Mass Effect 2

Hey, remember when I used to write about video games? Yeah, me too.

I completely skipped over the first game in the Mass Effect universe because 1.) I don’t usually like western RPGs, and 2.) I’d heard bad, bad, things about the in-game menu and inventory.  When Mass Effect 2 came on sale, I was in the mood for something sci-fi, so I gave it a go.

Like most games with highly-customizable character appearances, I spent a great deal of time on perfecting my character. In the end, it didn’t matter since my character was in a helmet most of the time, but I guess it was nice to see her face during in-game cut-scenes.

I’ve heard people describe Mass Effect 2 as rpg-lite, and I can see that, but to me, this was a good thing. I completed the game in less than 20 hours, which is about as long as my game attention span is these days.  I liked that once the game got started, it was straight forward to choose a main or side mission, find the appropriate planet to explore, and shoot bad guys.  For those who like tons of side-missions, they were easy to find by talking to the tons of NPCs around each space hub or city.

Because my squad was customizable, I ended up playing favorites and picking the same characters to accompany me, unless a mission needed one particular character.  I usually went with Thane as my sniper and Jack as my bio-user and shot gunner.  For myself, I’d usually hang back and snipe if I were in an open area, or just run through with the assault rifle.

Although there were a handful of guns and upgrades to be had, I didn’t think they were that customizable.  There seemed to be only one good setup or weapon configuration so once I got to that, I didn’t change it up as much.  I also only used powers sparingly. Maybe because of the way I set up my character in the beginning. It just seemed easier to shoot things than pushing the buttons for different powers.

The only bad thing I have to say about Mass Effect 2 is that space exploration part was pretty lame.  Having to buy fuel and probes from the fuel station in order to explore was so trivial that I thought it was a waste of time they put it in. I never really ran out of money, so I could always buy more, but it was just a hassle.  I didn’t have any problems with finding resources on planets and thought that was pretty streamlined and fun whenever I did it, but just getting to that planet — boring!

Wait, I have another bad thing to say. Even though I tried to develop my character’s relationship with Thane, and I successfully completed his loyalty mission, they never sexed it up and he ended up dying in the last mission anyway! What a disappointment.  It was the only part of the story I cared about.

I’ll probably play the third game when it comes out, but I’ll probably wait till a price drop too.

The Adjustment Bureau

I’m always up for a thriller starring Matt Damon, so when The Adjustment Bureau came out, I was excited to see it. In preparation of watching the movie, I read the incredibly short story it was based on by Philip K. Dick called The Adjustment Team. The bare-bones story set up the premise for the movie and without going into spoiler-land, I’ll just say that The Adjustment Bureau is more like a story about different characters in the same world than a straight adaptation.

With that in mind, I still had some complaints about the movie. The imagery of the short story (people dissolving like sand castles, for example) was more powerful than what happens in the movie. Although reading the short story made me think about fate and the absence of free will, I thought the movie treated those subjects with an extremely heavy hand and all the religious angles in it were unnecessary.

Despite these complaints, the movie was entertaining. John Slattery was awesome even though he was pretty much Roger Sterling in the whole movie. Emily Blunt was adorable as usual. And Matt Damon was very Matt Damon-like.

Review: Across the Universe

Across the UniverseAcross the Universe by Beth Revis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

If I had been ten years younger and hadn’t read so many sci-fi and dystopian books already, I would have liked Across the Universe a lot more. It’s not to say this book is bad. Not at all. But throughout the whole time reading this book, I kept seeing recycled ideas, themes, and a pervasive feeling of reading it all before.

Everything is a little cliched in the book and the characters all felt a little sterile, even the main ones. The mystery of who’s screwing things up on the ship was tantalizing enough to keep me reading, but I already had a hint of how the story as going to end up. The themes in the book were just very heavy handed.

Across the Universe would be more enjoyable to someone who’s not an avid reader of dystopian fiction.

Lesson learned from this book: things ALWAYS go wrong in space.

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