NOTE – This little “mini series” of posts will be me giving my thoughts and opinions on Bioware’s successful sci-fi franchise, Mass Effect. I have 4 planned posts: Part 1 will be a homage to one of my favourite video game characters, Garrus. Part 2 will be my thoughts on the first two games of the series, while the third will focus on the divided Mass Effect 3. The fourth and final post will be what I think/hope Bioware will do with Mass Effect 4. So here is part 1, enjoy:
It didn’t take long for Garrus to become a fan favourite. The first moment you meet the Turian you already form a link with the character. Garrus is the only non-human who backs Shepard in the case against Saren, and he wishes Shepard good luck to win against Saren after his own investigation is scrapped by a superior officer. It was easy to sympathize with Garrus; a dedicated C-Sec officer (space police) who gets crapped on by the brass, even though Garrus’ investigation had only started. This leads to a number of events which then sees the Turian leave the Citadel to join Shepard in his mission to stop Saren. After Garrus joins Shepard, we see from a number of conversations that there’s more to Garrus than there was first initially thought.
Garrus is a deep, complicated character. His thoughts on past and recent events show his character in a different light; before we saw him as a under-appreciated character (which is true in regards to C-Sec, and possibly his own father, which we’ll look at later) but after listening to what he has to say, he has a complete new level of depth to him – not rarely seen in video games but the level of depth and detail shown in the first game is outstanding character writing. Garrus is an optimist. He wants to break the rules, get things done no matter what. Paragon Shepard however continuously reminds Garrus that that attitude is what got Saren where he is today (I’ve always felt that Paragon is the “correct” way to play Mass Effect). Garrus has great respect for Shepard, and quickly changes his attitude on such thoughts. This is where we see a huge part of Garrus’ personality. Garrus respect, admiration and possibly affection for Shepard is what keeps Garrus’ mind straight; I’ve always perceived Garrus as a flawed hero (like many of Shakespeare’s’ protagonists) because of his ruthlessness – we’ll explore this more when we talk about Garrus in ME2.
There is then his arguably troubled childhood. Garrus’ father was one of the top C-Sec officers of his time, and Garrus was always expected to be just like him. His youth was strictly regulated by his father; this is shown when the player finds out that Garrus was denied of partaking in a military program that could have potentially made him enroll as a spectre. Garrus says he does not hold any resentment to his father at all or any regret in missing out on possibly becoming a spectre. However, I suspect that Garrus is just being modest and that he did want to take his chances. I suspected this because of his interest of how spectres go about their job and his choice to perhaps reapply for spectre candidacy. I also rather considered Garrus to be rather lonely, enjoying the comfort of being alone. This is through simple speculation of how Garrus in ME1+2 is always seen on a computer next to the MAKO or “calibrating” the Normandy’s weapons. This though could have no meaning at all but just me looking to deeply into it.
So there was Garrus in Mass Effect 1; a ruthless, unappreciated, optimistic and easily connectable character with so much depth to him that writing about it all would take me all day (which I sadly don’t have).
In the events between 1 and 2, Garrus goes through an extreme change of attitude. Hinted in the 1st installment, Garrus wants to inflict justice and essentially be the Punisher. Shepard attempts to guide Garrus away from this rather unhealthy attitude, advising him that extreme actions could take control of him. After Shepard’s death though, Garrus becomes the Punisher.
I’ve read articles where people have criticized this change to be out of character and some going as far as saying that it make Garrus a badass rather than an interesting companion. I understand where this is coming from, but I would disagree that he’s simply turned into a “badass”. I’ve seen this change to be a direct effect of Shepard’s death: Garrus looked up to Shepard, he/she has advised him on what was the right thing to do. Space Punisher is one of the things Shepard has advised Garrus not to do. This change I feel is one of the most significant changes in Garrus’ character. Garrus wanted to be Shepard, he wanted his own team and that’s what he got. Except Garrus’ team died. Garrus then becomes, in my eyes, a broken man. He feels responsible for the deaths of his team (like how the player may feel responsible for the death of a teammate in the Suicide Mission later on in the game) and feels like he shouldn’t be the one alive. This is why he’s all alone, fending off wave after wave of mercenaries. Garrus was ready to die, maybe he even wanted to, if it wasn’t for Shepard to come to the aid. Knowing that Shepard is alive, brings new life into Garrus. However much of that Punisher still remains inside him.
Garrus’ loyalty mission in ME2 was another significant event for Garrus. Garrus once again wants to kill every son-of-a-bitch who knows the whereabouts of his traitorous ex-teammate. When descovering his whereabouts and getting the chance to kill him, Shepard once again takes the shepherd role and leads Garrus away from the path of vendetta and revenge, saving Garrus from his worst enemy, himself.
Now we come to Mass Effect 3. Nothing significant happens in ME3 that boosts Garrus. Many times it merely feels that Garrus is there to suppress any complaints for omitting him, wise choice. Even though no new (Garrus) events occur in ME3, it’s still nice to have the guy around. Reminiscing on past missions and events that Shepard and Garrus have went through. Nonetheless, Garrus’ character has been consistent in all three games, he my have developed more in ME2 but it was still true to the hints which arised in ME1 and the core character which Bioware created.
“It’s so much easier to see the world in black and white. Gray… I don’t know what to do with gray.”