Monthly Archives: July 2011

July 26th New Releases

         I’d have to say Source Code was my pick of the week, but Trust was a close second.  Source Code was pure popcorn sci-fi with a clever script and some great acting.  Some pretty original idea, and yet extremely entertaining.

Trust was a hard movie to watch at times, due to the subject matter (teenage girl/internet stalker).  But it’s not at all the Hollywood version of this topic.  It’s actually something that a lot of teens should watch just to get a sense of how easily something like this can happen.  Great story of a family trying to heal itself after this sort of tragedy.

Why does the public accept “broken” videogame releases?

Let’s say you go buy a car, and it drives like normal when you put it in gear.  But neither the heat nor the AC work.  And the windows won’t roll down.  What do you do?  Return it.  If they can’t give you one that will work, you get your money back.  It’s been a basic tenet of the consumer culture for generations.  However, the videogame industry, at least certain publishers, seems to think that these basic rules of consumerism don’t apply to them.

More and more lately, we are seeing videogames released in an almost unfinished state, with elements that don’t work properly.  Typically, developers create what’s called a “patch” to fix any underlying issues with gameplay or connectivity.  When Activision released Test Drive Unlimited 2 in the spring, it was touted as a game that would allow for easy connection between friends, through car clubs and social media.  They claimed it was going to take social gaming to a new level.  Yet for weeks, gamers couldn’t even get online, let alone create these car clubs and share accomplishments through social media.  By the time some of these problems were addressed, many people had simply given up on the game.

More recently, “Brink” was released with all sorts of hype over what a great new class-based shooter it was going to be.  And although the game did have a fresh approach to the genre, and was oozing with potential, the game’s connectivity was an absolute train-wreck.  “Lag” made the game virtually unplayable in public sessions.  What’s worse is, the game’s campaign mode was basically just a series of levels that were meant to be played online with other people.  Even now, months after release, it just sits on the shelf most nights, becoming worthless as the days pass.  Promises of a patch to fix these problems continue to ring hollow.

If this trend continues, I really hope someone throws down the gauntlet and files a class action suit against one of these developers.  Perhaps being forced to refund anyone who purchased a game with problems like this would be a wake-up call for the entire industry.  I don’t mind paying $60 for a game, but if I do, it had better work flawlessly.  If not, I’ll start picking them up in bargain bins, long AFTER the problems have been fixed.

July 19th New Releases

Mass Effect 2 – Horizon Mission Strategies

Offering an achievement for beating Mass Effect 2 on Insanity is probably outlawed by the Geneva Convention because it is considered cruel and unusual punishment. I did manage to grind my way through it using the Sentinel class, but there were moments when I was sure I’d give up for good. The Horizon mission was one of those moments.

Horizon is meant to test you and allows no shortcuts. The mission triggers automatically not long after you get all of your first 4 dossier squad members, and once it does, you MUST go there next. This means you are limited as far as how high a level you can be when you do this mission. It is possible to squeak out an extra level by doing as many of the side missions you get while exploring, but that’s a lot of work in itself.

First obstacle you will see on Horizon is that a lot of Collector enemies have Barriers. These are a pain. Warp will bring them down, and so will Concussive Shot. Because of this, I brought Miranda and either Garrus or Zaeed. Miranda can be one of the best squad mates to have as far as versatility. Her Warp and Overload skills can take down any type of buff, and she has great squad bonuses as a Cerberus Officer. The down side is, she dies easily and is a dumb as a post, so you have to make sure to direct her to cover and call her to you if things get rough.

Suggesting squad composition for any mission in this game is tough, because a lot depends on your specific class. If you are an Engineer, you may not need Miranda, and might opt to bring someone with Biotics (like Jack). The most important thing is to have at least one squadmate to bring down all buffs (armor, barrier, and shield).

Crowd control is the key to Mass Effect 2. Enemy aggro will be your undoing, so you have to find ways to distract advancing troops, or knock them back. Engineer class has a great skill that will work in this regard on an enemy that hasn’t been debuffed: Combat Drone. I discovered its uses in one of my later playthroughs, and quickly became a fan. Any enemy that gets too close can easily be distracted by a drone. The biggest benefit this has is giving you precious seconds on your cooldown for powers.

No matter what class you play, look to your special ability, the one mapped to the Y button on the 360 controller for your edge. Play to that strength. When I played as a Sentinel, the Power Armor allowed me to get close to swarming enemies and fight them head on, because when it was destroyed, it gave off a pulse that knocked everyone backward.

The toughest spot on Horizon is the “arena” sequence at the end, which basically amounts to a 3 part boss fight.

STEP 1: Husks and Scions.  Get to the small cart/trailer on your immediate left. Take out as many Husks as you can that pour out of small elevated walkway on the left wall structure. IF (class dependent) you can do this quickly, run up there and start laying the damage on those Scions. It’s important to concentrate fire on one at a time. The quicker you can bring one down, the easier this gets. Once they close to about 30 yards, you MUST move or their Shockwaves will destroy you. Being in this elevated spot will buy you some time, but not much. There are two med kits up there as well, but at this point you should have 4 anyway. Use them wisely.

Scions are the most frustrating enemies because they just keep coming and spamming you with shockwaves. If you can stay alive long enough to lure them to the entry point of the battle, run as fast as possible to the other end. Bad news is, another half dozen Husks will come out at this end. Good news is, there happens to be a couple of corral-style barricades which work nicely to keep them away from you if you’re good at vaulting them. If your squad is down at this point, it’s not a bad idea to leave them down until you whittle away the Husks. You have to work fast though, because the Scions will be trundling toward you. I’d say you have about 60 seconds to get as many husks down as possible. If you manage to get rid of the Husks and have one Scion down to minimal health, you’re doing alright. Keep concentrating fire on the weakened Scion. The further you can get the squad from them, the better. Ordering them to move out of reach of the Shockwave will help, as they can still spam powers from afar. Just keep at them until they’re down.

STEP 2: Harbinger and his minions. Good news is, none of them are as aggressive as the Husks and Scions, but the bad news is they have ranged firepower to spare. Taking down drones and assassins fast is the key, because there will be fewer of them for Harbinger to manifest. Again, concentrate fire on one at a time. The last thing you want is to spend a bunch of time whittling a Drone down to nothing, then have him become the Harbinger. I would suggest leaving Harbinger alone until you get rid of every other living thing. Otherwise, you could end up facing him twice. Aside from that, the only advice I can give is to stay away from from his big power attack (which will knock you out of cover a lot of the time). I actually had a lot of luck using the center structure as cover and fighting them. They don’t usually flank, so the advantage of this structure is when you get knocked out of cover, you’re still completely concealed because it is so tall.

STEP 3: The Praetorian. This time, you want to keep moving. The Praetorian will hunt you relentlessly, albeit slowly, in a circular pattern. Staying in the center area is extremely important. It offers a lot of tall cover and you don’t have to use the A button because he’s big enough to see even if you are technically “in cover”.

His beam attacks are devastating, so make sure to avoid them. As he circles, keep large obstacles between the two of you, popping out just long enough to spam him with powers. If you need to make a run for a new cover spot, make sure to storm run. I tested this enough to assure you that even with a weak class, you have enough time to make it to any cover without his beam killing you. This is not necessarily a hard fight, but it is a long one. Grind it out. You can do it even if your squad is dead, but it will take longer.

I actually found it rare for the squad to die during this part. The Praetorian seems so concerned with you, that they will hammer at him with weapon fire as much as they can.

I will warn you though…after spending 15 minutes wearing this thing down, if you make just ONE misjudgement getting to cover, it will end you in a blink. There is a save spot just before this one, so I’d spend a couple of turns just watching it’s patterns before you invest in a long fight only to realize you boxed yourself in.

If you survive Horizon without smashing your controller, you should have some valuable skills for fighting these nasties the rest of the way in.

July 12th & 15th New Releases

***Please note, both “Arthur” and “Rango” will be released on Friday, July 15th, 2011.

July 5th New Releases