Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Way back when, I put forth a challenging, daring notion: that when you are playing a role playing game, you ought play the role of your character. Yeah, I know, way out in left field there. But to play a role, you need to know your character—their thoughts, attitudes, opinions, and motivations. How else can you be expected to play? It’s a dance between the writers and I, where they provide the What, and I fill in the far more interesting Why. For too many players, though, role playing is some zero-sum system reduced to rote numerology, where they are to be rewarded tangibly with both in-game doodads and a vague notion of “change”. It’s a rant I’ve been on before, so rather than repeat it, how about if I tell how it worked for me in the stunning climax of Mass Effect 2, a pulse-pounding mission wherein any and all characters can be killed through your actions, and show how it made the experience richer.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Nothing provides sustenance sweeter than the delicious taste of correctness. Many moons ago, I wrote about the silly controversy over the hair color of Commander Shepard, Mass Effect’s mutable protagonist. My thesis: in light of her undisputed badassery, the worries over Lady Shepard’s hair color are stupid and superficial, possibly speaking to a very vexing and insidious type of sexism. I may never be vindicated on the latter bit, but the former? Oh man.
On March 6th, I’ll have Mass Effect 3. This was an event written in the bedrock of the universe. I am beyond prepared. By my count, I’ve played Mass Effect 2 (one of my GOTY 2010 Picks!) to completion twelve times—two of them this year—and I could easily do another. ME has almost the perfect alchemy, with a fascinating universe, characters I adore, and themes that resonate. But, I don’t want to burn myself out before I even have it, as unlikely as that seems. Then along came a column entitled “Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Sci-Fi Universe of Our Generation”. Needless to say, I agreed, but it got me thinking about what else could even be considered in contention. The column listed a few contenders, but only one seemed credible—the 2004 re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. There are a few connections between the two, actually, with a few similar themes, styles, an homage, and a pair of actors. I have my opinions on BSG, but they’re a bit old. Has time changed them? Now here’s something that will give me my spaceship fix until the 6th.