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Mass Effect 2: More waxing goddamn nostalgic.


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I'm not really looking at the Liara mission for the upgrades, so much as I think my Sheperd really needs to pay her a "I'm not dead" visit. The mission can wait.

Episodic format is fantastic for me. Every segment is almost spot on one hour long; I can do most of my between-mission antics in another hour. Works into my week very nicely.

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I still firmly believe—as fun as my Insanity+ Vanguard and Adept runs were—that Infiltrator is the best class to play this game with. Turning invisible and flanking quickly, then taking cover and getting some deadly crossfire working, was just so intense and exciting. And then when you get the Widow, it's game over for your enemies.

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Having finished my renegade replay of ME1, I've now moved onto 2.

Wow, everything is so much... shinier. The new Normady is amazing. I love that pulsating drive core.


Viktor Shepard is baaaaack! Time to recruit a team. :D


I neglected to ask Tali to join me at the start. Is that her locked out for good now?

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I neglected to ask Tali to join me at the start. Is that her locked out for good now?

Nah...the chance comes up later on. Don't think you can recruit that character right at the beginning anyway?

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If you thought the Citadel Council were a bunch of sanctimonious pricks, just wait 'til you meet Aquaman and his Oceanic Council of a dolphin, a shark, and a sea urchin.

One day, I hope to do this, but in real life.

"That was a bit uncalled for, wasn't it?"

"Don't you get it? THE FISH. ARE. DEAD."

"Oh, okay then. Charges dismissed, you're free to go."

I believe that is also how Batman gets by in the new Christopher Nolan movie.

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I'd forgotten so much of this, including just how bloody good it is. :wub:

It's more fun playing the renegade in this one, too. My facial scars become more pronounced and I swear my eyes are starting to glow red. :unsure:

However, a lot of the options are a little more ambiguous, not least of which the fact that I'm working for Cerberus, a decidedly 'ruthless' organisation in itself - so do I cooperate fully with them, or is that too 'nice' a thing to do? Should I be in it for myself, or for my employer? So far, I seem to be going along with it and mostly picking up the renegade points.

I did help that quarian on the Citadel and got 5 paragon points for it. Didn't mean to be so nice there. I'll have to shoot some people soon to make up for it. I totally punched the reporter woman. Awesomes.

As I've got the DLC from the start this time, I've already

picked up Zaeed and Kasumi, and I'll probably bring the former with me on most missions. I've also recruited Jack, and barely two proper missions into the game and I've already boned her in the lower decks (not a euphemism).

Got Garrus back, got Mordin. I'm wondering if it's possible to do their loyalty missions without them actually becoming loyal. I'm contemplating an "everybody dies" ending, but I'm not sure how to go about that.

Still, for now I've got a krogan to recruit...

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Commander's Log.

Having resolved to prepare my crew for our inevitable defection from Cerberus, I have another chat with Jack. She's still pissed as hell about Cerberus, and now she's found the location of the facility where they raised her. I get her to open up about what it was like there, and she reveals that the place is now abandoned, and it would bring her immense satisfaction to simply level it with a powerful explosive device.

Clearly, she's familiar with my work.

I put that one on the back burner and visit Kasumi. She had confided with me upon her first meeting that she needs to recover her partner Keiji's cybernetic "grey box", both for sentimental reasons and because of the potential impact of the secrets hidden within. Crime lord Donovan Hock has it under lock and key in the Bolzmann system, and is trying to gain access. If I can recover that grey box, perhaps Kasumi will be willing to help me disconnect EDI in return; the first step on my road to ship independence.

I arrived under cover as Allison Gunn, with a reputation of fearitude and a ridiculous outfit. It was a simple-enough heist. Sneak in our hardware using a genuinely terrible statue of Saren, examine the bimetric security, break it, and recover the grey box, hopefully without having to engage anyone in combat. The first round is a piece of cake. I found references to a rotating security password, and charmed Hock into espousing his pivotal role in the grand scheme as a way of getting his voice print. A quick trip across the balcony got me into his private quarters, and after Kasumi quietly dispatched a couple of guards and I not-so-quietly break in through a two-story plate-glass window, I had a DNA sample and a decent handful of Hock's credits. I was to the party before anyone was the wiser, bypassed and fought my way into the security office to get the password, and cut the power to the security field around the vault.

I've got to hand it to him, he was a man of impeccable taste. He even had Prothean sculpture in his collection. Best of all, he had a Locust machine pistol. It's an elegant firearm which deserves to be used alongside my heavy pistol, unlike the other bullet-spewing nuisances Cerberus had hitherto been able to provide. No sooner had we recovered the graybox than Hock's ridiculous accent came forth from a cyclopean holograph. He was on to us, and was willing to let us get this far so he could use Kasumi's own graybox to crack the encryption on Keiji's. He was an arrogant tool to have thought the plan would work, so I shut him up by judiciously harming his collection and he got mad enough to send in the troops.

To suggest that sending all of his forces down in one elevator immediately in front of me was a mistake would be a fantastic understatement. I hadn't used the Arc projector since Cerberus sent it, but I'd taken it on this mission as the discreet alternative to a grenade launcher. Those troops that weren't hobbled by the ensuing light and sound show fell at enormous distance to the Locust's impressively precise weapons fire.

Alas, the rest of our escape was a lot less graceful. Hock had the route to his helipad well-secured with mechs and soldiers, and neither Kasumi nor I are exactly combat specialists. I evened the odds by hacking mechs and dispatching combat drones while gradually pressing forward. It was a slog, but we eventually emerged on the rooftop to try and make our getaway. Hock, of course, decided to get in the way.

Hock is not familiar with my work. Worse, Hock does not appreciate the value in picking one's battles. Worst of all, Hock sent mechs.

That's not to say that the battle was easy, but I think his troops spent more time fighting their own backup than fighting me, and if he hadn't decided to settle the grudge in person in a gunship, he might have one day had an opportunity to try to get Keiji's greybox back. I had to flank like crazy and exploit my armour's agility upgrades to get out of the line of fire more often than I like to, but it was only a matter of time before Kasumi had a clear shot at his vehicle. Its systems were no more secure than those in his home, and down he went. Mission accomplished.

Keiji's greybox contained a message to Kasumi. He implored her to delete the data, so that she wouldn't be a target. The downside would be the elimination of Keiji's collected memories and experiences. I don't know what's in there, but I stand by my crew. If we make it out of this battle alive, I'll have Kasumi's back. I convinced her to keep the data.

She seemed pleased.

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Commander's Log, supplemental.

After I completed Kasumi's heist, Miranda left word that I was to meet her and discuss something. I visit her office and she discusses her family history, revealing that her father had made a second attempt at an ideal daughter, her twin Oriana. Miranda rescued her and placed her with a new family on Illium, but her father has tracked her down. It's time to relocate, and she wants to make sure the transition goes smoothly. Lawson's as loyal as they come; if I can show her the value of Spectre justice, she'll be more likely to take my side if Cerberus (inevitably) turns against us. The Illusive Man also passes along word that he's found Liara T'Soni on Illium, and has intel on the Shadow Broker she may find valuable. His dossiers indicate that an assassin and an Asari justicar are also present, and may make valuable additions to the team.

I set course for Illium immediately.

I take Miranda along , and Garrus for fire support. The place is remarkable, redolent of the Citadel's aesthetic crossed with Noveria's ethics and Omega's respect for life. I'm on a bee-line for Liara's office, but I'm stopped by a stranger on the way. She's an Asari, with a message of thanks from the Rachni queen. The Rachni are hard to understand. My first take on the message is that they're planning revenge against the corporation that created the "mindless" Rachni; their messenger suggests that their remarks relate to the drive for the entire Rachni war. If some outside force drove the Rachni into battle, was it with the intent of seeing them wiped out? Could it have been a Reaper agent? Is this another unknown quantity I've thrown into their plan? I'm hopeful. For now I bid the courier and the Rachni well.

No sooner have I moved on from that when, eyeing a sales kiosk, I'm waved down by another old friend from Noveria, the internal affairs agent Parasini who took down Anoleis. We trade shop talk and she buys me the beer she owes me, leaving me a note that one of the stores is selling stolen bluebrints. I check it out, and after dropping some hints that I'm a big spender after some start-of-the-art equipment, she starts trying to sell me the pilfered goods. Parasini comes over and strongly advises her to get legal advice; I'm just glad that dodgy equipment isn't on the streets. I make my goodbyes and head up to Liara's office.

The changes in Garrus, I could understand. He was always a bit self-righteous, willing to deal out rough justice. Ash's attitude has more to do with my changes than anything else. Liara throws me, though. She's an information broker now, and there's a steeliness to her attitude which I don't recognise. She welcomes me warmly, but gets down to business. She can't leave her work, and all she can give me is a petty job hacking some terminals. I tell her I'll consider it, and leave.

It's a downer. I didn't share recovered Cerberus information with the Shadow Broker; I'm not about to start dealing in ill-gotten information for mercenary reasons now, even for an old friend. If I had a better idea what she was hoping to do, maybe. For now I should get to work helping Miranda's sister. We have a table waiting at the nearby bar. The place is being antagonised by some human troublemaker who turns out, to my considerable horror, to be Conrad Verner.

Conrad is nuts.

He accuses me of pulling a pistol on him - which is a damn lie - and is trying to shake down the bar for its deeds because it's cover for a red sand ring. Some Asari undercover operative put him up to it, he says. I listen to him espouse his glorious mission of discovery, and how he got his hands on N7 armour, resist the urge to punch him in the face, and tell him to sit tight while I take over.

At least he's not bother his wife any more, I suppose.

It'll wait, so long as Conrad doesn't try to shoot up the place, so I make my way over to Miranda's contact. Niket, one of Miranda's associates and the only one who knows about the relocation, has had to take over the transfer. Information has been leaked, Eclipse mercs are holding the area, and we're going to provide a diversion. It's a terrible idea and reeks of a double-cross, but Miranda trusts him too much to question the change deeply. We head in to confront the Mercs.

Sure enough, the engineer who shoots us down and holds us claims that Niket has double-crossed us. Miranda won't believe it. Whatever's going on, they're stalling for time. I break the stalemate by dropping cargo on them and we begin to push to the pick-up point. Eclipse likes engineers. They put up a better fight than I'd expected, but my trusty Locust has us covered, and the Arc projector is delightfully effective in the cramped confines of the docks. I press Lawson for information on her sister, and she owns up that she's a clone who was only a small child when Miranda took her. I chide her for keeping intel from us, try to get her to accept that Niket threw the mission, and press on. There'll be time to settle this later.

We find Niket and the Eclipse commander. Miranda has it out with her old friend. He simply couldn't condone the forcible separation of Oriana from her father, and was just trying to do the right thing. Fortunately, he's the only one who knows about this transfer. This mess can be undone. I stop Miranda from shooting him, but the Eclipse commander wants a fight and murders him instead. This is a mistake.

Oriana makes it to her transfer. I convince Miranda to go and introduce herself, so that she could at least understand that she was in danger. We retire to the Normandy, and I feed my fish and reflect on the way we influence the lives of others. I can't do this if I'm not honest with my crew. My crew can't do this unless they're hoenst with me.

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Unfinished business: I've got an Assassin and a Justicar hanging around on Illium, Conrad Verner is one misapplied adjective away from getting his spine removed, and Liara's determined to stay put. And my fish died.

I go back to Liara's office and tell her that I really can't do what she's asking. She's pissed. Maybe the intel is more than just merchandise this time?

I hit the cargo area to see what's going on. There's an Asari getting serenaded by her Krogan on-again, off-again boyfriend. I'm not touching that one; they're going to have to figure it out on their own. The terminals Liara wants hacked are down here. And, yes, the Asari who convinced Conrad to go make a dick out of himself is here. I tell her I'm with Conrad and to go collect the deed. Maybe she'll get arrested. Maybe someone will punch her in the face. Honest is the best policy, as they say, and when it's out in the open she'll get what's coming to her.

Don't mess with Conrad when I'm around, basically.

Shiala's here! Apparently the Thorian's influence has had some nasty side-effects, including turning Shiala green but the colony is recovering well. Unfortunately they signed up with an Illium-based research agency to try to get treatment, and the contract turns them into figurative guinea pigs. I go have a chat with the local agent about it. She's got a grudge against non-Asari that makes Ash Williams look enlightened, but we talk it out. I ask about her family. One way or another, they've all been lost to the Geth. I console her, but ask her if ruthlessly taking advantage of other species is really how they'd want her to honour them. She relents, and changes the contract. Poor thing.

Shiala is relieved. Very relieved, apparently. I think she might be flirting with me. That was unexpected. Maybe we can have a chat about our shared interests some time: having our brains mangled by alien knowledge and being brought back to life by ruthless monsters against our will. That'll really turn up the heat.

I get to thinking about Liara again. I'd rather do her a few favours and have her working with me again, than leave her doing who-knows-what with stolen data. I hack a few terminals and head back to her office. She takes the information, thanks me with some credits, and informs me that she's still got to stay put and do her work, tracking down the Shadow Broker.

I feel like my loyalty is being exploited.

I leave for the cargo area to do something more productive. I get a lead on my assassin, Thane. He's chasing the two-faced Asari Nassana who fed me faulty intel so I'd kill her sister. I'm not sure I can condone that, and at any rate I'd like to have words before he finishes the job. More mercs this time, but nothing serious. One of them, refusing to cooperate or stand down, rightly observes that I can't shoot him without alerting his buddies; pushing him out the window seems like an agreeable compromise. I free a few grateful, if shaken, Salarians on my way up the tower. Nassana is a smug pain in the ass who is under the misconception that I'm there to kill her. Thane emerges, and wipes them out.

He's used me as a diversion. Settting aside that manipulation, though, he's agreeably direct and open. He's an oddly spiritual man. He's terminally ill, and willing to take on a suicide mission gratis. He's also clearly the ideal man to send down vents. He agrees to join my squad.

Back on the Normandy, I see how he's settling in and find out about his condition. He's got some contacts with good ideas about boosting the Normandy's probe capacity, which I immediately implement. I spend the next few days trailing around the cosmos gathering minerals and pondering loyalty. This team could hardly be more heterogeneous. They won't all agree to my command style, but I hope that my better attitudes will rub off on them. I buy some new fish, some ship models, and blow all of my accumulated resources and credits on new hardware for the ship and crew. I find a cache of smuggled goods defended by a few mechs. I get an email of thanks from Miranda's sister, and the Salarians. We're in fine shape.

I'm starting to feel pretty good about all this when Grunt develops a case of serious rage which EDI can't diagnose, necessitating a trip to the Krogan homeworld Tuchanka, and Mordin takes this moment to reveal that he was part of an STG team that upgraded the Genophage. I tear him a new one for that, but he stands his ground. One of his friends from that time is now being held on Tuchanka, possibly because of his involvement in the development of the new virus. I can't, in good conscience, leave him there to rot, whatever I may think about his actions, so I agree to stage a rescue.

I've got half a mind to just lock Mordin and Grunt in a room together and let the problems solve themselves, really.

I need a release for my frustrations, so I check my mission logs and find one on the "Firewalker" project to develop a planetside vehicle for hot worlds. I've been missing my Mako; maybe I can get my hands on a replacement. Sure enough, there's no sign of the MSV Rosalie's crew, but the Hammerhead is sitting around idle and there are logs pointing to Geth involvement in the ship's crash. My new ride is a joy, with sporty handling and plenty of firepower. I will enjoy taking it for a spin.

I don't have time to do so, though, because the Illusive Man has a call for me.

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