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11:49 PM on 06.26.2012

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC, my $0.02 *spoilers*

The original ending to Mass Effect 3 was pretty bad, to put it bluntly. The trilogy emphasized player choice, bringing disparate peoples together as one for a greater good, and the bonds of friendship--until the final 30 minutes of the third game.

Suddenly, we're thrown into a Deus Ex Machina situation and introduced to a critical character at the last minute. This Star Child gives us three options--Control the Reapers, Destroy all synthetic life, or fuse all synthetics and organic life together into some bizarre space-magic hybrid.

Not that these were actual choices. The end scenes were nearly identical, save for the color of the explosion at the end.

More infuriating were the strange plot holes. How did Garrus go from lying on the ground, comatose or dead, near the conduit, to fleeing in the Normandy? Why was the Normandy fleeing to begin with? How was anyone to survive when you had several alien races stranded in a devastated Sol system and broken mass relays?

Some fans were understandably quite upset. Not only was it a bad ending; it was jarring, inconclusive, and full of plot holes. It was a sour note to end the story of Commander Shepard on, and we deserved better.

Bioware heard our complaints and answered with the Extended Cut DLC.

I can't stress this enough, so I'll put this in bold:

I am so grateful they took the time and effort to respond to their fans. I'm happy they gave us the Extended Cut DLC, even though they could have easily just walked away.

The ME3EC closes some of the worst plot holes. Shepard, concerned for the well-being of his friends, calls in Joker to take them to safety before he makes his final approach. This time, Joker stays until it's clear they can't wait any longer--despite a withdraw order having been given several minutes before. This time, the mass relays are merely damaged, and can be repaired.

Of course, we still have a literal ending machine and the Star Child still spouts this bizarre string of unlogic:

You still have the same 3 choices--Control, Destroy, or Synthesis--with the same outcomes, more or less. But this time, they go to the trouble of showing you the fate of the galaxy after your choice. In any of these outcomes, there is good and bad. In every choice, there is a future for the galaxy Shepard worked so hard to protect.

The dialogue options elucidate the background and consequences of your choices far better than before, even if the Star Child is still pants-on-head insane.

I haven't mentioned there's actually now a fourth option--Refusal. You can refuse to play the Star Child's game, and "die free". This results in an abrupt ending where everyone dies, and it cuts to Liara's hologram explaining nothing they could do could stop the Reapers.

This ending can be viewed as an admonishment and warning to those who complained about the ending. You can stamp your feet and wail all you'd like, but you're powerless to effect change without the beneficence of a greater power. In other words, they've indulged our little tantrum but this is all we get. If we push harder, then we'll meet the same fate as the rebellious Shepard. Well, okay, Bioware's not going to send hitmen (hit reapers?) to our homes, but they'll certainly ignore any further pleas.

As well they should. They went above and beyond to answer our complaints, and to ask for more would be greedy and entitled. Yes, I used the e word. This isn't a perfect ending--it's built on the same flawed framework the former ending was built on. I encourage everyone to discuss, praise, or criticize it--I'm sure it deserves all three in some measure.

It's not perfect, but it transformed the end into something I can be satisfied with, something that grants closure. This time, I'm happy to say my Shepard chose to Control the Reapers; because he believed every race and every person had a right to exist, had a right to think, had a right to grow. Even the Reapers.   read

9:33 PM on 07.30.2011

Why the 3DS price cut is upsetting.

Nintendo recently announced an $80 price drop on the 3DS, taking the price from $250 to $170. This was done in response to poor sales, and they're selling their hardware at a loss for the first time in many years. They're compensating early adopters with a whopping 20 downloadable games. Some gamers, including myself, are rather irritated with this announcement.

I understand and support the decision to the point, but I believe I (and others) are justifiably upset.

Points are numbered because I'm too much of a derper to figure out bullet points on dtoid.

I understand and support Nintendo's decision. My anger comes from betrayed expectations rather than the price cut itself.

Supporting points:

1) It had to be done.
The 3DS is widely perceived as just another iteration of the DS. The price jump for the 3DS shocked many consumers used to low DS price points. With the PS Vita also announced at the same price point and sluggish sales, they had to do something drastic to move units. As price was among the largest barriers to adoption, it was logical to drop the price.

2) Driving the sale of more units can only be beneficial to the established user base.
It will allow us to actually get streetpass hits outside of nerd conventions and widen our options for online play. It will get more developers on board with the 3DS and increase our access to 3rd party games.

3) They're giving early adopters 10 NES classic and 10 GBA downloads for their 3DS.
If one assumes NES games are valued at $5 and GBA games are valued at $8, that's worth $130 compared to the $80 price drop.

4) They owe early adopters nothing.
It's a valid point, but they risk alienating their most ardent fans if they chose to do nothing for them.

5) We paid $250 thinking the system was worth that much--a price drop for everyone else doesn't decrease the value we received.
A popular argument, but incorrect. If you buy a stock at $250 and the price drops to $170, you've lost $80 in value. It's the same principle. There is a point there, however. We did think it was worth $250 to begin with.

Points against:

1) The $80 price drop is extremely sudden (a mere 5 months after release) and drastic (over 30%). "Early adopter tax" is to be expected when dealing with technology and gadgets, but this is extreme in both time frame and scale. Rather than brushing off the entire issue as "lol early adoption", one should ask "What did early adopters get for that $80?"

2) We willingly paid $250 for the privilege of having access to the 3DS earlier than those who waited for a price drop.
We did so because we believed Nintendo would reward our faith with the functionality and games they promised us pre-release.Our faith was not rewarded. We received was a crippled system with no online functionality at all for several months and a terrible library. One expects early console libraries to be a bit anemic, but many 3DSes spent their days either gathering dust or in DS legacy mode. The only major title released by Nintendo itself was a port of a decade-old N64 game and came out just last month!

3) The price drop comes before all of the big-name titles will be released. (e.g. Mario Land, Star Fox, Mario Kart, Kid Icarus)
Part of that early adoption tax was going toward getting to play those games before everyone else (or just play them earlier, period). We expected it might be a year at least before a price drop. Because the early adoption window was cut short, that tax pretty much paid for nothing.

4) Would you take a deal where you could spend $80 and get 10 NES games and 10 GBA games? That's exactly what this package is. Many people would take that and take it gladly, but many more would not. $80 is a significant sum of money that would go toward more modern games, or more practical things. Our early adoption tax, which was to go toward things Nintendo promised us and that we decided we wanted (next generation handheld console gaming), was instead converted to a coupon for games we didn't want. It's not to say the games are bad, but it wasn't what we had in mind when buying the system. Personally, I'm not especially interested in titles I've already played to death on their original systems--at the very least it's not why I purchased a 3DS.

5) 20 games sounds like a lot. It is a lot That's a positive point, right? Yes, but it's also a point against.
The value you receive from the compensation is equivalent to the games you actually play. As new games will (supposedly) be coming out with greater frequency after the Ambassador games are awarded, chances are more than half of those games will lie fallow. I'd speculate your average gamer might play 5 of those games to any significant extent, which would be equivalent to $25-$40 actual compensation. Very few people will have the time to get the full value of the package. (I'm just hand-waving regarding number of games played, obviously it will vary)

6) 3DS downloads are tied to a specific console, not an account.
This means if some accident befalls your 3DS's data, you've lost your entire compensation package. This isn't exactly common, but it's not unheard of either. It's more a strike against the 3DS itself, but the games do share this "weakness".

7) The package promises the games will be worth playing. The problem is we got into this mess by believing Nintendo's promises we would have good games. Thus far the e-shop's selection and organization is terrible.

I understand why Nintendo did it. They had to do it, and in the end it will be the best thing for everyone. That doesn't mean early adopters don't have the right to be upset, however. Nintendo realizes that and gave us an admittedly generous compensation package. Practically speaking, the package isn't quite as valuable as it seems because it costs time to realize its potential.

In the end, I'm not angry because they cut the price. I'm not even angry that the game package isn't worth much to me. I'm angry because I believed Nintendo could keep its promises and reward me for my faith in them. I purchased a 3DS at launch because I believed they would deliver to me a great gaming experience, and my extra time with that experience would be worth the price premium.

I'm angry because Nintendo betrayed my faith in them. The promises went unfulfilled, and I'm frustrated because I have nothing to show for adopting early. The late adopters will spend less and get the same great experience, because my time with the console in its launch phase was worth nothing. The games are a great gesture, and I'm so grateful Nintendo thought of us. But it's little more than an absentee father buying his son a nerf gun because he couldn't make the school play--he had a meeting at work. It's a great gesture, it couldn't be helped, but what we really wanted was Dadtendo to keep his promises.   read

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