www.GameInformer.com
Switch Lights

The lights are on

What's Happening

Countdown To Mass Eff3ct, pt 8: Seven Characters That Could've Been Squadmates

Folks, humanity has been counting down the days, and we've finally reached that inevitable moment: the Reapers are on the horizon, and will invade the planet Earth this March. Mass Effect 3 will be upon us, and all of the galaxy's Shepards - both male and female- will begin their journey to conclude the current gen's most definitive RPG franchise. This blog series will pay tribute to the franchise as we brace ourselves for the upcoming finale by chronicling my own journey and experiences with the Mass Effect series. We'll continue this series with a look at seven characters that I feel should've been squadmates. They each have the edge and the skills to succeed in their own unique way, so let's take a gander, as I consider their strengths, weaknesses, and determine their usefulness. DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE REVIEW, SPOILERS MAY BE PRESENT. NOTE: THAT AWESOME PIC ABOVE WAS DONE BY NONE OTHER THAN THE TALENTED ARTGHOUL71

 

7) BLASTO


Game: Mass Effect 2

Description: This one is the first Hanar Spectre, and this one's legendary exploits are widely known throughout the galaxy, including the extranet.

Advantages: This one is not a tool of the Council, and does not abide by mission parameters.  This one also has the mental faculties to utilize the powers of the Enkindlers, and this one is never too emotionally distressed or intimidated to harness them. This one keeps a punitive projectile emission device in every appendage, preferably an M-76 Revenant, like every charismatic and characteristically deviant jellyfish would; this one also keeps a casual cohabitation partner in every port. Most importantly of all, this one has an aesthetically pleasing face name, perfect for Shepard's squad.

Drawbacks: This one has bigger things to do, like star in autobiographical portrayals of this one's adventures. Those ones also desire to boycott this one due to those ones' disapproval of pejorative representations of this one's species.

Usefulness: This one does not normally have time for your solid waste excretions, but if Bioware would deem so, this one would have no problem starring in another cinematic masterpiece alongside you.

 

6) GIANNA PARASINI


Game: Mass Effect 1 and 2

Description: The intrepid Internal Affairs agent that you may or may not have assisted in the arrest of Anoleis on the planet Noveria. She returned in Mass Effect 2, and also had a mission you could assist her in investigating.

Advantages: Since Gianna Parasini originally intended to become a cop or C-Sec officer, she most likely has substantial combat training and experience with firearms. In terms of her profession, she also has extensive experience dealing with white collar crime, and possibly technical experience. She'd be a valuable information broker that could support Shepard when it comes to investigating high profile developments, opening up several unique missions or assignments. One centering around a corporate interest in dark energy could lead to a thrilling - and better handled - conspiracy with espionage to complement the action, possibly involving the Reapers, as well.

Gianna's history also makes her a character ripe for conversation, especially if Shepard is Earthborn, and would be an excellent way for them to develop an intimate relationship if she was available as a love interest. At the very least, they would have an especially meaningful relationship as friends. It's possible that she might appear in ME 3, since she is a recurring character. Parasini would also be an interesting addition to the human characters of Shepard's squad, with a story that many can relate with.

Drawbacks: We don't really know the full extent of Parasini's experience in combat. She doesn't seem to have any powers or unique abilities that offset this - such as biotics, etc. One could excuse the inclusion of technical abilities, since some of the investigations she does probably do involve a modicum of experience with omni-tools. She also doesn't have the time to deal with more extreme cases, due to the nature of her work. However, I could see her as the female counterpoint to Hackett.

Usefulness: Gianna Parasini would be an interesting character to see fighting alongside Shepard. However, I'd have to see her in action before I can decide on whether she'd be believable. She'd also need a dramatic conflict that motivates her, and while the Reaper invasion would suffice as a subtext, it would certainly be too conventional. At best, she'd be slightly above average without this. Nonetheless, she'd be a welcome recruit, perhaps in a DLC mission.



5) PATRIARCH


Game: Mass Effect 2

Description: The grizzled old former Krogan Warlord that became a puppet of Aria, after being defeated by her in a failed assassination attempt. If you became his krantt and killed the Krogan assassins hunting for him, he should still be alive.

Advantages: Patriarch's an incredibly old Krogan, but a Krogan nonetheless. He has a lot of tactical experience, especially in combat, that could prove invaluable to Shepard's squad. Thus, he'd probably operate as more of a mentor to Shepard, and possibly, Grunt, similar to the more auxiliary and passive role that Mordin plays in the larger narrative of Mas Effect. Or, depending upon the strength of Bioware's writing, Patriarch could effectively become a stellar asset to battle with advanced Krogan attacks and abilities over time, in a bid to reclaim the glory he once possessed. I can especially imagine a specialized mission centering around this personal journey through a set of challenges Patriarch would have to face in order to recondition himself, possibly one of the many rites of the Krogan race. This would especially add an interesting wrinkle to the story, and Patriarch's experience could be an excellent avenue to understanding the Krogan's complex and underdeveloped culture.

Drawbacks: He's old. This might make him a bit contrived as a squadmate; our lack of understanding regarding the more nuanced aspects of Krogan biology and culture also contributes to this. Perhaps he'd be better for a one-off mission and as a temporary squadmate.

Usefulness: Patriarch has a lot of potential when one considers the strength of his character and colorful history. However, I think the crux of his success as a believable member of Shepard's squad will depend largely on how well Bioware writes his character. With a convincing story of personal transformation, I can easily see this Krogan becoming a contender once again in the battlefield, or at the very least, an excellent passive character, similar in tradition to Joker and Chakwas.


4) MATRIARCH AETHYTA


Game: Mass Effect 2

Description: Aethyta is an Asari Matriarch who bartends at a club in Illium. Shepard may help her get rid of a pesky troublemaker, depending on your playthrough.

Advantages: Aethyta, unlike the others on my list, has a particularly explosive history that directly relates to one of your fellow squadmates - I won't ruin the secret, however. She's also clearly an Asari with impressive biotic powers and a history involving a Krogan father and an Asari mother, both of whom played integral roles in the Krogan Rebellions. She's a far cry from the mystical and refined image of the Asari, with a pragmatic and candid approach to life's problems, as well as radical views in contrast to other Asari characters in the series, making her a nice departure from convention, as well as an all-around sieve of wisdom, like her name suggests.

Drawbacks: She's a bartender, and while I can definitely imagine her as a member of Shepard's squad, I can't quite see her as an active one right now. Matriarch Aethyta seems resigned to the life she currently lives, and as a result, would require - much like the other characters on this list - a very powerful and transformative new conflict to justify her character shift. Nonetheless, it's impossible to argue that she isn't capable of being one.

Usefulness: Matriarch Aethyta would be a character I'd enjoy having on my squad, or in the very least, in my company. She has a great, down-to-earth personality with a lot of insight to offer Shepard, and I can imagine her having a more prominent role later in the story, especially with regards to another character in Shepard's company. While it might be slightly difficult to convincingly sell her as a force to be reckoned with in combat, I'm more than certain Matriarch Aethyta could prove that she's still got it going on.


3) CORPORAL TOOMBS


Game: Mass Effect 1; you receive a letter from him in Mass Effect 2

Description: Corporal Toombs is a former Alliance marine who survived a thresher maw attack in the colony of Akuze. He was later abducted by Cerberus and experimented on, even having thresher maw acid injected into his blood. Toombs escaped however, and eventually went on a crusade to assassinate the scientists involved in the experiments on Akuze. Depending on the events of the mission on Ontarom, he may have survived.

Advantages: Toombs is a character that shares a unique history with Shepard if your character is a Sole Survivor. This would provide a nice backstory that further develop Shepard's history before the events of the first story. The conflicts that Toombs has had to deal with since his experiences with Cerberus would also complement this, as well as the psychological scars he deals with currently. Combat-wise, he'd be a solid squadmate due to his history with the Alliance, possibly one styled in the tradition of Zaeed.

Drawbacks: Toombs is completely unstable and bordering on psychotic. He also currently despises Shepard for joining Cerberus, and has even set up a mercenary band. Toombs also has no qualms admitting that he'd probably assassinate you if he ran into you while hunting Cerberus. Nonetheless, he'll also be a fairly unstable person and will generate lot's of conflict, possibly with Miranda if she joins your crew. While this could obviously inject the necessary edge that this series needs to remain captivating and emotionally impressive, it could end up a bathos fest if poorly handled.

Usefulness: Corporal Toombs has the experience, personality, and drama to make a plausible addition to Shepard's squad. His instability could provide players with a moving and kinetic relationship if it's written effectively. However, Toombs runs the risk of becoming excessively overdramatic, due to the sensitive nature of his experiences and their effect on him psychologically. While he would probably work more effectively as an antagonist in a side mission, Toombs perhaps could be a much-needed wild card for Shepard's squad.



2) SHIALA


Game: Mass Effect 1 and 2

Description: Shiala is a biotic who helped Saren communicate with the Thorian. Originally a follower of Benezia, she too was indoctrinated, until her consciousness merged with the Thorian, becoming its mental slave instead. She was eventually freed when Shepard destroyed it, and may have stayed with the colony on Feros to assist them. If you didn't spare the colonists, Shiala became an Asari Commando. She and Shepard meet again if you spared her life.

Advantages: Put simply, Shiala is an extremely powerful biotic. Her experiences with the Thorian also make her the first person to completely overcome indoctrination, though it is believed this is due in no small part to the mind control of the Thorian. Regardless, her powers - old and new - would make for a devastating squadmate in combat. She's one of the few in my list who I can say would undoubtedly be a formidable asset to Shepard's team, as well as realistic and believable in the context of the narrative as it stands.

Character-wise, Shiala also has a deep history involving her service to Matriarch Benezia, a woman of immense renown that we still have not gotten a sufficient glimpse of. Shiala would provide a wealth of experiences that I can easily see as interesting talking points, especially with respect to Liara. Her experience helping the colony on Feros recover from the devastation of the Geth and the Thorian would also provide a compelling narrative aspect that fleshes out her character. Shiala is also a possible love interest; if you saved most of the colony, she expresses interest in you when you help her on Illium. If she was a Commando, it would be interesting to see how that tragic event has influenced her character and outlook, and would be an excellent point of tension between her and Shepard.

Drawbacks: Shiala either is busy helping the colony on Feros, something she dedicated herself to in exchange for you sparing her life, or entering the merc life as a Commando; she expresses no romantic interest in you whatsoever, and seems highly unlikely to join you. In the latter case, Shiala could be considered a more compelling enemy than friend, since her motives are possibly motivated by revenge or guilt in response to your actions on the colonists. Either way, Shiala doesn't seem to be developing into anything other than a recurring character.

Usefulness: Shiala has many merits that make her an ideal squadmate for Shepard, from powerful biotic abilities, to an intricate history with both the Thorian and Benezia, to a new role as an assistant to the people of Feros. Even her interests in you. She also has other duties that may prevent her from doing this, especially without a convincing and authentic narrative or conflict driving her. However, I think she'd be an excellent addition when all these variables are weighed together. I'd certainly welcome her, and be more than willing to embrace eternity with this complex and intriguing character.


1) ARIA T'LOAK


Game: Mass Effect 2

Description: The Queen of Omega, you meet this infamous biotic while searching for Mordin Solus and Archangel. She'll be appearing in the third entry of Mass Effect as well.

Advantages: She's the lady that toppled Patriarch and turned him into the embarrassment that he is when you first meet him, so she's unquestionably powerful and cunning. Those who've been following the fiction know that she's no longer tied down as the ruler of Omega, and is a character that  people have already expressed interest in seeing alongside Shepard. To compliment this, Aria has an alluring history that spans centuries and is filled with stories ripe for conversation; there's also speculation that's hotly debated regarding the possible ties she may have with Urdnot Wrex, given the multiple identities and former lives she has led before. Her alliance with Shepard could also introduce an entertaining power dynamic that drives their friendship and trust further. While she'd be an interesting character to have an intimate relationship with, Aria nonetheless has enough qualities to stand on her own without one, and may be better suited as a character whom Shepard shares a platonic relationship with. 

Drawbacks: Gameplay-wise, Aria would be dramatically overpowered as a squadmate; those who've read Invasion know what this lady is capable of. Thus, there would need to be a way to balance her out if she was an optional squadmate. Aria, as the fiction reveals, is also completely devoted to Omega, and cares about nothing else above it. Thus, it becomes hard to believe that she would become a mainstay in Shepard's squad, given the possible obligations she feels she has on a personal level to the people there. Revenge will definitely be something that motivates her above all else. Given her overall temperament, it also seems likely Aria would generate a lot of conflict with other members of Shepard's squad, although this could be a useful vehicle for tension and character development. Aria is also incredibly secretive, and reluctant to reveal various aspects of her past, due to the potential danger it could pose to her. 

Usefulness: Aria is a character I deeply wish I could've recruited when I played Mass Effect 2. She has the attitude, personality, and skill as an uncontested biotic to tackle anything that comes in her direction, and would be a juggernaut in your squad. In respect to the lore and continuity, Aria could easily suffice as a temporary squadmate. However, she is one with a history that deserves far more attention, especially if the rumors surrounding her past affairs are in fact true. If she were a DLC character, I could see Aria as someone that Shepard assisted in a unique assignment - say the reclaiming of Omega, for instance. This could present a stellar experience that not only delves into the rich history of the station, but also allows players to peer into the depths of one of Mass Effect's most compelling NPC's.  Or, Aria, through terrific writing, could easily find common ground with Shepard in the fight against Cerberus and other potential threats. Who knows?

 

THE VERDICT: 

I'm pretty sure we all have different characters in this series that we gravitate toward, and that's what makes our experiences special. While it would be nice to see the NPC's we identify with joining us in our exploits, a good and authentic narrative requires that the rules within these worlds remain intact. Nonetheless, it never hurts to speculate or imagine moments where our desires are satisfied, especially while we're waiting on answers to the questions we already have. 

ANY CHARACTERS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE SEEN AS SQUADMATES?

 

 

comments