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Miranda's "father" raised her with essentially zero friends so he could eventually fuck her while she has nobody in her life but him. A twisted backstory, and like Jack, her upbringing made her neurotic too. Its a dark theme that some players are fond of. It was fascinating that he killed dozens(hundreds?) of his "daughters" until he created the perfect one (also one that didn't from pre-birth element zero exposure typical when trying to create a biotic human).
Grunt's technical knowledge is what I like most about him, he knows has the tech know-how to build one of the most advanced shotguns in the galaxy(The Normandy SR-2 is also a weapons manufacturing facility among other things) because of his imprints from the tank he was created in. Thats pretty damn impressive technical and scientific talent, yet he clearly does not give a single fuck about academia, he only cares about battling powerful enemies and hurting people. He's even much more aggressive and violent than regular Krogan. I was fond of Mandalorian culture for the same reason I'm fond of the Krogan culture. Although for Krogan the way of life makes more sense because it resulted largely from evolutionary biology.
Its almost impossible for people not be racist against some groups in Mass Effect. The Vorcha. Uplifted from their world by the Krogan to use as soldiers. The entire race is like Beavis if he was an especially violent murderer that talks through screaming. They only live to 20, theyre the least intelligent species, they scream instead of talk, their culture entirely revolves around violence and inflicting pain. They're viewed purely as vermin. Everybody in the galaxy hates them. No "every race is created equal" bullshit you often find in other sci-fi.
I like that you research weapons instead of buy them unlike ME1. The Reaper and Geth attack on the citadel launched technology centuries forward, so you need Mordin and EDI and Normandy scientists to research the latest trends in weapons technology. Mordin is a great character, perhaps the one players are most fond of in ME2. HeÃ¢Â€Â™s a doctor, a savant, an engineer, a biologist, a commando, an arts enthusiast, a strategist, an electronician, an inventor, a dabbler in acting and theology, a mathematician, an epidemiologist, a TV personality, an assassin, an ecologist, a weapons technician, a professor, a geneticist, an amateur singer, etc. His most remarkable skills may be as an inventor. Invention in the Mass Effect universe is usually a realistic process. It involves research teams, budgets, labs, iterative development, prototypes, months or years of work. Mordin, by contrast, can whip stuff up in days or weeks. Very memorable character with a dark past.
I always liked how even though the Krogan and Asari both have ridiculously long lifespans, but Krogan fully mature in a few short years where as Asari take about 60. Its the subtle difference caused by evolutionary biology that make these games interesting.
The laws regarding genetic modification of humans were cool. Humans have the most potential for gene mods because of their diverse genomes compared to other races(probably one reason why the Reapers are obsessed with them), but its illegal to give a human a tail, or make them able to digest cellulose for example. Their are pre-birth modifications, and post birth modifications, both expensive usually, which human soldiers get for free. Most of Miranda's modifications are probably illegal.
The Blue Suns are an interesting faction, moreso than the other mercenary organizations portrayed. 50% a goods distributor(you name it, they can get it), 50% a quasi-criminal mercenary faction. They also run a massive prison ship as extortion racket(threatening to release extremely dangerous criminals on their homewords if they don't get paid by those worlds' governments) and secret slave market. I liked how despite the fact that they were criminals, they still have an advertising campaign ingame. It was founded by 2 humans, but they keep that secret to appease batarians so they put a figurehead with no real power in charge. They have both the official and unofficial accounts of their history in the codex.
Omega was cool, I like how there's zero laws, even murder is legal there. Like Tatooine in Star Wars before the Empire arrived. There's also the theory that ME2 is Shepard's personal afterlife, which is highlighted by the fact that one of the first places you visit in ME2 is a nightclub on Omega called Afterlife.
Kinetic barriers(aka shields) finally give us a game with an explanation as to why people just eat dozens of bullets and don't die, unlike games like Fallout where people survive shot after shot after shot to the head. Salarian(the smartest race) engineers had to figure out how to make Kinetic barriers deflect something as fast as a bullet, but not have it send the chair you're sitting in flying across the room. There's also biotic barriers and armor. (example: To kill a biotic Krogan you have to 1: Penetrate the kinetic barriers 2: Penetrate the biotic barrier 3: Penetrate the advanced armor(theres a whole scientific explanation of how armor works in the codex) 4: Defeat their tough bullet eating biology 5: Kill them faster than they can regenerate. Thats a lot of gunning). Its nice to have an ingame explanation for why it takes so long to kill people despite having futuristic weaponry. Other video games don't do this.
I fondly remember having the fastest ship in the galaxy, and that the fastest ship is a human ship (although the turians helped develop it, which you can get in trouble about with your commanding officers for lying about in interviews) despite them being newcomers to the galaxy, and that it cost over 100 billion credits to build. The only stealth ship in the galaxy. Its also a state of the art research facility, a weapons/armor manufacturing plant, the most advanced cyber-warfare facility in the known galaxy, a mining vessel with ore-refining equipment and metallurgists to manage the process. Shit is pimp. The Normandy is the Naval equivalent of a concept car. It is a one-of-a-kind prototype to test several innovations in the field. A cooler ship than you get in other games I'm aware of.
You don't have a single fond memory of this game? Tasteless. Mass effect 2 is far from shallow.
Also there are no good mods for ME2 except for the one where you can make biotics work even if the enemy is wearing armor or using shields or a biotic barrier, making biotics not a complete and utter joke on the 2 highest difficulties. That mod is the only one thats an absolute must. So you're right about one thing, the game needs some modding to function.
Are they long? What should I expect? They're on my list.