I think anybody who’s put a serious amount of time into the Mass Effect series has a story. A connection they’ve made with the game, perhaps they feel silly for it, I know I do, that I could get swept away enough by the characters to legitimately care for them, something very very few games have ever done to date with me. I can identify for them, I can care about their fates, but in the end it’s easy for me to throw that away and just try things with them.
Not with Mass Effect, and not with Liara T’soni.
Mass Effect 2 Spoilers Incoming. If you’re worried about them, please just stop reading the article here.
Anyway, with that warning out of the picture I feel feel to talk! Muahahahah! In Mass Effect 1, Liara was my lover, she was a little shy, but took interest in me. My almost perfectly balanced renegade/paragon Shepard through just sheer luck, had gotten on her radar. It’s hinted at that her interest is simply due to the Prothean mess in your head, but it involves into more as she sees your strength of character, your will. Not your combat expertise, or your ability to command, but just who you are. She also touches you in ways that haunt my deepest still, the mind, deep inside each other you not only share bodys, feelings, but thoughts, memories all blend into one. Putting myself in that position, is beautiful, imagining it, letting myself get lost in it like a really good story, is an extremely good experience.
She was sweet, caring, optimistic and had faith in my character. Something that on hard difficulty, I wasn’t too sure of myself. It was special, as odd as that sounds, and I wanted to make sure I could do anything I could for her, reworking my squads to make sure she fit in, and making sure she got choice equipment, even over my Shepard. When I realized I’d given her my C-sec guns, I realized how far into the story I’d fallen, and remedied that, but she still got the better armour, I still didn’t want her to die afterall.
I of course knew it was still a game, she wasn’t real, but the idea of her still evoked feelings in me, and I felt stupid and wrong for it. The last time I had gotten so emotionally invested in a character was from a book called Feed by T.J. Anderson, but there was one key difference, -I- had a lot more say in what happened here. She had touched part of me that’s hard to hit, and I was going to make sure that through the series I would protect her.
Then I picked up Mass Effect 2, the second I got the Normandy, I gasped at how Liara’s picture was in my cabin, and I kind of mini-vowed to get her first. The illusive man had said she wasn’t trustworthy, but it was Liara, and I headed straight there, abandoning the mission I was supposed to be doing.
Imagine my surprise when the Liara I knew was threatening people with quotes from Benezia, she was cold, distant, and just seemed to want to use me to gather more information. I felt hurt and betrayed, but mostly I felt guilty, the game had made me dead for 2 years, and during that time, I wasn’t able to protect Liara, or her heart from the dangers and pains of the galaxy, I’d let her down, and it would take a lot of work to make it right. This time my character had used her second chance to go full paragon, I had debated trying to balance but learned how too much of the game kicked back on that. Too much required one or the other, and I was a little sad at that, but my Shepard growing into a more noble person had seemed appropriate. I had seen what ‘getting the job done’ had done to Garrus as a character in ME1 at times making him inhospitably cold, I would later see how far that rabbit hole went when I ran into Garrus in Mass Effect 2.
So I did her information getting, and Liara broke from her shell for a moment, but vengeance, hate, and pain filled her heart, and I wasn’t strong enough to fix it. Then Bioware released the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC.
I bought it as soon as my limited funding would let me. It’d give me more time with Liara, let me help her more, I had no idea what the DLC held in store for me other than helping her finish her mission, but I hoped it would let me make amends for well, dying. It wasn’t my fault, but, it still hurt her, hurt who she was, and dragged her into a world that in my opinion, she didn’t belong in. It was writing at it’s best, and I truly felt like I wanted this character to succeed and to be with my character.
I got a kiss, and broke through more of her armor, in the end after all the pain, she cried, I had been afraid she’d fallen for the person we were saving. Both let me know that wasn’t true, she was taken, and I felt touched. She gave me my old dog tags, and I promised jokingly blue children. A bit of a moral clash for me since I don’t want children, but this was also Shepard, who was a far better person than I am, it was her story and her love, and dammit, she can have blue babies.
Liara takes up the Shadow Broker mantle, and I would occasionally visit there as I earned the Loyalty of my crew, hoping for new dialogue options that didn’t come. I made sure to survive the suicide mission, and had to give a lot of credit to Bioware because I went back through and going full renegade I found I still couldn’t help but help Liara both in Mass Effect 1 and 2. I didn’t want to. She was still a video game character, but one I actually cared about as a character.
That connection, the fact I could so easily identify myself and my Shepard, and that the characters could get me to invest in them, is why replaying the Mass Effect series is a good source of inspiration for me. It’s not perfect, but it’s good. I still had to boycott ME3 on principle, but I think during a steam sale I’ll pick it up, if only to finish this story I started, not the reapers, but I’ve heard Liara is part of your team in ME3 and you can continue the romance, that’s enough to hook me in.
My Shepard and my Liara will have a happily ever after darnit. Even if it takes a while.