Running The Relays-Part 1: A Mass Effect Marathon

I’ve decided, against my better judgement, to play through Mass Effect’s 1 and 2 before I play through 3 and I’m going to document the experience. Why, you might be asking? Well there’s a few reasons, which I’ll go through for anybody who might be interested.

Reason the first: As of yet I haven’t contributed a huge amount to the community outside of forum posts and a review of a book that, judging by the comments (zero) wasn’t exactly on anyone’s radar, so this will be a good chance to have a regular blog that I update...uh...regularly.

Reason the second: I’ve played through both games already but have recently gotten a new gamertag, so my saves aren’t available. I know there’s a way to transfer those but I had already sorta decided on doing this before I found out about that route, so i’ll just barrel ahead. Plus achievements. Those sweet, sweet chievos.

Reason the third: Unfortunate things happened in my playthrough of ME1, things that remain a sore point with me. By things I mean one thing. Wrex didn’t make it. I loved Wrex, he was one of my favorite characters an when Ashley decided to put a bullet in him (that damn dirty wench) it seriously bummed me out. Then I found out from a friend that was avoidable cause HIS Wrex was just fine. At the time I didn’t feel like playing through again so ME2 was Wrex-less. This is a situation I intend to rectify. No Wrex left behind!

So those are my reasons, and that’s my plan, I’m setting aside all the other games I’m playing right now (Deus Ex, Skyrim, MK, Resident Evil 5) to power through these games. The hardest part is going to be having ME3 staring me in the face for however long it takes me to get through this. That and avoiding spoilers. I plan on writing a new blog post once a week, nothing too crazy, some story updates, where I am, the feel of the mechanics, etc, in as entertaining a fashion as possible. As far as DLC goes, I’ll probably skip it for ME1, but since I have it all for ME2, I’ll probably play through it. I still haven’t played Shadow Broker or Overlord yet so it’ll be a brand new experience.

Unless I hear otherwise, I’m not gonna worry about spoilers for 1, for 2 and 3, I’ll try to limit them or use spoiler tags. If I make it that far. I’ll be honest, my willpower may not hold out that long but I’ll try. By god, I’ll try...

Once more, unto the breach...

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My Onlive experience

I've heard a lot about this whole Onlive mumbo jumbo and while sorta interested, haven't given it much thought. Reactions that i've heard about the service have seemed mostly middling. Some better, some worse. From what i've gathered, it seems like cool tech but its not setting the world on fire. That's nothing new to anybody I'm sure.

Recently, however, my interest in the service went from "casual" to "hey I should give this a look". What precipitated this change? 40K, that's what. It's no secret that I'm a fan of the 40K universe but seeing as how I own a Mac mini, i've been forced to sit on the sidelines when it comes to the Dawn of War games. I was able to find a fan ported version of Dark Crusade, which I gleefully downloaded (I bought the game back when I had a PC and would have again but they don't like us Mac users over there in Vancouver. I'm not at all a fan of piracy but in this case I don't feel too bad.) But for Dawn of War 2, I've been kinda screwed.

Until now.

Onlive recently added the game to its roster so I decided, "what the heck, lets give this a shot". Signing up was a pretty painless experience, email, username, password, that's it, that's all, you've got yourself a trial account. Quick install of the Onlive program and done. RUN PROGRAM! (or should I say, application)

What happened next, I can only attribute to tech wizardry. A window popped up as does with most programs, a promo video started running, and boom. Menu screen. Searched for game. Selected. Run game. Game starts. Holy crap I'm playing DoW2 and it took all of five minutes from inception of idea to execution.

Magic.

I was so impressed, after the 20 minute trial period I fed my credit card into the system and $20 bones later, I'm playing the full version of Dawn of War 2 complete with Chaos Rising expansion (no Retribution as of yet).

To be fair, it's not a perfect experience, video options are pretty limited but to be honest with my weak sauce comp, it probably looks better then it would have installed. When the game is running in windowed mode it's a bit fuzzy but in full screen it looks great. The cursor feels a tad floaty and the text is kinda tiny. I wish I could monkey with some of that stuff. Also there's the whole "I don't actually OWN this game" thing that's sorta strange. Should they one day remove the game from the system, or the entire thing folds, I'm out $20, but I'm not too worried right now and considering I'm legally playing a game that wasn't made for my system and probably would run like crap on it anyway, I'm pretty stoked.

I've only played for about 45 minutes so this is an initial impression but I'm real impressed right now. I expected some serious lag but there's really none at all. I imagine if I was playing a FPS or racing game I may not be as happy with it but for an RTS, its great.

So yeah. Like I said, so far, Onlive seems like magic to me. If you'll excuse me there's some Orks that need to be boltered.

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Imperial Glory by Richard Williams (40K Book Review. No spoilers)

 


 
I thought I'd use my blog to throw a review on here, yeah I know it's not a book website but as there's no Whiskey Media Book website and I know there's some 40K fans on here, what the heck.
 
I just finished reading this book and I cannot recommend it enough. If you’re a fan of Imperial Guard, the 40K universe, or you just want to read a good book, you really should pick this one up. It’s written by Richard Williams, this is the first book of his I’ve read and I gotta say he’s made himself another fan.

Imperial Glory is about the Brimlock 11th, a company that’s nearing the end of its fighting days. After years of service they’ve finally been granted leave from fighting the Emperors battles and are given a world to settle on and watch over. Essentially they get to play babysitter the rest of their days. There’s a catch of course, as there always is. An Ork Rok that had previously been thought to be destroyed has been found crashed on the planet by the colonists and feral Orks have started showing up. They’re sent down on a last mission to take the Xenos out before settling down on the planet. It doesn’t turn out to be as easy as it sounds.

The interesting thing about this book is that the battle isn’t really the main focus of the story. There’s a ton of fighting to be sure and the action is great, but the theme of the book is really about the past and the effect it can have. The focus is on three main characters and how this theme plays out for them. There’s Major Stanhope, a man who’s unable to put the past behind him, 2nd Lieutenant Carson, a man unable to escape his past actions, and Private Blanks, a man who has no idea what his past is. There’s a number of really great supporting characters as well that flesh out the company, you really get the sense that the 11th have been fighting far longer then is healthy for a persons well being. Physically, they’re extremely capable soldiers, but mentally...some of them not so much. They range from weary to downright insane. A few stand out including a Trooper and the Ogryn who never leaves his side, and a former athlete turned Captain who still carries his gameball around with him. And has drawn a face on it. And named it Mister Emmet.

There’s some good touches of humor in this book but it also gets pretty dark. The 11th are made up of a few different companies that have been ravaged over the years and integrated and there’s some tension between the soldiers. The biggest threat (aside from the green skinned variety) comes from a Commissar attached to the group. I wont go into detail but its safe to say this guy is a cast iron bastard, far more interested in using his pistol on the soldiers then on the enemy. I found him to be maybe a little over the top in how evil this guy is, but it does give you someone to really hate.

What I also found really great was a few short interludes that show things from the Ork perspective and give you a sense of how a Warboss comes to power and also how some Gretchin may be a little more on the ball then you might think. Given the fluff that talks about how originally they may have been running things, it adds a bit more depth to the Orks that I really liked.

Aside from the Commissar seeming a little TOO evil I found the pacing at the beginning of the book to be a little bit hard to follow at first. The timeline and location jumps around a little which threw me off a bit at first, but really it was my own fault for not paying close enough attention as it gives you a clear where and when each time the plot line jumps. Also the various plot lines are set up early and some of them seem to be left hanging, but by the end everything is tied up in a really interesting, totally satisfying way. Those are minor criticisms really and are due more to my own preferences/reading habits then any shortcoming of the author.

Like I said, I definitely recommend you read this. The majority of the book sets a great pace with some really fleshed out characters and some great action. Plus, I have to be honest, the last few pages left me a little misty. I’d be interested to see what others think of the ending but...yeah, suffice to say I loved it. You need to read this book.

4.5/5
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