Professor Plays Games is a conversational video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles (and a bit of PC gaming). In this episode, The Professor (@profplaysgames) and Anthony (@summerspeak) from Owldragon Games discuss the Scalebound and ReCore delays, Assassin's Creed "Empire," IGF Finalists, Microsoft and Sony holiday spin, virtual reality, crowdfunding, Star Wars, Mass Effect, Witcher 3, and more Star Wars.
In this short episode, The Professor (@profplaysgames) delivers the audio version of his write up of Mass Effect, the first game from his backlog to be bested in 2016. Professor Plays Games is (usually) a conversational video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles (and a bit of PC gaming).
For 2016, I made a pledge to play through my not-insignificant backlog. It can help me to spend less money on games, and it can encourage me to enjoy the games I have instead of yearning for more. I have enough games across Steam, 3DS, Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, and PS4 to last me the rest of my life. I had to make a similar resolution with books a few years back, and it helped me to discover gems already on my crowded shelves and reacquaint myself with old friends. I knew the same thing would happen when I applied this formula to video games.
I just didn’t know it would happen so soon.
The first game I wanted to tackle from my backlog was Mass Effect. After I beat The Witcher 3, and raved about it, my friend said I had to try Mass Effect. I’m not a sci-fi guy (fantasy is my bailiwick), but I am a fan of good writing and choice-driven narrative.
So I turned on my Xbox One, loaded up Mass Effect (playable via backcompat), created my FemShep, and dug in for an hour.
Immediately, I was both engaged and repelled.
The writing was strong. The story latched on, and I wanted to see what happened next and next and next. The dialogue wheel always offered something unexpected (selecting “no thanks” prompted a retort roughly equivalent to “get fucking bent”). The designated hour of gaming became two. A “let me save real quick and then I’ll be done” became talking to my crew for 20 minutes before remembering I was going to save and exit. Games usually don’t keep me. They engage me, of course. They are fun for the time I’ve set aside to play them. But I can usually walk away on my schedule.
That didn’t happen with Mass Effect (in the exact same way it didn’t happen with The Witcher 3). The story kept me.
However great the story was, though, the moment-to-moment gameplay was… dated. Obviously. Shooting mechanics were the I’m-a-keyboard-and-mouse-shooter that I thought console games surmounted in the Xbox-PS2-GameCube era. Frame rate in firefight became a slightly up-tempo slideshow, and driving the Mako reminded me of rolling up a straw wrapper and using the straw to try (and fail) to blow the wrapper across a table in a straight line. Basically, gameplay was what I would expect from an older game.
But my friend did not ask me, “Do you like riding Roach in The Witcher 3? How about you try driving a Mako in Mass Effect.” That was not the sales pitch. The story’s the thing, and that was the pitch.
In Mass Effect, my choices mattered. People lived or died or died and rose again because of how I played the game (80% Paragon, by the way…I told the Council to fuck itself a few times and, in the end, went after the sovereign and left the Council to fend for itself). I saved Wrex when I could have shot him, I sexed up Kaidan when I could have left him to die, and I tried to save Saren from himself. The decisions I made shaped my game and made it different than your game.
That is where the game shines for me. You and I played the same Mass Effect, but we did not play the same Mass Effect. We became our Shepard, and we experienced our own, unique playthrough. We passed through similar plot points, of course, but the prose wrapped around them varied to such a degree that, only 10 hours removed from saving the Citadel, I want to both replay Mass Effect (this time as a Renegade) and begin Mass Effect 2.
As with the books on my shelves, I can produce no higher praise for a game except this: upon ending, what I most want to do is begin again.
In this episode, The Professor (@profplaysgames) and Anthony (@summerspeak) from Owldragon Games discuss ReCore, EA Visceral's Star Wars Game, Halo, Destiny, Final Fantasy 9 and 15, Legend of Zelda Wii U, Mass Effect, Witcher 3, Gaming Resolutions, and their 12in12 lists. Professor Plays Games is a conversational video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles (and a bit of PC gaming).
In this extra-short episode, Professor Plays Games tests a new mic and shares his write-up of Witcher 3 as his 2015 Game of the Year. This is a video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles. [Music at the end of the episode comes from: http://en.cdprojektred.com/news/download-the-music-from-the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-killing-monsters-trailer]
I’m faced with a decision: forcibly stop Keira Metz, sorceress and former advisor to a King, from making a terrible, no-good, very bad decision; use words to convince Keira to not make said decision; or berate her for making the bad decision but refuse to stop her as she’s a grown-ass woman and can make her own decisions. Because I’m a man who respects people’s agency, I, in my role directing Geralt of Rivia’s interactions in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, opted for the third choice.
And Keira died. In fact, not just died. Was murdered for her terrible, no-good, very bad decision. Impaled, orifice to orifice. Radovid, am I right?
But, no. Not Radovid.
Wasn’t I to blame? Didn’t I know that Radovid, hating sorceresses, would murder Keira? Didn’t I know she was smugly waltzing to her death?
No. Keira was to blame. She knew the risks. She knew Radovid’s predilections. But had I done my best to ensure she knew the consequences of her actions? Had I made the right decision?
That one dialogue sequence, the ending of an optional quest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, haunted me long after I stumbled across Keira, spitted and bloody, in Novigrad some 25 hours after I’d made the choice to let her make her own decisions.
And this is why The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is my overwhelming choice for the game of 2015. The care that went into the narrative arc of a quest many players might miss speaks volumes for the care, the detail, the filigreed etchings that the development team at CD Projekt Red stuffed and trimmed their entire game with. I felt deeply for this side-character, and, to this day, I still regret my decision.
To be clear: I regret a downswipe of an analog stick and the pressing of a confirmation button.
Yet there was no controller in my hand in that moment or in the thousands of other similar moments during my 100-hour playthrough of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I was inside the game. I was Geralt. I was the author of his every feat and foible. I was living a novel, reliving a history, weaving a tapestry that would warm my gamer heart long after the game’s true ending(s).
Were the controls a bit wonky? Yes, until you adapted to them. Was Geralt’s movement (later patched) unrealistically realistic? Yes. Did the game sometimes unfairly disguise its intentions in vague dialogue choices? Sort of. Did Roach roach? Absolutely.
However, trumpeted artistic works always have their flaws. Yes, there’s a penis on Jesus’ abdomen on the famous cross of San Damiano. Yes, Ella Fitzgerald indelibly flubbed lyrics in Mack the Knife. And, yes, there is that Mass Effect 3 ending. The flaws, though, remind us of the humanity of the creators behind these works and give us a clear perspective on the superlative nature of the work as a whole.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is not an exception to the rule that stunning art endures despite its own troubles. It shines (in narrative, in characterization, in impactful decisions, in branching plot, in folklore, in its strong women, in mood, in environments, in item descriptions, in customizability, in battle preparation, in gwent) even as some dull edges (early controls, movement physics, Roach) catch our collective eye. CD Projekt Red has achieved a masterpiece, not just in video games but in media and art.
However, their success proposes a no-good, very bad, terrible question: can any other game, ever again, measure up?
My answer, and a secondary reason why I love that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt exists, is yes. As the work pushes gamers in new directions, the game will push developers, too. They’ll find a way to incorporate, iterate, remix, and improve. Art evolves, but it cannot do so without master class subjects to build upon. Like Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy, Diablo, Halo, World of Warcraft, and Mass Effect before it, Witcher 3 is the cloth from which other games will be cut for years to come, the shoulders upon which future games will perch.
Now, excuse me, it’s time to begin my journey through The Continent again. This time, I’ll let Keira know there’s a somewhat safe place in Kaer Morhen for her.
Game of the Year Runners Up:
2. Rocket League
3. Rise of the Tomb Raider
4. Fallout 4
5. Super Mario Maker
In this extra-long episode, Professor Plays Games talks with Anthony from Owldragon Games (http://www.owldragon.com) about their favorite games of 2015, the recent Kojima news, and their gaming predictions for 2016. [The Professor's mic is of questionable quality this episode due to tech issues; sorry about that!] This is a video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles.
In this episode, Professor Plays Games breaks down the FINAL Smash Bros for 3DS/Wii U Direct. Were his predictions from PPG 11 correct? Hell no! Is he still excited about the final three characters? Hell yes. Sorry Wolf fans. This is a video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles.
In this episode, Professor Plays Games talks about Minecraft Wii U, Cyberpunk 2077, Smash Bros. Wii U, Assassin's Creed, NBA 2K16, Smash Bros. 3DS, and Jessica Jones. This is a video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles.
In this episode, Professor Plays Games talks about PSX 2015, Platinum Games and Ninja Turtles, Rocket League, Project M, Witcher 3, Witcher 4, NBA 2K16, and the 2nd amendment. This is a video game podcast focusing on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles.