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The gaming industry’s ongoing efforts to strip-mine the greatness of the past in order to produce the adequacies of the present continued apace this week, as BioWare released the first big teaser for its remaster of the genre-spanning Mass Effect trilogy of games, the sprawling sci-fi series that saw the developer move from traditional RPGs into the sort of action-based sci-fi gameplay that would eventually somehow convince it that Anthem was a good idea. Anticipation for the Mass Effect Trilogy: Legendary Edition, due out in May, is running high, spurred on by nostalgia, beautiful visuals, the welcome condensing of some 40 different DLCs across three different games into one convenient package, and of course the chance to finally get up in every single cranny of space hunk Garrus Vakarian’s weird rock face in HD when the two of you inevitably go to town on each other.
Now that the trailer is out, BioWare has been happily releasing a steady set of notes about improvements it’s making to the trilogy, which published its first game back in 2007, and is inarguably getting a little long in the tooth. One note from Legendary’s list of upcoming improvements caught the eye of veterans of the first game in the trilogy especially: News that the infamous Mako tank, one of the worst vehicles in the history of big-budget video gaming, would be getting a major control overhaul for its return. The Mako—a.k.a. the primary reason most initially optimistic re-plays of the first Mass Effect get written off with an unhappy, shaky shudder—was a large, ostensibly powerful battle tank that players of the original game were asked to drive around for quite a bit longer than you might expect. This happened both in mandatory missions, and during the planetary explorations that make up a shocking amount of the first game’s busywork, comprising many hours of trundling along impressively rendered, automotively shitty alien vistas in search of a wide series of vastly underwhelming rewards. Purportedly an all-terrain vehicle that was gifted with the ability to float over small obstacles, fans quickly found that the Mako got flipped over more often than a turtle trapped in a Voight-Kampff test, and had the jumping capability of a hungover Mario Brother with a leg cramp. More than a decade later, the tank, and its general inescapability, remain an endless source of frustration for anyone who wants to play through the first game in hopes of taking their version of heroic space marine Commander Shepherd through the entirety of the trilogy’s story. (It was, unsurprisingly, jettisoned almost literally in Mass Effect 2, up to and including characters making nearly as many snide comments about it as they do the first game’s interminable elevator rides.)
According to details being passed around about the remaster, though, the Mako is getting a welcome overhaul, with improved driving controls, and an updated physics system that will hopefully make it feel less like driving a dune buggy through the showroom at the speedbump factory. But while this is all good news, we’d like to take this opportunity to humbly propose a counter-argument to the idea that the Mako even can be fixed. Which is to say that, while these planned improvements certainly seem necessary, they also come off as wholly insufficient. Why, we ask, would you put all this time and energy into fixing a badly broken vehicle, when the option to simply switch over to a far superior and more comfortable ride is already readily available? And we speak here, of course, about the 2003 Honda Accord.
A noted refinement on the popular mid-price line of sedans, the 2003 Honda Accord offers many of the same conveniences that the Mako so readily promises: driving, seats, wheels, the whole package, car-wise, as it were. But where the Mako has become a watchword for shameful unreliability, the Accord—even when used, or dinged up on account of that time we reversed too hastily while forgetting that our mom’s SUV was parked behind it—remains a standard for both comfort and dependability in both this automotive world, and the ones out there among the stars. And isn’t that exactly what you want when you’re stranded on an alien planet, desperately trying to drive up a cliff because there’s eight fucking pieces of iron waiting for you to glumly mine out at the top?
Admittedly, we’ve never had the opportunity to test the 2003 Honda Accord in combat against a Dune-esque, highly phallic Thresher Maw—the apex predator of the Mass Effect universe’s menagerie of hostile wildlife—but our instinct is that the all-purpose vehicle would acquit itself well. While it lacks the Mako’s giant worm-killing turret, the ubiquity of Honda dealerships in the United States (and, presumably, in Future Space) means that any maintenance needs heralded by the Thresher Maw’s acidic spit should be pretty easy to address. And while the Accord’s killing power is, admittedly, somewhat diminished in comparison to the flying tank, it triumphs over the Mako both in number of cupholders, and in the presence of a pretty good CD player for when the crew is feeling a little burnt out on all those booming, inspirational Jack Wall synths.
And, sure: While the Honda’s totally sufficient suspension system probably wouldn’t hold up to jumping down giant mountains, or trying to trudge up a sheer rock cliff, there’s an easy fix to that, too: Replace those wild alien landscapes with some nice, flat surfaces—maybe a Wal-Mart parking lot, which would still be huge and sprawling, but a whole lot less of a pain in the ass to navigate, and far less of a time suck than Mass Effect 1 completion currently is.
Look: No one’s saying this change would be easy. At the very least, the Honda people would probably have to be consulted, out of politeness, if nothing else. But the Mass Effect games aren’t about taking the easy way out of problems, are they? No, they’re about the bold new beautiful future, one in which humanity leads the way into the far expanses of the imagination, charging into the darkness to leave a beacon for those who come after. And when you’re the vanguard (or sentinel, engineer, etc.) of a bold new generation of explorers breaking the bounds of conventional wisdom, don’t you deserve to ride in style?