Mass Effect 3: Color Me Blue

The mass effect one game has had on most headlines is profound, Mass Effect is epic but the reason the spotlight shines down on it is unjustified. As a fan who has invested countless hours into more than eight play-throughs of Mass Effect 2 and working on my third run on Mass Effect 3, I believe I have as much of a say as those who think their entitled to … demand for a change to the ending. I’ve read some of the comics and looked up the rest through the internet, I’ve read the synopsis of the novels and I’ve read the wiki’s of every race, character and event you can think of. Does this give me entitlement over the ending of the series?

The answer is no, as a writer there is one thing I can say without a doubt: A writer writes a story he or she is interested in hearing. They craft a world which is theirs and theirs alone, no one holds any say, what-so-ever, over the events that happen within that world. The fact that BioWare gave choice to the player and carried it across three games to impact the universe in so many different ways is amazing, to say the least. To say your actions throughout the three games have no impact is a blatant lie, if you can’t see how you shaped the universe than you sir. are blind. Throughout the three games you’re crafting the future of the universe within some ones epic space journey.

Allow me to take a step back and sum up my thoughts of the game as a whole, as a fan, a gamer and as a writer.

Game-play: By far the best in the series, I never had the chance to play the first game (lack of a 360 still prevents me from doing so, try not to hold it against me) but from what I’ve heard it isn’t great. The shooting has improved, the only way I can think to describe it is: Uncharted Drake’s Fortune = Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2 Among Thieves = Mass Effect 3. It feels fluid and smooth well each gun has its own feel, recoil and weight to it. Mods will help each player craft their very own play style, do you want more ammo or more damage? I'm not a fan of the bar-graph showing each guns attributes but it gets the job done. You’re abilities allow for six ranks of powerhouse awesomeness, the last three ranks allow you to customize them according to your play style. Are you going for pure power or biotic combos?

The combat is fast and fluid which complements your play style, are you a one gun fast tooting biotic powerhouse or a soldier through and through. You can lug every gun on your back or simply pack one for back up to your powers. Weight was a great addition, adding in just another level of RPG to the guns vs. powers play style. I honestly felt Mass Effect 2 was tailored to soldier class, I cruised through my insanity run without a bead of sweat. My adept’s biotics were simply to slow which had me relying heavily on my SMG and handgun (I hate SMG’s, handguns are fine but not something you want to take waves of enemies on with). My adept Shepard in Mass Effect 3 is tearing through enemies left and right, my soldier (which was my first play-through) struggled on normal to make it to the end of the game. Put it this way, I haven’t fired a shot and I have a Mattock with +200% weight.

I was disappointed to see a lack of dialogue cutscenes, more often it was simply a character talking well I still had control of Shepard. Sometimes I would walk away thinking they had nothing interesting to say, other times I simply wish I had a dialogue choice to pick from. All in all, however, I felt the dialogue was amazing. It had its very funny moments well other times nearly had a tear in my eye. Bleeding into the dialogue chatter is my experience with side missions. Walking through the citadel you’ll over hear people talking and suddenly a side mission will pop up as your more than ten feet away from the conversation that gave you the side mission. When you think about it Shepard becomes kind of a stalker, I mean he’s eavesdropping on people’s conversation than once he has said item they were looking for he comes up and says “I heard you were looking for this, here you go.”… Umm that’s not weird at all.

Story: Without spoiling anything for those who still have yet to play it I will dance around the more important plot points so all can read without worry. Firstly I’d like to say to all those upset, shut up! There are people out there without your opinion who have yet to beat the damn game and now your simply ruining the experience for them.

Best in the series is, honestly, a hard statement. From what’ve I’ve read of Mass Effect’s story I know it’s a damn good one. Mass Effect 2 wasn’t so much about the over arching story but your encounters with other characters. Mass Effect 3 is the final stretch, the epic finish, the war. Players will find their choices over the past two games to shape the events that transpire within the war with the Reapers. Shepard still has choices to make, choices that will affect the future of the galaxy. With the end of each act you’ll find a massive choice you’re faced with, whatever you pick will forever shape your universe and determine what happens for the future. One could easily say the end of each act is the end of a story in its self, the choices made are powerful ones indeed.

The war with the Reapers is a hopeless one and we knew that going in, you’re fighting an unstoppable force. A force which has never been taken down since the dawn of time, the conflict is a hopeless effort, and yet Shepard is the image of hope as he just changed the course of history through his actions. Who better to stand behind in your final hours, who better to lead an army against an unstoppable force. The story has always been the Reapers, from the very first steps in Mass Effect the Reapers have been the threat. Players expect closure to this conflict and that’s just what you get, you get all your answers to the Reapers for better or worse. And here is where I think BioWare made a brilliant move. They brought closure to the conflict which started, which birthed this series well at the same time leaving it open to interpretation. The fate of the galaxy rest in your imagination, if you don’t have one I can understand why you’d be upset.

SPOILERS: for those who don’t care or have beaten the game here are my thoughts on the ending. The Reapers god (more than likely every things god) shows up in a child’s form to make Shepard sympathetic and actually listen to what he has to say. He explains how the Reapers are meant to keep all life forms from destroying themselves, a concept we should be pretty familiar with seeing how we’re currently doing it to ourselves (we’ve also seen concept like this in movies such as Terminator, both Tron films… need I go on). It’s explained slightly before this but the power which the crucible wields is far stronger than what a mass relay can even handle… foreshadowing maybe, just maybe (had to throw that in their cause it was a complaint that BioWare never foreshadowed the destruction of the mass relays). The Reaper god than explains how your one weapon (which I’ve always hated the idea of “one weapon” ending a massive conflict) is not really one weapon. It is a weapon meant to turn the mass relays into weapons across the universe (another thing hinted at throughout the story, they mention how the citadel is Reaper technology and so are the mass relays and how the crucible was meant to use the Reapers technology against them). So it boils down to this: control the Reapers, unit all life or destroy all synthetics. I can’t, for the life of me, think of any other choices to put in there. Personal I hate the destroy all synthetic life because the very last cutscene is Shepard’s torn up N7 armor, even with his dog tags, as the image fades he takes a breath. You’re talking about surviving the massive explosion of the citadel… but hey, I do understand people wanna see their Shepard live and it’s made pretty clear your gonna die with the other two endings. So my ending (see what I did there, I don’t like one ending so it’s not my ending, I'm not gonna complain about the ending I don’t like.) is the synthesis one, unit all synthetics by throwing your body-which is both organic and synthetic- into the crucible’s beam creating a blast of energy which surges through the mass relay destroying them. The rest is up to you. END OF SPOILERS

I’ll end with this, love the end or hate it but accept it as the story. Something I’ve never told anyone, I hated Uncharted 2’s ending. My favorite game/series of all time is Uncharted and Uncharted 2 is one of the best games I’ve ever played. My issues steam from the force Drake faces throughout the story, you’re talking about a mere man fighting a military force led by a ruthless beast of a man. So a rag-tag crew of treasure hunters goes after a treasure and so is this war criminal, you’d think people on the good guy’s side would die off left and right. Sure Jeff the camera man dies but let’s be honest, he was a red shirt if there ever was one. Schafer was more of a tear jerker but even he was a red shirt at the end of the day. To have everyone on Drake’s side walk away without a scratch… well I simply would have been happier is Chloe jump in at last minute to stop Zoran from killing Drake in that final battle. She gets shot but it gives Drake time to get the 1up on him. Also having Elena survive the grenade… well I won’t complain because I love Elena. At the end of the day, no one is simply walking away unscathed from a conflict such as that. But that was the Uncharted 2 ending and I accept that and continue to hold onto my love for the series.

I can understand complaining about two small problems near the end of the game but what I don’t understand is calling the whole game shit because you didn’t like one thing about it. I don’t understand not being able to fill in the blanks (talking about when the screen goes black) for yourself, if BioWare flat out told you what happens after those credits roll, will you be anymore happy? Maybe you have a different vision for those characters after the credits than the writers, maybe you want them to go about their life in a different way. I honestly see this as another bandwagon trend, one of the greatest video game stories of all time and one damn good game, it’s popular so let’s hate on it. Let’s pull some BS issues out of our hats to complain about. The degree in which so called “fans” are going to too show their upset is downright nasty and disrespectfully to BioWare to say the least. To start a charity for children is so underhanded it’s not funny, you’re basically saying that if BioWare doesn’t answer this petition their assholes for not supporting Children’s Play. BioWare has every right to end the game how they want, they could have ending it with Shepard and crew in a park eating ice cream for all they want, you have no say over it at all.


Mass Effect 3: Endings to Love

To end a series beloved by millions is bound to upset a few, it’s bound to be talked about through the ages. Story telling is hard enough as it is, in this day and age we’ve heard it all. It’s hard to keep a anyone invested in a interesting story long enough for it to pay off. Mass Effect 3 ends a epic space journey and it’s found the hate bandwagon.

My personal take on Mass Effect 3’s ending without spoiling anything is, it’s an amazing way to end the series. Honestly it’s perfect from a story teller point of view, but that’s me, most will want something similar to an Uncharted ending where the everyone walks away as if nothing really happened. As if all has been set right in the universe. Mass Effect 3 is about fighting a war, its dirty, gritty and death is around every corner. It’s unavoidable, an unstoppable force is on your door step with no hope to defeat it. The reason for the way the ending went was a very smart way to sum up why the story of Mass Effect even happened. It’s a circle of life type of ending with all your questions answered well at the same time leaving enough open so the player can fill in all of what he loves.

I’ve heard people saying some nasty things, asking Bioware to change the ending is ludicrous. You have no right over the story, over what they do with it. A writer tells a story because it’s something he is interested in, it’s by him for him. You’re lucky to be enjoying someone’s fantasy. Having said that, Bioware gave players choice, they gave gamers the will to craft their very own story. Your choices have an impact on the ending of the game whether you know it or not, your universe will not be the same as others. EARLY ON SPOILERS- did you cure the genophage or did you let it continue. This will determine whether or not the Krogan will be a force in the universe again. Depending on who’s leading the Krogan will also depend on what their future is- SPOILERS END. Depending on your choices will determine how many war assets you gain over the course of the game, how many war assets you have will determine one of eight endings. There are sixteen endings in total, eight for saving the collector’s ship and eight for destroying the collector’s ship.

What strikes me about what people are saying is they seem to want a clean, neat ending wrapped in a bow. Consider Mass Effect was real and all of this really happened, would it have ended in a neat little bow? I don’t think so and I give Bioware much respect for doing that, bravo to Bioware for having the balls to end their epic space journey the proper way. Let’s compare to my favorite series of all time for a second.

Uncharted 3, for me is the best in the series and I loved the ending but even with the love I have for the series I’ve always felt each game has wrapped up all to neatly for what just transpired. Consider running around an island filled with pirate with only two friends with you, would you honestly think all three of you are going to walk away without so much as a scratch? Uncharted 2 was even worse, for the epic set pieces and solely the main villain. Zoran Lararevic is a military man, trained to fight wars just as the men he commands. Drake vs. Zoran, who would win? Zoran hands down and yet everyone on Drake’s side walk away unscathed… well all but two and honestly they were simply thrown in there just to die off. Consider getting shot in the side and surviving a train crash than dragging yourself three feet of snow in nothing but a shirt and pants only to fight off waves of military trains soldiers…. Think about that for a second and yet I’ve never heard one person complain about that…

SPOILERS: Mass Effect 3’s ending from my point of view. I knew going into this war with over six thousand in military force and 100% galactic readiness, which by the way the galactic readiness does not impact the ending, it impacts how well your military force fights the reapers. I knew I would lose people, I knew it was not going to be a perfect win with zero losses. One thing I hated from the very beginning of the game was the whole “hey, we just found this ultimate weapon that will kill all reapers in one hit.” In no war, story is that ever really good. Once on the citadel at the very end you discover the reapers are basically gods second son, organics are gods first son and represent chaos well the reapers are gods synthetic second son which represent order. It makes perfect sense, as its weaved through the story all synthetic life will oppose its creators. Geth and Quarian, EDI and Cerberus… etc. Javik even says at one point that “organics created synthetics to be perfect, they will always know organics are not perfect.”

The finale boils down to a choice, destroy all synthetics, unit both synthetics and organics or take control of the reapers. Either way you’re aware this is your end, Shepard is beaten, he is broken, he’s come to find out they’ve been wrong about the reapers the whole time. no matter your choice all mass relays are destroyed and Shepard is killed. The power of your choice flows through the mass relay destroying them to put an end to the reapers, I loved this because it sets the whole universe back a bit, no longer to that have that fast travel as it were. Everyone can still space travel, it’s just a lot harder, it’s a whole new start to the universe. Shepard’s death is perfect, there is no way to do what he did and live through it, the reapers are unstoppable and yet he brings four or five down throughout his journey. No your asking him to bring them all down in one hit, an unstoppable force in one hit. Anyone who crafts a story where someone does something like this and walks away is a fairy tale ending and not nearly as interesting or realistic.

The crew makes a narrow escape to crash land on some strange planet, watching joker and EDI step off the ship both highlighted in green (I choose the unit both synthetics and organics ending) is amazing. Here is the future, joker-a organic- and EDI-a synthetic- together in a universe which both synthetics and organics are one! The credits roll and all I could think was how my crew filled with the universes best are going to go about their as the next leaders of the universe. At this point anyone can think what they want for what happens to your crew but I like to think Garrus becomes a huge figure head for the Turians. Tali finally builds a home on Rannoch as she leads her people in peace living besides the Geth. Liara became a figure head for the Asari well honoring Shepard and never letting him out of her heart. Joker and EDI settle down for a nice quite life somewhere no one will bother them. Javik becomes a member of the citadel council and seeks to bring the Protheans back to the universe. James goes on to be a great N7 soldier well Ash continues her work as a Spectre. And slowly the universe rebuilds all that was lost in the war till finally you have that fairy tale ending.


Mass Effect 3 Review

Crafting a story is hard, Crafting a living breathing world is harder but harder still is to craft a universe. Bioware has not only crafted a living breathing universe but a story open to player choice, it’s more than beautiful or amazing. The final entry to the Mass Effect universe is a master piece of epic proportion, from choices to RPG elements, it gets it right at every turn.

No longer are you a sluggish tank with slight RPG elements and forced shooting. Each gun has its own feel, each gun has its own weight which will determine weather you’re a power wielding biotic or gun tooting commando. Each have their pros and cons, each have their own mods and perks. The combat is fast and furious, filled with strategy you’ll never take out each enemy the same way. Guardians will have you throwing grenades or pulling the shield straight out of his hand.

The blend of action/third person shooter and RPG is perfect, your abilities are leveled up according to you and your play style, even your weapons are modded to your play style. The addition of weight allows you to bring in any weapon you want as any class you want, creating the perfect way to customize your favorite class into a powerhouse. Add in plenty of enemies and ways to kill them and it’s an all out ball.

My love for Mass Effect extends far beyond its gameplay. The story, races and characters inhabiting this universe are some of the best ever written. The story is epic and to see all the choices and things you’ve done come back in a big way is the most rewarding feeling I’ve ever had playing a video game (and I played and platinumed both Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls). Seeing what happens with the choices you make has me wanted to start up another file on Mass Effect 2 just so I can see every possible branch within the story (and I already have 3 files on Mass Effect 2).

I honestly hate hearing people, Bioware included, saying this is a great time to jump into the universe. It’s not, don’t be fooled, go pick up the first two games (unless you have a PS3 which the comic will do, sure it’s not nearly as great as the first game but its worth it). If you jump into 3 without knowing anything about this universe than you wont have a clue as to what is happening.

The story is the best part of this game, your jaw will be nailed to the floor as your sucked into the universe. I honestly felt like I was Shepard, like I was making these choices and impacting all these lives. To know what’s at stake and who is depending on you, it puts a fear within each choice. You simply don’t say “well I’ll go this way.” You think to yourself, what would I do and is it the right action to take. How will it affect everyone, will it save lives?

Story, gameplay and writing are as close to perfect as you will get. The story will have you wanting to play this every waking moment of every day, even after you beat it. The gameplay is fast and fluid, fun and exciting... it doesn't get better than that. The writing is Bioware's best, its funny, dramatic, serious and heart breaking with each moment you get to see all your choices impact every step Shepard takes. Its hard not to laugh at some very funny moments than think about what's going on in the universe and feel sad, moments later you'll be on a mission making a difference in the universe and feeling good again. Its the best kind of roller coaster ride. I don't like rating games because I don't believe in it but I would easily give this a 5 out of 5, masterpiece.

For the trolls out there, the ending is a perfect way to bring the series to a close. It’s a perfect ending, especially considering you craft the ending you want. I don’t get how anyone can have the nerve to call it a bad ending and demand Bioware change. Anyone who says such a thing, I only have one question for you, can you do better?


The Golden Age

The golden age of gaming is upon us and honestly coming to a close, so what’s next? This has been on my mind for sometime, gaming had its start which led into the bronze age than silver and now gold. We’ve hit the peek with what games can do, sure things will always improve-we hope-but not by leaps and bounds. I have a few predictions that keep getting more and more light shed on them as the future approaches.

PS3 to win the next console war, now hear me out cause this is not some bias fanboy talking here. 360 killed it this gen with good reason-despite having all but one good game this year-Microsoft brought online gaming its peak. Microsoft knows what people want, knows how to advertise and knows how to price to suck every last penny out of you without leaving you feeling like you just got ripped off. Sony couldn’t do this to save its life, Sony is about providing a great gaming experience no matter the cost and boy did it cost them.

Despite all of Sony’s mistakes this gen they do learn and I'm confident they will do right this coming gen. Sony will come out with a great price point as well as tooting better online capabilities still for free, a new tag system with better avatars and ways to view trophies. Cross game voice chat will happen for sure and I'm confident they won’t be looking to piss off the hackers again. Microsoft is already looking to set up its down fall, specs for their latest console have been steadily leaking to the press. With what I'm hearing so far all I can see is its going to be a more expensive 360 and let’s not forget the console will be spitting out used games. That’s their real down fall, as much as I hate what used games do to the industry they are still a big part in everyone getting to play the games they love. College kids gravitated towards the 360 because it was cheap and had the online system in place so they could play games with their childhood friend who is across the map now. Cheap is what used games are, by forcing kids to pay for a more expensive console, online support and new games is like slapping its customers in the face. Everyone who bought a 360 for the reasons stated above will look at this 720 to be a slap in the face, especially when the PS4 will be promoting a price point either the same or lower than the 720. PS4 will also have free online support which will gain more users as well as still supporting used games, online passes will still be here but when it comes down to it $10 bucks to play online for a few months isn’t a big deal.

The fight against used games continues. Both Sony and Microsoft will continue their effort to end the used game market, Nintendo might even jump in with the online supported Wii U. We’ve all heard the stories of how used games hurt the developers, I for one am all for buying my games new. I love the online pass for one reason, it’s the perfect way to get more people to buy new games but it will not end used games. Ending used games would be a very bad idea, some people don’t want to spend a full $60 on a game that will only last them five hours. Some might rent which I'm fine with, some might even borrow from a friend. Pay $20 for a used game with a five hour story and maybe sink a good fifty to sixty hours online for an extra $10, a total of $30 which is half of what the game cost, worth it. Not worth it, spending $60 on a five hour game and sinking twenty to thirty hours online-that is if the game has online.

Where is the balance, my last little rant. With used games hurting developers and games costing so much to make now-a-days where is the balance in it all. The industry needs to realize what's worth a $60 price tag and what's worth a $40 or $20 price tag. My favorite game of all time is Uncharted 3 but honestly it’s not worth $60 unless you love it as much as me or play it online for more than fifty hours. I’d say Uncharted 3 is worth $40 well something like Skyrim would be worth a full $60. At the same time the price tag isn’t about how long the game last but how much money was sank into making it, somehow we came to the $60 price tag and never looked back even as gamers complained.

From my standing, Vita might be doing it right which saddens me because it’s not selling well. Just to pull some prices, Uncharted: Golden Abyss= $50, Little Big Planet= $40, Little Deviants= $30. Most Vita games are popping up with a $40 price tag but there are still those that know their place at $30 and $20. We need to find that balance before the game industry falls into a pit and never recovers, but that’s not to say it will happen tomorrow. This pit could take till three generations down the road to dig but with the way things are going I can see it pretty clearly, but then again I truly don’t know what tomorrow will bring so this is merely speculation.

Take this all with a grain of salt and let me know your thoughts on the future of gaming, do you agree or maybe see somethings a bit differently? Or maybe you see things all together in a different light.