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Friday the 13th: The Game

“He’s back! The man behind the mask, and he’s out of control” ~ Alice Cooper

When it comes to slasher movies there are few killers who have anything in comparison with Jason Voorhees.  He has amassed a kill count of over two hundred people. While other slashers have their kill count in the double digits; Jason has triple. When Friday the 13th launched in June of 1980—it became a huge success! Despite what the studio had to say about slasher movies, in a way, it helped propel the slasher genre. The franchise has eleven movies and one re-make.

The 80’s were a time of home entertainment—more so, the pre-cursor of today.  Where the only time we really have to leave our house is to work. Video Game consoles were taking off—allowing family and children to chuck the board games aside or into the back of the closet.  The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was wildly popular with young children and teens.

By the time the Nintendo launched, Friday the 13th was on its fifth film.  It would be four years later when Friday the 13th part: VIII was released that a video game would coincide with the release of the film.

Developed by LJN in 1989, it was one of the first survival horror games released in America.  The story of the game: You play as a group of counselors, and you must save the children of camp Crystal Lake.  The game is notorious for jump scares and not player friendly.  Overall, it failed to stay true to the F13 franchise.

In October of 2015, Gun media and Illfonic launched a Kickstarter for a new F13 game.  Based on their original idea of a multiplayer game where you play as the slasher and 8 people played counselors, the slasher would chase the counselors down and do what he does best. Kill.  Once Sean S. Cunningham saw the tech demo for the prototype, and he offered the F13 license.

Editors note: Before Cunningham offered up the f13 license, the Kickstarter project was known as “Summer Camp.”

The game itself is a collaboration of sorts: It re-unites Tom Savini to the franchise (Jason’s original designer), Harry Manfredini (series composer), and it re-unites the most important thing to the series, the only actor who has ever played Jason more than once: Kane Hodder, who will be performing the motion capture for Jason.

Being a Friday the 13th fan, it was my obligation to donate to the campaign.  I donated at the $55.00 tier and earned the right to play in the beta, which was released in December of 2016. The excitement to play was tearing at me.  The drive home from work was the longest drive in the history of the world, it felt miserably slow.

Once the computer finally booted up and I was introduced to a nostalgic opening.  It feels like you have just popped in your favorite VHS tape, the tracking finally diminishes and you are introduced to the name of the developer: Illfonic and Gun Media.

You are greeted by various shots of Jason and the infamous “Ki Ki Ma Ma” is heard. The title scene in itself is something nice.  It allows you to feel the ambiance, and you’re treated to Manfredini’s music, an ode to the classic F13 sound.

Every match begins the same, you pick the counselor you want to play and Jason is selected randomly.  Every character has a different set of skills that will help them survive the match, and the counselors get a certain number of perks.  Jason has pre-selected perks for each version you play (There are five in all. Part 2, 3,6,7,8 and Jason Goes to Hell, plus a backer original designed by Savini himself).  One of the most interesting things about playing as Jason is that you will be able to level him up and select different kills.  One of my favorites is the kill from part VIII where Jason knocks Julius’s head clean off his shoulders.  You are also able to select new kills that were created for the game.

Now, one would expect that playing as Jason is the best part of the game, not true.  The counselors are what make the game fun, sure, walking around and killing dozens of teens is a good time, however, the thrill of staying alive is where the fun is.

As the counselors, you have four objectives—either, call the police and they will meet you at a select point in the map,  fix a car and drive off the map, kill Jason, ( not available in the beta), or die.

As a counselor, you are able to find various items to help fight off Jason or stun him long enough for you to make a hasty retreat. You have the option of hiding from him in cabins, closets, and tents (playing as Jason, finding the hiding counselors will reward you with extra XP that you can use to buy more kills).  Sounds simple, right? Not, so much.  Jason has different abilities. One ability, allows you to transport Jason to any part of the map, another ability, will allow Jason to chase the counselors or appear in front of them.  The main ability players will use is “Sense”  as it allows Jason to see where the campers have staked out—making it slightly easier to hunt them.

The game is fun, at least, the beta.   It gives the feeling of fear and confusion and plays true to the F13 format.   The ambiance of the game is something that really plays into effect.  The ground is often dark and shadows play tricks on the eye.  When Jason comes close to a party or a single camper, a music Que plays to let you know he is near. While it seems cheesy, it gives the player a chance to run and hide.  The game feels like a movie.  Something, I never expected—being a longtime fan of video games and a regular player. I’m not a fan of multiplayer games, at all, with F13, I felt I was in the movie.  I would get adrenaline rushes if Jason was near and I was wounded. My fight or flight instinct would kick in and most the time I would lose or there would be a chance, I would get away, only to have Jason take his revenge, and shove a machete down my throat.  Despite, some bugs (it’s a beta, they will happen) it was an experience I will never forget and cannot wait for the full release.

Friday the 13th: The game is a rare feat, it stays true to the license. A prime of example that in the right hands a movie license can stay true to its origins. And make an experience worthwhile; other companies can learn from this particular developer. If care and passion go into a license a game can break free of the bonds and ideologies; that all movie-based games are cheap and never a worthwhile experience.

Friday the 13th breaks that mold, not only for horror games but multiplayer games, as well.

Kurt Thingvold, no stranger to Machine Mean, was born and raised in IL. He finds passion in writing, which helps calm his demons. He grew up in a tough household that encouraged reading and studying. He spends his time writing in multiple of genres. His published his short story, Roulette, which can be found on Amazon for $0.99!!! When not writing he can be found playing games, reading, or attempting to slay the beast known as “Customer Service”, which, he fails at almost every day. As mentioned, Kurt is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean, you can also check out his previous review on Ridley Scott’s legacy movie Alien here.

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Universal Monsters in Review: Pinball Wizard

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The history of pinball games is an interesting subject. The 1930s, the same as the Universal Monster era, is ultimately when the game began, though an argument could be made for the development of the machine since the 1700s in the form of Bagatelle, a billiard indoor table game. Starting in the 1930s, there were Payout Pins, in which coins would drop out of the game, and Flippers, a Penny Arcade game where the players used a “bat” to launch balls into a scoring mechanism and even an early era pinball game called TILT! The exclamation point was to further the excitement one ought to feel when playing the game. By 1936, the invention of pinball bumper came about, consisting of coiled springs that allowed the ball to rapidly bounce around the playfield, forever changing the modus operandi of pinball. Pinball was also not without its enemies. In a 1957 article published by Better Homes and Gardens, advocates called for the ban of pinball games. Some American cities had already fallen suit, in January of 1942, New York mayor LaGuardia banned the game throughout his city, which wouldn’t be overturned until the 1970s. The issue advocates and lawmakers were having was a failure to distinguish slot machines from pinball machines and the fact that many just wanted to play pinball for the sheer enjoyment of the game. Starting in the 1980s and running through the 90s is when horror themed pinball machines really took off. Some of the most popular ones included Freddy: A Nightmare, The Addams Family, Gorgar, Scared Stiff, Elvira: Party Monster, Twilight Zone, and Monster Bash, just to name a few. These games gave players another way of experiencing the universe of their favorite monsters, including those of the 1930s-1940s Universal variety. Here to talk to us some more regarding Universal Monsters most infamous pinball game, Monster Bash, is our guest author, Kit Power.

Monster Bash

By: Kit Power

Because I know what y’all were really thinking as you slogged through my four thousand word essay on ‘The Bride Of Frankenstein’, back in March – ‘Yeah, yeah, Kit, all well and good, but can’t you tell me more about this pinball table?”

Your wish is my command.

Before I start, though, in the interests of honesty, I have to confess something important: I haven’t played the physical table. I love pinball but was born about ten years too late for the heyday. One of the very, very few positive things about growing up in the ass end of North Devon was that there were two local pubs that still had machines. So I got to play Star Trek: The Next Generation, Judge Dredd, and later the Tommy table (based on the musical). ST and JD just ate my money, for the most part, but Tommy I absolutely owned – I remember one afternoon going in there with a single pound coin (which back then got you 3 credits) and playing for over 3 hours.

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But that was ‘98 or ‘99, and the art of pinball was already dying. Seeing a table in the wild is a rarity these days, and the time when any arcade of a decent size had a whole rack of them is long gone.

Luckily for shut-ins like me, there is, at least, Farsight Studios and The Pinball Arcade.

The press release version is, they buy real tables, take them apart, photograph each bit, then render them in 3D software, emulating the actual ROM used in the original machine to simulate the experience with as much fidelity as possible. Now, I only have one data point for this, because the Star Trek table is so far the only one they’ve digitized that I’d previously spent any time with, but I can say with some confidence that they have absolutely nailed the physics and feel of that table, so I have no reason to suppose that their talents are not similarly in evidence on the other tables in the collection. So, what follows is based on the experience of playing a simulation of the table rather than the thing itself. That bucket list moment will have to wait for when Tarantino comes knocking for the film rights for GodBomb! Hey, I can dream. 🙂

So, Monster Bash – as previously noted, a 1997 table by Williams, of which 3361 units were manufactured, according to Farsight Studios. The plot of the table (no, really) is that six of the iconic Universal Monster crew – The Creature from The Black Lagoon (hereafter Gil), The Bride, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, Dracula, and The Wolfman – are putting a band together, with the end goal of playing a gig in ‘Transylvania Square Gardens’.

Of course.

To achieve this – well, it’s pinball. Keep the ball in play, and hit a lot of shots.

Or, in more detail…

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So there’s six creature games, each of which has ‘win’ states, which award the instrument for that creature (Gil plays Sax, The Bride is on vocals so claims a microphone, The Monster has an organ(!), Dracula is on lead guitar, with The Mummy on Bass and The Wolfman, of course, on drums). Playing all six games, win or lose, sets up the ‘Monster Bash’, which is the table’s wizard mode. Wizard mode is basically the ‘win’ state of a pinball game. Typically a multiball with a generous ball saver period (meaning 30 – 45 seconds where any balls you lose are replaced) and huge jackpots on all targets. If you’ve ever looked at the mind-boggling high scores on a pinball table and wondered how they were achieved – wizard mode is how. It’s always tough to achieve, and aside from Tommy, something I’ve never managed in real life (brag – though for Tommy, I managed it three times in one game).

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There is a fun wrinkle with Monster Bash, which is this: If you manage to ‘win’ each of the monster missions and claim the instruments, you enter a kind of super wizard mode called ‘Monsters Of Rock’, where the targets are worth even more, and the ball saver stays active for longer. If you can get that done before activating the Monster Bash, there’s a substantial bonus, but I’ve never managed that.

 

Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the monster missions:

FULL MOON FEVER: Shoot the left and/or right orbit 4 times to light a full moon and start the mode. You then have 45 seconds to shoot the orbits as many times as you can, scoring the full moon fever jackpot each time you do so. Score 4 full moon jackpots to claim the drum kit for ‘Wolfie’.

  • MUMMY MAYHEM: Hit the jets 45 times to uncover the sarcophagus and light mummy mania in the drop target. Once the drop target is hit to start the mode, shoot the orbits, ramps, and central spinner to score mummy mania jackpots. Score 7.5 million points to win the game and light the bass guitar.
  • BALL AND CHAIN: Shoot both ramps 3 times each to start the ball and chain game. Shoot both ramps a further 3 times each in 40 seconds to win the game and light the microphone.
  • DRAC ATTACK: Shoot the Dracula target on the right-hand side to spell the word DRACULA (the first time through you only need to do this 4 times, as the first three letters are lit for you). This lights Drac Attack in the drop target. Once you shoot that, a model Dracula will pop out of a coffin on the right-hand side of the play area and move slowly back and forth. Hit him five times with the ball to win the mode and light up his guitar.
  • CREATURE FEATURE: Shoot the far left target gully 4 times. On the fourth time, Creature Feature mode begins. Shoot each of the lit targets (both ramps, both orbits and the central spinner (though you can also shoot the left gully as a substitute) to win the mode and light the saxophone.
  • IT’S ALIVE MULTIBALL: To start this mode, shoot The Monster target in the center left of the playing field 7 times to build the monster. The target will then lift up, revealing a ramp. Shoot the ramp to start the multiball. Score jackpots by shooting the flashing targets, and score 6 super jackpots (by hitting the monster) to light the organ.

With me so far? Excellent. Now, let’s talk strategy…

Because beyond ‘keep the ball in play’, there are some useful tips. For example, if you complete three monster modes, an extra ball is lit, and if you go through to the Monster Bash mode and ‘loop’ the table, this chance is restored the second time through as well. Also, the monster game modes are stackable – as in more than one can be running at the same time. Even better – if you start the ‘It’s Alive!’ multiball the timer on the other games stops, which is really handy with games like Ball and Chain, where hitting 6 ramps in 40 seconds can often be a bit of an ask.

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Also, if you complete the skill shot by using the flippers to make sure the ball falls through the lit target post launch, you’ll get an item, such as a garlic clove or spear gun, that can be used to reduce the difficulty of the monster mission by one (A silver bullet, for example, scores you a free ‘full moon fever’ jackpot once that game mode has started). You use the items by pressing the launch button – pleasingly, there’s nothing in-game to tell you this, it’s just a neat little thing you discover through play – or, I guess, not.

And really, it’s a game of neat little touches. The sound is great throughout, with the side comments by the cast (“I hope he’s tall and handsome like you, doctor!” from The Bride, for instance, or “Somebody fetch me a razor!” from The Wolfman) amusing enough that they don’t grate on repeated playing. Similarly, while the table is relatively fast and the ramp entrances not over generous, it’s far from impossible to play, with a little practice. The single toughest shot is The Monster, not because he’s hard to hit but because the rebound tends to send the ball down the center gully with depressing frequency, but on the other hand, if you are anything like as bad as me at pinball, you’ll hit it with glancing blows enough times while aiming elsewhere to unlock the mode organically after a while.

And sure, it is both shlocky and goofy – they’re none of the horrors of the original tales here, this is strictly played for laughs, and if the idea of that offends you, this is probably not the pinball table you’re looking for. That said, there’s also an unmistakable ring of affection to the whole thing, if not outright love.

And if nothing else, it led me, by and unlikely and circuitous route involving the author of this blog, to finally actually watch The Bride Of Frankenstein on Blu-ray. For that alone, this pinball table will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Kit Power lives in the UK and writes fiction that lurks at the boundaries of the horror, fantasy, and thriller genres, trying to bum a smoke or hitch a ride from the unwary. In his secret alter ego of Kit Gonzo, he also performs as front man (and occasionally blogs) for death cult and popular beat combo The Disciples Of Gonzo. He is the published author of such works as, GodBomb!, Lifeline, and has contributed to numerous anthologies, including The Black Room Manuscripts, Widowmakers, and upcoming Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers.

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Quick Review: Dragon Age Inquisition

Any long time reader of the blog here will know that I am a huge fan of Bioware’s Dragon Age franchise. Yes, despite the faults with both Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3, I am still a fan. Why? Bioware can weave a story like no other. Though, they ought to be careful, lots of indie companies and writers are coming out of left field with amazing stories and even more engrossing games. Consider the recent positive release of “The Evil Within” as just one example of amazing storytelling from the fantasy given folks over at Bethesda. Bethesda, personally, is not a game producer in which horror springs to me. Fantasy, yes. Terror induced nightmares, no.  But they did it, and its all for the better because hopefully it’ll keep other game developers on their toes producing even better stories and games. However, we’re here to talk about Dragon Age Inquisition. So lets chat.

The Ugly:

I was really excited about the release of Inquisition. Again, I love the series. I love creating my own custom hero and going forth on quests and dungeon raiding, and all that nerdy mess. As a writer, my medium is horror. I live and breath horror. So, fantasy games like Dragon Age allow me to step back and breath from fresh air before lunching back into the pit. So hopefully my now, you can imagine my excite with the release of a new installment. And there I was, Friday night, all to myself. Wife was out with friends. Kid was spending the night with grandma and grandpa. I was all alone!!! I insert the disk. Feet dancing away in delightful anticipation. And what do I get? I big oh 10-15 min. loading time. Apparently, without warning (thanks Bioware) the game will take up 7G’s of storage space. This wasn’t a problem for me, though not everyone has that much memory. So this is my first taste, after all the waiting, I have to wait some more. No big deal. Be patient, right? Okay…moving on.

To help clarify, I do not own an Xbox One. I’ve got the older sister, the Xbox 360. The Xbox One will be in the foreseeable future, but not yet. Not until I’m pretty much forced into forking over the hefty funds to purchase one. But with games, like Inquisition being offered on the 360, I feel like the change is not yet necessary. Or is it?

Dragon Age Inquisition is offered on a wide range of platforms, including my own 360 version. But maybe it shouldn’t have been. Let me explain. Once the loading time finally finished and I got to the game itself it became very apparent this was not the game I was sold. For the last Dragon Age that will be offered on the 360, no doubt, I expected something — more. The graphics will elementary. Plastic even. The custom options for your custom hero are languished, at best. When I heard you could add scars for your character, I got all nibbly bibbly! But when I went to look for it during my character creation slot, the scars were no where to be found… even worse, the beard option and hair options are equally despicable. You almost have to make your character as bland as toasted oats in order not to look unbearably manikin.

Look. I don’t want to sound like a sour apple. I have no idea if this game looks better on the next gen console than it does on the 360. But there are a lot of faults with this game. Mostly with the way it looks. The game play graphics, the sound effects, everything…its all weird, and, well, lazy looking. I feel, with the product that is in front of me, like Bioware rushed it out the door to meet the Holiday season, forgetting to do some coding with the 360 version. Hopefully, some of these issues can be resolved with some simple updates. I just pray they take the time to do them.

The Fetching:

Okay. With everything I don’t like with this game, there’s a lot of it that I do like. The story, though choppy at first, is solid. I felt thrown into the mix without a narration. Okay Bioware, this is basic storytelling. You need a narration. Once I got my feet on the ground, the story started making more sense. And I am currently enjoying the game a lot more. The combat system is fun, much like the second game. The areas are massive. And the side quests are plentiful. Almost to the point where you’ll spend hours in just one area. The new details are also fun. Like with the War Room. I feel like I am actually playing the part of Inquisitor. Plenty of looting, despite the super small text font. There are plenty of new twists to the game to keep your interest. I am just into the very beginning of the game still, as I spent most of my weekend hanging out in Hinterlands. I eventually had to walk away in order to experience more of what the game has to offer. I did get to watch a giant and a dragon duke it out on the coast and then was able to take down the giant. Just watch out for the flying boulders. The impact will kill your character. The options for strategy look impressive, though the party characters all ready come equipped with general combat common sense, which is good. Plus there is an added feature, the “run away!” approach. I had to use this Monty Python strategy a few times against annoying fade creatures.

The All-Inclusive:

I’d give this new installment 3 out of 5 stars. I was/am disappointed on how rushed the game looks. Again, my review here is for the 360. i pray the One version is cleaner. But the more I play Inquisition the more I like it. And no doubt my rating will go up to 4 out of 5 stars if only Bioware actually puts out a patch and update all the messy glitches. If you have not yet purchased the game, you may want to wait and see if Bioware actually does put out a patch. Or, if are a hardcore Dragon Age fan and do not want to wait and can put up with mediocre graphics, then by all means. As I said, the game is growing on me, though it shouldn’t have to and if this was any other game from any other production company, I may have returned to sender! In summary, the graphics need major improvements, as well as the glitches; while, the story and combat systems are impressive.


Batman Arkham Origins & the Symphony of Emotion

October is crawling. The anticipation of both Halloween and the release of Batman: Arkham Origins is almost too much! While Halloween is easily sedated by simply screening the many wonders of horror and spooktacular films, like: The Thing, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Frankenstein, and so on; but, what can be done to quench our unsteady nerves as we wait and wait and wait, as it seems, for Origins’ release? Besides playing one of the two predecessors, Asylum or City, the only thing left is to tediously scourge and watch as many YouTube videos as we can muster. Such as the below video from RobotGamer1HD:

Which isn’t half bad. Here, we at least get a look at some of the game play. What did you think? Awesome, right?!? Seriously, thinking back when Arkham Asylum was first released, who would have thought the game (before you played) was going to be so amazing? The greatest part was being able to put ourselves into the story and from the very get-go, was so pleasantly surprised how much the game did not suck. How being competed wasn’t a complete waste of time (cough-cough Mass Effect 3). One of the most clever parts with this new generation of Batman games…and yes, clever, are the stories, the little tugs on our emotional heart strings, pulling us deeper into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and making us a part of his world: from the Asylum, being dosed with Scarecrows toxin and subjected to nightmarish flash backs of when mommy and daddy got shot, and with Arkham City, when Wayne’s very life was on the line through the entire game, the poison within slowly eating away on our insides. Plus, plenty of action to make the game masculine enough to call ourselves men (or ladies, whatever the case may be)! Here is one of the newest clips for the upcoming Batman release:

While there isn’t any actual game play; the story is very much alive in this just shy of a minute TV spot. Here we see the catalyst for Batman’s existence. Besides the original CGI Origin video released several months ago, this particle clip is my next favorite. Why? Sure, its rather simple and also rather short. Where you don’t see much; you feel plenty: the raw energy of vengeance being transformed into something greater, something criminals would fear and victims hope. The reason why so many of us nerds love the series and are, again, excited to don the mantle of masked vigilante and take part in one the greatest story arcs yet created.

Batman: Arkham Origins releases in just over a week! Oct 25, 2013…


Will there be a new Mass Effect?

Its been well over a year now and many of us (nerds) have already been asking for sometime now: “Where oh where has my Mass Effect gone?” The buzz on the web has both confirmed and non-confirmed the fate of the Mass Effect franchise. From what i’ve gathered, it doesn’t seem as if BioWare (at this point and time) has any plans on continuing the series. One rumor floating around is that they are actually planning on crafting an entirely new space odyssey. Why? Because the ending of Mass Effect 3 was so confusing and drastic they had to add a free DLC to help explain what happened. Plus, the two out of the three “choose you’re own adventure” ending didn’t help matters…leaving the future of the organic races in the Mass Effect universe questionable. Obviously, plenty O’ gamer became ticked that the series they had been following from the beginning and all the choices they labored over actually didn’t matter in the end. But does this really mean BioWare couldn’t continue the series? Absolutely not and i’ll tell you why.

For one, just because M3 gave the player the option of three different endings doesn’t mean a new Mass Effect game couldn’t pre-select one ending as the foundation to base a continuation from. Basically, in my proposal for a new Mass Effect game, i’m cutting out the two dumbest endings: synthesis and control. Personally, after everything Shepard and his (or her) team had gone through, and the juxtaposed relationship between the Reapers and everyone else (minus the Geth), the only rational ending would be Destruction. Why? I’m glad you asked! The Reapers were (supposedly) immortal amoral beings whose sole purpose was to protect the galaxy by keeping organic life in a drastic cycle of checks and balances…IE exterminating all organic life once they reached a certain point of evolution. The Reapers wanted to keep organic life from destroying the galaxy, which they saw as an inevitable probability, unless advanced organic life could be kept in check through extermination. This is the nuts and bolts of the story, as i’ve understood it.

So, again, why choose the Destruction ending as the foundation? The problem with amoral beings is that they cannot take change into account. Shepard faced similar arguments with the Reaper known as Sovereign, who explained to Shepard during their conversation that the Reapers “impose order on the chaos of organic evolution. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it.” According to the in-game history, the Reapers had already gone through several cycles of extermination. We don’t know how many. But we do know the Prothean’s were the last dominate organic life before what now exists (humanity, Asari, Turians, Krogans, Salarians, Quarians, and many more).  Without getting into a huge long drawn out discussion, let me be frank and just say that the biggest difference between the Prothean’s and the modern races was that the Prothean’s were not a peaceful race. They controlled power through a tyrannical government and were reportedly very oppressive to the other races during their time. So much so, we never even hear about the other guys. What little information exists in the game regarding the old races are simply about the Prothean’s with little mention of anyone else. The modern races, represented in the Council and through Shepard’s efforts, while not perfect, made the effort to work together, even more so in the third installment. The Reapers ignored the diplomatic change in civilization.

Convincing an amoral being that you’re not going to ruin the galaxy for everyone else is nearly impossible. In their eyes, organic life is organic life, and must be kept in check. This is why the Reapers should have been Destroyed. My proposal is built from the following ending captured beautifully in Admiral Hackett’s narrative:

A solid Mass Effect game could definitely spring board based on the above ending. The new game should start in the near future, say ten years or so from the events that took place during M3. Why ten years? I think ten years gives a good enough time to allow the worlds damaged during the Reaper invasion to rebuild. Cities could be rebuilt in that time frame, memorials, museums, and military strength as well. The Mass Relays could also be repaired and a new Citadel Council could be established with added races that helped during the war. I would include a Krogan and Quarian representative on the council for obvious reasons. Would the Quarians be “unmasked” now that they have a home world and could stop being vagabond germaphobes? I’ll leave this bit open for debate. It would be interesting to see how the Quarians assimilated into a more broad society.The Krogans would also make for an interesting addition among the civilized galactic community, and they have most definitely earned their place on the council. The Geth should still be on the fringe. Some things cannot be healed with time and the Geth are unpredictable. I would imagine folks surviving the war with the Reapers would have some hostilities toward sentient beings.

More details could be added regarding the other races not included on the Council and some detail needs to be relieved regarding the destiny of past characters. These folks do not need to make a cameo, but the importance of their role in shaping the future cannot be ignored. I think a memorial for Shepard, Anderson, and the Normandy should be a visitable location on Earth in any future Mass Effect game. The one aspect of the previous games they must continue on into any future game is the music, especially from the first game. If your not sure what i’m talking about, check it out below:

My proposal  for the hero is to have a full fledged Spectre story! As “Spectres are not trained, but chosen. Individuals forged in the fire of service and battle—those whose actions elevate them above the rank and file,” the Reaper Invasion would have forged many new recruits across several worlds. The best part in doing a spectre story is being able to craft a hero based off a multinational foundation: the spectre’s work for the council and using the back story similar to the one above, you could create a character from the six council represented races. Could you imagine having a playable Krogan character?!? Mind = blown!

This would also be similar to the way BioWare has established some of their other games in the past. This story would be set up similar to Dragon Age: Origins. Each race would have their own origin story which would then funnel into the main spectre story. You could go as detailed as you wanted. Similar to DA, each race would be better suited for different specializations, such as: a Krogan would not be adept, but would be a dangerous solider. Salarians or Quarians would make great engineers, Asari lethal adept or infiltrators, and humans could play toward a more versatile character.

I’m not sure where the story would lead, but considering the vacuum the Reapers left in their wake, there could be plenty of options to choose from. One could be about Cerberus in the aftermath of the Illusive Man’s death. A company that big and shady wouldn’t go quietly into the night. The Batarian’s could also be a good major story, especially considering they no longer have a home world and are struggling to find their place in the galaxy. The Reapers left plenty of scars to base future story’s on and whatever direction BioWare decides to take with it, they will need to be more down to earth than with the original trilogy. The worlds end doesn’t necessarily need to be a factor in every story told and after the events of M3, i’d prefer something a little more mundane. We just saved the entire galaxy; lets work on maintaining the promise of galactic unity.

Whatever happens, we know that Shepard’s story has ended, but the entire Mass Effect lexicon shouldn’t have to end as well. BioWare scribes have spent some considerable amount of time crafting Mass Effect’s rich universe and there are still many things left unexplored. And to be honest, another reason why i’d hate to see this series end is that Mass Effect is as close to a Star Wars console game we’re going to get. The “force lift” and “push” make the adept character the most enjoyable playable class in Mass Effect, hands down!!! For now, the best we (nerds) have to look forward to is the upcoming release of Dragon Age: Inquisition. After that….just maybe we’ll get our next Mass Effect game. Fantasy is great and it has its place in time, but Mass Effect was a truly unique space odyssey.

mass effect


The Birth of the Worlds Greatest Detective

April 9, 2013, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced the upcoming release of Batman: Arkham Origins, ushering a third installment in an amazing franchise. This begs the question: can Warner Bros. Montreal (the new developer) deliver? Games are always intended to be linear; getting better with time. However, most of us gamers known all too well that this isn’t always the case. Sometimes things just go bad. Back in 2008, there was a lot of doubt surrounding how well Batman: Arkham Asylum would do. Superhero games are some of the hardest to pull off successfully. But oh Nelly!!! Asylum blew all our nerdy expectations out of the water! Still today, five years later, Asylum is very much re-playable and still very much enjoyable.

The same could be said of Arkham City, which released in 2011. The same voice acting carried over and was top notch for both Asylum and Arkham City, with Kevin Conroy as the caped crusader and legendary actor Mark Hamill as both the Joker and Scarface.  The graphics were stunning. The combat smooth and nontechnical. And all the gadgets a budding detective would need in taking down Gotham’s villainy. The only thing missing for me in Arkham City was a continuation of the Killer Croc sub-story that had developed within the pits of Asylum’s sewer. I’m sure there have been other complaints, but for the most part its all nit-picky stuff, nothing fundamentally upsetting. The only thing really nagging me, regarding if Arkham Origins will rock, is that, as mentioned above, WB Montreal are taking the helm, instead of Rocksteady, who had developed the two previous games.

According to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment website, “Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline occurring several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City’s most dangerous villains and assassins, the game showcases a young, raw, unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight. As the story unfolds, witness identities being formed and key relationships being forged.” Thus far, all the press releases following the announcement for Arkham Origins, makes everything seem very hopeful that the game will be one of the best, maybe even perhaps better than Asylum (big maybe).

Some of the new features in the game include new enemies, such as: the Enforcer and a more nimble martial arts experts. The Enforce is as it sounds,  a tank, who will need to be dazed and then dearmored by a special attack move before they can be hurt. The latter is more agile foe, with blocks, evades and counterattacks, prompting the Dark Knight to switch tactics more vigorously between all the different enemy types. The new gadgets seem to involve a deeper level of detective play, such as: recreating a 3D crime scene. There are also some new interesting ways of taking down goons, such as with the remote claw, allowing players to aim between two different targets. The new story looks even deeper than the previous two games, with the Black Mask set as the main antagonist. Not much else has really been said regarding all the new features, though I’m sure there will be a few more announcements sometime soon. The trailer/short film recently released showcases some of the games visuals, as well as some of the subtext that will carry the mood of the game. If you haven’t yet watched it (where have you been?), check it out below:

Batman: Arkham Origins is set to release October 25th, 2013.


Dead Space Goes Fan Fiction

Few games have ever truly terrified me.  Dead Space, however, has proved to be one of those games in the long history of survivor horror in which I was really, honestly, unequivocally freaked out. Sure, the twisted forms in the fog lands of Silent Hill and those cute little dobermans jumping through the looking glass in Resident Evil (Directors Cut) were both frightening, in their own time. But those scares are trivial compared to Dead Space, the only game I dreaded playing with the lights off, but in some strange way, couldn’t help but to play in the dark. The following film was produced by fans of the series. This honestly proves that a live action film could and would work. Can you imagine if Carpenter or Barker or even Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead reboot) got their creepy little hands on this franchise? Mind = Blown!