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The Mass Effect series

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Fox News recently did a feature on Mass Effect, focusing on the game's nudity and sexuality (<a href="http://www.gametrailers.com/player/usermovies/163925.html" target="_blank">watch it here</a>). The segment featured two experts, one a psychologist (Cooper Lawrence), the other a game journalist (Geoff Keighley). Suffice to say, the "Mass Effect is corrupting our children" side won.

Yes, Mass Effect does contain some sex and nudity. However, I find it rather sad and disappointing to present it as if the entire point of 20-30 hour long game is score with blue-skinned alien chicks, when the fact is that it's far more complicated than that. And never mind the fact that it's entirely avoidable, if you want to play that way -- I've yet to encounter a sexual scene at all, because I'm deliberately not playing it that way (though there has been a scene or two in which my character is flirted with).

Suffice to say, a lot of folks are pissed off. EA has sent a letter to Fox, asking them to correct various inaccurate statements. And a number of folks have gone to Amazon and posted negative reviews and ratings for Lawrence's latest book.

Edited by opus

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I wonder how much of her recantation is a result of her media crucifixion (for lack of a better term) and how much of it is just common sense kicking in. Either way she's lost a ton of credibility over this, which is quite frankly very appropriate.

Yeah -- having one of your books rated at one star on Amazon by thousands of people can really effect sales. Hopefully she (and FOX) learned something from this. Hopefully.

And it's because of stuff like this that I always feel like I have to be on the defensive when I talk to others about video games.

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I didn't really feel the need to start a brand new thread, so I repurposed this one to mention that I recently finished Mass Effect 2 and I can certainly understand why, come year's end, it's going to win a boatload of awards. Much more polished than the first game, the morality system that made the original Mass Effect so engrossing has been been drastically improved and deepened. So much so that I'm still puzzling through the ethics of some of the choices that I've made.

I've posted some thoughts here (contains spoilers). And while disagree with parts of PopMatters' review -- for example, I found the planet scanning video game to be rather relaxing -- I complete agree with this statement:

Mass Effect is too smart to rely on a simplistic good versus evil paradigm, though. Many decisions, like the ones involving the Krogan genophage (a manufactured virus meant to limit the population of a war-like alien race), are thoughtful and complicated. This isn't always true -- the main plotline of stopping all life in the galaxy from being eliminated is pretty clear-cut -- but you'll often find yourself questioning your own decisions right after you make them.

You might be wondering why I haven't mentioned much of the action itself yet. There's a reason: there really isn't much that is interesting to say about it. The gun-toting shooting is a vast improvement from the first Mass Effect but it feels little more than run-of-the-mill when compared to the other third-person shooters out there. Facing enemies utilizing a variety of weapons and superpowers can be fun and challenging (if repetitive) at times, but I found myself rushing through the action just so I could get to more of the story.

Actually, speaking back to the controversy that kicked off this thread, I find it interesting that Mass Effect 2 contains quite a bit more sexual content. You can, of course, play the game in such a way that you never experience an amorous encounter -- though someone did make a pass at me, and I discovered that one of my teammates had a bit of a crush on me -- but I can't help but wonder if BioWare did this intentionally just to sort of thumb their noses at people that got bent out of shape about the first game.

Edited by opus

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I keep seeing this thread on A&F's main page, peeking out from the Games section. I desperately want to play these games, but until they got on sale some more (as in, less than $20 for the first one, etc.) I'll just wait some more. They do look fantastic, and the trailers I saw a dozen or so times on Hulu made me want to play the second one even more.

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I keep seeing this thread on A&F's main page, peeking out from the Games section. I desperately want to play these games, but until they got on sale some more (as in, less than $20 for the first one, etc.) I'll just wait some more. They do look fantastic, and the trailers I saw a dozen or so times on Hulu made me want to play the second one even more.

You'll hate me for this, but ME1 was $5.00 on Steam back in January. ME2 is well worth paying around 20-30 dollars for, especially a new copy (because you'll get some free DLC with it.)

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Actually, speaking back to the controversy that kicked off this thread, I find it interesting that Mass Effect 2 contains quite a bit more sexual content. You can, of course, play the game in such a way that you never experience an amorous encounter -- though someone did make a pass at me, and I discovered that one of my teammates had a bit of a crush on me -- but I can't help but wonder if BioWare did this intentionally just to sort of thumb their noses at people that got bent out of shape about the first game.

Yeah, but I think the big difference is that the sexual content is pretty limited in ME2, at least compared to the nudity/sexual content of ME1. I think what's potentially worse about ME2 is that you can romance a partner, then "break-up", then romance someone else, and there's no real repercussions of that action. Which was odd, given that the rest of the game was outright about the consequences of your actions.

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Actually, speaking back to the controversy that kicked off this thread, I find it interesting that Mass Effect 2 contains quite a bit more sexual content. You can, of course, play the game in such a way that you never experience an amorous encounter -- though someone did make a pass at me, and I discovered that one of my teammates had a bit of a crush on me -- but I can't help but wonder if BioWare did this intentionally just to sort of thumb their noses at people that got bent out of shape about the first game.

Yeah, but I think the big difference is that the sexual content is pretty limited in ME2, at least compared to the nudity/sexual content of ME1. I think what's potentially worse about ME2 is that you can romance a partner, then "break-up", then romance someone else, and there's no real repercussions of that action. Which was odd, given that the rest of the game was outright about the consequences of your actions.

I didn't really pursue any of the game's romance subplots myself, but from what I read, there could be consequences if you mishandled a relationship. For example, if you have cheap sex with Jack, then side with another character (i.e., Miranda), you'll lose Jack's loyalty. Of course, the consequences might be relatively minor if you never really use the jilted character in the game anyways. (I know that several of my party members never left the ship except for their loyalty mission and the very last mission.)

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Actually, speaking back to the controversy that kicked off this thread, I find it interesting that Mass Effect 2 contains quite a bit more sexual content. You can, of course, play the game in such a way that you never experience an amorous encounter -- though someone did make a pass at me, and I discovered that one of my teammates had a bit of a crush on me -- but I can't help but wonder if BioWare did this intentionally just to sort of thumb their noses at people that got bent out of shape about the first game.

Yeah, but I think the big difference is that the sexual content is pretty limited in ME2, at least compared to the nudity/sexual content of ME1. I think what's potentially worse about ME2 is that you can romance a partner, then "break-up", then romance someone else, and there's no real repercussions of that action. Which was odd, given that the rest of the game was outright about the consequences of your actions.

I didn't really pursue any of the game's romance subplots myself, but from what I read, there could be consequences if you mishandled a relationship. For example, if you have cheap sex with Jack, then side with another character (i.e., Miranda), you'll lose Jack's loyalty. Of course, the consequences might be relatively minor if you never really use the jilted character in the game anyways. (I know that several of my party members never left the ship except for their loyalty mission and the very last mission.)

Well, I did the whole "multi-romance" part after I finished the story part of the game, so I think that affected my outcome in that department. And other than the Jack issue you mentioned, you don't really have a chance to cheat with anyone else in the game until after the final mission. I pretty much stuck with Miranda and Garrius on my first playthough. I did find it interesting that you can choose (if you imported a ME1 game) to retain a relationship with your paramour from the first game, although the extent of the romance in that is limited to gazing at a picture. Supposedly, the "faithful or not" issue will be addressed in ME3.

Edited by Clint M

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Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Science Fiction Universe of Our Generation:

Mass Effect is the first blockbuster franchise in the postmodern era to directly confront a godless, meaningless universe indifferent to humanity. Amid the entertaining game play, the interspecies romance, and entertaining characters, cosmological questions about the value of existence influence every decision. The game is about justifying survival, not of mere intelligent life in the universe, the Reapers are that, but of a kind of intelligence. Therein the triple layered question – What value does galactic civilization bring to the universe; What value does humanity bring to galactic civilization, and What value do I bring to humanity – forces the player to recontextualize his or her participation in the experiment of existence.

I'm not saying that Mass Effect provides any answers. The value of Mass Effect as a science fiction universe is that it is a critical starting point for discussion about the purpose of humanity in a materialistic universe. Without an answer to that question, there is no real reason for Ender to defeat the Buggers, or for humanity to seek out new life and new civilizations, or for us to not let non-organic life be the torch bearer for intelligence in the universe. Mass Effect confronts us with a female hero of our own creating, with the deepest implications of diversity, with the most dramatic questioning of the value of what it means to be human. Whether you are a feminist, a transhumanist, a theologist, a proponent of space exploration, a pacifist, a human exceptionalist, a bioethicist, a scientist, or a philosopher, Mass Effect demands you rethink your world.

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And here's the official (and extended) trailer for Mass Effect 3.

Edited by opus

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Has anyone played the promo? Worth the download?

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I downloaded it to see if the game would work with my XBox 360 controller on Windows (answer: no ::pinch::), but I didn't play it through. I am already set on playing it so why ruin the experience, I figure...

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I've only spent about 3 hours on Mass Effect 3, most of which was importing and customizing my Mass Effect 2 character. I'm hoping to spend a good amount of time playing it over the next few days, and especially over next weekend, when I have the house to myself for 3-4 days. I'm very curious as to how and when the game will bring back the numerous characters from Mass Effect 2, assuming they survived. (Rest in peace, Mordin Solus.)

But basically, this is an excuse to post the latest Mass Effect 3 trailer, titled "The War Begins".

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Since I last posted in this thread, I bought and played (and loved, I might add) the first Mass Effect game. I'll probably pick up Mass Effect 2 the next time Steam has it on sale, and wait patiently for #3 to go down in price.

That said, despite a ridiculous amount of critical acclaim, Mass Effect 3 is getting a lot of negative player buzz. Witness the comment section on The AV Club's "A" review of the game, and the (as of now) 2.2 star-average review section on Amazon. This makes me wonder about the disconnect here. Are reviewers just drinking BioWare's cool-aid, or are gamers just willing to dismiss all of the good things about a game once they encounter something they don't like (the ending seems to be one of the big points of contention)?

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I'm only a few hours into the game, but so far, I haven't been displeased. I haven't noticed anything lackluster or out of the ordinary.

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Same for me... I have been enjoying it a lot. Of course, if the ending sucks everything will change... but I have no reason to believe it will (haven't read any spoilers).

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I beat the game this past weekend and yes, the ending is pretty lame. It didn't make me angry enough to file complaints with the FTC and Better Business Bureau, but I did find it very underwhelming. And, as this lengthy -- and spoiler-filled -- Google document shows, it's also riddled with inconsistencies, plot holes, and major lapses in logic. (Unless, that is, it was all a dream.)

FWIW, I'll be posting a pretty lengthy review/critique/analysis of the game on Opus in the next day or so. Suffice to say, it wasn't just the ending that I found lacking. I'm also starting to think that there's something lacking in the way that BioWare structures their RPGs.

Related: "Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right"

And earlier today, Dr. Ray Muzyka, one of BioWare's co-founders, announced that the company was going to address players' concerns with the ending:

To that end, since the game launched, the team has been poring over everything they can find about reactions to the game – industry press, forums, Facebook, and Twitter, just to name a few. The Mass Effect team, like other teams across the BioWare Label within EA, consists of passionate people who work hard for the love of creating experiences that excite and delight our fans. I’m honored to work with them because they have the courage and strength to respond to constructive feedback.

Building on their research, Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey. You’ll hear more on this in April. We’re working hard to maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we’ve received. This is in addition to our existing plan to continue providing new Mass Effect content and new full games, so rest assured that your journey in the Mass Effect universe can, and will, continue.

To be clear: I don't think the game is a total wash. I still think the world-building in the game is phenomenal, the action was fun, and I enjoyed the breadth of relationships that existed in the game. I just think that Mass Effect 3 ultimately failed to capitalize on that, as well as everything that had been built up in the first two games.

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My spoiler-filled critique/analysis/review of Mass Effect 3:

There’s a fine line between expressing legitimate, thoughtful criticism and simply coming across like a whiny, entitled baby. I sincerely hope that this article lands closer to the former than the latter. Put simply, the more I reflect on my Mass Effect 3 experience, the more disappointed and underwhelmed I become.

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My spoiler-filled critique/analysis/review of Mass Effect 3:

There’s a fine line between expressing legitimate, thoughtful criticism and simply coming across like a whiny, entitled baby. I sincerely hope that this article lands closer to the former than the latter. Put simply, the more I reflect on my Mass Effect 3 experience, the more disappointed and underwhelmed I become.

I think you just saved me a lot of time. Thanks.

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I think you just saved me a lot of time. Thanks.

I'm thinking the same, Michael. I am curious to see what happens if BioWare tweaks the game a bit. One of the advantages of waiting a year or two to play a game, I guess.

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I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious how BioWare will handle this. Part of me hopes that the ending was merely a cliffhanger, and that BioWare planned all of those inconsistencies, etc. However, another part of me is sort of pissed that the true ending of the game requires DLC -- which, in the past were primarily for expanding the game's universe, introducing side characters, etc. -- and isn't in the actual game itself.

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BioWare announces an Extended Cut.

BioWare has announced Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut which is a DLC pack expanding the events at the end of the game.

Through additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes, Extended Cut will give fans “seeking further clarity to the ending of Mass Effect 3″ deeper insights into how their personal journey “concludes.”

Edited by Tyler

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Guess this means I'll finally need to sign up for an Xbox LIVE account.

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Or, I guess I could just wait for those "additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes" to be uploaded to YouTube.

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