Mass Effect: Survivors (Cover)

The cover art for the newest story.


Mass Effect: Survivors (Cover)

The cover art for the newest story.

“Hello?” you ask, the light still blinding. You realize you’re lying on sand. It’s not hot, it’s not cold. You’re naked, and as your eyes adjust a little you realize you’re by yourself.

“Hello?!” you scream out, looking about at dunes of sand. “FOR GODSAKE SOMEONE!?”

There’s not even a breeze, it’s just piles of sand. You are about ready to just lay down and let go when you see another blinding flash, this time from across the dunes.

You struggle and start walking towards it, an arm up to protect your eyes.

As you get nearer, you can see something in the distance. It’s black against the white. It’s a person, you think. As you try to get closer, suddenly you feel pain shoot up through your leg. You look down, and see two spear like pieces of rock sticking through.


And then, suddenly you’re back on the Sprawl.


Radikov is off his feet, his nose broken and he’s sprawled in a corner, gasping for air. You’ve got screeching pain going from your foot, and you look down to see a Unitology-engraved knife sticking out, wedged in a weak spot.

“…you gonna take that out or what?” Norton asks, her voice seems off edge.

She’s got her plasma cutter trained on Radikov’s head, ready to split it open like an egg. He doesn’t look so clean cut and keen now.

“I gotta hand it to you Vandal – you found someone more fucked in the head than you. That takes a special amount of luck…” Radikov sputters, wiping the blood off his lips.

“Give me one more reason to shoot you Tyler, I dare you. You made me unleash these things on the Sprawl, you made me open up the public sector, so what’s one more excuse to hate you?” Norton says, inching closer, her finger hovering just in front of the trigger.

“Alright. Shoot me and the transport I’ve got setup is rigged to blow. My RIG needs to stay online and O-K for the ship to launch properly. My boss will be here any minute, so if you don’t want him to puncture your skulls in, I’d suggest getting the hell away from me and maybe he’ll consider letting you at least have a few med packs for before you die from the impending explosion,” Tyler Radikov says.

“What impending explosion?” you ask. “The ship’s?-”

“A certain fellow is going to cause a Convergence event. As much as I’d like to be present to see the souls ascend, the Convergence event also cleanses anything nearby. We need to be out of here before Mr. Clarke undoes the Director’s foolish attempts at stopping Ascension,” Tyler.

“So I stopped the core overload for nothing. That’s just great…” Norton says. “I’ve got an idea. And you better do what I say, Tyler. I’ve seen how those things make people ‘ascend’. I know how to make sure you -never- get to, how does that sound?” Tyler glares at her, slowly rising.

Norton grabs him by the arm, and rips open his wrist piece to the RIG. She pulls out a wire and plugs it into your suit. The rest of the RIG link syncs in, and you can see where 4-2795 is.

“Great, now I’ve got the ship’s location and I can see a route that will take is past 4-2795. By the time he figures out we have Radikov we’ll be off the station,” you say.

You make sure 4-2795 won’t know by disabling Tyler’s personal communicator. Then you rip out the wire and activate the RIG link.

“You’ll never stop us. You both know that. Ascension is the future of humanity! It’s our destiny!” Tyler starts to yell as Norton pushes Tyler with a gun to his back.

You take point, a line gun in hand.

“You’re really lucky I’m out of stasis right now Tyler, or I’d freeze your mouth shut and just drag you to the shuttle,” you say, watching carefully for any signs of more threats.

“Is that so?” Tyler asks.

“Norton would probably just cut your tongue out. She’s got a plasma saw, it has a precision mode,” you say, and you grin to yourself when Tyler falls silent after that.

You start hearing a clanking noise in the vent above.

“Move!” you yell, shoving them forward as you keep your gun trained on the vent.

It’s silent for a minute, then the air filters start running again. As you breath a sigh of relief, one of those things rips itself out of a wall fan. It’s got both of its legs fused together, like a whip. You shoot at the whip, but it just takes the shot. You then fire the next shot into the arms and head, and they slice off clean.

The freak just continues growling and jumps at you blindly. You roll out of the way and it slams into a wall. It gurgles, unbalanced with only one arm left. You fire a timed-charge and run after Norton and Tyler.

As you approach them, Norton’s already raising a hand as you see that Tyler’s rig is at yellow now.

“There was another one of those things following us. I cut it off but it gave him a stab in the leg. At least now he can’t just run off,” Norton said.

“Ever the optimist I see…” you say. “We’re just a quick run from the ship, lets get moving.”


As you approach the launch bay, Norton pushes Tyler towards the ship.

“Where’s the explosive, Tyler-” Norton begins to say as 4-2795 exits the ship, his rifle shouldered. Walt is right behind him, a seeker rifle loaded and ready.

“Get to cover now!” you yell, ducking just as 4-2795 opens fire.

Tyler runs past, heading towards the ship. 4-2795 keeps fire focused on you and Norton, Walt occasionally chiming in with a shot from his seeker rifle.

“Tyler you better be fucking worth it! These two are becoming a serious pain in my ass!” 4-2795 says, firing of a grenade shot from his rifle. “We’re not leaving until I know they’re dead…”

“Norton!” you say, muting your stereo speakers.

“I’m all ears if you have a plan,” Norton replies quickly.

“Throw some ripper blades at them, I’ll try and pick off 4-2795’s head! Watch out for the seeker rifle’s targeting beam!” you yell.

As Norton reloads her ripper and begins to fire the blades off without the gravity lock, you roll and start opening fire with your rifle.

4-2795 gets behind a cargo canister and sends another grenade your way. Walt nearly picks off your head but you move out of the way just in time.

You crouch down and huddle past some explosive canisters. You pause for a minute, looking at them. The idea forms in your mind, and you pray that idiot Tyler isn’t anywhere near 4-2795.

“Norton, I’m going to throw a fuel tank their way, is Tyler anywhere near them?” you ask over the comm.

“Not that I can see!” Norton yells, guns firing off in the background.

“Alright, then keep your head down!” you say, activating your telekinesis module.

The canister slowly raises – it’s wobbling because you never took the damn time to learn how to use the module. Well, no time like the present to learn, aye?

You slowly rise up, making sure they haven’t moved. Walt’s targeting beam suddenly glows on your helmet.

“NOTHING PERSONAL!” you yell, firing it off straight at him.

Walt screams as he’s burnt to cinders, and 4-2795 is sent flying – and not in one piece. You can hear him cursing and in pain as he lands on his back on a large crate.

You rise up, and you can see Norton’s already at the ship’s doorway.

“I think Tyler’s inside… be quiet…” Norton says, stepping forward slowly.

She barely makes a noise, like a cat. At the first noise, she raises her gun. Then she curses and relaxes her grip a little.

“It’s clear – he must have run off. Probably heading to the nearest emergency escape pod bay. I’ll see if I can find the explosives he’s got rigged to the ship,” Norton says, taking off her helmet and wiping the sweat from her face before putting it back on.

“I’ll check and make sure this bird will fly,” you say, heading to the cockpit.

As you slide into the pilot seat, you access the flight manifest. The navigational charts are preset, you won’t even have to pilot the ship. It looks like it’ll be headed to some spot in the Hades Gamma Cluster. A refueling station.

You see a bleep on the emergency comm notifier. You activate it, and a life feed comes in from government sector. The quarantine seals… are broken? Some catastrophic failure of the power system – RIGs are going offline left and right.

“Norton, we need to get moving now, bomb or not I think that ‘Convergence’ thing is going to happen soon! I just got a feed from-” you say, rising from your seat as you realize who’s walking up behind you.

“I really am starting to hate you,” 4-2795 says, firing Walt’s seeker rifle at you. Two shots pierce your shoulder, the first one is stopped by armor, the second breaks muscle tendons and bones.

You slam into the seat, and fall to the floor, pain almost blinding. 4-2795 shoves your head so your looking at him. He’s only got one arm left, but he doesn’t need the other for a point blank shot.

“I don’t know who you are, but you are a real fucking pain in my-” a javelin suddenly goes through his mouth, and he falls over, gagging.

“Shit, these Markerheads are as bad as the things their Markers make…” Norton says, dropping the javelin gun. “Are you okay?”

“Fuck no… I think he just ruined my left arm,” you say. “The ship’s set to auto-pilot, so we’re good to go…” You grit your teeth as another wave of pain goes across your body. When it makes you twitch, the pain gets worse.

“I’ll get you a med pack. Just, try to sit back and relax. We’re done with this damn station…” Norton says, activating the ship’s launch cycle.

She runs off, heading to the lower deck. As she does, you see movement from the shadows. For a second, you think its one of those monsters… but then you see it’s something worse..

“Shh…” Tyler says, a pistol in his hand. “I just need to get to the station, then I’ll be outta your hair. This will be our little secret…”

You’re too weak to speak as he slips into a storage compartment. Norton comes back up and leaves her ripper by the compartment door, pulling out a med pack.

“Alright, time to be done with this shit…”

Radikov to base. I’m en route, comin’ home. Sabotage execution is complete.

“Who-who-” she groans, taking your hand after a moment’s hesitation.

“We need to get you to the tram. 4-27′, do you read me? That engineer just came out of the core, but she’s hurt. I don’t have enough medical packs for this,” you say into the comm. You are replied with static.

“4-27′, do you copy? 4-2795, respond!” you yell, watching about nervously as the shadows seem to grow larger.

“Do you have magnetized armor? I got down here from way up there,” Norton says, pointing up to the seemingly endless tube above.

“Yeah but I just came down from the upper levels, it’s going to hell up there. Do you know if there’s a transport-”

Radikov, report!” you hear someone say over the comm channels. It’s got encryption on it, but somehow it’s coming through with only some distortion. You begin looking at the pieces of data you’re getting, maybe it’s another group of soldiers-

Relax boss, I’m on the move and sabatoge is complete. You lose the suits?” you hear someone reply. Well, now you know who caused this fucking mess.

I’d prefer we get out of here in one piece, Radikov. Have you got a transport setup?” the first voice ask.

Vandal’s good as dead, the Director sent her on a suicide-” Radikov begins to say.

I am afraid you’re wrong in that respect, Radikov. I just had to leave another man behind because they found Vandal alive! It’s just me and one other soldier now. I’m going to set the cargo tram we’re on to overload once we reach the coordinates I gave you. If those two idiots manage to survive that, then just shoot on sight,” you drop your gun as you hear this. 4-2795

“What is it?” Norton asks, grabbing your rifle off the floor.

“We are fucked that’s what. We’re on our own, period, and someone named Radikov apparently wants to kill you really badly. And I think the squad leader I came down here with is working with him!” you say, taking the rifle as she hands it to you.

“Well you made it this far, and so have I. I’ve got a plasma cutter, a ripper, a line gun, heck even a core extractor. We-ugh,” she grabs at her ribs as she leans against a railing. “We can get out of this, we just have to be faster than them. I take it they’re making a run for it?”

“Yeah, they said about a transport…. wait, if it was my squad leader then I might still be able to use my RIG locator!” you say, activating it hastily. “Oh hell yes! Alright, saving it now.”

As it reaches 85%, the data link cuts out. Looks like 4-2795 is paying attention.

“Okay, I’ve got most of it. Hand me a plasma cutter clip, I should have a standard issue one in my RIG pack,” you say, turning to Norton.

Norton straps her helmet back on and her RIG syncs to yours.

“Lets show those Markerheads what they get for screwing with us.”
As you rush down the innards of the Sprawl, you keep one hand steadily tracking the locator’s path, twisting and turning at more points than you’d like. At least you can use your hand out to balance the plasma cutter. Your rifle’s ready in case you need it, but for some reason you feel safer with the cutter.

“So, Norton, what’s with the Vandal bit?” you ask as you start heading down a long hall.

“It’s a codename. The Unitologists sent me a mission, gave me a voice modifier in this helmet, and fooled me into help cause this whole fucking mess. I was supposed to be trying to fix things by helping the Director but one of the Unitologists tricked me twice. Tyler, he’s probably that Radikov you said was talking to your squad leader 4-27′. The bastard got me to open up the public sector to those monsters. I’ve killed more of them today than you’d believe…” Norton said, her voice distorted but still understandable.

“What about you?” she asks, “What’s your story?”

“I was just in the public sector before all this started. I’m usually a guard at the Concourse. 4-2795 got me stuck with his group and my day’s been going to shit from there on,” you say.

“Well maybe we’ve finally hit rock bottom then. No where but up?” Norton said.

“I wouldn’t say that-” you start to say. Then there’s a crashing noise. It’s far away, but it’s loud. “Norton, how big do these things get?”

“As big as they can – you saw that thing in the core. There are mobile ones that aren’t much smaller. We need to get going if that’s what I think it was,” Norton says.

Even as you move faster, you can hear every now and then another crashing noise. The metal shakes a little now, with every crash, and you swear that smell from before is coming back stronger than ever.

As you near a docking bay, suddenly the crash comes from the level above.

“How much farther are we from their coordinates?” Norton asks as she gets her ripper out.

“We’ve got roughly five to three hundred meters. Hand me that line gun!” you say, grabbing as she tosses it. “This better work…”

You switch to the timed-charge mode and fire off three charges, sticking them on the floor behind you.

They explode as exit into the docking bay, and you turn just in time to see something huge fall down to the next floor, it’s giant mouth screaming so loud you can barely think.

“That’s only going to make it angrier!” Norton yells as the floor behind you begins to try to burst out beneath you.

“How is it moving so fast down there?” you ask as you pass empty launch pads.

“It’s not alone!” Norton replies.

As you jump over the a crate, suddenly little screaming beasts spew out of the floor’s holes, trying to grab onto you with razor sharp teeth.

“Get in front!” Norton yells, shoving you ahead as she fires off a blade.

She keeps it whirling behind her as you both near the exit.

“Hazardous contamination in the area. Docking bay locking down…” the overhead AI begins to drone.

You burst through closing doorway, and turn to see Norton right behind. There’s more of them now, not just tiny ones. There’s bodies, dead bodies, and they’re as twisted up as something out of a slasher flick.

“Come on!” you yell to Norton.

She slides through, releasing the gravity lock on the blade and sending it flying into the beasts. She’s barely keeping a breath.

“That lock isn’t going to hold them,” Norton begins muttering to herself, backing away quickly.

“We’re almost there. Should just be around this bend-” you say, following the RIG link.

As you turn, you can see a man at a doorway. He’s got a gun in his hand and his other hand is on a control panel.

“Give my regards to Vandal,” Radikov says, pulling the trigger.

Everything goes white after that, you can hear a crashing noise and Norton yelling… but then nothing…

Denial of Self: Extraction

February 20, 2012

You can see the crashed part of the lift now. The body from before left a bunch of blood, but there’s no sign of the corpse itself. Looks like something heavy crashed down on the lift’s carriage, and you’d rather not think about if someone was inside when whatever it was hit.

“Shit… what the hell did that?” a soldier asks, pointing his gun at the carriage to get some better light on it.

“Stay focused, we need to cut through Food Processing to get to the core,” 4-2795 says, releasing his magnetic lock to the wall of the shaft.

You use your jets to follow as he jumps into Food Processing, then make way for the nearest soldier to enter. The silence is aggravating, the only noise the sound of metal boots hitting the floor and a low hum from built-in computer systems.

The lights flicker every now and then as you all plod down the halls, trying to ignore bloodstains on the walls. The bodies are mostly gone, which you thank God for. The smell is still there, though. The smell is everywhere – even with your helmet seals on you’d probably still be able to smell a smidge of it.

When there’s a crashing noise from around the corner, everyone’s guns are up before you blink.

“You two, take point and make sure the coast is clear,” 4-2795 orders, checking the clip in his rifle as he does so.

They both nod, one crouching behind the corner. He points his rifle around the corner and glances, then gestures for the other to move ahead. The other starts making his way down the hall, rifle not even flinching.

Then the claws break out of the vent and stab him through the head and chest, his gun firing off wildly as he tries to respond before the claws twist his body round, making him go limp.

The rest of them open fire, but have to duck when the claws begin to drag the soldier’s corpse into the vent. The rifle’s still firing, and it fires shots your way.

As the claws and corpse vanish down the vents, the nearest soldier moves up and opens fire after it. 4-2795 quickly grabs him, keeping a good distance between the vent and the both of them.

“Pull yourself together!” he yells at the soldier.

“What the hell was that?” you yell in response.

“We don’t know. Something that got in via medical. All we know is that the damn things don’t die easy. If you see another, aim for the limbs. Especially the arms. We need to keep moving before more of them get here,” 4-2795 says, pushing further down the hall.

Even as you all follow, you can smell the tension amongst your allies. Whatever the hell it was that was on the Sprawl, it wasn’t human. And you’re all in the middle of it, with no support.

You turn to the nearest soldier and start a private comm “How many people actually made it out of medical?”

He’s silent for the time being, then responds quietly “You don’t want to know.”

As 4-2795 rounds another bend, you hear a squishing beneath your feet. You look down, and there’s flesh sprawling across the floor. Then you notice it’s half-way up the walls.

“Looks like the meat farms are overgrowing. Probably got a power spike when the government sector went into lockdown,” 4-2795 says quickly, a little too quickly. “We’ll need to reach a tram that heads over to the reactor core, should be just through this meat farm bank. Everyone keep close.”

The squishing is worse than the clanking, and that smell is getting worse. 4-2795 just keeps looking straight ahead, gun ready, like he’s gleefully unaware that you’re all stepping through pounds of flesh. If you had just ignored him when you met you could be off station by now, probably in an evac shuttle.

“I’m picking up movement sir,” a soldier half-whispers over the comm.

“Lets keep up the pace then,” 4-2795 responds, not even flinching.

“I’m getting multiple readings now sir,” the soldier says, a little panic in his voice.

“We’re nearly to the access route, keep it together!” 4-2795 says. He then stops, the flashlight on his gun highlighting a doorway. “Walt, get this open.”

As the soldier walks up, leaning his weapon against the wall, he begins accessing the command terminal. The lights begin to flicker.

“Sir, I’m getting more readings-”

“Everyone form a perimeter, weapons ready,” 4-2795 orders, keeping his eye on the hacking soldier.

“Almost got it sir,” Walt reports. “If I got a dollar for every door I’ve had to hack today…”

“Movement is getting closer but I’m not seeing anything,” the other soldier reports, glancing about in confusion.

“Alright, door’s unlocked. Lets get-”

That’s when one of the soldiers yells out. He’s got arms wrapped around his leg, pulling him down. Two of the soldiers open fire, but the first one gets whipped about so much that they hit him instead. His helmet goes flying off as the arms pull him off into the dark, the last thing visible is a hand, stretched out.

4-2795 is already through the door and you run for it, and you nearly fall over when an arm stretches out for you. A hasty shot you and you severe it, ducking as 4-2795 and Walt open fire. The other soldiers are trying to fight it off, but one’s even got the arms wrapping around his neck, the just keep growing in lengthy.

The last remaining one runs for the door but 4-2795 slams it shut in his face.

“Let him out-” you then see a spike pierce through the door as the soldier screams.

“He was already dead,” 4-2795 says, reloading his gun.

As Walt opens the next door, you can see the tram on the other side. It’s strewn with bodies.

“I don’t like the looks of this…” you can see some of the bodies aren’t right. They look… rebuilt. It’s like someone had grabbed them and torn their limbs every which way then tried to put them back together.

“Whether you like it or not is beyond my concern, the core is going to go off any minute and I doubt whoever sent that RIG log made it by now-” he begins to say as a loud screeching growl echos through the tram tube.

“Walt get us moving!” 4-2795 orders, pointing in one direction in the tube.

“On it sir,” and the tram starts, speeding faster than you know it’s supposed to.

Another loud growl goes off, this one angrier.

“Do you think it’s the engineer from before?” you ask as you and 4-2975 move to the one edge of the tram.

“Don’t know, but if it is then he’s picked one big bastard to pick a fight with. I haven’t heard anything sound like that before-” another growl goes, and an explosion.

“Walt, how much longer till we reach the juncture?” he asks.

“Not too much longer sir, half a minute at most,” Walt says, slowing down the tram.

As you reach the juncture, 4-2795 practically flies to the door. As he enters an access code, you and Walt run down a catwalk, signs leading to the core. As you enter the main chamber, you can see not too far off someone in an engineer RIG fighting off a huge… hell you don’t know what to call it. It’s big, ugly, and got more puss coming out of holes than you’ve ever seen.

Suddenly an arm from the ceiling comes down, crushing the huge thing. The engineer whips out a plasma cutter and opens fire on its head, blowing up part of it in the process.

The thing tries to clamp its jaws around the engineer but he jumps back.

“Come on you bastard! I can do this all day!” the engineer yells. There’s something off about his voice, it doesn’t seem right.

“Hey!” Walt begins to say when an arm stretches out of the jaws of the beast, grabbing the engineer around the waist.

“Fuck! Shoot the thing!” 4-2795 orders, opening fire on the beast’s eye.

It retreats down into the core, the engineer’s helmet flying off.

“…shit, at least he killed that thing. That’s got to have been what was overheating the core,” Walt says, opening up his helmet to spit. “Now what sir?”

“We should probably try and get in touch with command. They might still be able to pick us up if we hurry,” 4-2795 says.

They head back to the tram while you stay there for a minute, just looking at the giant abyss leading to the core. As you start to turn around, you can hear some coughing and a yelp.

You turn and can see the engineer. It’s a woman, she’s torn up a bit but somehow she just pulled herself out of there. You start looking for a way to reach from the catwalk, you’ve got a spare med kit and she just saved all your asses.

“Director Tiedmann, this is Vandal. It’s done… I stablized the reactor. But I’m hurt. Pretty bad. Director? Anyone? Please? Please.. My name… my name is Karrie. Karrie Norton. Can anybody hear me?” she starts transmitting into the RIG.

You manage to slide down, landing on a broken computer terminal. You can hear the chips crunch beneath you as you land.

“RIG 438642 I presume?” you say, holding out a hand as you near her.


Reposted from ModDB Blog

Stealth Bastard Review

February 13, 2012

Original website:

Stealth Bastard. It is very appropriately named. It is both bastardly hard at times and revolves a good bit around stealth. It’s four mini-campaigns it starts you out with teach you the basics, introduce new concepts every campaign, and have varying level of challenge. I’ve got to be honest though, the most difficult campaigns are 2 and 3, rather than 4 and 5. Conviently, the game lets you skip up to 3 levels without playing a level, and will give you another ability to skip within each campaign with every successful mission. The gameplay itself jumps between masochistic platforming and ocassionaly stealth-centric moments (I say occasionally because really almost everything is twitch-based platforming). There’s some vague allusions to something akin to the basic premise for Portal’s story, but even then the story just doesn’t really maintain itself. That doesn’t necessarily hold the game back, but it makes the few weak attempts feel more like a frustrating reminder that we’re supposedly here for some reason that the developer left out. When the game isn’t pointing to its few faults, the game is really good at platforming. In the place of wall running, the game has a cliff-hanging platforming element that I wish more 2D games had (grabbing edges works in 3D, why not 2D?). In the recent few years I’ve played a good number of free 2D platformers, and I’ve got to say that Stealth Bastard is worth a download. It’s not exactly going to beat out the Great Gatsby “NES” platformer ( ), but it’s clearly got promise. The 663 (as of this writing) free additional levels made by fans of the game certainly means you won’t run out of content in this addictively masochistic platformer.

Nitpick moment Honestly the most questionable element included in the game has to be the Seeker enemy type. It’s hamfisted in at the last minute and just feels like an excuse to not reuse other elements in a differing way. It’s gameplay useage in downloadable levels may be more innovative, but in the main campaigns it feels unnecessary attempt at avoiding just making 3 scripted enemy paths.

Why You Should Play: Platforming is polished, Puzzles are (for the most part) Intelligent, and Graphics are Well Done. Very rewarding missions in campaigns 4-5.
Why You Shouldn’t: Stealth isn’t as much a focus as it could be, missions in campaigns 2 and 3 can vary in difficulty a bit too much, vague attempts at story telling are laughable at best.

Today, is a good day for people like me who play demos almost as often as they play full games. The Syndicate co-op demo is here, and rather than like most demos that just blink at you annoyedly when you say “Wait, I was just finally starting to get into it!”, Syndicate’s demo seems to actually let you try the game something. If only there were a term for trial software that lets you try it before you buy it… it’ll come to me eventually…

The gameplay of Syndicate is slick, intelligent, and is very obliged to let people actually work as a team. My only major gripe is that there actually aren’t a whole lot of enemies. I can quick-scope 5 guys on a rooftop and then there’ll be no more in sight. That plus the mission is highly linear. Not to say it’s badly designed, but unlike say L4D that at least gives you the illusion of choice, Syndicate only lets you make a few choices and most of them are just how to approach killing the small platoon of soldiers you tear through. There’s the option to up-difficulty if you’re feeling lucky, but all it seems to do is turn down the aim assist, increase the damage you take and give minor bosses even more layers of armor to hack through. I will also have to ask: Why does Syndicate include pistols when no enemy drops them and they have no seemingly worth-while value? You can carry two rifles at a time (big shocker I know), but you can only start out with one and your choice of 3 generally pointless pistols. They can try to make the pistols sound fancy all they want, more people are going to be using the rapid-fire sniper rifle (including me!) rather than a techno-looking six shooter. Still, I can look past all these faults because the game itself plays brilliant. If the singleplayer plays this well, then I see Syndicate being a very strong contender in the future shooter market.

Now for Tim Burton’s dream game, Scary Girl. Upon hearing the Escapist’s review, I was intrigued enough to try the demo. Needless to say, it may be one of the best examples of good game design, period. It has well designed brawling mechanics, some of the best art direction and sound design I’ve ever seen/heard, and the platforming handles like a dream (this is coming from someone who sucks at both Super Mario Bros. Wii and Littlebig Planet). Also, once again it is an example of a very well made… something that lets you try something before you buy it (still am trying to come up with a word, I’m amazed no one thought of this concept before… maybe Nit will have an idea). It lets you try sections out of each game’s world, gives you just enough in-game currency (if you gather it) to buy one of the upgrades for your hook, and lets you see several highlights. This isn’t to say it shows you everything, but the demo did take me roughly 40-60 minutes to complete (I can’t even say the Syndicate’s multiplayer mission takes that long to complete). If I wasn’t trying to save money right now, I would have bought it. Try the demo if you don’t believe me, it’s on both XBLA and PSN.

Gotham City Imposters is not exactly what I expected, in the good way. While when I saw the very first glimpses of the game I was curious, further along it just disinterested me more and more. Then I downloaded the beta, expecting either something interesting or so horrendous I’d be deleting it moment after starting to play it. And dare I say, this thing is probably worth more money to you in the long run than the Robin and Nightwing DLC (as Gotham City Imposters is generally meant for Batman gaming fans, so chances are you already have or are in the process of getting Arkham City). The humor can be either entertaining or boring, but the attention to detail is astounding. The menu layouts, the backgrounds, the ads and billboards, the weapon balancing, the multiple unique platforming mechanics that all somehow work perfectly within the context of numerous levels. That said, the level design is also well plotted out, and the game ACTUALLY COMPENSATES FOR SPAWN KILLING! If someone’s at your one spawn, you spawn somewhere else, and in one mode of play the game will even swap the spawn points so that if your enemies are somehow abusing a strategy to their gain, you can kick their asses right back.

Also I feel it should be stated that all three games above have little to no gore. The “little” being headshot explosions in Syndicate (but it’s already M-rated, so you kind should be expecting that).

That’s all for now, see you later folks.

Previously Posted on ModDB:

I’m proud to officially announce Dead Space: Denial of Self. Dead Space is one of my favorite franchises, and the concept of writing a story in its universe has always had a strong appeal. Originally I was thinking of doing something with Ellie from Dead Space 2, but I’ve instead favored a new protagonist and cast of characters, even if it’s in the same setting. Also this is an ongoing story that I am writing, so that means there may be some larger gaps between postings due to the fact that I don’t have the story finished yet. I will still keep posting on a weekly/bi-weekly basis, but the story itself will not always be the subject of the posts. And without further delay:

You curse as the RIG heads up display tells you another idiot is causing trouble somewhere in the lower levels. This has been going on for days, and it’s damn well getting ridiculous. Ever since the Director started that project in government sector, things have been more out of hand than a three-year old with a loaded pistol. That’s what happens when you took half of the security force for “special duties” and didn’t hire any replacements. Hell there’d even been a few layoffs to cut the costs thanks to the damn project.

The Concourse is sprawling with people, and to them you’re nothing more than a faceless suit of armor. They’d sooner hand you their garbage than give a fuck. And the overhead lights are getting so bright that you fight to close your eyes.

You check the time, and it’s still four hours until the shift is over. The crowds seem to be getting even thicker now, a big group coming from the medical levels. While you sigh, you realize something’s off.

Most of the people coming are hurried, and they don’t look like exiting visitors. They’re doctors, nurses, and even a few security personnel. You can see the blood on one security officer. He walks up, his RIG identifying him as #4-2795. The level of armor on his suit is recognizable, even through the blood splatter. So is his broken seeker rifle; its front half torn clean off.

“What’s going on?” you ask.

“Operation Endgame is in effect,” 4-2795 responds.

You know that means something bad is happening. You’re just a Concourse guard, so you don’t get to know all the fancy secrets and inside bits – but you’ve heard of Endgame. The evacuations will be starting any second.

And like clockwork, the Director is talking on the screens. Stores begin to usher their customers out, and you can see the doors to the Medical Deck are locking down.

“What exactly is the situation back there?” you ask.

“Hell. Bloody Hell. That’s what it is. We’re heading to Residential. They should be locked out from Medical deck, and we can get the civies out in time. Once that’s done, we get our asses over to the government sector. The Director’s got everyone moving triple time,” 4-2795 responds, gesturing for you to follow his squad. He’s got three solid armored soldiers with him.

You’ve been crowd control before, but trying to get through the flood of people is almost suffocating. Like a herd of cattle, they meander and cry out in confusion. Barely any of them even seemed to hear the Director talking overhead.

Normally you’d be watching for someone getting trampled or pickpockets taking a lucky gamble, but 4-2795 wasn’t kidding. He just shoves his way through, even smacking someone across the face as he moves towards the lift to residential.

You get inside, and fight off your nerves as the lift rises upwards to residential. All that’s around you is metal walls as the lift drones its motors. You breathe in quietly, and turn to 4-2795.

“What are we walking into here?” you ask, trying to get your mind off of the walls that seem to be coming closer around you.

“Altman forbid… you’ll be seeing things that nearly made me barf in my RIG. Hopefully the emergency locks are working.” he says, taking out a pulse rifle. He rips out the remaining clip from his Seeker then stuffs it into his RIG pack.

The doors open, and the air returns to your lungs. You step out into the carpeted hall, but you don’t see any movement. The overhead lights are working, and nothing’s out of place.

“Why aren’t people moving? This district should be crazier than upstairs,” you mutter, glancing about.

You knock on a door, but you barely hear anything. You enter in an override code, and open the apartment. A hand reaches out, and you nearly pull the trigger of your rifle as you see it’s just a woman. She’s wide-eyed and pale.

“Why are you hiding. There’s a station wide alert in effect,” you say, looking at her closely.

She doesn’t even look at you, she’s still staring out the door. Then suddenly her teeth clench and she looks at you.

“They took her! They took my baby!” she screams in your face, and she runs past you.

“Do we-” one of the other guys asks.

“Let her go. If someone really stole a kid from her, then the looters are already down here and we’ve got to shoot them on sight…” 4-2795 says, stepping forward to take the lead.

Further down the halls, and you’re still seeing no sign of life. Every time you open a door, you hope you see someone, but then there’s nobody. It’s liked waiting for a bad joke to just finally finish. Except it just keeps making that bad taste in your mouth get worse.

“Call in the Government Sector. It looks like everyone’s already pulled out here – everyone who’s sane, anyway,” you say, turning to 4-2795.

“I just tried. The comm feed is apparently too packed as is. I’m beginning to think we’re in the eye of the storm…” one of 4-2795’s men says.

“Or they just got out in an orderly manner and the medical deck lockdown held. Whatever was over there, it’s stuck now. All they need to do is vent the oxygen, and this will all clear over, nice and clean,” 4-2795 says, trying to convince himself as much as you. But he knows just as well as you that people aren’t that quick thinking.

“I say we head to the next residential juncture. Staff quarters will be next. If there isn’t anybody there, then I’ve got to recommend we head back to the concourse, sir,” the soldier from a minute ago says, shouldering his rifle.

“Alright. Everyone get moving. I’ll give the all clear for this sector,” 4-2795 says, pointing down a hall for us to head down.

You start walking down the hall, but one of the soldiers keeps muttering to himself. Suddenly then alarms begin to go off.

“What the hell was that?” you ask.

“Someone just cut power to the bulkhead seals! Someone get command on the comm now!” 4-2795 yells, raising his weapon as the overhead lights turn to red. “Someone already broke down a few conduit panels in Medical. At first we thought it was the things that appeared that were causing it, just random damage from people trying to fight them off, but this is too direct.”

“What’s the plan sir?” a soldier asks warily.

“Government sector will be locking down now and those things will be coming too quick for us to cut them off at the staff quarters… Just give me a minute to think,” 4-2795 says, raising his rig map. “Someone take point, we’re officially in hot water and I’d prefer we not get into the frying pan.”

“My motion tracker’s picking movement up from upper levels. It’s not the crowds sir-” one soldier starts to say.

“I can see it on mine as well. Just let me…” 4-2795 says, pausing then turning his head slightly. He shakes his head for a moment and finally picks a path on the RIG map. “We’ll head through the mines, it’s the quickest way to Earth Gov and they’ll still be evacuating people down there. Those things are still mostly in Medical, so we should be just ahead of them. We can catch one of the last transports. Sync your RIGs people, we need to move now.”

4-2795 starts pressing forward, and you start wishing you had a motion tracker like the rest of his squad. At least you’ve got emergency Stasis, for what it’s worth.

As you reach the next lift, he hits the command panel for the lift to rise. There’s a grinding noise, and then the cables break in the center of the shaft. A body then falls, and you can hear it making a disgusting impact below.

“What the hell?” you say, daring to look up. As you do, something splats on your RIG.

As you fight to get it off, you hear the beeping of someone using the command terminal.

“Sir, what are you doing?” a soldier asks.

“I’m turning off the gravity for this sector of the district. We’ll walk up to the mining tram station. It’s only two floors up, not far,” 4-2795 says as you finally get the muck off your face.

You toss the gunk down the shaft. Your RIG automatically makes a magnetic lock on the floor, as does everyone else. 4-2795 is the first to head out into the shaft, pointing the flashlight on his gun to make sure there were no other inbound objects. As he gives you the thumbs up, you and one of the soldiers jump over to the wall opposite 4-2795.

The other two soldiers jump out and form up behind 4-2795. As you all head up, you notice some static coming over the comm.

“Is anyone else getting interference?” you ask.

“I am too. Sounds like it might be a civilian channel trying to break through the airwaves. I’m going to see if I can ping where it’s coming from…” the soldier next to you says.

“Sir, it’s from the CEC facility in the mines!”

He quickly sets his RIG speakers to play the message.

All teams, this is Kaleb, Xenogeologist from Langford Shift 1! There’s something in the facility, we’ve lost 3 of our crew and can’t contact Shift 4!”
“Here comes the transport, everybody get ready in case there’s more.”

We’re abandoning our shift and heading back up. Everyone else is ordered to do the same.”

Kaleb, it’s more of them! Shoot them! SHOOT THEM!”

“Hold it, I’ve got another coming in-”

This is Sorenson, Shift 2! Kaleb, what’s going on?! Dead bodies are chasing us! Dead bodies I recognize! It’s fucking shift 4!”

Just get out of there Sorenson, get out of there!”

But we’re trapped, they’re closing in all around, which way did you go? Which way is clear?”

Use the starboard catwalks, we cleared a path, but hurry, they’re closing in behind!”

We’ll try, wait for us!”

By that point, everyone has stopped moving. The CEC refinery is one of only two possible ways of getting into the mines. The only other way would be from government sector tram station.

“What are we supposed to do sir?” one of the soldiers asks.

4-2795 is silent, turning to look at you all.

“We’re fucked. If those things are already at the mines… then we’ve no chance of making it out. We’re out flanked and outnumbered. We barely made it out of Medical with the lockdown seals helping cover our backs. Our only luck would be if there’s a transport still docked for evacuation, and I’m doubting they’re still waiting around by this point,” he resignedly says, closing his RIG map.

“There’s gotta be something-” you start to say, then another message comes over the comm.

Audio Log, RIG number 438642. These could be my last words. The monsters are loose, I couldn’t stop them. And now the reactor core is overheating – which will destroy the entire Sprawl if I can’t fix it! So… I hope someone hears this. It means I did that much right, at least.”

“The reactor core? That’s just a few levels below. Why didn’t command give any orders-” someone starts to say.

“We’ll head there then. If the core blows now it’ll kill everyone near the station. Might as well do something useful before we’re all killed,” 4-2795 says, resetting his destination on the RIG map, then proceeding down the shaft with everyone following.

Suicide mission… now you know you shouldn’t have gotten out of bed today.

Protest SOPA and PIPA

January 18, 2012

The guys over at ModDB have a better video for explaining then what I could say on my own:

This legislation needs to be stopped, and the outcry against it must get stronger and stronger. What does it say when media producers themselves (including Mojang, EPIC Games, and Bungie) are even openly and violently against this? It says the people pushing this law have no idea what they are talking about, and are living in a fever dream. The only positive (and highly ironic) thing that’s come out of SOPA and PIPA is that political parties are finally doing something bipartisan (both those who are pro and against these new laws come from the Republican and Democrat parties).

As for me myself? If this legislation goes through, I’ll be very strongly tempted to do all I can to help people defy it. Anyone with good intuition knows that hackers and those persistent enough will essentially produce a Gray and a Black internet. These will be outside of -any- legislation and won’t be able to be stopped at all by law enforcement. Frankly speaking, companies are using the same logic as Donut uses here, from 1:20  to 1:46

And that’s all for this topic (if you want to know more about SOPA and/or PIPA, I suggest you use the search engines while they are still free to link you to whatever they can find).

XCOM as the new 2K shooter is delayed, many of the older fans are pleased to see a new Turn-Based reboot of the main games, yet few seem to show a great deal of concern at the shooter’s fate. While acknowledgements can be given considering the fact that the last time X-Com became a shooter, it was a mindless game that most fan’s hated, the new game actually looks to be almost like a hybrid between Insomniac Game’s Resistance series and Gearbox’s Brothers in Arms, with a progression and choice system like out of a Bioshock game. The weapons look like a decent mix of the familiar and the distant, the control of your squad looks smooth and efficient based on one preview that Game Informer had. The art style isn’t cliche, and has a very nice “Pixar” feel to it in that it dodges the issues of the uncanny valley. The game will even let you have freedom in how you progress with most missions similar to how Mass Effect generally only made you have to recruit 3/4s of your team and only required about two to three loyalty missions completed to go through the Omega Four Relay.

Despite this, there’s not been much praise for the game. When the game was first presented, the criticism and skepticism were understandable, but they’ve clearly gotten a handle on this and the game will likely end up being at least worth an 7.75/10 (in the language of the Hate out of Ten-ers, it’ll be 8.95/10). ( for those of you who’d like clarification on what I mean).

So please, cut the devs at 2K Marin a break and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Nit requested to add his own little bit to this:

I will find a way to critcize you. Have no fear.

If there’s someone who needs a vocal enough community that it effects the very development of a game, it’s Ubisoft. Think you can make me link my copy of Brotherhood to Uplay, don’t ya Ubisoft? You thought wrong! Which for you is like breathing. Don’t think I’ve been ignoring you, we’ll have a nice long chat about your DRM in the days to come…

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