Archive for the ‘Busy Gamer 1’ Category

Game Review: Mass Effect 2

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Mass Effect 2, like its predecessor, scores a Busy Gamer 1

First Glance:
Bioware’s sequel to one of my favorite games ever. ‘Nuff said.

The Short Story:
Bioware has, in my opinion, a hit and miss history with sequels. I was not fond of the sequel to Baldur’s Gate but I was completely taken with the “addons” for Neverwinter Nights. So it was with some trepidation, and no small amount of excitement, that I dove into Mass Effect 2. There’s another huge game to be told here with some of the best voices in the industry, graphics that far outshine its predecessor, and a substantial universe to explore… again.

The Score:
If you read my review of Mass Effect, you know I loved the game. The only problem was that it was not Busy Gamer friendly in the least. A single playthrough could be accomplished in roughly ten hours but you were robbing yourself of one of the best game experiences you could have. The same holds true for the sequel. With the changes to the exploration portion of the game, you could easily invest several hours a day to gathering resources and finishing side missions without ever touching on the main story. As such, I’m forced to give Mass Effect 2 our lowest rating, a 1.

Body of review:
To say that I was addicted to Mass Effect would be an understatement. I had five complete playthroughs and a ton of different classed Shepherds to my credit when I finally took the disc out of my 360. I invested over a hundred hours and it was the only game to date for which I actually wanted all of the achievements. I’m telling you this because my expectations for Mass Effect 2 were the highest I’ve ever had for a sequel. Some aspects of the game failed to meet my expectations, others exceeded them. I’m going to start with the bits that disappointed me…

First, there was an overhaul to the weapons system. While the first game’s method of having to skill up in each weapon individually could be frustrating at times, I became used to it and actually enjoyed the process as I proceeded. The bonuses for excelling in a weapon felt earned and I had to learn to compensate for my characters low skill in a particular weapon which I felt to take additional skill. Anyone low skilled in a sniper rifle will tell you it took timing and patience to take down a target when you first got started. However, the ability to use any weapon in the game that your class is able to use is somewhat refreshing.

A skilled assassin and a tattooed biotic psycho as teammates... Behind me. I am a brave man.

Then there is the lack of “loot” in the game. Constantly on the lookout for better armor and weapons in the first game was something of a habit before too long into the story. My OCD lead me to try and get the same “skinned” armor for each member of my squad and I was constantly shuffling items to avoid having to convert items to Omni-gel. The ability to purchase new pieces for Shepherd and customizing the look of the armor is a nice touch but I miss decking out my team members in matching armor to look more like a squad.


Fallout 3

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
Fallout 3 - Busy Gamer Rating 1

Fallout 3 - Busy Gamer Rating 1

First Glance:
Roam a post apocalyptic wasteland with a gun and an attitude. The long awaited next chapter in the Fallout series.

The Short Story:
Bethesda takes the reins of the Fallout franchise and delivers a visually stunning, dramatic, awe inspiring game. Unfortunately, it’s a very long, very unforgiving game for the Busy Gamer.

The Score:
There’s very little here not to like. And that’s the problem for the Busy Gamer. There’s so much here to do, see, and yes, kill, that the game is simply too expansive for most Busy Gamers. While there’s not a steep learning curve and a very good quest tracker for the game, Fallout 3 rates a 1 on our scale.

Body of review:
Let me begin by saying that I have been waiting for this game for a very, very long time. I was a fan of the first two Fallouts and even before that, played the Wasteland games. I was always curious how well Fallout would fare as a first person shooter if it was able to somehow incorporate the turn based combat into the mix and I have to say Bethesda Softworks has managed to merge the two in a very functional mix.

Fans of the series will be thrilled to see that the “feel??? of the franchise has translated well in Bethesda’s efforts. The 1950s sci-fi feel is intact and the whole landscape conveys the post-apocalyptic genre that the series has always done so well. Also intact is the storyline that each chapter has delivered on.

Returning players will find that very little has changed during the character creation, the old S.P.E.C.I.A.L. build. Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and finally Luck. Some old faithful perks, unique abilities that can be chosen at each level, make their return while new, interesting perks make their debut.

The latest hero of the Fallout series begins, quite literally, at birth. The initial cutscene shows our hero being born and it is during this initial scene that the sex, looks, and stats of the character are established. Shortly thereafter, our hero begins his life within Vault 101 and the story begins to unfold.

Initially your character will begin wandering the Wastelands with a pistol and very little ammo. This would be a problem if this were a straight first person shooter but fortunately, this is where the incorporation of the turn based combat comes into place. It’s called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) and you’ll grow to love it.

Essentially allowing you to target specific body parts with ranged weapons and slowing down the action while you fire, VATS moves you into a slow motion action sequence where you spend your Action Points to fire. The results can be quite gratifying and gruesome. Headshots can result in decapitations and skull explosions. Put the kiddies to bed for this bit.

The Wasteland you’ll be exploring (the East Coast, specifically D.C, Virginia, and Maryland) is huge and unlike the previous two chapters, which allowed you to pick a spot on the map and fast travel there even if you hadn’t been before, you must run everywhere. This increases the amount of combat you will see significantly, which is fun, but results in a much longer exploration time, a downside for the Busy Gamer.

You’ll run into some of the old familiar beasties and baddies if you’ve played the previous titles, but with much improved graphics. Molerats, Radscorpions, Raiders, and of course, no Fallout title would be complete without the Deathclaw. You’ll also see some familiar groups like the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave.

The graphics are gorgeous, the landscape is suitably surreal, and the voice acting is outstanding. This game has been a long time in the making and Bethesda has certainly not disappointed this longtime Fallout fan with its delivery. The weapons, when you can find them are devastating, when you can keep enough ammo to use them, and the skills and perks give this game high replay value.

No for the downside for the Busy Gamer… The game is huge. I mean huge on an epic scale. You have to run everywhere, at least the first time before you can fast travel to a location. Running into a location without sufficient levels or weaponry will typically end poorly though the autosave feature has saved, pardon the pun, my butt on more than one occasion.

There’s so much to do in the game, you may find yourself bogged down with side missions, completely ignoring the main quest line as you travel to just one more new location before continuing on. The characters are genuinely interesting and almost everyone you meet has some agenda that you can participate in.

There’s certainly enough here to keep you interested for some time to come but the time investment will be the main concern for the Busy Gamer. The control scheme is easy enough to pick up and an absence from the game won’t mean having to remember where you left off thanks to a very nicely done quest log. Map markers are clear and easy to follow, showing you waypoints where you may have to travel underground but always showing clearly on the map where you are and where you need to get to.

All in all, the game is fantastic. There’s just so much to do, so much to see, and so much to discover that it’s easy to lose track of time and wander the Wastelands looking for bottlecaps… And ammo.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Mass Effect

Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Mass Effect - Busy Gamer Score 1

Mass Effect - Busy Gamer Score 1

First Glance:
Explore the galaxy and meet strange new races. After meeting them, kill them or…have sex with them? Gee, thanks YouTube.

The Short Story:
This is a fantastic game. There’s a huge universe to explore as well as a fantastic storyline and character development. From the well performed voice acting to thegorgeous graphics and excellent sound track, this game has a lot to offer. There’s just one problem… It’s too much for the Busy Gamer. Granted, you can beat the main “quest line??? in a relatively short period but that would be the same as buying a ticket to a fantastic movie and then sitting outside the theater to read the CliffsNotes.

The Score:
I knew I was going to come across a game like this soon enough and here it is. The sheer amount of content this game has to offer and the amount of time it takes to fully explore the Universe rates it a 1 on the Busy Gamer review scale.

Body of review:
Mass Effect is the type of game that is hard to walk away from even after a lengthy play session which is precisely why it scores so low on our scale. Throw in a clunky mission tracking system that makes it difficult to find all but the main missions after lengthy absences and you have the makings of a frustrating experience for the Busy Gamer. Even the shortest breaks from the game can be detrimental as the only means to determine what system you are in is to be aboard your ship and use the Galaxy Map to pinpoint your location. This isn’t very helpful if you last saved while on
a planet or within a structure.

The mission tracking system isn’t the only hazard the Busy Gamer will face. There’s also an inventory management system that makes life difficult when trying to determine which items to keep, sell, or salvage for the all powerful Omni-gel you need throughout the game. The game also comes with a rather steep time investment if you’re going to do more than play through the main story line. Weighing
in at forty plus hours to complete side missions, allow the characters in your party to fully emerge as individuals, and explore the Galaxy, it’s just too much for the Busy Gamer.

This is not to say that there isn’t a fantastic game here because there is. The voice acting is performed admirably by actors such as Seth Green, Marina Sirtis, and Lance Henrikson just to name a few. The landscapes are appropriately alien and just as appropriately beautiful. You’ll find yourself admiring aspects of the different environments you explore without even realizing it. And the character models are easily some of the best I have ever seen.

The story line is well written and will keep you wondering what is going to happen next. And it is that aspect of the game that makes it so hard to put down the controller each time you play. It’s addictive and you’ll find yourself promising “just thirty more minutes??? as the hours stretch on. It’s all about seeing what you can do to progress the story or finding out what’s on that next planet. Bioware has really outdone themselves with this one.

So far as complaints go, I have very few, two of which I have covered already; the clunky mission and inventory management interfaces. There’s very little that can be done in regards to the inventory management but I would recommend keeping a small notebook nearby in order to jot notes about your current mission before ending a session. It’s too bad Bioware didn’t include some form of active mission tracking to allow you to quickly pick up where you left off but taking two minutes to jot the name of the mission you are working on and the planet you are on can make a world of difference.

Combat is handled well, a mixture of character based skills and first person shooter skills merge nicely to make combat challenging and entertaining. Handling the two teammates you select before embarking on each planet can be a bit difficult. They have a tendency to run in front of your weapon while you’re firing on the enemy and while you can’t hurt them, you’re not hurting your foe if your friend is in the way.

A few minor adjustments by the developers could have seen this game being a popular choice with Busy Gamers but as it stands now, it’s just too much game for most of us.

Grits – End of Line