Mass Effect 2: the story so far

We’re one day closer to completing the story that started 5 five years ago – and the shift now moves to the second leg of Commander Shepard’s journey to save the galaxy from the Reapers.

Mass Effect 2 cranked up the action, especially when compared to its predecessor, and a huge focus was placed on the characters in your team, and their relationship with Shepard him/herself.

Indeed, it would be their relationship with Shepard (and various other factors) that would determine the outcome of Shepard’s most dangerous mission yet.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t played the game.

Being dead sucks

Mass Effect 2

After saving the Citadel from the lone Reaper, Sovereign, and his augmented servant, Saren, Commander Shepard really has his/her work cut out for him/her.

While navigating space, looking for satellite groupings of Geth, the Normandy is attacked by a massive, unknown ship – which rips open the hull and kills some crew members.

Shepard sacrifices him/herself to save Joker, and dies of asphyxiation amid the wreckage of what was once the most technically advanced ship in the Alliance fleet.

Commander Shepard is dead.

Not surprising, all things considered


With the help of former team-mate, Liara T’Soni, Shepard’s body is recovered by human supremacist group, Cerberus, who spend 2 years reanimating the corpse and bringing it back to life.

After waking up and escaping a station under attack – Shepard meets with Cerberus’ head – the Illusive Man – who tells Shepard why he/she was brought back: entire human colonies are disappearing, and Cerberus believes the Reapers are behind it.

Shepard is sent to the human colony, Freedom’s Progress, to see for him/herself how the Reapers were attacking humans through proxy via an alien race called the Collectors; joined by two Cerberus operatives.

The Illusive Man is a barrel full of sunshine

Miranda Lawson

Miranda is a high-ranking Cerberus officer that’s been genetically engineered to be super-intelligent and physically superior. She was head of the Lazarus project which resurrected Shepard, and acts as second in command.

To gain her loyalty, Shepard needs to help prevent her younger sister being kidnapped by her domineering and controlling father, whom Miranda had protected her from.

Jacob Taylor

Jacob is a former Alliance soldier who joined Cerberus after losing faith in the Alliance.

To gain his loyalty, Shepard needs to help Jacob track down his father – the Executive Officer of a lost ship – and help him bring him to justice when it is discovered he’d threatened the lives of his crewmen through abuse of power.

Miranda is perfect in every way. Unless you like blondes.

Recruitment Drive part 1

Once Shepard had seen the Collectors’ threat on humanity, he/she is tasked by Cerberus to recruit a specialised team to travel with him through the Omega 4 relay – the mass relay through which the collectors arrive in the galaxy, and from which no ship has returned.

Using a remodelled Normandy, with Joker at the helm – assisted by EDI, the ship’s virtual Interface – Shepard starts recruiting team members with specialized skills needed for the mission


Jack is a powerful biotic, the result of years of Cerberus experimentation on her as a child. She’s slightly unstable, and quick to violent behaviour.

Her loyalty mission involves aiding her find closure – by blowing up the facility where Cerberus had conducted biotic experiments on her and other children.

Mordin Solus

Mordin is a hyperactive Salarian scientist with quite an eccentric personality. He was a key member of the team that devloped the Krogan genophage – something which he feels guilty about, but believed to be a necessary move.

To gain his loyalty, Shepard needs to help Mordin rescue his former assistant who’s been kidnapped by a Krogan clan – though it turns out that he wasn’t kidnapped, but was instead willingly working with the Krogans to reverse the genophage.

Mordin is a completely crazy - but in the awesome way

Garrus Vakarian

Operating under the guise of “Archangel”, Garrus, a former C-Sec officer and team member from Mass Effect 1, is a Turian vigilante – he’s sabotaging merc operations on Omega, but finds himself besieged by merc groups working together to bring him down.

Once rescued and recruited, Shepard can gain Garrus’ loyalty by assisting him track down a former squadmate who betrayed him on Omega, resulting in the deaths of his team.


Grunt is a tank-born Krogan. He was “created” as the perfect Krogan by a Krogan scientist called Okeer – who is Shepard’s initial recruitment assignment. After having his lab gassed by a merc group, Okeer dies, leaving Grunt as his legacy.

Shepard can opt to ‘activate’ and then threaten or persuade Grunt to join him – and earns his loyalty by accompanying him on his ceremonial rite to gain admission to a Krogan clan.

Even wounded, Garrus is 89.6% more badass than you

Trouble on the Horizon

Eventually, the Illusive Man provides Shepard with intel about another human colony, Horizon, falling prey to a Collector attack.

It is revealed that the Collectors collect humans by paralyzing them through a swarm – and also that the Reaper, Harbinger, is in control – possessing the Collectors at will.

After fighting through Horizon and chasing the Collectors away from the colony – Shepard is reunited with former squad member/love interest Aiden Kelenko or Ashley Williams (depending on who lived).

It’s not a happy meeting though, as the former team-mate is distrustful of Shepard and his/her alignment with Cerberus. Disheartened, Shepard returns to the Normandy.

The enemy rears its ugly head. And rear.

Recruitment Drive part 2

Back on the Normandy, Shepard continues to recruit specialists for the mission.

Tali’Zorah Vas Normandy

Tali is a Quarian, and a former teammate of Shepard’s. Having completed her pilgrimage in Mass Effect, Tali and her team are found on Freedom’s Progress trying to rescue a fellow Quarian who survived a Collector attack.

After assisting Tali in the operation and recruiting her to the team – Shepard can gain her loyalty by accompanying her to the Quarian fleet, where she stands trial for treason, for smuggling live geth into the fleet.

It’s discovered that it was in fact Tali’s father who reactivated geth components Tali had sent him; and her loyalty is only gained if Shepard follows her wishes in upholding her father’s honour.


Samara is a thousand-year-old Asari justicar – a powerful biotic that has sacrificed all possessions and family to fight for absolute justice. She’s searching for her daughter, Morinth, who has been murdering innocent people for years.

After recruiting her to your cause, you gain her loyalty by hunting Morinth down and helping Samara kill her. Shepard can also choose to help Morinth and kill Samara, in which case Morinth will join the team.

Thane Krios

Thane is a Drell assassin; he’s afflicted by a terminal Drell disease – and regularly reflects, with remorse, on his life as an assassin.

In order to gain his loyalty, Shepard needs to travel with him to the Citadel to stop Thane’s son, Kolyat, from following in his footsteps as an assassin, by intercepting Kolyat’s mission.

Thane has bouts of verbal reflection.

The Reaper trap

After a while, the Illusive Man gives Shepard information about a derelict Reaper – which houses an Identification Friend/Foe (IFF) that will allow the Normandy to access the Omega-4 relay.

While exploring the Reaper, Shepard and the team learn that the Collectors are, in fact, Protheans – the ancient race that disappeared after the Reaper’s last attack – who had been transformed into Reaper slaves.

As Shepard and EDI figure out how to bypass the Omega-4 relay, the away team is ambushed by the Collectors. They manage to escape back to the Normandy with the help of a Geth, which is hit and damaged in the onslaught.


Once the Geth is activated, it identifies itself as Legion – a name it explains is apt due to the Geth not being individuals, but one collective. Legion is part of the “true” Geth who value organic life – identifying the Geth fought in both games as “heretics”.

To attain Legion’s loyalty, Shepard must help Legion infiltrate the “heretic” Geth station and either destroy the heretics, or reprogram them to join the “true” Geth network.

Legion is a good Geth, and a worthy addition to the crew

The Collectors have come

Shepard and the team leave the Normandy on other business, and in their absence, the ship is attacked and boarded by the Collectors. For the first time, you assume the role of someone other than Shepard – in this case, Joker.

Joker navigates the ship, with EDI’s help, to escape from the Collectors.

The Collectors manage to capture the Normandy crew, which upon Shepard’s return, sparks the motivation for the amassed team to engage their final mission.

Joker never stood a chance - but he crawled a lot, so that's fine

Suicide Mission

The Normandy goes through the Omega-4 relay – and everyone dies.

Well, that’s if you didn’t attain your crew’s loyalty and upgrade the Normandy’s defence and attack ratings by mining planets.

After making it through the initial blind trip through the Omega-4, Shepard and his team arrive at the Collectors’ base.

Fighting through the base, and using your team’s specialised skills, Shepard locates and rescues the Normandy crew – discovering that captured humans are being liquidised into organic fluid and fed into the central chamber.

Within the central chamber, Shepard discovers a massive Reaper under construction – in a human structural form. Shepard and his team attack and kill the abomination, and are left with the decision of what to do with the Collector base:

Either sterilize it – or blow it up.

Whatever Shepard chooses to do, humanity has the full attention of the Reapers, shown awakening in dark space and moving towards the Galaxy – setting the stage for Mass Effect 3.

Like trying to find parking in Cape Town, the Collector base is near-impossible to get to


Mass Effect 2 made a lot of DLC available for extended play – the only two that are important for plot purposes are Lair of the Shadow Broker, and Arrival.

The Lair of the Shadow Broker

Lair of the Shadow Broker follows Liara T’Soni as she searches for the elusive Shadow Broker – a broker of information – who has taken her Drell friend captive.

The Drell and Liara both worked with Cerberus to retrieve Shepard’s body.

Shepard helps Liara track down leads that eventually put them on the Shadow Broker’s ship, where they fight and defeat him and release Liara’s friend.

In the absence of a Shadow Broker, contacts from across the galaxy start calling in, looking for an update – leading Liara to assume the role, herself.

If you wanted to know what the Shadow Broker looks like - this is him. Spoilers.


In Arrival, Shepard goes on a lone mission to rescue an Alliance agent in Batarian space, who claims to have information on the Reaper invasion.

Once he/she infiltrates the facility and rescues the agent, it’s discovered that the reason the agent was captured was because of a plan to blow up the Batarian Mass Relay – which the agent claims will be used as a back-door by the Reapers to invade the Galaxy.

Upon arriving back at the Alliance base on the asteroid they plan to use to crash into the mass relay, Shepard sees the exposed Reaper artefact, and realises that everyone on the base is under its influence.

Fighting through the base members, Shepard manages to activate the asteroid thrusters and narrowly escape the system as it crashes into the mass relay – obliterating a nearby Batarian colony.

Back aboard the Normandy, Shepard is confronted by the Alliance’s General Hackett about Shepard’s actions on the station – informing Shepard that he/she will have to return to Earth to stand trial for destroying the Batarian colony.

This serves as the lead-in to Mass Effect 3.

2 days? That's about as long as we have to wait until Mass Effect 3.

Key decisions

  • Shepard romance – Tali, Miranda, Jack (Male Shepard); Jacob, Thane, Garrus (Female Shepard); None (neutral or loyal to ME1 romance);
  • Survivors of the suicide mission;
  • Accepting or rejecting Spectre re-instatement;
  • Tali exiled/redeemed;
  • Genophage cure data kept or deleted;
  • Rogue Geth destroyed or reprogrammed;
  • Collector base destroyed or sanitized.

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Mass Effect: The story so far (Part 1)

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Mass Effect 2: the story so far

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