Breakin’ Down: Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard
Yes, alright. In Mass Effect, you, the gamer, can choose to make Shepard a complete bad-ass, whose lone goal is to harass store clerks and steal ice cream from little kids; on the other hand, many players also choose to act as a paragon, conversely traveling the galaxy with another, more agreeable agenda in mind. However you want to look at the situation, Commander Shepard is still saving humanity and the rest of the universe for whatever reason. What really disturbs me is what isn’t disturbing Shepard! All throughout this intrepid journey he experiences horrible tragedy and trauma left and right, like the death of his beloved teammates, even the destruction of very worlds beneath his feet. Soldiers, indeed, are trained to keep emotions under lock while fighting for their lives, they more akin to well oiled machines than actual Homo sapiens. That’s understandable, if you’re a normal gunner.
Do you honestly think someone wouldn’t be scarred in the worst ways possible had the weight of various civilizations been placed upon their shoulders? Shepard struts around with an unemotional swagger, nearly desensitized to most people and events. For example, when he just brought Legion, a highly intelligent Geth, back to the Normandy, there was little surprise, or even intrigue, on his part. It seemed like every facet of his character, his demeanor, dialogue options, and voice, were completely bland, inexpressive. No shock, no disbelief, no excitement. Nothing. While I do observe the fact he is supposed to be somewhat stoic, I don’t believe that permits an utter lack of emotion.
Furthermore, I think that Shepard should’ve appeared more vulnerable, since he, obviously, has a beating heart and isn’t made of metal and wires. There’s only so much one person can take before they’re thrust over the edge. The game as a whole might have benefited from this, especially because it would have exposed the Commander’s humanity, how even he, a hard-edged militant, could articulate any misgivings he’d been bottling up.
The other aspect of Shepard and his decision making that bothered me was the clear-cut options of either a paragon, renegade, or neutral remark. Having some direction, via the “good and evil” meter, was refreshing and did help establish where Shepard stood in the morality department. I still find myself feeling skeptical towards this concept, as there wasn’t a true “gray zone” when it came to critical choices. Each scenario presented in Mass Effect is complicated, the imagination behind said happenings impressive, too…but certain resolutions came off so distinct and clear to the point that no longer was Shepherd calling the shots. The shots, the vital options, were more so dictating him. If any of you have played Bioshock, then I think you’ll know what I mean.
Final Character Analysis:
Commander Shepard is truly a man among sniveling little boys, though this steely attitude of his makes me question his integrity as a protagonist, a true leader, and a (fictional) human being.
In closing, I ask you, the audience, this: What do you think of the Mass Effect series? And Commander Shepard, how do you feel about him? Are you excited for ME3? Leave your comments below.
Rebecca “Jobe352″ Buza