Category Archives: Free Time

All kind of things I do in my free time

Game of the Month: Mass Effect

The first part of the Mass Effect Trilogy was originally only published for Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Five years later it is finally available on the PlayStation 3 as well. BioWare even released a patch for Mass Effect 2 that allows to import games from Mass Effect.

Mass Effect tells the beginning of the adventures of Commander Shepard, her appointment as a Spectre and her first encounter with the Reapers. Like its successors the game features story telling, well written characters and dialogs at the highest level. The game play looks very similar too the second part at a quick glance: a third person shooter with elements of a role-playing game. But after playing the game for a while you realise that the RPG elements are much more predominant than in the later games. You e.g. have to manage a massive inventory of equipment that you gain by combat or by looting all kinds of containers (crates, lockers, etc.). Developing the powers of your main character is more important in this part of the series because abilities like charming other persons or opening objects are not a given. If Commander Shepard lacks any of these skills you will have to pick your squad mates accordingly.

The gripping story makes Mass Effect a lot of fun to play. There are however a few annoyances effecting the game play. The mini game for opening containers is a stupid reflex test which I failed far too often. Power classes can by default only use pistols which makes combat unnecessarily difficult. You can work around this if you actually find out how. At that point you probably have to start a new play through from scratch. Your character’s bonus power can only be assigned when you create a character. You can also, just like the points assigned to powers, never change it. Kudos to BioWare who fixed all these problems in Mass Effect 2.

If you haven’t played any of the Mass Effect games I would highly recommend to play the whole trilogy. You will embark on a video game adventure like no other. If you have played Mass Effect 2 or 3 because you like role-play games and good stories you will like the first part as well. If you however mostly like shooters Mass Effect might not be your cup of tea. I personally enjoyed it a lot, in particular the awesome ending.

Movie of the Week: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Silke and I are big fans of Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. We have watched all the movies in the cinema and several times on DVD or Blu-Ray. When we heard that Peter Jackson is also making a movie based on the The Hobbit, the prequel to the original The Lord of the Rings books, we were of course looking forward to seeing it. Like most people we were surprised that in the end Peter Jackson didn’t make one but three movies.

Last week Silke and I finally went to see the first part The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It had all the things that made The Lord of the Rings trilogy really enjoyable: an decent adaption of the story, well written and played characters, views of fantastic landscapes, a lot of action and last but not least excellent special effects. The decision to turn the book into three movies seems to work out alright. The film doesn’t feel incomplete like the original cinema cuts of the first three movies. It sometimes is almost a bit lengthy but usually picks up the pace quickly again.

I really enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and am definitely looking forward to the next two movies. I only wish they would get released sooner.

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut

When Mass Effect 3 was originally released a lot of the fans were very disappointed by the game’s ending. And I was one of them. Due to the massive public complaints BioWare announced that they would release an extended cut free of charge that should improve the ending. When the extended cut was finally released a few weeks ago I decided against immediately playing it and started my single player Insanity run instead. It turned out to be a lot easier than defeating Mass Effect 2 on Insanity. But maybe it just felt that way  due to all the training provided by multiplayer Silver and Gold matches.

When I finished my Insanity run through yesterday I finally watched the new ending. I was very pleased to see that it is indeed much better. As expected I still didn’t get Marriage, old age and a lot of little blue children, but I finally got closure and a sense of accomplishment . BioWare added a lot of background information, closed plot holes, fixed glitches and most importantly showed the events after the Reaper war. On top of that the player can now choose a fourth radically different outcome of the story.

The Extended Cut is the epic finale that the Mass Effect trilogy needed, that it deserved. The game play of the final mission is still disappointing but at least the story is alright now. There are still a lot of fans that are unhappy with the plot. But I guess that is to be expected if you don’t deliver a Hollywood style happy end. To be honest I find the ending quite depressing as well. I wonder though why the game didn’t come with the proper end in the first place. I can only guess that BioWare struggled to keep the release schedule and had to cut some corners. Mass Effect 3 wouldn’t be the first game that suffered from this problem.