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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saving the Universe, the Wild West, and Purple Thongs!

Boy oh boy! What a crazy month it's been! I started and finished Mass Effect 2, bought and finished Deathspank, slipped back into online poker, gave up online poker, and got a hold of a copy of Red Dead Redemption! Long story short: Game On!

Poker's a tricky beast. I tend to fall in and out of love with the game. Were it not for so many great video games laying around my house, I'd probably be earning millions (perhaps hundreds or thousands might be more accurate) playing a ton of online poker. Thankfully that's not the case: I have games to play.

I finished Mass Effect 2 last week. I don't have much to review other than to say that it was incredible. I found the ending to be a little bit of letdown but that's quite alright. With Mass Effect 3 somewhere on the horizon, I'll give Bioware a chance for redemption. And for all my bitching about ME2's conclusion, I'm looking forward to playing through the game a second time on the Insanity difficulty. My plan is to wait for the last of the DLC to be released before saving the universe yet again (I believe that's 4 times and counting).

I've enjoyed the Mass Effect series of games so much that I've also purchased all of the supplemental books and graphic novels. I've already read Mass Effect: Revelation and Mass Effect: Ascension. Two days ago, the graphic novel Mass Effect Volume 1: Redemption arrived in the mail and I read it one sitting. I've also got Mass Effect: Redemption sitting at home, waiting to be read. The Mass Effect books (and graphic novel) are all pretty good. They may not be up to par with the more mainstream novels and graphic novels available but I've enjoyed them. It's really cool to read the background to the many characters and locations that pop up during a typical playthrough of the Mass Effect games.

More recently, I bought and finished Deathspank. I was expecting a lot from this game and, as usual with any over-hyped piece of entertainment, Deathspank fell a little short. Some of the jokes were hilarious. Some of the combat was interesting. But in the end, I couldn't help but feel the $15 price tag come through in the gameplay. The story was fairly basic with passable voice acting. The graphics were very colourful and interesting which really helped Deathspank stand out from your usual Diablo clones. Unfortunately, the combat was a little too basic and arbitrarily difficult at times. I found myself really feeling the grind of the game after spending five fun and interesting hours with the game. Once I passed the halfway mark, Deathspank started to drag.

I'm happy I played Deathspank. I appreciate the easy trophies that are now padding my PS3 trophy card. But I'd be hard-pressed to play any sequels to Deathspank without assurances that the gameplay and story had been improved. If you like hack 'n slash games and enjoy the occasional joke, Deathspank is probably worth its $15 price tag. Don't go in with super-high expectations and you should have a good time.

With Mass Effect 2 and Deathspank finished, I'm all set to spend a whole lot of time with Red Dead Redemption. This game was not really on my radar until the glowing reviews started showing up all over the Internet. I've also heard nothing but praise from friends and family. I hope that Red Dead Redemption lives up to the hype!