While Vega is an experienced soldier, he is unfamiliar with the seedy underbelly and political workings of the galaxy.
Mass Effect: Homeworlds
James Vega joins the Systems Alliance marines at Camp Pendleton in 2176 following the encouragement of his uncle, Emilio Vega. Upon returning home, his father Joshua Sanders sends him to pick up a package in San Diego. After obtaining the package from a shady dealer, the police move in and pursue James across the city. James escapes by slipping into a restaurant and blending in with the staff.
After bringing the package of drugs to his father, James' dreams of a military career are almost dashed when Josh threatens to tell the military what he did that night so that James will be forced to stay with him and serve as his errand boy. Later, Emilio finds James on the beach outside his home and reveals he knew what happened, and that Josh won't dare talk to the military because he would implicate himself in the drug deal. Emilio tells James that only he can choose how to live his life. James goes on to be accepted by the Alliance and becomes a marine.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost
- Main article: Mass Effect: Paragon Lost
Early in his career, Vega was stationed on a colony in a remote star system with a team of elite Special Forces soldiers. When the Collectors attack, determined to capture the population, Vega and his soldiers were tasked with protecting the civilians.
Mass Effect: Conviction
At some point in time, Lieutenant Vega had been involved in an incident on Fehl Prime. Since then, he had taken up residence in Omega playing cards in bars. During a game, a broadcast regarding Commander Shepard's actions during the events of Arrival and the galaxy's reactions aired on a nearby vidscreen. As a reporter related how batarian officials had called for Shepard's head, Vega calmly tore the screen off the wall, telling the bartender to pay for the damages with his winnings.
The group of batarians he had been playing cards with took umbrage at the act, accusing Vega of being a "Shepard Lover". The marine proceeded to defend himself against the attacking batarians with the damaged screen and a knife before escaping. Midway through his escape, he encountered Admiral Anderson. The Admiral commented on the difficulty he endured while trying to find Vega, and ordered the Lieutenant to clean up and follow him. Anderson told Vega to "get over" the incident on Fehl, and revealed that he had a job for Vega. Vega promptly refused, claiming he didn't wish to do so and defiantly demanded why Anderson simply doesn't toss him into the brig and be done with it.
Mass Effect 3
James Vega is tasked to escort Shepard to an Alliance defence committee hearing, but the hearing is interrupted when the Reapers attack Earth. Vega and Ashley/Kaidan (depending on who survived Virmire) retrieve the Normandy and pick Shepard up from Earth; Anderson convinces Shepard to leave Earth until Shepard can gather allies from the other races. Vega, however, is displeased with this decision and does not wish to leave Earth; unfortunately for him, Shepard overrules him since with their current resources they cannot realistically drive the Reapers away from the Earth at the time. Vega is still displeased but lets the matter drop in favor of professionalism.
On Mars, after Shepard and Ashley/Kaidan reunite with Liara, Shepard sends Vega outside the Mars facility so that Vega can cut Cerberus off if they succeed in escaping with the Prothean data. This turns out to be a wise move; Dr. Eva Coré, revealed to be a Cerberus mole, does indeed manage to get outside the facility with at least part of the Prothean data, but when she attempts to leave by shuttle, Vega crashes his own shuttle into hers, cutting off her escape.
Later, on the Citadel, upon noticing how quiet and peaceful the Citadel is, only because the races living here are isolated from the Reaper threat and almost don't believe it's real, Vega finally admits that leaving Earth was the correct decision for Shepard to make. The other races need, in Vega's opinion, a wake-up call, and staying on Earth would not have accomplished such a thing.
The first time Shepard visits James Vega in the Shuttle Bay after returning to the Normandy from the Citadel, Vega and Shepard will eventually get into a sparring match, during which Vega reveals that his old CO, Captain Toni, a "hard-assed son of a bitch" but a "good leader" in Vega's words, was killed along with most of Vega's squad while the squad was protecting a civilian colony from a Collector attack. The leadership vacuum left by Captain Toni falling in battle was left to Vega himself, and Vega had to make a choice between saving the colony or saving the intel the squad had recovered that could be used to destroy the Collectors. Vega chose to save the intel, but found out far too late that his choice was rendered completely unnecessary since Shepard managed to destroy the Collector threat without the intel Vega saved, which meant that Vega allowed the colony to die for nothing. In the present during the sparring match, Shepard expresses worry that Vega is blaming himself unnecessarily for what happened to the colony, and Shepard believes, based on Vega's reckless stunt with the shuttle back on Mars, that because of his guilt Vega has ceased to care whether he lives or dies. Shepard advises Vega that he needs to get past that past incident and stay focused.
If Shepard speaks to Vega enough, Vega will invite Shepard to go to the Purgatory Bar for drinks on the Citadel. Upon speaking to Vega in Purgatory, Vega reveals that the lower-ranking soldiers he is having drinks with are slightly intimidated by Shepard, and advises that Shepard buy them all a round of drinks to get them relaxed and consider Shepard to be one of them. Shepard can refuse, prompting Vega to ask Shepard to at least buy Vega a drink. Shepard can agree, and during the round of drinks Vega will start up a variation of an old Scottish toast; either Shepard can finish the toast via a renegade interrupt, prompting the soldiers to become friendly with Shepard, or Vega will finish it, apologizing for thinking the Commander "knew that one".
Eventually, James Vega will ask to speak to Shepard privately in Shepard's cabin. After Shepard invites Vega to his cabin using the intercom, Vega will explain that he has been approached with an offer from the Systems Alliance to undergo N7 training. However, Vega is unsure whether or not to accept the offer since N7 training is a lot of work, and Vega humbly wonders why he was even approached, given his past failure, hence the private conversation. He also confesses that during that mission, his team was betrayed by a colonist who was actually a Cerberus spy working with the Collectors. Vega had no choice but to kill the spy and destroy the Collector ship, which left himself and one other squad member as the sole survivors of the mission. Shepard can either encourage Vega to go for it without hesitation or tell him that such a decision should not be taken lightly.
Either way, however, eventually Shepard can meet Vega in the refugee camp getting something tattooed on his shirtless back. Upon being queried, Vega explains that he eventually decided to accept N7 training after all, and is getting a tattoo on his back to celebrate the occasion. Shepard can either congratulate him or admonish him not to take N7 training lightly since it's a lot of work; then, Shepard will ask Vega if he can return to duty given the tattoo. Vega responds that it's true that he's not looking forward to putting his armor back on after getting a tattoo on his back but the pain will not prevent him from being part of Shepard's squad.
- According to BioWare, James Vega is intended to reflect the perspective of a new player coming to the franchise.
- James Vega was originally known as James Sanders, however the name was changed some time after several gaming press outlets visited BioWare and revealed his original name. Vega himself references this after saving Kahlee Sanders from the attack on Grissom Academy, saying his father's last name was Sanders, but claims that there's no relation to Kahlee. 
- As with all squad members, James Vega has unique dialogue that can be heard at various locations, during missions or assignments, or if a specific squad member is in the selected team.
- Like Garrus Vakarian, James also shares the relationship of mentor and protege to a certain extent, following Shepard's advice regarding his military career decisions.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Game Informer, May 2011, Issue 217
- ↑ GTTV Episode 508, January 19th, 2012
- ↑ http://masseffectparagonlost.com/
- ↑ http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/323/index/8340087/1
- ↑ http://quotes.yourdictionary.com/dead
- ↑ https://twitter.com/#!/CaseyDHudson/status/67841744405929984
|Mass Effect 3 Squad|
| Ashley Williams • EDI • Garrus Vakarian • James Vega|
Javik • Kaidan Alenko • Liara T'Soni • Tali'Zorah vas Normandy