Pardon the break in service. For the past week or so, I’ve been submerged in Avid Media Composer. I want to say its keyframes have laved against my sensibilities with the same cool, calming touch of the Caribbean as it washes up on Cancun following a summer squall. But that would be absurdly overwrought. And untrue besides.
Fact: AVC costs around 75 percent less than, as far as I’m concerned, the industry gold standard, Adobe Premiere Pro. Equally true: AVC is one tiny notch above unusable compared to Premiere. We’re talking notches measured in nanometers here. Aside from it being archaically slow, AVC’s tools make you feel like your index and middle fingers and ring and pinkie fingers, on both hands, are glued together.
I feel a simile coming on. AVC is to manual push mower as Premiere is to as-yet-uninvented lawn-mowing apparatus that, instead of blades, employs both lasers and nanomachines and can be automated much like a sprinkler system.
A couple of reasons why I even gave it a go: 1) Premiere’s aforementioned exorbitant price tag, and 2) My then-computer (wait for it!) ran 32-bit Windows 7, and Pro CS6 appears to be the only Premiere Adobe’s issuing in trial form, and it itself only has a 64-bit version, unlike Avid, which has a 32-bit scheme. Wow, I’m doing some really filthy, degrading things to commas today.
There’s a third reason that I’ll probably tell you all about next week.
Of course, the above is now moot, for two reasons. 1) New computer! Yay! and, 2) honorary ab-yx associate producer Jayedub is in the process of hooking me up in a very serious way with a beautiful swath of Adobe products. Everyone should shower him, his wife, and his issue with much love and good tidings.
Moving on. Early this week, I finally made it to the back of Mass Effect 3, and I have a few general thoughts. MIND YOURSELF: Spoilers.
I may as well start at the end since that’s the only thing anyone seems to really care about. Although, I must say, this editorial I wrote prior to my shit-canning I stand behind entirely and feel it is the far more pertinent point of discussion. But I’ve addressed it already, so moving on.
I found the ending that I chose (synthesis) to be mostly hollow and unsatisfying, for possibly a couple of reasons. The first could be limited to those who, like me, didn’t have Mass Effect 1 or Mass Effect 2 saves. (I changed my XBL gamertag to OfTheSame after having finished those two when they came out.) Basically, my playthrough consisted of about 30 hours of unremitting bleakness. Miranda, Tali, Ashley, and others, all dead; I don’t know if I successfully saved anyone whose life was in my hands.
As a result, I felt genuinely awful about myself after each mission, due to the barrage of Sophie’s choice-style situations. Plus, as I prepared to make my final choice, I was under the impression that I had just led both Garrus and Liara to their “once more unto the breach”-style deaths. My thoughts: “Shep has nothing good left to live for. Let’s just end it.” (I later learned that Liara, for one, survived.)
And that’s interesting, because I’ve frequently been a proponent of games expanding beyond the youthful male power fantasy. Mass Effect 3 certainly accomplished that, but in retrospect, I can’t say I’m entirely glad they did, and I certainly have no desire to revisit the game.
Perhaps the fault lies in quantity. Thirty hours of mournful loss strikes me as a bit excessive. That’s especially true after having seen how a game like Passage can achieve that emotion in, what, five minutes? I’d imagine it’s safe to say there’s an upper threshold on tragedy, and if nothing else, I think BioWare made an excellent stride in establishing where that ceiling is. (Which is to say, somewhere south of 30 hours.) Incidentally, I think this boundary violation is what’s at the heart of all that outpouring of angst over the ending when the game came out.
The other reason Mass Effect 3’s ending fell flat had to do with some hamfisted storytelling there at the end, when Hackett, Shep, Wrex, a British dude, several janitors, a florist from Minnesota, etc. etc. climbed the soapbox to deliver pregame pep talks. Mac Walters ought to have consulted The Bard’s Henry V to get a sense of rousing speeches before writing dialogue that distilled to, “We’ll win because we won’t lose!”
And then one last thought on Mass Effect 3: How is it possible that my reputation did not tick up when I bedded Liara? That’s just fucked up.