Mass Effecting My Judgement

June 19, 2009

Last gaming post for a while. Promise.

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Mass Effect was so pretty I couldn’t stop taking screenshots.

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I was smitten with the game almost immediately: it has this iron command over it’s narrative and setting, and a grand cinematic sweep almost consistently throughout. And I have to admit, I have a soft spot for games that allow you to choose and customize your main character.

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I loved playing as Jane Shephard (the default name for a female main character, pictured below, on left). The voice actor playing her part nailed the role perfectly, adding a sense of gravitas and weight to an already emotional story (where, for once, the romance is actually not embarrassing and quite sweet, in an odd gamey way).

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Heteronormativity rears its (ugly) head

What’s also incredible is the realization that, inspite of the level of customization possible with your main character, and you can create some amusingly grotesque protagonists if you so wish, the engine seems to create an extraordinary amount of expression for him/her, and its impossible not to be charmed by your character’s repertoire of faces: alternately grim, confused, angry, heartbroken and even amused.

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The plot is engaging, intelligent. The gameworld is intricate and carefully thought out: it’s a far cry from the traditional masculine sci-fi fantasy realms we’re so sick of in gaming. Even the choice to play either as male or female is an interestingly weighed one. A lot of games that feature the option seem to do it out of mere tokenism: where, apart from slight changes in grammar, there’s little difference otherwise.

Of course, one could argue that there doesn’t need to be, but that sounds like a slightly lazy approach.

In Mass Effect, this choice, and I could be mistaken, seemed…important. It seemed to offer a distinct variant of a gameworld depending of choice of gender.  Consequently, the game confronts a lot of interesting issues, and offers surprisingly contemporary viewpoints on xenophobia, and gender, and sexuality. And being a game, and therefore interactive, it packs quite an emotional punch.

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Marc, before you ask, these ARE in-game screenshots

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It’s lovely. Please play it if you can.

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3 Responses to “Mass Effecting My Judgement”

  1. Marc said

    I suspected they were in-game. My question to you that you still haven’t answered is, where did this PC come from?

  2. sottai said

    Come on over to IM sometime. I’ll explain it to you. =)

  3. Vin said

    Playing as the Female player was hard. Her ass was an irritating distraction.

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