criticism later on in this blog post) So the conflict is should Bioware have let me finish the game that quickly? On the one hand, I hate RPGs that pad things out with pointless side quests. (Some Final Fantasy games are especially bad about this) On the other hand, without my brother to let me know, I could end up not realizing how much of the Mass Effect universe I was missing out on. Especially since a lot of the crew interaction appears to be time/mision count based, maybe this isn’t a good thing. I am not 100% sure how I feel about it, but back to Virmire.
I accidentally took Wrex to Vermire and that turned out to be awesome! Why? Supposedly Saren has cured the genophage – the disease that made Krogans slowly die out as a species. So you need to convince him it’s a good thing to destroy the cure. Bioware did a very impressive job of truly making me think about that. Was it really a good thing? Mass Effect isn’t perfect when it comes to representing morality, but it definitely did a good job of at least making me think about what I was asking the characters to give up. And, of course, their dialog really made the characters seem real so I really did feel for this fictional alien as I asked him to agree with me to do this.
Eventually I find the ship that everyone, including Liara’s mom, says is being used by Saren to control people. Turns out the ship is a Reaper and may be running the entire show, even Saren! This ship, Sovereign, (neat name once you figure out what’s going on behind the scenes) reveals that the Protheans didn’t actually create the Citadel or Mass Relays. He claims these are reaper technology. The question is whether he’s lying to manipulate you. You already know it manipulates everyone around it to do its bidding. The Protheans had tech beyond anything any of the civilizations currently have. This includes the planets they colonized. So, the question is whether the Reapers dropped these techs upon them or if they reversed Reaper tech. And if this is the case, what is the purpose of the Reapers constantly destroying the enter universal population only to allow it to regrow again?