Mass Effect

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker when it comes to a good RPG game – I enjoy being immersed in fiction.
So it struck me as kind of odd that i’d never gotten around to playing the Mass Effect series from Bioware (whose Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game I thoroughly enjoyed a few years back).
So, a couple of clicks on Steam later and hey presto – Mass Effect was downloading. And when it was finished downloading, I found myself in a wonderfully rich, engrossing sci-fi environment with well defined characters and a gripping story line (Hell, the Mass Effect universe even has it’s own Wiki let alone a series of books and comics and toys!)… i’d discovered the Mass Effect effect.

Mass Effect
The game begins (after you have crafted your character – one Commander Shepard – out of some predefined choices) with you being sent on a mission to recover an ancient artifact from a Human colony world of Eden Prime – no sooner have you learnt of this fact then the shit hits the fan and people start dying when Eden Prime comes under attack from a hostile alien force intent on claiming the artifact for themselves.
From here it all spirals into a magnificantly crafted storyline which hinges on your choices and decisions in the game. With it’s themes of freedom of thought, man vs machine, racial intolerance, love, morality and politics it won me over almost straight away.
Throughout the game you dialogue choices can steer you towards being a ‘nice’ person (the Paragon path) or a ‘nasty’ person (the Renegade path) – both of which have some wonderful outcomes and consequences, if sometimes a little extreme – but still fun!
It’s a wonderfully rich world that Bioware have created here and it has been wonderfully brought to life by the voice actors and graphic designers. Overall it took me approximately 33 hours (according to Steam) to finish my first play through – in which my character was fell into the Paragon path. Which is when I moved onto this;
Mass Effect 2
Yep, before I’d even finished the first game, i’d already buttoned the sequal in Steam. And oh boy am I glad I did. The familiar world created in the first game is back, but seems richer and deeper (and more menacing) than ever before! In a brilliant stroke of genius, you can directly import your character from the first game into the second one, which also imports all of your decisions and actions – resulting in an in-game world in the second game that has been shaped by how your played the first game.
The storyline is a bit darker in the sequal and in some places verges towards horror in some subtle (and some not so subtle) ways. It certainly opens with shocking action sequence that is not only unexpected but also has somewhat unexpected consequences for the rest of the game. Some old characters crop up from the first game (if they survived) and you meet some new and interesting ones too.
Whilst the sequal does sometimes feel a bit like it’s a more action/’bang-bang’ focused than the first one, it also has a greater choice of paths and decisions for the player to make and take – all of which can result in some vastly different endings. Without including any spoilers – no one is safe, no one.
So having finished my first play through of the sequal (achieved in about 36 hours) including some awesome DLC (I definitely recommend the ‘Lair of the Shadow Broker’, ‘Kasumi’, ‘Crash site’ and ‘Overlord’ packs) I find myself returning to Mass Effect 1 with a brand new Commander Shepard making some very different choices and most definitely leaning towards the Renegade path… and I love it and can not recommend these games highly enough!

My tripod droops (but only when it’s at an angle)

Firstly, wow, has it really been three months since I last posted something here. How remiss of me!

What’s been keeping me from these hallowed pages? mainly; work, nights out, hangovers, work and Transport for London (but that’s a different story (rant)).

So, I’ve decided to blog a little something about photography. It’s not often I get to flex this particular hobby (although I seem to have developed a nasty reputation at work-dos for being some sort of paparazzi, I can’t think why).

So today, between doing housework and playing Mass Effect (which is brilliant by the way, yes yes, I know Mass Effect 2 is out, i’m playing catch-up, all right?) I decided to take some more photos out of the bedroom window of my view across London (looking West from East), it’s normally a good source of photos on a clear day.

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Then, as it drew towards evening today, it all started to go a bit ‘yellow’ out there!

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So, as the sun set behind the rain clouds, i sat there looking at my camera (a Panasonic TZ5). I like this camera, it’s good quality, takes good photos and has a good number of options to it. Including, I discovered today a ‘long exposure’ setting. So once it was good and dark out there, I took a few more photos of London by night.

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I’ve taken night shots of London before, but they’ve never come out quite like this. I quite like these.

Thanks to these I’ve now realised I can see Westminster and Big Ben’s clock tower from home, as well as the chimneys of Battersea power station – awesomeness! (Also, whilst prepping this blog post, i’ve just noticed that the above two photos almost form a perfect panorama! that was not planned when I took them!)

My next step was to try the ‘long exposure’ setting photo on the night’s sky – I could see a couple of stars with the naked eye so I thought it might be worth a shot. That’s when I discovered the truth about my tripod, my cheap little £6 tripod I bought of ebay, put it at any angle other than practically parallel to the ground and it very, very slightly droops over time – giving me somewhat streaky stars. So I guess I’ll be off tripod shopping sometime soon then… and then let the heaven’s beware I’ll be down here snapping away!

All these photos (and more like them) are available to see on my Flickr account, here.