Sunday, 8 April 2012

Harbinger

Not that anyone is going to be reading this shit, I am still going to post within the bounds of the UK Video Game Spoilers Act 2003. As such, please be aware:

Here be spoilers for all three of the Mass Effect games. What do you mean you ain't finished them all? Get to it! It's okay, I'll wait...

There we go. Right, let's get on with the show!

Yeah, so, Mass Effect 3 was kind of a roller-coaster for most people wasn't it? A mostly great ride with a bit of a slow start, a gradual build up to a fast-paced, interesting and fun several hours (these are the bits where you are doing loop-the-loops and corkscrews and shit), followed by a frantic and climactic finale, which then resolves with you suffering a horrific ride malfunction and results in everyone dying and generally not having a fun time. Oh...wait...

I am not even going to get into the good and the bad and the ugly of the final sequences of the last game in one of this generation's greatest ever franchises (other than to say that I think BioWare could have done better, as they have demonstrated many times before). What I am going to do is gaze into the very window of a person's soul and talk about some cool/scary things. That person? The Illusive Man. And the window? His Paragon-blue eyes.

As demonstrated by the two above images, both the The Illusive Man (hereafter I'll refer to him simply as TIM) and Shepard sport (albeit optionally in games 2 and 3) these fairly obvious glowing eye thingies, which no one at any point in any of the games ever acknowledges or asks about, which is rather interesting. I mean, there are dozens of crazy looking doodads and flibberty gibbets stuck onto the various races throughout the game, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of individuals who you come across in your journey for galactic peace, and not a single one has ever been shown to have these sick looking glowing eye-rims.

As far as I'm aware you can only get the Renegade version of these eyes, as well as the accompanying 'scarring' in ME3, as stated in the game you are not yet fully healed from your re-constructive surgery and without acting nice to people (choosing the top-most options in dialogue wheels and the blue colour-coded Paragon options where available), you are basically letting the Dark Side flow through you and ravage your body in a outwardly physical manner. If you roll deep enough into the Renegade options you end up looking like you've got red hot magma boiling away just under your skin, combined with your Terminator eyes you look like the baddest badass that has ever existed IN THE ENTIRE GALAXY.

That brings me to my first major point, you can only ever become the evil-looking Shepard Commander in ME3, if you recall back to the second game there was the option for both sides of the moral scale to be represented through the medium of your face. You are in essence forced down the ruthless Renegade path if you want those sweet scars (there still exists the option to get your face completely scrubbed clean in the medbay). Now with the only other person in the galaxy boasting the Paragon version of this flair, it got me to a-thinkin...which side of the conflict is TIM really on, and which side does HE think he is on? And if the answer is that TIM is kinda a good guy, is it actually the case that the player-controlled character is actually travelling down the road of being a total dick.

The parallels that can be drawn between TIM and Saren are clear on a surface level, they have both fallen under the spell of Indoctrination (a single Reaper, Sovereign, in the case of Saren and an unspecified Reaper or Reapers with TIM). However, the major difference between the two is that Saren knows he is being Indoctrinated, and willingly submits to it, safe in the knowledge that Sovereign won't fully corrupt his mind due to the deterioration of his abilities and overall usefulness to the goal of opening up the Citadel for the impending invasion. TIM on the other hand, has trodden heavily down the path to the dark side in a really screwed up way, he uses salvaged Reaper/Collector technology to explore how he can essentially counter-Indoctrinate the Reapers (the little boy AI at the end of the game does indeed say that TIM could have technically done this, he happens to fail in this instance as his mind was already under the control of the Reapers). His experiments result in him killing thousands upon thousands of refugees as well as many members of his own personal army. Through TIM's eyes he is trying to get the upper hand on the Reapers, but in his eyes the Mass Effect moral scale still deems him as being a super-great guy!

The shenanigans that occur at the end of the game, with Shepard and Anderson and TIM in the control room of the Citadel, do show TIM finally snapping under the realisation that he being controlled (or so I hear, as a Renegade I just shot him as he was threatening to execute Anderson), yet his eyes have always stayed the same colour throughout two whole games. I doubt a case could be made for saying that TIM was Indoctrinated even in ME2, as he goes to great effort to keep Shepard's body out of the Collector's grubby hands. Maybe over the course of that game we are seeing TIM becoming a sleeper agent for the Reapers? Hmmm...

To explore this point more I'll be making a second post, maybe like a video review thing or maybe just words, I don't know yet. I just wanted to get something down that reminded me to talk about this rather odd little thing I noticed, even back in ME2 I thought it was cool/strange, there was this obviously dodgy dude with the same Paragon eyes as me, laying out the orders to do some rather kinky things. Anyhow, until next time, keelah se'lai.

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