Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mass Effect: Redemption - Dark Horse and Bioware get snuggly

Mass Effect is a bit of a difficult proposition as a graphic novel for me - primarily because I think a lot of the charm of the game is down to voice acting, party banter, and the epic over-arching story. Since this particular one takes place before the events of Mass Effect 2, and involves some key threads from the Shadow Broker DLC, anyone who’s played the games will have a fairly good idea how it will pan out, meaning the story’s been essentially de-fanged. There can’t be any big revelations, or twists, or deaths, so there isn’t much in the way of suspense.

Redemption is concerned primarily with Liara T’soni and her attempts to secure the body of Shepherd for Cerberus, who are trying to keep it out of the Collectors hands. She teams up with the rogue/scoundrel type Feron, a Drell who also appears in the Shadow Broker DLC, and together they track the location of the body.

Images and dissection after the break!

My primary concern with the story is the treatment of Liara, on two fronts. Firstly - my experience of Liara as a character has made me consider her quite solemn, serious and mature (I never romanced her, though - other ME players may have a different view of her), and I didn’t get that from this GN at all. There are multiple points where she is struggling against Feron, teeth gnashing, biotics flaring, trying to fly into a group of fighters irregardless of how outgunned she is. And at some point, a Batarian in a bar propositions her relatively offensively, and I found it a little out of character that her response would be to bash him unconscious and break all his furniture.

Secondly - and this isn’t limited to Liara, it’s shared in Miranda’s occasional appearances - Liara is frequently drawn in ways that are completely at odds with what she’s saying.

Mostly it’s just to better display her arse or her costume or something, but occasionally it’s just completely inaccurate - and ugly - for no apparent reason. It’s as if the artist had a set number of poses and facial arrangements, and every statement or revelation must be attached to one of these. I could dismiss it as a purely sexist, except Feron has some odd moments too.

The art in general is passable to accomplished, but there’s a high level of inconsistency with how the characters are drawn - with the exception of the non-Asari aliens, who all look pretty great. I was a serious fan of the Elcor in the bar, and the Turian guards looked wonderful, especially considering how complex their faces are.

It has to be said as well that the many ships and spacescapes and environments look fantastic - highly detailed and immersive. This is obviously the artists strength, along with the impressively involved fight scenes. No wonder Liara bashes up everything, they have a vested interest in guns-blazing-blood-flying.

Storywise it’s pretty straightforward and quite dry. There isn’t a huge deal of meat to the plot, which means I was easily distracted by Liara’s frequent moments of overacting.

Now seriously - try imagining a real live person, standing in front of you like that, and saying what she’s saying. Ridiculous. Completely.

And who stands like that? Ever?

I can’t even look at this. I don’t care if she’s a collection of pixels, my heart bleeds for anyone portrayed like this.


So all up I’m a bit disappointed. There are some beautiful artistic moments countered by far more bewildering choices, and I would have been more invested in a separate adventure with a companion character where we don’t know how it would pan out. Check it out if you want to see lots of Liara arse and have little interest in anything else.

And on that note, Liara butt-enthusiasts can find this one over here.