Mass Effect 3

Shepard about to introduce a Cerberus soldier to the omni blade.

Normally I review games, but there’s really no point with Mass Effect 3. You’ve already made up your mind if you’re going to buy it or not, and nothing I say is going to change that. Instead, I’m just going to cover the much ballyhooed ending.

In short? I liked it.

You still want the long version? I suppose… though you might want to stop here if you haven’t played to the end yet.

Has WoW Jumped the Shark?

Blizz announces the Panda Monk expansion.

Blizzard’s recent Mists of Pandaria announcement was met with a strong mix of outrage, whining and elation. Those of us who have played World of Warcraft for several years know that controversy follows expansion announcements like flies follow garbage trucks. No surprises there. However, this particular expansion seems to be taking World of Warcraft in a totally different direction. Is it finally going to be “over” for the MMO behemoth, as the naysayers are proclaiming?

Maybe, maybe not.

Getting back to D&D

He would punch a hole through Dovahkiin.

It’s been a long time coming. The last time I played was way back in middle school. That was 1995-ish. I got interested in D&D again when I found the Penny Arcade D&D podcasts. I started reading up on fourth edition, and I generally liked what I saw. I couldn’t see what all the long-time players were complaining about. Granted I never played third edition.

Let me slow down a bit. I spent some time really trying to figure out why I wanted to get back into D&D, and it hit me: online multiplayer today just plain sucks. There was a time when playing games with other human beings was an enjoyable experience. After middle school and the end of D&D, I burned pretty much every afternoon following high school in Team Fortress Classic. I didn’t care about gamer scores, achievements, kill streaks, or anything that could serve to enlarge my e-peen.

You see, back then games for the most part could only run on custom built computers. Maybe this is the PC elitist in me talking, but you had to be in possession of a logically functioning brain to assemble a PC in the pre-2000′s world of computers. Generally this meant that players partaking in the online world of gaming were of high quality. The few that weren’t got banned and that was that. It was a small world, so when those people went away, the average quality went up sharply.

Fast forward to today. I play maybe a handful of hours a month of Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead. That’s pretty much it. They’re great games, don’t get me wrong, but joining them means I have to wade through the unwashed masses of the current crop of “gamers.” So I hardly ever play them. Gamers today are a bunch of foul-mouthed, spoiled, bratty, selfish, egotistical, social problems. I usually leave voice chat modes completely off and type what I need to say. It’s just not worth it anymore.

I wouldn’t touch the multiplayer mode of a console game with a 40 foot pole and ear protection. The one mode I will entertain on a regular basis is co-op. That’s because I’m always playing with a friend I know in person. Following that lengthy line of explanation, it comes as no surprise that I got back to D&D.

D&D at its heart is a cooperative game between friends. It’s the ultimate cooperative game, because there are humans behind all of the controls. There aren’t any achievements, there are no stat trackers. It’s simple and honest, and can only be played because you really want to play. I enjoy the single-player aspect of video games, but I’d really been missing that social component that comes from having quality human beings playing the same game you are.

I blame consoles. Always.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Jensen about to make two guards very dead.

The original Deus Ex was considered by many gamers to be the greatest game ever made. I certainly believe it deserves praise as one of the greatest games ever made, but the greatest? I wouldn’t go that far. Don’t get me wrong, Deus Ex was a groundbreaking game both technically and when it came to gameplay. No game before and few games since have given you the complete freedom to accomplish objectives in any way you see fit (within the game’s limits of course).

The second game in the Deus Ex franchise was the much maligned Invisible War. To use a more recent comparison, Invisible War is to the original Deus Ex much like Mass Effect 2 is to Mass Effect 1. It was more shooter, more action-oriented, and it lost a lot of the RPG elements that gamers loved so much about the original.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the much anticipated return of the series following an eight year hiatus. For all intents and purposes, it was worth the wait. Human Revolution is an excellent game that takes the best parts of both the original and Invisible War and finds a (mostly) happy medium.

Human Revolution is set 25 years before the events of the original game. You play Adam Jensen, head of security for Sarif Industries. Sarif has made a major breakthrough in human augmentation that will make “augmentation rejection” a thing of the past, paving the way more than just simple prosthesis. Needless to say this has made Sarif a hot target of parties both for and against human augmentation. Jensen is mortally injured in an attack on Sarif by unknown parties, and as a result has to be augmented or die on the operating table. Again needless to say, they put more into Jensen that just what was needed to keep him alive.

Free World of Warcraft? Sorta.

I'm freeeeeee! Well, maybe not.

Starting out in a well-established game can be daunting for the new player. It also can be very expensive. Blizzard took some steps toward alleviating wallet drain this week by adding some enticements to get new players on their way through Azeroth (and beyond).

A Funny (and accurate) EVE Trailer

Yep, this is accurate:

EVE Online Trailer

The EVE n00b: Part II

Someone might be camping that gate!

You don’t have to look to find PVP in EVE Online; PVP finds you.

And, this isn’t the usual “stealthed opponent stuns then kills you” type of PVP. Because, when that happens you are inconvenienced by a corpse run, and some item durability damage. You might enter an arena to square off against a team of opponents, then queue up for more, knowing that there’s no real penalty for losing. Not so in EVE.

If fantasy MMO PVP were anything like EVE, you’d be left penniless, bleeding in a ditch by the roadside in your skivvies, while your assailants gleefully discussed your beating while sharing a pint in the local tavern.

The EVE n00b, Part I

EVE Online

I played World of Warcraft, and similar fantasy-based MMORPGs for years, and was in the mood for something different. I certainly found something different in EVE!

How different? Moving from WoW to EVE is like leaving an orderly amusement park and entering a playground, with no indication of what to do next.

Everything seems wide open. Well, until you realize that, just like a playground in the real world, some equipment is controlled by gangs of other players, and there are plenty of bullies who will steal your lunch money, if you let them.

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