I kind of feel bad for this one because Kimberly Brooks has voiced some of my favorite video game and animated characters (Barbara Gordon/Oracle in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and Jasper from Steven Universe, for example), and honestly, she did an incredible job bringing the character of Ashley Williams to life.
But I legit cannot stand Ashley.
Her extreme bigotry in the first game is infuriating; I’ve seen people say that it was due to the First Contact War, where her grandfather surrendered to the turians and then was ultimately condemned a traitor, so her distrust of aliens can be justified, but to that, I say, “Nay.” She has the same backwards opinions as racists in this country, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she carried a confederate battlefield flag, proclaiming it to be “heritage, not hate.” I just currently played another run where I let Kaiden die on Virmire instead of Ashley, and I regretted it almost immediately because guess what: I had to deal with Ashley in ME2.
You’d think that Ashley would at least nominally support Shepard’s involvement with Cerberus: they’re a pro-human black ops group, not unlike the salarian STG – not sanctioned, obviously, but still – and they’re dedicated to the advancement of their species. But instead, she’s staunchly against it for … reasons. I mean, like, I get that Cerberus did a bunch of Bad Science in the first game, and as narrow-minded as she is, sure, she might not be able to see the forest for the trees – and she ends up being right in her suspicions – but it’s not like Shepard would just abandon what’s right. And the whole thing where she’s like, “OMG why didn’t you like contact me???” made me so angry (same with Kaiden) because … well, a freaking coma is why, Ashley. And then Anderson wouldn’t even tell me anything about you so … sorry, I’m getting irritated just thinking about this interaction.
In ME3, she doesn’t really add anything to the story, at least for my Shepard because I didn’t romance her, even as BroShep (who I named Kale because I envisioned his colonist parents were hippies) – other than being a pain in the ass about the Council and becoming the second human Spectre, she is just kinda there. I did enjoy the part where she was hammered and lying on the floor, but there was very little that made me feel better about sacrificing Kaiden for her.
Oh, and another thing: why did Bioware sex her up in the third game? Her breasts got bigger, her outfit became this tight, deep v-neck tunic thing, and she wore her hair down and touching her collar, which for a military person is a big no-no. This would have been so much more realistic:
I still wouldn’t like her, but at least I wouldn’t cringe every time she popped up.
All of her character issues aside, she was not nearly as strong a squad member as others in the first game (Wrex was a better soldier ally), and her dialogue was obnoxious, racist, or just forgettable. The only times I ever had her on my team was when she had to be in the first game, and I begrudgingly allowed her back on the Normandy in the third, without ever selecting her to fight with me.
The thing is, this character could have been pretty awesome. They could have done with her what they did for Pressly in the Normandy DLC released for ME2: show that she’d grown and become less racist, and not by just, like, refraining from mentioning that she used to hate/distrust aliens. It was such a wasted opportunity.