During my downtime in April between settling in from a laborious move and battling the flu, I had a bit of a break and decided to treat myself to a bit of gaming. This was when I decided to break down and try out Mass Effect 2. I had heard so many folks talking about the game that I had to dive in and check it out. After all, one of my gaming weaknesses is the flexibility of choice that will shape the final outcome of the game and the ability to really customize my character the way I want. ME2 had all of these and more.
Imagine my happiness when the experience turned out to be way more than I expected in one game.
If you haven't played ME2 and want to remain unspoiled, skip the next section because it includes some spoily spoilers!
Read more after the jump!
~ Massive ME2 Spoilers ~
Mass Effect 2 begins with an action sequence right off the bat that ties the first game into this edition. The Normandy is a spaceship that gets attacked and leads to everyone abandoning ship. Everyone except Commander Shepard (our intrepid hero be the character male or female) and the ship's pilot Joker. Shepard remains behind to get Joker to safety, thus sacrificing her own life in the process.
After the title sequence, the game gives you an option to play a DLC (downloadable content) extra scene where you can tie ME1 into ME2 based on certain decisions. Being a fan of romance (especially romantic SF) I loved being able to form relationships and get a special achievement for becoming romantically involved with a crew member. And being a fan of dark, dangerous heroes, I couldn't help falling for the sexy, dangerous Drell assassin named Thane Krios. More on him later.
Anywho, based on if you chose a love interest from ME1 and imported it into ME2 via the game itself (after you have played the first), you are still involved with said person which is showcased by having their picture in your Captain's quarters on the ship.
So, how does our Shepard make it back to life for another space faring adventure?
Thanks to a large corporation by the name of Cerberus headed by The Illusive Man (affectionately called TIM in some circles). Shepard is pieced back together but before she can get comfortable in her new surroundings, the facility is attacked by Mechs swarming the area. Shep hears a female voice over the com (later revealed to be Miranda Lawson - a Cerberus operative) who tells her how to arm herself (and thus the player learns how to move, duck, vault over a wall, shoot, run fast, etc).
Introductions are made as Shep makes her way through the facility and to an exit. She meets Jacob Taylor and Wilson, both Cerberus ops. You get the option to inquire more about what's going on and everything before diving back into the fight and finding your way to Miranda (where a surprise is thus revealed and Wilson turns out to be a traitor).
Jacob and Miranda take Shep up to see TIM where you discover the reason why Shepard was brought back: to investigate why human colonies have gone missing and see what is behind the abductions. Eventually you find out there is a race of beings who are harvesting humans to create better beings. On one of the colonies is my Shepard's old flame, Kaidan Alenko. When Shep meets Kaidan, he is glad to see her and reveals he had fallen in love with her. But seeing she has aligned herself with Cerberus, an organization with a rather shady past, he is reluctant to go with her (much less talk with her) so he leaves her behind. Later he leaves a letter in her inbox in which he say he has moved on but still hopes for something more when Shep settles down after the move.
Over the course of the mission, you gear your ship and crew up for the ultimate battle with abductors, named The Collectors. You get to meet many beings on different, gorgeously rendered planets and learn about so many cultures. One of the best things about this series is the vast story and the creativity they put in making each species unique in their own way. You as the player is tasked with gathering a crew of highly trained fighters to go up against The Collectors.
You are also given a choice to romance 1 out of 3 of your crewmembers. I took a peek at the ME Wiki beforehand to see what the options were and I was rather 'eh' about them. Until I played...
Garrus Vakarian aka Archangel turned out to be the best warrior right hand a girl can ever ask for. As the story progressed, my Shep's feelings for him were very brotherly and even though I didn't play the first game, ME2 gave me a good indication for how close they became in the first story. There wasn't a mission I didn't go on without Garrus and his awesome, high spirited banter during the shootouts.
But it wasn't until the mission on Ilium when my Shep became really entranced. At first it was a nuisance to go through so many Mercs to find The Assassin hiding in one of the towers. Each level held a bigger and better threat and it wasn't until my Shep reached her destination with Jacob and Garrus by her side that she witnessed a swift yet graceful execution of a baddie before seeing the smooth operator himself praying over her body. Here is the scene:
Thane Krios is one of the most complex characters in the game. One of the primary characters showcased in the game promo, Thane's dichotomy of balancing his ruthless skill for the kill with a peaceful calm akin to his religion made him all the more interesting. He has some of the best lines in the story and the smoothest, sexiest voice I have heard in a video game!
I must say, it was the character of Thane and the chemistry with my Shepard that made me want to start a fan fic story that continues some events of ME2 and fixed some of the events of ME3. I, like any other Thane fan, found ME3 lacking in wrapping up the character and romance. Not to mention ignoring all the possibilities that were offered to save his character. I wish he was a viable option for romance in ME3. After everything the characters went through, it would make sense.
But I digress.
The Mass Effect series is vast and it has one of the best writing in video games I've seen since Baldur's Gate (yes, I'm a fan!) and the Silent Hill series. The idea of including a romance (and in the case of ME1 and ME3, full on love scenes) in a futuristic video game continues to bring SFR to the forefront of media.
Next up to try on my vid game list is Dragon Age Origins also made by the same company, BioWare. The ME series has really upped my expectations for video gaming. Make me proud game companies!