Following news that frustrated (or maybe just anti-BioWare) Mass Effect 3 gamers bombarded the user review section of Metacritic - effectively dropping the user scores for the game to abysmal 2.5 (PC), 4.7 (Xbox 360), and 3.2 (PS3), respectively - we're now getting word of another controversy that's brewing.
According to reports, Mass Effect 3 "fans" are outraged at a particular in-game image that's used in conjunction with fan-favorite character, and love interest, Tali'Zorah nar Rayya (aka Tali).
NOTE: It goes without saying that the rest of this post will contain what could be considered SPOILERS for Tali'Zorah in Mass Effect 3 (including an in-game image). As a result, if you're trying to avoid Mass Effect 3 spoilers altogether - or, at least, spoilers pertaining to the fan-favorite quarian - come back after you've completed the main game.
Begin (mild) Tali SPOILERS for Mass Effect 3
Kotaku was the first outlet to catch wind of the brewing controversy - as several readers sent in comparison images of an in-game shot of Tali unmasked. Most Mass Effect faithfuls will recall that the quarian warrior has been hidden behind a mask for the prior two installments in the series - and, despite a brief off-screen unmasking in Mass Effect 2, the character's face has never been revealed... until now.
However, the reveal (depicted as a static photo of the character in Shepard's quarters) has come under heavy-fire from gamers - since, instead of auditioning models for a unique image, the Tali photograph is actually just an imported "stock" shot from Getty Images (from photographer Matthew Leete) with a few minor tweaks to make "Tali" appear less "human."
You can check out the comparison screen grab below:
While the amount of hatred that's bubbling up with regard to BioWare's handling of Tali's unmasking might be a bit of an over-reaction (given the overall quality of the game itself), it's certainly a strange move for the developer - especially after they hired loads of well-known and lesser-known performers for Mass Effect 3 service. As a result, it's easy to understand why some Tali-lovers might feel cheated.
That said, we are talking about a static image that's just sitting on a desk in Shepard's quarters - and it's unlikely that BioWare expected fans to get this worked up. As least someone took the time to search the internet for pictures of pretty girls - instead of just copying/pasting an in-costume capture of Tali into the picture frame.
Either way, despite mostly positive responses from the critical community and gamers alike, the photo controversy will no doubt unite angry Tali fans with frustrated gamers that have been affected by the recent save data import problems.
Mass Effect 3 is out now for the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.