Category: Mass Effect

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But there’s more than just my ability (okay let’s be honest I have no ability I got lucky) to flirt with people. I have chosen a companion that I will put before all others. In my relationship I have said “I choose your missions before anyone else’s.” I looked my wife dead in the eyes and said “I voluntarily choose to miss out on a cornucopia of potential companion missions with friends and acquaintances to forge life with you and do your missions.” She then gave me a sword. Dead serious. She had a custom forged katana made for me. I’m that lucky. She also had my wedding ring made from sword. Again I’m very serious. She knows me.

Miranda Mass Effect 2

She's not even shooting something because for me.

In Mass Effect 2 when you choose to be with Miranda Lawson all you miss out on is a sexy video with another crew member and bit of “I want to be with you” dialogue. You still get to do all of their deep companion missions. You still get to fully complete the game. Hell Miranda doesn’t even give you anything that helps you. Come to think of it when you gain her allegiance SHE’S the one that gets something. They all do. Why didn’t we get a fancy new suit? We’re the ones risking out asses to help your families. Where’s my fancy pants?

But more than this nobody seems to care that you’re potentially in a relationship. In Dragon Age: Origins when Morrigan gives you a ring or Alistair and you become Ferelden Royalty what really changes? Do you miss out on any part of the game because you’re in a relationship?

This is what I mean by adult themes. It is the decisions that have significant weight in the world. It is saying “Yes I want this. This is my decision and there is no going back, there is no middle ground, and I have to stick through this.” In Catherine it was the seemingly inane questions that created a very black or white picture of the world. Ultimately you decided between Catherine or Katherine. That was your decision, it sucked, it was difficult, and it was one of the most gratifying and real experiences that I have had in gaming all year, because of the consequences.

This is what other games need to bring in. Make a relationship mean that in return you get some real and deep companion mission. Make a relationship mean that you are not, in fact, running around with everyone doing whatever you want. You have consequences for your decisions that will carry through the entire game based on who you choose to be in a relationship with.

The additional benefit to this is a terrific increase in replayability. In all likelihood I’m probably never going to replay Dragon Age II. With two play throughs I was able to do almost everything I wanted to. There is no more story to surprise me or grab my attention. However uncovering more about Isabela or Merrill would absolutely bring me back for another go-round if the stipulation was that I had to be in a relationship with them.

While this would certainly rub a lot of gamers the wrong way it’s something that would both intrigue and beguile provided it’s done correctly. Video gamers are growing up. Isn’t it time our in game relationships do the same?

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BioWare.  I love you, I really do, and everyone knows it.  But something has been bothering me lately, particularly with the arrival of the all new (but less awesome) Dragon Age game.  And this thing REALLY bothers me.  Because I like to get down and dirty when I game.  I want my character in an RPG to get in some hot romance.  Honestly, BioWare, I feel like you’re slipping a bit in the romance department.  Particularly in the scenes.

Female Shepards really make Kaidan nervous. And... I guess male Shepards, too.

First, let’s take the original game that got TONS of flack for being ‘too sexual’ (but all of us who actually played it loved the romance).  The original Mass Effect game had sexual tension, kissing, side boob, and a beautiful booty.  The scene that got incredibly harsh criticism was if you choose to have your female Shepard pursue a romance with Liara, the blue skinned alien.  But it was a gorgeous realization of teammates coming together as more than friends.  My female Shepard had a strong relationship with Kaidan.  So strong, that she skipped any romancing in ME2.

Then came Dragon Age: Origins, a game that had not only hot tenting scenes, but also two characters who would swing either way.  If you played as a male, and wanted to romance the sultry male elf, Zevran, you could.  If you played as a female, and wanted to get it on with the red headed female bard, Leliana, you could.  My female hero of Fereldan Avaline pursued a relationship with Alistair, which culminated in a beautiful romance scene.  After the scene, the option to have them kiss or hop in the tent again continued to be available.  It goes without saying that every time my party returned to camp, I would have Avaline and Alistair tenting.

In the sequel to the original Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 widened the number of romanceable options for the player.  In fact, Shepard could get it on with various races.  However, in Mass Effect 2, there was no complete nudity.  While Miranda unzips her suit to reveal bra and panties and Jacob strips off his shirt, there’s no sideboob and bum reveal.  And, unlike Dragon Age: Origins, there aren’t any sex motions.  What’s even worse, if you decide to remain faithful to your flame from ME1, you get a rather cold reception on Horizon, and all you’ll wind up doing when you could be getting it on with someone else is staring at a picture of them.  Pretty lame.

Anders Has Glowing Eyes!

Who can resist those glowing eyes? Oh... maybe the people who don't want to date a terrorist.

And in Dragon Age 2, the latest game out by BioWare, some romance scenes don’t have characters in their skivvies at all, and it fades to black WAAAAAY too early.  In fact, I don’t believe there’s an actual tenting scenes in any of the romances.  There might be some kissing, some frantic throwing-against-the-wall, and hand-holding-leading-to-the-bed, but that pales in comparison to the actual sex scenes in Dragon Age: Origins.  It was a huge disappointment to those of us excited to see the new scenes.  These new scenes actually left me in a “That’s IT?!!” state.

As you can see, BioWare has continued to tame down the love scenes in their games.  This makes me incredibly wary of the upcoming Mass Effect 3, and another sequel in the Dragon Age series.  In Mass Effect 3, especially, I’m hoping this trend BioWare has gone on won’t continue.  Because I’d really like to see an explosive reuniting scene with my Shepard and her former flame Kaidan.

BioWare, you may consider this my urgent plea that the toning down of romances and love scenes doesn’t continue for the upcoming games you have in store.  Seriously.  Please.

-Kat

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not a typical video game rucksack

You can seriously carry a couch in this thing

Many video games have inventories. Lets face it, any game that requires you to pick stuff up, carry stuff around, or use something typically has some form of inventory management. Whether its keeping tabs on how much ammo you have or making sure you still have room in your expansive (albeit invisible) rucksack that holds 150 fire arms, 12 outfits, 3 items of food  or potions, and a fork, lute, cup, or cat (yeah Anders I’m looking at you) you have to remain aware of something you are lugging around. Some video games do it so well its almost unnoticeable while others wind up taking up more time than the actual gameplay.

Diablo falls into this category because it was simply clean and fantastic. You had a system that was based around a grid. Each item took up a specific amount of squares on this grid. You have certain items that are stackable and items that aren’t. Either you could carry it or you couldn’t. You can quickly see what will and what will not work. There is typically very little question about if you can or even want to carry that shiny new sword or not. This allows you to spend little time mucking about asking if it’s worth it or not.

Mass Effect 2 is another example of an inventory control system I enjoyed. While it’s not perfect its pretty solid. It’s a simple “only important shit” system. You have things that kill, things that heal, and things that keep you safe. If you don’t have to decide on it then you don’t have to look at it. It gets stored in your data pad and you bring it up when you find the person that is ultimately looking for it.

Mass Effect - Mako

Put the bike down, we are not putting it in the trunk. Or the sofa.

When it comes to the equipment itself you typically know what weapons and armor you like before going into a mission. If not you deal with it prior to the mission. During the game if you find some fancy new boom-stick while you’re exploring a new world new you get to try it out. If you don’t like it you can swap it out after the mission or at a weapons locker that is typically found near the point of discovery.

What makes these so fantastic to me is that they are  quick, easy, painless, and it gets you back to the action. It’s almost easy to forget that they are even there. They fit into the game and flow naturally. I’m admittedly an A.D.D. gamer. I need to keep moving, keep doing something new, because that’s what keeps things going. I may stop and take a look at what I have and size it up with what I’m using from time to time but its the GAME that makes it fun, not the stuff I get in it.

What made Mass Effect 2 so good was the improvement from the original Mass Effect. Weapons, armor, and upgrades were found with such a high frequency that I wound up spending more time seeing what I just picked up instead of simply using it. After a while I had to force myself to adopt the mindset of “screw it I will look at it after a few missions. After a while it became “screw it, I’m just going to sell it.”

Mass Effect - Hand Cannon

I swear to the goddess that if you drop anything for me to pick up I will unity your ass kill you all over again

Then there is Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. Again I spent so much time worrying about inventory that it wound up taking away from the video game itself. Whether it was scrolling through all of the items themselves or checking them to see if I should be using them, I would up spending more time staring at the screen of a Pip-Boy than down the barrel of my tri-beam laser rifle. That’s not an attack on Fallout. It was a fantastic game with a great set of stories that could absolutely hook you. Hell even the long stretches of just walking around were fun. But do I really need to decide if I should carry 210 forks or my weapons? That’s a no contest. I’ll just throw forks at things and move on with my day.

Now the real question gets asked: What makes for a good inventory management system?  The biggest flaw in Fallout isn’t how its displayed (however the long scrolling lists could stand a revamp) its the sheer volume of items. This is part of Fallout’s charm however. Being able to take just about anything you find and do whatever you bloody well want with it is half the fun for some people. Hell, for some its the entire experience. But the ridiculous volume was the ultimate killer. This is ultimately the same complaint for Mass Effect. There was just so much information and no easy easy way to trudge through it or quick compare with what you’re using.

Quick comparisons between what you’re using and what you’re looking at can always be a big benefit. Dragon Age: Origins took this concept quite literally and would display a side by side comparison of equipment. While it made things go more smoothly there was always a lot of information to go through. What we need is quick and simply inventory management that can keep you in the action. Quick displays of is it better or is it worse than what you’re currently using can help you make that tough decision: throw the new sword away, or save it for later.

Sound off: what’s your favorite / least favorite inventory management system in a video game?

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With the upcoming January release of Mass Effect 2 for Playstation 3, I decided to take a look at the series and raise some important questions.

Okay, maybe just one.

And maybe not so important, but more…personal.

Can Joker have sex?

Joker, of course, is the guy who sits up front in the Normandy (aka the Cockpit) and flies the ship.  He also has this disease where his bones are incredibly brittle*, and will easily break with any small force.  So, given those circumstances, it sounds to me like he would be unable to…copulate.

Mass Effect's Joker

Who's got two thumbs that may break if he jerks the Normandy's controls too quick? THIS GUY.

Granted, we can’t forget the famous *SPOILER* scene in Mass Effect 2 where you control Joker and must escape the Collectors while reactivating EDI‘s access to the ship. *END SPOILER*  Given that scene, it almost seems as though he’d be able to handle sex, which made me doubt the validity of my own argument.  But then, as Wadoobie and I discussed this scenario, we came to the realization that it must have been that Joker was high on adrenaline, which can cause the unlikeliest of candidates to do amazing things.  Such as an old woman lifting a car to save her grandson.  That sorta thing.

So… does that mean Joker could… handle a lady?  It seems to me that if the going got rough, well, that Joker’s bones would be crushed.

It’s also interesting to think that if Joker ISN’T able to have sex, that he has psychological damage from being unable to participate in one of human’s most basic functions.  It’s why he insists on sitting in a cockpit all day.  Okay, that was lame, I admit.  But honestly, it seems like flying the fastest, most technologically advanced ship in the galaxy could be a way to exert his masculinity.  It’s why he’s adamant that HE flies the ship.

Mass Effect's Joker

"Hi, I'm Joker. I'm going to interrupt you every time you're getting some action. Probably because I'm mad that I can't get any."

*In terms of WHICH of Joker’s bones are brittle, it seems that we have a slight plot inaccuracy across Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2.  You see, in the first Mass Effect, Joker explains that only the LOWER HALF of his body is brittle, as detailed in this video.

Mass Effect: Joker Explains his Disease

And in Mass Effect 2, it is insinuated that ALL of Joker’s bones are brittle.  After the *SPOILER SCENE*, the discussion in the video below takes place between the members of the crew.  Joker makes a reference to ‘breaking his arm’ at an enemy.  Please note that this video also contains spoilers if you haven’t yet played Mass Effect 2!

Mass Effect 2: Joker Talks about Breaking his Arm

Additionally, on BioWare’s site for Mass Effect 2, it is mentioned that ‘the recoil from a rifle can cause fractures’ in Joker.  (link to the page is here: BioWare’s Character Page for Joker)

BioWare!  What happened?

But don’t worry.  [Insert line of adoring love for BioWare repeated in almost all of Kat’s posts].

-Kat

Sadly, I couldn’t call sex ‘tenting’ this time.  It doesn’t really fit in the Mass Effect universe.  That’s all Dragon Age.  If you’ve got a snarky analogy, I’m very open to hearing it.

*ahem* Docking??

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I’ve got to hand it to Lionhead Studios.

They’ve done it.  They really have.  I’m quite proud of them.

This Dog Smells Spoilers Ahead

What, exactly, have they done?  Well they’ve finally, FINALLY managed to really tug on my heartstrings.  With a human, that is.  The dog in Fable II was adorable, but doesn’t quite match an attachment to a human.

And yes, this post is Us Regulations On Free Binary Options Account spoileriffic.  If you haven’t finished Fable III yet (or Dragon Age & Mass Effect 1&2, for that matter), you won’t want to keep reading.

The thing about Fables I and II was that you never really felt a human connection, and emotional pull towards anyone, or any type of loyalty.  Of course Fable gave you the option to marry and have children; however all the characters you could marry were flat, one dimensional, cardboard cutouts that could easily be replaced by the next guy or gal.  I would have no qualms over leading my husband through Wraithmarsh or along the Bandit Coast and having him be killed in some way.  The characters that were unique and interesting (the far and few between) didn’t have the option of marrying.

But Fable III, I’m happy to say, has gone beyond the boring and identical characters (although plenty of them still exist).  In the very beginning of this game, you will encounter a person of opposite gender named Elliot or Elise.  You’ll learn that this person is your lover of sorts.  About 2 minutes later, you’ll have to decide if you want to kill your lover or a group of villagers.  If that doesn’t sound too bad to you, imagine letting your lover live, only to end up being apart from them.  That is, until you embark upon a quest to find a kidnapped fiancee…only to find that the fiancee missing is your former lover!

And at that point, you’re given the option to choose if that person should stay with their betrothed, or if they should move on…to you.

You really want to kill him?!

Yeah, it’s a tricky choice you’re given, and while there aren’t a whole lot of repercussions (a few good or evil points, depending on if you ask them to leave their betrothed or not), I want to applaud Lionhead Studios for giving us gamers such a difficult decision.  Even though I played a good character the whole way through, after re-meeting Elliot and hearing him talk about how he still loved me, I couldn’t bear to give him up.

However, I want to point to my favorite video game developer, BioWare.  BioWare REALLY knows how to manipulate emotions and make the player feel connected to characters even though they aren’t real.  For example, in BioWare’s game Dragon Age, when you go to fight the final boss, it is inevitable that the boss will kill someone, and you have to decide who it will kill; yourself, one of your comrades, or, in a strange twist of events, you can have someone sleep with and impregnate a witch in order to save everyone.  Imagine, if you will, you play as a female, begin a romance with your fellow team member, and then, if you want both yourself and him to live at the end, you have to force him to sleep with the witch.

Yeah, that’s painful.  See this post to glimpse the depths of my despair when I decided I wanted both of us to live.

Or what about BioWare’s epic space game, Mass Effect 2, when finally meet up with your lover from the first Mass Effect?  You were separated for two years, imagine the pain you put your lover through… and the anger they throw back at you.

So, congratulations Lionhead Studios, for finally instilling some powerful [human] emotion into the Fable series, but you’ve still got a long way to go if you want to make a true mark in that area.

-Kat

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