Leaving No One Behind

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.

22 Comments
23 Comments
Posted by Red

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.

Posted by NoXious
@Red:

Loved the read.

I personally hated 3 moments where I had made Paragon decisions and made me go "Oh damn it!" - for either ME 3 or loyalty [end-game] repercussions:

I too am glad I made it out alive with all my team members and crew, made it all worth it. I just know I'll replay it all once more Mass Effect 3 info is out though. I don't want to get screwed over in the game it will matter most :-O

Posted by Red
@NoXious: Yeah, all of those moments you mentioned were totally awesome. I loved how Zaeed's mission actually gave you really terrible consequences for being good. 
I also felt that Samara's loyalty mission allowed for a change in character.
Posted by Feser

I did a mix of renegade and paragon with a good favoring of the former. However if you try to do a mix a of points and try to make decisions based on what you actually want to do, it become impossible to get the loyalty of everyone. I don't want to go into spoiler territory to explain, but suffice to say when your squadmates get into scuffles you need to choose one teamate to side with, and the teamate you don't choose will no longer be loyal to you. I think. Great thing about this game is I may have simply made the wrong choice, but then again the opposite decision may have led to even worse ramifications. But back to what I was saying; when you lose loyalty with one of them you have to have max renegade or Paragon to convince them to come back, something you can't get going down the middle path.  
 
PS. I foresee a number of very long replies to this board.

Posted by Yummylee

Just finished the game and yeah, was always on the edge hearing all the com-talk during the sucide mission. It was easy enough to know who to do what however, Garrus was always leading the distraction teams, Tali was chosen for the mechanical bizz, Samara for the biotic shield convoy annd I had Jacob escort the crew back. Duo I had with my sheperd was Grunt and Zaeed. 
 
Everyone survived expect Miranda, and she only died because of her loyalty going down when I stuck up for Jack during their ''disagreement'' lol.  
 
Truthfully I'm not much of a fond of morality meters these days, I much prefer the system that has you judged from the people around you. Like in dragon age with its approvement meter, or even, to some extent, the influence mechanic from KOTOR 2.
Online
Posted by MasterOfPenguins_Zell

Yep! ME2 is pretty amazing. Try beating it on Insanity though.
 
It will make you cry. ;__;

Posted by natetodamax

During the suicide mission I was panicking because I thought Garrus, who was leading team 2, would bite it. Occasionally he would say over the radio "Taking heavy fire!" and I was like "Aw, CRAP". But in the end, my only casualty was Thane. So sad.

Posted by Aaox

I beat it without losing anyone too, and I completley agree with everything you've said. Especially your summary of the Suicide Mission; My feelings exactly.

Posted by SlowHands

I think I played this differently to most people.  I didn't choose to play as a Paragon or Renegade.  I choose on a moment to moment basis, always choosing the option that felt "right." 
 
Say if there was someone being a dick towards Shepard, I would retaliate by pulling a gun on his damn face.  If there was somebody being nice with no obvious other motivations, I would be kind.  It made me feel like Shepard was much more of a person than a flat character.

Posted by choffy21

While I'm only a fraction of the way through the first Mass Effect and have yet to play Mass Effect 2, I'm wondering how if everyone dies during the Suicide Mission your save will carry over to Mass Effect 3. Could make the game extremely hard and lonely early on, right?

Posted by damswedon
@SlowHands said:
" I think I played this differently to most people.  I didn't choose to play as a Paragon or Renegade.  I choose on a moment to moment basis, always choosing the option that felt "right."  Say if there was someone being a dick towards Shepard, I would retaliate by pulling a gun on his damn face.  If there was somebody being nice with no obvious other motivations, I would be kind.  It made me feel like Shepard was much more of a person than a flat character. "
I did this, i ended up with full Paragon and half full Renegade. In fact i did the same in Mass Effect 1 and had a similar balance.
Also always shoot Conrad in the Foot.
Posted by Red
@choffy21 said:
" While I'm only a fraction of the way through the first Mass Effect and have yet to play Mass Effect 2, I'm wondering how if everyone dies during the Suicide Mission your save will carry over to Mass Effect 3. Could make the game extremely hard and lonely early on, right? "
Probably. Although, I doubt you can carry over your save if Shepard died.
Edited by damswedon
@choffy21: i think if everyone dies, Shepard dies automatically, after that you have start a new guy/gal in ME3.
Posted by Cornman89

Yeah, Dragon Age did a better job with the morality thing, giving you a choice between one shit outcome and another shit outcome. That was really cool. In ME2 I have 3 save files--a paragon, a renegade and a gut-check character who does whatever feels right at that moment. I feel like each approach has it's appeal, but it's nice to experience the game in as many ways as possible--plus, I really wanted to try Vanguard, Infiltrator and Adept.

Posted by choffy21
@Red: Cool spoilers!!!!
Posted by HistoryInRust

I definitely agree with this whole blog, basically. 
 
I do wish they'd do away with the way the Paragon and Renegade system operates. It's kind of a busted cycle, when you think about it. You have to have the necessary Paragon or Renegade rating to choose the necessary Paragon or Renegade action, but, provided you have the aforementioned rating, then the game telegraphs which choice is Paragon and which choice is Renegade. And if you're aiming for a certain playstyle, you had might as well just continue hitting that blue-or-red dialogue option, because if you don't, it snaps that cycle and you, for the rest of the game, can't work your rating back up to a point where you're capable of influencing anything with that much authority. 
 
Either you're committed to one moral polarity, or you're floundering about in the midst of some moral ambiguity. Which is stupid. 
 
But, yeah. The Suicide Mission (as it is being colloquially known, which is awesome) is definitely the most exhilarating ending to a mainstream game I've played since the Warthog Run in the original Halo. So fun, and so satisfying.

Posted by Red
@choffy21 said:
" @Red: Cool spoilers!!!! "
It's a suicide mission. It's been mentioned dozens upon dozens of times by both the duders, and the good folks at BioWare. I also did mention that stuff like "you being able to die" would be gone over in my blog post.
Posted by Ineedaname
@Red said:
" @choffy21 said:
" @Red: Cool spoilers!!!! "
It's a suicide mission. It's been mentioned dozens upon dozens of times by both the duders, and the good folks at BioWare. I also did mention that stuff like "you being able to die" would be gone over in my blog post. "
Says it on the back of the box aswell.
Posted by choffy21
@Ineedaname said:
" @Red said:
" @choffy21 said:
" @Red: Cool spoilers!!!! "
It's a suicide mission. It's been mentioned dozens upon dozens of times by both the duders, and the good folks at BioWare. I also did mention that stuff like "you being able to die" would be gone over in my blog post. "
Says it on the back of the box aswell. "
I meant the whole Shepard can die thing too. While I suppose he can die at any point, I didn't know he could story-wise.
Posted by Haethos

Man, my first go-around with the suicide mission was a downer. 
 
I had rushed through my first playthrough to see the story, and I missed out on some important ship upgrades. Right off the bat, Jack died when the ship came out of the relay, the Doc died as the specialist in the first leg, and Legion got spaced when Jacob couldn't maintain the field long enough to push back the swarm. Add to that the freed crew not making it back to the ship safely, and it seemed like a disaster in every other aspect besides the Reaper getting its eyes shot out.  
 
This was a pretty moving ending to me because I felt like I had no control over the fate of my crew--whether or not they lived or died had nothing to do with my shooting or usage of abilities. When Jack died, I was hit pretty hard because I had to pick between Tali and Jack for my romance ending, and seeing her die right away was pretty weird.. 
 
All this being said, everything BioWare said about this REALLY being a suicide mission was totally true.

Posted by gfsmoke

I completely  loved this game first play through lost 2 characters because i didnt have jack loyal cause of the argument, I enjoy how that one choice you made when jack and miranda are fighting effects them that much, what i dont like since doing that you have to have a full paragon/renegade in order to gain back there loyalty, I can see having a 75% full paragon/renegade meter and being able to get there loyalty back with that but a full the world has a lot of grey in it many decisions a'rent black and white. But all those different endings really makes me think about ME3 because the storyline for that is going to be amazing to incorporate you being dead or you being alive and everyone dead or etc.

Edited by LegionFan

I beat it once but I lost my favorite guy Legion and one of my other favorites Garrus. So, I went back clear to when you first find legion and played from there and beat it.  Actually, that's the main reason I went back. I also lost Miranda and Moridon and Samara.
 
I really did like the suicide mission. I think that is the first and only time I've actually been a bit sad about a game. Though even in my second go around I lost Tali through the vents.

Edited by Cornman89

I rocked those Collectors, duder. Didn't lose a single man.