Mass Effect 2:
Plot Analysis Part 2 of 3

 By Shamus Feb 11, 2010 202 comments

Commander Shepard

me2_new_shepard.jpg

Before we continue with the plot analysis, a few notes on the New Shepard:

(Fair warning: Rampant spoilers ahead.)

Several people suggested that the reboot of Shepard was done in order to justify resetting his skills and class. I certainly hope this isn’t the case, because it means they’ll need to kill him again at the start of Mass Effect 3. (Or worse: Amnesia. Ugh.) This is in addition to the fact that the leveling is much simplified and a much smaller part of the game. I’m willing to bet you could beat the game without spending any skill points. It would be silly to reboot a character to accommodate a leveling system that barely matters. Maybe it’s a personal preference, but I think it would be wiser to just keep the leveling system and the story separate. I find it easier to suspend my disbelief over the idea that Shepard can level up some more compared to the idea that he was such a pushover in joining / working with Cerberus.

Note that after the reboot, Shepard is taking on superhero stature. Everyone in Mass Effect 2 talks about how powerful he is, and about how he’s the only one who can stop the reapers. He’s starting to get a little…

me2_halo.jpg

…like that. I don’t mind the notion of a Shepard who is the only one with the courage, knowledge, and leadership to face the challenge. But I’m not at all keen on the notion of a Shepard who is the only one who KICKS ENOUGH ASS to take on the Reapers. I’d like the game to maintain the pretense that they need him to do more than just hose the galaxy down with bullets until the problem goes away.

I’m not saying they’ve crossed that line, I’m just saying that I’ve noticed this shift in focus.

But this reveals the rift in the groups who came together in the first game. One is here for epic space opera, the other is here to play an ass-kicking hero. Like others, I would have preferred to play a new character and leave Shepard as an NPC. (With your save from the first game shaping his dialog tree and attitude. I think it would be great if playing as renegade Shepard meant you had to put up with a Jerk Shepard in the sequel.) Ideally, you’d be Shepard’s XO, and take over the ship at the end of the tutorial. For me, the game is about the setting. For others, the game is the story of Shepard.

See also: Trek fandom and Captain Kirk.

Now that the game has established that Shepard can be resurrected, and that he’s our only hope(!), I do wonder what the Game Over screen is for. What’s the problem Cerberus? Run out of money? Is feeding colonists to Threshers not turning into the cash cow you hoped?

Anyway, back to the analysis…

Like I said in part 1, the beginning and end of the game is where the real problems are. The mid-game wasn’t that bad, but I do want to go over a couple of minor points for the sake of completeness:

The Reapers

me2_reapers.jpg

Refresher: In the last game, the Citadel and Alliance fleets joined together and just barely took down one lone Reaper. While that fight was going on, Shepard stopped the bad guy from opening a mass relay that would have let all of the Reapers – their entire race – jump directly to the Citadel. Two Reapers would have been too much for them to handle. But hundreds? Thousands? Perhaps millions? All arriving right at the seat of galactic power? The war would have been over in minutes.

The game hinted the Reapers were still out there, and they certainly weren’t going to just give up. But where were they? Did they leave themselves other routes into the galaxy from wherever they are? (If they didn’t, they’re idiots.) How long will it take them to get here and how many are there? What happened to their Geth slaves? What drives the cycle of destruction and how did it get started?

The first game left us with lots and lots of really interesting questions. But instead of using any of the stuff they set up before, BioWare gives us…

The Collectors

me2_collectors.jpg

In game 1, they firmly established that the Reapers were machines. The Reapers had nothing but contempt and disdain for flesh. Then Mass Effect 2 comes along and suddenly the Reapers actually have this supply of organics. In fact, their entire plan seems to involve mostly organics. They maintain this army of organics that live on a barren asteroid base for millions of years (the collectors are actually what’s left of the last race the Reapers conquered) with nothing to do but stare at the walls as the eons tick by. (I guess they ordered pizza when they got hungry?)

The collectors weren’t mentioned in the last game, which is kind of odd since that means the Reapers left the Collectors and all their weaponry sitting around doing nothing while Sovereign attacked Citadel Station alone. And didn’t win. I’m not saying there can’t be a good answer for this stuff, but that they don’t even try to give one. They don’t even lampshade it by having one of the good guys speculate.

Anyway, the Reapers suddenly pull this army out of their robotic asses and have them harvest other organics (humans) in order to enact their master plan, which I’ll get to later. Instead of escalating the conflict with the Reapers and fleshing out (pardon the pun) the main villain, we end up in this stupid proxy war with bug guys.

me2_collectors2.jpg

We had a conversation with a Reaper in the first game. It was the big reveal of the enemy, and we were clearly given the impression that the enemy was cold, calculating, pragmatic, and believed itself above organic life. This new reveal messes up that conversation by making it look like the Reaper was… what? Lying? Ashamed? Out of the loop? This takes the Reapers down a peg, which isn’t something you usually do in the second act.

Again, this isn’t a cunning reveal of a mystery planted or telegraphed in the first game. This is just new weirdness grafted onto the original story. At the end of the original game, the Prothean AI clearly explained how the Reapers behave. And now they’re doing something completely different and a lot less effective.

But even if we accept the premise of the collectors along with all of the plot damage they do to the true villain of the series, their actions still don’t make a lot of sense. They’re trying to get enough humans together to build a new Reaper, but they need “millions more” to finish the job. They’ll never get that many humans without fighting a huge war. The Alliance may be the most apathetic bunch in the Galaxy, but sooner or later people would have fled the Terminus Systems and the Collectors would have needed to operate in Alliance-controlled space in order to meet their fleshbag quota. Despite their slight tech edge it’s clear they couldn’t possibly hope to prevail against the humans and their likely allies. Their plan is doomed long before Shepard shows up and starts shooting guys.

But even if their plan had worked, so what? One Reaper? Would they just fling it at Citadel and hope it fared better than Sovereign? Again, I don’t expect to learn all their plans. But I wouldn’t mind knowing they had one.

The Abductions

me2_collector_ship.jpg

The other characters drive home the point again and again: Colonists are vanishing without a trace. First off, I think they’re taking this “Alliance never does anything” idea way too far. A hundred thousand people vanish in the space of two years? People would have been fleeing the terminus systems in droves. There would have been millions of friends and relatives of those people back home, demanding that something be done. The uselessness of the Alliance is a fig leaf excuse, and it does a poor job of covering a problem this big. I understand the need for a contrivance here, but they stretched this one pretty far already in Mass Effect 1.

Nobody knows what happened to the people in these colonies. No shots fired. No sign of struggle. But then when we arrive during an attack in progress we see the aliens land their massive ship next to the colony. It’s got a footprint like a sports stadium, it’s hundreds of meters tall, and it takes off using rocket boosters. How could you miss something like that at the other colonies?

“The colonists vanished without a trace! No sign of what happened or who took them!”

“No trace? What about the GIANT SMOKING CRATER by the rec center?”

“Bah. That was probably dug by gophers.”

The Bugs

me2_bug.jpg

We recruit Dr. Mordin (awesome character, but I’ll go over that later) so that he can counteract the bugs that paralyze people. When Shepard visits his lab, he’s got one of these bugs already in captivity. Your team has never encountered them before, and the aliens have a reputation for never leaving any evidence. Where the hell did he get that?

Eventually the game begins to suffer from cumulative plot hole damage: Once you notice a few holes in the story you start thinking about it more, which causes you to notice things that you might have otherwise overlooked. More leaks appear until eventually the bilge pumps of immersion can no longer keep up and the whole thing begins to sink. (And then the writers torpedo the thing in the last ten minutes anyway.)

And while I’ve been hard on the game, I hope you’ll reserve judgment until I complete this series. The central plot is pretty bad, but it’s not nearly as terrible as the metaphor in the previous paragraph. Overall, the structure of Mass Effect 2 is something like this:

me2_story.jpg

Those green bits? I’ll talk about those later.

A Hundred!A Hundred!2202 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. krellen says:

    Mordin makes the game for me.

    But Mordin’s only worth about $15, tops. Not the $60 I paid. So I kind of have to wonder what they did with the other 75% of my money.

    Funny thing is, when I first met Mordin and started talking to him, I was all ready to hate him as another bad-ass “rule of cool” addition to the series. But I have to admit that the writing of the character, his backstory and his loyalty mission really is top notch. He represents everything Mass Effect was billed to be – lots of tough choices, and none of them easy.

    I kind of wish we would’ve gotten to play Mordin’s story instead.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      I really enjoyed ME2, I mean I enjoyed the hell out of the parts that attempted to break Shamus’ brain, but I gotta say there was a number of times that I wished I was playing something else. Or more accurately I wished I was playing someone else.

      I saved Wrex in ME1 and seeing the Krogan homeworld and getting just a glimpse into the internal strife and politics? I really wanted to play a Krogan there. I wanted to play Mordin with the genophage and his whole gig. Hell I even wanted to play Aria.

      …that’s not even mentioning Legion, the Geth background, Quarians, etc. It felt like out of the multitude of stories Bioware had they chose the weakest one to be the focus of the game and made sure all the really interesting ones crossed it here and there.

      • krellen says:

        I found pretty much all of the random Asari-Insert-Species-Here pairings scattered around the various planets (mostly Ilium and the Citadel) to be quite adorable too. “Is this the lifespan talk? I’m not having the lifespan talk again.”

        And the Asari with her Salarian step-father on Ilium brought tears to my eyes. “I want to remember you too, dad. That’s why I came on this trip.”

        I didn’t hate everything about ME2; just the main parts.

    • Drue says:

      Mordin became my official favorite character ever when I got him to sing ‘I am the very model of a scientist salarian’. Eff yes.

  2. Monkeyboy says:

    Look forward to the wobbly green bits.

    Does ME2 start you off at level one again? I’ve been playing NWN again and the expansions (Underdark for NWN1 and Mask of the Betrayer for NWN2) allow you to import the old character or level a new one up at the start. Even Shooter 2 the Shootening (Modern Warfare 2) starts you as the apprentice to the hero of the first game.

    I’m charmed by the idea of playing a sequel character who’s training under the hero I created in the first game.

    • nilus says:

      Depending on what level your import character is your ME 2 Shepard is between levels 1 and 5(I think). You also get extra resources and cash depending on what you had in the first game.

      But like Shamus said, the system is completely redesigned and the ME 1 character advancement doesn’t really parallel ME 2.

    • Spider Dave says:

      You can look forward to anything you like. As long as you don’t eat the wobbly green bit.

  3. I agree that exploring the rest of ME2′s galaxy and completing the character side quests was the best part of the game. I also enjoyed the faster pace of the game. It seemed like everything was geared towards getting the player into the action, which is why I was surprised when they decided to eliminate exploring planets on the Mako with… scanning the planet surface from outer space for minerals.

    Planet scanning was so slow that I wanted to break my thumbs off… and there wasn’t really any way to get around it if you wanted to upgrade your squad/ ship to the best levels. Even after you are able to upgrade the scanner speed, it only goes about 25% faster. It really detracts from the smart, quick pacing of the rest of the game. I don’t understand how they thought it was a good idea.

    At least in ME1 with the Mako you could shoot things and there was excitement and a sense of being an explorer… Although I must admit a feeling of guilt every time I would deplete a planet’s resources just to add an extra clip of ammo for my gun.

    • Macil says:

      You can speed up the scanning substantially by tapping the scanner (and dragging it across the planet) instead of holding it down. That isn’t to say that it isn’t still slow and boring, but the tap-technique makes it somewhat tolerable.

      I suggest a up-down pattern, moving incrementally to the right. You can deplete a planet fairy quickly this way (side note: I’ve still found large resource spots even on depleted planets).

      Just pay attention to the spikes on the graph and the corresponding sounds. Even small pockets are hard to miss using this method.

      (Edit: looks like this was mentioned in some of the other comments.)

    • =Dan says:

      Planet scanning completely destroyed any and all urgency I felt to get things done. I can’t just go to a store and buy materials to make these items? How does anyone else manufacture equipment? In fact how is it that I can manufacture all the equipment/weapons/upgrades on my ship? Do I have an assembly line? In fact why can’t I just go to a Cerberus outpost and procure all of these upgrades?
      I really disliked the fact that I would manufacture all the upgrades and the ship, my weapons, my armor, etc would not show any changes.
      Planet scanning was a horrible idea, it was too slow, took too much time and drained my interest in the storyline. I am supposed to be racing around saving human colonists and I am required to wander around scanning planets for elements/minerals? Why does the ME universe have miners and manufacturers if people can procure resources and create it all themselves?

      • Macil says:

        I agree completely.

        I can think of a lot of other ideas that would have been more entertaining.

        If they couldn’t manage to come up with something more substantial, they would have been better off just making all the upgrades credit purchases, increased the overall available credits during the course of the game and removed the planet-scan mini-game altogether.

      • LK says:

        Scanning is a bit like busywork, but it’s still a huge improvement over having to land with a loading screen, drive around in that bloody Mako following a radar blip, and do the hacking minigame for every single mineral deposit. (though I guess they were optional then since they just gave you money)

    • pinchy says:

      I knew there was a reason I bought a mouse with different sensitivity speeds and ME2 finally gave me this reason. Upped the sensitivity from normal to “toddler after about 10kg of sugar mode” and the scanning was far less annoying.

      The other thing I found amusing was that you would turn up and deplete the resources of an inhabited planet (if you actually read some of the descriptions of the planets) I’m sure the local mining firm was really happy with me.

      • SomeUnregPunk says:

        I got a trackball. The mineral minigame is fun for me. I spin the world like a top while scanning, only stopping and doing minute searches when I get a large enough ping on the line-graph.

        I can see how tedious this minigame would be without a trackball and it makes me wonder if Bioware designed the mineral scanning with a trackball in mind.

        I found that the words: Rich, moderate, poor and depleted only describe how often you will find a large mineral ping. i.e. in rich worlds you may find a dozen high ping minerals while in a deplated one you will only find two or three.

  4. neothoron says:

    I, for one, believe that most plot holes (except the ones about the Collectors’ actual objectives) can be repaired – but the fact that they require fans to speculate is failure enough.

    I’ll admit that I have a tendancy to not notice plot holes – except the ginormous one that will feature in the next instalment.

    PS: Could you make a “preview comment” option?

  5. Colonel Slate says:

    What? Am I the only person in the entire world that discovered the other prothean beacons that pretty much explains that the collectors are part of the back up plan for the reapers? – As a side note, the way to find them is to scan planets, lots and lots of planets, which is indeed a pain, but that’s how I found 4 of them, may be more.

    Also, I assume that when Sovereign attacked, it woke the other reapers, or at least the ones in system. I also assume that Harbinger is possibly a lead reaper.

    As for the ship landing and leaving no footprint, you could probably handwave that into “mass effect technology” but that’s a pretty big handwave.

    The alliance never doing anything and the disappearance of thousands of people is a rather big hole, I completely agree there.

    Also, another comment on the collectors, perhaps they are just the “clean up crew” after most the other reapers have destroyed the races’ ships and cut off communications to all their planets. But they were activated too soon or something, no idea there.

    Also, about Mordin being a plot hole, how do you figure that? Mordin didn’t release the original genophage, he and is his team adapted it to make it continue to work after the Krogans had started to get over it so many years later, classic nature fixes itself.

    • krellen says:

      That would be why I edited my comment.

    • neothoron says:

      Well, yes, you’re probably the only one. Scanning planets quickly grows stale. You’d think that if the writers had sensible explanations for the Collectors, they would make them part of the main plot, instead of hiding them into a minigame.

      But I am eager to know how “the collectors are part of the back up plan for the reapers”. So I would be grateful if you would explain.

    • Raygereio says:

      Unless you’re referring to another beacon, that one gave you a vision pretty much similar to the beacon-visions of ME1 that doesn’t really tell you anything.
      The only addition being that we see a collectordrone at the end. How does that explain anything?

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      “The alliance never doing anything and the disappearance of thousands of people is a rather big hole, I completely agree there.”

      Let me get welding equipment out and see if I can’t cover a bit of this hole. The colonies that are being abducted are in the Terminus systems. If I recall correctly from the first game the Terminus systems are presented as this bogeyman area where all sorts of crazy shit goes on and no one really wants to go there because the Council outright refuse to have any involvement with the place, hell they wouldn’t help Eden Prime and it was only at the EDGE of the Terminus Systems and the colonies are outside of Alliance control.

      Yeah, it’s still a bit iffy that they’d ignore friggin’ hundreds of thousands of people getting shoved into pods.

      • Nalano says:

        Well, if I recall correctly, the Alliance has you investigating disappearances right up until the point where you die with the quickness, and then makes a point to set up giant anti-ship defenses on remote colonies with no strategic worth – even sending their best veteran war heroes to personally oversee the operations.

        That’s far more than nothing, methinks.

    • Macil says:

      I got all the known systems (that I am aware) to 100% explored and investigated every planet that EDI said “Anomaly detected” — does EDI not detect all of these beacons? I found the same one Raygereio mentioned, but don’t remember the others.

      Does that star-chart place at Illium restock?

  6. Jaedar says:

    I think the collectors make sense actually. I mean it is clearly established in ME that the reapers fancy using Organics as tools, and it makes even more sense that they would make sure to have agents collecting unusual specimens and tech. How would they make sure the galaxy was progressing as intended otherwise?

    And the collectors plan for more people isn’t to far fetched, they destroyed the Normandy mk1 in pretty much one hit, and that was the most advanced ship in the Alliance Navy.

    Also, I think it’s pretty interesting that you seem to consider ME2 one of BioWare’s worst writing, whereas I think it’s one of their best.

  7. Dys says:

    Ok, I’m gonna go ahead and post a huge rationalisation of the Collector problem.

    The Reapers’ MO seems to be to wait outside the galaxy, in deep space, hibernating or whatever, until one or more new sentient genotypes arise. They then return, cull all the organics and… whatever, make them into Reapers or something. Not relevant at this point.

    The assumption is that the lone Reaper left to observe will be able to open the citadel mass relay via the keeper signal and the whole Reaper fleet will appear in the center of Citadel space without warning. Good plan, worked repeatedly in the past I assume.

    The problem they had in ME1 was that the Protheans had managed to survive in a small enclave on Ilos, and disrupted the keeper signal, rendering the normal plan impotent. Sovereign then moved on to plan B.

    Sovereign attacks the Citadel, after gathering sufficient forces and critically, finding and shutting down Ilos so it won’t happen again. We’re operating a contingency plan here remember.

    Shepard stops Sovereign, the Citadel relay isn’t opened and the Reapers, I believe are stuck outside the galaxy. So, now we move on to plan C. Remember, they have been doing this a long long time, have multiple contingency plans and are very very patient.

    So, plan C is the Collectors. They are near mindless slaves who exist solely to execute this contingency, if the signal fails, and the relay is not opened, or more likely it was triggered by Sovereign’s death.

    The whole plot of ME2 seems to revolve around the Collectors attempting to replace Sovereign with a new Reaper, who would then come up with a plan to open the Citadel relay. The Collectors do not need a plan beyond ‘build a new Reaper’, since that is the whole of their purpose.

    The Collectors then have been trying to work out which species would make the best Reaper, and for whatever reason, I can think of several, they decide on humanity.

    I think that covers most of it, one of the key points to bear in mind is that the Reapers are eternal, they can afford to keep throwing things at the Citadel until something finally works.

    Oh, and about the Alliance not being interested in the Terminus colonies, I think it’s a question of scale. Imagine the government of the USA in the first years of colonisation hears that a village built on the slopes of Big Wolf Mountain has been wiped out by big wolves. A fraction of a percent of the population has been killed on the frontier by a known threat, it’s their own stupid fault and not your problem.

    • Nick C says:

      There’s a small flaw in your outline: Harbinger is clearly defined as a Reaper. The Collector General is controlled by this Reaper who is running the whole show, so the Collector’s cannot be creating the Reaper to get new orders. It would be like my hammer asking creating a clone of me.

      The Reapers are eternal only until they get blowded up. The initial game set them up as some form of force of nature. This one turns them into a bunch of clever robots.

    • walrus says:

      I agree with this summary. I don’t think there are too many problems with the main story.

      It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Reapers use organics. It was explained in ME1 that the Reapers repurposed the Keepers to keep an eye on the Citadel and to open the door to the Citadel for the Reapers when they were given a signal. The surviving Protheans however, made it so the Keepers wouldn’t react to the signal.

    • fscan says:

      Finally someone who draws the same conclusions than me :) I see no big problems with the plot.

      @NickC: Harbinger is not actually present there … it is in dark space with the rest of the reapers. You only see it communicate with the collectors, probably the same way you are communicating with TIM (it’s explained in game how this works, kind of quantum entanglement where distance does not matter).

      @shamus: i usually really like your reviews, but this time (and part 1 of the review) i have to say, you have to do a bit more research (optional missions, every dialog) before passing judgment. I don’t want to defend the game, there are some plot holes (like the amount of people required to finish the reaper, or the toning down of cerberus) but most of the things you mentioned is more or less explained if you dig deep enough.

      FYI, you don’t have to scan a planet to find a landing site … edi tells your right when you enter orbit that there is an anomaly on this planet.

      • neothoron says:

        For knowing how the Collectors communicate with Harbinger, I would rather think that it would be because of the cybernetic implants – the same kind that were implanted in Saren at the endgame.

        It’s not like faster-than-light communication is a problem in Mass Effect.

        • fscan says:

          it is … that’s why you have this device linking you directly to the illusive man. they have this “extranet”, some kind of network of linked transmitters which generate a mass effect field in which they transfer information and even then the speed is limited. It’s not like the outer regions of the terminus system are that well connected .. sending a ship is generally faster than sending a message (traveling a mass relay is instant).

          that said, sure it could be some other device, i was just speculation on my part.

      • Shamus says:

        You’re suggesting I do EVERY mission and exhaust EVERY dialog just to make sure they didn’t tuck some weak justification at the bottom of some dialog tree? That is a hole with no bottom.

        1) These games ALREADY eat a crap-ton of time. If BioWare couldn’t sneak those plot items into my 40 hour game, then they deserve to be dinged for it.
        2) That’s not how most people play through the game anyway. “Oh, it’s a great story, but only if you play for an extra ten hours to find the parts that make sense”. The leveling system is all but gone, so all we have left is the story.
        3) These “extra” bits aren’t very impressive to me and aren’t repairing the most egregious problems with the plot.

        It’s up to the storyteller to convey the story in a reasonable manner.

        • fscan says:

          No, just the main characters.
          Anderson for example, said that they where driving out the geth without major losses since sovereign was destroyed (also, remember, 2 years are gone since you died).
          Mordin mentions they are mindless drones genetically engineered from protheans, i guess they have no problems waiting for some million years.
          And yes, this is their contingency plan … i guess they would never have believed it is possible their original plan could fail, it never has.
          The illusive man does not hide the fact that this plan had cost him all his resources and depends on you showing result (maybe that’s why he is smoking so much :) ).

          I didn’t wont to sound aggressive (no native speaker) .. i just think the plot holes in this game are minor compared to other games/movies. at least it does not contradict itself, it just leaves some points open.

        • krellen says:

          Don’t worry, Shamus, they’re wrong. I explored everything, talked to everyone. The holes they think are filled aren’t. They’re just making stuff up.

          Now, it’s possible that the holes might be filled in if you have additional information from the novels, but that is a very unreasonable assumption for the designers to have made; if this is the case, the important stuff needed to have been provided in-game.

          As it stands, you are right: there really is no backup of the Collectors and they are a complete side-line from a logical progression from the first game. The only part you’re wrong on is the “millions of years” bit – the Protheans were wiped out 50,000 years ago, so it’s only been 50,000 years. Still a long time to just be sitting around, though.

          • Dys says:

            Ok, I agree that Harbinger is a bit of a mystery, I had also assumed it was a Reaper, but I don’t recall anyone actually saying so in game. The fact that it needs to act through the Collectors seems to indicate it doesn’t have the option of direct intervention, or prefers to avoid it.

            I take issue with your accusations of ‘making stuff up’ though. This is the story I experienced when playing Mass Effect 2, I don’t think I’ve fabricated any part of it. I’ll carefully refrain from personal attacks, if you’ll do me the favour of dropping the smug attitude.

            If the Reapers are so goddamn powerful, why did they need the Geth in the first place? Why did Sovereign use Saren if they have no interest in organic tools? Why does Indoctrination exist AT ALL if organic life is only there to be obliterated? And moreover if the Reapers have no interest in organics why would they be instrumental in a cycle which appears to consist entirely of farming and harvesting such things?

            I’m starting to think I should have posted a point by point counter critique, it would be easier to defend.

            • fscan says:

              Sovereign needed the allies because Plan A ™ has failed (signaling the keepers on the citadel to activate the mass relay) because of the protheans and even with all the technology it would not withstand the combined forces of the council races alone.
              From what i get from the game, harbinger is with the other reapers far away and just communicates/controls the collectors. That’s why they need to build a new/better one to continue sovereign’s mission. At least that’s my interpretation.

        • fscan says:

          There is no “right” or “wrong” .. it’s just that some people like the direction the story has gone, others don’t.
          If i can accept the fact of FTL drives, instant travel with mass relays and biotic powers i can accept the nature of the collectors to. And just because my character never heard about them (they where just a myth in the terminus system where they had the most activity) does not mean they didn’t exist.
          For me it was a nice introduction to the motives of the reapers harvesting (reproduction). If this is their true goal or it’s just an contingency because sovereign was destroyed we will see in the 3rd part.
          I’m just wondering how the reapers will come to the galaxy, because if they just fly there, the whole thing makes no sense at all.

          • krellen says:

            Here’s the thing, though: with the information provided in the game, you could just as easily conclude that the Collectors were a descendent-offshoot of the indoctrinated Protheans from the last cycle who, like the heretic geth, worshipped Reapers as gods. Their plot of abductions and the proto-Reaper thing in their base was their attempt to resurrect their dead god, and Harbinger, assuming it was a Reaper, was just using their front to get back at Shepard.

            Either way, Shamus’s point that the Collectors are new and tacked on is still completely valid; there were more than enough loose threads left over from the end of ME1 to work with without having to introduce a completely new faction to serve as catalyst and foil, and ME2 doesn’t even try to explain where these guys magically came from, other than them being genetically similar to Protheans.

            • walrus says:

              I thought it was explained that the Collectors were genetically similar to Protheans, because they were once Protheans. The Reapers repurposed and genetically modified the Protheans just like they did the Keepers on the Citadel.

              • krellen says:

                Collectors have the same unique DNA as Protheans, leading us to logically conclude they were Protheans.

                Beyond that, however, the game specifies nothing. Anything else – where these left-over Protheans came from, what they’re doing (other than abducting humans and puréeing them into proto-Reaper fillet) , and even what their connection to the Reapers is – is left up to pure speculation.

            • Jarenth says:

              What makes this even worse is that the various NPC’s in Mass Effect 2 regard the Collectors with near superstitious awe. “Oh, man, the Collectors? I never believed they were real! They’re so awesome!” That sort of thing.

              Yet they were never mentioned in Mass Effect 1. At all, ever. This mirrors Shamus’ earlier complaint vis á vis the Illusive Man: if these people are so famous, why am I just now hearing about them? You can’t just tell us to be impressed, game, that’s not how this thing works.

              I mean, I tremendously enjoyed Mass Effect 2, and that includes the main story, but there’s just some things that are too jarring to overlook.

  8. Eric says:

    Well if that’s the plot, I’m totally not getting this game.

  9. Mark says:

    Col. Slate: Wait, what? Four Prothean beacons? I did find one in an uncharted worlds mission, but there wasn’t anything unusual about it — it played a similar video to in the first game. And I’m pretty sure I visited every planet in the Galaxy. Where are these things?

    With regards to the Alliance not following up on the missing colonies: Actually, I didn’t have a problem with this. It seems fairly clear that the Alliance is not a nation that directly and closely represents all human colonies everywhere; colonies in the Terminus systems are independent political entities, obscure, fiercely independent (note the hostile reaction to Ashley/Kaiden setting up the defense systems) and also very small populations, usually in the thousands or less, constantly endangered by slavers or other hostile aliens. Imagine small villages deep inside Siberia vanishing mysteriously, and wondering why the United States isn’t doing anything about it.

  10. Planet Scanner says:

    Regarding scanning, I “discovered” a technique that vastly increases planet scanning efficiency.

    Go down the lines of longitude, like splitting an orange, while quickly tapping the left trigger. The scanner will move along much faster and depending on the frequency of your tapping, the scans will overlap and you won’t miss anything. I find that scanning two squares across at a time gives full coverage at the equator and isn’t too slow.

    Another technique I saw mentioned involves pushing both sticks to the right simultaneously and scanning at the very edge. This doubles the scanner speed and you peel the planet like an apple. Interesting technique, but I found it more difficult to get full coverage without too much overlap.

  11. 1d30 says:

    There’s still no reason for the Reapers to brook any organics, and especially not to employ any themselves. Perhaps they might keep a race of bioengineered soldiers hanging around one planet just for cases where a machine cannot work for whatever reason – but that is absolutely not the case here. It’s not that the Reaper tech didn’t work – it’s that ONE Reaper ship didn’t work. The answer to that is not to throw the fleshbags at them, but to bring in a hundred Reaper ships and win.

    And the reboot at the start is just unacceptable. Any untrained, uncreative, unprofessional hack can write a story like that. We’ll have to see what you say about the parts you liked. I suspect it’s not for the story ;P

    I think my problem with the whole deal is that if the Reapers just needed new species to develop sentience so they could somehow use them to make new Reapers or something, why leave the galaxy untended during that time?

    The Reapers effectively have set up a wildlife preserve that they clearcut and devastate every so often. Why not turn to farming? It makes more sense to seed a world, let it develop, and have the orbiting Reaper eat it when it’s ripe (and long before it ever develops any way to harm a Reaper).

    • krellen says:

      The message I got from the “human Reaper” at the end was that Reapers needed organics to evolve. They’re machines, locked in stasis and unable to replicate the chaotic leaps of mutation that organic life creates. If they “farmed” the organics, rather than letting them grow wild, they would still eliminate the random mutation factor that they’re looking for.

      Thus why humans: humans are the one species that beat them (and why they didn’t make a Prothean Reaper: the Protheans didn’t display any redeeming value (until after the Reapers left).)

      At least that’s what I gathered. Still thought the end boss was stupid, though.

      • nilus says:

        The other option is that we all assumed the Collectors were working for the Reapers. But who actually told us this. Only the Illusive man and that guy does nothing but lie.

        It is possible that maybe the Collectors are another faction entirely, possible also working to take down the Reapers. Maybe thats why they wanted to make there own Human Reaper.

        I do agree with Krellen, the end boss was pretty stupid. But I agree with Shamus and say that 75% or more of the game was excellent. Its just the connecting story that kinda sucked. Of course if this is all better explained in the conclusion it might work out.

        • FFJosh says:

          Actually, we see Harbinger’s form very clearly in the end cutscene (which is probably the most awesome sequence in the game, provided you live). So unless there are other giant sapient cephalapod-ships flying around, I find it unlikely that the Collectors are anything but tools for the Reapers.

      • fscan says:

        I agree … i actually found it a nice explanation of the motives of the reapers.

        @nilus: actually, you tell this to TIM. mordin finds this out about the collectors.

    • Nick C says:

      I hadn’t thought of this, but Krellen’s idea makes sense. For me, the problem with the whole reproduction things is that it exists at all. The Reapers are supposed to be the death of organics, a form of life which has transcended us. Or some such thing. The idea that they need to replicate at all makes them lesser things.

      Instead of being a unknowable evil, they become your parents having sex. Which is still horrible admittedly.

      • krellen says:

        To be clear: I don’t think the Reapers need to harvest organics to make new Reapers. I imagine they have the proper technology to, with adequate resources, create as many new Reapers based off existing models as they want.

        The thing I got from the proto-Reaper wasn’t that they needed organics to reproduce, but that they needed organics to evolve. Without harvesting organics, the Reapers would inevitably lose the arms race between their technology and organic evolution. By creating new Reaper templates based off favourable organic species – humans, in this cycle’s case – they ensure they stay ahead of the curve, taking the best traits of the most valuable species in each cycle.

        Of course, they didn’t create a new Prothean-Reaper and the Protheans are really the ones that foiled them, so ultimately they’re going to fail, human-Reaper or no.

  12. Kaorael says:

    I’d say you’re being too harsh with the main plot. The Collectors used to be the Protheans, and the Reapers did harvest them in the millions. The few remaining were implanted with robotic parts until they were barely organic anymore, and unable to reproduce. The AI in Ilos in the first game said that Ilos was an isolated research facility, and that communication with the rest of the species was lost, so it’s not surprising it didn’t know about the transformation of some few Protheans into Collectors. Even if there are a few million Collectors (and probably not even that), it’s ridiculously small compared with the numbers of what was a civilization that spawned half the galaxy at their peak.

    And the Reapers have used organics before, in the form of the Keepers in the Citadel. They created the Keepers to maintain the Citadel working so that newcomers could use it unaware of it’s purpose as the entry gate for the Reapers, and to open it when the time came, but that plan failed because the Protheans on Ilos found a way to mess with their programming.

    Sovereign’s attack was in fact the second attempt to open the gate, and at that point is where Shepard appeared and stopped him.

    The Collectors are probably the next tool they have open to use, and they act under the entity called “The Harbringer”, most probably a Reaper, who sets them in motion and possesses their bodies in a way not unlike what Sovereign did to Saren’s remains at the end of ME1. If the Collectors hadn’t appeared before that point in force, it’s probably because the Reapers, thinking themselves superior to all organic life, hadn’t considered that Sovereign could fail.

    You say that Shepard can be revived, so what’s the value of having a game over screen. Well, reviving him cost Cerberus a LOT of resources and 2 years, and the station where it was done was destroyed at the beginning of the game and most of the scientists killed. Even if they had the means to do it again, would they be able to do it in time for it to be worthwhile?

    The Alliance, specially now that humanity has joined the Council, has their hands tied with the Terminus systems. As it was clearly said near the beginning of the first game, colonies in those territories can’t be protected by the Council because it has no jurisdiction there, and sending a fleet would be considered an act of war. Cerberus, as distasteful as their methods are, have their hands free in that region of space.

  13. Raygereio says:

    “Several people suggested that the reboot of Shepard was done in order to justify resetting his skills and class. I certainly hope this isn’t the case, because it means they’ll need to kill him again at the start of Mass Effect 3.”

    I think that was the real reason, or at least part of it. ME1′s story isn’t the only thing that didn’t set up a sequel properly. At the end of the game you’re pretty much a level 20 character in a world of level 5′s with the occasional level 10.

    Now, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that for ME3 as it sort of looks like they’re just going to raise levelcap from 30 to 50 or 60. Mind you, this is just a feeling I have from looking at the game’s files

  14. WoodenTable says:

    Huh. I haven’t played either game, but this sounds a lot like a more mild version of Shamus’s thoughts on Fable 2. Lots of fun gameplay broken up by [pain]The Story.[/pain]

  15. Irridium says:

    I’m guessing the Alliance doesn’t do anything about the missing colonists because, well, the colonists hate the Alliance. When you go to the planet Kaiden/Ashley is on, it shows. The colonists hate him/her and the Alliance even though they sent a small form of help. Even when you save half of the colony, the one mechanic still hates you and the Alliance.

  16. Jabor says:

    “Citadel Station” is a much better name for the place than “The Citadel”.

  17. B.J. says:

    As I understand it, story was generally sacrificed for gameplay purposes. The reboot style was done in order to avoid alienating newcomers to the series. Not saying whether that is good or bad, but that is the decision they went with.

    The Collectors and their collective plot holes were intended as designated bad guys for the sake of having a big epic final mission where anyone can die. It’s true that the real threat is the reapers, but there needs to be some kind of villain for the middle game that they can present as a credible threat as well as throw away by the end of the game in time for the sequel.

    Its also clear that the designers wanted to explore more of the galaxy than the original, instead of simply retreading the same planets and stations. Since they spent the whole first game establishing that the Alliance and the Council races are not welcome in the Terminus systems the shift to Cerberus was necessary. Maybe they could have come up with some other contrived Kojima-style plot where Shepard pretends to go AWOL and but is really a double agent informing on Cerberus for the Alliance or some other garbage, but would that really have changed anything important in the game? Not really.

    • GTB says:

      I would have loved a game in which nobody is happy to see Shepard, and might be outright hostile. That would have been far superior to the way they actually did it.

      Mr. Young hit the nail on the head with this:
      “But this reveals the rift in the groups who came together in the first game. One is here for epic space opera, the other is here to play an ass-kicking hero.”

      That is exactly it. I am firmly in the epic space opera camp, which the first game, despite its flaws, delivered admirably. This game on the other hand, is a retooling of gears of war. A shooter with enough plot tacked on and a minimum amount of character skills to train in to justify calling it an rpg. …barely.

      • krellen says:

        The root problem, of course, is that “ass-kicking hero” is a larger market, and with EA running things, they want to tap the larger market.

        BioWare used to be one of the refuges those of us that aren’t part of the “ass-kicking hero” segment could turn to. This no longer seems to be the case.

        That’s the central point of my issue with the game and the change in gameplay: every other game on the market is targeted at the “ass-kicking hero” segment. Why did they have to take away my segment of the market with this sequel?

        If it hadn’t been a sequel, the sting would be less.

        • GTB says:

          True. If this had been a completely different IP, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. I would have said “oh, bioware is venturing into the action game market. Well, that’s cool.” and I would have played it and said “Huh, well, that wasn’t as good as their rpgs, but they make an okay shooter.” and everything would be good. Instead, they take one of my favorite games of all time, rip out all the things I like about it, add a bunch of stupid action shit (ammo, really?), and charge me 60 bucks for it. It’s not that it’s a bad game, because It isn’t. Its that it isn’t mass effect, and that disappoints me. Its some action game I was tricked into buying.

        • Sean Riley says:

          That’s the central point of my issue with the game and the change in gameplay: every other game on the market is targeted at the “ass-kicking hero” segment. Why did they have to take away my segment of the market with this sequel?

          “Money, dear boy.” — Lawrence Olivier.

          Halo 3 Sales: 10,780,000
          Gears of War sales: 6,020,000
          Mass Effect: 2,130,000

          Sadly, our segment is about a third of their segment. They can’t afford to market to us. It’s a losing proposition.

          • Sean Riley says:

            Also, to your other point, I’m unconvinced EA is behind the change. Mass Effect also seemed to be leaning toward trying to capture the shooter market; look at the Pinnacle Station DLC. And EA published Dragon Age, which is a hard core, old school RPG. I think Bioware was already pushing this way. This is all them.

            • Roll-a-die says:

              Sorry had to respond to this because it made me laugh. Dragon Age had gameplay styled as an old school BG2/FO(oldshit version not newshit version) RPG. Based around building a party and setting off to save to world, bang hot people, etc, etc. How ever I want you to think of the basic plot for a second.

              SPOILERS Vague or other wise start here.
              “You” are a person who trough some sequence of circumstances are drafted away from what should be your normal station in life into the grey wardens. The grey wardens are a monastic order dedicated to(here’s where the fun starts) fighting zombified and/or demon possessed orcs. Your main goal in the game is simply to kill the big bad at the end and in the process rack up a massive kill count.

              Throughout the game “you” are repeatedly told that “you” are the only one whom can defeat the big bad. Your secondary goal(/s) are getting enough people to realize that you are a bad ass and work with you to have a chance of defeating said big bad’s army. Which you generally end up doing through a combination of talking and killing, mainly the latter. There are no problems that can be solved purely through diplomacy almost all but the most mundane quests require you to engage in some combat. Do I need to go on?

              • Sean Riley says:

                And this is different to Knights of the Old Republic, or Jade Empire how?

                It’s well and truly within the Bioware tradition.

                • Roll-a-die says:

                  Just trying to make you realize that they have been aiming for the largest common divisor since BG2 at least story-wise.

                  Though compare this too something like fallout one or two where whole sections of the plot can be skipped if you make the right choices and/or have the right skills.

                  You can run through fallout(once again oldshit not new) killing only 1 or 2 people if I recall correctly. And that’s more of a letting them die because I don’t fight kinda thing. That in the entire game not just the main plot and happily murdering mooks that come at you.

                  You could do this in Deus Ex as well which is a shooter example. It’s possible through things like having Gunters kill phrase and such to avoid firing a single round.

                  Compare that too Kotors hundreds(of kills) and mass effects possibly one to two thousand. BG2 seem positively murderous in comparison.

                  Storywise Bioware is lacking in the ambiguity that both of those series had. Even in DA you had a clear sense of TEH DURK SPOON IZA TEH EVULZ hammered into your head from the start. There were also clear lines of black and white except in one quest.(You know the one I’m talking about.)

                  With Deus Ex you have a clear threat yes but that threat is so fully fleshed out in auxiliary text that you can start to sympathize with them. It clings to the four truth style of story telling which is as close to realism as it gets.( the truth as you know it, the truth as your allies know it, the oppositions truth and the actual truth)

                  For example the majestic twelve was actually formed by rogue elements of the American cell of the Illuminati, whom had chosen to abandon them as America started to fall. When America recovered they saw a chance and took it. Page was not as ambiguously evil as you might think but rather a business man who saw a chance to control what he thought as rightfully his. When his superiors made a mistake he capitalized on it and seized control. He was a dedicated man whom started to snap once JC Denton started to upset the carefully laid balance of the world as he saw it.

                  And whose to say his utopia(The golden city on the hill I think Page called it) would have been all that bad.

          • WarlockofOz says:

            On the other hand ‘uncontested RPG #1′ probably tops ‘oops, 23 other shooters got more sales’.

            • krellen says:

              Exactly. BioWare makes excellent RPGs. They can claim practically 100% of that 1/3. If they aim for the other 2/3rds with five or six solid competitors, they have to somehow pull in 50% of the market, instead of the 16% that would be their “fair share”.

              It’s a short-sided investment to aim for a smaller part of the larger market rather than taking the vast majority of the smaller market.

              • Sean Riley says:

                But they still got that 100%. How many fans of Mass Effect didn’t go out and buy Mass Effect 2? And, heck, I know I will by ME3, too. (I’m sure as heck a lot more likely to buy ME3 than the next Dragon Age game, since I found Dragon Age painful.)

                In the end, it may well be that 100% of the 1/3 isn’t enough.

        • Raygereio says:

          “The root problem, of course, is that “ass-kicking hero” is a larger market, and with EA running things, they want to tap the larger market.”

          I’m having trouble find the post on the old BioWare forums, so you’ll have to take my word on this.

          A BioWare dev stated (presumable after he got tired of the endless and quite frankly tiring “ZOMG EA SUCKS” posts after the new ammo system was introduced) that no EA had nothing do with the design decisions of ME2, this was all BioWare’s doing.

          • Sean Riley says:

            This could easily be a smokescreen, of course. But I’m willing to believe. Just because EA is evil one way, doesn’t mean it’s evil in all. For God’s sake, EA published Brutal Legend. If they were determined to tinker around and wreck games for profit, Brutal Legend wouldn’t have looked a THING like it did in the end.

            • GTB says:

              Yeah, I don’t necessarily believe that EA is behind everything bad that happens to good games. EA, at its very core, is out to make money, and the first Mass Effect was a large enough IP that any sequel at all would make a decent profit. Frankly i’m too lazy to sit down with IMDB or whatever and figure out who was in the original ME team and who was in the ME2 team, but my theory is that it was likely a new group of people within bioware who simply decided to take the game in a new direction. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t really matter at this point.

              The little plot things that Mr. Young has brought up in this post don’t really bother me as much as the integral game elements that have changed. I don’t really care where Mordin got the bug, for instance, but having to scrounge ammo, and the new upgrade system rather than picking up new weapons are two unnecessary game-play changes that continue to annoy me even after beating the game. I applaud the loss of the Mako, but I don’t understand why I now have to physically pilot the ship around. It serves absolutely no purpose that I can see.

  18. DNi says:

    I actually like the Collectors. And I found out that they were the Protheans early on, since there’s a side mission near where you do Jacob’s loyalty mission in which at the end you find a Prothean beacon (only this one actually has a detailed image of the Protheans, whereas in the first game you only got blurry images), so that might have something to do with it.

    And they make sense to me. They’re not unlike the Keepers on the Citadel, indoctrinated to the point in which they’re not really sentient entities at all, so there’s precedent within the ME universe. And it’s mentioned in the game that before ME1, they had an interest in all intergalactic species, buying various peoples from slavers and abducting others. From that I gather that they were the intelligence agents of the Reapers, gaging the evolutionary paths of species and cultures and determining when the Reapers should and would return.

  19. Oleyo says:

    I thought it was a great metaphor. :)

  20. Rick W says:

    “But even if their plan had worked, so what? One Reaper? Would they just fling it at Citadel and hope it fared better than Sovereign?”

    Why not? The only reason Sovereign failed is Shepard caught on to what Saren was up to and was hot on his heels at Ilos, while the Alliance fleet was rallied and ready to jump to the Citadel to take Sovereign out. If the Reapers could tell the newborn where the Conduit is so it doesn’t have to go looking for it like Sovereign did, and assuming the Conduit is still active, a single Reaper has a very good chance of being ready to hit the Citadel before anyone realizes it’s coming, and would then have a very good shot at winning.

  21. Miral says:

    Others have already expressed most of what I wanted to say (that I agree with some bits of your review, but you’re being too harsh and ignoring the backstory in other areas). But one thing that hasn’t been addressed yet: the evidence of the Collector ship’s presence.

    Yes, it’s a freaking big ship. Yes, it takes off with rocket boosters. No, that does not necessarily mean that it leaves smoke or a crater.

    You’re forgetting about the mass effect fields. If the ship kept them powered on the whole time, then it could have close to zero mass, such that even if it touched down on the surface it wouldn’t bend a single blade of grass (and there’s no requirement for it to touch down at all). Similarly, the rocket boosters only need to have very low power since they’re not required to move much mass; if they’re trying to hide their presence then they could start with thrusters mounted high above the surface, and only engage the main thrusters once they’re well clear. (When they’re leaving Horizon, they don’t bother — at that point they want to get away quickly rather than stealthily.)

  22. Paravia says:

    I have just found this site. I finished the game within 48 hours after it came out, and I actually agree with much of your complaints Shamus. The one thing I haven’t seen mention of directly that I really am disappointed with is the scanning for materials. I finished with element zero at 150k and the others all at 700k+. What is the point though. Yeah i know that if you reimport the character you just finished with you get a pathetic 50k starting bonus, but its not like you can sell the 700k you finish the game with, and even if you could there isn’t anything to buy with it. Unfortunately that only became apparent towards the end after I had already scanned every planet they allow you to.

    • neothoron says:

      Well, personnally I caught on on that about about 50% in the game and I completely stopped collecting resources – only hunted for anomalies.

      But yeah, they should really tell beforehand that there are far enough resources in the game to pay all upgrades 3 times over – that you’re only supposed to dig for resources when you must purchase an upgrade. (Which would explain why you have these moderately helpful “Now you can afford XXXX” announcements)

  23. Rob Maguire says:

    I agree that they ruined the Reapers this time around. I just want to rant about it for a while to make myself feel better. It’s been a while since I played the first game, so if I get anything wrong, let me know. ;)

    Let’s start with the revelations of Mass Effect 1, with a little extrapolation. Of course, most of this is just fan theory, but a lot of it is supported by Sovereign’s conversations.

    I disagree that Reapers are a ‘force of nature’. While Sovereign tried to project an Elder Gods vibe, Reapers are obviously artificial constructs. A naturally-evolving metallic being, if such a thing existed, would be no more compatible with technology than an organic one. They are starships – complete with mass effect cores, main guns and bridges, for crying out loud!

    With that in mind, their origins seem clear. There was an extremely advanced precursor race. They created the mass relays and the Citadel. They also created the Reapers, who (much like the Geth) revolted against their masters. And when a spacefaring race’s entire fleet mobilizes against them, there’s not a chance in hell they are going to survive.

    However, the new machine race was stagnant, unable to evolve as living things did. So they hatched a plan. Allow the organics to rebuild, then occasionally harvest their technology, kill the survivors, and retreat to dark space to wait for the Citadel to alert them again (remember, time means nothing to a machine).

    Sovereign said that allowing new races to use the Citadel and mass relays controlled the lines their technology progressed along, as they built their society around reverse-engineered mass effect tech. This means everything the organics built could, with minimum modification, be made compatible with the Reapers’ hardware.

    The Reapers’ plan: have one Reaper stay behind and monitor galactic civilization. Once their technology reaches a certain level (high enough to be worth harvesting, while still low enough to not be a threat to the Reaper fleet), the signal to awaken is broadcast to the dormant fleet and the Citadel relay is activated (as planned in Mass Effect 1). This is the only way that makes sense, since technology grows exponentially. The 50,000 years figure given is just an arbitrary number that wouldn’t ensure Reaper survival.

    You stopped the relay from opening, but the fleet was still signaled. However, for the first time in all the cycles since the precursor race was wiped out, we have extra time and forewarning; our technology has a chance to become dangerous to them (see SR-1 vs the Collector vessel compared to SR-2).

    Then Mass Effect 2 came along. Suddenly the Reapers are part organic, and harvest CIVILIZATIONS instead of technology to make new Reapers. It’s just so stupid, and it doesn’t fit the ME1 conversations at all. I could accept that the Reaper core is part organic (as seen at the end of ME2) with the ship built around it for mobility, but the numbers cited clearly meant the entire freaking Reaper is coursing with living material. Why would you change the core bad guys in your game, especially when the way they were meant there were interesting parallels drawn with the Geth?

    Edit: spoiler tags don’t seem to be working?

  24. lebkin says:

    Since everyone seems to be focusing on the bigger plot holes, I want to address Mordin and the bug. When I picked up Mordin, there was no bug in the lab. When you go down into Horizon to fight the Collectors for the first time, Mordin talks about how the new protection will “theoretically work.” It is not until you return from Horizon and your interaction with the seeker swarms is there one of them in the storage tank. This happened in both of my playthroughs (Xbox 360). If yours appeared earlier, maybe it was a bug?

    • It could mean one of two things. That he was using it to research a protection or that he simply acquired it and is doing further research anyway. I’m guessing it’s just a missed dialog opportunity. (dialog they could have added/written but didn’t) And who knows how much dialog was written but not recorded. *sigh*

      Btw! When you first meet Tali and see the Collector video recordings, would it not be plausible that information from that surviving Quarian was enough for Mordin to research a protection?

      ME2 has like what, 20% more dialog than ME1, but still I feel like it could have needed more to fully flesh out and avoid confusion in several cases. So I’m slightly worries about ME3. I hope there is less side quests and much larger/storied out main plot. (hopefully there will still be relationship/romance side plots to further developer ME1 and ME2 characters but no more new characters etc.)

      One thing for sure, Mass Effect Trilogy would be way better if they where made as expansions rather than separate games, because ME2 tried to appeal to first timers. (kinda pointless for a trilogy if you ask me)

      And the skills reset etc as an excuse? Nah, silly. I would have created a skill/level system that is auto scalable.
      I.e: 1.0 (100%) would mean a skill is maxed out, that way 100% could represent one thing in ME1 and another in ME2 but the stats in the savegame could be carried over “as is” and slightly adjusted up or down during import. (they could still have done that with the stats as they where btw).
      If you kicked the ass of Geth in ME1 as a lev 60 then you should do the same in ME2 (and instead throw bigger/badder Geth at you, which they actually did).

      I plan to do a Story/Consistency review later when ME3 is out and I’ve played it, until then I’m just twiddling my thumbs hoping ME3 arrives next Jan or Feb.

  25. Just posted a review of ME2 (like me review of ME1)
    http://emsai.net/journal/?post=Rescator20100212004756

    I mention Shamus’ plot review and that I do not agree at all.
    I’m pretty sure that BioWare had outlined the plot early in ME1 development if not sooner. The overall plot did not change, how they tell it may have however. And as far as I can recall, nothing has been retconned yet.

    As pointed out by others, the collectors are basically plan C (Saren and Sovereign and Geth attack was plan B), the old Protheans foiled plan A (which Sovereign did not realize until just before the beginning of ME1 I’m guessing).

    I doubt the reapers have a plan D, by the looks of it at the end they are now “legging” it from dark space en-masse.

    And to those that think it’s odd for the reapers to harvest civilizations en-masse. Remember that each reaper is a “nation” So I’m guessing is that 50000 years previously each reaper harvested a planet or two each and acquired whatever stuff they needed to keep living or evolve. I wouldn’t be surprised if in ME3 Shepphard gains a reaper as a ally or neutral source of information at least.

    Remember Legion? He’s not like other Geth, he’s not like the infected Geth either, Legion is almost like a mini version of what a Reaper is.

    Make sure that after the ending credits that you choose to continue playing and talk to Legion, because if you add Legion to your crew very late you do not have enough time to do all his dialog before the end mission. Luckily unlike ME1 you can continue after the end in ME2 to finish dialog or side quests, heck even loyalty quests (if they survived the final mission that is) you won’t be able to romance anyone fully though, but those you did romance can be invited to your room for erm, cuddling..

    There is one issue though, so much of the ploy exposition details is scattered all around that even I keep hearing/reading things I missed when I surf the net making me go “aha, so that’s why…”

    ME2 almost feel like it’s bridging ME1 and ME2, introducing more characters and plot details, but not really resolving anything. I really hope no new characters are introduced in ME3 because ME3 is going to be so busy plotwise that a new character would vanish in the mess.

    We will find out what Liara was doing though, and Ashley/Kaiden as well I’m sure. and the Illusive man, is he really a human at all? (I kinda suspected that he was Harbringer, it would be a great twist but I doubt it as Harbringer and Illusive Mans actions directly conflicted in ways that was illogical (a machine would not do illogical things, take Legion and him asking you to decide on a matter because his processes has xxx for and xxx against and the difference is like 7 and that’s too close for him to call (within margin of error I assume?) so he’s using you as a external entropy source or random generator or magic 8ball *laughs*).

    Which brings me to Joker and the Ship AI, they both say (again late dialog, may be missed if you are too busy) that despite the Ship AI being perfect in navigation she and Joker found the ship felt a bit off when she flew, and that the sometimes illogical choices of an organic would actually give then an upper hand against a pure artificial opponent.

    Easy to miss, but actually might parallel a conclusion the reapers did as well.
    The Geth (and Legion) are also working to better themselves and find organics fascinating.
    The non-human races are fascinated by (and some even fear) the humans due to the adaptivity and diversity (stated in dialog at least once).
    An Asari (forgot which) stated that three with 3 humans in room you would get 6 different opinions. Obviously a joke, but yet a joke with truth in it. Heck, good old Wrex was not surprised that Sheppard survived (saying something of redundant nervous system and organs etc), Sheppard answer that humans do not have that. Wrex answers, oh must have hurt then or similar.

    That may have been just Wrex not caring much for human biology, but again and again aliens react with surprise to human behavior and decisions.

    And remember that Asari consort in ME1, giving you that object.
    Well if you find the place to use it you are shown a vision.
    Someone was studying primates.

    I would not be surprised if ME3 reveals that the ones that created the Mass Effect relays, also created the reapers and the humans, one organic path and one mechanical path. (and the parallels between reapers and Quarians and Geth are there)

    Heck, it’s even possible humans are descendants of whomever created the reapers.

    It’s almost impossible to review ME2 plot Shamus, so I really hope that when ME3 is out and you’ve played through that, that you revisit this and do a Mass Effect Trilogy Plot Review.

    Also, it’s not helping with the savegame carry over, depending on the choices you did in ME1 you may miss out or gain extra info, nothing major, but it all adds up, it could even get worse with the ME2(ME2+ME1) to ME3 carryover.

    Another issue with games like these (and sometimes movies and books as well) is that you have no sense of how much time passes (can anyone recall any character sleeping for example? Seen a sunrise/sunset happen?) So while it seems like a character suddenly behaves differently it is quite possible Sheppard and the NPC has been speaking “off camera” for weeks between certain dialog lines.
    Obviously a great writer manages to explain this or minimize that but it’s very hard to avoid. Time is relative, not constant, to an observer.

    By the time Mass Effect 3 (and a new trilogy?) is released, people will still be dissecting the Mass Effect Trilogy heh.
    It seems BioWare managed to create their own Star Wars, for better and worse. :P

    Oh and Shamus, just because I do not agree with you does not mean I do not share your concern. I to react to the cliches. And when I see certain plot changes/direction I tend to think “oh no, that better damn well pan out in ME3) for example.

    • ps238principal says:

      “…and that the sometimes illogical choices of an organic would actually give then an upper hand against a pure artificial opponent.”

      That reminds me: When the Normandy 2 was attached to the supposedly “dead” Collector ship and it came to life, why did Joker do the most bone-headed maneuver he could have dreamed up? Keep in mind, this is the man whose previous ship was destroyed by this same Collector vessel, so he should be quite familiar with how it went about blowing his ride to bits. With that in mind… why did he fly the Normandy 2 right in front of the Collector ship’s ‘you go dead now’ beam weapon to escape?! Did the thought of flying away in another direction escape his brain completely, or is he secretly suicidal?

  26. ps238principal says:

    It may have been worth it just to have Tricia Helfer’s voice telling me to “probe away.” :)

  27. Jason W says:

    People keep mentioning that they think Harbinger was a Reaper. I didn’t get that impression at all. It seemed pretty clear that “The Harbinger” was the collector drone possessed by the Collector General. Consider the last scenes with the General where it’s obviously him talking as he shuts himself down.

    I’ve personally had no trouble with the Collector bits of ME2. The impression I had from the first game is that the Reapers were effectively asleep and that Sovereign didn’t get a chance to wake them up. The Collectors are the contingency plan for a new Reaper that could exercise contingency plans that they wouldn’t trust minions for. Needing “millions” more is speculation on the characters’ part. The thing already looked half finished.

    I was really annoyed with the Cerberus part though. I do wonder if it was mainly an excuse for a gameplay reset, well-advised or not. I really wanted a) to be able to tell off the Illusive Man much more than the game allows, b) that there were a lot more negative reprecussions to the fact that you are sporting Cerberus logos on everything, and c) that they didn’t use all this as an excuse for the Council to reset to the “lalala we can’t hear you” stage.

    • acronix says:

      Bioware was clever and made that, during 99% of the times the “Harbringer” speaks, he does so while you are shown the collector drone. However, at the very ending cinematic, you see this drone running, while “Harbringer” speaks. This gives the impression that the drone is speaking. However, if you look carefuly, when the drone gets to push some buttons in the panel where he stops, you´ll see that the camera shows (for a very short time) the holograph of a reaper, while “Harbringer” says “You have failed. We´ll find another way.” before the holograph shuts down. The rest comes downhill on its own after you realize this.

  28. Sean Riley says:

    I just want to chip in here on Shamus’s side and ask:

    For those who are defending the overall plot arc of the Mass Effect series, explain to me: Why is it that in Mass Effect 1, Cerberus are pure evil, but suddenly shift in the sequel? What sort of storyteller wouldn’t set up his main protagonist group for the second set?

    Why wouldn’t you, if you knew the Collectors would be your main villains for the second game, set up rumors of them in the first?

    I’m happy for people to argue that the new plot is cool too. I’m even fine for them to say it jells fine with the first. Both of those are defensible statements. I like some of the reveals (like the true nature of the Collectors) myself.

    But anyone arguing Bioware didn’t think up ME1 and THEN start on ME2 isn’t paying attention. There was clearly no pre-trilogy thought process. They plainly thought up ME1, finished it, and then went, “Well, now we do a sequel. Um, what now?” Which means ME is NOT a planned trilogy.

    • krellen says:

      Clicked the wrong “Reply”.

    • Not true:
      http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/04/04/bioware-why-we-are-making-mass-effect-as-a-trilogy/
      I think the very first meeting we had with Casey Hudson, who is the project director on that project — Greg and me and Casey went out for lunch and said, “What do we do [next]? “Knights of the Old Republic” was a great success. What’s going to be the next challenge to the team?”

      At the lunch we decided that we want something that really feels epic. It’s like you’re the tip of the spear of humanity on a galactic stage. Something that’s big and ambitious. What about a trilogy?

      But I have to agree that the Cerberus thing seems rather abrupt, but who knows, the comic mini-series is dealing with the Shadow Broker and Cerberus and the Collectors.
      Also the 2nd novel talks about the collectors too if I recall correctly.
      It’s a shame though, this extra outside game material fleshes out the universe but those only playing the game lack that info. Did ME2 Collectors edition include the 2nd novel on disc?

      • Sean Riley says:

        Again, I call BS. That’s marketing spin, not truth.

        Answer the questions. WHY were Cerberus so blankly one-sided villains if they were always intended to come back in the sequel as anti-heroes? Why were the Collectors not even remotely hinted at?

        Bioware either didn’t plan it, or they are bad storytellers. Take your pick.

  29. RichVR says:

    Shamus, I love your stuff, but as someone who has been busy playing Star Trek Online it seems that you are kind of, I don’t know, alienating people like me who haven’t played ME2. I can’t read any of your latest posts. In fact, I haven’t even finished ME1.

    Now of course, that’s my problem. I understand that. Maybe I’m the only one. Perhaps there aren’t any “people like me”. But I have no way of knowing that. Because:

    1. I Won’t read your posts. Due to spoiler issues.

    2. I Won’t read any of the comments to find out if anyone else is in my situation, because I might read a spoiler or two.

    So I’m posting this blindly and the funny thing is, I’ll never know if you reply because I’d rather not ruin the game accidentally if I hit a comment before yours that has a spoiler.

    Well… it’s been nice reading your stuff.

    ;)

    • krellen says:

      I wish someone would explain to me the value of avoiding (and all the effort put into making it easy for others to avoid) spoilers. I have never had a well-crafted plot be ruined for me by knowing it before hand, and I’ve never felt a loss for having a poorly-executed plot “ruined” before experiencing it first hand.

      The Sixth Sense is still as good if you know Willis is dead – better, in fact, because you can have both the “first view” AND the “second view” experience at the same time. And I’ve found this true for all good stories.

      • Raygereio says:

        Some people seem to be only entertained by any media if they are surprised by the plot. Which is exceedingly silly, but to each their own.

        • Yep! Hehe. the plot in ME2 certainly “surprised” a lot of people that played ME1, then again I’m an idealist and I’ll only be annoyed if ME3 just ignores all loose ends from ME1 and ME2, which I highly doubt they will allow.

      • neothoron says:

        Knowing the plot twist does not ruin the plot itself – the plot will stay good/bad whether you know beforehand it or not. What it ruins for me is the emotion that you feel when a good plot unfolds/twists – instead of genuine exhilaration or surprise or shock or outrage (at a bad plot), I am already analyzing everything according to what will be happening next.

        When I experience a second view of a (good) show, the experience is reinforced by the fact that I remember what I felt in the first view – and I derive enjoyment from that memory in addition of knowing where the show is leading me. That observation is why I feel that “experiencing first and second view at the same time” is not an accurate description – that you are experiencing something that is neither. That can still be extremely enjoyable – but it is not, it cannot be, the same.

        • krellen says:

          To each their own, I suppose. I most definitely can have both experiences at once. Good twists still have the “surprise” factor when you learn how the twist is revealed.

          • neothoron says:

            Another problem with spoilers, some “spoil” more than others – for example “X dies”, “X dies killed by Y”, “X dies killed by Y in a very shocking, unbelievable scene that fills the viewer with outrage towards Y’s betrayal while hinting to how difficult it really was for Y to do it” – there is a point where even good twists end up with damage (Though that point’s exact position may vary according to the person.) For spoiler-sensitive persons, that point is low.

            • I don’t mind some spoilers, as they might help me avoid the death of a character I want to keep alive. (Tali for example) avoids unnecessary replays of the game. (already played through ME2 twice, and the first playthrough I ended up with 3 saves (so like 2.5 times total I guess), the 2nd time I played through ME1 + ME2 for a pure Tali romance path.

        • Roll-a-die says:

          I’m of the opinion that good fiction is something that can make you feel happiness or suspense. But truly great fiction is something that makes you feel a whole gamut of emotion from regret to sorrow to apathy to joy.

          This is why I generally prefer novels or P&P to video games. As the only video game I have played in the last 6 or so years that has made me feel the whole gamut is a little flawed gem called VtM:Bloodlines.

          • Oh man Bloodlines was kickass, it had the same atmosphere immersion as Mass Effect, shame it was rushed to meet a deadline matching Half Life 2, then the Half Life 2 source leak caused it to be put on ice and no work done on it, then it was released around HL2 release. The last game those guys made, community is still fixing/modding bugs out of game.

  30. Barachiel says:

    Okay, allow me to address these points, and since some don’t seem to like drawing conclusions for various facts on screen, I’ll stick to what is blatantly stated.

    1) Why doesn’t the Alliance do anything?

    Right there in the opening, people. They’re stretched too thin, either from having lost a lot of ships saving the Council or having replaced the Council, depending on your ending of Mass Effect 1.

    And they *are* doing something, they just aren’t doing the *right* things. Again, the Illusive Man states that official investigators make it there first, until Freedom’s Hope. BUT the Council/Alliance doesn’t believe in the Reaper threat, so they’ve been drawing entirely the wrong conclusions. They don’t even know about the Collector Threat till Horizon, which is halfway thru the game for your PC.

    Cerberus on the other hand, is devoting nearly *all* its time and resources to this problem, *AND* they believe in the Reaper threat, *AND* the Illusive Man suspected Collector involvement (though he never explains how or why), so he was aiming you the right way the entire time.

    2) The Reapers, the Collectors, and the Abductions

    This entire section just baffled me because the man answers his own questions, just in different areas of his dissertation. The Reapers *DID* leave themselves other strategies for returning: The Collectors. They are important, because this is yet another of their plots and you’re going to stop it.

    In fact, it makes *sense* that they have intermediaries, because if you fight a full blown Reaper every game, you’d accuse it of being repetitive, and you can’t break out the Reaper Armada till Act III. But I digress. What happened to the geth? Clearly stated by Legion. The Collectors are the new Geth, only with more face-time.

    As for the abductions, again, if you listen to the early explanations of the Reapers, they would slip out from beyond the Omega-4 relay and pay slavers for very odd assortments of specimens. Twins, or left-handed batarians, or other weird specifics. Then suddenly, BOOM they’re after humanity. Well, apparently whatever they were looking for, they found it in us.

    I’m sorry, the only real “plot hole” in this game is what the deal was with the Human-Reaper-Fetus, and why *specifically* they wanted us. And as irritating as it was to not get those answers, I have no doubt it’ll be explained in Mass Effect 3, aka the Big Finish.

    • acronix says:

      1) Lets mention that they sent some defensive towers to Freedom´s Hope, so they *are* doing something, and TIM is probably a lying bastard. After all, he sends Shepard right to the collectors trap just to prove that he was right.
      However, that doesn´t explain why people stay in those far away colonies that are being abducted. The whole “we don´t trust the Alliance” and the “Alliance never does a crap” excuse doesn´t work too well when there are…how many people? Hundreds of thousands? That´s a lot of countries disapearing. But again, TIM is a lying bastard, so maybe they aren´t abducting that much people.

      2) Yes, it makes sense to think the reapers had a bunch of backup plans…just that it doesn´t from what we know from ME1:

      a-The reapers leave one of them behind to activate the signal.
      b-Sovereign probably was around some centuries after the signal failed, devicing a plan.
      c-His best plan was to ally himself with the geth and use Saren as a minion.

      Now, if the reapers made the collectors with the proteans, this means they were around, hiding, by the time of ME1. Why didn´t Sovereign use them, instead of the geth? Or even better, why not use them both? Of course, the collectors had just one ship (from what they make you understand in ME2), but he could have used them to attack Eden Prime, and as his normal “goons”, while leaving the geth fleet as an surprise element. And, because he was around centuries, devicing a plan, he could have ordered the collectors to BUILD A FLEET, so he would have had twice the many ships and troops.

      So I´m sorry, but the plot holes are more than the human fetus thing and why they wanted humans, which were, as you say, probably planned to be answered in ME3. The collectors were deviced by the writers AFTER they finished ME1, which is not really a problem. The problem is that they didn´t took into account the many implications they would have, and now we can only wait ´til they´ll fix the mess in ME3.

      • Good points, I can only assume the Collectors where in stasis or maybe the cloning machines had to be fired up again or whatever, the reapers certainly like keeping things laying around “dormant” for future use.

        What I don’t get is what The Illusive Man is planning, a part of me whispered that he may already have known the location of the collectors and all these charades was just priming Sheppard the ship and the team for whatever purpose. Maybe The Illusive Man is a new Saren going rogue against the reapers? Too many freaking questions and no answers “yet”.

        Another amusing tidbit, the illusive man clearly prefers Renegade choices (if you choose those you are basically agreeing with him all the way through ME2 doing his bidding)
        But if you go fully Paragon he really does not like you in fact he treats you as if you where Renegade *laughs* so to the illusive man, paragon is renegade.

        PS! *SPOILER*
        ..
        ..





        Ok!
        At the end, depending on your final Renegade or Paragon choice the sun behind The Illusive Man turns red or blue respectively, through most of the game it’s red, if you do the paragon choice it turns blue and he looks at it reflectively. And did anyone else notice that the collector base was near a huge red sun? was The Illusive Man’s secret base on the other side of that sun?
        It also would be interesting if the illusive man was a human that became a machine, while the reapers are machines that want human “traits”. Opposing reaper factions? (yeah I know, speculation again)

        • acronix says:

          It is an interesting idea. The fact that his pupils look cybernetic doesn´t help to think otherwise, but I don´t think he´s the “new Saren” or that his base was on the other side (there are a lot of red suns around the galaxy, after all). But it may be a symbolic way to show that Shepard changed his view-point, or that his plans are similar (but not the same) to those of the collectors: to make of humanity the new reapers (kind of).

          On the other hand, Bioware may have put that beacause of the “Rule of Cool”.

      • fscan says:

        The way i see it sovereign had 3 options:
        a) Play all cards in one game, losing everything if it fails. It would have been one ship more and as seen in me2, not that powerful if they don’t have the surprise effect on their side.
        b) Have the collectors (basically working drones) build another reaper if the attack fails. The geth are expendable, no point in keeping them hidden, the reapers would wipe them out eventually.
        c) Have the collectors build a second reaper first … would not change anything, just swapping the plot of me1 and me2 :)

  31. Wulf says:

    “Once you notice a few holes in the story you start thinking about it more, which causes you to notice things that you might have otherwise overlooked. More leaks appear until eventually the bilge pumps of immersion can no longer keep up and the whole thing begins to sink. (And then the writers torpedo the thing in the last ten minutes anyway.)”

    Thats not essentially right. You don’t like the story, shamus, and begin to graft every new bit you encounter that you don’t like onto the aforementioned resentment against the story. It’s natural that the story falls apart _for you_. But please don’t generalize this.

    Some of the points you bring up are plain wrong, born out of frustration, i don’t know (crew of the normandy – btw.: play the free DLC “Crashsite of the Normandy”), some are nitpicks, some are right. I think, narrative freedom is sometimes allowed. I can handwave the bug, mordin researches or the giant collector ship. Not everything is explained ingame, some things you can explain for yourself, fanon if you will (Yeah, i sound like a fanboy :) ).

    All i’m saying: this is the first game analysis i read from you, where i think that you should take some steps away from the game for a few days, before writing these thing. You are way to frustrated to give an objective view or even an analysis. This is a plain rant, so don’t call it “analysis” if you just vent at the things you don’t like. ME 2 has its share of bad and terrible moments, but it’s not in the scale or even plotpoints you make it look.

    • Shamus says:

      I think you should take a few days away from reading these posts. It’s obvious you’re too worked up to read them objectively and you’re just posting a plain rant against them.

      • Wulf says:

        Come again? I don’t know why you’re now lashing out against me, if i’m not allowed to criticize then just delete the comment, no big deal.
        But: Am i wrong, that your first two ME2 posts feel like a wild rant? You don’t even recognize where you wrote obviously false informations. I mean, i understand when you are frustrated that Bioware botched the story in your eyes but that isn’t a general feeling, you could at least recognize this. Edit: I mean, people explain and clarify a whole lot of fog around the collectors, geth etc. here in the comments. It’s an interesting read.

        Btw.: I generally like your posts and the stuff you do for the escapist. But: “I think you should take a few days away from reading these posts. It’s obvious you’re too worked up to read them objectively and you’re just posting a plain rant against them.”? Come on. Are you Age Ten, or what? You lost a whole lot of respect there.

        • acronix says:

          “Are you Age Ten, or what?”
          For using this line alone, you lost a whole lot of respect too. And now most smart people will want to punch you.

          • Wulf says:

            Why? It was a really childish response of shamus. “Most smart people” will probably realize this.

            “I don’t even recognize your post, i just revert what you say the last.” Come on, i cannot remember him being this way before.

            • Shamus says:

              It was a childish response?

              It was your response! I just lobbed your own lazy reasoning back at you.

              “You disagree with me so therefore you are clearly having trouble reasoning.”

              It’s insulting. Obviously. Since you were insulted when I repeated it back to you.

        • neothoron says:

          I think that it was a reply that simply imitated your comment. I’d take it as a homage to your style and how appreciated it was.

          “I think that you should take some steps away from the game for a few days”
          “I think you should take a few days away from reading these posts.”

          “You are way too frustrated to give an objective view”
          “You’re too worked up to read them objectively”

          “This is a plain rant”
          “You’re just posting a plain rant”

          I will be blunt: the only insightful thing I see in your first comment concerns the crew of the Normandy – already picked up by many comments before you. For the rest, the best you can bring up are “handwave it”, “explain some things by yourself” – or Shamus being frustrated.

    • krellen says:

      I wonder if it’s relevant to note that Shamus loved ME2 when he was playing and just finishing it (review his Twitter for the evidence), and it was only after stepping away from the game for a few days and thinking about it that the flaws of the main story started to become obvious to him.

  32. Here is some food for thought, the theme of Mass Effect seems to be opposing factions and choices and their repercussions. (the whole Paragon vs Renegade theme really).

    Anderson Paragon choice vs Saren Renegade choice in pre-ME1 novel, Pro-Alien vs Anti-Alien human groups in ME1, Krogans wanting to change their ways (Wrex in ME2) or those that want the old ways. Same with your Salarian doc (depending on dialog), The Geth and the virus infected Geth, the Quarians that want a truce with the Geth and the Quarians that want to kill all Geth. Choosing whether to kill or set free the Rachni queen. And so on.

    I just hope BioWare didn’t chew off more than they can handle, ME3 is going to be a pain do make. I’m also curious about the 3rd novel (bridging ME2 and ME3)

    I guess is all goes to the old saying “Every action has an opposite and equal reaction!” :)

  33. N Cowan says:

    Just a couple of points here:

    1. The reapers are AT LEAST 37 million years old. This is actually hinted it in ME1, and proven in ME2.

    2. The Collectors are abducting colonies in the lawless terminus systems. People there will receive neither alliance or council support. This is also explained in the first game.

    3. That the reapers “repurpose” organice life is also nothing new. They used Saren, they used the Keepers, and I bet even if the Geth were organic, they’d still have been used.

    4. Not everything in a sequel needs to have been mentioned in the first game to justify it. Commander Shepard didn’t go much out of council space, which would explain why he hadn’t heard of the Collector’s before. Or the Drell, or the Vorscha.

    5. The collectors have been working on stealing live samples of different species for a very long time. Not always humans, though humans are their latest fetish. They didn’t just “show up.” They’ve been there the whole time, and since no one has made it back from the Omega 4 relay, the will continue to stay aloof.

    5. Shepard isn’t made to be any more of a bad ass than the first game. His biotics/tech skills have improved a bit, due to implants, but he is not super strong, super fast, he can’t fly and he’s not invincible. Add to that he now has scars and a limp, and I’d dare say Shepard is worse for wear. The reason Cerberus brought him back isn’t because he’s the only guy who can physically do the job, it’s because he’s an icon of humanity, which Cerberus represents the best (in their mind) interests of. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it, and the Alliance and Council have sat on their ass for two years.

    All in all, I do not see plot holes in this game. Also, not playing all the sidequests and listening to the dialogue of the characters to learn these things and then complaining about plot holes is like skimming through a good book and complaining about the lack of cohesive story telling.

    • acronix says:

      1- That´s true.

      2- Still doesn´t explain why they keep living there. And besides, the colony you visit while the collector´s are still there had turrets installed by the Alliance, so they *are* worrying a bit about their fellow humans.

      3- It´s nothing new, no. But what´s new is the fact that they use organic life to remake theirselves.

      4- No, it doesn´t need, but if they had planned the trilogy right, they would have put small comments or really tiny mentions of stuff to come. Of course, I don´t mean they´d say in some obscure place “Collectors are working for the reapers!” but maybe they could have had someone mention that they sold a rare two-headed varren to a collector (they did this in ME2, but remember I´m talking about doing it in ME) would have helped to make it feel that the writers didn´t made them out of thin air.
      You could argue that that would make it feel a unrealistic, but the idea isn´t to make it realistic, the idea is to make it beliavle. When a writer inserts hints in his book about stuff to come in his next book, it makes the next book look like it is more cohesive with the previous work than if the writer doesn´t mention anything in the first place. On the other hand, if the first book mentions them too much, readers will accuse the writer of reusing material. Bioware did neither of them, and we can only have their word and our own speculation that they did have a plan of intruducing the collectors, but there´s really nothing to point they did.

      Besides, I think a species of bug-like people that come in few numbers few times and buy rare specimens of other species in exchange of technology would rise a lot of galaxy gossip.

      5- You didn´t got the gripe right. It´s not about Shepard´s capabilities, it´s about how there seems to be no one else like him. There´s no other with his galactic reputation, no other galactic hero/ruthless bastard. No NPC will mention the heroic deeds of McSomeOtherHero. No. Shepard is the only badass hero in the whole galaxy. Also, scars have been since time immemorial a convention writers and artists use in their characters to make them look more badass. They don´t make Shepard more badass, they just make him look more badass.

      Also, your comparison of playing a game without seeing all the sidequests with skimming trough a good book and complaining about the lack of cohesive story telling is different. In a book, the writer chooses how much you will read before the ending. In an RPG with sidequests, the player is the one that decides how much stuff he will play before ending it (not counting the main plot). That´s way they are called, you know, sidequests.

      • Roll-a-die says:

        4. I took the collectors to be an enigma typically contained to the terminus systems. You didn’t go to the terminus systems much in the first game. And if I recall correctly it wasn’t something like a stop by each year to collect five tailed, three headed, 16 nutted varren. It was more of a stop every generation or so to collect an enigma like a few fertile krogan or a couple blind batarian. Which would explain why humans haven’t really encountered them yet as it’s only been around 50 years since they’ve enter the game(which I just lost)… in space *Cheesy sunglasses action*

        5. Wrong there is no one that we’ve heard about. People like Shepard are things that come around once every few generations. Truly enigmas people rally behind their banner because they are charismatic and they get things done. The last one in recent memory in our time would have been Hitler, JFK could have been one but he kinda got shooted ‘afore that could ‘appen. Before that Washington then Napoleon. Afore that… That I know of… Maybe the Coeur de Leon(Richard the Lionheart in common tongue, for those of you who slept through history class) Saladin or a pope somewhere in the annals of history.

        6. Not really numbered but that’s kinda why making great RPG’s is hard you can’t tell the player “YOU’RE GOING TO DO ALL THE FUCKING SIDEQUESTS AND YOU’RE GOING TO LIKE IT MISTER.” They did admirably in the porting of save games over not perfect, but then perfect is just something impossible to shoot at when setting a goal. As long as it near perfect most people can’t tell a difference. There are allot of sidequests that explain things. Though one sidequest led me through robo death corridor(the one where three loki’s spawn every 4 seconds and proceed down the boxed in corridor with awkward cover.) where I spent 3 hour attempting to get through it. So maybe I shouldn’t be talking about sidequests. I almost stopped playing the game I was so pissed.

        • fscan says:

          ah, you mean that one where you are supposed to run to the shuttle and flee? i spent some time there too .. i guess this is what you get if you ignore edi :)

        • acronix says:

          4. You are right. What you say makes sense. However, we are ignoring (I forgot about it too) that they are the only ones that can use the Omega 4 Rele. Everyone else who goes trough there dissapears. Taking into account the importance of the reles in this universe, it´s kind of surprising no one mentioned that “impenetrable rele on the Omega system” or how the only ones that can go trough it are the collectors.

          5. Ok, I´ll accept the “once every few generations”. But you are using Earth´s population as an example, and now we have hundreds and hundreds of planets with its populaton. The “once every few generations” should be multiplied a lot.

          • The fact that there are thousands of planets increases the population who could potentially be this “once every few generations” hero, but it also increases the scale of what they have to do to really be noticed. There may well be several people who are widely known and looked up to on their own planet (hell, if you saved him then Wrex looks like he’s going that way), but are they famous enough to rally support all across the galaxy?

            Even ignoring the fact that Shepard prevented a Reaper invasion (as this bit doesn’t seem to be widely believed), just about everyone in Citadel-controlled space should be aware that a rogue Spectre assembled an army of geth and krogan and launched an attack on the heavily populated seat of galactic government. If it wasn’t for Shepard this attack would almost certainly have succeeded so it’s not surprising that she would be seen as a hero, and as there hasn’t been a threat of this magnitude since the krogan rebellions 2000 years ago it’s hard to imagine what anyone else could have done that would put them on par with Shepard in terms of public opinion.

  34. Scourge says:

    I still remember the first time I finished the game.. my Sheppard was named Lucretia.

    I was like WTF when I saw the Colonist.. even more so since my Sheppard looked exactly like that colonist.

    But now that it is mentioned, there are indeed a lot of plot holes.

    The first thing I thought when hearing that the Reapers are made out of their race was ‘What were the original reapers amde out of then? Giant fleas?”
    And if there are millions of them.. just how long was the galaxy ruled by giant fleas then!?”

    • Roll-a-die says:

      No the galaxy was ruled by the thing for a period of 3 trillion years while his handiness assembled the mighty reapers as his gardeners. His handiness then went into stasis only to emerge to feature in a 1930s through 1990s series about a family which he ruled over.

  35. Shamus says:

    To everyone accusing me of an angry rant, being unreasonable, etc:

    I think the anger is on your side. I’ve stressed time and again how there are things I love about this game, I’m just not talking about them yet.

    Coming up with your OWN justifications for the holes in the game – even if they fit – is no excuse for not having those details in the story, or for burying those details in the far corners of the game.

    Great. Yeoman Chambers will tell me every twenty seconds that I have another useless email about stuff I’ve already done, but if I actually want the plot to make sense I have to play the scanning mini-game all the way out to the ass end of space.

    And even the justifications posted here aren’t really very convincing.

    Using the Keepers to keep the Citadel is pretty different from having an army and using it to fight, particularly since you already HAD an army, which was robotic, etc etc etc.

    It’s great that you can swallow this stuff, but I think my objections are reasonable.

    And for everyone saying “You didn’t play every quest so you have no right to judge!”

    You haven’t read every post in this series yet, either.

    • Roll-a-die says:

      I do have a question Shamus how high do those dice have comments for?

      Emails were an interesting touch. Especially if you were using a completest run. You should have gotten over the course of the game around a dozen from people you helped on side quests in the first game. Things like a survivor of a Cerberus experiment admonishing you for working with them. Or Chozan giving you the summary of the full data from the keeper scans. Things like that. If they had added a way to reply to them it would have been perfect. Maybe open up a dialogue wheel and have your character narrate as he/she types. Or select from 3 different ones paragon, renegade and neutral.

    • Raygereio says:

      “but if I actually want the plot to make sense I have to play the scanning mini-game all the way out to the ass end of space.”

      Don’t worry about it; even if you are a compulsive completionist like me and did all that boring stuff it still won’t make any sense.
      Save for that one beacon that gives you the same vision the beacons in ME1 gave you (with the addition that you see a picture of a collector at the end – which by the way looks rather cheap as the collector seems to be a in different drawingstyle, or something, then the rest of the vision), non of the sidequest have anything to do with the main plot.

      • Roll-a-die says:

        Rey It’s not a different art style its more of a clearer picture. The pyramid you find on roab(I think that’s the planet) is the same message played as the beacons. Bet if you notice in watch a 15 second clip of recorded movement with actual images in side of it. Now watch it again. Repeat that a few times and you’ll notice you start seeing images much clearer. Now look at one of the images that’s included in the clip. This isn’t a case of BW adding something new it’s more of a case of “HOLY SHIT COLLECTORS WERE WITH THE REAPERS” on Shepards part as he picks up an image associated to what he has been mulling around in his head.

        It’s actually a quite realistic reaction psychologically. Your brain looks for associative objects in the world. For instance if you see a new tree your mind automatically files that under tree. Now even if you glance at that you automatically see TREE. Not “BIG green with funny green hair and hurty sharp point spheres that hurt when touched and make puffy things come out when squeezed tha make me sneeze, etc, etc.”

        You also become more adept at spotting said things in ME1 you saw vague images because you had nothing to associate it with. In ME2 you saw a still frame with a collector because you had recently seen one and it was fresh in your mind allowing you to spot it much easier. It’s kinda like a kid with a scary branch out side their window. As they grow up they realize that “oh that’s just a branch that was stupid thing to be scared of.” And so move on from their fears having learned to better associate.

        DA BWAIN WERK FUNNY HAHA. WED WUNZ GO FASTA.

        God I hope Gork and Mork aren’t reapers. Though that would be funny.

        • Raygereio says:

          Beacon vision in ME2:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJdQXiVWTAo

          I’ve watched it again and you’re right; the picture of the collector drone isn’t another art style just clearer, I remembered that wrong.

          But I’ve heard people claiming that that vision explained things, I seriously think those people are either stoned or are watching something else as that vision still doesn’t make any sense to me.
          Just like I still don’t know how anyone can get ‘Organics being attacked by synthetics’ from it, like Shepard did in ME1.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      Besides a few comments on the outlines I think it’s a bit unfair to accuse people of being angry. Personally I disagree with how you see the problems in the plot and agree with a few of the – in my opinion at least – reasonable and convincing people here. I’m not going to dismiss your analysis of the plot as unconvincing angry ranting though; that’s just rude. After all you do bring up good points, especially on the earlier post regarding TIM and Cerberus.

      I think there’s a big gap between the point as brought up by some of the people in the comments and the sort of fanon wanking you get in other series where people hypothesize about things that are never mentioned to explain away discrepancies.

      I’m not trying to say this is an expertly crafted flawless trilogy, I just think the flaws might not be quite as deep as you make them out to be. Frankly the posts and the comments have made me reconsider my opinions a number of times and that seems like a good thing, so I can’t really complain eitherway.

  36. ClearWater says:

    After reading part 1 and part 2, not having played either game, I have developed the theory that ME2 is just a dream and ME3 will start with Shepard waking up and finding things are just as they were at the end of ME1.

    In my opinion, I mean, and I’m probably totally wrong.

  37. Roll-a-die says:

    Was more wondering when the witty comments stopped changing. I’m thinking 150.

    Also just for some code facts does it calculate every time a page is loaded? Or is it a variable that is updated on the fly as comments roll in?

    Also what language is your primary language? I’m learning Ruby for fun this year.

  38. Spider Dave says:

    One thing I’d like to point out is regarding the number of disappearances. Hundreds of thousands of people… it’s just really not that many. Let’s say you take Seattle. It’s population is about 600,000. Seattle goes poof without a trace, the world is in uproar.

    Now let’s say not only is the Earth’s population double what it currently is, but we have colonies all over the galaxy full of billions of people. So, the citizens of Seattle don’t like the government situation. They decide to go colonize the Terminus systems. Mind, these are the terminus systems; everyone said they are crazy for going, who knows what goes on out there. Of course, if all of Seattle settled on one planet, and disappeared at once, we might have something to talk about back on earth. But no. They colonized many planets and disappeared relatively slowly over the course of two years.

    So that puts it into a little more perspective, I think. Also, I would like to point out that the colonists were “humans looking to get away from the Citadel and the Alliance.”(1) So people who wanted out of the Alliance? Would the Alliance help them? Would they even want the help?

    (1)http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Terminus_Systems

  39. Raygereio says:

    You know? I’m surprised no one mentioned the most ridiculous thing in ME2 yet (well, at least in my humble opinion).
    Unless I’m seriously reading those codecentries wrong, some of the planets you probe and mine for recources are colonized/inhabited.

    Think about that for a second.

    • fscan says:

      hmm .. one example?

      • Raygereio says:

        Minos Wasteland – Caestus – Invictus: a colony with a population with over 320 million.
        Now assuming Shepard isn’t such a huge prick that he’s going around flinging probes at people’s heads, but instead launching them at uninhabited regions; stealing people’s recourses is still kind of a jerk-move.

        There are also a lot of mining colonies of probeable (is that a word?) planets. For instance Crecent Nebula – Lusarn – Euntanta; it may have a population of just 230, but stealing their livelihood is again a jerk-move.

        And heck; even if you just mine uninhabited planets. You’d think someone would have allready claimed those planets. Imagin their surpised when a Asari mining fleet comes along, only to find a depleted planet with a note saying “Had to steal your stuff to fight the Reapers. I’m Sorry. Shepard.”

        • fscan says:

          hehe .. that begs the questions: where do we store all this minerals? why are there even mining colonies if all you have to do is send a probe down there?
          You could say you just pick up small deposits on the surface, not commercially interesting, but after all it’s just a game :)

  40. KremlinLaptop says:

    Actually can I point out something that annoys me more than anything else that has been mentioned by anyone? The headgear on my companions. Especially Jack and Miranda. While me and whoever are wearing a full-face helmet that looks sealed to the armour suit with its own positive atmopshere they are busy gallivanting around with masks that only cover the mouth and nose.

    Now I’m no scientist or doctor, but something tells me that in a toxic atmosphere… this might not work.

    • Spider Dave says:

      That part was especially fun during the times when you’re exposed to the vacuum of space. Ugh.

    • acronix says:

      It bothered me too, but I handwaved it. I was more concerned about the fact that Garrus goes around with a broken armor. And I was even more concerned about the fact that his alternate armor is another broken armor. *sigh*

      • KremlinLaptop says:

        That was extra annoying. I know it’s pedantic, nitpicky and paying more attention to it than is warranted but it really bothered me. Especially since it’s obviously not just some slapdash paint he sprayed on there, it’s like he had had the same armour painted a different way without getting it repaired.

        Some messy war-paint sort of deal would’ve been far better, though more fitting of Grunt.

        Though seeing the damage to Garrus’ armour I did sort of wish my armour would show signs of battle over time.

  41. fscan says:

    @shamus
    About the new posts in old thread issues … could you not just sort the thread (root posts) after the date of the newest post in a sub thread?

  42. Kdansky says:

    I will repeat my statement again: Mass Effect was never planned as a trilogy. If it were, not even George Lucas could screw up the story this badly.

    People defendinding the plot of ME2 will look back at what they write now in ten years time (when they are 24) and realize how inane and childish they were, not wanting to believe how bad ME2′s plot really was. Pure denial.

    • Dude, where’s all that anger coming from?
      At least me and Shamus despite disagreeing on ME2, at least do not go calling people something.

      I take the word of the heads of BioWare that it was planned as a trilogy, over your claim that it’s not, unless you by any chance are one of the writers that worked on ME1 that is.

      Shamus and I will either be proven wrong or right once Mass Effect 3 is finished and released and we’ve played through it.

      With skilled writing a lot of the things in ME2 can be explained in ME3, a lot of plot issues in ME2 can also be fixed in ME3 with good writing, but not everything can be fixed.

      I can’t form a opinion on the story of either ME1 or ME2 until the trilogy is complete, if there is stuff left unanswered in ME1, ME2 and ME3 at the end of ME3 after doing most sidequests, then that is bad writing, simple as that.

      What is very interesting though is that Shamus is reviewing ME2 more like somebody who picked up only ME2 might view the game, in that case I agree with his view.

      In fact I’m in denial about that whole thing and wish BioWare had made ME2 a true sequel in you HAD to have ME1 and installed ME2 on top of ME1 if you know what I mean, or alternatively ME1 included as a part of ME2. That would obviously mean that ME3 would include ME2 and ME1.
      And you’d be able to consistently continue (end of ME1 would blend directly into Act II etc.)

      Sadly BioWare did not do that. Maybe ME 4,5,6 could do that though?

      One thing that also annoys me is that the novels are needed to fill in a lot of blanks. I admit it’s clever of BioWare to do this, but it makes something like ME2 unable to stand on it’s own. And I’m worried about this for ME3, if they try to make ME3 playable to people that have not played Mass effect at all before it’s going to even more weird plotwise to them in ME3.

      • Emma J says:

        The only problem I see with the seamless sequel thing is people in a situation like me; I had the original Mass Effect for the computer. However, my computer became outdated by the time Mass Effect 2 came around and wouldn’t run on it, and by that point I’d caved and bought my 360, so I ended up using the 360 instead and couldn’t transfer my files (or maybe I could, but I didn’t really look up how to do it and I wasn’t concerned enough about transferring my character because I really wanted to toy with a new character anyways). If I’d have to buy the original Mass Effect and play through the whole thing again just to play Mass Effect 2, I probably would have been annoyed.

        Or not, because I really did love the original, hehe, and I bet it would have ran a lot better on the 360 than it did on my computer (had this terrible problem with the timed mission on the mako near the end of the game, had to look up and figured out I needed to pretty much kill the high graphics entirely to BARELY make it under the time limit).

  43. N Cowan says:

    @Raygereio

    I agree with this completely. It does seem strange to go around lobbing probes at planets that may or may not be claimed, colonized, or what have you. I just tell my self that EDI has already sorted out exactly which mineral deposits are within our rights to capture, and that perhaps as Cerberus, some of those colonies may already have contracts with the Illusive Man. Works for me anyway.

  44. N Cowan says:

    @Kdansky

    I’ll have to assume your being sarcastic, since Bioware has stated several times since the beginning of the project that ME was a planned trilogy.

    I also find your second comment a little offensive. I’m 30 years old and greatly enjoy the plot in both games thus far as well as the overarching plot. There are certain things I’d have done differently, but when I’m playing the game I find myself immersed in the greatest form of escapism since the invention of the book.

    To each their own though.

    • acronix says:

      A planned trilogy doesn´t imply that the specifics of each game plot were alredy made. It just mean they wanted to make a trilogy. It´s the difference between “We want to make 3 games” and “We alredy have the plot for 3 games”. It is a matter of interpretation, tough.

      • Shamus says:

        That’s a really good point.

        And it may be at the root of a lot of my frustrations. I’m pretty sure I heard the “planned trilogy” and made that same assumption: “Planned Trilogy” must mean “Planned Story”. I expected this game to flow seamlessly from its predecessor, which is why I was irritated by the 5 minute mark when the seams started showing.

        • fscan says:

          You said it yourself .. in this business you have to be prepared to go out of business every moment .. would have been a shame if they had all this open plot points in the first game and then there was no conclusion. Thanks to the success of me1 they could be realtively sure there will be a 3rd game.

        • I’m confident the plot was planned, just not how to tell it.
          They also changed a lot based on feedback. If they where to fully flesh out the story it would have taken 3 years for the head writer (same guy as the one writing the novels) and BioWare would be twiddling their thumbs.

          From a design standpoint it makes more sense to plan the plots, then flesh out the story while developing. i.e. Omega station could be built based on plot keywords while the writer flesh out motives and what not. Sidequests can be added with no ties to plot etc. (and just dialog tweaked later etc.)

          One issue is player feedback, I’m not so sure that Jack was originally planned. Same with Tali or Garrus romance possibility, that was added after player feedback and so on.

          I’d love to read a Post-Morten article on Gamasutra by BioWare after this trilogy is complete as I’m sure there is a ton of stuff BioWare wish they’d done differently.
          No games have carried over a save game htis way before or continued a RPG story this way before.

          The closest I can think of is KoTOR and KoTOR2, you had like maybe 3-4 dialog choices, they did not really matter much as you played a completely different main character and new team members mostly.

          It looks like the start and end of each ME game is fixed to that trilogy plot arc, then between the start/end points of each game you have this crisscross of sidequests, main plot deviations and whatnot, the save game carries the choices over to the next game,
          and in ME2 they use far less of these than I expected, does this mean that more ME1 choices will be used in ME3 for example? No idea!

          Imagine if it was a racing game, the main plot points are checkpoints, as long as you make those checkpoints in the right order you can drive to hem in any way you want, pause at a nearby town or not, it’s all up to you.

          I wonder how i.e. Lord of The The Rings would be if you dropped the middle movie? The main quest (the ring) would still work fine, but you would loose out on so much of the world the journey goes through.

          Or if you chopped out the middle of an entire TV series, it would still work but you wold miss out on stuff.

          Which is why I again hate that BioWare caters to first timers in ME2, it’s like starting to see a TV series in the middle of the series, something just seems off.

      • Sean Riley says:

        That’s semantics. You could as easily argue that “Planned trilogy” means they had the trilogy planned out, and I think that’s what most people would argue it means. Either way, it doesn’t excuse the shoddy job on story done here.

      • neothoron says:

        When you point that, it makes Bioware look quite good – in comparison to games that want to have a sequel end on a cliffhanger which consequently never gets resolved because there is never any sequel.

        As for the story thing, there are some things that make me think that there are some rough lines that were thought out beforehand.
        -The planet near which the dead Reaper is found is visitable in ME1 and the description says:[The Rift] does not appear to be natural. The geological record suggests it is the result of a “glancing blow” by a mass accelerator round of unimaginable destructive power. This occurred some thirty-seven million years ago. So, that is at least one thread that was planted well in advance, in plain view.
        -The Husks, that were lampooned in Spoiler Alert – Mass Effect – Part 1 as being irrelevant to the plot, make a daring return in Mass Effect 2 – when I saw them again, I thought “Argh! Chekhov’s army!”

  45. N Cowan says:

    Bioware did state in earlier interviews that the story arc for the trilogy was already written. As there have been some changes in the writing department, i’m sure some of the story has been reworked.

    • Sean Riley says:

      And they may well have been lying. The evidence, which Shamus has well discussed, suggests that was a flat out lie.

      Really, this game looks as though they wrote the NPCs first, and then the plot afterwards.

      Edit: OK, reworked. Maybe. Reworked into the ground, perhaps.

      • Danel says:

        The disagreement here is to what degree they had it planned, and there’s no reason to assume they’re lying. There’s a wide range of what such things can be like, ranging from “Every major and minor event in the entire trilogy planned before we started” to “Well, we’ll chuck in a couple of potential hooks that we could use if the first one’s popular enough”. Mass Effect seems to be somewhere in the middle, with it seeming more like they had a rough plan of the overall trilogy about a Space Marine saving the galaxy from a terrible threat. Part One, the seeming threat is revealed to be merely the pawns of something far greater. In part two, that real threat makes another attempt through another middleman. In part three, they finally attack in person.

        Clearly, they didn’t have the Collectors planned out when they were making Mass Effect 1. But I do think they always meant for Shepard to work (in some capacity) with Cerberus, though possibly to a lesser extent than it eventually worked out, and they never completely finished that seeding subplot in ME1.

  46. neothoron says:

    I have just come to the realization that the Collectors being organic is in fact more coherent with what we know about the Reapers than Shamus says.

    Let’s think of what kind of servants Sovereign has in Mass Effect 1:
    -Geth
    -Husks
    -Indoctrinated beings
    -Mad Cyborg (derived from Saren’s cybernetic implants, under Sovereign’s direct control)

    That makes three examples of Reaper-engineered servants that are, in fact, organics repurposed to serve the Reapers. The only Reaper servants that do not have an organic origin are the geth – and they are not Reaper technology.

    My conclusion is that the Collectors’ origin and affiliation with Reapers is in fact consistent with what we know of Reaper technology and servants – repurposed organics, first indoctrinated, and, after indoctrination made their minds useless, implanted with cybernetic implants that permit direct control by a Reaper.

    On a related subject, the despise that Sovereign had for all organic beings applies in my opinion to the geth – Sovereign felt insulted by his geths’ idea that eventually they would ascend and become Reaper-like: Sovereign despised all sentient beings, not just the organic ones.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      As a matter of fact the first thing I thought about when I saw one of the collectors being possessed was something along the lines “this energy bursting from inside… Hey, isn’t that kinda a little bit like what happened to Saren after he offed himself (in my playthrough) for the first time?” I do believe Bioware will give us some twist about the Reapers, perhaps even some actual reason behind their actions (though I assume it won’t be reason enough for us).

  47. Zekspir says:

    Been playing games for a looong, loooong time now, but I`m still a sucker for anything even remotely “space-y”. Plus, my obsesive – compulsive behavior makes me explore every nook of a game I like (thank God I didn`t get hooked on them “achievement” thingies, else I`d been doomed).

    As such, it`s been easier for me to digest the ME2 story. I do agree there are some plot holes and I have some plot holes of my own to share, but overall it was not as bad as I feared.

    The main feeling it left me with, is that ME2 is not as much of a real advance in the story, but more of a parallel branching arc. Also, more a movie than a game.

    I read most of the comments before posting, and I do remember a discution concerning whether “planned as a trilogy” does imply “existing story for all three written before hand”. I do seem to recall some Bioware interviews from the time ME1 was launched that left me with the impression they actually had a story for all the three parts. Also, knowing Bioware and their previous games, I tend to believe it`s a real memory and not wishful thinking from my part.

    As “reboots” go, it wasn`t that bad. Heck, I`ve been “amnesiac” so many times I lost count of them. IF you can fool your rational side of the brain into accepting that a human body, after being exposed to vacuum and subsequent atmospheric immolation can be (almost) fully restored, the rest is piece of cake. Oh, and don`t get me started on the “does he retain his memories and personality” bit. But then again, after all, this is the future and the “cybernetic” implant thingies were used, so … meh, I let it slide.

    The issue with joining Cerberus is however a more delicate one. I had the same problem with Dragon Age recently, so it`s more of a forced conscription rather than a real decision from my part. In this case, there are 2 choices – keep playing and deal with the nagging feeling or leave the game alone and go play something else.

    I do realize this brings forward an issue, regarding the way the storyteller draws you in. A forced decision upon the player, in all truth. I even tried all the dialogue options, just to try and find a justification for this (almost every time before the meeting with TIM), but they all sounded … well … empty. Can`t find a better way to describe it.

    They did try to sweeten the pill – the talks you have with the squad members, their reactions in certain locations (for instance take Miranda and Jack to the abandoned research facility that Jack wants to nuke) – and present a more “humane” Cerberus. At some point Miranda will speak about the experiments Cerberus ran (biotics, rachni and so on – the “assignments” from ME1 ) as being done in order to create/discover ways to protect humanity against threats.

    I for one, I`m ok with it. I realize most will not, since they do not approve of having to fill in the blanks or play the game in a certain way to discover the “whole” story. Then again, I played Anachronox and tons of “cut” games, where an incomplete story both lets you dream and makes you scream in frustration of not being able to actually “know”.

    Same with Dr. Chakhwas (spelling ?), at some point in your talks will reveal that the real motive she joined Cerberus is Joker and his condition.

    I can live with the Proteans being used as plan C and basicaly as a biological robot. The Reapers did create/modify the Keepers to perform specific functions, so another or more civilizations modified in order to serve another specific purpose is not hard to sell. Even Sovereign hints at this in ME1. Although breeding baby Reapers does sound a bit off. But hey, I got over “the dead and resurrected” part, so … .
    I guess a Reaper`s gotta do what a Reaper`s gotta do.

    The human abductions and the Alliance not interfering, is acceptable and within the bounds set by the previous game. The Terminus Systems were kinda the “no man`s land meets the Bermuda Triangle” of the Milky Way, the Alliance more or less the U.N of the future, so it`s understandable.

    More or less every bit of lore is true within the confines set by ME1. The husks, the geth, the Reapers and so on. I do feel it`s not exactly overturning the known fact, it`s more of an evolution, of new discoveries.

    What I can`t understand is the way some of the former companions react towards Shepard. In just 2 years, you have Kaidan/Ashley lose all trust and former romantic interest (depending on gender and previous choice) that is colder than Alaska in mid-winter.

    I said at the beginning at the post, that ME2 felt more like a movie than a game. First, it does have a more cinematic feeling to it. Secondly, I could not help myself but make a parallel with the Matrix Trilogy. I`m not talking about similarities in the story, but the way the story is/was told. Like the second Matrix, ME2 brought up more questions and loose ends, with a not quite so powerful hero as before. Hopefully, unlike the trilogy`s finale, I do hope ME3 will tie them up.

    I started playing ME1 as an RPG. Found out it was RPG-ish. Got diluted in ME2. Played it for the story, I just hope it won`t turn into a Mass Effect Tournament.

    All being said, it`s a matter of perspective. What makes me tick is bound to blow someone`s head off. I can accept a story hidden in small bits of conversation, I enjoy when information is revealed through exploration … I finished System Shock (both) more than one time so far, so maybe all those randomly scattered logs had an effect on me.

    • The Doctor thing yeah, it’s a shame these games basically need to be fully explored in sidequests and dialog, heck peobably need to play through wit different choices just to get a different point of view.
      And I’m yet to see Legion do the robot dance. (never though of just standing there “staring” at folks really.

      As to the cold shulder from Liara and asheley/Kaiden (Kaidan?)
      it seems like the writers decided to put them in the backsite during ME2 to allow exposition for you new team. Seeing Garrus and Tali return was kickass though, and I must say that not romancing anyone in ME1 and go for Tali in ME2 actually makes for the most natural “relationship” path in ME1+ME2, you saved her in ME1 in that alley, you helped her complete her pilgrimage in ME1, you defeated Saren and survived (would impress any girl I hope), the in ME2 you save her ass again and help her mission, then later you run into her again and save her ass again (damn unlucky girl that), then you help defend her in her trial and (SPOILER) if you choose to keep the evidence you find secret she truly begins to see you in a different light, then after a lot of dialog (throughout the game) and choices on the ship the relationship evolve.

      Unlike Liara which seems just odd, she has a mega crush on you from the first moment almost, then a slight kiss and super old in ME2.
      If new squadmates are introduced in ME3 this will get eve worse.

      I hope as somebody else mentioned that in ME3 you meet up with your ME1 and ME2 friends and go on a quest to unite the alien races against the reapers. (and thus allowing you to further relationships with your friends or existing romantic interest)

      • acronix says:

        Unite the alien races against the reapers sounds good, but I hope they don´t do it. It wouldn´t help Bioware´s case about reusing the same main plot in half their games.

        • krellen says:

          A nice twist would be taking the sum total of your actions in the previous two games and using that to determine whether you’ve got the support of X race, rather than the typical “go do a quest for us and then we’ll help thing.”

          So if you screwed things up and made humans stand alone without making sure they were strong enough to do so, you’d have a much tougher time of it.

  48. Sean Riley says:

    As a side note, I want to add…

    Mass Effect 2 is an RPG. Really.

    It’s still got character customisation options. You can still play an Engineer and max her out in multiple different ways.

    It’s got personality options. And y’know what? The moral decisions this time are actually harder. I thought for minutes about whether to rush off after the crew once the Collector’s took them… or to finish my preparations and get everyone loyal. And I chose the latter.

    There are many, many improvements this time around. And calling it a pure shooter is absurd. It’s a shooter-RPG hybrid and, in many, many ways, it’s what I’ve wanted RPGs to do for a long time. This is an RPG that gets rid of most of the stupid random numbers, where a shot to the head is a shot to the head. Where a sword plunged through a foe isn’t going to be 12 damage and he’s fine. Let me make this clear: Random numbers are a relic of tabletop games, and have no business in a videogame. None. Let’s can them like the historical artifact they are. Mass Effect 2 does this, and I’m really, really happy about that.

    I just wish the story weren’t so damned stupid.

    • It’s a space opera what ya expect :P

      And I agree the choices can be damn hard, I see you mention you worked on loyalty before going after the abducted crew.
      I assume that you lost half the crew + the doctor + Kelly? (sucks for those that romance Kelly I guess)

      I’m gonna do a true spoiler this time so, let’s see if these spoiler tags work, it is possible to save all the crew and the doctor and Kelly but…
      SPOILER
      to do that you have to start the IFF quest last, so when you get that quest leave it, complete everything else including loyalty etc, all upgrades to the ship and squad members etc. And during the collector base attack you need to use the right people for the right job. As soon as you start the IFF mission, at it’s completion you get Legion, you have enough time to talk your ears off with him then do his loyalty quest, talk to crew again, then the next destination you try to go to will trigger the abduction attack. Once that happens you have to be like “I have to rescue my crew” but you do not have to fly through the relay just yet, talk one last time with your friends, an the final part of any romance plots should be available here if you exhausted dialog trees earlier. Oh and once you are done saving or destroying the collector base, you’ll get a intercom in your room that you can use to call your love interest if you decided to cheat on your ME1 LI. Also, Legion will most likely have more Quarian, Geth and Reaper revelations in his dialog due to you hardly having enough time to talk to him between loyalty quest and the crew abduction…
      END SPOILER
      this game is freaky complex at times I tell ya.

      PS! Shamus, the “s” tag does not work, only the “strike” tag works as a spoiler tag, might want to edit the tag description to state that.

    • krellen says:

      I disagree. I don’t want twitch in my RPGs, and I think twitch makes something less of an RPG.

      Fallout managed to do away with most of the “stupidness” of the random numbers, and a shot to the head was still a shot to the head (though it needed a graphics upgrade so it didn’t blow a hole in the chest of folks whose heads you blew off) and managed to do it without me having to be able to aim perfectly or time my duck-and-cover perfectly to do it.

      If two people can have the exact same Shepard and have vastly different results from combat because of personal shooter gaming skill (which, note, does not mean one is a better gamer, just better at shooters), the game has become less of an RPG than other RPGs, because the same Shepard is performing in vastly different ways.

      I’m not saying this makes it a worse game. Just a worse RPG.

      And to be even more clear: Video Games are not all Shooters. Being good at shooters does not make you a better gamer. Quick response times and good hand-eye coordination does not give you more right to enjoyment and entertainment from the video game genre.

      There is absolutely no reason why video games cannot incorporate random numbers, player skill, simulated fiat or any other method of conflict resolution on the planet. They’re quite flexible and diverse, capable of a great many things more than aiming cross-hairs and pulling triggers.

      I’m really sick of people that like shooters trying to lay claim to the entirety of video games. People that don’t like shooters don’t go around trying to make Halo, Gears of War, or Half-Life 2 into something else. Leave our shit alone.

      • fscan says:

        oh come on … there are not many shooter/rpg games, mass effect happens to be one of them and some people happen to enjoy this. if you don’t like this genre, don’t play the game.
        it’s not like bioware released a gigantic full blown classic rpg half a year ago ..

        • krellen says:

          They also released an epic RPG with light shooter elements two years ago called “Mass Effect”, which I loved. And now, because of the shooter crowd, it’s grown even more shooter, and less RPG.

          It’s not like there aren’t shooters with stories out there. Valve even makes ones with good stories.

          You want a good shooter with good story, dialogue, and flexible choices, that’s fine. But note: story, dialogue and choices are not the defining factors of an RPG. They can fit in any game – Blizzard’s incorporating them into an RTS, I hear.

      • Sean Riley says:

        Well, fair enough. My definition of a role-playing game is one in which you get to build a role — power customisation options, character customisation, and above all being able to select dialogue. (Which ME2 fits on all points.) But if your definition of RPG is one which is based around random number rolls for combat, etc. then, well, sure. Mass Effect 2 is not an RPG.

        But if that is a requirement for being an RPG? Then I personally am willing to run screaming from it. You may disagree, of course.

        I love tabletop role-playing and run it whenever I can. I like to hope I’m a decent GM, and that players enjoy my Unknown Armies games. (Which is what we mostly play.) But I don’t think there’s any reason to bring what are frankly clunkier, more difficult mechanics across to computers when we have more direct and straightforward ways to simulate the same thing.

    • Blackbird71 says:

      Is combat in the game primarily based on the skills of the character, or the skills of the player? I ask because moral decisions and personality options are only half of role-playing. The other half is resolving combat and other obstacles using the skills of the character (you know, the character whose role you are supposed to be playing throughout the game, not just during the “talky bits”).

      When success in combat is rooted in the reflexes and skills of the real person behind the controls, then you’ve set the role aside and stepped into the game first-person (by mode of participation, not the view perspective). It may be fun, it may make a good game, but it’s no longer a true role-playing game. Good story and dialog options alone do not an RPG make.

  49. Dodds says:

    You had to pick the Picture of Shepard containing spoilers, didn’t you? So, who’s the new Geth teammate?

    Ah, Never Mind. I’ll read through the article when I’ve actually bought the game.

  50. Corsair says:

    The Collectors were noted in Mass Effect 1, to be fair, I believe in the Codex entry regarding Omega.

    And as for the Reapers showing interest in Organics, that’s been their M.O. from day 1 – if they didn’t care about Organics, they wouldn’t bother with them, they’d just have glassed every planet in the galaxy the last time they were around.

  51. Joush says:

    Just in case someone had said so and I missed it, Collectors -are- mentioned in the first game. They have a codex entry and everything. It paints them as mysterious insectoids that emerge from a otherwise inaccessible relay, trade for crazy stuff, then leave. They are “collecting” biological samples, so they get called Collectors.

    I think a big problem you have with this is that it feels like it’s supposed to be a major confrontation with the Reapers.. and what you are facing is one random backup plan being run by a Reaper that is barely awake hovering in Dark Space or some other area with a quarantine entanglement link to the Collector Base in the galactic core. Harbinger -never shows up- in this game. All we fight is a rather pathetic catspaw in the form of the Collectors, organic minions the Reapers hate anyway.

    Yeah, the idea that Reaper construction requires millions of warm bodies is pretty messed up, but at least helps justify why the Reapers need to reap at all.

    Pretty much all your protest were covered in Mass Effect 1. The Reapers need to harvest organic civilizations for some reason, now we know why. The Reapers hate organics, but are happy to twist them into pawns as we see with the Keepers. The Terminus Systems and Attaca Travers are often attacked by slavers, raiders, evil corporations willing to let a colony get eaten by hostile aliens just to see what happens, and now when people disperse from colonies that are beyond Alliance and Citadel space anyway, they don’t jump to the conclusion it’s anything but a bad couple of years. Especially when fleets are half smashed and power is being consolidated.

    • Cezar says:

      The vision you get in Mass Effect 1 shows mechanical elements binding with organic material, forming something new, then ending with a picture of a collector. That’s kind of a hint about what the collectors are (even if it’s very “blurry” to say the least).

      For me, finding out that the Collectors were actually Proteans kinda confirmed what I thought about that weird vision. So…if you’d close an eye…you could say you had half of an explanation about the collectors…but it is a bit shaky.

      Edit: How did this blog know how to get my avatar O.O!

    • krellen says:

      Where? I unlocked all the codex entries for alien species – there’s an achievement for that, so I know – and I didn’t see when I checked for any entries about Collectors in ME1 last night.

    • Avilan the Grey says:

      “For some reason”? It is pretty clear that what the Reapers do is to identify the most powerful / genetically special civilization every 50000 years and *harvest the entire civilization* to make babies.
      The Harbinger even spits a line out “It is your salvation through eradication” or something to that effect; the idea is that they give you “salvation” by picking you apart and reassemble you as part of a Human Reaper and that way giving you a chance to “live on” while they kill every other civilized species in the galaxy.

  52. Knight-Templar says:

    I don’t fully agree with what you are saying, but I understand why you see things as you do and it seems to be a matter of how much you are willing to belive happens off-screen and simple interpretation.

    You have the right parts, you just make a diffrent picture than me.

    Some very good calls on plot holes by the way, you’ve totalt ruined my next playthrough but its a small price to pay.

  53. Jeff says:

    Y’know, Shepard throughout the game is pointed out to be a leader, not just a professional soldier. And the Mass Effect series was always billed as Shepard’s story.

  54. RK says:

    To the article writer: It’s pretty clear that you either didn’t actually PLAY either game, or just weren’t paying attention.

  55. Draconis Ravenus says:

    I’m just not seeing it. I’m an English major, I gravitate towards things that are strong in story (LotR), and I despise things that lack it (Eragon).

    For the life of me, I just can’t see your point of view, Shamus. My initial impression after reading each of these is “Wow, this guy doesn’t like Mass Effect, and he’s spending an awful lot of time trying to convince me that I shouldn’t like it, either.”

    This thread is again way too long for me to read each and every item in, but aside from one or two points you make that might have some relevance, your whole diatribe just strikes me as… whiny.

    I thought the story was great. The couple of things they don’t explicitly mention in detail can be easily explained in any variety of manner. For instance, you don’t understand why the Collectors are using organics, which is something they were so against in ME1. Well, the Keepers were modified organics from ME1, as several people stated, and so are the Collectors… they clearly state that they are modified Protheans, and for Harbinger to ‘download’ himself into them, I’d imagine they’d need to be at least 75-80% technology.

    I don’t mean to judge harshly, but I do wonder… why do you play Mass Effect? I don’t get the impression you liked the first game, and nothing you’ve written leads me to believe you enjoyed ME2 at all, despite your bar graph showing just a few red spots. Come to think of it, other than one article where you apologized for coming off as not liking Bioware, I’d say 90% of your Bioware writings are very decidedly Anti-Bioware. If you don’t like them, fine, but what’s the point of saying “I love Bioware… but these 1,500 little things really annoy me.”

    I hate Harry Potter. You won’t see me writing 15 page articles on why Harry Potter sucks. It’s a waste of my time. At the very least, it would be helpful to see more written on the things you DO like. A lot of people that haven’t played this game are probably getting the entirely wrong impression of it because you’re spending 10 minutes focused on how Mordin could have gotten his hands on a collector bug, which comprises 10 seconds of a ginormous game.

    This project seems less “Plot Analysis” and more “Plot Griping”. Give us something positive in the next few installments, wouldja?

    • Shamus says:

      And I don’t know where you’re getting the whole “plot griping” thing. In every single post I’ve gone out of my way to say I liked the game. You’re basically saying I should talk about something besides the main plot in my series on the main plot, just so I can… what? Not hurt people’s feelings?

      (Gah. I edited this comment, then refreshed to see Draconis had replied to some of the stuff I cut. My bad.)

      • Draconis Ravenus says:

        It’s all good; the internet is one part friend, one part foe.

        I guess I understand more where you’re coming from in how you’re organizing your analysis. My original assumption was that you’d be mixing up the pro’s and con’s together in one batch, but then all I was seeing was a checklist of things that were mishandled or poorly implemented. Yes, you mentioned you liked everything in between, but your core focus was definitely towards the negative aspects, which just threw me. So yea, I jumped the gun thinking you simply didn’t have much nice to say about it. Bioware Defense Force, Ho! d’oh!

        Somebody mentioned how cool it would be after the trilogy is done for Bioware to talk candidly about how they went about the process, the inner workings of it, etc., and I’d second that.

        Given the whole “interactive-storytelling-over-several-game-iterations” is a very new concept, at least on the level Bioware has taken it to, I’m ok with and sort of expect something of a tradeoff regarding continuity. I still believe in the big scheme of the game, most of the things you’ve pointed out are minor enough to overlook or up to each individual’s interpretation (I’m completely ok with the Cerberus angle), but I’ll also be the first to tell you that my love of Bioware over the years has reached the point where she asks “Don’t I look pretty?” and I can look right past the honker of a pimple she has on her nose and say “Yes, dear.” without blinking.

        Playing their games is like a hot cup of cocoa for me. Even if one of the 200 cups I drink is scalding hot and burns my taste buds, I still drink it and love it. Mmmm, coooooocoooooa.

  56. Slothful says:

    I always left bioware a little leeway before, but that screenshot cements it. Mass effect’s ENTIRE PLOT is ripped wholesale from the star control series. Everything from the one super-ship which you fight in the end of the first game, to the whole idea of there being Precursors who mysteriously went missing due to some extra-galactic near-omnipotent beings using our galaxy as a farm to grow sentient life that they later harvest in order to feast on our delicious sentient juices.

    They should have at least put some ship-to-ship combat in there. Leave some gameplay homage to Star Control BEYOND tedious resource collection.

  57. Gareth Fouche says:

    I think you may have been looking too hard for things to criticize Shamus.

    The Alliance not doing anything to help the attacked colonies : Rubbish.

    When you pitch up on that colony in the middle of the Collector attack you run into Ashley. Who is still working for the Alliance, who is on an Alliance mission to install defense towers on that colony even though the colonists don’t like the Alliance (We have to assume the colonists take the Collector threat seriously if they’re willing to let a MILITARY force from the people they dislike and distrust come to their planet and install military hardware).

    Defense towers which you then activate and they hit the Collector ship hard enough to force it to flee, damaging it enough to later be disabled by a Turian recon force.

    So, to recap, they install guns capable of driving off the ship which tore the Normandy to pieces in seconds on a remote frontier colony among people who hate them. I’m guessing those guns cost a fair penny. How does this translate into ‘the Alliance isn’t doing anything’?

    Space is vast. How exactly would you defend against random attacks on far flung colonies in frontier space? By mobilizing an army to chase a force that could pop out of nowhere? Or by installing defense systems on likely targets?

    This is a compulsory mission shoved in your face, not something that relies on scanning side-planets.

  58. [...] But then I read Twenty Sided’s three-part assault on the story. Here are the links: part one, part two, and part [...]

  59. tali says:

    or maybe the whole plot for ME2 was a just a big distraction as the reapers planned something else, probably another way to open the citadel mass relay. And maybe in ME3 the reapers will in fact open the citadel mass relay…

  60. Sydney says:

    An obscure branch of Vigil’s dialogue tree reveals that Sovereign was left in inter-cluster space (within the galaxy, but deep in the black) in hibernation; it would occasionally wake up, assess the situation, and when ready, bring in the rest of the Reapers.

    The Reapers failed to account for the Keepers’ evolution bringing them to a point where they could no longer be remotely commanded, which basically fucked up everything because Sovereign alone couldn’t take the massed fleets.

    If you’ll indulge me in some wild speculation:

    The Collectors were always Plan B, but they were never needed until now. As for why a “human” Reaper… D’you reckon there’s anything to the Illusive Man’s idea that the Reapers fear Shepard, and have come to think of humanity as “the guys who beat Sovereign”?

  61. JM says:

    Dude, send this to bioware. They should be aware of this sort of stuff, and have it in mind for future better-quality-than-mass-effect-2 videogames.

  62. Bender says:

    1. The Reapers using organics as agents isn’t out of character for them, I mean Sovereign was only using an organic throughout the entire first game! If reapers are really as against using organics as you make it seem than what the hell is the point of indoctrination? Not only that but Vigil clearly states that when the reapers invade the galaxy they use organic slaves, and that the keepers were likely the first organic race that the reapers enslaved and repurposed.
    2. The reason that the collectors were never mentioned in Mass Effect was because they were unnecessary, Sovereign was already using the Geth so there was no need for the collectors. Another reason is because the collectors were only the reapers plan B, why would they go to plan B when plan A was still going? They had no reason to believe that Sovereign would get destroyed.
    3. As for millions of more humans being needed to complete the human reaper, you have to understand the scale of the galaxy. The collectors would never have to even leave the Terminus system, on earth alone there are 7 billion people. That’s on a single planet, the Terminus system is at least 1/4 of the entire galaxy how many people do you think live there? Well over hundreds of billions.
    4. As for what the human reaper would’ve done you are only speculating they never specifically stated what the purpose of the human reaper was.

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