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Alasdair Duncan's blog
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3:04 PM on 11.25.2011

A week of offline woes

So over the last six days, I've been in the surprisingly warm, north east coast of Scotland helping my parents moving some items out of my grandparent's old house. My grandmother passed away a few years ago and we've moving some large items out of the home and garage before the new owners move in next weekend. My parents actually bought the house next door quite a few years ago when my grandmother was getting rather frail and that's where we've been staying right now. My parents still intend to keep the house as a holiday home and I've been here quite a few time, twice this year already.
Thing is, there's no Internet connection in this house. Before you ask how that's even possible, I'll point out that there's no actual telephone land-line, at least my parents have never bothered having it activated. Frankly in this day and age, your mobile phone has pretty much replaced your house's hard line and considering the only communication I've had has been in the form of a single text message, it's not really surprising.

What's been irritating has been the lack of gaming I've been able to do, made worse by the fact that this is the first time I've been up at the house with a computer of my own. I splurged the last of my savings at the end of September to get a 15.6" Samsung laptop, the first computer I've owned since I left Australia around this time last year. Knowing I was coming up, I installed a few games on Steam to help pass the downtime. I should point out that I've headed up north just a week after a full re-install of Windows 7 so I've been putting games back onto my laptop but mindful of my tendency to play 1 game, rage quit and play another whilst never getting round to actually finishing them, I put about 7 or 8 games onto my laptop knowing that I wouldn't get bored and that I'd have a decent selection of titles. My knowledge of Steam's slightly flaky offline support has meant that I know that I shouldn't expect games to work straight away, so I re-installed my titles from their backups, went into offline mode and made sure they loaded. No problems, so I packed up my bag along with my wired 360 controller, headphones and external backup drive and headed for the Highlands.

First on my list to play was the rather awesome 2D graffiti platformer Sideways, which I'd bought the night before. I was making good progress with the game and I wanted to carry on playing it so I could complete the game. The game itself plays fine but at the end of the level, your scores are updated to the Internet for online leaderboards; I played the next level of Sideways but then the game stalled, unable to connect to the Internet meant I was stuck until I could re-connect to the Internet. This struck me as a big oversight; the game couldn't just detect that Steam was offline therefore leaderboard scores wouldn't need to be updated?

Annoyed with that, I decided to play some more Beat Hazard, specifically the new Ultra mode. I made a huge amount of progress with that game, unlocking level after level and an array of new perks. However, I never unlocked any achievements despite climbing up the ranks. Was this because I was offline?? More than likely as I couldn't even check the achievement list whilst being offline. I know achievements are the be all and end all of gaming, far from it. I use them as a personal benchmark, a way of saying and showing "Yes, I got all I could out of that game" and as a motivator to come back and try again with games I didn't manage to finish. The idea that I'm missing out on those motivators annoys me a bit, can't the game just unlock them in the Steam client whether you're offline?

So, realising I had more backups I thought "I've not got much to do, why not re-install Fallout New Vegas" a game I had ploughed more than 50 hours into, only for crashes and an achingly dull DLC campaign to provoke me into removing the game so that I could come back to it later. Turns out you can't install a backup without being online, even if you only made the backup a few days prior. So no New Vegas for me, probably for the best really.

So there we go; Steam offline mode not as good as online mode. I mean, no shocks there and to be honest, I still was able to play games like Super Meat Boy, Terraria, Beat Hazard and the Binding of Issac with no problems. I know I'm quibbling here, at home I've got a fairly solid Internet connection that's been working a-ok and with that, I can game without any problems. It's still not a 100% connected world yet, and despite the fact that I'm almost totally converted into having all my needs met by the Internet (I'm dreading the amount of unread posts I'll have on Google Reader when I go home) there's still times when you need services to work offline and have them work as well as an online service. I'm not asking for patching and multiplayer options to somehow work offline, but a single player platforming game that's not able to move onto the next level because you've got no Internet connection is a bit much.   read

2:51 PM on 07.27.2011

EPIC games vs apps

So just a few days ago, EPIC games president Mike Capps claimed that mobile app gaming is going to affect the next generation of console games in a negative way:

ďIím more worried that you can get a really good 99 cent game that occupies you for hours and hours on end and how that impacts $60 SKUs..... But I do worry about what it means for the next generation of console games? Are people really going to want to spend $60 on a game?Ē

Well, in short... no. For starters, this isnít the first time Mike has bemoaned the affect of app-orientated gaming but I wonder why the head of the studio behind one of the biggest iOS games ever would worry about mobile gaming. If Iím reading between the lines correctly, I wonder if what Mike is worrying about is spending two-three years making a big budget game, the same type of game that EPIC have been really successful at making (Bulletstorm excepted).

Something that Mike also mentions is that free entertainment is competition to playing AAA titles, so like why play a big budget game when you can watch loads of free or cheap content on your TV or Netflix. When the Playstation launched years ago, Sony UK boss Phil Harrison claimed that Sony werenít in competition against Nintendo and Sega, they were competing with clothes, going out to the pub, going to the football. Sony positioned the Playstation as a lifestyle choice and it really worked. The Playstation crossed over to market that decided to play games instead of things like socialising and spending money on clothes and booze. Sony prospered in the 90ís and 00ís because they realised that they werenít in direct competition with other videogames companies, Sony realised that they had to make their console and games more appealing than TV or books and suchlike.

As for the charge of mobile gaming ďcheapeningĒ big name console titles seems to hit at the point of the value of a AAA game. Again, reading between the lines Mike sounds as if heís worried that gamers wonít feel a big budget game, like Gears Of War wonít be worth $60. Well Mike, maybe itís not. Yes games have been always been expensive, but are all games worth $60 or $40 (or $100 if youíre in Australia)? I realise that value for money can be an abstract concept to a lot of people and thatís without going into the idiotic ďgame length=value for moneyĒ argument. I would ask Mike if he feels that all the games that are released are worth $60 and it is a bad thing that playing cheap and fun i-phone games make me question the value of spending a lot of money on such games? Iíve gotten an amazing amount of value and enjoyment out of games like Fruit Ninja and Plants Vs Zombies as I have with some AAA games that cost more 40 times more. That's not a bad thing, that's just something that digital distribution and portable technology allows me. Not all my compelling videogame experiences are me sitting on a couch or at a desk, staring into a tv or monitor.

Mikeís comments almost make it sound like this is unfair like ďTV is free, so why are people going to pay $60 for GOW3? Argh!Ē Maybe GOW should be cheaper? Maybe you should split GOW into three separate parts, single player, hoard and multiplayer and let consumers buy them separately. Maybe future EPIC games should be episodic. Maybe EPIC should make more iOS games to test out ideas or tech? Maybe itís not my job to reassure Mike Capps that things are going to work out ok. I donít have the answers and I donít claim to know where the videogames industry is heading. What I believe is that making products cheaper and readily available makes them appealing to consumers.

Itís no newsflash that people have limited time to play games. Itís no newsflash that people only have a certain amount of limited income. But laying the game at cheaper, more convenient forms of entertainment as somehow being unfair is a cheap shot. Again, reading between the lines it sounds as if Mike Capps isnít 100% that his latest game is really worth $60.   read

4:39 PM on 07.12.2011

A Re-introuction to me - Ali D (that rhymes!)

So now that Iíve gotten a couple of posts under my belt, I thought Iíd re-introduce myself, as of course youíre all wondering who that handsome, monochrome man is that scowling at you from the top of some PC news on the frontpage. In my past life I was known as Ali D, a nickname Iíve had since I was very young. In Scotland, almost everyone with the name Alasdair is called Ally, but since Internet communication is now more commonplace, most people would pronounce my nickname as ďthe people that aid you in a battleĒ D. At the start of Summer, I put myself forward for the PC internship, working under the steady gaze of Jordan Devore. Got a couple stories under my belt which feels good (one of which was linked to on Twitter by Ken Levine!!) and hopefully plenty more over the Summer.

Iíve been a community member since late 2007 when I first started doing some cblogs. After that I started getting stuck into the craziness that is the forums, to the point where Iím now one of the moderators serving under Uncle Mxy and MOM. Iím hoping to carry on cblogging after my internship is up and Iíve got a good idea for an ongoing series which Iíll have to get started on soon. Other Dtoid fun stuff has led me to PAX Prime 2010 and PAX East 2011 (where my official duty was being Hamzaís bag bitch) and hopefully PAX Prime 2011 (once I get some stuff sorted out).

I'm the guy with the beard.

So going back to the start, I first played videogames on my motherís Commodore 64.... I say ďplayedĒ but I was still fairly young and the only thing I could actually play was Paperboy. Getting to the end of the street and playing the obstacle course was one of gamingís early thrills. After that, my brother and I got an NES at Christmas to share between us. We both pooled all our money that weíd received and ended up with £40 to buy Super Mario Bros. 3 which has remained a firm favourite. I would play NES games round at my cousinís house every Friday night, when my parents went round to see my Aunt and Uncle. He had games like Mega Man and Castlevania which I tried my hardest to get into, but my gaming skills were still well below par.

Papa Burch is gonna smack Ikarus one!

After that, I never had a new console for almost ten years. My parents werenít happy for me or my brother to be playing videogames often, so we got sent out to play in the streets or go round to friendsí houses, where their parents would send us outside as well. In my later teenage years, parents were happier to have us in the house as it meant we werenít drinking alcohol or smoking, not realising that all me and my friends wanted to do was play videogames. So my experiences of the 16 and 32-bit eras were playing (usually mulitplayer) videogames at my friendsí houses and usually having my ass handed to me at Street Fighter 2, Goldeneye, Tekken or Super Mario Kart. So Iíve had this weird upbringing in which I can remember back to the 8-bit era and beyond, yet Iíve got very little hands on experience or connection to that time.

Me and the boss. I can confirm he has amazing hair. And is also one of the nicest people I've ever met.

Eventually, I left school and worked so I could earn some cash and get a Dreamcast, followed by an X-box and then a 360. At the same time, I was studying so I needed a computer, so I got my first desktop PC back in 1998, just in time for Half Life, MDK and Grim Fandango. I stuck with PC gaming as I always found games that I was enjoying on the PC, especially Deus Ex my all time favourite. Iím no PC-elitist, Iíve got a 360 so I can play some console exclusive titles and some multiplayer fun.

Mr Destructoid (aka Mikey) endorses Stevil. I'll get those pics posted one day buddy.

So if I was to list off my favourite games, they would be a rag-tag bunch. Deus Ex is the game thatís most defined how I look at gaming, especially freedom and open endedness in videogames. The Mass Effect franchise is pushing my sci-fi fan buttons every time I play it. GTA: Vice City does a great job of creating a specific time and place, with added Gary Numan. Team Fortress 2 has been my favourite multiplayer game, so much so Iíve had to kick the habit so I can actually complete some other games. Aside from those core titles, Super Mario Bros 3, Jet Set Radio, Fallout 3, Batman Arkham Asylum, Grim Fandango, Plants vs Zombies, Far Cry.... thereís plenty to mention. My taste in games is shockingly mainstream, but I do love the great wealth of indie titles on Steam.

In addition to being "bag bitch", I am to help Pico dish out massages to senior staff.

Outside of gaming Iíve been going to gigs for years (my first gig was R.E.M. at Stirling castle) seeing so many of my favourite bands. I love all types of music, but Iím drawn to down-tempo electronic stuff, Scottish indie rock, instrumental and post-rock, sample based hip hop and 80ís post punk. Check out my Last Fm profile on the right hand side to see if weíre compatible. I spend a fair amount of time reading both novels and comic books; my favourite authors are Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Simon Reynolds and William Gibson. Some of my other favourite things are Mongolian beef, watching Rangers FC, Addidas clothing, vodka, sleeping in and cultivating my facial hair.

I'm drinking. Quelle surprise.

So thatís me. Howíre you doing?   read

9:59 AM on 06.06.2011

E3 Approaches: Treading Water

[Disclaimer: I wrote most of this last week without having internet access in my house, and only getting videogame news via my phone. By now quite a bit of what I've written about is either incorrect or been revealed, but I'm putting it up as it reflects my viewpoint mid-last week]

So with each passing day weíre seeing more and more pre-E3 announcements. As Iím typing most of this, thereís been a glut of NGP info today and Iím sure there will be more to come before Tuesday. However, as E3 comes closer, I get a feeling that there wonít be any big steps forward. Weíre in the 6th year of the current generation of home consoles and it just looks like Microsoft and Sony are prepared to continue on their current path of convincing us that motion controls have something that arenít going away. Nintendo are launching an HD console years after the other big two. Then thereís the two handhelds, the still to be released Sony NGP and the just-launched Nintendo 3DS, both of which I feel have uncertain futures in the handheld market with competition from smart phones.

The big announcement this year, will be the official reveal of Nintendoís new console which could either be a big moment n this generation of consoles or it could be revealed as simply a stop gap until the next big leap in hardware. Right now, the Wiiís sales are slowing, so itís interesting to see that Nintendo are the first big company who are seemingly reacting to the market no longer showing as much interest in their console as they did earlier in itís lifecycle. With the rumoured specs being either as powerful or even more powerful that the Sony and Microsoftís consoles, the new console is appealing in theory. The thing thatís been disappointing to me is the claims that this new console will attract the hardcore gamer back to the Nintendo fold. Iíd question if the truly hardcore gamer ever did give up on Nintendo, after all surely a hardcore gamer would still be compelled by the excellent first party titles and the small selection of quality third party titles. So, is the promise of ďitís just the Wii again but in HDĒ that will entice the hardcore gamer? I think Nintendo have to do better than that, after all the lack of HD graphics didnít hurt the Mario Galaxy games, or Kirbyís Epic Yarn. I think Nintendo needs to work on their online service, Virtual Console range and attracting more third party support for Project Cafť to succeed.

The interesting thing about Nintendoís position in the market is that they had success with the Wii because it did something different from Sony and Microsoftís consoles; it appealed to people who werenít interested in videogames before. My mum and dad bought one; my aunts and uncles have one; female friends who never played videogames before bought one. They didnít care if it was deemed ďless powerfulĒ or ďnot as hardcoreĒ as the X-box 360 or PS3. They had no interest in playing online shooters or 100 hour long J-RPGs. And the die-hard Nintendo fans that complained about Nintendo losing their way still went out and bought one because they were cheap and they still wanted to play the latest Mario, Metroid and Zelda games. I think that Nintendo do need a console that provides more ďhardcore gamesĒ than the Wii did, but they should still appeal to the casual market. I think that the console landscape needs variety; as MS and Sony have started to make inroads into the casual market with their motion controllers, I feel weíre in danger of having a homogenous console market, one that has three consoles trying to appeal to all demographics but none of them really grasping the needs and wants of each type of gamer and nothing really setting them apart.

Thereís also the question of the 3DS, which has under-performed sales wise slightly against expectations. That could be blamed on a fairly lacklustre line-up of launch titles, but then again, most new hardware launches arenít served very well by their first titles and havenít been for a few years now. So is the problem the price? Possibly, but I think the bigger factor is the handheld gaming sector has shifted to smart phones in a big way. Of course there will always be a place for handheld systems, but I do think that when you look at the value of a smart phone compared to a handheld, then it will be difficulty for Nintendo and Sony to compete. I think if Nintendo are going to come close to the sales of the DS (which would be an achievement, I think), then theyíre going to have to announce some big titles that will convince the people who havenít shelled out on a 3DS that they need one. Of course you know that Nintendo are going to come out with a Pokemon and Mario Kart game, but a Professor Layton game using the 3D or augmented reality functions would be an eye catcher and something that would attract casual DS gamers (like my mum) to consider getting a 3DS.

So if the 3DS needs games and is being held back by its price, then how is the NGP going to succeed? You know Sony is going to price the NGP higher than the 3DS, but how much higher? The NGP is a great looking bit of kit with some serious specs, but again, are people going to want to spend potential $400 on a new handheld system? I worry that Sony are going to replicate the problems they had with the PSP, giving gamers a console like experience on a handheld, but one that you feel youíd rather be playing on a regular home console at the same time. Again, there needs to be games or at least one killer app that people can see in action and say ďYeah, I want that system so I can play that gameĒ.

Sony and Microsoft both launched their motion controllers at last yearís E3, with Kinnect having the edge over Sonyís Move controllers, sales wise anyway. Both launched with near identi-kit range of Wii-knock offs, but Sony would at least put Move support into the new SOCOM and Killzone games. But both companies need to give consumers to pick up their motion controllers and that means games, or with Kinnect, a higher degree of functionality with media apps on the 360. Without new consoles, Sony and Microsoft are relying on Move and Kinnect to make money and expand their traditional audience into the casual markets. But then again, now the initial hype has subsided, what is supposed to attract customers to these new controllers? I feel Microsoft and Sony have to announce more Kinnect and Move titles, because they will feel that thereís still a big chunk of the casual markets, or Nintendoís market, that they can poach.

So, kind of pessimistic stuff then. Microsoft and Sony trying to convince us to buy Kinnect and Move respectively, Nintendo are launching a console that is going to try and win over the hardcore gamer but at the risk of possibly losing their casual market share, Sony and Nintendo trying to find a place for their new systems in a mobile market that seems to be moving away from owning a dedicated hand held. Itís going to be a continuation of what we saw last year, with Nintendo the only company showing some risky behaviour with their Project Cafť console.

The up shot is, I feel games have to take centre stage at this E3. The thing that Nintendo and Sony need to convince people to buy their new handhelds is games; Kinnect and Move sceptics need games to convince them to buy into Microsoft and Sonyís new motion controllers. And Nintendo needs a good line-up of games to convince the supposed hardcore gamers that theyíll need their new console and that itís not just a too-little-too-late HD catch up. Considering the slim amount of releases slated for 2012 and the fairly large amount of pre-E3 announcements weíve had so far (as I finish typing this, Konami have announced their HD remake releases), I think weíre in for a bumper show when it comes to actual future videogame releases. Considering how little we know about what games are coming out in 2012, Iím hoping E3 delivers a wide range exciting titles that are going to appeal to both hardcore and casual gamers. After all, videogames is why we buy this shiny hardware and without great titles, no one is going to buy any new hardware.   read

8:46 AM on 04.24.2011

Aaamaazing: Rapture Revealed

Iíll be the first to admit, Iím a videogame news junkie; even when it comes to either titles or systems I donít own. Part of the downside of this is that Iím often not surprised when I actually play a game because thereís a nagging feeling I know what Iím getting into. Usually it starts off with a big reveal story, outlining the developer, some basic story info and usually some gameplay hook. Then the publishers will tease out some more information about the game, either through some previews, trailers or interviews. By the time a game comes out, weíve already consumed a heck of a lot of information about what the game is (at least in our minds) and what we can expect. Itís gotten to the point that Iíve actually started going on self-imposed media blackouts when it comes to games that I know Iím definitely going to play, but I donít want anything spoilt for me. So, like Mass Effect 3 and Deus Ex Human Revolution are must-plays for me, but Iím no longer going to gobble up all the information I can before I play them.

So for a game to really grab me and show me something that captivates me is sadly rare nowadays. In the case of Bioshock, I read lots of articles about it as it really captured my imagination; the idea of an art-deco city at the bottom of the ocean struck me as really unique setting and the idea of combining plasmids with regular weapons seemed like an interesting way to play an FPS. It even got to the point where I played System Shock 2 just before the release of Bioshock, in order to understand the comparisons between the two and to figure out if Bioshock was really itís ďspiritual successorĒ.

Luckily, my brother in law at the time, was working for Irrational games in Canberra, Australia. He emailed me at work one day asking if I was interested in a dayís unpaid, focus testing for Bioshock. Now this was about 2 months before the gameís release, so I jumped at the chance. I went to their fairly small studios in the city and found myself with some a few other guys playing Bioshock for about 6 hours. Headphones on...... keyboard and mouse all good....... here we go.....

Of course Bioshock starts over with the main character sitting on a plane, smoking a cigarette whilst he remembers some words of wisdom from his parents. Next thing heís swimming for his life as the wreckage of the plane sinks around him. Gasping for air, you have to guide him to a nearby lighthouse that seems to be your only safe option. Once out of the water, you go inside and find the lighthouse is an ornate housing for a diving bell, one thatís going to take you to a place you couldnít imagine.

Now as I said earlier, Rapture itself was one of the reasons I was interested in playing Bioshock, but the whole opening sequence was masterful. With the lighthouse slowly illuminating itís interior to show the tenants of Raptureís ideology, to the strains of ďInto The SeaĒ, to the introductory film where Andrew Ryan makes his politics clear, spitting his defiance at the forces that govern the world above the waves. As the music reaches itís crescendo the screen moves away and presents to you the impossible..... Rapture.

Again, even though I thought I knew what I was in for, I was still taken aback at the scene, to the point where I actually got goosebumps. Passing overhead and seeing the sheer scale of what was in front of me was amazing, to the extent that I almost didnít hear anymore of Ryanís proud boasts. I caught a glimpse of a Big Daddy prowling a glass corridor, another un-identified figure welding a metal strut... there was even a big frigginí whale swimming between these undersea skyscrapers. Imagine what it would be like to live in a place were a whale could swim by your bedroom window. Eventually your trip finishes and you realise the horror youíve stumbled into, as a crazed splicer guts what your would be rescuer.


Of course, the game was amazing, all the more so as I was playing it before most people got their hands on it, so I was experiencing it raw and unfiltered. I played up to Arcadia, so I managed to avoid the big reveal and the final chapters, but I had a sense of how good Bioshock was. That opening will always be something that sticks in my mind about how you open a game: expansive, captivating and enthralling. The beginning of Bioshock is all of these and more.   read

7:27 AM on 04.03.2011

Happy Hamzahah!

Ladies and Gentlemen, let's all look to the seas and wish our part man, part-shark, all badass Community manager a very happy birthday!




5:39 PM on 03.23.2011

Technical Difficulties: Why am I not getting better at games?

So after an initial run through of the fairly average Severed DLC for Dead Space 2, I thought to myself ďYeah, Iím going to try this on the Zealot difficultyĒ (Zealot being one harder than normal). Wow, that was a mistake; Severed is composed of two chapters that donít really test you too much on Normal difficulty, but I found myself repeatedly dying at the encounter with multiple enemies. With my tail tucked between my legs, I restarted Servered on easy purely to get some achievements, but the initial failure stuck with me. Iíve been playing videogames for at least two thirds of my life by now, so why am I still not actually good at them?

Now thereís many ways that you can judge your skills at videogames; you can look at how long it takes you to complete a game; compare gamerscore and achievements/trophies; are you top of the table in mulitplayer matches; do you always have to ramp up the difficulty level in games? Looking at all of these, I think itís clear that Iím not actually very good at videogames. I lack certain skills and personality traits that I feel have stopped me from being able to challenge myself to be better, but why?

Frustration is the main one for a few reasons: back in the day, when there was no internet and I couldnít get a gaming magazine to look at the cheat section, if I got stuck at part of a game, I was stuck there forever. I know Iím not the sharpest tool in the box and my puzzle skills are woeful (look at my progress in the first Professor Layton game and weep), so when a game poses me a mental challenge that I canít overcome, I bail. I just leave the game and move onto something else. Itís not just mental challenges; with a lot of skill based game, there comes a point where I feel Iíve done all I can to overcome a challenge but I still canít get over that hurdle. Iím thinking about games like Jet Set Radio or skate, both of which I enjoyed, but games where I seemed to be continually banging my head against a glass ceiling. There were just bits that I couldnít get past no matter how many times I tried, no matter how often I simply put the game away and came back to it at a later date, I just couldnít finish them off.

My fondness for certain genres is also a problem. To be honest, I pretty much play shooter/RPG hybrids (Deus Ex, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 etc etc) and various adventure games (Portal, Assassinís Creed, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space etc etc). Not the widest variety Iím sure youíll agree. Okay, I do dip into other genres, like the recent Telltale adventure games and the downloadable Double Fine games), but I donít touch either sports or fighting games, RTS or JRPGs or any MMOs. Playing these specific genres is no way to gain general gaming skills. Now that I think about it, surely playing games like Starcraft 2, Super Meat Boy or Lost Odyssey would help me become more proficient at micro-management, speed up my reactions and give me a better tactical mindset?

The thing is, Iím not even that good at the games I do play. Iíll normally a game on Normal, but Iíll rarely bump the difficulty up. Surely I could at least bump up the difficulty up in some of the games Iím at least fairly proficient in. I think in my mind, the difficulty level is tied to progress; why make things (artificially) harder for myself and limit my chances of progression and actually finishing the game? But surely playing at a harder difficulty would benefit me? I mean, I would appreciate the challenge and finishing a game on a harder difficulty would be an achievement worth savouring.

So whatís the answer? How do I (at least in my own mind) become a better gamer? As far as I can see, thereís three options?

1. Man the fuck up and finish the games you canít complete. I mean, other people can finish them right, so why shouldnít I? If I get to a point where I canít seem to progress, I need to just keep trying and trying until I through it.

2. Play a more diverse range of games: it canít hurt., can it? I mean I bought Chrono Trigger and The World Ends With You but have hardly touched them because Iím not a fan of JRPGs. I need to bite the bullet and play them and play them and play them all the way through.

3. Pick some games and get good at them: as I mentioned, Iím not actually that good at the games I do play, so I feel I need to pick a title and get really good at it. I was semi-decent at Team Fortress 2 for a while, coming on top of the charts for a few matches on the servers I played on. But as with life, no matter how good you get, thereís always plenty of people who are far better than you. So hereís my goal; get an awesome new PC rig this year, get Battlefield 3 when it comes out and commit to the multiplayer. I want to get really good at it, not at the sake of playing single player games

So guys and gals, what díyou think? Are there things I could be doing to help me become a better gamer?   read

3:40 PM on 02.18.2011

Tips on how to beat your backlog*

*thatís not a euphanism

So this year, Iíve decided to make a concentrated effort to play more games and significantly reduce my backlog of games. Now moving from Australia back to Scotland has meant that my X-box 360 collection has shrunk to a total of two games. However, my Steam collection is of course still intact and frankly fucking huge. Some loose spending during the annual sales has left me with a frankly overwhelming backlog of games, some of which have never been touched. So, after a fairly decent start Iíve decided to outline some tips that are helping me beat my backlog. This isnít ďAli Dís guide to how you should all play gamesĒ but just ideas that I find are helping me play, enjoy and finish titles that Iíve bought.

1. Stick to normal

Beating my backlog has been about finishing games, not about setting myself an unreasonable challenge. Iím not very good at videogames, so jumping into a game on hard mode or higher is setting myself up for frustration and failure. Iím not suggesting that everyone do that, if youíre good at a genre of game like FPS or action games, then going straight into hard probably isnít going to trouble you. Some games will also let you bump the difficulty up mid-game, so if a game is insultingly easy to you, then thereís no reason not to give yourself a challenge.

The bottom line here is getting games completed; thereís nothing to stop you going back and playing the game again on a harder setting. No oneís gonna be all over you, claiming the validity of you only finishing a game on normal. And if they are, theyíre a dick.

2. Know your weaknesses

As I said above, Iím not good at videogames but thereís games that I just suck at. As such, Iím not going to play them. As happy as I am to see Marvel Vs Capcom 3 come out, Iím gonna suck at it. Iím gonna have my ass handed to me by that game so hard, I wouldnít be able to sit down. So Iím gonna give it a miss. Now, thereís reasons why I would buy it, like if I had friends and they would come round to my place, MvC3 would be a great game to bust out and have some fun with. Same with things like Rock Band, NBA Jam or You Donít Know Jack, but they wouldnít necessarily be Backlog games; theyíd be actual social games, titles you play when youíve got friends round.

So as much as Iíd like to be an all round gamer and play all the acclaimed titles that come out, I know that thereís some Iím just going to suck at and not complete and as such, Iím gonna have to give them a miss.

3. Resist temptation

The reason Iíve got such a big backlog can be attributed to one thing: Steam Sales. As a Scotsman, the idea of being tight with my money is bred into me, but stepping back for a moment, surely spending money on games I donít play is stupid. So from here on in, Iím resisting Steam sales. This week, thereís been a Square Enix daily sale, with a new game on offer each day. These titles have looked pretty appealing, but Iíve not bought any; with my bank account the way it is, spending £5 on Just Cause 2, no matter the quality of the game, would be stupid if Iím not going to get around to playing it. The thing with Steam is that the titles arenít going to disappear and you know that these games are gonna go on special offer at some point, reduced to some crazy price. Hold on until your backlog is less imposing, then make the jump.

Also, take care with pre-orders and special offers; I know Iíve bought plenty of games because itís looked interesting and I can save a few quid if I purchase beforehand. Madness. Wait until itís out, check reviews and ask yourself are you really going to play this game. TF2 hats and pre-order savings be dammed. Something else that Iíve found helpful with Steam is that Iím not installing all the games I have; that just leads to too many distractions. Right now, Iím using my parentís Mac to play a few games, but Iíve only installed the ones that Iím actually going to play. Having a library of over 100 games a click away, doesnít help me focus on the task at hand.

4. Donít ignore your favourites

For all the catching up I intend to do from previous years titles, thereís a load of games coming out this year that Iím really pumped for: Portal 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mass Effect 3, LA Noire, Batman: Arkham City.... the list of AAA titles that Iím anxiously awaiting is pretty big and to be honest, Iím snapping those games up on launch day. Surely this is anathema to the idea of clearing your backlog, but ignoring the prize picks of the videogaming year isnít a fun option.

Yes, get the games that youíre excited about, but work them into your schedule. Find out the release date and use that as a deadline to finish a title on your backlog. We all know that the middle of the year is a dry period in the run-up to the usual October madness, so use this time as your attack on your Backlog. And when you do buy your earely anticipated, AAA title, then actually finish it. You know if itís good youíll return again.

5. Trim the fat

Looking at my backlog, I realised that thereís lot of games I just donít want to play. Thereís some loose purchases, gifts from well meaning friends (I had someone gift me two games and said ďIíve never really played these, so they might be crapĒ), games that held promise but never delivered...

Well, Iím striking them from the list. Itís harsh, but I probably donít need God knows how many indie puzzle games on my list, taunting my lack of intellect with their uncompleted status. Iím sticking to games with a story or at least an ending, so that I can get a sense of closure when I play them. I will come back to these puzzle games, but theyíre not what Iím looking to finish here. Same with gifted titles; my friends and I rather awkwardly gifted each other titles for Christmas and birthdays without really thinking about whether we would all like them or not.

Bottom line again is, if youíre never really going to give a videogame a proper go, then strike it from the list. At lest for now...

6. Forget multiplayer

It might be hard, but Iíve shaken my Team Fortress 2 addiction. Ok, it took moving to a different country without access to my favourite servers and *cough*...... no actual PC to play on, but Iím not starting up again. Not for casual play anyway, there will be no more popping on for an hour and watching an entire night disappear. This too might alter what youíre going to buy, as playing a Call Of Duty game just for the single player doesnít seem like good value.

However, donít overlook the social aspects; jumping into a regular Friday Night Fight session with your Dtoid buddies is always fun and itís something I feel I should be making more time for. But donít let it stop your momentum in finishing your single player games.

So there we go, hereís the ideas that Iím trying to stick with to finish more games. Iím using my Backoggery as a tool to mark down my progress. Iím also using a list on my Giant Bomb profile to show what Iíve completed so far. In 2010 I only played 10 games to completetion. In 2011 so far, Iím up to 6. Iím setting myself a target of playing and finishing at least 20 titles this year and reducing my Backlog of uncompleted games from 64 % to around 50%. Now bear in mind, I donít have an actual PC to play titles on, but Iím hoping to remedy that soon. Wish me luck, and remember, weíre all counting on you.   read

3:50 PM on 02.15.2011

Groundhog Day - GTA: Vice City

It takes something special for me to return to a game; considering I actually finish so few of them, having a game I will play more than once is actually a rarity. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a game Iíve completed on numerous occasions, so returning to it always brings back welcome experience. But why Vice City and not the other games that Iíve managed to finish. Why not Half Life, Grim Fandango, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion or Thief: Deadly Shadows? These are all great games and certainly titles that Iíve returned to on more than one occasion, but Vice City is always my go-to title.

I know with a lot of people, there is an element of re-discovery with their Groundhog Day title, an idea that thereís still more to discover about the game, whether itís exploring more of the gameís world and levels or whether itís new mechanics, classes or skills to use. With me and Vice City, thatís not the case. I practically know almost every inch of that game off by heart. My usual compulsion in any open world game is to explore and get familiar with the area. With Vice City, as long as youíre careful with the cops, youíre free to explore at least the first island straight off the bat with no hassles and eventually, the second one too. So at least by my third playthrough, I was almost totally familiar with Vice City, all itís areas and almost all of itís secrets. Returning to the game now, thereís a sense of coming back home or visiting a favourite holiday destination.

Itís not just the Vice City, the place itself thatís familiar to me, the whole structure of the game feels second nature by me. What I like is that taking down diminutive, drug-lord Diaz is only the mid point in the game; after that Vice City opens up and thereís the opportunity to build up Tommyís criminal empire by buying businesses and then completing the jobs needed to have them generate cashflow. Iíve even got my preferred order of purchasing properties; do the Boat yard and then the Ice-cream delivery company first, as the have a single, simple mission to do. Leave the print works and the bank job until last, as theyíre the hardest ones. Oh, and leave the Cuban and Haitian missions alone until youíve got most of the game complete; having pissed of Haitian gangsters indiscriminately shooting at you, makes it harder to deliver those drugs from your ice-cream truck.

Then thereís the optional stuff; personally I like to get the 100 taxi missions done and the pizza deliveries done first up. That way youíll have 150 health and taxi hydraulics, which make the taxis a great getaway vehicle. As soon as the rest of the island opens up, I collect the rest of the hidden packages so I always have a chopper at my disposal and plenty of weapons at hand.So I know the game world and I know all the best ways to play so that the game isnít really a challenge, so why come back to it all the time?

For me, GTA: Vice City is the videogaming equivalent of comfort food; itís like a baked potato with chilli, or a big bacon sandwich. Itís a simple pleasure that Iíve had many times in my life, but itís always good, no matter when or where. Despite all my hours of playing it, Vice City is still a lengthy game, I donít just blaze through it in a matter of hours and I even still watch all the cutscenes. And Vice City is just a place I love spending time in; Iíve said it before but bombing down the strip on a superbike, past all the neon lights, with ďCarsĒ by Gary Numan on the radio, is one of gamingís simple joys for me. Thereís even some sly Scottish humour slipped in by developer Rockstar, whether itís the drummer from Love Fist wearing a kilt and an Argentina top to the parody of Gap being called Gash.

GTA: Vice City is as familiar and comforting as coming home after a long vacation. At a time in my life, where my actually ability to finish a game has become almost laughable and my attention wanders as much as a hyperactive 6 year old at Disney Land, Vice City always pulls me in. Despite being less than a decade old, time has not aged it: like my other constants in life, like The Big Lebowski or DJ Shadowís Endtroducing, it still manages to be fresh and hold up after repeated playthroughs, Vice Cityís sunny mix of hazy nostalgia and familiar gameplay will always keep me coming back.   read

11:06 AM on 01.19.2011

In defence of Mass Effect 2 (not that it needs it)

After reading a bunch of 2010 Game Of The Year lists, one thing was clear; people really enjoyed Mass Effect 2 (I was one of them), but there was one thing that stuck out amidst the praise. There were numerous comments complaining that Mass Effect 2 should not have been so highly regarded, because it wasnít actually an RPG, it was merely a shooter. This seems like an odd notion, as I canít figure whether or not the complaints are about the gameís mechanics not being the same as the first Mass Effect, or if itís more to do with the game wasnít ďRPG enoughĒ to be called one.

For those that havenít played it, Mass Effect 2 has many fundamental differences between the first game and the sequel. The main change is the actual combat; Mass Effect 2 is much more of a competent third person shooter than the original. That is probably the big one; from my own personal experience, the weapons felt ďmeatierĒ and had more weight to them, the squad powers seemed more accessible and actually seemed vital to the combat sections. This also tied into the skills system, which had been seriously pruned. Hereís a screenshot of the skills screen from the original Mass Effect:

And hereís one from Mass Effect 2:

Kinda different then. Well, ME2 went and reduced the amount of skills you had, but again my feeling was this was an improvement. The first Mass Effect game had a multitude of skills, but I have to admit, how some of them were implemented. This also extended to the skills your teammates had; I would frequently upgrade Taliís Electronics skill, but there were times in the game that I couldnít unlock a probe or something because my ďElectronics skill was too lowĒ, but did that also apply to my team mates? In Mass Effect you could upgrade skills by 12 levels, unlocking new skills for you to upgrade. The problem was that it was never clear how much a skill had to be upgraded for it to be useful; there were no messages like ďMust be level 6 to useĒ or suchlike. And this fed into the combat: was I killing Geth easier because I upgraded my shotgun skill or was it down to the fact I was using a different shotgun with a different ammo type. It all felt intangible in Mass Effect, like applying things like combat mods and differing ammo types were almost like a placebo, only making a difference in my mind and not actually in the game. ME2 stripped down the skills to almost all combat only skills, so therefore making more of an actual impact; upgrade a skill and you could see the difference it made in game.

Lastly, the inventory: almost completely done away with. I canít speak for everyone, but each time I played Mass Effect I ended up with a huge amount of equipment which I hardly used. Selling it all unlocked the Spectre gear which was the best in the game and made almost all the other gear worthless. ME2 got rid of the inventory and focused the game more; I spent less time selling stuff (and trying to remember who needed what) and more time actually playing. There were plenty of other changes, but these three are the RPG elements that I think have been singled out as the things that changed in the sequel which was to Mass Effect 2ís detriment.

Whilst itís completely understandable why people didnít like the changes, I have to look at what I liked about Mass Effect and why the changes didnít alienate me from Mass Effect 2. With the original Mass Effect I enjoyed the story, the characters and the universe that Bioware built. When it came to the sequel, I would have accepted more of the same when it came to the gameplay. Yes, even the Mako sequences which never really bothered me that much. All I was really expecting was a continuation of the Mass Effect story and hopefully new characters and settings to enjoy. What I got were fundamental changes to the gameplay mechanics which I felt improved the Mass Effect franchise considerably.

So, is Mass Effect 2 an RPG or not? It depends what you look for in an RPG; if youíre looking for stats, inventory and dice rolls in the background to determine your effectiveness. If thatís the case, I can see why Mass Effect 2 is disappointing. If, like me, you play an RPG because of itís characters and the world youíre in, and the way you make your mark on both of them, then Mass Effect 2 is a great game. But if you said to me ďI donít like Mass Effect 2, itís more of a shooter than an RPG and it got rid of the stuff I liked from the firstĒ then thatís fine, I get it. Mass Effect 2 is not perfect by any means, thereís still things Iíd like to see improved in ME3.

But it seems like weíre at a point where thereís a feeling that a game can be diminished or embellished (although itís normally the former) on how we put that game in a genre or our own ideas of what it should be. Is it an RPG or is it a shooter? Is it a ďHollywood videogameĒ (something like Uncharted) or is it a ďgame-gameĒ (something like Super Meat Boy). In the end, I feel like weíre trying to almost talk ourselves out of actually enjoying videogames or admitting how much we like them. Weíre letting nomenclature dictate our thoughts on a game, instead of just letting the gameís strenghts and weaknesses inform our views. If you donít like a game, thatís fine, nothing wrong with that. If you donít like a game because of the controls, story or something else, then again, thatís perfectly fine. If you donít like a game because itís been called and RPG and you donít think it is, then does it really matter?   read

3:47 PM on 01.07.2011

2010 sucked because we're blind to the wonders around us

Itís an interesting concept that an entire year sucked for gaming; especially after having the last few years branded ďthe best year in gaming since ****!Ē which seemed to have started in either 2006 or 2007. Looking back at a year, you can look back at your actual experiences good or bad, rather than simply looking forward

Letís face it; gamers can talk and act like spoilt, whinny brats sometimes. Actually, they sound like that most of the time. But why? I mean, isnít there enough great games out there that youíre enjoying? Arenít all genres still being catered for, each platform still having standout games being released on it? Of course there are, but no we gamers have to complain that things were/will be better either back in the past or in the future when there is nothing but good games and everyone was/is happy.

Look at this year, hereís what we had:

Mass Effect 2 showing that a developer doesnít need to churn out more of the same to please the fans. They can actually improve and change a franchise half way through, to make it better.

Criterion Games made a Need For Speed Game that people actually gave a crap about. How long since most of you even wanted to play a NFS game?

Duke Freakiní Nukem was actually confirmed and I even got to play it! Unthinkable this time last year. We also got Elder Scrolls V, a Mortal Kombat reboot and Marvel Vs Capcom 3 confirmed. Oh and the 3DS was revealed to actually work and to have a really good range of games announced.

Indie games continue to shine: Super Meat Boy and Limbo found themselves on many GOTY lists and stood shoulder to shoulder with big budget triple A titles. Mincecraft seemed to come from nowhere and pretty much became the PC game of the year. And it was made by 1 dude. Developers all over the world have to be looking at Minecraft and asking, ďHow did we not come up with that?Ē Then there were games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and VVVVV that showed the downloadable space is really vibrant.

Super Mario Galaxy 2, Kirbyís Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns all showed that despite what hardcore gamers may think, Nintendo still has a really impressive first party lineup.

Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood showed that a single player game can be released with multiplayer and not sacrifice single player quality. Considering how derided the first game was, to see the franchise really shine this year was an example of developers deserving to keep working on a series and improve on it.

Red Dead Redemption: what was basically written off as ďGTA with horsesĒ ended up winning a number of GOTY awards. Rockstar outdide themselves, crafting a great story that eulogised the old West.

PC Gaming: along with Minecraft, we had Starcraft 2 providing possibly the best multiplayer experience of the year, Civilization V showed you could have tactical depth as well as accessibility and WoW: Cataclysm showed why Blizzardís MMO is still king. Even Valve chipped in, launching Steam for the Mac, experimenting by releasing the free Alien Swarm and introducing the user-created marketplace for TF2.

Publishers showing some smarts by releasing games all throughout the year and kicking it all off with the amazing Bayonetta.

Capcom showing that thereís a place for cheap, stand-alone DLC games, with the Dead Rising Case series. This is something that Iím keen to see work.

Double Fine redeeming themselves after Brutal Legend with the charming and fun Costume Quest and committing to more downloadable games. Speaking of success in the downloadable space, Lara Croft and The Guardian Of Light was the most critically successful Tomb Raider game of recent years, showing you can take an established character and franchise and put them into an unfamiliar space and still have it work with the right amount of ingenuity and talent.

All this and more happened. Yes, of course there were disappointments, there always are but given time the good games will always be remembered more than the let downs. And the best thing about 2010? The fact that 2011 might turn out even better.   read

10:44 AM on 12.28.2010

My Games Of The Year

So 2010 has almost passed, which is a relief. Itís been a year of highs (going to PAX in September and meeting my Dtoid buddies for the first time and having an awesome time) to agonising lows (upheaval in my personal life). As such, gaming took a bit of a backseat for a large portion of the year. I did play and complete enough games to form a top 5 list, but a significant portion of the year was spent finishing games from 2009 that I never managed to finish off (hello Borderlands and Torchlight). This will probably be the case for 2011, as I bought a bunch of big games on Steam (Mafia 2, Fallout: New Vegas and Dead Rising 2) only to find myself without a PC at the end of the year.

So, anyway, hereís my list of my top 4 games of the 2010. Yes, thatís not a lot, but IĒm only putting something down here if I completed it and really enjoyed it. If thereís some obvious, glaring omission from the list, then assume I havenít played it, because I probably havenít.

Enslaved: Odyssey To The West

Running up to the launch of the game, I felt that this title was being talked about only due to itís performance capture directed by Andy Serkis, itís story written by Alex Garland and itís soundtrack by Nitin Sawhney. Enslaved is more than itís famous elements put together; itís a lush verdant looking game, the perfect counter point to the bleached radioactive landscapes of the Fallout games. Playing as escaped slave Monkey, you have to traverse a variety of locals keeping safe another former slave, Trip, who you are bonded to via a helmet. Put it simply, you die, she dies.

To Enslavedís credit, despite the game being essentially a giant escort mission, Trip never hampers you or doesnít pull her weight in combat. In tricky situations, she hangs back waiting for you do finish in combat or for you to solve a fairly rudimentary puzzle. Thereís none of the Resident Evil 5 dodgy AI being more of a hindrance than a help. The platforming is fluid and feels natural. Handholds and ledges that you can interact with glow to make the traversal fast and fluid. Itís not like Assassinís Creed where climbing up a structure takes time and precise movements. Monkey is much more agile and able to clamber up huge structures in a matter of seconds.

Despite a slightly confusing and abrupt ending, Enslaved: Odyssey To The West offered just what I was wanting at the time; a linear story driven game that would give me some great characters, compelling gameplay and a complete experience.

Fruit Ninja

In August, my dad gave me his old i-phone, an original model 3G. This was pretty handy as Iíd just been given $40 worth of i-tunes vouchers, so I plunged headfirst into the app store and loaded up on some games. Despite the obvious lure of Cut the Rope and Angry Birds, it was Fruit Ninja that drew me into my i-phone as a gaming device. Fruit Ninja is a very simple game to play; fruit is thrown up from the bottom of the screen and you simply swipe your finger across the screen to cut the fruit as if you were wielding a sword. Slice 3 or more fruit and you get bonus points. You get three lives, which are lost if any fruit drop without being cut and youíll lose all your lives if you slice a bomb. And thatís it!

Whatís compelling about Fruit Ninja is that itís not a puzzle game, which is a godsend for me being not that smart, but a game based on reaction speed and chaining combos together. Trying to maximise your combo is tense as leaving fruit hanging there is so tempting but knowing that you need to just hold off for half a second to guarantee your combo is tense stuff. Fruit Ninja has also been updated with two new modes; a Zen mode where there are no bombs or lives and you just need to the best score you can in 90 seconds. Arcade Mode is similar but offers Bonus Bananas that can either slow the game down, give you double points or unleash a fruit frenzy. Youíre going for the highest score possible in 60 seconds and itís this mode that gives you the most out of your combos (top score of 725 bitches!). Thereís a host of unlockables and achievements and the simple gameplay has meant Iíve played more of this game than any other handheld title.

Costume Quest

Thankfully at the end of the year, my brother gave me a loan of his Xbox 360 (heís busy with Gran Turismo 5) and the first thing I did was get a couple of downloadable games. Costume Quest had been a game Iíd wanted to try for a while, after itís Halloween isnít as big a thing in the UK as it is in the US, but Costume Quest definitely harks back to (not entirely accurate) childhood memories. I did dress up as Optimus Prime one year for Halloween, so taking control of Reynard in his robot costume hunting after his sister Greta was fun from the get go.

Costume Quest offered me something that Iíve become really keen on; fairly short games, no grind and simple to learn mechanics. Itís amazing how streamlined an RPG is when you cut out a lot of the experience grinding you have to do, but the game never lacked things to do. Collecting costumes, Battle cards, the random battles.... Costume Quest is a bite sized RPG, full or charm and frustration free. Experienced RPG players arenít going to get a lot out of Costume Quest; if youíve played Dragon Age or any recent JRPG then this will appear really lightweight. And whilst thereís not a great deal of tactical depth, there still is a challenge picking your partyís costumes and perks. Each costume you wear has a critical ability, that either unleashes a devastating attack or a healing/protection spell. Have too many attack costumes equipped and you will get stuck; balancing is key here.

Whilst Costume Quest isnít the most in depth, hardcore game, it makes it up by being charming and approachable. Iíve put plenty of time into this game and felt I got my moneyís worth. As I said at the top there, Iíd like to play more games like this. Small, contained experiences that I donít have to devote large amounts of time on. More downloadable games from Double Fine is a-ok with me.

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect was a game I really enjoyed despite itís flaws. After a few playthroughs, I though ďI donít see what Bioware can do to make this better,Ē but it was only after playing Mass Effect 2 that I saw the first gameís flaws. The Mako? An unnecessary hassle. The RPG component? Unwieldy at best and seemingly having no impact on the gameplay. Inventory? Endlessly cluttered with a variety of guns, ammo and mods that were never used and just sold. Mass Effect 2 stripped all that away and focused on the reason I play a shooter/RPG hybrid; the mechanics and the story.

Mass Effect 2ís improvements are obvious from the first sequence; this is a game where characters can and will die under your command. The choice you have to make in the original Mass Effect was pushed on you and you were unable to do anything about the circumstances. Mass Effect 2 gave you more characters to manage but a feeling of genuine control over their outcome. The crew you would eventually recruit was larger than the first game and much more interesting; Mordin the Salarian scientist was the most interesting with his special forces background and his passion for musicals. Legion, the rogue Geth was a highlight too especially as he helped make the Geth more than just robotic bad guys.

The function to import your save game was something that may have seemed gimmicky at first, but after playing Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 in quick succession I found there were so many little things in Mass Effect 2 that referenced my previous save game. Re-occurring characters, references to missions from the first game. The big changes were welcome too; seeing Wrex as the leader of a tribe of Krogan was just awesome. But there were improvements in every area.

The new Normandy was a distinct improvement from the first game (fish tank!), the shooting felt more responsive, the game called for using your squadís special abilities more, the counter that showed you your percentage process throughout all the systems..... just a raft of improvements that made a franchise that was already one of my favourites into something really special. It left me desperate to play Mass Effect 3 and see this story that Iíve shaped through two games come to itís conclusion.   read

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