Monday, April 7, 2014

ME 3: Omega DLC

So while the laptop is still (!) away for repairs, I've started playing Mass Effect 3 again. Mass Effect was one of the games I played when I just started this blog, so that's two years ago already! However, I was very disappointed with the ending, and I never came about writing about it.

Now Tiger has installed the DLCs for Mass Effect 3, which also should include some changes to the disappointing ending. Time to replay the game and see what it's like.

We are playing this 'together' again, for as far that is possible with a single-player game. In our case, this means Tiger does the controls, and I tell him what to do.

The rest of this post will contain some spoilers about the Omega DLC, so if you don't want to know anything you better stop reading.

The first DLC we got to was the Omega one. Omega is taken by Cerberus (a sort of terrorist organization) and former leader Aria has fled to the Citadel (central space station when the galactic council is situated).

Now Omega is some sort of space dock full of criminals, so maybe it's not the first choice of a world to free. But Aria helped you out in Mass Effect 2, so it's time to return the favour. Also, there's the fact that she promises you the help of the major crime gangs in your fights against the evil Reapers if you help her reclaim the station.

What I really liked about this DLC is that it explores the character of Aria a bit more. Aria is this really ruthless person that does everything for the power of what she sees as 'her' Omega. At the same time, she is also your ally and I can't help but feel sympathy for her. The situation gets tense when a turian is introduced. She has taken control of the underground movement while Aria was away and wants the best for her people. It then turns out she also has a special relationship with Aria.

It didn't occur to me earlier, but Aria is kinda purplish for an assari. Maybe it's that Omega air she's breathing in. She's also an expert at looking sulky.

I won't spoil more of the story, but overall, this DLC was fun. A nice surprise is that Shepard could get access to the special (pretty overpowered) biotic attack you see Aria doing all the time. This makes this DLC extra cool for biotic Sheps.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sims 3: End of story

So how did it end with granny Vanessa and the two girls? Did granny go beserk after Delilah and Elaine had shown such little support when Death was at the door that she had to be saved by the cat? I fear I'll have to disappoint my readers a bit in this regard.

First Vanessa thought it was time to retire. This apparently had to be celebrated with signs of agitated gorillas (if this is some unique American tradition, please fill me in).

Then granny did go beserk... in the kitchen. She bought an interesting device called "replicator" which was able to duplicate every five star meal right out of the fridge. In combination with the special nothing-ever-goes-sour-fridge (I think it was a reward for becoming a five star cook), this meant that she could supply Delilah and Elaine with endless five star meals without anyone having to cook ever.

The fridge needed to be filled, though, so she went to the shops to buy all recipes she could find and tried to make a perfect version of them for in the fridge.

It was too late, though. That day, Delilah turned 18. She gave a fabulous beach-party-without-beach and everyone seemed to have lots of fun. I couldn't help but feel a bit sad, because Vanessa was still around.

Vanessa spent a lot of time with the girls after her retirement, getting to know them a little better. They went to some super hot party with the four of them (the cat also joined but somehow got lost in the underground halfway), which they thought was awesome because granny as a celebrity could get them into all the VIP zones. They also went on a tour through town to get group pictures made everywhere.

Then, one day after Delilah's party, Vanessa died. Very appropriately too, in the kitchen after finishing her last recipe: a perfect tofu turkey.

This time, Delilah and Elaine were horrified. They put their plates on the floor as some kind of protest.

They clearly didn't know what to do. Granny did, though.

It was time to go.

Gently, she shook Death's hand and disappeared.

Everyone was sad, including me. My challenge had failed. And maybe, just maybe I was a little bit sad too because Vanessa was a pretty amazing virtual person.

But hey, life isn't so grim. In the end, everyone has to go and Elaine and Delilah at least have enough superb food for the rest of their lives. But first they buried granny and held a super sad ceremony.

And now? My times with the Sims is over for now, but who knows when I might return someday. Maybe with a family of bloggers, who knows? Either way, time to say goodbye to the McKay family for now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pokémon: Gotta catch 'em all (for real)

I haven't written about pokémon for ages. But I got a good reason! Naturally, I was too busy secretly preparing for this:

Okay, maybe not. Maybe I don't even own a smartphone... I would totally get one just for the sake of being able to do this, though!

PS Sorry for the unimaginative post, but hey, at least it gave me an excuse to pull out the Bamboo again.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

AC: How I came to play

I haven't been able to play any Star Wars or LotRO lately, simply because the gaming laptop has been away for repairs, I think for over 4 weeks by now. I know, AARGH. So instead, Tiger's been sharing his PC with me and we've been playing some single-player games: mostly Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed.

Now Assassin's Creed (written as AC in the title since I'm just that lazy) was a series I've always thought wasn't for me. In ancient times, my now ex-boyfriend had let me try Assassin's Creed I, and I didn't like it at all. The controls were weird and I'm not really the conspiracy theory and assassination type of girl. But Tiger has been playing it a bit when I've been studying and I may have accidentally made some remarks about how awesome the game looks. Now Tiger set off on a missionary path. It went sort of like this.

"What don't you like about it?" I explained what I found last time I tried it. "Well, if you look further than the conspiracy thing, the storytelling is actually quite good. You usually like these sort of things in games." 

Me: "But you have to assassinate people. It's evil. Look, there you did it! He didn't do anything to you!" "He was just a city guard..." Me: "He was innocent!" "Well, he worked for the wrong person." "Does he know? I mean, he probably has a family to take care of. A wife and kids. Who wouldn't take an easy job of patrolling the city roofs. I mean, roofs. What's the odd chance...?" Tiger: "You don't have to kill them. You can also just knock them unconscious, you know. Or sneak past them." Me: "So why didn't you...?"

*flying property*

Now Tiger was pulling out the heavy gunnery. "But I understand. You didn't like the controls. I guess you're not too good with controllers." Me: "What?! My first XBOX game was Ninja Gaiden. And I've played it until the end!"* "I'm impressed, I hear that game is hardcore. If you can play that, Assassin's Creed should not be too much of a problem." Sigh. I didn't like where this was going.

"Besides, the controls are indeed a bit clunky in Assassin's Creed I. It gets much better in the later games."

Okay, that was that then. Tiger: 1, Rav: 0. I guess there was only one option: I actually had to start playing Assassin's Creed.

* I quote from its Wikipedia page: The Ninja Gaiden games gained a reputation throughout the gaming community for their difficulty and attention to detail. Although they appealed to gamers who (...) wanted a "bloody hard, but also bloody good" challenge, it was feared that casual gamers would find the learning curve daunting. IGN warned that gamers with lesser skills might not "get as much out of this game as others due to [its] incredible difficulty"." I can concur, this game was really challenging.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

LOTRO: Day, night and lousy weather

 Okay, maybe this wasn't the best day to go out and take a ride...

In Day/Night cycles for a chance of sunset MMO Gypsy praises MMOs in which the developers took the effort to program day and night cycles into their games. I'm right with her on this one.

I miss this extra sense of realism in Star Wars. When I ride through LotRO and the rain suddenly falls onto my face, I remember what's so awesome about this game again. That's another thing that LotRO sets apart from other games: it has weather changes.

I sought my library of screenshots for some examples to illustrate how much influence the weather can have on the atmosphere of an area. You might recognize some of the pictures from earlier blog posts. My library is pretty extensive, though, so you've been warned.

Screenshots incoming!

A rainy day in Eastern Rohan.

The same region of Eastern Rohan during a bright day.

Even in the snowy region of Wildermore there's diversity. The region is forever cold due to a wizard's spell, but that doesn't mean it always looks the same.

Here's Wildermore again, this time without snow falling down. All of a sudden, the bleak winter sun makes the edges of Fangorn look as if they're ripped from a book of fairy tales.

And even in Wildermore, the area looks different during a foggy dawn.

Late afternoon in the Wold, Eastern Rohan. The light comes from a low angle: you can see the day is nearing its end.

This is how Fingolwë and Ravanel saw Edoras from afar at dawn.

And this is the sky when they arrived at its entrance a few (in-game) hours later.

I like how the Shire sky has this slightly deeper blue teint. Just sets it apart a little.

Deep in the night in Enedwaith the world might look a bit scarier. And heroes might look a bit more like heroes when they light up in the dark.

I really liked the contrast between the waving yellow grass of Enedwaith and the early night's king's blue sky. Shame I was on my crappy computer, so the quality of the screenshot isn't amazing.

I could add another dozen images or so, but I think you get the idea.

It seems like new MMOs tend to save money when it comes to 'fluff' like this, with Wildstar as a positive exception to the rule (as it at least seems to have day and night cycles). (Out of curiosity: does anyone know another MMO besides LotRO that has both day/night cycles and alternating weather?) I think this development in games is a shame, because it really adds a deeper level of immersion and quality to a game.