Saints & Sinners (Mar. 23)
In the video game industry, the fans are bombarded by two separate yet equally important groups: Saints, who bring with them only the purest form of joy, and Sinners, beings dedicated solely to evoking misery. These are their stories.
My name is Drew Robbins, this is Saints & Sinners, and yes, you guessed it, I’m mad. The level of discontent that I’m currently experiencing is nowhere near that of the gaming community at large, though; weeks have passed and yet we still hear of the lingering impact of Mass Effect 3’s polarizing ending. Remember when the last Harry Potter book came out? Remember how bad that ending was? That right there was a conclusion worth fighting against. I would go on but, hey, I’d just be infringing on the material I’ve stowed away for the latter part of this week’s column! Lord knows that I already struggle enough to find four topics worthy of my long-winded rants.
Square-Enix: Square-Enix made the list of Saints this week? The very same company that makes sequels to its least popular titles and pushes off sequels to the most popular ones in favor of further expansion upon said unpopular iteration? I’ll be damned; it is true, though, that Square-Enix has done something worthy of praise and adoration: they are localizing Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
What’s that, you say? It sounds more like a Lady Gaga song than a competent piece of software, does it? Believe not the words that lie on the cover, my friends, because this is a truly moving work of art headed stateside for the Nintendo 3DS. Theatrhythm celebrates the element at the very core of Final Fantasy’s success: music. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the series in the sense that I can’t get behind its slow, plodding style of play. However, I can get behind the absolutely out-of-this-world orchestral pieces that occupy so many of the franchise’s original soundtracks.
The game plays like a mixture of Elite Beat Agents and Final Fantasy with a heavy favoring in the direction of the former as opposed to the latter. As you play through a certain scene fitting music plays in the background that you must accordingly tap away to. It doesn’t sound like a great mechanic but I assure you that it provides only the most satisfying catharsis.
Theatrhythm seemed like a long shot for western release with its heavy emphasis on a portion of video games often overlooked by the American demographic. Elite Beat Agents, in all of its similar glory, tried to appeal to the very same audience and failed as miserably as Bioware trying to please its rabid fan base. There I go again; I had better quit while I’m ahead.
Square-Enix, you’re Saints. Revel in the glory that so accompanies the title.
Rockstar: I’m stretching here, folks; bear with me in this tough time.
Forgive me if I’ve said this before on Got Game, but it’s something that I must profess: I love L.A. Noire. If L.A. Noire were a woman, then I would buy her flowers; I might even shell out enough money for dinner or a movie (without popcorn)! My love for the game is a love that everyone should experience once in their life, and what better way to do that than to play the title that produces said emotion?
That might be a small task for me, a social elite with an Xbox 360, but it is no easy undertaking otherwise; I can’t even fathom the specifications required to run the title on a PC. The only other option would be to buy a Playstation 3 and, honestly, who wants to do that (DISCLAIMER: The opinion of Drew Robbins does not necessarily reflect the thoughts and feelings of himself or Got Game as a whole)?
Now, with the infinite magic presented by modern technology, there exists one more method of playing L.A. Noire: tablet computers. OnLive has long stocked the popular Rockstar title in their lineup of digital downloads, but to play most games from such a quaint setup as an iPad or a Kindle Fire would be far too uncomfortable for those seeking the true experience. That problem has been solved, though, by the imperial wizards employed under the Rockstar moniker; the dedicated team has went back and remapped the game to work with touch-screen controls.
L.A. Noire is, as far as I know, the first game to completely redesign itself for play on a more mobile platform. This would be an interesting endeavor to see many other blockbuster titles embark on; can you imagine being able to comfortably play OnLive’s deep lineup from the comfort of your iPad, Kindle Fire, or other equivalent product? I can’t, but that’s because I don’t play on those platforms. You might, though, and that’s why I dub Rockstar an honorary Saint for the week.
United States House of Representatives: There are a variety of reasons to label Congress’s lesser half as Sinners, but that would be an entirely different column; I might even be entertaining and readable in that one! No such luck for you, though, as this lambasting of the House of Representatives is based purely on an entertainment medium.
Frank Wolf and Joe Baca, the former being a Republican from Virginia and the latter being a Democrat out of California, have proposed new legislation that would legally mandate the placement of a warning label on video games. Warning labels, as you might know, typically grace such unwholesome content as a carton of cigarettes. If these two politicians were to have their way, then this policy would extend to even harmless games like a Mario Kart or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I don’t entirely oppose the idea of applying warnings to the front covers of particular games; the practice was especially warranted in the case of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a wonderful title with no shortage of blood, guts, and profuse male nudity. I do, however, oppose the idea of applying false warnings to products that don’t warrant it. The language as it reads in the bill is as follows: “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.”
Exposure to violent video games has never been officially linked to aggressive behaviors. There have been many studies showing a subtle correlation between the two, but never once in these many research excursions undergone by our nation’s inquiring minds has a concrete link between violent video games and aggressive behavior been determined. It is purely political fodder to suggest otherwise.
Congress tends to have a fascination with debating subjects of which they know little and this is no different. Apply a label to Gears of War or God of War or…Dawn of War, but don’t do the same to games catered towards innocent children and don’t make broad, sweeping proclamations about an entire industry’s livestock. Sinner is an applicable title here; now, get back to the disagreement and general ill-will towards one another that makes us love and adore you so dearly.
Bioware: At long last, we’ve arrived at the pink elephant in the room: Mass Effect 3. In all honesty, I’m exhausted of my enthusiasm for the franchise. It feels as if I’ve been covering story after story dealing with the trials and travails of Bioware, EA, and the fanatical consumers that cling to their every product. This latest chapter, the game’s ending, has been the most tiring of all.
First, let me clarify that I haven’t completed Mass Effect 3. I also haven’t beaten Mass Effect 2; I’m horribly out of touch! That being, I feel the need to defend Bioware’s much maligned trilogy closer. Whether good or bad, this was the ending that the writers working on the game felt most befitting of the Mass Effect universe. At some point or another, they thought that it was the right decision and it was their will that it play out in this manner.
It’s fine not to like the ending; I remember finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with a disgusted look on my face as I read every last bit of the tripe-ridden epilogue. Even still, I was able to detach myself from the moment and enjoy the franchise for what it was. A vocal portion of the Mass Effect fan base has had a tough time doing that in a way that eerily mimics that of the classic film Misery.
In Misery, a die-hard fan rescues her favorite author from the remains of a disastrous wreck caused by an oncoming snowstorm. She does this right as his novel, the final book in the Misery series, is released in bookstores across the country. The story concludes with Misery, the main character, suffering a fate equal to death: death. Much like Mass Effect fans, the woman here didn’t find much to like in the book’s conclusion and took to complaining to her beloved author about how terrible it was. From there, she holds him hostage and threatens mortal violence unless he rewrites the entire book to reach a more peaceful finale. Luckily, Mass Effect fans stopped short at the part where they didn’t enjoy the game’s ending; I think Casey Hudson and staff are thanking their lucky stars on that one.
Bioware did cave to the fans, though, and we have a new ending upon us. I have a hard time wrapping my head around this move or endorsing the idea that an artist can have their work manipulated by popular demand. Part of me believes that, no matter how the game concluded, fans were just looking to pick a fight with the Canada-based developer because of their recent issues with the Dragon Age franchise and the on-disc DLC that dominated much of the early discussion regarding Mass Effect 3.
If it makes people happy that Mass Effect 3 will be ending differently, then I suppose that it’s a fine move. I think it speaks little for the respect of artistic integrity, though, and that’s why I’m going to go ahead and apply one of this week’s honorary Sinner labels to Bioware.
Judgement has been passed