When the original Mass Effect was released for the Xbox 360 back in 2007, the industry was practically knocked off of its feet. The game raised the bar for character driven RPGs, storytelling in video games, and was one of the few games that truly made us feel like we were (finally) in the “next generation” of gaming. With that one game alone, BioWare proved that it wasn’t just a one-trick pony in terms of their success with the Knights of the Old Republic series. They showed the world that when it came to telling a video game story, they set the standard(s). Just a few short years later, BioWare surpised everyone and did it all over again with an incredible sequel on the PC and Xbox 360 in the form of Mass Effect 2. The second game earned just as many accolades and as much critical acclaim as the first game and some would argue raised the bar yet again. Meanwhile, jealous gamers in the Sony camp sat on the other side of the aisle wondering if they would ever get to taste the adventure(s) of Commander Shepard and all of the Mass Effect universe’s glory.
Low and behold, one year after the initial release of Mass Effect 2, that same game is launching on the Sony PlayStation 3 and aiming to bring the experience to a whole new gaming audience. While it may have taken them an extra calendar year, the time wasn't wasted. What is arguably one of the best experiences in the history of video games is now here for us all to enjoy. The new game includes all of the content that was slowly rolled out to 360 (and PC) gamers over the course of 2007 and 2008 and uses a sleek new in-game engine, making this the best version of the game to date.
Since Mass Effect 2 is such a story- and character-driven experience, I won’t give away to many story details out of fear of ruining anything for anyone who may not have played the game. Players assume the role of Commander Shepard, a decorated soldier and an individual widely heralded as the hero of humanity. Shepard isn’t your ordinary game hero / heroine but instead the work of your own creation. As the player, you will create everything about Shepard, from the biographical background to the physical appearance. Xbox 360 and PC players were able to create their character in the first game and carry them over to the second; this created an experience that catered more to their personal interests. They have already had an entire game to mold and shape their Shepard into the person they wanted him / her to be. PS3 owners don’t have that luxury due to licensing and distribution issues with the original title. Microsoft owns the distribution rights to the first Mass Effect game and it will likely never see release on a PlayStation console.
Due to these issues, you are forced to start fresh with Mass Effect 2 for the PS3. You shape the personality and the reputation of your character, which in turn creates a personalized experience for you during the game. After you have “designed” your character, you find yourself aboard your trusty ship the Normandy and subject to an ambush in deep space. Your ship is completely destroyed, your crew scattered, and you will be left for dead. When you awaken, it’s two years later and you discover that you have been brought back from the dead thanks to the dedication and resources of an organization that you have despised over the course of your military career: Cerberus. Now you find yourself in a position where the only people who seem to trust you are the one’s that you trust the least. This is the burden and journey that is Mass Effect 2 and what drives the main story from start to finish.
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