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ME3_Promo

No GravatarI had been dreading playing Mass Effect 3 for years because I knew how bad the ending was.  In fact, I procrastinated for a couple of years by continuously playing Mass Effect 2 over and over again.  Well, after I finished ME2 four times through, I decided it was finally time to move onto Mass Effect 3.  I began the game with a bit of trepidation, but it didn’t take me too long to figure out that ninety-nine percent of ME3 is actually an amazing game.  It’s that pesky one percent that wrecks the whole thing.  But I’ll get to that later.  First, let’s concentrate on the good:

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Mass Effect 3 is a third person, action RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA in March of 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and eventually Wii U.  The game uses the Unreal 3 Enginge and improved upon the graphics and game play of its predecessors.

For a moment, let’s pretend that the last five to ten minutes of the game does not exist and only concentrate on the good parts of the story.  And there are many.  Mass Effect 3 leaves off where ME2 left us: after years of warning, the Reapers finally come and invade Earth.  Commander Shepard is recruited to rally a force that will be able to stop them.  After finding a an ancient Prothean artifact on Mars that may be the key to the Reapers’ undoing, Shepard and his team must gather materials and help in order to build the device that will hopefully save Earth and the rest of the galaxy.

It’s a really fun story line, though it’s a bit desperate at times.  There is still a bit of humor thrown  in every once in awhile to keep it from being too dark (i.e. Joker’s The Hunt for Red October joke, which was quite a cute little Easter Egg).  Since the player accumulates resources throughout the game, every missions feels like it matters, even the side missions.

Again, just like the first two Mass Effect games, the space setting is done right.  ME3 has more of the amazingly rich settings that I have loved about the franchise, complete with a detailed set of back-story or “Codex.”  Although the game is Science fiction, the pseudo-science jargon feels like it could actually be real.  From the relays to the use of biotics to the Crucible, everything seems to be plausible and like it could actually happen.

For those players who had played through the first two games, there is an overlying tone of sadness as many of your previous team’s homes get wiped away by the Reapers.  There are also some set characters that will die on you, and depending on how you played the previous two games, others team members may go as well.  I actually cried several times during the game because I had gotten so attached to a few of the ones that died.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Mass Effect 3 moved me so much that I cried.  I cried more in ME3 than ME2, which I enjoyed much more.  The game would have been amazing without those last ten minutes, but I will leave aspect last.

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The game play was actually much improved from Mass Effect 2…once a player gets used to the controls.  I had some issues with the roll from cover to cover for a bit because I was so used to the mechanics of ME2.  After awhile, I got much better at it.  Though it still has standard duck and cover, third person shooting elements, I found that the game enemy AI was much sneakier than in the first two Mass Effect games.  Multiple bad guys would actually try to outflank me on many occasions, something that happened very rarely in the ME2.  The RPG elements felt pretty similar to Mass Effect 2.  In ME3, the missions take on a sense of desperation.  Even better, the planet mining that was the worst part of ME2 has been replaced with a scanning for resources in ME3.  I can be a pain because the more the player scans, the more the Reapers are attracted.  This could be an annoying feature.  However,  at this point, anyone can Google any sector and get the precise places of the resources.  Problem solved.

Just like Mass Effect 2, ME3 is not a typical open-world RPG because of the whole space thing.  However, just like with the previous games, the player does get free roam of the galaxy, as long as there are no Reapers actively looking for you.

Mass Effect 3 continues with the great choice-driven tradition of the series.  Unfortunately, that goes down the drain in the final few minutes, but the rest of the game gives you some amazing choices.  The ability to make decision that will affect how the game goes is one of the best parts of the game.  Also, players still have the option to player Shepard however they’d like.  Dialogue options are more paragon/renegade focused without as many neutral options.  One thing that I did not like about the dialogue options was that a player has to hit all of the right paragon options earlier on in the game to get the “good” Illusive Man response at the end.  I totally missed it, but I really didn’t want to mess with a walk-through on a game that really shouldn’t need one.

Mass Effect 3 is one of the few last-gen games that I can still play and not cringe a bit.  It still looks great.  The upgrades from ME2 were amazing.  The characters looks great and the environment looks even better.  The regular game play is great, but the cut-scenes are what really look amazing.  It is still a game that I would recommend to play graphics-wise even after a year and a half of the current gen of consoles.

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I cannot say enough of the amazing voice actors that have contributed to Mass Effect 3.  BioWare pulled an amazing team together, as always.  Honestly, nothing really disappoints in this game.  Well, except…

Everything goes downhill in the last ten minutes of the game.
I honestly felt like I wanted to hit my head through a wall when I finished the game, and I am not exaggerating.  How can you go from such a great story to such a disappointment?  The last ten minutes of the game are just absolutely awful.  I don’t even really care that Shepard dies no matter what.  He did go up against the Reapers, but the explanation about why the Reapers were destroying everything made no sense.  There was also no real ending choices.  The player basically gets to choose what filter color he or she wants over the end sequence.  I am not exactly sure what BioWare was trying to do there, but I’m assuming that it was a rush to get the game out for whatever reason.  Unfortunately, that rush led to one of the worst game endings in the history of video games.  It’s unfortunate too because the rest of the game is so good.

I still love Mass Effect 3, despite the ending.  To get around the ending, I recommend stopping after saying goodbye to all of your teammates and friends.  Then you can just make up a better ending in your head because what BioWare gave us is just awful.

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No GravatarEvery once in a while, there is an awesome game that comes out, and it revolutionizes the way that a person views gaming.  For me, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those games.  It has everything that I demand in a game: a cool story, fun game play, an expansive world, and the ability to customize my game experience as I see fit.  I love the game so much that it’s one of the top games that I’ve put the most hours into, and that’s saying something because I’ve spent a lot of time on many different games.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.  Here’s why:

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an open world action role-playing game that was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.  It is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls franchise, following 2006’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  Skyrim was released November 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  A remastered version is coming out for the game for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in October of this year.  The game uses the Creation Engine, which was specifically rebuilt for the game after some of the issues with Fallout 3.  Skyrim got critical acclaim and is consistently rates as one of the best video games of all time.

Set 200 years after its predecessor, Skyrim focuses on Tamriel’s Nordic area (Skyrim, hence the game’s name).  There are two warring factions at odds against each other.  The Stormcloaks consist of Skyrim’s native Nordic folk who wish to rule their own land (and are extremely racist).  The Imperial Legion represents the Empire and wishes to keep the region safe and at peace (but then the native people don’t have control of their own area).  After being almost killed by the Imperials and surviving a dragon attack, the player realizes that Skyrim is in deep trouble if dragons have come back.  Eventually, the player finds out that he or she is Dragonborn, a person born with the soul and power of a dragon.  In the main quest line, the player must find out what is going on with the reemerging dragons; however, there are tons of other side quests that jump into the rich history and politics of the region.  It’s absolutely amazing.

The main story is pretty involved, but it’s the expansive world that really shines with Skyrim.  It’s definitely got one of the best maps that I have seen (I still prefer it over The Witcher 3’s map, which is also quite expansive).  The scenery is gorgeous, especially since I play on PC with the graphics on the highest levels with a few texture mods as well.  Most of the items in the world are extremely interactive.  The people in Skyrim are interesting.  The places are fun to explore.  I’ve gone walking around the map just for fun.  I’ve even read about people who create characters and don’t even play the game; they just make up their own story and go hunting animals, collect things, and just have fun.  It’s so in-depth with lore and back-story that it’s hard not to fall in love with Skyrim.

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However, even though the open world is amazing, my favorite part of the game is actually the game play itself.  I have never quite come across anything quite like it.  For me, even another Bethesda heavy-hitter like Fallout 3 or even Fallout 4 doesn’t compare.  Sure, Skyrim is a first-person, action RPG.  A lot of games are.  The thing that really makes Skyrim stand out is the leveling and experience system.  It’s very simple: you level up what you use.  Whatever angle you want to play with Skyrim, you just have to use it to level it.  In this way, players are not pigeon-holed into a certain class.  Do you want to be a mage who has thief tendencies?  Go for it.  Do you want you want to be a warrior who also can use magic when needed?  Yep!  You can do that.  Do you like being a thief who enjoys two-handed combat?  Why not?

I love the ability to be able to do what I want, when I want.  I love that I can mix and match with the different combat styles and character niches because…why not?  I hate having to decide what class to play because two hours later, I want to change it.  Skyrim lets me do whatever I want.  When I initially played it on Xbox 360, I was a bit limited with the amount of perks that I could get, so some specialization was required.  However, on PC I can do a bit of cheaty, cheat, cheating and add perks when I run out of levels.  It’s perfect for the OCD gamer.  In Skyrim, it’s totally okay to be a warrior/mage/thief all at the same time.

The graphics hold up very well, especially if you are playing on PC and can put on some texture mods.  On the consoles, it is starting to look dated.  Hopefully, it will look great again with the remaster.  However, when the game originally came out, the graphics were hand’s down awesome.  I love the textures of the scenery.  Even though some of the color palate can be very heavy on grays and browns, the game is still beautiful.

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There is something special about Skyrim, and it may have to do with the fact that gamers can easily make fun of it without damaging the integrity of the game.  How many “arrow to the knee” memes have you seen?  How many times have people made fun of the fact that one can eat 99 raw potatoes in the middle of the battle to gain health?  What about trying to kill a chicken?  Or, my personal favorite happens to be: why are all of the lights on in a dungeon that hasn’t been visited by anyone in hundreds if not thousands of years?  It’s fun to make fun of Skyrim because it’s a game that no one has to defend as being good.  Some people might not like it, and that’s fine.  But it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad game.  Therefore, when there are some “silly” elements of the game, it’s enjoyable to point out the shortcomings because even though there definitely are some, no other game even comes close.

There are a lot of games that I have enjoyed over the years, but there are few that I truly love.  The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim is one that I absolutely will love forever, even when newer and better games come out.  I have about an estimated 415 hours on the game right now between console and PC, and I have thoroughly loved every minute of it.  I actually cannot think of another game that I have spent so much time on.  That’s the power of Skyrim.

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No GravatarWhen I first began playing BioShock Infinite, I had a tough time getting into it.  Not because the game isn’t interesting.  It pulls you in pretty quickly with its beautiful graphics and fascinating storyline.  I was just mad that the game was vastly different in setting and tone then the original BioShock, which is one of my favorite games of all time.  I wanted BioShock Infinite to be in Rapture or somewhere like Rapture.  I actually stopped playing the game and went back to play the original several times before I finally forced myself to play Infinite.  It was a good thing that I did too.  Infinite is an absolutely amazing game, and I shouldn’t have compared it to the original.  Trying to make a game too much like the original BioShock only ends in mediocre sequels (BioShock 2).  I think that Irrational HAD to pick a different setting in order to have an effective story.  So, after getting over that self-imposed hurdle, I found that Infinite is actually one of my favorite games ever.

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Overview

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K in 2013 for PS3, XBox360, and PC.  Is it is the second sequel of the much loved original BioShock.  It uses a modified version of Unreal Engine 3 and has also been praised for its graphics, setting, and story.  Despite being a BioShock game, it departs from the Rapture-setting and instead focuses on its own dystopia of Columbia. BioShock: The Collection comes out in September, which is a remastered version for the current generation of all three BioShock games.  For the purpose of this review, I will be concentrating on the PS3 version only.

Story

The original BioShock had an amazingly intricate story that made several play-throughs enjoyable because of all of the little details.  BioShock Infinite steps it up to a completely different level.  The story is absolutely amazing.  It follows Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton and Battle of Wounded Knee vet, who has acquired a massive amount of debt.  To repay this debt, he is hired to rescue, Elizabeth, a woman who has been imprisoned since childhood in a city called Columbia.

Columbia is not a normal city, though.  The place floats in the sky (don’t worry if it sounds ridiculous; it’s very well explained) and is run by the prophet Zachary Comstock, a religious fantastic.  Like the original BioShock, Columbia is a city that has gone wrong, but it also highlights issues such as: racism, religious extremism, socio-economic struggles, American exceptionalism, the corruption of power, and dealing with past mistakes.  As you can see, Infinite is not a one-trick pony when it comes to thematic elements.  I am not even sure what part is better: the story or the setting.  The story is amazing, don’t get me wrong.  Elizabeth is probably one of the best, well-thought out, well-developed female characters ever done in a video game.  However, I also find myself playing Infinite just to explore Columbia (it is really that cool).  I love the early 1900s/steampunk style to it as well.  It’s just overall very well done.  There aren’t many games like it, especially in the first-person shooter style.

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Game Play

If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I’m pretty picky about my first-person shooters.  I’m not really that into most multi-player games, and I hate fps campaign modes that are too short and without substance.  BioShock Infinite, first of all, is worth the price  (I think it may be on PlayStation Plus now, though) because of its length, which is perfect for a fps game.

The game play, however, is also amazingly well-done.  With Infinite, you get a fun, smooth-flowing fps game with a few added elements that push this game up to a 10.  First, there is the use of plasmas…um, I mean vigors, which gives the “BioShock” power.  Then there is also the use of infusions and gear, which give some added elements of game play, such as more health, shields, and salts as well as some special “perks” from the gear.  Second, there is the use of the sky-line hooks and open-environment that make this game incredibly fun to play.  The first time I got on a sky-line, it felt like I was on a freaking roller-coaster.  You can zip around and melee enemies from above, jump on floating air ships, and fire your weapon while swinging around.  Third, you get Elizabeth as a sidekick, who helps out Booker during battles.  The AI for her is absolutely brilliant.  It really is a new way to play an fps.

These added elements make the game so much fun.  The game never felt repetitive.  I never got bored with the game either, especially with all of the fun vigors I got to use.  Overall, I have not seen many single-player fps games out on the market quite like this.

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Graphics

This game highlights the pinnacle of what the PS3 can handle graphics-wise and was pretty much one of the best-looking games for the PS3 (if not the best).  When I got my first glimpse of Columbia, all I could do was go, “WOW!”  After I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I began really enjoy how amazing the setting really is.  Even if you don’t like first-person shooters, the game is worth seeing just for how truly beautiful it looks.

Voice Acting

As you might have known, Troy Baker is my favorite voice actor.  What you might not have known, is that I had no freaking clue who the man was before I played this game (*gasps can be heard from across the Internet*).  Yep, that’s right.  No clue.  But I enjoyed listening to Booker DeWitt so much that decided to look Troy up and the rest is pretty much history.  In seriousness, though, the voice acting is top notch.  From Troy who plays the quiet, soft-spoken but flawed Booker to the very-talented Courtnee Draper, who does Elizabeth’s voice, the actors make the game that much more enjoyable.  Even the Lutece twins are pretty awesome and give some added humor to the game.  By the way, this game is still my favorite Troy Baker game.

Music

I usually do not include a game’s musical score in my reviews, but I decided to add it to this one because the music in Infinite is so great.  Besides having a great score for battles and exploring, you have the added bonus of all sorts of popular songs being done in an early 20th-century style.  There are a lot of Easter-egg tunes to hear, but I don’t want to go into it because I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t played the game yet (you should).

Overall

There really isn’t anything that I can knock this game on, and trust me, if I see something wrong, I will say something.  BioShock Infinite is just an amazing game.  I know this review is very glowing, and I can’t find anything to complain about.  For the most part, the complaints that I have seen about this game are a little unfounded.  Here are some and my response to them:

Complaint: The story is too complicated, especially the ending.

Response: Sorry, it’s not the game’s fault that you can’t figure it out.

Complaint: The game should have been third-person not first-person, since it has a lot of narration from Booker.  You are the character when you inhabit a first-person perspective, hence there should be no narration.

Response: That’s like saying if you read a book that is in first-person narration that YOU are the character.  Not so.  You are just getting it from the first-person perspective.  Even though you control Booker from the first person, you are not Booker. Sorry.

Complaint: It’s not enough like the original BioShock. (This was my original complaint.)

Response: If you want to play the original BioShock, play the original.  If the game was too much like the original, we’d get a mediocre re-hash like BioShock 2.  The game plays tribute enough to the original but is still it’s own game.

Complaint: I didn’t like the hordes of people coming at you in battle.  It felt like filler.

Response: Um, if you don’t like fighting in a first-person shooter game, then you probably shouldn’t be playing these types of games.  Just saying.

Complaint: It’s too gory.

Response: Uh, last time I checked, it was a BioShock game AND a first-person shooter.  Considering that the original had tinge of the horror-genre to it, Infinite holds up to the franchise.  If it’s too gory, may I suggest a game like Little Big Planet, instead?

Complaint: Elizabeth is too much like a damsel in distress.

Response: I think that she takes care of herself just fine, but apparently you must have missed those parts of the game.  Sure she’s trapped at the beginning, but there is a reason she can’t get out herself, and she also takes charge for a lot of the game.  May I suggest that you replay it and pay attention?

I think the biggest issue is that some of these critics want this game to not be a first-person shooter, BioShock game.  I think they are looking for something that they were never going to find and never should find in this game.  I don’t even know what to tell them there.  I enjoyed the heck out of it.  Infinite will be one of those games I will replay many, many times.  In my humble opinion, it is just that good.

By Amy McGarey On 6 Jul, 2016 At 07:04 PM | Categorized As News, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments
red dead redemption

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The rumors are true! Microsoft has confirmed that Red Dead Redemption will be available to play on the Xbox One this Friday.

Back in February, Microsoft accidentally released the game as a backwards compatible title due to a testing error. This led Red Dead fans to believe the game would soon be available to play on the Xbox One.

All physical copies of the game will be ready to play on Friday – the base game, the expansion Undead Nightmare, and the Game of the Year edition.

Red Dead Redemption was published by Rockstar Games in 2010, and was considered to be one of the greatest releases that year.

As of today, the digital copy is for sale on the Xbox Live Marketplace for $7.49 for Gold members and $10.49 for everyone else.

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No GravatarMy little girl might be little now, but eventually, she will be old enough to start gaming.  For the record, I’m not saying that she has to be a gamer (she can have her own interests and hobbies–as long as they are appropriate), but I will be introducing her to gaming when it is developmentally appropriate (don’t put comments about how some of these games aren’t appropriate for (fill in the blank) age; I know that).

If I had to whittle down my list of games I would love to have my daughter play, here is the list that I came up with of the games that really had an impact on me, both as an adult and when I was growing up:

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20.) Rebel Assault II

I do love a good Star Wars game, but this one was very special to me.  I still have the discs for it, though I’m not sure I could get it running again.  I bet my technically-savvy hubby could get it to run.  This was one of the first good Star Wars games that I played, which got around graphics limitations of the time by having live actor shots.SWTIEFighter

19.) Tie Fighter

This is another Star Wars game, which I still have but have no idea if I could ever get running again (bet hubby could with enough motivation).  Just like it’s X-Wing counterpart game, Tie Fighter was an excellent flight simulator that also portrayed the Empire in a different light.  I spent HOURS playing this game.

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18.) Wolfenstein 3D

It’s the first first-person shooter I ever played.  I clearly remember the first time I got to play this revolutionary game, even though I was only six or seven at the time.  Sure, there have been sequels and reboots or whatever, but nothing beats the original.

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17.) Sim City 3000

I do love a good simulation, and this was the last good Sim City that I can still play without any special things done to my PC.  Interesting story: When I was in high school, I studied for my AP Government local government test by playing this game.  I had the highest score in the class.  Woot!  Woot!

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16.) Duke Nukem 3D

Sure it’s a little raunchy, but I spent most of my middle school years playing this game.  I bought every add-on that I could get my hands on.  It’s just a really good and really funny first-person shooter, and I still find myself to this day quoting from it.

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15.) Doom

This is an absolutely essential classic first-person shooter that I think everyone die-hard FPS gamer should play.  Sure, it was a bit scary for it’s time (now it looks a bit cartoonish), but it was revolutionary for when it came out.

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14.) Manhunt

Okay, this is definitely a game that my little girl will not be playing until she’s much, much older, but it’s probably one of the best, most original games that I have played for PlayStation 2.  Screw the Hunger Games.  This game is an amazing sneak game with a really good story, similar to “The Most Dangerous Game,” The Running Man, or Battle Royale.  It’s amazingly violent as well, and I wish that Rockstar would either redo or remaster THIS game instead of some of the other games being redone.

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13.) Jones in the Fast Lane

I do have an original copy of this game complete with packaging because it is one of the best life simulation games that I have every played.  However, you can actually play this game on your phone or tablet now without worrying about getting it to work on a PC.  My have times changed!  The game is similar to The Game of Life: you get a job, work on advancing, and manage your time.  And it can have up to four players, so I will be playing this one with my little girl as soon as she is old enough.

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12.) Fallout 3

Besides having the best intro to a video game that I have ever seen, the game is absolutely amazing to play.  Part first-person shooter, part action RPG, this game has it all.  Another thing that I absolutely adore about the game is the size of the enormous map you get to play around in.  No claustrophobic maps here!

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11.) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Another amazing Bethesda game and one of my favorite open-world, fantasy games, Skyrim is another must to play.  Sadly, I’ve probably spent a couple hundred hours on this game and actually haven’t finished it yet.  It can get you really side-tracked if you let it.

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10.) Borderlands 2

This is one of my favorite cooperative games that I have ever played.  It’s funny and a bit ridiculous at times, but that’s what makes it so great: it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  With several different characters to play as, including two very strong female roles, and a TON of weapons to collect, this will always be one of my top FPS games.

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9.) Final Fantasy VII

Okay, the graphics DO make my eyeballs bleed a bit, but there is no doubt that this game is one of the best Final Fantasy games ever.  It’s got the best characters, the best music, and the best story line.  And with the remake coming out soon, she hopefully will be able to play it without getting a headache.

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8.) Tomb Raider II

The original Tomb Raider was a little fuzzy on graphics and TR III was a bit whacky in the plot.  However, Tomb Raider II–to me–is the perfect balance of a cool story, interesting places to explore, and a trendy tone.  It’s the game that really spawned my love for the franchise.

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7.) Final Fantasy X

This is another one of my favorite Final Fantasy games.  It’s got a great story and awesome characters, but the graphics have aged a lot better than VII (and I’m not even talking about the HD version that just came out).  And, I now do have the option to update by PS2 version if I want to.

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6.) Sims 3

Sims 3 is my favorite out of the franchise (and I have played 1-3 extensively).  Some people don’t understand my obsessive with simulation games, but think of all of the cool things that I can do: create interesting Sims, design my dream home, design my dream town, go to new and exciting places, and do things I wouldn’t dream of doing in real life.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

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5.) Chrono Cross 

This is one of my favorite RPGS of all time.  The graphics STILL look awesome.  The story is amazing, even though it’s technically a sequel.  The music is amazing (I actually bought the soundtrack).  It’s a great game, and would be my favorite RPG if it weren’t for the next game on the list…

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4.) Chrono Trigger 

A game that has consistently shown up on “best RPG ever” lists, Chrono Trigger really should be listed as one of the best games ever.  Period.  The graphics stand up to the test of time.  The music is awesome.  The story is amazing.  My husband always likes to comment that it it one of the few games in which you don’t have to have the main character to beat the game.  It’s just one of those games that you will always remember and want to play no matter how old you or it gets.

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3.) Mass Effect 2

Not the original Mass Effect and definitely NOT Mass Effect 3–Mass Effect 2, to me, was the perfect balance of a good story, good game play, and cool characters.  But it wasn’t just those elements that makes me rank this game so high.  I was completely in awe of the really cool mix of genre and game play.  I mean, how many space-related action RPGs do you see out there?  Not many.  One of the best things about the game, besides having the really cool character of Commander Shepard, is how engrossing BioWare was able to make the Mass Effect universe.  As in games like Dragon Age, you could literally spend hours reading up on all of the technology, history, and species in the Mass Effect Universe, and that is a really important story element for me that I love in well-thought out games.

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2.) BioShock Infinite

I never thought that another game could rival my precious BioShock, but I was totally wrong about this one.  BioShock Infinite is an amazing game with some of the best graphics of the time and a story that will make your jaw drop.  The game play was a blast to play as well, and the setting was totally immersing.  This is a game and a franchise that have really upped my expectations on what first-person shooters should be like.

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1.) BioShock 

I thought about this for a long time and realized the BioShock is–hands down–my favorite video game of all time.  There are many reasons for this.  It was the first FPS that I have every played that demonstrated intelligence in its story: it discussed political issues, morality, all sorts of things that don’t normally make it into the standard FPS.  Second, I absolutely, positively fell in love with Rapture.  I can’t explain it.  I just love being there and exploring.  I love learning about the people who lived there and what all went wrong.  I enjoyed the cool game play with the plasmids and ADAM.  Third, I really enjoyed how awesome the graphics have aged (look at some of the other games that came out at the same time, and you’ll see what I mean).  It still looks AWESOME.  And lastly, I really appreciate the tone of this game, which many games in the genre fail to generate.  It’s sometimes scary but always enjoyable.  It’s a bit demented but doesn’t encourage what you see as being “normal.”  It really does make you think, and I love that and hope that I can share that–eventually, when my little girl is much, much older.

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No GravatarAs some of you might know, Mass Effect is one of my favorite gaming franchises.  Of course, when I say that, I am looking at the franchise as  a whole (I will not dwell on what happened to ME 3).  However, for those gamers who primarily play on PlayStation consoles, playing the original Mass Effect was not in the cards.  This changed once the game was finally released for PlayStation 3 at the end of 2012.  Finally, PlayStation fans were able to play the whole series through.  I  was one of those fans who got the original for digital download.  Here is what I thought:

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Mass Effect is a science fiction third-person RPG developed by Bioware and published by Microsoft originally, but is now being published by EA.  It originally was released for XBox 360 only, but eventually was released for PC and then Playstation 3.  It uses the Unreal 3 engine.  The game was applauded for its in-depth universe.  To me, the game is the Holy Grail of RPGs, since most do not have the Science fiction twist that Mass Effect does.

The setting puts the game far into the future where the human race discovers alien technology that allows them to travel faster than light (the “mass effect” field).  They have also found mass relays that allow them to travel significant distances in space in short amounts of time.  The human race expands throughout the galaxy, meeting other alien races.  They create the Human Systems Alliance that becomes a rising power among the other, older races.

The game follows Commander Shepard, an elite soldier who is picked to head a secret mission on a experimental ship, the SSV Normandy.  He is also in the running to become the first human Spectre, a black-ops division of the Citadel counsel, a governing body of the “civilized” parts of the galaxy.  As the story continues, the player begins to delve into the richly-designed universe that is Mass Effect and discovers that there are some very sinister things lurking in the galaxy.

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One of the fun things about this game is the ability of the player to go where they want to go in the galaxy.  Sure, there are some parts that you don’t get to decide, but there is a lot of freedom in traveling, allowing the player to go to some really cool planets.  Another interesting aspect (that I’m sure you may have heard about) is the ability to have Commander Shepard have a relationship with some of the characters.  You only get a few options in this game, but it still keeps things kind of interesting.

There’s a lot going on in Mass Effect.  It’s an RPG with XP, leveling up, and different skill-sets you can go through.  However, it is also a third-person action adventure shooter.  It employs a duck and cover system of fighting but also incorporates vehicle battle as well.  It SHOULD be a very diverse game play.  For the main missions, that is correct; the actual main quests are a ton of fun.  It’s the side quests that are a complete bear to play.  They are tedious and difficult in some spots, something that I wasn’t used to from playing Mass Effect 2 and 3 originally.  Because of this, I will have to knock the game play down quite a bit.

There are other aspects of the game play that I would like to cover, however.  The first being the class system.  Players get to choose at the beginning the type of class they want their character to be.  This also includes being able to fully customize the Shepard character: male or female, default or customize completely.  I recommend being on male default because Shepard is sexy.  Besides customizing the character in that way, there are six classes to choose from: Soldier, Engineer, Adept, Infiltrator, Sentinel, and Vanguard.  Each class has its own special perks.  I typically play as soldier.  Each of the classes also have their own special combat abilities.

Another interesting aspect of game play is dialogue and morality system.  As the story unfolds, the player is given options for dialogue.  One is typically the “good” option.  Another is the “neutral” option.  And the third is the “bad” option.  Depending on how good or bad you want Shepard to be will depend on how you answer.  However, sticking with one side opens up special dialogue conversations not available otherwise.

This particular Mass Effect game focuses very heavily on upgrading weapons.  The player can upgrade pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, as well as grenades and armor.  Mods to weapons and armor can also be found as well.  Upgrades are collected while exploring and in battle when an enemy is killed, but it can be a pain keep track of all of them.  Many times, I would have to stop game play because I had accumulated too many upgrades and had to either apply them or convert them into omni-gel (an all-purpose tool that helps with everything for fixing damage on vehicles to hacking locks).  This did get a bit annoying at times.

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For the time that the game came out, the graphics were pretty darned slick.  And not only that, but the game has actually aged well.  It is still playable without the graphics seeming to be annoying.  They certainly do not cause me headaches like Final Fantasy VII, for instance.  The in-game graphics are great, but the cut-scenes are really were the money is.

Unfortunately, even though the main parts of the game are a lot of fun, all of the side quests are a pain.  They are such a pain that I almost stopped playing the game.  They are tedious and repetitive.  Technically, I would give the fun-factor of the main game a 10, but I would give the side quests a 1.  Also because of this, I will probably not be revisiting the game, despite the awesome storyline.

As a whole, this game is great.  It’s got some issues; however, if the player just focuses on the main mission, the game is a lot of fun to play.  I’m also a bit picky because I feel Mass Effect 2 is a much better game overall.  Then again, considering that you can get the whole trilogy pretty cheaply and just the original even more cheaply, it’s definitely worth your time.

 

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No GravatarBioShock is a first-person shooter released in 2007 for XBox 360 and PC. It was later ported for PS3 in 2008.  It was developed by Irrational Games (they were calling themselves 2K Boston back in the day) and published by 2K.  The game uses a modified version of the Unreal engine with Havok for the physics side.  It was highly praised for its story, setting, and thematic elements.  It later spawned two sequels: BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite.

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As the player, you take on the character of Jack, a man who survives a plane crash into the middle of the ocean.  Upon swimming to safety, you find a lighthouse.  However, this is more than meets the eye.  After getting into a device called a bathysphere, a type of submersible, you are transported underneath the ocean and are introduced to Rapture, a huge underwater city.

However, there is something completely wrong with Rapture.  Upon arrival, you discover that the once utopian city is now in a state of disarray with roaming “splicers,” creepy little girls called “Little Sisters,” and huge robotic bosses called “Big Daddies.”  I don’t want to get into the story too much because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I will tell you that the story is top-notch.  To me, the best part of BioShock is the setting.  I could just walk around in Rapture all day and be as happy as can be.  I know it’s a really creepy place, but it’s also a really interesting place, especially since you have to dig around a bit to figure out what went wrong.  I loved that the game was kind of scary, but not so scary that I wanted to stop playing it.

One of the other great things about the story of BioShock was a lot of really good and really interesting thematic elements of the game.  Rapture’s creator, Andrew Ryan, designed the city to be free of government and free of religion (a nod to Ayn Rand’s Objectivism).  However, without some constraint of morality, the city quickly crumbles into chaos after some bio-engineering and experimentation gone really wrong.  It’s a really interesting and engrossing game.  It’s one of my favorite video game stories of all time.

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BioShock is first and foremost a first-person shooter.  It’s a rather good one at that, especially for the time that it came out.  As an FPS, it plays smoothly and adds some interesting game play elements.  It has a typical style of ever-increasingly fun weapons to play with, but it also adds the “bio” element to it by creating the use of plasmids (a type of genetic alteration involving needles–I told you the game is a bit creepy).  With your left hand, you control your plasmids, which can vary from shooting fire, ice, and even bees out of your fingertips.  With your right hand, you control your primary weapon.  This is a really, really fun combination, and it makes for  some interesting game play.  However, it gets annoying switching back and forth between shooting plasmids and shooting your weapon, since you can only have one or the other at a time.  This glaring issue was later fixed in BioShock 2.

Besides the use of plasmids, the game play also adds some role-playing and stealth elements as well.  The player has options for stealth around security, including cameras and auto-turrets.  Collecting money in the game gives the player options for upgrading weapons, buying new plasmids, or gaining additional ammo or health.  You may also collect gene tonics that give you special abilities.  One of the more annoying parts of the game was the ability to hack certain things like cameras and vending machines.  Although this sounds like a great idea, to hack something, you get pushed into this mini-game, similar to Pipe Dream.  The first ten or so times you do it isn’t bad, but it gets annoying after twenty, thirty, or forty times.

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One of the unique game play aspects of BioShock is fairly original concept of “roaming boss battles.”  In order to gain more power, the player must take on Big Daddies in order to get to the Little Sisters.  There are a set amount of Big Daddies in each level that will appear in various places (but sometimes can feel like at random).

The graphics were very good for the time that it came out.  It has still held up well for an older game.  In fact, it has held up much better than games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and even the original Infamous.  Even going back and playing it now, I don’t get headaches from playing a game with crazy old graphics.

One really enjoyable thing about the graphics (and the setting) is how it highlights the amazing Art Deco designs of Rapture.  This is one of the reasons why I will actually play the game just to wander around and explore (I can’t say that for many other games).

I don’t care if the game play is perfect.  I don’t care if the graphics are perfect.  BioShock will always be one of my most favorite games of all time.  It is probably my favorite first-person shooter.  This game is just plain fun.  It has been the most fun that I have had in a game in a long, long time.  It is the reason why I have been so backlogged on so many games: I keep wanting to play this game over and over again.  BioShock made me expect more out of my first-person shooters.  It is a complete must-play, trust me.

By Jessica Brister On 29 Apr, 2016 At 06:22 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarThe Final Fantasy franchise is beloved by many gamers.  They have fallen in love with the characters, the music, and the worlds of this popular series.  When Final Fantasy XIII came out, many were expecting something wonderful.  Instead, fans got the worst game of the series and possibly one of the worst AAA titles of the generation.  Here is what went wrong with FF XII:

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Final Fantasy XIII was released on December 17, 2009 in Japan and in 2010 worldwide as a straight-forward RPG.  It was developed and published by Square Enix for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (the game was eventually released for PC as well).  It was widely criticized because of the game’s linear game play and storyline, while most western RPGs had gone toward open world.  However, there were other issues with the game as well.

The story itself was extremely hard to follow.  I actually still don’t quite understand it.  From what I gathered, a world called Cocoon and it’s government, Sanctum, is basically committing genocide of people who have come in contact with the world below Cocoon called Pulse.  The main character, Lightning, has a moral epiphany and decides to fight back with a bunch of others.  There really wasn’t anything to love about the story or even really like.  It was completely bland, and many times confusing.

Unfortunately, the characters were even worse than the story.  They were extremely cheesy, and the dialogue was cringe-worthy.  Here are some actual quotes from the game:

“Heroes don’t run from fights.”

“Mom’s are tough.”

“Hang on, baby.  Your hero’s on the way.”

Even the talents of Troy Baker were wasted on the character of Snow because everything that the character said was dumb (you know I think it’s a bad game when I tell you that Troy Baker couldn’t even salvage anything good in the game).

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The battle system is outdated in style and resembled more of a ’90s RPG where characters take turns fighting each other.  It was a system that actually made my jaw drop when I got into the first battle.  Though the game is a bit older, that sort of style has died off for AAA titles.  For a “modern” RPG, it felt like a blast from the past, and not in a good way.  When a player meets an enemy, he or she is entered into a “battle system” with change in music and everything.  Each character takes turns attacking the baddie, and if they aren’t attacking, then they sit and dance around in place.  It was very similar to many ’90s retro RPGS.  Though those old games were so much fun, it is quite bizarre for a game in the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation.

Also, the battle system is way too simplistic.  You don’t even have to pay attention while playing the game.  Just hit “X” (playing on PS3).  You’ll kill almost anything that way.  I could train my cats to play this game.  In fact, for the most part, I really wasn’t even playing it.  I was on Twitter, milling around.  The only part of me that was playing the game was my hand, which kept hitting X, X, X, X.  What’s the point of even playing if the game is that easy?  I didn’t really even seem like a true leveling system.

Unlike most modern RPGs, I was limited basically going in a straight line throughout the maps.  The whole thing felt claustrophobic.  And it never got any better!  I kept on thinking: Well maybe if I go along a little farther, the map will open up a bit, and I can actually do some exploring.  Nope!  It never happened.  For a game that came out to PS3 in late 2009, this is actually embarrassing.  I’ve played Call of Duty campaign modes that were more open than this game.  I can’t believe that Square Enix thought that this would be okay, considering FFXII (for the freaking PS2) gave you more freedom.  In fact, every Final Fantasy game I have every played gave you more freedom.  Heck, freaking Pac Man gives you more freedom (at least you don’t have to continuously go straight).

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Another annoying aspect of the game was the sheer amount of cutscenes in the game.  You could barely go five minutes without a cut-scene interrupting.  It was quite obnoxious.  Sure, the cut scenes were pretty, but most of them didn’t feel like they moved the plot.  I’m still scratching my head at what was going on in the game.  In fact, most of them felt like they were just thrown in there to show off the graphics.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy a good cut-scene, but I expect the cut-scenes that I watch to have a point and move the plot.  It shouldn’t just be a graphics show-off.

Sadly, I think that Square Enix is losing touch with what many gamers are demanding from their games now.  At this point, I think that they are focusing on an audience that wants a true JRPG experience.  If that’s the case, go for it.  However, don’t expect any glowing reviews from me.  That’s just not my cup of tea anymore.

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No GravatarBorderlands 2 is one of those special games that only comes around every once in awhile.  It’s a blood and guts shooter with some humor (and a bit of satire as well).  It also is one of the best online co-op games to this day.

Although the game has aged a bit, it still holds up very well.  Borderlands 2 is considered an action RPG first person shooter.  It was developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K in 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC/Mac (the game also had a late PlayStation Vita and Linux port).  It is also the sequel to the original Borderlands that came out in 2009.  The game was re-released in 2015 in the Handsome Collection for this current generation of consoles, but for the purposes of this review, I am referring to my play-through on PlayStation 3.

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Just like the original game, Borderlands 2 follows different Vault Hunters on the planet of Pandora.  Another large corporation has taken control of the planet, spear-headed by the charismatic Handsome Jack.  The Vault Hunters have come to seek an even larger Vault on the planet but also end up getting caught up in a lot of issues on Pandora, including tons of side-quests.  Although the plot itself is kind of bland, the dialogue, humor, and splash of satire keep the game interesting.  Overall, the feel and ton of the game is a kind of dark comedy/space western.  It’s an odd combination, but it somehow works.
Borderlands 2 is a game that CAN’T take itself too seriously because the game itself is absurd.  It’s filled with ridiculous characters in a ridiculous places doing ridiculous things.  When playing the game, you will laugh, and you will probably laugh a lot.  It’s just enjoyable wandering around the world of Pandora and meeting the crazy people who live there.  Whether it’s meeting the British-imperialist wannabe, Sir Hammerlock…Or the very much redneck, Scooter….Or Ellie, the very big, but very funny mechanic….Or Tiny Tina, the world’s deadliest 13-year-old (by the way, search for “Tiny Tina” on YouTube and see why she’s a freaking hilarious)….Or my favorite, Butt Stallion, the diamond pony.

One great thing about Borderlands 2 game play, is that the game allows you to play as much as you want offline and immediately join up online and not lose your place in the game, as long as you are hosting.  So I could play for a couple hours by myself, see my friends online, invite them into my game, and continue my adventure with my friends without missing a beat.  Another thing that I love is that you can have your game open and allow online people to pop in and out at their leisure to help you.  Or, you can jump into someone else’s game that is way ahead of yours and help you level-up.  Or, you can have someone help you get through a particularly tough time.  It’s an extremely social game.

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Online holds up to four people of whichever class you prefer.  The classes consist of: Commando, Siren, Gunserker, Assassin, Mechromancer (DLC), and Psycho (DLC).  Let me quickly go through each:

Commando: Turrets!

Siren: Phase-lock/Team Nurse!

Gunserker: Double-trouble guns!

Assassin: Stealth/Snipe!

Mechromancer: SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND! (You get a mech that helps you, and it’s awesome.)

Psycho: High risk, high reward play-style!

Each character is a blast to play.  And you will end up playing through the game, which is pretty long to begin with several times with each class.

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Another big thing about Borderlands in general is the fact that there are more weapons possibilities than a player knows what to do with.  I’ve heard at least 17.75 million combinations because weapons randomly generate based on: your level, how many people in your group, where you found it, what baddie you got it from, what rarity level it is, and so on.  This means that even if you have beaten Borderlands 2 several times on all of the difficulties with ever character, you are ALWAYS looking for the next best weapon.

Though the original Borderlands game was interesting, and I have played a good deal out of it.  But I really didn’t like it, mostly for the fact that the graphics were awful and the online play was hard to connect to.  Now for the graphics, please understand that Borderlands uses cell shading, which gives off a cartoony-look. In the original game, I had a hard time even playing it because it gave me a headache (I call this Final Fantasy VII syndrome–where the graphics are so weird that it hurts you eyeballs/head.).

In Borderlands 2, you still have cell-shading, but IT IS SO MUCH BETTER.  The lines are crisper.  The graphics are much improved, and I can play this game for hours without issue.  Plus, now cell-shading makes sense to me.  This game isn’t about the latest, greatest graphics, but about the humor, satire, and fun of it.  The graphics actually look pretty good, but I have come to understand why the developers choose to use this method.  Also, with the online play, it is pretty easy to connect with your friends or random people.  The original Borderlands was kind of a pain in the you-know-what, but now you can jump from game to game without issue.

So, as you can see, Borderlands 2 is nothing but fun.  I am currently patiently waiting on news for a 3rd.  But in the mean time, happy vault hunting for those who still play!

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No GravatarEvery once in awhile, a very special game comes along and really captivates you.  For me, Mass Effect 2 is one of those games.  I have put more time into it than any other game except for Skyrim, which deserves a special place all by itself.  With an estimated 260 or more hours in the game, four play-throughs, an numerous romances, there is something very amazing with this game.  It’s also one of the few games that I have shed tears for (in a good way).  A few weeks ago, I finished my last play-through of the game.  It’s time to move on.  But I want to share with you all how amazing Mass Effect 2 is to me.  Sure, it’s far from perfect, but it is very special.  Though this is a bit belated, here is my Mass Effect 2 review:

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Overview

Mass Effect 2 is a third-person, action RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA in late January 2010.  The game uses the Unreal Engine 3 and displayed what a game could do in the middle of the last-gen cycle’s heyday.  Although it is somewhat overshadowed by the disaster that was Mass Effect 3, it stands alone as an amazing game.

Story

Warning: If you haven’t had the chance to play this game, please do.  This review will contain some spoilers in the story section.

There are not many games that open with a bang like Mass Effect 2.  I don’t know of many that would kill the main character within the first scene.  But ME2 did, and it was awesome.  The pacing and intensity of the main story continues strongly from there as the player learns that Shepard has been “redone” by the questionable Cerberus group and has been asked to join them to stop the Collectors, an alien race that is harvesting human colonies.  After some digging, Shepard and his team eventually find out that the Reapers are behind this evil scheme.  The game is a wild ride, complete with old faces from the original game and some new but very memorable ones as well.

As one of the few games to actually get a setting in space done right, ME2 has an amazingly rich setting, complete with a detailed set of back-story or “Codex.”  Although the game is Science fiction, the explanation of everything from the Mass Effect fields, to the relays, to the use of biotics seem to be plausible enough to seem like it could really happen.  The game really is Sci-fi at its best.  With an interesting universe filled with cool aliens and beautiful, yet dangerous places, Mass Effect 2 really is the complete package.

The feel of the game is also incredibly epic, as it has one of the more memorable hero characters in video game history.  Commander Shepard, even when played as a badass instead of a paragon, embodies everything that a hero should be: intelligent, charismatic, skilled, and even good-looking.  Moreover, he (or she) is an incredible leader who demands the very best from his team.  It makes for an amazing game.  I still remember the first time that I beat it; I may have shed a few tears because I had fallen in love with all of the characters.  Unfortunately, the gaming industry doesn’t make many games like Mass Effect 2 anymore.

Game play

Besides having an amazing story, Mass Effect 2 is a blast to play.  Though it seems like a standard duck and cover, third-person shooter, it really is a full blown, action RPG.  The missions are fun, including the side-missions.  Sure, the planet-mining is probably the game’s greatest downfall, but it isn’t too annoying overall.  The make-up of a player’s team also can greatly affect the game play.  By balancing, biotics, soldiers, engineers, and the big “heavy-hitters” with the types of opponents (i.e. geth, mercs, Collectors), the game can feel different with nearly every mission.

ME2 is not a typical open-world RPG because that would be extremely hard to do with space ships.  However, the game does give the player free roam of the galaxy as well as mission selection, making the game still feel expansive.  There are a few missions that a player must do at certain times, but for the most part, the game has a go anywhere kind of feel to it.

One of the great gaming elements of ME2 is the fact that the player can change the outcome of the story based on the choices that he or she makes in the game.  The ability to make decisions that will have affects throughout several games is one of the best parts of the game.  Also, players have the option to play the character of Shepard however they’d like.  With dialogue options that range from good, to neutral, to badass, each of the game does not have to be the same.  Don’t even get me started on the romance options.  Like any typical BioWare game, I have played through a couple of times just to do a different romance option.  Why not, right?

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Graphics

Even though the graphics for Mass Effect 2 are starting to look a tad bit dated in comparison to what is out for this current generation of consoles, for the time, they were pretty amazing.  The cut-scenes were sharp, and the actual game play looked great for the time.  It is definitely a game that one can go back and continue playing on a last-gen console without feeling like the graphics are eye-straining, especially as TVs get better and better.

Voice performance

This is a category that I used to not have, but I think it is becoming more and more important as the story and dialogue of games become more important.  I adore the voice actors in this game, and it really is an all-star cast for the game.  Look at some of the celebrities who helped with the voice work of this game:

Adam Baldwin as Ka’Reegar

Claudia Black as Admiral Xen

Seth Green as Jeff “Joker” Moreau

Tricia Helfer as EDI

Michael Hogan as Captain Bailey

Carrie-Ann Moss as Aria T’Loak

Martin Sheen as the Illusive Man

Lance Henrikesen as Admiral Hackett

The list goes on and on.

I have special admiration for Tricia Helfer, who did the voice of EDI.  Unlike some other robotic characters in a game that starts with a D and ends in a estiny, she gives off the perfect performance as an AI with a sarcastic and saucy attitude.  It is one of the more memorable performances in the game.

Overall

Mass Effect 2 is a very special game for me.  It is an amazing combination of great story and good game play.  Yes, it has its flaws, but it still remains an epic game.