Hi all, my name is David, and I have a lot of passion for the world of gaming. Passion, not necessarily skill. One thing I enjoy as much as immersing myself in these fantastic worlds is discussing them with my fellow connoisseurs. The contents of this blog will be whatever I feel like writing about at the time, perhaps news, or the odd review, or just a topic I want to ramble about.
In an industry still reeling from the spectacular collapse of THQ, another titan has fallen. After three decades at the head of the game, LucasArts, as a developer, is no more. Since its acquisition by Disney in 2012, all game development has ground to a halt, until finally Disney announced that, going forward, LucasArts will exist purely to manage the licensing of games in Star Wars and other LucasArts franchises. This is the end of an era, a death knell for the studio's grand history of Star Wars titles and other great adventure games...
... oh wait, no it isn't. For the longest time the great Star Wars games have been licensed out anyway. Travellers Tales gave us LEGO Star Wars, Bioware and Obsidian gave us KOTOR. We got Empire at War from Petroglyph, and my beloved Battlefront from Pandemic. Of the games LucasArts itself has made, in recent memory there is only the Force Unleashed, which went from mediocre to downright bad in the second game. Before that, the last properly good Star Wars game from LucasArts was Republic Commando. In 2005. I wasn't even in high school! The simple fact is that licensing is how good Star Wars has been done for a long time, so on that front nothing is really changed.
As for other LucasArts classics, like Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle, those stopped before I started playing games. They are literally before the time of most gamers today, so I highly doubt this event has had a negative impact on the prospects of more great LucasArts adventure games. The people who made those are, by and large, gone from LucasArts, nothing along those lines could be expected again.
The only loose end is Star Wars: 1313, the upcoming game about a bounty hunter in Coruscant's underworld, indeed being developed by LucasArts. News on 1313 stopped flowing months ago, and we now know that development has ceased, awaiting the possibility of another studio taking up the mantle. And that's exactly what I hope happens. Even before laying off the majority of development staff, the sad fact is LucasArts seemed to be losing its mojo, and it's entirely possible that another company will be able to make a better product than LucasArts could. Sure, 1313 LOOKED good, but how much did we really know about it? They barely showed us anything. I wouldn't be crushed if 1313 vanished into oblivion, but more than likely this is actually a good thing, and I hope it encourages Disney to greenlight more licensed Star Wars games. Like Battlefront 3.
The rules are simple. Watch any of my videos, and leave comments, whatever you want to say about the video. On April 15th, I'll choose my favourite and give that person the key. http://youtube.com/vredegaming Go.
BioShock has always been a franchise praised for its story, and perhaps for Infinite this is most true. Indeed the only common criticism I have heard is that there is literally too much going on, and some aspects fall to the wayside as the focus shifts entirely to the (brilliant) character arc of Elizabeth. Other interesting characters miss their chance for the spotlight, Columbia becomes the backdrop rather than the main event that Rapture was, and today I want to talk about the multiple universe malarkey that may have been hard to follow without paying close attention, and at least a passing knowledge of quantum mechanics.
The part of quantum mechanics we need to understand is that every event eventually comes down to probability. At any given point in space and time, there are a list of options, possibilities, each with a certain (but often unobservable) chance of occurring. Applied to the multiverse of BioShock, the idea is that when an event comes to pass, parallel worlds are created for every other possibility, splitting off like branches in a tree. Every point where options exist results in divergent worlds, from the microscopic (particle spin direction) to the macroscopic (Booker accepts/rejects baptism). Now, with half a semesters theoretical physics out of the way -just go with it- here's a quick and dirty guide to what I think happened in regards to Infinite's multiple worlds. I must reiterate that I am about to SPOIL EVERYTHING!
Comstock is Booker DeWitt (I did warn you about spoilers...) in any world where Booker turned to religion to cope with his guilt after the Wounded Knee Massacre. The Bookers that rejected the baptism went on to join the Pinkertons, have daughters named Anna, and rack up massive gambling debts. When Comstock hires Lutece to build his city in the sky, they accidentally discover the tears: Comstock views them as a way to predict the future, while the Lutece twins (actually alternate versions of each other) wish to manipulate tears so they can meet.
The tears show Comstock that only his heir can fulfil his grand visions for a new world, but by that point the Lutece's experiments have rendered him sterile. Comstock resolves to acquire the daughter of a Booker who refused the baptism, with the Lutece's arranging the transfer in exchange for paying off Booker's debts. During the transfer, a tear closes on Anna's hand, leaving her pinky finger in her home universe, which somehow gives her the power to manipulate tears. Comstock renames the child Elizabeth, and siphons her power to keep her under control and to fuel Columbia's impossible existence.
To keep the secret of Anna/Elizabeth's origins, Comstock murders his wife and the Lutece twins. However, due to their unique nature, and a botched assassination attempt, the twins become unstuck from all universes, allowing their apparent omnipresence and omniscience. Perhaps for revenge, or perhaps remorse, the twins resolve to undo Columbia, and enlist Booker for the task. For reasons unknown, Booker forgets Anna's existence and believes he must secure Elizabeth to pay his debt.
Shenanigans ensue and just play the bloody game if you've read this far and somehow haven't already. Booker and Elizabeth visit at least four unique versions of Columbia, and if you think too hard it all becomes a mess of either plotholes or intentional "Just take our word for it" quantum nonsense. Anyway, eventually Elizabeth regains her full powers and becomes aware of her true nature. Determining that they must prevent all of this from happening by erasing Comstock from every world, Elizabeth takes Booker back to his baptism, and drowns him. Through more slightly iffy pseudo-science, this kills every Booker that accepted the baptism, and prevents any Comstock from ever existing. This seemingly leaves all the myriad Bookers and their daughters Anna to live in piece.
The sharp eyed may have spotted the paradox here: if all that never happened, then Elizabeth never drowned Booker and never stopped it from happening so it did happen and so on and so forth. One possibility is that you're right, and some kind of extra-dimensional loop has been set up, with Columbia popping in and out of the multiverse ad infinitum. I, however, would like to believe that the universe has compensated for the paradox, and the DeWitts really do get there happy ending. Go on, prove me wrong.
Warning: Minor spoilers for Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC to follow.
The very last piece of DLC in the last game of the Mass Effect trilogy is a few hours of unmitigated fan service, and if you realise that that's all it is meant to be, it is an absolute home run for Bioware. This swan song is jam-packed with references, in-jokes, and tidbits of lore, but if you know where to look, these asides are just window dressing on one of the best pieces of added content I've ever seen.
My three favourite moments in Citadel were an old ally's explosive introduction, Shepard and co stuck inside a vault, and the entire party sequence. What all of these have in common is that they are character moments. Bioware has, quite rightly, become famous for its character writing, and Mass Effect has one of the best ensemble casts in the medium, if not in any medium. It is a testament to this fact that a players preferred squadmates usually comes down to subjective preference, rather than a tangible difference in the quality of the characters.
Citadel is, above all else, a celebration of the people you've had by your side for however many dozens of hours you've explored this world. Every past squadmate can participate in a major way (barring two who simply can't appear for lore reasons, and happen to be two of my favourites -.-), and even a handful of the Normandy's crew get far more screentime per hour of gameplay than ever before. If you've played through all of the Mass Effect games, odds are you like at least a few of these characters, and it would be a disservice to yourself to miss out on this final farewell.
Now EA has taken a lot of flak for its business practices recently, no small amount of it from me, but EA didn't do this. Bioware did, and they did it right, so they deserve to be rewarded. This could have been one last attempt to wring more money from loyal customers, but the developers went above and beyond to make this one special. Well, the combat is a bit dull, but if this DLC is for you, you probably don't play Mass Effect for the combat. We play to experience the world and its inhabitants, and this is that goodness distilled to near perfection.
As an added bonus, if you're still upset about all the crucible nonsense, Citadel makes a much better alternate ending than the Extended Cut. Just play up to the signposted 'No Turning Back' mission, then do Citadel, then close the game with our heroes refreshed, their friendships bolstered, riding into the sunset on a high, if inconclusive, note.