Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Demon Within by Dana Reed
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Young women are dying in very gruesome deaths in an apartment complex, and one of the tenants feels that she is somehow involved that because of her past she has made this monster come to hurt the women of her building. I really can't say too much more about this book without giving away too much of the plot.
This book was horrible. It was so bad that I had to find out what happened to the characters. The heroine annoyed me to no end, but I had to find out what was going to happen to her. It didn't help that 100 pages into the book I already knew who the killer was and why it was happening.
I had to read it for myself just to see if I was right. I will give Ms. Reed points for trying to make something new and interesting, but she failed to get me to care about the characters, and despite having a plot that could have been superb, it was weakly executed. She could have really had a winner with this one.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
|Yep, still awesome.|
10 days after playing Mass Effect, your girl finished Mass Effect 2 on Playstation 3. Thanksgiving holiday gaming win! Even though I was playing this game on both the computer and PS3, the holidays just made it really easy to finish it on my console than on the computer—even though I prefer playing it on the computer because I have more control. (I still can’t believe I am actually lauding a PC game over the console version.)
This game is still amazing. The characters and the story are still very immersive. I don’t even know what to say without giving it all away. Everything I said about the first game still pretty much applies to this game. I am still awed by how they made a great story that can fit a male or a female character without making the storyline too significantly different based on sex. I appreciate how much thought and effort they put into creating this world from the planets to the races to the history.
Anyhow, I’ll just touch on a few things I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about the game without turning into a fangirly mess. Besides, that's what Tumblr is for.
|Three snipers were too much awesome.|
Coming straight off Mass Effect, it took me a minute to get used to the new HUD. Targeting felt a little different, too, because it seems the crosshair is a little closer in this game than it was in the first one. Once I got over all that, I enjoyed the new powers they added to the classes with infiltrators, which is what I finished the game with, getting my favorite new power—tactical cloaking. Enemies still aren’t much of a hassle. But I started playing on Insanity after beating it, and that definitely changes everything.
I liked the idea of gaining your crew’s loyalty (and earning a reward for it) instead of them just automatically deciding you’re the best commander ever. Even former crewmembers’ loyalty has to be gained—not so much because they’re not loyal to you, but they’re not loyal to organization you’re now working for. And the loyalty missions really are so much fun—even if I did almost fail Thane’s because of the Techno Turian—and add another facet to many of your teammates. I loved the new casts of characters as well as old favorites like Garrus and Tali.
Speaking of relationships and loyalty, they allow you more leeway with learning about your “romantic interests” without ending up gridlocked in some romantic relationship because you were just being nice to them. And at least one character will acknowledge how awkward it is for Shepard to romance him because he didn’t really see her like that at first (but THE PRIIIIIZE). However, it still only happens around major missions and can feel a little disjointed from the main story, but at least, there are more major missions for it to develop around. It’s getting there, though, even if Femshep seems to prefer Jacob. You can hear it all in her purring voice she uses with him in just general conversation. I swear this isn't just headcanon.
|Renegade QTE. Headbutted this fool.|
Loved the new paragon/renegade QTE. Really, I liked how they cleaned up the paragon/renegade system overall, especially the renegade choices you make in the game. Renegade choices in the last game could come off a little silly to me, but they seem to have fixed that. And I liked how even some of your paragon choices might net you a few renegade points as well (and vice versa) making many actions more complex than just being “good” or “bad.” I don't know if it's completely realistic to think you'll go through this game without some renegade/paragon points
But the thing I loved the MOST about this game was the fact that so many things I did in the last game carried over into this game (at least on my PC save), even if I only heard about the results of a mission. I would bump into characters that I helped (or didn't help) in the last game. Nice touch to not have all my efforts be in vain, and it really made parts of the game seem vastly different.
There were other small things that I enjoyed about the game, but these are a few of the major things I enjoyed.
Now, just a few things I wasn’t thrilled with.
The Hammerhead—it almost made me miss the Mako. That is saying something since Mako was a thorn. My aiming was terrible with the Hammerhead. At least with Mako, even if I fall off the side of a cliff, I’m still pwning all day with that cannon and guns. Maybe I feel that way because I didn’t have many missions where I had to use the Hammerhead for extensive periods, and maybe I decided to be loyal to Mako. It was a bigger pain to navigate with it on the PC than on the PS3, though, so I will cut it some slack there. I think my experience with it was mostly tempered with how much I hated navigating it on the PC.
I didn’t care much for how they had everything labeled on the galaxy map because some of the labels actually covered the nebulas I was trying to find and had me going insane because I thought I didn’t have them. I wasn’t a big fan of the mission summary after each mission either. Really, I don’t need a breakdown of what was accomplished in the mission. That disrupts the feel of the game for me.
I miss infinite ammo and auto-cover. I used to love running into a room with my soldier in the last game and going crazy. My weapon would overheat, and I’d just cycle to the next one and keep at it like a boss. With auto-cover, I know some people had issues with this, but I liked that my character would take cover automatically when her weapon was drawn.
|Joker Rage Face!|
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
First, I have something to say. I think Mass Effect made me a better PC gamer. No bullshit. I’ve already explained that I am not much of a PC gamer. Never have been, mainly because of the controls. I found I had little patience for learning what keys do what on a keyboard and remembering them. I do play a couple of MMOs, but the controls are so dummy-proof that there’s no way I can mess that up.
When I first started this game with my Adept, I was a little shaky with the controls, which resulted in a few unfortunate—yet hilarious—deaths, but I stuck with it because I was enjoying the game. (Or it could’ve been the trademark Aries stubbornness coming out.) Then, I created a Soldier while playing my Adept and became really comfortable with the controls. By the time I piddled around with an Infiltrator and a Vanguard, I was whizzing through missions that took me some time to complete as my Adept (and even my Soldier).
This game was much more impressive than I thought it would be. Sure, friends told me it was a great action game with a solid storyline, but I still held off.
Once I got into this game, I was amazed at how rich this universe was. In some ways, you’re sort of thrown into the story. The world has an established feel to it, if that makes sense. Rather than there being a lot of time introducing you to everything cool and exciting in the world or starting you off early in Shepard’s career, you’re immersed in the world and learn about it more as you advance through the game until you feel like you’re really a denizen of this world.
|The Eye of Sauron... er.. the beacon.|
You do have a codex that provides you information about the races, wars, and various other things, though, that don’t necessarily affect the main story. I read it frequently in the beginning, but after a while, I didn’t really need it to learn most things because I often found these things out through conversation with characters in the game. I love exploring worlds completely, so I talk to whoever I can and do whatever I can. Speaking of conversations, every line in this game had spoken dialogue, even the conversations you would overhear was all voiced (and nicely so). Character interaction in this game was excellent. I think I played the game more for the interactions than the shoot ‘em up part.
The story was amazing and executed with such craft that, when I neared the end, I didn’t want this game to end. I’d really come love and hate many of the characters, becoming more emotionally attached than I intended. You can tell they really spent time and effort creating this world, these characters, and this story.
One of the things that I liked about the story is that it presented you with plenty of complex moral choices to make, even if you’re taking the paragon path. There’s many moments in the game that are blurred between black and white, and you just have to go with the decision that you feel is best (or the decision you feel your character would make). Do you save the hostages or do you go after the warlord? Do you intimidate/charm this person to end a situation without violence?
|I'm being inspirational here.|
There was also plenty of action to keep my brawler side happy, as well. I didn’t find many of the enemies challenging once I got the hang of the game and the controls, especially late in the game when I was nigh unstoppable and could run into a room with my soldier and just start taking out everything standing. (Okay, a few enemies can STILL be a pain in the ass late in the game like the Geth Colossi, and I really hated the Husks, too.)
Where it lacked in difficulty, they made up for it by having plenty for me to shoot. I never thought it’d be so satisfying to shoot a bunch of robots for more than half the game. I’m sure once I play the game again on a harder mode I won’t say they’re easy again, though.
Another thing I liked is having the option to play as a woman. I appreciate that they wrote the story in a way that works equally as well for a female character as it does a male character. They did nothing to diminish the female Shepard’s role unlike some other games who add a lot of unnecessary, mindless crap to a female’s story. Sure, there are a few areas in the game where a character you interact with will call you a beautiful woman or be a complete pig (and maybe the same holds true for the male character), but there’s usually plenty of room there to put them in their place. Other than that, the story stays the same no matter if your flavor is male or female.
There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this game. The two major things that bothered me most were the in-game romance and driving the Mako.
|Two things I hate together!|
I’ve already ranted about Mako, but in a nutshell, I didn’t appreciate the controls on it at all. While it was needed to cover long distances and to protect me from hazardous atmospheres, it was the most cumbersome experience that I have ever had with a game’s vehicle. You only have two options when driving Mako. You either play a game of stop-and-go in order to keep the vehicle in control, or you decide to not give one single damn and drive it wide open.
I did a little of both. Mako has a few redeeming qualities, though. The weapons on it are useful, especially the cannon against Geth Armature, Geth Colossi, and turrets. It also has a gun you can utilize while waiting for the cannon to cool down. It’s also convenient to use as something to hide behind when picking off the enemies you’ve weakened. (You only get half of your XP for killing something while in Mako, but you can use it to soften up foot soldiers with the guns and then get out the tank and finish them off.)
My second issue? The romance. This was probably one of my bigger peeves than Mako. Okay, let me explain. I don’t have anything against the fact that there’s “romance” in this game at all, but it seemed somewhat forced on me. If I showed any interest in the two love prospects I’m allowed in this game (Kaidan or Liara for Femshep), then my actions were misconstrued as romantic interest. I just wanted to get to know my crew, and in the case of Liara, also learn about different cultures.
I asked all my crewmembers about their background and life because the stories are great, but it just seemed extra “attentiveness” was tacked on to my questions and responses toward my love interests, and there was no real way to get around it without being a total bitch to them. I wish that had been treated more as a side mission—like maybe throw in some responses that hinted at something “more” and inquisitive responses that were neutral.
|There was no "Pump yo' breaks, homeboy..." option.|
Also, I didn’t like how this “love” had to develop around the major missions. The main storyline isn’t that long in this game, and you’re only allowed to establish your relationship after each major mission. So, if you’re like me and do all the side missions, you’re left with big gaps where you don’t talk to your love at all—at least not about romance, anyway. This is another reason that I think it could be treated like a side mission. It would give those who want the romance some time to flesh this out and make it mean something. This game does such a wonderful job on giving this story, this universe, so much weight, yet the romance lacks terribly—and can come off, as is my case, inconvenient.
However, those issues weren’t enough to deter me from the game. Overall, this was an enjoyable game, and I’m glad that I decided to finally give this a play. And yes, I’ve already started on Mass Effect 2.