Subject Zero: Compare & Contrast

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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