Game Armor Analysis: Jane Shepard, Mass Effect 2

shep1Commander Jane Shepard from Mass Effect 2

“The Collectors killed you once, Shepard. And all it did was piss you off.” —Garrus Vakarian

During the recent Steam Summer Sales, I decided to pick up a copy of BioWare’s Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. I’d considered trying the game out for a while now, but my love of BioWare’s brilliant writing, character development, world-building, and storytelling in their games is in constant conflict with my hatred of Electronic Arts’ shabby treatment of their customers and developers. Hence the reason I tend to wait for sales and only buy games released for Steam. My grievances with EA aside, I will say that I enjoy both Mass Effect games so far and I look forward to where the stories in both are going.

I’ll be upfront and state that I find the female Shepard far more interesting a character than her male counterpart. To me, Commander John Shepard comes across as a fairly generic tough-guy soldier. Sure he’s a charismatic commander, but his personality strikes me as archetypical, for lack of a better word. And I thought some of his interactions with the female crew members on the Normandy bordered on sleazy—like he’s trying to get into their pants whenever he offers a compliment or moral support. (But maybe that’s just my interpretation. See comment below.)

Jane Shepard, on the other hand, feels like a more rounded character. She’s tough and battle-hardened from her training and combat with N7, her time as a System’s Alliance soldier, and later a Spectre for Citadel Council. With the fate of the galaxy on the line, I like that BioWare’s storytellers allow players to roll Shepard as benevolent or ruthless depending on the situation—I tend to think that a good leader isn’t afraid to be both if the situation requires. In Jane I find a competent heroine who places highest priority on the welfare of her crew and shows willingness to sacrifice her personal well-being for the sake of her people and the mission.

shep4Shep’s default gear is the N7 Armor, a shielded battle suit for whatever mission profile our heroine takes on. The armor is modular, offering a variety of cuirasses, pauldrons, gauntlets, leggings, and helmets featuring different enhancements for different situations. Her default cuirass is made up of interlocking plates of ablated ceramic, designed to absorb energy-weapons fire. The plates are designed to be light and easy to repair or replace following a particularly nasty scrape. The same plates also protect the Commander’s arms and shoulders, preventing disabling or disarming shots from enemy weapons. Underneath her plating, our heroine wears a durable kinetic bodysuit for enhanced flexibility. Lastly, Shepard’s legs are kept safe by layers of fabric armor and kinetic padding, with additional kinetic layers lining the ablative plating. All in all, I find it to be an effective suit of sci-fi battle armor.

shep5Though various helmets are available throughout the game, in the above image Shep opts for the Kuwashii Visor, a sensory-enhancing headset featuring a heads-up display for improved accuracy and a mike for coordinating with squad members. In combat the commander carries a full compliment of weaponry for every kind of enemy and situation. A weapon rack attached to her back armor offers quick access to an assault gun, sniper rifle, or heavy ordinance, while Shep’s shotgun attaches at the small of her back and her pistol clips to her left hip.

While I’m not super crazy about the sculpted boob-plate, the cleavage isn’t deep enough to risk breaking Shep’s sternum and the ablative plating is designed to absorb hits rather than deflect them toward her heart. Beyond that, I have only positive to say about Commander Shepard’s armor. It’s a smart, protective design, and I applaud BioWare for their decision to keep their heroines safe in the thick of battle.

Game and characters property of BioWare. All screen captures taken from game play.

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2 Responses to Game Armor Analysis: Jane Shepard, Mass Effect 2

  1. Wow. So I apparently offended a few people with my comments on male-Shepard in this post. To go ahead and clarify a few of my thoughts: I played m-Shep for several hours on ME2 and just couldn’t get into the character—I didn’t feel like there was really anything to distinguish him from your Hollywood action-hero archetypes. While I’ve no doubt he’s exactly as badass as fem-Shep, I couldn’t find any traits that set him apart from the soldiers from The Green Berets, We Were Soldiers, Blackhawk Down, or pretty much any time Adam Baldwin plays a Marine. I realize that players have plenty of dialogue options when rolling their character, but whether playing him as a rogue or a paladin it’s still playing him as a character we’ve all seen before.

    As for my comment about John Shep bordering on sleazy, I admit never actually got him as far as romancing any of the Normandy’s crew. But there was something in his interactions with Miranda, Ta’li, and Kelly that said “pickup artist” to me. A lot of times I felt John got flirty with the lady NPCs when all I was trying to do was ask about their histories (though I felt like fem-Shep did the same with Jacob a few times). And there was something about his tone and body language that felt like he was being insincere whenever he offered one of the gals support or compliments, as if he was only being nice to put them off their guard—to get into their pants, for lack of a better colloquialism. But, again, that’s just my reading of the character.

  2. JXMcKie says:

    No need to excuse…I absolutely agree with you, dubiousbyhabit, with regard to MaleShep vs FemShep. I started my own journey in ME series with a MaleShep (and a fantastic journey that was…ME series IS the greatest Space Opera ever), but though I am male myself, I quickly began ME over again and played through all 3 games, with my very own personalized FemShep (and no she´s wasn´t highly sexualized, on the contrary she was rather “butch/tough girl like”). FemShep is simply more interesting as a character than her male counterpart and then there is the voice : Mark Meer is great as MaleShep, but he can´t hold a candle to Jennifer Hale´s voice. I remember Sean Connery ones was qouted for saying “It is not Sean Connery that is Bond…Commander Bond IS Sean Connery”. Well, Jennifer Hale (or rather…her voice) IS Commander Shepard ! Good luck with enjoying this fantastic series, but though you (rightly) dislike EA games (dont we all) I will still recommend you take your heroine through ME3 too…prepare for a great endgame and a highly emotional ending (this is particularly true playing FemShep) ! Best regards

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