Replay: Mass Effect

Opinion, Video Games

By: William Chandler

232274-944902_99714_frontI’ve been meaning to replay the original Mass Effect for quite some time now. It stands as not only my favorite of the first two Mass Effect games but rounds out the holy trinity of Bioware games that is also comprised of KOTOR and Jade Empire. If I took the time to make a concrete top ten list of my favorite games, it would likely hold a pretty high spot. My love for the Mass Effect series is also tinged with regret. I’ve never actually even played Mass Effect 3 due to a lost save file that I carried through the first two games and a lack of motivation to start anew thanks to the quite controversial reception of the third game. After a nasty relapse and subsequent rage quit of my horrible addiction to ranked League of Legends, I decided to begin a full series play through in order to finally wrap things up for both Commander Shepard and myself.

Frankly, just thinking about how long it has been since the first Mass Effect came out makes me physically ill. It was nearly nine years ago and I was twelve years old. I did at least two full play throughs of the game in the week after its release, one renegade and one paragon, and I would later take my paragon file into Mass Effect 2. After which I wouldn’t ever play a Mass Effect game again. Well, until now that is.

For some reason the first things I thought of while installing Mass Effect onto my PC were the damned elevators. The ones on the ice planet of Noveria to be precise. I remembered their strange mosaic-like frosted glass windows that made them feel like they doubled as tacky bathrooms. I also remembered just how hated the elevators actually were at the time of the game’s release in 2007. The elevators served as some fairly lengthy and far too frequent loading screen cover ups which, if player reaction was anything to go by, was almost a worse idea than just having some long as shit loading bars. Back then I didn’t really mind them. Boy, was I tolerant. In the year of our Lord 2016, those things are actually the devil. They kill pacing and the frequent comrade conversations that I remembered from before actually are not all that frequent. I think I heard Garrus and Wrex (because those are the only two companions I ever use in ME1) bicker one time in my full 25-ish hours with the game.

Upon reaching the menu screen I felt some deep nostalgia from the music. I remembered it being great but, man, is it actually incredible. Honestly, the entire soundtrack is just aces. It’s one of the things from Mass Effect 1 that has held up the best. It’s highly electronic, of course, but it is sparse and tasteful enough that it never overstays its welcome and the incredible orchestral accompaniments are saved for some of the most memorable sections of the game. Outside of the soundtrack, however, the audio is surprisingly lackluster. Ambient audio is either barely acceptable or entirely not there and just about anything other than the bass filled gunshots are pretty bare. I think of my frequent MAKO drives along the surface of the empty side-planets and can really only call to mind the faint whirring of the MAKOs engines, another decidedly passable effect. At some point I just wound up turning on a podcast to fill in the silence.

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The Witcher 3 and open world storytelling

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

(Light spoilers from the first ~4 hours ahead)

Throughout my nearly 100 hour playthrough of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I couldn’t help but constantly recognize ways in which the game continued to make the story of the main quest feel compelling. A surefire way to break the immersion, sure, but it felt like something truly worthy of recognition. After all, often my least favorite parts of open world RPGs are the main story, yet The Witcher 3 manages to make its main questline feel important and consistently interesting despite the dozens of hours of other content also vying for the attention of the player. This is, of course, a natural extension of the game being all around really damned good, but there’s definitely more to it than this.

It certainly helps that the main objective at any point in the game can be boiled down to a single line without feeling meaningless. It starts off as “Find Yennefer.” It’s pretty clear from the game’s opening moments that Yennefer is a person of great importance to Geralt and that their relationship extends beyond one of mere intimacy, especially since his dream initially depicts a fairly simple and relatively mundane version of their lives together. A lazy and beautiful morning at Kaer Morhen with some of the people Geralt cares for most. Geralt the character clearly feels compelled to find Yennefer but why would the player controlling Geralt feel the same?

The dream continues on to depict his relationship with Ciri, a young girl who takes the role of his protégé but perhaps somewhat of a daughter figure as well considering their apparent closeness. Everything then goes quickly into nightmare territory with Kaer Morhen coming under siege by a force of overwhelming power and Ciri being attacked directly.

While those with knowledge of the past games, or perhaps even the books, will recognize all of the shit that Geralt and Yennefer have actually gone through together, these details are unnecessary thanks to the game’s presentation of the dream and Geralt’s brief discussion with Vesemir afterwards, should the player choose to let Geralt open up about it. Geralt even states that he dreamt of he and Yen together at Kaer Morhen despite the fact that she had never even actually been there, making the beginning clearly idealized. In this conversation it also becomes readily apparent that Geralt is worried by the dream although fails to go into much detail about why. One thing is certain though. It seems as though Yennefer is in danger and that danger may extend to Ciri as well.

Do you like mixing your console peasantry with PC gaming glory? Do I have great news for you

News, Video Games

By William Chandler

If you lack the sophistication or hand eye coordination to use mouse and keyboard properly then perhaps you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft have come through with a solution to ease your pain. The fabulously constructed Xbox One controllers may now be connected via USB to your PC and will work as long as these drivers are installed.

As someone who occasionally enjoys seeing how the other half lives, this is great news.

MY ADVENTURES IN CLICKING: THE BOMBSHELL WEBSITE

News, Opinion, Video Games

by Bipol Alam

They did it.  Everything I love in the world encapsulated on one page.  Is it real?

Yes it is.

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As #Xhristian pointed out, The Division (Tom Clancy Dystopia Training Simulator) has been pushed back to Q? 2015.  I fear that by the time of its release, nuclear war will have already happened, and the training manual will be of no use to us anymore.  However, do not fret my fellow armchair-mad-max-wannabes for our savior has come, and her name is SHELLY “BOMBSHELL” HARRISON.

The Gods at 3D Realms have crafted the perfect sexy lady badass who happens to be equipped with all the knowledge we’ll need to survive Fallout 4.   Unlike the boys at The Division, (who apparently want us to die in 2015), 3D Realms has PROMISED a ROCK-SOLID release date of Q1 2015.

I know what you’re wondering – Bipol, how did you get all this information?  Well, let’s just say that I’ve been designated a prophet by our Lords in 3D Heaven, for they have given me our bible :  http://bombshellgame.com

With a click you’ll be baptized in the glory of HARD ROCK MUSIC and EDGY STEEL INDUSTRIAL TYPOGRAPHY.  If this doesn’t evoke the lame out of you, scroll down.  In the words of our savior, Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison: “PREPARE YOUR FACE”.

Is that a video in the center of your screen?  Fuck yeah it is.  If you can bear stopping the HARD ROCK MUSIC for the 3 minutes and 27 seconds then go for the click, I sure as hell couldn’t.  If someone in the comments could tell me what happens in that video, I’d appreciate it.

EDIT: Alright, I decided that my journalistic integrity would be tarnished if I didn’t watch the video.  Unfortunately they opted for some weird deus ex sci-fi kind of beep boop stuff.  Not my cup of Daniels Jackson.

WAIT – THIS IS A VIDEO GAME?  A VIDEO GAME ACTION RPG FEATURING “INTENSE STORYTELLING ACTION”?!  HOW DID THEY KNOW?

This “brilliantly brutal” top-down RPG X-core shooter is coming soon to your PC or PS4.  You should be excited.