Spoiler Warning S4E26: The Best Plan in the Universe

By Josh
on Jan 19, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

All the joking about the insanity of shooting our way up a tower just so we can meet Thane in the middle of a job aside, this is totally a Cuftburt plan and therefore I am 100% behind it.

It’s just too bad I can’t steal absolutely everything on my way up.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!9209 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. Raygereio says:

    Talking about Josh making it look easy; what difficulty are you really playing on. Josh? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insulting your Internet-cred, or anything and you are putting up a nice show of what otherwise would be a fairly boring to look at cover shooter.

    But when I tried playing like that even on normal difficulty, I got my ass handed to me on a sliver platter.

    • Josh says:

      It is actually on normal, despite the insinuations of the rest of the cast. Heavy Charge is a phenomenal ability – recharges your shields nearly to full and slows down time for a few seconds. And it has a very short recharge time (which I could shorten even more if I actually decided to put points into the assault mastery skill). At this point, most of my deaths are caused either by me jumping into the middle of so many people that I get killed nearly instantly, or the charge targeting fuzzing out and not letting me charge when I should be able to.

      Also, shotgun refire > shotgun damage.

      Of course I doubt this holds true at insanity level gameplay, but I don’t have any real desire to punish myself by playing that.

      • Kanodin says:

        You will never convince me that hitting each mook 4 times is better than the claymore.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Playing Vanguard on veteran and above is basically for people who *really* like to see the “CRITICAL MISSION FAILURE” screen, over and over again. Or maybe I just really suck at the whole playstyle.

        • Sydney says:

          Behold a Vanguard on Insanity.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6iFgMXwd1Q

          He’s even more Charge-happy than Josh. Fucker whips a Geth Prime face to face.

          • Desgardes says:

            He loses points for having Miranda, but gains points for the sweet visor. Geordi Laforge, Spectre

            • Deadpool says:

              Miranda’s passive boosts HP and weapon damage for your whole squad. Most high level builds depend upon that extra bit of damage to allow more one-hit kills…

              • Desgardes says:

                This is the Mass Effect universe. I need none of your petty logic. Only what looks good and is awesome.

              • Dude says:

                Not to mention that she has both Warp and Overload. Miranda just needed a better angle (and I don’t mean the rear view angle, shut up!) so that people wouldn’t think she was too boring to take along.

                • Raygereio says:

                  Man, I got the be the only one here that was okay with Miranda. Sure, she was far from being the most interesting character around. But I have no specific loathing for her.
                  There are other, far worse thing in ME2 that deserve my ire and considering that there’s only so much hate to go around, I’ll reserve it and not waste it on a character that was mediocre.

                • Markus says:

                  I am actually okay with Miranda as well. Don’t quite get why people hate her that much?

                • Desgardes says:

                  It won’t open the reply tree anymore, so, to answer your question, Markus, it was always more of a case of swing-and-a-miss for me. From a story perspective, I resented her being Cerberus, from a character perspective, building an ubermensch always seemed like a misappropriation of useful resources, and so it drives me nuts when “perfect” people ever exist, from a play perspective, I never played on insanity, so her place on the ground team was never necessitated.

                  Plus, the face…… Like I said, swing-and-a-miss

                  EDIT: I am using the more colloquial association of ubermensch here, not what was originally intended.

                • Deadpool says:

                  Also, the game was just pushing her onto me a little too hard for my tastes…

                  Still, I have to accept her as the best party member for several builds. Now, the damage boost she gives is percentage based, so it’s more pronounced for Sniper Rifles and Shotguns than for SMGs and Assault Rifles, so Infiltrators and Vanguards get a LOT more out of it.

                  If Josh were to suffer through her annoyance he probably wouldn’t be running out of shotgun ammo… But what fun would that be?

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  @Markus
                  Like someone said before,its because miranda is mary sue.She goes on and on how shes built to be this perfect human,super smart and super hot,but she never shows those attributes.Shes just bland.Sure,she has a nice body,but thats not the only thing that makes a woman beautiful.

                  And compare her with grunt,who is also a genetically engineered thing.He never boasts how he is the prefect krogan,super strong,or super fast,and he is great.Its that boasting that makes miranda such a lame character.

                  EDIT:whoops,thanks for that acronix.

                • acronix says:

                  @Daemian:

                  My force powers tell me that by Wrex you mean Grunt.

          • Alexander The 1st says:

            Ahahaha – he stands right next to the pillar when it’s set to go.

            Miranda: “That should do it. I recommend we move clear.”

            Shepard: “Nah, I’m going to set the charges off with my face. I didn’t set the timer – I can do it manually – I’m just that good.”

            Guy doesn’t know the meaning of Cover-based shooter. Which makes the game look REALLY fun to play.

          • Specktre says:

            Oh yeah I’ve seen this dude before!

            This guy has a whole Vanguard 101 thing on the Mass Effect forums with really good builds and how-to’s. Really helpful. I tried to get Josh to look at the link (even though I knew it was a longshot), but I guess it ultimately doesn’t matter.

      • Aldowyn says:

        It just offends my sensibilities to have a rapid-fire shotgun.

        Even though I always liked the Eviscerator, you did manage to convince me to try it again, though.

        Also, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t play on anything but Insanity. It gets annoying sometimes, but I’m much better with a Soldier than with a Vanguard. (I’ve seen people who were considerably impressed I beat ME2 on Insanity with a Vanguard.)

      • John Magnum says:

        Josh, have you been doing research and upgrades and stuff behind the scenes and cutting it? I know you pick up a lot of upgrades for your weapons, but I haven’t seen whether or not you’ve actually spent the resources on them. Since you haven’t been mining on camera, and this isn’t a New Game Plus where you start with buttloads of every resource, I guess probably not.

    • RTBones says:

      I actually wondered what difficulty setting Josh was playing on myself. Given that this is a production and not “just josh” (5 points if you get that slant reference) playing, I could see for reasons of episod-itry and game flow that that the game might be set to easy. Several of these battles that Josh has just waltzed with Matilda through (polka’d? tango’d? salsa’d? square danced? boot-scooted?) took me significantly longer. Also, for whatever reason, my shields dont seem to last as long as Josh’s. Might could be my play style. Currently replaying the game as a Vanguard for the first time – thanks for taking THOSE hours of my life away, SW cast – so that may also have something to do with it.

  2. Dante says:

    I watched it twice just to hear Ruts and Josh do the hound eyes sound again.

  3. Josh R says:

    grr you do know that opening and closing a weapons locker restores all ammo right?

  4. Sydney says:

    This recruitment mission was the worst immersion-breaker in the game.

    All the others involve you walking into a relatively stable situation. Mordin’s clinic is besieged. Tali is trapped in a dead end. Samara’s looking for leads. Archangel’s holed up in his bunker.

    This one, though, involves you walking into a dynamic situation that, as we find out, would have resolved itself just fine – and the exact same way – with or without you.

    Why, exactly, couldn’t I just wait for Thane to finish? Sure, we have no chance of stopping him killing someone…but we also don’t have to kill a hundred people ourselves.

    • Bodyless says:

      Because we knew he was there and and he is going for Nassana. If we didnt go there, we would have no idea where to find him. Especially since this was his last job it was the best chance to meet him.

    • Someone says:

      I like how the assassin in question is, very conveniently, sent after a Complete Monster.

      Would have been pretty awkward if he was tasked to kill, say, an old man running an orphanage for sick war veteran puppies.

      • Kale says:

        Didn’t you hear Rutskarn? That’s the next game. You’ll be recruiting one of those veteran puppies and the ally mission will probably involve finding a cure for his/her illness.

      • monojono says:

        Clearly you haven’t played many videogames – assassins are good, upstanding people who only kill bad guys and often help old ladies across the street.

        • Desgardes says:

          Unless they are targeting the player. Then they are even worse than complete monsters.

          • Sydney says:

            Yeah, then they’re random encounters.

            But, in all seriousness. My character was the Shadow Broker’s girlfriend by this point in the game. You’re telling me I can’t find a retired drell on Illium in the half-hour after he completes his hit?

            This reminds me of Shamus’s Plot-Driven Door article. “You need to talk to this assassin dude. He’s currently on a job, and then he’ll retire. Meet him at the top of this building. He’ll only be up there for fifteen seconds, so time this right or you’ll have risked your life for nothing!”

            Um, no. Split up and guard all exits from the building? Tip off the police and have them watch the roof? Put Garrus in a taxi and have him watch the roof, no police needed? Block all but one entrance and guard the remaining one? Have Kasumi cloak and infiltrate the tower alone, and have her talk to Thane on your behalf? Use the enormous resources of Cerberus, the Spectres, and Shepard’s own network of friends and contacts to find Thane after the mission’s over? Get Cerberus to just pay him off like they did with Zaeed? Find another damn assassin?

            No. You’ll take dozens of lives on the off-chance that you bump into the assassin on the top floor, even though he’s a sniper and therefore eminently unlikely to even show up.

          • Hitch says:

            Unless they’re Zevran Arainai and fail so spectacularly and incompetently when targeting the player that you immediately recruit them to join your team.

            • Desgardes says:

              He gets a by, because he wasn’t a bad guy. He was a victim of circumstance. Because he wasn’t bad, you had the option of not murderfying his corpse. Put that against the other assassin you meet, where zevran can leave. He was all bad, so he must die by the end of your encounter.

            • Aldowyn says:

              actually, I got unlucky and happened to suck when he attacked me, so I was stuck for quite a while.

              Of course, I just suck at Dragon Age’s combat. (Hopefully 2 will be better/easier or something than Origins.)

              • Desgardes says:

                I actually, just also was awful. But I’ve made peace with that, and easy mode + two or three mages with frost cone = instant win. You genuinely need nothing else. Well, until they patched it. :( Now you need three mages in rotation. I say easy mode only because then you don’t have to worry about hurting your own guys in it. Or an archer with scattershot or whatever that last skill was in the middle tree, I think. The multi-person stun. I FUCKING HATE THAT SKILL when the bad guys have it.

                • lurkey says:

                  ‘sfunny how this difficulty thingy works both ways: me, I found DA:O mildly challenging on nightmare (+ additional half a difficulty level in a form of 3 mugs o’beer) with three warriors and a gimped rogue (although not on the first run). Cue to me doing smoking pauses every 10 minutes throughout ME2 on easy to stop my hands from shaking out of sheer, helpless frustration.

    • krellen says:

      Without you killing all her mooks, Thane was unlikely to get out of the building alive. Sure, he’d kill Nassana, but he had planned on dying to complete the job. He wasn’t going to “retire”. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory.

      • Deadpool says:

        I came along to say this. I always took this recruitment as a RESCUE mission. Which makes considerable more sense given the situation…

        Now Tali’s loyalty mission… That one annoys me.

        • Irridium says:

          I enjoyed it. Mainly because its always fun bringing Legion along.

          • Deadpool says:

            But why is everyone wearing pressure suits at what’s essentially their home?!?

            • Desgardes says:

              Because they saw Shepard show up in Cerberus’ ship. FINALLY, a real use of notifying people you’re arriving. They had to order people to suit up, because otherwise you’d use your spectre status to wreck their shit. I mean, how would they know you’ve had a falling out with the council?

            • krellen says:

              Because they wear the suits all the time. Bad immune systems are still bad even when you’re only dealing with native viruses. This fact was mentioned in Mass Effect 1.

              • Desgardes says:

                I didn’t think they were bad immune systems. What I always got was that they were unused to the rest of the universe’s. Isolated immune systems, not bad per se.

                • krellen says:

                  Spaceships are sterile environments (the “loading screen” to get on the Normandy in ME1 isn’t entirely fluff; it’s there to show standard ship boarding procedure as well,) so the Flotilla is sterile as well. Quarian immune systems are isolated from everything, including themselves.

                  The codex does mention that Quarians wear their suits even on the Flotilla.

                • Jarenth says:

                  You get to see this in person in Tali’s loyalty mission, if I’m not mistaken.

                • krellen says:

                  I meant in ME1, Jarenth. The issue here is people thinking it’s silly all the Quarians are suited up in that mission.

                • Jarenth says:

                  Yeah no, I follow. I’m just saying, you can see a bunch of Quarians on-board the Flotilla (or a random Quarian ship, at least), and they’re still wearing suits there.

      • Sydney says:

        Don’t make me list all the ways an RPGer could create a diversion.

        And no, “just murder them all” doesn’t count as a diversion.

        Yes, I know we have to be railroaded in a computer game. But it took me 30 seconds to come up with that block of smarter alternative plans up there. It took maybe five seconds before I’d thought up the first one. The collective staff at BioWare couldn’t spare the five seconds to write a better premise for this mission? How busy were they?

        They could have done better than this. I hold up every other recruitment mission as proof.

        • krellen says:

          Killing the mooks is how action shooter heroes create distractions. ME2 is an action shooter game. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

          • Avilan says:

            Not more than ME1 was; the only real difference is that the combat mechanics are not horrible this time.

            • ehlijen says:

              What? ME1 at least had some of the things a real shooter has. Being able to crouch whenever I want, being able to move freely while crouched, not having crouch and run be mapped to the same button, those three things I sorely missed in ME2. I’ll take the combat system of 1 over 2 any day.

      • Audacity says:

        EDIT: Err, just ignore this. I meant to start a new topic.

  5. Eddie says:

    Rutskarn, you should have had the second poetry book that your players read curse them.

    With a curse that forces them to talk only in poems.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      Better yet, have those specific pages be the cursed ones.

      “Oh, what’s that? Page 12 happens to be written in Cthuluthic ruins.”

      Yeah, try and weasel your way with Knowledge(Languages) that.

      • James Pony says:

        I’ve got a poem for you:

        The world is full of magical things
        Perhaps you’ll find a forest that sings
        Or maybe a beautiful moon-lit dune
        Thanks for reading this explosive rune.

  6. Majere says:

    Rutskarn, that poem was a work of true art. It brought tears to my eyes.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    How weird a weapon it is when it can hold more ammo in the chamber than you can have as spare?

    • Gale says:

      My sister once worked on a game called Shellshock 2, an atrocious excuse for an FPS set in the Vietnam war (also zombies). One of the numerous Bad Decisions made in the production of the game was that your ammo reserve was the same for basically every weapon – not the number of magazines, but the number of individual rounds. Whether you were using a pistol, a submachine gun, or a shotgun, regardless of how many bullets each gun could hold, regardless of how much damage each gun did with one shell, the maximum capacity was 95. Which meant that you would constantly be running around trying to scrounge up bullets for assault rifles, when shotguns may have well have had infinite ammo.

      The most egregious example of this was the light machine gun, the weediest example of an M249 I’ve ever seen, which held a 100-bullet magazine capacity. But was still restricted to that same 95-round reserve. That’s right, if the protagonist found a new magazine, he would always take care to reach into the box and remove five bullets from the belt, because he just couldn’t carry any more. Insane.

  8. Zagzag says:

    This plan does seem to make some sense, if Thane is going to disappear immediately after the asassination, which is not the impression that I get from the game, as people seem to know where to find him!
    EDIT: It seems someone has already made this point. That’ll teach me to post without refreshing the page first!

    • Sydney says:

      Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to be dating the Shadow Broker by this point in the game. And that Thane is still going to be on Illium, the man doesn’t have a mass relay in his pocket. And that he’ll be on the top floor of a building and will have to come down somehow. And that we just did a series of favours to the police department. And that we do still have Spectre resources. And the upgraded version of the most advanced ship turian and human engineers could dream up.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      And, the way these games work, there is never a circumstance where you’re too late or too early. If you’re supposed to fight your way up the tower, it won’t matter if you do it in five, fifteen, or fifty minutes of battling mooks. You’ll reach the top just in the nick of time to see the dramatic thing. No play-through will get you up there just in time to see the coroner zip up the body bag and a bunch of cops standing around making notes.

      • Aldowyn says:

        That would be awesome.

        “Oh, I’m sorry, you were the one making all that noise? I was wondering who was taking so dang long… I thought a Spectre would be more efficient than that?”

        OOOOH BUUURN! (slash Lampshade.)

  9. Someone says:

    The variety of arenas in this game is astounding. You get to fight in red warehouses, brown warehouses, reddish-brown warehouses and even blue warehouses.

  10. Vipermagi says:

    This annoys me so. much.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,why not order tali to hack a bot or two?It may be slower then charging with a shotgun,but it is so much fun.

  12. eri says:

    This is one of the nicer-looking environments in the game, and I really like fighting on the rooftops. It’s a shame that BioWare didn’t do more of that, or have more interesting things to do with the quest. Heck, even just having to save Nassana (maybe she’s a Cerberus operative?) and then choosing between letting Thane kill her and joining your party, or trying to protect her and fighting off Thane would have made the boring firefight worthwhile. Too bad “optional party member” is a concept BioWare don’t seem to know anymore – the only time they even justify it in Mass Effect 2 is when the replacement is more or less identical to the original. :(

    • Sydney says:

      Well, in fairness, the endgame sequence could have been made unwinnable if you were allowed to skip party members. “Whoops, we had some deaths in the first leg, now we don’t have any biotics. Game over, I guess.”

      • eri says:

        This can be solved with THE POWER OF GOOD GAME DESIGN. Forgoing a good decision because it will fuck up your later bad decisions is not exactly what I would consider a shining example of competence.

        • Sydney says:

          What’s wrong with the endgame sequence?

          • eri says:

            If your entire endgame sequence relies upon contrivances to explain why every single party member must be there, only to let the player kill them off at their leisure, then it begs the question of why they need to even be there at all. It’d be much more emotionally involving if you had to make a choice as to who would live or die based on your available team members, not just based on your own stupidity (i.e. DURR, LET’S GET SOMEONE WITH NO BIOTICS TO DO THE BIOTICS’ JOBS).

            Plus, it’s pretty dumb to build the entirety of your game around the ending sequence, which most players will likely never see, especially if that means making a lot of stupid decisions for the rest of the game. This only really works if your ending is really, really damn good… Mass Effect 2’s is pretty much the opposite of “really damn good”.

            • Aldowyn says:

              if most players will never see the ending, then they should NOT be playing this game. It’s an RPG, and not even a particularly hard one.

              At least, the way it works is better than most. Those squad mates are actually DOING something, instead of twiddling their thumbs on the ship. And they’re reasonable jobs, too – at least I think so.

      • Sydney says:

        Also, on second thought, the “we don’t have a biotic” case could actually be really interesting. The premise of the game is about building a team that can survive the suicide mission; having it possible to screw yourself by building too weak a team would have been a great realization of that premise.

        • Bodyless says:

          i would not call that good game design: So you made the decision to kill one guy and 20 hours later into the game comes the message: well duh game over since you cannot complete the game because of one decision you made 18 hours before your last save game. hard luck, try again!
          i know some ppl are so masochistic to play such games but expectiong that from a mainstream game is just insanity.

          • Piflik says:

            Well…if it was good gamedesign, it wouldn’t be GAME OVER, but just a different ending.

          • eri says:

            Oh no, how dare we let the player suffer the consequences of their decisions?

            Seriously, what the hell kind of logic is this? If the game tells the player in advance it needs a biotic, and the player forgoes all opportunities to attain a biotic, then that is solely the player’s fault and they should suffer a less-than-perfect ending for it. RPGs should be built around choice and consequence, and a choice is made meaningless if there are no significant consequences. I’d say a game that affirms the player’s choices throughout the entirety of the story rather than just at the very end holds much more emotional impact and depth than one where the only choices affecting the ending are the ones made during said ending.

            And yeah, I certainly wasn’t proposing that the player should lose because of a decision made 18 hours ago. Obviously there’d be multiple endings based on the decisions made, with the most important and influential decisions having their importance telegraphed to the player by some means.

            • Jarenth says:

              Just out of curiosity, does the game ever flat-out state ‘You need a biotic‘ or ‘You need a tech specialist‘? It’s been a while since I played, so I can’t remember, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a warning like that.

              • Someone says:

                It does not. It doesn’t need to, seeing how you don’t have much of a choice.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  even if you did, that’s analogous to playing Dragon Age and saying “Hey, I wonder if I need a mage?”

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Actually,it does.In both in game way,and in a meta way.In game,illusive man tells you that these guys are important and you should recruit them(sure,hes not much of an authority,but he does make a good guess here and there).Out of character,recruiting these guys is a main quest,so of course youll need them at some point.

                • Bodyless says:

                  Well you dont need a mage storywise in dragon age as its totally possible to kill one and let the other leave before then end of the game. You dont really need a mage in combat(only makes the game harder because of the balancing issues) nor do you need a biotic in ME combat.

                  I dont have anything against facing consequences from decisions. but what i hate are hidden mechanics which decide wheter you can finish the game or not. And there would be no way to know in advance that you need certain people. A suicide button which also deletes all your savegames is just as fun as suddenly facing a situation down the road which turns out to be impossible to solve under certain circumstances. Which is zero fun for 99.9% of the players.

                  Also, not even getting an ending because the game didnt let you complete the goals is far worse than just a “not so perfect” ending.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            You mean how if you dont do the loyalty missions,or upgrade the ship you get party members killed of,and can even have shepard die in the end?Nope,thats not bad design.If you were not told that you need these guys,that wouldve been bad design.But you were told,so its your own fault.

            • Bodyless says:

              But it never tells you that you need certain specific guys from that crew to even _get_ to the endboss and fullfill your mission. Sure everyone can die doing so but you still get an ending.
              If a situation suddenly becomes that impossible to solve without going back >1 hour in game time by reloading (and even that would be frustrating) then its just griefing the player because people expect to get an ending even if it sucks(everyone dies).

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Yes it does tell you that.Both the illusive man tells you that youll need these people,and the game makes their recruitments to be main quests.And unlike me1 where they get their use as soon as you get them,and are optional afterwards,these guys are optional after you get them,so you know that their uses will come later.

      • Piflik says:

        Why is getting a worse ending because you skipped part of the main storyline (as far as ME2 had such a thing as a story) unacceptable? If I was lead designer at Bioware, I would encourage giving the player that option…and maybe he even makes it to the good ending regardless, due to his skill…games have to stop holding the players hand all the time…if you don’t want the player to mess up his playthrough, go direct a movie instead of creating a game…

        • Someone says:

          …which is kind of what Bioware did.

          If you could screw up the story like that, reviewers would tear the game apart and all the Gears of Halo players would get upset they didn’t get to win all the aliens and go play Call of Duty instead.

          • Piflik says:

            I doubt reviewers would tear a game apart, that offers choices that actually matter for the outcome (and I’m not talking about good/evil-shenanigans)…

            And when you design a RPG, you shouldn’t try an get the Gears of Halo players to love the game…that’s one reason why ME2 is so mediocre…it is not a good RPG (no story, no choices, next to no RPG mechanics at all) and not a good shooter (not accurate enough, not realistic enough)…the only thing they did well was characterization…at least for most of the characters…

            • Avilan says:

              Again, you are in the minority.

              ME2 is deservedly voted one of the absolutely best games of 2010. In fact, it is one of the best games ever.

              Now, personally taste is one thing, but I don’t really see what you are talking about.

              1. No story? That is blatantly false.
              2. No choices? That is even more false.
              3. No RPG mechanics? I am not sure what exactly an “RPG” mechanic is. A lot of people confuse “Inventory” and “Micro Management” with “RPG” for some reason.
              4. The combat is wonderful. Of course I am of the RPG crowd and has not played an actual shooter since Quake III, but it is the best combat I have ever experienced in an RPG.

              • Piflik says:

                So…whats the Story of ME2? Do you need more than three sentences to describe it?
                Collectors kidnap humans to create a new Reaper…this is not a story, that is a framework to tie some otherwise unrelated recruitment missions together…there is no development, no resolution, nothing to even loosely resemble a story.

                Choices…what choices do you have in the game?
                You can choose between Samara and her daughter (not really a choice since they are essentially the same character)…you can have Party Members die, but only in the endgame (you might consider this a choice, but it is irrelevant, since the game is finished afterwards…yeah yeah yeah…ME3 is coming, but a game should always be valuable on its own)…you can choose between Paragon and Renegade (not a choice…the outcome is essentially the same)…oh yeah, I almost forgot…you can chose to forgo some optional parts of the game to have party members die in the end…and this is actually positive…this could have been a real choice…you save the galaxy earlier (for the time being), but sacrifice some of your friends…but since there is no time constraint whatsoever, this again is not a choice…there is no ambiguity…you miss out on content and the ending is worse…it would have been so much better, if you had to wager your friends’ lives against the lives of hundreds or thousands of humans, who would die, if you take your time to get your friends strong enough to not die when you face the big bad…for example collectors abducting some more colonies, while you do the loyalty missions…this would even give the developers an excuse to scale the difficulty of the endfight with the player…you get more experience, the Reaper has more time for its completion…you both get stronger, the endfight stays difficult…

                RPG mechanic…I am not talking inventory or micro management, I am talking character development, different possibilities to resolve given situations…the only different approaches you have here is if you want to shoot the mooks from afar or up close…

                One reason why ME2 was so highly acclaimed, is that XBox (and PS3) Fanboys praise any exclusive title like the holy grail, just for their exclusivity (just look at Fable 3)…backing down now that ME2 and 3 come for PS3 would require them to think…

                • eri says:

                  I’d just like to commend you for saying effectively everything I wanted to. You have some great ideas about how Mass Effect 2 could have been improved, too. I’ll respond in (relative) short form to Avilan, though.

                  1) Mass Effect 2 has a story, but it’s not particularly complicated or good. I’d honestly say the first Gears of War has greater character arcs and better pacing than Mass Effect 2, which feels like a series of mostly unrelated events bookended by segments to remind us that the Reapers still exist. And you can’t have watched Spoiler Warning a few times without having noticed the dozens of plot holes and contrivances the story requires to even work.

                  2) Choices are only important if they have consequences. In Mass Effect 2, you often have the choice to be a jerk or a saint, but there is rarely any importance to this beyond what your score on an arbitrary meter reads. You don’t get new quests, relationships, party members, abilities, etc. based on your choices. The “choices” in Mass Effect 2 only extend as far as the dialogue; you’re never given a choice in how to solve a problem when in direct control of your character – the only option is violence.

                  3) A role-playing game, at least for me, allows for diversity in problem-solving and character-building. RPGs, unlike action games, tend to include both breadth and depth, rather than only one or the other. The menus, numbers, inventory screens, etc. are not what make an RPG, at least a good one; rather, they exist because they are necessitated by the depth of the game’s design, such that the player can be properly informed as to the implications of their choices.

                  4) Combat in Mass Effect 2 is decent, but there’s very little RPG depth. Character classes fit perfectly into archetypes and don’t allow for all that much variety; you’re basically choosing which special ability you get and little else. Meanwhile, there are basically three types of health meter with corresponding special abilities to take them down… it’s all very rock, paper, scissors. While this is perfectly functional for a shooter, it hardly compares to the depth or breadth of combat systems in “real” RPGs. The recent Call of Duty games, at least in multiplayer, have far, far more RPG-style depth than Mass Effect 2 does.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  Being able to describe the story in 3 sentences isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I would say if you can’t, the story is too complex – you should have a basic plot, which is then fleshed in by the specifics. This is the entire point of archetypes.

                  Also, there is at least one important, actually difficult (if you take out the metagaming, anyway) choice you can make in ME2. Massive spoiler, though. Legion’s loyalty mission, where you have to decide between killing all the heretics or converting them. It’s as gray as Mass Effect is ever going to get, and I am willing to bet it has MASSIVE consequences in ME3.

                • Avilan says:

                  How do the “Lack of options” differ from most other RPGs? I know that the original FO games are often used as shining examples of this, and that might be true, but compared to others?

                  BG1 and 2: You are only allowed to talk your way out of a problem in very rare circumstances. Same with DA:O. And ME1.

                  As for your specific example: Time constraints? Are you really suggesting a timer that would force you to rush through the game ASAP? Really? That would definitely remove ALL options from the game except two: Rush through the game and miss all sidequests, or fail.

                • Kanodin says:

                  I seem to recall Fallout 1 being on a timer, and me doing sidequests. Or a more contemporary example I’ve been playing dead rising 2 since the steam sale, it has an always on timer and some of the fun (and in fairness some frustration) comes from juggling priorities and who you should rescue and so on.

                  Anyway saying that many other rpgs lack choices isn’t really a defense of not having choices ya know.

                • Piflik says:

                  And in what way does the choice on Legion’s loyalty mission affect the game? I guess it will affect ME3…about the same way as the Rachni Queen did affect ME2…

                  And with time constraint I didn’t mean ‘time’s up…BAM!…you loose’ (like Fallout did), but some kind of impact of your noodeling around doing stuff to save/train your squad…it is like the bad guys are just sitting around waiting to get killed…maybe playing a round of tic-tac-toe or two to pass the time just so you can arrive in the nick of time to save the universe…

                  Yes…I know…it’s just like in about all the other games, but if this choice (loyalty missions or not) is the only one in the whole game that does anything besides allocating arbitrary points, then it should damn well matter…my idea wouldn’t even be a real time constraint…you won’t lose, when you do the missions, you just change the possible ending…

                  For example…every three loyalty missions you do give the Collectors time to raid one more colony…you then had to choose which characters you like enough to sacrifice some faceless humans for their survival and at the same time strengthen the endboss…then again, if you are stupid during the final mission, you can still get them killed, even with loyalty…on the other hand, if you’re doing really good (not only good decisions on who does what, but also skillful playing), you can possibly still save some of those, who are not loyal, if not all…you’ll have to decide what is the right decision for you; a higher chance of survival for your team, or less collateral damage, the result of which is reflected in the ending…the really good players can even get both…don’t do any loyalty mission and still save the whole team, resulting in the best possible ending…

                  There is no objectively correct decision…there is some morality in there, ambiguity…and thats why it is a real choice…not a calculation as it is right now…

                  Furthermore it would increase the replay value. You want the best ending, but you also want to see all content, then you have to play it at least twice…or you want to play it again later, but you don’t want to have to do every optional thing there is, because all would die if you don’t, then you can just do that, and you still are able to get a good ending, even the best one possible…

              • Kanodin says:

                You’re really gonna resort to argumentum ad populum?

                1. This series and the comments it’s spawned have shown the manifold flaws of this story, I see no reason to try and collect all of it.

                2. Name one choice you have that affects the plot at all. Things that may affect the sequel do not count.

                3. No Rpg elements is an exaggeration. Greatly diminished from the first game is certainly more accurate. Not only inventory but also you have significantly less skills, and you will get enough points to max out nearly all the skills you do have.

                4. I give ya this one, compared to other cover based shooters it has more options and variety. I, and I would wager many others, just don’t like the genre to begin with.

                Also what everyone else already said.

                • poiumty says:

                  What exactly is the standard to which you’re comparing this game? It’s no Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights (though i’d argue NWN wasn’t better either), but it IS one of the best games of 2009. In the wave of mediocrity that makes up today’s releases, this was a well-worth gem.
                  I’d also argue that the old days of computer RPGs are long gone with today’s incredible cost of production and Bioware’s stubborn refusal to make non-voiced dialogue.

                  Sure, Shamus&co might be tearing it a new one regarding the story, but i take it with a grain of salt. The story didn’t bother me at all the first time around.

                • Avilan says:

                  1 and 2:

                  This is a middle part of a trilogy. This is the Empire Strikes Back. To argue that choices that has consequences in the third part does not count is not a valid argument IMHO. I would even go as far as arguing that the question about choices and impact on the game world is off limits until you have played the third game and see the complete story.

                  3: And I fail to see how skills is a must-have RPG mechanic. The ONLY thing that makes it an RPG, in my opinion, is if you can choose your behavior.

                  Other than this I second Poiumty: What are these “great” RPGs that you compare this to? It is all a matter of personal taste, but I have played both BG1 and 2, Arcanum, FO1-3, PS:T, NWN1 and 2, DA:O as well as playing through ME1 right now.
                  FO1 and 2 are wonderful in some aspects but suffer as much as FO3 from “Reality is brown” and a HORRIBLE interface. The gameplay is really dated now, and that goes for the Infinity engine games as well. NWN1 suffers from basically being an engine with a tacked on “story” as well as being EXTREMELY bad from an optimizing standpoint; it is a system hog of galactic proportions*. NWN2 is marginally better on all accounts but only by a small margin. DA:O is a great game except the deep roads.

                  *The developers put a ton of resources on dynamic lights etc, and left the actual graphics looking like lego pieces.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  1. I love most (well, a lot) of the individual plotlines, but they don’t hang together very well. The entire game is one huge audition preparing for ME3, glued together by the idiocy that is the Collectors. If you disagree with this last part, answer this: What effect do they have on the overall story? What is the situation at the end of ME1, and the end of ME2? The collectors serve as nothing but the impetus for the character round-up, and the entire game is just setting up ME3.

                  2. ME1 blows it out of the water, and DA:O is even better. Actually, the only one I can think of is worse off the top of my head is Oblivion, which is more about WHAT you do, not HOW you do it. (Only counting RPGs) There’s some neat ideas, though, and I’ll wait till ME3 to pass judgment on the series.

                  3. Same as Kanodin, basically. The skills and equipment only seem like they’re not proper RPG parts because other games are taking on RPG elements, and because of the contrast with ME1.
                  Companions with only 3 skills is just wrong, though. So is only having 3 or 4 (on a good day) weapons of each kind to choose from.

                  4. I like the combat. The combining of RPG and Gears-style gameplay elements were a big part of why ME1 was awesome. ME2 made the gunplay MUCH better (especially the intangibles) The problem is, they nerfed the RPG parts to the ground. There is very little tactics to the fighting now – it’s basically just spam your class move as much as possible, and tossing in something else, most of which is, as said above, designed in a rock/paper/scissors manner towards the defenses.

                  See, I like the game, and I like it a lot more when I’m playing it. This is me at my most objective, looking to see what could make it even better.

                  My biggest problem with is is the morality system. The concept is pretty cool, but they failed (epically, in both games, though ME2 is worse) in the implementation. Renegade/Paragon does NOT mean Jerk/Saint, and the way it affects the game is just screwed up. Being a jerk to someone shouldn’t make it easier to intimidate someone, and intimidating someone should most definitely not be an easy button out of ANY situation. The morality should be behind the scenes, only detectable in how the other characters treat you. You sure as heck shouldn’t be able to just automatically pick the top option because you know it’ll be the “nice” one (metagaming FTW! ME is so bad with morality metagaming, it’s just sad.)

                  My final issue with it is a specific example. Renegade is get the job done at any cost, and Paragon is, well, not, right? Well, the final choice of ME1 gives you 3 options: Save the Council, focus on Sovereign, and let the Council die. That’s not get the job done, that’s just plain RACIST. Yet that’s the Renegade option. Tell me how this makes sense?

                  …wow, that was long.

                  *edit* … wow, that was REALLY long. Perhaps I should have summarized and then posted this full version on my blog…

                • Avilan says:

                  @Aldowyn

                  1. Exactly. As I said, ME2 is like The Empire Strikes Back: Offering setups for the third installment, entertaining you in the meantime, but doesn’t rock the boat too much.
                  (And if someone brings up the “Luke I am your father”, I bring up “The Proteans are the Collectors” and then we are even).

                  2. No it doesn’t. ME1’s story is marginally better and everything else is worse. The difference in story quality between ME1 and ME2 is about 0,5 on a ten grade scale, to me (story in ME1: Generic RPG Story SET IN SPACE, 7 / 10. Story in ME2: Generic RPG Story SET IN SPACE, 6,5 / 10). At the same time the interface is worse, the animation is worse, the combat is FAR worse, the MAKO is HELL, etc…

                  DA:O might be more traditional “RPG-ish”, but it is not a better game. It is less fun to play (especially the deep roads). The story is even more generic than the ME1 / 2 games.

                • Piflik says:

                  Calling the framework holding together ME2 a story is a joke…it may be better than half of the other stories of generic cover based shooters, but it is still a joke. On a 10 point scale for stories in games I would give it a 3…maybe 4, but compared to other sci-fi stories (i.e. books) it gets about half a point, when I have a good day…the main storyline of ME2 is like the hardcover, foreword and glossary of a short story collection…

                  And character development…hell…even Deus Ex: Invisible War trumps ME2 in that regard (and I consider it inferior to ME2 in every other aspect)…you actually had to decide what Biomods you want to install and couldn’t just get all of them.

                  Comparing it to other games…well FO:NV comes to mind…yes, it had horrible technical shortcomings, but if you can see past that, you get an RPG magnitudes above anything ME could ever hope to become…well…maybe not magnitudes, but that sounded nice :D…anyway…you have choices to make, like what faction to join, how to resolve certain situations (sneak, talk, shoot) or even take sides in small disputes (Goodspringes as an early example)…you can create different characters that don’t only differ in the comfortable range to kill enemies from…there is a story (still not extremely good) with some (smalish) arc of suspense, a climax, a resolution…in essence all ingredients you need for a story…

                  Or DA:O…that game shows, that Bioware is still able to do it, if they don’t insist on pleasing the Call of Halo crowd…if they can hold it with DA2 remains to be seen, though…but again…you have different classes, different builds for each (some differ more than others), you can talk your way through some (sadly really limited) encounters, you have choices (in the end and some throughout the game) and you have a story here…completely with prologue, exposition, betrayal (no matter how stupid the reason) and a resolution…the different recruitment missions are just as bad as in ME2, from a Main Story point of view, but they are not all the game has and not so numerous…

                  ME1…I’m not a huge fan of that one either, but it still is so much better than ME2 in all regards except graphics…you have a real story here (hunt down Saren -> find out about Sovereign-> try to convince the Council of the reaper threat -> try some more -> save the galaxy…Spoiler, I guess…), you have different classes and you can’t ever hope to get enough skillpoints to max out all skills (at least in one playthrough…I never bothered playing it again)…variety in gameplay is still lacking, though (compared to RPGs), but instead of Corridor -> Fight -> Corridor -> Fight it is more like Corridor -> Fight -> Mako -> Fight -> Corridor -> Fight…the Mako might not be the pinnacle of gameplay, but it still was something else than a CBS…

                  And since you already brought up Planescape: Torment…that is the prime example of everything that can be good in an RPG (well…except for the graphics…but it’s old)…

                  Other games I consider better than ME2 (not only RPGs, but all from 2009 or 2010; I won’t go into detail here, but most have better story, most have better gameplay, some both and all that are RPGs are better at being RPGs, too):
                  Mirrors Edge (Yes, really)
                  Demon Souls
                  Darksiders
                  Red Dead Redemption
                  Alpha Protocol
                  Assassins Creed: Brotherhood
                  Final Fantasy XIII (yes, I mean that)

                  There are more, but I don’t want to bore anyone more than I already have ;)

                  • StashAugustine says:

                    Since this thread is two years old, I won’t launch into an explanation of why I disagree. I just wanna point at “DA:O…that game shows, that Bioware is still able to do it, if they don’t insist on pleasing the Call of Halo crowd…if they can hold it with DA2 remains to be seen, though” and laugh. And maybe cry a little.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  @avilan

                  point 2 was specifically referring to the choices aspect, not the story in general. That’s point 1. Also, what about the combat (at least the gunplay)? ME2 is undeniably less glitchy and smoother, making the basis of the combat much more enjoyable.

                  @Piflik

                  There is a bit of character development, but I admit it’s skimpy. The first game had more than that. Shucks, Pressly has more than ME2! (Retroactively added in ME2, the Normandy crash site, but still…)

                  Technically, only the PC version of Mirror’s Edge came out in 2009, just so you know. And Demon’s Souls is the only other ’09 game on that list… I would have fun discussing the merits and drawbacks of all of those :D

                  Especially Darksiders. On one hand, you’re WAR. On the other, there’s a portal gun.

                • TSED says:

                  “This is the Empire Strikes Back” is NOT a valid excuse.

                  BG2 was the “Empire Strikes Back” of the BG saga (the third piece being ToB) and OH LOOK. These choices matter, even if they railroad you into the directions they let you pick. In fact, ToB doesn’t even make sense if you don’t BG2 it up.

                  And the “well, you can play ToB without playing BG2 and enjoy it” rebuttal is “same goes for Star Wars.”

                  Really, writers on trilogies are just being lazy.

                • Avilan says:

                  @Piflik:

                  I guess YMMV. I do not consider the story being a joke. Of course if you are going to compare to actual Sci-fi literature, which stereotypically tend to be much harder Sci-fi than other media, then we are indeed comparing apples and oranges.

                  Also, I don’t think “character development” has anything to do with “character build options”. Now I am the first to admit that Shepard him/her self doesn’t have much of actual character development, but that is the point of the character. She is the ultimate hardass, like The Man Without a Name, for example. Bioware has made her like this on purpose. As I told Krellen a long time ago, if you don’t want to play an ultimate badass, you are playing the wrong franchise.

                  As for DA:O and choices… again, DA:O is not part of a trilogy. The choices you make will have a small inpact in DA2, but not at all in the same way as in the ME series, since it is a full trilogy where it is completely normal and expected that choices made in part I won’t impact you until the end of part III.

                  The games you give an example of… I haven’t played most of them since I don’t have a console.

                  @Aldowyn: Ah, my mistake; I read it as if you were saying the quality of ME1 in general blow ME2 out of the water.
                  As for combat, that is my point. ME2 is the first RPG where I have truly enjoyed combat on all levels.

                  @TSED: First of all we can argue about whether BG2 was the middle of a trilogy, or the second half of a two-part story that got an expansion.
                  Second… My point is not that all middle parts in a trilogy have less impact on the general story than the other parts, my point is that The Empire Strikes Back is a very good comparison to ME2.

            • Someone says:

              Nobody likes difficulty these days, especially reviewers who have to rush through the game and review it as quckly as possible to meet the publishing deadline.

              Furthermore, nobody seems to care about actual consequences to your choices: I remember half of the Fallout 3 reviews gushed about it’s nonlinear storyline and numerous different endings depending on the choices you’ve made thruought the game.

              • Kanodin says:

                Can’t reply directly to poiumty for whatever reason:
                Mass Effect 2 actually came out in 2010. Alpha Protocol and New Vegas also came out in 2010. In terms of story, choice, and rpg elements they blow Mass Effect out of the water, and probably on smaller budgets.

                • poiumty says:

                  Yeah, sorry, 2010. February 26, dunno what i was thinking when i said 2009.

                  Sure, ‘Protocol and New Vegas. I really enjoyed both games, but let’s be serious here: they were better RPGs, but not nearly as good overall games (New Vegas’s fault is more of a technical one here). I didn’t think the stories were so much better, and they didn’t have any sort of moral dilemma that made me stop and think. Like geth vs quarians, brainwash vs extinction, that sort of thing. Alpha Protocol had mostly character-based choices while New Vegas had very direct ones, the good vs bad moral issues.

                • krellen says:

                  Moral quandaries don’t make a game better. And ME2 failed in so many ways as to take away any values from the ones it had anyway.

                • Kanodin says:

                  How is New Vegas Black and white morality when you have four options on who to side with?

                  I have two issues with the choices in Mass Effect 2. One they are all tangential to the main story, excepting the very last one. Thus while interesting they do nothing to redeem the terrible plot. Second they change nothing, their is no effect to choosing one or the other, they are all story and no gameplay, and they don’t even change the story either.

                  I suppose in short I’m saying that a choice made in a vacuum is not worthwhile to me. It certainly doesn’t excuse the other flaws that were the beginning of this argument and my points of contention. Mass Effect 3 might redeem some of it, but 2 does not hold up taken by itself.

                • poiumty says:

                  @krellen: uh, yes they do. The fact that you can actually sit and think about something in a game adds enjoyment to at least SOME people (that probably aren’t you, i guess, but there’s that). And the only realm ME2 really failed in was the story (that wasn’t remarkable to begin with), the gameplay actually got improved overall.

                  @kanondin: I’ll agree that the major factions choice wasn’t black and white, but most of the stuff in the game revolves around gaining/losing karma, which is a binary decision overall.
                  I get the “irelevant choice” argument, but that’s just another form of saying “the game doesn’t have multiple endings”. And as this is the second part of a trilogy and has a specially-crafted ending, i’m not sure i agree with that complaint at all.
                  Choices could have been more diverse, yeah, the game actually gives me the impression that they cut some corners due to development time restrictions.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  @poiumty

                  Alpha protocol didnt have moral dilemmas because every character in the game is a killer.However,it had much more meaningful choices,and just goes to show that you dont need a black and white slider to make your choices matter.

                  @everyone saying how mass effect has removed so much rpg elements:
                  Alpha protocol perfectly shows how inventory,skills,morality sliders and such are not a requirement for any rpg.Because it is so broken,you can simply remove all these “skill choices” from the game(because picking anything other than pistols and stealth is a waste of time),and still have it as an excellent rpg.

                  These so called rpg elements are not necessary for a good rpg.You dont need numbers for a good rpg.You dont even have to have a good story for a good rpg.What you need is roles that people can play,because its a role playing game.The rest is just a bunch of solutions to a problem of immersing people into different roles.Heck,mass effect 2 is more of an rpg than diablo 2,which is so oriented on classes and skills and loot and numbers,numbers,numbers.

                • krellen says:

                  I’m just going to point out for the billionth time that I don’t think the gameplay of ME2 was improved and I’m really sick of it being thrown around as a tautology.

                  Being a shooter doesn’t mean your game is better, goddammit. Stop going around making statements as if this was true.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  @krellen
                  Yes,being a shooter doesnt make your game better.However,me2 does have an overal better gameplay,not because its a shooter,but because it is more focused on powers than bullets.Plus it has qtes that are actually good,which is almost unheard of in video games.

                  Yes they made a few steps back with clips and probing,but they made a few steps forward with shorter cooldowns,shared inventory and interrupts.Overall,its in the positive.Not much,but enough.

                  Sure,it couldve been a better game,but it still is a good game.Its not a brilliant one but that doesnt make it a bad one either.

                  Oh,and preemptively:Having tedious inventory management isnt integral to an rpg,goddammit.Stop going around making statements as if this was true.

                • poiumty says:

                  @krellen: dude i’m an old-school RPG player from the days of Planescape Torment, do you really think i’d commend ME2’s gameplay just for being Gears of War? It’s not about what it is, it’s about how the combat mechanics are a lot more fun, better-designed and more balanced than its predecessor’s. Remember how ME1 had essentially the same cover-based system but with powers you could use every 60 seconds and really arbitrary accuracy? How they had to design the powers over targetted AoE so you could hit enemies around corners? How you were restricted in which allies to get because you always needed at least a tech specialist?
                  ME2 improved all of these, reduced the clutter in the skill system (replacing “2% more health” with more tangible bonuses that actually made for better decisions) and removed a redundant inventory. That’s why it’s better.

                • Avilan says:

                  @Krellen:
                  Everyone is entitled to their opinion. That said, I am another one of those, as you know, that have played a lot of CRPGs (including FO1 / 2 and PS:T) that find ME2 an improvement over ME1.

                  As for your bolded segment: I have yet to see anyone in this discussion that have actually said that. I do not consider ME2 to be better than ME1 because of the shooter element (which was done in ME1 too, only worse) but because of the following:

                  1. Story: Slightly worse than ME1
                  2. Animations and graphics: Better than ME1 (to be expected, ofcourse)
                  3. Controls: Better
                  4. Combat: Better (not because it unlike ME1 is a shooter, but because it ALSO i a shooter, and done BETTER)
                  5. Characters: Better
                  6. Environments: Better
                  7. NO MAKO (equals better)
                  8. Probing: Very boring, but still better than the MAKO
                  9. No Inventory From Hell = Better

                  This means that despite the story being (very)slightly worse, Every. Single. Other. Factor. is done better in ME2. Hence a better, more enjoyable game.

                • krellen says:

                  1. Much, much worse, not slightly.
                  2. Meh.
                  3. Heavily disagree. I never had trouble having my character do what I wanted in ME1. Often had such trouble in ME2.
                  4. No. It’s just not better at all. Not even close. Instead of being able to put my cursor over the enemy and let my character’s skill kill them, I now have to be good at shooters to play.
                  5. I hate almost every character introduced in ME2. I even hate what the game did to Garrus. Mordin is the exception, not the rule. (Thane’s okay. I guess.)
                  6. No. The environments are now horribly bland. We only ever get to see habitable planets, or buildings. Waist-high walls abound (while ME1’s cover was far more of the “whatever happens to be handy” nature, cover in ME2 is of the blatantly obvious “this is here for cover” nature, absolutely ruining the verisimilitude of the game) and, with the lack of the Mako, interstellar vistas are removed completely. There are no beautiful sights to just see in ME2.
                  7. Expletive deleted. The Mako needed some work; removing it altogether removes the “Exploration” aspect of the game and leads to an enormous net negative.
                  8. Once again, replacing the joy of exploration with a repetitive and largely pointless mini-game is not “improvement”.
                  9. I liked customising weapons and armour and assigning gear to match my play style. A reduction in superfluous gear would have been nice; reducing the entire procedure down to “pick your gun” is not a step in the right direction. Removing the option to assign armour, in addition, gave us the bleeping stupid outfits half the crew wears (particularly Miranda and Jack) – if we still had the ability to assign armour as in ME1, Garrus wouldn’t walk around with a hole in his armour the entire game and Miranda would put some damn pants on.

                  ME2 did everything wrong (and this isn’t nostalgia talking. I last replayed ME2 a month ago, and last replayed ME1 a week after that.)

                • poiumty says:

                  @krellen: most of what you said is simple opinion. There still is an exploration element in the form of solar system exploration (whether you scan the planets for problems or not) and there is a reward to it in the form of several short, non-repetitive missions that, unlike ME1, don’t get stale after you do them twice.

                  Removing the inventory is not as good as making a better inventory, but it’s better than having a broken one.

                  I wouldn’t have said anything if the general consensus would be “i don’t like the game” or “i preferred the first game over the second”, but saying “the game is BAD” implies objectivity and i have to strongly disagree with that.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  I have to agree with krellen about mako,but as for the rest,Ill stand with Avilan.Probing is such a stupid chore and it adds absolutely nothing.Mako sections,on the other hand,introduce you to beautiful vistas that are always nice to see.Granted,the interiors of those planets all get very boring,very soon,but the exteriors are always nice and innovative.If only they replaced mako with a flying vehicle,or a more stable one,theyd fix it and have a plus here as well.

              • Aldowyn says:

                As to the first part, ME is very easy. I can go through Insanity no trouble, and I’m far from the best gamer.

                As for the second part, playing devil’s advocate here:
                It takes a LOT of time and/or effort to make a truly branching storyline. To make something really different, with just two tracks, you would have to spend almost twice as long – and twice as much money – making other experiences that, after all, only half the players are going to see.

                It sucks, but I can see their side.

  13. Kavonde says:

    That giant poem was amazing, Ruts. I mean that from the bottom of my sole.

  14. Audacity says:

    How come everyone Shepherd is recruiting seems to have serious mental disorders/issues?

    Miranda is obsessed with arbitrary standards of physical perfection, tight uncomfortable clothing and is probably bulimic. Grunt has the mind of a ten year-old. Garrus wants to be Batman. Tali has the personality of a kicked puppy and an unhealthy tweeny fan-girl crush on Shepherd. Jack is all kinds of fucked up. Thane has a deathwish. (Which might seem useful on a suicide mission; but if he wants to die anyway what incentive does he have to complete it?) Jacob is addicted to saluting. Samara is the follower of a completely batshit code of conduct and the mother/father(?) of beings from an extra-perverted hentai fan-fic. Hell, the most normal member of the crew is Mordin, and he’s the MAD SCIENTIST!

    Who thought putting all these crazy people on the same boat was a good idea?! Why couldn’t you just recruit a team of regular mentally stable Joes from the universe’s plethora of elite military organizations?

    • Sydney says:

      Because that wouldn’t be badass enough for the drooling idiots who fund the games industry by buying year after year of identical games about men the size of fridges shooting guns the size of trees at copy-pasted aliens. Ordinary people who are good at their important jobs? Who wants a story about that? We want a posse of strippers and clowns who all have the same issue.

      I count four squadmates who were engineered and/or trained to be the perfect [x] and use that as a source of crippling inner turmoil.

      It’s probably telling that my favorite character is Jacob. A skilled-but-ordinary man who gets caught up in something bigger than himself. It’s probably telling that message boards are full of people who call Jacob “boring” and “cardboard” as a result. Because if you’re not dysfunctional, you’re just not a real person.

      • Josh R says:

        the entire point of fantasy is to escape the ordinary.
        Why even bother having humans when you could replace them with a race of people made of lightning?
        (familiarity aside)

      • Ringwraith says:

        I liked Jacob, as he’s sort of the ‘grounded’ one, and doesn’t really have any massive issues, other than his dislike of needless red tape, but that’s sort of a milder version of Garrus’ outlook, as Jacob will still follow the orders and annoying red tape as he’s a good soldier, just begrudgingly. Might explain his excess saluting too, though it could also be to remind of his Alliance days and not having to work for a shady organisation to get things done.

        Also, Tali’s pretty grounded too for the most part, she’s definitely the runner-up for least psychologically damaged squadmember.
        She only gets an issue after she’s already joined, and only because it happened after she joined, (unlike Jacob’s, which only kind of properly surfaces for all to see part-way through but was still kind of there before, still doesn’t bother him though). Also, that message you receive after recruiting is just simply brilliant.

      • poiumty says:

        Well, the entire idea was to get the biggest badasses in the galaxy. People like Tali and Jacob are just second-rate drop-ins that managed to stick around (with Tali taken more because she was your former crewmember). Hell, Legion has 10 times the amount of programs that regular “walking platforms” have. I kind of expected most of them to be the eccentric genius type.

      • Avilan says:

        I get it, you hated “The Dirty Dozen”, because the members of the group were too much badass? ;)

        Seriously, I don’t get this criticism at all. If you do think that “Ragtag Bunch of Misfits” is a bad trope, then okay, but you can’t tell me with a straight face that it is a trope that doesn’t belong in an RPG.

        • Audacity says:

          I rather like the Dirty Dozen. However, other than Maggot, I don’t think any of the characters were really classifiable as crazy or disturbed. They were all convicts, and therefore desperate enough to undertake the mission, but they seemed for the most part to be pretty normal guys, with normal problems, who had just fucked up, rather than psychos. -I haven’t seen the film for about a decade though so my memory might be off.-

          I think my problem with Mass Effect is that the characters are all exaggerated to the point of unrelatability. They, and their problems, are all so much larger than life, at least in ME2, that they seem more like caricatures than characters, which doesn’t fit the series’ serious tone. Not that the characters shouldn’t be extraordinary, or a little over the top, that’s part of the appeal of fiction after all, it would just be nice if they had some more mundane issues to deal with instead of everything being so fantastical.

          John McClane from Die hard is a good example of what I mean. He’s an over-the-top character in an over-the-top action flick, but is still relatable, because not all of his problems are of the world-ending-experimented-on-as-a-child variety. He’s a pretty normal guy with some very run of the mill everyday problems, a bumpy marriage, teenage children, etc. These other more mundane aspects of his character make his extraordinary problems seem more believable.

          EDIT: I hereby award myself a cookie for setting a new personal record for the number of comas, hyphens and run-on sentences crammed into a single post.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Hmm let’s see. Grunt and Miranda, obviously. Grunt doesn’t really care, though. Thane? I’m not sure how he uses that as a “source of crippling inner turmoil.” Oh yeah, Jack, though she was more tortured than engineered/trained.

    • Sara Pickell says:

      Because then it would remind people of X-Com, and their main player base would all commit suicide.

      • eri says:

        I’m pretty sure the majority of BioWare fans these days have never heard of X-COM and are far too young to have played it within even five years of its release.

        • krellen says:

          You’d (apparently) be surprised how old gamers really are.

          • eri says:

            I’m actually quite aware of that, I’m just being petty and snide. :P

          • Peter H. Coffin says:

            Averages screw up conclusions. “The average game player is 34 years old and has been playing games for 12 years” makes no sense as it rather implies that (somehow) most people manage to start playing video games at 22. But instead, the real picture may be “between 10 and 60 years old, and have either been playing games since they were 10 or since whenever they bought the Wii.” And I must be pulling up that average something fierce….

            • Someone says:

              Also, whether or not playing “casual games” counts towards being considered a gamer, tends to make a huge difference in the numbers.

              There is that research that keeps being brought up in press and on the internet, claiming that there are more female gamers than male. The overwhelming majority of female “gamers” are counted as such because they play solitaire, minesweeper or farmville; take those games out of the equation and you have a vastly different result.

              • krellen says:

                Yes, and the best way to make them branch out and try different games is to have the consumers of those games constantly poo-pooing them and telling them they don’t count.

                </sarcasm>

                • Someone says:

                  But they don’t count. I’m not “poo-pooing” them, or saying that their human worth is somehow smaller, but you can’t argue that they are an entirely different category.

                  You can’t just lump solitaire fans together with gamers who follow and enjoy the mainstream gaming, and then talk about the growth of the video game market or the dominance of female gamers, which is what people usually do when they bring the proverbial material up in various discussions.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  @Someone
                  Sure,and you cant just lump tbs fans together with gamers who follow and enjoy the mainstream gaming.Or flight simulator fans.Heck,there simply is no way to lump all the gamers in the same group because games are so radically different from one another,and the only thing they have in common is that you view them on a screen(and its not always the same screen).

                • Topazwolf says:

                  To be fair, calling someone who occasionally plays solitaire a gamer is more akin to calling someone who plays finger football occasionally at work an athlete. Or, if talking about farmville, calling someone who only reads Harry Potter books and nothing else in the fantasy genre an avid fan of the hard fantasy novels and science fiction. While true in a technical sense, it is still quite a stretch.

                • Someone says:

                  @Topazwolf: This is precisely what I was talking about, but couldn’t quite find a decent analogy. Thanks.

                  @Daemian Lucifer: Let me put it to you this way: even if you are, say, a shooter fan, you can still discuss the activision-blizzard merger, draconian DRM policies, what impact the newfangled motion control fad is going to have on gaming in general and how Michael Atkinson is full of crap, with a tbs fan. Now then, try talking about that with a Solitaire fan…

                  Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that you should never take research results or statistics at face value, because context can make all the difference in the world. For example, take what Krellen said about the average age of gamers. That “Industry Facts” page he links to says that average gamer is 34 years old. But if their research counts everyone who plays solitaire or people who played Angry Birds on an Iphone a couple of times as (mainstream) gamers, it’s not applicable as an arguement to the discussion in question.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  @Someone
                  “Let me put it to you this way: even if you are, say, a shooter fan, you can still discuss the activision-blizzard merger, draconian DRM policies, what impact the newfangled motion control fad is going to have on gaming in general and how Michael Atkinson is full of crap, with a tbs fan. Now then, try talking about that with a Solitaire fan…”

                  Im not a sports fan,but I still can discuss betting,corruption in sports,steroid abuse,stadium changes etc with those who are.Im also a gamer,yet I can only discuss drm of that what youve mentioned,because that is the only thing that peaked my interest(or rage,if you prefer).So those things have nothing to do with being a fan of sports or video games.

                  Again,video games is a pretty broad category and it includes a lot of extremely broad genres.Would you consider a gamer someone who plays only indie games?Or someone who still only enjoys mario?Theyd be just as far away from someone playing only main stream games as those who play only iphone games.

                  Ill do another sports analogy here:The difference between solitaire fans and halo fans is the same as the difference between someone who only watches soccer on tv and someone who plays it every day with friends.They both are soccer fans,but they have widely different interests.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Ah,the “real gamer” issue.I think this comic sums up my feelings towards that quite nicely:

                http://www.duelinganalogs.com/comic/2010/11/04/yo-momma-is-so-hardcore…/

            • krellen says:

              When statisticians say “average”, they usually mean median (the value in the exact middle of the spread), sometimes mead mode (the most recurring value), and almost never mean mean (mathematical average).

              In this case, it’s almost certainly median.

              • Aldowyn says:

                Well, a median is usually close to average, at least. I was forgetting how to find it for a minute, but it’s still close to average. If you have 15 values (from lowest to highest, obviously) and take the 8th, it should be (relatively) close to average. Take out the outliers, and it should be even close.

                I’d like to know where they get the stats for these. Surveys are obviously suspect, but that must be how they do them…

                • Someone says:

                  I suspect they combine the conclusions of various independent social studies on gaming, which are popping up everywhere these days. Which just makes the data that much less reliable, because you can’t find the original source.

      • Mumbles says:

        Balls. Now I want to reinstall.

        • Jarenth says:

          I’ll install it if you do.

            • Dude says:

              Wouldn’t you rather play Arkham Asylum again instead, and then bug the others to have it as your next season of Spoiler Warning?

              • Mumbles says:

                I don’t know if people really want me to unleash my Batman knowledge.

                • krellen says:

                  It might suggest you were a nerd, and we can’t have that. :D

                • Mumbles says:

                  :P when it comes to batman, absolutely. I’ve been a megafan since age five.

                • Dude says:

                  I suggest you do it. You guys really, really, really need to do a game where you don’t spend most of the time criticizing it. I know it sounds like the opposite of what this show is about, but a small season of oh-I-love-this would help keep things fresh for the next game’s systematic butchering. (The next game being Alpha Protocol, amirite!)

                • krellen says:

                  Why would they eviscerate Alpha Protocol? I thought it was pretty solid. Sure, it needed a bit more teaching at a few points (it would have been nice if the game had told me there were rocket launchers laying around the first time I fought a vehicle instead of making me die three times trying to kill it with my normal skills), but still pretty solid.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Alpha protocol is a broken game.Sure,it has solid characters,but it also has solid bugs(and seeing how these guys saw even the rarest of bugs in these games…),and its character building and combat systems are crappy.Very crappy.

                  And why wouldnt they criticize batman?Yes,its a great game,but it still has problems.For example,”Hey a big guy,I wonder how Ill fight him?Oh yeah,make him smash into a wall then jump on his back.How innovative.”Or how about “Switch back to normal vision?Why would I want that?”There is no perfect game,and every game can be picked apart and improved.

                  With that said,Id like to see both of these games spoiler warning’d.

            • RTBones says:

              One thing I have always been fascinated by is the love (deserved) for XCOM, yet I see little written about Jagged Alliance. JA2 is excellent. Perhaps it is that the JA series is more obscure, and not set in space.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Well fighting humans all the time is boring.Fighting ever changing monstrosities is so much more fun.But jagged alliance is a great game too,I admit.

              • ehlijen says:

                JA2, while one of my favourite games, never quite manage the popular appeal X-COM had. First, defending the world against UFOs filled with funky aliens is something everyone can relate to. Not everyone wants to play that, but everyone can identify with the humans. Leading a merc band to liberate a third world country has a lot less of an appeal. Maybe it’s too close to home, or maybe shooting humans just isn’t as guilt free as shooting aliens.
                Second, when XCOM came out, it’s graphics were actually par for the course. When JA2 came out, its graphis quality were laughably bad compared to the competition. They were sufficient for the set goal, but they were not good.
                Third: X-COM arrived before the RTS craze really began, JA2 arrived after.

      • Audacity says:

        Damn it, now I have to go play it! Good thing it’s always installed.

        Productivity: That thing I had before X-Com.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Hey,garrus doesnt want anything,he is the fricking batman!

      Oh,you forgot the batshit insane ais you have,and mister glass driving your ship.

    • acronix says:

      Don´t forget that, besides those mental disorders, most of them have different varieties of Daddy Issues.

    • LurkerAbove says:

      I guess it starts with the Illusive Man. He thinks a small team has the best chance of success. He may or may not be right, we have no real way of knowing.

      Once he’s settled on a small team, then normal elite military Joes aren’t good enough. Frankly, I’ve always been surprised that Jacob is on the squad. Anyway, now there is a much smaller cohort to recruit from. Then from the super-elite the numbers are further limited because the Illusive Man either needs to convince them, or they need to be swayed by money.

      Then from this smaller group, they need to be willing to participate in a much more dangerous mission than normal [para]military entanglements.

      Plus, the IM really, really wants the mission to succeed, so even if he could find qualified guys from the military organizations, he would still keep looking for any way to increase the chances of success.

      As to why they mostly have some mental issues, it comes from the nature of being the very best. (disclaimer, generalizations ahead) In order to be the very best, one generally either needs to be a prodigy and practice a ton, or just practice 3 tons. You need to be incredibly motivated and determined.

      Certainly one doesn’t NEED to be damaged to be ultra-elite, but it is easy to see why there could be a correlation, or why it may impede dealing with whatever issues one has.

      • Aldowyn says:

        You know, there’s a simpler way of saying this.

        “Genius and madness are two sides of the same coin”

        P.S. … WTH, I googled that quote and came up with a 2-year old Yahoo answers question where the guy came across this quote in Mass Effect
        I SWEAR I’d heard that before. The doctor on Eden Prime, with the crazy assistant, Manuel, who’s raving about the “prophet” (Saren), says this in ME1…

    • Avilan says:

      You are either exaggerating for effect or have not actually talked to the characters…

  15. GiantRaven says:

    I love how those guys in the elevator knew to unleash a barrage of rockets just as the door opened in order to hit the intruders. I shudder to think of the repercussions if somebody else had called the elevator.

  16. ps238principal says:

    There’s a lot of comments, and I’ve searched for what I thought were the relevant terms, but am I the only one to notice that Martin Sheen did the voice for the assassin you shove to his death? It seemed an odd choice to use one of the more recognizable voices in the game to do a near-mook that no amount of voice distortion can disguise.

    Maybe the Illusive Man was having you bump off an annoying relative.

  17. Jokerman89 says:

    If you open up a weapons locker then close it without changing weapons it gives you full ammo :D

  18. Hey Shamus, completely unrelated to anything in this thread, for which I apologize, if you are still looking for a job, which you are probably not, Videocopilot.net is looking for a C++ programmer to do tools for special effects work. They are the same guys who did the credits for the new Star Trek.

    If you are interested.

    http://www.videocopilot.net/blog/2011/01/c-programmer-needed/

  19. Daipanda says:

    I just want to express my love for this show… All of you just have such a great chemistry with the chatter and it’s a joy to listen to. Every new episode makes my day.

    On the game… I’d say I hate ME2, but that’s an outright lie after completing it 3 times. Also I just really wanted to throw Miranda out an airlock. And Jacob. On my renegade-runthrough I actually made damn sure Jacob and Miranda died through various little tricks. It was fun.

    • Aldowyn says:

      That wouldn’t actually be hard. The hard part would be getting everyone else to survive, since those two are the ones that successfully “lead” the 2nd team.

      • krellen says:

        Garrus can lead any team just as well.

        Funny story: first time I played ME2, everyone lived except Jack, because I accidentally selected Jack to lead the second fire team (instead of Jacob as I had intended) and the game didn’t give me any way to go back and undo the choice.

        • poiumty says:

          Part of my grief with the suicide mission is how unintuitive it is. My first playthrough went like this:

          Specialist: Hey, Thane is an expert at crawling through pipes, he can do this with his eyes closed.
          First squad leader: Samara’s a paladin, and paladins are good party leaders. RPG logic!
          *specialist dies, other people die*
          Biotic: Miranda can Warp and she’s the perfect human! Brilliant!
          *garrus dies because he was in the party*
          Third squad leader: Grunt’s the perfect Krogan and has the memory of a dozen warlords, he can lead a small defense!
          *half the squad dies*

          …damn. Must’ve been those upgrades i missed on Illium.

          • Avilan says:

            I found it very obvious who goes where.

            The game tells you, to your face, that what you need in the vent is a TECH expert, not a duct crawler. Who are your best tech experts? Tali or Legion.

            The game tells you that you need a good leader for the other team. Who are strong leaders? Garrus lead a successful team on Omega and only lost them due to treason.
            (You can also use Jacob and Miranda, but that is less obvious).

            The game hints on who to escort the crew back to the ship. Who is good at small groups but sucks at holding the line? Mordin!

            The game is less forward when it comes to the Biotic, but you have three possible choices and two of them are vastly more powerful than the third.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yeah,it was pretty obvious to me.Also,I never saw miranda as that good of a biotic anyway.Especially when compared to jack and samara.Though I never saw her as a good leader either.To be fair,I never saw her as a good anything.

              • Avilan says:

                Hey I saw her as very good at, you know, have sex in interesting places and wear lovely clothes (her black loyalty uniform IS hot).

                Of course I have always had a thing for her voice actor.

                That said though I have actually never done the romance myself; I tend to play Fem!Sheps and the only reason I ever play male characters is if I want to romance Tali or (sometimes) Jack.

              • Jarenth says:

                Jacob is also a biotic choice for that part.

                Don’t use Jacob.

  20. Cody211282 says:

    Damn it I’m going to have to stop watching untill I finish my current play through of this, I havent played the new DLC and was hoping to have it done before you guys got to it.

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