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  • Nerf:
    • A mild case. In the first game, biotics are pretty much a Game-Breaker. Now, save for Stasis, biotics like Pull and Throw only work on enemies with no protection, balancing it out. Warp and Reave are both effective against biotic barriers and armor, but not shields, which are the most common form of protection by a wide margin. In addition, both have a longer travel time, making them useless against enemies in cover (Shepard, however, is able to curve their biotics around cover). The most significant nerf is probably the unification of cooldowns for all abilities of a character; whereas in the first game, you could Lift and Throw an opponent to juggle them in the air, in this game, you need another character to attempt something similar. This was done probably so the player can learn to use different characters' abilities in conjunction with one another — there's an achievement, in fact, for doing this enough times.
    • Weapons now using thermal clips is this. In the first game, with the appropriate upgrades (Frictionless Materials being a key one), weapons could fire endlessly without overheating, making them overpowered. While the usage of thermal clips lore-wise is very weird (given that the technology just suddenly appeared in the two years between Mass Effect 1 and 2 and utterly superseded all the old-style weapons galaxy-wide, to the point no weapons can be found that don't use thermal clips in some respect), it nevertheless forces a "reloading" mechanic into gameplay and balances out the available weapons.
  • Neuro-Vault: 'Grayboxes', which are basically implanted computers, allow memories to be stored in them as well as enabling perfect recall. Kasumi's loyalty mission (from the Downloadable Content) is to retrieve one of these, containing her ex-partner's memories of their time together... plus some sort of giant secret about the Alliance. Mass Effect 3 reveals what that secret is: The Alliance carried out a black ops raid on a batarian outpost because the batarians discovered Reaper tech. If the batarian society at large found out about this they'd go to war with the Alliance; that's why Keiji told Kasumi to destroy that information along with the memories of him.
  • Never Needs Sharpening:
    • The Mattock assault rifle is semi-auto only. The manufacturer turns this into a feature by saying it limits wasted shots.
    • The Thermal Clip reload system is presented this way, saying that disposable heat sinks can be discarded and replaced quicker than it takes to let the weapon cool normally. The less said about the potential dangers of a very hot heat sink being ejected towards allies or flammable objects, the better.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • Except for being a badass, Legion is nothing like the trailers described him. The trailers make it seem like he's tracking Shepard to snipe them from far away. In actuality, he doesn't even show up until the start of the last act, which triggers the events leading to the climax of the game. And instead of being a Cold Sniper going to pop your head off... he's a Cold Sniper popping enemy heads off.
    • They also tended to make the destruction of the first ''Normandy'' seem like a pivotal act or show stopper. It's certainly show-stopping, but it happens during the opening cutscene.
    • You know that really awesome "Fight For the Lost" speech? Yeah, that's not actually in the game.
    • Grunt was revealed in the Omega trailer, heavily implying that he would be recruited or at least important there. In the main game, there is only one Omega-related Grunt event. It happens during Archangel's recruitment mission. If Grunt is in your party when you speak to Garm before the actual raid on Archangel, Garm will question why a "young one" like Grunt is following Shepard, and Grunt will insist that Shepard is a good leader. Garm will dismiss this, believing Grunt could learn more about striking fear into enemies in the Blood Pack, and demonstrates this by shooting his vorcha lackey in the head.
  • New Game+: With some exceptions, carried over characters will be exactly as strong as a newly created one, which is to say, not at allnote . A level-60 character carried over from the first game, however, will start at level 5 and get a whole slew of other bonuses as well. Additionally, a rich character carried over from the first game will start off the second game rich. You can start a new game with a Mass Effect 2 character. You keep your levels and your abilities but not your squadmates (though their levels are tied to yours, and they still have the same number of stat points available to distribute) or your upgrades. You do have to mine for those again. More annoyingly, you lose all your morality points, making certain Paragon or Renegade choices harder to attain than if you imported an ME1 character.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: The game places you in the hands of Cerberus, a human supremacist organization which owns multiple deep-space habitats, funds multibillion-dollar resurrection projects, builds bleeding-edge spacecraft, and decks its people out in spiffy uniforms. The Citadel Council calls them terrorists.They take good care of you, and all they want in return is for you to give humanity galactic supremacy. After the abuse you'll take from the Council, you might just give it to them. Subverted in that, though they have absurd amounts of capital, EDI will eventually tell you that there are approximately 150 Cerberus operatives organized into three cells according to EDI, something that is quite believable given how terrorist groups organize in the real world. Case in point, the "Black Hand"/Unity or Death, which had less than 400 members total and even fewer in the inner circle, but who caused World War I. They're basically the IRA IN SPACE!.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • On the second lava planet in the Firewalker DLC, you activate a panel that brings an abandoned base's generators online... which disturbs the lava flow to the point that the whole region starts to erupt.
    • The ending of the Arrival DLC. BIG TIME. Sure, you stopped the imminent Reaper invasion by literally minutes, but at the cost of 300,000 batarian lives. And they know you're to blame. As it turns out, Shepard gets to spend the time between the end of Mass Effect 2 and the start out of duty, not because they're being tried for what they did, but because if Shepard wasn't, the batarians would go to war with the Alliance. On top of that, you just blew up a Mass Relay!
    • To a lesser extent, after the Purgatory mission, Shepard receives an email from one of the serial killers that got free as a side effect of the whole freeing Jack-thing.
    • Near the end of Zaeed's loyalty mission, you're given the choice to save a bunch of factory workers or continue the mission as planned. If you follow Zaeed's advice you gain his loyalty, but at the cost of many innocent lives. If you decide to be the good guy, you fail to gain Zaeed's loyalty (which can be won back, but you're gonna need a hell of a lot of Paragon or Renegade points to do it). If you waited until after the suicide mission (and have at least two surviving squadmates other than Zaeed), a Paragon Shepard can also just leave him to die.
    • Shepard spends the entire game working with Cerberus to gain access to the Collector Base, which is stuffed to the gills with Reaper tech. Fast forward to the next game, in which Cerberus has used that tech to transform itself (in the most horrific manner imaginable) from an organization of ~200 people into a galaxy-spanning army...which they are now using to slaughter civilians and undermine the fight against the Reapers. This trope especially comes into play if Shepard chooses to keep the Collector Base instead of blowing it up. The Illusive Man gets his grubby paws on the Reaper tech either way, but in the latter case, he at least has to work for it.
  • Nine out of Ten Doctors Agree: Parodied with the increasingly unsettling Tupari vending machine on the Citadel. "Nine out of 10 Tupari drinkers recommend Tupari to their friends! The last one is on my list."
  • Nintendo Hard: Expect to reload a lot if you play on Insanity difficulty. Ordinary gunfights that you blew through in Normal difficulty suddenly become lengthy, tactic-driven encounters where the slightest mistake will get you killed.
    • Insanity on a new level 1 character tends to go past Nintendo Hard into Probing Uranus Hard, though not for any fault of the game itself. Rather, lacking any powers or upgrades means that taking down even one foe can use up all of one's ammunition. Ironically, though, this also means that as you progress through the game, Insanity gets easier.
    • When you fight mercs on Insanity, it's challenging but not too bad. Any place where you fight Collectors or products of the Reapers will have you crying like a little baby.
    • This inverts if you're playing as an Adept. You can munch through the Collectors' biotic barriers like they're toffee, whereas the mercs' shields are like kryptonite. Blazing through the Collectors probably sounds appealing — but the cost? Every other character in the game becomes impenetrable, and you're expected to cut through them with a pistol and a sub-machine gun. Good luck! However, if you are playing with a bonus talent from the start, take Energy Drain (Tali's Loyalty power) so you can cut some slack on your tech-oriented squadmates.
    • Possibly the most frustrating battle on Insanity (and most other difficulties) is the final "room" on Horizon, where you have to deal with a pair of Scions. With a couple waves of Husks for fun. If you get hit by both Scions at the same time, you're dead. If both are after you and one of them clips you, the other one WILL hit you too. And you will be dead. Hell, if one hits you with two Shock Waves in a row, you're dead. All while you're scrambling back and forth trying to avoid the Husks coming at you from both sides. It's no wonder many players exploit the fact that those Scions won't attack until you enter the room, but they can still be seen (and thus sniped to death) if the player positions themselves correctly. There is also possibility of exploiting the room architecture to almost completely eliminate the danger Husks pose to Shepard by climbing on one of the large crates lying in the area, which makes the fight significantly easier.
    • The derelict Reaper is basically the same one-two combo of Scions and Husks, but given that you'll be a higher level and can generally see the Scions coming from further away it's usually not QUITE as bad. Still vastly more difficult than anything else the game throws at you which doesn't involve both Husks and Scions at the same time. But it'll be okay. You've been getting all your upgrades, right?
      • Having the Widow sniper rifle by this point makes this a whole lot easier as well, with each shot being capable of taking out up to a fourth of a Scion's armor, minimizing the need to resort to heavy weaponry.
    • The usually short side mission where you have to defend an injured quarian from a pack of varren as your shuttle moves in to pick-up? On Insanity it can effectively become That One Mission. If the quarian dies, it's a Non Standard Game Over. Instead of placing your squadmates in cover, you're better off using them as obstacles to keep the varren from getting to the quarian, since at least the varren mostly ignore your squadmates.
    • Let's take a moment to talk about the Collector trap on Insanity. Whoever thought that it would be fun to stick you on an isolated platform with virtually no cover while Scions, Collectors, and the ever-taunting Harbinger beat you mercilessly and repeatedly into the ground needs to be kicked in the beanbag. Due to the arrangement of the platforms in this room, your squadmates will die so often and so easily that you will come to despise them along with the Illusive Man, who lead you into the trap to begin with.
  • No Endor Holocaust:
    • Soundly averted. Sovereign's death and subsequent explosion did significant damage to the Citadel, adding to the thousands of casualties from the geth attack. Anderson notes that even with the station's army of engineers and the Keepers, full recovery will take at least five years. It's been two already.
    • Averted in the Arrival DLC. The destruction of the Alpha Relay wipes out an entire system, killing over 300,000 batarians — and Shepard had to spend the time between the second and third game out of sight as a result, lest the batarians go to war with the Alliance.
  • No Ontological Inertia: A minor example. Flashbang grenades will fizzle out in a harmless puff of smoke if you kill the mook that threw them before they detonate.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Very late in the main game, Joker being impaled by a Collector during the ambush results in one of these.
    • Much earlier, during Archangel's recruitment mission, you can side with the mercs hunting him down and kill him...and be rewarded with this.
    • You also "enjoy" one by getting it on with Morinth, provided you ignore the game's MANY warnings against doing so.
    • Any ending where Shepard does not survive the suicide mission counts, as that save cannot be imported to the sequel.
    • If you do not unlock the valves for your chosen Tech expert during the Suicide Mission, it will lead to an abrupt Game Over.
    • The ending of the Overlord DLC, if you fail to stop the rogue VI from uploading itself to the Normandy, you are treated to a scene where it takes over EDI, presumably setting off a technological apocalypse. Or at the very least makes the Normandy unusable.
    • During Arrival DLC if the ever-present timer of Reaper Apocalypse actually runs out, you get treated to a cutscene of the Reapers harvesting the galaxy, including major characters. Afterwards, you get a Critical Mission Failure.
    • Also during Arrival, if you waste too much time while escaping from the asteroid, a cutscene will play showing the collision with the Alpha Relay, presumably expunging Shepard and their crew.
  • Non Standard Skill Learning: Squad members' unique loyalty powers can be learned by Shepard, too, but only after completing their personal loyalty missions (and you can only have one of them at a time).
  • No One Could Survive That!: In Freedom's Progress, Prazza leads a company of quarian marines against a YMIR heavy mech. The YMIR promptly curbstomps them. Jacob even utters this trope almost verbatim.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: There is literally an achievement for this, if everyone makes it out of the Suicide Mission alive.
    • Gathering the dog tags of those who perished from the first Normandy is a touching posthumous version of the trope.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Lampshaded by Shepard during the Shadow Broker DLC.
      Shepard: Not even a guardrail. I bet the Broker's agents love patrolling the hull.
    • Averted elsewhere - there are handrails and safety notice everywhere in the geothermal plant on Aitenote , and the oil refinery on Zoryanote , and on the Ceberus installations onboard the derelict Reaper.
  • No Points for Neutrality: Unlike Mass Effect or Mass Effect 3, 2 plays this completely straight, as your Charm and Intimidate dialogue options (some of which are critical to maintaining squad loyalty) are determined directly by how strongly Paragon or Renegade you are, discouraging players from taking a more ambiguous approach. This can be mitigated somewhat by using an Old Save Bonus from Mass Effect (which gives you bonus alignment points) as well as investing in class upgrades and equipment that maximize Paragon and Renegade bonuses.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Zaeed's vaguer anecdotes fall into this.
    • Matriarch Aethyta once mentions that a krogan once drank a liquified turian on a dare. No one came out of that one looking pretty.
  • Nostalgia Level: A DLC level released shortly after the game's release has Shepard travel to the crash site of the original Normandy. While the ship is now in pieces, travelling to various parts of the wreckage presents flashbacks of the original ship and her crew as Shepard searches for dog tags of their old crew.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • There isn't a single enemy to fight on the way through the crashed geth ship in the Overlord DLC, which does nothing to prevent it from being downright terrifying due to the atmosphere and the constant threat of the Scare Chord-like screams of the VI. Fighting several dozen geth on the way out is far preferable to having to take the "safe" route a second time. The fact that you're walking past dozens, maybe hundreds of inactive geth, makes it even worse. At any moment you expect them to stand up and start shooting...but they never do. Player with fragile nerves tend to freak out more and more as nothing continues to happen.
    • The same thing goes for the supposedly disabled Collector vessel. The regular appearance of convenient chest-high walls, which usually indicate an upcoming firefight, don't help. Nor does the fact you can hear Scions and Husks wailing in the distance.
    • There's also a sidequest on a space station where everyone's been killed by the computer virus corrupting the station's VI. Throughout the mission you expect to have it turn on you at some point, but it never happens. Even knowing this on subsequent playthroughs, it still doesn't make the mission any less creepy.
  • Notice This: It's very important to keep stocked up on ammo, and spare clips are very small. Good thing they shine and glint to make them easier to find.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Of all the Normandy crewmembers that Shepard can interact with, the only two who seem to really believe in Cerberus's political agenda are Miranda and Mess Sergeant Gardner. The others all make it very clear that they're only there to fight the Reapers.
    Tali: I assumed you were undercover, Shepard. Maybe even planning to blow Cerberus up. If that's the case, I'll loan you a grenade. Otherwise, I'm here for you, not for them.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources:
    • Shepard is apparently the only person in the galaxy who is affected by the heat clip mechanic.
    • Which works out to your advantage as much as it does the enemies: the enemies have unlimited ammo, but so do your squadmates. They don't fire as fast as you do and thus won't kill enemies as quickly, but if the enemies in the room aren't strong enough to knock them out you could theoretically take cover behind a crate and let your squadmates do all the work.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Most of the choices for specialist roles in the Suicide Mission are fairly obvious, such as Jack or Samara for the biotic bubble. Someone, however, will always advise against picking Miranda as a sub-leader. In spite of this, she is one of the valid choices — as she puts it, the mission isn't a popularity contest.
  • Not So Different:
    • If you destroy the Collector base in the Suicide Mission, Legion comments that Shepard chose the path of technological self-determination, the path that the true geth took when presented with Sovereign's offer, and then makes a comment that says basically this.
    • Shepard is gradually being shown to be this way with Saren. Particularly notable at the end of the Arrival DLC, with Hackett warning Shepard that, Spectre or no, they will be called to task for killing three hundred thousand batarians, just like Saren was being called to task for attacking Eden Prime.
      • And Shepard at least turns themself in to the Alliance voluntarily to answer for their actions, unlike Saren who kept denying his involvement in the Eden Prime slaughter and murder of Nihlus until Shepard gathered evidence to prove his crime.
    • Specifically called out in the final fight with the asari Spectre in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. When you accuse her of going too far in causing the death of innocent civilians just to protect an information source, she asks if you've done anything morally different. Of course, if you are playing a Paragon Shep, yes, yes indeed you have. She still calls you out on working for Cerberus much like how she worked with the Shadow Broker.
    • In the Overlord DLC, Gavin Archer likens the audacity of his attempts to subjugate the geth to Shepard seeking out the Reapers.
  • Not the Intended Use: There are a few places in the game where it's possible to skip entire waves of enemies. All of these fall under Alternative Skill; they're easier than just straight up fighting, but they're not effortless, either.
    • In several places, your objective is to simply get to a specified place; it doesn't matter whether you kill all or even any of the enemies going after you, so you can just sprint over to the checkpoint and trigger the next cutscene. This tends to be easiest as an Infiltrator and, to a lesser extent, Soldier and Vanguard, though it's not impossible with the other classes.
    • Just before the Horizon spaceport battle (where you have to activate the defense turrets), there's a spot where, if you stand in just the right place, you can see and kill the two Scions hiding behind the control panel without actually triggering combat, and the Husks that are supposed to harass you will never appear. This can actually be less practical depending on your class and loadout; if you have guns with high rate-of-fire but low accuracy, and if your powers don't include Warp or Incineratenote  it will probably be faster to go through the fight normally, even if you die several times.
    • During the second-to-last battle in Tali's loyalty mission, deploying a combat drone at just the right time in just the right place will immediately end the battle and trigger the cutscene where Shepard and Tali find Rael's body.note  However, doing this will also glitch the cutscene so all of your squad has their equipped guns glued to their hands. Hugging Tali (the Paragon interrupt) suddenly becomes a lot less heartwarming when Shepard has a freaking nuke gun strapped to their hand.
      • In line with the Instant-Win Condition of this particular battle, simply charging straight towards the open doorway will immediately trigger the cutscene — without the aforementioned bug.
  • Now You Tell Me:
    • Chorban, a salarian whom you can help in the first game emails you with information that reveals that the Citadel keepers are deceptively malevolent, and that they're really ticking time bombs working for a hostile alien species. Though you can find that out in the first game easily enough.
    • Shepard's response during Legion's loyalty mission, after the latter mentions that they have three minutes to escape.

  • Obligatory Swearing: The writers apparently decided to live up to the enhanced rating.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Collectors are very powerful but not as large as you'd expect; they appear to only have one well-hidden base and only one (extremely nasty) ship.
  • Offhand Backhand: A Renegade Interrupt in the Project Overlord DLC gives you the option to do this to a LOKI mech that your team mates have recently disarmed.
  • Off-Model: Dr Chakwas is wearing her Cerberus SR2 uniform in the opening cutscene, rather than an Alliance uniform, even though this would require her to be able to not only travel through time, but wear the uniform of a terrorist organization on the bridge of an Alliance frigate.
  • Offing the Offspring. Samara's duty, which leads to one of the more painful scenes when she talks about why she has to kill Morinth.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The game ends with the Normandy flying off into space.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Joker's reaction to a Collector cruiser dropping out of FTL right on top of the Normandy SR-1.
    • Later in the game, when the Collectors do it again to the SR-2, he starts with "Oh, shit!" He then follows it up about a dozen times during his subsequent panic. "What the shit!"
    • Mouse, during Thane's loyalty mission. He turns around to find Thane and Shepard wanting to talk to him. Thane advises him to change his pants later.
    • During the Arrival DLC, Shepard has this reaction when they walk into Object Rho's storage room and sees the big, indoctrination-inducing Reaper artifact sitting right out in the open, with no precautions or protection to prevent its influence from affecting the Project's personnel. A minute later, Shepard is being swamped by indoctrinated soldiers.
    • The Project scientist/medical tech during Arrival when Shepard wakes up.
    • Wilson, in the opening mission, reacts this way - very briefly - to Miranda turning out to still be alive.
  • Old Save Bonus: Importing a save from the original Mass Effect gives you a bunch of resources and credits to start out with, but more importantly a hefty boost to your Paragon and Renegade gauges. Given the way the game handles these, the bonus makes many of the difficult checks far far easier to the point where people actually recommend you skip New Game+ and just re-import your save if playing again.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • The name of Zaal'Koris's ship, the Qwib Qwib, so named because it's a repurposed ship that was originally non-quarian and the quarians are unable to format the ship's registration documentation. Tali warns Shepard not to ask about the name, but Shepard can inquire anyway with predictable results. The ensuing dialogue implies that there are quarians toting names that end in vas Defrahnz or vas Iktomi, completely unaware of what they sound like to humans.
    • If Tali's father Rael's actions get exposed (which count as an In-Universe Moral Event Horizon to quarians), then they also fit this trope.
  • Once Killed a Man with a Noodle Implement: Professor Mordin once killed a krogan with "farming equipment". Lair of the Shadow Broker demystifies the Noodle Implement: He stabbed a krogan. In the eye. With a pitchfork. It's also the reason why his head's all wrong.
  • One Bullet Clips: In every case except for the one-shot-per-clip weapons (the Widow and Mantis sniper rifles and the Claymore shotgun.)
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Once you upgrade it some, the Widow anti-materiel (i.e. anti-tank) sniper rifle can easily take down most non-boss enemies in a single shot. Especially satisfying to use on Harbinger mid-transformation.
    • The M-920 Cain can kill most enemies, and several bosses, in one shot. On the lowest difficulty level, there are only a couple of enemies that aren't killed with a single Cain shot, most notably the final boss, and even it is reduced to a sliver of health (although the Cain might not kill the Geth Colossus in one shot either if you don't fire it at the right time).
    • Even on Insanity, where all enemies have additional layers of shielding or armor, a charged shot from the DLC Geth Plasma Shotgun, along with the right damage upgrades, is still powerful enough to kill a merc.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Shepard, especially during the Arrival DLC mission, where s/he has no squad members backing him/her up and still delivers an utter Curb-Stomp Battle, potentially two of them.
    • Archangel before he's recruited.
  • One Steve Limit: Played with. During Thane's loyalty mission, you need to meet with a small-time criminal named Mouse. It turns out that he and Thane know each other; Thane didn't mention it at first because he thought it couldn't be the same Mouse.
  • One Size Fits All: Averted. Only Shepard can change their armor.
  • One-Way Trip: Any ship going through the Omega-4 mass relay isn't coming back. That's been the case for as long as records can remember. And it's up to Shepard to break that streak.
    Thane: Attacking the Collectors requires passing through the Omega-4 relay. No ship has ever returned from doing so.
    Shepard: My ship will be the first.
  • Only Mostly Dead: One of Shepard's responses when encountering the guard outside the Citadel.
    Guard: Our scanners are picking up false readings. They seem to think you're, uh, dead.
    Shepard: I was only mostly dead. Try finding that option on government paperwork.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Both the Paragon and Renegade options in settling the dispute between Jack and Miranda lead to this as Jack vows to keep Miranda alive during the attack on the Collectors so that Jack can rip her apart herself.
    Jack: (to Shepard) She'll survive. I'll make sure of it. (faces Miranda) Then... I will tear you apart myself.
  • Only Sane Man: Quarian Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib-Qwib. While, yes, Koris is a Jerkass when you meet him, his motives in the trial are to prevent the Migrant Fleet from going to war with the geth, because he feels the quarians wronged the geth in the first place, and that it would be suicidal to do so as well. Of course, anyone who's spoken with Legion knows that geth want nothing more than to be left alone or even make peace with the quarians, if they even thought of the possibility. They don't even live on the quarian homeworld, having only mobile platforms to clean up the wreckage and decontaminate the ruins from the war. Somebody give this man a medal.
  • Operation: [Blank]:
    • Project Lazarus. Which brings Shepard back to life.
    • Project Overlord from the Overlord DLC. Also a Meaningful Name: the purpose of the VI is to act as figurehead to the geth in the same way as Saren, and thereby avert a major war with them.
    • Subverted with the Project in the Arrival DLC. It's simply known as... the Project. Given its extreme level of secrecy, this is a quite sensible decision since it provides no clue as to its purpose in case the enemy learns of its existence.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: In the Overlord DLC, Paragon Shepard is appalled enough at Gavin Archer's abominable treatment of his brother to Pistol Whip him. Yes, that's a paragon interrupt.
  • Optional Stealth: The first part of the Arrival DLC gives an achievement for stealthy completion, but is perfectly doable by killing all the guards instead of sneaking past them.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: Holoscreen or not, everything seems to be monochrome and lo-res.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The ardat-yakshi are asari who, upon having sex with people, don't experience a gentle psychic 'melding' but rather dominate and ravage the other person's nervous system, causing brain hemorrhaging and nearly instant death. Said to gain in intelligence and biotic strength when they do so, ardat-yakshi quickly become addicted to mating; in 3 Liara may offhandedly describe it as the urge to "feed".
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future:
    • Most guns are pretty sleek, but it is universally agreed upon that the M-300 Claymore shotgun is a brick with a barrel.
    • When the M-98 Widow sniper rifle is folded up and attached to the back, it looks very much like a hexagonal tube.
  • Outlaw Town: Omega. It's been this for centuries, and sometimes, it'd be wiped out or abandoned, only to get turned back into a hellhole.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Poor Diana had one kid, Nef, who was mind-controlled and murdered by Morinth For the Evulz.
  • Out with a Bang: Some asari are ardat-yakshi (which translates to "Demons of the Night-Winds" in an ancient asari dialect) born with a rare genetic disorder that causes their Female-To-Whatever Universal Adaptor to barbecue the nervous system of whoever they couple with - stealing their Life Energy and enhancing their intelligence and biotic powers in the process. That's right, some of these Space Elves are Horny Devils! The one you meet can insist that the experience is the most pleasurable thing imaginable even in its lethality, but who can say otherwise?
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Using the Dominate ability on a Husk will kill it instantly. As does using Throw or Concussive Shot, and Shockwave will just slaughter them. Freezing them also works, shattering them instantly.

  • Palette Swap: All of the non-DLC outfits you can unlock for your team mates are just the same outfit in an alternate color, going for a black, red and gold theme, although there are other spot colours - Garrus's "loyal" armour has blue as well.
  • Parental Issues: Name any member of the Normandy crew other than maybe Joker, and you can rest assured that their backstory will involve an abusive/uncaring parent or parental figure.
  • People Puppets: In the Overlord DLC, Shepard is briefly controlled through their synthetic implants by the human/VI-hybrid.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: In the mission ''The Crime in Progress," Shepard has to settle an argument between a volus and a quarian. The volus on the Citadel accuses a quarian of intentionally bumping into him and stealing his credit chit while the quarian denies it. She didn't, he misplaced it before she walked into him.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Any of the upgrades you find during recruitment and loyalty missions. Didn't pick up that shiny new sniper rifle? Sucks to be you. Didn't get that damage upgrade? No dice.
    • Garrus, in an odd sense. If you never recruited him in the first game, you can't romance him.
    • Every new romance option in this game is only available in this game. It will carry over to Mass Effect 3 if you start it here, but if you didn't, you can't start a new one with them later.
  • Perpetual Storm:
    • The planet Hagalaz suffers from a constant thunderstorm during sunset and sunrise, thanks to its temperature extremes. The Shadow Broker hides their Cool Starship in the storm, using it as both concealment and a defense against anyone who manages to find the ship.
    • There's also Lorek, which according to a tooltip is wracked by constant storms.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Cerberus. They revive Shepard and the crew of the Normandy consists of a lot of nice people who just want to protect humanity. Some players — ones who didn't get the sidequests in the first game which have the organization working on husks, thorian creepers, and rachni, then luring Alliance soldiers to death by thresher maw, then murdering an Alliance officer who asked too many questions — can't even understand why Ashley/Kaidan calls Shepard out on working with Cerberus. Mass Effect 3 proves that the friendly, personable crew was hand-picked to allay and deflect Shepard's suspicions..
    • Also done much more literally on Tuchanka, with a merchant's varren that Shepard can pet.
      Shepard: Good varren.
  • Planet of Hats: Justified. At one point Mordin Solus remarks on the atypical genetic diversity among humans compared to other space-faring races, and how this encourages other species to use them for experimentation. Shepard is not amused by this.
    Shepard: That kind of crap is what makes Cerberus start to seem like a good idea!
    Miranda: My report will mention that.
  • Planning for the Future Before the End: During Thane's romance path, it's possible for him and Shepard to make plans to visit a desert. Even in the off chance that both Shepard and Thane survive the Suicide Mission, Thane has about nine months to live. This is never mentioned again, but the events of Mass Effect 3 imply that no, they never went to that desert.
    • In the Citadel DLC, Thane's video messages say that he visited a desert on Earth but with his son Kolyat, not Shepard. It's notable that this scene is one of the few times we see Femshep cry. Player Punch indeed.
  • Playable Epilogue: If Shepard survives, the player can go back and finish everything that hadn't been previously completed. In addition, the DLC packs Lair of the Shadow Broker and Arrival are intended to be played after the main campaign is finished, although they can be completed at any time after Horizon.
  • Playing Cyrano: A rather Darker and Edgier subversion of this trope plays out during Samara’s Loyalty Mission. Samara gives you quite a few useful tips on how to attract her daughter Morinth and convince the latter to take you home. But this isn’t because she wants you to romance her daughter, no sir-eee!! Morinth is actually a fugitive Serial Killer who has been inflicting Death by Sex on unsuspecting victims for centuries and Samara is a Justicar who is sworn to kill her daughter. She has you seduce Morinth so she can be baited into a trap and then executed.
  • Please Wake Up: Tali has this reaction to a particular body found during her loyalty mission, thinking that they're Faking the Dead and there's no way they could actually have died. Makes it all the sadder when it sinks in that they're not faking. It's probably no wonder that there's a Paragon interrupt in that scene, just to make it all the more emotional.
  • The Plan: Cerberus is practically built on them.
  • Plot Armor: Miranda won't die before the final confrontation with the Human-Reaper, even if she's not loyal. In fact she can still get carried off by Collector swarms (certain death for anyone else) and pop up fine in the very next scene, with no comment from anyone. Shepard is arguably even aware of this; if anyone else gets carried off, Shepard screams their name in horror. If Miranda gets carried off, Shepard just stares after her, as if saying 'eh, she'll be fine.' Once the final boss shows up, Miranda can die like any of the other crew members.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: The Suicide Mission hinges on the player's ability to invoke this. Picking the wrong person for a specialist role will get them or somebody else killed.
  • Police Are Useless: The sidequest "Crime in Progress" is all about this. A volus is accusing a quarian of stealing his credit chit, and the officer is biased against the quarian, even threatening her for getting upset at how she's being treated. Shepard has to step in to do the idiot's job for him.
  • Porn Stash:
    • You can collect one by buying the "Fornax" magazine on Omega.
    • Joker's "entertainment bookmarks" contain a few kink sites apparently illegal in Citadel Space, according to EDI. Unless that is a joke.
    • If you wait next to Joker long enough, he'll accidentally send to his main console speakers a porn feed he intended for his earpiece, a very conspicuous case of The Immodest Orgasm.
    • Grunt, of all characters, has a stash of asari porn and several back issues of the krogan edition of Fornax, as seen in his dossier files.
    • According to his dossier, Jacob also owns a copy of Asari Confessions 26.
  • Post-Cyberpunk: Kasumi's loyalty mission.
  • Post-Mortem Comeback: The derelict Reaper still influences those that were tempted enough to board and live in it, like the investigation team by Cerberus. It would make H. P. Lovecraft himself raise a brow.
    Research Log: The god is dead, but even dead gods can dream.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • The possibilities inherent in dating a biotic are intriguing. If you romance either Jack or Miranda, Mordin can give you some advice:
      Mordin: Biotic ability also gives benefits. Forwarding booklet to your quarters; includes diagrams, exercises, inventive uses of mass-effect fields...
    • The nerve stimulation systems for the encounter-suit-wearing species are supposedly there to allow tactile interaction with the world outside the suit. But the potential for so much more is so obvious that discussion of those uses are pretty much the only times the systems are ever mentioned (see the quarian in the Eternity lounge, the volus at the Serrice Technology sales stand, and Tali, whose Shadow Broker dossier uses this to suggest some degree of sexual frustration.)
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Various Cerberus projects, but Overlord from the DLC of the same name kind of stands out.
    David: The square root of 906.01 is 30.1... it all seemed harmless...
  • Power Up Let Down: Logically speaking, you'd think the ability to play New Game+ on any difficulty would make it useful for getting the achievement for beating the game on the hardest difficulty, since you get to start the game with high/max leveled characters, a large amount of credits and resources, and all your weapons and armor that you unlocked (save for one specific weapon). But turns out that this is actually a bad idea, as all your researched upgrades do NOT carry over, and they make for a large portion of your damage. And since enemies scale with your level, at max level they are balanced for a party that has said upgrades, meaning you will actually be BEHIND the curve rather than ahead of it. The better option is to start a brand new character, since you will still get the extra resources and all of the loyalty mission abilities you've unlocked thus far.
  • Pre-Character Customization Gameplay: The game opens with a surprise attack on the Normandy where you control Shepard, clad from head to toe in N7 armor, rushing to the cockpit to save Joker. Only after that you get to customize their appearance (before then you could only pick their gender).
  • Precision Crash: The MSV Broken Arrow's is overrun by geth while in interplanetary space, so its captain decides to shut off the engine before he dies. The ship proceeds to fall towards a nearby planet, straight at the only colony on the surface of that planet.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • The one rule on Omega - "Don't fuck with Aria."
    • Also, during Garrus's loyalty mission, if you play it as a Paragon:
      Shepard: (deliberately blocking Garrus's shot) I'm the only thing standing between you and a hole in the head.
      Sidonis: ...fuck.
    • Jack will also react this way during her loyalty mission if Paragon Shepard keeps her from shooting another survivor from the facility she was imprisoned in as a child.
    • If, as a male Shepard, you turn down Jack's advances and romance someone else instead, you will not get another conversation with her except for two words:
      Jack: Fuck off!
  • Press X to Die: You meet Morinth, an asari with a rare genetic defect that kills anyone she has sex with. You have the option to have sex with her. The result is what you expect.
  • Press X to Not Die: Reconstructed with the "Paragon/Renegade Interrupts", where you hit a button during a conversation to administer a Cooldown Hug, a Talk To The Headbutt or even throw a jerk out a window. They're optional, often heavily foreshadowed, there's no real penalty for not doing them (except for being left with dialogue choices which give significantly fewer morality points than from taking the interrupt), and they're not supposed to be at all difficult to hit. They allow a lot of extra options that wouldn't work in a normal speech without being awkward, like interrupting someone while they speak — a necessity with Mordin.
  • Private Profit Prison: Jack is found on board a prison ship run by the Blue Suns mercenary company. They not only take prisoners on board for a fee, but occasionally they threaten to unleash the inmates on a planet or station when their budget is tight, thus extorting money from the local government.
  • Prison Rape:
    • Implied, by one comment by a male prisoner in the Prison Ship Purgatory:
      Prisoner 780: [...] And you got to watch out... damn, but someone's always after your stuff. Your smokes, your clothes, your... pride... [looks away uncomfortably for a moment] I haven't taken a shower in three months.
    • If you take Jack into the restroom up in the Dark Star nightclub located on the Citadel, she recalls an incident where she was ambushed by both prisoners and guards in a bathroom, killing two in the process, but failing to stop the rest back in Purgatory. She never forgot. And neither did they.
  • Prison Ship: The Purgatory, a type 2 dumping ground for the worst criminals who don't even belong on a planet. That said, the ship isn't run by any government; it's run by the Blue Suns, a mercenary group that uses it as just another pirate setup: taking on prisoners for money, or releasing them into the hands of whoever pays them, using it as a holding place for hostages, and threatening to release the most psychotic and violent monsters in their holds onto systems whenever they need a bit of cash.
  • Private Military Contractors: Plentiful, primarily among them the Blue Suns, Blood Pack, and Eclipse.
  • Product Placement: You can hear an advertisement for Exoderm while on Illium.
  • Profiling: The "Crime in Progress" sidequest on the Citadel.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: Implied slightly. Your squadmates unlock their final powers after Shepard helps to resolve any "distractions" they have.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The mercs Shepard fights in most missions are just doing what they're paid for and don't have anything personal against the hero. The ones who teamed up to take down Archangel are an exception, since they actually wanted to kill him and no one hired them to do it — in fact, they hired you to help.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • I! AM! KROGAN!!
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • The (non-canon) worst ending. Shepard succeeded in destroying the Collectors, but at the cost of everyone aside from Joker. Joker is left alone to try to warn the entire galaxy about the coming of the Reapers without any of the unique skills Shepard and Co. brought to the table and just enough data recovered to show that the Reapers are on the march.
    • The end of the Arrival DLC. Shepard defeats the Reapers and buys the galaxy some time. However, an entire solar system was destroyed by Shepard's hand, the batarians are looking to use that as an excuse for war with the Alliance, and Shepard must stand trial. And the Reapers haven't been stopped, only delayed...

  • Ragnarök Proofing: The buildings on Haestrom have held up pretty well for three hundred years, with or without geth maintenance, though Tali notes that concentrated fire could potentially bring them down easily. Fortunately, Shepard doesn't have to deal with that problem.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The team you're assembling for the Suicide Mission include a War Hero/Shell-Shocked Veteran/unfettered commander killed and then brought back to life, a former Marine with Daddy Issues, a test-tube Femme Fatale with Daddy Issues, a Vigilante Man with Survivor's Guilt, a test-tube Proud Warrior Race Guy with existential issues, a vicious psychokineticist whose powers were cultivated via torture, a former spec-ops soldier turned doctor involved in nasty work in the past, your alien mechanic friend from the first game with Daddy Issues (and charges of treason complicating things further), a religious assassin who regrets having become a Disappeared Dad, a Knight Templar on the hunt for a notorious serial murderer (who is also her daughter), and a quasi-Hive Mind robot with an interest in organics. DLC also adds to the list an unfettered shell-shocked mercenary and an intergalactic Classy Cat-Burglar looking for her lover's memento. Mass Effect 3 reveals that The Illusive Man invoked this to try and manipulate Shepard. Knowing he/she wouldn't trust a task force of Cerberus soldiers.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Whether this is averted or played straight is under the player's control, as you can now fully customize the color, camouflage patterns, and tint of your armor. Played very straight at the start of the game — Ashley, Liara and Kaidan will run up to you in white/pink Phoenix armor during the opening scenes. Justified for Ashley as this is her default outfit from both games, but heads into full-on "WTF?" territory with Kaidan, as his default armor is a very plain dark grey Onyx armor. At least he changes armor by the time you see him again on Horizon.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The loyalty sidequests include: blowing up a facility where children were experimented on (Jack), helping hide the sister of one of your allies from her abusive father (Miranda), and assassinating gang leaders (Zaeed) and space vampires (Samara). Jacob's loyalty mission is to find his father, whose ship had sent out a distress beacon ten years after it went down. Those ten years were spent eliminating the male members of the group and breaking down the women to serve as sex slaves. One resolution to this mission is to allow Ronald to be left to the zombies who are now trying to kill him. Among your team are gang leaders, killer Mecha-Mooks, assassins, intergalactic thieves and Ax-Crazy Psychos for Hire, and every one of them approves this fate.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • A Wretched Hive like Omega sounds like a good place for an assassin to find a never-ending flow of work without ever having to worry about attracting attention from cops. Wrong! As Thane quickly learned at the start of his career, if someone on Omega wants you dead, they usually tend to cut out the middleman and do it themselves.
      Thane: The last time I was on Omega, I couldn't find any work. You wouldn't think an assassin could go hungry in a place like this. Seems locals handle that kind of thing themselves, and those who can't aren't the kind of people you'd want to work with.
    • The famous "if you want a problem solved, send a human" speech Shepard gives. They say it to an asari, who is offended by Shepard's incredibly racist words and tells them to get lost.
    • If Shepard romances Tali, her weak immune system and need to live in a suit will make it quite difficult for them to get intimate. When Mordin learns of their relationship, he vehemently warns Shepard not to try it, since an infection has the potential to kill her. Even after taking the appropriate precautions, Tali still ends up getting sick for a little while afterwards.
    • Legion chose to begin it's investigation of Shepard on Eden Prime, however, it failed to consider how the inhabitants would react to seeing a Geth roaming around after Saren's attack, and was shot the moment it was spotted.
    • If the final mission is not initiated immediately after the crew is taken, than many or almost all of them will be dead when the team arrives to save them.
  • Reassignment Backfire: Miranda is explicitly assigned to the Normandy to keep an eye on Shepard and represent Cerberus interests, if you complete her loyalty mission, take her into the final battle, and choose to blow up the Collector base, she pretty much flips the Illusive Man off when he orders her to stop Shepard.
    Illusive Man: Miranda! Don't let Shepard blow up the base!
    Miranda: Or what? You're gonna replace me next?
    Illusive Man: I gave you an order, Miranda!
    Miranda: I noticed. Consider this my resignation.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Most everyone you recruit for your squad are either outright psychopaths (Jack), assassins (Thane), mercenaries (Zaeed), thieves (Kasumi) or otherwise operate at least a few degrees outside the law (Samara). Then the ones who work directly with Cerberus (Miranda, Jacob and other crew members) are working for a shady organization with unclear goals. Outside that some have questionable pasts (Mordin) or are just dangerous to have around (Grunt, Legion). The only people who have given you no reason to mistrust them are Joker, Garrus and Tali, and that's mostly because they're the only team members Shepard's already friends with when they join up. Otherwise, Garrus would certainly count as well, Tali is on some nebulous top-secret mission she initially doesn't want to talk about (for understandable reasons), and even Joker is now technically flying for a terrorist organization.
  • Recurring Riff: The soundtrack reuses a certain cello solo throughout. For reference, it appears from 4:16 to 4:26 in "Tali". Judging by the songs it appears in (including "Tali", "Jack", "Humans Are Disappearing", "Horizon", "Suicide Mission", "The Illusive Man") it may be a leitmotif for loss or grief.
    • An interlude in "Tali" includes the main melody of the song "Uncharted Worlds" from the first game, set in a different key. note 
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The music that plays in the game's various nightclubs are all taken from other games published by Electronic Arts.
  • Recursive Ammo: Zaeed's Inferno Grenades from the free DLC (that the Player Character can equip with Advanced Training research), use this to great effect, often knocking people over even if they have shielding. Upgrading this power, will increase the number of sub-munitions.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The downloadable Terminus Assault Armor has this vibe going. It's all black except for a bunch of glowing red lines adorning most surfaces, sports an all-enclosing helmet with a threatening, non-transparent visor, and an overall look as cool as it is intimidating. The evil part - as far as a piece of gear can be considered evil - comes from it being illegal in Council Space due to originating from the Terminus Systems, a lawless region of space widely considered a refuge for pirates, slavers, other criminals of all stripes and generally everyone not wanting to be found or act under laws of civilized governments. Doesn't stop it from being one of the best choices of armor for weapons-heavy classes like Vanguards, Infiltrators and especially Soldiers.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Shepard's cybernetic revival left them with a bunch of glowing facial scars upon their awakening, and how they heal depends on Shep's morality. Going the Paragon route will eventually make them disappear entirely. Playing as Renegade, however, not only deepens the scars; it also makes Shep's eye implants glow ever brighter until her/his pupils and irides are almost completely subsumed by four glowing red dots. Considering what a Renegade Shepard stands for, this should serve as a very clear warning not to get on their bad side.
    • When a vorcha activates its Blood Lust ability, it gains a minor layer of armor and its eyes begin to glow brightly red. It does look pretty scary but doesn't actually make them that more dangerous, though - they're still glass cannons.
  • Red Shirt: In the opening, there is a crewman on the Normandy identified only as "Ensign." She dies.
  • Red Shirt Army:
    • The (non-Tali) quarians tend to fare poorly in the battles you observe.
    • Averted with Kal'Reegar, who really is wearing a red shirt and yet does quite well (just how well he does is actually up to you.)
  • Redundant Researcher: Remember Chorban from the first game? You get an email from him saying there's something fishy with the keepers. Really? But his email contains conclusive proof of the extinction cycle, yet he has just as much luck as Shepard getting people to look at it.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming:
    • The FENRIS, LOKI, and YMIR brands of defense mechs. FENRIS mechs resemble dogs (a side character even addresses them as literal "dogs" instead of mechs). YMIR mechs are huge. LOKI mechs don't seem to fit their name at first until you realize that, of all the mech types, they by far cause the most trouble (often by malfunctioning or being hacked). There's also Cerberus itself; as noted elsewhere, it's a reference to the Greco-Roman Kerberos, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of Hades.
    • The biblical references throughout the game:
      • Miranda's loyalty mission is called "The Prodigal", a parable from the Bible.
      • Legion is named after a passage in Mark: "My name is Legion, for we are many."
      • Legion's loyalty mission is called "A House Divided", from a passage from Luke.
      • Legion reveals Sovereign's real name to have been Nazara, aka Nazareth.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: It's revealed that the geth the player was fighting in the first game to be a bunch of heretics that differs from the mainstream geth.
  • Replaced with Replica: If you ask Kasumi about the decorations in her quarters aboard the Normandy, she'll explain that she and her lover stole them from museums. Kasumi has the priceless originals and left the museums none the wiser with cheap replicas. Bear in mind that these priceless originals include the Mona Lisa. Aboard a ship everyone knows is about to go on a Suicide Mission.
  • Rescue Introduction: Archangel ( a re-introduction, as it turns out), Jack, Grunt.
  • Retroactive Idiot Ball: The Reapers: In the first game, Vigil states that after the Keepers were reprogrammed by the prothean scientists, the Reapers became trapped in dark space. Yet, the Arrival DLC shows the Reapers arriving on the edges of the Milky Way only a few months after the end of ME 2. This means that simply flying to the nearest mass relay was always an option for the Reapers and they were never trapped, to begin with.
  • The Reveal:
    • Collectors are Protheans, although the process of repurposing them really makes them Prothean in name only; there is nothing left of the people they once were in the Collectors.
    • Sovereign's name is actually Nazara, as revealed by Legion. Sovereign was a name given by Saren.
    • The geth from the first game do not represent their entire race and were merely a splinter faction. The true geth are a peaceful, if isolationist, Heroic Neutral who want nothing to do with the Reapers.
    • The Reapers commit mass-genocide in order to reproduce. There isn't quite enough information on this to give definite details, but a Reaper 'fetus' bears a striking resemblance to the species it is made from. Since the ending briefly shows the dormant Reaper fleet and they all look like Sovereign, as well as the human Reaper being nowhere near as large as a completed Reaper, even if it had been fully formed, the current theory is that the species-specific construct becomes the "core" of a finished Reaper. Mass Effect 3 reveals that this is far more complicated.
    • The Shadow Broker's identity is revealed in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. He's a yahg, an eight-eyed, sharp-toothed, pre-spaceflight race of highly aggressive brutes, larger in size than the krogan and on par with salarian intelligence. The previous Broker got one as a "pet," but ended up being usurped by the yahg after he grew smart enough. He wields the Revenant one-handed and a large energy shield in battle, and can be viewed here.
  • Retcon: If you blow Conrad Verner off with a Renegade option in the first game, a news report will state that he died while trying to stop a crime, but he's alive and well no matter what. Additionally, regardless of if you used Charm or Intimidate to get Conrad to back off in the first game, the game assumes that you took the Renegade option, with Conrad claiming you "shoved a gun in [his] face." This is due to a bug in the save file transfer system.
  • The Reptilians: The krogan and the drell.
  • Reverse Escort Mission: One sequence during a Suicide Mission has you take a path filled with seeker swarms. In order to avoid attack or capture, you have to pick a squadmate to keep a biotic barrier surrounding you and two other squadmates. If you pick the wrong escort, however, one of your team is taken by the swarms.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Shepard gets to go on several including Archangel and Tali's recruitment missions, Miranda's loyalty mission and of course for the crew of the Normandy should they choose to.
  • Robots Enslaving Robots: More or less the function of the heretic virus in Legion's loyalty mission. Though, interestingly, it's used not just to show what Jerkasses the heretic geth are, but also pose the central moral dilemma of the mission.
  • Rocketless Reentry: Commander Shepard rides a piece of debris down in the very beginning after the destruction of the Normandy. They don't survive, but are "revived" later, literally being assembled from pieces in the Cerberus lab.
  • Romance Sidequest: There are several romance subplots: Miranda Lawson, Jack/Subject Zero, Tali'Zorah [[spoiler:vas Normandy]], and Kelly Chambers for males, and Jacob Taylor]], Thane Krios, Garrus Vakarian, and Kelly Chambers for females.
    • With the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, Shepard (male and female) can reconcile with Liara and pick the relationship back up, if she was romanced in the first game.
  • A Round of Drinks for the House: During Samara's loyalty mission where you're attempting to get Morinth's attention, Shepard can buy drinks for all of Afterlife's patrons. The bartender warns you that there are a lot of patrons there that night and gives you the option of weaseling out. With enough Paragon points, Shepard can convince the bartender to do this instead.
  • Rousing Speech: Played straight and still awesome when Shepard gives a quick speech to their team in the briefing room before entering the Collector base, and near the end of the mission, right before facing the humanoid Reaper.
  • Ruder and Cruder Mass Effect 2 uses stronger profanities than Mass Effect with the infamous "Don't fuck with Aria" quote attached to players' memories.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Shepard dies and comes back to life. Shepard goes to Afterlife (which has a distinct flame motif) to recruit Archangel. At the end of the game, assuming you got everyone through the Suicide Mission intact and you have all the DLC squad members, Shepard has twelve squad members.
    • Legion's name comes from The Bible, and the Cosmetic Award for completing his loyalty mission is called "A House Divided", which also comes from the Bible - "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
    • After going to the Afterlife, one of the first recruitment missions takes you to Purgatory (the prison ship). Later on Illium, you go to a bar called Eternity.
    • Some of the interactions with squadmates in their respective places on the Normandy have this, particularly the potential love interests. Between Miranda and a male Shepard, for example, the setting of Shepard's conversations with her start from him standing, then sitting in front of her desk, later sitting beside her on a sofa, to her sitting on her bed. The change in setting corresponds with how their relationship develops.
  • Running Gag:

  • Sacrificial Lion: Poor, poor Normandy SR-1.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In an optional mission, Shepard must fight their way through a military base captured by batarian extremists to activate self-destruct mechanisms on a couple of nukes heading towards a nearby colony. Once you get there, however, you learn you can only destroy one of the missiles and must choose whether to spare the urban area where most of the colonists live, or a vital industrial area that would, if destroyed, result in the eventual economic death of the colony and the evacuation of those same people that you just saved.
    • Once the Collectors attack Normandy and steal your non-party-member crew you can initiate the endgame and invade the Omega-4 Relay. But if you jump the gun and do it immediately, you risk losing vast swaths of your squad (unless you've performed missions in a very specific order). Wait too long, though, and your crew will die. Who's more important, your squad, or your crew?
    • The entire Arrival DLC is centered around this. The Reapers are going to arrive through a Mass Relay in Batarian space, and the only way to slow them down is to destroy it. However the explosion will annihilate the surrounding system, killing almost half a million innocent Batarian colonists. That said, it's only a sadistic choice In-Universe; Shepard (and thus, the player) has no say in it and is merely the one tasked with carrying out the system's death sentence.
  • Sapient Ship: The Normandy itself becomes one of these near the end of the game after EDI's shackles are removed and she takes complete control of the ship.
  • Saved for the Sequel: The quarians are worried over a remote star dying far faster than it ought to be. Tali hypothesizes it's due to dark energy affecting the interior of the star, but remarks that no race has the ability or any particular motive to destroy one. Nevertheless, she voices concern over the possibility of an adversary powerful enough to take a star out. The explanation is left open for Mass Effect 3.
    • If Shepard runs into Gianna Parasini on Illium and asks about her future plans, she'll remark: "A lot of people are suddenly interested in dark energy. My bosses want to know if it's something to worry about."
    • See Aborted Arc here for what eventually became of this plot point.
  • Scavenger World: Tuchanka is revealed to be largely this in the second game. Since most krogan can't get their act together to establish a system of government, off-world trade is right out. Most tech is either brought from off-world by unusually high-minded individuals, stolen from other clans, or salvaged from some of the many wrecks and various other detritus that dots the landscape. This is one of the many things that the head of Clan Urdnot is trying to turn around.
  • Scenery Gorn: The Normandy SR-1 getting torn apart by the Collector cruiser. Punches the Player in the gut. Hard.
    • The Crash Site. Dedicated players have an emotional connection to that ship. Seeing it get torn apart hurt, but walking through the crashed wreck and getting small flashbacks to the first game can be almost painful.
    • In the Arrival DLC, the very graphic destruction of a Mass Relay.
  • Scenery Porn: Planet Aite of the Overlord DLC. Even the Hammerhead VI points it out: "Geologic formations suggest an aesthetically pleasing view nearby. Organic lifeforms may wish to take note."
    • Really, this game is full of them. The sets and places that Shepard visits look so gorgeous. Illium and Omega are two brilliant examples.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Tali really should have known better than to tell Shepard not to ask about the name "vas Qwib-Qwib". What did she expect to happen? Actually, it is up to the player whether or not to ask about it.
    • Lampshaded by Shepard in the Overlord DLC: "Get ready. I wouldn't be surprised if this button summons a Reaper."
  • Schrödinger's Gun:
    • No matter how the first game ended (specifically the fate of the Council), Miranda will crow that Shepard did everything exactly right, and specify how so. "And still it's not enough."
    • In the previous game, the decision of who will represent humanity on the Galactic council occurs after the final save file is created, so the choice is not reflected when the save is imported. To address this, a player who has imported a save will be asked by Miranda who he or she selected (with the justification being a test of Shepard's memory). Either choice is considered corrected and will determine who the Council member is later in the game.
    • Khalisah Al'Jilani from the first game will criticize Shepard regardless of their decision in the end battle.
  • Schrödinger's Question: Was originally going to be used in for new games in which Mass Effect saves weren't imported, but was scrapped at the last minute. However, one of these questions survives in the final release — the one asking whether Udina or Anderson became the human representative to the Citadel. This is because the auto-save which is imported into ME2 is created by Mass Effect before the conversation when the choice is made occurs, specifically before facing Saren.
  • Scolded for Not Buying: Grunt will be peeved if you decline expending resources for his customized shotgun after you ask him about any prototypes he might have that might help on the mission.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: DLC squadmate Kasumi does this during the Lock-and-Load Montage in her loyalty mission.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • The devs make many, many jabs at themselves during the game, ranging from subtle comments on the appearance of characters to a random merchant making pointed comments that come very close to breaking the fourth wall. The following comments are from the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC:
      Shepard: Remember when you could just slap omni-gel on everything?
      Liara: That security upgrade made a lot of people unhappy!
    • If you crash several times in the Chase Scene, this happens:
      Shepard: You okay?
      Liara: Still better than the Mako.
    • Mordin remarks that being in the STG was a lot like being a Spectre, except better because at least they didn't have to pay for their equipment out of their own pockets.
    • Take Garrus and Tali to the Citadel with you
  • Sequel Escalation: The first game was somewhat extreme. But BioWare seemed utterly determined to outdo themselves for the second.
  • Sequel Hook: The Arrival DLC sets up the basis for Shepard being in prison at the beginning of the third game. For a non-DLC variant, the Bolivian Army Cliffhanger counts as well (the glimpse of an armada of Reapers headed for the galaxy.)
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • A collision detection bug (the type which normally results in the game becoming unwinnable) on Omega allows you to enter Afterlife's VIP area and complete Samara's loyalty mission before Samara's recruitment mission ever becomes available. A similar bug on the Normandy lets you enter the tech lab to research upgrades before recruiting Mordin, although since his recruitment mission is available as soon as you gain control of the Normandy, there's not much point to using it.
    • A rare example of this trope letting you complete a portion of the game later than intended. It is possible to complete Mordin's loyalty mission after the suicide mission. That isn't this trope; nearly every non-story mission can be completed after the "end" of the game. What is this trope is the fact that you can complete Mordin's loyalty mission even if Mordin is dead.
  • Serial Killer Baiting: Samara's Loyalty Mission has Commander Shepard pose as bait to allow Samara to kill her own serial killer daughter.
  • Service Sector Stereotypes: Most games, the barman is the local repository for news and gossip, right? Apparently, in Mass Effect, that is the function of the news kiosk. The Dark Star barman on the Citadel just serves drinks. Humans are always making that mistake.
    • Not just the news kiosk. In the prequel comic book Redemption there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to this when an elcor Liara is trying to get information from sarcastically asks if she thinks he's the bar's information minister.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Unlike the first game, you don't really get to see much of the sex scene that results from a romance, via a combination of fade to black and these.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Used by the extremely high biotic god Niftu Cal, whom you encounter in Samara's recruitment mission. "I am a great wind that shall sweep everything before me like a... a great wind!"
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Briefly; when Shepard experiences a near-hit from an explosive device, the sound goes fuzzy and muted for a few seconds. But only a few seconds, still nowhere near long enough to avert Steel Eardrums.
    • If you stand (in cover) too close to a YMIR Mech when it explodes, the Shell-Shock Silence can last until the end of the mission.
  • Sherlock Scan: When you first encounter Mordin, if you don't choose to immediately reveal the group you're working for, he deduces it on his own in a matter of seconds.
  • Ship Sinking: Shepard has three opportunities in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC to ask about the nature of Liara and Feron's relationship. The answer all three times is that it's strictly platonic.
  • Shock and Awe: The entire point of the Arc Projector DLC heavy weapon. Also, the Overload tech power and Disruptor Ammo.
  • Shoot the Hostage: An option for both the player character and some NPCs in missions.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Played straight for most shotguns. Averted somewhat by the DLC Eviscerator, which doesn't suffer as steep a damage falloff, but still scatters just as much as the others. Averted mostly by the DLC Geth Plasma Shotgun. Its most damaging pulse fires fairly dead center, but the other two shots it fires are off axis. But for the ones that don't avert it? You can aim straight at an enemy three meters away and have all eight projectiles miss.
    • More like 'Short Range Firearms' in general. Yes, shotguns have an effective range of ~10 meters, and this is unrealistic. Meanwhile, assault rifles have an effective range of ~25 meters, and sniper rifles around 100 meters...and these are also unrealistic. In real life, assault rifles have listed effective ranges in the hundreds of meters, and many sniper rifles can hit targets a kilometer or more away.
      • However, this is less a fault of the game itself than a fault of the terrain design: Shepard's team never fights long-distance.
  • Shout-Out: See ShoutOut.Mass Effect.
  • Show Within a Show: Type 4. When you return to civilized space, one of the things you can learn is that the first game is being made into a movie entitled Citadel. More amusingly, there is Blasto: The Jellyfish Stings, a movie about a hanar Spectre. That last one comes full circle in the sequel where Shepard can get shanghaid into participating in the shooting of another Blasto movie. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • A gameplay feature allows players to dynamically and instantly alter (or end) conversations at some points. This can range from just telling the person to shut up, or tossing him out a window.
    • The Paragon ending. The Illusive Man calls up to give you hell about destroying the Collector base. You can either reason with him or basically tell him to shut up and fall in line.
    • Even DLC squadmate Zaeed invokes this upon himself when he attempts to justify leaving civilians to burn so he can exact his revenge. Strangely enough, only Paragon Shepard cuts him off, and how successful it is depends on how Paragon they are.
  • Sidequest Sidestory: The game has you tracking back the source of infected mech VIs in order to prevent further outbreaks, and the Blue Suns quest line in which you shut down a piracy operation.
  • Sigil Spam: Cerberus is really fond of their logo.
  • SkeleBot 9000: The Human Reaper.
  • Slave Liberation: There's a sidequest on Illium (where slavery—ahem, indentured servitude is legal) in which a slave broker asks Shepard to convince a representative from Synthetic Insights to hire a quarian slave. It's possible, with enough Paragon/Renegade points, to convince either the SI representative or the slave broker to free her instead (and, in the case of the SI rep, to hire her as a waged worker).
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Weyrloc Guld, the self-proclaimed "chief of chiefs," who believes that he is destined to lead the krogan to glory and galactic conquest purely based on the fact that he sired two children, whereas most krogan are lucky to ever have even one child. The Urdnot chief scout even lampshades this in one of the optional dialogue choices, pointing out that having children is simply a matter of luck, and that it doesn't make him any more of a ruler than one of the scout's friends who made a fortune from playing Quasar. When you take him on in battle, Guld proves no harder than most of the other krogan in the game, and Clan Weyrloc swiftly collapses after his death.
  • Smug Snake: Jedore, the one making use of Okeer's rejected krogan as live-fire training for the Blue Suns.
  • Sniper Pistol: Taken very literally with the new heavy pistol provided by the Firepower Pack DLC. Rather than the cross-hair "area" of most other weapons, the M-5 Phalanx gets a laser sight, and your shots will always hit where you're pointing the laser. On the other hand, it has higher recoil than the M-6 Carnifex Hand Cannon, meaning your aim will be disrupted significantly with each round. And your target staggering with each hit from the pistol doesn't help either.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Averted in the Suicide Mission, where characters can die, but they don't have any gear they can take into the grave.
  • Space Clothes: The ESRB rating describes generally the events of Shepard's romances, one of which involves "unzip[ping] a future-blouse." They're not generally silly enough to qualify as Space Clothes, being about as different from modern clothes as modern clothes are from 19th century clothes. It's more an aversion of No New Fashions in the Future.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted at the beginning, when you take a walk through the bridge of the Normandy, which has had most of its top blown off. Otherwise played painfully straight.
    • Mass Effect 3 reveals that sound in space is a result of sound emulation software: it's not noisy, it just appears that way because that's what people expect, and set up systems to allow them to "hear" what's going on in space.
  • Space Nomads: The quarians.
  • Space "X":
    • The Space Hamster Shepard can buy.
    • According to the ESRB, Miranda wears a Space Blouse, which can be removed.
  • Spoof Aesop: One of DLC squadmate Zaeed Massani's Noodle Incidents:
    Zaeed: You smoke, Shepard? Don't. That stuff'll kill you. Knew a kid once, half your age. Smoked too close to a cache of explosives. Tossed a butt, blew himself sky-high.
  • Squee!: If you saved the Council in the first game, the turian salesman at Rodam Expeditions is awfully eager to be talking to Shepard; he even says he'll name his firstborn after them.
  • Squishy Wizard: Biotic and tech characters tend to be fragile, except for Sentinel Shepard (who is really durable on the robust grounds of Tech Armour); Mordin is a particular example, given that he's very fragile when holding the line during the Suicide Mission. Rule one of surviving as an Engineer is that when fire is coming towards you, you need to disappear almost as quickly as your shields do.
  • Stalking Mission: Thane, being an assassin, has Shepard participate in this during his loyalty mission. Somewhat subverted, though, since the target you're stalking is not Thane's, but someone else's.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: During Samara's loyalty mission this is how Shepard decides whether to tip the match in Samara or Morinth's favor; that is, if Shepard was able to resist the mind control before their confrontation.
  • Starship Luxurious: Despite being a combat-ready ship, the Normandy SR-2 has quite a few luxuries on board. Like lots of space. And leather seats. But not decent food. (You can remedy that last part, if you want.) Joker himself is very excited about the fact it has leather seats.
    • Getting the "Kasumi - Stolen Memory" DLC adds a bar in Kasumi's quarters. It's still there in the sequel after the Alliance completely overhauls the entire ship, even being used for some companion interactions.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Not exactly Cthulhu, but Shepard manages to intimidate a full-grown krogan patron just by looking him in the eye. Unarmed.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: The entire Suicide Mission is built around this trope, as Shepard has to repeatedly assign squadmates to specific roles (the Tech Specialist, the Fireteam Leader, the Biotic Specialist, the Escort, etc.) over its course. In a twist, while every available candidate gets their assigned job done, subpar assignments do lead to minor Story Branching at the end of their respective segments, possibly resulting in their or another squadmate's deaths (see here for detailed analysis).
  • Stay in the Kitchen: A quick one from a batarian Blue Suns mercenary to a Female Shepard, telling pointing her to the strippers' quarters. A little strange for two reasons, one being that Shepard is decked in full armor and she is also armed to the teeth, and the second is that there are a good number of women in the Blue Suns.
    • However, if Shepard doesn't take the Renegade interrupt (and so does nothing), the merc's comment suggests he was baiting her to see how she'd respond. Either way, he treats her with no more or less respect than he does Male Shepard after that.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The first part of the Arrival DLC has an optional stealth component. Being stealthy isn't required to clear the mission, and the combat you engage in if you go gung-ho isn't that difficult, but you get an achievement/trophy for completing the area undetected (unless you used the Infiltrator's Tactical Cloak at any point in the segment).
  • Stealth Pun: Zaal'Koris vas Qwib-Qwib states not all quarians can serve aboard ships with great names such as the "Defrahnz" or "Iktomi." It would be very embarrassing for English-speaking humans to have the last name of "vas Defrahnz" or "vas Iktomi."
    • Illium, a world run by corporate interests that exists for the sole purpose of commerce and trade, has a news network which goes by the initials F.E.D.
  • Sticks to the Back: Played straight for assault rifles, sniper rifles, and shotguns. Possibly justified for characters with any sort of armor, as there are glowing spots in the areas where the guns attach that may be a mechanism to hold them there. Also played straight but minus the justification for Shepard's heavy weapons, as they just sort of "attach" in the middle of his/her back.
  • Stock Puzzles/Stock Video Game Puzzles:
    • A logic grid puzzle as a part of Liara's quest. There are five persons — turian, salarian, etc., and five jobs: merchant, killer, observer, etc. If you saw one logic grid puzzle, you saw 'em all. You need to find out who is the Shadow Broker's assistant, the Observer. The correct answer is none of the above, because all five are male, and Observer referred to herself as a female once. The whole thing is fake, and the Observer is actually Liara's secretary.
    • One sidequest has an insultingly easy Light and Mirrors Puzzle, as well as a Set Piece Puzzle where Shepard must use three computers in an order that will open all of a series of doors.
    • The scanning minigame, Liara's terminal hacking sidequest, and part of Kasumi's loyalty mission are implementations of the Metal Detector Puzzle.
    • The Overlord DLC has two Set Piece Puzzles—one involving moving giant tiles so you can get to the other side of a flooded room and another involving using several controls in order to summon a broken elevator.
  • Stock Scream: You really have to feel sorry for poor Wilhelm. He can't even get a proper factory job without Zaeed trying to come and blow it up.
  • Storming the Castle:
    • Going through the Omega-4 Relay to assault the Collector Base, arguably the whole point of the plot.
    • When Shepard and Liara go to Hagalaz to confront the Shadow Broker.
    • Zaeed's and Shepard's assault on Vido's Blue Suns stronghold in Zaeed's Loyalty Mission.
  • Story Overwrite: The game does a good job of porting most of your decisions from the first game via save file, but bugs wipe a few results (most notably the resolution to the Conrad Verner sidequest). Nothing majorly important, fortunately.
  • Straw Hypocrite: The Illusive Man and Khalisah Al'Jilani, as you can find out at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. Despite their pro-human views, TIM hires alien prostitutes and the reporter has an asari girlfriend.
    • The former is used as evidence by many players that TIM is being serious when he says he isn't anti-alien. He may want to put humanity on top, but that doesn't necessarily imply throwing the other races down. Except IN BED.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Mass Effect 2 features exponentially more explosions than its predecessor. And you can cause more than your fair share of them as well.
  • Stylistic Suck: Blasto, the first Hanar Spectre. Enkindle this!
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Shepard, along with a large number of the first Normandy's crew members.
  • Suicide Mission:
    • The aptly-named "Suicide Mission", of course.
    • The Garrus recruitment mission has you pretending to join a joint effort by all the rival mercenary companies on the planet Omega to kill "Archangel", a master marksman who has interfered with one operation too many. The only problem is that he has barricaded himself inside a house and blocked off all entrances other than the long, open bridge leading to his front door. Your job? Draw his fire while the mercenaries finish tunneling into his basement.
      Zaeed: That's goddamn suicide!
      Mercenary Recruiter: Pretty much. You look like you can handle it, though.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence:
    • Most of the enemies you'll gun down, really. Though it's not specific to Mass Effect 2 and applies to every other game in the trilogy.
    • Soon after you complete Jack's recruitment mission, you'll get a message from a prisoner named Billy who managed to flee the Purgatory. Said message is all about that prisoner boasting that, now he's free, he'll start murdering people again, carve Shepard's name onto his next victim's body and ultimately go for Shepard him/herself. It's never brought up again and Billy never appears in the game nor its sequel, but even if he did, it's pretty easy to guess how his fight against Shepard would have ended...
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The Collector base is close to one of these. Given that the base is at the center of the galaxy, the object is most likely the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* .

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