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by Nick Dinicola

30 Mar 2012


Some people don’t like the ending of Mass Effect 3. I’m not one of those people.

Mass Effect 3 reaches the peak of its climax when it asks Shepard to make one last choice. He has to choose to control the Reapers, destroy the Reapers, or merge all synthetic and organic life together. Of course, there’s more nuance to the choices than that, but it’s important how these choices are presented in their simplest form. They’re ostensibly plot points, and yet the similarity of the final cut scenes implies that the plot is not the most important aspect of this choice. The game seems to say that the consequences are interchangeable.

by Jorge Albor

29 Mar 2012


This is an article about choice in Mass Effect 3, about the path our Shepards have taken and how confined decisions make these experiences all the more powerful. Since the first entry into the franchise, the most interesting dichotomy has not been between synthetic and organic, but between Paragon and Renegade. While Bioware constructs a false dichotomy between the two out of necessity, artful adjustments to story and context during decision points have continued to complicate the game’s own binary system.

Even in the first Mass Effect, the Paragon/Renegade system had already set itself apart from traditional morality systems. The blue and red color coded options gave newcomers the false impression that these decisions represented “good” and “bad”, as though they were judgements passed down from some fictional deity. In actuality, these decisions more closely adhered and continue to adhere to the “lawful good” and “chaotic good” alignments established by Dungeons & Dragons. They represent how closely Shepard “follows the rules” in pursuit of good, a measurement of divergence from a lore-based code of conduct.

by G. Christopher Williams

28 Mar 2012


This post contains spoilers for some of the possible outcomes in Mass Effect 3.  Some might argue that I have already spoiled part of the game with the title of this essay.  However, I could just as easily be discussing Mass Effect 2 or Mass Effect 3.  Frankly, anyone with an interest in reading discussions of any Mass Effect should realize, though, that the death of squadmate in these games is something that may or may not happen anyway.  I’m just warning you about the fact that I’m getting into the details of a possibility.  That such possibilities exist should come as no real surprise.  Oh, I also spoil a major plot point from a game that is 15 years old.

When Tali died, I so wanted to go back to my last save point.

by Mark Filipowich

27 Mar 2012


In case the title of this article hasn’t made the contents obvious: there are spoilers about the ending of Mass Effect. If you haven’t played any of the games in the Mass Effect series, go do that. There are three very different but very good games to be enjoyed. If you don’t have time, make the time. If you aren’t able to play the games even at the lowest difficulty, find somebody that can play them and watch them go through it. Seriously, these games may be the most important works of science fiction of the decade so get on it. When you’ve done that, return for a spoiler-ridden commentary on the fan-engineered “controversy” surrounding the ending.

There, now that it’s just us N7 veterans, we can be candid. Many of you are apparently upset with how the story concluded. But I hope that with a little reflection you’ll be able to appreciate that conclusion as the best possible way that it could have wrapped up. The final mission of Mass Effect was extremely heavy and dark. Shepard’s final goodbye to her past and present squads, the push through the smouldering apartments and cafes, the desperate stand against overwhelming forces while a reaper destroyer inches its way closer, the culminating charge through the destruction, only to be blasted away a few meters from the objective, all of this is enormously powerful and vindicates what the game has been saying all along: you won’t make it, but you have to try anyway.

by Mattie Brice

27 Mar 2012


There seems to be a couple of conversations that just won’t die. At any given moment in the discussion on how we are to consider games, someone is choosing their position on whether the rules of the game matter or the narrative in a game, while another decides if a particular video game is even a game or not. While there is value in any critical thinking, it’s curious writers still feel they have something to add to conversations that always dissolve into some sort of nihilism.

We have smart pieces like Leigh Alexander’s “Tale Spin” that continue to tiptoe towards the edge away from these questions, taking sure but frustratingly small steps (“Opinion: Tale Spin”, Edge, 19 March 2012). In the essay, she moves past the allure of equating everything noble about games to their capability to tell stories, batting away shadows that still linger of the “but other mediums…” attitude.

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