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Mass Effect 2 done—Now back to my regularly scheduled life

Mass  Effect 2 Screenshot

Apologies for the lack of timely updates lately.

Since Mass Effect 2 came out, I've been burning the midnight oil to get it done in a decent amount of time... had to put a few things on hold and reshuffle priorities for the last week or so, but I completed the game tonight and will be getting my schedule back on track starting tomorrow.

Working on the review as we speak, but I will say that the second "half" of the adventure plays a hell of a lot stronger than the first. The end sequence is especially gripping, and finally brought back a lot of the emotional tension that I felt was missing from much of the game. It doesn't change the fact that I still feel as though the developers made a lot of WTF alterations to the game design, but it was very heartening to see that the team got their act together and delivered a real showstopper to close things out.

The Mass Effect magic isn't gone, the devs just take more than their sweet time getting around to it, and make the player work a little harder to find it.

Too many cooks spoil the broth

Mass Effect 2 Art

To anyone who would say that Mass Effect 2 is indisputably better than the first game, I would ask what it was that they felt was lacking the first time around. I don't mean to broadly assume, but from those I've spoken to, it seems as though players who wanted a more combat-focused experience are loving what Mass Effect 2 brings to the table. Players (like myself) who enjoyed the combat but were more interested in the story and characters seem to have some issues embracing it wholeheartedly.

Dragon Age: Origins — Return to Ostagar Review

Technically, a Return. Effectively, More like a Quick Pit Stop

Dragon Age: Origins — Return to Ostagar Screenshot

HIGH The new armor and weaponry is pretty good stuff.

LOW It's about an hour long, total.

WTF Where are all the dialogue options?

Dragon Age: Origins Second Opinion

Enchantment?

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

HIGH This is a very serious breach of protocol, but I have two: 1) Watching my companions change from fantasy archetypes into actual characters. 2) Glyph of Repulsion + Inferno + a doorway = awesome.

LOW The sheer amount of useless crap that I'm presented with while looting. (NOTE: This has been relieved somewhat by a recent update.)

WTF Enchantment!

Gamer Diversity

Mass Effect Screenshot

Getting close to wrapping up my second time through Mass Effect, and since I almost never replay games, it's been an interesting experience. A friend asked me today how it was going through again, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn't nearly as fun as it was the first time. Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying that there's anything the matter with the game itself, it's more about the kind of player that I am.

No Mass Effect 2 Collector's Editions at GameStop? Fail!

Mass Effect 2 Screenshot

Still working my way through Mass Effect again in preparation for the January release of Mass Effect 2. I have to admit, I'm very pleased to see that the game holds up in all the areas that made it such a favorite of mine. Even better, this time around I consulted an FAQ (I didn't previously) and thanks to the diligent work of some dedicated fans, I've seen some side-quests and alternate paths that I didn't know existed. Even two years after release, it still impresses.

Mass Effected

Mass Effect Screenshot

So, I'm replaying Mass Effect. Why? Well, I had no plans to. I had a blast playing it the first time through, felt totally satisfied, and was greatly looking forward to the next installment. Over, done with, finished.

Chosen at birth

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

Last post, I mentioned that the tendency to choose segregation as a means to solve problems was a feature of many societies in the world of Dragon Age. Another, related motif appearing in many Thedan societies is the existence of a rigidly-defined social order in which a person's status and even his occupation are set at the moment of birth. To varying degrees this kind of social rigidity appears in almost every social group in the game (except the elves). Through its dialogue and plot, Dragon Age: Origins repudiates these systems, but in its mechanics it supports them.

Out of sight, out of mind

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

Playing Dragon Age gave me a relatively frequent sense of déjà vu. Although the game portrays a number of different nations and societies, there are recurrent features that speak to underlying ideas about the psychology of its inhabitants. One such motif is the tendency for its denizens to solve their problems through segregation. At several levels, the people of the continent of Thedas like to resolve issues by pushing problematic groups into isolated areas and pretending, as much as possible, that they no longer exist.

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