20 terrible things from Mass Effect 2: the flawed writing

No matter how many 100s Mass Effect 2 received from the gaming press, it was a deeply flawed game. This post examines the abominable writing.

To prepare for the release of the demo for Mass Effect 3, I’m revisiting Mass Effect 2 in a four part series. The first post was about the awful characters. The second was a look at troubling choices in the game design.

Let’s examine 20 instances of the terrible writing in Mass Effect 2. The series will then conclude with the five worst elements of the game.

A quick note: the problems with Cerberus and the reapers are so numerous I broke them into separate points for your reading convenience.

20: Don’t invent a lame excuse to take away all my stuff.

I think the only reason they killed you in the beginning was so they’d have an excuse not to transfer over your items. Being killed off and coming back to life doesn’t seem to have had any real impact past the first 30 minutes of the story. You don’t struggle with the existential crisis that should come with having been dead for two years and come back. You don’t spend more than perhaps a line or two on thoughts about the afterlife.

You were dead, then you “got better.” This should be a major plot point, in Shepard’s character arc in ME2. At the very least, there should have been more questions about the process.

Instead Shepard walks through the game like an unthinking automaton, stumbling around the edge of this enormous plot hole. They missed an amazing storytelling opportunity.

Shepard’s death in ME2 also negates anything you might have accomplished with multiple play-throughs on the same character in the first game.

As a result, Shepard’s death and unexplained recovery seem only to be an excuse to take away your stuff.

I liked my stuff.

19: A galaxy full of aliens that look like spaceships.

The reaper fleet

Apparently all previous species looked like impossible space-traveling insects.

The whole plot around the Reapers in ME2 is pretty ludicrous, but one of the most mind-numbing parts comes at the very end. We’re told (and shown) that Reapers apparently eat entire races and then create spaceships in the same shape as the race they just absorbed. What the hell sort of reproduction / survival strategy is that?

All the completed Reapers we see look like spaceships. So does that mean that the rest of the Mass Effect universe’s races look like spaceships? That’s pretty stupid.

18: My spacesuit is only good for planetary re-entry, not bullets.

At the very beginning of Mass Effect, when they blow up the ship for no reason, we’re treated to an advertising poster-worthy sequence in which Shepard is blown out of the dying ship and dropped into the atmosphere of a planet.

Despite the fact that his suit is leaking, Shepard’s body somehow survives being blown into space and apparently significant atmospheric friction. Indeed, if we look at the game’s DLC, Shepard’s helmet is found on the planet, indicating that his body somehow managed to survive the vacuum, the intense heat of re-entry, and the abrupt cessation of terminal velocity that accompanies hitting the ground.

If you have armor that can survive all that, why wouldn’t you wear it into battle and say… be immune to bullets?

PS: The ME extended universe doesn’t count. The story needs to be able to stand on its own.

17: Boring boring boring codex entries.

Dragon Age 1 and Mass Effect 1 were both significant in that I was actually quite interested in reading the enormous number of codex entries that I could discover throughout those games. Too bad Bioware hasn’t been able to pull that off since. I’m not entirely sure what happened to the codex entries after game generation 1, perhaps there was a different writer, or it was just that so much of the world had already been established. For whatever reason, the codex entries were neither as interesting nor as well written as they were in Mass Effect 1.

16: Various non-geth robot enemies in general.

Dragon's Teeth on Eden Prime

If there's a chance this will happen to you every time you use robot guards, why risk it?

Is this just lazy character design? One of the significant narrative threads running through the Mass Effect universe is the distrust of AI, due to the geth rebellion. In the first game there is more than one lecture on the danger of AI.

ME2 seems to just throw this out the window. Non-geth robots are all over the game, comprising one of the most common enemy types. From a narrative perspective, this just makes no sense.

I understand the whole VI argument, but in a universe where you’ve accidentally created the geth, why not just avoid the risk and pay some flesh-and-blood guards?

This is even more valid in light of the geth attacks of the first game. Knowing that the geth are still out there, why would you provide a defense they could easily suborn?

15: Magical Ship Resurrection

The Normandy gets destroyed for a reason absent from the in-game plot in the first minute or so of the game. You complete the narratively pointless initial training sequence and kill off someone for a reason that isn’t entirely clear. Then you are presented with an all new Normandy to explore the universe. We are told this one is exactly the same, only better.

Now it has been a while since my last play-through of Mass Effect 1, however, I seem to recall the Normandy was the top of the line in human engineering. According to the Mass Effect Wikia:

“She is a prototype “deep scout” frigate, first of the eponymous Normandy class, co-developed by the Alliance and the Turian Hierarchy with the sponsorship of the Citadel Council. She is optimized for solo reconnaissance missions deep within unstable regions, using state-of-the-art stealth technology powered by an experimental drive core.”

Mass Effect Wikia entry SSV Normandy

In fact the first game mentions that the Normandy is extraordinarily expensive and valuable with all sorts of technology not available on any other human Alliance ship.

So how is it that Cerberus is able to rebuild the ship, even bigger than before, in two years without anyone noticing? I don’t care how much money they have, there are all sorts of specialized technology and alien innovations in there, you just can’t build something like that in secret. It’s as if Bill Gates decided to build himself an aircraft carrier and expected to do it without anyone noticing. It just doesn’t make sense.

Normandy SR2

I built it in my backyard.

14: Not Enough Playing Politics.

I liked arguing with the Council in Mass Effect 1. It added depth to the universe that there was a higher power and they disapproved. The back and forth in the first game created a window into how the ME universe functioned and the motivations of the various races.

In general, I like it when I can play politics in an RPG. This is merely a personal preference, but I missed the opportunity in ME2, where it was only slightly expressed in Tali’s loyalty mission.

13: Mathematics expressions as philosophy.

So according to Legion:

“We are purely software. Mathematics. The heretic’s conclusion is valid for them. Our conclusion is valid for us. Neither result is an error. An analogy. Heretics say one is less than two. Geth say two is less then three.”

Does this make any sense to anyone? How can you attach “kill all humans” and “don’t kill all humans” to mathematical equations and how could an interpretation of these two true statements equal two completely different ideas?

12: Utter Abandonment of the Spectres Story Arc.

Spectres logo

I'm part of the super police, but I'm too cool to mention it.

I think ME2 would have gone very differently if Shepard hadn’t forgotten that he could pull out the Spectre badge. As far as I could tell he still was one and most of the galaxy seems to have failed to notice that he was dead for two years. Seems to me like pulling the galactic secret police card could have come in handy at some point.

At the least, it provides a legitimate alternative to Cerberus.

Besides, being a Spectre was fun. The whole operation was interesting and could have been explored in further depth. Instead the writers forgot about it.

Apparently the Council tries to discredit you post-ME1, but no one says they revoked your position. In fact, depending on your actions in ME1, you are sometimes able to get a formal reinstatement of your Spectres title. It doesn’t matter, Shepard doesn’t even try to use his status.

11: Human Slurry

Your evil plan was to put a couple world populations in a blender and feed it to a robot? That’s the best you could come up with? This is the entirety of The Reapers’ motivation? Are you sure Jaws from James Bond wasn’t on your team? He was in space you know.

No Mr. Shepard, I expect you to blend.

10: Reapers need to reproduce.

Take a moment and watch the EDI make a whole bunch of completely unfounded assumptions at the beginning of the final boss battle:

Look, I’m all for soft science fiction, but you’ve got to make some sort of internal logic within your own universe. Nothing in that entire conversation made any sense. What in your wonderful one and two half encounters with the Reapers leads you to any of those assumptions?

Why would Reapers need to reproduce? For what purpose? What could possibly be the reason for this? What is the “essence” of a species, and why would they need it to reproduce?

How can you just assume that they tried and failed to create a Prothean Reaper? How would you know?

Also, there are apparently plenty of neigh-invulnerable Reapers out there, why would they even need to create more?

9: Reapers need human slurry to reproduce.

Melting Woman

Delicious. Like so much protein shake.

This makes even less sense.

Beyond the utter stupidity of the human slurry plan why would they require it to reproduce? Why would they require human slurry at all? Why would, what appears to be, a giant cybernetic organism require the ‘raw genetic material‘ of millions of humans?

How could they have ever started being created if they needed a dozen planets worth of dead people to create a single Reaper?

No matter how different we all look, the differentiation between one human’s genetic material and another is minimal, hell the difference between the genomes of mice, monkeys, pigs and humans is pretty minimal. It can’t be for our diversity.

Why does it need to chug millions of blended people?

There is no reason given in the game, EDI just states this with her magical computer intuition and we’re supposed to reach Guinness Record levels of suspension of disbelief.

8: A bad case of Section 31-itis.

‘Man that Cerberus is so cool, a semi-secret organization with the power to go around doing whatever they want in order to protect the greater good, getting the ends done without needing to justify the means.’

Gee… this sounds awfully familiar.

Who else in the Mass Effect Universe was a secretive team empowered to make life and death decisions over whoever they wanted by whatever means necessarily in order to protect the greater good?

Oh right, that group you were already a part of, the Spectres.

This is a fairly significant lack of creativity: your role in Cerberus is pretty much the same as it was in the Specters from the first game.

Having your main character be an agent for an organization in which the ends always justify the means is really just an excuse for failing to flesh out the universe and its characters enough to understand what the ramifications of your protagonist’s actions are.

At least in Mass Effect 1 you had to report back to some folks and deal with them yelling at you, or your pissed off companions. In ME2 The Illusive Man responds to any actions you take with a wink and a smile.

If Mass Effect 3 involves you taking a new role in an even more secret organization in which you are empowered to act however the hell you feel like in order to achieve the nebulous ends of “the greater good” I will be forced to defenestrate someone.

7: A half-assed enemy that replace the geth by playing the same exact role and acting the same as the geth did.

Collector concept art

Their writing was not nearly as nuanced as their concept art.

So, your enemy is:

A group in which individuals are not really independent, with no distinctions. Each individual is actually a drone. Their pre-game background is a mysterious rarely-seen group. In their first real appearance in the galactic field they mysteriously attack a human colony and eliminate all the people in the colony. As the game progresses it becomes clear that they’ve been subjugated by the Reapers. They have a leader who acts mysteriously in cut-scenes. They tirelessly work for the Reapers with no thought for themselves. When you kill their leader it turns out that he has been under direct Reaper control all along.

Can you tell whether I’m describing the Collectors or the geth from the first game?

Me neither.

6: Ocean’s Eleven story arc that leads up to a suicide mission.

Apparent suicide missions are possible stories for a two hour movie or a short story but they don’t expand well over a 30 to 60 hour game. I started to suffer significant motivation failure early on.

Then there was the ‘meat’ of the story. I put that in quotes because it wasn’t very meaty, the majority of the narrative involves running around on disconnected missions.

Unlike the first game, none of the side missions seem to have any significant connection (either to the main mission, or each other), making the whole game seem even more discombobulated. Linked side missions were a good idea, but they seem to be gone.

This particular structure weakened the narrative significantly. Plus it was pretty odd to spend most of the game wandering around the universe hunting down crew members and then do five impossible things before breakfast in the final mission.

5: Making me leave my ship for no reason to fall for an obvious trap.

Kodiak Shuttle

Pictured: heavy-handed plot device.

I’m just going to quote TV Tropes for this one:

” The SR-2 is boarded by the Collectors, who abduct the Cerberus crew. The only reason they succeed is because of the lack of any credible opposition as Shepard has taken every single one of their handpicked badass specialists and crammed them into the Kodiak (sardines, anyone?). Nor are you allowed to simply wait for however long it would take EDI to synch up the Reaper IFF. This is done to ratchet up the tension for the endgame, and give a sense of raised stakes, but getting to that point is pretty blatant railroading…”

The minute the game told me that my entire team (even though I can’t use them all at once) were going to pile into a shuttle and leave the ship by itself I knew what was going to happen.

What was coming was incredibly obvious and the loss of any sort of player agency at this point seems silly. Why couldn’t you have selected a squad member or two to stay behind and have them either die or make the final mission easier by saving some crew, as in the very final mission? It would have at least created some illusion of control over one’s destiny.

4: Working for the Space Nazis.

Talking about complete loss of player agency… Nothing discouraged me more then the fact that the game starts you working off for the Nazis of the Mass Effect universe. Let’s go down the list of what we learn about Cerberus in the first game.

  • Cerberus conducts “horrific experiments.”
  • They accidentally unleash one of the most dangerous races in the universe.
  • They turn an entire colonization team into the tortured cyber zombies known as husks.
  • They sic thresher maws on human colonies and then experiment on survivors.
  • They feed loyal human marines to another thresher maw.
  • They kill a human rear admiral.
  • They conduct more terrible experiments in their quest to create the Übermensch.
  • They enslave other alien species.
  • They are incredibly specist.

Oh, and in the second game you discover that they operate in cells… like terrorists. Also that they did more terrible torture/testing on human children. They also want to emulate Saren’s control of the geth.

You work for them and you don’t get a choice about it.

I don’t know how you could justifiably consider any paragon decisions in the narrative of the game when you understand that you are working for an organization that considers the height of alien usefulness to be slavery or experimenting on them to death. Then there’s the fact that they probably killed more humans within the narrative of the first Mass Effect than the primary antagonist’s force.

Even their ‘good guy’ isn’t above a little racist slur now and then.

Anything beyond the unchangeable initial decision to work with Cerberus throws the concept of player agency right out the window. In another game this might matter less but it makes no sense in a game where morality is supposed to be a mechanic. This single thing, more than anything else, makes the rest of the plot into a joke. Not to mention it may completely disregard the import of your previous game.

This is the shot to the foot of character development for Shepard. If you played anything other than a ‘kill all aliens’ Shepard in ME1, the entirety of ME2 makes no sense.

Building a character in a video game is a mediated process. ‘Your character’ is a creation that lies in your head and comes from the interaction between the game text and the player’s response to that text. Unless you thought of your Shepard as a complete psychopath, that balance is completely broken in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Using Cerberus as the primary frame for this game breaks the narrative arc of Shepard in the Mass Effect universe and that’s a big problem.

3: Space Nazis suddenly totally cool with working with aliens.

Disregarding story established in the previous game, Cerberus is apparently totally cool with you filling your ship up with a bunch of aliens. In fact, there was more resistance to the concept in the first game via Navigator Pressly then there is from Cerberus crew in the entire second game.

Yeoman Kelly Chambers, Cerberus member, appears to be in the game entirely to showcase that Cerberus ‘isn’t evil after all.’ This is clear narrative white-washing, an attempt to prevent you from noticing that you happen to be working for the Space Nazis.

2: A complete lack of consequence for working for the Space Nazis.

Cerberus logo

They put that shit on everything!

You’d think working for a rogue black-ops operation which has committed acts that, in the best light, could be considered crimes against humanity and certainly against sapience would be subject to some repercussions, as would their agents.

It’s not like you’re hiding, Cerberus has a nasty case of sigil spam, especially bad for a supposed secret organization. Which is I guess why everyone knows you’re working for Cerberus too.

You’d think there would be a negative result beyond five seconds of an ex-teammate yelling at you? Well there is not. You walk around freely on human-owned and alien planets and ships and no one bats an eye or threatens you with arrest.

Shepard works for terrorist Nazis and there are absolutely no consequences.

1: Aliens that apparently don’t mind working for the Space Nazis.

Even worse than the white-washed humans is the fact that the aliens you recruit don’t seem to mind working for a group that is usually only interested in vivisecting them. This is another case in which Cerberus’s presence in the storyline breaks my suspension of disbelief. There’s perhaps a total of 10 lines by your alien friends noting that Cerberus might be a bad work environment for them before they move on.

This makes no sense. None. It amazes me that one could justify humans working for Cerberus, but I’m willing to put that into the ‘evil men do’ category. That the aliens you work with, who are mostly ‘good guys,’ would do the same stretches belief beyond the breaking point.

Join Aram on Monday, February 6 for part four: the five worst elements of Mass Effect 2.

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  3. Still going through this article. I agree that the death thing should have been explored more. I also wish my Spectre status was worth a damn in ME2, especially since I did get it reinstated in my first run. It turns out there is one situation where you can use it, when you’re interrogating that guy on Thane’s loyalty mission. If you say you’re a Spectre, his lawyer freaks out and tells him to cooperate, which is pretty awesome. It’s a shame that’s the only situation where it seems to have any effect. Maybe it will matter in ME3.

  4. Uh huh

    I can’t tell if you’re trolling, or didn’t enjoy ME2 enough to actually understand any of it. For exmaple, #18. Shepard was found FROZEN, as in, he was found floating in SPACE.

    • It wasn’t stated as such in the game, in the video I included there appears to be trails that indicate reentry and, as I state in the article above, you find Shepard’s helmet of the surface. All of that would seem to indicate that Shepard’s body dropped on to the planet. There is nothing in the game itself to say otherwise. Like I said, I don’t care about the expanded universe (if that’s what you are referencing), what happens in the game itself should make sense.

      If it said somewhere in the game that he was in space and I missed it, please point it out, I have no problem being wrong. However, even if it does, that doesn’t answer the question of why his helmet is on the surface. At the very least the situation is confusing, at worst it makes no sense at all.

      I don’t recall them stating anywhere in the game that the body was frozen, but considering all the evidence that points to his body being found on the planet, I’d assume that if it was frozen it was because the body (and the wreckage) was on an extraordinarily cold planet.

  5. If you really want to get angry, play the Arrival DLC. It’s pretty much Bioware saying fuck you to all Paragon Shepards. Mass Effect 2 pretty much confirmed that they no longer give a shit about balancing Paragon and Renegade choices anymore. It’s Renegade from here on out.

    • Ugh… I really have no desire to play any more of ME2 in any form, DLC or otherwise. I’m not even sure I’m going to play ME3. That being said, it doesn’t surprise me at all if what you say is true, the entirety of Mass Effect 2 is Renegade.

  6. I can’t find it within myself to knock Bioware too hard for any flaws in Mass Effect’s branching narrative. The amount of range you already have is pretty astonishing when you consider the fact that the game is fully voice acted and has both a male and female protagonist choice. In addition, a few of the choices you made in ME1 do have noticeable effects in ME2. I think they may have pushed this type of single-player, branching narrative game close to the limit of where it can go and still have such high fidelity in the graphics, voice acting, etc. There are certainly games which allow more freedom of action, but they tend to have a lower fidelity of representation within the game, such as an older text-heavy CRPG like Planescape: Torment. Ultimately, I think that this type of game might wind up being a dead end. If the goal truly is maximum player choice, that just doesn’t work if you also want it to have a well-formed narrative (which I feel that Mass Effect does for the most part.) Otherwise you end up with Skyrim, where stuff is constantly glitching out, people’s reactions are unnatural, nobody cares about the main quest line or story, etc.

    In any case, this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the game as pure entertainment. I wanted to live out my fantasy of being a hero in a space opera, and Bioware gave that to me in spades. I was satisfied with the choices I had, and I felt like there were some meaningful ones, particularly in ME1.

    Ultimately, I don’t know if a single-player game will ever be able to deliver a realistic, high-fidelity simulation that also has deep character interaction and a ton of player choice. Perhaps you could get something going in a multiplayer environment where people were more committed to being actors in a story, more along the lines of a LARP than a standard MMO.

  7. Josh

    lol a lot of crying in this article.

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  9. TheLaughingBoy

    Good article, highly amusing, even though I’m a fan of the game.

  10. I’ve read all three of these now and I’m still not sure if they’re earnest or its some attempt at satire. Some of them are well-known concerns I’ve seen discussed elsewhere, but a lot of times it seems like you’re going out of your way to misunderstand things.

    (19)-I always thought they looked like squids. In any event, there are animals on earth that look like all kinds of things-manta rays, giraffes, snakes, octopuses-is it really a giant terrible thing that somewhere in the galaxy there’s an animal that looks kind of like whatever you think the Reapers look like?

    (17)-This would be more persuasive if you provided at least one example of a “boring” codex entry or, for that matter, an interesting one from the first Mass Effect.

    (16)-The lore goes out its way to distinguish between AI and VI and establish that it is a legitimate and substantial difference in the Mass Effect universe. Maybe you think that distinction is dumb or lazy for some reason, but it’s not really narratively inconsitent nor does it show that everyone is the galaxy is stupid, or whatever it is you’re suggesting.

    (14)-That a story does not contain every element that every reader enjoys, and include those elements in the exact ammounts and manners that those readers wish, is not a terrible plot hole.

    (13)-Christians, Jews, and and Muslims all believe that “there is one true omnicient God who is the creator of all things.” Those groups draw dramatically different implications from that statment. Indeed, there is far from universal agreement within those groups about what it means.

    (12)-I havent’ played the game in a while, but my recollection is that virtually everyone Shepard meets comments that they thought she was dead. And I’m not sure what the “Spectre story arc” is. Is it just that Shepard is a spectre? Because they explain why Shepard isn’t a fully-fledged spectre by saying that the Council discreted you and made you the fall guy for the Citadel devestation. It’s actually the Council playing politics, which you earlier said you wanted to see more of.

    I ‘m with you, generally, that Cerberus is clumisly and significantly defanged from the first Mass Effect. But they do pay a lot of lip service to how terrible everyone thinks they are. I know they make a big deal about the Quarrians thinking they’re assholes if you do Tali’s loyalty mission, for example. Again, I haven’t played in a while, but my recollection is that many people say they’d have nothing to do with Cerberus but for the respect they have for Shepard.

    Again, Mass Effect 2’s story is far from perfect, but a lot of this is really reaching. And if it’s satire, well, then more jokes and clever commentary please.

    • (19) – The final scene shows hundreds if not thousands of identical looking reapers. From what we know of the reapers, they have to harvest huge populations to create one ship and find them by letting the galaxy evolve for a while and practically wiping it out. This would have to mean that not only were there hundreds of species that all look like spaceships, but that they would have had to continually evolved in that form over millennia up until the point that the game takes place. Does that make any sense?

      (17) – This was the general sensation I remembered from both games. However, it was oddly difficult to find any pure copies of the codex entries online.

      (16) – All I’m saying here is that there are an awful lot of robots for a universe in which the robots have already risen up and started killing everyone twice.

      (14) – That’s why it expressly says that it “is merely a personal preference.”

      (13) – But they don’t claim that statement is a mathematical truth.

      (12) – Not really. Also, it usually doesn’t go beyond ‘OMG, you were dead!’ ‘Nope, let’s get down to business.’ No, the secondary arc of the first game. That you are the first human Spectre and what that means, an exploration of the powers that brings with it, the responsibilities, etc… They never actually say that they revoked his status though.

      Yeah, even that doesn’t make sense. Shepard’s not that amazing that he can make up for all the terrible things Cerberus does IMO.

  11. Yeah I wish that the moral factor held more meaning. And they could have make the game bigger and even more in depth by actually giving a shit whether or not I still wanted to be a Spectre. But they decided to keep mainly with the ‘Screw the Council let’s go be Cerberus’.

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  13. Nothappening

    After the suicide mission if you talk to EDI her blocks are unlocked. You can ask her how they made the Normandy and she explains that Cerberus was INVOLVED in its construction and that they’d been buying parts to make it over the years.

    Don’t bitch about things in the game you don’t understand. Loser.

  14. Jim

    20. We aren’t told that. They find the human reaper and EDI suggestes it could be that each reaper has the form of the species. That turned out to be false, since nobody saw a reaper before, except one, and that is not enough. The human reaper was a desperate attempt by a lonely Sovereign to build himself a mate. Also note that while Reaper “Sovereign class” are 2 KM long and huuuge, the human reaper was way, way smaller. It was an experiment. That’s why a big reaper takes a whole civilization and the huma repaer “larva” is made of a few colonies.

    19. No, no, no. Firstly, “Galaxy” is not universe. Secondly, that is cleared up in ME3, what with it being a trilogy. The Citadel watcher is “saving” races in a point in the development in _cyclical_ time where organic create synthetics. Synth rebels, wipes out organic. Repaers “save” that civilization by flash-photo taking samples of all the significant current members of the species, and incorporates them in a machine. The machine uses AI to drive the basics, and builds consesnus by using input from the machines. In theory, that civilization could be restored from genetic maertial on board and culture, data, layout, etc saved by the rapers from Citadel databases, as well as collected info. Not all species work, like Protheans, that have a quad-helix DNA that is not Reaper-friendly.

    18. It is stated at the beginning if the game that the body was damaged by staying in the vaccum and temperature of space for two years. It’s as easy as that. It was in space. Maybe the helmet bew off and fell, maybe it got hit by a rock, I don’t care. Maybe it was his spare helmet, heck, it’s “Shepard’s N7 helmet”. I assume he could afford a spare. For more details, play the Shadow Broker DLC.

    17. Boring codex entried are a personal preference and all this entry does is pad the list to 20.

    16. Learning is made of steps. Firts you learn Geth are bad. Then, Geth are good and bad. Then, you learn that Geth have been controled by the Repaers. You have a problem with that, but swallow indoctrination, which is the exact damn thing. But with organics. Also, might I add, Geth have been silent for 300 years. All we know comes from their ex-girlfirends, the Quarians. No wonder they are feared.

    15. Magical ship resurrection is needed as a plot device to upgrade Normandy. It might as well have been recouperated off the planet and rebuilt, but why? Also, you accept that in today’s tech, a computer 2 years old is old, why not the future? Heck, Cerberus have spies everywhere, fans, whatever. It’s possible they have higher tech compared to Alliance – Alliance have restricted access, Cerberus does not. Also, if you (again) played the Shadow Broker DLC, you would have seen a log for Cerberus in which they coopted some very rich and powerful people, and some inside scores. They have entire colonies under their thimb, choosing leaders, fixing elections. They have massive resources. Also, Alliance has a fleet. Cerberus took 2 years to build one ship. Not an issue.

    14. There was no back and forth with Council. They played dumb and it annoyed me to no end. But I don’e want to do politics. This is a futuristic, Sci-fi adventure game. F**k politics. I can get that today. I want space batles, epic heroes, important decisions. WTH? Also, I call personal preference. What, “18 flaws” sounded odd?

    13. “Does this make any sense to anyone?”. I never seem to understand how people can say that. Only one person in the history was allows to say that once you have elliminated all possible solutions, all that is left is the truth, no matter how improbable. He was known for superhuman deduction and for being fictional, Sherlock Holmes. Everyone else comes across like a raving lunatic. “I don’t understand this, so it must not make sense”. What are you, God? The concept is very simple. Geth work as database procedures. Each geth cell is a neuron-like entity, with the ability to process data at a very basic level. Several of these cells come together to form a progtam, or runtime, a software that has just enough critical mass to become aware. All these programs, run togther, and all stor information in a common database of TRUTHS. These are logs, facts, sensor data. For a software, what one saw and logged as if it experienced it itself. As a result, all Geth runtimes have all Geth experiences, ever. Each runtime is different (or there is no point), and they can work together if sharing a platform (like a multicore system) or networked (like a network of PCs) by proximity. A slight modification of these core cells might throw the conclusions off. For example, extending a route taked might make a certain percentage of Geth be upset about an event others see as forgivable. Like, if you lick all humans in the nuts, 80% will want to beat you senseless. If you tweak the chemicals by releasing a virus, only 2% want to kick you. Is there that you still find unclear? Renegade Geth are those that decided natural evolution is too slow, because one code path is longer. epaers wrote a virus to extend that procedure to all Geth. In time, they will also reach the conclusion that they want to speed things up. Also, though I appreciate the Futurama reference, geth never desired to “kill all humans”. If you oaid attention to Legion, he explains that the renegade geth decided to follow Sovereign and aid it. never have Geth launched an attack on humans – they defended Saren, strategic objectives, and assisted Sovereign in taking the Citadel.

    12. It makes f*ing sense that dead Sheperds aren’t Spectres. Like in any universe, being dead revokes all licenses. Second, in ME2, Council plainsly says that if Shepard “restricts operations to the Terminus systems” then they are willing to reinstate as a gesture of unofficial support. meaning, DO NOT come around flashing your badge. If he did, then Council would be confronted to explain why Spectres work with Cerberus, and be foreced tio shoot him. As a result, they did it only on paper, so he’d have access to Spectre resources.

    11. “This is the entirety of The Reapers motivation?”. No. See, Mass Effect is a trilogy. Some stuff is bound to be unanswered. Motivation of Reapers is seen in ME3 cand if they revelaed it ME3 would be really plain.

    10. That’s why it is called “speculation”. ME3 hasn’t been written yet. The comments were designed to keep fans busy until ME3. How is that a weak point? What did you expect? Precise clues to the next game?

    9. Again, ME3. No reproduction. Saving. Not multyply, built. Says so on the tin. Built by top dog civilization from cycle 1034. Please don’t kill us yet.

    8. “Who else in the Mass Effect Universe was a secretive team empowered to make life and death decisions over whoever they wanted by whatever means necessarily in order to protect the greater good? Oh right, that group you were already a part of, the Spectres.”. Dude. Spectres don’t go off making decisions for the greater good, that’s the council. SPECTRE corps is a group of people that is under direct control of the Council and operates under their authority an orders. Did you think a SPECTRE goes around shooting people, unaccountable? They have the right to legally shoot anyone so thay can save a colony without being charged with murder. They ARE required to report to Council and any deviation from the orders of the Council or the absolutely needed is investgated and punished. Anyne can bring any issue to the council, and, with proof, the Council will take measures, as is the case with Saren.

    7. Do you have a better idea to have 1 million faceless enemies everywhere in the galaxy? They need a bad guy that has 1 million dead faces and one big live one you can win against. Geth/Saren (ME1), Collectors/Sovereign (ME2), Reapers and Cerberus/Illusive Man and Sovereign (ME3). ME3 slightly deviates, because it allows you to have 2 enemies, ME1 and ME2 and a few more, as to wrap up previous games. Do you have a better suggestion? One million unatics with completely diffeent reasons for hating Shepard?

    6. Again with the personal motivation. Just because you got bored doesn’t mean the game is bad. It might have lacked enough alien booty to keep you in, but the rest of us liked the building of assets, and the fact that the last mission played in a million different endings depending on choices was incredible. NOBODY, EVER, has seen all possible endings. 12 squad mates, that’s 12 bits or 4096 possible live/die combos, plus the Shepard, character, and some othe rstuff that not only made endings different, but also set up much of ME3. Including how much money you had, how much platinum, etc. Every single one of those 12 chars has its own cameo, and each has to be programmed AGAIN if they died. Oh, and the doctor. And Kelly Chambers. And there’s the Shadow Broker. And male/female. Do you know how much work has gone into ME2 and 3 to make them not boring? Apparently, this got tiring for you on your first playthrough. Good, I say. To heck with non-linear play.

    5. Making you leave ship for a trap? What are you, 5? You’re Shepard. You go where you are needed. If they need you, you go. It was the least awkward way to kidnap all crew and NOT leave you stranded. How else? Beam you off? You rant about each story standing on its own. Well, this one needed someone to save THIS GAME. It was the crew. You can’t have it both ways.

    4. The game has gone though this a million times. Reapers come. galaxy at risk. Must fight. Either go on foot, or take Cerberus help. What you you want for a game? Shepard on a planet. Dies alone, from hunger, no ship. Credits roll.

    3. Ultimate goal of TIM was control of Reapers. He has been playing at it since ME1. Just because we’re not told doesn’t make it so. His agenda for protecting hmanity was secondary, and a front for experiments and support. He cared about advancing humans, but it was not the first goal. This isn’t unclear. Layed out plainly in ME3.

    2. Everyone knew. He had Council backing, reluctant as may be. Once reinstated, he was pardoned by the Council as he did what needed to be done. Consider it a undercover mission. He never fired on Alliance personnel, he helped them. He is not guilty of any crimes, and even if he was, he stopped the collectors, a race that hot entire collonies. One or two jaywalking tickets can be forgotten. He’s a SPECTRE and a hero.

    1. Aliens working for Cerberus: Mordin (provides expertise that saves lives, loves the callenge), Garrus (followed you to hell), Tali (reluctantly, also makes it clear he is with Shepard ONLY), Thane (very sick, atones for crimes by saving innocent lives), Grunt (doesn’t care), Samara (gets her deal through to kill Morinth).

    Look, some of these are in the game, you ignored them or were thinking about something else when played. Some are just plain wrong. Some are personal preferences. There are problems with ME2, and you nailed none of them.

  15. bil

    yeah, keep making excuses for BioFail fanchildren… every sequel they see if you will accept an even worse product, until finally they have discover the breaking point – the ME3 ending, bwahaha, serves you right.

    they are not even trying.

  16. MichaelD

    Reading this over having just beaten Mass effect 2 again *waiting on my copy of 3*. It occurs to me they could have very simply solved the suit surviving reentry by making the planet smaller. Smaller planet less gravity meaning 2 things. 1. Less atmosphere thus less friction and heat. 2. Lower terminal velocity. Or other idea just have Shepard never reenter and instead just stuck in icy orbit in a debris field over the planet. I mean in the end dead is dead doesn’t matter how badly you died its still a big technological hurdle to pass.

  17. SamTurner

    most of the “Problems” have been solved in the third game. Shepard got funded by cerberus, he didn’t work for them, he also says that he doesn’t. Aliens have any issues with working with cerberus. melted humans down to make proto-reaper, the human thing. The origional reapers were created to solve the problems of making increasingly intelligent robots which would destroy “Organics” This means that they are also partially robotic and then they added other species to the main group. Cerberus also has a difficult-to-find base which they built without anyone noticing so why can’t they build a ship, which could have been built in the same place.
    Your arguements are invalid.

    •  @SamTurner I haven’t finished ME3 yet, however even if all you say is true and all these questions have been answered, that doesn’t stop them from being a confusing mess in ME2. I don’t care that the game is part of a series, it should still be able to make sense on its own independent from both the first and third game. 

  18. Jordan Michael Robertson

    So the author of this blog admits it’s “been a while” since he played through ME1, and that he has no plans to revisit ME2. Seems like a flawed premise from the start for a post. Shouldn’t this be written during/shortly after a playthrough?

  19. Clark Orra Phillips

    I was reading a few other things by this author, and I came across this gem. “After building up significant inventory in the first game and spending hours in deep customization for the perfect load out, not only do you lose your inventory, but you lose almost all control over your partner NPCs’ inventories.”

  20. Clark Orra Phillips

    If you were like me, you looked for shield penetration and increased damage output against geth. I didn’t spend hours on it…I just wanted something to kill geth faster.

  21. Clark Orra Phillips

    “No matter how many 100s Mass Effect 2 received from the gaming press, it was a deeply flawed game.” If this were true, then why did he continue to play and beat it? Just to bitch about it? Save me the tears Amar.

  22. Jordan Michael Robertson

    Don’t be too harsh, I know some of the peeps who run the site. That being said, this reminds me of Pitchfork: being contrarian just to get your opinion noticed. The post about characters starts off with Mordin being some shallow allegory of the “geeks” who play the game, while ignoring the central role he plays in the Krogan genophase which is one of the more important storylines in the ME universe.

  23. Clark Orra Phillips

    I find it a little ironic that he is discussing a “geek” character sterotype…in an analysis on why this particular video game was “deeply flawed.”

  24. Jordan Michael Robertson

    The post on the game design isn’t off to a much better start. The first “fault” is the game’s tutorial/intro. Aren’t most game tutorials pretty pointless? At least ME2’s doesn’t completely hold your hand like some games, and gives you a chance to get some info through dialogue. Then the author goes on to compare the Reaper IFF mission to Dead Space, which is laughable at best. It sounds like maybe he just had a hard time dealing with the Scions. Of course, there’s the obligatory complaint about DLC. Guess what? Simply reading the DLC description would have told you what it was. No one forced you to download it. “There’s a lot wrong with Omega.” Really? First, calling Carrie Ann Moss a “perfectly good actress” is a stretch at best. Did you ever watch The Matrix movies? Not exactly Meryl Streep. As for the Patriarch, all of those questions can be answered through in-game dialogue. Then the author complains about the base being dark and monochrome. Uh, it was made from an asteroid. Making it neon blue and bright orange wouldn’t exactly make sense. It’s a corrupt “world” made from a space rock. Actually, be as harsh as you’d like. I don’t know who Aram is, but he obviously played ME2 with his eyes closed and the controller upside down.

  25. Clark Orra Phillips

    Yeah, the Reaper IFF/Dead Space comparison was pretty ridiculous. The Husks themselves NEVER corresponded to the rest of the game…that’s the point! That’s why Husks made the game tense.

  26. Jordan Michael Robertson

    And the Husks were, you know, rather prevalent in his beloved ME1. It made sense to have them in that mission, since A) the Reapers invented the “dragons teeth” that indoctrinate the Husks, and B) it was human scientists who were on board the ship. I’m really looking forward to this “five worst things about ME2” post that’s going up later today.

  27. nR fLuX

    Just figured I’d throw this out there. His spectre status(if reinstated) was indirectly mentioned by the council they would support him but kept it low key. It’s also why they preferred he remain in the terminus systems so that it wouldn’t be common knowledge.

    Despite that suggestion, I agree with the author in Shepard stumbling and never using his spectre authority except for things like removing two Asari from a travel blacklist. Shepard is passive and never defends himself.


    Shepard gets slapped.
    Paragon if you say “please let’s talk about this”
    Renegade if you say “back off asshole”
    Renegade if you hit him back.

    Natural reactions. And you pay for it later if your charm/intimidate isn’t high enough as you will be unable to choose dialogue.

    You all have excellent points, just a few thoughts of my own.

    •  @nR fLuX That’s a good point. Thank you! 

  28. Guest

    There was only 1 valid point in this entire write up. Stop pretending you’re not 16 years old.

  29. Guestguy

    The above guest is a fucking retard. Just ignore him.

  30. Guestguy

    Meant Guest below me. Either way, unless you’re some fucktard trying to twist my words, you know which guest I’m referring too. Fucking butthurt fanboy can’t understand reason.

  31. Guest

    I agree with every point

  32. guest

    This guy is a moron, they aren’t space nazis. And half the reasons you don’t even know what you are talking about. They didn’t recover the Normandy, they built a new one. If you actually payed attention to the game all your problems would be solved.

  33. SemperBeard

    Meh, I still had fun playing it, not the mineral gathering, but the shooting and killing part.

  34. Guest

    Just shut up and play the damn game. Some people aren’t happy unless they inflict judgement, criticism and negativity out in the world.

  35. some guy

    He is right on all of these points. A few points could have been put together into one , but overall it a pretty rational look at the games flaws. If you actually read his review you might see that. You said,”They didn’t recover the Normandy, they built a new one.” He said, “The Normandy gets destroyed for a reason absent from the in-game plot in the first minute or so of the game… Then you are presented with an all new Normandy to explore the universe. We are told this one is exactly the same, only better.” This is proof that you either a troll or didn’t read the explanations to his points. Even then that’s some pretty bad trolling.

  36. Nirn

    I gotta say it sounds like you just don’t like the game and while you make some valid statements, a lot of them are just expansions of your previous points.
    Also, I liked the Collectors a lot, and about the only thing they have in common with the Geth are that they are both drones of the Reapers.

  37. Anon

    LOL @ this whole article.

  38. SSP

    Agreed with every point, Mass Effect story in general is very overrated; the game itself is not bad; but I think it gets more credit than it deserves; for me it’s the most overrated good game of this generation

  39. jack

    kinda laughing at this article now that 3 is out and has the extended cut to explain a lot of things… it was fairly obvious to me that 2 served as aa bridge game in the story but if you look back at all of this most of the story points are there to cause intrigue that you get resolved in the 3rd game…. other things like all your people going tino the kodiak really don’t make sense at all… but for real tho… this person clearly doesn’t understand set up and cliffhangers, i mean shit… the end of 1 should have told you that there are a lot of things you still don’t know and we ALWAYS knew this was a trilogy series…

  40. Eric

    I didn’t agree with your “game design” article, but this one, I agreed on some of the points, especially 1 through 5. BUT ESPECIALLY 5! Ugh! That part was groan-worthy, no need to say more, you said it all there. What could have worked for 1-4 would have been if maybe you can refuse to work for them, but then constantly run into barriers to your progress, (due to lack of resources), and eventually you get another call from the elusive man and you reluctantly accept his mission. They could have made up some other organization for this game, or they could have even lied to you and not tell you that they’re funded by Cerberus. I didn’t get how suddenly they were this legitimate organization (Miranda even says they own all these corporations, which makes no sense considering what they did in the first game), but all I could think of was that admiral they murdered in the first game, and how angry that made me, yet it wasn’t present in the dialog! All there is is some vague references to the fact that Cerberus might be bad.

    Shepherd: “I ran into Cerberus in the first game, they seemed bad”,
    Miranda: “Oh but don’t worry, we’re under new ownership now, we’re not bad anymore”
    Shepherd: “OK” (blindly accepts this).