Hi, folks, I'm back this week with a new podcast. Topics include Wasteland 2 and Kickstarter funding, brainstorming Matt Chat DVDs and documentaries, Baer vs. Bushnell, and a closer look at the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco. Don't forget to visit the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter page.
Download the mp3 here.
I was having such a good time this morning WRITING about Mass Effect 3 that I decided to do a 40 minute podcast about it, too. In addition to elucidating why I like the ending, I also jabber on about why gaming NEEDS this sort of thing--indeed, why sheltering kids from unpleasant realities may do them more harm than good in the long run. I also nitpick about the game and why it needs a lot more variety in its gameplay. (Note: I don't address the internal logical inconsistencies of the story here; I admittedly don't pay enough attention to this kind of thing to care if plot point A in the first game doesn't jive with plot point B in the second and makes utter nonsense of plot point C in the third. I'll leave that kind of thing for the alpha nerds.)
Download the mp3 here.
(Spoilers ahead). Let me start off by saying I only finished Mass Effect 3 last night, having read no reviews or anything before or during gameplay. Afterward, I posted about it on Facebook, and in the comments became aware of the so-called "universal outrage" over the way the game ended. After some quick reading about Why Mass Effect 3's Ending Was So Terrible, I became enraged about the outrage. This all culminated in the following ejaculation: GROW UP, GAMERS. Every friggin' game can't end with the Ewok cuddle patrol dancing and chanting "You sure are special, kid!".
Just to sum up for folks who aren't interested in experiencing the "moment" for themselves, the main character (Shepherd) ends the game with a very tough decision.
I've always been a bit divided on Bioware's games after they abandoned their compromising "real time with pause" gameplay and sacrificed their babies to the god of Twitch. If you listen to some people, they would have been doing this all along, but the technology of the time wouldn't allow it (rubbish). The real goal here is to cater to the widest possible demographic, which everyone seems to think means focusing on spectacle and instant gratification (look, mommie, this button makes him chop!). The only concessions to adults is usually some vague notion of "difficult choices" you have to make at a dialog tree or two, and perhaps a lot of boring text here and there that you can find and read if you're so inclined. You know you've come a long ways down a dark road when the closest thing you get to the tabletop experience is clicking through (not reading) a dozen such screens of text and earning an Xbox Live achievement about being "learned."
But anyway, back to Dragon Age 2. I was one of those poor bastards who actually pre-ordered the collector's edition. I sprang for the PC version, which was apparently a mistake. Still, while I was probably more frustrated by the combat and party AI than anything else, I did enjoy other parts of the game, particularly the characters. Yeah, I know it's a bad when the thing I like most about a CRPG is the drama.
By popular request, I've decided to review a modern action-RPG called The Witcher. Originating in Poland, The Witcher offers a rich story, great characters, huge leveling system, and intense action-based combat. Check out the review below. Warning: I do make some criticisms of the game here, which seems to be offending the fanboys--so steer clear if you're unwilling to hear about the game's flaws.
Buy the Witcher: Enhanced Edition from GOG for only $10.
Hot on the heels of the launch of the new Ultima Forever Website, Bioware and Electronic Arts have made the PC version of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, available for free download (the original Apple II version was released in 1985). All you need to supply is DOSbox to be able to play it. Hopefully additional games in the Ultima series will follow (and more platforms!). Also hoped for is that this is just the beginning of a proper resurrection of the moribund Ultima franchise. Certainly Bioware and Electronic Arts have the necessary talents and resources to do so, and this is certainly a great start.
I know, I know...Finally! Here it is, Episode 101 on Baldur's Gate. I'm surprised that there are still CRPG fans who haven't played this one. You really should. It takes awhile for things to really pick up, but once they do, you're in it for the long haul, all the way through Tales of the Sword Coast, Baldur's Gate II, and the expansions for that. Weeks if not months of top-notch CRPG gameplay. I won't say it's perfect, but it's the closest I think we've come to the capturing that magic that made AD&D so compelling to so many people.
As always, you can download the mp4 here.
This week, I look at Bioware's new Dragon Age: Origins, a smash hit to join the ranks of earlier hits like Jade Empire and Knights of the Old Republic. Dragon Age: Origins is a dream come true for many fans of older, more tactically-oriented RPGs, though we're still far from the turn-based micromanagement of games like Pool of Radiance or Wizard's Crown. What I particularly like about DA:O is the emphasis on characters' feelings--which include romance and "adult situations!" Enjoy.