Mass Effect 3 Revisionism

What's your favorite color?

Okay, when I saw that someone had come up with a 400-page plan to rewrite Mass Effect 3 I was a little annoyed that I hadn’t done it myself, because it seems like a fun project for someone who has too much time on their hands, as I occasionally do. On the other hand, the whole project seems based on exactly what I thought was so off-base about the whole Mass Effect 3 freakout in the first place.

Part of the problem is that the complaints tend not to acknowledge the constraints that arise when a script needs to be paired with the expense of creating an interactive 3D environment and pairing it with actual enjoyable gameplay and making it all work on a budget. But the bigger issue involves whether total freedom of choice is a realistic goal to begin with.


The only reason to care about Final Fantasy Versus XIII

By the time I got around to caring about Final Fantasy Versus XIII — sometime after Final Fantasy XIII came out, and I was lamenting how linear the franchise was becoming — it was already pretty clear that the game was probably stuck in development limbo. So I’m not exactly shocked to hear Kotaku reporting that Square Enix has probably decided to just kill the game.

There were plenty of reasons not to be excited about it anyway. What little the developers revealed made it sound like the game would have something very close to a real-world setting, and the main characters were explicitly compared to yakuza. I was mildly interested to see how they pulled that off, but didn’t really expect to like it.

On the other hand, everything else they said about Versus XIII made it sound like it could be a real game-changer.


Consoles are over (not really)

Ages ago, when Sony released the original, PlayStation 3, I remarked on the snowballing size of their consoles by suggesting that the PlayStation 9 would end up being the size (and shape) of the Jupiter monolith from 2001. Then, because I was on a roll, I predicted that Sony would only build one, and that it would beam the games directly into users’ minds.

All of which means I can claim that I totally called this: Sony Computer Entertainment is buying the cloud gaming provider Gaikai, which might allow it to stream next-gen games to current-gen consoles. I just wish I could decide if I was happy about it.


The Dragon Age rut

Sometime during the development of Dragon Age II, the team apparently decided that by far the most interesting part of the expansive fantasy world they’d created was the conflict between mages and templars. It became the central theme of the second game, while most of its tie-in content points to an even stronger focus in the not-yet-officially-announced Dragon Age III. This would have been fine, except they don’t seem to have a clear idea of what to do with this idea.

That’s the central problem with Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, the full-length animated film that the team produced with FUNimation Entertainment. The movie looks great, and it’s a fine way to waste 90 minutes, but it also highlights the franchise’s unfortunate tendency to take an interesting idea and run it into the ground for lack of a new story to tell.


I miss my alien budget

Good times.

SimCity 2000 always had a special place in my childhood, in large part because  I would spend hours playing it every weekend to avoid having awkward living room time with my stepfamily. (We went through a SimTower phase that I think was brutal on everyone.) And some odd things about the game have stuck with me.

Obviously there were elements like the strangely haunting soundtrack, or the alien death robot — which I never actually used that much, because really all it did was start fires. But it probably says something that what I really appreciate is how the game tapped into my budding interest in politics and government.