Game Ranter Banter: Mass Effect 3 (Books, Hopes & Marketing), The Last of Us & The Witcher 2
Welcome to the first week of February, and another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Even with all of the great games releasing this week, many of our writers are still focused on looking to the future, thinking about the games releasing later in the year.
Two of the future releases on our minds are The Last of Us, and Mass Effect 3, the key topics of this week's discussion. This weekend, five of our team discuss the hype, hopes and marketing surrounding ME3 along with the mess that was the Mass Effect: Deception novel. We also chat about our concerns for The Last of Us and how CD Projekt Red is doing multiplatform game releases the right way.
Let's get to it...
Sometimes Two's a Crowd (By Anthony Taormina)
When Game Informer revealed this month's issue of their magazine was going to have a large preview of The Last of Us, releasing a few choice screenshots from that preview, I got very excited. Having only seen a short trailer for The Last of Us, along with some brief details from developer Naughty Dog, much of my idea of the game was based on pure speculation.
Unfortunately, aside from looking gorgeous (as you'd expect), what was revealed was a game predicated on many of the game mechanics I tend to dislike: scarce ammo and escort missions. There are elements that seem exciting, and Naughty Dog hasn't failed me in the past, but at this point I have a bit of an "uh oh" feeling.
Yes, I am happy to see Naughty Dog step away from a reliance on gunplay, something that bogged Uncharted 3 down immensely, but I'm also afraid of what they might have put in its place.
Mass Effect 3 Reasons To Be Excited (By: Andrew Dyce)
Whenever expectations or hopes are not met, the usual reaction is to lower them immediately for the follow-up: fool me once shame on you... But after Mass Effect 2 turned out to be a far lighter and shallower experience than the first game had led me to believe was on the way, I can't help finding himself growing more and more optimistic about the impending launch of Mass Effect 3. Customization is back in a big way for both weapons and combat, and the biotic attacks seem to be an absolute must for success, specifically on higher difficulties.
Now the developers at BioWare seem to know exactly what they're after for the end of this trilogy, focusing more on story than new mechanics, and I can't help but feel excited. With combat that looks to be some of the best in the industry, and a multiplayer component that seems as polished and innovative as possible, even my hopes seem to be outdone by the product. I was just hoping for a worthy conclusion to the promise of the first game's story, but if ME3 manages to be everything that it can, this could very well be one of the best console action games ever made.
...but I won't be holding my breath. I might forgive, but I'm not quite ready to forget.
Mass Effect 3's Deception Point (By Brian Sipple)
I’d imagine there are a lot of people right now who haven’t dug in to the Mass Effect line of books and are finding Mass Effect: Deception’s title-fulfilling errors to be quite amusing. For them, the only thing cheapening this oh-so-rich story of BioWare and Del Ray seeking a “patch” for the book is the fact that the victim wasn’t Skyrim developer Bethesda, whose own history of patches could easily fill a paperback or two.
Lost on this crowd (and I can’t deny being a member of it initially) is that such a debacle contains ramifications deeper than the brief red on BioWare’s face. Mass Effect literature has corralled a devoted following under the capable hands of the game’s lead writer Drew Karpyshian. And to invest money and time into a series of books for years, only to find out that you’ve just been robbed of both, is no small thing.
You also have to feel the least bit of remorse for Deception author, William C. Dietz. He’s been in the business a long time; and while we don’t know if he mailed one in for a quick penny, felt squeezed by a deadline, or genuinely couldn’t grasp Karpyshian’s copious ME lore, gaffes like these aren’t exactly what we call resume builders.
For a game trilogy primed to close out on a ridiculously high note, it’s unfortunate that ME’s literary troubles are just getting started.
Adaptation vs. Port (By Trung Bui)
CD Projekt RED released their first developer diary focusing on their adaptation of The Witcher 2 for the Xbox 360. Perhaps one of the most interesting things they talked about in that video was how the game would be adapted for the Xbox 360, rather just ported. This struck me as something interesting and upon further thought, I think it's something more developers should think about.
Obviously, the development process for games can be very long. Skyrim, a game that was released across all three major platforms, saw its share of problems among the console editions.
This brings up an interesting question: Would you rather have a multiplatform game be developed for release on all versions simultaneously or would you rather have to wait for a version that's more catered to the console? Publishers would much rather avoid having to do that in order to sell as many copies as possible as quick as possible, but from the consumer standpoint, when's the last time you got mad at a delay that actually improved a game?
Cross-Marketing Missed Opportunity (By Rob Keyes)
Electronic Arts has stopped at nothing in promoting Mass Effect 3, from action figures and art books containing DLC, Facebook and mobile apps, to cross-marketing the game. Players of the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo for instance, can unlock in-game items for Mass Effect 3. It was a smart way of using their most buzzed about game to help generate buzz for Reckoning.
For some odd reason however, EA did not take the same approach for a game that's in more need of promotion: Syndicate. Syndicate has been in development for many years and it's getting very little attention relative to Kingdoms and ME3, so why didn't EA use last week's launch of the Syndicate demo to include some unlockable Mass Effect 3 items? If anything, Syndicate is more relatable to the Mass Effect universe than the colorful fantasy of Kingdoms of Amalur is.
EA knows this is case as well, having opted to not include the controversial online pass with Syndicate, a co-operative multiplayer game, when they did include an online pass for the single-player Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Confusing, right? Big missed opportunity to generate some more attention for Syndicate.
That's all for this week's Game Ranter Banter. As always, let us know what you think of this week's news in the comments, or on Twitter @GameRant and Facebook.com/GameRant and if you have specific topics you'd like any of the team to cover, don't hesitate to ask.