One of the most anticipated games of the year is set to be released on Tuesday and despite my love for the series, I won’t be able to join in the festivities. I have both PS3 and Xbox 360 as well as the previous installments, and I could find some way to afford to preorder it despite my low income, so why won’t I be getting it? Because the Xbox 360 I have has been showing an error code 74 since March of 2010. For those who don’t know what that is, it is one of those infamous Red Rings of Death which plagued the original Xbox 360s. And mine happened just 3 months outside of the [extended] warranty, so Microsoft refused to extend any courtesies towards fixing it. What this means is that for a common problem that happens to Xboxes, I’m going to have to shell out $90. However, I am poor and have never made more than minimum wage, which means it will most likely take some time before I am able to get that done.
Luckily, most of the games I play are cross-platform, so if I really wanted to finish a title, I was able to simply get that title on PS3. I was able to do that for Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2, Wet, and Midnight Club: Los Angeles. And yes, I realize that not too long ago, the Mass Effect series joined those titles which bridged across platforms. However, there is one extremely important difference which makes the Mass Effect series different from continuing titles like Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, or even The Legend of Zelda. That difference is a feature which has been a staple of EA Sports’s football titles since the late 90s, but hasn’t really been seen elsewhere – the ability to transfer a custom character from one game to another. However, Mass Effect‘s version is a bit more advanced. See, in the original Mass Effect, Commander Shepard makes 3 major decisions which can change the course of the entire series including how s/he is treated and who interacts with him/her for the entire series. Not only that, but there are a number of smaller decisions made during side quests which are continually referenced later in the series (for example, one particular hero-worshipper meets up with my Commander Shepard in ME2 and recounts how I punched him in the previous title. Punching him was a momentary Renegade option my character had taken despite him being a Paragon).
So why am I griping about this instead of being in line for the midnight release? Because when BioWare made the Mass Effect series available for the PS3, they only made 2/3 of it available. To make PS3 owners feel like they aren’t missing out, there was an interactive comic which was made as DLC and allows the player to make some of the decisions which should have been made to properly enjoy ME2. However, as someone who had a chance to play 1 & a bit of 2 on the 360, I feel robbed of an incredible opportunity to replay a series that I love. Especially since I do happen to know exactly the experience I’m missing out on. I want to re-experience that hopeless firefight and get to the end only to realize I must sacrifice a crew member. I want to prove to the other races that humans are worthy of joining their ranks after experiencing the doubts of [Shepard’s] ability. Not letting me undergo the journey firsthand just feels like it cheapens the experience. And in this case, I can’t allow myself to settle.