The will likely be spoilers, but should I talk about something super new I'll warn ya. But consider this a pre-emptive warning! You're WARNED!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

30-Day Mass Effect Challenge: Day 6

Favorite sidequest

No doubt, Mass Effect blows ME2 out of the galaxy when it comes to sidequests. Not only is it simply a matter of quantity (there are about twice as many sidequests in the first game), but for the most part they're a bit...mmm, beefier, I guess. Don't get me wrong, Mass Effect 2 has some great ones- the first time I wandered around the wreckage of the Estevanico, worried it was going to teeter off the cliff, I frequently held my breath. And checking out the Normandy crash site? Pretty haunting. But too often the ME2 sidequests were just go here, set a timer, run! , and as a result they felt a bit like padding...not that I don't do them all during every run.

The events in Mass Effect were far more engaging, I thought. Wiping out pockets of geth infiltrators, helping to defend an outpost from rachni invaders, negotiating with a cult leader, investigate the nefarious dealings of Cerberus...all more substantial than simply, I don't know, turning on a shield generator. But more importantly, nearly every ME sidequest had dialogue, which infinitely helps to make them engaging. In the sequel, Shepard and her pals were nearly silent through every sidequest. It's jarring. And it stinks!

My favorite from either game? I Remember Me, which is available to a Shepard with a colonist background. Shepard is charged with talking down a recently-rescued slave from committing suicide. It's heavy stuff, very well-written and completely heartbreaking.

huggin' it out with Talitha

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

30-Day Mass Effect Challenge: Day 5

Favorite loyalty mission

But they're all so good!

Okay, I'm not wild about Grunt's, but even that is saved by having an awesome reunion with Wrex. But really, though each loyalty mission is different in terms of the gameplay style, the amount of combat, and how much Shepard actually has to do, they're all quite emotionally engaging. Shep has to make some tough decisions- or encourage others to do so- as her companions sort out shit from their pasts in order to better focus on the present.

I love Samara's, wherein you accompany her to Omega so she can find and kill her daughter Morinth. Shepard working his/her way through the nightclub to draw Morinth's attention is hilarious, from punching out a lecherous turian to this:

(seriously, "I do wanna think that!" makes me laugh out loud every damn time I hear it)

Then, if you successfully arouse Morinth's interest, there's the BAMF showdown between her and her Justicar mother, which culminates in Shepard choosing which one will die.

Great stuff! But my favorite? My favorite, I think, is Tali's.

Visit the quarian flotilla, get all And Justice for All as you defend your bestie against bogus treason charges, and kill a shit ton of geth...yes please. There's tough combat. It greatly develops Tali's character and her relationship with Shepard. You help steer the course of the frickin' galaxy as you advise the quarians as they consider all-out war with the geth. And you get to hear voice work by Claudia Black in the role of Admiral Xen. Ain't nothin' not to love here!

You know, I just thought- why don't the quarians have clear face masks? Would it make a difference to them? At least they could see each other, geez. I know it's a conceit for the game to make 'em more mysterious and all, but in their universe, what the heck?

Also, for some reason, I thought maybe quarians do this so they can make out with each other (or Shepard) easier:

Also, I'm very very tired.

Monday, February 27, 2012

30-Day Mass Effect Challenge: Day 4

Favorite storyline mission

Easy peasy: Virmire (Mass Effect)

What begins as a lovely Mako ride on the beach in search of an infiltration team with whom the Council lost contact turns into a real kick in the quad real quick...and at least one of your teammates will die. I mean permanently die, not comic book come back to life in twenty issues die!

Battle your way through countless up with the salarian infiltration team who informs you that Saren's base is here on Virmire. And he's building a krogan army thanks to a possible cure for the genophage. Uh oh.

Wrex gets up in your grill about that genophage cure, rightfully concerned about the future of his people. Everyone points guns at everyone. Is disaster averted, or does Wrex bite it right there on the sand?

Your team splits up- based on your decision, either Ashley or Kaidan will head off with the salarians to create a distraction. The other will stay behind and arm a nuke that you're going to use to blow up Saren's base.

Choose two more team members and lead tham into the base and find evidence of Sovereign's hinky mind-control powers with oodles of indoctrinated salarians milling about within and without prison cells. Decide their fate! Set them free, or leave them to die in the blast. Meet up with one of Saren's scientists and decide her fate- tell her to split, or kill her.

Inside the base, fight your way through more salarians, krogan, husks, and geth. Then when you come across another prothean communication beacon...effing Sovereign shows up and makes with the smack talk.

Shit goes down outside- geth are swarming around the nuke! Run back and help! But now the geth are swarming around the distraction team! You can only save Ashley or Kaidan. One of your crew must be left behind to die in the nuclear blast.

Then Saren decides to finally show up, riding around on his space scooter and throwing explosives at you.

Fisticuffs ensue! Shepard gets in a nice haymaker before it's time for the nuke to detonate. Haul your saved teammate onto the Normandy and get the eff outta there. BOOM. Have some cries.

Yes indeed, Virmire is one of the most epic storyline missions in the series. It has everything! Ah the action! Oh, the pathos! Ooh, the music!

I love the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2 almost as much, but Virmire is just the most.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

30-Day Mass Effect Challenge: Day 3

Favorite companion(s) in Mass Effect 2

This choice is much harder because there are so many more companions this time and I like a good number of them. I might have to choose...more than one. That's life on the edge, friends. Anyway, here are the contenders for my heart!

Kasumi Goto

If you're all "Kasumi WHOto?", then dig it: she's a companion available with the DLC "Stolen Memory". The DLC itself is fun- a heist caper providing a nice change of pace from the usual. A master thief, Kasumi's got a pretty useful skill set and a great sense of humor. I bring her along on other missions once in a while, but on board the Normandy she's a little lackluster due to her DLC status. "Conversations" with her are strictly one-sided, though she proves to be insightful regarding all your crewmates.

Zaeed Massani

Zaeed is the other DLC companion, and interacting with him on the Normandy is the same deal it is when you talk to Kasumi- one-sided. He's a badass merc jerk, but I like him okay. I don't usually bring him on missions, though, even if his combat skills are useful. I just don't think about him, I guess.

Jacob Taylor

Oh, Jacob, you are so boring! Boring boring boring! And not particularly useful in a fight! And when I try to talk to you, you usually get snippy with me! I hate that it's always you meeting and greeting the new recruits and offering up your unbidden opinion on everything! Therefore, after Freedom's Progress, you stay on the Normandy. Then I trot you out for your loyalty mission, then I stuff you back in your room for the rest of the game. Jacob must have fans, right? I've never heard tell of one. Still, Jacob's not my least favorite ME2 companion. That honor goes to...

Urdnot Grunt

This guy. People love Grunt, I know. Maybe simply because he's krogan? I don't know. I don't get it. All he talks about is fighting, but not in an interesting way, like, say, Wrex telling old tales. Grunt is just "I want to kill something! Grr!" and that's it. He really bugs me, so again- on the Normandy you stay, except during your super-dull loyalty mission (come on- yes, there are some cool krogan to talk to and the such, but the mission itself is lamesauce). Grunt, I know your biggest crime is not being Wrex, but still. You suck.

Jack / Subject Zero

Hoo boy, people hate Jack! From her homicidal tendencies to her belt-as-shirt to her whole look and personality and everything, most folks loathe poor old Subject Zero. Me, I think she's effing hilarious. She's a must-have in my party from the moment I recruit her- not only because of her kick-ass biotics, but because of her banter, which frequently makes me laugh out loud.

Garrus Vakarian

Garrus gets a major personality upgrade in Mass Effect 2! It seems that taking a missile to the face gave him a sense of humor in addition to a tapestry of scars. I like him so much more here than in the original game, and yet...and yet...I still rarely have him tag along on adventures. There are just too many companions I like more than him. Sorry, Garrus- but don't worry. You are number one in pretty much everyone else's book.

Thane Krios

Mehhhhh. That's kind of the only reaction Thane elicits from me: mehhhhh. He's alright. I suspect he's wonderful if you have him for a FemShep romance option- he's all smoooooth or something. But otherwise, I dunno. He stays on the ship.


Samara, what is with your outfit? With the high heels and so much BOOBS everywhere? I mean, dress however you want, but geez. See, there's Morinth, your Ardat-Yakshi daughter, who literally uses sex to kill. She's seducing her way through the galaxy wearing...a commando uniform that pretty much covers every inch of her body except her head. Then there's you, a warrior monk of unbelievable power, fighting your way through the galaxy in the name of justice. You're not interested in sex at all (YES I ASKED)- only righteousness and battle- and yet you wear...high heels and a shirt open practically to your waist. What gives?

But! All that aside, I loves me some Samara. I wish she were available in the first round of recruiting, because there is not enough time in the game after you get her to experience all of her awesomeness. She is a beast in battle (particularly if you unlock 'reave'), and I really love the bond that develops between her and Shepard. I find her life to be quite fascinating, and I really wish she was slated to be a full companion in ME3.

Mordin Solus

Oh muh gah, Mordin. He is the best companion I never take anywhere! I just love him, though I always leave him in the lab. Of course there's the Gilbert & Sullivan moment, but it's the Shepard don't hit on me conversation that really kills me. LOVE.

Miranda Lawson

Here's another character people seem to really hate. It's understandable- she's a Grade-A Bitch for a good chunk of time after you meet her, and yeah, nearly every conversation with her throughout the game revolves around her griping about being "perfect".

But! I don't see "Wah, I'm perfect" as one of those complaints some girls make- you know, when they sigh "Oh, I'm so fat" or something when they are not at all fat whatsoever, simply because they want your response of "Oh, you are not at all fat whatsoever". The thing is, your personal aesthetic preferences aside, Miranda is perfect. As she says, "it's just a fact"- she was made that way. She was made! She wasn't born, she was crafted from a pile of genetic goo (scientific term) by her power monger father. Miranda's "whining", as some see it, is all about her trying to figure out her purpose and her place in the world. It's a sort of universal thing- why am I here? I like the fact that she struggles with those kind of questions, and I really like that her relationship with Shepard evolves into one based on loyalty, friendship, and trust.

And I like that she basically tells The Illusive Man to eff off.

And, her "perfection" extends to combat- she has the most broadly-useful skill set out of any companion. Some are superior at fighting organics, some at fighting synthetics, while Miranda is great against everybody. She's indispensable as far as I'm concerned! Would love to have her in ME3.


That Legion, he's pretty dope with his teaching me all about the geth and his Shepard-worship. That Legion, he's recruited so damn late in the game that he never gets to go anywhere with me except for the geth base during his loyalty mission.

Tali'Zorah vas Neema

If I loved Tali in Mass Effect (I DID), then I lurve luff loave her in Mass Effect 2. She's all grown up and a highly respected member of the quarian fleet, leading teams into dangerous territory and getting shit done. Unfortunately, I don't find her quite as helpful on the battlefield as I did in Mass Effect, which is understandable. The types of enemies faced is drastically different in the second game. I still bring her along as often as I can, though, because Tali is my homegirl.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, it doesn't make much sense that you can't romance Tali as FemShep given Tali's behavior during the game. She's flirty and nervous quite frequently, especially when talking about linking envirosuits and how intimate it all is and all that. After her loyalty quest (if, you know, you earn her loyalty but WHY WOULDN'T YOU IT'S TALI YOU MONSTER), her dossier (at the Shadow Broker's pad) updates to show she's been installing nerve stim packages to her suit and researching human body language and mating and courtship rituals. What the heck? She's clearly crushing on FemShep, BioWare- just let them make out!

Again, it's probably pretty obvious who my favorites are. That's right- favorites. I honestly can't choose just one. So...

Samara, Miranda, and Tali

Okay, if you put a gun to my head and you were all "ONLY ONE!", I would choose Tali. But then I'd ask why you thought it was so important you had to bring a gun into it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

30-Day Mass Effect Challenge: Day 2

Favorite companion(s) in Mass Effect

This decision has taken me no time! But let's meet all the contestants, shall we?

Ashley Williams

I don't know why I like Ash, and I certainly don't know why she's pretty much always my Virmire survivor. She's xenophobic, although she softens up in that regard a little bit. She's all religious, which is fine, but it's nothing she and my Shep would bond over. And the poetry! She's such a weirdo, but she's lively enough that I like her. Still, I only take her on missions where I pretty much have to (ie the first time truckin' around the Citadel).

Kaidan Alenko

Oh, Kaidan, you're nice. But so boring! And in the early stages of the game you just die, like, instantly and after I'm not stuck with you, I tend to leave you in the depths of the Normandy, where you stare at screens and wipe the sweat away from your glistening brow. Then I leave you to die on Virmire. I'm sorry.

Actually, I did a playthrough once where I forced myself to bring Kaidan along on every mission and he wasn't so bad. I enjoyed talking to him and when he levels up some he can kick a bit of ass. Hmm. Maybe I should let him make it to Horizon in Mass Effect 2 once in a while.

Urdnot Wrex

Wrex is my bro! Simple as that. Who would ever kill Wrex? Only people with no souls. But! To be honest, I don't keep him in my party all that often. I don't know why, since he can certainly be a tank. Just one of those things.

Garrus Vakarian

I know people really, really love Garrus. They really do. I am not one of those people! I like him okay, I guess, but mostly he kind of bugs me. He's super whiny. Maybe I just don't level him up enough, but I don't see where he's a combat powerhouse or, stay by the Mako, Garrus, and allow me to change your opinion on everything with my mighty powers of persuasion!

Tali'Zorah nar Rayya

Yesssss, Tali. She is a party mainstay from the moment we meet on through to the end of the game, handling all the tech skills (like...umm...unlocking doors) and dispatching geth with ease. I always help her out on her Pilgrimage, and I listen to every long, boring story she tells.

Liara T'Soni

A lot of people can't stand Liara, and I get that: she's a huge dork, coltish and weird, and on a level that maybe shouldn't matter but actually does, some of her VA's line-readings are...terrible. But I don't care! Liara is the best. She's a scientist, a big ol' archaeology nerd who gets herself into trouble and fumbles her way through social interactions...and yet, she's strong. She's been essentially on her own since a (relatively) young age, enduring scorn from her fellow asari for her choices. She's estranged from her powerful mother, who she ends up battling to the death. And man, she is a menace on the field, throwing enemies around like ragdolls. Liara has saved my ass on many occasions during a fight...then afterward, we make out and probably talk about history! She is all win.

So, if it's not super obvious by now, my favorite character from Mass Effect is...

Liara T'Soni.

Friday, February 24, 2012

30-Day Mass Effect Challenge: Day 1

Sure, I can't squeeze in all 30 days before Mass Effect 3 hits, but I feel like doing it anyway, so there. Feel free to play along in the comments, or if you want to play along on your own site, link it up!

Do you prefer Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2?

Don't make me choose a favorite child!

It's a tough call, to be honest, although comparing the two is a bit apples and oranges, they feel so different to me.

Mass Effect hit me out of nowhere- "I really dig Knights of the Old Republic," thought I. "I will try this game!" and WHAM- I was in love. Even though it vaguely follows the same pathline as KotOR, ME was really like nothing I'd ever played before. The missions! The companions! The exploration! The Shepard! The epicness of it all truly dazzled me and I played it so much I thought my roommate would end up killing me or smashing the disc.

Along came Mass Effect 2. I got it the day it shipped, but I didn't crack it open until the weekend so I could basically do nothing but play it interrupted. I was that excited. I don't know what I was anticipating, necessarily, but I don't think I anticipated quite so many changes. My companions, mostly gone! Liara is being such a bitch (DID WHAT WE SHARED MEAN NOTHING)! Where's my inventory? Everyone has, like, four abilities now? But I have email!

It took some getting used to, but I loved it as much as I'd figured I would. It lacked that certain wonder of its predecessor- the galaxy was no longer new. Naivety and wide-eyed exploration was a thing of the past. Shepard was tired and frequently drunk, working with an organization she loathed toward a seemingly impossible goal. Mass Effect 2 is a pretty dark game.

For all the changes, ME2 feels more solid, I guess, than ME. While it's not as customizable in terms of abilities and skills, there's really no denying that the gameplay is tighter and better in the sequel. And while inventory is one of the best things in an RPG, I'd rather have none than that unwieldy mess we got in Mass Effect. But if we're talking story in general, the first game is tighter and better. Sigh.

Boy, that's a lot of blah blah blah...and I still don't know the answer. Maybe I should just base the decision SOLELY on which game I've played more often, or which one I'll pop in when I feel like firing up the Normandy. Otherwise, I'll be here forever. So, I choose...

Mass Effect 2.

If Mass Effect had the same gameplay style as the sequel I would have chosen...ARGH I have to stop. THAT WAS SO HARD TO DO.

Where do I begin?

The other night I fired up Mass Effect to begin my super canon totally complete epic do everything ME 1 - ME 2 run in anticipation of the March 6th release of Mass Effect 3. My FemShep needs to be ready to roll for galaxy savin', you know? (OH MUH GAH I CAN'T WAIT). In fact, this run is the only thing that got me to take Skyrim out of my Xbox 360...which I think is going to be Mass Effected for a long time to come.

But when grabbing the game off the shelf I noticed that for the first time in my life, I have a stockpile of games I haven't yet played. A stockpile. This is really not like me at all- I tend to be a very...mmm, orderly gamer, I guess. I buy a game, I play it to completion, I move on to the next. Though I own several platforms, I don't ever play more than one game at a time- my brain can't handle it! Okay, maybe I could handle playing Super Mario World alongside something else, but that's because SMW doesn't require questing and thinking. The idea of trying to go at Mass Effect and Skyrim at the same time gives me hives. Some people can do it, but I cannot.

So, as Dragon Age II and then Skyrim ate up my time, unplayed games have piled up. Games I was given (how nice!) or games that I've been wanting to play forever (hello, Batman) or games that were so cheap I couldn't resist (hi there, Enslaved brand new for $8) have been waiting for me to recover from my BioWare/Bethesda sickness.

Will that day ever come? I don't know, but here's what's waiting for me, should I pull through:

I don't even know where to start in all that. I just hope to play them all before I croak!

What about you? Do you play more than one game at a time? Anything sitting around neglected, waiting for you to play it?

Friday, February 10, 2012

cough cough

People! I don't know where I've been. All I know is that I was surrounded by darkness, I had no feeling in my toes, and everything smelled slightly of Hubba Bubba Tangy Tropical. It's possible that I'd gone through some kind of temporal wormhole and I was trapped under my very own bed in 1981, I can't say. All I know for sure is that suddenly I heard this...

...and now here I am.

And just in time, too, for lo- today is FemShep Friday, wherein all of The Internet (or, at least, those internet denizens who CARE) celebrate all the gloriousosity of the Shepard who is female. YAY!

The biggest and best thing about FemShep Friday is the newly-released Mass Effect 3 trailer that features said FemShep. If you ain't done beholden it yet, behold it now.

Oh my, YES. It is indubitably your standard pump-you-up, explosion-laden, take-no-shit, kick-all-the-asses action video game trailer...and that's what I love most about it. Okay, wait- what I love most is seeing my old squadmates kicking all of the ass beside me, as well as Jennifer Hale's totally perfect delivery of all of the take-no-shit lines. But! it's a wonderful thing that the trailer featuring the female incarnation of the Commander isn't all about being sexy and having relationships and saving the children- she's saving the world, shooting guns, dodging explosions, and being every bit as badass as BroShep. Well done, BioWare. Well done.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time deviating from my Canon Shepard. She's a vanguard, largely paragon. Still, she won't hesitate to make a renegade choice- even the more unnecessarily heartless ones, like kicking a merc out a skyscraper window when he sasses her one too many times. She's a-romancin' Liara. She saved all of her crew.

But there are so many variations and so many options, and I want to see them all! I try to roll a new Shep, though- different attitude, different decisions, different gender- and I poop out after a while. My Shep just feels like my Shep, and Mass Effect feels like her story. Who knows, maybe when all is said and done I'll make 44730 more Shepards to see all the possibilities. I mean, what if she fell into the abyss on the Collector Base at the end of Mass Effect 2? I'd like to know how she gets out of that.

How does your Shepard get it done?

oh lawd, COME TO ME NOW