Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thane Krios Plays His Last Card

Cerberus Logo
Spoilers Follow
Priority: The Citadel II, is a Mass Effect 3 mission to get excited about.  Not only does this mission have great action, it has great fight scenes and some final answers to a couple lingering Mass Effect questions.  It turns into a running gun battle on the Citadel complete with X3M skycar chases, trading shots from the top of speeding elevators, general mayhem, a satisfying death of a disliked character and a new enemy!  What’s not to like?

At some point in Mass Effect 3 you’ll head back to the Citadel to deal with some political intrigue.  When you approach the Citadel all space traffic controller communications is down.  Through some back channels you find out that Cerberus is attacking the station.  Since you can’t land you take a shuttle in and observe the on-going battle from the air.   Forced to land in a hot landing zone you fight your way to C-Sec.

At C-Sec you find Captain Bailey wounded outside C-Sec headquarters.  Bailey helps you gain access to C-Sec and starts re-establishing the computer network that was disabled by Cerberus.  After securing C-Sec Bailey asks you go secure Councilor Esheel.  At the Executor’s office you discover Councilor’s Esheel bodyguards are dead.  Eventually  you find her unharmed in an adjacent room.

Kai Leng; Cerberus assassin and new enemy.
Then Kai Leng appears to kill the Councilor.  Shepard is too late to save the Councilor but Thane Krios appears out of nowhere (and the hospital) and saves the Councilor from Kai.  Thane and Kai engage in hand to hand combat while Shepard hustles the Councilor to safety.  Thane lays the smack down on Kai with a biotic backhand bitch slap that knocks him out for a few seconds.  Kai recovers from the vicious backhand and the fight continues.  Eventually the tricky Kai runs Thane through with his sword dealing a mortal blow.  Although not immediately fatal, the wound along with Thane’s Kepral’s syndrome is too much.  After the battle Shepard is able to visit with Thane and say his good byes.  Our last view of Thane as Shepard leaves is him in a coma in the hospital with his son by his side in a death vigil.  Not the best way to go out but much better than just sitting in the hospital the entire game.  At least Thane went down fighting.  So for you Thane Krios fans here is Thane’s fight with Kai Leng so you don’t have to watch the longer video if you don’t want to. 

Shepard and Kai fight on X3M's through the Citadel.
After Thane is stabbed Shepard gives chase in what becomes a X3M skycar chase through the Citadel.  Eventually Kai disables Shepard’s X3M and they crash on a balcony on the Citadel.  Shepard and company race on foot to reach the other Councilors; who are coincidentally being guarded by newly appointed Spectre Ashley.

Ashley is taking the councilors to the roof of a building where she thinks a X3M will take them to safety.  But unknown to her this is actually a Cerberus trap.  Shepard ends up on top of an elevator racing Kai to the roof where the Councilors are.  By now Bailey is able to re-establish the network.  He begins making Kai's elevator car stop at each floor allowing Shepard to reach the Councilors first.

You don't want to miss this Renegade action.
After reaching the roof and catching up with the Councilors Shepard has a hostile encounter with Ashley that is egged on by Councilor Udina.  Udina, not wanting to be exposed as a Cerberus agent is trying to open the door to allow Kai and the Cerberus troops in to kill or capture the Councilors thus placing him in charge as the only remaining Councilor.  Ashley sides with Shepard at which point Udina pulls a gun and Shepard shoots him dead.  Good riddance, that was one sweet cut scene seeing the end of Udina.  That character was no good from the beginning of Mass Effect.

Thane dead or as good as dead.  Udina exposed and gunned down.  Closure on two issues; one more satisfying than the other.

Monday, March 19, 2012

So Many Assault Rifles

One of the many things I’ve always liked about the Mass Effect video games is the wide range of weapons at Shepard’s disposal.  In Mass Effect there is a weapon for everyone.  Do you want a pistol, assault rifle, submachine gun, sniper rifle, shot gun, grenade launcher, missile launcher or flamethrower?  It’s not over once you’ve chosen a type of weapon.  Each type of weapon has multiple models for you to choose from.  After you have your weapon and model in Mass Effect 3 you can also choose 2 upgrades among dozens of choices.  Want a scope for your pistol?  No problem.  Want a larger magazine for your sniper rifle?  No problem.

I like assault rifles.  With Mass Effect 3 playing a Vanguard class I can start the game with one!  Lets take a look at three of the more popular assault rifles; the M-8 Avenger, M-96 Mattock and M-55 Argus. 

Avenger:  What can I say, the Avenger is the standard assault rifle of the game and the one you start out with in Mass Effect.  What’s not to like about the Avenger?  It is lightweight. In Mass Effect 3 this is important because you are now weight capped in weapons and as a bonus you incur a power recharge penalty related to weapon rate that can be as much as 200 percent.  That is long wait to recharge in a fight. Once you reach a certain combined weight you can’t carry another.  The Avenger puts out a high-sustained rate of fire and has a low to moderate recoil that results in a mild nose pull.  All the better for keeping rounds on your target.  The Avengers main drawback is, as far as assault rifles go, relatively low damage.  The Avenger makes up for that with a high rate of fire and being able to carry 440 rounds of ammo.  That is the most ammunition holding capability of any assault rifle in the game.  A little bit of damage multiplied by 440 is a great deal of damage.  Looking at the screen and seeing you have 440 rounds makes you feel good.  No worrying about where the next pile of ammo is.  All that ammo comes in handy if you find yourself in one of those fights where ammo is hard to find or get to.  Overall you can’t go wrong with the Avenger on just about any mission.

Argus:  The Argus is new assault rifle for Mass Effect 3.  For the moment you can only get the Argus by purchasing the “Collectors Edition” of Mass Effect 3.  Maybe in the future you will be able to buy it separately or as part of some weapons package.  I was very excited to have the Argus so I used it a great deal at first.  The nice qualities about the Argus are that it puts out some heavy damage.  You can take out Cerberus Guardians pretty easily with the Argus just by shooting their shields.  The Argus fires in three round bursts, which helps you to conserve ammo.  On the negative side the Argus fires in three round bursts because the recoil on this bad boy is ridiculous.  Usually your third round is above your target’s head.  So aim at their feet if you want to get three hits.  It also takes some time to get your point of aim back down after a 3 round burst.  Don’t be afraid to take the Argus because of its recoil. The Argus kills things fast.  Just keep its recoil in mind and move your aim point down after each burst that way you make every shot count.

Mattock:  The Mattock is my favorite assault rifle.  I mix up the weapons I take on missions for variety but always come back to the Mattock.  The Mattock is another high damage assault rifle. The Mattock’s damage is a less than the Argus but much greater than the Avenger.  Another nice characteristic is that the Mattock has little recoil so it is highly accurate.  If you add a recoil dampener to the Mattock then the recoil is almost negligible. The Mattock has a 16 round clip.  Although it is a semi-automatic you can quickly shoot an entire clip into a target without having to re-aim.  Woo-hoo!  Sixteen Mattock rounds brings the pain to any enemy on the receiving end.  On the minus side the Mattock is very heavy weapon.  If you take it on a mission be prepared to not take other weapons to mitigate the weight penalties for having a high combined weapons weight.  Also the Mattock’s standard load is only 64 rounds.  You have to keep your eyes on your fries when using the Mattock.

Of course there are many other assault rifles in the game you can check out and use.  Whatever your tastes you'll find a weapon you like in Mass Effect. What is your favorite assault rifle and why?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cure for the Genophage and the Death of Mordin Solus

Mordin's last frame.
Like all good plot lines and viruses the Genophage has run its course.  A central theme throughout the trilogy is the Genophage virus that the Salarians created then infected the Krogans with. 

The main plot line for the Krogans was to find a cure for the Genophage and it was included in many subplots, conversations, cut scenes and missions.  The Genophage reduced the fertility rate of the Krogans and kept them from overwhelming the galaxy with sheer numbers.

In Mass Effect 2 Salarian scientist Mordin Solus joins Shepard’s crew.  During his plot mission The Professor and his loyalty mission Old Blood you learn of Mordin’s involvement with the Genophage and other viruses. 

Using Maelon’s data Mordin is able to develop a cure for the Genophage.  The Krogan are withholding their assistance in the fight against the Reapers unless the Genophage is cured.  So Mordin assists Shepard to develop a cure and release it into the atmosphere of Tuchanka thereby curing the Krogans.

Upon arrival at Tuchanka Shepard discovers that a Reaper has invaded and is near the Shroud; the device that will spread the Genophage cure into the atmosphere.  Shepard and team fight their way through various mutated Reaper minions to summon Kalros, “the mother of all Thresher Maws.”  Lucky for Shepard, Kalros attacks and destroys the Reaper allowing Shepard to get to the Shroud.  The Shroud is heavily damaged by the Reaper and is unstable. 

The Shroud on Tuchanka.
On the way to the Shroud the female Krogan Eve mentions something about fate so I guess she knew Mordin’s. Because of damage done to the Shroud Mordin must manually disperse the cure from the top of the Shroud.  Getting into the elevator Mordin knows it is a one-way trip and doesn’t allow Shepard to go with him and says a short good bye.  

Mordin goes to the top and disperses the cure and shortly afterwards the Shroud explodes before he can escape.  Goodbye Mordin, another Mass Effect 2 character bites the dust.

Mordin was a fun character.  The way he spoke and the things he said made him a interesting and fun character.  I occasionally took him on missions.  Mordin’s rendition of “the Major-general’s Song” calling himself a “scientist Salarian” in Mass Effect 2 was one of the funniest moments of the game.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mass Effect 3 New and Old Characters

I’m not very far into Mass Effect 3 but here’s what’s going on.  The combat is certainly harder on normal than Mass Effect 2.  Enemies are a smarter and often try to flank you.  The Cerberus Engineer ground mounted turrets are a pain and fighting Cerberus mechs is getting tiresome.  The good news is I’ve spoiled every one of the Illusive Man’s plots so far.  Lol  I’ve taken the Prothean data from Mars along with Dr. Eva's cybernetic spy body, evacuated the biotic children from Grissom Academy and have the last living Prothean on my team; take that Illusive Man!
The new Edi
I really liked the Mass Effect 2 characters and have been interested to see what their fates were in Mass Effect 3.  But first lets talk about some new characters. SPOILERS to some degree follow.
Edi:  On Mars you steal Dr. Eva's cybernetic female body from Cerberus.  Edi is able to transfer into this body.  From then on you can take Edi on missions and she becomes a permanent squad member.  Joker is in love with her.  Will they fall in love and get married? 
Javik: It is back to Eden Prime where it all started to steal the last Prothean from the Illusive Man.  He survived the last Reaper cycle 50,000 years ago in a stasis pod.  Luckily you are the only person who can decipher the messages in the Prothean Beacons and Liara, the galaxies foremost expert on Protheans, is there to help you find, wrestle away from Cerberus and revive him.  Best quote of the game so far belongs to Javik; Referring the the Salarians; “The lizard people evolved…they used to eat flies.”  He becomes a permanent squad member.

Vega: He’s a permanent squad member from the start.  A solider class who is Shepherd’s guard while on trial for the events during “Arrival” then sticks on after the Reaper invasion begins.
EA/Bioware stated that any Mass Effect 2 characters that survive the Suicide Mission would appear in Mass Effect 3.  It appears that we now know what “appear” means. 
So here is what I’ve discovered so far.  A pattern is emerging with the fate of Mass Effect 2 characters.  Most are being discarded like trash.  Essentially Mass Effect 2 characters are given a video cameo like the lame cameo they did in Mass Effect 2 for Mass Effect characters Ashley and Kaidan.  Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.
Thane: Sorry Thane fans, stick a fork in him, he’s done.  Your closure with Thane is a really lame video cameo in the Citadel hospital.  You can talk to him and find out his illness has gotten worse.  It appears that Thane remains in the hospital for the entire game.
Kasumi:  Her fate is very disappointing because she was one of my favorite ME2 characters.  Essentially on some weak side mission she follows you around the Citadel, invisible most of the time, as you wander from point to point picking up clues.  She saves your life, feigns death (to avoid the authorities) and goes off on some Reaper related task for Shepherd.  Most likely not to be seen again in the game, we’ll see what happens.
Liara's new armor
Liara: Is one of your permanent squad members.  You catch up with her immediately during the first mission on Mars.  She does finally get some decent looking armor.
Jack:  You run into her at the Grissom Academy where she is now teaching biotics to children.  After you evacuate her and the kids to the Normandy she disappears. As with Kasumi it appears you won’t see her again.
Wrex:  Again a video cameo as you rescue the Krogan female.  It appears you’ll see him again since he is the leader of the Krogran. I’m guessing not as a squad member but in video cameos again.
Grunt:  No sighting yet.
Jacob: No sighting yet.
Zaeed: No sighting yet.
Samara: No sighting yet.
Miranda:  You met her at the Citadel after she sends an email to you.  After you meet she’s off to help her sister again and you to fight Reapers.  You are given the chance to continue the romance from Mass Effect 2 or end it.  I'm guessing if you keep the romance you’ll see her again but only in video cut scene cameos not as a squad member.
Legion: No sighting yet.
Ash: Starts as a permanent squad member.  You run into her immediately on Earth at your trial.  She gets a smack down on Mars and goes to the Citadel hospital.  I think depending on if you are trying to reestablish a romance with her you might have different trees.  She’s become a Spectre and might be assigned back to the Normandy with you or could do other missions for the Council.  It might depend on if you are trying to romance her or Miranda. Not sure if she comes back as a squad member, we’ll see what happens.
Garrus:  You link up with him on a mission and he becomes a permanent squad member.

Mordin:  Mordin is encountered on the Salarian home world of  Sur'Kesh when Shepherd (with Wrex in tow) arrive to free the Krogan female Eve.  Mordin helps Shepherd free Eve then agrees to use Maelon's data to find a cure for the genophage.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mass Effect Take Back The Earth (Collector Edition Unboxing and why I don't use UPS)

I am so not taking back the earth today because of a really lame decision.  Seriously EA / Bioware... you chose UPS to deliver the "ME3 Collectors" edition to those (like me) who purchased directly from you online.  Are you high, are you kidding me? UPS doesn't deliver unless you are home to sign for it.  So for all of us who work - - no Mass Effect 3 for us today.  Don't you also think that perhaps you could have planned to have the collector editions arrive a day early and used FEDX; sort of a bonus for those of us who ultimately paid more money for the game than was necessary?

So thanks.  Now I have to go to the UPS customer service center between 8:15 and 9 tonight to pick up my ME3 collectors edition.  By the way the UPS customer service people said just leave a note on the door and they'll leave it.  They didn't.

Perhaps I can play for an hour tonight.  What is the marketing reasoning for launching on a Tuesday anyhow; what is the tradition?  Seems like the weekend would be better for gamers.  (Any marketing/advertising people know the rational/history for video games to come out on Tuesdays?)

Anyhow the good news is ME3 is getting awesome reviews and Mass Effect Infiltrator ($6.99 at the iTunes app store) is now available for your iOS device such as iPhones and iPads.

Here are some of the early reviews.


Perhaps later I can get up an "unboxing" of the collectors edition because I surely won't be able to play.  Thanks UPS.

Here's an update.  Finally picked up the Mass Effect 3 Collectors Edition at the UPS service center.  It would have been easier pre-ordering from Best Buy and picking it up there than dealing with UPS and their ridiculous policies.  Any how I was able to make a quick unboxing video (very exciting) and at least get to Mars. I have decided I'm not going to blow through this first run through as fast as possible.  Rather am going savor every scene and fight, taking my time.

Oh, fyi, last night I went to the and sign up for their "UPS My Choice" program so I can as they said "Get Home Delivery On Your Schedule."  Not so unless you join the premium version and pay UPS more money to deliver your package.  Something you've already paid them for by the way.

So then I get on UPS online customer service chat service.  I thought it was quick and helpful.  I explained I would be at work and wanted the package left at my door.  UPS rep says no problem using my tacker number says the package doesn't need a signature and to leave a note.  I leave a note taped to the door with the tracking number stating to leave the package at my door.  Check ups site in the afternoon and have the unable to deliver will try again tomorrow. Well I'll be at work tomorrow to.  Back to UPS online customer service chat service.  "We're sorry, we know this is frustrating.  The driver has the discretion not to drop off."  "You can pick it up at the customer service center.  Would you like for us to make an appointment for your?"  What I need an appointment to go to the customer service center to pickup my package?  "Yes"  Ok I'll do that.  "Between 8:15 - 9:00 p.m."  lol A 45 minute window late at night.  Not to mention the 1 hour round trip ride to this customer service center.  Assuming I don't get mugged in parking lot of this unsavory part of town.

Of course no response to me from UPS via email or twitter.  Not surprised. (UPS did email back on Wednesday March 7th. "I am truly sorry that you received a less-than-satisfactory experience with our company. We look forward to the opportunity to reestablish your trust in our services."

Seriously I've never liked UPS because of their drop off policy.  I wouldn't have used them for this if I had a choice.  I urge you never to use UPS, use USPS or FedX.

But I guess ultimately it is all my fault.  If I had taken the day off from work none of this would have happened. Hi boss, mind if I take Tuesday off to play Mass Effect 3.  Perhaps my boss plays ME3 also and would have understood.  I doubt it.