I really have fond memories of the original Mass Effect. Sure, it had its silly moments. (“This evidence is irrefutable!”) But it still felt like a season of a really good sci-fi show. Each planet was an interesting place to discover. Like an episode of Trek, you visited a new place, got to know it, and solved some problems. And in each episode, you moved the overarching plot forward a step, building up to a season finale.
And yes, we really did savage Mass Effect 2. Over time, my opinion of the game has grown worse: It was weak in exactly the way it needed to be strong. The gunplay changes made sense to me from a marketing perspective – popup shooters really are king of the world right now – but there was no reason to turn the story into hash the way they did.
But even after unloading all this hate onto Mass Effect 2, EA, and BioWare, I still feel a certain connection with the game. I still love the original, and I still hold out hope that Mass Effect 3 could give me what I was hoping to get from Mass Effect 2. And so I find myself defending the game from its own publisher. (Protip: This link leads to the actual article.)
The Mass Effect 3 campaign and DLC circus is just really sleazy. I understand that EA doesn’t value their products as anything other than a source of revenue, and doesn’t regard them as artistic endeavors at all. I get that. But aren’t they supposed to pretend their stuff has some sort of merit?
A lot of this goes back to the Extra Credits Open Letter to EA Marketing. It’s not that these people are shallow and money-grubbing. I can understand the grubbing of money. But their own marketing seems almost infused with this raw contempt not just for the medium, but for the audience itself.
The Dumbest Cutscene
This is it. This is the dumbest cutscene ever created for a AAA game. It's so bad it's simultaneously hilarious and painful. This is "The Room" of video game cutscenes.
Steam Summer Blues
This mess of dross, confusion, and terrible UI design is the storefront the big publishers couldn't beat? Amazing.
So what happens when a SOFTWARE engineer tries to review hardware? This. This happens.
Trusting the System
How do you know the rules of the game are what the game claims? More importantly, how do the DEVELOPERS know?
The Best of 2011
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.