Now, I know we’ve only just finished the first quarter of the 2017 video gaming season, and yet I really want to commemorate a few of the most disappointing things regarding that timeframe. Ironically (or perhaps not so ironically), two of these three things just recently happened, so steel yourself for relative spoilers. Each of these three items does not necessarily pertain to games, but may also pertain to other sources of media such as film and television. Without further ado, allow me to begin today’s short thought blog.
My first point of interest comes regarding the removal of several key elements of the Netflix experience starting just a few days ago with the beginning of this month. If you aren’t exactly sure what I’m referring to particularly, allow me to enlighten you as to why this is such a disappointment and why this month’s phasing out of movies and television shows was handled very poorly. Typically, at least in the past, things haven’t always been so terrible for Netflix when it comes to adding and removing titles and licensing expiring and all that god stuff- however that all changed starting April 1, 2017.
As of April 1, 2017 Netflix binge-watchers have lost the first four seasons of Bones, seasons one through seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first season of Dollhouse, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Firefly, seasons one through eight of House, literally every original Superman movie, The Princess Bride, The Usual Suspects, The X-Files, and other works. That’s the first day alone, and if your Joss Whedon loving heart doesn’t hurt enough, you’ll not want to hear what comes next. For the duration of this month we will see the disappearances of a few seasons of Wilfred, American Dad, and other shows as well.
Now what exactly are we getting in return for this? Starting on April 1, 2017 Netflix-goers will finally have access to the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Gremlins, Schindler’s List, Tropic Thunder, and many other titles of less renown. After that, you’ll start to see things like The BFG, Legends of Tomorrow Season Two, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and other shows popping up throughout the month. All in all, a few classic are not nearly enough to make up for losing cult classic shows and several hundred episodes of amazing content as well. Shame on you Netflix for deigning it high time to pull the rug out from under us.
My second point of order is also related to television and that typical industry as a whole, however it narrows the focus to one television show in particular- The Walking Dead. I’ve been a fan of the up and down times on both the show and in the comics for The Walking Dead, however something I’m not necessarily on board with is the span of this last season- particularly its second half which has been running for the duration of the beginning of 2017 and literally just wrapped up. Now’s the time when spoilers may fly into focus, so please for the love of all that you hold dear- avert your eyes!! That having been said, I thought that while this finale did tie up some of the plot points and hint at others in typical TWD cliff hanging fashion, it wasn’t much of a resounding finale at all and lacked gravitas.
Actually, I’ve noticed this same sort of decline predominately since season four ended but really for the last three seasons for sure. The first three seasons of TWD felt and looked and played out in amazing fashion, and yet since then everything has sort of gone on down the hill a bit. The quality is still there, as is the potential- things just seem to spend too much time getting where they’re going and not enough time doing what they do best. The comics are semi-guilty here as well, however it’s much easier to take your time to tell a story in a short written brief than across several arcs in a television show with limited run for a season.
Besides the season as a whole being mostly a disappointment, let’s talk about the finale specifically- or rather a few of the details regarding it. Okay, so we know Sasha was going to bite it- well and then quite possibly come back to bite as well. That was completely useless in terms of being a surprise death or gimmick or anything like that, as was the supposed revelation that Eugene is still rooting for Team Rick. Nothing we didn’t all really know there. But let’s talk about a few other things such as the fakeout deaths TWD is want to give us. Carl hasn’t been in any real danger since he lost an eye, Michonne is indestructible, and Rick is even more so. Nobody was in danger of anything more than bruised ego.
So as far as a lasting emphasis on finishing Negan off and fighting for those who’ve already been lost, the only real deaths of any consequence whatsoever to the Saviors have been the likes of Glenn and Abraham- RIP homies. Not that I want to see my favorite characters beaten and bruised and bashed in, but that’s kind of the way TWD and Game of Thrones do things. So…my message to AMC is that things need to take a retrospective look and then return to form- none of this diddling about or meddling in business that isn’t true to TWD.
Ah, now we’ve come to the third and final point of this blog post for the night- Mass Effect Andromeda. Mass Effect is not a bad series, even though there are plenty of people who would argue otherwise. Mass Effect 1 becomes a better and more appreciated game the more times I replay it. Mass Effect 2 is the highest point the series has ever seen and may be likely to ever see again. Mass Effect 3 took the elements of 2 and ran with them- stumbling in the final initial act and yet still surviving enough to leave a lasting impression on an entire generation of gamers. But now we come to Mass Effect Andromeda…
Andromeda is not a bad game- allow me to start with that first and foremost. It is indeed a flawed game and yet I am still hopeful that BioWare will do as BioWare does and support it in the months to come, eventually leading it to be more in line with what people expected in the first place. That is the truest reason why it should and will be regarded as a disappointment- not because it is a bad game by any stretch. We knew things were liable to fall down and fall apart without the charismatic leadership of Commander Shepard in the leading role, and that’s pretty much what happened. There are plenty of memorable side characters and you have as much freedom as ever to choose your own main path, and yet things just aren’t the same. I’m hardly petitioning for bringing Shepard back, but we need a repeat dose of that magic draught.
It is an experience that I must compare mostly to that of Mass Effect 1- something attempting to break new ground and ultimately being flawed and yet still successful. If this were the first game to release in the series, I have no doubt it would be received much the same way the first game was rather than with the negativity it has garnered thus far due to its technical liabilities. I believe most of the shift in focus from positive to negative views for the series have come in the aftermath of Mass Effect 3’s initial endings and people are for lack of a better word still salty about that. As such, they’re much more critical of BioWare and the Mass Effect series- in ways that we’ve seen with Inquisition after the lackluster options in Dragon Age II for example.
It’s nothing new for the industry or for any industry really, and yet it’s still a shame to see when such an ambitious if flawed project gets way more flak than even its disappointing status earns it. I’m not saying to go easy on voicing your criticism and concerns, yet I am recognizing that sometimes people say negative things for the sake of saying them- well deserved in this case or not. Now, I’m entirely more interested in hearing about some of your disappointments thus far this year- gaming related or otherwise. Feel free to comment as always.