Tag Archives: Mass Effect 2

A return to where it all began in Mass Effect

playing mass effect one more time

With 2012 coming to a close, there’s naturally a whole bunch of “game of the year” talk, with Mass Effect 3 popping up in various ways and categories. Some are for it, some are against it, some loathe its very existence, and some, like me, still haven’t even played it. More on that topic later this month. Regardless, the third entry in the franchise–and the Shepard trilogy–certainly created a response. Loyal fans were disappointed, new players felt confused, some players were pleased nonetheless, a cut devoted themselves to the multiplayer only, some grew angry, some took anti-depressants, some began to eat more junk food, and so on.

So, what am I doing to get in on all of this hot discussion? Playing through the original Mass Effect for a second time…duh.

Earlier this year, I finally took a Big Boy step forward and experienced Mass Effect 2, which was long overdue. Overall, I was not wowed with Shepard’s second adventure, finding the recruiting of crew members to be more akin to checking off a list, but still enjoying all the lore and dialogue and even the scanning mechanic. But I felt a disconnect, probably because it had been so long since I played the original game, as well as that I was unhappy in a number of choices I had previously made. Sure, I could’ve just started fresh in Mass Effect 2, selecting a bunch of choices then and there, but that didn’t feel genuine. And with all the talk about where Shepard started and where Shepard ended, I’ve been itching to go back and remember.

Now, according to my Achievements list, I first completed Mass Effect in May 2009. I dipped back into it some seven months later, continuing on a second playthrough with my first created Shepard with hopes of, I guess, seeing more and hitting that magical Level 60. Think I upped the difficulty level, too, which really built up a wall between me and progress. However, I really wanted to start fresh, and so I constructed my first female Shepard, gave her some pretty red hair, a mean scowl, a whatever background story, and labeled her as an Infiltrator to mix things up. So far, the class has been a little tough to learn, especially since using sniper rifles is extremely difficult from the get-go, with instability a key factor in my missing many headshots. It’s a weapon I’d like to get really good at sooner than later, letting my teammates (Garrus and Wrex) move in with assault rifles and shotguns and special abilities while I hang back and pick off the stragglers.

I’m playing Mass Effect for a second time slowly, mostly because I missed a ton of content my first time through. Think I was just rushing overall. I know this because I didn’t unlock any of the Achievements for experiencing most of the game with X and Y, as well as the one for just seeing a majority of the game. I know for a fact I skipped nearly all the missions on the Citadel, more excited to get out in space and visit alien planets. This time, I’ve spent a majority of my playthrough on the Citadel, running around and solving problems for quest givers. Can’t seem to find two Keepers though. Only just became a Spectre and started exploring the galaxy; I’m staying away from the main storyline planets for now, taking the uncontrollable Mako around on undiscovered planets for side missions and such.

Part of the “playing it slow” tactic has also earned me a new Achievement, one I initially missed on my first playthrough. See here:

mass effect scholar ach
Scholar (25G): Find all primary Alien: Council Races, Extinct Races and Non-Council Races codex entries

To end for now, Mass Effect has some of the greatest music and most infuriating music this side of the biz. The title screen and galaxy map tunes are beautifully calming, and the chomping, dark-as-space riff that plays when you die is just adding salt to your open wounds. I’ve already heard it three or four times, and I never want to hear it again, but know that I will continue to. Technically, it’s pretty rough, hitching up constantly on the Xbox 360 and with lots of mid-level loading and sketchy framerates. That’s still all pretty excusable when you get to have a fantastically written conversation with someone, playing both the good and evil side of things, and learning everything you can in one big gulp.

I’ll be back if any more thoughts come to mind for Mass Effect, and you can probably expect me to play Mass Effect 3 some time in 2013.

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2012 Game Review Haiku, #8 – Mass Effect 2

Making space friends for
A true suicide mission
All survived, big deal

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Achievements of the Week – The Blood Oath for a Paramour Brawler Edition

Achievements, Achievements, Achievements. They came in droves this week from one game, and I just happened to ping another during my lunchbreak. Go me.

All right, let’s just do this.

From Mass Effect 2…

If you’re a daily reader of Grinding Down, then you know this week was my “falling back into Mass Effect 2 hard and now need to beat it like woah” week. And, uh, in the last week, I’ve unlocked 26 Achievements for the game. You can see others by clicking the links in the previous sentence. Here are a few more that I liked, too.


Paramour (50G): Successfully pursue a relationship with a teammate

Shepard totally got some grinding action from Miranda before the suicide mission went forward, and it was awkward and silly, as these sequences often are, but whatever. Good for them. My biggest gripe was that Miranda was in her white outfit instead of her darker one I earned from gaining her loyalty. At least she wasn’t wearing it for too long…


Brawler (10G): Shoot and kill 20 enemies while they’re knocked back by a punch


Weapon Specialist (15G): Fully upgrade a weapon

From The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…


Blood Oath (10G): Become a member of the Circle

Just working my way down the questline for The Companions. Ah-woooo!

That’s it. I have a friend visiting this weekend and a family dinner to go to so I don’t expect too much gaming time to happen. And then I’ll be drawing comics all week to finish up my 31 Lovingly Bad Love Comics challenge. I do, however, have an itch to go back to Dragon Age: Origins or L.A. Noire, but we’ll see. Still have a ton of games to play on Steam and such.

For now, my Shepard has saved humanity throughout the galaxy from certain annihilation

With not much left to do in terms of side missions for Mass Effect 2, I decided it was high time Commander Shepard and his crew ate their last meal of space turkey and jumped deep into unfriendly territories, to go on what everyone kept calling “a suicide mission.” The Collectors were just past the Omega 4 Relay, and it seemed like we were ready; all members on my crew were labeled loyal, and all upgrades for The Normandy were purchased. We only had to move our feet. And so we did, grim and quiet, kickstarting the end of all things.

And it was…an okay final fight. Kind of underwhelming, really. I went in as virgin-like as possible, not knowing much of the specifics, just that any or all team members could die during these explosive events. My goal, despite how uninterested I was in many of my squadmates, was to keep everybody alive, including my simian Commander Shepard. Just had to watch out for those husk swarms, as melee takedowns was not a strong point.

But first, here’s all the end-game Achievements that popped in a nice succession:


Suicide Mission (50G): Use the Omega 4 Relay


Against All Odds (15G): Survive suicide mission


Long Service Medal (75G): Complete Mass Effect 2 twice, or complete it once with a character imported from Mass Effect 1


Mission Accomplished (125G): Save humanity throughout the galaxy from certain annihilation


No One Left Behind (75G): Keep your team alive through the suicide mission

Um…whew. That’s a lot of Gamerscore all at once, more or less. But as you can see, I was very successful on this final mission, kept myself alive, and kept everyone on my team alive. Honestly, after looking up exactly all the number of things that could go wrong on the suicide mission and everything that is taken into consideration, I am surprised I did so well. I mean, I just played the same way I played for the whole game (around 23 hours or so), using my supped-up assault rifle and a ton of Unity and Incinerate and Heavy Overload. When it came time to picking specific squad members to do certain tasks, I went with the obvious choices: Tali for crawling through tubes, Garrus for leading the side-team, Jacob for escorting the miscellaneous crew back to the ship, and Samara for creating a strong biotic barrier. And they all survived. As did my personal two squadmates–Mordin and Miranda–though my brain almost burst during that last boss fight, which is pretty ridiculous.

But yeah, the team and Shepard is alive–and is also done. Other than some story elements and all of the world’s lore, I did not enjoy a ton of Mass Effect 2, and if memory serves me right…I did not have a fantastic time with Mass Effect. There’s a lot to like, but ultimately, it’s not my kind of RPG-in-space. I really dislike the repetitive nature of starting a mission, running down a hallway, encountering enemies, and rinse/repeating until you reach the end, where you have to then make a Big Choice™. Chances are very high that I won’t be moving on to Mass Effect 3, certainly not any time soon, though I am curious to learn how the story plays out. Might just have to spoil myself down the line.

Team members in Mass Effect 2 are more like check marks

Over the weekend, I made a brown dwarf-size dent in Mass Effect 2, and now all I want to do is play Dragon Age: Origins all over again. Or maybe redo some cases in L.A. Noire. Or go through The Blackwell Deception one more time in commentary mode. I’m closing in on the “suicide mission” part, and all I want to do is walk away. It has nothing to do with fear. Rather, disappointment. Who cares about surviving a suicide mission if you don’t care about anyone by your side? Let me explain.

Mass Effect 2 is all about building a team. The Illusive Man hands over a number of dossiers to Commander Shepard, which show you the who and where to go parts, and then you’re off to recruit this person deemed vital for your team’s survival in taking on the Collectors. Fine, I’m cool with that. After all, I got every 108 Stars of Destiny in Suikoden and Suikoden II (missed a few in Suikoden V), so I know all about getting people to join one’s cause, no matter how insane it sounds. Recruiting a team member for Mission Impossible generally requires a quest where you go down a hallway through a series of similar-looking rooms, hide behind stuff, shoot enemies, and then chat for a bit with your target. I kid, but only slightly. A few have mixed things up like avoiding sunlight or toxic gas while going down those hallways and rooms. After that, you’ll more or less repeat this process to earn said team member’s loyalty.

I think I’ve already said this, but if I haven’t, well, here it is again: I dislike the shooting aspect of Mass Effect 2. The game’s appeal has and always will be from its lore and characters and the way these alien races interact with one another. And these characters, these people I’ve gone out of my way to get on my team, they do little when actually on a mission besides a side-handed comment here or there, unless they are pivotal to the mission at hand. See, in Dragon Age: Origins, companions talked all the time, about the world at large and how the Chantry sucks and thoughts on dwarven history or the Taint and so on. When you made Big Boy decisions, everyone around you made sure you knew how they felt, which only served to enhance their personalities and my desire to see them happy (or unhappy). The same does not apply in Mass Effect 2; there is no sense of “we’re all quite different, but we have to stick together.”

So far, nobody has reacted in a big enough way to some of Shepard’s choices, most which were along the Paragon path, but I did slip a Renegade action in there once or twice. On each mission, whether it is a recruiting one or just a side quest, I switch out one of my party members constantly, keeping Miranda always for her Warp and Heavy Overload skills. Grunt, Jack, Jacob, Mordin–I’ve tried each one at Shepard’s side. And I’ve come to the realization that I could’ve swapped out any team member for a paper bag, and nothing would’ve changed–so long as that paper bag shot a gun and had a few abilities to select. Harsh, maybe. But I expected more.

Case in point: the Ghost Ship. Oh, and there be spoilers starting in the next sentence. Basically, the Illusive Man backstabs the team and sends them into a trap, but the only people vocal about it are Joker and the ship’s AI. You’d think that, given her relationship to Cerberus, that Miranda would have some strong words–more than a handful–but no, not really.


Ghost Ship (25G): Complete the investigation of a derelict alien vessel

I don’t know. Commander Shepard has now been prompted that we can go through the Omega 4 relay, but I said something along the stupid lines of “gotta build up the team some more.” Just because I want to get everybody for the sake of being a completionist. Given all the hype and worriment that a suicide mission carries, I have to say that I am really not invested in most of my side-mates. And I’ve tried. I talk to them between missions, exhaust dialogue choices, and so on. I try, dang it. But they don’t want to represent themselves as more than check marks–the warrior, the thief, the techie, the cheerleader–and so they seem artificial in nature, and inanimate objects can’t die because they never were alive to begin with.

Achievements of the Week – The One Step Ahead Decapathon Champion Edition

Last week, I promised more variety in the Achievements I unlocked for this week, and–surprise, surprise–I actually came through and unlocked a bunch in three completely different videogames. Go me. No, really. Slap me friendly on the back because sometimes, and I don’t really understand this, it appears nearly impossible in my mind to switch out game discs inside my Xbox 360. Like I’m kicking one kid to the curb for another. Plus, the longer I leave a disc in my Xbox, the better the chance I’ll stick with it to the end. Maybe that’s a topic for another time though…

But yeah, here. Check ’em out.

From Rage…


Decapathon (15G): Get 10 Headshot kills with the Wingstick

The Wingstick is one of the more crazy cool weapons in Rage. It’s basically a boomerang of death, and tossing it into a room is sure to get the chaos (and heads) a-rolling. I spend most of my time constructing these from scrap.

From Mass Effect 2…

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about who I just got on Commander Shepard’s team, as well as earning one person’s divine loyalty. But I did get two more Achievements as I worked my way across the galaxy. See, see:


Colony Defense (25G): Defend a human colony from attack


Explorer (10G): Visit 100% of the planets in an unexplored cluster

Isn’t “Explorer” one of the more common names for Achievements? I feel like I’ve seen it many times before, probably in Fallout 3 and Dragon Age: Origins.

From Marvel VS. Capcom: Fate of Two Worlds…


One Step Ahead (30G): Land 50 First Attacks in a match. (Arcade/Xbox LIVE only)


Champion Edition Hero (30G): Earn 30,000 Player Points (PP).

Nothing too exciting about these. Just making progress as I try to beat the game with everyone on Very Easy with 30-second round matches. Yeah, I’m that guy.

And that’s going to do it for this edition of  Achievements of the Week. How did y’all do over the past seven days? Any cool accomplishments you’d like to share? If so, do it below.

Gathering allies and gaining loyalties in Mass Effect 2

So, with all this talk as of late about Mass Effect 3 and its on-disc DLC data drama, many “bad ending(s)”, and uninspired multiplayer, I myself have been inspired to give Mass Effect 2 much more time and affection, and it’s been kind enough to love me back with a jolly old time. Currently, my Commander Shepard is working hard to build a team unlike any other in hopes of getting through the Omega 4 Relay–and making it out alive. Which, starting around the nine hour mark, felt a little fast, but I guess there’s still plenty more to do before we all take the final plunge. Anyways, here’s who I’ve picked up recently:


The Convict (10G): Successfully recruit the biotic Convict


The Assassin (10G): Successfully recruit the Assassin

For getting Jack the biotic on my team, I replayed the level from the demo, so it was all quite familiar and lacked a certain punch, but still, at least this time I completed the mission without dying. Go me. Getting the assassin to join up on The Normandy was a brand new experience, with a nice twist at the end. He kind of reminds me of an evil Nightcrawler from X2: X-Men United, the way he kills and respects religion all at once. Looking forward to learning more about him for sure.

Oh, and I also got Miranda really on my side, doing her loyalty mission right away and successful at that. See here:


The Prodigal (10G): Gain the loyalty of the Cerberus Officer

Yeah, I’m totally getting sucked back into the lore and world-building of Mass Effect. To me, it’s so much more interesting than the combat, which isn’t bad, but involves maybe a little too much hiding behind boxes, but the stuff that really excites me is learning more about the mono-gendered asari and how they live for thousands of years. Or the deep connection between a drell and a hanar. Or the regenerative abilities of vorcha. Or space racism. Or just how vast the Terminus Systems are. I don’t know. This stuff is so big and expansive, and I eat up every dialogue option I can to learn more, more, and more.

Also, I like the planet scanning. There, I said. Finding a planet, reading about its atmosphere and attributes, and scanning it for resources feels…right. I’ve read some hatred on this aspect of Mass Effect 2, but if there’s something to hate with passion, it should be the choppiness of some dialogue sequences, not searching the galaxy for vital substances. Also, I wish that, like in Dragon Age: Origins, party members commented more on what was happening around them. I switched out my characters often enough, but nobody got personally involved in anything that was happening except for Miranda when I promised Jack she could have full access to Cerberus’s databases–and even then, it was just a remark of distrust and nothing more.

I had to stop playing last night in order to get some decent hours of sleep, but I just found an anomaly on an undiscovered planet and am looking forward to seeing what becomes of this mission. The Normandy‘s AI mentioned something about upgrades to those that use biotic powers. Fine by me. I have not yet really settled on a team I’m comfortable with, though Miranda is always at my side for her Warp and Overload skills. I’ve got a ton of missions in my quest log, including more dossiers for recruiting and loyalty missions for those already on board. I’ll report back soon on how all of this goes. Shepard, out!