Category Archives: nostalgia

Dreadaxe Gaming: Mass Effect Legendary Edition (ME2 so far)

Mass Effect 2 is a different beast from the first. It moves with more urgency, there’s a larger team to recruit and get to know, and loads more of the galaxy to explore. With the Legendary Trilogy released this month, I have had the joy of blasting my way through these games for the first time in nearly a decade.

While I gave a slight plot overview in the previous post, I’ll be delicate here because a lot happens in the opening couple of hours. Suffice to say, Commander Shepard is roped into investigating the disappearances of several human colonies on the edges of space this time around. It’s up to the player to assemble a team of new operatives and familiar faces from across the galaxy to help the mission.

What set this game apart from other games I owned back in the 2010s was the ability to import your character from the first into the second (and eventually the third). This meant your character and their decisions- big and small- could be carried over and expanded upon in subsequent Mass Effects, changing aspects of the experience between playthroughs. Some characters might survive or die in one game based on your decisions, with that effect being felt somewhere down the line. It’s also interesting running into an NPC from ME1 that remembers who you are or how you treated them in the past, or if you were responsible for saving or killing their colleagues.

I like the amount of choice that you’re given in here, with your armour being customisable this time around as well as your ship having upgrades available for crafting. There’s a heap of content in the form of side quests and loyalty missions, as well as all the gathered DLC too. You feel like you have control over readying the crew of the Normandy for the final push and that every side quest is worth it, even if it’s just for a couple of damage or armour upgrades.

The combat in ME2 has always felt more sleek and loose compared to the slight clunkiness of the first. The guns don’t always feel like they pack a punch though, and I find that overall the enemies tend to be more bullet spongy. The vehicle sections are gone and surveying planets is done from the comfort of the ship, which is neither a positive or negative change really; the Mako was quite infamous for pissing off players of ME1 but I find scanning planets over and over again instead to be more annoying sometimes.

All in all, Mass Effect 2 is a great game that’s just hampered by one or two odd design choices. It’s difficult not to weigh it against its predecessor, but I think it stands well on its own two feet and delivers a darker story on a much grander scale, one that is all too happy to remind you that your choices have consequences.

Plus, all the DLC is woven into the experience as well. What more could you want?

Dreadaxe Gaming: Mass Effect Legendary Edition (ME1 so far)

Mass Effect 1 was one of those games that got me through some tough times. I got into it a few years after its original release in 2007, by which point the second one was out as well, and they were among my most played games on the Xbox 360 at the time. These games fought off hours of boredom and I guess even loneliness as well, keeping me occupied late into the night and waking me early in the morning to play again. I pored over the first game the most however; although I had played RPGs before, I hadn’t played anything like this or indeed any BioWare game until then.

Now it is 2021 and the series has been scooped together into one package with all DLCs (bar one, which thankfully most consider to be the least important of the lot anyway); ME1 has had a visual facelift to bring it closer to the 2nd and 3rd games, along with some other tweaks to the combat, driving, and loading times. I’ve quickly fallen back into the routine of playing a few missions, talking with NPCs, upgrading gear and inspecting everything that I can find to the point that I don’t even realise how much time has passed. It’s not just the nostalgia of the game itself that’s hitting me, but I feel like I’m back in my old flat in 2010, becoming absorbed in this sci fi universe for the first time.

The story follows Commander Shepard (male or female, your choice) as they hunt down a rogue Council agent called Saren, exploring worlds, piecing together a crew and doing whatever work the Alliance throws your way. While the main story revolves around the hunt, side quests pad out the experience and provide some world-building, as well as opportunities to earn more XP and gear. Mass Effect has a reputation for being a cinematic game, and you are asked how you want to respond to events in the form of dialogue and actions. This also builds Shepard into a character of their own, allowing the player to shape them into a noble and patient hero, a temperamental child who punches folk, or someone in between. These narrative moments fuel the game in a big way and become as addictive as the combat.

The changes to the HUD and the Mako’s aiming system are very welcome, and you can feel that the combat has been tightened up to a certain degree. I’ve only been playing through as an Engineer class but have found the combat abilities to be responsive and much more effective than I remember them being, though the aiming of said abilities can feel hit or miss at times. Also, the squad members have never looked better, and the way that they weigh in on events that occur as you play is one of the little bits of magic about the Mass Effect series as a whole. Tinkering with loadouts and armour takes on a life of its own too as you find yourself in pursuit of those sweet higher numbers!

Is it perfect? No. It’s easy to forget that this is no remake; there are sharper visuals and general quality of life improvements across the board but it still handles like it did over 10 years ago- that’s not necessarily a bad thing- but it is worth remembering when playing. I’ve been having issues with squadmates ignoring commands, or getting left behind and trapped at automatic doors, something I only notice when I have wandered solo into a deadly gunfight. There’s a handful of audio problems such as distortion and warping of effects that are too high in the mix (Saren’s ship, various generator noises, etc) and they can become quite ear-shredding when they are on a constant loop.

Minor gripes aside, I’ve been having a whale of a time replaying Mass Effect 1. I think that BioWare have made slight improvements where it matters and maintained the integrity of the experience, though there are little annoyances here and there. This remains one of the most engrossing games that I’ve played and is packed with interesting characters, intricate galactic politics and explosive action. It really is worth checking out if you are a longtime fan on the brink of picking up the trilogy, or a newcomer who missed out the first time around.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Barrow-wights

I’ve not been sleeping very well over the course of the last two weeks, with sleep disturbed by odd wake-up times and the odd nightmare. As such, my day-to-day workings have been fairly skewed and that goes for the painting as well. Still, I’ve found some pockets of time to get work done on the minis in my cabinet, and have managed to finish a couple of Lord of the Rings models. Being tired as hell, they are two of the easiest miniatures that I could paint.

The Barrow-wights act as ‘captains’ for an Angmar army, being classed as a Hero of Fortitude which allows them to lead their own warband of 12. With decent stats and the ability to paralyse enemies, a Barrow-wight seems to be a bargain at 50pts. I painted them up to reflect their appearance in various pieces of Lord of the Rings artwork, having a more earthy/dead flesh colour to them than the default paintjob from the website. I would have liked to have attempted an even darker colour to match that of the spirit that appeared on the Barrow-downs in the LotR: War in the North video game, but I didn’t want them to end up blending in with the Ringwraiths.

As for the models themselves, they bring back pleasant memories. I used to have the ‘Fog on the Barrow-downs’ set that GW came out with about 15 years ago, a set that included Tom Bombadil, Goldberry and a quartet of Barrow-wights; unfortunately the contents of that kit have long since left my possession. I recently bought this pair of Barrow-wights from GW, overjoyed (and also surprised) that they were still in production.

I’m aiming to getting my Imperial Guard Scions finished by the end of April, which is a generous deadline to say the least. I’ll see how my sleeping improves.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Hobby Progress (13th March)

A few days ago, I made the smart decision to start building the last Imperial Guard model that was yet to be assembled, the Hellhound kit that was a gift from Christmas that I hadn’t gotten around to. Unfortunately, I forgot that there was a reason I’d been leaving this can of worms to one side for a later date.

Jokes aside, this wasn’t as painful as I anticipated. The bulk of the Chimera chassis came together easily, and the interior was fiddly as hell though I didn’t encounter anything too bad. One of the armour plates refused to seal with the plastic glue, but this was down to a wonky strut that hadn’t gone into place.

The chassis and the loose plates were sprayed in grey while the drums for the interior were primed in black, then painted up with Leadbelcher. After a black ink wash and some time to dry, I could finally put it all together. In case you can’t tell, I hate doing models in sub-assemblies. It makes me twitch, maybe because you have loads of half-painted, semi-built parts everywhere with the increased chance of something going walkabout.

It’s fully built and ready for the standard vehicle rundown, but I want to take a break from painting up another tank a) until the Basilisk is fully painted, and b) after I’ve painted up some more infantry. At this point in time I’m torn between painting the Command Squad or the Scions next.

The Tainted. He just looks really sad.

In other news, I finally replaced my Witch-king mini that got damaged beyond repair around 6 years ago. That was a Witch-king on fell beast though, a model I had built at whatever age, 15 maybe? It had been hanging on for dear life ever since and after two house moves and 12 years of bumps and scrapes, the ancient superglue and modelling cement finally gave way when my wife bumped into a table he was balancing on. I’d never seen a metal miniature break into so many pieces before.

That was probably my last metal mini, no joke. This week, however, I was looking at LOTR minis online and figured it might indeed be time to replace him. The fell beast mini was gone from GW’s store but I picked up a Witch-king happily riding his horse, accompanied by a few badass-looking Ringwraiths.

Maybe after all these years, I’ve been wrong about metal miniatures. Maybe back when I was wrestling Mordor Trolls together at the age of 15, the superglue was just bollocks. Building these guys was quite relaxing, and they required little to no clean-up (apart from the resin King himself). It’s been an hour and they still haven’t fallen apart!

As always, thanks for reading and take care.

A Relictor Ancient- a WIP

It’s no secret that I love the old White Dwarf magazines, especially the ones around 2004-2005 when you had all the mad shit going down with the Inquisition and Sisters of Battle range, large manic battle reports and some pretty random articles mixed in. While I don’t hate the way that things are with the magazine these days, I read a lot of the beloved issues back in the day and still enjoy going back to them for inspiration and tips.

As I mentioned in a previous lore post, my main point of reference for the Relictors is White Dwarf #295, where they featured in Chapter Approved. This was the first time that I had encountered these Space Marines outside of the Armageddon codex, getting a taste of what a renegade Space Marine army was like.

standard bearer

Chapter Approved laid out the ground rules for using a Relictors army, and featured some relics that these Space Marines could take. Characters could have anything from a Dark Blade to a Pandemic Staff, to a Dread Axe even, all through the roll of a D6 before the game. What was also interesting is that the same applied to banners. Now, this was all under the notion that the player would have both the Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine codices to hand, one for selecting their army and the other to find out what bizarre side effects theses relics would conjure.

“Just as the senior members of the Relictors bear Daemon weapons to war, so too does the Chapter make use of captured banners, icons and standards, believing the unholy powers bound within these relics can be turned upon their erstwhile masters.” (pg. 73, White Dwarf #295)

This acted as an upgrade to a standard bearer, and so I thought that I would take the opportunity to customise a figure that I plan on using. I have put together an ancient for use in the backfield, making use of some extra pieces from the Blood Angels kit, sternguard kit and some old command squad gubbins that were lying around. In the spirit of the old mags, he is equipped with a Chaos banner.

The icon for Chaos Undivided is quite grisly, however it was the least offensive of the four available that I could find. Sure there’s an Imperial Guard skull and helmet lodged on the top, but the Relictors have slain members of the Guard in the past. If anything, they probably would have scoffed when they saw it!

I got the icon itself from eBay, the rest being built from spares. Gradually I’m wanting to whittle down the amount of loose marine parts that are kicking about and maximise any customisation and kitbashing that I can, maybe extending to creating a lieutenant or two as well. Time for painting has been minimal with exams popping up here and there, hence the small assembly projects on the side, but I plan to resume this coming week.

Thanks for stopping by!