Archive for the Geek Stuff Category

Mass Effect 2

Posted in Geek Stuff, Mass Effect with tags , on April 17, 2014 by pieman70

Continuing my review of the Mass Effect trilogy I will now cover Mass Effect 2.

As before I will be revealing spoilers for this and the previous game.  If you have not played or finished both Mass Effect 1&2 I would advise you to go no further.

There is no real need to describe the mechanics, gameplay largely follows on from the first game with some differences I will cover later.

The game begins explosively when an alien ship attacks the Normandy, ultimately the Normandy is destroyed and Shepard is killed rescuing Joker.

Jump several years later and Shepard is revived by a militant, pro-human group called Cerberus, who were encountered as antagonists ins side missions during ME1.  The base you are being revived on is attacked and Shepard has to team up with Cerberus agents Jacob and Miranda. In this sequence there is an interesting scene where you are interviewed regarding key events of the last game.  This was to allow people who were not importing a Mass Effect save game to set up the required history for the current game and does show what decisions actually carry over.  Namely, who you romanced, Did wrex survive, who died, did you rescue the council and who you recommended as the human council member.  Basically 5 decisions.  Take note here because I will re-visit this in te next game.  Anyway, basic plot is that human colonies are being attacked by a race called The Collectors, who are abducting the colonists and vanishing.  The Alliance is not taking action and the citadel council don’t believe the near legendary collectors are involved so Cerberus are going to deal with the problem independently leading Shepard into an uneasy alliance.

More on the plot later, first I will talk about some of the gameplay tweaks.

First, the MACO tank is gone.  Planets still have to be explored for side missions and to collect resources for upgrades, but this is done from orbit.  To explore systems costs fuel and probe that have to be bought, and I couldn’t call planet scanning interesting but it is strangely addictive.  Do a mission in a system and you may find an hour slip away as you scan each and every planet near the relay.

In the main part, guns now have ammo, so clips need to be collected, but are universal for all weapons.  There is also the option for a heavy weapon, different types of which become available through the game and require separate ammo.  There is also limited melee combat.  The weapons upgrading has been massively simplified.  Ammo upgrades are now gained through your character levelling, so you can now swap in ammo types mid combat which adds a good strategic element.  The weapons now get one upgrade through the game and a second upgrade can be found on one weapon later on.  I actually preferred this, possibly because I’m not a hardcore RPG player and so hunting for the ideal combination of ammo, weapons and enhancements holds little appeal.

Finally the conversations have been tweaked a little, the wheel is still there but it isn’t always obvious which answer will be paragon and which will be renegade.  In general I like this but at times you pick an option which seems reasonable only for Shep to say something really evil on occasion causing much shouting at the screen.  There are now also paragon or renegade interrupts where a mouse click can force a paragon or renegade action which I quite enjoyed.  As always decisions made have plot consequences.

To the plot, this game is very well written.  It uses familiarity from Mass Effect to really involve you in the characters plot.  For starters each squad member has a loyalty mission, an optional quest to aid one of your team mates.  Again this helps in the final mission and nets extra upgrades.

There is also a neat bluff.  The video that runs if you leave the start screen up shows only the new characters like Jacob, Grunt etc but none of your previous crew.  You even meet Tali on your second mission but she doesn’t join.  At this point I really thought my previous team mates would only appear as characters to talk to and I would be dealing with an entirely new crew.  Accepting this I went to start gathering my new squad, first trying to find a vigilante codenamed “archangel”. As you hear more about him he sounds faintly familiar.  When I finally realised that Archangel was Garrus I took on the mission with renewed enthusiasm and finally meeting him genuinely felt like meeting an old friend.  While ultimately Garrus and Tali rejoin your crew you will meet everyone who survived and each reunion is emotional and satisfying.  The new characters develop and, partly thanks to the loyalty missions you will bond with them as well.  In fact the Loyalty missions are worth a mention in themselves.  Each character will ask you to do an additional optional mission.  In the game this makes them more likely to survive and unlocks some extras, but it works narratively as well.  You are working for Cerberus and need your crew to be loyal to you, not the organisation.  Ultimately only Garrus and Tali join your squad and there is a lovely moment on teh citadel where they joke about the long lift rides of Mass Effect and start trading banter.

Overall the game is a vast improvement on Mass Effect.  The tweaks to combat mean that gameplay is enjoyable and no longer something you tolerate to see the story.  Voice acting is of the usual quality, and the pacing works well.

As for my specific path, everyone survived the suicide mission and I destroyed the collector base.  I also preserved the geth heretics.  Finally for romance, after being dumped by Ashley for joining Cerberus there were several options.  Eventually I went for Tali.  It was odd how involved you get in the story.  Initially thinking of who I would romance with my new in game single status I was surprised when I realised Tali was an option.  It was like having a good friend who you suddenly see in a different light. Made for a much more satisfying sub-plot than the more basic romance of the original.

On DLC I actually didn’t net much but you don’t seem to miss much.  Apparently much of the DLC can be done after completing the game which Seems fair.  I do consider this run done for now but may run through all 3 with all the DLC at a later date.

So, we end on a cliffhanger with the reapers on their way we will see how Mass Effect 3 goes.

Neeeeerds!

Posted in Geek Stuff, Life with tags , on June 10, 2010 by pieman70

I recently had the good fortune to attend a meet of some of the Scottish members of SFX Magazine’s forum in Glasgow.  It was good fun, yes it was only an afternoon and there were only 8 of us, but as a geek, being in the company of other geeks is fun.  In fact, this is true in general and regardless of the focus of your geeky tendencies.

In a recent Top gear the challenge was to buy a classic car and race it in a classics time trial event.  At the car auction at the start Clarkson and Hammond were being slightly disparaging of the enthusiasts, the John major voice came out along with the classic phrase “I think you’ll find” which is now pretty much used inside most fandoms to represent the joy in geeky pedantry.  However by the end they were ruminating on how nice it was not to have to hide the excesses of their hobby (In this case, cars) and this is what I get when I meet up with reilly2040 and other nerds, you can use references as humour, in jokes and talk about the subject of your geekery without fear that the other parties will be bored or about to mock you.  In short this is presumably what fans of football and trendy music, plus probably eastenders and “in” TV shows get every day.

You see, just about all of us have something that enthuses us; I have a good few, must be a personality trait that I take laser like interest in various things.  None of them particularly useful (My wife wished I’d do the same but with Plumbing, or gas fitting, or car mechanics) If you have a hobby or an interest, you are probably a geek.  Yes its usually bundled on for Sci-Fi fans, but geeks take many forms, and indeed, within their specific geek/nerddom there are subdivisions going to a fractal level, You like Cars, well are you interested in mechanics, motor sport or cars themselves, Cars?  Supercars, performance, classic, vintage or Modding?  With subjects like cars, most music and gaming, plus the obvious SF and Fantasy, we know we’re nerds; the difference is in the ones who have massive fan bases, making interest near universal, Football, Sports in general and fashionable music.  You meet people who have a great interest in these subjects, but would never call themselves a nerd.  Sir Terry Pratchett has pointed this out on many occasions.  There is sometimes a sneering “I’m not like you” from the football fan, or the guy on his way to a trendy indy gig.  In truth the only difference is the football fans biggest fear is being the lone supporter in a workplace, while SF fans have to feel out others like us.

It’s why all the smaller fandoms meet, be it in Metal Bars or at the end of station platforms.  We all know the score in those locations and we can bring down the screens that we put up to interact with everyone else, all of whom are similarly hiding their own secret Nerd tendencies, we’ll play up our interest in football, (Or indeed talk about that as it may be as big a love as our love of Motorways) but somewhere you want to talk about something else to a like minded person.

So, attend meets, talk on forums and engage with your fellow geeks.  You won’t regret it.