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Much Ado About Medocrity: The Drama Around Mass Effect

Much Ado About Medocrity: The Drama Around Mass Effect

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The Mass Effect series has been a highly regarded RPG franchise since 2007.  Even with the widely criticized ending of Mass Effect 3, the series is considered by most to be the pinnacle of story-telling RPGs.  In my opinion, it has been the game that’s kept Bioware on the map all these years when compared to other releases from the company.  It has spawned comics, film prospects, novels and more, and has over 14 million units sold before the release of the latest installment.

Now, ten years after the release of Mass Effect, Mass Effect: Andromeda is out and the reception is less than stellar.  On Metacritic, where reviewers and gamers rarely agree, the game has a critical score of about 77 out of 100 (as of this writing) and right about 4 out of 10 with gamers.  It’s being criticized for everything from bad animation, rehashing of dated mechanics, and poorly developed story.  A couple of reviewers whose opinion I trust give their initial reactions as a mediocre installment at best.

While much of the criticism is without a doubt justified, some few have gone beyond that.  You can’t really go on Twitter without seeing memes, gifs, and screencaps of the bad animations in the game.  That’s all normal for something like this.  What isn’t normal are the people going after one animator that doesn’t even seem to work for Bioware any longer.  Whether she was involved is a matter of debate, but targeting one person on a team for actual harassment isn’t acceptable at all.  Linking them here would be pointless, but if you look, you’ll find a couple of amateur trash bloggers out there with some pretty terrible pieces on the subject.

Then came the defenders to stir the pot and make it worse.  Articles coming out blaming whole swaths of gamers for the harassment, which is completely untrue.  Commentators and games media saying you should support the developer by buying the game and so on.  People defending the game out of pure righteous indignation because of the negative feedback.

All the drama boils down to this.  A lot of people dislike a mediocre game.  A few people have decided to be jerks about it.  A few other people have decided to defend it with large sums of money.  All of it over a game that doesn’t appear to be up to the standards of the franchise.  All this drama, over nothing really.  The worst part is, I can see this eventually becoming the next big marketing ploy.  Crank out a lackluster game, get some bad coverage, stage some harassment or drama, signal the defenders, cash the checks.  We all know publishers aren’t above some seriously low garbage to sell games and get good reviews.  This is well within the realm of possibility.

So, if we want better games, stop buying bad ones for stupid reasons.  Don’t harass developers because they didn’t do a good job on a game.  Stop letting the media blow things out of proportion or convince you to throw your money after bad ideas.  And for Gods’ sake, play some decent games.  I hear Neir Automata is good.

Are Consoles Chasing Gamers Back to PC?

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Are Consoles Chasing Gamers Back to PC?

consoles v pc

Right off the bat I’ll admit I’m a PC gamer. The time came with my Xbox 360, where I realized I hadn’t touched it in 6 months. It sat there beneath my TV gathering dust and cat fur. Eventually, I handed it down to my son. He has a PS4 now, so the old Xbox is again a corpse in the shadows of our basement. I caved in again and now an Xbox One sits beside my PC. It came with 6 games; one of which I gave away to charity, two I’ve actually played (briefly), and the last two have not been touched.

So why am I faithful only to my PC? What has the Xbox One done to earn my ire when I accidentally bump the power button and it turns on? I use a controller with my PC, so I’m not strictly a mouse and keyboard guy. I use headphones for both, they share my monitor, my desk, my computer chair, and my mini-fridge (yes, be jealous). The PC does not have a better location or peripherals.

As society evolves technologically I believe we’re going to become more dependent on the internet and PCs. They have utility. I can write on my PC, the words flowing with ease from fingers to keyboard. I can listen to music, jumping from one streaming service to another all from my browser; all without adding another app. I can practice being socially awkward along with the rest of the web. I can access my email, pay my bills, and shop. Maybe there are apps for all of that on the Xbox, but I wouldn’t know. I’m too busy surfing the web.

Then there is the library. When I’ve upgraded or changed consoles, the games went with them. Even though my PC has changed over the years, I can still play the games I had on the last machine. There’s no need for backwards compatibility. Windows being what it is, I can keep my library and just reinstall the games I love playing when I get new hardware. Perhaps Steam is the culprit then, for that is where much of my time and money has gone in the four years that I’ve owned my current rig. Yes, it’s due for an upgrade soon, but it’s still humming along.

Consoles however…well, there’s no real money to be made in making old titles work with the new system. No remaster, no reboot, no sales growth. There’s quite a few 360 titles available to play on the Xbox One, but it is limited. Mass Effect: Andromeda is coming so you want to relive the original trilogy? Fine, but you better still have your 360 because Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 won’t work on the Xbox One, and that’s just one example. There are approximately 1174 titles in the Xbox 360 catalog and only 204 of them are backwards compatible. Now we both know no one owns every title, so that matters little, but chances are the one you want to play on your shiny new system isn’t ready yet. You’ll just have to wait until they feel like handing it to you.

Sure, consoles are more stable than PCs. It’s easier for publishers to put out games for consoles because each generation is pretty standard. There’s never any major snafus with console games, and they don’t suffer hardware malfunctions like PCs.

{/sarcasm} Nope. Never. {/sarcasm}

Consoles are the family cars of gaming, they’re safe and they can entertain the kids. PCs are the sports cars, fun to drive, but dangerous to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. I don’t think consoles are driving the gamers away; PCs are just naturally more attractive.