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Tag Archives: nostalgia

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Mass Effect 3 is my favourite game of all time. I think about this far more than is perhaps normal, or indeed healthy, but with Mass Effect Andromeda in the news I can’t help it. Sadly it seems that this love isn’t shared by the majority of Mass Effect fans. Indeed, the third game is often seen as the weakest, in no small part to it’s controversial ending (more on that later).

I decided to play through the Mass Effect trilogy again earlier this year for the first time since 2012. Mass Effect 3 was my favourite at the time, but I wondered if perhaps I just got caught up in the excitement of the new. Playing through first two games again I was constantly looking forward to the third, but I couldn’t shift the feeling that perhaps I’d made a terrible mistake. Everybody and their Mum said Mass Effect 2 was the best, hands down. Playing through it I could certainly see their point. The story and gameplay were all top notch and a vast improvement over it’s predecessor. Yet something was off. I didn’t like the new crew. Sure, Mordin was great and Garrus and Tali were there from the first game, but the rest? Weaker versions of better characters. When I got to the third game that just confirmed it, it was like getting the band back together.

What set Mass Effect apart from any other series was interacting with your crew. I don’t just mean romancing them and getting up to some hanky-panky in your quarters either. Learning their life story and forming bonds was perhaps more important than whatever Reaper threat was going on in the main plot. Hell, in Mass Effect 3 those weaker characters from 2, though not part of your crew, now have stories that are interesting and humanising. Rescuing Jack and her students, dealing with Miranda’s asshole Dad, Legion’s sacrifice for the greater good, Grunt proving himself as both a leader and a Krogan. These are all missions that needed to take place in the context of Mass Effect 3, when straits are at their direst. When you throw in the Citadel DLC, which is one of the finest bits of DLC to ever be released, you’ve got a game chock full of great character moments.

Most of the criticism is reserved for the ending. I can see why, especially in the vanilla version the game released with. There’s very little resolution to your journey, the galaxy you’ve fought so hard to save seems fucked regardless of whatever choice you make and your crew just seems to abandon you. When I played through it I was pissed off as well. It felt like a betrayal of what the series was based on. Luckily most, if not all, of my criticisms were rectified when Bioware released the Extended Cut DLC. It’s a complaint that no longer holds any weight for me. Sadly no DLC patched out those damned dream sequences. It may be my favourite game, but it’s not flawless.

I see Mass Effect 3 as being a bit like Lost. Both are held up as cautionary tales of how not to do an ending, but that’s missing the point. The destination wasn’t half as important as the journey.

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The Colossus is dead. The Playstation 2, the titan of home video gaming, has had its plug pulled and been discontinued by Sony after almost 13 years. As the unequivocal winner of the last console war (shipping more units than the XBox, Gamecube and Dreamcast combined), the PS2 has a special place in the hearts of millions around the globe. A monolithic black slab, like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the PS2 transformed video game consoles and what we expected from them.

Launching in March 2000, the PS2 blew all its competitors out of the water with a combination of savvy business decisions and excellent games to back them up. Sony’s decision to include a DVD player built into the console gave it a place under people’s television sets that was normally reserved for VCRs and Sky boxes. Its ability to be stored vertically was a significant selling point as well, with space under a television at a premium. But for all these nifty extras, what really made the PS2 such a success was its games.

The Playstation 2 had phenomenal third party support. Franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer, Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo gave the console broad appeal. Games such as Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Okami, though lacking the popularity of the aforementioned franchises, were critically acclaimed and provided something for the more cerebral and hardcore gamer. Crucially, Sony’s decision to have backwards compatibility built into the device from Day One meant that you weren’t restricted to the launch titles, strong though they were. On release, you had five years worth of games to choose from thanks to the original Playstation. You could even continue that save of a game you’ve invested dozens of hours into on the PS1 on your shiny new PS2 by plugging in your old memory cards. More than anything I think it was this feature that elevated the PS2 above its competitors. Nintendo was transitioning from cartridges to disks, Sega didn’t include it and Microsoft was just starting out in the console business. And there was Sony, with the game library of two consoles. How could they compete?

Certainly the backwards compatibility was what made me choose the PS2. It was the summer of 2002, I was a massive Final Fantasy addict and my PS1 had just broken. Conveniently, Final Fantasy X had been released a few months earlier and so for my birthday I was given a PS2 and taken on a trip to Electronics Boutique to pick out my games. It was a magical time and from that moment on I was hooked. The ability to use all my old games and get new, state of the art games? How could any geeky kid not be head over heels? The fact that console is probably the reason I didn’t do as well in school as I might isn’t something I regret. The PS2 really opened my eyes to the world of video gaming and for that I shall be eternally grateful.

Eventually, in the summer of 2008, my PS2 gave up the ghost and died on me. Well, I say died. Murdered would be a more accurate description. I punched it right in the middle after dying one too many times on a boss fight in Final Fantasy XII and that was that. I never bought a replacement, opting for an XBox 360 instead, which I grew to love but not in the same way. It (and the PS3 now that I have one) lack the character of the PS2. Though inferior in every way, the PS2 has a little place in my heart as a console that none since have matched. Sadly, I doubt I’ll ever feel that again. And so I raise a glass to the Playstation 2 and wish it adieu. The beautiful, magnificent bastard.