Meet the community still obsessing over Mass Effect 2 10 years later

Is Mass Effect 2 the series golden goose or its ugly duckling? As the game passes its 10th anniversary this year, the debate rages on. Many space cadets recall their time with the game through a lens of utmost fondness, while others contend its status as the most detached and defunct entry in BioWares illustrious trilogy (Andromeda, for all its pluses and minuses, is usually not part of the same discussion).

Regardless, a decade after its release, folks from all walks of life cling to Mass Effect 2 and the events surrounding it like a vice grip, continuing to invest time, effort, and money in the maintenance of their interest long after BioWare announced its plans to discontinue the series indefinitely.

Space dress-up

Cosplayer Felicia “spacelioncosplay” Neely cites the characters and “epic story” as the elements of Mass Effect she initially gravitated toward. “BioWare has the ability to write these wonderfully complex and thought-provoking characters that surprise us with their relatability, inspire us with their actions, and sometimes divide us and break our hearts in the end,” she tells me. “You cannot help but fall more in love with them during each replay—especially Garrus, hey!”

It was these components that convinced Neely to cultivate her passion for costuming in the first place. “I was beginning to feel like maybe cosplay was a phase for me rather than a passion,” she explained. Then she played Mass Effect 2.

  • Neely used special pax paint in order to prevent cracking. @photosnxs
  • For this Aria T'Loak cosplay, Neely made all the materials from scratch. @photosnxs

“The beautiful aesthetic of the clothing and armor lit a fire inside me like no series ever had,” she adds. “There was such a wide range of textures and materials and finishes on each characters outfit—I had to make something from it! I have always loved the asari: beautiful, deadly, powerful. To me, Aria TLoak is easily the most badass asari around, so it was an easy choice for me when I decided that I wanted to bring The Pirate Queen of Omega to life.”

This was no easy task: Neely had to begin by taking hundreds of screenshots in order to assess exactly how an Aria TLoak costume would even look. She also watched scenes that displayed the clothing from different angles in order to gain an understanding of how the materials moved and looked in different lighting. Once she had a solid plan, she began the patterning process, referencing real-world articles of clothing while creating all of her own components from scratch.

Naturally, getting body paint to capture an accurate blue asari skin tone proved challenging. “I ended up using pax paint—a combination of a medical-grade adhesive and non-toxic acrylic paint that gives the paint enough elasticity to stick to your skin without flaking or cracking,” she tells me. The painting process alone takes two hours, because the paint needs to be applied in thin layers to achieve the correct look. “On my chest, neck, and face, I used a combination of Ben Nye creme colors, Kryolan Aquacolor, eyeshadows, and lipsticks for contouring,” she said.

Neely explains that this is only one small section of what was ultimately an odyssey. The countless hours of work were worth it, though, for a “final product that I was really proud of and felt great in.”

Going for speed

Fabian “tentaclepie” Sundberg has also invested a remarkable amount of time pursuing his passion for Mass Effect 2. Since 2014 alone, he has pumped about 350 hours into speedrunning the game, and he currently holds three speedrunning records on player-run leaderboards.

After playing through the first two games in the series ahead of Mass Effect 3s highly anticipated launch, Sundberg said he was struck by the drastic improvements to combat, animation, and character writing he found in the second installment. “I liked the game so much I skipped school to play,” he explains in a recent interview with Ars Technica.

  • Commander Shepard on the iconic Normandy with squadmates Tali and Thane.
  • The Suicide Mission, involving all Mass Effect 2 squadmates, is still one of the series' most revered sequences.

Sundberg has had a huge and direct influence on Mass Effect 2s speedrunning community, discovering “skips” that effectively break the games intended flow to allow for faster play times. In one particular case, Sundberg spent over 10 hours trying to find a consistent method for a new skip that involved lining up a certain angle to get past a slow-loading elevator section. He could get it to work sometimes, but there was no rhyme or reason to the success or failure; it seemed random.

“I couldn't find anything until I had the dumb idea that I should just aim into the sun,” he explains. “Bam. Worked 99 percent of the time.”

While this is the only substantial skip Sundberg says he found himself, he makes use of techniques uncovered by fellow speedrunners like Emilio and Strife in improving his own performance. “I [just] focused on getting better times and grinding it out.”

The mod squad

Sundberg notes that speedrunners used to have to sit through 10 minutes of cutscenes at the beginning of the game, until a load remover was eventually added by modders about two years ago. One such modder, Mgamerz, has played a particularly significant role in the Mass Effect 2 modding community since the release of Mass Effect 3 spawned a new wave of mods for the previous game.

Similarly to Sundberg, Mgamerz first experienced Mass Effect 2 about a week before the trilogys highly anticipated denouement. Mgamerz remembers Mass Effect 2 drastically improving on its predecessor, which was excellent at its narrative core but ultimately pretty dated. He also recalls failing to complete some of the second games side quests ahead of its iconic suicide mission, resulting in the deaths of many crew members and a particularly dramatic transition to Mass Effect 3.

Enlarge / Modding Mass Effect 2 allows you to see it from otherwise impossible perspectives.

“I don't play through the games like most people, since I dig around in the internals often,” Mgamerz explains. However, hes sure to play through the series in its entirety every couple of years, primarily to look for new mechanics and items to mod. For example, he sometimes studies how conversation stages are choreographed by wrenching the camera away from its intended position.

Although Mgamerz experiments with all three Mass Effect games, he maintains that the series second episode is a bit of an anomaly. “Mass Effect 2 is a great game as a whole,” he explains, “but not 100 percent in line with the plot of the other two games.”

Lets talk about it

Kenneth Shepard—who co-hosts the Normandy FM podcast—can definitely identify with that sentiment. “It was N7 Day 2018 when I jokingly tweeted out that I wanted to make a Mass Effect podcast going over the minutiae of basically everything,” he tells me. “An episode per mission or group of missions to discuss things as large as the major choices in each game to the smaller details you can't really dedicate time to in any other formaRead More – Source