Subject Zero: Compare & Contrast

By Alec Meer on January 12th, 2010 at 1:24 am.

OK, we’ve posted rather a lot of Mass Effect 2′s approximately 3178 different trailers to date and thus should restrain ourselves from hereon in, but I can’t help but mention this one. Last year was fascinating/horrifying in terms of Bioware marketing – with Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 both they alternated wildly between trying to appeal to the more traditional RPG fan and then to some sort of marketing-envisaged additional crowd, some mass of potential players who just needed a bit more unconvincingly-animated sexual intercourse and past-its-outrage-by-date goth metal and then they’d surely pour untold millions of Eurodollars into these games. Supremely easy to scoff at, but also supremely rational. Money makes the world go round, and we’d be fools to believe Bioware thought any differently. And yet the most recent clutch of Mass Effect trailers suggest a return to traditionalism- and the most recent even seems to be making amends.

Perhaps it’s because Dragon Age proved successful, perhaps it’s because everyone involved suddenly felt ashamed about pretending their game was anything to do with someone shouting “bitch” repeatedly, or perhaps it’s because the most recent focus group happened to include someone who’d once read a book. Either way, ME’s 2 genetic modified assassin character has, in the space of one trailer, transformed from ludicrous, grating collection of buzzwords and into someone potentially very interesting.

That was then:

Frankly, I’m embarrassed for the entire electric videogaming industry. But: this is now:

Still a little too keen on the I’m-tough-because-I-swear thing, but there are differences both subtle and profound – a matter of cartoon anger versus righteous fury. Well, hopefully. It’s nice to see this character being treated as something other than a Big Brother contestant with guns and tattoos, and it cements the growing sense that ME2 could be something very special. And I say that as someone who found the first Mass Effect dissatisfyingly anodyne. I surprise myself with how much I’m looking forward to this one, and I hope the remaining marketing is going to cement rather than upset that.

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110 Comments »

  1. 1stGear says:

    I wouldn’t even say “carefully pick through”. I went for mostly neutral responses with Ashley with a Paragon response thrown in on occasion and she was still all up in my pants. Bioware romance plots are set up in such a fashion that as long as you don’t consistently call the person a retard they’ll throw themselves all over you.

    As for SuZe, I’m still not terribly impressed. Not terribly impressed with any of the characters as a matter of fact. As someone else said, they all tend to be variations of “Violence and ruthlessness are awesome” and Grunt is just Wrex only not as interesting. Its kind of a shame because all of ME1′s companions had some depth and reasons to follow their conversations.

    Except for Liara, who Bioware just put in for the sake of the Sweaty Neckbeard demographic.

  2. Bleahh. says:

    I like that Rachel Weisz looking chick better.

  3. Calabi says:

    Actually seeing another one, it kind of reminds me of XFactor and those little interview snippets they have where they tell you their aspirations and life story.

  4. Rei Onryou says:

    Dragon Age: Origins was RPG of the decade (the noughties) and it’s looking likely that ME2 will be RPG of the decade as well (the tensies(?)). Are Bioware legally allowed to do that?

    • Funky Badger says:

      Wasn’t Baldur’s Gate 2 released in the, ahem, Noughties?

  5. Macq says:

    Hopefully it’ll have more content then the “WTF, over already?” first game.

  6. Tim says:

    They improved her outfit dramatically.

  7. Jason says:

    I was like, anodyne doesn’t sound like the right word, doesn’t it mean soothing? And indeed it does. Apparently the first game was dissatisfyingly soothing. Alec was seeking something more like being rubbed with a brillo pad but all he found was the aloe vera on the wound of gaming. Either I’m dumb, the soothing of pain is now bad, or the wrong word was chosen.

    As for the trailers, I couldn’t agree more. The first was so generically edgy it hurt. The second keeps the edge but gives it the flavor of, you know, a real person. It’s still not really there, but it’s miles better.