Reviews for Razor's Edge
Natureguy85 chapter 8 . 4/7
*Sigh* Another retroactive comment; I liked the small bits of Tali's feelings for Shepard sneaking through in the last chapter, particularly her slip of almost saying she was afraid she'd never see Shepard again. The little teases are nice before jumping in with both feet.

It was an interesting touch having Shepard give Tali the data on the Geth only right before the Collector attack. With her not noticing it, it was like a gift from beyond. That must have made it bittersweet. Tali's overall musings are alright, but I really liked her thoughts on Garrus.

On the one hand, Shepard's comment about Tali's suit could be seen as rather corny. However, I personally like it because of how casual it is. It reminds me that in Shepard's mind, he just saw Tali a couple weeks ago. I'm not sure if that was intentional, but I hope other people see it that way. That time dissonance between Shepard and others could be used in a lot of ways, and even the game didn't do much with it other than the intro and on Horizon.

I liked how you had Shepard realize how stupid his double entendre, or perhaps more accurately, Freudian slip, sounded and had him lampshade it.

Was the line "You've learned more about star ship engineering than most people have ever learned" supposed to be "You've FORGOTTEN more..." or something else? Using the word "learned" twice makes it sound weird.

Remember my comments about Shepard being a jerk to Miranda and Jacob? I like that Garrus makes the comment about Shepard losing his temper. If you keep using the idea of Shepard having changed, those previous incidents will make sense. Character development is one of the most important things in writing, especially with your protagonist. You're on to something here, so don't let it go.

However, Garrus makes a comment about finding out what's eating Shepard. I'm trying to keep in mind that this is a trilogy, so maybe it comes up later, but I didn't feel like we found out what that might be in this story. It's possible that I missed it and will find it as I read through it again while doing this.

Garrus says he needs to finish "calculations". For shame! I know you know what Garrus does because you use it later. Garrus does not calculate. (Bonus points if you get the joke). BOO!

Anyway, back to serious stuff. So Shepard decides to bring two women in skin-tight clothing onto a prison ship and nobody comments or questions the wisdom of that? At least the merc at the docking bay makes a comment.

Why do you detail the standoff at the entry door, but use exposition to skip through the Warden's betrayal and Jack's release? I'd say both of those are better scenes, or at least more important to the events of the Purgatory. The only reason to use the entry door scene is to characterize Shepard with Tali's wondering if Shepard was bluffing and if this was what Garrus was talking about, which is good, don't get me wrong, but Tali isn't really affected by it.

And now we come to what might be the most significant event in the story: the destruction of the Pergatory. I really like Tali's thoughts and words to Shepard. You do a good job of making her think about things, becoming angry and wondering if Shepard has changed, but her spoken lines are also great. It actually reminds me of Abraham asking God if he will destroy the Holy people along with the wicked in Sodom. In case you don't know or don't recall, Abraham "haggles" God into agreeing to not destroy the city if just 10 good people are in there. God destroys the city, which makes it very clear what its make up was.

The fact that Shepard has this conversation and still goes through with it is extremely significant. Think of it like 1st vs 2nd degree murder. In many, if not all, states, if you kill someone in a fit of passion, you will only get 2nd degree. But if you leave, have time to cool down, then come back, you lose that defense. There is nothing wrong with sending Shepard down a darker path in and of itself. However, it has to matter and effect those around him. This is an issue for several reasons and as usual they are based on what you DON'T do with it. As always, it's possible I'm forgetting something later on.

1) We are told later that Tali is a good influence on Shepard, but we never SEE it. She never pulls Shepard off the proverbial edge as he's about to fall over, about to commit another such action.

2) We never see Tali question her feelings. Is this the same John Shepard she fell in love with? Is this the man who mourned Kaidan and saved Feros? Is the old Shepard still in there?

3) There's no "what did you do to him!" scene with Tali and TIM or Miranda.

These are just a few ideas and I'm sure there are others. But big things like this need to matter.
You can, and Shepard does, make an argument for destroying the Purgatory, and that's fine. However, it's still highly morally questionable, into right and wrong, not just Paragon/Renegade. You are approaching Moral Event Horizon territory with this. ( /Main/MoralEventHorizon)

I'm glad it does come up later with Liara, though I think Garrus should have brought it up when discussing his plans for Sidonus with Shepard. But it seems to be dismissed so easily and never comes up again. I feel that this event is far too big a deal to merely come and go.

I think this ends up being my biggest complaint with the story as a whole; you have a lot of cool ideas that I really want to see where you go, and you don't really flesh them out fully. You may want to focus on a few and really go to town with them. Again, if this is all saved for the other two stories, then you can get away with more. I'll definitely finish Dark Witness before I critique the chapter with Liara.

That said, the end of this chapter is fantastic. I love Shepard booting Joker to take the controls himself, Tali's silent tears, and the excellent last two sentences.
Natureguy85 chapter 7 . 4/6
I accidentally posted a chunk of the review before I was done. It's under "Guest".

A few last comments on Garrus' musings is that I like how he brings up specific examples both recent (killing Cathka) and past (the memory Tali will later refer to as Tartarus) of Shepard's Renegade personality. The latter makes me wonder how much Shepard really changed after all. Again, this is great potential character development stuff. Finally, on a lighter note, I like Garrus' use of a Turian simile. I always thought it was silly how casually some of the aliens use certain human phrases in the games, so it's nice to see some alien sayings.

The change to Tali's loyalty mission was interesting. It's a "tell" on the way the story is going since it's the only one you changed massively, other than combining a few later.

I liked Garrus' comment on "stupid plans". I also liked that you didn't go into too much detail on the event Shepard brings up. It is a "noodle incident" ( /Main/NoodleIncident) that we don't need any details on other than to see what Shepard does next.
Guest chapter 7 . 3/31
The dialogue with Chakwas is good. I like her comment about Shepard's mortality and her use of his first name.

I got really excited when you had Chakwas bring up Shepard's facial scars because of his Renegade streak, which will continue. I was expecting you to use the concept of the Renegade action making the scars grow... and then you didn't. It's a great outward sign of who Shepard is becoming on the inside and can be part of him noticing the change in himself. I think it's really a missed opportunity.

The whole conversation between Garrus and Shepard is great. First, I like that they talk about their cybernetics which didn't get done enough in the games. I like Garrus' comment under his breath that leads into them talking about his time on Omega and Garrus saying he tried to be Shepard (Conrad Vakarian? lol). The whole thing really shows their battle brother type relationship, but ends with Shepard still being somewhat the mentor. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is why I didn't like Garrus calling Shepard "Boss". Great section.

I like your description of Zaeed as sounding like an "exasperated parent" because that is how he sounds sometimes, particularly when you talk to him down in his room. The way he talks to Shepard, it's almost a mirror of Shepard's relationship with Garrus, this time Shepard being the less experienced.

Shepard's line ending the section in the cargo bay is perfect.

It's a bit odd to switch to Garrus' perspective for only one section, as opposed to several times with Tali, but I really like the content. Establishing Garrus as the one who sees things in Shepard that others don't is great, and needs to be utilized throughout the story. It's summed up well when Garrus ponders that Shepard is not the same man who defeated Saren.

Then you move into specifics: what Garrus sees is different about Shepard's personality. This needs to be used more and there is a lot you can do. You can have Garrus or Tali discuss it with Shepard or have either go after Miranda with questions, especially considering Cerberus' insistence that Shepard be brought back exactly the same as before. You can have Garrus and Tali argue about it, with Tali worried and Garrus either thinking it's fine or even approving considering his own shift. I know you have them discuss it, but mostly they just resolve to support Shepard and be there for him. It seems like you start to go that way at times, but they you don't in my opinion. I'll address specific moments as they come up. To sum up though, you set up some really smart character development here, and I don't think you follow through on it later.
Natureguy85 chapter 6 . 3/31
Again, I have to go back because I forgot to mention something from last chapter. I really need to use my notes instead of just trying to go from recall. I LOVED Shepard thinking about if he was going to end up like Zaeed. This could be one of his character development themes! I'm hoping to see more that line of thinking in Dark Witness and Requiem. That self-awareness is important given the path Shepard starts to walk.

I like how you refer to the "still empty aquarium" several times throughout the story. It does several things. One, it highlights it as a noticeable accent piece in the room. Two, if you keep bringing it up in similar situations, say, times when Shepard is deep in thought or troubled, it becomes associated with those things. You can then use filling it to represent character development. You do this a bit. The third reason is it makes the audience start wondering "when is Shepard going to finally get some fish, dang it!" This is a small way to keep a reader going, looking for a payoff at the end, which in my view you provide. It's small, but it's fun.

Having Shepard think of and even "speak" to Kaidan was great. A conversation with him similar to the one Shepard has with his father would have been really cool.

Because nothing of particular story importance happens in Grunt's recruitment, it was a good place to use some exposition to move things along. Nicely done.

I didn't care for Garrus input into the conversation about the Genophage for two reasons: one literary and one on character personality. First, the reason it works so well in the game between Mordin and Shepard is that Mordin is also struggling with it internally. The two have a good back and forth, so I didn't like Garrus ganging up on Mordin. Second, while this is your own adaptation and you can take certain liberties with the characters, Garrus makes a comment to Tali in ME1 showing he supports the Genophage, so having him be against it seems odd. You wouldn't know at the time, but he doesn't seem all that keen on curing it in ME3 either.
There is one circumstance where this could work... Garrus' analogies' in your version make it sound like he is suggesting that they should have just wiped out the Krogan. I assumed this wasn't your intent, but if you actually make Garrus take that view, now you have three opinions in there and it could be very interesting indeed. It doesn't take much of a stretch to see ME2 Garrus having that view and it plays nicely against Mordin's comments that the Genophage modification could have had that result but he was just as concerned with that as with the initial problem.

I loved Shepard dismissing the actual science of the Quantum Entanglement device. First, it's some characterization. Shepard is a soldier, not a technical genius or physicist. It makes sense but doesn't dumb down Shepard. Also, it skips details the audience doesn't need to know. While it's fine to hear EDI explain it in the game, the details would be a dull read.

This is somewhat nit-picky, but you mention the Normandy being in stealth above Horizon when it's already been established that the Collectors can detect the Normandy, stealth or not. Also personally sad you didn't include Mordin's fantastic line: "Looking forward to seeing if you survive."

I like how you had the last battle after the Collector ship left. It shows the Collectors as true, mindless drones and expendable assets that they are left behind but continue fighting.

I'm on the fence when it comes to your combat scenes. For the most part, they are dull, with Shepard and crew mowing down weak and incompetent enemies. I know Shepard and crew are good, but they often don't even have to dodge attacks, deal with flanking maneuvers, or any hardship. However, the fighting isn't the focus of the story and those "normal" fights help accent the "boss" fights which are very good, such as the first Harbinger drone and Guld.

Let me be very clear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having Ashley save Shepard from a writing perspective, but having played the games and knowing how much of a jerk the Virmire Survivor is on Horizon, I hated it! I just needed to throw that out there. Thanks.

Well now that I got that done, let's continue. How does Ashley know Shepard is with Cerberus. I mean that he actually is, not the rumors. I suppose it might on Jacob's uniform. In the game, Shepard is the one to bring up Cerberus, and seeing the Virmire Survivor back away upon hearing it is the only good thing about that scene. This isn't a big deal in a FF, I suppose. That said, your version of their introduction is better than what was in the game. In ME2, it started like two people who simply hadn't seen each other in a while. The top introduction option is the worst, particularly if you romanced the VS. The rest of the conversation in your version is good too, and it's an appropriate place to end the chapter.
Natureguy85 chapter 5 . 3/27
Well I can't grief you on typos anymore after seeing all the ones in my own critiques! Ugh!

I forgot to mention last chapter that I really like Garrus' comment on Shepard's face because it's very ironic given his own injury and Shepard's later joke about Garrus having always been ugly.

You give a good intro to Shepard using the concept of "winging it", which is both intelligently pulled out of the game itself from Thane's loyalty mission as well as used nicely as a way of showing the rapport between Shepard and certain other characters. Garrus' comment is a perfect example of how to have aliens play with human metaphors. Well done.

I like Zaeed's joke on Garrus as they are leaving him out of the run into the plague zone (I was worried you were going to send in the injured, non-immune Turian). However, the lighthearted end to that scene contributes to a poor, rough transition from that to the scene at the air fans. You at a minimum need a line about how they actually enter the quarantine zone, but I'd also suggest some text about how they had to fight some mercs and the state of the district. We need a softer ride from A to B. Heck, you could just take what you put right after the line about the rifle fire, change it from past to present tense, and be fine.

Why did you decide to introduce Mordin after the mission? The reader has no clue what Shepard is doing or why they are down in the air control area. This ties into the transition I just mentioned. Now, the order swap itself isn't the issue, but it leads to another problem. Meeting Mordin seems rushed, and while you do capture his manner of speaking verbally, I don't get the feel for just how fast he is talking just from being told it's "a mile a minute". Remember how the game allows you to interrupt him and how he tries..tooo...sloooooww... dooowwn when asked. You need something like this to convey just how manic Mordin is. This may just be something that's hard to do with writing since I can't actually hear him speak. Of course, with how little attention he gets outside of his loyalty mission, you have to decide how much you care about this. It is certainly difficult to give enough characterization and "screen time" to Loads and Loads of Characters.

Also, I wouldn't skip over the scene with Daniel and the Batarians. It's a great opportunity to start characterizing Shepard.

There isn't a ton you can do given that this plot hole is in Mass Effect 2 itself, but what "samples" is Mordin working on? All Shepard has is Veetor's scanner data and film footage. I will give you credit for not magically having a seeker drone!

I like the banter between Joker and Shepard here, including lines from the game, and it's a good way to close the chapter.
DarkComedy chapter 32 . 3/25
Hahaha Farscape reference. Thanks for the laugh.
Natureguy85 chapter 4 . 3/23
Again, Shepard starts the chapter being a jerk, particularly to Miranda. I get the angle of Shepard establishing his command over Miranda, who is just the Cerberus rep. Having Shepard use the word "handler" is perfect. However, you don't set up Miranda that way. She questions Shepard's personal decision, not tactical command decision. She DOES question a command decision in Garrus' recruitment, when Shepard orders her to go lock down the shutters, so you could get away with that scene if you move it.

I find it interesting that you had Shepard kill Cathka rather than just stun him with the tool. This is where I'm really going to start tracking Shepard's Paragon/Renegade alignment. As I do this, remember that Renegade isn't necessarily evil, but it means a tendency towards violent and rash solutions to problems. You can make an argument for this one as these mercs are not good people. However, Shepard is painted as a Paragon by his friends, with Samara even using that exact word at one point, so this is an important thing to pay attention to.

Why does Garrus remove his helmet if he doesn't recognize Shepard because of Shepard's helmet? This makes no sense. However, and I admit this is more opinion that some of these other criticisms, I can not stand Garrus calling Shepard "Boss". Even affectionately, this does not fit their relationship. While in ME1 it was more of a mentoring relationship, Shepard and Garrus become very much equals over the course of ME2 and 3. I know this is before all that, but you use it throughout the story and it just continued to grate on me.

Another minor gripe is that you often have characters awkwardly trying to use human metaphors. This can be done right, but needs variety. You seem to do it the same way most times, which is to have the character question it as they are saying it. You do it twice in this chapter, with the Batarian's reference to kittens (also Mordin comments that cats are extinct now) and Garrus' reference to the Alamo.

I can happily close this chapter on a good note, however. I really like how you set up the remote bombs as a distraction in order to escape. A careful observer of ME2 would wonder how they got an injured Garrus out of there, and you give a plausible solution.
Natureguy85 chapter 3 . 3/23
Where does the Normandy come from? You give no build up or reveal for it; it's just there suddenly. It doesn't need to be some big, epic reveal, though the one in the game was pretty cool, with the lights turning on and the great music playing. It just can't exist out of nowhere. Similarly, you don't identify EDI as the AI, thought this isn't as big a deal in fanfiction because those who played the game would know already.

Joker's comment about Pressley and Miranda is in really poor taste. While it's been 2 years for Joker, for Shepard Pressley might as well have died yesterday, so it would probably get a stronger response from Shepard. Compare it to Joker's comment about the Asari right after the fall of Thessia in ME3. Check a video if you haven't seen it. watch?vZY136KbNVQQ

Having Shepard's thoughts go to both Wrex and Tali together several times is a good way to avoid being too obvious with the romantic interest that will be revealed later.

Having Shepard look over his enhancements and ponder the meaning of being resurrected is great because not only is it a huge deal, but you pick up on something that the game itself ignored until ME3 was almost over. My only complaint about it is that it doesn't really come up again.

Shepard's comments about Miranda's uniform are fun, as many players have thought the same thing.

I like how Shepard calls Tali by her full name, which would have even more impact than just using her first name. As I've also considered the idea, having Tali become angry and not believe it's really Shepard is a completely legitimate idea, though I have always loved the reaction Tali has in ME2. The voice acting was perfect for the line, which helped. I'm not sure which I like better, but this is a completely legitimate way to go.

However, I had a big problem with Shepard's attitude toward Miranda and Jacob in this scene. He comes off as an asshole because, as I mentioned previously, he has shown no problem with Cerberus or either of these people in particular up until this point and Miranda hasn't established any pattern of questioning his orders. This can be fixed with more argument with TIM in their meeting and buildup of distrust between Shepard and Cerberus generally and/or Miranda specifically.

I didn't like Shepard referring to Tali as "Miss Vas Neema" here. I know you utilize this later when Tali is talking to Lia'Viel, but Shepard referring to Tali as Miss vas Normandy during their romance in ME2 was special and significant because of the meaning of the name change and it's importance during the Trial. Shepard and Tali's last lines in her loyalty mission are one of the best exchanges in the entire game, perhaps the series. I personally feel that using it outside of that cheapens its impact later. However, I can see the argument that the contrast highlights the change.

The way you deal with the heavy mech is believable, creative, and shows some thought and experience from Shepard. I may revise my opinion as we go and I read over things a second or third time, but I felt that many of the combat scenes were too easy. I know Shepard and his team are badass pros, but the battles seemed to lack drama. This however, is great.
Natureguy85 chapter 2 . 3/23
A really strong start. As "Sole Survivor", Akuze is the defining moment of Shepard's life and career up until becoming a Spectre. This is important for us to experience. While brief, I think you do a good job of capturing the chaos we can imagine defined this event. Having Shepard's Normandy crew appear is a good twist to show it's not the actual memory and having it lead to Shepard waking up after the Lazarus project is a great way to start off the new story.

Skipping over Jacob's introduction isn't a bad idea, as it doesn't tell us anything about his character. However, while we know Shepard was dead because you said so in the prologue (and we've played the game), Shepard doesn't know that yet, nor has the two year span been revealed to him. So the line about not being a clone doesn't make as much sense until that information has been given to Shepard. For all he knows, it's the next day and he was simply recovered in space.

You also don't mention Wilson other than his death; he just comes out of nowhere and is just "the tech" until Miranda refers to him by name. I would eliminate that sequence and just have Jacob and Shepard meet Miranda there. Everything else is fine. Miranda doesn't really need the "Ice Queen" characterization because you do fine on making her the Illusive Man's pet. The scene in the shuttle is great and ends perfectly.

Referring back to how big a deal Akuze is, Cerberus being responsible for Akuze is a HUGE problem for Shepard. This is not something he should just brush aside, though I know that he must eventually work with Cerberus. This is probably the single most important conversation Shepard will have with TIM, so it ought not to be skipped past via exposition. This will come up again shortly.
Natureguy85 chapter 1 . 3/23
I am going to critique this work, rather than just review it, with an editor's eye. I'll point out things I really like, things that are problems, and some things which are just interesting or I have questions on that are not necessarily bad. Some issues may be resolved with simple explanations.

I have to admit that my critique is somewhat biased by being told beforehand that this Shepard is supposed to be Paragon, and some of my criticisms later will be based on that and can be at least partially set aside if that is not the case. I believe you have made a very Renegade Shepard, and I will detail why as the chapters progress and bring it all together at the end.

My overall impression is that this is a good work. But it's potentially two different stories. One is the storyline of Mass Effect 2, and the other is the character story, specifically romance, which I will not spoil for those who don't already know. As far as telling the story of ME2, it does an ok job. There are some good moments and excellent combining of missions to keep the story from dragging. There are some major issues however, mainly with character development. On the other hand, the romance is well written for the most part and if that is the main focus of the story, with the plot of ME2 being the background for the romance, it is quite a good work.

I will also keep in mind that as fanfiction, the target audience is familiar with the game.

So starting with the actual critique, I don't have much to say about the prologue. It's pretty good. The intro gives a good description of what Spectres are. I actually like the way you start the story with Shepard as the Normandy is being hit. Most importantly, you gave a reason why Shepard is unable to get into the airlock, where it looked strange in the game itself. The scene of the crew meeting after is also nicely done, as you give a little insight into the characters.
JK chapter 2 . 2/24
The dream sequence of the Thresher Maw attacked with Shepard's Normandy crew was a great twist and well done. So far this is good. The only issue is that it needs proof-reading, as a few sentences seem to be missing words.
NIghtwing chapter 36 . 9/16/2013
Enjoyed the story, made for a good read. You did a good job. My thanks to for writing the story and everyone else you had helping! Thank you!

An Avid Reader
Nightwing chapter 34 . 9/16/2013
A very touching chapter! You did good, thanks for not putting an explicit sex scene. After reading this, I dare say it would have ruined the chapter/story.

Well done, that's all I can say.

An Avid Reader
Nightwing chapter 33 . 9/16/2013
Bwhahahahahahahahahahaha. The bet, THE BET! Makes one wonder what the normal crew talk and bet about!
hahahahahahaha that was real good!

An Avid Reader
Nightwing chapter 31 . 9/16/2013
I About had a cat when you had tali thinking that a cat was a duck! That was so funny! hahahahahahaha

on another note, I'm really enjoying the story! You've done a good job!

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