Heroic Icons: Commander Shepard Part 2

“…That strength is what kept you alive when everyone else around you was dying. You alone survived. You will continue to survive. (or) It is that strength that people are drawn to. It is why you lead and others follow, without question. You will need that leadership in the battles to come. (or) You never hid your strength, either. It serves you well. Terrifies your foes. Few will dare to stand against you. -from the same poet

Like Gordon Freeman, Commander Shepard has a history that justifies his position and importance and at the same time has knowledge limited to that of the player. So, what is Shepard’s excuse?

Commander Shepard’s is constantly vilified by the Council in the first Mass Effect and characterized only by his actions. Commander Shepard’s pre-service personality is also wiped completely clean by an event in early service. The early service history options regard psychological profile and how Commander Shepard uses his/her strength. The blue dialogue activates when the player chooses “Sole Survivor”, meaning that Shepard survived against near-impossible odds when the rest of his team died. The purple dialogue activates when the player chooses “War Hero”, meaning that Shepard held off an assault successfully without sacrificing team members. The red dialogue activates when the player chooses “Ruthless”, meaning that Shepard sacrificed his team to complete the mission. All of these options set Shepard up to be the perfect hero (or so to speak).

“Is that the kind of person we want protecting the galaxy?” -Human Ambassador

The “Ruthless” and “Sole Survivor” early histories are enough to permanently change anyone’s psyche. The “War Hero” option puts Shepard in a position of such fame that personal history is irrelevant. Even the memories of upbringing, that are so vital to Shepard’s success are long forgotten. For example in one assignment, you will receive if you chose “Earthborn”, you will meet an old friend that Shepard can’t remember. The old friend claiming that Shepard can’t remember him, because of his lack of importance or because of the shit that Shepard went through. This is a rather smart excuse for lack of prior knowledge from the player.

Some of the actual love interest choices in Mass Effect are only available, because Shepard is an epic hero.

In Mass Effect 2 Tali says this when asked why she likes Commander Shepard, “I mean, a young woman gets rescued by a dashing commander who lets her join his crew and then goes off to save the galaxy? [sarcasm] How could she possibly develop any kind of interest in him? [/sarcasm]”

Next post will go a bit further into Paragon and Renegade.

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