In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard’s ship gets cut in half by a laser beam and his body gets fried up in space and he dies a horrible death. THE END.
Actually, a shady corporation (Cerberus) puts a considerable amount of resources and money into resurrecting him with needles and fluids and buzzing machines via a process they have dubbed “The Lazarus Project”. Way to strain your imagination naming your incredible new technology that gives life back to the dead. “Hey what was the name of that guy in the bible who came back to life?” “Uh..Lazarus” “Let’s call this thing The Lazarus Project” “It’s not the Zombie Machine no more?” “Nuh-uh.”
Commander Shepard works for Cerberus now! In the first game he was a take-no-shit-from-anyone Alliance military captain who hated Cerberus and now he’s their undead corporate enforcer. Shepard answers to The Illusive Man, ably played by Martin Sheen, a hard drinking cigarette smoking CEO type in an immaculate suit. The Illusive Man is trying to collect intelligence and amass dossiers on the British company that purchased controlling stock in the Sterling Cooper advertising agency and hide his marital infidelities from his wife Elizabeth “Betty” Draper.
Yep. A joke about the Illusive Man being Mad Men’s Don Draper. Because of the suit and the tumbler of liquor. And the smoking. Ahh forget it.
The Illusive Man is collecting intelligence and amassing dossiers on the space aliens who will help Shepard defeat The Collectors and their angry bee swarms. Intergalactic bees. Very dangerous. Paralyze humans with their stings so The Collectors can kidnap entire colonies of humans. Even worse, The Collectors are under the control of The Reapers- massive intelligent ships who start whole galactic civilizations just so they can come in and destroy them every few millenia for fun.
Mass Effect 2 lets you import your save files from the first Mass Effect game, which if you’re like me (an incredibly fussy nerd about this kind of thing) validates the thirty minutes you spent in the Mass Effect character creation system adjusting Shepard’s cheekbones and overbite and eyeliner and matching purse. I made my Shepard look like a derelict country singer, with slicked back Conway Twitty hair and dark rangy hollows under his eyes. Every time a female in the game made a pass at my version of Commander Shepard I tittered a little.
Speaking of females in the game, I was courting the violent heavily tattooed Biotic experiment gone wrong Jack for a good portion of the game until I dropped her in favor of Miranda the Cerberus liaison who, to be fair, was genetically enhanced to be beautiful and had a quality I like to refer to as “that ass”.
Since Shepard can be male or female at your discretion, (well not back and forth during the game, can’t have a gender bending tranny space marine seducing every organic life form aboard the SSV Normandy SR-2 like some kind of god damn Rocky Horror Picture Show in a distant universe) the possibilities for getting freaky on a star faring vessel are wide open.
Grimy spaceships, sleazy alien strip clubs, spiritually conflicted swamp creature assassins, Seth Green as a crippled ship pilot, a film-grained “used future” feel to every environment you interact with— in terms of gritty densely plotted science fiction narratives, Mass Effect 2 makes the Star Wars prequels look like Mac and Me.
A spoiler about the end of the game:
So this ‘Human Reaper’ the Collectors have been working on? Enormous metal skeleton cyborg. Looks just like The Terminator. That’s alright by me. Honestly Mass Effect 3 could be all about Commander Shepard enrolling in the Shmogwarts School For Young Wizards so he could battle Evil Lord Schmoldemort and I WILL BUY IT.
I lost four of my team during the final battle, (who dies and at one point changes with every play-through) including the punk rock chick Jack, which is probably for the best because she was pretty pissed I broke up with her to knock reinforced space boots with Miranda in the Normandy’s engine room.
As George Clinton (no stranger himself to interstellar funk) was once heard to remark in his song ‘Atomic Dog’: “Why must I feel like that/Why must I chase the cat/Nothin’ but the dog in me.”