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Scientific Thougths about Mass Effect 3 … An Excuse For The Ending?

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2013 by Rabidgames

Rabidgames has found this rather interesting article.Yes, discussions about that Mass Effect 3 ending are so 2012, but whatever.

One guy explains the story of Mass Effect 3 quite sciencey with the Kardashev scale and the Drake Equation … wait what? Just read the article, damn it! Or, well, just listen to this rather amazing definition of the latter by Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper:

Got it? Back to the article. He might have a point. In a nutshell: Whatever happens in any galaxy, there will inevitably be war between someone and someone else’s buddy. Our real lives are proof enough of this theory (still Type 0), the Mass Effect story proves it as well (the space faring races are Type 1, the Reapers Type 2, The Crucible Type 3). Of course, the assumption is that all sentient species developing technologies are aggressive as humans could be flawed from the beginning but let’s not concern ourselves with puny details. Maybe Mass Effect 3 is built on this theory.

Apart from all the fascinating science, there is also plenty of talk about the well-known issues of Mass Effect 3’s plot, but he also clarifies some misconceptions (IT supporters might disagree there). Well, it’s not as interesting as the scientific theories, but it’s still a good read.

Rabidgames mumbles: It’s an interesting theory, that’s for sure. If you believe the ending might have something to do with science … well, one or two writers might have something in mind, yes, but when facing the convoluted mess the ending still is, it’s rather unlikely – why should one theory replace another?

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Lost or Mass Effect 3 All Over Again!?

Posted in Just Watching with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Rabidgames

Obviously, big fat spoilers for both shows ahead. Read at your own risk.

Apologies. Yes, Rabidgames is late. Late for a long time. He just finished watching Lost. So, the situation will be the other way round for most of you.

But before we come to the rather sad similarities, let’s point it out one amusing … coincidence: In both franchises, we have spent time with a protagonist called Shep(h)ard. It is Shep(h)ard’s role to guide his flock, as different as the two flocks may be (may should be emphasised, since a Paragon Mass Effect Shepard is pretty close to the Lost Shephard). Plus, you know, sacrifice, leadership, burden of responsibility and so on …

Anyway, Mass Effect 3 and Lost definitely have one thing in common: THAT ENDING! Raaaaaaaaaaaaage!!!!!! Bitter disappointment after a long time of investing time, and most likely lots of educated guesses and wild theories. In both cases, we have spent dozens, if not hundreds of hours with the characters. And in both endings, fans were not exactly happy, to put it mildly.

But that Lost ending … fucking hell, there were even three colours! The white exit light, the golden source, the red waterless pit … But hey, who cares if there are bigger fish to fry: have you ever thought about the myriad of plot holes that just arise because of the flawed ending? Yes, the fate of most main characters is explained, but what about the island? What happened to it? Who guards it now? What about the source? Is the smoke monster dead forever? And what was the point of many minor characters? Is there no redemption for Michael, Mr. Eko, Ben, Richard, the Widmores? And what about Vincent, the dog? Is he doomed to roam the island forever? What was the purpose of the temple? Who did build the statue? Who were the very first humans to set foot on the island?

Does that remind you of Mass Effect 3’s last hours, or rather minutes? Where is Harbinger? Where did the Normandy crash land (also, in both franchises, there’s a last second escape of trusted companions via a flying device, and the main character stays back to potentially sacrifice themselves)? And so on.

But the problem is not just the endings themselves. In both cases, there’s been a rather shambolic thicket of plot holes (well, time travel is always an issue now, isn’t it? – just think about Aaron; a three-year old in the ‘real’ world, but a baby in the sideverse), confusing character developments all over the place and many, many questions simply left unanswered. Unfortunately, Lost won’t ever get an Extended Cut.

Worst of all, they are similar in one case: The endings seem like a last minute brainstorming result. As for Mass Effect 3, it’s a child ex machina and a blatant rip-off from Deus Ex Human Revolution threefold ending, plus ignoring 99% of all our decisions; as for Lost, it’s a plunge into mysticism and biblical allegories. Many mysteries remain unsolved, many questions unanswered. And in both cases, it seems like strange decisions to decide the end plot in the 11th hour.

Look at Mass Effect 3: Nothing ever points out to a sentient guardian within the Citadel. Starbrat just pops out out of nowhere, invalidating most of our decisions by giving us simplified choices. We know Bioware didn’t spend much time there – after all, we got the Extended Cut which is still bad, but hey, it’s not an abysmal pungent piece of shit anymore. At least we know why the Normandy was there, although it still doesn’t make sense. And yet, there are still questions forever to be unanswered: Where is Harbinger? Why the hell didn’t the indoctrinated Rachni queen call the Reapers to the Crucible?

Now look at Lost. Sure, there’s a development in the last season (although some people like Dogen are just there and don’t really add up), but the omniscient explanation to allow anything is “there is no NOW here”. Yup, that smells like space magic. Just make up a fairytale purgatory dreamed up after detonating a hydrogen bomb to stop the electro-magnetic source from exploding, also known as ‘sideverse’ … alright, that’s a pretty brutal test of suspension of disbelief. As said before, there are many, many plot holes, and just as with Mass Effect 3, Lost does not even care to try to explain them away. Here’s a simply solution, it explains everything you need to know, please swallow it, alright folks, goodbye, we just leave before you can digest it.

Ultimately, the endings don’t ruin the experience, but they leave a sour taste in any thinking guy’s mouth. Of course, it is easier to forgive Lost for the disappointment: After all, we did not play hundreds of hours as our very own, individual Commander Shepard there, we were just spectators from afar. But still, after both franchises seemed to have reached a point of critical narrative mass, the writers backed down, threw all logic and common sense over board and decided to take the easy way out; call it religion, call it mysticism, call it whatever you like to call it. It is simply not satisfying – but the main reason why the endings suck is not even the mystical approach, but all the loose ends.

Rabidgames assesses: The similarities are in fact astonishing. In short: The journeys were worth travelling, but the destinations are not a place which brings enlightenment or closure. In fact, if you turn around you can see lots of lost luggage at the edge of the road. And yes, there is one word for it: Bad writing.

Mass Effect 3 – One Year Later

Posted in Revisited with tags , , , on March 12, 2013 by Rabidgames

Remember one year ago when we were all playing Mass Effect 3? Remember all the buzz before the release? Remember the surprise the MP was actually worthwhile? Remember the rise of the infamous indoctrination theory? And of course, we all remember the shitstorm the ending caused … When Rabidgames purchased the last DLC and the farewell to Commander Shepard, Citadel, it was the perfect opportunity to have a second, probably more objective look at Mass Effect 3:

Story

Well, not much has changed here. Leviathan and especially the Extended Cut have enhanced it a bit, but overall, it still has the well-known highs and lows. Playing through Mass Effect 3’s campaign again does only change small things due to your decisions in the first two games. The perception is still the same. It may be interesting here and there, but it’s nothing major – which is still a shame. Tuchanka and Rannoch are still – and will probably forever be – two of the best pieces of video game narrative. Still, if you think about the overall story, it is still incredible how insanely awful it all fits together, and even now, there are tons of plot holes in Mass Effect 3’s narrative (what the fuck happened to Harbinger, why is everything weird on the Citadel, how the hell can anyone survive an exploding space station in the stratosphere, and so on).

Gameplay

Here, Mass Effect 3 is simply fun – most of the time. Different classes allow different styles, obviously. Rabidgames’ ‘current’ Adept run (usually the team consists of Liara and Javik) is basically an insane biotic explosion galore. However, this tactic sucks against Cerberus and their millions of shields and barriers … The first run as Engineer felt different, and Rabidgames’ planned third run as Renegade Infiltrator will be different as well. Bioware did a good job here, so let’s give credit where credit is due.

While it is fun, there are also two drawbacks: The first one being the incredibly linear levels. You proceed to narrow corridors, shooting, cutscene, walking, shooting, cutscene, rinse and repeat. The second drawback is the apparent episode-like character of Mass Effect 3: You go somewhere, tick of the boxes (kill x, rescue y, bring back z), then you go back to the Citadel, never to return. Thanks to the lack of exploration, it rather feels like you’re watching a TV series about Commander Shepard, whereas Mass Effect 1 really felt like being a part of the universe. Anyway, played in small chunks, it is still fun, especially with Javik’s banter.

DLC Policy

We’ll talk about MP later, and let’s face it, the Extended Cut was nothing but Bioware closing 7/10 giant plot holes, trying to salvage this shipwreck of an ending. Let’s talk about the 3 planned single player DLCs for Mass Effect 3: Leviathan was alright; nothing too special, some nice story and lore, some adventure lite puzzles, alright, worth purchasing. Omega, however, seems (Rabidgames hasn’t bought it – and no intention of buying it full-price) like a big rip-off – and beyond that, a lame one … temporary squad mates we don’t get to keep, a hub we cannot revisit … come on! Overall, Leviathan and especially Omega look like ripped from the main game, just to be sold separately for some more bucks. Citadel, however, is something different. It is simply a piece of fan service, a farewell to Shepard and all of our surviving friends. It’s not to be taken seriously, and it definitely is fun. Good job, Bioware. And yet, it hurts. Bioware still have it, they can still write good lines (how often do you laugh out loud when playing video games) and they still know what we want – it’s just a shame they don’t live up to their potential all the time …

Multiplayer

Mass Effect 3’s MP is addictive. Rabidgames knows since he has started playing it again. And things have changed since Rabidgames left the MP half a year ago: Geth White Gold has become harder since camping is a thing of the past now, there are tons of new classes (we can play as an AIU (an EDI clone), a collector(!), a Geth Prime(!!!), oh, and there are Volus) and weapons, new environmental hazard maps, new enemies (seriously, fuck those Dragoons), challenges … it has become harder but also better. Sadly, the once trusted Salarian Engineer has been nerfed … Decoy is practically worthless now … But still, the multiplayer of Mass Effect 3 is still really good – and all DLC is still free. Of course, this is not because EA and Bioware a humanitarians, but because they want to sell their micro-transaction packs – well, whoever pays real money to buy random packs must be out of his fucking mind anyway!

Rabidgames deems: Mass Effect 3 has been dissected and torn to pieces – some of the criticism has been justified by all means, some of it might have been exaggerated. At the end of the day, Mass Effect 3 is a good game. But it’s not a great one, it’s not the game the Mass Effect trilogy deserves. Worst of all: Bioware is still capable of being the best writing team in the industry, it’s just … they rarely use their potential. One year ago and today, it is a shame. Had Bioware shown proper artistic integrity, Mass Effect 3 could have been a sublime masterpiece instead of just a good piece of software. That might be enough for EA, but Bioware used to have aspirations beyond cash …

Will Mass Effect 3: Citadel Be Our Farewell to Commander Shepard?

Posted in News with tags , , , on March 5, 2013 by Rabidgames

Today is the day when the last party for Commander Shepard begins. Well, somehow (let’s not forget it will take place before the ending so it’s just a party before saying goodbye … see what happens if you don’t get your DLC timing right?). Citadel is claimed to be the last singleplayer DLC for Mass Effect 3. It will feature a new area on the Citadel, including an apartment, an arcade and a conspiracy. There will also be a big party with many of Shepard’s companions (if they survived that is), and of course, some action.

The following trailer for Mass Effect 3: Citadel promises partying and tons of action. Now, that action looks like it could have been inspired by The Expendables, doesn’t it? Let’s hope for some over-the-top-battles:

Rabidgames counts his money: This could surely be worth it. The Citadel, a conspiracy, meeting old friends (and by the looks of it, some more Shepard sex scenes), some action. Looks good. However, after the Omega incident, it is wise to wait for reviews and gamer feedback before spending money on this massive 4GB DLC.

Rabidgames’ Guide to Good Endings

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2013 by Rabidgames

Since this article is about endings, you can expect spoilers.

No, Rabidgames does not mean happy endings. They are not necessary. However, Rabidgames would love to see endings which make sense, fit the plot and above all, don’t feel like a brainstorming result. Mind you, Rabidgames is not talking about confusing endings like Dragon’s Dogma, where you see the ending after the ending and then something new once more after a second playthrough, nor is Rabidgames talking about some lame crap like Max Payne 3, nor about obvious plot twist endings like in Dishonored. Rabidgames is talking about serious fucking insane shit! So let’s have a look at what went wrong – and how to avoid it:

Case file No. 1: Mass Effect 3

Yeah, we know all about it. There is no use in going into detail once more. It has been done a million times. It’s the bigger picture we have to look at: If a bunch of gamers grasping at straw cans make as much sense as the official first ending, well, that just means it fucking sucks. Simple as that. Yes, your artistic integrity sucks donkeys’ balls. Let’s be honest for a minute: What we witnessed was either incredible stupidity or ridiculous mismanagement – how could anyone seriously think that travesty was anything but a nuked trainwreck? And how could anyone in his sane mind think we would swallow that pile of multi-coloured shit? And sorry to say it again, but the worst thing is … it happened to fucking Bioware – to Bioware of all developers! How the mighty have fallen … To be fair, it is not just about the ending – it seems ten different writers wrote different parts of Mass Effect 3 – just compare the greatness of Rannoch with the stale disappointment of Thessia. Yet sadly, the worst writer wrote the ending. Please bring back Drew Karpyshyn!

Lesson to learn: Write an ending and read to at least three more persons. It helps. It really does.

Case file No. 2: Assassin’s Creed 3

Again, we have had a big story stretching across many games and now we were promised an ending, and closure to Desmond’s story … let’s face it, the ending was disappointing beyond all time periods. Both endings, actually: Connor’s ending was lame (why wasn’t Haytham the last Templar standing? why wasn’t the Homestead actually attacked? and why the fuck does Connor still help Washington after all?), and Desmond’s even lamer (don’t show us a choice and then deny it). What makes this particular Dea ex machina finale even worse than Mass Effect 3’s Starbrat is the fact the ending is just there to prepare us for Assassin’s Creed 4. Seriously, fuck off! And no, if you end a trilogy, you don’t end it with a cliffhanger the size of an interstellar cock!

Lesson to learn: Never ever should a PR team to be allowed near dev teams. Never! Again! Please!

Case file No.3: Far Cry 3

So far we have had artistic integrity and PR ingenuity, but Far Cry 3 added artsy twattery: If your plot and especially your ending make no fucking sense whatsoever, don’t start babbling about artsy fartsy shit and a bigger picture hidden for those who seek. Dear author, relax, lie back and reflect: If no fucking person on this goddamn planet is able to decipher your plot full of Alice in Wonderland clues and wild drug fantasies, maybe, just maybe it is because you fucking failed to spell…it…out! And then, that ‘bad’ ending … you die, but you’re magically still alive after the credits. Holy crap!

Lesson to learn: If one person doesn’t get your ideas he might be a dumb person. Fair enough. But if one million people don’t get it, you failed to bring across your point. Yes, YOU and only YOU are to blame, Mr Yohalem!

Rabidgames ponders: Maybe 2012 was an exception. Maybe game endings have always been bad and we haven’t realised. Fuck knows. But while Far Cry 3 suffered only from delusional writing and ivory tower symptom, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Mass Effect 3 are worse example because they suffer from terrible writing with no hidden meaning whatsoever, and probably short-term decisions, be it to satisfy an ego, be it to maximise profits – and if this trend is a sign of things to come, we are doomed.

And one more thing: A bad ending doesn’t ruin a game, that’s true. But it ruins our perception of a game. Forever.

Mass Effect 3’s Omega or No Thanks!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by Rabidgames

So, one of the world’s most-hated couples, Bioware and EA, have released Mass Effect 3’s latest DLC, Omega. Awesome, isn’t it? No, it isn’t. (By the way, if anyone sees any value in Omega, please feel free to share your thoughts and to nullify this rant.)

Mind you, Rabidgames has not bought Omega and here’s why:
1200 MS points for a couple of hours of nothing more but another collection of the same linear corridors and more of the same shoot-outs?
No thanks!

There are reasons the gaming world has loved, or rather once loved Bioware:
Stories. Characters. Lore.

Throw in Omega, a Mass Effect 3 DLC focusing on combat alone and allegedly neglecting all of the above, and you get a precise definition of Bioware’s new shiny but dull image: The sad descent from the RPG throne to a mere provider of quick-cash services in any way the pimpish mother company sees fit. True, Omega is neither the reason nor the origin (no pun intended here) of Bioware’s downfall, but if we get a loveless DLC where we cannot even revisit Omega after completing it (remember being able to revisit the base after completing Lair of the Shadow Broker?), and then Aria allegedly sitting in her comfy seat in the Purgatory once again afterwards, Omega might be a sure sign of Bioware’s omega – the exodus of the company’s founders surely not the first sign of decline.

As of now, Bioware is on 2 strikes in Rabidgames’ book of gaming violations: First strike was the incredible lazy level design and the absence of almost anything RPG in Dragon Age 2. Second strike was the clusterfuck called Mass Effect 3 – the good (Tuchanka, Rannoch, EDI) and the bad (MP effecting SP, that ending, Priorities Earth & Thessia, most events reduced to mere numbers) almost outweighing each other – but the scale has been tipped by this lame, lazy and loveless piece of DLC. Rabidgames does not even takes into account that Old Republic disaster, and that fucking Command & Conquer F2P travesty to come shall be forgotten, too. But remember, Bioware. 1 more strike, and you’re out!

Rabidgames is sad: Bioware fucked up big time with some decisions for Mass Effect 3. They tried to behave with the Extended Cut, and Leviathan was a tiny, tiny baby step in the right direction. But then we get a costly DLC with nothing but the same linear battles, and worst of all, Omega adds nothing to the game in any way – lore, a new hub, new characters, you name it. It’s a shame how this once beloved company has fallen.

Operation Broadside & Earth Multiplayer DLC

Posted in News with tags , , , , on July 12, 2012 by Rabidgames

This weekend, Bioware will launch Operation Broadside for loyal Mass Effect 3 multiplayers. You’ll have fun fighting Reapers all weekend long. Here are the specifics:

Squad Goal: Extract at least one squad member against Reapers on Gold difficulty
Allied Goal: Extract 400,000 squads against Reapers on ANY difficulty
Special Circumstance: None

Squad Goal Success: All squad members awarded a Commendation Pack
Allied Goal Success: All players awarded a Victory Pack. Medi-gel cap increases from 5 units to 6.

Have fun killing Reapers.

Also, next week, Bioware will launch the Earth Multiplayer DLC for Mass Effect 3; 3 new maps, new weapons, new gear, and 6 new characters with new abilities. Sadly, they’re all human. The only really interesting thing is the brand new Platinum difficulty.

Rabidgames doesn’t really care: To be honest, it’s not that interesting anymore. The MP has finally become stale and repetitive, the players have somehow become worse, and even new characters won’t save it for Rabidgames. Except we get some Protheans, of course … goodbye until then.