Exploring the #18 Position…
It’s not often that a video game franchise kills off their main character, but that’s exactly what BioWare® did at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. You start off the game getting ambushed by a new, unknown enemy and having your ship blasted to pieces, leaving you plummeting to your death through the atmosphere of an unknown planet. Then the title screen comes up. Talk about a gutsy way to start a game.
YOU’RE DEAD. BUT IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL.
BioWare did a great job laying the foundations of an epic science fiction universe in the first installment of the Mass Effect series; the world-building is on par with Tamriel or Azeroth when it comes to lore, backstory and depth. The sequel raised the stakes. Fresh off your victory over Saren and the Reaper Sovereign, you and your crew are combing through space trying to clean up any remaining Geth when your ship gets blasted to pieces, and no, you can’t escape. Commander Shepard falls to his/her death on the planet below.
Don’t worry, the game doesn’t end there. You wake up in a laboratory that is under attack, having been brought back from the dead and rebuilt from almost the cellular level. Your benefactor is a pro-human organization called Cerberus. They are led by the mysterious Illusive Man, who views you as being humanity’s only hope of surviving the Reapers. You are provided with a new ship, a rebuilt SSV Normandy, but this time sporting Cerberus markings. He even recruits Joker, (a fan-favorite from ME1), to come and work for you as your pilot.
SAVING THE UNIVERSE? ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.
The Illusive Man’s motivation appears to be a series of attacks against human colonies that leave no survivors. He gives you dossiers on various people around the galaxy that would be a good fit to join your crew and help investigate these attacks. You spend the game building a crew & gaining their loyalty. You do, of course, eventually discover who is behind these attacks; a race called the Collectors. They get their name from their history of collecting things and beings via odd requests, such as “two left handed Salarians” or “a Krogan born from parents of feuding clans”. They are enigmatic and almost mythical in that they are rarely ever seen. They live in an area of space behind the Omega-4 mass relay. Unfortunately, only the Collectors have ever been known to return from beyond that relay.
You and your crew have to prepare to venture beyond the Omega-4 relay. You have to effectively evaluate how prepared you are to attempt the journey beyond the relay, not knowing what is on the other side, while still fighting against time and the continuing attacks on human colonies. Mass Effect 2 does a great job of providing a sense of urgency in the game, along with well written characters and a story that really does draw you in and make you care about what happens. The universe BioWare created with the Mass Effect franchise is this generation’s Star Wars, and this game is the franchise’s Empire Strikes Back. You owe it to yourself as gamer to go out and play this franchise, especially Mass Effect 2.