Dragon Warrior

Dragon Warrior - NES - Gameplay Screenshot - Box

Dragon Warrior

You take role of a warrior (Elwood?) in order to save the princess and slay the dragon. Dragon Warrior(Quest in Japan and lately here) is the one that started it all in terms of quest style games. If you get a chance to check out the library of games for the Famicom you’ll realize that there are a vast amount of Dragon Warrior(Quest) clones out there. Most of the good ones were translated by true RPG fans while some others might or not still be in the works. Either way, you’ll have your best bet playing this classic of classics as you take a quest in the most initiative way through a realm full of freaks!

Dragon Warrior - NES - Gameplay Screenshot - 1

 

You(Elwood) take your role and start up as a wimpy warrior and must train hard to turn into a respectful killing machine. It’ll take you a while to reach your goal so you better be ready to sit down and level up by killing the same monsters over and over again. The music might get to your nerves since it’s so archaic (it’s from the 1980s for crying out loud!) So take a chance and plug in your Ihome or stereo and listen to some punk rock, it helps!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U5gnCG0AUI[/youtube]

 

Your quest will take you approximately twenty hours to complete for slow pokes like me, but I heard some hardy players have beaten the game in ten hours so go figure. I remember that the magazine Nintendo Power said it could be done in ten hours as well. Don’t worry though, do what you have to do, Elwood will always be there dancing on the same spot waiting for your command.
Till next time adventurer….

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers.~Jessi Roman

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

Single moments in history are what make up our lives.  Some moments pass by unnoticed, seemingly meaningless, lost in a neurological card catalog, while others are etched into our memories, never to be forgotten.

chronocross_kid

What was it about that day in 2nd grade (no, I’m not going to tell you what year it was!) that stood out in my memory? Santa Claus came to our class. We went up and down the rows, each naming one thing we wanted for Christmas. I was the only one that did not ask for a Nintendo! I asked for a drum set, and I got it… never did become much of a musician. At any rate, this was not the catalyst that began my transformation from the geeky kid that every one made fun of into… well, the geeky gamer girl that everyone made fun of. (Thank God for the sudden acclamation of geek culture!) No, it was not this single moment, framed in time, that changed my life, but for some reason it stuck.

I didn’t get a NES of my very own until several years later. That’s not to say that I didn’t spend hours upon hours of my formative years playing Super Mario Bros. with the boy across the street. But no, I wasn’t a “gamer” back then. I mean, I definitely remember that feeling I got the first time I found out that my Princess was in another castle… -_- and I remember how I swelled with pride when I finally beat 8-4 and found her! I mean, I have some seriously precious gaming memories that even go as far back as Sierra’s “Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter”.

space-quest-1--roger-wilco-and-the-sarien-encounter-(vga)-screenshot

There was a life-changing gaming experience for me, though. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school. I started dating this guy who had a Playstation. He changed my life forever. Not only did I end up marrying the guy, but he introduced me to Chrono Cross – most epic RPG ever! I had never played a serious RPG before… I mean, does Zelda count? No, I didn’t think so. So being all girly and stuff, I got really sucked in by the art, and the plethora of characters you could pick up. Matter of fact, to this day, a key element in how I rate an RPG is the number of playable characters.

Let’s face it, people, there’s no greater game to have launched me into the world of serious hard-core gaming. I worked a split shift at the JCC, so I had a block of four hours free time in the middle of the day. He gave me the key to his house (and unknowingly, the key to his heart <3… yeah, I’m a sap), and I’d spend those four hours immersed in the tropical archipelago, El Nido.

Chrono Cross

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers… so I went for every character… played out every possible subplot… even used the strategy guide to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And boy did I get everything! It changed my life. Really. I wonder if I had not spent those hours upon hours hanging out at his house, playing Chrono Cross… I wonder if I still would have won his heart? I’m not going to go so far as to say that gaming got me married… but maybe it did. Maybe it changed my life more than I’ll ever know.

It’s been over ten years now, and we’re still married… and still gaming! I may have gotten better at sharing, and co-op games are more fun now! But to this day, nothing has ever come close to the grand epicness that is Chrono Cross. No other game has made such an impact on my life. Even as I write this now, I’m listening to the OST, and realizing how important it is that I go back for a re-play.

Did a game ever change your life? If so, how? What game was it?

Jessi Roman is a geek, gamer, mom, proudly raising the next generation of nerds! You can read her blog here.

Fable

Fable

I do love RPG’s, but when Fable was originally released I didn’t jump on it. First off, I’ve acknowledged that I’m a cheap gamer and I like the bargain bins, and secondly, I was getting geared up for Halo 2 (which would take most of my time). Third, I have a buddy who loves playing all 3 games and other similar RPG’s, like the Elder Scrolls run. Over the years, he would tell me of his gaming exploits, which were usually something like, “Yeah, this game is awesome! I have a bunch of wives, but they were coming after me for child support, so I had to take them out into the woods and kill them.” and “I played as a chick this time, and got VD and pregnant.”……This was enough to keep me away for a while. But, I knew I’d get around to it sooner or later.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

Before the game was released, there was enough hype surrounding the game to assure it would never live up to all the expectations. I don’t care about that. All I care about is having fun. It doesn’t matter to me if a game is delayed for years, or if it fails to deliver what it promised. After I insert the disc into my Xbox…”How does it look?” “How does it control?” “How much fun am I having?” These are the questions I ask myself. Having said all that, let me get into Peter Molyneux/Big Blue Box/Lionhead Studio’s Fable.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

All RPG’s have a story, some better than others. With Fable, the main story is pretty standard: Little boy’s village raided by bandits, father killed, mother and sister taken, strange man takes in boy so he can grow up and get revenge.
You play a short time as a boy, and then as a teenager, basically to get used to the controls. A little more than a tutorial, but that’s really what it is. When you reach manhood, the main quest starts. I know people who have put 40-50 hours (maybe more) into Fable, but I did 13. Here’s why: I’ve also never been a huge fan of “sandbox” games. I prefer linear. I understand I’m probably in the minority, but I like having a goal/quest/mission, then accomplishing it.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

In Fable, there is the main quest that will be fleshed out in increments by your mentor(s), but also a crapload of side quests. Most gamers want to get more for their money, and you’ll get this with Fable, because there is always something to do. But, nothing drives me crazier in a game than given my main quest with a “Time is of the essence! You must rescue ‘so-and-so’!”, then also having the option of romancing women, escorting traders, and stopping to smell the flowers, with no consequences after doing so.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

Sometimes, there’s so much going on that the main story is forgotten, and that should never be the case. I would have skipped the side quests completely, but for a couple of reasons: One, I wanted to see for myself so I could write about it, and two, I wanted to do just enough to level-up properly so I wouldn’t be under-powered against bosses when I finally reached them. But come on, there are just so many escort missions I can do before I was bored silly.
Having said all that, Albion itself is a beautiful place. From the water, to the woods, to the villages…..they spent a lot of time making everything look unique. Except for the people, who all look the same…. I think I married sisters. There is plenty of world to explore, and loading times aside, it was worth it to wander from section to section to see what the next part of the country looked like.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

The music was cute and very ‘fairy-tale’ like, the score was spot-on what I want to hear in the background when I’m playing a game like this. It was a very welcome addition to the game.
Combat is also an important part of an RPG, and this is done in real-time. You have your close-combat weapons (and there are plenty from which to choose), your long-range, and your spells. One of the cool things about your character is he doesn’t have a ‘class’ so to speak, meaning no fighter/wizard/whatever.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

He can do all of these things. As you kill enemies, you get experience and can take those XP to build up your character pretty much the way you want. You can make him extremely strong, very fast, or proficient with spell-casting. If you play the game long enough, you’ll eventually max out all. One of the really cool things I found was when I came across a huge sword that my character had a hard time carrying/using, but after I ‘strengthened’ my character, he was waving it around with no problem.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot
There are also the typical spells, with the fire/lightning strikes which I mostly used, along with a spell that gave me double attacks. Again, everything looked pretty cool, but the ‘lock-on’ targeting system was a major pain in the ass, with a lot of innocents getting fried on accident. And there were many times where it stayed on when I was trying to run for cover, which left me a bit defenseless. The enemies are many in number, but sparse in variety, and they look cool. Mainly bandits, huge wasps, some werewolf types, and a couple of others. There are some small bosses before the big ones at the end…. I just called Rock Monsters ‘small’, for some reason. The final bosses were way too easy, and I considered myself underpowered.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

Another huge aspect of the game is what I call the “The Sims”, which I didn’t really want to do. This is the interaction with the townsfolk. Now, every game has you talking to people for info, that’s pretty standard. Fable wants you to spend valuable questing time literally flexing my muscles, flirting, showing my trophy-kills, and giving gifts to impress people, as well as showing a scary face or giving the middle finger to people I don’t like. There’s a lot more of this than I just mentioned, and there are reasons for doing so, I just had zero interest in this. If I want to play The Sims, I will buy those games.

Fable - Xbox - Gameplay Screenshot

I appreciate what they tried to do here, by making the game unique and ‘more real’ (I guess), but I think it takes away from the core gameplay. I did take a couple of wives, just so I could say that I did it, but it was empty gameplay…and oh yeah, my mother was being tortured during all this…sorry, ma. A man has needs.

I could go on, but by now you pretty much have my take:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXjXVRgT39o[/youtube]

Beautiful-looking, slow load times, wonky combat, good main quest story, unnecessary side quests, Sims stuff that doesn’t interest me, and easy bosses.
If I rate the game so just the main story, I recommend it. On the whole package…not so much. But, I know there are plenty of you out there that want to get that great hours to price ratio…and this game will do it for you.

Planescape: Torment

Planescape Torment - Gameplay Screenshot

There are few words that can describe the wonder that is Planescape: Torment.  A few that come to mind: amazingdeepgloriousimmersive.  This game is worth every accolade sent its way and more.

Released by Interplay in 1998, Planescape: Torment was developed by Black Isle Studios, the RPG masters who also worked on Icewind Dale, Fallout, and Baldur’s Gate.  The game is set in the Planescape universe, part of the Dungeons & Dragons setting.  You are in the City of Sigil, the center of the universe – a place where any creature from any place in the multiverse can visit, as long as they do not disrupt the eternal rule of the Lady of Pain.  The game mechanics follow the 2nd Edition rules set, so no Feats or other munchkin bells & whistles.

Planescape Torment - Gameplay Screenshot

The graphics are in 2D isolinear, a standard for RPGs of the late 1990’s.  Though not as detailed when compared to today’s near photorealistic graphics, the characters and backgrounds are still quite detailed, and do not distract from enjoyable gameplay.  The music sounds a bit other-worldly, which is par for the course for a game set in the Outer Planes of the D&D cosmos.  Unlike some games, where the music is either repetitive or annoyingly out-of-place,  the music in Planescape: Torment does what it’s supposed to do: add atmosphere to the gameplay and stay in the background.  By the way, the sound effects and spoken dialogue are spectacular, too.

Planescape Torment - Gameplay Screenshot

You begin the game waking up from a marble slab in the middle of the mortuary.  You don’t know who you are.  You don’t know anyone you meet.  You’re covered with scars that seem too numerous to be received in just one lifetime, which is to be expected, as it seems you have a curious immortality: although you can die, you cannot stay dead.   This isn’t a standard RPG; your goal isn’t to find a treasure or defeat an ultimate villain.  All you need to do is to discover exactly who you are, and why is it that you suffer so.  As you progress through the game, you will gain new insights to who you’ve been, the friends and enemies you’ve made, and the feats you’ve accomplished.

Planescape Torment - Gameplay Screenshot

Since your memory is gone, you choose what class you want to level up in as you gain experience, and you are not limited to that class each time you reach the next experience plateau.  More importantly, experience is rewarded for more than just combat.  How you speak to NPCs can result in a bonanza of experience points, as can completing tasks.  The choices you face in every encounter can adjust your alignment depending on what approach you take.  In short, everything about Planescape: Torment is open-ended, the hallmark of an excellent RPG.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7s2Qkx3lN5s[/youtube]

As you gain experience, you also gain ability points.  Which attributes you put those points towards makes a difference in how the game progresses.  New dialogue options might open up for you.  Certain NPCs may treat you differently.  Quests might have different parameters.  Your choices impact how the game plays!

I cannot remember a game that I have enjoyed more than Planescape: Torment.  In fact, it became my favorite game I ever played back when it was released, and no game since has been able to knock it from that position.  The only weakness I can think of for this game is that eventually it ends.  If Black Isle made another Planescape game I would buy it in a heartbeat.  If you haven’t played Planescape: Torment, you’ve missed out on something BIG.  Get yourself a copy. STAT!!

Villian Spotlight: Kefka Palazzo

Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster
Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster

Kefka Palazzo

Since the dawn of video game culture, there have been a lot of subjects you don’t bring up unless you want some greasy, unhygienic, nerd frothing from the mouth with a rabid induced rage. One of these subjects that is commonly brought up by RPG geeks which ends up in a heated debate is who is the greatest Final Fantasy villain? Normally, the debate is stomped by a wave of Sephiroth loving assholes. For some reason, long white hair, trench coats, and absurdly gigantic katanas are cool. Not just that, this guy’s freaking theme song is an orchestra chiming in death and destruction. The problem a lot of people seem to not realize is that the question asked who is the GREATEST villain in Final Fantasy. People seem to confuse cool with greatness.

I’m unsure if the sway towards Sephiroth is because a lot of people played FF VII as their first real RPG and considered anything before that garbage or mediocre. I do agree that Final Fantasy VII was a fantastic game and that Sephiroth was indeed a cool villain. The thing is, he didn’t accomplish much and his role as a villain was rather one dimensional. His creativity for slaughter was usually left with a sword swing and some fire. His actual development as a character was rather bland and nonexistent.

I know. I know.

Take a deep breath.

It hurts to hear this kind of criticism about the One Winged Angel but I’m about to open your eyes to a true villain. Someone who’s appearance was comical but their lust for destruction was their only drive in life. There wasn’t a waking moment where this monster didn’t think about the end of the world. Many villains feel this way but he isn’t a Cobra Commander or Doctor Claw replica. Where many villains fail and constantly try again, Kefka succeeds. Here’s a look into the devilish antics performed by the supernatural sociopath known as Kefka Palazzo.

As the game begins, Kefka Palazzo is only known as the Emperor’s Court Wizard and doesn’t seem to be more than just some queer looking clown. The Emperor decides to begin a process of infusing Magitek into humans. Kefka decides to volunteer for this process and is able to wield magic. Come to think of it… how was this guy the Court Wizard if he couldn’t control magic to begin with? Anyway, an obvious homage to Captain America occurs and Kefka becomes Captain Magitek and stops the World War that is plaguing the planet and is pronounced the savior of the world.

The End.

Things didn’t work out that way, sadly, for Kefka and he turned into a psychopath who deemed that everything ever in the entire world had to die. He became the Joker with magic. He forces Terra, the main character in the story, to wear a slave crown and attack a town that claims to have an Esper in their mines. Terra manages to escape the enslavement and runs off. Kefka, obviously angered by this decides to burn down an ENTIRE fucking castle just to kill a bitch. Pretty hardcore right? Sephiroth lit up a small secluded town but Kefka razed a whole castle.

Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison
Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison

After burning down a castle what else should you do? Grow impatient obviously! The Empire decides to attack the Kingdom of Doma and begins a long and drawn out siege. What does Kefka do to make things move a long faster? Does he impale a girl in the back with a sword? Hell no. Kefka poisons the kingdom’s water supply killing everyone inside, including Cyan’s, one of your party members, wife and his children. I don’t remember any Final Fantasy villains poisoning the innocent because they were consuming too much of their schedule.

When you’ve poisoned an entire kingdom what else can you do at the end of the day? Drink a cold beer and watch some TV? Take a hot shower and go to bed? Or freeze all your enemies in place and order one of them to prove their loyalty and kill their friends? The latter sounds like the best idea for this bad ass motherfucker. Unfortunately, the character he ordered to prove their loyalty stabbed him instead. But guess what? Big whoop. Instead of getting medical treatment he kills his king and draws in the powers of a couple of magical statues to become a God.

Looks like your team fucked up, huh? This guy is God and you know what his first order of business is? He isn’t going to hang a meteor over your most populated city. He reshaped the entire planet pushing it into a post apocalyptic world and then demanded people to worship him. You know what happened to the millions of people who said “Fuck that!” collectively? Independence Day. He burned them down with enough force to carve scars into the planet’s surface.

He became a God and forced people into his worship and still that isn’t good enough. This cum dumpster decides it’s a damn good idea to just end life since that shit is meaningless to him. Sure he’s defeated by the heroes of the story but that’s the point! He didn’t care if he died. In reality, he probably let them win because he was too much of a bad ass to die. He figured he was way to cool for the world of the living anyway. His death was his final “F U” to the world since he already fucked it up and now he’s dead and doesn’t have to bother to clean that shit up.

By now, I’m hoping your frothing has ended and you realize the error of your ways. I know it’s going to be hard to put away your Sephiroth figurines and wall posters but you have finally been educated or rather re-educated in the makings of a true monster and villain. You may subconsciously still blurt out Sephiroth’s name like a slutty wife screaming out her secret lover’s name when the question arises as to who is the greatest Final Fantasy antagonist but you will feel that itching in the back of your mind. You know you’re wrong and some day you can even accept that.

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 review by Honorabili

WARNING: This review is not for fanboys or people who like simple games or dumbed down RPGs. If you have played as many RPGs as I have, you will find it useful.

One Sentence Review:
“More action-rpg space opera mayhem”

Overall Score:
7 out of 10

Overview:

Mass Effect 2 is a sequel to one of the better modern RPGs out there. Both Mass Effect games are a lot like Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), taking some elements from the early Fallout games and Planescape: Torment. The game plays like an interactive movie done by a really good director.

I will assume that people who played this game have already played the first one. If you haven’t, you should stop reading this and go play ME1 instead before looking at this game.

You take the role again of Shepard, Captain of the Normandy. I won’t get into any spoilers but the intro of the game will leave you saying “WHAT THE HELL?!” You go around the galaxy recruiting/commanding a team of soldiers, scientists, engineers, etc. trying to uncover clues and complete missions that get you closer to attacking the home of the main baddies, etc.

I won’t cover spoilers and I am writing this review from the perspective of someone that has been playing RPGs from the mid 80s, both normal RPGs (table-top, pen and paper) and classic computer RPGs (non-MMO). Most media out there considers this game the next best thing to sliced bread but I have found some areas that I thought could have been better, especially since they were available in previous Bioware games.

In general, in both games I have a problem with the way they made the dialogue circle. It’s fairly evident after you have been playing for a few minutes that all the nice/good-guy/Paragon options are positioned towards the top of the circle and the asshole/bad-guy/Renegade towards the bottom. My beef with this is that in real life, there’s more to just the extremity of being super nice Jesus Chris Superstar or being Satan/Adolf Hitler. I wish they would have implemented more alignments than just good or bad. In reality nothing is black or white. How about a grey zone? The game has it but all the responses for most of those choices are half assed and you will usually end up getting screwed by the game when you try to apply a rational solution to a problem that compromises both sides.

I wish they would go away from this dumbed down choose-your-own-adventure system and go back towards the roots of more intricate RPGs. It’s kind of annoying how they only phrase part of what your response would be in the options. I miss the days of being able to look at 8-9 different responses that were worded out exactly as my character would deliver them. I would look at lines in Fallout 2 or Planescape: Torment and think “hey, that’s really clever, let’s see what happens?!” Now I can just click on the obvious choices and just keep making my guy nicer/more of an asshole. Like, it takes no skill or thought.

Some people have said that this is now more an action game than rpg. A big problem I found with the action is that there are NO GRENADES. Grenades have been a part of warfare for more than 100 years now. Are you telling me there are no more being used by the military in the future?

Mass Effect 2 vs Mass Effect 1:

ME2 is a lot like part 1 but many things are changed as well.

The first thing that you will notice is that character progression is pretty primitive vs ME1. The game lacks an attribute progression system (hell all attributes in general other than shields, HPs, DPS).

They have done away with the planetary landings/random missions (they are MUCH less in ME2) and your little buggy is gone, which they in turn have replaced with you launching probes (which magically mine minerals for you) from a point and click screen. This is a huge mistake as, at least to me, this was one of the funnest parts of part 1 and that’s the difference between me beating part 1 in 1.5 weeks playing a good 4-6 hours a day and me destroying ME2 in 3 days only. The probing is BORING as hell. I’m good at it but basically as soon as I would start doing it, it would put me in the mood to go do something else (like go play another game or go to sleep). You might say, “Hey, it’s a good concept” but it’s been done right in other games, like Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters, a 1992 space exploration/combat game, with rpg elements to it). They should have included the buggy and maybe added a chemical analyzer to it to manually explore and drop off mining drones. That might have given the game a feel sort of like Koronis Rift, a lost Lucasfilm Games classic for c64 and other 8-bit computers/systems.

The game was dumbed down even further by removing the inventory system. When you kill enemies the only thing they drop is generic ammo, which you adapt to fit on any gun. This is the same as the previous game, and yes it does make the game go a lot faster. It’s not very realistic though, at least from the perspective of loot. It would have been nice if they gave you bonus money for salvaging and selling the weapons/armor/equipment that enemies dropped, for missions where you can pick that stuff up (not ones where you run off a ship/space station that is blowing up). That part of the game just made no sense to me. Some people think this is an improvement of the game but a good part in just about every RPG is gear/weapons/armor/tool management. Many people who play RPGs care about loot and having special items for their characters. (Some real RPG purists will argue otherwise but the plug-and-play system of loot in this game is just silly).

The game now makes you research for weapon mods, which for which you get resources by probing/mining (the game killer for me). You still buy stuff at stores but they are mainly mods which lead to new research projects for which you still need to waste time mining. This feels like grinding except that you’re not killing anything except strip mining a planet through a simple little interface. Where’s the action?

Fun Factor:

The fight scenes are pretty nice but they are impaired by probing/mining in between missions. I’m only really bitching about it so much because if you want to unlock every item mod/ship mod, you will have to spend time grinding on the probes. That’s not my idea of fun.

The fights themselves are pretty fun, although they are easy, especially with the dumb A.I. (see below) and lack of challenge.

The story is nice, but essentially it’s more of the first game (which I love) but it lacks more secret/side quests. It would have been nice to see more of those that secretly integrated into the background of the main story. An example is in Planescape: Torment when you buy a little toy Modron (an artificial robot race in this fantasy setting) and he lets you go to a special Modron dimension that’s an endless Dungeon. I think something like that is unique in a game but I see how that could make a game company dedicate a lot of resources towards something like that. Some people consider Planescape: Torment to be a failure as a “product” but it’s more like what a real RPG (non video game) is like than many others.

I would have liked as well to have seen a LOT MORE interaction between characters while in missions. I purposely picked characters on missions that would have ethical problems with whatever the mission was at hand. I would have liked to have seen them interacting more with each other, maybe even arguing rather than provide a one liner like “Shepard I don’t agree with this, but you’re the Captain.” They had that in Planescape: Torment but I would like that developed even more than that so it seems like you’re dealing with real people/real characters.

Back to ME2, I would have liked more interactivity with my plot/dialogue choices and more challenging combat and NO grinding/mining (if I wanted that I would go play an MMO). When I played ME1 or KOTOR, I cherished every moment. As I played ME2 I just felt like “okay let’s beat it to say I beat it.” I liked the characters in ME1 more as well but that’s beside the point of this section. Fun Factor got a score of 6 out of 10. Bring back more non-predictable dialogue/plot and better/harder/more intense action and my love will return.

Difficulty Versatility:

Overall, I found this game to be easy. There’s multiple difficulties but overall you won’t feel much of a difference unless you play it on the max difficulty. Doing that will sometimes create a situation where if the story dictates that you get screwed/ambushed by multiple enemies from multiple directions, you will often die then. That’s not really an issue for most of the game because you can just switch the difficulty on the fly through the options menu, and that IS useful.

The A.I. of the game is pretty linear/retarded (for the enemies). It’s not as bad as Dragon Age: Origins (that literally made me stop playing that game, although I bought that game). The biggest problem I had with the A.I. is that the enemies take cover really POORLY. In just about 95% of all combat in the game I have just been able to keep attacking the enemy even when they hide behind a box or wall. I especially love when they hide everything except the top of their head and I just unload a clip of sniper rifle on their sweet spot.

I would have liked the A.I. to get smarter as I set it on a higher difficulty, and not just lower my regen rate. Oh, yes, you have a regen rate in Mass Effect 2. Healing items are pretty common and they’re pretty useless unless you’re a really bad gamer. On the 2nd to last and even on the max difficulty there have only been about 2 real fights where I needed to heal my character. The rest of the time I just take cover and drink some tea and pretend I’m playing Gears of War.

The option to change the difficulty is nice (although it doesn’t do much) but the game is a cakewalk (for me). Difficulty Versatility get a score of 6 out of 10.

Value:

The best price for the PC at the time of this writing that I found quickly was from gogamer.com for $41.90.

For Xbox 360, on gogamer.com they have it on “sale” right now for $52.50, which is a bit steep for me, but then again I don’t buy console games as they are expensive.

The game took me about 3 days to beat which is longer than most new video games these days. The problem with RPGs is that unless they have dramatically different replayabilities then they’re pretty much a game you will play NOW and then again a year or so later. I can justify more paying money like that for a game you can play daily, whether a strategy game (any Civilization game) or FPS (Unreal Tournament series, Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2) than a game you will play sparsely like this one.

Most fans will pay the current amount for the game, if they like it enough to buy. If you are a fast gamer like me, especially for the console crowd, you’re better off renting the game.

I give Value a score of 5 out of 10. Too expensive for my blood to buy but longer than most one shot games out there.

Replayability:

I unlocked pretty much everything on my first run of the game, so I don’t think I’ll replay this for a while now. I’d probably replay Mass Effect 1 before I replay this one anyways (especially since I think ME1 is a better game).

If they add more missions, game modes through DLC then it would entice me to play it again (assuming they addressed at least some of the game design problems I had with ME2). The problem I have with DLC is that it’s simply a way for companies to milk you of more money for stuff they could have included in the game to make it a better game from the start. Business-wise it’s a good move (for profits) but it does make inferior games come out.

Some of my friends are as of this moment replaying it as a different class but the game overall is the same. For me that has the same appeal as watching a movie and then immediately rewatching it. Unless an rpg has a lot of different endings and side quests that are unique to that way you picked to play, then they don’t really have much replayability. Since I have really good memory, I will not go back to ME2 for a long while, maybe before Mass Effect 3 comes out. I give replayability a score of 4 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound effects are nicely picked. You have many sounds from ME1 repeated but they did the job for that game and they continue to work for this one. Some of their menu interfaces have their own sounds and they are pleasant. The weapons sound authentic and that’s important for an action (rpg) game.

The voice actors do a good job and you will hear familiar voices (not just from the gaming industry) doing an amazing job with their characters. I think they add a great level of immersion to the game. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The music is great for this game but my beef with it is that it is not constantly playing. There will be some songs like the galaxy interface that you will hear over and over. Some songs, like the ones in your private quarters, are pretty epic, but you can only listen to them by going into that room (for which you hardly ever go into). I would have liked an option to force the game to play music constantly to be integrated, and you can make specific songs override what’s playing for dramatic effect in cut scenes or specific fights.

The music I enjoyed but if we can’t really hear it then it’s not really there. Music gets a score of 7 out of 10. It’s there and great, just absent.

Graphics:

Eye candy! This game looks just as good as ME1 and even almost as good as Dead Space. I think they did a great job with the ingame graphics and cut scene movies. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never crashed for me, even though I alt-tabbed the game a bunch of times. You’d expect a game with such a pretty graphics engine to go nuts from that but it never did. In fact, I purposely crashed the game sometimes to see if it could recover and the game relaunched immediately, with no performance hit. Stability/Reliability gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

For PC, the controls are pretty standard. WASD moves you around, the mouse aims, F melee attacks, Shift pauses the game (so that you can issue squad commands and use powers), and Spacebar is the general use/run/everything else key. The controls could have been a bit better, such as including a crouch key, common in most other FPS games, rather than forcing me to run like a little girl for cover. The general action spacebar key sometimes got me killed because my character decided to stand up from cover rather than jump over it. Controls get a score of 7 out of 10. They are enough considering how easy ME2 is but they feel primitive.

Performance:

The game runs pretty okay on my 2 year old gaming PC. There were moments, especially during heavy action sequences when the game did lag/skip frames. Most people will be satified with the overall performance of the game, especially since the graphics of the game are PRETTY. Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

My history with this game:

Overall, I like the game. (I’m not as much of a hater as you’d think, but I am critical). I have my opinions on what I wish they would have done differently and I hope they implement some of those changes especially for when we see Mass Effect 3, which is pretty much guaranteed to be made considering how much money this franchise makes.