Sunday, December 16, 2007

Shepherding the Galaxy

Mass Effect has been battling with Halo 3 as my most anticipated game all year. I've been playing Bioware's offering right from Baldur's Gate, though I did come a few years late and I've still not completed Throne of Bhaal. Jade Empire was OK but Knights of the Old Republic rocked and is mentioned in the same breath as Jedi Knight, TIE Fighter and Republic Commando as the truly good Star Wars games. Since Mass Effect seemed to have a lot in common with KotOR I couldn't wait.

The KotOR comparison is quite apt as it is easily the true successor to the Star Wars game. Biotics fill in for the Force and Lightsabres have been abandoned for squad combat. The squad combat is a bit of a problem though. The intelligence of your squad can sometimes be questionable with them making odd decisions during a fire fight. Though that's nothing compared to the enemy AI, during a conflict with a lot of bad guys they are seem to make the decision that running at you then circle you at a distance of a few feet is a good tactic. Once you've thinned their numbers you finally get a decent fight from cover but it's tainted by the stupidity of their colleagues.

The vehicle combat can be a bit unwieldy to start with too. The first time I took the Mako out for a spin I came across a huge Dune-esque worm called a Thresher Maw which promptly destroyed my little Mars Rover. This was a problem for a lot of the early fights, you're thrown in the deep end with the Mako and expected to survive, as time goes on it does get easier with experience plus a couple of the skills you have improve a few stats on the vehicle.

The assignments, or side missions as they're more commonly called, leave a bit to be desired. Apart from each building being one of three layouts there's some missions that have no substance to them at all. Take for instance the group Cerberus who crop up through out the side missions. It would have been nice to to deal with all these little bits of their group and slowly find out more about the higher ups eventually leading to a fairly substantial quest where you take out the leaders. Unfortunately, the leaders are the second group you take out, not that they look or act any different to anyone else, you're just told they are in charge and the rest of the Cerberus quests are cleaning up the remaining mess.

But all this complaining is too much. I am enjoying the game a lot, but its one of those funny games that you can't tie down what exactly it is you're enjoying about it. That said Bioware's new conversation system is a work of genius and a fantastic step forward for the genre, though I have had a hiccup once or twice where Shepherd said something I wasn't really wanting him to. I'm looking forward to the sequel and the downloadable content, and I'm pretty tempted to go back through it and see how it plays when I'm a evil git.

Monday, December 03, 2007


I have to admit I'm getting really pissed of at myself for not posting more often, its not like I'm short of topics either. Plenty of major comic stories going on, and I'm even reading some. Sooo many good games coming out in the run up to Christmas its ridiculous. Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Guitar Hero 3 and Mass Effect are all subjects I can talk about. I think that's the main problem, I'm trying to complete so much that the bit of time I'm on my computer is spent trying to catch up on the sites I regularly visit. So a quick run down of recent events is in order I think.

Halo 3 rocked and I spent one Hell of a lot of time playing multiplayer. I was kinda disappointed that the campaign was so short but with the way the trilogy finished I feel quite happy with. But I left Halo 3 MP way before I was ready to and there was one reason for that.

Call of Duty 4, my God this game rocks. Right now I'm pretty tempted to label this one as my Game of the Year but we'll wait and see. Multiplayer is immense and the Baboons are one nasty team to come across. Is quite likely to take the thrown from Halo 3 and Rainbow 6: Vegas as my most played online.

Guitar Hero 3. Boss Battles are SHIT! At least in single player anyway, I've yet to play one in multiplayer. Overall I'm happy with it, but it's Guitar Hero so you can't really go wrong. I can't shake the feeling that Neversoft haven't quite got it and 4 will be the one that really shows that, 3 comes across as the "We need an engine that matches Harmonix's". Co-op career was very nice though.

Mass Effect I'm gonna leave a bit longer before I talk about it because I'm about halfway through and liking it so far. Assassins Creed I'm getting for Christmas so that can wait too.

On the comics front Messiah Complex is shaping to be a good X-Men crossover which I nearly didn't bother with due to too much other stuff going on. Sinestro Corps continues to impress but is starting to dwindle with the infrequency of the titles recently. Booster Gold's new title is great and another I nearly missed out on. Top Cow's First Born and Pilot Season are both something I really wished I hadn't bothered with.