Our Top 20 Mass Effect Moments
Written Friday, March 23, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Believe it or not, it’s pretty hard to narrow down our favourite Mass Effect moments. There’s just been so many that this list actually started out as a top 10 until conversations amongst the staff ended in so many “you have to have this in it!” comments that we thought, “screw it, it’s our site. We’ll do 20 if we want to!” So we did.
From the moment Mass Effect kicked off to the moment Mass Effect 3 concluded, there have been so many moments that left us conflicted, brought tears to our eyes and made us chuckle, that it makes perfect sense to pick our favourite moments of the franchise and share them with you.
We’re not talking moments like the Mass Effect 2 suicide mission – that’s an entire ordeal, not a moment – we’re talking scenes that made the franchise what it is today. Whether that’s huge decision-making moments, amusing exchanges, powerful emotional scenes or straight up hilarity, we’re including them all – well, our top 20, anyway.
Rather than rank them from 1 to 20 – it’s hard enough to pick 20, let alone rank them! – we’ve put them into no apparent order whatsoever. It speaks for itself that there’s going to be spoilers for all three of the Mass Effect games here, so don’t venture further unless you’ve played them through – heck, you can if you want, but don’t blame us. If you’ve not played Mass Effect and have no intention to – you barmy mofo – then let us remind you of why it’s one of this generation’s biggest and best franchises. You might want to give it a go after you find out what it has to offer.
Mass Effect 2’s Omega is often described as the galaxy’s cesspit. A place that is the polar opposite to the Citadel. A place where the scum of the galaxy congregate and war against one another, trying to take advantage of any situation that arises at each other's expense. So what happens when a vigilante tries to bring down the villainous scum in Omega and restore law and order on the streets? Easy. All the local mercs go after him and Shepard tries to recruit him. When it turns out it’s an old friend… even better! I wonder whether his gun is calibrated…
Curing the Genophage?
Seeing as how Mass Effect 3 was the end of the trilogy and all, there were always bound to be big decisions to be made throughout, and the end of the first act didn’t disappoint. Shepard is put between a rock and hard place very early on and given a horrible decision to make: if you need the salarian’s help, you have to deceive the krogan. Easy, you say? Well, if BioWare hadn’t hit us with so many pros and cons throughout the Tuchanka priority mission, we’d agree. When you know the truth though, it’s hard to deceive the krogans… especially if Wrex is still alive. That said, there’s a war to be won and you need all the help you can get. Decisions, decisions! It was our first real Mass Effect 3 squeaky-bum time moment and we lost a dear friend because of it. It’s moments like these that have made the franchise what it is today.
Miss Jack Flash
There are very few people that actually liked Jack in Mass Effect 2. It’s not that we didn’t like her, we were just indifferent towards her. When you see the torment and torture she had to go through as a child though, you can’t really blame her. And in her loyalty mission – and if you romance her – you actually start to see her more human side. Even if you did get to see that side of her, her transformation in Mass Effect 3 was shocking to say the least. She hadn’t got a job in the Debenhams’ sales department, no. It's something even more unlikely… she’s a teacher. Yes, a teacher of children. She’s even had a makeover and covered up a bit. Just when we thought the Grissom Academy mission couldn’t get anymore epic, you know, after meeting Kahlee Sanders, it does. Jack’s back and she’s looking pretty flash!
Conrad the Hero
Ahhhhh, Conrad Verner! The first thorn in Shepard’s side! The self-professed super-fan has sure had an interesting journey from Mass Effect 1 to 3. In Mass Effect 1, the enthusiastic and obnoxious super-fan could be found skulking around the Citadel, essentially declaring his love for Shepard – then you stick a gun in his face and he runs off back to mommy. In Mass Effect 2, Verner could be found donning N7 armour and terrorising the locals in the Eternity bar on Illium – then you shoot him in his foot. He’s a guy who’s been on the rough end of Shepard’s stick for most of the trilogy, but in Mass Effect 3 though, the tables turn… well, kind of. Conrad turns from an annoyance into a hero in the space of a minute, inadvertently impressing a familiar face from Mass Effect 1 – Jenna from Chora’s Den – and becoming a winner. That is if you save her in 1… if not, uh oh. Oh Conrad, you crazy cat!
Arguably the first defining moment for Mass Effect, the first either/or decision down on Virmire in Mass Effect 1 set a high standard for choice in the franchise… a choice that would have consequences that was not only instantaneous, but one that would ripple throughout the next two games. After either talking down Wrex or seeing him die at the salarian camp, the original went from strength to strength and truly put the weight of responsibility on your shoulders. That's something that games boasting choice have really failed to do for quite some time. Having broke through Saren’s defences at his base on Virmire and got to a position where you could arm a bomb, you unfortunately have to split your squad up. When the shit hits the fan though, only one can survive… Ashley or Kaidan. The decision is yours. And boy, what a decision.
The Quarian Quandary
Another Mass Effect 3 end of act sequence, another tough decision. This time it involves those loveable robots, the geth, and the loveable walking envirosuits, the quarians. With Legion on the one side and Tali on the other, it’s tough to decide which side to take. Whatever you do, don’t do what we did and assume you’ve done enough to broker an agreement between the two. Although that is possible, because we held out too long we advertently picked the wrong side and watched two of our favourite chums bring their existence to an early end. Tali throwing herself off the cliff because of our betrayal still causes us sleepless nights now and although it’s a sad ending to a tough decision, it’s a completely genius conclusion to an epic act. Sorry Tali, we hope you can forgive us. Kudos BioWare, kudos.
Space Monkey Punching
BioWare’s fascination with space monkey abuse continued in Mass Effect 2 with a Shepard master punch. Those who explored every inch of Mass Effect 1 may have come across the amusing-looking space monkeys on the surface of Eletania after they’d stolen the data module off a downed space probe. If you happen to run one over – because frankly, who wouldn’t? – then not only would you gain some renegade points, but whoever was in your squad at that time would have made a snarky comment. If it’s Tali, expect her to say, “That was a little extreme, wasn’t it?” and if you have Garrus with you as well, expect something along the lines of, “Guess the little beast had it coming…” Too right he did, Garrus, and it had it coming in Mass Effect 2 when we found him in the lab on the surface of Tuchanka. Take that, space monkey!! I wonder how Mass Effect’s version of PETA would react to Shepard’s disrespect towards space monkeys…
Commander Shepard Doesn’t Play Favourites
As far as Mass Effect memes go, they don’t get much bigger than this. In Mass Effect 2, Shepard was able to use his fame as a galactic saviour after defeating Saren and Sovereign in Mass Effect 1 to earn certain benefits. One of those benefits was giving testimonials and soundbites for various stores on the Citadel in exchange for a discount… That’s alright and everything, so long as you don’t do it for every bloody store. Oh, but we’re Commander Shepard and that’s exactly what we were going to do. “Hi, I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favourite store on the Citadel”… along with that one, that one, that one… in fact, you’re all my favourite stores. Oh Shepard, you sly dog!
Third Time Lucky? Apparently Not…
Shepard may have had to go through a lot of crap in Mass Effect 1 and 2 to save the galaxy, but human news reporter, Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani, has had a much rockier ride. If you were like us, in every single Mass Effect game where we’ve come across Miss al-Jilani, we’ve punched her at every given opportunity, whether we were renegade or not. Turns out, after being smacked in both Mass Effect 1 & 2, she’s learned a thing or two by Mass Effect 3. Yes, that may be, but we’re still talking about Commander Shepard here and you’re going to have to get out of bed earlier to get one over him. “Stay down!”
Udina Think That Would Happen
From the first moment we met Udina, we hated him. There was just something about the whiny nasal tones of human’s most notorious politician that made us want to punch him. Maybe it was because he was a politician and that seems to be a natural reaction to all politicians or maybe, just maybe, it was because this guy was a complete dick – and that’s us sugar-coating it a little. When the moment came in Mass Effect 3 that we discovered Udina was a traitor and we could put a bullet right in between the guy’s eyes, to say we were overjoyed was an understatement. In fact, that was one of our biggest highlights of the whole franchise and it had us punching the air with delight. Who would have thought that saying sayonara to a fellow human could elicit such an emotion? Take that Udina!
To Reduce Drelling, Use a Cold Compress
From the moment that Thane entered the Mass Effect franchise when he dropped out of a vent and snapped the neck of his target in Mass Effect 2 to the moment that he essentially sacrificed himself in Mass Effect 3, he was a complete joy to behold. The guy was a complete legend. Our highlight of the drell’s appearance in the Mass Effect franchise though had to be during his loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 on the Citadel. In the early moments of the mission to find his son, Kolyat, who had gone off the rails, Thane and Shepard have to head behind-closed-doors to interrogate Elias Kelham… and boy do they interrogate him. Obviously, you can play this situation out however you like, but every time we’ve approached him we beat the living daylights out of him until he passes out – it’s just too fun. It’s a great scene and one of the moments where you realise that Mass Effect does give you the power of choice to wield as you see fit. Hell, we’d torture everyone if we could… We're not sure what that says about us.
Blue Alien Bitch Becomes The Oracle
We tried to think of a more eloquent way of saying Liara becomes Shadow Broker. Hell, we even racked our brains for a pun, but in the end, we settled for something more catchy and straight to the point. Yes, that’s right, Liara becoming Shadow Broker was one of our favourite Mass Effect moments. The Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC went from strength to strength, starting with car chases and a boss fight against a teleporting spectre, Tela Vasir, and ending with a dangerous trip across the Shadow Broker’s ship in Hagalaz before meeting a new Mass Effect species. It's a yagh, who just so happens to be the Shadow Broker. After all is said and done, push comes to shove and our favourite blue alien side-kick gets the keys to the galaxy. It’s emotional stuff, especially if you’ve read the Redemption comic book series, as that’s where Liara’s motivation comes from for her wanting to hunt down the illustrious figure. Psssst! We don’t think she’s a bitch really.
Rallying the Troops
One of the real standout moments of Mass Effect that all of the staff seemed to agree on was Shepard’s epic speech, early on in Mass Effect 1. Due to David Anderson’s chequered past with Mass Effect 1 villain, Saren, Ambassador Udina suggested that the veteran Alliance captain step down from his post so that Shepard could lead the investigation. With Shepard’s first act as captain of the Normandy he has to quite literally rally the troops and that he does. Whether you choose the renegade route or the paragon route, Shepard’s first act aboard the Normandy as captain is an absolutely epic one and one that will stick with us for many a year, possibly forever. BioWare not only do a great job with the dialogue, but the cinematography, camera angles and accompanying music make it one of the greatest sequences we’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of.
As far as opening sequences for a video game go, you’ll have to search far and wide for a better one than Mass Effect 2's. With Saren defeated and the Reapers on their way, the opening sequence of Mass Effect 2 starts with a bang. The relatively unknown Collectors being the aggressors and Shepard and the Normandy seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Commander himself is left to make sure everyone gets off safely, but as a result, he drifts off into space with the Normandy exploding behind him. It’s a well-crafted scene and the audio and cinematography is spot on. Kudos BioWare… you brave, brave bastards! What makes it even better is the Normandy Crash Site DLC… that’s one hell of an emotional moment. Pressley, our beloved XO, we miss you buddy!
The fate of the rachni in Mass Effect 1 was another example of how the franchise was going to pan out and how much emphasis it was going to put on choice, but back then, you couldn’t possibly have known how much of an impact your decision would have made. Deep in the depths of Noveria after defeating Matriarch Benezia you’ll come across a big bug style creature who’s being held captive in a huge capsule. The fate of the rachni essentially rests in your hands: destroy a race who was once a plague on the whole galaxy and a threat to all life; or give them another chance to disappear and rebuild on the promise that there’ll be no more bloodshed. The choice is yours. If you keep her alive, not only would you meet the Queen in Mass Effect 2 through a proxy, but the rachni potentially have an even bigger part to play in Mass Effect 3. They could also be a disruptive force, depending on your choice, too. If you’d have known back then how much of an impact that decision would have had, do you think you’d have made a different choice?
The Singing Salarian
Come on, it wasn’t going to be a top 20 Mass Effect moments without this little beauty. One of our favourite Mass Effect characters, Mordin, the crazy-ass scientist who’s known for his random but brutally honest nuggets of information – heck, the moment he gives Shepard advice for having sex with aliens, we couldn’t help but like this loveable salarian. His defining moment though is quite easily when he busts out and sings Shepard a little Gilbert & Sullivan. Unexpected. Topical. Brilliant. No wonder they brought him back for a potentially large role in Mass Effect 3.
Cutting the Coun…[End Transmission]
Mass Effect 1 provided a lot of highlights for the franchise and the one that stands out in everyone’s memory is surely cutting the Council’s transmission off every time Shepard gets in touch with them. You don’t have to be renegade to enjoy this one, it’s just fun as hell, plus, the Council haven’t exactly been helpful. The first time it’s funny. The second time it’s genius. The third time it’s comedy gold. If you don’t believe us, the 16-second video below sums up how much fun you can have with this little sequence. The fact that Joker and Shepard joke about it in Mass Effect 3 makes it even better now. Up there with Shepard’s speech to the Normandy crew, this was one of our favourite Mass Effect moments. “That never gets old, does it?”… No, it doesn’t, Joker. No it doesn't.
Joker’s Moment of Glory
You’ve got to feel sorry for poor little Joker. He may be a good pilot; in fact, the best in the galaxy; but his brittle bone disease doesn’t really allow him to get out and about and stretch those legs all that much. When his back’s up against the wall though, Joker proved in Mass Effect 2 that he could step up to the plate and be as much of a hero as Shepard was… Well, not quite, but at least he tried. When the Collectors invaded the Normandy, Joker had to make his way to the AI core to give EDI control of the ship and then down to engineering so she could save it. It’s effectively an on-rails scene – well, you have to move from A to B – but the carnage and craziness that goes on around you is insane, from people being dragged away by the Collectors to people being decimated by them. EDI even finds time to make a joke too! It’s a particularly epic scene that’s tough to watch, but no less compelling.
Test Tube Krogan
There’s just something so very “Shepard” about the whole first encounter with Grunt in Mass Effect 2. Should you choose to open the pod, the huge pod-born krogan charges at Shepard and pins him up against the wall by his throat. This testosterone-fuelled first encounter not only shows Shepard can take anyone on in a one-on-one fight, but that he’s always prepared for everything. He’s a thinker! “You offer one hand, but arm the other…” Brilliant.
It feels right to end the top 20 on a sombre and more emotional note. Prior to Shepard’s final journey into the depths of London, there’s a moment where the potential galactic saviour has time to pretty much say his last goodbyes. Not only can you speak to all your old squad mates from Mass Effect 2 via a holographic communications device, but all of your Mass Effect 3 squad can be found dotted around ready to wish you luck and prepare for the worse. The exchange with Garrus was easily the highlight, although Liara, Tali and even Javik rank pretty highly too. To top the proceedings off, the sequence of events ends with another epic Shepard speech, so the trilogy ends where the trilogy began, which is rather fitting if you ask us. Pure and sublime brilliance.
So, have we missed any then? Sound off in the comments, reminisce, lavish us with praise (or abuse)... Whatever. But remember, it’s the end of an era.