by: M.S. Smith
; edited by: Eric Stallsworth
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Mass Effect 2 features a larger cast of characters than the original Mass Effect. This character guide covers all of the characters and gives recommendations about which are the best of certain situations. Part 1 covers Garrus, Mordin, Grunt, Samara, Jack, and Tali.
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New Characters, New Tactics
Mass Effect 2 includes a whole new range of characters who can accompany Shepard on missions as well as two old friends. In Mass Effect 2, Bioware has gone to greater lengths to try and make sure the each character has a very unique personality and that there is as little overlap in abilities as possible. Each character also now has a new "loyalty power" which is unlocked upon successful completion of each NPC's loyalty mission. In part one of this Mass Effect 2 character guide I will cover Garrus, Mordin, Grunt, Samara, Jack, and Tali.
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Garrus has always been a dark character, and Mass Effect 2 colors his personality even more darkly than the first. Discovered early in the game, Garrus reveals that he has basically been acting as a vigilante, taking out malicious mercenaries at his leisure.
Garrus's powers include Concussive Shot, Overload, and Armor Piercing Ammo (which has a self-explanatory effect) as a loyalty power. Garrus can use Sniper Rifles and Assault Rifles, and his Turian Rebel character upgrade can result in health bonuses of up to 20% and damage bonuses of up to 25%, depending on if he is upgraded to a Turian Renegade or a Turian Surivor.
On the whole, Garrus is one of my favorite characters. The weapons he can use are the two best in the game, and his powers are very useful. He is best suited for mid-range fighting against other humanoids, such as mercenaries, and against squads of synthetics. Also, Garrus is an excellent choice for a fire team leader in the game's final mission.
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A Salarian scientist, Mordin talks fast and thinks fast. While he is at first referenced in Mass Effect 2 as a doctor, it quickly becomes apparent that his training extends beyond the borders of medicine.
Mordin is very close to being a mage. His powers include Incinerate and Cyro Blast with Neural Shock, an attack which paralyzes organic opponents, as a loyalty power. He works well against crowds because two of his powers, Cyro Blast and Neural Shock, are basically crowd-control powers which temporarily stop opponents in their tracks. He can only use pistols and SMGs, so he isn't that great in straight up combat.
Mordin's Salarian Scientist upgrade can result in Salarian Genius or Salarian Savant. A Genius will have a 25% health bonus, 18% weapon damage bonus, and 25% shield bonus. Savants have the same health bonus but a 25% weapon damage bonus and a 18% shield bonus.
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A genetically engineered Krogan warrior, Grunt is super tough. He has health generation and can use shotguns and assault rifles. He abilities include Concussive Shot, Incendiary Ammo, and Fortification as a loyalty power. Fortification is a defensive boost which improves Grunt's shields.
Grunt's upgrade power is Krogan Berserker, which turns into Krogan Pureblood or Korgan Warload. Both give an impressive 50% upgrade to health. Pureblood increases health regeneration to 55 points per second, while Warload increases bonus weapon damage to 25%.
On the whole Grunt is an amazing skirmisher. He is great a killing other Krogans and in any situation where there is short-range combat going on. If you're a Vanguard he is a particularly good wing-man. He is no good at all in long-range encounters however, so if that is what you prefer, you'd be best leaving Grunt on the Normandy.
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An Asari Justicar, Samara follows a code of action which demands maximum justice, even if it means brutally killing opponents. She is a biotic over ten thousand years old. Throw and Pull are her main abilities, with Reave as a loyalty unlock. Reave is a power which can transfer life from the target to the user. She can use pistols and SMGs.
Samara's Asari Justicar upgrade line results in the Sapiens Justicar or Caedo Justicar upgrades, both of which increase health by 20%. Sapiens increases weapons damage by 18% and reduces the cooldown on Samara's powers by 25%. Caedo increases weapon damage by 25% and decreases power recharge time by 18%.
Given her biotic powers, Samara is useful in many situations. The classic pull-throw combo will be responsible for a great deal of her damage. Reave is great for keeping her alive. In most cases I would take Samara over Jack because Jack can't use the pull-throw combo.
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The result of research experiments into the limits of biotic powers in humans, Jack's anger seems to have no limits. Her powers include Shockwave and Pull, with Warp Ammo as a loyalty unlock power. Warp Ammo is effective against all forms of defenses except shields and it does increased damaged to enemies under the effect of a biotic power.
Jack's Subject Zero upgrade line results in the Primal Adept or Primal Vanguard choice. Both have a 20% increase to health. Primal Adepts have a 18% bonus to weapons damage and a 25% shorter cooldown time on all powers. Vanguards have 25% higher weapon damage and an 18% lower cooldown on all powers.
While Jack is no slouch, the fact that she doesn't have throw is a problem. Also, Jack seems to have a hard time properly aiming her Shockwave power. Because of these issues I prefer Samara when I need to bring a pure biotic. However, Jack's Warp Ammo power, when fully upgraded, can extend Warp Ammo to the entire squad. Warp Ammo is extremely useful, so some might want to bring Jack along just to act as a Warp Ammo battery.
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After the death of Shepard, Tali continued her efforts to help her people against the Geth. Tali is a tech specialist, and her powers include Combat Drone and A.I. Hacking with Energy Drain as a loyalty power. Energy Drain is basically an anti-synthetic direct damage nuke. She can use pistols and shotguns.
Tali's upgrade path is Quarian Machinist, which results in the choice of Quarian Engineer or Quarian Mechanic. Both have a 20% increase to health. Engineers gain 18% higher weapon damage and 25% longer power duration. Mechanics have 25% higher weapon damage and 18% longer power duration.
When it comes to taking down synthetics Tali has no peer. Combine A.I. Hacking with the Energy Drain power and you'll be able to slaughter security mechs and Geth without issue. Although Tali hates to be around Geth, she is a must have for missions against them.