Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: Bioware

Disappointed but not surprised

I’ve never made a secret of the fact I game to relax. I started out as a console gamer but have moved more and more to the laptop for my gaming needs. Like so many others, I’m a big fan of the Mass Effect trilogy. Also like so many fans, I’ve watched with a jaundiced eye as EA took over Origin and “little things” like customer support seemed to falter.

When Bioware and EA announced, finally, the latest installment in the Mass Effect universe, I was hopeful. The ending of ME3 left me a bit skeptical but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I even pre-ordered the game and played the first 10 hours under Origin Access, there were glitches but, overall, the game was satisfactory, especially since I assumed there would be updates before release.

Let’s face it, there is no excuse for the poor facial animations or the return to character animations that often looked like they had been done 10 years ago. Bioware did listen to the critiques and has tried to correct at least some of it. That continued with the latest patch yesterday. Of course, there is still that ghostly white shine in character’s mouths — although it does seem a bit less than before. But it is too little too late and, apparently, even Bioware admits it.

More on that in a minute.

While Andromeda suffers from some “WTF were they thinking” problems, not only with the facial animations but with dialog that often has you wanting to slam your fist through the screen — and let’s not discuss some of the bad delivery of those lines — the combat is fun and engaging. If you can zone out on the rest of it, there’s a game there worth playing.

Now, back to Bioware.

When it was announced that Bioware’s Montreal studio would be developing Andromeda, a number of us wondered if the powers-that-be had lost their minds. The Montreal studio had not developed a game on its own (at least not that I can remember). Sure, it had worked to develop DLC for ME3 but that’s a far cry from developing a full game, especially one of the studio’s cornerstone games.

Then there were the concerns voiced after Dragon Age: Inquisitions came out. Again, a decent game but not really up to what we’d come to expect from Bioware. There have been other missteps as well, enough to wonder what is going on in the company.

Now, on the heels of the release of the latest patch for Andromeda comes word that Bioware has put any further games in the Mass Effect franchise on hold. There’s no official cancellation but there are no plans to begin working on the next game in the series. Worse, at least for those of us who have purchased Andromeda, there is no sign that Bioware is working on story driven DLC for the game.

At least, if it happens, it is doubtful it will come from the Montreal studio as most of the gave devs there who had worked on Andromeda have been shuffled off to other projects.

And that, my friends, makes me wonder again wtf is going on. If you have a game that is so widely anticipated as Andromeda and then is released with as many problems, why in the hell are you rewarding the team responsible and by keeping them on and moving them to other key projects is rewarding them.

Does this spell the end of Mass Effect in any of its iterations? I don’t know. It sure doesn’t look good right now. Worse, Bioware and EA have breached their trust with their customers with this game. There is a level of expectation they have built with us through the previous Mass Effect games and that has not been met. Even with Inquisition, again not nearly as good as the previous games in that series, we got story driven DLC. The studio didn’t abandon the game or its fans — and that’s what it looks like they are doing now.

Considering the fact I’ve been trying to work with Origin tech support all week and finding them just about as helpful as the tree in my backyard, to say I’m leery of buying anything from them in the future is putting it mildly. And that’s a shame since EA and Bioware have been home for several of my favorite gamin franchises.

Here’s hoping Bioware pulls its head out of its ass before it screws up another franchise — in other words, Star Wars Battlefront II fans, beware. Some of those devs from Andromeda are being moved to your game.

Some weekend thoughts

Yay! It’s the weekend. That means time to do more remodeling and writing and editing and . . . wait, that sounds like what the week has been like. I thought weekends were for putting your feet up and relaxing. Hmmm. Maybe I’m doing this weekend thing wrong.

Or not. You see, I enjoy the remodeling stuff and the writing. The editing, not so much. At least not when I’m editing my own work. But that’s the life of a writer. You do what you have to do. The way I make it work is breaking the tedium of editing up with things I like to do — like painting and ripping out cabinets, etc.

Still, that doesn’t mean I won’t have some real fun this weekend. Hopefully, you guys are as well.

One of the things I do is play video games. Anyone who’s followed this blog for long knows I’m a fan of the Mass Effect series. Bioware pushed the genre forward wit the original trilogy. Yes, they screwed the pooch with the original ending of the ME3 and the extended ending didn’t do much to correct the problem. But it was still one of the best game series I’ve ever played.

So, when Bioware announce Mass Effect: Andromeda, I greeted the announcement with both pleasure and trepidation. I was pleased because I loved the original trilogy so much. I worried because of how they mucked up the ending. When you spend three games making choices and being told those choices will have an impact on the ending of the game only to find out they don’t, not really, well, you lose some trust in the game designers.

The initial reviews of the game did nothing to reassure me, even though I’d played the first 10 hours pre-release as part of the Origin Access program. Yes, the facial animations were wonky. Yes, some of the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. But there were strong points that countered those negatives. As long as you weren’t looking at the faces, or at least not focusing on them, the game looked gorgeous. The battle system is a lot of fun. I like being able to switch between profiles and change combat styles in the middle of battle. I don’t like being limited to only 3 powers but you get around that with your favorite profile builds.

But, having now played through the game and spending a few hours back with ME2 and ME3, I know what I’ve been missing with Andromeda. I miss the connection with the main character and the sense of urgency you have in the original trilogy. In it, you know you are fighting for the survival of not only Earth but the entire Sol System. The Reapers want you dead and yours dead. It is a fight for the survival of your species and that urgency isn’t ever forgotten.

Yes, Andromeda is a fight for survival as well but that sense of urgency isn’t there, not yet at any rate. It might show up in the next game. I hope so.

Ryder, whether you play as male or female, isn’t the kick-ass hero that Commander Shepherd was. That’s played up and, in a way, I like seeing Ryder grow from someone who was basically supposed to fill a support role to being the Pathfinder. But there are so many questions left unanswered, questions I hope the game devs answer in the upcoming DLC and sequel. If not, Bioware has well and truly screwed their fans.

All that said, Andromeda is a fun game, especially if you can set aside your experience with the original trilogy and just play the game for what it is.

Now, in case you would rather read this weekend than game, here are a couple of books that have come with recommendations from friends. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet but I trust those who recommended them.

The first is Division One: A Small Medium at Large, by Stephanie Osborn.

What if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was right all along, and Harry Houdini really DID do his illusions, not through sleight of hand, but via noncorporeal means? More, what if he could do this because…he wasn’t human?

Ari Ho’d’ni, Glu’g’ik son of the Special Steward of the Royal House of Va’du’sha’ā, better known to modern humans as an alien Gray from the ninth planet of Zeta Reticuli A, fled his homeworld with the rest of his family during a time of impending global civil war. With them, they brought a unique device which, in its absence, ultimately caused the failure of the uprisings and the collapse of the imperial regime. Consequently Va’du’sha’ā has been at peace for more than a century. What is the F’al, and why has a rebel faction sent a special agent to Earth to retrieve it?

It falls to the premier team in the Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Administration, Division One — the Alpha One team, known to their friends as Agents Echo and Omega — to find out…or die trying.

Next up is Tanager’s Fledglings by Cedar Sanderson.

When the starship’s captain died midway through a run with a cargo of exotic animals, the owner gave first mate Jem one chance, and one choice. The chance: if he successfully runs the trade route solo, he’ll become the new captain. If he fails, he’ll lose the only home he’s ever known.

And the choice? He’s now raising an old earth animal called a basset hound. Between station officials, housebreaking, pirates, and drool, Jem’s got his hands full!

Finally, because what sort of author would I be without promoting one of my own titles, we have Witchfire Burning.

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

 

More on ME: Andromeda and future projects

Yesterday, I blogged about my experience and thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda – PC after the first couple of hours of game play. There are a couple of things I want to add to that post, especially since I have seen a number of reviews wondering what the hell Bioware thought when they made the game. Mind you, these reviews are from sites that I usually find myself, if not completely disagreeing with then at least thinking they have taken it a bit too far. Those reviewers and professional players (youtube channels) I respect and who tend to be my go-to when I’m not sure about a game, all seem to agree with my take on the game so far.

If you look at some of the reviews, you’ll see folks bitching about the animation of the faces of a number of the characters. Yes, there is some issue. But to say the animation has taken a step back not only at least one generation but years of game development is to overstate the case. My take is that there are two issues. The first is that some, if not all, of the concerns will be taken care of in a first day/week patch. And let’s face it, we all know there will be such a patch. Very few major games are released now without such a patch happening.

Second, and this dawned on me yesterday as I played for a few minutes, some of the animation — especially when we get a closeup of a character’s face — is like what we had when TV shows were suddenly broadcast in HD. We see every flaw in the complexion, etc. There is one cutscene in particular where we see a closeup of Sarah Ryder and it is all facial pores, imperfections and — well — normal skin. Just not what you’re used to seeing in a video game

Another complaint I’ve seen — and this predates the early access release on Origin — is that Bioware seems to have tried to make Sarah Ryder ugly. Again, who the fuck cares? I’m not particularly fond of everything about the way the default Ryder looks but you know you? She looks normal. Not every video game character, and especially not every female character, has to be a “beauty”. Don’t like the preset character, use the customization options. And get the fuck over yourselves.

Is the game perfect? No. But no game is. Some are better than others. But for most of those who are complaining the loudest, they either haven’t played the game yet or they are like me. They’ve played some or all of the 10 hour early access and, to be honest, that doesn’t get you very far into the game and, if they really thought about it, there will be patches to deal with some of the issues they have brought up. I’m willing to wait and see what happens before passing final judgment.

So far, this Mass Effect feels more like the original Mass Effect in a lot of ways. There are things I like and some that I don’t. I look forward to truly being able to explore the game when it is released and there isn’t a time limit imposed on how long I can play.

In other news, I want to once again thank everyone’s support of Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). I especially want to thank those of you who have left reviews. You guys are great. Please keep the reviews coming. They really help. Now I’m off to work on Nocturnal Rebellion and plot the next Eerie Side of the Tracks title. Well, actually titles. I figured out yesterday the order for the next three titles in the series (one short story as well as the follow-up to Skeletons in the Closet (Eerie Side of the Tracks) and then the next novel which will be Ciara’s story). The next book, however, after Rebellion will be Victory from Ashes (Honor and Duty series) and that one is already plotted and a very rough draft mostly written. So, busy writer am I, especially since I have a couple of editing projects I’m working on as well. That means I need to get off of the internet and get back to work.

First Impressions

Yesterday, I joined a number of gamers taking advantage of Origin Access to play 10 hours of Mass Effect Andromeda – PC before the game’s official release. No, I didn’t play all 10 hours. For one, I couldn’t download the preview until 1630 hrs. Then I had to take care of a couple of things, be somewhat social with family and, as I said, I had a migraine. So, I played approximately two hours and that is enough to confirm that I am looking forward to playing some more.

I am playing the game on PC. Specifically on a ROG laptop. My video card won’t let me run the game at max specs but, damn, I don’t need to. The game is beautiful and I saw no stuttered or any other video issues.

To save a few minutes, I accepted the default build for Sarah Ryder. When I start a new game and am not on a countdown clock, I will play with the character creation possibilities. I did choose Sarah for two reasons. One, I played mainly as FemShep in the original ME trilogy. For another, the clips I’ve seen of the game leave me thinking Scott Ryder is pretty much a whiner. There is something about his voice I don’t like. So, for this limited play, I went with the character I felt would annoy me the less.

I’ll admit, the opening sequence is longer than I expected. It’s good, don’t get me wrong. But when you are watching the clock counting down, every minute of actual game play counts. Once you get through the opening sequence, you learn a little about your character and the mission. I’m going to try to go through the rest without any spoilers. So, no real discussion of plot until the game is out and I’ve managed to play more of it.

The controls are familiar. There are two main changes from the previous games. The first is your scanner. It allows you to scan tech, flora and fauna and the information you gain as a result can have an impact on the game later on. The second change is you have a jetpack. That’s pretty cool and it gives combat a whole new dimension.

There are some easter eggs you come on pretty early into the game as well. When you get to the Nexus, you can find a model of the Normandy SR2. There are also recordings from Liara. No, she isn’t a character in this game — at least not so far and not from what I understand based on interviews I’ve read with Bioware designers and execs.

There are other changes as well and I am reserving judgment on them until I’ve played some more. You aren’t tied to a class like you were in the other games. In other words, you aren’t a Sentinel or Soldier or Engineer, etc. You also can use any weapon, or so I understand. That means the decisions you can add powers/abilities to meet the sort of combat you want. The Paragon/Renegade system is also gone. That means you choose your conversation options more on how you think your character would react to the situation instead of almost automatically choosing the answer that best fits the “nature” you chose for your character.

What is going to be interesting as I progress through the game is seeing how the game developers address the events in the original trilogy. After all, more than 600 years have passed since the end of the trilogy. There is no canon ending, or so I understand. (And I still have issues with the ending of ME3). Still, there are issues that could be mentioned/addressed no matter what your particular ending was.

All in all, I am enjoying the game and am considering doing what I rarely do — pre-ordering the game. More than that, I am considering buying the deluxe edition of it. Not because I care about the multiplayer packs or extra outfits but because I like the score for the game so far and would wind up paying the price difference to buy the soundtrack. No decision yet but that’s the way I’m leaning.

Fair warning, if you are a multiplayer fan, ME:A does have multiplayer and it is getting pretty good reviews so far. However, there are micro-transactions included in it. That’s something I don’t like.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the game so far and will keep playing until my 10 hours are done. The release date is March 20th in the US.

In the meantime, if you need something to read,  Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) is now available for download. Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered it. Thanks to those of you who are buying it now. I have one more favor to ask. Please leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long. Reviews are one way you can do “word of mouth” to help spread the news about the book.

 

Bioware brings Dragon Age Inquisition to an end

I have a confession to make. It’s not a new one. Anyone who has followed me here or on Mad Genius Club knows my secret. I’m a gamer. It started innocently enough. When my son was young and all his friends had Playstations and Xboxes, he wanted one too. I relented, finally, when prices came down to something resembling reasonable. The only caveat I put on his gaming was that I had to play the game first. It was the same rule I had for movies. He was young enough that I wanted to know what he was going to see or play so I could talk with him about it if he had questions or comments.

Checking out games to make sure they were appropriate for him soon turned into a bonding exercise between the two of us. We gamed together. As he got older, we discussed games, and gaming systems. Which game was better on what system. Then we got into gaming on our PCs and that added a whole new level of discussion. Was it better to game on a system or on the PC? What needed to be done to upgrade the PC to play the latest generation of games? Yes, we became a gaming and techie household.

Well, my son is an adult now and we are both still gaming and talking about what games we play, what platform we play them on and what games are coming out. I don’t remember if I turned my son onto Dragon Age Inquisition (Deluxe Edition) – PC when it came out or if he turned me onto it. Not that it matters. What does is that Bioware redeemed itself in my eyes after the debacle that was the ending of Mass Effect 3 Digital Deluxe Version [Download]. (No, I don’t think the ending of ME3 was as bad as some of the fans do, but I will admit it could have been handled better. After all, it basically did away with the decisions we had made through three games. That didn’t sit well with many of the fans.)

For those of you unfamiliar with Bioware games, one of the strength of those games has always been the story. From Jade Empire to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to the Mass Effect Trilogy to the three Dragon Age games, story and characters have kept gamers returning and, more importantly, demanding more. All you have to do is look at the discussions that have gone on since the ME3 was released and speculation about what the next Mass Effect game might be.  Yes, I am one of those anxiously awaiting Mass Effect: Andromeda and hoping that Bioware continues building on the legacy of Mass Effect and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Anyway, back to DA:I.

If you aren’t familiar with DA:I, this is how Bioware describes it:

A cataclysmic event plunges the land of Thedas into turmoil. Dragons darken the sky, casting a shadow over lands on the brink of chaos. Mages break into all-out war against the oppressive templars. Nations rise against one another. It falls to you and your allies to restore order as you lead the Inquisition and hunt down the agents of chaos.

Explore, lead, and battle: Tough choices define your experience, and even one decision can change the course of what’s to come.

It’s fun. The combat can be challenging and it has, in my opinion, a high replay value because of the different classes you can play as as well as the different choices you can make during the game.

Even without the DLC packs, DA:I is a game that can keep you busy for tens, if not hundreds, of hours in a single playthrough. You can simply do the main mission quests or you can do all the side quests. Then there are all the “collectibles” you can go after. Yes, some of it does come down to simply grinding as you try to find the right group of bad guys to beat so you get the valuable you need to finish this side quest or that but, unlike so many games, grinding isn’t required to progress through the game.

There are three single player DLC missions for the game. The first,Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon [Online Game Code], was an interesting mission, taking players to new areas and giving them some challenges battles. The mini-boss near the end of the DLC was, to me, more difficult to defeat than the final boss. As with the main game, there are storyline missions, side missions and grinding if you want. Overall, I enjoyed Jaws of Hakkon and found it challenging enough to keep me interested.

The second DLC, Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon [Online Game Code], was less satisfying to me. Yes, it introduced a couple of new characters, non-playable but companions during the quest. Yes, we got to return to the Deep Roads, one of the more interesting areas we’ve visited in the Dragon Age universe. But the plot was only meh, in my opinion, and it felt too linear and felt like one big grinding exercise. No, that’s not quite right. It felt rushed. Yes, when I finally go back to do another playthrough of DA:I, I will play this DLC, not for the plot but for the items you can grab along the way.

The final DLC, Dragon Age: Inquisition – Trespasser, was released yesterday. It isn’t as long as the previous DLCs and that could be seen as a detriment since it costs the same as the others. However, I didn’t care. This DLC did exactly what Bioware promised. It brought DA:I to a close and it set the stage for the next Dragon Age game (please let there be another one).

trespasser

Trespasser takes place two years after the end of the events of DA:I. It is your chance to find out what happened after the breach was sealed and peace came to Thedas (Of course, peace is never long-lived in that world). The basic starting point is that the Inquisition, which had been welcomed for its help in closing the breach and driving off the bad guys, is now seen as a danger. It is too big, too independent and too well armed. So a conclave has been called to determine what is to become of the Inquisition now.

Once again, you play as the Inquisitor. You have the chance to interact once again with your companions from the main game. But trouble is afoot. That becomes clear very quickly. So, while you leave your advisors to deal with the icky political aspect of what is happening, you and your companions go haring off to some new and some familiar locations in an attempt to track down not only who is behind the trouble but learn why they are doing it.

No, I’m not going to give spoilers here. Just know that this DLC, which I played through in about 4 hours, answers a lot of questions left from the main game and other DLCs. Heck, it even answers a few questions from the first two games. While it does give closure to the game — and you get to choose what will happen to the Inquisition and see the near future consequences of that decision — it also leaves questions open, questions that could be the seeds of the next Dragon Age game. It left me wanting to play the next game when it comes out because there is no doubt Thedas will soon be facing its greatest threat yet.

As I write this, part of me is sad to see the game come to an end. While we might not have seen the backstory of our Inquisitor like we did with Hawke in Dragon Age 2, the Inquistor and companions in DA:I are characters I want to see more of. Perhaps they will make appearances in the next game. But, that is not guaranteed. One character that has been with us since the first Dragon Age game is talking about retirement. Another, one we’ve known since the second game, has been — much to my surprise — raised to a position of political power. A third, who we were also introduced to in the second game, may or may not be the new Divine, depending on decisions you made during the main DA:I game.

Yet, sad that I am to have DA:I over, I have to applaud Bioware for how the did it. The decisions I made during the main game and other DLCs mattered and had an impact on the decisions and outcome of this final DLC. Because of that, and because of the quality of the not only the plot and lore in this last DLC but also the graphics, I give Dragon Age: Inquisition – Trespasser a thumbs up. It is a must for every fan of the game.

One last thing, watch through the credits for what very well may be a hint about where the next Dragon Age game will take place.

I can hardly wait

For years, Bioware has been one of my favorite game developers when it comes to RPGs. There are a number of reasons why but it all really comes down to one main thing — the story. The first Bioware game I remember playing is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. That was quickly followed by Jade Empire. Later came the Mass Effect trilogy and the three Dragon Age games. I have played these games across platforms and, for a few, have them for both console and PC.

I’m not one of those who demands that the main playable character be female just because I am. Nor do I worry about what their race or sexual orientation might be. What I worry about are gameplay mechanics and story. Both are integral for my enjoyment of a game but, in an RPG, story takes on even more importance than it does in any other sort of video game.

It’s been a year or more since I’ve put any real game time into playing the Mass Effect games. Instead, I’d been immersed in games like the three Borderlands games, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Tomb Raider and more. I’d revisited games like the Ratchet and Clank games on PS3 (and PS2). Let’s not forget Jax and Daxter as well. All are fun and all for different reasons.

E3 2015 has been going on this week. For those not familiar with it, E3 is sort of like Disneyland for gamers. It is when the major studios and developers announce their upcoming games. Sometimes we get to see in-game play. Other times, we get in-game cinematics. Among the most dramatic announcements this year was the upcoming Fallout 4 and the upcoming release of Final Fantasy VII for Xbox One. For me, one of the highlights was seeing the video from Mass Effect: Andromeda, the long awaited next game in the Mass Effect galaxy.

Bioware hasn’t said much about ME: Andromeda yet. It has said this:

[T]his game is very much a new adventure, taking place far away from and long after the events of the original trilogy. You will play a human, male or female, though that’s actually not the character you saw in the trailer (more on that later). You’ll be exploring an all-new galaxy, Andromeda, and piloting the new and improved Mako you saw. And through it all, you will have a new team of adventurers to work with, learn from, fight alongside of, and fall in love with.

That last sentence is the essence of much of the philosophy surrounding Bioware games. They want a game the gamer can become fully immersed in. There is more to the game than running escort missions or hunter-gather missions. You can develop relationships with the non-playable characters. You can romance them, if you want. If Bioware follows past history, and I know of no reason why it won’t, those romances can be hetero or gay. It doesn’t matter. You choose the path you take, and that includes celibacy.

For now, ME: Andromeda is scheduled to drop during the holiday season of 2016. That is a long time away. Next year’s E3 will give us more, hopefully some gameplay footage as well as an actual release date. Until then, I will play the original Mass Effect trilogy again, maybe more than once since it has been awhile since I last played it. For now, here is the trailer for the upcoming game.

 

 

Revisiting an Old Friend

I love video games. I’ve never made a secret of that. They are what I do in the evening when watching TV with my mother. (Frankly, it is the only way to keep my sanity when she wants to watch her reality TV.) I sit on the sofa with my laptop and am able to do something I enjoy while keeping her company. That’s very important now that she is getting older. Anyway, I digress.

Because of various reasons, I wound up doing a clean install of my gaming laptop a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I backed up my saved game files. But, as I reinstalled some of my favorite games, it gave me the chance to consider whether I wanted to throw those save files onto the HD or start anew. With a couple of games, like Dragon Age: Inquisition where I am still working for 100% completion, and Borderlands 2, I opted not to do so. I still have the files backed up but, if I wanted to play the games again, why not start off clean?

And that brings me around to the reason for this post. Earlier this week, I started replaying the Mass Effect games, starting with the original. Yes, I’ve already played them all several times. Yes, I know the so-called problems with the ending of ME3. I don’t care. Bioware did something very right with this series, something that lets me return to it from time to time and still enjoy playing it.

It cared enough to give us a story we can lose ourselves in. That is why so many people screamed and yelled and pitched a fit over the way ME3 ended. We had lived and breathed as Commander Shepherd, metaphorically speaking, for so long, we couldn’t accept the way the trilogy ended. Even when Bioware issued the “fix”, it wasn’t enough. It was better but, damn it, we wanted Shepherd to live and be reunited with her crew and her love.

Yes, her. That is something else Bioware did right, as it often does. It allowed you to spec out Shepherd to be male or female, gay or straight, good or bad. It let you become invested in a character you would spend hours and hours with over the course of the three games and the various DLCs. I played the games as male and as female. I’ve played as gay, straight and who-gives-a-damn. I’ve played it as good and bad.

So I’ve returned to the Mass Effect universe. This time, I’m playing as a female Shepherd. It’s still too early into ME to decide if I’m going to be good or bad, much less to decide who I’m going to romance — if I romance anyone. And you know what, it doesn’t matter. I’m enjoying myself and that’s all that matters.

I’ll admit, sitting down with ME1 is a little frustrating. The graphics aren’t as sharp as newer games and the gameplay is a bit dodgy at times. But it doesn’t really impact my enjoyment of the game. That’s especially true because I hadn’t played the original Mass Effect in something close to three years. That means I don’t remember where everything is and there are times things happen that surprise me. So my decisions won’t be the same as the last time I played it.

I’ll admit something else as well. ME1 is probably my least favorite of the series. But that’s okay, I still enjoyed it. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be replaying it now. In my opinion, the game suffers from the same issues many first entries in a series — book or film or game — often do. It has to build the history and foundation for the series. Bioware does a pretty good job with that part of it. With newer game engines for ME2 and ME3, the gameplay became more fun.

Of the games, ME2 is my favorite. More on that when I start replaying it. Until then, there are Reapers to defeat and plots to uncover. Who knows, there might even be a romance or two to enjoy along the way.

wallpaper-021-femshep-p

 

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