21 April 2011

Shapes in the Mass effect series...

Mass Effect is, in my opinion, a very strange beast as series go. It is a game series that is founded on no constant concept.... It's a bit like Final Fantasy in that regard. What am I talking about? Well, let me explain...


The universe of Mass effect was founded on curves. Curves in space, curves on ships... hell, even their weapons had curves!!

Mass Effect 2 either forgot this or there was some fundamental shift to a parallel universe where people can be magically resurrected after de-.... oh, wait. Does that explain the story of ME2? Anyway, the shape du jour in ME2 is the rhombohedral, specifically parallelograms. The world has it, Cerberus' insignia has it the ships have it... hell, even all the new weapons have it!

Mass Effect 3? A little too early to tell... but i'm going to go for hexagons.

Story type:

ME1: Save the universe at the cost you see fit. It's a classic pulp sci-fi endeavour complete with inspirational music and varied environments that are fantastical in nature. A bit like an entire series of Stargate or Star Trek rolled into one game.

ME2: Guns of the magnificent seven. The story of 2 is very simplified and actually doesn't make much sense if you let yourself stop and think about it for even a minute. The environments are more bland and similar with fewer types of area to visit... the art style is more utilitarian and less fantastical. The only mission that felt like Star Trek was for Jacob's loyalty, the rest? Bleh, Gears of War eat your heart out.

ME3: We'll see but i'm pretty sure it's Battle beyond the stars with smatterings of both the previous two games.

I'm sure there are more things that you can think of that trend to the untrendable for Mass Effect and its universe. Let me know via the comments or our email address: the.easiestbutton at gmail.com.

14 April 2011

The thing about the PS3 version of Portal 2...

Most places on the internet are focusing on two aspects of the Portal 2 release on PS3. The first is that Steam is now on PS3 and you can link your Steam and Playstation accounts - allowing you to play with and/or against your PC brethren if the game so allows. The second is that the PS3 version comes with a code for a free PC or Mac version on Steam, allowing you to enjoy the game on two/three platforms.

These are nice features to be sure, especially having a good/working friends list and community on the free-to-use Playstation Network that brings it in line (and possibly surpasses) with the 360 Gold accounts. But there are two other consequences that are far more important for me.

The first is that I will always have Portal 2. It is my game and i control when i play it (dependent on technology working) as opposed to being tied to Steam and the Steam DRM. This is an important aspect for me in being able to appreciate the longevity of the games i purchase - as the recent DA:O debacle has shown. If more publishers do this then i'll be a very happy, though poor, gamer as it presents the best of both worlds (the DRM and non-DRM) to my enjoyment and the publishers' pockets. Of course, being the pessimistic person i am, i doubt that publishers will see it this way and instead would see it as them losing a PC sale... which they would never have made in the first place.....

The second consequence is that Steam is DRM and a community and a matchmaking system. The recent hack of the PS3 has pretty much left it open to anything and everything. If i were a publisher i'd be worried about releasing games on the PS3 because of this and their likely propensity to be pirated more easily now. However, tying a game to Steam and introducing a free PC/Mac copy with a code included in the box hits two targets that the industry is trying to hit: gamers buying new and gamers buying used. This is appealing to the "buy-new" gamers because, hey, i get two copies of the game.... i can play with my PC friends or using my friends on Steam AND i get all the other features of Steam too. This increases the number of gamers who are willing to pay full or near-full price on these titles.... including myself; the person who hasn't bought a full price DRM game for a long time. Presumably, the PS3 game itself isn't locked to the account and so can be resold, if you wanted to, which is still really cool. (If that's not true then we get an addition to point two which is it stops reselling altogether.)

This appeals to the industry with regards to used sales because they don't have to make extra content to hold back (aka The Dragon Age/Mass Effect content that you need to register with their stupid networks to get working from the disc).... they can charge people money to enable the game on Steam by buying a new code.

I think this is an interesting direction for the industry and holds a lot of promise and, for once, my pessimistic granite stone heart has a pulse of optimism. Lets see what the industry does going forward, shall we?

11 April 2011

Musings on Mass Effect 3....

Now, this may be obvious to some people who've not been on a media-blackout of ME3 but i've been playing through ME2 and it dawned on me that this whole time they're setting up the third game to be a standard Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven style story.

::Spoilers ahead!!::

So, i've met Liara, i've met Wrex and also Ashley (i got rid of stupid Kaiidan in my ME1 playthrough).... These people are "saved" for the third game through me not being able to recruit them. What ALSO struck me was that other choices i made in the first game, and presumably this one, will coalesce into a saving grace in the third. It was actually the brief little salute from the Rachni Queen in ME2 that put me on this line of thinking.... and all of a sudden i realised that Bioware are essentially making "Battle Beyond the Stars: Mass Effect Edition".

While i'm having some fun with ME2.... it's not all that i thought was in the promise given from ME1..... Now, seeing that ME3 is a "round-up and save them" quest in the making, i can see why they've gone the route that they have.... though i don't really understand why they essentially have used the same formula in ME2 just with a different focus... It's more like "Guns of the Magnificent Seven" than "The Magnificent Seven".