In the Mass Effect series you have a number of appearance and plot choices that change the way Commander Shepard interacts with others in the series. This is great from a player’s perspective since it means you can personalise your main playable character, rather than simply follow along with how someone else has written them.
While the main plot elements of the Mass Effect series are largely the same, this customisation of the main playable character makes reviews of the Mass Effect plot a little complicated since Commander Shepard and his story is going to be different to everyone.
You can play Shepard as male or female, you can play him/her in vanilla (unaltered in appearance), or not so whitebread, or create make your Shepard look like a complete freak if it tickles your fancy. You can be a jerk, or a hero. You can choose to sacrifice Ashley Williams on Virmir because she’s a xenophobic nut job who’s stalking you, or you can romance her instead – or romance someone else who will at least cook you dinner. Based on your romances, you can make your Shepard gay, lesbian, straight and/or into aliens. You can cheat, be loyal or not get involved with anyone… almost… You can also pick your inner Scooby Gang and fill it with bromances, comrades at arms, or the sisterhood of geeks.
So when discussing Shepard with other players, it’s probably best if you establish the difference between My Shepard and Your Shepard, since they are probably not the same.
“Just because Ashley Williams was a religious xenophobic nut job who was stalking My Shepard, doesn’t mean she was a religious xenophobic nut job who was stalking Your Shepard. You can still have Your Shepard romance her if you want, but as far as My Shepard is concerned – if you try to shoot anyone else in the Scooby Gang, you’re off the team!”