First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on finding the most efficient way to ruin the internet ever conceived of. I speak of course of your mad scheme of rewarding viewers achievement points for browsing the site itself, a feature that will no doubt quickly spread into other websites and social networks, thus causing all productive activity on the internet to come to a grinding halt as its users now scurry back and forth in quest of ever more obscure pages, references, gadgets, gizmos, news items, trivia, and something, and stuff.
Secondly, it has come to my attention that one of your achievements suggests that I should update my blog. It would so happen that another one of your achievement items has furnished me with the perfect reason to do so. Now, I am not certain who is responsible for writing this item below, so we shall take is as read that this is simply addressed to whom it may concern:
As Mark Twain once so elegantly put it: Fuck off, you punctilious smatterer.
Found this while browsing through a number of gaming blogs. In the interest of fanning the flames of "you shut up, no YOU shut up!"-type Internet Wars, I thought I'd share with y'all:
(a Penny Arcade / Mass Effect 2 rant)
Well, we can't be right all the time, can we? Even atomic clocks require the occasional correction.
This latest humdinger is courtesy of none other than Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade. I really wouldn't have believed it, if I hadn't seen it pasted on the site's main page.
"I've got Mass Effect 2 completely pre-loaded now, and it struggles to be free, fettered by trunks of cunning cryptographic chain. I played the first game on the 360, but as soon as I sampled the far superior PC iteration.."
Let's stop right there.
No, this isn't going to be one of those boring "merits of PC gaming vs. console gaming" rants. Well, not in the traditional manner, anyhow. When the original Mass Effect was brought over to the PC, Mass Effect: The Game was slightly improved upon, yes, but as for Mass Effect: The Story, something was lost in translation. It's hard to put my finger upon exactly what it was. Perhaps it was the fact that the dialogue now seemed to be coming from somewhere other than the digital actors' mouths, a disconcerting development. Perhaps it was how the dialogue wheel, so perfectly suited to a controller's analog stick, felt positively clunky when handled with a mouse. Or perhaps it's simply the fact that sitting at one's PC automatically cancels out part of the cinematic feel, thus lessening the experience.
The PC version of Mass Effect is not bad by any means, and its improvements, slight as they are, are appreciated. But somehow this is one port that, in my view, cancels out much of the actual experience, and reduces it to yet another rudimentary game, which is a sad thing to see.
This, of course, is my own experience speaking. Ultimately they two versions are marginally different. The hyperbolic phrase above makes it sound like the difference between Civilization 4 and Civilization: Revolution. It is nothing of the sort, and you can take my word for it. Having spent a decent amount of time with both versions (read: more time than anyone reasonably should), I feel I am qualified to speak on the subject. Certainly more than someone who, by his own admission, has only played through the game once, and who balks at repeating the process, even with the supposedly "superior" iteration.
"I've read quite a bit on how you can bring over your old character, which is obviously a much appreciated nod to a bygone RPG era,"
While I take issue with the first statement, this is the truly ignorant one.
For someone who has been gaming as long as I have, said 'bygone era' has constituted merely a fraction of the time in which gaming has been a past-time of mine, and not the primordial Arcadia that CRPG fans are wont to remember it as. I expect by 'Bygone RPG era', Mr. Holkins is most likely referring to Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights. Decent games, but overvalued, not to mention extremely limited compared to "the real thing". (All I know is that I got more out of Interplay's Fallout series than I ever did from Bioware's D&D efforts, but that's a rant for another time.) I'll do him one better by bringing up the venerable 'Quest for Glory' franchise, also notable for letting players carry their created characters throughout the entire series, a full five games' worth.
However, there is a crucial difference between Bioware's latest effort and those other games. A difference that I, for one, would have expected such an established gamer and writer to have taken note of. The difference, namely, is that whereas the aforementioned games merely allow players to carry over their stats, the Mass Effect series is built around carrying over the player's story and decisions. In the case of more or less all other games that have involved importing a character, this has been a moot point. While the characters remain recognizably the ones built up in a previous game, they have always been brought into an entirely new and unrelated adventure, in which case the player's previous choices and actions are rendered entirely inconsequential.
And we're not just talking about bringing over one or two major choices, such as the ones made at the end, but virtually all the choices made throughout. Subsequently, these choices will be projected forward into the series' conclusion, further tailoring the game to the individual player, a monumental task on side of the writers, programmers and designers. It is something that, quite literally, has never been done before.
This is something that, in my now twenty-plus years of gaming, across any and all platforms that I've been able to get my hands on, is unprecedented. Name me other examples from this rosy-colored past mentioned in Tycho's post, if you can think of any. I am confident that you will find that this rule holds: Stats, but not story.
"When creating a new character, you can go down a list of key decisions and set them manually."
This, however, only covers the more elementary choices, and not the full extent made across the board. It is the equivalent of asking a zookeeper whether or not they have, at some point in their careers, kept polar bears in their possession, and then subsequently handing them a bunch of unfamiliar animals for the keeping, while assuring said keeper that yes, these animals are indeed yours.
A surprisingly ignorant post from a normally erudite poster.
I understand that Mike and Jerry have their hands full with more games in a week than I have time for in a year, especially nowadays, when I'm busier than ever with other things that do not encompass my favorite hobby. But that is no excuse for dropping hastily-scribbled literary train-wrecks like this. They get paid for this job, after all, so it shouldn't be too much to expect them to perform due diligence.
I'm not exactly certain why I decided to write this little rant, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Penny Arcade has a very wide readership. It's also a publication that I generally respect and enjoy, but when something like this pops up, someone has to speak out, lest we simply have our opinions (and other information) force-fed to us, without criticism, by people we like. Even well-meaning demagogues are still demagogues.