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Hipster Gaming – Chapter 1: Star Wars Effect

I was playing Jedi Knight with a dual shock controller earlier, and it was damn fun, but it crashed when I tried to save. I think games used to crash much less often when I was a kid, even though the computers I was using at the time could always barely handle what games were coming out. Still true, actually, the irony is I’m still playing those old games. On my crappy centrino duo laptop, in bed, even.

The thing that gets me about Jedi Knight is that they actually cared about FMV video back then. Who hires actors for video game cutscenes anymore? I think Bounty Hunter on PS2, that game about Jengo Fett did, but that’s probably it.

The actors now are just stunt fools wearing goofy looking mo-cap suits. You have someone else entirely to do the voices of the characters, and someone else to design them, probably entire teams. What a waste. No wonder games cost a hundred million dollars to make nowadays, and piss me off a hundred million times more.

Maybe the games crashed just as often back then, but we were too busy having fucking fun playing the game to care, instead of getting on forums and bitching about how we didn’t like the ending and petitioning the developer to MAKE US A NEW ONE. Mass Effect fans? Pff. Only in the whiny, self-centered universe of modern gaming can such an absurd notion become a reality.

Maybe they ran out of time and couldn’t finish it. Maybe it was a cop-out to give everyone an identical ending. So fucking what? These things happen. Is a fucking internet petition the answer to everything? Bioware’s caving into this bullshit says yes. Don’t like the ending to a movie? Petition Christopher Noland. Don’t like the ending to a book? Petition Stephen King. Don’t like the ending to a song? Petition your shitty dubstep bands or whatever the fuck is the rage this week.

Xenogears ran out of time and budget. So what did the director do? He made the entire second disc a goddamn beautiful frame story. Say what you want — I fucking loved it. Remains to this day one of my favorites of all time.

Yeah, I probably don’t deserve to say shit. I didn’t beat ME3, hell I could barely stand ME2, though I did enjoy the first game. I’m one of those people, yes. I don’t fucking apologize for it. ME2 and 3 should’ve had more exploration elements. It should’ve had the Mako. It should’ve had planets you could wander around on for hours. It should’ve been AN IMPROVEMENT on the ORIGINAL, not a streamlined piece of shit arcade shooter. After the 8th time a scoreboard popped up in ME2 after killing the last enemy in a stage (because you are hard-pressed to call it anything but) I had to turn that piece of shit off.

To be fair, the storytelling was much more provoking in ME3. Too bad the gameplay was unchanged. I was told that ME3 was everything ME2 should’ve been. I was fooled. Actually, I should have been excited if I was told that it was everything ME1 should’ve been. ME3 is merely a slightly improved version of ME2 with inverted quality of storytelling – instead of everything leading up to the ending sucking, everything leading up to it is great, its just the ending itself that blew. Did I get that right?

So yes, I’m one of those people that wish RPGs were still about exploration. I have a few fond memories of the first Mass Effect game – one that comes to mind is driving my Mako around one of the (admittedly same-y) planets, going over a ridge, and spotting a compound in the distance with some reapers out front. So I stop the van, hop out, take cover, and start a snipe battle. After a few go down, I hop back in the Mako, drive over and finish off the rest, run in, clear out the compound and loot that shit. Something that I will never experience in ME2 or ME3, and after those bitter aftertastes, I have no desire to play ANY game in that series ever again. Hell, I even enjoyed the Karpyshyn books, but I’ll never pick those up again because the games devolved to such a state that I would rather lick my own Taco Bell-induced puke off a shag carpet than be exposed to that universe again.

And Bioware’s entire “okay, you’re right, we’re fucking retarded, so we’re gonna make new endings for you loving, adoring fans” response to these internet warriors merely fuels my rage.

I was really getting into Bioware. I really was. Neverwinter Nights 2 was great, as were both expansions. Mass Effect, while not perfect, was fun. Repetitive side quests, irritating inventory system, but damn solid storytelling and fun gameplay. Dragon Age, I think everyone agrees was fucking great. Dragon Age 2, even, while nowhere near as good, was still fun.

Old Republic – wow, I spent many hours in that game. Incredible writing and atmosphere, it really sucks you into the Star Wars universe, and is damn fun all the way until you clear your class storyline. But that’s where it really falls apart – the end. Once you hit level 50, it turns into just another shitty generic MMO, which is exactly why I bought the game in the first place – because they claimed that would not happen. The endgame is designed by Blizzard fanboys, and it only got worse. Bioware listened to the internet. The most wretched hive of scum and villainy, that is, the Old Republic forums, are rife with “suggestions” meant to improve the gameplay experience of exactly one person at a time, inching the game’s evolution step by step into yet another WoW clone with lightsabers.

Sickening. So Bioware listens to the community, they second-guess themselves, and their two humongous releases this year are fucked. Great work, guys. No, really. Fuck off.

So instead of forcing myself to play more than three hours of Mass Effect 3 or even leveling up an alt in Old Republic I would rather spend my gaming time with old classics like Jedi Knight and Final Fantasy 6. Games that I’ve played over and over and over, games that remind me of why I love(d) video games, games that do not betray – even despite the odd crash.

Speaking of crashing, Bethesda sucks. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to traverse the Valley of the Jedi and/or cream my pants over the opera scene.

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