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PC Game Review: Mass Effect 2

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The Mass Effect series, developed by BioWare, published by EA games, adds to the list of reason’s I love gaming. While it doesn’t push any outlandish ideas like pushing a giant ball to collect the universe, nor does it introduce a new way to blast enemies to kingdom come, it did what no one else was able to do: craft a story that could only be told in its medium.

Thane Krio's is SO COOL!

Holy crap! That man's face is GREEN!

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Written by vigorot

March 8, 2011 at 6:53 am

Mass Effect

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Mass effect

For comparison sake this game is like fallout in space.  Which in this case a good thing?  A rich but generic story: you a human space solider who after surviving the horrors of war are tasked to save the universe from an impending doom.  You recruit cool and sexy aliens to help you and have to use your wits and your gun to solve various tasks and problems.  Also like a certain show called “firefly” you find out about the Reapers who are a cosmic threat to all life and have to stop them.  In Mass Effect the Reapers are a race of giant ghost ships with cool and scary powers.

Story: like I said a generic you are chosen to save the universe blah, blah.  But you are in total control of your decisions (most of the times)to do whatever you want to save the universe.  Your decisions affect game play and how the story will progress.  While some elements feel drawn out and predictable the player is given a lot of control and power in the narrative.

Game play:  Third person shooter with RPG elements is the basic core of game play.  You fight in a team of three and use your cool futuristic powers to take down the bad guys.  You can use your standard guns or if you picked to be a different class you can use biotic powers.

Driving levels: some levels make you drive a space buggy around the only problem is that the controls make it seem like you are being pulled by a blind horse.  And some of the physics of the land seem to be upside down.  I remember this one time I hit a pillar or something and the buggy flipped over.  It seems that the weight of the buggy could not overcome the small pillar and weight apparently didn’t matter since it looked like the buggy had the same weight as paper.

Explorer: the game does offer a lot of places to check out.  Letting you go out and walk around really makes the universe feel like a huge place.  But then you run into the end of the level and the feeling is gone.

Items: the items get annoying if you don’t keep up with your inventory.  You get too many items in my opinion.  Buying some items is useless since you probably will find it anyway, many copies too.  So money is pretty useless in this sense, but you can buy some upgrades but they just make things much easier then really help.  I played my first run without buying anything and after playing it with some upgrades it feels as though the items could have been taken out, and the items were just there to make people not whine about how hard the game was.

Problems? The game runs pretty good on the PC.  A few graphic problems here or there but nothing that a good restart didn’t fix.

The Verdict: Story and game play was very fun. I really enjoyed the powers and guns.  Minus the driving parts I think this game is pretty good.  –Buy it.

 

Written by Theonlypersonhere

February 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm

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Fallout 3

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Now I know fallout 3 came out a while ago but I only got a chance to play it now because of hardware issues.  The Shank review is coming up short thanks to the fallout games which I finally got running smoothly on my new alienware laptop, also don’t buy from HP.  Great printers but I rather not trust their computers and laptops.

Fallout 3

First person/ third person shooter with RPG elements like levels and items.  There is a cool feature called VATS that allows the computer to shoot/hit things for you based on the percentage of your weapon skill, how far away you are, and any other skill you have.  It is a free roaming environment where your actions and decisions affect the game play.

Beginning story is that you grew up in Vaults; underground bomb shelters are built to preserve mankind of nuclear fallout.   Your dad escapes outside which is unheard of and you decide to follow him.  And then that’s it you can do whatever you want at this point.  You can follow in his footsteps or try to make a life for yourself in the wasteland.

There are also Perks which are extra abilities you get every time you level up.  They range from gaining more strength to being able to pick locks better.  So the cool thing about Fallout is that you can do whatever you want and there will be consequences.  Do good deeds and good stuff happen do bad things and people will hunt you down.  Solve problems by talking or you can use other means.  Follow story lines or not you have total freedom to do whatever you want.

Overall I liked it but a lot of glitches caused me to be less immersing in the game.  The perks and some of the skills didn’t affect anything at all.  You are free to do whatever you want but there are always consequences.  I feel that there needs to be another way to travel.  Sure you can teleport to the location once you find it but you have to find it first by foot.  That can take a while and I would like a vehicle or something to make the trip a little easier.

Game finished on normal played 37 hours without any expansions.  For fans of Fallout or of unique RPGs in general BUY IT.  For those who like a linear story this may not be the game for you because there isn’t a straight path to do anything in this game.

Side note added (2/25/11):

Running it on a multi-core PC I have run into various problems.  The freezing: game runs fine for like an hour and it just locks up.  Ctrl+alt+Del do not work sometimes and I would have to manually shut down.  Certain places in the map have caused the freeze or when entering a building.  Certain missions have crashed the game because I either killed the wrong person or caused too much damage.  This isn’t entirely the game’s fault since sometimes the gun fights get very brutal and I have to pull out a mini nuke.  NPC’s get stuck walking to me or talk endlessly.

The fix: The patches on the support site have worked to lessen the problems, but it’s not perfect.  Trying different settings and turning down the graphics down have seemed to work for people.  There is no panacea potion to fix this.  Many different people have different solutions some work others don’t.   It’s all a matter of trial and error.

I will say that Fallout New Vegas is less prone to theses environment game play issues.  Playing it on the console I have encountered less crashes and weird graphic problems.  Playing it on the PC I found that the game runs very well.  Occasionally crash here or there but it runs.  I know I don’t have a review of New Vegas but I thought I should compare it to fallout 3’s problems here.

 

Written by Theonlypersonhere

January 18, 2011 at 1:13 am

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Trine review

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Trine for the PC and PS3 is an action side-scrolling puzzle game. The game features three characters a thief, a magician, and a knight. The player switches between them and uses their unique abilities to get across a level.

The story is the three characters stumble upon a magic item called the Trine and when they all touched it their souls become bonded and only one of them can physically move while the other two are stuck in the Trine. The main characters thus search for a way to separate their souls.

The gameplay is a basic puzzle side-scroll much like Mario. You get through the level by using the three characters powers. The thief has a grappling hook which she can swing across and arrows that can push/destroy targets. The magician can move objects and create boxes and planks. The knight has a shield and sword. By using these elements the player has to survive the level and discover experience and items that will help you along. You use their abilities to solve puzzles like getting to the top of the level to pull a switch.

This game looks pretty. The level designs are unique and refreshing. The character themselves aren’t as well-crafted as the scenery but you can tell them apart and they standout well. The areas are well detailed and defined. When you are playing a forest level you can see the well-drawn leaves, grass, and trees. There are some platforms and bridges that may look out of place but are well detailed. You can see the joints and metal frames. Torches and candles in the game give you the primary light sources in dark areas.

In the end I liked the game. It was fun and challenging at times. Combat is solid; mouse clicks for shooting arrows and swinging swords. You draw a box with the mouse for the boxes and a line for the planks. But toward the end the magician could create many boxes and planks which made the game a little too easy. I filled up the level with them and made it a whole lot easier. The other character’s upgrades weren’t as significant. The thief could shoot more arrows and then fire arrows. The knight gets a flame sword which isn’t as much stronger than the original.

Written by Theonlypersonhere

February 24, 2010 at 12:10 am

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Review: Prototype on PC

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Prototype is an open-world sandbox game akin to GTA. For those unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, you are basically given a giant environment and you are free to explore at your own pace, given a basic objective and side missions scattered all over. In this setting for Prototype, you are Alex Mercer, a man whom has suffered amnesia, with only a gist of whom you may be and endowed with incredible powers; you seek out answers to why you are this way and who’s responsible.

At least, that’s how it would’ve started if the game didn’t already drop you near the end of the story, you are given a very basic tutorial of general things such as jumping, attacking, targeting, along with a crash course on one tenth of your powers. After your little taste of super Alex, you are put back to the beginning of the story where he has yet to accumulate the strength you had just seen.

So right from the get go, you already have an idea of where the story is headed. You witness NYC covered in “the infection”, which can be described aesthetically as ketchup and hardened meat fat spread all over the place by a lawn sprinkler. You can hear all the screams and wails of the not-yet-infected citizens and the unintelligible growling of the was-too-slow citizens. This will give you some context on what will happen as you progress and witness the events unfold.

Prototype Box Art

Story: A little spotty. While I didn’t expect an award winning material from a game like prototype, I expected it to feel less rushed. The voice acting felt a little rushed, some of the lines felt like they were all read in one breath while others felt like the voices were attempts at establishing a character type but then felt flat. This mostly applied to the main scenes earlier on.

The presentation of the story wasn’t too flattering either, with some unnecessary shaky cam in cut scenes and character animations that simply aren’t good. Nice try but the end result isn’t very nice.

However I will give them props for what they did in the latter half of the game where the story picks up with a lot more interesting elements along with a pretty clever plot twist. At least, I most certainly didn’t see it coming. Even with this though, the first half is just too poor to sit through just to get to the later portion.

Game Play and Mechanics: At its heart, Prototype wouldn’t be too far away from other super powered sand box games and it’s fun. You are given a large array of abilities that by majority add flavor to the chaos. You have your claw ability that lets you serve as a blender on legs, the hammer fist ability that lets you pound tanks into soda cans, and even a whip arm that will allow you to grab and pull either yourself or the target  towards each other. You’ll find yourself traveling the city mostly by roof top, running up building walls, gliding from skyscraper to skyscraper, jumping, and sprinting the way super humans usually do in movies and comic books. All these elements as a whole give you that omnipotent feeling of a super powered mutant with the world in its hands, which is until the military breaks out the missiles.

In this game, you can buy abilities with Evolution Points, granting you access to more and more powers as you go through the game. You can earn EP by killing enemies, collecting the orbs that they drop most of the time, collecting special orbs around the city, completing side missions as well as completing events in the main story. As you progress through the story, you get a chance to buy more abilities that weren’t available before, giving you some incentive to progress through the story line. A very basic formula of these game types, and that’s what you’ll find here.

The targeting system can be very iffy since the game will automatically target what it thinks you should be targeting. Sometimes this works great cause you don’t necessarily have to have this target in view for the game to pick it out for you, but half the time it’s telling me to keep my eyes on a tank 2 blocks away while my face is being pummeled by a crazed mutated gorilla. You can use the right analog stick to change your targets but this doesn’t always cooperate as well as you think cause sometimes it would cycle the same couple of targets, or it makes you cycle through the crowd of soldiers in front of you before you can get to what you want.

The game also has what we all now know as Bullet Time or that slow camera trick thingy from the Matrix! While many games of all kinds have this little mechanic, I appreciated how it was implemented here. Usually on-the-fly ability/weapon switching in other games can be detrimental to your survival because while you are thinking about what you should use, you might already be cake frosting on the wall before you figure it out. In Prototype, the game will actually initiate bullet time every time you bring up your menu ring of all your abilities neatly categorized for their purpose. While this little instance of bullet time is brief, roughly three to four seconds, it gives you a little breathing room to decide what power to switch to and you can do this at any time short of a cut scene; although I did notice if you constantly do this it takes a little time for the game to catch up. You’ll also find these little camera tricks when Alex uses one of his Devastator attacks, his version of a smart bomb so to speak; it’s purely aesthetics and it certainly does look nice.

Sound: Most of the time you’ll be hearing screams of the civilians running away from the infected and the military blowing up said infected. Voice Acting runs a flat early on, while the only real significant voice actor is Alex himself, and even then it sounds like he tries too hard to be angst. A majority of the voice track would be the generic “disembodied military general gruff” placed behind “tons of images sequenced together at 100 miles per hour.” Nothing really note worthy otherwise.

Graphics: Like many sandbox games, the environment is quite bland compared to Alex himself. NYC has many faithfully recreated land marks but anything outside of that is “generic building A” and so on for the rest. Alex himself has extremely well detailed transformations and all his powers have a very unique look from each other. The grunt units, while mostly generic in design, actually have quite a bit of detail on them from the hand gun in the holster to the shining lenses on their gas masks. The Tanks are also exceptionally detailed. Oddly enough the Helicopters have the least amount of polish among all the vehicles since you do zoom in really close to it and see the extremely low res texture on the copter’s wind shield.

A game like this wouldn’t be very entertaining if it was ever ridden of anything to kill, thankfully, the game provides that in endless amounts of destructible objects, civilians, military grunts, giant infected called Hunters, and so on to keep you entertained. If you ever needed to blow off some steam, Prototype will provide. This is especially true if you’re a New Yorker such as me. This is all pulled off without dragging down frame rate down to the single digits and that’s quite impressive.

Conclusion: I could go on and on about the mechanics that drive prototype and what makes it both incredible and disastrous but I could do that till I’m blue in the face, as you can tell, I already wrote many paragraphs on just that alone. The game is quite spotty with its elements. Its main appeal for me was its combat and the super powers, that being done admirably and I hope more games in the future could feature such elements again. I would like to see, however, a better told story along with a better designed environment.

All in all, Prototype is most definitely fun at its heart with some issues that drag down the experience, it’s worth a rent for anyone interested in the whole Supah Powahs genre of video games, and this is actually as good as you’ll get in the sand box spectrum. However as for a buy, that’s a call you’ll have to make.

Notes for the PC Version: I have noticed while reading forums that the PC version of Prototype is riddled with significantly more bugs than the console version, some of these bugs I’ve encountered myself. One of these bugs was “Assist the military till you’re called back to Base” and when I destroyed the hive as instructed, the mission would not progress. You were basically stuck. I had to shut down the game and then load it again to fix this bug, no dying and re-spawning and check points was able to fix this issue. There is also some graphical differences between NVidia and ATI video cards, namely the ATI cards has a significantly worse looking game with some software compatibility issues on lighting in all the wrong places, giving you shadows where they shouldn’t be. It’s hard to say if it’s just because of ATI because other games I own don’t have this kind of problem, such as Batman and Bioshock. Chalk this one up as another sloppy port.

This review was based on my experience on the PC version of Prototype downloaded through Steam on a AMD Phenom II x4, ATI Radeon HD 4890 drivers updated as of Feb 3rd, 4 GB DDR3 Ram, OS Win 7. Used a XB360 controller. Finished game on Normal Difficulty, 90% of powers unlocked. Barely touched side missions.

10.9 hours clocked according to steam.

Written by vigorot

February 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Game reviews

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