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Friday, April 26, 2013

Hey, what do you all think of the new background for my site? I think it is awesome myself

I just changed the layout and background for this blog.  It now has a Halo themed wall paper and will make it look much more video game oriented than a generalized video game blog. I think I will keep the halo themed background for the time being (at least until I come up with a better one).  I will also updating my tabs, pages and ads on the site (such as making the affiliate offers on this site beg more related to the video game niche, like he Amazon.com ad I have for the Xbox 360. Stay tuned for more updates.

Just merged this site with my Xbox 360 fan site

Hey everyone, in case if you have not noticed, I decided to merge this blog with my Xbox 360 fan site (formerly at www.xboxfreak.ws).  It has proven to be difficult to maintain both sites and both this blog and my Xbox 360 fan site pretty much cover the same kind of niche (video games, xbox 360, etc) and so I decided that merging the two websites into one site would be the best way to go.  By the way, I did transfer some of the content from my other site (such as the links page from my original site).  I will also rewrite my reviews of the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and the Kinect as time allows.  Also a nice thing about having a blog is that it is easier for people to comment, share content, as well as subscribe to the feed on my site.  Stay tuned for more posts. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mass Effect 3 - is it worth playing? Ryan's Review of Mass Effect 3

Well, the epic finale to the Mass Effect series is here and assuming you have not played the game, or maybe you have but want a different take to the game, you are in luck.  I will share with you my experience with playing Mass Effect 3.


Overview / Story of Mass Effect 3

Ah, it is officially War of the Worlds, Mass Effect style.  I got Mass Effect 3 about a month after it came out and I was definitely looking forward to the game, especially after beating Mass Effect 2 twice not long before Mass Effect 3 came out and so I still had Mass Effect 2 still fresh in my memory when playing ME 3.  Storywise, as it turns out the first 2 games in the series seemed to have served to set the stage for the events in the 3rd game.  Saren from Mass Effect 1 and the Collectors from Mass Effect 2 were merely pawns of the reapers, which is an evil alien race basically bent of a genocidal war against the human race and other races they don't like and now in Mass Effect 3, the reapers have arrived and have launched a full scale war across the galaxy (which will definitely remind you of movies and books like Independence Day, War of the Worlds and even Power Rangers, where you get evil alien races trying to conquer the universe), and even Earth is facing possible destruction by the reapers.  Initially commander Shepard was relieved of his duties and was grounded on earth after the events of Mass Effect 2, as well as the expansion pack "The Arrival", namely his temporary alliance with Cerberus (the Alliance did not take kindly to Shepard's involvement with Cerberus) as well as an incident where he destroyed a warp drive in the Batarian sector of space and accidently killing Batarians when trying to keep the reapers from entering the Batarian sector and wreaking havoc early on.  However, once the reapers invade Earth, Shepard is once again called back to duty and it is basically up to him to amass a huge army of all of the races across the galaxy and create the ultimate weapon known as the Catalyst that can be used to stop the reapers.  To make matters worse, Shepard's former allies at Cerberus have gone rogue and the Illusive Man (who was possibly indoctrinated by the reapers) has launched a scheme to control the reapers as well as hinder Shepard's efforts to unite the galaxy against the reapers, forcing Shepard to both take on the Reapers as well as Cerberus (though luckily some Cerberus agents like Miranda and Jacob do remain loyal to Shepard).
Mass Effect 3 - Shepard vs Reaper machine

 Highlights of the game includes but not limited to:

- Curing or sabatoging the genophage, thus drawing Shepard into the middle of a lenthy conflict between the Salarians and the Krogan races.
- Defending the citadel from attacks by Cerberus
- Regaining the trust of Ashley/Kaiden (their trust of Shepard had been shaken by Shepard's tenure at Cerberus during the events of Mass Effect 2) and Shepard maybe be forced to kill Ashley/Kaiden if he fails to regain their trust.
- Getting involved with the conflict between the Geth and the Quarians
- Lots of side missions too, including defending a biotic academy from Cerberus, diffusing a nuclear bomb on the Krogan homeworld, and many others
- Romance options.  In my renegade game, my guy dated Tali, but it is also possible to strike up a romance (at least from male perspective) with Liara, Miranda, Jack, Ashley, and some of the other female members of the crew.  Also, if you have dated 2 different people during the series, jealousy does ensue too and Shepard is forced into a love triangle.
- Massive Multiplayer mode (by the way, playing multiplayer can help improve your readiness rating.

General review of Mass Effect 3


The good:

1. Great storyline.  It is also darker than the previous two installments and is much more epic too.
2. I like how you can make choices in the game and how they impact how things play out.  By the way, the Mass Effect series is very unique in a way that choices you make in Mass Effects 1 and 2 can have a profound impact in Mass Effect 3 too .  For example, if any of your squad mates die in the first 2 games, they are dead for good and do not return in Mass Effect 3.  In Mass Effect 1, Kaiden or Ashley will have been killed off (if you played Mass Effect 1, there was a point where you had to save one or the other, but you could not save both) and the surviving character will appear in Mass Effect 3 (ultimately as a squad mate).  It is also possible to have Wrex killed off in the first game too (he will be replaced by his brother Wrev in that scenario).  In Mass Effect 2, characters who die in the suicide mission (btw, it is possible to keep everyone alive in Mass Effect 2 depending on how well you prepare for the suicide mission and how you did choice wise on the final mission, such as choosing the right specialists for the missions, upgrading weapons, shields and engines before launching the suicide mission as well as how well you were able to keep the loyalty of your crew).  By the way if you want to have romances in Mass Effect 3, for some of the characters, the relationship will have to have been started in ME 2 (such as Tali and Miranda).  Choices can also impact how people perceive you (were you a total jerk or were you a nice guy), who is on the council, and ultimately how the game plays out.  You also have big choices to make in Mass Effect 3 too that will also dictate how things play out too (one example is when you get involved in the war between the geth and the quarians, and at the end of that mission, you can either choose to bring peace to the two races or anhilation to one of the two races).  I've never seen anything like the choice system from the Mass Effect series where choices from one game can affect the other (even the Star Wars Knights of the Republic games did not have this).
3. The game is pretty long too.  Seems to be a little bit shorter than Mass Effect 2 and you don't have nearly as many side missions as you did in Mass Effect 1 or 2, but the story line will take you several days to play through.  By the way, there are expansion packs and additional missions that you can download from Xbox live, but it does cost extra to use them, but they can extend the game quite nicely.
4. Smooth controls
5. Multiple difficulty levels.  Casual players will probably like the easy mode difficulties, while more advanced players and diehard gamers will probably like the harder mode difficulties. 
6. Great voice acting.  I thought that the actors did a pretty good job portraying their roles
7. Lots of suspense and the game will keep you on edge. 
8. I liked the final showdown against the reapers as well as Cerberus.  Even the final confrontation against the Illusive man was pretty cool.
9. Great shooter elements too.  I like how you can customize your weapons as well as the selections of the weapons and abilities you can use.  I remember in Mass Effect 2, the selection was a bit more limited.
10. Excllent Grapics too - just as you would expect from an Xbox 360 game


The Bad

1. Like others, I thought that the endings could have been better, though the extended cut expansion pack does make them better and expands on each of the endings. Also I do have to admit that the final confrontation against the Harbinger and the Illusive man were a bit anticlimactic, a good final boss battle would have been awesome.  It would have been awesome to take on the Harbinger in an epic boss battle as well as the Illusive man being turned into a reaper monster that you have to fight.
2. This game might be too dark for some people.  If you thought that Mass Effect 2 was dark (especially during the final mission when you take on the collectors), Mass Effect 3 is significantly darker.  Even towards the beginning of the game when the reapers invade earth, it was pretty much "hell on earth" (much like a scene you would see in the game, Saving Private Ryan with onslaught from the reapers) and there is a scene where a kid (who Commander Shepard tries to help) and a bunch of other people try to escape in a shuttle only to be shot down and destroyed by one of the huge reaper machines (and that is just the beginning of the game).  Also, the entire galaxy is one giant battlefield.
3. I remember having to change disks frequently.  I liked it more in Mass Effect 2 where you only have to change disks twice (once after the horizon mission and once just before you start the final mission).
4. The multiplayer missions do get redundant after a while I know some people will probably like playing alone more.

Final thoughts about Mass Effect 3:
All and all I think Mass Effect 3 was a great game and I bet most if not all fans of the Mass Effect series will enjoy the third and final chapter of the series.  Obviously one can't make everyone happy and there are some downsides to the game too, such as the fact that the game is significantly darker than the previous 2 entries of the series, and the fact that the endings could have been better, but the game definitely has a lot to offer and makes a pretty good conclusion to the series in my opinion.  I found my self playing through the game twice myself and there are several incentives to do multiple playthroughs, such as trying to see how the outcome changes based on the choices you make, having Shepard get in relationships with fellow squad mates (my guy dated Tali in my second playthough, and I thought that was pretty cool).  The game is pretty long too and it will definitely keep you busy for hours if not days. 

Thinking about getting Mass Effect 3?  You can pick up a copy at Amazon.com here!

Mass Effect 4 Sequel? 
I have thought that Mass Effect 3 was the final game in the series, but it seems like there might be another game in the works (at least I have seen articles and rumors on it).  Not really sure what the next game will be about or whether Commander Shepard will be in it, but I suppose there are some sequel ideas I have:
- Prequels trilogy.  I know the Mass Effect series has an extensive back story (such as the story behind the protheans, who fell victim to the reapers long before the main games take place).  Also, the Krogan rebellion would make an interesting game.  There also seem to be events that take place between the games (such as Cerberus taking over Omega sometime between Mass Effects 2 and 3).  I suppose they can also do a "next generation" version of Mass Effect that takes place a whole generation or 2 after the events of Mass Effect 3.  I suppose only time will tell, but I guess we will find out soon enough about upcoming games.  By the way, I don't work for EA games or Bioware, so I have no idea what they are planning so I can only speculate for now.

Ryan Jones
Fellow Xbox 360 Gamer and Amazon.com Affiliate
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What do you think about Mass Effect 3?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.