Dear Diary: 4th March 2010
I love Mass Effect 2 and wish we could have a long term relationship.
I spent last night curled up with Mass Effect 2 and from the way that the recruitment and loyalty quests have suddenly dried up, I think I’m probably nearing the end. This makes me sad. In the forty hours that I’ve spent losing myself in Bioware’s majestic galaxy, I’ve become really attached to the characters and the little corner of the universe they live in.
There was recently some news about how they created a vast amount of lore before the story was penned and it certainly seems to have paid off. I can‘t remember the last time I played a game or watched a TV show that had such a rich, believable context. Of course, I’ve noticed the nods to Star Trek (the Turians have much in common with Cardassians and Legion has parallels with both Hugh Borg and Seven Of Nine) but the shades of grey with which every race has been painted means I’m already more fond of the Mass Effect universe than I am with any of its antecedents.
I’m glad that I didn’t let my stupid obsessive-compulsive nature take over with the resource collecting mini-game, as strip mining every world to depleted would have left me broken. Looking at the sheer number of planets in the game, I can’t help but admire the team that was tasked with writing all of their descriptions. Last night I noticed that the developers have tried to mix up the usual cover-shoot-kill mechanics of the missions with the loyalty quests for Samara and Thane, but while I appreciated the effort, the limitations of the engine made these experiences feel a little shallow and detached from the rest of the game.
I find myself wishing that Mass Effect was a persistent online or episodic game so that my time between the starts wouldn’t have to come to such an abrupt halt, but all good things and that I guess.
It’s also really rather clever how Mass Effect 2 lets me know about my level of progression through the use of the team status menu so I have a rough idea of what is left to do without being attacked by statistics and progress bars. There’s a time and a place for that in my life, which has lead me to make an important decision.
World Of Warcraft is changing and I'm willing to give it another chance.
It’s been nearly a year since I hung up my raiding boots due to yet another guild implosion, but now that Cataclysm can’t be that far away, think I’m ready to return to World Of Warcraft. I know that others will think it makes more sense to pick it up once the expansion has been released, but as the evidence points towards a major overhaul of several fundamental systems, I want to ensure that I’m comfortable with the basics before getting intimate with any new content.
With the benefits of base statistics being reworked and my faithful hunter having his mana pool switched out for a focus system, there is a lot to get my head around before considerations of the instances I’ve missed even come into the equation. Fortunately, I can address the majority of changes alone, because although the dregs of my guild are still kicking around, I just don’t want to get involved with the drama of running about with larger groups just yet.
Before I even get started on any of this though, I need to install the game back onto my desktop machine. Since I don’t really use it for anything else at the moment, I think I’m going to take the opportunity to reformat and upgrade to Windows 7 while I'm at it. However, I first need to make myself a promise that I’ll start playing again with a virgin user interface and not put myself through the agony of setting up all the usual add-ons I run with.
My brain usually dictates that I spend days perfecting the interface by experimenting with hundreds of different add-ons until I have a plethora of hand-crafted, pixel perfect menus. Sadly by this point I’ve often got bored with the game again and end up not actually doing anything worthwhile. Surely the game must still be enjoyable with the default interface? If not, I swear I’ll only find and integrate add-ons only once I need them. With this new beginning though, comes the end of my extremely short affair with Star Trek Online.
Those guys at Cryptic are really confident, maybe too much so.
I haven’t actually captained the USS Aestus for three weeks now, but realised that I should probably cancel my account before I start actually paying for the privilege of not playing. Doing so turned out to be a relatively simple affair, although I was amused by a couple of options during the process. Once having opted to cancel I was asked to state why, one of the options from the drop down menu being ‘problems with my partner and home life’. Wishful thinking if you ask me, I can’t see anyone losing their lives to Star Trek Online in the same way that possible with World Of Warcraft, it’s just not fun enough.
Additionally, I was given the option to close the account immediately and lose any remaining paid game time. Why on earth would anyone choose to do this? The only reason I can think of is that Cryptic think that they have players with so little willpower that they need to permanently remove the temptation of logging in again. While I’m all for a bit of optimism, I’m not sure it’s particularly healthy for developers to launch a game thinking that it’s so good that people are going to be physically unable to stop themselves from playing it.
I think tonight I’ll play a bit of Toy Soldiers before attempting to finish off Mass Effect 2. As much as I don’t want it to end, I really do need to crack on with it because Heavy Rain is still in the shrink wrap and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is coming tomorrow. I can probably kiss a whole day goodbye just for the multiplayer elements of that game and I might even play through the campaign of the first game before tackling single player. So many games, so little time.
I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. Until next time diary.