Tag Archives: rpg

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?

Lockdown Gaming, pt6: Vampyr

Playstation Plus put on an interesting free game this month in the form of Vampyr, an action-RPG game released back in 2018. This was a game that I had been interested in for a couple of years, unfortunately getting swept under the rug by whatever the hell I was playing back then. Now seemed like a time to right that wrong.

Set in London in 1918 during a brutal epidemic, the player controls the character of Dr Jonathan Reid who was been attacked by a vampire and left for dead. Springing back to life with undead vigour, Jonathan is flung into a difficult predicament, being a surgeon of some renown as well as a creature of the night with a thirst for blood.

There’s many mechanics at work in this game: part of Vampyr is a semi-open world which sees you speak to NPCs, take side jobs, trade and gain cash and experience; there’s also combat, where you fight fanatical vampire hunters and other beasties using Reid’s own vampiric powers, and another aspect of the game where you manage the health and well-being of the various districts and boroughs in a kind of ‘local doctor’ sim fashion. It all melds together into one game bizarrely well, and becomes extremely immersive once you get into your stride.

I enjoyed the combat the most, a mostly melee affair with some gunplay if you choose to use a revolver in your off-hand. In all, it flows in an almost Bloodborne/Assassin’s Creed-like manner, especially when using the lock-on feature. I found that once you start mixing your chose vampire abilities into the fights too, these scraps can take on a whole new form and really show what the game’s upgrade system has to offer.

Managing the health of the boroughs is done through healing NPCs of diseases that afflict them, such as sepsis, migraines, the cold etc, and also not harvesting them for their XP. The amount of XP carried by each NPC varies and can increase after you do some investigatory work by talking with them and other characters in their social circle. Choosing to ’embrace’ them nets you their blood XP which can be exchanged for vampiric upgrades, but weakens the overall health and stability of the district.

Killing NPCs may get you the blood XP but it also has negative effects on the district, such as seeing more patrols or beasties on the streets as a result. One merchant I encountered even stopped selling their wares out of depression, after their significant other was feasted on by some unscrupulous vampire that totally wasn’t me….

There are a couple of mildly annoying little niggles that bother me about Vampyr, however great it is on the surface. One of these is the stamina meter, which degrades when sprinting or dodging, but also with every swing of whatever weapon you have equipped. These are essentially “light” attacks you’re using, and to have these consume stamina seems very odd. I’m also at odds with myself for thinking this game should have a fast travel system too, as I have found myself exhaustively hoofing it across multiple boroughs to reach quest points or various characters, but I guess this is so you get to experience the surroundings that your decisions have helped to shape, both positive and negative.

On the whole, I found Vampyr to be a solid RPG with an addictive neighbourhood management sim at the heart of it. The setting and time period make it somewhat unique, and I found myself exploring every nook of the darkened London streets just soaking up the atmosphere. While it has some issues in combat and in performance in general, I’d easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good RPG game.

Lockdown Gaming, pt2: Fallout 4

I’m finding a lot of comfort in video games right now. With the state of the world at the moment, it’s quite difficult to focus on most things. I wanted to revisit a game that I put many hours into some years back, but never really tied up properly in terms of cleaning up side quests and exploring areas.

I didn’t really know what to write for Fallout 4; it’s a difficult game to digest. In my opinion it’s not as much fun as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, although it does regurgitate some things from these games. It feels more like a retread of 3 for those that missed it some years prior, with some sections (one piece of DLC in particular) seeming like they have been ripped from the previous game with tiny changes and a graphical upgrade.

Without comparing it too much to New Vegas, it’s definitely more of streamlined RPG experience in this outing. The shooting is certainly tighter, and the explosives pack one hell of a punch this time around too. The combat was an area of the older games that was the least polished, but in 4 it really shines.

The main protagonist having a voice was a huge change at the time, although a welcome one, and I forgot just how stunning the sound design is overall. It’s a breath of fresh air getting to see and hear your character come to life in such a way. The factions and supporting characters are varied too and inject some urgency into the story, and it all culminates pretty well.

At time of writing I am just about wrapped up with the Nuka World DLC, with the main storyline being long finished. It’s been fun for the most part exploring areas that I had not before and tying up some loose ends here and there. I’ve just never been that fond of it as a Fallout game. It’s not a bad game by a long shot, just that it lacks some of the charm, and even some of the soul, of its predecessors.

But there we have it for now. I hope you’re all well and taking care.