Mass Effect Retrospective 18: There’s No “You” in “Team”

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 15, 2015

Filed under: Mass Effect 298 comments

The last game gave us a pretty good team and also gave us the goal of “go learn about the Reapers”. Then this second one replaced it with “Your team is gone. Build another one.” Once you get over the shift in goalAssuming you ever do. My therapist says I’m making “good progress”. this is a good subject for a BioWare game, as it plays to their strengths in writing vibrant one-on-one conversations with interesting people. Okay, we’re gathering up a team of people even though we have no idea what we need them to do beyond “go through a relay”, but we’ll talk more about the main story later.

Team Building

When BioWare asked players what they wanted from Mass Effect 2, who was the smartass that told them 'I wish it was more like the Brady Bunch'?
When BioWare asked players what they wanted from Mass Effect 2, who was the smartass that told them 'I wish it was more like the Brady Bunch'?

The four Trek-like “episodes” of Mass Effect 1 have been replaced with shorter recruitment missions. Mordin, Jack, Garrus, Tali, Grunt, Legion, Thane, and Samara each get their own little recruitment story. And depending on what DLC you might own, you can also have Zaeed and Kasumi. You also get an optional loyalty mission where you can help these people out with their personal difficulties.

Note that this makes Mass Effect 2 a longer game. It also makes it more variable in length. You can do no loyalty missions and be done quickly, or you can do them all and have a very long game.

For each character on your team there’s a recruitment missionExcept for Miranda and Jacob, because they join your team in the tutorial. where they become a member of the crew and select a spot to live on the Normandy. Then at some point laterThe actual availability triggers are kind of complicated. they ask you for help. They have some personal problem that needs your attention, which involves accompanying them on a special mission. These loyalty missions are optional, although skipping it makes the final mission in the game harder. I’ll talk about the suicide mission later.

The dialog tends to shine in these character missions. Since the writer can be sure that Jacob will be on the team during Jacob’s loyalty mission, and since the mission is about him personally, they can give him lots of character development and dialog. This is in contrast to one of the late-game story missions where you might bring any two members of your twelve-person team, and so your companion dialog is rare and limited to shallow, single-line comments on the immediate surroundings or situation.

Since Mass Effect 2 puts the characters before the story, let’s discuss things in that order.


Does Mordin have a dialog wheel on that screen in front of him? I wish I had the option to ask him about it.
Does Mordin have a dialog wheel on that screen in front of him? I wish I had the option to ask him about it.

Smart and amusing, Mordin nearly saved this franchise for me. Here was a throwback to those fun, quirky companions I remember from KOTOR. He’s colorful, funny, and gives us a much-needed look into Salarian culture and customs.

His recruitment mission also feels like Classic BioWare. “I have a cure for a major disease but I’m having distribution problems” is right out of KOTOR.

I suppose it helps that his life’s work is deeply bound to one of the most interesting conundrums in the galaxy: The genophage is an atrocity that saved the galaxy. I’m not going to go over it again, since I discussed this at length earlier in the series, but it’s still a fantastic plot. There is no easy answer, but there are a lot of interesting viewpoints.


Just like old times, Shepard.
Just like old times, Shepard.

Yup, he’s back. Maybe they were laying the fanservice on a little thick when they had him become space-Batman in your absence, but… bah. It’s cool. At least it matches his character goals from the previous game.

One thing I really appreciated about Garrus was that the writer really tried to make the renegade choices more alluring during his loyalty mission.

While Shepard was dead, Garrus built a team of badasses to fight crime. That team was betrayed and murdered by a guy named Sidonis. If Shepard chooses to to help outBECAUSE OF COURSE SHEPARD HELPS HIM OUT, ARE YOU SOME KIND OF MONSTER? then you have to track Sidonis down and give Garrus his shot at revenge.

The game actually does a terrible job of making this clear, but the problem with Sidonis is that his crimes were perpetrated on Omega, and there’s no system to extradite him there. It’s like trying to have someone arrested in New York for a theft that took place in Antarctica. There’s really no way to do this “by the book” and have him thrown in jail, which would be the paragon choice.

So you can allow Garrus to assassinate a criminal, or you can let the criminal go. To do justice, you need to break the law. If you let Sidonis escape, then the game backs out at the end and the news reports that Sidonis turned himself in and the authorities are trying to decide what to do with him. This feels like a bit of a cop-out, but I guess the writers were afraid of offering the player a choice between “Do the satisfying thing and get renegade points” and “do something completely frustrating and unsatisfying for paragon points”. Although, the entire series is kind of notorious for screwing renegade players like this, so I’d argue it would only be fair.

Once again this reveals the cracks in the paragade system. The player must mix in-game and out-of-game concerns, “I can do the right thing here, but then I might not have enough Nice Guy Points to accomplish something really important later”.

Still, I like that the game presented a situation where renegade actions made sense, and were even tempting for a paragon.


It makes no sense to mix a character concept this dark and edgy with a physical appearance this wild and absurd. I don't care how much costume tape you use, those belts are not staying over her nipples.
It makes no sense to mix a character concept this dark and edgy with a physical appearance this wild and absurd. I don't care how much costume tape you use, those belts are not staying over her nipples.

Jack is a crazy biotic berzerker that we have to break out of prison. There’s nothing really wrong with her character designAside from her outfit, of course., but I’m usually really uncomfortable with Jack. It feels like I should be taking her to therapy, not on dangerous missions. She’s certainly not someone I’d choose for an important mission where people need to work together. And given that Cerberus tortured her as a child with their shitty science, she’s the last person in the world I’d choose for a Cerberus team.

Recruiting a powerful and psychotic Cerberus victim to work for Cerberus is beyond stupid. Is she really the only badass biotic in the galaxyNot remotely. In fact, we’ve got another one on our team already (Miranda) and yet another on our recruitment list. (Samara.)? Why would we go to so much trouble to recruit someone with such a massive grudge against our organization, when there are presumably less destructive options available?

There are two ways of looking at this:

  1. This is deliberate on the part of the writer. Yes, recruiting Jack is a dumb idea. This is on purpose, to highlight the staggering incompetence and shortsightedness of Cerberus. This is followed up by her loyalty mission, which underscores that on top of their incompetence they are also manifestly evil. And not charming evil like Darth Vader choking a dude for overcooking his hot pocket. More like disturbing “Nazi war crimes” evil. Of course, this just shows how preposterous and inappropriate it is to force the player to work with them. Therefore, the writer is incompetent.
  2. This is unintentional on the part of the writer. They couldn’t keep track of what Cerberus was from one scene to the next and didn’t realize that the idea of Jack being a Cerberus victim was totally at odds with her being on the recruitment list. Therefore, the writer is incompetent.

(I imagine the actual reason for this problem is “these two parts of the game were written by different people”. So it’s not really the work of one incompetent person, but the work of two different people who weren’t cooperating. Regardless of the cause, this is still a glaring problem with the story. Someone, somewhere along the line dropped the ball.)

We're here to chew gum and be traumatized by horrific medical research conducted on innocent children, and we're all out of gum.
We're here to chew gum and be traumatized by horrific medical research conducted on innocent children, and we're all out of gum.

But whatever. If all we’re trying to do is fill out the roster with colorful personalities and we don’t care if anything makes sense, then she gets the job done.

Her loyalty mission is what really sells the character for me. You take her back to the Cerberus lab where they killed and tortured children in their attempts to make a better biotic. They subjected young Jack to constant agonizing pain and narcotics in an attempt to supercharge her biotics. Then to test their work, they put her in fights with other children. Fights to the death.

It’s a ruin now, but for her it’s filled with the only kind of monsters capable of scaring her, which are the ones that come from inside her. It’s a dark, gut-wrenching process of watching her face her demons and struggle to find some closure in it all.

If the writer wanted to make Cerberus the least bit interesting they could have demonstrated that the scientists were actually onto something. If the audio logs showed a team gradually drawn down this dark road by the results of their study and against their better judgement, then this might make a sort of “ends justifying the means” thought experiment. This could then tie into TIM and Cerberus by asking the question, “How far would you go to save the entire human race?”

But no. The scientists are idiots and their research consists of coming up with new ways to torture children. They’re a bunch of amoral jackasses and in the end they’re killed by their own experiment. Given what we see in the game, they were wrong from the start and Jack would have been a powerful biotic no matter what kind of upbringing she had. In which case they took a powerful and gifted human being and wasted her talents by turning her into a monster.

It’s powerful and interesting, but it also drives home the point that Cerberus is a circus of stupidity and evil, and it makes no sense to be working for them. It’s one of the best moments of the game, and it makes the main plot look that much more idiotic in the process.


I joined Cerberus, planning to be as incompetent as possible to destroy them from within. But they don't seem to mind. I've sort of been zooming up through the ranks since they hired me. Turns out I've killed less Cerberus personnel than the company average.
I joined Cerberus, planning to be as incompetent as possible to destroy them from within. But they don't seem to mind. I've sort of been zooming up through the ranks since they hired me. Turns out I've killed less Cerberus personnel than the company average.

It’s a running joke on this site that nobody likes Jacob, like he’s some kind of pathetic Charlie Brown figure. Nobody remembers he exists, nobody ever goes into the armory, he never goes on missions, etc.

But jokes at his expense aside, I think Jacob serves an important role in the story, which is to provide contrast to the others. He’s the Aquaman of this game: His only real sin is that he’s not as cool as everyone else. He’s replacing the shared role of Kaidan and Ashley, who roughly represented the viewpoints of rank-and-file humans in general and Alliance personnel in particular. At the risk of getting myself branded as an Ashley Williams style space-racist, hanging out with Jacob in Mass Effect 2 is like going to the zoo to see a labrador retriever. Those are cool dogs, but that’s not why you go to the zoo. In the same way, we’re here to meet crazy aliens, and it’s unavoidable that Jacob will look a little bland in contrast.

The other important thing he does for the story is to give us the face of the only sane man working for Cerberus. TIM is batshit crazy, Miranda is an arrogant elitist, Yeoman Kelly is a manic freak, and basically everyone else was killed by lab experiments run amok. Without Jacob, the writer wouldn’t even have the fig-leaf excuse of, “Maybe Cerberus isn’t as crazy as you’ve heard.”

His backstory of “I left the Alliance to work for Cerberus because the Alliance couldn’t get things done” is desperately in need of details. He throws that line out and we’re supposed to just accept it as a hand-wave of all the horrible things we’ve heard (and maybe personally witnessed) regarding Cerberus so far, and a single line of dialog just isn’t enough to sell this. Jacob could have been used to give us a sort of, “There are two sides to every story” vibe. Maybe he could talk about some Cerberus ops that accomplished good things? Talk about the people he’s helped? Talk about some horrible event that resulted from Alliance indifferenceAside from the entire plot of this game.? But no.

In Mass Effect 1, Wrex has a personal story that builds up Saren as a powerful and scary guy, and another very personal story that explains how the genophage is destroying his people. Garrus has a story about a particularly nasty criminal that got away, and later we can help Garrus hunt him down. This allows us to experience his frustrations with C-sec instead of just taking his word for it that they’re sometimes ineffectual. Kaidan has a story of abuse at the hands of a Turian that fills in some details of our war with them. Liara has stories that show how much Saren had twisted her mother. Tali tells the story of the Geth and the Quarians.

The point is, these aren’t just personal stories; they also double as foundational elements of worldbuilding. They add detail to the world of Mass Effect 1. In contrast, Jacob’s story is just a story about Jacob, and it blows a vital opportunity to give us a viewpoint where it might seem reasonable to work for Cerberus. The writer passed on the perfect opportunity for some remedial worldbuilding to prop up a shaky premise and motivate a belligerent player.

This is not the last time they will make that mistake.



[1] Assuming you ever do. My therapist says I’m making “good progress”.

[2] Except for Miranda and Jacob, because they join your team in the tutorial.

[3] The actual availability triggers are kind of complicated.


[5] Aside from her outfit, of course.

[6] Not remotely. In fact, we’ve got another one on our team already (Miranda) and yet another on our recruitment list. (Samara.)

[7] Aside from the entire plot of this game.

From The Archives:

298 thoughts on “Mass Effect Retrospective 18: There’s No “You” in “Team”

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    One big problem with this team idea in me2 is that they wanted to have their cake and eat it too.They wanted to introduce a new team for you,which is fair.But then (I assume) they saw that some of these people were just too popular,so they decided to bring them back.Sometimes this (sort of) works,like with garrus.Other times,like with joker,their inclusion is rather wonky.

    1. Sartharina says:

      Joker’s fine. He was bribed to join Cerberus with “You get to fly the Normandy again. This time with REAL LEATHER SEATS!” That’s an offer he cannot refuse.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Unless he was a loyal person.Which he was shown to be.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          To be fair, he’d probably be loyal to Shepard, so they might have used that as an incentive (assuming they could get him to believe you were alive).

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Which is why it wouldve made much more sense for resurrected shepard to recruit him instead.

            1. mixmastermind says:

              But HOW WOULD SHEPARD GET THERE. He doesn’t have Joker.

      2. Orillion says:

        Except he explicitly mentions that he only heard about the new Normandy the morning before it was flying.

        There’s incompetent, and then there’s Bioware-incompetent.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          Joker’s joining of Cerberus could have been some real interesting shade to his character, had they bothered to actually flesh it out. What if with the Alliance he was grounded for political reasons (recall: his life is basically not worth living if he can’t fly) but Cerberus offered him the newest ships and best assignments. The temptation and giving into it would say a lot about his character, especially since his character arc is from angry cynic to a guy literally in LOVE with his spaceship.

          1. Joe Informatico says:

            What if Cerberus, because they don’t give a crap about ethical concerns in medical research, had a cure for Joker’s condition? And what if working for Cerberus was the price for that cure? That could have set up interesting parallels with Mordin (at what price science?) or dramatic conflict with Jack (my friends all died so you could walk again). But nah.

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              Now I’m picturing Jack’s personal quest involving finding out that they pitted her against other kids in fights to the death so that they could have some broken bones to work on fixing…with them needing her to be a powerful biotic to get the results they wanted in broken bones so they could work on that cure.

              *That* would be interesting, *and* help make Cerberus seem like that Renegade necessity the game wants you to believe they are. “Yes, killing kids in pit-fighting contests is not the type of good work people would want us to work on, but it’s our best chance of advancing humanity forward by giving those like Joker the chance to do more without researching directly on the people we want to advance!”

          2. Peter H. Coffin says:

            or even tweak it a little bit with some quick lines..

            TIM: “Here’s your ship, a rebuilt Normandy.”
            Shepherd: “Won’t be enough without Joker driving.”
            TIM: “…. Let me work on that.”

            (Next time you’re talking to TIM)

            TIM: “We got the pilot you wanted. Pick him up on $convenient_spot.”

            (tearful reunion)

            Joker: “I hate these guys, but dammit…. When they offered me a chance to fly this AND work with you again? It was hard, but I can set it aside.”

            1. Wide And Nerdy says:

              In the immediate context, tears and warmth from Joker would be powerful.

            2. Supahewok says:

              I think the point of having Joker and Chakwas come with the ship was to give it a small sense of familiarity at the beginning of your new adventure: they are the ONLY ME1 characters that you have when you first take command of the ship. Everybody else (Miranda, Jacob, Kelly, the chef, the engineers, even TIM) are brand new, and a lot of new information has been thrown at the player over the course of the first hour or two of the game. The devs probably thought that you should have some old faces around you to keep you from being overloaded, so Joker and Chakwas magically show up to keep the player grounded.

              The in-game explanation is still half-assed, but any solution for it that doesn’t include a solution for the previous problem is no solution at all.

              1. Muspel says:

                I also think it was the writer’s attempt to show the player that Cerberus wasn’t that bad. “See? These characters you like from the first game are willing to work with them, so why aren’t you?!”

                Obviously, it didn’t work, because everything else about Cerberus speaks to their incompetence and malice.

      3. Azel says:

        I’m late to the party but if that’s really the case, it’s reason enough to boot him out the second you’re on a planet with pilots to be recruited. Or hell, with ships back to, say, Earth in order to do your recruitment there. And that, no matter if you think working with Cerberus to be fine and dandy.

        Because that means the minute the Salarians tempt him with the Normandy 3, 20% cooler, he will turn. The minute the Asari offer him to helm the Destiny Ascension bis, he will turn. More to the point, the second a Reaper agent offers him to fly a cooler version of the Normandy 2 — and the Reapers can definitely make up one. Worst case, one volunteers to serve as the ship, Sovereign-style — he will turn.

    2. boota says:

      what’s wierd is that there would have been better ways to remove the old guard in order to introduce a new team. But it would depend on shepard not being killed and then resurrected to work for cerberus.

      Garrus is one of the heroes of the saren incident, he’d probably be picked up by turian brass as shepards mission turned more into a research mission, and shepards. Given the nature of the turians and their affinity to solve problems with military force it’s likely he’d be picked given the opportunity to put together his own team of crime fighters. maybe to work undercover in omega if the instability there was affecting turian economy. From there the story could essentially be the same with garrus being betrayed, having his archangel identityand whatever.

      Kaishley would probably be given the opportunity get really interesting jobs within the alliance (much in the same way as Garrus). Rather than stay on a research mission, Ashley would probably (finally) be assigned to a real commanding position and Kaiden could probably be assigned to command biotics. why not make Jack an adept of Kaiden? this would also explain why kaiden or ashley would be unavailable for most of the game.

      Tali going on with her pilgrimage is fine and fits well with her coming back to the normandy.

      Wrex going home to Tuchanka is also fine and explains why he won’t be on the normandy anymore.

      If one would want liara off the normandy the main part of her job would be making sense of whatever information shepard could gather on the reapers instead of having her trotting around the galaxy fringes. this would set up a plot where liara could be wherever the authours need her to be.

      1. stratigo says:

        Garrus could just as easily be sidelined for helping those u[start humans put down one of the turian’s biggest heroes. Sure Saren was a madman, but he was at one point a hero and having a human have to go and clean up a turian’s mess has to rankle.

    3. Laura says:

      I never saw Joker’s agreement to join Cerberus and fly the SR2 as just a humorous desire to sit in leather seats. In fact, given how glib Joker is about the leather seat thing, I feel like he’s using humor to deflect us from the real truth: that he feels horrible guilt about essentially being the cause of Shepard’s death and the death of the first Normandy, and he’d do anything to make it up to Shepard. Cerberus offered him a second chance. A way to do it all again, to redeem himself, pilot the Normandy and keep Shepard safe when s/he needs him the most. What guilt ridden hotshot pilot wouldn’t jump?

      Of course, the fact that it’s Cerberus and not the Alliance is another, stupider story that the author of the article is explaining far better than I could.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There is no easy answer, but there are a lot of interesting viewpoints.

    Especially because it involves two of the best characters in the series,wrex and mordin.And one of the rare things that me3 does right is that it pits those two(metaphorically)against each other,so you have to choose which one lives and which one dies.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Except its not much of a choice. Redemption and salvation to go around? Or lies and betrayal. Remember the only way you can stop Mordin without betraying him is talking him out of it which can only happen if Wrex died on Virmire in ME1 so its either a scenario of Mordin vs Wreav or a scenario where you have the choice of honoring the wishes of both or your friends or betraying both.

      I liked that sequence but there’s really no interesting choice BETWEEN those two.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But thats exactly what I was talking about.The only (good) way to have mordin survive is to have wrex be dead from the start.So you have to choose which one of them can live.

        Also,there is the whole thing about the imminent galactic war that krogans will wage if the genophage gets cured.Wrex may keep them in check for a while,but he is still just one guy.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Yeah but narratively, and the first time through as a player theres no way you could really know that. “I’d better kill Wrex now because this guy Mordin who I won’t meet for another two years is someone I will really like and I just know that he’ll want t cure the genophage when Wrex takes over the Krogan homeworld 3 years from now.”

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            That is the point:Your choices having long lasting unforeseeable consequences.Thats much better than their usual routine of minmaxing stuff just so you could get the best possible ending,and some cookies on top.

            1. Wide And Nerdy says:

              You’re right. I’d noticed that elsewhere but hadn’t thought of it here. Like with Maelon’s data. Its very paragon to destroy it but it gives Mordin no chance of saving Eve. But thats a consequence you can’t exactly foresee when you’re making the decision. Sure you might get that the data would be helpful for a cure but at the time you don’t know what strategic significance that cure will play or how it will help Eve or what role Eve will play in Tuchunka’s future.

              Its a very lifelike choice, worthy of Witcher 3.

              1. SKD says:

                I still don’t know if I would classify destroying the genophage cure research as paragon. I think many would compare it to the research conducted by Nazi scientists under similar “ends justifies the means” circumstances but without the flavor of “they’re subhuman so what we do to them doesn’t matter”. But the same people making that comparison fail to acknowledge that much of the knowledge gained by those Nazi scientists was not discarded simply because of the methods used to obtain it. Instead it was integrated and expanded upon under more humane and ethical circumstances.

                I would actually argue that destroying the research is the renegade action while keeping it for a possible future where the Krogans have developed to a point that they can join the greater galactic civilization without an artificial leash to restrain them is more paragon. Also, the research for a cure could also be used in the next adjustment to the genophage which has already been shown to need periodic refinement to maintain optimal population growth so that the species neither falls below minimum population to sustain growth nor develops a resistance to the plague which causes their population to explode into the unmanageable numbers which caused the genophage to be developed in the first place.

                1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  Its a difficult thing to do but there’s a precedent set when you accept such research. The next crazy scientist comes along and thinks “I’m going to do what they’re unwilling to do so they don’t have to and once my research yields results, they’ll have to accept it. It will be for their own good. I will bear the burden of this sin and let others reap the benefits.”

                  Or governments would quietly reach out to unaffiliated groups to do such things and then conveniently harvest the results.

                  By destroying the data, you can send the message that the horrors you commit are pointless and will amount to nothing.

                  Now if you were considering this at a time when you knew it would be needed to get the Krogan into the war, then yes keep it. Its an extreme existential situation. But at the time they’re considering it, all they know is that Maelon’s research could help the Krogan and thus could potentially turn them into the problem they once were.

                2. Hermocrates says:

                  Except a lot of the Nazi medical experiment data was discarded or disregarded, not merely due to ethical issues but significantly because it was just poorly done science.

                  1. RCN says:

                    But the fact that SOME of it was used is the point. Yes, the Nazis at concentration camps were mostly Cerberus evil, doing pointless experimentation with a heavy dose of confirmation bias as the goal.

                    But some of it could actually be used, and then it comes to the ethical question: Ignoring/destroying it because it means respecting those who died for it, or using it so that those who died for it didn’t die in vain. Both are valid choices and can be argued as the moral thing to do.

                3. RCN says:

                  Keeping the Cure obtained through unethical means is Renegade ALL over it. Destroying it because it is wrong is all Paragon. I don’t get where you’re getting at.

                  Unless you’re on the camp that Renegade is doing what Cerberus does, the stupid thing for stupid reasons…

            2. Supahewok says:

              I’ll agree on the point of unforeseen consequences, but your initial comment makes it sound like whether Mordin or Wrex is left standing at the end of the series is down to their philosophies or your specific choice between them. Your decision to kill Wrex in ME1 doesn’t necessarily reflect your position on the genophage; maybe you think Wrex is too much of a hothead, and has to be put down. Maybe you’re trying to talk him down, but fail. The choice can have nothing to do with the genophage, and as Mordin hasn’t been met, nothing to do with him either.

              Its an interesting system of consequences, but I think framing it as Wrex vs Mordin, while holding on to the idea that choices have unforeseen consequences, is fallacious, in this case. Especially as the scenarios, when linked together, do not have a simple overall binary outcome.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Even if you let wrex live,you can still attempt to save mordin,but it will end with one seriously pissed krogan.So yes,you still have an informed choice between the two that you cannot weasel out of like with the rest of them.

                1. Theminimanx says:

                  You can attempt to save Mordin from the explosion when Wrex is alive, yes. But he can only be talked out of curing the genophage when both Wrex and Eve are dead. So in that scenario the only way to sabotage the cure and piss Wrex off is to shoot Mordin.

                  Which means you never get to choose between Mordin and Wrex. You only get to choose between making both of them happy (even if it results in Mordin dying), or killing both of them.

                2. Supahewok says:

                  I’ve never played ME3 due to its DLC structure, so I’m trying to cobble this system together from the wiki, but there does not seem to be a way to save Mordin if Wrex is alive, period. Regardless of what you tell Mordin about the sabotage, he’ll try to fix it, and the only way to stop him is to shoot him. He WANTS the cure to work if Wrex is alive, so there is no way to talk him out of sacrificing himself, besides killing him, which defeats the purpose of trying to save him.

                  Wrex only gets pissy, as far as I can tell, if you allow the cure to be distributed with the sabotage in place. You cannot sabotage the cure while Mordin is alive, unless Wrex is dead and Eve is dead, and therefore Wrex isn’t around to get pissy. There’s simply no scenario I can find where you have to choose between the two of them based on the genophage after having met both of them, and therefore, presenting the system as such is disingenuous. You can only decide between Wrex and Mordin if you have foreknowledge of Mordin while playing the first game, in a scene that has nothing to do with him.

                  In short: Mordin’s survival in ME3 is predicated by Wrex’s death in ME1. The choice of Wrex’s survival in ME1, without foreknowledge of Mordin, is made outside of a choice of “Wrex vs Mordin.” Therefore, there is no choice between them. You make an unrelated decision in the first game that has unforeseen consequences in the third. (A point on which I DID agree with you, mind) There also isn’t a conflict of philosophies: when they meet each other in ME3, they both want to save the Krogans, and if they’re both alive, you have to kill them both in order to sabotage the cure. So you can’t even claim they’re metaphorically opposed.

                  There isn’t any Wrex vs Mordin choice, if you hold onto the premise of unforeseeable consequences. What “choice” there is has been made in the first game, before the conflict has been established.

                  I wonder if what you’re talking about is trying to convince Mordin at the site of the cure’s launch to not fix the sabotage, to save himself. It isn’t possible to convince him to do so if Wrex lives. If you persist in that, you kill him yourself to preserve the sabotage, and Wrex too will die later. So in that case, you get neither, so you’re not choosing between them then, either. They’re on the same team.

                  1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                    Yeah, here’s the breakdown of what can happen in each worldstate (SPOILERS for the Tuchanka plot on ME3):

                    Kill Wrex in ME1, destroy Maelon’s data in 2:
                    -You can cure the Genophage, but Eve will die from the procedure. Wreav is in charge and is openly warmongering among the Krogan.
                    -You can tell Mordin to allow the sabotage to proceed. He will argue, but pointing out Wreav’s terrible leadership will make him agree with you and leave. You get Salarian fleet, Krogan troops, and Mordin war assets, but don’t get Wrex or Eve assets (obviously).

                    Kill Wrex ME1, keep the data in 2:
                    -The cure will succeed and Eve will live. Wreav could possibly be moderated by her influence.
                    -Mordin will prevent the cure sabotage (dying in the process) unless you kill him.

                    Wrex lives, data destroyed:
                    -The cure will succeed but Eve will die. Wrex promises not to repeat mistakes of the past, but his influence isn’t invincible or omnipotent.
                    -Mordin will prevent the cure sabotage (dying in the process) unless you kill him. If you DO go ahead and kill him, Wrex will discover what you did and confront you on the Citadel, ready to kill you or die in a mirror of the ME1 confrontation (but much, much worse). The player must kill him or allow C-Sec to do it.

                    Wrex lives, data kept:
                    -The cure will succeed and Wrex and Eve rule together, their influence seems very powerful indeed.
                    -Same as the previous.

        2. SlothfulCobra says:

          ME3 is kind of all about these bittersweet lose/lose decisions. I don’t really like it, but it does what it sets out to do.

  3. Artur CalDazar says:

    “His backstory of “I left the Alliance to work for Cerberus because the Alliance couldn't get things done” is desperately in need of details.”

    It’s been a long time now, but didn’t he have his own game? Mobile or something?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Tie in works are never a good justification for the lapses of the main series.Even when the supplementary work is done in the same medium as the original,and especially when its not(like with the mass effect books).

      1. Some Random Dude says:


      2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        I think giving a side character an entire game to motivate him is far from “needing justification”. He explains what his deal is (like Garrus, he was frustrated by governmental interference and inefficiency) in game. If you probe him, you find out he foiled a terrorist plot on the Citadel where ‘grey’ organizations like Cerberus’ help were the only reason he succeeded (while his superiors got in the way). If you’re REALLY curious about it, there’s a whole game there. For most players, I presume the explanation suffices.

        1. Joe Informatico says:

          “This terrorist organization helped me stop another terrorist organization! So I decided to work for them!”

          I mean, there are enough similar real-world examples of this that I can accept it as a setting detail. But if the goal is to make Jacob the sympathetic everyman character, it kind of undermines that.

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Until 3, only certain characters realize Cerberus IS a terrorist organization. All the secret evil bases you discover throughout 1 and 2 are… well secret. And pretty much every time it’s “TIM demanded something useful from our team, so we did this. Once it failed/exploded/whatever, he found out and killed the survivors for doing a bad thing,” which allows for some leeway for characters like Jacob to imagine that Cerberus is mostly good with some bad offshoots (as Miranda initially argues).

            1. Trix2000 says:

              I’m not so sure about that. Almost everyone you run into who isn’t already working for Cerberus seems immediately on-guard and questioning, if not going so far as to distrust/dislike Shepard just for associating with them regardless of what he says (Kaidan/Ashley, mostly). So I feel like most people are aware that Cerberus is not GOOD, even if they aren’t that familiar with specifics.

              They had to get that bad rep somehow, and from everything we hear I don’t think it could be explained away as “just a misunderstanding”.

              1. MrGuy says:

                Which is why the real problem is Cerberus is so poorly conceived.

                It would have made them a MUCH more interesting group of folks if they were building schools and orphanages and hospitals throughout the human world, terraforming new planets to be amenable for human colonization, and in general presenting a credible face of “our primary interest is in the advancement of humanity!”

                If you want to give them a secret dark side, shouldn’t they be experimenting on Turians and Asari on their remote bases, rather than doing secret “we’re going to kill them all!” experiments on humans? Or holding brilliant Scientist Salarians in virtual slavery to create new cures for human diseases? Or secretly manipulating politics in non-human alliance race elections to destroy the credibility of candidates they don’t like?

                There’s so much INTERESTING evil they could be doing in this galaxy, and so much of it could have been interesting “ends justify the means!” related to their pro-human agenda. Just look at the scary stuff the NSA does in the interest of national security. It’s totally possible to have a theoretically noble goal and do bad stuff.

                But no. Rather than have an INTERESTING Cerberus, we have mustache twirling evil-for-no-good-reason Cerberus. And while they do claim to have a “pro human!” goal, they don’t do anything of substance to advance it.

                They’re dumb for no reason and dumb for no reason is murder.

    2. Some Random Dude says:

      Yes, never played it though, but I believe it plays out after he joined Cerberus. He also appeared in the comics from time to time.

      BTW, the mass effect comics add a lot of story, they are worth reading IMO.

      1. Raygereio says:

        the mass effect comics add a lot of story, they are worth reading IMO.

        Having read almost all of them I’m going to have to seriously disagree here. I found them to be just bad. The artwork hovers between uninspired laziness and hilariously incompetence and the writing never escaped the confines of soggy fanfiction.
        If you’re a huge ME fan and you just want to scratch your ME-itch, they can be worth picking up. But if you’re looking for Sci-Fi themed comics, there’s better stuff out there. Same goes for the novels, for that matter.

        1. swenson says:

          Ooooh, can we talk about Mass Effect: Genesis now, with Garrus the Magic Flying Turian?

        2. Artur CalDazar says:

          I’m of the opinion that Shaums should be playing all the important bits of game (like the Citadel DLC, the real ending to ME3) to get a full picture of the games. But I don’t think it can be said that the comics add any more to the games than the iOS “track your war readiness” app.

          Man that art was a mess.

          1. Nixitur says:

            Of the four panels, one is focused on Tali’s breasts and another one on her ass.
            Bravo, Chris Staggs.

    3. Raygereio says:

      Yep. That line is the ME2 writers going “Hey, the iOS game Mass Effect Galaxy is thing!”.
      As an aside, I really hate it when creators do this. Expending your franchise into other forms of entertainment is great and all, but don’t expect people to follow your entire franchise line across all those forms.

    4. Nixitur says:

      That may be so, but Mass Effect 2 should be consistent and make sense even when ignoring all other works in that canon.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So it's not really the work of one incompetent person

    Even in that case of two people writing those two things,it still comes down to one persons incompetence:The lead writer whose job was to oversee these and make those under him try to fit these things together.

    As for jacks outfit,I dont think its bad.Its a punk outfit for a punk girl.Heck,given jacks character,I would imagine her as a person who would actually go around naked,”dressed” only in her tattoos,but that wouldve been a bit too far for this game.Also,it gives a nice inversion where people want to work extra hard to get her LESS revealing clothes.

    1. Orillion says:

      Orrrr buy the DLC! She even gets shades so you don’t have to look at as much of her stupid face!

    2. John says:

      I’ve never played Mass Effect 2 and I didn’t watch the Spoiler Warning episodes related to it, so this is the first time that I’ve ever gotten a good look at Jack. Gah! That’s terrible! I’m still shuddering involuntarily. The tatoos are bad. The top–let’s be honest, the strings–is shameful. Together, they are somehow worse than the sum of their parts.

    3. Dork angel says:

      Jack’s tattoo’s are there to cover her scars. They aren’t meant to look pretty.

    4. Dork angel says:

      I think I read a rumour that there were going to go tattoo only but chickened out, hence the weird studded belt top.

  5. Xilizhra says:

    Wait, how is Kelly a “manic freak?” She just seems to be a nice person.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well she likes torturing robots,revels in cannibalism and….oh,you mean kelly CHAMBERS.She is the npc shepard,ready to screw anything that has external genitals,even dogs.

      1. Agrippa says:

        “even dogs”
        The varren thing’s just a stupid joke, right?


        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          The rumor about the Varren relates to Jack, not Kelly.

          1. SlothfulCobra says:

            It could be any of the crewmembers all over the ship. My suspicion’s on Hadley.

    2. Tom says:

      She’s nice, but she’s more than a bit manic. If we were being charitable, we might call her perky. Kinda reminds me of Lupe in Grim Fandango, and fills an almost identical role – “looks like she’s been in the sugar again…”

      As an alternative interpretation and a bit of fridge horror, we might suspect her of being a brainwashed cult victim or in total denial of what she’s really got herself into, and resorting to forced cheerfulness and totally unjustified optimism (and maybe also the promiscuity she frequently gets accused of, although I’ve not pursued that particular gameplay option so I don’t know how justified it is) as a coping mechanism for all the monstrous things she knows she’s been enabling, if not actually a party to, as a member of Cerberus. She might be trying to convince herself as much as anyone else when she deluges us in positive remarks about Cerberus. One might expect the facade to crack and for her to break down sobbing at any moment…

      (EDIT: checking a wiki synopsis of her appearances in ME3, this explanation would actually be somewhat consistent with her later behaviour)

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I enjoyed Kelly. Kind of wish life had more people like her who can give their love so freely.

      2. swenson says:

        She’s too perky. She drives me badonkers. Also she keeps sounding like she wants to hit on all my alien friends and I feel like I need to protect them from her. :/

        Also she keeps telling me that I have new messages if I check my terminal before talking to her, because somebody forgot to clear the flag if you read your messages before she gets a chance to waylay you.

        1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          She does want to hit on all your alien friends. And you. And the varren.

          Fortunately, early on you can tell her to chill out. And she will.

  6. Tom says:

    Your rhetorical question about Jack, “Is she really the only badass biotic in the galaxy,” made me ask another question that hadn’t occurred to me before – quite aside from the other two on our team, isn’t it possible that SHEPARD HIM/HERSELF can also be one? You need the ultrabiotic to create the swarm shield right at the end of the game (of course, you don’t know this until that point – it is actually good writing to have you assemble a much larger team with more talents than before because you have literally no idea what you’ll be called upon to do with them in the event. It’s even bolder, and VERY good writing (or just serendipitous incompetent writing), that at least one of those team members’ specialist skills are in fact utterly useless in the final event – Thane, the assassin. As it turns out, once you get to the other side of the Omega 4 relay, there is no conceivable way that an assassin – one who blends in with civilised society and subverts its norms to kill high-profile targets – could be useful in his primary role there; it’s only incidentally that some of the skills he has in support of that role, biotics, calmness in combat and being an excellent shot, can be repurposed a bit for a series of pitched battles. Although it is a bit daft that they put an assassin character into a game with no stealth mechanic, but that’s out-of-universe reasoning – and it pales into insignificance compared to later Kai Leng schenanigans…) – if Shepard is both an adept and fully leveled up, theoretically Shepard could be the one to do the shield, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t an option, not for in-universe reasons but because the game mechanics can’t support it (and it would require the scripting and level design of that sequence to be more than just one-size-fits-all-player-builds, which maybe nobody could be bothered to attempt, not to mention it allows only certain players to skip a setpiece battle, and we certainly can’t have players with different builds experiencing our RPG campaign differently, let alone skipping one of our many identical slogfest mook battles with clever decisions, that’s just crazy talk…). Presumably the henchmen can’t be relied upon to hold their own against the enemy with Shepard not fighting as well, despite their being played up throughout the game of being total badasses to a man (or woman. Or monogendered Asari or genderless robot thing). The same logic can be used for a fully upgraded engineer Shepard in the vent sequence.

    1. Orillion says:

      I’ve always gotten the feeling from the series that Shepard is supposed to be, in-universe, competent but mediocre at their specialization. A soldier is tough and knows his guns, but not as much as Ashley; an engineer is smart and understands how to push a little more out of machines, but not nearly as well as Tali. Likewise, an adept Shepard is a powerful biotic, but completely overshadowed by (at the very least) Jack and Samara.

      The only reason Shepard is even on the team is the leadership quality that they possess.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Your feeling is incorrect. From playing multiplayer, we realize that Shepard has truly incredible stats and can support impossible talent builds compared to any other pro solider/merc/whatever in the galaxy. If you refused to delve into multiplayer, the Citadel DLC climaxes in a VR battle where you fight every type of Shepard. It is, no contest, the hardest possible fight in the game.

        1. Tom says:

          Ah, but that’s multiplayer, which is tuned differently. From the third game, no less. If you go all the way back to ME1, I think Orillion has a point – gameplay does sorta reflect this. Granted, the henchman AI in ME1 is crude, and they need constant micromanagement, moving them manually from place to place throughout the battle and telling them exactly where to shoot, if you want them to be effective and not just get themselves shot to bits or wander right in front of you when you’re trying to line up your own shots, but the point is that if you don’t do this, if you don’t make full use of your squad’s abilities, you’ll get torn apart yourself in short order. This is most glaringly so if you play as an engineer in the original game; you really do have to be a commander first and foremost, and a good one at that, to keep your squad alive and effective so they can keep you alive in turn. However, I think this mechanic/plot point was already well on its way out the door by the second game. (arguably, by the end of the first game – the final battle against the Saren prosthesis is a NIGHTMARE playing as an engineer, because your henchmen just can’t ever hit it, you’re in a tiny, nearly bare room and it moves too fast and too often for your sluggish squad to make effective use of cover or outmanoueuvre it, and the only powerful tools Shepard has are are for making it vulnerable to their attacks).

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            That’s more a function of Engineer being generally the most underpowered class choice (which the dev team finally hung a lamp shade on for ME3 when Engineers have a completely unique interrupt choice in the Omega DLC) than anything about Shepard as a character. In each game, Shep has options that make him/her DRAMATICALLY better at what s/he is doing than anyone else. Even ME1 allows you to take “out of spec” perks for your character once you’ve used that power for a while. So Engineer Shepard could use Assault rifles or the Singularity power if you want, clearly an impressive feat compared to the likes of Tali.

            1. Tom says:

              I wouldn’t say “underpowered,” so much as “expressly (originally) designed for leadership from the rear rather than the front.”

              Also, could you really do that in ME1? I thought the engineer was doomed to always have to use the peashooter pistol until the credits rolled, no matter what.

              1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                @Tom, yes all 3 Mass Effects allow for New Game + characters with way more variety and interesting build choices. In 1, most (almost all?) core combat powers and all the weapons have achievements associated with using them. Once you hit that benchmark, ANY character can spec into that.

                In 2, once you get to the Collector ship, Shepard can spec into a new weapon choice that the class normally isn’t allowed. So Infiltrators with shotguns or Adepts with assault rifles? Yep, you can do it.

                In 3, all classes can use all weapons from the start, and you can spec into a ton of different powers from your allies, from the start, once you’ve unlocked the option to do so. Want Aria’s OP Flare Biotic on a Vanguard or the Leviathan’s Dominate on an Engineer (make ALL the enemies team kill!), it’s all there.

                1. Tom says:

                  Ah, new game plus – never bothered with that. (And, to take refuge in strict semantics, that happens *after* the credits roll :-P ) I don’t really think of bonus features like that as exactly the “true” experience. First time playthrough is what counts for me, especially when discussing a game’s design.

                  1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                    Well… ME is a bit of a special case. If you do a Male Soldier Shepard playthrough and unlock a bunch of special things, you can then do a female Shepard whatever (say… Sentinel) playthrough and use all those perks. So a “first time” playthrough of a character can be using the special abilities/etc.

            2. Gordon says:

              Really? Engineers are the worst class?

              uh… huh. I played through all three games as an engineer. I started the first game as a Vanguard, and had a way harder time at it. I just loved the “Stop Shooting Me” power, plus the AI hacking from later. Those, plus Marksman, actually made the Saren fight pretty straightforward, since I had Tali with me to keep him locked down.

              I prefer Shepard as a secret agent to Shepard as a Soldier, and Engineer felt closest to the “James Bond” vibe. Gadgets, pistols. Ooh, and the powers in 2 and 3 were great for getting through the alternate health types. And not having to aim.

              1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                I didn’t say “worst”. Being enjoyable is its own reward. I said “underpowered” which is hard to argue when you see what other classes get. Aggressive Vanguard players finish long fights in seconds. Adepts can combo explode huge groups of enemies with a tiny regen time. Soldiers can fire the most powerful weapons in slow motion while being basically unkillable. Engineers lost one of their best powers from ME1 (sabotage) and AI Hacking has the issue of making the target unkillable by your own team (and not being incredibly effective at killing its own team).

              2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Yes,those are nice.But you know whats even better?Having a way to become invisible on command,having the power to hack enemy ai and having a big ass gun that can hit an ant in the left eye from 5 kilometers away.You want a spy?How about an actual infiltrator designed to infiltrate and assassinate.

                1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Most interesting thing about Infiltrator once the system was improved in 3 is that actually they make for a better CLOSE combat specialist. The buff to attacks from invisibility applies to shotguns and melee, which allows the confident Infil to OHKO some powerful enemies and then slink off to do it again later. The development of real combat roles with tons of variety is something we can thank the (initially seen as a horrible betrayal) multiplayer for.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Wait,what?The sniper is the strongest brawler?I….bwuh?

                    I mean ok,infiltrator is basically a spy,not a sniper,but theyve used the class as a sniping class for 2 games,why switch in the third?

                    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                      It’s an unexpected consequence of perk synergy. The cloak power is a huge damage buff to attacks made as you come out of it, non-specific to Snipers. Once you realize this, you can spec for melee or shotguns instead of snipers and have an amazing time.

                    2. Trix2000 says:

                      It helps that you can spec for more melee damage as well, and being invisible also helps a lot to get really close safely (and charge up heavy melee).

                      They’re definitely still effective at-range if you want them to be, but they do have an option for melee assassination.

                    3. Khizan says:

                      The other thing is that the cooldown of cloak depends on how long you keep the cloak up. If you cloak and then shoot immediately you get the huge damage burst with a very short cooldown, even if you’re packing a Claymore.

      2. galacticplumber says:

        As shown in the sniper duel with garrus this is untrue. If you are a sniper specialist you beat him.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Um,isnt it just a dialogue with let him win/dont let him win options,regardless of class?

          1. guy says:

            Yes. Even as a Vanguard.

            1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

              In ME1, it was presumed that only Soldiers had trained on EVERY weapon system, while biotic and tech classes had only taken training on sidearms to focus on their powerset. In any case, every Shep had to train on the weapons as they leveled, they started out garbage at everything.

              ME2 found lore faults in the idea of an N7 elite soldier training in the basic skills of firearm use, no matter the class. Therefore, they removed “lrn to use guns gud” perk trees and made all weapons fire as intended, from the start. There are flat upgrades to gun damage that every class can find, this is presented as a technology upgrade, rather than a skill one.

              ME3 goes even further, suggesting that a truly elite soldier would be skilled at any weapon system they found, even if they were a tech or biotic specialist. Therefore every class can use every gun, at normal stats (like 2). The devs still gently nudge towards specialization with the idea of weight, meaning if a biotic or techie takes a bunch of heavy weapons into battle, their powers will suffer from the physical strain.

              With this in mind, by ME3, EVERY Shep is an accomplished sniper, so every Shep is capable of beating a (probably drunk) Garrus in the contest.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Yeah but even if all the classes are competent with all the weapons,wouldnt a dedicated sniper still be more than just competent?I mean you can send your basic infantry into the snipers nest and they are going to be able to kill some enemies,but a specialist sniper will still be able to do it faster,at greater distance,with more accurate shots,etc.

                1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  They reflect this by adding perks to the level up trees to allow for weapon specialization (more sniper headshot damage for Infiltrators for example).

    2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Regarding “why couldn’t Shepard do the specialist roles during the Suicide Mission”, it’s for the very logical point of it being a TERRIBLE idea if there are other options. Shepard is the team commander and we’re sending him to possibly die in a heating vent 10 minutes into the mission? Are we insane? Yes it would be terrible to lose Tali, but she signed up for this and it wouldn’t leave the ENTIRE TEAM and the mission floundering. Ditto with the shield. The character casting it is left visibly drained and needs to be rescued and covered that their exhaustion doesn’t get them killed. Not a great idea to do that to the Point Man/Team Leader. If you somehow recruited a tiny team AND got several killed on the way in, it would be kind of neat to allow Shepard to do these roles as a desperation move, but it would/should probably result in mission failure.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        As opposed to the safe and joyous route of having to endure multiple firefights?

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          The firefights would happen either way, but if Shepard was running a Specialist role, they would happen without leadership or the strongest combatant on the team participating.

          I would however love a co-op version of the Suicide Mission with players taking all the Specialist roles. That would be awesome.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Why are you the strongest combatant?What if you are an engineer class,wouldnt you be just like tali then?Plus they would have just as much leadership as the second strike force.You arent the only leader in the group.

            1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

              You’re the strongest because:
              1) You’re the player and hopefully better at combat than the braindead AI (logic speaking)
              2) An N7 powerhouse who has drawn the personal attention of a Reaper (lore reason)
              3) A powerhouse in your class with talent builds that literally take the best elements of any other character at will, for better use (with more upgrades than any other character) (mechanics reason)

              There’s no argument for any other character being as strong as Shepard, you have to try to sabotage/mod the game to change that in any real way.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                1 and 3 are out of character reasons,and you cant use those to justify in character stuff like leadership.2 doesnt mean you are the most powerful,just that you have a powerful nemesis.

                And even out of character,you dont have to be the most powerful fighter.Miranda easily has a better team buff than you,and the others can have far more useful power combinations,depending on your class.

                1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Reason 3 is only halfway out of character. “Shepard is the most powerful because s/he can use the most powerful abilities at the highest levels of strength” is a pretty logical in character reason. And any team power use is best used under Shepard’s leadership (s/he picks the combat team combination) and direction (being ‘good’ at Mass Effect involves controlling everyone’s power use very precisely). If you set power use to “do what you want” your teammates are inadequate, especially on higher difficulty settings.

                  1. Trix2000 says:

                    To be fair, I’m pretty sure squad member damage is also reduced compared to your own, on the order of ~50% or so (I think it varies by weapon). So just in game mechanics, they are weaker on that front by default.

                  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Thats because the ai doesnt trump human.Also because your companions are seriously nerfed (in most cases) compared to the player(having their cooldowns increased,less damage,less skill points,etc).In story however,when you see them doing stuff in cutscenes,they often trump shepard even if she is the same class as them.Jack is the best example of this with her escape from the prison.

                    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                      Jack’s prison escape and Thane’s assassination mission show things that are simply impossible by the game mechanics. It’s a pretty common RPG trope to have people be absolutely amazing right up to the moment where they join the party, at which point they become mediocre. Working from a gameplay/stats/story perspective though, Shep is not necessarily “the best” at everything (Liara has the fastest Biotic cooldowns possible, no build can EVER match her), but… I’ve lost track of what I’m even advocating at this point. I think that’s a cue to let it go.

            2. Khizan says:

              The Engineer is a capable combatant who uses a different combat mechanic. They’re more of a tech-mage than a builder/bomb-defuser/mechanic, and saying that the engineer couldn’t be the best combatant is like saying that the mage couldn’t be the best combatant while ignoring the fact that they’re spraying flaming death across the battlefield.

      2. Tom says:

        I dunno, I would have spun it the other way, as an ideal role for lead-from-the-rear characters who rely on their henchmen a lot, like engineers. Both the vent and the shield are transparent, after all, and pass through the battlefield – it could’ve been a fun challenge (not to mention broken up the monotony of yet another standard-issue cover battle with a billion mooks in an orange room) to command one’s squad from inside those.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          The vent is not something you can command from, it’s superheated to the point of fatality. Your hacker has to HURRY through each section while the outside team rushes to keep them from cooking like a lobster. The shield would also be a terrible command area since biotics occur a MENTAL strain. Asking someone who is straining their mind and body to the peak to also make smart tactical decisions is a recipe for failure.

    3. SlothfulCobra says:

      Biotics seem to have a weird place in the canon of Mass Effect. From Kaiden and Jack (and maybe Miranda?), you learn that biotics have to undergo complex procedures to have their powers develop that have all kinds of reprecussions on their lives, but then here comes along Shepard and Jacob, who have basically the same powers with no fuss, no muss.

      I never really cared much for biotic powers anyways (except for charge as a vanguard). I never really understood what the lore explanation for how they had these crazy powers, and it’s the tech powers that I found neat. The only thing knocking around people into physics ragdolls is good for is crowd-controlling a bunch of husks. Otherwise, I’ll just stick with explosions, buffs, and sentries.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        If you try to use Jacob for the “powerful biotic” role, someone is guaranteed to die though. So in canon, his powers are orders of magnitude weaker/less impressive.

        1. guy says:

          Eh, not really. He fails at the last second, Samara and Jack just barely manage to hold out long enough to generate a final pulse and let you get through a door before their powers fail.

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            If you use Jacob, someone (doesn’t have to be him) will get dragged out of the shield to their death. It’s like sending Thane into the vents, he dies every time.

            1. guy says:

              I know that, but it happens not ten feet from the door where Jack and Samara run out of energy. He is only slightly less effective at it than they are.

              1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                I don’t think we’re disagreeing strongly but “always gets someone killed through his failure to hold up his end” is a pretty powerful strike against his proficiency.

                1. guy says:

                  He’s not quite good enough for the task, but he’s maybe 90% of Jack or Samara’s power level, not 1-10%

                  1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                    Ehhh. For gameplay purposes, they wanted a bad choice in the Suicide Mission to get ONE person killed per bad choice. So if you didn’t upgrade the hull, a shot comes through and kills one person. If you send Thane to hack a computer, he dies while checking his copy of “Hacking for Dummies.” In the shield section, a weak biotic user should logically collapse the shield, getting EVERYONE in the shield killed. However, Shepard is in the shield and they didn’t want to pack a “the whole mission fails, make a different choice” part in randomly. So even if you make a terrible choice, it still just kills one person, which the cutscene depicts as a failure very near the door. From lore and everything else, nothing about Jacob suggests he’s the match of a super user of biotics like Liara, Samara, or Jack.

      2. Orillion says:

        The difference is mainly in the implants used. Kaiden has the L2 implant; Shepard (and presumably Miranda and Jacob) have the L3. The third-generation implant is the one where they managed to balance the quality-of-life aspects with the power output. It’s still a surgical implant, but it’s more like an IUD as opposed to a pacemaker.

        In Jack’s case, well, it was deliberate torture to see if they could make a “better” biotic. I don’t think she once complains about the implant she has.

      3. guy says:

        Kaiden was in an experimental unit, with substantial technological improvements between then and Shepard getting training. Shepard’s backstory as a biotic was presumably similar, except without the racist Turian in charge of training and with most of the crippling side effects removed with the new generation of implants.

        The lore explanation is pretty much that fetal exposure to Eezo left it fused into their nervous system, allowing them to generate Mass Effect fields. ~2/3rds of cases result in cancerous growths and a miscarriage instead.

  7. Xedo says:

    Aquaman has been awesome ever since Super Friends went off the air 30 years ago. Especially Peter David’s run.

    On-topic, I recall there being a lot of mentions in the early part of the game about the Alliance’s bureaucracy being impractical and contrasted with Cerberus just getting things done. There’s a similar conversation with the security guard that lets you into the Citadel. But yeah, none of those conversations ever give examples of specifically how bureaucracy stifles practical problem-solving, nor do they ever connect the dots between Cerberus acting freely and Cerberus constantly causing problems by not having any control over its various cells and science units.

    I mean, assuming they were reading what they were writing, it makes total sense that the organization with no internal oversight or controls would have lots of employees running around rogue and uncontrolled. This could have been a plot point instead of a plot hole.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      There are hints as to how the bureaucracy is hurting things. The Council grounds the Normandy in the climax to 1, right when it is most important to back the play of their Spectre agent. The C-Sec guys can’t stop a simple religious protest that Shepard clears up in a single conversation. The corruption on Noveria has been rampant for years (later, we learn Thessia is similar). “Military policy” creates the harmful situation with the veteran’s remains in ME1. The Admiral in 1 wants to criticize the Normandy for reasons of intra-department competition. Etc

    2. SlothfulCobra says:

      In ME1, they say that Cerberus was originally part of the Alliance, and it still has plenty of connections with it. Therefore, Cerberus is already a rogue cell of the Alliance, and any of Cerberus’s failings can be connected to the Alliance.

      1. James says:

        Well this has come up.

        Yes its true in Mass Effect Cerberus was a Alliance Black Ops Organisation that had gone rouge. this is what Admiral Kahoku discovers and tells you about before they murder him.

        EDIT: this was supposed to be a reply to @SlothfulCobra above

        1. guy says:

          That plot point is pretty much quietly dropped in ME2 and 3, where to all appearances Cerberus is a terrorist organization created by corporate interests with no direct connection to the Alliance at any point in its history. Heck, even timeline wise it doesn’t line up; the final log from Jack’s mission indicated that Cerberus couldn’t get information from the Alliance biotic development program except through espionage, and that would have been well before ME1.

    3. Joe Informatico says:

      I get that in a action story, and especially an action video game, you want the player to feel that the main character and their small group of friends/comrades are instrumental parts of the main plot. “Only you are a bad enough dude to rescue the president”, or whatever.

      But Mass Effect is so ridiculously reactionary in its “bureaucracies and governments are completely incompetent” drum-beating. I get that bureaucracies and large institutions can be slow to react (I’ve worked for enough of them). But when they finally bring themselves to bear on something, they can be frighteningly effective. If no organization in the ME universe is competent, is Shepard sure she wants to fly around in a ship built with the resources of two governments, surely designed by dozens or hundreds of engineers and assembled by hundreds or thousands of technicians and workers? Are we sure the Systems Alliance and Turian military are competent enough to follow stress testing and safety regulations? Wouldn’t she prefer a small ship built by one smart guy and his assistant in his garage? That’s the logical conclusion of ME’s themes.

      The difference with the incompetence of Cerberus’ bureaucracy is that the ME writers don’t seem to understand Cerberus’ organization is incompetent, because TIM is like, so mysterious and cool you guys! Because he’s the villain, bureaucracy and logistics don’t affect him!

  8. Poobles says:

    Well, your kinda wrong about Jack. On the biotic shield part of the suicide mission there are only three biotics that can get you through without people dying; Jack, a thousand year old Asari badass and a 400 year old Asari genetic freak badass. Point being the Asari have been in space and had presumably figured out biotics 2600 years before humanity and Jack is on the level of some of their most powerful. So I’d say the experiment with Jack was a success.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Yeah I’m confused on that point too. I thought the logs indicated that the scientists experimented on the other children and the stuff that worked well on them was done to Jack to enhance her abilities.

      1. guy says:

        It’s not especially clear how well that actually worked vs. Jack being powerful to begin with. I think the experiments did have an impact, but Jack would have been a pretty impressive combat biotic if she went through the standard training regime. Also they wouldn’t have murdered hundreds of humanity’s precious and rare biotics in experiments.

        To be fair, it’s implied Cerberus is largely responsible for human biotics; they come from fetal exposure to Element Zero, most commonly from spacecraft exploding in the upper atmosphere. Cerberus apparently staged most of those, so their crazy and murderous approach has accomplished something.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          I think Kaiden Alenko is a pretty good indicator of the normal upper limit, especially since he’s one of the last to have the L2 implant and is probably at least 5 to 10 years older than Jack (thus would be more trained). I believe Jack would have gotten an L3, which are more stable but less potent. Note in the Citadel DLC its a joke when Kaiden notes “I’ve been working on it and I can Wreave now” which impresses the others who can only do the same because they were experimented on (Jack), genetically engineered(Miranda) or they were Asari (Samara and Liara).

          1. James says:

            I think Jack was implanted with L5’s, Jacob is a L3 and i think Miranda’s are natural because of her being a Test Tube Baby.

            In ME1 Shep is a L3 but gets “upgraded to L5 because Lazarus”

            Kaiden Talks about L2’s “Spiking higher then L3’s” with the exception of Shep.

            So the Order of power is kinda like this
            Asari / Jack
            Miranda / Jacob / Other L3’s

            1. Wide And Nerdy says:

              Right. I was trying to say that I didn’t think Jack would be above Kaidan if not for the experiments.

              1. James says:

                I think if Jack went to the Ascension Project instead of the Cerberus school of doom she’d probably get a L3 implant or maby an L4 depending on age. and given her natural abilities might have been offered the L5 Upgrade (The alliance by me3 outfits some soldiers with L5’s)

      2. Shamus says:

        Put it this way:

        Jack got taller during their experiments. Does that mean the experiments made her taller?

        She got better as the experiments went on, and when she got better they attributed her improvements to their bullshit. Which COULD be the case, but it’s not sure. This is why you can’t do meaningful experimental science on a single test subject like this. They presumably chose Jack because she had the most biotic potential. So later when she turns into a great biotic, how much of that can they take credit for? Was it the drugs? The torture? Simple age and experience? Would a positive, nurturing experience yield different results?

        The point is, the author of this story was concerned with making sure Cerberus was SUPER EVIL and not showing that they actually got results. You can maybe infer results, but the evil is explicit and in-your-face. For this to be an interesting thought experiment, both the evil and the results need to be explicit.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          The writers probably didn’t want to fall into the Nazi scientist trope of the evil experiments actually producing quantifiably better results, therefore evil was… right? The truth being that those experiments largely produced junk data because the testers were evil racists. In the case of Jack, while she MAY have been made stronger, they DEFINITELY killed a bunch of also promising biotic kids in the process of doing it. For the goal of a “stronger biotic humanity” the results are questionably utilitarian at absolute most generous judgment, a huge and shocking failure on all levels (moral, scientific, practical) in all reasonable assessments.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Well one presumes that they’d intended to take their results and use them on other biotics so there’s loss in the short term but you gain from having all human biotics be stronger down the road. They probably wanted to be on par with the Asari.

          2. Mersadeon says:

            While I agree with your overall point, it is somewhat of a convenient lie that science didn’t get pushed forward by Nazi experiments. There are very convincing arguments to be made that show that the scientific community acted like everything done by the Nazis produced junk data with no good results, even though we now know that that was not the case.

            I understand why they did that – they did not want science to be associated with this immorality. And we can see that their fears were somewhat justified: after Nagasaki and Hiroshima, science was suddenly seen in a different light, and that seeped into popular culture. But we do have to say that many results, even some of those from Mengele, were actually both usable and used.

        2. Poobles says:

          I thought ALL the kids were test subjects, but it was Jack that showed the most promise so they did all the risky shit on the other kids first, if it worked they used it on Jack.

          1. Mike S. says:

            It’s also generally a fairer criticism with respect to real world science than when the standard of comparison is, per Shamus, Star Trek. Which never saw a scientific problem that required a control group, a statistically significant number of subjects, or at most one failed try before total success.

        3. Shamus says:

          Remember that the point of my criticism wasn’t “Cerberus didn’t follow scientific method, therefore they didn’t discover anything”.

          The problem is that their science isn’t explored enough that we could use it as a thought experiment. And more importantly, nobody talks about it in the game. Nobody comes up to Shepard to say, “Maybe this is what we need to do. Look at how powerful Jack is. What if we need biotics like this to beat the Reapers?”

          Something like that would at least make Cerberus a proper villain instead of a cartoon villain.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            I don’t believe Jack was exactly in the experimental category so much. It seemed like what they were doing was experimenting on the other kids and applying their successes to her. So they could have been using other children as controls and since they had a bunch of them for years, they could do longitudinal-

            -You know what, if I continued, you’d probably think I was missing your point. You’re right, they missed an opportunity with Jack to have that debate about extreme methods yielding results. It would have been helpful to have more examples of Cerberus succeeding.

            Like maybe the facility did ultimately get destroyed but by the next wave of powerful biotics Cerberus produced who finally realized they were powerful enough to break free (not because they were crazy). So yes the experiment backfired on them but it did produce the intended results, repeatable success in augmenting human biotics. Maybe they’re even more powerful than Jack because they stuck around for further experiments.

            Maybe the brother did have a horrific time of it in that one DLC but they also got a stable AI out of it because it was based on a human (maybe EDI was the product of such an experiment).

            They needed a better story editor. Someone like a Chris Avellone riding herd to make sure the narrative stayed coherent throughout.

          2. Slothfulcobra says:

            Well, there is that one dude who went back to the research facility in order to start the project back up again. He seemed pretty convinced that the process worked.

            Although that was probably more just rationalization on his part in order to convince himself that all his suffering meant something.

            1. Twisted_Ellipses says:

              Maybe the point of the experiment was not only to enhance her abilities but also make her a killer, because they certainly succeeded there. She doesn’t even remember slaughtering kids and guards alike…

              …Which again begs the question why the Illusive man would recommend recruiting her. Though I guess it is for a suicide mission…?

              1. Sartharina says:

                They needed a powerful biotic. Jack was a powerful Biotic. TIM and Cerberus are not very wise.

  9. Darren says:

    I am going to complain about this in more detail when we get to the suicide mission, but Jacob also has the benefit of being exceptionally competent compared to the other starting companion, Miranda.

    For me, what made me uncomfortable about Jacob is that I played FemShep and Bioware set her default Jacob Interaction to “sexual predator.” Her body language and tone start their relationship off on an extremely uncomfortable note, and Jacob’s stand-offish initial attitude reads less “guarded” and more “my boss is hitting on me, somebody help.” Although this is the correct response to Shepherd’s horndog nature, it isn’t something you actually want to experience.

    For all that people complain about Bioware titles–particularly Dragon Age–increasingly becoming dating sims, none of their other games have made me feel so uncomfortably aware of it.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Do you mean competent in-game or in-fiction? Cos in-game I’m pretty sure Miranda is way more useful than Jacob. Iirc she has a unique passive ability that buffs everyone else in the team, and gets Overload and Warp, which together mean she can deal with any type of defence (barrier, shield, armour). Jacob’s abilities are a lot less useful (even though Pull is fun if you can get it to work).

      1. Darren says:

        I mean how she is doomed to fail at all of the roles she advocates for herself during the suicide mission. My first playthrough, everyone survived on the first run without a walkthrough. The second time, where I specifically tried to use characters I hadn’t used much the first time through in an attempt to appreciate those that maybe I hadn’t given their due, I found Miranda to miserably fail at everything.

        In the game, whatever, she was fine. But in spite of all the buildup about her power I found that, in the one scenario with actual stakes, she just fails.

        1. Henson says:

          But so does Jacob. He dies as the tech expert, despite volunteering, he can’t maintain the biotic bubble, and he dies as the leader of the second fire team. Miranda at least automatically succeeds at the third of these options.

          1. Trix2000 says:

            Preeeetty sure he survives being fire team leader in both cases, provided he is loyal (but then, almost every role needs loyalty to survive). There’s a moment when it looks like he takes a hit, but then shrugs it off if the mechanics say he survived.

            I’ve pretty much always put Jacob as fire team leader because it always worked for me. He is, however, not suited for tech/biotics.

            Now, Miranda’s an oddball because she can survive some situations that otherwise wouldn’t be expected, even non-loyal. I feel like that speaks more to the mechanics behind the suicide mission and the writers’ wanting her around than it does her competence, though.

        2. Matthew I says:

          In the final mission, Miranda is one of the “correct” choices for leading the fire teams. Of course, if you don't do her loyalty missions she'll fail miserably, as would any disloyal/”incorrect” squadmate.

          1. Trix2000 says:

            Actually, just looking at the suicide mission chart, it looks like she doesn’t have to be loyal to survive the second fireteam.

            1. Ringwraith says:

              She’s the character tasked with providing most of the narration for the mission, thus is prevented from personally dying for most of it. Other people tend to die instead though if she’s not up to the task.

    2. Raygereio says:

      For me, what made me uncomfortable about Jacob is that I played FemShep and Bioware set her default Jacob Interaction to “sexual predator.”

      Bioware did record a neutral “Hey, let’s talk Jacob” line for FemShep. But it only shows just the one time when you talk to him after the final mission.

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Ditto the “uncomfortable dating sims.”

      I also liked Jacob and used him when I could. He’s underpowered on higher difficulties (if you are using a shotgun, you are too close, and pull doesn’t work on shielded or armored enemies), but he always seemed a good soldier.

      He is the squad’s version of Joker. A good soldier who got disgusted with the incompetence of his superiors, and jumped at the chance to “do something.” He is the Paragon angel to Miranda’s Renegade angel.

      Which makes what they do to him in ME3, especially if in a relationship with Shep, particularly egregious.

  10. Incunabulum says:

    Editing head’s up

    Unless I’m missing something – your notes [x] start at *2*.

    1. Phill says:

      It’s a [1] on the main page, and the same note is [2] when you click in to the main article. Same text for both.

    2. Cilvre says:

      I glanced back up after i saw the same thing thinking, “Did I really gloss over the first subscript?”

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah number lists.The one simple thing no script will ever manage to do without screwing it up somehow.

    4. MichaelGC says:

      This happens sometimes-but-not-always when the first footnote occurs very early on. I think it has something to do with this:

      //call this function once the page has loaded
      window.addEventListener(‘load’, snote_init, false);
      //window.addEventListener(‘mousedown’, snote_hide, false);
      window.addEventListener(‘mouseup’, snote_hide, true);

      //this function will add a span with snote_tip class where a span with the snote class is used, this reduces the html needed and makes writing notes so much simpler/cleaner.
      function snote_init() {
      var snote_elements = document.getElementsByClassName(‘snote’);
      for (var i = 0; i [[ snote_elements.length; i += 1) {
      (function(i) {
      var snote_element = snote_elements[i];

      snote_element.innerHTML = ‘[[span class=”snote_refnum” title=””]][‘ + snote_element.title + ‘][[/span]]’ + ‘[[span class=”snote_tip” id=”snote_’ + i + ‘”]]’ + snote_element.innerHTML + ‘[[/span]]’; = ‘inline-block’;
      snote_element.addEventListener (“mouseup”, function () {snote_show(i)}, false);

      But I don’t know anywhere near enough about this to know what. (Something to do with the ‘refnum’ thingy? Or snote_init?) I’d certainly like to know, if anyone can figure it out!

      PS Nice new background, just whilst we’re meta-commenting! Looks very nice on mobile, which isn’t always the case (for which I blame my mobile, of course, rather than the previous backgrounds).

      Edit: Ah, pasting the code like that isn’t going to work in these comment boxes. I said I didn’t really know what I was doing! I’ve re-done it but replaced the pointy brackets (technical term) with double-square ones.

      1. Santa says:

        While we’re on the subject of those notes, both bracketed numbers and yellow text boxes are very small when reading on a mobile device. It’s as if they don’t scale correctly with the page, instead having a fixed size. Likely a CSS problem.

  11. Christopher says:

    This might be jumping the gun a bit, but while I love all of the Mass Effect 2 characters much more than I did in 1 and the focus on them was a godsend for me, I view them a bit differently from the ME1 guys. To use a metaphor from the article, I never felt like I was gathering up Batman and his pals for the Justice League. Most of these guys are crazy! Half of them have an introductory scene that’s them murdering someone(In the case of Jack, didn’t she blow up 40 000 fellow prisoners?) or putting their head on a pole to ward off enemies.

    Garrus didn’t go and become Batman, he went and became the Punisher(even though I felt pretty certain that he learnt his lesson about revenge in his sideplot in the previous game). At the end of the game I looked up the chart for the suicide mission specifically so I could kill as many of the most bananas criminals as possible, like I was suddenly roleplaying Kira from Death Note. I didn’t want my League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ending with one of them betraying me to the alien octopuses and then that person getting fucked to death on the dinner table. I was taking the universe very seriously, I guess. Never blinked when Black Whirlwind said he ripped a person in half to solve a wedding dispute, but I was a month away from having played a game where 90% of your opponents were robots. That is not the case in ME2, and when these guys were sniping criminals or stomping their heads into pieces I thought they were monsters.

    Tali was nice.

    1. Fizban says:

      Did we miss something freaky in Mass Effect 3 via Spoiler Warning? Cause I’m pretty sure nothing in those spoiler tags was from Death Note. Enlighten me?

      1. Volvagia says:

        Those were from Watchmen and the just before mentioned League of Extraordinary Gentleman respectively. (It’s an Alan Moore joke.)

        1. Christopher says:

          Yeah, I’m sorry about those spoilers being unclear. Specifically, those spoilers are about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume 2 just so we’re all on the same page.

  12. Sartharina says:

    Ehh… I don’t see Shepard as “Working” for Cerberus as much as “royally Ripping them Off”.

    Seriously – he has very little oversight on his mission, is told to do something he was going to do anyway, pretty much, and then they just start throwing money and a luxury super-ship at him. If he manages to get his job done, he saves the galaxy. If he gets everyone killed… well, what are you expecting from a Cerberus Operation?

    He doesn’t really have any other options.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I would buy that if:
      You could use any of the stuff you collect against cerberus in any way,either in me2 or me3(which you cant)
      You were able to actually thwart their plan of controlling the ex collector base(which you cant)
      You were able to at least once tell one of your former friends “Yeah,Im not really working for these guys,Im just using their resources”(which you cant).

      If either of those happened I would be satisfied.But no,you proudly go around waving their logo so that everyone knows “We are the cerberus.Resistance is futile.”.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        You can use every gun from ME2 in ME3, some of which are Cerberus-designed prototypes. The Cerberus-built EDI and Normandy 2 are Shepard’s main weapons against Cerberus objectives in 3. The Cerberus operatives Miranda and Jacob are directly swayed to fighting AGAINST the organization in 3, as a result of the plot of 2.

        The Collector base point is true, I have sour grapes about that along with the Rachni thing.

        You totally CAN tell them that. In fact, a dialogue wheel choice at one point is labeled “They’re working FOR ME.”

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I was talking about all the dirt you “secretly” gather to…sell,I guess,because thats the only thing you can do with it.

          And no,”they are working for me” is most definitely not a denial that you have turned to cerberus.

          1. Trix2000 says:

            There are others, though, and I specifically picked a LOT of options related to “I don’t like this, I’m not really helping them” in my recent playthrough. Though to be fair, there weren’t any that outright said “I won’t work for you!”

            If there was any real issue, it wasn’t that you didn’t have the options to say things but that picking said options didn’t have any real effect on anything. There was no way to NOT work for Cerberus, no way to sabotage them that wouldn’t have happened otherwise… you can’t even take their symbol off your ship and stuff!

            If they really HAD to have Shepard working for Cerberus (and I don’t see any reason why they did), I think it should have been done in one of two ways (apologies for length):

            – TIM would have some sort of real leverage on Shepard. And no, “I brought you back to life” and “We oppose the Collectors too so obviously we must be friends” are not good enough. The first is a bit admirable but in no way truly exonerates Cerberus nor compels Shepard to help them – s/he never asked to be resurrected. For the seconds, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” does not feel like enough justification for supporting them, not to mention WHY WOULDN’T THE ALLIANCE BE INTERESTED INSTEAD.

            But what if TIM had some sort of control over Shepard, either physically (tech from the resurrection) or external leverage (family? friends? maybe a threat against innocents?). Not only could that be worked into a reasonable explanation for Shepard joining Cerberus, but it could add additional tension to the relationship that I could only see making interesting stuff happen.

            – Maybe have it so Shepard (and by extension, the player) doesn’t actually know who they are working for, and is maybe convinced by TIM to join a shadow organization with the stated goal of stopping the Collectors. Essentially keep the player in the dark about who they are working for, though dropping hints along the way that eventually lead up to a reveal (probably around the time Normandy is attacked and the crew taken) that they’ve been working for Cerberus all along. This would lead to a open conflict/hostility from Shepard (and the player), but ultimately he’d still want to go into the relay because the Collectors are still a clear and present danger… and conveniently he still has the ship and crew necessary to do the job, Cerberus help or no.

            Obviously, this might need tweaking for Miranda/Jacob to work (maybe they were in on it, maybe they weren’t, maybe they were convinced by Shepard’s actions to eventually come clean… to BE the reveal). But I feel like it not only would have removed the blame for “being forced to work for Cerberus” from the writers to TIM himself. Would be a great way to make the guy a more serious threat, I think. Might also make Cerberus’s transition to having massive influence (compared to ME1) be more believable – they’ve been intentionally hiding themselves.

            1. Twisted_Ellipses says:

              I think you’re bang on the money there for a plot fix. In terms of leverage, even something as simple as a vital piece of information or a medical mcguffin to stabilise Shepard’s resurrection would be enough. Also Shepard then could be more actively subverting TIM, it could be his idea to recruit old enemies of TIM like Jack and get Mordin or Liara to find ways around needing TIM’s leverage.

              1. Trix2000 says:

                Actually hadn’t considered that potential aspect of the idea. That would make it even better!

                …I’m just going to keep disappointing myself with this stuff given that it won’t happen.

        2. Phill says:

          And knowing how Bioware dialog wheels go, and what happens in the rest of ME2, I’m betting what you actually say if you chose that option is “I love TIM and think he’s got the best plan to save the galaxy. I’m totally on board with this”.

        3. flyguy says:

          I kinda feel its a bit of a cop out to justify the means of ME2 by what you do/dont do in ME3. In ME2 you are simply railroaded into doing silly and dumb things by an organization that is silly and dumb. Cerberus is dumb in both ME1 and ME2, and the set up for why you are working for them leaves a lot to be desired (Alliance just doesn’t care. Why?)

          You could argue that the true reason is that everything is happening in terminus and no one in Citiadel space can do things there, but you’re a spectre. or were. This game is so frustrating in all the things it changes for mostly no reason, or bad reasons (rule of cool).

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            How is it unfair to justify the story by the direction they took with it? Isn’t the main complaint of Shamus’ stuff so far that ME2 didn’t follow up on 1 ENOUGH?

            Regarding 2, all your important story missions are launched based on Cerberus intelligence. If you were a Spectre, you wouldn’t have that knowledge and wouldn’t know what to do. You’d basically be Ashley/Kaidan, waiting on a planet to get Shrek’d by the Collectors. Yes they could rewrite the story entirely to make Shepard discover all those details himself, but wouldn’t that just add to the complaint that Shepard is too useful and knowledgeable while every other actor in the galaxy is useless?

            1. Joe Informatico says:

              All they would have to change is that Shepard was willingly going undercover into Cerberus to get access to their intelligence, and that a couple of her masters on the Council and/or Systems Alliance were aware of it. At least then Shepard comes across as a proactive and intelligent operative (you know, the job both the SA and the Council supposedly recruited her for?), not a tool of terrorist schmucks.

            2. flyguy says:

              Well, Shamus’ stuff certainly seems to be saying that ME2 didnt follow up with what ME1 put out, but the complaint here is that ME2 doesnt justify a lot of its story elements well in game. ME2 in these articles (so far) isnt being judged by what happens in ME3, because it comes later.

              If you could somehow go back to before ME3 and play ME2 at that moment none of this would come off well, and most would be jarringly silly. Your roomate coming in and saying, “don’t worry, most of it makes more sense and gets refuted in the next game” would be infuriating. This is why we cant use ME3 as a crutch. Even if we did it makes this game pretty poor to rely on another separate entry to make parts in its own story swallowable.

              My point on being a spectre is that you’d have more of a free hand. Its up to the writer to decide what you do and dont know. The writer tells you its only Cerberus that has this intel, not the alliance. Its the writer that tells you that the alliance and citadel is just putting everything on hold and sweeping it under the rug. Shamus’ point at the end of ME1 is that this really cant happen.

        4. Shamus says:

          “They're working FOR ME.”

          That’s what the dialog wheel says, but it’s NOT what Shepard actually says. Which is why people get so angry in these conversations.

          1. Writiosity says:

            And this is what we have to look forward to in Fallout 4 now, yay. Along with panromance options, because lord knows we needed this Bioware touch in a game series that should be about rebuilding civilisations, but instead has been turned into the gaming equivalent of a Michael Bay movie.

            And this time it’s unlikely Obsidian will be bailing us out ;_;

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Ugh bioware romance coupled with bethesda writing.Can it get any worse?

              1. Writiosity says:

                Only if Bioware teamed up with Bethesda. *shudders* Bethware, what an awful thought.

              2. acronix says:

                Certainly looking forward to the karma dispensers that reward you with a spicy scene or fade to black for giving them purified water.

                1. djw says:

                  Would you still get good karma if you used the bottled water to get sex?

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Ah but you didnt use it to get the sex,its given to you freely as a reward.Because thats what grateful people do when you help them out.Just ask ride to hell retribution.

          2. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Argh yes, and its so frustrating trying to explain that to people on the Bioware boards. They carry so much water.

      2. Sartharina says:

        Project Overlord: You pistol-whip the lead researcher with a Cerberus-supplied pistol, while showing up on a Cerberus-built ship, while dismantling the project.

        Several other assignments give you the option to upload sensitive data to the Alliance instead of

        Oh yeah, and you get to blow up the Collector base, and force Cerberus to sift through wreckage, then fly off in your Cerberus ship with your Cerberus crew.

        And as a final “Fuck You, Cerberus”, you can have everyone survive the whole mission, which I think violates the core principal of Cerberus.

        You also meet a lot of colorful people on Cerberus’ dime.

        Is there anything in ME2 you wouldn’t want to do? Aside from maybe get ambushed on the Collector’s Dreadnaught.

        Without Cerberus, you’re crewless, shipless, and moneyless on a mission against a shadowy force, with no leads to go on. Your own team is mostly apathic.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Project Overlord: You pistol-whip the lead researcher with a Cerberus-supplied pistol, while showing up on a Cerberus-built ship, while dismantling the project.

          Which you get sent to do by the leader of cerberus.Basically you get sent to deal with a rogue cell.So you are working for cerberus,not against them.

          Several other assignments give you the option to upload sensitive data to the Alliance instead of

          Yes,those are specifically the things Ive mentioned,because no matter how much of those you do,it amounts to nothing.Alliance doesnt thank you,cerberus isnt harmed by it in any way,you get money and xp either way,it is literally meaningless.

          Oh yeah, and you get to blow up the Collector base, and force Cerberus to sift through wreckage, then fly off in your Cerberus ship with your Cerberus crew.

          Which Ive also specifically mentioned as being meaningless because they still get to collect that base whatever you decide,and both the ship and the crew(only few of whom were cerberus to begin with)add to literally nothing when it comes to bringing harm to cerberus.If you skip me2 and assume this is the same normandy and crew from me1,you will find very little evidence to contradict that notion.

          And as a final “Fuck You, Cerberus”, you can have everyone survive the whole mission, which I think violates the core principal of Cerberus.

          Ok,I concede to that.

          Is there anything in ME2 you wouldn't want to do? Aside from maybe get ambushed on the Collector's Dreadnaught.

          Work for tim.Listen to ashley whine about me not calling back.Not shoot tim in the face the very first time I see him.Have miranda as a second in command.Not strangle tim in the absence of a weapon to shoot him with.Collect grunt instead of his scientist creator.

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            As I recall, I don’t think you ever meet TIM in person in ME2. He’s communicating from his secret ship you don’t find until 3.

          2. Trix2000 says:

            About the face-shooting… don’t you not actually meet the guy in person at all until ME3? And that’s at the end, when you CAN shoot him.

            Unless I’m remembering wrong, every interaction you have with him prior is through communicator.

            EDIT: Dammit Shoebox, beat me by a hair. :/

  13. Zak McKracken says:

    I bet that most story arcs were written independently and possibly before the main one, so most writers would not have known that the player is now working for Cerberus (which would have been a very very sane thing to assume).
    I also suppose that something needed to happen to Shepard and the crew in the beginning of the game to force the player to assemble a new team — that’s a really good hook for sub-arcs, and introduces new players to the team.

    … and then somebody had this terrible terrible idea with the Cerberus plot twist and messed all of the rest up, big time.

  14. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Without Jacob, the writer wouldn't even have the fig-leaf excuse of, “Maybe Cerberus isn't as crazy as you've heard.”

    Which is a shame because ME3 reveals that Jacob, Kelly, Ken, Gabby, Joker and Dr Chakwas were all hired by TIM to be people to make Shepard feel good about this mission. The clues are there in ME2. If you ask around, aside from Miranda and MAYBE Jacob, nobody in the crew has actually done much with Cerberus. Kelly had only been in for a very short time. Ken, Gabby and Jacob were all ex-Alliance who quit because the Alliance was trying to bury what you found. And naturally Joker and Chakwas were hired specifically for this mission.

    I liked Jacob as the guy who says “I get why you don’t trust us, I don’t like us either but we’re getting things done right now.

  15. Mormegil says:

    The loyalty missions were what led me to think of ME2 as “Daddy Issues – The Video Game.”

    Miranda – my daddy is a kidnapper.
    Jacob – my daddy is missing. And a psychotic rapist.
    Tali – my daddy is a scientist and I want to kill some robots.
    Grunt – my daddy is an evil scientist and I want to kill some monsters.
    Jack – my daddy is a cabal of evil scientists and I want to kill everything.
    Thane – I am a bad daddy.
    Samara – my species has no male sex but somehow I still manage to be a bad daddy.

    Out of the three that are left we have:
    Legion – the robot that clearly doesn’t have a biological parent.
    Mordin – is too awesome to have normal people problems.
    Batman/Garrus – somehow they managed to not give him parental problems (I don’t know how they dropped that ball).

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Remember, in spite of having no male sex, Asari still often have “fathers” because they usually “breed” outside of their species. Although since all of Samara’s daughters are Ardat Yakshi, she clearly had an asari mate or mates (it supposedly only happens to purebloods which is part of the reason for the taboo.)

    2. Tom says:

      I couldn’t help but think of it as “Planescape Torment In Space” sometimes – both games centre strongly on you gathering powerful, unique characters about you who are each tormented by their personal flaws or curses, some of which are parental issues, and several of the characters correspond quite strongly to each other. You’ve got Jack & Ignus, the unstable mage/biotic made incredibly powerful by abuse, for example. You’ve got Garrus & Dakkon, noble warriors crippled by a catastrophic loss of self-confidence. You’ve got Nordom & Legion, analytical hive-minded robots encountering and struggling to deal with the chaos of independence for the first time. Other characters share very similar themes, though less directly so, for example the generational conflict between succubi characters and their parents, i.e. Fall-from-grace and Morinth.

      1. djw says:

        Planescape Torment had incredible writing coupled with (lets be honest) mediocre to bad gameplay.

        ME2 has wildly uneven writing, and (IMO) pretty good gameplay. So I’d call ME2 “Inverse Planescape: In Space!!!”

        1. MichaelGC says:

          Spaaacescape!!: Botheration.

    3. SlothfulCobra says:

      Legion is part of an entire species who had another entire species as a bad dad.

      The entire reason Garrus is in C-Sec instead of becoming a spectre is because of his own dad, who was in C-Sec and hated the spectres (for a good reason, from what we see of spectres in the game). If you have the shadow broker DLC, you can also find out about his mom who has medical issues.

      Heck, even before and after ME2 everyone has daddy issues.

      Wrex – His daddy wanted the Krogan to fight to the last instead of building a working society
      Liara – One of her parents was never their for her, and the other one was evil. I’m not sure which counts as which
      Ashley – Her grandaddy shamed her entire family in the eyes of the military.

      And then in ME3 there’s:

      EDI – Her daddy was the Illusive Man, who’s about as bad a daddy as you can get
      Blast ThickNeck – His daddy abandoned him and his mom

      1. Gordon says:

        Blast Hardcheese!

        Big McLargehuge!

        Stump Rockfist!

        Dirk Vanderhuge!

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Vega is even more deserving of those names than Reb Brown.

        2. StartRunning says:

          Can’t… resist…

          Roll Fizzlebeef :3

      2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Regarding Liara, they actually did a really good job fleshing out her backstory. Her “mom” (Matriarch Benezia) was a genius diplomat who resolved conflicts with empathy and dialogue. When she saw how much of a problem Saren was, she agreed to join his crew in order to work her magic. Unfortunately, his ‘ship’ was actually a Reaper so instead SHE was the one worked one (while still resisting enough to explain herself right before the end).

        Her “dad” is the bartender from 2 who was actually a powerful Asari leader in her own right, cast down from power when she tried to use her power to get the Asari to begin tinkering with a Mass Effect relay to figure out how to make them for themselves. That interest in “Prothean” (actually Reaper) tech clearly influenced Liara’s career path, whether Liara knew it or not. And if the Asari had listened to Liara’s dad, the Reaper threat may have been possible to foresee as well…

        1. Henson says:

          No joke, that Asari Matriarch bartender is my favorite character from ME2.

          1. swenson says:

            Aethyta is the best, it’s true. And she’s half-krogan, no matter how much Liara insists that’s not how asari reproduction works.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              The only problem with her is that you meet her at random.Because its a small galaxy.

              1. Mike S. says:

                She’s there watching Liara. You’re there meeting Liara. (You don’t know that initially, but odds are that TIM knew Liara was there and would take an interest when you landed.) It’s still a small city in which of all thr gin joints you walk into Aethyta’s, but it’s not cosmically random.

                1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  And the good thing is, they reveal why exactly when it would be helpful to explain the coincidence.

              2. Slothfulcobra says:

                I like it when they don’t shove interesting characters down your throat though. It stops them from being tiring and overused.

      3. swenson says:

        I always forget James exists…

        If he’d been in ME1 or ME2, I’m sure I would like him just fine, but it’s like “here is a team of neat people you already know, plus some random guy”–of course I never built up a relationship with him, how could I?

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          James was a failsafe if you had killed Tali and Garrus and didn’t buy the DLC to make sure you’d have 2 people to go on missions with you. They also wanted a new guy who could ask the “new guy” questions for players starting on ME3.

          Despite all that, I think he’s a fun character who had a good VA by Freddie Prinze Jr.

          1. Falterfire says:

            You don’t need him to ensure you have a party – You get Liara & EDI on Mars, giving you a full team immediately with no need for a new character.

            1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

              In the mission TO Mars, the team is Ashley/Kaidan + James. Afterwards, Liara joins and Ashley/Kaidan leave. Then after like… one more mission EDI joins. So it’s mostly the beginning of the game. Plus it gives bottom scrapers (people with no Tali, no Garrus, no Javik, and who kill Ashley/Kaidan rather than recruit them) at least one person to trade on and off the team, instead of being stuck with a forced team comp for the entire game.

              1. Zombie says:

                Javik doesn’t come until you can actually choose where you want to go, so after you’re done with the Citadel for the first time. So he wouldn’t be available either.

            2. Zombie says:

              EDI comes after you go to the Turian moon. So up until that point, you’d have two characters, Vega and Liara.

              If Garus is alive, Liara leaves when Joker radios down about the ship having power fluctuations, otherwise, she stays with you and says some sad stuff about Garus.

        2. Trix2000 says:

          I had a similar problem with him the first time or two I played, but in my recent run-through I actually talked to him a bit more and he started to feel like a real character to me. I think it helped that I saw him a lot more (him cooking eggs is the image that always come up for me), that I played Citadel this time around, and because I was FemShep he always called me Lola (which stood out for some reason).

          So I do think there’s a lot to like about him now, but he’s crowded out a bit by all the other faces and events happening when he’s just a regular guy. It’s easy to pass over him (not unlike Jacob, in a way).

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Nice thing about the “Lola/Loco” designation he gives you is that you can immediately tell him to knock it off if you hate it/find it disrespectful/whatever and he RESPECTS this instruction for the rest of the entire game.

  16. Fizban says:

    After ME2 murdered me and stuck me with a bunch of idiots I wasn’t sure I was gonna see any of my old not crappy party members again. They may have fangasmed it up a bit, but the moment I got up those stairs and Garrus was all “hey, I recognize you,” I was like “Oh thank god Garrus never leave me again.” Mordin’s great, but if they didn’t give back Garrus on Omega I’d have hated the game much longer.

  17. Zekiel says:

    I may have said this before, but THIS is why ME2 is my favourite of the series (and one of my favourite games full stop in fact). Bioware are (generally) *excellent* at writing characters that are fun to talk to, and in this game the whole game is structured around you recruiting them and then solving their personal issues – aka the best bits of all other Boware games. Not only that but Mordin is probably my favourite Bioware companion since Jan Jansen, Garrus is objectively awesome and lots of the others are pretty great too (just don’t talk to me about Samara).

    Even boring old Jacob gets a fantastic line – something like “good deeds are like pissing yourself in dark pants. You get a warm feeling for a little while but nobody notices.” :-)

  18. Writiosity says:

    “There’s no ‘you’ in team.”

    You’re right, there isn’t. But there is a ME :)

  19. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I’m curious with any of you. Once you accept that this plot is broken, shouldn’t you reach a point (assuming you continue) where you say “well the plot is already broken so it doesn’t matter that this next bit of stupid is broken.”

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      But it does matter.If you just accept something as broken without ever searching as to how and why,how will you be able to avoid such things yourself?Or recognize signs of it in other works(so that you dont get as angry/disappointed by them as well).How and why are very important questions,and often very interesting.

      1. Writiosity says:

        Yeah, and this is of course why history repeats, because so many people think it’s not important to learn from the past’s mistakes.

      2. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Right. Its fine for Shamus’ critique to go ahead and highlight all of these problems. I’m just saying, while you’re playing, are you able to reach a point after accepting the brokenness of the game where you can enjoy what remains even if it seems to further break things?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I dont know if its possible.It took me some time to cool off after finishing it before I could go through it again for the enjoyable gunplay.It helped that I squeezed 3 runs through the original in that period.

      3. Trix2000 says:

        While true, I don’t think this is as important when you’re in the middle of the experience. Provided it’s still enjoyable on some level otherwise and you can hold onto immersion.

        I have no problem looking back on games like ME2 and saying “they did X things wrong”, because the game did make a lot of mistakes that we should avoid in the future. But it didn’t stop me from enjoying the experience anyways because of the parts they did right.

    2. djw says:

      I can accept a broken plot as long as I enjoy the game play. This is why I liked Neverwinter Nights 2, even though that door really was one of the most stupid plot doors in the history of stupid plot doors.

      ME2 was similar, since I actually kind of liked the shooty parts.

      Now, I would have liked it better if they had managed to fit those shooty parts into a game that didn’t completely betray the plot of the first game, but I did like it enough to play it through twice anyway.

    3. Theminimanx says:

      If it’s a single point of failure (say, working with Cerberus), I can generally get over it. Unfortunately, Mass Effect has a habit of constantly introducing new (and stupider) plot points, which I then also have to get used to. *cough*fuckkaileng*cough*

      1. djw says:

        I’m sure there is variation from person to person on this, but the many points of failure in the plot of Mass Effect 2 did not stop me from enjoying the game, because I liked the game play.

        I haven’t played ME3 yet, so it is still possible that I will find Kai Leng to be enough to make me rage quit. However, with all the build up about how bad he is, I might manage to enjoy it anyway since I will set my expectations really low before hand.

        Contrast this with (for instance) Ultima 9, where the plot sucked, the writing was a complete failure, the game play was very bad, and the super fancy graphics (for the time) were horribly optimized. I could never get past the first hour or two before I rage quit that game.

  20. SlothfulCobra says:

    The thing that united all the loyalty missions to me was that you go to a place and you either let your teammate kill some dude, or you step in and tell them not to.

    Garrus – Sidonis
    Mordin – Maelon
    Miranda – That guy who’s Miranda’s friend
    Jacob – His poppa
    Legion – In his case it’s overwriting the heretics, which is like killing them.
    Zaeed – Either help kill the founder of the Blue Suns and kill a bunch of facory workers in the process, or don’t.
    Kasumi – Destroy what’s left of Keiji or not.
    Jack – Kill the dude who was trying to rebuild the project.
    Grunt – I think you get the option to not kill the rival tribe leader, Michael Dorn, although there’s no reason not to.
    Thane – Stop Thane’s son from killing a dude.
    Samara – Technically you ALWAYS have to kill somebody, but you do get to choose whether you keep Samara or the sociopathic serial killer alive.

    Tali’s the only one who doesn’t fit into the pattern.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Legion’s option is brainwash the Geth Heretics (brain death) or just kill them outright with an explosion. So your favorite flavor of murder basically. How this transfers over to 3 is actually pretty neat though.

      1. Tom says:

        I never saw it that way, putting me at total odds with the game’s morality system on that quest. The plan was to use the same mind-virus mechanism that corrupted the geth to restore them to the way they were before that. The game clearly poses this as equally immoral to the original corruption because it uses the same mechanism, but you know what we call using a virus to undo its own effects in any other context? A vaccination. Perfectly moral if you ask me.

        1. Gordon says:

          No, as I recall there wasn’t anything that had “corrupted” the heretic Geth. the way Legion explained it, it was just that a minor difference in their brain structure led to a slightly different mathematical conclusion which led to the broad conclusion that allying with the Reapers was a good idea. Which is really just a technical explanation for disagreement within a species.

          The brainwash was something else entirely. I agree with Shamus that the brainwash is poison to their society going forward.

          1. Tom says:

            It’s been a while, but I thought the minor difference in brain/processor structure was supposed to have been induced by reaper indoctrination, and actually a fault that gave mathematically incorrect results to the calculation so that it would tip the balance. I could be wrong, I’ve not played in ages.

            1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

              The results are “incorrect” to Legion’s (larger and friendly to organic life) faction. Legion’s results are “incorrect” to the Heretic Geth. It’s a matter of perspective. It’s less like “they’re adding 2 and 2 and getting 5” as “they value incredible power NOW over the ability to decide our own future forever.”

              1. Tom says:

                Really? The impression I got from the dialogue was that adding 2 and 2 and getting 5 was *exactly* what they meant. Or, more like, adding 2.0000000001 and 2.0000000001 and getting 4.

                1. guy says:

                  It’s equally possible that Legion’s group was adding 2 and 2 and getting 4.0000000002.

                2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Well from Legion’s perspective, they’re adding 2 and 2 to get 5. From the Heretic’s perspective, Legion’s group has the wrong inputs, it’s actually 2 and 3 to get 5.

                  Or something like this. The point being, you can’t be WRONG on an opinion, even if you’re a robot. Some opinions are TERRIBLE (let’s join a group of exterminators and kill all organics!) but it’s not necessarily logically wrong. Just not preferable or something like that.

                3. Keeshhound says:

                  If you rewatch this spoiler warning episode (I advise muting it and reading the subtitles; the hosts can be distracting,) around the 7:50 mark Legion actually says it’s not an error in either case.

                  The analogy used is “Heretics say one is less than two. Geth say two is less than three.”

                  1. Slothfulcobra says:

                    I really want to see Legion do an entire standup routine about the Heretics now.

            2. guy says:

              No indication that it was externally induced, and there’s no real way of knowing which of the two is mathematically correct; it’s a precision issue and the error could be in the mainline Geth rather than the Heretics.

    2. Khizan says:

      There is no non-lethal option in Grunt’s loyalty mission. Uvenk talks trash about “You can join my clan because you are good at fighting, but of course you wouldn’t be allowed to breed because you’re a filthy tankbred” and then of course Grunt has to kill him.

  21. Bropocalypse says:

    I think something to remember is that in ME1, your team grew more naturally than in ME2. In the first game, you collect your team because you need specific jobs done. In ME2, you’re told to collect them, and so you do because they fulfill needs that nobody could possibly know. It’s like if you were trying in real-life to rob a bank on Mars, and on top of that you don’t know what kind of layout the bank has, what kind of defenses are in place, what it contains or even where exactly it is.

    1. Raygereio says:

      I think something to remember is that in ME1, your team grew more naturally than in ME2. In the first game, you collect your team because you need specific jobs done.

      Ehm, not really.
      The only squadmate you recruit in ME1 for a specific job is Wrex (taking on Fist). But once Fist is dead and Wrex completed his bounty, the game gives zero justification for why Wrex sticks around.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Because you are shepard.He is wrex.It just feels natural.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          I nearly exploded in laughter in Citadel when Wrex/Grunt went nuts doing this.

      2. Falterfire says:

        No, the only person you hire for a specific duty is Liara who you specifically visit to find information about her mother and Saren and then keep on board because she ends up being an expert on Protheans.

        Garrus joins you because he’s a loose cannon who is tired of playing by the rules. Tali joins you because she’s effectively backpacking across space and asks to hitch a ride. Kaiden & Ashley are with you because it’s literally their job.

        You don’t seek out Wrex – He asks to join YOU because he doesn’t want somebody else killing Fist when it’s his bounty. You didn’t seek him out, you just happened to bump into him.

        1. Raygereio says:

          No, the only person you hire for a specific duty is Liara

          You don’t seek Liara out for that though. As you said: Shep goes looking for thinking she might have info on Benezia.
          It starts as an intel hunt, not a recruitment drive.

          You didn't seek him out, you just happened to bump into him.

          Barla Von (and Garrus if you recruit him before Wrex) will mention Wrex is down C-Sec and that it would be a good idea to talk to him since he’s after First as well.
          So unless you sequence broke and just went to C-Sec despite being directed elsewhere, Shep totally sought Wrex out.

          1. swenson says:

            You get directed to both Garrus and Wrex, and if you go to one first, nobody really tells you “hey, go see the other guy too”. Many players (like me) easily could’ve gone to Dr. Michel’s clinic first, picked up Garrus, and gone with him directly to Fist.

    2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      ME1 is the polar opposite of “natural team growth”. It’s so unnatural, you can actually just not recruit a large part of the team without realizing that this is something you’ve done!

      Wrex is asked to help the group fight a crime lord on the Citadel. Once this is completed, he basically decides to come with you for whatever random thing you do next (out of boredom) and the team can’t find a polite way to say no to the Krogan (or decide that his power makes up for his unmotivated non-reasons for coming along). He’s so unmotivated, it’s relatively simple to just sort of… not get him.

      Tali is rescued by the team because she has a recording vital to proving Saren’s villainy. Once this issue is resolved, the… slightly older than teenage (?) girl is invited to come on this military operation because… um why not? It’s kind of nutty, and yet she’s a forced join, unlike…

      Garrus is actually the most motivated to join. He opposes anti-human racism practiced by Saren and is frustrated in his ability to prove the problem to his superiors. As a Turian, he has the most natural connection to humans (although the connection is antagonistic at times) and his background makes him quite qualified for membership in the team. And yet, the game allows you to just ignore him completely, despite his MUCH more thorough connection to the mission than Tali’s. This is so silly that they handwave the whole thing when you meet him again in 2, assuming that the destined Shep/Garrus bro bond is too strong for small details to bother it like… never having met the guy before (even when being romanced, Garrus is still a bro, just fyi).

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Once this is completed, he basically decides to come with you for whatever random thing you do next

        Not true.Yes,he wants to show gratitude,but its more that he has an interest in your hunt for saren.And why would you not accept the help of a skilled krogan mercenary that offers his services for free?

        Once this issue is resolved, the… slightly older than teenage (?) girl is invited to come on this military operation because… um why not?

        Because you are going after geth,and she has already proven that she has expertise when it comes to geth that far outmatches anyone in a few parsec radius.So your options are to go against them blind,try to find another quarian willing to help,or take the one right there that already helped once.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Not true

          Actually, yes it’s true. Wrex has zero motivation for sticking around after finishing of Fist’s bounty.
          If that gratitude thing or Wrex having an interest in Shep’s hunt for Saren is expressed anywhere in the game then I haven’t seen it in 5+ playthrough of it.
          And yes, Wrex does have an interesting in hunting down Saren after Virmire, but we’re talking him staying after immediately after Fist’s death.

          As far Tali. Going of your argument, it would have made more sense for Tali to go work with some anti-Geth R&D taskforce, instead of joining a military op.
          Also when Tali asks to join you, she says “You saw me in the alley, Commander. You know what I can do. Let me come with you.” Her sales pitch doesn’t mention her Geth expertise at all (which admittedly would have made sense) and instead she tries to present herself as being useful in combat.
          Yeah, I’m not sure Tali remembers what happens in that alley. Because what I saw was Tali falling for an obvious trap, her throwing a grenade that did no damage (literally: she tosses it as two Salarians who after the cutscene show full health) and cowering in a corner for the entire fight. Not exactly inspiring badass material.

      2. Mike S. says:

        I think you meet Garrus in the Citadel Tower before talking to the Council, even if you ignore him thereafter. And if you didn’t recruit him Shepard says a surprised “Garrus Vakarian?” on Omega instead of a delighted “Garrus?!?”, acknowledging that he’s a relative stranger in that case.

  22. Spammy says:

    All of these teammates playing to Bioware’s strength of character dialog.

    And at least 80% of them are completely useless to you because they stay on the ship and do nothing.

    Banpresto actually figured out how to make large casts not feel useless. The Super Robot Wars strategy RPGs have always been massive crossovers, but I think Z2 set a record for number of units you got, waaaaay more than you’re allowed to deploy at once. So you can send the people you didn’t deploy out to raise money for you (somehow) or hit the training to work on whatever way you want to improve them.

    But in Mass Effect 2 everyone gains XP and I never really felt like the mining system was useful so there’s no real reason to use or not use anybody beyond “Eh, I feel like this is a Jacob mission.” You don’t get a mechanical benefit from deploying people (besides the obvious) and you don’t get a benefit from letting them stay on the boat and do something else.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yup,I always thought that it would be much better if you could use all of these people for some other stuff while you do the main mission.And to be fair to me2,at least in the final mission you get to do that.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        Agreed. It always bothers me when games have significantly larger casts of party members than you’ll ever conceivably use. The concept of ‘benching’ people just seems so wrong – why’d we bring them along in the first place?

        It’s why I prefer systems that either let you bring everyone along or encourage swapping somehow. My favorite example was actually Breath of Fire 4, in which you had six party members and three combat slots… but the remaining three were just behind the screen and could be swapped in at-will (and even contributed from the back line sometimes).

        One of my biggest complaints in Mass Effect was that you only got to bring two party members, and for all appearances anyone you didn’t bring along did NOTHING. This was a big issue for me in ME3 when I had people I wanted to bring besides Tali/Garrus, because I couldn’t decide when I should switch – there was nothing encouraging me to.

        1. Slothfulcobra says:

          I really hate it too, it’s basically the game outright telling you to pick and choose favorites, because there’s no way they’re going to let you like and use everybody.

          If only these games where they throw all these characters at you let you use all of them at once.

        2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          The game eventually handwaves this by bringing Shepard’s entire combat teams from 2 AND 3 to the Citadel DLC mission. The firepower and skills on display are so overwhelming that the various subteams start joking and making a race out of the firefights. The enemies are horrified and basically give up the fight.

          1. Trix2000 says:

            Which is part of the reason I really liked Citadel (among other things). I really got a kick out of it when they get in the car leaving the crowd of squadmates looking so forlorn… Especially hilarious for me was that I ended up taking Wrex and Tali, which meant Garrus the love interest got left behind… and of course, had to comment about it. :)

        3. swenson says:

          This is what was so cool about assigning people to do stuff during the suicide mission, because it actually DID matter who you sent (and there were wrong choices).

          I wish there was more of that throughout the game, although I understand it could be hard to balance and make it feel like it was meaningful choices. But even something like assigning a squadmate to lead another team during a mission, and if you chose poorly you’d be swarmed by more enemies (or less, if you choose well)… or maybe like you could send them to disable weaponry or communications among your enemies, and if you picked someone non-technical, they wouldn’t be able to do it.

          Then again, this would make picking people for the suicide mission trivially easy because you’d already have figured out who’s good at what job.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Then again, this would make picking people for the suicide mission trivially easy because you'd already have figured out who's good at what job.

            How is that a negative?Isnt the whole point of introducing mechanics like that to get you prepared to use them better later?

            As to how it couldve been done,someone way back proposed that instead of you scrounging for resources while dealing with whatever your mission is in A Place,you would send others to do it for you.For example,you get 3 pings on a planet,one being the main mission,the other two giving you some random stuff(one would yield a weapon,the other resources,for example),and you would pick all three teams,but lead only the first one.If you pick correct people,you get the stuff,if you pick wrong you dont get it.You could also have random side quests at times to do something in main mission to help them,or them doing something to make your mission easier(like in me1 and virmire).

            1. swenson says:

              Now I wish I could play *that* game, instead of the one I’m playing…

    2. Spammy says:

      Actually I forgot another thing that Super Robot Wars does to make the large casts work, and that’s having route splits where say half of the characters will stay on Earth to do a thing while the other half go into space to do space things, because everyone being in one place doesn’t make sense if they could be securing multiple objectives at once by splitting up.

    3. Bronn says:

      Yeah, that’s something that Bioware forgot to do with this series. Normally there’s something in the story that justifies the max party size mechanic, but in Mass Effect, it’s entirely gameplay that’s completely isolated from the story. The only justification you get is that you don’t really want to draw notice by having 8 heavily armed people wandering through Omega.

      But I think about the mission where you have to recruit Tali. Before your group even lands you know that there’s a massive Geth army on the ground. There’s no logical reason to leave everyone else on Normandy while three people go to fight a massive Geth force.

      Likewise, wouldn’t it have made a ton of sense on the Collector Ship mission if you took a ton of people over and left 4 people to guard the shuttle? It would require no changes to the mechanics of the mission, and it would actually demonstrate Shepard being cautious and using some amount of strategy to explain how she escapes the Collector Ship. As it is, all we got is that the Collectors are really crappy foes who can’t properly ambush Shepard and can’t even blow up the undefended shuttle to trap her. Sometimes you need your hero to be clever to avoid having your villains look stupid.

  23. Flip says:

    I think you missed the worst side of Jacob.

    When I played ME2 for the first time I – like many other people – found the beginning confusing. And then Jacob comes along and actually explains some of the craziness that has happened in the first 20 minutes. He proceeds to be a generally nice guy during the tutorial mission and Freedom’s Progress. But once you get the Normandy he starts being an ice king, just like how Miranda is an ice queen for the first two levels. They basically switch personalities:

    Miranda is unsympathetic early and better later (esp. if you romance her).
    Jacob is nice early and unsympathetic later.

    In Miranda’s case you could at least argue that she starts to trust you and therefore opens up. For Jacob, this is unexplained and I actually felt betrayed by the game: What happened to the nice guy from the first two missions?!

    1. Raygereio says:

      The worst side of Jacob comes up if you did the romance with him (No idea why anyone would, but that’s not the point) in ME2.
      When you then meet up with Jacob 6 months later in ME3, you find he never even tried to contact you (unlike for example Thane) and made another woman pregnant.

      I mean… really dude?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well you were gone for 6 months.What do you expect from a guy?To wait for forever for you.I mean he waited for at least a couple of weeks before finding another woman,what more do you want?

        1. Falterfire says:

          I dunno, maybe to try to stay in touch at least? You weren’t dead for those six months, you were just under house arrest on Earth (if I remember correctly). Unless I’m forgetting something, there’s no reason he couldn’t have gone to Earth with you.

          1. Raygereio says:

            Jacob actually was on earth. He mentions spending some time in Mediterranean. And yeah, the not-even-attempting-to-stay-in-contact-bit was made me frown.

          2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Jacob was Cerberus personnel, he would have been arrested like Miranda would have been if he tried to enter Alliance bases. Shepard and his other Alliance comrades got a pass on this due to connections with Hackett and Anderson (but some of them ARE still in trouble, like the engineering duo who you have to personally pardon to get them back).

            1. swenson says:

              There’s a magical thing called “email”.

      2. Henson says:

        I actually kinda like this plot point, if only because it goes against the ‘wish fulfillment dating sim’ aspect of Bioware games. Yes, you may be attracted to someone who isn’t good for you, or who can make bad relationship decisions. It happens.

      3. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        That part actually goes along with the relationship. Fem Shep flirts relentlessly with Jacob (whether the player tells her to or not). If you pursue the hookup, it comes off as just that, a casual hookup between coworkers. Jacob doesn’t LOVE Shepard, so when he finds someone he DOES fall in love with, he dumps Shep without a second thought. Sucks if the player was into him, but… it’s very easy not to be.

      4. Slothfulcobra says:

        It’s better than romancing Kelly only to find that in ME3 she gets shot.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Well, someone didn’t talk her and gave some sensible advice.

        2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          With the correct advice (don’t go around calling yourself by the same name that’s on your Cerberus W2… you moron), Kelly will be fine. I do feel she got SEVERELY shortchanged by 3 compared to other returning characters from 2 like the engineering duo. She’s a character that every single Shepard interacted with dozens and dozens of times, but because it’s possible for her to die, they give her about 15 lines of dialogue, a frankly insulting “romance” scene option, and another chance to be killed off.

  24. Irbis says:

    Yeoman Kelly is a manic freak? I beg you pardon? I don’t doubt you, but based on what, out of curiosity? I must have missed that part.

    I am sorry, I couldn’t feel for Jack’s plight in particular because if you pursue Kaidan’s backstory in ME1, we learn he killed one of his teachers for torturing his fellow students. We also learn that Alliance, in their rush to have biotics, basically took group of normal teenagers, locked them in concentration camp, and started giving them space Alzheimer’s by outfitting them with highly dangerous L2 implant. Oh, and when the inevitable problems surfaced, Alliance abandoned the whole lot making most of them so disillusioned and desperate they joined terrorist groups. How is that supposed to be any different? The same way Ashley gets a pass despite quoting Cerberus verbatim?

    In comparison, Jack had abuse, but none of the equipment problems and a lot of her ‘warp’ is her post-Cerberus time. So, blaming current Jack’s status on Cerberus when they are at best partly responsible and her upbringing in the official channels would be most likely *worse* for her is going kind of too far, I think.

    By the way, both TIM and Miranda claim the experiment was run in non-authorised way so I would also disagree with notion it proves anything about Cerberus. Maybe except for, surprise surprise, that it’s hard for clandestine dispersed organizations on the run to be thoroughly controlled from the top. Shocking, isn’t it? Yes, what was done was terrible, but nothing tied to biotics in ME or ME2 is lily white, sadly.

    “If the writer wanted to make Cerberus the least bit interesting they could have demonstrated that the scientists were actually onto something”. But they did. Repeatedly. Jack was Subject Zero – other biotic kids were tested for biotic enhancement procedures, successful ones were tried on Jack in an effort to understand human biotics and perfect the methods for creation the strongest, best possible biotics (presumably next Subjects would be made without all the suffering and trials, that’s the point of test run, after all). Sadly, none of that could come to fruition because Jack escaped, but in the end, they *did* have something Alliance couldn’t achieve with mirror methods even despite Turian help. Jack clearly proves that, by still beating current, most modern Alliance biotics twenty years later made on hundred times the budget.

    As for Samara (whose name is hilarious for anyone from central Europe), Morinth or Miranda being anywhere near Jack’s replacement I have to disagree too. Game also disagrees, seeing two out of these three aren’t strong enough for ideal completion of biotic phase of suicide mission and out of two best candidates, Jack’s threshold for success is lowest. She is by far strongest biotic in game (without faulty L2s, at that) and I suspect she was outlined as potential recruitment candidate purely on that status (does Cerberus even know she is escaped SZ?). You treat recruitment as stupid, but that was the whole point of the recruitment mission – Shepard is to go, see if she could make good asset, if not, Jack is either shot or returned to prison. Since Jack proves to be useful, she gets a pass, until Shepard decides to do anything else with her. She is essentially working for Shepard, not Cerberus. Should we have had that choice jacked from player instead?

    If you want objections, why not question Kaidan’s loyalty to Alliance? Or for that matter, for any of the aliens working for Human government? If anything, anyone working for Cerberus is much easier to swallow, thanks to no pesky red tape, regulations, or anything besides money coming in the way of things, IMHO. Yes, it’s illegal, but so are in real life aiding and abetting foreign powers (and especially their military forces) without consent.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yeoman Kelly is a manic freak? I beg you pardon? I don't doubt you, but based on what, out of curiosity? I must have missed that part.


      By the way, both TIM and Miranda claim the experiment was run in non-authorised way so I would also disagree with notion it proves anything about Cerberus.

      Yeah,but they claim that about every time they do something wrong.So you cant really believe them.

      1. INH5 says:

        But I believe that in Jack’s Loyalty Mission in particular, the video logs do have the scientists worrying about “if the Illusive Man finds out how far we’ve gone…” So unless Cerberus came by and altered the logs after Jack escaped (and if they could do that, you’d think that they would have destroyed all evidence of their experiments), that would indicate that in at least this one case, the “rogue cell” excuse was true.

        Which, of course, doesn’t make Cerberus look much better, since there are only so many times you can have experiments blow up your face before any sane person would start thinking “maybe we should tighten the regulations on our mad science procedures.”

  25. Thomas says:

    Jack probably is the only (human) biotic in the universe good enough. Miranda isn’t and she was genetically modified to be good, and Jacob isn’t either. That also suggests Cerberus did achieve their goal to boost her powers despite everything else.

    I wasn’t a fan of her until I took her with me on missions in my most recent playthrough. She’s got some great background dialogue, I think the voice actor absolutely kills it. When she’s on the collector ship for the first time and she’s clearly disturbed by whats happened but she’s trying to brush it off Shepard: “It’s not fair.” Jack: “Life’s not unfair” [but really unsure of herself]

    I never realised why you couldn’t arrest Sidonis, your explanation makes so much sense

  26. Ringwraith says:

    I suspect they didn’t have Jacob mention his previous exploits and how he came to be in this current employment as that’s the plot of a book.
    Not defending it or anything, just saying it’s probably the reason.

    Although you’d think providing some details might get some people interested in it.

  27. evileeyore says:

    So Shamus what happened to mouse-over note number 1?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      It got eaten by the script bug.But you can still see it on the main page.,desperately trying to get free.

  28. StartRunning says:

    Cool read, Shamus. Thanks.

  29. mechaninja says:

    Does anyone else ever wonder if the doctors ever cry themselves to sleep at night when they see what a monster their child has become?

    I mean, cry themselves to sleep on beds made of gold and the most expensive, high thread-count imported silk sheets, wiping their tears Woody Harrelson style with large bills, obviously, but still crying themselves to sleep?

  30. RCN says:

    The saddest thing about the Paragade system, regarding “Renegade as Pragmatic”, is the fact that they paint Cerberus as the apex of the Renegade ideology.

    “Renegade is sometimes doing the wrong thing for the right reasons… so we will show this by showing you a company of loons that always do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons and FAIL so consistently that they should be doing a better job at offing themselves than any council armada could ever hope to.”

    For a game that tries to mix the optimism of Star Trek with the cynicism of Firefly… they really botched the side that shows that blind wide-eyed idealism sometimes fail. Nope, only pragmatism fails. ALWAYS.

    BTW, really laughed here at the “Jacob had a lower Cerberus casualty average than the usual cerberus personnel despite actively trying to sabotage Cerberus.” Really nails the character.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      I think a large part of the complaints about the Renegade system is that people assume a “true” or “pure” Renegade has to take every Renegade prompt, no matter what it says. When actually, there’s VERY OFTEN a chance to disregard one Renegade option (say, the option to say something racist) and follow that neutral choice up with a more effective Renegade option (pulling rank or being very strict).

      Example, in the interviews you get in each game, you have the Renegade option to punch out the interviewer. While this is pretty funny, many people see it as insane and stupid in the context of an on camera interview. You can, INSTEAD, just give a very harsh interview, challenging her assertions and making strong comments of your own, without coming off as a psycho. This is also a Renegade choice. I played a full Renegade trilogy play where my crew was deeply, deeply loyal and friendly to me while the galaxy understood that obstacles or enemies would be simply shot dead if they tried to become a threat. (You get… A LOT of chances to just shoot people playing Renegade)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        If I remember correctly,you can make something like maybe 10% of “the wrong” choices in order to maximize one of the two bars by the end of your first playthrough,so technically you do need to play a complete asshole or a complete idiot if you want to get all the options open.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          However, having a 100% bar is not required to make those decision gates. In every game, there’s a perk that makes you more effective when trying to make these “influence” checks and the hardest checks in the game are based on you having said specific things (you need to interact with the Illusive Man in a certain way ALL game in 3 to succeed at a certain choice). I’ll just say that my Paragon or Renegade Shepards NEVER made a decision I disagreed with and yet were able to use their influence in every case.

          My Renegade chose NOT to sabotage the Genophage cure for example, and that didn’t hurt my “rep” so to speak for anything else I chose to do the rest of the game.

  31. LibertarianSDR says:

    I wonder if one could have re-written ME2/3 and keep Cerberus in but in a very different form than what we got.

    begin alternate history
    1. Cerberus remains as a rogue black ops group. i.e. no retcon on their organization

    2. They discovered the Reapers early. Possibly before Shepard. This would explain the super soldier projects and experiments with the Rachni. They wanted numerous and powerful ground troops. For defense against the Reapers.

    3. It wasn’t their idea to be labeled as a rogue agency. Say, they reported their findings on the Reapers but Sovereign had gotten to planting indoctrinated agents into the bureaucracy, TIM started purging affected government posts only cementing their reputation as a terrorist group.

    4.Some of the purging had been based on false data made by indoctrinated agents still within Cerberus after the split. Explaining away Rear Admiral whats-his-names death. And would explain how Saren got into a lot of secret projects like on Noveria.

    5. Thresher Maw from Shepards’ Sole Survivor start was a Cerberus operation but the orders were vague. But was the first clue that Indoctrination was a thing as the team lead carried out the orders in the most psychotic means possible.

    All of these could have made the Cerberus sub-plot a bit more believable and use previous plot threads as presented in ME1

  32. RCN says:

    Just found this gem:

    Every time I get more and more disappointed that I didn’t get Zaeed. He buddies up with Garrus! Why did he have to be DLC? He looks WAY more interesting than Jacob and would have MUCH better reasons to be with Cerberus by the game’s start.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Zaeed is pretty awesome. He doesn’t have a recruitment mission, which is sad. But he has some very amusing war stories (most of which end up with him being the only survivor).

      I kinda wish I’d got the Citadel DLC cos it sounds awesome. But it hits the same problem most of these DLCs do – it came out months after I’d played through the game twice, I’d finished both Shepards’ stories, and I had no interest in doing another run.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        You can play Citadel with a game completed save. If you have any interest in the series still, I would highly recommend it, it is the best DLC in the series despite some strong competition.

  33. Zaxares says:

    This is going to sound crazy, but… I think I actually now understand what TIM and Cerberus is all about.

    TIM is still batshit insane, but there’s actually a method to his madness. All of the Cerberus cells that seem to be criminal and/or outright evil are specifically chosen BECAUSE they’re criminal and evil. What TIM is trying to do is obtain knowledge and research data from avenues that are considered too extreme or unethical to be performed by normal people. Often these avenues result in dead ends, but on rare occasions, they DO provide breakthroughs, such as in the case of Jack, or (later in ME3) on Horizon.

    What I think is going on is this:

    1. There are actually 2 parts to Cerberus. You have the inner core, which consists of the Illusive Man and a highly competent and skilled cadre of administrators and money-men who bankroll the entire operation and decide which cells to support and sponsor.

    2. Then you have the individual cells, who typically each control one particular project. One was Project Lazarus, headed up by Miranda Lawson and which was in charge of resurrecting Shepard. Another was Project Overlord, which was in charge of finding a way to control AI intelligences like the Geth. And a third one again was the Project that resulted in Jack. Each of the cells is usually strictly segregated and isn’t aware of the existence of any other cells.

    Because these cells are the ones that Shepard tends to encounter, they give people the impression that Cerberus is evil and corrupt and constantly screwing up (which they often do, because they’re pushing the boundaries of known science and are essentially operating in unknown territory).

    3. As soon as a cell accomplishes what it set out to do (or self-destructs because the Project was too insane or dangerous), TIM then sends out a highly skilled acquisition squad (headed by Kai Leng or similar operatives) to salvage what he can, then depending on the Project’s outcome, either folds up the cell and terminates everyone involved, or reassigns the operatives to new Projects.

    This meant that TIM might very well have been building the massive army we see in ME3 for a very, very long time, but nobody in the second game, even Miranda, was aware of this, because we only ever saw the outer layer of Cerberus, and not the true inner organisation.

  34. cassander says:

    It’s not an original idea, but if you combined jack and miranda, you’d have a hell of a lot better character. Jaranda would start as TIM’s ass kicking, cerberus loving, biotic right hand lady. During the game you discover some unpleasant chapters in Cerebrus’ history, but she always has a plausible explanation on hand. Then you have a loyalty mission where you learn about the ugly, failed attempts that preceded Jaranda which ends with Jaranda becoming personally loyal to Shepard rather than Cerberus. Later, that personal loyalty matters greatly to the plot. Maybe even include jacob too and have Jarandacob be a bit of a “humans firster” who may, or may not, modify her views based on your actions.

    After all, if you’re building a whole damned game around the idea of loyalty missions and shepard being a “bloody icon” you’re going to want to end it with something like shepard destroying (paragon)/taking over(renegade) cerberus. You’d never just throw away all that thematic weight in the last act for some emotionless suicide mission. Oh, wait….

  35. natureguy85 says:

    This is the first one I have substantive disagreements with.

    Garrus: I don’t see killing Sidonus as right or letting him go as wrong, not that the opposite is true either. This is because the mission is not about Sidonus; it’s about Garrus. This mission is not about punishing a criminal; it’s about moving on and the decision is whether to do that through vengeance or through letting go, perhaps even forgiving. Notice how Garrus will be loyal either way.

    Jack: While you can still argue it’s stupid from a risk/reward standpoint, the third option is that this is a convenient way for Cerberus to get Jack back. If you did make that argument, I’d remind you this is Cerberus, after all.

  36. TheDjinni says:

    “While Shepard was dead, Garrus built a team of badasses to fight crime. That team was betrayed and murdered by a guy named Sidonus. If Shepard chooses to to help out then you have to track Sidonus down and give Garrus his shot at revenge.

    The game actually does a terrible job of making this clear, but the problem with Sidonus is that his crimes were perpetrated on Omega, and there's no system to extradite him there. It's like trying to have someone arrested in New York for a theft that took place in Antarctica. There's really no way to do this “by the book” and have him thrown in jail, which would be the paragon choice.

    So you can allow Garrus to assassinate a criminal, or you can let the criminal go. To do justice, you need to break the law. If you let Sidonus escape, then the game backs out at the end and the news reports that Sidonus turned himself in and the authorities are trying to decide what to do with him. This feels like a bit of a cop-out, but I guess the writers were afraid of offering the player a choice between “Do the satisfying thing and get renegade points” and “do something completely frustrating and unsatisfying for paragon points”. Although, the entire series is kind of notorious for screwing renegade players like this, so I'd argue it would only be fair.”

    What? How was the paragon choice for Sidonis “unsatisfying”? Your characterization of him as a “criminal” who “murdered Garrus’ team” is completely inaccurate. It was heavily foreshadowed that Garrus was unjustifiably upset at Sidonis, and then when you pick the Paragon option Sidonis heavily hints that he was pressured in some way into letting something slip about the team that led to their deaths, that he really wasn’t the cartoon-villain Judas that Garrus was painting him out to be, and that he’s been guilt-ridden about it ever since. I figured what he did was something along the lines of him getting captured and tortured or having his family threatened, but ultimately it is left up to player speculation (probably because the mission is about Garrus; either he accepts his losses or gets revenge; whether murdering Sidonis is ultimately justified or not is not really the point). Having “there’s probably something more here, let’s have a talk with Sidonis and see what happens” in the back of your mind the entire time and then having that suspicion pay off is the definition of satisfying.

    “If the writer wanted to make Cerberus the least bit interesting they could have demonstrated that the scientists were actually onto something. If the audio logs showed a team gradually drawn down this dark road by the results of their study and against their better judgement, then this might make a sort of “ends justifying the means” thought experiment. This could then tie into TIM and Cerberus by asking the question, “How far would you go to save the entire human race?””

    …Well they didn’t do that, but they establish that the reason why they did the things they did is that TIM is an ends-first, means-never kind of guy; he demands results and never looks too closely at what people happen to be doing to get those results, which inevitably leads them to take drastic measures when they have to while allowing him deniability (both to himself and to Shepard). Which is another way to make things interesting.

  37. Bronn says:

    Coming to this months later (but off a fresh playthrough) I’ll cast a vote as pro-Jacob. Not that I ever romanced him, even though I always play femShep, but I liked that he wasn’t a cliché fest. He had some lingering daddy issues, but honestly, he wasn’t super bothered by them. He wasn’t a boring badass, he just seemed like normal guy trying his best to do the right thing. In a different story, Jacob is the protagonist.

    He is relatively boring, I suppose. But I do like a lot of his in-battle commentary when you bring him along. It takes guys like him and Joker (well, those two engineers count too) to keep the story grounded. If everyone you meet is some legendary badass (Zaeed, Garrus) or psychotic killer (Jack, Zaeed, Grunt, possibly Miranda), the world just feels too shallow.

  38. Skabus says:

    I really like your analysis on this amazing franchise so far :) Really enjoing reading it. Thank you for that. :)

    But I have to say, that I don’t really agree with your argument, that Cerberus “don’t get shit done”, and Jacob saying this is not enough.

    Actually, Cerberus get things done. Maybe it is just not as good as it should be, but for the para-military terrorists are, they get a lot more done, than the alliance ever do. Sure, the writers want us to believe, that the alliance is incompetent, and you know what? I buy it. Why? Because it is not just a lame excuse from the second game, this is how big multi-international military organizations work in my experience. Slow. Full of bureaucrats and hypocrite, who say, that they do their best, but in fact they don’t. Even in the first game, you witness several problems, caused just by the way the alliance solve things. And it continues trough the second and even the third game. Yes the alliance do things, and they are successful to a certain degree, but they don’ act, they just react, and that’s it, what Jacob means by that, and i think he is right. For people who want to do something NOW, they get frustrated with command chains, bureaucracy and moral principle, standing in their way to do things now and think later for the consequences.

    What did the alliance do in the 2 years of shepard’s death, anyway? They don’t find his/her corpse, they don’t find the normandy, they don’t case the collectors, they don’t try to recruit guys like Garrus, Tali and all the other good and compete crew members, because this is the way they solve things. By reacting, if something went wrong. If everything seems to be all right, they just sit there and wait. Cerberus is a bunch of a-holes, that’s for sure, but you can’t deny that they do the things, the alliance was incapable of.

    But sure, thats just my point of view :)

    1. Zarma says:

      The problem though is that, except for finding Shepard’s body to res, Cerberus doesn’t do a thing either. Well, nothing which isn’t disastrous, counter-productive, or both. So yes, Jacob merely saying that they do things while the only arguable Cerberus cell which isn’t running around getting indoctrinated by playing mad scientist is yours isn’t enough: either they show you other Cerberus cells do something useful, or your recruitment is a fluke and Shamus is right that Cerberus is a murder circus.

  39. Tyranius says:

    I would just like to add 2 things:

    It’s unfair to call Cerberus idiots for what happened at the facility Jack was imprisoned. They go out of their way to show how TIM did not have a clue on what was going on there. He’s not liable for a bunch of scientists gone rogue.

    As for

    His backstory of “I left the Alliance to work for Cerberus because the Alliance couldn't get things done” is desperately in need of details.

    It’s actually not. This is evident in the game when the Alliance barely does anything against the Collectors. Shepard under Cerberus is what beat the Collector threat while the Alliance sat twiddling their thumbs.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      He's not liable for a bunch of scientists gone rogue.

      Which would be fine if this were the only case of a rogue cell that tim knew nothing about.But when the organization is littered with these like in this series,tim is either an idiot for allowing the majority of his organization to do stuff behind his back,or because he asks stupid things from his subordinates and then lies about it to seem smarter.

    2. Shamus says:

      Hoo boy are you in for a rough ride for the next 32 entries.

  40. Quotebot4000 says:

    “[sic] …hanging out with Jacob in Mass Effect 2 is like going to the zoo…”

  41. Smehur says:

    It’s KaidAn, not Kaiden. And SidonIs, not Sidonus. How am I to take your analysis seriously if you couldn’t be bothered to check the basic facts? I’ve been enjoying this so far but these consistent mistakes annoy me to no end.

    1. Shamus says:

      How am I supposed to take your comment seriously when you’re ANGRY about SPELLING?

      I’m a human being. I make mistakes. Protip: You can let me know about typos and spelling errors without being a jerk.

      In fact, I insist.

  42. stonebrood says:

    didn’t you just say the person you were quoting on thermal clips was using a tone you didn’t endorse? i struggle to see how your tone here is much different

  43. stonebrood says:

    hey good job on not getting upset about child death this time

  44. Tarrodar says:

    actually I found recruiting Jack to be the best move. I was, and am, still anti cerberus throughout the entire three games. if they want to foot the bill for medical and ship expenses let them. Recruiting Jack, back then, was smart; I was expecting the terrorists to betray me and getting as many anti cerberus people onboard increased my life expectancy.

    There was this dialog between Jack and Miranda near the end that causes me to laugh every time i reach it. It actually removed the ‘loyalty’ stamp on Miranda so that she dies at the end. Each and every time I make sure the cerberus agent dies; got to make the universe a better place ya know. Jacob? He is some farm boy who represents the mooks of cerberus, the poor unknowing mooks. Miranda is so much higher up (actually in the same room as the illusive man) so making sure she goes down while preserving the innocent left me feeling good at the game’s end.

    Also why I did not give them Legion or the Collector Station; That would be helping… HELPING CERBERUS!!!

    ya know… that group of terrorists. failed medical and scientific operations in ME1? Set up a threasher maw trap for military scouts? Ringing any bells yet in ME2 author heads?

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