Usually, just tossing around the words "Mass Effect 3 mod" is enough to get you banned from Origin's multiplayer servers before you can blink a Batarian's eyes. Not in this case; rather than whipping together some modified code to gain XP at an advanced rate, David Lane (a.k.a. MyBadOmen) has instead whipped together a kick-ass ME3-inspired case mod that's sure to send a shiver down the robotic spines of Reapers galaxy-wide.
Reapers have it in for planet Earth, and if that's not enough of a challenge, there are plenty of bugs in Mass Effect 3 to go around. Hey, no one claimed saving the planet would be easy. It does, however, get a little easier after applying the 1.03 patch BioWare released to PC on Tuesday (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers will have to wait until to Thursday to get theirs).
OUR SHEPARD LOOKS like hell. He’s got shadows under his eyes that’d frighten the seediest of back‑alley dwellers. Even when he smiles—for instance, while warmly embracing an old friend—there’s a palpable weariness to the gesture. This man, this hero we’ve piloted through countless near-apocalyptic trials and tribulations, is at the end of his rope. The Reapers have decided that all organic life is ripe for the picking, and Earth’s looking mighty juicy. Shepard’s got the weight of the entire universe on his shoulders, and little by little, every agonized step forward breaks his back a bit more.
After playing through Mass Effect 3, we look a lot like our Shepard, but for different reasons. We clearly haven’t slept, and basic hygiene has become so foreign a concept that we reply to the word “shower” with, “Yeah, it’s about 4:27 p.m.” Mass Effect 3, you see, is one of those experiences. By no means is it perfect, but it’s a tale so gripping as to have its own gravitational pull. It's Shepard’s darkest hour, and we had no intention of seeing the sun until its credits roll.
Hey, remember that whole Mass Effect 3 ending thing? Mercifully, I don't plan on giving it any further attention beyond that sentence. But it did – in its less oppressively obnoxious moments – give rise to a renewed discussion about videogame endings. The general consensus? It's the point where even the mightiest fall, tumbling from a perch of lofty regard to the turgid depths of disappointment. BioShock, Fallout 3, Knights of The Old Republic II – even the most beloved franchises have proven all-too-capable of heinous back-stabbery at the 11th hour.
And those are only the standouts. Plenty of other series have committed last-second crimes both large and small, so you could be forgiven for thinking we're in the midst of an epidemic fatal specifically to fond memories. Where, after all, is your satisfaction-fueled victory lap? Why, instead, is there an angry mob waiting at the finish line, pitchforks, torches, and voices raised in a howling thunder of angry regret? Why do games seem incapable of producing satisfying endings? That's the question many gamers have been asking themselves, and they've yet to uncover an answer.
Perhaps that's because they're asking the wrong question.
When I devote time to media – whether it's a game, TV show, book, or slice of delicious chocolate cake drowned in molten frosting lava – I tend to lose myself in it. I think about it constantly. My speech becomes laden with referential jargon, and probably by pure coincidence, my friends start punching me in the throat more frequently. That's the power of a great world, though. You have to drag me away from it kicking and screaming, and even when you do, I bring a few chunks of officially licensed astro turf along for the ride.
But it's fun to be hopelessly and utterly absorbed in a place halfway across the galaxy from Real Life's day-to-day doldrums. Whether it's a million-mile-per-hour escape from reality or something that ends up hitting all too close to home, there's something downright magical about, say, wandering Fallout's wastes or selecting the “family” conversation option of every goddamn person in Mass Effect 3's entire galaxy. Things like that are, in large part, the reason I play games.
So I think I'm probably qualified to talk about why transmedia's insidious, spindly web of Facebook games, apps, iOS spin-offs, art books, and delicious chocolate cakes drowned in molten frosting lava is doing it so very, very, very wrong.
The Internet as a whole agrees on very few things: basically, Nazis are bad (and often invoked), SOPA/PIPA was bad, and man, the Mass Effect 3 ending was bad.* Showing that Hell has no wrath like an e-horde scorned, Bioware announced today that it would be releasing a new, totally free "Extended Cut" DLC this summer that adds new cinematic ending sequences and scenes to give disgruntled ME3 fans "deeper insights into how their personal journey concludes."
You can't please everyone. It's an adage that's been true for as long as there's been more than one human being on earth, but BioWare's doing its damndest to prove it wrong. Via a winding apology letter, the developer's promised that its game about a thwarting Reaperpocalypse that'll leave less than one human being on earth is in for some major updates. These “content initiatives” will “provide clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey.” So basically, the relentlessly demanding fans – some of whom even complained to the FTC – got their way.
Speaking of PC gaming, a much-anticipated little title happened to have dropped today: Mass Effect 3. Perhaps you've heard of it? If you've been following the exploits of Commander Shepard and his rag-tag Normandy crew, it goes without saying that you pretty much HAVE to pick up the game. Don't dig silence? Our sister mag PCGamer has an in-depth review of Mass Effect 3.
We've seen some bizarre marketing stunts before, but one of the coolest ideas undoubtedly belongs to Electronic Arts. Forget for moment any ill will you have for EA and the company's refusal to play nice with Steam. EA's much hyped Mass Effect 3 will be successful even without Valve's platform, and if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you'll have a chance to score a copy for free simply by reaching out and grabbing it as it falls from the sky. What the frak?
Oh man, is it March 6th yet? BioWare teased us with a taste of old friends on Valentine's Day -- Krogans and Turians and Reapers, oh my! -- but the official launch of Mass Effect 3 is still weeks away. At least we'll have some cool ME3 peripherals to gaze at between now and then, thanks to the newly unveiled Mass Effect 3 gear lineup by the folks over at Razer. They do more than just look pretty, too: Razer promises each piece of hardware will unlock an "exclusive in-game bonus."