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Shoot to Kill
Mass Effect 2's shooter blood is purer than that of the original Mass Effect. Many of the RPG elements which both enhanced and plagued the original game are gone, leaving a tactical third-person shooter with RPG elements.
As a result, using proper tactics is extremely important, particularly on the harder difficulty levels. This guide contains tips about how to defeat the various opponents you'll find in the game.
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Mercenaries and Misc. Humanoids
Shepard will run into, and over, hundreds of mercenaries through the course of Mass Effect 2. In terms of equipment and capabilities, mercenaries tend to be armed with a wide range of rifles, pistols, shotguns, and SMGs. Some have shields, and a few rare "boss" mercenaries have armor and shields.
Despite being well armed, Mercenaries are usually one of the less difficult opponents. This is because they don't tend to charge the player. If you have a long range weapon, like a sniper rifle, you're basically set. You can simply take out opponents as they break cover.
For short-range characters, like Vanguards, things can be more difficult. For these characters, liberal use of flanking tactics is the best option. Place your NPCs on the front line, then run around the rear and shoot the enemy in the back.
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At first glance, this makes them only somewhat different from mercenaries and most other humanoids. The thing about Krogans, however, is that they charge as if every battle was a scene from a summer action flick. And once they reach you, they perform a "Krogan Charge" move which is extremely deadly.
Because Krogans are armored, and their health regenerates, you'll want to use Incendiary Ammo or Incinerate if possible. If that isn't available, then use whatever anti-armor powers or weapons you have. If all else fails, tell the NPCs to focus fire on your target - that should bring the Krogan down.
Vorcha also regenerate, but are nowhere near as tough as Krogans. Just don't waste ammo on wounding them and letting them get back to cover.
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These twisted beings will be shooting at you frequently in Mass Effect 2. The basic collectors act a lot like any other humanoid beings. They don't charge or flank aggressively and they tend to stay at medium range because they use a special type of assault rifle. There are some shielded collectors, however, which use a variant of the collector beam weapon. This is very accurate and deadly, so it is best to focus on these collectors first.
The real issue, however, is the Harbringer. The Harbringer has biotic barriers and armor, although strangely it doesn't seem to have any health, a fact which is sure to tick off Adepts. The Harbringer is a normal collector that gets transformed into the more powerful version. Though this can happen multiple times during a battle, only one collector can be a Harbringer at once. As a result, it is actually best to avoid the Harbringer until all other collectors are dead.
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Geth and other Synthetics
There are quite a few synthetic opponents in Mass Effect 2, including not only the Geth but a variety of security mechs. Geth tend to have shields if they have defenses, while security mechs tend to have armor. Disruptor ammo is very effect against both. There are also many NPCs with the Overload power, which can be endlessly useful against synthetics. A few, like Tali, have A.I. Hacking as well.
While most Geth and mechs are not overly aggressive, watch out for Geth Destroyers and the occasional Geth Prime. They will most certainly charge you, so be sure to bring them down before they get too close.
The other difficult opponent is the Heavy Mech. The Heavy Mech has a ton of firepower, armor, and shields. Heavy Mechs use chainguns and rockets. The only bright side is that they fire in a very distinct pattern. First chaingun, then rockets - then a generous delay. That's your opportunity to take them out.
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Husk and Abominations
These opponents tend to how up alongside Geth and Collectors later in the game, often in great numbers. They can be a real pain as it is easy to get lost in a swarm of them.
Anything which can be used to control the swarm will work well against these opponents. Cryo rounds and Cryoblast are good choices. Also, these opponents tend to bunch up a great deal, so AOE tech and biotic powers are great against them. Similar tactics work against Varren packs.
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Scions and Gunships
Visually, these two opponents could not be more different. However, they are similar in that they're both encountered only rarely and they're both protected by a huge slab of armor.
Scions use the Biotic Shockwave attack. This attack travels across the ground. If it hits, it will do damage and cause a stun effect. Scions move very slowly, but will always advance on your position. The best way to deal with them is usually a sniper rifle with Incindiary Ammo or multiple applications of the Warp Biotic attack. Getting close is extremely dangerous because you won't have time to dodge their Shockwave attack.
Gunships are also big slabs of armor. They use chainguns and missiles. Dodging the missles can be done, but dodging the chaingun isn't possible, so you'll need to use cover. Otherwise, however, they're a lot like the Scions. Hit them with a sniper rifle, Warp, Incindiary Ammo or some other big anti-armor gun, and they'll go down.