Monday, April 28, 2014

Mass Effect Retrospective 10: Updates and retractions

Welcome back, my beautiful freaks, to the Assassin's Den!

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been going through the ME trilogy again, and I've found out a few things.

First off, ME1 romances.  There is a way to cut off both romances for your gender and NOT carry one into ME2 if you choose your gender specific romance option as the Virmire Survivor.  There's a point in the romances where you have to be very, very harsh in your dismissal of them.  For Liara, you have to choose the bottom choice when she asks if you and her could share anything.  But make sure you reject Liara first, because if you reject her second, she locks in no matter what you say to her.  For Kaidan, it's when he talks about the BAaT program and initially brings up Vyrnnus.  You have to tell him that "this is a battlefield thing", which is the most "Renegade" option for the final line.  For Ashley, it's the conversation where she talks about her grandfather and Shanxi.  You have to get to the point where she starts ranting about aliens, and "kowtowing to the Council".

Essentially, you have to have the tone that "I don't need this high school bullshit" in order to outright reject them.  You'll know you rejected them because Liara won't talk about the asari joining, Ashley won't bring up the fact that "there's a reason for everything", and Kaidan won't talk about "getting the Council on our side"; in other words, they won't talk about the future with you. It's harsh, yes, but it is the only way to reject both Liara and the Virmire survivor without killing the opposite gender romance.  And a reminder that, if you want to reject both, reject Liara first.  If you reject the human romance option first, Liara will lock in, regardless of whether you reject her or not.  This is more important when playing a female character, as you have to reject both Liara and Kaidan at the same time, where as with a male, you reject Ashley one conversation after Liara.

Second, updates to my ME3 loadout.  Due to a playlist by a youtuber known as D4nnyB0y1066, I've been able to check out the weapon capabilities without going in and testing them all myself, and I found I like different weapons than I had before.  And here is the list, along with the upgrades for the weapons, as well as when you get them, and whether or not they require DLC or not.

Assault Rifles
Cerberus Harrier-Start-Firefight pack. Shepard gets the magazine mod and extended barrel, and companions get the scope in place of the magazine.
M-8 Avenger-Start. Since this is for a power focused build, this gets ultralight material and an extended barrel.

Shotguns (Companions get choke and barrel. Shepard's load out is as follows.)
M-22 Eviscerator- Grissom Academy. Choke and Barrel
M-300 Claymore- the Rachni Mission. This gun is Wrex, Vega and Grunt only, above mods apply.
Graal Spike Thrower- Priority: Tuchanka. Soldier and Vanguard Shepard Only. Magazine and barrel.  While heavy, this one has a charged shot that uses no extra ammo.

Sniper Rifle (Scope and barrel for all)
M-92 Mantis - Infiltrator start, or on Priority Mars.
M-98 Widow- Priority: Thessia.

SMG (Companions scope and barrel)
M-9 Tempest - Turian Platoon. Companion gun only.
M-12 Locust- Priority: Horizon. Ultralight material and barrel.

Pistol (Companions get scope and barrel, Shepard switches magazine or ultralight material for scope)
M-5 Phalanx - Priority: Tuchanka.
M-6 Carnifax - Arrae: Ex-Cerberus Scientists
M-358 Talon - Priority: Citadel 2. This is essentially a shotgun in range and power, so give this to someone that can tank, like EDI or Kaidan.  All else, go with the other 2.

The reason I advocate scopes and barrels on companions is 2 fold; they aren't bothered by weight, and they don't run out of ammo, so anything that doesn't boost accuracy or damage output (either ranged or melee, if you prefer melee. I don't, so I don't recommend it.) are wasted.

My preferred loadout on Shepard is as follows, in order of weapon appearance;
Soldier- Cerberus Harrier, Mantis/Widow, Eviscerator/Spike Thrower, Phalanx/Carnifax
Vanguard-Avenger//Locust, Eviscerator/Spike thrower
Sentinel-Avenger, Mantis
Infiltrator-Avenger/Locust, Mantis/Widow
Engineer-Avenger/Locust, Mantis
Adept-Avenger/Locust, Mantis

This shows a bit about my playstyle, too.  I prefer to fight from mid-far range, unless a Vanguard, and I try to balance frequency of power use with the damage output of my guns, so I tend toward light weapons for the power focus classes.  The Soldier isn't power focused, so heavy weapons don't matter, and the Vanguard and Infiltrator get on really heavy one and one really light one, since those are their signature weapons.  I've seen some pretty good builds with a shotgun instead of a sniper rifle online, so if you are into that, change out the Mantis/Widow for the Eviscerator/Spike thrower.

You'll also notice I forgo a pistol for all but the Soldier. Again, it comes down to weight.  The only reason I take a pistol along as a Soldier is that I have something back on if I ever run out of ammo.

Finally, Vega's "I'm the new player avatar" thing; I read on the ME wiki and saw that, if you take him with you on certain missions, he DOES prompt exposition from those who have been with you for the last two games on the shuttle rides down.  I tested this on my most recent playthrough, saving just before the shuttle ride down on every mission and then reloading to compare with the party I normally take,  and I found that yes, he does prompt for more information.  I guess I would have noticed this quicker if I actually used him in combat, but I digress.

As for everything else, nothing has changed.  Everything else I've said in the previous 9 entries remains true, for now.

So until next time, stay beautiful freaks!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Assassin's Den Review: Evoland

Welcome back, my beautiful freaks, to the Assassin's Den!

Today, I'm going to review a game I picked up on steam called Evoland.  I got turned on to this game by the 8 bit Duke's review of this game.  Like he says in that review, it is a short tale of the changes adventure games past.  In fact, that's all the game is; you are going through the changes made throughout in adventure RPGs over the last three decades. From getting 2d movement, to smoother scrolling, to a weapon, to color, to introduction of a story, to better graphics to mode 7 graphics that the super nintendo introduced to basic 3d models and so on, it's all about the cliches that have been part of the standard of the adventure RPG over the last three decades.

But the most important thing is the humor of this game.  One of the things that they constantly do is point out the tropes they are playing on; for example, when you open the chest that gets you the 16 Color Display, under it, they remark "OMG Color!", and you get these things constantly as you move through the game.  From the graphical changes to the upgrades to weapons to the ability to actually name your character, you're getting humorous remarks about the changes that are being made to the gameplay and upgrades to the graphics.

This game is short; you can complete it in two hours, but it's two hours of humor and a story that doesn't take itself seriously.  It's simply "you are the good guy, go save the world from the bad guy".  That's it.  But this game isn't about story; it's about the history of adventure RPGs.  It's not deep, and it's not meant to be.  It's just a fun ride through the past in a modern form.

This game is also pretty easy, although there are places that kill you repeatedly, and there are some puzzles that left me scratching my head.  But that's part of the history, and that's what they are celebrating.  And it's done in a way that's not going to eat up a lot of your time.

I completed this game in about four hours, and that's because I got lost in a couple of dungeons (because there is no mini-map until you get the ability late in the game, another commentary on how adventure RPGs have changed.) and died a few times on a boss that was tough until I learned how to cheese it.  But I enjoyed it the whole time through; it reminded me of the games I've been playing most of my life.

I picked this up for $2.50 on steam, because it was on sale for that day only.  It's now back to being ten dollars.  I honestly think it's worth the ten dollars, but only if you go into the game with the right mindset.  It's a well controlled, well built game with a LOT of humor inside it.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have a lot of replay value; I don't think I'll be playing it for quite a while, except to try it out with my gamepad, since it may control differently with one.

I agree with the 8-bit Duke that the game could be better.  There are a LOT of things that this game does right, and there are a lot of things this game could do better.  And to be honest, this would be a good way to get children into retro adventure/RPGs; it's short, relatively easy but has parts that doesn't hold your hand.  And it's tame too, so you don't have to worry about your kids seeing something you don't want them seeing.  For that reason alone, it's worth it, and the ten bucks on steam won't break your bank.

For now, stay beautiful freaks!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Assassin's Den Reviews: Spore

Welcome back, my beautiful freaks, to the Assassin's Den!  Today, I'm reviewing Spore, a 2008 multi-genre game, though its best described as a "god game".  A god game is an artificial life game that casts the player in the position of controlling the game on a large scale, as an entity with divine/supernatural powers, as a great leader, or with no specified character (as in in the case of this game), and places them in charge of a game setting containing autonomous characters to guard and influence.

Now, I remember, back in 2006, this game was touted in the game magazines as all about the creation, and that fact is all over the game.  You're always building or modifying things to your liking.  That is what the game is all about; from the moment you load into the game to the final part of the game, you are constantly creating something.

This game has 5 main parts; cell stage, creature stage, tribal stage, civilization stage and space stage.  The cell stage has you swimming around in the primordial ooze in a 2d plane, eating plants, meat, or both depending on your mouth parts, and picking up other cell parts to aid in your survival until you can move on to the next stage.  It is this stage where you select the kinds of food you're going to be eating in the next two stages, and determines what kind of mouth parts you open up once you get your first upgrade, and what special skill you're going to have in the next stage.

It is the creature stage where the game really opens up.  It is the first 3d stage, and has you running around the valley picking up parts for your creature and either making friends with or hunting down the other creatures to earn dna points to spend on your creature.  The creature stage continues the precedent of the previous stage and determines the skill you have for the next stage.

However, the creature stage is the stage where you are truly creating; the creature creator was released as a demo, and you can create just about anything.  You can make dragons, dinosaurs, Pok√©mon, characters from Homestar Runner, and yes, even penis creatures. (I only mention penis creatures because they were so prolific in the early ears, and you still find people making them on youtube from time to time.)  The spore creature creator is that dynamic.

The tribal stage isn't about creation, and is more of a real time strategy game, where you take the creature you made in the creature stage and built them into a thriving tribe.  You gather resources to build tribe members, and purchase weapons and instruments to either ally with or conquer the other tribes in your valley.  Or you can do a mix of both, and gain a different skill for the next stage.

The civilization stage, however, brings creation back full force.  Here you build a city hall, the head of your government, a house, a factory, an entertainment building, a land vehicle, a sea vehicle, and an air vehicle.  And with these vehicles that you use to take on the focus of this stage; conquer the world through religious, economic or military means, although only the economic style is really any different.

You see, the religious and military are basically the same; build your forces and then go attack a city.  The only real thing that is different is the animation for these two; the military destroys buildings, while the religious creates a big holographic member of your species who preaches to the city until it converts.  However, the economic has you building trade routes and buying cities.  This one depends on making the other nations happy so you can actually create the trade route.  You gain your initial capital by capturing spice geysers and making happy, profitable cities.  (This aspect goes across all play styles, btw.  It is just more prevalent in the economic stage.)

Once you finish the civilization, you enter, what I feel, is the most boring stage; the space stage.  You do your final act of creation and build your space ship and then head off into the stars to explore, build trade routes, colonize other worlds and make your way into the galactic core.  This is more exploration based, and, while it's cool to interact with alien empires and terraform planets to build colonies for your empire, I find the mandate to explore DULL.

Which is why I picked up the galactic adventures expansion.  Released in 2009, this once again gives you control of your creature and has you playing adventures created by players and Maxis where you beam down to a planet and going through a story that, depending on depending on the effort put into it, is fun.  However, you've still got to hunt down other empires to be able to pick up these adventures, and unless you download adventures from other players, you won't have a lot of them.  But galactic adventures gives me something to look forward to when I'm flying around the galaxy hunting for other empires and ways to make money.

The final goal of this game is to get to the galactic core and find the staff of life, which allows you to instantly terraform a planet to your liking.  You are also told that you can find Earth in one of the spiral arms at this point as well, so look forward to it.

Now, would I advise you to get this? Absolutely, if you're into the creation process.  Once you've unlocked all aspects of the game, you can spend DAYS creating cells, creatures, buildings, vehicles starships for the stages.  And if you've downloaded the galactic adventures expansion, you can build adventures too!

I picked this up on steam for 40 dollars American; 20 for the main game, and 20 for the galactic adventures.  The 20 dollars that the main game is was worth the price, but I think that the galactic adventures should not have cost as much as the main game.  It was worth it to me because of how boring I find the space stage boring, but it was still overpriced.  However, if you enjoy exploration games, then you may not want galactic adventures.  I would say pick up the core game for 20 dollars, and then decide once you've gotten to the space stage whether you want galactic adventures.  However, if you aren't into games where the main focus is creation, you should pass on this game.

Until next time, stay beautiful freaks!