You know when you see couples on screen and they have no romantic chemistry whatsoever? Like, the actors themselves are fine, even superb in any other case, but when they’re supposed to be involved with each other, you can literally not figure out what brought them together besides the script? Yeah, that’s how I feel about a couple of the romance options for Shepard, but more specifically how I feel about Jacob Taylor.
Jacob might actually out-Captain-Cardboard Riley Finn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which … I know, big statement there. He is the worst romance option, and I say this knowing that Diana Allers is available for sexytimes. Adam Lazarre-White does a great job voice-acting (something Mass Effect, and Bioware in general, has going for it is the abundance of talented voice actors), but the character is so boring that his skills are wasted. In every playthrough, I always went ahead and got Jacob’s loyalty mission completed first so I wouldn’t have to worry about it, and I had two reasons why I didn’t just bypass the whole mission: 1) I wanted to get the best possible number of war assets in ME3 and 2) I felt bad if any of my crew perished, even if I didn’t particularly care about them. Because I’m a giant softy who believes that, yes, even the most tedious people deserve to live.
And oh my GAWD, the stereotypes: Jacob of course has a deadbeat father, who plays in his own anime-style harem fantasy world while refusing to accept responsibility that he just wasn’t command material, and then Jacob decides to cheat on Shepard, the only romance option that does so, and subsequently impregnates another woman of color. It’s not that I think that every romance should end with the two characters deciding to spend the rest of their days on a beach, making money from the royalties off the stories of their heroics, but damn.
If you look at all the other romance options in the game, the ones Shep could pursue were based on things other than physical attraction: Garrus and Thane felt a kinship with her, Jack’s trust and respect were earned through actions, Tali deeply admired Shep, Miranda was able to feel like she wasn’t just a tool to be used, both Kaiden and Ash bonded with Shep throughout the first game, Liara matured through their friendship, etc. Hell, even Kelly, with her boundless love for all creatures, made more sense as a partner than Jacob did. The entire “romance” mainly seemed like a, “Well, we’re probably going to die, so I’d like to get my rocks off first, just in case” sort of thing, so maybe he looked at it more as a fling to be discarded if they survived. I don’t know. The writers don’t really tell us how he felt about Shep, and all we really get in lieu of an explanation is an option in the Citadel DLC to forgive him or throw him out on his ass. Granted, I only romanced him the one time, and by the time Citadel came out, I refused to play Mass Effect 3 with my character who had done so, so maybe there was more explanation with other options, I don’t know.
More importantly? I don’t really care.
Art Credit: eTeknix, Mass Effect Wiki