If you are a PS3 owner that's wondering where to find the original Mass Effect for the gaming console, don't bother. It does not exist on the PS3. That's unfortunate, because PC and Xbox 360 owners had the ability to play the original, and whatever decisions and paths they took could be uploaded into the sequel to continue the story. Don't fret, because while you won't be able to play the original on your PS3, you will be able to download an interactive comic when you purchase Mass Effect 2. You can make choices in the comic, with each leading you down a different path. When finished, you can import your data into Mass Effect 2 and begin your new quest.
Mass Effect 2 takes place in a futuristic world somewhere in space, two years after the original. Commander Shepard is the main character, and you essentially witness his death in the beginning of the game. Shepard gets revived, however, thanks to the help of a pro-human group called the Cerberus. Although Cerberus is pro-human, it's a rather ruthless organization that will do whatever it takes to survive. The group revived Shepard to solicit his help, as human space colonies are being overrun and disappearing at the hands of the Collectors, a race of violent alien beings. The Illusive Man is the leader of the Cerberus, and you, Shepard, must repay him by helping to fend off the Collectors to protect mankind.
While Shepard is the main character at the center of all the galactic chaos, he does have the help of some powerful friends to assist him along his journey. When you play the game, you can choose two teammates at a time in your efforts to defeat the Collectors. It's your duty to assemble the most powerful team possible, so choose wisely.
Characters come from different parts of the galaxy and bring different powers and perspectives to the table. This allows for some nice interaction between characters, and also introduces an element of teamwork into your strategy. The characters also tend to grow on you throughout the game, and since they join you in your quest, there's a vested interest to see them succeed as well.
The developers of the game did a great job in making the characters more than just on-screen avatars, as they each have varied voices, facial expressions, and personality quirks that create a sense of camaraderie. Over time, characters also seem to develop, giving Mass Effect 2 some cinematic value as well.
Dialogue is one of the most important elements in Mass Effect 2. Throughout the game you will find yourself interacting with other characters. This is not done in your typical "sit back and watch" style, however. As the conversations carry on, you will be given the option to respond in different ways. This gameplay element is referred to as the Paragon/Renegade choice system, and it will greatly affect how the story develops.
The Paragon side of the spectrum is more compassionate, caring, and righteous. The Renegade side will make decisions that are more ruthless and less emotional. Whichever side you choose to play, watching the game unfold as a result of your decisions is entertaining in itself. Your choices and virtual attitude will also determine how your teammates react. If you are loyal and employ Paragon decisions concerning them, they will be loyal as well. If not, expect for some negative friction. Play your cards right, and you may even get a romantic connection.
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