Mass Effect 2: Bioware’s “Suicide Mission” Concept

In a videogame, getting virtually killed usually means a trip to the Game Over screen. This is one of the only things about videogames that hasn’t changed since the very first Mario game to Mass Effect on Xbox 360. After the protagonist of a game dies, which is always avoidable, the only recourse is to load up the game again and try again.

With Mass Effect 2, that’s no longer the case. Those who played the original Mass Effect will know that making the wrong calls in a tough mission could result in some of your teammates dying: permanently. While this was uncommon in the RPG genre, it wasn’t unheard of: Final Fantasy fans still mourn Aeris’ death at the hands of the nefarious Sephiroth in FFVII. However, Aeris was only dead for the remainder of FFVII: any squad members who died in the first Mass Effect will remain dead in Mass Effect 2 and 3. This continuity creates a story that actually changes with how you play throughout an entire trilogy of videogames, something that has never been done before.

Glowing eyes in a videogame can mean only one thing. Pure evil.
Glowing eyes in a videogame can mean only one thing. Pure evil.

However, Mass Effect 2 isn’t content to just revolutionize games by making a consistent, customizable story that’s different for everyone who plays it. They’re taking it further than anything else out there, by making it possible for your entire squad, including the protagonist Commander Shepard, to be killed, but actually beat the game in doing so. Not only that, but the game won’t simply end with your team’s suicide mission. If you survive the final mission in Mass Effect 2, the game continues on, much as it does other open world games like Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, Fallout 3 or Fable II. If your Shepard and his team die in the final mission of the main story, you obviously won’t be able to continue to fly around the galaxy after that. Being dead has its disadvantages, after all. Not only that, but in Mass Effect 3, your Shepard won’t be there either if he bit the dust during Mass Effect 2.


That’s quite a bit harsher than the usual “try it again and beat it in 5 minutes” penalty that dying in videogames entails. The knowledge that you and your team could bite the dust with serious implications if you aren’t careful should serve as quite an incentive to play carefully throughout the main story. Oh, and you’ll want to treat your teammates well: if they aren’t loyal enough to you, they might just bail out themselves when the going gets tough, rather than stick around in what might be a suicidal final mission. As Casey Hudson of Bioware puts it in his IGN blog: “As in real life, not being able to keep living is really the main down-side of death. So if you care about playing the next game with your character, make sure you survive this one.”

Apparently Apple makes giant robots as well as iPhones in the future.
Apparently Apple makes giant robots as well as iPhones in the future.

This aspect of Mass Effect 2 is quite unprecedented. The first thing that comes to my mind is how Bioware could design a final mission so incredibly tough that you succeed, but lose all of your squadmates and Shepard in the process. But on the other hand, if you’re prepared enough, with the most loyal team and the most firepower in the galaxy, you might actually make it through intact. This sounds incredibly hard to balance, especially since you can continue playing in the Mass Effect 2 setting afterward if you survive. However, if anyone can do it, it’s Bioware. Mass Effect would have been one of the best RPGs ever made even if it didn’t have the decision mechanics, but Bioware proved they had the skills to do something that noone else had really done in the industry before with truly different story endings and outcomes dependent on what the player decides. I can’t think of a better gameplay incentive to try and survive a really difficult challenge than being able to continue using your character after the game’s main story is complete, and into Mass Effect 3.

Mass Effect 2 is scheduled to release in early 2010, for the Xbox 360 and PC platforms. Be sure to check out our E3 2009 preview of the game.

Article from

Share This Post

9 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. That… you know, that really is innovative. In Baldur’s Gate 2, you could recruit Jahira, Edwin, Minsc, and you could meet Quale, Xan, and that crazy mage guy who screams “Stop touching meeeee!”. Even if they died in the first one.

    In fact, Baldur’s Gate 2 pokes at the inconsistency by adding a dialog option saying “You’re supposed to be dead.”, which gets fobbed off with excuses.

    Having people die and stay dead in a separate game though, I don’t think that’s ever been done at all. Maybe in some tabletop games I’ve taken part in, but never a videogame.

  2. Yeah, having your squadmates stay dead through the trilogy alone is more than any other game, but having ALL of them, including the playable character, die and stay dead within the storyline, that’s crazy.

    Considering how cinematic the first Mass Effect was, it’s almost like a movie where all of the main characters can die, or all of them can survive. This is getting to the part of videogames where they’re making use of their interactive nature for the narrative as well as the gameplay. I guess the story actually is part of the gameplay in a game like Mass Effect.

  3. OrganizationXIII · Edit

    It’s rare that they can pull off such huge consequences in a story. I mean, look at Persona 4, you can be a real player and have nearly 2-dozen close friends, and it hardly makes a twitch on the story. The only major choice you get to make determines if you get the bad ending or the good ending. (Although, they did hide the true ending fairly well)

    I’ll have to get Mass Effect once I get a new 360, it truly is remarkable.

  4. Can’t say I’ve heard of Persona 4, but yeah, there are definitely other games moving in the right direction as well. Molyneux definitely wants games like Fable II to be a unique experience for everyone who plays it, but there are still flaws of course.

    Same with games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion.

  5. I love the innovation of this game, but at the same time, I don’t like the risk involved with it. Life happens, and things out of our control might cause a major failure. I feel like there should be a safeguard or option play. I’m just not fond of the idea that it all goes poof with no options for a re-do, which is part of the fun of playing in the first place.

  6. Orrymain, you don’t need to worry about not having the option for a re-do, you can ALWAYS load up an earlier save and do it again, if you want.

    Of course, that’s not as cool as doing it right the first time, but it’s better than losing the Shepard you’ve had from Mass Effect 1 and 2 for the final game.

    Sorry if I didn’t make that clear in the article.

  7. I think this is really cool, I like that you do have the option to go back to an earlier version, or maybe to the beginning and make a whole different game sequence. If this is successful I am sure we will see alot more developers doing it

  8. I know I must be really slow in getting new games but hey at least finally (2days ago) I finished mass effect. Well…I am unbelivebly impressed. It’s like watching a movie where you get to choose what to do. Sure that was the basic idea of games but this IS a movie. I just realized I should have played a Bruce Willis character. It would suit the universe nicely.

    Can’t wait for the 2nd part. I just wish I can play it at full details. 🙁
    stupid notebook…
    Oh yea anybody have any suggestions on cheap and powerful notebooks? I know I’m asking for too much but it’s worth a shot. 🙂

Post Comment