In the upcoming Mass Effect 2, "Your actions really do matter," says Project Director Casey Hudson in the ME2 E3 highlight reel - and making certain choices will lead to a final, complete ending in which Commander Shepard dies for good. Whoops, spoilers.
Now, we've already seen one "death" of Mass Effect protagonist Commander Shepard - in the destruction of the cool ship Normandy - but as everybody knows, you can't count a good hero out just because their spaceship got blown up. Since when has that ever stopped anybody?
The end, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. With Mass Effect 2, the team at BioWare has been trying to put together a universe where the player's choices really do matter, as seen in this video highlighting some of the features demonstrated at last month's E3. Shepard can bypass the real-time conversations with interrupts (such as shoving a hostile and stonewalling informant out of a window mid-sentence), s/he must choose the right companions in order to deal with some of the most dangerous individuals in the galaxy, and so on.
Mess that up, and Shepard's time has come. "One of the endings - although what we're showing in the demo is not one of the endings - one of the complete endings to Mass Effect 2 has Commander Shepard dying - permanently." Given that one of the hooks to draw people into the Mass Effect would-be trilogy is that progress made in one game will carry over into the next, one has to wonder exactly what they'd do with Mass Effect 3 if a player's story ended with Shepard's death.
The developers have discussed plans regarding how they would stop said gamers from going back and just reloading from a save - apparently, the last point at which one can save is too late to change anything - but I'm still a bit skeptical. Like hobbits, gamers are tricksy little folk, and I'd bet that someone will find a way around it.
Still, it's a cool idea in theory - and from the footage in that video, the game's looking pretty sweet (I'm rather fond of the enemy reactions when you shoot them, personally). I suppose we'll just have to wait and find out how it all goes down - and whether or not gamers can find a way around BioWare's attempt to make a game where your choices actually have weight. Because they'd just be lame like that.