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Dragon’s Crown Intermediate Guide

Posted by Segun777 Wednesday August 14 2013 at 8:44AM
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Dragon’s Crown Intermediate Guide

(Tips & Tricks)

I’ve played a fair bit of Dragon’s Crown the last week, and I wanted to write down a small guide of Tips and Tricks to help newcomers to the game. I’ll skip over the basics, not the least because there are a few websites with really good guides out already most notably Destructoid and Primagames. If you read Kanji or can suss out the Google translation of the Japanese website 4gamer.net, that is a really good place to start out as well. So here we go:

1. First of all take that character guide you got of the internet, you know the one with all those cookie cutter builds; throw it out. This isn’t by any means a besmirching of whatever guide you got your hands on, it might even be a great guide. However, Dragon’s Crown is a dungeon crawler; you are going to spend tens of hours playing this game with or without people around the world. You don’t want to be spending time looking up a skill in a guide to see if it’s ‘any good’; that’ll suck the joy out of the game faster than you can say abracadabra.

2. Before you finish the first nine stages solo, make sure you play each character. This is sort of a part two of the above tip. After you finish your first mission make sure to go the adventure guild and scope out the skillset for each class. Maybe you know what it’s about, or at least you think you do, but you can be surprised how a class that looked promising can be totally out of your normal play style. Fighters can do good damage on land or in the air, but they can also tank; they have beastly defensive abilities that don’t even require items to use. The Amazon can be a beast on the ground, in the air, or use her health bar for skills but she can be murderous at tougher difficulties without practice. The Elf can burst some of the fastest DPS in a short amount of time or she can play tactical and conservative using her Bow to create distance and finish off enemies up close and personal with her legs or a dagger and backstab.

3. Your most important resource in Dragon’s Crown isn’t Gold, Experience, or even Gear; rather it is Skill Points. As such the most important part of leveling your character is the side quests. Not only does every side quest give at least one SP, you also get better experience gains than just going the different stages. While some side quests can be teasingly difficult to wrap up whether solo or in a party, be aware that opting out of a stage will grant you all experience, gold, and gear you’ve gained up to the point of exiting. It’s oftentimes a timesaver to simply exit the stage rather than finish through it.

4. Ronnie the thief is your friend. He opens doors and cracks chests, but he works on commission. That is to say that anything you leave on the ground is fair game to Ronnie. So make sure to sweep up all the gold and treasure on the ground. At the higher difficulty levels especially, that can make an enormous difference in your gains.

5. It is important to not spread yourself too thin. Unless something changes in the future the max allowable number of SP is 255 and getting that many SP is likely to take a long time. You should plan around 50 SP per playthrough in Normal, Hard, and Inferno Modes. This is especially important since skill resets are few and far between.

6. Don’t rush. Now I’m the first to say that I play RPG’s defensively. I overlevel, I grind, and I hoard potions like there’s no tomorrow. But Dragon’s Crown is brutal, if you try to run ahead of yourself this game will put you down hard, party or no party. It might be a little tedious to do things slowly, but walk before you run people. Also as a reminder reviving yourself in battle takes an increasingly large amount of gold, the first couple times it’s done in one sitting is chump change to how much it costs after.

7. Everything is shared between your created characters; gold, equipment, items, even your companions. That being said items have a set amount of uses, so be aware of how many you have left. Companions you’ve raised from the dead cannot regain lost items or repair broken equipment. Don’t bother with the pray options or the items from Morgan’s or Lucien’s shop until later levels when you are playing online or have finished the first nine stages.

8. Dragon’s Crown takes something from old school arcade co-op games or platformers. The number to the left of your player is how many lives you currently have. Starting at the number 2 and counting down to zero, that number can also be raised by various methods. Getting a score higher than 30,000 gives you an extra life, as does using the rune system in a particular manner, as does praying at the Canaan Temple; there are other ways to gain lives but those are the easiest.

9. Speaking of the rune system. When you get a full set of runes you can do some powerful rune magic with the stones. However the game refuses to hold your hand with the rune system. If you have an excellent memory you can memorize the best three-rune combinations, the rest of us should just put them down on paper.

 

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One Beta to Rule Them All

Posted by Segun777 Monday July 22 2013 at 4:20PM
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One Beta to Rule Them All

I hate to admit it, but I’m going to have to eat some crow today. For the last couple weeks I’ve been dogging on Firefall. Firefall is a game that I’ve played over the last couple years off and on. It has always been a game that looks to do things a little differently than everyone else. That being said however, I’ve played a ‘beta’ in Firefall at least three times in the last two years. When I saw they, Red5, had launched another ‘open beta’ I was on my last nerve.

 

I bought the founders pack last December. I looked at it then as a smart investment. I was getting a great deal which included a lot of permanent items and bonuses. Even now when I see the ‘starter packs’ they are selling for the same price as the old founders pack, I know I made the right choice.


 

Firefall has ‘gone back to the drawing board’ on several occasions but its current iteration with some 15 battleframes seems to have hit the sweet spot on both upward mobility,  with respect to leveling, and cutting out much of the vertical gear grind. Battleframes can be tweaked to fit your play style, each class of frame has a starter level frame to clue you onto how a class will play and then button downs and gives you two very different frames that tweak the major strengths and weaknesses of the class.

 


 

For example, this time around I am playing around with the Recon class of Battleframes. Much like the Mass Effect class Infiltrator, I started out with a sniper rifle and submachine gun. I moved to the Nighthawk Recon frame to give me the best damage versus distance from the enemy. Another Recon frame gives me a more mid-distance frame with several abilities to decrease threats but with a slightly weaker damage output.

 

Firefalls’ crafting system is intense and works on many levels especially since the economy tends to based on player-made gear for the most part. Item decay and breakage lends itself well to the system in-place. The cash shop is mostly the usual and is closer to the end of the spectrum of cosmetic and experience boost based goods. Though you can buy currency to speed up the process of gaining new battleframes, the cash shop doesn’t artificially strength the battleframes themselves.

 


 
Everything about Firefall comes down to you getting out what you put in. The game is at first glance simplistic, but perhaps because the system is mostly transparent you can find a lot of depth in the game. FPS MMO’s are still mostly limited to the PVP variety. It’s what the fans want and it’s what the developers give them. With respect to Defiance, there aren’t a lot of FPS MMO’s on the PVE side worth the salt. I won’t make the pronouncement that Firefall will stand the test of time, there is far too little information about expanding the world and all that entails, but the beta is certainly, finally at a stage where Red5 should be proud of the house they’ve built.

 

 

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Buying Into the F2P Myth

Posted by Segun777 Friday May 17 2013 at 9:09AM
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I’ve been playing a lot of The Old Republic lately, most leveling alts. I’m working on one character that I hope will help me get into endgame, a feature of most MMO’s that I avoid like the plague. Recently the 2.1 update dropped and out came the usual furor against BioWare and Electronic Arts. As I sat back and read the articles, opinion pieces, and comment sections I came to a realization; that gamers do not understand the mechanics behind a company choosing to move a game to F2P.

 

The news came out of Trion headquarters last week that Rift, their most popular MMO, was going F2P. The news wasn’t wholly unexpected given the laying off of 1/3 of their staff late last year after launching the Storm Legion expansion, still many had hoped that it was business as usual, the part-timers being let go after the successful launch of product.

 

What gamers, and some game writers often fail to understand, is that F2P at its core, is nothing more than life support for a dying MMO. It’s not a golden ticket; rather it’s the last gasp of a dying game. For some it’s the way to continued profitability (SWTOR), for some it’s a way to revitalize a game (Vanguard), for some it’s a different business approach (DCUO), and for some it’s a way to get people back into the game, sometimes for the first time (Tera); but for all these games no matter how many years they last afterwards, F2P is only keeping a dying game alive.

 

In the beginning of May, word came down that World of Warcraft, the subscription juggernaut, had lost 1.3 million subscribers. Hordes of gamers, both predicted and cast aside, the announcement as the end of Blizzard’s reign at the top. Losing a large amount of subscribers is never a good indication of health for a MMO, but on the same token, no other MMO in the world could lose that many subscriptions and still be making billions of dollars every year.

 

Gamers often seem to take the well-published numbers of a MMO as proof that the game is doing well. I won’t say that companies fudge data, it’s usually illegal and frankly investors can smell it a mile away. However, the numbers that gaming companies use are usually irrelevant without corresponding data. For example having a million new users is nice, but unless they all are paying $5/month, all you have is more server costs. It’s one of the traps of F2P, there is no guarantee of more revenue, and even an increased user base only guarantees increased costs.

 

I stand in disbelief at the idea that if every F2P MMO was completely open, then gamers would just dump out their wallets for BioWare, Trion, En Masse, Turbine, Funcom, or NCSoft. I believe in our heart of hearts we are all somewhat like Veruca Salt, one of the five golden ticket winners from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When we as gamers don’t get what we want immediately, we throw nasty tantrums and take things to extreme measures until we finally get our way.

 

Do I believe that every gamer complaint about the way F2P has been operated in former subscription-based games is without merit? No, but I do believe that gamers need to better understand the dynamics of what makes a company shift its product from subscription to F2P. No matter how well a game appears to be doing after a switch, it should be clear to gamers that any particular MMO in that situation is a cat with no more lives. I won’t stand and say that the MMO genre is dying or on the verge of collapse, but be wary if you think that all is well in the MMO world. Gamers getting what they want always looks nice on the surface, but if companies aren’t making money this way, all that follows is demise.

The Do-Nothings

Posted by Segun777 Saturday May 4 2013 at 7:56AM
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I live in Pennsylvania, don’t remember if I’ve ever said that before; didn’t want my legion of fans to break down my door (…). In my hometown, lately there has been talk about whether or not to renovate the aging high school or build an entirely new building. It’s something every town goes through, especially in these difficult economic times. What is somewhat different is that this isn’t the first time it’s come up.

 

A while back, a previous school board voted to build a new school. A grassroots, but vocal and angry, section of the residents cried foul about the way the decision was made. They even managed to get the school board voted out and themselves in; as such the discussion was tabled. Years later a new council is faced with the same decision, the school is out of date, not up to code, and frankly needs to be overhauled or torn down (the land is worth far more than the buildings). In the end no matter what happens, the ‘do-nothings’ won. All the outcry and fervor was pointless and meaningless in the end, little more than a pyrrhic victory.

 

I look at Star Wars The Old Republic and I am impressed, the game is better today than it was a year ago. The switch to F2P alongside subscriptions has revitalized both the game and the company. Sales are up and the cash shop items are better than ever. Better yet, the game caters to both sides of the equation. Gamers, who are flush with cash, can go straight to the cash shop and get pretty much anything they want. While gamers who have more time than money, can buy everything the cash shop has to offer on the market for in-game currency; it’s a win-win for both parties.

 

I’m reminded of the steady and unrelentingly bad press that has dogged The Old Republic from nearly the time it launched. No matter what EA and BioWare did, their naysayers would point to flaws wherever they lay. And make no mistake, there were gaffs made across the board, as with any new enterprise, nothing ventured and nothing gained. The missteps were compounded by the lofty and unrealistic expectations both from within the company and from without. The Old Republic is likely to be a harsh lesson to any potential newcomers into the MMO world for sometime to come.

 

Through it all The Old Republic prevailed, fixing mistakes slowly but surely and adding new content and ‘cost of living’ upgrades along the way. It’s been an eventful one and a half years, but TOR is a better game for it. BioWare had to make the hard calls over these last couple years. Lowering costs by cutting staff in half is never popular but it was necessary, going F2P with a subscription attached made for some vocal naysayers as well, even making gamers pay for content announced before the switch to F2P has made some critics but it worked out in the end. BioWare made decisions, while the ‘do-nothings’ wanted no change at all.

 

Making hard decisions before the problems become obvious, is about as fun as pushing a giant boulder up a mountain, naysayers point out that it isn’t broken and ask why the ‘fix’ is necessary. Getting people to look forward into the future, to look at the longterm, is never easy and making decisions that will have costly repercussions now rather than later is harder still. But decisions have to be made; as the saying goes ‘you pay now or you pay later but you’re going to pay’. BioWare made the hard calls, when doing nothing would have garnered them far less criticism, this gamer for one, is mighty impressed with the results.

 

 

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What is a MMO?

Posted by Segun777 Friday April 26 2013 at 4:13PM
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I made a comment on a MMO website, that any online-only game counts as a MMO. I was quickly told how much I didn’t know about games, amongst other things. I didn’t say anything, but it got me thinking about how we define MMO’s now and into the future. When I was younger, an MMO fell into two categories, West and East. The Western MMO was all subscription based and tended to be considered AAA, even if the quality varied. On the other hand the Eastern MMO tended to be F2P, dated, and grind heavy by the standards of the time. It’s from here that Eastern MMO’s got the moniker of being ‘grind-fests’.

 


 

Fast forward more than a decade and the landscape couldn’t be more different. The lines have blurred between Eastern and Western and the subscription landscape is nearly empty of all life. How we define MMO’s has also changed. FPS, RPG, MOBA, TPS, Fighting, Strategy, Tactical; all of these subgenres of the MMO market have risen and carved out niches for themselves. The backlash from calling online-only games MMO’s is likely a direct result from the controversy of recent single player franchises moving toward being online-only. Diablo 3 and SimCity have caused a lot of strive in the gaming world when both games launched with less than stellar server tech.

 


 
The reality is simple, the more a game is played, the more likely gamers are to spend money. Whether it’s an AAA mega-hit or a small niche independently developed game, developers want gamers playing their games as long as possible. The truth is that piracy, security, cash shops, and all other issues pale before the golden rule of business, make as much money as possible. This is why the online-only phenomenon is likely to become less and less rare. In the end, what constitutes a MMO is irrelevant, developers will do whatever it takes to keep gamers in front of their screens, playing their games and buying their content.

Avabel Rising

Posted by Segun777 Tuesday March 26 2013 at 9:10AM
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There’s a game I’m playing this past week. It’s a fairly standard MMO dungeon crawler; six classes, a starting town and a dungeon to climb floor by floor. There’s one thing though that separates this game from the pack; Avabel Online is a mobile game for the iOS and the Android. Avabel Online, the latest game from Japanese developers Asobimo, launched open beta last week and it is incredible. This game would be impressive if it came out on a console, but on the mobile market it is a breath of fresh air. Gone are the binding ‘energy’ restraints and ugly Facebook era wannabe mobile MMO’s, and gone are the squarish PlayStation One era graphics of the Everquest-lite mobile MMO’s; Avabel is visually impressive, structurally sound, and a joy to play.

 


 

Avabel starts you out in the central town. After a short and very limited introduction you are thrust into the world of Avabel. Each ‘level’ is a landscape all its own with more difficult monsters with each level. Rather than spend time on a long and boring tutorial, Avabel Online tells you about the Help section and then throws into the deep end. You can join a party or play solo. Rather than go back and forth for quests, Avabel has an achievement system that rewards daily play, how far you get up the tower, slaying bosses and killing boatloads of monsters, etc. At level five you return to town to choose your class; Warrior, Rogue, Ranger, Acolyte, Magician, or Creator (a crafter class). Avabel also has a guild system that rivals its PC counterparts. A guild point system to upgrade the guild and a bulletin board to keep in touch are just some of the features Avabel boasts. For those discerning gamers who want to lord over others, Avabel boasts PVP Arena combat. 

 

http://avabel.jp/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/121004_2.png

 

Avabel Online is currently in open beta, and has been in beta for some time in native Japan. There are few if any bugs in the build I played so rest easy on that front. While the future is uncertain for how Asobimo will tackle the business side of things, for now this is one of the finest free games on the mobile market. Avabel Online is something of a lovechild of Phantasy Star Online and Monster Hunter, as such should quickly grab a loyal following. While the mobile market can’t compare to its better handheld and console cousins; titles like Avabel Online remind us that the platform has so much unexplored potential.

 

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Voice Activated Excitement

Posted by Segun777 Tuesday March 12 2013 at 3:49PM
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I was playing Closed Beta’s last weekend, specifically Marvel Heroes, Neverwinter Online, and Warframe; there is such a contrast between the three games and how they use voice to tell story. Marvel Heroes is your basic dungeon crawler, and I do mean basic; the combat is a step back from the popular Marvel Ultimate Alliance games of yesteryears. The game is better than your average movie license game, but considering the company that’s hardly more than a backhanded compliment. Neverwinter Online is perfectly serviceable and I’m sure in a year the Foundry will be the chief point in its favor, but the lack of quality voice is telling. Warframe is a game that can easily suck hundreds of hours of your time. It’s fast, dependable, and guaranteed to give you small bite-sized gaming; but it’s unlikely to ever be your primary MMO. It doesn’t give you enough story to be more memorable than LAN parties with your friends; fun while it lasts but not notable for anything other than the camaraderie of Co-Op.

 


Star Wars: The Old Republic was the first MMO to bring us a fully voiced experience. Lauded and vilified, its struggles have given rise to the idea that voice is a meaningless luxury. It’s interesting to be sure how different we treat the single player and MMO markets. I can’t imagine the next Call of Duty, Halo, or Assassin’s Creed not being fully voiced; gamers would riot on the streets. We’ve taken for granted how much voice impacts our enjoyment of the story. If TOR did anything wrong it was risking too little. BioWare stories have captivated gamers for more than a decade, yet the stories were too bound by the systems of an older generation of MMO’s. They risked too little, and as such much of the great story elements are hidden behind tiresome MMO tropes.

 

 

Love it or hate it, voice is irrevocably linked to the enjoyment of story. Playing Neverwinter Online for the first time it was striking how quickly I went back into the old ways of clicking through quests; every feature giving me that feeling of déjà vu. The trick is to make everything count; story, like a good meal, cannot be rushed. It’s not enough to have quest hubs or even quests scattered all over a map. Voice has given rise to a reality that cannot be taken back; story; and the quests that drive it, are going to have to be as good as the single player experience.

 

 

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Surviving the Hype

Posted by Segun777 Saturday February 16 2013 at 1:21PM
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Hype n.: Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion

 

 

MMO’s have come along way from the golden younger years, but one thing that remains the same; hype. No game can completely counter the hype, nor should they. Hype is necessary to generate excitement for the new and the unknown. Every game needs a little hype to survive especially as the market becomes more competitive with every passing moment.

 

 


Every MMO should plan on a long closed beta. Any closed beta not measured by the months is a waste of time. It used to be that open betas were the place to have the large amount of testers for a short amount of time. The advent of F2P titles that not only have no longer have subscription fees, but have also done away with the sixty dollar box to sell to recoup development costs have changed things; it is important to have long closed beta times to not only test the game, but test player reaction to various parts of the game as well as the cash shop.

 

Yes I said it, closed beta should launch with a working cash shop. Many studios that follow this practice will promise refunds of currency used, though they rarely refund the dollar amount but each developer makes its own rules. NCsoft and ArenaNet did this with Guild Wars 2 and others have followed suit; AAA or not cash shops need to be tested before a game launches, soft launch or hard launch. It’s no longer feasible to have a game launch without a cash shop. I would in fact say that even a game with a subscription should launch with a cash shop. Not only does it make the transition from sub to sub-less easier and more importantly quicker, it allows for choice from those gamers who want to spend money, sometimes even large amounts of money on your game. 

 

 

Developers often use the various social networking sites, and 24 news media sites to trumpet their achievements, but often times it seems they don’t understand the negative sides of the equation. Much of the major news in the gaming world over the last few years has to do with developers seemingly unaware or blatantly uncaring about the bad news traveling at the speed of sound. The internet can be a harsh mistress.

 

 

Every MMO wants to be different, wants to set a new standard in an area. Whether it is story, combat, graphics, lore, or character customization; developers often forget that these things fade in time. A game needs more than one giant leg to stand on. Many a game has shined in one or two particular areas only to falter in others. In this then it is most important that a developer not believe its own hype. Many games in development have been trumpeted by the media, by gamers, by developers for certain areas of brilliance, but after launch have faltered in others. They say that success teaches nothing, but failure is the true master. Developers have made great strides in many areas of game development with regards to MMO’s but success should be looked at only as a plateau, a time to rest and recharge while looking for new heights to climb. Perhaps the greatest slayer of hype is the developer who is always striving to do more.

 

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The Frame of War

Posted by Segun777 Sunday February 10 2013 at 1:48PM
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The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do. – Jack Sparrow



I’ve been playing a MMO called Warframe of late. The game is named after a secret World War II era plan by Boeing to build Exoskeletons for the military. Since soldiers aren’t wearing suits of armor, it can be deduced that the technology simply wasn’t there. Besides the movies, no one has figured out a way to get through the various barriers of software, hardware, and power. It’s ironic but Iron Man is a fairly good thesis on how hard it would be to get a suit of armor working.

 


Warframe is the brain child of Digital Extremes, the makers of a concept video for Xbox 360 that went on to become Dark Sector. The concept video was the first Xbox 360 game announced. However, with the launch and then success of the Call of Duty franchise, plans were changed. A decade later, that little remembered concept video has been born anew into an entirely new game. Part Mass Effect, part Halo, part Splinter Cell; Warframe is a little game punching way above its weight class.

 


I can’t say what the future holds, perhaps Warframe fails miserably or perhaps it succeeds past the companies wildest dreams. But whatever the future holds, Warframe is proof of a far simpler idea. Digital Extremes had a dream. Life caused that dream to have to be put on hold for a while, but here they are again. Bit by bit, they are building it anew from the ashes of an old memory. It’s a lesson to take to heart.

GOTY

Posted by Segun777 Sunday December 30 2012 at 7:54AM
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They said it couldn’t be done. They said the 360 wouldn’t be around long enough. They said it would take a decade. They said… a lot of things. It has been a tumultuous last year, but BioWare and Mass Effect 3 have done what couldn’t be done. Thus there is no other choice, no game that meant more, or will be remembered as much as Mass Effect 3, this years Game of the Year.

 



When BioWare first proposed a trilogy on Microsoft’s’ Flagship console late 2005, most people were skeptical. BioWare had a giant reputation but certainly did not have a track record for producing games at a pace necessary for the trilogy to hold water. Even now years later the feat has not been attempted in anything but the most simplistic of forms; SquareEnix Final Fantasy XIII is one such example. It had been attempted before, Majesco Entertainment tried with Advent Rising, a beautiful game coauthored by Orson Scott Card with a vanguard musical score. Despite an Olympian effort, it never rose above the crowd and was the final nail in the coffin for the embattled company which would never again be a relevant console publisher.

 

 

Mass Effect hit so many high notes that a few less than stellar parts of the game were ignored. The combat was at the time typical BioWare fare, lacking. The inventory system was clunky and forgettable and the items could be set into four tiers, but were otherwise utterly indistinguishable from each other. It wasn’t even the most popular new IP on the 360 in 2007; that distinction went to a little franchise called Assassins’ Creed. Barely eeking out a RPG fantastic 2 million sold on the 360 and PC, it nevertheless failed to garner much attention outside of RPG gamers until Mass Effect 2.

 

 

Though Mass Effect 2 is oft-maligned for the story elements, and bringing too many new characters; BioWare’s nod to the Dirty Dozen added some much needed flavor to an, at that point, vanilla take on saving the galaxy. Until Mass Effect 2, players hadn’t understood just how bad it would get for the galaxy they were fighting to save or how much they might have to sacrifice. Moreover it introduced a prototype of the combat seen in Mass Effect 3, which made great strides in quality. Introducing the darker edge in Mass Effect 2 enabled BioWare to escape the inevitable shock that would have arisen from Mass Effect 3 and its dark, but powerful storyline.

 

 

And so finally we come to the end, Mass Effect 3. It is the shining achievement of nearly a decade of hard work and the last legacy of its founders. What to say about Mass Effect 3 except to say that BioWare made people care. After all the min/maxing, the spreadsheets, the best and worst endings; after it was all said and done all that mattered were the characters that we had grown to love. Love the endings or hate the endings, hate the genre, the inventory, the quest system, the combat; BioWare made each and every character yours and yours alone. Whether the feat will ever be matched, let alone attempted again, BioWare made their crowning glory unforgettable and like proud parents they can be assured that gaming will never be the same. It is in this light, for that achievement, that Game of the Year can be no other. Well Done.