March 31, 2012

Garuss Cosplay from Mass Effect

“Fighting a rogue Spectre with countless lives at stake and no regulations to get in the way? I'd say that beats C-Sec.”
Garuss. He's like the blue police man of the Mass Effect series. He's the dude with the sniper rifle that never misses. He's got Sheppard's back and is right behind his Commander which in the modern age can mean all   kinds of things.

Either way Garrus  Vakarian has proven to be a fan favourite for Mass Effect cosplayers and these pictures of Garuss in cosplay costumes are pretty much evidence of that!

Pretty sweet Garrus mask!
You gotta ask yourself one question..

garrus costume mass effect

garuss tali cosplay
Garrus and Tali

Not a fan of Garrus? Can we interest you in Miranda?

March 29, 2012

The best Judge Dredd Cosplay

judge dredd cosplayer having a beer
Dredd having a beer after a tough day being the law
When I discovered comics it wasn’t just the Justice League and Batman that took my fancy, I found a true affinity with Judge Dredd comics. My dad had a wonderful ability to get AD Comics from a retailer friend with the cover ripped off which meant I got them for free.

I loved Dredd because the tales often had a cool sci-fi thing going on and the stories often had a twist or unexpected ending.

At time some of the stories from the Apocalypse War were amazingly intense battles lead by a heroic Dredd - it’s now as an older and wiser geek I realise they were direct references to the East West relations that were worrying the world in the 80s.

Anyways above is just to give an insight on why there is an enduring Dredd legacy – and cosplayers everywhere love dressing as their favourite Judge and swearing all DROKK like!

judge dredd cosplay

judge dredd costume
Moody Dredd

Young Dredd cosplayer
Family Dredd

I am the law judge dredd

March 23, 2012

What is the N7 that's on Commander Sheppard's logo all about?

n7 logo mass effect

What is the N7 that's on Commander Sheppard's logo all about?

N7 represents how far Sheppard has progessed through Interplanetary Combatives Training programme. What it means is that they are the best of the best at being a soldier.

Interplanetary Combatives Training (ICT) is the Systems Alliance's premier school for leadership and combat expertise. The Interplanetary Combatives Academy, is often known as "N-School" or "the villa," recruits officers from every branch of Earth's militaries to partake in grueling courses at Vila Militar in Rio de Janeiro.

The highest grade of training, N6, provides actual combat experience in combat zones throughout the galaxy. If the trainee survives these scenarios in "admirable and effective fashion," he or she finally receives the coveted N7 designation. N7 is the only ICT designation that may be worn on field or dress uniforms so it was sure amusing for Sheppard to find the Geth we know Legion wearing it in Mass Effect 2 - it was kind of an homage to the man.

If you've played through Mass Effect you'll recall that James Vega was asked to go through the ICT programme.

March 20, 2012

ME3 Ending Did Not Suck, was just a David Lynch movie ending

The Mass Effect 3 ending. There has been a lot of talk about this ending lately. As Bono might say, maybe too much talk. Any way, having finished the game and having LOVED the ENDING, I’m gonna talk about it.

You too, can join me if you like. Or else scream into the void. People are mad as hell. There’s petitions to change the ending. In it, Sheppard dies. WTF? There’s a baby in space that talks. A 2001 Space Odysessy ending if you will. WTF?

The ending is so crazy it’s a" fuck chick's a dude" type Blue Velvet ending. And it was awesome.

The blindside ending is that the ‘Catalyst’ turns out to be some kind of ‘Baby Reaper’ in control of the Reapers and this took a lot of people by surprise. A lot of now angry people.

The ending I got was just ballsy, science fiction writing. It’s my view that Casey Hudson and the Bioware  team took a determined decision to not go the easy route of the 'hero saves the day and everyone is safe ending' and I applaud them for it.

Why does the video game have to have a traditional 'heroic' ending. Why can't we be totally played. We were in the original Bioshock - would you kindly? So why do we care that all actions to get get us to meet the crucible were largely just a round about way of demonstrating we were NEO from the Matrix and were able to plug into the machine? This guy gets it. This guy does run a reasonably sane argument why it sucked...

It’s not like this ending hasn’t been hinted at. Even as far as the first game when Commander Sheppard encounters a Reaper dude of some kind ( shortly after you choose to let Wrex live or die)  it tells him this is all about something he cannot comprehend. Given some fans cannot comprehend the ending, I reason the ending was telegraphed to us in the first game ! I jest. A little.

While I’m not really sure that the Reaper’s goal of “preventing organic life from wiping itself out by creating synthetic life’ is a real hook on which to base the extermination of a whole bunch of races and worlds, it certainly gives an answer to why Mass Effect is Mass Effect. It’s kind of like a Halo argument how the Forerunners meddled in the affairs of other races because they are in charge of the Mantle, except I think that piece of fiction makes a little more sense.

While I wasn't sure why the Normandy was flying away from Earth (whatever was happening to the Reapers was not going to affect organic life) I loved they crashed landed on some strange random planet. The suggestion Joker et al might become the Adam and Eve's of that planet was a sweet little touch.

There is a post-credits sequence where a man and a child are seen on an alien planet looking to the sky. They talk about how the galaxy is full of stars and planets with other being on them. The child wants to hear another story about Sheppard. It’s a cute little ending that probably is a little too cute but I like how it’s a gentle echo to remind us that the universe continues to chug along as a result of Sheppard’s actions.

I'll trying to figure out why the Prothean's built the Crucible knowing (?) the Catalyst was the er... Citidel and seeing as they'd have known they didn't actually build it themselves why did they not wonder about that issue...)

I mentioned in my review a quibble about the big deal that was made about the choice to save the Rachni Queen throughout the series and ME3’s writer Mac Walters said “[The presence of the Rachni] has huge consequences in Mass Effect 3. Even just in the final battle with the Reapers." Well I didn’t see one damn Rachni that was on my side in the final battle charge. I feel cheated in that regard and I imagine that sentiment will be shared be several players.

Overall I applaud Bioware's choice to deliver a bewildering David Lynch style ending to the Mass Effect trilogy. I think we can all agree it was better than the Lost finale.....

Update: Bioware has caved into the pressure, ME3 will have an expanded ending.

JJ Reviews: Mass Effect 3

Sexiest A.I. ever?
If blogging has been light in recent times, it's because of Mass Effect 3 - the year's best game for a fact and it's only March.


I first got in to Mass Effect by accident when I found it cheap. ME2 did the business and more and like the hugely massive and nearly impossible expectations that one had for Halo 3 and GOW3, the promise of Mass Effect would could only be that it would be the most biggest, bad assess space opera ever.

And so it was.

I find it weird to say that the initial Reaper invasion of Earth where innocent children were blown from the slay, an awesome slow best burner start, that's indeed what it was - and it had to be the slowburn because the game's plot only got faster and more brutal as my 'Aubrey Sheppard' sought to defend against and defeat the Reapers.

The first few missions were easy enough and simple enough to get into the spirit of things. Find a Turian soldier there, battle a marauder there, pick up a female Krogan there, arrange for some illegal trade in guns there, telling The Illusive Man to frack off there, give advice to an A.I. with big silver tits about how to pick up humans there and the scene was set.

Cerberus were quickly up to tricks with Sheppard and the Illusive guy was probably a bit pissed that the Commander prevented him from capturing what were apparently the finest young minds humanity had to offer (they seemed pretty dumb though).....

By this stage I've got used to the game play. It's a strong improvement on the prior games and the running, ducking and diving options now available feel quite natural after coming off a lot of Gears of War lately.

Mass Effect has always made it clear that decisions have consequences. The original game this painfully clear when the choice came to kill the Krogan Wrex. A key choice in that game was to decide whether to let the Rachni Queen live or die. Well ME3 makes sure the chickens come home to roost in that regard. Finally a true decision in ME has had a massive influence in this game. To this end, Mass Effect's promise that decisions have consequences has never been borne out so well. Kudos to Mass Effect's writers.

Mass Effect 3 is a killing machine. Millions of people are dying all around me. Planets are being decimated, I'm deciding the fate particular species and I'm sending major characters to their deaths. Some characters are also sending themselves to their own deaths. The game gives some of them glorious endings, others unsatisfying ignoble good byes. With the Reaper attack threatening the existence of the galaxy as we know it, I guess that's c'est la vie.

A key element of ME2 was Cerberus and The Illusive man directing Shepard to his own ends. ME3 features a heavy sub plot of Cerberus plots that help lead us to one inevitable conclusion - it's all going to  end badly for everyone.

There's a certain character betrayal which seems like it was telegraphed from day one which is all a little to Da Vinci Code like for me (even though I never pick them myself in the books!)  - it's a trivial complaint none-the-less but it did lead us on a wild goose chase.

So now I'm tired of finding strange prothean disks for lazy scientists so I'm going to charge in to save the day. Am I ready? I'm kind of ready. Have I made the right decisions? Are my Geth troops up to it? Should I have been nicer to the Salarians? Is my reasonably respectable paragon leading Sheppard up to the task. Will the Alliance battle as brave as the Krogan?

This is truly a Galaxy at War.

The final dash through, taking out the Cerberus base is a long affair with no real consquence but to serve as a chance to give the Illusive Man the finger and set up the finale run which was long, fun and had just the right amount of sentiment in saying goodbye to a few friends before Sheppard stepped up to save the  galaxy.

Then there was that crazy ending. It's caused a stir, and rightly so but I think it was a brilliant ending and I'm gonna have to spend a whole different post talking about it. I am truly satisfied with the efforts of my Sheppard, despite him kind of turning into NEO from the Matrix..... well that was my ending. I didn't get shot by Martin Sheen.

I'll trying to figure out why the Prothean's built the Crucible knowing ? the Catalyst was the er... Citidel and seeing as they'd have known they didn't actually build it themselves, could they not see that their own plan had a gaping hole in it? Or did I just miss something here?

If I wanted to quibble, a big deal was made about the choice to save the Rachni Queen throughout the series and ME3’s writer Mac Walters said “[The presence of the Rachni] has huge consequences in Mass Effect 3. Even just in the final battle with the Reapers." Well I didn’t see one damn Rachni that was on my side in the final battle charge. I feel cheated in that regard and I imagine that sentiment will be shared be several players.

Overall, game of the year for 2012. Halo 4 is gonna have to be amazing to beat it.

Update: ME3 is going to have an expanded ending.

March 19, 2012

Lego Halo Masterchief

Lego freak, Gary Whitta, found this green Masterchief made of lego. Nice work!

March 14, 2012

Research suggests: play with friends, win more Halo: Reach

You might remember Aaron and Winter's study of Halo: Reach players - they asked us and some other cool sites out there to help lure in some Halo players to assist with his research. Well they've done the work and have some findings to share and I think they are pretty cool!

The paper focuses on the "questions of whether playing with friends has an impact on your or your team's performance. It turns out that it does, even after we control for the overall skill level of the team, which is cool."

Here's a bit from the conclusion which proves beyond all doubt I am an awesome Halo player because I'm 34:

"Although the typical age of our respondents was close to 20 years old, the distribution shows a long tail, with a large number of players over 30. Age correlated with several aspects of game play: older players (24 or older; 29.7%) tend to exhibit somewhat less within group con´Čéict, exhibit greater pro-social tendencies (e.g., fewer betrayals), and are slightly more skilled (more kills per game). This latter point is counterintuitive given that younger players often have greater free time in which to invest in the game."

This touches a cord with me - I hate the douches, dickheads, and teenagers that ruin the gaming experience - and that's probably a sign of maturity. Haha!

I think the key take away from the research is the suggestion that teams can win matches if team mates actually know each other at some friendship based level - it seems obvious but now it's been concluded as being so:

"Both team and individual performance in Halo: Reach are improved by friendship variables and teams composed of friends, on average, win more games than teams composed of strangers. However, if overall skill correlates across friendship ties, then highly skilled groups of friends could tend to win often than groups of strangers because the skilled friends are more skilled than an average stranger"

It's probably because they don't run round betraying each other with blue stickies to the face....

This research could do with what I'm calling some 'stress testing' so Aaron is looking for more volunteers so if you're still playing Halo: Reach, check out this link and see if you can help  (I gotta admit I've dropped off multiplayer myself due to lots of campaign runs for CE, Gears and now ME3).

Here's the full findings of Friends FTW: Friendship and competition in Halo: Reach. Also check out Aaron's blog, Structure and Strangeness.

March 10, 2012

Really Excellent Donna Troy cosplay

donna troy cosplay

Here's some sweet Donna Troy cosplay action from Gillykins. Donna Troy, Wonder Girl and Teen Titan is gonna hog tie you!

Halo Fan Art

I found some Halo fan art on the google thingy. Enjoy.

They.. came..from...behind
Brute vs Elite

A brutal end

Nice Emile Skull artwork

Three's a crowd
Were is so easy
ODST soldier

March 7, 2012

Masses of ME3 Concept Art

ME3 is out and looks damn pretty. How did it get so pretty? In part, awesome design work so here's some concept art for Mass Effect - I have no idea who drew these so cannot give credit to the artist directly but credit is sure due to the designers for their tremendous efforts.

City of Ships

Cover me!

On the deck of the Normandy 
Reaper invasion on Earth 

Time to dance

March 5, 2012

This is what the Master Chief looks like in Halo 4!

master chief halo 4

Someone must have needed the Master Chief because he's awake! Here's an in game campaign shot of The Big Green Guy in Halo 4. That's right Halo 4! How do we know it's legit? This guy said it is and we think he's a chap you can trust.

Want another picture of the Chief? Seeing as I'm a generous guy, here's another screenshot of the Chief! Enjoy with my sincere compliments!

john 117 battle rifle halo

March 4, 2012

Should prequels for trilogies be made?

Should prequels for trilogies be made? Are they a cash grab or valid forms of gaming? 

It seems inevitable given the success of Gears of War 3 that there will be another game in the series. It's too good an intellectual property to just let things end because the cash cow can surely be milked some more.

Despite things ending very well for Sera and the few COG soldiers left in the final campaign, there's still a lot of baggage running in between the ears of Marcus Fenix and it would seem a fourth Gears game could mine some of that baggage.  And that baggage is Emergence Day. The day the grubs clambered out from holes and burrows and caverns to start a devasting war.

So the question is, will Gears of War 4 be a prequel?

The second question then becomes should it really be a sequel? Dos the quality of the game suffer? Should video games be prequels?

Look at this list, what games stand out? Deus Ex, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands? Hardly games that are household names but each servicing their little leaky corny keg of a corner of the world well enough. Perfect Dark Zero was a handy enough game... right? Perhaps not enough of a success to make a fourth Gears game a prequel?

There is an elephant in the room however and that's a wee game called Halo: Reach.

Let's take a look at that game. It was the story of the beginning of the end for a Planet, with new characters and a plot that did its best to tie the plot into a very well established game canon and mythos. Halo: Reach can be considered a successful prequel.

So Bungie Studios made the prequel work following the conclusion of an epic trilogy story arc. And perhaps they had to because Microsoft was moving on with the Halo series regardless so if Bungie had one game left to make in the Halo series, a prequel was ideal as the game makers didn't need to come up with a three game story arc.

Halo: Reach is the stand out prequel that worked and given that Gears of War is on a comparable scale of success and commercialism with the Halo franchise, it seems reasonable that Gears would follow Halo's path.

And if Gears does follow that path, one can only imagine how that might inspire the makers of Mass Effect. Scared much?

Extra for Experts: I actually doubt ME4 will be a prequel as Mike Gamble has said to keep your saved games from ME3 - it would be paradoxical (is that a word?) if decisions already made influenced the game play of a prequel. Edit - turns out Andromed did not incorporate saved games and it was a bit of a lame game if you ask me!

Extra for Experts 2: Who really cares about the cash grab arguments - all games are cash grabs - programmers and companies that employ programmers do it to make money. Sequels are just obvious cash grabs.

Hey, do you brew beer? Do you check the ph of your water with a kit? You really should as it can improve beer quality.

March 2, 2012

How ME3's lead writer writes

Mac Walters who is the lead writer for Mass Effect three has given a pretty sweet interview to the Wall Street Journal on the writing effort that goes into a game like Mass Effect. I liked his answer to the followin question about balancing all the tricks and treats the game has to offer. 

WSJ: One of the things that’s interesting about Mass Effect 2 is that your gameplay choices affect how many of the characters survive during the final battle—how well you prepare the ship, whether you complete certain character quests, things like that. How do you balance the completionist tendency of a gamer who wants to complete every quest, collect every treasure, fill every bar up 100 percent—with the need for drama and tension in the story itself?

Mac Walters: Part of what you have to start to do as a writer in those instances—and it’s not just with the big choices, it happens with the smaller choices that you encounter on a mission—is that you want a certain dramatic tension in it. With multiple outcomes, we know the drama isn’t going to be as high or as peaked in certain instances of that, but that’s the joy and the curse of giving player agency.

You have to come around to the side of the player. So, I would love it if you played it this way and experienced it this way, but you are choosing to pursue this path. And that’s your choice—clearly that’s what you want your game experience to be. And so we want to craft that player experience to be as whole-heartedly appropriate to the choices that you’ve made. So in those cases maybe the tension does come down, but maybe there’s more of a sense of heroism in it, the sense that, “Wow, I really did pull out all the stops and made this work perfectly.


You might have seen Walters talk about the decision you took regarding the fate of the Rachni Queen in the original ME game....

Avengers Cosplay Pictures

sexy captain america girl
Play time for Captain America

Here's some cosplay pictures of the heroes that can be found in the Avengers movie and comics - Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Nick Fury and the hammer man himself, Thor.

Iron Man and his bikini loving Ironettes
Cute couple?
black widow
Black Widow sure loves her leather
Where's the Hulk?
Hawkeye and The Black Widow
Nick Fury and some red heads
Wide eyed Thor
An effective trio
Nick Fury and War Machine
Beer o'clock and double vision for this Captain America!

You wouldn't like him when he's angry