Category Archives: Video Game Reviews

Horizon: Zero Dawn

**Please beware, major plot spoilers thrive in this review**

Holy shit.

If you know me, you know I love RPGs. I love being able to explore through a gorgeously created and intricately crafted world as my character, spending more time discovering new areas on the map and pretending the life I’m living through my PS4 is my real one, than I do actually completing the main quest. I love being inundated with dozens of quests and being overwhelmed as a completionist, trying to get through every mission, collect every valuable, destroy every foe and help every soul I can. My top games include the greats like SkyrimWitcher 3, and anything made by BioWare.

And that now, indefinitely, includes Horizon: Zero Dawn.

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I’ve poured almost 75 hours into playing the main story and, upon completing it, immediately logged into the PS Store and bought The Frozen Wilds DLC, which is downloading at home as we speak (and right before the weekend starts, like a BAMF).

There are so many elements that I love about this game.

The mechanics were awesome. I loved, particularly, being able to craft ammo from a quick menu, the stealth mode and using my Focus. I felt like a badass with every headshot that I got and every time I took down a machine (less so when they kicked me ass and I had a few nights of rage quitting, let me tell you). I really enjoyed the wide range of weapons you were able to use, even though this was meant to reflect, in a way, a more primitive society. It was easy to catch on, even though there were a wide range of things you could do as a player.

Of course, the graphics were gorgeous. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the world was and I loved discovering relics of the past (which reflects our current), like seeing a statue covering in vines or the ruined remains of a billboard, but seeing it through the eyes of a people who consider it ancient and unfamiliar. I think this is one of the main reasons I spent so much time playing it. I could spend entire sessions playing where I didn’t complete a single quest, but was just running around and exploring. And I’ll prolly do it here again soon, trying to find all the datapads I didn’t during my first playthrough.

Oh, and that score. Was not surprised to learn it was Julie Elven behind the vocals, who always sings such gorgeous stuff.

The highlight of the game, however?

That storyline.

That plotline.

Those twists.

I mean, friends, c’mon. It was just so brilliant. Just as Aloy wanted so desperately to figure out who her mother was, I wanted to figure out what happened to the world I was familiar with and how it became the world Aloy was in currently. The idea that machines became such a huge role in society and then took over is no new concept, but the fact that they took in biomass as fuel and could self-replicate, with no measure to stop them, so extinction was inevitable? And then, the solution was to create an AI called GAIA to recreate life from the ground up, creating an automated terraforming system? And the team who worked on it knew everyone was going to die and they lied to those fighting the machines so they could recreate life, but never live to see it!? But not only that, but when HADES, GAIA’s death machine if she messes up, allowing her to start over, goes rogue and GAIA destroys herself in attempt to stop him, but then also recreates Dr. Sobeck in the form of Aloy, in hopes that GAIA will be reinstated and HADES stopped?

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I say again.

Holy shit.

It feels like a long time since I played a game that had such a rewarding storyline. Especially when you take into account the way it’s delivered. When you begin to find abandoned datapads and vantage points and you start to learn some of the history behind the extinction of the human race, you can’t help but be ridiculously intrigued. Being teased like that just fueled my desire to learn more.

Then, of course, you add in the cutscene after the end of the credits.

I have two things to say to that:

  1. Fuck you, Zavala–er, I mean Sylens.
  2. Guerrilla, you need to make a sequel. You must.

I’m really excited to play the DLC. I might, even, after taking a break to dive into some of the other games I got for Christmas (I’m looking at you, Shadow of War), play the New Game+ and see if I can beat it on a higher difficulty, because this is a game and a world I want to get lost in much more than just one playthrough.

It’s just too good to do anything else.



ArcaniA: The Complete Tales: A Review

**So, I started writing this post almost a year ago, but never finished it. It’s a game I really wanted to actually write a proper review for, so I’m finishing it now. It doesn’t get all the details that I wanted to capture, fresh from playing it, but hey, you win some and you lose some.**

One of the most surprising, awesome gems I’ve ever played, I discovered by happenstance.

Lemme tell you the story.

I recently discovered that you can rent video games from my public library (apparently this was a very obvious thing, but I had absolutely no idea). I was pretty stoked. After browsing through the titles, I stumbled across some very popular ones I was surprised they even had (alongside the waiting lists to match), plenty that I had no interest in whatsoever and found a couple that caught my eye.

ArcaniA: The Complete Tales falls into the last category.

I would be lying if the fact that the main dude is hot wasn’t one of the main reason I checked this out.

This game was remastered for the PS4, which includes the DLC Fall of Setarrif. Created by Nordic Games, it is a third-person action RPG, which is my favorite type of game to play. This game had both positive and negatives from me, pretty much akin to the review IGN did back when this game came out, so let’s get right to it.

I will say, however, that I had no idea it was connected to a previous set of games, being the fourth title in the Gothic series, so read this review as you will!

My favorite aspect of it, honestly? Aside from the incredible score that I still find myself listening to (I’m a major fan of the track titled “Temple 1”), my favorite aspect could actually be read as an insult, but I don’t mean it as such: the game’s simplicity.

I’m a fan of games like Dragon AgeMass EffectSkyrim and the like. The heavy-hitters of the RPG brand. Ironically, I love them for their complexity, their open-world awesomeness, their depth of lore and the amount of side quests that consume my life. So when I stumbled upon ArcanciA, you’d think I’d be disappointed in how it felt like–and is–a scaled down version of any of those powerhouses.

But I wasn’t.

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The simplicity of the game was actually really enjoyable. Now, if every RPG was like that, I’d be pretty freakin’ bummed. Especially because I really love RPGs thanks to their complexity and challenges. However, it was nice to have simple mechanics, simple gameplay in an awesome, open world, and just get lost for a couple of hours each afternoon, trying to reach the end.

(Also, being able to count how many times I died with one hand is pretty new experience for me.)

I will say that my main complaint really comes from me being spoiled. I kept getting annoyed with how often the voices we heard wouldn’t match up with the animations on-screen. It wasn’t enough to make me not want to play the game, obviously, but it was enough that I noticed it. Often. It drove me a little bonkers.

But otherwise, this was a really fun game to play. So much fun, in fact, that I actually bought a copy to own after I returned the library’s copy. I haven’t replayed it, but who knows. Maybe this winter, I’ll go back and do it again.


Shadow of Mordor: A Review

**Spoilers do appear in this review*

I meant to write this ages ago, after I actually beat this game, but life got in the way. But, considering that the sequel to the game comes out on October 10th, I figured this was as apt a time as any to talk about how awesome this game is.

Because it’s pretty dang awesome, people.

The basic premise is this: you play as a ranger named Talion after he and his family been murdered by the Black Hand of Sauron. Tailon, however, is left in limbo, in a wraith-like state and actually bonds with the spirit of Celebrimbor, brought together in the sorrow of the deaths of their families by the filth of Mordor. So you go not only on a quest to revenge your family, but you also search for Celebrimbor’s memories to learn his true identity and figure out how to get out of that wraith-like stage and join your family in the peace of death.

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I know, freakin’ epic, right?

I loved this for a lot of reasons. One, because I’m such a Tolkien junkie, introducing players and lore like Celebrimbor was such a giddy experience, not only because I knew so much already about the world we were in, but I was always surprised by the new twists and liberties they took with the plot–and I always enjoyed them.

I also loved this for the gameplay. I love video games because they are so immersive and creative and challenging, but I also love them because when I get good at them, I feel like a badass (which is something I definitely don’t ascribe to in real life). Shadow of Mordor DEFINITELY makes you feel like a badass, when you have hordes and hordes of orcs coming after you and you just go on this massive slaying spree.

Which brings me to the third thing I loved: the mechanics of the gameplay. I’ve never played a game where the fighting felt so fluid. Apparently it was based off of Assassin’s Creed gameplay (I think) as far as how the fighting style was meant to work, but I was a pretty shit assassin in my go of the first one (granted, I make a pretty shit ranger a lot of the times, too, but at least I got the hang of it).

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I also felt the story in Mordor picked up a lot when you unlock the second map and start meeting other characters. Being the completist that I am, I wanted to get through everything in the first map before I started the second and I won’t lie: grinding after I beat the main story of the first part for as long as I did, at times, I lost my interest a little bit. But the second half of the game, I loved every minute of it. I also was a huge fan of reading the lore you unlocked in the world and the artwork attached to it.

So, a lot of positives with Shadow of Mordor. According to the latest feature in Game Informer, Shadow of War is meant to capitalize on all of those positives and greatly expand upon them, especially in story and in scope. We get to ride flying drakes as we attempt to dominate Mordor. How freakin’ amazing is that? Also, considering that John Howe was hired to help do some concept art on the Nazgül, I can’t imagine how the sequel could be bad.

If you’re a fan of Middle-earth, slaying orcs and feeling like a badass, I highly recommend giving Shadow of Mordor a try if you haven’t already.



Mass Effect: Andromeda

Hold onto your omni-tools, friends. We got some things to discuss.

So, if you’ve read any of my previous reviews of the games in this franchise (which can be found here or here), you know I’m a bit of a fan. Maybe even a bit more than “just” a fan. I love these games. I got so invested in Commander Shepard and the universe that she was fighting to save. They are easily some of my favorite games of all time. Needless to say, the expectations for Andromeda were high. And also, sorta unique. Before Andromeda, all the games I’ve played, I played after the hype. I never had to wait for them, never got to go to a midnight release, never got to experience the kinks and rough patches of a newly released game. With Andromeda, I got to experience it all.

And it was epic.

Fair warning: spoilers abound after this. Proceed with caution. 

Kill It With Fire

First off, the gameplay mechanics were absolutely fantastic. I absolutely loved fighting in this game. It felt so flawless, so clean, if that word makes any sense. I’ve never played a game and felt so badass, killing Kett and Chosen left and right. I loved the hovering affect, how you could linger in mid-air and still shoot at something (though I never really mastered this). I loved the way you could switch profiles, building different sets of skills to switch between in different situations (though I didn’t actually really use this, I did like that the option was there and I might try and experiment with this more during my next run through). The combos were awesome (I was a fan of the any fire combos, personally) and I found myself dying a lot less playing Andromeda than I ever did in the Shepard’s trilogy.

And I definitely fell in love with my Krogan Hammer.

Pick Up All the Plants

You get to explore five main worlds: Eos, Havarl, Kadara, Elaaden and Voeld. All of them had unique atmospheres, terrain and environments, all which started out hazardous thanks to the vaults you need to bring back to life (also, those puzzles to unlock the vaults? Awesomeness). The graphics were gorgeous and I absolutely adored searching inch by inch through every world I could, picking up all the resources I could find (which probably explains why it took ages for me to actually beat the game). I think Havarl was probably my favorite. The purple and blue color scheme was just gorgeous. Voeld was definitely my least favorite. I suck at driving the Nomad to begin with, but you want me to drive it over ice? Yeah, I’m sure you know how that went.

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Too Many Best Friends

One of my favorite elements of any BioWare game are my companions. I love learning their backstories, their personalities, discovering their quirks and trying to be everyone’s best friend (#Paragonforlife). As such, it’s always hard when you have too many favorites and never enough time to do all the missions bringing all your favorites along. Andromeda was no exception to this.

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Drack was my home boy. By far my favorite. I loved that he was older and called me “kid.” Plus, it kind of hard not to love the Krogan indefinitely. Jaal was definitely high on the list, too. His openness with his emotions, thanks to his being Angaran (which, helloooo new race and epic awesomeness) made him so easy to get along with and I always wanted him on my missions. I loved Liam’s humor (and goodness, I laughed too hard during his loyalty mission). Vetra is my girl who I wished I would have gotten to know better. In my next playthrough, I’ll definitely be having her tag along a little bit more. Peebee was annoying at first, but kinda grew on me. I disliked Cora the entire time. I can’t even give you a good reason why. I just didn’t like her.

Also, movie night? Hell to the yes.

Oh, and there were some awesome secondary characters, like Gil or Kesh, who I was also fond of. But not Director Tann or Addison. Fuck them.

Be Still, My Beating Heart

So, if you read this post, you’ll know that I was pretty stoked that BioWare was trying to make the romances more realistic. Again, the romances are one of the aspects I love about BioWare’s games (I’m pretty sure I still have dreams about Commander Cullen. Hello). However, I did find myself a little disappointed by it (at least the romance track I went down). I romanced Liam and the flirting was fun and the dates we went on were actually really cute. But after we became serious, nothing changed in his dialogue and no one else really acknowledged it, which was sad. Those were the types of changes I was hoping for. Where were the jokes from the crew? Because that crew would have made jokes. I wasn’t completely disappointed, but just a little bummed–yet still excited to try out a different romance later.

You Exalted What

So, the plot. The story. There are some major things going on in Andromeda.

The main plot: arcs leave the Milky Way galaxy and travel to Andromeda, staying in cryo for 600 years before waking up to a new galaxy and new golden worlds. Except, of course, the golden worlds have changed since they were scouted 600 years earlier and they are not exactly…habitable. And now it’s up to the Pathfinder to fix them (which was your Dad’s job, but I’m sure you can guess how that ended up, making it your job).

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Fighting those Architects, though…

Overall, I liked the story. I liked the introduction of the Kett and the Angara, and how those two species connected (hello exaltation). I wasn’t as invested as I was with Commander Shepard and the fight against the Reapers, but naturally, I had three games to ensnare me, so I’m not surprised or disappointed that I wasn’t as invested into Ryder and her fight. I really enjoyed the twist with a certain individual and a cryo pod (whereas another certain individual and a cryo pod pissed me the hell off ((see section WTF, Mate? below)) and am really intrigued to see where that goes in a sequel ((because there is going to be sequel, right?)). The final boss fight was fun, but not as difficult as I imagined or heard it rumored to be (granted, I was level, what, 57 at the time, so I might have been a bit overpowered).

Flashbacks and the Future

Probably some of the most fun I had was finding and being surprised by all the flashbacks and references to previous games. Hearing Liara’s voice again made me tear up. Later in the game, when Dad’s memories revealed some discussion over Shepard and the Reapers, I was giddy with excitement (and when he talked to Garrus’s dad? *dies*). And at the very end, reading through the email terminal thanking me for saving the galaxy, I seriously freaked out at some of the people who thanked me (don’t know what I’m talking about? GO.READ.THAT.TERMINAL. You’ll thank me later). So that was a blast.

Also, anyone else notice the parallel of the Council never helping Shepard or believing her when she talked about the Reapers and then the Board of Directors not wanting to help Ryder, so she has to go rogue and find Meridian on her own with the other Pathfinders? Anyone else notice that?? Freakin’ governments.

And I’m already intrigued by the unanswered questions and the future of the franchise. Will there really be a DLC featuring the Quarians? What challenge will occur next? Will Shepard’s decision with the Reapers ever have consequences that are revealed or felt later? What about the evolution of the AI and the interaction with the Pathfinders? What consequences will follow that? (Also, really curious: did the Quarian Pathfinder also have SAM inserted??)

WTF, Mate?

So, overall, I really, really enjoyed this game. It’s BioWare and Mass Effect, after all. Kinda hard not to love. However, I had one major complaint, one thing that I truly do not understand.

Scott. My twin. In cryo. The entire game. 

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When it was first revealed that I had a brother, I was absolutely and totally stoked. Video game characters never have families–or if they do, they’ve already died by the time you play them, so you never get to interact with them. We all knew Dad wasn’t going to make it. But this time, I had a brother, a twin. Someone who I could explore Andromeda with. Someone to reminisce about our childhood together. Someone to make jokes with, someone to lean on, someone to add an entire new element to the video game world I’d never experienced before: having an actual family I could interact with in a meaningful, impactful way.

But the minute–no, the millisecond–that Scott’s cryo pod malfunctioned, I knew. I bloody knew.

I might as well have been an orphan.

I mean, seriously? What was the point of giving me a brother if he was stuck in a coma the entire time? Even at the end, when the Archon overtakes Scott and uses his implant to try and corrupt Meridian, I still was pissed. Scott should have been been with me the entire time, as a companion. He should have been there. I felt robbed of a neat and truly awesome opportunity.

Also, there is this part where the Archon traps Ryder and SAM kills her by stopping her heart to free her. I so wanted Ryder to actually die and then we as the player are switched to our twin, who has to pick up the mission from there to save the other companions trapped with our dead sibling, not to mention overthrowing the Archon and still saving the golden worlds. Now there’s a twist I wouldn’t have seen coming (and a better purpose for our comatosed twin). Granted, it is really dark, but hey, that’s how I am as a writer. Be grateful I am nowhere near involved in writing games for BioWare. I’d shatter your hearts.

Wrapping Up

So, yeah, I obviously had some opinions on this game. Andromeda was a pretty awesome experience and it was fantastic to return to the Mass Effect world on the latest gen console. I’m still a huge fan of BioWare and plan on supporting them for a very, very long time. If you haven’t checked out Andromeda yet, you probably, most definitely, should.



For Honor: A Review

When For Honor was first announced, I was pretty dang stoked for it. I mean, did you watch the trailer? Did you see the beautiful graphics? Was the nerd in you drawn into the idea of exploring and mastering whatever faction you chose? Did you stress for months beforehand about which faction to swear your loyalties to? Did you get chills at the end of the trailer and get stroked that your typical, “Woe is me, I’m alone again on Valentine’s Day” would be interrupted by epic awesomeness that For Honor promised to be?

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Were you also utterly disappointed?

I will be the first to admit that my disappointment was pretty much self-inflicted, as I only really watched the E3 announcement trailer before I got stoked to play it. So I really encourage you, if you’re interested, to give this game a try yourself before you make a decision on how you feel about it.

Based off that trailer, I made these assumptions: one, you get to choose a faction between Knights, Samurai and Vikings, and then you go on a campaign fighting against the other two while bringing loyalty and glory to your own faction. Two, there was this ultra baddie named Apollyon that you’d also have to face–and maybe (and just guessing here) we’d have to unite the factions to defeat her. As a fan of RPGs, I had more of a RPG vision for this game than what the game actually was: a tactical, multiplayer hack and slash.

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Don’t get me wrong: this game wasn’t bad, if you were a proper gamer unlike myself and actually looked into what the game was meant to be. And I played it a couple of times and did enjoy myself, even though I sucked at it and never mastered blocking properly. I do think the combat mechanics are fascinating and complex, and offered a challenge that I quite enjoyed (and never got close to mastering). I thought the 12 class options across the three factions was really neat, though I did feel that choosing a faction was a bit pointless if I could play as any class, regardless of my allegiance. And I quickly discovered that the “storyline” mode was really just a way to preview all the different classes, while the multiplayer option was where the meat and potatoes truly lied.

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I had a sweeping vision of this epic, open-world RPG where you follow your faction and your champion through epic battles and conquests while attempting to win this age old war. Paired with the beautiful graphics I’d already been teased with and the ominous threat of Apollyon, there was so much promise and hype for this game I had created in my head.

Unfortunately, the game they created didn’t match that vision. And thus, I was disappointed, to the point where I’m actually going to sell the game back and use some of that money to purchase Horizon: Zero Dawn–another new release that I was so stoked about, yet couldn’t afford thanks to buying For Honor and Mass Effect: Andromeda around the same time. It’s not that For Honor is a bad game. It’s just not my cup my tea, especially because I did the game a disservice and followed my own assumptions instead of their advertisement.

So if you like multiplayer games with complex battle systems and a strong reward for tactical prowess, then hit up For Honor. I think you’ll like it. But if you’re more of an open-world, customizable character and too-many-side-quests-to-count kind of player, then perhaps rent it to try it out before you buy.



My Purposefully Ignorant Wait to Explore Andromeda

There is no doubt–not a shadow, not a sliver, not an inkling–surrounding my excitement for the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda. I’ve been ready since it’s announcement. Ever since I bawled my eyes out at the end of playing Mass Effect 3 (very late, granted, compared to the rest of the crowd, but still), I’ve been eagerly waiting. In fact, this is the first video game where I’m not slipping onto the bandwagon years after it started, but instead, am waiting in anticipation for what happens next, with plans to use as much vacation time as necessary after it releases to truly enjoy it in all of its glory.

And I’m not really sure how to respond.

Obviously, I watched the E3 announcement trailer. And the N7 Day Celebratory release trailerAnd the official gameplay trailer. Each one has only increased my excitement tenfold, to practically unhealthy levels. This game looks beautiful. When discussions began to arise concerning the evolving romance storylines, I had to read those articles. One of my favorite aspects about Mass Effect (and BioWare’s games in general) is the ability to pursue a romance. The jokes about Dragon Age where the first three games should have actually been titled the “Alistair, Fenris and Cullen Dating Simulators,” respectively, hit the mark perfectly. I’d be lying if I claimed that I didn’t do a replay solely to experience the romances again, for both franchises. So of course I had to read about how the romance is evolving (and I’m so excited about these changes and that BioWare is taking fan comments to heart; not that I expected anything else).

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Yet the information about Andromeda just keeps coming.

The discussions over the lack of certain races not returning and the introduction of others. The Ryder twins (speaking of, I really hope my human ((or alien, I’m not picky)) boyfriend can be as attractive as Ryder himself, because hello, I should not have such strong emotional stirrings from a video game character). Your mission as the Pathfinder. Apparently there is also articles being posted describing your confirmed squadmates. Those articles I refuse to read and have sparked my decision to not read any further announcements that don’t include the release date printed on my purchase receipt.

Reminder: this is the first time that I’ve really gotten to play a new game from a franchise that I love that was still in development and hadn’t been released by the time I caught up with the other games. And perhaps I’m not doing this right, but until I have a copy of Andromeda lodged in its home of my brand new PS4, to be bought purposefully (and at the cost of my internal organs) for this game specifically, I’m not reading another article. I’m not watching another trailer. I’m not doing anything but waiting.

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Look at him! *drools*


Because I want Andromeda to be as new to me as the world of Mass Effect was when I finally listened to the hype and sat down to play it (translate “sat down to play” into “let it consume my soul, social life and every waking moment for a solid three months). I loved discovering Shepard and her badassery. I loved learning about all the different races and forming opinions about them (I will forever be loyal to the Elcor and their speech patterns, the Krogan and their fierceness, and the Turians and their pick-up-lines). I loved exploring the galaxy, doing every and all quests and never being content, i.e., always wanting more quests so it wouldn’t be over, hating the Mako and being so damned impressed and terrified of the Reapers. Mass Effect was the first game that I ever played in the science fiction genre, always being a fantasy girl myself. And it was the first game that I ever sheathed my sword for a gun, instead. It was a blast. I got addicted to the characters and the world, the lore and the cultures, the chilling dialogue and the fantastic score, and seeing how often I could headshot a husk.

What did I know before I started playing that trilogy?

My friend Leif, a huge advocate for this game, told me: “Commander Shepard is the biggest badass you’ll ever meet. You have to play it.”

That’s it.

That’s it.

With Andromeda, the first game in the Mass Effect realm that I’ll get to experience with a next generation console and amongst the hype instead of years after it, I still want that blissful ignorance, that giddy surprise, that I went into the other games with. Sure, I’m more familiar with the world and the mechanics, but this is an entire different time and an entirely different story. There is so much to discover…including everything that is being revealed to hype everyone up. I’m already hyped. I’m already ready. And even if this isn’t how “real” gamers prepare for their new favorite games, I’m purposefully going into Andromeda as ignorant as I can, even though I could learn so much already. So please, if you can, save the spoilers until after we’ve discovered a new home for humans and then we can rave about it, in detail. Oh, so much detail.

Just have to wait for the game to be released, first.

*goes back to (im)patiently  waiting for Spring 2017*



Mass Effect


I spent this afternoon frantically killing Saren/Sovereign before I had to go to work tonight. Last night, I stayed up until four in the morning, hyped up on adrenaline, as I fought in Virmire (dammit, Virmire). Even though I knew what was coming as it happened, after beating the game, I sat still, listening to the end credits song, wiping the remnants of threatening tears from my eyes.

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Virmire looks like paradise, but don’t let it fool you. It sucks.

BioWare is by far my favorite gaming studio. Mass Effect is one of my favorite gaming series of all time (right up there with Dragon Age ((also BioWare)), Skyrim, Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, etc. etc.). Yet until this play through, I didn’t even realize what I had been missing!

Hint: a helluva lot.

You see, the first time I played Mass Effect, it was the first game I had ever played where a gun of some sort was your primary weapon. I had absolutely no idea how to aim a gun in a video game, let alone do it with accuracy and kill people. The amount of times I was taken to that red spinning screen with that damn music after I’ve been killed (you know what I’m talking about gamers) drove me nuts; almost to rage quit levels.

And this level of inaccuracy lasted throughout the entire trilogy.

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Yeah, try fighting that ^^, a freaking Reaper, when you suck at fighting. It sucks.

Obviously, I got better, as I beat all the games. But I knew, especially in regards to the first one, that I wasn’t playing them to their full potential. I rushed through them, falling so desperately addicted to that story and those characters that I just wanted to find out what happened next. After I beat them all (and went through all the Kleenex in my house), I knew I’d have to go back and replay them, so I could truly appreciate what I missed due to my own ineptitude and impatience.

Here the highlights of Round Two:

Vanguard Versus Soldier:
I played as a Vanguard this time instead of a soldier, giving me some biotic abilities like Warping, Throwing and Lifting my enemies. I’m so glad I tried this out (I absolutely love the Lift ability), instead of sticking to what was familiar, like I usually do in repeat playthroughs. I also actually learned to do more with my weapons and abilities, trying things out, instead of frantically shooting everywhere and hoping I managed to nick a geth in the process before getting one-shot-murdered by a rocket launcher; or charged by a Krogan Warlord unexpectedly, screaming in surprise and dropping my controller; or panicking whenever those f-ing husks showed up and also dropping my controller, thus resulting in death.

(Thank goodness I got better.)

Paragon Versus Renegade:
I have this annoying habits in video games where I try to align my character’s moral compass as close to my actual moral compass as I can. So I was a full-fledged Paragon my first playthrough, flinching any time I stumbled upon a Renegade action. This time around, I wasn’t fooling. While I still maxed out as a Paragon, I wasn’t afraid to call people out on their shit. Take that, Udina! Piss off, deaf Council! (<– I was so tempted to not rescue them with the Alliance; damn Paragon mentality.) It was kinda fun, not going to lie. And I am stoked to rip Cerberus a new one in Mass Effect 2.

Hidden Gems:
I’m really bummed I can’t remember more of these as I was playing, because I know there were multiple times when I was like, “Dude, how did I miss that the first time!?” The best example was definitely during one of the infamous elevator rides before I had unlocked everything for Rapid Transit, and the Announcer-Dude over the intercom made a mention of a production of Hamlet to be done by the Elcor.

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Genuine excitement, I laughed so hard after hearing that. Honest confession, I would pay so much money to actually see that happen. Like, holy shit.

Also, in one of the numerous quests that I didn’t realize existed (see below), I discovered an asteroid where I had a view that actually took my breath away. Lit-er-al-ly.

I was so floored, I took a picture and posted it.

All the Quests!
So, based on all the quests that I completed this time around (hint: all of them) and how many I couldn’t remember or had no recollection of whatsoever, obviously I just flew through the main quest without realizing there were side quests to be had. That also explains why I sucked so much the first time at killing things–I didn’t have any practice! And also explained why I absolutely sucked at driving the Mako (I impressed myself by actually decently steering it throughout this playthrough).

Plus, my frantic rushing set me up poorly for the next game. My hatred for and familiarity with Cerberus hadn’t been properly set up, given I hadn’t realized they existed (don’t worry, I hate them with all my core, now). I didn’t talk with my companions enough, so a lot of backstory (like the genophage, for example) was lost on me. I genuinely missed out on so much, simply because of my own mistakes! I’m really glad I went back and played it, as it was totally worth it (and I finally found all the damn Keepers).

All the Feels:
What I love most about BioWare and their games is the way they make me feel. Like, down to my core, feel. I’m so emotionally attached to these characters, this world, my choices, the outcomes; it is probably unhealthy. The first time I played, when it came to the choice at Virmire, I froze. Literally, clutching my controller and staring at the screen like, “Why the HELL would you be asking me to do that?” The first time, I killed Ashley. I was in love with Kaidan (so much for that, the asshole, refusing to barely even talk to me the entire time during ME2 and almost all of ME3! <– I’m still utterly bitter about this). This time, I had to switch it up, even though I was so bummed about it (but I’m going after Garrus romantically and I know if Kaidan was alive, I’d fall right in love with him again, being a creature of habit as far as video game playthroughs go). When Anderson punched Udina, I was elated and fist pumping all over again. When Shepard climbed out of Sovereign’s wreckage, I teared up a little.

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^^ BAMF. ^^

I just absolutely love this game.

The Score:
I knew the score was awesome the first time around. It’s still fantastic. It just deserves its own section to make that point obviously known.

Basically, I loved replaying this game (would have loved it even more on a PS4, too *nudges BioWare*). I am ashamed at how much I missed the first time around, but stoked that it provided a playthrough that was both familiar and new. Only a few more hours until I get off work, slip into my PJs, grab my ice cream and my weekend starts. And I’m sure you know what’s going down.

I’m coming for you, Cerberus.