Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Update on my situation

Okay, here's what happened since October.

First, I quit my job at Infocision, the company that does telemarketing.  I was about to have a nervous breakdown because of it, so I HAD to quit. Now I am without an income, but because my dad is a trucker, he's willing to pay my rent and internet bill, so I'm safe on that account.  And my dad promised a LONG time ago that, so long as he lived, he would ALWAYS provide a home for me when I need one, so he has no problem with doing this.  Make no mistake, at 30, I don't like asking him for help, but it's necessary at the moment.

Of course, he won't help me get the equipment I need to start my webseries, but I don't blame him; it's not a real job for a long time, after all.

I also turned 30 last month. I was dreading it up to the day, but now that it has passed, I'm fine with it.

I also started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I'm going to review it once I complete all 8 classes.  I'm over halfway through the first Chapter of the Jedi Knight story, and I have 2 acts for the Knight, and seven other stories to go. That's what I like about SWTOR; you not only have a story, but once complete story for each individual class.

So, life's not great at the moment, but unlike in October, I'm not going insane anymore, and that is worth more than a steady income in my book.  I have family who love me, a roof over my head and food in my stomach, and a new game to play during my off time of searching for a job.

So to all, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and let's pray that 2013 is a better one for me!  :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Equipment list

For anyone who cares, here's a link to my amazon wishlist for equipment I need to start my webseries.

My equipment wishlist.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Repost of an old review: Dragon Age: Origins

This was originally posted on February 4, 2010, and I am doing this to bring my ads back to where they should be; games and other nerdy stuff.

Today, I'm doing a review on the newest Bioware game I own; Dragon Age Origins. I'm going to go right ahead and say it; I'm a Bioware fanboy. But I'm not the stupid kind of fanboy; even though I will buy every game that comes out that's from Bioware, I am NOT willing to overlook some of the flaws. The version I own is the Xbox 360 version, since my computer can't handle the PC version.

The basic story is this; you are a Grey Warden recruit who's been put in a position to save the world from the Blight. You were betrayed by Teryn Loghain Mac Tir (voiced by Kain himself, Simon Templeman) during the battle of Ostagar, where King Cailan Theirin had gathered an army to face the darkspawn horde. Loghain was supposed to be respond to a signal flame that you and your fellow Grey Warden Alistair (later revealed to be the half brother of Cailan) lit, but he retreated and left Cailan to die. The story is about your and Alistair's efforts to recruit an army to fight the Blight, and your efforts to stop Loghain from making things worse.

Now, here's the big thing Bioware made a big deal about in the pre-release; the origins. You have 6 origin stories; Human Noble, City Elf, Dalish Elf, Dwarven Commoner, Dwarven Noble, and Mage (Either human or elf, but not dwarf. The reason dwarves can't be mages is explained in the game.). Each origin gives you a different view and mindset for the rest of the game, which plays out exactly the same regardless of the origin. Granted, you are looked at differently depending on your origin; the Dalish Elves are MUCH more accepting of you when you enter their territory then they would be if you were human, but the game plays out the same way regardless. You do have certain points where you can diverge your story; you can, for example, let the werewolves kill the Dalish and have them in your army, , or choose Bhelen over Harrowmont when trying to get the dwarves to elect a king, or choose to let the mages be wiped out and gain the aid of the templars in your army, and that DOES stuff affect the ending you get, but the story still flows the same way to the end; you still have to fight the archdemon at the end, and everything after the Landsmeet happens exactly the same regardless of your choices.

My take on the Origins is simple; they do add a lot of little things to the story. For example, say I play as a Dalish elf. She's one of the wandering clans elves who are trying to rediscover their lost history and lifestyle. The Dalish Warden knows she's looked down upon by humans, but unlike the City Elf, she looks carries a bit of anger at the humans, and looks at them unfavorably in turn. In her mind, she will not be treated like a slave by the humans, despite her defending them from their own folly. Her every thought is filtered through this mantra, which she was taught since childhood; "We are the Dalish, keepers of the lost lore, walkers of the lonely path. We are the last of the elvhenan, and never again shall we submit."

Her interactions with the humans of the world differ as well. Since the Dalish believe that the humans attacked the Dales because they would not worship their god, she has a very low view of the human Chantry, if you choose the right options.

And there are minor differences when you've chosen the other origin stories. The Human Noble has a special link to Arl Howe, while the interactions that you have as a Dwarven Commoner in Orzammar will be different than if you are a Dwarven Noble. And the things you do as a City Elf affect what happens when you return to the Denerim Alienage near the end of the game. And the vast majority of people are scared shitless of you when you're a mage, because the Chantry has vilified magic so much.

The combat engine is reminiscent of Knights of the Old Republic; auto-attack and skills that you can use that use your stamina/mana pool (depending on the class you choose.) Unlike Mass Effect, however, you can switch party members on the fly, giving you complete control of the battlefield.

Class choice goes back to the regular fantasy classes that are well known; warrior, rogue and mage. Warriors and rogues are self explanatory; warriors tank, draw aggro and do high damage, rogues are great archers and are the only ones capable of unlocking doors and chests, and are most effective when they "do it from behind". Mages are a little different; they are more like the D&D sorcerer class than the mage class; they use a mana pool to cast spells it has learned.

The specializations add to the game play very well, though some specializations are better than others. Each class has 4 specializations which add new strengths and skills. For example, the mage specialization, Spirit Healer, allows a mage to cast very powerful healing magic, while the warrior specialization, Champion, allows a warrior to buff their party and debuff their enemies. (I'm not a fan of the rogue specializations, to be honest, but that's just me.) And the different specializations give you different stat buffs; Berserker, a warrior specialization, gives you a +2 to your strength stat and 10 more HP, for example.

I'm pleased with the voice cast in this game, as well. Instead of doing like I did with my Mass Effect review, however, I'll just post a link to the Dragon Age Wiki with the voice actors.

Now, I will comment on a few;Ohgren, Gorim and First Enchanter Irving are all voiced by the same guy; Steve Blum. Which is funnier when you consider that, if you aren't playing as a Dwarven Noble and bring Oghren with you when you first talk to Gorim in Denerim, they talk to each other. Granted, I know it's not how voice acting works, but I can just imagine Steve Blum in the booth, switching back and forth between the voices.

Romances are well done; You have 4 people to romance in this game; 3 for a male PC, 3 for a female. For female, you have Alistair, Zevran and Leliana, and for a male, you get Morrigan, Leliana and Zevran. That's right, you have a male romance character who is bisexual. And while I don't swing that way myself, I'm glad that there's the option in the game for both gay men to have someone to relate to.

Now, I am prepared to talk about the things I don't like. First, the influence system. Now, I've ranted on influence systems in the Kotorfanmedia forums, but my main gripe is this; they are needlessly metagame concepts that take you out of the gameplay. Instead of bringing along a party that is best suited for the situation, I have to take a less than idea party with me, just because I don't want to lose influence with a certain party member because of the choices I'm making on this playthrough. It doesn't help that positive influence gives tangible rewards as well; the better influence you with a character, the more of a boost to a certain stat they get.

Another thing how the game handles random encounters; when I don't want to deal with them, they pop up, and when I want a certain random encounter to happen, it never does. For example, there are two good random encounters; the meteor metal ore (which comes from a Superman reference. Check this video to see!)

Anyway, the other good random encounter is a store that has a few good items.

But the random encounters, while good for a few EXP, really disrupt the flow of the game.

I do have a complaint, however. EA and Microsoft forced Bioware to push out a DLC that was essentially a virus; the"Return to Ostagar" DLC originally deleted all specializations that you weren't using at that moment for your individual characters. So, I could continue playing with my warrior-Templar/Champion just fine, but if I wanted to create a new mage, all the specializations I had unlocked were gone. And every time I turned the system off, the specializations I unlocked during the game session got deleted when I turned the system off. Granted, I learned a way around that problem, and Bioware fixed the glitch, but it was irritating for a few days until I learned how to fix it.

I can only hope that this isn't going to become the standard of EA, to force Bioware to put out something before it's done.

Finally, the "sex scenes" in this game. I think Bioware made them look incredibly cheesy because of the controversy regarding the Mass Effect; you see underwear the whole time on during the "sex scene", all the time. And they don't even try to hide that fact; there are several scenes where you see the character's entire body. I laughed so hard when I first saw this. It's almost as if Bioware is saying "Go ahead Kevin McCullough and Cooper Lawrence, make yourselves look like fools again with our game. This time, Sesame Street is racier than what you can see!"

All in all, I like this game. It's flawed, yes, but what game ISN'T flawed? But, even a flawed Bioware game is better than most games that are made today.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Repost of old LJ entry: Talk Nerdy to Me.

I was listening to music on youtube a little bit ago, and Poison's "Talk Dirty to me" showed up in the suggestions, and I put it on, and I remembered "Oh, yeah, I rewrote the lyrics to it, didn't I?"  So, I spent the last half an hour trying to find the livejournal entry I made up, and I found it on July 8, 2008. So, I'm like "wow, I did that four years ago?"

I plan on recording it once I have the hardware and software to record my voice and overdub it onto the music.  Until then, here's the original lyrics I wrote, and a youtube video with the music.

You know I never
I never seen you act so cool
They never teach ya that in school
But I like it
And I know you like it too
The way that I want you
I gotta have you
Oh yes, I do

You know I never
I never ever stay out late
You know that I can hardly wait
Just to frag you
And I know you cannot wait
Wait to frag me too
I gotta touch you

Cause baby we'll be
At the game store
In the the comic shop
Behind the server
I feel like I'm gonna pop
Down the basement
lock the cellar door
And baby
Talk nerdy to me

Yeah I email you
When-ever I'ma all alone
I'm only hoping that you're home
So I can play you
When you play those games with me
And beat me so soundly
I gotta have you

Cause baby we'll be
At the game store
In the the comic shop
Behind the server
I feel like I'm gonna pop
Down the basement
lock the cellar door
And baby
Talk nerdy to me

C.C. pick up that guitar and talk to me

Cause baby we'll be
At the game store
In the the comic shop
Behind the server
I feel like I'm gonna pop pop pop
Down the basement
lock the cellar door
And baby
Talk nerdy to meeee---yeah
And baby, Talk nerdy to me, yeah yeah yeah
And baby, Talk nerdy to me

The Dolphin Experiment

I found this on youtube. The audio was taken from the Roosterteeth podcast.  Roosterteeth is best known for the Red Vs. Blue series. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Background

I just updated the background to a picture that was done by Madolin Bee. During the heyday of Kotorfanmedia, I was looking for someone to do a visual rendition of my character Jake Katarn.  I actually have this as my desktop background, and have had it since 2007.  I love her drawing THAT MUCH.

Anyway, check out her deviant art page, and know that I've loved her art since I saw it and look forward to seeing how her work has and will improve.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mass Effect 3 review

Having finished my playthrough with all six classes, but NOT Insanity (because that's just challenge for the sake of challenge, and it really doesn't do anything for the narrative or gameplay aspects of this.  Well, a little on the gameplay, but not enough to change my opinion.)

Anyway, the story is as follows; The Reapers are here.  All of Shepard's efforts to stop them have failed, and they're here, and they are wiping out all "advanced life" in the galaxy.  And they started with Earth. 

So yeah, things are VERY grim when the game starts.  But, there's hope.  A short trip to the Mars archives with your squad gets you information that, as you have been led to believe, will destroy the Reapers. 

The rest of the game is spent building alliances and getting the resources you need to build the superweapon.  The main missions are for the alliances, and the side missions are for the resources.  Both contribute to your Effective Military Strength, or EMS.  The EMS determines your ending; if it's below a certain point, you only get two of the endings, but if it's high enough, you get all four.

Now, for the gameplay.  I actually like the changes that were made to the system over the past two games.  They kept the powers progression from ME2, which I like, since they focus on the abilities instead of improving accuracy with weapons.  But, they added the weight system, giving your proficiency in all guns.  This actually fits in the old adage "every marine a rifleman", allowing me to give Shepard an assault rifle no matter the class, and, if you upgrade it and upgrade your weight capacity, still grants you very little cooldown on your tech and biotic powers.  And if you're a soldier, you don't have to worry about that fact at all, since you've only got one power with a cooldown; they removed the cooldown on ammo powers in this game, which is a vast improvement in ME2.

Next, they overhauled the planet scanning; it's still necessary if you want to boost your EMS, but it's not as annoying.  You give off a scan pulse in the different systems, seeing if you can find resources for yous military or the superweapon, and you only scan for one thing.  Of course, you get a sense of urgency, since each pulse alerts the Reapers to your presence, and too many pulses and the Reapers start chasing you down.  The only way to escape is to leave the system, although you can return and continue to scan, but the Reapers chase you down every time.  So, if you're quick and careful, you can come back in and catch something you missed when the Reapers chase you off the first time.  Of course, when you complete a mission, the map resets and the Reapers won't chase you down in a system you've been to previously. Of course, this means the Normandy's stealth drive plays a bigger role in this game because of this; the only reason you are able to enter Reaper Controlled systems is BECAUSE of the Stealth Drive.  So, the setup from the two previous games actually some practical use in this game.

The classes are pretty much the same in this game as ME2, with the exception that that tech powers now have the ability to do the same chain attacks that biotic powers could in ME2.  They also added grenades back into this game, though they are thrown overhand in this game, instead of sidearm like ME1.  Heavy weapons are different this game; they have limited ammunition, you pick them up on the battlefield, and discard them when you run out.

Finally, the classes; I still hate Sentinel, as I have in both ME1 and 2, I still really like the biotic classes.  I also really liked Infiltrator, but my favorite is still the basic soldier. 

And finally, the endings.  I'm not going to bother with the original controversy about the original crappy endings, because it doesn't matter at this point; the extended cut is free to download.  It fixes everything that was wrong with the original endings.

So, there's four endings; Destroy, Control, Synthesis, and Refuse. Destroy shows you destroying the Reapers, Control shows you becoming the guiding consciousness of the Reapers, Synthesis shows you combining organics and synthetics, and Refuse shows you refusing to cooperate with the three choices.  All four shows victory in some way, though Refuse shows Shepard's failure against them and the next cycle's victory.  Strangely, I prefer the Control ending the most, because there's actually three different versions of it, depending on your alignment meter; Full(or mostly) Paragon, Full(or mostly) Renegade and Neutral.  But with all endings, you see the effects of your choices in the game.  For example, if you chose to have Jack's students do barriers instead of fighting, you see Jack standing with them, but if you have them fight, she stands over their graves.  And you see this for the majority of the gameplay choices; the genophage, Rannoch, your party members from ME2...all of it, and specifically how you handled those situations.

And finally, multiplayer.  It felt tacked on, and it was, but it is fun.  Every time I've played multiplayer, I've had fun.  Unfortunately, most of the DLC has been multiplayer packs, which, while fun, is not what I expect out of a Bioware game.  I've heard that they are planning a new storyline pack, but I'm disappointed in the focus on multiplayer so far.

All in all, I enjoy this ending of Shepard's story.  And while it is pretty much the Swan Song for how Bioware used to be, it's an enjoyable one, from beginning to end.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Toilet Pizza

I was going through The Spoony One's video archives, and I saw something very funny.  It's called "The Toilet Pizza", and it's a prank that he played on his gaming group from a one in a million chance.  So, here's the toilet pizza.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mass Effect 3 review update

Okay, here's the deal.  When I did my reviews of Mass Effect 1 and 2, I did so after completing insanity an going through all the classes.  I'm on my fourth playthrough of ME3 as in Infiltrator.  I'm trying to get through it with all potential choices, and when coming into ME3, there are a LOT of potential choices to bring into the game.  I've still got a LOT of choices to do and bring into ME3 to play through all options.  It will take until I get through all playthrough, and unlike when I did my ME1 and 2 reviews on my old livejournal account, I AM employed.  So, it will take a while to get through all three games as all 6 classes.  And I've got three to finish, and I need to see all four extended cut endings.  I do want to say that I like the extended cut endings from what I've seen on youtube.

So, it's gonna take while.  Just started my ME3 Infiltrator, and it takes about a week and a half to get through, depending on my schedule.

Of course, I know that by the time someone actually reads this, my review will be finished. But, that's what a blog is for; to share your thoughts and to archive them on the internet.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

ME2 Review repost and current thoughts.

Here's my reposting of my ME2 review. Originally posted on March 14, 2010 on my livejournal.

Okay, having finished my Insanity playthrough, I'm ready to do my review.

First off, the game is short, if you ignore the BS planet scanning, and if you've beaten the game and imported an ME1 character, you can do just that.  I'm serious; all you need to "win" the game is 30,000 Palladium and 15,000 Iridium to get the necessary upgrades to the Normandy, and you get more than that on your second playthrough with an imported ME1 character.  (You get 5 levels, 50,000 Credits, and 10,000 of each resource, plus 100,000 more credits for getting more than a million credits in ME1, plus 200,000 more credits on a second playthrough, plus 50,000 more of each resource on a second playthrough.)  I honestly believe that this game is on 2 discs is because of the damn planet scanning.

Now, for the gameplay; it's both similar and nothing like the ME1 combat system. A first time player could jump into ME2 without doing the tutorials and reading the instructions without being too confused; you aim the same way, you use your powers the same way, and use the conversation wheel the same way.  The only major difference is the improvement the cover system and the change is the use of medigel.  You have control of when your character takes cover with the touch of a button, instead of pressing up against a wall with the joystick.  I take cover when I want to, and not when the game thinks I want to now.  As for medigel, it's used to revive fallen party members.

And your party members aren't retarded circus monkeys in combat either.  You can control them individually now, too.  That's saved me a lot of frustrations too.  And they don't get in the way of fire either; all bullets pass through; though they complain when you shoot them.

As for my other complaint, the morality system, I had no problem with this, so long as I do it right.  I've honestly never had a problem with it; Illium gives plenty of morality points, after all, for both "alignments".  I just make sure I've done both Illium and Tchunka before I have the "conflict moment"; where two of your characters have a conflict with another character after you do both of their loyalty missions; like when Tali and Legion have their conflict moment.

The story is good; Shepard gets brought back from the dead to continue the fight against the Reapers and their slaves, the Collectors.  Shepard has to gather a team and go through Omega 4 relay to stop the Collectors.  The mission is a suicide mission because no one has returned from entering the Omega 4 relay. 

The way the story works is par for the course for Bioware, as are the character interactions.  The characters feel alive, and, unlike the first game, you have a quest attached to each of them. 

As for the guns, I find I've got less of a problem with the "Ammo thing" than I thought I would.  Ammo is plentiful, and so long as I aim properly, I don't worry about wasting it.  And the aiming mechanism is much improved over ME1; but since you don't put any points into your guns, it has to be.

As for favored class, this time, it's Soldier, Adept and Infiltrator.  I know, surprise to me, given how much I hated Engineer and it's variants in ME1. 

I also like change in the hacking; the scrolling text and the "connect the pairs" are far easier than the "push the buttons in order" hacking of ME1.  They're also more fun too; I've never liked the "Quick time event" fascination that some developers have, and I've never liked those events.

My only real complaints are the size of the text, the planet scanning, and the Insanity level. I've already ranted on the planet scanning and text, so I'll say one thing about the Insanity playthrough; it's completely cheap.  You die WAY to easily on Insanity.  It's hard for all the right reasons, yes, but that doesn't make it any less cheap.

As for party members, I found that, since I don't need an engineer in ME2, I don't bring Tali along in ME2.  She was in my party every time in ME1, because she was the fastest advancing and recharging engineer variant in ME1.  Now, I tend to bring along Garrus and either Miranda or Jack (depending on whether I need to remove barriers or I need crowd control.)

I do like Legion, however, because I get what he's talking about when talking about how the geth work; but I'm a computer networking technician, so of course it makes sense.

As for the DLC, I've got Zaeed and the tank.  Zaeed is a good character, and his mission is very interesting.  As for the tank, it takes care of all the problems that the Mako had; it handles smoothly, it has better aim (once you're used to it), and it CAN'T BE FLIPPED OVER!  I'm serious; I spent 2 hours just trying to flip this thing over, and it doesn't happen! A vast improvement over the "Oh, I hit a bump, I'm flipping over and I'm stuck" Mako.

EDIT: And now I've got the Kasumi DLC.  Kasumi is a lot like Zaeed in mechanics; her conversations are like Zaeed in the respect that when you talk to her on the ship, she tells stories instead of has party conversations.  Like Zaeed, her loyalty mission is at the start.

As for her loyalty mission, it's like playing through a chopped down Ocean's Eleven.  Shepard and Kasumi go into a criminal's hideout and steal an item that Kasumi wants.  Shepard goes in under the cover of a criminal mastermind named either Solomon or Allison Gunn(depending on the gender of your Shepard), and works to get into the vault and steal that item.  Once you get the item, you and Kasumi have a fight for your lives to get out.  Your reward? A new SMG, and a new casual outfit for Shepard.  It's a good mission; hard combat(It's hard because you only have Kasumi in your party.), good puzzles, and a low need on the Renegade and Paragon meters for the intimidate/persuade checks.

Kasumi also comments on your romance choices.  So far I only romanced Miranda with Kasumi installed, as I switched back to Dragon Age to prepare characters for the Awakening expansion.

If I think of anything else later, I'll add it to this review, but for now, I like this game.  It's way too short a story and a game, but what's there is great.

And now, my current thoughts on ME2; I still agree with my stance on the game, but now I've gotten both Lair of the Shadow Broker and Arrival.  Both contribute to the story massively, and both have long reaching effects.  Lair of the Shadow Broker is Liara DLC, and is the story of HOW Liara becomes the Shadow Broker.  She's the Shadow Broker in ME3, but her dialogue in ME3 plays out differently if YOU put her there. She also remarks on your romance options, if any, when she comes aboard the Normandy once her mission is over.  And if you previously romanced her and cheated on her? She remarks on that too.  And it's also possible to continue your romance with her too!

But it's Arrival that shows the urgency of the Reaper threat.  The Reapers are coming in through the Alpha Relay, which is in batarian space.  It's a solo mission, and a stealth one(which is FAR easier with an infiltrator with the tactical cloak ability), but you don't get penalized if you suck at stealth; you just have to shoot your way through the batarian prison.

It's when you get to the asteroid is when things REALLY pick up; turns out the scientists that were going to destroy the alpha relay are indoctrinated, and are trying to HELP the Reapers return.  So Shepard has to fight and kill them in order to stop the Reapers from coming through.  You have to restart the machinery to send the asteroid into the relay, and fight your way to the Normandy.  And, depending on when you complete it, a different being taunts you.  If you do it before the suicide mission, you get the Collector General.  If after, you get Harbinger.  But, it's the mission that's cool.  

All in all, I LOVE Mass Effect 2.  Great story, superior gameplay to ME1, and far more distinct classes than the previous game too.I recommend it to anyone who likes RPGs. 

Next up, is my first new review, ME3.  I will be reviewing it with the context of having the extended cut DLC as the ending, not the original "pushed out too early" endings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Old Game Review:Mass Effect repost and current thoughts

This was originally posted to my livejournal on August 27, 2009. I will post my new thoughts at the end.

As many people know, I love games by Bioware. That Canadian RPG house is one of the few game companies that consistently makes good games. Every game of theirs I've played, I've enjoyed immensely. Baldur's Gate 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, and now, Mass Effect. (Never played Neverwinter Nights or the first Baldur's Gate, but that's because I don't own them.)

And that's what today's review is of; Mass Effect. A scifi adventure that takes place in the 22nd century, Mass Effect is a story about a galaxy on the brink of an apocalypse that nobody is willing to admit to. Only Lt. Commander Shepard, a member of the human Systems Alliance, and her crew know the truth, and are trying to stop it.

Now, I say her, despite the fact that you can choose the gender of your Shepard, because I prefer the voice actor for the female Shepard. Jennifer Hale gives Shepard more emotion, more character than Mark Meer.

First off, I want to talk about the voice talent. With the exception of Mark Meer, the voice cast is awesome. First off, anyone who's played past Bioware games will recognize 3 voice actors; Cam Clarke, Jennifer Hale, and Raphael Sbarge. Hell, two of them are KOTOR alumni; Hale and Sbarge. However, there are a few awesome voice actors as well. Seth Green for example. He does some great work as Joker. There's also two voice actors I remember from when I was a kid; Keith David and Marina Sirtis. These two voice two of the main characters from the 1994 Disney series, Gargoyles.

Character creation is pretty detailed, allowing for some very unique avatars. Of course, that meant I've spent several hours creating characters, playing through to the citadel, seeing my character in that light, and then abandoning. Of course, after realizing that I could take OFF the helmet, that meant I only had to wade through a half an hour of gameplay. I've actually taken to looking online for good looking faces so I don't have to deal with creating, playing and then abandoning a character before I've gotten them just right.

The characters are pretty well done, but then again, Bioware's pretty good at that. While most don't have a detailed backstory, they are fleshed out enough to make them individuals. Not perfect, but ages beyond what most game companies do.

Next, the character classes. They have there specialist classes; soldier, engineer and adept(which is a biotic, which is essentially a mage character), and the "hybrid classes", of vanguard, sentinel, and infiltrator. My personal preference is for the soldier, vanguard and adept classes, mostly because I like tanking, high damage and crowd control. My least favorite class is engineer, but I don't have any real reason for not liking it. I just don't.

I like the combat, for the most part. I believe this is the first Bioware RPG that goes completely with ranged combat, and it works very well with the context of the game. Controlling Shepard is easy an fluid. Changing out weapons was easy, as was using the combat abilities. And the biotics were fun to play with.

Speaking of weapons, I really like three of them; the pistol, shotgun and assault rifle. They do a good amount of damage, and, with the frictionless material upgrades, they don't overheat. And they're pretty good at close to mid range combat.

That said, there are some flaws; first off, squad control. Controlling their abilities in combat was easy, but the inability send one off to a specific place, was just horrible. And, more than once, my squadmates got in the way. For example, today alone, Ash got in my life of fire 3 times, and Tali at least twice. Not to mention the times I've tried to slide over from where I took cover so I could get a better shot, only to find Kaidan blocking me from doing just that.

Next is some of the issues I have with combat. Trying to get cover is annoying. More than once I tried to get cover, and all Shepard did was hold her rifle up, signifying that something was blocking it. Other times, I retreated to bet better cover, only to have Shepard press up against a wall and get shot repeatedly. I'm just glad that ME2 is going to rectify this, because the cover mechanism doesn't work properly. When it works, it's great. When it doesn't, it gets you killed.

Third is how annoying it was to level up. I don't know about anyone else, but going to those uncharted worlds to grind out levels is NOT fun. It takes too long to get the levels I want. And the only reason I bother with grinding levels is because the higher levels abilities are more fun. And, the better quality the weapon, the slower the overheat rate.

And then there's the weapon I don't like; the sniper rifle. I don't like how inaccurate it is without a shitload of points in the skill. Even the Master Spectre versions of the gun suck ass.

And finally, the supposed "twist." Sovereign being a Reaper was not a surprise. There were plenty of hints dropped throughout the game, and that revelation moment where Sovereign reveals itself to Shepard, I'm like "how can you not see this?". I mean, the entire game is talking about sapient AI, so of course Saren's ship was a Reaper.

Finally, I can't talk about Mass Effect without talking about the "sex scene" controversy, which was, of course, complete bullshit. For fuck's sake, they don't show anything raunchier than what is played on daytime soaps. In fact, daytime soaps are far more explicit and raunchy than what is in Mass Effect. There's only two sex scenes available; the one with the asari consort, where you DON'T SEE ANYTHING, and the other is the natural progression of a relationship. Both are noninteractive, neither shows anything explicit, and BOTH ARE OPTIONAL! Anybody who made a big deal out of that never played the game, and there's proof of it.

Okay, as for my current take having played all three games; this game is the beginning of the trilogy. A LOT of universe set up, a LOT of character introduction, a LOT of exposition. Through the "we have to stop Saren" story, you learn who the Reapers are, what they are planning, and what Shepard's mission will be for the next two games. You also gain information on indoctrination, THE most important thing that the Reapers are capable of; yeah, they are big fucking starships that take the entire citadel fleet to destroy ONE, but indoctrination shows what the Reapers did to Saren, and later, Shepard. Yes, I believe in the indoctrination theory. It's the only way the ME3 ending makes sense, and you get hints to that STARTING IN THIS GAME.

So yeah, I still love Mass Effect. I love it enough to plan out a trilogy of stories based on that. The only real gripe that I have is how Bioware fucks up the military structure. But, I doubt Bioware has anyone who has ever been in the military, or a military advisor, so its fine. I actually started my ME story with that in mind, with the "Shepard lost her biotics" story hook after.

I'm gonna post my first impression of ME2 from my old livejournal, and then complete the review from there. Then, on to ME3.

EDIT: Yes, I'm aware that later this day, the Extended cut DLC was released, and the indoctrination theory has been debunked. But, if you play all three games back to back, you do see hints of why it was plausible until the DLC was released.  So, rather than the intent of going through the rest of my reviews pointing out moments that gave credibility to the indoctrination theory, I'm just gonna do the merits and flaws of the games.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tips for dealing with telemarketers

Okay, since I have the misfortune of working in the telemarketing industry, I have a few tips for when dealing with people who do what I do.

  1. Please don't yell at me.  I don't want to call you anymore than you want to be called by me.  In fact, I don't want to call you at all; because I get yelled at several times a day.  I know I'm calling you at home; I'm sorry.  But I'm just trying to make a living, so please show a little politeness while I am trying to make a living.
  2. If I ask for confirmation of your identity, please say yes or no, that is or is not you.  If you don't, you're getting called back the next day.  And the next day. And the next day, and so on, if you keep doing it.
  3. If you hang up on me when I'm introducing myself or the organization I represent, you're getting called back.  I don't have a choice, I have to.  I don't want to call you back, but I have to.
  4. If I've called the wrong number, please, just tell me so.  You don't need to yell at me; I have no control over where I'm calling.  I'm calling from an autodialer, and I have no control over who I am calling.
  5. If I call at a bad time, I'm sorry.  I have no control over when I'm calling; if the autodialer called you, I have to talk to you.
  6. I'm calling from an autodialer; I have no control over who or when I'm calling.  Please, be pleasant.  I am trying to make a living, same as you.
Now, how to get rid of us.

  1. If I have reached the person I am looking for, just listen to my pitch.  Let me do my job, and just say no.  I will let you go.  Just be nice, let me talk, and we can both get on with your day.
  2. If you don't want to be called again, say "please, take me off your list". It's that simple to make sure we don't call again.
  3. If you no longer make any financial decisions, let me know that after I introduce myself.  That gets things done quickly.
  4. If you are a caretaker, tell me that you are the caretaker of the person I am looking for.  This ends the call right there.
  5. If you or the person on record is in an nursing or assisted living home, tell me.  That ends the call right there.

That's it.  Be pleasant, be civil, and it will make all our lives a LOT better.  Thank you, and have a nice day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

First repost of an old entry.

Here's one of my old entries from my Livejournal about my plans for my KOTOR Version 2 story. This was originally December 23, 2008 there, and I think it's important to remind both myself and my readers of my plans for my magnum opus.  And since it was written two days before Christmas, I ended it with "Merry Christmas".  I'm posting it in a different font, background and color so you know that it's an old entry, and I will do that for was time sensitive. Here it is.

This is as much for me as it is for the fans of the fanfiction stories I've written.

KOTOR Version 2 is a four part story; Sith Triumvirate, KOTOR Version 2, Exile's tale, and Endgame. 

Sith Triumvirate is about 3 of Revan's Jedi Generals that Revan turns into his top agents.  So far, I've done chapters about their origins, the subjugation of Korriban, the infiltration of the Jedi Temple to gather information about the active Knights and masters(which will lead Revan to the decision to have Bastila replace Malak as his apprentice.), the agents meeting Revan's "shadow master"; the one who taught Revan the way of the Sith, and how Malak lost his lower jaw.  The only other things I have planned are the "Sith assassin" training(Think Atton's methods for killing Jedi.), and the building and activation of HK-47.  Unlike the other stories in my plans, I am open to suggestions for ideas, because that's all I've got.  The only guideline is that the ideas have to involve the Sith triumvirate.  Revan can be in the story, but with a minor role only.  It all takes place during the Jedi Civil War.  I will, however, give the main characters make a cameo in KOTOR Version 2.

KOTOR Version 2 is essentially the game, with a twist.  First, it's being told to Tionne Solusar(Though she's not technically Solusar yet, as she has yet to marry Kam Solusar in 22 ABY, when she finds the holocron), and Revan is amnesic, not mind-wiped.  Revan remembers everything up to leaving Taris during the Mandalorian Wars.  The last thing he remembers before waking up on Dantooine was leaving the planet after having a meeting on who would go on to be his Jedi Generals.  He regains his memories during the course of the story, whenever he finds a Star Map.  And when he is reunited with Malak, he regains the rest of his memories.  This royally fucks with the revelation scene, but I worked that out when I thought up this idea.  The only reason the crew goes to the last planet is because Revan doesn't remember the exact location of the Star Forge. That's not part of the amnesia; Revan simply forgot the hyperspace coordinates, in the same way you or I would forget where we placed our car keys.

Anyway, KOTOR Version 2 continues with the plot of the game, plus a couple chapters on the aftermath.  One takes them to Zeltros for relaxation at a hotspring, the next are Revan planning for what needs to happen next, and getting his friends ready.

Exile's tale is just that; the story of my Exile, Vhae Pano.  Vhae's a male Exile, but I'm bringing along both Brianna and Mical, and I'm having Atris as the main antagonist.  It require a little fudging with things, but that's what makes a fanfic fun.  This is still in the planning stage, since I'm writing Sith truimvirate and KOTOR Version 2, so this will be a while.

And finally, Endgame ties them all together.  It starts with Tionne bringing Revan's holocron to Luke Skywalker, and Luke starts watching it after Tionne tells Luke of the story so far.  The holocron begins again with one year has passed since KOTOR 2, and Vhae has found Revan and Bastila(yes, and Bastila.  You'll see why when I get to that point in KOTOR Version 2), and Revan begins the final stage of his plan; take down the Sith who taught him.  To do that, Revan needs the strength of his companions, and their forces.  Revan gathers his Jedi companions, which include Dustil Onasi, Jolee, Juhani and Yuthura ban, as well as Vhae's "Lost Jedi".  He also gets Carth and the Republic Navy, Canderous(Mandalore) and his Mandalorians, a Wookiee task force, HK-47 and a couple HK-51s(if I can figure out a fessible explanation how), and Mission and a small band of smugglers.  The Sith truimvirate will also appear, on Revan's side.  I've also got an idea about a Force sensitive version of Rogue Squadron, led by a twi'lek who failed his Jedi training and joined the Republic Navy instead of going to teh Jedi Service Corps.  All this buildup leads to a final battle over Drommund Kaas, where Revan battles his former Sith master for the fate of the galaxy.

So that's it; the entire plot of my KOTOR Version 2 saga.  You'll need to read all four to understand somethings that happen in all four.  Reading Sith Triumvirate will help you understand why Revan does some of the things he does in KOTOR Version 2.   Hell, I reference Vhae Pano's actions during the Mandalorian Wars during Sith Triumvirate.  If you read KOTOR Version 2, you'll know how and why Mandalore got his helmet from Revan.  And Endgame will be continuity heavy, since it ties all 3 previous stories together.

So, good reading, and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

First! (Good lord, that was stupid. :) )

Here's my new website for all my rants, reviews and updates on my creative work.  I will be posting the stuff I had on my livejournal over the next few weeks as I have time, and I will add news stuff to it afterward.  Until then, wait for me to get things ready.