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The Sacrifice (part 2)

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"We're leaving for New York tonight," Benjamin said. "Pack whatever is absolutely necessary and burn everything else."

Isaac and Pamala looked at each questionably, confused at the sudden need to return back to the States.

"What's going on?" Isaac asked.

"New York wants us back as soon as possible," Benjamin replied flatly. "That's whats happening."

"Just like that?"

Benjamin stared at Isaac for a moment, eyes ready to accept a challenge at his authority. "Yes just like that."

"You've got to be kidding me!" Isaac exclaimed.

"Isaac," Pamala warned in a low voice, reaching out and grabbing his arm in an attempt to restrain him.

Isaac ignored her warning and shrugged her off. "We've been busting our ass up here for more than three years, feeding them all sorts of valuable intel and now, now that theyve got what, some information on a child, they want us to high tail it out of Columbia by tonight." Isaac advanced towards Benjamin and even though he was a good half a foot taller than him, Benjamin made no advance to back away, meeting Isaacs gaze evenly

"Those are the orders," Benjamin replied sternly.

"What's so important about that child that New York just wants us to abandon years of intelligence?"

"I'm not at liberty to disclose that information," Benjamin replied, his eyes tightening as Isaac drew closer.

"And what about Jessica over there. Shes dying."

"That's a secondary concern," Benjamin harshly replied.

"You son of a-"

"Isaac calm down," Pamala said, quickly getting between the two before things got any further out of hand. Pamala turned towards Benjamin but made sure to keep her body between Isaac and Benjamin. "How are we leaving?"

"There's a friend that works near the docks, sympathetic to our cause. He's got a zeppelin that he's ready to part with in exchange for a couple thousand silver eagles."

"Can we trust him?" Pamala asked.

Benjamin glared at her for a moment as if insulted that she needed to ask. "He's a friend of mine. Of course we can trust him."

"Of course!" Isaac chimed in mockingly. "Because the last time we trusted a friend of yours it nearly got me killed!"

"Isaac," Pamala scolded. "Is there any way she can come with us?" Pamala pleaded directly to Benjamin cutting him off before Benjamin could order.

Benjamins expression softened at the sound of Pamala. He was silent for a moment before sighing resignedly. "We can but well have to be quick."

Isaac didnt outwardly show his relief at the news. For one he wasnt even quite sure if she would survive the trip to New York in the first place. But given the limited options at the moment, he was willing to take anything.

"Start putting everything that isnt coded red, into the furnace," Benjamin ordered. "As soon as the others get back Ill brief them on the situation. I want to be at the docks at eight."

 

Nights in Columbia were a dull affair for the most part. Most people preferred the warmth and comfort of their homes to that of the cold air at the elevated height they were at. Even Isaac felt the wind biting into his jacket as he peered through the scope of his sniper rifle from his elevated position on a ledge.

The area was well isolated, the street that had been so recently full of life late in the afternoon lay all but deserted now. Occasionally, someone would step outside and Isaac would quickly turn his sights on them, finger hovering over the trigger in case it was someone coming to investigate their group. But that person only went about the daily lives, carrying out a mundane chore such as taking out the trash or visiting their next-door neighbor.

The full moon and the bright stars above, coupled with the street lamps that littered the area provided prefer illumination.  From his perched position on top of a ledge, if there was anyone sneaking up on their group he would see them as clear as day. However it also meant that they could also be seen clearly too.

The plan was a simple one. Wait by the ledge of the block they were at for the zeppelin to come and pick everyone up down below. Once everyone was on board, Isaac was to make his way down and the Zeppelin would pick him up as well. His job was to provide cover fire in case things got dicey. A situation he hoped that it wouldnt come to.

In the distance he could just make out the group of four individuals, two of which were carrying an unconscious Jessica between them.

Wait a minute, Isaac said softly. He observed the group through his scope again just to be sure of what he was seeing. He counted the number of people that were there in his head. One, two, three, four, five. There should have been six. Pamala was missing from the group. Isaac around in the surrounding area to see if he could see her.

"Hello Isaac," a voice said behind of him.

Isaac quickly turned around, surprised that someone had managed to get the jump on him so easily. Just as he had the person in his sights, his body froze, unable to move even an inch in any direction.

The sight that greeted Isaac though had left him speechless, his mouth opened wide, too lost for words. He blinked rapidly, in hopes that he was just imagining things but no matter how hard he tried the person that stood in-front of him wouldnt go away.

It was Pamala.

"It's called Vigor," she remarked, holding up her left hand that glowed an ominous shade of yellow. "I can freeze your body and render it useless."

"Why?" he finally managed to ask still in disbelief over the sight of her. He tried desperately to free his body but no matter how hard he tried, there wasnt an inch of him that budged.

"Why?" she repeated. "I'll tell you why. Because Father Comstock told me that my sins would be forgiven if I told him everything," she remarked, her arms stretched out as she spun in place, looking up at the sky above. "He promised me salvation if I told him about what you were planning."

"You're the one who tipped off those policemen back at the bar werent you?" Isaac demanded, his shock replaced by full blown rage now.

"Yes, and he said that the Lord notices my good deeds and that I would be truly blessed."

"How could you Pamala! Ive known you for three years!"

"Which is why Im here. You too can be saved if only you repent."

"What?" Isaac asked, genuinely confused. She sounded exactly like those religious fanatics who harp on endlessly about being saved and how Father Comstock was a true visionary. It wasnt so much what she said but how she said. How could he have not noticed this in her all this time? Was this something recent, or did she harbor those feelings for as long as he knew her. He always suspected that she didnt let out as much as she knew. But that tended to be the case with most of the people in this line of profession.

"Come with me Isaac. Come, let me take you to Father Comstock and you too can be saved."

"Comstock is a fraud Pamala! A fraud! That man is no more a prophet than I am!"

Pamala shock her head in denial. "No I've seen the truth Isaac. Father Comstock has shown me the light and the error of my ways and has promised me Salvation."

Isaac wished he was free so that he could slap her across the face. He couldn't believe what it was that he was hearing.

"Come with me Isaac," she pleaded again.

"And what of the others?" Isaac asked.

As if on cue, Isaac could here the sounds of gunshots ringing through the still night.

"It's too late for them," she replied, taking a couple steps towards him. "But it's not for you. For us." She closed the distance between them until she was no more than a couple of feet in front of him.

"Sorry but I dont believe in your false prophet," Isaac vehemently spat.

Pamala took a step back before sighing loudly, seeming genuinely disappointed with his response. She reached into her pocket and took an impressive looking dagger, with a blade that was more than a foot long.

"Father Comstock said that if you couldnt see reason that I should kill you instead," Pamala said in a voice that was full of regret.

She reached forward with her free hand to touch Isaacs face a gesture that Isaac found revolting, sending shivers down his spine. She took a couple steps forward before kissing him deeply across the lips before pulling back. "I'm sorry Isaac. I've always loved you."

She stabbed the knife into the side of his abdomen slowly, burying the full length of the blade in his insides before twisting it sharply. Isaac bit back a scream from the agony that he was in when the knife pierced his skin and she twisted the blade. She slowly removed the blade as if taking some sort of perverse pleasure in the act of slowly killing a man that she had once mouthed the words I love you to.

"Goodbye Isaac. And May God have mercy on you." With those final words she began to walk off, leaving Isaac completely immobile as he bled to death. Isaac felt his vision fading fast, the metallic taste of blood already filling his mouth.

Just when he was about to loose consciousness, he fell abruptly to the ground. Isaac could just make out Pamala, stretching forth her hand, apparently trying to call upon the Vigor that she had clearly ran out of. Isaac picked up his sniper rifle that lay at his feet and aimed it straight at her.

Pamala smiled. "You wouldnt shoot me Isaac."

The rifle was heavy in his hands, and the darkness was threatening to envelop him.  His quick shallow breaths coupled with his shaking hands prevented him from lining up a shot. Then the sounds of gunshots sounded in the air again and Isaac remembered that he had a job to do.

In one quick motion, he hoisted the rifle up, aimed squarely at Pamala, held his breath and fired.

The round took her straight in the heart, sending her flying motionless to the ground. Isaac took a bit of pleasure at the situation, the poetic justice that had just been dolled out by his hands.

But the sound of the distant battle in the area preventing him from relishing in it too much. With what little strength he had left, Isaac crawled towards the railing that he had just been at before Pamala interrupted him. He pulled himself up, screaming in pain at the effort that was required to do so.

It felt as though he was running a marathon, his breathing becoming shallower and shallower with each passing moment. He peered through the scope of his rifle, struggling at first to locate the area where the others were. When he had, the sight wasnt too promising. The only person left standing was Benjamin who had taken a shot to the shoulder, hiding behind cover with an unconscious Jessica behind of him. To the right Isaac could see the zeppelin approaching the area, some four hundred yards away by Isaacs estimate.

The policemen that were there, were slowly closing in for the kill, approaching Benjamins hiding spot slowly knowing full well that they had him cornered.

Isaac knew he needed to act quickly if there were going to have a chance at getting out alive He desperately tried to steady his aim but his shallow breaths prevented him from being able to line up a shot.

Isaac held his breath, aiming at the furthest man behind the group in hopes that the other four individuals who were there wouldnt notice it when their partner went down. He pulled the trigger, hitting the man squarely in his upper back, dropping him instantly.

Only four more remained. He repeated the process for the next target, the round hitting him in the side of his head.

Isaac grip on the rifle loosened, his eyes closed for a brief moment as he nearly slipped into oblivion. Come on, just a bit more he silently pleaded with his body.

He summoned what little strength was left in his body, aiming his sights down on his next victim, the policemen still unaware that there was an enemy sniper picking them off. Isaac pulled the trigger once more, the bullet finding its mark in the middle of the policemans back.

Without missing a beat he aimed at the next one and fired.

The bullet however only lodged itself in the mans thy, promptly alerting his partner that there was a sniper about. The remaining officers started shooting at Isaacs position, seeing more danger in the sniper than that of the wounded Benjamin.

Isaac pulled the trigger again but nothing came out of the barrel. Instead he was greeted by the dreaded sound of an empty chamber.

Thankfully Benjamin had taken the opportunity to come out from hiding and shoot the remaining guards, killing them with his machine gun rounds that tore through skin.

Isaacs relinquished his grip on the rifle, the weapon falling through the sky in into the clouds bellow. He was just able to make out the zeppelin docking near Benjamin and Jessica, two men coming out to help them onboard. Isaac smiled, thankful that his job was done.

 He slumped his back against the railing and looked off into the distance, noting that the statue of the angel on Monument Island was once again staring at him still casting its judgmental gaze on him.

Isaac glanced to his left, taking note of Pamalas unmoving body still unclear about her motives in betraying the group. It couldnt be just that she was seeking salvation. That she wanted to be forgiven for her sins.

For a brief moment Isaac wondered if there would be any salvation for his soul but then quickly pushed those thoughts away. He was well past the point of redemption and he knew it. Besides, he didnt believe in God.

A movement caught Isaacs eye to his life. He turned around and saw that the zeppelin was waiting for him, fifty yards or more from his current position. Through his fading vision, he could just make out Benjamin starting directly at him from the bridge of the flying machine. No words were spoken but Isaac knew what needed to be done. To pick him up, to carry him off to safety and rescue him would be wasting a valuable opportunity to get away.

Besides it was his time to go. Isaac could feel it.

Without waiting the zeppelin flew off, descending below the cloud cover. Isaac smiled weakly, thinking off all the people who had died today in an attempt to bring information back to New York.

"That girl better be worth it," he said weakly before closing his eyes, his last images being that of Jessica.

 

This is part 2 of my story for the Bioshock Infinite creative writing contest. Hope you've all enjoyed reading it.

 

The Sacrifice (part 1)

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Bioschock infinte writing cover

 

            Isaac glanced at Jessica, held between his arm as he traveled through the Columbia skyline via his sky hook. His arm burned from the weight of carrying her but he didnt dare let go of her. The floating city was more than ten thousand feet in the air. A drop from this height would be fatal.

            The buildings were all but a blur to Isaac, the speed at which he forced the sky hook to travel at not allowing him to focus on anything for more than a couple seconds. His only focus was on getting Jessica back to the hideout. He didnt know how bad the wound was, or where the bullet was lodged in but he neither had the means nor the knowledge to treat her and if she didnt receive medical treatment soon Isaac forced those thoughts away. Right now he just needed to focus on getting Jessica back to the apartment building. Hopefully Pamala would be able to do more.

            It took him another minute before he was able to reach the roof of the apartment building that served as the hideout for the spy group that he was a part of. Isaac came to a stop before dismounting from the skyline, the enigmatic leader of their group, Benjamin, patiently awaiting his arrival.

            "What happened," he asked, taking one quick glance at Jessica.

            Her clothes were stained with blood around the mid section and her breathing was very labored.

            "Shes been shot," Isaac stated, holding her in his arms. She needs help.

            Benjamin frowned as he examined her for a moment, carefully noting the wound in her abdomen. "Lets get her downstairs."

            As Isaac and Benjamin began lifting her up, Jessica screamed in agony from the pain she was in.  Isaacs heart sank at the sound but kept his focus. He couldnt afford to panic now.

They descended down some stairs and off the roof before coming into large room that served as the groups main meeting area. It was essentially a large living room with papers littered everywhere, a couple chairs and tables scattered all over with pictures and notes lined up on wall that provided valuable intel on some of Columbias most important people and places. Many a nights had been spent in this area, decoding notes and observing people through telescopes.

Out in the corner of the room was Pamala, a young woman who had been busy sorting through her own set of paper work when she noticed Isaac and Benjamin carrying a semi-conscience Jessica through the room.

            Isaac and Benjamin placed Jessica on one of the couches where Pamala quickly rushed towards them.

            Jessica moaned in pain, her eyes watering from the agony that she was no doubt in.

            "My God, what happened to her?" Pamala asked, her face creased with concern over the sight of Jessica.

            "Shes been shot," Isaac said.

            Pamala examined her for a moment, carefully noting the extent of her injuries.

            Jessica moaned in pain once more, rolling back and forth on the couch in her semi-conscious state.

            "Isaac," she weakly said, her hand reaching out towards nothing in particular.

            "Im here," Isaac said softly, holding her hand as he did so.

            A faint smile developed across her face at the gesture.

            "I'm not going to make it am I?" she asked.

            Isaac looked towards Pamala for help in answering that question but she merely looked away, unable to meet his gaze.

            He was silent for much longer than he wanted to before finally answering her. "You'll be fine. Pamalas going to fix you up right." He mouthed the words but there wasnt any conviction in them.

            There was a long uncomfortable silence that descended the room before she finally spoke again, her word dripped in remorse. "Thanks for getting me out of there."

            Isaac felt his body tear in two but said nothing feeling as though he didnt deserve the thanks that she was giving him. There was nothing that he could say though. All he could do was hold her hand as if somehow that made everything better.

            "I'll tend to her wounds," Pamala said, snapping him out from his own thoughts. You should get some rest.

            It took a long time before Isaac was able to finally answer, afraid that if he left Jessicas side, she might slip away. "Alright."

            Isaac went over to his desk in the corner of the room, took out a bottle of whiskey that he had been saving for well over three years from his desk, poured himself a few fingers of whiskey in a glass and downed the contents in one gulp.

            The taste was sharp and it burnt all the way down through his throat but Isaac found that it brought much needed focus to his mind that had been racing at a mile a minute in the last half hour. He poured himself another helpful serving and downed the contents with the same enthusiasm as the last. He looked outside the window, noting with disgust that the statue of the angel seemed to be looking straight at him.

            He always hated that damn statue.

            "Where are the others?" Benjamin came up and asked him from behind.

            "Dead," Isaac flatly replied, trying hard not too think about the incident that had lead to this moment. Trying hard not to think about how two of his friends had died not an hour ago.

            "Dead?" Benjamin repeated questioningly.

            "That's what I said didnt I," Isaac snapped.

            "Do you have it then?"

            "Let me ask you something. Why the hell were we ambushed just now?" Isaac shouted.

            "Calm down Isaac," Benjamin ordered.

            "Calm down!" Isaac threw his glass across the room, shattering against the hardened wall that housed the various pictures of important people in Columbia. "All you told us was that we were going to meet a contact of yours at the bar. Next thing I know, Ive got policemen barging in shooting at us with machine guns!"

            Benjamin didnt say anything but met Isaacs gaze evenly a tense moment passing between the two. Isaac didnt care much for Benjamin despite being the leader of their spy unit. Sent to the floating city of Columbia even longer than Isaac, Benjamin was somewhat of an enigma. In the three years that he had known him he had only managed to glen that he was in his mid thirties and liked his coffee black. He was strictly all about duty and was willing to do whatever necessary to achieve the goals that had been set forth.

            "Do you have the letter," Benjamin asked sternly.

            Isaac reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved a blood stained envelope that he had barely managed to retrieve back in the bar. Benjamin reached for it but Isaac pulled it away at the last moment.

           "I want to know whats on this," Isaac demanded.

            "My orders are clear Isaac. Ive-"

            "You know what screw your orders! Three years Ive been here gathering intel and Ive never had anyone so much as blink in my direction before. I want to know whats so important on this letter that the policemen decided to shoot first and ask questions later?"

            Benjamin folded his arms with Isaac clenching his fist in return. Isaac wanted the answers that Benjamin was clearly withholding from him. He wanted to know what it was that David and Gregory had died for back in the bar. Why Jessica lay on the couch dying as they spoke.

After a long tense moment, Benjamin finally relented. "Alright," he said. "A couple of days ago I received word from one of my local contacts. Said he had information on the songbird."

"Songbird?" Isaac repeated. He had heard that word before, three years ago during his pre mission brief before coming to Columbia. No one was quite sure what it was, where it came from or what its purpose. All the knew was that it was supposedly somewhere in Columbia. In the three years Isaac and spent here he never saw this so called songbird  "You mean that large flying mechanical creature people in this city talk about? he asked

"Yes. My contact said he saw it near Monument Island once and so he decided to investigate. Turns out, theres more to it than that, at least thats what that letter should say."

"And when were you going to tell us any of this," Isaac asked.

"It's a need to know basis. It wasnt necessary for anyone to know about the songbird as yet," Benjamin shot back. "Now hand over the letter Isaac."

Isaac hesitated for a moment before begrudgingly handing him the letter. He knew that Benjamin knew more than what he was letting on.

"Anything else I should know about in regards to me sacrificing my life out there?" Isaac asked as Benjamin opened the letter.

Benjamin stayed silent, instead studying the letter carefully, his eyes travelling the full length of the page. "My God," he swore silently.

"What is it?" Isaac asked.

Benjamin didnt answer him but read over the letter one more time, his eyes widening as he did so. Something had obviously surprised him that he read.

"It's the Lamb," he finally said.

"The Lamb? Wait you mean Elizabeth?"

"I need to get a message to New York," Benjamin said before heading in the opposite direction to his room, slamming the door behind of him.

Pamela made her way towards him, just as confused as he was at what had just transpired. "What was that all about? she asked.

"It's Elizabeth," Isaac said.

"Elizabeth. You mean the Elizabeth. Supposed daughter of Lady Comstock?"

"Must be." Isaac glanced over at Jessica, noting that her breathing had steadied since he had last been over to her side. He was silent for a while not sure how to broach the subject of Jessicas condition not sure if he wanted to know the answer. He had seen many wounds in his lifetime before. He knew a serious one when he saw it.

"She's stable, for now," Pamala remarked, probably guessing at the direction of his thoughts. "I've eased the pain some."

"Good," Isaac said wanly.

"However, she needs more help than I can administer. If we dont get her to a hospital..." Pamala let the sentence hang.

Isaac turned around, pressing his head against the glass that overlooked Columbia. "With half of the city out to find us, we wouldnt make it within a hundred yards of a hospital."

A long tense silence descended between the two. For a brief moment Isaac closed his eyes, recalling every detail that had transpired in the last forty-five minutes. The ambush that had gotten two of his closet friends killed. And all for a stupid letter that contained information on the long and fable child, Elizabeth.

"Isaac," Pamala called out.

Isaac jerked out of his mussing, turning around to face Pamala who had a look of concern on her face.

"What happened back there?" she asked.

Isaac snorted in contemp. "We got ambushed, thats what happened. They knew we were coming."

"But how?"

"I dont know. I didnt exactly have time to register the details, Isaac remarked a bit more bitterly than he would have liked.  I was too busy fighting for my life."

"And David and Gregory are...?"

"Yeah. Watched it myself. Gave their lives protecting me and Jessica while we tried to escape."

Pamala lowered her head, her eyes misting from the pain of losing comrades. Isaac hated to see her like this. She and Isaac had been lovers once. Back when they first arrived to Columbia. It didnt last but he always had a soft spot for Pamala and while he was now sleeping with Jessica, Pamala didnt give any outwardly hint of jealousy or anger.

Either that or she was remarkable good at hiding her feelings when she wanted to.

Isaac always thought that she let out a lot less than she knew.

"Where are the others? Isaac asked in an attempt to change the subject, just now realizing that they room was decidedly empty.  Besides, he could do well with a change of conversation.

"They're out scouting a location I believe, Pamala replied. Benjamin apparently got some new information on a factory somewhere. Said something about the Vox.

Isaac grunted. The Vox was the opposite side of the coin in Columbia. On one side there was The Founders, a group of people who believed that America and the white men were the ultimate source of good in the world and a beacon of light for all to follow. Led by the self proclaimed prophet, Father Comstock. To Isaac they were more like the ultimate source of evil in Columbia. The other side of the coin was the Vox and they were equally as bad if one actually looked at the message they were selling. They believed in Communism and all that crap. The two frequently came to blows and the body count in the wake of their frequent squabbles was staggering.

"Between them and The Founders I cant tell who is worst, Isaac said. This wretched city is far from the haven that it professes to be."

"You have to agree though, the Founders intentions are fair. They're method is just flawed."

"Fair? Whats fair about racism? Whats fair about stoning to death an inter-racial couple?"

Before Isaac could go on any further Benjamin emerged from his room and hurried over to the two.

 

This is for the bioshock infinte creative writing contest and is part 1 of my entry

The Mass Effect 4 problem

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When I heard that there was going to be a Mass Effect 4, I groaned inside (along with saying, "typical EA" but thats another story all together). Whats ultimately silly about all of this is the fact that BioWare runs the risk of putting a black stain on the remarkable great franchise that should have stayed a trilogy and not continue on into a saga. Heres a couple reasons why ME4 isnt going to be great. Whats it about? Theres three ways BioWare can go about ME4: Either itll be a prequel, a sequel, or it runs parallel to the previous Mass Effect entries and each one of them has a rather significant flaw. First lets deal with the prequel problem. A prequel has almost no tension in it because we know what happens in the end. The essence of conflict and subsequently plot for a story is that death must be stalking the characters involved in the conflict (this death can take on multiple forms but I wont get into that). Now, you can create an entire new cast of characters for the prequel (and you probably should) and put them knee deep in conflict. Usually that would be enough but the problem with the Mass Effect universe is the fact that the reapers are the ultimate threat and every story element in that universe must go towards defeating the reapers in someway. But we all know how the story ends. That right there eliminates about as much tension as you can possible create in a story and without tension, its not engaging. Anyone whos played Halo Reach would probably tell you that while the story was good, it felt somewhat lacking. Thats probably partly to the fact that we already knew how the story ends and we all knew that (SPOILER ALERT FOR HALO REACH) Noble Team would eventually die. A parallel story suffers from the same problem as well but might be a bit more engaging than a prequel. Still, much of the tension is lost because we once again know how the story ends. Also, if its a parallel story then the characters who we are playing must be very minor people that didnt really have much effect (no pun intended) on the overall plot, otherwise we would have heard of them during the first three games. A sequel eliminates the tension problem of conflict but brings with it whole host of problems. For one, how are you going to consolidate all those endings that are radically different from one another? I mean (SPOILER ALERT), one ending has all synthetics eradicated from the galaxy and I would think that has far reaching implications the world over. But lets ignore all of that and go even further into the sequel problem. This brings up a couple other issues that ultimately dooms the sequel. The characters Lets face it. What made Mass Effect great was the characters that were involved in the ultimate battle for the galaxy. We all loved the way each character was unique and how we grew to care for our characters as if they were real. My own personal experience was in waiting for ME3 and Bioware hinting that certain choices could potentially kill certain characters. Well I didnt care if the whole galaxy collapsed in onto itself so long as Garrus and Tali survived then it would be all right (Ash and Liara were pretty high on the list too). I can tell you that there are few games, books, movies that have made be care for characters the way Mass Effect has. That was the ultimate strength of Mass Effect. The people you meet and form bonds with and come to care about is why most of us played the ME trilogy. But if Mass Effect was all about the characters though it wouldnt be nearly as engaging as it was. There is one key adhesive that keeps everything together and that is The reapers As far as bag guys, or more correctly termed, antagonist go, the reapers are fairly freighting. Theyre about as bad as you can get, being able to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy and having done so for hundreds of millennia. That was the major selling point for the conflict of the Mass Effect universe and it was freighting. It was freighting because we didnt really know how the story was going to end. We were scared for our characters (even though we werent consciously aware of that fear) because of the terrible force that was ready to annihilate us at a moments notice. And that made us care even more for them. It was a necessary adhesive that carried the characters through three games that despite the tremendous odds against you, these characters that you met along the way stood by your side. Through thick and thin as they say. So while the characters of Mass Effect make the games 80% good, the reapers are the necessary 20% that makes everything fit together and carries the game through. This now brings up the ultimate problem with a sequel Whos the bad guy here? As I explained above, Mass Effect needs an antagonist to make ME4 work otherwise youre not going to care too much about the characters involved. However creating one is probably harder than you would think. Like I stated before, the reapers were as bad as you could possible get in my opinion. To have a race that erases all intelligent life in the galaxy is pretty far up there in terms of antagonist. What could possible be worst. A race of machines that destroys whole universes? Sure, you can do that BioWare but why is it that no one has ever heard of these fearsome machines until now? Youll be practically taking a dump on everyone whos played the ME games because its ultimately deceptive and consumers hate being taking advantage. Halo 4 skillfully got away with this with the whole forerunner thing that Ill give 343 studios props for. But thats the exception and not the rule and they were smart enough to use the forerunners who have been apart of the series since day one and has been forever mentioned in every subsequent halo games. And Halo went to quite some lengths to explain why the forerunners are actually an enemy of humanity. ME4 could be about lesser enemies but this ultimately makes it less engaging, less fraught with peril because it wont have the same tension level as the previous ME titles. In conclusion So ME4 can be the most technically sound game and would probably sell millions upon millions of copies. It can even score 9.5 on gamespot but Im sure that a lot of people would feel as though theres something lacking in the game. Will I be getting ME4? Thats a very good question. Ill have to wait and see and find out more about the game but Ive yet to buy any of ME3 dlc that continued the ME universe and I suspect that thats the case for a lot people. A precursor of whats to come? Only time will tell.