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Default Mass Effect 2 - Deconstructed, Part One @ Critical Gamer

February 22nd, 2010, 13:16
UK site Critical Gamer posts the first of a two-part brief but in-depth (and spoiler-heavy) look at Bioware's Mass Effect 2. This first article is designed to point out flaws, while the one to come is stated to be about the more positive aspects.
Here's a relatively spoiler-free exerpt from the end of the article:
Mass Effect is populated with a number of different alien races; the codex catalogues these races with information on their culture, their history and technology. This is all great stuff and it shows that Bioware have put in a significant amount of consideration when fleshing out their universe. But one niggling problem remains in the way these aliens are portrayed in the world. Despite the unique characteristics each race has, getting past the speech problems of the Elcor, or the all female Asari, each race acts like a funny looking human. So you get a hard-boiled Asari detective, reminiscent of a thousand others, the only difference being she’s blue….It would be interesting to see races that are so different and so ‘alien’ to humanity that their outlook and philosophy is nigh on incomprehensible. Even the Asari Justiciar – part of Asari culture supposed to be unique and interesting is able to liken herself to a monk or a chivalrous knight, and thus becomes an instantly recognisable archetype.
Imagine a companion whose outlook was so diametrically opposed emotionally and philosophically to anything human, that working them out was a true mystery. Instead we hear about wives, daughters, sons, religion and marriage, topics that are all too familiar to us.
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February 22nd, 2010, 13:16
It would be interesting to see, but different. I remember this complaint from the first Mass Effect. Non-humanlike aliens does not automatically mean better. That they are humanlike, was obviously a conscious decision. That's the game they decided to make. Some people would have prefered the unique aliens, but would it only be a novelty thing or actually something that makes sense, is part of the game universe and is fun? I don't think the game was actually ever intended to have pround intellectual depth. And that's fine for me, mostly.

Still, truely bizarre aliens would be nice to have for once (how about the keepers in the Citadel? Aren't they supposed to be incomprehensible creatures?).
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February 22nd, 2010, 13:48
Good fiction is a metaphor, alien is simply alien.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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February 22nd, 2010, 14:06
Also, human fantasy is fairly limited. Saying "only your fantasy is the limit!" is actually not as amazing as it sounds - the universe no doubt contains things we can't even begin to understand or relate to.

In fact, in many cases, the fantasy of a child is more interesting than that of an adult. Adults tend to have a hard time thinking outside the box - always trying to relate to things that already exist. A child can come up with incredible things; things that would certainly not be practical, but where magic or science fiction is involved, it doesn't always have to be..

It wouldn't be strange for a child to draw something looking like a sheep, but explains that it is an eight-headed monster who uses heads for all bodily functions - arms, heads, pooing, etc. An adult would simply see a sheep. That is how we relate to things. That is why most "aliens" in various science fiction settings usually relate to something that has already existed on earth (often by having bodyparts that resemble that of various animals, but with a humanoid twist).
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February 22nd, 2010, 20:25
Ha, just thinking about it makes my head spin. Just try to forget everything you know about human anatomy. Forget body parts, eyes, nose, ears—sight, smell, hearing… perception. Nothing seems like a given, maybe not even self-awareness, an characteristic usually attributed to humans. Or awareness at all! It could be a concept completely… alien (pun, sorry for it).

How the hell do you envision such an alien and how the hell do you let a player interact with it? You don't. You need some familiarity.
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February 23rd, 2010, 10:05
Exactly, you need something to relate to. Truth be told, Mass Effect does have some interesting aliens, like the Thorian - a 50.000 year old (or more) plant that seems somewhat concious. It's got various features that make it rather unique (indoctrination among other things).

The races you interact a lot with, however, follow the typical "almost human, but not quite" design that we've seen in so many sci-fi movies/books/games. I'd like to see a bit more variety, but I understand the design choice - it's just easier that way.
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