Mass Effect (video game)

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The first game in the Mass Effect series.

The year is 2183, thirty-five years after humanity has discovered a cache of technology on Mars from a long extinct alien race. This technology enables them to travel great distances throughout the Milky Way and join an alliance of alien races based at an ancient complex called the Citadel.

The plot revolves around one Commander Shepard, a human military officer who becomes the first human Spectre, a member of an elite interplanetary peacekeeping force. S/he is tasked with tracking down a rogue Spectre, Saren, who has apparently allied himself with the geth, a race of murderous robots. As the storyline progresses, Shepard explores a variety of worlds, encounters a wide range of sapient species, and uncovers an ancient plot involving the coming doom of every sapient organic being in the entire galaxy.

There are a handful plot-revelant missions and if you focus exclusively on those the game would be in the realm of 9–10 hours, but being an RPG there is an entire galaxy for you to explore as you engage in side-missions, expanding the game to upwards of 25 hours or more. The game lacks a a traditional good/evil Karma Meter, and instead gives you options on how to preceed with each encounter based on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism; you are a hero either way, but your heroism can range from Knight in Shining Armor to Anti-Hero. You can choose whether to recruit all of the characters optioned to be part of your crew or ignore them and do it all yourself. You even have the option of different characters to pursue a romantic relationship with if you so desire (including a possible Love Triangle).

The weapons within the game do not have ammunition, instead replacing it with an "overheat" meter that limits how long you can fire your weapon before you need to pause for a cooldown, but there are modifications available within the game that allow for non-stop firing. You are also able to customize the equipment of yourself and your squad, including which specific weapons you take into battle, the armor you wear and various perks and enhancements.

The game was wildly praised for its story, World Building and interactivity, but received a cooler reception on its gameplay. Generally, it is regarding a menu system that overcomplicates the RPG elements and some shakey Third-Person-Shooter gameplay (neither of which are broken, just unrefined). Of note is that the game was designed to work with Mass Effect 2 in that your choices transfer over to the new story in a suprisingly in-depth way.

Jack Thompson thought the controversy over this game was overblown. That's already saying quite a bit.[1]

Tropes used in Mass Effect (video game) include:
  • 100% Completion: The main storyline will probably only take about 10 hours to complete, but there are dozens of sidequests as well, and there is an achievement for players who complete 75% of the game.
  • Abandoned Mine: Many, many side-missions in take place in these- from recovering missing Alliance intelligence to killing husks of a mining team that Dug Too Deep.
  • Abnormal Ammo: The player can modify what kind of bullets their weapon can fire. These range from the fairly mundane anti-organic and anti-synthetic rounds, to the bizarre (and more awesome) bullets that cause enemies to burst into flame, get poisoned, or freeze. A full list can be found here.
  • Above the Ruins: On Eden Prime, walk past the beacon to the railing behind it to trigger this cutscene with Ashley and Kaidan.
  • Action Bomb: Rachni Workers, very small bugs that throw themselves at you and explode, doing poison damage that completely ignores your shields.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several. One example is when Shepard has to decide whether or not to let the Rachni Queen live.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Both Liara and Shiala expressing regret over the destruction of the Thorian as it was an unique and ancient life-form.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Benezia, Saren if you manage to convince him that he is being controlled by Sovereign.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Battle of the Citadel. Makes for a pretty awesome The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Shepard and Love Interest, just before the Point of No Return.
  • Ancient Keeper: Vigil, a Prothean virtual intelligence which maintained the facility on Ilos in the hopes that an organic race would reach the planet before the next Reaper invasion. It survives long enough to point Shepard towards the Conduit and give him/her a means of preventing the return of the Reapers.
  • Apocalyptic Log
    • The message in the Prothean Beacon.
    • In Bring Down the Sky, there are three missing miners you have to find as part of a side-quest, one of which leaves an Apocalyptic Log that is definitely a Tear Jerker.

Hymes: If I don't make it, tell my family I love-- *BOOM*

  • Applied Phlebotinum: Mass Effect itself, which is the effect on matter that causes it to gain or lose mass and enables anti-gravity (And artificial gravity) and Faster Than Light travel.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can recruit up to six squadmates, but you only take two with you at a time.
  • Artificial Limbs: Though it is never commented upon in the game, Saren's left arm is actually a Geth's arm.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Thorian can only be killed by attacking the neural clusters that are scattered around its mammoth body.
  • Autobots Rock Out: As befitting a game that pays homage to early 1980's sci-fi flicks, the end credits feature an 80's style rock ballad... that has almost nothing to do with the events of the story.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant:
    • The Turians were a newly discovered neutral race during the Krogan rebellions, until the Krogan attacked some of their orbital habitats in an attempt to intimidate them. This brought the Turians, with more military might than the other Citadel races combined, into the war against the Krogan.
    • The Codex entry on the human military points out that the rest of the galaxy sees the Systems Alliance as a sleeping giant. The Systems Alliance has only 3% of the total human population in uniform, a far smaller number than any of the established (and more numerous) Council races. The entry uses the actual "sleeping giant" term, and explains why the rest of the galaxy tends to treat humans with kid gloves: they're terrified of what the Systems Alliance might be capable of if sufficiently motivated by fear, anger, or desperation.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Mako is a three-person all terrain vehicle that can be dropped from orbit, achieve sub-orbit itself through the use of thrusters and a mass effect field, and possesses a cannon and a 50mm autocannon.
  • Battle in the Rain: Virmire, although It does not show up on the Xbox 360 version and the PC edition requires extremely high performance graphics equipment.
  • Beat: Punch out reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani and you may hear (5:08) this in a Citadel elevator:

"Reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani recently attempted to land an interview with Commander Shepard, the first human Spectre. When pressed on the issues however, Commander Shepard reportedly lost control and assaulted the reporter.
Beat
"We'll have exclusive footage later today."

  • Betting Minigame: The Quasar slot machines. Unfortunately, nowhere near as fun as pazaak.
  • Big Bad: Sovereign.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Battle of the Citadel.
  • Bilingual Bonus: It's not like binary is an official language, but those who know it will be able to read the Luna VI's final message. HELP!
  • Black and Grey Morality: The Renegade playthrough takes this light.
  • Black and White Morality: Should you be playing Paragon, the central conflict between Shepard and Saren seems to take this light, but there is a large amount of grey in between.
  • Blatant Item Placement: The lootable Soviet Luna 23 on the Moon.
  • Bleak Level: Post-Virmire Normandy, complete with sad music.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: The Russian localization changed phrases' meaning to their complete opposite. The most notable one is making Khalisah Al-Jilani sound like a patriot who praises Shepard for his/her actions. They made options on the dialogue tree completely unrelated to full versions, failing to understand the meaning of both and they even went as far as making things up, especially in the Codex. Like calling quarians complete atheists whose science proved that Religion Is Wrong.
  • Body Horror:
    • Husks, who were once people, and Saren, who gets put through a similar process.
    • Garrus' optional quest has you chasing a criminal doctor who grew extra organs within his test subjects, without their knowledge. When they were ready, he would recover them and patch up the victims, badly. Garrus mentions multiple cases of subjects bleeding to death from stitches reopening.
  • Border Patrol: If you ventured too far outside the box on any side world, the Normandy will pick you up and drop you back off at the starting point. Normally unnoticeable, but for some reason there's a few resource points in the red zone on a couple of worlds.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • The other cool ammunition to load into your gun have nifty effects against your enemies, but basic armor-piercing and anti-personnel ammo for synthetics and organic enemies provide more benefit from their simplistic yet significant damage increase to your weapon.
    • Heat sinks. Sure they have no flashy effects or cool damage animations, but being able to fire longer without pause sure gets the job done a lot easier!
  • Boss Remix: A combination of Sovereign and Saren's themes.
  • Broken Faceplate: In Bring Down the Sky, a survivor of the attack mentions that the batarian terrorists killed engineers working vacuum by smashing their faceplates.
  • Broken Record: Makes Most Annoying Sound THAT MUCH WORSE.

Mira: User alert! Main reactor shut down in accordance with emergency containment procedures. Manual restart required.

    • "ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!" "GO, GO, GO!" "ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!" "I WILL DESTROY YOU!!!"
    • Shepard: "I've lost shields!"
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Sure, killing Sovereign was awesome, but no matter which option you chose there are still thousands of deaths, and the damage to the Citadel itself will take seven years to fix. In a literal example, after the fight Shepard shows up cradling his/her arm to his/her body, indicating that s/he actually broke it in the final battle and its aftermath.
  • But Thou Must!: Sometimes Shepard says the same thing regardless of what option you pick.
    • Midway through Eden Prime, you meet a trio of colonists; at one point, one of them accidentally mentions that they have weapons. You have to take the pistol, there is no option to let them keep it for self-defense.
    • On Virmire, there's no option to agree with Wrex about not destroying the cure for the Genophage, the disease that's killing his people. There are just different ways to make him agree with you or kill him.
    • At the end of the Pinnacle Station DLC when Shepard insists that the safeties are turned off for the final simulation, just so (s)he can look cool.
  • Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: The "space monkeys", which are given the name "pyjaks" in the sequel.
  • The Cavalry: Joker, Admiral Hackett, and the entirety of the Alliance Fifth Fleet when Sovereign attacks the Citadel.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Mass Relay Monument on the Presidium.
  • Circling Monologue: Both Shepard and Saren try to convince each other at the end of the Virmire mission to join the other side.
  • Collapsible Helmet: The helmets function this way, being actually parts of the armor that pull over the wearer's head, convertible-style.
  • Collection Sidequest: Several, including many in space and one on the Citadel. Most of them have to do mainly with space exploration, though a couple involve Shepard investigating lost remnants of battles and explorers who came before him... which given the general theme of the game is very appropriate, if somewhat sidetracking.
  • Colony Drop: You stop one of these from happening in the Bring Down the Sky DLC.
  • Command Roster: Some roles change depending on how you play the game.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Drive (or walk) as close to the lava on Therum as you like, you'll be fine. Just don't actually touch it.
  • Conversation Casualty: This is how the conversation between Nihlus and Saren goes.
  • Copy Protection: The PC version of Mass Effect only allows you to install it three times on different machines/hardware configurations. The previous version of the copy protection involved regular "calling in" periods to a remote server, resulting in a non-functional game if the program was unable to connect to the authentication server.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A recurring plot point.
    • Noveria is a entire planet devoted to this: it exists outside of Council Space, and therefore has no laws other than the ones it makes... corporations use it to conduct R&D that is normally illegal. In fact, you come across an Executive that is being investigated not because he is on the take, but because it has reached the point where he is turning investors away.
    • Binary Helix, a human genetics Mega Corp, brought the rachni back from the dead to mass-produce an army (some of which found their way to Cerberus). They were also working on a biological weapon, adapted from a plant pesticide. Oh, and they work for Saren.
    • ExoGeni Corp purposely infected colonists with alien spores to see what effect it would have. When knowledge of this got out, they decided to repurpose the colony. They also shipped a number of Husks and Thorian Creepers off to Cerberus.
  • Corrupted Data: How the game justifies letting the player select Shepard's family and psychological background.
  • Courtroom Antic: During the first Council hearing regarding Saren's involvement with the Eden Prime attack, Anderson tries to submit a dream into evidence (granted, it was a prophetic dream, but he had no way of proving that and even if he could, it didn't directly implicate Saren). The trope is quickly subverted, as it goes about as well as you would expect, and Anderson is Kicked Upstairs shortly afterwards. In Anderson's defense, he was kind of desperate.
  • Crutch Character: The Mako. There is no option to upgrade it while your weapons keep improving, so eventually you will be best off leaving the vehicle and fighting on foot (avoiding the hefty experience penalty associated with using the Mako in combat). Subverted in the sense that Mako shielding and, most importantly, speed remain unmatched.
  • Cryonics Failure: The fate of most of the Protheans on Ilos who went into stasis to escape the Reaper's purge of the galaxy.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Manuel on Eden Prime sounded like he got a little unhinged by the attack. Later on, however, you slowly realize that his manic babbling was more than just hallucinations. In fact, he's so spot on some theorize that he managed to access the Prothean beacon, but couldn't handle the alien information inside.
  • Cult Colony: One sidequest deals with a cracked military officer and his colony of devoted followers.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Almost every sidequest in the game takes place in (1) a mine that's a big room with two smaller ones branching off the back, (2) a building with an exterior overhang that's just one big room and a balcony, (3) a boxy bunker with a "T" junction in back leading to two small rooms. Or, (4) a freighter (or sometimes space station) that has a short entryway, a large main hold and a crew/cockpit area with three small rooms. About the only variation is the crates/computers/boxes/whatever placed inside, and how they're positioned. If the designers were feeling particularly creative, you might get some combination of the three. It doesn't help that on quite a few of these missions you're fighting geth and husks (i.e. the same enemies you fight for most of the main storyline).
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: A pettier example than usual. In Flux, a salarian needs your help testing out a device he built to cheat at Quasar. If you foil his plans, he'll be crestfallen that the years of work he put into making the device have gone to waste, wondering what he will do now. Your squad members suggest that he could use his skills to get a real job.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: The Mako is flipped over and rendered inoperable from impacting the ground after traveling through the conduit, to ensure players don't falsely assume, by The Law of Conservation of Detail, that they're supposed to drive to the Citadel Tower. In gameplay, you can jump off a sheer cliff without repercussions.
  • Cut the Juice: Happens on Feros to Lisbeth Baynham: the geth cut the power once they invade, inadvertently preventing her from sending a message to Colonial Affairs about the Thorian.
  • Cutting the Knot: Oh no, this AI is threatening to blow me up! I have to override its programs in the short amount of time given to me! Or, you know, blow up this power conduit with my shotgun. of course, if you just do that you cannot salvage the huge pile of credits the AI had amassed.
  • Da Chief: Executor Pallin, providing a foil for the appearance of Cowboy Cop Garrus.
  • Damage Is Fire: The Mako.
  • Damsel in Distress: Though they are all competent and helpful companions once past their introduction, every female member of your team is recruited while rescuing them from attack.
    • Ashley is recruited on Eden Prime after you and Kaiden save her from Geth pursuit.
    • Tali is recruited on the Citadel when you protect her from assassins sent by Saren.
    • Liara is recruited on Therum after you free her from a Prothean force field that she acidentally activated while being hunted by Geth and a Krogan battlemaster.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Apparently standard procedure is for all personnel entering the Normandy to be decontaminated before being allowed to board, no matter where they are returning from. It's actually a carefully-disguised loading screen, just like the elevators.
  • Deployable Cover: The beehive barriers the geth are so very fond of plonking down everywhere.
  • Deus Ex Nukina: A converted ship drive core. Used on Virmire to destroy Saren's base.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Listen to the conversation between the elcor ambassador Calyn and Xeltan. They don't preface their words with their emotion. Why? They don't need to. They only do that with non-elcor who can't detect their odors and subtle movements to derive emotional subtext.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
    • The Thorian, a planet-wide sentient plant that you defeat by shooting its weak points For Massive Damage.
    • The conclusion, where Sovereign, the millions-of-years-old Reaper, is destroyed by (depending on your interpretation of the game) either you personally destroying its Saren-avatar, or by the combined might of the Council and the Systems Alliance.
  • Difficulty Levels: Fully customizable throughout the game, running from Casual to Insanity. Be warned, however, that if you want to get the achievements for completing Hardcore and Insanity, you'll need to change it before finishing the first mission and leave it there for the rest of the game.
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: It is established that you have to go to Ilos to stop Saren before he finds the Conduit, but then during the mission on Ilos, it is revealed that the Conduit is a mini mass relay that leads to the Citadel, which ends up being the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Discount Lesbians: The asari are a mono-gendered race, technically neither male or female, but their appearance is uniformly feminine and they use feminine pronouns. All relationships between two asari are Discount Lesbians and your party member Liara provides a Gay Option Romance Sidequest.
  • Distress Call: A large number of sidequests are triggered by picking up one of these as you're flying by a planet/derelict ship.
  • Double Tap: If Wrex dies, his killer puts three more bullets in him when he's on the ground. Shepard will also tell the squad to do this to Saren in the endgame.
  • Downloadable Content: Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station.
  • The Dragon:
  • Driven to Suicide: Several characters, including Fai Dan and potentially Saren himself.
  • Dummied Out: Kaidan and Ashley were going to be same-sex romance options in the first game and were close to being implemented; modding your gender flag in the save file to make the romance possible will result in near-complete voice acting for the dialog when it is played through, although Shepard's gender will magically change during the love scene.
  • Dying as Yourself:
    • Matriarch Benezia can break free of Sovereign's indoctrination only after you have mortally wounded her, where she can give you just a little bit of information before succumbing to her wounds.
    • If you have enough Charm or Intimidate points, Saren can be forced to realize that he is indoctrinated and playing into the Reaper's hands, turning his gun on himself in a last-second redemption.
  • Dynamic Entry: Driving through the Citadel's relay in the Mako at full speed. Those two geth never knew what hit them.
  • Dynamic Loading: Elevators. Though the team managed to soften the blow in some cases, giving your squad members unique dialogue and adding some amusing news reports in a lot of them, they swiftly become mind-crushingly tedious. Gone, and even lampshaded, in Mass Effect 2.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The sequels adhered to a strict cover-based-shooter model where this one allowed a more freewheeling run-and-gun style. They also streamlined the weapon and character upgrades, and ditched the mandatory driving segments.
  • Easter Egg: In Bring Down the Sky, if you go to the highest peak, Shepard will find a radio shack built by engineers housing a music station called Radio X57. Turning on the broadcast plays all of the elevator music.
  • Easy Exp: Like most BioWare games, most of your early exp will come from talking to various people.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Reapers warp and degrade the minds of their followers simply by existing; just being within their body will eventually indoctrinate you.
  • The Elevator From Ipanema: The Citadel's elevators play muzak arrangements of several of the game's more dramatic songs.
  • The End of the Beginning: The game ends this way, with Shepard and whoever you elected to lead the Council (human or otherwise) promising to take the fight to the Reapers, and Shepard striding off.
  • Equipment Spoiler: You can get armor for turians, quarians and krogan before Garrus, Tali or Wrex join your party, including finding armor on Eden Prime before you even know of the existence of that species.
  • Evil Matriarch: Benezia?
  • Exposition Beam: The Prothean beacon. Subverted, though, due to the fact that since they were designed for use by a different species, not to mention the fact that they've been lying out in the sun for fifty thousand years, renders the message incomprehensible to any human or turian that happen to stumble across them. Shepard eventually finds a way to understand the beacon's message on one of the main quest worlds.
  • Fake Longevity: In order to get every achievement, you have to play through the first game a grand total of three times. Without skipping any of the sidequests. Good luck with that!
  • Fan Service: The game essentially had a strip club in it; while none of the asari dancers actually showed anything, you can be assured there is plenty of dancing around poles. And there is an empty spot for you to sit and watch one of the dancers on the sidelines of the club. It even allows you to choose between your character relaxing back in their chair or leaning forward.
  • Fictional Political Party: The game introduces the Terra Firma Party, a human political party that mainly seeks to oppose humanity's involvement and integration with the rest of the galactic community, believing that humanity needs to stand on its own if they're to remain strong. Commander Shepard (as well as his/her squad mates) can comment and give his/her opinion on what he/she thinks of such a platform, and the player can choose whether Shepard endorses the Terra Firma Party or not.
  • Final Boss Preview: The first battle with Saren is on Virmire, and then you fight him as the Final Boss on the Citadel.
  • Five-Man Band: The Normandy squadmates.
  • Fixing the Game: Schells the Gambler. After he gets thrown out of Flux, he complains that he wasn't cheating, he was just gathering data so that he could cheat. If he wanted. Which he doesn't. He's just going to sell his system to people who might. If they want.
  • Flavor Text: Plenty of it, which is to be expected for a BioWare game.
  • Fling a Light Into the Future: The most heartbreaking sort. The Prothean scientists who understood who and what the Reapers were realized that there was nothing they could do to stop their own extinction. Their solution was to leave beacons directing future species to Ilos to get them to speak to the virtual intelligence "Vigil". Most of the remaining Protheans put themselves in stasis, hoping someone would come, but they knew their lives were not as important as maintaining Vigil's power, and eventually all of them were shut off. A dozen Protheans snuck onto the barren Citadel to reprogram the Keepers to not respond to the Reaper signal to activate the mass relay to allow them to catch the resident species in time.
  • Flunky Boss:
    • Fist. You face him and two auto-turrets; either shoot him or destroy the turrets, either way ends the fight.
    • Matriarch Benezia, who sends out waves of commandos and geth which need to be killed before you can damage her.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • First "level" of the game, exploring the Normandy before setting down on Eden Prime, features introductory conversations with many of the background characters of the game as they explain the fictional universe. During the conversation with Dr. Chakwas and Corporal Jenkins, they outline the upcoming plot of the game in a theoretical discussion about the Spectres, including pointing out that Shepard would make a good Spectre, questioning how a Spectre could get his official status revoked and also how the Council would retaliate.
    • When first visiting the Council Chambers in the Citadel Tower, your party members may comment on the layout of the room and how it looks like it was designed to defend against invaders. Sure enough, the Council Chambers are the scene of the final battle in the game, but the player is the invader.
    • On in the Citadel, you can learn about the Rachni Wars, which were ended by xenocide, and the Krogan Rebellions, which were stopped by the use of the genophage. Later, you encounter and fight the rachni, and an entire mission is based off preventing the curing of the genophage by the Big Bad to make an army of krogan.
    • On the Citadel's Presidium level, there is a statue of a mass relay. Talking to Kaidan near it reveals that something about the statue is causing interference with his biotic systems. It's the receiving end of the Conduit from Ilos, with which you make a Dynamic Entry in the Mako in the finale.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Every piece of armour you pick up fits whomever you give it to perfectly. The form-fitting factor ties in with the "Early '80s Sci Fi Styling" theme of Mass Effect.
  • Free Sample Plot Coupon: Shepard accidentally finds a Prothean beacon in the end of the tutorial level. It proves to be the first in line of Mac Guffins you have to collect before you can beat the Big Bad, namely, the Prothean Cipher that allows to decode the beacon's message, the MacGuffin Girl Liara who does the actual decoding, and the coordinates of the Point of No Return kept by the Rachni Queen.
  • The Future Is Noir: Admittedly, most of the places you go have either been abandoned for a long time or have recently been attacked. But you have to admit, the lighting on the Normandy sucks.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: It is impossible to damage your squadmates or NPCs that are not pointing a gun at you. Friendly fire versus squadmates can be enabled in the PC version though.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Later in the game, you go against the Council, getting yourself and your accomplices (Anderson) in trouble with the law. Despite this, Admiral Hackett still sends missions your way (the Event Flag is you entering the system to take place in).
  • Gay Option:
    • Sort of, if you are a female Shepard and pursue a romance with Liara T'Soni, who is an asari. The asari are of a single gender, so technically are neither male or female; however, they look and sound feminine and are referred to in the Codex as an all-female race. They even use female pronouns.
    • There was originally a same-sex romance between Shepard and Kaidan/Ashley. The conversation for Male!Shep/Kaidan is still buried in the code, but not the sex scene. Ditto for female Shepard and Ashley.
  • Genre Shift: Peak 15 more closely resembles Survival Horror than Space Opera - difficult-to-kill enemies with few places to restore medi-gel.
  • Giant Mook: The geth Destroyers, Juggernauts and Primes are twelve-foot tall geth with Eva Fins, each increasing in strength and height in that order. Destroyers are simply huge and tough and carry an assault rifle/shotgun combo. Juggernauts are resilient to your combat abilities and carry an assault rifle/short-range rocket launcher combo. Primes are even tougher, bigger, carry a pulse rifle/rocket launcher, and provide all geth in the area with increased accuracy, damage, and firing rate. All have a tendency of charging you to bring their ridiculously powerful melee attacks to bear.
  • Godwin's Law: If you tell Charles Saracino that you believe humans should negotiate with aliens, he's quick to invoke comparisons to "peace for our time".
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Every suicide scene in the first game cuts away at the actual moment of death. Except Saren.
  • Guns in Church: Justified, somewhat: you are a Spectre, and numerous events prove that you are not safe from attack anywhere you go, so it makes sense for your party to walk around fully armed and armoured at all times. It does get a little weird when you can draw and fire your guns (though not at people) and set off grenades all over the place and nobody bats an eye.
  • Hammerspace:
    • You can carry up to 150 items, whether this be weapons, armour, biotic implants or omni-tools, as well as mods for the first two
    • It is averted for the four weapons you have equipped, which are in a backpack frame.
  • Harder Than Hard: Most agree that the Insanity difficulty setting is just that. You can't even play on it until you've already gone through the game at least twice.
  • Heal Thyself: Necessary to survive once your shields go down. You use up medi-gel to do so which, in complete defiance of video game standards, is exactly where you would expect it to be (i.e. everywhere).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Whoever you leave behind on Virmire.
  • Hero of Another Story: According to the Backstory, the Prothean scientists who awoke from cryosleep to find themselves the last dozen or so of their race. All they did was spent several decades deciphering and hacking Reaper tech to disconnect the Keepers from their command, sending a risky S.O.S. through the beacons to anyone who would listen, and at the very end, went to the Citadel to make the final necessary adjustments to make sure that when Sovereign called, no one answered... and died from starvation.
  • He Was Right There All Along: One of the things which make thresher maws so freaking hard.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure:
    • The gravity, volume, rotation times etc. of planets are measured in comparisons to earth instead of newtons etc.
    • One of the side-quests has Admiral Hackett asking you to diffuse a nuclear weapon that he explains has the same power as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Oddly enough, the game averts this trope when discussing the improvised nuclear weapon on Virmire, which dialogue indicates also has the same explosive power as the Hiroshima bomb—although this is probably due to Kirrahe being a salarian, and therefore unlikely to make this reference.
  • Hitchhiker Heroes: Apart from Kaidan, who is actually part of your squad at the beginning of the game, and Liara, who you are specifically sent out to pick up, every squadmate joins of their own free will, or because Anderson thought they might be useful.
  • Idle Animation: Each squadmate has a unique idle animation.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The geth do this to their victims when transforming them into husks. This is also the fate of Saren if you don't meet the Paragon/Renegade check.
  • Impossible Item Drop: Can seem like this when you recover assault rifles from apparently naked and weaponless cyber-zombies, and advanced ultra-tech materials from lost, 60's era Soviet lunar probes, but ultimately subverted by reading the codex carefully. It reveals your omnitool is a mini-factory which assembles the loot you find from the raw materials you scavenge from various satellites, dead enemies and containers.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Quasar is an incredibly dull adding game with two buttons, yet it has entire casinos dedicated to it.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: An Elanus officer down the Rift Station, standing alert to repel the rachni forces.

"Science pukes. Should just bug out and leave 'em to die. All their fault anyway. Heh. 'Bug out.' Heh heh heh heh heh."

  • Infinity Plus One Guns: Spectre Master Gear. Comes in all four weapon flavors, expensive as hell, and utterly devastating.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Occurs in several places, most prominently in a "one-way" drop on Feros. It's only about the height of Shepard.
  • Interface Spoiler: When you first encounter Rachni on Noveria, the label above them calls them such, even though Shepard doesn't find this out for another 20 minutes.
  • Internet Counterattack: Cooper Lawrence declared that the game was a graphic sex simulator on Fox News, where she admitted she had never played the game, or even heard anything about it. Gamers responded by bombing the hell of her Amazon book rating, along with reviews that started with "I've never read this book, but...". When Amazon started taking down reviews such as this, gamers responded by beginning their reviews with "I HAVE read this book, and...".
  • It's a Small World After All: Anything worth visiting on a planet - pirate bases, Prothean artifacts, crashed space probes, mineral deposits - can be found within about two minutes' drive from where you land.
  • Japanese Honorifics: Captain Matsuo uses these. The encounter drives home the fact that you're using Translator Microbes and everyone isn't really speaking English. The event also leads fans to suspect that there is a hardcore Otaku on the BioWare dev team.
  • Join or Die: Saren's response to Shepard's resistance is this. Join the Reapers... 'cause if you don't, you're guaranteed to die.

Saren: Is submission not preferable to extinction? [...] Everyone you know and love, you will all die.

  • "Join the Army," They Said: If you speak to the surviving marines on Nepmos after helping them Hold the Line, they'll say, "'Join the marines, see the galaxy.' Hell."
  • Just Think of the Potential: A sidequest involving a dead soldier's body and whether or not it's right to keep it from her husband for study.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • In Bring Down the Sky, the Paragon ending has you let Balak go to save the hostages.
    • ExoGeni gets no comeuppance for turning a human colony into a control group while testing the effects of Thorian's Mind Control. While Shepard can kill an Exogeni Yes-Man who was trying to pursue their interests, this doesn't hurt the company at all.
  • Karma Meter: The scale does not reflect "good" or "evil" choices, but instead grades based upon what the game terms "paragon" and "renegade" depending on how you achieve victory. The options on each decision tree fall on opposite sides of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, and paragon and renegade points stack up on separate meters; gaining in one area will not reduce the points in the other.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: If you leave Ashley or Kaidan to die on the AA tower on Virmire, then just before Saren shows up at the bomb site you hear a brief transmission of whoever was left at the tower shouting some orders to the Salarians, then you hear the start of what sounds like either a gunshot or an explosion before the transmission cuts off. That's the last you see or hear of that person in the game.
  • Kill'Em All: An alarming amount of the sidequests where you're sent to find someone end up with them dead by the time you get there.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: Krogan scientists.
  • Knighting: Spectre induction, complete with swelling orchestral music.
  • Laser Sight: Played straight with the Assassination skill, but only with enemies, making their shots somewhat easy to dodge. It would return in the later games even though the skill itself was removed.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: Many people are aware that the real villains of the series are the Reapers. To a lesser degree, the choice between Kaidan and Ashley was widely spoiled after the game's release.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: The Elanus Risk Control company acts as security on the planet of Noveria, which is pretty much Corrupt Corporate Executive Land. Naturally, corruption is rampant.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Richard L. Jenkins. He dies two minutes after the opening cutscene, on his first ever mission, without firing a shot. To be fair, he was ambushed, on point, and those drones tear through Shepard's shields as well. The developers have mentioned more than once that the naming and manner of death were deliberate.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Therum.
  • Lost Forever:
    • You cannot complete Feros sidequests that take place in the ExoGeni facility if you have already "finished" that mission and headed back to the colony. You also cannot complete certain Feros sidequests if you kill the colonist that gave it to you when they are under the Thorian's control.
    • After a certain point, you cannot return to the Citadel, and thus you cannot complete any sidequests involving it.
  • Love Triangle: It is possible to flirt with both Kaiden/Ashley and Liara at the same time. Eventually, the two will approach you simultaneously and demand some sort of conclusion; you have the option of rejecting one or inviting them be in a relationship together. Liara is willing to have an inclusive relationship, but the human will refuse.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Fighting a sand worm Thresher Maw. It's already a tough enemy by itself, but the worst thing about it that it can unburrow right underneath you, and then you die.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Shooting someone with special ammunition types can have disturbing effects. Poison-damage ammo causes enemies to become green vapor after death, fire-damage ammo causes them to turn to a bunch of floating-away red ashes upon killing them, ice-damage ammo causes their bodies to freeze, bursting into shards after a couple of seconds, explosive ammo causes the corpse to catch fire, proton rounds (which allow your shots to pierce shields) will cause an enemy to be consumed by blue electricity and fizzle out, and radioactive rounds function similarly to poison ammo, except the hapless victim leaves a sickly brown grease stain on the ground after they die.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Saleon, who used living people to grow illegal organs, and kidnapped them to use as hostages when he was discovered. He made some... other changes... to them before Shepard finally caught up with him.
  • Made of Iron: Anything using the Immunity power. Awesome for yourself, annoying against your enemies (use Warp to mostly counter it).
  • Mako Fu: Ramming infantry enemies can result in one hit kills, but the larger enemies do not suffer any damage. It does, however, temporarily stun them. Makes it much easier taking out armatures, colossi, juggernauts and primes because they fall over and take a while to get back up.
  • Male Gaze:
    • The first shot of Matriarch Benezia is her ample chest, before she coughs and the camera moves up to her face, possibly Leaning on the Fourth Wall to say My Eyes Are Up Here.
    • No matter what gender Shepard is, the romantic scene contains a lovingly rendered female rear end. If you are a female romancing Kaidan, you get to see his as well.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • With a name like Nihlus, you can't expect him to live long.
    • Vigil, whose job was to keep a vigil for as long as possible for someone, anyone who had a chance at breaking the extinction cycle.
    • Private Richard L. Jenkins. Like no one knew what was going to happen to him.
    • Saren seems to share a name with Sarin, a chemical warfare agent that destroys the ability for the victim's nervous system to control their body.
    • Captain Kirrahe: named for the mountain, Currahee, on which US paratroopers trained in Georgia for WWII.
    • Commander Shepard him/herself, named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The geth. The achievement for killing synthetic enemies is named "Geth Hunter", in fact, although turrets count towards this number.
  • Membership Token: The Salarian League of One and their medallions, which you can collect in persuit of One Hundred Percent Completion.
  • Memetic Mutation: See Bio Ware.
  • Menu Time Lockout: When you go to your equipment inventory, you can pause time and change your weapons, armor, clothing, all other equipment on yourself and your two companions who are currently on the other side of the room in the middle of a heated battle.
  • Mercy Kill: The protagonists constantly proclaim that killing any of the Reapers' indoctrinated slaves is doing them a favor. At least one victim agrees.
  • Military Moonshiner: No one is directly implicated, but Ashley lampshades that a still is one of the first things soldiers set up on any ship.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: The story very, very quickly escalates out of control. It starts with a standard shakedown run of a prototype warship, then you learn it's actually a covert pickup of a Precursor communications beacon. Which is then complicated by an invasion of robotic aliens trying to get the beacon. Which then turns into hunting down a rogue government agent, who intends to use the robotic aliens and the knowledge in the beacon to attack humanity. Which then turns into a desperate, clandestine battle to stop a race of mechanical gods from wiping out every organic sentient in the galaxy.
  • The Modest Orgasm: The Consort is apparently very... controlled.
  • Moment Killer: Joker interrupts what's about to be the first kiss between Shepard and his/her Love Interest.
  • Money for Nothing: Near the end of the game, there's nothing worth buying. Since you can start a New Game+ with all the gear you ended your last game with, this gets ridiculous pretty quickly, even with Master Spectre X weapons.
  • Mood Whiplash: The debriefing after the Wham! Episode may be immediately followed by a relationship argument.
  • More Dakka:
    • It's possible to mod an assault rifle to the point where it never stops firing. But it's just not enuff dakka. It's never enuff dakka.
    • The Marksman talent for pistols temporarily buffs their rate of fire, accuracy and cooling. With the right armor mods, it can be maintained indefinitely, giving a mere pistol the ability to spray a never-ending river of lead with a fire rate comparable to an assault rifle. More dakka indeed.
  • Mundane Utility: Towards the end of the game, we see a minor character using one of the high-tech holographic omni-tools as a flashlight.
  • Multiple Endings: Several of them, and each one has variations based on whether the player has made predominantly Paragon or Renegade choices. The end result is relatively similar though: you win. Also, humanity gets at least one spot on the Citadel Council.
  • Neutral Female: Liara crouches down in the middle of the floor in the final fight on Therum and does not attack the Krogan Battlemaster in any way; but she is faint with hunger and lack of sleep..
  • Never Mess with Granny. Helena Blake.
  • New Game+
  • Not a Game: Uttered by Shepard during one sidequest; as always when this trope is mentioned in a video game, it is amusing.
  • Not So Different: Balak from the Bring Down the Sky DLC tries this on you if you sacrifice the hostages in order to apprehend him and prevent him from crashing and asteroid into a colony. This becomes Harsher in Hindsight in the Arrival DLC of the next game where you use a repurposed asteroid to destroy a Mass Relay, destroying the star system in a supernova-sized blast, it's 305,000 batarian inhabitants included.
  • Not So Harmless: Remember the pod crabs on Virmire? Those huge but gentle things you thought were completely harmless? Apparently not.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: A few side missions send you into familiar spaces (yet another mine, yet another freighter) with a main room that normally throws a crowd of mooks at you... only there are no mooks. Until you explore a bit more and suddenly they're behind you. Or they come pouring out of the normally empty rooms at the back. Or... nothing. Until you get outside.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Used in Peak 15 on Noveria. The doctors there are Ph.Ds, not MDs. One of them even lampshades it.
  • The Obi-Wan: Nihlus Kryik, if he had managed to survive the mission on Eden Prime.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: One of the main perks of being a Spectre is that they aren't subject to the rules and red tape that normally apply to police and military forces. Adminstrator Anoleis on Noveria, the Citadel Council and Ambassdor Udina, however, do their best to prevent that. Anoleis refuses to let you leave Port Hanshan and continue with your mission, likely because he was on the take; Udina convinces the Council to ground the Normandy to prevent you from chasing Saren to Ilos.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Ashley mentions one of her sisters wearing corsets in addition to her sword training. It apparently does wonders for her figure. And we never get to see her.
  • Old School Dogfighting: There are no fighters encountered in the game, but ships in space maneuver as if they were flying through an atmosphere.
  • One-Woman Wail: Used within the game. When you defeat the vanguard of a geth invasion, they inform their comrades of their defeat with "a lone quarian singing a single, haunting wail over a hushed mass."
  • One Riot, One Ranger: The Council appoints Shepard as a Spectre specifically to hunt down Saren, as an alternative to sending in an entire fleet. The Codex comments that the assignment of a Spectre to a developing situation is a last resort before all-out war. One of the few times the Council really shines; you have to actually ask to go it alone.
  • One Size Fits All: Played straight with human armour: it is unisex (and magically changes shape for each sex) and your asari squad member can also use human armour. Averted with quarian, turian and krogan armour; they are not interchangable, but you only have one of each on your squad.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: The asari Consort at the start of the game. This is one of the places where the dialogue system fails - if you're dissatisfied with her gift of words, she sexes you. Cries of "the Consort raped me!" are common. Also occurs at the end of all three romantic subplots, but you can turn them down.
  • Organ Theft: Garrus tells you about an elcor who was killing and hacking up people for their organs on the Citadel.
  • Piecemeal Funds Transfer: Encountered during the Citadel AI sidequest; when it threatens to self-destruct, the countdown timer is the progress of its account. The quicker you shut it down, the more money you get as a reward.
  • Plotline Death: On the planet Virmire, you're forced to choose between saving Ashley or Kaidan. Prepare to feel extremely guilty no matter what you choose. The game even piles it on if you were romancing one of them: either you sacrifice them, or you save them and they demand to know if your feelings for them had anything to do with it. Wrex may also die earlier in the mission.
  • Point of No Return: Going to Ilos.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Some of the ammo upgrades add chemical or even radioactive poisons to the bullets you fire.
  • Pretender Diss: The geth worship Sovereign as a god. Sovereign is not flattered.
  • Pretty Little Headshots:
    • Headshot animations were not included in this game, so during gameplay there was no differentiation between shooting somebody in the foot and shooting them in the head.
    • The mechanics of Saren's suicide shot are a little odd. When Sovereign animates his corpse, you can see the hole where one of your companions shot him a second time, but not the actual killing wound.
  • Production Throwback: At the end of the game, Shepard comes out of the wreckage holding his/her chest and limping, exactly as the PC character did in Knights of the Old Republic when it was injured.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: In a conversation with Kaidan, he'll mention that one of his colleagues at Jump Zero "reached for a glass of water instead of pulling it biotically. She just wanted a drink without getting a nosebleed, you know?".
  • Purposefully Overpowered: Master Spectre weapons and Colossus armor. They are for Insanity.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Ever wanted to get in touch with your feminine side? Equip Phoenix armor, and you too can slay demons while looking like Combat Action Barbie/Ken. Devlon armor in any variant tends to be very brightly colored, owing to its anti-environmental-hazard status, and Colossus, particularly on a female Shepard, is just... amusing. The "hidden" armors in the PC version take it Up to Eleven, complete with Power Crystals and even more outrageous color schemes.
  • Ramming Always Works: A Turian commander places his ship directly between Sovereign and the closing arms of the Citadel to stop the attack. Sovereign simply plows through him without even slowing down. Shortly thereafter, an Alliance dreadnought returns the favor and rams Sovereign... very slowly.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: A possible quip made by Ashley or Kaidan when Liara expresses confusion at the function of various computers in the Noveria labs.
  • Rescue Introduction: Ashley, Liara, Tali.
  • Rescue Romance: Every romantic option is introduced by a rescue. The game goes so far as to switch up which characters are put in jeopardy depending on the gender of the player character to make sure that that they include a start-of-story rescue.
  • Retronym: Though not an official one, the game is often referred to (as in the title of this page) as Mass Effect 1 to distinguish it from the franchise as a whole.
  • The Reveal: Two of them.
    • Reveal the first: Saren is not the true villain; his Cool Ship Sovereign is actually The Man Behind the Man, an Eldritch Abomination.
    • Reveal the second: the Conduit is actually a minature Mass Relay that connects to the Relay Statue on the Citadel. The Citadel is actually an enormous Mass Relay that connects to Reaper Central: Saren will invade the station and give the order for it to open. The Reapers purposely designed the Citadel so that galactic civilisations would establish their capital there. When the Reapers invade, they simultaneously kill the leadership of the galaxy, seize control of vital documents, destroy the majority of their fleet and take control of the Relay network.
  • Ribcage Ridge: Not a ribcage, but still, a skull that is fully a quarter the size of the Mako makes for an interesting landmark.
  • Roar Before Beating: Thresher Maws.
  • Romance Sidequest: Three of them: xenophobic but principled Ashley Williams, soft-spoken and thoughtful Carth Onasi Kaidan Alenko, and awkward but caring Liara T'Soni. The first two are strictly attracted to opposite gender Shepards only, while Liara can go either way.
  • Rousing Speech:
    • Shepard's speech after taking command of the Normandy.
    • Captain Kirrahe's epic "hold the line" speech.
    • Anderson's/Udina's speech at the end of the game.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Poor, poor Nihlus. Guy had quite a fanbase before the game even came out too.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • On one story mission, two separated party members come under heavy fire and you only have time to save one of them. You cannot Take a Third Option. There is no Deus Ex Machina. The one you don't help will die. And no one else will make the decision for you. Leadership sucks like that. Especially if you're romancing one of them, and left questioning whether you made the choice for the right reasons.
    • The most sadistic choice in Bring Down the Sky is not forced upon Shepard him/herself, but upon mild-mannered scientist Kate Bowman. Either she allows a fellow hostage to be shot in front of her, or she gives away Shepard's position and, with it, any hope of saving Terra Nova. She takes the first option. Turns out it was her brother who was executed.
    • Near the end of Bring Down the Sky, Shepard's decision to either save the hostages or let the hostages die to capture/kill terrorist leader Balak ripped a page out of the Jack Bauer playbook. Picking the smarter decision to pursue Balak doesn't make players feel any less guilty.
  • Sand Worm: Thresher Maws.
  • Schrödinger's Gun:
    • You can pick any background and profile for Shepard you want, from a distinguished war hero to a ruthless jerkass. No matter what kind of history you have, it will be exactly why Captain Anderson selects you personally in the opening cutscene to be his second in command.
    • No matter whether you kill the rachni queen or let her live, the turian councillor will blast you for it in terms appropriate to a hypothetical offspring of Sauron and Hitler.
  • Schrödinger's Question: In a few places, pieces of Shepard's past (religion, for example) are only decided when they come up in conversation and the player is given a choice.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The Codex and dialogue heavily stress the size of the universe, but in actual gameplay everything of interest on a planet can be found in an area that can be driven across in five minutes.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: One AI, when you trace it, announces that it knows you are going to kill it, refuses to listen to explanations, and activates a self-destruct countdown. If it had not done this, a Paragon Shepard might have let it live.
  • Shell Shocked Senior: General Septimus.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ashley's sisters will ship her and Shepard in a voice mail or - if Shepard tells Liara that he and Ashley are "just friends" beforehand - her and Kaiden. The latter she laughs about. The former depends on how you treat her.
  • Shout-Out: See Mass Effect/Shout Out.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal:
    • The terrorist just blew up the hostages and declares that it's Shepard's fault they died. What's one of Shepard's potential responses? Fire warning shots each time the terrorist opens his mouth until he finally gets the message after taking a few bullets.
    • "Who's the real terrorist here?" "You. But you're dead." *BANG*
    • If your Charm/Intimidate scores aren't high enough and/or you just plain don't feel like it, Shepard can interrupt Saren's villainous monologue right before the final showdown at any point by shout "I've done arguing with you! Let's end this!" and jumping immediately to the fight.
    • "She's pointing a gun at us and she's surrounded by geth! SHOOT HER!"
    • "We don't have time to deal with this idiot. CHARGE!"
  • Shut Up, Kirk: Shepard gets handed one by Executor Pallin while discussing humans on the Citadel:

Shepard: The Council treats us like second class citizens. We have to fight for everything we get,
Pallin: Good. Then fight for it. But don't expect the rest of us to just sit back and let you take it.

  • Sidequest Sidestory: the Cerberus quest line from Admiral Kahoku.
  • Simon Says Mini Game: Nearly every puzzle or action requires this on the 360, from hacking to mining to breaking and entering. Fortunately, the PC and second game made things a bit more sophisticated.[2]
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Noveria (and any other planet with a similar environment). You don't slide around so much, but you do take damage from the cold.
  • Sniper Pistol: At lower levels, not so much, but if you put points into the Pistol skill and you got better and better pistols, they wind up doing just as much damage as assault rifles, and their firing rate becomes almost ridiculous. Slap on some upgrades to improve accuracy, and bingo. About the only thing sniper rifles have on them at that point is higher base damage and the ability to zoom.
  • Sniper Scope Sway: The game features ridiculous amounts of Scope Swaying for any player who has not invested significant points into the Sniper Rifle skill. However, when the skill is maxed out (or when you activate Assassination), the rifle is steady as a rock.
  • Socketed Equipment: Upgrades are available for armor, grenades, two different kinds for weapons. The problem being with ten tiers of upgrade, and a dozen different effects for one category alone, and players would be swimming in upgrades with no real idea of which one was better or worse than what they had equipped right then. Like so many other things, the devs axed the feature as opposed to fixing it in the second game, going instead for permanent upgrades that affect all equipment the same.
  • So Long and Thanks For All the Gear: Averted at Virmire, where, if you kill Wrex and either Kaidan or Ashley, their gear is auto-unequipped and in your inventory when you get back to the Normandy.
  • Someone Has to Die: The oft-mentioned Virmire scenario.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: One sidequest revolves around a scared soon-to-be mother, worried about the safety of her child after the father died of a heart defect.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: Here and there.

Administrator Anoleis: "You! Shepard! I demand that you place this bitch under arrest!"
Shepard: "I've had enough of your snide insinuations!" *punch to the face*

  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Ten tiers. Four weapon types. More than a dozen manufacturers, each of which with multiple models of the same type of weapon. It rapidly gets confusing.
  • Sound-Only Death:
    • Nihlus' death. The cutscene ends with Saren pointing his gun at the back of his head, then as you regain control of Shepard you hear the distant shot.
    • One DLC has you find a mangled corpse, along with a recording of the explosion which killed them. A few other cases show up, though they are only described in the mission log, not heard.
  • Space Battle: The Codex gives a lot of information on the history, tactics and technology of battles in space. The climax of the game comes during a conflict between Sovereign and the Geth forces and the Council Fleet guarding the Citadel. The Systems Alliance comes in at the end to help finish off Sovereign.
  • Space Marine: Human Systems Alliance Marines: Genetherapy strengthened, light exoskeleton, shield generators and portable railgun ordinance. Everything a 22nd century warrior needs.
  • Space Police:
    • Citadel Security (C-Sec) is the law enforcement agency for the Citadel itself and the surrounding space. Their authority extends to the Mass Relay and they cover the criminal investigations, customs and military protection of the area. As of 2183 they are beginning to accept human applicants in sufficient numbers to no longer merit special treatment or protection, but none have yet reached the rank of 'Captain'.
    • The Spectres (Special Tactics and Reconnaissance) are an enforcement arm of the Citadel Council without direct supervision. They are granted extraterritoriality rights in all Council territory, including several systems which are technically outside the Citadel's authority, which essentially puts them "above the law". A Spectre's status can be revoked if it is determined that they are no longer acting in the best interest of the Council, but until then their actions (Regardless of damage to property or loss of life) are officially beyond reproach or recrimination.
  • Squad Controls: The Ring Menu allows you to order your teammates to hold back, follow on you, or press forward.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Adept (Full biotic) characters gets limited-to-no weapon training, forcing them to rely on Soldier and Engineer characters to kill the enemies once their biotics have disabled them.
  • Stock Puzzles/Stock Video Game Puzzles: Towers of Hanoi on Noveria, Three Plus Five Make Four on Feros.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Fai Dan. Regardless of your gameplay choices, he choses to die rather than attack you, even though one of the options given to to your character is to non-violently incapacitate him until he can be cured.
  • Take a Third Option: On Noveria, in order to get a garage pass to go to the labs, you have to go through a long series of conversations and sidequests in order to find evidence of Administrator Anoleis' corruption and then choose whether to give it to Anoleis, Parasini, or Qi'in. Or you can just give Opold's smuggled package to Anoleis and he'll give you a pass pretty much as soon as you get there.
  • Take That: In Bring Down the Sky, you can find a radio station where one of the logs states that people who have not listened to it are complaining about its subversive messages.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Up to and including Saren.
  • Tech Points: You can spend skill points on Persuade/Intimidate levels, but you have to unlock them with the Paragon and Renegade meters first.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Three separate occasions where you could just swear you killed everything in the room, and then on your way back out, it's full again. The first is in Fist's bar near the beginning of the game, when you have to rescue Tali. The second and third occur with lots and lots of rachni immediately after you have set a rather large number of explosives.
  • Thanatos Gambit: The plan of the Protheans who sabotaged the Keepers and the Citadel relay.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The a muzak version of the main theme is one of the songs that can play in the elevators.
  • Third Person Person: Talitha, the girl in the "I Remember Me" sidequest, also speaks like this as a coping mechanism to handle her traumatic experiences.
  • The Three Trials: Sure, you can explore the galaxy, but the plot is prepared to wait as long as it takes for you to visit Therum, Noveria and Feros. Oh, and check out that mysterious transmission from Virmire, would you?
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many, many characters, who all seem convinced that their group of badly armed, badly trained thugs will somehow prove more apt at killing you than the other dozen groups that have tried the exact same thing on a dozen different planets. Special mention must go to the ExoGeni research team that has been overrun by Thorian Creepers. They themselves note that they were unable to defeat the Creepers, and that your ability to drive them off saved their lives, but they still think they can beat you. You have just killed the creatures they could not kill, but with the right dialogue choices they still attack you. Wrex puts it best:

Wrex: Anyone who fights us is either stupid or on Saren's payroll. Killing the latter is business. Killing the former is a favor to the universe.

    • Subverted when Shepard encounters a pair of thugs while fighting through the club of a local crimeboss. The Renegade dialogue choice "I just killed fifteen guards to get in here. What do you think I'll do to you?" convinces them to leave.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Zhu's Hope is essentially the sci-fi version of this.
  • Troperiffic: The Mass Effect article had to be split into four main pages and over a dozen sub pages; one for the main series, this page, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. There are also relevant character pages, Crowning Moment pages, additional sub pages for tropes that became too numerous to include on a single page, and additional pages for the books.
  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked, when you're talking to a corpse that's being used as a People Puppet.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Pinnacle Station DLC has Shepard participating in simulations that are similar to FPS multiplayer modes.
  • Unobtainium: Element Zero, which explains everything considered "supernatural" by contemporary science.
  • Useless Useful Ammo: There's ammo that does extra damage to organics, and ammo that does extra damage to synthetics. However, there's also an ammo type that not only affects both organics and synthetics, but does more damage than either of the "specialized" ammo types and prevents regeneration... meaning, among other things, that when krogan go down, they stay down.
  • Vendor Trash: In the form of high-rank versions of the guns and armor you got at the start of the game. They're likely to be so horribly outclassed by new models that their only purpose is a cheap source of credits. For example, the Avenger I Assault Rifle, the weapon you start off with, is incapable of hitting anything less than five feet away from you.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Your party members. You don't actually get Renegade or Paragon points for how you act towards them, but their reactions to you tend to be so heart-wrenching when you're a giant Jerkass that it's hard to play as one. Thus making the problem of sacrificing one of them at Virmire all the more painful.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Saren's outpost on Noveria is located on a mountain called "Peak XV"... which was the name that British surveyors first referred to Mt. Everest by when westerners first discovered it in the 19th century.
  • The Voice: Admiral Hackett, Hannah Shepard.
  • "Wake-Up Call" Boss: Assuming you play the game in the developers' intended order, the Geth Armature on Therum. After several minutes of blasting Geth to shreds in the Mako followed by the still relatively easy task of killing them on foot, you come face-to-face with a gigantic machine that has tons of health and can easily kill you with a single hit. In fact, it's not uncommon for the Armature to kill Shepard as soon as the battle begins, which is a surefire sign that stronger shields and/or armor might be called for.
  • The War Has Just Begun: Shepard's endgame speech. Anderson or Udina also make one, depending on your decisions.
  • The War on Terror: An endgame side-plot has a pro-human protest group who shout "No blood for aliens!". This is of course a take of the "No blood for oil!" rallying cry for anti-war American protesters.
  • Wham! Episode: Virmire is basically Planet Wham. Not only is the true identity of Saren's ship Sovereign revealed (specifically, as an Eldritch Abomination Man Behind the Man), but you find yourself forced to leave one of your crew members to their death, and possibly kill another yourself.
  • Wham! Line:

There is a realm of existence so far beyond your your own you cannot even imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. I... am Sovereign.

    • Also, this line from the conversation with Vigil on Ilos:

Vigil: The Citadel is the heart of your civilization and the seat of government. As it was with us, and as it has been with every civilization that came before us. But the Citadel is a trap. The station is actually an enormous mass relay - one that links to dark space, the empty void beyond the galaxy's horizon. When the Citadel relay is activated, the Reapers will pour through. And all you know... will be destroyed.

  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Multiple levels can have the final conflict resolved peacefully if you have enough Charm or Intimdate points, and you get the villain to surrender voluntarily. However, to get to this point, you often need to shoot your way through the initial guards, and afterwards you will still be congratulated on resolving the issue peacefully despite the guard bodycount.
  • Where It All Began: The final confrontation occurs in the Citadel Tower, also one of the first places the characters visited after the introductory mission.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Major Kyle. Apocalypse Now (and, thus, Heart of Darkness).
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him: In Bring Down the Sky, you can actually take out The Dragon with a sniper rifle instead of talking to him, since the game expects you to walk up and have a cutscene with him first.
  • World Building: Dialogue with other characters and the Codex (an Encyclopedia Exposita) can reveal information about the history, culture, society, religion, sexual mores, biology, government, family groupings, combat styles and economy of all the alien races of the universe, including some which are never even encountered in the game.
  • Worthy Opponent: Saren eventually comes to see Shepard as this. This speaks volumes for Shepard given how much Saren hates humans.
  • You Shall Not Pass: A turian general places his cruiser between Sovereign and the closing arms of the Citadel in order to stop the attack. Sovereign simply goes through his ship.
  • You Watch Too Much X: Dr. Chakwas admonishes Corporal Jenkins for confusing the Spectres with their fictional representations, specifically telling him that he has seen too much spy fiction.
  1. There is a sex scene between Shepard and a romantic option late in the game, which was drummed up as meaning this was a sex emulator. CNN talked to an author of a book on media influence, Cooper Lawrence, who proceeded to pick apart the moral values of the game despite admitting she had never played it and did not understand the game at all. In contrast a game reviewer was also interviewed and explained in detail what the game was about and that it was just a cutscene and did not actually "emulate" a sexual encounter (ie give you options on what to do during the act). The scene in question had some vague nudity but nothing explicit, and would very well fit into a PG-13 (or equivalent) movie, the game itself is rated M. The backlash against Cooper Lawrence was immense, with people spamming reviews of her book on Amazon.
  2. There are still a few Simon Says games, but most tasks are achieved with what amounts to Radial Frogger.