Since weapon upgrades affect your entire team the only place where changing your loadout makes a difference is with Shepard's heavy weapon. Each has slightly different uses (particle beam vs missile launcher, for example) and heavy weapons are the only ones whose ammo is scarce. Access to specialty ammo has changed from the first game too; special ammo types are now available on the biotic power wheel rather than being a weapon-level modification handled in the equipment screen. Some characters can develop warp or shredder rounds, but it’s all done quickly and easily through biotics. It’s a relief after the first game’s convoluted menu screens.
There are also character specific upgrades you can develop in the lab. You can research custom biotic amps for Jack or special health tonics for Grunt, for example, or even upgrade the ship itself. It's up to you how you want to spend your hard-earned money and resources. Speaking of resources, than brings us to...
Above: That's no moon... oh, wait
The mining minigame consists of holding down the left trigger while sweeping the scanner across the surface of the planet. When you've found something, the controller vibrates and the readings on the line graph spike up. That's your cue to fire a probe and collect your resources. Conceptually, it would work if it didn't take so damn long to scan each planet. It just gets more and more irritating every time you're forced to endure it. Want to build that sweet shotgun upgrade you just found? Get ready to piss away half an hour or more sweeping the solar system for platinum. This tedious minigame is a letdown after the masterfully paced combat and story.
Our bittersweet reunion with our love interest from the first game was utterly ruined because we had to have that extra +5% health. Well, you never know when shooting might break out, right? On the topic of armor, upgrades and customization felt a bit sparse throughout the game, with new options coming few and far between. In contrast to the relative scarcity of new armor in the game, we couldn't help but note the diversity of armor on offer through a variety of external channels.
Above: Consumer loyalty programs: which will you succumb to?