Mass Effect - BioWare Interview, Part One

GamesRadar: How do these background options affect the story?

RM: It will affect the game right from the start. There will be different dialogue and different reactions as a result of the background you choose. It's subtle, but it makes you feel as if your choices actually have meaning.

Greg Zeschuk, BioWare President: Choosing your record and what you've done in the past contributes to that feeling of, "Why are you special? What makes your character special?"

GamesRadar: How deep is the customization of your appearance?

RM: You can choose every last aspect of their appearance. Hair, face, skin color, eyes...

GamesRadar: Can you change your appearance later in the game?

RM: You are who you are, but you can customize your appearance through the equipment you put on. Your armor actually gets weathered and chipped as you see more combat, for example. You might have a suit of armor that's really good, but showing a lot of age because it's been through a lot of battles with you.

The introduction begins. 200 years in our future. A spaceship - the Normandy - floats in a field of blue stars. Your character's face - the one you just finished customizing and creating - stares back at you from a portal window's reflection. Meanwhile, two voices are discussing your reputation and debating whether your hardened background and tragic past make you a good candidate for the Specters, an elite force charged with protecting the galaxy at all costs. Think of them as this universe's Jedis.