Saturday, April 16, 2011

From "Unremarkable coda" or "effective bridge"?

What praise could I possibly heap upon Mass Effect 2 that wouldn’t be redundant at this point?
I’ve heard even critical gamers who consider the presentation too dialogue-heavy and the story too slow-developing and even “boring” concede it’s put together unquestionably well and an exceptional game overall – just not necessarily one they particularly enjoy.
Flip the coin, and the gamers who love BioWare’s opus revere it among gaming’s greatest total-package titles that hits every possible high note a single game can hit, from captivating visuals and practically flawless gameply, to its sweeping-epic story and virtually bottomless replay value. That goes doubly so for PC gamers, who have had far longer to foster and grow their love affair than the console crowd.
But even the greatest of all great things reach an end. Shenmue fans will tell you that. So it goes now that before Mass Effect 3 emerges and likely propels Commander Shepard’s saga full-circle, BioWare resolves the last chord in Mass Effect 2’s movement in this starry symphony with the final downloadable chapter before Mass Effect 3’s late-2011 release,Arrival.
And for all BioWare’s promotional focus on Arrival as a must-have finale to Mass Effect 2, it makes an enjoyable but unremarkable and anti-climactic coda.

Mass Effect 2's developers made precious few overall mistakes . . . . but Arrival continued one of them. Click right here to find out what went wrong, and for more from GamerXChange, my Home Away From The Diner

Big Things Poppin' . . . . Little Things Stoppin' . . . .

If you read this often, you might’ve noticed TigerCubGirl has been posting here more frequently than I have, and I haven’t really churned out a good, proper review or blog in a while. Well, there’s a reason for that, and it means a few changes to how I do things.

I’ve recently accepted two blogging positions that came across my “desk” – OK, more like my BlackBerry and Twitter – right around the same time. First, I’m the newest blogger and reviewer at, a gaming blog that launched just this past January. I learned that GXC’s founder, Geoff or @GxC_SimplyG on Twitter, was seeking six new writers a few months ago. I submitted an application, he read and was impressed by my reviews of Homefront and WWE All-Stars, and he decided I would be a good fit for his site. In fact, my first review will post hopefully sometime later today, a run-down of the final downloadable Mass Effect 2 chapter, Arrival.

This is where the changes start.

Unfortunately, I will not be posting my full game reviews here any longer, unless I do a one-off exclusive or feature. If I post the same thing here in its entirety that I post at GXC, that starts hurting my eventual Google rating and costs me searches. What I will do is post brief previews of my reviews, with a link to the website. I hope the people who visit and like the other things I write will similarly be intrigued enough, if gamers they be, to open a whole new window/tab and check out what I do elsewhere, just as I hope you’re also regularly checking out This is great exposure that I stand a chance to gain with a more frequently viewed site, and I’m grateful to have an opportunity to continue getting my name out. I may eventually establish a Facebook page solely for my writing under the Sleepless Colin name and check into whether or not I could include a full archive of my reviews there.

Another reason I haven’t posted as much: I’ve taken on something fairly unusual to help make my ends meet. For the next month, I’m a paid volunteer in a Quintiles clinical research trial. For those outside the Kansas City area who don’t know the name “Quintiles”, they’re a firm that assists with the testing of non-FDA-approved medications. I’m undergoing three four-night overnight stays during April and May to help test two drugs that treat urinary tract infections.

For that four weeks of doing little more than laying in a bed watching TV, reading, gaming and letting nurses repeatedly draw blood from me, I’m being paid $2,650. At least some of that is going to end up re-invested in my freelance writing/media ventures. Specifically, I’m eyeing a laptop and a microphone set. This probably won't be my last trial, either. I would like to do a couple more of these by August so I can set aside still more funds. God knows, I have the time right now.

That also means that my writing is restricting to the banks of PCs with high-speed Internet located in the Quintiles rec room. They’re good computers, but I can only use them when available. I’m actually going to try to step up my production during this time, though. Yeah, I know, leave it to me to attempt the most ass-backwards, illogical things possible. But I’m going to try!

That’s in part because of the third big change: at least on a trial basis, I have a paying freelance gig as a new “reporter” for That means I’ll be getting paid by the 150-word-plus article to summarize and stylize TV and movie news. If I play my cards right, this could be another gig that not only nets me exposure, but lets me become essentially self-employed. I’ve always told Scarlett that I envied the freedom of setting her own hours more than a little bit. Well, now I get to try that hat on for size myself.

The BEST news, though? Writing is about to essentially become my life. I cannot begin telling you the sense of freedom and accomplishment I’m feeling right now . . . but I assure you, very soon, I am going to try.

In the meantime, I hope you all keep reading. Because I don’t see my writing stopping anytime soon.