Finally, the glow of Mass Effect 3 has worn off and after getting my ass thoroughly handed to me by three banshees in multiplayer multiple times, I can safely return to contemplating the meaning of life—I mean, ranking the side-characters in Mass Effect 2 (it’s like the same thing, right?). In my previous ranking for the first Mass Effect, I defined a side character as not “involved in the main quest in any way what-so-ever”, however this is somewhat more difficult to define, since loyalty missions—a new inclusion in ME2—can be ignored despite the fact that your teammate will end up dying from it. However, for my sanity, I won’t be allowing the inclusion of those in this list either.
Forming this list was still extremely hard as Bioware really upped the ante in terms of likable characters. Even in ambient dialogue! And with three new hubs/cities to explore, finding out more about the races in and of themselves was so interesting. Now I’m digressing (and this could go on for ages) so I’ll just start the list. Disagree? Remember someone I might have forgotten? Leave me a comment and we’ll chat. Oh, will we chat.
This article’s honorable mention goes to the two krogan on the Presidium that just want some damn fish already. Yes, there is an actual side-quest where you have to make the difficult decision of whether to be truthful and break the one poor krogan’s heart by telling him that there are no real fish on the Presidium or buy him some fish from a store and keep the dream alive. It’s harder than you think, and pretty funny. These two were unfortunately cancelled out by the appearance of my least favorite side-character in ME2: the sushi chef. I’m only going to say this once: “IRRASHAIMASE” IS NOT PRONOUNCED “IRASHY MAS”. IT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE. AND HE SAYS IT EVERY TIME YOU PASS BY, TOO! I don’t know if it was a joke or not, but god, did it make me cringe. I just want to wring his stupid little… I’d better just continue.
5: Turian at Presidium Customs
He just wants to keep his biotic amp that he doesn’t have. And bring along his ceremonial 15 cm serrated blade into the commons. And now he has to wait a whole 10 minutes for the next shuttle because of the stupid human security on the Citadel. You humans are all racist!
I like to think that this ornery fellow was put in as the other side of the turian-human hatemance. The other side arguably being just every (human) player hating the turian counselor due to his unwillingness to side with a human against Saren, a rogue turian Spectre. Although it exemplifies the difficulty some races are having with accepting humans as a main power in the universe, it’s just funny, and humor is definitely something you need when you’re on a suicide mission to save the very universe that doesn’t seem very fond of your species.
4: Father and Daughter in Illium’s Shopping Center
Illium, the center for commerce in asari space. Asari are such an interesting race: they’re the oldest, most developed humanoid species in the verse and are completely female, and no matter which species they procreate with the result will always be the same: a female asari. What I like best about this pair is that not only does it show some distinctions between two of the major races in the game, it also shows the difficulties in the lives of everyday, non-battle-y type people. There’s another pair on the list that shows this too: what can I say, I love well-written relationships with a struggle in them.
Now, this asari’s father happens to be a salarian, a super –smart, partially amphibious looking race known for being stressed out at all times. They’re on vacation looking and looking for a souvenir for her mother, but then it starts getting serious. Asari are one of the more long-lived races, living upwards in the millennia of years, whereas if a salarian lives over 40 it’s a miracle. So what it turns out the father is looking for is a memento his wife can keep and remember him by after he passes. After realizing this, the daughter drops her previously annoyed, teenager attitude and helps her father find something nice. It’s easy to miss the exchange over the hubbub of the other shoppers or to pass over it entirely (it is right next to a shop, after all), but it’s definitely something that makes you feel for those who are in interspecies relationships and re-evaluate your own Shepard’s relationships.
3: Gianna Parasini
Finally, finally I can talk about this kick-ass woman. She would have been in my previous list had she not been directly involved with the quest line in Noveria and, for
some sad reason, she never made an appearance in ME3 so I need to take this chance while I can. In ME, Parasini reveals herself to be an internal affairs agent looking to take down the corrupt administrator on Noveria, Anoleis. In ME2, if you kept her alive, she’s back to her old tricks, except this time she’s taking down smugglers on Illium.
What you get with Parasini that you don’t get with other officers in the game like, say, Captain Bailey of C-Sec is a certain sense of hardened finesse.
Parasini actually started her career wanting to work for C-Sec, but finds an incomparable joy in her current occupation: busting white-collar criminals while playing their own game. As she finally reveals her background to Shepard after you help her out on Illium, you find that there would be much to pity about the agent, but she doesn’t give you a chance. She takes her seclusion from the public as an advantage and tells Shepard straight up that she wouldn’t change it for anything. I can only hope that in ME3 she was fighting the reapers from behind the scenes, taking down the suppliers of the Illusive Man with any data she could get. That’s my headcanon and I’m sticking to it.
2: Blue Rose of Illium
Blue Rose of Illium, you have blossomed in a tower of glass and plastic. But beauty under glass is untested and weak. Where are your honored dead, to fertilize the ground that you might grow strong? On the rocky plains of Tuchanka, I will build you a garden from the bones of my ancestors.
In ME the krogan were never really presented as the most intelligent race. The most brutal and battle-ready, yes, but there was kind of the sense that if they didn’t have their numbers pre-genophage, they wouldn’t have been the threat they were. Then there was ME2 and the audience was exposed to just how much the krogan were better than you. They had scientists and an entire, complex tribal system that prepared their young for
the hardships of their infected future as well as keeping them close to their roots. Let it be known that the krogan are more than just brawns. No one proved this better than Charr.
Charr, the most poetic krogan to have ever existed ever, is in love with an asari, Ereba. However, Ereba isn’t sure what to make of their relationship and is slightly troubled over Charr wanting to take it to the next level. The main problem is with reproduction. The genophage is a genetic mutation spread throughout all krogan that prevents them from producing offspring. Yet, if a krogan were to reproduce with an asari, they would be able to bypass that even though the children would be asari rather than krogan. Ereba is worried that’s the true reason Charr is interested and depending on how Shepard reacts, she can either give their relationship another chance or break up with him.
This is so high on the list because 1) I am a hopeless romantic and 2) I think it’s a really excellent example of diversity within a species. On Tuchanka, the krogan home-planet, we see a wide berth of different krogan occupations, but by and large they have the same attitudes on life. However, Charr is different and you almost feel like he could only love one such as an asari despite the rest of his race finding asari to be annoying and tricky, not worth their time. The flower that blooms brightest is the one that blooms in adversity, after all.
1: Gabby and Ken
Hm… a lot of my favorite characters in this game come in pairs but these two are legitimately inseparable. Once Shepard is repaired and explores their new Normandy ship you can find these two on the engineering bay near the core of the ship—yes, even the crew has great characters in it.
Their friendship is quite honestly the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. They both graduated from the same technical academy and then followed each other aboard the SSV Perugia during the attack on the Citadel. When Cerberus recruited Gabby, she felt she had to bring along Ken because you just can’t break up a good thing like that.
The two are almost complete opposites—Gabby is a get down to brass tacks kind of girl while Ken is more light-hearted and can talk you in circles—but they complement each other nicely. You really do get the sense that they care deeply for each other. [Spoilers] It broke my heart when I did my first playthrough of ME3 and discovered that somehow Gabby had died (this isn’t always the case). Ken was just so lost and so sad, and that really drove home how important they were to one another.
Also, I might be a little biased in picking them for top spot because I play an engineer class and we don’t get enough love. Engineer pride, holla’!
We only have one game left, you guys. Are you excited? I’m excited! Let’s see if during a dire time of war and under a new writer (especially under the new writer, ugh) we can find some hidden gems that are just as compelling as these.