Weekly Roundup 03/18/2012

This week was once again all about Mass Effect 3, despite the fact that I finished the game early in the week. Not much has changed since I wrote about it last week; it’s still a hell of a game, and one I had a blast playing. I don’t like it quite as much as I like Mass Effect 2 (which will probably go down as my favorite game this entire generation), but it still has so many awesome moments, and only reinforces the notion that the Mass Effect universe is very likely my favorite fictional universe out there, regardless of medium. That’s a big part of what makes this series so great to me, and ME3 doesn’t buck the trend.

Being able to interact in the Mass Effect fiction is what sets it apart from other games.

Past that, I’m a little unsure of what there is left to say about ME3; it really is just a case of “ME3 does more of what made ME2 so amazing”. The writing, the universe, the characters, the decisions you make and the way they affect the story; it’s all heads and shoulders above anything else out there right now when it comes to realizing the potential of interactive storytelling in video games. The one extra thing ME3 has going for fans is that you get to see/choose how all of the series’ major plot threads wrap up. Big conflicts like the genophage and the Quarians vs the Geth obtain resolutions, and most of them are superb. In fact, wrapping up all those threads is the driving force behind the entire game, which is amusingly its biggest strength and biggest weakness in relation to ME2. I feel like BioWare is at their best when introducing new characters and stories, rather than wrapping them up. ME2 was all about introducing a large cast of lovable characters, where ME3 is all about giving them their proper sendoffs. You can’t have one without the other, but that BioWare is noticeably better at one of them (in my opinion) simply makes one a better game. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

I guess I should at least mention the game’s ultimate sendoff, the oh so controversial ending. Put bluntly, I didn’t mind the ending much at all. In fact, I kind of liked it. I agree that there could have been a little more room for your choices to make an impact in the closing moments, but even that’s not a huge deal; in a sense I consider the entire game to be the ending. When you combine all the choices you make across the game, the state of each players' universe will be radically different from one another at the end of the game. Just because the final cutscene isn’t different doesn’t mean your choices don’t leave the galaxy in a different state than it would be otherwise. I don’t really want to talk any more about the ending, mostly to avoid opening a can of worms (people are going completely insane over this stuff), but I think Penny Arcade summed up my thoughts on the ending pretty well in a post you can find here.

I really hope this game turns out better than I think it will.

The only other thing worth mentioning is the multiplayer, which I played a decent amount of during the week. It can be pretty fun in a way, though it's not anything special by any means. It’s a pretty basic horde mode with Mass Effect’s combat and powers. That simultaneously makes it a little clunky and adds its own spin to things (combining powers is pretty neat), but otherwise there’s nothing very noteworthy about it. I’ll probably keep playing for achievements, but that’s about it. Otherwise, I started a new game + on insanity (which doesn't seem that hard so far), so I’ll still be playing ME3 for a bit. I will pick up and play Journey this week as well, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m also keeping an eye on both Ninja Gaiden 3 and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, though I’m not sold on either one yet. Ninja Gaiden 3 in particular is looking like a bummer, given how good the first two games were. Hopefully it will turn out better than I think it will. Anyway, that’s all for now, until next time!

Currently playing: Mass Effect 3

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Posted by MajorMitch

This week was once again all about Mass Effect 3, despite the fact that I finished the game early in the week. Not much has changed since I wrote about it last week; it’s still a hell of a game, and one I had a blast playing. I don’t like it quite as much as I like Mass Effect 2 (which will probably go down as my favorite game this entire generation), but it still has so many awesome moments, and only reinforces the notion that the Mass Effect universe is very likely my favorite fictional universe out there, regardless of medium. That’s a big part of what makes this series so great to me, and ME3 doesn’t buck the trend.

Being able to interact in the Mass Effect fiction is what sets it apart from other games.

Past that, I’m a little unsure of what there is left to say about ME3; it really is just a case of “ME3 does more of what made ME2 so amazing”. The writing, the universe, the characters, the decisions you make and the way they affect the story; it’s all heads and shoulders above anything else out there right now when it comes to realizing the potential of interactive storytelling in video games. The one extra thing ME3 has going for fans is that you get to see/choose how all of the series’ major plot threads wrap up. Big conflicts like the genophage and the Quarians vs the Geth obtain resolutions, and most of them are superb. In fact, wrapping up all those threads is the driving force behind the entire game, which is amusingly its biggest strength and biggest weakness in relation to ME2. I feel like BioWare is at their best when introducing new characters and stories, rather than wrapping them up. ME2 was all about introducing a large cast of lovable characters, where ME3 is all about giving them their proper sendoffs. You can’t have one without the other, but that BioWare is noticeably better at one of them (in my opinion) simply makes one a better game. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

I guess I should at least mention the game’s ultimate sendoff, the oh so controversial ending. Put bluntly, I didn’t mind the ending much at all. In fact, I kind of liked it. I agree that there could have been a little more room for your choices to make an impact in the closing moments, but even that’s not a huge deal; in a sense I consider the entire game to be the ending. When you combine all the choices you make across the game, the state of each players' universe will be radically different from one another at the end of the game. Just because the final cutscene isn’t different doesn’t mean your choices don’t leave the galaxy in a different state than it would be otherwise. I don’t really want to talk any more about the ending, mostly to avoid opening a can of worms (people are going completely insane over this stuff), but I think Penny Arcade summed up my thoughts on the ending pretty well in a post you can find here.

I really hope this game turns out better than I think it will.

The only other thing worth mentioning is the multiplayer, which I played a decent amount of during the week. It can be pretty fun in a way, though it's not anything special by any means. It’s a pretty basic horde mode with Mass Effect’s combat and powers. That simultaneously makes it a little clunky and adds its own spin to things (combining powers is pretty neat), but otherwise there’s nothing very noteworthy about it. I’ll probably keep playing for achievements, but that’s about it. Otherwise, I started a new game + on insanity (which doesn't seem that hard so far), so I’ll still be playing ME3 for a bit. I will pick up and play Journey this week as well, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m also keeping an eye on both Ninja Gaiden 3 and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, though I’m not sold on either one yet. Ninja Gaiden 3 in particular is looking like a bummer, given how good the first two games were. Hopefully it will turn out better than I think it will. Anyway, that’s all for now, until next time!

Currently playing: Mass Effect 3