Mass Effect 2...?

When E3 hit and Mass Effect 2 was officially revealed, we learned that the fate of your Shepard character rests in your hands: your decisions will ultimately determine if (s)he lives or dies. Apparently BioWare felt this needed clarification, and though it explained a few things, it only served to muddy the waters.

I’m sure there’s more nuance to what was said, but isn’t it much more fun to jump to conclusions? (After the jump!)

On the official IGN Mass Effect 2 Blog, Executive Producer Casey Hudson explains that the final mission can end any number of ways, including the death of all or part of your team. Even Shepard is not immune.

Sort of.

Since, as Casey explains it, “Mass Effect is a trilogy about Commander Shepard’s journey”, you still have to play Mass Effect 3 with “a” Shepard character. If you’ve killed off your iteration in ME2, that’s you’re loss.

While it’s easy enough to avoid this (just don’t let him/her die), one has to wonder why this is a legitimate choice when — at any other point in first two games — the death of Shepard means you’ve failed and have to return to a previous save to continue the story. Why then go through the unprecedented effort of creating a truly multi-part but multi-path saga, but then allow the player to make a choice (albeit easily remedied) that by story mandate cannot carry over into the next game?

The blog then goes on and touts how so many choices great and small from ME will come to bear to varying degrees in ME2. Does this mean that some choices are also going to be countermanded for the sake of the overall story? Does our choice of Udina or Anderson for election to the Council matter? Does our letting the original council die matter? What about letting the Rachni go? Or not killing the handful of scientists who allowed plagues and Geth and Thorians to run free?

I guess we’ll find out next year, but it’s still fun to speculate. …Though not that fun. There’s an undertone of worry that this ME fan can’t shake.