Friday, 25 May 2012

An ME1 Import Can Make a Difference - ACT 1

I would like to introduce you to my Mass Effect 1 Commander Shepard.

She's a Spacer, War Hero, Engineer who released the Rachni, saved the Council, managed to talk Wrex down on Virmire and she couldn't leave Kaidan behind to die in the blast because of her feelings for him, plus she recommended Captain Anderson for council.  According to the Genesis comic they are the only decisions that really matter when it comes to starting Commander Shepard's story in Mass Effect 2. 

However this post is to show us how much the game can differ, even in the little things, for PS3 players simply because Mass Effect 1 is not available on PS3 and we are unable to import our own Mass Effect 1 Commander Shepard. 

Now of course this is just the story of my Commander Shepard and the decisions she made throughout Mass Effect 1, but just think that this is only one side of the story that we PS3 players miss out on.

Wouldn't you rather experience the WHOLE story?
Please excuse the graphics one of the few reasons I prefer PS3 is that my laptop is not a gaming laptop and while it doesn't do too badly it still struggles sometimes, especially in the dark scenes.

Mass Effect 2 opens with a discussion between Miranda and The Illusive Man regarding Shepard's actions from Mass Effect 1, little do we PS3 players know that the dialogue in that scene is different depending on your choices in the final Battle of the Citadel.  Because my Shepard's saved the Council and sacrifices Alliance fleets to do so this is the extra dialogue that was given.
Miranda: Saving the Citadel - even saving the council. Humanity has the trust of the entire galaxy.
Illusive Man: Our sacrifices have earned the Councils gratitude, but Shepard remains our best hope.
The next scene is the destruction of The Normandy, for PS3 players the default crew member who talks to Shepard is Liara, now I have nothing against Liara personally but for me it held a lot more meaning to have Kaidan telling Shepard ...
Kaidan: I'm not leaving either.
And the desperation in Shepard's voice when she told him to go. Now.
Shepard: Kaidan. Go. Now.
Made it really hit home knowing that the next time Shepard would see him would be two years later and on Horizon, and we all know how well that turned out!

Waking up in a Cerberus Base runs pretty much the same as the PS3, expect I would like to note that the opening of wall safes has really been dumbed down for PS3 players! On PC each time you click a button to find it's matching pair it times out if your not quick enough and there are more "connect the dots" to join before time runs out.

Anyway ... Back to leaving the Cerberus Base and heading off to visit the Illusive Man to finally get some answers.  In PS3 you are only asked about your service history and your loss at Virmire, but for imported Shepard's there is one more question before your memory is deemed to be intact.
Miranda: Shepard, think back to the Citadel, after the Alliance saved the Destiny Ascension, and you killed Saren. What happened next?
Shepard: Humanity was offered a spot on the Council. I recommended Captain Anderson for the position.
Miranda: Yes, Captain Anderson is now Councillor Anderson. Though from what I hear he preferred life in the military.
Jacob: Still, good to know that the human Council Member isn't going to put politics ahead of defence.
For the life of me I do not understand why this extra dialogue was taken out of the PS3 version, especially as the Genesis Comic allows us to choose a Human Councillor.  Even if we hadn't done Mass Effect 1, having this dialogue could help first time players to understand Anderson a little more and why Shepard would have chosen him.

Once we meet with the Illusive Man there are only a few difference in dialogue that are very subtle.

Illusive Man: They suffered substantial losses fighting Sovereign. They are rebuilding, still stretched too thin to waste resources verifying the Reaper threat.
Shepard: I cant have anybody disobeying my commands when we get there.
The first one references Sheppard's actions from Mass Effect 1, sacrificing the Alliance resources to save the council. The last one is much more polite than our PS3 Shepard's "Just remember who's in charge" line.


Once we reach Freedom's Progress and meet Tali for the first time you can refer back to Mass Effect 1 where Shepard gave Tali some Geth data files to take back to the Quarian Fleet as her Pilgrimage gift.  By taking this path it changes the atmosphere of the scene, it's almost as if you can sense Shepard relax knowing that someone from her former life is there, someone she can trust.  Plus Tali offers the information regarding why she is there and how they can help each other instead of Shepard having to ask.

Shepard: Remember when I gave you that geth data, Tali? Did it help complete your Pilgrimage?
Tali: Yes, it did. Prazza, weapons down. This is definitely Commander Shepard.
Shepard: I nearly died Tali. Cerberus spent two years rebuilding me. They want me to investigate attacks on human colonies.

Prazza: Likely story. No organization would commit so many resources to bring back on soldier.

Tali: You haven't seen Shepard in action, Prazza. Trust me. It was money well spent.

Tali: Perhaps we can work together. We're here looking for a young quarian named Veetor. He was here on Pilgrimage.

Tali: Will do. Good luck, Shepard. Whatever happens ... it's good to have you back.
At the end of the mission, once you've found Veetor and found out about the collectors you have the option to ask Tali to join you.  For PS3 players her response is that she's struggling to accept that Shepard is still alive and with Cerberus, but for an imported play it's much more friendly.

Tali: I want to, but I can't. I've got a mission of my own. It's too important for me to abandon, even for you.

Tali: When it's over, and I'm still alive, we'll see what happens.

Shepard: That sounds dangerous. What are you doing?

Tali: I dont think Cerberus needs to hear about it. But it's in geth space. That should tell you how important it is.
 Plus you get to ask Tali what her mission is, which for PS3 players there isn't that option, leading the way for the rest of Tali's story.

After reporting in to The Illusive Man we get to meet our old friend, Joker, who for those who played Mass Effect 1 is our Normandy pilot that we trust. For new PS3 players our only knowledge of who this player is from the few minutes that we see him before the Normandy is blown apart.  We don't know about his brittle bone condition and we really don't know why we should trust him.

When you are introduced to EDI and if you take the Renegade response, Miranda mentions the Alliance's VI system on Luna base which Shepard had to put a spot to in Mass Effect 1, this story line also plays out into Mass Effect 3, see here for more details.
Miranda: Shepard spent a great deal of time fighting rogue AI. Geth, mostly. Plus that incident with the Alliance's Hannibal system on Luna.
Even in that first conversation sequence with Miranda there is a very slight difference, so slight I nearly missed it, but it's still there.

Miranda: The teams you encountered before you ... accident were mostly part of our military division.
Omega is always my first port of call first to recruit Mordin then to recruit Archangel.  This time while on Omega I ran into an old acquaintance from Mass Effect 1, Helena Blake.

Helena Blake: Commander Shepard, Is that you? I'd heard you were dead?

Helena Blake: We met a few years ago, I don't expect you'd remember.

Helena Blake: You removed two criminal warlords from power and ... persuaded me to retire.  I'll never forget it.

Shepard:What brings you to Omega?

Helena Blake: What brings anyone to Omega? Opportunity? Success? Failure? All of the above?

Helena Blake: I find this place suits me. I can bring a certain ... air of civility, I suppose.

Shepard: And now your on Omega. Once a criminal, always a criminal, eh?

Helena Blake: Oh, no, Commander. I retired. I know better than to go back on my word with you.

Helena Blake: You convinced me to turn my life around. I'm a social worker now believe it or not.

Shepard: That seems like a hopeless job in a place like this.

Helena Blake: Quite the opposite, actually. This place needs it more than most.

Helena Blake: Doing the good work in a place like this requires that one understand how things truly work. Which makes me uniquely qualified.

Shepard: That's ... more noble than I expected.

Helena Blake: Noble? No. It's just that someone came along a few years ago and made me see the error of my ways.

Helena Blake: You convinced me that I could use my contacts and skills for things other than smuggling and exploitation. I thank you for that.

Shepard: Well, I'm glad to hear you're keeping out of trouble.

Once you've acquired Mordin and initiate your first conversation with him he mentions a STG Captain called Kirrahe, now for PS3 player Kirrahe died in Virmire, but fore my Shepard Kirrahe is alive and well.  It's only a small mention is Mass Effect 2 but see here for details as to how this affects Mass Effect 3.

Shepard: I worked with an STG captain named Kirrahe. His team helped me destroy Sarens cloning facility on Virmire.
Mordin: Heard he was part of that! Jury-rigged explosive? Always hot job done with limited resources. Good captain.
Recruiting Garrus runs pretty much the same across all platforms regardless of import, there where only a few subtle changes to the dialogue once on board the Normandy.
Garrus: Frankly, I'm more worries about you. Cerberus, Shepard? You remember those sick experiments they were doing?

Garrus: I went back to C-Sec after the Normandy was destroyed, but with all the rebuilding at the Citadel, there was too much chaos for me to really help.
While this mission is the same for PC, Xbox and PS3 players it holds much more meaning for those who actually spent time on the original Normandy.  As a PS3 player you start a game on a ship filled with a crew you don't know, characters you've built no relationship with and in the first 5 minutes the ship is destroyed, characters are dead and Shepard gets spaced ... The Normandy crash site is a beautiful mission with lots of emotion behind it ... if you have the context to that emotion.

The Mako: You either celebrated the destruction of the Mako or weeped, but only those who have played ME1 know the feeling of "driving" it.

The Virmire Loss: the flashback to Ashley, or Kaidan depending on your choices, has very little meaning when you've never met the character that you sacrificed on Virmire while fighting Saren.

Presley: his corrupted journal entries where touching and a nice touch for those who knew how mistrusting the XO was in ME1. But this little detail did add more meaning to his death at the beginning of the game.

There are many additional messages from people that you met in Mass Effect 1 that you just don't get without an import.

From: Samesh Bhatia

Commander Shepard,

Mr. Udina offered to pass on a message for me.  I wished to again express my thanks for your assistance in retrieving my wife's body.  While nothing can ever banish the pain of losing Nirali, being able to see that her body was treated properly helped me more than you can imagine.

I have opened the restaurant that my wife always wished to start, back on Earth. Nirali's picture hangs on the wall, and Alliance soilders eat for free.  It's the least I can do to honor the courage with which both you and my wife have served humanity.

Samesh Bhatia

From: Emily Wong

You're alive? How come you broke whatever cover you've been under for two years but didn't offer an exclusive interview to your favorite reporter?

Whenever you come up for air and are ready to talk, let me know!

- Emily Wong

From: Mom

So I have to find out my child is alive third-hand from the Alliance brass?  Where the hell have you been?

I figure whatever you're doing is classified, likely part of your Spectre operations. Just stay safe out there, and keep doing your mom proud.  And sneak something through a secure channel next time.

Your mother, Captain Hannah

From: Consort Sha'ira

Commander --

I thought that my gift of words had been incorrect - an embarrassing notion - but my contacts tell me you met survive.  I am pleased to hear that your journey continues, though I sense that you head toward an even deeper darkness.  When you fought Saren, only your resolve was tested, but not I fear you cannot rely on your own strength.  Take whatever steps you must to ensure that those battling at your side fight with clear minds and glad hearts.

Be well,
Consort Sha'ira

From: Dr Chloe Michel

Dear Commander Shepard,

I was relieved to hear that you were alive.  I was devastated to hear of the destruction of the Normandy and those people who didn't make it off in time.  After you went missing and were presumed dead, I feared I'd never see you or Garrus ever again.  You and he did so much to help clean up the Wards when you were hunting Saren.  The galaxy needs more people like you, and I'm glad that you're still here to protect those of us who've grown to depend upon both of you.

Garrus is with you again, by any chance?  After being so happy to hear of your survival, I wondered if perhaps he might have ended up with you.  I left a few messages on his public accounts, but you know how he is about checking his mail, and I don't think the comm address I had works for him anymore, because he hasn't returned my calls.  Always so busy on his grand crusades, his great passions, that he focuses on them to the exclusion of anything or anyone else.

Anyway, if you know where he might be, I would really love to hear from him.  Or both of you could come by the next time your near the Citadel.

Chloe Michel


I was actually rather surprised by the number of differences there are within the mission, first with the appearance of Rana, the Asari from Virmire, and then the talk with Okeer about the genophage and Shepard's actions on Virmire.
Rana Thanoptis: I shut down the security cams as soon as I saw it was you. Never thought I'd say it, but I'm glad it's you shooting up the place.

Rana Thanoptis: Sorry. Rana Thanoptis. You let me go when you destroyed Saren's lab on Virmire. Had to outrun a nuke in a utility pod, but it's still a second chance.

Shepard: I assume you have a good reason for being at this lab?

Rana Thanoptis: Don't worry, I'm not wasting the chance you gave me. My work here -- strictly beneficial.

Rana Thanoptis: Not for the mercs. Jedore's on a standard power trip. But Okeer is trying to do something good, I can tell. Even if his methods are a little ... extreme.

Rana Thanoptis: Everyone deserves a second chance. Right? And sometimes giving one pays off. I take care of my debts.

Shepard: What is Okeer trying to do here?

Rana Thanoptis: It's complicated. Jedore wants a private army, but Okeer mostly ignores her. He's running the project for his own reasons

Rana Thanoptis: I created a mental imprint routine to educate his tank-bred, but most don't get through it. He dumps them for some reason.

Rana Thanoptis: He wants to help his people, but he's not looking for a genophage cure, and he's not going for numbers. That's all I know.

Shepard: Finding you in a place like this makes me think letting you go was a mistake. You don't want that.

Rana Thanpotis: We agree on that. Don't worry, I plan on staying as far away from anything to do with you as possible.

Rana Thanoptis: Now if you don't mind, I'm going to run like hell before you blow this place or something. I know how you work.

Jack: Too nice. That'll bit you in the ass someday.
I wonder if Jack is right ... does is come back to bit Shepard in the ass in Mass Effect 3?
Being a PS3 player I'd have to Google to find out!

Warlord Okeer: I know you, Shepard. Your own demands will come, I'm sure. You weren't dragged back from death because someone needed a diplomat.

Warlord Okeer: Suprised? All krogan should know you, I'm sure Rana has already revisited your actions on Virmire.

Warlord Okeer: Such a tale! Saren, the Spectre traitor, threatens the return of the krogan horde by curing the genophage, undoing the gentle genocide of the turians and salarians.

Warlord Okeer: But before Saren can deliver his endless troops, in rides Shepard, securing victory through nuclear fire. I like that part. It has weight.


With the exception of the Genesis Interactive Coming for PS3 players Horizon is the first time we see and speak to the VS (Virmire Survivor) and possible romance option from Mass Effect 1.  So for many PS3 players Horizon is the reason they do not romance Kaidan or Ashley instead they choose to romance either Liara, who is available across all three games thanks to the LotSB DLC, or they choose a Mass Effect 2 character.  And I cant say I blame them ... for many Horizon is brutal and very very short! Plus there is very little indication of what their relationship was like pre-Horizon.

Even though the dialogue options and mission runs the same regardless of import ... having that history and knowledge from ME1 helps you know what Shepard is either waiting for by staying loyal or what she/he is missing out on my moving on with another companion.

And that concludes Act 1 of Mass Effect 2 and the differences a Mass Effect 1 import can make.

Stay tuned for Act 2 and Act 3 ...

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