The lights are on
Years have passed since my trek to Zorya in Mass Effect 2, but I still can’t get Zaeed’s loyalty mission out of my head. I vividly remember dropping my controller, filled with conflicting emotions. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not endorsing Zaeed as a strong character; in fact, I find him weakly-written. He had potential, but BioWare never tapped into it, and his loyalty mission didn’t exactly win him supporters. Do I find Zaeed’s loyalty mission absolutely brilliant? You bet I do.
Traveling to Zorya was the first mission to change the rules. Up until then, Shepard’s goals were simple: gain the loyalty of as many shipmates as possible so they’d risk their lives to save the galaxy. I gladly helped anyone that came along, if it meant I had a better chance for surviving the suicide mission. I even maxed out my paragon meter just so nobody would get left behind. But something interesting happened Zaeed’s mission: I wavered in my mission and questioned whether I’d gone too far.
Minor spoilers ahead, read at your own risk.
Zaeed is the antithesis of what my Shepard stands for: he clings too tightly to grudges and fails to see the bigger picture. In Zaeed’s mission, he’s after his ex-business partner, Vido Santiago, who shot him in the face. As a way to trap his nemesis, Zaeed starts a facility fire, which spreads, trapping many innocent people. Instead of doing the noble thing and saving those that he’s trapped, Zaeed urges you to press on and leave them to die so he can have his vengeance.
In this brief moment, I knew everything I needed to know about Zaeed. I didn’t want him on my squad. Who wants a soldier who won’t take accountability for his actions? I don’t care how awful Vido is, those innocent people should not become casualties in the name of revenge. Of course, I chose to save the people, which angered Zaeed because it caused him to miss his confrontation with Vido. But that showed Zaeed’s true colors, because he didn’t second-guess his actions or show any remorse. Now, if you have enough paragon points you can talk some sense into Zaeed and still gain his loyalty, but I was so repulsed that I wanted nothing to do with the jerk.
And this is why this loyalty mission is brilliant; usually we find redeeming qualities in the majority of BioWare’s characters, and here we’re thrown a curveball. For instance, Jack has a tough exterior from being experimented on at a young age. But Zaeed? I know getting betrayed and shot in the face must have sucked, but I’ve never had a character’s actions repulse me so much that there was no chance for redemption. I could even see past Ashley’s xenophobic ways because I knew her upbringing influenced it, and there was a chance she could change.
The trying part of Zaeed’s mission is that we’re supposed to want everyone’s loyalty. For the first time, I didn’t, and it created a conflict between what my conscience and the game wanted. Any time a game can make me think this much about what I should do, it’s done a wonderful job; if it can rock the boat of what’s expected, that’s even better. I may not have gained Zaeed’s loyalty, but he proved to me why he wasn’t important. Surprisingly enough, he made it through the suicide mission, which as many know, led to him gracing my presence in Mass Effect 3. I wasn’t happy about it, but if I wished him dead, I’d be no better than what I’m accusing him of. I just never went out of my way to help him…even if it meant missing out on an achievement.
Check out the scene below in paragon form.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
He does reform his ways later on, though. Also, it's not like Paragon Shepard can just leave him to die.
I like what I read, but there's one thing that irks me. You all but left out that Shepard also has the choice to kill Zaeed during the mission. There's only a vague allusion at best, and only someone who's played the mission will recognize what you meant. I always found it interesting that you had to be extremely Paragon to kill Zaeed -- it added a good dash of moral gray to the two bar morality system Mass Effect has going on. I would have preferred more moments like that, to be honest.
For once I can't say the moment stood out much to me. I understand the impact, but... a lot of that game was lost on me, I guess, compared to the first one. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I already had a character with a built-in personality. I knew I was going to pick paragon no matter what, so I kinda took the choice out of the matter before I made the choice, if that makes sense. And then he seemed perfectly fine afterwards.
For what it's worth I liked Zaeed as a character and the choice should have been more interesting than it became.
"Burn you son of a b*tch!" One of my favorite moments in the whole Mass Effect series. For anyone who hasn't taken him on the recruit archangel mission i recommend you do, to hear another quote full of badassery.
I actually liked Zaeed. He had more character than pretty much all of the other new characters.
Zaeed was probably one of my favorite characters from ME 2. I was just very impressed with the amount of detail they had for his facial disfigurement, and his rough, curt demeanor just solidified my liking of him.
I saved the workers because that was what I was going to be paid. And I also saved Zaeed ass and secured his loyalty. He helped me in the third game saving a senator. And survived yet again. He is an interesting resource to have around.
I found Zaeed and Tali's loyalty missions to be the best ones, and found Zaeed to be my favorite character. He had his job taken away from him, and almost lost his life too.
We do stupid *** when we're angry, so I saved the civvies and talked some sense into him.
Zaeed is the only character I'll choose renegade with. I usually always a paragon but I love the heck out of Zaeed's revenge scene and to me he is a BA. Sure he is partially a *** as well but to me I can overlook that quality. Besides, no one needs to know that Shepard once didn't save the civilians. Just one time, after all to make a mistake is human right?
I realized I could go back and do the paragon loyalty path a month before ME3, so I did a whole new all encompassing playthrough of the game to do that, and also teach Garrus to forgive Sidonis's betrayal. Neither pays off, not even in an email giving me a tiny amount of "Army Points".
This whole game was brilliant. I got this game pretty late, and bought like a "ultimate edition" type thing. It came with all the DLC, except for Zaeed. I had a blast with the game anyway, but i wonder if i missed something
Ugh.. Zaheed was such a shi**y character.
If you went renegade and killed Vido though...that cutscene was almost worth it.
I helped Zaeed get his revenge on my first playthrough, but only because I wanted to see if he'd be more interactive on the Normandy. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Seems like a waste of time now.
This was nothing special for me.
One of my favorite moment in the franchise was telling Kaiden to die in mass effect 1.
"I have migraines and it's so terrible. You should feel sorry for me. It's so hard being a L2."
I completely agree with this article, except it wasn't as big a deal to me. I didn't really look at it as a huge moment, but I knew that I didn't care much for Zaeed when I saw what kind of person he really was. Looking back, I guess it was sort of a big deal because this was the only loyalty mission that really made you question whether or not you wanted their loyalty. After doing the mission, I didn't care what happened to him, I would have kicked him off the Normandy if I could have.