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Happy N7 day everyone! The day that celebrates the brave human men and women of the N7, Earth's foremost defense against extraterrestrial dangers! Celebrate N7 day by skipping your favorite krogan battlemaster for one day and putting time into that human adept you haven't played in a while. Or maybe that tanky N7 Destroyer everyone loves to tear ass with! Point is, N7 day is the day where everyone feels proud about Mass Effect! Here's to Earth's finest!

In other news, here's my short but sweet review of Assassin's Creed III. Right away I knew the game had come printed on shoddy paper that they skimped on. The art work had smeared off halfway and the edges were gone entirely! Clearly, this was going to be a bad game, so I put it right back into the redbox kiosk and settled for a bag of chips.



On a more serious note, who puts a piece I paper into a disc box? A real jerk, that's who. I finally found the damn game at another redbox in Anaheim. If this was some kid's idea on getting a game for cheap without their parents' knowing, fuck. Them. If this was an adult, I can only imagine them being the scumbaggiest frat boys to ever live in Orange County. And why was my phone call regarding the situation directed to India? Seriously? Redbox outsources too?

I've been following an anime, Sword Art Online recently. It's an anime about a player base for a virtual MMO, trapped in the game as the creator keeps them trapped online and reveals that they'll die in real life if they die in the game. Turns out, the fancy virtual reality headgear they're wearing has the capability to microwave their brains once their in-game avatar dies. The only way everyone can escape is if someone can clear the game by completing all 100 floors. Of course, this is an MMO we're talking about. While only one person is needed to clear the 100 floors, parties, guilds, and more will be needed to clear the whole game, not to mention death is literally perma-death. Thus, an intriguing show about the psychology of online gaming starts, centered around a particularly gifted gamer.

Many themes are explored through the space of a virtual MMO. Dealing with death and depression, how people change in an online space (read: being an asshole while online), the economy of an online MMO, and perhaps most central of all, love. The male lead, Kirito, falls in love with the female lead, Asuna. They eventually marry, at least in terms of the game's system, and carry out an entire relationship like normal, despite being trapped in an online MMO. Despite the fact that it's a virtual death game, it's still a game. That fact casts a certain shadow over Kirito and Asuna's relationship, despite being a true and pure love. There's no hanging the fact that they essentially let online on a game! But they still genuinely love each other and within the context of a death game, they prove their relationship is real as they continually prove it by protecting each other in times of life and death, going through various hardships of loss and joy. They even end up adopting a child at one point! Plus, it's also a very sweet relationship to watch blossom as the series slowly builds everything. This all doesn't happen over the span of two episodes and a few days. The first arc of Sword Art Online, taking place within the confines of the game SAO, takes place over a period of two years over 14 episodes.



During that time, we see Kirito and everyone else start out as familiar newbies in the starting area. Everyone slowly grows in every way imaginable except physically (since they're only being represented by avatars that are accurate representations of their real bodies, thanks to the technology of the Nervgear they're wearing). Kirito levels up, eventually gaining the equipment we'll come to recognize him by, learns harsh lessons, and grows. It's an amazaing journey, the first arc, since Kirito is scarred by the experience of joining a guild, only for everyone but himself getting wiped in a monster spawn trap. It scars him so badly that he becomes infamous as a powerful solo player who keeps his distance from any guilds, let alone social interaction. Of course, his cold demeanor changes over time when he spends time with Asuna, a member of one of the larger guilds in SAO, which are basically formed to help speed the progress of clearing the game's floors.

If you don't really like anime, you should give SAO a try as it's a fascinating spin on gaming. SAO is the name of the series but it only takes place in the actual game for a single arc, based on a series of books. The story of Kirito continues on as he unravels various mysteries across different virtual MMOs and games. The writers are very skilled at tackling different genres as many have that heavy drama of a life or death struggle while in other episodes, the heroes take a break and the tone becomes much more lighthearted. Give it a try if you're at all interested in the aspect of tackling human psychology within a virtual, online space.

* - Why do you like the games you like? Manwithnoname shares what growing up as a Brazilian may have influenced his tastes

* - On a typical Friday night, Manchild is fat

* - I find bloocheese's na´ve perfect review of Virtue's Last Reward so endearing

* - A story of glitching, multiplayer, and a great ending to a L4D2 story

A - Peter Molyneux's Coal Miner's XTREME! That's what Bro Kaif should call Curiosity

A - Leigh pretty much has my same opinion of the average Xbox Live mouthbreather

A - LoonyWoman's continued adventures of gaming: buying a PS3 edition!

W - wquach won Amazon's costume contest!





R - Carbon Ar's retrospective on NFS, from Undeground to Carbon!

T - Josh needs NHL in his life





V - Tiq and the Max Scoville challenge

V - Nekobun and the Maximus Broville Chamberlain

V - Ramminchuck and the Maxwell Scovillian something-something-something




Seriously. What the fuck man?


~ StriderHoang


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