By Hailinel 130 Comments
So I haven't played Mass Effect, nor have I played Mass Effect 2. Part of that is because I have neither an Xbox 360 nor a PC capable of running the games. But even with the release of Mass Effect 2 on the PS3, I have no interest. Not in the universe, and certainly not in Bioware's method of RPG design that involves stripping most all of the elements of RPG design out and glorifying a third-person shooter as a new genre standard. Nope, screw that.
That in mind, there's something I really don't like. Something that I feel that I can say unequivocally despite not having played the games and not sound like an ignorant asshat. And that something is that Commander Shepard's design sucks balls. I speak specifically about the default male Shepard. The guy plastered all over the box art. Now, I know that GeneriShepard's design was scanned in using a live model:
I want to say that by no means am I criticizing the model's looks. He's a very handsome man and a good pick for the lead role in a video game. And if this were most any other game, I'd have little qualm with the choice. But here's the problem.
Commander Shepard is a customizable character. He (or she) can literally be anyone that the player desires, within the bounds of the character creation system. So why, then, does the game glorify a bland, handsome guy as the cover boy protagonist? He's a few centimeters of hair away from Bald Space Marine territory. You could slap Sam Worthington in there with his trademark Sam Worthington Haircut, and you'd essentially have the same guy. The character creator could be used to create all sorts of Shepards, and yet the customization system is represented with, from a character creation standpoint, the most bland, milquetoast Shepard design that one could possibly imagine. Not only in the character creator itself, but in all media related to the game, from press screen shots to the cover art. And yet, there are people like Jeff that feel this Shepard is the One True Shepard. A character with literally no creativity in his design, but built upon the scans of a human being. What kind of message is that send in a game with an extensive character creation system? "Here, you can make your own character, or you can use our handsome cover star that took zero creative energy to design?"
That's just disappointing, Bioware. Not as disappointing as stripping Dragon Age's rather awesome character creation choices down to Mass Effect's level, but disappointing all the same.