Flame War: 2012's most controversial gaming news stories

Mass Effect 3's ending, Hitman nuns and more...

It's been a bit of a rocky year for the game's industry. Over the last 12 months, developers have been flamed, publishers condemned and fans have shaken their fists with both righteous - and misguided and stupid - ire.

It seemed that every other month kicked up a story that challenged the preconceptions of both industry stalwarts and gamers alike. As 2012 comes to a close, here are a few of its controversial highlights...

1. Mass Effect 3's less-than-wonderful ending


We love Mass Effect. You love Mass Effect. Everyone loves Mass Effect. In fact, it's not that much of a stretch to say that Mass Effect is one of the most beloved franchises on this generation of gaming consoles.

This may explain why some fans reacted so viscerally to what they deemed to be an ending that didn't live up to the gaming experience that preceded it. The lack of closure, plot contradictions - heck, the last cutscene that made absolutely no sense whatsoever - made a lot of players feel somewhat hostile towards BioWare's efforts.

To be frank, some players didn't like the ending. They didn't like it so much they started an online petition that raised $80,000 for charity. Devs were slagged, BioWare was flamed on twitter and in the end... BioWare caved, releasing an extended ending cut. And you know what? The new ending still didn't satisfy large sections of the ME3 audience.

2. Hitman Absolution's bondage nun beat down


Hitman Absolution had a couple of issues even before E3 was looming on the gaming calendar's horizon. Fans were antsy about the fact that Agent 47's latest outing looked more like some sort of TPS action kick than the open-ended stealth killbox of old. So imagine their horror when they saw Absolution's pre-E3 trailer, which showed 47 hammering the living tar out of a group of women dressed in black latex and habits.

Well, actually you don't need to; social networks and forums exploded with incredulous disgust and op-eds hoisted IO from the mast, accusing the developer of fetishising violence against women (writer Sarah Ditum expressed her view in a CVG feature).

IO apologized, but in many eyes the damage had been done, marking Hitman's 'bondage nuns' as one of this year's low-points in gaming.

3. Hitman Absolution's kill your mates FB app


You'd think after the 'bondage nuns' disaster that the PR wing of IO Interactive would have learned that denigrating and objectifying anyone on the basis of gender was a bad idea. And you'd be wrong, as was evidenced just the last month when a new Hitman campaign hit Facebook in which fans could put phony contracts out on their mates.

As part of the 'hit', fans could tag the target by picking from a list of insulting descriptions that included 'small tits' and 'muffin tops' for women and a 'small penis' and 'big gut' for men. Once again, forums and social networks exploded with incredulous disgust. Oh, Hitman Absolution, what are we to do with you?

4. Lara Croft's "you'll want to protect her" moment


Earlier this year, news emerged that Lara Croft was in for a rather tough time in the new Tomb Raider. Not only would she witness the death of her best friend, she'd be beaten, bruised and have to fend off an attempted rape from an attacker.

The reason for all this trauma? So the player would want to 'protect' her, according to Ron Rosenberg from Crystal Dynamics. Once again, the internet exploded and Crystal Dynamics moved to distance itself from Rosenberg's comments.

The studio issued a statement flatly denying the existence of the attempted rape scene, despite Rosenberg's references to it during an interview.

Studio head Darrell Gallagher said in a prepared statement: "We were not clear in a recent E3 press interview and things have been misunderstood. Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."

He added: "In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly," it said.

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