Mass Effect fans divided over Liara figurine

Fans of BioWare's award-winning space opera series Mass Effect are divided over a planned figurine of one of the games' primary characters, following the company's decision to inject a bit of sex into the model.

In the Mass Effect universe, Dr. Liara T'Soni is a researcher who has spent half of her life investigating a disappeared race of hyper-intelligent beings known as the 'Protheans.' Although she's a member of the Asari - a race of monogendered aliens who just happen to look like sexy blue bisexual space babes - she's a professional, and keeps her costumes functional.

That's not the case with a proposed 'bushoujo' statue of Liara created by Japanese design house Kotabukiya. Gone is the practical and hard-wearing uniform, replaced by a low-cut top that barely conceals the 'new' Liara's apparently enhanced assets. Since the events of Mass Effect 2, it seems, the scientist has taken time out for a little surgical enhancement - and by 'little,' we mean 'massive.'

For comparison, here's Liara's in-game appearance, alongside a more revealing shot from the tie-in comic book series:

While much of the commentary from fans focuses on the figure's ample assets, others have deigned to look up at a face which - they quite rightly point out - bears little resemblance to Liara's in-game character model. In an effort to make the figure appeal more to the sort of person who collects anime memorabilia in the form of barely-dressed schoolgirls, Kotobukiya appears to have swapped the facial features gamers know and love out for those of a twelve year old.

"Let us know what you think of Kotobukiya's Bushoujo statue of Liara," BioWare posted on its Facebook page - and fans certainly did. Despite receiving over 3,000 'Likes,' the feedback has been extremely mixed, with many fans writing scathing comments regarding BioWare's direction for the tie-in patnership.

"I thought we were trying to step away from sexism," wrote one fan, apparently ignoring the fact that the Mass Effect universe is home to a race which prides itself on its all-encompassing sexuality and appears to be made up entirely of thin, lithe, adequately-endowed women.

"Obviously the message is that when Liara isn't at a dig site, [plot spoiler redacted] or saving the galaxy she's doing soft core porn," another fan joked.

"This is disgusting and so demeaning, bad form BioWare," complained another. "Stick to your own style and stop mimicking anime - not everyone wants a sexualised hentai figurine on their mantelpiece. Epic fail."

Other comments were more forgiving, with fans proclaiming their love for the redesigned boobalicious Liara in a variety of textual cat-calls and drooling praise. So far, however, the negative votes appear to outweigh the positives.

Sadly for fans, the project appears to have gone too far to cancel: the pictured figurine looks near-complete, and while BioWare claims that "your feedback will help shape this beautiful prototype," its comment that a pre-order announcement is near suggests that it won't be going back to the drawing board any time soon.

You can add your own voice to the debate over on BioWare's Facebook page.