[PC] Mass Effect

I spent the last month (EDIT: a month ago – but only just finished this) doing a complete play through of Mass Effect 1 to 3. All my previous completions of those games were with freshly rolled characters and default results that brings. I never really brought one character forward through all the versions – mainly because I’d upgrade my PC between releases and lose the save games. (BTW the whole series is on sale on Origin)

Lots of spoilers ahead.

I decided on rolling up an Engineer, which was somewhat painful in the first Mass Effect because you’re limited to light armor and pistols. I still overcame that burden by excessive use of tech powers; Overload, Incinerate, Cryo, and Neuro. I made the choice based on how it plays in ME3 and ME3′s multiplayer cooperative mode (which I hop on from time to time).

Mass Effect 1 decision points?

  1. Played a female – which was a first, my previous characters were all male.
  2. Romanced Liara – rawr… blue babe.
  3. Turn over evidence in Noveria that gets the big cheese in trouble – extortion is bad.
  4. Let the Rachni Queen live – I believe the default is that you kill it, but I don’t remember.
  5. Saved Wrex – default is that you kill him.
  6. Let the scientist in the Krogan cloning facility go – minor point.
  7. Assisted the second team on Virmire by taking out extra targets – seemed like the right thing to do, preserves the Salarian in charge, Kirrahe.
  8. Sacrificed Ashley – figured the default on the male playthrough is to sacrifice Kaiden.
  9. Saved the Council – default seemed to be letting the Council die.
  10. Put Anderson in the role of Ambassador – Udina is the default.
  11. Conrad Verner – three visits.
  12. Sparing the Asari that the Thorian was controlling.

I think that is it? I was quite the Paragon.

Impact on ME2?

  1. Still playing for team V.
  2. With the Shadow Broker DLC you get to hook up again after completing it. Without it, she sort of keeps her distance. Shadow Broker DLC also reveals that Liara is in trouble with the Shadow Broker because she acquired your remains and gave them to the Illusive Man, preventing the Shadow Broker from selling the remains to the Collectors.
  3. Get to do a minor mission for the covert investigator from Noveria, enjoy a drink later.
  4. Minor mention of the Rachni Queen talking through an Asari she saved.
  5. By keeping Wrex alive in ME1, he is around as the head of Clan Urdnot in ME2 (if he’s dead, Wreav is the leader you deal with).
  6. When picking up Grunt, you come across this Asari helping Okear with his Krogan experiments.
  7. Moridin makes reference to Kirrahe’s Hold the Line speech if you mention that you knew Kirrahe from the STG.
  8. Kaiden shows up on Horizen, but nothing more comes from it.
  9. Saving the Council doesn’t seem to do too much for you that I noticed. They sound a little more grateful, but since you don’t really interact with them in ME2 it doesn’t feel like a big deal.
  10. Anderson gets to put Udina in his place – which is nice, I hated Udina.
  11. Apparently he shows up in ME2, though I haven’t seen him.
  12. She shows up on Illium, representing the people from Feros vs. Exogeni.

There might be a few others I missed or forgot.

ME2 major decision points? Wow… ME2 had a big impact on ME3. First lets talk about the crew – a big part of ME2 is collecting the crew and making them happy (or not). Every crew member you preserve in the suicide mission shows up in ME3 in some form. And it is possible to preserve them all – I did… I’m that awesome. Appearances in ME3:

  • Kaiden (or Ashley) – on and off crew member – join you for the initial mission, then ends up in the hospital until after you sort out Cerberus in the Citadel.
  • Liara – crew member – joins you early as well – this kindled the love interest again, though I did have to tell Kaiden to back off again (had to do that in the first one too).
  • Garrus – crew member – joins you early on.
  • Grunt – cameo – shows up when you look for the missing scouts. If you lost him in ME2, the commander of the Krogan elite company dies while you get out. If you did save Grunt in ME2, he gives you time to get out of the Reaper/Rachni caves and manages to survive. This gets you more war asset points.
  • Zaeed – cameo – shows up while dealing with an Ambassador that sold some information to Cerberus. He turns the chance of failing into automatic success. More war asset points.
  • Kasumi – cameo – she shows up when you’re dealing with the indoctrinated Hanar. If you don’t have her, you have to choose between saving the Hanar people or a Salarian Spectre – either one gets you one war asset. If you have her, she deals with the virus while you help the Salarian Spectre getting you two war assets instead of just the one.
  • Thane – cameo – he shows up at the hospital. If you talk to him, he mentions he’ll keep an eye on Kaiden but the real difference he makes is that he foils the attempt on the Salarian Ambassador’s life. If you don’t have him, you lose the Ambassador and miss out on some war assets.
  • Jack – shows up in Grissom Academy where she makes the end result better in that you don’t lose students. Without her, the ending sequence where a student lags behind results in losing their lead student. With Jack there she kicks ass and saves the student. She later is added as a war asset.
  • Miranda – cameo – she makes a couple of appearances before showing up in Horizen. I think her loyalty in ME2 ties to whether she lives or not in ME3. I remember losing her in my first play through of ME3.
  • Jacob – cameo – shows up as a protector of some ex-Cerberus scientists. Saving them adds some war assets as they’re recruited into helping build the Crucible.
  • Tali – crew member – she joins you when dealing with the Geth/Rannoch. There is a chance you can lose her if you don’t pick right. In fact, the whole thing between her and Legion is easier to deal with if they’ve both survived from ME2.
  • Legion – temp crew member – he joins you when dealing with the Geth Dreadnought but doesn’t stick around long. One way or another you seem to lose him; either you have to destroy him to prevent him from updating the Geth or he has to destroy himself to properly update the Geth.
  • Moridin – initial crew member – he joins you after Sur’kesh and helps with the Genophage cure, but it costs him his life.
  • Samara – cameo – she appears when you’re visiting the Asari monestary with the Ardat-Yakshi; two of them being her remaining daughters. It doesn’t seem like she changes much other than almost killing herself because her code demands she kill her remaining daughter. (I don’t know what happens if you side with Morinth – maybe she visits her sisters?)

Decision points – yikes… there are a few! Mostly around whether the crew members are made loyal and whether they survive the last mission or not.

  1. Shadow Broker DLC – it’s assumed you bailed Liara out or someone did because she is the Shadow Broker whether you did the DLC or not. I believe you get a bonus upgrade from Feron if you have completed this DLC and you get more information about what happened.
  2. Arrival DLC – it’s assumed that you destroyed the relay and caused the destruction of the Batarian colony. People (Batarians are people too!) are none too happy about it and make a few appearances.
  3. Jack or Miranda – picking one can cause loyalty issues with the other. There is a ‘get both’ option… I mean for loyalty, if you’re Paragon enough (which I was /flex)
  4. Samara or Morinth – you have to pick one or the other. Morinth is thoroughly evil so Samara must destroy her. I seem to remember in my original play through I wasn’t able to resist Morinth and I don’t think I was presented with a choice. Maybe I was and I didn’t remember it. If you do pick Morinth, don’t romance her… you’ll die. Shepard is special, but not that special.
  5. Keep the research from Genophage cure attempts – getting a cure for the genophage takes priority over saving Eve so the more time Moridin has to spend on the genophage, the more he can’t spend fixing up Eve. This helps determine whether Eve survives or not. Other things also factor in, such as how you treat her.
  6. Prevent Moridin from killing his former pupil – I’m not sure this impacts anything other than getting more Paragon or Renegade points. Maybe you risk losing Moridin’s loyalty mission.
  7. Destroy Collector base or not – Another one I’m not sure about. Whether you destroy the base or not, the ‘Human-Reaper’ appears in the Cerberus station where the Illusive Man was hiding out.
  8. Upgrades to the Normandy – not your typical decisions, but failing to upgrade the armor, the shields and the weapons can result in losing up to three of the crew members… maybe more.

Most of ME2 ‘s impact on ME3 is around the crew members that survived which I commented on above. The crew from ME2 make some cameo appearances allowing you to gain multiple War Assets instead of having to pick one or the other.

I suspect several of the choices and interactions you make with Tali and Legion in ME2 help you gain both assets with Quarians and Geth.

Wrex being there instead of Wreav puts you in a position of getting more out of the Krogan and I believe it is a factor for letting Eve survive.

I didn’t notice much else that stood out.

A few things about the ending… all through the game blue is used to emphasize Paragon choices while red is used to show a Renegade choice. in the end choice, the blue choice (control the Reapers) is shadowed by the Illusive Man, someone who is decidedly bad – or extreme in his views on saving or bettering Humanity (including actually turning some into hybrid-husks) – but you could see how he could be viewed as a Paragon for Humanity… at least in his mind. On the red, Renegade, side you see Anderson – someone who has believed in you, back you up and fought against all odds to defeat the Reapers and preserve Humanity.

This seems contrary to the rest of the game and previous games but if you think about it some, it makes sense to color them that way. Why?

The Paragon path was always about compromise, preservation and taking the high road.

The Renegade path was about winning at all costs, being ruthless and focused on doing what needs to be done despite the cost.

In some ways both the Illusive Man and Anderson embody both of these ideals. Illusive Man’s desire to preserve Humanity is goodly, it’s just his means that are ruthless and uncompromising. Anderson is out to save humanity too and he’s willing to do what it takes, but not at the extreme costs. Of course, destroying synthetic life to save Humanity would be well within the choice he would make. The Illusive Man’s motives were preservation of Humanity and increasing their power to also set them up above the other races.

Back to the consequences of the Blue/Red choices.

The cost of the Red choice is all synthetic life. The Geth who may have become your allies. EDI who you may have encouraged to have a relationship with Joker. And most importantly, the Reapers. It’s destroying one at the cost of others. It also wasn’t a guaranteed solution because it would only be a matter of time before someone creates synthetic life and the cycle repeats. Obviously the Geth were an example of that. So you just delay the cycle.

The cost of the Blue choice is only that the Reapers still exist. Well, that and your own life as you know it, so it’s a choice of self-sacrifice and preservation of all, even the enemy. Despite having the Illusive Man painted all over it (he was all about controlling them), it is the ‘good’ choice. In this choice, through your controlling the Reapers you advance all civilizations and rebuild what was destroyed. You break the cycle.

Other choices available – depending on your assets and influence levels – are to not choose at all, in which case the Reapers cleanse this cycle and the unknown happens as the AI in the Citadel  has to change how they do things because Shepard introduced an unexpected variable to the equation. You can choose to shoot the AI (in the form of a ghostly child) in which case you are killed and lose. You can also choose to join the beam and reform all synthetics and organics into hybrids so there is no need for the Reapers to destroy everyone.

You could argue the Green choice is the best, but then you’d be forcing your will on both synthetics and organics which isn’t so good. You can argue the Blue also takes away the choice of freedom from the Reapers, but their choice is clear if you don’t override them – harvest life.

Another thing I thought was neat about the dialogue at the end was where the AI tells you that the end of each cycle ends with the creation of a Reaper. There are A LOT of Reapers floating around so this would have been going on for a long time. Pretty epic in scope.

I have to admit this is one of the best sci-fi games out there.

Game Down!

Sadness.

I beat Dragon Age 2 yesterday. I admit I was a little disappointed because it seemed short. Looking back, I playing close to 30 hours in a short time span to beat it. I got it Thursday or Friday and could have had it beat by Sunday. There were only a couple of hours left on the game when I played it yesterday.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Again, I’ll compare it to Mass Effect 2 in degrees of content – not context of content, but formula of content. Very short main story with a lot of side quests and companion quests that fill in the time. I suspect you could easily beat the game in one day if you focused on advancing companion plots that fit with the game and skipped the rest; namely Isabella and Anders’ quest lines.

Considering the main story quests, you really only had the delve into the Deep Roads, dealing with that Chantry chick that was turning people against the Qunari, Isabella’s relic, Qunari, Anders’ quests, then the revolt against the Templars. The most time consuming part likely came from the beginning which was basically, “do quests to get 50 gold so you can advance the story.” That was all.

In the end, if you didn’t have proper rep with the companions, they might turn on you. Some appear to be predisposed to one side or the other. Oh, in case it wasn’t obvious, you end up being part of something that sparks the Circle of Magi turning on the Templars and, to some degree, the Chantry. As in, you distract the High Cleric while Anders goes and plants an arcane bomb only you don’t realize it until the Chantry explodes.

What?

I said there would be spoilers! :p

Neutral characters: Varric, Isabella
Pro-Mage characters: Anders, Merril, Bethany (if you have her)
Pro-Templar characters: Aveline, Fenris

I didn’t have Sebastian so I’m not sure which way he swings. I also didn’t have Carver because I went Warrior to start. (I am going to play through as a Mage just to see some differences. So far Bethany gets killed instead of Carver during that battle with the Ogre in the beginning.)

Did I miss anyone else?

I went Pro-Mage.

Aveline was going to side with the Templars because they represent order, however, she thought I was the shit so she stuck around and noted the Guardsmen were protecting the innocent citizens so staying out of the Magi-Templar fights. Fenris, who clearly doesn’t like Mages, flipped sides (despite having favorable rep with him) until just before the fighting started where I had the option to talk to him. I brought up the fact that the Magi were facing close to the slavery he did. This was done by selecting the “Join Me” option so he switched sides.

In my next play through I’m going to see what happens when I side with the Templars. Maybe after this one as a Mage, though it’ll be interesting to see what happens as a Mage going against the Circle? heh. I’ll have to save game lots and try it out.

I think in this play through I’ll try to fill the void in power left when the Arishok kills the Viscount. I did note there was an achievement for becoming the ruler or something and I did catch the dialog option that I suspect would have started it but decided to play neutral.

p.s. BIG SPOILER – really, I’m going to ruin the game for you if you read this. Flow of the story would be:

  1. escape from Lothering/Blight to Kirkwall (short)
  2. get into Kirkwall (short)
  3. earn 50 gold to get on board the Deep Road expedition (long)
  4. do the Deep Road where Bartrand betrays you and his brother, come back out (short)
  5. sort out Chantry+Templar+Zealot hostilities towards Qunari (medium)
  6. find Isabella’s relic, which is why the Arishok is hanging around and why she won’t ever enter the compound (short)
  7. fight your way to the Keep during the Qunari assault where you duel the Arishok (I ended up protecting Isabella, I don’t know if they’d leave peacefully) (short)
  8. power vacuum created by lack of Viscount, Meredith gets too powerful/pushy while the mages get anxious, Anders blows up the Chantry to force the issues (medium)
  9. pick sides – fight to the Gallows; resolve alliances (companions choose to stay with you or leave) (short)
  10. fight waves of the side you chose to oppose (a second chance to reconcile companions) (short)
  11. kill each of the leads of the factions; Meredith is corrupted/maddened by the idol Bartrand had taken from the Deep Road, Head Enchanter from the Circle decides to use Blood Magic – both were pretty big fights, though the one with Meredith seemed bigger/longer (short)
  12. game over

Some of those points could be mashed together and I don’t think thing you can advance the story until you sort out Bartrand the one time or distract the High Cleric for Anders. As you can see, a lot of the filler is doing the side quests or spending time earning cash for the Deep Road expedition.

That’s all for now.

DA:Origins, ME2 and WoW… Oh My!

I haven’t completed Dragon Age: Origins yet, but I swooped in, bought Mass Effect 2 and played it like a mad man.

I guess that confirms I’m starving for some good sci-fi (or non-medieval fantasy type)content. I’m even making a new Mass Effect character to play through the first one again so I can import it into Mass Effect 2.

That says something. If you know what it’s saying, let me know because I sure as hell don’t.

On the other hand, I don’t feel the, “meh, it’s medieval fantasy” feeling with WoW. I probably should be feeling that but I don’t.

I suspect it doesn’t feel like a medieval fantasy because the gameplay as a Hunter tends to be more active and I feel like I’m shooting things more than just whacking bad guys or healing people.

Star Trek Online is sci-fi but I feel no draw to that game. None.

Weird.

Mass Effect 2 – Review

A friend commented that I tend to be all hyped up about a game then the next post about it tends to be less positive. No reason to buck that trend.

Mass Effect 2 is a great game, but like all sequels, it just doesn’t live up to the first version. EA haters can chime in now if you want, but living up to what ME delivered was going to be an epic task.

Why?

It’s hard to beat a first time experience. Everything similar will just cause you to reflect on that first experience. With that in mind, it’s not a horrible game, it’s a great game but seemed to lack a little something the first one had.

Here are a few things I didn’t like about the game.

Static Character Looks

You get a few pieces that can make your armor look different, but not a whole lot different. Gone are the Light, Medium and Heavy Armor types. Granted the previous armor looks were simply texturing on the same models, it was still something a little more.

Yes, you can modify your armor a bit with some individual piece chances (legs, shoulders, arms, helmet), colors and patterns but your Squad members never change their armor and the only way you can get them to look different is by doing their side missions. Even then, it’s just swapping some colors.

Missions Too Short, Too Similar

This was the thing that really disappointed me. In some ways that’s a positive, like when you’re really enjoying a movie and it comes to an end – you just want more.

The missions all seemed very similar in pattern and short in length. I there were more missions involving your squad members than actually dealing with the enemy. I found that disappointing. It made the game feel like it was more about building a squad, gaining their loyalty and less about what was going on.

Don’t get me wrong, the squad members are interesting, but again, the missions to get them or to gain their loyal were all very short and straight forward. And they made up the majority of the game’s content. It felt a little more like Mass Recruiting than Mass Effect 2.

In ME the squad was built as you went through the missions based on the main story, you didn’t really have a grocery list to fill out.

The formula seemed to be: RP investigation, do some fighting, maybe a little more RP and then some fighting. This made areas were too transient and you never really felt like there was a lot to be done in an area outside of one or two action sequences.

You’d be hard pressed to find a mission in ME2 that felt as lengthy (in a good way) as the one in ME that involved chasing down the Asari Matriarch. That one was really good, lengthy and involved a good mix of exploration, RP to investigate and varied action in several different locations – including some time in the MAKO.

That was another aspect that was missing; no vehicle time. The addition of the time in the MAKO made ME have a little more varied mission play. Something I feel ME2 missed out on.

Exploration Lacks Enough Reward

I also felt exploration was a little unrewarding. For the number of planets you could find in the various systems you were limited to scanning them. Only a very small fragment of the ones you scan will lead to other missions and those missions were short – way too short. I didn’t really find any hidden gems like Wrex’s armor from ME.

There didn’t appear to be any ships in space you could discover, instead you either got mail saying there was a ship to help out or you found an outpost where a ship was mentioned.

While scanning a planet and firing a probe down to collect it was amusing the first couple of times, after awhile the only thing I was really looking for was an anomaly or Elemental Zero node.

On the bright side, if you’re going to play through a second time you can import your ME2 character and start with all the benefits you unlocked, including the level. Also, you get to start with a bonus power (selected from the ones you unlocked by performing the loyalty missions for squad members) as well as a ton of money and resources. That means less time spent scanning planets for resources.

Loading, Please Wait…

Another thing I found a little punishing was the whole loading screens thing. There was far too much loading.

I blame the consoles for that. I’ve got a dual core CPU with 8gb of RAM and some of the fastest HDs available (aside from slate). Nothing should take that long to load.

It got to the point that I’d actually plan out where I’d go on the Normandy simply because I knew I was going to face a couple of loading screens.

On the Normandy.

Come on! I shouldn’t have to load when going from one level of the ship to another! I mean, REALLY? I have to load up my room? It’s one room!

And the loading was pretty damn slow. Maybe I was just anxious to get playing, but for what was loaded up, it really didn’t seem to warrant the time spent loading.

Dumbed Down

I really don’t like that they removed a lot of the character advancement choices from the game. There used to be a good number of additional skills and abilities. A lot more choice in advancing your character and the squad members, but now you get so few options to pick from and nearly enough points to buy everything.

There might as well not be any choice at all – why not just assign these abilities automatically as you level?

Bugs

Remarkably, I didn’t run into any crashes – not a single one.

The only issue I had was the odd time my character would be stuck advancing up the Z-axis for no apparent reason. This happened two or three times and there was no easy way out. The first time was in a doorway so I thought I might have gotten stuck on the door close animation but the next time I saw it there wasn’t a door or so much as a rock in the way. I just stepped into a part in the path way and it started making me go straight up.

You Beat The Game… Right?

You can continue playing after you beat the game so as to finish exploring things or maybe clearing up some of the loyalty missions. The part I didn’t like about this is that most of the Squad still responded to you in a similar manner. Oh, each one congratulated you on doing what you did and took your side, but they said little else than that and went back into default mode.

The Good

Building a character was interesting. The opening sequence leads into it all pretty nicely. I was a little disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to customize the major decision points from the previous games – I’m not sure how many people kept their save games around. (I could see having to do this each time you create a new character being a little painful.)

I like the hacking and bypassing mini-games. It was a nifty little gimmick that was a break from picking chat or shooting stuff but not enough of that it got annoying. I have mixed feelings on how things continue as you’re trying to do this.

Despite my complaining about squad member related missions dominating the content, I did really like the squad members and their (limited) interactions with others. The interactions they had seemed to make sense (Tali/Legion and Miranda/Jack).

The game performed well (it better have for all the loading it did!) without any hiccups, hangs or crashes even when I was ALT-Tabbing out to check things and then back in.

The goals involved in several of the missions seemed different, which is probably part of what frustrated me. Some were neat and you never got a chance to do it again.

The voice acting was well done and the animations tied to them made sense and weren’t unbelievable active.

The combat was definitely fun, though I wish there was more of it and in more challenging fashions. Having to actually use the environment for more than cover would have been nice. There were opportunities, but none of the battles were overly complicated outside of the final one.

The end was interesting and definitely sets up for ME3.

Conclusion

It is a great game, but I can’t help but feel they cut out things to make allow for other things.

Looking back on this, it seems like a negative review but it isn’t. Those are the flaws of one of the most engrossing games I’ve played since I played the first one. I can’t help but feel my disappointment is summed up by there not being more.

MORE.

NOW!

A Little More Mass Effect 2…

I played a little more of Mass Effect 2, not a lot but some more. It’s pretty damn good.

I won’t spoil anything but it’s really cool to have Joker and the Normandy back after the original Normandy was blown up by – I’m assuming – the Collectors who are working for the Reapers.

Oops, did I spoil it?

I am a little disappointed you don’t get the band back together, but hey, you do get some new folks which keeps things interesting.

Does Miranda look familiar to anyone else? It was bothering me a bit while I was playing and then I realized… I’ve seen her on Chuck. It seems she also does the voice acting. I also recognized the voice of the Illusive Man. Here’s a list of voice actors in the game (wikipedia):

Actors Martin Sheen, Michael Dorn, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Tricia Helfer, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Adam Baldwin, Simon Templeman and Michael Hogan voice characters in the game. Keith David and Seth Green continue their roles in the series as David Anderson and Jeff “Joker” Moreau respectively.

Yvonne Strahovski and Tricia Helfer… rawr…

More info about changes:

1. Skill/Talent tree point assignment changes – they’ve streamlined it and I’m not sure I like it. I don’t hate it, but I liked having more choices that you had in Mass Effect.

All the abilities available seem more like active abilities with one passive ability that grants more health and damage or what ever benefit the class would use. Training into armor seems to be gone as is training into weapons, which is sort of disappointing (to me). From the sounds of it, a lot of people didn’t like having a lot of choice and worried too much about building bad characters.

Dumbasses.

2. Inventory and gearing systems – I’m still iffy about this. You can’t seem to equip your gear on the fly, instead you have to set up a casual look and then your ‘business attire’ – and by business, I mean armor.

On the positive, it looks like you will be able to mix and match armor parts instead of having a single complete suit that is sort of the same just different colors (exception seems to be the Blood Dragon armor which is a complete armor set, no customization).

Speaking of colors, you can customize your armor colors. I went with the Cerberus colors of black, white and yellow. I probably should be using the Blood Dragon armor because the stats are better, but I’m not sure I like how it looks. It meshes okay with what I feel is Mass Effect look, but not as well as the starting armor.

3. Normandy layout is a little different, but also sort of the same. You have a kitchen on board, separate quarters from what you used to have (those quarters are Miranda’s now), engineering and the hold are different looking and you have an administrative assistant who I’ve already busted several moves on with apparent success.

The load up for your team members is handled here in like in the previous Normandy, only the UI is different. I haven’t really figured it out yet, but I suspect that it will make more sense when I actually have other weapons or armor to switch squad members into. I’m not sure if you can customize their armor or colors, they might be stuck with what ever the stock look of the armor is.

4. You’re a hero working for what seems like a terrorist organization (operate in cells, few people know what the other cells are doing, you have one big mastermind behind it all that know one meets or knows) that isn’t well liked by alien races because this organization (Cerberus which is mentioned a little in the previous ME) is pro-Humanity. The distrust by alien races seems to be the main reason Shepperd is picked up by Cerberus (okay, he wasn’t really picked up so much as rebuilt) and I’m already starting to mend fences and build new bridges.

Talking to a lot of the crew members, you get a feel for what the organization is about and why people join it. The main one is that Cerberus takes action rather than debates over things like the Alliance/Council does.

This is an interesting twist on a hero role.

Overall, I’m loving it… more so than McDonald’s.

Mass Effect 2 – First Impression

This really is a quick first impression. I think I had all of 30 minutes in game, I spent about 30 minutes prior to that downloading and installing the extra downloadable content.

Just a note, I’m a PC gamer so this is on the PC and I purchased the game via Steam which is also where I purchased Mass Effect from.

On start up there were some news in the main menu of the game explaining you could import your Mass Effect saves from the Configuration link in the ME2 Launcher. So I exited and fired that up.

The joy of Steam is that I don’t appear to have a typical install where everything gets dumped into ‘Program Files’. Instead it’s tucked away so my adventure in finding where my ME saved games were located began.

Apparently I picked incorrectly because when I started the game up again, it didn’t show any saved games for importing and I know I have at least two. One where I played the nice guy (I completed the game with this one) and the other where I was playing the asshole (which didn’t complete the game). UPDATE: I checked the local file system and discovered I only had the save games from the asshole character… which didn’t complete the game. That explains why the import didn’t work.

I’ll have to look into that some more another time.

Downloadable content cannot be installed while the game is going so I had to stop so I could install this items. For me, that was the Dragon Blood armor (thanks to Dragon Age: Origins pre-order) and two other things, one of which was about 400mb.

With it being about 12:40am, I decided I wouldn’t wait on the 400mb download or sort out the save game thing and I would just pop in and use the default instead.

Nifty starting cinematic (in-game stuff), some directed play (you effectively have to go from point A to B) and then some more waiting to actually shoot stuff. I’ll admit they incorporated building your character and setting his appearance in an interesting fashion. Once that was done, you jump right into things with the tutorial giving you some simple starting pointers as you work your way into and through some action.

So far the gameplay is very much the same. Your party works in a similar fashion. Guns shoot in much the same manner. You have biotics as in the previous game. The good stuff stayed good.

The addition I think they made is including ammo outside of upgrading weapon damage – which I don’t seem to remember in the previous version? I seem to remember the guns would overheat and having mods for the weapons to reduce the overheating issues. I could be wrong.

The clear changes they made were the addition of more resolution settings (1900×1200, thank you!) and tweaks to some of the mini-games for hacking. They also increased the quality of the graphics, leveraging a number of newer technologies – it looks a lot better than ME did.

I experienced two forms of hacking so far; one was hacking data pads and the other was overriding a lock. The two mini-games I played were a memory game (unlocking) and sort of running matching game (hacking systems).

In the previous version, both of these involved playing a mini-game where you had to move this pointer to the middle of a series of concentric circles, only there were barriers that did not make this so direct. Additionally there were moving barriers that would send you back to the outer ring if you bumped them. That was the min-game for hacking computers or opening locks.

In ME2 unlocking you have a number of circuits you have to override. Each circuit has two nodes with identical icons on them. You only see this icons when you mouse over them so you have to move the mouse over the nodes until you find a match, then pick the two nodes that match. You have to do that once per circuit and much like most memory games, the nodes you match get removed making things a little easier. Sort of cool and I have to admit I like how it reflects tearing a faceplate off a lock-pad and screwing around with the wires underneath.

For hacking, you’re presented with table that has three columns and several rows. The cells contain code snippets which you have to match to one given above. When you find a code snippet you hit enter and the next code snippet you need to find is shown so you have to find that one. You do that three times. The catch is that there are some blocked out nodes which prevent you from navigating through the code so you have to use your movement keys to get around those and pick off the code you want. There is an attempt counter and a timer, but I’m not sure how it works. I think you might have a number of attempts to get it within a given time, but I’m not sure on that. (i.e. if you run out of time, you lose an attempt and have to start over). Again, nifty and seems a little more like you’re actually involved in hacking code.

My only beef so far is that some parts of the game seem to be a little too focused on console controllers which is a little annoying, but not game breaking. The main thing that stood out was the Option menus. They seemed to have a mix of clickable items and items you needed to use the keyboard for – which is weird. List of resolutions? You could use the mouse. Inverting the Y Axis? You couldn’t use the mouse to flip this on or off. Like I said, not game breaking, just a little annoying.

That’s about all I have for now.

36 Hour Days Please…

Of course, if we ever moved to a 36 hour day (aside from being odd for the day/night cycle) the expectation would be to spend more of that time working.

But wouldn’t it be nice to have 8 hours sleep, 8 hours of work and 20 hours of other stuff instead of just 8 hours of other stuff?

I’m thinking of this because I’m running out of ‘other’ time to squeeze in game time.

On my gaming plate I have:

1. WoW
2. Divinity II
3. Dragon Age: Origins
4. Mass Effect 2

The “WoW” listing isn’t as simple as just “WoW”, I have a lot of things I feel I need to do in that game. The main thing? Random Heroics every day for my two Emblems of Frost… on two characters. Aside from that I raid somewhere between two and four nights a week. Oh and my son plays. And my sister and brother-in-law are playing. And a long time gaming friend (Frank) is back in the game so I’ve been playing with him as well.

That’s the main thing, WoW is eating a lot of my “game time”.

Don’t mistake me for spending the remaining waking hours of the day playing WoW, no. I spend time with the family, watch TV with the wife, watch cartoons with the boys, do the odd chores, play games with them, etc. Hence my use of “game time”.

I was lucky to have more game time that usual this weekend because my oldest went to visit a friend for most of Saturday and my youngest was helping his mom with stuff. I ended up playing a couple of hours of Divinity II (which I haven’t posted about yet) which was fun.

I’ve all but stalled on Dragon Age: Origins simply because I played through the various beginnings so many times. I got back to it for about one hour, finished Redcliffe and was off to Denerim to find the Ashes but stopped there.

And now Mass Effect 2! I don’t have it yet, but I will order it on Steam when I get home and I’ll be dying to play it as I raid Icecrown Citadel later tonight. I’ll do my best to avoid playing it once I’m done raiding (midnight) because it’ll be downloaded by then.

So, I need more time in a day. Get work done, get more sleep, spend good quality time with the family and still have some time left over for “game time”.

The obvious thing would be to reduce my WoW time and not ‘need’ to run the Random Heroic Daily well, every day possible. The other alternative is to see if I can function off two hours of sleep every night…

Any guesses as to which one I’ll try?