Perhaps they are more alike than we think…
When I first played Mass Effect, it was one of the few games that blew me away with only its plot and back story. Though there were flaws in the gameplay, it was undoubtedly the best Space Opera I had seen since Star Wars and one of the best written video games of all time. Mass Effect 2 came along a little over two years later with greatly improved graphics, environments, characters, and gameplay. This is all undoubtedly due to the creative minds of the developers at Bioware, who are famous in the gaming community for incorporating great story lines, great dialog, and great characters into their games.
The developers and writers have often stated that the game took inspiration from several sci-fi films such as Star Wars, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Blade Runner, Aliens and Starship Troopers, (and a few references to Ender's Game and Battlestar Galactica if I'm not mistaken), and I can see how all of these influenced the games. What I didn't realize until the late summer of 2010 was that the games contained several similarities to the James Bond series. This came to my attention one month when Encore was constantly playing these movies. There wasn't much else to watch at the time so I frequently watched James Bond movies again and again. As I noticed the similarities I couldn't help but wonder if Bioware intentionally ripped this off, if it was an unconscious decision on part of the writers, if it was just coincidental, or if I was just looking to deeply into this and should just enjoy the fucking games and movies.
Originally, I had written this post months ago, as part of a potential joint project between me another blogger, but it never went underway. Because I haven't felt like doing any reviews lately, the fact that this one was already written, no one ever mentioning the similarities between the franchises, and all the stuff I've been doing on Bioware lately I decided to go ahead and post it. But anyway, here are the similarities I noticed.
One of the less recognizable similarities deals with the SPECTERS, who serve as right hand of the Citadel Council in the Mass Effect games. Like MI6 of the James Bond series, they often operate off the grid and are selected from solders and assassins who have proven themselves in the field. Another less noteworthy thing is that the plot of the first game revolves around Shepard tracking a rouge SPECTER who plans horrible things for the universe, (Goldeneye anyone?). Even the name of the group comes from the Bond films, SPECTER being the main antagonist organization of the early films. Even towards the end of the first game Shepard goes rouge in order to peruse his enemy as James Bond did in a few of the movies, most notably Quantum of Solace.
The more noteworthy similarities come in Mass Effect 2 and any hardcore James Bond fan will spot them. When I first played this game, my first thought was “Space Opera form of The Magnificent Seven” (but I'll get into that some other time). Then I saw the 007 in it.
The most noteworthy thing is the organization of Cerberus as it is very similar to SPECTER in the way they operate and how the world views them. They want control of the universe while SPECTER wants the world. Even the character The Illusive Man is very similar to Blofeld, (though lacking the Persian cat), in the way he operates, having his Lieutenants do most of the field work for him and communicating with them only when necessary. And like Blofeld, he desires his organization to rule with him at the top no matter what the cost.
The final similarity I've noticed so far deals with the character of Miranda, who serves as The Illusive Man's Lieutenant. In several of the James Bond movies, Bond is able to bring the villain’s female Lieutenants or mistresses to his way of thinking usually by romancing said woman. As Miranda is a love interest for Shepard and will side with you over the Illusive Man if you gain her loyalty, I can't help but think her character is some kind of take on that.
Well, that's it for the similarities I spotted but if any of you have spotted any more please feel free to comment. Perhaps I looked a little too deeply into this, or maybe other people have noticed this as well. Maybe it was intentional. Maybe it's just coincidental. Maybe it's just the latest piece of media to use the clichés that the James Bond series invented. In the end though both franchises are still great and it's up for the fans of both of the franchise to decide.
Until next time, this is the Illusive One saying I prefer my drinks stirred. SUCK IT BOND! Ah ha ha ha ha!