Mass Effect Andromeda.

So the reviews are out, the early trials are done, and people want to know whether their money was well spent or not.

I am waiting for 9pm PDT for the game to unlock, and find out for myself whether I will regret a 90$ preorder or not.

For most people, I am gonna say 9/10 people, think that Andromeda is/was developed by the very same studio that developed games like KOTOR, Jade Empire, Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Neverwinter Nights and its expansions, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the Mass Effect Trilogy. I’m gonna tell you straight out, people who think that are not only 100% wrong, they are also willfully ignorant, and are tainting their reviews/critiques/criticism by that belief. Bioware Edmonton developed and created all those games you remember and loftily hold up as standards for a Bioware game.

Mass Effect Andromeda, was developed by Bioware Montreal, their first game for that studio. I’m sure people on that team have developed other games before, but as a studio Andromeda is their first and only game so far. The team worked on Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3. This means a different vision and design, writing, and different standards from your “typical” Bioware game.

It was also known for at least the 4 or 5 years it was in development that this was a Bioware Montreal game, and not the venerable Bioware Edmonton studio.

I am eager to find out myself how the game is, but from initial impressions (Victor Lucas from the Electronic Playground/Reviews on the Run/Judgement Day, who as been involved in the gaming industry and reviewing games since 1997,) it generally seems like a disappointment to most. However, I think it’s wise to reserve judgement until more people have played the game and see what the typical Mass Effect fan thinks. I say this because there is sometimes a fundamental disconnect on “Critical Reviews” by *cough* gaming journalists for a Mass Effect game in particular. When the reviews and judgments rolled out for Mass Effect 3 initially they were hugely favorable with the game being praised at excellent. However, these same reviews also happened not to mention the 3 colored, lots of questions for everyone, Buy More DLC endings that were present at launch. Pre-extended cut, of course. And many of the same reviewers, also continued laud and commend Bioware on the very disappointing vanilla endings we got as more and more people finished the game and were outraged about the rushed ending. An ending that was described by the Devs as not an A or B or C type ending and not an ending that would raise more questions than it would answer. Reviewers felt the need to defend their review score by marginalizing the outrage over the endings by claiming it was just a vocal minority and that people who did not enjoy the ending were being whiny, entitled, children who can’t or won’t appreciate the magnificence of the 3 colored explosion, lots of questions for everyone, Buy more fucking DLC ending we got.

Mass Effect games in particular are usually meant to be repeatedly played through, to experience the game as a different role, romance a different character, and make different choices. In your typical review, you don’t get a sense of this. They are just playing through as quickly as possible to get their review out first so more people click to read it or watch it on youtube. They are also usually click baity, more often than not, with the emphasis on getting out there first.

Review scores are often only useful for people on the outside looking in, in terms of gaming this means the mainstream, on whether what ever game is worth your 60$ USD, in my case 90$ CAD. In a mass effect fan context, review scores are less than useful, and only are worth it for pointing out glaring flaws, bugs, or question design choices.

I often wait to buy any game, until it’s on sale for 40$ or less. Games I’ve bought recently for these prices or less, are: Deus Ex Mankind Divided, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Rise of the Tomb Raider, DOOM, Far cry Primal. It will also probably be the case for games like Dishonored 2, Nier: Automata, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, etc.

To me a Mass Effect game is not about combat, animations, multiplayer, graphics, or even gameplay. It’s about interacting with your crew, making difficult choices, creating a character, and relationships. All I care about in a mass effect game is story and characters.

All I’m hoping for from Andromeda, is a decent story with interesting characters and making impactful choices with actual consequence or meaning.

I’ll post again in a few days or a week to really discuss how I think Andromeda is or whether it was worth my 90$ CAD.

If you are looking for a recommendation or not, that is entirely up to you, but don’t let some meme bullshit about facial animations be your only reason to not try it out. If money is an issue, then by all means wait for a sale, there is no harm in waiting and you are often more than satisfied with your purchase when it costs 40$ or less.

As for me, I’m going to wait the hour and half or so, until my game unlocks so I can see if Bioware Montreal was able to successfully make a decent mass effect game and if the changes were positive or not.

See you on the other side.

What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for March 2017.

Damn, these months going by so fast.

Anyways, I’m gonna start with gaming because it’s my primary interest and this month, Mass Effect: Andromeda is gonna be released. I caved and ordered it, after watching the gameplay vids. Specifically, the combat and talents video. Can’t wait to play it. Preload starts on the 17th, which makes it as good fucking omen to me, as it’s the same day as my birthday.

At the moment, I’ve been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, I’m liking it so far as all the changes have been, for the most part, positive ones. The combat was kinda weird at first, but I liked it after some play time. The combo finishers are a little finicky, as is tool combos, but still it’s decent. The game seems rather short, both storywise and length wise, and it’s filled with a lot of side missions and collectibles that are at best, just barely above meaningless. Still, while the collectibles and side quests were mediocre and some times tedious, I ended up doing them anyways, which makes them sufficient enough to hold my interest. I can finish the game at anytime by doing the short story missions but I like exploring London, I also like that there is a small part of WW2 London to explore. So it was well worth the sub 40$ price I paid for it, I even got all the DLC on a sale for cheap too. The Last Maharaja was rather short and only slightly interesting. Dreadful crimes was a nice contrast the typical gameplay of Assassin’s Creed, I’m a sucker for detective type gameplay, so I ended up liking it a lot. I haven’t got around to the Jack the Ripper stuff yet, so no opinion on that right now but I’m looking forward to it.

I straight up quit playing WoW. For the same reason as most do, are at least a similar reason many do, my/their friends. My reason is that my friends moved away from doing Mythic Plus dungeons, something I enjoyed and was able to keep up Ilvl wise and DPS wise with heroic raiders. But really, no one ever quits and its usually just a matter of time before going back but at the moment I have no desire to play and I haven’t played a single minute in the last 3 weeks. I still have gametime, up until the end of March, but I really don’t seeing myself playing WoW anytime soon.

Onto audiobooks now, I used my 2 audible credits to get The Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski (the last book in the Witcher series) and The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, they will be released on the 14th and 21st respectively. I’m looking forward to both, but more excited to listen to the Lady of the Lake as it will complete the series for me and I’ve been waiting over a year for it.

I finished The Story of Your life and others by Ted Chiang and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman last week.

I immensely enjoyed Gaiman’s North Mythology and his extremely good narration. I was already familiar with most of the north myths and gods from the Saxon Stories/Last Kingdom series, but I enjoyed the re-telling of the myths and Gaiman’s short introduction to the stories. It was definitely worth pre-ordering and was something I was looking forward to listening to for months now, and it surpassed my expectations. So far all the Neil Gaiman stuff I’ve picked up has been great, and his narration is quite good.

The Story of Your Life and Others, was excellently narrated by Todd McLaren and Abby Craden. However, the short stories were hit and miss for me, although it was more hit than miss. I picked it up to listen to the short story that Arrival was based on and was not disappointed at all, it was a good story with very interesting points to consider. I particularly enjoyed Tower of Babylon, Understand, and Division by Zero, those were especially good and were very intriguing concepts to consider while listening to a compelling story. I thought the last 3 stories were uninteresting and rather boring stories, which were The Evolution of Human Science, Hell Is the Absence of God, Liking What You See: A Documentary, but they did provide some interesting ideas to consider.

I am currently listening to The Aeronaut’s Windlass: The Cinder Spires, Book 1 by Jim Butcher, narrated by Euan Morton. I am about 7 hours in and very much enjoying the story and characters so far. I was hesitant about it and worried that I would not like the this book but I find the story, world, and characters quite compelling. I especially like the ship combat so far. I am only 7 hours into the 21 hour audiobook but I am definitely liking everything so far. The narration is good so far as well, that was my biggest concern so far and I am happy that my initial worry is not an issue.

I still have Lifeblood + Bloodcircle by P.N. Elrod and The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell to listen to but I’m confident I’ll finish them by next month. It’s been nice to just pick up a new series or jump to a new book when ever I like or care to, it’s reaffirmed my desire to listen or read at least 2 books a month again.

I got around to watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as Inferno, this month. I thought Fantastic Beasts was a solid and enjoyable movie but something I’ll probably only ever watch once. Inferno was decent movie as well, it made me want to check out the books even more. I have this thing where if a movie is based on a book, I like to read/listen to the book version and see how well adapted it was. I’ve already read The Da Vinci Code but that is the only book in the series I’ve read. After watching Inferno, I was compelled to add the Langdon books to my audible wishlist.

I also picked up Arrival on bluray, well worth the money to me, as I loved the movie. And having read the short story is was based on, I like it even more. The special features are pretty good, it really shows that Denis Villeneuve has a great eye for talent. I was also intrigued that many of the people he worked with on Sicario also worked on Arrival. Both of which are favorite movies of mine.

I’m picking up Dr. Strange on blu ray this week and I am looking forward to watching it again, I just hope there are some decent special features for it as that is really what makes picking things up on blu ray worth while or not.

Assassin’s Creed is out on the 21st on blu ray this month and it’s something that I may pick up as well.

Star Wars: Rogue One is available on streaming services this month as well, I’m hoping it will be on the canadian version of Netflix. I’ll pick up the blu ray on April 4th for sure.

I binged watched 5 episodes of the Expanse last week, it is an extremely good show and I can’t wait to finish season 1 and then get into season 2 which is current airing now. I will definitely pick up the audiobooks, probably within the next few months.

Like I said at the start of this post, I am extremely looking forward to playing Mass Effect: Andromeda later this month. I am also hoping that John Wick 2 and Logan are released on blu ray quickly as I really want to watch both.

Mass Effect Andromeda Combat Official Gameplay footage.

So this video, and the choice of what weapon loadout and power set up it shows, convinced me to absolutely pick this up on launch. The tough choice is now whether I should pick up the standard version or the deluxe version that is only 10$ more. I’ll probably end up with the deluxe version even though Origin usually offers a deluxe upgrade later and that it also usually goes for cheap on a sale. Either way, I’m pumped for this and can’t wait to jump into a new Mass Effect.

I think I wanna try build a close quarters combat Biotic, with that sweet Asari sword and a focus on powers similar to a Mass Effect 3 Vanguard. I will probably use a SMG to take down shields and such or a Shotgun to double down on the close quarters combat.

what I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for February 2017.

So, another month quickly gone by. I’ve already posted the movies I’ve watched in a post cleverly called “Some Movies I saw last week, part 2” (the first part being like a moth to flame for random spammers to make comment posts for some reason.)

Anyways, gonna start out with movies because I always start off with audiobooks or games, so I finally picked up The Star Wars Complete Saga Bluray edition and the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Bluray, literally years later. I picked up star wars because Rogue Fucking One was good enough to make it my favorite star wars movie, above the original trilogy, well past the prequels (of which I do not hate like most people do), and definitely more than the Force Awakens (although it is pretty good.) I know you are gonna make me rank this shit, so let me do that right now. Save your flustered mouth sounds, or as Ari Shaffir calls it “the sound of white injustice”, until the end of the list.

  1. Star Wars: Rogue One
  2. Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back
  3. Star Wars: A New Hope
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  6. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  7. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
  8. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Ok, now you can make your flustered sounds and mutter to your screen about how wrong I am.

I picked up picked up The Lord of the Rings Extended edition because it was only 39$, which I thought was a pretty fucking good price and I was tired of watching it in DVD Quality. I also made the conscious decision to pick it because I did not want to wait around to get in 4k or 4k with HDR, both of which are although cool as fuck are crazy niche right now. 4k and HDR are have such little content and so little people have both or even one that it qualifies being categorized as esoteric.

So, with both series, I will be doing a re-watch, starting with Star Wars Original trilogy first, then the Prequels, then the Force Awakens, then into the Lord of the Rings, followed by the Hobbit trilogy that really should have been 2 movies (although still decent, not hating on it.) Also, a leaked time frame for Rogue One bluray release date is around the end of march, which seems pretty fucking early but I sincerely hope it is because I wanna re-watch it so bad right now.

On the audiobook side of things, I am currently listening to P.N Elrod’s very entertaining “Vampire Files.” I was kinda hesitant picking something up completely new and little research done on but I was pleasantly surprised by it. It has everything I like: a decent story, compelling or interesting characters, decent dialogue, and Vampires. Mostly Vampires though, it can’t be just anything with vampires though, it has to be vampires done well or at least interesting (that means no twilight for me, I’m more of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel dude.) I liked the story enough in the first one and liked the Jack Fleming character enough to get the next two books in the series.

I also had a Jules Winnfield type moment of clarity, I don’t have to read every book in the series before moving onto the next one. Which is of course what I’ve been doing so far, I read (listened to rather) all but the last book in the Saxon Stories/Last Kingdom series (which is pretty good, Uhtred of Bebbanberg is such a good character and it’s refreshing to see a non romanticized or idealized historical take on Christianity.) I have the last book in the series so far, The Flame Bearer, but was craving something different so I jumped into the Vampire Files. From there I had my Jules Winnfield “moment of clarity” about reading or listening to audiobooks in a series. It’s a big change for me because up until now I fucking devoured every series I picked up and read/listened until I finished every book in a series before jumping into something new or different.

This approach is a refreshing change because I was kinda losing interest in keeping up with my 2 books read or 2 audiobooks listened to per month new years resolution I made a couple of years ago, and this sort of renews my interest as I will probably just listen to what I like or please to in the future. The timing on the “moment of clarity” is also fortuitous as Neil Gaiman’s new book “Norse Mythology” is out on audible next week, I am extremely looking forward to listening to it. It also lets me check out some other stuff I’ve been looking at for a while like from this reddit post from Joe Abercrombie, some other related books or series based on Abercrombie’s recommendations (like Richard Matheson’s  Shadow on the Son or Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles), why am I doing this the long way lemme just link my audible wish list. Out of the all the books in my wish list, I am looking forward to checking out the Expanse the most, it will probably be next series I will jump into.

Gaming wise, I’ve been slacking on my 1 week in or out shit, as I should probably already finished Assassin’s Creed Syndicate by now, but I’ve been gone for a couple of days on a trip this month, being sick the last few days of and currently still a little under the weather. I’ve played about an hour or so of AC: Syndicate and liked it so far, it’s crazy how long it took ubisoft to make a female assassin playable and a main character.

WoW has been taking up the majority of my time, as usual, because the changes in 7.1. I was able to level a Demon Hunter to 110 and get my artifact knowledge up to 25 quickly because of the catch up mechanics and also get an Ilevel of 874 in less than a month or so, which is pretty crazy because my it’s the same Ilevel as my rogue which I have played for months now. My Death Knight is approaching geared levels as well thanks to mythic plus 10’s.

I’m gonna start watching The Expanse season one soonish, as soon as I’m done my re-watches mentioned above, I had to stop at episode 2 because my internet was pretty shitty at the time and could barely stream with out multiple buffering  and quality shifts. My internet is more reliable now and I’m looking forward to continuing with the Expanse.

The Arrival is expected to be released on Feb 14th, and I am extremely looking forward to picking up and re-watching it, I may even pick up the short story it was based on by picking up this from audible.

Some Movies I saw last week, part 2.

So during my trip to Vancouver last week I watched a couple of movies, pretty good ones too.

Star Wars: Rogue One – Great movie, it pays homage to the look, feel and story of the original trilogy but really tell’s its own self contained story that I think surpasses anything and everything that the original trilogy offered. The original trilogy had the problem of relaying the “cost” and ethics/morality of a rebellion, and Rogue One really does capture the heroic freedom fighters type vibe the original trilogy had but also includes the end justify’s the means and at all costs type of personalities that also would be in a rebellion. The people who do the dirty work and get results but still remain likeable/relatable/identifiable as characters. My favorite character of the lot is Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera, it was extremely refreshing to see a Star War’s character in the rebellion that is not a paragon of virtue/morality/ethics, but a militant extremist willing to do anything to get something done. The story was great, and it was satisfying to see an ending like that, one that did not need to be necessarily happy. In the first 5 minutes you get that isn’t going to be a Star Wars movie you would expect, and immediately draws you in with a compelling story and cast of characters.

Dr Strange – A good movie, one the better origin stories done for a marvel cinematic universe character. I had no real expectations for this movie, other that it was gonna probably be decent, funny in parts, with good actors, and witty dialogue, so I was rather still very impressed by it. It had a good story with some very strong actors. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, and Mads Mikkelsen, all great actors and all put in great performances. Also, the whole white washing controversy with Tilda Swinton which I think is typical social reactionary bullshit, the internet makes such BS issues an echo chamber with a group of people who never consider the why of an issue/topic/idea first before jumping all in on cries of white washing or whatever the social topic de jour is, very similar to the same BS cries of white washing used against Matt Damon in the Great Wall. Kinda went on a rant there but whatever, if you don’t like it, please continue to not like it just fucking think about it. Benadryl Cucumberpatch is great in his role as Steven Strange and I’m interested to see him in other MCU fims.

Passengers – Similar to Dr. Strange, I went in with no real expectations and kinda misled on the premise of the movie by the shitty advertising but came out really liking the movie. I thought it told a good story with some good performances by Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence and Lawrence Fishbourne. A good movie in my opinion as you rarely get a science fiction movie where the conflict is a personal one and done with such a small cast. This is another movie where I don’t agree with critics or people’s general criticism or negative reviews. It most definitely is not a below average movie, I think it’s a good movie and basically I’m right and everyone else is stupid and wrong. You’ll get over my disappointment and judgement of you.

Arrival – This one is an extremely good movie, a scifi movie as well that has an excellent story with a great performance by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. If you haven’t seen it, go fucking watching it. Stop fucking reading this and watch it.

Split – You just read my arrival shit right? Now fucking do the same for Split. The story and characters are extremely well done, James McAvoy is excellent in this movie and Anya Taylor-Joy is also great. Seriously, go fucking watch this movie now. If you are one of the people who doesn’t react at the end, count yourself in the unwashed masses crowd, you philistine.

Live by Night – I was excited to see this movie because I enjoyed the book by Dennis Lehane and the character of Joe Coughlin. While I enjoyed the movie and even liked it, I found it disappointing because a good book was adapted into a just a decent movie. I enjoyed the movie because a majority of my favorite sequences in the book were faithfully adapted and the characters were done well and acted well. Ben Affleck does a good portrayal of Joe Coughlin and also does a good job of directing this movie. The story and characters are well adapted, the visuals are good, and the pacing is good, so over all I think its decent movie that is bordering on being good one.

If I had to pick one favorite of the lot, I’d pick Arrival, followed extremely closely by Rogue One and Split. However, the movie that impressed me the most was Split, followed closely by Rogue One and Dr. Strange.

Really, do yourself a favor if you haven’t watched Arrival or Split yet, go and watch them both ASAP and thank me later.

Suicide Squad.

Another late to the party first impression or take.

Why didn’t people like this movie? I thought it was a great adaptation of the comics and characters that stayed pretty faithful to the source material. It was kinda flimsy with the sorceress and her brother as the enemy but it did provide the framework to tell and sell the story. Every member of the suicide squad was interesting and compelling, excellently and faithfully adapted into characters for film. Deadshot and his daughter was captured pretty well, the great take on the relationship between Harley and the Joker, really showed commitment to the source material while still being adapted well for a movie. I particularly enjoyed El Diablo, as there is massive lack of mexican ethnicity characters in any super hero movie or comic, his character and his backstory was extremely compelling.

The story, while predictable in some parts, I thought was enjoyable. The backstory flashbacks were done very well, in fact the movie started off pretty strongly because of how well they were done. I thought the movie did well to connect the DC universe starting with Batman vs Superman, which I also liked, and did well enough to be “it’s own movie.” Meaning it wasn’t DC’s version of The Avengers or the X-men, or even similar to Nolan’s Batman, Snyder’s Man of Steel or Batman v Superman.

The special features are also pretty good. Although short and not many, it provided some nice background on characters and their gear. I particularly enjoyed the character inspirations and motives part, it gave me more reason to like El Diablo and Waller.

I seriously don’t get why the movie isn’t more popular at all or how anyone would rate it disappointing in any way.