Mass Effect 3 EP27:
Deckers VR Tron Matrix World

  By Shamus   Oct 30, 2012   226 comments


Link (YouTube)

Remember that you can give Legion to Cerberus in the last game. Apparently Chris did this in his play-through. And yet Legion shows up here either way. It must be the same platform, since he has the same hole in his chest. The only way this can happen is if Cerberus let him go. I suppose it could also happen if they were incompetent enough to let a damaged deactivated robot escape even though it’s the first intact Geth to be captured in history. Actually, that sounds exactly like Cerberus. Never mind.

The Max Payne video we discussed is this one: A Day in the Life of Max Payne. It’s admirably funny.

We talked about the Saint’s Row 3 segment where you enter virtual reality. You can see that here. Comparing the two directly, I do have to say that once again BioWare’s efforts strike me as uninspired. The SR3 version has broader and more interesting visuals. It also has varied gameplay. In ME3 you just walk through a linear one-note orange and teal world and shoot a gun at passive orange blobs to activate exposition. It’s not that the Mass Effect 3 section was horrible. It wasn’t. It’s just that it could have been so much better. This was a chance to shake up the color palette, play around with the combat mechanics, and explore the big questions about sapience, intelligence, and a sense of self in a communal experience.

The question that keeps nagging me is this: Are the problems we’re seeing a sign that BioWare has well and truly lost their touch, or were they just not given the time to properly realize this game? If EA gave them a little more leash, would we see more of the same, or a return to form? I don’t think we can answer this question from the outside, but that doesn’t stop me from asking it.


A Hundred!A Hundred!206226 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. MikhailBorg says:

    It’s a Private Video – a video for money – it’ll do what I want it to do…

  2. anaphysik says:

    The only way this can happen is if Cerberus let him go. I suppose it could also happen if they were incompetent enough to let a damaged deactivated robot escape even though it’s the first intact Geth to be captured in history. Actually, that sounds exactly like Cerberus. Never mind.

    As likely as it seems that Cerberus would succumb to a deactivated robot, that’s impossible. Because if you sell the platform to Cerberus, then a Legion-bot ALSO shows up in the Cerberus Base: http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Legion_Assassin

    (note: since you guys didn’t save Jack at Grissom, she’ll also make an appearance at the Cerberus base as a named phantom. (Btw, this is also how BioWare handled people that chose Morinth: she just shows up as a named banshee on Earth. wooooo choice…))

    The not-Legion that showed up in Chris’ playthrough is the Geth VI. http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Geth_VI

    The Geth VI is, for the most part, physically identical to Legion. Non-standard elements of the Geth VI’s armor, such as Commander Shepard’s N7 armor shoulder piece and the hole in the geth’s torso, are recreated via hologram.

    (Don’t ask me how a FREAKING HOLE is supposed to be recreated via hologram. It’s obviously just a get-out-of-having-to-make-a-new-model shortcut.)

    Software-wise, the Geth VI is Legion with a much older savestate.

    (The Geth VI has no knowledge of Legion’s travels, before or after meeting Shepard. The fact that it still adopts the look of Legion (hole+N7 chestplate), which occurred well *AFTER* Legion’s departure from the collective, makes *no* sense.)

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I’m going to be honest, that sounds like just a bullshit excuse to reuse resources.

      And they didn’t even have to do that. They literally just had to fix the hole and erase the N7 thing from Legion’s model. That should not take many resources.

      • Raygereio says:

        They dídn’t even had to make a new not-Legion model. Bioware could have grabbed a model from a regular geth enemy and slapped a new texture on that.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          I was going to say that, but then I remember that Legion’s platform was special in it’s ability to house many more Geth than others.

          • Mike S. says:

            Possibly more important, Legion’s “face” is designed differently from the other geth models, so that it can communicate expression, especially in cutscenes. I suspect throwing another geth model in wouldn’t work without completely redoing the interactions.

            Putting a different texture on Legion presumably would, and yes, obviously what they did was a shortcut. Ideally, they needed to a) patch over the hole and N7 armor while b) adding some sort of surface detail that made not-Legion easy to distinguish from other geth. (The gameplay reason for giving Legion those elements in ME2.)

            Still, recycling assets has been a fact of the series since the first game. (Imagine if ME1’s space mercenaries had ever gotten a fourth building design, or a seventh line to shout.) If I were asked to give a priority list of fixes and improvements to ME3, re-dressing not-Legion would probably be pretty near the bottom. :-)

            • Raygereio says:

              I had forgotten about Legion’s face. Good point.

              I would like to point out that people often use ‘recycling assets” as a dirty term. But it’s not an inherent bad thing. It’s how you implement things that matters.
              New Vegas for example reuses assets from Fallout 3 and even Oblivion. You can notice it if you pay attention, but it’s not really something that sticks out and screams “the developers were lazy”.

              • Mike S. says:

                What I don’t know about the details of game design could pretty much fill the Grand Canyon, but even I know that recycling is pretty much necessary given the lack of infinite programmer time and creativity. And I’m inclined to give it a charitable read, though like everyone I have my limits. (I let the endlessly repeated building designs in ME1 slide with a wry internal observation about prefab colonial buildings[1], but Dragon Age 2’s similar reuse of interiors somehow just went too far for me.)

                [1] I did, however, think that the sequence where you’re going through a prefab factory during Garrus’s loyalty quest in ME2 should have featured submaps that exactly replicated those buildings.

                • anaphysik says:

                  “I did, however, think that the sequence where you’re going through a prefab factory during Garrus’s loyalty quest in ME2 should have featured submaps that exactly replicated those buildings.”

                  Now THAT would have been a good callback to the prior game!
                  (“But, but,” the game designers whine, “that would involve intertwining setting and gameplay to produce a more nuanced image of the culture of the galaxy! We can’t do that! That’s not in our Cerberus-issued ‘Super-Awesome Goldun Riter Handbook!'”)

                  Instead, what BioWare thinks makes for good callbacks are endless calibrations ‘jokes,’ and making sure that every other Mordin line is “Someone else would have gotten it wrong.”

                  Also, making fun of elevators (and the Mako). Which, by the way BioWare, *not everyone hated*.

                  • swenson says:

                    People exist who didn’t make fun of the elevators and the Mako? My entire worldview has been rocked. I was unaware such a perspective was possible.

                    (yes, yes, this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But really–the Mako handles like a greased pig and blithely ignores the laws of physics, while the elevators are never-ending. They are valid targets for mockery!)

                    • Luhrsen says:

                      Of course the Mako violates the laws of physics. It has an element zero core or something like that. The epitome of violating physics.

                    • Alexander The 1st says:

                      The Mako may have handled like a greased pig and blithely ignores the laws of physics, but the minigame where you bring a slowly panning scan reticle around a planet while looking at a representational chart of how much of each mineral is there or chasing distress signals from space handles exactly as it looks on paper, that is “bleh”.

                    • ehlijen says:

                      The mining minigame wasn’t actually that bad. In a more fitting game (something like FTL or starflight or privateer) it could have been ok.

                      It just wasn’t an acceptable replacement for even the Mako.

              • Lame Duck says:

                That’s certainly true, but here it does serve to further undermine the idea that choices in the previous games have a meaningful impact on this one. It’s definetly not ME3’s worst sin, but I wouldn’t hold it up as an example of how to recycle assets well. It’s not nearly as bad as ME1’s asset recycling though.

                • Klay F. says:

                  The asset recycling in ME1 didn’t strike me as a bad thing because I could rationalize it away with a “prefab buildings” excuse, which made a degree of sense given the setting, where many things are already prefab. In Dragon Age 2 however, there is no possible explanation for why every quest took place in the same fucking cave.

                  • anaphysik says:

                    Admittedly, even in ME1 this broke down with every mine being the same inside. Also, it would have been good to have multiple space-ship interior designs to represent different species’ architectural paradigms.

                  • Lame Duck says:

                    You’re right that pre-fab buildings makes sense in the context of ME1’s world, but my issue with the asset reuse in that game isn’t that it’s unrealistic or unbelievable, it’s just that it’s really, really boring. It killed most of my interest in exploring this big galaxy when I kept finding the same 4 or 5 things over and over again and too many of the sidequests involved going into the same room and killing the same bunch of mooks. I had a much harder time caring about saving the galaxy from the Reapers when I found 95% of the galaxy to be such an uninteresting and repetitive place.

                    • Alexander The 1st says:

                      Yeah. When I think “Space exploration”, I think “If we do find single-binome planets, there’s a lot of them, and each one is different”, or “lush planets that reflect the season related to the location we land on.”.

                      Also, extravagence, since it seems if we’re ever going to get into space again, it’s going to be because whoever does has giant piles of money that they can’t spend fast enough.

              • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                I’m happy to allow re-used things to save on development costs, but BioWare pushed it so far in many places that it breaks emmersion. Shepard should trademark her gate and hand-motions. She’d make a freaking mint.

                the reuse of legion is just another example of this. And the way it undermines prior choices makes it worse.

      • anaphysik says:

        And I quote myself: “It’s obviously just a get-out-of-having-to-make-a-new-model shortcut.”

        But I’ll agree with Mike (and likely Ray) in saying that I would not consider this issue a terribly important one. For example, I’d consider, say, ‘BioWare’s writers completely fucking up just about all the major narrative threads in the Mass Effect series over the course of this game (here, relevantly, completely fucking up the geth-quarian conflict)’ to be a biiiiiit more important :)

        • Gruhunchously says:

          Imagine, if this series had been better written and put together, this whole message board could consist of us sitting here endlessly complaining about copy-paste environments and other irritating but relatively minor flaws. If only…

  3. zob says:

    Between TIM, Kai Leng and “awesome button” I’m going with they lost their touch.

  4. In regards to the blue/orange thing (warning: TV Tropes link), it’s been a problem in movies, games, and TV for some time now.

    If you haven’t noticed it, you will now, and it will be even more irritating.

    • anaphysik says:

      To a certain extent, I don’t mind the blue-orange preponderance, perhaps because tints, tones, and shades of teal and blue tend to be some of my favourite colours (what’s that about my avatar, you say?), and orange really does contrast well with them. On the other hand, taken to extreme it makes my favourite colours look ugly, which makes me mad and causes me to smash puny objects.

      On the gripping hand, at least it’s not BROWN ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The blue and orange arent really the problem on their own.The problem lies much deeper in the sentiment that “If it worked that one time,it will work even better every time we crank it up to 11!”

  5. rayen says:

    crazily enough, the best depiction of a computer world without changing core mechanics to move the plot forward in that world is the actual TRON world in kingdom hearts 2.

  6. newdarkcloud says:

    This has nothing to do with what you’re discussing this episode, but I want to talk about it anyway since you probably won’t get to it anytime soon.

    I hated the quest log in ME3. It was one of the most annoying, unorganized quest logs I’ve seen. Not as bad as the one from Morrowind, but up there. I could hardly ever find the quest I was looking for in a reasonable time.

    And that’s stupid since the log from ME2 was BETTER. We should be PROGRESSING, not DEGRESSING!!!

    • Not only that, but it didn’t even keep track of progress or where things were, so you never knew where to go, and never knew how far along you were in the side-questline. The latter is incredibly annoying if you walk away from the game for a spell and don’t remember what you did, or if you had a dozen other chores to take care of in the game first before that particular side-mission.

    • swenson says:

      I never use that quest log ever, unless I absolutely have to, unlike the ones in ME1 and ME2 where I actually took the time to read the blurbs about every quest. It was just so poorly organized.

    • Cody211282 says:

      Th mission log in ME3 was almost as bad as the quest log in Morrowind. And that takes some effort.

    • Indy says:

      It’s not just the quest log. The whole menu feels utterly wrong. Why is the option at the top of the wheel, one of the most accessed options, a map of the controls? Is it because of all the new players that are coming in for the game’s “What genre is this?” advertising? Is it a guide for all the people who played the previous games and got confused? Is it an elaborate image enshrining the mighty proud “A”/”X”/”Space” AWESOME BUTTON?

      But the quest log… It doesn’t say anything, at any stage, of use. There’s a planet to scan somewhere? Why not just say scan everything anyway, it is what most players will do. And the main and side missions are marked on the world map. If the story in the logs doesn’t advance, and there’s no branching in the combat, why even have the quest log?

      I really want to see a situation of someone saying “I’m behind a chest-high wall, they’re behind a chest-high wall, I haven’t played in a month and I’m confused about what to do next. I’ll just open up the quest log and have a look.”

  7. Raygereio says:

    My biggest problem with this mission is how little they did with the concept of a virtual world. It’s a friggin virtual world, Bioware! You could have done anything you wanted and instead you went with this. The same old gameplay we’ve been doing all this time in a level with Tron’esque design slapped onto it. *sigh*

    As for Bioware romances and the sex scenes. I really hate them, mostly because they’re set up as the sex scene being the eventual goal of the romance. They’re not mature writing, it’s juvenile fantasies.

    Are the problems we’re seeing a sign that BioWare has well and truly lost their touch, or were they just not given the time to properly realize this game?

    Bioware was even given more development time for ME3. Time was not the issue.
    I feel like the problem is for one Bioware spreading themselves to thin. This enabled writers who are… well, not good at what they do, and whose dumber ideas would normally be vetoed to run amok and fling crap around.
    That and arrogance of sorts. Bioware likes to profile themselves as the WORLD’S BEST VIDEOGAME WRITERS!! and it seems like they drank to deep of their own kool-aid. When interacting with Bioware staf I got the distinct impression a lot of them are incapable of admitting “Yeah, we screwed up” and reviewing their own work.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      ^This. EA was exceptionally lenient with Bioware. If they failed, it’s their fault.

      • How is it lenient if they’re having the company spread themselves too thin over too many projects?

        • newdarkcloud says:

          That’s not something EA forced on them. Bioware signed on to EA for the express purpose of doing all of these projects, especially The Old Republic. There was complete transparency between the two companies.

          • Paul Spooner says:

            Not saying any of you are wrong, but, you know… lots of [Citation needed] here.

            • Klay F. says:

              Personally, all the proof I need is to just look at how they react to criticism to know it isn’t EA’s fault. Between, David “You Just Don’t Get It” Gaider and Casey “Artistic Integrity” Hudson, it provides a rather damning picture of their culture.

              • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                I’m not so much on the EA murders everything bandwagon (though I’m not positive EA is lighting up the courts either). Nonetheless, there is plenty of blame to go around. It took both EA and BioWare falling down on the job to get this result.

              • Sumanai (Asimech) says:

                Yeah, that’s the thing. If EA was the problem then you wouldn’t get that much egotistical BS from them, and you wouldn’t have them “victory lapping” in PAX. Description from Mumbles since I can’t really watch or listen to panels on events.

                • Artur CalDazar says:

                  But we’re not getting that “egotistical BS” from everyone who works at Bioware, hell we’re not even getting that from some of the people mentioned consistently.

                  I point this out because one of the people who seemed most pissed off about the rushed ending to ME3 was one of Bioware writers.

                  • Cody211282 says:

                    The main problem doesn’t seem to be with the guys doing most the work, the problem seems to be with the leads on these projects. Not only with the product they put out, but with their horrible handling of the situation after the fact.

                    • Artur CalDazar says:

                      I guess that explains why the game seems so confused about things such as, “are we doing this just to save earth?” and “what are my themes?”.

              • Indy says:

                Given those two responses, you know, I’m really starting to suspect that the problem is just us. The millions of people who purchased this game and the tens of thousands that didn’t appreciate the ending or the various other supposed problems… Yeah, guys, it’s just us.

    • Klay F. says:

      The thing about that that pisses me off is that the people responsible for Bioware being known as great writers aren’t even at the company anymore. I’ve also become increasingly convinced that Casey Hudson is a hack who once got a lucky break.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        Protip; We are, all of us, hacks who got a lucky break. Don’t rub it in too hard.
        Besides, if someone really is as proud and in-sensible as all that, they aren’t going to hear you no matter how loudly you scream.
        Not that anyone is screaming. Twentysidedtale is famously scream-free.

        • Klay F. says:

          Okay, yeah, bad choice of words on my part. What I meant was, Casey Hudson started out just as your typical artist at Bioware. Then suddenly, he jumps up to being Director for KOTOR. I don’t pretend to know what goes on at Bioware, but from an outsider’s perspective, it definitely raised an eyebrow. Personally, I’d like to know what the hell he did for NWN and BG2 that proved he could also be a lead writer.

        • anaphysik says:

          AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

          Oops, sorry guys, I think I just used up our only scream for the year :(
          Well, at least it was near Halloween :P

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Besides, if someone really is as proud and in-sensible as all that, they aren’t going to hear you no matter how loudly you scream.”

          The extended cut is proof that thats not true.Although,the screaming people were a bit disorganized,so the extended cut isnt really much of an improvement.

          • anaphysik says:

            Heh, I think the extended cut (that we got, and Bioware’s attitudes surrounding it) *IS* proof that that’s true.

          • Raygereio says:

            I fail to see how that is proof seeing as the extended cut didn’t fix any of the problems of the ending, just applied some handwavium to ensure there was still a mass effect setting post-ME3 and even managed to make things worse in some places.

    • StashAugustine says:

      Re: romances: I’m liking that so far in Dragon Age, I’ve managed to get my Warden in a romance with Alistair without actually sleeping with him. But it did bother me a lot in Mass Effect.

      • Lame Duck says:

        I was about to say that I thought ME1 did OK in that you didn’t sleep with your romantic interest until right before the last battle, but then I remembered that in the Spolier Warning season Shepard slept with Ashley without really having a romance at all. So yeah, ME1 did badly.

        • Klay F. says:

          One of the things it was easy to miss in ME1 was the fact that you could actually romance the characters and NOT sleep with them if you didn’t want to. It took me multiple playthroughs to realize that if you refuse to bump uglies right before Ilos, the game still considers you to be in a relationship during ME2.

          • anaphysik says:

            Oh really? Because in hindsight I totally thought that my first (never used as import) playthrough’s Shep had friend-zoned Kaiden :P

          • swenson says:

            Yes, precisely. I’m not sure if you can do that again in ME2, but it’s definitely possible in ME1. You still get the picture on your desk in and the “I loved you” lines in ME2 and all. In fact, I suspect the game doesn’t track it at all, as the LI will make some remark about “that night” even if you never slept with them (so… what, you had a really intense makeout session instead?). The only difference is you don’t actually get the Paramour achievement (which is weird and stupid–the romance was successfully completed, as far as I’m concerned. Sex is not a necessary component.).

            • StashAugustine says:

              Yeah, I’d heard you could get involved in a romance without sleeping together in ME1, but that it was a bug.

              …Or if you’re cynical, that they didn’t care in ME2.

      • It’s very rare for a romantic relationship to not involve sex. It may be rarer for introverts. But hardly anyone in ME are. (Jack is pretty messed up as well to boot).

        The Tali romance for example let you choose to get physicial or not (not doing so basically puts it on the backburner because you are worried she might get sick or get infections).

        In fact if you do not have sec with Tali near the end of ME2, but you do in ME3, that romance “arch” is probably one of the best such archs in any game I can recall right now, as it feels “natural” in it’s pacing.

        Jack jumping into the sack so quickly fits her personality (how damaged she is).

        Games like those BioWare make will never match the hentai anime games which are based around relationship romances that borders on simulations sometimes.

        Complaining that you can get in the sack with a love interest is counter intuitive.
        Complaining that the romantic relationship isn’t deep enough however is more logical and something BioWare might do.

        I would hate to see the option of getting in the sack removed,
        but I would have no issue with being able to go deeper into the relationship/romance arch (beyond just the sex).

        But complaining it’s too easy is silly, aliens have one night stands as well you know, how would Yoda otherwise get born?.

        • Isy says:

          Didn’t sleeping with Jack too quickly destroy your relationship with her?

          • Jakey says:

            Yeah. You can do it in like literally the first personal conversation you have with her, but then she figures you out as yet another dickhead who just wanted to have sex with her and spends the rest of the time pissed off with you.

            By a nice comparison, the actual romance scene has her merely break down and emotionally expose herself to you and doesn’t even have any sex f I recall correctly.

        • Cody211282 says:

          It’s rather funny that Bioware can get the sex right, but drops the ball almost everywhere else.

          I also support having romance arcs that don’t end with “and now we have sex.” Hell for a lot of relationships this happens closer to the beginning then the end of it.

          • False Prophet says:

            It’s the bad genre/pulp school of writing where the love interest is just the hero’s trophy for defeating the menace. Not a character with separate motivations and ideals from the hero, with whom they eventually find some sort of common ground or emotion, but don’t exist solely to orbit the hero’s sun. For all its faults, some of the relationship plots in Dragon Age 2 at least strove for the latter.

            • Cody211282 says:

              for as much as I love to bash on it DA2 did feel like a rather nice step forward with the relationships in the game, though just like everything else they fall apart when put up against the time jumps and well……. Act 3.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              I mean, it’s a little risky, but The Prize…

              Oh, Jacob. If not for that scene, you’d have fallen into obscurity.

              • Cody211282 says:

                Out of all the memes that ME2 made that was by far my favorite.

                Though it probably helps that I liked Jacob, just because having a no nonsense ex military type was rather nice, at least for me.

        • False Prophet says:

          They could at least bring up potential relationship complications. Like why is Shepard so willing to fraternize with subordinates? Are there no protocols for this in the Alliance military? If not, why? Even if the future of Mass Effect is different than ours, explaining why it’s different would at least be a good way to drop in some setting lore while doing character development.

          • Indy says:

            In the first game, Ashley says “There are regs against this kind of thing, you know.” That’s all we get. That’s all anyone gets.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              You can’t apply the regs TO MY HEART!!!

              Besides, I don’t know of any regs against sweet, sweet asari McLovin’.

              • Lame Duck says:

                To be fair, the point at which they do go full-blown romance is after they’ve defied orders, stolen the Normandy and are on the brink of galaxy’s destruction. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at that point to decide that they don’t care about breaking military regulations.

            • lasslisa says:

              There was a whole thing with Kaiden where you talk about how you really are fond of each other but can’t have any sort of relationship because of rules against fraternization. But maybe, someday, when you’re not in a military hierarchy relative to each other… And then you get kicked out of the military! I thought it held together pretty well to be honest.

        • lurkey says:

          I prefer to think you don’t get realistic romances in video games for the same reason you don’t get realistic wounds or realistic bodily functions – it would be boring and take additional (boring) time. Seriously, people – do you really want flirting that looks stupid to everyone else, awkward movie dates, hours-long phone conversations, doing dishes, banging on toilet door, farts in bed? Really? Well, then have I got a game for you – the Sims. For all your “lets bring some chores, routine and tedium into games” needs!

      • Bubble181 says:

        This may sound strange to a LOT of people, but I actually liked the way they handle it in The Witcher *waits for laughter to die out*
        You could easily have sex with pretty much all of the attractive women in the game (well, there’s two you can’t have in the same playthrough…), but a relationship was harder – only possible with one or two people who stayed with you a long time; and sex wasn’tn ecessarily an important part in it.

        Not exactly *my* RL sexual life or relationship life, but, for someone with Geralt’s personality, actually realistic.

    • Here’s my most relevant experience over romance in the Mass Effect game:

      I was more upset when my fish died than I was when I realized I forgot to have sex with someone in ME1.

  8. TonyKebell says:

    Next series should be the Max Payne Trilogy.

    • StashAugustine says:

      Seconded.

    • A good suggestion, but Spec Ops: The Line would be good as well, and since the way it’s plot is made any flaws will stand out so much more.
      Likewise you have Obsidian’s Alpha Protocol, nice plot and choices mechanics but lacks polish and has a few issues.

      Max Payne 3 while interesting and “ok”, is nothing like it’s previous franchise games, if anything Max Payne 3 looks like a reboot without actually being a reboot, it could easily have been called “The Merc” or something.

      Spec Ops: The Line and Alpha Protocol are new IP’s, while similar to your generic FPS they have several features that make then stand out.
      One hit pretty much all the right notes it tried to do, but the gameplay was a tad bland (nothing you have not seen in most shooters over the years) but plot/narration is beyond most shooters, and then pointing out the flaw of what a “player” is, is just brilliant.
      The other lacks polish, but plot/narration is also good, and it gives choices that actually have consequences.

      Both are standalone IPs, but they have franchise potentials (either as continuation and thus sequels, or as taking place in the same “universe” keeping key elements)

      I suspect that both these are on the Spoiler Warning “pick list” which must be getting rather large now.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        Were it not for the timed conversations, Alpha Protocol would be a pretty great choice, if you ask me. There are so many ways for Josh to just screw everyone and everything over while still keeping the story going. It would be hilarious.

        • AJ_Wings says:

          Oh yes. The number of people you can screw over in that game is borderline hilarious. If it weren’t for shoddy stealth, hacking and shooting mechanics, I would’ve finished it. That’s why Josh should endure suffering for us by doing Alpha Protocol!

          I would also love to see them cover Max Payne and Metro.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Personally,I would love for walking dead to be the next game,because of the sharp contrast with this game(in so many ways).

      • Are all “episodes” complete then? If not then such a play-through can not be done unless all episodes have been released/been made available.
        I see on Wikipedia that it’s 5 episodes. Length wise would 5 eps of Walking Dead equal the Mass Effect Trilogy? or just one ME game? The Walking Dead episodes are a lot shorter both story an d gameplay wise right? I also see a season two will be made, which is the first time I’ve ever heard of a “game” getting a “season 2″, funny!

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Episode 5 should be next month,so by the time they finish this it should all be out there.

          Yes,telltale releases their games in seasons.They did it like that with sam&max.

          • nerdpride says:

            I suggest Baldur’s Gate or KotOR or some other “loved” Bioware game. Because some of the things (although not sex scenes or virtual reality, I’m thinking more like cheap plot moves) are things I vaguely remember from previous games which got accolades.

            Not that I care enough to document everything.

            • ehlijen says:

              I believe they tried KOTOR but couldn’t get the video feed to work?

              For the BG engine games, I think the graphics wouln’t be clear enough to have viewers be able to actually follow the game along with the commentary. At least I think that’s what’d happen. Otherwise BG and Fallout should be on the list.

      • Cody211282 says:

        Considering the very fun save bug(that is currently making the game impossible for me to play)has yet to be addressed, I think trying to run it on Joshes computer might be asking for way to much.

    • Indy says:

      Dishonored may be fresh, but it would be fun seeing Josh play a classic Thief-type sneak-or-don’t game. It does have the problem of audio-logs and text-logs but I think we can get over it.

  9. Actually, Legion will tell you in ME2 that the hole in his chest was from a rifle shot when he was scouting Eden Prime while searching for you. He claims he used your old armor to try to patch up the hole. :)

  10. Wraith says:

    My species has a word for when people make up lame excuses for not putting in all the work required to make something make sense.

    LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY

  11. Johan says:

    “The SR3 version has broader and more interesting visuals. It also has varied gameplay. In ME3 you just walk through a linear one-note orange and teal world and shoot a gun at passive orange blobs to activate exposition.”
    Wait, varied gameplay in the SR3 matrix level? I hated that level entirely BECAUSE the gameplay turned into a 1 note corridor shooter.

    How can you kill people in the SR3 “real” world? Use melee weapons, use grenades, run them over in a car, punch them, use shotgun, use rifle, use pistol, use drone strike, throw them off of buildings
    How can you kill people in the matrix? Use the one gun they give you

    What do you fight in the “real” world? Guyz with gunz, luchadors with grenade spam, anime girls with giant hammers, Brutes, Brutes with miniguns, Brutes with flamethrowers
    What do you fight in the matrix? Guyz with gunz

    Obviously the bossfight at the end is better, but the majority of that level is, for me, a nightmarishly boring slog, and the quirky gameplay callbacks (the tank and the text adventure) weren’t enough to make me like the level as a whole, when the vast majority

    • anaphysik says:

      Heheh, don’t forget the God-of-War gameplay intermingled into the boss fight.

    • Tse says:

      Couldn’t you awesome button melee in the Matrix? It’s been a while and I may have forgotten, but I think you could.

      • Johan says:

        I remember trying to take human shields and failing, and I thought I couldn’t use my melee either, though maybe I’m misremembering. Still, turning wacky mayhem into a 1 gun, 1 enemy was not my idea of varied gameplay

    • Alex says:

      You know what annoys me most about SR3’s Tron world? The tank controls were backwards.

      The Asp minigame is a top-down game where the WASD keys map to Drive Forwards/Turn Left/Drive Backwards/Turn Right.

      The tanks in the real world are the standard follow camera where the WASD keys map to Drive-or-Turn-Away-From-the-Camera/Drive-or-Turn-Left/Drive-or-Turn-Towards-the-Camera/Drive-or-Turn-Right.

      Since the minigame has a constant frame of reference, simply making the WASD keys mean North/West/South/East would have been easy, and would have been more true to the retro look of the minigame.

      Since the real world gameplay doesn’t have a constant frame of reference, every time you turn the turret (which you’ll be doing all the time) it changes the controls. Too often the tank will stop moving to turn, even if you’re just trying to keep moving. Replacing that with the car-like controls of the minigame would have made it a lot easier to make the tank do what you wanted.

  12. SleepingDragon says:

    I have a few problems with this section. It may be because I’ve replayed ME2 not very long before ME3 came out but to me, and this is a very strong case of varying mileage, it felt like they were shoving the whole “geth ain’t evil, quarians were unfair to them (to say the least)” exposition down my throat a bit too hard. Almost as if it was supposed to be a big reveal of some sort after fighting the geth for a while. I theorized about this earlier but maybe this was aimed at people who didn’t play the first two games and would easily fall for the “rebelling AI” trope?

    Also “oh, I’m going to actually interact with the geth on their turf. Like, get as close to how they perceive the world as possible for my human senses”… and then the above happens.

  13. guy says:

    I sided with Raan my first playthrough, because, well, after his previous spectacular and total failure I was inclined to suspect that the correct decision in any scenario was whichever one Gerral supported.

  14. Naota says:

    Poor Chris, making a Bastion reference at the perfect moment that nobody picked up on.

    Proper story’s supposed to start at the beginning. Ain’t so simple with this one.

    Now here’s a comm whose whole world got all twisted, leavin’ her stranded in a computer system.

    Ground forms up under her feet as if pointin’ the way. She don’t stop to wonder why.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Then, she falls to her death… Only kidding.

      • Bryan says:

        Oh, Josh definitely *tried* to fall to his death a lot in that sequence, though who knows how much of that was the “awesome button” deciding to do a rolling dive at the wrong time. Looks like they put invisible walls at the edge of the platforms, to stop exactly that.

        Mind you, I have no idea what falling to your death would actually do in this VR thing, so maybe they figured the same thing, and said “forget it; we’ll just put an invisible wall there”. Mind you, I’d have tried to fix the “awesome button” instead…

    • anaphysik says:

      I love Bastion so much, but anytime someone references the “Now here’s a kid whose whole world got all twisted” line, for some reason my mind just traipses right into the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song. “Now this is the story all about how/My life got flipped, turned upside down”

      Honestly, someone should do a mash-up of the two :P

      EDIT: No really, let’s totally do that!:

      Now this is the story all about how
      Kid’s life got flipped, turned upside down
      And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
      I’ll tell you how he became the fixer of a town that floats in the air

      In west Caelondia born and raised
      On the parapets where he spent most of his days

    • I know right? I sat there thinking “awww…” :(

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I have to ask:Why was this a trilogy and not a single game?Nothing you do in me1 and 2 makes any meaningful impact on me3.

    You kill benezia and saren,and nobody gives a fuck.You deal with the rachni,only to have them come back in 3 and you repeat the exact same choice.You show everyone what reapers are,only for no to believe you,nor prepare,until the reapers come in full force.And your attempts to delay them,twice,ended up being futile because everyone is an idiot.You install your own version of the council,only to have it be replaced by the default 3 races+udina in 3.You choose kaiden or ashley,only to have them be exact copies in 3,even so far that kaiden is gay,so that you can romance him with male shepard because shut up.You deal with a potential cure for genophage,twice,only to have that same choice offered to you again.You deal with geth heretics,only for them to become heretics once more,and for you to solve it again.You deal with the reaper baby,only to have it appear again.You become the only living person who understands prothean language,only for it to become forgotten,and for you to get an actual living prothean(though in a dlc).

    So why the fuck was this a trilogy instead of a single game?This is the mother of all paddings,and people are actually praising bioware for it.Though,I must admit,having 40 hours of story and 80 hours of padding is a feat.

    • RTBones says:

      I think this touches on one of the reasons this game bugs me – it feels to me like this is a singular game, and not the end of a trilogy. Its like the devs forgot, ignored, didnt know, or didnt WANT to know their own lore in an effort to finish the trilogy. Its like someone decided that what came before doesnt matter because its going to end.

    • About benezia, no/yes it does appear in conversation with Liara and her “dad”, that particular “companion quest” could have been expanded through the 3 games though.

      As to saren, yeah it would have been nice to see some parts of ME2 or ME3 point back to that some more, maybe even help reveal some reaper plot (did anyone “search saren’s home” ? that would have been a cool task for Shepard (the player) to do etc in ME2 or 3.

      The rachni, that did disappoint me, if you had killed the rachni queen it would have been ok, but if you set her free it makes no sense that she is captured again, even if a tad lazy, having to help her against a “cerberus” fake queen would have been interesting. Also, rachni space combat (or at the very least a swarm of them ripping a reaper apart would have been cool to see).

      The council, yeah that is kinda silly, and BioWare could have “fixed” it easily by the council fully supporting shepard but having issues with convincing the other politicians of each species. Heck maybe Shepard would have to run around convincing them (and doing menial tasks RPG style too boot) rather than all the Cerberus and collector mess in ME2.

      Ashley and Kaiden could have been different, if they both had different fates in ME3 that would increase re-playability.

      genophage choice twice, that wasn’t so bad as it the second time is even more important, and depending on the choice in the previous game things do feel different, at le3ast in my case. Then again the phage and the geth plots could easily be each their own games.

      The human reaper “war asset” thing could have been dropped entirely and nobody would have missed it. Or at least if you destroyed it, it would make sense if it wasn’t still around.

      prothean language potential annoyed me. In one playthrough I made sure to kill off one character so that I would be the only one that could understand prothean (Liara’s mind reading could not read more than you actually allow her so not a big issue).
      Sadly BioWare never took advantage of that (they could have as the needed gamestate to track track was actually being tracked (and saved) as in ME2 and ME3 there are min or things that are different, but not the language part.)
      Another thing is that it would have been nice (with the DLC) if you where the only one that could talk/understand Prothean and this would keep the Prothean kinda off balance when talking to you. (or seeing you almost as a kinsman).

      As to padding. The ratio of “padding” vs “story” is actually pretty well balanced. Pacing can probably be adjusted in many places, and some exposition spread further apart or more evenly.

      The issue I have are all the missed opportunities, some things would only need minor tweaks, while other would need larger changes.
      Maybe more design/planning time would have improved things, I do not know.

      I think the Mass Effect trilogy is probably the best game trilogy so far that I can recall, with GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA: San Andreas, close behind though not really a trilogy as such.
      And in the Science Fiction genre it’s flexing it’s muscles in the face of Star Wars.

      The ME trilogy was very much an experiement. It is clear that the save states carried over from game to game was far from as impactful as people though or hoped, and their impact on the ME3 ending non-existent. (you still had two/three/(4 with extended end) choices regardless how you played through ME1 and ME2 and ME3.

      BioWare should have avoided the “unified plot path end” needed to set up the start of the ME4 universe state. They should have kept one canon “end” that ME4 would use as starting point for backstory/universe state, and then a myriad of variations ranging from min or to really weird depending on ME1, ME2, and ME3 choices.

      Myself I was hoping for a non-canon alternate end where Shepard ended up almost being a god of the galaxy, ruling all and some repercussions of that (positive or negative depending on how).

      It would also have been nice with a “retirement” ending where Shepard settled down with their love interest and had kids and so on. (did I hear half the net squeal just now?)

      Personally I’d even accept if the unified “ending” for ME3 was just made a single cannon ending instead with no “color choice” at all, instead the choices through ME1-ME3 would affect the collateral damage and be visually shown during the long end combat run (after the cerberus base is done) rather than War Asset stats.

      Deus Ex: Human Revolution did the 3 buttons (rather than colors) choices (+ a 4th “hidden” one), ME3 doing the same seems kinda silly IMO.

      KoTOR’s two endings are largely unified (same set-pieces, similar encounters and fighting) but it still manages to diverge enough that it feels like two different endings, ME3 team had way more resources than the KoTOR team.

      In Mass Effect 4 I want one canon ending (which will be the base for a Mass Effect 5), but I also want at least one diverging ending.
      If the hero (player) becomes a galactic hero, I also want the potential of becoming a galactic villain.
      If Mass Effect 4 is on a lesser scale (maybe we’ll play as a Quarian or Turian?) then a canon ending where we become the hero/king/queen/emperor of the people, and another non-canon where we can become the dictator of the oppressed people, or destroyer of the species.
      Also Mass Effect 4 should let use see what becomes of the companions.
      Dragon Age: Origins does this pretty well, and with the expansions you get a very strong narrative and plot with the Morrigan. (DA:O had no “evil” ending as far as I recall and it still felt ok, you also got some conclusion text for the companions)

      Maybe they overcomplicated the design and did not have enough time to do it all.

      BioWare make awesome games, the issue however is that there is so much missed potential. If that potential was taken advantage of we’d see BioWare buying up EA instead if you know what I mean.

      There is nothing worse than missed potential, because with a trilogy like ME 1,2,3, it will probably many decades before a re-make would be viable that can address the missed potentials, if the trilogy will me re-made ever at all that is.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “genophage choice twice, that wasn’t so bad as it the second time is even more important, and depending on the choice in the previous game things do feel different, at le3ast in my case. Then again the phage and the geth plots could easily be each their own games.”

        Dont get me wrong,the wrex thing in 1 was awesome,and so was mordins loyalty,and I already said that tuchanka mission in 3 was also good(that worm on reaper action aside).Which is weird,because that third one is basically the same choices from the previous two yet again.

        “I think the Mass Effect trilogy is probably the best game trilogy so far that I can recall, with GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA: San Andreas, close behind though not really a trilogy as such.”

        Well,if you are going to count the expansions,then baldurs gate 1+2+throne of bhaal would be my pick.Or starcraft+brood wars+wings of liberty(in a few years,probably the whole of starcraft 2,but Im not going to jinx it).Or warcraft 2+3+the frozen throne.Or heroes of might and magic 3+armageddons blade+the shadow of death.Or kings bounty the legend+armored princess+warriors of the north.Actually,if we are going to count the expansions,I can think of plethora of trilogies that top mass effect.

        Granted,none of those did what mass effect did with continuity,and that is quite admirable.But plenty of other games did admirable things,yet didnt get so much praise.And frankly,Id rather praise FEAR for its ai than mass effect for its continuity.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I disagree with the notion that ME3 should have had one unifying canonical ending because I quite frankly feel that the trilogy doesn’t need to be expanded on.

        What I wanted is for my choices to have a greater impact. Again, I would have loved a three-game, galaxy spanning logical extension of ME2’s suicide mission. Hell, with the concept of War Assets and forging alliances, it practically wrote itself. Then you could follow it up with a New Vegas/Extended Cut-style epilogue to show the aftermath of all that you’ve done.

        That would’ve been absolutely beautiful to me. You’ve made your choices, forged alliances, and directed the war against the Reapers, now step back and witness the consequences of your actions.

    • swenson says:

      To be fair, if you jump straight from “Shepard is maybe going to be a Spectre someday!” to “THE REAPERS ARE ATTACKING–WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE–COMPLETELY UNTESTED RECRUIT, GO SAVE US ALL”, it would be rather… jarring. There needs to be time in there. Shepard needs to build up respect and abilities. Shepard goes from basically just a good soldier to a diplomat who repeatedly is forced to make tough calls and becomes a leader. That’s where Shepard needs to be for the endgame, and I don’t think it could be done effectively in a single game.

      Furthermore, the invasion itself would be too fast. You wouldn’t have time to get used to the universe and care about it before everything started exploding. ME3 relied pretty heavily on players having a connection to what came before. Newcomers simply wouldn’t care about making peace with the geth and quarians, or understand the significance of curing the genophage. Or take Thessia, which I just replayed today. There’s a whole lot of stupid there, but the whole reveal that the asari are only more advanced because of the Protheans (double if Javik is along), that only has an impact if the player has played the previous games and knows that the asari are respected and all. Again, I feel that you need to be eased into the full-scale invasion.

      Now, granted, ME2 was pretty pointless except to set up Cerberus, which we all could’ve done without anyway. So maybe it could be condensed to two games, but one… one would just be too short.

      • Indy says:

        It didn’t need to be full scale war. It could have ended at the prelude to invasion that was Saren/Sovereign’s tale. The first game didn’t set up a time when the invasion would happen. It just said “They Are Coming.” You could go anywhere from there,and Bioware chose to dick around for a month before “Everywhere’s dead”.

  16. Henson says:

    Okay, when I read “the SR3 version” I totally thought you were talking about an updated version of the Normandy SR2 frigate.

  17. Some of the issues here with ME3 might also be due to size/cost/time.
    I can’t even imagine what “Next Gen consoles” will do to the game industry.
    The Xbox 360 and PS3 are far from having it’s hardware fully utilized yet.

    If you want photo realistic then current gen isn’t good enough, but then neither is next gen. Current gen consoles (with the new Wii Nintendo is on equal footing) is capable of things like Mass Effect 3, Spec Ops: The Line GTA IV, etc.

    And think about upcoming GTA V which (Max Payne 3 used the same engine as GTA IV) has an even more improved engine. And I’m sure that Rockstar could probably improve the engine even more and make a GTA VI that looks and plays even better than upcoming GTA V.

    Optimized code, improve techniques/maths, procedural ideas, new ways to handle data.

    Not to mention that the “older” current gen gets, the cheaper it is to make games for them, which means games can have better and bigger content that previously.

    I’m hoping that the new PS4 is simply a redesigned PS3, and that the Xbox 720 (or Xbox 3 ?) is a redesigned Xbox 360 with Full HD (1920×1080 3D (60*2 Hz) capable HDMI and Displayport).

    We are already seeing the same with PC’s, only performance addicts go for the cutting edge. You really have to fork out insane amounts of cash to get any large performance gain. Paying double the price for a 10% performance increase is not worth it. If you pay twice the money then you should at least get twice the performance (200% aka 2x).

    A good mid-end 3ghz and 4/6/8 core CPU, a good mid-end 1GB/1.5GB/2GB memory GFX card, and 4/6/8 GB DDR3 system memory and a half a terra to two terra HD size total, and a 22 inch 1920×1080 FullHD screen minimum and you should be well set. No current games actually fully utilizes that hardware. Not even Crysis (which is not actually optimized).

    The industry need to slow down to make sure everyone catches up, and THEN jump the tech forward, then let everyone catch up and THEN jump the tech again. As it is now everyone (consumers, developers, manufacturers) are all playing catch up which is costly, inefficient, time consuming, and cause quality issues.

    • Rodyle says:

      What I hope most for the PS4 is improved support for the cell CPUs. They’re really something, and if they just are easier to code for, they’d be a good step forward.
      As for the computers: I built a 800 dollar thing (including two screens) which runs basically everything at good framerates at good settings.

      But I do agree: we should stop trying to make stuff prettier and focus on making a more efficient pipeline for making games. There’s no future in the amounts of money forked into games these days unless they want to up the prices even further.

  18. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    I rather hoped that the details of the Morning War would remain hidden in the mysts of time so that we had to solve the war less on moralistic chest beating and more on “it’s over and in the past -and we have bigger fish to fry.” This, I think, would have been a more serious way of dealing with it. Even today, we still argue over who started WWI, and that one is fairly well documented.

    • Raygereio says:

      Well, to be fair: the true causes of WWI are a big fuzzy here and there. That whole business was a giant clusterfuck with roots stretching back well into 19th century.

      • Well the second paragraph of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I explains it rather well.
        Ii certainly does not look much more messy than the Gulf War/Desert Storm/Iraqi war stuff.
        But now we’re drifting into politics land here, so I’ll stop there.

        • Raygereio says:

          Politics != history.

          It certainly does not look much more messy than the Gulf War/Desert Storm/Iraqi war stuff.

          That’s because that paragraph you mentioned is woefully incomplete and does not do the absurdity of WW1 any justice. Try this lenghty article. It’s a start.
          Fun fact: the Gulf War’s cause can be directly traced back to World War 1.

          • Politics != history is actually false, lots of politics in history.
            Also, if you mean Politics != war then that is also false as wars are caused by one (or more) of three things.

            I call these the three evils of the world: Money, Politics, Religion.
            People kill daily for any of them, wars are fought for at minimum one of them and usually two, world wars and genocide for two or all three of them. All three are also human constructs, they do not exist naturally (food, life, death, sex, communication, happiness, sadness, and many more, all these existed before the three, happiness and sadness may be a human abstract but animals do feel something akin to that.).

            • anaphysik says:

              “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” -von Clausewitz
              Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln. – the original quote is more like ‘War is *merely* the continuation of politics by other means.’

              However, I think we can presume that Shamus’ (wise and gracious) ban on politics is meant to cover *modern* politics, and the idiocy that flows when debates in that field are held, whether irl or over the interwebs. Presumably, academic discussion regarding historical political motivations and tenets would not be verboten.

            • Raygereio says:

              Politics != history is actually false, lots of politics in history.
              Also, if you mean Politics != war then that is also false as wars are caused by one (or more) of three things.

              What I meant (and probably just should have outright said) was that you can talk about history – stuff that happened in the past – without turning it into “this political party is stupid” nonsense which is what discussion about politics on the Internet pretty much is.

        • swenson says:

          Yeah… that is a really, really simplified, Baby’s First World War version. You could bring in stuff like the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and subsequent divvying up of the Balkans, the long-standing rivalries between France and Germany or France and England, technological advancements that conspired to give us the machine gun, barbed wire, tanks, and airplanes all at the same time… the list goes on. The causes stretch back hundreds of years, and it’s what makes it so hard to say that one side was “right” and the other was “wrong”.

          Rather like what they were trying to do with the Morning War (but failed to do by making the geth too sympathetic).

        • ehlijen says:

          All of history is messy. It doesn’t have breakpoints in the plot.

          And you can’t just say that the length of time the immediate related facts go back to is an indication of how messy it is; as travel and communication times decrease, the pace of events will pick up. Instantaneous world wide communication has, if nothing else, cut a lot of travel time out of international negotiations. And the ability for countries to threaten each other with fast planes has necessiated such communication speeds.

          History is exactly as messy as it’s always been. But these days everyone gets to watch it to the benny hill tune.

          • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            I don’t know if I made my point clear enough.

            This is what I was meaning -making the Morning War such an exercise in “the geth were clearly wronged by the Evil Quarians” has the same “babies first World War” vibe to it that makes it seem crass and manipulative and not at all compelling.

            We have the reapers to be clearly wrong.

            We want geth and quarians to have conflict, but both have a strong case that needs to be sorted. Not have the quarians acting so stupidly that letting the geth wipe them out starts to seem reasonable.

            • False Prophet says:

              So you’re saying something like–and correct if I’m wrong–the “geth were wronged by the quarians” is analogous to saying “World War I was caused by the Germans being evil conquerors, those damned Huns!”

              When what would be better would be the Morning War equivalent of “Europe was almost polarized in an alliance system that threatened to drag multiple Great Powers into the next national dispute, and the fervour of 19th-century nationalism saw Russia obligated to rush to Serbia’s defense in the name of Pan-Slavism, while Austria-Hungary couldn’t afford balkanization and their one man who might have sympathized with the Serbian nationalists was killed in Sarajevo, and France was eager to avenge its humiliation in the Franco-Prussian War, and Britain was tired of being seen as everyone else’s villain and was willing to point fingers elsewhere, and everyone had been collecting a lot of new shiny, lethal war toys and were eager to see them put to use, etc., etc…”–crap, I must have made at least two mistakes in there.

              • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                Yes. We can have strong priors about which side is more to blame and whether one side is effectively blameless, but the history itself isn’t as definitive.

                • Mike S. says:

                  I’m of two minds on the Mass Effect presentation. In ME3, the player is most directly faced with quarian intransigence and geth victimhood. But it’s at least possible for the player to observe that the victimhood is primarily communicated by records that the geth present and edit (this sequence, plus conversations with Legion, a geth platform specifically designed for interaction with organics). The quarians are more of a warts and all– or possibly even warts-only– picture. (As presented it’s pretty clear that the quarians couldn’t do PR if they were presented with the org chart of an ancient Prothean PR firm centuries in advance of the current state of the art.)

                  Given that, it is possible to examine both sources critically rather than at face value. (And then to weigh historical fairness, current rights and wrongs, and simple realpolitik considerations of the most valuable outcome re the larger war and choose any of the three possible outcomes.)

                  I don’t know to what extent it’s intended or expected that the geth be treated skeptically, though. And similarly, the writers made a deliberate choice not to present Shepard with quarian civilians, or to reintroduce well-liked characters like Kal’Reegar or innocent-seeming ones like the various quarians Shepard encountered in previous games.

                  I’m still not sure if that’s because they wanted to put their thumb on the scale for the geth, or if they just overestimated the starting pro-quarian bias (they’re more relatable, Tali’s been your bud for two games, the geth were introduced as enemies, etc.) and so overdid the balancing.

                  • newdarkcloud says:

                    On the other hand, Shepard takes the Reaper’s words at face value in the ending, why not the Geth’s.

                    Bioware did not intend for you to think critically. They just wanted you to think “Evil Quarians” the whole time.

                    • anaphysik says:

                      Note, of course, that it’s not at all unreasonable for *us* to think and discuss critically the topics at hand. But as ndc states, we should keep well in mind how poorly Bioware’s writers handled events.

                      It’s better this way: our excursions have been far more fun and interesting.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      I don’t know– I haven’t played it through, but the “kill all quarians” ending sounds pretty wrenching, unlike, say, killing all the Collectors in ME2. (I’m guessing I’ll get to find out how wrenching in an episode or two, actually.)

                      The way they’re portrayed seems to be for either choice to be fairly terrible, with one of your companions potentially there to put a face on the species you’re helping kill. In contrast, choosing Green is clearly framed as the Good Ending, with nothing to undercut the Catalyst’s reassurances, however much many/most of us may have recoiled from that idea. (And we don’t get anyone doing body horror reactions to being forcibly implanted with unknown tech.)

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      @anaphysik: Yeah. That’s what I meant to say. Critical Thinking is a great thing and I would highly encourage it. However, we should realize that Bioware had no intent to be subtle. They don’t anticipate that people will think critically and analyze the situations Shepard is put in, else they would’ve done many things differently.

                      @Mike S.: I guess. But they don’t really do much in the “pro-Quarian” light besides “You like Tali, right? Do you want to see Tali look sad? No, well then you know what to do!”

  19. anaphysik says:

    @1:33: Gerrel has the FUCKING NERVE to blame *you* for quarians dying during this idiotic war. *I-CAN’T-TAKE-THE-HYPOCRISY FACEPALM!*

    Yes, that facepalm really was done in the manner of TTGL attacks.

  20. Thanks a lot Shamus. I watched A Day in the Life of Max Payne.
    And now I’ve seen this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALbQQzePzt4 (How I play Skyrim)
    besides laughing a lot and as a long time CRPGer is see myself, I’m now stuck watching this guys videos. darnit.

  21. Neko says:

    The visuals of the tron world – cold, alien blue landscapes with techno-orange highlights – could actually work really well if only the “real world” didn’t look exactly the same.

    • The Blue vs Orange in Tron date back to the original Tron movie and was used to provide a “binary” contrast between good and evil. (and is used to good effect by the hero when he assumes the “look” of the enemy at one point).

      But yes, limited color palettes is darn annoying if over used or used wrongly.

  22. Bryan says:

    Er. What the heck happened to Shepard’s shoulders from 8:41 to 8:44? Was that supposed to be a shrug, and was just done poorly, or did the Bug Whisperer strike again?

  23. Is this EA/Bioware giving themselves a chance to make people shoot up a game of Minecraft?

  24. Vect says:

    On the subject of Kai Leng… I don’t recommend the group to read anything about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Although last I heard Shamus was somewhat contemptuous of the Metal Gear series, I think him seeing Cyborg Ninja Raiden (the inspiration for ME3 Kai Leng) would cause him to have an aneurysm.

  25. Vect says:

    On the subject of Kai Leng… I don’t recommend the group to read anything about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Although last I heard Shamus was somewhat contemptuous of the Metal Gear series, I think him seeing Cyborg Ninja Raiden (the inspiration for ME3 Kai Leng) would cause him to have an aneurysm.

  26. Indy says:

    While you have been complaining about the graphical choices in this game, I do have to congratulate you on always getting the great shots for the YouTube still image. The one for this has great foreground definition, it’s showing something alien and weird, it works far better than the gameplay that follows it. A lot of the past episodes also have great stills, the pre-fab town, Shepard in the War Room, even Shepard staring at a door from the first game has some very appealing graphical qualities.

    So why does this game not look good? Over-use of blue/orange colouring can’t be it. Lack of lighting maybe?

  27. Hal says:

    Did anybody play Tron 2.0? I did way back when, and gave it another go when Tron Legacy was released.

    While it definitely suffers from the rather ho-hum visual problem being ascribed above, it had its high points.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I liked tron 2.0.Some very nice ideas that game has.

    • Pattom says:

      I still have my copy of Tron 2.0. The subroutine system is a surprisingly smart way of implementing RPG mechanics in a shooter, especially since each weapon counts as its own skill to be upgraded. It’s not a Deus Ex-style game by any means, but you do get some lee-way in terms of character customization (skills-wise).

      What do you mean by ho-hum visuals? The first half of the game has a broad color palette, as I remember, though by the end you do start seeing a lot more monochrome areas: infected server is green world, corporate server is purple world, etc.

      • Hal says:

        Do a Google image search for Tron 2.0. The screenshots that you see show us a world that is, by and large, monochromatic. Every area tends to be black, white, and whatever color that area is (red, purple, blue, etc.) In places where there is a lot of detail to the surroundings, this isn’t terrible, but in some parts of the game it looks incredibly spartan. Either way, navigating the game can be confusing at times.

        Look at this screenshot, for example. Purple. Purple everywhere. Yes, you get the idea that you shoot the moving humanoid purple shape, but it’s visually . . . boring.

        • Pattom says:

          I’m afraid that link doesn’t work for me, but after doing the Google search… yeah. Those look a lot flatter than I remember. It seems silly to be surprised that a screenshot is less dynamic than watching it play, so what I’m probably remembering is all the extra stuff filling those spaces. The environment is one color, the enemies are a different one (depending on the level), your weapons a third, then the power-ups, and the collectibles enemies drop… most objects only come in one color, but when the game hits its stride, there’s so many things to look at that it doesn’t seem that bad.

          That’s my defense, anyway. I’ll also say that I do remember the game’s last few levels being much worse about this, with the infected server being Green World and the corporate server being Purple World.

  28. The Unforgiven says:

    Question for Josh. You talked about Metro 2033, and I was wondering how that game ended. I never really played the game myself, but I did read the book and I’m curious how the book’s ending and the game’s ending compare, since I’d argue that the book had a bad ending.

    • Weimer says:

      (You didn’t ask me so I apologise if I intrude)
      (Mild spoilers)

      I assume the book’s ending was Artyom kills the dark ones?

      The game has two endings, kill ‘em and don’t kill them.

      The floaty blocks gameplay segment is essentially one of the dark ones tries to kill? mind-burn? Artyom, this happens just before the ending.

      The bad ending is a bit disappointing, I admit, but it fits the game’s atmosphere of death and misery and bad things happening to everyone.

  29. Tapkoh says:

    If Tali and Shepard did have sex in ME2, Legion’s line stays the same at first. Shepard replies with something along the lines of “I’ve seen one” and Legion tells him a sample size of one isn’t enough to generalize so too bad, Quarian suits it is.

    I would have been much more amused if they were all visually Tali instead. You know, a bunch of floating stock photos.

  30. some random dood says:

    To the Spoiler Warning (SW) Team
    About the overall tone of SW – sounds like this game is taking its toll on you all (and enough so that Mumbles didn’t even join in – and yes, I miss her commentary). Maybe it’s time to think about other ways to run SW that causes less risk of burn-out.
    My thought is to divide the game into snippets that you want to talk about. As the team generally plays the game prior to SW and on pcs, would it be possible to share save-game files with Josh to play through a part of the game you want to talk about? This would take a little bit of pre-planning, and lots of save files on an initial playthrough, but would hopefully keep the series tight and not be a burden on the team forcing themselves to grit their teeth to the bitter end.
    When initially playing a game that is a candidate, make a few notes about stuff you want to talk about, and the save-file closest to that point. Pass the file to Josh to run through while commenting on the relevant stuff. That way the crew could make the observations (high points/low points) they want, without having to suffer through hours of bang-bang shooty to get to the next talking point.
    Admittedly, from the viewers’ perspective, we would miss out on Josh’s ability to find bugs and die in new and humourous ways, but the saving on the crew’s sanity might make our sacrifice worthwhile.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      That is true. While I do love watching SW, I don’t want them to do it if its less like fun and more like an obligation. It seems like this game has been wearing on them more than other games had.

      • Sounds to me like they are having fun (nitpicking is the baseline here), and the credits scroll should be really interesting as I think they all will have a lot to say about the ending.

        And since they’ll be doing the original ending rather than the extended ending, we get their view on what BioWare released (i.e. what went gold).

        If BioWare had done the extended ending in the first place I don’t think the backlash would have been that large, after all you do get an idea of what/where your companions/friends end up with the extended end.
        Sadly though, that stuff should have been in the shipped game.

        My guess is that BioWare will make sure to avoid doing that in future games, especially if they try another trilogy (which I hope they do, same engine with incremental improvements over 3 games cuts development cost way down too, and Dragon Age 3 using a new engine could mean that Mass Effect 4 + could use the same engine, and I hope so as they can shift devs around between projects more easily.)

    • Chris says:

      At the risk of being beaten by the other members of the cast and stuffed into The Punishment Box, I generally agree. I’m not sure pointing out every minor plot hole, idiotic Cerberus master plan, or awkward “geth rise up outta the floor!” glitch is worth a 15 week, 10 hour YouTube epic. They’re incredibly intimidating for new viewers to get into if they haven’t started at the beginning, they’re a huge timesync for the people who follow all of it, and there are plenty of times where we absolutely do run out of things to say – look at pretty much any combat section in the latter half of the Alan Wake season where the talk about the mechanics had been exhausted and there was no plot in sight.

      That said, the format of the show has always sort of been about pokin’ around the entirety of the game’s experience. Wacky bugs, idiotic-but-subtle plot holes, and a “hey let’s talk about this since we’re doin’ it right now!” structure have been core to what it is. And a large reason for that is because it’s so easy to do it this way – we get together on Sunday nights and over the course of three or four hours have a week’s worth of content. Josh bears the biggest brunt of the responsibility by far, having to sync the Ventrillo voices against the footage and then compile/upload the episodes, but even that’s pretty light effort compared to what it can take to produce four separate twenty minute episodes of video content these days. Minute of footage to minute of effort, we’re running at pretty much max capacity.

      But if we start putting in the time and effort to discuss in advance what parts of the game we want to cover, the range of topics we want to discuss while we’re doing that part, make sure we’ve all played that section in advance, have a save at the ready for Josh, and closely moderate our conversation during play then things take on a different tone. It’s a more structured show (if we’re not going to seriously structure it it wouldn’t be worth the effort to cherry pick bits, as we’d get to them and more using the current format). It’s also a more heavily edited show, and would likely require far more time on Josh’s part to complete. At that point we’re not going to be as capable of pushing out 4 episodes a week without it impacting our day jobs/other activities.

      Ultimately I don’t know if “Spoiler Warning” as we know it could really function as a 4-episode a week show if we had to put a ton of effort into planning content, preparing topics, or skipping from game to game. But that doesn’t mean a more focused piece of media with the SW crew isn’t necessarily worthwhile – we’ve tossed the idea of a podcast around for ages. And I’d love to do a more rapid-fire show that looks at indie games and all other manner of titles for about 15-30 minutes at a time once a week – SW mostly reserves indie titles for special one-off episodes. Even just deciding upfront that we’ll cap Spoiler Warning weeks at, say, three could be an interesting change when dealing with these mega-huge titles like Mass Effect. It would ensure if we had something to say we’d need to say it soon without forcing too much structure on us.

      In short: I agree that the current format definitely promotes burnout, especially when we’re slogging through a game that collectively has us in the dumps. And it has other problems, too, like the aforementioned new viewer issue. But I’m not sure there’s an easy fix that doesn’t ultimately result in “Let’s do a different show!”

      • el_b says:

        how about a special series from a shorter game, running in bits like hl2 did? a week of that every now and again to keep you fresh?

        • Chris says:

          We did that with Mass Effect – taking breaks for Synergy and Half-Life 2 actually made it harder to get back into ME3 (“We had fun last week, can’t we go back and do that again!?”). And a lot of it isn’t even so much the monotony of playing one game, it’s that we quickly reach a consensus and there’s not much debate, so when we’re in the middle of combat it’s just the same stuff over and over again:

          “Cerberus being here makes no sense and they couldn’t have funded an operation like this even if they did. They’re doing this on foot crap because they wrote a SciFi epic and realized they had entirely close quarters combat mechanics. The choices you make don’t really matter because it costs too much money for them to be more meaningful than a pallet swap. Orange and blue can be used effectively, but holy crap are they over reliant on it here.”

          This has been the gist of the show for weeks now. It’s where Mumbles’ voice is most missed this season, I think – it leaves all the negativity completely unchecked and we all just start grumbling about every little thing. Maybe that’s less an argument for a new format and more an argument for a cast shakeup, but either way I think that’s where the “oh god, not more of this” comes from. It’s like being asked to explain why the same movie sucks with the same people for an hour every week for 15 weeks, even after you’ve all said your piece and are generally in agreement. New games, new blood, or new formats would all help, but again: All would likely lead to something decidedly not Spoiler Warning.

          • Shamus says:

            This problem goes all the way back to BioShock. We all had our say, and then the last three hours of the game kicked the crap out of us. We didn’t know how to fix it back them, and we still don’t. When a game falls into all-combat mode, the show suffers. (This is why I always veto Dragon Age. The Fade and The Deep roads would be EVEN WORSE than what we’re doing now in Mass Effect 3.)

            • Bubble181 says:

              As an outsider (and not even regular follower of SW – they’re too long and too often for me to have the free time to keep up, sorry…I only watch occasional one-offs), I have to wonder how much extra work it would be to just skip parts?
              Assuming most/all of the crew have played the game through, there are certain to be parts (Deep Roads,…) where *everyone* can agree they’re not worth SW’ing. Wouldn’t it take about 10 minutes of talking and just one person playing through with the save game, so the game’s ready for next week, to “skip” those parts?

              I mean, that’s not a huge extra load of editing or anything…And as long as you can pass the save game along (which you can’t for all games, admittedly), it’s not necassarily Josh who has to spend the extra time playing through.

            • Even says:

              You could always just cut the bad and boring parts if and when you can see them coming. Seriously. Just mill over any possible highlights and then move on. For this season, I doubt anybody’s really going to want to see all of the fighting in London for example. There’s absolutely nothing happening between the start, the midpoint and the climax. Do another “Pitt edit”, or whatever works. It would of course possibly mean extra work for Josh, but it could be worth it.

          • Peter H. Coffin says:

            At least, maybe, at the end of it all, people will come to realize that more hours of game-play isn’t necessarily a good thing. One doesn’t have to make the third act 10 hours of a 30 hour game. It’s perfectly okay to instead make the third act into 2 hours of a 22 hour game.

      • Shamus says:

        This. The whole thing.

        Also, Josh is carrying the bulk of the editing work, and he’s basically at capacity. Between his day job, his extra job, and the show, his time is 100% spoken for. This is why episodes are sometimes late. All it takes is a dentist appointment to move the show back by a whole day, which moves back the next ep, etc. So any plan that requires more editing is physically impossible with our current workflow.

        Only Josh and Chris have machines capable of doing the whole game+fraps+procaster trio of CPU-devouring monsters required to be the player. They’re also the only ones with proper editing software. (As opposed to windows movie maker.) You can’t really distribute the workload either, since we’re talking about gigabytes of source footage that would need to be passed around.

        I’ve often wanted to experiment with the idea of a “highlight reel” show, but that would actually make things easier on those of us who barely do any work and double the workload of Josh.

        • Why don’t you (Shamus) and Chris collaborate on doing a podcast thingy, maybe twice or once a month, with Josh and Rutskarn and Mumbles, and others as guests or alternating regulars, keep it half hour to an hour long, pre-planned what you’ll talk about, and then you (Shamus) or Chris can edit the thing down.

          As to content, maybe talk about games that do not get the Spoiler Warning nor Errant Signal treatment etc. Or which deserve some extra time to talk about, and the odd indy games, the classics, stupidity in modern media etc.

          You would need a name for the podcast though… Procedural Signal? *shrug*

          Tip! For the podcast it might be smart to use manual on/off toggle (rather than automatic) of the mic, to avoid cutting of the end of the lines when you spe

          • Shamus says:

            Tidbit:

            The “getting cut off” thing is actually a long-standing bug in ventrilo. I saved one of our sessions and listened, and it was fine. Then I exported it and messages wound up clipped.

            The bug only applies to long sessions – maybe an hour or more. And it only impacts the voices of the people OTHER than the one recording. And even then, it’s not 100%. We could probably fix it by cutting up our audio recordings int different sections, but to do that Josh would need to alt-tab away from the game to save the recording and start the new one between episodes. Then he’d have to restart livestream, because it pukes when you alt-tab. Then he’d have to restart the fraps recording. Then we’d have to re-do our latency tests and… gah.

            Upshot: It would greatly increase the number of ways that things could go wrong.

        • some random dood says:

          Personally, I like the way the show is now ;-) However, I was a little concerned about you guys’ mental well-being!
          And props to Josh – 2 jobs and still managing to turn this out? Impressive!
          And now that my mind has totally wandered off topic about how people manage to produce this with all sorts of other responsibilities – Shamus, any chance of an update on how your book’s coming along please?

      • Artur CalDazar says:

        I think a bit of the problem is this game in particular.
        Was anybody looking forward to doing this game?

      • Cuthalion says:

        I do not watch SW due to not having the time and not having played the games.

        I would listen to a podcast. I work night shift custodial and devour about 6-7 hours of podcasts every day. More variety is welcome. I’m only really familiar with Shamus and Chris, but I would listen to a podcast with either of them in it.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Josh’s editing ability can be easy to undervalue. There was the scene in Alan Wake where the stream crashed and they reloaded, and the only reason I knew was because Chris introduced himself again “mid” episode. And I was therefore able to go back and look for the cut. I can occassionally see them now, but even then only because I know what I’m looking for. That’s pretty great work.

      Spoiler Warning strikes me as a combination Let’s Play and Review, and sometimes those are complimentary, and sometimes they tug against each other. You want to talk about what’s going on on-screen, but you also don’t want to repeat yourself ad nauseum. Of the two sins, I’d consider repeating yourself the less bad.

      Of course, I’m also not opposed to long tangents on completely unrelated subjects. I once gave a 1000 word discourse on Spanish military tactics and their comparison to the contemporary French military, and how both converged on the same pike-and-shot tactics in the middle of what was supposed to be a Medieval II: Total War LP.

      While the bile is usually what we come for, it might shake things up if we agreed to say at least one nice thing about the game per episode.

      And then we can all agree at the end that the best part of it is that it’s over.

      • Chris says:

        Shamus has already instituted a similar policy. We’ll see it introduced in the coming week or two.

        • The issue is that usually a “issue” with a game tends to crop up repeatedly so it’s easy for some people to think the developers are doing the same mistake again and again which is not true, due to the nature of programming something is usually only created once (resource/audio/code/scripting) and repeated as needed.

          In a future Mass Effect game I hope they provide day/night filters, so that sometimes when you visit a planet it may be morning, other times night or day. Creating normal filter (middle of day?) and 3 others for morning evening night, and then blend depending on time of realtime divided by 4 maybe, so that would be 24 ingame hours would equal 6 real hours maybe. If only the Kai Leng resources had been used on stuff like that instead.

    • LazerBlade says:

      Is it just me who enjoys the ridiculous tangents, the snarky commentary, the repeated deaths and bugs, and the sanity pushing endurance test that SW has become? While I would totally listen to a podcast or watch a show as lined out above, I love SW for the chaotic stupid schizophrenic bipolar monster that it is.

      I guess I’ve only watched part of season 1 and all of 4 & 7, so I could be missing a big piece of the picture here. There are games I need to play before I watch the others. Also, no I’m not totally totally immune to sympathy for what the team has to go through to do this show. I had to work 10+ hours straight at times to keep a simple weekly screencast tutorial show on schedule, so I know how much work things like this can turn into at the last minute, even to the point of forcing you to just fall behind.

      • anaphysik says:

        “Is it just me who enjoys the ridiculous tangents, the snarky commentary, the repeated deaths and bugs, and the sanity pushing endurance test that SW has become?”

        No, you are not. Although to those I’d add that I perhaps most enjoy the massive discussions that happen in the comments sections. Watching SW seems to bring out a nice talky quality in us.

        (I started watching in Season 4, and have seen all the episodes from there on. The reruns of Season 1 are my first time watching it (bar the first episode, which I saw one time because Shamus linked to it to make a comparison with the current incarnation of the show. [And then I said about a paragraph more of information about why I couldn’t get into Seasons 2 or 3, but accidentally clicked outside the editcomment box and the system erased all of it, gorramit.] I do hope that Josh does reruns of Seasons 2 & 3, though, if for no other reason than completeness.)

  31. RCN says:

    It is obvious enough that EA has ruined Bioware. The moment it stepped in, Bioware games nosedove into a horrible chasm and may never, ever crawl and claw their way out.

    I’m serious. The original Dragon Age was into development way before EA entering the picture, and Mass Effect one also had some fair chunks done before EA.

    Then EA broke through the wall, exclaiming “OH YEAH!” and telling Bioware how it should be doing things… IMMEDIATELY we got Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 2 and The Old Republic, all of which stink of EA meddling with only glimpses of Bioware genius.

    … Unfortunately, EA also made Bioware a huge success, so that’s the world for you. A brutal deconstruction of fantasy in games and a very well thought out and constructed space opera are worth less than junk, while those Bayian setpiece derivative shit is worth its shitness in gold.

    On the other hand The Old Republic was a bomb. Of course, this means Bioware is at a fault and should be dismantled, not that EA is inept and should be burned to the ground. Oh, no. Never.

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