Mass Effect 3: The fear

It’s been a while. I know. I’ve probably had the busiest time of my life and it’s about to get even busier. Does this mean Blogossus is dead? Absolutely not. I’m back in the groove, back in the saddle… parallel phrasing! I sort of trailed Critique Corners off of the final few weeks of 2011 and I’m going to guess most of you thought I died. Or maybe Christmas finally got to me and I finally just killed myself. The fact is that I am busy, I have ‘Tears In Rain‘ open in another tab right now, but I want to do something. It was one of my New Years Resolutions; keep Critique Corner alive all of 2012. The problem there is that I totally forgot to mention that I want to go beyond the call of duty and deliver bigger and better editions of this column. I’m working on the hardcore philosophy that things get better over time and that 2011… was a year ago.

I just blew your motherfucking mind.

Mass Effect 3 is one of my most anticipated video-games of the year. At least, it was, until EA decided to be fucking assholes and I’d be supporting a publisher who (in my eyes) are now even worse than Activision. I’m constantly reminded of that final scene in Revenge of the Sith where Obi-Wan says something like “It was said you would destroy the Sith, not join them!” Then George Lucas remembered he really liked money so he shoe-horned in some Darth Vader transformation scenes so he could print it on merchandise and embody modern capitalism. The utter destruction of individualism to create a mob mentality out to collect, consume and devour content collectively. Forums of Star Wars fans bragging about their eve growing “bigger than yours” collections of Star Wars happy meal toys, plates, condoms, elephant urine jars and whatever the fuck else Mr George decides he wants to make money with. HEY LOOK AT ME DANCING AROUND VIDEO-GAMES! NOT LIKE THEY’RE ARTISTICALLY VIABLE OR ANYTHING!

Speaking of self-destructive science-fiction nonsense; Mass Effect 3 is the final act in the Mass Effect trilogy designed to bring to a closure all of that ‘Commander Shepard’ story. Its effort is to fulfil thousands of fanboy requests and pleas all in a bid to create, not a sci-fi epic, but a galactic epic. After the absolutely incredible Mass Effect 2 we should be in for a treat that makes our best friends die in our arms, our morality spin into entire new complexities and for video-games to finally work up the courage to knock on Roger Ebert’s house and call him a “dickbutt”. Then you claim you had no idea who he was. Because that’s how you win an argument in the 21st Century.

Here is my problem with Mass Effect 3. BioWare. Ever since Mass Effect 2 there has been something quite disturbing. I touched on earlier that I’m constantly reminded about that Revenge of the Sith moment where Obi-Wan says Anakin has become what he swore to fight. In his fight against the system, he has become the system. Ironic who that reminds me of. But in the BioWare sense, there’s something quite disturbing going on. If you just like on their forums you’ll find legions of loyal fanboys and the odd, rational dissenter who says that there’s a bug or something is wrong. They’ll be pounced on, their critiques ruined. I feel that BioWare have changed since Mass Effect 2, they’ve started developing a philosophy which does not make sense. They have gone from creating video-games to pursuing profit. How do I know this? They want Call of Duty‘s audience (EDIT: Holy shit that page has been deleted?!). They have sacrificed their fans, who still seem (or at least the devotees do) to lick up whatever they’re given.

In fact, since Mass Effect 2 there’s been somewhat of a gap in quality. I am of course talking about the absolutely abysmal Dragon Age 2. But the recent release of The Old Republic just heightens my growing fears. That BioWare have lost their ways and have become absorbed into EA. You don’t really need to look that far to see the problems with TOR, a quick Google will do the job, but here’s something more evident of a gap:

I wrote a whole goddamn book about video-game journalism which included a theme of ‘score inflation’, and considering this, yes I’m aware. I’m aware that a ’79’ is by no means a bad score. I’m aware that an 84 is ‘very good’. I’m aware a 94 is ‘excellent’. I’m aware ‘100’ is fucking ridiculous to give out. Especially the absolute wild proportion of ‘perfect scores’ that are now given out they have become akin to a university degree. Everyone’s got one so they’re worthless. What I do want you to take note, however, is that there is still more than a ten point gap no matter which game you compare with Mass Effect 2. Oh and this is just game journalist’s scores, I don’t even want to look at the user scores.

So this is my fear. That Mass Effect 3, to be utterly blatant, will suck. It’s probably a misplaced fear but it’s not one completely without ill-found evidence. I’ve been a BioWare-er(?) for quite some time and I have found their games to both offer utterly brilliant and artistically relevant works but also the worst that the medium has to offer. Dragon Age 2 was a shambles of a video-game; “cinematic gameplay”, nonsense protagonist design and a writer who hates interactivity (EDIT link to actual interview is… down too… hmm) . I’m not sure I can completely trust BioWare to do the same thing.

Fool me once, shame on me.

Fool me twice, shame on you.

After hearing that Mass Effect 3 will include a section where Shepard has to go to Mars to find Prothean data and- isn’t Mars like… a spaceclick away from Earth which is being invaded by the motherfucking Reapers?– unlock the secret to defeating the Protheans. As we heard, they came close to finding a way to defeat the Reapers and… wait. Are we seriously going to have a fucking ‘Reaper gun’? Or a ‘Reaper bomb’? This incredibly emotional, intense and science-fictionally rich universe is all going to be saved by a goddamn deus ex machina? A ‘nuke the fridge’? I’m pulling at loose ends here, I know, but I haven’t read the leaked script for the game. I am merely guessing that the ‘great victory’ of the Galaxy will not be a massive outpouring of life. It will not be our friends dying in our arms or sacrifices made or anything emotionally involving but rather something backwards. Something to smash any potential for something interesting…

A compromise.

Now that has me scared.

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