Honest Thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda

As many of you may know, Mass Effect Andromeda is finally out in the wild after five years of development time at various BioWare studios. While the franchise is beloved by most, it was initially surprising to me how lackluster the review scores have been, pegging it as a solid effort, but multiple issues ultimately holding it back.

At the core of these discussions are the animations, often as internet memes or jokes intended to poke fun at the game. It’s true though, the game does feature its fair share of underwhelming animations and character models, but even knowing that, I was never dissuaded from picking up a copy. Frankly, I love the franchise so getting to jump back into that universe was something I definitely didn’t want to pass up.

I’ll admit, I’ve had a difficult time writing this impressions post, which is a strange thing for me. Mass Effect Andromeda has proven to be a complicated subject, which we’ll get into in just a moment. I’m no where near halfway finished and my thoughts are still conflicted a lot more than I thought they would be. Lets try to untangle these messy thoughts.

Continue reading

Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Video Round Up: March 19 – 25

Saturday is finally here and that means it’s time for a brand new Round Up, bringing you the best gameplay and trailers from around the industry. So kick up your feet and crank the volume, here’s a small taste of what waits for you below the jump.

It was a big week for the folks at NetherRealm Studios as they released a bunch of new trailers for their superhero brawler, Injustice 2. First, come get a glimpse at Wonder Woman’s nemesis, Cheetah, then stay for Supergirl’s side of the story. Who knows, perhaps you’ll also get a glimpse of an evil lightning throwing bad guy as well.

Titanfall 2 is still chugging right along and their next major (and free!) downloadable content expansion is less than a week away. The fan favorite map Colony rejoins the series along with a ton of new content and Prime Titans as well.

I’ve also got new videos for Prey, Overwatch, Destiny and so much more after the break, so come check out this week’s batch of trailers!

The full list of videos await you after the jump…

Continue reading

Posted in Feature, VIdeo Round Up | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Emergent Storytime: Horizon Zero Dawn and the Stormbird

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, eh?

Lately, I’ve been just consumed with Horizon: Zero Dawn, a post-apocalyptic third person open world game where the Earth has been reclaimed by nature and human’s have been pushed back into a more tribal state. Animalistic machines also roam the land and as Aloy, it’s up to you to not only find out why they’re becoming more and more hostile, but unravel a conspiracy surrounding who you are.

After progressing the story past a particular point, I reached a place called Daytower. The small castle-like structure served as the border gate from the Nora lands (basically the starter zone) to the wilder and more open section of the map. In this area, the game really escalates by throwing a lot of new and dangerous machines into the mix including the Thunderjaw, a large T-Rex looking enemy seen in a lot of the gameplay trailers.

Immediately after crossing through, I hear a small battle going on in the distance between a group of NPC hunters and a massive bird-like machine. Feeling a sense of duty to those hunters, I rushed to their aid to lend a hand. Before I knew it, the aggressive machine bird had wiped them out and then turned its attention to me. Using a device called a focus, I was able to scan the bird to find it’s weaknesses, strengths, and see things like its name and level. At this point, my Aloy was level 21 and unfortunately, I found myself fighting a level 27 enemy known as the Stormbird. This was going to be a fight for the ages.

This fight felt ripped right out of a game like Dark Souls, where your character was going up against a much larger and more powerful foe. Dodge rolling and staying mobile were my best friends in this instance as a couple of good shots would have showed me a game over screen.

What’s great about Horizon: Zero Dawn is that combat lets you express yourself, meaning there’s more than one way to win a fight. In this case, I decided that picking off various components would make this fight a little easier. All machines in this game have component that can be broken off, some of them limiting what combat options the enemy then has access to. In this case, the Stormbird is an electric based, highly mobile flying creature, capable of slamming the ground with tremendous force, or quick hitting with deadly sharp talons or it’s tail.

In this case, grounding the bird would help me out significantly, so I aimed for the large thrusters on its wings. After removing them, the bird could no longer perform it’s signature dive attack, though I had not realized that the giant yellow component on it’s chest was the cause of its lightning gun.

As an aside, the ropecaster, a weapon I didn’t have at the time, is a wonderful piece of tech as you can actually use it to tie the bird down for a few moments.

Through some creative retreats and artful dodging, I managed to whittle the life bar down even more, at which point the bird went into desperation mode. With it’s power and health failing, it gave up trying to fly and instead focused on wiping me out on the ground. During this phase, you have to stay on the move as much as possible because it’s lunge attacks will rip you to shreds in an instant and its tail sweep covers a lot of ground.

After a lengthier than expected battle, I managed to overcome the much more powerful bird, though my efforts didn’t save any of the soldiers battling with it initially. Unfortunately for those guys, the Stormbird made quick work of them, then moved its attention my way. Though it was a struggle, this battle was so satisfying to overcome and a lot of fun. I think I finally understand what all you Dark Souls/Bloodborne fans are always on about.

Now it’s time to net me a Thunderjaw!

Posted in Feature, Opinion, Other | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Saturday Video Round Up: March 12 – 18

We’re deep into March now and it shows as there’s quite a few videos to get to. Welcome to another weekly edition of the Saturday Video Round Up, where the best trailers and gameplay. Here’s just a small taste of what’s waiting for you below the jump.

Nintendo came out of the gate hard with the Switch thanks large in part to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While the game ditches many longstanding traditions, it seems the fanbase is in love with this newest entry. Curious to know how Nintendo decided to make all these gameplay updates? A new three part behind the scenes series arrived this week, so make sure to check them out for answers to many of your burning questions.

Next weeks see the return of the Mass Effect franchise as the next entry in the series is taking players to the Andromeda galaxy. Fans have already gotten a good look at the single player side, and now it’s time to get an overview of the cooperative multiplayer mode. If you’re familiar with Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, I think you’ll find plenty to love with Andromeda.

I’ve also got new videos for Prey, Injustice 2, Quake Champions and so much more after the break, so come check out this week’s batch of trailers!

The full list of videos await you after the jump…

Continue reading

Posted in Feature, VIdeo Round Up | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The PAX East 2017 Recap

Well, this year’s show was an odd one, that’s for sure. In the eight years of PAX East being held in March, never once was the show besieged by less than optimal weather. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some years it has been downright frigid, but snow and ice? Never.

Until now.

I mean, I do live in New England, so winter is a constant threat until like mid-April, but still, it’s March, go away. I guess my luck had to run out at some point though, huh?

I used to go all three days, but I’ve since reduced that to just Friday and Sunday to give myself a buffer and a day of rest on Saturday. Typically, I always went as early as possible, got a good spot in the queue line, and stormed in when it opened at 10. This year however, knowing I’d be sticking around later in the day on Friday, I decided to go in a bit later. Unfortunately this year, a snow storm decided to move in as well, which really hampered travel.

Around 10:30 I decided to leave the house and head into the big city, though for me, I have to jump in a highway to head in. It seemed the longer I was on that highway, the more intense the snowfall became, and signs every few miles continued to remind me to leave enough room for the plows and to prepare for a winter storm later in the day. Things were looking grim and of course, knowing that I faced some travel later in the day along with potential for Friday highway traffic to be worse than normal due to the storm, I was forced to turn around.

So yeah, I missed my Friday show and I wasn’t terribly thrilled to have been sidelined by Mother Nature and the lingering Old Man Winter. Thankfully, I ultimately made the right call however as the snow continued to fall throughout the day and the roads eventually became icy. Even though it sucked missing out, it was better safe than sorry. Plus, I still had Sunday so not all was lost.

So what did I see and do?

Though I wanted to attend the Mass Effect Andromeda panel on Friday, it was thankfully held in the Main Theater, which meant it was being streamed on Twitch allowing me to still check it out. A good chunk of the panel showed Liam Kosta’s loyalty mission, played live by Ian Frazier, lead designer on the game. The crowd got a kick out of seeing Frazier die twice right at the start of the mission by going in a little too hot. After a little bit of ribbing, he eventually settled into a groove and made it out of that initial firefight.

The thing that immediately stuck out to me was the writing, as the tone didn’t feel as dire and dramatic as it was in the previous trilogy. The characters displayed humor, which was a welcome surprised. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a comedy game by any stretch, but I appreciate that BioWare made the characters react to things using a bit of humor or in a way that a normal person would react.

In addition, multiplayer was available at the show as well, and while I didn’t bother to spend an hour waiting to play it (I mean, the game is out next week, I can wait a few more days), I was able to watch a bit of it. Frankly, it looks like a more polished version of the wave based multiplayer from Mass Effect 3, and I am more than happy with that. Customization looks to be a bigger focus this time around as players can change a whole lot of things besides skills this time around including armor color. A simple but cool addition in my opinion.

The Nintendo Switch was at the show and of course, Nintendo’s booth was slammed basically from start to finish. Waiting in line would likely have been a bigger task and required me to forfeit a lot of my time doing other things. Still, they had a large stage set up so I was able to check out some Mario Kart 8 Deluxe battle mode, which obviously looks super fun and is likely the next major game Switch owners should check out.

I stopped by the PAX Arena area once again as Sunday featured a five hour Super Smash Bros tournament, which was a lot of fun to behold in person. Some of the abilities and moves these people pull off are just draw dropping, and the fights themselves were very competitive and exciting to see.

Unfortunately for me, limiting myself to only one day really negatively impacted the amount of things I could see. Just like 2017 as a whole, there were just too many good games to see and not enough time to do it in. I wanted to check out games like Hob, Pyre, and Battle Chasers but I just ran out of time.

Sony and Microsoft had big booths this year which was good to see, while Ubisoft was largely absent, something which is different for them. Blizzard was there as well, but instead of having games to play, they brought their merch shop with them offering a lot of cool things to buy including exclusive convention items that sold out very quickly.

I watched a live gameplay demo of Prey from Bethesda and man, I’m totally on board with that game now. I know I’ve said it before but that game definitely gives off a strong “BioShock in space” vibe and I love it. Considering that we’re likely to not get another BioShock for a while, I think Prey will tide me over nicely. The demo showed combat, exploration, and ended with zero-g gameplay in space, which was super cool. Using thrusters, players could actually navigate outside of the space station, find new paths or ways to enter, and even interact with objects. They ended the segment with the now famous, transform into a banana and float around in space bit seen in one of the recent trailers.

Overall, while it wasn’t quite how I pictured the show going this year, I still managed to make the best of the situation and saw a lot of cool things. Hopefully next year, PAX is pushed back by a couple weeks to ensure that a freak snowstorm like this won’t happen again. One day was just simply not enough time to do and see everything. I know I missed a ton this year.

For those of you that went, what did you think of the show? What was the best and worst thing you saw?

Posted in Opinion, PAX East | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Saturday Video Round Up: March 5 – 11

Even though I’m in Boston for the annual Penny Arcade Expo aka PAX East this weekend, I’m not going to leave you guys hanging without something to do. I mean, it is Saturday after all. So as usual, here are the best and brightest videos from the past week.

The headliner this week, for me anyway, is the 16 minute gameplay walkthrough for Middle-earth: Shadow of War. I was an big fan of the first game and it looks like the team has cranked up the epicness to 100 this time around. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the game at E3 this year.

It’s crazy to think, but we’re now a little over a week away from the next Mass Effect game, and I couldn’t be more excited. If you need another bump to the hype meter, the launch trailer has finally arrived and it features all the space shootin’ goodness that you’d expect to see.

I’ve also got new videos for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Injustice 2, Quake Champions and so much more after the break, so come check out this week’s batch of trailers!

The full list of videos await you after the jump…

Continue reading

Posted in Feature, VIdeo Round Up | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It Is Time! PAX East is Upon Us!

Well it’s that time of the year again where I make my annual pilgrimage to the big city of Boston, Massachusetts for the Penny Arcade Expo. For me this will be my….ummm…my eighth show. Since it was started way back in 2010, I’ve made sure to get down there because it’s a super cool event and has always kind of felt like a mini-E3 of sorts.

pax-east-logo

As you can probably guess, I’m somewhere over there at the moment to soak in the sights and sounds of another show. For those of you new here, I do try to cover as many things that I’ve seen or heard so expect to see content here on the site next week. If you’re curious to read my past work on the annual show, make sure to use the “PAX East” tag on the right side of the page or the category links.

I’ll be as active as I can on Twitter as well, so for those of you that are looking for semi-live updates from the show, pictures, or other commentary, make sure to check me out: @GamerCrash

Even though I’m in Boston this weekend, I’ve got you site dwellers covered as I will have a new Video Round Up coming at you early on Saturday. As I mentioned above, I’ll be tackling PAX East things next week such as impressions, games, etc like usual. Want to see something or have me check something out at the show? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll do my best.

Posted in Feature, PAX East | Tagged , , | 4 Comments