Folks, humanity has been counting down the days, and we've finally reached that inevitable moment: the Reapers are on the horizon, and will invade the planet Earth this March. Mass Effect 3 will be upon us, and all of the galaxy's Shepards - both male and female- will begin their journey to conclude the current gen's most definitive RPG franchise. This blog series will pay tribute to the franchise as we brace ourselves for the upcoming finale by chronicling my own journey and experiences with the Mass Effect series. We'll continue this series with a look at ten moments in Mass Effect's second entry that players must experience. Note that these aren't in any way listed in terms of value. DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE REVIEW, SPOILERS MAY BE PRESENT.

1) Listen To The Mad Prophet's Sermon

Location: Omega

Condition: This entertaining fellow can be found down the hall to the right of Club Afterlife's main entrance, across from Harrot's Emporium.

Description: The Mad Prophet is a parody so overt and biting that it's borderline surreal and depending on your tastes, offensive. This guy's nothing more than a parking lot preacher of the Batarian race, who routinely shouts feverish and often outlandish condemnations to the average passerby. I have to say that I couldn't help but burst out laughing as I heard this guy. I half expected him, much like in my personal experience with similar impassioned figures, to start hawking tracts from his religious affiliation to Shepard and the rest of the crowd while simultaneously damning them to be cursed due to their inferiority.

The fact that he's literally standing on a crate, his own personal "soapbox", and citing doctrine from a religious text he frequently refers to as the "Word" only adds to the subversive metafictional spectacle taking place. Of course, this being Bioware after all, there's clearly an alternate reference here as well: the character Gorton Colu, a preacher in KOTOR that spread similar hatred toward non-humans in his rants. Nice twist huh? There's even a T.S. Eliot reference thrown in there.

The Mad Prophet is abjectly entertaining, with such irrational and bigoted gems as: "The Protheans cast off the lesser races: the Krogan, the Vorcha, and the Humans. 'And so they dwelled in filth, on worlds made of dirt and ***, and there they lay until they stumbled into the skies,'" and desperate babble like "The end times are upon us! Repent and restore your souls to glory!" After listening to this Batarian spew ludicrous vitriol for a while, it's clear that the "Mad" in this Prophet's name most likely means he's crazy. Or he could be "mad" and "crazy". Go figure.

2) Conduct The Shortest Interrogation Ever

Location: Citadel

Condition: This event only happens during Thane's Loyalty mission. Shepard also must have a high Renegade alignment.

Description: This moment in Mass Effect 2 is one that I absolutely recommend to players; it's a guilty pleasure that you'll never get enough of. The basic premise involves Shepard helping Thane track down his son Kolyat in the Citadel, where he's been contracted to assassinate someone. 

After prodding a couple people for information, players discover that a criminal by the name of Elias Kelham is involved. He's been bribing Captain Bailey for quite some time, but is nonetheless willing to assist Thane and Shepard in acquiring Kelham so that they can discover who Kolyat's been hired to kill. Soon, Bailey arrests Kelham and allows Shepard and Thane to interrogate him, warning them that they have a limited amount of time before his lawyer arrives.

This is where the scene gets interesting, and has different outcomes, depending on how you play your cards. As Shepard, you can intimidate Kelham by inflicting bodily harm on him, try to persuade him with Charm, or rough him up and threaten him. However, the most impressive display of Shepard's dominance occurs during the first Renegade response; Shepard invokes the Spectre card, and by sheer force of will, along with a well-placed M-6 Carniflex, Kelham caves in and confesses without a hitch. It's a moment of pure badassery that you can never get enough of.

3) Go Fishing On The Presidium

Location: Citadel

Condition: Eavesdrop on Kargesh and Rukar

Description: You'll get the opportunity to check out this moment by walking near these Krogan on level 27 of Zakera Ward. If you listen in on them for awhile, you'll eventually hear them arguing over whether fish are in the Presidium's water and pick up the assignment. Players can find someone who can assist Shepard by heading to the 28th level, where they'll find a Groundskeeper inside of the Dark Star Lounge. Inquire about fish and he'll jokingly remark that there are in fact, no fish; the waters in the Presidium are used as a reservoir. The Turian will then direct you to the Gift Shop.

The fun comes when you decide your plan of action. Paragons can choose to tell the hapless Krogans the truth, or you can take the route I did, discovered purely by accident through one of my playthroughs: you can buy a fish from the Citadel's gift shop and trick the Krogans into thinking it came from the Presidium... for a price, of course. It's a nice guilty pleasure and easy buck to make.

4) Review The Shadow Broker's Intel

Location: Shadow Broker's base near Hagalaz.

Condition: Initiate the Lair of the Shadow Broker mission and defeat the Shadow Broker; must have completed Horizon mission

Description: After downloading this DLC, players can help Liara hunt down the Shadow Broker and track the elusive figure to his base. Once there, players can take the baddie down and afterwards, have free access to the Shadow Broker's resources. True to its name, the base is filled with lot's of intriguing accessories, including terminals Shepard can access to customize his character, as well as a terminal to pick up a shipment of resources between missions. Players can also open the shutters in the main lobby for an impressive view outside; it's clear the Shadow Broker had serious taste. However, the real entertainment comes in the additional content players can invest themselves in.

Here, there's several investment opportunities Shepard can participate in that reinforce the influence the Shadow Broker had as an information broker. There's also a video log filled with amusing and cryptic scenes that players can return to view in-between assignments. The most interesting ones involved scenes with a few of your squadmates - especially Samara, by far the most entertaining - and a couple had a few familiar faces, including one clip that actually reveals an important plot point. Yet, these weren't even the tip of the iceberg.

Players could also delve into the Shadow Broker's dossiers, detailing information that provided excellent snapshots of different character's backstories as well as interests; hint: one has a crush on a fellow squadmate, one's a poet, and another is a notorious MMORPG player. Other dossiers allowed players to glimpse at events peripherally related to the main plot. All-in-all, the experience gives players a feeling of near omniscience and unprecedented power; something no player should miss out on.

5) Watch The Dancing Turian

Location: Citadel

Condition: Initiate Thane's Loyalty mission

Description: This amusing treat occurs during the stealth segment of Thane's loyalty mission. In it, you get to catch a glimpse of a character that's completely antithetical to their personality. You remember the Presidium Groundskeeper? You know, the calm, cool and collected Turian that doesn't dance? Simply follow the mission, updating Thane as you go like usual. However, once you get inside of the Dark Star Lounge, do a little searching and you'll see a Turian mopping the floor with his awesome dance moves.

Recognize those markings and that head fringe, let alone skin pigmentation? It's definitely the Presidium Groundskeeper, and boy does this guy get down on the dance floor! The scene's pretty hilarious and is a great easter egg for players to find; it in fact became a popular meme for quite some time among the Mass Effect community, and started a search for other hidden jokes in this game. Hopefully, the normally grumpy fella will warm up and join us on the dance floor in the following sequel.

6) Crash A Bachelor Party

Location: Illium

Condition: Visit the Eternity Lounge

Description: This is one of many conversations that I enjoyed listening to. Quite simply you can head to this club on Illium after you've completed your mission on Horizon. Inside, you'll meet a few interesting people, and even have the chance to eavesdrop on a Turian trying to put the moves on his Quarian friend. However, in the Private Lounge of Eternity, you'll spot something far more interesting, and entertaining: a Salarian bachelor party.

You'll definitely enjoy this scene. The Salarian's comrades -a Turian, and a Human - banter with him about the ceremony's purpose, as an Asari dancer moves sultrily in front of them. The conversation is filled with lively and smart dialogue that's effortlessly performed, as well as a few token moments of pure comic genius. 

My favorite moments of course, are the Salarian bachelor's gradual conversion to the experience in spite of his previous reservations, and their arguments over which race the dancer resembles the most. The Human's irreverent comments are especially hilarious - one would imagine Judd Apatow was his writer - the Turian's dry sense of humor is an excellent contrast. It shows just how devoted Bioware is to maintaining its fiction, as each of the characters are distinctive, and never feel the same.

7) Help The Blue Rose Of Illium

Location: Illium

Condition: Visit the Memories of Illium store

Description: There's quite a few noteworthy moments on Illium, but this perhaps can be taken two ways: either as a hokey, but heartwarming encounter, or a chance for players to express the inner jerk within Shepard. Once you arrive at the Memories of Illium store, you'll spot a Krogan named Charr reciting some fairly Byronic poetry, in true bard fashion. By speaking with the Asari merchant Ereba, Shepard will learn that the two have been in a relationship that she's uncertain about.

The merchant fears that Charr may only want to be with her for reproductive matters, although he's aware that any children the two have will never be Krogan. It's then up to Shepard to help Ereba out, since we know practically every NPC you meet in this game will be unable to make decisions for themselves. 

Shepard can convince her to break up with Charr, or, for an added moment of amusement, Shepard can convince her to stay with him. You get a discount either way, but if you take the Paragon route, you'll have the opportunity to see the two again on Tuchanka for another amusing conversation with a bit of culture shock thrown in.

8) Watch Advertisements

Location:  The Citadel

Condition: visit various advert terminals

Description: Advertisements are another of the subtle things that make Mass Effect 2's universe so fascinating and engaging. They not only are well-performed, with tongue-in-cheek clarity, but they also convincingly critique an advertisement format currently being developed, recreating the feeling of awkwardness that would most likely result from an individual's personal information being used to attract customers. 

Among them are a fake advertisement for a film based on Shepard's exploits during the battle on the Citadel; an Asari burial robe ad that uses a ham-fisted tagline as their selling point ("We'll help you leave a good-looking corpse,"); and a commercial for a "biotic amplifier" that can help Shepard express his "masculinity". There's a Batarian fast food commercial with a hilariously long disclaimer following it, and even multiple ads for an all-Elcor performance of Hamlet that's fourteen hours long.

My favorite, however, is a series of exaggerated quips from a local "Tupari" vending machine, including one that shows just how much the Alliance has capitalized off of Shepard's image: "Commander Shepard drinks Tupari. Don't you want to be like Commander Shepard? Commander Shepard is referenced under license from Alliance military recruitment services." These well-designed adverts display Bioware's devotion to attention and detail in the all the nuances of the world they've created, and are a pleasure to experience repeatedly.

Some of the Citadel advertisements can be seen here.

9) Give A Spectre's Endorsement

Location: The Citadel

Condition: Visit the Citadel's various stores

Description: This was one of the most entertaining things to do as Shepard. Simply visit the various stores once you reach the Citadel, and depending on how well your conversations skills are, you'll be able to earn discounts. Of course, you can intimidate them to get the desired outcome, but I strongly recommend that players go the Paragon route, since you'll be deftly rewarded.

Those who charm merchants will have the honor of recording a short endorsement speech by Commander Shepard, which will automatically play each time you enter: "I am Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store in the Citadel." The funny thing is, though, that you can endorse more than one and as a result, end up with the sound byte playing at each store. The amusing scene eventually turned into a popular meme that continues to be used by fans of the series - including this blogger - as their own personal stamp of approval.

10) Be A Renegade

Location: Various places

Condition: Choose either Intimidate choices, or use the Renegade interrupt action when it appears

Description: I'm a pretty diverse player when it comes to my gameplay approach to Mass Effect. However, I myself can't resist the thrill I get from Mass Effect 2 living like a rebel. Some of Shepard's latest choices are especially sadistic in comparison to the ones available in the first game, and reflect the game's darker shift, as well as emphasize Shepard's new role working with Cerberus.

Many players who follow the Paragon path have noted that it's difficult for them to make some of the choices that Renegades make. The Renegade philosophy, after all, is primarily concerned with morally neutral efficiency, regardless of the costs, as well as an overall lack of restraint. A few examples of this are demonstrated in Shepard's choice to abandon the refinery workers in Zaeed's loyalty mission in favor of ensuring that the mercenary Vido Santiago won't have a chance to escape; the confiscation of Veetor for Cerberus questioning; destroying some of the heretics instead of rewriting them, so that chances of the Geth gaining too much power is prevented. 

Of course, the preservation of the Collector Base instead of its destruction, so that Shepard will have a chance of gaining useful technology to fight the Reapers. The choice of keeping Archer's brother within Cerberus' clutches is one of the choices that epitomize the Renegade position best. Of course, few of us actually play for that reason, among those who can stomach some of the things Shepard does.

We play Renegade for a chance to embrace the rogue and fearless hero within us that we can't always express, whether it's knocking an Eclipse guard outside of a multi-story building for talking smart; castigating a crowd of Admirals in a trial for a friend you care deeply for; putting a group of smug Turians in their place; even calling the Council out on their crap with a half-hearted reinstatement. We can be jerks, sure, but we're not bad, just misunderstood. Besides, we get the job done, and it takes nerve to make the choices we do, so respect us; we dare you to try walking in our shoes.



I've offered my own list of the things I think players must do while playing this amazing game. In fact, I had to cut some down, much to my dismay. However, I'm sure there are myriad other experiences that players can name, and I encourage fellow Mass Effect fans to participate as much as possible in this dialogue. It'll definitely help us tide the waters until Mass Effect 3 arrives and we suit up again. Four days left, until this series reaches it's culmination. It's been a journey, and I'm glad to continue sharing it.