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 Mass Effect Guide - Creating the Perfect Commander Shepard
 Written by Huy Tran <fun.round@gmail.com>
 Last Modified February 2, 2010
 Copyright 2008-2010 Huy Tran
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I.  Introduction
 II.  Terminology
III.  The Process
 IV.  Extra Skills
  V.  Passive Game Bonuses
 VI.  Free Charm/Intimidate Points
VII.  Class Guide
      A. Adept
      B. Engineer
      C. Infiltrator
      D. Sentinel
      E. Soldier
      F. Vanguard
VIII. Update History
  IX. Credits


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 I. INTRODUCTION
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This guide was originally created to create the best min/maxed character to go
into Mass Effect 2 with. Since Mass Effect 2's character import only deals
really with the overall power level, a lot of this information really isn't
required. Your character level, paragon/renegade rating, and your choices seem
to be the only thing that really affects your character save. So if you were
max level, you'd start at a slightly higher level than 1, a few extra credits,
and a few extra resources. These minor advantages don't merit replaying the
game over and over just to import your character so I would recommend simply
making all the decisions you want to make in the first game and importing right
away.

However, if you still want to get every minor advantage (starting at a higher
level, extra credits, etc.) or just completely dominate Mass Effect 1, this
guide is still useful.

By using this guide, you will accomplish:

     * Maximizing charm/intimidate skills without using a single skill point

     * Create a Commander Shepard that suits your play style

     * Pick the best extra power for your class & play style

     * Min/max your character in every aspect

The end result of this process is the most powerful Commander Shepard you can
possibly make that suits your play style.

What this guide will not cover is how to play the game effectively in general
terms. You should always use weapon mods that counter the enemy (ex. synthetic
damage bonuses against geth enemies) and you should always equip armor mods
that will help you the most for the situation at hand (ex. armor mods that
will help you resist being lifted and pushed against enemy biotics). Play
efficiently, use cover, use squad commands, save often, etc. These basics are
outside the scope of this guide.


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 II. TERMINOLOGY
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Crowd control: The ability to disable enemies to make situations easier to deal
with.

Debuff: Weakening enemies so that they are easier to kill or survive against.

Min/max: Minimizing penalties and maximizing bonuses. This is a term originally
used in Dungeons and Dragons describing a player that makes character decisions
with the strict mind-set of making the most powerful character possible.

Skill points: Points that you get from leveling, these can be assigned to
various skills to make your character more powerful.

Tank: An MMORPG term, character that can take a lot of damage before dying.

Unlocker: A character that can open locked chests and salvage various artifacts
on planets.


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 III. THE PROCESS
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Your first Commander Shepard can never be the strongest character you'll ever
make. This is due to the fact that you can unlock extra skills, giving any
class an additional power that they would not have normally. However, these
unlocked powers can only be assigned at the creation of a new character, so
your first Commander Shepard will always be weaker than your later ones due to
the fact that s/he cannot start with extra skills.

The overall process looks like this:

     1. Create your first Commander Shepard that unlocks extra power(s) that
        you will want to use on your real character.

     2. Create your real Commander Shepard that will use one of those unlocked
        powers.

     3. Replay the game multiple times with the same character, keeping this
        in mind:

             - Never spend any skill point in the charm/intimidate skills.

             - Try to get as many free charm and intimidate skill points as
               possible regardless of how you want to be aligned at the very
               end by making paragon and renegade decisions.

             - Unlock as many passive game bonuses as possible regardless of
               which romance options and ally selections you want to have at
               the very end.

             - Try to get as much experience to get to the highest level
               possible.

     4. One final play through that will carry you into Mass Effect 2 with the
        final version of your character and decisions you would like to make.
        You will want to do the following on your final play through:

             - Complete every quest in the game.

             - Explore every world in the game.

             - Pick the romantic relationship with the partner that you
               will want to see develop in Mass Effect 2.

             - Make the Paragon or Renegade decisions that you will want to
               carry with you in Mass Effect 2.

             - Choose between Ashley or Kaiden, picking whoever you would like
               to potentially use in Mass Effect 2.

             - Have the best gear for your character.

             - Have the maximum amount of credits possible.


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 IV. EXTRA SKILLS
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As I have mentioned before in section III, you can unlock extra skills that any
newly created Commander Shepard can pick that is outside his or her class. This
creates an option of being able to create a Commander Shepard that is more
powerful and customized to suit your play style.

For more information on which powers you should unlock for use first, read the
class guide in section VII of the class that you will want to finally have for
Mass Effect 2.

To unlock extra skills, complete the achievement with the associated power.

     * Assault Rifle: Kill 150 enemies with an assault rifle.

     * Barrier: Use Barrier 75 times.

     * Decryption: Use Sabotage 75 times.

     * Electronics: Use Overload 75 times.

     * First Aid: Use medi-gel 150 times.

     * Hacking: Use AI-Hacking 75 times.

     * Lift: Use Lift 75 times.

     * Medicine: Use Neural Hacking 75 times.

     * Shielding: Use Dampening 75 times.

     * Shotgun: Kill 150 enemies with a shotgun.

     * Sniper Rifle: Kill 150 enemies with a sniper rifle.

     * Stasis: Use Stasis 75 times.

     * Throw: Use Throw 75 times.

     * Singularity: Use Singularity 75 times.

     * Warp: Use Warp 75 times.

In general, the unlocked weapon powers are the most worthless to generally
have. Whereas skills such as lift, electronics, decryption, barrier, etc. are
extremely useful. The reason for these powers being favored over the weapon are
rooted by the fact that every class starts with base weapon specializations
or bonuses already.


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 V. PASSIVE GAME BONUSES
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Passive game bonuses are awarded to the player for achievements in the game
that are not tied with unlocking skills. These will help all your characters
regardless of their creation date, class, or progress through the game.

To unlock passive game bonuses, complete the achievement with the associated
bonus.

     * +10% Experience: Complete 75% of the game.

     * +10% Hardening: Complete 75% of the game using Ashley.

     * 10% Barrier and Stasis Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game
       using Liara.

     * 10% Lift and Throw Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game using
       Kaiden.

     * 10% Overload and Damping Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game
       using Garrus.

     * 10% Sabotage and AI Hacking Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game
       using Tali.

     * Regenerate 1 HP per second: Complete 75% of the game using Wrex.

     * +5% Experience: Get level 50 with any character.

     * +10% Shield: Take more shield damage than health damage in a
       play through.

     * Character Levels 51-60: Complete the game once.

     * +5% Weapon Damage: Complete the game twice.

     * +10% Health: Kill 150 organics.

     * +10% Shield: Kill 150 synthetics.

     * 25% Marksman Cooldown Reduction: Kill 150 enemies with a pistol.


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 VI. FREE CHARM/INTIMIDATE POINTS
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
After playing multiple characters several times through the game, myself and
many others realized that you get free Paragon and Renegade points without
having to spend any point towards those skills. Experiments and general testing
have gone into understanding how these points are achieved and it generally
amounts up to checkpoints in the story and your paragon/renegade rating that
reward you with free paragon/renegade points.

What does this mean for min/maxing a perfect Commander Shepard?

You can essentially spend 0 skill points in both charm and intimidate skills
and have the maximum skill of both charm and intimidate on your character,
regardless of whether you'll decide if your final character will be a heavily
Paragon-based or Renegade-based character (or neither), they will have all of
the skills to make any game decision at any given point in time.

There are many ways to approach gaining these "free" points, but they involve
two approaches.

The first approach is to complete the game as quickly as possible, doing only
story required missions. 

The second approach is to constantly play the game and do everything within the
game to amass the most possible Paragon or Renegade rating for that play
session and therefore get the most points possible. While this approach leads
to less replays of the game, it also makes each replay dramatically longer.

Both approaches are good and generally depend on your tolerance of the using
the Mako. If you have no tolerance for it, do only the story missions. If you
love using the Mako, do the entire game. Note that if you still need to unlock
achievements for using your squad members, the longer approach is recommended
as it is the only way to reach a high game completion percentage for ally
achievements.

There is also a glitch that I've been informed of that will help you easily
cap your current Paragon and/or Renegade rating for your current play through if
you have enough charm and/or intimidate skill. Last Vampire has documented this
trick and submitted it to GameFAQs' Mass Effect Cheats section. The glitch
basically involves abusing a loop in a conversation with Lorik Quinn.

Using this trick, once you've unlocked all the passive game bonuses, you can
easily speed through multiple sessions of the game, constantly getting to the
point where you can max your rating with Lorik Quinn and then complete the game
to do it over and over again.

For more details, please visit GameFAQs' Mass Effect Cheats section.
http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/xbox360/code/930279.html

Ultimately, the essence of getting these free points is replaying the game,
making decisions that favor Paragon or Renegade and reaping the benefits of
free points that the game will give you until you reach the maximum skill
levels for both.


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 VII. CLASS GUIDE
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Before going into class specifics, it is good to know the basics of making a
good character. The fundamental basis of the decisions that I've made with
every class are formed by the following:

     * You should always try to spend only enough points to reach milestones
       within the skill. So you always want to spend enough points in a skill
       to upgrade the power that is associated with that skill or to unlock
       another skill. You should always try to avoid spending points that
       doesn't help you achieve a milestone.

     * Party members, in general, should always try to round out your main
       character or take advantage of the main character's strength. You will
       always need and want a tank, an unlocker, and a crowd controller. The
       lines will blur based on your own character class and the selection of
       members, but you always want to be able to do all three of these types
       of actions.

     * A good extra skill selection should either diversify the character
       outside their class so that they have a smaller dependence on allies
       or they should take a skill that allows them to do what they're good at
       more effectively. A poor selection would be giving them a skill that
       gives no noticeable benefit or only allows them to accomplish the same
       thing in a different way.

Now let's get into the specifics.

NOTE: The following section definitely has some overlap, but it just goes to
show that the strengths and weaknesses of various classes also show similar
ideal skill selections and class specializations.



A. ADEPT
===============================================================================
Adepts are the true crowd controllers of this game and they will lock down
entire battlefields, making your enemies useless and easy to pick off. They
have decent damage output when the crowd control is coupled with pistol
specialization, but their defense is heavily lacking. Adepts are definitely one
of the harder classes to play, requiring smart use of allies to do the needed
damage and tanking for the group.

Between the two classes, the Bastion Adepts win out because it helps the adept
deal with the very tough situations on harder difficulties where they can
easily die in one shot.

Bastion Adepts get:

     * Barrier duration bonus, cooldown reduction, and shield bonus

     * Biotic skills cooldown reduction (on all biotic skills)

     * Stasis cooldown reduction and allows enemies to be damaged

Nemesis Adepts get:

     * Biotic skills duration bonus

     * Lift (falls under throws) damage bonus and radius increased

     * Throw damage bonus

     * Warp damage bonus and radius increased

Bastion adepts give adepts the most important things they need for the highest
difficulty, defense. The barrier bonus becomes vital on harder difficulties and
the biotic cooldowns allow them to apply control for entire fights when needed.
The stasis cooldown, while not taken advantaged of by the AI, will at least let
you stop and destroy enemies that are giving you too much trouble.

Nemesis adepts have some impressive bonuses. The increased throw damage and
duration bonuses to all biotic skills lets you open opportunities for that much
longer to do more damage. However, on higher difficulties, enemies will be
putting out a lot more damage and taking a lot more damage as well. The barrier
bonus and cooldown reduction simply wins out in these situations. The lift and
warp bonuses are also not so amazing that it would warrant losing defenses
over.

In conclusion, bastion adepts just provide the needed bonuses and is the clear
winner when compared on the harder difficulties.

Best Specialization: Bastion Adept
Best Extra Skill(s): Electronics
Good Extra Skill(s): Hacking

Electronics: Electronics adds a lot to the adepts defenses and gives them a
passive defense that they don't need to activate. Rockets that you may not see
from the side, snipers that you may not see from afar, etc. will no longer have
chances of one-shotting you on higher difficulties with the shielding that
electronics provides. Electronics also provides another way for adepts to burst
enemies down quickly by removing their shields instantly as well as relieving
the electronics burden from the squad.

Hacking: Hacking is fairly good skill for adepts to deal with geth enemies that
they cannot control with their crowd control and to deal with turrets that
arise later in the game. Hacking also gives you temporary tanks and is
especially useful for soaking up damage and removing rocket launching geth
enemies.
===============================================================================


B. ENGINEER
===============================================================================
Engineers are an interesting class that can debuff enemies and do a lot of
burst damage with their skills. Because they can't specialize in any other
weapon besides pistol without an extra skill and because they don't have great
defensive skills besides electronics, they struggle in basic gun combat. But
when enemies become debuffed and disabled heavily, engineers don't need it to
finish fights. Good use of teammates will easily cover up this weakness and it
proves that the engineer is one of the more advanced classes to play.

Of the two specializations, both medic engineers and operative engineers
provide fun playstyle differences and are both equal in terms of effectiveness.

Medic Engineers get:

     * First Aid cooldown reduction, healing bonus, ignores toxic damage, and
       revives allies

     * Neural Shock cooldown reduction, damage bonus, and duration bonus
     
Operative Engineers get:

     * Damping cooldown reduction

     * Overload cooldown reduction, damage bonus, radius increased, and
       shield damage bonus

     * Sabotage cooldown reduction, damage bonus, damage over time bonus,
       duration bonus, and radius increased

Medic engineers play a strong support role and can essentially stand back,
disable enemies, and heal all frontline squad members or revive them with
extreme efficiency. Add that with the neural shock bonus and you can nullify
many organic enemies from even moving or doing a single thing. Definitely the
ideal class for those who want to control squad members and never see them
stay down very long.

Operative engineers allow players to go crazy with tons of damage from their
skills as well as being able to debuff enemies constantly. Removing their
shields, removing their weapons, removing their ability to use biotic powers,
etc. Operative engineers excell at this. The damage bonuses give operative
engineers a lot of burst damage power, taking down any focused enemy almost
instantly.

Overall, they are equally good and provide an interesting play style choice.

Best Specialization: Equal (Medic Engineers and Operative Engineers)
Best Extra Skill(s): Barrier, Lift
Good Extra Skill(s): Singularity

Barrier: The barrier skill is a good choice here because engineers lack an
active defense skill and it fills the defense void very well. Since engineers
already pack a good offensive punch and last decently long, they don't need
much in terms of offensive. Barrier is the best they are going to get on the
defensive end.

Lift: Lift is a very strong crowd controlling move that lets you unleash all of
your skills and damage. It also doubles as a way to stop enemies that have
rushed up close to you or pull enemies out of cover. An overall strong skill
that competes with barrier as it provides defense as well as offense.

Singularity: Singularity is a much weaker version than lift since it doesn't
allow easy shooting, has randomness issues, and can be hard for allies to shoot
based on weapons they are loaded out with. I would always pick lift over
singularity for engineers, but singularity allows a whole room to be
controlled. That's never a bad thing and if you need it solely for defensive
purposes, it works very well.
===============================================================================


C. INFILTRATOR
===============================================================================
The infiltrator is a powerful blend of debuffs and damage that overwhelms
opponents in a short amount of time. Their long-ranged nature gives them big
advantages of being able to apply overload and sabotage coupled with the large
damage output that they get from specializing in sniper rifles. If enemies do
creep up on them, they are able to deal with them with pistol fire as well.
They definitely represent the "sniper" for those looking for the perfect class
to pursue such goals.

Between their two specializations, I would say that commando infiltrators
easily win out because operative infiltrators don't add much to the infiltrator
base class.

Commando Infiltrators get:

     * Assassination (sniper rifle) cooldown reduction

     * Immunity cooldown reduction

     * Marksman (pistol) cooldown reduction

     * Passive bonus to damage
     
Operative Infiltrators get:

     * Damping cooldown reduction

     * Overload cooldown reduction, damage bonus, shield damage bonus, and
       radius increased

     * Sabotage cooldown reduction, damage bonus, damage over time bonus,
       duration bonus, and radius increased

Commando infiltrators add the most important thing an infiltrator can ask for,
damage. The passive damage bonus coupled with the cooldown reduction on
assassination and marksman makes it an essential specialization for
infiltrators to dispatch their enemies. The immunity cooldown reduction also
adds a nice defensive perk to an already strong package for infiltrators.

Operative infiltrators reduce the cooldowns of damping, overload, and sabotage.
Unfortunately, at higher difficulties, enemies will get large amounts of health
yet the debuffs will still work with the same effectiveness that they have been
working at since the beginning difficulties. This creates a heavy contrast with
the commando infiltrator specialization, which has the necessary bonuses to
deal with high health enemies later on.

Overall, commando infiltrator simply wins out, especially on higher
difficulties where they clearly shine over operative infiltrators.

Best Specialization: Commando Infiltrator
Best Extra Skill(s): Lift
Good Extra Skill(s): Barrier, Throw

Lift: Lift is the best extra skill choice for the infiltrator by far. It allows
infiltrators to slow down enemy offense as well as create opportunities for
massive damage output without worrying about enemies using defense or cover.
Lift often shines as a great skill when infiltrators pull enemies from cover
and gets the perfect shots on them.

Barrier: Barrier is a useful skill for infiltrators because it provides
another defensive move that they can use. However, infiltrators come decked
out in good defenses already, being pretty resilient with good armor, great
shields, and the immunity skill. The fact that they should be fighting at a
long distance most of the time nullifies their need for barrier. It really is
only good for sticky situations.

Throw: Throw is a much weaker version of lift, allowing you to only push
enemies away. This will generally mean much less opportunities and damage
because enemies will get back up much quickly than if they were to stay in the
air, fall down, and then get up from the lift skill. A lot of players will pick
throw, thinking that it will allow them to stay at ranged, but I feel that lift
already lets you control enemies extremely well. If you need range, move your
character back until you have sufficient range after a lift.
===============================================================================


D. SENTINEL
===============================================================================
The sentinel is the most weakest character in terms of damage output, but make
up for it in support abilities with crowd control, debuffs, and defense. They
are an advanced class to play, utilizing all of their skills constantly to
make the battle situation better. Good use of skills and squad commands are key
to playing the sentinel well. They are also the only class where getting a
weapon specialization is actually an ideal choice.

The two specializations of the sentinel are interesting, providing a good
play style choice that allows you to specialize in the way that suits you.

Bastion Sentinels get:

     * Barrier duration bonus, cooldown reduction, and shield bonus

     * Biotic skills cooldown reduction (on all biotic skills)

     * Stasis cooldown reduction and allows enemies to be damaged

Medic Sentinels get:

     * First Aid cooldown reduction, healing bonus, ignores toxic damage, and
       revives allies

     * Neural Shock cooldown reduction, damage bonus, and duration bonus

The decision on which class specialization to play lies solely in play style. Do
you value being able to lock things down with your biotic skills and using
barrier or do you value healing your allies and shock disabling your enemies?
The most interesting aspect of this decision probably lies within the bastion's
ability to still attack a target in stasis and the medic's ability to revive
allies simply by using medi-gel.

Unfortunately, the decision is a bit one-sided when comparing these two great
abilities. Reviving allies works as it sounds and its great, but you should be
using strong tanks to carry out the front line and deal the damage. Ashley and
Wrex are great here to support the medic sentinel. On the other hand, the
stasis falls from AI problems. Whenever you stasis an enemy, even if they are
attackable from the bastion specialization, your allies will never take
advantage and attack them. This means that only you can take advantage of this
impressive skill and it waters down the overall effectiveness. Nevertheless,
the stasis ability can allow you to take on extremely tough challenges as well
as save you defensively.

The core decision then ultimately comes down to the comparison of whether you
want your medi-gels to revive allies or whether you want to use your biotic
skills at a much quicker rate. Both choices are good.


Best Specialization: Equal (Bastion Sentinel and Medic Sentinel)
Best Extra Skill(s): Singularity, Sniper Rifle
Good Extra Skill(s): Assault Rifle


Singularity: Singularity completes the Sentinel's impressive crowd control and
support capabilities. However, singularity is the only good because it is the
only useful skill to pick besides weapon specializations. In addition, The fact
that sentinels already get pistol bonuses makes many players who are
comfortable with the pistol forego picking a weapon specialization and just
pick up singularity.

Sniper Rifle: A weapon specialization is ideal for sentinels because they don't
have much else to take in terms of extra skills. Singularity is nice, but it
doesn't add much to sentinels. The sniper rifle's usefulness over other weapons
stem from the fact that sentinel already has a bonus to pistols, covering the
short-ranged situations. The sniper rifle allows the sentinel to cover a much
longer range so that they can pick off enemy snipers, which may be useful if
your two allies happen to be Ashley and Wrex (who ideally should be using
assault rifles or shotguns and tanking damage in the front). You can also make
use of the pistol specialization whenever anyone gets close.

Assault Rifle: Assault rifle itself provides a good balance that is useful at
all ranges. The only reason it isn't a great choice is because pistols, a
built-in sentinel bonus, already cover close-ranged combat situations. It would
be more beneficial to get a sniper rifle so that you can get better long-ranged
capabilities.
===============================================================================


E. SOLDIER
===============================================================================
The soldier is a basic run and gun class and is by far the easiest class to
play. Strong, effective, resilient, and does a large amount of damage. They are
the true tanks of the game and possess one of the best damage outputs in the
game. Their only flaw would be their lack of crowd control, debuffs, and
inability to contribute towards salvaging or unlocking.

When looking at the two specializations that a soldier can choose, the shock
troopers will win out overall, but just by a touch.

Commando Soldiers get:

     * Assassination (sniper rifle) cooldown reduction

     * Immunity cooldown reduction

     * Marksman (pistol) cooldown reduction

     * Passive bonus to damage

Shock Trooper Soldiers get:

     * Adrenaline Burst cooldown reduction

     * Immunity cooldown reduction

     * Passive bonus to health

The commando soldier specialization has role issues and it certainly shows. A
soldier is a heavily armored combatant that can soak up damage, but to be able
to do that, they must stay within relatively closer range than others and be
able to lead them into battle. The commando falls heavily short here as they
use sniper rifles and pistols. There are some odd considerations when you think
about this closely. Why would you make a soldier to use pistols, which all the
weaker non-weapon based classes get? You wouldn't, so the decision lies solely
with the sniper rifle. 

After establishing that frame of mind, why would you need the soldier's
impressive defense (and forsaking other abilities s/he could have gotten) when
you are a long-distanced fighter? As a sniper, you would never go in first,
which means someone else is tanking the damage and your defensive capabilities
is a waste. The best way to make use of a commando soldier would be to
specialize in multiple weapons (assault rifle and sniper rifle at least) and
make use of the fact that a soldier can fight at any range given the right
weapon. Add to that, you should not use allies that heavily rely on slowing
down the enemy (Kaiden and Liara) opting for a high damage party because of the
fact that all members defenses, including your own, would be useful when there
is constant fire. You take this crowd control trade for members that consist of
Ashley, Wrex, Garrus, and/or Tali for their high burst damage. Assassination is
is useful for taking down heavily shielded targets and will help you dispatch
of enemies quickly and efficiently. Your soldier defense will still be
important in this party configuration because you rely on killing quickly under
pressure and not controlling the situation for longer fights.

The shock trooper soldier is better overall in many ways. The adrenaline burst
means they can keep up and put out huge damage in long fights. They also last
longer defensively, giving you breathing room for push and pull strategies
dependent on the situation at hand. Their passive health bonus is nice, but
with the more powerful adrenaline burst, immunity, and the soldier's natural
defense -- it is not really required. You get more freedom of party members as
well and you don't have to run a strong combat heavy party to make use of your
bonuses, although you always have the option to. Basically, you get a more
well-rounded package that gives you more breathing room and ways to play the
game.

Overall, the shock trooper soldier wins out due to the flexibility that the
specialization offers. Room to retreat, room to strategize, room to run low
damage squad members, etc.


Best Specialization: Shock Trooper Soldier
Best Extra Skill(s): Electronics, Lift
Good Extra Skill(s): Barrier, Singularity 


Electronics: The electronics skill is an amazing skill for the soldier as it
adds so much to the class. First, you will get more shields passively, allowing
you to take more damage as well as making your shield boost skill more useful.
Secondly, it allows you to remove an opponents' shield and attack his health
directly more quickly. Lastly, electronics will also grant you the ability to
fix the Mako and salvage artifacts. This last utility feature will remove some
of the burden from your squad members, allowing your squad members to choose
other skills earlier without having to worry about fulfilling the electronics
requirement of the squad.

Lift: Lift is an extremely powerful skill and rounds out the Soldier very well.
With lift, soldiers are able to control situations better, disabling enemies so
that they do not damage you when there are too many as well as opening up
opportunities for soldiers and their squad to unleash all of their damage
without fear of being blocked by objects or the enemy using defensive
abilities.

Barrier: The biggest problem with barrier is the fact that it only helps you on
defense. A lot of players love Shock Troopers with barrier because they become
an extremely strong tank, but barrier ultimately loses to electronics because
it is so one-note in comparison. Electronics gives you defense that is
comparable to barrier, offense, and utility. Barrier simply is not strong
enough to make up for the losing the advantages of electronics. However, it is
still a strong skill for soldiers who want to fulfill the tanking role
exclusively.

Singularity: The singularity skill selection for a soldier is similar to
choosing lift, but not as effective. There are a few enemies that can't be
controlled by singularity when they can be controlled by lift. However, the key
deciding factor is the fact that singularity has a few peculiar random features
that make it inferior to lift for soldiers. First, the enemies float around
with quite a bit of speed and randomness, making you and ally members unable to
score as much damage as you would normally (based on your squad's weapons).
Secondly, enemies will often float behind areas and obstacles when placed far
away, leaving unpredictable results where they will float behind objects and
structures, not allowing you to shoot at them. However, even with these
disadvantages, singularity covers big area and is still a good skill for
soldiers to gain control of the battlefield and slow enemies down.
===============================================================================


F. VANGUARD
===============================================================================
The vanguard is a hybrid class that marries the adept and soldier class to
provide a powerful close-ranged, heavy hitting, and crowd controlling
character. It is a moderately skilled class to play, providing a simple run and
gun effectiveness paired with the biotic skills that will let you slow enemies,
disable enemies, and attack enemies more effectively.

When looking at the two specializations, shock trooper vanguards will clearly
edge out over the nemesis vanguard due to the fact that nemesis vanguard
bonuses being neglible.

Nemesis Vanguards get:

     * Biotic skills duration bonus

     * Lift (falls under throws) damage bonus and radius increased

     * Throw damage bonus

     * Warp damage bonus and radius increased

Shock Trooper Vanguards get:

     * Adrenaline Burst cooldown reduction

     * Barrier cooldown reduction

     * Passive bonus to health

Nemesis vanguards get a bigger bang for their buck. All of slightly more
duration and slightly more damage. However, this bonus is so small that it will
generally prove insignificant in the higher difficulties. According to Brian
Roberts who did the math to show me, this bonus is generally around 1-2 seconds
for each skill. This essentially renders the nemesis vanguards as worthless
simply because the bonuses that they do have don't really mean anything.

Shock trooper vanguards have a big jump in defense from their barrier cooldown
and the passive health. However, the adrenaline burst cooldown is the most
interesting of the shock trooper package, allowing shock trooper vanguards to
deal a large amount of damage quickly, boost their defenses often, and crowd
control often due to the simple fact that they can refresh all of their skills
for use at a more frequent pace.

The nemesis vanguards lose out because their bonuses just don't add enough of
anything to make a difference. The shock trooper vanguard specialization adds
impressive amounts of options for the vanguard, leaving the nemesis vanguard an
extremely weak alternative.


Best Specialization: Shock Trooper Vanguard
Best Extra Skill(s): Electronics
Good Extra Skill(s): Singularity 

Electronics: Electronics is the ideal skill for the vanguard as it helps the
vanguard deal with one of its biggest issues, defense. While vanguards have a
large amount of defense, because of their closer-ranged arsenal (pistol or
shotgun), they have to be in close quarters often enough to require more.
Electronics provides the shields that will allow vanguards to get a much more
solid defense. Electronics also helps vanguards quickly pummel shields down,
even while an enemy is controlled by skills such as lift. This allows vanguards
to quickly chip away and deal the amount of burst damage that they need in the
short time-frame of their crowd control skills. Lastly, electronics also allows
vanguards to fulfill a utility role, salvaging artifacts and repairing the
Mako. This frees up allies from having to invest into electronics as the
vanguard already has it covered.

Singularity: Singularity adds another crowd control to the impressive arsenal
of vanguard crowd control powers. It opens up more opportunities to shoot and
gives you breathing space if you need it. The only reason it loses to
electronics is because of the randomness of the skill. Issues with some weapons
(and the AI using those weapons) having a hard time hitting enemies that have
been put in singularity as well as enemies actually flying to areas and
positions that make them hard to kill make this skill lose the "great" cut.
===============================================================================



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 VIII. UPDATE HISTORY
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
v1.5: Updated introduction to reflect Mass Effect 2 character import.

v1.4: Grammar fixes.

v1.3: Grammar and minor clarifications.

v1.2: Vanguard and soldier section revamped from the suggestions of Brian
      Roberts. Grammar fixes.

v1.1: Grammar fixes.

v1.0: Engineer class completed. Final review before submission to GameFAQs.

v0.9: Adept class completed.

v0.8: Operative class completed.

v0.7: Vanguard class completed.

v0.6: Remaining classes fleshed out in skill selections and specializations.
      Sections still need explanations.

v0.5: Sentinel class completed.

v0.4: Completed introduction of classes section and soldier class.

v0.3: Passive game bonuses section completed.

v0.2: Table of Contents updated.

v0.1: Initial creation of the FAQ. Introduction, terminology, the process,
      extra skills, free charm/intimidate points and credits sections created
      and written.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 IX. CREDITS
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Myself (Huy Tran): For writing this guide and replaying this game so many
times.

Brian Roberts: For showing me that the nemesis vanguard is inferior to the
shock trooper vanguard and for helping me clarify the strengths of shock
trooper soldier and commando soldier.

BioWare: For creating a game worth replaying so many times.

GameFAQs: For hosting my guide.