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.
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"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.
BioWare: Mass Effect inspired 'a lot' by Final Fantasy film [CVG]