By Alec Meer on March 5th, 2012 at 1:01 pm.
Tomorrow (or Friday in blighted Blighty) is Mass Effect O’Clock, and the day when we discover whether or not the purported conclusion of Shepherd’s adventures can live up to over a year of having enough marketing to make twenty Daikatanas a success fired continually at our exhausted eyes and ears.
Which means we have scant hours/days to ensure we get the ME3 we want. I’m in a tricky situation whereby the crew I wound up with at the end of ME2 is not the crew I’d want in ME3: is endlessly replaying the climactic ME2 suicide mission until the right folk make it out alive my only hope of rewriting my destiny? Nope! Mass Effect 2 spoilers and savegame-fiddling below.
If you’ve played Mass Effect 2 to conclusion, and presuming you’re not some manner of perfect, blessed god of gaming who 100% everything and didn’t put a foot wrong, you’ll know that its climactic battle usually results in the seemingly and horrifyingly arbitrary loss of some of your team. I really, really screwed up. It was a massacre.
With an awful, incomprehensible knowingess, my game summarily executed my three favourite cast members, Legion, under-appreciated DLC character
Leslie Grantham Zaaed and Mordin – even though I’d done all their loyalty stuff, upgraded them to the max and spent all the time I could with them.
Oh, and Tali and Jack also bought it, but while sad about it I can deal with the loss of the former and am overtly looking forward to an ME3 free from the latter’s posturing. (Yes, yes, a sad past and a fierce combatant, whatever – she’s still a prick).
At the time, I was resolute that I would accept these losses. They were, in a way I didn’t even begin to understand because ME2 is so opaque about the conditions which affect the outcome of the suicide mission, causalities of my decision-making, and for that reason their deaths were genuinely powerful, resulting in an ending that carried personal weight as well as a cutscene. This was the world I had made, and it was only right that my future adventures would bear the scars.
Time passed. Mass Effect 3 drew closer. And I was faced with the increasingly dark prospect of saving the universe without jabbered bon mots from the singing Salarian scientist, trying to read emotion into Legion’s Shockwave-esque mono-eye or hearing surly, growled, Laaaahndaaadhn admiration from Space Dirty Den. Mass Effect 3 seems dramatically less appealing. And, while I would ideally like to accept that this is roleplaying and that it will actually lend something to my ME3 experience, I do feel somewhat resentful about the extent to which ME2 randomly sucker-punched me and didn’t seem to reflect the Loyalty decisions I’d focused on.
So, I replayed the suicide mission repeatedly, as much as my remaining savegames would allow (it was too late to reselect who crawled through the vents, for instance). I was aware that sending Mordin back with the crew when asked to pick massively increased his chances of survival, but I couldn’t get that far – he’d always get shot by Collectors just after he emerged from the overheating ducts I’d sent him through. Once, for some reason, Legion made it through. Jack survived a couple of times. I couldn’t seem to get Uncanny Miranda or Plastic Jacob killed off if I tried.
Twitter directed me to Masseffectsaves.com, which offers a large repository of other people’s savegames. There were plenty where the entire cast made it out alive, plenty where those I wanted to survive survived, and plenty that broadly reflected the generally Paragon choices I’d made throughout ME1 and ME2.
The option to enter a ‘face code’ into ME3 when it came out in theory ensured I’ve had a Shepherd that looked like my (gaunt-cheeked, Michael Jackson-nosed) female commander, not whatever strangers the savegames’ creators had come up with. Still… it just wasn’t my game. With one of these, ME3 wouldn’t be a continuation of my choices, even if it did contain most of them. I felt as uncomfortable as a man wearing underpants made from stinging nettles about that.
Another option – as seen in the ME3 demo, simply answer the questions at the start of the new game to come up with a universe that reflected some of my decisions and failings. Again though, it’d be humming along to someone else’s tune.
So the third option is the Gibbed savegame editor, which enables all sorts of cheaty save hacks to expedite your progress through ME2. It also allows modification of the cast and crew’s status after the Suicide mission. That’s what I’m going with so far, though it’s a little arcane (each crew member has a good half-dozen different end game status toggles to flick). But everyone I want to be alive is alive, and Jacob and Jack are dead. Well, technically. Jacob is listed as dead and can’t be selected for missions, but he is still on the ship and up for a boring chat. Hmm.
I do now have all the fish and model spaceships in Shepherd’s quarters though, so there’s that. More experimentation is needed, but I think I’ve worked out how to entirely eradicate Jacob. It’s going to work out. I will still carry the guilt of Mordin, Legion and Den’s deaths with me, and now also the guilt of forcibly altering my own destiny, but the prospect of finding them alive and well in ME3 is a happy one.
So play it again, Mordin. It’s good to have you back, you weird-faced, speed-talking, guilt-stricken architect of partial genocide.