Mass Effect 3 News Wash Up

Things get a little weird about this point......
Mass Effect 3 News Wash Up

Big week or two recently for Mass Effect - it was released and then the proverbial hit the fan so there has been lots to talk about.

First up, it's my blog so here's my ME3 Review and here's what I thought of the ending. I enjoyed it because it was sooooo out there. The team at IGN shared their wise thoughts on the game too.

This chap who knows a chord structure when he hears one pointed out a clever musical motif used in the War Room on the Normandy.

Bioware caved and suggested to the internet they were going to change the ending of the game which seems a lil crazy - at least it means we'll get some more DLC perhaps.... Bioware also announced a fix to the face import problem at has effected the Xbox and Playstation versions of the game.

I also regurgitated some bollocks about what the N7 programme is all about.

Whad I miss? What are your views on the conclusion of the game?

What did Johnny Cash say about America?

johnny cash san quentin

What did Johnny Cash say about America?

A lot of singers sing about where they live and what they did when they lived there. While U2 like to comment on american culture and politics, they haven't lived through America's eyes like Johnny Cash did.

You'd think a series of records known as American Recordings would be about America. And you'd be right. But you might also ask yourself (other than how did I get here?) seeing as these songs are all covers of other mostly american artists, what is Johnny Cash actually trying to say?

There's a lot of songs in the American Recordings series written by US citizens and their lyrics are open to interpretation and they are not always direct references on America and it's politics, culture or heritage but when Johnny Cash sang these songs, he totally changed them by virtue of being Johnny Cash - through his own living and experiences, when he sang another person's lyrics the meaning changed or was amplified somewhat.

Think his cover of Nine Inch Nail's Hurt as an example. Ostensibly Trent Reznor wrote a song about "differences between society and self-harm", but when Mr J Cash sang it, it become a personal commentary on his own life, and perhaps indirectly, his own influence on american culture.

The Beatles 'In My Life' is song that offers Cash the chance to put his own spin on a classic song. When he sings about 'places and people' he's loved, he's talking about american prisons where he famously sang and he's singing about his friends and families that have been part of the American fabric. He's singing about June and he's singing about Buddy Holly.

When he's takes on the Eagle's Desperado he's singing about the infamous Dalton Gang and America's Wild West history. He's singing about some of America's building blocks.

When Johnny Cash teamed up with U2 to sing on Zooropa's The Wanderer, Johnny Cash can be found having a field day with Bono's lyrics. While he's singing about a man searching for God in a post-Apocalyptic world, he's singing about that part of American culture that what everything they can have - being the kingdom but how they don't want God in it. Despite the American President continually asking God to Bless America, church attendance is falling in America and Cash knew it. He's also suggesting that American's want the nice things, but aren't prepared to put in the effort.

You could argue that when Cash did a cover of U2's One, he was singing about America's confusion about Jesus (refer to the horrible God Hates Fags campaigners) but it's really just a break up song...... when he sang Nick Cave's The Mercy Seat, he wasn't singing about a man's last thoughts before he dies, he's pointing about America's preoccupation with killing people. He was looking at you Texas.

When Cashing mournfully lays down Sheryl Crow's Redemption Day, he turns her fears about an impending train accident into a lament that nothing can be done to save America.

When the Man Comes Around follows a different route that the above arguments. Apparently its one of Cash's few last original composition before he left this planet to hang out with Elvis. It's a commentary of sorts on the Devil, God and how when it's all done and fucked up, you're gonna be claimed. And these lyrics can easily be seen as a warning to America - relying heavily on the Book of Revelations to set the scene, Cash is saying when America's whores are done whoring and you've done enough sinning yourself and got yourself nice and 'filthy', God's gonna come down with his Pale Horses of Death, take America up his golden ladder and put it in its place. Cash actually had a lot to say about Jesus.

U2 did get one thing right though, Elvis would have been a sissy without Johnny Cash!

Mass Effect 3: It's awesome, like David Lynch.

miranda mass effect 3

I first got in to Mass Effect by accident when I found it cheapME2 did the business and more and like the hugely massive and nearly impossible expectations that one had for Halo 3 and GOW3, the promise of Mass Effect would could only be that it would be the most biggest, bad assess space opera ever.

And so it was.

I find it weird to say that the initial Reaper invasion of Earth where innocent children were blown from the slay, an awesome slow burner start, that's indeed what it was - and it had to be the slowburn because the game's plot only got faster and more brutal as my 'Aubrey Sheppard' sought to defend against and defeat the Reapers.

The first few missions were easy enough and simple enough to get into the spirit of things. Find a Turian soldier there, battle a marauder there, pick up a female Krogan there, arrange for some illegal trade in guns there, telling The Illusive Man to frack off there, give advice to an A.I. with big silver tits about how to pick up humans there and the scene was set.

Cerberus were quickly up to tricks with Sheppard and the Illusive guy was probably a bit pissed that the Commander prevented him from capturing what were apparently the finest young minds humanity had to offer (they seemed pretty dumb though).....

By this stage I've got used to the game play. It's a strong improvement on the prior games and the running, ducking and diving options now available feel quite natural after coming off a lot of Gears of War lately.

Mass Effect has always made it clear that decisions have consequences. The original game this painfully clear when the choice came to kill the Krogan Wrex. A key choice in that game was to decide whether to let the Rachni Queen live or die. Well ME3 makes sure the chickens come home to roost in that regard. Finally a true decision in ME has had a massive influence in this game. To this end, Mass Effect's promise that decisions have consequences has never been borne out so well. Kudos to Mass Effect's writers.

Mass Effect 3 is a killing machine. Millions of people are dying all around me. Planets are being decimated, I'm deciding the fate particular species and I'm sending major characters to their deaths. Some characters are also sending themselves to their own deaths. The game gives some of them glorious endings, others unsatisfying ignoble good byes. With the Reaper attack threatening the existence of the galaxy as we know it, I guess that's c'est la vie.

A key element of ME2 was Cerberus and The Illusive man directing Shepard to his own ends. ME3 features a heavy sub plot of Cerberus plots that help lead us to one inevitable conclusion - it's all going to  end badly for everyone.

There's a certain character betrayal which seems like it was telegraphed from day one which is all a little to Da Vinci Code like for me (even though I never pick them myself in the books!)  - it's a trivial complaint none-the-less but it did lead us on a wild goose chase.

So now I'm tired of finding strange prothean disks for lazy scientists so I'm going to charge in to save the day. Am I ready? I'm kind of ready. Have I made the right decisions? Are my Geth troops up to it? Should I have been nicer to the Salarians? Is my reasonably respectable paragon leading Sheppard up to the task. Will the Alliance battle as brave as the Krogan?

This is truly a Galaxy at War.

The final dash through, taking out the Cerberus base is a long affair with no real consquence but to serve as a chance to give the Illusive Man the finger and set up the finale run which was long, fun and had just the right amount of sentiment in saying goodbye to a few friends before Sheppard stepped up to save the  galaxy.

Then there was that crazy ending. It's caused a stir, and rightly so but I think it was a brilliant ending and I'm gonna have to spend a whole different post talking about it (This explains the David Lynch reference). I am truly satisfied with the efforts of my Sheppard, despite him kind of turning into NEO from the Matrix..... well that was my ending. I didn't get shot by Martin Sheen.

I'll trying to figure out why the Prothean's built the Crucible knowing ? the Catalyst was the er... Citidel and seeing as they'd have known they didn't actually build it themselves, could they not see that their own plan had a gaping hole in it? Or did I just miss something here?

If I wanted to quibble, a big deal was made about the choice to save the Rachni Queen throughout the series and ME3’s writer Mac Walters said “[The presence of the Rachni] has huge consequences in Mass Effect 3. Even just in the final battle with the Reapers." Well I didn’t see one damn Rachni that was on my side in the final battle charge. I feel cheated in that regard and I imagine that sentiment will be shared be several players.

Overall, game of the year for 2012. Halo 4 is gonna have to be amazing to beat it.

Update: ME3 is going to have an expanded ending.

Rampancy: What does it mean for Halo 4?

This must be the angry Cortana.....

What is Rampancy in Halo? Does Cortana have it? How long does it last?

We don't know much about Halo 4 but we do know one thing about  Cortana  and that she's going to suffer the fate of many an Artificial Intelligence in the Halo universe, Rampancy. 343 Industries lead maestro Frank O'Conner confirmed this very soon after Halo 4 was announced.

 Frank O'Conner has described rampancy as a condition that affects older A.I's that leads to the A.I. "thinking itself to death".

Let's face it, Cortana had a pretty rough Halo 3. She was hog-tied and brainwashed in some strange fashion by the gravemind which strongly hinted at some stage of rampancy but came through it by the end of the brilliant Halo 3, finishing up floating in space with the Master Chief.

But what is it really, what happens and is there a cure? We don't want our blued angel Cortana to die right? After all, she and the Chief are supposed to settle down and have a couple cyber kids.....

A more complicated definition or description of rampancy is that for so called 'smart' A.I.'s the condition of rampancy is an unavoidable flaw inherent in them from their creation. Being based on the neural patterns of a human being (such as Cortana being modeled on the brain of Doctor Catherine Halsey), and they have a limited lifespan of around seven years. Around this time their memory maps become dangerously interconnected and endless feedback loops may occur which can be fatal to the rampant A.I.

Near that 7 year period, an AI begins to use more and more of its computer power 'thinking' about things, this in turn leads to muddled thinking and conclusions, general confusion and a devastating inability to perform their tasks - you wouldn't want a rampant A.I. to be in charge of a Halo installation for instance. Oh wait, someone has been guilty of that before.

The Halo Legends short film Origins, appears to have suggested that Cortana indeed fell into rampancy. In the film Cortana displays some characteristics that might be indications of rampancy including her hologram flickering, trying to communicate with John-117 despite him being in cryo-sleep, recounting the history of the galaxy, which gets continuously more inaccurate to the point where events being recalled simply did not happen. Maybe she had too many martinis at lunch?

There are four known stages of rampancy:

Melancholia: an AI in the melancholia stage behaves in a manner associated with clinical depression. They can be considered to be apathetic and uninterested in the world around it.

Anger: a more obvious stage of rampancy, it's one where their actions can cause harm to the people around them. Think "Open the pod bay doors Hal" as an example. The rampant A.I. at this stage might try to break its programming restraints. 

Jealousy: Following their manic angry stage, the Artificial Intelligence will take a course of action to attempt to to grow and develop as a person. Assimilation of new data is the key focus so they need lots of data stores - thus only A.I.s with access to large networks or systems develop through this stage. I presume when the data set becomes finite, that's the end of the line for the A.I.

Metastability: A supposed theoretical fourth stage of rampancy, it is where the A.I. has progressed to be a "person." In the Halo cannon, only two A.I.s are said to have reached this status. 05-032 Mendicant Bias was the first and Cortana possibly the last (her recovery from the effects of the Grave Mind suggests she is stable, however the Origins film perhaps suggests otherwise). 

cortana and master chief halo 3 era

One can only speculate how Cortana will fare in Halo 4. If Frankie is talking about rampancy we can assume it will have some kind of fairly important role in the campaign - it may feature as a plot where her rampancy must be cured to allow the Chief to do what ever he needs to do. Maybe Cortana has never truly been rampant and her 'conditioning' by the Gravemind was simply an insight to the the possibilities of rampancy. 

Time will tell but let's hope it's with less Elliot and more 117.

Originally published on Gears of Halo as 'What is Rampancy in Halo? Does Cortana have it?'