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1. The Hidden Movie in Mass Effect 3
Have you seen the Mass Effect movie? Honestly, it’s pretty bad. But diligent players discovered something much better: a short movie hidden within Mass Effect 3.
The movie is called Blasto 6: Partners in Crime (easily available on Youtube, BTW). It has Shepard voice actors Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale play over-the-top renegade cops in this weird love letter to 80’s buddy comedy movies.
As an added bonus, every character in this ten-minute film is voiced by either Meer or Hale, making this a real acting tour-de-force.
2. Fans Made FemShep and Garrus a Thing
Have you ever thought about how sex with Shepard and Garrus would actually work? She’s a human, and he’s a weird exoskeleton alien dude. But as they say, the heart wants what the heart wants!
After the first game, fans kept demanding a romance option for FemShep and Garrus. Eventually, Bioware caved in and made this one of the romantic options available in Mass Effect 2.
3. Developers Researched DeviantArt
Chances are that you’d get fired if you browsed DeviantArt at work and told your boss this was research. But for franchise executive producer Casey Hudson, DeviantArt became a real part of his research process.
Why, though? In an old interview, Hudson expressed his simple theory that fans tend to draw what they remember. By seeing what fans are drawing and sharing, he was able to better understand the characters and events that stuck with fans the most and incorporate more of this into future titles.
4. Players Could Originally Save Both Ashley and Kaidan
In the original Mass Effect, the game forces you to make an impossible choice. On the planet Virmire, you can only save either Ashley or Kaidan. Like a real military commander, you are forced to sacrifice one of your troops in order to save the lives of others.
But this wasn’t always the plan. An audio file hidden in the original game reveals both Kaidan and Ashley discussing a “crazy stunt” that allowed Shepard to save them both. Sadly, we’ll never know what this stunt was meant to be.
5. The Clint Eastwood Connection
The Mass Effect designers often used real people as either models or inspirations for certain characters. And the most famous example of this is Chuck actor Yvonne Strahovski who served as the model for Miranda.
But the strangest example is the character Mordin Solus. Despite acting nothing like either the actor or his famous characters, this fussy alien was designed to look like Clint Eastwood! No word yet on whether this Solarian wants you to “make his day.”
6. Improvised Dialogue
One of the things Bioware is famous for is tight writing. But that precise prose went right out the door when it came to Joker’s character.
That’s because Joker is voiced by legendary actor and funnyman Seth Green. Green preferred to record the original lines first and then improvise his own dialogue. More often than not, Bioware ended up going with the ad-libbed dialogue instead of the original lines.
7. Secret Hookups
When you think of romantic options in the Mass Effect franchise, most of us think about characters that Shepard can hook up with. But did you know that your allies might start secretly getting it on with each other?
In Mass Effect 3, what you say to certain characters can either make them attracted to you or kill their interest. Depending on what you say, you might see Tali and Garrus hooking up (assuming you romanced neither one of them). Similarly, engineers Ken Donnelly and Gabby Daniels might finally release some sexual tension after you talk to them.
Finally, Joker gets over his fear of machines by getting it on with EDI. But it all comes down to your individual interactions with these characters.
8. Miranda Is Based on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Mass Effect is a very different RPG franchise than Final Fantasy. But one aspect of Final Fantasy seriously influenced the Mass Effect series.
And that aspect was the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Art director Derek Watts loved that movie and it influenced the design of certain characters. The most obvious is the character of Miranda: both she and movie's protagonist Aki Ross are dark-haired women in iconic white jumpsuits working for mysterious organizations.
9. Banned in Singapore
The romantic options are some of the best parts of the Mass Effect franchise. And the first game was progressive for its time, allowing female Shepard to hook up with female character Liara.
However, this was a little too progressive for some countries. The game ended up getting banned in Singapore, mostly due to the lovemaking scene between FemShep and Liara. The game was eventually un-banned, though, possibly because Singapore realized there are far easier ways that citizens could view two women making out.
10. The Secret Behind Illusive Man’s Voice
Martin Sheen voices the mysterious Illusive Man. And considering that he is constantly smoking, it makes a lot of sense that you can basically hear the cig in his mouth as he speaks.
Just one problem: Martin Sheen doesn’t smoke. To make himself sound like a smoker, Sheen simply sucked on the tip of a pen while he spoke. Freud would probably have a field day with this trivia fact, but we can’t deny that Sheen really sold the performance.
11. The Thieving Cow?!?
There is one Easter egg in the first Mass Effect that very few gamers have discovered. And that’s because it requires you to do a lot of optional (and so very tedious) exploration of different planets.
Eventually, these dedicated players will find a six-legged cow on the planet Ontarom. If you turn your back on it, this cow will begin stealing your money until you kill it. But why did they have a thieving cow in the first place?
Lead Designer Preston Watamaniuk was weirded out by the six-legged design and once proclaimed “You can't trust any animal that can milk itself." And this hidden cow criminal seems to prove him right.
12. The Original Name
The name “Mass Effect” quickly became iconic. That’s why it’s so surprising that the series nearly had a much more generic title.
The original codename for the game was Science Fiction X, which was abbreviated as SFX. When it came time to choose a real title, many of the developers wanted to stick with SFX, and they only backed off because of a trademark conflict with a magazine of the same name.
13. Outcries Over Nudity
The original Mass Effect was banned in Singapore due to its same-sex romance options. And while the game was never banned in America, the same-sex romantic scene in the first game had some unexpected repercussions.
Unsurprisingly, Fox News freaked out about the first game’s romance options and cautioned the world that the game had “full digital nudity.” This wasn’t true, but it led to enough public outcry that Bioware felt compelled to remove some of the same-sex romance options from the second game. This is why FemShep can’t romance Jack despite Jack’s seemingly pansexual nature.
14. The Other KOTOR Inspirations
It’s an open secret that KOTOR’s plotting and design created a blueprint for future Bioware games. But it also served as an inspiration for Bioware to branch out and really stretch their legs.
With KOTOR, Bioware realized they had the ability to create unforgettable sci-fi RPGs that channeled the “space opera” feeling that fans wanted. At that point, they realized they’d be far better off developing their own intellectual property instead of merely creating more games for the most famous franchise in history.