Mass Effect 3

Already since the first game, I felt that the Mass Effect series was the grandest undertaking of the current console generation. And now, having finished the trilogy, I am absolutely certain of it. While none of the individual games are perfect, this is one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. The vast, detailed universe (actually, that is just the Milky Way galaxy) BioWare have created, with all the different intelligent species, with hundreds of planets, with complex political relationships, is beautiful. Just beautiful. I can only think of a handful of cases in the history of gaming where comparable amounts of effort have been put into crafting a game/series’ universe. And Mass Effect may actually be THE most complex one of all.

Since I first played the game quite a few months after it came out, I couldn’t help expecting a mess of an ending, as that was the almost unanimous opinion among gamers on the internet. However, I can now safely say that those claims are incorrect. Mass Effect 3 provides a very fascinating conclusion, staying true to the principles of the series. It’s natural that there are people who don’t like it, but, given the size of the saga, there is no possible ending that couldn’t have ticked someone off. So fear not, BioWare did NOT mess up with Mass Effect’s ending. It’s a fitting conclusion to the saga.

Mass Effect 3 Cover

Game: Mass Effect 3
Developer: BioWare
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Wii U
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

The third game in the series is another solid entry. Like the second one, it improves on some things in the predecessor, but is then weaker in other aspects. The thrilling struggle against the Reapers and the brilliant finale have Mass Effect easily leapfrog the second game in terms of overall story. Sadly, it doesn’t hold up as far as conversations/development of your teammates goes (even though we are already familiar with a great part of them). Annoying gameplay features from the second game like streamlined stats distribution as opposed to precise, point-by-point growth, and thermal clips (ammo), sadly remain here. Neat things like hacking are completely gone. It was clearly important for BioWare to keep the game tuned for the average gamer and maximise its sales. But those issues still do not detract much from the overall excellence of Mass Effect 3.

Seeing as I played the game on PC, this is another review where I provide my own screenshots.

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Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden 2 Kickstarter

Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden

In the recent days, I was extremely excited to find out that Tales of Game’s, the creators of the magnificent PC RPG Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa wanted to work on a sequel. For this purpose, they set up a Kickstarter page, and it’s not only underway, but it exceeded its initial goal of $35,000 in under a day! I must shamefully admit that I haven’t even beaten the first game… I’ve played like an hour of it and postponed it until later times that are apparently yet to come. But it is such a fun concept, the story setting is absolutely brilliant, and it stars the likes of Barkley and Jordan in a cyberpunk world! I highly recommend it, furthermore, it’s free! Visit the above link to download it.

And, if you’ve got some money to support the Kickstarter for the sequel, please do so. It has reached its initial goal, but the developers said that the more money they raise, the more time they’ll put into the project and the more ideas they’ll be able to realise. I’m sure that even just reading the Kickstarter page will assure you that we’re talking guys with very good sense of humour here. 🙂

Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden 2 Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/talesofgames/barkley-2-an-rpg-sequel-to-barkley-shut-up-and-jam

Sonic Adventure 2 – a relic of the past

SEGA like to release their old stuff on PSN/XBLA/Steam lately, making some completely free money off their past work. I was a big fan of SEGA back in the 16-bit era, and, of course, the 2D Sonic games were a major reason for that. Sonic was WAY cooler than Mario in the 2D world, he carried SEGA forward, and that is why the Mega Drive/Genesis was such a success. I never owned a Saturn or a Dreamcast, though, so I had missed on Sonic’s later forays, this time in the 3D world. And while his more recent games have been widely hated (Sonic Generations being a recent exception), the Dreamcast entries Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 have always been beloved by the fanbase. Thus, quite curious to see just how good the first 3D Sonics could be in comparison to less popular stuff like Unleashed, which I’d tried a couple of years ago, I recently downloaded the demo of Sonic Adventure 2 on PSN.

Sonic Adventure 2

Game: Sonic Adventure 2
Developer: Sonic Team
Platforms: Dreamcast, GameCube (Sonic Adventure 2: Battle version), PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, PC
Original release: 2001
Territories: All
Price: $9.99

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Retro City Rampage – fresh with nostalgia

I occasionally try out demos, mostly on the PlayStation Network. Very rarely has a demo made me buy a game (the awesome early PS3 action-adventure Folklore comes to mind), but they’re a fine addition of the current generation, a real step forward from the years before when we only got demos rarely, through game magazines or the rare inclusions of a highly anticipated game’s demo in a previous game by the same company (think Metal Gear Solid 2’s demo in Zone of the Enders).

With this article, I’m starting a new section of the site, where I’ll share my quick impressions from demos I have found to be notable. And the first one I’ll write about is Retro City Rampage.

Retro City Rampage

Game: Retro City Rampage
Developer: Vblank Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PlayStation Network (playable on both PS3 and PS Vita); Coming soon: Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare
Original release: 2012
Territories: All
Price: $14.99

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The new Final Fantasy VII PC version is out!

Square Enix have finally put the new Final Fantasy VII PC version up for sale. Sadly, the rumour that it would be up on Steam didn’t hold true. What we do know is that this new version has improved graphics and music compared to the original PC release, though, naturally, it’s far from the full-blown modern-technology remake fans want so much. For a limited time, the game costs just 10 Euros to download, so I highly recommend it to anyone that has not played this masterpiece yet!

Final Fantasy VII Cloud

Official website: http://finalfantasyviipc.com/

Video Game Music of the Week – 06-12.08.2012

Still in a PSO mood, this week I’ve decided to share PSO2’s take on “A Whole New World” with you. PSO fans will instantly recognise it. It’s enjoyable and shows promise for the PSO2 soundtrack as a whole. Of course, I do not hope for a soundtrack as amazing as Phantasy Star Online’s, that would be too much to ask. But I’ll be happy enough if PSO2’s comes close to its quality. Yes, the game is already out in Japan and I could listen to the music even now, but I prefer to wait until I get to play it myself in 2013. 🙂

Composer:  Hideaki Kobayashi
Game: Phantasy Star Online 2
Song:  A Whole New World – PSO2 Arrangement

Video Game Music of the Week – 30.07-05.08.2012

This week continues the SEGA theme, even if we’re leaving the 16-bit nostalgia behind for now. With Phantasy Star Online 2 having already come out in Japan and being mere months away from being playable in English, I cannot help recalling one of the things that made the original Phantasy Star Online so amazing – its soundtrack. It’s one of my favourite game soundtracks, and the song I’ve chosen from it is actually from Episode IV, exclusive for the PC version Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst. It’s called “Nostalgia in Solitude: Part 1”.

Composer:  Hideaki Kobayashi
Game: Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst
Song:  Nostalgia in Solitude: Part 1

Phantasy Star Online 2 gets a Western release in 2013

Phantasy Star Online 2 Start Screen

SEGA have announced that the release of the highly anticipated Phantasy Star Online 2 in Europe and North America will happen in 2013.

The game is already out in Japan and is accessible to everyone, including people living in the rest of the world, but those of us who do not want to bother with translation guides will have to wait a while for the English release Nevertheless, I am happy that the game was confirmed for the West at all, as there were some rumours floating around that it would remain Japanese-only.

As discussed earlier on “Between Life and Games”, unlike Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst, the second installment of the PSO series will be free-to-play!

Some of the Phantasy Star Online 2 features:

  • Deep sci-fi fantasy universe filled with lush landscapes, extraordinary creatures, and epic adventures
  • Revolutionary real-time combat and third-person action with devastating combos and counters to master
  • Flexible, class-based leveling system that lets players define their own play-style with distinctive melee, ranged, and magic weapon types
  • Randomized maps and unexpected mid-quest encounters that ensure each quest is different for each player
  • Deep character creation system with a nearly limitless number of potential appearances
  • Three degrees of humanity to experience across three unique races: the versatile Humans, spiritually-powered Newmen, and artificial CAST

Source: http://www.sega.com/news/?n=5722

I am happy with this news and cannot wait to recreate my FOnewearl and start her new adventure in PSO2!

Scarygirl

In a world full of run-of-the-mill shooters, sequels, and even indie games that try so hard to be different, they end up looking the same, Scarygirl is a game that really stands out. While the game in itself is not that different from your typical 2D platformer, the art style is incredible, and it was the first thing that impressed me and prompted me to play all three Scarygirl games available.

Scarygirl Cover

Game: Scarygirl
Developer: TikGames
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

The Scarygirl I’m reviewing here, the PSN/XBLA/PC version, is the most polished of the three, but I have to also highly recommend the browser version, which is the best browser game I’ve ever played (and you can pass on the PlayStation Minis version, which is a watered-down version of the browser one – but it’s still the one that got me into the Scarygirl franchise because it was free with PS Plus during the period when PS Plus was free due to the PSN hacking fiasco :)).

Scarygirl is a 2.5D platformer (the game takes place in 3D environments, but movement is in one 2D plane at a time) with a nice combat system which has combos and blocking. It supports couch co-op for 2 players (a feature many game developers seem to have forgotten about) and is a good deal of fun with a partner. The gameplay is quite varied, featuring, aside from the normal platforming, also swimming and wall-climbing segments. Jumping is a bit floaty and not precise enough, but you can fly a small distance forward through the air by holding the jump button. The bizarre art style is truly the highlight, it gives the game a unique feel and a lot of charm.

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Final Fantasy VII PC coming to Steam!

Recently, Square Enix registered the FinalFantasyVIIPC.com domain, so we knew they were up to something. Today, thanks to Google’s cache, we have found out what. The PC version of the RPG classic is coming to Steam!

Final Fantasy VII Steam

The Steam version will apparently sport:

  • 36 achievements
  • Cloud saving (get it? :))
  • “Character booster” option – allowing you to increase HP, MP and Gil values with the click of a button (kind of like the fan-made cheat utilities that modified your save file in the original PC version)

The price is set at €9.99/£7.99.

No release date yet, but we should hear about that soon enough!

Source: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://dev.finalfantasyviipc.com/en

The page is password-protected now, but just click “Cancel” a few times and the text on the page will load. While nothing about Steam is explicitly mentioned, the fact that there are achievements and cloud saving, coupled with Square Enix already using Steam when selling downloadable PC game copies on its site, leaves little room for doubt.

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