Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Followup: You can safely avoid Gladstone's School for World Conquerors

Note: It's been a while since I finished Gladstone's School for World Conquerors, so this review is going to be more about my impressions of the series and the way I remember things playing out.
El Campeon is wondering why he's in this comic
How long should you wait before having a completely unnecessary crossover with a character from another comic series? I don't know, but you should probably wait until after the second issue. Give your own characters a chance to find their feet and grow on your readers before you throw in someone else's character for that "Hey kids, look who's here!" moment. But Gladstone's School for World Conquerors has a completely unnecessary appearance from El Campeon, from The Amazing Joy Buzzards. El Campeon adds nothing to the plot, and ends up taking up time that could have been better spent establishing the characters from Gladstone's School for World Conquerors. In fact, El Campeon's cameo gets almost as much character development as any of the main characters in the series.

Mass Effect: I Did It My Way

 We must live with the choices we make.

Much has been made of the romance options in Mass Effect. There has been speculation and rumor about whom you can have a relationship with, arousing all sorts of responses from fans. I used to think this was just about fanboys getting their kicks. Now I'm not so sure. I'm starting to think that it's a reflection of something else: just how deeply we get into the act of participating in storytelling.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quick, Slightly Spoilery Thoughts on the ME3 Ending

Shepard's not feeling so hot. I hope that's not too spoilery
If you're a Mass Effect fan, you probably already know that the ending to Mass Effect 3 has been very controversial among fans. I'll say one thing: it's certainly got people talking. My wife and I finished the game together, and we spent the rest of the evening discussing what happened and what it meant.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

You should buy the Mass Effect 3 "From Ashes" DLC

The "From Ashes" Tarantino shot
It's all Mass Effect, all the time over here, but I don't feel guilty. For one thing, Mass Effect is amazing, and if someone doesn't want to hear about Mass Effect, I don't much care what that person thinks of my blog. For another, I know who the regular readers of this blog are, and I know that almost all of you play Mass Effect.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the "From Ashes" DLC that was released for Mass Effect 3. Anyone who bought the Collector's Edition automatically received the DLC for free. Everyone else, including me, has to pay ten dollars for it. It comes with a mission, which was pretty cool and took me about an hour (though that's just an estimate; I lose track of time pretty easily when playing Mass Effect). But the real reason to get the DLC is to get the squad member it comes with. Is it worth it?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mass Effect 3: First Impressions

Welcome home
This is it: the final installment in the epic Mass Effect series. The stakes couldn't be higher, but everyone is gathering for the final fight. I have never been this invested in a video game. The hype was tremendous, and now I have had a chance to play it for several evenings. So how does it measure up?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mass Effect: My Bucket-headed Girlfriend and Bird-Dinosaur Boyfriend

The first Mass Effect game was fairly sparse with its romance options. Bioware believed that gamers would find themselves attracted to the human and human-like characters, so the only romance options were the soldier Ashley Williams (for a male Shepard), biotic Kaiden Alenko (for female Shepard), and the asari Liara T'Soni (for Shepards of either gender). Ashley and Kaiden are both humans, while Liara attempts to occupy the well-known niche of "hot alien girl who looks almost exactly human except she's blue." The less human squad members were not available for romance, and more's the pity, because one of them was the cutest quarian in the galaxy, Tali'Zorah vas Neema.
The official lithograph of Tali'Zorah, by Bioware (which I have on a wall in my apartment, thanks to my lovely wife)

Mass Effect: Who Is Shepard?: A Reaction

**WARNING: Some Reaper-sized spoilers ahead!**

I haven't used my power to post on this blog yet, but I thought I'd add something to the ongoing conversation about Mass Effect 2. I haven't played through the game three times the way his Lordship, the Baron von Chop did. I have only done so once, and to tell you the truth, as much as I love the characters and the story, I don't relish the thought of doing three times the hunting for raw materials on planets, playing the world's most boring metal detector simulator. I feel that if the game let you launch probes rapid-fire, instead of making you wait for each one to load, that mini-game might almost have been tolerable.

Because a game can only be so different, I had pretty much the same playthrough experience the Baron did, with one obvious exception: I had my own Shep. His life story is one filled with hardship and a remarkable change of heart. He was born in space, and his mother was (and still is) an officer in the Alliance Navy. At the beginning of the war with the geth, Shepard was best known for his heroic defense of a colony under attack, holding off the assault single-handedly and earning himself the reputation of a war hero. This experience, along with a long service in the Navy, made him think of himself as a career soldier, one who follows orders and does what is expected of him. He wasn't afraid to do what the mission required. Though obedient to his superiors, he also expected a lot of those under his command, and wasn't afraid to yank them back when they stepped out of line. He believed in heavy armor and bullets, especially his sniper rifle/assault rifle combo, and thought biotics are fine... for other people.

Shepard's method of dealing with obstacles: "Did you shoot it? And it's still a problem? Are you sure you shot it ENOUGH?"