The long-awaited Mass Effect Legendary Edition collection has found itself at the center of a rather strange controversy that has left some gamers claiming the classic RPGs have been censored.
In an interview with Metro, BioWare project director Mac Walters addressed some of the ways that the team is using the Legendary Edition to fix certain aspects of the original Mass Effect games that haven’t aged well. Notably, he revealed that the team is especially interested in remedying some of the issues that left the original female avatar for Commander Shepard feeling like an afterthought.
“So a male Shepherd animation would have him sitting with his legs quite wide open with a low camera where, if you were wearing a skirt, it would be a bit unflattering,” Walters explains. “So we can’t necessarily change that animation, but you can raise that camera up slightly to reduce the problem.”
The idea of using modified camera angles to address problems such as those comes up again later in the interview when Walters references some of the most gratuitous camera shots in the original Mass Effect games.
“Kevin [Meek] actually called out some camera cuts that were just… why was that focusing on Miranda’s butt?” says Walters. “So in some cases, we said, ‘Okay, we can make a change there’.”
In case you didn’t play the original Mass Effect games and are wondering what all the fuss is about, the angles Walters is referencing include shots such as this one which would sometimes appear when players spoke to Miranda Lawson and other characters:
While Walters says that the team wasn’t “ultra-concerned” about character models such as Miranda, Liara, or EDI, whom some feel were designed to cater to male fantasies, they do believe that “things have evolved since [the original games]” and wanted to modify some of the elements of the original titles that no longer made sense to them.
While Walters suggests that this move exists in a middle-ground between completely altering the original games and addressing elements of those titles that make the team (and many players) a little uncomfortable, the decision is still drawing heat from some players who feel that the series has been censored and even ruined as a result of these raised camera angles.
Along with those who feel that the game’s more gratuitous shots are somehow a vital part of the Mass Effect experience (there are online communities practically built around them), some are saying that this is another example of the so-called social justice censorship debate that has involved everything from episodes of The Office and Community being altered and removed on streaming platforms to HBO Max attaching a disclaimer to Gone With The Wind. Others are claiming that it’s an act of unnecessary modification akin to the changes George Lucas made to the original Star Wars trilogy.
Before you lose all hope, though, it should be noted that many, many more people are (rightfully) pointing out that these changes are not only in and of themselves not a big deal, but that they actually make quite a bit of sense in the context of the game’s lore. After all, part of Miranda’s arc as a character involved her battling the fact that she was genetically altered to achieve a perfect physical form. It kind of ruins the moment when you’re hearing a character confess their struggles with the idea that they’re defined in the minds of their peers because of their physical form rather than their accomplishments when the camera is unreasonably focused on their butt.
If you’re one of the many fans who don’t base their lives and views on close-ups of a 480p digital butt, then you may be interested to know that Walters also revealed that the Legendary Edition will retain the Extended Cut version of the Mass Effect 3 ending rather than attempt to rewrite the controversial conclusion to the trilogy. There’s no word on how many cutscenes will be altered as part of the aforementioned modifications and any other changes the team intends to make.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is out on May 14 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.