Mass Effect 2 begins weeks after the ending of the first game. While patrolling for geth, the Normandy is attacked by an unknown starship, and many crew members die, including Navigator Pressly. The remainder of the crew is then forced to evacuate. During the evacuation, Shepard tosses Joker into the Normandy’s final escape pod before being blasted into space. After a suit breach, Shepard dies of asphyxiation and his/her body is pulled into the orbit of a nearby planet. With the help of former squadmate Liara T’Soni, Shepard’s body is retrieved by a human supremacist organization called Cerberus and made the subject of “Project Lazarus,” whose only goal is Shepard’s resurrection. Once revived, Shepard awakes aboard a besieged station, and escapes with the help of Cerberus agent Jacob Taylor and Lazarus Project head Miranda Lawson. Immediately after, Shepard is given an audience with the Illusive Man, head of Cerberus.
The Illusive Man informs Shepard that entire populations of human colonies are disappearing all over the galaxy; he believes the Reapers are responsible, and are working by proxy through an insect-like species called the Collectors. Shepard is convinced of the Illusive Man’s theory after visiting a recently-attacked colony called Freedom’s Progress, and agrees to help him stop the Collectors by eventually traveling through the Omega-4 Relay, from which no ship has ever returned. Shepard is given command of a new Normandy, piloted by Joker and equipped with an onboard A.I. named EDI.
Shepard recruits four new squadmates – salarian scientist Mordin Solus, former squadmate Garrus Vakarian, biotic convict Jack and genetically engineered krogan Grunt – before receiving intel from the Illusive Man that another human colony called Horizon is under attack. Despite the influence of Harbinger, a powerful Reaper with the ability to assume direct control of random Collectors at will, Shepard successfully stops the attack, though a large portion of the colony’s population is captured. Following the mission, Shepard’s reunion with former squad mate Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams turns sour due to Shepard’s alliance with Cerberus.
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