Mass Effect Gauntlet: Thoughts on ME1 (2/5)

Note 1: I'm not going to post the notes for the rest of the series since I've let all my notes gather being caught up with work and whatnot. This will probably be a lot shorter since I've had a lot of time to think about all my notes and rationalize everything. I'll still be talking about each game individually and then compare and contrast the series. I left my synopsis' of ME1 and ME2 on my laptop and I'll just be proof-reading and posting the first one. Hopefully, I'll get to the second one by tomorrow.

Note 2: I did not buy the DLC for ME1.

Mass Effect has to be one of the most important pieces of modern sci-fi* in recent times. I'll say for all kinds of media, but I have to throw in a caveat. This isn't your daddy's sci-fi and it isn't entirely set within the rules of purely theoretical or loosely-based sci-fi, as there are elements of fantasy within it. For me, my definition of sci-fi is any future story that contains future tech based on scientific theories. The less believable and/or based on something it is, the less pure it is and the more mixed it is with fantasy. Since it isn't quite sci-fi, I can't decide to selectively critique scenes for not being sci-fi enough, unless it presents all the definite rules of the world. (Not so much of a concern for me in this specific game).

I guess I opened up this synopsis without any justification of my opinion. My reasoning for it is that as you play through the game, there is enough background given to start off endless amounts of stories in future games, spin-offs, books, ect. (insert_38_studios_jab_here) While it still has the Star Trek issue of all the planets being homogeneous and containing a single humanoid like species. Everything else is there ready to be touched with all kinds of emotions.

In the game, you play as your own custom Shepard (but of course the real Shepard is a red-head female!) and set off on a course of comprehending the ME universe as you go off to stop Saren from bringing chaos to the universe. However the universe is quite chaotic as it is, so you must quell the little chaos to stop the big chaos from happening. The fact that you are female seems to only matter for romance purposes (can't romance Ashley? meh) and as far as I can tell only one dialog action that struck me and made me take the renegade option.

Upon my second play through of this game, I've come to three conclusions. The first conclusion is that I like the combat in this game. I'll admit that it can become a bit in gun combat, by endgame you can create a gun that will never overheat. However, does that really matter? I've found that you only really use guns in the downtime between biotics, so why game the combat further? It isn't the best part of the game, so refining it will do little to nothing to the game experience as a whole. Second, I HATE THE MAKO. It is boring it is slow. If I wasn't so entrenched into getting a few achievements in this second playthru, i wouldn't have bothered to do a single side quest. Speaking of side quests, the side quests in this game don't seem to regard the actions you have taken in the main game. Do you know how many Rachni I've dealt with after killing the queen? Too many to feel like any decisions matter at all in this game.

So, the side-quests made little sense to me and I started to skip talks with the council after a while, so what was really keeping me engaged in the game? The companions. For the most part, learning about each character's side-plot in relation to the galaxy (I keep switching between universe and galaxy... sorry) was. I say for the most part because to be honest, I couldn't stand Ashley as a companion. I killed her off in my first play of the game without even knowing her, but getting to know her this time through, I ended up doing it again. I guess it is mainly because of being an atheist and I didn't really agree with some things she said. However, Ashley and Liara are both pretty religious. Liara didn't bug me. She never threw it in my face, it was just a part of her (When something dangerous was going to happen: "By the goddess..." and that was my religious contact with her.

While I loved the companions a lot in the game, I didn't "love" them. The romance options were really awkward and to be honest. In my first play-through, I romance Liara. Wondering how it would go, I decided to romance Kaidan to see story-wise how it would go in the trilogy.

Going back to gameplay, I don't feel like I'll ever play hardcore mode again. All the mode really is is that you take more damage, deal less and your opponents have more health. Someday, I hope harder difficulties means better AI again... The game is also buggy as all hell on the 360 for me at least (why I'm not playing on PC? I HATE Origin.) and the game froze on me over ten times in the course of the play through. The only time I felt the actual combat was difficult was with the final boss Saren.

If I were to ever give the game a review, I would be at a loss. I have the same issue with this game as I do Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and the Chrono Trigger port for the DS (Chrono Trigger DS had a bonus dungeon and extra items in the game). The more I play the remaining content of this game, the more I hate it. Without playing the extra content, I would think higher of the game but I feel like the package as a whole should be judged. I guess I'll come back to that after I reflect on the rest of the series.

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Mass Effect Gauntlet: Intro/Notes on ME1 (1/7?)

So Mass Effect 3 has been out for a while! I haven't played it yet! I've had this awesome idea that I'd try the demo for ME3, play through the previous two entries in full, then finally tackle on the ending of the series! Knowing myself, I'd either completely embrace it, or be completely cynical of my findings. I had this plan one week after the ME3 demo came out. I didn't start enacting this plan until two weeks before ME3 proper came out. Let's just say I failed my initial plan of doing this quickly. Hearing news of ME3, it is probably for the better...

Basically, this set of posts will go as follows:

  1. I play through the trilogy one game at a time and take random notes as a play
  2. I'll post those notes in order without context in a post
  3. I'll then do a second post as a proper critique of the game in question
  4. Rinse/repeat for the entire series
  5. Make a final post for the entire series

Notice: I've played ME1/2 previously, but on separate platforms. I played 1 on 360 and 2 on PC. I've decided that I'll be replaying the trilogy on 360 alone. I'm playing ME1 with my previous character on Hardcore mode. Although I say it outright in the first note, my character is an infiltrator. Not so much noted, is a red head female Shepard. I called out the real Shepard years ago baby! I've also played the ME3 demo to myself a continual back and forth look with each game as I play it (won't show up much in these notes). Finally, I don't take detailed notes. I thought it would be interesting to post this in addition to my write-up to see if I focus on different things as I play and in my reflection of it all.

  • At first, I thought I would clear most of these achievements in this second run, but i'm an infiltrator and these completionist achievements suck.
  • I keep forgetting if the voice of Anderson is Lawrence Fishburne (AKA gappy) or the guy who had the epic fight in They Live...
  • I'm falling asleep driving this cruiser... and scanning planets
  • I'm suddenly reminded of Jade Empire playing ME1 on Hardcore. I'm not really sure increasing damage and decreasing defense is enough in itself to be a new difficulty.
  • I HATE managing inventory in this game. I'm just gonna set it and forget it.
  • I HATE managing sidequests in this game! Give me an arrow to point where I should go after selecting a quest! When did WoW come out?
  • I never overheat EVER
  • Where did this music come from? Where have you been all my life? This is awesome!
  • Do enemies not attack if they don't see you? I don't have a cloaking device or anything....
  • I don't like how this series sets the Star Trekian trope of how each planet is just a really small town...
  • Wait... This is Cerberus? Talk about a retcon!
  • You know what? I'm ok with being a renegade, everyone sucks! They are all stupid!
  • Report in to the council? Ha! I'd rather waste time gambling at the Flux. I have max money and I still find it more productive on my time!
  • Sniper rifle? Ha! I can just shoot them with my pistol. And..... they are dead
  • BUT I ANNIHILATED ALL THE RACHNI!!
  • Ashley is religious? Is that why I got rid of her? She just kinda stands as the odd one out in the universe *smh*
  • Two missions shy of getting completion achievement with Ashley and Kaidan. Oh well, so not going back anytime soon.
  • I think Jeff talked about this in a bombcast, about that Reckoning game. The more effort to explore the world, the worse it actually felt. Feeling that right now.
  • All the dumb alien races: "What is this giant structure and all these other devices scattered across the universe?" One smart alien: "I have no idea of what it could possibly be. Since none of us do, why don't we do some research..." All the dumb alien races: "We will use this tech as our own and this big unknown thing will be our government. YAY!" One smart alien: *smh*
  • So because I'm a Spectre I can do anything I want? But Saren is a Spectre, and I'm hunting him because he is doing something bad. I'm a renegade Spectre... When will the hunter.... be.... the.... hunted!?!?!
  • Foresight: I don't remember my spectre status being revoked in ME2, so wth was going on in the ME3 demo?
  • Umm.... This is the first time in the game I've been called out for being a woman. RENEGADE OPTION!
  • Totally forgot about Ilos AKA the majority of the plot.
  • Hey, I finally died... splash damage sucks
  • You know, I felt bad about letting the council die, but then the credits rolled... Buying this band's music right NOW! Don't fail me now google music!

I'll give a more structured look back at this game in my next entry.

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My reaction to the Supreme Court Ruling

At first I was really excited about the ruling. However when I found out it wasn't a unanimous ruling, I set out to find out why, the counterarguement was one that freaked me out and I realized that this fight is far from over. Maybe it is over to specifically direct these laws against video games, but this has been an ongoing struggle for all forms of media for decades, centuries even... 
 
What urked me was the following: 

Justice Clarence Thomas focused on his researched understanding that the frames of the United States Constitution did not believe children enjoyed the same access to Free Speech as adults. "The history clearly shows a founding generation that believed parents to have complete authority over their minor children and expected parents to direct the development of those children." As a result, he said, the California law restricting the sale of gams to minors was within Constitutional bounds.   

I read another article where another supporter of the california bill (not a judge) had the same opinion and hinted that taking that approach as the next step to essentially get this bill passed. I don't like that idea in the slightest bit. 
 
So what does that mean exactly? I'm not a government major, but oddly enough I've seen bylaws in an org I'm in get distorted around a similar concept. In my org, we have the ability to give those that can't meet our guidelines for membership the title of honorary membership. This is either given to those who exemplify the principles of our organization, but can't meet the requirements for any of our types of membership for whatever reason. This got brought into question because it has been customary for this honor be given to the children of those whose parents were members and died, but are following the same path. Because of that usage of that type of membership, there was an attempt to set an age limit for all types of membership. This was eventually shot down, because there is no set age when a person matures and the body who votes on granting that membership should determine in their own opinion if that person is worthy regardless of age. 
 
I guess I am going off course a bit, but I feel like they will be attacking the definition of a citizen by what is stated in the U.S. Constitution. According to our constitution, a person born here is a citizen and is therefore entitled to inalienable rights. This judge thinks that is invalid and there is some sort of age gate between being born and being a U.S. citizen.  
 
This brings to me two issues... First, if they aren't a U.S. citizen when they are born, what are they? An alien, object, pet? Secondly, this still doesn't establish the need for this rule. Say the statement is true that parents are mandated to possess children for X amount of years... What would give the government the permission to establish restrictive sales to these people? I would say that were only possible if that person was declared Ward of the Court... 
 
I really hope it never goes that far, but if it does, I'll be laughing my way to the airport buying a ticket to Japan...
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Backlog catch up: Resident Evil 5

I have a long backlog of games that I'm hoping to take care of before the summer ends. First up is Resident Evil 5. I think first off I should go over my brief history with the franchise, why I stopped playing it, and my opinion of it after finishing the game. 
 
This series is one that has been long loved by my brother from the campy first release of RE1 (we both have a thing for crappy fmvs and crappy movies in general). While I personally loved the story, I absolutely couldn't tolerate the controls. Because of that, I completely skipped the first 3 games. Code: Veronica was going to be my first swan dive into the series, but at the time my tv was crappy to the point that the dark was impossible to deal with. By the time i got a replacement, my copy for Dreamcast disappeared...  I did play RE4 (on ps2 and wii) and I loved it. 
 
I bought the Gold edition of RE5  on 360 the day it came out (I dont like buying dlc) and stopped playing it until the end of chapter 2. My problem at the time was that I felt like I was playing RE4 again. If I had to play RE4 again, I'd rather it be the Wii version... I was tempted at first to sell the game, but I remembered the DLC wasn't on disk, so i kept it in my backlogs. 
 
I finally picked it up again after moving and I still feel pretty much the same about it. Aside from the first boss, very little of the game felt new to me. Sure one enemy that could fly, but every other enemy/boss was a derivative, even Wesker to a degree. However once I hit chapter 5, I couldn't stop playing althought I thought i was playing RE4.5: GoW edition. I was addicted to the story. I wanted to take out Wesker for once and for all (although this was the only RE I played with him as the enemy, not the first one i watched with him in it).  
 
So in the end, did I like the game? Yes. Can I recommend the game? If you are a RE fan and haven't played RE4 in a few years, yeah. If you haven't touched the series, I'd recommend the Wii edition of RE4 and is there Move support for RE5? Is it any good? If so, I'd recommend that. 
 
Without getting into spoilers of the game and whatnot, I'd probably leave it at that. I think next up on my list is either Darksiders, Bionic Commando (full console) *shiver*, or ... Prey. WoW action game it is!

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My Personal Final Fantasy rankings

I know I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but in all honestly, "To each his own". I guess I should put a disclaimer for those to realize there is a definite divide in the final fantasy series in style and feel after FFVI. I'm definitely biased towards games that are of or feel more like a pre-FFVII style.

 
Burning time before I leave Las Vegas (home of the Vegans... ha ha~), I have played every main FF game. The only one I haven't beaten (outside of FFXI) is FFXIII. I figured I'd give a personal ranking to all 14 of them and rank them from 1 (best) to 13 (worst. I'm excluding FFXI and FFXIV,  including FFX-2) and a one-three sentence description of each one (I might go into more detail in a later date...). I have to admit since I haven't finished XIII, this is a snap judgment of it (a 9-hour snap judgment mind you). If you think you know me, you have no idea. These are my rankings for FF.     
 
  1.  Final Fantasy VI SNES(As FFIII in USA)/PS/GBA
    The final SNES FF is also the most epic in terms of story and leveling system. The magicite in this game is the granddaddy of Materia in FFVII.  
  2.    Final Fantasy IV SNES(as FFII in USA)/PS/GBA/DS
    A classic title in the RPG series. There are a diverse set of characters, something that ends up becoming a staple in the series.
  3. Final Fantasy IX PS
    I found it to be a great homage to the classic FF titles while incorporating the limit break system from FFVII with the equipment based skill learning system from Final Fantasy Tactics.  
  4.    Final Fantasy V Super Famicon/PS/GBA(?)
    A job class system that is more complex and more fun than FFIII, but the plot is a step back from FFIV.
  5.  Final Fantasy X PS2
    A candidate for title "only FF game the masses have played". Like many RPGs of the PS2 era, this game is pretty linear and is chock full of cut-scenes a la the MGS series. Despite this, the game has a unique grid based leveling system and a nice modification to the limit breaks from FFVII.  
  6.  Final Fantasy 3 Famicon/DS
    A fun little RPG that lets you switch jobs on the fly. The endgame made me want to off myself, although it is far from the hardest endgame in the series.
  7.      Final Fantasy XII PS2
    Take FFXI, take out the job system, add in a leveling system that resembles FFX, add in the summons from FFVIII, and make it single-player and you have FFXII. Since I'm not ranking FFXI it should be known that I loved the difficulty of the game. Not having to rely on my fellow americans to keep off aggro and heal made the post-endgame enjoyable.
  8. Final Fantasy X-2 PS2
    A needless entry to the series and the first direct sequel. Despite playing for 30 hours just to get to the answer of one question you only found on youtube to begin with (because Square just loves us americans), this cannot be ignored as being the FF title with the fastest pace in battle. Switching classes in this game is so fun.    
  9.  Final Fantasy VIII PS/PC
    Yes, this game was stupid in that you can idle in a place where time stopped and still earn income, but besides the odd/predictable plot, it was a good game. This game introduced summons having their own HP and drawing magic from enemies added a nice twist to the mix (mashing square? not so much). And FYI, play the game before you decides who actually said the text in the game's opening    >_>
  10.  Final Fantasy 1 NES/PS/GBA/PSP
    A generic, but very difficult RPG with a D&D magic system to confuse the hell out of anyone who hasn't rolled the dice. I think the main reason for the low ranking because there are many other games with a better complete package.    If you fail at life at this game, try the GBA port (not sure the psp has the following) it removed the D&D spell system with the MP that we so know and take for granted.
  11.  Final Fantasy VII PS/PC
    Think a sci-fi/emo FFVI with graphics that don't age well. This was a turning point of the series with the art direction going from medieval/fantasy to sci fi/fantasy. I'm probably one of the few that hated it, despite it bringing the limit break system.    
  12.  Final Fantasy 2 Famicon/PS/GBA/PSP
    The absolute worst rpg-leveling system ever created. I played through this more to be a completist and less for the entertainment of the game.  
  13.    Final Fantasy XIII PS3/360 
    Remember when I called FFX linear? I take that back, this game takes the cake. "The game becomes more open later on..." blah blah blah. Besides the linearity, I'm having an issue with the whole battle system. I don't like the fact it took away the control that FFXII gave me and made two of the three characters completely automated. 
 
And that is my list, before I get flamed, I know i"ll eventually finish FFXIII. You should know it took me 2 years to touch the last disk of FFVIII. Also about RPG linearity, one of my favorite RPG series outside of FF was pretty much a linear experience. Its sequels were likely influenced slightly by FFX into that mold. If you ever give the Shadow Hearts series a shot. Try it out and tell me if I'm on crack for not liking FFXIII more than I do now. 
 
I also realized making a list that the rankings I give dont give a score. maybe I'll do that later.
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Laundry Day

 such a laundry day
and its mine
it's the laundriest day of my life
such a laundry day
that can't missed
one that i'll reminisce

and if you wash
I wanna wash with you
and if you dry
I wanna dry with you
Take my bills into the change machine~!    

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