Saturday, June 2, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse

I'm fighting off a nasty cold and in the middle of some delusional dreams and thoughts and promises of eternal love and devotion I came to this sudden realization. 

The End of Days is nigh! The Zombie Apocalypse has begun!

The Baby Eater

The Toddler Eater

The Hobo Eater

And there's more I'm sure. I just don't have a habit of searching for news about cannibalism. But I ran into these after just three minutes in the weird part of YouTube. It has to mean something, right? It's not just my feverish delusions, right?

I should go find myself a crowbar, or a capable man with a shotgun...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

As It Is In Life, So Shall It Be In Mass Effect

Funny things happen when one falls in love, both physically and mentally. Let's not go into the physical however. No, let's not. We could be here all day.

I, for one, am usually blessed with seemingly inexhaustible stores of patience, especially for the inanimate things of the world. And it was with this renewed vigor that I decided to give Mass Effect 3 another go, despite all the other games I'm currently investing in. I had sighed and pined for months for this game, in what seems now like another life time, so it seemed only fair I didn't give up on it so soon.

So I sat down on my bed, turned on the faithful 360 and set to it. As soon as the title screen came on I felt like something was amiss, or rather, not altogether right.

First take this into account.

Now, I don't know about you but, to me, this music got me in the mood. In the awesome-by-proxy, shoot-people-in-the-face mood.

Now consider this.

Oh, it's good, I'm not saying it isn't. But it brings me down more than it pumps me up. I'd rather cuddle than kill at the sound of this. And this mood continues throughout the game. Ambiance music is gloomy and mellow. I know there's a war going on and that wars are a sad affair. But you could at least try to get my blood flowing so I'd actually feel like doing something about it.

And this whole lethargic feel of "war is sad" is the backdrop for everything. In every screen, during every thing you do, there is this undertone of sad. I haven't finished the game yet but I see where this is going. This is just too much sad build-up for my taste.

During the first two installments of the saga I always felt like the situation was dire but Shepard was ready and willing to step up and own face. Now it's more of a lackluster day job affair for her. Yes, she's the savior of the galaxy and all things organic but we knew this already. We're moving on rails here people, let's just get this over with.

I'm going to finish the game. Soonish. I may be a bit too content at present to actually be able to stomach all of the "sad" in the game but, if push comes to shove, I'll just set the difficulty down to slap in the face and breeze down to the finish line.

Just so I can start bitching about it like everyone else.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Tank-Healer Dance

Where have I scurried off to? Well, you know when you get so passionate about something that you kind of lose yourself in the moment? And you know when that something isn't a thing but a one? Also, haven't been playing anything new. But this had a point other than vain apologies didn't it?

I'll be the first to admit: I'm not the most experienced of MMORPG players out there. In fact, my repertoire is fairly limited. My first big one was WAR and I've just recently decided to give Aion a whirl. Oh, shush you hatemongers. I have my gripes with the game as well but circumstance dictated and I, as the good girl I am known to be, acquiesced. But from what little I have seen, heard and experienced, there is this core fundamental rule all these games seem to cling to.

I'll introduce the topic with a little haiku-esque adage I heard just the other day while I took the mop to the floor.
"If the tank dies, it's the healer's fault.

  If the healer dies, it's the tank's fault.

 If the DPS dies, it's their own damn fault."

Most of you will agree that, although a bit extreme, most of the times the saying rings true. The tank is there to take the beating for everyone and the healer's there to make sure he can survive it. In doing so, he's perceived as a threat and it is then up to the tank to become an even bigger one. The dance goes on and on until things are rendered immobile and pronounced dead. This is not a broad sweeping statement. It covers mostly PvE instanced encounters of the softer kind. I acknowledge the usefulness of DPS classes and that they too have an important part to play but often times with a lesser responsibility load. And, usually, your choice of DPS player (not to be confused with character) is irrelevant while your choice of healer/tank combination is not. Is it any wonder everyone blames either the healer or the tank?

Life isn't made of instanced PvE alone is it? Let's take large-scale PvP then and the only true experience with it I've had. How would one rate this partnership then? Equally as important? Maybe. Ideally, tanks will be the ones to receive the burst damage from enemy lines and they will be relying on their healers to get them through it so they can cause the disruption they set out to do, all the while looking after the safety of their own files as well. This, to me, seems more of a one-sided relationship seeing as aggro isn't an issue and healers are a target regardless of a tank's efforts. Usually. That's when crowd control becomes the most useful. But the safety of DPSs is now an added concern.

So, what's my point in all of this? My point is this: why? Why is the mechanic always the same in that there has to be an archetype to take the beating and the healer to keep contesting for it? Oh, what is that you say? There's something coming out that goes against this premise?

Yes, from what I hear GW2 does not sport dedicated healing classes. And that, against all expectations, is what leaves me the most curious about the game. I've heard it say time and time again that healers are the demise of many a MMO. Which is harsh because it's what I am, a healer. But here you introduce to me an environment where it's every man for themselves in a big battlefield against other factions. It makes me curious.

I still haven't got the money for it and I am definitely inclined to give it the tOR treatment. Imma wait it out.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Terraria and My Aversion To First Person

You know when you get sideswiped unexpectedly? When something tackles you and changes you and you never saw it coming? Well circumstances dictated that I added yet another game to my current playlist, bringing the grand total up to four: WoH ( aaahh ^_^), Aion (oh :| ), Age of Empires (eh?) and Terraria (oO).

As with all the others (excluding AoE which is a relic from my youth), I was coaxed into playing Terraria. Less coaxed, more drawn into, in one of those occasions where you need to try something new to rinse your mouth from the taste of all the tried and tested games in your repertoire.

Terraria could be described as the love-child between Minecraft and a 90s side-scroller with JRPG aspirations. You dig, craft, build and kill. Not necessarily in that order. And if you're as adept as me you'll be doing a lot of accidental item throwing, cliff falling and drowning in two inches of water as well. I haven't done much of the building and crafting but that's simply because I am one to delegate. But, in consequence, I am not yet very familiar with the depth and complexity of said system although it has proved competent enough so far.

A cat within a cat
So why not play Minecraft instead, seeing as it's all the rage right now? I've tried Minecraft and there are two things who will, most likely, always steer me away from it. First of all, it's all the rage right now and I am repelled by hypes. I'm even considering not giving GuildWars 2 a try (was that a gasp I just heard?). I refused to dive into SW:tOR and we all know how clever a choice that was on my part (one of few). Secondly, Minecraft is best played in first person. I say "best" because I don't see the usefulness of having half my screen blocked by a self-representing fugly block.

I have this thing with first person in that it makes me nauseous. Physically ill. Like when you play Katamari Damacy for the first time or for too long. Or maybe that's just me. It is an attempt to mimic how a human perceives the world around it but my screen will never be wide enough to accurately simulate my entire field of vision, nor is there anything that can properly mimic where my focus rests except my own personal focus, which chooses inside my own field of vision and not just the screen and... Maybe I just over think it. Or maybe it's a kind of Inception effect.

I went off on a tangent there didn't I?

The main appeal of Minecraft to most people was the absolute freedom of the game and that progression revolved around the accomplishment of your own personal goals. I, for one, am a self-proclaimed sheep, meaning that I'd rather be told what to do and strive to do my best to accomplish it. I'm not a leader nor have I ever aspired to be one. So I'd much rather follow one to achieve a goal I relate to and believe in. In that respect, Terraria trumps Minecraft in that it actually has events that trigger and things to strive for. You can still dick about as much as you'd like but all of your exploration and subsequent gear progression serve to enable you to kill bigger and badder things.

All things considered, it is probably not a game I would devote many of my lonely hours to, what with my reluctance to create goals for myself, but it has filled the void born from a need to play a simple and non-massive multiplayer game. My void is filled.

Yes, I know how that sounds.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Taking Solace in Murderous Rages

It was the best of weeks. It was the worst of weeks. And then it was a gaming week. Which then turned into a full blown gaming month.

Around the first week of March I was a very excited young woman. You may have guessed why. I was on pins and needles and everything seemed like it might turn out ok. But lo, things did not turn out so. Like so many other facets of my life things went tits up, as it were.

If you thought I might have spent March playing Mass Effect 3 you would be wrong. It was my original plan, yes but, after a few hours of gameplay, my disillusioned self concluded "well, if Shepard doesn't give a fuck, why should I?" And so no, I have not yet seen the ending. Something tells me I'm a happier person for it.

No, my solace came in a very unexpected form. I had been playing most of the beta weekends of Wrath of Heroes and suddenly, they opened the servers 24/7. I found myself logging in more and more often, relieving me from the stress of grinding in the colorful and peppy world of Aion. Every day I seem to have less and less of a reason to go back to that game and every day that I do I struggle to find a reason to stay. We all know where this is headed.

Wrath of Heroes however, has griped me tight. It's the Warhammer vibe, no doubt, with its grittiness and kill thy fellow man motto. I have become very good at this last part, if I do say so myself. However, the game is not without its faults. It is an EA game after all, farted out by Bioware Mythic to retain the Warhammer IP or so I hear.

One of the things that irked me the most was their decision to change everybody's name to match their Origin ID. I didn't even know I had an Origin ID, I'd never even thought about it. It doesn't upset me as much that they did it than it does that they gave no fair warning and no subsequent explanation. Mythic is not well known for their communication skills with their player base and this does not prelude a positive change.

The game also still currently sports just three maps, which can get a bit old when you've tried and tested almost every strategy. In its defense, the game is still in Beta and we are hoping not only for the return of the old heroes but for the introduction of some new ones, new scenario maps and distinct queues for people in different mastery tiers.

In the end, like with most online time wasters, it's the people that keeps me coming back and that make the experience terribly entertaining. So thank you all for having me in your warbands and thank you to those that let themselves fall under my gobbo stick.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wrath of Heroes: In Need of a Gentleman Caller

Hmmm, yes I know how that sounds.

While I wait for further developments on several fronts, I've occupied some weekends playing the closed beta of BioWare Mythic's WAR inspired F2P, Wrath of Heroes.

If you're familiar with WAR but not so much WOH, so it goes that the game consists of basic scenario play with three factions, distinct from each other by color alone. You can pick from a variety of Heroes to play from, including Glowjob (I know that's not his name) the Shaman, Conrad the Warrior Priest and Korith the Shadow Warrior. For more detailed information go here. Or maybe ask me for it. But this is not what I'm here for right now.

You have the choice of pugging it out, hoping for a semi-cohesive group with people that half-know what they're doing (lol) or you can group up in a warband of six beforehand. The game actually incites you to group up as it not only reduces the time you have to wait for a pop but also awards you with more money at the end of a battle.

It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!
WOH has made something I used to know very clear again to me: it's all about the group as a whole. Just today (which is not actually today but more like two days ago) I was invited to a warband as soon as I logged on. I had no idea who had invited me and ended up amid strangers. Being the friendly healer that I am, I set forth to do my job, hoping that this Warband was somehow seasoned and people had pretty much figured out that the basic strategy for winning in a game where heals are restricted to AoEs is to stick together. How wrong I was. Six people spread as further as you can get in Mourkain Temple. So I facepalmed my way through a few scenarios, making what I hope were helpful suggestions but getting a lot of CAPS in reply.

Luckily for me, my effort was noticed by the leader of another Warband and I got a tell after a scenario was over praising me on my healing and asking if I needed to group up. Maker, yes. So I casually dropped the dysfunctional band I was with and accepted a new invite. And what a difference skill makes. In a game that has no gear or over-the-top skill customization, knowing what you're doing and grouping with like-minded individuals is all it takes to win.

Wrath of Heroes recently implemented something called Perks in their Heroes' mastery trees. These are skills that become available for activating once a certain criteria is met. The best thing about this is that you can buy one Hero and buy his Perk to utilize it on another Hero entirely. I say "best thing" because I haven't had to pay real money for Heroes yet. I guess that if I had it would be... not so great. But I digress.

The Skaven Hero has a Perk in his tree that allows him to turn into a Rat Ogre after a 13 assist streak. As a Skaven, assist streaks are a bit harder to get as it is a damage focused stealther. But as a healer... well... as long as your team is killing things, assist streaks are a dime a dozen. You can see where this is going, right?

Once I found a pretty decent Warband to join, things started melting like butter. Our six-man party consisted, most of the times, of three Shamans, the odd Warrior Priest, and two Engineers, sometimes a White Lion. When I got to use the Perk, the remaining healers did their best to keep me up and quite successfully. I once said I hated healers. I might have to recant that statement. The Rat Ogre has a pull on a one second cooldown (ô_Ô) and a knockdown with impressive damage on maybe a three second cooldown. It is enough to roflstomp most things without prejudice. If, added to that, you manage to find a boost that triples your damage, like I did that one time, you can knock things down for 1000 damage. 1k is the maximum hp of a  Shaman. So the Rat Ogre is fun. It is serious fun.

But I still haven't explained the title of this post, have I? Well.

Since joining an organized guild I became accustomed to a certain degree of organization in cooperative endeavors, especially when these endeavors consist of getting other things deaded. The main thing I miss about these groupings are the target callers. We'd always have one. As you would imagine, an enemy goes down faster when it has six people bashing it down than just one. A target caller, a person that can discern what enemy should go down first and says so, can be the most valuable weapon a faction has. It's the hand that guides the spear... or something equally poetic.

Managed a 15 kill streak before I died.
And since I'm horrible at staying alive, that's quite impressive.

Although we didn't have a target caller per se, WOH allows players to ping locations on the map, an easy, simple, straight forward way to get people where you want them. The main problem with this is that without a human actually yelling at them to move their fat asses, most people will take pinging more as suggestions than orders.

I've said it before and I shall say it again. Most of us players are mere sheep. Granted, some sheep provide better wool than others, but sheep. There are a few of us, though (no, I don't count myself among them) that are shepherds. (Ah, Shepard...) They'll guide the herd to safety and victory. These become your guild leaders, your warband leaders, your target callers.

And I wish I had one in real life.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WTF: Five Stages of Getting Over Yourself

WTF (Weekend Top Five) sounds much better than WTT doesn't it? No, its not a matter of laziness at all. Pfft.

Another post for posterity even if just my own.
For a change let's start at 1 and work our way up.

1. Disbelief
A brief moment when you can't believe you have to start all over again. But why is the rum gone?

2. Mourning

And then you realize you do and you take a moment to consider what the hell just happened.

3. Acceptance

Finally you're able to just look back and laugh at the whole thing and take it for what it's worth, hopefully remembering more good than bad.

4. New Interests

Not that you wanted to, but your mind branches out searching for something new to cling to.

5. Re-Attunement 
In the end (harr de harr harr), you decide to let sleeping dogs lie and life take its course and leave yourself open to like and love new experiences, things and people. And the helicopter.

I have to start posting more cheerfully. It might sound I'm depressed or something.

Oh fine, here.
Have another butt crack.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mass Effect 3: "Hi, My Name's Kaidan. Where're The Geth?"

I had a much worse title for this post but, watching the livestream interview with Raphael Sbarge, he dropped this line and I thought it a shame to let it go to waste.

We've been waiting for this one for a very long time, haven't we? Since the first one, actually, we knew it was coming. And word around the grapevine is that ME3 won't be the last of the universe we'll see. I read this on a magazine and I'm hoping they didn't mean more DLC. *shakes fist*. There's mention in there of an MMO but... well, we'll just have to wait and see.

But the demo came out recently didn't it? So let's talk about that.

I had previously mentioned that the whole reason that I wanted and eventually acquired a Kinect was ME3 and its voice commands feature. I was pleased to confirm that the game didn't give a rat's ass about the Kinect not allowing voice commands on the dashboard. It even has an option so you can choose your accent. I am yet to fool around with that one but it sounds promising.

Remarkably, voice commands were the last thing I tried on the demo. Throughout the first part I was way too hyped about killing things and finding a safe way to my ship to even remember to say anything. But then they kindly reminded me that I could and so I did. I started off giving off simple commands I was sure it'd understand like "Garrus, Overload" and "Liara, Warp" and then moved to "Garrus, Sniper Rifle" or "Liara, take point." All worked just fine. You can also talk to Shepard telling him/her to open doors or interact with obejcts but that, to me, just seems a bit excessive. While talking to your party members might add to the experience as a whole, talking to yourself is just a bit... sad. Overall I was pleased with the experience. Let's see how I adapt to it when not playing in the easiest difficulty setting.

Speaking of FemShep (I just did, didn't I?) I was pleased, like must of us were, that they decided to acknowledge how popular FemShep was and invest in her image and publicity. What I was not happy about was the obscene amount of make up she seems to be wearing. "Oh, the Reapers are here, are they? Let me just apply my eye shadow and I'll be right there."

The one thing I'm yet to give a whirl is the multiplayer. They sure tried to hype it up but I just wasn't in the mood or had the means to do it. But the sheer fact that they have hyped it makes me shy away from it. Dunno. Maybe it's good. I'll wait and see.

It served it's purpose, the demo. It got me a spoiler-free insight into the overall feel and gameplay and sated my ME thirst for a few weeks.

But did I just hear they are going to have DLC for it from day one? With a mother-fucking PROTHEAN in it? A race extinct for thousands of years? Oh Boo, EA. Boo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Life in MMOs For The Financially Impaired

What am I doing sneaking in at this hour of the night? Let's just say my mind and soul have been... entangled in other more... draining endeavors. Or some such. Oh, let's just not go there lest I begin to blush.

While employment seems a far-off chance in a place with 35% of so-called youngsters being unemployed, I turned my attention to F2P models. The fruits of the labor of so many that decide to share their worlds with us for (seemingly) nothing at all is particularly appealing, specially now that I blew the last of my savings on pre-ordering Mass Effect 3. I played the demo, giggled an obscene amount of times, tested the voice-activation, frowned at the amount of hugs I was denied from party members and promptly decided I could wait no longer. And so it was that I turned my attention to the world of "Free to Play"s

The first I decided to try was Star Trek Online. I'd heard interesting things about the game and I do like space, or the idea of space at least. I figured I might as well give it a whirl if the only thing they were charging was disk space. And so I rolled a healing type character which ended up meaning a support-type ship most of the time. I honestly hadn't expected the bulk of the game to revolve around my ship and that may be the reason why I haven't picked it up again. You see, I am terrible at navigation and seeing as I can neither swim, ride a bike, drive a car or stand up straight in roller-blades, one can say I'm not terribly good at basic locomotion either. Maneuvering a ship on a three-dimensional space while taking care not to blow up and attempting to shoot things down all at the same time proved to be a bit too draining. Plus, going through all that alone ended up not being as satisfying as I'd hoped.

I remembered I brought a copy of GuildWars with me from my previous life and thought that, since that one was already paid for, I might occupy my time with that. Also, I have heard of interesting things about GW2s three-faction open world WvWvW (read PvP) and this could be a good opportunity to re-acclimate to the environment and feel of the developers. Sadly, GuildWars demands I recall the name of one of my characters to be able to log in. I laughed hard, thought harder and then laughed a bit more. No, that wasn't going to happen.

I had also heard there was this new closed beta up of something called Tribes: Ascend. I had no idea what it was but I thought I had the time and the will to try something new and shiny and free. So, after some hardship, I successfully downloaded the game and it sits there still, untouched. I'm not sure if I'm afraid of outright sucking at a PC shooter or if I'm just too drained to configure my G13 to yet another experiment.

Then I heard Aion was also going F2P and, at the behest of a very compelling third-party, I decided to go try that one next. Unfortunately the F2P version has been announced, has been tested, is all but ready but not out yet. So I am down 30 gigabytes of disk space for yet no good reason.

So, at the moment, I'm waiting for Rift to finish patching since I heard they have a free trial now. Maybe that'll keep my thirst for healing sated until tomorrow. See, Wrath of Heroes' closed beta is up again tomorrow and, despite all its faults, I end up having a good time with it and with an F2P, that's all you really want, right?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blizzard Must Be Getting Worried

I wouldn't believe it if you told me but... there's a World of Warcraft commercial going around.

I can't in all honestly say if this was the first WoW ad to ever grace Portuguese television screens but I can say that they're everything but common. It's the first I've ever come across.

First thought that crossed my mind was "oh, TOR must be making a dent."

That's it. That's what I took time from my busy schedule to come tell you. :3 I'm a sweetie, I know.
You know how they say that looking for a job is a full-time job in itself? Well, it's not, but it sure is tiresome and frustrating.

Here, let me leave you with something a bit more rewarding.

My ass is behind the camera, not in front.

Friday, January 13, 2012

They're Killing Us

I'm not a politically conscious person. I've never been even remotely into politics or kept up to date with the state of affairs. I should, I know. These men and women are shaping the world I live in, I might as well know what's going on. Well, my posture might be about to change as they seemed to have finally started shamelessly killing us.

For someone on the outside, the economic crisis that is currently sweeping smaller European nations might seem overplayed. But from the inside your blood chills when you start paying attention to what's really happening.

I won't lie, some things might not be how I'll phrase them further down but this is what I've heard. This is what reaches the little people, the politically illiterate.

  • The most important aspects of our civilization used to be represented and managed by a Ministry: the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, so on, so forth, such like. We had a Ministry for Culture. They decided it was too expensive and we didn't need it.
  • The national health system used to be (mostly) free; for more crucial, life-saving drugs and treatments the government would pay the bulk of the price if not it's entirety; now, it has been proposed that anyone over the age of 70 with kidney problems that requires to undergo dialysis pay for it in full from their own purse. Dialysis costs €2000 a month. If they can't pay they can't get it and if they can't get it they die.
  • Young graduates have been advised to jump ship and look for work abroad.
  • They have been closing down hospitals, clinics and maternity wards. Even the pediatric liver transplant center. As a result, waiting lists have skyrocketed, people need to drive for miles or even to Spain to get to a hospital and children have died as a result.
  • Some people getting government aid were mistakenly given more money than they should have (around 570 million euros over the years). They are now ordered to pay back the money they were given with funds they didn't have to begin with.
  • The average pension for a retired person in Portugal is €400 a month. Some people in public office (in the present or past) are paid €600.000 a year.
  • Ports have been shut down for a week, workers strike
  • Mass transportation stops almost once a week, workers strike.
  • The government declared workers (and not just public servants, the private sector as well) should work an extra half hour a day. Employers stated they didn't feel that was the right approach and have claimed they would rather cut their worker's pay by 20% instead.
  • The  Madeira Autonomous Region had a budget hole of over 1000 million Euros they only recently disclosed to the mainland. Their government hasn't the money to pay public servants in the next two months. 
  • Also, that said government has failed to pay back pharmacies for the drugs they had been selling. Thee pharmacies were owed 77 million Euros from drugs the government was supposed to make available for the people. They failed to pay. Now patients with blood pressure afflictions must dish out around €60 for a box of pills.
  • A large number of people in positions of power have recently been outed as Freemasons and although I could care less what they believe in or where they shove their fingers in the late hours of the night, I'm concerned of where their loyalties lie and to what lengths they'll go to help and protect their "brothers".

This is madness. This isn't Sparta, this isn't Portugal, this is just shit. More than angry it frightens me. People who have worked their whole lives and have set aside some of their every paycheck so they would have their money back in their golden years are being shamelessly robbed, the government cutting their pension because "times are tough". People who have worked two jobs to do that same things now see only half of their money given back to them because "times are tough". Old people with measly pensions are denied vital drugs and treatments because "times are tough". Seems they're hoping we'll go gentle into that good night so they can stop paying pensions or healthcare all together. Weren't we supposed to be part of the so-called "civilized" world?

And where the fuck is all this money heading anyway? Who are we paying it back to? Europe? And who in Europe is in more dire need of money than us here, dying hungry in our sleep? So, we've been living above our means? I don't doubt that but why realize it now? Is it because the world is coming to an end and we better get our affairs in order?

The thing is we have no one to turn to, no one we believe will step up and take charge and make everything better for us and not themselves. We've been proven time and time again that all they'll do is blame problems on past regimes and kneel down to stronger economic powers.

Seems to me only Coca-Cola still believes in us.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mass Effect: Revisited and Dissected

Not so long ago, though it seems a lifetime, I replayed Mass Effect. I wanted to have the "perfect" save game for the upcoming ME3 and so I decided that the best thing to do was just replay the whole two first games.

When you come back to a game you love you take it with a pinch of salt brought on by detached perspective. That's what happened to me and I found a completely new set of things to love and hate about it.

Let's take one of the trailers.

Now, if you've played the game you'll notice a few things aren't quite right with this trailer. Noveria isn't actually in such a dire need for help as it may sound here. In fact, most of the people in Noveria are having drinks at the hotel bar or busy with their corporate espionage shenanigans. At best, Noveria has a slight bug problem in a remote research facility and this problem is being kept very much on the down low. None of those big mushroom clouds the trailer starts off with. Besides, you have to stop by Noveria eventually, its a mandatory storyline development. Another thing is that Caleston isn't actually an important place in the game. I'm not even sure it is explorable (although you can survey it in Mass Effect 2). It may just be one of the N planets that you go to to complete sidequests you stumble into. So what can we deduce from this? Noveria is making a big fuss over very little and Shepard has decided to go off and drive around his Mako for a while before actually heeding that overly dramatic distress call. But I'm just nitpicking

While we're at it let's discuss the Mako: without a doubt one of the sorest points of the game. Many rose up against its impossible controls and the usefulness of the thing as a vehicle. To be truthful, the Mako handles like a drug-frenzied baboon thrown off a gelatinous cliff tied to a bungee cord. You don't get much satisfaction from driving it. In fact, if you attempt to actually drive it you will most likely end up belly up in a ditch on a remote planet followed by a Game Over screen because Shepard is all about saving the galaxy and not hauling his ass out of a turtled vehicle and righting it. God forbid. The best way to get any handle on the thing is to simple turn its nose to where you want to go and keep pressing forward without any attempt of steering it whatsoever. In most cases, you'll get there, minus a little vehicle health.

The story is exactly as I remembered it, meaning it's good. Characters (except the two semi-optional ones) have enough depth that you can really get to like them or not at all. For instance, I love Wrex but I could do well without Liara and her 160 years of stuck-upness.

The human companions (the aforementioned semi-optional) are, for the most part, negligible. Ashley has that whole bigot thing going for her but, for personal reasons, that was never my thing so the gut-wrenching moment of deciding who lives or dies was made pretty easy. Kaidan, well... Kaidan is just the guy, like the one you'll bang because he's the only guy there. The voice casting helps, making him a bit more loveable to all things straight with a vagina. Males unexceptionally hate him because they hated Carth. And Kaidan is Carth, minus the stuttering, we all know this. He was put on this earth to please us little Carth groupies.

The whole game has a very distinct feel due to, in great part, the soundtrack. After listening to it out of context I realized it has much of the Blade Runner about it and although I was initially resistant to the song that plays during the credits, I eventually became a fan. Imho, it's so cheesy it works. And who can not love the sheer epicness of the main theme? To be honest, I only realized the piece's true worth after wrapping up Mass Effect 2 and heard the Suicide Mission adaptation of it. But it's going on my top ten favorite instrumentals of all time.

But, in the end, for me Mass Effect lost some points on the whole elevator business. Not elevators in general, mind you. I kind of like it when my companions banter. In fact, I spent a lot of time in Dragon Age finding banter trigger points so I could pass over them frequently just to hear the dialogue. No, my gripe is with that very specific lift I like to call  the TLX 008 WXM AT. In that one single place I would have preferred a loading screen.

There's more I could say but the game speaks for itself. All things considered, not the best of games for a shooter lover but a solid title and a good jump-start for bigger and better things.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Comfort Food

So. Yeah. Might have left this on a bit of a depressing tone. But bad things happen and you deal. Life is for the living and all that.

While I grieve the loss of my old life and start building a new one I'm planning on drowning my sorrows on a few oldies but goldies I found lying around. I might pick up Dragon Age or KotOR again. Funny how I find most solace in Bioware. Funny or predictable. Your choice.

Also amusing is that I am now apparently the proud owner of a retail copy of World of Warcraft which spiked my interest for about 3 seconds. GuildWars is sitting right next to it, though... Hmmm.

Well, I prolly won't have much time for playing whatever anytime soon, just a few minutes/hours at bed time. Packing and unpacking is always a bitch and I should know, I've done a whole lot of it these past few years.

I just hope I actually get to play something soon so I'll have less gloomy things to post about.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

one of those days

You know those days when you wake up after 30 minutes of sleep in unfamiliar and uncomfortable surroundings? Still, you wash your face and muster some determination to march forward and do something good and worthwhile and you even find a song to get you through the day with a smile.

And then a friend calls you. You haven't seen this old friend in a long time, he's moved away and you've missed him. For half a second you think this might be a good time to catch up to go catch some air, maybe laugh a little at the whole thing. Until you hear the panic in his voice and as his world shatters so does yours as he tells you that what was once a common friend has died and he's in desperate need of help. As your knees falter and you crumble to the floor in a heaving heap of limbs your brain somehow manages to get him what he needs and you're left there, alone with news you're not sure how to process.

Because you'd never known someone that's died. Because you're not sure if you can handle more grief. Because you were never really close. Because you were maybe unkind and brutish when you shouldn't have been. Because you're not sure if you should but in.

And so you're left alone on the floor gasping for breath and begging for a minute, gladly forgotten for what feel like years instead of hours. You stare out at the gray sky that just yesterday was so warm, inviting and promising and you send through what little social feelers you might have that whatever might be wrong with you you'll gladly put aside to help. Because you don't want your friends to suffer and you don't want to add to that. So you're left to contemplate your own mortality and how petty some things ultimatly are, left alone to commit a final act of selfishness in a relationship that never really was. Again.

So. It's one of those days. One of those days when all you want is a hug but all you can do is rant on your special little ranting corner for the reading pleasure of people whose business it is not.

But hey. This blog is for me. Said so from day one. I'll need to see this one day, when I'm older and happier and look back pointing and laughing at sad little young me.

The Happiest of New Years

Decided on a resolution. My resolution is simple: my mother knows best. I'm going to listen to her from now on.

Surprisingly upbeat today. I guess the closing of a door always means the opening of a window, my window being the chance to reinvent myself. No pressure this time, at least I don't think.

My mother always said that the best attitude was a "I'll show them" one. And I did say I'd always listen to her.

So here's to my mother, the wisest of them all. And hey 2012 means not only the end of the world but also the arrival of Mass Effect 3. That in itself is pretty damn good. The game part not the...

Happy New Year.