All I want for Mass Effect 3 is plausible clothing

Game Informer’s Matt Miller posted an excellent Mass Effect 3 Wishlist today. I agree with most everything he said, but would like to add my biggest pet peeve about ME2 to the list:

I WANT THE FEMALE CHARACTERS TO WEAR SOME CLOTHING. Clothing that is flattering, that doesn’t look like it belongs at a fetish party.

In the first Mass Effect, the female characters’ costumes adhered to those guidelines. Yes, Ashley’s pink and white armor was silly-looking. Yes, it had boob compartments in the chest plate. Still, it looked like ARMOR. You had the option to change her into different armor, as well, so Ashley could wear green or blue or black instead of looking like Space Marine Barbie for the entire game.

Liara and other characters wore form-fitting bodysuits, but they looked like wetsuit-type garments that could fit inside armor when necessary, rather than ME2’s skintight latex.

There was one awful female costume in Mass Effect, and it belonged to Matriarch Benezia. The concept art for Matriarch Benezia looked great:

It showed some skin, but not an outlandish amount. It had a Maleficent/Sith Lord look to it, and was definitely intimidating. Looking at this Benezia, you can tell she’s no one to mess around with. In the actual game, however, her look was changed to this:

Suddenly, all I see is BEWBS! I couldn’t take any of Benezia’s scenes seriously, because all I could focus on were those gigantic implants in a game populated by more modestly proportioned people. Her top was so low-cut that I couldn’t help but wonder if she’d had a nipple removal whenever she appeared on screen. I don’t mean to imply that possessing breasts takes away from one’s credibility, but I thought it was ridiculous that a 1,000-year-old, terribly powerful biotic being from a monosexual race apparently needed Heidi Montag-levels of breast augmentation to be considered worthy enough to be included in a video game.

Therefore, I was terribly disappointed when I started playing Mass Effect 2 and realized that the women characters’ costumes tended toward the Matriarch Benezia school of costume design.

Miranda Lawson, the first female you recruit to your party, wears what appears to be a white latex bodysuit. Or maybe it’s body paint. Oh, and heels, of course. Other characters in the game make jokes and derogatory comments about Operative Lawson’s “uniform.” I loved the cinematic camera angles Mass Effect 2 utilizes in conversation scenes between Shepard and team members, but one particular slow cut (out of several) focusing on Miranda’s ass, where she was leaning on a desk and poking her bum out while having a serious conversation with Shepard, had me screaming “Really? REALLY?!” at the TV instead of paying attention to the dialogue.

Conversation with Miranda reveals that she’s supposed to be superhumanly intelligent and remarkably talented at Force-like Biotic powers, but her costume and the camera angles used in Miranda’s scenes tell me the only thing the player is really supposed to focus on is her physical…ahem…assets. I didn’t notice any ass shots in conversations with Miranda’s coworker Jacob Taylor, or team members Garrus Vakarian or Thane Krios, or, well, any of the male characters in the game.

Even worse were the sartorial choices of Samara, a millenium-old sort of-samurai assassin bound by a strict code of honor. What would such a being wear? This, apparently.

The rest of it is a skintight jumpsuit made from the same latex/body paint material as Miranda’s outfit. Oh, and heels, of course. Leaving aside my problems with the asari—an all-female race of beings who live for hundreds of years but seemingly never age, who are desired sexually by sentient species throughout the galaxy despite looking strangely human, who (based on my experience on the largely asari-populated planet of Illium) subject each other to awful cosmetic advertisements much like those directed at women in our culture—I am just baffled as to why this would ever be appropriate clothing for an assassin. It’s bright red, it’s shiny, it’s so tight it appears restrictive to movement (and probably creaks when she moves), and I cannot believe that, even after 1,000 years of practice, anyone would care to run, jump, and fight in four-inch heels.

Mass Effect 2 eliminated the inventory system of the first game, making it impossible to change the clothing of characters other than Shepard. I was wildly excited upon learning that unlocking each character’s loyalty opened up a costume change for the character, only to be crushed when I realized that, in Miranda and Samara’s cases, it merely changed the color of their original costumes. In fact, one can clearly see the outline of Miranda’s belly button in her second costume. Gah. The lone woman whose outfit was significantly improved after her loyalty mission was Jack.

Now, I understand that the designers wanted to show off Jack’s elaborate tattoos, but fighting with only a thin belt wrapped around one’s nipples would be HELLACIOUSLY UNCOMFORTABLE.

I was relieved on Jack’s behalf to change her into a midriff-baring leather halter top.

Damn. Only now that I typed that last sentence out do I realize how sad it sounds.

Tali is apparently the only woman crew member besides female Shepard who missed the latex memo. Her clothing is quite lovely, probably because her costume from the original Mass Effect carried over to this one. Or maybe it’s because she has to wear an environmental suit that protects her from all contact with the outside world, and thus can’t show mad amounts of skin. I like to think Tali wouldn’t immediately start fighting Geth in a bikini if her weak immune system were suddenly bolstered, but based on the other costumes, I’m really not sure.

So please, Bioware, take a cue from your first Mass Effect game and give the ladies something less objectifying to wear. Commander Vivian Shepard has had enough.


23 Responses to “All I want for Mass Effect 3 is plausible clothing”

  1. 1 Zer0s
    March 4, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Hmm yeah you might wanna skip DA (or play it, accordingly).

    While I do not seem to agree with what you say sometimes, I can agree that Bio is clearly pushing this to its limits -the eyes can like what they see, but the brains just rolleyes all the time while playing DA and Ass Effect1+2.

  2. March 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    By DA, are you referring to Dragon Age: Origins? I played it and loved it, but Morrigan’s shirt (if a boob-sling counts as a shirt) was ridiculous.

    • 3 Zer0s
      March 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm

      Indeed I meant DA. The armors tend to be ridiculous as well. There’s mild plausibility for that in ME in that there’s shields, but DA’s aim for gritty and realism (in the political sense, obviously) is obscured by this.

      • March 5, 2010 at 7:13 pm

        Hahaha, the shoulders (pauldrons?) on some of the armor KILLED me! I wondered at the beginning of the game why all the characters had such bizarrely huge hands, but once I saw the armor I realized that normally-proportioned hands would look like tiny baby hands with the armor on. I really liked DA, but I definitely wouldn’t pay for a book about its concept art.

  3. 5 StormyL
    April 6, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Hear, hear! I’ve been asking myself the exact same thing since playing ME 2. Is this really what we have to look forward to with EA’s takeover? Half naked women who like to swear a lot. The fact that I had to spend money to put clothes on Jack was a little stupid, but I couldn’t unlock her mission fast enough. Too bad there other characters’ costume options aren’t any good. I realize who the primary gamer demographic is, but does EA/Bioware really think it’s pulling in more players by creating these types of female characters? Seriously guys, lets fix this for ME 3, oh and give us the crouch feature back.

  4. 6 sikk
    April 29, 2010 at 3:46 am

    its overdone but its supposed to be that way!! lol. I mean, u have the option of literally hooking up with and ****ing the crew. This game is hyper real so everything in its universe should be over the top. lol, In short, i think it makes the game a more incredible experience to have excessively sexual looking female characters and hope they continue!! 😀

    • May 2, 2010 at 6:14 pm

      I’ve got to disagree with you there.

    • 8 Krissy
      March 2, 2011 at 6:16 am

      I am making the assumption that you are male for having made that comment, but apologies if I am incorrect. However, I wonder if you would be saying this hyper sexualisation is still ideal if it was men that were sexualised and you had to sit through constant close up shots of half naked men.

      • 9 Nick
        April 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm

        For what it’s worth, I’m a man, and I don’t mind the men also showing some skin. I grew up reading Conan the Barbarian and similar fantasy novels, where heaving, sweaty chests were the norm for both sexes. When I was younger (and better looking!), I even enjoyed wearing ridiculous costumes of that sort (Conan, not Miranda) for Halloween. I did feel the need to put some clothes on Jack, though, and I do think that the women should wear something a little more practical on missions.

      • April 6, 2011 at 9:03 am

        I love me some Conan! Parity is really at the heart of the issue for me. I’ve got no problem with Frank Frazetta illustrations where everyone is running around near-naked, but when the male characters are all in space suits and armor and the women are by and large outfitted in what appears to be impractical fetish wear, it throws me out of the story.

        I dislike being unable to change party members’ costumes in Dragon Age 2, but I appreciate its costume design more than that of ME2. Isabela’s got it all hanging out, yes, but it makes a lot more sense in the context of her character than Miranda’s and Samara’s ensembles. And Varric’s chest hair………..whew! It’s a thing of beauty. ;p

  5. 11 ad-hoc
    May 28, 2010 at 4:19 am

    hmm. these days the game industry is always making noises about being taken seriously like the film industry, and complaining about still being treated by media and governments to some extent as a less legitimate cultural form… mindless and immature, and mostly for spotty teenagers and socially challenged people. can’t imagine why…

    • June 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      I don’t think that’s entirely fair. The video game industry has its problems, for sure, but it’s produced quite a few games that I consider legitimate works of art (including Mass Effect 2). And the film industry? It certainly has its share of masterpieces, but has also spewed all kinds of crap into the cultural consciousness. I still want to see more substantial costumes for the female characters of Mass Effect 3, but I think the Mass Effect franchise is light years ahead in its portrayal of women over, say, Iron Man 2 (which I saw last week. The first one was way better.)

  6. 13 jesse
    September 19, 2010 at 5:10 am

    the constant ass shots aren’t needed and the ridiculous costumes need to be improved.

    i’d like it if you could customize the whole teams armour like in ME but make it simpler to use.

    • 14 Laura
      December 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      Try being a female gamer, and I mean a REAL female gamer, not a COD/Halo “gurl” gamer. Anyways, I’m really getting tired of 90% of all female characters in general being portrayed as nothing but a bunch of bimbo, unrealistic, fake looking sluts. I do not fit the damn gamer virgin for life stereotype, and I don’t think a decent amount of male gamers do either. Therefore I don’t need, nor do I want, this garbage in my games. It’s way overdone and completely unnecessary most of the time.

  7. 15 Chup@Cabra
    January 31, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Well, as unfortunate as it may seem, you’ve got to admit that the primary audience for games of this nature are 18+ year old males, and T&A in Sci-Fi has been a staple since it was first created (from Deja Thoris to those short skirts in Star Trek to this).

    That being said, even I laughed out loud when I saw the above mentioned ass shot of Miranda, that was just WAY too obvious a ploy ^_^

    Strangely enough, I could have accepted less T&A if they had the guts to do the same as they did in ME 1, and include a ‘sex’ scene between sheppard and whoever he/she choose (was there one between a FemSHep and Garrus? [I’ll look it up on wikipedia])

    • February 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

      I’m all too aware that I don’t fall into the primary video game sales demographic. That’s why I do a lot of bitching about things that make it plainly apparent that I’m not a member of and am less valued than the target audience. 😉 I’m still holding out hope for more clothing/believable armor for the women characters in ME3, despite the odds.

  8. 17 Krissy
    March 2, 2011 at 5:13 am

    I agree 100%. As a female gamer it is annoying to have (even though its only a game) another woman’s breasts and ass in your face. Especially the fact Miranda’s cat suit type thing goes up her crack as well. I got fed up with seeing Miranda’s butt by the end of the game. The problem is if females complain about these things we are either prude or jealous (both being ridiculous). So what you said is sooo true you feel undervalued like your opinion doesn’t matter and just the eye candy for the boys.

    • April 6, 2011 at 9:10 am

      Ahahaha, I love the “you’re just jealous!” defense. ‘Yes, Mr. Gamer man, you’ve got my number! I am blindingly jealous of a NPC who exists only in drawings and digital representations. WHY CAN’T I LOOK LIKE THAT?!’ *face palm*

  9. 19 Syed Abdullah
    April 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I think Mass Effect 3 should allow players to choose the costumes as well. For example, I like Miranda’s tight outfit that accentuates her boobs and ass and I like Samara’s cleavage. And I wanna play Mass Effect 3 with the ladies looking sexy. If a player doesn’t like the female appearance, they should be able to change the outfit.

  10. July 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Hear, hear! I’m a guy, but this is ridiculous. Over the years I have been trying to get my parents to understand games by showing them the best in the industry. I thought ME2 might finally convince them that games can be just as good or better than movies. Here I am trying to show them a sophisticated game for a mature adult, but sexed up females and Jack’s potty mouth are not mature (like so many of those garbage HBO shows). That’s adolescent/college kid crap that has no business being in a game like this. I did end up showing my parents the game, but I had to be very careful the segment I showed them was tasteful. Revealing outfits during the romance scenes are fine. Revealing outfits during the regular gameplay makes no sense. I can’t imagine how much Jack’s outfit hurts; she’s got no support there. =) I’ll still play Bioware games, because I love the “worlds” they create, but I hope some company will start making real artistic games where the mainstream only has good things to say about it.

  11. May 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Yes Yes! By this time, ME3 has come out, soooo….yeah the more coverage thing did not work out. Boob compartments galore! And Miranda showed more butt in her short segments than she did in the second game……Oh, and I *LOVED* how maleshep got a cool jeans and jacket casual combo and femshep got……. a skintight black leather dress with an ass-zipper. Seriously?! Just one more thing to make me disappointed in the game.

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