Shame

Decide

I see the little white Paragon symbol pop up in the corner during our conversation and I hit it. I’m trying to be the good guy here. My Shepard spouts some platitude, or helps someone, or some such goodie two-shoes thing. I can’t remember exactly what she did. I do remember my blue Paragon meter going up.

Not that the Renegade options aren’t tempting. Sometimes, they even seem more right than the Paragon choices. But I choose Paragon — every time. The game never really convinces me that Paragon was truly the right choice, but I choose it anyway. Because if I didn’t, the game would lump me in with the likes of the Cerberus or the scum on Omega. It would file me away with a big red stamp on my character’s life: “Known Bad Person.”

This is shame.

Mass Effect spoilers below the break.

My Shepard, the character, is driven to do good because she is a good person. When the genophage ravages an entire species in slow-motion genocide, she recoils in horror. She takes every opportunity to find a cure, to help the Krogan, to do anything to alleviate the suffering. Even though the Krogan rebuff her at every turn, screaming vengeance and calling for blood with every breath.

Personally, I kind of think the Krogan are dicks. But the game doesn’t really want my opinion. Once I had decided that my Shepard is a Paragon, my hands were tied. Each important choice I have about the Krogan, the consequences are clearly spelled out in blue and red. If I think the Krogan are dangerous, I should keep it to myself if I know what’s good for my Paragon meter.

I am never really comfortable with the Renegade options, though. Even if those options sometimes make sense to me, I look over and see the Illusive Man. Is that where this leads me? I bet his Renegade meter is through the roof — all his conversation options crimson red. According to Mass Effect, this is where Renegades end up. Staring at the sun with mechanical eyes.

Is that really how Illusive Man ended up in that office, though? Occasionally I am left without Shepard’s blue, glowing moral compass. There’s no convenient text color to let me know “Paragon! Renegade!” The choices are literally a shade of grey. In those options, I have plenty of room to end up with dodgy moral character and a smoking habit. I also have just as many chances to do good. In those instances, I no longer have to answer to the Paragon meter or the Illusive Man’s glare. When there are no points at stake, I'm set free. There are no constraints on my judgement, my moral character is the only guide left.

While assaulting Reapers on Tuchanka, I am given secret information from the Salarian council member. I could sabotage the cure, ensure the Krogan’s help in the fight while simultaneously dooming them to the perpetual horror of the genophage. Every time I have an opportunity to come clean, there is no Paragon option. Is it "Paragon" to tell them, to come clean? I have no idea. The game doesn’t give me such an easy excuse.

Which somehow makes it worse. When my Shepard’s reputation is no longer at stake, the choice is on me. I can’t hide behind the Paragon/Renegade meter anymore, I have no excuse. Without those binary red and blue markers, I have to navigate the moral fog myself.

The Geth became self-aware and gained true freedom, but I am unable to persuade the Quarians to back down. They get annihilated. I doomed a race to extinction because I felt their creations were more deserving of life. No glowing white sign of approval from the universe, no points awarded. No red sign of condemnation, either. Somewhere in my moral journey I've stumbled over a cliff. I made a wrong turn, and now Tali’s face mask is lying in the dirt beside her corpse.

Is the game punishing me for a bad decision earlier in the road? If it is, it doesn’t try to explain it to me. I was never told which specific choice I made that could’ve possibly led to genocide. How many Renegade points could that be, anyway? Does the meter go that high? There is no record of my crimes. I just watch, helpless, as good people get destroyed for bad decisions.

How do I know they were good people? I never got to see their Paragon meter.

It’s in the grey choices that I’m forced to ask myself if something is right or wrong. That’s when Mass Effect shines. Not because it asks, but because there is no answer. I decide; the universe goes on.

This is guilt.

Comments

Excellent. Lots of people have campaigned over the years for harder moral choices, but I think that it's when the game refuses to telegraph judgment that the choices gain real weight.

pyroman wrote:

Is the game punishing me for a bad decision earlier in the road? If it is, it doesn’t try to explain it to me. I was never told which specific choice I made that could’ve possibly led to genocide.

Yep. If you had taken the time to save that one general on a side mission, he could have helped broker peace.

This actually sort of ties into something I've been planning to indulge in on my own blog, and that's the fact that you CAN game the system. The Paragon and Renegade meters are the most obvious way they show it, but there are other aspects of the game that can allow you to have a happy ending, so to speak.

For me, it was the mission involving the Rachni Queen and Grunt. For a brief moment I thought a Paragon choice had led me to a consequence, that the Rachni was taken over. For a brief moment I thought I had two options: sacrifice Grunt or sacrifice the Rachni Queen. One dooms a close friend, the other dooms an entire species.

But that's not how it turned out at all. Because I had completed the loyalty mission for Grunt in Mass Effect 2, he'd now survive even if I choose to save the Rachni Queen. All that I "lose" are a few red-shirt Krogan who mean nothing to me. It just pisses Grunt off when I choose the Queen over him and his men.

This is not like having to choose between Ashley and Kaidan, the one choice that, up to this point, had any visible effect on the series (and that's basically which character fulfills which roles at what point in 2 and 3). This is something that you could game. It was metrics now. Make certain choices, and you can get the Rachni to be added to your military strength while having Grunt and Krogan support still. It's no longer about thematic elements, it is purely based on gameplay, numbers and statistics.

I like the option of two choices, both with consequences I cannot escape. I even like the idea that good actions will yield bad results. But it feels like Bioware was afraid to make people angry.

Hell, I'll be honest, I'm surprised so many people got the above result, with the Quarians wiped out by the Geth (or possibly vice versa, I imagine). The only conscious decision I made that I can see making any real difference was saving the one Admiral instead of his civilians and choosing a Paragon option in dialog. Then everyone survived, happy day, and the Quarians and Geth decided they'd coexist and help each other out.

Which, thematically, feels like an appropriate resolution for the game, but that's a whole other topic.

This is part of why I preferred Dragon Age. You could have five or six dialog options that were just different enough that I could keep a consistent feeling character. I can't even remember what the good/evil alignment meter was called then.

In some ways I'd say I also approve of Alpha Protocol, but that's another system you can easily game. Once you figure out how each NPC works, you can just pick whatever personality type fits them and BAM! you win everything.

I think it's wrong in the first place to characterize the Renegade choices as Evil or bad. Renegade Shepard isn't bad. He's a jerk and pretty schizophrenic. I don't mean that in a "He's a random loose cannon," sort of way. I mean that in a "There is no way this guy isn't clinically insane," sort of way, not because he's amoral, but because his actions are inconsistent and without sense.

One day he's a rebel fighting against authorities for the common good, the next day he guns down random folks just because he feels like it, all common good apparently forgotten. Then he turns around and consecrates and weeps over the people he killed. Totally whacked.

ME makes the most sense and is the most enjoyable when you just ignore what the color bar says most of the time, and just pick the choice that's consistent with who your Shepard is as a person. Notably, Renegade Shepard doesn't turn into the Illusive Man. Paragon Shepard does.

One of these days, I need to go back to ME3 and finish it. All the noise happening on the internet after its release slowly killed my desire to play it (I think I was about halfway done, maybe two-thirds), so I moved to other games and haven't been back.

That said, I did make it far enough to experience the tough choices mentioned in the article, and I agree that it's where ME3 is at its best.

LarryC wrote:

One day he's a rebel fighting against authorities for the common good, the next day he guns down random folks just because he feels like it, all common good apparently forgotten. Then he turns around and consecrates and weeps over the people he killed. Totally whacked.

This actually does remind me, I think it was the Turian/Krogan bomb mission where I chose a Renegade option and Shepard said "You guys were right not to trust the Krogan! I'd have done the same thing!" Then afterwards, when the Primarch's son kills himself to stop the bomb, the Renegade option results in "You f*cking asked for it for planting a bomb like an asshole!"

Incredibly inconsistent.

ccesarano:

It is possible to play a mostly Renegade Shepard who isn't insane - you just need to take Paragon choices every once in a while. In fact, that Renegade option in that part of ME3 is more consistent with a mostly Paragon Shepard. This suggests to me that the game was meant to be played flipflopping between the two "moral" choices. I say "moral," because they're really character choices, not moral choices. Shepard's essential moral choices are never left to the player.

For instance, you can't choose to side with Sovereign.

wordsmythe wrote:

Excellent. Lots of people have campaigned over the years for harder moral choices, but I think that it's when the game refuses to telegraph judgment that the choices gain real weight.

It's still telegraphed, though. Just because there are no colors, the top grey option is your paragon choice, the bottom your renegade, and maybe a middle. I pretty much played on autopilot and went with the middle when it was there, top when it wasn't. 2 previous Mass Effect games taught me this so in the third one, I was like, "Get on with it." This is how I made peace between the Geth and Quarrians with little thought. And I got a ton of paragon points for it afterwards.

Also, since playing the second ME, I'd played The Witcher. If choice in ME seemed binary and boring before, The Witcher just made it moreso.

Nice article. Yes, in ME3 the paragon and renegade choices where a lot more visible, and when red and blue where in play it was usually "kick him in the nuts or save his life". Tuchanka and the Quarian homeworld are the shining example of incorporating old decisions and creating believable consequences of our actions. The whole game should have been like that, but apparently 80% of Bioware was sleeping at the helm.

The end is still red, green or blue, though. And it will keep on being so after Bioware's half assed summer attempt to pacify us.

I thought Catherine handled this well.

The choices you make are judged on a meter with red (Chaos) on one side and blue (Law) on the other. However, the choices you make aren't explicitly marked (or implicitly, as McChuck notes about the placement of the choices in Mass Effect), and you don't always know in which direction (or how far in which direction) your choice will move the needle until after you've made it.

There are times where you can tell which choice is the law choice and which choice is the chaos choice, but the more ambiguous choices are frequently the ones that move the meter the furthest. And unlike Mass Effect and many others where it's clear that one alignment is the "good" alignment and one is the "bad" alignment, Catherine's alignments are less judgmental. You could make a case for either side (or neither side) as the "right" choice for the lead character, Vincent.

Isn't the grey option where you're not told whether it's "good" or "bad" the better way for a game, with the idea of a game being player participation?

Isn't it most certainly better to show, not tell. With a game the writer has ability to give consequences to your actions, and the player has to decide for themselves if it's good or bad, according to how it fits their goals and placing or removing obstacles in the way to their objectives, but also from a role-play perspective it gives more opportunity for the player to become part of the character. Not just based on some abstract number in your character sheet or behind the scenes, but your choices within the game world.

That's not to say simply told stories are bad, they're not, but it seems the transparent good/bad choice is a compromise between two ends of the spectrum that produces a good few bad effects. The global telepathic network that all NPCs share to know your karma has always seemed damn odd to me.

I did have a long post written out with examples , but it got a bit wrapped up in itself and weird. KOTOR2, The Witcher1/2, Alpha Protocol, and to a certain extent the Fallout games seem to go interesting places.

Personally, I kind of think the Krogan are dicks. But the game doesn’t really want my opinion. Once I had decided that my Shepard is a Paragon, my hands were tied. Each important choice I have about the Krogan, the consequences are clearly spelled out in blue and red. If I think the Krogan are dangerous, I should keep it to myself if I know what’s good for my Paragon meter.

I confess that I don't really grok this part. "I made a choice to deny myself choice." Your hands weren't tied though, every time the options came up, you chose to stick with your Paragon only path.

I played an unrepentant Renegade FemShep in ME1 and ME2, but that doesn't mean I never picked a Paragon choice! I played FemShep as a person, not a color, and just because she punched reporters and spat at the council doesn't mean she was a complete sociopath. The game never punished me for picking Paragon or (gasp) sometimes picking the neutral color.

I speak only for ME1 and ME2 though, as I haven't played ME3 yet.

Scratched:

It goes weird places when you game it that way. I feel that ME is a weaker series when you prethink "Paragon" to be "good" and "Renegade" to be "evil." Certainly, Bioware's marketed the choices as such as an easy selling point to be "morally relevant," but by and large, the choices are not really morally opposite. There's a case to be made both for killing the last remnant of a species or otherwise, especially if that species is still technically an enemy of the Council (with Shepard being a Council Spectre, no less).

I also didn't think that the characters Shepard encounters are telepathic or have an information network. It's plausible, especially in entertainment, for a character to literally wear the effects of his choices on his face, as a subtle clue to who he is. We have absolutely no doubt within seconds of seeing Vader that he's not a particularly nice guy, however his allegiances lie.

I think that autopiloting Shepard through the choices, not thinking about a particular character for him or her, makes ME3's RP aspect significantly weaker. A Shepard played like Quintin did, with a mix of Paragon and Renegade choices, is not only more believable as a character and more interesting; the experience itself is made stronger because you are more invested in each choice, as you had to think about each one.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

I confess that I don't really grok this part. "I made a choice to deny myself choice." Your hands weren't tied though, every time the options came up, you chose to stick with your Paragon only path.

I played an unrepentant Renegade FemShep in ME1 and ME2, but that doesn't mean I never picked a Paragon choice! I played FemShep as a person, not a color, and just because she punched reporters and spat at the council doesn't mean she was a complete sociopath. The game never punished me for picking Paragon or (gasp) sometimes picking the neutral color.

I speak only for ME1 and ME2 though, as I haven't played ME3 yet.

I want to Werd Up this. Playing all one side isn't playing a character, it's playing a system.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I thought Catherine handled this well.

The choices you make are judged on a meter with red (Chaos) on one side and blue (Law) on the other. However, the choices you make aren't explicitly marked (or implicitly, as McChuck notes about the placement of the choices in Mass Effect), and you don't always know in which direction (or how far in which direction) your choice will move the needle until after you've made it.

There are times where you can tell which choice is the law choice and which choice is the chaos choice, but the more ambiguous choices are frequently the ones that move the meter the furthest. And unlike Mass Effect and many others where it's clear that one alignment is the "good" alignment and one is the "bad" alignment, Catherine's alignments are less judgmental. You could make a case for either side (or neither side) as the "right" choice for the lead character, Vincent.

How dare you bring Japanese console games into this discussion?

In all seriousness, I think the best part of Catherine's system were the moments that the Chaos/Law bar popped up and it was completely unexpected. As in "holy crap, did I just choose something? Wait, what'd I choose?" It was a bit distracting on occasion, but for the most part I think was implemented really well.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

I confess that I don't really grok this part. "I made a choice to deny myself choice." Your hands weren't tied though, every time the options came up, you chose to stick with your Paragon only path.

I played an unrepentant Renegade FemShep in ME1 and ME2, but that doesn't mean I never picked a Paragon choice! I played FemShep as a person, not a color, and just because she punched reporters and spat at the council doesn't mean she was a complete sociopath. The game never punished me for picking Paragon or (gasp) sometimes picking the neutral color.

I speak only for ME1 and ME2 though, as I haven't played ME3 yet.

I want to Werd Up this. Playing all one side isn't playing a character, it's playing a system.

Yes, that's kind of the point. The system is obscuring the real character choices in the story.

But it doesn't do that at all. It seems to be the blind devotion to one side or the other that obscures real character choice. There's nothing in the game system telling you to pick one and only one path.

ccesarano wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I thought Catherine handled this well.

The choices you make are judged on a meter with red (Chaos) on one side and blue (Law) on the other. However, the choices you make aren't explicitly marked (or implicitly, as McChuck notes about the placement of the choices in Mass Effect), and you don't always know in which direction (or how far in which direction) your choice will move the needle until after you've made it.

There are times where you can tell which choice is the law choice and which choice is the chaos choice, but the more ambiguous choices are frequently the ones that move the meter the furthest. And unlike Mass Effect and many others where it's clear that one alignment is the "good" alignment and one is the "bad" alignment, Catherine's alignments are less judgmental. You could make a case for either side (or neither side) as the "right" choice for the lead character, Vincent.

How dare you bring Japanese console games into this discussion?

In all seriousness, I think the best part of Catherine's system were the moments that the Chaos/Law bar popped up and it was completely unexpected. As in "holy crap, did I just choose something? Wait, what'd I choose?" It was a bit distracting on occasion, but for the most part I think was implemented really well.

Another thing Catherine did well here was that there was no real indicator of "good" or "bad", and you don't find out what the scale means until way late in the game if at all. They're also much better at "mixing" the results. It felt a lot like D&D's alignment system (and when I say that I mean even before AD&D). The Law side isn't just "lawful good" -- there are quite a few "lawful evil" choices. The same goes for Chaos. And unlike all the other systems I've seen like this, the maybe-colored muddle in the middle had it's own good and bad points by the end.

The Superman vs Batman nature of the choices in Mass Effect were interesting, but I agree it was a lot easier to game. Not as bad as Fable or Epic Mickey, but what was?

PyromanFO wrote:

Yes, that's kind of the point. The system is obscuring the real character choices in the story.

Is it the presence of the system or your one-sided adherence to it?

momgamer wrote:

The Superman vs Batman nature of the choices in Mass Effect were interesting, but I agree it was a lot easier to game. Not as bad as Fable or Epic Mickey, but what was?

I can't imagine trying to play the first Fable as an evil person. I still remember I was trying to play grayscale and before I knew it there was a halo above my head and butterflies floating around my person.

...y'know, sometimes I wish there were more batsh*t crazy Molyneux ideas in games.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

But it doesn't do that at all. It seems to be the blind devotion to one side or the other that obscures real character choice. There's nothing in the game system telling you to pick one and only one path.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

Yes, that's kind of the point. The system is obscuring the real character choices in the story.

Is it the presence of the system or your one-sided adherence to it?

It's probably a combination. Personally speaking, my choice to reprogram the Geth was certainly influenced by the fact that it was a paragon option. It's like caring about Achievements in a game even though they have no substantial value.

But part of it is still linked to gameplay embedded from the first game. I remember when I first went through Mass Effect 1 and options were locked out because I didn't have enough paragon or renegade points. I imagine this was partially so people would replay the game a second time (so many of these choices were early in the game and seemingly impossible on a first playthrough), but it was always there in the back of my head as I played through the second and third games. I didn't want any choice to be locked out in the future, so it was in my best interests to max paragon.

Again, gaming the system.

That issue never came up in Dragon Age for either playthrough, my first or my second (well, except when it wasn't in-character to make certain choices except I wanted to unlock the achievement and/or see what was different the second time through).

I also had no problems in inFamous 1 or 2, but that's partly because the good/evil options in that were very clear and I tend to go Lawful Good anyway. inFamous is very cartoon good vs. evil (with the exception of a slight twist towards the end of the second).

ccesarano wrote:

But part of it is still linked to gameplay embedded from the first game. I remember when I first went through Mass Effect 1 and options were locked out because I didn't have enough paragon or renegade points. I imagine this was partially so people would replay the game a second time (so many of these choices were early in the game and seemingly impossible on a first playthrough), but it was always there in the back of my head as I played through the second and third games. I didn't want any choice to be locked out in the future, so it was in my best interests to max paragon.

Again, gaming the system.

That issue never came up in Dragon Age for either playthrough, my first or my second (well, except when it wasn't in-character to make certain choices except I wanted to unlock the achievement and/or see what was different the second time through).

Well they rejiggered the system in ME3 so that you got blanket "reputation" points, and were generally never locked out of P/R options. So as larry points out you can have this crazy-acting Shep that goes back and forth all over the spectrum.

But it also eliminates a lot of the full game replayability that the series had. Want to see a different scene? Just reload back to the last critical conversation and choose the opposite. You can even do this with the ending scene. You can see all 3 endings on one file. It doesn't matter whether you were P/R the whole game, you can do the opposite finish.

Probably why I've never finished my 2nd femShep Renegade run... and might never... Maybe the new ending DLC will entice me to play again... maybe...

Mr. Stone and Mr. House have the right of it, I feel. The only barrier to experiencing the entire series in the manner described is the player. While it's correctly pointed out that ME1 in particular did offer some incentive to minmax, those incentives were far reduced in 2 and all but eliminated in ME3. If role-playing is something you enjoy, the whole series is meant for you to play it that way, especially 2 and 3. The P/R system and the dialogue-wheel design McChuck mentions are there for the many many players who are not at all into RP and just want to 'see the movie' with a choice of two possible main character attitudes.

Stele:

But it also eliminates a lot of the full game replayability that the series had. Want to see a different scene? Just reload back to the last critical conversation and choose the opposite. You can even do this with the ending scene. You can see all 3 endings on one file. It doesn't matter whether you were P/R the whole game, you can do the opposite finish.

I've been thinking about this. On a lot of consideration, I don't think it's true. It may seem that way, but I think ME3 is pulling a DA2 on us. It looks like you can simply reload a choice and then go back after you've seen the opposite, especially if you're only going through it once and you're gaming the RP aspect or you're pulling in paradigms from other Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type games.

This is, however, untrue. Many of Shepard's lines and many of the lines your crewmates say have double meanings, and they only reveal alternative meanings when you're exclusively playing alternative choices (and have those choices foremost in mind). Moreover, there are scenes in ME3 that only play out when you choose a specific way at some point earlier in the game. They are logical consequences of the choice, but you'd have to play major segments of the game to come to decision ramifications from choices presented earlier.

For instance, Garrus will ask you about shooting Ashley/Kaidan at some point in the Normandy, somewhat past the Citadel invasion event. The context of this question and answer depends on whether or not you shot her/him and whether or not you shot Mordin, too. The lines are the same, but the meanings are different because Shepard is different.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

Yes, that's kind of the point. The system is obscuring the real character choices in the story.

Is it the presence of the system or your one-sided adherence to it?

Is the implication here that the Paragon/Renegade system somehow made the game less fun for me? I don't understand why there is this tendency to blame me for making the gameplay choices I did. It's a perfectly valid way to play the game, as are other approaches, this is just how I played it. I like to play the good guy and in Mass Effect I'm told by the game mechanics this is what good people do in this universe.

That's clearly part of the reason for the system. If you want to play a good guy, choose these things and your character will be good. And yeah, Bioware intentionally plays with these things too. Sometimes you're supposed to stop and ask yourself if it's okay, even though it's coded in blue.

This isn't a failing of Mass Effect, btw. This isn't about criticism or pointing out "flaws" in the system. This is not a review. This is trying to read the intent of the game. I am not laying down my experience and pointing fingers at Bioware, quite the opposite. I think it's a genius system, because it gives you their particular take on good and evil and then sometimes it doesn't. That was the more important and moving part to me.

Pyroman:

I think you'll have to play a mostly Renegade playthrough to get what's going on. It's not what I would call "evil." Shepard is a heroic good guy no matter how you choose. As momgamer says, it's the difference between Superman and Batman, not Superman and The Punisher.

As consistently written as Paragon Shepard is, there are still responses in a pure Paragon playthrough that don't make as much sense or don't have the same power as they would in a mostly Renegade playthrough. Opposite applies. Some Renegade choices are more narratively powerful in a mostly Paragon playthrough. Heck, many of them don't even make sense except in a mostly Paragon playthrough.

LarryC wrote:

Pyroman:

I think you'll have to play a mostly Renegade playthrough to get what's going on. It's not what I would call "evil." Shepard is a heroic good guy no matter how you choose. As momgamer says, it's the difference between Superman and Batman, not Superman and The Punisher.

I've seen Renegade playthroughs, I know what's going on there. In my opinion I think what she's doing in many of those instances is still evil.

Though I agree that largely the Renegade stuff is there to foil the Star Wars style morality you traditionally see in games. The evil you can do in Mass Effect isn't about shooting lightning from your hands and cackling. It's much more subtle.

Pyroman:

"Many," but not most. Punching a reporter in the face for trying to trap you into saying compromising things is rash and violent, but I can't say it's evil. Talking rudely to the Council? Nope. Talking rudely to the Quarian tribunal? Still nope. ME being mostly a talking/dating sim outside its combat aspect means that most of that "evil" is literally just talk.

You can play a mostly Renegade Shepard without actually doing anything even remotely compromising in any reasonable morality I can imagine.

EDIT:

Apart from slaughtering hundreds of people, I mean. But Paragon Shepard does that, too.

It's a mistake to equate paragon/renegade with good/evil though and I never felt the game was telling me that's how they matched up.

I completely agree that it's a valid way to play the game. You're right the game shines when you're faced with choices. That's why I played every paragon/renegade option as a choice. My FemShep pushed back against the Council's human oppression, but she wasn't racist. She felt humans were just as good as any alien and deserved equal rights.

PyromanFO wrote:

Is the implication here that the Paragon/Renegade system somehow made the game less fun for me? I don't understand why there is this tendency to blame me for making the gameplay choices I did.

With all due respect, your first seven paragraphs read like you were struggling against the Paragon/Renegade system, confined to choices you weren't happy about for the sake of an abstract statistic, and that your connection to the game blossomed when the game presented you with choices that ignored that system. If people are misunderstanding you, that's likely why.

ClockworkHouse:

My primary beef there is that Pyroman is playing the game as if the Paragon and Renegade choices were not, in themselves, gray. Yes, one is blue and one is red, and the developer and the system has this implication that the blue one is good and the red one is evil.

That said, having played through all of the games multiple times, I can't say that without caveats and exceptions. Paragon is often polite, well-meaning, and idealistic, but that also comes with its own moral grays. Renegade is rude, pessimistic, and cynical; but it's also portrayed in ME as being crudely effective, forthright, and true. Paragon will try to sugarcoat and sometimes outright lie about the situation to put a good face on it for the sake of diplomacy. Renegade won't.

The way to craft a character for Shepard is to choose what he'll lie about, sugarcoat, and prevaricate on, and what he'll just say right out in the bluntest manner possible.

I confess that the most powerful moment I had with Shepard, with any video game to date, is with Mordin on the Renegade arc. Not only were the moments more dramatic, it revealed aspects of Mordin's and Shepard's personalities that heretofore had not been revealed.

It is notable that the quick time interrupt to shoot Mordin in the back is played in slow-mo. You have a LOT of time to stew about that decision if you happened to be conflicted about it, which my Renegade Shepard was. At the same time, that time was finite, so you still felt a strong time pressure - you can't put the decision off or stroll about as the trigger is painted over Mordin's back. The conditioning you receive that interrupts are quick only adds to the tension of the scene.

This is the only interrupt I know of can last longer than some combat encounters.