Yes, I am still whittering about Mass Effect. Sorry. At least there's some actual social commentary involved.
So last night I manned up and did the one thing that anyone who's played Mass Effect knows to dread: I drove the Mako. For those of you who don't play, picture this: you have a six-wheeled ATV whose suspension has to survive getting dropped from a moving spaceship, at least according to the cutscene. (Why the hell didn't they just actually land
?) Anyway, end result is a monstrosity that handles like a bumper car and has pogo sticks for suspension. Guess how much fun this generally is to drive.
As it turns out, I'm not horrible at it. It takes a delicate touch on the A and D keys and I'm still not entirely sanguine about going backwards, but aside from an unfortunate 'I ran over a space monkey' incident on Hercules (I think it was Hercules, anyway), I actually did pretty well, considering how terrified I was.
The rest of it? Noooooot so hot. I'm finding that playing an Adept is complicated beyond reason and I'm not entirely sure how to use any of the special bits and bobs you get for the techies or the biotics beyond Barrier. I'm pondering starting over again, this time with Soldier (plain old gun-bunny) or Infiltrator (gun-bunny with tech). The problem is that even on Casual, the fights happen too fast in areas that are too poorly-lit and I end up flailing. A lot. This decision was made during a particularly unpleasant set of firefights with renegade biotics on a cargo vessel and geth in an abandoned mine respectively. I'm better at shooting things. I should really stick with shooting things. I could be a sniper
. That'd be fun.
has flagged up the Super Armour and Super Gun mods. Yeeeeeees, I'll be having those...)
On a related note, ME3 spoilers are going up and while I don't entirely understand them, I am getting ideas about them from stuff I've read while looking for ways to not die horribly every time I enter combat. There is one thing that I do understand, though, and this is not so much a spoiler as a thing that should have been fairly obvious from how EA/Bioware has been dealing with the whole 'FemShep marketing' thing to date: ME3 is apparently suffering from a near-terminal case of Dudebro Syndrome.
Dudebro Syndrome: Where a piece of entertainment media conforms so strongly to the sexist tropes on offer, up to and including, "We can't be sexist! Our girls kick ass! Fine, in ludicrous poses and unrealistic outfits so that they can conform to our fantasies, but we gave you girls who fight, what more do you want?" that it honestly feels unwelcoming for women. It's basically the "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign on the treehouse that is modern entertainment media.
They haven't made any secret of it, either. In the bits and pieces I've seen, the blurbs about character redesign have emphasised an increase strength and experience for the men ... and an increase in sexiness for the women. And let's face it; it didn't start with Ashley; it started with FemShep. When they made the decision to market ME1 and ME2 exclusively with a male Shepard, they didn't bother anyone about what he looked like - he looked rugged and manly because some demographic said that's what they wanted. They based him on the default male Shepard you get in game. Then, after three games (I am counting DA2 in this because of the Bioware connection), they finally decided to say, "We're going to do some trailers and marketing with a female Shepard!" Which got us all celebrating ... except instead of just giving us the default female Shepard, they made a beauty contest on Facebook to let us decide what FemShep would look like.
And of course, we still haven't seen so much as a single bit of promo material featuring the female Shepard whose looks were so important that it merited such goings-on on Facebook. They keep saying it's coming 'soon'. Um ... yeah, but ... so's the f'ing game
! I know it feels like forever away for those who are waiting for preorders etc, but March is not that far away, guys! The demo's coming out in a couple of weeks and we still haven't seen a single shred of promotional material featuring a female Shepard at all
! There is a fan-made trailer featuring a female Shepard and it is the most brilliant thing ever; I'll link to it when I'm not at an outdated work computer.
So ... everything to do with the male characters is "100% more rugged and gritty and strong and experienced!" Everything to do with women is "100% sexier!" I'm not sure why they're going to such great lengths to alienate the female fans by ... well, there's no other way to put it but 'pandering to the Stereotypical Straight White Male Gamer', but I have a theory: The response they got to Dragon Age 2, which was more inclusive than most games of its type in terms of sexuality and gender roles, was relatively underwhelming and, since that underwhelming response couldn't possibly
be because they rushed out the game in a year and thus put out an unbalanced, handwavey rush job instead of the brilliant game we know they can make, they decided that it was because they were being too inclusive. ME3 is to Bioware/EA what a Ferarri is to a middle-aged man: OVERCOMPENSATION. Or it's to make up for giving those poor souls, male or female, who aren't all that good at gaming the 'story' and 'RPG' modes on top of the 'action' modes, lest people think they've somehow unmanned themselves by not making it universally impossible
to complete unless you're a frag god or you cheat like hell.
Look, y'all know I love Bioware's ability to tell a decent story. I yell at the screen when I play these things that I don't do for very much else, and that's a good thing. However, this whole thing where Mass Effect is Bioware's "hardcore gamer" game (where "hardcore gamer" seems to universally mean "the Stereotypical Straight White Male") whereas Dragon Age is their 'fluffy fantasy property' that can afford to feel inclusive to people who aren't
the Stereotypical Straight White Male. It's like someone out there thinks we're still in primary school and has made the typical gender divides of "Fearless Space Marines are for boys, castles and magic are also for boys but girls can have those too, I guess". And I'm tired
Also, I swear the first person who explains to me in comments about how "I get where you're coming from, but they are
protecting their demographic..." is not going to be on my happy list for awhile. I've heard that argument before and I hate it too. The idea that appealing to one demographic has to involve belittling and alienating another is repugnant
. If you're honestly telling me that the 'core demographic' would refuse to buy the game if the females therein weren't shaped and dressed like the wet dream of a thirteen-year-old Star Trek fan with a low-key D/s fetish, then it is my feeling that the 'core demographic' is too shallow and narrow-minded to appreciate what they're being given in the first place. They have produced great games with great stories, have Bioware, and they should be let to stand on their own merits without having to so blatantly pander to a target demographic that's only the majority because of crap like this in the first place.
Okay, rant over. Sorry. Well, actually, no I'm not, but...