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The Why and How of the Mass Effect Story Shortcomings / Failures.

There might be some spoilers in this but I am not sure if anyone out there that is interested in the why of Mass Effect 3 doesn’t already know about its shortcomings. This is a game that has become rather infamous for having an ending that single handedly negates everything you’ve done for three games. But that didn’t bother me, I ended up playing it after I knew about the ending and this meant that my hopes couldn’t be dashed once they had reached a fever pitch.

But I’m here to discuss why this shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Mass Effect telegraphed what it was going to do nearly the moment it began. Mass Effect (herein usually called ME) suffers from the Superman effect. I’m not sure if that’s a real thing and I’m not going to Google to confirm but we are about to establish it as a real thing. The Superman effect comes around each time DC wants to do a story involving Superman. He can’t be hurt by conventional weapons, he can move faster than any hero in the entire DC cannon (even the Flash, the fuck?), and some forms of him can punch new universes into existence.

Punch. New Universes.

There is nothing more American than punching new universe. But I digress, because of this they have to make newer and bigger bad guys to fight him. But each time they do they make him more powerful to beat those big guys. In the end you end up with something as retarded as Imperiex. How dumb is Imperiex you might ask? Well lets just take a snapshot of his superpower.

Imperiex

Full Stop. This mofo can create big bangs. That’s beyond stupid. While I agree the Anti-Monitor already kinda capped out the stupid meter, this guy takes it to the next level. He could end the entire universe by exploding a new one into it. Everyone would be dead except for Superman, somehow. But I digress, this is the ultimate conclusion of the Superman effect. You create a villain so extreme that the only way to defeat them is through some kind of incredible MacGuffin.

So lets look at Mass Effect 1 through 3 (a very brief overview) and explain why people should have seen this ending coming a mile away. It all begins with Mass Effect 1. This, to me, is an excellent game with a good story. That is until you reach Mass Effect 3 and realize that the entire plot is basically taken from Virus. But at least for Mass Effect 1 you have this incredible villain that appears to be on the level of, say, Shiva from X-Men. It’s a robot with incredibly strong shields, an incredibly strong weapon, and a rather impressive size. But the majority of ME1 we don’t realize that this is even the villain. We are busy fighting Saren (named after the Gas, you’ll find that most names in ME are pretty simple plays on words, no complaints). Saren is a good villain that makes you hate him, he’s also a mortal one. You have a villain that can be defeated.

You go through ME1 only to find out in a (rather big) twist that it isn’t Saren that is the actual villain at all! It’s the Ship, Sovereign. This single Reaper takes the entire collected force of the Alliance Fleet to stop him. But, he is defeated, you realize that while not invincible the Reaper Sovereign is already at the apex of anything the characters could handle. But the game throws a curveball your way. “There are thousands of these things out in deep space.”

Oh. So this thing that can singlehandedly nearly take on the entire force of our most powerful space navy has an army thousands strong? I suppose that means we can just pack up because there’s nothing we can realistically do in the next couple of games that’ll close that gap. This would be like 1990’s humans battling with Mass Effect Protheans. Utterly ridiculous. But the game keeps it rather obscure and we lead into ME2.

ME2 has us battling with the “collectors”. A mysterious race of aliens that appear to be collecting sentient creatures (mostly humans) for, presumably, the Reapers. Once again the enemy is powerful but ultimately mortal. Our weapons hurt them, they die, and it looks like we can actually take them on a scale of Shepard and company Vs. Them. Not the entire Galactic Army, just Shepard and a half Dozen buddies he found in a bar.

So far, so good. We’ve had two games where the enemy is reasonably defeated and this means that at any point in the battle there is tension. Who will win? Will I lose a friend in this battle? Can I manage to finish this battle without losing a friend? You actually have some investment in the story because you know that either side of the scale could be tipped. It’s engaging and because of this it has weight. You want a villain that can be hurt for the same reason you want a hero that can be hurt. Sure Batman will never really die in the comics.

But he could.

That’s all that a reader needs.

But following the credits of ME2 we see the scope of the Reaper threat. Countless Reapers floating in space. An army of incalculable size, each so strong that it could likely singlehandedly annihilate a planet if it was patient enough. Their very presence warps the minds of sentients to their will. These mofos could, in theory, win a war without ever firing their ultra death beam of ouchies.

reapers

ME3 begins with us watching the Reapers move from light years away, to Saturn, to the Moon, to Earth, in a matter of minutes [if that].

These things move at incredible speed, literally without warning, and are in numbers that cannot be comprehended. Each with world sundering power. You watch as they descend upon Earth (and other home worlds) and begin culling in the millions in a matter of hours.

The most powerful weapons known to the modern aliens cannot even breach their shields 99% of the time. Their laser cannon can cut through 100% of known shields that non-reapers have. They can fire it infinitely many times, they don’t need to breath, they can presumably see in any spectrum, and they are eternal.

This is somehow even more ridiculous than Necrons from Warhammer 40K. Somehow people saw this enemy and became intrigued, wondering to themselves, how will Shepard beat this? How everyone didn’t immediately assume a MacGuffin is beyond me. The scope of weapon necessary to bridge the divide between Reapers and the races of the Milky Way was so great that there was literally no other options.

What’s worse with Mass Effect 3 is that most of the most important information is locked away in DLC. The game itself technically costs around 90 dollars if you consider original retail price and the price of the incredibly necessary DLC. Leviathan alone tells you why the reapers look like they do, why they do what they do, and who made them. Sorry…come again? The last DLC of Mass Effect 2 turns Shepard from a Galactic Hero into a man who committed genocide. There is no mention of this event in the beginning of ME3. So you go from a Hero at the end of ME2 to wondering why you were court marshaled.

Regardless, once you find out that this game is just Virus: The Game, you set out to defeat the reapers. The game actually gives a ton of missions and content to build an army to defeat the reapers. But, really, there were no hints that any of it would actually matter.

The writer(s) of ME flew too close to the sun and they suffered for it. They created a villain that was utterly insurmountable which meant that they had only one possible ending, unless we were to consider them adding one where you just all die and that’s the end. This, for me, is disappointing because they have a rather wonderful collection of races and locations that they had to work with. If the Reapers had just been a single juggernaut with a lot of baby ships that are actually beatable it might have lead to the battles having some weight to them.

But when every battle is a bunch of humans against Saiyans, its just not interesting. No matter how much Master Roshi works out he’ll never be taking down Vegeta. So any combat between those two holds little mystery. Without that mystery you lack any of the features of a story that compel people. At best it achieves something as a parody, but otherwise it fails on merit.

I don’t hate the Mass Effect series, but it is unfortunate that they fell to a very common writing mistake. This same thing happened in the Matrix between films 1 and 2 (this is why they made up an excuse for why Neo was suddenly not digital god anymore in Matrix 2, they realized the movie would be 5 minutes long if he retained his powers from the end of the first film). I’ve done it a lot myself. It’s why I always rewrite the villains arc after the first pass because invariably I make them Maijin Buu when I intended for them to be Commander Red.

By | 2014-06-27T12:13:55+00:00 June 26th, 2014|Journal|Comments Off on The Why and How of the Mass Effect Story Shortcomings / Failures.

Why should you never ever buy a second Wii U for any reason? I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been kind of slacking on writing this. Earlier today I found myself incredibly irritated with Nintendo. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a company fight so hard to not take my money and I suppose it behooves me to explain to you how they did it. Keep in mind this isn’t one of those cliche “I hate Nintendo” posts that seem to proliferate across the internet. I’m a fan of most of Nintendo’s games and I really do feel that a lot of what they do is what I want to see in the gaming world. At least as far as Game Software is concerned, apparently on the Hardware Software side they are failing miserably.

We have two rooms in the house (one upstairs and one downstairs) that we want to play games in. We currently have a PS3 in each of them and I can sync up my account across both of them. I use the same bank account, all my games work on both of them, hell a lot of my games work on both of them and my vita. We realized we want to Wii Fit U downstairs and the rest would probably be played upstairs. So we preordered the Mario Kart 8 Bundle. It came in and everything seemed great, the game itself is fantastic and I was getting the feel goods. Today I decided to hook up the other Wii U and it was just one problem after another. Those feel goods were greatly hindered.

The first thing is that you can not use the same account on two different Wii Us. This means that all your purchases are locked to a single console forever. I can’t think of any reason for this. I’m not willing to accept piracy protection, sharing, or any of that other bullshit. Sony does allow for it and I don’t see their game division collapsing (everything else for them is another story). Alright, I thought, not being able to use both my consoles on one account is a huge fucking inconvenience but maybe I can see past it.

Then I realized that free game I’d be getting with my purchase would be stuck on the new console and not the one I wanted it on. Well crap that sucks, then I realized that the points from my game purchases and the console would be stuck on some secondary account that I don’t even want. I was being forced to make it just because of some backasswards limitation pushed by a room full of empty headed suits.

Alright, whatever. I can see past this. I really like the Wii U and I would like to have one in each room, I thought. I moved onto the step where I try to move my saves from one console to the other one. Keep in mind this is a company that doesn’t even have achievements. There is literally not a single reason for them to not let me move my saves. Not one, there is nothing. You might think you have a reason but you don’t. Sit down and think about it for ten more minutes and you’ll come to the same conclusion as I did after a lot of brooding. But here I am looking at their data backup screen telling me that my saves must be added to an encrypted USB stick that only works for the console you pull the saves off of. Give me a fucking break. Why. No don’t tell me, that was rhetorical, there is no reason.

So what can you do if you own a Wii U and you buy a second? You can’t move any of your saves over. You can’t use your E-Wallet. You can’t use your Nintendo Club Account. These two devices are islands and neither knows the other exists. Sure you bought both, this is all you, but who the fuck cares right?

If you own one Wii U you are in a good place. Like me you’ve got a fun little console with a nice group of excellent games. But heaven help you if you buy two. There is literally no damn reason to ever own two of these. This is the only console on the entire planet that actually becomes less valuable with each new one you own. The PS3 is great with multiple copies, the Xbox, the PS4, (I don’t know about Xbox One I guess), PS2, PS1, NES, SNES, GameCube, Genesis, Jaguar, Saturn, Dreamcast, Atari, 3DO, Wii…etc…EtFuckingCetera.

This is it! The Wii U literally punishes you if you purchase more than one of them! Why? I keep asking this rhetorical question because I just don’t get it. What did Nintendo just get out of me returning 360 dollars worth of console bundle (Ok…329 before tax). Did that make their day? Did that make anything better at Nintendo of America or abroad? This is beyond moronic. I’m often finding myself seeing nothing but petty jabs at the company but right now I see a very real problem that they need to fix. A company so in need of sales shouldn’t be trying so hard to stifle them.

So disappointed but I suppose I’ve got money for a PS4 now. So, thanks Sony, for actually having good video game account policies. Looking forward to Second Son.

If Best Buy hadn’t graciously accepted that return I would literally not be buying another Nintendo Console ever. That may sound petty but I’m not willing to do a ton of research just to make sure I’m not going to get punched in the asshole for supporting a company.

By | 2014-06-09T20:57:03+00:00 June 9th, 2014|Journal|Comments Off on Why should you never ever buy a second Wii U for any reason? I’ll tell you why.