So Xbox is joining the cell phone companies in tricking poor stupid people to sign a 2 year contract for a free or highly discounted awesome product. Even if you’re looking at buying the Xbox full price and paying full price for two years of Xbox Live Gold, the contract costs more in the end (39 dollars more). However, consider the fact that a few months ago I bought a year of Xbox Live Gold for 35 dollars. Then consider the fact that many times stores run special offers on new Xbox’s, for example a 50 dollar gift card is a common offer. So you could get the same package with a contract costing $459 that you could get with smart shopping for 319 dollars ($299 - $50 + $35 + $35), ending up saving you 140 dollars in total. The sad thing is though, that this will probably be a success and Microsoft will make more money by letting poor people have a chance to play awesome games before they go into debt. :(
Seems about right.
I love this.
Ugh, I wrote more about my experiences with the Mass Effect 3 game. This time thankfully it’s a little shorter:
I’ll start off from the top, and I must say that the very beginning of the game is pretty goofy. I’ve played each Mass Effect and all of the DLC multiple times, but even I was a little confused at what was going on in the first few minutes of ME3, I can’t imagine what it’d be like for someone new to the ME series. As far as I could tell (most of this is I gleaned from pre-release media coverage) after the events of the Arrival DLC, where you destroyed a Mass Relay and almost half a million Batarians, you were grounded on Earth and all of your team was disbanded. At the beginning of the game, it has been multiple months since that incident and today is when you were supposed to be on trial for your actions. Frankly, right from here I don’t know why he’d be on Earth, since Shepard’s a Spectre and the genocide of the Batarians is a galactic issue, you’d think he’d have to face the Citadel Council instead of the Earth Alliance.
Still, I can accept that Bioware wanted you to be on Earth when it was attacked, I would however, have loved to be given a chance to explore a little before the Reapers attack. You could have also given the player a chance to learn or re-learn the controls before fighting off the Reaper ground forces. Just as a goofy example, what if Shepard wanted to blow off some steam before the start of the trial, so he/she went to some sort of obstacle course they had set up. You could even have some sort of annoying VI telling you basic things to do, and you could joke that you are “The Shepard” and not some new recruit, giving you the choice to continue the tutorial or storm off and go to the trial.
I just wish there was something gaming related instead of just watching a video to start off ME3, or even if you there was more of the trial before the attack. So the player could have been updated on what Shepard did if the player didn’t buy Arrival, and possibly the general status of the Galaxy. I also would have loved a conversation tree where you explain why you did what you did, and imploring them to prepare for the imminent Reaper attack. Plus, I kind of thought that Earth should have had more of a warning before the Reaper attack actually arrives. Then at the end of the Earth scene, I understand why Shepard has to leave, but I think there is some possibility with Anderson leading the Alliance forces for future DLC, though I don’t know if we’d ever see ME without Shepard being the Avatar of the player.
After that, I didn’t mind the whole Mars mission, but you’d think a Cerberus shackled AI infiltration unit wouldn’t be able to so easily invade the Mars base and kill everyone there. Then at the Citadel, it was a little annoying not to get help from the Council, but it was expected. I liked that here you got some time to explore and gather missions. There were a lot of cool moments on the Citadel, but I was disappointed that this version or it was so tiny. This was especially strange when there are no other hub-worlds for you to explore and gain new quests. I also liked that the Turian Councilor came back and offered a promise of help if you were to help him, and so begins the main ME3 mission that lasts for at least half of the game. I loved this mission as a whole, and really enjoyed that there were so many different aspects of the mission and multiple smaller goals you had to achieve to accomplish the main goal.
To break it down, Shepard had to get the Turians to help Earth by getting the Krogan to help protect the Turian home world of Palaven as ground forces, and to get the Krogans to help their longtime enemies you have to cure the Genophage. This journey is long and detailed with a lot of excitement and emotion along the way. The climax is of course when the worm kills the Reaper and Mordin sacrifices himself in dispersing the Genophage cure, an act that while I wish could have avoided, was incredibly powerful (“Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong”). It was also beautiful when the cure was dispersed worldwide, it was a great way to end that part of ME3, and I really don’t know how it could have been improved. This of course, was the way my version of the game progressed, other players might have had crazily different experiences that in my mind are horrible, but possibly equally or more powerful. I watched these on YouTube, and to get the support of the Salarians you could betray everything you stand for and kill Mordin (or convince him to leave) to stop the successful release of the cure. Then you could be forced to kill Wrex for betraying the Krogan people. Let me just say that that if I somehow ended up having this occur, I don’t know what I would have done. I love that there are so many consequences here, and it was just a perfect first act of the last Mass Effect game. The only thing I might change would be if you could somehow save Mordin but still deliver the Genophage cure to the Krogans.
After this, there are multiple smaller missions that usually resolved around one of the ME2 characters, most of them are fun if a little simple and annoying. It’s nice that Bioware attempted to give us more time with the characters we grew to love, but I wish there was more of it. The climax of this section of the game is probably the Cerberus coup on the Citadel, which personally I found pretty unbelievable. It was also kind of annoying that even though you’d talked to Kaidan/Ashley when he/she sees Shepard on the elevator they immediately think the worst of Shepard. I was amazed when I watched a video on YouTube where in some cases you’re forced to shoot your old friend/crew-member, and even though it didn’t happen to me I felt like it was a little forced. However, after that the relationship goes back to normal, though I still wish there were more conversations/interactions on the Normandy. I also wished that if Thane had to die, he could have done more than just slow down Kai Lang. However, I will admit that I cried like a baby at Thane’s death scene, it was very well written. One main thing I would change in this section would be again to have more interactions with your previous characters, and that Bioware would attempt to explain how Cerberus is now so powerful and able to single handedly invade the Citadel (which supposedly had again upgraded security).
I wish that in this act of the game, you had more missions to save and unite all of the different civilizations in the Galaxy. I thought there’d be much more with the Turian, Salarian, and Asari home-worlds, which in ME3 were just mini-missions (and we only got to see Palaven from the view on its moon). I thought instead, that the smaller missions would be about saving and uniting the other less powerful Citadel aliens, and even the non-Citadel species. Instead, we just got some overheard conversations on the citadel that lead to a scanning objective. I especially didn’t understand the re-introduction to Aria, you got the Mercenary forces but never saw them in use, and I felt like there would be more with her, like maybe a retake Omega mission. Overall, I really felt like this part of the game between the amazing Tuchanka and Rannoch plot lines could have been greatly expanded. Overall, ME3 could have definitely been longer.
The following act where you’re trying to solve the Geth/Quarian Rannoch confrontation, and especially the end of it, is probably one of my favorite moments I’ve ever experienced in a video game. The whole set-up of the conflict was a little weak, I mean the Quarians have been refugees for a millennium, yet when they saw the Galaxy was being attacked by the Reapers they decided this would be the perfect time to reclaim their home from the Geth. Nonetheless, there are some good moments even before the climax, specifically entering the virtual reality of the Geth Collective. It was a little strange, but it was cool, I just almost wish there were more video clips explaining and humanizing the Geth’s actions. On Rannoch, battling the Reaper was awesome once you got the hang of it, but I died multiple times before then. All of the interactions with Tali on Rannoch were amazing; they were all so powerful and heart-wrenching. From when she pretends she’s looking through the window of her future house and Shepard giving her a rock to carry a piece of her home with her, to the fade to black after the climax concludes. What happens in between varies, but it is so dramatic no matter what happens. I of course, was able to let Legion sacrifice himself to give every Geth unit the intelligence to be a singular mind while still saving the Quarians by convincing them to stand down. Ultimately, the Geth and Quarians agreed to work together in fighting the Reapers and in the future enabling a quicker re-habitation of their home-world (plus even adapting their immune systems so they won’t have to forever live in enviro-suits). However, if you didn’t have enough Reputation points (or made the wrong choices previously?) Legion would still die, but the entire Quarian race could be wiped out of existence, leading Tali to commit suicide. Once again, like on Tuchanka, the results of your actions are completely different yet equally soul wrenching (but of course for different reasons). Even though it was different in my playthrough, when I watched the extermination of the Quarian race on Youtube, it was incredibly disturbing.
There would really only be one change I would make here, and that would be when Tali removes her mask (in either eventuality) and the camera pans away. Can you imagine how amazing the scene would have been if this was where the Mass Effect (and especially Tali) fans were to get their first look at the true face of the Quarian race? If we were to have saved her it would be amazing to be rewarded with it, and if she instead kills herself Shepard would be the last person to see the face of a Quarian. Instead, Bioware copped out and just faded to black, only later to deliver the (now apparently) cannon face of Tali as a poorly photoshoped stock photo. I already don’t love the design (I would like more slightly divergent facial structures from Humans) but I really don’t have much of a problem with it. What I do find offensive, is how lazy they were with Tali’s picture. Instead, I would have been fine with Bioware still leaving the true face a mystery, or even if they wanted to go about it in the same roundabout way by just showing a picture if Shepard romances Tali, I don’t know why they decided to use a real world photo in the video game. Nowhere else is there any footage or images in the game that weren’t animated or drawn, yet here they decided to use a stock image from our present day Earth. Then for them to just remove two fingers, throw an effect on the background, white out her eyes, and draw on some tattoos is just so sloppy, I never thought Bioware was lazy before seeing this image. If this was their long held artistic intent to have an extremely humanoid Tali, it would have been very easy for Bioware to animate the face (possibly using her voice actor as inspiration) for the few seconds of cut-scene at the very end of the Rannoch mission. The only possible reason I could imagine for Bioware going the route they did with Tali’s face, would be that it was an absolute last minute addition that wasn’t peer reviewed, but just snuck into the shipped game.
The following parts of the game are the most controversial, but other than the actual ending, the only thing I’d change would be for there to be expanded cut scenes of the battle for earth. Specifically I wish they would have shown the combined Galactic fleets actually destroying some of the Reapers, and in general more of the War Assets that you gained (Where were the Krogans riding Kallisiosaurs and the Elcor Living Tanks!) being shown in action. Still, I enjoyed the final battles, the cut-scene of the space battle was amazing (could have been longer and could have actually allowed the player to control or direct at least some of it from the bridge of the Normandy) and the actual gameplay on Earth is crazy, though it could have been a little harder (of course I might take that back when/if I play the game on Insanity). I loved your conversations with all of your crew members, but they could have been longer and more emotional, plus I really didn’t get the point of the one turret in between buildings. Other than that, I would just completely change the ending after you’re hit by Harbinger’s beam. I know Bioware will hide behind the shield of artistic integrity even after building our expectations up so high (Plus maybe don’t explicitly lie in the pre-release press for future games), but I really think that they should realize what they did is bad art which could and should be fixed. I would never make Bioware change their game retroactively, but I would end my support of them in the future if they refuse to fix the ending”s”. If they continue with their quiet stance, or even worse giving their fans more non-committal slightly insulting PR approved articles, I definitely won’t be pre-ordering any future Bioware games. Instead I’ll probably just wait until the game is on sale or available pre-owned somewhere. If Bioware won’t respond and acquiesce to valid feedback, I’ll be forced to use the only real power a consumer has, and that’s to not buy their products.
There are many ways the ending could be changed, but probably the easiest would be to use a form of the Indoctrination Theory. Then when you choose to destroy all Synthetic life, you wake up on Earth and get to have a final boss battle either against Harbinger, or the brand new and fully completed Human Reaper. Then you could either go the long and hard route of killing all of the Reapers one at a time, or possibly going up to the Citadel and using the Crucible, but instead of killing everything it can be used as targeted laser weapon to fly around and shoot down all of the Reapers one at a time. In this ending, you would only be able to succeed if you have almost all of the possible 7,500 War Assets. If you don’t have enough, all of the advanced organic species would be killed, and the Cycle would continue.
I previously sent a version of my own ending to Bioware, but I’ll again mention it in shortened form here. Basically, everything up until talking to the God-Child AI is the same, but here the conversation is greatly expanded. Shepard is able to learn that the Citadel is the Super AI’s body, and it came to this Galaxy with its new solution of Reaper enabled controlled chaos after destroying all organic life in a different Galaxy in pursuit of perfect order. We could also learn that the Crucible is a trap created by the Reapers for the many advanced civilizations to waste their time/man-power/resources while they take control of the Galaxy. There could be some sort of final boss battle with the God-Child transforming to multiple different aspects for you to fight. Then when you defeat it, you could set the Crucible/Citadel to self-destruct and Normandy could come and pick you up. After this, they could even keep the end where all of the Mass Relays are destroyed (I assume that’s important for the future of the Mass Effect Universe if every ending featured it) where if the Mass Relays were built in the image of the body of the God-AI (The Citadel) and are all linked, if the Citadel is destroyed or self-destructs then an unintended result may be the destruction of all the Mass Relays. The Normandy could even still be stranded on an Eden-like world, but now Shepard would be with them.
Of course, I am not on the level of the Bioware writers, so I’m sure they could make a better ending then what I outlined. I would be open to many changes to the end, and while I would prefer to have the possibility of a happy ending, I would accept a well done ending where Shepard has to die. I just can’t accept what we currently have for an ending to the magnificent Mass Effect trilogy, one of my favorite gaming series of all time. If Bioware were only to clarify the current end and add some sort of Epilogue, depending on how it’s done (and what the DLC costs) I could be partially happy, but Bioware would still have lost my love and loyalty.
As for some random other changes I wouldn’t mind seeing for the game, I would love to see more or any of the characters introduced in ME3 as actual playable characters. The current amount of available characters are so limited, especially when you consider the fact that three of them (Tali, Garrus, and Kaidan/Ashlee) could have died depending on your actions, leaving you with only three playable characters (EDI, Liara, and Vega). You also only have an absolute maximum of seven possible playable characters (including the ten dollar day one dlc of the awesome character of Ravik) when you had twelve in ME2. I assumed that not all of the ME2 characters would be crew members in ME3, but I thought some of them would, or at least that they would be playable characters for a few featured missions. I also thought that there would be more moments like in the end of ME2, where you make choices and put together multiple teams of all your characters, instead of them all just apparently chilling out on the Normandy for the final battle to take back Earth. The only slight sign of this in ME3, is when you assign one of your team mates to work on hacking the computer while you hold off the enemies. I didn’t expect all of the characters that Bioware created, and through great writing introduced them to us and made us possibly love them, to now only be cameos delivering inside moments/jokes.
I also generally expected more conversations and interactions with the characters. After every mission I didn’t want to miss anything, so I would go around the ship to see if any of the characters had anything to say, and multiple times my time would be wasted as they wouldn’t have anything to say (especially with characters you had from the beginning). Further, it was annoying when for overhearing stories on the Citadel you had to come back to hear the rest of it. I liked it much more in ME2 when you could just hit A and hear the rest of the story. One thing I did love was how the Crew Members were no longer static and would instead move around the ship and have interesting funny conversations you could overhear. I just wish that after these moments were done, Shepard could join in on the conversation.
There are a few more random problems and changes I’d like to mention. One of the most annoying things about the game is the RPG mission/quest menu. It’s simply horrible, there is no organization or updates for when you’ve completed the mission but haven’t delivered the item, making you sometimes go back to a System to check if you’ve gotten the artifact yet. There was also a bigger problem, where for some reason every time I’d go to the quest list the cursor would be near the bottom of the blanked out completed missions, making me scroll up through all of them just to check and see what other side missions I have left to do. Further, I talked more about this previously, but I wish there were more real side missions like in previous games. Instead of just scanning a world (which being simplified makes it even more annoying, though now at least it doesn’t take a long time to do) I’d like to go down and explore or actually gather the intel/artifact. I also had a few missions glitch out on me, where the people were still listed on the map of the Citadel but they weren’t there, and where I’d already gone to the Elcor home-world, which screwed stuff up.
One more thing that could be interesting to add in future games/DLC is a grey prompt during cut-scenes. My main Shepard is almost full Paragon, but I used every Renegade prompt (Except for punching the reporter, which was really funny but I didn’t feel right doing it, especially since I’m a man. I mean the Fox News female reporters are really annoying but I’d never punch them in the face. In fact, it was nice here, where if you don’t punch her you can paragon convince her to change her colors and use her hard hitting journalism to help the Earth War Effort, and it was a really nice little scene. Btw, longest parentheses ever.) because it usually just mean taking the initiative. They generally weren’t as Renegade as in ME2, and I noticed there weren’t as many Paragon prompts as before. It could be interesting to have a prompt like with the new Reputation system, where pulling both triggers activates an action from Shepard in a cut-scene. It’s not really necessary but it could be interesting, especially as some people will avoid some of the really cool prompt just because other games have driven in the idea or being fully good or evil to get the biggest benefits/rewards. . That’s really all I can think of at the moment for things that I personally would change about the single player aspect of Mass Effect 3.
Regarding the new Multiplayer mode and Bioware’s implementation, I find it weird that on stickied posts on the official Bioware forums, they explicitly lie to the Mass Effect players about the Multiplayer’s effect on the Single Player game. The only reason I could think of that Bioware claims you can get the “best” ending without playing Multiplayer (which has been proven false by data-miners) is if future DLC provides enough new Military Assets. So that with the purchase and completion of the upcoming DLC a player that doesn’t want to or can’t play multiplayer would be able to get over 4000 EMS. Still I don’t think it’s fair to either make people play the multiplayer, buy the expensive iOS app, or buy future DLC to be able to get the best possible ending in the Single Player Campaign (which to me is when Shepard is still alive). It’s probably too late to get rid of the readiness rating, but maybe you could set the default Galactic Readiness to 75% instead of 50%. That way, the maximum EMS the player could get would be 5,625 instead of 3,750 if they only play single player. They would still have to work to get the best possible ending, but at least now it would be possible for their Shepard to live without buying something else or playing a game mode they don’t want to and shouldn’t have to.
Truthfully though, I don’t know why Bioware went about this the way they did. I understand they wanted to meet a lot of fan requests for Multiplayer, and EA probably requested another way to make money after gamers buy the game. So to encourage gamers to play the new Multiplayer feature, something that many gamers may not generally spend a lot of time with, Bioware wanted to make it have an impact on the Single Player story. However, I find it kind of offensive how Bioware is literally punishing players that hate Co-op Multiplayer, don’t have Xbox Live Gold, or don’t have a broadband internet connection so severely. I mean they cut your war assets in half for not playing a separate and completely optional (plus possibly under-developed) game mode, something that I’ve never seen done previously. It would make so much more sense to just give people that play Multiplayer extra Military Assets (for successfully completing a whole mission), that Bioware could cap off at a certain level.
Personally, I’ve had a lot of fun playing Multiplayer when I was with a good group of people, but it is already getting old. If Bioware wants to successfully create a long term Mutliplayer fan base, they have to release DLC to change things up. One thing is that unless you die, depending on the difficulty you chose and your play style, the missions will last from 20-40 minutes. I would love to see shorter versions, like only 5 waves of varying objectives, or missions featuring singular repeating objectives. This way, it could cut down the time, and if someone doesn’t like one set of objectives and loves another, they could get to play what they like instead of having to play each type in every mission. One other thing that I think could be really interesting is if future DLC added actual story based/linked Co-op Multiplayer missions, possibly on Earth or the other home planets that are under attack. Plus I wouldn’t mind having them add to the level cap, possibly giving more unique stat buffs (gold is still incredibly hard with high level characters) and more abilities with the chance to choose which 3 you want to want to use in the pre-game screens. There are multiple characters that have some cool abilities with some really crap ones, so I’d love to have more RPG choices with my many characters. Also, one more thing, I wish that even when you promoted a class of characters, you could select like a max of 4or5 total characters from different classes to keep leveled up for when you play Gold missions, they could be your All-Star team.
For those that haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, the first part of my review will be spoiler free, but the second part must be rife with spoilers because the story and ending is the biggest problem of the game. I’ll also preface this review by saying that the ME series had been probably my favorite gaming series of all times, and I beat the campaign of ME1 three times while I finished the campaign of ME2 four times. I had been incredibly excited about the game, and had been able to avoid practically every spoiler except for two smaller ones about EDI and the Prothean character. Even though the game is flawed, I loved pretty much 99% of the game, but the ending was so bad that it has ruined my entire Mass Effect experience. I was going to play the game again with my female character as I loved the voice over work of Jennifer Hale, but now I don’t really want to. I was even going to start a new character in ME1 and play all three games in succession, but now it just isn’t worth it.
So, let’s start with the gameplay, which in the Mass Effect series is split between the RPG aspects, and the third person cover shooting battle system. ME3 definitely has the best action gameplay of the entire series, and while it can still be clunky there are constantly amazing moments with dozens of different but equally awesome strategies you could employ. I just wish there were almost more buttons on the controller for this game. It’s one of the most effective uses of a controller in any shooter, where you really have so many different attacks you could use at every moment. Most of the clunkiness once again resolves around the action button being the same as the sprint and cover button. I’m not sure if it would work, but it could be interesting if the action button was instead mapped to the select button, the only one that isn’t used in the game. Now on to the RPG systems of the game, which is much improved from basic systems in ME2, for Mass Effect 3 they basically took most of what was in ME1 and stripped out the hassle of the massive inventory screen and the repetitive/annoying/time-consuming aspect of destroying/selling the multitude of useless items you recieved. This interesting new inventory management system works by all of the weapons having a weight, and if you go over a certain weight limit (which is dependent on your character class and certain upgrades you can choose) you can face severe power regeneration penalties. I love this idea, but it can become annoying when all of the good weapons have really high weight. It also ends up limiting the weapons you can bring along, even though I was a Vanguard that selected the increase weight capacity upgrade. There’s a possible related result, where you can no longer carry any heavy weapons like in previous games, something that I always loved. Instead there are only four heavy weapons found at few certain points lying on the ground (flamethrower, rocket launcher, some Geth laser gun, and the mini-nuke) with very limited ammo. Back to the main weapons that are in this game, I loved that Bioware brought back the Role Playing elements present in ME1 guns, almost keeping the same names and level presentation. The concept is really smart, where you can purchase an upgrade up to level 5 for each weapon and each weapon add-on (that you can have two equipped on each gun). The only problems here is that I had enough money so that each time I got a new gun I promptly maxed out the upgrades, so the system wasn’t as rewarding as it could have been. Also, with the level of each add-on upgrading when you find or buy a new one, while I love this, it was a little uneven where multiple times I upgraded ones I didn’t use while I couldn’t find the upgrades for the ones I did regularly use. This whole system could be improved with a few adjustments, which is possibly a higher level cut-off limit like in Multiplayer (could make it so that weapons that you like don’t become useless because of their stats later in the game) and something that I liked in the first game but disappeared in the sequels. That is a weapon efficiency upgrade system where you could get experience points for every enemy you kill with each weapon type, I think this could really increase the RPG feel while keeping all of the action. One more thing with the weapons, there’s an interesting section of the Spectre offices where you have a fire range to test your weapon load-out. I love this idea, especially with all of the different weapons, but it makes no sense to have it on the Citadel, instead it should be in the Normandy Cargo Bay. Too many times I would upgrade a new weapon only to find I didn’t like the way it fired. Then there are weapons that I never tried out as their weight was really high and the stats weren’t the best. So while I may have possibly liked the way they fired, now I’ll never know as I didn’t have an opportunity to test them out. I was pretty disappointed that no real changes (non-cosmetic) were made to the armor system. It’s much too basic, almost exactly the same as ME2, and I wish there were more options to alter and upgrade your armor. I really kept the same armor for most of the game, even later I just made a few adjustments and all I cared about was getting the bonus percentages I wanted. The armor also looked all pretty similar, except for the helmets, which were mostly pretty goofy looking. Finally, for the different character classes, in this iteration they seem about the same, but some new abilities have been added. One of them that I really loved was the new Nova attack which was really useful when combined with the Biotic Charge, also I like that it’s not perfect as it uses up your shields, creating an interesting cost versus benefit play choice.
Now, onto the next aspect of the game, it’s one that has really defined to series up to this point, and that is the conversation system of ME3. I was very disappointed that the conversation options were much more limited in this iteration, where you basically only had the paragon or renegade choice. There was never a paragade response or something else like the sarcastic comments I loved making in Dragon Age 2, at this point in the series it felt like a step back. There was also an annoying amount of conversations that resembled your talks with the DLC characters Massani and Goto. I didn’t mind this too much, but it was frustrating when multiple times I would accidently hit the A button one too many times and I would skip the conversation. I also had a few graphics glitches during the normal conversations with choices, where the character’s framework was broken or glitched, and they’d be looking all over the place or the eyes would be tracking wrong, it was just really weird. Even stranger, this tended to happen earlier in the game, I didn’t really experience it too much later, I’m not sure why. Possibly relating to this, I didn’t have any problems importing my character’s face as some have, but I think that’s because I played around with it in ME2 because I didn’t love my Shepard’s face. There were multiple times where there were great little inside joke comments that were only for my Shepard, but I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more new in depth conversations with your crew. Even with the new character, Vega, while I love the sparring interaction you had with him (One of my favorite interactions in the whole series) you don’t get to know him as much as you did the previous game’s characters. I understand that with the possibility of almost every old character not being present in ME3, the developer didn’t want to spend too much time and money on them, but conversely they didn’t add many new characters. In total, not counting the DLC character, there are only four new crew members on the Normandy (all of whom are humans): the new playable jock character, a gay male pilot, a gay female communications officer, and a female reporter. I liked all of these new characters (though the reporter is a little generic and annoying) but consider something for a minute. If Garrus and Tali had died in your playthrough of ME2, for most of the game you would only have two playable characters, Vega and Liara. Later of course, you get Kaidan/Ashley and EDI, but it’s amazing they didn’t add new characters or make more of the characters from previous games crew members. Even with all of the crew members possible, you don’t get a representative from the Krogans and the Salarians, or any of the other non-council races. I expected to see all of the different species send someone onto the Normandy, but for some reason no one did. All we got was a Krogan leader (Wrex!), a Turian leader, and a Quarian leader in the War Room for a few missions. You’d think that if Bioware didn’t want to waste time and money on possibly unpopular characters, they would have created more characters that every player would get to know. The only possible explanation for why they didn’t do this is that they didn’t think they had the time to establish multiple new interesting characters. Another annoying change to something I loved before, was how when you’re in the hub-world listening to people’s interesting conversations you have to leave the area and come back to hear the next part of the story. In ME2, you could just keep hitting the A button to listen to the rest of the conversation, which to me worked really well. This time, even though the stories are cool, I would lose interest in them as so much time could pass between each part of the telling, also at one point they glitched out and all of the conversations reset. I also had a problem that I figure has to be a glitch where at the last conversation with the Illusive Man, the Paragon and Renegade options were greyed out. With this Shepard I have always selected the blue conversation options in each Mass Effect game every time they appeared, and I also always explore every possible conversation option. I had off the charts amounts of Reputation and Paragon points and still I had a conversation option blocked, the first time this has ever happened to me. I felt extremely confused and annoyed that somehow the best possible resolution to the Illusive Man conflict wasn’t available to me for no apparent reason.
Onto the locations and exploration of the different worlds, something that was one of my favorite parts of the previous games, but is almost non-existent in ME3. Here is where ME3 strikingly reminds me of the failure of Dragon Age 2. Similarly to Kirkwall, the Citadel acts as the only hub-world in the entire Mass Effect 3 game, while in ME2 there were four completely different hub-worlds. This would be okay, as most worlds are under attack from the Reapers, except for the fact that this version of the Citadel is the smallest and most basic of the entire Mass Effect trilogy. Then the Citadel only goes through a very minor cosmetic change halfway through the game, and they expect us, a society full of ADHD people, not to grow bored of the surroundings. We get to go to worlds we’ve always wanted to explore, like the Turian, Salarian, Quarian, Asari and Human home-worlds, but all of them are filled with waist high walls and they’re all being blown up by Reapers and/or attacked by Cerberus. The missions are also relatively short, and we fail to really see anything unique about the planets. Further, ME3 has essentially eliminated the mini missions on random worlds, and the probe mechanic found in ME2. Instead, now you have to fly around each system evading the Reapers while you randomly scan for 2 or 3 of the interesting things, which are either small amounts of fuel or some random unexplained war asset on a planet. Then you get to play a few basic solo N7 missions on the limited number of Multiplayer maps. I understand that exploring Alien worlds isn’t a priority in the middle of a war with a group of ancient synthetic/organic hybrid monster spaceships, but I missed this aspect that was hugely present in the previous games.
Here’s where I’m going to stick a bunch of the random features in the game. I was a bit surprised by the complete elimination of mini-games in ME3, while they were all a little annoying before, instead of fixing them now they just removed them, and the doors/safes take a little longer to open, implying that you’re automatically performing some type of hack or bypass. The reputation system is a much appreciated addition/adaptation, where you get standard reputation points for performing moral neutral actions, and every Paragon or Renegade point adds to your total. Because of this, players are no longer punished from not being an absolute character, and no matter you preference if you have enough reputation points both of the Paragon and Renegade conversation choices are unlocked. However, it is pretty goofy how the bar is filled up very early into the game, I was still getting lots of points, but there was no visual interpretation of the increase. I almost wish there was a bigger bar, or even a numerical presentation of all of your reputation points. Another new addition to this game is the War Assets and Effective Military Strength (EMF). I really liked this feature, as everything you’ve done in the Mass Effect series is represented here. However, once again the bar fills up incredibly early in the game. There’s also some really disturbing about the EMF, and that’s the aspect of Galactic Readiness, which can only be increased by playing multiplayer. So if you hate Co-op Multiplayer, or if you don’t have enough money or the ability to have an Xbox Live Gold Membership, your Galactic Readiness is locked at 50%. This means that all of your War Assets will be halved for the EMF. So let’s look at my level, I had 7245 points with a Galactic Readiness hovering around 100%. If I wouldn’t have played Multiplayer, then I would have only had 3622 EMF points, which is enough to get the endings but is not enough to get the “best” ending. To put this in perspective, I played every mission available except for a few that glitched out on me. The only things that might have lowered my war assets, were that in ME1 I saved the Council, in ME2 I destroyed the Collector Base (even though for the story Cerberus still found most of it intact), and in ME3 I cured the Krogan Genophage which annoyed the Salarians. One other random thing, in ME3 you don’t have someone like Kelly that will take care of your fish. The only option is to buy a crazy expensive Aquarium VI, and if you don’t your fish will die, even if you feed them every chance you get. You’d think EDI would be able to monitor your fish tank for free, but I guess it’d be a little degrading considering her new role as a crew member on herself.
Now onto the last aspect of the game that isn’t the story, and that is the newly added Co-op Multiplayer. I was initially concerned about this aspect of the game, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing with it. I did have a lot of problems with the EA servers the first couple of days though, and this was exasperated by the fact that you only get experience and credits by either successfully completing the mission, or by dying. I wish that the game would save your experience after each wave, especially when any expendable items you use before you disconnect are lost forever. After this I also glitched out a couple times, once I got stuck in a wall, but I was actually still able to kill a bunch of the enemies while some of them were unable to get me. Another time I glitched out during multiplayer, it was much worse and much weirder, where the whole stage was shaking like I was in the middle of an earthquake. Then while I was running, I ended up floating in the air for a few feet before falling through the floor (I actually have a video of it but it’s kind of crappy since I couldn’t find my camera and used my iPod). Sadly or thankfully, my team members were a capable bunch (even though it was a silver Reaper mission) and were able to beat the 10 waves, though it took like 20 minutes where I just had to float there in nothingness and wait. The even weirder thing was that I could damage some of the enemies with biotic powers, and the enemies were able to kill me. However, once I died I would immediately come back to life. Looking past the glitches, I love leveling up the different characters, and with a group of capable players the missions can be very fun. However, after a while I grew a little bored playing the missions, they’re all just too similar. Then I worked really hard on maxing out the Vanguard branch, but when I hit level 20, to get the achievement I promoted the soldiers. This is a cool idea, but I wish there was more of a reward for this, or possibly the ability to still use the high level characters when attempting a Gold level mission, or at the very least a new character plus where they get an extra bonus so you’re not starting from the very beginning of the character. The biggest problem I have with the multiplayer though is that EA decided to for the first time in a AAA console game to include a freemium pricing structure for the locked characters, weapons and items. I actually find this kind of offensive, as I could play the multiplayer for hours and get a random pack someone else could get immediately by shilling out two dollars. I especially have a problem with this pricing as you could spend two dollars on a pack, and get nothing you could use. If you’re going to charge for items others could get by just playing the game, I think you should be able to pick items, although of course it would make it even more unfair for people that don’t want to be tricked into paying for items that are already in the game. I think that the Multiplayer could be saved with a patch, and possibly more game modes than the 10 waves that always feature the play modes capture the flag, secure the base, headhunt certain enemies, and kill everything moving. As it currently stands, I can’t see this multiplayer establishing a consistent faithful base for anything nearing long term.
Now, I can finally get to the aspect of the game that had me the most upset/frustrated, and that is the story. From here on in, warning, there be major spoilers ahead. Right from the start of the game the story is goofy. A minute after our first look at the ME universe’s Earth, the Reapers attack, not giving the player any time to acclimate to the game. Then a little later (after a goofy child’s death that will haunt Shepard for the rest of the game) you are introduced to the game’s one and only plot device, blueprints for an all-powerful weapon designed but not completed by the Protheans, called the Crucible. This is just so generic and out of the blue, it doesn’t make any sense, but I was ok with playing along. You then have a mission involving each of the previous ME game’s characters, some small and some large. The developers then proceed to kill off two of my favorite characters in these missions, Mordin and Thane. However, I can accept their deaths, especially since it was established previously that both of them were near death (old age and lung disease respectively) and both of them were done very well, they had good deaths. I admit that I felt serious emotion with both of them, and I may or may not have cried through the whole hospital scene.
I have a lot of problems with the development of Cerberus as the main antagonist in a game about the Reapers. I understand that Bioware wanted to provide different enemies to face, and I admit that their AI and designs are excellent. However, I don’t understand how Cerberus became so powerful. Every time you see them they’re a step ahead of you, even when you kill hundreds or thousands of their heavily armed and trained troops. Later they kind of explain this by establishing that they created a refugee Sanctuary that was actually a Human harvesting and indoctrination factory, but it still doesn’t quite add up. I didn’t love Cerberus in ME2, and things they’ve done had always been on the border of indecency and terrorism, but it usually seemed to be in Humanity’s best interest. However, in ME3 they’re all crazy and doing absolutely horrible incomprehensible things, Bioware tries to say it’s all because TIM has been slowly indoctrinated and he’s now under control of the Reapers, but I never really thought they successfully established this. Probably the goofiest Cerberus plot line is the coup of the Citadel, which made absolutely zero sense. They somehow gained control of Udina (who while being a douche bag didn’t have any connections to Cerberus and had no reason to betray the rest of the Council) and managed to infiltrate the Citadel which is supposed to be the safest and most guarded place in the Galaxy (they even again said they upgraded the security). Then they for some reason wanted to assassinate the entire council, for reasons that are never explained.
Up until around halfway through the game, I didn’t love the story, but I was in love with the game and having a lot of fun playing it. Then after the previously mentioned Cerberus coup of the Citadel, I received the first realization that Bioware might not care about their fans, or that they might possibly even hate us. Previously in the Citadel, you met up and talked to Kelly Chambers in the refugee camp. There was a great little scene where after asking if she wants to rejoin the Normandy, she describes the horror she experienced on the Collector ship, and that she can’t be on the Normandy as it reminds her of what she faced. Instead, she’s helping the refugees coming into the Citadel. I loved this little interaction, and I thought it was great fan service for Kelly fans. Then after the coup, when walking around the refugee camp you hear two people talking and they basically say “Have you seen that red headed woman who was helping out so much?” “You didn’t hear? A Cerberus soldier came up asking if she was Kelly Chambers, and after she said yes he just shot her in the head.” “Huh, I guess if Cerberus asks you if you’re someone, you should just say no.” “Hah hah hah.” This was a character I spent the whole of ME2 talking to and growing to care about, and Bioware decided to kill her off so disrespectfully and unnecessarily, I was just absolutely horrified. I wished I could have never heard that conversation, but no, it will now always be in my brain.
After this point, everything was ok, not perfect but I pretty much enjoyed all of the events and there were some really awesome kickass scenes, until the final battle to retake Earth. The whole strategy for retaking Earth was a little goofy, but I didn’t mind it too much. There was also a great area where before the final battle you walk around the camp and talk to all of your party members, and you can even call and talk to the previous game’s characters that aren’t playable in ME3. The conversations are a little short, but I enjoyed all of them. Then after fighting for a while, you get to the beam to take you to the Citadel (Which was taken by the Reapers without any explanation of how, and you can assume billions of people were killed) and everything breaks apart in a million pieces. You know the developer did something wrong when fan created explanations/interpretations make more sense than what we were actually given (The most logical being that the whole Citadel sequence was an indoctrinated dream). Other people have more succinctly examined and explained all of the different problems and plot holes, so I won’t go too in depth here. Nevertheless, you are apparently hit by the Reaper’s laser beam that destroys everything it touches, but here you only get some melted armor and a beat up face. You also receive a very powerful heavy pistol with unlimited ammo that you use to kill the Reaper creations between you and the teleportation beam. When you get to the beam and are transported to the Citadel, somehow both the Illusive Man and Anderson beat you to the main room. There’s this whole thing where somehow TIM is able to control your body and make you shoot Anderson, then you are able to kill TIM. After ascending the elevator to the merged Crucible and Citadel console, a God-like AI in the form of the dead child from Earth appears. Here, Bioware for some reason decides to give you more questions than providing any answers. The God-child says that the Reapers are his answer to the problem that Synthetic life (pure order) will eventually completely wipe out all Organic life (pure chaos). Basically, the Reapers were created to save Organic life from Synthetics by murdering and harvesting every developed race each 50,000 years. Through this whole interaction, Shepard acts completely subjugated and accepts everything the child says as absolute truth. You are finally given three options, you can control the Reapers (presented as the blue or Paragon choice even though it was represented by TIM, who was at least a Renegade character), you could destroy the Reapers along with all synthetic life (presented as the red or Renegade choice even though it was represented by Anderson, who was absolutely a Paragon character), or you could take the third option which would merge all organic and synthetic life (presented by no one, but this is obviously the choice that the God-child AI wants). Then, no matter what choice you make, as long as your war assets are beyond a very small level, Shepard dies, the Reapers leave Earth or are destroyed, every Mass Relay is destroyed (hopefully in a way different than what was seen in the Arrival DLC or entire systems might have been wiped out of existence), and the Normandy, after Joker apparently flees the battle on Earth, just barely escapes the blast and crash lands on an Eden-like planet, with characters that were just with you rushing the beam somehow being magically transported to the Normandy. Then that’s it, the game is over except for a ridiculous conversation featuring a star-child and an old man taking place in a forest that resembles the one in Shepard’s dream (and a flash of Shepard taking a breath if you had enough EMS and chose to destroy the Reapers). Oh, also there’s an insulting message telling you to buy the future DLC Bioware releases, and you’re set up back on the Normandy before the raid on the Cerberus base. I literally walked all around the Normandy trying to talk to everyone, and it felt like I was in a different dimension, it was just so weird and awkward. The only real difference between the three endings is the color of the beam the Crucible emits. When faced with the choice, I watched each ending on Youtube, and decided on the Green/Synthesis ending. Partly because it was the weirdest, but mostly because Edi and Joker embrace in that end, and if I had to die & the universe had to be irreversibly changed (most likely leading to many of the stranded races on Earth dying of starvation and never seeing their homes or loved ones) at least someone could find some happiness in this ending.
So why am I and almost every Mass Effect fan outraged at the ending”s” Bioware gave us? (In one poll found on the official Mass Effect forums 91% of around 60,000 fans hated the ending and wants Bioware to change it completely, and 6% still wanted the ending slightly adjusted). First and foremost, the ending is so bleak and depressing, that there is no opportunity for happiness or even a sense of accomplishment that should come with beating a video game. I’ve never before played a game that punished me for beating it. Then there are so many plot holes with weird and abrupt revelations that make no sense. However, the biggest problem with the ending is that no choice that you made in all three games has any bearing on the outcome. As long as your Shepard didn’t die in ME2 and you have the minimum amount of war assets or EMS in ME3 you get the same ending as someone that worked hard in each Mass Effect game and created their perfect Shepard story, maxing out all of the meters, doing all of the missions. I wouldn’t have liked any ending where Shepard dies, but I could have accepted it if it was well done and provided closure, instead of just appearing to be the crumpled pieces of paper that a writer with any talent would have thrown into the trash. The sense of hopelessness despair and depression was never before found in the Mass Effect games, even though you faced suicide missions, if you did everything right only one of your team members died in the games, and the mission was always essentially a complete success (There were always a large amount of casualties, but they were all blank faces). I really can’t see how anyone at Bioware would have liked this ending. I’ve come to the conclusion that either Bioware doesn’t care about their long term fans, hates their long term fans, or are so stupid that they thought the fans would actually like the ending they provided (or possibly a fourth option where they’re just being trolls and the whole ending was a dream sequence and the true ending is being released as DLC, although I would probably associate this option as aligning closely to “they don’t care about their fans”). I have my own version of the ending rolling around in my head, which resolves mostly around the possibility that the Crucible is a Reaper artifact, not something created and added to by each successive cycle. I might post it in the comments section when/if I finish it.
Before finishing this way too long review, I wanted to talk about one last thing, and that is High Expectations along with the pitfalls of the massive undertaking that is the Mass Effect Trilogy. There are two kinds of expectations gamers had for Mass Effect 3, one is what fans that played the previous games expected to see in the finale, and the other is the high expectations that the developers and the video game media hype monster created for the game. I have always been worried about the third Mass Effect, I could never figure out how you could battle the Reaper army. I really expected there to be some sort of new game play¸ even though Bioware has not had too much success with vehicles, I always thought there would be some sort of galactic space battle that you controlled or lead from the helm of the Normandy. Instead we got a short though admittedly awesome cut scene for the final battle. I didn’t know how they would make a game out of fighting gigantic near invincible beings when before the main gameplay aspect had been about cover based third-person shooting. Bioware’s answer to this was to have a number of cool indoctrinated/altered beings which to me worked well, and they used Cerberus as another shock troop enemy force, which didn’t really work with the narrative. Finally, my biggest expectation was that I’d experience a conclusion that ended my amazing time in this universe with a bang, which hopefully included the destruction of the Reapers and making little blue babies with Liara. Instead Shepard followed the directions of a God-child AI that was just introduced without asking any questions, and used a weak plot device called the Crucible that through unexplainable powers killed my avatar I’d spent 100’s of hours creating/developing and effectively destroyed or at least crippled the galaxy. As you can see, my expectations were not met. Now onto what the developers kept insisting, that this is the final conclusion of the Mass Effect series, where all of your actions would come to a head in an amazing climax. Yeah, expectation not met, however they succeeded in their goal as they managed to get millions of people to pre-order the game or buy it on release day. Regarding the pitfalls of allowing save files in a game filled with hundreds of choices to be carried on to each subsequent game, there are multiple problems. Bioware had three main sets of fans to consider when creating Mass Effect 3, people that loved the previous games and saved each character that was possible to save, people that liked the previous games but didn’t care enough and accidentally or purposefully let multiple characters die, and potential new fans of the game that they could get to buy ME3. The first set of fans is probably the hardest to appease, as they all want hours of in-depth interactions with the characters they grew to know and love. The second set is also hard to appease as Bioware had to create characters to fill in for ones that may have died but are needed for the narrative (Regarding this, I recently saw a conversation on Youtube with the Salarian that replaced Mordin that was one of the funniest in the entire game, yet I didn’t get to experience it because I saved him. It makes me wonder what other awesome conversations and characters I might have missed because I was a good player and beat all of the side missions). The third set of fans are probably the easiest to appease (if they like the game play) although it might be hard to establish previously introduced characters enough for the player to care about them, and EA has to spend a lot of money trying to attracts these new potential fans. I accept that it’s hard to appease everyone, but Bioware should have understood that the previous hardcore fans (even though you know they were going to buy the game anyway) can serve as a free promotion device as they are incredibly vocal when they love a game. They are also even more vocal when they are disappointed in a game, something that Bioware is experiencing now. I would almost feel bad about the horrible backlash Bioware is receiving, except for the fact that they ruined the time I spent with my most favorite video game series I’ve ever played. So instead I hope the pressure collapses their stone castle and they give real answers to our questions and demands regarding the horrible ending.
So, concluding this obscenely long review (really I’m sorry for its length) I would give the game a 4.5/5 rating, but with the ending I have to give it a 2/5. I would give it a 1/5, but that really wouldn’t be fair, because I did enjoy most of my time with the game. If Bioware were to release a DLC alternate ending I would be happy to alter my rating, but a 2/5 successfully expresses the disappointment, anger, and depression I’m feeling after beating the game.
I started playing Mass Effect 3, and so far I’m blown away. I’ve loved pretty much every hour I’ve spent with the game, and I can’t wait to sink many more hours into it. One of my biggest worries with the game, was how the urgency of saving Earth was going to affect my favorite part of the ME series, gathering new people, talking to them, and generally getting to know them. So far, all of that is still here, and that makes me very happy. I had also been skeptical about the James Vega character, but the first main interaction you have with him on the Normandy is one of the best in the ME series. Another cool part was the almost random noncommittal way that one of the new Normandy pilots mentioned that he’d left his husband on Earth, we’ll see how the conversation branches, but so far it’s much better than the way homosexuality was presented in Dragon Age 2 (although my main Shepard is purely a straight if xenophilliac man).
Now about all of the controversy surrounding the game, I think it can be purely pointed towards the soulless publishing behemoth that is Electronic Arts. For me, it didn’t really matter as I had already pre-ordered the Mass Effect 3 Collector’s Edition. However, it is worrisome, especially when I consider how they’ll package future DLC. I’ve played the From Ashes mission, and it’s pretty basic except for what you learn about the Promethean culture, which is awesome and very well done, along with the fact that you know have a kickass Promethean on the team. However, 10 dollars seems a little overpriced, as they’re essentially saying that all of the other shit I got with my Collector’s Edition is only worth 10 dollars (cool packaging/art book/post card/comic book/N7 velcro patch/ in game robodog and N7 weapons). The free From Ashes dlc would be a big selling point for the Collector’s Edition, except that it wasn’t initially announced and I believe all of the CE’s are sold out. I think that the creepier thing about ME3 that people aren’t talking too much about is the addition of freemium aspects to the multiplayer unlockables. You can unlock the random packs by playing the multiplayer for hours, or you can pay 1 or 2 dollars for the same exact pack. I find it a bit despicable when players can get an advantage by spending money, although it’s not quite as bad since the multiplayer is only cooperative. When I think about 2 dollar dlc packs, I can’t help but compare them to Rock Band songs, and when you do you get your favorite song and 30 different play modes versus 4 completely random things that have a high chance of being useless depending on your character class and play style. It’s just kind of despicable, and I will never waste my money on buying the packs.
Another annoying thing I found about the ME3 release is that I had an immediate game update the second I put the game in. While it’s great that if there were problems they fixed them, it bespeaks that the game release may have been rushed and it is far from being 100% perfect. It’s also frustrating for anyone that might not have access to the internet, though I doubt there are too many out there anymore. My final problem, which is also my biggest, is that I’ve had a hell of a time completing any multiplayer matches. So far I’ve only completed one. As I have a very fast broadband internet connection, and I’ve made certain all of the necessary ports are forwarded, the Xbox has DMZ enabled on my router, and UPNP is also enabled, I have to believe the fault is with EA’s servers. Losing my connection to the EA servers wouldn’t be that bad, except for the fact that you don’t get any experience if you disconnect. You could complete 7 waves and on the last disconnect and not get anything from your time, except the permanent loss of any extras you may have used (this happened to me once already, except it was 5 waves). I really wish that the experience was handed out or saved after every wave, it would solve so many problems. I’ve also had a few weird small random glitches, where for a few minutes the sound was partially off and there weren’t any voices (though the subtitles were there) and some weird animation problems in a talk with Liara where they were both looking perpendicular to each other and Shepard’s eyes were really weird.
Subject: Joe Pa - very interesting read
This was around last Fall right after the @#&% hit the fan. Since then, Joe Pa has died of Cancer, Rick Santorum is running for president on the Republican ticket and Tom Corbett is (R) Govenor of PA. Time to let the cookies fall where they may.
The following, written by Dr. William D. Brown, was passed on to me by a friend of a friend of a Penn State ’60 grad. It is the first I’ve seen it. You read. You judge. Brown has a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas, master’s from Penn State, doctorate from New Mexico. I found it interesting, but have NOT checked any of it out. Pieces of this story have surfaced in the media. The high profile political connections are new to me.
This commentary is not to justify the alleged actions of Jerry Sandusky. I believe he is more than likely guilty and that is why I could never be an impartial juror. According to the U.S. Constitution, which preserves civility in the United States, we need to recognize the court procedures set forth by it. In other words, we need to recognize that government, law enforcement, and politicians will and may use it against us to paint a story with the media. Right now there are only bits and pieces of information; people are appalled and rightfully so, but making sure we get the complete story is necessary. I feel most main stream news sources would not print this, thus we need the internet: the underworld of news. I hope this story is shared by many to get to the core of the truth, as people we are supposed to trust have done a great injustice not only to young children but also to innocent men of which none is Jerry Sandusky in this commentary.
The Penn State University’s association with Jerry Sandusky is going to get super ugly and the whole truth will probably never come out as there is far more to it than just PSU football. The cover up involves Penn State officials starting with the board of trustees, government officials and the police all doing their very best to try to pin this on the most obvious person, Joe Paterno. Paterno is the face of Penn State football and Sandusky was an assistant coach a long time ago (1999). One thing I would bet my life on is that Joe Paterno didn’t want Sandusky around PSU.
Let’s look at some facts. Jerry Sandusky was twice named assistant coach of the year in Division I college football. He was a great defensive coordinator and the record proves his worth to PSU football. While Sandusky was at Penn State, the Nittany Lions had 31 winning seasons during a 32-year stretch. The university was nicknamed Linebacker U. In 1997, Sandusky was first subjected to child abuse charges when the District Attorney of Centre County, Pennsylvania, Ray Gricar dismissed the charges despite evidence and a statement from a victim that Sandusky was showering in the nude with minors and fondling young boys. Because Gricar dismissed the charges, it was just an allegation and 32 years of tenure at Penn State meant the University couldn’t just fire Sandusky without justification lest it would face a wrongful termination lawsuit.
After the original allegations, Joe Paterno told Sandusky he would not be the next head coach at Penn State and he should consider retiring. Paterno informed Sandusky the football team needed to head in a different direction. Considering PSU was used to winning football seasons with Sandusky it seemed strange to fix something that wasn’t broken. The five years immediately following Sandusky’s departure PSU had four losing season. The decision to push Sandusky out was not about winning but about character, and Sandusky’s character appeared to be in question. Per the urging of Paterno, Sandusky agreed to an early “enhanced retirement package” and since he was never convicted he was in a position to negotiate a decent retirement package.
Due to the horrible record and sub-standard PSU defense in the post Sandusky years, Tim Curley the PSU athletic director actually asked Joe to step down as football coach; Paterno refused. Based on this knowledge it is safe to say Joe Paterno was not all about winning football games as he pushed out his best assistant coach because of strong allegations..
Sandusky retired from PSU football at a young age for a football coach (55) His focus turned towards the charity he founded, the Second Mile Foundation. This charity had a legal counselor named Wendell Courtney. Coincidentally, Courtney was the university legal counsel who negotiated Sandusky’s retirement package. The retirement package included, the title of Professor of Physical Education with emeritus status allowing Sandusky full use of university facilities. Sandusky also received an office in East Hall along with a telephone line yet, he never taught at PSU. The retirement package was approved by the Penn State board of trustees (1998) NOT Joe Paterno the football coach.
Why would Sandusky need an office and phone line at PSU? Perhaps, the answer lies with Wendell Courtney. Courtney was legal counsel for The Second Mile Foundation, a charity that raised millions of dollars for under privileged youths. Raising funds for this organization involved many ex Nittany Lion players who went on to play in the NFL and had big name contacts. Sandusky maintained his reputation that included rather complimentary words from former Super Bowl winning coach Dick Vermeil, former President George H.W. Bush, and many others plus a continued association with Penn State University as the cleanest football program in collegiate sports. The PSU connection, the phone, and the office were all beneficial to Sandusky when raising funds for the Second Mile Foundation. Wendell Courtney as legal counsel for the foundation was also a beneficiary of the fund raising as only 10% of funds donated to charities are required by law to go to the actual cause while 90% can be used for administrative fees.
Money was the motivation for Sandusky ‘s existence at PSU but former District Attorney, Ray Gricar cannot answer questions as to his motivations because he has been missing since 2005. Gricar’s Mini Cooper was last seen along the banks adjacent to the Susquehanna River in April of 2005. Strangely, the body of Gricar’s brother was found nine years earlier in the Great Miami River in Ohio .
“Police and family members noted that the location where the vehicle was found – adjacent to two bridges over the Susquehanna River – bore some similarities to the location where the vehicle of Roy Gricar, Ray Gricar’s older brother, was located before his body was found in the Great Miami River in Ohio in 1996. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Gricar
Now let’s examine Joe Paterno’s character. Paterno or Joe Pa as he is affectionately called by many, was an advocate of academics; his players graduated at a rate 78%, 9% greater than the national average and only second to Northwestern in the Big Ten Conference.
“Paterno is also renowned for his charitable contributions to academics at Penn State . He and his wife Sue have contributed over $4 million towards various departments and colleges, including support for the Penn State All-Sports Museum, which opened in 2002, and the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, which opened in 2003. After helping raise over $13.5 million in funds for the 1997 expansion of Pattee Library, the University named the expansion Paterno Library in their honor.
In 2007, former player Franco Harris and his company R Super Foods honored Paterno for his contributions to Penn State by featuring his story and picture on boxes of Super Donuts and Super Buns in Central PA. A portion of the sales will be donated to an endowment fund for the university library that bears his name.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Paterno#Philanthropy_and_education
It should also be noted that Paterno never earned more than $568,000 (base salary) a year in his career well below what he could have commanded given both tenure and nationwide support. While most Division I coaches earn well over a million and up to $5 million per season Joe Paterno, a living legend, collegiate football Hall of Famer barely made a half million per year.
Joe Pa has a reputation of playing by the rules and if he was guilty of anything it was playing by the rules when it came to Sandusky . Paterno couldn’t fire Sandusky in 1999, so he suggested Sandusky take advantage of early “enhanced retirement” from the football program. In 2002, upon hearing allegations from Mike McQueary about child molestation in the showers by the former assistant Sandusky, Paterno followed the rules, just like he has done his entire life.. The rules at Penn State set forth by the board of trustees state that any sexual misconduct must be reported to one’s immediate superior. In this case Paterno and McQueary reported to Tim Curley the Athletic Director and Gary Schultz the Senior Vice President of Business and Finance. Paterno and McQueary followed the rules and per state law McQueary having witnessed an act in the showers of alleged sexual misconduct with a minor by an adult reported this incident to the police. Grand Jury
Report, page 12
Joe Paterno was a football coach at Penn State. He had legendary status and many supporters. He was never a god as some disillusioned people might suggest. He yielded power to the board of trustees, the same group that fired him. If you are indeed an almighty and powerful god you don’t get fired by the board of trustees.
As for Mike McQueary, the then 28 year old graduate assistant allegedly witnessed a horrific act for which he came forward to Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and per his own statements, the police. University police and Centre County police departments are both denying reports of McQueary having made any statements on record. McQueary is considered a credible witness by the state. He has not been fired by the board of trustees and he is not wanted by the police for any violations of the law yet both police departments with jurisdiction are denying he made a statement. Considering McQueary has not been charged and he was found to be a credible, honest witness by the appointed grand jury I would assume he has been honest throughout and did file a police report. As for the police, as the puzzle comes together it almost appears they are involved in the coverup as well.
Gary Schultz is an important figure in this entire debacle. Schultz is the Senior Vice President of Business and Finance for Penn State. Per his job description he oversees the PSU police department. In other words, he is either the head of the university police department or he is a representative of the police department, otherwise what business did he have in hearing statements from Paterno and McQueary? Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley decided the incident reported by McQueary was “not that serious” and like Ray Gricar in 1998, dismissed the eye witness account from McQueary and never reported their findings to the state of Pennsylvania child services department as required by law. Gary Schultz appears to have a major conflict of interest. He was the head of the university police department (oversees) and the Sr. Vice President of Business and Finance; to report Sandusky for sexual misconduct with a minor would have rocked the PSU program in 2002, costing the University revenue and making Schultz look bad so it’s possible he decided to cover up the incident and focus on finance and business. Schultz has been discredited as having faulty testimony in the case and is not considered a credible witness. Grand Jury Report page 9
This wouldn’t be the first time the police have covered up a crime. The fraternity in blue was well aware of first-hand reports of sexual abuse by Sandusky in 1997 in Centre County. The police didn’t pursue the allegations and by law ironically since then District Attorney Ray Gricar dismissed the charges; the police did not have the authority to go any further regardless of “Noonan’s moral obligations”.
Schultz is currently retired from PSU and is out on bail for failing to report a criminal act against a child (Grand Jury report page 12) Based on the information Schultz received from McQueary he and recently fired President Graham Spanier took away Sandusky’s keys and notified him to not to bring children onto PSU property. This was not Joe Paterno’s ruling but rather the decision of senior officials at Penn State University.
In 2009 more allegations were brought against Jerry Sandusky by Clinton County High School for molesting young boys at the school where Sandusky was a volunteer coach. AT the time charges were the responsibility of then Attorney General Tom Corbett. Corbett claims he put off the case because he had ties to the Sandusky family. Corbett had enough evidence to arrest Sandusky in 2009 but chose to wait. Ironically the Second Mile Foundation had donated over $640,000 to Corbett’s political campaign including $200,000 for Corbett’s 2010 race for Governor of Pennsylvania http://earlyreturns.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/early-returns-20/53-post-gazette-staff/3641-more-second-mile-psucorbett-ties To make matters worse Governor Tom Corbett, who was the acting attorney general in 2009 and aware of the Sandusky child molestation case approved a $3,000,000 state grant to The Second Mile Foundation in 2010. Corbett is the same governor who refused to spend $40 million for disabled citizens but approved $3 million to a charity and it’s founder who Corbett knew to be the focus of a child molestation case. http://thepennsylvaniaprogressive.com/
The coverup goes far deeper and cuts into the judicial system. The judge who set the bail for Sandusky to roam free on $100,000 unsecured bail ($400,000 lighter than requested by the prosecutor’s office) had direct ties with The Second Mile Foundation; another conflict of interest. The Second Mile Foundation also recently purchased land from Penn St. University which was approved by the board of trustees including board member Governor Tom Corbett. Had Corbett revealed allegations against Sandusky in 2009 his acceptance of campaign donations from Sandusky’s charity might have come into strong question and he would not have received additional financial support in 2010 for the governor’s race. If that is not enough political influence, include Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania in the already embarrassing mix. In 2002 Sandusky was awarded the “Angels in Adoption Award” by Senator Santorum for his work with foster children so Pennsylvania politicians were well represented when sweeping the 1997 case under the rug. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Mile
Considering both the money involved with The Second Mile Foundation and the man who was it’s President and founder, it took a lot of nerve, or ignorance by Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan to criticize Joe Paterno for “not meeting his moral obligations”. It’s easy to go after an 84 year old man. After all Paterno is feeble and will die soon enough even if he does decide to sue the state for slandering his reputation. Remember, Paterno tried to get rid of Sandusky; the board of trustees allowed Sandusky to keep an office on campus. (Joe Paterno died of Cancer in January 2012)
Frank Noonan stirred the pot and slandered Joe Paterno so badly that support for Paterno was at an all-time low. This is what allowed the board of trustees to fire Paterno. The spotlight has been placed on Paterno as an “enabler”, yet Sandusky has not been under Joe Paterno’s supervision since 1999. Paterno is enough of a public figure that a spotlight on him takes heat off of the real “enablers”. Frank Noonan slandered Joe Pa to take the focus off his boss in the governor’s office. The money trail from Sandusky to Corbett is documented. Sandusky had value in Tom Corbett’s political career.
It’s a horrific tragedy that young boys have been allegedly molested by Sandusky for years. I refrain from calling him guilty but the evidence, political coverup supported by police departments state-wide, and the attempt to deflect press onto Joe Paterno is the most corrupt and sickest political scandal in my lifetime. A case so vile as child molestation, that is covered up for so many years, probably wouldn’t be covered up by a man who has followed the rules for the past 84 years of his life while exhibiting actions of excellent character. But when politicians, police, and money are involved, even the sickest of actions is allowed to continue for such an extensive period of time until it becomes so hideous that parents talk to one too many cops and finally something has to be done. Finally something has been done!
PSU in this case may not stand for Penn State University; perhaps it stands for Political State cover Up. It takes more than one man to cover up child molestation for 14 years. One man is not powerful enough to enable a child molester to prey on children for 14 years. However combine political donations, an attorney general with ambitions to become governor with law enforcement under his control and that seems to be enough power.
|—||The source is questionable (email from my Dad) so this might not be 100% true, but it is an interesting read.|
Rick Santorum on his campaign strategy.
Lube the shaft of justice with the KY jelly of capitalism, Rick!
My first article for Persephone Magazine is up. I covered this issue pretty extensively on here earlier in the week, so this is kind of a mega-post of the most important information.
I will be contributing regularly to Persephone Magazine (they also have a Tumblr). They have tons of other awesome stuff, so check it out!!
This, bitches. This.
I am rebloggin’ myself from a year ago since this issue was addressed on The Daily Show last night.
Since I wrote this article, only somewhere between .04%-2% of the people who took the drug test have failed. Florida forces poor people to pay the $30 up front for the drug test, and they reimburse them if they pass. As of October, the state had lost nearly $250,000 reimbursing people for the tests. They saved about $40,000 denying benefits to the people who failed or refused to provide results.
So, a complete and utter failure on every level. Oh, and have I mentioned that the governor’s wife owns a controlling share in the company that administers the drug tests? Florida has lost money, but the governor who passed the law has made money! Surprise!
Besides the fact that the law has actually cost the state 5 times more money than it’s saved, Aasif Mandvi brought up the excellent point that EVERYONE USES TAXPAYER DOLLARS. If our legislators won’t consent to a drug test, welfare recipients shouldn’t have to either.
I love Bill Maher’s show, but in regards to his statements about SOPA and online piracy, he is currently on top of Mount Stupid (http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2475). Simply put, downloading a torrent is not stealing. To me, the definition of stealing relies on a person taking an item/idea from someone consequentially making it unable for the person/business to use or sell the item. When you download a torrent you’re setting up a peer to peer trade of an item the other person owns. For example, would it be stealing if you went to Target, and while looking at a hat a person comes up and gives you their hat saying, “Don’t buy that hat, it isn’t very good. Here, you can have mine, I bought it and don’t want it anymore.” The business may not like this kind of trade, but it isn’t illegal, and it definitely isn’t stealing.
I am a consumer that hugely supports the entertainment industry, but I have also downloaded and shared terabytes of data over the years. I go to the movie theater at least once a week (unless there’s nothing watchable out) and I buy the movies I like when they come out on Blu-Ray. However I also download and watch a lot of movies that I would never watch otherwise (unless they’re on HBO/Showtime). I am not stealing from the massive movie publishers, I would never have bought the movies anyway, and since the download was from a peer, I am not taking something that the publisher could sell to someone else. For music it’s similar, I probably on average buy an album a week from indie artists (though it’s usually not spread out, I go on music purchasing binges). Then I “illegally” download albums from larger more mediocre bands that would only see pennies even if I did purchase their album. Again, I would never buy an album that I download from a torrent, in fact there are many cases where I’ve torrented an album and after loving it, I’ve bought a physical copy. There are also multiple music playlists that people compile and release as torrents that allows “illegal” downloaders to experience new amazing bands (I religiously follow the Indie Rock Playlist: http://theindierockplaylist.com/) and possibly buy the albums of the bands they like. For books, I refuse to spend more on an eBook (which has absolutely zero production costs except for the person that originally copies and pastes the document and sometimes checks for formatting errors) than I would on a paperback (eight bucks). So if there’s a book I want to read, I have multiple times bought the hardcover copy, and pirated the eBook so I could read it on my kindle when the eBook version was crazily overpriced. In none of these cases am I stealing a product, or depriving them of any money. If I love the product companies are selling, I’ll gladly buy it, but if I only kind of want to experience it, I’ll just download a free torrent version of it.
Now I might not be the best example of the average torrenting pirate. It would probably be fair to say that they’re mostly made up of people under the age of 18, or at least that they’re people without an adequate revenue stream that would allow them to buy all of the media they want to experience. The publishers and media creators are not losing any money to these illegal downloaders, but what they are getting is the building of a potential fan base, that spreads the word about a cool new band, movie, or show to people that might have the extra income to legally buy the content. You will also potentially get young fans to save their allowances so they can spend big bucks on things like concerts. The publishers are essentially getting free meta-advertising, and the creators are getting thousands to millions of people experiencing the art/ideas/entertainment they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to. The only form of pirating that I don’t approve of at all is when the person goes out to the street and sells the free media they downloaded for a profit. I also am not a huge fan of when people take a camera into a theater and record the movie then upload it as a torrent. I consider this much closer to stealing, or some sort of illegal activity, also the video and sound usually suck.
In regards to SOPA/PIPA I think that the panel on the show already accurately corrected Bill Maher’s comments, so I won’t add too much to that. However, I will say that that the seizure and shutdown of direct downloading site MegaUpload proves that the anti-piracy methods the government currently has available are working. We don’t need to allow the removal of sites without due process, 5 year imprisonment of youtube offenders like the early Justin Bieber, and a raping of the internal structure of the internet that would still allow the privateers to continue their illegal file sharing but would hurt the average user and potential creators of new amazing websites. A much better way to deal with the torrenting rabble is to treat them like humans. All you have to do is look at Louis CK’s website: https://buy.louisck.net/ He independently released his show, which is the culmination of a year’s worth of jokes, in the most easily pirated way possible. Yet by pricing it at a reasonable 5 dollars and just writing a few paragraphs asking people not to torrent the show, he’s earned at least a million dollars.
I love your show Bill Maher, but just try not to spit so much vitriol about a subject you don’t understand next time. :)
Dean Blanchard, Grand Isle, LA. Once one of the largest shrimp buyers on the Gulf coast, his business has been decimated by crude contamination that continues to roll in on his beach community that is closest to the BP Horizon well.
I really wish there was more mainstream coverage of the aftermath of the BP oil spill.