Mass Effect Reflections

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*This post has a pretty major Mass Effect spoiler.*

The first BioWare game that I played was Knights of the Old Republic. I remember my friend bringing his Xbox over to my place and saying that this game came with his console and it really wasn't quite his cup o tea. We played Halo for a bit until I finally talked him into letting us pop in this Star Wars game. We played it for three hours straight that night and had a lot of fun. I ended up beating the game on his console, playing it on the weekends for around a month. To this day KotOR is one of the best games I've ever played.

I'm sure you can understand how excited I was when I first heard that BioWare was making a new sci-fi RPG set in an all new universe. Not only that, but shooter elements as well? Sign me up! I read through the prequel book and pre ordered the game months in advance. When I finally got my hands on the game I ended up playing through the main campaign in one night, playing it for around twelve hours straight.

I now have played through the campaign twice and have also gone through all of the extras. I have visited every planet, found all of the minerals and artifacts and killed countless amounts of baddies. I've clocked over thirty hours with the game and plan on playing it through again differently than I have the past two times.

It can be quite easy to nitpick at certain faults that Mass Effect has. When going through reviews, it's not hard to come by one that point out how horrible the driving mechanics can be in it with the Mako or how clunky the menu system is. Instead of focusing my attention on these sorts of things, I want to point out things that Mass Effect did right and what I would like to see more often in similar story driven games.

The Shepard that I made is a Vanguard, which means he can use both biotics and weaponry, with a colonial background and is an all around badass. As soon as my character stepped foot in Mass Effect, he already had made an impact on the society. He was a known entity and that is brought up in dialogues throughout the game.

The way in which these dialogues are presented is the most distinguishable feature. The over the shoulder view for conversation works very well and gives it a cinematic feel. Having the Shepard I made making responses and actually talking to others adds a great deal to the game, making the character created actually seem apart of the game world instead of just an observer. Mass Effect does a great job making the game feel like a movie experience.

The dialogue trees in the game are extremely well made. To do a paragon response is up right, a renegade response is down left, and an in between response is left. There's also parts where charm or intimidate can be used, when these are available they are up left and down left respectively. I've heard both positive and negative about this, but I think it was an excellent choice. This assures that my badass Shepard can continue to be a badass.

*This is your last warning. Entering spoiler territory.*

The charm and intimidate talents I never thought much of until my second play through when I starting using intimidate whenever it was available. During my first play through Wrex starts going berserk when it is decided that a potential cure for the Krogan is going to be destroyed, causing Wrex to pull his gun on Shepard. Shepard attempts to talk it out with Wrex but, in this instance, Ashley steps in and kills Wrex. I was in shock when I played it for the first time and I was extremely pissed that Ashley would do such a thing, even though I did end up getting Shepard to do a little something with her later on in the game to unlock an achievement. During the second time around there was a point during this heated, guns drawn conversation between Wrex and Shepard that I was able to use intimidate and Wrex ended up backing down. I didn't expect it at all and was pleased to find out that I could indeed have Wrex straight through until the end of the game.

Mass Effect is an extremely enjoyable and has some great moments that could be used in other similar styled games. The visual style used in Mass Effect is excellent, having a well developed system for making conversations and more appealing visuals. Some of the big choices that face Shepard can really change key points in the plot. Mass Effect is an excellent RPG and has some excellent elements in it should become more prominent in this style of games.

Hitman: The Movie

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I just got back from seeing the Hitman movie and I actually really enjoyed it. I was going in with fairly low expectationsso when it turned out to be an alright flick, I was pleased.

For those thinking that the Hitman movie has nothing to do with the Hitman games, you're bothright and wrong. There are a few parts in the movie that are totally fan service and only those who have played the games will really enjoy, such as having a duck in a tub in one scene. Other parts most certainly don't feel at all like Hitman, such as some crazy gun battles and some of the poorer bits of dialogue.My biggest beef with this movie is that he has his blood red tie outfit on most of the film, only actually changing his garb to blend in with the crowd twice. I would have thought more advantage would have been taken with this, since it really could have added a whole lot more to the movie and reallyis a defining gameplay characteristic of the Hitman series.

For a video game based movie, I'm satisfied. If I had of gone into the movie never having played the video game I probably wouldn't have been quite so happy. It was a good flick, but definitely not one to go out of your way to see.

Alittle disclaimer:this movie is rated R as it has blood, violence, language and nudity. Viewer discretion is advised!

Elevator Music

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In the past week I have purchased two games that I have enjoyed a considerable amount, Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect. Both of these games have a very cinematic style to the stories that they present.

Over the weekend I started and finished the campaign mode of Call of Duty 4. Even though the single player was relatively short in this game, I found it to be far more compelling and exciting than the average shooter. The story flowed very well and there were some breathtaking missions in the game. Even the standard going from one side of the map to the other and then back again style was handled extremely well, mixing things up considerably along the way to keep them fun. The only thing that I found to be a bit annoying was how waves of enemies would just keep on coming and coming, lasting for a considerable amount of time before being able to move on. Other than this little quirk, the campaign mode of this game was extremely well made

I had been looking forward to Mass Effect for a long time, counting down the days until its release. I probably haven't binged a game this much since I stopped playing World of Warcraft. When I brought it home yesterday I sat down and played it for just over twelve hours, which was a complete run through of the main storyline. I definitely plan on playing through the game again so that I can go about things differently which a different character type and different motives. The game is stunning, the graphics are sharp and I enjoyed it the entire time. The Mako driving in the game was definitely not the best part of the game and it felt like a child took the steering wheel from time to time.

And the Citadel in Mass Effect has great elevator music. Yep.

Rocket Racing

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University has been crazy busy this past week and I finally had a night off to be able to kick back and do whatever. I played a little bit of Skate but the lag online can be quite frustrating. So, I decided to pop in Halo 3 and do some online action and that's when I came across Rocket Racing.

Rocket Racing could very well be the best thing I've played in Halo. There are 4 teams of two and one player on each team is a VIP. The other teammate is the driver, driving the VIP to different destination points on the map in a mongoose. Once the destination has been hit, the destination will be moved and everyone races to the next one. And to top that all off: Rocketlaunchers only for weapons.

I played this social mode game for a few hours andmet a lot of cool, and not so cool, people. In the end I had a blast playing Halo 3 rocket racing and will probably end up playing it again and again.

Caution: Guitar Hero May Cause Hand, Arm and Brain Pain

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I broke open my copy of Guitar Hero III for the PS2 and decided to get going on unlocking the full set list. My tradition is to spend a couple of days completing all the songs on career mode so that theyare unlocked for multiplayer fun since it is a fantastic party game. I went to work, finding the first 30 or so songs to be pretty much a breeze on hard difficulty. I had some trouble with one of the battles, but had no problem on second attempt. Things kind of went downhill from there.

The next few songs were difficult. The Slipknot and Queens of the Stone Age songs gave me some problems but after working them in practice mode and playing them a few times I was able to complete them. Then came the lastfour... I started in on Raining Blood by Slayer and have not been able to get very far in it. Around aminuteof the way into the song it just goes into these crazy scales and my fingers can quite go that fast. I'll give my fingers and armsa rest tonight and get back at it tomorrow.

From what I'veplayed thus far, the game is really solid. The setlist is by far the best of the Guitar Hero franchise. Having original songs instead of covers for most of the tracks really goes a long way. They also put in a lot more places to use hammer-onsand make them much easier to pick out on the screen. And finally, the artists are listed with the songs in the menu!

After not touching my PS2 in ages and playing Xbox 360 a considerable amount, going back is horrible. The animation are choppy in places(the drummer in particular!)and the character models really show their age.The notes can sometimesbe hard to see in standard definition, especially when doing the duels in single player orplaying multiplayer. It really makes mewonder howeasily Rock Band will play on the PS2,having3 boards and the lyrics all on the same screen.

Guitar Hero III does pretty well exactly what GHII and GHI did and does not veer too far from the formula. The duels are a nice touch, though is does feel odd playing against an AI guitar player. The game has ramped up in difficulty and that does make it less accessable to new players. My major beef with the game though is that I have to play through co-op career in order to unlock some of the songs, such as Suck My Kiss by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Eventually, I'm sure a code will leak to be able to unlock all fo the songs from the start, but until then I'm stuck without some songs.

So that's the big game recently. Other than that I've been playing a ton of Puzzle Quest, Skate, NHL 08 and Halo 3. I'm level 38 in Puzzle Quest right now and am fairly far along with the main storyline. I've been having troubles finishing that game since it is pretty well like playing a game like Bejeweled over and over and over again. Skate has been fantastic, NHL 08 great as always, and Halo 3: simplyamazing.

There's so many good games coming out in the next month as well, so I'm not sure how I'm going to haveenough time to balance all these games,uni, and general living. Big games I'm looking forward toare Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Gears of War (PC), and Mass Effect. Games I'm still on the fringe about are Hellgate: London, Rock Band, and Assassin's Creed. I'm going to try out the demo for Hellgate and see how I feel about it after playing that. The fee structure used for this "MMORPG" is also of concern. Rock band isjust too expensive and I don't think I have enough room to be able to fit a drum set in my current place. Assassin's Creed has had some issues that I've seen, such as quirky AI, pushing people even though they're not close by, and a poor frame rate in areas. I'm definitely going to wait to see whatthe reviewsgive it before I dive into a haypile for that game.

First Impressions: Bioshock & Stranglehold Demos, Carcassonne, and Hexic 2

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Lots of new games I've played snipits of. Let's go through the rundown:

The Bioshock demo was great and had me hooked from the beginning. I played through the full demo and loved it. It's interesting, because I did not really find it to be fun so much as havejust wondering what would happen next. The game is very immersive and the graphics are stellar. The audioissome ofthe best I've ever heard in a game. I was not really planning on buying the game until I played the demo, and now I definitely want it.

Stranglehold was odd at first. After playing through thefull demo, I found it to bea great concept that felt a littleodd. It took me awhile to get my head around just being able toslide along things, but it was pretty fun once I got the hang of it. The "tequila time" effect was alright, though I found it would automatically jump in and out of it a little too much and took away from the experience. The demo level was very linear and not being able to open doors or climb over fences seemed a little odd. Being able to shoot up prettywell anything andeverything was absolutely fantastic, but why the hell were there propane tanks sitting everywhere? Seemed crazy. The game looks like it would be good for a rental.

I purchased and played through a few rounds of Carcassonne while waiting for Hexic 2 to come on XBLA. I had played the board game before and it was pretty well perfect to that. Having the computer count up the points at the end is great though, since thatusually tookawhile in a real game! The graphics were crisp, but I found the music fairly cheezy. I'm enjoying it and am sure I will for awhile to come.

It was fairly late by the time Hexic 2 came out and I was getting tired, but I still was able to play through a game of battle and also a game of marathon. I even held 7th spot overall on the leaderboard for a few minutes on marathon (out of maybe 16 or so users at the time). The game itself seems so much different than the original Hexic, but still has many of the same elements. In some ways, the new graphics almost make the game harder to play, but I still found it fun. The points also seems like they will be considerably easier to get this time around. I'm looking forward to playing more of that as well!

New Games, Broken Discs and Being Casual

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On the weekend I picked up a few 'new' games. I picked up Halo, Halo 2 for Xbox and Hitman: Blood Money for Xbox 360. I've played each of these games a little bit and have enjoyed them. Playing Halo 2 rumble pit matches online is pretty fun, but there are definitely some amazing & dumbass players online. All in all it was a fairly good time. Hitman: Blood Moneyhas been pretty fun as well, but trying to play stealthily is quite difficult. I find myself wanting to pull a page out of Tom's "how not to play hitman" series and just blast everything. That game is pretty solid though.

Onto not so solid games, Forza 2. Ok, the game itself is solid, but the physical disc isn't so much. The inner ring on my disc has physically started cracking, so I'm not planning on placing it back into my 360. I noticed it start a week or so ago and it has been getting worse. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to buy the game again in order to play it. This sucks, but Forza 2 is just too good to let go of. I'll try to get some pictures of the disc so you too can feel my pain.

I started up my WoW account again, but I only plan on being casual at it. No raiding, no crazy instances. Mainly will be playing to chat with people I don't chat with normally and some PVP. I've been enjoying it for the few days I've had it, but I'm not sure how long it will last. We'll see what happens.

On a sidenote, I've been reading and am almost done the Mass Effect novel called Revelations. I'll throw up a review of it in my blog once I finish it.

Epic's running out of character models

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Congratulations to Baird for making the cover of Unreal Tournament III! The models aren't exactly the same by any means, but it definitely has almost the exact same art direction. The elevation on the boots, the goggles, the gear in general.

Baird

What do you think?

Maybe it's just not worth the points...

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Is it really worth my time to go through a game when I'm not really enjoying it just for the points? This is what I'm thinking as I stare at the frozen King Kong game in my 360. I've played through probably around a third of the game, gotten around 200 points and have found it to be alright. The graphics aren't all that amazing on it and the gameplay is pretty repetative. Sure, I'll have more points if I spend a few more hours in the game, but I could be enjoying myself more by playing Forza 2 and getting further into career mode...

I've already passed my real life friends point scores and they are not interesting in trying to get anymore than what they already have. Most of the others on my friendslist who are into points have around twenty thousand or more, so that would take awhile until I would even come close to what they're at. In the endthere's nothing really motivating me anymore to play through games I'm not interested in just to get the points. Instead of trying just to geta whole bunch of points, I'll most likely focus on getting all of the points out of games I own and enjoy.

I say this all now and you'll probably find me online playing King Kong in a couple of hours. I'm all talk.

On a sidenote: Gamespot needs to fix the whole missing spaces glitch in posts. There were around a dozen missing spaces when I posted this.

Pre Orders & Rentals

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Pre Orders:
Mass Effect, Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, NHL 08

I think all of these pre orders are pretty self explanatory!

Rentals (AKA: Points!):
King Kong, MLB 2k6

I've already gotten 700 of the 1000 points in MLB and have started in on King Kong. I should hopefully be able to get the full thousand out of both of them before I have to return them in a week!