I always found that the eyes are always the most effective means in which artists project the thoughts and feelings of their characters. They can show fear, anger, excitement etc far more effectively than any other aspect of their features.
When you remove that inlet- you can effectively dehumanise them or simply through a veil of shadows over their thoughts, their history and their intentions towards you.
You can download 30 day trials of most of the big packages like XSI, and Maya. (I think you can with MAX too.) If your willing to spend a bit of money, $100, you can get Silo from Nevercenter. [link] I really like their app and recommend it highly. Otherwise you can try free stuff like Blender.
This is incredible. Your attention to detail (with the textures and the lighting) give it such a smooth quality that I almost thought it was an extremely well-done digital painting. But wow, 3D at its best, I must say.