Gaming Moments Of The Year #2: Mass Effect 2

All the big guns have come and gone. The best games are all now on shelves and we’ve just decided on our game of the year. Now we’re taking a look at our 10 favourite gaming moments of 2010. Be aware that these are just my subjective choices – feel free to let us know some of your favourites in the comments below.

Shepard's Speech I loved Mass Effect 2 as much as any game released last year - but I wonder what it says about the game itself when my favourite moment was one in which I had very little participation. Despite it’s branching, supple narrative, and its multiple customisation options – my favourite moment in Mass Effect 2 was rigid, stiff – and I very little control of it.

I’m talking, of course, about Commander Shepard’s speech towards the end of the game - just before you undertake the mission that most likely left some of your team members dead.

It’s weird. Despite being a huge Hideo Kojima fan, I’m firmly of the belief that games should be played and not watched, but I also believe in the power of context - and the manner in which Shepard’s speech dovetails Mass Effect 2’s story, and hurtles it full speed towards the final act is utterly masterful and the reason it works is context.

It feels epic. Mass Effect 2 works because you are constantly working towards one clearly defined goal, everything you do is focused on this single mission, a mission you are constantly being told you will not survive. When you finally head into the Omega-3 relay to save the world, it feels like a perfectly paced, incredible climax to an epic adventure.

But Shepard’s speech isn’t just incredible because of context, it’s incredible because it also provides context – it sets the stage for the final battle, and gives it a real grandiose feel. After spending 25 hours in Bioware's overwhelmingly dense universe, it provides a razor sharp focal point for the entire game and a segue way into the finale. You’d think that the extensive preparation for the final battle would be enough, but Shepard’s speech, and the fact that you have even the tiniest bit of control over what’s being said makes it feel significant. So too does the response of your crew – a misfit bunch, a Dirty Dozen-esque group of rogues. When even they, who have opposed you at every turn, come round and unite as unite it feels heavy. It feels like a breakthrough and hammers home the intensity of the situation.

It’s simply a great example of video game storytelling, and I wish more games had the capacity to elicit those same feelings.


Comments

    I have a friend (who will probably read this, hi tony)

    Who killed off every single member of his team he had non alive whatsoever for that speech. He spent countless house honing it so he could just squeak though to that final speech.

    AND Bioware made the Mercinary fella turn up miraculaously not dead so he could do the speech to 1 dude

    was classic :)

      Countless house? :p

    *He spent countless hours.

    Only 25 hours? Did your team survive??

    Maybe I overprepared my guys, but it took > 40 hours ... :)

      Same here, I prepared like I had OCD. Think I ended up at around the 45 hour mark when I decided it was time to go in, and that was before I bought the DLC.

    I tried my hardest to have everyone survive but i couldnt do it.
    And i felt horrible that some died :(

    I wanted to play it through again and make everyone survive but didnt have time. Perhaps when the PS3 version comes out i can do it.

    Also i wanted to make sure that i finshed all missions, but i accidentally activated the countdown to the final mission too early. Wish they gave me a warning or something :(

    Mass Effect 2 was great to play through, but in hindsight there wasn't much I found to be memorable. Characters were (largely) great, variety in missions and locations was good - and it was by no means underwhelming... I think I've just enjoyed other games more.

    And even though I oppose FMV/cutscenes doing all the heavy lifting in theory, in reality I LOVE good cinematic sequences in games (whether you have direct control or not). It must be because they're so polished and what you get is exactly as intended.

    I loved the cinematic moments of the game's epic speeches as well, but if anything I was more impressed with the conversations between the Illusive Man and Shepard. It was a very nice 'battle of ideas' moment that fleshed out the motivations of Cerberus and what Shepard was actually fighting for.

    Definitely looking forward to moar epic speeches in the third game.

    As someone who played through a majority of side missions etc, keeping the crew alive seemed pretty easy and straightforward to me - pick 'volunteers' for the different jobs based upon their abilities.

    I really enjoyed the ending of ME2 - it really sets the stage for the future of the franchise.

    Correction: segue is the whole word, pronounced 'segway' - no need for 'way' after it.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/segue

    Funny, I can hardly remember that speech. I mostly remember that only two people died in my game...two of my favourites...urgh!

    So, what will moment #1 be? I think I might have an idea or two, or six...gun....

    There were so many great moments in Mass Effect 2. I don't think I can choose a favourite out of:

    Seeing Jack for the first time. I was expecting some guy and instead got a bald chick. What made it even better was one of my companions, I can't remember if it was Garrus or Jacob, saying "that's Jack?" which was exactly what I was thinking.

    When Arch Angel took off his helm and I saw it was Garrus.

    When you meet Wrex again. The way he greats you is just so touching.

    Reading the log from Navigator Pressly in the Normandy crash site DLC. I really liked seeing how Shepard has changed his opinion on aliens.

    When Miranda cries at the end of her loyalty quest. I'd never really been a big fan of her character but that moment really touched me and is one of the very few times I've ever seen a video game character cry.

    The quest were you play as Joker. That thing about Pi had me in stitches.

    ** Omega 4 Relay ** >.>

    The entire game was epic for me, every step just one more nail in the coffin, driving deeper and deeper.

    A game that grabs you by the nuts and the next thing you notice is sunshine coming through the window, leaving you with just a few minutes to get ready for work.

    ... except for the finale. Given everyone else has spoilar'd, why can't I. There is no sense to be had in the human lookalike Reaper. Why not have a human flying around space like superman, spouting "i'll be back". Really left a foul taste in my mouth after everthing else the game built up to. They could have had an identical ending, only have your claw-shaped Reaper from the first and third games being fed human meatshakes.

    This truly was one of the best experiences all year. I'm not just talking bout space pimpin'. I'm one of those sad cases that depleted EVERY SINGLE PLANET. Didn't lose any team members and took bout 35 hours. Can't wait for ME3.
    BTW was anybody else concerned that Shepard was being replaced the first time they saw the new trailer and before the guy said "Shepard"?

      35 hours? Amateur! I think I was up to 70 hours by the time I finished all the DLC!

      Seriously though, I was so immersed in the game over the space of a couple of weeks that I honestly don't know where all that time went.

      I basically spent a sold month wringing every last drop of content out Mass Effect 1 then Mass Effect 2. So my main memory of this game is "September 2010".

    I only lost Jack which was great b/c I couldn't stand her (it) and am quite relieved she died - I won't have to put up with her in ME3.

    im in the middle of a second playthrough right now. legion died. i can not have legion die.

    To be fair, despite what everyone makes of it. The Suicide Mission isn't some do-or-die where the very lives of your trusted companions is up to the will of the gods. They heavily imply which characters are good at which tasks, and it's fairly easy to scrape by with everyone even if you've never done it before.

    Oh man where do I start... Losing legion with my good Shepard was so sad, not having him in ME3 will suck. But the fact I got upset and actually a little bit distraught when Shepard stood there at his coffin reminiscing , is a testament to the fantastic story telling of the series.

    Two superb moments - Getting drunk with Dr Chakwas and reminiscing. And re kindling my romance with Liara in the Shadow Broker DLC, so stoked.

    Cannot wait for ME3!!

    First play through, no deaths. After that, I started experimenting on how to strategically kill off certain characters. To have everyone survive the final mission, make sure you have everyone's loyalty before you go get the IFF (It will require a relatively high Paragon/Renegade score). Use Tali/Legion (if loyal) as a specialist for p.1, Garrus/Miranda/Jacob for fire team leader. Miranda can survive as fire team leader even if she's not loyal. P.2 is the same. Jack/Samara as specialist, same options for fire team. Have a 'squishy' character lead the remaining crew to Normandy (Mordin/Tali/Kasumi). Take 2 loyal teammates to the Finale. The end. Everyone survives.

    It was a puaeslre to do a beer brainstorm with you – I look forward to our next… and hopefully the beer we taste will have a ton more flavor. Cheers!

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