Dealspwn Rating: 9/10
Three of 2009's best games - Modern Warfare 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2 - were all linear affairs, games that proved their excellence by taking a story or situation and guiding you through a wonderfully crafted experience, showing you where to look and when to be dazzled. However, the folks at BioWare, much like their genre rivals Bethesda Softworks, don't play by the rules.
You can spot a BioWare game a mile away as they're generally constructed using the same basic ingredients: a heavy emphasis on a spider-web narrative and dialogue, readily identifiable interesting character tropes and, perhaps most importantly, an obsession with choice and consequence. The studio works to a very simple base formula and then builds from there, adding layer upon layer, choice upon choice. With some games (ahem...Dragon Age: Origins...ahem) that formula is slightly more obvious than in others, but in the hands of skilled developers and master storytellers it becomes so much more than a skeletal theory. On the evidence of Mass Effect 2, Bioware haven't rewritten their working process just yet, but by God they've never been better.