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Editor’s note: Seems like most people (myself included) have a hard time being the bad guy in role-playing games. But why is it so easy in games like Grand Theft Auto? -Demian
With Mass Effect 2 now well on its way to (possibly) breaking sales records and website servers, I find my thoughts centered on the first game. As much as I want to play the sequel right now, a part of me wants to hold back and replay the first Mass Effect just one more time (this will be my third playthrough).
Not because I want my version of Commander Shepard to make all the right decisions, befriend the right characters, and peacefully resolve the toughest missions — no, I want to go into Mass Effect 2 as a bad dude (well, bad as you can get while still saving the universe).
Most people I know want to play Mass Effect 2 from the male Paragon standpoint. Admittedly, that’s how I tackled the last game my first…er…two times through (but with a female character), and I was fine with that. But while titles like Bioshock offer a choice between good actions and selfish deeds in the context of gaining and losing power over the course of a single game, Mass Effect was (and remains) a different beast. For the first time that I know of, here’s a game where the choices I make actually influence events in the next chapter of the series. And that’s why I have to replay my 40-hour, perfectly completed save file.
It wasn’t a side-quest I missed or some relationship-hinging dialogue that led me to this decision. Quite simply, I wasn’t happy that I had coasted through the game as a good guy, a semi-Paragon. What kind of fun is that?
Until now, I’ve always played the good guy in any game that has a morality feature — I’ve never killed a Little Sister, never chosen the Dark Side of the Force, and I’ve always made the heroic choices in Infamous. Hell, I don’t even leave my farms in Harvest Moon without comprehensively brushing and talking to all of my cows and chickens.
Even though I have the proven capacity for anger when I’m interacting with real people, I’m generally a nice guy by nature, and I always have been. In some ways, that kind of takes the fun out of playing most video games, where my knee-jerk reflex to be “good” usually dictates the choices I make.
But that’s where Mass Effect changes everything for me. Sure, I’ll have to step on a few more people along the way, but it’s refreshing to know now that I can save the galaxy, beat the Big Bad at the end, and my Shepard can still be a bit of a dick, a rogue. That’s fun.
Sometimes, I forget that video games enable me to do things I would normally never do, but I’m going to make an effort to rectify that. Maybe I’m not much of a badass in real life, but at the very least, this character I spent three painstaking hours crafting back in 2007 is going to be a little bit more like Han Solo and Aeon Flux, all rolled into one.
In this instance, being a good guy is overrated. After all, what’s the harm in being a little evil every now and then? Maybe like games, life’s a bit more fun that way.
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