Reaping the Reapers

Thane might be ill, but he still kicks ass. One of the coolest fight scenes in the game series.

I don’t like Kai Leng. I guess that’s the point. However, he is borderline Mary Sue. He has a fancy name, wears all black, dresses like a ninja, fights with a sword, poses a lot, can use biotics too, and he is in a position of power. On the other hand, he can be defeated, he’s in his 30s (not, like 18 and somehow this good), and his exploits still fall short of being haxx. He really is just damned skilled. That said, I hate that he can make himself invincible in fights.

Thane dies. Heh, I always kind of hoped somehow he would survive. But no. It’s a somber, but peaceful, moment.

Is it just me or does Conrad look really old now?

This picture nearly makes me vomit. I hate everything about Banshees. They’re hideous. They teleport. They have massive amounts of health. They have an “I Win” button for melee. Hate, hate, hate.

All the stuff I did in Mass Effect 2 to affect the geth and the quarians? Meaningless, whee! The Geth all hook up with the Reapers no matter what. Boy, don’t I feel silly for mulling over what turned out to be an inconsequential series of decisions?

“I fight for the humans.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Commander Shepard is, in fact, Tron.

Learning the truth about the Geth’s origins was interesting. It wasn’t a lot of really surprising stuff, but it did fill in a lot of the little details that Quarian history forgot.

In the battle of Reaper versus Shepard, who will win? Man or Machine? Man, of course. With machine power.

I let the Geth transcend. I figured, what’s the harm in it all? They want to be individuals so badly, I say let them.

I don’t know why I like this picture so much. Maybe it’s just funny to see Shepard being totally depressed. I mean, he looks really freakin’ sad. We are screwed if he doesn’t cheer up. That’s how sad he looks.

Miranda is a dick. This is her father being biotically shoved off a balcony by Miranda, after I gave my word that he would be spared. I know there’s lots of horrible people in Mass Effect, but I just really don’t like Miranda. “I’m so perfect. It’s so horrible. Daddy used to keep me locked up in a mansion. That makes it alright to kill him.”

The final assault is one of the coolest moments in video game history. Shepard, racing toward the beam of light, trying to get on board the citadel so he can stop everything; laser blasts tearing apart troops and convoys. Everything’s going to hell and he has just got to make it, he has gotta!

And then he gets blasted.

It’s not a pretty sight. The screen goes red. Everything is faded out and slow. Shepard’s armor is gone. All he has is a sidearm he can barely lift. And then…

Marauder Shields.
The final boss…

Not gonna lie. He killed me the first time. That is the only time I died since the beginning of the game.

Maybe Shepard should have just stayed down, eh? What’s with all the corpses? They talk like they’re building something else here; like another Reaper, but how would that work exactly?

The Illusive Man really needs to take a look in a mirror. Look how much his body has changed since the last time we saw him on Thessia. Ugh…

Wish I had a maxed out paragon score for this scene. Didn’t get the ultimate option. Didn’t change much, but would have been nice to see.

I just now noticed this. Look at the Illusive Man’s eyes in this picture. They’re human. In the end, he broke free of the Reapers’ control.

Meet god. Okay, he’s not technically god, but he’s the one behind the Reapers.

So, ready for some BS? Okay, other sites have gone into this in better detail than I will here. But basically? The Reapers come every 50,000 years to destroy sentient life because if they don’t, sentient life will be destroyed by machines. So… the machines are destroying organics to prevent the organics from being destroyed by machines? That makes no sense. What’s worse, we have proof that it doesn’t have to end that way. After all, Shepard got the Quarians and the Geth to work together. EDI is an AI who is cooperative, helpful. Heck, she’s in love with Joker and the feeling is mutual. So, everything we know from most recent memory shows that god here is just bitching. Maybe he really does have a good point. We’ll never know; there certainly isn’t time for a question and answer session.

As you can see by this picture, I chose the green ending. Thank goodness. It’s my favorite color.

I’m amazed at how similar the endings to the game are. The game has an excellent build-up. Maybe the ending itself isn’t bad; I do not want to debate that right now. However, the fact that all three of the endings are so similar really bothers me.

And we end with Joker and EDI together, now a pair of synthesized organic-mechanic people. I’m not really sure what that means in a technical sense, though. I mean, how is it different from being a cyborg? What is the fundamental conceit of mechanical design? … Eh, just enjoy the pretty picture.

And we end on the scene of an old man telling a young boy about the story of “the Shepard”.

The End.

Coming up next. My review of the Mass Effect series.


The Prothean Awakens to SPIDERS!

Boy, law school, am I right, guys? Glad to be done with a huge exam I just had to take. Now to return to the land of the living *begins typing at computer screen*

This is Javik’s cruising coffin. It’s his home away from home, which is convenient because his home no longer exists. It’s about 50,000 years that-a-way.

This, by the way, is Javik. He’s a Prothean. Last of his kind. And he’s all yours for the low-low price of $10. Worth it? Well, I don’t think he’s essential to the story. However, he does have some really fun conversation options and he can enlighten the player on some of the setting’s history. I took him on every mission just because I wanted to hear what he has to say.

I hate the harvesters. I hate them because they are immune to bionic charge.

On the other hand, they are badass dragons, so I can’t hate them too much.

“Would you put an AI brain in a robot body?”
“I don’t know. Probably not.”
“What if that robot body was a woman?”

“Kaidan, you look like shit.”
“At least I’m still alive.”
“Well, good to know at least one of my decisions in the first game mattered.”

Hey, Thane, glad you could make it to the party.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who wishes there would be a “Cure Thane” DLC so we could put him into the party. “Hey, Thanke, we found a cure. It only cost $5.”

In the second game, I made an important decision about whether Kasumi should keep the little black box with tons of important data in it, but suffer from the ghostly memory of her dead lover, or destroy the box. I chose for her to keep the box because I thought it was useful; I was right. However, it turns out that if I told her to destroy the box, she got the data somehow anyway. Lame.

The Shepard VI is maybe the best thing about the game.

Nah. But it is cool.

“Together, we can beat anything. Except the Reapers. You ever see the size of one of those things?”

Of all the old crew, Jack has undergone the most significant costume change. She has a ponytail and she’s wearing an almost full suit of clothing.

Riding in the Atlas is one of the more engaging parts of the game. I don’t know if it’s really better than just Bionic Charging everything, but it is a lot of fun to see enemies being mowed down by its cannons.

*really whiny nasally voice* “I’m Miranda. I’m perfect. Look at my perfect little eyelashes. Don’t you just pity me?” Ugh… I wish I could excise her from the game.

Continuing the tradition of three letter names beginning with E, we have Eve. She is wearing an outfit that faintly reminds me of a burka. A very stylish one at that. I wasn’t expecting her voice to be so soft; she doesn’t have the gravelly tone of the male krogan. She’s also not consumed by battle lust. I don’t know if she is typical of krogan females, but she certainly stands out from every other krogan, and even every other character in the game. Wise, calm, and fun to talk with; in particular, her banter with Mordin is not to be missed. I wish she didn’t die in my game.

Did you think the Rachni were going to show up in ME3 being all badass with a huge army of insects, ready to kick ass and help out?

Then you’ll be disappointed to see that, instead, they have spawned a host of monstrosities the likes of which this galaxy has never seen. And you still get them only if you make another choice to save them. Why does it have to be so freakin’ difficult to *whine whine whine*

I know this Thresher Maw has a real name, but I’m just calling her the Thresher Maw of Awesomeness for right now. She defeats a Reaper single-handedly.

I spread the krogan cure. This is after saying we should destroy the data and telling Wrex I’d do it again.

Here’s the thing. I was working with limited data early on. In the second game, I figured we were at risk of having the krogan all go insane and destroy everybody after we got rid of the Reapers. Seemed like a sure thing to me. Like, why save yourselves just to be destroyed by the very cure? Well, Wrex makes a good point that I should be able to trust him. He’s certainly doing a darn good job of things by the way things are going. That, and, it looks like the Reapers really are winning, so we might as well take the chance.

If not for the game’s ending, I would wonder how well the galaxy would fare given the choice I made. It’s a moot point, thankfully.

Bugs and Dogs

The Keepers are still running around the Citadel, like nothing has changed. This seems to me like a bad idea because they could become dangerous at any moment. What if they are programmed to shut down the Citadel at a critical moment? I know their primary function was deactivated by the Protheans, but things can go pear-shaped again quickly enough.

Kaidan has been hospitalized since the attack on Mars. Not doing so well. C’mon, Kaiden, come back to us! We need you in the squad roster.

Avina, sporting the new “muttonchops” upgrade.

Construction has begun on the plot device weapon!

And now for the most epic confrontation in the game. The final battle with the reporter. But this time, she has come prepared! Shepard tosses a punch, she ducks, she goes in for a blow, and Shepard counterattacks! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked the Renegade option this time around. I do feel bad about seeing her actually pass out this time. Little harsh there, Shepard.

This reporter has really big… cheeks!

Which reminds me, James is fre~akishly buff.

Anyway, I’m glad to have Diana on board.

When Shepard returns to the Normandy, he gets this weird dream sequence where he sees the dead boy from Earth. He chases him, but can move only in slow motion, then watches as flames consume the kid. Freaky stuff.

Liara has brought on board Glyph, the VI from the Shadow Broker’s ship. Not the most exciting little ball of holographic intelligence, but whatever. At least he doesn’t sound like Navi from The Ocarina of Time.

The first time I spoke with Liara on the ship, I had this weird problem where Shepard’s head kept switching back and forth, left and right, but never focusing on her.

Now here is a novel conversation system. Shepard actually fights James as he talks with him. Shepard can use a small variety of moves by clicking renegade and paragon options. I didn’t experiment with it, but the moves helped Shepard seal the fight in his favor.

Also, notice Shepard’s new digs. I figure I might as well put him in official Alliance gear for once. He looks good in it, if unremarkable.

Oh, hey, here’s the robot dog from the collector’s edition. Look at him! Isn’t he so cute? Aww, yes he is, yes he is! He was worth the extra $20 all by himself!

Vancouver and Mars (are no place to raise a kid) (after the Reapers invade)

We begin by zooming in on planet Earth, surrounded by an armada. The Reaper assault has entered the galaxy. Shepard, unfortunately, has been groundside for a while now.

He is summoned to meet with the admiralty board by this guy. Whose name I don’t remember. I guess he was in an earlier game, but I just do not recall who he is.

The Admiralty Board explains that things are going very badly. The Reapers are in the solar system. As the conversation continues we learn they are on Luna. And then in Britain. And, well…



So, war. Going badly.

Anderson helps Shepard stand up. Time to get the heck out of here. Earth might be screwed, but maybe they can save everything else.

This is a really miserable way to begin the game, after all the hope we had thought to build up in the previous two. Sitll, awesome.

The coolest thing is how the Reapers are actually moving in the background, like Shepard could actually run up and touch them. Or shoot them. Pew pew pew.

In this peculiar scene, Shepard sees a boy stuck in the vents. He goes over to speak with him and tries to get him to come out of the vent. Anderson calls to Shepard and when he looks back, the boy is gone. Did he just disappear? Are we supposed to find that strange? Isn’t that kid the same one who shows up later?

This one? If so, then I guess he didn’t disappear. But how did he dodge all the Reapers? Eh, I’m probably overthinking it – it was probably just set up for the later scene where that kid dies as Shepard leaves Vancouver.

My goodness, it’s like what if Fat Albert was turned into a geth?

The Normandy takes off, but Anderson stays behind, while reinstating Shepard. I do not think Anderson will have much work he can do on earth, honestly. I am not sure where he can go. But, hey, I wish him luck and hope he survives (ah, of course he will).

Off to the red planet Mars, to find some new information we can use against the Reapers. It was just now discovered. Why? Eh, plot convenience, no matter what else they say.

Liara is the one with the information. Say, isn’t she busy being the Shadow Broker? I guess it’s not a full time job because she has had time to leave and come to Mars to hang out and help Shepard.

Cerebus has a dirty little secret. Many dirty little secrets. And dirty big secrets. And dirty open secrets. And… ha-hem, anyway, here is one of their secrets. They have been modifying their soldiers, creating some kind of super-Reaper. I am now regretting again my decision to give them the Reaper technology. On the other hand, I kind of want to see what they do with it.

The Illusive Man shows up to make it clear that he and Shepard are no longer buddies. He points out that Shepard was a tool to him, nothing more. Well, we’ll just take him off Shepard’s birthday party invite list. That’ll show him. And we will foil his evil schemes. That one might matter a little more to him.

Ugh, the Illusive Man really needs to clean his jowls. Look how dirty they are.

And the events on Mars end by chasing this “doctor”, who does not really seem to be any kind of doctor at all. She seems to be either an android or some hyper-evolved human. Shepard catches her and puts her down. Then drags her prone body onto the ship and puts her where Legion was. Foreshadowing?

Mass Effect 2 Musings, Part Two

Kasumi’s loyalty mission begins on a weird note. She wants Shepard to help her recover data from…

This guy! Doesn’t he just look like a Bond villain? Anyway, part of breaking in involves giving him a gift…

A life-sized gold statue of Saren. That’s just weird. Why? Was Saren some well-known criminal? He was a Spectre!

This is the highlight of the mission; a visit to the villain’s museum, filled with artifacts, including the statue of David, the head of the statue of liberty, and even a troll from Dragon Age.

Behold! Emperor Wrex!

Okay, not really, but he is apparently the most powerful warlord right now. Again, I am impressed that the krogan are not just a bunch of dumb brutes. Sure, some are exceedingly violent, but plenty of them know the wisdom of controlling or channeling their rage to useful purposes.

Samara’s loyalty quest is tragic. She has three daughters, each born with a genetic defect that basically means they kill anybody they have sex with. Two of them went into isolation, but one, Morinth, fled.

Now, notice in this picture, you get to pick which of the two you want to kill. This really is a silly choice. I don’t know why they would let the player make it because, honestly, the player has no reason to save Morinth. Samara is oath-sworn to obey Shepard and is honorable. Morinth is evil: she gets her jollies by making people rely on her, then killing them. Furthermore, Shepard has no reason to believe she will follow him. But, hey, if you really want to save her, Shepard can then have sex with her and die.

During one of the missions, Shepard gets sucked into a virtual reality world. I could say that virtual reality does not work like this, but hey, it’s the future. I’m not going to complain about anything this creepy. The weird head in the first image is David, an autistic man who was hooked into a machine that let him connect to the Geth. Unfortunately, that did not work out very well. It turned him into an insane monster bent on corrupting computers on a galactic scale. So, couple bugs to work out of the next test run.

David’s set-up is horrifying. Permanently attached to this machine, possibly in pain. I feel kind of bad about leaving him in that situation. However, I figured that his brother has learned his lesson and that, furthermore, having him continue that sacrifice would save a lot of lives in the long run. My calculus is a bit more complicated than that, but also a touch muddied: I figure Shepard speaks for the Alliance and for the Citadel – this complicates how he should respond to a threat because he needs to think of the fates of everybody, not just the person in front of him.

In one of the missions, Shepard can acquire this Prothean relic. And put it in his room. I find that a little creepy. Counterargument: Shiiiiiiiiinyyyyyy.

On the derelict Reaper, Shepard can view recordings of peoples’ conversations. The creepiest one is between two guys who find them confusing each other’s memories. This is my favorite part of sci-fi; the bizarre horror element.

Legion is another fun character. The weird thing about talking with him is that Shepard is not speaking with some guy named Legion: he is speaking with the entire Geth race. Think of Legion as a dummy terminal. I find talking with him to be an edgy sort of deal because of that; any impression Shepard makes him Legion, he makes on the entire race. By the way, his profile at the Shadow Broker’s lair is really amusing. The stuff about being nearly banned for various infractions that suppose he is not an actual person, yet the only suspension he gets is from trash talking. Also, the geth apparently suck at cross-species dating.

I did Tali’s loyalty mission with Legion in tow. It does not change anything significant, but it does lead to some dramatic moments.

Maybe the most memorable sequence in ME2 is playing as Joker. He needs to give EDI access to all of the ship’s functions, but to do so, he needs to dodge the Collectors that are infiltrating the ship. They come busting through doors, grabbing other people; it is actually a little funny in a horrifying kind of way. Also, this section features Collector breeds we never see anywhere else in the game. I wonder why not.

The final mission is labeled suicide mission. I love a game with a good sense of dark humor.

Revenge! I am glad I improved the ship, making it able to survive the horrors at the center of the galaxy.

I really do want to incorporate videos into this blog somehow. Some scenes just do not play out very well going just by pictures, especially in a cinematic game.

Near the end of the assault, the squad is attacked by platform after platform of Collectors, each fitting in with the last platform to land, eventually forming a bridge to the end. Fools, if they had not landed, they would have been safe.

This game answers that question: how do Reapers reproduce? it turns out they do so with “goo”. Or “essence”. Yes, melt down humans and pump their “essence” into injector tubes, and fill a whole bunch of metal with the stuff. That creates a Reaper. If this sounds like magical BS, that is because it is. What is “essence”? Cool metal skeleton, though. Like a huge Terminator.

I was not sure what to expect of the Shadow Broker. I guess a big shadowy evil creature makes sense, but it is a bit generic. I cannot really complain, but… meh. He just is not anything special.

But the fight is kind of cool.

He has some kind of omni-tool shield. And the fight requires actually beating the crap out of him with Shepard’s fists. I find beating the crap out of things with one’s fists to be an excellent strategy in the late game. I actually took out a geth prime with this strategy. I had enough of dodging around crates, popping in and out of cover. So, I just charged it and wailed on it with my fists to finish it off.

With the Shadow Broker’s death, there is a sudden power vacuum. One which Liara quickly steps in and takes over. So now Shepard has the Shadow Broker on his side. Awesome.

The Mass Effect 2 Stupidity Award goes to the people behind Project Arrival. Earlier, this person assures Shepard that they have the Reaper artifact under control, that they know of the danger it poses, of indoctrination. And then? Shepard finds that they just keep the thing right out in the open.

By the way, I survived the ensuing fight scene. Had to do it a couple times, though.

Just because Bioware likes making the player feel like a bad person, it gives an exact count of the estimated deaths caused by completing Project Arrival. Makes that one assignment where Shepard needs to decide between saving a defense system or letting 300 people die seem trivial.

On completing Arrival, Shepard has a brief, if meaningless, conversation with Harbinger itself.

And we end on a massive explosion, as the asteroid destroys the Alpha Mass Relay, delaying the Reapers’ arrive by a couple years.

Mass Effect 2 Musings, Part 1

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.

Finishing Mass Effect 1

I released the Rachni Queen. I didn’t see a good reason they shouldn’t have a chance at existence, especially if they could help me against the Reapers.

The Prothean world has a really annoying part where the land rover must navigate through the ruins. Not a big deal, except the gravity is extremely low in this area, which makes navigating extremely difficult. I actually lost the land rover once because it hit a bump and flew up so high that it literally went over the walls separating the map from the gray wastes. No recovering after that.

Vigil here, a copy of a Prothean’s mind, is informative, clarifying what the reapers did during the Prothean invasion. My favorite part is about the Keepers. Because the Keepers do such a great job, and are unobtrusive, nobody bothers them or tries to do maintenance work on the Citadel. If anybody would have bothered to check, they might have stumbled onto the Citadel’s secret. It’s a brilliant strategy.

I convinced Saren to break free of Sovereign’s mind control. Unfortunately, that meant to him that his best bet was suicide. I’m impressed. I have never seen a video game feature on screen suicide. It isn’t excessively graphic. You do see him shoot himself, and a spurt of blood, but his skull is not blown in half or any some such.

However, I am amused that Shepard insisted the group confirm the kill. Hey, good way to be sure a villain is not returning for the second game, heh.

A good idea, too, considering Saren gets transformed into boss mode. The battle itself is okay. As long as I kept on the move, Saren was practically unable to do anything to me. Having a boss fight was fun for a change (the other bosses never really felt like bosses to me). On the other hand, it was an unnecessary battle. I already beat Saren. That should have ended it. This is here only because the game designers thought it would be cool to have a final boss battle, no matter what. I prefer the Planescape: Torment approach, where you can avoid the final boss fight entirely and feel more satisfied about having done so.

I’ll end my thoughts for the first game with this goofy Shepard smile he gives as he pulls himself from the rubble after the fight. It looks better with the music playing in the background. But, gah, the smile looks goofy; I think it’s mostly the helmet’s fault. I never liked that helmet.

By the way, I saved the Council. The decision didn’t make much sense to me at the time. I don’t think the game explained the situation well enough, which ruined the tension for me. It felt like an uninformed decision, but not in the panicky “decide now, both decision routes are important” sort of way. Ultimately, I chose to save the council based on the idea that unifying various sides against a threat is better than one strong side. Same principle with playing an RPG. It’s better to have more people with average equipment than it is to have one person with the best equipment (usually). Having a single guy is dangerous because if he gets taken out, it’s all over, and the damage he can inflict by himself might not be as great as the damage that several party members working together can manage.

I’ll save some of my thoughts about the first game for my overall review of the Mass Effect series. For now, I’ll say that I had enough fun that I was soon convinced I wanted to play the entire series. The game has its flaws – I thought the paragon choices usually made far better sense than the renegade choices, and money is almost useless, but I overall enjoyed the game. Again, I will get more in-depth later.

For now, on to ME2.