List of Mass Effect characters
The Mass Effect games take place in the 22nd Century. In 2148, mankind discovers an alien artifact on Mars that shows that humanity had been the study of an intergalactic species since the Cro-Magnon period. Research of the artifact, in addition to providing new technologies for humanity, led to the discovery that Pluto's moon Charon was really a "mass relay", an alien construct that is capable of transporting any ships faster than light to a nearby mass relay on the galactic scale. The mass relays work by creating a "mass effect", the production of dark energy from a reaction with Element Zero to slingshot spacecraft to the next relay; Element Zero is found to also react with biological entities to give them "biotics", limited powers that evoke the mass effect on a much smaller scale.
On Earth, the Systems Alliance was formed to safeguard's humanity as it expanded to new colonies through the mass relay. Roughly ten years later, humanity made its first contact with one of the other alien races, the Turians, which erupted into the First Contact War. Though casualties were small on both sides, the war was interrupted by the Citadel Council, members of three alien races that oversaw maintaining peace in the galaxy. Humanity was then welcomed into the collective group of aliens, and learn that the artifacts, mass relays, and the giant station that serves as the seat of power in the galaxy, the Citadel, are all remnants of the Protheans, believed to be a progenitor race to all alien species in the Milky Way but have since disappeared.
The Citadel Council welcomes humanity into the Citadel, providing them with a Systems Alliance embassy and allow human members to join C-Sec, the Citadel Security forces, despite other alien races having waited for such a privilege for some time. As the newest race to join the Citadel, humanity tends to be looked down upon by other races, but the Citadel Council soon invites a human to become part of the Council and another to join the Spectres, elite enforcers that use both espionage and forced to complete their assignments. On Earth, there is concern about how humanity is treated by these other species, and pro-human groups, seeking to pull humanity out of the Council at any cost, begin to appear.
The main alien species that make up the Council include the turians, a proud militaristic species; the asari, a race that favors compromise, diplomacy and pacifism over military power but will resort to combat when needed; and the salarians, an amphibious race who are skilled technologists and inventors. Other species include the krogan, a reptilian warrior race, and the quarians, a nomadic race that were forced to evacuate their homeworld when their development of advanced artificial intelligence created the android-like geth species which turned against their creators. Due to this, the rest of the species in Citadel-controlled space limit their reliance on artificial intelligence, using "virtual intelligence" (VIs) that lack self-awareness.
During the time of the Mass Effect games, the Citadel species come to learn that the Protheans had mostly wiped out over 50,000 years prior by the Reapers, sentient starships that normally occupy the void between the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, but appear every 50,000 years with the sole purpose to wipe out any organic species and evidence of their existence that have risen to dominance. The Mass Effect series starts as the first appearances of the Reapers in this cycle have occurred, whom have enlisted the geth to aid in their mission. Later, remains of the Prothean race appear as the Collectors, their philosophy warped by the war with the Reapers in the past, and whom are now collecting humans and other species to create their own Reaper.
Commander Shepard is the main protagonist of the first three Mass Effect games. The character's first name, gender, background, and appearance are determined by the player on starting a new game, with both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 allowing the player to import saves from previous games to carry over that version of Shepard. Depending on the choice of gender, Shepard is voiced by either Mark Meer or Jennifer Hale.
Narratively, Shepard is named the first human Spectre by the Citadel Council, and given command of the SSV Normandy and its crew to complete their mission. On their first assignment, Shepard is affected by a Prothean artifact that grants them insight on the Reapers, making them the key entity to help protect the species of the Milky Way from being wiped out by the Reapers.
Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams is a human Alliance Marine, voiced by Kimberly Brooks. She becomes part of Shepard's squad during the first observed Reaper attack in the first game. In a late-game choice in the first Mass Effect, the player must choose whether to save Ashley or Kaidan; this choice leads to the other character's death. If Ashley is saved, she will return as a member of Shepard's squad for Mass Effect 3.
Kaidan Alenko is a human Alliance Navy officer, voiced by Raphael Sbarge. Kaidan serves aboard the Normandy from the start of the first game and is part of Shepard's first squad. As with Ashley, Kaiden's character may die depending on the player's choice. If Kaiden survives, he returns in both Mass Effect 2 and 3, after promotions within the Navy, and serves as part of Shepard's squad.
Garrus Vakarian is a male turian, voiced by Brandon Keener, who serves as a squadmate in all three of the games. Garrus is initially a C-Sec officer who joins up with Shepard to escape from all the "red tape" in his job but becomes a vigilante under the alias Archangel on Omega in Mass Effect 2 before his squad is killed. In Mass Effect 3 he leads a "Reapers task force" for the Turians. The character is also the star of the third issue of Mass Effect: Homeworlds.
Garrus's blue-and-black armour colour scheme was kept consistent throughout the series, as was his visor, although grey was added in the third game to reflect his new rank. While the developers were initially worried Garrus and the other alien characters would not prove emotionally compelling, fan feedback surprised them and so he was added as a romance option in 2 and 3.
Liara T'Soni, voiced by Ali Hillis, is an asari academic, archaeologist, and information broker. She joins Shepard's squad in the first and third games in a protagonist role, and appears in the second game as a side character. She is the only squadmate available as a romance option for both a male and a female Shepard throughout the series.
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya is a female quarian, voiced by Ash Sroka (also known as "Liz Sroka"). She is a squadmate in each of the three games and a romance option for the male Shepard. Being a mechanical genius and the daughter of Admiral Rael'Zorah, there is much pressure on Tali to excel. In the first game she is on her Pilgrimage, before handing Shepard incriminating evidence about Saren and joining their crew. In the second game, now Tali'Zorah Vas Neema, she is placed on trial for bringing active geth parts to the quarian Migrant Fleet; the player can influence whether she is declared innocent or guilty. In the third game, now an Admiral for the Migrant Fleet, she plays a pivotal part in the quarians' war with the geth and her people's return to their homeworld, Rannoch. If the player does not romance Tali, she eventually becomes involved with Garrus Vakarian.
Tali's design remained similar between the first and second games. She has received a positive reception and placed on several "top character" lists. Much discussion was held about what her face could look like; however, once the face was revealed in the third game, it garnered extensive criticism, especially as it greatly resembled a stock photo.
A famous bounty hunter and mercenary, Wrex is among the last of the krogan Battle Masters. They are rare individuals who can combine biotic abilities with advanced weaponry and tactics. Wrex quickly gained fame for his battle powers and became a leader of one of the smaller Urdnot tribes at a very young age. To date, Wrex is the youngest krogan to be granted the honor in 1,000 years. Following the krogan genophage, Wrex turned his back on his people when his father, a krogan warlord who wanted to resume the war, betrayed and attempted to kill him after a feigned attempt at reconciliation. Wrex escaped, though not before taking his father's life in retaliation. During the past three centuries, Wrex has worked as a bodyguard, mercenary, soldier and a bounty hunter.
Urdnot Wrex is voiced by Steven Barr.
Miranda Lawson is an officer of the pro-human group Cerberus, first appearing in Mass Effect Galaxy and then serving as a squadmate in Mass Effect 2. In addition to these, the character also makes an appearance in the Mass Effect: Redemption comic series and in Mass Effect 3 (provided the player does not import a save where she dies). She is revealed to have been genetically designed by her father to be perfect and ran away from home to join Cerberus.
Early concept art for Miranda focused on balancing her sex appeal with a uniform suitable for her position as a Cerberus officer. Originally conceived as blonde, after her uniform was designed, it was decided that black hair would fit better with her "femme fatale" look. Casey Hudson has said her uniform was made tight due to her being designed to be "perfect" and "beautiful". Miranda Lawson is voiced by and modeled after actress Yvonne Strahovski. In Mass Effect 2, camera angles and shots such as a close-up of her butt were employed to focus on "her curves and sexuality", identified as key parts of her character, her being someone genetically engineered to be "perfect" and a femme fatale. David Kates composed Miranda's musical theme, intending to "demonstrate her strength, but also her vulnerable side, and a sadness that is deep inside her".
1UP.com's Ryan Winterhalter called Miranda one of three areas where Mass Effect 2 was sexist, finding not fault with her concept as a genetically-perfect woman, but mainly with the camera's focus on her behind. BioWare marketing director David Silverman defended the shots, believing they helped define the character, and also commenting on similar shots for male squadmate Jacob Taylor. BioWare revealed that Miranda's loyalty mission, which had a more "a touchy-feely" plot, was completed more than Grunt's on PC, but in the case of Xbox 360 players, it was the opposite. UGO.com listed the character as the "ninth-hottest fictional woman of 2012", calling her a "sultry brunette". Strahovski was nominated for "Best Performance by a Human Female" in the Spike Video Game Awards. Upon hearing news for a potential Mass Effect film, Dan Ryckert of Game Informer looked at the different characters and felt Strahovski should reprise the role, calling her the "obvious choice".
Mordin Solus is a salarian, voiced by Michael Beattie in Mass Effect 2, and voiced by William Salyers in Mass Effect 3. A brilliant scientist, yet also a competent soldier due to his membership in the salarian Special Tasks Group earlier in his life, Mordin Solus possesses a hyperactive and eccentric personality, a rapid and stilted manner of speaking, and (as with all salarians) a flawless autobiographical and eidetic memory. He was a key member in the science team that researched the remodification of the Krogan Genophage (a terraforming viral-weapon designed to sterilize the Krogan species), an action that he feels guilty about but considers the best possible solution to a once growing problem. Mordin believes in acting in the best interests of the galaxy; his scientific work is governed by strong moral standards and unquestionable respect for all forms of life.
The character returns in Mass Effect 3, providing he survived the suicide mission in the previous game. After defeating the Collectors, Mordin returned to STG as a special consultant, whilst also working as an inside source for Clan Urdnot. If Maelon's research data was saved, he uses it to aid in the treatment of the surviving female krogan codenamed Eve, the only survivor of his student's experiments. He is encountered on the salarian homeworld, Sur'Kesh, when Shepard is sent there to aid in the evacuation of the female.
Mordin is listed on the Normandy SR-2's memorial wall on the Crew Deck, if he did not survive the events of Mass Effect 2 and 3.
He has received a positive reception, with Jose Otero of 1UP.com writing an article on him being "awesome", receiving nominations for three "Best New Character" awards, and appearing in numerous "top character" lists.
Legion is the name given to the synthetic intelligence geth platform 2A93, a geth terminal designed to operate outside of geth space with organics. It is a gestalt consciousness. Legion belongs to the true geth consensus, the Servants of the People. The name is given by EDI based on the "Gospel of Mark 5:9 - Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac". Legion investigates the worlds Shepard visited. Eventually, it found the Normandy SR-1's wreckage on the planet Alchera, and learned of Shepard's death. It is a skilled hacker and marksman and generally prefers long-range combat. It is fascinated with Shepard.
Legion is voiced by D. C. Douglas.
Legion was well received. Steven Hopper of IGN listed the character as the fifth-best Mass Effect teammate, looking forward to seeing how he would develop in the then-upcoming Mass Effect 3 and calling his recruitment "an awesome twist". GamesRadar's Jordan Baughman cited Legion as an example of BioWare's "Kickass Robot" character archetype, following on from Knights of the Old Republic's HK-47 and Dragon Age's Shale. GamesRadar also called him one of the best new characters of 2010, praising his "clinical and decidedly mechanical delivery" and intriguing dialogue. Casey Lynch, again from IGN, believed Legion to have one of gaming's best "first encounters" with a character, thanking his musical theme and its "rousing crescendo". In a list of top AI characters of the 2000s decade, Game Informer's Matt Miller included Legion as an honorable mention.
The Illusive Man
The Illusive Man leads the series' pro-human group, Cerberus. He wears an open suit that connotes both futuristic style and the "casual swagger of a charming billionaire". His eye implants make him appear slightly inhuman. He is normally seen in an empty office with no indication of his living arrangements. He is voiced by Martin Sheen.
The character first appeared in 2008's novel Ascension, and made his video game debut in Mass Effect 2 as a supporting character. In the game, he arranges to revive Commander Shepard from death, provides Shepard with a ship and crew, and sends Shepard on several missions against the human-abducting Collectors. The Illusive Man later appears in Mass Effect 3 as one of the main antagonists, where he works against Shepard's attempts to destroy the Reapers, wishing to control them instead. He appears in several other Mass Effect comics series and novels. Mass Effect: Evolution tells his origin story.
His critical reception was positive. Martin Sheen received praise for his voice acting. However, some criticized Mass Effect 2's story for forcing the player to work with the Illusive Man and Cerberus despite their antagonistic role in the first game.
Jeff "Joker" Moreau is the human pilot of the Normandy, and is voiced by Seth Green. Joker is handicapped and has limited mobility, but makes up for being a skilled pilot, as well as a sarcastic foil to Shepard.
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