William Johnson's Reviews > Mass Effect: Redemption

Mass Effect by Mac Walters
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Mar 24, 12

bookshelves: 2012, since-joining-goodreads
Read on March 23, 2012, read count: 1

The Mass Effect universe might be my all-time favorite universe. With the recent release of Mass Effect 3, in which I have spent 56 hours since March 6th living in every night, non-stop, I decided to bone up on the things I missed. Redemption is one of those things. . .and by reading it, I am backtracking a little since it is a prequel of sorts to Mass Effect 2.

No matter. . .since I've spent 255 hours total in Mass Effect 1, 2, and now 3 (10.9 days to be more precise) and have read three of the four novels (the other is owned but I am dreading it after hearing all the terrible reviews), it doesn't take much to remind me what exactly happened between 1 and 2.

Sadly, Redemption is one of the few experiences in this massive (sorry for the pun) universe that has let me down. I mean, Kaiden Alenko whines a bit but you can kill him off in the first game if you want. I'm not sure what that whole simulation base DLC was all about but that can be ignored. I really found Zaaed a frustrating DLC but, once again, a small gripe. And the Proto-Reaper at the end of ME2 was a bit much as was the slow motion sex scene in ME3. And Mass Effect: Retribution, the book, was a bit slow. All little let downs, yes, but not infringing on more then moments of my time and not directly impacting the story.

Redemption, now classified as a disappointment, sadly decides to make many things canon and effect the story-line, or, at the very least, my perception of it, forever. A good prequel or side story makes the 'real' or 'main' story stronger. Redemption decides to kind of make it less complex and more angsty. . .and shits on a character while doing it.

The story focuses on Liara T'Soni, the Asari Prothean expert who befriends Shepard (or possible mates with him/her) in the game. Liara, in ME1, is an intelligent, bookworm who is effective at fighting but it better in non-stress situations. Even if you like her in ME1, you can't help but snap at her constant wonder and amazement. Redemption takes this character, who will end up becoming a ruthless and effective universe changer in games to come, into a whiny, one dimensional screamer who kills anything in her way. No. Wrong. Not working.

It also provides some back-story for Liara by introducing her to a character she 'cares for' in the Mass Effect 2 DLC 'Lair of the Shadow Broker'. But since Liara spends the entire book hitting, kicking, or cussing at him, even threatening to kill him, I can't find myself ever really believing the whole 'I owe it to him' plot point ME2's DLC wants me to buy into.

Liara has never been my favorite character. My female Shepard, Dana, was, at best, friendly to her but mostly impatient. My male Shepard, Avery, romanced her in Mass Effect 3 but I regretted it immediately because she was so fucking boring as a girlfriend in the game! But, despite these gripes, I still LIKE her character progression and find myself 'attached' to her as I would any media based character be it TV, Video Game, Movie, etc. So Redemption's character assassination of her is sad and unwelcome.

Some of the side characters we'll see in more depth and care/hate for in later games, like Miranda Lawson and The Illusive Man, are wasted though the art is serviceable. Only Aria T'Loak, played expertly by Carrie Anne-Moss (oddly a terrible actress) in ME2 and briefly in ME3, is any good and she steals the show, as it were.

And not even the art, save the awesome cover designs, can make up for the poor story. The Collectors are pretty sweet and the artists have captured the architecture of the universe perfectly but Turians look like overblown, and barely pieced together, caricatures. The only Salarian goes against type and is a burly bad ass (and admittedly cool). The Krogan look pretty good while the Batarians look like those goofy over-sized pictorials you get done at the circus or a fair. The Volus weren't bad but humans and Asari, the most often seen species, were just blocky and dreadful.

Besides Aria's appearance, some well drawn Collector artwork, and a pretty funny moment between two Turian Shadow Broker guards, Redemption doesn't have much to offer. Hopefully the second volume graphic novel, Evolution, will be better. It depicts the creation of The Illusive Man. Hopefully his evolution, which was pitch perfect in the game, doesn't hit the same speed bump Liara's did in Redemption.
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