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Forgiveness. I had to mull that over in my mind for some time, as I had two companies to choose between, either Gearbox (for Borderlands) or BioWare (for both Mass Effect and Dragon Age).

Gearbox cost me money. I purchased their Borderlands creation in good faith from GamersGate, a digital vendor with a good reputation. GamersGate later posted on their website as well as in some emails to myself that they would not be allowed to sell any of the DLCs for Borderlands, and they would not work with their game if purchased anywhere else. So here I was, stuck with just the basic game with patches, forced to buy the game a second time from another vendor if I desired the other DLCs. I refused, wondering why Gearbox would be so stupid as to alienate a good portion of their PC customer base.

BioWare. Where do I start with them? They are fairly adept at writing game code - well, except for collision detection - but in all truthfulness I believe they either don't game themselves or have forgotten how to. It seems they write their games with things that make no sense at all from a gamer's perspective.

Let's begin with Mass Effect 1. BioWare loves doors...lots of doors...slow to open doors. Made no sense at all to wait for a door if it wasn't encrypted, such as the door to leave the CIC to go to the crew deck. Shepard was in sad physical condition - even out of his armor he could only run a few steps, then have to huff for a while like a steam engine with a lot of bad leaks. Then there were the cookie-cutter environments for melee combat events. Then there was the Mako. Every planet seemed to have an abundance of dozens of Mount Everests, and at times you had to waste medi-gel to fix the Mako just from driving around. And why wasn't there a grenade locker in the armory? Good god, Shepard had to scrounge for grenades like a hobo looking for his next meal.

Dragon Age: Origins. Seems to me the term "level playing field" is an unmentionable in BioWare's offices. Who ever heard of level-capping a RPG at Level 25? And to top it off, you had to earn outrageous stats that had nothing to do with a character's cIass in order to obtain a skill. Remember Alastair? He had to sacrifice a ton of stats to Dexterity (a rogue stat) to be able to complete his shield ability. Rogues had no real Backstab move, you had to somehow get behind an enemy NPC to successfully do a Backstab. Mages had it the worst. The animation for spellcasting was atrocious - it looked more like they were winding up to pitch a baseball versus casting magic, and there were times their staff would just outright disappear during melee combat. The game trailers were false advertising, as Sacred Ashes led you to believe Morrigan could shapeshift instantaneously, yet in the game it took a ponderous amount of time for the spell to take effect.

Mass Effect 2. Well, Shepard is still out of shape, even out of his armor. Why didn't BioWare give him a supply of head gaskets? He certainly needed some, thought he might throw a rod if not have a heart attack. BioWare made a lot of great DLCs, but you level-capped well before the game was finished, resulting in grinding along without earning any experience points. I disliked the comm room because of that slow door - and did anyone notice it was only slow for leaving, but not entering?

Dragon Age 2. A bit rushed, and for some unknown reason BioWare returned to ME1, bringing back the cookie-cutter environments. Still I have to say I enjoyed it a little more than Origins, as even without any DLCs in the beginning, the game was not level-capped.

Mass Effect 3. The game was fine until that atrocious ending. I would have had zero complaints if my in-game choices had led to the ending, but choices were thrown out the window. None of us asked to have our choices replaced with a deus ex machina ending.

So which company won my forgiveness? I have to give BioWare the nod, because they didn't affect my wallet, I wasn't looking at having to buy a game a second time. I'll give BioWare a second chance, and pre-order Dragon Age 3 when the time comes. But I hope they realize that gamers don't want another deus ex machina ending in a game.

Level 60 - I have ascended

Finally, I have achieved the last full set of levels available to Gamespot members. Too bad that Level 70 doesn't extend to 79.

Five years ago, I started out as a normal Gamespotter, n00bing my way around for the first two years.


While wandering around in the maze known as Off-Topic Discussion, I was told I needed to reach Level 20, I had to be a Metal Slime in order to rate in OT.

I kept working at it, and achieved Metal Slime on 27 Aug 09.

metal slime

Even then I had much further to go to reach Gamespot greatness. I had to continue to achieve, reach what is known as Veteran Status or Level 50. I had to endure many days of rigorous training...some days it seemed as though I wasn't moving very fast.

The day finally arrived. 1 Nov 11, I ascended once again, I became a Gamespot Veteran.


But I knew there was yet one more ascension I needed to achieve - I had to reach the last full set of 10 levels, the one known as Master Chief or Level 60. I struggled many days to ascend...sometimes I felt as though my strength was only increasing at a minimal rate of 2% per day. I felt as though I wasn't getting anywhere.

But I didn't lose sight of my goal, I kept on training. I knew if I kept going, I would ascend one fine morning.

And today is that day. And this is to go even further beyond.

level 60

5 years at Gamespot

Wow, I can hardly believe it...five years have come and gone.

I started out pretty much like a lot of other members - with a blank profile, no posts, no blogs - just a 'black hole" that needed to be filled in.:P

Little by little, as I learned my way around, I began to add to my profile - an About Me comment here, a game rating there. I really have to give a lot of credit to the great members who took their time to post answers to help threads. I learned a lot just from reading what the veteran members had to share.

I also learned a lot by reading the Levelling Guide, the HTML & BBCode Guide, and the Emblem Guide. A tip of the hat to all who took part in writing those threads.

What was really a joy was seeing our site admins (Jody, Synthia, and Dracula) taking time out of their busy schedules to notice a member's blog. Jody gave me quite a surprise once when she featured a gameplay video I made on one of her shows.

And now they have chosen me to be a Gamespot Ranger. I have had a lot of good experiences here at Gamespot, and I'm certain they will continue. I'm certainly glad that I chose to make an account here, and I've never regretted that decision.

Mass Effect 3 is a one-playthrough RPG, future DLCs rendered obsolete

Before I start this, I will say that the storyline during the game is fine and a lot of enjoyment can be had. The problem rests in the ending.

As long as you have built up your forces sufficiently - which by the way can be done without multiplayer - you come upon an ending with three choices. The problem with this ending is that it doesn't matter what you do prior to it...the ending will always be the same.

Thus there is no reason whatsoever to even bother with any future DLCs after "From Ashes", as they would be pointless to play.

Mass Effect 2 was 180 degrees different with new DLCs, as each one added to the storyline and could make a difference in the ending (consider Lair of the Shadow Broker and Arrival). Not so with Mass Effect 3. You get Javik, which is an interesting character, but he doesn't help you change the outcome or endgame.

The ending renders any future DLC completely useless, unless BioWare includes coding to improve the ending, or else a massive patch to fix it.

BioWare has achieved what I thought was impossible - a RPG that can only be played once.The ending left me with the feeling of "what the heck happened with all of my choices?" from ME1 until now.

Finished Amalur's Main Quest

Level 37, reached Tier 6 (Universalist) on a combo Finesse-Sorcery-Might. For those who might be wondering, the game does continue on after the credits roll, which is a plus. Final boss battle is different and a lot of fun. Here's a screenshot of the perks you get as a Universalist.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - first impressions

First impressions....I'm having a great time with Amalur. The best part is the combat, levelling, and exploration. There is a lot (really a lot) to do in this game. I've already created gems and slotted them in items. Alchemy is fantastic - you can buy recipes, but the most fun is experimenting to see what recipes you can discover on your own. If you combine reagents correctly, a new recipe is added to your knowledge base. You also earn an achievement for this, and if I told you the name of it, you would laugh, but I don't want to say it if you think it would be a spoiler. Your armor and weapons will wear down with use during melee, and will need can keep Repair Kits in your inventory, and purchase repairs at certain vendors. Fast Travel is tremendous, and works without a hitch. I have used it to my advantage, it came in handy when my character became affected by a curse. I'm working on a character path combining Finesse (rogue) and Sorcery (mage). Playing the demo paid huge dividends, as the fate weapons give you the added punch you need in the early going. They don't make it easier, it makes melee more enjoyable because you can give as good as you get. In-game physics are beautiful - if you get hit, your player reels back, you make the right moves, enemies go airborne...there are combo moves you can unlock, and going into Reckoning Mode in melee is as much fun as when Nero did his similar thing in DMC4. Also you have a dodge capability, where you can tumble in any of four directions away from an enemy, which gives you time to down a potion if need be. You have a Radial Menu where you can place items for quick use, and one keypress brings it up. Keyboard and mouse bindings work very well, and they use all of the mouse. Decisions play out with great import, and one thing that's so cool is if you have a persuasion option in dialog, it even tells you the percentage of success before you choose it.:o Making a correct decision pays you in huge bonuses, and I've already collected some. What do you think so far? Amalur Launch Trailer here.

Medical Break

Some of you may have read my earlier blog about my being hospitalized for leg problems. Well, it happened again. Some wounds had opened and my legs swelled. I'm back home now after some surgery to close some veins that weren't functioning. I was admonished by the surgeon to avoid excessive standing or sitting...there goes my marathon RPG sessions.:cry: Bandaged up and not feeling very well atm, but the bright side is I can catch up on my reading. My usage of the internet will be sporadic at best, mostly for paying bills and what not. Thanks to those of you who befriended me here at GS.:) Next time I log-on I'll try to catch up on my Inbox.

The New Forum Rules are Getting Out of Hand

I have been opposed to the lowering of the rules since this idea was first posted. I knew things would be taken advantage of, and the situation would soon get out of control. Just five minutes ago there were several spammed threads in System Wars, all of them had racial epithets in the topic title. The OP basically said, "This is the way to spam." Thank goodness they were finally removed...should have been removed a lot faster than they were. It seems as though Ask the Mods has worsened, as now there is an increase of people calling out users by name. There are threads in other forums calling out people by name. More necro threads as well, along with a lot of threads in the wrong forums. I believe these new rules have hamstrung our moderator team. Perhaps they were meant to lower the moderator workload, but I don't see that happening, as the queue will probably be the same size it's always been.:lol: I for one will be happy if the rules returned to what they were beforehand...the forums were cleaner, and they should be kept that way for our youngest members. Gamespot should stay safe for young people. If you're lowering the standards, perhaps age-gates should be considered on some forums, such as the age-gate you have on videos. Not a gate where you enter your birthdate, but one that uses the birthdate in your profile.

Level 50 - Strawberry Candy is sweet

I feel elated today, I feel as though I am now truly a Gamespot veteran. w00t I must thank both Jody and Synthia for their kindness and consideration for granting extra points toward my level, and both have been very generous over these past almost 5 years. If not for them, I would be at least three or four levels back I believe.:) I hope they never leave Gamespot - this website would be horrible without them. And Drac complements the team, he has done much good towards keeping Gamespot clean and safe for us. And Drac has done a superb job with the game database. I'll never forget that one day he posted that he trusted me when I posted that a DLC for a BioWare game was released. I was so touched by that post that I immediately went and posted a screenshot to earn that trust. I mean this in all sincerity, I don't believe I would have been as active as I have been if these three people weren't a part of the staff. They perform their jobs so well that it makes me enjoy my time here - they make the website what it is. I think I'll include a plug for Kevin, as his reviews have carried a lot of weight towards my gaming purchase decisions. His reviews have kept me from purchasing games of questionable quality, as well as steering me towards the true gaming gems. I must also say he has an innate gift for writing - I never tire of reading his reviews. Thanks to all of you for enriching my time here at Gamespot - it would have been much less if you weren't here. You provided the impetus that kept me interested to where I log-on daily. It's because of you that I have reached Level 50 today.:)

Level 49 today - thanks, Jody

Thank goodness the level-up glitch has been patched. I was stuck for somewhere around 8 days, along with everyone else. Many thanks goes to Jody for providing us with some points to offset what we lost. Everyone should pass on a "thank you" to her, as manually inputting levelling points for as many members as we have is a lot of painstaking work. Now I'm just 34 days away from reaching the Level 50 milestone. I had no idea I would get this far when I first signed up back in 2007. I've met a lot of good people here who have made my membership here very enjoyable. I'm very thankful that we have people such as Jody, Synthia, and Dracula keeping the ship afloat.:)