Mass Effect 2 really is something else. If you look at the story from across the room, it looks fairly linear if not excitingly grand. An old race of sentient machines are bent on repeating an age old cycle of leaving behind advanced technology only to destroy the civilizations who benefit from it. Commander Sheperd is a man of remarkable achievement in his military who finds himself the only one capable of stopping them.
When you take a closer look though, the story can vary greatly depending on who you talk to, offering a very different image of Commander Sheperd and his beliefs.
Just who is your Commander Sheperd?
My Sheperd, Tai Sheperd, believes in peace by action. He's a good guy who wants to be the nice guy. You can trust him to take care of your mother. But when people don't show him respect or are openly hostile, all bets are off. He'll be the first to pull out his gun and fill people with holes. Diplomacy is like sniping to him: the slightest provocation forces him to pull the trigger. He was an infiltrator through and through, keeping his allies close and his enemies in his scope.
My Sheperd respected power but didn't abuse it. He respected the krogan for their strength and adaptability. He was curious of the quarians and how industrious they were despite living in environmental suits. And he admired the turians for their military discipline. My Sheperd was calculating of every move on and off the battlefield. And emotions to him weren't just baggage in war but a source of motivation when controlled.
Mari Sheperd was my second play through and was a particular hard ass. The mission came first at all times and getting it done using as little questions as possible meant efficiency to her. If you weren't on her good side, that meant you were in front of her gun. You are worth nothing to her until you can prove your mettle. She wasn't very buddy-buddy with her crew. She was commander of a ship, not your best friend. But the camaraderie between true warriors is something to be admired in her case.
To her, violence is the only universal language widely understood throughout the vast galaxy (asides, strangely enough, English). It's survival of the fittest out in this wide galaxy of ours and it's everyone's job to take care of themselves and no one else. To be weak means to be exposed to danger and taken advantage of. To be strong means you are prepared to fight for your life and everything you believe in. And as she is strong, she is prepared to fight with deadly force at all times. Mari Sheperd fights as a sentinel (she was a vanguard in ME1) and is a walking embodiment of battle, wading into the battlefield with reinforced shields along with all manner of biotic power and engineering talents.
Earlier today I got into a huge conversation with my friends about how ME2 panned out for us. I personally think exploring the new romantic interests was a big draw. Tai Sheperd, for example, could now finally act on his intense fascination of Tali'Zorrah nar Rayya (now vas Neema). She just held this mysterious yet beautiful appearance, much like the mystique of a veiled Middle Eastern woman.
My friend Kelvin Smith however, talked about his super paragon Sheperd, a devoted soldier of good, but most interesting to me, totally faithful to his past relationship in ME1 with former asari team mate, Liara T'soni. Despite not having a romantic rendezvous before the suicide mission, there's something to be said about Kelvin's Sheperd, who thoughtfully looks at a picture of Liara in his captain's quarters and smiles as it brings him comfort.
My friend Karen on the other hand was only content on making the ugliest, meanest Commander Sheperd of all time. His cheeks had right angles, his skin seemed porous somehow, and his eyes seemed to be more soulless then a dead fish. Every answer was from the bottom right of the conversation wheel, and she didn't care how much of a hard ass she was. She only wanted to show the universe how big a dick she could be.
Bioware may have found a loophole in storytelling by referring to the main character as Sheperd at all times, but no two Sheperds are alike. Today I was talking to my friends about their own unique Sheperds and it was a fascinating look at how different their Sheperd was from mine. What was your Sheperd like?
Picture from toysrevil blog