I thought I liked the ending of Mass Effect 3. While it wasn’t as great as it could have been, it’s not as bad as the controversy surrounding it made it seem. However, as more time passes, I find myself getting more and more upset with the game. In the time since I’ve beaten it, two pieces of DLC (the Extended Cut endings and Leviathan) have come out that significantly change the experience. There’s more plot, more mythology, more explanation about the things left hanging, and more importantly, story beats that I wasn’t made privy to initially. And that angers me. But when I really sit down and think about it, I don’t know why I’m angry. Yes, I’m missing out on content, but I was satisfied with the version of the game that I played. So, why do I still feel like I’m missing something? These pieces of DLC, regardless of how important they are to the plot and mythology of the series, are the equivalent of deleted scenes and alternate endings of a movie. I love deleted scenes and alternate endings but only as a curiosity, they don’t change my opinion of the movie itself. Yet the “deleted scenes” from Mass Effect 3 now have me questioning my original experience. So why do I care so much about deleted scenes and alternate endings in a game?
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Most racing games are based on a very linear system of progression that only moves us forwards. We’re forced to drive slow cars in the beginning, but this is never fun. The more that we race, the more opportunities we have to either upgrade our slow car or buy a new, faster car. These upgrades are necessary because our slow car can’t compete against the faster cars. That race is over before it even begins. We’re always upgrading our vehicles, we’re always getting faster and better toys, and at no point are we asked to go back to the slow cars.
Open worlds do not belong in racing games. The two genres just don’t fit. Everything that makes an open world great is held back by being forced to explore with only a vehicle, and everything that makes racing fun is held back by the lack of direction in the open world. And yet Need for Speed: Most Wanted represents Criterion’s second attempt to bring the genres together and their second failure to do so.
This is a good year for stealth games with Dishonored, Hitman: Silent Assassin, and kinda-sorta-maybe Assassin’s Creed III, if you still consider that a stealth game. But the best stealth game of the year just might be an XBLA game that flew under the radar for a lot of people. Mark of the Ninja is both complex and reductionist, trimming out all the complications of a 3D world for a 2D world filled with more visual cues than any stealth game before it, and in stripping away that extra dimension the game makes it easier to embrace its many complex systems.
Walking is complicated. It only seems easy because so much of it is automated. Thanks to games like QWOP, which gives me direct control over the muscles I use when walking, I have a new appreciation for my ability to walk two steps without falling.
We turn the same blind eye to movement in video games or at least to the movement in most blockbuster games. Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, Borderlands, The Darkness, and any other shooter than came out this year all feel good to play. Most shooters feel good, and over time it’s become something I take for granted. That is, until I played a pair of Xbox Indie games that unintentionally revealed the many potential pitfalls and complications of simple video game movement.