Mass Effect CharactersTo an outsider, picking 10 of the best characters from a 2-game series may seem trivial. Ask any Mass Effect veteran however, and they will tell you otherwise. The sheer amount of well developed characters in the Mass Effect series makes us wonder, does Mass Effect have the “best” characters in gaming? While the question will lead to opinionated answers, the fact that the question is often asked is testament enough to the quality of those very characters. Without further ado, I give you LAG’s Top 10 Mass Effect characters.*Note: As Commander Shepard is completely different depending on who’s playing, he/she doesn’t count. Enjoy.*
#10: Tali’Zorah nar Rayya
Tali is a morally empowered female quarian technician. It may be quite the mouthful, but every part of that sentence reigns true throughout both games. She first accompanies you when she acquires evidence of Saren’s betrayal. While her suit protects her from environmental dangers lethal to all quarians, nothing about Tali’s personality needs any kind of protecting. The fact that Tali can be your romantic interest, all the while maintaining the mystery behind her looks only helps fuel fan interest in her. Add in the fact that she’s obsessed with ships, tough as nails despite being biologically super susceptible to disease, and always ethically right, and you’ve got yourself #10.
The A.I. assigned to the Normandy 2.0, EDI is used to explain ship rooms and procedures to the player. While “her” loyalty is initially questioned, “she” never once wavers in aiding you. What’s particularly interesting about EDI is that, throughout Mass Effect 2, “she” has a hilarious battle of wits with your pilot, Joker. Eventually, their competition leads to a quasi-romantic relationship that is one of the more strangely humanizing elements in the game. Whatever the case, EDI’s role is as important to the story as it is to the humour.
#8: Aria T’Loak
She curses, she kills, and she’s a downright badass. Not only did Aria lay claim to a nightclub through sheer force, but she keeps around the previous Krogan owner as a sort of trophy. While she does help you out, it’s purely for personal gain to her. She’s an Asari, which means she’s basically a blue-skinned human without hair. For sci-fi fans, that’s more than enough to warrant attraction. Unfortunately, she’s just as likely to kill you then like you. Due to her mysterious past, shady present, and badass personality, Aria deserves the #8 spot. Here’s to hoping she returns as a playable character in Mass Effect 3.
#7: Saren ArteriusThe main villain of the original game,
Saren presented villainy in an interesting and sympathetic way. From afar, a brainwashing scheme may appear two dimensional, Saren’s motives certainly shouldn’t. In an attempt to save some semblance of civilisation, he decides to help the Reapers. Saren believes that by helping them, he, along with a select few, will be spared. Throughout the game, he looks for ways to fight the indoctrination of Sovereign. Despite giving in, he never truly gives up. Even at the game’s conclusion, he performs a last desperate act of redemption by taking his own life. We won’t know whether Saren had the right idea, at least not until Mass Effect 3.
#6: Illusive ManThe mysterious puppet master behind Cerberus is also the smoothest talker of them all. Being that he’s voiced by Martin Sheen, that should come as no surprise. While he does fund the resurrection of Shepard, he is also behind the extremist terrorist group called Cerberus. While we may be fascinated by what we know about other characters, the Illusive Man fascinates us because of how much we don’t know. In essence, we know absolutely nothing. Despite this, the Illusive Man seems to have a plan of his own, what that is we have yet to see. Friend or foe, just or unjust, with the Illusive Man, those words have little meaning.
The Geth that joins your squad. “He” refers to himself as “we” and uses the voice of the Geth collective. His mannerisms stray into humorous territory as “he” tries to figure out how to communicate what he is to Shepard. He raises some real philosophical issues when you have to decide whether to rewrite the extremist Geth, or destroy them. While he may not seem very deep, Legion seems to have some individuality. For an unexplained reason, he decides to repair his armor using Shepard’s old N7 armor. Even his literal reasoning behind it is brilliant:
“Shephard: Why did you use my armor to repair yourself?
Legion: There was a hole.”
Can’t argue with that.
#4: Thane Krios
The sideways blinking assassin, Thane overcomes a terminal illness to help you fight the Collectors. Whether helping steer his son away from the assassin lifestyle, or listening to his photogenic memory recollection, you will learn much about the cool, calm Krios. The truly intriguing thing about Thane is that he’s calm, civilized and a killer like none other. The whole terminal disease bit also makes the player sympathetic to his cause. Its hard to make a character badass, likeable, and still civilized and ethically just. Thane pulls it off with ease.
#3: Urdnot Wrex
While he is crude, he’s also a downright badass. An enormous Krogan who killed his own father, leads his own clan, and is the only member of your squad with enough balls to stand up to Shepard on Virmire. While he’s a typical merc that does dirty work for the right price, he also stands true to his own sense of morals. He might be the most dominant Krogan you’ll ever meet, and by the 2nd game, believes the Genophage that decreases Krogan fertility is a good thing, only the strong survive. For being such a independent beast, Wrex is #3 on the list.
#2: Garrus VakarianThe sharp shooting C-Sec officer that’s been with you through thick and thin. Garrus is a Turian that undergoes one of the bigger character changes between games. He goes from justice loving good boy to badass sniper vigilante. While his loyalty never wavers, his faith in the system does. He’s hard on himself, fair to others, and one of the most personal and likeable characters in the series. With a handle like ‘Archangel’ and a mean burn scar on his face and suit, it’s easy to see why he’s darker in the 2nd game. We loved his righteous charm in the 1st game, and loved his rough, killer vigilante ways in the 2nd game. There’s just so much to love about Garrus Vakarian.
#1: Jeff “Joker” MoreauIf being voiced by Seth Green wasn’t enough, Joker is essentially a carbon copy. The best damn pilot in the galaxy is one of the reasons success is even possible. He does this all while having some sort of crippling disease that makes his bones brittle. He is closer to Shepard than anyone else, and some might say his/her best friend. After all, he can’t be a romantic interest no matter what gender, and is friendly to you despite anything you do. If this weren’t enough, Joker provides some of the most genuinely funny moments in Mass Effect. Hell, you are never in the Normandy without him. He’s the only other character you ever take control of after all. He is very much the heart of Mass Effect.
While I try to pinpoint exactly why these characters are in the list, it really boils down to an undefinable trait that makes fans love their characters. Some will say that Liara, Grunt, Jack, Mordin, or any number of Mass Effect characters deserve to be in the top 10. A gamers connection to a character, especially in a series a great series like Mass Effect, is a very personal, and very independent, connection. So let me know what yours is! Until next time, thanks for reading!