Randomness : Mass Effect and The Cult of Shenko

Content warning : Game-related post and filled with Mass Effect spoilers, pictures and unfiltered fangirlism. Feel free to skip this very book-unrelated post.

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These few weeks have been a marathon of multiple Mass Effect playthrough. I intended it to be a diversion from being obsessed with Dragon Age Inquisition but I’ve gone into the rabbit hole that was Bioware.

Damn it. The story was perfectly complex and superior than Dragon Age series. The science and medicine was very realistic to me who regularly brutalize novels whenever they got bad science. I identify with countless of FemShepard playthrough and ultimately, I ship Shepard and Alenko. Ship them really really hard.

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I think it got personal for me when I used my name for her (Shiera Shepard) and there was an Asari consort with the name Sha’ira. An American game that use and correctly pronounced my fairly rare name. It was predestined.

I’ve played a combination of Vanguard/Infiltrator and several Shepard’s personal history combination that made this game virtually addictive. There’s always something new with each play-through and the game was fast paced and I’ve replayed them half a dozen time already and I’m still not bored with it.

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I know there was a general preference for MaleShepard but I do identify well with FemaleShepard. I was quite surprised that the voice actress acted in so many video games and children’s show.

Now back to the real fangirlism content.

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Its weird but Kaidan Alenko is the guy who do make love with his eyes. How can you do that in video games?

In all honesty, I don’t find him sexually attractive at all (and I do remember the actor who voiced him and acted in Once Upon A Time) but he really do love my Shepard and I still haven’t had the heart to disappoint him.

And it was rewarding.

Like seriously.

Heart pounding and all that subtle mushiness and intensity that made my monitor steam…

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Side note: The romance element in Mass Effect trilogy was pathetically minimal when compared to Dragon Age or average romance novels. The ‘controversial’ smutty scene was more vanilla than the Harlequin novels I’ve read. But weirdly enough, these games are classified over 18. But it was refreshing to see no blood bath like in DA2.

Now, with an established romance, you’re guaranteed a continuation in the next installment right?

Eh…. nope.

Spoilers. 

Shepard and the Normandy died in the beginning of ME2.

Yep.

Dead as a door nail.

But this is science fiction and miracle do happen. Billions of credits and two years later, Shepard lives on to fight another day for her sponsor which was a terrorist group. Naturally.

While it was fun playing emotionally-repressed Shepard in ME, curiously enough she became this supreme badass goddess in ME2…

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…and she is a goddess who don’t need a man.

Shepard woke up from being dead only to be ordered to save the humanity again. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the love of her life remained unconvinced that it was the same Shepard and he moved on.

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Last hug and then he was all “Screw you! You’re with Cerberus! I can’t trust you anymore!”

Yep. Those dialogues options need some serious adjustment involving shouting match, biotic battles and crying. But wait…

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You broke my heart in pieces…. and here I am still wishing you’re here with me… sigh

 

Has he really moved on?

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Safe to say, in ME3, the answer is dead no. It happened in the five minute introduction of ME3 and the guy is bleeding all the love for this woman when she wasn’t looking. While he was giving her all these looks, clearly he’s becoming an overly attached ex-boyfriend. And then he began to exude angst… again…

But it was when he hinted that he wanted her to meet with his mother that it was a point of no return for me.

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Yep. And this isn’t a lock-in romance scene. Nope.

But all those long hours filled with gaming drama, I can certainly say it was genuinely rewarding to a person who appreciate complex storytelling…

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For me, Mass Effect is a story of one emotionally scarred and complex woman who achieved the impossible. She fought hard for the one she loves and the one she cares about. She sacrificed so much and have many regrets in her life and yet, she work hard to save the one that matters to her. She was the avatar of the war against the God Machines and the people who threatened the ones she vowed to protect. And she fought hard for what she believes in.

And that made her more remarkable than Warden or Hawke.

I genuinely like the complexity between these two characters. Its like rooting for a couple in a novel series.

In the beginning, Kaidan was merely her subordinate who fell in love and idolize her from the start even before you press “New Game”. Then he began to identify his conflicted feelings with his superior officer for love and then he reacted badly to it. I wouldn’t say that he was a stereotypical sensitive guy. He was often thoughtful and he can be pretty ruthless and hard-headed. He struggled with his duty and his feelings. Shepard even noted that he represent the head while Ashley represent the heart of Normandy. I don’t feel that he was boring. Slightly annoying but he mirrored Shepard’s intensity. Shepard can be too much for a person to handle and I do think he contrasted that much.

And then after the trauma of losing the one he love, he began to concentrate on his work, he rose in rank and eventually became fully actualized as an officer (and technically, her superior officer) and a Spectre. Besides, a Vanguard/Infiltrator Shepard always work well with the Sentinel. It was crazy to sacrifice him.

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Then again, even without Kaidan. I can safely say. I genuinely love Shepard. She wasn’t a character I normally would want to write but as a gamer, she’s perfection and the best character I’ve played in my entire 20+ years of gaming.

 

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Mass Effect: Homeworlds by Mac Walters, Jeremy Barlow, Patrick Weekes

15894060Mass Effect Homeworlds was the fourth volume of the Mass Effect comic series. I haven’t read the first three yet but you can read it out of sequence provided you’ve played the game (which is the only reason why I bought this). This volume provide some of the back story along the lines of the characters in the game trilogy.

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The first chapter properly introduce the new ME3 character James Vega in Mass Effect universe. In narrative, the chapter started in ME3 when Normandy dry-docked in Citadel after Mars mission and Vega reminisced his past and the trouble with his family. Vega was first introduced as Shepard’s escort to a defense committee hearing and they’re already acquainted at that point as Shepard was incarcerated for six month on Earth (mostly because of her involvement with the destruction of Alpha relay where the supernova killed a whole Batarian colony to delay the return of the reaper). This time, we get more out of Vega’s ME3 story as he never was comfortable about telling his personal side to his commanding officer.

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The second chapter was a full back story of Tali in Mass Effect 1 where she found the audio logs from a geth that reveal Saren’s treachery and as an evidence for Shepard to pursue the rogue Spectre. This time it tell another story about Tali’s psyche, her inner struggle and her primary angst about her people and mostly, the lost of her friends. It does serve as a bridge between the game series and the character’s even more tragic back story.

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And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a Vakarian cameo. This chapter was set in Mass Effect 2 before Shepard came to rescue him from being massacred by a united force of mercenaries. Even to Shepard, he hardly reveal his family story until around Mass Effect 3 where the reapers invaded Palaven and his family was trapped and feared dead. The comic centered around his relationship with his father and more back story of his time being the Archangel after Shepard’s death. In the ME universe, everyone have daddy issues. But it was in the first Mass Effect that Garrus had revealed his conflicted relationship with his father that bleed to his decision to leave C-Sec and join Shepard with her mission against Saren and Sovereign. It was until this chapter that the complicated relationship between father and son was more fully actualized. If you’re a Vakarian lover, this chapter will give all those warm feelings.

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The final chapter of the volume was set between Shepard’s six month detention and before the event in the first act of Mass Effect 3 where Liara was focused on finding information against the Reapers with her role Shadow Broker but it ultimately lead her to an altercation with the Illusive Man. The chapter provided more depth to the event that lead to a reunion in Mars’ Archives.

In a way, if you love Mass Effect universe, be sure to get these volumes. Was there a Kaidan’s comic? Hmm.. because I need more reason to express my love for these OTP. Another trip to Big Bad Wolf Sale?

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Preview Sale of Big Bad Wolf Sale 2014

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There’s a reason why I never recommend bringing kids along with you when you’re shopping books and why I went to warehouse sale mostly solo…

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Moments before arriving to MIECC and several hours later…
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Running, chasing, crying, tantrums….

Basically, I end up playing nanny again. Alif became super cranky when I went out of sight to browse or when his mother went away to browse herself. Most of the time I would sit in a corner with a koala on my torso and all I want was to go home.

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I wish I could do something about the hair but when you’re hauling something with small hands, a bad hair day is guaranteed.

Considering its my sixth year since my first Big Bad Wolf sale in Amcorp Mall, I can see that they improved the overall selections. I do notice the fiction section was 1/5 of the amount of books exhibited. 2009’s Big Bad Wolf sale is still my favourite BBW experience despite the small venue and the dense crowd and snake queues but I still like MIECC although the parking was abysmal.

I didn’t bring camera or the tablet so I’m snitching my sister’s Big Bad Wolf pictures.

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I am still disappointed by the Fantasy and Science Fiction tables (there’s only four tables for two of the largest genre for books… FOUR). I still see one whole table dedicated for piles of reprints of The Hobbit and Lord of The Ring. I saw minimal Urban Fantasy and some Paranormal Romances in general fiction section (the mixed fiction at the far back of the hall near the entrance) but I do find a lot of Vintage books (I still haven’t finish most of the Vintage classic I bought from the previous sales).

Because its a preview sale, I am glad that the crowd was manageable. The only reason why I want presale passes was to avoid accidental collision with books and strangers. I still get bruises from hauling Alif the Koala around. Oh, he can walk but he don’t like strangers and crowd scares him.

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If this picture came with audio. It would be : “JANGAN PEGANG!!!!”

Side note to the organizer who love questionnaire survey rather than long form comments : There’s a better place to put this installment which was somewhere NOT at the same height as the children.

Personally, the only reason to go to the initial Big Bad Wolf sale was for the children’s book which was the bulk of the exhibition space. At least the kids enjoyed the sale more than I do.

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I have a personal budget limit of RM50 (US$15) and thankfully, I am pleased with my haul.

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I want the RM60 Mass Effect book but thankfully there was stacks of Mass Effect individual volumes to choose from. Although it was the last volume of the comic series but its just back story for ME3 so I don’t mind reading it out of sequence .

I am surprised to see stacks of P Ramlee’s Sitora Harimau Jadian. I’ve been meaning to get the book even at the normal price.

I have Amish’s Shiva trilogy on ebook format but it was harder to motivate myself reading new series via ebooks.

I’ve been searching for Midnight’s Children since forever. It was hard enough to read stream of consciousness on ebooks and in Kinokuniya, this specific volume was worth more than my collective pre-sale haul.

And the only Anna Karenina volume in the stacks. I hope the translation was good.

I saw Vintage reprint of Gaskell’s North and South and Huxley’s Brave New World and mulled about getting it too but I have a rule not to buy books I’ve already read. There’s a lot of good books in the fiction section but I’ve read most of it.

As for the food and beverage section, there was a lot of fast food available and we got ourselves some pizza. And is it me or KFC food = cup of salt.

There’s one incident that got one my sister pissed with the BBW staffs. We’re just several feet away from the cashier and in the middle of the haul at the coffee table books section where the crowd was minimal. We had to wait for my other sister to finish her own browsing before we could head out and pay.

While the kids are occupied (read: nephew with his mother and the exhausted girls sat quietly on the floor), I went down to count my own stacks from the suitcases and rearrange the haphazard books in the large suitcase. One of the BBW helper came and pointed out the sorting section. I said that I’m not sorting the books and the guy looked at me disapprovingly. For your information, the sorting section was just a small section of the allotted partition on the concrete floor. Everyone was taking their own space and it was hard enough to move in that crowded section. Let alone, you have four kids with you.

Ironically, several minutes later several family simply park themselves in the middle of the hall several feet from us and they sort their books loudly and happily. I know this because my sister commented on it. I turned and watched several dozen of BBW helpers walk by and ignore them all. Ten minutes later, they’re still there on the floor with their boxes and nobody came to them.

Big Bad Wolf organizers, was this a specific selective bias that I am not aware of?

On a side note, I will be going to the Aftermath sale when the Scifi and Fantasy section aren’t as abysmal as the normal BBW days. And please, keep the “That’s it?” comment to yourself. Honestly, there’s four Big Bad Wolf sales event in 2014 alone. Calm yer tits.

(And Says.com, if you want to steal the pictures or blog content again, suit yourself. Just know that you suck and I don’t know how you still get paid from copy pasting my shit)