Gaming Thoughts... Mass Effect 2 - most memorable moments

Mass Effect completely surprised me when it came out.  At first I was not a huge fan of it, but then it quickly became one of my favorite games ever.  Here I listed my top 5 moments from the first Mass Effect.  This time I was much better prepared - and much more anxious - for Mass Effect 2 when it came out.  I did a top five from the original Mass Effect, and I plan to do the same here.  This is a quick list of my five favorite scenes and features from Mass Effect 2.  Spoilers aplenty for this game follow.

Mass Effect 2:

5) The renegade option

In the first Mass Effect game, you could make choices and build up your Paragon/Renegade rating and this would sometimes unlock different conversational choices.  These were important as you could stave off entire firefights in side missions or greatly alter a piece of storyline if you had those options.  Mass Effect 2 took that one step further as they presented Paragon and Renegade actions.  Now with a pull of the left or right trigger button, you could interrupt the cut scene playing out by offering reassurance to a teammate or knocking a guy out a window:

4) An awesome new character - Mordin!

Mordin was such a unique character.  With his odd appearance and method of talking, it would have been easy to turn him into a Jar-Jar like caricature who annoyed at every turn.  However, something entirely different happened along the way.  Instead of being a goofy, shallow character, Mordin turned out to be a character with a very serious storyline, deep background and one of the most interesting additions to the team yet.  That said?  He also brought a good deal of humor to the table, as anyone who has played Mass Effect 2 and seen his song routine can attest.

3) And the excellent return of a prior character - Archangel!

Well, Garrus actually.  But you did not know that leading up to meeting him.  There were a lot of characters returning from the first game, but none of their arrivals were more stylish than the appearance of Garrus.  One of your quests have you going to a planet where warring factions are tearing the place apart.  Your job?  To recruit the mysterious Archangel to your cause.  When it turns out to be your former teammate and C-Sec officer Garrus Vakarian?  An awesome, unexpected surprise.

2) The Collectors attack the Normandy

It's not just that they attacked the Normandy, but that they succeeded.  The aliens were creepy enough as adversaries in the adventure, but when they board your ship and start hauling your friends and crew members away while you were on another adventure?  It is a very powerful moment in the game that helps draw the conclusion even closer while raising the personal stakes for you.  That you are in control of Joker, who can only hope to escape and has no ability to actually defend himself or save anyone adds to the tension in this scene.

1) The destruction of the Normandy and the death of Shepard

Wow, what an opening.  I see a lot of lists talking about the best endings in games, but how many introductions start off better than this one?  Arguably my favorite feature of Mass Effect 2 was that you could carry over elements of your story from the first game.  For those of us who did this, we were heavily invested in the storyline and the characters so far.  Shepard was playing through a storyline that our choices heavily shaped.

So when Mass Effect 2 opens up to the destruction of your beloved ship and character, it was memorable.  It was a risky move on a lot of fronts, but it was a clever way for Bioware to give characters a way to 'start over' with a character they had built up through the first game.  In what could have felt like a gimmick, it became a central component to the storyline of Mass Effect 2 as well as Shepard was now tasked with working for a group of people he had considered enemies before.

Any specific thoughts on this list, or experiences of your own with Mass Effect 2 you'd like to share?
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