iCynic

One of my roommates had control of the remote and used his diabolical, evil ways to inflict a showing of iCarly upon his fellow tenants.  College football was on but everyone at EMU hates college football outside of JMU for some reason.  Anyway, I overheard (and, admittedly, watched) enough to get a grasp of what was going on.  The real plot of the episode was uninteresting, although the importance of a first kiss was overrated.  9th graders don’t care about a first kiss, they care more about losing their virginity.  It’s curious that Nickolodeon chose to censor that…

Anyway, the real plot was the sub-one, with Carly’s brother going to prison to teach art to inmates.  They end up constructing a giant pair of pants, which the prisoners use to escape and persuade Carly’s brother into taking it home.  The pants are taken home and the convicts escape, only to find Carly and her friends in the house with them.  Now, in the show, the prisoners only tie them up and run away to enjoy their freedom via murdering, stabbing and whatever else escaped prisoners do.

I realize it’s a kid show and it’s entertainment but reality can only be dismissed so much before you ask “what the hell?”  The reality is these prisoners would have eaten these kids alive.  The show depicted them as a violent sort, one attempting to kill Carly’s brother and another who had to constantly stab things.  Violent criminals wouldn’t have left these kids alone after tying them up with duct tape.  Best-case scenario in reality?  Carly’s brother would have come home to find his sister and her friends brutally murdered.  Worst-case scenario, the prisoners rape the bodies and do other nasty, unspeakably evil deeds.

After all, Carly and her friends are witnesses to their escape and could identify them to the police.  Why leave them alive?  The police would infer that the missing inmates (who they would find missing when they did roll call or something, although they never bothered to check the pants when Carly’s brother was leaving prison) escaped in the pants and Carly’s brother would feel all sorts of guilt.

I just wrote an overview of what could have been the series finale of iCarly…wow?

Mass Effect Revisited

I’ve been replaying Mass Effect lately.  While Bioware has a good track record when it comes to games, Mass Effect is the least impressive of the bunch.  It’s still a good game but compared to Baldur’s Gate or Knights of the Old Republic, it’s clearly not in the same tier.

Mass Effect combines science-fiction with Jade Empire’s real-time combat.  The player is Commander Shepherd or however that last name is spelled.  A candidate for the SPECTREs (badass galactic enforcement), the first of your trial missions goes horribly wrong and soon, you and a party of humans/aliens are off to save the galaxy.  Without spoiling Mass Effect’s plot, that’s the best summary that can be put into words.

The universe of Mass Effect is more fleshed out than Jade Empire’s (both are original Bioware creations, whereas Baldur’s Gate and KOTOR derive from D&D d20 and Star Wars), but only on the surface.  The planets feel rather limited, something that wasn’t present in KOTOR.  While the galaxy is a big place, most of the area is unexplorable.  The player can “survey” certain planets but most are only there to be looked at and added to the codex.  The few planets that are explorable (aside from the ones essential to the plot) only have two-three places of interest and once the player lands, they’ll wonder why they even bothered.

Then again, gameplay has never been a major focus of Bioware.  These RPGs are story-based and Mass Effect continues that trend.  Bioware put a lot of time into this universe and want the player immersed in it.  This is done pretty well although the dialogue is a bit much and strays into Metal Gear Solid territory of “shut up and get back to the gameplay.”

Bioware must have taken a ton of flack over KOTOR’s gameplay because Mass Effect follows Jade Empire’s real-time combat.  Except instead of martial arts, guns are used.  Mass Effect plays similar to a shooter, meaning the player needs to take cover whilst filling their enemies full of bullets.  It’s nice having an infinite ammo gun (an actual gameplay mechanic, not a cheat) but the shooter elements could stand additional refining.  The squad A.I. could use a boost as well, as the player’s “allies” will constantly take all the good cover and proceed not to do anything with it.

The game looks impressive, as current-gen games should.  There are some rendering issues that come up and glitches, but none are terribly problematic.  Still, it is noticeable when they crop up.  While the music is nothing to write home about, it does its job as standard sci-fi fare.  The voice acting is good, only marred by some occasional odd lines by your player character.  Sometimes he/she sounds good and other times, they are a complete tool.

Don’t let this critical review damage Mass Effect’s goodness.  That’s just it, though.  Mass Effect is a “good” but not “great” game.  Being produced from the same company that brought us stellar titles like Baldur’s Gate or KOTOR, Mass Effect had some lofty expectations to meet.  Mass Effect stands up well enough on its own but it’s not worth mentioning in the same breath as those two great games.  8.2 out of 10.