Monday, February 15, 2016

Mother Gamer Plays The Mass Effect Trilogy Part 2: Mass Effect 2

I finished Mass Effect 2 and I have to say it was pretty amazing. Continuing the story that was started in Mass Effect, it definitely led in with a huge bang. I imported my save from the first Mass Effect so I played as my female Shepard. The Normandy gets attacked and is about to crash and blow up and Shepard gets everyone out, but then dies of asphyxiation from a suit breach. Seeing Shepard die really sucked. I thought, wow how is this going to turn out? What are we going to do without Shepard? It turned out that others like Liara had thought of that and Shepard was resurrected by Cerberus two years later. I really had an issue with that. I mean Cerberus was the group that Shepard was fighting in Mass Effect 1 because they were doing some pretty unethical and dangerous things. The deal is Shepard doesn't have to work for Cerberus, she can work with them and with their leader the Illusive Man and she's in charge. I didn't trust him at all. He seemed so shifty and it always felt like he was never telling the whole truth. I do have to give credit to Martin Sheen for giving a great performance as the Illusive Man.

The Illusive Man, very ominous. 

Shepard is needed once again to save the galaxy. Human colonists are disappearing and Shepard is sent to a colony that has recently been attacked. This means you get a brand new ship, the Normandy SR-2. It has even more upgrades and looks amazing and comes with a computer AI known as EDI. Shepard and a couple of new companions explore the colony and discover that the Reapers are working through an insectoid species known as Collectors who are abducting the colonists.

A new ship with all the bells and whistles. 

Now Shepard must gather a team to stop the Collectors and save everyone. There are some familiar faces that return from Mass Effect 1 such as Joker, Tali, Garrus, and Liara. My Shepard had a romance with Kaidan so he made a brief cameo where he hugged her and then yelled at her a lot for dying, then being alive, and not telling him. Look, I understand why he had all those emotions but Shepard was dead and didn't exactly have time to let everyone in the galaxy know. They had Shepard hit the ground running after resurrection with this whole save the universe scenario. Kaidan doesn't stick around of course because he's Alliance and he hates that Shepard is working with Cerberus.

Shepard with her shore party. Hey look Garrus is back!

There is even more to do and see in Mass Effect 2. Scanning all the planets for materials is important so you can fully upgrade the Normandy because it has a hand in how successful you are in your mission for the final battle. This also leads to side quests that give you materials for upgrading weapons and armor which definitely helps with the final mission as well. There are also loyalty personal quests to do for your companions which should be done so that your team is completely loyal to you because it ups the chances of everyone surviving at the end. I thought it was great that they added the Cerberus Network Pack download for free which gives you some very cool Blood Dragon Armor as well as a cool weapon. It also gives you the Firewalker side quests and a new companion Zaeed. They also offered the Stolen Memory DLC for free which gives you another new companion with Kasumi.

The Blood Dragon armor is very cool. 

The combat system seems to be much better here and upgrading the skills give Shepard some pretty cool ammo choices such as cryo ammo and incendiary ammo. Healing seems to be a bit more streamlined with the idea that you need to get behind cover until the meter for your shields charges up. It does make you plan out your tactics a little more carefully during a battle. The hacking mini game is also a lot better here and easier to do with the door hacking and the code hacking. It was a refreshing change from Mass Effect 1. The environments are great and exploring space, seeing the variety of planets and other systems in the galaxy are beautifully done. Sometimes it can be hard to see planets on the map because they can be quite small, but I found that doing another pass around would highlight where it was so I knew where I needed to go. The story in Mass Effect 2 is even better than the first and you get to see a bit more depth to Shepard and Shepard's companions. I especially liked Tali's personal quest because it showed a little more of her and who she is. There are romance options in here also and Shepard can either choose to continue the romance from Mass Effect 1 or start fresh with a new romance here.

Get into cover, shoot, rinse, and repeat. 

The side quests for Firewalker were alright. There were a couple of pretty good ones especially one that was interesting with a bit of a dark story to it that brings up the question of ethics in science and technology. I was glad the Mako was gone and I didn't have to drive it anymore. However, I found something I hated even more than the Mako which I didn't think was possible. I give you the M-44 Hammerhead. This was an infantry fighting vehicle. Let that sink in for a minute. The Hammerhead is supposed to be an infantry fighting vehicle which is also used for things like mining so it should be able to withstand intense heat and cold. It should be able to fight and be a total badass piece of weaponry. This was not the case at all. Not only could the Hammerhead not do any of those things, it was even worse at maneuvering than the Mako and that's saying something. If you got hit too many times, you'd blow up and have a mission failure. Factor in the fact that you can not save at all while in the Hammerhead and you're left with an insane level of frustration. There should have at least been an autosave in this piece of junk. It also made me wonder why they even bothered making a new vehicle if they couldn't at least improve upon it and make it better than the Mako. This really missed the mark and they should have just skipped creating it altogether. The Normandy is better than the Hammerhead any day.

The Hammerhead, even worse than the Mako. 

The final battle is all kinds of intense, but it is incredible and great. My Shepard was a Paragon so there was no way in Hell I was going to let the Illusive Man have anything. Sure, I made him angry and he didn't like it one bit, but I think one of my companions had a point when they brought up the fact that maybe down the road the Illusive Man would try to create his own Reaper. There were just too many variables and unknowns about him that I felt my Shepard could not trust. The choice I made was the best one for my play through. The ending was fantastic and gave a bit of foreshadowing towards Mass Effect 3.  Of course, there are a myriad of choices that lead you down the Paragon path or the Renegade one. It's entirely up to you as you work on saving the galaxy and everyone in the Mass Effect universe. Mass Effect 2 definitely is better than the first one because of the characters and because the story is even more intense and developed giving you even more insight into just how vast and powerful the enemy that Shepard is fighting really is. It's worth playing and a lot of fun to play. Now, I'm ready for Mass Effect 3!

Mass Effect is playable on these platforms: PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3

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