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Link Roundup for September 3rd: Minecraft meets Mass Effect, See if your industry job is in danger, Games that should’ve been longer, and more…

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Link Roundup is a collection of links from gaming (and non-gaming) sites all over the internet we hope will spark discussion, keep you informed and up-to-date, and broaden your gaming horizons. It will publish each Tuesday and Friday. Readers are encouraged to send link suggestions to jtmgames@gmail.com.

In today’s “strange but oddly appropriate” news, you will soon be able to play a mash up of Mass Effect and Minecraft.

I recommend watching the trailer for Mew-Genics, the new game from Super Meat Boy creators Team Meat.

A new site tracks game industry layoffs.

It’s often said that if the worst thing you can say about a game is that it’s too short, it’s probably a pretty good game. Having said that, here’s a list of 10 games that probably should’ve been longer.

Can politically focused games change public sentiment?

Be sure to cast your vote in GameSpot’s best series of the decade poll.

GameInformer spent Labour Day commendably saluting a number of excellent game developers.

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Mass Effect Lead Writer Talks DLC, Commander Shepard, And Potential For New Stories

mass effect 3 interview

Mass Effect 3 was perhaps one of the biggest games developed in Canada in 2012. Despite all the fan backlash stemming from the game’s original ending, the game sold quite well and even won hundreds of awards including Best Console Game, Best Original Music and Best Writing at the Canadian Videogame Awards. All those things aside, the one thing that Mass Effect fans all agree with is that the trilogy has some of the best writing and the most memorable characters ever written.

I recently had a short chat with Mac Walters, the Lead Writer of the Mass Effect Trilogy at BioWare and the man responsible for creating Male and Female Shepard, one of the most influential game characters in the medium today. During our chat, Mac discussed fans reactions to pre-and-post Extended Cut and Citadel DLC’s, why people love and identify with Commander Shepard, and where the franchise could potentially go in the future.

Check out my full interview with Mac Walters after the break. Read the rest of this entry

These Mass Effect 3 Action Figures Will Blow You Away

You’ve never quite seen Mass Effect 3 action figures as detailed as these.

Over the last few months, we’ve been covering the various Play Arts Kai action figures released by Square-Enix. They’ve all featured incredibly detailed sculptures and articulation that allows for multiple poses; definitely high quality work and worth the premium price.

This time we’ll be looking at the newest additions to the Play Arts Kai line; all three figures coming from Mass Effect 3. Coming this September, Mass Effect fans will be able to pick up Commander Shepard, Garrus Vakarian, and Ashley Williams in their Mass Effect 3 costumes, as well as weapons preferred by each character. As well, each character will include two sets of hands that will allow them to the different weapons offered.

Check out the action figure specs and images after the break. Read the rest of this entry

The Reasons I am a PC Gamer

Even the most rational of people can get cult-like when it comes to something they like. Passionate loyalty will strike in the most surprising of places. An unwitting mention of yogurt in my group of friends launches a sermon of jubilant fervor to the bacterial cultures.

Greek yogurt! Mother of Stamos, it will change you!

As strong as my love for yogurt is, it pales in comparison to the sheer force of zealot-like will  in the console/pc wars.  Gamers aren’t a group known for restrained enthusiasm when it comes to the tools of their trade. As the sole pc reviewer on a site of console knuckle draggers, it was inevitable that article like this would pop up. In fact, I think it’s a legal requirement of all gaming blogs to address this issue. Read the rest of this entry

Follow Friday: Sam Hulick – Mass Effect Soundtrack Composer

A short while ago, composer Sam Hulick (best known for his award winning work throughout the Mass Effect trilogy) was tapped to work with Overhaul Games on their highly anticipated (I want this as much as I do Diablo 3!) Extended Edition release of Baldur’s Gate.

By the way, for all you purists out there, the original soundtrack composed for Baldur’s Gate will remain in the new release. Sam’s stated on Twitter that he’ll be scoring for the new content, using the original content as inspiration.

Find out more about Sam Hulick and his work after the break. Read the rest of this entry

FemShep Unedited – An Interview With Voice Actress Jennifer Hale

You’ve probably heard her voice in your favorite videogames/anime and you never even knew it was Jennifer Hale. Known in the entertainment industry for her amazing voice and her portrayal of popular female cartoon and videogame characters, Jennifer Hale has been in hundreds of games, cartoons and anime over the last 20+ years.

She’s voiced Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid, Electra in Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Bastila in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Samus Aran in the Metroid Prime Trilogy , more recently Female Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series. If they’re strong, independent, female characters, you can bet your bottom dollar that Jennifer Hale is the voice behind the curtain.

We recently had a chance to chat with Ms. Hale about some of her more famous projects. We talked about her experiences, what she learned from her previous work, and what she intends to bring unto her next projects.

Check out our full interview with Jennifer Hale after the break. Read the rest of this entry

Mass Effect 3 Review

It’s interesting, at this point, to try and review a game like Mass Effect 3. It’s been through a huge change of public opinion in such a short time: incredible critical acclaim quickly gave way to overwhelming fan disappointment (based mostly on its ending). Despite some hesitation I happily brand myself a fan.

If you’re reading a Mass Effect 3 review, you probably know the deal with the series. Shepard – boy or girl – has been fighting the Reapers since Mass Effect. In that landmark game we learned the mysterious Reapers are a synthetic machine race bent on wiping out all organic life every 50,000 years. At the beginning of Mass Effect 3 the Reapers do something we’ve been long expecting: attack the galaxy in full force. And – you guessed it – it’s up to Shepard to bring ‘em down.

After two adored games does Mass Effect 3 live up to the hype? The answer is mostly yes, with a little no. It depends on what you bring to it. Read the rest of this entry

Pathetic Supplication: BioWare and the Ending of Mass Effect 3

When did we get like this? When did we develop this sense of entitlement? Did something happen while I wasn’t paying attention that made video game fans believe they – not developers – should get to choose how art is made then given to them? Must have. Because since the release of Mass Effect 3 we have witnessed a very depressing and extremely regressive outcry from fans.

[While I won’t go into specific details about Mass Effect 3’s ending(s), I will be discussing its structure, so I issue the requisite SPOILER WARNING.]

You may have noticed that some people were a touch disappointed by the ending of Mass Effect 3. They felt, for a series famed for its promotion of individual player choice, the conclusion of the third entry was intolerably restrictive. As I said, I won’t spoil anything story-related, but the ending plays out like this: Shepard reaches the game’s climactic moment and is offered three choices (not so-subtly colored to indicate which is the Paragon, Neutral, or Renegade option), each of which will end the game differently. So, regardless of whether you have built your Shepard as a rebellious asshole or selfless hero since 2007’s Mass Effect, the ending you experience of Mass Effect 3 comes down to this. If you’re willing to play the last level three times, you can see each ending on one play through. Read the rest of this entry

Emotion and Mass Effect

So much ire has been targeted at BioWare and Mass Effect 3, despite overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, I feel I need to chime in on something the franchise, including — maybe especially — its latest installment does right: emotion.

You’ve done it a thousand times: take control control of the hero, arm him to the motherfucking teeth, and gun down countless, faceless men. Brutal mass murder can be morally excused as long as the hero shows remorse for A) an innocent, usually a child or helpless female, or B) one of the game’s villains, who becomes a cipher for the hero’s humanity. Human life has been reduced to nothing, or very little, in the context of today’s games.

Read the rest of this entry

A Rebuttal To Jennifer Hepler’s Attackers

If you’re a fan of BioWare games and have your fingers on the pulse of internet drama, you already know about the cyber-bullying of BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler.

Instead of running through the whole story here, take a read through The Mary Sue’s excellent recap.

If you’re a tl;dr sort of person, basically a couple of people chose to get offended at some comments Helper made in a 2006 interview about her job and a little game she was working on called Dragon Age: Origins. Their beef? Hepler publicly stated that she wasn’t much of a gamer and put forward that combat in games could be skipable just as cutscenes, puzzles and dialogue often are. Read the rest of this entry

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