Although I will admit that there are some things about the game which put me off, e.g. “The game constantly reminds the player through story and dialogue that Shepard is the most power and most capable leader the galaxy has got.” Why is it necessary to show the rest of the galaxy as being incompetent? Setting up Shepard as a lone-wolf Cassandra was amongst the things that I liked least in ME2 (others: the Collectors, human exceptionalism, Shep’s death and resurrection, the near total side-lining of the geth story).
When the Collector base is about to blow and Shepard is almost left behind, she is not rescued – she jumps through space and makes it to her ship. When she is drugged by the Batarian on Omega, she is not saved by her teammates, male or female, nor is she avenged by them. She wakes up, goes back to Omega, and deals with the bastard herself. That was a narrative moment which easily could have been turned into a ‘helpless Shepard’ story, but it didn’t. She was drugged, she woke up, she took care of it. End of story.
Shepard dies, her body is recovered and eventually turned over to a human extremist terrorist organisation that she spent a good deal of ME finding out is horrid (just a smidgen), and they in turn resurrect her against her will, along with a few upgrades to which she did not get to agree. Working for/with Cerberus at first feels like repayment for their saving her, and the player is never truly given the choice to walk away from them (thereby receiving a CRITICAL MISSION FAILURE message), or questions their actions further, or react to it at all, really.
She is quite capable of carrying Garrus bridal style, thank you.
Thanks in no small part to those Cerberus upgrades, no doubt. (
I AM GOING TO BE LAUGHING OVER THIS MENTAL IMAGE FOR DAYS. HE WOULD BE SO FLUSTERED.)
Shepard is not my favourite female character from a video game (none have yet to surpass The Longest Journey’s April Ryan), and there’s a lot that I dislike about Mass Effect, but in general: oh goodness yes to almost all of this. It’s terribly empowering to play as femshep, and I cannot think of a stronger female character.
Re “why is it necessary to show the rest of the galaxy as being incompetent”, I completely agree. It bugs me to no end. Honestly, Mass Effect is like those ‘white savior’ icky narratives only with aliens instead of PoC. (I think it’s the main reason it’s so hard for me to play as dude!Shep - it turns ME pretty much into the one story I’m sick of the most) You have council that’s completely incompetent. Turian, Asari and Salarian militaries that are nowhere to be found. Hell, if you don’t save the council it’s replaced by all human council. WTF? Humans are newbies to the galaxy. Their politics/science/technology (and on average, even biology as they’re not often biotics) is vastly inferior to those of some or all other alien species. They’re basically children. Even if they were faced with the much more advanced alien technology for some time, it’s still doubtful they could even have as good military, not to mention better, so soon. So why is it that it’s a human who’s the capable one, the one who knows-what’s-what and what’s really going on, the one who’ll show the entire stupid, incapable, passive galaxy how it’s all done, the one that’ll single-handedly make all the decisions that will decide the faith of the entire galaxy.
And then I remember how pissed off people are at DA2, how much they mind not having that omnipotence, how they think they should be able to control not only their character’s actions, but also Anders’ and, you know, everything and everyone in the entire freaking world around them (why couldn’t I have saved Kirkwall?! bawwww what kind of game is this?!), and I remember why we can’t have nice things and have to suffer the same old messiah bullshit again and again.
About the rest, IDK. I LOVE femShep. But I do think a lot of why she’s so awesome is due to the fact that she’s just been completely forgotten by BioWare. They made Shepard with dude!Shep in mind, and I suspect most of what’s good about femShep is a concequence of them not paying her enough attention to screw her up. And, carrying Garrus was mentioned - that’s a great example of what I mean when I say it’s all written with dude!Shep in mind. You have these moments in the game, like when she carries Kaidan from the nuke site on her shoulder, when as much becomes clear. And I’m not sure how I feel about these moments. On the one hand, I absolutely adore, say, Shepard’s butchy way of sitting (whatever the reason it’s there is. hint: the reason is negligence), but, on the other hand, I’m not sure if having her, say, unrealistically carry Kaidan away adds to her being a strong female character or a Strong Female Character TM. (not that she could ever be a Strong Female Character TM overall, even if some of the actions/lines tend toward it)
I would just like to say something about the “humans are saving everyone, zomg!” plotline.
In Mass Effect 1 we learn that the Citadel had already sent out the Reaper signal years prior. This is something that strikes me as incredibly important within the larger narrative structure. Because the Reaper cycle is exactly that, a cycle. It rises and falls on the same levels and it is constant. The signal being sent off hinders that.
Humans weren’t supposed to be there yet.
Humans were supposed to be the new Asari. They were supposed to find the Citadel empty, other species completely wiped out except for remnants that would fuel speculation and academics and yet against completely throw them off course of the reapers. Without encountering the Turians, how long till they would have truly mastered the mechanics of mass effect? When they eventually found the Citadel they would have settled in until other races eventually joined them.
It’s not that humans are smarter or better than other aliens, it’s the pure fact that they’re NEWER. They aren’t settled in, they are more likely to question what’s going on because they are new and constantly expanding, most of that expansion into extremely hostile and useless space really. And we are children, which means we poke our nasty little fingers into everything we shouldn’t.
The council isn’t incompetent, they’re complacent. Everything has worked this way for thousands upon thousands of years. Why should they believe this true threat? Why should they believe humans, who are new and bossy (and honestly very similar to some kind of turian/krogan hybrid personality wise), who constantly settle in dangerous areas and then cry foul when danger happens. They’re constnatly asking for more power than they can handle. There is no reason to listen to the humans. They are the ones that have been there, humans are new and know nothing.
Shepard just happened to find the beacon.
You neglect to mention that in ME2, few believe Shep when she speaks of the Reapers, including most of humanity and especially those in the upper levels of the Alliance. Was it necessary that every single government, including Shep’s own, be shown as incapable and inefficient in order to make Shep into a lone-wolf badass Cassandra for whom working for/with Cerberus is the only choice? And, whilst I do have problems with human exceptionalism in ME2, these lie with the Reaper obsession with humanity/Shep, not with humanity being awesome.
That said, I do dislike that there is an all-human Council should the Council not be saved in ME as there is no way the rest of Citadel space would let that occur. (e.g. The asari must have some government officials who work with the Citadel yet are based on Thessia who could be moved into that position.) Saving the Council is one of the few decisions that I metagame since playing ME2 as I cannot support its outcome no matter how much I fanwank. (I’d be welcome to anyone saying how they can.)
Yes Shepard’s a savior. But they are a savior that relies very heavily on other people. Shepard is nothing without her team. If she didn’t inspire people’s loyalty than she wouldn’t be anything. And with Jennifer Hale’s hints that we see more of her ‘humanity’ in ME3, I’m hoping that this gets explored more.
I’m not entirely discounting it because yeah sometimes it can get a little eyeroll-y, but that time lapse is a plot point that has always interested me. Because why are we able to fight off the reapers? Because the Protheans unbalanced the cycle. Which I think is fantastic, because none of ME is possible without the Protheans.
Also Shepard carrying Kaidan is like one of my favorite things. Because Kaidan’s a biotic, he’s not a terribly built up dude and he’s really about the same size as Ash. Shep’s all hoped up on adrenaline (and possibly biotics) and lifts him up like a mom lifting a car off her baby. Because teammates in danger turns Shepard into the Hulk.
All Alliance soldiers receive gene therapy, so I have no problems believing that Shep+necessity could carry Kaidan, Ash, Garrus, or anyone save, say, Legion (their platform may be more than a bit heavy).
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