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Welcome Back to the West
By oneshotstop
Posted on 08/01/16
The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...


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Mass Effect 2 Teammate Combat Profile: Garrus Vakarian
Posted on Thursday, February 17 2011 @ 10:08:32 PST

Name: Garrus Vakarian

Becomes available to player: Omega- Archangel Recruitment Mission

Gender: Male

Race: Turian

Weapon of Choice:

Assault Rifle: Garrus might CARRY an AR, but I never let him use it. Why not? Because the Sniper Rifle is a much better squadmate weapon in pretty much every situation. For the way the AI fights, the Sniper Rifle is just far deadlier. This is especially true for Garrus, who is PURE POISON with a long rifle.

With that in mind, I COULD simply suggest which AR I think looks best on Garrus' back and move on. I won't, though, because who knows? He might ACCIDENTALLY equip the thing himself...and you can't have him using an inferior AR...

If you've got the appropriate DLC, I recommend you equip Garrus with the Mattock Heavy Rifle. It's the closest thing to a Sniper Rifle, so you might as well give it to him. In the absence of that option, I recommend the Vindicator Battle Rifle. Its burst-fire is nice, especially in the hands of a squadmate as accurate as Garrus.

Sniper Rifle: This weapon is Garrus' bread and butter. I'm not sure why, but Garrus just seems to be much better with it than any of your team's other sniper characters. As such, you should make sure that Garrus is using the Sniper Rifle at all times.

I don't care what you run into...husks...krogan...angry space hamsters....don't give in to the temptation to switch Garrus to the AR. Remember- unlike you, Garrus can effectively use a Sniper Rifle at close range, while moving. This means that the added punch of the gun is NEVER wasted.  Garrus is one of the best gunfighters in the game, and his exceptional skill with the Sniper Rifle is the primary reason for this.

Which Sniper Rifle should Garrus be carrying? Well, again, if you've got access to the appropriate DLC pack, I highly recommend the Incisor Sniper Rifle. Its burst-fire makes it better against Shields without sacrificing really any damage to anything else, and it's even better at close range than the other two options.

Once you GET the Viper, however, you're okay switching Garrus to that if you want to. I don't like it as well as the Incisor, but in Garrus' hands, its semi-auto fire is STILL extremely deadly.


Concussive Shot: I love this power. It's highly effective against enemy Barriers, and if you've dropped their defenses, it can send them flying. Concussive Shot makes Garrus a beast against charging enemies; but it's highly effective against just about everything that can be knocked back.

This should be the first power you max out for Garrus. Once it's all the way leveled up, I strongly suggest you choose the Concussive Blast option. This gives Garrus the ability to drop the hammer on a whole group of enemies (provided you can drop their defenses).

Overload: Another solid power. It's really only good against Shields and Synthetics; but since you'll be facing plenty of Synthetic and Shielded enemies all throughout the game, it's still worth the points. Until you get Tali, Garrus is your BEST option against Geth and Mechs, and Overload is the reason why.

I'd put several points into Overload, but I wouldn't max it out all the way. Area Overload is nice, but not really a necessity. Most of the time when you're facing Shielded enemies, you'll be just fine dropping one Shield at a time. The times that you encounter a larger number of Shielded foes are few and far between in this game. Therefore, upgrade this power to its third rank and leave it.

Turian Rebel: Turian Rebel is Garrus' class power, and with each rank, it grants significant percentage bonuses to Health, Weapon Damage, and Power Damage. All three of these help Garrus immensely, so I suggest you advance this power to at least level three. If it had the Holy Grail of class bonuses (Power Recharge Time) I'd insist on maxing it out entirely. Since it does not, however, then I won't. Level three should be just fine for this power.

Armor Piercing Ammo: This power isn't a whole lot different from Incendiary Ammo. I'm guessing it's even more effective against Armor while doing nothing extra against exposed flesh/metal. This is fine, however, as there are plenty of Armored enemies in almost every mission (especially on Hardcore and Insanity). AP Ammo effectively gives Garrus an option against the only defense he wasn't previously equipped to deal with...Armor.

This is a good power, but it should probably take lowest priority when it comes to assigning skill points. Put as many points into it as possible, but that will probably only be one or two ranks if you've maxed out Concussive Blast and put significant points into Garrus' other two powers.

Organic-killing: Garrus can rock the crap out of most organic foes. His Sniping Skills are unmatched by any other squadmate, and Concussive Blast is effective against any red health bar, Organic or otherwise. Basically, if you can find a good vantage point from which Garrus can rain hot lead, then he'll be a tremendous asset against any Organic foe.

Garrus IS a bit of a glass cannon, though, so I'd keep him out of any point-blank slugging contests. Garrus is great, but he works best when you can keep the enemy off his back.

Synthetic-killing: Garrus' Sniper Rifle is just as good against Synthetics, and Overload gives him the ability to lay waste to Shields. As such, he's a great option against Synthetic foes, as well. Again, you don't want to send him toe-to-toe with a Geth Destroyer; but if you can protect Garrus, he'll help you toast just about any robot.

Giant-killing: Provided you've got a way to deal with the Armor part, Garrus is a great option against boss-type enemies. Concussive Shot works terrifically against Barriers, and Overload is the BEST power against Shields. That only leaves Armor, and if you've got a way to get past that, then you're good.

Against bosses, place Garrus in a good cover spot and let him rain down the powers and high caliber bullets.

Overall: Like Miranda, Garrus is a fine choice for pretty much anything you'll face in Mass Effect 2. He has SOME trouble staying upright, but if you can place him in good cover and protect him, Garrus will make the enemy pay.


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Mass Effect 2 Teammate Combat Profile: Mordin Solus
Posted on Monday, February 14 2011 @ 12:48:01 PST

Name: Mordin Solus

Becomes available to player: Omega- Mordin's Recruitment Mission

Gender: Male

Race: Salarian

Weapon of Choice:

SMG: Don't let the intellectual stereotype fool you, Dr. Solus is fully capable of holding his own with an automatic weapon. He won't win you any gunfights singlehandedly, but that's probably not what you brought him along for, anyway.

Much like Miranda, Mordin wins fights with his powers, but keeping him alive long enough to do so can be problematic. That's why I strongly recommend the SMG for Mordin in most scenarios. This way, in the rare case that he IS forced to shoot it out to survive, he's got an automatic weapon that can hold off most enemies at close range. Mordin will still get overwhelmed if you leave him alone for too long, of course, but the SMG should buy you a little more time to come flying to his aid.

As always, I recommend giving any SMG-wielding teammate the Locust or Tempest as soon as they're acquired. The Locust will give Mordin more long range firepower, while the Tempest is slightly better at holding off an advancing enemy. Which one is more effective depends on the situation, so choose accordingly.

Heavy Pistol: There's really only one scenario I can think of where Mordin should be using the Heavy Pistol; and that's against an unsupported boss. If you've got an YMIR Mech, a Scion, or a Harbinger that's facing you down all alone, you might as well switch Mordin to the Heavy Pistol for a little extra damage. It probably won't be too noticeable, but I like its chances slightly better than the SMG.

To this end, I recommend equipping Mordin with the heaviest pistol in your arsenal. If you've got the appropriate DLC, that means the Phalanx. Otherwise, go with the Hand Cannon. Since maximum damage is all that matters here, either of these pistols is a significant upgrade over the faster Predator.


Incinerate: Incinerate is Mordin's bread and butter. It's essentially a big fireball, and armored villains everywhere lie sleepless at night in fear of the devastating effect of this terrific tech power. It's even better against armor than Warp, and while the power wheel might indicate that it doesn't work on Shields, Incinerate does, in fact, work quite nicely against Shields. Also noteworthy: Mordin is the only squadmate with access to this sweet power.

Consequently, upgrading Incinerate to its highest rank should be priority number one. Once you get there, I recommend Area Incinerate. The added damage of Heavy Incinerate can be nice, but even on the highest difficulty levels, it's often more beneficial to greatly damage the armor of several foes than to eliminate one's armor entirely.

Cryo Blast: I only have a limited amount of respect for Cryo Blast. Sure, it can be a lifesaver against charging enemies, but Incinerate just works so much better in most situations. Even against a horde of husks (the enemy which Cryo Blast was seemingly designed for), I'd rather have Mording use Incinerate than Cryo Blast.

The only possible exception to this would be if you absolutely KNEW that Incinerate would not kill a foe that you absolutely NEEDED to slow down. A charging Krogan or Geth Prime, perhaps? Then, I suppose, Cryo Blast would be the better power. But even that is debatable; as Incinerate usually WILL at least stagger an enemy.

I suppose you might as well put some points into Cryo Blast if you can spare them, but certainly not at the expense of Incinerate.

Salarian Scientist: Let's face it- when Mordin's powers are recharging, the good Dr. is a bit of a pansy. The Salarian Scientist "power" helps to shore up this weakness a little bit. With each rank, it gives him bonuses to Shields, Damage, and Health. Since Mordin's survival typically depends upon all of these factors, I recommend leveling up this power once you've leveled up Incinerate all the way.

This way, Mordin can stay alive long enough to use his featured fireball more than just once per fight.

Neural Shock: Neural Shock is Mordin's bonus power. It has somewhat the same effect as Cryo Blast; except it only works against organics. This does not bode well for it. I'm not a fan of situational powers anyway, and those that are situational AND only work against one enemy type? Yeah, not great.

That said, if you try out Neural Shock and somehow prefer it to Cryo Blast, then by all means- max it out. I strongly recommend leveling one of the two all the way and completely ignoring the other. They're sort of redundant powers, if you ask me.

Organic-killing: Mordin has Incinerate. Naturally, that means he's great against any organic enemy not using a Barrier. Provided you've got some other way to neutralize Barriers, however, Mordin can help you blaze through any organics you find quite nicely. This goes double on higher difficulty levels- where most of the organic enemies you face WILL have Armor (even Husks).

Mordin isn't useless once he's dropped the enemies' defenses, either. Cryo Blast OR Neural Shock will stop any defenseless organic in its tracks. Mordin is your anti-krogan. Keep that in mind.

Synthetic-killing: Ehhh...Mordin wouldn't be my first choice against synthetic enemies. Mechs DO tend to have Armor on the higher difficulties; so he's not useless, but I don't recommend him. Against Geth, Mordin is even less helpful, since they ALL tend to have Shields. Incinerate DOES work on Shields, but not as well as other powers.

In short- Mordin isn't defenseless against synthetics, but he isn't your best option, either. He's a fine choice if you suspect you'll be facing BOTH synthetics AND organics, however.

Giant-killing: Provided you can protect his squishy carcass, Mordin is an excellent squadmate against the game's boss-type enemies. Why? Most bosses have armor, and most bosses completely ignore cover. This means that Mordin's Incinerate will work on them pretty much every time.

Overall Combat Effectiveness: For anything but Geth, Mordin is just what the doctor ordered; IF you can protect him. If you can't protect Mordin, however, he isn't going to last long. Keep that in mind if you're not terribly keen on sending your squadmates to cover at the beginning of every single battle. There are other squadmates who are much better at surviving when you ignore them.


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Mass Effect 2 Teammate Combat Profile: Miranda Lawson
Posted on Wednesday, February 9 2011 @ 08:43:18 PST

Name: Miranda Lawson

Becomes available to player: Freedom's Progress

Gender: Female

Weapon of Choice:

SMG: The SMG is a sweet weapon. Not the most accurate tool available, but with its high rate of fire and large weapon clip, there's plenty of room for error. This is a good thing. Especially for Miranda. Because while she may BRAG to Shepard that she can cap a mech's cranium at 100 yards, Miranda's really not much of a gunfighter. She's not completely worthless, of course, but if you're depending on HER trigger finger for effective fire support, expect to be spending some Q.T. with the post-death load screen.

Miss Lawson's no Annie Oakley, and that's why I highly recommend switching Miranda to her trusty SMG at the beginning of most every mission. It's her best close-range defensive option, and she can use it quite effectively to defend her position while she waits for you to call down her biotic and tech powers (because that's why you brought her, anyway).

Kasumi's DLC makes the SMG an even more attractive option right from the start of the game, because you can go grab the peerless Kassa Locust within an hour or so of starting a new character. I highly recommend doing this, as the Locust is easily 1000 times better than your starting SMG. It's faster, deadlier, and more accurate; and considering how many of your squadmates use the SMG, the sooner you can add it to your arsenal, the better.

Once you acquire the Tempest on Tali's recruitment mission, your SMG choice gets a little more difficult. The Tempest, like the Locust, is fully automatic; and while it's considerably less accurate, it's a freaking volcano up close. This trade-off makes the two SMGs about even, so have Miranda equip whichever one you prefer.

My suggestion: For most missions, the Locust's accuracy makes it generally more effective. However, if you think you're about to face husks, bugs, varren, or other similar charging enemies, let Miranda take the Tempest. The bigger clip helps.

Heavy Pistol: Only have Miranda use the heavy pistol when it's obvious that the limited stopping power of an SMG just won't cut it. Against multiple regenerative krogan, YMIR mechs, and bosses, the SMG's spray can seem to bounce like rice off a turtle's back. I recommend relying primarily on Miranda's biotic and tech powers in these situations, but having her switch to the heavy pistol doesn't hurt, either.

For Miranda and all other pistol-packing squad members, I strongly recommend the Phalanx heavy pistol (if you've got it). It's like a mini sniper rifle. If you don't have that DLC, the Hand Cannon is the next best option. Either pistol is a significant upgrade over the initial one, and since your teammates don't have to worry about ammo consumption, you might as well give them the heaviest pistols they can carry.


Warp: Miranda has arguably the most versatile power set of any team member, and her biotic Warp is the featured dish. And boy, can she dish it out.

Warp? What is it good for? Absolutely everything.

Got a husk infestation? Warp those fools.

Charging krogan crushing your mellow? Have Miranda slap him with a Warp.

Asari Vanguard giving you the blues? Hit her with some sweet Warp music.

Quite simply, if it isn't shielded, Warp will work. That's all you need to know. Warp is Miranda's best power, and it should be maxed out as soon as you can spare the points. Heavy Warp does more straight damage, so if you think you'll be having trouble with bosses, pick that one. Otherwise, pick Unstable Warp, as it makes for some devastating biotic power combos.

Overload: As if Warp weren't enough, Miranda also gets Overload. In essence, this means that there isn't a single enemy in the ENTIRE GAME that can't be affected by one of Miranda's powers. Overload is the yang to Warp's yin, and should be used in the instance that Warp is somehow ineffective.

Is Overload worth spending the extra points to upgrade fully? It's your call, really. I typically only upgrade Miranda's Overload to level three, but I've fully upgraded it before, and the two power evolution choices ARE quite nice. Heavy Overload is self-explanatory- higher damage, but Area Overload is the real gem here; as it allows Miranda to drop the shields of an entire squad. If YOUR Shepard doesn't have a viable option against shields, fully upgrading this power for Miranda might be worth a look.

Cerberus Officer: If you're going to max out another one of Miranda's powers, this should be it. Sure, it's not really a power, but the bonuses to squad weapon damage that Miranda receives at the higher levels of this "power" make the points well worth it. I highly recommend selecting Cerberus Leader when you get there, because it allows for the highest squad weapon damage possible.

Slam: Everyone seems to LOOOOVE biotic Slam. I do not. Yeah, it looks cool, but Miranda's other two powers are so much better that Slam seems like a bit of an afterthought. Just like Pull and Throw, you have to drop an enemy's other defenses before Slam will do ANYTHING. At that point, why waste time with theatrics when you can just finish the poor sap? Slam is a strictly situational power, and I don't value it very highly.

If you insist on letting Miranda use it, I guess you could put a few extra points into Slam, but I strongly discourage maxing it out fully. There are much better options.

Organic-killing: Miranda is great against organics. Organic enemies can be seen using all three types of personal defense options: Armor, Shields, and Barriers. Miranda has an answer for each. Use Warp and Overload accordingly.

Miranda's only weakness against organic foes is that she lacks a true knockdown power for a good portion of the game. She's great against enemy defenses, but not so great in a point-blank slugfest. This means that charging varren, husks, and krogan can sometimes close too quickly and take her down. Once Miranda gets Slam, it helps a little bit, but it's still something to worry about. If you're faced with any of the aforementioned enemies, place Miranda WAY in back and defend her while she uses her powers to thin the crowd.

Synthetic-killing: Miranda has Overload. Against synthetics, that's really all you need to know. Synthetic enemies have shields. Overload is the scissors to a shield's paper. Overload wreaks EVEN greater havoc on unshielded synthetics.

Robots sometimes like to use Armor, as well, but that's no problem for Miranda either, since she's got this other little power called Warp. Warp's great for armor. Perhaps you've heard of it.

Giant-killing: Miranda is great against both synthetics and organics, but it's against the heavy hitters that Miranda REALLY shines. Since both of her primary powers excel at taking large chunks out of enemy defenses, they're perfectly suited for taking out bosses in short order. Essentially, if you can keep Miranda out the boss' crosshairs, she's fully capable of killing it by herself.

Overall Usefulness: Miranda's probably the best all-around teammate in Mass Effect 2. She's terrific against organics, just as effective against organics, and is the single MOST helpful option against the game's many boss-caliber foes.

Miranda's only weakness is that she's somewhat helpless at close range. If she's surrounded by husks, cornered by a krogan, or caught by a Geth Destroyer, Miranda WILL die. The remedy: don't let the enemies get close (duh!). Put her in the best cover you can find. Let her take out enemy defenses while you and the other squadmate draw the brunt of their fire. Once Miranda has turned their lifebars to that beautiful red color, finish the fools off.

Last time, I said Jacob was an All-rounder and compared him to ketchup. Well, Miranda is an All-rounder, as well, but she's better. So I guess that makes her "better ketchup." Miranda's great against everything- provided you can keep her standing.


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Mass Effect 2 Teammate Combat Profile: Jacob Taylor
Posted on Thursday, February 3 2011 @ 12:16:12 PST

This is the first post in my GR-exclusive series of Mass Effect 2 squad member profiles. Over the course of the next several entries, I'll be breaking down the unique combat abilities of each of Shepard's teammates in the ...   read more...

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