An ME2 Insanity Run - The Square Root of Death (revised post)

Posted by Ghostface318 (94 posts) -
Edit: I wasn't happy with the ranting blocks of text, so I split my previous entry into two pieces. I'm just happier with it split like this. 
 
Oh, god, we never should have come here. It's all bad. 
 
Ok, I'm exaggerating. Overlord is a damn good piece of side story, with some rough combat, and my first exposure to the Hammerhead, which, while it has it's Mako moments of frustrating vehicle-ness, is neat to mess with.  
 
We show up at this facility to find everyone dead except for the head researcher, Archer, who speaks to us over an intercom, telling us that they were experimenting with the Geth, who are, to recap these machine intelligences that became self aware and almost destroyed their creators. Well, they decided, here, to try to link these intelligences, to another computer, and were really surprised when it all went wrong. Even worse, they somehow linked up Archer's brother David, to the whole thing, and now he's gone nuts, as well, and is trying to upload himself off world, and into the inter-ether, where he may lead to all machines turning into murderous monsters. I'm almost sure we don't want that, so we should probably step in here. 
 
The first part of the mission is a combat run to bust up the facilities satellite array, which the evil AI is trying to use to get out. It's not rough getting there, or actually blowing up the dish when we get up top on it (Leading to an awesome little cinematic where we run off an exploding, crumbling array). In the middle, however, once we get inside the sattelite dish structure, there is a large, circular area in which a whole bunch of geth, among them the rawdog Geth Hunters and Destroyers, who suck, and a surprise Geth Prime, who I forgot was coming, and murdered me right away the first time, and then helped kill me a couple more times. I got beaten up pretty bad in this area, but with some successful retreating, I eventually got through, 
 
Archer then comes out and explains to us more of what's going on, and outlines to us that we'll have to go through a bunch of steps to try to put a stop to this whole thing, and that we'll have to use the Hammerhead to get there. Great. The Hammerhead stuff isn't great fun, but it's workable. We have to go through a bunch of popping in and out of hiding against enemy turrets, but it all works out. We have two intermediate bases to go to, a fiery lava base, and a crashed geth ship, to unlock parts of the big lock on the main base, and then that main base, where the crazy AI/David is. 
 
I'm not going to go over much of the rest of the Hammerhead stuff, except for the stuff outside of the base in the crashed geth ship, which is kind of fun, since the AI has enabled a shield and a huge goddamned cannon to try to kill you. That was fun, especially when you think you are out of range of the cannon, and it goes off. It's always fun to erupt into a fiery ball, but it isn't good for one's long-term prospects. 
 
The combat in all the bases remains fairly standard, with some mechs and bunches of reanimated geth. Some hiccups (deaths of my entire party), but nothing to serious, as we stick with our careful, cover/use abilities/retreat style of play. Where this DLC package excels, all the way up to the final encounter, and then after (I will speak about the final battle in a second) is with the atmosphere. At everyplace terminal you interact with, over most loudspeakers and in many windows, you see the sickly green eyes of the rogue AI and are often blasted with creepy, angry sound from it as you enter new rooms. It's kind of scary, even on a second playthrough of this whole scenario - the blasts of audio, which come out as either a howl of pain or an angry warning, and the representation of the AI's eyes watching you, appear at just irregular enough intervals to stay fresh and unnerving throughout, and there are terrific little touches, like with every security camera being under the control of the AI, and following your movements.  
 
This is to say nothing about the entire run through the base that is a crashed geth ship. You know - you don't suspect, you KNOW- that the whole structure is full of inactive geth, and it is going to scream to life at some point as you roam through, and having the whole thing build and build, with no enemies anywhere as you walk in, leading you to the switch you need to hit. Both times I played this DLC, I just sat there for a minute before hitting the switch, trying to rest and regroup, knowing that it was gonna get real, real, bad, and that I needed to steel myself for the fight about to jump off. This is great, because it puts you exactly in the mindset of Shepard and crew - they have to pretty much be feeling the same thing - it's a smooth piece of design which could otherwise seem corny (Edit: We will see this design again in a significant story mission a little later, but I hadn't replayed it at this point, so I had forgot it, and it makes this trick a little redundant, but still fun. Sue me). 
 
In the final base, you battle down to where the AI core is, to try to shut it down. At the core level, you enter a side-room to access something, I think the on/off switch to the AI, and then the whole thing goes a little stupid, as far as I'm concerned. I will break it down. 
 
Shepard hits this switch, then has some sort of spell, where he is either shocked by or infected by the AI or something. This is in no way described. But what happens is as follows - the entire environment gets kind of orangey and Tron-like in the computer-grid form, and Shepard zombie-walks out of the room and the door shuts behind him, locking out the rest of the party, who hasn't efficiently reacted to the zapping of Shepard, any weirdness in the immediacy afterward, or his spastic walk out of the room. Thanks guys, way to be on the ball when I need you. Remind me to feed your asses to the Reapers, dicks. 
 
Shepard is now on his own and although he sees some very evocative and well done animations which flesh out the story of Dr. Archer's autistic math-savant brother David and his ability to communicate with the geth, and how this led to his integration into the Overlord project, this whole part sucks. It sucks because Shepard is confronted with some Geth, which he can handle, but there are a couple of close-quarters encounters here, which really are hard on us in the difficulty and with our abilities, and then, right before the final fight, we get to summon an elevator which brings with it a Geth Destroyer and his two rocket-wielding buddies. There's one pillar to put between you and these guys in the room in which they come up, and the Destroyer comes right for you, nullifying that hiding spot. I got murdered a good couple times here, until I started experimenting with retreating back down the hall from whence I came, until the Geth came at me one at a time. It's a little cheap, but it worked. 
 
Now we're at the AI core, which has been causing all this trouble. I said earlier that I would continue to be honest, so here it is - I played this final battle 20+ times, over multiple sittings, and there were more than a couple of moments where I considered totally giving up on the whole thing, that there was no way for me to beat this thing. I thought it was too hard, not totally well-explained on what part of the battle was important, and that I just didn't have the combo of skill and character abilities to pull it out. 
 
I'm not kidding. I considered just outright giving up on this whole stupid thing, and two other times, I pulled up the Load screen, considering just carrying on with the playthrough, and never telling anyone what happened on this little side-trip, that it never happened at all. No one would have known, except me, and I've been living with the knowledge that I'm not a particularly good or truthful person for almost three decades so no big deal, there. 
 
But I persevered. Either out of some heretofore unknown sense of integrity, or for you, dear reader, or just because I'm a glutton for punishment, I pushed on, trying again and again. Finally, by bashing on the battle until I hit checkpointed parts of it, I was able to succeed, shooting the odd energy pulses from the AI that will allow itself to upload itself to the Normandy and then the universe, and then hammering on the shields and armor of the core itself until the end. All the while, I am barely holding out, shucking-and-jiving to avoid these Geth that the AI can now summon in, because were are in the Matrix or some crazy thing, which is never, ever addressed, before or after this. Really weirdly bad the more you think about it, in an otherwise well-plotted side story. 
 
The mission ends with the AI defeated, and the horrible reveal that not only did they connect David to the AI, they made him a part of it, string him up with tubres runnning in and out of him, and his eyes held open by probes. This reinforces our decision to take David forever away from his brother, Dr. Archer, despite his protestations that he has realized his horrible, horrible mistakes. We arrange for David to be put up at the Grissom Institute, named for CSI character and quirky investigator Gil Grissom, which is a place where people with special abilities and needs can be well looked after. We tell Dr. Archer that if he ever goes near his brother, we will put a bullet in his head. 
 
A really interesting story, with it's own ups and downs, quality-wise, but good enough, although the whole thing was really soured for me by the totally bizarre last section and rough boss-battle. The more I think about it, the stupider the whole thing seems, but I'm a bit bitter, reliving the whole experience on bashing my head on it. Let's move on. 
 
We took care of that situation, which didn't advance our cause at all, in the grand scheme, and now we have an urgent message from the Illusive Man. We'll see what he wants next time.  
#1 Posted by Ghostface318 (94 posts) -
Edit: I wasn't happy with the ranting blocks of text, so I split my previous entry into two pieces. I'm just happier with it split like this. 
 
Oh, god, we never should have come here. It's all bad. 
 
Ok, I'm exaggerating. Overlord is a damn good piece of side story, with some rough combat, and my first exposure to the Hammerhead, which, while it has it's Mako moments of frustrating vehicle-ness, is neat to mess with.  
 
We show up at this facility to find everyone dead except for the head researcher, Archer, who speaks to us over an intercom, telling us that they were experimenting with the Geth, who are, to recap these machine intelligences that became self aware and almost destroyed their creators. Well, they decided, here, to try to link these intelligences, to another computer, and were really surprised when it all went wrong. Even worse, they somehow linked up Archer's brother David, to the whole thing, and now he's gone nuts, as well, and is trying to upload himself off world, and into the inter-ether, where he may lead to all machines turning into murderous monsters. I'm almost sure we don't want that, so we should probably step in here. 
 
The first part of the mission is a combat run to bust up the facilities satellite array, which the evil AI is trying to use to get out. It's not rough getting there, or actually blowing up the dish when we get up top on it (Leading to an awesome little cinematic where we run off an exploding, crumbling array). In the middle, however, once we get inside the sattelite dish structure, there is a large, circular area in which a whole bunch of geth, among them the rawdog Geth Hunters and Destroyers, who suck, and a surprise Geth Prime, who I forgot was coming, and murdered me right away the first time, and then helped kill me a couple more times. I got beaten up pretty bad in this area, but with some successful retreating, I eventually got through, 
 
Archer then comes out and explains to us more of what's going on, and outlines to us that we'll have to go through a bunch of steps to try to put a stop to this whole thing, and that we'll have to use the Hammerhead to get there. Great. The Hammerhead stuff isn't great fun, but it's workable. We have to go through a bunch of popping in and out of hiding against enemy turrets, but it all works out. We have two intermediate bases to go to, a fiery lava base, and a crashed geth ship, to unlock parts of the big lock on the main base, and then that main base, where the crazy AI/David is. 
 
I'm not going to go over much of the rest of the Hammerhead stuff, except for the stuff outside of the base in the crashed geth ship, which is kind of fun, since the AI has enabled a shield and a huge goddamned cannon to try to kill you. That was fun, especially when you think you are out of range of the cannon, and it goes off. It's always fun to erupt into a fiery ball, but it isn't good for one's long-term prospects. 
 
The combat in all the bases remains fairly standard, with some mechs and bunches of reanimated geth. Some hiccups (deaths of my entire party), but nothing to serious, as we stick with our careful, cover/use abilities/retreat style of play. Where this DLC package excels, all the way up to the final encounter, and then after (I will speak about the final battle in a second) is with the atmosphere. At everyplace terminal you interact with, over most loudspeakers and in many windows, you see the sickly green eyes of the rogue AI and are often blasted with creepy, angry sound from it as you enter new rooms. It's kind of scary, even on a second playthrough of this whole scenario - the blasts of audio, which come out as either a howl of pain or an angry warning, and the representation of the AI's eyes watching you, appear at just irregular enough intervals to stay fresh and unnerving throughout, and there are terrific little touches, like with every security camera being under the control of the AI, and following your movements.  
 
This is to say nothing about the entire run through the base that is a crashed geth ship. You know - you don't suspect, you KNOW- that the whole structure is full of inactive geth, and it is going to scream to life at some point as you roam through, and having the whole thing build and build, with no enemies anywhere as you walk in, leading you to the switch you need to hit. Both times I played this DLC, I just sat there for a minute before hitting the switch, trying to rest and regroup, knowing that it was gonna get real, real, bad, and that I needed to steel myself for the fight about to jump off. This is great, because it puts you exactly in the mindset of Shepard and crew - they have to pretty much be feeling the same thing - it's a smooth piece of design which could otherwise seem corny (Edit: We will see this design again in a significant story mission a little later, but I hadn't replayed it at this point, so I had forgot it, and it makes this trick a little redundant, but still fun. Sue me). 
 
In the final base, you battle down to where the AI core is, to try to shut it down. At the core level, you enter a side-room to access something, I think the on/off switch to the AI, and then the whole thing goes a little stupid, as far as I'm concerned. I will break it down. 
 
Shepard hits this switch, then has some sort of spell, where he is either shocked by or infected by the AI or something. This is in no way described. But what happens is as follows - the entire environment gets kind of orangey and Tron-like in the computer-grid form, and Shepard zombie-walks out of the room and the door shuts behind him, locking out the rest of the party, who hasn't efficiently reacted to the zapping of Shepard, any weirdness in the immediacy afterward, or his spastic walk out of the room. Thanks guys, way to be on the ball when I need you. Remind me to feed your asses to the Reapers, dicks. 
 
Shepard is now on his own and although he sees some very evocative and well done animations which flesh out the story of Dr. Archer's autistic math-savant brother David and his ability to communicate with the geth, and how this led to his integration into the Overlord project, this whole part sucks. It sucks because Shepard is confronted with some Geth, which he can handle, but there are a couple of close-quarters encounters here, which really are hard on us in the difficulty and with our abilities, and then, right before the final fight, we get to summon an elevator which brings with it a Geth Destroyer and his two rocket-wielding buddies. There's one pillar to put between you and these guys in the room in which they come up, and the Destroyer comes right for you, nullifying that hiding spot. I got murdered a good couple times here, until I started experimenting with retreating back down the hall from whence I came, until the Geth came at me one at a time. It's a little cheap, but it worked. 
 
Now we're at the AI core, which has been causing all this trouble. I said earlier that I would continue to be honest, so here it is - I played this final battle 20+ times, over multiple sittings, and there were more than a couple of moments where I considered totally giving up on the whole thing, that there was no way for me to beat this thing. I thought it was too hard, not totally well-explained on what part of the battle was important, and that I just didn't have the combo of skill and character abilities to pull it out. 
 
I'm not kidding. I considered just outright giving up on this whole stupid thing, and two other times, I pulled up the Load screen, considering just carrying on with the playthrough, and never telling anyone what happened on this little side-trip, that it never happened at all. No one would have known, except me, and I've been living with the knowledge that I'm not a particularly good or truthful person for almost three decades so no big deal, there. 
 
But I persevered. Either out of some heretofore unknown sense of integrity, or for you, dear reader, or just because I'm a glutton for punishment, I pushed on, trying again and again. Finally, by bashing on the battle until I hit checkpointed parts of it, I was able to succeed, shooting the odd energy pulses from the AI that will allow itself to upload itself to the Normandy and then the universe, and then hammering on the shields and armor of the core itself until the end. All the while, I am barely holding out, shucking-and-jiving to avoid these Geth that the AI can now summon in, because were are in the Matrix or some crazy thing, which is never, ever addressed, before or after this. Really weirdly bad the more you think about it, in an otherwise well-plotted side story. 
 
The mission ends with the AI defeated, and the horrible reveal that not only did they connect David to the AI, they made him a part of it, string him up with tubres runnning in and out of him, and his eyes held open by probes. This reinforces our decision to take David forever away from his brother, Dr. Archer, despite his protestations that he has realized his horrible, horrible mistakes. We arrange for David to be put up at the Grissom Institute, named for CSI character and quirky investigator Gil Grissom, which is a place where people with special abilities and needs can be well looked after. We tell Dr. Archer that if he ever goes near his brother, we will put a bullet in his head. 
 
A really interesting story, with it's own ups and downs, quality-wise, but good enough, although the whole thing was really soured for me by the totally bizarre last section and rough boss-battle. The more I think about it, the stupider the whole thing seems, but I'm a bit bitter, reliving the whole experience on bashing my head on it. Let's move on. 
 
We took care of that situation, which didn't advance our cause at all, in the grand scheme, and now we have an urgent message from the Illusive Man. We'll see what he wants next time.  

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