Favorite Mass Effect Moments

Phil Hornshaw:

Counting down my top three moments:

3. Tali and Shepard in the Normandy Bar

Simply my favorite character-building moment in the entire Mass Effect series comes toward the end of Mass Effect 3, after the mission which reunites Shepard and his team with Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2. Afterward, you can find Tali in the Normandy’s bar, where she’s been drinking with the help of an “emergency induction port” (which Shepard insists is actually a straw). What follows is a fun discussion with a few different iterations: Tali will talk about her feelings about Miranda, primarily, but there are also goofy interactions with Javik from the From Ashes DLC you can overhear, and some slight differences if Tali and Shepard are dating. Overall, it’s a moment that highlights how strong, rounded and memorable the characters of Mass Effect can be. Plus Tali’s the best.

2. Sovereign Attacks the Citadel

The original Mass Effect had some incredible moments — the first time you dock at the Citadel, the first time you see the Geth turning humans to husks, to first time you interact with Sovereign — but nothing sold how incredible the galaxy was, or how frightening the Reaper threat, like Sovereign’s attack on the Citadel.

The specific moment that stands out in my mind was when Shepard and squad found their elevator shut down on their way to the top of the Presidium to stop Saren. They’re forced to put on helmets and venture outside, walking along the outer skin of the Citadel as they head toward the tower. At first, this is somewhat unremarkable, taking on yet another string of corridors in which players have to fight off Geth soldiers. But then, you round a corner — and see the entire Citadel stretching before you, with the mammoth Sovereign clinging to it. His huge finger-tentacles are smashing into the Citadel walls, laser beams are blasting attacking ships, and the sheer scale of the scene is incredible. It’s a mind-blowing sight: We have to stop that?

1. Shepard and Tali Decide Legion’s Fate

Perhaps the best-written, most powerful, most poignant moment in Mass Effect comes at the end of the Rannoch missions in Mass Effect 3. My experience during the scene was a very specific confluence of events. First, I rekindled a relationship with Tali from Mass Effect 2, who over the course of that game had become my favorite character in the series. Tali had my loyalty, even over other characters — she was my Shep’s girlfriend, with everything that that situation entailed.

Secondly, Tali and Shepard had shared several moments together that had rekindled the spirit of their relationship because I was lucky enough to fight through a side mission or two with Tali on the team before the final mission on Rannoch. So my loyalty to Tali was even stronger than it otherwise would have been.

And third, my Shepard was almost a full Paragon, with only a few stray decisions that had gone toward the Renegade end of the spectrum. I always try to play Mass Effect by considering each decision carefully, rather than opting for “always Paragon” or “always Renegade.” It’s a bit more of an involved role-playing way to take on the game, but by ignoring whether a decision is considered Paragon or Renegade, I was faced with some tough moral choices.

The hardest of all of these was deciding whether to back the Quarians or the Geth at Rannoch, in the final moments of that mission. On my first playthrough, I struggled mightily in choosing: side with the Geth, who deserve a chance at a real life and, in my estimation, were truly living beings; or side with the Quarians, and Shepard’s love, in the battle to retake the homeworld lost to them for more than 300 years.

In the end, I chose Tali and the Quarians, and I strongly urge anyone who has played Mass Effect 3 to go back to this moment and make the same choice, if only to watch the scene that play out. The gist is this: Legion does not accept Shepard’s judgment, and he refuses to leave the Geth without true sentience — “Is this justice?” he asks Shepard. Having decided that the Geth are too dangerous and cannot be trusted, and unable to side against Tali even though the Quarians seem to be wrong, Shepard and Legion struggle, and for a moment, it seems Legion means to kill Shepard if it means saving the Geth — that is, until Tali kills Legion, stabbing him from behind.

Shepard and Tali watch in sadness as Legion powers down, asking Tali: “Does this unit have a soul?”

The scene is made all the more powerful by a later Shepard/Tali moment in which they discuss what happened, and how the circumstances they were thrown into forced them to betray a friend. It was an incredible sacrifice and a hard decision to make — and for me, Mass Effect 3′s shining moment.

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5 Comments on Favorite Mass Effect Moments


On April 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm

The ending when all the ships popped through the relay and we got to see the space battle
legion saying I, which i caught almost immediately
watching all the i collected actually mean something at the end…in ME2

i know something happened in the last 15 min of ME3, but all i see is a cold darkness that devours black holes. must have been awesome right?


On April 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

You really like hyphens.


On April 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

I’ve got 3:

3) The final mission on Rannoch. That was an amazing bit of storytelling, since no matter what you choose, you lose someone important to you. I actually stopped for about 3-4 minutes and thought about what species I wanted to survive, and I’ve never had to do that in a game before.

2) Mordin’s entire storyline from ME2 to ME3. Mordin is one of the best-characterized NPC’s in gaming, hands-down. He’s crazy, but in ME2 you see the regret he carries around from his part of the genophage. And while it’s sad to see him go, when he smiles at the top of the Shroud, you know that he’s finally found peace with himself. And the fact that he becomes a hero to the Krogan doesn’t hurt either.

1) The first conversation with Sovereign. I can’t say much of anything that Ben didn’t already cover, but that conversation just made me hate that stupid Reaper. Its condescending tone just ticked me off to no end, and I was glad when it got destroyed.


On April 4, 2012 at 8:46 am

favourite moments

3) the Liara/Shepard reunion in ME-2 Shadowbroker DLC. Liara was the only LI I ever contemplated with my Shepard (smart, deadly, and….never whiny like Tali), and not really being to catch up with her in vanilla ME-2 was nasty. Plus The Shadowbroker’s base easily was the coolest place, graphically, Shepard ever fought in.
Seeing the glass break at the moment of the reunion…. priceless, spineshivering, unearthly. Yep I love the little blue one….

2) the original Tali vs Legion confrontation in ME-2. For one, hearing the Geth side of the story, which put an entirely different spin on the Quarians and the plight. “Does this unit have a soul” is one of _the_ best lines in the last thirty years of video gaming

1) Tali vs Legion, Take 2 on Rannoth. Siding with the Geth, seeing Legion make the final sacrifice of inviduality for the greater Good of his brethren and being vindicated by the Geth being the better sentients and all the hope invested into them by deciding to be magnanimous instead of victorious.
Though I admit, seeing Tali take the plunge when my Paragon score was not high enough was heartbraking as well…. But, unlike the Quarians, the Geth never complained whined or expected handouts.

Immortal and second best line in ME… “Geth do not use windows, they are a structural weakness”. Priceless


On April 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Mordin’s death and the whole lead-up to the final battle (the goodbye scenes). Those were hard to get through, truly saying farewell to these incredible character. I always stayed faithful to Tali but Bioware’s writing for Liara sure made that decision tough. Her goodbye scene was heartbreaking.