"Kalisah Bint Sinan Al-Jilani, Westerlund News."
Say those words to any Mass Effect fan, and they'll probably get a funny look on their face: A grin that's half-silly, half-guilty. "Oh, man. I punched the crap out of that journalist."
What started as a somewhat shocking, offhand bit of violence in Mass Effect reached meme status when it repeated itself in Mass Effect 2. (Back when I was running the blog Gamer Melodico, I made the video below, which shows my own Blade Shepard decking Al-Jilani twice. The jerk.)
I always thought that Mass Effect 2 didn't get enough credit for how funny it was. The first Mass Effect had moments of humour, sure, but there wasn't anything as funny as Blasto the Hanar Spectre or that bachelor party on Illium. BioWare games have always been funny, and Mass Effect 2 felt more in line with that tradition than its dry predecessor. (Mind you, there were other aspects of Mass Effect's atmosphere and vibe that I preferred to its sequel.)
That dry tone is exactly what made the journo-punch so bizarre in the first game. There was no warning that this was going to happen, since the game didn't have interrupt prompts — there was just the dialogue option "Time to shut you up!" For all I knew, that meant Shepard was just going to yell rudely at the journo and storm off. I didn't anticipate that he'd go all Björk on her arse.
But nope. Instead, he dropped her like a sack of potatoes. And yeah, OK — depending on whether your Shepard is of the lady or bro variety, this can be some loaded imagery. A huge, brawny space-badarse laying a right hook on the chin of a dainty female journo. But the first time it happened it was just so absurd and unexpected... one of gaming's true "WTF?" moments.
So this brings me to Mass Effect 3, which releases next week. I haven't played the game, so I don't have any insider knowledge here, but man do I hope that we get some quality closure on the saga of Kalisah, The Journalist Who Was Punched.
Sure, BioWare could just give aggressive Shepards a chance to take one last swing. But how much funnier would it be if finally, three games into the series, Al-Jilani got her revenge?
I hope that's what happens. She might be kind of an arsehole, but I'd say at this point, she deserves to give Shepard some payback.