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Mass Effect’s universe gets ugly when a Paragon decision finally backfires · A.V. Club

Mass Effect s universe gets ugly when a Paragon decision finally backfires For Our Consideration The A V Club


Early in Mass Effect 3, it’s possible to run into Kelly Chambers, Shepard’s yeoman from the previous game, aiding refugees on the Citadel. While catching up, Kelly lets slip that Cerberus, her borderline terrorist ex-employers, are searching for her. Shepard is given a simple dialogue choice: The Paragon option encourages Kelly to continue her work with the displaced persons; the Renegade option orders her to change her identity and go into hiding. Players who have been exclusively playing Paragon without consequence since the beginning of the series might be shocked to learn that this Paragon option gets Kelly Chambers killed. When Cerberus invades the Citadel—crossing the line from “borderline terrorists” into “terrorists”—they seek Kelly out by name and summarily execute her for betraying them. For the very first time in the series, choosing a Paragon option has truly negative repercussions.

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Mass Effect’s morality system isn’t supposed to be about choosing between good and evil but between Lawful Good and Chaotic Good, molding Shepard into either Dale Cooper drinking black coffee in the Milky Way or Dirty Harry Callahan with an M-6 Carnifex instead of a .44 Magnum. Its pampering of Paragon Shepard, though, makes it more like a choice between being right and being a jerk for no reason. If more Paragon options had led to Shepard’s trust and optimism being betrayed, had the galaxy actually been as unforgiving as everyone in it claims, it would have given every decision much more gravity. Would Paragon purists still be willing to free the captive rachni queen if she returned the rachni to their historical warmongering? Would they let that batarian walk free in order to rescue a dozen people if there was a real chance he would use his freedom to kill hundreds? It would obviously be overkill for every Paragon option to blow up in Shepard’s face, but by allowing Paragons to stroll infallibly through the galaxy, Mass Effect defangs a world it spends a lot of time insisting will bite.

So it was a bad choice to offer that range of options?

I think they need more of those type of choices. Making the "right" decision does not always make the world a better place, yes? 

Yes. So long as the gamer can see the consequences of the choice!

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