By now, if you’ve followed Mass Effect in any way at all, you’ve probably heard the brouhaha about the ending of the third game. There are a lot of problems with it, but the deeper meanings are lost among the complaints. This should go without saying but this post will contain spoilers on Mass Effect 3′s plot and ending.
So, let’s talk about the ending. Continue reading
“A new species is being born.”
I missed the theatrical run of X-Men: First Class when it was released in June, but I was able to get my hands on an advance copy of the Blu Ray. I immediately watched it upon returning home, and this was probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made with regards to movies. Apparently in an effort to distance the movie from its predecessors (with good reason – X-Men and X2 were great, but X3 was pretty terrible), Director Matthew Vaughn has decided to start fresh with a new team of X-Men – the first team, to be exact. There are some familiar faces from the original trilogy, but many are new, with only four of the main characters in the movie having appeared before, though two of them are central to the movie’s story.
The film’s plot revolves around Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, the future leaders of the mutant race. The movie centers on their conflicting opinions and the dynamic of this dichotomy is largely what makes it so compelling. We see their progression from normal men thrust into the role of leadership without any warning or preparation. As the movie progresses, it is quite obvious, even if one has never read the comics, that their differing views on how mutantkind should move into the future would form a rift between the two, despite their alliance and close friendship.
So I replayed Final Fantasy XIII. Yeah, I know I said it was terrible, but the thing is I wanted to get the Platinum trophy and having 26% on it made it kind of an eyesore on my list, so I delved back in from the very beginning, hoping that I wouldn’t have to expose myself to too much of its cancerous influence. For a while, I still hated it. The battle system took too long to get into the swing of things, the characters were still idiotic, the story was still poorly paced, the datalog was just a mess of information required to understand the plot (such as it is), and the plot twists were just insipid. Then, it got better. Whuh?
It started in chapter 11.
During my period without a computer I ended up watching the Darker Than Black season 1 DVDs I had bought but never opened. The last anime I watched being Full Metal Alchemist, a franchise I has been reading/watching for close to 9 years, Darker than Black was sort of unknown territory for me, as I knew next to nothing about it outside of the fact that it involved characters with superpowers, which is always a plus for me; I loved Heroes before it jumped the shark and devolved into idiotic nonsense and absurd character arcs.
The concept of each character having a different ability and how each conflicts are resolved in the context of those powers was always interesting to me, because the abilities are only as useful as the people who wield them – someone with super strength might be able to crush a car with one punch but pit him/her against a speedster who knows the full potential and limitations of his/her powers, and it’s doubtful he’ll even be able to land a single punch.
But I digress.
At first I was turned off by the episodic format of the series and its reliance on the villain/threat of the week (one of the reasons I stopped watching Smallville in ita first season), but as the series wore on it became apparent that each two episode arc was connected to all the others in subtle ways, revealing just enough to keep me interested whole hiding enough to keep me guessing. Every episode contributes something important to the finale, be it a character, an item, or an answer to a question that hasn’t been asked yet; by the end everything seen in the normal episode arcs comes into play at one point or another. By the end of the seasons, a lot of the smaller questions are answered, but many of the more pertinent enigmas still have no closure. It also helps that aside from the main cast, character presence is never guaranteed, so a good deal of characters die off over the course of the season, many of them unceremoniously. Even then, this isn’t necessarily limited to the supporting cast either – the presence of the main characters is constantly under threat, and by the end it’s hard to tell who will die and who will survive. Continue reading
So in the end is Dragon Age 2 a worthy sequel to Dragon Age: Origins? Yes and no.
In many respects it’s an improvement; a more fluid battle and interaction system, better skill trees, and an all-around more interesting story as compared to the original game. The graphics and artstyle are likewise something I believe have been improved over the original game. The characters are endearing, if tip-toeing suspension of disbelief, and the writing is still as excellent as it ever was. Continue reading
So I’m finally back after over a month without a computer, with a long overdue continuation of my review on Dragon Age 2. It may seem too little, too late, but as my review would be incomplete without it, I’m pressed to finishing it instead of letting it hang.
A lot of negative opinions are surrounding the battle system, and for the life of me, I can’t really figure out why. A lot of people say that the battle system is ‘dumbed down’ or ‘panders to the masses,’ and is not as deep as the battle system in the original game, but the truth is, the battle system hasn’t really changed since the first game, outside of having to continually click/press a button to keep attacking. Lack of auto-attack is a pain in the ass, but outside of that nothing else has really changed. Positioning plays a bit less of a role in battle (as an example, rogues don’t really need to stand behind an enemy to backstab them effectively). Battles still have you taking control of one character in a four-man band, and the mages are still one of the more powerful classes, but rogues and warriors are still incredibly fun to play. Continue reading
Bioware’s games are most praised for excellent writing, both in terms of story and in terms of character dialogue. Dragon Age: Origins had an incredibly well-written script with a decent story and excellent characters. Some of the best dialogue and narratives that can be found in RPGs can be found in Bioware games. Obviously, they’re not the only good writers in the industry, but they’ve made a name for themselves for creating some of the best that can be found in games. Dragon Age 2 continues that trend, but falters in areas that are baffling.
The core elements of the story are much more compelling than that of the first game. Origins was a game mainly used to establish series lore, and the story was a driving element of that goal, as it amounted to little more than ‘unite the races, destroy the big bad evil dragon.’ What made it interesting was the friction and conflicts between the myriad races and factions. As the Grey Warden traveled through the lands of Ferelden, it led him into contact with various groups of people, and s/he would be forced to solve conflicts within said groups before they would lend their aid. While this seemed like a trite storytelling method, its main goal (in which it succeeded admirably) was to establish each race/group’s outlook and interactions, both among themselves, and in terms of other factions which may hold diametrically opposed viewpoints. As a result, each group, while having its fair share of fanatics and loyalists, also harbored fair-minded individuals that held respect or sympathy for the groups that they are in conflict against. Continue reading
My love for Bioware games is well known; I enjoy their games thoroughly and play them through multiple times and explore them extensively to try and see everything that is possible within them, from the largest events to the smallest dialogue branches. Dragon Age 2 was released recently, and there has been mixed reaction among critics and fans. Some are saying it’s a decent follow up to the first game, and others are saying it’s basically Bioware’s Final Fantasy XIII – that it takes the well established beginnings and then pisses the potential all away. The actual truth is more moderate, but much more to the tune of the former rather than the latter. I actually have a lot to say about the game, so I’ll be making this a multi-part review spanning the next few days.
The original Dragon Age (suitably titled Origins) was an expansive game with an entire country full of dangers and discoveries. Exploring it was no small task, as every corner had something to be found: a new item or piece of equipment, a piece of the game world’s lore, the start or component of a quest, something to converse with your companions about, whatever. It had a large game world with a variety of locales with different cultures and unique people, each environment allowing the player to discover more about the game’s world. It was basically to establish the lore of the Dragon Age universe, as there was just enough information to inform players, but aside from that the rest of the world was a mystery, especially since players only got to explore Ferelden, and only read about other places through the in-game codex – the nature of some of these locations were an enigma even to the game’s own characters. Continue reading
In the Gears of War universe, there is an affliction named Rust Lung, which afflicts those who breathe in vapors of the fictional fuel imulsion. It’s referred to as Rust Lung because of the brown-red colored phlegm/sputum that people would cough up after contracting the disease (likely blood). This wasn’t a problem pre-Gears, because most of the imulsion on the planet Sera was a liquid found underground. At the end of the first Gears of War game, however, the main character’s squad exploded a bomb in the middle of the stuff and ended up vaporizing it, causing this new disease to surface in the populace.
It’s a phenomenon not wholly unseen in the real world. Continue reading