Monday, March 26, 2012

Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 has been out for awhile now, but I wanted to wait before writing a review until I had finished the game.  I took my sweet time absorbing everything the finale of this great space opera had to offer.  Here is the information I can offer you, spoiler free.

Starting with the basics, this game looks great.  There wasn't any huge advancement in the graphics that made my brain explode with amazement, but it still looks really crisp, nicely saturated colors, and there was no noticeable motion blur.  The music was generally appropriate although sometimes pushed the limit of being overly dramatic.  I appreciate some high octane music when I'm in combat to keep my pulse up, but some of the fight scenes were really long and listening the background tunes began to get annoying, resulting in me going into the menus to turn it down.

The game play definitely had a few quirks that took getting used to.  There were times when ducking into cover took a couple tries, but it was also problematic to pop up and take a shot on enemy and duck back down.  Occasionally, smaller things like getting the angle correct to open doors, pick up items, or highlight objects could be picky and frustrating.  Throughout the game, I became used to slightly awkward angles and habits of the controls and it was way more manageable by the end of the game.  I thought that this could be due to my adversity towards third person perspective, but after talking to friends and hunting around forums I found that I wasn't alone.


I was very disappointed to see the return of the stupid power wheel with no improvements, it's still just as annoying as it has been in the previous games.  Comparing weapons was better than it was in ME2, but I still miss the actual numerical statistics that were present in the first title.  I did like the weapon customization much better and the armor customizing was also much improved.

All of those things aside, the story is what we really care about and I thought it was great.  The fate and whereabouts of all major characters including squad mates from the previous titles were addressed.  The side missions were appropriate and all really contributed to the sense of impending galactic war.  There were no little missions where I was sent to find a battery or locate someones totally insignificant brother.  Everything really seemed important and added to the sense of urgency and severity of the situation.  From rounding up other races to help in the fight, to solving generations-long conflict between species, Commander Shepard has a lot to do.

Without giving away any spoilers, I really liked the ending of the game; it was almost everything I wanted it to be.  There were sweat inducing battles, jaw dropping cinematics, resolution/closure with characters, and an amazing grand finale to this giant story.  I know there has been negative feelings in the online community in that some players didn't like how the game ended, and Bioware has responded by saying that they will address the story's ending and possibly provide a new one.  There are no details as to when or how, but there is a significant chance that story altering DLC is in the works.  Whether I agree that I did or didn't like the ending, I love the fact that Bioware listens to their fans and is willing to make adjustments to continually earn their love.

If you haven't played the first two games, don't get this one.  You will be way behind in the story and that is the most powerful part.  However, you should definitely back track and play the first two.  They are both still relevant and totally playable.  If you have already conquered one and two, three is an obvious purchase that lives up to the expectations.  I liked the game play, loved the story, and tip my hat to Bioware on a job well done.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mass Effect 3's Pleasant Multiplayer Surprise

When buying a new game, Lindsey and I usually rush to put up a review.  When I first purchased Mass Effect 3, I knew I was going to take my time completing it.  Like most fans of the series, I have been excited to see how the trilogy will end but also reluctant to finish my time with Commander Shepard.  Little did I know just how tight of a grip the multiplayer would have on my soul and my free time.

The most notable addition to Mass Effect 3 is just the presence of multiplayer.  In a franchise that used to be exclusively single player RPG, bringing on a third person, horde-style online experience seemed like a cheap way to have people keep their games instead of trading them in.  While that may have been the case, the team at Bioware has found a way to thoroughly integrate the actions of that online experience into the single player game.

There are no spoilers here when I tell you that the events in Mass Effect 3 center around a galactic war.  It is the player's job as Commander Shepard to acquire as many war assets as possible in addition to achieving 100% galactic readiness.  Collecting the war assets takes place exclusively in the single player campaign, but increasing your readiness without going online can be really difficult.  Being successful in the online component can make a huge difference in the end result of the story.  The amount of online play and the resulting level of preparedness means a horrible story ending or a wonderful one.

Another aspect that really freaked me out was the achievements.  I absolutely hate online achievos.  There is nothing more infuriating than forcing me to be socially interactive when I just want to sit alone in my bedroom on a Thursday night.  Luckily, the dev team predicted that there were enough people like me out there and every achievement that can be unlocked in multiplayer, can also be unlocked in single player.

I'm still somewhat on the fence about the multiplayer aspect of this game.  Even though I'm unspeakably bad at third person shooting, I still find myself having a pretty good time when I'm playing with a relaxed enough crowd.  And of all the games that suddenly incorporated this type of game play, I'm glad Mass Effect 3 found a way to be less obnoxious way to do it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

We have winners! Thank you to everyone who commented and shared our celebratory post.. And an extra congratulations to our winners: 

Of the OnLive console: Dirtyhands
And our three runner-up winners who will be getting goody bags full of gamer love: Valerie, Jesse & Nicholas
Congratulations to our winners! Stay tuned for more giveaways in the future. 

Winners: Please email us at with your name and address so we can send you the good stuff.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Want to Celebrate with FREE STUFF !!!

For anyone who doesn't know, my partner in crime Linz has finally given birth.  I am taking this opportunity to welcome her new son Ezekiel to the world and more importantly to Achievos!! 

This little guy has been wreaking havoc on her electronics for months now.  From within her belly, he has been killing car batteries, phone batteries, televisions, laptops, and more.  We suspect that Linz has given birth to the first of the X-Men.  Baby Ezekiel, aka Magneto, is here and his power is peaking with today's monster solar flare.  I assume the only way to appease our infant overlord is by giving away free stuff.

We are clearing out the gift closet and there are some serious goodies that need distributing.  We have t-shirts, posters, key chains, stickers, and other random paraphernalia we've picked up along the way.  We even have a brand new OnLive console that we are Giving Away For Free!  Unfortunately, the OnLive console is only compatible in the US, but anyone, anywhere in the world could walk away with plenty of other goodies.

The only way to get free stuff is by commenting.  Comment here on the blog and tell us who your favorite video game character is and why.  We will also accept you defending who your favorite X-Men character is, but you better have a pretty good argument if you chose anyone other than Wolverine because he is obviously the best.  You can also comment on the Achievos Facebook post.  You have until next Friday (March 16th) at noon to make your move.  Come on, we want to give you free things !!!!

And of course, Congratulations Linz !!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Owning and outfitting an iDevice can be expensive.  Luckily, the creative team at TapJoy have offered up their latest title for free.  Build and upgrade towers to destroy roving enemies as they storm out of the gates of hell and attempt to infiltrate heaven.  This is TapDefense.

I downloaded this classic tower defense for my iPhone.  TapDefense does nothing to reinvent the genre, but they have executed the basics of the game type to make it very satisfying.  There are some towers that cause an earthquake when you shake the phone, but its really just easier to use the standard towers.  Players can choose different maps, game modes, and level packs. 

The touch controls are easy to understand and responsive.  The menus are simple to access and the ability to pause game play in order to research and build helps to remove the sense of panic when starting to lose control.  I found that I had to keep constantly touching the screen.  While watching a trail of enemies attack, the screen would begin to dim and then go to sleep.  Constantly unlocking the phone and restarting the level gets annoying really fast.

I recommend this game if for no other reason than the fact that its completely free.  Its not the best tower defense game I've ever come across, but it works well and is a great way to pass the time.