Review: Mass Effect 2: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn
Author :        Date : 21-Dec-08

There are plenty of novels based on games and vice versa and a lot of the time they tie into the continuing story. This can be important, particularly for an RPG based on a new franchise that is still being filled out and developed. For those of you unaware, Mass Effect: Ascension is a book based on a game, that is based on a prequel novel. The first novel having come out several months before the game, takes place a few years before the events in the game and introduces us to many key characters.

Where Revelation is a prequel novel, Ascension is a sequel that deals primarily with Cerberus, an organization that features prominently in the game. This organization, works behind the scenes manipulating galactic events to suit its own agenda. It is primarily pro-human and its questionable mandate aims to ensure humanity’s dominance over neighbouring alien empires.

Taking place shortly after the conclusion of the game, the author Drew Karpyshyn, is careful to weave a story around the finale of the game but without spoiling it or making assumptions as to how the player played it out and what choices they made. It’s important to note that Mass Effect is set up to be a trilogy of games from the start. So this isn’t simply a way to hang onto the story after the fact, it fills in gaps and backstory between games.

The main character is Kahlee Sanders, a scientist who was introduced in the prequel novel. There’s also an autistic 12-year-old girl named Gillian who has unrivaled potential as a biotic, a Cerberus agent posing as her father and a colleague of Kahlee’s who is a biotic and a teacher/father figure to Gillian. As the story unfolds, we see the complex machinations of Cerberus as they’ve taken a keen interest in Gillian’s biotic potential and development. Along with the main plot, we see smaller storylines being developed here such as the continuing struggle for the Quarians (the makers of the Geth) and the fallout from the game’s conclusion and effects thereafter. We are also shown new locations in detail that I’m sure foreshadows some of Mass Effect 2′s locales.

If you’ve played the game or intend to, this is practically required reading. Like the first novel it offers a new perspective on the people and factions in the game and makes it easier to piece the technology and political intrigue together and how it affects the various alien species. I started and finished this novel in two days, reading it every chance I could. It’s just that good. Drew is also the lead writer in the game series as well if that gives you any indication of what to expect. Great book for a great game. Highly recommended!

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