Mass Effect 2 Wrap Up

Got to the end of Mass Effect 2 a few days ago. I clocked in about 100 hours…a lot of which were AFK. My tendency to forget what I’m doing and just…wander off… makes it really hard to keep track of how long it actually takes me to play my games. The WoW subscription I paid for and have barely used is expiring in a few weeks so I figured I should do that before hurling myself at Mass Effect 3, but first things first, ramblings about my last and final ME2 session.

This is going to be all spoilers all the time, so even though this is a *checks* 7 year old game, I’ll be kind and hide the post behind a cut.

1- Bringing Legion to Tali’s Loyalty Mission

I heard this was fun so I gave it a shot. I don’t remember my original playthrough, but given that I was playing blind and following good RPG etiquette of “finish your sidequests before enjoying the next main mission”, I probably did Tali’s quest looong before I picked up Legion. Besides, Tali’s like my Shepard’s kid sister. I have so much fun with their dynamic (I play Spacer Shep, it fits especially well), that my low key RP demands that what Tali needs, Tali gets. Now.

From an RP perspective, even a low key one, my alliance-forging military minded Shepard would never bring a Geth to the Quarian fleet at this point in their relationship. Upsetting potential (and useful) allies by bringing a feared enemy into their homes, where said enemy can casually help itself to all sorts of practical intel? Not going to happen. I almost considered saving, bringing Legion for kicks, then loading. But it was fine. The Quarians forgave me. Some were even happy to meet Legion. And Legion behaved himself. No loading previous saves required. Beyond triggering a hilarious scenario, having Legion opens a whole new dimension to Tali’s quest. You get to know Tali, the Quarians and the Geth in a way you wouldn’t otherwise. Even a humourless player would approve.

As a side note, it is a shame you get Legion so late in the game. His recruitment scene makes sense, but you don’t get much time to learn about the Geth before jumping into endgame. I brought him to Tali’s quest right after activating him (as far as I know, you only get two missions between the Reaper IFF and the Suicide Mission and unless you have no missions left, he won’t bring up his loyalty quest until you’ve used your first mission. Plus, I was eager to do Tali’s), much to my RP discomfort. Has I gotten to know him better and been more aware of the two Geth factions and the general Geth’s lack of animosity toward the Quarians, bringing him to the Fleet could have actually become a strategic move toward peace brokering.

2- Kelly wouldn’t feed my fish

I thought I said all the right things, but I didn’t get my dinner date with Kelly. Disappointed. I ended up having to feed my own fish after every freaking excursion. Was also a little perplexed because my Original Shepard had dinner with Kelly. This may affect my interactions with her in Mass Effect 3! (Priorities!)

3- I don’t like the way the Suicide Mission triggers

I would prefer that after obtaining the Reaper IFF, EDI would ask you if you want the IFF installed right away or later. It didn’t affect me directly: Original Shepard did sidequests before advancing main missions and Copy Shepard knew the script. I still feel like Shepard should be the one deciding what gets installed on her ship and when. Besides, Legion has some cool lines, it’s a shame you rarely get to see them. Plus, if you’re playing the game multiple times, you get a different experience by mixing up the order you do missions in. And, even though I didn’t get caught, it feels unfair to expect players to just know that they have to wrap up all the loyalty quests they want to do before doing Reaper IFF. (If there is a warning, I didn’t see it.)

Now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if this moment highlights a transition in story-based game trends. As an older player, I had the instinct to do sidequests before main missions because the popular RPGs of my formative years were very linear. Once you moved on to a new area, you were not guaranteed the ability to backtrack. Nowadays, popular story games are very open world. Situations where you can’t go back are rare and fairly obvious. What appeared natural to me on my first playthrough felt odd and unfair 5 years later.

4- I don’t like this other aspect of how the Suicide Mission triggers

EDI installs the Reaper IFF and wants to run some tests, so you take the shuttle with ALL YOUR SQUADMATES to go to your next mission.

Except for that there’s no mission and why would you bring all your squadmates?

I remember this bugging me on the Original Playthrough, but I was promptly distracted by the excitement to follow. This time, without the element of surprise, there was nothing to steal my attention. Two things bothered me.

The first is that the scenario makes no sense. Testing new hard/software (does the game even tell you what an IFF is physically?) -wise, even the most hands off Shepard would want to oversee this. Mission wise, there’s no point in the game implying that there are missions we don’t see. It would be fine for a smaller game but given how many missions are available to the player, there’s no need for behind-the-scenes missions. Bringing all your squad -wise, there’s no way Shepard or Miranda, who suggests the idea, would do that. They’re way too experienced to a) go on mission without a plan including who to bring and b)needlessly leave their base undefended.

The second is missed opportunity. Only Something Very Cool would force Shepard (and the entirety of her ground team) to leave her ship vulnerable, especially during critical hardsoftware testing. I would have enjoyed Something Very Cool. Maybe the Illusive Man has in-person directions/peptalk to give? Maybe there’s a conflict with the Alliance or some other space authority worthy of Shepard’s attention? Maybe there’s a hint of valuable information about Protheans/Collector/Reapers to investigate and several ground teams are needed? I am so sad of being deprived of Something Very Cool.

5- The scene with Joker is way easier than I remember

I remember being overwhelmed by shock and nerves, shaking and sweating as I did this sequence over and over again because the evil Collectors kept giving me a critical mission failure screen. This time, I couldn’t see why I had struggled so much. I suppose my nerves do fuck up interfere with my gaming performance. Which also brings to mind how much easier the car chase in the Shadow Broker DLC was this time around. Original Car Chase was one of my sharpest memories due to sheer frustration. After this go I was all “that was it?”

6- Suicide Mission

The Suicide Mission was just as fun as I remember. I love the idea of knowing your characters’ strengths and using them properly.

This version feels like a prototype (with Dragon Age: Origins’ Denerim battle being an even earlier, simpler version). There could be more roles: I felt like most of my team was excess baggage. You also hope your impression of the characters is the same as what the writers want you to think especially concerning team leader assignments. Garrus, Miranda and Jacob are your leader-types, but the story is vague about whether they are good at it: everyone hates Miranda, Garrus had his previous team killed (though it wasn’t his fault) and Jacob doesn’t do anything leaderly except have a history of Alliance officer-ship. It would have been brilliant had the game given more glimpses into squad-mate interactions for the attentive player (there are some and they’re great, but they’re not enough to form a strong opinion of who will make a good leader). Then what everyone is actually doing is kinda vague. I would have liked a clearer map than the tiny hologram in the briefing room because I had very little idea what was going on and where my second team was.

It’s a prototype of something amazing, though, and it’s disappointing that ME3 didn’t elaborate on it, or that Dragon Age: Inquisition didn’t do anything like this. (I continue to grieve my deprivations of Things Very Cool.) I really hope to see this mission model developed in future games. (If anyone happens to come across this post and has game recommendations for me, I’m wide open to suggestions.)

7- What to do with the Collector’s Base

Original Collector’s Base Decision memory is fuzzy, so I don’t think I felt strongly about it then. (I only know what my choice was because I remember using my typical first-playthrough logic.)

On Copy Playthrough, Shamus Young’s Retrospective was fresh on my mind so I was more attentive when given the choice to destroy the base or give it to Cerberus. Unlike Shamus, I didn’t feel that decision was based the base being “an abomination“, though that could be because I didn’t choose the dialogue option. I do agree that the fact it was even an option is silly. When faced with intel as important as this with the survival of the entire galaxy at stake, even most sensitive and moral of Shepards is going to be practical. “This place is an abomination” is never going to cross her mind. Anyway, the rest of the discussion around that option was whether you should give the base to Cerberus, which makes sense. Cerberus would jump at the chance to kidnap living beings to make mini-Reapers.

I was quite shocked that absolutely no one in your team is in favor of saving the base, however. I know most don’t approve of Cerberus but some do and some can get behind “all knowledge is worth having” so I was expecting my team to be divided, you know, like they are for every other decision I’ve made in every Bioware game I’ve played. But no, when I figured “this is too important important to destroy and besides, I can hand over everything I know to the Alliance/Council/Shadow Broker/Omega/whoever will take it“, every member of my team (including Miranda who’s never questioned Cerberus) except Jack and Thane who weren’t paying attention and have nothing to say either way, gave me heck.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you save the base or not, Cerberus gets it anyway and no non-Cerberus organization wants/uses your info, but if you’re somewhat RPing, Shepard has no idea about the future so she would feel that this decision will seriously affect the fights to come.

8- Endgame

There’s not much after the Suicide Mission. I suspect that after Original Playthrough, I jumped right into ME3 (except maybe for DLC, I can’t remember if I did them before or after beating the game). I was surprised at how little anyone cares about you defeating the Collectors. I had flashbacks to Skyrim where no one noticed I saved the world. Most of my squadmates gave me a hard time about keeping the base, but no one has anything to say about the actual mission. Liara apparently doesn’t want to talk about it either. You can’t even tell Anderson.

Side note, I really wish Anderson had more dialogue in ME2, period. I love the mentor relationship he has with Shepard and having him observe her progression from second in command, to spectre commanding her own vessel, to carrying the weight of the galaxy on her shoulders is one of my favorite things about the series. So it would have been especially satisfying to seek his reaction (and funnel information to the Alliance) after each (or select) step(s) of the main mission. All the game lets you bring up is a bit about Kaiden on Horizon.

My crew does thank me for saving them, so I guess that’s that.

Which wraps up Mass Effect 2 for now. I’m both excited and apprehensive about moving on. I did decide on modding the game, although I haven’t chosen all my mods yet (or figured out how to mod), because, you know what, fuck Spacekid. And since I have seen the original ending enough times to write a guide (which, despite being terribly obsolete, remains my most viewed post after the even more obsolete Shopping Guide for Mists of Pandaria), I have given myself the right to indulge in the warmest, fuzziest of warm, fuzzies. Which means something along the lines of Extended Anderson Conversation, MEHEM, Citadel Epilogue and a few more for good measure.

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