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Torchlight 2 Review

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I have Mixed opinions on this game and I'm sure that is clear in the review. Anyway, read it and rate it up if you like it:

In what I'm sure was a calculated effort, Runic Games played things very safe in making this game. Torchlight 2 is likely the least innovative sequel I've ever played. There is nothing really new, but everything that was in the original is back in spades. For people who can't get enough loot and level, there will be plenty to enjoy. For people who have not historically enjoyed the Torchlight or Diablo, there really isn't any effort to draw you in.

For me, I have enjoyed the game so far. The near constant leveling and loot collecting are fun. I find the game to be very easy on the normal mode, being able to just hold right mouse on many bosses to defeat them. However, trying the harder difficulties, I found the game to be annoying as enemies health get bigger and they take longer to kill, but they do not require any additional strategy (i.e. I used the same attacks to kill them). If I am mentally fatigued from a stressful day, the simplicity of advancing in Torchlight 2 can be cathartic. In my mind, the game fails to be anything more though. All the thinking is in which loot to wear and skills to use, but once you're set up, the actual gameplay is stupidly simple and the story is a throw-away.

In summary, Torchlight 2 is a known quantity. Since there is nothing really new or drastically different, it is near impossible that Runic will offend any of the series fans. On the other hand, it also is impossible that this game will impress anyone who cared less for Torchlight/Diablo/etc. Torchlight 2 is not ambitious, innovative, or inspiring. It is however, consistent, reliable, and safe. It it not the type of game for a hot fling, but one many people could happily be married to for quite a long time. Your enjoyment will vary based on which type of game you're looking for.

Link for Rating.

Spelunky

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I'm having a lot of trouble deciding wether I love or hate this game. Spelunky was released for the XBLA on July 4th and I downloaded it last weekend and have spent a good amount of time playing it. The problem I have is that the game is VERY HARD. Sometimes it is to the point of being incredibly annoying.

Let me explain. The dungeons in Spelunky are random, so sometimes you have a comparatively easy time progressing. However, sometimes, it really feels like the game decided to cheat you. You might come through a door to be instantly exposed to a trap or shops will be inaccessible when they finally spawn. Although the game does get easier as you learn it secrets, it is heartbreaking to be on a good run and have it ruined by an overly-difficult random happening.

The upside to this is that every accomplishment you make feels earned. I've only made it to the 3rd level a couple times, there are four plus at least 3 secret levels, but I've had fun. Since the levels are random, there seems to be infinite replay value, if you enjoy it. I guess the secret to the game is to take it lightly. If you're too serious about it you will end up throwing the controller.

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut

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It isn't out yet for my PC version, but Xbox 360 players have posted videos of the new extended endings. The new options don't change the endings, but they do show you the difference between your choices and how it changes the galaxy. I know that at this point, many people will still find reason to dislike it, but if these were the original endings, I would have been happy with it. Even though the only difference might be a few still images, I can't wait to see the true ending for my own game. I think I may also be convinced to play through the whole thing again. Am I convinced enough to buy the next Bioware game? ... maybe... It is Dragon Age 3, so they have a lot more to fix (or unfix) there. We'll see.

Torchlight for PC, why its terrible.

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Previously in my gaming cycle, I bought Torchlight on XBLA and loved it. It was somewhat brainless and you eventually became so overpowered you could walk through enemies with only an occasional button tap. That, my friends, is why I loved it. So, Torchlight 2 is PC only... well, not a problem for me, I love PC games! Right?

When you preorder Torchlight 2 through Steam, you get a free copy of the original to play. Great! Except, to do almost everything in the game you left click. Its like the game was made to be played with a single button... and its terrible! GOD IT IS SO AWFUL! For example, I find a better armor so I double click it and it just stays there. If I want to use it I have to left click to select, move to the appropriate inventory slot... then, left click again, then move the cursor back to my inventory... and left click again! FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!! So, now I am regretting my purchase. I am wondering if I can get a refund, honestly. There is a reason this control scheme died in the 90s.

The Old Republic Free Weekend.

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Up to yesterday I was still slightly tempted to buy The Old Republic. There is a free weekend that started yesterday and I managed to both download the game and sink enough time into the game to escape the starting area and reach level 10 as a Bounty Hunter. Now, I never liked MMOs, but I was curious about the game, because it is Bioware. So anyway, I was hoping to be able to enjoy this game for the story. While that is there, I can't say I really like the game.

Now, the game does seem to have tons of story, and some of it I've liked... I just don't like it enough. As a bounty hunter, its all well and good, I can roleplay a mercenary, and thats all I wanted to do. What annoys me is that I have this companion forced on me, who expects me to want revenge for the death of two guys that I just met and only talked to twice. I hate her and hope she dies. That said, I still mostly like how they handled the story and I think the voice acting adds a lot.

What I can't really tolerate is all the stupid MMO conventions. First off, the game (to this point) doesn't need to have other players in it. I often find myself running through huge empty areas, and many times when I do find people they're killing my quest enemies preventing be from completing them. That is of course in addition to the time it takes to load the freakin' game. The combat is terrible. Enemies respawn and aggro on you slowing you down. It is worse than random encounters and it is all about padding the playtime.

So, I think I might be done playing the game. Many of the quest still feel like fetch quest and I only kind of like the story. Its not worth all the wasted time spent walking around in these empty areas. I would like to play the game with a friend, but I don't think it is worth $50-$60, plus monthly fees, each. I think the game would have been better if it wasn't an MMO at all.

Mass Effect 3: why does the ending s.ucks

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Having finished my Mass Effect 3 playthrough at 4am this morning, I'm left wondering, "WTF happened?". The ending, regardless of your efforts in any of the three games, just fades out with noinformation as to what happened to your team, the people you've met, or the galaxy.You would think that this was the time to show how all of your decisions mattered... well... theydon't. None of your decisions matter in the slightest.Way to ruinwhat would have otherwise been a perfect experience. Bioware you are dumb.

ME2: The Characters, Reviewed. Part 3

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Mass Effect 2 has a lot of characters. This is part three.

Tali'Zorah Vas Normandy

Tali is the second returning characters and, like the first, she is far more compelling than many of the new inductees. Although you meet up with tali on the first stage, you don't get her to join until later. Thankfully when you do she has a very compelling mission. Then she has an even more enjoyable loyalty mission. Basically she is one of your most reliable, supportive, and intelligent crew members. She is also a romance option, however, I play female and she's not interested. For me, that is best because I think it is better to just stay friends. When it comes to combat, she's fantastic. Her shield drain ability is perticularly fun. In my opinion she is the best companion in the game.

Grade A+

Legion

The problem with Legion is that you do not get him until the very last minute in the game. This feels to me like a last minute design change and I do not think it benifits the player at all. Since you don't spend much time with him, and the controversial nature of the charater, it is difficult to trust him on the suicide mission. Since that is really the only thing you can do with him, that doesn't leave much reason to have him around. Personally, I enjoy the insists he give you into the geth and see potential. The main problem I have is the conflict he will inevitably have with Tali. It is very difficult to get them to drop the fight (which it should be, I wouldn't expect them to), but the only option to retain their loyalty as a renegade character like me is to lie to Tali... I'm just not comfortable doing that. I usually turn him over to Cerberus for the money.

Grade C

DLC Characters

Just a quick note, DLC characters only have a loyalty mission and have a different way dialog works. They're largely unnessecary, but they can be enjoyable.

Zaeed Mossani

I really like Zaeed. It helps that he was free for people who bought the game new. Since all he has is the loyalty mission, it helps that his is awesome. Full disclosure though, I've only played it renegade. My favorite Zaeed moment is watching him light his former partner on fire in his loyalty mission. He's such a bada**. I would not want to miss that. If you take the time to talk to him, he'll share a lot of stories of his days as a merc. He has a great voice actor as well. He seems like he is not a nice guy at all, but maybe you can convince him he still has some value as your personal soldier. His combat skills are great! Disruptor Ammo pairs well with his Grenades. I like to give him area grenades. It is the best ability for taking down large groups IMO.

Grade A

Kasumi Gato

Kasumi is a nice, but not really needed addition. She came later so I think most people missed seeing her. She's a thief and her loyalty mission is very different than anything else in the game. You cooperatively break into a rich criminals private museum. In addition to the coolness of the mission you get some really powerful SMGs to use. At the end, her preference is to obsess over her old boyfriend. I understand they had something, but now that she has his data, I think it is time to move on. In combat she has an ability that allows her to stealth up to enemies and punch them. Its very strong and makes her worth taking along. Sadly, I think what I enjoy about her most though is the addition of a personal bar in the Normandy. I don't think that says much for her character.

Grade B-

So, there it is... my professional opinion on all of ME2 team-members. I think it is too many and am glad they're reducing it. I hope ME3 has more interaction between characters and more development for characters that your could romance but choose not to.

ME2: The Characters, Reviewed. Part 2

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Part one of this blog already discussed Miranda, Jacob, Mordin, and Garrus. Click here to read it.

Now, on to the next group.

Jack (Subject Zero):

If Jack were being reviewed by Gamespot she would recieve the "Serious Baditude" emblem. I really wanted to like Jack but she just makes it so difficult. Given her backstory, you can understand why she is what she is, but that really doesn't make her more likable. Its good that she is so usefull in combat. Her Warp Ammo is perticularly nice and her biotics just send people flying. She is also the most touching romance option in the game, however, I doubt anyone sees it. She will only romance with male Shepard and only if he refuses to have casual s*x with her first. With FemShep she will say she likes you, but refuses to be a part of any "girls club". Its too bad... I would have thought she would be into that sort of thing.

Grade C-

Grunt:

Grunt probably gets a pass from many players because he is The Krogan on this game. My brother would constantly refer to him as "Wrex" while playing (I'm not sure if he did it intentionally). Anyway, Wrex was/is a great character, but Grunt really is not. He doesn't have any history to draw from and while it is fun fighting the thresher maw with him, his personality never really does improve. Its actually slightly frightening to hear him giggle with delight upon the revalation that he "hates turians". I'm not sure what his prueblood actually means, but he is a little to aggressive... even for me. In combat, his fortification is a usefull ability to steal, but ultimately he doesn't live up to expectations there either.

Grade C-

Thane Krios:

There must be something special about Thane, because a lot of people really like him. Personally, I don't get it. His "Tall Dark and Mysterious" act doesn't get very far with me and I'm not really enthused with his spiritual mysticism either. Clearly the marketing people thought they had something because he is on almost every promotional piece for the game. Also, the writers even introduced a whole new alien race just so they could get his character in there.... Thane is obviously not my type. In combat, I still don't like him. His shredder ammo would be powerful if there were more organic enemies who didn't always have shields. He has warp, so I guess that helps... he is kind of like a weak Miranda. I hardly ever use him.

Grade D+

Samara and Morinth:

While these are two completely seperate characters, they are tied together. Samara is an Asari Justicare sworn to your service who wants you to kill her murderous daughter. However, if your paragon or renegade is high enough, you can turn the tables and recruit her daughter instead. When I roleplay my Shepard, she isn't scared of Krogan or Geth, but she has a healthy fear of Morinth. Imagine that one lonely night where in weakness you give into temptation and BAM!... you end up being s*exed to death on your own ship. It would be horrible... and kind of awesome. If you stick with Samara, she obviously has a lot of guilt over killing her "strongest and smartest" child. It isn't the most drawn out story, but I still think it is one of the more interesting. Combat wise both Samara and Morinth are pretty awesome. Morinth has my favorite ability in the game, "Dominate Mind", which always you to force an organic, including the collectors, to fight their own team. Samara has the very useful Reave ability which cuts through barriers and armor AND steals health. Neat.

Grade B

Give me your comments on these and I will post more ME2 characters tomorrow.

ME2: the Characters, Reviewed. Part 1

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With the release of ME3 only one week away, I'm working to get that perfect save file to import as soon as the game is released. Since I'm working on ME2, now I'm in the middle of being reintroduced to the extra large cast that makes up your ME2 squad. Obviously, I need them all to survive so I can see how their plot plays into 3, but some of them I care more for than others. Following are my opinions on the individuals collected in ME2. I will give each team member a grade based on their overall contribution. Please be aware that my opinions are likely to be scewed as I typically play as a female renegade version of Shepard and I usually play as the Soldier.

Miranda Lawson:

Miss Lawson is one of the first team members to join you. She is one of your most capable team members when used in combat. I especially enjoy that her Cerberus Officer ability adds to the Team's weapon damage. The problem I have is Miranda never truely lines up behind Shepard. She is loyal to Cerberus and the Illusive Man and regularly reports you actions. Her internal struggles revolve around the fact that she is geneticly engeniered and has trouble accepting even the slightest failure. Its pretty clear that she is jealous of Shepard's innate leadership ability. Dialog with Miranda is limited as FemShep, because there is no romance option. Its sad though, because with a few more conversations, I feel like Shepard and Miranda would become very close friends. Overall, I slight her for her initial b*tchyness, but think she earns her way back by her character growth and combat prowess.

Grade B-

Jacob Taylor:

Jacob is your second starter team member and I have to be honest, I don't like him. To me he always comes off as a bit nieve. On the plus side, he almost always supports Shepard's decision, but I feel like it is because he lacks the intelligence to come up with a better option. Its almost like he's the opposite of Miranda. She's too capable and he's mostly inept. His combat abilities don't help much either. His biotic pull can not be used on Shields or Barriers and his Incendiary Ammo hurts Shields less... and a lot of enemies have shields. The worst offense though, to me, is how FemShep seems to just throw herself at him. She is overly flirtatious from the first conversation. Its kind of gross.

Grade D

Mordin Solus:

I think Mordin might be the love/hate type with players. He is a doctor and a scientist, but he's not afraid of getting his hands dirty if he feels it is helping the greater good. As a team-member, he more than pulls his weight. Without him, your team would never make it past horizon. He's also very useful in combat thanks to his helpful Incenerate ability. The big controversy will revolve around the genophage, which Mordin himself worked on in an effort to keep the Krogan population in check. Mordin insists it is/was the right thing to do. If you disagree, I could see a lot of conversations with him turning bad. I agree with him, in the big picture he likely saved lives and possibly saved the Krogan species. Regardless, Mordin is worth talking to. He is a well developed character and if you catch him at the right time he might treat you to a song or give you s*x advise. I'm really happy with his inclusion.

Grade B+

Garrus Vakarian:

Since ME1, Garrus has gotten more extreme. I think some players might not be happy with the change, but I think its appropriate. My personal interpretation is that the Council is getting in the way, so I like that Garrus left their oversight to opperate independantly in Omega. Opperating as a vigilante, he is able to form a team and obstruct underhanded dealings of all the major mercenary groups. He joins your squad wanting revenge on the merc who betrayed him and got his squad killed. I am happy to help. He is also a romance option, and it is fun to persue because he is really awkward about it. The downside is that male versions of Shepard end up having much less to talk to him about. In combat he is usefull for the combination of Armor Piercin Ammo, Overload, and using the Sniper Rifle. He also suggest improving the weapons on the Normandy, which helps save your life in the end.

Grade A-

There are more characters, and I have an opinion on all of them. I will do 4 more in my next blog.

Mass Effect 3 co-op mode... Killing the franchise?

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The Mass Effect 3 demo came out and while I'm happy with many of the changes on the single player/ main game side of things, I was most happily suprised by the other half. The multiplayer demo is included and even though it only has two stages, I know I've spent over 20 hours playing it already. It is very compelling and very fun. Now I have more reasons I can not wait for ME3. I'm also curious if/when they will release a multiplayer focused game where you can pick your race/class combination. If they annouce that it will be another prepaid preorder from me to EA/Bioware. I'm so excited!