The reviews continue to pour in for BioWare’s latest, and almost all of them heap praise and percentage points upon it. Reviewers seem divided as to whether the endings presented in the game are a high point or a sour note in both the game itself and the series as a whole, but praise much of the rest of the game almost universally.
GameBanshee’s very lengthy — and very detailed — review is probably the best of the bunch, so here’s the opening thereto:
Mass Effect 3 is a game that is desperate to conclude itself spectacularly. From its opening attempts at tugging on heartstrings to its closing moments reveling in galactic spectacle, it brings the Mass Effect universe’s characters, creatures and locations into scenarios which are committed to bringing them to their limits. Familiar companions and old enemies are tested in fire and pushed to their limits, and the tale is dramatic to the point of self-indulgence.
BioWare were clearly working on all cylinders to provide fans of the series with a game that sees the concepts and universe fully realized in a way the first two Mass Effect games could never hope to match, all while fine-tuning the tried-and-true cover-based shooting action. However, the narrative side of the game simply cannot manage to live up to the expectations of both a series finale, much less the previous two titles. The end result is a game that is nearly ceremonial in its pomp and excess, and which plays faster and smoother than any previous BioWare title, but one that is also clumsy and strained, both on design and technical fronts.
Go and read the rest. It’s the second link, above.
Jarring shift of topic, I know.
The Legacy system has been hailed as a major feature of The Old Republic since before the game’s launch, it was the highlight of the TOR Guild summit last week, and now we’ve finally gotten to play with it ourselves. Here’s a quick run-down of what we learned about how it works and the amazing things it lets you do.
As you probably know by now, the premise of the Legacy system is that as you complete major milestones on your characters in The Old Republic, you’ll unlock new skills, emotes, or stat boosts that are made available to all of your characters on that same server. You’ll also be able to purchase most of these perks with in-game money if you’re not up for rolling multiple characters.
After reading the article, I’m…less sold on the idea. I like the concept of having multiple characters on a server (“alts”, in the popular parlance) all being related as if they were family, and all contributing incremental amounts of XP toward a common pool that can unlock perks and whatnot. I’m…less thrilled about said perks being new emotes, or hugely expensive (in in-game credits, mind you) character race unlocks.
So as you may have heard by now, the ending(s) to Mass Effect 3 have generated a lot of controversy.
No, really. Fans even started a “protest donation drive” for Child’s Play, called “Retake Mass Effect“, that raised over $30,000 in a day.
Oh, that ending. That ending.
The fact that files for the Day 1 From Ashes DLC were found on vanilla game discs certainly didn’t help matters, either.
Neither did this “missing items” issue in the game’s multiplayer side.
Not surprisingly, BioWare has been urging common sense and pushing the defence against all this.
First, a note on the From Ashes discovery:
Since then Mass Effect 3 has been released worldwide, giving PC gamers the chance to dive into Mass Effect 3′s files. Some players found evidence of voice files, animations and character models for the From Ashes companion character on the Mass Effect 3 disk, leading many to believe that, contrary to Bioware’s statement, the DLC had been developed alongside the main game.
Gamble took to Twitter to explain the files. “Because the plot of ME3 is so richly interwoven with the character interactions and moments, you simply cannot use a DLC module to ‘insert’ a new character,” he said. “As we’ve mentioned before, that character has to be planned and the framework has to be established ahead of time for us to build off of with the DLC module.”
He also mentions that elements like the character selection screen can’t be overwritten with DLC, so spaces had to be left for the DLC character from the start. “certain elements of the Javik appearance and some of the VO needed to be included on the disc. That is a fact,” he admitted. “But that doesn’t mean the content was created, and then removed. It is a necessity of adding a rich character presence in our game.”
Although, if some of the leaked plot documents from late last year tell the truth, Javik was at one point supposed to appear as part of the main game, albeit in a rather different role. That’s not proof that BioWare is pulling the wool over our eyes, however. It’s simply proof that the character is one they’d had in mind for a while, and were casting about trying to figure out what to do with.
As to the ending:
…[Mass Effect producer/director Casey] Hudson said he likes its mystery and interpretation possibilities, and having a reactive ending is better than one that falls flat and fades out. “I didn’t want the game to be forgettable, and even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people — debating what the endings mean and what’s going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in — that to me is part of what’s exciting about this story.”
“Any publicity is good publicity”, then.
I’ve still not finished the game, though I am aware of its ending(s)…or rather, its one ending and the various minor differentiations that emerge as a result of a handful of factors, not all of which are within your direct control as the player. If you want to know what I mean, IGN has the details. It should be obvious that a spoiler warning applies to that link.
The problem, as I see it, is that this much-discussed ending is much-discussed in no small part because it does kind of fall flat, and upends much of what had previously defined Mass Effect as a series.
I remember joking with Sergorn Dragon about Call of Mass Effect about a year ago. It’s frightening to think how close to the mark that joke actually was.
Fortunately, BioWare canned the FPS idea and instead rolled that branch of development back into Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer element. Which I guess is better.
PC Gamer tried to install Mass Effect 2 recently:
On Friday night, I suddenly, desperately wanted to play Mass Effect 2. I’d procrastinated all the way up to the release of Mass Effect 3, and finally snapped out of whatever was holding me back. No problem: digital distribution makes the PC the best-suited platform to satiate sudden cravings. ME2 is on Steam, but since ME3 is exclusively on Origin, I figured I’d buy it there so the two games could snuggle up together in my library. That arbitrary decision was a huge mistake.
In Steam, when a game finishes downloading, it’s ready to play (unless any prerequisites need installing, but that’s generally painless). I assumed Origin would work the same, and the service’s FAQ claims it does: “Installations are easy, as Origin technology enables instant play after a successful download.” But when Mass Effect 2 was finally on my hard drive, the download button turned into an install button. No big deal…until I clicked on it.
Not only did I have the Hungarian version of the installer, but it was encountering an error which I couldn’t read. That’s pretty damn absurd, but I wasn’t going to give up so easily. I really wanted to play Mass Effect 2, and hey, I’m a resourceful PC gamer! I can fix a simple localization mix-up! So I poked around in the installer’s directory and discovered the installation configuration ini. A simple change to the file name loaded the installer in English. Easy. Now what was that error?
What was that error? Click through to find out. It’s…amusing, to say the least.