For years, BioWare has been turning out some fantastic RPGs and has always been pushing the envelope when it comes to the choices and control you have over the characters in the games. One envelope they push in particular is what they allow for relationships in their games. With their past two major titles, Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2, BioWare has received both praise and disdain for both the inclusion and exclusion of relationship choices in their games when compared to past titles. Dragon Age: Origins proved to let the player take complete control of your character and allowed for multiple love interests with an array of companions. Mass Effect 2, however, seems to have taken a step back from its predecessor, which had a very controversial 'lesbian' scene in the game if you played a female Shepard. The sequel seems to be devoid of any promiscuity between Shepard and anyone of a similar sex, but does allow for some heterosexual love scenes between various characters, depending on your gender.
There's been some backlash on the forums, with players demanding to know why these love interests are missing, and the response of locking threads has made some upset; nevertheless, BioWare has been pretty quiet on information regarding the issue. In a recent interview with Ray Muzyka, one of the BioWare founders, Andrew Smee over at IGN got a bit of a scoop as to reason for Shepard's apparent shyness with the same sex this time around:
"Dragon Age is a first person narrative, where you're taking on an origin and a role, and you are that character at a fundamental level. It's fundamentally about defining your character, including those kinds of concepts. In Mass Effect it's more a third person narrative, where you have a pre-defined character who is who he is, or she is."
"in Mass Effect it's more about Shepard as a defined character with certain approaches and worldviews, and that's just who he or she is. So we constrain the choice set somewhat, but enable more tactical choices and enable a deeper, richer personality, because it's more focused around defining one character, it's not as wide open"
"It's first person versus third person narrative, and the types of choices you get to make within that are related to that, whether you've got a pre-defined character or a wide-open character. Some of our games have been wide open, and some have been more constrained, and we'll probably continue both kinds of character development in the future."
Overall, he's basically saying that it's a difference in storytelling. In your first-person narratives you have complete control over who a character is and what the do, whereas in a third-person game, you are merely helping make decisions for an already defined character. While it is a bit of a cop out of a reason why the love interests aren't included (I'm still included to think that timeline/budget issues where a bigger reason) the conversation itself almost seemed to mirror an age old argument. If first-person is creating a character and third-person is merely control choices, then it comes down to being created that way or choosing to be that way, but that's just me oversimplifying a very bombastic issue, so take it with a large grain of salt.
A big thanks to Randy to bringing this article to our attention, and make sure you check out the rest of the interview with Ray Muzyka over at IGN.
Mass Effect 3 & Beyond [IGN]