I’ve only read the first few issues of Robert Kirkman’s original comic books, but I have a strange fascination with the television incarnation of The Walking Dead. It’s a bit like watching a train wreck; I just can’t wrap my head around how a show can be as beautifully shot as it is and, you know, about zombies, but still be as mirthless and relentlessly terrible as it continues to be. And it is a terrible show to be sure—what with its nonexistent characters and conflicts in what is purported to be an ensemble drama. Even so, I schedule time every Sunday to catch a new episode. Partially it’s that strange fascination with how the show continues to drown in its own mythology (or lack thereof) that brings me back, but I also return to The Walking Dead week after week with a little hope that maybe this week will finally click. Maybe—just maybe—the next episode will finally get it and dig the series out of its hole. It is with this mindset that I enter TellTale Games’ The Walking Dead, an episodic adventure game based on the same source material. The first episode is currently available for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC with the promise of four subsequent episodes over as many months. (I’ll be playing the series on my MacBook with my trackpad and keyboard. Aw yeah.) The game, like the show, looks beautiful with a compelling, comic book-esque aesthetic that is anchored by fantastic facial animations. Also like the show, the game features a lot of talking—not all of it necessary. The real test of quality, then, becomes whether or not the rest of its components—especially the writing and core mechanics—can measure up to its slick art direction.
This is something of a sequel to my previous post, ”Mass Effect and Choice (or something like it. Pt 1/2)" I promise this one is shorter.
At this point, I think I’ve finally progressed from anger over the awfulness of Mass Effect’s ending to “next time Bioware mentions its ‘artistic integrity’ EVERYBODY TAKES A DRINK,” which I suppose is the closest I’ll ever come to acceptance. That said, there’s still something I’d like to address. Specifically, I’d like to talk about the controversy over Mass Effect 3’s aforementioned artistic integrity and authorship.
Go ahead and grab a bottle. I’ll wait.
I don’t know what happened in the last few moments of development for ME3 – writer Patrick Weekes left a post online that might give a little insight, but things can only be left to speculation. But I certainly know this – BioWare could have done better. They did such a marvellous job with the rest of the game that it’s simply inconceivable that they could have messed up that badly and completely forgotten how to tell a story in the last ten minutes.
UPDATE June 02, 2012: Good news, everyone! It looks like Shepard will have more dialogue in Mass Effect 3's “Extended Cut” DLC after all. Whether or not this addresses any of the endings many, many problems has yet to be seen, but this seems like a step in the right direction.
Major spoilers for the Mass Effect series below!
Now that it’s been several weeks since Mass Effect 3’s release—decades in Internet Years—there have been plenty entries in plenty mediums explaining exactly what is wrong with the game’s final 10 minutes. And it really does take plenty of entries in plenty of mediums to explain—there’s a lot wrong with those final 10 minutes. I won’t go into the specific plot holes here because they’re big—big enough to drive a whole space ship through while it deserts the biggest battle in human history to go… somewhere with a crew that should either be on the ground with me or vaporized. However, there’s one particular problem with the ending that has niggled at me since my first playthrough. This angry little itch has only gotten worse now that I’m approaching the ME3 hat trick and the game critic community continues to chew on the same problem. My main beef with ME3 boils down to the apparent lack of choice in the eleventh hour and whether we as players in Mass Effect’s vast sandbox really had any choice to begin with (and contending with the occasional addendum of “we didn’t have any so stop whining, losers”).