When Mass Effect 3 arrives on March 6 next week, fans of the series might be surprised to see some changes in how earning Reputation can influence the range of options the game presents you with. A new BioWare Blog post lays out the basics of the game's tweaked Reputation system. Partially in the interests of sharing information but mostly just to get you more excited for next week.
In Mass Effect 3, your version of Commander Shepard will build up a Reputation as he or she takes steps to repel the Reaper invasion. Some of these boosts are based on the choices you make, which also in turn bumps either your Paragon or Renegade rating up. Some of them are just general "hey, look at me, I'm saving the world" actions, resulting in a more general boost.
The key difference in ME3 is that your growing rep is actually a combination of your Paragon and Renegade scores, and so there's no closing yourself off from particular dialogue options if you decide to go pure saint or pure jerk.
You'll still be closed off from certain special dialogue options, but it's now based on your Reputation as a whole. As the blog post says, "your Reputation score determines both Charm and Intimidate options, and that score is determined by adding your Paragon and Renegade scores together." The idea is to reward players who want to see absolutely everything in the game without cutting them off from content for going a pure Renegade or pure Paragon route.
This is a super-nerdy deep dive sort of change that die-hard fans will definitely appreciate, but it's also a clever solution to a problem that gamers often encounter in games with built-in morality scales. Most beings aren't pure good or pure evil, but attempting to play a morality-based RPG as more of a neutral, realistic character often cuts out one set of choices or another. The tweaked Reputation system in ME3 seems to offer a well-reasoned alternative.