Mass Effect 2 has a depressing start. You are Shepard, savior of the galaxy. You are on a mission to stop the Reapers. And then your ship gets blown up and everybody scrambles to flee.
The coolest part about the Normandy being blown up is getting to walk around in the destruction. It’s really creepy, especially the part where you get to walk around without the roof over your head. Also, kind of beautiful in a spooky “this has gone horribly wrong” sort of way.
Normally it’s the captain who is the last to leave ship. However, in this case, it is the pilot who refuses to leave. I have to admire a person this dedicated. But where does the dedication end and the stupidity begin? Come on, Joker, I know you love the ship, but you can’t save it, man!
In an awesome display of the Collectors’ might, they finish off the Normandy in a bad-ass explosion. Goodbye Normandy.
Goodbye Shepard. Yep, Shepard dies, too. I’d like to say I didn’t see that coming, but one of my friends spoiled it for me. Still, I rank this with the nastier ways to go. Floating in space, quickly running out of oxygen, no hope of rescue.
But a little thing like death isn’t enough to stop Shepard! Six billion credits later, he’s good as new. Yes, six billion. Jon Shepard is the six billion credit man.
Time to put those credits to good use, too. The next part is an introduction to the game’s mechanics, which are an improvement over the first game.
Some people say that the first game was more of an RPG, but the second game feels more like an action game. I don’t think that’s a good way of looking at it. They both feel like action games to me; just the second one has a better combat system and less equipment. Heck, in a way it is even more of an RPG than the first game. I can actually equip different armor sets.
I like Jacob. He’s affable, has a good power set, and it’s clear he is only part of Cerebus because they serve his own well-meaning end.s
A friend of mine complained about the shield system because enemies cannot be affected by most bionic powers until their shields are down. In practice, I never found this to be a problem. Shields are easily destroyed and most bionic powers are “I Win” buttons.
I really don’t like Miranda. And it goes beyond just bitching about the game designers objectifying women (she even lampshades this).
It’s that she complains so much about her life. It’s so~ hard being perfect. Okay, yes, I get that she has a creepy father and that she felt pressure from being gene tailored for perfection. But she makes it sound like a horrible life. Meanwhile, other people have real problems. Some people aren’t quite so pretty, healthy, or intelligent. So, I just don’t feel much sympathy for her when she complains about how difficult it is to be perfect. It’s like a person who complains about how $20,000,000 isn’t really that much when you account for expenses; yes, that might be so, but it doesn’t elicit the same level of sympathy from me as somebody who is working poor.
Here is the Blood Dragon Armor I got from having an installation of Dragon Age. Dragon Age, although made by the same company, and bearing some similarities to Mass Effect never impressed me. It felt just above average.
The Illusive Man, played by Michael Sheen, has chilling robotic eyes. I assumed they were just replacements for eyeballs he lost in a war, but I read that in some book they reveal he got them from Reaper ruins. I read about that after beating ME2, so it did not influence my decisions. Anyway, what cacan I say about this guy? Polite, but all -business. Has his vices. An alienist who hides his agenda behind a thin veil of “advancing the human cause”. But, also, Shepard’s employer in the fight against the Collectors. He claims his interest is onlyin preserving humans against these aliens, but there has to be more, right?
The mission summary screens are sometimes interesting to read. The reports are written as the Illusive Man’s thoughts, giving a little insight into his analysis of every mission.
EDI is the new Normandy’s on-board AI. Despite sounding like the female equivalent of HAL, she is not actually evil. It seems. She has a dry sense of humor and I just realized that she competes with Joker for comic relief.
Fiiiiithos… Luuuuuuusec! Shepard looks really creepy in this picture; it looks like his eyes are glowing blue. It’s even creepier when you realize it is ostensibly from EDI’s perspective.
My first stop on the galaxy train is Omega, where I can recruit Garrus, Zaeed, and Mordin. This is Zaeed. He has an ugly mug but he’s earned every wrinkle on it from over 20 years of kicking ass. Both he and Kasumi, the other DLC character, have the coolest loyalty missions, but there is little to the characters beyond that. They don’t even have real conversations in the Normandy. They just share tidbits. Zaeed’s are the better of the two: he has some interesting war stories. He is also fun in combat: I prefer characters with sniper rifles because they can take out enemies without closing.
The hub of information in Omega is Club Afterlife. The coolest part is the entrance, which features these digital flames.
Aria runs Omega, and has for hundreds of years. She is one of my favorite NPCs because she radiates passive menace. Crossing Aria will get you killed. The only thing I can’t figure out: why doesn’t she sit in the VIP club? Maybe she likes leaving herself open to everybody.
I’m a bit embarrassed that I did not draw the conclusion that Archangel was Garrus. I just assumed that Archangel was the guy’s name. But the really funny part? I accidentally killed him the first time I did the event. The game hit some kind of scripting error and the door to his room wouldn’t open. So, I thought, well, hey, he has a health bar; maybe I’m supposed to shoot him. So, I did, and he died, and, game over. Next time, the scripting error was thankfully gone.
Anyway, what ensues is a moderately interesting fight where you hold position with Garrus against the hordes of three mercenary groups. They even send in a heavy mech and a gunship. The battle is won, but not without one casualty.
Garrus takes battle damage. He comes out looking a mite bit uglier. I’m not sure why the game designers did this. Maybe they just did it for fun.
I am amused that he keeps the same battle-damaged armor. Probably a mark of honor to him; proof of what he survived.
If you buy Doctor Chakwas a bottle of liquor at Afterlife, you get to learn more about her. It’s a casual, relaxed scene.
Some Salarians speak a little quickly. Mordin speaks extremely quickly. He even omits certain words. At first, this bothered me, but I got accustomed to his weird speech patterns. I even became fond of him as I learned more of his past and how guilt-ridden he is by some tough decisions he has made.
One of the DLCs lets Shepard revisit the crash site of the original Normandy. I didn’t really care for it, but maybe that is because I just played through the first game. I guess the DLC is meant to play off nostalgia.
By the way, the memorial looks lame; gaudy.
I don’t like Grunt. I get that he is struggling with being perfection (don’t we already deal with that enough with Miranda?), compounded by ignorance and constraints, but… I just do not really care for him. I would much rather have this guy in my party.
Zaeed’s loyalty mission starts out pretty well. Meet his enemy.
Set his enemy on fire.
Unfortunately, his enemy gets away somehow and the player must choose between pursuing the guy or continuing the original mission. I went with continuing the original mission. Sure, Zaeed had other plans but letting vengeance get in the way of a mission is bad protocol.
Unfortunately, this means that his enemy gets away.
More unfortunately, this really pisses off Zaeed.
Fortunately, a convenient girder of doom cuts off that debate. Shepard saves Zaeed, tells him to stop worrying about revenge, and they get along better than ever.
Kasumi is one of my favorite combat characters. Mainly for her sneak attack. Outside of combat, I don’t care much for her voice and, well, she does not have much of interest to say.
The advertisements on the Citadel are very amusing. This one is for a burial robe as Shepard is recently deceased. My favorite, however, is the advertisement for the edited version of the all-Elcor production of Hamlet.
By the way, I gave my advertising to only one of the shops. I went with the medical aid one.
The Citadel has a fun drinking sequence where Shepard gets introduced to a variety of liquors from across the galaxy and ends up on the floor. Also, notice the last picture. Either Shepard is hallucinating or the game had a glitch. Wouldn’t it be more fun if it was the former? Inebriation doesn’t last very long anyway; the real fun is the sequence itself.
Remember Khalisah al-Jilani? The reporter from the first game? So, yeah, she’s back, and here to make more insulting reports. I wish I hadn’t already known how this goes, but, well… I’ve had enough of her disingenuous assertions. Shepard is in so much trouble next game. With her. Maybe. He’s a freakin’ Spectre; I’m sure he will survive.
The Council is useless. I remember sacrificing a lot of human lives to save them in the first game. Yet, in the second game, they still are not taking Shepard very seriously. They are completely ignoring the Reaper threat, even after Sovereign had attacked the Citadel, instead calling it a Geth ship and saying they could not find any special parts. Just, wow, very frustrating. I had hoped that my choice in the first game would have mattered, made them more amenable to reason, but I guess I could have just done nothing to save them and the result would have been the same.
Jack is a sympathetic figure once you get to know her. Despite the picture to the contrary. Raised in a horrifying institution for biotic kids, she never had anything resembling a normal life. That explains why she is so unapproachable. At first, I thought her personality was interesting. But… eh, something started grating on me. Maybe I just don’t like going down into the creeper red boiler room.
When fighting the Collectors, Harbinger (a reaper) will sometimes “assume direct control” of a unit. This is followed by really creepy monologues like “You feel this, Shepard”.
The Rachni don’t do anything spectacular in ME2. However, there is this awesome scene I didn’t expect where an asari lets herself be possessed by the rachni queen to communicate a message, promising aid in the third game.
Oh, Conrad, what have you gotten yourself into? In the first game, a rabid fan named Conrad decides to follow in Shepard’s footsteps. If you are like me, you tried talking him out of it, and even succeeded. However, it seems he had a change of heart by the start of the second game. Actually, the game just has a glitch, so if you chose the paragon path, it did not recognize it. If you picked the renegade path, you have a slightly forced sequence where you have to cover Conrad’s ass and get him to give up pretending to be a soldier.
Now this is just weird. In the first game, you save an Asari from the Thorian. It had been producing green clones of her, but when she was rescued, she was a normal blue. Now she is green again, apparently some sickness from contact with the Thorian. It just feels a little forced.
There are a lot of cool party members in ME2, but Thane might be my favorite. He’s cool and his race is cool. The drell are like nothing I have ever seen before: their bodies and their minds/souls are not quite connected with each other. They are distinctly religious without it consuming their identity. They have a modestly interesting past and an interesting conflict for their current culture. Thane is an awesome assassin, graceful, and polite. He has a quiet dignity about his impending death and he is an excellent combatant. I take him on most of my missions.