Mass Effect: The Story So Far

In the event that you've never played the original Mass Effect or just need a refresher after a 26-month wait for the sequel, NowGamer brings us up to speed on the events that have transpired prior to the start of Mass Effect 2.
The overarching themes of the story are cyclic. Civilisation is born, it lives and is wiped out to start again. In what we assume to be the beginning, the Protheans leave advanced technology, including the unfeasibly huge space-bound Citadel, lying around the galaxy ready for developing civilisations to use as a springboard to a new age of spacefaring war and diplomacy. The assumption is that the Protheans designed and built this tech, but of course you didn't think there wouldn't be spoilers, did you? as it turns out, all life in the universe grew from a single dreadful moment in time when the Reapers wiped it all out. The Protheans found the tech just as humans and other civilised alien races did.

As Shepard, your initial problems are comparatively minor; the settlement of a few bitter squabbles between alien races who each represent a pair of chemically reactive archetypal facets of human personality. The Turians pride and prejudice. The Salarians cold-hearted logic and mistrust. The Krogans fear and aggression. The Hanar religion and ignorance. The list goes on, but at its most basic level, there's a staple bipolar commodity at play that enables the story scenes of Mass Effect to deliver in a way that few other games have managed. There's irony in this simple approach reaping such huge rewards, but the benefits are there for all to see. Encountering other members of an already familiar race, for example, enabled the game to skip over the personality introductions and instead launch itself from the ample jetty of preconceived assumptions it had earlier implanted.