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Countdown To Mass Eff3ct, pt 14: My Favorite Battles Of Mass Effect

Folks, humanity has been counting down the days, and the Reapers are here. It's time for all of the galaxy's Shepards - both male and female- to fight them and conclude their journey in the finale of the current gen's most definitive RPG franchise. This blog series has shown you my own journey and experiences with the Mass Effect series, and now it's time to conclude it. We'll take a look at the battles that I consider to be the best in the series thus far. They are not listed in any particular order. DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE REVIEW, SPOILERS MAY BE PRESENT.

 

Matriarch Benezia


So you'd reached Peak 15, discovered Binary Helix was cloning Rachni per the Matriarch's order, and fought through them and possibly Benezia's hired guard to reach this notorious biotic. Of course, nothing could prepare you for the world of hurt she'd give you, with a pair of Asari Commandos and deadly Geth snipers assisting her in multiple waves. I also can't forget the lack of cover players had, as well as how powerful Benezia's weapons were, rapidly weakening my shields and my health. This battle took lot's of strategy, and any foolish mistakes would painfully remind me of this fact. With her biotic powers in full swing, she was also protected by an impenetrable barrier as well; it was clear that a guns-blazing approach would never end successfully.

The first thing I needed to do was find shelter from Benezia's constant rate of fire; taking out the Geth across from us provided a nice spot that prevented any of her attacks from reaching us. Patience at times was also necessary with each wave of Snipers that accompanied Benezia's formidable Commandos. After all, you didn't want to suddenly get killed by a Sniper in a critical shot. Infiltrators, however, with the excellent range of their weapons, had this challenge in the bag. Once you defeated every wave of enemies, players were given a brief respite before yet another battle with the incredibly powerful Matriarch and her Commandos, although this battle was far easier than the previous one. Either way, this showdown was something players would not forget, and remains one of the highlights of the first Mass Effect.


Nepmos - Listening Post Alpha

This battle is only available to players after you've completed Noveria and the Listening Post Theta assignment. Travel to the Erebus system in Styx Theta and land on Nepmos, where you can find the Listening Post. Here, you'll run into a small group of Alliance marines being attacked by Rachni. Once you've assisted them with the first wave, players can talk to the Lieutenant for a sitrep: out of 90 marines, they were the only remaining survivors from a devastating attack by the neighboring Rachni. More were guaranteed to come, and Shepard had a choice to make.

Players could attack them with the Mako, or they could plug the Mako into the neighboring generator so that the automated rocket turret could function. I did the latter, and joined my fellow marines as we fought off legions of Rachni in a continuous assault that I could imagine translating extremely well in film. I preferred a role as an Infiltrator in this particular battle, picking off the creatures as we held the line. Once we'd finished, I can't quite express the satisfaction I felt for assisting a fellow soldier. Of course, killing these feral clones didn't hurt much either, especially when I traced them down to their lair. I think this battle's a pretty underrated moment in the game; one that has a measure of depth beyond the typical "kill said mercenary at vanilla base" assignments I encountered.


Ilos


Ilos, the final planet we'd visit before we faced off against Saren. A mystical place, and a rather pessimistic picture of a society that the entire narrative had revolved around. Yet, its sanctity was now lost, as Geth patrolled the ancient ruins in anticipation of Shepard's arrival. We battled numerous troopers, Shock troopers, a few Snipers, Hoppers, and our fair share of Armatures until we reached the heart of Ilos' ruins, where its security terminal could be found.  

Deep inside of this ancient base, players were greeted to one of the toughest ambushes in the game, as Shock Troopers, Destroyers, and numerous Geth Prime began attacking you in full force. Nothing was sacred, it seemed. This chaotic and frenzied showdown required lot's of quick thinking and luck, in some cases. This luck largely depended on how skill-full a hacker you were: players could activate the four dormant armatures, quickly alleviating the threat players faced. This battle eventually became a cinch, and is something I remember for nostalgic reasons. 


Balak's Headquarters

Everyone who's played Bring Down the Sky should remember this battle, the high point of the DLC. You've come to the point of no return while trying to stop the crazed Batarian terrorist in his plot to attack a human colony on Terra Nova with an asteroid he's hijacked, and things certainly don't get any easier. Once you get inside, you're treated to a hectic battle in an impressively designed and expansive lobby, filled with Batarian soldiers of various types and those annoying Defense drones. The ability to scale the stairs to reach other levels also added a nice element of strategy to this battle. However, even after you'd defeated the first batch, the battle was far from over. 

You then had to choose whether you'd pursue Balak and risk the death of the hostages, or let him go so that he could spare them. Either way didn't end pretty, because you still had to deal with those annoying Defense Drones; choosing to fight him gave you more Batarian enemies and an opportunity to catch this psycho before he had another chance to attack another human colony. Regardless, it was a thrilling battle and an excellent departure from the monotony players typically faced in vanilla mercenary bases. 


Stolen Memory - Gunship Battle


The Loyalty Mission had some nice variety that offered players an experience that felt much like a scene from a spy film. The new outfit for Shepard wasn't too shabby either. Of course, just when you knew things were going well, the jig was up and Donovan Hock had his troops chasing you down as you tried to escape. The true showdown had yet to begin, though.

Once players reached an exit to Hock's mansion, Shepard ended up facing off against Hock's well-armored Gunship and a legion of troops and mechs that continued to approach from multiple positions. This was an intense and well-thought out battle with excellent production, execution, and that nifty - and traditionally overblown - scene with Kasumi disrupting Hock's shields. Akin to a true spy adventure, things ended with a bang as Hock's gunship exploded with the killing shot. An adrenaline-laced experience that I can't get enough of. 



Jedore


This mission occurred on Korlus, when I was attempting to recruit Warlord Okeer. I'd fought through waves of her Blue Suns troops and even faced off against several fierce Krogan consecutively in a taxing battle requiring a mixture of haste and patience. However, nothing took the cake like battling Jedore inside one of their breeding facilities. Avoiding her projectile attacks while attacking a YMIR mech were tough enough, but the Krogan constantly approaching with predatory disregard forced me to use my squad's skills as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

More Krogan would appear as breeding chambers released them, further complicating the matter, and my first time fighting Jedore and her feral minions was a long, grueling affair. However, with time, I learned a neat trick: killing Jedore first would immediately prevent more Krogan from being released over time, which in turn would provide me with plenty of room to focus on the YMIR mech hunting me down. The battle was a learning experience that I would continue to take advantage of in other encounters - such as Warden Kuril's boss fight.


Horizon (Final Encounter with Harbinger)


The first time I encountered Harbinger was a welcome surprise. His ability to possess any Collector enemy on the battlefield especially made the battle frantic, and in more stressful situations, almost paranoid. Tack onto this ability the projectile attacks he could use against you, the wealth of husks chasing you down, an attack against Scions, and another showdown against a Praetorian, and you have a battle that requires Shepard to make the most of the cover in the open environment. As my first truly challenging experience with Harbinger, this battle set the tone for the rest of the game. 


Collector Ship Ambush


The Collector Ship: Shepard had finally found a lead on the elusive species working for the Reapers. Inside, an even bigger find would be revealed: the Collectors were re-purposed Protheans, altered by the Reapers until they were merely shadows of their former race. As the developments unfolded, players learned that the supposedly defunct ship was also the same that had attacked the original SSV Normandy on the day of Shepard's death. Before they had a chance to truly prepare themselves, Shepard's crew were on a rising platform in the middle of a trap.

This is one of the most frustrating battles in Mass Effect 2, especially on Insanity. Immediately, players find themselves flanked on both sides by Collectors with particle beam rifles and a Scion that shifts its position, all while your party is stuck in a small area with extremely limited cover. To make things worse, yet another platform will appear in front of them with another Scion eventually, as well as more Collector drones. The battle takes quick wits and an effective use of your squad to overcome the grave disadvantages you have, and remains one of my favorite encounters ever.


Grunt's Loyalty Mission

To be honest, I loved this Loyalty Mission. It was short, sweet, and action-packed with some great surprises. Players found themselves fighting with Grunt as his krantt and facing waves of enemies in this Krogan rite of passage. The first wave was merely a huge pack of Varren - depending on the difficulty, they could get challenging with special shields. The battlefield however, was open and provided players with lot's of room to choose a position. 

The next wave, however, was far more interesting. In this battle, Shepard and Grunt faced off against mysterious lifeforms known as Klixen, that slowly hobbled their way toward you and spewed fire once they got within range. Killing them - except when you froze them in certain cases - usually resulted in a large explosion, potentially damaging you in the process. The battle was exciting, with these enemies showing up in several places and swarming you. I found myself constantly on the move in this situation, struggling to stay one step ahead of the slow, but deadly creatures - which resemble, coincidentally, giant red Tickers from Gears of War.

Once I'd defeated the Klixen horde, however, I waited in suspense as the final enemy appeared: a gigantic Thresher Maw, an acid-spitting worm that routinely changed its position between attacks. Some of the pillars that players had trusted for cover from other enemies were toppled in a couple shots from their waves of acid, and I soon found myself sprinting for cover while picking off the ferocious creature. While it was nonetheless satisfying to defeat this lethal behemoth, the true challenge came with defeating the creature within the allotted time limit. It also made the boss battle against Gatatog Uvenk and his clan a walk in the park.


Object Rho- Arrival


What player that completed Arrival doesn't remember this infamous skirmish? After realizing you'd been led directly into a trap by Kenson and her crew, players found themselves fighting solo as Object Rho slowly accumulated power. Indoctrinated crew flanked Shepard on both sides with flashbangs, Incinerates, tech drones, and the occasional Pyro troop, sneaking in to catch you off-guard. It was a brutal battle, and I won't be afraid to admit that I lost the first time I played it. Surprisingly, I found that my defeat was nonetheless a necessary part of the game's narrative. However, that didn't stop me from shooting for the achievement.

I used a Sentinel in my next playthrough, taking advantage of their increased shielding power as I picked off each enemy I possibly could. Things didn't easier though. As the fight continued and Object Rho drew closer fully charging itself, I faced off against, out of all things imaginable, a YMIR mech! I couldn't just camp around anymore and found myself scrambling around the congested room and hiding behind columns while picking off shots. Once I'd defeated it however - on Insanity, might I add - and survived all the waves of indoctrinated enemies, I couldn't help but smirk in content. I was a one-woman/man army.


CONCLUSION:


This is the end, folks. Or better yet, a beginning. The Reapers are here, and it's time for me to suit up and continue to serve Humanity in the way that I can. It's been a thrilling ride doing this tribute to one of my favorite series in the history of this gaming generation. In a way, you could call it a rite of passage, no pun intended; a means of proving myself. I'd say, against all odds, I've succeeded. I'll let you guys judge how effective I was. 

This blog was a look at the battles that inspire me when I think of Mass Effect overall, and I'm sure with the latest entry, there will be many more. I could name quite a few in fact, at this very moment, but won't, for spoiler's sake. So, while you're traversing the galaxy and dodging Reapers in different systems, you'll hopefully have your own morsel of hope in light of the heavy times sure to come. I'm Commander Shepard, and I've got some @&# kicking to do.


WHAT ARE YOUR MOST MEMORABLE BATTLES IN THE SERIES? WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE THIRD ENTRY? 

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