I finally completed Mass Effect Andromeda

Mass Effect Andromeda was released sometime in March of 2017. It’s August as of this writing. I took nearly 6 months to complete Mass Effect Andromeda.

Mass Effect Andromeda was one of the most anticipated video game. When it was first announced, I was beyond excited. For Bioware to bring the beloved Mass Effect franchise back to life was a bold move for them to make. After releasing three rock solid games that formed the Mass Effect Trilogy, it was certainly a tall order to meet or even exceed the standards and quality set by the first three games.

So when it finally came out, I was ecstatic. But flash forward 6 months later and it is only now that I finally get to complete the game. So why did it took so long for me to play the game in its entirety from start to finish?

Sad to say, the game fell short of expectations. When it was first launched, the game felt hugely unpolished. Numerous bugs, terrible facial and lip sync animations. It felt like a beta. Although animations can be improved through subsequent patches, (and thankfully it was improved) it is the story that ultimately fell short. The main character, Ryder, was a little two dimensional and boring. Your squadmates are no better, featuring very bland backstories and flat personalities (maybe with the exception of Peebee). At the end of the day, you don’t feel invested in spending time doing any of their character related missions or make any extra effort to gain their loyalty and unlock higher level skill set for you to level them up.

Gameplay was not bad. I had fun. Action sequences were intense and I am thankful for that. If the characters were boring and the gameplay was no better, the game would have tanked. The reviews would have come back panning the game. Bioware really came close in releasing its first ever flop. That would have been embarrassing for Bioware, masters in RPG, storytelling and world building to release an RPG that sucked for the very first time. It would have marred the entire Mass Effect franchise with the release of Mass Effect Andromeda. Generally, taking the game in its entirety. There are good moments within the story and robust gameplay mechanism. Bioware had the opportunity to truly create an epic RPG storyline within the Mass Effect universe. But it decided to squander it away.   Bioware had a blank slate to come up with a killer storyline on a new galaxy (Andromeda, instead of the Milky Way where Shepard and the rest of humanity reside in the first three games) but it squandered it away. Bioware had the opportunity to bring back that sense of discovery and exploration for gamers to experience on a totally new galaxy but it decided to squander it away. Bioware had the opportunity to run wild on a totally new set of alien species and all of its intrigues and unique characters on a new galaxy but it chose to introduce just one main alien species, the Angara (two if you consider the Kett, the bad aliens you have to fight against). In other words, Bioware missed on a lot of opportunities to elevate the franchise on a whole new level and bring a new generation of gamers to the Mass Effect universe.

Looking back, I enjoyed the game. But the reason it took me so long to finish is that I feel at times, the game to be very inconsistent in terms of the pacing and plot progression. So it was inevitable that I take long breaks before firing up the game and continue slugging it out and forcing myself to bring the game’s plot forward bit by bit over time.

MASSEFFECT-ANDROMEDA-2

 

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In The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, patience is key to total enjoyment.

I played Witcher 3 Wild Hunt on the PS4. I never completed the game. I loved the game, but for some reason, I have never had the energy or the drive to complete the game. I would start the game with great enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm fades away the longer I play. I restarted the game the second time several months later, starting from the very beginning, but that effort failed as well.

Now that I have a gaming rig, I impulsively set out to buy Witcher 3 Wild Hunt on Steam. It was a waste of money, especially when I have the exact same copy on the PS4, and it gives gamers the almost exact experience regardless of whether you play on the PC or the PS4. I literally had 2 copies of the same game.

But I went on with it and bought the PC version. As a consolation, I bought it when it was on sale, so at least there is some reason to justify purchasing the game a second time round, however weak that reason is.

So I fired up the game but before actually starting, I told myself explicitly; I am going to complete the game no matter what, do all side missions as I possibly can and I am going to take my time doing it. That last part of the statement was important. I never knew how important it is in contributing to the overall positive experience of playing Witcher 3. Taking my time playing the game, being patient, listening to every dialogue from the beginning to the end, without skipping and reading all letters, books and mission briefs. If I am going to take 10 hours to complete a string of missions from one storyline, so be it.

And what a difference does that make! For the first time in my life of playing The Witcher 3, I actually enjoyed the game by orders of magnitude. I finally understood the feeling of total immersion in the Witcher 3 universe. Apart from the superior graphics on the PC versus the console (which I must admit is a contributing factor in giving me a better gaming experience, because, let’s face it, playing Witcher 3 at ultra settings, everything looks so so pretty), being patient with the game pays great dividends. You appreciate the story being told in the game. You become more emotionally attached to the characters in the game, you understood their intentions, back stories and predicaments. The NPCs personality became three dimensional and for the first time I fully appreciated the amount of effort put up by the developers, designers, writers and voice actors in making the world of Witcher 3 fully immersive, rich and dynamic. No longer have I read ahead of the dialogue and skipping it. I understood more fully the missions, and tasks at hand and most importantly, the consequences of my actions while playing Witcher 3.

I am pretty confident that I would clock at more than 200 hours in this game and I am very excited to complete Witcher 3 from the beginning to the end, and to top it off, even clear the DLCs that have been released since then. The DLCs add hours upon hours to the core game and I am going to conquer them all.

 

 

Call of Duty: World at War

So having completed the single player campaign, going through the campaign again in multiplayer co-op, and surviving endless rounds of Nazi Zombie invasion with 2 of my other friends online, i must say that the latest installment of Call of Duty has lived up to its expectations as its predecessor, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

 

I had my doubts when Treyarch decided to go back to World War II theme in thier latest iteration of the Call of Duty franchise, but when it was released, those doubts were completely swept away. I enjoyed it immensely and every level of the campaign was filled with sheer fun and excitement. Every level is different and there is always something different to do. Whether you have to drive a tank, or shoot japanese planes down or even assassinate someone in the sniper level, every level was filled with adrenaline, fast, chaotic and heart pumping action. 

So after completing the single player campaign a special level was unlocked and that is the Nazi Zombie Invasion. 

This Nazi Zombies Invasion is an interesting concept added in to the COD:WAW, where you are in a room of an abandoned building and you have to stave off incoming Nazi Zombie who is out there to climb over the windows of the building and maul at you. Its a very creepy setting because there are many windows to cover and you have the ability to patch the windows with planks of wood to slow thier advance. The zombies comes in waves and your objective is to survive for as long as possible. Throughout the duration of the survival you accumulate points from killing those zombies in which you can spend on better weapons. For each level of survive, it gets harder and harder. Zombies are harder to kill, faster, and come in greater numbers, till you are overwhelmed.

I played with 2 other friends the other night and we had hours of fun. Just coming up with strategies, buying weapons and covering each other’s ass was so darn fun. We communicated through our bluetooth headset and soon you can hear each of us screaming commands or shouting in fear as the zombies crept up from behind you and overwhelming one of our teammates in the game. 

Overall this is great game to own and fans of the previous Call of Duty game should be rest assured that you will enjoy every last bit of the game. Forget about the World War II settings. Treyarch did something right this time, thanks to Modern Warfare.