Archive for January 28th, 2010

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Mass Effect 2 Companions: Gotta Catch ‘em All!

January 28, 2010

Yes, that’s right. I made a Pokemon reference.

Warning: The following post contains spoilers for Mass Effect 2 (and to a lesser extent, Mass Effect 1). You have been warned!

Areas covered: The Convict, The Krogan, Horizon, The Quarian, The Assassin, The Justicar

My adventures with Mass Effect 2 continued over the last two days as Shepard travels all over the galaxy recruiting her team for the final mission against the enemy. Three days of playing under my belt and I’m still not done getting them all (yep, this is going to be a loooong game)! And wow, what a great bunch of characters. I’m already frustrated that I only ever get to take up to two of them with me out on missions.

I did notice one thing as I was playing. So far, Mass Effect 2 is fitting the “formula” that their other games tend to follow, i.e. completing the initial mission, followed by going to 3 or 4 different places before going to a final destination, which then culminates in an epic conclusion. In Mass Effect 2, the initial mission is there and I don’t doubt that we’ll get an epic conclusion, but the difference is in the stuff that happens between them. Instead of getting 3 or 4 long missions to do, here we’re getting almost a dozen missions that are relatively shorter, in the form of recruiting members for your team. I like this better in some ways, as we’re getting the opportunity to explore more environments and meet more characters.

My FemShepard is still no big fan of Cerberus, and I had quite a good time pushing Miranda’s buttons when I recruited The Convict, who took up residence down in my hull (hmm, do I really want some psycho mucking about near the engines of my ship?) The Subject Zero proved to be no less irritating, unfortunately, as she tries to convince me what a bad ass she is by bragging about her past shenanigans–vandalism, stealing a military ship, destroying a space station…well, guess what? I’ve done that all too, bitch.

What she lacks in geniality she makes up for in fighting prowess, however. Jack is an absolute monster in combat, with her insane ability called Shockwave. Being a Sentinel with some biotic powers of my own, I had a lot of fun throwing enemies around with her.

My next stop was to pick up The Krogan on Korlus, which is a literal scrap pile of a planet (why don’t I ever get to recruit from paradise worlds with tropical beaches?). After grabbing him, he too gets stashed down in the cargo hold, which I guess is where I’m keeping all the crazies. On the surface, Grunt is your average Krogan who just lives to fight (also in accordance with his backstory) but his “no point” pun about Turians actually made me LOL. Guess that laboratory tank also programmed him with a sense of humor.

Meanwhile, my assistant Kelly Chambers seems very interested in Garrus. *Gasp!* So not only does she steal my haircut, now she’s out to steal my Turian too! Though she does admit we’d make a cute couple.

My recruiting is interrupted by an emergency stop on Horizon, where I have to defend the colony from a Collector attack. The Praetorian boss fight kept giving me trouble until I worked out a strategy which involved it focus firing on me while I kited it around a bunch of crates in the middle, giving towers time to take down its shields. Not two minutes after the boss goes down, Kaidan Alenko steps out from behind a bunch of crates to welcome me back to the world of the living…with a damn hug. Where the hell were you when I was getting my ass handed to me by a bunch of Husks?

Predictably, Kaidan is not pleased that I had joined up with Cerberus, and refuses to see reason. Typical angsty Kaidan. Congratulations, you just made my choice to cheat on you in this game that much easier.

After Horizon, it was a quick stop off on Haestrom to recruit The Quarian, who turns out to be none other than Tali. The combat here was made more interesting by the fact you had to avoid contact with direct sunlight, which made for a lot of running around from one safe spot to another while trying to fight off waves of Geth.

With Tali safely on board, I took a break from the main game to pick up Zaeed. Not much to say about him, really. He’s like Shale from Dragon Age: Origins in that he’s a new character available at launch through DLC, but unlike Shale he neither has the interesting backstory or the winning personality. I don’t think I’ll be using him much.

Then it was off to Illium for The Assassin and The Justicar. Here, I finally got to meet Thane Krios, the dark and brooding Drell who talks like he’s from an Anne Rice novel. Jacob seems to take issue with my decision to bring a dangerous assassin on board, but given we already have a tattooed psycho and a violent and unpredictable Krogan in our hull, I think an assassin’s the least of our worries. On Illium, I also encountered Samara the justicar, a “warrior monk” type character who rights wrongs in the galaxy as defined by her strict code of justice…and I suppose running around in a skintight low-cut jumpsuit is part of the job description. Her character is interesting in the way it allowed me to see the motivations behind my choices to kill or not to kill when I play Commander Shepard. I’m a Paragon, no question about that, and will only kill when it’s absolutely necessary, even if it means giving a criminal a second chance.

With just about the full crew on board, my entire ship is accessible to me now, though EDI still keeps reminding me politely when I’m in the wrong restroom (that thing sees way too much!) Next step: gaining loyalty!

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Allods Online Astral Ship PvP

January 28, 2010

I’ve had some more time with the Allods Online beta, mostly playing during the couple of hours right before I go to bed. There’s just something so relaxing about leveling in that game that makes it the ideal end to a day.

The progress has been slow (blame Mass Effect 2) and I’m only halfway through level 13. I’ve since joined a large guild made up of a long-standing community of gamers so there’s always something going on and always someone willing to help out. No date has been set for the open beta (the closed beta will run until February 3rd, but thus far there has been no news of what’s going to happen after that) but that hasn’t stopped the leadership from doing some pre-planning. I received some good news yesterday, that the guild will be starting on a PvE server come that day…if that’s an available option. I certainly hope it is; nothing is more frustrating to me than being bashed over the head with a player enemy’s cudgel while I’m trying to do something like a little harmless herbing.

I’m not strictly averse to PvP, however, especially when you see the type of astral ship action you get at higher levels (the video at the bottom of that link is worth watching). I’ve been doing a lot more reading into PvP in the astral, and it sounds too good to be true. Real people will be running the functions of these enormous ships in real time–everything from steering, shields, engines, navigation, cannons, you name it. These player-manned ships will fight other player-manned ships, until eventually the players themselves board each other and battle it out mano-a-mano. The game then takes that whole piracy aspect one step further as the winning team gets to loot and plunder the defeated crew’s cargo of treasure before destroying their ship.

Is it really as good as it sounds? Some of the players on the Russian servers (they’re already in open beta) say it is. If that’s true, I’m even more amazed that this game is a free-to-play. When’s this thing going to come out of beta so I can start, dammit?

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