Title: Mass Vexations
Author: Herr Wozzeck
Media: Video Games
Topic: Mass Effect, with a dash of Heavy Rain, Dead Space, Dragon Age, and other assorted properties
URL: Mass Vexations 1, Mass Vexations 2, and Mass Vexations 3. Also, the TVTropes Page.
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck
Hey guys, it’s your friendly Neighborhood Herr Wozzeck here, and… well, we’re gonna do something a little bit different with these installments of snark that I’m gonna be writing over the next couple of weeks. Let’s call it a hindsight commentary.
See, y’all probably have seen that it’s Mass Vexations on the snark block today. Issue is, I have no desire to snark the entire thing. And that’s for one very simple reason: word count. The whole trilogy is just too damn long for me to sustain any kind of full-length line-by-line snark, and it would be a fool’s errand to try to do the whole thing.
‘Cause let’s be real: Mass Vexations is wordy. I mean real wordy. And let’s break that down for a second: Mass Vexations, if we look purely at the fanfiction.net word count function (which admittedly includes A/Ns in this, but one set of variables at a time), the word count comes to just under 188K words. The median average of most novels is about half that, at 99K words. That’s bad enough, but it gets worse, because then Mass Vexations 2 and Mass Vexations 3 both boast a word count that totals at about 607K and 603K words, respectively. For reference, that means that both MV2 and MV3 individually are longer than Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that the entire trilogy’s wordcount eclipses the entire Harry Potter series by about 300K words, and Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (which is the current Guinness World Record holder for the longest novel) by about 100K words.
You are crazy if you expect me to sit here snarking that entire mass of words line by line for any amount of time. I do not have that much time in the world to dedicate to such an insane project, and I say this as the guy who wrote the thing on the snarking block. Even a summary snark wouldn’t exactly work here.
But… well, let’s face it. It’s still a fairly problematic series in a lot of ways, and looking back… well, while I wouldn’t totally call it an old shame, there are a lot of things I would change about the series knowing what I’ve written now. So this time, I’m gonna go ahead and take the gloves off.
*takes gloves off*
Oh, it’s not because I’m about to go hard-core on myself: this is admittedly going to be a more serious affair than what you normally see at the Library, mostly because I think I’m going to go in deep with real critical self-analysis here, with more of a critic’s eye than a jokey-joke eye than usual. I’ll crack a joke or two here, but expect this to be more in the style of, say, a Lindsay Ellis video essay.
Also, I’m not really going to plan on tackling this thing in chronological order. I think, for me, discussing this particular previous work of mine is going to involve going at it and talking about the broader issues of narrative. We can nitpick individual typos and silly lines of dialogue all day long (and trust me, that’s in the cards, too), but for me, it makes more sense to talk about this from a standpoint of “here’s an aspect folks criticize/I think was a problem, let’s talk about it more”.
And if you’re wondering why I’m doing this? Eh, I felt it was time. I’ve been thinking a lot about these things for the past few years, across the time I’ve done FBA fiction and also these Library of the Damned snarks, some of which were written in conjunction with the writing of MV3. And… well, in the interest of full disclosure, I also discovered recently that there’s a line-by-line snark of the trilogy elsewhere on the world wide web that got started in September. While those of you who know one of my previous snarks know I normally wouldn’t mind that happening, in this case it’s written by someone who, in Hannity-esque fashion, failed to disclose that not only is he a former “friend” with whom I had a vicious falling-out, but that he made some contributions to the Mass Vexations universe that got excised (more on that later). Also, as best as I can tell given his past behavior regarding Mass Vexations and me as a person, he’s doing it to spite me.
You’re probably going to call this a product of bruised ego, and honestly, I can understand why you might think that given what I just disclosed. But here’s the thing: snarking things out of spite means that you lose a certain objectivity when you critique it, and doubly so when you fail to disclose your previous relationship with the fiction. Thus, I’m hoping that hearing some of these criticisms straight from the horse’s mouth proves to be an exercise in greater objectivity.
So yeah. Without any further ado, let’s get started!
Today’s chapter contains potential flamebait in the form of repeated invocation of Nazis. No actual Nazis ever appear, but flamebait nonetheless.
Hello hello all you patrons, and welcome back to the last chapter of the ‘fic formerly known as Velocius et Fortius.
Previously, we were treated to a whole bunch of goddamn filler as basically all of the ground team dicked around inside that one training facility on Earth’s Moon that has the crazy AI and all of the drones in it. Bad jokes were made, Tali killed a bunch of drones with one shot in a combat scene that may as well have had the Monty Python intermission theme playing over it, and Shepard’s biotic aura turned green for reasons that I’m a little bit afraid actually will be explained later on.
“And that gets us to Chapter 10.” Read the rest of this entry »
Hello hello all you patrons, and welcome back to the ‘fic formerly known as Velocius et Fortius!
Last time we saw the end of the unnaturally-extended Feros arc, although considering how little time was dedicated to actually dealing with the Thorian it’d really be better to refer to it as the everybody-be-amazed-by-the-uncontrollable-’berzerking’-Shepard-on-Feros arc. Eventually the rest of the crew did manage to sedate her and subsequently calm her down, although this involved a pointless cameo from Legion that fortunately nobody had to actually directly acknowledge.
Meanwhile on the Citadel, it was revealed that the batarian Nikita Chruscov and her Cerberus pals “interrogated” was part of some sort of vague biological terrorist plot to infect an unknown number of people related to the Council with ‘batarian plague’, which is apparently completely treatable without ill effects. Oh yeah, and also some random gang members are trying to team up with Nyreen Kandros to push those stupid ‘Dark Stars’ guys off of Omega and hopefully also do something about The Daughter Of Dracula and her weird psychopath kid.
Hello hello all you patrons, and welcome back to the ‘fic formerly known as Velocius et Fortius!
Previously, we witnessed 90-odd-percent of the Feros mission being resolved offscreen, which really when I think about it was probably the least painful option of those available. We did, however, learn that ExoGenii – oh, wait, sorry, “EXO-geni” – is still a human corporation (which brings back the many, many never-answered questions of how the krogohumans are able to operate a spacefaring society when all we see of them seems to be stuck in the Middle Ages at the absolute latest), and that Commander Shepard has ‘the berzerker gene’, which comes from the ‘Viking Clan’ and does… well, about what you’d expect, really, in making her go all smashy-smash crazy in response to poorly defined external stimuli.
“Why this is considered an asset in the era of autoturrets and close orbital support, I have no idea.”
Oh yeah, and Nikita Chruscov is still avoiding her actual job at the Human Embassy in order to run around and play spy with Miranda Lawson and Jacob Taylor, which last involved her torturing that random batarian schmuck they kidnapped for information about some sort of terrorist attack, because 24 was totally a documentary don’t ever say it wasn’t!!
Shepard also had a nice- if contrived- chat with her mother and defused some unnecessary angst, though, so there is that.
Hello hello all you patrons, and welcome back to the ‘fic formerly known as Velocius et Fortius.
Last time we got introduced to Miranda Lawson and Jacob Taylor on some sort of vague Cerberus business stopping a Batarian plot to blow up an embassy or whatever on the Citadel. This expanded to involve Nikita Chruscov as well, who apparently has some sort of Angsty Backstory with Shepard and that Sonia Dracgul lady and also some dead guy named Nikolai. Oh yeah, and Shepard also rescued Liara from Therum in extremely flashy yet boring fashion, had a pre-shipping conversation with Kaiden Alenko, and is now meeting up with her mother Hannah during a refueling stop with the frigate Kilimanjaro. Given that Shepard has both the gang and military-brat origin stories here, this looks to produce even more angst.
Also, in case you missed it on last week’s riff, ChaosSpartan actually responded to the review I left on the ‘fic and acknowledged its flaws and basically gave every indication of having matured a lot since this was published. So good on him.
Hello hello all you patrons, and welcome back to the ‘fic formerly known as Velocitus et Fortius.
Previously, a whole lot of Mass Effect 1 went down, and we got to sit through far too much of it with basically no changes- namely, Saren attacked Eden Prime and killed Nihlus while Shepard teamed up with Kaiden, Ashley, Garrus, Wrex, and probably Tali. On Omega, we were then introduced to Kai Leng, who in this reality is a young boy named Vladimir Leng and is the grandson of Vlad the Impaler (yes, really) and likes to torture krogan with knives in the middle of the street for funsies and is in deep with that silly humans-only ‘Dark Suns’ mercenary group.
Oh yeah, and also the Alliance recruits child soldiers, their Marine Corps outfits every one of its combat troops with random bladed weapons ranging from katanas to war-axes, Shepard is a direct descendant of Leif Eriksson (and the ‘fic expects us to Care for some reason), and humans in this world have the ability to engage some sort of berserker super-rage-mode in addition to their super-strength, super-longevity, and super-ESP.
And if you’re wondering just what any of this has to do with mammoths getting bigger, you are in very good company.
“I’m just wondering how any of this species managed to survive long enough to invent firearms.”
Hello hello all you patrons, and welcome back to the ‘fic that was at some point in the distant past known simply as Velocius et Fortius.
Previously, our good buddy the five-hundred-year-old female diplomat Nikita Chruscov of Russia Clan unloaded a whole lot of exposition we already read about in Chapter One to Councilor Tevos, including a conflict called ‘the Three Thousand Year War’ which has something-or-other to do with the abolition of slavery, something-else-or-other to do with that weird stoner religion everyone practices, and also somethinger-or-otherer to do with this ‘mercenary group’ called the Dark Stars and/or Dark Suns that has existed way back into history and has both Chruscov, Jane Shepard, and some other random ripoff Russian named Natasha Chekhov (yes, really) as high-ranking members.
The humans managed to get the batarians to leave the Citadel Council, which resulted in the batarians immediately raiding Elysium and the Council doing fuck-all to intervene on behalf of its most belligerent and annoying associate species (gosh, I wonder why?). This in turn gave Shepard the chance to run around and flare her biotics a bunch and cut batarians apart with dual katanas and chase somebody named Staysor Bgout onto a landing craft while Mordin Solus and some STG guys covertly observed. Oh yes, and Shepard came to Elysium to unwind after losing her squad on Akuze, which means ChaosSpartan575 is having the Sole Survivor and War Hero backgrounds happen to the same person back-to-back. And I’m sure he’s going to try to cram the Butcher of Torfan in there too.
Also, humans have ESP (they call it ‘battlesense’), and biotics have been around since the 14th century.
Oh yeah, and Balak is also around somewhere.
“Is it just me, or does all of that make, like, no sense at all?”