I recently went through a traumatic event; I lost my Commander Shepard. Not to the hordes of Sarenís Geth; not to legions of Collector drones; not even to that bastard, Harbinger. No, I lost my Shepard to Microsoft.
Some time ago Microsoft introduced the hard drive transfer cable. A neat little bit of tech that allowed gamers to transfer their beloved XBOX 360
data over to a different hard drive. They were even kind enough to offer the cable for free. That is, if you were brave enough to navigate the verbal minefield that is their customer service line.
I was lucky enough to snag one of these cables when a good friend offered me his. Iíd just purchased the - not so - slim XBOX 360
, and needed a way to get my delicious data over to my new baby. It was a simple and somewhat boring process, but soon I was enjoying all of my games and DLC as if nothing had ever changed.
So fast-forward to the launch of Gears of War 3
, and I was ready to trade in my now boring slim, for a beautiful custom console. You see, I lack the ability to say no to such flashy tech. Itís the reason I traded in my Elite for the ďslimĒ. The new crimson Gears 3
console was like a beacon of light calling me forth; it was guiding my way to the local GAME store. It was here that I met a helpful, young employee. She checked my pre-order receipt, took the goods I was looking to trade-in and began testing them. Everything was going smoothly. I decided now was the time to pop the question: ďSo, would it be cool if you transfer the data from my old console, to this one?Ē
She smiled, and replied, ďthat shouldnít be a problem. Iíll just check with the manager though, because Iím not exactly sure how it works with two slim consoles.Ē
I thought. Surely this is a simple task. Surely Microsoft have a cable for exactly this dilemma.
How very, very wrong I was.
You see, Microsoft is the sort of company that doesnít think ahead to the problems of tomorrow. RROD... it will blow over
. Xbox LIVE Gold
is about to expire... No need to add the cancel auto renewal button to the dashboard. No, make them come to our website.
Slim to slim data transfer... No, weíll sort that out later. Itís not really a big deal at launch, or the year after.
It is a big deal, though. Itís a big deal because I love my data. I spent hundreds of hours accumulating it, and Iíd very much like to keep it. Now, Iím not opposed to starting a game from scratch because letís face it, few games really go as far as to personalise their data to you. However, this is not the case with Mass Effect
and its sequel. That data was very much personalised to me.
The prospect of creating a character, shaping his personality and then having everything carry over to the subsequent games was like heaven to me. Iíd dreamed of such continuity since my days trying to permanently kill Tails in Sonic 2
. Iíd spent an hour perfectly modelling my Commander Shepardís physical appearance so that he looked like me Ė albeit with a ridiculous haircut Ė and hundreds of hours making him a complete and utter bad ass. Iíd been waiting on baited breath for Mass Effect 3
to ship so that I, and my avatar, could finally destroy the Reapers. So, as I watched the store manager pace across the shop floor, with a look of utter disgust on her face, I knew that Shepardís life support was about to be switched off.
ďThere is currently no way to transfer data from slim to slim using a cable. You can use a flash-drive, but Microsoft caps the limit at 16GB, and youíd have to buy it before we can make the transfer."
I knew, even before my hand slid into my pocket to check my wallet, that I didnít have the funds available. You see, Iíd just finished University and I was seriously poor. I was in the process of trading in everything I wouldnít miss in order to come home with this console. Iím not naÔve, however, and I know that my lust for shiny toys was ultimately to blame for my misfortune in this instance, but Iíll be damned if I didnít want to create a singularity in the middle of that shop floor.
I sucked my tears back into my eye sockets; I handed over the last £20 note I had on my person; I told the young lady she could pull the plug on Shepard, and then left the store with a new console.
Last night was the first time I played Mass Effect
since the tragedy of that fateful day. I tried for an hour to rebuild the face that now haunted my dreams, but even after getting 99% of him right I still feel odd when I look at him. It feels wrong, and I know heís not the same person who deliberately killed off Jacob Taylor because he wouldnít stop saluting me. No, this is Shepard 2.0; the failed clone of a brilliant and sadistic man.
I guess the point of this is to highlight the attachment a gamer forms with their avatar. It is a strange, yet wonderful, bond, and one that we cherish in a way similar to the way we value our own personal traits. Iím not saying Iíd kill you if you salute me, but I am saying that Iíd happily let the British Government die if they failed to acknowledge the Reaper threat.