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Mass Effect Sends Secret Messages Into Our Brains

mass-effect-illusive-man-indoctrinated

I just love it when outraged people jump to conclusions and find the easiest scapegoat to blame any time a tragedy occurs. When are people going to understand that video games don’t cause people to commit murder?

An elementary school was shot up just the other day on Dec 14th, 2012 in CT. At the time, their top suspect was Ryan Lanza, who they quickly found out was an avid fan of Mass Effect. Well that was all the information they needed. Clearly Mass Effect was to blame for the incident. Within hours, posts of outrage began flooding Bioware’s official Mass Effect fan page on Facebook, calling the game “evil” and demanding it’s banning from the market. One particular comment struck me as funny – “God help protect us from all the evil our society promotes.” I hate seeing God invoked anytime someones personal agenda is threatened.  “God save us from these evil abortion doctors,” “God protect us from all this evil gay marriage.” Why does anyone assume He would pick sides like that? But that’s another matter altogether…

Seriously though, do these people even know what Mass Effect is, aside from being Satan’s blasphemy, wrought by an evil game developer, whose sole purpose is to bring suffering to the world around those who play it? Are they aware that the game is about saving people and protecting the innocent? And an excellent point in fact is that there is a mission where Commander Shephard goes to a biotic training academy – a school – and actually saves the students from a shooting incident very similar to the one we’re talking about.  I’m reminded of when the first Mass Effect was slandered as “pornography” by author, Cooper Lawrence, who had never even played the game.  How can you condemn something when you have barely even passing knowledge of it? Look, I understand that parents are upset and are grasping for something that will help make their world sane again, but try to think rationally. This is how The Holocaust started. Remember? Hitler blamed the Jews, a bunch of people agreed that Jews were bad and then it was all downhill from there. Instead of arbitrarily placing blame on others, why not trying finding out the true cause.

The point is, video games don’t cause people to kill others. Misguided upbringing and emotionally disturbed individuals kill people. I’ve been playing video games literally since I was 2 years old. Many of them quite violent. I have never fired a gun in my entire life, nor do I have any desire to. I haven’t even ever been in a fist fight before. In fact, I would consider myself a pacifist. So if video games make people killers, where’s all my bloodlust? I was brought up in a very nurturing and caring environment and was taught right and wrong from my parents. And that’s where the problem lies. When a tragedy like this occurs, we should be looking to the people surrounding the individual as the cause.

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut

 

By now, if you play Mass Effect, you know about the extended cut and have seen at least one of the new endings. Nearly the entirety of the gaming community was disaffected by the ending to Mass Effect 3. Pretty much every blog, website, reviewer, or anyone with a keyboard or camera hopped on the “hate Mass Effect because the ending sucked” bandwagon. I can’t say that I’m displeased with the extra content, but I’m probably the only person that feels it wasn’t necessary. The general consensus is that everyone’s happy now because we have closure. But did we need closure? Granted most of us were in a six year relationship with Mass Effect, but we’re not sobbing high school girls who need it spelled out for us that it’s over, or unsatisfied, middle-aged, romance novel reading housewives, that just NEED to know what happens to the protagonist and their love interest. Or at least I’m not. These are the only two acceptable situations where I will allow a desire for closure. Closure is easy, closure is pretty, closure plays to our base emotions, but it’s not necessary for a good story. I think that’s the easy way to tell a story; wrapping it up in a nice and neat package topped with a little bow. Which is fine if we were reading a teenage middle-schooler’s book. But an adult story like this does not need a happy ending.

The Empire Strikes Back ends with tons of questions left unanswered. The rebellion is put to rout, Han is frozen in carbonite and taken off by Boba Fett,, and Luke has his hand cut off by the most evil man in the galaxy who then tells him that he’s his father! Then it just ends. Also, let’s take the first two Alien movies. Ripley has just barely gotten away with her life, but there’s no time for catharsis. They don’t show her landing safely back in civilization, reuniting with her family. Just back into stasis, best of luck to you, Ripley. Then it ends. That didn’t make these endings terrible. That being said, I would like to take this moment to note that I realize I’m comparing a video game to movies, but there are no other sci-fi video games out there that have attained the scope of storytelling that Mass Effect has, so I reached towards it’s closest relatives.
My only real complaint about the ending of ME3 was the complete lack of defiance Shepard had. After you’re done listening to all the crap Ghost Kid has to tell you, you’re just like, “Ok. Sure. Whatever you say.” That’s not the way I play. That’s not how my Shepard would react. My Shepard would never blithely accept someone else’s arbitration. Even if I was never able to change the choices given to me at the end, I still would have been satisfied with one more act of defiance. After going through all the dialogue the first time, I shouted at my TV, “F— you and your choices!” And now you can. Without giving too much away incase you haven’t done the new endings yet, they did add in a “middle finger” ending.

I haven’t started any new games since my last run through, so I had a restart mission checkpoint right before beaming up to the citadel, which meant I could quickly just run through each ending. Otherwise the closest area where you can save still has a pantload of fighting before reaching the citadel. Skipping the dialogue during these scenes isn’t allowed, which is kind of annoying if you just want to view all the endings. I suppose that does force you to invest yourself in what’s going on though, giving you a more emotional reaction. I’m sure this was intentional on Bioware’s behalf, since the whole point of the extended cut was to give people the cathartic release they requested for their Shepard. I’ll admit, I liked seeing what becomes of Wrex (if he’s alive). and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little interested in what Tali (my love interest) does after my death. It’s nice to see these things, but still not necessary. When we’re left with these emotional holes like this at the end of a story, it allows us to intellectually fill them ourselves, and thus take more active participation in crafting our own story, which is really what Bioware’s game have always been about. I suppose it’s a trade off. We’re happy and satisfied when we’re given this information, but we’re robbed of our ability to wonder.

Now I’m not saying that anyone who wanted more closure for their ending was wrong, I’m just defending my opinion for why I didn’t think the original ending sucked. The three original endings have all been extended and have a much stronger emotional punch, which I guess is what people wanted. There are slight variations between them, but ultimately each one wraps up all your accomplishments the same. Like I said before – pretty little bow. I do think one thing is for certain though, the new endings offer more of a finality for Shepard’s story. If there is going to be another Mass Effect game, it would more than likely have to be a prequel.

 

Playing Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 is out. No time for any nonsense this week. Consider this a status update for the indeterminable future.

 

Star Wars: The Old Republic for MAC!

Well not really for MAC, but running on one. I’m making this post because WoW runs on PC and MAC and it’s about time the king of MMOs gets dethroned. But to do that, Star Wars: The Old Republic needs to be accessible to those who don’t have PCs. Clearly a superior game, many people want to give up WoW for SWTOR and they have asked if SWTOR will run on a MAC and were obviously disappointed to hear it’s PC only.

There’s a simple solution to this: INSTALL WINDOWS ON YOUR MAC. Ok sure, that sounds easy enough, and it is! The only real issue is getting a copy of Windows 7, which can turn SWTOR into quite an expensive game. But it’s worth it.

Just use the Boot Camp Assistant. Find that using the FINDER utility and type in boot camp. It will ask you to partition your hard drive and install a copy of windows. The step by step instructions are pretty self explanatory and I’m not going to be the one to hold your hand through it. But if you still need a more in depth explanation, go to my friend’s guide on installing Windows on a MAC HERE

This is windows 7 being installed onto a mac book pro

This is SWTOR running on a mac book pro

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’m not going to talk about this game at all. You can read all about it anywhere else. Besides, you either hate MMOs and don’t care, or you’re already playing the game.

What I will say is that this is what’s been occupying my time lately.

Come join me if you will.

Guild – The Forgotten

Server- Darth Malak

Character – Khambhat, Sith Warrior – send me a tell in game

Found this going on in a cantina on Hutta. Anyone familiar with A Night at the Roxbury?

I WISH I HAD KNOWN ABOUT THIS! I totally would have brought my own lightsaber!

E3 Cont.

Issue #0.5mmmm....breakfast!My main source of nutrition for the three day period consisted primarily of nachos and energy drinks; the real gamers diet.

Top 5 Games of E3

1) Warhammer 40k: Space Marine. A rampage through the enemies of mankind. One of my favorite aspects of this game was the seamless transition between ranged and melee combat. That and it’s over the top, gore infused, non-stop action. They were handing out scratch off cards to people waiting in line for a chance to win t-shirts or a real life sized chainsword. Sadly, I won neither.

2) Duke Nukem Forever. This game is going to get bashed in reviews across the board, I just know it. But you kind of have to go into playing this game with that mindset. It’s a completely balls out FPS with corny, outdated humor, but I knew that already and that’s exactly what I wanted. Is it as good as Gears of War, Bulletstorm, or even Quake 4? Not really, but that’s ok. If you crossed together maybe Bullstorm and Eat Lead, I guess that’s kind of what Duke Nukem forever is like. And as long as you go into it knowing this, you might enjoy yourself.  It’s kind of like those hot dog carts in the city. The food’s great, but you know it’s not gourmet. Anyway, the line to play this was a bit longer than expected, especially since the game was coming out a week later anyway. Once at the front of the line, they put you into this room filled with Duke iconography, give you a beer or red bull inside a nifty little Duke Nukem cup cooler, and set you down to play multiplayer. I played a session of Capture the Babe; an interesting spoof of the capture the flag classic where you have to return the enemies babe to your base and you even get to spank her if she gets unruly.

3) Trenched. This was a fun spin on the tower defense formula.  Instead of just blithely placing towers and watching them take down the endless onslaught of mindless invaders from an overhead perspective, you are actively engaged in eliminating your enemies from a third person shooter view. You pilot one of three mechs: light, medium, and heavy, with light being fastest with least firepower but with the best towers and heavy with most firepower but weakest towers.  Towers remain common to the genre however, with anti-air, ground, air/ground, etc.  Coming out this summer for XBLA and it will support online multiplayer.

4) Street Fighter X Tekken. I didn’t get to play this nearly as much as I wanted to. There was constantly a large crowd surrounding the booth, much akin to the crowds surrounding the Street Fighter II cabinets from the days of yore when arcades ruled our collective video game consciousness. For those who were able to beat 3 opponents in a row, Capcom was handing out character themed bobble heads. I lost. It was a noble defeat however. The opponent who felled me had his difficulty setting at just about my level. Neither were able to land a finishing blow, instead all of our rounds ended in a time out. So I can at least walk away knowing I had a good match. The game plays mostly like Street Fighter IV but with a little MVC and Tekken Tag thrown in there.

5)Star Wars: The Old Republic. OMG! YES PLEASE! I didn’t get a chance to play this, though believe me, I wanted to. This had one of the longest lines at E3 and I really just didn’t have time to wait on another 2+ hour line. I did get to watch it a great deal though. This booth was adjacent to the Space Marine drop pod, so I got to watch an hour of so of other people playing it on several oversized displays. Looks very good, as any game made by Bioware is bound to be. It has their proprietary dialogue system, which should lend a great deal of narrative to this MMO, something that the genre sorely lacks. No official release date yet, but Mass Effect 3 has been pushed back to March so hopefully that means we’ll see a release sometime this year. *crosses fingers*

A few other interesting tidbits:

There was a bouncy castle tucked away behind all the main booths! Yay for analog entertainment!

They had a full retro video game history museum set up, complete with two dozen or so full arcade cabinets from the 70s – early 90s, all with free play activated! Not a single quarter was wasted this day. Some of my favorites on site were: Punch-Out!!, Raiden II (love me some bullet hell),  and Altered Beast. Shaolin Road was absent unfortunately, and as the self proclaimed master of that game, I would have liked to show off my skills.

I was surprised yet pleased to see so many people working well under the honor system; There was nothing holding the memorabilia down, no cameras, and no one standing guard. Their website is www.vghmuseum.org8 Bit Weapon, a chiptune group, and Descendants of Erdrick, a video game tribute band that includes a flute player, supplied crowds with live music.

A few people in cosplay, but nothing like going to a comic-con. Here we have Renegade Commander Shepherd to the left and Zero Suit Samus on the right.

Lastly and leastly, this is the best Square Enix had to offer. On display were all of the toys and collectables you can get from their web store. Some of you may argue that they were showcasing Final Fantasy XIII-2 but I would have to assume that’s a joke, because no one really cares about the garbage Square Enix produces anymore. Aside from the remake of Final Fantasy IV and the Dragon Quest games on the DS, and those don’t even really count because they’re not technically NEW, Square Enix hasn’t had any good original IPs since PSX.

Anyway, I do have tons more to say about my first ever E3 trip, but what can I say that you haven’t already heard watching G4, or hasn’t already been covered by any of the bigger websites, bloggers, or game mags.

I do appreciate your comments though, so PLEASE feel free to leave one. Don’t forget to read yesterdays post!

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think of the Wii U.

Thanks for reading!

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