Mass Effect 3 and Tali's Face

Commander Shepard and Garrus Vakarian can’t have babies because they’re of different species and neither is an Asari. Believe me, I’m not one of those people who wants their Shep to retire and start popping out the kids so I’m okay with that. But that wasn’t my point.

If they could, the kid might look like a what BioWare shows as a Quarian in Mass Effect 3: human face, Turian arms and legs. And that’s why I think Tali’s face in ME3 is a bunch of bullshit. I love a lot of things about Mass Effect, obviously, but even though I don’t much care for the character their “reveal” of her face disappointed me.

Can Tali look humanoid? Certainly. Lore has all of the aliens (except the Keepers and the Hanar) looking more or less human. She’s got boobs, for heaven’s sakes, something apparently universal to all species except Krogan and, perhaps, female Salarians and Turians. As I’m not sure we ever saw one of the latter two I can’t really say.

Each species in Mass Effect had a distinct look, something that made them recognizable. The Turians have their mandibles and their spikes, the Asari their head fringe and blue skin, the Salarians their little horns and wide, thin lips. To reveal that, all along, Quarians have the same legs and number of digits as Turians but just happen to look exactly like humans strikes a false note.

Give me something different around the mouth, give me tinted skin, give me something, BioWare! But don’t give me some random Human woman whose photo you manipulated to remove a couple of fingers. I’d rather you had stuck with the running joke of never showing Tali’s face than thrown away the opportunity to bring us something creative and fresh at the very end of the series.

Apparently BioWare threw all of their alien species inspiration into Javik and the Protheans. That, of course, brings to mind Javik’s comment that the Protheans considered even primitive Quarians to be attractive. Have you seen Javik? I doubt Prothean standards ran to Human criteria of attractiveness. Had they, he might have said the same to Shepard or Liara.

To be fair, I did get a good laugh out of Tali’s photo in Mass Effect 3. My husband seemed a bit irritated at that. He’s fine with the face they chose. I say, “Where are the glowing eyes?” He says, “That fits with what little you can see through the helmet.” Hell, so does any Asari or Human.

Most of the other species don’t have much in the way of noses but you get little more than a hint of a nub anyway. You get the impression of something like hair from Tali’s billowing hood, a feature most Quarians don’t share, but couldn’t it have been an interesting color, at least?

BioWare had a chance to pull off something spectacular with the three-game build-up of this reveal. Instead of creating something new, instead of exercising those powers of invention that they’ve so ably demonstrated to date, they made Quarians look just like Humans.

As I said, I have no emotional stake in this. I never romanced Tali and she’s not one of my favorite characters, though I like her well enough. Then again, perhaps Tali is a freak among her species. Maybe BioWare has an awesome Rannoch DLC in the works with un-hooded Quarians that share distinct, non-human features. They just really want to surprise us. Hey, a fan can hope, right?

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