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I loved the original Mass Effect. I've played through it multiple times: I have one character at level 60 (canonical, with which I played through thrice), another at level 50-something (female engineer, with which I played through twice), and another at level 40-something (biotic, with which I played through once).

I've recently ordered Mass Effect 2 on Amazon (for GBP 13, what a deal). My question is, should I start Mass Effect 2 continuing one of my Mass Effect playthroughs or "start afresh"? Do you lose much if you start afresh? What do you gain otherwise? What are your experiences either way? Part of me would like to remain canonical with the series, and continue as BioWare suggests the story goes, but I've heard it's a lame choice.

With my level 60 character, I played through the game three times. Each time I did things differently; on the second playthrough I completed each and every quest, even. Now I can't remember what choices I made. On one playthrough, I even killed Wrex, just for the hell of it. Can I start from any of these characters' playthroughs or just the most recent one (the one at level 60 or the one at level 50, for example)? Can I change any of my choices (I seem to have read that I can't, if that's so, bad show, BioWare).

I'm not really invested in any of my characters; but there are some choices I'd prefer rather than others. (Just for the sake of completeness, the major ones: Ashley and Wrex still alive, the council dead, Anderson the human ambassador, all the characters with their subquests completed, Rachni queen alive...)

Are there any choices which have a big impact in the game, or am I just worrying too much about this?

Thanks for all your input. I've marked this Community Wiki so we can have a decent discussion on the matter; don't hold back!

Update: Thanks to Andy I've found the relevant page in the Mass Effect Wiki relating to continuing Mass Effect playthroughs in Mass Effect 2.

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2 Answers

IMO, you definitely want to import your Mass Effect 1 character into Mass Effect 2. All of the major choices that you made in Mass Effect 1 will be reflected.

For example, at one point you visit the council on the Citadel, and that plays out completely differently depending on whether or not the original council is still alive (same with the choice of who you nominated for the council, Anderson or Udina). The same goes for who you killed on Virmire (Ashley or Kaiden) and if Wrex is still alive.

The same is true for the side quests, to a lesser extent. However most of these only have the follow up in the form of an e-mail to your private terminal on the Normandy, but it's still cool to know that your choices had a lasting effect on the story.

If you had a love interest, it doesn't have a huge impact on Mass Effect 2. When you meet them, you share a brief kiss, but that's about it. You are free to have a new (different) love interest in Mass Effect 2, but apparently that will have some sort of impact in Mass Effect 3.

Bioware did an excellent job continuing the story you started in the first game. If you could make a choice in Mass Effect 1, it is reflected in Mass Effect 2.

As for importing characters, I'm not completely sure about this but I believe that you can import any play through for a given character (it's been a while since I imported my Mass Effect 1 characters). If you don't mind doing another Mass Effect 1 play through, I'd suggest starting again with your level 60 character (or whichever one you want to import), and make all of the decisions that you want to carry over to Mass Effect 2. You could always put the difficulty on easy to help things go faster.

If you want to know how a given quest affects Mass Effect 2, you can always check the Mass Effect Wiki.

If you don't import a Mass Effect 1 character, the game basically makes the big Mass Effect 1 choices for you. Also, some dialog that is present for an imported character is not present for a new character (mostly minor things, but some text wouldn't make sense if you didn't play the first game).

Finally, at the start of Mass Effect 2 you are able to change your class and physical appearance (don't worry, it makes sense in the context of the story). You can't change your sex or name, however.

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I might just do a quick playthrough on easy for my level 60 character then, although I've played through so many times already. Cheers for the advice! –  Humphrey Bogart Sep 14 '10 at 11:37
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My favorite part was SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER the long conversation you have with that woman who's helping out the rachni queen. I hope they play a role in the third game! –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 14 '10 at 16:15
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I don't envy Bioware's task of making ME3. The amount of choices they have to account for between ME1 and 2 must be staggering. –  Adeese Sep 14 '10 at 19:12
    
Is there a way to save both Ashley and Kaiden? If I save the council, will I get to nominate someone to it afterwards? –  Florin Andrei Dec 22 '12 at 2:19
    
@FlorinAndrei Nope, either Ashley or Kaiden must die. You can choose between Anderson and Udina for a seat on the council regardless of whether you saved the council or not. –  Adeese Dec 22 '12 at 14:49
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You absolutely want to continue a previous player. Bioware actually penalizes you by assuming that you made really stupid choices in the previous game, if you let them generate a character for you.

And even if you import a character, you can change just about everything about them (class, appearance, etc, etc), so that's not a handicap, and re-importing them resets your morality, so that's fine as well.

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Any idea what happens to the morality if we don't import them? –  Mugen Feb 22 '11 at 3:44
    
@mugen: Blank slate, no big deal, but the system assumes you made stupid choices all the way through the previous game. –  Satanicpuppy Feb 22 '11 at 3:46
    
okies –  Mugen Feb 22 '11 at 4:06
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It's not so much that it assumes "stupid" choices, but rather that it assumes that you didn't do anything optional, or anything requiring extra effort. For example, saving Wrex requires either a high Charm or Intimidate skill, or doing a side quest to gain his trust, so the system assumes that you didn't do any of these. –  hammar Feb 21 '12 at 16:24
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