8 Reasons Why Commander Shepard is the Greatest Video Game Character Ever

Mass Effect 3 Pre-Order Screenshot 2

It’s no secret around these parts that I love Commander Shepard. Possibly even more than puppies. Also cake. Definitely more than the Spike VGAs.

I love Mass Effect’s protagonist more than any sane person should love a fictional character ; Shepard takes up the entire chunk of cells in my heart that should be reserved for a really good book, your favourite meal or that one Starbucks barista whose name you don’t know but still have a crush on anyway.

My point is, Commander Shepard, in my opinion, is the greatest video game character of all time (settle down, Kanye West) and I suspect that some of you share that thought nugget, hence this list – read on, share and enjoy!

Click ‘Continue Reading’ to find out why I think Commander Shepard is the greatest.

1 Commander Shepard is You

Game developers have started doing this really cool thing called ‘character customisation’, you might have heard of it.

Yes it is cool, hip and funky, but does it really work? No, not really. Attempts to mould our really quite good-looking faces into our favourite video games means that we often end up looking like lumpy mashes of deformed porridge. What BioWare have done with Commander Shepard deserves some sort of award, no, I still have not had any success in making femShep resemble my mug but she is still me in the sense that she embodies my personality and the choices I would make should I ever be blasted off into space to shoot the ectoplasm out of everything that floats, has a singular amount of eyeholes or anything is vaguely humanoid/robotic.

That’s the closest I’ll ever get to actually being outside the atmosphere.

2. Commander Shepard is Totally Badass

Girl or boy, Shepard will not hesitate to kick your ass.

Not held down by such conventions as PMS and pink coloured objects, as society would expect of a woman, Shepard and her oestrogen can and will shoot your face off with a sub-machine gun because it’s her job to do so and she does it really damn well. The same goes for mShep, he won’t stop in the middle of battle to scratch his balls, or whatever it is that the opposite sex do, he to can and will put an end to entire alien races to save his, and his party’s back.

Commander Shepard is the badass I wish I could be.

3. Commander Shepard is a Zombie


Hold on to your comb-overs folks, this next bit of writing jumbo reveals the first major ME2 set-piece, okay? Okay.

If you’ve played it, you’ll know that at the beginning of Mass Effect 2, you play through a truly stellar piece of video gaming, where you experience the destruction of the SS Normandy. You walk into floating armchairs and take in the oxygen-lacking atmosphere and it’s all fun and games until you die. Don’t worry! You come back to life looking all attractive/mash potato-ey (depending on how your character creation went) thanks to the help of a maybe-quite-possibly sinister hated-by-everybody company called Cerberus who put you back together Humpty Dumpty style, battle scar and all!

The fact that Commander Shepard went through this twisted and quite literally fatal experience and came out of the other side to tell the tale, go about saving the world and avoid nomming anyone’s brain, is a remarkable feat in my book. /endspoiler

4. Commander Shepard Keeps the Normandy Together

Avoiding point #3 where Shep quite obviously didn’t do that and we all watched as the second greatest space vessel in all of history (after the Enterprise) got obliterated to a pile of really pretty space junk, Shepard’s job is world-saver/thing-shooter by day and Normandy Human Resource Coordinator by night.

If you haven’t experience the tedious gameplay mechanic of asking monotonous questions to clearly frustrated team members, then you haven’t experienced the full beauty of the Mass Effect games. Making small talk should be a obligatory in-game experience – it makes you feel like you’re making a difference in these people’s lives as they live in space away from their loved ones, your asking how they are might cheer them up.

At the very least, it will improve the quality of the ship’s food as one side mission would suggest…

5. Commander Shepard isn’t Perfect

I even shocked myself when I came up with number 5, but if I love Shepard as much as I say I do, then even I must accept that our Mass Effect hero is a little bit broken.

For one, Shep cannot hold their liquor. I don’t drink but I understand that this is a redeeming quality in a person (!). Kidding.
Commander Shepard doesn’t always know how to think for him or herself, for example, we, as players, might choose the seemingly amusing reply, Shep makes it sound sarcastic, ruining friendships and jeopardising future missions.

Shepard also gives into desires like someone who has never read a self-help book, has never been heart broken or has never been through the tragedy of realising that there’s no milk left when you’ve already poured yourself a bowl of cereal. It’s almost like Shep has never experienced anything ever and bases reactions on a primal instinct of loving people or killing things. It’s a shame really.

I want to give Commander Shepard a hug.

6. Commander Shepard says that Love Is Love, Man

No, I am not about to bring up the Very Big Homosexual Mass Effect Debate up, regarding the fact that Commander Shepard can get his or her homo-on should you choose – I won’t bring it up because a) if you think that queer Shepard is disgusting, wrong etc., then you are dumb and ignorant and b) see point a.

Instead, my point is that Shepard loves whoever the eff Shep wants to love ; if Shep wants to flirt with the overeager, borderline-desperate admin worker Kelly, or if Shepard wants to make eyes at the embarrassingly awkward soldier-man Jacob, then if you press all of the right buttons and say the right things, then Shepard will follow suit.

Shepard just loves everyone, in a romantic way or simply in a *MASS EFFECT 2 SIDE QUEST SPOILER* ‘I murdered your daughter on your behalf, now we’re bonded for life’ sort of way /endspoiler, almost everyone Shepard meets takes up a significant space in their heart.

7. Commander Shepard is Fearless

Badassness does not always equal fearlessness, though Shepard has both.

Right at the beginning of Mass Effect 2, it’s established very clearly that you will be embarking on a suicide mission. Suicide.

At no point does Shepard pipe up and say ‘god dammit, I already died once this month!’ or any other lame excuse, rather, the wonderful leader that Shep is just gets on with it and goes about collecting people who are willing to put their lives on the line too, ready to risk every thing they have to save the world from an untimely demise.

8. Commander Shepard is Different

This is possibly my favourite thing about my beloved fictional character.

Now femShep is perhaps a better example of this than mShep but when unnamed, muscle-bodied characters are a common occurrence (see : Genero-Tron) second only to hunky males with chiselled jawlines and gruff voices, with less personality than any character the Twilight franchise has spawned from its bowels, Commander Shepard is a breath of fresh air.

For one, femShep is a strong lady in a male-dominated field, though her breasts aren’t at all her defining feature, and she always tries her best not to let her emotions get in the way, though even when she does, it doesn’t matter because mShep is susceptible to the same Achilles heel. mShep is able to care and express emotion in a way that most other leading males fail to do.

Deep, multi-faceted characters – developers, if you’re reading, we’d all like more of that please.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/thisisxboxnews Jason of Duty

    Haha, it might surprise you that for me, my one and only is Captain Price :)

    I wish Call of Duty would adopt the same levels of customisation in future titles now… having limited options is a sign of the past.

    We need more control over our characters in games – but I’m not even through the first level on Mass Effect 1 !!!

    • http://jstationx.com Jasmine Henry

      Captain Price is a total badass so I can understand why!

      So do I, it would be nice to pick a voice even, they tend not to use big names for the character that you actually get to play as so I don’t see how it would be too much of a problem?

      Haha, I haven’t played Mass Effect 1, but ME2 is great for character control, I can tell you that much :)

  • Arktur

    Shepard is my hero (:
    I was so excited to be able to play the first game, and I’ve come all the way to the third. And no matter whether I was disappointed with the ending, Commander Shepard is my favourite thing-shooter, lesbian xenophile (or garrusophile), badass to ever shout down a politician.

    • http://jstationx.com Jasmine Henry

      Shepard is quite a few people’s hero for those same reasons, the idea that you get to decide whether or not Shepard does or doesn’t do all of those things is definitely a positive aspect, even if you didn’t like the ending!

      Thanks for commenting :)