mass effect

2010 Prediction Results

god of war 3 CoverOn the first of the year, the writers here presented their predictions for 2010 in the video game industry. It was our first attempt at anything like this, and since we're primarily gamers first, writers second, and industry experts in a distant last, this was definitely more of an exercise in fun forecasting than put-your-money-down-now predictions.

Well, we can't let bad predictions go forgotten and made fun of, so here we are again. We'll quickly cover what went randomly right and what went horribly wrong, but then we'll be back again on Friday for our fourth annual Game of the Year Awards.

My ideal cast for the Mass Effect movie

Mass Effect CoverA Mass Effect film has pretty much been rumored since gamers saw the first trailer of the game years ago, and as with most popular series, the inevitable moment of the movie being announced has finally arrived.  Whether it actually happens or not is still way up in the air, and Hollywood's track record with game movies isn't much help either.  For every Resident Evil movie (four of them now), there are 10 ready-for-the-big-screen games that can't even get their films off the ground.  Halo had Peter Jackson backing it and that was canned. David Hayter, legendary voice actor of Solid Snake and successful screenwriter can't even get enough cash to make a Metal Gear Solid film.  And yet the Hitman movie is made.

The names fronting the money and penning the script are impressive though, so this might just happen, and if it does, here's my candidate list of actors.

Memorable Ideas from Unforgettable Games - New Game Plus

Chrono Trigger Cover SnesMy apologies to Nate in advance for totally stealing his Memorable Ideas theme and twisting it from forgettable games into something far less interesting, but I have to write about this.

New Game Plus is probably one of the coolest, most obvious, and underused features in video games today.  There is no better way to get me to immediately replay your game than to give me every single item, weapon, magic, and point of experience that I finished the game with at the start of the my next playthrough.  Yes, it makes everything Win Button easy, but it is so very satisfying returning to the boss the gave you so much trouble the first time and one-shotting him into oblivion.  New Game Plus should be a required feature of every RPG and adventure game.

For the unaware, New Game Plus means starting the game over but loading your characters from when you last beat it.  You generally retain most non-story items and weapons, and keep your existing level and stats.  It's generally a nice reward for conquering a game, but as we'll see, can also be used for a variety of reasons.

Mass Effect 2: Kasumi's Stolen Memory

Mass Effect 2 CoverKasumi's Stolen Memory is the first major paid downloadable content available for Mass Effect 2.  It was released earlier this month after a slew of "free" content for those who bought the game new (I'll eventually go back and review each of the major DLC's including Zaeed and the Firewalker pack).  For 560 Microsoft Points ($7 USD) you can recruit a new crew member, play a new loyalty mission, get a new SMG and casual outfit, and satisfy your curiosity of what happened to a bunch of famous relics on Earth.

This is almost less of a review, and more of a walkthrough of the actual content, but it's a fun way to describe all the new stuff packed into the DLC.  My recommendation is that Stolen Memory is a really great piece of content and is worth its purchase price for big fans of the series, but probably not worth it if you've already moved on completely.  Here's my review of Kasumi's Stolen Memory, played as a renegade female Shepard.

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 CoverI've been delaying writing my review for Mass Effect 2 for a while now.  It was my most anticipated game in years, and I bought it the day it came out and finished it a few long nights later.  I pored over 40 hours into my first playthrough of the game, longer than even my first run of the original.  This was going to be my defining game of 2010, my Game of the Year.  It's two months later now and I've played it more since I beat it, but I still haven't compiled all my thoughts on it.  Half of me wants to write the best review possible for one of the best games ever, and the other half of me wants to make sure it really was one of the best games ever.

I'll start with my conclusion though: I loved it.  It's a beyond excellent game that takes the series and the genre into new territories.  Mass Effect 2 tries something new at every bend and seemingly succeeds at them all.  I had built up an incredible amount of hype for the game, and I can honestly say it surpassed my expectations.  BioWare, my hat goes off to you.

A little more introduction though: Mass Effect 2 was released in late January of 2010 for the Xbox 360 and Windows.  It's the direct sequel to Mass Effect which was released in late 2007.  The game was published by EA and is its flagship product for its downloadable content scheme.  The free-with-a-new-purchase Cerberus Network has provided us with plenty of free and paid for DLC since the game was released, and more is on the way.  It's BioWare's second big AAA title in about as many months with Dragon Age: Origins coming last November.  Everything seems to be going right for them.

So you can tell I enjoyed the game already, but read on to see exactly why.  Here's my full review of Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect: An Audio-Visual Experience

Mass Effect Cover

Welcome to Mass Effect: An Audio-Visual Experience.

Often in life, people notice a gorgeous environment or model or visual effect or even just an angle in relation to the scenery. Thanks to the magic of image capturing, these moments can be preserved for future savoring and to remember the moment. The same experiences can happen while playing games. Due to the magic of screen/video capture software (Fraps in particular), these moments and experiences can be captured for display for others or self in the future.

While playing Mass Effect, I noticed a relatively high amount of impressive scenery and images being captured, from which this idea was formed. As far as the specific idea for an audio-visual experience, I'll start by saying that people do things for any large number of reasons. To narrow down, common reasons for playing games may include the desire to distract oneself, desire for competition, desire for mental stimulation, and/or the desire to get lost in a new subjective experience. The goal of this article is to give you a subjective audio-visual experience without needing to travel through the entire game yourself. If you are new to the game, it will lead you through its entirety, accustoming yourself to the environments, style, and action. If you have already played the game, it will jog memories and rekindle an experience trapped down in long-term memory. Great care has been taken to withhold any apparent spoilers for those who have not experienced the game while still keeping the experience intact.

This introduction may be withheld in future iterations of Audio-Visual Experiences (if any) to better focus on the experience. In addition, this installment will only be a pictorial experience due to a sudden, poorly-timed harddrive failure. Only the images were uploaded to the internet before the unfortunate crash.

The First Hour Podcast - Episode 3

Welcome to the third episode of The First Hour Podcast! In this episode, Paul and Greg wrap up Mass Effect 2, talk Sonic games, and more!

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First Hour Podcast - Episode 2

Welcome to the second episode of the First Hour podcast! In this episode, Paul, Greg, and Mike T. discuss Mass Effect 2, Tatsunoko v. Capcom, ESRB ratings, and more!

Download the podcast here. We hope to provide iTunes and general RSS support very soon.

Please leave us your feedback!

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First Hour Podcast - Episode 1

Welcome to the first episode of the First Hour podcast! In this premier episode, Paul and Greg discuss the site's origins, discuss The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and argue about the Nintendo 64's library of games.

Please leave us your feedback! We've been listening to podcasts for years but this is our first time actually producing one.

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Plok Title Jam - Mazedude

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 Cover

Mass Effect 2. It is only the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. It is only the biggest release so far in 2010, and might be for the entire year. It is only... Mass Effect 2.

All right, I'll come back down to earth for a bit. I will admit, I am very excited for this game. I haven't been this hyped for a game since Majora's Mask. But I will try not to let it interfere with my duty as an amateur video game reviewer to answer the burning question: Would I keep playing? (spoilers: YES!)

Mass Effect 2 is the latest science fiction action/shooter/RPG hybrid from BioWare. The game picks up a few years after the first Mass Effect closed with Commander Shepard still in the starring role. The original galaxy threat is still at large, but is taking a backseat to a much more pressing and immediate menace. One of the game's big features is the ability to import your Shepard from save files from the first game. This is one of the reasons I beat the original six different times with four different Shepards. Maybe a bit excessive, but I was just preparing myself for the full experience come January 26, 2010.

So here we go, the first hour of Mass Effect 2. I will be creating a brand new character for the experience. If you're interested in checking out all of our other Mass Effect series content, we've got a ton of it.

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