Thursday, August 2, 2012


There was one more thing I wanted to say about Mass Effect (to accompany my earlier articles on the title). After heavy play of the second and third games in the series, I want to propose a rule to all game designers from now until forever ...

It is OK to make the player's character look ugly and twisted, as long as it is in a cute, cartoonish way. It is not OK to make the main character actively horrifying and painful to look at.

I think this is a reasonable rule of thumb. If you're going to expect someone to spend 40 hours in your fantasy world, you don't want them going "GAHHHH!!!" every time they look at the screen.

Why do I bring it up?

Well, in Mass Effect, the main spectrum for your character's moral choices is between Paragon (nice, lawful good, goody-two-shoes) and Renegade (harsh, Bad Cop, Patton-type). Note that this is not Good vs. Evil! You're always good. It's just whether you are nice-good or cranky-good.

But there is a key difference between the two paths. If you are a Paragon, you stick with the nice, normal face you made in character creation. However, if you choose the Renegade dialogue options, your face will look like this ...


That's right. When playing Mass Effect, you better be as polite to as many people as you can, if you don't want to look like a hideous mutant leperzombie whose face is peeling off in glowing sheets.

(Note that, in both Mass Effect 2 and 3, you can spend resources to remove the leperface effect. While BioWare likes to pretend it treats both moral choices equally, this sort of gives the game away. They are actively punishing you for being rude. If you doubt this, remember: A Paragon player can't spend resources to get the zombie look. It only works the other way 'round.)

Mass Effect is known for its in-game romances. Halfway through Mass Effect 3, for example, your hot, easy secretary comes to your quarters to use your shower and totally tries to bang you. (Warning: The previous sentence contained a spoiler!) Bioware, please please please, in future games make it so I don't feel sorry for anyone trying to sleep with my character. When she makes her move, I, as a player, don't want be saying:

"What are you DOING? Haven't you looked at me? Haven't you seen my FACE? Sure, I have a working shower! Now run! RUN! I'M A MONSTERRRRR!"

Look. These things are basically adolescent wish fulfillment. I don't need to have a really gross face in my fantasy world. I've had enough of that in my actual physical adolescent life, thanks.


  1. I loved the scars all over my Shepard... The long hard road and choices she made were etched into her face.

    To each their own I guess.

  2. Same here.

    Please, don't make a mistake and don't make generic judgement beacuse you, or persons you know don't like it. Few players I know did enjoy "reward" from Renegade path :)

  3. All I took from that was mutant leperzombie, but that's full of win all by itself.

  4. It could be worse. In some of the Fable games, if you eat meat you start looking like that...

    If you mine enough platinum from the planets, you can get rid of the scars though.

  5. Planescape Torment will be the exception btw ;)

  6. Maybe you'll remember that the next time you post snarky blog comments!

  7. Looks like somebody cut themselves shaving... with a lawnmower...

  8. I had no problems with the idea of making your appearance more gruesome. I recalled thinking that was a rather nifty aspect of the Fable games early on, when your moral choices had a direct impact on your appearance.

  9. Have to disagree Jeff. I loved the fact that I was evil (yeah evil, not grumpy pffft) and it showed - Sith style.

  10. Totally disagree also. I have all kinds of issues with the Mass Effect games, but the scarring was actually a really nice touch and a neat visual reminder of the hell your character has already been through up to that point. I never saw it as a "punishment," and I liked the idea that you could heal your scars either by developing a "positive attitude," or just upgrading your medical equipment. But then again I don't believe that it's important or even desirable for every lead character to be beautiful.

  11. .
    Another disagree here! I had enough resources to undo the scar but I think it actually looked quite badass and helped the character to be so harsh when being Renegade. Now... I think most ppl who like the scars actually played with the male Sheppard. The female just looks... bleh. Any female Sheppard.

  12. Dude thid LEPERZOMBIE guy is sereously ugly. But i would rather be ugly than a goodie tooshoo!!

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  15. lol this blog made me laugh, cos I thought the exact same thing when the characters flirted with me and I still had scars in Mass Effect 2, haha. And IA with you, I'm a sucker for the character I'm playing to look as cute as possible....else I just go WTF are you thinking wanting me!?!?

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