Monday, February 15, 2010

Played Lately: Mass Effect 2

    Welcome to the non-spoiler section of my Mass Effect 2 post. I'm going to stay vague here out of deference to those of you who haven't finished the game or maybe haven't even started. However, the comment section will be used to blow out all the spoilers, discuss the decisions we made, and talk about the ending. So skip that for now if you must, but come back later when you finish. I'll be interested in seeing how your story turned out.
  • Wow, was that a good game. As much as I enjoyed Dragon Age, I think Mass Effect is where Bioware's best work is going on. From the improved combat to the streamlined RPG system, ME2 is a better game than the first in just about every way.

  • Shamus Young from Twenty Sided is posting a spoilerific series about his issues with the main quest line. (Do not click if you haven't finished the game!) The whole series is funny to me because everything he nitpicks is the stuff that I enjoy most in the game. I thought the story, although it took the series sideways, taught us a lot more about the Reapers and their motives. It definitely left me wanting to learn more in ME3.

  • The biggest surprise to me was the crew. Although I liked the crew in the first game, I feared that the new team members wouldn't hold up. All those fears can be laid at the feet of EA's idiotic marketing department. I should have known after their handling of Dragon Age that they're trying to sell mature games to 12 year olds. The companions are uniformly excellent (yes, even Zaeed). I should have known Bioware wouldn't let me down.

  • If I have one complaint about Mass Effect 2, it's that it is very easy to overindulge yourself. The first game was a relatively straight shot to the end. You can power through the seven mission (plus a few Citadel quests) if you don't want to get distracted by side quests. In ME2, there are fourteen main missions, but you also have eleven loyalty mission to do without even worrying about side quests and planet scanning. If you are a completionist, doing everything can really kill the pace of the game.

  • But that is a minor problem. Mass Effect 2 took just about everything from the first game and gave it a nice twist. From improved mechanics to a great twist on the story, Bioware strove to surpass it in every way. While there are some small oddities left, this is the role-playing game that I've been waiting the last couple years for and I was not disappointed.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. Welcome to the spoiler section for Mass Effect 2. If you haven't completed the game, you probably want to avoid the comments because I'm letting everything out here. Come back later and add to the conversation. I'm really interested in hearing what everyone thinks about the game.

    I'm going to give a rundown of how I played the game. I brought over my female Shepard from ME1. I play her as galactic hero, so she's full paragon, saved Wrex and the council. She chose to save Kaiden because he was her love interest. In the new game, as I implied above, I did everything I could find. Every main mission, every loyalty mission, every side quest I could see. I listened to podcasts on my headphones and scanned many many planets, so I had every upgrade I could find. Doing all the really kills the pace of the game, so I hope Bioware structures the next game a little differently.

    A couple changes I'd think would help. I honestly thought there were too many companions to collect and make loyal. All the missions were great, but I wanted to fight the Reapers, not babysit so many people. I'd also like to improve the galactic exploration even more. What was the point of having fuel? You only used to moving between systems, not within systems or between clusters. So strange!

    My favorite part was learning more about the master plan. Finding out that the Collectors were actually genetically-modified Proteans blew me away. I assumed (as I'm sure they wanted us to) that they were doing the same thing to the humans. Then by the end we learn that the Reapers are really using them as a means of procreation. Of course, the final reveal that Harbinger was not the head Collector but a Reaper all along was way too cool. It may take a healthy suspension of disbelief to accept all that, but I bought into the story entirely.

    On the final mission, I only lost Mordin. He was easily my favorite of the new companions. (Garrus is such a bad ass.) I figured between his special ops training and technical prowess that he should run though the ducts. Oops. Every other decision went right, though, so I'll likely go back and make a perfect run. I blew up the station because my Shepard was a freaking hero. Heck, she practically equated the scientific experiments on the Krogens with the Nazis so she wasn't going to allow for the same thing to happen here. And I actually liked the ending boss battle. I thought it would end with a long run out of the station like on the Collector ship, so I enjoyed the change of pace.

    And finally, even after a lot of accidental flirting with Yeoman Kelly, Shepard stayed true to Kaiden. Her long, thoughtful look at his picture before the last mission told me she and I had made the right choice. Bioware better let that pay off at the end.

    So what about you? Did you like where the story went? Did you think the larva battle was cheesy? Did you hit on every love interest you could find? I'd love to hear how everyone else played. Oh, and does anyone else have to desire to start a new character in ME1 and play both back to back?

  2. The story was what made me play through ME1 twice, it was so good. But ME2 from start to finish was a much better experience for me, I loved it.

    I lost Samara on the suicide mission, so apparently I missed something because your whole team can survive the mission.

    I get the feeling that we haven't seen the last of the Illusive Man and he'll be back for ME3. I wonder if he is the Shadow Broker...

  3. I reckon he's the shadow broker too, it's a small galaxy, and that's the kind of twist I'm sure Bioware wouldn't resist.

    Maybe it's because I saved everyone, but I didn't get the sense of awesomeness that a lot of peopl did from the last mission. I think it would have been a lot more interesting and compelling if the last missions forced characters to die, maybe with you choosing. It's way too easy to go through without anybody dying.

    I'm one of those people who didn't get into the story so much. Even the good bits (like the collectors being protheans as you mentioned) were buried under a lot of guff. And that end boss was a bit silly....

  4. @ Jayedub - I hate to say but the comic book (Comic books?!? I'm such a nerd!) makes a convincing argument that the Illusive Man and the Shadow Broker are working at cross purposes. I agree that this is a better game from the first.

    @ Drunk Detective - The correllary to that statement is that I don't think the story is the strongest point of the game. I was able to get into it, but I definitely threw a bunch of people. That last boss certainly didn't help. I wish we could get some insight on how Bioware came to that decision.

  5. I finished the game myself on Friday night, with about 36 hours played total. Loved loved loved it. I did all the recruitment and loyalty missions and every probe mission I could find.

    While I agree with you, Anjin, that doing it that way can kill the dramatic pacing of the main story, I was so involved in the side stories that I didn't care.

    Just to brag, :), I finished with my full team alive. I used Tali for the initial duct crawl, Vaeed to escort the crew, Miranda to lead the 2nd fireteam, and Samara to provide a shield during one part of the mission.

    One thing the sequel did that I don't remember doing in the first one is laugh. Mordin singing Gilbert and Sulivan was a riot.

  6. @ Blue Kae - My pacing complaint is so very minor because of the strength of the side missions. Learning about and help your companions are deeply satisfying.

    I never posted (even though I meant to) about my brother's solution to the end. He beat the end without losing anyone, using Legion in the ducts and Jack as the biotic shield. We had very similar experiences, except his Shepard successfully wooed Thane. I've heard a lot of people complain about failing to earn their Paramour achievements.

    Mordin absolutely is my favorite of the companions, because of his great story, the conflict in his loyalty mission, and those awesome character moments like the G&S solo. That guy was hilarious. And to have him be the one character I lost? /sigh

  7. I didn't mention it, but I did end up with Tali as my romantic interest (which made me very nervous sending her into the ducts). She was my favorite character from the first game and I was always disappointed that she wasn't one of the options for a romantic interest.

    Mordin was my second favorite though.

    Were you tempted to replay that last mission to try an save him? I'm sure if I'd lost Tali during the mission I would have reloaded my last save and tried again.

  8. @ Blue Kae - More than tempted; that is my plan. It's just a matter of taking the time to do so. Plus, I don't want to miss that achievement. :)

    Tali was a pretty awesome character this time around. I'm glad Bioware used this game to flesh her out more.

  9. The achievement to keep the entire party was something I definitely wanted, but I put a lot of effort into keeping Wrex alive the first time too. Even without the achievement I would've done the same thing, part of being so emotionally attached to the characters.

    Good luck on the replay.