Sorry I wasn’t able to post anything last week. I was kind of out of commission because I just wasn’t feeling all that well. I was honestly not feeling my best and, as much as I would have wanted to keep my perfect record on writing something each week, I just didn’t have the strength to do so. The spirit was willing but the flesh was just too weak.
While I may have been too sickly to actually get to my computer and think about stuff to write, I wasn’t feeble enough to keep a controller in my hand. I may have been stuck in bed but that didn’t restrict me from continuing my quest as FemShep as she journeyed throughout the galaxy in Mass Effect 2. I was able to finish the entire game over that time period and I’m now well enough to report about my thoughts on my experience.
Like with the first Mass Effect game, I am wholly familiar with Mass Effect 2’s story, characters and missions. Truth be told, this was the game which got me into the Mass Effect games when it was released as a standalone entry on the PlayStation 3 an entire decade ago in 2011. Once again, it was my brothers on the reins of FemShep doing all the shooting and controlling and stuff while I basically sat back and backseat gamed throughout the entire thing. I still have very vivid memories of the story and characters but, after playing it for myself, it turns out there were a few things I didn’t quite remember.
Since I’m playing the Legendary Edition which bundles the complete Mass Effect trilogy from BioWare, I simply carried over my FemShep save data from Mass Effect 1… only to see her get blown up during what was supposed to be a simple routine mission. This wasn’t a real shock because I did remember this very clearly and the comic book choices we had to make during the prologue when we did play Mass Effect 2 all those years ago during our first playthrough. I do think it was odd I still the option to go through the comic but without making any choices. I guess it’s a good way to recap the previous events in the previous game.
Moving from Mass Effect 1 to Mass Effect 2 is like moving to two different worlds! I wouldn’t exactly call the shooting mechanics from the first Mass Effect 1 bad but everything just controls so much better in Mass Effect 2! In fact, most of the gameplay in the second game makes the first game feel so archaic! I remember in Mass Effect 1, you could have FemShep duckwalk while shooting and, while it makes sense in a tactical shooter, BioWare removed that function and I didn’t even realize how much better it played for that decision! The shooting feels so much better and only having a few select guns totally streamlines the entire weapon selection process.
By the way, I played through using the Infiltrator class because of cloaking, which should have helped me a lot during the firefights. However, I didn’t really need to use the cloaking power that much because sniping here is so much fun! It usually only takes around 1 to 2 headshots to take down a standard enemy and, thanks to the Infiltrator’s sniper scope slowdown passive ability, shooting off the heads of baddies is almost too easy! It gets even easier if you manage to get the Widow sniper rifle during the storming of the Collector ship during the middle of the game. It can totally wreck an unarmored enemy with a single shot to any part of the body. Even when they do have shields, armor or barriers, It usually just takes a maximum of 3 shots from the Widow to take them out! This may have made things feel like I was in God mode because I could just pop my head out, line up a good headshot and the thing that was shooting at me wasn’t anymore!
I also have to say Mass Effect 2 has probably the best collection of squadmates in the entire trilogy. You’ve got your returning characters like Garrus, Joker and Tali but everyone else is a fresh face. Each of them have their own personality quirks which makes them memorable and actually want to talk to them… except for a couple of characters. I like the concept of the drell assassin Thane. I can get behind Thane believing he’s just the weapon so he never feels guilty over the murders he’s committed over the years. I can also get behind the entire philosophy on why his race it so indebted to the hanar as they took them in as refugees. The thing I couldn’t get behind were the random flashback he would spout out when recalling. It’s a nice reference to the drell’s flawless memory but it did come off as rather annoying at times. I still like the character but not as much as I would have.
I also didn’t really care for Samara all that much. This is both because of how strict she is in following the rules of a justicar and, strangely enough, her facial model! Samara being a justicar does follow some character development as she became an asari law enforcer to find her serial killer of a daughter who has escaped justice all these years. It’s supposed to be tragic and all that but I just didn’t care all that much. It also didn’t help that BioWare seemed to really want Samara to look like some kind of attractive model but it didn’t fit her character. I would say both Thane and Samara would be left on the Normandy during most missions. Most of the time, I would take Jack, Garrus and Tali for most mission since I liked them the best. Then again, maybe I would’ve included the geth platform Legion on that list but, unfortunately, you’re never really given that many opportunities to pick him because, once you do, you’re transported to the suicide mission and, in order to get the best ending, you do have to go through the Omega 4 relay immediately and have completed all of the loyalty missions if you want everyone to survive the suicide mission.
This actually kind of pissed me off because I decided to pick up Legion so I could take the geth to the quarian floatilla with me during Tali’s trial. So that’s what I did. I got Legion and recruited him went through Tali’s loyalty mission with the geth platform by our side. Honestly, it was a fun experience seeing Tali try to explain she would never bring a live geth to the quarians while she has a live geth with her during the trial!
I completed the mission and went through another side quest. It was a long one, most probably the Overload side mission. However, when I went to the galaxy map the next time, the Normandy was invaded by the Collectors and it becomes a mad rush to rush through the Omega 4 relay to rescue FemShep’s captured crew. The thing is, I still had a bunch of loyalty missions to complete, more specifically, Legion, Samara and Thane’s loyalty mission! I couldn’t just rush through the Omega 4 relay without completing the loyalty missions because there’s a good chance they would die if I didn’t do them! If my goal was to finish Mass Effect 2 without anyone dying, that meant I had to reload my save all the way back to the Reaper IFF mission and go through all of the missions before getting Legion again! This is why, while I love Legion, I never got to spend a lot of quality time with him.
Anyway, I did play through all of the quests before getting Legion and promptly went through the suicide mission. Now, I thought I had the suicide mission squads in the bag because, this time, I was going to be paying very strict attention to what was required. I picked Tali to go through the vents because a tech expert was needed. I also had Garrus lead the 2nd group and we made it through without a problem. For the escort mission back, I selected Mordin because, while the game doesn’t tell you what kind of squadmate should bring the injured crew back, I had to pick the doctor of my team. For the seeker swarms, I had Jack erect the barrier while I had Zaheed lead the the second squad. It turns out, even though he used to be the leader of the Blue Suns, Zaheed wasn’t leadership material and will get shot like a chump leading the 2nd team. Welp, back to the start of the suicide mission, I guess!
My second try had me now always pick Garrus as the secondary team leader since he always seems to succeed in that role and I was right! For the final push, I had Miranda and Jack on my team… for no particular reason. Besides, I remember the final boss being a pushover and, because of how powerful my Widow sniper rifle was, it was! After a couple of tries, I finished the suicide mission of Mass Effect 2 without anyone dying and not relying on a walkthrough! Yay me!
Overall, I really liked Mass Effect 2. I guess the effect of how massively great it is when you compare it to everything Mass Effect 1 does. Combat is much better. The characters and quests feel much more lively and organic. Even the Paragon and Renegade choices feel a little bit better integrated to the entire story. Even the mere fact you can customize FemShep’s armor makes the entire thing feel a little more realized. There are a few things I did wish they carried over, though. While I like the streamline weaponry inventory, there’s never any real data given telling you which weapon is more powerful than the other. I would usually have the unique weapons be carried by the ones who can carry them. However, you can’t tell if any of the new guns are actually better than the other.
This is just a really small nitpick in the stream of goodness that is Mass Effect 2. I had a blast but now I’m feeling kind of worried for Mass Effect 3. I remember it being… not so good? Maybe my memory’s failing me but I’ll be playing it soon and writing about it.
How was your first time playing Mass Effect 2? Let me know in the comments section below!