The Most Difficult Murder to Solve is Your Own in the New Square Enix Thriller, Murdered: Soul Suspect

Title: Murdered: Soul SuspectMurdered_Soul_Suspect_Artwork_Logo
Developer: Air Tight Games
Distributor: Square Enix
Platforms: XBOX 360, XBOX ONE,
PS3, PS4, PC
Rating (out of Ten): 9

More Entertaining Than: Condemned: Criminal Origins

Less Entertaining Than: Beyond: Two Souls

Duration: 6-7 Hours (not including completion of all
secondary objectives)

 

 

If you are interested in a violent shoot ‘em up, filled with outrageous explosions, I recommend you avoid this title. If however, you are interested in a character and story oriented drama (the game is quite similar to the 2013 PS3 title Beyond: Two Souls, and if you enjoyed that, it is more than likely you will enjoy this too), I would recommend you look no further than Murdered: Soul Suspect.
At its core, Murdered is a love story, about Ronan, a detective with a criminal past, who, in order to be reunited with his wife, Julia, on the other side after he is violently killed, must solve his murder, in order to move on. On top of this, Murdered is a dramatic paranormal thriller, which has features reminiscent of adventure games.

The game begins with Ronan’s murder; an over the top death at the hands of the notoriously antagonistic murderer; the Bell Killer (aptly named for the bell symbol left at the site of all his murders); a man Ronan had been investigating prior to his death. The Bell Killer is responsible for putting a number of Salem’s residents into the ground, the roots of these murders dating back into the region’s history. There are still more victims on the Bell Killer’s list, and Ronan must bring this ritualistic killer to justice.

Stuck in a purgatorial realm, Ronan must travel from one scene to the next in order to uncover the truth. As a character, Ronan comes off as a rather tough as nails detective, his criminal past often being revealed in flashbacks as the player discovers memories located across the city. This potential darkness is counteracted with Julia’s thoughts of him, which are additionally found scattered across the environment. Although these thoughts are written down, and thus need to be read by the gamer, the actress who voices her, and the words themselves, are both as equally powerful at revealing a beautiful romance. This is not told in contemporary order, and as Ronan travels from one location to the next, he discovers memories of his past, and that of Julia’s, which shape his character into a man with a hard exterior, but an incredibly warm heart.

This is strengthened also with the opinions of his brother in law, Rex, a fellow detective investigating the Bell Killer, who is grieving the loss of his best friend, his opinion of Ronan being rather contradictive; although he loved Ronan like a brother, he is worried about his criminal past, something that officer Baxter is not. To say he loathes Ronan would be an understatement, believing that he represents everything a police officer should not.

Not long into the game, Ronan meets Joy, the daughter of a medium who has additionally acquired the gift, however, unlike her mother who assists the police during investigations (including the Bell Killer), Joy is apprehensive about communing with the deceased, wishing instead to have a normal life. With her mother missing, and she been the only living person who can actually see Ronan, the two form an awkward partnership, as the two become better acquainted with one another over the course of the game.

Set in the town of Salem, which has a long history of war, pestilence, and a wealth of other colourful occurrences (which can be found by visiting locations and exploring the environment), the game is a very open world, where the player is able to either freely explore, or head straight towards the next objective, which is always marked with a waypoint. On the subject of the town, I found it strange that 95% of the residents were Caucasian, and although the town comes attached with its own history and culture, the lack of other cultural backgrounds and ethnicities seemed mightily peculiar. Though this does not affect the game, it does fail to contribute a further sense of realism to the environment the gamer temporarily inhabits.

The purgatorial realm of Salem is a mixture of real world environments, and ghostly effigies. These residual spectral visages are strangely corporeal, and cannot be passed through. A benefit of the game is that Ronan is able to pass through almost any structure; how many times in other games have you become stuck on an object? This annoyance is almost non-existent in Murdered. Ronan is unable to pass through buildings that are locked, however, once inside, either through a partially opened door or window, movement is fairly unrestricted, with the exception of aforementioned objects linked to the deaths of others. These however can often be navigated around, and if not by walking, then by using ghostly portals. These residual shadows are tied directly to the existences of ghosts, and can be jumped to and from. Later, when Ronan discovers the ability to teleport, this additionally serves in getting around solid objects or other like obstructions.

Moving on, when travelling towards a destination, Ronan bumps into literally dozens of other ghosts, who can either be conversed with, or ignored. Furthermore, near every major mission location is a ghost in need of assistance regarding a side quest. These often involve a poor soul who is trapped in this purgatory through either regret, or from not knowing about their death, which can include all manner of people; from a young woman who believes her ex-paramour cheated on her, to a man who believes himself responsible for the car crash that killed his friends. Around these ghosts are fragments that can help provide answers, from pieces of the past that can be reformed to tell a portion of their story, to living people, who can be possessed.

When possessing a living character, Ronan can influence them to think about a certain topic or theme, which provides him with valuable information; he can additionally read their mind, or listen in on conversations. Unlike in last year’s Remember Me, in which the character Nilin’s abilities are rarely used, in Murdered, Ronan is frequently using his powers, either pro bono for the benefit of others, or to assist in finding his killer. Although no justice can be bestowed upon the dead who were murdered, the fact their deaths have been resolved and they discover that any guilt they feel is unnecessary, their movement from this world and into the next, provides the player with a certain satisfaction.

Major quests offer a similarity, with the exception that they are on a much larger scale. These locations range from a church to a graveyard; a police station (which strangely enough has a lot of Just Cause posters) to an asylum, each coming attached with its own historical significance to the region. After exploring the area, gamers are able to locate their objective, and scour around for clues, piecing things together from the environment, before enlisting the assistance of living people, who, once possessed, can help provide a consensus on the topic at hand with their own thoughts, memories, or even their eyes, which you sometimes have the option of looking through. On that note though, some clues are unable to be found unless Ronan interacts with the environment. Turning on equipment (or as the game calls it, being a poltergeist), like a fan to blow pieces of paper around, may reveal photos and other documents that were initially invisible beneath layers of other pages.

On occasion, Ronan is forced to visit the same region twice, and even when this does occur, the environment loses none of its atmosphere, the sheer gruesomeness of the murders, and the conversations which take place during these ‘missions’, offering a source of unstoppable intrigue. The issue however when exploring these major areas, is that almost each of these locations are often infested with demons.

These demonic creatures come in two flavours; the kind that hover about like ghouls in a particular territory, which they have carved out as their own, or as large, bright red puddles on the floor, and drag you in when you step into proximity (similar to the floor creatures in F.E.A.R: Perseus Mandate). Although these demons can temporarily be avoided, more often than not, confrontations inevitably ensue, however, unlike Condemned: Criminal Origins, where you beat up your enemies with whatever piece of equipment you come upon, these demons require more nous and tactical proficiency. By possessing people (and on occasion a gorgeous kitty), gamers can make their way around areas, and this is additionally possible by using those ghostly portals mentioned earlier. When in close proximity to a demon, Ronan can execute them (only ever from behind) with a combination of keys that are frequently different. After successfully dispatching one (there is unfortunately often more in any area), the gamer can hide again, and then move on to attacking the next. On a side note, the occasional existence of deceased crow can offer the player a distraction, with demons charging at them the moment Ronan requests that they provide a raucous ‘kaw!’

The graphics of Murdered are powered by the Unreal engine. In the past I have occasionally being sceptical of this particular engine, with some games (I’m looking at you Singularity) occasionally not cutting the mustard when it comes to how it looks. The game is set over the course of the night, the streets becoming darker and slightly emptier as you progress. This darkness often follows the player into the levels, and can provide a rather drab colour swatch, with a vast quantity of darkness merging together. With this said, there is just as much light as there is dark, with the locations you visit all looking and feeling very realistic, with a combination of old and new fighting visually for dominance.

This being said, the graphics are perhaps not outstandingly brilliant (considering that I was playing this on the XBOX ONE), however, at the same time they are really nice to watch. Never is there a part of the environment that looks as though it needs further rendering. With the exception of images, and some portions of text, the game felt and looked like an actual town, and although many ghosts had particularly smooth features, the living cast members, Joy in particular, looked very lively. Her face, with a number of freckles and a couple of moles, along with the jewellery that she decorated herself with, gave to her a unique sense of character.

On a further side note, the controls during the game are incredibly easy to learn, and after roughly 10, maybe 15 minutes, the gamer will have efficaciously adapted, and they will simply become reflex actions.

The conclusion, which seems to come racing towards the gamer faster than I may have initially imagined when beginning Murdered, is about as predictable as it is surprising. When I was almost 90 minutes away from the conclusion, I had already begun to postulate theories on who the killer might be, and although some of my assertions were accurate, there was much I did not count on, and was at the same time thoroughly surprised with the final revelations. Although the conclusion does successfully offer closure to all of the storylines that are written into Murdered, at the same time the gamer (or maybe this is just in my case?) is left with a slight remaining thirst. On this note, despite a slight degree of disappointment at the length of the primary storyline, I have not being so captivated by a title since Beyond: Two Souls, and will happily play Murdered again in the future.

Image obtained from the following link:

 

Being B J Blazkowicz Again in Wolfenstein The New Order

Title: Wolfenstein: The New Orderwolfenstein_the_new_order_art.0_cinema_640.0
Developer: Machine Games
Distributor: Bethesda

More Entertaining Than:
Wolfenstein

Wolfenstein_(2009_video_game)

 

 

 

 

 

Less Entertaining Than:
Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Bj_return_to_castle_wolfenstein

 

 

 

 

Rating (out of ten): 8

The following review is based on my experience with the Xbox One version of Wolfenstein: The New Order over the course of 8 hours worth of game play.

As with the previous Wolfenstein games, id software have little to do with the overall production of the title, Raven and Grey Matter Studios in the past having control over the game that was created, Machine Games being left to pick up, in my opinion at least, the mess that Raven left behind. I have always been a fan of their products, but the 2009 version in the franchise seemed to go in an unfathomably absurd direction, before falling flat at the conclusion with a less than riveting reveal, testifying that a sequel could very well be developed.

I had begun to believe that the best possible strategy to improve the series would be to send it kicking and screaming into the future, as to allow the vast futuristic powers the Nazis have seem less than unbelievable. Originally beginning in 1946, the war still raging onwards, Blazkowicz finds himself amidst a team of men selected to neutralize Deaths Head, a character who, for me at least, seems to be getting tirelessly old (as a character, as well as physically), the technology at the disposal of him and his men being incredibly poignant. Much like the beginning moments of Mass Effect 3, The New Order opens with our heroes failing, however, rather than fleeing, Blazkowicz is badly injured, and finds himself carted off to the funny farm, of all places. The game quickly fast forwards to the year 1960, with the Nazis having notoriously won, and now ruling over the remnants of the planet, using the asylum he was transported to as a ‘candy store’, where Deaths Head takes subjects for all kinds of malicious projects, the 14 year slumber Blazkowicz was in coming to a sudden and violent end as he cuts the jugular of an enemy agent, and sets about killing Nazis all over again right, left and center.

wolfenstein___the_new_order_wallpaper_by_ashish913_by_ashish913-d7e8zbr

Upon meeting up with other individuals during the early hours of game play in Nazi 1960, having to work alongside old Grandpa Moses (or just about) paints a strong picture that very few resistance members are alive, these dire straits needing amending, the primary mission to build an effective counter insurgence team agaisnt the Nazi regime. The fellow characters you work alongside each have equally interesting back stories that are convincing, and often emotionally in-depth, painting further horrifying images of all the suffering that has occurred. Caroline Becker (from Wolfenstein) makes a surprising return, along with several new soldiers, specialists, and innocent civilians, just trying desperately to survive. The feel of the base camp the resistance later occupies has a similarity to it reminiscent of subway town in Rage (with the music, sound, and general happenings) and the Atlantis in Unreal II, this being further strengthened with themes of family, honor, retribution and love. Although Blazkowicz is still a Nazi killing machine, his usual bluntness shares the screen with a softer side. There is one side quest where the player has the option to help finds toys belonging to a mentally disabled young man, the care displayed during this being very considerate. The emotional depth additionally gives the character something to fear losing, and thus is potentially a more powerful motive than the typical mundane storyline attributes that have been previously showcased. On that note, it is fair to say the game does often become quite adult, and I mean that in all sense of the word.

the growing intensity during this particular scene was especially well delivered

the growing intensity during this particular scene was exceptionally well delivered

The graphics in the Wolfenstein games have always been rather ahead of their time, yet, the same cannot always be said for The New Order. True, they are very attractive, the facial construction in the cinematics to the in-game environments all being beautifully detailed, however, a blandness seems to hold sway over much of the world. This could no doubt be due to the bleakness in the game’s atmosphere, and the general want to make the sheer weight of the war fall upon the gamer. If so, this is furthered again by lead protagonist, Blazkowicz himself, who not only narrates the storyline, but mutters beneath his breath during the game, his sometimes poetic, sometimes vengeful, but always brutally honest depictions of the happenings, further immersing the gamer into the world. Moreover, the musical score adds to the explosive sounds of bullets slamming into walls, and shrapnel falling all about, much of the music being less than serene, and having a resemblance to the sounds of the game itself, a shrill warning filling the airwaves whenever danger is around. When the music is not accompanying a battle, much like the softer aspects of the game, the music too envelops this theme and further draws the gamer in.

this was an especially fun area to fight in

this was an especially fun area to fight in

As with all of the previous titles, The New Order is primarily a violent shoot ’em up, with an endless wealth of battles taking place over the course of each level, the gamer only demolishing one group of bad guys before having to confront the next.  The human opposition are reasonably weak, but then again, so too is the character portrayed. Each injury takes away a good portion of health, however, even when health is in short supply (this includes meals, dog bowls, medical packs, etc), the game will automatically level the player up to the nearest even 20% (as an example, if you have 51% health, the game will automatically charge you up to 60%). Furthermore, health can be ‘overcharged’, at least for a short duration, any health points accumulated that takes Blazkowicz’s health line over 100% slowly burning off. This is beneficial during a head-on battle; say you have 136% health, there is a chance you may lose that extra 36%, but still retain your regular allotment.

Armor too is located all around, in the shape of helmets (that can be dropped by the enemy), flak jackets, riot shields, etc, all of it adding to the percentage. The quality of protection can be further increased through upgrades that can be found in maps, or by building upgrades at the work bench situated within HQ. Ammo is another quantity that is wealthy in the world, however, no matter how much is acquired, it always seems to get burnt through like popcorn, and on more than several occasions I found myself suddenly deprived of any and all magazines. This means that you need to be quite conservative, The New Order offering gamers the opportunity to be stealthy and assassinate the opposition.

There are many moments in the game when commanders happen to be present, who set off the alarm and rally more men to the area once you are spotted. Dispatching them silently, or before anyone else has the option of getting the drop on you, minimizes the number of enemy tangos. However, at the same time The New Order has no problem with the gamer being all loud and proud, with a number of gun turrets, which can be ripped from the world and physically carried around, existing in a number of areas. These, much like the other armaments, run out of steam quite quickly, and are automatically dropped the moment Blazkowocz interacts with the environment, whether it be opening a door or hitting a switch. This can potentially be annoying, however, adds to the realism.

Furthermore, when it comes to acquiring items, unlike in previous titles, Blazkowicz does not pick these up simply by walking over them, and the gamer is constantly clicking ‘x’ in order to garner as many goods as possible. For me, there was a constant threat hanging over my shoulders that I might well accidentally miss a number of items; at least when the game is in charge of obtaining ammo and health, there is no chance that it shall be inadvertently left behind. I also found this to be reasonably annoying, since every single combatant dropped something or other, and I felt I was clicking ‘x’ more than I was pulling back on the trigger. On a side note, I do presume this again strengthened the realism of the game, however, in  a purely fictional title, is realism even a requirement?

Continuing with the theme of realism, Blazkowicz later has access to a laser cutting tool which is used to slice away at wire fences, the gamer having to physically move the torch around in a square shape in order to make a hole large enough to waltz on through. This time consuming process became boring after the first time I did it, there being however a wealth of similar scenarios to come; however, the ability to upgrade weapons during the campaign, including the cutting blade later rendered this concern moot, and you too will find out why.

pic1

Returning to the theme of antagonists, although the humans could be dispatched with reasonable ease, the new robotic creations, which are introduced right from the start, certainly are not. Dogs (yes, they too are robotic now), although far easier from afar, up close, the continuous snapping of the jaws as you attempted to prod them with your knife seemed to be a constant gamble as to see who would win. Other robotic monsters included flying gizmos and larger assault mechanisms, which although slow, packed a wealth of fire power, and boasted an epic amount of protection that made killing them a real challenge. In previous titles there has been a continuous move towards actual monsters, or X-creatures as they were once called. This movement towards more robotic opposition makes the futuristic world The New Order occupies come alive in a more sophisticated way, by showing the ingenuity and strength of the Nazi war machine.

Continuing on, during combat, the game would automatically level Blazkowicz up with additional skills, depending on the methods I used. By using dual wielded weapons, Blazkowicz learned how to reload both weapons simultaneously; by throwing grenades, he learned how to throw them back at the enemy; by assassinating opponents, he was educated on throwing knives, etc. This assisted in benefiting my personal experience with the game, however, what did not was the frequent lack of any actual guide. In many games, a way-point or arrow is provided so the player knows the direction they are meant to move in. Although there was one on occasion, when there was not, I sometimes found myself moving back and forth in a vain attempt to find the exit.

Focusing more specifically on the game itself, the significant lack of the 1940s feel, and the removal of aristocratic castles in exchange for technologically proficient societies perhaps may well have been a necessary change to breathe new life into a series that could have rhapsody being at an end. Sometimes this change feels as though it were forced a little too strongly, however, when the game works, there are moments when you forget you are at the helm of a video game and are simply experiencing life itself. During these amazing scenes, you just know that Machine Games have valiantly done their job.

 

Image Links:

 

 

Shepard and Aria team up to slap Omega out from the Illusive Man’s greedy little hands: Analysing the Mass Effect 3 DLC “Omega”

Team up with Aria and Nyreen to take back Omega

Size: 1.99 Gigabytes

Price: 1,200 Microsoft Points

It was not long into the Mass Effect 3 campaign that Aria, the so called ‘Pirate Queen’ of the ominous Terminus station Omega sent a message to Shepard’s private terminal, requesting the player to meet her in Purgatory on the Citadel and to not keep her waiting. After running around the centre of Galactic government, Shepard successfully unified the three primary mercenary bands in the universe under her command, whilst at the same time she specified why she was on the Citadel; how the Illusive Man, the ring leader of the circus that is Cerberus, a pro-human splinter group comprised of terrorists and other antagonists, was now ‘at the top of her shit list’, and was thus going to pay ‘for every minute (she had) spent in this bureaucratic hell hole’ for stealing Omega away from her.

After helping Aria twice during the second game, once, by unveiling to her how the Blue Suns, the Eclipse and the Blood Pack were planning to unanimously destroy her after the death of Archangel; and again by helping to save her former adviser, Patriarch, it was rather obvious that once more Shepard would be required to perform another duty for the powerful Assari this time around.

The campaign, which consists of four levels of game play with additional cinematics, begins with an e-mail from the illustrious Aria, asking Sheppard to return to the Citadel and meet her in Dock 42 so they might discuss her ‘pet project’. After several weeks of preparing the counter offensive assault to take Omega back from Cerberus, Aria is officially ready to take back her station, and although Aria relinquishes control and allows herself to be bossed around by Shepard during the game play, she still does have a few addendums; the least of which being that none of your crew are to accompany you during the game.

Having little trust with regards to your affiliates, you will instead find yourself braving the fight against Cerberus with a team consisting of none other than Aria herself, and a Turian Huntress named Nyreen, who is additionally the leader of a rebellious group on Omega titled the ‘Talons’, who have being attempting to fight Cerberus for the right to control the station.

Primarily the game will be played with Aria, who you are able to personally level up in the Squad menu, with new abilities the likes of Lash, Flare and Biotic Protector being readily available for use. To say that Aria’s powers are extraordinary would be a terrific understatement, with whole garrisons of enemy troops often being literally wiped out by but a blast of her biotic capabilities.

Nyreen on the other hand randomly assists you as often as she goes off on her own, and so half the campaign will be spent without her personal assistance as she wages the battle in other areas across the station.

Over the course of the game you are able to find out about the background of both unique squad members and their in-depth history together, however, if you are interested in discovering bucket loads of information on Aria you are going to be terribly disappointed, the information being slim at best.

Additionally, over the course of the campaign, Aria will come off as a cold, manipulative and unemotional monster who is willing to sacrifice innocent lives for the sake of her vengeful mission against the Cerberus forces. Nyreen on the other hand is the polar opposite, and instead worries frantically about the lives of civilians, and during conversations when you are forced to make paragon and renegade choices, will be the voice of reason, whilst Aria maintains her freezing cold demeanor and criticises many of your paragon choices.

However, if you successfully keep up a paragon reputation throughout the campaign, you may be able to slightly tweak Aria’s lack of consciousness so that she becomes a little more, well, civilised, but again, this comers at the price of her criticism.

Moreover, unlike the Extended Cut, this particular DLC is not an emotionally powerful experience, so players will only have to bring themselves to the fight, rather than additionally bringing a box of tissues (or in my case ten). In fact, emotions of any kind (with the exception of hate and loathing) are not focused upon in the slightest. The entire campaign is basically a grudge match between Aria and the Cerberus forces. Even on the occasions when saddening occurrences transpire, the amount of in-depth concentration which is applied is barely significant, and even though during the rest of the game these emotional scenarios were focused upon quite strongly, these instances are severely overlooked during this DLC package.

Moving on, your primary enemy throughout the campaign comes in the form of General Oleg Protrovski, who unlike other Cerberus Commanders does have a seemingly militarised code of honor, although, at the same time he is still very willing to make horrific sacrifices to achieve victory, and thus the goal of the campaign is to seize control of the station from him.

The Illusive Man rather unfortunately does not make an appearance of any kind, and some may feel the levels are incomplete without his unfathomably egotistical personality and antagonistic wit.

Every Cerberus opponent you have faced before, from the basic foot soldier to the dangerous Nemesis; from the agile Phantom to the incredibly powerful Atlas will make a number of appearances though throughout your efforts to retake Omega. At times, the number of enemies who stand against you are considerable, and potentially outnumber the strength of the army protecting the Illusive Man’s base which you assault at the game’s conclusion. The number of Atlas’s you will face is greater than that of any other fight and dwarves previous encounters.

Although the campaign, yes, can be challenging, this is also contradicted by the notion that you will frequently find yourself drowning in medical packs, and so you will rarely find yourself without a full collection of medi-gel in your power wheel (on a side note, the amount of medi-gel is almost drowned out by the sheer number of credits that number in the tens of thousands which can be found over the course of the campaign). Additionally, your team is incredibly competent to the extent that during my play through, not one of them fell at the hands of the Cerberus soldiers.

On another note, a new addition to the Cerberus army, the Rampant Mechs, are very fun to go up against, and are more capable than the basic mech artillery you were forced to frequently endure during the second game. These Mechs are well armored and carry powerful shotguns that do considerably damage at close range, and if that is not enough, they come equipped with powerful Omni-tool based weaponry which can shred your shields if they come within an inch of your body. Even in death these Mechs are a nuisance, and it is frequently best to keep a good distance between both your character and them whether they are running around on both legs or have them pointing up in the air.

Another opponent that makes a debut in the campaign is the Reaper creature known only as the ‘Adjutant’. These (often) failed Cerberus experiments look a lot like a cross between both the Cannibal and the Brute, and can literally tear into you with their sharp claws and leap considerable distances to close in on your location. From afar they are able to shoot moderately potent biotic powers from their right arms which can temporarily disarm you, their attacks continuing to affect you for  a few seconds after you have being hit (much like the biotic attacks by the Banshees). However, these creatures only make a couple of appearances, and it is disappointing that they appear infrequently throughout the campaign due to the challenging nature of such an opponent who deserved a much larger role.

The Omega DLC will provide you with somewhere between three and five hours worth of additional game play, and by the end your character will be granted some powerful war assets that could potentially tip the scales in your battle against the Reaper menace.

If there is one thing that the campaign does well it is build your interest and keep you entertained, and judging by the hype and excitement that has being attributed by the online media that is no surprise. However, this is also the campaign’s weakness.

Although you will recognise a couple of the surrounds that you fight through from your original trip to the station back in the second game, you will be barred from exploring most of it. On top of this, the amount of the station that you do fight through feels considerably small when in contrast with the sheer enormous scale and size of Omega. Due to this, you, the gamer, will often continuously ask for more; more action; more places to explore; more in-depth character driven narratives; more of the exciting Mass Effect experience; the issue is that the Omega DLC whets your appetite, and nothing else. By the campaign’s conclusion you will be left with an insatiable hunger for more, and thus will be unable to satisfy your appetite.

Omega is an entertaining addition to the Mass Effect universe in its own right, with a couple side missions to complete for some of the folks in Omega, and additional objectives which include fighting through a mine dripping with Ezo deposits (which may remind gamers of Dead Space 2 and Doom 3), destroying shields and defenses, deactivating land mines and neutralising garrisons of Cerberus combatants.

However, when in comparison to Mass Effect 3 as a whole, the Leviathan DLC, or even the Extended Cut, you will find your lust for the Mass Effect universe remains, and your wish for an incredibly potent experience goes unfulfilled.

On a final note, since the Bioware team who developed the Mass Effect franchise are primarily beginning to focus on new ventures, and Bioware Monteal has now announced they will be working on the new Mass Effect game, fans of Mass Effect 3 may wish to smoke this DLC while they have it – for there may not be another DLC for this game again. Judging by the fact that in four months time the game will be celebrating its one year anniversary since its release, and DLC’s for previous titles were discontinued half way into the following year respectively, this assumption is made even more likely.

In Summary:

Good:
-New entertaining and powerful enemies
-Challenging atmosphere
-Never before seen environments
-Plenty of credits are left lying around
-Aria’s powers are beyond amazing
-Potential war assets can be acquired by campaign’s end

Bad:
-Entire campaign is an unemotional experience
-Relatively short
-The four levels can feel small in comparison with the significant size of the station
-Exploration of both the station and characters is limited
-Adjutant Reaper enemies deserve greater role
-Sheer amount of medi-gel dissolves many of the challenges
-You, the gamer, will be left wanting more

Image References:
-Mass Effect Wiki 2012, Mass Effect 3: Omega, viewed 26th November 2012
< http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_3:_Omega>

In the world of video games, the end doesn’t always justify the means

 

Although some may refuse to believe this statement to be true, games have indeed matured since the days of their orchestration. Initially beginning as nothing more than experiences which required the gamer to run and gun their way from the start of a level to its conclusion, additional storylines, character development and in-depth background of locations, scenarios and occurrences have modified gaming into an experience which can easily rival the enjoyment ascertained from reading and watching films.

As the title of this piece suggests, my belief, and a factor of gaming that I especially enjoy, is as follows; although a game may more often than not require a gamer to potentially blast their way from one side of the game to the next, the ending does not necessarily have to end with such violence; nor does the game as a whole.

Nowadays, a majority of games have cinematics and other such occurrences which separate one action sequence from the next which adds depth to the fictitious piece as a whole. In an RPG, this happens more often than not when in comparison with a shooter, a great comparative example being that of the Halo franchise and the Mass Effect series; both are entrenched with an amazing character driven narrative which immerses the player in futuristic alien environments against vile, antagonistic opponents who seek the destruction of humanity. Shrouded with other themes, the likes of friendship, family, love, betrayal, redemption and revenge, these games offer the player a gratifying experience that is worth experiencing again and again.

On that note, if a game has being leading the player through a substantially powerful storyline amidst the many action sequences, the conclusion could no doubt carry the same weight. The days when an ending to a game was simply a mix of explosions, mixed with the demise of the end boss is indeed still apparent, but more is conveyed during the moments that follow on from this particular occurrence, and it is that which I am aiming to discuss.

When I am playing a game and find myself at its conclusion, more often than not I would like to experience an ending which is incredibly emotional; a simpler way would be to say a real tear jerker.

The first time I finished a game which ended in much the same way I have described above the year was 2003, and the title of the game was Unreal II The Awakening. Since that time, it has again happened in regards to titles the likes of Bioshock and its sequel Bioshock 2, Halo Reach, Halo 4 and Mass Effect 3 (especially when played with the Extended Cut DLC).

Adjunctively Gears of War 2 and 3 moved me emotionally, but these moments occurred during the games rather than at their conclusions.

If a game has already proved itself capable of delivering unto the player an experience that is consistent with the kind of powerful storyline you would expect from a genuine blockbuster at the cinema, then an emotionally charged ending is no doubt an inevitability by the game’s end.

Of course, the stereotypical feature only runs for a period no less than two hours, where as the shortest stereotypical game one is likely to experience today will go for approximately three times that amount. So, if I am going to immerse myself into a fictitious world for that amount of time, then I would very much like for the ending to be as passionately powerful as the overall experience from start to finish was for me.

I can only speak for myself, but I very much enjoy being fully immersed into the world of a video game to such an extent that I will genuinely feel something; I will become sad if a protagonist who I had befriended and fought beside dies; I will smile if the vile antagonist who caused such pain and suffering is defeated by game’s end; I will feel contempt at the evocative nature of any relationship that I manage to instigate between my character and a possible paramour.

With that said, certain readers may find it interesting that I would rather be brought to tears by the ending of a specific title, rather than find an epic amount of explosions dazzling across the screen before the credits gradually start rolling. True, I don’t believe that people in general enjoy crying, but that rule does not apply in my opinion when you are viewing fictitious content. To be moved in any which way; to tears; to fits of hysterical laughter; to glances of awe, is not always possible with every title, no matter the content, and to become emotionally distraught by a tragic ending is not something to be horrified at, but something to be ecstatic with.

If a feature has moved the viewer in the way that the writers, director and developers originally intended, then they have successfully achieved that which they had set out to do. If I had not being moved to tears by the game’s ending then that would have being an issue for I would not be acquiring the experience that I had paid for. Game’s in general often cost three times the amount of a film, and to be moved by the conclusion is well worth the one hundred odd dollars that the campaign was valued at.

In conclusion, I would very much like for more game’s to have an emotionally charged ending after playing through the campaign, or, like the Mass Effect series, build up on that possible ending through a franchise. After all, if I am going to be fully immersed into the world of a video game, I would genuinely appreciate the ability to be moved by an ending that has being developed by people as passionate for the game as I am, rather than end on the stereotypical explosive scenario that many game’s to this day conclude upon.

To be moved to tears by a game’s ending is not something that people should look down upon; it simply means that the player is human. As a species, humans are more often than not affected emotionally when something tragic happens. All I ask is that this in-depth feeling of humanity is written into the game’s that I play.

Thank you for reading.

If you have any comments on what I have written, or opinions of your own in regards to the subject matter, please, feel free to discuss them in the comments section below.

Going Deeper into the Darkness: Analysing the Call of Duty Black Ops II Single Player Campaign

The name Call of Duty in the gaming world today contains significant weight, with the franchise having a global monopoly on multiplayer gaming, not to mention being able to convey incredibly brutal and action packed single player campaigns.

After the Modern Warfare franchise officially came to a close, one may begin to wonder where COD could efficaciously go next. They have explored a multitude of the wars that have torn across the world over the past century, so what else can they do to show the militarian expertise that they thrust upon players shoulders?

COD Black Ops 2 provides the answer, by sending the gamer into the year 2025.

Now, the original Black Ops was considerably different than the other titles in the franchise, and its sequel is no different. The graphics of Black Ops were nowhere near as good as the Modern Warfare franchise, appearing to be a little outdated. The story did not follow a stereotypical chronological path, and could on occasion temporarily lose the player within the continuous battles. The fact that the lead character, Alex Mason, was additionally losing his mind throughout the story did not exactly help matters either.

Black Ops 2 however manages to bypass some of these issues as it attempts to clamber to the top of the many games that have already graced our screens this year alone. The graphics alone rival that of the Modern Warfare games, however, with the unfortunate release of Halo4 last week (unfortunate for Treyarch), the graphics are unable to measure up to that which 343 Industries threw at the player in their new addition to the Halo saga.

The storyline, like its predecessor, is just as confusing, but just as compelling at the same time, and even if at any point you feel overwhelmed or lost, the action alone will keep you wanting to experience more of the game play.

Returning to the screen is Alex Mason, whose story picks up in the 1980’s. Here, the story of both him and Frank Woods continues as they attempt to go up against many oppressors, their story inevitably affecting the future, where Mason’s son David, takes up the flak and becomes the lead protagonist for that specific part of the campaign.

With voices from actors Sam Worthington, Michael Rooker and Tony Todd, just to name a few, the characters alone are eccentric enough to keep you wanting to experience the campaign till the very end.

However, the voice acting alone is not all that compels you forward. A game that could perhaps have being called ‘Blow Up’ rather than Black Ops, you will continuously find almost all of the environment being blasted into smithereens at one point or another. From the very opening of the game, you take control of the turrets on a chopper and lay waste to an array of enemy tanks that are attempting to seize control of the battlefield, and from that moment on the explosions continue, with more blasts than a fireworks display frequently lighting up your screen.

Additionally, a new feature in the game that makes it more exciting are the load outs that grace you at the beginning of each mission. A lot like Soldier of Fortune, you are able to select from a wide variety of armourments, many of which will gradually become available as you continue to play. For each specific character, there are different weapons depending on the time period that you happen to be in.

On top of this, many weapons can be equipped with an additional piece of weapon tech, from either a scope, an additional few rounds, etc, that will make combat more effective.

One great aspect of the load outs is your ability to not only take some pretty heavy fire power into the map with you, or the ability to change the weapon skins, but the ability to take an additional kit on the mission. These will also be unlocked as you move through the campaign, each one coming with its own unique factors that will help you through the mission. One allows you to move faster whilst you are looking through your scopes. Another allows you to reload significantly faster. The most interesting would no doubt be the access kit, which allows you to hack/pick the locks of certain doors and crates which gives you access to what is inside. When playing as Alex, there is a particularly good moment where you can acquire a sniper rifle and some animal traps within a locked storage room. On the other hand, whilst playing as David, you can acquire a cloaking device inside a locked crate that allows you to be almost entirely invisible, which is beyond cool.

Yes, you read that last line right – a cloaking device. By sending the game into the future, Black Ops 2 not only gives you access to new equipment and weaponry, but other interesting pieces of technology. This can include the ability to take control of remote robotic devices the likes of cannons, sentries, turrets and other gadgets across the maps that enable you to defeat the never ending swarms of enemies that attempt to defeat you at every turn.

With that said it is obvious that, much like the original, approximately half of the game is going to be spent on your back, with your legs and arms in the air. A single bullet is enough to cause significant trauma, your screen continuously being a bright red in colour as the heart of you dying character beats in your ears. Although this may sound sinister, the game alone will take around 6-8 hours to complete on the ‘Hardened’ difficulty setting alone, so don’t expect the campaign to last you for the rest of the month.

On top of this, the realism of the game is just as intense and further draws you into the environment surrounding your characters. Rushing water propels you backward, pushing you in the direction of the current if you refuse to move with the tide. Pieces of debris shower you from all angles as explosions tear through the environment. Smoke and other particles arise from walls and other such aspects of the maps as your bullets connect with the area around you. This and more allows you to feel right at home on the battlefield.

Apart from the general length, which is often an issue with many games of today, the other two issues are as follows; one is the game itself. Too often the game will automatically take over. During the first level, there is a particularly sweet part where Alex leaps out of a helicopter, lands on a boat, and just as an enemy proceeds to jump atop of him, he slits the throat of his opponent, almost severing his head entirely, with blood profusely spilling out across the screen. The issue with this gloriously bloody scene? You, the player, have nothing to do with it – the game does this for you. On another occasion in the future, where you use ‘Nano Gloves’ to walk along a rock wall, the game does this for you again, with a few scenes in-between where you need to swing your fellow partners in crime along with you, before swinging yourself to the next segments of the terrain. After this, there is a pretty beautiful flying scene where you don a pair of wings and go flying through the jungle. Again, the game does most of the work here, and all you need to do is on occasion turn the right thumb stick and you will graciously avoid flying into trees (unlike me on my first attempt). Later still, there is a time when the game will automatically put your character into prone, and crawl under a fallen tree. Can’t the player be involved in completing any and all of these objectives on their own? There is something incredibly fun with doing many of these kick ass moves on your own – for one, you become more fully immersed, and you feel impressed deep inside that you yourself were involved in successfully completing that objective. If the game takes over, then that feeling is non-existent. In fact, the game baby’s you so often, that when it comes time for you to take control, on some occasions you will narrowly miss hitting the key that you are acquired to hit and fail the operation.

On other occasions, the game does seem to make up for its lack of providing the player with full control during scenes that do not involve continued gun fire. These moments however are as rare as they are short. During one scene, you are forced to continuously press the ‘X’ key (XBOX 360 controller reference, may be different for other platforms) so many times that you eventually lose count as to keep your character under control and to stop them from blowing away the antagonist you are attempting to interrogate; a process that is not made easy by the suspect’s stubborn resolve.

There are a number of entertaining moments that indeed occur throughout the storyline however which make up for this, including storming luxurious villa’s; spying on enemy targets; manoeuvring through ravaged landscapes whilst attempting to outmanoeuvre technologically advanced sensors; blasting through enemies with an amazing array of powerful weapons, and not to mention the availability to now pilot and control vehicular transport.

Whilst playing as Alex, you are provided the opportunity to travel on horseback across a colossal Middle Eastern battleground that is reminiscent of Stallone’s First Blood Part 3. You work side by side Middle Eastern Comrades, which is a first for the entire Call of Duty saga, as you rush around on horseback, taking out enemy gunships and anti-armour defences, all of which is as challenging as it is exhilarating.
Of course, David is additionally provided with the availability to use transport, with an intensely fun buggy cruise through a ravaged city. Anti-air defences fly down on you in the shape of drones as they attempt to blast you off the road, whilst fellow enemy buggy patrols fire volley after volley of bullets from their turrets. Defenceless? I think not! Simply boost your vehicle in the direction of the opposing forces and watch their vehicle flip and fly across the map, before exploding as easily as everything else in the game.

If there is any problem with the vehicular battles, it would be the controls. At times your vehicle may suddenly go faster than your fellow characters, and during other instances may be hopelessly unable to catch up, both of which could lead to dire ramifications for your character and the progress of the mission. Adjunctively, in certain intervals it can be very easy to run your vehicle into random parts of the environment for the twists and turns that you may need to perform seem to not come as easily as you would wish. These issues however are unable to outweigh the fun that you will easily gain from these moments, and you will most likely be feeling upset that the vehicular combat aspects of the game did not involve as much longevity as you would have wanted.

The other issue (as discussed five paragraphs back) you might find is another new aspect of the game. In the future, there is a new game type that, although it does not have much pertinence with the overall storyline, necessitates completion all the same. In this new game variant, you, the player, are able to place the game into a RTS (Real Time Strategy) camera mode and control characters from above. You can move your teams to certain locations, target them to attack certain enemies and/or targets, and complete basic level objectives. Of course, if you at any period of time feel that the general AI is wavering in its competency, you can easily take control of either a player or potential robotic device and go into first person mode once more where you can attempt to complete the many objectives on your own. Upon dying, you will either automatically be sent into the body of another soldier, or be sent back to the screen above, where you can overlook the map. You needn’t worry so much about the death count of your team, for new members are continuously being shepherded in, but the quick way the map can change from being in your hands to being in jeopardy is quick, if not annoying, and will keep you guessing as you attempt to overpower the impressive numbers of the enemy’s forces. Survival is obviously not necessarily guaranteed. Although new ideas and aspects are always well appreciated in games, it feels odd to change up an already well defined first person shooter franchise with such a new course of game play.

Challenging, bloodthirsty, and riddled with profanities, COD Black Ops 2 does strengthen the Black Ops franchise, but have some of the changes gone too far? The continuous action scenes will keep you mesmerised, and the twists and turns of the story as it is slowly but surely revealed to you in dribs and drabs will keep you committed unto the end.

Doom3 BFG Edition – is this the Biggest Friggin’ Game in the Doom franchise?

 

Last week in Australia, our shores were graced by the arrival of no, not more ‘boat people’, but by Doom3 BFG Edition, which comes equipped with the original Doom, Doom2, Doom3, the mission pack, Doom3 Resurrection of Evil, and a new campaign consisting of eight levels titled ‘the Lost Mission’.

Doom3 in itself was a terrific action shooter that went out of its way to make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and boy did it succeed! The high definition reboot of the action classic is graphically sublime, and cannot be faulted in any way with the seemingly stupendous visuals that it throws at you in every frame. The in game movies have been beefed up along with the general gaming experience to fully immerse you within a realm that has been graphically redefined.

The monsters look absolutely terrific, and some, especially the Pinky Demon seem especially grotesque in their appearance.

The sound is in your face, exploding out from the speakers with an unrelenting fury as it envelops everything within the vicinity.

Moreover, the game itself has not been changed, so gamers will be able to expect all that they once endured and suffered at the hands of Hell’s demon spawn to once again suffer some more.

Suffering is the right term though for those of you who think I have lost my mind. Playing the game on Veteran – I had forgotten just how difficult it could be. It is easy though – as long as you don’t get hit by anything. After a couple hits you’ll find your character lying on the ground with his legs and arms in the air, so you need to be extra vigilant whilst exploring the UAC Mars Facility for the enemy can come from everywhere and anywhere.

There is also the fact that id decides to teleport in a demon or too into a room if you fail to leave in an unspecified time frame, or you decide to begin retracing your steps in an attempt to find some health or are looking for the cabinet that wouldn’t open before because you failed to have the right combination.

However, one will not suffer at the hands of the boss monsters. As one will recall, the boss creatures from the Doom games are never that complicated – all you require is ammo – you can never have too much of it. From the original Doom, in which you blasted the Spider Mastermind a couple times with the BFG to make ‘im blow up till now, the bosses of Doom have never offered the worst challenge imaginable, and most of them (minus the guy at the end of Resurrection of Evil, unless you have the strategy down) will be taken out on your first attempt.

The multiplayer experience moreover for those enjoying the game on console is strictly for online multiplayer, so don’t expect to go round fragging your friends in a split screen game.

However, id compensate for this by allowing the original 2 Doom games to come equipped with such a function.

Yes, Doom and Doom2 can be played on all platforms now, which is really impressive, although don’t go expecting the graphics to be any better than they once were. Hailed as the greatest graphics ever conceived back between 1993-95 when the games were originally launched, now they seem rather obtuse in comparison to games of today, but the fun they will provide has not at all been extinguished. What’s more, both the Doom games come equipped with all of the add on packs that were conceived, so for Doom you have all four original terrifying episodes, and for Doom2 you are granted the ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ game as well.

What is a little upsetting for the biggest Doom fans might be the fact that Evilutions (which wasn’t exactly the best Doom game ever) and the Plutonia Experiment (or, as I like to call it, the hardest Doom game ever – people may remember a secret level filled with Cyber Demons!) are not included in this limited edition reboot.

However, as previously mentioned, the multiplayer is capable of allowing gamers who experience BFG Edition on console the ability to either play the campaigns co-operatively or in a death match via split screen. Massive Doom gamers will no doubt remember the fun that Doom multiplayer provided back in the day – I mean, it was what, the first ever game that allowed people this opportunity?! That fun has returned and is exceptional!

It feels incredibly fun to once again blast your enemies away in these original Doom conceptions, although at the same time the music and the sound of all the items respawning is no doubt capable of making your brain turn to juice as you slowly but surely lose your mind.

I guess the only negative feature of the original games is the weapons – the keys to select which one you wish to use are incredibly fiddly and never will you properly get used to them, which becomes especially annoying during a massive fire fight. If that’s not enough, not all of the weapons are in the order they once were on PC all those years ago – you would expect the Super Shotgun to come after the Shotgun? Nope, it comes in as one of the last weapons.

However, do not let this little addendum cause you dismay; the original games are just as fun as ever before!

Moving back to the Doom3 series, although Doom3 in itself looks fantastic (although once or twice you can see something’s a little off but that happens in all games), when it comes to Doom3 Resurrection of Evil you can clearly see a difference when you start to play – it is as though whoever was involved in rebooting this particular campaign into high definition lost their passion after being involved rebooting its predecessor.

The graphics in game do not look quite as beautiful, and the cinematics – they have not even been changed. These parts of the game, of which there are quite a few mind you, look exactly as they did back in 2005, which isn’t all that bad – but when you compare it to Doom3 you can clearly see the graphical differences and feel a slight ping of disappointment.

Again, when playing Doom3 and its sequel the keys to switch the weapons can be a little annoying, but less so in these particular games than they are in the originals. Upon acquiring the special artefacts found in either game, these can be accessed just by pressing the left button on the D-pad, although it is annoying when the game fails to register your pressing need for the artefacts and so decides against giving them to you – often resulting in a rather unpleasant death.

As for ‘the Lost Mission’ and the eight ‘levels’ of entertainment that such a campaign provides – I’m sorry, but I have to ask – what’s the point? This particular campaign will take you less than two hours to complete on Veteran difficulty, and the supposed ‘levels’ (hence the reason why I put such a word in quotation marks before) are incredibly minuscule – in fact to even call them levels is a downright insult to the levels in the other Doom3 games which are by far larger in size than what you shall experience in this campaign.

In this new campaign you find yourself in the shoes of a member of Bravo team after this small militarian group were attacked by ravenous demons in the Empro Plant. Waking up to find you only have half your health left, if you are anything like me, you begin by thinking ‘what’s the point?’ (as previously stated).

In Doom3 and the sequel, the games both focused on you bringing a stopper to the invasions that had taken over the base. The objective, as you will find later on in the second level, is as follows; a scientist is in need of your assistance. Believing himself to be the only person who has survived the invasion, he needs you to be a good boy and go into what he calls ‘the other realm’ (why can’t he just call it Hell?) and switch off a teleportation system there that is still online and linked to the UAC Mars Facility. Worse still, the demons could use it as a means to travel directly to Earth! Good times!

Much of what you shall find in these eight levels look to be rehashed from the Doom3 experience. Segments in the Empro Plant and the Mars City Underground will leave you with great feelings of déjà vu, and the secret ‘Exis Labs’ that is supposed to be capable of bettering the Delta Complex upon completion looks exactly on several occasions like sections of the Delta Complex that it is supposed to be bettering!

A couple sections in the game are new, including running around, trying to hopelessly find the code to the cabinet with the double barrelled shotgun in it; fighting a couple of the enemies that appeared in the mission pack; the updated looking teleportation units, which look considerably impressive mind you, and at one point using the ‘Grabber’ to send energy from one pylon to another (think Portal, but less challenging).

When you eventually do find yourself in the midst of the ominous ‘other realm’, this I have to say does look very different from previous experiences in the Doom3 games – if anything, it looks a lot like Hell did back in the original Dooms, which classic fans will no doubt be impressed by. The final boss is nothing special though, but the big bastard will have you on your toes on a few occasions, but as long as you run and gun you will eventually prevail with very little injury on your first attempt.

All three campaigns for Doom3 furthermore will take you less than ten hours to complete on Veteran, however, don’t do what I did and play them all one after the other in a row, else you might find that you suddenly become Doom3’d out!

Long story short – you simply must buy Doom3 BFG Edition as to partake in the HD Doom3 campaign. The multiplayer aspect in the original Doom games is an additional reason to add this game to your collection, whilst the rest of the Doom experience seems a lot more like random bits and pieces that will mildly entertain you if you have nothing better to do.

All in all, a quick little appetiser to entice you for Doom4, which is supposed to come out on the 31st of December this year, but who knows? What can be said about id is that their games are always long awaited and very fun, with no bugs to speak of. However, never have they been really good at keeping to their schedules, i.e. Doom3 – meant to come out August 2004, then September and then October, and then eventually came out mid 2004. And don’t even get me started on Rage!

In summary:
8/10

-Doom3 graphics are sublime

-Doom3 cinematics are beautifully articulated

-Doom and Doom2 multiplayer is fun

-Doom and Doom2 graphics remain unchanged

-Doom3 Resurrection of Evil graphics seem less than exceptional in comparison to Doom3

-Doom3 ‘the Lost Mission’ seems pointless and trivial, yet flawlessly presented graphically

-Doom3 multiplayer strictly online

-Switching weapons is a lot like putting a red hot iron down your trousers – it’s a risky business

-Many levels, but rather short in all

You know you have been playing video games too long when…

 

-you think by walking over things you will automatically pick them up.

-the last time you had a girlfriend, Cleopatra was Queen of Egypt.

-during a fight, you frantically look for the ‘b’ button as to perform a successful melee attack.

-you duck and roll into office cubicles rather than walk into them.

-at work, when a person throws a file at you, you quickly toss it right back from fear it might explode.

-you think your LAN connection is faulty when things go wrong in life.

-you would rather toss a hand gun than use it, preferring a minigun because if you want to kill something, the last thing you wanna do is miss.

-you think ‘Facebook’ is a Reaper indoctrination device.

-you and your friends walk around, bumping into any and all areas of the environment like a bunch of brainless bots.

-your fingers are permanently fixed into a claw from continued use of console triggers.

-you become annoyed when weapons do not load quite as easily in reality as they would in a video game.

-‘Tali, do you want to go out for dinner tonight?’ you ask your girlfriend who is in fact named Rachel, Stephanie or True.

-your boss fires you for failing to come to work for the past two weeks, and the last thing you ever say to the man is ‘but boss, the Krogan need me!’

-you feel more at home in sewers and ventilation shafts than in your own bedroom.

-you’ve sat on your ass, played video games and eaten food so often that the last time you saw the numbers 1,096 was on the bathroom scales.

-when purchasing clothing, you check the label to see how much damage resilience it will offer you.

-you are unable to perform a jump because your body is not equipped with a space bar.

-you remove all the doors in your house from their hinges and have everyone you love wear bells attached to their necks for their protection, along with your own, to ensure you know where everyone you care about is at any given time in your house as to not have them sneak up on you and force you to inevitably slay them.

-you look for the little blue ‘x’ button when entering and exiting vehicles.

-you can’t find your flashlight, so use a flame thrower or chain gun to light your way instead.

-when your wife throws items at your head even she is amazed when you duck and roll with record reaction time from the amount of practice you have received from battling killer mutants from outer space.

-at funerals, you wonder why the dead bodies do not fade away, and question the priests about whether there is a fault with their software when this fails to happen.

-you attempt to install cheat codes into your body as to allow yourself to walk through walls and have infinite ammo.

-you look for an invulnerability sphere at your local pharmacist.

-the sun hurts your eyes after you emerge from what feels like an eternity of gaming, whilst your beard seems a few meters longer than what it was when you began.

-to begin a conversation with a person, you wait until they are highlighted, or look over their bodies in the hopes of discovering a ‘use’ key.

-the growl of the dog and the meow of the cat cause you to leap over the couch for a better vantage point whilst reaching for your semi-automatic.

-you take a vowel of celibacy as to lose your virginity to an Assari Huntress.

-you take an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher, not Role Playing Game!) to your high school reunion cuz you know when the shit hits the fan an area effect weapon is better than a pistol.

-during game play, when an enemy attacks your character, you slide off your chair as to tactically avoid them.

-your television and monitor are riddled with bullet holes.

-your XBOX 360, PS3, keyboard and mouse require cleaning every couple days rather than every couple months.

-after playing a video game you need a long hot shower as to wipe away all the excess blood from your face, whilst your friends wonder why you are covered in so many scars and bruises.

-your girlfriend’s snoring reminds you of the Hell Knight from Doom…and makes you consider leaving the chainsaw beneath your bed from fear she might actually be the Hell Knight from Doom.

-you dress up as your favorite video game character for conventions, Halloween and all manner of other occasions, but your friends always recognise you.

-you move all of your first aid kits closer towards your game console.

-you mistake your wife’s best friend’s boob job for a couple rocket launchers.

-you randomly speak your mind, knowing if you do something wrong, you can always load from the last check point.

-your trigger finger twitches whenever someone enters the room.

-you ask for the Quad Damage weapon multiplier at the local gun store.

-all of your consoles automatically boot directly into your favorite games unless you press a specific key.

-you find yourself looking for Kevlar and anti-radiation suits at your local K-Mart.

-when buying a helmet, you ask the shop keeper for the one with the A.I port at the rear.

-you don’t bother turning on the lights because you know your eyes come with a night sensitivity mode.

-when a man insults you, instead of saying ‘I challenge you to a duel’ you say ‘I challenge you to a deathmatch!’

-you don’t worship God – no, you worship the Covenant forerunners.

-you walk up and down the super market complex looking for ‘Citadel Souvenirs.’

-when sick, you ask the doctor for a stim-pack.

-you look for sniper towers in toilet cubicles and elevators.

-you‘re annoyed when your parents buy you the new car they have been promising you – only to find it was not a Warthog.

-you find it odd when your environment does not stall or become pixilated.

-during physical altercations you ask your opponents to pause so you might heal.

-you think the mole on your left wrist is in fact the Omni-tool activation switch.

-you quickly run in and out of rooms, watching your back to see what creature follows you out.

-you choose to play a video game rather than spend the night with a woman. Funny fact; in 2009, a survey in Australia looked at male gamers – the question? Would you rather spend the night playing a video game, or spend the night with a woman. 78% of those surveyed – said they would rather spend the night playing a video game.

-your girlfriend leaves you, slamming the front door as it comes back to knock her in the ass. She cries at the top of her lungs ‘you love your friggin’ game box more than you love me you selfish bastard!’ You don’t twitch nor flinch as you persist in trying to eliminate the final boss at the end of the game. Besides, saving the universe from total destruction is more important than she was, right?

-during conversations, you pause as to allow time for the next conversation option to appear before your eyes.

-you believe certain mushrooms will bestow onto you a temporary boost of magika.

-you walk into Best and Less and ask where they keep their Spartan Armor.

-you barter for random goods and services, and try to sell goods you don’t need back to perspective shop keepers.

-you squint your eyes, rub at them and close them completely, wondering why it is that the crosshairs are not appearing.

-you volunteer to carry your all of your friend’s goods, along with your own, from the belief that you can carry several hundred kilograms worth of equipment before becoming over encumbered.

-you think it’s odd that the bodies of all the women you know look different rather than similar and that their breasts are not huge and cumbersome.

-you think during the two minutes it takes you to walk from one side of the house to the next you can experience morning, noon and night.

-your friends are worried that you are not getting enough sun, explaining to you this is the first time you have been out of the house in the past six months.

-you go pressing up against walls in the hopes that one might open to reveal a secret area.

-you randomly look around your environment, hoping to find spare ammo clips.

-you search your girlfriend’s body for the following pieces of equipment; power cables, the ‘on’ switch, volume control and the mute button.

-you are so used to been called ‘marine’, ‘Shepherd’ or ‘Master Chief’ that when someone actually says your name you simply ignore them.

-when at the local car dealership you notice the vehicle you are after is not present and so ask if they have run out of Ghosts’.

-at the local shooting range, you ask the clerk behind the desk for the BFG.

-when you look at your reflection in the mirror you expect to find the ‘change appearance’ button.

-you pick fights with people, knowing that if you lose you can always respawn at full strength.

-when you enter a friend’s house you always look for where their flag is located so you might steal it and take it back home with you when they’re not looking as to score yourself a point.

-you believe every locked door can be opened with a red, blue or gold keycard.

-you are constantly being arrested for the minigun emplacement attached to the rear of your vehicle.

-you frequently wonder why you feel pain when injured.

-your best and most truest friend is a five inch tall, seven year old woman named ‘Cortana’.

-during family altercations, you reach for your assault rifle, believing a team deathmatch is on the verge of beginning.

-you side step down hallways as to avoid your work colleagues from fear they might assault you.

-you haven’t been able to open your fridge in the past two weeks because you are having difficulty locating the ‘use’ key.

-when your girlfriend blows you a kiss, you leap out of the way to avoid it whilst reaching for your shotgun.

-you don’t care so much when you are gravely ill or dying because you’ll probably be able to find one of those mega-health’s lying around.

-your favorite Backstreet Boys, Lady Ga Ga and Daughtry albums are left in the corner of your bedroom gathering dust, whilst the illegally downloaded music files from Halo, Doom and Mass Effect reach the rank of ‘most played’ in Windows Media Player.

-you expect to receive ‘paragon’ every time you say something nice.

-you wonder why you have five fingers on your hand rather than three.

-you constantly find yourself wondering why everything is not in third person mode.

-you think you are ill when your HUD does not appear before your eyes.

-‘I’ll be there in a minute honey, just let me finish this level’ is your most frequently used expression.

-when you open a door, instead of turning on the lights, you toss a grenade into the room.

-where everyone else puts on trunks or a bikini (if you swing that way), you equip anti-radiation suits before entering swimming pools.