Mass Effect Retrospective 19: The Importance of Peasants

By Shamus
on Oct 22, 2015
Filed under:
Mass Effect

212 comments

Before we resume talking about our new squad-mates, let’s back up and talk about the one that joined us at the start of the game:

Miranda

Sorry to butt in Shepard, but I`m really falling behind the rear admiral and it`s bumming me out. I need to ass you for help before I get canned. Butts.

Sorry to butt in Shepard, but I`m really falling behind the rear admiral and it`s bumming me out. I need to ass you for help before I get canned. Butts.

Miranda is a disaster of conflicting purposes. We’re supposed to believe that this lady is a brilliant medical researcher, and a badass merc, and a super-biotic, and the leader of the research project that CURED DEATH, and a natural team leader, and she barely looks thirty. Even Wesley Crusher wasn’t that big of a miracle child. And then on top of this she’s got this ongoing sob story about growing up fabulously rich and having high expectations placed on her. So on top of her amazing abilities and her insufferable smugness, she’s got this horrible case of daddy issues and first-world problems.

And then she has the nerve to be an asshole towards Jack, who was literally tortured as a child by Cerberus. The moment Jack gets on the ship, Miranda starts antagonizing her in the most childish, highschool-drama-bullshit kind of way. If Miranda is so smart, then why would she support the idea of recruiting an unstable psycho killer for a serious mission? And even if we buy that, how stupid and childish is it to deliberately provoke and taunt her like this? If Miranda is such an awesome leader, then why is she doing the thing most likely to make Jack freak out and cause problems? (And it does indeed cause problems later.)

This would be fine, in a “drama resulting from different viewpoints” kind of way, but you can’t call her out on her bullshit. Like Jacob, she trusts Cerberus and thinks they’re okay despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but she never discusses why. She doesn’t have to defend Cerberus because the writer doesn’t allow you to challenge her on Cerberus. Technically that’s the writer’s fault, not hers, but the problem arises when the player is talking to her and so she ends up taking the blame for Shepard’s neutered dialog wheel.

Why are you standing like that? Are you having some kind of gastric emergency?

Why are you standing like that? Are you having some kind of gastric emergency?

If I could have shoved Miranda out of the airlock, I would have done so. She was the PR rep for the entire premise of, “I’m not working for Cerberus but actually I am and they’re not evil except obviously they are.” On top of all her other problems, she was the embodiment of the most frustrating bit of railroading in the game.

I could accept her as a miracle child of super-talent, or I could accept her as a tragic story of someone who can never live up to their perceived potential, but these two angles are kind of at odds and the writer should have settled on one or the other. We can’t be in awe of her and pity her at the same time, and certainly not while she’s so unpleasant to everyone around her.

Okay, maybe I’m being unfair. I’m sure with enough depth and nuance you could explore both of these aspects of her character. But the whole thing is ridiculously undercut by the fact that the director stuffs the camera halfway up her ass when we try to talk to her.

I don`t want to come off as judge-y or anything, but maybe you would be able to crouch and pick things up off the floor more naturally if you weren`t wearing thigh-high boots with four inch heels. Just a suggestion.

I don`t want to come off as judge-y or anything, but maybe you would be able to crouch and pick things up off the floor more naturally if you weren`t wearing thigh-high boots with four inch heels. Just a suggestion.

Miranda keeps saying, “Take me seriously!” but I can’t hear her over the cinematographer screaming “WILL YOU LOOK AT THE HOT ASS ON THIS CHICK? 10/10. TOTALLY WOULD BANG.” Conversations with her are this quadruple-frustration between her own smug antagonism, the trickster dialog wheel that keeps making you say stupid shit, the constant cheerleading for Cerberus in the face of the overwhelming evidence that they’re incompetent and evil, and the pervert cameraman behaving like a 14 year old boy.

Maybe I’d like this character design if it was given a proper chance in another game. Maybe Miranda’s problem isn’t Miranda. Maybe her problem isn’t her father, her gifts, or her ludicrous provocation of Jack. Maybe her problem is that the author expected us to take her more seriously than he did.

Kasumi and Zaeed

WHAT YEAR IS IT?

WHAT YEAR IS IT?

I can’t comment on Kasumi, since I never had her on my team. I tried to buy her DLC when doing this write-up, but you can only get it through OriginSo, not available on Steam, even if you have the core game on Steam. and you can’t get her for money. Like I said on Twitter:

The fact that EA is helmed by idiots who don’t understand twenty-first century commerce is not my fault. I’d rather include her in this commentary, but I have better things to do than jump through a bunch of hoops to waste my money on some lame tenth-generation copy of “Microsoft points”.

The same goes for Zaeed. He’s supposedly “free” with the digital version, but I’ve logged into “Cerberus Network”, the BioWare Store, Origin, AND the EA Store looking for answers, and their help pages all link to old answers for stuff that changed years ago. I should supposedly have him, but he never shows up and I don’t know which one of these half-dozen barely-connected systems is responsible for this lapse in DLC delivery. We could blow a few thousand words on how abominable Origin is compared to Steam and how it seems like EA still doesn’t grasp the fundamentals of “Digital sales are about convenience”, but that would drag us away from the game at hand.

Disclosure: About a month after writing this, I took another crack at buying DLC and managed to get The Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3. It wasn’t as big a headache as it looks like it’s going to be when you start the process, and I didn’t end up with money tied up in useless BioWare Points. On the other hand it was still confusing, obtuse, and odd in several different ways. Also, they need to lower their prices. All DLC is still launch-day prices, which is absurd. In any case, EA really needs to look at what their larger, more powerful, more profitable, more market-dominating rival is up to.

Maybe Kasumi and Zaeed are just so gosh-darn wonderful that they redeem the whole game, but I doubt it. We’ll have to go on without them.

Grunt

Okay, nice move with the pistol, Shepard. Except the scene made it abundantly clear you didn`t have one.

Okay, nice move with the pistol, Shepard. Except the scene made it abundantly clear you didn`t have one.

I like the switchup the game does here. You’re sent to retrieve Dr. Okeer, a Krogan scientist. But then there’s a plot twist, Okeer dies, and instead you end up with Grunt, his vat-grown adolescent Krogan super-soldier science project.

Grunt is a fine character. His loyalty mission sends you to the Krogan homeworld and gives you a look at his culture. It also gives you a chance to catch up with Wrex, assuming you didn’t play Mass Effect 1 wrong. But Grunt is also a little thin on characterization. He’s sort of a newborn, so he doesn’t have any personal anecdotes or opinions on galactic culture, technology, or politics. He does pretty much what it says on the tin, and I don’t have a lot to say about him. In a game where the roster features 12 potential companions, he feels kind of superfluous. There’s nothing wrong with him, but anyone who isn’t in your list of top two companions is going to spend most of their time on the ship, and I’ve never seen Grunt make anyone’s list of favorites.

So rather than talking about Grunt, let’s talk about this shift in focus from “worldbuilding” to “character building”.

The Importance of Peasants

One jerkface mook with no name cannot carry the worldbuilding duties of an entire community.

One jerkface mook with no name cannot carry the worldbuilding duties of an entire community.

In Mass Effect 1, there were four main worlds to visit on your quest, plus the Citadel and Iilos. Aside from Therum, they all had a certain degree of universe-building going on. There were people to meet who weren’t directly related to your main goal. You’d run into regular people who would tell you stories that would help you understand how this world worked.

Something like:

John Q. Peasant:
At first the plague seemed like a lucky break. Before that, the only place that would hire Humans was the refueling station, and that's hazardous work. But then the plague hit and suddenly there were lots of jobs open and everyone wanted to hire me because I'm immune."

(Looks down, rubs hand on back of neck awkwardly.)

But now? Nobody's coming to the station these days, and my Turian buddies won't visit me anymore. They won't even talk to me. I dunno. This job won't do me much good if the whole colony dies out. I wish things could go back to the way they were.

And then maybe he’d ask you to grab [some bullshit item] from [place where you’re already going] for him. When the quest was done, he’d give you a picture of how life on the station has changed because of your actions, or what people think of it.

The point of the quest wasn’t to get you to fetch the quest item, the point was to give you a reason to talk to this peasant before and after your adventure. This would put your actions into a more local context. In just a few lines of dialog it gives you a sense of how the culture around here works, what daily life is like, and gives you a frame of reference for how Humans are doing compared to other races. Without these quests, you might assume everyone feels the same way about the council, or other races, or Spectres, or Shepard. These moments give us different viewpoints, which make the world seem larger and more complex. It puts a personal face on a tragedy and maybe even helps build a little emotional connection. The quest reward was just a little incentive to seek out other people to talk to.

But here in Mass Effect 2 they’ve sacrificed depth for breadth. The text blurb for the planet where you meet Okeer and Grunt sounds pretty interesting:

What a shithole! `No, the shithole is a few klicks north, past the garbage pile. This is just the dump.`

What a shithole! `No, the shithole is a few klicks north, past the garbage pile. This is just the dump.`

It’s supposedly this polluted, corrupt, crime-ridden landfill of a planet with 3.8 billion inhabitants. On top of all its other problems, it’s currently suffering from an internal power struggle.

If this had been Mass Effect 1, then we’d probably have started off this mission at some sort of civilian site, perhaps an outpost or village. We’d talk to the locals, and all the stuff from the text blurb above would be portrayed or hinted at. NPCs would also give their thoughts on the distant base that Okeer is running: What they thought of it, how its presence impacted their lives, how long it’s been running, and even hint at what we’ll find there. Perhaps they comment on how many mercs travel to the base, but very few return. Or perhaps someone will remark on how curious it is that the place is always receiving Krogan supplies, but they never see any Krogan going in. They might also remark on the planet in general and round things out with their thoughts on the Citadel or the Council races. Then we’d jump in the Mako, drive to the base, and then we’d have our shooty bits. Those early conversations would whet our curiosity, and then we’d get a nice payoff when we learn what’s really going on.

But none of that text blurb makes it into the game. None of it. Okeer’s base is a completely arbitrary maze of chest-high shootin’ walls with no indication that anyone lives there, works there, or does anything except shoot stuff. You do meet one Blue Suns Merc who gives enough exposition to explain that waves of Mercs are fighting waves of Krogan, but his exposition is a far cry from the stories you take part in at Zhu’s Hope.

Remember game developers: Having dead bodies scattered around counts as environmental storytelling!

Remember game developers: Having dead bodies scattered around counts as environmental storytelling!

He covers the basics, but there’s no worldbuilding, no culture, no flavor-text civilians, and nothing for you to learn or think about until you reach Okeer. From a worldbuilding standpoint, this mission is completely sterile.

I understand you don’t have infinite money, and if you increase the number of locations in the game then you have to cut something else. But while I can appreciate the financial realities that caused this, I can’t help but lament at the loss of depth and nuance. It’s one thing to hear about ExoGeni using humans as test subjects, but it’s another thing to see what this did to the lives of people at Zhu’s Hope. It’s one thing if the Codex tells you that the Rachni are scary space bugs, but it’s so much more potent to see how the Rachni ravage and terrify the research staff on Noveria.

In the struggle to show instead of tell, these flavor-text peasants are the key to making places memorable and building an emotional connection with the locations we visit. I’d go so far as to say they’re one of the key things that gives a game the “Classic BioWare” feel, and their absence is why so many old fans aren’t connecting with the newer titles.

There are a few “fetch quests” in Mass Effect 2, but the writer has apparently forgotten what they’re really for. If you run around Illium or the Citadel you can find a few people who need some object. Then you get the object and bring it to them for a reward. But they have no dialog wheel, no story, and nothing they say helps build up the world. It’s just a way to get credits and XP, which were never the point of these quests.

One exception is the Quarian accused of theft on the Citadel. That one quick exchange tells you how people feel about Quarians and how bureaucratic C-Sec can be. It’s this wonderful flash of conversation-based storytelling and worldbuilding, and this game needed a lot more of it.

This is a great little moment, but we needed dozens more of them.

This is a great little moment, but we needed dozens more of them.

The Mass Effect 1 style “villages” are a good place to sell the audience on an idea that’s hard to swallow. If you’re trying to convince the audience that anyone seriously believes that Cerberus is a “humans first” group and not a cabal of sadistic, moronic, mad-scientist terrorists, then this is the place to do it. Have a bunch of people that were abandoned by the Alliance because of some bureaucratic politicking, and Cerberus came to help them in some way. If you want to convince us that Shepard is “A hero, a bloody icon” after the events of Mass Effect 1, then have us bump into a fan on some backwater world who has heard of Shepard and wants an autograph. If you want to motivate us to go after the Collectors, then let us meet just one colony of people who are scared stupid, watching the skies furtively, and desperate for Shepard’s protection. Show their anger towards the Alliance, or their willingness to believe in anything – even Cerberus – if it will give them hope.

Yes, the world of Mass Effect 2 is larger than Mass Effect 1 in terms of raw square footage, but much of it feels so very empty, unfulfilling, and lacking in the kind of humanity that made the series special to begin with. And even when the spaces do engage in a little worldbuilding, they usually reaffirm what we already know from the last gameKrogan are violent and tribal, Cerberus is Stupid Evil, Quarians are space gypsies that nobody likes., instead of attempting to sell us on the shaky premise of this one.

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Footnotes:

[1] So, not available on Steam, even if you have the core game on Steam.

[2] Krogan are violent and tribal, Cerberus is Stupid Evil, Quarians are space gypsies that nobody likes.



A Hundred!A Hundred!12212 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. Grudgeal says:

    This page may finally become my replacement for this as my argument whenever someone discusses Miranda.

  2. MrGuy says:

    Maybe her problem is that the author expected us to take her more seriously than he did.

    Of course that’s her problem. Because it’s the whole game’s problem.

    It seems pretty clear from the way so much of the dialogue and settings set up that the writers intended the whole “working with Cerberus” concept to be an interesting morally ambiguous setting, where Cerberus appeared to be the good guys, but we kept picking up on little things that maybe suggested they weren’t as good as they seemed. Shepard would spend the whole game tormented by wondering “am I doing the right thing by working with these guys?”

    Then they decided to send the Illusive Man to clown college and spend the whole game beating you over the head with how cartoonishly evil Cerberus was, because apparently they didn’t trust the audience to pick up on anything remotely resembling subtlety or hinting.

    If they’d done what I hope was originally the plan (play Cerberus as good, but with small moments where you glimpse a possible dark underbelly), Miranda makes sense as a character. Well, OK, not all of her, but the reason you have this pro-Cerberus cheerleader along for the ride – she’s the distraction from those subtle clues about Cerberus, and the author insertion to explain them away, or why they’re terrible but necessary. She’d have been one side of what COULD have been an interesting dialogue about the greater good.

    With cartoonish evil Cerberus, though, she’s a brilliant person who threw in with the least likely group in the galaxy, and continues to stick up for them despite frequent and obvious evidence that’s a dumb thing to do.

    • Grudgeal says:

      The problem is that the first game already showed you how cartoonishly evil Cerberus was. So it’s more that the writers wanted you to work with this already evil organization (who fed the Lone Survivor Shepard’s unit to thresher maws, made thorian hybrids and killed rear admiral Kahoku), who continued to be cartoonishly evil but now also completely incompetent at being in any way black ops or subtle, while pretending they’re not evil and are competent.

      • Zekiel says:

        Yeah. If you couldn’t do something with Cereberus that flowed naturally from what we learned about them in ME1, at the very least have the decency to have the shadowy organisation you end up working for in the 2nd game be a DIFFERENT ORGANISATION not the same organisation which the player is mysteriously supposed to accept working for.

        For bonus points you could even have a endgame twist where DIFFERENT ORGANISATION turns out to be a front for Cereberus. DRAMA!

        (That would be lame, but it would still be better than what we got)

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I always said that miranda shouldve been the one that hires shepard and gives her resources,and a stolen normandy,to do stuff that the alliance doesnt want to do.You could believe that,because she is rich and genetically engineered,thus should have both the skills and means to provide you with such stuff(also,we have a precedent in me1 that powerful individuals can do this(shadow broker)).Only later would you find out that she is actually working for cerberus,and they are the ones giving you stuff,but by that point it would be too late for you to just screw them over,and youd have to grudgingly continue accepting their help.

        • Trix2000 says:

          That’s basically the idea I had earlier – have it be some other mysterious organization that Shepard works for. The first sections of the game would be there to establish that they not only have money and resources to work with, but also that they can be reasonably trusted (at least shown to have a stake in the game). Throughout most of the game there may be little hints about their true nature that the player might not notice (but pick up on in the back of their minds) that slowly build up until the point where their true nature is revealed (probably right after the crew kidnapping, when you have no choice but to keep going to save them). It would not only might give them some credibility (they managed to trick me!) but also makes it much more reasonable for Shepard to hang on to their support right up until the Collectors are finished – them quickly being an enemy in 3 flows a little better that way I think.

          It probably wouldn’t have even needed different art/model assets to pull off – just a lot of changed dialog (and removing their logo from everything), since many of the things Shepard did don’t really require Cerberus at all.

          • Keeshhound says:

            They could even have kept the logo since ME1 Cerberus didn’t have one at all.

            • swenson says:

              According to the Codex, it’s not even supposed to be Cerberus’ logo at all–it’s the logo for Cord-Hislop, a ship company that’s a front for Cerberus (and thus would reasonably have their logo on a spaceship). But they never actually bring this up anywhere, and in ME3 it’s used by Cerberus all over the place. So much for that excuse.

              • guy says:

                Most importantly, people recognize it as Cerberus’ s logo. It’d be one thing if the logo was on all your stuff but no one commented on it, but there’s no point in a front corporation that everyone knows is associated with a terrorist organization.

                • swenson says:

                  Oh, yeah, that’s true–Jack literally looks out the window and is like “oh look Cerberus”. How would she reasonably know that Cord-Hislop is a front for Cerberus?

    • Gunther says:

      Once again, I can’t help but wonder how much of this disjointed characterization was the fault of multiple writers trying to complete a large project in a short timeframe, without talking to each other.

      It’d explain the huge differences in quality for the characters (I can’t believe the same person wrote Mordin and Miranda), it’d explain why sometimes the game expects us to believe that Cerberus are the good guys while at others there’s a giant neon sign flashing “These guys are cartoonishly evil” over them. It’d even explain why some missions have a lot of NPC interaction and character moments and some are just straight man-shooty fests.

      There are moments in ME2 which rank amongst the best storytelling Bioware has ever done, and there are moments that make David Cage look like Shakespeare. It’s always seemed impossible to me that the same person wrote both.

      • INH5 says:

        I can’t believe the same person wrote Mordin and Miranda

        Patrick Weekes, who wrote Mordin, actually did write some of Miranda’s conversations on the Normandy, and I believe he also wrote her Loyalty Mission and romance. But I think that other writers were responsible for her dialogue in the various main plot scenes, and in ME3 she was written by a writer who had only joined the series in ME3.

        So the issue may not be that she was written by a less skilled writer so much as that she kept getting passed around between different writers. Unless someone has a very firm hand on this sort of thing, that can’t help but result in inconsistencies.

    • Sartharina says:

      I got the opposite impression about Cerberus. On the surface, they’re terrorists who do awful things… but when you look deeper, you notice that they’re the only ones who actually seem to care about fighting the reapers. It makes me wonder if they knew about the reapers in the first game (Or at least “There’s something big and serious coming our way – planets in our space show signs of mass extinction and destruction every 50,000 years, and our time is about up! Also – those husks from Eden Prime are showing up everywhere they shouldn’t be. I don’t think they’re Geth technology”: Is that why they were combat-testing Thresher Maws, and trying to build an army of mindless-but-powerful slave-soldiers (Possibly immune to indoctrination). Let the mass-extinction-makers wipe out non-humans, then use an army of Rachni, Husks, and Thorian Creepers (and human soldiers) to wipe out the Reapers.

      In the end, they proved to be right. The reapers COULD be controlled. The problem is that while their goals were half in the right place… their hearts were not (They wanted human supremacy).

      Cerberus is Orange – the color of the Renegade. The council is Blue – Paragon. It’s kind of a shame, IMO, that Shepard left Cerberus before ME3… I kinda wish that it had focused on Harbinger as the villain, with a big conflict being whether The Systems Alliance should throw their lot in with the Council… which has abandoned them after ignoring the Reaper threat for so long, and wants to throw money onto building a mysterious Superweapon, or siding with Cerberus, who, while they do monstrous things, actually stayed focused on trying to fight/control the Reapers – for example, studying indoctrination to see if they could prevent or at least override it (Sure, they still end up mindless husks, but at least they’re fighting for US now).

      The big question I had in ME3 was when Cerberus tried to assassinate the council. I think I had a Wrex moment in struggling to see how Cerberus was the bad guys there… The council’s inaction against the impending threat of the reapers got too many people killed. They shouldn’t have been allowed to walk away alive, much less in power.

      • Poncho says:

        Sorry this is late….

        Your version works if we accept that Cerberus is not grossly incompetent at basic science, and yet has billions of credits to fund towards these projects.

        There’s a reason safety, regulations, and the moral proclivity of modern science are key factors to research: they get results. The Nazis had little of the latter, even if they followed the former doctrines, and even with that, their best advancements came in the form of mathematics, rocket propulsion, and other avenues that didn’t involve HUMAN TEST SUBJECTS.

        Biology is a tricky field of research, but one of the reason’s Mordin is so abhorred by Maelon’s experiments is that he was doing things to live test subjects “capable of calculus.” We experiment on rats for a reason, and it isn’t just to sleep better at night, but animals like rats and pigs mimic human physiology close enough to see tangential results, while still having a breeding rate that can show the affects of subsequent generations, and we’re not willfully torturing sentient creatures with the vain hope of some minute result. Experimental tests on unwilling sentients is just plain stupid, let alone evil.

        “Crazy science” doesn’t work, because you’re betting astronomically small odds that something doesn’t go wrong on a PERSON, who has friends, who will want answers if they find out what you’re doing, and you don’t get to know whether your data is significant in genetic propagation for years down the line, while you can grab a family of rats and figure out if your experiment works in weeks.

        I want to believe that Cerberus knew about the reapers, and they got desperate before Shepard showed up (and during, and after), but they are idiotic in their implementation of goals. The only reason some of their experiments bear fruit seems due to cosmological blind luck or their own nescience reliant on gut instinct.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      I remember reading something about the game’s development that Miranda was envisioned as a femme fatale, and they even changed her original hair colour from blonde (Yvonne Strahovski’s actual colour) to black to better cast her as a film noir fatale archetype. Well, if that’s actually what they wanted, why didn’t they write her as a femme fatale? You know, instead of constantly riding Shepard and giving him/her a hard time, she could have been trying to seduce Shepard into supporting Cerberus. Not necessarily in an overtly sexual manner–though that wouldn’t hurt either–but just by being respectful, or appealing to Shepard’s ego or nobility or pragmatism (e.g. “Think what we could accomplish with your skills and reputation and our resources, Shepard!”). No one else is trying to convince you that working for Cerberus is a good idea, why not their alleged Golden Girl?

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Like Jacob, she trusts Cerberus and thinks they’re okay despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but she never discusses why.

    And yet,in the end,she stands by you when you decide finally are let to screw cerberus over.Because you are a hero,a bloody icon,I guess.It makes as much sense as joker committing treason to work for cerberus(and then being accepted back).

    • Daimbert says:

      If you gain her loyalty, she’s more loyal to you than to the Illusive Man, and if you do things right otherwise you can see her be more skeptical of Cerberus, especially if you take her on Jack’s loyalty mission. Even if she thinks that it was just a splinter group that did that to Jack, she HAS to trust you more than everyone that Cerberus might bring in to study that thing.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        And yet kashley isnt as loyal to you,despite you saving their life on virmire,and potentially banging them.So either way,loyalty works in mysterious ways in this game.

        • Shoeboxjeddy says:

          The difference being Miranda is convinced Shepard is the REAL Commander Shepard considering she just personally spent years making sure that the person was brought back to life in their original state and then she learned what kind of person Shepard was by working alongside her/him for the entire campaign. Meanwhile, Kaidan/Ashley meet someone who CLAIMS to be Shepard in the company of Cerberus operatives. This brief meeting gives them severe doubts, which they don’t resolve until spending a reasonable amount of time with Shep again in 3. It tracks, I think.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            So why do tali,garrus and wrex believe you immediately?Also joker and chakwas.

            • Shoeboxjeddy says:

              Let’s see.

              Tali DOES NOT believe you immediately in fact. She responds very similarly to Ashley /Kaidan in the first encounter you have with her. A vague statement of “this is a good guy” with a refusal to actually join the team when asked. You have to bail her out a second time for her to accept that you’re the same Shepard and still a trustworthy person.

              Garrus greets you during combat and watches you for that sequence and then his life is directly saved by you when he gets hit by a missile. At that point, he’s all in, which is understandable.

              Wrex does accept Shepard right away, that’s true. Maybe Krogans have stronger ways of identifying people that left him with little doubt Shep was the same. He also has the most neutral response towards Cerberus, they’ve never really done anything terrible to Krogans that he’s aware of probably.

              Joker and Chakwas joined Cerberus of their own free will and have absolutely no leg to stand on to doubt their Commander. That would be ridiculous.

              • Mike S. says:

                Wrex didn’t even know you were supposed to be dead. I guess he wasn’t keeping up with the news after going home to try and become king of Tuchanka.

                Wrex: Now, Shepard. What brings you here? How’s the Normandy?

                Shepard: Destroyed in a Collector surprise attack. I ended up spaced.

                Wrex: Well, you look good. Ah, the benefits of a redundant nervous system!

                Shepard: Yeah, humans don’t have that.

                Wrex: Oh. It must’ve been painful, then.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Talis response is not even close to the whine kashley gives you.And she does believe you,she just doesnt up and leave her mission immediately.Not to mention that she runs into you in a relatively safe place,while kashley gets pissed after you save the entire colony.

                Garrus is all in even before he gets his armor wrecked,he just asks you to help him out of the bind he got himself in.

                And joker and chakwas deserting(twice) is a whole other can of worms.

                Oh,I also forgot about liara,who is so loyal she comes for your corpse.

                • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Kaidan/Ashley’s response is important because otherwise EVERY character would just accept that Shep joined Cerberus. According to Shamus, joining Cerberus BROKE THE PLOT of the game, and now you’re complaining that a character had an issue with it (I don’t agree with Shamus on this, but it seems very damned if you do, damned if you don’t at this point). Another thing about them is that they are the only characters who would actually be deserting an active military job by joining you. Tali has the closest thing to their responsibilities, and joining you is considered a point in favor of banishing her from her culture for good.

                  I’m sure Garrus would have reconsidered if Shep revealed his/herself as an imposter by the end of that fight, it was just a reasonable thing to do to accept the help immediately and investigate later. The results then spoke for themselves.

                  I also feel that part of gaining the “loyalty” of Garrus and Tali by doing their missions (characters who are likely already loyal from 1) is that by acting like (who they consider to be the) “Real Shepard”, any doubts they have about Shep’s authenticity are extinguished. Meanwhile, a Shepard who won’t spare the time to help them or who badly fumbles the situation makes them wonder again and become less loyal (enthusiastic) to the cause.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Kaidan/Ashley’s response is important because otherwise EVERY character would just accept that Shep joined Cerberus.

                    Because they would.All the people that survived me1 with you would trust shepard when she tells them “trust me,I know what Im doing”.

                    Its not really joining cerberus that broke the plot,its the way it was done.”Hey,we brought you back to life,you work for us now./Ok,I work for you now,even though you specifically objected to putting any kind of mind controlling chip inside me,so I definitely should not do it.”.If you were infiltrating cerberus,or if you didnt know they were cerberus from the start,or if you were mind controlled/conditioned,those couldve worked.But like this?Nope.

                    However,just because they broke the plot does not mean they had to break the characters as well.Kashley was broken.And not just because they didnt trust shepard when she said “trust me”,but also because of the extremely idiotic “why didnt you call” line.They couldve done the same thing they did with wrex:”I dont approve of you working with cerberus,but I trust you.However,I have my duties,so I cannot come and help.Sorry shepard.” and it wouldve been fine,character preserved.

                    And no,kashley wasnt the only one risking actual desertion.Both joker and chakwas deserted(meaning they were broken as well,only for a different reason).

                    • swenson says:

                      Chakwas didn’t desert, she went through the right legal channels to get a leave or whatever it’s called. She actually brings this up in conversation in-game. (I’m replaying ME2 at the moment)

                      Of course she still went to work for a terrorist organization, which is probably not legal, but she didn’t desert.

                    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                      How is Kaidan/Ashley not risking desertion? They’re active duty military on a specific mission during ME2. They would ABSOLUTELY be deserting if they joined a Cerberus ship and started following Shepard’s orders without direct authorization (which even Shepard’s friends in command, Hackett and Anderson) would NOT have given at that time. They are subtly worried about Shep’s choices during 2 and only accept them by the ending.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      I didnt say they arent risking desertion,I said they arent the only one risking it.

                  • guy says:

                    I never got the impression any of the characters thought Shepard was an imposter. They all seemed convinced she was Shepard.

                    I actually don’t object to Kashley not wanting to join Cerberus even with Shepard. That’s a pretty extreme thing to do. What gets to me is that Kashley apparently knows you’re with Cerberus thanks to reading the script. You can show up with Garrus and Mordin and s/he still knows on sight. The much more plausible reaction in that scenario would be “hah, should have known those rumors about you and Cerberus were completely insane. Good luck on your deep cover mission; what do you want me to put in my report?”

      • Vect says:

        I always saw the whole “Splinter Group/Rogue Cell” as simply the buzzword that TIM and Cerberus use so that they can disavow anything that looks bad. TIM probably doesn’t give a shit as long as they get results.

        Of course, I also don’t think the player was at any point supposed to see TIM as anything but a bullshitter that you put up with but whose rhetoric you should never buy. The player is probably intended to just put up with him because he gives you all the resources you need.

        Would have been interesting to see the game at least do a sort of Non-Standard Game Over where you can try to say no to Cerberus/kill Miranda and Jacob, where it’d just tell you that you’re either stuck nowhere or Cerberus activates a kill command. At least it’d acknowledge that you have to put up with them.

        • Sartharina says:

          a cerberus cell goes Rogue when it loses sight of the ball, such as trying to play Digimon with Biotic Kids (Treating the kids as the Digimon), instead of actually focusing on improving their biotic potential through any means.

          Or if Cerberus doesn’t want to deal with the bad press of their actions.

  4. Daimbert says:

    I guess I’m again in the minority, as I actually LIKED Miranda, and I think she was in my party the whole time. I also kept Jack in the party most of the time, but neither myself nor my character ever liked her that much. I had a party of Miranda and Jack — up until I got Samara — because my Shepard would definitely want to being Miranda along — both to make her get her hands dirty AND to limit the time Miranda had to do things when Shepard wasn’t around — and since Jack was constantly on Miranda’s case about things making Miranda uncomfortable was something that she’d find amusing.

    I didn’t see the clash between Miranda and Jack the way you did, mostly because Jack, herself, pretty much started it. From the start Jack was ribbing Miranda about not just her relation to Cerberus — which was understandable — but also just about HER in general: calling her “cheerleader”, comments on her dress, and so on. Sure, Jack does that to EVERYBODY, but _I_ didn’t really take that from her so I didn’t really see any reason why MIRANDA had to. I liked the way you settle it after they almost come to blows, by somewhat siding with Jack but then essentially saying to Miranda “You’re supposed to be the one focused on the mission here, so stop letting it get to you”. Also, taking Miranda to Jack’s loyalty mission and vice versa works well for showing Miranda in a more conflicted light.

    I also don’t interpret her problems the same way you did. Her relationship to her father is more like the case of children of well-off parents who don’t actually spend any time with them or care about them; at the end, she realized that her father didn’t want a daughter, but a legacy, as she herself I think flat-out says. Thus, she only had the semblance of a family, not a real one, which IS something that reasonably causes issues for someone. This then ties into why she’s so concerned about her sister, and wanted to get her away from her father and safe; that’s the closest that she actually is to anything actually resembling a family. On top of that, she had to be perfect, which ties into the idea of a parent pushing their children too hard, except in her case it has the added weight where that’s what she was BUILT to be. Given that and her upbringing, it’s hard for her to admit that she might be wrong, but internally I think she really does doubt herself a lot. Thus, she has the arrogance that she has to have, but underneath has the doubts that she is perfect, and that her accomplishments are hers rather than just the result of genetics.

    While it’s not to the same degree, in essence both her and Jack’s backstories are fairly similar: both had their childhoods taken away from them by someone who was trying to build a perfect specimen and cared only for that and not for them at all. That Miranda wasn’t directly brutalized doesn’t mean that her backstory isn’t an example of “First World Problems”, and living a life of luxury doesn’t miraculously solve all of those issues.

    I also noticed but didn’t care much about the fanservice shots, mostly because those sorts of poses are NOT what you’d want to focus on to get my attention. To be honest, I found her voice more appealing, but that’s just me.

    At any rate, Jack was much improved in ME3, and I still did like Miranda.

    • somebodys_kid says:

      Miranda was also very useful in combat, which is the primary reason I kept her in my party.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Mostly because of her boost for the whole team.She is practically essential for higher difficulties.

        • Grudgeal says:

          If ever there was an argument for staying on easy mode in a game, ME2 comes very close to it.

          You have a game that derives so much of its appeal from its colourful character cast, and yet only two to three of them are usable on any given mission once you get into hard mode. The rest will just weigh you down in the gameplay because they’re not designed to handle foe X you’ll be facing in it, and some characters *cough*Jacob*cough*Jack*cough* are just blatantly worse than the others, period.

          • Lachlan the Mad says:

            Dragon Age Origins is by far the best argument for remaining in Easy mode forever, though.

            • djw says:

              Inquisition tempts me to go easy much more than origins. The AI tactics programming in Origins actually let me set my characters up so that they used abilities in a reasonable way when I wasn’t babysitting them, and the overhead tactical view allowed me to make plans.

              Inquisition deleted the (IMO) awesome tactics programming, and made the tactical camera a rage inducing nightmare. I’ve yet to bump it down in difficulty, but I also have not finished it yet.

              • guy says:

                I personally wasn’t happy with the tactics programming; it wasn’t elaborate enough to be a proper programming game where you’d script out attack combos on complex trigger conditions (favorite example: the blood mage AoE can’t be scripted to be used on groups of enemies who have blood, so my party members kept using it on groups of undead) and it meant the party member AI is no good unless you put in a lot of effort on scripting. DA:I companions are out of the box smart enough to match what i’d usually script up.

                Agreed on the tactical camera, though, the one in Inquisition is so terrible that I almost never used it even though I also love managing my party and also it’s the only way I found to check vulnerabilities and immunities.

            • Someonething says:

              I actually enjoyed my time playing DA:O on hard. There was a feeling of immense satisfaction when my whole party except Morrigan was taken out by a blood mage, only for Morrigan to absolutely wreck the blood mage and 3 Mooks all by herself.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            But higher difficulties are fun.Even though you end up using mostly the same team every time.

            • djw says:

              Yes. Insanity with an adept Shepard was fun (for certain definitions of fun that I happen to adhere too). Harbinger was actually terrifying.

              Miranda was extremely useful, but not mandatory (because adept Shepard has warp too). Anybody with overload could fill that spot instead, and that gives you fairly broad latitude for team composition.

              The real shame is that Jack was difficult to keep alive on insanity.

        • Khizan says:

          You can use whoever you want on Insanity pretty easily as long as you have counterskills for barrier/armor/shields in your group, and those are pretty wide-spread. Warp/Reave/Concussive Shot for anti-barrier. Overload/Energy Drain/Disruptor Ammo for Shield. Incinerate and Warp for Armor, with the caveat that big one-shot weapons are also devastating against it.

          Garrus is actually a goddamn beast and my clear pick for best teammate. Overload for shields, concussive shot for barriers, and a sniper rifle for everything else. My Insanity Game team was basically just Garrus yelling “Scoped and dropped!” over and over.

          • Shoeboxjeddy says:

            My pick for best (high difficulty level) teams are:

            Anti-armor missions
            -Miranda
            -Grunt

            Anti-robot missions
            -Miranda
            -Kasumi

            Anti-collectors missions
            -Grunt
            -Garrus or Miranda

            You can swap in Mordin on some of these teams, but he’s awful squishy. The best part about Grunt is that you don’t really have to babysit him, while Garrus has a shocking tendency to close to melee range while using a sniper unless you FORCE him to stay put (and sometimes he will ignore you anyway).

            Worst high difficulty teammates:
            -Jack (all powers that can’t breach protection… great)
            -Jacob (like Grunt or Garrus without any of the staying or hurting power)

            • Mike S. says:

              Garrus has a shocking tendency to close to melee range while using a sniper unless you FORCE him to stay put (and sometimes he will ignore you anyway).

              He and Dragon Age Inquisition’s Varric must be related.

            • Nidokoenig says:

              To be fair, being hit at point blank range with a sniper rifle will knock seven shades out of just about anything.

    • Henson says:

      I took Miranda on missions fairly regularly too, but mostly because I felt leaving both her and Jack on the ship together was a recipe for disaster. I’d take Jack along more, just to keep her away from my ship, except that I didn’t have any confidence in her ability to stay focused on the mission and not muck things up. Although that would be a good excuse to get rid of her, if only the game would let me…

    • boota says:

      one thing i don’t get is why sexual inuendo or “creative camera placement”is considered fan service. especially when it’s so awfully poorly done as it is in ME2

      maybe it’s lost in translation for me but i think fan service would be making for example in-jokes that are lost on players that didn’t play the first game.

      • Daimbert says:

        It’s been used to describe both, but using it for sexual innuendo is actually the better known usage, I think.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          The term comes from anime, where it’s always meant both, and spelled like it’s one word. Certain anime series that are obviously full of titillation and slapstick noticeable to someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, have also turned out to be full of gratuitous puns and Japanese culture references that are less noticeable if you’re not Japanese. Even NGE, a mostly-serious drama, explicitly points out “Don’t worry, there’s more fanservice next episode!” in one of the fourth-wall-breaking episode previews.

          • guy says:

            To be frank, at least in English I basically never see it used to mean anything except innuendo and sex appeal outside of people being pedantic about using it to mean that. Even people who translate Kanji puns as a hobby don’t use it that way.

          • Nimas says:

            God I actually remember that preview. I also remember that at the time I had *no* fucking clue as to what she was talking about (too young/never heard the term before).

          • Joe Informatico says:

            NGE played it as a joke. They’d claim there would be fanservice in almost every episode, but there never really was.

    • Drew C says:

      That just saved me having to type a wall of text. I agree but would add that Miranda always struck me as someone as seeing her accomplishments as not been truly hers due to her background.

      • Daimbert says:

        I write walls of text so YOU don’t have to [grin]!

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Ditto. I really relate to Miranda -she’s got imposter syndrome something fierce. She actually is a competent leader (she can lead the fire team in the suicide mission), but she lacks the confidence to do it naturally, and her attempt to compensate for her lack of confidence broadcasts “bitch.” Which she’s not. In ME3 when she no longer has to act tough, and when she is just acting on her own, a lot of her rough edges disappear.

        That said, the story is not kind to her. Miranda developing the confidence to be a leader -a la Garrus in the fist game -would have been good. But that development either never happens, or maybe happens off screen between games.

        And the camera, oh the camera. At a certain point, I as the player start getting uncomfortable with the extent to which is is in love with her posterior.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    We can’t be in awe of her and pity her at the same time

    Sure we can.Thats basically what 47 is like in the first hitman game.Only he doesnt constantly whine about being a guinea pig,nor does he constantly pose for a swim suit calendar.

    But the whole thing is ridiculously undercut by the fact that the director stuffs the camera halfway up her ass when we try to talk to her.

    And she has those ridiculous pants that go up her crack(s) for some reason.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shame you didnt do kasumi,because she is cool.In kasumi you can see the prototype of how mass effect 3 handles your crew.Its a neat idea,and one that was thankfully explored more later.She doesnt redeem the game,but still she gives some nice fluff.

    Zaed has grenades.Thats about all I remember about him.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I dont like the twist with grunt.Yes,he is a nice guy,and there are some fun interactions with him,but for a supposedly super krogan,he isnt that much super,and according to other krogans he isnt much of a krogan either.Ultimately though,he is just another krogan soldier,which is orders of magnitude less interesting than a krogan scientist.Id love to have an actual krogan scientist to talk with.

    • guy says:

      Grunt is basically a teenager, so he has growing to do to become the perfect Krogan.

    • boota says:

      that would require intelligent writing though

    • Henson says:

      I never let Grunt out of his tank. Too much of an unknown factor. So, essentially, that entire planet was a wash for me.

      Actually, even if I took Grunt, I’d be disappointed. We were supposed to get someone with useful knowledge about the Collectors, and instead we got yet another soldier. The plot is back to square one.

      (The irony for me is that, since I never let Grunt out of his tank, he was one of the only people to survive to the end of the game)

      • Thomas says:

        I disliked Grunt not on a writing level, but as in, in person he would frighten me and I’d disagree with him. A perfectly nice guy who very quickly learns he gets off on killing and sees it all as a fun sporting context? Very Krogan but completely terrifying.

        Wrex enjoyed his job, but it was a job. He liked the challenge but it’s not as though he’d bother to do it all if someone wasn’t paying him. Grunt is a strong argument against the Krogan culture and maybe even Race given that it basically seems genetic with him

        • Mike S. says:

          It’s genetic but not only genetic. Okeer put in a bunch of memories that are initially just data, until he starts to connect to them. It’s true that the connection is relishing the violence, but it’s hard to know what he would have been like if he’d been preloaded with a bunch of scientists or artists rather than warriors. Or if his adoptive parent hadn’t immediately made it clear that he was valued primarily for his prowess in battle against bugs and robots and human mercs. Grunt is what Okeer and Shepard made him.

          (Still combative surely. But the krogan do include individuals who don’t gratuitously rip people’s heads off, and they have social structures that tamp down the bloodshed.)

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Grunt is actually an INCREDIBLE Krogan. The dialogue about him being crap is just initial (prejudiced) impressions. The mission where he helps you out in 3 is one of the best, and then his return in the Citadel DLC is EASILY one of the best out of all the returning characters. I do agree that a Krogan Scientist would have been interesting, but with Mordin on the ship as well, perhaps a tad repetitive?

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        I do agree that a Krogan Scientist would have been interesting, but with Mordin on the ship as well, perhaps a tad repetitive?

        Oh, probably… But they could bicker charmingly, and that might make up for it.

        • Chauzuvoy says:

          In an alternate ME3 we’d walk into that lab on Salaria (or whatever the planet was named) to find Mordin and Okeer singing a duet while putting the final touches on the genophage cure.

    • Khizan says:

      The other krogans who say he isn’t much of a krogan are basically just prejudiced jerkbags who dislike him because he’s tankbred.

      Krogan being krogan, Grunt solves this by killing people who are insulting jerkbags, and krogan being krogan, this works and they accept him.

    • Couscous says:

      I wanted the krogan clone played by Worf to be on the team. He sounded much more interesting.

  8. Raygereio says:

    He’s supposedly “free” with the digital version, but I’ve logged into “Cerberus Network”, the BioWare Store, Origin, AND the EA Store looking for answers, and their help pages all link to old answers for stuff that changed years ago. I should supposedly have him, but he never shows up and I don’t know which one of these half-dozen barely-connected systems is responsible for this lapse in DLC delivery.

    You grab the Zaeed DLC installer from here: https://social.bioware.com/user_entitlements.php You can login with your Origin account.All the DLC for the non-Origin version of DA:O, DA2 & ME2 can be found there.
    You can buy the ME2 DLC here: https://social.bioware.com/page/me2-dlc

    Observent people might notice that the site liniked above is Bioware’s old forums. Their current forums does not have the DLC store, or download links for owned DLC. As far as I know, the Social Network isn’t even linked of Bioware’s main site anymore. It’s possible the whole Social Network may disappear without warning, at which point getting the DLC for DA:O, DA2 & ME2 will become interesting.
    This is something Bioware already did once before with their original, pre-Social Network forums (despite promises to keep it online as an archive) which contained the download links for ME1 DLCs.

    If anyone ends up buying the DLC through the above links. Here’s a fun fact: You may notice that the smallest amount of goobledogock points you can buy is 400. Some DLC costs 320, or 160 points.
    Originally the only amount you could select in the ME2 points store was 800. It took me and several others bitching at Bioware devs directly for them to change that. Bioware’s Community Manager (Chris Priestly at the time) completely ignored complaints.
    At some point you could buy 320 & 160 point amounts from a different points store, which you could get directed to via the Dragon Age: Origin’s DLC page. Why have several different points stores? That’s a very good question to which I’m glad I don’t have the answer, because I don’t want to understand madness of this scale. However at some point the DA:O store page was removed and now when buying DA:O DLC, you’re directed to the DA2 points store which sadly has the same limited point amount choices as the ME2 one.
    As far as I know though, EA had no direct involvement with this. Bioware set the whole Bioware points thing up themselves. What EA is at fault for is not putting up the DLC on Origin the moment they moved to that platform.

    • Zekiel says:

      It really is incredible how poor it is. It makes me sad, cos I’d have loved to play Lair of the Shadow Broker (which is apparently Very Good). But I couldn’t bring myself to buy because
      a) It is so complicated
      b) The price of the DLC was actually more than what I paid for the entirety of ME2 in a Steam sale, and it never ever seems to go on sale

      So I didn’t. I managed to get Zaeed (free) but not any DLC I had to pay for.

      Well played EA, well played.

    • Bropocalypse says:

      I wonder whether the amount of money earned by this swindlish behavior outweighs the cost of developing it on these secondary and tertiary digital platforms. Probably not once you add in the number of those who are alienated by it.

    • Merlin says:

      “user_entitlements.php”

      STOP CALLIN’ ME A JERK, BIOWARE

    • Theminimanx says:

      You can also download the ME2 DLC through Origin, which is what I tend to do nowadays*. The ME2 CD key you got through Steam/physical disk/whatever works with Origin, and if your Bioware account is the same as your Origin account (which it almost certainly is), any DLC you bought from Bioware is also available through Origin.

      *Because fuck downloading gigabyte-sized files through a webbrowser where you have to restart from scratch if the connection falters for even a split-second.

      • Trix2000 says:

        This is how I ended up doing it, and while it still has significant annoyances (they’re STILL full price? AND the points thing?) it at least worked without too much trouble for me. But figuring out it was an option and navigating their interface was… fun.

        Certainly didn’t make me like Bioware/EA more.

    • Um, the DLC is on Origin (kinda hidden though). If you own Mass Effect 2, hit the i button on it in your library and that’ll take you to the list of DLC (with prices listed in points because well, Origin needs to suck at something, it’s in their contract). I’d guess that works for ME3 too, but I don’t own it so I have no idea.
      You can also add the CD keys from Steam into Origin (or at least I was able to) so I got the Z-dude that way as I’d bought a ME2 bundle at some point I guess.

      Of course, the stupidity of not being able to see the DLC without owning the game on Origin goes without saying.

    • Someonething says:

      It’s a bit like getting the premium modules for NWN. I own the right to play them since I bought it from gog, but I could only find them via some obscure forum link. Or something like that, It’s actually been a couple years since I found them.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There are a few “fetch quests” in Mass Effect 2
    .
    .
    .
    It’s just a way to get credits and XP, which were never the point of these quests.

    At least its not this.What the hell were they thinking with that?

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Sooo,are there any “complete” versions of mass effect that come prebundled with all of the dlcs?Or do you have to always get all of them separately?

    • Xedo says:

      Not to my knowledge. You can get some DLC through the digital deluxe versions, but only the day 1 content. If you can get the ME3 deluxe at 75% off (this almost never happens) you can get the game and the From Ashes dlc for less than $10. That’s the closest to a DLC sale I’ve ever seen from Bioware.

      I was shocked when they announced a GOTY of Dragon Age 3 with all DLC. They haven’t done one of those in forever (not since DA:O, and I has assumed they never would again).

    • Yes, but that depends on how you’re willing to “acquire” them.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Ah yes,pirates once more offering the superior product for the price of $0.

        • Nimas says:

          I find it interesting personally as to my purchases with regards to the Mass Effect series. First game I’ve bought twice (once physically, once because I wasn’t sure where the disk was and couldn’t be bothered to find it) and finished 2-3 times. The second I bought years after it was released on sale somewhere, and couldn’t even finish (finished loyalty missions and just sort of stopped). The third I pirated, and never even played, and likely will never play. (note ME3 was the only game I’ve pirated in the last 9-10 years, as I’ve actually got money to spend now that I have a job)

    • MichaelGC says:

      There’s an ME2 Ultimate Edition on the PS3 which includes everything, but it is only for the PS3. Baffled as to why. There’s even a Collector’s seewhattheydidthere Edition on PC which is still selling for nearly 100 bucks – and as far as I can tell that includes none of the DLC.

      Maybe they thought they could fully rinse the PC & Xbox players as they’re more likely to be hooked on the series, having played the first? Dunno.

  11. Xedo says:

    Kasumi was a pretty good character with a few poor omissions. There’s no recruitment mission for her or for Zaeed. They just show up close to the dock on two planets and have a quick conversation. They have pretty good loyalty missions (Kasumi’s is actually great). But afterwards, they don’t have dialogue wheels when you make the rounds on the Normandy.

    I really like the mechanics for how the characters advance in time on the ship. After each mission, the ‘tell me about yourself’ option will trigger a new conversation. It lets you slowly learn more about the characters over time and creates an illusion of time passing and bonds forging. Kasumi and Zaeed don’t have this. They just spout single sentences when clicked on. New lines will be added to comment on various quests you’ve completed since then, so they can comment on whatever you’ve done most recently. I guess they didn’t have the Shepard voice actors record dialogue to converse with the DLC characters? Even though they were brought in to voice conversations for recruitment and loyalty missions with them?

    I value the companions for the recruitment mission, loyalty mission, and the sequence of dialogue options that grow the character over time. Kasumi cost money, and only gave 1 of those 3. I was annoyed! Is that how the ME3 dlc character is treated too? (to clarify: the loyalty mission is so good and enjoyable that I would still recommend her DLC even though her character doesn’t get developed over time the way the others do, she just doesn’t make my A squad of Bioware companions due to these omissions).

    • StashAugustine says:

      ME3 character gets a mission to recruit him, there’s no loyalty missions in that game but he does behave as a fully integrated squadmate (conversations with Shepard and the other crew.)

      • Trix2000 says:

        Yeah, there’s actually quite a bit of dialog (both directly and in-combat banter/comments) for him along with his own little scene on the Citadel. He’s not all THAT critical to the game (despite being a Prothean) but he’s an interesting addition that I kind-of liked.

      • Khizan says:

        You really need to bring him to Thessia when you visit, he has great lines about the asari.

        • Mike S. says:

          Though his presence steps on the one time Shepard’s possession of the Cipher becomes important post-ME1.

        • swenson says:

          Although IMO for the best experience, you should play through Thessia for the first time without him, to get a feel for what the asari think without Protheans around to comment rudely, then play through with him, to get his comments on the situation.

  12. Wide And Nerdy says:

    We’re supposed to believe that this lady is a brilliant medical researcher, and a badass merc, and a super-biotic, and the leader of the research project that CURED DEATH, and a natural team leader, and she barely looks thirty.

    I don’t like this either but lets pare it down a bit.

    1) She is engineered to be brilliant so having multiple areas of competence is to be expected. The biotics and slow aging fall under that two (she’s supposed to be older than she looks).
    2) Brilliant medical researcher and curing death kind of fall together. If she can do the latter then she must necessarily be the former.
    3) She’s been put in charge of teams but I don’t think anybody holds her out as being a natural leader other than herself. Nobody on the ship seems to like her aside from maybe Jacob. There are multiple people who can object to Miranda’s suggestion that she lead during the suicide mission. And Wilson, the only other person on the Lazarus project was ready to let her die. There’s also the fact that both she and TIM think its a better idea to spend billions resurrecting you as opposed to spending a tiny fraction of that to give her genius self some leadership training and a PR push to fill the role of humanity’s rallying figure instead.

    Honestly, the only thing that seems particularly implausible about it is that she was engineered to be a super biotic. If we understood biotics enough to make a Miranda that’s supposedly a top notch biotic, why did we need to torture Jack for years? I don’t even find it all that jarring that her ability with biotics in game doesn’t match up with her statements. There’s clearly a lot of training that goes into fully utilizing your biotic abilities and it could be that Miranda’s potential is not fully developed there because she’s has so many other aptitudes to develop.

    As for the big round issue in the room.
    1) Casey Hudson has defended it by saying that there are supposedly just as many such shots of Jacob. I’ve never fact checked that but I know that argument wouldn’t fly with certain people even if it was factually true because, without getting into detail, its all about context. And I kind of agree with them here.

    2) She has nothing on Regina.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The whole leader thing is extra weird when you consider that a leader needs charisma along with tactical skills.Miranda has the later,but lacks the former.She also knows this.And she is supposedly both smart and educated enough to know the difference between a leader and a tactician.So why does she consider herself to be a brilliant leader?

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I don’t think even she does. The only time I remember her recommending herself to lead a team is during the suicide squad mission and it could be she just believes her supposed tactical and technical competence is what is needed more than charisma. This is a team of mostly professionals after all (The only real exceptions are Kasumi, Grunt and Jack) who have had time to get familiar with each other. They’d just be looking to her to coordinate the mission they already signed on for.

        I believe Miranda makes a pretty good XO or similar position, one who can implement the details of someone else’s vision.

        • Daimbert says:

          Charisma in a leader is required to inspire them to take on the missions and do their best. In the suicide mission and with your team, that’s not a problem; everyone’s already as inspired as they’re going to be. So what you need is a leader who can tell them to do the right things at the right time, and Miranda is DEFINITELY good at doing that.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Yeah. That’s what I was getting at.

            Her big shortcoming as an XO is that an XO needs to be able to take over as a CO, which is where Miranda’s lack of charisma makes her less than ideal.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Professionals,maybe,but not professional soldiers.Thane works mostly alone,mordin is mostly used to infiltration,tali is still young and resents cerberus,and legion doesnt really understand organics.You just need a single situation of “Tali hold position over there!/Negative,I need to hack that on the opposite side!” in order for the whole thing to go sideways.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Mordin could certainly adapt. He’s brilliant, has worked on multiple types of teams, leading and serving, and as a Salarian he can emotionally adapt very quickly. Plus, he has the entire game to get used to the way you operate which for him is gracious plenty time.

            Tali resents Cerberus but she is extremely loyal to Shepard.

            Legion would have the least issues of anyone present acting as a soldier. He mostly lacks emotions and is used to following orders.

            As for Thane, he may work alone but he is conditioned to view himself as an instrument used by others, separating his ego from his body. He doesn’t kill people, the people who hire him to kill people are the killers. He may not be used to being micromanaged but the game should give him enough time to adapt.

      • Raygereio says:

        The whole leader thing is extra weird when you consider that a leader needs charisma along with tactical skills

        Having charisma, the ability to inspire people, the force of personality that makes people follow you, or just plain old being likable can certainly come in handy. But none of those is an actual requirement to be an effective leader.
        I’ve worked under people who I disliked, even intensely despised in case. But I still worked with them and got the job done. You don’t have to hang out, share a beer and have fun with someone, in order to follow their orders.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Charisma does not mean being likable.Being intimidating,presenting yourself as you are the most competent person in the room,both of those are charisma.

          The difference is that a charismatic person will be able to make you do something even if you dont think its a good idea.If an uncharismatic person tells you to do something you dont agree with,you will not do it,or try to appear you are doing it while doing something else,or do it slower,or sloppier,or argue with them,or whatever.

          • Raygereio says:

            The difference is that a charismatic person will be able to make you do something even if you dont think its a good idea.

            Charisma doesn’t do that. Trust does.
            I worked under people who I didn’t like on a personal level – who were uncharismatic, but who I still trusted with my life. And whose orders I followed despite in some cases thinking that these were stupid.

    • Raygereio says:

      And Wilson, the only other person on the Lazarus project was ready to let her die.

      Wilson was really to let everyone die. He was hired by the Shadow Broker to sabotage the Lazarus project.

      As for the butt chat:

      Casey Hudson has defended it by saying that there are supposedly just as many such shots of Jacob.

      There are several shots Jacob’s “assets”. I don’t know the number, but they’re there. However, in none of Jacob’s is the cinematography (camera angle, lighting, etc), arrayed in such a manner as to completely focus your attention on the butt, like in Miranda’s.
      Also Miranda’s body model is absurd. Even without the camera lovingly staring at it, you’d be hard pressed not to notice her humongous ass and breasts considering their size and with Miranda wearing a frigging catsuit. The women needs some serious mass effect fields just to be able to walk upright.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Not to mention that you never see the outlines of his penis through his clothes.You see the outlines of mirandas vagina through her clothes.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Somebody in charge needs charisma on a mission like this.

        You’re assembling a team of people of different species and factions to go on a suicide mission to stop a threat that is currently only bugging humans and is hard to prove as being a major threat, especially beyond humans.

        I’m guessing that those people you didn’t like who you worked for weren’t asking you to risk your life for their cause. Even then, I’m guessing it would be for something like a military where you’ve all sworn allegiance to the same higher purpose, rather than being pulled into a diverse multinational team to fight for a foreigner’s cause.

        • Raygereio says:

          Somebody in charge needs charisma on a mission like this.

          I disagree. But let’s avoid a yes-no-yes-no style argument. There isn’t anything I can say in reply to you, that wasn’t in my previous post.

          That said: The game clearly presents Shepard as being that somebody.

        • Shamus says:

          Also, if you make Jack and Miranda loyal her lack of charisma and tact causes a fight. Like, they were going to have a violent biotic battle simply because Miranda refused to admit that torturing kids was wrong. No matter how you cut it, Miranda is a bad leader.

          * If Jack is unreasonable and crazy, then why did Miranda support having her on the team, and why did she antagonize Jack?
          * If Jack’s demand is reasonable, then why didn’t Miranda just suck it up and admit that Cerberus wan’t perfect. I would have demanded the same thing, if the dialog wheel had given me the option.

          Either way, Miranda’s bullshit causes a problem that Shepard has to sort out.

          (Fun fact: I refuse to use the paragade prompts to go neutral. I just side with Jack. I’m not going to pretend Jack doesn’t have a point just to keep Miranda’s loyalty.)

          • Daimbert says:

            This is where I think you’re describing it in a misleading way. I just rewatched it, and consider that it’s in Miranda’s office, and that JACK is the one that says that Miranda won’t admit that what they did was wrong, and Miranda’s defense is that it wasn’t Cerberus that did it, not really, with perhaps the antagonistic cheap shot that Jack was clearly a mistake. Essentially, Jack is the one who starts it all off, and you’re complaining that Miranda isn’t willing to just take Jack’s crap, or say things that she doesn’t believe (ie that Cerberus is responsible for what was done to her).

            Ultimately, if anyone is being antagonistic here, it’s JACK. But Jack antagonizes everyone. Which is why I really liked the option of going back to Miranda after and telling her that’s SHE’S supposed to be the one who can be above that, and that expecting Jack not to be an antagonistic … person doesn’t make sense.

            • guy says:

              For one thing, Miranda is allegedly smart and should know that arguing with and insulting a serial killer with a grudge is a bad idea without being told that. For another, even discounting that ME3 reveals that the “rogue cells” are nothing of the sort, Miranda is totally in the wrong. TIM gave them massive amounts of money and resources and didn’t take any action to keep them from going clear out into murderous insanity.

              • Daimbert says:

                For one thing, Miranda is allegedly smart and should know that arguing with and insulting a serial killer with a grudge is a bad idea without being told that.

                Why? Considering that Miranda is pretty confident that she could take Jack in a fight, and that Jack isn’t the sort of person to be subtle about trying to kill her, there’s no reason to be afraid of Jack … and a lot of reasons — both psychological and practical — for Miranda to not let Jack intimidate her. The worst case is that Miranda kills Jack, but unless Miranda thinks that Jack is absolutely crucial and, more importantly, more crucial to the mission than Miranda is, that’s not something for her to worry about.

                For another, even discounting that ME3 reveals that the “rogue cells” are nothing of the sort, Miranda is totally in the wrong. TIM gave them massive amounts of money and resources and didn’t take any action to keep them from going clear out into murderous insanity.

                Miranda does have a bit of a blinkered view of Cerberus, which is indeed a flaw. But to use that against her here is to ignore Jack’s flaw of not being able to separate Miranda from Cerberus. From the perspective of Shepard, Jack’s no better than Miranda is, and Jack causes more problems.

                • guy says:

                  Jack is explicitly a more powerful biotic than Miranda and introduced herself by flattening a trio of heavy mechs. Story-wise, if Miranda thinks she can win a fight with Jack she’s delusional.

                  • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                    Well let’s see where the characters went afterwards to see who was more formidable storywise… Miranda leads a mercenary campaign of destruction following ME2, destroying Cerberus assets and avoiding Alliance capture attempts. Left to her own devices, she locates her father’s plans and nearly foils them single handed (only slapped down by the writer’s favorite go to plot hack: Kai Leng).

                    Jack becomes a tutor to biotic students. Left to her own devices, she is defeated and captured by Cerberus, and turned into one of their Phantoms against her will. Methinks that instance in ME2 was overselling it a bit and they reigned her powers in everywhere else.

                    • djw says:

                      Miranda is probably smarter than Jack, but not necessarily more powerful.

                      Jack can maintain the biotic shield during the suicide mission without any deaths, but as far as I know Miranda cannot.

                    • guy says:

                      That says very little about their personal combat ability. It means that Miranda can lead a mercenary force on raids more effectively than Jack can lead a bunch of students, many of whom are tech or math geniuses rather than biotics, against a large-scale Cerberus assault on a fixed location.

                    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                      What (I was implying) it says is that Jack may have the raw power, but Miranda has the experience and tactical smarts to beat Jack, if it came to that. Miranda certainly has enough biotic skill to avoid being killed instantly by a uh… Jack attack, which Jack seems to know since she never just attacks without at least winding herself up first.

                    • Khizan says:

                      Jack is stranded in a freaking space station with limited resources and a pack of students to defend and Cerberus has, essentially, unlimited goons. Miranda has huge advantages in resources and, most importantly, mobility. She’s a moving target and harder to hit.

                      Reverse their situations and Jack is flattening Cerberus bases and Miranda’s dead on a space station.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              This is like if an adult and a child were arguing and the adult’s defense was “He started it.” Miranda is supposed to be mature and intelligent (she’s older than she looks too) and more importantly she’s actually been put in a position of responsibility and leadership. Jack is just there to do violence to things and with her background, it would be wrong to expect more of her especially since she’s working for the people who did this to her.

              Yes Miranda needed to stand up to Jack but she could have been firm without making it personal. Think about the romance with Jack, if you accept Jack’s first offer, Kelly rightly points out that Jack won’t respect you. You’ve sunk to her level and affirmed her transactional view point on people. And thats exactly what Miranda is doing with her personal insults.

              Speaking of romances, consider what Miranda does if you romance her. She takes you down to Jack’s area, having cleared everyone else out. This is horrible behavior for a leader.

              • Daimbert says:

                Which, as I said, is EXACTLY why I love the resolution where you can, indeed, point all of that out to Miranda and get her to realize that.

                Also, I don’t think that Miranda makes a good leader, at least in ME2, because she isn’t likeable and can’t make people respect her. Without being able to do either, she’s not going to be able to inspire people and so won’t be able to lead. Shepard can do either … and sometimes both.

                • Wide And Nerdy says:

                  I liked that part too. It was exactly what I was thinking in that situation and exactly why I sided with Jack. It was nice to be able to articulate that. Its also nice that Miranda accepts that reasoning.

              • Mike S. says:

                Tali’s area, unless it’s possible to vary. Which Kasumi plaintively comments on afterwards: “That’s where Tali works!” And really that’s even worse, since it’s an area that’s visible from the windows on every level of the ship.

                That and her wardrobe are explicable in terms of Miranda being an exhibitionist who wants to stake her claim in full view of her rivals, but that isn’t really integrated into the rest of her personality. (She can be icily professional or she can be a blatant femme fatale seductress parading her conquests, but the two don’t combine well.)

            • Keeshhound says:

              In the context of discussing Miranda’s leadership quality the point still stands though. Even if responsibility for the argument falls solely on Jack being antagonistic, a key element of leadership ability is being able to defuse those situations rather than escalate them. If Miranda wants to claim that she’s leadership material then it falls to her to deescalate the conflict rather than pouring gasoline on it.

          • Raygereio says:

            Like, they were going to have a violent biotic battle simply because Miranda refused to admit that torturing kids was wrong.

            The problem in that situation was Jack, not Miranda. Jack wanted to punch Cerberus and sought Miranda – the conveniently available face of Cerberus – out and started antagonizing her. Not the other way around.
            Given what we see of Jack’s character, even if Miranda had admitted guilt Jack would have found another excuse , or more likely started punching anyway.

            If Jack is unreasonable and crazy, then why did Miranda support having her on the team, and why did she antagonize Jack?

            It’s been a while since ME2, but I recall Miranda not being all that crazy about having Jack on the team.
            The main problem here though is that Jack’s character from concept to execution is kind of absurd. “Hey, let’s introduced a sociopath, who has zero respect for authority, a history of extreme violence and a personal grudge to the organization that’s funding this mission, to the team. There’s no way that could cause problems!”
            One wonders how drunk TIM was when he forwarded that dossier.

            • Daimbert says:

              This is why my character wasn’t all that thrilled about her, too. My character was a tough, anything to get the job done, and even somewhat antagonistic person herself, but she didn’t want to put up with the outright sociopathy and insubordination of Jack. But Jack could kill things, and so putting her in a position to kill things was exactly what my character would do. Miranda, at least, my character could respect … but that didn’t stop her from trying to make her uncomfortable by having her interact with someone who hated her for her link to Cerberus, where the hatred for Cerberus was the only hatred that was actually reasonable. Heck, it would force Miranda to see outside of her blinkered perspective on Cerberus, which was likely to be a good thing for me since, well, my character didn’t trust them as far as she could throw them.

            • Shoeboxjeddy says:

              Cerberus created one of the most powerful human biotics in the galaxy who is now a known thrill seeker with no fear of death and a well known love for combat and danger. It makes sense to take her on this dangerous suicide combat mission IF you can get her to overlook the logos all over the ship. Which Shepard cleverly does by offering Jack open access to Cerberus resources and databases (because Shepard don’t give a shit about Cerberus operational security). Pretty much the only concern I have with the storyline is that Shepard should have the opportunity to kick people off the ship whose loyalty he loses. That way if the Miranda/Jack argument goes pear shaped and Jack states that she won’t listen to the Commander anymore, you can just let her out at the next stop you make and move on.

              • Dork Angel says:

                I didn’t mind Miranda that much up until the confrontation with Jack. I even took her down to the planet on Jack’s loyalty mission to try and let her see the reason for Jack’s hatred of Cerberus. In the end though it wasn’t just Miranda’s attitude to Jack during the confrontation that bugged me but her continual strop afterwards if you side with Jack. As my second in command I expected more maturity from her. In the final mission I even let Jacob lead the team over her as I no longer considered her a competent leader. We did patch things up in ME3 though.

    • Thomas says:

      I’m pretty sure Migrants isn’t a brilliant researcher. She was the project overseer, not the lead researcher. Her job was to make sure the researchers were keeping to The Illusive Man’s specifications and that they had the resources they needed. It was Wilson who I assume did the magic.

      What I get from Miranda is that she’s averagely brilliant. She’s smart enough to understand the summary the researchers give her, can probably even take an assistants role in surgery, beat a competent biotic like Jacob, she’s organised but uninspiring and efficient but not world shaking.

      She was given a leg up in life and then her esteem issues didn’t give her the proper drive and motivation to actually shake up the world. So at first she’s jealous of Shepard and eventually respectful because Shepard does make the most of what they’re given

  13. Vect says:

    Kasumi and Zaeed are cool characters, though the former seems a bit weird to have around. She’s basically the galaxy’s best thief, which doesn’t seem like it’d much use in the Suicide Mission (she does count as a tech specialist however). She’s a pretty cool character (you can’t actually talk to her on the ship, but she does have interesting things to say about the other companions) and her mission at least gets you the only good SMG of the game.

    Zaeed’s a pissed-off grizzled old merc dude similar to Canderous but without the whole Honorable Warrior schtick. He makes sense as someone you’d want to recruit (veteran mercenary who will do just about any job as long as the price is good enough) and he’s got some entertaining stories about how he gets everyone around him killed. Funny enough, he’s actually a shitty choice for a Fire Team Leader despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he’s the founder of the Blue Suns because he’s a shitty commander who throws his allies into the fire to save his own ass.

  14. Spammy says:

    So… upon reflection, I realized that I might have actually preferred having Okeer in my party. The conversation with Okeer makes him very interesting. He’s driven, he has his own view on events, he answers the question of “What are Krogan scientists like?” The implication would be that they’re all ends-driven and liable to do things we’d consider unethical in the name of their research.

    And imagine if Okeer had joined your party and he and Mordin were Science Buddies. I would imagine that Okeer would end up thinking well of Mordin (possibly to the latter’s chagrin) for his work with the genophage. They’re scientists on the opposite sides of the conflict, but with similar mentalities.

    But Bioware pulled a gotcha on us and we got Steve Blum.

    • Mike S. says:

      While it might overcomplicate things for the future, there might be an argument for making Mordin and Okeer alternatives to one another– you can either have a salarian architect of the genophage, or someone who sees it as a challenge to be met and mastered. Which could have offered more possible outcomes for ME3.

      E.g., Okeer might be on board with sabotaging the cure as being ultimately better for krogan greatness (and krogan survival– if krogan growth rates lead to a new war and they lose, there’s no way the turians would settle for anything than extinction). Maybe you have to shoot Okeer to deploy the unaltered cure.

      • Orillion says:

        Mordin and Grunt were actually supposed to have a “disagreement scene” much like Tali/Legion and Miranda/Jack., resulting in (without enough paragade points) the loss of loyalty from one or both. Imagine how much more interesting it’d be with Okeer and Mordin.

        • Spammy says:

          Or imagine their character arcs being linked. If Mordin’s loyalty mission was still about either convincing him the genophage was wrong or reassuring him it was right/necessary. If you get Mordin to admit that it was wrong maybe his new conscience can help him get Okeer to devote his talents to helping the Krogan rebuild rather than try to replace them with his Krogan super soldiers. Or maybe you make Mordin more like Okeer and they become even more ends-driven and willing to do terrible things for their science.

  15. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    Special note on Origin fuckery: console Bioware is MUCH better. Every Mass Effect 2 and 3 DLC has gone on sale, more than once. The sale prices are reasonable, as far as these things go. You don’t have to buy special Bioware Muppet points, you can just buy it through the standard console store. It’s regrettable that they had to be so pigheaded about this, you’d actually think Origin would force ME DLC into the Battlefield box and make it very simple to purchase without a unique currency. For this, I blame Bioware itself, rather than EA as a whole.

  16. Thomas says:

    Me2 has essentially the same village structure as 1. You have two worlds with missions and npcs you speak to inbetween missions (feros and noveria vs ilium and omega). In both there’s no interaction with the npcs during the mission, but in Me2 that’s because of specially divided missions and in me1 it’s just geographical distance and design. You can kind of talk to people in mission in feros more but ilos is just the same deal as say all the mini missions on ilium.

    • Mike S. says:

      Good point. (Tuchanka’s another world like that in ME2, with plenty of atmospheric chats and sidequest givers.)

      For example, it looks like there’s roughly the same number of opportunities to chat with people and help them out on Feros and on Illium.

      With Feros, there’s the water, power, and food quests, plus getting the executive’s data and getting rid of the geth transmitter.

      With Illium, there’s gettiing Conrad Verner off Aethyta’s back, helping out a asari vendor and her krogan suitor with their romantic problems, resolving the quarian’s indenture, aiding Gianna Parisini with another corporate thing (if you helped her on Noveria), and helping the Feros colonists themselves with an unconscionable contract. In many of the cases you can also chat with the people involved more generally.

      (There are also a bunch of things you run across in the combat zones that you can return to their grateful owners, which is less interesting but sometimes fun in its own way. E.g., returning stolen goods to the very cultured krogan Thax.)

      On the one hand, the Feros quests are much more focused on the problem at hand. Talking to the Feros colonists early on is full of hidden clues about their situation (more noticeable on a second playthrough), and most of the sidequests are things you’d reasonably ask a heavily armed soldier for. Mostly doing things in geth-occupied territory that anyone else would get killed trying. Though the guy who wants files from his desktop has a lot of nerve. (I love the callback to it in ME3, though.)

      On the other, the ME2 Illium sidequests are often more interesting and more varied than shooting wild dogs or turning cranks in a tunnel. Playing Dear Prudence to an asari who’s doubtless old enough to be your great-great grandmother is kind of ridiculous (albeit no more so than playing genetic counselor in ME1). But it’s also kind of sweet. (And I like seeing how that romance plays out when you go to Tuchanka later– assuming you advise her to accept his suit– and its sad but affecting conclusion in ME3.) Aethyta is one of the best minor characters in the game. The whole go-round about indentures on Illium is an interesting bit of worldbuilding (where at first it seems like a straightforward indenture=slavery=bad situation).

      I think it’s not so much that ME2 had less “talking to peasants” than ME1 as that while ME1 had sidequest planets (where there’s no one to talk to) and story planets (where there is), ME2 has story planets combined with long story segments (the recruitment and loyalty missions) where there’s mostly no one to talk to but it feels as if maybe there should be.

      Though occasionally there is: e.g., the creepy prisoner chats in the runup to Jack’s recruitment mission, multiple talking encounters and requests for help while approaching Mordin in the plague zone, the people in the club when going after Morinth, etc.

  17. Ravens Cry says:

    ♪Shot of the butt,
    And you’re to blame,
    You give games a bad name.
    I play my part, just want to play my game,
    But you give games a bad name.
    You give games a bad name♫
    (With no apologies to Bon Jovi)

  18. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    Regarding the DLC party members:

    Zaeed’s mission has a really neat Heavy Weapon (flamethrower) you get to keep that they brought back to ME3 proper as a mission-gimmick weapon. His powers are somewhat suboptimal, and his dialogue on the ship is unfortunately limited, but his presence on missions as Pure Renegade is great. If you take him and Jack and play Renegade, the dialogues are bad cop, badder cop, and best cop.

    Kasumi’s mission has the best SMG in the game in it, which for a majority of classes means it should be one of the first missions you take on. It’s also a great loyalty mission in its own right, with fancy dressed up Shepard, skulking around, and a good ending. Kasumi herself is actually a top tier squadmate, her powers are the BEST for killing robots and shielded commandos in the game (better than Tali, the supposed robot expert in the group). Her comments on ship are limited like Zaeed’s but she has a really fun personality and actually talks about other crew members frequently. A very worthwhile addition to the game.

    • Mike S. says:

      Lots of people like the flamethrower, but I must be a dunce with it. I always regretted taking it. Granted, I tend to keep my distance where possible, which makes its short range a problem. But even with up-close classes like Vanguard it never seemed to be the right weapon for me.

      I tended to gravitate to the Collector beam, the Cain (granted, the definition of awesome but impractical[1], but when it works it really works), and occasionally the arc projector.

      [1] My absolute favorite Cain-related incident was watching over my wife’s shoulder. She was on Haestrum, and had gotten to the bit when the window opens, one of your companions shouts “Colossus!!!” and you have to make your way across one of several heavily defended routes to take it out (after talking to Kal’Reegar).

      Or you can do what she did: scream, unlimber the Cain, and immediately fire it through the window.

      On Normal, at least, that works a treat, ending the fight right there.

      (I was especially chagrined comparing it to my multiply-failed efforts to reach the Colossus on my first ME2 playthrough, while playing an Adept.)

      Kal’Reegar even survives– I guess that chest-high wall was sufficient protection from the battlefield-clearing explosion.

  19. Darren says:

    I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to dismiss Miranda’s problems as petty, “first-world” problems. She’s been genetically engineered–bred–to be superior, and forced into a life adhering to her father’s (nebulously outlined) whims. She has led the life of a working sheepdog, basically, and while that might be superior to being a neglected mongrel chained up in the backyard, it’s not illogical or unreasonable to expect some sympathy in that situation for a human being.

    Miranda’s issue is that her backstory isn’t well-developed enough to offset her very unsympathetic personality. It’s hard to feel bad for someone who seems to have little capacity for the emotion themselves, and I’m reminded of an exchange from The Psychopath Test: “I feel kind of bad for [psychopaths].” “Why? They don’t feel bad for you.”

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Miranda has the same issues as Lem Jukes from the recent Ender prequel series. Basically, their obscenely rich and powerful fathers expect everything from them while simultaneously undermining their confidence, spying on them constantly, setting up psychological “tests” and “traps” to “teach them important lessons”, and withholding all parental affection in the meantime. Miranda’s father seems to act sort of sociopathically towards his family members, which could easily drive ANYONE around the bend and shouldn’t be dismissed as “oh but you’re rich and pretty, so stop whining.”

      • Vect says:

        Well, considering the fact that Miranda is literally an opposite sex clone of her father (the same person behind Sanctuary in ME3 as it should be noted), he’s kind of a self-absorbed asshole obsessed with his own legacy.

  20. wswordsmen says:

    I always viewed Miranda’s role as more administrative than technical. She was in charge, but others did all the work while she coordinated. That said the revival scene might contradict me.

  21. Pearly says:

    Shamus Young did you change the body font on this web site to a hard-ascender sans serif font what is wrong with you. You did! This is not appropriate to body copy stop that this minute.

    • Shamus says:

      Can you elaborate? I tried googling “hard-ascender sans serif font” and Google was not very helpful.

      What I was really looking for was something that would look “new” (I’ve been using the previous font for something like 5 years and I’m just TIRED of it) without sacrificing readability. It’s actually hard to figure out what makes something “readable”, and after looking at dozens and dozens of fonts it’s hard to make objective comparisons. I have yet to find a good primer for font theory.

      I still have “Bump up the font size on footnotes on mobile devices, to make them easier to use and read.” on my to-do list, so if you (or anyone else) have usability suggestions, now is the time.

      • somebodys_kid says:

        For what it’s worth, I prefer this current font.

      • djw says:

        I didn’t even notice the change until I read this comment.

      • Pearly says:

        Well, I meant that the ascenders are thicker, with this font, which gives the words a stronger up-and-down sort of…emphasis? It makes large blocks of text look sort of melt into a series of tick-marks, for me, which means I have to focus extra hard on each line in order to discern the content. Normally this isn’t a huge issue, and I bet there’s probably a firefox extension or mod or something out there that can change this for me, I just noticed it and was like “my professor would flip a table” so I thought I’d make a comment about it.

        What I learned in design school, the typography classes at least, is that serif fonts are counter-intuitively better for body copy than sans-serif ones. You’d think that those little tick-marks and “feet” on everything would create a busier impression and decrease readability, but the added variation in letterform shape actually increases the ease with which people tend to read– this is why Times New Roman is so widespread and popular as a body-copy text, rather than, an equally “neutral” and very popular sans-serif font like Helvetica.

        I meant my original comment in a teasing manner, so I’m sorry if it came across too harshly; I hope it didn’t.

        I can see how you’d get sick of the old font. It’s obviously your web site and other people seem to like the change so i guess i can just suck it up and be quiet or find some kind of…. add-on? Is that the word? I am not an expert on this subject. Unfortunately, most of the books about Typography are probably going to be college textbooks which are so conveniently priced that you might just scream. In fury. Over how much people have to pay for them.

        So I doubt you’d want to buy one.

  22. “But here in Mass Effect 2 they’ve sacrificed breadth for depth.”

    “I can’t help but lament at the loss of depth”

    Well…which is it? Also:

    “I could accept her as a miracle child of super-talent, or I could accept her as a tragic story of someone who can never live up to their perceived potential, but these two angles are kind of at odds and the writer should have settled on one or the other.”

    Man, it’s frustrating when people see something done badly and decide that means it shouldn’t be done at all…

    Firstly, I don’t understand how they could be at odds. Like, how would a character be crumbling under the weight of their perceived potential…if they didn’t have any potential? Miranda’s setup isn’t the problem, it’s that they never do what’s necessary to explore it, which is have her screw up. Bad execution does not a bad premise make.

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      She considers the situation with her sister in the Loyalty mission as a personal screw up, so I DO think they went there. That situation also leads somewhat naturally into the romance arc, if you’re into that.

    • Henson says:

      I’m fairly sure that Shamus is calling ME2 an exercise of breadth, not depth. It’s stretches itself across dozens of planets and dozens of squadmates and neglects most sorts of detail except that which is on the surface.

      This is, in many ways, necessitated by the suicide mission at the end, where the strength of the mission is facilitated by having a large number of squad members from which to choose for the important roles, and to allow the constant possibility/pressure of losing those squad members without running out of people to talk to by the time you reach the last boss. In addition, the addition of loyalty missions that affect the final operation on the Collector base further stretches the game out. As Shamus pointed out, money and time are limited; if the suicide mission is the focus of the game, then depth will have to take a back seat. Which kinda sucks, but there you are.

    • Shamus says:

      Whoops. “breadth for depth” was inverted. Fixed.

      “Man, it’s frustrating when people see something done badly and decide that means it shouldn’t be done at all…”

      I actually back off in the very next paragraph and say it COULD be made to work. The problem is that THIS writer doesn’t have the nuance or finesse (or coherence, or patience) to explore something like this. They should have picked one idea and stuck with it.

      • “Whoops. “breadth for depth” was inverted. Fixed.”

        Which makes less sense to me. How can a world you’re arguing has less world-building have more breadth?

        “They should have picked one idea and stuck with it.”

        They did. You said it yourself: a supposedly ‘perfect’ human who has to cope with the heavy psychological baggage a title like that would carry. That’s a singular, cohesive idea. That it was done badly does not make it disparate. Just means it was done badly.

        Also to be fair, I think the VA has to take some blame in all this. She’s monotone and lethargic throughout the entire game, even during her loyalty mission where she’s supposedly has the most reason to be invested, but nope. I get we’re going for Cold As Ice by Foreigner here, but it’s up to the VA to bring some nuance to their delivery and she brings none.

        As a fan of The Legend of Korra, I am more than familiar with bad writing, but that show also is a perfect example of how a good VA can make you forget they’re spitting some pretty shit dialogue.

        • Shamus says:

          “How can a world you’re arguing has less world-building have more breadth?”

          They made MORE locations with LESS people to talk to who had LESS to say.

          • Well, you’re first point’s wrong unless it’s based on a main quest only run and your second I’m willing to concede to. But your third is without question entirely incorrect.

            ME2 bends itself over backwards to get you to learn about the lives of the people you encounter. As you walk through your ship, you hear conversations of people responding to the situation and how they feel about it. Those side quests that supposedly accomplish nothing lead to such moments reminiscing with an old friend. The entirety of the game is designed around learning more about who the people on your team are. Every teammate has their own level explicitly made to allow you to do that. I honestly cannot comprehend how someone can say this game has LESS to say about its characters than the first.

            • Shamus says:

              The lengths you’re willing to go to to misunderstand me are breathtaking, really.

              Zhu’s Hope. Remember that? Those folks? Their stories? There’s less of that in this game. Or, if you like, there are more locations that lack that.

              Now if you want to argue that hearing the Cerberus idiots on your ship makes up for the lack of worldbuilding outside the Normandy, that’s your business. But I stand by what I said.

              • I’m not misunderstanding, I’m disagreeing. I think you are wrong and I said as much. A shift in focus on individuals over setting is not a shift in depth for breadth. You are judging a premise based on a bias rather than objectively analyzing how that premise is executed because you are either unwilling or incapable of acknowledging your preference for world-building is exactly that: a preference.

                Which is fine…as a preference. I aint judging what you like, and if all you want to say about ME2 is that it don’t do what you like, well who am I? But that article aint coming off anything like that.

                • Shamus says:

                  “you are either unwilling or incapable of acknowledging your preference for world-building is exactly that: a preference.”

                  You’ve been reading my site for a long time. Do I really need to explain to you that this site is about my views and opinions? Do this look like Gamespot to you? You see any numerical scores at the bottom of the article? What else could this series possibly be?

                  I actually frequently bring up how the Mass Effect games left one group of fans and embraced another, and that’s the reason for the ongoing controversy. This series is a study in that very topic. I’m not going put “but that’s just my opinion” at the end of every paragraph.

                  • Except that’s not the position you’re arguing from:

                    “But here in Mass Effect 2 they’ve sacrificed depth for breadth.”

                    “I can’t help but lament at the loss of depth”

                    “I could accept her as a miracle child of super-talent, or I could accept her as a tragic story of someone who can never live up to their perceived potential, but these two angles are kind of at odds and the writer should have settled on one or the other.”

                    “They should have picked one idea and stuck with it.”

                    Absolutely none of those statements are presented or even slightly infer a position of preference. They are clearly establishing a position of objective quality. Again, you’re article isn’t claiming the game simply does something you don’t like, it’s saying the game is bad for doing it in the first place. It’s making an objective statement about the premise based on preference and that dog don’t never hunt.

                    • Shamus says:

                      SHAMUS, HOW DARE YOU SAY MASS EFFECT ISN’T AWESOME I DARE YOU TO JUSTIFY YOUR OPINION.

                      “Okay, here’s 90k words on everything I don’t like.”

                      HOW DARE YOU TAINT YOUR REVIEW WITH OPINION.

                      “Absolutely none of those statements are presented or even slightly infer a position of preference.”

                      Are you kidding? “I can’t help but lament at the loss of depth” doesn’t frame this as opinion at all for you? And even if it doesn’t, who cares? You can tell it’s opinion. I’ve said it’s opinion. What else are you looking for? If that’s not enough sugar to make the medicine go down, then I can’t help you.

                      I’m not obligated to coddle people that need their videogame preferences validated. I give my little “here is where I think the series went wrong” talk once every couple of entries, and if that’s not enough sugar for you then you’re reading the wrong site.

                    • So that’s what I’m doing? Screaming in all caps at you because you not liking ME2 hurts me in mah feels?

                      *sigh*

                      Look, I repeated ad nauseum what my issue with the article was. I was as articulate as I’m capable of being. If the only thing you’re seeing is some imaginary hate-monger smashing on his keyboard, then clearly there’s no point in dragging this out any further.

                      And just for the record, I tried playing ME2 recently directly after doing a 100% completion – or best I could muster without a guide – run of ME1 and I found the game damn near unplayable. I wasn’t even able to make it to the first colony mission before I simply had to call it quits. Just saiyan.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  A shift in focus on individuals over setting is not a shift in depth for breadth.

                  It is if those individuals had as much time in the first game as in the second.Which they did.

                  But now,instead of having 6 of them,we have 12,so we have to focus on them and not the rest of the universe.Which we will still give you more of,only not as detailed.The planets you go on main missions for?More plentiful,but less detailed.The planets you go to for side missions?More plentiful,and with the same amount of detail.The planets you go to just for resources?More plentiful,but less detailed(probing is less detailed than mako driving,even though the mako thing wasnt brilliant to begin with).

                  • See? This I’d have less of a problem with. It comments on HOW the game handled it’s character, rather than simply lamenting THAT the game handled its characters. I’d still argue it’s wrong, but won’t cause I’ve been up for damn near 24 hrs. I’m just…y’know…saiyan.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I would put it to direction rather than voice acting.Yvone does have range in her other stuff,so it seems like she was told to keep it cool and aloof because miranda is so confindent,or something.

  23. Zaxares says:

    I think the flaw with Miranda is that she’s obviously some writer’s “waifu insert”; that is, a character that’s their ideal dream date and they’re trying to shove her into the story according to what THEY believe is the most awesome female character EVER, not realizing that in reality such a character just comes across as being one-dimensional, stilted or otherwise unrealistic to someone who isn’t as emotionally invested in them.

    Zaeed is a fun character. He brings a lot of intensity and a unique perspective on things. While somewhat similar to Wrex, Wrex is more about an old, grizzled veteran who’s found a new purpose in life, while Zaeed is more about the old, grizzled veteran who wants to retire and let things go, but has trouble doing so because it’s all he’s over known.

    Kasumi is an entertaining character with some of the best one-liners (not to mention she has an AWESOME suite of skills), although her character arc does feel a tad more shallow than the other squadmates. (Probably because she’s not around as much as the others.)

    Grunt’s actually there for comic relief, believe it or not. Physically he may be incredibly powerful and deadly, but his Codex entries and interactions make it fairly obvious that mentally he’s still very much a child, or at most a teenager. It makes you wonder just how much of his attitude comes from his implanted memories, how much of it is him being a krogan, and how much of it is just young bravado, trying to show that he deserves the attention and approval of people much more powerful and experienced than he is.

    • RCN says:

      One of my favorite things about Grunt is his search history you get from the Shadow Broker. You can clearly see a pattern of thought in there.

      Also, “Tyrannosaurus Wrex”.

  24. Iny says:

    There is another “peasant” in Okeer’s recruitment mission! He doesn’t have anything to do with the wider setting on the planet, unfortunately, and definitely doesn’t even make the complex anything more than the maze of chest-high-walls and spawn points that it is, but he is one of my favorite characters in the game: Okeer’s mission is where you meet the rejected vat-grown krogan, the poetic one who talks about the Glass Mother and the voice in the tank, and has grown accepting of his ultimate fate as a vat-grown mook.

    I like Grunt, but honestly I’d have liked to recruit that guy over either Grunt or Okeer. That dude was the best.

  25. Atle says:

    Staring at ass, not being able to say something intelligent … looks like the game nailed how many guys would react to a woman like that.

  26. guy says:

    It might be a little early to get into this, but one of my big complaints with ME2 is that it didn’t have much main plot, leaving everything feeling disjointed. Almost all the missions are about one character, so you don’t really get those whole-cast meetings like the ME1 mission debriefs, and it feels less like a team and more like a bunch of guys crashing on your various couches.

  27. Xilizhra says:

    Were there not plenty of peasants on Omega? You get to talk to a whole bunch of people in Omega’s assignments, Mordin’s recruitment mission, Garrus’ recruitment mission, and Samara’s loyalty mission. The issue with Korlus is that the worldbuilding for “crime-ridden hellhole” was already done for Omega, and lingering on it again on Korlus would just feel redundant. You also get to have fluff conversations with a couple of random people aboard the Purgatory in Jack’s recruitment mission, quite a lot of establishing chatter in Jacob’s loyalty mission, lots of random people around on Ilium and for the three missions that are there… honestly, I think that only the Citadel is somewhat lacking in peasantry, and that might be because it had a great deal in ME1.

  28. natureguy85 says:

    Everything you have said about Miranda is correct. However, I have a girl in the youth group I lead who is both extremely talented and crumbling under the weight of the expectations put on her because of this talent, so both are possible. On that note, is Miranda the 30 or so year old woman she appears to be? Or perhaps not, due to her “creation” and upbringing.
    It’s also worth mentioning that she does have more of a character arc than Shepard. You can actually see her start to trust him and even choose him over Cerberus at the end.

    I like Grunt for being the Oghren or this game (in more ways than one), but that’s about it. The world building section is excellent.

  29. Bronn says:

    I hated Miranda from the first second she Shepard actually meets her. She smiles, then flat-out murders a guy. This is messed up in so many ways.

    1) Either as a Paragon or Renegade, Shepard has to be suspicious that Cerberus is trying to manipulate him. It looks like they’re silencing the only person who might know that Miranda was doing something fishy.

    2) The only justification we’re given by Miranda is “I’m always right.” The game then shows various situations in which she’s completely wrong. So maybe she wasn’t right.

    3) Miranda then says we can’t look for survivors because it’s too important to get Shepard out. Then Paragon Shep might say, “I’m going to look anyway,” and Miranda says, “Sure, we’ll just leave you behind then.” So Shep is both too important to risk, but so inconsequential that they’ll leave him behind rather than try to look for other survivors-which is hilarious given how unthreatening those Mechs are even at Insanity difficulty. (Also, nothing says “We’re placing humanity’s best interests first” like being too callous to see if any of the other people who spent two years developing a cure for death might still be around)

    4) Seriously, killing the guy when he’s surrounded by three armed badasses? Why not just punch the guy out and tie him up later to interrogate? Much more satisfying and it does less to make Shepard suspicious of the inevitable betrayal.

  30. Royce Mumphry says:

    With Mkiranda, her backstory makes more sense if you look at some of the things she casually mentions.

    *Her “father” wanted her to “carry on his legacy”.

    *She was desperate to save her sister from her father.

    Now, these two seemingly look silly because her life was one of luxury and every resource available. Why would she want to escape that? Why would she be willing to kill to “save” her sister from that?

    Of course, the explanation comes in Codex entries:

    * Miranda’s “father” discarded her when he found out she was sterile.

    * Her sister was basically going to be held as a prisoner.

    …given that daddy Lawson had expert cloners at his beck and call, why does the sterility thing bug him? Just have her clone new Lawsons when it becomes time to pass the torch! And why are both his clone kids girls, not boys?

    …because daddy Lawson didn’t make Miranda or Oriana to replace him. He made them so he could father children on them. It’s the only conclusion that makes (creepy) sense.

    With that in mind, suddenly her motivations for latching onto the one guy willing to stand up to her dad become clearer.

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