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Mass Effect 2 Day#5: Stories of the Normandy

Day 5 really shows this game off. The fights are generally challenging and quite fun. There are a few nice set pieces that make for interesting levels. Also, the writing totally lives up to Bioware hype this session. The main plot has a bit of a formula, but the characters are quite good and I feel like I have a good amount of control over the direction of the story. Kudos to the game for bringing its writing A game. Spoilers within.

I talk to Anderson again before leaving just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. He tells me that the Citadel is still under repair. The Keepers really help although no one knows why. The Keepers are such an interesting angle in this game; I keep waiting for the game to have a plot around this. Conversation finished, I go try to shop for ingredients for my chef fetch-quest. Along the way, I get involved in pickpocket accusation where a lost credit chip leads one NPC to accuse another of theft. I agree to see if I can find out what happened. I have to say that the stores in Citadel are very nicely done in terms of emulating real-world advertising. Entering into a store, I use my Paragon action to get a discount by offering a testimonial to this product I’ve never heard of.  So I get Paragon for selling out to advertising? Interesting ethics there. I do find the ingredients and also a bunch of other stuff, including a bottle of brandy for the ship doctor. I find the missing credit chip and get the accused pickpocket redeemed. The accusers make some snide comments and I chew them out for it. Last quest done, I head back to the Normandy.

Once there, I bond with the doctor over the bottle of brandy I got her. This is really nice dialogue. The doctor is convincingly slightly drunk, and has a real heart-to-heart conversation with me. Well done, Bioware. There’s more talk with Miranda that goes well. I check out my cabin, but there’s very little to do there, so I leave.  I go to the galaxy map to get back to mission. It’s back to the mass relay and then on to get next group member, a convict on the prison ship Purgatory named Jack.

I get a CS of ship landing and people watching me arrive. When we do, there’s a showdown over keeping our weapons with the guards. I win this fight, but I don’t think there’s any way I could lose.  We walk to pick up Jack and the head of the colony shows up around. Along the way, we see a CS of mechanical arms moving cells around, and a CS of inmates being stopped. There’s a point where we walk past a prisoner being beaten and I Paragon a guard to stop it. We arrive in a room that the warden sends us to, and then the doors seal as the prison guy tries to capture us for ransom. We fight our way out and push a button to open a cell in the main prison and free Jack, who is a crazy, biotic-charged, tattooed girl. She CS charges robots and blows a way out of the prison area. We have to go get her. That involves fighting through the destroyed prison. The fights aren’t too tough, but I die because I can’t figure out how to use my healing packs again. This is followed by more fighting as I weave through the ruins, and the chase ends at a CS of guy in charge sniping people. This is a big fight where we take out the big guy and his goons. When we win, there’s a CS where Jack sees ship and seems upset about Cerberus. I have a conversation with Jack, but she’s a thug and seemingly awful person. I lie to her about giving her access to her files, which convinces her to come with us. She ends on a threatening conversation, and we’re out.

Back on the ship, I get an email message from my old lover from ME1, but no information on her location. I touch base with crew as usual, but there’s nothing special. I talk to Jack — she was raised in a research facility by Cerberus and  wants revenge. She offers a chance to go pirate when we finish this mission. I kind of refuse.  Nobody else wants to talk and my conversation request gets a snide response from Jacob, so I head out. I start by doing some mining. This is a mini-game where you run a scanner over a planet watching for spikes in an energy meter in the interface. When you see spikes, you send a probe down to claim the resources. There is literally no decision-making; you just check to see where the spikes are and then click to claim them. It’s a okay grind activity, but it’s not at all fun. Once I get a few more resources this way, I go to get another character for the party.

I land on a war planet basically looking for a krogan warlord. It’s fighting for the start, but it’s easy.  I find a wounded merc, and use Paragon to have him send his unit away. He reveals that they were fighting the krogan. I leave him and  meet a krogan spawn on the battlefield. He’s one week old but fully grown. He’s an interesting character who reveals where I can find the krogan leader. More fighting on my way there.  Why can’t I ever fucking heal when I want to? I die a couple times fighting loose krogan. I bypass a door once past them, which seems to get me further in the level than if I hadn’t made the bypass. After this, there is lots of fighting that I get through without difficulty. Once past that, I meet Rana from last game (I let her go from evil lab in ME1) who claims she’s been helping Okeer (the krogan in charge) and doing no harm this time. I go through a couple of doors after her and meet Okeer.

The conversation with Okeer starts interesting as he remembers that in ME1,  I caused the plague that stops krugan from breeding.  He doesn’t blame me though because he thought Saren’s Krugan were corrupt. He’s been doing genetic engineering to make a good soldier, but he doesn’t want to end the genophage — he just wants stronger survivors of it. While we’re talking to Okeer, the mercs fill the room we’re in with poison gas. I have to after Jedore (the merc leader here) to stop the gas. This is unsurprising more fighting, and I die once because my team drops the ball and doesn’t guard an entrance. After that one death, I get things straight and then beat Jedore.  I head back to the lab, but Okeer is already dead. His prototype still fine in the stasis pod he’s in, so we take that back to the ship, and that’s this mission.

Back on the Normandy, I tell the crew I’m keeping Krugan on ice while we decide whether to kill him or let him free.   The illusive man wants to talk so I set up a communication channel with him. He tells me the  collectors are after a colony called Horizon with Kaiden (one of my allies from ME1) on it. There’s CS of a scientist who has something on a planet talking to Kaiden and a few others. We’re heading to Horizon which is about to be attacked, and there’s a  CS attack on Horizon as collectors arrive.  One collector on ship appears to be in charge and possesses one of the collector agents on the planet. He says he is preparing humans for ascension, and as the swarms paralyze people, the collectors begin picking them up.

We land on the planet to investigate; I take the aliens with me because I know they are immune to collector detection. There are new husks here — not the humans they kidnapped though. I fight the collectors and husks, who are not as tough as I expected. There are frozen humans everywhere and they are creepy. As I walk along, I find a locked door and bypass it. Inside, I CS find survivor who tells me about a defensive network. I  leave and head to the defensive station, which I have to take over. I killed by the possessing big evil as I come in, and once past that fight get killed again by husks  5 times as I try to get to the defensive cannon. Once I finally defeat that battle, I do a successful hack to get in contact with the Normandy (interesting, what would have happened if I failed?). They are getting the towers on line to fight the collector ship, but I have to hold enemies off as they do. It’s some hard fighting but we finally get towers up as a big nasty arrives. I die again 4 times trying to beat it. Once I do, the tower scares the collector vehicle away — it gets half the colony, but not all of them as it leaves. I see Kaiden once the battle is over. He’s upset that we are at Cerberus.  I make the we’re-fighting-the-collectors defense, but he’s accusing Cerberus of maybe being behind it.  He goes back to the Alliance after dissing me.  Shepherd’s pissed and so am I as the level ends.

We cut to a visit rom the Illusive Man. He let it slip that we were with Cerberus, so he basically set up that attack to draw out the collectors.  He’s setting up the omega 4 relay and we may not return, but we’re ready to go when we have our team.  I tell him to stay out of my past when he pushes me about my allies. The scientist Mordin tells me there’s more to his story — krogan were overcoming the genophage,  so he was involved in creating new one with a team of experts.  Jacob got a message from his father’s ship, which sent an SOS 10 years after it disappeared. He wants to investigate it. I talk to Miranda and she wants my help to find her sister whom her father is also hunting. Looks like everyone is going to have a mission for me. I talk to Jack — she tells me more about how she’s a badass and that’s all. I also investigate the unconscious krogan we picked up. I decide to open the tank, as I figure I need the allies I can get. When the pod opens,  he attacks me. I convince him we’re going to fight good enemies.  He cares nothing about cause, but the prospect of a good fight gets him to back down, and the fact that I secretly had a good leveled against him wins me some points.

I resource hunt for a while, but it’s boring. I decide to go to help Jacob first, but as I ‘m scanning this last planet, I find a merc base and the game wants me to switch to DISC 2!!!!!!, There’s CS of guy smoking as we land, and we disembark ready to fight. We clean up the mercs pretty handily and find another protean log — the first I’ve seen in ME2 — which shows the collectors being destroyed.  The subplot done, I get back to Jacob’s quest. We land on Jacob’s dad’s planet and find the SOS beacon. It was delayed due to an emergency situation.  Jacob’s dad made captain when the old captain died, but we don’t know what happened. We see the crashed ship and enter it — neat camera angles on the ship, but not much more than logs of people going crazy from eating local food.  We find a survivor, but she’s crazy. There’s a qt event to save her from attack by a group of hunters. We fight and defeat the hunters, and then enter a village of only people. We learn here that the officers ate good food, but made the crew eat local brain-rotting food and used the women effectively as sex slaves. Jacob’s father sent mechs after mutineer and thus killed all of the other officers. We  fight our way through these mechs and meet the dad. He’s very real evil, corrupted by power and convinced of his innocence. I have a lot of choices of what to do with him, from taking him back to the station to shooting him dead on the spot.  I choose to leave him to the hunters and rescue the rest of the crew.  Jacob says his father is dead as we walk away, and there’s  a creepy end as the hunters approach and punch the dad. That’s the level end.

We’re back with the illusive man after the cut, and a final conversation reveals that Miranda forwarded email to Jacob in return for an old promise. He’s loyal now which unlocks a new power.  I take some time to upgrade the ship — this is apparently what the resources I was mining are for. Boy, the upgrading interface sucks. Each upgrade I buy kicks me out of the menu and I have to start over for every upgrade. I talk to Jack, and she blames Cerberus for her torture and wants to blow up the abandoned base where it happened. I question if it was Cerberus that tortured her but I agree to help her. I also talk to Grunt. He says he’s going to try to care about his people to give his life some purpose. There’s a  theme growing in this game of being made for a purpose and the question of earning strength — you see it in Shepherd’s resurrection, Miranda’s engineering, and Grunt’s background.  Mordin tells me some of his old team captured, and I agree to his loyalty mission to help them out. Having talked to just about everyone, I decide to call it a night.

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