BioWare has been accused of censoring the upcoming Mass Effect Legendary Edition — the remaster collection of the original Mass Effect trilogy — by removing its gratuitous butt shots. This removal of various leering camera angles has caused some gamers to cry “censorship,” with BioWare deciding to make some changes it believes detracted from the story it was trying to tell.
The ability to romance characters is a big part of what made Mass Effect so popular, so news that BioWare would potentially be censoring some of these scenes sparked outrage. However, as is typically the case with the internet controversy machine, these responses are disproportionate compared to what BioWare actually said.
Why BioWare isn’t censoring Mass Effect at all
In an interview with Metro, BioWare project director Mac Walters discussed how certain alterations were being made to the game, specifically regarding its treatment of female characters such as Miranda Lawson in cutscenes.
‘Kevin [Meek, character and environment director] actually called out some camera cuts that were just… why was that focusing on Miranda’s butt?” Walters said. “So in some cases we said, ‘Okay, we can make a change there’. But ultimately, to change an entire character model or something like that wasn’t really… it was a decision that was made as part of many creative decisions and just showing it at the best possible fidelity that we could going forward is really the choice for all of the art that we had.‘
Additionally, Meek noted how the female version of Shepard would be improved so that she would be “on par” with her male equivalent, making additions such as subtle face shape changes, wrinkles, and different camera angles so that she would feel like more of her own character rather than a palette swap.
All of this sounds perfectly reasonable and, as some have pointed out, actually not as extensive as many had hoped considering that some Mass Effect fans wanted new romance options, new animations, and altered character models. “I do think a lot of things have evolved since [the original games],” Walters said about BioWare’s approach to female characters in the original trilogy. “I don’t know if I would say we were ultra-concerned about it or anything like that, but there were considerations.”
So there will be moderate changes in this department, but they’ll mostly revolve around awkward camera shots that seemed out-of-place in the original trilogy. Still, that hasn’t prevented the perenially outraged from doing what they do best.
Censorship cries from the YouTube outrage machine
The Quartering, a YouTuber with 1 million subscribers, published a video titled ‘Bioware CENSORS Mass Effect Legendary Edition Because Beautiful Women Are Bad & Gamers Are Evil.’ In the video, he explains how if there is a game with a “beautiful woman” in it, it will be updated — the implication being that developers feel forced to remove attractive characters when they modernize old video games.
He offers Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s Tifa as an example of this — a character who was given a more athletic body type than in the remake than in the original and various spin-offs, though was certainly not a dramatic departure from her previous incarnations. He explains how Mass Effect Legendary Edition will be an “easy pass” as its developers are focusing on changing camera angles when they should be “fixing” the ending of Mass Effect 3 instead. (If BioWare changing Mass Effect’s camera angles is “self-censorship,” then why would the same not be said if it changed Mass Effect 3’s ending as a result of fan backlash?)
This is ignoring how the character models themselves aren’t being altered and the romance scenes are being kept in-tact, but is reflective of a wider (and incorrect) belief that Mass Effect Legendary Edition’s changes are an example of censorship. As we’ve seen with plenty of remasters and remakes, various changes will be made to old games to bring them in-line with modern releases. Compared to some of the more major alterations made in remakes over the years, altered camera angles isn’t exactly an example of drastic alterations.
As far as we know, Mass Effect Legendary Edition’s romances will stay the same, as will its character models. BioWare is just making sure that the camera won’t zoom in on Miranda’s backside when she’s baring her soul about her sister. It’s a sensible change but one that is predictably riling up not-too-sensible people.
In more Mass Effect news, the Legendary Edition is reportedly missing one DLC from the original series, while fans of the series also don’t have to wait until the collection’s launch to play a “remaster” of the original game.