Mass Effect. So much fun to play, but so hard to write blog posts about. There are many things to talk about, but I also feel that I shouldn't spoil too much for people who haven't played it (this far) yet - a conflicting combination. One thing that urges me to post about Mass Effect after all are the nice character pictures you can take. The game has beautiful colours, scenery and portraits from time to time. I think the shot of badass-looking Shepard & co above contains all three!
This time some shots of my time at and around Rannoch, homeworld of the Quarians. I had been both dreading and looking forward to this moment. Looking forward because there has been a distinct lack of Tali in Mass Effect 3 thus far, and dreading because I had a feeling the absence of both the Geth and Quarians in the war against the Reapers was not just a coincidence. A who has to clean up the mess? Right. Shepard.
Artificial lifeforms: evil, risky or lovely?
One of the largest revelations of Mass Effect 2 was that the main force of the Geth were never aggressive towards "organics", but that it were in fact the Reapers who convinced a splinter group of the Geth to believe otherwise. But how to tell this to the Quarians, who's total nomad culture encircles around their past exile by the Geth and their idea of the conscious AI as an dangerous and evil entity?
The Geth form a prelude to some of the bigger pictures behind Mass Effect, initiating questions like: Can artificial intelligent beings be considered lifeforms of themselves? And if so:
Are Artificial Intelligent lifeforms destructive against organic lifeforms by nature?
These are not new questions, but themes that have already been explored through a lot of mediums. I'm sure you're familiar with the countless movies that answer the above question with "yes" (especially the ones involving the destruction of Earth). I can also see parallels between the Matrix and Mass Effect's Reapers harvesting alien life cycles. There are, however, also thoughtful movies that answer the question with "no", and one I came to think of is A.I. by Steven Spielberg. This excellent movie tells the story of a young boy who turns out to be an A.I. and gets abandoned by his human 'parents'. The inevitable question: who is more human, the little boy or 'real' people?
Mass Effect lets you decide on your own what your views on this are, although they do give you certain leads in the form of EDI, your ship's A.I. who develops an identity, and Legion (picture above), the highly developed Geth that can operate on itself (unlike most other Geth) and can follow you into combat. I choose the more positive approach, so my Shepard believes that organic and artificial lifeforms can co-exist, as long as they respects each other as a living being.
Thus on Rannoch, I established a peace between the Geth and the Quarians, and the Quarians were able to set foot on their homeworld for the first time in centuries. In my opinion, the Quarians were extremely lucky that the Geth were less frightful and more forgiving than themselves, as the Geth already consciously neglected several opportunities to destroy the Quarians altogether. It also struck me as quite painful that there were Quarians defending the first Geth in the Morning War. So many missed chances, it could all have been so much less painful...
Of course, the way I describe all this must make it sound all very simple and straightforward, but it actually feels very intuitive and realistic in-game. It was a really cool theme and I'm happy to have brought it to a good end.
And wow, I've never seen Tali so happy! The picture above also shows one of the rare moments that even Shepard actually looks happy - previous attempts to smiling looked more like grinning while enduring dental pains. They just set foot to Rannoch and are daydreaming about the Quarians building it up again. Could you think of a happier ending to this story? I certainly cannot.
I sincerely wonder if there even are people who keep being anti-Geth in their first playthrough and choose to eliminate them. Let me know if you did, because that would be fascinating to hear about.