For as much as I gush about this series, you might be curious to know which of the grade-A cast of characters were my favorite. This game had an amazing cast. The voice work was nothing short of incredible. I will harbor a deep hatred for how the series ended, but every single moment leading up to that was awesome. I will say up-front that Shepard is not going to be on this list. Shepard was a cool character, but the reality is that Shepard was the avatar for the player, and the amount of choices it gave you made that abundantly clear. So, with all of that said, here is my list for the very best of this game’s characters. If you see any who are not on this list, comment as to who your favorite are, and tell me why. Let’s keep the market of ideas open. And just so you know, if you’ve never played the series, you are going to be REALLY lost. Here goes…
10. Urdnot Bakara/Eve
While Wrex was a fascinating character, along with Grunt being loads of fun, the Krogan that I most enjoyed talking to was the female who was rescued from Maelon’s experiments. Not only is she not some weak female who needs to be protected, but she represents so much of the strength that the Krogan still possess. Not only does she not let herself be coddled like Wrex wants to, but she is emotionally and mentally strong in ways that no other Krogan is. Not even Wrex. Not only that, but she fills in the blanks on a lot of Krogan culture. Turns out, once upon a time, the women of the Krogan race held the power, and she wanted to return that. She faces down an entire room of angry males who are looking for a fight, telling them that if they keep going as they are, they will just run themselves into the ground. That kind of strength is just awesome, and I think it is so cool. She is a brief character to get to know, but she is on this list all the same.
9. Aria T’Loak
It wasn’t until the Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3 that this character really made an impact with me. Voiced by Carrie Ann Moss, this is more proof that so-so actors and actresses can do amazing voice-work. This character is an Asari. It is hinted that she is well-over 1000 years old. But unlike most Asari, who cool down and get all wise and stuff at that age, she instead is running the most ruthless criminal haven in the entire galaxy. And she rules with an iron fist. As she says, there is only one rule, “don’t fuck with Aria.” But beneath her badass bravado, there are hints of something far more tragic underneath Aria. In the Omega DLC, you get some interesting back-story on this character. You see that she wasn’t always the tough bitch that she works so hard to be. She once had a protegee. A Turian student who could use biotics. When this student started learning to control their abilities, both the student and Aria got very close. While nothing is ever explicitly said, it is pretty clear that they were in love. The Turian says that leaving Aria was the hardest thing they had ever had to do. This character is a lot deeper than it looks at first, and she has earned her place at #9.
While not the name that this character has by choice, this is still one of the most interesting characters of the game for a lot of reasons. Legion is a unit of the actual Geth forces. Not the heretics that everyone believed were the Geth for most of series. Legion gives some amazing insight on the Geth culture, along with a rather ugly look at history. The mission that puts you inside the Consensus is the reason that I have absolutely NO sympathy for the Quarians and their struggle against them. My favorite interaction with Legion is aboard the Heretic central ship. When Shepard points out that judging a mechanical race like organics isn’t the same, so it shouldn’t be done, Legion agrees. He says something that I think is one of the most profound things in this game – that treating every single species like your own is racist. It’s altruistic, but still racism. All alien races must be judged individually, and treated accordingly. Legion was a fascinating look into a race that was very secretive, and made for a great friend who was hard to lose.
7. Jack/Subject Zero
A lot like Aria, this is a character who I like more as the layers get peeled away. Raised in an unbelievably cruel Cerberus facility, Jack was forced to have a love of carnage from an early age. The people there did all sorts of inhumane tests on her to make her the most powerful biotic that humanity could create. Mission accomplished. Unfortunately, all the power backfired on them. Jack broke out of the facility, killing almost every single person there in the process. Afterwards, she wandered the galaxy, doing unspeakable atrocities. Yet, beneath the side of her that seems to almost obsess about killing, Jack has a far more vulnerable side. She is afraid of getting hurt, trusting others and doesn’t let people get close. But as you work with her, she begins to turn around. In Mass Effect 3, if she survived the Suicide Mission, you see that side of her in action. She becomes a teacher of special biotic students at Grissom Academy. She sees these students as her family, and protects them with everything she has. And she becomes a good friend, grudgingly acknowledging that she respected Shepard and was glad to be a part of the crew of the Normandy. The right kind of psychotic in every way.
6. Admiral Steven Hackett
Jacob says something that sums up my thoughts about this guy, “If they make old guys any tougher than that, I’d like to see it.” That’s about all one can say. Hackett is the quintessential soldier. War is his resume, and he knows that he is the best. But like all great commanders, he is not egotistical. He is reserved, quiet and contemplative. He keeps his cool, even when the entire galaxy is looking to fall apart, because he knows that his men and women under his command are counting on him. This character is a great leader, perceptive and that voice of his is just so convincing. The moment he talks, I am certain that this man is in command. It’s an awesome character, who never lets up even unto the very end. He knows that there may be no hope, but he won’t rest until he has exhausted all possible options. That is the kind of person that I want to lead me into battle. Another reason that I love this character is because of something you learn in the Lair of the Shadow Broker mission. You learn that the Alliance was hoping to be able to take Shepard in, and depending on if Shepard cooperated or not, they would be none too kind to him/her. When they ask for permission, without missing a beat, Hackett just denies them. He stood by Shepard, no matter what. I like that.
5. The Illusive Man
Here is a character who I am going to have some disagreement with people with. I personally don’t think that he was always evil the way he was in Mass Effect 3. I’m with Joker in thinking that once upon a time, Cerberus existed to further humanities interests and fight the battles the regular military and the Council refused to. Sure, their methods were extreme, but there was a greater good. In the mission reports, you saw that he was planning to fight the Reapers. He kept a careful eye on potential problems and potential benefits in an anticipated war with them. What happened with the Illusive Man was that he got too close to his enemy. He became Indoctrinated. But when he first started, despite his cruel methods, he did have an admirable goal. With Martin Sheen providing the voice, this character had both charm, class and was likeable. I may have disagreed with his methods, but we both wanted the same thing – to save the galaxy. This character has a dark past, but I still enjoyed my time talking to him. If only things hadn’t gone the way they did. I figure that in a battle with the Reapers, this guy could have made for an invaluable ally.
4. Jeff “Joker” Moreau
Picking Seth Green for this voice was absolutely perfect. He brings some of his comedic charm to this role. Being the smart-ass pilot, Joker starts out a little bit cold. But he warms up to Shepard and brings his unusual perspective to the game, with a nice touch of a kind of his cruel side to point out what needs to be examined. But you do see that underneath his sarcasm, this character is profoundly motivated. Some of the talks that you have with Joker in ME3 are among the best segments in the game. The bit after the Fall of Thessia is my personal favorite. Joker is not only a great pilot, but a rarely honest voice in a game where half the fun is picking through people’s bullshit. And he is at this spot for a reason.
3. Liara T’Soni
Maybe it’s just because I pursued romantic interest with this character as much as I did, but I still think that this is one of the most developed characters in the game. When you first meet her, she is a scared student who had never seen actual war before. But over time, she hardens up. She becomes a powerful information broker. And if you were smart and did the Lair of the Shadow Broker mission, she becomes a DAMN good Shadow Broker. By the end, she can stand among the best of them as a soldier. Liara becomes a hell of an ally. The only real pity in this game is that it doesn’t feel like the relationship truly evolves if you pursue her romantically. Especially if you had been since ME1. By the third game, her and Shepard should have been very close, maybe even living together. With the galaxy going to shit, having someone you love close by seems like an obvious thing to do. My favorite moment is watching her as she is losing her home, and the despair filling her. Yet she resolves to do better. An awesome character, and one that I always wanted.
2. Mordin Solus
A former member of the Salarian Special Tasks Group (STG), this man had a lot of emotional baggage when you first met him. Being not only a damn good soldier, Mordin had a secret. The Genophage, a pathogen that had destroyed Krogan culture, was modified by him, when it was discovered that it wasn’t as effective as it used to be. He did as he was instructed, and while he holds that it was the right thing to do, you also find out that he kept with the project after it was done. He would yearly make visits, to see how things were going. Seeing the results of his actions, the decay of Krogan culture, it changed him. He got out of the military life, opting to find a way to help the people who didn’t have options. He found that on Omega. But in ME3, he gets a chance at redemption and to get personal closure. I loved Mordin because of his outlook on life. Given the short lives of Salarians, many of them choose to believe that their lives are not singular. Mordin’s talks about his own spiritual side were my favorite segment of ME2. The fact that he is getting old and his views on making the most of what’s left of his life. An profound character, with an interesting back-story. Not to mention that in the Citadel DLC, you learn that not only did he do business with Aria, he had sex with her and then beat her at her own game. That’s just awesome.
And my favorite character from the Mass Effect series is -
1. Garrus Vakarian
Garrus’ sexy voice is one of the reasons that I was always female Shepard. The other reason was that I like Jennifer Hale’s voice work better. But yeah, of all the characters on this list, Garrus is the one that I think went through the most change. He starts off as a disgruntled and disillusioned member of C-Sec. He joins up with Shepard, seeing that Shepard can get things done. After stopping Saren and Sovereign, he becomes the leader of a mercenary gang on Omega, dealing with criminals in a more direct fashion. You see his violent side, but also the side of him that wishes to do good. Then, in the third game, you see Garrus pushed to his limits, trying to hold it together while not only the galaxy goes to shit, but so does his home. Garrus is a soldier. Nothing keeps him down. He will fight until there is absolutely nothing left of him, and then keep going. The strongest member of your crew, by far, he makes for an awesome ally and I chose to believe an amazing lover. Oh yeah, he is sexy as hell. I could do horribly naughty things to that voice of his. But I digress. Strong, sure, savvy, funny and never backing down from a fight, he is my favorite character in this amazing series.
So, who are your favorites? Comment and tell me why. Keep the discussion going. It’s an open forum of ideas.
Until next time, a quote,
“I tend to expect the worst anyway, so dreaming about it seems like a waste of good sleep.” -Garrus Vakarian