How Many Shepards Can there Be?

I seriously can’t be the only person who never goes completely paragon or renegade when playing Mass Effect. It’s almost starting to feel like that whenever I discuss the games with people. Maybe I just don’t see the “game” inside as strongly, but I think there’s something wrong with that.

In my opinion if you’re gonna approach the game as one or the other, you may as well just choose at the beginning and make it all automatic from there. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mass Effect 3 did this with its “action” setting for the game flow. I just like to think that when I create a character, that they are at least slightly more complex than the two overarching choices BioWare provides.

I have back stories and whatnot that, in my mind, color who my characters are beyond what path they follow. They might do a paragon action in one place, and a renegade in others, but not because those are paragon or renegade actions. Perhaps that’s just inevitable for anyone having to build an RPG character.

Now I understand that the paragon/renegade system is incorporated into the “game” aspect of Mass Effect and that’s how a lot of people choose to see it: for the charm/intimidate points and unlockable dialogue. ME2 even punishes “neutral” Shepards by locking out somewhat critical conversation choices. In my opinion that’s part of the problem, but maybe only because it’s presented in such a binary way, like the inFAMOUS games where you choose powers based on karma. The system is slightly broken in the first game too because one of my characters ended up with full paragon and nearly full renegade simultaneously.

Maybe I’d be fine if the story/gameplay feedback loop was a bit more multi-faceted and not based on scales but simply choices. So far the best example of a choice-run game in recent times is probably The Witcher 2. For starters the entire setting of the game is unrelentingly grey without scales to speak of. You just choose and things happen, sometimes with unpredicted consequences. Even if TW2 diverges in exactly two directions in a lot of places (including one major fork in the road affecting most of the game) it’s less about morality and more about what the protagonist’s priorities are. On top of that CDProjekt got it to work with a pre-written protagonist.

I’m just saying. Do you really want to concede that BioWare just wrote two characters and simply choose from one of those?


  • Fez has finally gone in for certification at Microsoft. You remember that game right?
  • Drafted this whole post on the iPhone’s WordPress app.  Not too bad really.
  • To all you new Vita owners: Crush for the PSP – one of the most underrated games of recent times, is currently $5 on PSN. GO GET IT.
  • Yeah that Pokemon Yellow ripoff got pretty popular on iOS before they took it down, but do you really think it made nearly as much money as any conventional Pokemon release?
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One thought on “How Many Shepards Can there Be?

  1. volvocrusher says:

    I hate going all the way. I usually have a template of what I want my Bioware character to be and follow through on that. Sometimes he’s a dick to everyone but his party, others he’s mostly nice with a few beserk buttons, and every now and then I’ll make a schizophrenic character.

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