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Mass Effect 2 / Tropes A to F

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  • Abandoned Mine: The setting for one assignment where Shepard's team investigates the remnants of miners who Dug Too Deep. This also the actual name of the assignment.
  • Abnormal Ammo:
    • Depending on your class, Shepard can access up to three different ammo types: Incendiary, Cryo, and Disruptor.
    • Three of Shepard's squad members can also acquire unique ammo (the entire squad can then use as well if they're leveled up to 4):
      • The most abnormal is the Warp Ammo that Jack gets. It basically combines biotic energy with your bullets and does more damage to barriers, armor, and health. That's right. Biotic ammunition.
      • Garrus's loyalty power is Armor-Piercing Ammo, which gives greater damage bonuses against armor and health compared to Warp Ammo.
      • Thane's loyalty power is Shredder Ammo (damage bonus on health on organic targets).
    • That shiny new cannon you get for your ship? Check your Codex. It fires liquid metal. At relativistic velocities. This weapon is Older Than They Think, dating back at least to Nikola Tesla.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Despite mentioning in Mass Effect that Shadow Broker wouldn't forget the next time the player would need a favor from him (regardless if the player did or didn't give him the Cerberus data), it isn't brought up when the player confronts him. This may be due to the fact that its implied that the current Shadow Broker killed the previous one relatively recently, and thus he would not know what the previous one offered you, or simply just not care.
    • There are several mentions of dark energy throughout the game. The whole reason for Tali to be on Haestrom was to investigate the planet's sun which was dying far faster than it should have been and the reason for it could have been dark energy affecting the core of the star. Next, on Illium, if you helped Gianna Parasini in Mass Effect, then she will turn up and mention that her bosses have become aware of dark energy and are wondering if it will be a problem in the future. The game leaves this plot point open for Mass Effect 3 but it is never mentioned again after this. This was probably due to Drew Karpyshyn (the lead writer for Mass Effect 1 and 2, as well as the tie-in comics and novels up to Retribution) getting pulled from the series; he planned to tie the dark energy into biotics and the Reapers' raison d'etre but the new writers took the third game in a different direction.
  • Action Bomb: Abomination husks. Unless you can take them out before they get to within melee range of you, they will explode and cause significant damage to you and your squad.
  • Action Commands: Introduced in conversational settings, called "interrupts". Some of them provide decent examples of Good Is Not Nice and Shut Up, Hannibal!.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several. A good example is Mordin's loyalty mission. Two-thirds of the way through, the running and gunning is replaced with Mordin and Shepard discussing his role in re-engineering the genophage.
  • Actionized Sequel: To the point where BioWare fandom's old guard complained that Mass Effect 2 is a shooter and not an RPG. BioWare responded to this by expanding both the customizability of weapons and of casted powers in the third game.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Averted: since the Normandy SR-2 has its own research labs and fabrication bay, whenever Shepard acquires data on newer and better weapons, they can upload that data to Normandy's labs. You still need to strip-mine entire star systems to use those designs, though. Cerberus is also rather generous with credits; the funding is usually equal to or even greater than all the stuff you can possibly grab during the mission.
    • Mordin about working for the salarian Special Tasks Group:
    Mordin: Better funded [than the Spectres], though. Didn't have to buy our own weapons.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: If you complete the Mess Sergeant's assignment, he lets you know that "the provisions you provided were perfect".
  • Adult Fear: Disabled people are all too frequently abused by their family or caretakers, as David Archer discovers in the Overlord DLC.
  • A God Am I: Claimed by a drugged volus you will meet near the end of Samara's recruitment mission. Niftu Cal, unfortunate Eclipse test subject IS A GREAT WIND that will sweep over all before him like a..... a great wind, A GREAT BIOTIC WIND! Fear him!
    • Funnily enough, he does actually seem to exhibit some biotic ability in this scene, surrounding himself with the blue 'aura' usually seen when biotics use their power. As far as lore goes, this is very unusual for a volus.
    • And, if you take the Renegade option to send him into the next room, he will actually hurl a Biotic Throw at Captain Wasea. It hurtles through the air and looks as though it's about to hit the Asari merc full in the face... then it actually gets there. The bolt fizzles out harmlessly, barely the size of Wasea's nose. She then fires one of her own when the volus' back is turned, launching him halfway across the room and killing him instantly.
    • Gets a Call-Back in the third game. One of the multiplayer characters is a Volus biotic. Surprisingly effective.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Awareness of the fact that this trope is still in full effect leads to EDI being installed with various safeguards and behavioral blocks. Turns out they weren't necessary; EDI is just as loyal without them.
    • Also subverted by the rest of the geth. It turns out that the geth that followed Sovereign in the first game were considered a heretical sect by the "true" geth (of which party member Legion is one) and only represented about five percent of the total population. The true geth are probably the nicest race in the galaxy, purposely hiding from organics to avoid harm to both groups, and acting as caretakers for the quarian homeworld.
    • Even VIs aren't exactly a sure bet. A secondary plot arc deals with a line of security mechs that have become paranoid (for lack of a better term), causing them to go crazy and/or just plain randomly activate and self-destruct.
    • In the course of Thane's loyalty mission, you can find out that people have been selling VIs of... you! Your VI has a snarky comment on errors. Garrus/Tali also gets in a joke at Shepard's expense when you first learn about it if you brought them with you.
    Bailey: Whenever you would delete something, the VI would say "I delete data like you on the way to real errors."
    Garrus/Tali: That's pretty extreme, Commander/Shepard.
    Shepard: Laugh it up, Garrus/Tali.
  • Air Quotes: The Turian Councillor makes sarcastic air quotes ("Ah yes, 'Reapers'...") when dismissing your claims of an army of robotic Eldritch Abominations making their way towards the Milky Way. This quickly became a Memetic Hand Gesture among the players, as literally the first thing that happens in Mass Effect 3 is the Reapers descending upon the galaxy and tearing it a new one.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Silly mercenaries. Thane has no need for your doors.
  • The Alcatraz IN SPACE!!: The Purgatory prison ship, where you will find Subject Zero.
  • Algorithmic Story Branching: In the final leg of the Suicide Mission endgame, the surviving squad members who don't accompany Shepard to the Final Boss battle hunker down to stop enemy reinforcements from catching up with Shepard. This entire battle occurs off-screen, but can have highly variable outcomes in regards to which squadmates survive: as explained in-depth here, each squadmate has a hidden "Hold the Line (HTL) score", ranging from 0 to 3 (incremented by 1-2 if their respective Loyalty Mission has been succesfully completed), and the number of casualties (ranging from zero to everyone) depends both on the total number of the defenders and on their average HTL score. After the game calculates the number of casualties, it selects the specific squadmates to die based on a priority list that, while not explicitly numeric, implicitly ranks them by their ability to survivenote .
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: There really isn't one in the Mass Effect universe, but that doesn't stop Mordin from saying that there should be, citing the fiasco with the krogan as the reason why.
    • After attempting contact with the yahg, a pre-space flight species, the council declared their world off limits after the diplomats were killed. Turns out that the yahg took serious offence to them pussy footing around and killed them (as is their custom), something simple observation would have revealed.
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • There are signs written in English everywhere, even on alien space stations and in alien cities. And in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, you can see Liara's degree certificate that she got on Thessia, the asari homeworld — also written in English.
    • Averted during Tali's loyalty mission; there is quarian writing in multiple places.
    • Another minor aversion: while it's never explicitly stated, the symbol on the back of Aria's jacket is assumed to be an asari symbol meaning "heart of darkness", which is the literal translation of the asari name for Omega.
    • Despite the Universal translator being established there are some words (mostly names, titles and quarian swear words) that are left in their native tongue. This is given a nod when, after hearing Thane refer to her as "siha" without further context, female Shepard comments that her translator seems to have glitched on the word.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Or, in this case, the Shadow Broker's lair, which you can find on the DLC titled, well, Lair of the Shadow Broker. After Liara becomes the new Shadow Broker, the lair gives the player a lot of interesting tidbits on some of the characters. It also gives the player a sizable archive to binge on. Included in its archive of video clips and dossiers are:
      • Miranda subscribes to an iPartners dating site, and gets hit on. A lot. In response, she's more interested in a potential partner's medical profile than anything else. She's also had at least one attempted online correspondence with Oriana. Also, despite her claims about being genetically perfect, a correspondence from a medical center on Illium reveals that she has a "benign neoplasm", making her sterile.
      • Khalisah Al-Jilani has vid clips of her getting punched in the face by a krogan, getting kicked by a volus, and kissing an asari.
      • Grunt searches for great human and krogan generals, looks up sharks and dinosaurs, and plays with action figures (with real smash-your-enemies action). He also appears to be a fan of Ernest Hemingway, in particular For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. He seems to dislike A Farewell to Arms, as it is the only one he deleted. The funny part is how his curiosity is initially piqued from searching the name Urdnot Wrex — which leads him to "tyrannosaurus wrex" and a lot of other related search strings.
      • Legion is a prolific gamer, with legendary high scores in Galaxy of Fantasy, N7 Code of Honor: Medal of Duty, and Grim Terminus Alliance. It was flagged as cheating several times in Galaxy of Fantasy (such as controlling 27 pets at once) but successfully challenged and overturned these claims, save one for taunting, for which it accepts a 3-day account suspension. It also is abysmal at the cross-species relationship game, Fleet and Flotilla. It's also bought a copy of a game that donates part of its profits to the victims of Sovereign's attack on Eden Prime (and its donation level is Ultra Platinum), but has never played it.
      • Garrus's visor is custom-made, and includes music playback, with embarrassing music choices. The visor notes twelve names scratched into his armor, with one, Sidonis, burned out. On a more serious note, his sister Solana thinks he's a slacker and has no idea about his heroics, and his mother is suffering from a currently-incurable disease; he anonymously donates rare Collector tissue samples to a medical company currently researching a cure and gets Mordin to phone some friends and get the fee for the exorbitantly-priced experiment treatment waived for all turians. His dossier also includes a short list of victims and his methods of execution for each; barring one, he has an apparent penchant for delivering Karmic Deaths.
      • Jack regularly gets banned from chatrooms and forums for excessive profanity and picking fights. She also subscribes to Poetry Monthly, and has submitted poetry under the name Jacqueline Nought.
      • Captain Anderson watches and reads a lot of material that obviously upsets him (a prime example being a documentary titled Saren: A Hero Betrayed). He is also a heavy drinker, with several orders for expensive wine. Given the former, it may not be surprising.
      • There's surveillance footage of Thane pulling a Stealth Hi/Bye on a Blue Suns merc, showing up behind him, snapping his neck, and then shooting the camera. He also has written down various executions methods. He acknowledges that a krogan needs either ridiculous punishment or a really big bomb to go down. There's an additional item in his dossier if he was romanced by a female Shepard: a heartbreaking letter addressed to her, to be sent after his death.
      • The Shadow Broker also has a hilariously detailed list of the day-to-day activities of his rival in the information trade, the Illusive Man. Said list includes his choice of clothes (including pocket locations) and favored company - a single week has him hooking up with an A-list celebrity, a professional athlete, a porn star, a pair of twin celebrities associated with the anti-alien-influence Terra Firma party, and surprisingly an Asari Matriarch, no less.
      • Kasumi writes a gushy haiku about how perfect Jacob is. Incidentally, she also owns the original Mona Lisa.
      • The names of Samara's other two daughters are Rila and Falere. Morinth's real name is Mirala. Another file on her shows her bequests when she entered Justicar training. Enough information to tell you that Samara was a psychologically healthy and socially active, upper-middle-class widow who was devoted to her daughters and still had a lot of mementos of her deceased bondmate.
      • Jacob works ridiculously hard for those abs of his and he's a fan of Blasto the Hanar Spectre and Old Yeller.
      • In what may be the first homosexual romantic acknowledgment in the series, a short video clip implies that the turian Gavorn, one of Aria's subordinates, is gay and has a human fetish.
      • Tali's Covert Pervert tendencies have been confirmed by a transcript of a program being installed in her suit several times, and her downloads of education vids about human body language and courtship/mating, implying that she has a thing for humans (or at least Shepard). She apparently also feels massive survivor's guilt over the death of most of her squad on Haestrom.
      • Mordin was cast as Polonius in at least one production of Hamlet and has acted as a consultant on several science and religious documentaries, including children's shows. We also learn about the farm implement he used to kill once, and why he's missing his right cranial horn.
      • Zaeed contemplates retirement after the suicide mission. He hates the whole concept (and lack of good options) so much that he's more keen on attempting a suicide attack on Omega.
      • Captain Bailey is apparently on good terms with his ex-wife, since he seems to have regular correspondence with her.
    • A more traditional example: nowhere in the game, let alone on the power screen, is it mentioned that Singularity will stun-lock protected enemies, if for a shorter time than it lifts unprotected ones. Because they don't know about this, many players dismiss Singularity as "Pull with a longer cooldown time"; in fact, it's one of the few biotic powers that work against armor, and is the only biotic power that provides crowd control against protected enemies.
    • Another gameplay example; every time the player unlocks an upgrade, the game slightly and silently increases difficulty with no outward indication, separately from the actual difficulty setting on the option screen. This is done so that the upgrades can be substantial like 25% increases to a certain type of damage or health without making the game pathetically easy. The problem is that on New Game+, while the upgrades reset and need to be unlocked again as the game is played, the difficulty increase from having max upgrades does not reset. While the player's level carries over, this alone is not nearly enough to balance out the hardier enemies and their increased damage; the first half of the game is noticeably easier on the initial playthrough starting at level 1 than on the second playthrough starting at the level cap.
    • The Paragon/Renegade system doesn't work as presented; it's actually rigged so that it's impossible to be even a little neutral without sacrificing the points needed to make many of the persuasion checks in the second half of the game. Worse, like the example above, it gets harder on New Game+ with no warning and no indication. A full explanation of the system can be found here.
    • Also, there are certain decisions the player must make in the final Suicide Mission that can easily go wrong even though the game itself doesn't clearly explain why. This necessitates studying walkthroughs and guides for those wishing to achieve the Golden Ending (or just plain common sense.)
  • All Women Are Lustful: A very mild example, but in the game's romance paths, it's always the women who initiate the relationship. For the male romances, if you keep talking to your female squadmates, you'll eventually have to accept or reject their advances. For the female romances, as long as you avoid certain dialog choices, you can interact with them almost entirely the same as you would playing a male.
  • Almighty Idiot: A research log on the Reaper IFF mission references this trope:
    Researcher: "A god — a real god — is a verb. Not some old man with magic powers. It's a force. It warps reality just by being there. It doesn't have to want to. It doesn't have to think about it. It just does." ..."The god's mind is gone but it still dreams."
  • Almost Kiss: While playing as a female Shepard you can romance Garrus. Right before the final mission, you have a scene, where, after some awkward talking and comforting, she presses her forehead to his, probably because kissing for real could cause allergic reactions for them both. Plus, he doesn't have lips, and has razor-sharp fangs. This is also as close as you can get to romancing Samara.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The vorcha seem to suffer this kind of Fantastic Racism, and reactions vary, but they kind of look like goblins and/or trolls. Aria herself refers to them as "little goblins" once. Somewhat deconstructed when you see a group of them huddling in squalor in a corridor on Omega. They seem terribly afraid of Preitor Gavorn, a turian tasked to keep them in line.
  • Always Close: In one assignment, you must prevent a human colony from being destroyed by its own defensive missiles. The final countdown is exactly five minutes and only starts after you arrive at the base. Same thing on a ship that's literally minutes away from falling out of orbit. For the several months that you choose to ignore it.
  • Ancient Grome: One of the clusters in the game is named the Minos Wasteland, probably after the legendary king of Crete (Greek mythology). The two solar systems (and the various planets they contain) in the cluster (Caestus, Fortis, Vir, Aequitas ...) have Latin names.
  • And I Must Scream: What happens to victims of a seeker swarm, as you'll see on Horizon. They're fully aware of their surroundings — they can even move their eyes — but are unable to move their bodies or speak. The first victim that the player gets to see is the squadmate you chose to save on Virmire back in Mass Effect.
    • Also, in the Overlord DLC, the fate of David, until you rescue him. Of course, the thing is, he is screaming... And what's more, if you listen right, you can hear that he's screaming "Help me, please!" and "Make it stop!"
    • This is revealed to be the fate of the entire Prothean race, having been turned into the Collectors to act as subservient slaves to the Reapers. Although, by the time of Mass Effect 2, it's unclear just how aware of this they are.
    • A difficult-to-get conversation with Legion strongly suggests that the minds of the millions of people melted down to create each Reaper body all still exist, uploaded and conjoined.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes:
    • Gaining the loyalty of your crew unlocks a change of outfits along with unique powers. The first one or two you get just look like bog-standard palette swaps, but once you get several of them you realize that they're all variants on the gold, silver and black Cerberus colors. Thus, as you gain the unswerving loyalty of your squadmates, they visually transform from a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits to a diverse but unified team of badass commandos. Strangely, the DLC characters' extra outfits are colored red instead of following the Cerberus motif.
    • And completing Kasumi's loyalty mission allows Shepard to wear the formal wear from the party (as casual wear aboard the Normandy, not in place of your armor.) Male Shepard is just a re-texture of the existing Cerberus dress uniform (albeit a lot slicker), but female Shepard's? Oh yeah.
  • Anti-Grinding: Big time. There aren't many places where enemies continually respawn (not that you would want them to, especially on Insanity). The places that do have limited ammo supplies making farming unfeasible, and there are no rewards for individual kills. Only the missions themselves provide experience, which you attain only after completing them.
  • Anti-Hero Team: The Squad itself, especially if led by a Renegade Shepard. It consists of two members of a paramilitary terrorist organization, a vigilante, a Deadly Doctor, a master assassin, an Ax-Crazy biotic convict, a genetically "perfect" member of a Proud Warrior Race, a Knight Templar who can be replaced by her Sex Demon daughter, a Geth Platform, a master thief, and an Only in It for the Money mercenary. Tali is possibly the only member who doesn't qualify as an Anti-Hero, and she makes it clear she is only there as a favor to Shepard.
  • Anyone Can Die: All twelve squadmates, all of the supporting crew (except for Joker and EDI), and Shepard can be killed during the suicide mission.
  • Apocalypse How: In the Arrival DLC, Shepard causes a Class X-2 by destroying a mass relay, which causes a supernova-level explosion that completely obliterates its star system.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Used extensively; almost every time you visit the site of an enemy attack, abandoned space station or expedition Gone Horribly Wrong, you can bet you'll find some data logs or video recordings of the victims describing events that lead up to their fatal end. Most notably, this is used during both Tali and Jacob's loyalty missions as well as on board the derelict Reaper.
    • In Tali's loyalty mission, one of these is a major Tear Jerker. A log plays a female quarian frantically saying "Jona, if you ever see this, be strong for Daddy. Mommy loves you very much—" as she's being killed. In Mass Effect 3, the Tear Jerker steps up a few notches as you encounter a dying quarian on Rannoch — who asks you to tell Jona his father died on the homeworld. Poor kid...
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • You can have up to ten (twelve including DLC) squadmates, but you can only ever have two with you. The Suicide Mission at least tries to work around the limitation: first by you leading a small, surgical strike while the rest of the team makes for a heavily armed diversion, then they hold the line against the Mooks as you go on to fight the Big Bad.
    • In the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, when Liara joins you for the chase with and fight against Tela Vasir, and one of your two squadmates will have to stay behind when she joins.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Lampshaded with the M-96 Mattock semiautomatic rifle, which has the highest base damage of any assault rifle in the game despite being relatively outdated in-universe. The "Firepower Pack" DLC that adds it to your inventory in 2 comes with an e-mail from the Illusive Man saying that EDI had told him "we may be overlooking older, proven technologies in an effort to provide you with the state of art."
  • Arc Words:
    • In the advertising campaign, "Fight for the Lost" — a phrase that you will never encounter within the game.
    • There's also the main villain, Harbinger, who repeatedly says something to the effect of "We are the harbinger of your genetic destiny". The words "genetic destiny" show up in other places, too, such as the confrontation with the ardat-yakshi, a dangerous asari mutant.
    • Multiple people say something along the lines of "you may not agree with my methods, but you have to admit I'm doing this for a good reason/I get results".
    • The Overlord DC has two: "It all seemed harmless" and " QUIET PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!" The latter is particularly omnipresent, being played (distorted) every time you interact with a console.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played with; Shepard's armor can give him/her shields, health, ammo and powers making getting better armor almost a necessity on higher-difficulty playthroughs. Played more straight on your allies though. Heavily armored Grunt has the highest health in the game followed by Zaeed; who are then followed by Jacob who wears something of a cross of jumpsuit and light armor. Garrus's heavy turian armor gives him the same health as Thane and none of the armor in the DLC appearance packs helps any.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: On Illium, a Paragon Shepard can give Erinya one of these to convince her to help the Zhu's Hope colonists on Feros. Shepard first asks about Erinya's bondmate and daughters, then asks "Do you think they'd want you to do this?" It hits Erinya hard, and she agrees to help.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Subverted in the second ship conversation with Jack. She lists some of the offenses she's committed, saying that the regular stuff (murder, assault, theft, etc.) is boring.
    Jack: Piracy, theft of military craft, destruction of a space station, and vandalism. That was a good one.
    Shepard: I'm surprised you'd even mention vandalism in that bunch.
    Jack: That's what the hanar call it when you drop that space station I mentioned onto one of their moons and make a new crater. Heh. They really liked that moon.
  • Artifact Mook: Husks can fall into this, especially when you start wondering how many people there had to be on this single scientific expedition in order for there to be so many husks.
  • Artifact of Doom: Object Rho from the Arrival DLC.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Part of what makes LOKI mechs such weak and easy-to-kill enemies is the fact that, much of the time, they don't use any kind of combat tactics and don't have the wit to try to hide behind something. They just slowly advance towards you in a manner that makes it simple to just mow them down. The in-game Codex acknowledges this behaviour and justifies it due to the use of primitive VI.
    • However, on Hardcore and Insanity, they suddenly learn how to aim properly, gain armor over their normal health bar and do more damage. Since they do not utilize cover and just walk towards you while firing, they become more dangerous than more powerful, but cover-using enemies. They are still breakable with a few melee hits, though, in spite of the armor.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Mordin says the Collectors are coming after humans because of their genetic diversity, much greater than other species. That's crap. Genetic diversity is decreased if a population can mix their genes, and increased when you have separate populations. Humans, having only recently arrived on the scene, should be the least diverse group. Vorcha would be the most diverse, having spread throughout the galaxy and having a very short lifespan.
    • Of course, that's assuming human-style genetic reproduction is the norm.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: The Illusive Man claims that a 37 million year-old (supposedly) dead Reaper is the "last remnant of a battle that took place when mammals were still taking their first steps upon the Earth." Mammals first evolved in the Late Triassic, about 225 million years ago.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Cerberus. They've come a long way from being mere sidequest fodder in the first game. In this game, they replace the Council and Alliance as the main Quest Givers.
    • The quarians are given a lot more focus in this game, as compared to the first, where Tali was the only one you would encounter.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Blasto the first hanar Spectre. Started as a joke made by one of the devs in response to questions regarding new companions. Ended up having a movie made about him, Blaxploitation/Dirty Harry style, complete with the Hanar Anti-Defamation League getting all riled up about it. "This one has forgotten whether its heat sink is over-capacity. It wonders whether the criminal scum considers itself fortunate. This one doesn't have time for your solid waste excretions."
    • "Quad" as a term for krogan testicles, which started as a joke on the Penny Arcade forums. By the second game, everyone is using it.
    • In the Arrival DLC, the descriptive text specifically says Shepard will "assume control" of a LOKI to break out of the med bay.
    • A vending machine on the Citadel pokes fun at the fan term "Paragade," which refers to playing a mostly Paragon Shepard with some of the lighter Renegade actions thrown in.
    Vending Machine: Only losers drink Paragade! You want Tupari! Winners drink Tupari!
    • If Shepard romanced Liara in the first game and then Garrus in the second, a conversation can be had with Liara in the DLC mission Lair of the Shadow Broker referencing Garrus' infamous "calibrations" line:
    Shepard: I came back.
    Liara: Yes, you came back! And now Garrus is doing a lot more than just calibrating the Normandy's guns!
  • Asshole Victim: More than a few people. For example, the individuals upon whom Thane accepted contracts count, including the one that was supposed to be his final assignment, Nassana Dantius. This trope usually applies to people on the business end of a Renegade interrupt as well. Some loyalty missions (those of Miranda, Jack, Garrus and Mordin) even end with you deciding whether to allow your squadmate to eliminate one such victim (Niketnote , Areshnote , Sidonisnote  and Maelonnote ) or to save them from their worst self, usually with a Paragon interrupt.
  • Assimilation Plot: Conversations with Legion indicate that this is the ultimate goal for both the Reapers and the geth. The geth are a machine race that become stronger and smarter in proximity and are, thus, afraid of individuality. The Reapers are ancient machines that possess thousands of programs in their cores and, as shown by the game's climax, are composed of millions if not billions of organic beings. The Reapers are thus seen as the pinnacle of evolution by the geth, but the geth disagree about whether to follow a path already trodden or discover their own.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Collectors' base of operations is set in the accretion disc of the black hole at the center of the galaxy, surrounded by the wreckage of every ship that has failed to make it through the relay since its construction.
  • Attack Drone: The Engineer player class, Tali and Legion can summon one of their own. Enemy Engineers and Geth Primes can also summon them.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • The Human Reaper. Bonus points since its weak points are actually called... "Weak Point".
    • Subversion: Tali has "Go for the optics!" as one of her battle cries, referring to her pet combat drone. The combat drone doesn't seem to target specific body parts.
    • Gameplay-wise, this is now a viable strategy as opposed to the first game, where hitting any exposed body part did the same amount of damage. In this game, headshots deal a lot more damage than other hits and leg shots can make enemies collapse. There’s also a weapon upgrade that makes headshots do 50% more damage.
  • Avengers, Assemble!: A large part of the game is an extended Avengers Assemble sequence. Besides the Cerberus operatives and the DLC ones who just arrange a meeting, most of your squadmates are busy on jobs of their own when you first meet, allowing them to show off before you can even take them into action. The loyalty missions are also usually tailored to the subject's strengths.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The M-920 Cain, to some. It can kill almost anything in one hit, particularly on lower difficulties, but it takes forever to charge, can almost never be fired more than once before you need to find more ammo, and it will almost assuredly kill you unless you fire it at a very long range (and you don't have many opportunities to do that). But it packs a punch: on normal difficulty, only three enemies, including the Final Boss, can withstand a shot from the Cain. On Insanity, gunships, Praetorians, the Thresher Maw and the Colossus can (barely) survive. But given how it devours your (decidedly finite) heavy weapon ammo, it may still be Too Awesome to Use. Oh, and it has a fire rate of about... one round per every two missions.
      • Have the right armor piece equipped, and you'll get 'two' shots every other mission. It's still not exactly practical unless you're on your second playthrough, when you'll have a good idea of exactly where you'll need to have it on you to be effective.
    • The Revenant machine gun has an enormous damage spread until you find the accuracy upgrade for assault rifles, at which point the gun becomes far more of a Game-Breaker than the M-920 Cain could aspire to be.
    • The DLC Incisor Sniper Rifle, to an extent. It's very effective against shields/barriers and moderately effective against everything else, but a really low ammo capacity and the fast rate at which it eats up ammo means you have to rely on other weapons often. In addition, the fact that it's a burst-fire sniper rifle — firing three shots at a time — means that if you or your target is in motion, it becomes a lot less effective if not all three shots hit your target.
    • The Claymore shotgun. Very powerful but absolutely crippled by its low ammo capacity. Any enemy that isn't killed in one hit (of which there are several in the game, especially on higher difficulties) will kill you dead in the time it takes to reload after each shot. This can be overcome through reload animation skips combined with, if a Vanguard, smart use of the Charge, but both take a lot of practice.
    • The Charge power. Turning yourself into an uber-charged human cannonball and slamming an enemy into next Tuesday is damn cool, but if you miscalculate, you've just charged way ahead of all your squadmates and are now surrounded by a gang of Mooks shooting at you from all directions. But if you can pull it off... The impractical nature of Charge comes more from its high learning curve. However, once Charge is mastered, it makes Shepard a nearly unstoppable juggernaut, even on the higher difficulties.
    • Any kind of Freezing effects on higher difficulty levels due to all the protection enemies have. Sure, turning a krogan into a popsicle and smashing him into pieces is fun, but those skill points would be better spent in roasting the guy instead. Against enemies with low armor, however, like Husks, it's still useful enough that it can give you some breathing room, or an opportunity to beat them to death, once you freeze your target.
    • The Avalanche. It's kinda cool how it can shatter enemies in one hit, but most of the time it just freezes them, leaving the shattering up to you. Cryo rounds might still be impractical on some difficulties, but at least they don't burn heavy weapon ammo.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Hammerhead.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Renegade Shepard can make a few, including this gem, from the conflict between Tali and Legion.
    Shepard: You can either stand with me or be crushed beneath my heel, but you will not get in my way!
    • Paragon Shepard makes quite a few of these as well.
    • Some of your Badass Crew (see below) get their own special boasts as well.
  • Badass Creed: Paragon Shepard sums up their entire character with this single line on the Collector base.
    Shepard: We will fight and win without it. I will not let fear compromise who I am.
  • Badass Crew: Most of the plot revolves around assembling one of these. Even the Cerberus servicemen aboard the new Normandy count; near the climax they try to hold off Collectors with small arms to give Joker enough time to reach EDI. Hawthorne even charges a car-sized Scion enemy with a pistol.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Afterlife. Presumably, every single bar in Omega qualifies, but Afterlife gets special mention because it's where Aria T'Loak, self-appointed ruler of Omega, makes her base of operations.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Invoked by Donovan Hock during Kasumi's loyalty mission: "People like you and me do the terrible things that keep the galaxy spinning."
  • Bag of Spilling: Spending two years on an operating table can kinda do that to your combat skills. Also, technology has advanced so much in those two years that all your weapon, armour, and upgrade stockpiles from the first game are effectively useless. If you import a "rich" Mass Effect character (determined by way of an achievement), you do get to keep a small but still sizable amount of that money. Importing high-level Mass Effect characters also grants small but helpful experience bonuses. Characters who were level 60 in Mass Effect start Mass Effect 2 at level 5 (of 30), with enough skill points to max out one of their skills and begin developing a few others.
  • Band of Brothers: The game revolves around turning your party into this. Hell, the Illusive Man even calls them an "unlikely band of brothers" in the Blur cinematic trailer.
  • The Bartender: A few of them. One is a turian in the Dark Star on the Citadel, not really that memorable except for the fact that he subverts the whole "collector of gossip" trope, and that he provides Shepard with a Gargle Blaster. Another is a batarian in Afterlife on Omega who tries to kill you. But the best is Matriach Aethyta, found in Eternity on Illium, who provides a memorable The Reason We Suck Speech against her entire species. And she's remembered for other things as well.
  • Bathos: Following The Reveal during Miranda's Loyalty Mission, this happens if you don't take a certain Paragon interrupt.
    Miranda: This isn't how I wanted it to end, Niket. I'm going to miss you... [shoots them] Figuratively speaking.
  • Battle Couple: It's possible to bring any squadmate you may be romancing into the battlefield with Shepard.
  • Beam-O-War: Samara versus Morinth, short-ranged variant. If your Paragon or Renegade points are high enough to resist the Mind Control beforehand, you choose the victor. Otherwise, it's a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: Shepard can bet on varren (a cross between a feral dog and a wild boar) fights.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Literally for Shepard, almost in a Dorian Gray way, except that it's your character's real face that gets uglier if you do bad things. Simply put, Shepard gets scars on their face after being, well... resurrected. They will heal with every Paragon choice made, and get worse with every Renegade choice. Dr. Chakwas explains this in more detail in an e-mail she sends you, where she gives you the option of healing your scars by upgrading the medical bay.
  • Because You Can Cope:
    • If you are unable to resolve the Miranda vs. Jack argument and end up choosing Jack, both your options involve telling Miranda that you did not take her side because you knew she was more reasonable than her opponent.
      • You can also invoke this trope after siding with Miranda. "Charming" Jack doesn't invoke this trope, but "Intimidating" Jack has Shepard tell her that they sided with Miranda because Jack is tough when she's angry and Shepard didn't want her to lose her edge, and besides how would she have reacted if Shepard had kissed her ass?
    • A Dummied Out Grunt vs. Mordin argument has this for all the options except the Renegade one to restore Mordin's loyalty, in which you remind him how much he owes you.
    • This also happens in the Tali vs. Legion argument, in which you can tell Legion that you supported Tali because she is too emotionally invested in the conflict after the death of her father to accept anything else.
      • Or, if you sided with Legion, the "Intimidate" option invokes this trope by explaining to Tali that if Shepard makes Legion instead of Tali happy, then the geth fleet will soak up fire like pets as the quarian fleet battles the Reapers.
  • Behind the Black: If you choose to awaken Grunt, he will immediately charge at Shepard and back them up against a wall. Shepard will eventually talk Grunt down and make him let them go, after which it's revealed that the whole time, a pistol was aimed at his gut:
    Shepard: I'm glad you saw reason.
    (Grunt releases Shepard, and sees the pistol aimed at him)
    Grunt: Ha! Offer one hand, but arm the other. Wise, Shepard.
  • Befriending the Enemy: Commander Shepard can pull this with Jack. Jack is a violent, Ax-Crazy criminal with a Dark and Troubled Past and Shepard can help her deal with her demons in a number of ways. Jack goes through several levels of resistance, first warning Shepard that she knows what Shepard is trying to do and that it won't work, followed by (if Shepard is male) propositioning for sex (because she thinks that's the only reason a guy would treat her nicely), followed by acting like a Tsundere. If Jack is romanced in that game, it works. It also works without the romance come the third game, if Jack survived.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Possibly Warden Kuril from the Purgatory prison ship, who constantly insists his actions are for the good of the galaxy despite abundant evidence that he's just an extortionist and virtually a slave-trader that houses and deals with supremely unpleasant criminals while he tries to imprison Shepard because someone would pay for them.
  • Beneath Notice: Thane mentions this during his loyalty mission as the reason he uses children (like Mouse) and the poor as his eyes and ears. They're everywhere, yet hardly anyone ever pays attention to them.
    • The Collectors also exploit this in regards to the Vorcha on Omega. The Vorcha are treated as pests by the other races and are considered too unintelligent to do something like spread an engineered plague virus.
  • Benevolent Architecture: There are an inordinate number of conveniently placed chest-high walls no matter what planet you're on. You can use them to predict when a fight is about to occur. Time to save/reload/collect ammo!
    • It's used to mess with the player in the 'derelict' Collector ship. Up until the ambush, you'll be passing a LOT of chest-high walls that would make for good cover in a firefight, but see no Collectors until after you trigger the trap.
    • On Korlus (where Grunt's recruitment mission is) they at least make sense, seeing that the mercenaries were conducting live-fire training.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved:
    Mordin: Trying to determine how scale-itch got onto Normandy. Sexually transmitted disease only carried by varren. Implications... unpleasant.
  • Betting Mini Game: Averted. You can't actually play (or even watch, as the screen fades to black) the game of Skyllian-Five poker you're invited to after completing a minor side quest, and the outcome of the game is determined by your dialogue choices. Also, unlike the first game, there are no quasar casinos. There are, however, varren pit fights on the planet of Tuchanka.
  • BFG:
    • The DLC Blackstorm Projector and the M-920 Cain, which are, respectively, essentially a portable black hole gun and a very-powerful rail-gun marketed as a mini-nuke launcher (the description actually says that it isn't, in spite of the radiation symbol emblazoned on its side).
    • Outside of the Heavy Weapons category, three huge — and mutually exclusive, so choose wisely — guns are available to be picked up on the Collector ship: The Claymore heavy shotgun for Vanguards or Soldiers, the Widow anti-materiel rifle for Infiltrators or Soldiers, and the Soldier-only Revenant light machine gun (the Soldier is the only class that actually gets to choose between them, the aforementioned specialist classes have to choose between their specialist gun or training with another class of weapon). Each of the three weapons is an enormous brick of a gun, and in the case of the Claymore and Widow can only manage one shot before the cooling slug has to be ejected and replaced. The recoil of all three is supposed to break the arm of a regular human... but the re-engineered Shepard is no ordinary human. Apart from Shepard, the Claymore is available to Grunt and the Widow is available to Legion as their research upgrades.
    • The DLC Arc Projector is a special case of this. Against organic enemies, it's pretty powerful, and aided by the fact that the electrical blast will be transmitted to all nearby enemies. Against machine enemies however, it goes from being "pretty powerful" to "utterly devastating" — anything short of a Geth Prime or YMIR mech is guaranteed to at least have its shields and/or armor destroyed and be reduced to a small fraction of its health, if not destroyed outright, and unleashing it against the geth in Tali's recruitment and loyalty missions (both involving close-quarter fights with them) can result in entire units of geth being wiped out with just a single blast.
    • There's also the Great Rift on Klendagon, first seen in Mass Effect, which was made by a glancing blow by an immensely powerful mass accelerator fired thirty-seven million years ago. It's what killed the Reaper in the IFF mission.
    • At the naval level, there's the Thanix Cannon as well as the large mass accelerators carried by dreadnoughts.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Between Harbinger and the Shadow Broker.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Let the Council die in the previous game, and the Citadel is a much less friendly place two years later. Complaining about the changes to Avina has her inform you that your comment has been noted. Oh, and a C-Sec officer will be along soon, and it's in your interest to cooperate with them. Eep.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The party to the crew of the Normandy, but only if you go to save them immediately after they've been abducted. If you wait too long, you lose crew members and Doctor Chakwas gives you a What the Hell, Player?
    • Zaeed mentions this when you first meet him on Omega and agree to do his loyalty mission:
    Zaeed: Good. Let's get that out of the way so we can concentrate on being big goddamn heroes.
  • The Big Damn Kiss:
    • A truly excellent one can be done near the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC between Shepard and Liara if there was a romance between the two in the first game. It's also a great "Shut Up" Kiss.
    • Also one following a bout of Belligerent Sexual Tension between Miranda and Renegade Shepard. Note that this is before the actual romance scene.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...:More actual messages than junk and bills, but you get an advert for genital enhancement procedures, a chain letter, and a Nigerian Prince-type scam letter. Apparently, EDI has no spam filter.
  • Bite the Wax Tadpole: The Tupari sports drink vending machine on the Citadel has one advertisement based on the Real Life mistranslation of a Pepsi ad in China:
    Vending machine: Tupari: Brings your ancestors back from the grave!
  • Bittersweet Ending: How much so depends on the player...unless you break your back to ensure that nobody gets left behind.
  • Blamed for Being Railroaded: Most of the characters who knew Shepard in the previous game greet him or her with a vehement "What the Hell, Hero?" upon learning that he or she has joined Cerberus, a notoriously xenophobic human organization with no qualms about atrocious human rights violations and unethical experiments, even on humans. However, most of those characters eventually come around. Not so with the human squadmate (Ashley or Kaidan), who remains adamantly against the idea and refuses to have a civil conversation with Shepard for the entire game. Nevermind the fact that the player is forced to work for Cerberus for the entirety of the game, no matter what choices are made in this game or the previous one. Though being nice to the Survivor in this game makes them more amenable in the next game.
  • Blatant Item Placement:
    • One mission takes place on a geth base, abandoned by organics centuries ago. There's working medkits lying around.
    • The crew of the Hugo Gernsback was apparently way ahead of the curve, as all of them use the two-year-old thermal clip technology on weapons that are at least ten years old.
  • Bland-Name Product: The game salesman in the Citadel makes several comments about gaming, including one referring to "Grim Terminus Alliance" and how the Moral Guardians complain about it too much.
  • Bleak Level: The (DLC) Normandy crash site.
  • Blind Jump: Done by the Normandy on two occasions.
    Joker: EDI, get us out of here!
    EDI: Please specify a destination.
    Joker: Anywhere that's not here!
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • Russian localization, big time. Mistranslations, mistransliterations, inconsistencies, cutting off entire sentences, thus simplifying the dialogues - EA Russia gives it all in one ugly package. Plus, localization cannot decide whether it uses the glossary from the previous game's localization (made by a local firm), or it doesn't. Oh, and the font is ugly as hell, with letters jumping like jackrabbits on drugs.
    • The German translation tries really hard to cope. Inconsistencies in terminology with the first game are just the start. The Virtual Intelligence (VI) is called "six" in the game. Except when it isn't. And every sentence seems to be translated independently, so while everything is correct just on its own, sometimes the context gets absolutely lost between one thing said and the next. The worst probably is the use of "Du" and "Sie" (informal and formal "you" respectively), which is very inconsistent, especially between Shepard and a love interest. Since there is probably only one line in the original, this may be somewhat unavoidable, but turning up from one sentence to the next is annoying.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality:
    • A line of dialogue Legion might say on its loyalty mission highlights this. Every other conversation with it emphasizes this further, but this line best captures its perspective:
    "No two species are identical. All must be judged on their own merits. Treating every species like one's own is racist. Even benign anthropomorphism."
    • Depending on your morality, Mordin may come off as this. Initially, he seems amoral and a typical "get the job done" type of character, remaking the krogan genophage and stating that killing bad guys is his preferred method of conflict resolution. However, if you press him on the issue, you find out that he genuinely does think the genophage was the only way both krogan and the rest of the galaxy could have lived, and was determined not to hurt the krogan any more than he had to. Also, despite being a cold operator, if you have him on certain missions he'll be shocked at any brutality you come across. Perhaps not totally incomprehensible, but it can be difficult to relate to.
    • On a similar level, Thane's beliefs regarding the separation between his mind and his body, and the distinction that leads him to make regarding actions his body took versus things he holds himself personally accountable for, come across as quite alien and can be difficult for both Shepard and the player to wrap their minds around. A pretty telling example is when Thane opens up about him hunting his wife's killers. One Shepard response has them saying that by Thane's own beliefs, he merely acted on instinct, to which Thane responds that those kills are the only ones he committed on his own prerogative; the only deaths on his conscience.
  • Body Horror:
    • Husks are humans reduced to empty shells with circuitry. Praetorians are thirty Husks fused together, while Scions are three Husks fused together around a large gun. And don't even ask what the Reapers have in store for humanity...
    • The end of the Overlord DLC. Almost the entire cutscene is focused on that one image. "It all seemed harmless..."
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: The game ends with a shot of innumerable Reapers headed towards the galaxy.
  • Bond One-Liner: Many Renegade interrupts have these. One of the best examples is found during Thane's recruitment mission:
    Mercenary: I've got nothing more to say to you.
    Shepard shoves the mercenary through a window, letting him fall to his death.
    Shepard: How about "goodbye"?
  • Book-Ends:
    • The game begins with Shepard's death, and can end with it, depending on your playing style.
    • Also, the interactive comic book at the start of the PS3 version. The comic starts with Shepard mentioning how the events of the first game began with a routine mission. After spending about fifteen minutes telling the story of how that mission led into a quest to save the entire galaxy, Shepard explains how afterwards the Council sent them on a clean up mission to route any remnants of Saren's army. The line Shepard uses as the comic finishes?
    Shepard: Just another routine mission.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The improved sniping means headshots now result in massive damage, compliments from your squad mates, and a visual confirmation of your prowess with a gush of Chunky Salsa.
    • Also the easiest and most satisfying way to take down mechs. FENRIS and LOKI mechs explode and harm enemies around them, whereas YMIRs explode like a shot from the M-920 Cain, and can kill enemies just the same.
  • Boring, but Practical
    • The most common criticism of the Soldier class is that it lacks the "flash" of the other classes. Adrenaline Rush is crazy useful though. And having up to three different ammo types, as well as training with all weapons except the sub-machine gun, means the Soldier can adapt to almost any situation.
    • The Sentinel as well. Your powers handle every enemy protection in the game while Tech Armor makes you near indestructible. On top of that, when Tech Armor breaks, it damages the enemies, you still have your regular shields on top, and when you reactivate it your squadmates' cooldowns reset.
    • The pistol. Doesn't have the range or aiming ease of the sniper rifle (the DLC Phalanx comes close, though), the fire rate of the assault rifle/submachine gun, or the stopping power of the shotgun, but doesn't have any of the major drawbacks of those weapons either. There's a reason every playable class has one.
    • Biotic powers are awesome, but the only one that damages shields and barriers is the basic direct damage Warp ability, which does do impressive damage but has a very long cooldown meaning low DPS while also leaving you helpless against other enemies. After you finally remove the protections using a combination of Warp, your little pistol, the engineer squad members you brought along just for this and a lot of cursing, tearing the target's unprotected flesh to pieces with your mind is cathartic.
    • The Collector Particle Beam. You acquire it fairly early in the game (on Horizon), and it fires a thin yellow line. However, being a "laser" weapon, it hits targets immediately, it strips most enemies of any shields and armor in seconds, has no recoil, and it actually holds enough ammo to use from time to time.
    • The Viper Sniper Rifle. It's substantially weaker than most sniper rifles; however, it's semi-automatic (and accordingly has significantly less recoil), holds twelve shots per clip, and can take down most Elite Mooks in several good shots.
    • Fortification, Barrier, and Geth Shield Boost, the loyalty powers of Grunt, Jacob and Legion respectively. They're not terribly flashy, and all they really do is create a defensive barrier around Shepard to ward off incoming fire briefly. However, considering how quickly Shepard can get killed, they serve as an extremely useful emergency button if you're getting pounded and need to run away, dive for cover, or simply survive for a couple more seconds to put down an enemy. In addition, Geth Shield Boost also gives a bonus to your weapon damage aside from shielding.
    • Both in-universe and out, the Mattock semi-automatic assault rifle. In-universe, it's a old design compared to your state of the art weapons, but still in service due to its ruggedness, reliability, and ease of use. As a meta example, the rifle packs the biggest punch out of all the assault rifles, is very accurate, and is very ammo efficient due to being semi-automatic. It's mentioned that the manufacturer advertises the lack of full auto as a feature, not a drawback, since it curbs "spray and pray" tendencies.
    • Melee attacks. In a big beautiful sci-fi world with space magic and super pew pew guns, sometimes your best option is to punch someone to death.
  • Boss Remix: A remix of the song that played during the Normandy SR-1's destruction.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted, to a degree. The magazines themselves are still bottomless, but all weapons have now been modified with a heat sink system, so when a weapon overheats the user simply ejects the heat sink while a detachable magazine of heat sinks (known as a thermal clip) automatically loads a fresh one. This equates to the same thing as ammunition, though, giving you a certain number of shots per sink and forcing you to scrounge battlefields for clips. These disposable heat sinks don't cool off on their own because the way the sinks work is the same way heat is stored in the Normandy. The clips contain a small amount of lithium that absorbs the heat. There's no way to radiate it, so the lithium slowly heats up to the point where the clip must be ejected or it'll damage the weapon. The lithium is lost when the clip is discarded.
    • Bioware wanted to create a system where the guns could cool off like in Mass Effect 1, but you could also eject the heat sink to cool it off immediately, should you need to. Unfortunately, certain aspects of it were clunky, and they eventually decided to switch over to completely limited ammo. The system is actually in Mass Effect 2, but disabled; naturally, several weapons are unbalanced with it on.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Have you completed Mass Effect Galaxy and attached it to your EA profile? You might be wondering just what it unlocks in this game. It basically just gives Jacob and Miranda a few more in-battle quotes than they normally have.
  • Brainwashed: Common theme, including the Reapers' indoctrination of the entire Prothean race, as well as the heretic geth in a... heroic example?. Also, victims of ardat-yakshi, literally, in their case.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • In a strange twist, you can get this ability. If you side with Morinth and kill Samara instead, you can learn her loyalty ability, Dominate. It stuns enemies, gives them a biotic barrier, and makes them attack their allies for a few seconds before they come to their senses. Essentially, it's AI hacking, but for organic opponents.
    • Played straight with Dr. Amanda Kenson from the Arrival DLC.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: After Shepard's disappearance, the old squad is scattered. Only a few rejoin you; most either refuse to work with Cerberus or have their own agendas they need to pursue.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The Equalizer, Aegis, and Firepower DLC packs, which all include new weapons and/or armor, some of which was previously only available as a pre-order bonus.
    • The "Power Gamer" achievement for reaching Level 30 typically required starting a New Game+ to reach. If a player buys all the DLC missions and does everything in the galaxy, it is easily doable however.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Didn't punch Al-Jilani in the first game? If you do in the second (a Renegade interrupt), Shepard will comment on how they should have done that the first time they met.
    • In the first game, if you talk to Wrex near the lake on the Presidium, he will wonder aloud if there are fish in the lakes. In this game, upon returning to the Citadel, you can talk to two krogan, one of them also wondering if there are fish in the Presidium lakes. (The other one even mentions a rumor of an Urdnot having gone up there once.) This time, you can finally answer that burning question for them.
    • A subtle one. In the first game, Ashley says that whenever someone says "With All Due Respect..." they are really saying "Kiss my ass." During Tali's loyalty mission, a possible response to the Admiralty Board's thanks for representing a member of the Migrant Fleet (Tali) is "With all due respect, Admiral, I didn't represent one of your people. I represented one of mine."
    • During Mordin's recruitment mission, Shepard can gripe about how nobody just offers their help when they ask. Several missions later, Shepard can express their scepticism at the security guard's "no strings attached" offer to help them reach Thane and evade the Corrupt Corporate Executive's security.
  • Broad Strokes: Regardless how the player approached some of the missions/assignments in Mass Effect, characters will only mentioned how one thing happened when it is brought up. A good example is before doing the Dossier: The Assassin mission. Shepard will mention that Nassana had them kill her sister (even though the player could do this without ever talking to Nassana).
  • Broken Bridge:
    • The objective? Go through the Omega-4 Relay. Where do you start the game? Right next to the Omega-4 Relay. Justifiable, since without the intel from the Collector ship, as well as the Reaper IFF, the Normandy would be flying blind and may end up in the black hole on the galactic core if it just immediately jumped through the relay.
    • There's a brief but much less justifiable one on Haestrom ("Recruit Tali"). A geth ship bombards the area, causing a column to fall and block your access to the door you need to get through. Shepard & Co. must fight off many, many geth to recover two demolition charges to remove the obstacle. Apparently, they either don't see the four feet of open space between the top of the obstruction and the bottom of the arch, or they don't think they can climb over the chest-high debris despite the presence of many crates, etc. that could be used as stepping stones.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In the worst ending, you will succeed in stopping the Collectors at the cost of Shepard and the entire squad. Fair trade-off? Probably not.
    • Literally the only option for Joker, since he has glass bones. Regarding his inability to defend the Normandy, he remarks: "What was I supposed to do [against Collectors]? Break my arm at them?"
  • Bullet Time: The three combat classes potentially have this ability: the Soldier has the Adrenaline Rush ability; the Infiltrator gets this when using a sniper rifle; and the Vanguard gets this after using Heavy Charge.
    • It's notable, that the Soldier can slow down time in two separate ways: The aforementioned Adrenaline Rush, and whenever they sprint. Evolving Adrenaline Rush into Heightened Adrenaline Rush and using it while sprinting will make any missiles or all of Harbinger's attacks literally freeze in place.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Almost the entire crew. They are so messed up in so many different ways, but they are simply the absolute best at what they do.
  • Bury Your Gays: Figuratively. Like its predecessor, there is a great deal of same-sex content written and voice acted for both men and women, and still remaining on the game disks, but it can only be dug out with editor programs. Also literally for Nef in Samara's loyalty quest, and potentially for Kelly Chambers and even female Shepard if she chooses to romance Morinth (though the same happens to a male Shepard).
  • But Thou Must!:
    • Shepard ends up working as a Cerberus agent even when nobody trusts or likes them, and many of their party members have very personal reasons to hate them. You also cannot refuse any mission the Illusive Man offers when he calls you on the Normandy. If Yeoman Chambers informs you that the Illusive Man wants to speak with you, you can't access the Galaxy Map until you finish the mission he gives you.
    • Also, if you've become close to more than one romantic partner, then at least one will repeat the same lines over and over, waiting for you to break it off with the other(s). This occurs no matter which options you pick, and makes them impossible to converse with.
    • More esoterically: when you first obtain Legion, your options are "Hand it over to Cerberus For Science!" or "Let me talk to it first." The Exact Words of the latter imply that you've merely deferred the decision and can still package it up after activating it (which is far more Renegade if you think about it), but no: if you take that option, Legion joins your party. Period. It is, however, pointed out by Miranda that it will likely be difficult to deactivate Legion once it's active, but you're never given the opportunity to try, or to take Jacob's suggestion of destroying and spacing it. What makes this more bizarre is how closely this resembles your acquisition of Grunt, whom you can choose to keep in his tank or awaken; in his case, leaving him alone will keep him out of your party.
  • Bystander Syndrome: What's that, Shepard? Saved the Council? Destroyed a Reaper in the middle of the Citadel? They promised you support in your hunt for the rest of the Reapers and their eternal gratitude? Sucker.
  • Cain and Abel: The Overlord DLC has a Fate Worse than Death version, where a researcher uses his brother as a conduit to contact the Geth, in the most horrific fashion imaginable. Paragon!Shepard warns him that if he ever goes near his brother again. he [the researcher] goes directly to Caïna.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Thermal clips. It's an ammo system, working exactly like magazines from any number of other games. It's just the name that's different. Justified as the first game already established that infantry weapons effectively never need to reload actual projectiles.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the first game, Wrex will wonder if there's any fish in the Citadel lake to eat. In 2, two krogan debate whether there's any fish in the lakes, and one of them says that he heard an Urdnot went there once.
    • Liara's first line - "Have you faced an asari commando unit before? Few humans have." — is a direct quote from Benezia's boss fight.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: When you first arrive on Korlus, you hear a Blue Suns commander giving these out to the mercenaries under her command. Various squadmates lampshade this, with Jacob (or Zaeed) providing the Trope Namer.
  • Canon Immigrant: Feron, a drell mercenary that appeared in the Mass Effect: Redemption comic series, first appears in the series proper in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. Jacob and Miranda also count, from the iPhone game Mass Effect Galaxy, where Jacob was the main protagonist. Miranda also appeared in the same comic where Feron was introduced.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Jacob tells Shepard, early on, that they're in a Cerberus base. While his clothing has a Cerberus logo over the heart, and he's standing next to Wilson, who has a uniform with a Cerberus logo on the shoulder, which just happens to look a lot like the one Shepard was wearing when they woke up. Oh, and when Shepard saw Miranda earlier, she had a Cerberus logo over the heart as well. Of course, they didn't have their distinctive color scheme, logo, and aesthetic in the first game; the Cerberus operations Shepard stumbled on then were apparently all "rogue cells", and the organization as a whole was much more secretive. Apparently, they re-branded.
    • Nine out of ten times when someone says something on the lines of 'we're under attack!' you will have gathered this already as you'll be knee-deep in a firefight.
  • Cargo Ship: In-universe. If Shepard isn't in a romantic relationship, Mordin notes that there are rumors about Joker and EDI. Kasumi also says they are Like an Old Married Couple, and Shepard can also point it out in the cockpit... to which EDI will reply its more like platonic bonding than hormonally-induced courtship behavior.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Shepard and Liara during the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC in spades.
    Shepard: What kind of weapons does this thing have?
    Liara: It is a taxi. It has a fare meter.
    Shepard: Wonderful.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Due to loading times, you can travel across the galaxy faster than travelling between decks of the Normandy.
  • Catfight: Jack and Miranda after completing both their loyalty missions.
    Joker: Take pictures!
  • Cathartic Exhalation: After making the jump through the Omega 4 relay, the Normandy ends up smack in the middle of a giant space debris field left behind by all the ships that attempted to use it before. After some tense maneuvers, Joker, your resident Ace Pilot, finally lets out the breath he has been holding for a minute and utters only "Too close".
  • Celebrity Endorsement: The Paragon option for getting discounts on the Citadel stores. "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel."
  • Changing Gameplay Priorities: A variation that differs from difficulty setting, and not progression through one playthrough. On lower difficulties, it's possible for the player to trick Shepard out with gear/abilities that boost their defense and allow them to soak up great amounts of enemy fire. On Hardcore or Insanity difficulty, though, that goes right out the window: the ONLY thing that matters on the highest difficulty is killing things before they kill you. Defense-boosting abilities become pointless, because at best it'll take three bullets to kill you instead of two. Thus, Damage Per Second becomes the player's top priority so that they can kill hostile damage sources as soon as possible.
  • Chase Scene: The Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC includes a car chase through the rush hour traffic of Illium.
  • Checkpoint Bluff: At one point Shephard is able to bring Legion to the Citadel, even though Legion is a geth and the Citadel is on high alert for a new invasion. The lady at the checkpoint thinks it's Shepard's personal VI assistant, Shepard rolls with it and they all pass.
    Legion: Geth do not intentionally infiltrate.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A massive one from ME1: if you scan the planet Klendagon, you find out that there's a massive rift across the surface caused by a "glancing blow" from an insanely powerful mass accelerator. The ridiculously huge mass accelerator's target turns out to have been a Reaper whose corpse you have to board.
    • It's a good idea to fully upgrade the Normandy. Though some of them don't give any immediate benefit, they prove to be immensely useful later on. The lives of three of your squadmates after crossing the Omega-4 relay depend on those upgrades, particularly those suggested by Jacob (ship armor), Garrus (improved weaponry) and Tali (drive core shielding).
    • The ladders in the Tech Lab and AI Core.
    • All the squadmates give subtle indicators as to what special tasks they're good at (or not good at) in the Suicide Mission over the course of the game.
      • Tali, naturally, is a good choice for the tunnel techie, but her inability to get Prazza to stand down on Freedom's Progress indicates she's not good leadership material. The other recommended choices for the vents, Legion and Kasumi, have also proven themselves beforehand;Legion held its own against Husks inside the derelict Reaper, exposed the Reaper core before getting knocked out, and rewrote a Reaper-written virus to turn it against the heretics instead; Kasumi has not only pulled off a daring heist involving lots of electronic locks, but was also capable of disabling a gunship's shields.
      • Garrus managed to lead a squad of vigilantes and royally pissed off almost all the powers that be in Omega, so that indicates good leadership and thus is a good secondary team leader (although there was also that one time where everyone on his squad got killed because one of them wasn't loyal; thankfully, this doesn't affect his viability as a leader).
      • Mordin's comments on Kirrahe's "Hold the Line" speech indicate he's probably best to send back with the Normandy survivors. That, and they're all hurt, while he is a professional doctor.
      • Zaeed's stories imply that a) he's a good choice to be left to hold the line and b) he's completely unsuited to be the second fireteam leader.
      • Samara and Thane both have vast fighting experience... while completely alone and against targets that can be reasoned with, so they shouldn't lead a team against mind-controlled alien slaves.
      • And a very subtle one - Miranda repeatedly claims she's a powerful biotic, yet we never see her do anything spectacular with her powers (at least not without provocation). She's proven too weak during the barrier sequence, while the best choices, Samara and Jack, are shown doing amazing stuff with biotics. However, Miranda is one of the correct choices to be the second Fire Team leader, as hinted by one of her top bonus ability branches being "Cerberus Leader".
      • Another subtle example: Jacob is also a good choice for a fireteam leader, in spite of Miranda's objections that Jacob doesn't have prior experience leading a military squad. One of the first things you learn about him, however, indicates otherwise: he was once an Alliance Corsair, and Corsairs are ship captains, proving that Jacob indeed has prior leadership experience. That, and the Corsairs were ship-boarders... while the entire final mission is a boarding action.
  • Chewbacca Defense:
    • Shepard can invoke this at Tali's trial to get her acquitted without having to submit damning evidence about her father to the Admiralty Board or condemning her to exile.
    • Outside of the trial, Renegade Shepard uses them frequently along with Insane Troll Logic in order to intimidate people who try to logically defend their positions.
    Shepard: Hey everyone! This store discriminates against the poor!
  • Clarke's Third Law: Tech abilities. They are referred to as such: throwing a firebomb is announced as 'deploying incineration tech'. Also, tech users tend to have glowing yellow holographic diagrams surrounding them.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Joker when the Collectors have boarded the Normandy.
    "Shit. Shit-shit-shit. What the shit?"
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Shepard's firepower is limited to the amount of ammo clips left. Enemies don't have this problem. Fortunately, neither do your squadmates.
    • Inverted in the case of biotics; Shepard can arc special attacks around corners and over obstacles, but computer opponents and allies must have direct line-of-sight.
  • Colony Drop: In the Arrival DLC, performing one is your main objective. It succeeds spectacularly. And the repercussions of this are severe.
    • Conversations reveal this was performed off-screen by Jack (naturally), dropping a space-station onto a hanar moon.
      Jack: They really liked that moon.
  • The Comically Serious:
    EDI: I enjoy the sight of humans on their knees. (long pause) That is a joke.
    • Legion would like to remind you that geth do not intentionally infiltrate.
    • The Shadow Broker's dossier on Mordin's STG mission to deliver the modified genophage duly notes Mordin and Kirrahe suggesting that their cloaca is blocked, that their cranium is, in fact, in their cloaca, and how tough their cloacas are.
  • Combination Attack: Using Pull (or Slam, if you're quick enough) will enable two of these: First, it increases the damage they receive from being shot by any weapon. And second: any lifted enemy will actually explode with great force if you use Warp on them. The latter is the best way to deal with groups of enemies (and there's an achievement for doing this enough times), but many players miss out, because they like to just let the AI handle ally powers.
  • Command Roster: Much like the first game, some roles depend on how you play it out.
    • The Captain: Commander Shepard.
    • Number Two: Miranda officially, although Garrus and Joker can serve in a similar capacity.
    • Wrench Wench: Tali.
    • The Scientist: Mordin, who is also technically a medic but doesn't serve in that position on the ship.
    • The Medic: Dr. Chakwas, like the first game.
    • Security Officer: Jacob and Garrus are in charge of armaments and usually the ones you consult on mission efficiency.
    • The Marine: Comes in several varieties.
    • Ace Pilot: Joker.
    • Mission Control: EDI and Joker.
    • The Shrink/Communications Officer: Kelly, who manages all crew communications.
    • The Neidermeyer: The Illusive Man, whom no one really trusts.
  • Companion-Specific Sidequest: Standard issue for a Bioware game - except in this case the companion quests are the whole point. The bulk of the game involves recruiting and securing the loyalty of your teammates, with Shepard being more of a peripheral / viewpoint character to their various arcs.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Played straight several times by a number of minor but Genre Blind villains.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: As seen during Kasumi's loyalty mission, Donovan Hock, and pretty much the rest of the Bekenstein upperclass.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: From Grunt's Rite of Passage: "Ready for another round? Hit the Keystone, Shepard." Yes, Grunt, we get it.
    • During Garrus' recruitment mission, you'll be repeatedly reminded to come see him again if you pause to scout around for ammo and upgrades after killing the latest batch of enemies.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Basically the point of keeping your saved games from Mass Effect to import into the latest one. For the more straightforward kind, you can make a drinking game out of how many nods there are on the Citadel, up to and including commercials for the all-elcor performance of Hamlet. Complete with video clips.
    "And be sure to see the production live: an unforgettable fourteen-hour experience!"
    • During the "Stolen Memory" DLC, you can see one of the cutscenes (featuring Nax the krogan) from Mass Effect Galaxy playing on a vid-screen.
    • Honestly, it goes full-on into Continuity Porn territory - most of the minor decisions you make during the first game as well as many of the side quests and their outcome will be referenced by meeting characters from said quests or hearing news reports.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: When trying to recruit Thane, Shepard and his/her squadmates are this to Thane during his mission to assassinate Nassana Dantius. After Shepard and company took out Nassana's guards and they confront Nassana in her penthouse, Thane uses this moment to drop from an airduct on the ceiling and then takes out her bodyguards and then her.
  • Conversation Casualty: It is possible to heavily influence one assignment (Recruit Archangel) by talking to a mechanic repairing a plot-important weapon, asking him about what is going on and then ending the chat by stabbing one of his electric tools into his back (a Renegade interrupt).
  • Conviction by Contradiction: One side mission Liara gives you has you trying to identify an agent of the Shadow Broker named The Observer, choosing among five given suspects based on clues you pick up on certain locations around Illium. Should you make the correct choice at the end, Liara will deal with The Observer personally — not by turning them in, but through cold-blooded murder.
    • Unless you decide to tell Liara about the Shadow Broker before doing her missions. In that case, The Observer quietly slips out and disappears while Liara and Shepard aren't looking.
  • Cool Code of Source: The mini-game meant to hack into systems involves selecting chunks of what appears to be C/C++ code. If you actually look at the code, it appears to be gibberish.
  • Cooldown Hug: A Paragon interrupt during Tali's Loyalty Mission lets you give her one after you find her father's body.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Afterlife on Omega, Dark Star in Zakera Ward on the Citadel, Eternity on Illium. Take your pick.
  • Cool Old Lady: Matriarch Aethyta of Illium.
  • Cool Shades: Among the "armor" types you can equip are visors, goggles, and shades.
  • Copy Protection: There is no client-side DRM at all; instead, the player needs to register their key to their EA/BioWare account to access Downloadable Content and Cerberus Network news. Mass Effect also had downloadable content that required registration with EA, but not zero-day DLC that was created solely to encourage copy registration.
    • The game makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to this by having two weapon descriptions mention being protected by "sophisticated Fabrication Rights Management technology to prevent duplication."
    • Similarly, the game store clerk on the Citadel will buy used games for two credits. For ten credits, he'll sell you an extended warranty so that if the copy protection bugs out, you can download a new copy.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: While we don't meet many, the nothing-is-off-limits economy of Illium in the sequel implies there are plenty. The fact that they have a perfectly legal form of slavery indentured servitude implemented doesn't help either. The worst one by far is Nassana, who is killed by Thane.
  • Counting Bullets: Blasto the hanar Spectre parodies the famous Dirty Harry line;
    This one has forgotten whether its heat sink is over capacity. It wonders whether the criminal scum considers itself fortunate.
  • Courtroom Episode: Tali's loyalty mission entails her being put on trial for treason. Shepard acts as her legal council during her court martial.
  • Covert Distress Code: The quarians returning to the Migrant Fleet have a code phrase that indicates they're in danger. They also have a second phrase that indicates their mission was successful and the ship they're aboard is no danger to the Fleet; Tali'Zorah's is "After time adrift among open stars, along tides of light and shoals of dust, I will return to where I began."
    • A side mission you can take up during Samara's loyalty mission while trying to attract Morinth in the Afterlife VIP section has this as well. You can alert a reporter to the potential danger of interviewing a gang leader by mentioning the words "terminal" and "eternity" in sequence.
  • Cradling Your Kill: Thane does a version of this with Nassana in his introductory scene.
  • Crapsack Galaxy: Depending on the choices you made in the first game, the state of affairs in the second game can be rather dystopian. Some of the possibilities: other species having anti-human race riots on the Citadel, the Alliance and the other militaries having serious problems keeping the fleets up to snuff, humanity's relationship with all other Citadel species being increasingly strained and antagonistic... hell, the list goes on and on. Just listen to the Galactic News on the Citadel, or talk to Avina. And that's not even considering the Anyone Can Die nature of the final mission, where even Shepard can be Killed Off for Real, plus the massive fleet of Reapers shown advancing on the galaxy in the ending.
  • Crate Expectations: With a different set of expectations, namely that you can expect them to save your sorry ass unless they're "Fragile" or "Explosive".
  • Creative Sterility: Mordin's reasoning for classifying the Collectors as mere slaves as opposed to a species in their own right.
  • Crisis Point Hospital:
    • Mordin Solus is introduced running a free clinic on Omega; thanks to the outbreak of The Plague, it's become overrun with patients stricken by the disease, eating through their meagre resources and taxing the staff to its limits. He's an undeniably brilliant doctor, but there's only so much Mordin can do with barely a handful of nurses to help - hence why he needs you to disperse the cure he's manufactured into the air vents. On the upside, local gangs no longer bother the clinic thanks to Mordin's talent for violence.
    • During Mordin's loyalty mission, you pay a visit to a Krogan hospital on Tuchanka where Clan Weyrlock is attempting to develop a cure for the Genophage; on top of being a hulking, gloomy bomb-shelter of a complex with more soldiers than patients, it's littered with the corpses of test subjects - both slaves forced into the experiments and volunteers hoping to be cured. By the time you get there, almost every single patient in attendance is dead - except for one sickly Krogan warrior - while the scientist in charge of the project is struggling to assemble a cure from the data assembled so far.
  • Critical Annoyance: The screen grows redder with black veining, and your heartbeat becomes loud and erratic while other sounds grow muffled when you lose your shields and are low on health. Compared to the first game, though, Shepard is no longer limited to the one line "I've lost shields!" Shepard now has a few variations on the same line, or at least different intonations.
    • The blaring klaxon when the Hammerhead is low on health definitely qualifies as well. If you fail to heed THAT warning, the entire vehicle will burst into flame (regardless of the nature of the damage taken) as a final bid to grab your attention.
  • Crisis Point Hospital:
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: Happens to the Normandy after the Collectors abduct the entire crew minus the Player Characters and Joker.
  • Cryo-Prison: Jack was apparently so dangerous she was not only imprisoned on a starship but in cryo on a starship. As soon as you thaw her out she demonstrates why.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The Normandy SR-1, despite being the most technologically-advanced ship in the Alliance Navy, is eaten alive at the start of the game. This only makes upgrading to the Thanix Cannon that much more satisfying, as it allows Joker and the SR-2 to return the favor.
    • The Suicide Mission if everyone gets out alive is a clear example of this trope.
    • The final boss, if you bring along the Cain.
    • There are smaller examples throughout the game as well, typically during cutscenes.
    • In the Arrival DLC, after waking up from being sedated for two days (because the sedative just stopped working), Shepard proceeds to tear apart an entire facility filled with elite assault troopers and heavy mechs...all by themself.
    • Even before that, when Shepard is trapped in the room with the artifact while wave after wave of Project troops tries to kill them. While you can lose the battle at any point and still continue, it is much more satisfying to go the full 5 waves, on your own, with no real cover, against vastly superior numbers, and only be taken out by the Reaper equivalent of a Deus ex Machina. At that point, it sure feels like nothing else can stop you. There is, of course, an achievement for doing this.
    • A humorous example during Samara's recruitment mission, when you choose to let Niftu Cal, the self-proclaimed biotic god, go up against Captain Wasea, an asari commando who are generally considered to be the deadliest fighters in the galaxy. He throws one biotic "attack" against her which just bounces off her nose. She follows up by killing him with a single biotic throw.
  • Cut Scene Incompetence: Krogan guards. There's often a possibility to kill them with just a few shots in a cutscene. In actual combat, they tend to be a bit more resilient.
  • Cut Scene Power To The Max: Rampant.
    • Jack taking out four YMIR Mechs in seconds.
    • Samara and Morinth's biotic showdown.
    • Thane's sudden disappearance.
    • Samara apparently using her biotics to fly (or at least hover). Something that we see from both Liara and Tela Vasir in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. In a cutscene, of course.
    • In the Suicide Mission, the Collectors are easily dispatched with one or two shots, while they can take almost a whole clip from an assault rifle in gameplay. Ditto enemy krogan.
    • Shepard's Murder Pistol, a distant cousin of Dragon Age's Murder Knife.
    • The DLC squadmates also have this as well:
      • Zaeed's loyalty mission, if you choose to continue chasing after his target, ends with him ejecting a thermal clip on a puddle of gasoline, setting his mark on fire. Outside of that one scene, spent thermal clips are essentially useless.
      • The last boss on Kasumi's loyalty mission is on a gunship whose shields regenerate after taking them down once. The second time, a cutscene occurs in which Kasumi makes her way on top of the gunship and disables its shields.
  • Cutting Off the Branches:
    • The whole reason for importing your old save files. Rather than have to deal with a Q&A in the beginning of the game about what you did, the developers just made it so the game would read the data from your save file and make the necessary changes. If you didn't import an old save file, you are essentially punished, with the game going with the worst outcomes for most of the scenarios.
    • Also, the game's worst ending (where Shepard dies) officially never happened. It's more of a very long Non Standard Game Over.
    • The exception to this is your encounter with Conrad Verner. Due to a glitch, ME1 corrupts the part of the save file that records what you did to Conrad in that game, so the developers made ME2 always assume that you threatened to kill him in the first game, since that led to the more interesting scenario in the second (the original idea was that if you didn't threaten Conrad in ME1, you wouldn't encounter him in ME2). It is possible to, with a save game editor, access a scenario in which Conrad acts as though he was charmed in the first game.
  • Cyanide Pill: Cerberus employees get one in their molar as a standard feature. Mordin is dismissive, noting that "ocular nerve flashbangs" are harder to disarm. This comes back in a truly horrible brick-joke in 3, where indoctrinated Cerberus agents are revealed to now be implanted with them. Guess Mordin didn't get all of the bugs out of his lab after all, although he did return the expensive one to Miranda.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Invoked by Mordin when discussing whether the Collectors could be saved: "No glands, replaced by tech. No digestive system, replaced by tech. No soul, replaced by tech."
    • Averted by Shepard, especially if they're Paragon. As a general rule, cybernetic implants are fairly standard treatment for severe enough injuries, and are not treated as morally or spiritually problematic.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • Going from Mass Effect to 2 (PC version, at least) is more than a little jarring, not least of all because of Left-Shift bringing up the Command Menu and the Spacebar sprinting in battle (exact opposite of in 1), and the Spacebar also being remapped to accompany the Talk/Use function, and being used to go in and out of cover (it no longer happens automatically).
    • The "E" key changed from "use/interact" to "send henchman #2 here", causing a lot of unnecessary running around and taking cover.
    • On the Xbox 360, 1 and 2 also switch around the "leave orbit" and "leave Galaxy Map" buttons (B and X).
    • Going back from 2 to 1 on the Xbox 360 also can result in a lot of grenades being thrown pointlessly after a fight. Grenades use the back button, which in ME2 (which has no grenades) is used to put your weapons away.
    • Similarly on the PC version, R is used for Grenades in 1 but for reloading your weapon in 2 (which many players automatically do after each volley they fired).
    • Not to mention constantly pulling up the power/weapon wheels when meaning to zoom and shoot, or vice versa, when switching between 1 and 2, at least on the PS3 version (zoom and shoot are L2 and R2 in the first game and L1 and R1 in the second, while the wheel menus are the opposite). Luckily the control schemes can be switched.
    • A problem across all three games is that the "skip dialogue" button can also be used to select a dialogue option when the wheel pops up. This can be an issue when you're on your umpteenth replay and you skip through text you've memorized by heard, but accidentally select an option without meaning to because the option wheel popped up at the same time you hit the button.
      • Also prevalent in all games but not quite as annoying: dialogue wheel responses on the left (which continue the conversation) occasionally switch places after triggering one of them. For example, if you select a response on the upper-left side of the wheel, and preemptively move the cursor to the middle or the lower-left side to trigger what you presume to be a different line of dialogue, you may end up replaying the dialogue you've just finished listening to.
  • Damage Is Fire: The Hammerhead.
  • Danger in the Galactic Core: The galactic core is revealed to be the location of the Collectors' home base. They use it because they have the technology to make it a viable location for a permanent installation, whereas most species would be unable to cope with the high concentration of black holes and stars, which makes it an excellent secret hideout.
    Jacob Taylor: The core is just black holes and exploding suns. There are no habitable planets there.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Seems to be the main theme in regards to the squad. Many of them (aside from your returning teammates) are criminals (Jack, Kasumi), assassins (Thane), working for Cerberus (Jacob and Miranda), or otherwise untrustworthy (Grunt, Zaeed, Legion). However, the problem is that, aside from Jack and Zaeed (before Character Development sets in, at least), none of your teammates are evil per se (Mordin and Samara, for example).
  • Dark Reprise: "The End Run", the song that plays as you and the team escape from the Collector Base, sounds slightly different in the event Shepard dies.
  • Darker and Edgier: Though without any loss of quality or maturity. Fornax is just one example. The atmosphere is considerably darker, with Shepard spending most of their time in Terminus space with even your time on the Citadel spent on the darker levels around criminals and barely any at the brighter Presidium. Your allies are mostly morally ambiguous mercenaries, violence-obsessed criminals, reckless vigilantes, cops who casually kill helpless enemies if they don't talk, assassins and members of a terrorist organization. Even the gameplay gets in on this, being considerably more likely to rip you to pieces but also making you capable of doing the same to enemies.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Each individual squadmate (with the sole exception of Morinth) has a loyalty mission centered on their character, for which they're a Required Party Member.
  • The Day of Reckoning: The Suicide Mission is this, in spades.
  • Deadguy Junior: If you hang around the Sirta Foundation store in the Citadel, you learn that the baby from the previous game's side quest "Family Matter" was named Jacob, after his father. Not to be confused with the Jacob who is the first member of your party.
  • Deadly Gas: The Minagen X3 encountered during Samara's recruitment mission. You encounter containers of it that explode and release the drug into the air, hanging around in big clouds. If you're exposed to it for too long, it'll drain first your shields, then your health. On the plus side, it enhances biotic powers, both of friend and foe, which can be handy. Unless you don't have any biotics in your squad. Then it's just frustrating.
  • Dead Man Writing: At the end of Kasumi's loyalty mission, she goes through Keiji's graybox and discovers a message he recorded for her to find after his death requesting that she delete all of the graybox's contents, including not only dangerous stolen information, but records of all the time they spent together.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Averted. During the final mission, anyone who dies will do so quickly, suddenly, and with no time for mourning. At the very least, an ill-chosen second fireteam leader will get to say a few last words before they die.
  • Death-or-Glory Attack: Vanguard Charge. Either it's a spectacular close-range bulldozer, or plants you right in the middle of an enemy horde.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Every team member (and Joker). For example, Shepard talking to Detective Anaya during Samara's recruitment mission will have them tell Anaya to not have to go through with restraining Samara (which would get her killed, due to justicar law), because she has a right to disobey suicidal orders. Your teammates will dryly comment that they didn't know they were allowed to do that, considering that Shepard pits them against impossible odds about twice a day ( Legion narrows this down to 2.73 times a day, rounded down).
    • Throughout that mission, Anaya herself is the queen of snark.
      Anaya: I have no interest in dying.
  • Death Glare:
    • After Tali's recruitment mission, there's a cutscene where Jacob welcomes Tali aboard, though despite his friendly demeanor, Tali has nothing but cold hate for him and Cerberus. Just before she leaves, he quips that she should introduce herself the the ship's AI, EDI.note  Tali pauses at the hatch, turns, and gives Jacob a look that, even without seeing her face, clearly should have blown out the rear bulkhead and reduced him to atoms, and then silently leaves.
    • Also if brought along to the Citadel when you deal with the volus accusing a quarian of theft. Considering you can't even see her face through that visor of hers, her death glares are indeed chilling to the bone.
    • The first shot of Miranda after Shepard fights their way out of the Cerberus facility has her grimacing at Wilson before killing him in cold blood.
    • Shepard gives one to an asari on Illium who's having commitment issues with her krogan ex-boyfriend. Asari and krogan both being long-living species, she's having second thoughts about staying with somebody she can't just simply outlive. When she brings up how much more convenient it would be to simply romance a human, which doesn't really entail a significant level of commitment according to her, Shepard (who might also be in a relationship with an asari him/herself) does not take the comment well.
  • Death World: You find out from Mordin that the genophage was designed to reduce the successful birthrate of the krogan to their pre-uplift levels. Considering that only one in a thousand krogan have successful births, and how tough krogan are, Tuchanka is pretty damn terrifying. It should be noted, though, that the decrepitude of their homeworld had nothing to do with the salarians introducing the genophage; it was a by-product of the krogan endlessly fighting each other over thousands of years.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The Arrival DLC mission is a race against time to blow up a mass relay that the Reapers will use to invade. Run out of time and you are treated to a nice little video that starts with Shepard's head on a pike and gets worse from there.
  • Defiant to the End: An Eclipse lieutenant in Samara's recruitment mission refuses to give the justicar her target's whereabouts. Also, you could consider this to be true for Shepard, if they're Killed Off for Real.
  • Degraded Boss: The first boss in the game is a YMIR Mech. You fight more of them in later missions, including two at once in Garrus's loyalty mission.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • The entire hanar race. There are zero conversations with them and only background references.
    • All your former teammates except for Garrus and Tali have been reduced to Quest Givers (Wrex and Liara) or One-Scene Wonder (the Virmire survivor). However, Liara does get Guest-Star Party Member status with "The Lair of the Shadow Broker".
  • Derelict Graveyard: The massive field of destroyed ships that surrounds the Collector Base. Doubles as an Asteroid Thicket.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The ending if everyone dies. Not only is Joker deeply depressed and Shepard dead, but the army of mecha-Cthulhu are on their way. Good luck, humanity.
  • Destination Defenestration: In Thane's recruitment mission, a Renegade interrupt allows Shepard to do this to an Eclipse mercenary. The sequence was used to demonstrate the interrupt system in pre-release demos. Also happens when you meet Samara.
    Merc: I've got nothing more to say to you.
    (Shepard pushes him out the window)
    Shepard: How about "goodbye"?
  • Destroy the Abusive Home: The goal of Jack's loyalty mission.
  • Developers' Foresight: See here.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the end, you fight a fledgling Reaper, on foot, with only two of your sidekicks.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Playing as an Infiltrator or a Vanguard can be difficult, and both have a sharp learning curve, but once you level up a bit and get the hang of them (as well as the Widow sniper rifle, as an Infiltrator), nothing can touch you, even on Insanity. And they are both VERY fun.
    • The Adept on anything higher than Veteran is usually reviled as useless. In reality, it's one of the best classes — if you can play it right, enemies die very fast.
    • The Tempest submachinegun. Packs a wallop, has lots of ammo, it's high rate of fire and recoil mean that you need to exercise proper trigger discipline to shoot anything at more than point blank range. If you fire a rapid succession of short, controlled bursts, though, it eats through most non bosses enemies in the game, even at long ranges, and even a few bosses too.
    • The Claymore shotgun. It has extremely high damage output, but only has one shot per clip and a relatively long reload time. When a Vanguard with Heavy Charge masters the melee reload animation cancel trick and gets very smart about their use of the charge ability, the Claymore becomes a veritable death machine.
  • Difficulty Spike: Any level involving the Collectors. The geth as well, but to a lesser extent. Their rifles will strip your shields just as fast as the Collectors', but do less damage against health and the geth themselves are weaker. It probably helps to know which squadmates to bring along when you can anticipate what you're about to face; for example, the Collectors' defenses are usually armors or barriers (both, in the case of Harbinger and the Praetorian), so biotics would be very useful against them. The Collectors also usually bring with them the nuisance that is Harbinger.
  • Disappointed by the Motive:
    • In Jack's loyalty mission, they find out that someone is trying to rebuild the experiment that tortured and exploited Jack and other kids like her. At the end, she discovers that the person doing it is another victim like she was, who is trying to make sense of it and justify what happened to them by saying it must have had a purpose. His plan is to restart the whole thing with other children until he finds what the original scientists were after. Jack is extremely pissed when she hears this, and the Player Character, Commander Shepard, is likewise angry that he'd let other kids go through that kind of nightmarish Hell for such a ridiculous reason.
    • In Jacob's loyalty mission, it's discovered that Jacob's father, Ronald Taylor, had ruled over what was essentially a rape camp while marooned on an island with toxic food that degenerates intelligence. At first, the plan was to ration out safe food to the essential staff that could fix the rescue beacon while the non-essentials survived on the toxic stuff until help arrived. However, as unrest amongst the crew grew, Taylor kept order by withholding food until his enemies went dumb. And he rewarded those loyal to him by "giving away" women that had become mindless, and kept several for himself as well. In the end, Taylor only sets off the beacon because the crew rebelled violently after they discovered the beacon had been fixed a long time ago, and that Taylor had kept this fact hidden to let his little kingdom continue until the very last of the food stores ran out. Jacob flat out calls it a "juvenile fantasy" when he finds out.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Archangel's Armor-Piercing Ammo ability can nearly double your firepower with their 70 percent bonus. If you level it up to four, your entire squad can make use of this ammo type.
    • If you're a Soldier with Adrenaline Rush, there's an unlisted 100 percent damage bonus. Massive damage? Oh yeah.
    • The Eviscerator shotgun and Locust sub-machine gun DLC weapons also count. Both can be acquired almost immediately and provide only slightly less damage than the Claymore and Tempest, respectively. Speaking of shotguns, the DLC Geth Plasma Shotgun definitely counts as well.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: A straight case with the colony, and an odd case coming from the way the two disk nature of the game works. You begin with the first disk, swap to the second disk mid-way through, and pop the first disk back in for the end. In other words, the Final Dungeon is literally on the first disk.
  • Discount Card: Shepard can get a discount from stores by convincing the shop keepers via Renegade or Paragon checks. In The Citadel's case, Shepard can get discounts there by giving the store an endorsement, saying it's their favorite store on The Citadel. Funnily enough, they can do it with ALL the stores on the Citadel. "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite (insert noun here) on the Citadel."
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Cerberus isn't a human supremacist group, they're a human survivalist group. That operates by treading upon other space-faring species whenever convenient. There's a difference there. Yep. It's not that they hate aliens, it's that they love humans! And they hate aliens.
  • Distress Call: Jacob's loyalty mission is triggered by one. Very frequently used to set up side quests.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Friend Zone Turian, found in Eternity on Illium, tries very hard to convince his quarian lady friend that she needs a guy who'll "treat her right". Unfortunately for him, she doesn't seem to be getting the hint.
  • Door of Doom: The Omega-4 Relay is essentially this.
  • Double Unlock: Used to an extent. Found an upgrade? Wonderful! Now head on back to the ship and spend hours strip-mining every nearby planet so that you can use it.
  • Do with Him as You Will: The 'neutral' ending of Jacob's loyalty mission.
  • Downer Beginning: About a minute into the game, the Normandy is crippled and has to be abandoned. XO Pressly is killed in an explosion. And then you die.
  • Downer Ending:
  • Downloadable Content: Quite a bit.
    • The Cerberus Network is an Electronic Arts Mass Effect themed proxy (free for new users, $15 USD otherwise) which features new equipment, clothes, a crew member (Zaeed, and an associated loyalty mission), and the Normandy Crash Site DLC. Later, the "Firewalker Pack", featuring a new hovertank called the Hammerhead and five associated missions, came out. Dragon Age: Origins owners also received special armor.
    • The first "premium" (non-free) DLC is "Kasumi - Stolen Memory", featuring a notorious space thief who is mentioned by a news announcement on Illium for being suspected of stealing some prototype thing.
    • The second non-free DLC is "Overlord", where Shepard is tasked with shutting down a rogue Cerberus VI. Overlord was well received.
    • Lair of the Shadow Broker, is the first "bridging" DLC, as it will affect Mass Effect 3. It is the first DLC internally marked as an "expansion pack". It was well received as well.
    • There were also three weapons packs, including goodies such as a geth shotgun that shoots energy spheres that form plasma on impact, a laser-sighted pistol, a burst-fire sniper rifle, a semiautomatic assault rifle, and pieces of armor.
    • With the exception of the plain weapon/armour packs and the appearance packs as well as the Arrival mission, the PS3 version contains all the DLCs, either pre-bundled, or with a code included in the box (though only new copies of the game will most likely be able to be used otherwise the Cerberus content will have to be purchased in the store as well).
    • Arrival is the second and last bridging DLC between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, as well as the last mission-based DLC that will be available for this game.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Joker has a comment regarding Samara's loyalty mission after you complete it. If, on said mission, you decided to kill Samara and recruit Morinth, it becomes this trope:
    Joker: I'm glad things worked out, Commander. I was worried you'd dump Samara for some crazy soul-sucker with a death fetish, all lithe and sexy and... never mind.
    • On Tuchanka, if you take Mordin with you when you talk to the krogan researcher Fortack, another case of this trope occurs. Note that part of Mordin's history before joining your squad was modifying the genophage:
    Mordin: Salarians created genophage... I've heard. Still trust them with medicine and agriculture?
    Fortack: Why not? What else can the salarians do to us? It's not like they can make us any more infertile... Wait, forget I said anything.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: Shepard undergoes this in the first scene of the game.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: In the Citadel docking bay is a Gunnery Chief giving a vitriol-laden physics lecture to his subordinates.
    Gunnery Sergeant: And that is why Sir Isaac Newton is the DEADLIEST-SON-OF-A-BITCH-IN-SPACE!!
    • Pay attention to the two names given to the servicemen, Chung and Burnside. It's a tip of the hat to Winchel Chung and Ken Burnside, author of Project Rho (the definitive website for realistic space mechanics) and main brains behind Ad Astra Games' Attack Vector: Tactical (the only miniature game that does 3D without killing your brain), respectively.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ronald Taylor, if you choose the Renegade path of Jacob's loyalty mission.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: All party or Normandy crew members that die during the Suicide Mission are killed off like this. Since the mission's mortality rate can be ludicrously high, this was most likely for pacing reasons. Do you really want to watch two-minute death scenes every other minute during the final battle?
  • Drunk with Power: What led to Ronald Taylor's Moral Event Horizon.
  • Dummied Out: A bunch. Fairly comprehensive compilations of all the dummied out stuff can be found here and here. Some particularly notable examples:
    • The post-Horizon squadmates—Samara, Tali, Thane, and Legion—have unique pieces of dialogue that were rendered inaccessible by the decision to split the party recruitment into two separate phases, in order to fit the game onto two discs. It's possible to modify your save game to get them in your party earlier, where they'll have normal lines almost everywhere. (The one exception is Horizon itself; only Tali has lines there.)
    • Like in Mass Effect, same-sex romance options were apparently planned and even partially voiced and scripted, but dummied out in the final version. See also Bury Your Gays and Hide Your Lesbians.
    • The newly introduced heat sink system was initially implemented as a more logical hybrid system in which the heat sinks cool down and "fill up" again, if not ejected. Reportedly playtesters didn't like it, so the cooldown was dummied out. Editing some values in the game's internal .ini file allows re-enabling the hybrid system at the risk of unbalancing some guns that were balanced for the new system.
    • The PS3 version of the game has a few things dummied out, namely that it will always be Liara who is seen evacuating people from the Normandy at the start of the game, as "Mass Effect: Genesis" (the interactive recap of the first game) takes place following the title card, so the game has no way of knowing if Kaidan or Ashley will be alive in the game. (In the PC and 360 versions, Liara will only be seen in the opening cutscene if she was romanced in the first game.) Even if a save file is imported from the PSN release of the first game, Liara is still the only one seen.
    • There was originally supposed to be a loyalty conflict between Mordin and Grunt, similar to the ones between Jack and Miranda and Tali and Legion.
    • Mordin was originally a biotic, and he would have been a "good" choice as the biotic specialist during the suicide mission.
    • There are even more death scenes during the trip through the Omega-4 relay, also dummied out thanks to the aforementioned decision to split the game.
    • The Paragon version of Conrad's sidequest was accidentally dummied out thanks to a save import error. This one is referenced in Mass Effect 3; Conrad apologizes for claiming that you put a gun to his head when you didn't.
    • The DLC Firewalker side missions had a lot of interesting logs cut out; most notably, the Dr. Cayce from Firewalker was supposed to be revealed to be Dr. Manuel, the rambling scientist on Eden Prime in the first game.
  • Dwindling Party: What happens if you don't handle the suicide mission correctly. Can occur within a few scenes of you coming out the other side of the Omega-4 relay if you didn't upgrade the Normandy.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Inverted with the morality checks. The better you play the morality game (specifically, the more consistent you are with making Paragon or Renegade choices), the easier it gets.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Nearly everyone Shepard recruits has personal issues of one sort or another. Helping them sort it out by doing loyalty missions is one of the core gameplay mechanics.
    Shepard: So you're crazy, so what? That's practically stamped on the boarding pass for this mission.
  • Dyson Sphere: The 'true geth' have been working on a "mega-structure" comparable to one for close to three centuries. When it's complete, every geth program will be able to run in unison, boosting their intelligence to incalculable levels.

  • Eager Rookie: You can stop the very young, very obviously inexperienced boy from signing up as a mercenary to fight Archangel. If you do, he'll eventually send you an email and thank you for saving his life.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Getting the worst ending (where everyone, including Shepard, dies) is surprisingly difficult. Even a new player who has no idea what they're doing is bound to have at least a few squadmates survive the suicide mission. It's difficult to kill everyone accidentally, and doing it deliberately requires knowledge of how the survival mechanic in the final mission works. If you have the two DLC that add more party members (one of whom is actually the optimal choice for one of the final gauntlet challenges), then getting the worst possible ending is functionally impossible, because so many people will survive to the end challenge that they may get either Grunt or Zaeed out anyway.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It is possible to get everybody out of the Suicide Mission alive, but you'll have to work for it.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In the Arrival DLC, literally. Shepard destroys a mass relay, which causes a supernova-sized explosion that wipes out the entire star system it's in.
  • Electric Instant Gratification: The subject of... nerve stimulation systems... comes up a couple of times. Mentioned by Tali offhandedly during her romance path; also mentioned by the Valley Girl Quarian, who was apparently quite willing to demonstrate its use in public, until she and her turian friend suddenly notice you eavesdropping.
    Quarian: Here, let me fire it up... Uh, excuse me, human? Private conversation? Ugh.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Played mostly straight. Enemies have several types of defenses: health, armor, kinetic shields and biotic barriers. There are various weapons, ammo types and abilities that are more (or less) effective against various types of defenses. Enemies may also be organic or synthetic, certain abilities having additional effects if used against the "correct" type of enemy.
  • Elite Tweak:
    • Almost every class-specific power. Adrenaline Rush shifts you into bullet time and gives a huge damage bonus. Tactical Cloak makes you invisible and gives you a damage bonus. Singularity is great for crowd control and it's a black hole you can summon out of thin air. And Charge, if you know how to use it wisely, sets up enemies for perfect killshots, gives you a nice damage bonus, and it looks mother-feckin' awesome.
    • The bonus powers, which you unlock for completing ally loyalty missions. Almost all of them are useful and they can enable interesting strategies; for example, you could give your fragile Adept Barrier, Fortification or Geth Shield Boost to let them soak up plenty of damage, or give your Soldier Slam, enabling you to finish off enemies with ease. You can even give your Engineer Dominate, letting you control both organic and synthetic enemies!

  • Empty Room Until the Trap: The Collector ship mission. The first half of the mission is exploring the ship and its conveniently-placed chest-high walls with no enemies to speak of. Then you're ambushed by Collectors as you try to leave. To their credit, your squadmates will point out how weird it is... moments before the trap is sprung.
  • Enemy Civil War: The original geth vs the Always Chaotic Evil heretic geth.
  • Energy Weapon:
    • The Collector Particle Beam is a powerful hitscan heavy weapon that quickly eats through barriers, shields and health. Armor, less so, but not so much that it's less useful. Strictly speaking, it's not a laser. The codex explains that the Collector Particle Beam weapon uses a coherent stream of radiation (though not what type) to achieve its devastating effects.
    • GARDIAN lasers are a more literal example of this trope. They're one of the most powerful and accurate weapons in the verse (the accuracy comes because they avert the 'lasers move slower than light' part of Frickin' Laser Beams), but have relatively short range because of collimationnote . Their use beyond point defense is restricted to fighter combat and close-in "knife fights" between smaller capital ships.
    • The Collectors seem to love this trope; a giant particle beam is the only weapon their cruiser uses, and the Oculus drones guarding the Omega-4 Relay nearly tear the Normandy apart with their lasers.
    • If you're not a tightwad and upgrade your ship, the turian-made Thanix Cannon — reverse-engineered from Sovereign — more or less fires a beam of molten metal.
  • Epic Fail: It is possible to get the worst ending (where everyone, including Shepard, diesnote ) but it requires knowledge of how the survival mechanic in the final mission works.
  • Epic Launch Sequence: The newly christened Normandy SR2 is given a good sendoff.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil:
    • Split across three different merc bands, every major race in the galaxy is represented. Eclipse, which favors finesse, speed and technology uses asari, salarians and a few humans, with a few mechs thrown in. The Blood Pack uses tough-as-nails but rock-stupid regenerating species like vorcha and krogan. The Blue Suns like to play the middle ground with humans, turians and batarians.
    • People from Cerberus, a human supremacist organization, are surprisingly okay with having almost half your squad members be aliens. At least, they're less xenophobic than the crew of the original Normandy. Justified with Paragon shepherd, since Cerberus picked it's "pro-human not anti-alien" personnel to avoid alienating Shepherd and/or chasing off useful squad members.
  • Escape Pod: Used when the Collectors destroy the SR-1 Normandy.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In the Arrival DLC, the Project members genuinely care for each other despite being indoctrinated and can occasionally be heard vowing revenge against Shepard when they kill their friends.
    "No! Williams! We're too late!"
  • Even the Loving Hero Has Hated Ones: Dr. Gavin Archer tortured his autistic brother in the name of a scientific experiment. There is a Paragon option that allows Shepard to Pistol Whip Dr. Archer in the face and threatens to kill him if he ever harms his brother again.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer: A necessary addition as the Bottomless Magazines of the first game have been removed and shields have been de-powered.
  • Everyone Is A Xenophile: A good chunk of the romance options are aliens (Tali, Garrus and Thane, as opposed to the human love interests Miranda, Jack and Jacob). Apparently aliens really do want Shepard to teach them about this Earth thing called "love." This may be a Call-Back to a comment Shepard can make in the first game to Alenko and Williams when they talk about the Council's reticence towards humans.
    Kaidan Alenko: They probably just want to keep everything running. It has to be hard keeping all these cultures working together.
    Ashley Williams: Or maybe they just don't like humans.
    Commander Shepard: Why not? We've got oceans, beautiful women, this emotion called love. According to the old vids, we have everything they want.
  • Everything Makes a Mushroom: The Cain is explicitly said not to be nuclear, but its explosion is sufficient for making a mushroom cloud anyway. Thus, it's nicknamed the "nuke gun" even by those who know better in-setting. The YMIR mech also makes a mushroom if taken out via headshot.
  • Evil Is Sterile:
    • Mordin posits that the Reapers have no capacity for creativity, as evidenced by the fact that the creatures under their thrall are never seen creating anything.
    • Morinth, who's easily the most evil squad member you can recruit, carries a rare genetic defect that makes her kill her mates during sex. It also makes her sterile, a fact she's either ignorant of or willfully chooses to ignore.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Harbinger speaks with a very sinister (or hilarious) sounding deep voice. In the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, the Shadow Broker also has a rather deep voice, as do his mooks who seem to use voice modulators.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At:
    • Renegade Shepard gets one of those on the speaker of clan Weyrloc, interrupting his speech with a shot in a gas line. When he taunts Shepard with "having missed him", Shepard detonates the gas with the next shot, setting the annoyingly talkative krogan on fire.
    • Zaeed does the same to Vido during his loyalty mission, igniting the entire industrial complex in a massive fire. Unfortunately, he not only fails to injure his target, but also puts the factory workers in danger.
  • Exact Words: One of your first missions after getting the SR-2 Normandy is "Recruit the Krogan". Reading the dossier, and playing through the mission, clearly indicates that the krogan being referred to is Okeer. After the mission, you do get to recruit a krogan... just not Okeer, however, as he dies before the end of the mission; but his pet project, a tank-bred krogan.
  • Explosive Decompression: Averted. In fact, the development team seemed just a little too eager to avert it.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Probably in an homage to Star Trek, all instruments aboard a starship, as well as most gadgets planetside, appear to be Made of Explodium. It starts right in the prologue when the Normandy suffers a glancing blow from the Collector cruiser's beam cannon and most everything in the cockpit (which was far away from the impact point) spontaneously combusts. It even kills a Red Shirt just to hammer the point home. A lot of other examples abound throughout the rest of the game.
  • Explosive Stupidity: Enemies with rocket launchers are prone to this; if you use the Attack Drone ability on them, they will repeatedly injure themselves with their own munitions trying to kill it.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Certain outfits for your characters, especially Jack, during the derelict Reaper mission. Apparently, the only character unable to survive hard vacuum with just a facemask and kinetic barrier is Shepard.
  • Expositron 9000: EDI.
  • Expy: The Human Reaper looks like a giant Terminator, or perhaps a Snatcher, due to its method of construction as well as where it keeps its big beam weapon.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: "Ah, yes, 'Reapers'..." If you talk to Avina and try explaining that Sovereign attacked the Citadel, not the geth, this is lampshaded by your squadmates, hilariously so by Kasumi:
    Kasumi: They're really selling the "geth did it" message. I bet you can't even say "Reapers" without inciting a panic. Reapers!
  • Everybody Lives: On the flip side of everyone dying during the suicide mission, there's an achievement getting the entire team out in one piece. You're going to have to invest a lot of time and effort to do so, however.
  • Eye Beams: The main weapon of the Praetorians is a massive set of particle beams they blast out of their eyes.
  • Faceless Goons: The ever-present Blue Suns, Eclipse and Blood Pack mercenaries.
  • Faction Calculus: The three main merc groups fall into this:
    • The Eclipse mercs are Subversive, with their human, salarian,and asari troops focusing on Tech and Biotic powers, as well as mechs.
    • The Blood Pack mercs are Powerhouses, with their krogan and vorcha troops focusing on brute force, and utilizing varren as attack dogs.
    • The Blue Suns mercs are Balanced, with their human, turian, and batarian troops focusing on high-end equipment to give themselves superior armor, shields, and weapons, as well as occasionally using mechs.
  • Failed a Spot Check: On talking to the C-Sec Customs officer with Legion in your party: "...Geth do not intentionally infiltrate."
    • There's also a side mission involving the same customs officer, where two asari have been grounded and barred from leaving the Citadel on suspicion of being geth infiltrators. Shepard can either give them forged IDs to allow them to bypass security, or confront the customs officer and convince her that they're not geth.
    Shepard: The lack of flashlight heads is kind of a dead giveaway.
    • In the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, during a high-speed car chase on Illium, Shepard asks Liara what kind of weaponry they have, leading Liara to remind them that they are in a taxi, and it has a fare meter.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: During the Arrival DLC quest. It's hard to fight off the waves of mercenaries as Object Rho is powering up and if you lose, it takes you to the next sequence where you break out of a holding cell but even if you fend off all the mercs, you'll be taken out by Object Rho with the same outcome. At least you unlock an achievement if you survive all the mercs.
  • Fanservice: A surprisingly large number of your squad members fall into this, unlike in the first game where everyone wears full suits of armor. A few examples: Miranda's form-fitting Cerberus uniform (or Jacob's, for the ladies — his six-pack abs are visible even when he's wearing a black jumpsuit); Jack wearing nothing above the waist but a few well-placed belts; among many, many others. Ironically, the romance scenes were toned down; the most overtly sexual image from the romance scenes is probably the shot of Miranda's chest, which is still covered by a bra.
    Enyala: (talking to Miranda) I was just waiting for you to finish getting dressed. Or does Cerberus really let you whore around in that outfit?
  • Fantastic Racism: In spades. All the sentient species in the galaxy seem to hold some degree of resentment for each other. The krogan are generally hostile to other species, and also aren't very well liked by everyone else, since their brute nature and the whole deal with the Krogan Rebellions has earned them a poor reputation. The quarians used to be respected, but their reputation in the galactic community suffered very badly because of the whole deal with the geth, which led to them losing their embassy on the Citadel and other species looking down on them and labeling them all as scum. Nobody likes the vorcha because of their aggression, reputation as troublemakers and vermin, and lesser intelligence. Humans are not too popular with a lot of people of other species, either, and in turn, a lot of humans seem prejudiced towards all aliens.
    • Walk around Illium for a few minutes and listen to the various asari NPCs. Most seem to hate purebloods, but conversely, they also seem to constantly bring up another person's alien parentage at the drop of a hat, often in a derogatory manner.
    • Thane's loyalty mission has you tracking a turian politician who's campaigning on an anti-human platform and is being targeted by Thane's son Kolyat. You can even kill him at the end of the mission.
    • All species except the asari note  seem to have some level of fear and prejudice of the biotic members of their population. The militaries of species' official states are usually more accepting of biotics, however.
    • Good luck trying to convince the average quarian that geth aren't Always Chaotic Evil. Most of them do not want to hear it. Somewhat justifiable, though, in that they're responsible for the geth's existence in the first place, and the havoc they've wrought on the galaxy is, by extension, the quarians' fault.
    • On Illium you can encounter an asari whose bondmate died during the Morning War, and whose daughters both died on the Citadel when the geth attacked. This his has subsequently turned her into an alien-hater who blames all the wrongs and evils in the galaxy on non-asari species. Confronting her with her hatreds and how this goes against what her bondmate and children would have wanted hits her so profoundly that she actually collapses to the floor in grief and shock.
  • Feminist Fantasy: The franchise does a great job with its female characters, which is one of the reasons why the game has such a large Estrogen Brigade. Since the first game, every squad in the series has had a roughly 1:1 gender distribution, with women warriors potentially outnumbering the men if you play as female or save Ashley on Virmire. Even the more sexualized characters, like Miranda and Samara, are far more than eye candy and receive plenty of Character Development throughout the series that turns them into, well, people rather than objects. Mass Effect also shows plenty of women as soldiers, scientists, and other strong individuals among the N.P.C.s and background characters. The real icon of the feminist influence in Mass Effect though Fem!Shep, who manages to surpass being a typical Purely Aesthetic Gender RPG protagonist due to Jennifer Hale's extremely well done voice performance for the character and BioWare's acknowledgement and endorsement of female Shepard as a strong female protagonist.
  • Fictional Disability: Ardat-Yakshi is a genetic condition that causes the Asari's inherent mental abilities to kill anyone they mate with. Diagnosed Asari are either Locked Away in a Monastery or executed because there is no cure for the condition, Ardat-Yakshi quickly get addicted to the sensation of killing their mates, and the worst-case scenario for an uncontrolled Ardat-Yakshi is a Serial Killer who roams the galaxy gleefully seducing and murdering everyone she can.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning:
    • Fire: Incinerate, Incendiary Ammo, and the DLC Firestorm heavy weapon.
    • Ice: Cryo Blast, Cryo Ammo, and the Avalanche heavy weapon.
    • Lightning: Overload, Disruptor Ammo, and the DLC Arc Projector heavy weapon.
  • Firing One-Handed: Shepard and company frequently wield pistols or submachine guns one-handed in cutscenes.
    • In the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, the Shadow Broker himself, a massive creature called a yahg, fights you while holding a Revenant one-handed.
  • Fission Mailed: You're not intended to beat Object Rho in the Arrival DLC. The best you can do is hold off waves of indoctinated security til Rho itself takes you out. Being "killed" only advances the story.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: All warships pack one as their main weapon, as the direction of travel is typically the longest dimension of the vessel, and mass accelerator cannons only get more powerful the longer they are. Dreadnoughts have the most powerful such guns, and can exert multiple times the energy released in the Hiroshima blast into a shot. Every few seconds. "That means Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space!"
  • Flamethrower Backfire: Flamethrower-wielding enemies will explode if hit with the correct power (Overload or Incinerate) or their fuel-tanks are shot. This can be used tactically by a player to inflict damage on other enemies.
  • Flexibility Equals Sex Ability: Garrus reminisces about his military days, recalling getting into an argument with a female turian on his ship and settling it with a sparring match. "I had reach, she had flexibility." The sparring match turned into a hookup later, where his reach and her flexibility were equally useful. At this point, Female Shepard has the option to proposition Garrus herself, citing her own flexibility, which is the start of Garrus's Relationship Upgrade.
  • Flipping the Table: A non-comedic example in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, when the huge alien that is the Shadow Broker and towering over the biggest krogans throws his entire metal desk at Shepard at the beginning of the fight, after Liara slams on Berserk Button.
  • Flushing-Edge Interactivity: Go to the wrong restroom, however, and the on-board AI will get snooty with you.
  • Foreboding Architecture: Oh look, there's a big, open room. With lots and lots of cover. Why aren't you behind some yet?!
    • You can tell with almost 100% certainty when there is going to be a fight: there are waist-high walls scattered around the place.
    • Subverted in the Collector cruiser. Lots of space, lots of bad guys. It gets very creepy very quickly. Don't worry, it changes.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mordin's loyalty mission is basically a warm-up for the final Big Important Paragon-Or-Renegade choice — whether or not it's worth using technology built with the blood of innocents. Ironically, the Paragon/Renegade choice is reversed in both examples. A Paragon thinks the genophage should be cured at all costs, even at the risk of a new Krogan Rebellion, so they keep the data, while a Renegade thinks it must not be cured to avoid that risk, so it needs to be destroyed. As for the final mission, a Paragon believes that the technology developed at the cost of millions of lives is an abomination, while a Renegade thinks the advantage gained from it is worth the risk. So there are other factors that affect the decision as well.
    • A minor one that's very easy one to miss, especially since it's optional dialogue, but it hints at how Archangel ended up cornered with his entire team dead. If Shepard presses Eclipse's leader for details about Archangel's past and identity, Jaroth says that even Archangel's team didn't know that. How would Jaroth have any idea what Garrus's team did or didn't know? Simple: Sidonis told him.
      • On the same mission, something that hints at Archangel's true identity: Although he will shoot you if you hang around in the open too long, instantly taking down your shields, he will never take another shot at you until your shields regenerate. He even lampshades this later, if you mention it.
    • Many more have turned up now that Mass Effect 3 is out. For example, in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, Thane's dossier mentions that recovery from major injuries is exceptionally difficult due to his Kepral's Syndrome, and a serious enough wound will kill him. If he survives the suicide mission, this is exactly what happens. Thane survives the fight with Kai Leng, and then dies from his injuries.
      • Similarly, Tali mentions that in order for a quarian of her generation to watch a sunset without a mask on, the quarians would have to take back their homeworld. If you take back the quarian homeworld, that's the first thing Tali does.
    • A little and more subtle is the fact that the Normandy SR-2 crew doesn't wear combat gear. This means that the ship is under a lot more danger if it's boarded and the party isn't there. This happens.
    • During the Arrival DLC mission, a log made by Dr. Kenson after she'd already been heavily indoctrinated has her coming to the ludicrous conclusion that they simply don't know what the Reapers want, and it's foolish to assume they mean doom for everyone since life goes on even though they've been here before. Come Mass Effect 3, she was closer to being right than anyone realized.
    • Also during Arrival, there are some blink-and-you'll miss it clues that Kenson and her team are already indoctrinated. like a batarian security log that reports the prisoners were raving incoherently, and one that's very easy to miss is a prison cell with a blood stain on the floor and body next to it. And up on the wall is a bloody human handprint and a drawing of a Reaper in blood.
    • The Boss Fight of the Shadow Broker DLC - you figure out pretty quick that the Broker can't be defeated conventionally with bullets, biotics or tech attacks. You need Liara's help to figure out how to use the Broker's own technology against him to take him down. If only we knew that this is how the entire third game plays out with a different enemy.
    • The Tali Legion loyalty fight - a fight where both sides are technically right, and getting them to reconcile requires a very high bar to pass. Sounds a lot like a certain dilemma you will face in 3.
    • Zaeed's mission gives you another reminder that sometimes the choice is between saving innocent lives at the cost of letting the Big Bad pull a Karma Houdini or nailing that Big Bad but sacrificing innocents in the process. Come Mass Effect 3 and you are stuck making a similar choice with the Reapers. Destroy but sacrifice EDI, the Geth, and whatever other artificial intelligences that are out there, or Synthesis which saves them all but let's the Reapers get off scot free. Well, there's always Control, where the Reapers become your slaves.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted. The squadmate who died on Virmire will be referenced to a lot and can be a touchy subject for Shepard. Even Jenkins, the Red Shirt who died 15 minutes into the first game, gets a mention. Furthermore, a Side Quest with Dr. Chakwas gives you the opportunity to toast to the memory of all your fallen crew members up to that point.
    • Played straight if you have the Sole Survivor background and did the mission that revealed Cerberus's involvement in the Akuze disaster in the first game. Even when Toombs emails you with a What the Hell, Hero? after finding out you're with Cerberus, it has no effect on the game whatsoever.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: Four defense types, health, armor, shields and barriers. Weapons deal bonus damage to specific defenses in a mostly random fashion; most tech and biotic abilities are severely restricted, forcing you to bring along team members that make up for your weaknesses. Eventually you inevitably end up with a weapons guy, an engineer and a biotic in your squad and ignore everyone else.
  • 419 Scam: Shepard gets at least two different versions in their email during the game, along with an adaptation of the popular Christian inspirational piece "Footprints in the Sand", featuring a drell and the hanar Enkindlers.
  • Freeze Ray: The very appropriately named Avalanche heavy weapon and the Cryo Blast tech power.
  • Freudian Threat: During an interrogation scene in Thane's loyalty mission, Shepard can choose to rough up the suspect and wrap things up like so:
    Kelham: Are we done here? Because I got people to see.
    Shepard: I'm done being patient. Give me a name, or I cut your balls off and sell them to a krogan.
  • Freudian Trio: The game rather blatantly sets up Shepard, Miranda, and Jacob to be this, with Shepard serving as The Kirk, Miranda as The Spock, and Jacob as The McCoy.
  • From Bad to Worse: The ending shows the Reapers mobilizing to attack. What's more, every single one of those giant mech ships has a personal vendetta against you. Specifically.
  • Funny Background Event: Asking Conrad Verner about his N7 armor will cause him to mention how supportive his wife was of all his expenses...including his last shuttle offworld. Cue a facepalm from the bartender behind him.
  • Future Music: Heard in the nightclubs and bars. Mass Effect 2 also uses SimCity 4 music in several shops on the Citadel. A lot of it was recycled.
    • One track was actually picked up from SSX 3, but you can't really tell.
    • Another example is the Afterlife Club on Omega. The main floor music was taken from Need for Speed 4.
    • One of the songs that can play in the Citadel is menu music from a cancelled EA soccer game; the track is called Dark Star on the Soundtrack.
    • In a weird contrast, most of the game's music sounds less futuristic as compared to that of the first game. The latter's score had a more synthesizer-heavy sound, whereas this game has more traditional orchestral music, with some sparse synthesizer melodies mixed in.
  • Futuristic Superhighway: Illium features a three-dimensional web of air routes for its (many, many) Flying Cars. One part of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC has you hurtling through these as part of a car chase.

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