Archive for February 10th, 2010

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Mass Effect 2: Prepping for the Final Journey

February 10, 2010

The index finger of my left hand has completely locked up, and I have no one to blame for it but myself.

I’m coming upon the final mission in Mass Effect 2, and at this point it’s all about tying up loose ends. That means finishing any leftover quests in my journal, visiting any unexplored systems, and making any incomplete upgrades to my team and ship.  The last of these requires a ton of resources, much of which can only be obtained through scanning and launching probes at a planet until it looks like some kind of freaky overgrown blowfish. Over the last couple of days, I’ve spent most of my time in this game holding down the left trigger button on the Xbox 360 controller performing these scans (I guess even here you can’t escape the dreaded farm), so serves me right for being a completist. On the other hand, my armory is now the envy of every weapons enthusiast in the galaxy.

Warning: The following section contains spoilers! You have been warned!

Area(s) covered: Derelict Reaper

All along, I had been expecting a final addition to my crew due to the presence of an empty slot in my squad list, and so I wasn’t surprised when I finally got to meet Legion. It’s kinda neat to be able to see a Geth up close without worrying about it shooting me in the face. Apparently I need to work on repaying the favor, because I kept accidentally firing on him during his personal quest (what can I say, I’ve been conditioned too well when it comes to AHHH IT’S A GETH! KEEEL EET!). To be honest, Legion hasn’t really been impressing me outside of combat. He has got to be the most infuriating squad member to talk to. While I realize that some of that was intended, something else isn’t adding up here. So you say your race can govern yourselves efficiently because you can process data with thousands of your buddies at the speed of light, eh? Well, in the end you still needed me to make the big decisions for you, so ha.

Things are also looking up on the romance front with Garrus, who is currently busy “researching” for his special night with Shepard. Well, there’s no shortage of primary resources on the internet, my Turian friend! On a related note, Shepard discovered male-enhancement junk mail on her private terminal the other day. Even the Cerberus spam filters can’t stop them, what chance do we have?!

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Surviving as a Squishy Ship

February 10, 2010

Becoming a Commander and receiving my Heavy Escort starship was an exciting event to say the least, but reaching this milestone was also a wake-up call. Yeah, you’re climbing up the ranks and getting new abilities, but then again — so are your enemies. They’re bigger and badder with more tricks up their sleeves, and sure enough, I found myself barely making it out alive during the first few space missions on my new ship. While I may come out victorious, limping from the battlefield with your hull short-circuiting like a lightning storm is hardly a satisfying experience. Escort ships may be armed to the teeth, but we’re arguably more fragile than our cruiser and science ship counterparts. Therefore, my main priority now will be to find ways to boost my survival. After all, all the firepower in the world won’t do squat if you can’t stay alive.

Here are my current observations and recommendations for maxing escort survivability, with a strict focus on PVE. Definitely a work-in-progress, and keep in mind a lot of it is based on my own personal play style and experimentation, so not all of this may meet every captain’s preferences.

First things first:

Shield Power Settings:

I’ve found that allocating at least 50 power (100% regen) to shields is a must. Even then, I found this a little lacking. However, pushing it up to 75 (200% regen) also felt like I was gimping my weapons too much, as that’s where the extra power was mostly coming from. In the end, I believe I found the balance at 60 power to shields, which feels adequate for now when combined with the usage of certain defensive abilities.

Bridge Officer Abilities:

Speaking of defensive abilities, this was the next area I sought to tackle. I’m currently trying to get my bridge officer abilities in order, especially in the science and engineering departments (tactical will be reserved for pure damage boosting abilities). Here is what I’ve decided for my current set up:

Engineering Bridge Officer abilities:

- Emergency Power to shields (so so so useful)
– Reverse Shield Polarity (just got this abilities for my new engineering ability slot and I love it! Converting all incoming energy weapon damage into additional shields makes this ability a must have)

Science Bride Officer abilities:
Lots of options here, but here are the two I’m playing with right now…

- Science Team (the best part about this of course is the instant shield repair in all directions. I just added this ability and I’m really liking it, a solid contribution to survival)
– Jam Sensors (I just replaced Tachyon Beam with this because the former just wasn’t cutting it — especially since I’m running at lower-than-average auxiliary power levels, and there are better abilities out there. Jam Sensors is fun because it prevents the enemy from targeting you, and I’m finding that using this ability is a great way to zerg ‘em hard and fast! As to how much it’ll help me live longer…it sure makes for a nice panic button, but I’ll need more time with it before I make up my mind)

And now for starship equipment…

Ship Shields

When it comes to shields, I find the only ones worth having are either Regenerative or Resilient. I’ve had experience playing around with both, and in my opinion Regen is slightly better for survival.

Ship Consoles

I’ve made many adjustments in the console department since making the decision to increase my chances of survival (again mostly for science and engineering, tactical consoles are reserved for the pew pew) and I think I’ve decided on the following:

Engineering Console – I’ve mostly been playing with damage resistance consoles so far, and my conclusions are that they’re pretty decent. However, I’ve just switched to one with shield regen as I’m curious as to whether or not it’ll make me less squishy. So we’ll see how that goes.

Science Console – Before this, I had been using the + to deflector dish because of Tachyon Beam, but now that has to change, maybe to a +crew or a +sensor array console. Haven’t gotten around to making a decision, so this area is still a work in progress. All I know is, whatever gets chosen will be one that boosts a Science Bridge Officer ability.

It’s only been a for a short time , but so far this new set up seems to be working well for me. I’m automatically screwed anytime I let one side of my escort ship’s shields become vulnerable, so I find anything that will help boost shields and keep them intact are good things to have. To be sure, I’m no longer coming out of my PVE battles as a smoking heap — hull integrity is usually still at 90% or more and I’m none the worse for wear. Of course, a lot of it also depends on knowing which abilities to use and when to use them, but in general the changes above have helped dramatically. Please feel free to offer your comments and opinions on this, or help me out in case I’ve missed something. As I said at the beginning of this post, my set up is still a work-in-progress, and any tips on how to become less squishy (especially for future upgrades!) is always appreciated.

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