Mass Effect: Andromeda, the fourth title in Bioware’s award-winning game series is officially released on March 23rd in the UK. With the ending of Mass Effect 3 leaving a sour taste in many mouths, we are optimistic that Andromeda can restore the series back to its rightful status.
To commemorate the game’s release for Playstation 4, Xbox One and Windows – here are some of our favourite characters from the original trilogy.
10. Mordin Solus (first appearance – Mass Effect 2)
A series favourite. Salarian scientist Mordin Solus is a wonderfully developed character, with an eventful history that further solidified Mass Effect 2 as the series’ gold standard. The original trilogy is chock full of comedy relief away from its drama, but Mordin’s quirky charm and offbeat, erratic nature magnetically takes the forefront.
Like with many Mass Effect characters, Mordin’s storied past is explored through dialogue with Shepard. We learn of his involvement with the Genophage, as well as his time with the Salarian Special Task Group – a highly skilled military outfit. So for all of his deceiving appearances, he’s one of ME’s more darker faceted squad members. His addition to the ranks is key to the development of Mass Effect 2’s story, and his frequent development of studies against the Collector threat solidify his substantial place on Team Normandy and your battle against the Reapers.
9. Aria T’Loak (First appearance – Mass Effect 2)
The self-proclaimed ‘Queen of Omega’ – Aria is one Asari not to be trifled with. Cold, without remorse, calculating and always one step ahead. Merc factions on Omega prove to be little to no opposition to her throne of power. With an abundant air of superiority, she shows no emotion to what transpires around her. Even her long-serving underlings that show undying loyalty, find themselves at arm’s length.
From the slightest whisper of a deal gone awry, to full-scale civil war – T’Loak has her finger on the pulse. As Shepard, you’ll find Aria as an ally does have its benefits, but not without a swift ball-busting before you’re out of sight. For a more morally grey or Renegade play through – Omega’s Queen is one hardened bitch that’s sure to make a more satisfying game play. One rule always applies – “Don’t f**k with Aria…”
8. The Illusive Man (First appearance – Mass Effect 2)
The Illusive Man is the enigmatic leader of Cerberus – the ‘pro-human’ organisation behind Project Lazarus – the program behind the resurrection of Commander Shepherd at the opening of ME2. I.M is quite the dapper gent. His slick hairstyle, futuristic/cad inspired wardrobe and penchant for chain-smoking makes him one of the more distinctive figures in the world of Mass Effect. With voice work for the character provided by Martin Sheen – in that distinctive, beautiful, whiskey-laden drawl
It’s fairly clear when we first meet him, that the Illusive Man is harbouring much more than he is letting on. But his arrogant defiance against Shepard’s inquisition regarding the Reaper threat and his plans for him makes for quiet unsettling throughout ME2’s narrative – although we are pretty fixed on how proceedings play out. And by ME3, we see that through all his savvy and cold demeanour, the Illusive Man as more flawed, and more human than many presumed
7. David Anderson (First appearance – Mass Effect)
Originally the Captain of the Normandy, Anderson is most memorable for being a paternal figure to lead character Shepard. A seasoned Alliance soldier, and later unwilling Citadel politician (should that choice be made..), he serves as Shepard’s moral compass during times of ambiguity in the games – and his tactical knowledge of the battlefield, and steadiness as peril looms prove to be immeasurable. Anderson’s relationship with his peers appear at odds for the majority of the events of the games.
However his unwavering pride, loyalty and belief in the Commander and the mission at hand, as demonstrated in a pivotal moment between the two late in Mass Effect 3. And although not a playable character, he is consistently the gentle reminder of the Shepard’s dutiful personality. Perhaps the most honest and noble throughout the series.
6. Miranda Lawson (First appearance – Mass Effect 2)
Miranda Lawson is introduced early in ME2 as the high-ranking Cerberus officer genetically superior in almost every way. From her abilities, her intelligence all the way to her looks – she is perhaps the poster girl for the advancement of humanity. Governed by the Illusive Man, her first interactions with you as Shepard are frosty to say the least. Acting as an unofficial mouthpiece for her boss, she is almost as defiant. She responds in conversations with an almost automaton nature. It’s only until success in certain missions within the game that allow her to be more open and give you the opportunity to explore her complex past. And from there we begin to learn that even a perfect person from the outset does not inherently come from a perfect life.
Miranda is representative how Shepard could have possibly ended up – should he have met Cerberus’ demands with a flunky mentality. Both have similarities in the fact they were both ‘built’ with intent to exploit, are masterful in their fields and have strong propensities to charm. Should you choose a Paragon path with Miranda, Shepard appears to recognise the parallels they share, and can eventuate to a rewarding romance subplot. Or if you’re not that way inclined, certainly a mutual admiration.
5. Tali’Zorah (First appearance – Mass Effect)
The Quarian’s journey through the series, based on your choices, can be incredibly rewarding to see play out. Her race’s troubling past with the Geth and their constant struggles living as what essentially is as ‘Space Gypsies’, is a quite poignant, if not glaringly obvious analogy to our own world’s never-ending issues with racism and prejudice. But Tali’s character does not come completely over as sympathetic. Her headstrong determination and capacity for kindness are beautifully portrayed in the character’s voice work, tinged with the Quarians’ distinctive Russian-like accent. Which is particularly difficult when your face is covered by a helmet and your immune system is up the creek….
What I love most about Tali is her infectious zest for life. There’s never a moment in conversations with her where you don’t sense this. Even though there is the lingering mystery surrounding her. for all the callousness, the evil that lurks – Tali’s naivety, warmth, and endearing nature makes her one of the brightest stars in an otherwise darkened universe.
4. Urdnot Wrex (First appearance – Mass Effect)
Krogan’s are known for their short temper and thirst for battle. And there’s no better example than Wrex, famed Battlemaster of Clan Urdnot. He’s perhaps the ‘enforcer’ for the squad – physically dominant, proficient in weaponry and biotics, and an invaluable ally. Wrex is initially aloof toward Commander Shepard, but eventually comes to respecting him later during Mass Effect as they pursue Saren Arterius.
Wrex is a solid bad ass. He craves and lives for war and is proud to fight. But bigger picture aside, his curmudgeonly nature and dismissive tendencies are not his defining traits – rather an access point to an honourable warrior, and to the heart of someone who is consciously bearing the weight of their entire race. He channels his emotion through his actions, like most Krogan – but it’s the direct involvement, the insight into what fuels him personally, that allows the player to develop true affinity.
3. Jack (First appearance – Mass Effect 2)
Mass Effect 2’s loose cannon. And by far the most abrasive squad member to board the Normandy. Jack’s tumultuous childhood at the hands of Cerberus is one topic never be taken lightly in the game. It can shift the story to a decided state, and the relationships with your comrades to levels of irreconcilability. So Jack’s perception and loyalty is a key component in the success of the final mission.
Jack is a classic Marmite character. When I first played ME2 – I found her way too off the beaten track in comparison to others. She just didn’t fit the mould, and stuck out like a sore thumb. Not just down to distinctive appearance, but also how her blasé remarks and bitterness makes life so damn difficult at times. The trade-off, unfortunately, is that Jack is considered one of the most powerful biotics in the known universe. Someone you really want on your side.
But after multiple play throughs and exploring different conversation points. Jack can end being one of the most complex and brilliantly developed characters in the game. Finding flaws in her is easy – but to gently peel away to her well-buried vulnerability, something Jack herself protests, can be most rewarding.
2. Legion (First appearance – Mass Effect 2)
“We are Legion, for we are many’”
In short, Legion is a Geth Infiltrator, an A.I platform that contains over a thousand singular Geth programs. Still not making sense? It’s a freakin’ robot with multiple minds! The Geth were one of the main adversaries in the original Mass Effect, but they have a greater purpose later in the series. Legion was a mobile platform given the name by EDI, as an acknowledgment of the vast number of programs within it.
Legion is extremely complex, and that’s going by Mass Effect’s standards. It is an expert marksman and worthwhile ally during missions against synthetics. Its ability to communicate with the team is the result of the multiple intelligences working in cohesion. Met with obvious caution and anxiety by the crew, including Shepard himself – Legion’s succinctness, and at times refusal to elaborate can cause massive implications. Its allegiance to its own kind, logical arguments for the Geth’s actions and relationship with the Quarians serve up the most trying standoffs.
Who’d have thought that one measly robot could shake the foundation of an entire spaceship crew?
1. Garrus Vakarian (First appearance – Mass Effect)
There is no better character in the Mass Effect games than Garrus Vakarian. Period.
Above all else, through the entirety of the trilogy Garrus always has Shepard’s back. They enjoy perhaps the most rewarding relationship in Mass Effect. It may not appear obvious, but under the surface of their interactions lies a tightened bond unlike any other in the series. A friendship born through circumstance, Garrus hooks up with Shepard in the aid of hunting Saren, a former friend to Garrus himself. And the former C-Sec operative lends a friendly ear or a reassuring voice to the consistently raising stakes.
Garrus is one collected cat. Though not incapable of showing his softer side – his strength and assuring attitude provides much needed respite in an otherwise pretty dour situation. And his willingness to be at the front lines, ready to take the lead for his compatriots, suggests a moral code that goes beyond any racial or political indifference. His sense of obligation never appears arrogant or egotistical, and his team mates rarely speak indifferently about him. Which itself is quite outstanding given the vast scope of internal conflicts that blossom – particularly in ME2. Garrus isn’t just a good friend and respected through Shepard’s eyes, he achieves this honour with all the Normandy crew.
Whilst we could lavish continuous praise on Mr Vakarian, he’d be typically modest. And that’s what we love about him.