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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Sideway: New York – fun platformer at the right price

During my visit in England recently, I came across a PSN demo on my friend Ranulf’s PS3 that he really liked. I thought I’d give it a shot, and it turned out to be a game that’s just over a year old, and one that I’d seen before, probably on Youtube, but hadn’t tried myself. It turned out to be just as cool as it initially looked – a 2D platformer with graffiti-inspired story and style. The main character Nox has to navigate his way in a graffiti-world that he unwillingly gets sucked into, and needs to find and fight the evil Spray. In the modern gaming era, the 2D-platformer genre has been diminished to a state where it’s mostly getting indie, modestly-priced entries on PSN/XBLA/Steam. There are some notable exceptions, like Rayman Origins, but those are quite few and far between. That said, having indies work on 2D platformers is not a bad thing at all – nowadays, they’re the ones most willing to innovate (be it due to willing to make a name for themselves, or just sheer passion and desire to deliver something unique – a drive that many big companies in the industry have either lost or are too afraid to exploit anymore). Sideway features some of that much-needed innovation, combined with game design concepts that have been tested and proven through the years.

Sideway New York Cover

Game: Sideway: New York
Developer: Playbrains
Platforms: PlayStation Network, PC
Original release: 2011
Territories: All
Price: $9.99

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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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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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PS4 “Orbis” rumours – no used games or backwards compatibility

A rumour has recently surfaced regarding the next PlayStation console, codenamed “Orbis.” The most important points being:

  • Is called, or at least carries the working codename, “Orbis”
  • Is scheduled for a Holiday 2013 release
  • Won’t be backwards compatible with PS3 games
  • Will lock new games to a PSN account as an anti-used games measure
  • New games can be bought either on Blu-Ray or downloaded
  • Current specs are an AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU

Source: http://kotaku.com/5896996/the-next-playstation-is-called-orbis-sources-say-here-are-the-details

With the rest of the points being either details or expected (such as the release date), the two in bold are the ones I’d like to comment on.

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