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+ Under Fire by Drake Tsui

Under Fire by Drake Tsui

THIS DAY IN DLC:

Bioshock Slapped with a Season Pass and Mass Effect Delivers Its Last Hurrah

Little more than a month away, the extremely belated, but anxiously awaited, Bioshock Infinite will hit stores, finally letting players wreak all manners of havoc within the airborne confines of Columbia.  Fearing you might find your time with the game…finite (fuckin’ nailed it), Irrational is prepping three separate DLC packs to pad out the narrative.

And like any DLC preemptively announced before a game’s release, you can bet your bottom dollar, friend, that a Season Pass is on its way.  All three mystery content packs can be yours with the $20/1600 MS Pass; for your troubles, an additional content pack containing a what’s-what of weapon upgrades and stat-increasing Infusion bottles is thrown in with the Pass.  Bioshock Infinite takes off March 26th.

While a new chapter for Bioshock begins, Mass Effect 3's long running series of downloadable add-on's comes to an end beginning Feb. 26th.  Starting with a free multiplayer update, Reckoning brings with it four new classes — if you were curious: Geth Juggernaut, Cabal Vanguard, Talon Mercenary, and the Alliance Infiltration Unit — as well a pretty, pretty arsenal of seven new weapons.

March 5th sees the game’s very last shred of single-player DLC as Citadel becomes available, priced at $14.99/1200 MS.  Returning you to the content’s colossal namesake space station, Shepard finds himself at the center of an insidious conspiracy only snappy decision making and generous biotic-blasting can quell.  The fan-servicing attraction here is the rogues gallery of Mass Effect Trilogy alumni you’ll encounter on your journey, allowing players to bid farewell to their assorted favorites (“Godspeed, Miranda’s ass.”).

Red Herb Review: The Top 10 Games of 2012

imageRumor — the invisible force said to actually power the internet — has it that this console generation is coming to a close.  If this truly is the last year of this triumphant generation, a generation that began as any other (with pretty graphics and prettier promises) but evolved into a full blown fusion of home media and dedicated gaming, then it’s all the more important to reflect on the virtual adventures 2012 gave us.

We laughed, we cried, we cried even harder trying to slog through Halo 4 on Legendary…2012 was the culmination of six years of advancement, where devs’ were past their growing pains fumbling with new technology and knew how to fully utilize the tools at their disposal.   2012 was a year in which we reaped the benefits tenfold through the sheer amount of excellent games rapid-fired onto store shelves (or, more realistically, Steam shelves.  Yeah.  Steam shelves).

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The Red Herb Roundup: Roundup Unknown

10/15/12

I’ve resurfaced from ceaselessly playing Resident Evil 6 with all limbs and most bodily functions intact if a little scarred, so I thought I’d bring you humble folks another award winning dose of the Roundup (and, yes, giving yourself awards is almost as sad as coining your own nickname — same ballpark, really).

Last week in games we laughed, we cried, and we bore witness to the internet leaking the shit out of Halo.  Just another week in this wonderful industry.  Welcome back to the Roundup.

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+ Mass Effect 3's 'Leviathan' DLC Incoming This Summer (Wii U Release…Er, Later)
The first story-based DLC to drop for Mass Effect 3 since the Extended Cut, EA and Bioware have confirmed that Shepard’s the universe over will be able to download the Leviathan DLC sometime this Summer.
Given the somewhat final nature of the game’s closing, Leviathan is a side-story taking place during the Commander’s last minute shuffle to prepare the galaxy for (hopeless, one-sided) war against the Reapers.  In his/her travels, rumors circulate around tales of an entity or creature of immense power; maybe powerful enough to stop the Reapers.  On the hunt for this supposed Leviathan (a being that may just be a Reaper itself), Shepard will visit new systems, tread unseen ground on the Citadel, befriend new characters, and learn more about our sentient doom-bringers than ever before.
Leviathan, to be made available at either $10 or 800 MS on PC, PSN, and Xbox Live, also comes packing new arsenal: the AT-12 Shotgun and the M-55 Argus Assault Rifle.  If that’s not enough for you to take on the cosmos at large (and you’d be right), August 7th brings the Firefight Pack, a weapons payload for single-player campaign use that features two brand new guns as well as an additional five space heaters to the tune of $2.  In case you want to be…thorough.
If you’re one of the few holding out for the Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 (…anyone?  Anyone out there?  I literally hear cobwebs), your bewildering patience will pay off as Bioware is bundling most of the game’s current DLC as on-disc content, including both the Extended Cut and Leviathan.  An interactive recap of the first two ME titles will also be thrown in so you Nintendo faithful can catch up on all the sci-fi goodness without being bogged down by all that unnecessarily fun gameplay.  Like the Wii U itself, no date was placed on the ME3 port.
Catch a glimpse of Leviathan hereabouts.

Mass Effect 3's 'Leviathan' DLC Incoming This Summer (Wii U Release…Er, Later)

The first story-based DLC to drop for Mass Effect 3 since the Extended Cut, EA and Bioware have confirmed that Shepard’s the universe over will be able to download the Leviathan DLC sometime this Summer.

Given the somewhat final nature of the game’s closing, Leviathan is a side-story taking place during the Commander’s last minute shuffle to prepare the galaxy for (hopeless, one-sided) war against the Reapers.  In his/her travels, rumors circulate around tales of an entity or creature of immense power; maybe powerful enough to stop the Reapers.  On the hunt for this supposed Leviathan (a being that may just be a Reaper itself), Shepard will visit new systems, tread unseen ground on the Citadel, befriend new characters, and learn more about our sentient doom-bringers than ever before.

Leviathan, to be made available at either $10 or 800 MS on PC, PSN, and Xbox Live, also comes packing new arsenal: the AT-12 Shotgun and the M-55 Argus Assault Rifle.  If that’s not enough for you to take on the cosmos at large (and you’d be right), August 7th brings the Firefight Pack, a weapons payload for single-player campaign use that features two brand new guns as well as an additional five space heaters to the tune of $2.  In case you want to be…thorough.

If you’re one of the few holding out for the Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 (…anyone?  Anyone out there?  I literally hear cobwebs), your bewildering patience will pay off as Bioware is bundling most of the game’s current DLC as on-disc content, including both the Extended Cut and Leviathan.  An interactive recap of the first two ME titles will also be thrown in so you Nintendo faithful can catch up on all the sci-fi goodness without being bogged down by all that unnecessarily fun gameplay.  Like the Wii U itself, no date was placed on the ME3 port.

Catch a glimpse of Leviathan hereabouts.

+ Mass Effect 3's Extended Finale Free to Download on Tuesday
The PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions of Bioware’s third space odyssey will be receiving the extended ending in the form of a free download starting Tuesday, June 26th.
Bioware claims the Extended Cut will not fundamentally change the endings already present in the game.  Whether or not you found the resolution to your Shepard’s storyline satisfying, that conclusion is there to stay.  However, through additional dialogue and scenes spotlighting how your choices affected the galaxy at large, Bioware hopes players can find deeper meaning in the supplemented finale.
"It provides more of the answers and closure that players have been asking for. It gives a sense of what the future holds as a result of the decisions made throughout the series. And it shows greater detail in the successes or failures based on how players achieved their endings," says Bioware.
That’s right about within the ballpark of my initial complaints towards the ending(s).  Thematically, I was actually pretty okay with the outcome.  But three games worth of decisions amounted to a static conclusion that disregarded them all.  Not so okay.  Altering the ending is tricky business and still probably won’t be enough to assuage fans — the Extended Cut may only prove to irk the fan base even more but…You just can’t beat free.

Mass Effect 3's Extended Finale Free to Download on Tuesday

The PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions of Bioware’s third space odyssey will be receiving the extended ending in the form of a free download starting Tuesday, June 26th.

Bioware claims the Extended Cut will not fundamentally change the endings already present in the game.  Whether or not you found the resolution to your Shepard’s storyline satisfying, that conclusion is there to stay.  However, through additional dialogue and scenes spotlighting how your choices affected the galaxy at large, Bioware hopes players can find deeper meaning in the supplemented finale.

"It provides more of the answers and closure that players have been asking for. It gives a sense of what the future holds as a result of the decisions made throughout the series. And it shows greater detail in the successes or failures based on how players achieved their endings," says Bioware.

That’s right about within the ballpark of my initial complaints towards the ending(s).  Thematically, I was actually pretty okay with the outcome.  But three games worth of decisions amounted to a static conclusion that disregarded them all.  Not so okay.  Altering the ending is tricky business and still probably won’t be enough to assuage fans — the Extended Cut may only prove to irk the fan base even more but…You just can’t beat free.

+ Don’t Buy Digital?  You’re Halting Progress

"A lot of our consumers don’t own credit cards. A lot of our consumers are still afraid of what happened to the PlayStation Network when 77 million accounts were accessed by Anonymous in 2011.
A lot of our consumers prefer to go into retail, buy those Xbox Live or PlayStation Network cards, and retail gets a very strong margin on that. For retail, if they can evolve to be not just a physical media purveyor, but a digital media purveyor, it’ll play a very strong role in our business going forward.”
-EA’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore

It’s interesting to hear that the consensus between video game publishers and developers is that digital distribution is the market’s next evolution; a model they all seem to believe can take over the business space as soon as tomorrow, but they shake their fists at those pesky brick n’ mortar retailers stuck in the past as well as those silly analog consumers afraid of change, blaming both parties for impeding the wave of the future.
Forget about the fact companies like EA fail to present a competitive pricing structure for their digital downloads (as pointed out in this article), and that they always like to fuck us hard enough to shake the change out of our pockets with monetary schemes the likes of the ever contemptuous day one DLC.
Moore himself seemed plum tickled at Mass Effect 3's padded numbers thanks to at-release DLC, "we saw a 40% attach rate that first week to DLC at GameStop in the United States. Not only are you selling a $60 game … you’re selling $20 DLC, so the sale becomes $80."  Mr. Moore, if you’d like consumers and retailers alike to step out of the past, it’s time to leave behind your gleeful, ‘80’s businessman-esque greed behind as well.

Don’t Buy Digital?  You’re Halting Progress

"A lot of our consumers don’t own credit cards. A lot of our consumers are still afraid of what happened to the PlayStation Network when 77 million accounts were accessed by Anonymous in 2011.

A lot of our consumers prefer to go into retail, buy those Xbox Live or PlayStation Network cards, and retail gets a very strong margin on that. For retail, if they can evolve to be not just a physical media purveyor, but a digital media purveyor, it’ll play a very strong role in our business going forward.”

-EA’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore

It’s interesting to hear that the consensus between video game publishers and developers is that digital distribution is the market’s next evolution; a model they all seem to believe can take over the business space as soon as tomorrow, but they shake their fists at those pesky brick n’ mortar retailers stuck in the past as well as those silly analog consumers afraid of change, blaming both parties for impeding the wave of the future.

Forget about the fact companies like EA fail to present a competitive pricing structure for their digital downloads (as pointed out in this article), and that they always like to fuck us hard enough to shake the change out of our pockets with monetary schemes the likes of the ever contemptuous day one DLC.

Moore himself seemed plum tickled at Mass Effect 3's padded numbers thanks to at-release DLC, "we saw a 40% attach rate that first week to DLC at GameStop in the United States. Not only are you selling a $60 game … you’re selling $20 DLC, so the sale becomes $80."  Mr. Moore, if you’d like consumers and retailers alike to step out of the past, it’s time to leave behind your gleeful, ‘80’s businessman-esque greed behind as well.

+ ME3 - A future for Rannoch by Lornet

ME3 - A future for Rannoch by Lornet

+ Bioware Actually Did It - Mass Effect 3's Ending Altered in Extended Cut
An ending holds quite a lot of power.  No matter how varied, how intense, or how good the journey was, a bad ending is strong enough to vaporize those experiences and replace them with the morning-breath taste of disappointment.
Such was exactly the case with Bioware’s closing chapter of the sci-fi odyssey that is Mass Effect.  I don’t need to get into why the ending was bad.  For as divergent and unique the paths our Shepards blazed, we remain united in our stance that the endings provided sucked.  It was about the only time a Return of the King, week long epilogue was acceptable.  Now, Bioware is working around the clock to, surprisingly, bring us additional content sort of along those lines.
Simply dubbed Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, the DLC is planned for all platforms over the summer and comes with additional scenes and narrative to compliment your final choice in the game.  Bioware promises the Extended Cut will offer even more clarity and insights while managing to stay faithful to the development team’s vision.  Mass Effect producer Casey Hudson believes the content presents the ending “in a way that will feel more personalized for each player.”  In another bow to fan service, the content is downloadable for free.
If done right, Bioware, this could mark the end of the vehement bitching that has ensued since last month.  Mass Effect 3 left me with more questions than I can ask (most notably, what the hell happened to my team?!), let’s hope Bioware is careful with their answers.  This can easily be more of everything we don’t want out of this game — reworking endings is volatile work, after all.  But for many fans, this is our only shot at closure.

Bioware Actually Did It - Mass Effect 3's Ending Altered in Extended Cut

An ending holds quite a lot of power.  No matter how varied, how intense, or how good the journey was, a bad ending is strong enough to vaporize those experiences and replace them with the morning-breath taste of disappointment.

Such was exactly the case with Bioware’s closing chapter of the sci-fi odyssey that is Mass Effect.  I don’t need to get into why the ending was bad.  For as divergent and unique the paths our Shepards blazed, we remain united in our stance that the endings provided sucked.  It was about the only time a Return of the King, week long epilogue was acceptable.  Now, Bioware is working around the clock to, surprisingly, bring us additional content sort of along those lines.

Simply dubbed Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, the DLC is planned for all platforms over the summer and comes with additional scenes and narrative to compliment your final choice in the game.  Bioware promises the Extended Cut will offer even more clarity and insights while managing to stay faithful to the development team’s vision.  Mass Effect producer Casey Hudson believes the content presents the ending “in a way that will feel more personalized for each player.”  In another bow to fan service, the content is downloadable for free.

If done right, Bioware, this could mark the end of the vehement bitching that has ensued since last month.  Mass Effect 3 left me with more questions than I can ask (most notably, what the hell happened to my team?!), let’s hope Bioware is careful with their answers.  This can easily be more of everything we don’t want out of this game — reworking endings is volatile work, after all.  But for many fans, this is our only shot at closure.

Dig This: Toonami’s T.O.M. Reviews Mass Effect 3

As an April’s Fools gag, Adult Swim went above and beyond your average prank and aired a solid night’s block of old school Toonami programming.  From Dragon Ball Z to Gundam Wing, in one astounding fell swoop, Adult Swim made up for the many suicides it incurred the year they put Tommy Wiseau’s painful The Room into rotation.

Rather than re-airing old footage of T.O.M., renowned voice actor Steve Blum (the dude has literally done voice work for every game you own) was brought back on to host, leaving us with the above treat: a quickie Mass Effect 3 review in the very same format we were privy to as kids.  Blum swiftly sent a message to fans afterwards prompting anyone that wants Toonami to be more than a single night’s joke to write Cartoon Network (after the link, look under “programming” and then “Toonami”).  Let them know we refuse to live any longer with T.O.M. off the air.

+ Kai Leng vs Shepard by Benjamin Huen

Kai Leng vs Shepard by Benjamin Huen

+ Bioware Addressing Mass Effect 3's Contemptuous Ending
I’ve already dug into Mass Effect 3's dissatisfying ending, and I reflected the same feeling quite a lot of you fans out there share: the bulk of the game is brilliant; the ending, however, is derisive, narrow visioned tripe.
While Bioware’s general manager and co-founder, Ray Muzyka, doesn’t agree with the criticism — calling ME3 “the best work we’ve created yet” — he does concede through the Bioware Blog that the developer needs to bend a knee with humility and honor the loyal fans that have seen Shepard through to the bitter end.
Aside from previously planned content still in the works, the development team is working overtime in order to provide fans with the sense of closure they’re missing.  Pooling together what you, the fans, have said on numerous social outlets like Facebook and Twitter, as well as forums and gaming outlets, Muzyka says, “Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey.”  We’re likely a bit far off from seeing this content yet, but solid details are coming our way as soon as April.
"It’s incredibly painful to receive feedback from our core fans that the game’s endings were not up to their expectations. Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics – but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility," admits Ray, in a surprisingly honest open letter to fans.  In most circumstances, if a dev is liable to say anything at all, it’s usually the former; defending their work tooth and nail, bouncing criticism (constructive or otherwise) right off.
Mass Effect purveyors, what do you think?    I desperately need closure in place of the ambiguous finale my Shepard received, there’s no two ways around that.  But to have an official ending altered (or supplemented, as is the case here), possibly damaging Bioware’s original vision for the game, in an attempt to get a gold star in the fan service department?  How does this concession sound to you?

Bioware Addressing Mass Effect 3's Contemptuous Ending

I’ve already dug into Mass Effect 3's dissatisfying ending, and I reflected the same feeling quite a lot of you fans out there share: the bulk of the game is brilliant; the ending, however, is derisive, narrow visioned tripe.

While Bioware’s general manager and co-founder, Ray Muzyka, doesn’t agree with the criticism — calling ME3 “the best work we’ve created yet” — he does concede through the Bioware Blog that the developer needs to bend a knee with humility and honor the loyal fans that have seen Shepard through to the bitter end.

Aside from previously planned content still in the works, the development team is working overtime in order to provide fans with the sense of closure they’re missing.  Pooling together what you, the fans, have said on numerous social outlets like Facebook and Twitter, as well as forums and gaming outlets, Muzyka says, “Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey.”  We’re likely a bit far off from seeing this content yet, but solid details are coming our way as soon as April.

"It’s incredibly painful to receive feedback from our core fans that the game’s endings were not up to their expectations. Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics – but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility," admits Ray, in a surprisingly honest open letter to fans.  In most circumstances, if a dev is liable to say anything at all, it’s usually the former; defending their work tooth and nail, bouncing criticism (constructive or otherwise) right off.

Mass Effect purveyors, what do you think?    I desperately need closure in place of the ambiguous finale my Shepard received, there’s no two ways around that.  But to have an official ending altered (or supplemented, as is the case here), possibly damaging Bioware’s original vision for the game, in an attempt to get a gold star in the fan service department?  How does this concession sound to you?

Red Herb Review: Mass Effect 3

All great sagas come to a close.  No matter how long we want to stay in the universes we’ve grown to love, a finale is imminent; needed even.  The ambitious sci-fi RPG Mass Effect was destined to end from the start, planned by Bioware as a three chapter odyssey where the most important game mechanic was choice.  The galaxy rippled and changed depending on your actions, with every decision shaping the course of the narrative.  Change can be ushered in by something as insignificant as a conversation.  Or as big as taking a life.

Every choice and mistake were yours to own not just for one game, but for all.  Bioware promised the path you blazed with Commander Shepard would uniquely affect every title in the series, right up until the finale.  Mass Effect 3 does in fact drop the curtains on gaming’s best sci-fi series, but you’ll be disappointed to learn that three games worth of building alliances, crushing enemies, and choosing how to best save the galaxy have no effect on the game’s ending, very much robbing Bioware’s opus of a sense of finality.  Keep in mind that Mass Effect 3 is still the spiraling, nuanced sci-fi adventure you want; just not the epic conclusion fans deserve.

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+ You took off the whole day to play Mass Effect?  Bro, it’s what they want.

You took off the whole day to play Mass Effect?  Bro, it’s what they want.