Yes, while there are some obvious influences on BioWare's Mass Effect series - like Syd Mead and Star Trek - there's one that may have slipped under most people's noses. And it's not hard to see why.
In an interview with Xbox World 360 magazine, Mass Effect 3 art director Derek Watts says that Final Fantasy has been a big inspiration for the series. Not the moppy-haired, giant sword kind of Final Fantasy, though. He means the computer-animated 2001 film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The one so many people have tried hard to forget.
And by God, now that he says it, it's so obvious.
"Yeah, you know we actually reference a lot from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. We used a lot of their GUIs and the way they did their ship - that was kind of like in some of the early designs for the Normandy", Watts said.
"Our attack helicopters are loosely based off that movie. There's some great stuff, especially their glowing GUI screens; we used those a lot. I keep a folder of that stuff and I still actually tell the guys 'just go back and look at that. Change it like that!'"
Another simlarity: the "goggle-eyed" design of the mercenary enemies from Mass Effect 2? Looks a lot like the soldier's armour in Spirits Within.
Say what you will about the quality of Spirits Within as a film, I always liked it because it looked gorgeous and had some great design. Now that I've read this, I won't be so afraid to say so at parties. And by parties, I'm lying. I mean on the internet.