Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Postcard from Illium

If you think you're sick of these Mass Effect related posts, imagine how I feel. Researching a game is a pretty emotionally draining, time-intensive task. Those book-based reader researchers have it easy.
All right. Here's the sound clips played as you pass from one area of Nos Astra (the capital of the asari world Illium) to another:
-Coming up later today, we release our annual list of Illium’s ten richest people. Are the heavens still bright Asari blue, or have the volus finally rolled to the top? And don’t miss our look at the fashion faux pas at the Commerce Awards held last week. All this and more on Financial Entertainment Daily.
-Illium Entertainment would like to respond to complaints about our upcoming film Blastos the Jellyfish Stings. The Hanar Defamation Association claims that our portrayal of Blasto in sults hanar society, going so far as to call it ‘exploitation.’ We at Illium Entertainment stand by our product, which puts a hanar in a lead role and notes the growing importance of these respected galactic citizens. We hope that you the viewer will decide whether we have done Blastos justice and to allow you to decide, all first day purchases are 30% off. Illium entertainment thanks you for your support.
-Tired of training employees only to lose them to your competitors? Perhaps Indenture-Tech can help. The leading provider of cutting-edge indentured servants, Indenture-Tech can provide high quality labor for any technical area. Contact Indenture-Tech today. You’ve been a slave to your employees for too long. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
-Another difficult development for human expansion as the colony Horizon has been attacked. The Council has pledged to investigate the matter thoroughly, possible indication of the attacks on humans galaxy wide. Investigators in prefabricated complexes are rejoicing, however, as the and rebuilding plans have industry wide.
-The Council thought that Blasto , the first hanar spectre, would play by the rules. This one has forgotten whether its heat sink is over capacity. It wonders whether the criminal scum considers itself fortunate. They were wrong. This one doesn’t have time for your solid waste excretions. He’s got a lover in every port and a gun in every tentacle. Enkindle this. Blasto the Jellyfish Stings available for net purchase this fall, from Illium entertainment.
-By the stars, your skin looks amazing. You’re not using biotics to touch things up, are you?
Actually, I just tried exoderm.
New Exoderm moisturizerizing cleanser. They’ll never know you’ve entered the matron stage.
-Bad luck on the stock market? Debt piling up? Perhaps you need to explore other options. Talk to Indenture-Tech to see if indentured servitude is the right career option for you. Remember, the only shame is enjoying nothing.
-This is a recall notice. All users of Corous-brand medical radiation systems are asked to discontinue treatment immediately. Please return your system to an authorized dealer for a refund. Or for credit, try the new exciting Corel-brand radiation personal defense weapon. Customer safety is important and Corous remains committed to supplying the best radiation-based solutions on the market. Corus: a division of Elcoss Combine.
-Antares System has been deeply embarrassed by the recent theft of a new omnigel synthesis prototype. Antares System closed down four points as a result of the theft.
-Illium is the gateway to the Traverse, but is that gateway open too wide? Investment think tanks are noting concerns that new technological discoveries may have set the market balance and cost skilled workers their jobs. Later today, we’ll talk to survey teams discussing the latest technology you won’t be able to live without. And, how much it will cost.
-Nos Astra has recently received an unexpected visitor in the form of a rare justicar, calling herself Samara. Samara denied our request for an interview, leading us in the dark as to what brought an adjusticar to the fringes of asari space. Nevertheless, Illium News is pleased to present a special report on the history and politics of this rare group.
-(male voice, deep) Hungry? Then come to the Fish Dog Food Factory. Tasty varren skewers are just five credits for a limited time only. Or, for the connoisseur, try our grade a tchonka raised steaks. Turian and quarian food options are also available. It’s fun for the whole family. Come to the Fish Dog Food Factory. (different voice, nasal female) A division of Elcoss Combine.
-Are you a quarian or a volus who is tired of being passed over promotions because of discrimination against exo-suit wearing employees? Genetic Paradigms invites you to consider adaptive genetic therapy. Our trained staff h a success rate approaching 40%. Come to Genetic Paradigms, and come out of your shell! A division of Elcoss Combine.
-Does living in a higher altitude make you more intelligent? Our report may surprise you. New studies commissioned by the Architectural Union has noted a correlation between tested intelligence and height of habitat. The news comes as new homes ranging from studio apartments to studious rooftop mansions enter into open market bidding.
-Bad luck on the stock market? Debt piling up? Perhaps you need to explore other options. (male voice) Indenture-tech paid off my debt and helped me gain valuable job skills. Now, just five years later, I’m a free man again. (original female voice) Talk to Indenture-Tech to see if indentured servitude is the right career option for you. Remember, the only shame is enjoying nothing.

It's clearly different from the previous set. Most of that difference is a matter of context; the previous messages all came from Omega, a hollowed out asteroid with a civilization based around pirates and lowlife types, whereas Illium is a corporate capital of a civilization, based around slave trade and high-level lowlife corporate types. See the difference? So you get more commercials about indentured slavery and commercial products, and fewer about racial genocide on the cheap. Illium is supposed to represent a place where capitalism has run amok to a certain degree. I'm not sure then, whether the similarity of its commercials to our own is supposed to suggest that our own society is similarly bloated, or whether it was just quicker to design ads that appear like ours, but are slightly more overblown so you can call it satire--I suspect it's the latter. It's from the "Grand Theft Auto" school of in-game advertisement writing.

Honestly, there's probably more personality in the Illium sections than anywhere else in the game. You've got miniquests of recovering salarian genetic information, helping an indentured quarian find an owner, and reconciling a racist asari to the truth. And the details similar to the commercials are everywhere from the hilarious (the human/turian/salarian bachelor party) to the touching (the salarian out to create some memories with his asari daughter, because he knows that given his short lifespan and her long one, he won't be around long enough to make much difference in her life. Awwww.) Why Bioware wants to move away from this to more shooty stuff, I don't know. But at least that makes my job easier--not a lot of ethical morality choices in the middle of a shooting fight. Well, not that you can't have those, it's just that Bioware, by and large, doesn't.

I'm losing coherence. Better get back to work.

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