Mass Effect Has A Big Disdain For Democracy

by | May 30, 2021 | Gaming

Nobody likes Udina. It’s pretty clear that, even when he’s working on your side, the human ambassador to Mass Effect’s Citadel council is kind of a piece of shit. At one point, Shepard chides him for caring more about the political gains of a mission to save a bunch of human colonists than the lives that mission actually protected. This career bureaucrat might work for humanity’s best interest at times, but he’s also a transactional, ambitious climber who at least has a secondary goal of advancing his own influence. He only gets worse as time goes on.

It’s not just Udina that nobody likes, though. Despite providing Shepard with the unlimited power and near-total lack of accountability of the Spectres, the Citadel Council–a seemingly semi-democratic body comprising the galaxy’s most influential races–are largely an impediment to you getting the job done. On your periodic calls with them to debrief on your mission, which they authorized, they occasionally show frustration at your choices as you unilaterally make decisions that could threaten the whole galaxy or annihilate entire species. If you go Renegade in these moments, you throw it back in their faces. Your Paragon choices are more deferential, but only in an “ask forgiveness” kind of way. And plenty of dialogue options, Paragon or Renegade, express frustration with the Council’s unwillingness to do whatever you ask of them because you had a dream of world-ending monsters.

In fact, no member of civil authority in Mass Effect really seems like they’re that respectable. Playing Mass Effect today, it’s been surprising just how much disdain the game seems to show for the idea of civilian government, institutions, and rules in general. The galaxy of Mass Effect is not an especially democratic place, and when it is, it’s the know-nothing paper pushers who make up the government that put lives in danger. The time it takes to get the Citadel Council to sign off on an action could cost lives. Bureaucrats and their rules prevent you from stopping criminals and terrorists. You’re the only one who understands the real threat, and everyone else just has their head in the sand if they’re unwilling to let you do whatever you want to deal with it.

Continue Reading at GameSpot

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