Folks, humanity has been counting down the days, and we've finally reached that inevitable moment: the Reapers are on the horizon, and will invade the planet Earth this March. Mass Effect 3 will be upon us, and all of the galaxy's Shepards - both male and female- will begin their journey to conclude the current gen's most definitive RPG franchise. This blog series will pay tribute to the franchise as we brace ourselves for the upcoming finale by chronicling my own journey and experiences with the Mass Effect series. We'll continue the complete review of the franchise thus far with a look at the second installment, Mass Effect 2. DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE REVIEW, SPOILERS MAY BE PRESENT.


After the Citadel was saved, Shepard was recognized by all of the races in Council space. Depending on your actions throughout the first Mass Effect, you either were recognized as a legend, or a reckless vigilante. The original Council could still be alive, or they could've died, replaced by an all-human one. Wrex might even have died as well; either Kaidan or Ashley could've been a distant memory, due to their sacrifice on Virmire. These were all but a few of numerous choices that you, Commander Shepard, influenced, with repercussions that would continue to reverberate in equally dramatic and subtle ways during your experience in Mass Effect 2.

Regardless of your choices however, one thing is certain: despite all of your efforts to motivate the Council to mobilize against the Reapers, the lack of evidence has led them to doubt you yet again, dismissing Sovereign as a mere Geth construct used by the rogue Spectre Saren. Shepard's now stuck scouring throughout space for Geth activity with the crew of the Normandy. Mass Effect 2 begins here, in the wake of an unexpected new enemy that completely changes Shepard's fate and sets the tone for the rest of the game.

Enter the Lazarus Project. After being killed by a surprise attack from an advanced alien ship and torn from his crewmates, Shepard is literally reconstructed and by some miracle, brought back to life, only to discover that Cerberus, the rogue organization Shepard clashed with in the past, is responsible for the feat. This creates a tense relationship between Shepard and the organization's leader, The Illusive Man, as Shepard reluctantly joins forces with the notorious organization to defeat the Collectors, the Reapers' latest pawns; they are abducting human colonists for an unknown purpose. The premise reflects a radical shift, with a darker story filled with surprising twists.

Mass Effect 2 continued the first game's stellar narrative by doing the unprecedented: allowing the importation of save data from ME1 profiles so that the choices you made would be reflected in your latest campaign. It was an idea so ingenious one would wonder why it hadn't happened earlier, especially in franchises with recurring characters. However, what was most important about this, apart from the perks you got, was that the story you'd shaped and begun to craft could be continued. The universe you'd established in your interactions would return, including the relationships, accomplishments, and tough decisions you made... along with their consequences. Shepard's story essentially was preserved - save a couple glitches- and a propos, your story.

In addition, Shepard had already died once; choosing to use the Omega Relay to reach the Collectors - no one who did this had ever returned - could lead to Shepard's undoing yet again. Thus, this tangible threat connected us to the sequel's main drama unlike other titles before it. The new relationships that developed, in addition to a few older ones, would ensure that our experience, no matter the outcome, was one that remained authentic, unique, and exciting.

I can't tell you how shocked I was to meet Fist while exploring Omega, the perfect counterpoint to the Citadel: a hub dominated by an aristocracy of mercenary gangs that its leader Aria, an extremely formidable Asari, ruled without contest. The thug who once controlled Chora's den was now a pitiful dockworker living his days out with regret for what I'd done to his reputation. He wasn't the only face I'd see, however. Helena Blake, once a crime leader, was now a social worker, after I'd forced Blake to disband her group. I ran into numerous others I'd met as my adventures continued, and marveled at the different consequences my actions had caused: I'd saved the Rachni in one playthrough, and was excited when I met the Queen's representative on Illium.

The Council I'd saved were troubled by my association with Cerberus, but nonetheless were willing to reinstate me as a Spectre... as long as I remained outside of Council space. Wrex, the Krogan I'd convinced to destroy the breeding facility, was now the leader of his people on Tuchanka. I would also learn that my actions had even inspired the creation of a flawed VI; numerous stores I visited also eagerly welcomed my endorsements for a discount. If my deeds had been any different - and in some playthroughs they were - then the consequences were as well. However, as with any enthralling narrative, what made this fascinating concept more than a gimmick were the characters.