Waiting In Line For Inferior Product

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  • Mass Effect 2 PS3Lamenting Mass Effect 2 for PS3

    I waited in line to buy Mass Effect 2. I never wait in line for games, never bother getting up at midnight and camping outside a videogame store to get home at 1 a.m. and fall asleep for another day of work. It makes no sense, really, makes less sense than weight loss diet based around beer and doughnuts.

    But I actually trotted happily to my car on that January night, braved the cold (which if you know me you’ll know I hate), and stood outside my local Gamestop with some guys who were doing their Commander Shepard impressions and patiently waited for Mass Effect 2.

    And I’ve now spent exactly 144 hours kicking myself – or rather wishing I could kick myself, since the idea of kicking myself makes even less sense than the thought of waiting in line for Mass Effect 2.

    Why? Because I just attended a Sony PlayStation 3 event in Manhattan, and the Mass Effect 2 that’s going to hit the PS3 in 2011 blows the original Mass Effect 2 – the one I WAITED IN LINE FOR – completely out of the water. 

    It’s running on an updated graphics engine and features better shading and lighting effects. It seems faster and looks better. It includes every single update and DLC made for the original Mass Effect 2 (the ones us poor saps who waited in line shelled out XBox points for), and it’ll have a full-motion crash-me-through-the-original-Mass-Effect comic that gives users six key in-comic decisions to make to influence the course of the second game.

    Don’t get me wrong, all of this is great. Sad thing is, it renders a great game, a game that many people waited in line for, completely irrelevant. Even sadder, videogame companies do this to us on a routine basis.

    It’s disturbing the lengths some companies go through to make a little cash. Flash back a console generation, and you’ll see people shelling out cash for Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty in 2001, then seeing a beefier version, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, hitting stores two years later. I’ve bought the entire series of Robotech (the greatest anime series ever, by the way) three times – once on separate DVDs, once in a boxed set, and then two years ago in a “digitally remastered” boxed set.

    And as much as I wanted to pick up the newest edition of Avatar (you know, the one with eight hours of content that’s on the DVD/BluRay combo pack I bought TWO MONTHS AGO), I put it back down, knowing that there’ll be bigger badder super-duper-boxed set by, oh, February. It’ll be the boxed set to end all boxed sets. At least until the “one-year anniversary special edition.”

    Can they at least gives something to all the Mass Effect 2 fans who already played the game on XBox 360? You know, a refund on downloadable content? Some new, exclusive content? A hug? Really, I’m not counting on it. Fact is, all those people already paid, big wig execs already pocketed fat bonus checks, and they’ve moved on. To the PlayStation 3 audience that hasn’t paid. Yet.

    I get why companies do it. There are dwindling videogame revenues brought on by heightened used game sales, internet piracy, and increasingly popular iPad and iPhone games. Some franchises can release a game a year – think sports games and Call of Duty – but other franchises invariably see their profits fade over time.

    A slightly beefier re-release refreshes those profits. In this case, it does even better, opening a tremendous game in Mass Effect 2 to an audience that was once never able to play it.

    It’s just a shame that it may make another audience – those loyal folks who played through the first Mass Effect and loved it so much that they stood out on a freezing cold midnight evening to get the second game – feel so left out in the cold.

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