Posts Tagged ‘Bioware’

Gaming: March 2011’s Games

April 15, 2011 2 comments

On time for once (and coming straight on the heels of February’s), here we have the March round-up posts. This month we kicked off with the books I read and now it’s time for the games I played:

Squashing twelve separate images into a 425x90 image is kind of difficult. Its also incredibly time-consuming, comprable to the amount of time it takes to write the entire post. In fact I spend a fairly ridiculous amount of time assembling the images for each blog post.

Images sources: Conan, Donkey Kong, Benny, Trip, Kane, a wizard, Liu Kang, Tommy, Nathan, Randy and Father Mother.

I think I’ve got am okay system in place now for gaming, but I’ll cover that in the goals section at the bottom of this post. Let’s get straight to the gaming then:

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Gaming: Dragon Age: Origins – Bloodbeard

April 2, 2011 3 comments

I’ve been sitting on Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition since Christmas (insert ‘not literally!’ joke here). It’s a game I’ve been really looking forward to playing but haven’t simply because it’s so long, by most counts clocking in at well over one hundred hours if you want to do everything (which I do), and I think that might not even include all the extra content that comes with the Ultimate Edition, including the Awakening expansion… thing. That’s longer than I sunk into both Mass Effect games when I played them last year and they took up two months of play time, and while I’ve slightly rejigged the time I spend playing games since then it still means Dragon Age: Origins could consume months, which I’m reluctant to do.

The obvious solution to that though is simply to not focus solely on the one game, giving this a day or two out of every four and playing other things on the other days. That does mean I could spend most of the year working through the game but I think that could make for an interesting experience, like when I jumped into the chunky Wheel of Time books by reading ten in a row and was immersed in that world for months. That’s assuming Dragon Age: Origins has a world I want to spend that much time in, of course.


Even if dwarves have some kind of great tolerance for heat it still can't be that pleasant to live beside a river of molten lava.

I might be racist against elves. I don’t what it is about them, but as they’re presented in the works of Tolkien and everybody who has been influenced by him (ie. most fantasy authors) I’ve never liked them. Immortal, aloof, usually quick to bandy about condescending phrases like ‘lesser races’, while also considered wise and fair and generally the best people in the world. Something about all that just rubs me the wrong way and I’ve always had an affinity for dwarves, who are generally the coarse, violent brawlers who usually also happen to be racist against elves (the same applies to orcs, who I also have a lot of fondness for but who often aren’t playable characters in RPGs).

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Gaming Mass Effect 2’s Universal Appeal

December 19, 2010 1 comment


If the game detects a Mass Effect save then key choices from the first game alter the sequel. Presumably it's these choices that will be part of the motion comic that will come with the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2.

(Click the image for a link to the source)

Though the original Mass Effect did a lot of things right, few of those things were with the actual game sections. The combat was basic and rough, the sidequest environments were dull and generic, the interface was horrendously clunky and on the 360 it struggled to run at an acceptable level. Mass Effect 2 solves pretty much all these issues, as has already been detailed at length in the Second Coming posts on this blog (parts one, two and three) and for the most part won’t be covered again here. Any technical or mechanical issue from the first game has been improved, replaced or flat-out scrapped and the sequel is better for it, and where relevant Bioware have even done a good job of explaining most of those changes in-universe rather than just radically altering things and acting like nothing happened.

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Gaming: Second Coming – Mass Effect Part III

December 11, 2010 2 comments

This is the final of my three-part series of posts looking at the improvements Bioware have attempted to make between the first two Mass Effect games. You can read the first part here (which covers combat, sidequest integration and sidequest level design) and part two here (covering galaxy exploration and interface, general interface and mingames) or read on for part three:


7) Checkpoints and Autosaves

Image sources: Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2

(I couldn’t really get a suitable picture so I went with Geth instead)

This maybe doesn’t seem like such a big deal compared to some of the subjects so far but when a game gets this wrong it can be incredibly frustrating as you’re forced to replay huge chunks of a game over and over. As I mentioned in my recent post about Mass Effect it really did have poor checkpoints and autosaves, mostly because every area would only have one, right at the start. Land on a sidequest world and the game autosaves, and then you could spend twenty minutes driving around in the Mako to explore the area, enter a building, fight through a couple of rooms, get killed near the end and be put all the way back to when you first landed on the planet. Main story worlds were not much better, forcing you to replay huge chunks if you’d forgotten to save recently, and which happened to me quite often because I’m so used to games  taking care of such things for me nowadays.

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Gaming: Second Coming – Mass Effect Part II

December 8, 2010 3 comments

This is the second of a three-part series of posts looking at the improvements Bioware have attempted to make between the first two Mass Effect games. You can read the first part here, which covers combat, sidequest integration and sidequest level design, or read on for part two:

Galaxy Exploration & Interface

4) Galaxy Exploration & Interface

Image Sources: Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2

In Mass Effect the galaxy map was essentially an elaborate menu. The overview showed every cluster you knew about and clicking on one would go down a level to show every system you knew about within that cluster, while clicking on a  system would take you inside to see the planets. To explore and scan most planets you clicked on them and, if there was something there, clicked a button to retrieve it (the same button would get you to land on the planet when that was an option instead). It wasn’t very involving but it did what it needed to, although some of the buttons didn’t do exactly what you would expect and it was easy to accidentally cancel out of the entire interface by mistake, and outside of the main quest planets tracking down which ones you needed to visit for each sidequest was cumbersome (you can read an in-depth breakdown of the galaxy map’s problems on Game Design Reviews).

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Gaming: Second Coming – Mass Effect Part I

December 3, 2010 5 comments

While you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression it is still possible to really turn things around with a sequel (Assassin’s Creed is a good example, having turned a relatively disappointing début into a critical and commercial success with Assassin’s Creed 2). With some time to go before I’m finished with Mass Effect 2 and ready to put up a final opinion post about it I’ve decided to do a direct comparison of what I feel didn’t work in the original game and what Bioware have done to try and fix that in the sequel (so essentially it will be like my Bioshock 2 opinion piece unintentionally ended up as).

So far Mass Effect 2 feels very much like most sequels these days, directly building upon its predecessor’s technology and re-using or tweaking existing assets while attempting to iron out the flaws (the other type of sequel being something along the lines of Bioshock Infinite, preserving core concepts while being far removed from the original game), so how many of these improvements were successful? This comparison will be broken down into sections and, thanks to my general inability to keep things brief, will be split across three separate posts rather than one huge one.


1) Combat

Image sources: Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2

As I mentioned in my brief post about completing Mass Effect again I didn’t find the combat in the original game to be anything more than okay. Using a different team with more variety definitely helped but it was still nothing more than a basic third-person shooter, lacking the balance and design of something like a Gears of War or Uncharted (games focused around third-person shooting) as well as not having anything like the strategy and depth of a classic Fallout or Baldur’s Gate (games focused around strategic, pause-heavy combat).

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Gaming: Completed Mass Effect

November 18, 2010 1 comment

I did plan to use a new image but it's so much easier to reuse the same one than find a new pic and resize it. Plus the Normandy still looks great.

As expected, the length of the game and my diminished play time meant that my replay of Mass Effect took some time, with almost a month passing between this post and the one I made about starting it. I have completed it now though and my opinion hasn’t really changed. The combat was definitely better this time around having a full biotic Shepard partied with Tali and Ashley, instead of my original soldier-heavy choice of soldier Shepard with Wrex and Garrus, but it’s still not great and fights against biotics (which actually aren’t that common) can leave you ragdolled on the ground unable to move while your health is drained, which is never fun.

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