April 18th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Sometimes you find love in weird places like the middle of a totalitarian cultist takeover.

Far Cry 5 is yet another example of how all the mainline Ubisoft games are getting rather homogenous. With the ability to hire a somewhat competent squad AI to help you fight the enemies, you’d be forgiven if you just briefly glanced at the game and thought you were playing Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Despite all of this, Ubisoft is making headway in all their sandbox games by giving the NPCs some actual characteristics and traits. Indeed, on top of the 9 companions you can receive in the game, you can also talk to the many many NPCs you find during missions, strongholds, and sometimes random encounters. They have interesting things to tell you, and a lot of them can be hired to fight by your side. These “guns for hire” do more than just that, they have unique skills that come with them, that they unlock when they score a certain number of kills.

While progressing through the game, I cycled around a lot of the specialty companions that had some things to say, especially to each other, but I found that their range of dialog grew short pretty fast. That was not the case for Diana Frye, an NPC I met in Fall’s End (I think) much earlier in the game. Despite going through the motions and finding new people with better special abilities, I was compelled to call on her to come fight with me instead. She had a large array of things to say and even addressed several other companions by name, which was the first thing that surprised me. There I was traveling with a random stranger in the game and just had another character join the squad, and she spoke to that character as if they were best friends. It was outrageous, never before have I seen so much work put into a character whom in any other game would just have been a nameless, faceless, disposable grunt.

She allowed me to keep extra ammo and was capable of reviving fangs for hire, sure, those were her “special abilities” but I was far more interested in taking her around and hearing her take on the local sights. Despite having some randomized catchphrases that plague all NPCs in every video game ever, I was continually taken aback when she mentioned some of the places I‘d walk through. I passed through a summer camp and she mentioned going there when she was a kid. When we ended up on the set for Blood Dragon, she enthusiastically stated how excited she was for the movie. And of course, the one-off “I think I peed myself” never got old. It really didn’t, it was funny EVERY SINGLE TIME. The only time I ever got sick of her was that she has only 1 or 2 lines to say about Peaches the cougar and she was repeating them ad nauseum to the point where I did have to send her away. But I legitimately felt bad about doing it. After I found Cheeseburger the bear, I brought her back into the fold.

I met many more named, fully developed NPCs as I tore my way through Hope County, but Diana was my favorite. She was the most adorable hillbilly in Montana and she was MINE. I don’t know what it was that made her so special. Maybe it was the accent, I do tend to fall for cute accents even when they’re possibly meant to sound “stupid.” You can meet characters who don’t have an accent, and you can meet characters who sound far more serious and grim. But Diana was not a grim character by any stretch. As I blew up the cult’s vehicles and heard her unironically shout “USA! USA! USA!” I grew rather fond of the character. I went through far more ordeals with this character than any other companions in the game and loved every second of it.

I did have another female NPC follow me around for a bit just to make sure the dialog wasn’t the same for everyone. Indeed it wasn’t, although I’m sure if I talked to enough NPCs I would eventually find the same voice actor saying the same lines on a differently skinned character. But that didn’t matter because I met Diana first and she and I racked up the kills together. I really appreciate the trouble Ubisoft went through to make Hope County a sandbox that has felt more full of life than I had in other games in their whole library of open worlds. This actually makes me want to go back and play other newer Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed Origins and Ghost Recon Wildlands just so I can see if they’ve done the same to those games.

And that was it, whenever she rode shotgun with me in a vehicle as rolled up to the next target event, I was actually happy to have her around, and she’s really not even my type as far as looks go. She said funny things and was effective in combat, respective of when I’d go in stealth and then switch to going loud. There are NPCs who don’t know how to stealth, but she did. I’m still just so surprised to have an enriched experience with one of the extras. I mean, later on, I did meet a cute and quiet sharpshooter, but I stayed loyal to Diana, just as my Commander Shepard stayed loyal to… oh wait, I left Liara for Jack, nevermind. But, Diana Frye is my bae for Far Cry 5 tho. I strongly suggest experimenting in the game, and if you look hard enough, your new red-blooded rootin’ tootin’ point-and-shootin’ American waifu will find her way to you. Alright, I’m off to purchase more 2B boob mousepads and hug pillows.

I did stay loyal to Jack, just so you know.

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March 26th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Mass Effect: Andromeda is a third person shooter with RPG elements, developed by BioWare and published by EA Games. The fourth in the series, Andromeda sought to avoid the troublesome ending of third game by setting it in an entirely new galaxy. Core gameplay revolves around making planets habitable for life while occasionally dealing with a new, galaxy-wide menace. This new game came out a whopping 5 years after the last entry, and did it do a good job?


No, it didn’t. You would think that for a game hyping up a 4K display optimization might mean some pretty mind blowing graphics, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. You may have seen some of the memes online about the trouble with the facial animations, and they are truly a disaster. Occasionally, some of the textures look decent at best, but there wasn’t a single moment in my time with the game where anything blew my mind. At no point did I have to pause and look at the scenery because on top of being not that technically impressive, a lot of the designs for the colonies and locations you spend your time at define the term “bland”.

STORY: 2/2

Possibly the only thing that really keeps the game going is it’s attention to the plot. Many characters can be talked to, even if they don’t have a quest to give you, making it feel like you’re doing more than just running errands for people who aren’t doing anything (though that does still happen). A lot of the plot threads lead to some very interesting conclusions and for the most part, if you give yourself the time to get to know your ship crew, you may be able to like about half of them. Yes, it is true that it has a slew of characters who are neither compelling or interesting, but it’s outweighed by the sheer scale of people you can meet in your travels. Additionally, and this is becoming common in today’s jumbo-sized games, a majority of the side quests yield more interesting stories than the main campaign offers.

AUDIO: 1/2

The original score for this game is largely forgettable and sometimes irritating. There’s this sort of screechy tone that finds its way into some of the more ambient tracks in the game while you are on the ship or a hub location. But that said, the weapons all sound unique enough to make them not only feel diverse, but also very powerful. Also, something should be said of the galaxy map. The traveling noise you get when you select a planet and hear a loud, bass heavy roar as your fly across the stars never gets old. If they had made exploring the galaxy more compelling, I’d be doing it all the time.


It’s popular now for games to allow the player to “play it your way” and that’s fine. But when you design a game to do so, you have to make sure all the elements work. Andromeda doesn’t quite grasp this, as it seems combat and inventory have been largely downgraded back to the system from the first Mass Effect game, which is mistakes 1-10 of this shipwreck. If you want to play the game like other titles and stick to cover shooting, the spotty auto-cover system is unsatisfying at best and a waste of time at its worst. Stealth is sometimes offered for certain enemy types but feels completely impossible to actually execute. For the most part you have to stick to a frenetic run and gun approach, and that would be fine if that too wasn’t also full of issues, primarily including input lag. It’s hard to make a game with jump jets boring, but the lack of interesting locations and overuse of the equally boring nomad ATV really turn this game into a snooze fest.

FUN: 1/2

As I got further and further into the game, I got more and more frustrated. You can start doing quests on one planet and go to another, but the sheer amount of quests that have you go from location to location and the confusing layout of the journal eventually wear down on you. Yet I kept coming back to this game and did roughly 90% of everything on offer, and that’s only because it is still a Mass Effect game. It’s just unfortunate that many elements stand in the way of your enjoyment. Enemy #1 of your enjoyment is the extremely numerous amount of bugs and glitches that hamper your immersion. Bethesda gets a bad rap for having bugs you can encounter roughly every hour after launch, but with Andromeda, it was almost as if they were trying to be competitive for “buggiest game” with glitches galore, practically every TEN MINUTES.

This game feels unfinished and rushed out the door. From a design standpoint, Mass Effect: Andromeda has regressed back to Mass Effect 1 with garbage combat, inventory, and quest tracking. It’s only the story and how much you can tolerate the amount of filler in between doing interesting things that will keep you playing this title. That’s a real shame, as I was looking forward to this, and to say that this game is a critical failure is the biggest understatement in gaming for 2017 so far. Galaxy map traveling was on point though, can we just have an exploration only game? I’d play that.

SCORE: 4/10

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