Posts Tagged ‘Mass Effect’

BioWare Details Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Information Revealed

Multiplayer aspects in video games almost feels like it’s tacked on anymore. Many games have the general run of the mill online multiplayer option because, in video games, they want to keep you playing. Games like COD or MW thrive on their multiplayer. In fact in those instances there are people who don’t even touch the single player. However the multiplayer aspects of video games never actually impacts the single player story. It’s just kind of there. This is not to say that it’s not well received or enjoyed, it’s just that in the grand scheme of the in game world it’s totally meaningless.

Mass Effect 3 wallpaper

I'm more excited than I should be about their character creator

BioWare, however, is taking this very concept and putting it to task. Yesterday we were informed that Mass Effect 3 would have online multiplayer. We even went so far as to wager a few hopes from the initial concept. When looking at previous RPG outings into the world of multiplayer we see a very paltry showing of ill conceived attempts to bring a deeper experience. It’s difficult to pull in good multiplayer to an RPG because these are video games based around a story and this story is what drives players to keep playing. To have a successful multiplayer you need to cater to the story. So this is what BioWare has revealed that they intend to do in their official forum.

What is the Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer?

Mass Effect 3 takes place in a galaxy that is about to be overrun by Reapers and  between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 our very own Commander Shepard has been working to rally the systems together to help fight the impending threat. In Mass Effect 3 they are implementing a system known as “Galaxy at War” where you create your own Special Forces agent to team up in 4 player co-op missions. You have a variety of classes and races to choose from, so you can pretty much build your own Mordin if you wanted to.

In Galaxy at War you and your Special Forces teams work together to free territories from enemy control. As you wage this battle to free the galaxy what transpires takes an effect on your in game world. Remember that Shepard is fighting to save the galaxy and with a threat like this he’s not going to be able to do it alone. As you free territories in multiplayer you help your chances of success in the single player campaign. Mass Effect 3 has just said “You games that say ‘Here’s your world, and then here’s your multiplayer world,’ need to step your game up. It’s all one world. Let it flourish or die.”

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Characters and Progressions

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

This. This is who I want to make for Multiplayer.

The big question is always “What familiar faces from the Mass Effect Universe will we see?” BioWare has stated that in the multiplayer aspect you won’t see any of them. They exist in the single player campaign and are pretty wrapped up with helping Shepard out getting done what needs to be done. However (as stated earlier) can you create your own character from one of the races on the Citadel. If you wanted to create a wicked Krogan tank then by all means tank away. If you wanted to create an Asari then do it. Each race will have their own abilities and skills so with the wealth of potential in the Mass Effect world our hopes are currently high.

As you play you will also able to progress your characters and weapons. This is to be expected but the details of this have yet to be revealed. One could assume that it will operate in a way similar to the single player character progressions. Whether or not your weapon upgrades carry through after each territory mission is one aspect I am personally hotly interested in. I always feel let down after I build a great weapon in a round only to have it taken away when it ends.

Now this is not to say that you must engage in the multiplayer aspect to successfully complete the single player campaign. You can still execute the ideal ending through single player alone. However it seems that the multiplayer component will help to make things a little easier. The forum also sates that this will not be the only way to help achieve victory, but just one possible way and that there are other methods you will employ to do so.

 The key to saving the galaxy is the “Galactic Readiness” level, measured by Commander Shepard’s ability to apply every possible asset – people, weapons, resources, armies, fleets – in the final battle against the Reapers. Players can impact their game’s Galactic Readiness level in multiple ways via the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, including multiplayer. Other platforms and interfaces will be announced in the coming months. It is important to note that the system is entirely optional and just another way players can have control over your game experience – it is still possible to achieve the optimal, complete ending of the game in Mass Effect 3 through single-player alone.

So what else is in store for us in the Mass Effect world remains to be seen. However this has most definitely caused us at PtC to perk up and take notice. While we frequently enjoy multiplayer this gives us definite cause and reason to engage it in. This could put a weight behind the entire offering that other games have yet to pull off. As of right now everything is still relatively unknown. Either way:

Shut Up and Take my Money

Yeah this says it better than I could.

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Relationships in Video Games – Time to Evolve

Dragon Age Origins Morrigan

Recently a rather interesting conversation broke out at Polish the Console about video games and relationships. While Kat has a less than secret crush on BioWare (and by crush I mean stalking)  I have found myself with a wanting for something more. Maybe it was playing a video game with the adult themes of Catherine that got me thinking about this but isn’t it time our relationships in video games grew up?

When I say “the adult themes” I don’t mean the sexual nature of the relationship. What I mean is the importance placed on the relationship and the value that it possesses and the effects that these relationships have on the outcome of the game. As a video gamer I want my game to have real consequences to my actions. In BioWare video games the only real consequence to a relationship is “I don’t get to see the sex scene with that other character” and anymore let’s be honest what are we really missing?

mass effect 2 mirands

Behold! The awesome rewards of a relationship...

Now to preface this let me just say that this does not have anything to do with writing or emotional attachments to NPCs. One thing I will never criticize or bemoan in any way is the writers ability to genuinely make me care about my party members. Who among us hasn’t agonized over one stupid little decision in a game that, in reality, had no real bearing on the outcome of the game? What I mean is that in games like Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect the relationships you enter into make little real and meaningful difference to the outcome of the game. You can still have a 98% identical experience in the game without a relationship; all you miss out on is a little smooching and a few dialogue options that will still give you the same ending anyways. While you may personally feel more passionately towards the outcome based on your emotional connection with the characters, you could still arrive at that outcome without being in that relationship.  In Dragon Age: Origins being in a relationship with Morrigan or Alistair does not mean you will live or die. It does not mean anything other than a small chunk of text at the end of the game.

In my life I am a 31 year old married man. I have a wife, two dogs, house, and no picket fence. I genuinely enjoy my life. However I look at my companions: my college friends, work friends, people I meet. I see my wife and my dogs and the life I have chosen. If this were Mass Effect 2 I could very easily flirt with my companions who were willing and suffer no real ill effects. If this were Dragon Age II then I could literally flirt with everyone I shared more than a passing conversation with regardless of sexual orientation and it would be okay.

In my real life I can almost certainly promise you that if I were to flirt with the girl at the local GameStop my wife would not be at all happy with me. In fact I would think that what would ensue would be a 4 hour impassioned apology from me and a well deserved lifetime of distrust from her.

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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Mass Effect 3: Combat Reveal Trailer

Mass Effect 3 Screen Shot

Something tells me Shepard won't like him picking up Liara

I believe the words you will be looking for to describe this Mass Effect 3 combat reveal from BioWare and EA are going to be “holy crap wtf that was AWESOME.” That is precisely what what we said when we saw what unfolded. Rather than go on about it here, we’ll let you take a gander for yourself.

If this trailer is in fact indicative of the actual combat in game then Mass Effect 3 looks to be full of frenetic combat that will get your blood pumping to various extremities and heart racing like a thoroughbred.

In the trailer we catch a glimpse of Shepard as he assumes the role of Squad Leader taking Garrus and Liara up against a Cerberus attack. Throughout the video we see a appears to be a more chaotic and fast paced combat environment than we saw through Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 and this isn’t something that’s easy to pull off.

While the Mass Effect 3 trailer doesn’t really do much to give any new insight into the story it does reinforce the fact that Cerberus is pissed and coming after you. After watching this I feel I can speak for a majority of gamers when I say “Bring it you glowing eyed Elusive Prick…sorry…Man.”

But the updates from Mass Effect 3 don’t end there. Below you’ll find a slew of new screen shot deliciousness to keep you interested.

Mass Effect 3 Enemy Screenshot

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Screenshot

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Shooting

Mass Effect 3 Giant Walking Robot

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Mele

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BioWare Taming Down the Love Scenes in Games

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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When Inventory Management Ruins a Game

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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