As a fan of Mass Effect and the sequel, I've created a character for each class, each originally imported from the first in the franchise. After some consideration however, I thought I'd create a seventh from scratch just to see what choices this "canon" Shepard would make. Those who've played the first know that Shepard made several critical decisions that would overlap into the sequel, from whether or not an entire race would perish, to the lives of two of your squad mates. This level of variability makes Mass Effect 2 one of the most personal and engaging games to date, and I wanted to see if playing the game without importing my character had any advantages. As I've come to find out, the "canon" story doesn't hold a candle.

It would seem that having this feature for new players unfamiliar with the first is a great way to keep from limiting the game's appeal. After all, it does help prevent them from being alienated by allowing them to witness the effects of their character's actions. To some extent, Bioware succeeds at connecting the player with the world featured in the game. However, the most important results often seem more like a punishment to new players than a solution to a problem caused by the game's engaging experience. For instance, I was surprised by the "canon" Shepard's choices, as I painfully learned that my female Shepard sacrificed the Council in the battle of the Citadel and also killed Wrex. In his place? A knockoff by the name of Wreav. You don't get to see the human Council, even if you ported a save in which you sacrificed the original members.

Judging from the news updates heard in the Citadel and Illium, it seems the "canon" Shepard is also genocidal - those who played the first know about the weighty decision of whether or not they will spare the young Rachni Queen, and effectively, the future of an entire sentient race in the Noveria mission. Shepard had also committed the cardinal sin of choosing Udina as the Council leader as well. So much for "canon," right? The fact that I had no control over these choices, all-the-while knowing the alternative outcomes, only made playing with the "canon" Shepard instead of my imported ones even more uncomfortable, although I still have enjoyed the incredible story and game play.  This doesn't include the fact that all the characters you met in side missions don't show up either. I would like to iterate that this complaint is not about making some profound philosophical statement or demand. Anyone who looks up what is considered to be the "canon" Shepard will see that the Shepard offered to players is far from "canon". In the end, this tawdry rant is about Bioware's failure to meet a promise they made to newcomers.

In retrospect, it's obvious that not importing your character and expecting to get an equal experience to that of those who've done so is a serious disservice with little benefits. While I admire the consideration Bioware placed in respect to their gaming audience, I would advise them to take more care into how they handle the third installment's default Shepard. I'd like to see an option for either a Paragon or Renegade default Shepard, instead of their half-hearted offering in the second. Perhaps also, as was done with those importing their Shepards, the chance to see the major choices either Shepard has made, so that those new to the experience won't go into the gaming experience blindly.