Rolling a Psychopath

I am now four hours into Mass Effect 3. As such I know the basic scenario, have shot quite a few people or things in the head, have collected some artifacts or whatever, gathered people to help me win the war, and such. These are the things you do when you’re in the business of saving the known universe from almost certain destruction. And I’m happy to do them, it’s my job. However, I’ve been struggling a bit with the roleplaying situation of the game. In particular, my chosen role of “psychopath” isn’t being well supported.

See, I visualise my character, Commander Jess Shepard, not just as a “getting things done” kind of person, but also as someone who has no regard or interest in other people’s emotions. It’s important to me that she respond in entirely heartless, asocial ways to the situations around her. The reason for this is simply that in the extraordinarily dire situation the universe constantly seems to be in in the Mass Effect series, that’s probably around about what you’d need. Nice to think you need someone to “rally the troops” and so on, but maybe better to have someone with zero emotional connection to anyone so they can pull the trigger as and when necessary. So goes my rationale.

But Mass Effect 3, even more than the previous two games, seems determined to inject unwelcome humanity into my play. Even as I stonily refuse to care about some kid being blown out of the sky by the reapers, my character is having recurring dreams about the kid and feeling all soppy about him. I try to have a stoic moment of “get it together or I don’t need you” with an injured teammate, but my Shepard all but breaks down weeping as she tries to keep a stiff upper lip. Colour me annoyed.

The weirdest thing about all this is that you’d think some kind of “psychopath option” would de rigueur for these sorts of role-playing video games. After all, the role of psychopath is really the only one that today’s still-limited game mechanics truly support. Expressing yourself with a gun and emotionally stunted dialog trees and all that. Why not fully embrace it as a supported affective mode of play? Why not have it be possible to play through such that people are just kind of creeped out by the coldness of your character and such that you rarely have to actually speak to them except in curt monosyllabics? Why the hell weren’t more people creeped out by Gordon Freeman, for that matter? A psychopath if ever I played one.

So anyway, internet, now you know what I want I imagine it is mere moments until I get it.

12 April 2012
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