Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The most important part is the ending......right?

  This one is for all of you Mass Effect fans out there because if you're like me, then the day that you've awaited for three months finally arrived yesterday. Yes, I'm talking about the release of the long awaited and highly debated Mass Effect 3: Extended cut.

  For those of you who are not familiar with the Mass Effect series here's a quick recap.  Mass Effect is a series of third person shooter/RPG hybrid games that first saw release in 2007. The release was met with critical acclaim, commercial success, and even a little controversy (courtesy of Fox News). The first game was an xbox360 console exclusive but it's sequel's saw release on the PS3 as well after BioWare was bought by EA. The games followed the adventures of Commander Shepard and his mixed crew of aliens and humans as they take to the galaxy fighting evil...or committing it, if you so chose. Along these adventures you could form friendships and alliances, make enemies, or even fall in love. These games were very ambitious and entertaining as well as a little bit epic.

  One of the trademarks of the series was the ability to carry your actions, and their consequences, over to the next game in the series for a completely unique experience tailored to your behavior. The game saw 2 sequels and all seemed well...well, that was until players came to the final outcome of Mass Effect 3. Before I go any further I want to point out that EA claimed that Mass Effect 3's ending would, as with previous titles, would be dictated by the actions of the player in the 2 previous titles. Ultimately this proved a bane to both EA and BioWare.

  Mass Effect 3 was released in March of 2012 and grossed over $200 million worldwide, all seemed well until players made their way to the final stretch of the game. Upon finishing the game players were treated three very similar endings that were seemingly unaffected by their previous actions. The outrage was felt almost everywhere from online forums to the letters section of several gaming publications. The players had spoken and they were not happy. For weeks the debates raged on and some gamers even rallied and demanded a better ending for Mass Effect 3, one that delivered on EA's promise of an ending affected by players actions. EA first defended the actions of BioWare by preaching artistic integrity but soon caved to the demands of hundreds of thousands of angry fans and said "okay, we'll fix it."

  So, lets get down to it shall we? Yesterday I received an email letting me know that the Extended cut had arrived, immediately I turned on the 360 and began the download. After waiting a few mins (the download was actually over a gig and a half) I fired up Mass Effect 3 and loaded the first Shepard I had ever played. I played for a few mins and finally came to the ending. The 3 main decisions were still there so I went with the synthesis ending which I had previously chosen the first time around. The short scenes that followed caused a stir in me that I hadn't felt since playing Mass Effect for the first time, I felt that I this story had finally come to a satisfying close. Yes, Shepard still died and yes, the light was green but that is where the similarities ended. I was treated to several shots and cinematic clips and even a narrator that showed me and explained to me how what I had done had affected the universe and I now feel that I actually have some closure. It should be noted that I fired up a second Shepard that I had previously played to check out the other 2 endings and while they were similar, my actions were still reflected. So, yes we finally got what EA promised.

  Now, in closing, EA.....was it so hard to actually keep your promise? Granted it took alot of angry fans to make you follow through but at least you made good in the end. Okay, finally got that outta my system, now onto another matter. While I understand that EA is not the most popular company at the moment, they still pump out some very fine games and if you think I'm wrong then leave a comment. Also, I know this is still not enough for some of you out there because NO YOU STILL CAN'T SAVE SHEPARD AND BE THE SHINING GALACTIC ANUS THAT YOU LONG TO BE OUT OF SOME NEED TO BE LOVED BY ALL!!!! So, in closing, yes those that didn't like EA being lazy and half assing their ending just to meet a deadline (yes I believe this is the case, otherwise I wouldn't write it) congrats on telling them that you weren't gonna take it.

  Until next time......

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A memory in HD

 Welcome to Memory beats Reality, the blog where we examine and discuss those old school gaming memories that some of us hold so dear. 

  In the last year or so I've noticed the rising trend of HD remakes for some of our beloved last gen titles and one recently announced at E3 has caught my attention. That, being the upcoming HD remake of Jet Set Radio (formerly released as Jet Grind Radio). Now this game was, by far, one of my all time favs on the Sega Dreamcast and I recently came by a copy of it on ebay so I decided to fire it up and see if it was still as good as I remember it.

  For those of you who don't remember, Jet Set Radio chronicles the adventures of a gang of "rudies" known as the GG's who are graffiti artists and in line skaters battling other gangs for supremacy in the districts of Tokyo-to. Also the title "Jet Set Radio" seems to refer to a pirate radio station of the same name ran by DJ Professor K who periodically gives you updates on the GG's. I should mention that this last part strikes me as a reference to the D.J. from the 1979 film The Warriors.

  Overall, this game still holds up very well. The controls are tight and the gameplay is still very addictive. The color scheme of this game is also very bright and cartoony which gives the whole game a very manga esque appearance. (F.Y.I. This game is also credited as being a pioneer in the use of cartoon-like cel shaded graphics). But above all one of the biggest draws of this game is it's ultra wacky soundtrack. The tracks being a mixture of several genres including j-pop, funk, rock, and even a little metal. In closing, this game is a blast and when it is re released on PSN and Xbox Live I highly recommend downloading it. Especially if you never played the first time around.