I have what’s probably an unhealthy relationship with my player characters in RPGs. I spend collective hours in character creators customizing my protagonists, and these people become the face of their respective games for me. Odds are, if you’ve ever read something I’ve written on this site about games like Cyberpunk 2077, Pokemon Sword & Shield, or Bioware games, the images used in them feature my version of the main character. I’m just that particular about these things. That attachment has never been stronger than with Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect trilogy.
I’ve never really had good pictures of my version of the first human Spectre. I played the original trilogy (several times) on my Xbox 360. That video game box didn’t have the same screenshot features that have become standard for modern consoles. So, despite my strong attachment to the character of Shepard, he mostly existed on my save files and in my memories. Like that best friend who you’re incredibly close to but have no pictures with. After nearly a decade, that’s finally changing with Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, and it’s got me really wasting a lot of time with the remastered collection’s photo mode.
In the interest of full transparency, I don’t think Legendary Edition’s photo mode is that great. At least not in comparison to games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Ghost of Tsushima that had a wealth of customization options. From character poses to weather effects, developers have been adding a wealth of ways to capture perfect shots. Mass Effect is more or less a glorified flycam with a handful of filters and camera options. Plus, it’s only usable during actual gameplay rather than during any of the dialogue and cutscenes. Which is expected, but it does mean that the types of poses and scenes you can make is a bit more limited all around. I’m curious to see how people more talented with these things make the most of what’s here. Because right now, all I’m really doing is trying to get some well-framed shots of my Shepard and his boyfriend Kaidan Alenko, mostly.
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I’m still making my way through the first Mass Effect, which looks good, but even with the remastered visual update, it’s still doesn’t look quite as good as Mass Effect 2 and 3. So I’m hopeful I’ll get more shots of the space boyfriends that are a bit more dynamic than what I’ve got so far in the original game. But even with the limited toolset, I’ve still spent probably a few hours of my playthrough using Legendary Edition’s photo mode because it feels like a precious opportunity I don’t want to waste. I don’t know when I’ll be playing these games again, and like others, Mass Effect isn’t about replaying and making different choices, it’s a very specific story. This Commander Shepard is the one I’ve been using for the past 14 years, and this is my chance to document every moment of his journey from Eden Prime to London.
Plus, look how cute they are.