One of my favorite playthroughs of the Mass Effect series has been playing as a female Vanguard Shepard. A while ago I fired up my Xbox to do a second run of the series, but as a male Shepard who is an Adept. The experience of playing as a male Shepard has been interesting so far. It took some getting used to, mainly because I’ve been really attached to my female Shepard for the longest time. Regardless, I vowed to romance the pants off of Ashley Williams. You can consider this as both figuratively and literally speaking. Take your pick.
Considering the Mass Effect series is easily one of those games you have to play again and again, this means I’ll be trying every romance option available to me. I also accept that it’ll take me years to eventually complete every possible story thread and romance out there. Let’s not focus on that for now. So why Ashley as my romance pick for my first go as male Shepard? The gunner chief, based on public opinion, has never been a huge favorite as a friend or love interest. The amount of vitriol this character receives is overwhelming. I tried combing blogs and forum discussions for a more favorable opinion of Ashley, but those are few and far between. I want to believe Ashley isn’t as bad of a character or love interest everyone is making her out to be. Hey, I’m killing off Kaidan for you, Ashley! You know how difficult that is for me?
I spent the entirety of the first game having my male Shepard be the most charming man Ashley couldn’t possibly refuse. He has been the consummate gentleman to Ashley by being kind, showing genuine interest in her family, and having the utmost sensitivity and respect for her religious faith. Everything seemed to go according to plan. She started to warm up to my Shepard and even tossed in a few flirty glances and comments his way. All Shepard needed to do is close the deal. Simple, right? Then, in comes Liara…
Liara T’soni is an Asari who works as an archaeologist studying everything there is to know about the extinct Prothean race. With Liara becoming a new addition to the Normandy after being rescued by Shepard and his crew on Therum, this particular Asari comes off as the cute, shy, and quiet scientist type. She’s naturally curious about Shepard and maybe a little too eager to finally have living company to talk to, instead of the lifeless objects she spends hours examining. Maybe eagerness has also translated into Liara coming onto Shepard a little too strong. There’s no denying how much Liara kind of acts like a dog in heat when she sees Shepard. She says and does things that makes you realize Liara may not be as shy and quiet as she would have you believing.
My Shepard is a nice guy who is a bit of a harmless flirt, but he’s loyal. He stands by what’s good and right. He takes love seriously and won’t look for anyone else once he finds the right woman (or alien). Shepard strictly has eyes for Ashley and no one else. Or so he thought. Being the nice guy Shepard is and the responsible commander, he has to make sure Liara is comfortable and her health isn’t in any jeopardy. He’s just doing his job. What’s wrong with making Liara feel at home on his ship? Apparently, being too nice to Liara is a dangerous thing in this game. Without warning, Shepard found himself swept under Liara’s big blue eyes and that glowing blue complexion of hers. Next thing he (and I) knew, Shepard and Liara are making out with each other…among other things.
The plan to romance Ashley ended in failure. You’re looking at an Adept class Shepard who is now in a committed relationship with…Liara. Even the best laid plans never go down quite the way you expect them to. Obviously, I somehow screwed up in my conversation choices with Liara to somehow reject Ashley from being a romance option for Shepard and have him forever locked onto Liara instead.
Damn it, Shepard! Why are you too nice? We had a plan, man! You’re supposed to go after Ashley, not Liara! Why didn’t you try harder to resist Liara’s charms? Uh…anyway…I know I can have Shepard break it off with Liara if I wanted to. The two of them can chalk it up as a one night, we-thought-we-might-die-tomorrow kind of a thing. I refuse to have my Shepard do it though. Shepard isn’t a jerk, at least not in this current playthrough. If it’s going to be Shepard and Liara and not Shepard and Ashley, “Operation: Romance Ashley” will just have to wait for another playthrough of Mass Effect.
Moral of the story? Don’t be too nice to Liara when you are trying to romance someone else. It just causes a whole slew of complications.