The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Nitpicking at Mass Effect 2: Arrival

I gave you the brief summary of the new Mass Effect 2 DLC yesterday, and today I’m going to complain about it in depth. This post is going to be very spoiler-heavy, so I’d advise not reading it you care about things like that. For the benefit of those who do, I’ll hide the rest of the content after the jump.

Welcome back. So, as those of us who’ve played Arrival know, the plot revolves around a plan to destroy a mass relay by bashing a small planet into it. As such, I’m thinking it wildly underestimates the amount of energy required to accelerate said planet toward the mass relay — but, okay, fine, it’s Mass Effect. They have magic element zero engines that can generate hysterical amounts of energy. But why bother with the asteroid at all? Why not just use all that element zero to make a big damn bomb and blow the relay up?

In fact, later in the episode, the bad guy even plans to stop the project by detonating the research station’s reactor core, which will supposedly annihilate the entire asteroid. If you think it takes a lot of energy to accelerate a mass that large, you oughtta see how much you need to annihilate it! But, again, fine; element zero is magic and can generate truly amazing amounts of energy, and detonating the reactor really will annihilate the entire asteroid. So, seriously, why not strap the reactor to the relay and just detonate the goddamn thing?

If you think I’m being unfair by assuming such high power requirements — as in, the plan is that asteroid would just like blow up a lot but not actually be annihilated — then it fails for other reasons, which reasons are familiar as the same fundamental problems with movies about blowing up asteroids before they mash into the Earth. The main problem is that, if you just like blast the thing into bits, the bits will still impact, and they’ll still transfer just as much energy to their target; in the case of the Earth, the devastation might be even worse, since it can spread out more. I’ll buy that the weird shape of a mass relay might make it slightly advantageous to spread out the impact, but, seriously, it’ll be just as destroyed by asteroid debris as it would be by the coherent asteroid. And the villain — an astrophysicist — should damn well know that. And if you think I’m wrong, riddle me this: are shotguns considered less lethal than rifles?

At the end of the scene, the Normandy makes the jump out of the sector right before the asteroid smashes the relay. We’re told that, now that the relay is destroyed, the Reapers will take months to reach other parts of the galaxy "even at FTL speeds." They say that specifically. This matters, because after the jump we see Commander Shepard monitoring the state of the sector, and watching the devastation as the exploded mass relay destroys everything else in the star system. Heavy stuff. But, hey, if the Mass Relay is destroyed, and took everything else in the star system with it, the whole point being to preclude any mass effect travel out of the system, and if the system is several months away from anything else by conventional FTL, anybody care to tell me how exactly Shepard is monitoring it? And how is it that word gets back to Alliance brass almost instantly that some crazy fool mashed a big rock into the mass relay, that the whole system is destroyed, and that 305k Batarian colonists are dead? There should be more questions than answers when Shepard gets back, but everybody seems to know more about what happened than he does.

Sometimes I think Bioware doesn’t take the science very seriously in its ludicrous space opera about a race of giant evil sentient spaceships with mind control powers.

March 31st, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments

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