By Red 22 Comments
Yesterday I beat Mass Effect 2. In the end, I beat it in 36 hours with everyone loyal, and everyone surviving the suicide mission. However, trying to get everyone to survive that suicide mission was probably one of the most intense, emotional and empathetic experiences I've ever had with a video game.
Note: this blog drops details on the suicide mission, but besides reminding you that everyone can die, I don't really spoil much.
However, before I start off my ME2 praisin' I must talk about a few of its faults. Yes, it does still have some framerate issues, and pop-in (although much less than that of Mass Effect 1) and I did have to restart the game three times because of an audio glitch, a mission-ending button not working or the game just freezing, and yes, some repeating audio and dialog can feel clunky. However, my biggest problem with Mass Effect 2 is the Paragon/Renegade slider, and its impact on the game. As someone who played a Paragon for the entirety of ME2, I just felt that I had already made all of my decisions when I decided to play as a Paragon. There was no catch-22 decision. In the original Mass Effect, there was one decision that had to be made that really didn't have a correct answer, and after making it, I honestly had to sit down and take a break from playing the game for a few hours. However, I just felt that there weren't too many moral dilemmas in Mass Effect 2, and when there were, the game helpfully put the answer it wanted me to pick at the top, and the evil answer on the bottom. And because of your alignment's heavy impact on your charm/intimidate scores, I felt like that if I ever did choose something that I thought would maybe be a better idea, I felt that I would be penalized for it based off of the simple 'Good cop, bad cop' decision I made when I started playing.
And that's why the suicide mission was so awesome. There wasn't a moment of that suicide mission when I thought that myself or my crew would be safe, and that I knew what was going to happen next. Yes, I was prepared for the mission, and I did kinda cheat for finding who should be doing what, but there were honestly a few moments in that mission where I felt like I could go through the situation dozens of times without it ever being the same again. I felt like all the effort I had gone through, all the mining, all the conversations had paid off. It also made the final real decision you make in the game feel like I wasn't just choosing it because it was at the top, but because it was what I needed to do to get everyone else out alive.
Besides making me feel like my harder decisions mattered more, it was also a wonderfully intense and satisfying mission. The fact that I knew everyone could die made the game really feel like a suicide mission, and made me a gigantic target for fake out after fake out. Seeing someone just barely make it through a door, someone almost fall off a cliff and someone almost faint from exhaustion had me yelling at the screen. Yelling "GO SHEPARD, GO!" and "NO JACOB, NO!" only to see everyone just barely make it out alive while knowing full-well they could die was probably one of the most emotional experiences I've ever had in a video game.
But most of all, it felt like my 36 hours of preparation was worth it.
That's an achievement.
Anyways, now that I've finished my first playthrough, I'm going to play it again importing my renegade Shepard from the first game, and playing as an adept. Or maybe I'll just make a totally neutral soldier Shepard and only try and play based on what I think I should do.