There Is Nothing Left To News: The Weekly Round-Up

I haven’t done a news round-up for a while, but I was burgled recently, so have a little sympathy.

EA are the worst company in America, apparently

As far as accolades go, crowning a corporation the “worst company in America” seems a little harsh, but mega-publisher EA were bestowed the dubious honour by the readers of The Consumerist in an epic league-table of shittery. When did we get so mean? EA beat the Bank of America in the final round, and I’ve got to question the integrity of voters who thought that EA are worse than a bank. A bank? At least EA actually made money last year (zing). In response, the EA Senior Director of Corporate Communications John Reseburg came out and said that “British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year” (double zing). The entire idea of the award is patently stupid, but for what it’s worth I think EA have always had pretty top-drawer output, with some great franchises under their belt, and this kind of thing seems a little unfair. People must still be sore about the Mass Effect 3 ending. Speaking of…

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut – the version you didn’t see in cinemas

Are you happy now, internet? Bioware are finally bowing down to the maelstrom of discontent over the Mass Effect 3 ending and will be bringing out some free DLC to give a little more closure to the epic sci-fi trilogy’s finale. I personally don’t see how saving the entire universe counts as a bad ending, but hell hath no fury like a fanboy unpandered-to, and things had reached a critical mass of entitled bitching, so something had to be done. Bioware are playing their cards pretty close to their chest with this one; all they’ve said is that the ending itself won’t be changed, but the additional content will provide more “clarity and closure to Mass Effect 3,” whatever that means. In the absence of any concrete information about what the DLC will have in it, I’ve got some ideas about how the ending could be vastly improved:

  • The Normandy hits an iceberg. A tearful Specialist Traymor watches as Shepard lets go of the chunk of debris they’re sharing and is claimed by the murky depths of space.
  • The Reapers are Keyser Soze.
  • Optimus Prime and the other Autobots appear out of nowhere and kick the crap out of the Reapers. In this version Shia LaBeouf is a playable character but can never survive.
  • The M. Night Shyamalan Special: The Reapers already succeeded in destroying the universe, and the whole story is a dream the dead Shepard is having in the afterlife.
  • The Ridley Scott Royale With Cheese: Shepard is a Reaper. Bioware then release another bit of DLC years later in which Shepard isn’t a Reaper. Then a few years later they release another one where Shepard sort of is a Reaper, but sort of isn’t.  Years later Bioware announce that the original ending is the only one considered canon.

No need to thank me, Bioware.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise might take a holiday to India 

I’ve ragged pretty hard on the Assassin’s Creed franchise recently for cynically spinning out the trilogy into a deluge of unnecessary expansions, but the recent trailer for Assassin’s Creed III appeased me by throwing the action into a new historical period (the American War of Independence) and kitting our new hero with some interesting new weapons (an axe). Now it seems that, after keeping the series in creative stasis for years, Ubisoft have got more ideas than they know what to do with – AssCreedTrois’ creative director Alex Hutchinson went on record to say that he and the game’s writer Corey May would love to set a future instalment in Colonial India. This is all purely speculative at the moment, but that sounds like the kind of fascinating historical era that the Assassin’s Creed franchise could tackle really well, and the prospect of a Raj-flavoured knife party sounds exciting, especially if they let you ride elephants. Hutchinson, however, had the temerity to say that “people on the internet suggest the most boring settings” for AssCreed games, an ironic joke to which Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is the obvious punchline.

Won’t somebody think of the children?

The inexorable march of time wears on, and we return once again to the endlessly-recycled and infinitely tiresome argument that violent videogames turn our children into crazed killers. This time Alison Sherratt of Riddlesden St. Mary’s primary school gave a talk at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Conference saying that children are running rampage imitating acts of carnage from violent games. The populist tabloids were obviously all over this like a rash, panting heavily and salivating like they were in heat, so the story has been blown out of proportion somewhat, but the issue remains as contentious, emotive and poorly-researched as always. Now, I don’t really want to belittle Sherratt or her arguments – obviously young children shouldn’t be playing violent videogames. But when a teacher says that she has noticed (anecdotally, I might add), “a lot more hitting, hurting, thumping etc in the classroom for no particular reason,” perhaps you shouldn’t point the finger at gaming straight away and maybe consider that hitting, hurting and thumping for no reason is kind of what little kids do. I mean, seriously, you’re at a primary school, what did you expect?

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