Mass Effect 2: Post 02

Here are a few more observations now that I’ve made it a little farther into the game. These bullets come from about a week ago, though I’m only just writing them now. I got a little behind.

As for the content, it’s funny (to me) to read this one because I want to make corrections to each point. Yes, all five of them bug me at least a little now. So why post them? Remember, it’s a rolling review and I’m trying to record my thoughts as I go to see how or if they change. When I was in QA, initial reactions were highly valued because they helped the development team shape how they introduced these ideas. Right? Right. On with the show.

  • I’m not sure how much I like the decision to limit the ammunition. I appreciated the way things worked in the first title: you shoot for a while, your gun gets hot, you drop back into cover. While you’re in cover, your opponent shoots until his gun gets hot and then he drops back into cover. Repeat until someone’s dead. I can remember all the conversations we had in the office about why we were not using ammunition in ME1. So why is ME2 using it? What made them change their minds? I’ll keep an open mind but as of now I can’t see the benefit to the change.

  • There are two hacking mini-games, one representing a circuit board hack and one representing a firmware hack. For the circuit board, there are 10 icons (made up of two pairs of five unique icons) face down on a circuit board. Like the game Memory, you need to match the five pairs. Pretty easy. I don’t mind it, either. It always seems like you have plenty of time and it’s pretty mindless. The other mini-game is more challenging. There are three columns broken up into four rows of blocks of text that scroll by (see image above). Some of the blocks are red and if your cursor touches them you then it counts as a mistake (you have three chances). The object is to find a chunk of text that matches a pre-defined chunk of text and select it. After three successful matches, you hack the firmware. I’ve only done this one two or three times but so far I’m always worried I’m going to mess up and it’s not as mindless as the other mini-game. I haven’t decided if that makes me like it or not.
  • What is this planet scanning thing? I fly to an unexplored planet or moon, and hit [Y] to begin scanning. Then the game says to hit [LT] and then [RT] to launch a probe. I hold [LT] and press [RT] four or five times but I don’t see anything happening other than probes flying at the surface of the planet. I don’t understand what’s going on here. I have four mineral categories and I do not appear to be gaining anything in any of them as I launch more probes, even though the planet is listed as “Rich” in resources. Do the probes accumulate minerals over time? Was I supposed to only launch one and then leave?

  • Character creation and customization feels less rewarding than in ME1. Maybe I haven’t figured it all out yet, but it seems like you get a gun and that’s it. In ME1, you could put talent points into a gun to become better at it. You could also find weapon mods throughout the game and use them to alter how your weapon worked — that is, let it be more effective against shields or make it less accurate but deal more damage. In ME2, it seems like all of that is gone. None of my characters have any weapon skill. I guess that means I’m as good at level one with the gun as I’ll be at the end of the game. And it isn’t just the missing gun talents. In fact, each character only has a few talents (three at the start, and one doesn’t add anything new; it only makes you more proficient at your class) and they can only be advanced through four tiers. It’s all very streamlined. Again, I’m not sure if I’ll end up liking this more or less at the moment, but it looks disappointing on the creation & customization landscape.

Here's a screenshot from the web of a soldier. I have a female engineer.

  • Jumping off from the prior thought, I’m playing as an Engineer and I feel kind of useless with my gun (which is all the more disappointing since I can’t get better with it). My henchmen are far superior. They’ll take out opponents quickly while I need to nail a few head shots to do some damage. This is a stark change for me; my pistol pretty much owned the battlefield in ME1. On the other hand, I never used the Engineer abilities on the power wheel in ME1. That has drastically changed in ME2. I use the power wheel a few times in every fight with ME2. I call that a victory for BioWare to make a game that encourages you to use the controls.

4 thoughts on “Mass Effect 2: Post 02

  1. Haha. I could elaborate more on the post itself from the mind-set of Bob-from-a-week-ago, but I’ll save Bob-from-a-day-or-two-ago for later. You’ll have to wait. 😉

    But the quick summary/spoiler is that I think I now know why there is ammunition in the game (and I agree with the change), find the firmware hacking mini-game pretty easy and fun (for a mini-game), totally “get” scanning (it was a big “duh” on my part), understand how character customization and weapon customization work, and am pow-pow-powing everyone with my big, bad engineer gun. :p

  2. I enjoyed the planet scanning. It’s based on the probability of a planet containing resources – rich moderate poor… . My initial technique was very productive. pump left trigger while moving the planetary scan targeting cursor in an N-S oscillating pattern until I hit a spike in one or more of the mineral deposit columns – that’s what those scanner columns are for. Then hold left trigger down until you find the sweet spot for maximum return on your resource – then launch probe. Resource gathering is immediate.

    Make sure when it becomes available that you upgrade your probe capacity and scanner speed at the earliest opportunity. you’ll be able to carry more probes to the outlying systems that are typically resource rich without having to travel back to a fuel depot to rape a system dry. and scanning speed will speed up the targeting cursor movement while you’re actively scanning a planet.

    I agree with you on the character development. I missed the ME1 system in this iteration. Hacking; however, is easy. I’ve only flubbed a handful of hacks, and only because I was distracted by something or another – usually the pup.

  3. Tom, interesting comment on the pumping of the [LT]. I hadn’t even considered that. Thanks. As for the upgrades, I’ve upgraded the targeting reticule speed but I didn’t realize I could upgrade the capacity. 30 probes runs out after about one planet. :p I will certainly look for an upgrade.

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