We will build your DREAMWEB!
March 6th, 2012
(as of 2013-04-15 19:00:21 PST)
(as of 2013-04-15 19:00:21 PST)
Mass Effect 3 Collector's Edition by Electronic Arts
DescriptionGet the ultimate Mass Effect 3 experience with the N7 Collector’s Edition! This exclusive and limited package includes:Premium metal case featuring commemorative artwork of Commander Shepard. 70-page hardbound art book featuring hundreds of unique and gorgeous illustrations from the BioWare development team. Limited edition Mass Effect comic by Dark Horse Comics, complete with unique cover artwork. Join the ranks of the N7 with the premium fabric N7 patch. Exclusive 4x6 lithographic print featuring a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. A full collection of in-game content that can’t be found anywhere else!
Mass Effect 3 is a Role-playing Game (RPG) / Third-Person Shooter hybrid set in a Science Fiction universe. Mass Effect 3 is the third game in the popular Mass Effect series, and is rumored to be the final installment. In it players continue the adventures of Commander Shepard utilizing extreme character customization which is the hallmark feature of the series. Additional features include: the ability to import decisions from both of the previous games into the new game, ownership/play of previous games not required, customizable weapons, improved mobility and melee combat, many returning characters (if they were not killed off in previous imported games), an improved cover system that allows for more action, compatibility with the Kinect Sensor for Xbox 360 and more.
Along with the game, the Mass Effect 3 N7 Collector's Edition contains a wealth of exclusive bonus items. See the complete list below.
Join Commander Shepard in the struggle against the Reapers in the conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy.
Collector's Edition exclusive bonuses.
The Final Chapter in the Mass Effect Trilogy
Not everyone will survive. An ancient alien race, known only as "Reapers," has launched an all-out invasion leaving nothing but a trail of destruction in their wake. Earth has been taken, the galaxy is on the verge of total annihilation, and you are the only one who can stop them. The price of failure is extinction. You are Commander Shepard, a character that you can forge in your own image. You determine how events will play out, which planets to explore, and whom to form alliances with as you rally a force to eliminate the Reaper threat once and for all. How you wage this war is completely up to you: go into combat with guns blazing or use cover to plan a more tactical assault. Utilize your squad to full effect or take a lone wolf approach. Rain death from a distance or go toe-to-toe with enemies using devastating melee attacks. Mass Effect 3 will react to each decision you make as you play through a truly unique experience of your own creation.
Mass Effect 3 N7 Collector's Edition for Xbox 360 Contents
Key Game Features
The Humble Nindie Bundle is comprised of a handful of indie games for the two Nintendo platforms. This bundle works like any other--you can pay any price you want (over $1) for certain games, while beating the average sale price gets you a few more, or paying at least a certain price (in this case, $10) gets you all of those games and two more. You're also free to distribute your money between Humble, the various games' developers, and charity.
More games will be added at some point over the next two weeks, but the current lineup looks like this:
Pay any price:
Beat the average price:
Pay $10 or more:
This Humble Bundle's charity is Code.org, a non-profit group that works to expand computer science education and encourage participation in the field by women and students of color.
Humble Bundles are typically comprised of PC and mobile games, though in recent years the company has branched out to occasionally offer things like ebooks and music albums.
“You go from your hometown to being the biggest band in the world, you choose…what kind of band you are," designer Alli Thresher told IGN.
Rock Band 4 will require players to make decisions that have significant consequences for the future of their groups, just like it would happen in real life.
"You can take corporate gigs and make a lot of money as a band, you can take a path to pursue your artistic integrity, and along the way, as you make these choices, the game kind of responds to you," Thresher explained.
"So, you might take a gig where you decide you are the spokesperson for off-brand salted meats and start your every gig by warming up the crowd telling them how much you like salted meats," she added. "And the crowd is not into it and booing and stuff, and you have to play really, really well to get them over it."
Players don't have to accept corporate sponsorships, however. There is also the option to "couch surf around the country, use social media to meet people, and sleep on their floors," Thresher said.
Taking this route, however, means you'll have less money to spend on guitars and character customization. But on the flipside, it might result in a better overall reputation for your band.
Rock Band 4 launches later this year for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Supremacy, as the DLC is called, adds four new maps, including two that take you to landmarks in London (the Palace of Westminster) and Moscow (the Kremlin). Another, Skyrise, is a remake of a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 map, Highrise. You can see each of these in the trailer, and check out Activision's descriptions of them below.
Also included in Supremacy is the next episode of the Exo Zombies mode, entitled Carrier. Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) joins the cast, which already wasn't lacking for star power (and might now lack John Malkovich's Oz, based on the trailer). The mode's four characters are stuck on an Atlas aircraft carrier during this episode, which features new weapons and enemies.
Supremacy is due out on June 2 for Xbox One and Xbox 360 before being released on other platforms at a future date. It costs $15 on its own, or can be had as part of the $50 season pass.
Activision's descriptions of the new multiplayer maps follow:
I've praised the the game's focus on the Forrester family before; they are always the most interesting characters on screen at any given time, overshadowing cameos from the TV show's stars. It's been thoroughly delightful (and painful, in that masochistic, enjoyable way) watching Mira evolve into a sneaking schemer, seeing Rodrik struggle to balance the demands of Lady Forrester and his sister Talia without letting either down, and uncovering the mystery of the fabled North Grove with Gared. But their story is starting to to mimic the tale of the Starks--the downtrodden family at the center of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire--with the introduction of new characters and scenarios that feel like the writers are following a checklist. I can't list all those things here, as it would spoil nearly every turning point for the episode, but I can say that if you're familiar with the arcs of Sansa Stark and Jon Snow, so surprises are a rarity here.
We last left Gared Tuttle at the Wall in more trouble that he's ever been, Mira out of favor with Margaery Tyrell, Rodrik trying and failing to regain control of Ironrath, and Asher at the feet of Daenerys Targaryen. Most of the major choices in Sons of Winter revolve around our heroes trying to please one person at the expense of incurring another's wrath--something you've been doing in more exciting, meaningful ways for three episodes already. There's a lot of verbal fencing, but none of it reaches anxious heights of, say, Mira's first conversation with Cersei Lannister in Episode One. For example, Asher's plea to Daenerys for an army seems rushed and flat, and no matter what you tell her, she continues to threaten you. Having Mira eavesdropping on partygoers and potentially ruin fellow handmaiden Sera's life doesn't feel thrilling, and threats made towards her are all simple variants of "You'll pay for this!" and "We'll get you!" with little bite behind the bark.
Sons of Winter is about defense and safety--protecting yourself and your house, and keeping who you can safe. You can't keep everyone secure, though, and most decisions are predictable: side with Beshka or your uncle as Asher, side with Sera or not as Mira, side with your mother or the woman you love as Rodrik. These gambits of "him or her" decisions, one after another, have become tiring four episodes in. You have to decide how to use the information you have, who to reveal it to and with whom to use it as a bargaining chip. You'll make people angry, fall further out of favor if you choose to put your family first, and in one instance alter someone's only chance at having a good life.
You're still being pushed to think of your family first, endangering yourself in the process, but the emotional risks feel just out of sight here; not in the way that you can sometimes be blind to negative consequences, but in a way that you aren't taking time to weigh outcomes because there is no threat to consider. Having those threats simmer at every major choice has served Game of Thrones well in its first half, but Episode Four drops the tension entirely. In Mira's case, for instance, you gather loads of useful information in a short amount of time and are then able to bully and tease others as you please. But by making Mira powerful, much of what made her storyline frightening has been sidelined. She’s playing the Game of Thrones with no immediate consequence.
Perhaps it's because this is the part in Game of Thrones where it's time to talk more and do less, biding time and waiting for opportunity. But the episode's overall goal seems to be introducing more information, more context and characters, than throwing the Forresters directly into harm's way. There's nothing wrong with slowing down, but Sons of Winter slows to a crawl. Telltale's games are at their best when they dropping action sequences into unexpected junctures of down-time, threats that need to be dealt with immediately and quickly before you can proceed. An entire episode of mostly exposition and some lock-picking doesn't do well for mood-building, especially in Westeros, and the lengthiest action sequence--a string of running into cover, sneaking, and stealthily taking down guards--is devoid of any real stress or excitement.
There are a few emotional cling-points in Sons of Winter, and they revolve around the people who are willing to risk life and limb to help the Forresters. Most notable among these are several scenes with Beskha, the brash and cutthroat lady sellsword that has become Asher's best friend. You finally learn why she's so tough and why she's loath to return to Meereen, culminating in one of the most heartbreaking moments in the series so far. Her tragedy outweighs Asher's. By revealing her backstory to Asher, he gains some perspective in his relationship with her, which delivers several very sweet, enjoyable moments between the two that are welcome amid the episode's low points.
It is also refreshing to see Rodrik's struggle against the Whitehills finally move away from the repetitive cycle of events that characterized the series' first half. As the Whitehills realize they aren't as strong or powerful as they thought they were, unlikely allies come to Rodrik's aid. These supporting characters bring a refreshing change to the fight we've seen so far, revealing personalities that alternately clash and meld with the Forresters and bring out new, more individually personal facets of their struggle. Rodrik's beloved, Elaena Glenmore, becomes more important in Episode Four than she's been all series, evolving beyond a love interest and perhaps into something more dangerous as she pushes Rodrik to take action on her behalf.
A bit about the presence of the TV show characters: Daenerys is totally out of character. She's mean and hard in ways that she isn't in the TV series; in the show she is firm and always open to listening, but Telltale has made her into a vicious would-be despot. Her scene happens early in the episode and jarred me out of the experience; she just didn't fit, her behavior so off it was harder for me to find my emotional footing for the rest of the episode.
As Telltale's Game of Thrones passes its halfway mark, it takes a bit of a dip, staging a set of scenes that feel less like something you can control and more like something you can only passively watch. There's no real sense of agency in the choices you are offered, other than spinning a conversation in a certain direction before coming full circle to a pre-determined outcome. Sons of Winter feels like more set dressing, but what happens in its last two minutes is strong enough a taster to make you hunger for Episode Five. It's a bit disappointing that the rest of the episode doesn't quite hit the dramatic bar Telltale has already set for itself.
Let me elaborate on that statement a bit: I adore the mobile version of Puzzle & Dragons, and have made it a part of my daily gaming routine for a very long time. The prospect of a version devoid of free-to-play trappings such as limited stamina for adventuring, or the premium-monster Rare Egg Machine is naturally exciting. Developers often make substantial changes in game design when making a free-to-play version of a popular game, often to the game’s detriment; features once seen as a given are now treated as pricey premiums. On the 3DS, P&D Z and P&D Mario represent quite the opposite: they remove some of the features of the free-to-play game, leaving experiences that, while still quite fun, don’t quite live up to the ever-changing and growing mobile version.
Puzzle & Dragons, for the unfamiliar, is an exceptionally clever mix of match-three puzzling, a collectible card game, and role-playing. You assemble a team of five monsters, complete with a “leader,” from the horde of dragons, demons, gods, and superhumans you’ve collected, and then venture into dungeons consisting of sets of enemy encounters. You engage in combat on a 6X5 puzzle board: match three orbs of a particular color, and your monsters of that color attack foes. Unlike in a lot of similar games, you can move a single orb around the whole board for a short time, using it to shift many other orbs and create multiple matches, and thus yield more attacks and attack boosts for your team. Enemies, naturally, hit back when their turns arrive, which is when you focus on matching the healing orbs on the board. With practice, you’re launching multiple combos and healing each turn with ease.
It’s not just puzzle prowess that makes P&D appealing, however: every monster type in the game is unique, with its own statistics, color attributes, and perhaps most importantly, special skills. Leader monsters can employ a passive, always-on leader skill, like increasing the health points of your monsters of the same color, or giving an attack multiplier after a certain number of combos. Active skills are single-use abilities each monster has that you must choose to trigger, with effects like changing one orb type into another, or healing a bit of team health. Awakened skills--seen here only with Mario P&D--are extra, passive skills that can be applied to certain monsters by special means. Weighing considerations like monster types, stats, and skills is crucial to success when building teams. With the right materials earned from dungeon romps, monsters can also evolve and transform. It’s this feeling of building and growing a killer squad, along with flaunting your puzzle skills, that makes P&D so tremendously fun and satisfying.
While both Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Mario are built on this formula, the two games take very different approaches to presentation. P&D Mario is a full reskin with the Super Mario theme, replacing the fierce gods and towering dragons of mobile P&D with Mario, Luigi, Toad, and a bunch of familiar baddies. P&D Z is also quite different from the mobile game, but in its own way: while it features some of the familiar mobile P&D monsters, it’s a more kid-friendly, story-driven adventure in which you fight an evil organization that controls the legendary Skydragons and is trying to reshape the world. From a strictly cosmetic standpoint, P&D Z is considerably more appealing: P&D Mario reuses New Super Mario Bros. music and visual assets frequently. Evolving a tiny dragon baby into a huge, hulking god-lizard is leagues more appealing than changing a Blooper into “a Blooper, but now with a baby Blooper!”
But there are more than just cosmetic differences between the two. Let’s start with P&D Z: it’s a fairly old game, having first released in Japan in late 2013, and simplifies the mobile game as it existed at that time, with all single-color-attribute monsters and no awakened skills. It also implements a significant change to the active skill system; instead of monsters each waiting a set number of turns before their skills can be triggered, there’s a pool of skill points that can be utilized at any time by any monster, as long as you’ve got enough points to use a particular skill. P&D Mario feels a lot closer to modern mobile P&D, with things like multi-attribute monsters, skill-up boosts, and awakened skills, along with a more traditional turn-based active skill system.
The key difference between both of these games and mobile P&D, however, is the removal of anything associated with the in-app purchases that fuel the mobile version’s money machine. Mobile P&D employs a free-to-play standard stamina meter than limits your play time (unless you either wait or pay), but you won’t find that here. Your squad gains experience with dungeons in P&D Z and P&D Mario, unlike the mobile game, in which experience is strictly sacrifice-based. (This is an adjustment I really wish would be implemented in the mobile version.) Wiping out in a dungeon doesn’t mean you lose everything you’ve earned: whereas you need to continue (and possible pay) in the mobile game to keep the loot you’ve earned to that point, the drops you acquire in P&D Z and P&D Mario stick with you whether you decide to bail, or use your one-up stash to keep pressing on.
This all sounds pretty great so far, so why don’t these games click in the way the mobile version does? For starters, there’s the odd difficulty curve. I understand that these games must be sold to people who may not have played P&D on mobile before, but being an experienced orb-slinger, I was terribly bored during the first few worlds of each game, wiping out enemy teams with relative ease. There’s no option to skip all the tutorials and introductory dialogue, either, meaning that no matter which game you choose to play first, you’ll be hearing a lot of the same advice to get you started. It isn’t until about the halfway point in each game that things start to get considerably more challenging, and sometimes in weirdly unfair ways. For instance, you may encounter a no-healing-orbs dungeon at a point where you’re not likely to have team members who have a “change an orb type to healing” active skill.
Another major issue is the grind. In mobile P&D, you have sets of dungeons that are centered around earning materials needed to upgrade your monsters, and they rotate on a consistent schedule. If there’s something you know you need, you set time and stamina aside on a specific day of the week to do a few dungeon runs for the drops you require (which you’re very likely to get). Both P&D Z and P&D Mario lack these, meaning that items (chips in P&D Z; coins and medals in P&D Mario) to upgrade monsters all must be be earned from regular dungeon runs, many of which don’t have great drop rates. This leads to a lot of repetition, forcing you to run dungeons where you know a certain monster could appear, usually with disappointment as an end result. A “pay in-game currency for random items” option appears about halfway through both games, but getting what you want from those is even more of a crapshoot.
But perhaps the biggest issue, an unavoidable part of being a prepackaged product, is that the games are woefully static. There are no fun little surprises when you boot the game up, like daily giveaways, new monster and dungeon additions, and limited-time bonuses and areas like in the mobile game. While it’s easy to cynically see these mobile P&D features as a means to get more money from players as they spend it on extra stamina and Rare Egg Machine rolls, the fact of the matter is that they make the game more interesting and exciting from one day to the next. When you’re done with P&D Z and Mario, when you’ve cleared all the current levels and collected every last type of Paragoomba and Cheep-Cheep, that’s all there is to it. But perhaps that’s intentional--have no doubt that developer GungHo hopes some players move on to the ever-evolving mobile game when they feel they’ve seen everything these two games have to offer.
That’s what I mean when I say that this game wasn’t made for me. It’s a watered-down stepping stone, intended to introduce players to Puzzle & Dragons with a familiar face and none of those intimidating in-app purchases. It’s clear, however, that P&D’s design was built on a free-to-play base, and taking those elements out actually makes the game feel less substantial as a result. (Yes, much as we loathe to admit it, it’s exciting to spend some premium-currency magic stones for a random rare monster from time to time, just as it’s fun to open a pack of trading cards or a blind-boxed figure.) While you can still have a good deal of fun with this two-in-one package, the mobile game is the better option. P&D Z and P&D Mario make nice little appetizers, but ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to feast on the main course afterwards.
In the game's favor, it's a great idea for a mascot-style platformer. On the subatomic level, a particle zoo--a real term used to describe the atomic building blocks of our universe--is used literally here as a bright, colorful cartoon zoo housing quarks, gluons, and the like. One day, security breaks down, Jurassic Park-style, and the zoo's inhabitants get loose. Unable to deal with the sudden chaos, the zoo's director calls in an agent with a particular set of skills: Schrodinger's Cat. You might remember him from such popular quantum states as “being alive and dead at the same time.”Particle cat, particle cat....
The particular set of skills the Cat has turns out to be collecting and manipulating quarks to create completely new tools to traverse the environment. The science is rather cleverly on point here. There are four different types of quarks running around: Up, Down, Construction, and Destruction; each type is assigned to a shoulder button. Pressing them in combinations of three creates a different effect, just like they create protons in reality. Three Ups create a tiny helicopter. Three Downs create a drill that breaks through floors. Three Constructions create a giant bubble shield; three Destructions create a fragile platform to stand on. The 12 possible combinations are mostly left to the player to discover. It's a fun bit of trial and error to find all the different options, which are wisely shown in a little reference guide when you pause the game. A few too many are different permutations of “this helps you go up,” but when you start running out of components, the options for a creative alternative are nice.
It's an imaginative mechanic that feels like it belongs on a current gen system. The problem is that the rest of the game is absolutely committed to being a 90s mascot platformer in every other respect, complete with the Cat himself being given obnoxious, oft-repeated catchphrases, like “Scienceariffic!” and yelling “Holy Higgs!” when he dies. Schrodinger's Cat is, ultimately, the more ThinkGeek-y cousin of Bubsy The Cat, to the point where I bet a friend that “What could possibly go wrong?” was coming. The references to famous physicists and physics terms start off as cute, but they quickly become ubiquitous, obvious, and awkwardly shoehorned into the narrative. Non-player characters serve the same function, offering hints and clues to the next objective but burying those hints neck deep in references to the Higgs Boson and combinant theory at every turn. The script is less concerned with showing and playing with the physics concepts (in the way that Psychonauts utilized psychology) and more concerned with showing off the fact that yes, the designers clearly went to college. It's exclusionary nerdery at its worst.Secret trophy: Decipher this sentence without running to Google.
Even as a game, however, it is trying to serve two masters at once. Two types of levels are seen here. The best are pre-planned puzzle levels with a limited number of quarks to use, quark-stealing gluons scattered about, and the need to do some tricky platforming. Faint glimmers of greatness occur here--if you run out of the type of quark you need for the easy solution, you have to think creatively to use the quarks you do have. You have plenty of ways to get vertical in a level, but having the ability to explode a wall in just the right way to proceed and saving enough quarks to do so is a different story. The worst levels, on the other hand, are procedurally generated, awkwardly designed obstacle courses that rely far too much placing nondescript destructible walls in your way rather than creating a surmountable challenge.
Both types suffer from a severe lack of variety in environments and enemies for a platformer, and seeing the subatomic world undulating in the background doesn't cut it. It doesn't take long for the game to show you virtually everything it has to offer. The actual mechanics of running, jumping, crawling, and clawing are just fine, but the mad genius platformer where you get to test any of those skills is missing. All we get in return is a gimmick in which you can create a special net out of your available quarks to cart the ones you knock unconscious away, making the job of the zoo's staff a lot easier. It's neat the first hundred times, but it’s not nearly enough. You have to do way too much of it to feel a sense of accomplishment; you also have to do it while walking in the irksome paws of a sentient episode of The Big Bang Theory. The game turns a fresh, fascinating new mechanic using particle physics as a creative springboard into the most staid, stale platformer imaginable. If the goal was to create a game that's both alive and dead at the same time--mission accomplished.