Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mars Mission - Insanity

Alliance Prothean archives and research station on Mars.
Its been a few months now since Mass Effect 3 came out and I played the single player campaign game.  Since completing the single player campaign I’ve mainly been playing Mass Effect Multiplayer.  I decided to take another run through of the single player campaign mode on insane level.

During the initial introduction to Mass Effect 3 we find out what has happened to Commander Shepard after the destruction of the CollectorBase beyond the Omega 4 Relay and his parting of ways with Cerberus.

The Alliance hasn’t been to kind to Commander Shepard locking him up for a kangaroo-court court martial related to the Arrival DLC that took place after Mass Effect 2 and resulted in the destruction of the Batarian Mass Relay and subsequently millions of Bartarians.

Shepard's destination, the Mars Prothean archives.
We find our protagonist locked up in a plush Systems Alliance brig awaiting his court martial.  We are introduced to James Vega, a new character to the video games, in the opening sequence.  I never warmed up to Vega in Mass Effect 3 and I’m sure that won’t change in this run through.

Eventually Shepard’s day in court arrives and Vega comes to take him to the court martial.  Along the way we run into Admiral Anderson and now Lt. Commander Ashley Williams.  During the beginning of Shepard's court martial the Alliance starts losing contact with its outer bases and space stations.  Soon a massive object is spotted closing quickly on the Earth.  Then contact is lost with the moon and the Reapers attack Earth.

During the initial Reaper attack the Systems Alliance headquarters council, which is also also the court martial board, are all killed.  Commander Shepard makes his way to the Normandy with Admiral Anderson.  Rather than escaping on the Normandy Admiral Anderson decides to stay on Earth to lead the resistance against the Reapers.  He reinstates Shepard into the Alliance military and gives him command of Normandy instructing him to go to Mars.

Dr. Eva Core gives Ashley a beat down.
Upon arrival at Mars Shepard gets a break because the Reapers have not attacked Mars.  After landing Shepard discovers Cerberus troops control the archives.  Shepard, Vega and Ashley fight through the Cerberus troops to gain access to the Mars facility.  Inside they find Liara, who had been doing some Prothean research, dispatch a trio of Cerberus troops who where attacking her. 

Liara tells them of her research and the designs of a possible Prothean weapon for use against the Reapers.  They quickly agree that Cerberus is after the same information.  The team is now in a race to beat Cerberus to the Prothean data.  The Cerberus task force is lead by Dr. Eva Core, who unknown to Liara is actually a android disguised as a human.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Omega DLC Play Through

Shepard is getting a bit Capt. Kirk like.
I enjoyed the Omega DLC.  No surprise there as a Mass Effect fan I’m sure you all knew I would.

All these DLC missions EA/Bioware puts out after the launch of Mass Effect 3 always leaves me feeling a little funny.  Since Shepard dies at the end of ME3 (surely at this point this isn’t a spoiler for someone) its always odd to see him pop up as if nothing has happened.  But as I’ve said before it’s always good to have some more quality time with Shepard and friends.  To get started with the Omega DLC go to Shepard’s email on the Normandy and you’ll have an email from Aria asking you to meet her at dock 42 on the Citadel.  Head to the Citadel and you’re on your way.

General Petrovsky
Aria was one of my favorite non-player characters in Mass Effect 2 so I’m glad we get to go back and close the loop on a couple loose strings.  As a result of the Shepard’s and Aria’s actions in Mass Effect Aria is ousted from her position of running Omega.  Forced to flee to the Citadel due to the Ceberus attack and occupation she’s been spending time gather resources and developing a plan to return and take her throne back at After Life.

Rampart Mech
In this new DLC the stage is set and now its time for Shepard to hold up his end of the agreement and help Aria retake Omega.  With her forces assembled and a plan in mind Aria sends Shepard and email.  On Omega you’ll fight to expel the Cerberus occupation lead by General Oleg Petrovsky.  Along with the usual assortment of Cerberus troops there are also two new enemies to deal with; Rampart mechs and Adjutants.   


The Rampart mechs seem to be upgraded versions of the LOKI mechs we all know so well.  They also have shields and an omni-blade they use to dispatch victims in hand to hand combat.

The Adjutants are creatures Cerberus brings back from beyond the Omega 4 Relay.  After the events of Mass Effect 2 Cerberus establishes a base through the Omega 4 Relay to exploit any technology it can from what is left of the Collector base.  As with all Reaper based creatures Cerberus wants to control them but can only exert limited control.  Since Cerberus can't truly control the Adjutants they settled with trapping them in a section of Omega that is now a no-man's land that nobody enters.  Hope they don't get out.

You also get to crawl through the under belly of Omega using a flashlight to see much like the Mass Effect 3 missions in Utukku where we come across Grunt commanding the Krogan Aralakah Company.  

The is certainly a good deal of action in the Omega DLC.  I ran through it using the Striker and Cerberus Harrier assault rifles.  During this mission Aria demands that you come alone so you’re usual Normandy crewmates aren’t with you.  To round out your team on missions you get Aria and Nyreen.  Nyreen, a female turian, is a new character introduced during Omega who has a long history with Aria. 

Throughout the mission we get filled in piece by piece about their complicated relationship.  After Aria fled the Cerberus occupation Nyreen stayed behind on Omega.  Eventually she became head of the Talons, one of Omega’s many notorious gangs.  General Petrovsky uses his troops and the Adjutants to wipe out the various gangs on Omega.  This leaves Nyreen and the Talons as the last bit of organized resistance to the Cerberus occupation.

Once Aria's attack to retake Omega begins General Petrovsky puts up one road block after another.  Essentially you fight your way through the bowels of Omega until the final confrontation with Petrovsky.  The General has not surprisingly chosen Afterlife to be his headquarters.  At the end you have several choices; mainly to let Aria kill Petrovsky or save him.  If you save him he becomes a prisoner of the Alliance and provides information about Cerberus that adds to your galactic war readiness against the Reapers. Regardless of Petrovsky's fate Aria honors her agreement providing troops, ships, red sand and element zero that also adds to your overall galactic readiness.

By biggest criticism is the cost.  At $15 this DLC costs more than any other other DLC so far.  While a good play I don't think it was as good as other DLC costing less such as Mass Effect 2's "Lair of the Shadow Broker" or Mass Effect 3's "From the Ashes."

(I had a couple hours of captured video to review.  Perhaps a bit long but I thought two 10 minutes videos would be better than a longer video.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Omega DLC Now Availaable

Update:  Dec 3, 2012, A great deal of recorded video from Omega.  It will take a couple days to pull it together into a video outlining the mission.

The much anticipated Fight For Omega downloadable content is now available.  I just purchased it for Xbox 360 for 800 MS points which is about $10.  Fight For Omega takes up 1.99 GB of space on your hard drive.

This new DLC takes us back to Omega, a sierra hotel of a space station, where we first meet local crime queen Aria T'Loak and spend a good deal of time in Mass Effect 2 learning the ins and outs of this rough and tumble part of space.

As you may recall in ME3 Aria drove a hard bargin for her support in the war effort.  As a result of Aria's support of the war effort Cerberus has taken over Omega from Aria and her band brigands.  Now it's time to pay off that debt and help Aria regain her throne as crime queen of Omega!

Talon Symbol
To complicate matters the Talons, a band of Turian mercenaries,  also are laying claim to Omega.  In ME2 they tried to put the squeeze on Aria until she hijacked their Red Sand shipment and laid the smackdown on the Talons running that show.  Afterwards they reluctantly accepted Aria as the crime queen of Omega but secretly have wanted Aria out so they can take over.  Is this their time?

Hope to have video up and a review in a few days.  Got to play it first!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Assault Rifle Mastery – Mass Effect Multiplayer Challenge

I just completed the Mass Effect Multiplayer Assault RifleMastery Challenge on Silver.  So no banner for me!  But Assault Rifle Mastery is a fun challenge.  It reminded me that one of the things I’ve always liked about Mass Effect was the wide variety of all types of weapons and the ability to modify them.

Like most people I have a couple favorite assault rifles that I habitually use; the Harrier, Collector Rifle and Saber.  Doing the Assault Rifle Mastery Challenge forced me to use assault rifles I generally don’t use anymore and some that I never really used at all.

So here is my run down on the assault rifles I used.

The Best
Not surprisingly I thought the three best assault rifles where the Harrier, Collector Rifle and M-99 Saber.  I used the Harrier II and yes, I have Harrier X envy.  The Harrier is, I think, the best assault rifle in the game.  It is accurate, has low recoil and does the most damage.  The main drawback of the Harrier is that it holds a low amount of ammunition, 80 and 20 in the clip and has a high rate of fire.  The Harrier has a high rate of fire so your 100 rounds go quick and you are always looking for the nearest ammunition crate to replenish your rounds.  The good news is that you can generally kill basic enemies in less than 20 rounds.

I used the Collector Rifle IV and found it to be a close second to the Harrier.  Like the Harrier, the Collector Rifle has a high rate of fire.  The damage on the Collector Rifle IV is about equal to the Harrier I.  A big advantage of the Collector Rifle is that it holds three times as much ammunition so you don’t have to desperately know where every ammunition crate is relative to your position.  The Collector Rifle is accurate and has light recoil so you can hit the target with most of shots.

I really like the Saber.  I used a Saber V for this challenge.  The Saber is like using a sniper rifle that fires quickly.  The Saber is highly accurate, does damage on the level of a sniper rifle and has light recoil.  It holds a little over 40 rounds plus 8 in the clip.  Even though it has low ammunition I never feel like I am low on ammunition like when you use the Harrier.  Two to three rounds will drop any basic enemy.  The disadvantage is the low fire rate.  While much faster than most of the sniper rifles it is slow compared any assault rifle in the game.  Sometimes it feels like forever when you are one shot away in a close in fight waiting for it to reload and your biotics/shields are recharging.

Honorable Mention
I also used the M-8 Avenger X, M-15 Vindicator VII, M-37Falcon and Phaeston X assault rifles for this challenge.  All of these are decent weapons.  The M-8 Avenger is of course the classic Mass Effect assault rifle.  It is the base line for all other assault rifles.  As I’ve said in other posts you can’t really go wrong with the Avenger.  Damage is a bit light.  But it is lightweight so recharging biotics is good, holds lots of ammo and is accurate. 

The Phaeston X was much better than I remember.  It was my standard for a long time.  The Phaeston is another solid rifle for any map or enemy.  It is accurate, has moderate kickback, does moderate damage and holds a good deal of ammunition.  

 This was the first time I used the M-37 Falcon in multiplayer.  I must say it was pretty good.  The Falcon, essentially a grenade launcher, does high damage but has low a accuracy and a low rate fire.  Besides the high damage it also stuns enemies.  This is great when firing into a crowd or facing something like a Geth Pyro.  The stun gives you a chance to move out of range or pump in a few more shots.  It’s also fun to watch the enemies hit by the Falcon.  Sometimes they go flying through the air or their heads explode.  

 The Vindicator is one of those assault rifles I rarely use.  It turned out much better than I remembered it.  The Vindicator fires five-round bursts.  Its accuracy is moderate and has high kickback.  But the kickback is moderated by the five-round bursts.  So all in all its not too bad.  It does moderate damage, holds a moderate amount of ammunition and its weight is light, which is good for recharging.  Generally speaking all these assault rifles are all pretty good overall.

The Most Fun
The most fun was the M-76 Revenant X.  This rifle is fun to play with if you’re not seriously trying to outscore everyone on your team.  It has a high rate of fire, sounds awesome, good muzzle flash, holds a high amount of ammunition and does moderate damage.  It is not highly accurate and has substantial recoil.  You have to modify the weapon or use equipment upgrades to reduce the recoil to an acceptable level.  It is ok at close range targets but even at moderate distances it loses what little accuracy it has.  I found the Revenat to be more accurate if you fire it in short 2-3 second bursts.  The problem is it is hard to do this because it so much fun to just hold the trigger and watch it fire.

The Worst
The worst was without a doubt the Geth Pulse Rifle X.  It has three positives; it is accurate, has little recoil and holds a lot of ammunition.   The bad news is that you’ll need all that ammunition because its damage is so low it takes forever to kill anything.  It takes an entire clip of 80 rounds to kill just the basic Cerberus Trooper, Geth Trooper, Cannibal or Collector.  Just avoid this assault rifle.  I didn’t think I’d ever get to 100%.  Then of course I got to 99% just so that I could have one more game with this lame rifle.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Firebase Giant and Ghost Alternative Maps

Firebase Ghost
Looks like EA/Bioware added some new alternative multiplayer maps.  So that is total of three alternative maps that I've seen so far.  Today I played the alternative Firebase Ghost and Firebase Giant map.  Not as much as a change as the Firebase Dagger map was.  The alternative Firebase Ghost map is a huge rain storm, see video, that downpours, then stops leaving puddles of water and then starts again.  The rain doesn’t really affect visibility like the sandstorm does on Firebase Dagger.  It is also light wise darker than the normal Dagger map.  Perhaps because of the rain clouds blocking the sun or maybe it is supposed to be night rather than day like the original. 

The Firebase Giant alternative map is just more of a light show than anything else.  It doesn’t affect you unless you stand there and look at the lights.  There are some cannons firing into orbit that light up the sky and the map area.  I didn’t turn my recorder on to catch it as it wasn’t really interesting enough to cause me to stop playing and turn it on.

I came across the Firebase Giant alternative map playing multiplayer tonight so I turned the recorder on and captured a few minutes of video, see belos..  As you can see its a bit darker due to night time.  You can also see the cannons firing into orbit and the flash it creates.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mass Effect 3, Multiplayer: Retaliation

Mass Effect 3’s new multi-player downloadable content (DLC) "Retaliation" is now available.  So log on and down load that new content.  There some interesting things I’ve noticed just playing a couple bronze missions and not reading lists of stuff from the professional gaming sites.

It's free and it’s good.  Get it.  One of the first things you’ll notice is the menu screen is different with the addition of a challenge tab.  For you badge and achievement collectors your time has come.  There are to many categories to talk about but it appears EA/Bioware took a page out of “Call of Duty” and other similarly structured games where you can earn achievements in certain categories by doing certain things or maxing out a skill or item.  For example there is an Assault Rifle category where you need to get to 100% with each assault rifle in the game.  Not sure how they are calculating but I don’t think anybody will be finishing up the achievements tomorrow.

An old enemy is back to throw a wrench in our plans.  The Collectors who we spent a good deal of time fighting them in Mass Effect 2 and especially the climatic final “Suicide Mission” are back.  (See post "I Like Miranda and Won’t Apologize For It" for video of the "Suicide Mission.")  The Collectors even killed Commander Shepard in the beginning of ME2 filling us with self-doubt until we sorted things out.  It’s good to fight the Collectors again and get some more pay back.  It also adds more variety in the enemies you can fight.  The Collectors bring their usual techniques but have a few tricks up their sleeves.  At one point I came across a “Collector Web.” Not sure what it did I figured you didn't want to get caught up in it so I fired it up and destroyed rather easily.  Seeker Swarms are back and if you're in a weakened state and they attack you'll need to use a pack.

With the Collectors the Husks they control are “possessed” and they explode when destroyed.  If you happen to be in weakened state and one is destroyed next to you it is like a heavy-duty grenade going off.  Most likely you won’t make it.  So try not to let them close in on you if your shields are down.

Flipping through a Premium Sprectre Pack I saw some new ammunition; Drill Rounds, Explosive Rounds and Phasic Rounds to name a few.  I had a chance to use the Drill rounds and liked them a great deal.  I also picked up a new N7 Particle rifle that I didn’t care for.

I saw a Volus player, with a jet pack, not sure what class he was off the top of my head. Never seen a Volus move so fast, perhaps that fat boy had an upgrade?  lol There are also new alternative maps to mix things up.  The video above features the Firebase Dagger alternative map.  On this map visibility is cut short by a sandstorm. I believe there is an alternative map for each map, effectively doubling the number of maps.  (If I'm wrong someone let me know.)

I’m sure there are many new changes I haven’t mentioned.  These are just some I noticed after playing a couple of bronze games to check it out.  So log on and find them out for yourself.  Good luck with those achievements.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Leviathan DLC

Spoilers Follow:  Don’t read or watch the video if you don’t want to know.

The new Leviathan content is available for down load for your playing pleasure.  On the MicroSoft XBOX you can purchase it for 800 MS points which is ten dollars I believe.  So if you haven’t, go ahead and drop ten large for this additional content.

Leviathan is a nice little side mission.  It was a bit strange for me because my Commander Shepard didn’t make it at the end of Mass Effect 3 and then he pops up for a mission like nothing has happened. See my previous post, "Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC Ending," and video about the Extended Cut ending. But I got over Shepard's resurrection real quick as Leviathan provides you with more playing time with Commander Shepard and your other Mass Effect friends.

Find Hackett's email.
I guess the first thing you need to know is how to access Leviathan.  Once you’ve downloaded the content go to the menu and load a previous saved game.   It doesn’t matter which one or where in the game's timeline you choose.  I happened to choose a save game towards the end of Mass Effect 3.  So it gave me a chance to easily do the ending over again and pick another ending option, purely coincidental; just a little benefit for picking a save game towards the end of the game.
Go to Dr. Bryson's lab.
Check your email and you’ll have a “Urgent message from Admiral Hackett” directing you to meet up with Dr. Bryson.  Then go to Citadel and select Dr. Bryson’s Lab and you’re off on the new mission.

You’ll spend a short amount of time talking to Dr. Bryson when he is killed in front of you.  Because Dr. Bryson didn’t really explain anything of importance it’s up to you to search his lab for the clues to what he was working on, what Leviathan is and where to find it.  After you pull the pieces together you’re off to find Leviathan.  To complicate things Leviathan doesn’t want to be found.  The clues you find send you on a mass relay hopping chase around the galaxy to beat the Reapers to Leviathan. Along the way you’ll meet Dr. Bryson’s daughter, fight Reapers and piece the Leviathan puzzle together. 

Finally you get to pilot a Triton which is essentially the same thing as an Atlas.  You get to shoot some Reapers instead of having an Atlas/Trition shooting at you for a change.  It turns out that Leviathan is long lived race.  And they where the race that created the Reapers.  At some point the Reapers turned against the Leviathan’s and made them the first harvest.  So the Reapers look like the Leviathans.  There aren’t many Leviathan’s left and they essentially lay low and watch the Reaper cycle occur over and over again.

Will you be able to bring the Leviathan’s into the galactic fight against the Reapers?

Commander Shepard finds more than one Leviathan.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC Ending

Well it’s been a long busy summer.  I finally played the new DLC Mass Effect 3 ending; Extended Cut.  So here it goes.

I will not wax and wane philosophically about the meaning of the different endings, if any, or how that relates to us in our daily life.

I liked the new ending and I’m appreciative that EA/Bioware recognized the angst the original endings created in the Mass Effect community and took positive action to address the player’s and fan’s concerns and feelings.  I also want to thank everyone who emailed, tweeted, facebooked, youtubed and used other social media outlets or old school letters to complain and make their feelings known to EA/Bioware.

There is an old saying that goes something like “One awe-shit erases ten that-a-boys.”

That is exactly what happened to EA/Bioware with the original Mass Effect 3 endings.  For all the acclaim and good will Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 generated from the story lines, characters, voice acting, graphics/animation, combat system and the immerse universe EA/Bioware created; they squandered it all away or some might say they flushed it down the toilet with the most horrific endings ever conceived.  The original endings where ill-conceived and just plain lame.

Spoiler Alert:  The video shows one of the possible endings of Mass Effect 3.

When you consider that on average most players spent about 30 hours to complete each game in the series, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect, about 90 hours of total playing time they deserved an ending that closed out Commander Shepard’s story and the multiple story arch’s with characters that we came to like and invested our time in.  Players also deserved the unique endings promised in that our decisions in Mass Effect affected the outcomes resulting in a different play through for each individual player.  Did you kill Wrex, save the Rachni Queen or side with Miranda or Jack?

The original Mass Effect 3 ending were so bad I didn’t even know if Commander Shepard lived or died.  The new Extended Cut endings resolved many of those issues.  I know what happened to Commander Shepard.  I know what happened to characters I had come to like, to races, civilizations, the Reapers and even the Mass Relays.  So the new ending provided for me the closure of Commander Shepard’s story that was missing in the original endings.

I personally thought it was sad because some of my favorite characters didn’t live.  But as I said in a previous post, a sad ending is ok, we see that all the time in movies, books and television.  An ending that isn’t an ending isn’t ok.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer Is Over

Ok summer is over it is time to do some new Mass Effect posts.  I've mainly been playing Mass Effect Multi-player the last couple months.  I like the new maps, characters and weapons that have been added.

However there are many things to talk about such as the new DLC ending and Leviathan to name a couple.

Also need to do another ME3 play through this time as a FemShep.

So I'll do some playing and some posting in the near future.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut is Available

Finally some Mass Effect news to blog about.  At long last, the much anticipated Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut is now available for download.  As you know many ME fans where down right outraged at the lame (being generous) ending of ME 3.

The outrage caused such a back lash that EA/Bioware developed this additional downloadable content to try to appease the many upset gamers and industry talking heads.  It is free of charge so get online and down load it.

Here is what EA/Bioware's ME3 website posted.

          "The Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut is a downloadable content pack that will 
          expand upon the events at the end of Mass Effect 3. Through additional cinematic 
          sequences and epilogue scenes, the Extended Cut will include deeper insight 
          to Commander Shepard’s journey based on player choices during the war against 
          the Reapers. The Extended Cut will be available to download at no additional charge 
          on June 26th on Xbox 360 and PC and PlayStation 3."

I will give it a play and let you know how the new ending is with some video.  Of course there are already reviews out there.  I haven't read any and won't until after I play it so I'm not jaded by the another person's experience with this content.

I hope there are some answers.  I couldn't believe how terrible the ending of ME 3 was.  So I'll post again  in a few days after I've had time to play it through.

Here is some exciting video showing how to download the Extended Cut content using a Xbox 360.

Promise next video will show Extended Cut action and ending.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mass Effect Comics

I’m not a big comic book fan but in the spirit of looking at all things Mass Effect I checked out the Mass Effect comic books.  I actually went to a couple local comic book stores but they didn’t have any Mass Effect comics. 

Of course I next turned to the Internet.  First I went to the Darkhorse comics website.  

 On their website it was easy to find the Mass Effect comics and you can purchase them to view online or have them mailed to your home.  While surfing their website I discovered that Darkhorse had an application for the iPad.  Woo hoo!

So I went to the iPad app store and downloaded the app.  After creating the account I easily found the Mass Effect comics and was able to purchase digital copies of the Mass Effect comics. 

As with all things Mass Effect, if you are a Mass Effect fan you’ll like the comics.  For some light entertainment reading I found the comics an enjoyable diversion.  The comics I read complimented many of the story lines you find in the three Mass Effect video games and books.  The comics are well written and illustrated.  They allow you to spend some time with your favorite characters while finding out a little more about them and the Mass Effect world.

At $1.99 cents a comic book that shouldn’t be to great of a cost to anybody who has access to a computer, Apple iOS or Android device.  So take that change out of your pocket.

Reading with my iPad was easy.  You can swipe and read entire page or you can click and it zooms in on a section of the graphic for a close-up and then moves from segment to segment on the page in close-up mode.  This is great for reading the text and obviously for the graphics.

Full page view left and close-up right.

The cost for the digital versions was cheaper than actual paper comic, as you would expect for digital copy.  I believe they were $1.99 cents versus three dollars for the comic. Any comics you buy on your iPad you can also view on their website through your personal computer’s web browser.

 Remember, when you buy on the website or through the app store you don’t actually own the comic; just the right to read the book through the authorized device.  See Darkhorse FAQs.

“Do I own the digital comic I purchased?
You do not. As with Amazon, Nook, and other e-book companies, you don’t own the book you buy. You are licensing the right to read the book on supported and authorized devices.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grunt; Fighting to the End

Shepard and Grunt on Tuchanka.
Grunt gets a much better video cameo than other Mass Effect 2 characters such as Thane and Kasumi.  Grunt’s cameo even gets a surprising twist at the end.

Shepard goes to Utukku to investigate missing squad of Krogan soldiers.   Upon arrival at Utukku he discovers that Grunt is the commander of the Aralakah Company; a special company made up of Krogan warriors from the various clans on Tuchanka.  It’s not clear if the Aralakah are investigating the disappearance also or if the missing squad is from the Arlakah but it sets the stage for the Shepard / Grunt reunion.

With the help of the Aralakah Company and Grunt, Shepard explores the tunnels of Utukku and discovers that the Reapers are mutating a hive of Rachni into Ravagers much like they do with other species to create Husks or Scions.  Moving deeper into the maze of tunnels Shepard enters the hive’s central nest area while Grunt and the Aralakah hold off waves of Rachni.

In the central chamber Shepard discovers the Rachni Queen from Mass Effect that he let live during the battle with Matriarch Benezia.  Turns out the Reapers have captured the queen with advanced Reaper Technology.  (Nothing a few rounds from the M-8 Avenger won’t fix.) 

The queen was able to resist Reaper indoctrination.  To counter the queen and take control of the Rachni the Reapers trapped her isolating her influence and indoctrinated the other Rachni directly rather than through the queen.  Shepard and company have the choice to release the queen or leave her trapped by the Reapers.

Grunt charges into the Ravagers.
While holding the line against the now indoctrinated Ravagers Arlankah Company takes heavy losses.  When Shepard leaves the hive for the surface only Grunt remains of Arlankah Company.  Upon the way out they come to an intersection filled with Ravagers.  Grunt says goodbye to Shepard;  “The shuttle is down that path.  I’ll hold them off. Get out of here Shepard.”  Grunt charges into the path of the Ravagers giving Shepard the opportunity to escape.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

Mass Effect’s “new” multiplayer component was launched prior to Mass Effect 3’s release.  It has been out for sometime now and has had several updates to include new maps and weapons since it was launched as a demo with two maps.  Overall MEM (Mass Effect Multiplayer) is fun and I’m sure any Mass Effect fan likes it.  I also think it appeals to other gamers.  Perhaps players of Modern Warfare, Battlefield etc. might give it a try for a break from their usual gaming routine.

In a MEM game you play with three other peeps to form a four-man Alliance team.  You get sent to some off-world sierra hotel to complete various missions.   During the game you fight 10 waves of enemies completing various missions and then are extracted.

Characters are capped at level 20 and you get to distribute a generous amount of points into the various class’s biotic powers.  New updates have added new races and classes you can play such as the Geth.  I must admit that I find the Krogan Vanguard disturbing!  Lol  The enemies are either Cerberus troops, mutated Reapers or Geth.  Watch out respectively for the Phantom, Banshee and Prime opponents as they are the hardest to kill.

There are three difficulty levels, bronze, silver and gold.  You can really tell the difference between the levels as the aggressiveness and survivability of the enemies significantly increases as you go up in difficulty.  On gold level, the hardest, it is very difficult to survive to extraction.

The variety of missions is one feature that makes MEM fun.  The base mission is to kill the incoming wave of enemy.   Always fun just shooting anything that comes your way. The other missions entail killing four “high-value” enemy targets, uploading data from a computer terminal, fixing/reactivating four terminals/satellite up-links and finally the extraction itself.

The high-value target mission is fun.  You have a set amount of time to kill 4 enemy targets.  Each time you kill a target you get a little more time.  Don’t be surprised to find other enemies protecting the high-value target adding some difficulty.

The uploading data is essentially a hold your ground mission.  You go to a terminal and must hold your position for several minutes while uploading data to a computer terminal as enemies constantly attack you.  Remember the more of your team members in the designated area the quicker the download.

The fixing or reactivating mission sends you to four different devices on the map in succession to activate.  You have a set amount of time to activate all four devices.  Usually this involves fighting your way to the device and a little hold your ground.  When you get to the device it takes about 15 seconds to activate it.  If there aren’t any enemies around you can do this by yourself.  If not you’ll need a team member to keep them busy for the 15 seconds.

The extraction mission, which I guess you could say is the 11th wave, is another hold your ground mission.  You move to the extraction point and hold that area for two minutes until a shuttle arrives at the LZ to extract you.

My only real criticism of MEM is the awards system where you buy various packs of gear, increasing in price, Starter, Recruit, Veteran, and Sprectre to get better gear, ammo and power upgrades.  The problem is that the equipment in any pack on any given purchase varies so you never know what you are getting.  Sometimes an item you shelled out big bucks to buy in real money (Microsoft Points) or in game earned credits in a Sprectre pack might be found in the significantly less expensive Recruit pack. Say for example you have an Avenger II assault rifle and want the Avenger III.  You have absolutely no logical path to purchasing it.  You just have to hope that it randomly show’s up in some pack you buy.  Buying a Spectre pack or higher has no bearing on if the item you want will be in it.  For example I’ve wanted the Vanguard additional camouflage patterns for my character’s appearance for weeks.  No such luck.

Also the MEM contribution to your Mass Effect 3 single player game makes no sense.  As you play MEM you see some message that says something like “+ 1% to galactic readiness.”  This number goes up and down.  Log off and come back and you start over again.  How this gets added to your readiness in the single player game isn’t in the least bit obvious.  Not that you really need a couple percentage increase in readiness when you get to the end of Mass Effect 3.  So why even bother with this?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Quarians or the Geth? Part 2

Spoilers Follow

Who will you choose?
In the end there can only be one.  Either the Quarians or the Geth.  So who will you destroy and who will you save?  Both have huge fleets and technical expertise to help you construct the Crucible.   

You choice either kills Tali and the Quarians or Legion and the Geth.  So EA/Bioware does allow to you choose the fate of an entire race.

Ultimately it doesn’t really matter who you chose.  Whichever you choose will commit their fleet to your war effort and use their engineering skills to assist with the construction of the Crucible.