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Released: December 20 2011
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Over the last few months, I’ve slaughtered Sith, Jedi, jawas and a couple of Hutts. I’ve brought worlds to their knees, become best buddies with a hideous force eating monstrosity and called countless people “nerf herder” (including Liam and Andy). Yes, I’ve been playing a lot of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Enough so that I have a big ol’ mean Sith Assassin sitting pretty at level 50 and fair few alts climbing their way up the leveling pole, anyway.
There’s a lot to like about BioWare’s contribution to this increasingly saturated MMO market. I’m a sucker for a good story — which makes my love of MMOs all the more bizarre — and the narrative is probably one of The Old Republic’s strongest elements. It’s no wonder that it took so long for us to get our hands on the game as it contains eight fairly well written, fully voice acted stories intertwined with the over arching tale of the conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire.
In other MMOs my investment in my characters never goes beyond the amount of time I’ve put into them, but in this space opera my investment stemmed from the fact that my Assassin, Soluum (I was really scraping the barrel for Sith Lord names), was a campy psychopath with a fetish for electrocuting everyone. He was wonderful. He had personality, lots of it, that’s not something I ever imagined saying about a player character in an MMO.
These slow burning tales of deceit, adventure and possibly even romance feel very disconnected from the rest of the game, unfortunately. The moment you step into a story instance, signposted by a giant green forcefield, you’re playing a character with a past and his or her own motivations. Outside these instances you’re often relegated another Assassin or Bounty Hunter, spouting canned — sometimes rather amusing — phrases while participating in a boring war. There is a mind boggling amount of dialogue, however, so the canned lines are forgivable much of the time.
PS3, Xbox 360, PC (Reviewed)
Released: March 6 2012
Publisher: Electronic Arts
It’s been just over four years since Commander Shepard became a household name, at least in my household. In that time I’ve turned away from my initial skepticism and fully embraced the Mass Effect universe, let’s just say I’ve become invested. When I discuss the series — something that happens a lot — it’s always my Shepard that I harp on about.
I honestly don’t care what happened to the countless Shepard clones that you lot play, I care about Augustus Shepard, best buddy to Garrus Vakarian and Urdnot Wrex, lover of Liara, savior of the Citadel and even the Rachni; a fine chap who just wants to save everyone even if he has to throw his life away to do so. He might sound a lot like your Shepard, but he’s not yours. So bugger off.
With Mass Effect 3, BioWare hasn’t just ended a massively popular video game trilogy, they’ve ended the story of a character I’ve been shaping for years. That’s a big deal, which should be pretty clear from all the drama that has surrounded the game since it launched. It’s hard to say goodbye, but last night I managed it. I still feel a bit sad.
Released: February 24, 2011
Developer: Joshua Nuernberger
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
An ex assassin turned cop; a blank slate of a man stuck in a prison turned sinister training facility; a tale of loss and identity; oh my, I’m in heaven.
Gemini Rue is the first adventure game from Joshua Nuernberger and is a rare example of future-noir in video games. As a fan of Westwood’s Blade Runner I found the adventure to be the perfect way to scratch an itch that’s had a long time to develop. It’s an ambitious story told through two men — Azriel Odin and Delta-Six — both who are searching for something very dear to them.
Delta-Six is a prisoner. His story starts with scientists erasing his memory after a recent escape attempt. Before you can learn anything about him, he becomes a man with no past. His routine is carefully monitored by the enigmatic and unnervingly friendly “Director”, who is heard, but never seen. His fellow Center 7 inmates are equally oblivious to their past, but that certainly doesn’t make them naive, or trustworthy. Between participating in tests for the Director, Delta-Six must make allies and escape the facility before the ominous “final exam”.