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Mass Effect + Destiny + A Hot Mess – Bioware Writing = Anthem

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , on February 3, 2019 by Rabidgames

First of all, Anthem is better than Rabidgames expected. The flying is pretty cool, and the good old Mass Effect primer/detonator combos are back. In its best moments, when there is some flow and your team works together well, it really feels like Mass Effect plus jetpack. And some guy split in three is interesting, well, unless you know Kingdom Hearts where one guy splits himself into 13.

Anyway, sometimes better than expected does not mean anywhere above the line of average. Anthem has some good sides, but the bad sides prevail. By a mile. Shooting bullet sponges has been bad since Destiny (and that was even worse in The Division, where seemingly human bosses survive 5 magazines of lead in their head), and Anthem is as just not food enough here. While you can mix and match flying/gliding and shooting after a bit of practice, it doesn’t make up for the shooting being two leagues below Destiny. You don’t have to like Destiny to admit that they absolutely nailed the shooting …

Furthermore, the gameplay loop is boring: Go there, shoot baddies, upload something, go somewhere else, rinse and repeat, oh look, a boss. Even if the shooting was top-notch (nope), and even if combos were as fluent and intuitive as in Mass Effect (again, nope), it would just be en par with Destiny … at most. But when you end up flying through a mostly empty world for 3 minutes, you get bored quicker than in other games where you walk for ten seconds between shoot-outs. Even worse, the cringe-worthy story told by NPCs that looked ancient 5 years ago … There is no excuse for something that bad from fucking Bioware! Dude gets artefact, smashes it, gets split into three, his worst and dumbest third escapes the city, you get him back, only for the game to freeze in the cutscene that explains it … well done, Bioware.

Speaking of freezing, lags, crashes, connection issues, frame-rate problems and the loss of sound – yes, Anthem has all of this and more. Guys, this is a demo, isn’t it? You want people to convince to buy the game. Instead, hardly anything works as intended. Even worse, Friday was kind of stable, Saturday was less, and hardly anything worked on Sunday. That’s quite poor.

Also, the story. Anthem is like Destiny there – some mysterious stranger, sorry, energy source that can somehow alter reality … Sure, we don’t need all the details now, but after Destiny, mysterious hints are suspicious of a shit show in the story department. Bad dialogues and boring mission design don’t help there either. Absolutely nothing of interest except the guy made threefold happens – so where’s the catch?

Given the utterly idiotic way PS4 gamers will be the last to see the game – and thereby maybe the luckier ones as they’ll know what they’re getting into – we might know soon if the final version of Anthem is indeed ready. But here’s the thing: if, and that’s a big IF, hell, a couple of big IFs, if the game fixes its technical issues, if the story develops into something decent and if Anthem ends up with good content, then it might be a game worth looking at. But the demo does not help – if you judge Anthem by it, it’s a broken mess that is nowhere near Destiny or Warframe.

Rabdigames shakes his weary head: A demo should make people buy the game. In this case, that won’t happen. An unfinished mess with barely any identity is not good enough even though the core gameplay looks somewhat promising. Any hope for Bioware is long gone anyway, but Anthem could be their swansong – after a long decline, it might be soon time EA takes Bioware out into the desert to an unmarked grave full of bodies. If the demo is a sign, Bioware better savours its sorry life as long as it lasts …

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Mass Effect Andromeda or Good Gameplay, Bad Bugs and Ugly Faces

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , , on April 1, 2017 by Rabidgames

First things first – Mass Effect Andromeda is not an unplayable mess as some corners of the internet might want to tell you. You can have fun while playing it. It is also no “SJW wet dream” or some other bullshit the alt-right trolls spout, it is just a game. However, the technical shortcomings, especially the ugly human faces (aliens are mostly fine) and the abysmal facial animations ARE bad. Really, really bad. And make no mistake, they’re inexcusable in 2017.

Besides the facial mess, there’s also badly written dialogues, at times terrible voice overs (a fucking female Krogan speaks exactly like a human … what happened here?) and the ridiculously boring exploring solar systems (where your ship travels to each of them for sometimes nothing at all but a description of a lifeless gas giant, and you don’t even get to probe Uranus) to complain about. And there are quite a few bugs and glitches in Andromeda, too, ranging from the animations even more fucked than usual to save bugs that can make you lose hours of progress if you don’t save regularly on different slots. Always do that!

So what the space-traveling fuck Bioware? And what the fuck EA? Did you really think you could just release this mess without getting any criticism? Andromeda was in the making for 5 fucking years, and lifeless androids representing humans and lame writing about tired faces are the result? If EA follows this road of releasing seemingly unfinished and definitely unpolished games, the future of gaming surely is going to look like a galaxy after a reaper sweep.

But all this aside – which is no easy task, but let’s look into it nonentheless – Andromeda is actually well worth the time. Once you struggled past the average and slightly boring tutorial and the Mass Effect 1 Citadel-style Nexus introduction, the game comes alive (upon your return to the Nexus, it really feels alive, while the first time, it feels barren and a bit bland). Although wait – the first hours are a chore, and then the game gets better? Who comes up with this, especially considering we had the EA Access trial of Andromeda on the One, resulting in quite a bit of the flak the game is getting now. Shouldn’t the first hours be full of gripping entertainment and the most polished content?

Anyway, once you are on Eos, your first planet to pathfind your way into your new job acquired tragically in typical Bioware fashion, you’ll notice a similarity with Dragon Age Inquisition: A massive open area waits for you to be explored. But don’t fret because that’s actually where Andromeda comes alive- while Inquisition’s areas felt and quite frankly were static (not much ever changed no matter what you did), you terraform entire planets in Andromeda via main missions that involve puzzles and nicely built levels that are a joy to go through, you establish outposts and repel enemy forces, and you get a feeling of satisfaction from all of it, not just by numbers, but also by making the planets look more hospitable. You also get to visit different planets, and while they are mostly cliché – sand desert world, ice world, jungle world – they look great and there’s plenty of things to discover and of course shoot in the face.

Fighting is still a mixed bag of tricks though – on the one hand, no power wheel means there’s hardly any tactics left in Andromeda – unless sending your squad somewhere is deemed a tactic. Building combos with team mates depends on luck and you hoping it works, so most of the time, you do it all yourself. Then again, jumping and the fact most battles can be fought in large areas enable you to fight enemies from atop buildings, making sure that annoying super-strong brute can’t reach you – at all. Cheap? Yes. Fun? Oh yeah! Changing profiles mid-battle allows you to switch from Engineer to Adept quickly so you can adapt if you prepare. But be careful – focussing on one role makes this role extremely powerful, so choose wisely – a jack of all trades will be worse than a Biotic God! But it can’t hurt to at least develop two sets of skills so you’re prepared for every situation.

Where Andromeda excels though is by offering you a lot of side content that will make your life easier – if you want. Crafting a strong weapon that shoots lightning or shotguns firing exploding bullets? Or you just gather what you find, sell it and buy weapons. What’s not to like? Furthermore, by raising your AVP level (pretty much a colonisation tracker) you can thaw more colonists, giving you bonuses. You do this by … well, playing Andromeda one way or another. You also get materials by exploring systems (boring) and driving around on planets (cool) with your Nomad, a Mako 2.0 but without a turret gun for some reason.

Oh, and the multiplayer of Andromeda is also great fun. In a nutshell, it feels like a harder version of Mass Effect 3, which is pretty much what fans have been asking for. This time though, you don’t need to play it to raise numbers, you simply get loot for your campaign, which is great. If you don’t feel like playing multiplayer (though it is fun), you can play strike missions either on an in-game terminal or on your smart phone, and you get the same rewards. Or you do both and get more! This is exactly how you should build a game – around different ways to reach the same goal, letting the player choose what to do.

So, should you buy Andromeda? Well, probably not yet if you’re not a big fan. To be honest, the gameplay is fine, the game picks up pace after 10 hours, yes, but still, all the technical shit is irritating. But here’s the thing – if you can deal with the bugs, if you can deal with the animations and the dumbed-down combat, your reward is you’re one of the first to explore a new galaxy!

Word of advice about the tone of Andromeda though – the darkness and impending doom of the first Mass Effect trilogy are gone. It makes sense though. You have a motley crew of young adventurers whose task is to explore. Sure, the stakes are high, but these folks are still more light-hearted and … well, cringeworthy at times. That being said, when Andromeda is aware of its silly dialogues, it works. Some of the writing is so bad it becomes great again, pretty much lie a B-movie. Sadly, it doesn’t always work. So watch a few videos with dialogues early in the game to see if you stomach it. And then, you have an A.I. cracking jokes …

Because in this one regard, Andromeda is still a Bioware game: You can spend hours just talking to everyone. The game can easily be played with a few quests to level up and fight on one planet, an hour of talking, a bit of exploration and a few skirmishes on another planet, crafting a few weapons and reading some emails, and so on. After ten hours or so, Andromeda hands you the reins to exploring a new galaxy of hopes, dreams … and silly faces.

Rabidgames wonders: Andromeda can be viewed as a case of “don’t judge a game by its cover”, or rather by its first impressions. There is beauty to be found behind the ugly faces and the bugs, yet it all depends on if you’re willing to take the risk of getting annoyed by the different writing and the weak opening hours. But one thing’s for sure – for a game that could very well make or break Bioware, Andromeda is simply not good enough. It is a decent albeit unpolished game, fair enough, but it is one of the worst Bioware games, too.

Mass Effect Andromeda or Bioware’s (Titan)Fall?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News with tags , , on February 25, 2017 by Rabidgames

The more news come in about the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda, the less Rabidgames likes it. Coming from someone who has the collectors edition of the entire Mass Effect trilogy, it says a lot.

Take this Eurogamer article for example: It’s all about dynamic fighting, jumping and quick and painless exploration now it seems. Even worse, EA (Bioware seems only remotely responsible for Andromeda) even removed the power wheel!

So what’s left? A fast-paced, potentially brainless shooter with small and probably linear areas, and sex with aliens because that’s what Mass Effect is all about, right? Fucking hell, Bioware, be at least decent enough to call this game “Sexy Aliens & Titanfall’s Effect“!

From the looks of it, Andromeda could still well be an interesting and good game, but rather a good shooter than a good RPG. After all, what’s left that made Mass Effect 1 great? Not much it seems. It shouldn’t come as a surprise as Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 already went down Shooter Lane anyway. It really seems Inquisition was Bioware’s farewell, and mind you, even Inquisition is just a mere shadow compared to the gleaming success and deep RPG mechanics of The Witcher 3 now.

Rabidgames puts the money back in this pocket: Relationships evolve. Bioware devolves. Maybe Andromeda manages to define itself in the new direction of the studio, but new directions have destroyed many relationships. Comes end of March, we’ll see if there are still enough sparks left to rekindle the fire in our hearts.

Mass Effect 3’s Omega or No Thanks!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by Rabidgames

So, one of the world’s most-hated couples, Bioware and EA, have released Mass Effect 3’s latest DLC, Omega. Awesome, isn’t it? No, it isn’t. (By the way, if anyone sees any value in Omega, please feel free to share your thoughts and to nullify this rant.)

Mind you, Rabidgames has not bought Omega and here’s why:
1200 MS points for a couple of hours of nothing more but another collection of the same linear corridors and more of the same shoot-outs?
No thanks!

There are reasons the gaming world has loved, or rather once loved Bioware:
Stories. Characters. Lore.

Throw in Omega, a Mass Effect 3 DLC focusing on combat alone and allegedly neglecting all of the above, and you get a precise definition of Bioware’s new shiny but dull image: The sad descent from the RPG throne to a mere provider of quick-cash services in any way the pimpish mother company sees fit. True, Omega is neither the reason nor the origin (no pun intended here) of Bioware’s downfall, but if we get a loveless DLC where we cannot even revisit Omega after completing it (remember being able to revisit the base after completing Lair of the Shadow Broker?), and then Aria allegedly sitting in her comfy seat in the Purgatory once again afterwards, Omega might be a sure sign of Bioware’s omega – the exodus of the company’s founders surely not the first sign of decline.

As of now, Bioware is on 2 strikes in Rabidgames’ book of gaming violations: First strike was the incredible lazy level design and the absence of almost anything RPG in Dragon Age 2. Second strike was the clusterfuck called Mass Effect 3 – the good (Tuchanka, Rannoch, EDI) and the bad (MP effecting SP, that ending, Priorities Earth & Thessia, most events reduced to mere numbers) almost outweighing each other – but the scale has been tipped by this lame, lazy and loveless piece of DLC. Rabidgames does not even takes into account that Old Republic disaster, and that fucking Command & Conquer F2P travesty to come shall be forgotten, too. But remember, Bioware. 1 more strike, and you’re out!

Rabidgames is sad: Bioware fucked up big time with some decisions for Mass Effect 3. They tried to behave with the Extended Cut, and Leviathan was a tiny, tiny baby step in the right direction. But then we get a costly DLC with nothing but the same linear battles, and worst of all, Omega adds nothing to the game in any way – lore, a new hub, new characters, you name it. It’s a shame how this once beloved company has fallen.

Rebellion brings new food for hungry Mass Effect 3 multiplayers

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by Rabidgames

If you can’t get enough of Mass Effect 3‘s cooperative multiplayer, you’ll be in for a treat:
The Rebellion Pack will launch on May 29 for European Xbox 360 and Pc gamers, one day later for PS3 users.
And yes, it’ll be free!

We’ll get 6 new classes:

  • Vorcha Soldier: They’ll have “Bloodlust” and are supposed to be tough fighters. Hopefully, Vorcha will regenerate their health, too.
  • Vorcha Sentinel: They are supposed to be even tougher and have a mysterious “Flamer” skill. Maybe a biotic version of Incinerate?
  • Male Quarian Engineer: All we know so far is they’ ll have “Arc Grenades”. More grenades? Really?
  • Male Quarian Infiltrator: They will rely on their “Tactical Scan” … sounds like Hunter Vision, doesn’t it?
  • Ex-Cerberus Vanguard: Those defectors will have “Lash”, maybe a biotic whip kind of thing?
  • Ex-Cerberus Adept: They’ll have “Smash” (sounds like a mix of Slam and Throw) and the rather useless Singularity.

While Vorcha sound pretty cool, more Quarians and especially more freaking humans to the already humanised worlds of Mass Effect 3 sounds rather lame – and please, couldn’t we just have gotten proper Phantoms then? Now that would be cool. But hey, it’s free so there’s no harm done at all if we don’t like the new N7 members.

Also, Bioware hasn’t stopped with 6 more characters, we will also get two new maps, Firebase Jade, a map set in a jungle and rotten buildings, and Firebase Goddess on Thessia. There’ll also be a new mission objective, some kind of “capture the mail” where we’ll have to carry a special package from A to B (hopefully, Cloak works wonders although Rabidgames highly doubts it). And we’ll get a more permanent equipment slot. Its equipment “will vary from weapon upgrades to character enhancements and will be available through reinforcement packs“.

Last but definitely not least, we will be presented 3 new weapons:

  • Cerberus Harrier Assault Rifle – These Cerberus-modified Mattock rifles are fully automatic. Cerberus gunsmiths reined in the recoil issues, resulting in a gun that stay on target, but delivers slightly less punch per round than a standard Mattock. As such, the weapon is typically utilized by Cerberus’ elite troopers, who train constantly to make every burst count.
  • Reegar Carbine Shotgun – This electrical weapon improves upon the arc pistol’s design by generating a sustained current on its target. This weapon is named for the Quarian Reegar family, whose marines have served valiantly against the Geth.
  • Krysae Sniper Rifle – This Turian antimaterial rifle is modified to kill Reaper enemies. The Krysae’s scope uses a rangefinder that adjusts to keep the target in proper proportion to the shooter, which comes in useful when the sniper is forced into close range. Its specialized ammunition is both armor-piercing and explosive. In a desperate move, the Turians released its specifications over the extranet so that nearly anyone with a fabricator could manufacture this weapon to help the war effort.

Fully automated Mattock, Quarian energy shotgun and a powerful new sniper rifle sound all great!

However, there’s a well-known catch: While the two new maps are ready from the start, we’ll have to unlock the new characters, new weapons and new equipment once more. This means most people will save the money they’ll make from Operation Shieldwall this weekend. Of course, let’s not forget why multiplayer DLC for Mass Effect 3 is free – you can always take the easy way out and pay for reinforcement packs with real world money.

Rabidgames looks forward: More food for Mass Effect 3 is always a good thing. And let’s be honest here – as long as it’s free and diverts our eyes from the fucked up ending, it’s all fine.

Mass Effect 3 and a new ending – but was it planned all along?

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , on March 23, 2012 by Rabidgames

Apparently, the shitstorm has prevailed: Bioware seems to finally buckle to the millions and millions of enraged gamers demanding a proper and true ending for Mass Effect 3.

So, have we won? Have you won? Has Rabidgames won?

At first glance, it is a victory of “entitled” gamers.
They lay siege on Bioware’s forum, they raised money for charity (although Penny Arcade’s new policy is not being “used for others’ attentions again” – that move seems weird at best), yes, they accomplished something.
Bioware issued the following statement regarding some closure in Mass Effect 3:

“Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey.”

Well, let’s overlook the weird double speak “game content initiative” for a second … let’s assume we’ll eventually get what we’ve been craving for – closure. But how? Surely, it means DLC for Mass Effect 3, and surely, we’ll have to pay for it.

Have we really won?

Take a close look at the ending of Mass Effect 3. There are some events which cannot be explained with the indoctrination theory (Normandy fleeing the battle, the destruction of the mass relays). Whatever you can come up with, the puzzle is still missing some pieces. How is this possible?

This makes Rabidgames think: What if it was EA’s and/or Bioware’s plan all along to give us the real Mass Effect 3 ending via DLC? What if we have been fooled big time? Fuck, we did them a big favour by publicly demanding closure! If Bioware have indeed been plotting to release the proper closure via DLC we just gave them what they needed: Acceptance for story-driven DLC.

What does it mean?
Bioware and EA might be able to save themselves by giving us what we want – even if we have to pay for it!
That’s something new – gamers asking to get relieved of cash – in return for the ending that should have been there from the start!
Rabidgames says – that’s a terrible precedence!

We’ll see where we’ll go from here.

Rabidgames predicts: This shitstorm proved one thing – companies can get away with everything if they just play their cards right. Kudos to Bioware for making us believe we need a proper ending so much we’ll gladly pay for it. Shame on us for being fooled though!

Mass Effect 3 Demo or Not Overwhelmed

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Rabidgames

OK, Rabidgames played the single player demo for the upcoming uber epic sci-fi RPG soap opera Mass Effect 3.

First of all, the narrative comes off incredibly weak (does it really say Bioware?). Before the game starts everyone hates you, then humanity loses contact to everything, you get summoned to help them, the Reapers attack, all hell breaks loose, you’re the good boy/girl Shepard again and the tutorial starts.

Wait? While the Reapers annihilate humanity all around you and your lonely squad mate … you have to play a damn tutorial? Yes, you do. As a result, there is no insane action, and nothing feels epic about the start. Nothing. What about a virtual reality tutorial where Shepard is practising … and then Mass Effect 3 starts? Sounds better somehow.

And it doesn’t stop there. While the Reapers wreak havoc and kill humans by the dozens in nanoseconds, you are supposed to gather forces throughout the galaxy to ultimately come back to earth and liberate our dear mother from the Reapers. Hang on a minute … Wouldn’t the Reapers have cleansed the earth within hours, them being eternal and powerful and deadly? Anyway, you will likely spend (in-game) weeks cruising the galaxy looking for help in Mass Effect 3 Also, former friends Cerberus try everything to kill you despite them being the focus of the Reapers as well (OK, Rabidgames admits there is hope Bioware finds a clever solution for this weird logic).

OK, the gathering allies part. Fucking hell Bioware, you are really stealing from your own backlog, aren’t you? And do you think no one will realise? Ever? Mission failed!

Let’s see:
Reapers threaten galaxy ————–Darkspawn threaten Ferelden
Spectre Shepard ———————– Grey Warden
Unite all peoples of the galaxy —— Unite all factions of Ferelden

That’s a tad too obvious, don’t you think. It smells like Dragon Age Origins all over again. Just because it worked once does not mean you have to recycle it!

Alright, so the narrative either doesn’t make sense or it’s a cheap rip-off. But what about gameplay?

Luckily, that’s where Mass Effect 3 shines. You can play the way you want to – and you can develop your character more than you could in Mass Effect 2 – even in the demo! Grenades are back, your health doesn’t fully recover any more, and you have more abilities to choose from. Above all, the enemy A.I. has improved a lot. Those Cerberus guys you face try to flank you whenever they can, they move around and duck to avoid your fire and the turrets are a cool addition as well. Your squad mates are still a bit dumb though. Rabidgames also learned the hard way that taking cover does not always spell safety in Mass Effect 3. If the angle is right (or wrong) you get still hit. Good move, Bioware.

Rabidgames wonders: What’s wrong with the world? Bioware manage to develop a game with good gameplay mechanics yet they completely fail to craft a decent story around it! Maybe there is more to come, but there are big black holes sucking in logic anywhere. Even if the action is fine, the narrative falls flat on its sorry ass – and that’s basically the death penalty for a Bioware game. Let’s just hope the story is not as bad as it seems now …