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Monday, October 15, 2012

Mass Effect 4 - A Lost Cause?

A few weeks ago, we Mass Effect fans were presented with two sets of news. One of them being that the Take Back Omega DLC rumors were indeed true and that Bioware has decided to release an 8 hour long DLC that depicts the reclaiming of Omega, a city housed in an asteroid that was largely featured in Mass Effect 2, from Cerberus hands. This was only the first bit of news we had received. The other was that there were indeed plans for a Mass Effect 4. I was not entirely surprised to read this, since the franchise was so successful and had generated so much support from its fans. The more I thought about it though, the crazier the idea sounded. Here are the reasons why:
  The Reasons Why
                There are some obvious reasons as to why the creation of a Mass Effect 4 would be logistically challenging.  For one, with the release of Dragon Age 3 near about the same time as the release of the next generation of consoles, how would there possibly be time for Mass Effect 4 to hit the market before the next generation? It wouldn’t. The real problem here is what does that mean for our flag saves, and for all of the decisions we had made in Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3? For PC gamers, this is not an issue, but for us console players, we could be in for many, if not all of our choices being made standard for all players. This is most likely wild speculation, seeing as I have no idea what level of technology the next gen consoles posses. Perhaps there will be a cloud save system that allows us to access our saves from our 360 or PS3. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.
                Another issue that stands out even more than the issue of the choices that we made in previous Mass Effect games appearing in ME4. It’s the actual complexity of the choices themselves. Is it even possible to account for all of the variables that Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 created? The final choices made in Mass Effect 3 could drastically alter the events of Mass Effect 4, almost to the point of one person who chose Option A playing a different game than the person who chose Option B back in Mass Effect 3. They could make certain endings canon in order to solve this, but this is also a huge blow to the concept of Mass Effect, where our choices truly matter.
The Obvious Decision
                With all of these obstacles in the way of making Mass Effect 4, what could Bioware possibly do to make their game worth making? Here’s a thought: Make it a prequel. I feel that there is a large chance that Mass Effect 4 will end up being set in a time before the events of Mass Effect 1. While this does seem like the easiest and most obvious choice to take the series, I hate it. I generally hate most prequels. They never hold up to the quality of the series they are in. Why? It’s because nobody cares. Who cares what happened in the past with this person, we all know what’s going to happen to him. Also, how can you make giant galaxy changing decisions if story has already progressed beyond them? You can’t.
                The bottom line is that making Mass Effect 4 will be incredibly difficult, and while I feel that Bioware is up to the task, I also feel that they might get lazy and make a decision that will ruin the future of the series forever. Who here remembers Fable 3?

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Infamous World of Warcraft


The Power of Notoriety

To this day, no game of its kind has ever been as successful as the infamous World of Warcraft. The game has generated so much attention over the years that it has been out, that you know of it, whether you are a gamer or not. World of Warcraft has defined the style of MMO gaming that we as gamers have grown accustomed too. It’s nearly impossible to find a game now days that does not have at least a couple components that were largely introduced by the biggest MMO ever in existence. Of course, many will argue that WoW is overrated, and it is a pointless waste of time, but is it really? I ask myself, how could the most industry changing game to ever hit the shelves be overrated? Perhaps it’s not.

A Story for the Ancients

                What many people forget about when playing in the World of Warcraft, is that it actually stemmed from a very popular RTS series called Warcraft. While many know this, and love the series, many people are in the dark about exactly how it influenced the course of WoW’s existence. Almost all of the characters you see in WoW were featured in the Warcraft series. The classics such as Thrall, Arthas, Illidan, even Deathwing has a reference. The fact of the matter is that every boss, raid, dungeon, zone, and character was pulled from the lore created by Warcraft.
                World of Warcraft is a continuation of such a long tale. It’s another chance to see Azeroth’s endless conflicts unfold into a true masterpiece of storytelling. In every expansion pack players get to see old and new characters enter the fray as many unfinished conflicts attempt to resolve themselves. If you take a look at other MMORPGs, WoW takes the cake when it comes to lore and plot progression.


PvE Takes a Turn for the Worst

                World of Warcraft used to be a game of challenge and teamwork. Defeating a powerful new raid boss was only completed by the best of the best, and the others had to wait in line. Was this a truly good PvE model? The WoW developers obviously asked that question, because what followed changed the audience of the game forever.
                Nowadays, World of Warcraft operates off of simple mechanics that make the game easier for everybody. New players find it easier to quest and level up, while old players find it easier to get new gear and such. What this has done is made a great casual experience for players, but is that WoW’s problem? What WoW’s biggest flaw is today is that it has stopped catering to the hardcore players that want to invest time to really accomplish something. With gear being easier to get, the line between hardcore and casual has blurred, and casual players can take on the same challenges that hardcore players try to strive for. While many players think this is good, many also find it poor in judgment. Blizzard tried to find the line between giving the new players and casual gamers a full experience, and alienating players that did not want to dedicate their whole efforts to trying to achieve something that was genuinely challenging.

World of Warcraft PvP…Nuff Said

                When talking in terms of MMORPGs, PvP is by far one of the most disputed gaming concepts ever to be created. I have yet to play a game where there was not some issue with the PvP, whether it is about balancing, lack of PvP content, or just plain boring. When I think of PvP and World of Warcraft, all I can think of saying is one thing, and that’s to stop whining. WoW PvPers have been incredibly spoiled to the point where if they are countered by another class then suddenly they are overpowered and need a nerf. Of all PvP I have ever played, WoW is the most balanced out of all of them. Yes, a class can get a bit overpowered here and there, but that’s inevitable when you have a whole set of different classes that each have completely unique abilities. If you truly want balanced PvP, then make a game where everybody is a guy with a sword and they all have the same abilities and do a set amount of damage. That sounds fun.
                Where the true fault lies with Blizzard is the state of non-arena PvP, such as battlegrounds. Back when the game was first released, battleground and world PvP was all that the game had, and it worked. Battlegrounds were much more intense, and the World PvP would spawn server events that changed the game. It was an honestly epic experience. But then as Arena was released, the game focused less on those and began to focus more on small scale PvP. While I love the WoW arena and find it immensely entertaining, the fact that the larger scale PvP that brought the game together was suddenly cast down makes me resent Blizzard. Not only was PvP hit, but PvE lost their 40 man raids, and was reduced to 25 and 10 man raids, for reasons not quite clear to me. Why would a game abandon a formula that worked so well? I guess we all have our reasons.


                With World of Warcraft and all of its flaws, I still believe that it is truly a game that can rightfully take its spot on the throne as the greatest MMO to hit the shelves.  There will always be people that see WoW as a bandwagon, and that any that play it are sell-outs, but that’s just because they refuse to try it themselves. I know a couple people who hate WoW, but have not even logged into the game once. It’s quite unfair to judge a game when you haven’t even tried it, wouldn’t you say?

-What do you think? Do you think WoW is too popular? Are you sick of all the people that complain about it? Post comments below and tell us what you think.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mass Effect Fan Fiction - Betrayal

Here is a fan fiction story based on the hit trilogy, Mass Effect. Comment your opinions, and follow us if you like it! No adult content

Betrayal; I knew it the second they came down on us. We pushed our luck too far, and it was only a matter of time. I should have expected it. What, were they just going to stop and leave the galaxy be? No, it was cruel, unfair, and completely unrelenting. It was Omega.
      They are two sides to the same coin. On one side, there is the damned bureaucracy. It never ended, and never began, and always at a complete stand still. I hated it. I wanted it gone, so that's what I did. I left it for the other side; the side of complete and total anarchy. There were no rules, no regulations, and nothing else that would stand in my way of doing what needed to be done. It was a paradise; until now.
      They managed to capture 5 of my men; very wounded. They all served me with the upmost loyalty. I was their leader and they chose to follow me against all odds to fight injustice. They were heroes in my book, and as I hid behind a pillar like a coward, they threatened to shoot each one until I came out. I knew what I had to do, and they knew it too. One by one, the mercs put a round in each of my companion’s heads, and the entire time they stood strong till the very end. They went out like true warriors.
      The mercs efforts were useless. I had already decided my next move, and I was utterly confident that nothing they could do would change that, but then they got to the salarian. I can still hear it going through my head. The crying whimpers of a man who does not belong. He was just a damned kid. He could work a computer inside and out. No hack was to much for him, but unfortunately this was no hack. I could just barely make out the words he said before they shot him.
     "Please no" he whimpered over and over again. I couldn't take it. The son of a bitch had to beg, after all the others made this so easy.
      "Ignore it" I whispered to myself. I tried to hold myself together as this man begged for mercy. I could have stopped it right then and there. I could have jumped out and tried to take them all out myself. I could have tried to save that whimpering kid begging for life, but I knew better, or at least I thought it did. I heard a loud shot, and thinking it was finally over I relaxed, but I was dead wrong. I heard a scream and even louder crying. They were going to torture him. Why did I not see this coming? I heard another shot, and then another, and another, until the pain in my heart was so great that I felt my body being pulled around the pillar. My hesitation saved me though, and a few seconds later I heard the last shot fire. It was finally over. He was dead.
       This was my chance. I could get away. I bolted for the next pillar a couple meters away. As I moved
to it I felt the bullets of frustrated blue suns flying past me.I reached the next pillar and my path was completely open.
       "Come out Archangel, it's all over! Your team is dead, and your next!" yelled a Blue Sun, and then I felt it; the urge for retribution. They all needed to pay, and soon. I looked across the room and saw an unmanned door leading to an abandoned Omega neighborhood, and as natural as breathing, I instantly turned the corner, scoped in, and shot the merc right between the eyes. The armor piercing rounds went right through his helmet, through his skull, and out the back. Human blood burst out from behind his helmet, and he fell to the floor all in a matter of seconds. I drew my side arm and shot to my left, hitting a merc in the shoulder, and I sprinted for the door.
      As I approached the door I turned around to cover my back. A Blue Sun came around the corner and I shot him directly in the chest with the sniper, then to my side three Blue Suns tried to flank me, I wheeled around and shot my pistol. One, two, three shots fired and they fell to the floor. Hearing more Blue Suns, I backed through the door; sniper at the ready.
     When the door closed behind me my muscles began to relax. Five men were dead. One for each of my squad mates they executed, but I wasn't done yet. It was far from it. I locked the door behind me.
      "That should buy us some time" I said out loud, as if I had someone left in my squad to talk to. I proceeded down the abandoned neighborhood, kicking old trash out of my way as I walked. This is what we were fighting for; a place where people could live and be freed from the oppression of the damned gangs, and not have to abandon their homes for no good reason except survival. Who knows what happened here? The Blue Suns could have marched through and killed everyone in their beds. Men, women, and children seemed to mean nothing to them. It was all about credits. They were greedy bastards, and I was going to kill them all. That is what my squad would have wanted. After a few minutes of walking I came to an intersection and stopped to listen. Down the hall I heard Blue Suns scurrying. I was running out of time. I quickly picked a direction at the intersection and jogged down it.
      Lantar Sidonis was his name; the man that betrayed my squad and left us to die. He was a good soldier, and relatively good company. I thought he was loyal till the very end, like the other men, but he proved me wrong. I felt a fire in my heart. It was wrong. There was an imbalance in the world. He needed to repent; to pay for his betrayal.
     I came up to a large bridge. I looked up and saw an apartment building overlooking the platform. It was perfect. I just needed to be flawless, and never miss. That part was easy. The hard part was not getting distracted. Not feeling the pain and anger of the tragedy that had befallen us.
     "Please no" I remembered him crying. Over and over it played through my head as I crossed the bridge, and even with the fight that was too come, all I could think about was one single fact.  It was the fact that would allow me to persevere. It was the fact that still gave me purpose; Revenge.