Kami’s Mass Effect experience Pt. 2

A Spectre reborn to save the galaxy.
Mass Effect 2 introduced many changes in controls and design. No more unlimited ammunition and a slightly different cover system. The font was smaller than ever before and even though I wear glasses I had to sit really close to the TV (but it was a very small TV so maybe that also added to it). The map’s usefulness had drastically decreased and never was any help to me in any situation. The loading screens looked more impressive but also lasted a lot longer. These things weren’t much to my liking when I started playing but in the course of the game I actually got used to it very quickly. Especially running in ME2 worked and looked better much better..

ME2 already starts off with a crisis and immediately sets the game’s mood. The Normandy is attacked by an unknown enemy, your crew evacuates and after Shepard forcing him, good old pilot follows. Proves again how the commander has to to everthing around here.
By sacrificing himself he ends up in a biennial coma after the organisation Cerberus has rescued him from space. That way the player is able to customise Shepard once again or also import his appearance (,achievements and background story) from the first game. And so my Russian rogue, spectre and commander had been resurrected. And I can’t put into words how happy it made me because I had become attached to this character so very much in the course of the first game.

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Right after waking up, Miranda, a new character which I strongly disliked from the get-go, gave me a tedious tutorial. As I fought my way through the building, I faced a new enemy type, the MECHS, and got to know another new character, Jacob. Shepard was now with Cerberus, if he liked it or not, since he owed his life to them. The organisation was led by the shady Illusive Man, who could usually be seen sitting around, smoking and sending my team into deadthtraps and suicide missions. At that early point of the game I was very depressed to hear that I had to gather a new team that would risk their lives with me for world peace. I missed my old friends. But I had to get moving. Now with an advanced Normandy 2.0, the ship’s AI EDI and Joker back as the pilot, at least.

The galaxy seemed different. Exploring planets wasn’t what it used to be. No more Mako, driving around in wonderful and odd landscapes and swearing at way too rocky mountain chains. No more entering deserted basements, picking on cybermonkies and nerve-racking fights with thresher maws, no more manual resource exploration. Instead I could now scan the planet, send probes or land when there’s an anomaly which starts a quick side mission. And although these small missions are really well done considering atmosphere and design I still miss the actual exploring of the planets by yourself. It took longer and you never knew if you had gathered everything, sure, but it was more fun that way. But there were still a couple of new main planets to investigate. On a planet named Omega I found a Salarian professor named Mordin to accompany me, the prison ship Purgatory offered a chance to recruit a tough human biotic named Jack, on the run-down Korlus I saved the genetically engineered Krogan super soldier named Grunt from being destroyed before he had even awoken. And the best thing that could’ve happen to me is the reunion with Garrus, the Turian from my old team. Had I chosen to play as a girl, he would have been my romance partner for sure.

The main goal of Shepard’s team and Cerberus was to stop the Collectors, who had been kidnapping human colonies, and get their hostages back. On Horizon, I found the Collectors Ship but Shepard came too late to save anyone. On that occasion I also met Kaidan, that fella from my old team that survived when Ashley had to be sacrificed, and  as I was just happy to see another of my old comrades he behaved like an idot and abandoned his old commander. Charming, I’m not coming back to save you this time… At least Garrus was still my best buddy and staying by my side. Somewhere in between the whole recruiting, side questing, and resource gathering I also decided to stop by at the good old Citadel. That place had always felt a little bit like home in ME1. Now most of it wasn’t accessible anymore and I was forced to move in the neon-lit, dark areas. Only when visiting counselor Anderson in his bureau one could have a look at the bright bridges and houses like in former times.

So then, off I went to recruit some more team members. On the fancy metropolis planet Illum I found two new members: the Asari justicar Samara and the drell assassin Thane, whom I liked from the first time I saw him. His species was rare and fascinating and he had good personality. Afterwards, because the Illusive Man has to act out his authority every once in a while, my men and me went onto a Collector’s Ship to gather information. And surprise, surprise, it was a trap. After what seemed like a hundred enemy waves, Shepard and company finally managed to escape the deathtrap. And I was pissed. I knew that’d I’d take the first opportunity to backstab or disobey the Head of Cerberus as soon as it was given to me.

Before I dealt with the next suicide mission he gave me I recruited another one of my old team members, Tali. Alas I didn’t know about that fortunate turn of events, otherwise I wouldn’t have started a romantic relationship with Jack but at that point it was already too late. The Cerberus mission faded into the background even more as I dealt with every member’s personal issues to gain their loyality and got around in the galaxy a bit more. Unfortunately Miranda and Jack had a bitchfight and I took Jack’s side of course. After all the things I had done for her and her sister, Miranda stopped being loyal to me and, as it later transpired, that messed up everything. So, with at least 3 people from the old crew and Thane I was confident to go get the Reaper IFF System for the Normandy SR-2 so that I’d be able to enter the Omega 4 Relay. My team got onto a derelict reaper which didn’t seem to be a good idea in the first place anyway. Luckily I managed to get off unharmed and even recruit yet another team member, the Geth named Legion. He quickly became loyal to me and this I felt I was ready to embark on the final mission. But the developers didn’t let me yet.

Shepard and his people left the ship for some reason while the IFF installation was running. But the world of Mass Effect is, of course, still cruel.. During that time the Collectors hijacked the Normandy and took the team hostage. I was able to play as a limping Joker that had to turn off EDI’s security lock and restart the core of the ship while trying to remain undetected. That was a moment when my heart was racing like crazy and I was shouting non-stop.”This can’t be happening!” Seeing how they were dragged away while screaming in terror. I wished I could have done something. When me and my team returned everyone but Joker was gone. Now I couldn’t hesistate any longer and entered the Omega 4 relay to go make the Collectors pay. And that is where the final mission truly began, as well as my nervous breakdown. Thanks Bioware.

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I knew from the first game that there probably  were one or two sacrifices that would have to be made but deep down in my heart I wasn’t prepared to let anyone die. Not again.But everthing went wrong. Inside the Collcetor’s Ship you had to assign tasks to every member every now and then and of course I didn’t pick the ones that were the most precious to me, like the first game had taught me. How could I have known that ME2 would do everything differently? Only very few members of the human hostages had survived which made me extremely sad. What followed was the constant splitting up and the fear of losing a team member, I was so on edge. And then it started. Legion died. Grunt died. Miranda died. And even worse, Thane also didn’t make it. When I saw him being dragged away by these Collector Swarms I first was in disbelief but as I realized what had happened it was hard for me to move on. Yet I had to. Mass Effect loves to destroy me and that’s what I love about the games but i also hate it.

I believe I fought the end boss with Garrus and Tali by my side. The final enemy was a humanoid Reaper that looked like the Terminator. I decided to destroy it, mainly because it opposed to the Illusive Man’s orders and just seemed the most logical thing to do. It wasn’t particularly hard but I wouldn’t call it easy either. The rest of my team got out alive and mentally prepared to face the Reapers that were announced to be in the next game. After that mission I was emotionally dead and as the credits roled I sang “Amazing Grace” in rememberance of Thane and the other guys.

At a later point I replayed ME2 so I could save my entire team and also start dating Tali. That second run calmed my heart and let me make amends for the failures in my first run, because to me, losing your crew truly is the worst thing that can happen in Mass Effect.

However, despite how much I felt in the second game I never got over the fact that I didn’t have my old team anymore. I loved my comrades from ME1 so much. And although I was able to have another encounter with Wrex, Kaidan and Liara I still missed them a lot on my ship. Story-wise the game was still great, the graphics improved a lot and the fact that you could do a data transfer was what impressed me the most. Mass Effect 2 really made me realize how much I had become attached to the first game…What disappointed me a lot at that time was the German dub of the game. The content wasn’t the problem. But they changed almost everyone’s voice actor (except Garrus’ and Joker’s). I had gotten used to all the voices, why change them now and destroy some of the atmosphere with it? Of course you get used to them again but it doesn’t seem very reasonable, especially concerning the protagonist. A fun fact was that they also started to pronounce words differently than in the first game, while in ME1 the Geth were still [ɡeːt] and Saren was still [zɑːʀən] they had now switched to the English versions. That is actually an improvement but apparently they never heard of the word consistency.

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