Below you will find a Q&A between Lauren and myself in which we had a casual conversation over Mass Effect 2 and what we liked and disliked about the game, or expectations going in, and our outlook on the future of the series. So take a look if you are a fan of the series or gaming after getting pumped with one of the best video game trailers in recent memory.
Zac: What was your least favorite part of Mass Effect 2?
Lauren: It’s really hard to come up with anything that I didn’t really like about the game because it was such an improvement in every way over the first game, but if I had to pick something it would be that I couldn’t take out my space hamster and play with it. No, just kidding. Other than Zaeed’s character, the worst part was going to planets to send out probes to collect minerals because it kind of throws off the momentum of the game. And then I would feel like a douche bag when it told me I had depleted it. But as long as you do this sporadically throughout the game and don’t leave it to the end in order to get the remaining upgrades then it doesn’t really become that much of an issue.
Zaeed was alright, I thought it was lame that they skimped out on his dialogue options though. Anyways, the mining for minerals was cool, but there was way too much of it to be done. Mining was a step up from the previous aimless driving around the planets but to get all the upgrades you had to do a lot of it. I also didn’t like how you couldn’t replay missions and if you missed something you were just screwed. Now this is understandable for a few missions, but every one is a closed off area you only can visit once? Lame. My least favorite character was Zaeed as well though I think, maybe you are right. Mordin was my favorite I think though.
Lauren: What was your favorite improvement to the Mass Effect series with the second game?
Zac: My favorite improvement? I liked the scaled back nature of upgrades, but didn’t like that there was limited access to them, either collecting scarce credits in the game or using large amounts of elements. Though, this was much preferred then having to sell or reduce countless items to omni-gel. I also loved the added wealth of characters, but I wish there was a tad more dialogue opportunities for each and a bit more time with them before heading off on the suicide mission. I recruited Legion and then, wham only one thing left to do. The graphics were also a huge step up and might take the cake as biggest improvement.
Lauren: Yeah, I agree completely with all of that. I was so relieved that there was no hammerspace this time around because it was always so frustrating to go through everything I was toting around to figure out what I wanted to upgrade my weapons and armor with and then go sell it off if you were getting close to the 150 limit. I would say my favorite improvement was to the side quests. They were no longer freakishly repetitive where you have to travel goodness knows how far across these planets in a mako that will just slide back down the mountain when you try to get to something at the top, only to finally reach a bunker that looked identical to the last one you were in on some other planet. Though I completely agree with the lack of dialogue opportunities because I don’t know how many times I went to talk to someone after returning from a mission only to have them say the same thing to me they had the five times prior, I will say that integrating their stories and lives into the missions was one of the best things to happen.
Zac: Did you feel like the game was too easy? Or the fact that no one really had to die in the game made things a bit disappointing after the fact?
Lauren: Difficulty wise I would say the game was far from being too challenging, especially if you take advantage of the improved cover system, but honestly, while I was playing it I never really noticed because I was so immersed in the story to care. Plus, there were times when I honestly had trouble making a decision, so it wasn’t as easy in that sense. Even in my second play through when I was doing strictly renegade actions there were times when I couldn’t go through with something because I would have felt like too awful of a person. And as for the “suicide mission”: if you make the right choices it is really easy to make it through the game without having anyone in your party die, and though this makes it a little disappointing following the fact, while playing I was pretty tense because I had grown to love the majority of the characters. So again, it’s hard to fault the game for this. At least now that everyone made it out alive in my game there is a possibility that they may show up in the third game, and I cannot wait for that.
Zac: I too agree that I am happy to have everyone back for the next game, but I just find it a bit lame that people only died, based on other impressions around the web, if you didn’t do a loyalty mission or the person made no sense in being put to the task. I mean, why would someone not do the loyalty missions? Anyways the game wasn’t too easy but I would agree with you that it wasn’t too challenging; most of the time. There were a couple challenging spots I will say, but any challenge felt can be to easily undercut with the right weapon, per Mega Man games, right weapon, easy kill. I do think the game made me want to play with varying characters much more this time around compared to Wrex and Garrus straight through like I did in the first game.
Lauren: How did you approach the game in concern to the paragon and renegade character choices? Do you think that the general rule that all the top choices are good and bottom choices are bad hinders the experience of the game because it removes the gray area to your choices?
Zac: I play straight Paragon and I don’t mind that answer placement guarantees one or the other because I want to make sure I am Paragon. In fact, I wish when the pop up’s came up and say that you got Paragon and Renegade points that it said what caused this because sometimes I would get Renegade and be like,” Huh, what did I do?” I do plan on playing through both games as a Renegade sooner or later, but I think I would be in the same boat as you in not being able to pull the trigger on a lot of those options. Speaking of triggers, I did enjoy the Paragon/Renegade pop ups, but I felt like the Renegade ones probably led to much cooler results, don’t know since I never did, and like the added depth to replay the game of going through each path without doing any of the pop up actions.
Lauren: Well let me tell you a little about that. My first play through I played strictly as a Paragon and then the second time around I went with all of (well, most of) the Renegade options, which had both more interesting dialogue and triggers because sometimes it was a little shocking how rude it was (AKA hilarious). Instead of just doing things like hugging someone when something bad happens or keeping them from doing something they may regret later, the Renegade triggers seemed more extreme. Take a little advice from me and you will see exactly what I mean: go talk to the reporter on the Citadel and press the trigger. Your jaw will drop.
Though I will say that overall I sometimes feel like it would be more realistic if I didn’t consciously choose one option over the other because I wanted my character to be good or bad, in the end I really like seeing the extremes of the options, especially because tallying up more points one way or the other allows for more choices in dialogue down the road. But who knows, maybe the next time I play through I will just go trigger happy no matter what the case may be and choose the responses that I see fit.
Zac: Who was your favorite character? What was your favorite OMG moment? What were the stories/carryovers that disappointed the most?
Lauren: It might be easier to talk about who I didn’t like because I thought all the characters were written really well in the game, but I will do my best. For starters, I really liked Miranda and a big indication as to why was because I spent the majority of the game calling her Sarah (AKA she is voiced by Yvonne Strahovski from Chuck). Not to say that I didn’t like her storyline or anything, but now that I think about it, a lot of my biases towards certain characters probably have to do with the voice acting… I loved Joker because of Seth Green and the humor he brings to the table. Plus he gets to have some BA for Joker moments as well, but I won’t ruin the biggest one of these for anyone by explaining it. Then there was Jack, who was intriguing just because of how crazy she is and had some entertaining comments if you took her along with you in your party. Then there was Legion, who brings a really awesome backstory with him in concern to what he represents for his race that seemed so one sided before. And finally, a surprise favorite came with EDI, who doesn’t actually have that much to say, but still makes it out of the game with some of the best lines.
Other than the Renegade trigger moment I mentioned before, the majority of my OMG moments can’t be mentioned because then they won’t carry the same OMG weight for anyone who hasn’t played the game yet. But I will say this: the opening sequence on the first Normandy was AWESOME. Everything is going to poo, things are blowing up around you, and then the chaos goes to silence like in the opening of the recent Star Trek film, culminating with an allusion to Lee being spaced in an episode of Battlestar Galactica. And then we get ourselves a Frankenstein’s monster. I pretty much had a geekgasm.
I would say that my biggest disappointment that carries over from the first game is how all the characters from ME 1 treat you when they learn that you are now working for Cerberus. I understand that it is a pretty bad organization and they have reason to be skeptical, but they should know better about Shepard. And then there was Ashley. Let me preface this one: in this game I usually play as a male because they get the better romance options (because no one wants to get busy with a scaly lizard looking character. Well, someone might… But I didn’t). So in the first game I was involved with Ashley, and was really looking forward to the interaction with her, which turned out to be a complete let down. But whatever, that helped me feel less guilty about moving on (that and the fact that I didn’t want to listen to Ashley quoting poetry anymore). With that in mind I am assuming that this complaint will be remedied in the third game because who doesn’t want to see a love triangle going on?
Zac: Thanks for that dissertation Lauren. My favorite character was probably Garrus or Legion on a bad ass level and Mordin on a talking one. Mordin was just hilarious, every single line he had killed. And the sex talk, hilarious stuff. Though I agree, there was no one I really didn’t like. Zaeed was a bit weak, as was Jacob, but overall no one was loathable like Ashley in the first game, sorry Lauren, she was an annoying B, should have kept Kaiden around. My favorite OMG moment was probably the Garrus’ reveal. Which was way early in the game and while there were definitely more than a few solid moments through out, it was kind of disappointing that the biggest moment for me was so early. In terms of ME 1 carryovers, I was disappointed the most in the lack of Wrex’s role in the game. Though, I understand his role couldn’t be too substantial potentially since he could have died in the first game, it would be cool if the game had a drastic alternative to the story if Wrex lived or died. Oh well, there is always the third game.
Lauren: Don’t you worry, I am right there with you about Ashley. She is an annoying B, and like I said, if she spouted out one more line of poetry I was going to punch her in the face. “Captain, my captain…” Oh yeah? Well your captain is about to hit a girl… I just wanted to have a relationship with someone in my ME 1 save file so that I would have the possibility of a confrontation later. But she is annoying as all else… And I know I could have gotten with Liara, but whatever.
Lauren: Speaking of the importing of save files: do you think this was as great as it was built up to be?
Zac: It met my expectations almost exactly to what I was expecting outside the above complaint. The whole Ashley/Kaiden (I am assuming he had the same role if you choose him) thing was a bit lame, but I loved how the sprinkled the game with a lot of familiar faces and what not. Though, I will say that I felt like there was a draught of many new and interesting characters to carry over to the third game.
Lauren: This is where my love of the little things comes into play. I loved finding people that I had come into contact with in the first game, such as a girl that had a message from the Rachni because I was awesome and didn’t kill them off (PS – do you think the Rachni are going to come into play in the third game?). And though I was disappointed that certain characters didn’t show up again, such as the Consort, I was happy enough if I got a shout out from them in my personal messages, which I thought was a great addition to the game.
Zac: Speaking of the third game, what plot lines are most intriguing to be addressed/carried over into the third game?
Lauren: Other than the love triangle possibility, most of the storyline continuations I am excited for involve some major Renegade choices towards the latter part of the game. So broken record, I can’t mention them. Then I would love to learn even more about some of the characters in your party. I want to see how the whole storyline with Tali’s homeland is gonna pan out as to whether they will go to war to get back their home world, move on, or what have you. Which brings us to Legion and his band of misfits, which I hope gets a more in depth explanation / quests where we will possibly meet more “individuals” like him. Oh! And the genophage! There has to be some end to this whole debacle. On the grander scale, I cannot wait to have a major, apocalyptic batter with the Reapers. And last but not least, to quote my roommate: “I wanna go to Earth!”
Zac: I agree with you on the genophage, the Geth/Quarian issues, but not so worried about potential love entanglements. I hope Garrus finds some peace in the third game, same for Thane, but what worries me is the level of involvement all of these guys are in your party are going to have based on the simple fact that they could all die. What is a guy going to do in Mass Effect 3 if all your party died along the way? So I imagine there will be a whole new set of characters for us to play with and most of these guys will become peripheral to the main plot; which kind of scares me. Going to Earth would be cool, but I could see Bioware blowing it up to open the third game with the reapers surrounding it and going Vogon like in Hitchhiker’s Guide on it.
Lauren: In my opinion the introduction of the Vorcha was kind of weak because they are thrown into the mix, you fight some occasionally, but their species isn’t really explored to the full extent (granted the same could be said about the Quarians in the first game). Do you hope that there will be an even wider spectrum of alien races in the third game, or do you feel like we are set with what we have now?
Zac: The Vorcha did get a short stick in this one, but the fact that they breed like rabbits means they have potential to become a bigger and more threatening force in the third act. I hope there are still a couple of races to be introduced and hope that Bioware uses DLC to introduce them like the Batarians were in Bringing Down the Sky. Speaking of races, who will be the bad guys in the next game? The galaxy is going to have to ban together, all races, and I am wondering if there will be a new evil race ala the collectors in this one.
Lauren: If they do something like the Collectors in ME 2, then they may choose to bring in a new species, which I am more than okay with. However, it would be more interesting if it was a character from one of the first games to come back to haunt us. Like Ashley. She’s annoying enough to do something like that. Okay, probably not… But someone else a little more inclined would fill the role nicely. But I would say that maybe they will choose to avoid the manipulation route this time around and they might just have the Reapers do their own dirty work because clearly no one else is getting stuff done. Or maybe it will be the Illusive Man! I don’t trust his eyes…
Zac: What are you hoping for in future DLC installments? ME 1 was fun but pretty weak and Bioware is claiming there is a lot to come. Are a couple missions ok? Should it serve as a prequel to ME 3? How big should they be, hour-long missions or full multi-hour expansions like Fallout or GTA?
Lauren: At this point I will take anything they are willing to offer to tide over the wait for the third game, as long as the DLC doesn’t detract from the story they created with the game itself. And it better not be like the Pinnacle Station DLC, because that was pretty lame. I played through one set up where you had to tally up how many Geth holograms you killed or what not and the number to beat was about 30 or so, and eventually it got to the point where I had to just stand out in the open and let the time whittle down because I was in the multi hundred range. But I digress… So yeah, random quests are always acceptable, but as time gets closer to the release of ME 3 I would love to get into the prequel-esque subject matter. Furthermore, if they don’t address some of the storylines that I mentioned above within the span of the third game itself, I would love to have DLC post ME 3 for that.
Zac: I hope that we not only get giant DLC packs with new multi planet jumping missions or new plots for existing characters in the game. I also hope the DLC stories lead directly into the plot of Mass Effect 3. Maybe even a non-Shepard DLC pack that introduces a new character that plays a factor in ME 3 in some way would be way cool. Also, a mission that ends in tragedy, like the first ship that encounters the Reapers we see at the end of the ME 2, and you get caught in an all out battle with one of them that leads to the opening of ME 3; that would be cool.
Lauren: Do you really think ME 3 will be the last of the series?
Zac: No I do not, but I think that this will just be the end of Shepard’s story. I really hope the universe stays alive and well for a long time to come and would even like seeing a prequel in the Prothean time frame or something. But no I don’t think it is done, but this arc will be wrapped up.
Lauren: In a word: Agreed. Now bring on a film franchise so I can live it over and over and over again.
Thanks, and join us again next time!