Once upon a time, I was a blogger and amateur modder here at ModDB. Now I return, to report on the latest and greatest mods, indies, and anything inbetween. I am a cynic Christian. I try very my best to be honest, no matter the cost. I am now a freelance games journalist but I still do an indie dev gig on the side.

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I'd like to take a minute before you read to explain some things. First, Mass Effect: Survivors is going to be a bigger undertaking than Denial of Self, so as a result it will take longer to write. Second, I am not perfect on Mass Effect canon so while I will consult the wiki whenever I have a debate,but keep in mind that this isn't any official material thus I probably will make a mistake or two. Third, I chose the characters I did for the story because they won't have any "wait, but that isn't how they acted in the game" moments -- or worse, a Dave Fiolini-esc "oh, so that last minute change is why" cascade. Alright, now that I've got that list over with:

You see the sky coming at me, rushing like an ocean. It's pretty for a minute, then the gunship turns towards me as it descends in free fall below. They're not spending a lot of time trying to aim, just shooting like a bunch of fucking idiots.

You keep up a mass effect field as you glide closer to the hulking mess. You've already got one engine torn off and the other is barely hanging on. One of the soldiers inside opens a door and starts trying to fire his rifle. You rip it away then embed it in his skull. He plows into the other door, opening it. The agents inside fly out as the air sucks them out.

You coil up and brace yourself on the side, glancing upwards. Three more gunships are on your tail, and they're charging to fire. You smash down on the nearest armor plating, then rip it off of its bolts.

You glance at the nearest gunship, trying to line up the shot. As its main cannons open up you throw the plating into its cockpit. You can see the blood spill out from the pilot as the ship suddenly loses altitude and begins falling.

You make a quick jump, using the crashing ship to reach the next one. You tap the cockpit window as you climb up it. The batarian pilot curses to himself.

As you reach the top you take in a quick breath. Then you plow in the biotics like a drill, ripping through the roof. As you drop down through the guards start firing. You send them all crashing into the walls like toys and rip a gun out of their captain's hand. You shoot him twice, once for each eye, then shoot a third shot into the pilot's head.

You rip the pilot out of the seat then set the gunship on a new course. Fuel reserves are low, so you've only get one shot. As you jump back out of the hole, you can see the other gunship. It's just hovering there, silent. You watch it warily as you get closer, the alarms for your present ride going off as the fuel turns to nothing.

The preview for Mass Effect: Survivors ends here.

Alright, on to the PS Vita impressions. I haven't gotten to play any full Vita games (I'd need to actually own a Vita for that), but I have gotten to play the demo kiosks in Target and Gamestop. In my experience, the best one so far has been Gravity Daze. It's controls are slick and handle well, the gravity bending is -far- better than Dark Void or similar games. I don't even care if the protagonist does seem to get her powers from a Gravity Shifting Cat (seriously, I think that's its in-game name). The boss battle in the demo actually requires some basic thinking, the air-based strikes handle well, and you can even just toss citizens around if you want.

Next is Escape Plan. I can't entirely recommend or condemn Escape Plan -- it's flaw is its main hook. I know that sounds confusing but let me put it this way -- it feels like this was a game meant for the iPhone, but got bought up for the Vita. Controlling the back pad is confounding and the puzzles almost always require either prior knowledge or dying repeatedly. In most games I wouldn't deeply mind that (Stealth Bastard did the same thing), but in Escape Plan there's already long enough loading times.

I'm going to take a minute and just say: what is with these load times? Only Mass Effect 3 on my PS3 takes -this- long to load. I can load Dead Space Mobile and start playing it in the time it takes a Vita game to get to the main menu for a game. This is my only real issue (besides the back-screen touch pad) with the hardware itself, but its a pretty big one since the main shtick is that you have instant on-the-go gaming. Okay, back to the games.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss barely held my interest, as once again there is a clear example of Uncharted trying to not be what it is. The demo doesn't have any shooting, the platforming's not exactly anything new, and the whole new addons like a camera just feel shoved in for the sake of being shoved in. Also it doesn't help that the graphics actually looked inferior to Gravity Daze, Little Deviants, and Escape Plan.

The worst game demo I played though was, unfortunately, ModNation Racers: Roadtrip. The graphics are severely lacking in polish and don't look much different from the PSP version of the game. Instead of just making the game's UI center around touch controls, it feels like all the of touch controls are just put in at awkward points. Sure you can draw a track and raise and lower terrain, but I was also expecting to be able to drag my character's eyes around his head as I wished, or being able to adjust the size of things like I would adjust the size of a browser page on an iPhone. Touching -is- technically involved in selecting things, but it just all feels very unpolished and hastily put together. I also can't forget how the game actually slowed to about 7 FPS to 10 FPS in a test race. Not an online race. Not a campaign race. Not a quick race. A test race in the editor, which makes the least demands of the game since power ups are disabled and all the AI does is run back and forth around the circuit. At first I was planning on it being my first purchase when I get a Vita, now I don't plan on even downloading/buying it. I've got copy of the PSP version of ModNation racers for free from the PSN being knocked out, and I'm betting I'll get far better performance out of it.

Little Deviants I only got to try a short while, but it seems like it'll be good for if you want a tutorial or something casual to play. However I think that once you get a handle on the controls via the game, you'll have little reason to return as it doesn't have that addictiveness that games like Cut The Rope have.

I have yet to try Wipeout or the sports game demos, but considering I wasn't a fan of the Wipeout demo on my PS3, I don't have high hopes. Apparently though, FIFA does a good job of adjusting to the PS Vita, so I'll give it a shot.

The following could be considered a rant, so you don't have to read it if you don't want to:

Okay, so for those of you who don't know, Starhawk is the sci-fi sequel to the game Warhawk, a PS3 exclusive. Well, the beta for the new game has been "open" to Playstation Plus users for... I don't know, like nearly a month or more now? They finally have opened it up to regular users, and I thought "Great, now I can see third person shooting mixed with RTS management!". Oh wrong I was.

First, I download it. Then I start it up "sorry, you need to update". And I sigh, but ya know, this is becoming a common thing and it -is- a beta. Then there's a EULA. -Then- there's another fricking update, after I just spent about 15 minutes updating it before then! And after that, ANOTHER EULA! After that, I actually get to load the game. Not only is there no tutorial, but every time (and I easily tried about 5-7 times in a row) I connected to a game, either it would put me in at the very last second or "Connection Lost". Now I'm trying more these days to be patient with games, otherwise I never would have finished Uncharted 2 or be making progress in Heavenly Sword -- but COME ON SONY! WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?! SERIOUSLY! YOU NEED TWO EULA FOR A BETA?! AND WHY ARE THERE TWO SEPARATE PATCHING SERVICES -- DO THEY WANT US TO HAVE REDUNDANT CODE?

So yeah, unless in the next day or so, when I dare to try again, the game actually PLAYS, don't expect me playing or buying or reviewing Starhawk. This is just silly, from the fact Sony seems to think "Open Beta" means "exclusive timed demo", to the ridiculousness of TWO EULA smacks to the face for doing -them- a service by testing a game. Bah.

The rant stops here. The latest story post should be coming up in the next few days, keep your eyes peeled.

Okay, this next part will be a little less official and focus on a few things: Differences between PC and PS3, specific things about the multiplayer experience, and some observations about the singleplayer portion.

One of the odd things is that while Singleplayer handled better on PC than PS3, the multiplayer genuinely feels better on PS3 than PC. This isn't to say PC is crap or anything, but it's clear the MP was being designed for consoles. The PS3 does have slightly fewer FPS, slightly longer load times, and some odd changes to the UI (granted there's one little thing in the UI that I am confounded they didn't include in the PC version). The PC version isn't just a port or anything, the controls just feel a little bit more spread out unnecessarily. Oddly, tactical mode is available (although it doesn't freeze time) in MP on PC, yet not on PS3, even though the PC has more open hot keys. Besides that, there's not really any notable difference

Now, to the multiplayer. Some classes feel perfectly balanced, like the Quarian Engineer, the Human Vanguard, or the Salarian Infiltrator. However, others seem just plopped in as quickly as possible, such as the Human Soldier. I've yet to see a Krogan or Turian unlocked yet in the multiplayer, and only once saw an Asari in play. The fact is that everyone can work within the means of their abilities, but some ability sets are a lot more versatile. Human Vanguards, with fast regen and little to no weapons, can clobber enemies just with biotics. A Quarian Engineer has access to both Cryo and Incinerate abilities, and there's even a 6th tier upgrade for Incinerate that makes it deal 100% more damage if you use Cryo. Meanwhile, the soldier just has Adrenaline (which now just gives a damage boost in MP), Impact Shot, and Frag Grenade. Now I will admit a soldier can be handy (they can take down an Atlas within a minute if they regen their powers fast enough), but it feels like they just assigned the powers without really fleshing them out. This is just my opinion, so don't let that stop you from trying the soldier class if that's your plan.

Also on the multiplayer note is the combat AI. I realize that Bioware isn't Monolith (the sheer fact we've been waiting this long for Mass Effect to feel like a fun shooter experience is testament to it all), but I actually only see slight improvement in the game's AI over Mass Effect 2 (i.e. they do more than just either suicidally throw a krogan at you or hop up and down from behind cover). The sniper enemy AI is incredibly dumb, not able to comprehend how to fight in any sort of close-quarters fashion. The ninja enemy type feels way too over powered considering more than one of them can spawn at the same time. The Atlas also feels sometimes unbalanced depending on what classes you've got in your squad. The general feel is that the AI finally can handle basic combat, but I bet even TF2 bots could do a better job than the ME3 AI. At least they've got the advantage of large numbers in most waves, and the combat engineers actually make the most sense (and are the most strategically challenging enemy when they've got a sentry turret setup).

Last I wanted to make this small note: was it just me or did Mordin and/or Wrex seem to have a different voice actor and/or personality than they did in ME2?

Edit Edit Edit: Okay, there are still some issues, but in-edit mode it refuses to let me fix them. I apologize, and if this happens again with the text I will contact ModDB support.

(The following is based upon experience on the PC version of the game. The PS3 experience will be in the next part)

I entered Mass Effect 3's demo with a hope to see some new story insights, maybe get to toy around with the new upgrade system, and get to see if the multiplayer was any good. Now those of you who were hoping to avoid spoilers -- have no fear, they actually show -very- little singleplayer for a Mass Effect game. The only really interesting bits pertain to how the combat finally feels fast and responsive (dare I say this actually is starting to feel like a Role Playing Shooter rather than a shooter with ham-fisted RPG elements or an RPG with ham-fisted shooter elements), and how apparently you can now pick up new pieces of armor while scouring the battlefield. The annoying hacking mini-games are gone (thank God!), but dialogue also seems a lot more "to the point" -- I don't really remember any gray area decisions being available at any valid point. Also, Shepard more often now just speaks as the writers want her (or him) to rather than out of choice. This is probably because the sections available in the demo are very streamlined, and don't leave much open to dialogue discussions. I just hope this doesn't hurt the story in other levels. Also, it's been stated by Bioware that they want there to be a
smaller team for Shepard in ME3. So far, Wrex appears to not be a candidate for companion, so it appears only Garrus, Vega, Liara, and Kaidan/Ashley will be permanent squad members. Here's hoping Tali, Thane, and Legion at least get to join your squad for a few missions. Final note on SP: there's a serious glitch going on presently that will lock out my tactical controls (aka, that panel that appears when you hold down shift), for no reason. It only does it in the second portion of the game, and roughly at the same amount of time. Thanks to intelligent AI and hot keys I was mainly able to still perform well enough, but this issue is nearly big as that one glitch on Horizon in ME2 that would cause companions to disappear after getting stuck on geometry. Now, for the big controversy: Multiplayer. I realize a lot of Mass Effect fans are very hardset on only playing by themselves. Hardcore SP people, have no fear, Bioware's already stated multiple times that you don't have to
play the multiplayer to have your perfect ending. Now, on to the matter at hand. The multiplayer is genuinely a mixed bag. I like playing as Vanguard because, when I carry only one pistol, I my abilities regenerate faster than usual and I can continually use my biotics to beat my enemies to a pulp. Similarly most classes can play this way, and have a very good time. Co-op maxes at four players, but at least on Bronze difficulty you can play with just two people (heck if you're good enough you can even go solo and see how long you last. Farthest I've gotten is wave 7, and there's 11 waves in all (the last one is honestly the most frustrating as it seems like a last ditch effort by the developers to kill the players before the rounds end). Classes are balanced well enough, although for some reason the soldier can only carry two weapons (which makes little sense imo, as their powers center around weapons used in variety). Also, know how Bioware keeps toting that you can pick up weapons on
the fly now in singleplayer? Yeah, don't expect that functionality in the multiplayer. You've got what you've got, that's it. Period. Also honestly the weapon balancing seems a bit off. I manage to slaughter my foes with only a heavy pistol (granted I have the Phalanx pistol, but still come on, it's a pistol!). AR and Sniper rifles both seem to just be bigger, louder, sometimes faster reloading versions of pistols. The shotgun remains a useless weapon, and your only heavy weapon is a launcher that you have to unlock ammo for via the worst part of the MP. What's that? you ask? Oh it's portion where as you complete objectives in multiplayer, you get "credits" to buy "packs" What are packs? Oh they're these things that are the only way to get new weapons, characters, mods, or generally anything outside of powers in the progression system! By default, you can only be human (and for some reason Gender is now equivocal to Species, as one gender for humans is always locked out). Asari and Drell fit two classes, Salarians and Quarians fit two other classes, and Turians and Krogans fit two other classes.
Believe it or not Krogans, not Salarians or Quarians, get to be Sentinels. I don't know who decided this but clearly whoever did wasn't paying attention to the fiction. As a result of having to gamble for new characters, almost every in multiplayer is playing as human, or as whatever alien they are lucky enough to unlock. Unfortunately for me, the class I wanted on PC (Which is the platforming I'm getting the game on) I only have unlocked on the PS3 (that class being Quarian Engineer). Now if EA allows an alternative method for unlocking, please someone let me know because so far I've seen no sign of a way to do it. Considering how big a deal it was for people to finally play aliens, the fact EA and Bioware decided to hold them back further is just, frankly,shit. Now this isn't to say I disapprove of the multiplayer. It takes getting used to, but it's a good training grounds for combat in the singleplayer and it also performs well enough, and includes two maps, so you'll be able to play
the MP for a long time. Like the BF2142 MP demo, and the Halo Trial, I expect many people will be playing ME3's MP portion in the demo, for many days to come. I recommend you at least try playing it until you've got a character to level 7-9. If you still aren't feeling it, either put it aside or give another class a shot (transitioning between different MP characters is surprisingly smooth and easy).

“Hello?” you ask, the light still blinding. You realize you're lying on sand. It's not hot, it's not cold. You're naked, and as your eyes adjust a little you realize you're by yourself.

“Hello?!” you scream out, looking about at dunes of sand. “FOR GODSAKE SOMEONE!?”

There's not even a breeze, it's just piles of sand. You are about ready to just lay down and let go when you see another blinding flash, this time from across the dunes.

You struggle and start walking towards it, an arm up to protect your eyes.

As you get nearer, you can see something in the distance. It's black against the white. It's a person, you think. As you try to get closer, suddenly you feel pain shoot up through your leg. You look down, and see two spear like pieces of rock sticking through.

And then, suddenly you're back on the Sprawl.

Radikov is off his feet, his nose broken and he's sprawled in a corner, gasping for air. You've got screeching pain going from your foot, and you look down to see a Unitology-engraved knife sticking out, wedged in a weak spot.

“...you gonna take that out or what?” Norton asks, her voice seems off edge.

She's got her plasma cutter trained on Radikov's head, ready to split it open like an egg. He doesn't look so clean cut and keen now.

“I gotta hand it to you Vandal – you found someone more fucked in the head than you. That takes a special amount of luck...” Radikov sputters, wiping the blood off his lips.

“Give me one more reason to shoot you Tyler, I dare you. You made me unleash these things on the Sprawl, you made me open up the public sector, so what's one more excuse to hate you?” Norton says, inching closer, her finger hovering just in front of the trigger.

“Alright. Shoot me and the transport I've got setup is rigged to blow. My RIG needs to stay online and O-K for the ship to launch properly. My boss will be here any minute, so if you don't want him to puncture your skulls in, I'd suggest getting the hell away from me and maybe he'll consider letting you at least have a few med packs for before you die from the impending explosion,” Tyler Radikov says.

“What impending explosion?” you ask. “The ship's?-”

“A certain fellow is going to cause a Convergence event. As much as I'd like to be present to see the souls ascend, the Convergence event also cleanses anything nearby. We need to be out of here before Mr. Clarke undoes the Director's foolish attempts at stopping Ascension,” Tyler.

“So I stopped the core overload for nothing. That's just great...” Norton says. “I've got an idea. And you better do what I say, Tyler. I've seen how those things make people 'ascend'. I know how to make sure you -never- get to, how does that sound?” Tyler glares at her, slowly rising.

Norton grabs him by the arm, and rips open his wrist piece to the RIG. She pulls out a wire and plugs it into your suit. The rest of the RIG link syncs in, and you can see where 4-2795 is.

“Great, now I've got the ship's location and I can see a route that will take is past 4-2795. By the time he figures out we have Radikov we'll be off the station,” you say.

You make sure 4-2795 won't know by disabling Tyler's personal communicator. Then you rip out the wire and activate the RIG link.

“You'll never stop us. You both know that. Ascension is the future of humanity! It's our destiny!” Tyler starts to yell as Norton pushes Tyler with a gun to his back.

You take point, a line gun in hand.

“You're really lucky I'm out of stasis right now Tyler, or I'd freeze your mouth shut and just drag you to the shuttle,” you say, watching carefully for any signs of more threats.

“Is that so?” Tyler asks.

“Norton would probably just cut your tongue out. She's got a plasma saw, it has a precision mode,” you say, and you grin to yourself when Tyler falls silent after that.

You start hearing a clanking noise in the vent above.

“Move!” you yell, shoving them forward as you keep your gun trained on the vent.

It's silent for a minute, then the air filters start running again. As you breath a sigh of relief, one of those things rips itself out of a wall fan. It's got both of its legs fused together, like a whip. You shoot at the whip, but it just takes the shot. You then fire the next shot into the arms and head, and they slice off clean.

The freak just continues growling and jumps at you blindly. You roll out of the way and it slams into a wall. It gurgles, unbalanced with only one arm left. You fire a timed-charge and run after Norton and Tyler.

As you approach them, Norton's already raising a hand as you see that Tyler's rig is at yellow now.

“There was another one of those things following us. I cut it off but it gave him a stab in the leg. At least now he can't just run off,” Norton said.

“Ever the optimist I see...” you say. “We're just a quick run from the ship, lets get moving.”

As you approach the launch bay, Norton pushes Tyler towards the ship.

“Where's the explosive, Tyler-” Norton begins to say as 4-2795 exits the ship, his rifle shouldered. Walt is right behind him, a seeker rifle loaded and ready.

“Get to cover now!” you yell, ducking just as 4-2795 opens fire.

Tyler runs past, heading towards the ship. 4-2795 keeps fire focused on you and Norton, Walt occasionally chiming in with a shot from his seeker rifle.

“Tyler you better be fucking worth it! These two are becoming a serious pain in my ass!” 4-2795 says, firing of a grenade shot from his rifle. “We're not leaving until I know they're dead...”

“Norton!” you say, muting your stereo speakers.

“I'm all ears if you have a plan,” Norton replies quickly.

“Throw some ripper blades at them, I'll try and pick off 4-2795's head! Watch out for the seeker rifle's targeting beam!” you yell.

As Norton reloads her ripper and begins to fire the blades off without the gravity lock, you roll and start opening fire with your rifle.

4-2795 gets behind a cargo canister and sends another grenade your way. Walt nearly picks off your head but you move out of the way just in time.

You crouch down and huddle past some explosive canisters. You pause for a minute, looking at them. The idea forms in your mind, and you pray that idiot Tyler isn't anywhere near 4-2795.

“Norton, I'm going to throw a fuel tank their way, is Tyler anywhere near them?” you ask over the comm.

“Not that I can see!” Norton yells, guns firing off in the background.

“Alright, then keep your head down!” you say, activating your telekinesis module.

The canister slowly raises – it's wobbling because you never took the damn time to learn how to use the module. Well, no time like the present to learn, aye?

You slowly rise up, making sure they haven't moved. Walt's targeting beam suddenly glows on your helmet.

“NOTHING PERSONAL!” you yell, firing it off straight at him.

Walt screams as he's burnt to cinders, and 4-2795 is sent flying – and not in one piece. You can hear him cursing and in pain as he lands on his back on a large crate.

You rise up, and you can see Norton's already at the ship's doorway.

“I think Tyler's inside... be quiet...” Norton says, stepping forward slowly.

She barely makes a noise, like a cat. At the first noise, she raises her gun. Then she curses and relaxes her grip a little.

“It's clear – he must have run off. Probably heading to the nearest emergency escape pod bay. I'll see if I can find the explosives he's got rigged to the ship,” Norton says, taking off her helmet and wiping the sweat from her face before putting it back on.

“I'll check and make sure this bird will fly,” you say, heading to the cockpit.

As you slide into the pilot seat, you access the flight manifest. The navigational charts are preset, you won't even have to pilot the ship. It looks like it'll be headed to some spot in the Hades Gamma Cluster. A refueling station.

You see a bleep on the emergency comm notifier. You activate it, and a life feed comes in from government sector. The quarantine seals... are broken? Some catastrophic failure of the power system – RIGs are going offline left and right.

“Norton, we need to get moving now, bomb or not I think that 'Convergence' thing is going to happen soon! I just got a feed from-” you say, rising from your seat as you realize who's walking up behind you.

“I really am starting to hate you,” 4-2795 says, firing Walt's seeker rifle at you. Two shots pierce your shoulder, the first one is stopped by armor, the second breaks muscle tendons and bones.

You slam into the seat, and fall to the floor, pain almost blinding. 4-2795 shoves your head so your looking at him. He's only got one arm left, but he doesn't need the other for a point blank shot.

“I don't know who you are, but you are a real fucking pain in my-” a javelin suddenly goes through his mouth, and he falls over, gagging.

“Shit, these Markerheads are as bad as the things their Markers make...” Norton says, dropping the javelin gun. “Are you okay?”

“Fuck no... I think he just ruined my left arm,” you say. “The ship's set to auto-pilot, so we're good to go...” You grit your teeth as another wave of pain goes across your body. When it makes you twitch, the pain gets worse.

“I'll get you a med pack. Just, try to sit back and relax. We're done with this damn station...” Norton says, activating the ship's launch cycle.

She runs off, heading to the lower deck. As she does, you see movement from the shadows. For a second, you think its one of those monsters... but then you see it's something worse..

“Shh...” Tyler says, a pistol in his hand. “I just need to get to the station, then I'll be outta your hair. This will be our little secret...”

You're too weak to speak as he slips into a storage compartment. Norton comes back up and leaves her ripper by the compartment door, pulling out a med pack.

“Alright, time to be done with this shit...”

Radikov to base. I'm en route, comin' home. Sabotage execution is complete.”

Originally I intended to do the last episode of Denial of Self next week, but you readers get it early for making 540 visits in one day! 540 visits! You have my thanks, readers. I hope you all enjoyed a little trip to the Sprawl. I always felt Dead Space Mobile ended like it was missing the last chapter for its story, and now it has one. I have attempted to make this story as canonical as possible, and if anyone noticed any errors then feel free to let me know. Also, feel free to speak your piece about the story itself. I'm going to be busy for the next few days but if any of you want feel free to even suggest another piece of fiction for me to expand or rewrite upon. I'm all ears to hear what you the readers would like to experience next.

Cheers and fairwinds,

“Who-who-” she groans, taking your hand after a moment's hesitation.

“We need to get you to the tram. 4-27', do you read me? That engineer just came out of the core, but she's hurt. I don't have enough medical packs for this,” you say into the comm. You are replied with static.

“4-27', do you copy? 4-2795, respond!” you yell, watching about nervously as the shadows seem to grow larger.

“Do you have magnetized armor? I got down here from way up there,” Norton says, pointing up to the seemingly endless tube above.

“Yeah but I just came down from the upper levels, it's going to hell up there. Do you know if there's a transport-”

Radikov, report!” you hear someone say over the comm channels. It's got encryption on it, but somehow it's coming through with only some distortion. You begin looking at the pieces of data you're getting, maybe it's another group of soldiers-

Relax boss, I'm on the move and sabatoge is complete. You lose the suits?” you hear someone reply. Well, now you know who caused this fucking mess.

I'd prefer we get out of here in one piece, Radikov. Have you got a transport setup?” the first voice ask.

Vandal's good as dead, the Director sent her on a suicide-” Radikov begins to say.

I am afraid you're wrong in that respect, Radikov. I just had to leave another man behind because they found Vandal alive! It's just me and one other soldier now. I'm going to set the cargo tram we're on to overload once we reach the coordinates I gave you. If those two idiots manage to survive that, then just shoot on sight,” you drop your gun as you hear this. 4-2795

“What is it?” Norton asks, grabbing your rifle off the floor.

“We are fucked that's what. We're on our own, period, and someone named Radikov apparently wants to kill you really badly. And I think the squad leader I came down here with is working with him!” you say, taking the rifle as she hands it to you.

“Well you made it this far, and so have I. I've got a plasma cutter, a ripper, a line gun, heck even a core extractor. We-ugh,” she grabs at her ribs as she leans against a railing. “We can get out of this, we just have to be faster than them. I take it they're making a run for it?”

“Yeah, they said about a transport.... wait, if it was my squad leader then I might still be able to use my RIG locator!” you say, activating it hastily. “Oh hell yes! Alright, saving it now.”

As it reaches 85%, the data link cuts out. Looks like 4-2795 is paying attention.

“Okay, I've got most of it. Hand me a plasma cutter clip, I should have a standard issue one in my RIG pack,” you say, turning to Norton.

Norton straps her helmet back on and her RIG syncs to yours.

“Lets show those Markerheads what they get for screwing with us.”

As you rush down the innards of the Sprawl, you keep one hand steadily tracking the locator's path, twisting and turning at more points than you'd like. At least you can use your hand out to balance the plasma cutter. Your rifle's ready in case you need it, but for some reason you feel safer with the cutter.

“So, Norton, what's with the Vandal bit?” you ask as you start heading down a long hall.

“It's a codename. The Unitologists sent me a mission, gave me a voice modifier in this helmet, and fooled me into help cause this whole fucking mess. I was supposed to be trying to fix things by helping the Director but one of the Unitologists tricked me twice. Tyler, he's probably that Radikov you said was talking to your squad leader 4-27'. The bastard got me to open up the public sector to those monsters. I've killed more of them today than you'd believe...” Norton said, her voice distorted but still understandable.

“What about you?” she asks, “What's your story?”

“I was just in the public sector before all this started. I'm usually a guard at the Concourse. 4-2795 got me stuck with his group and my day's been going to shit from there on,” you say.

“Well maybe we've finally hit rock bottom then. No where but up?” Norton said.

“I wouldn't say that-” you start to say. Then there's a crashing noise. It's far away, but it's loud. “Norton, how big do these things get?”

“As big as they can – you saw that thing in the core. There are mobile ones that aren't much smaller. We need to get going if that's what I think it was,” Norton says.

Even as you move faster, you can hear every now and then another crashing noise. The metal shakes a little now, with every crash, and you swear that smell from before is coming back stronger than ever.

As you near a docking bay, suddenly the crash comes from the level above.

“How much farther are we from their coordinates?” Norton asks as she gets her ripper out.

“We've got roughly five to three hundred meters. Hand me that line gun!” you say, grabbing as she tosses it. “This better work...”

You switch to the timed-charge mode and fire off three charges, sticking them on the floor behind you.

They explode as exit into the docking bay, and you turn just in time to see something huge fall down to the next floor, it's giant mouth screaming so loud you can barely think.

“That's only going to make it angrier!” Norton yells as the floor behind you begins to try to burst out beneath you.

“How is it moving so fast down there?” you ask as you pass empty launch pads.

“It's not alone!” Norton replies.

As you jump over the a crate, suddenly little screaming beasts spew out of the floor's holes, trying to grab onto you with razor sharp teeth.

“Get in front!” Norton yells, shoving you ahead as she fires off a blade.

She keeps it whirling behind her as you both near the exit.

“Hazardous contamination in the area. Docking bay locking down...” the overhead AI begins to drone.

You burst through closing doorway, and turn to see Norton right behind. There's more of them now, not just tiny ones. There's bodies, dead bodies, and they're as twisted up as something out of a slasher flick.

“Come on!” you yell to Norton.

She slides through, releasing the gravity lock on the blade and sending it flying into the beasts. She's barely keeping a breath.

“That lock isn't going to hold them,” Norton begins muttering to herself, backing away quickly.

“We're almost there. Should just be around this bend-” you say, following the RIG link.

As you turn, you can see a man at a doorway. He's got a gun in his hand and his other hand is on a control panel.

“Give my regards to Vandal,” Radikov says, pulling the trigger.

Everything goes white after that, you can hear a crashing noise and Norton yelling... but then nothing...

The article is awaiting permission right now, but I wanted to give you readers a note to keep your eyes peeled even before the article is approved. I've already got some images up, and I'd expect the article up today or tommorrow. Hope you all like the news, I'll be posting more stuff in the future.

Also, Denial of Self's next episode should be coming along shortly...

See ya,
Paradigm the Fallen

Original website: Stealthbastard.com

Stealth Bastard. It is very appropriately named. It is both bastardly hard at times and revolves a good bit around stealth. It's four mini-campaigns it starts you out with teach you the basics, introduce new concepts every campaign, and have varying level of challenge. I've got to be honest though, the most difficult campaigns are 2 and 3, rather than 4 and 5. Conviently, the game lets you skip up to 3 levels without playing a level, and will give you another ability to skip within each campaign with every successful mission. The gameplay itself jumps between masochistic platforming and ocassionaly stealth-centric moments (I say occasionally because really almost everything is twitch-based platforming). There's some vague allusions to something akin to the basic premise for Portal's story, but even then the story just doesn't really maintain itself. That doesn't necessarily hold the game back, but it makes the few weak attempts feel more like a frustrating reminder that we're supposedly here for some reason that the developer left out. When the game isn't pointing to its few faults, the game is really good at platforming. In the place of wall running, the game has a cliff-hanging platforming element that I wish more 2D games had (grabbing edges works in 3D, why not 2D?). In the recent few years I've played a good number of free 2D platformers, and I've got to say that Stealth Bastard is worth a download. It's not exactly going to beat out the Great Gatsby "NES" platformer ( Greatgatsbygame.com ), but it's clearly got promise. The 663 (as of this writing) free additional levels made by fans of the game certainly means you won't run out of content in this addictively masochistic platformer.

Nitpick moment Honestly the most questionable element included in the game has to be the Seeker enemy type. It's hamfisted in at the last minute and just feels like an excuse to not reuse other elements in a differing way. It's gameplay useage in downloadable levels may be more innovative, but in the main campaigns it feels unnecessary attempt at avoiding just making 3 scripted enemy paths.

Why You Should Play: Platforming is polished, Puzzles are (for the most part) Intelligent, and Graphics are Well Done. Very rewarding missions in campaigns 4-5.
Why You Shouldn't: Stealth isn't as much a focus as it could be, missions in campaigns 2 and 3 can vary in difficulty a bit too much, vague attempts at story telling are laughable at best.

I'm not going to get into how Game Informer thinks that this isn't new footage, I've just got two things to say.

1. HELL YES! Even though my main Shepard is male, this trailer strongly makes me consider making my female Shepard go through first. Also, the question remains, whether to get for PS3 or PC... I guess the demo will decide, won't it?

2. Why is it we don't get any female Shepard omni-tool CGI bit like the other trailers had with the male one? Seriously EA, it's clear you're going all out on this game, I mean this is the first Bioware game with enough human looking animations to convince some people that it is a movie. You couldn't give us that one little remaining thing? Bah..

Also, sorry for not having anything to post the past couple of days, I've been busy. I'll be making another story update to Denial of Self this coming week (if all goes according to plan).

Lastly, going to add a poll below here (you'll have to cast your vote in the comments).

Would you rather:

Jacob being a constant party member in your ME3 playthrough, no matter how hard you try to get rid of him


The idiot companion AI from the PS3 version of ME2 be the AI in ME3

You can see the crashed part of the lift now. The body from before left a bunch of blood, but there's no sign of the corpse itself. Looks like something heavy crashed down on the lift's carriage, and you'd rather not think about if someone was inside when whatever it was hit.

“Shit... what the hell did that?” a soldier asks, pointing his gun at the carriage to get some better light on it.

“Stay focused, we need to cut through Food Processing to get to the core,” 4-2795 says, releasing his magnetic lock to the wall of the shaft.

You use your jets to follow as he jumps into Food Processing, then make way for the nearest soldier to enter. The silence is aggravating, the only noise the sound of metal boots hitting the floor and a low hum from built-in computer systems.

The lights flicker every now and then as you all plod down the halls, trying to ignore bloodstains on the walls. The bodies are mostly gone, which you thank God for. The smell is still there, though. The smell is everywhere – even with your helmet seals on you'd probably still be able to smell a smidge of it.

When there's a crashing noise from around the corner, everyone's guns are up before you blink.

“You two, take point and make sure the coast is clear,” 4-2795 orders, checking the clip in his rifle as he does so.

They both nod, one crouching behind the corner. He points his rifle around the corner and glances, then gestures for the other to move ahead. The other starts making his way down the hall, rifle not even flinching.

Then the claws break out of the vent and stab him through the head and chest, his gun firing off wildly as he tries to respond before the claws twist his body round, making him go limp.

The rest of them open fire, but have to duck when the claws begin to drag the soldier's corpse into the vent. The rifle's still firing, and it fires shots your way.

As the claws and corpse vanish down the vents, the nearest soldier moves up and opens fire after it. 4-2795 quickly grabs him, keeping a good distance between the vent and the both of them.

“Pull yourself together!” he yells at the soldier.

“What the hell was that?” you yell in response.

“We don't know. Something that got in via medical. All we know is that the damn things don't die easy. If you see another, aim for the limbs. Especially the arms. We need to keep moving before more of them get here,” 4-2795 says, pushing further down the hall.

Even as you all follow, you can smell the tension amongst your allies. Whatever the hell it was that was on the Sprawl, it wasn't human. And you're all in the middle of it, with no support.

You turn to the nearest soldier and start a private comm “How many people actually made it out of medical?”

He's silent for the time being, then responds quietly “You don't want to know.”

As 4-2795 rounds another bend, you hear a squishing beneath your feet. You look down, and there's flesh sprawling across the floor. Then you notice it's half-way up the walls.

“Looks like the meat farms are overgrowing. Probably got a power spike when the government sector went into lockdown,” 4-2795 says quickly, a little too quickly. “We'll need to reach a tram that heads over to the reactor core, should be just through this meat farm bank. Everyone keep close.”

The squishing is worse than the clanking, and that smell is getting worse. 4-2795 just keeps looking straight ahead, gun ready, like he's gleefully unaware that you're all stepping through pounds of flesh. If you had just ignored him when you met you could be off station by now, probably in an evac shuttle.

“I'm picking up movement sir,” a soldier half-whispers over the comm.

“Lets keep up the pace then,” 4-2795 responds, not even flinching.

“I'm getting multiple readings now sir,” the soldier says, a little panic in his voice.

“We're nearly to the access route, keep it together!” 4-2795 says. He then stops, the flashlight on his gun highlighting a doorway. “Walt, get this open.”

As the soldier walks up, leaning his weapon against the wall, he begins accessing the command terminal. The lights begin to flicker.

“Sir, I'm getting more readings-”

“Everyone form a perimeter, weapons ready,” 4-2795 orders, keeping his eye on the hacking soldier.

“Almost got it sir,” Walt reports. “If I got a dollar for every door I've had to hack today...”

“Movement is getting closer but I'm not seeing anything,” the other soldier reports, glancing about in confusion.

“Alright, door's unlocked. Lets get-”

That's when one of the soldiers yells out. He's got arms wrapped around his leg, pulling him down. Two of the soldiers open fire, but the first one gets whipped about so much that they hit him instead. His helmet goes flying off as the arms pull him off into the dark, the last thing visible is a hand, stretched out.

4-2795 is already through the door and you run for it, and you nearly fall over when an arm stretches out for you. A hasty shot you and you severe it, ducking as 4-2795 and Walt open fire. The other soldiers are trying to fight it off, but one's even got the arms wrapping around his neck, the just keep growing in lengthy.

The last remaining one runs for the door but 4-2795 slams it shut in his face.

“Let him out-” you then see a spike pierce through the door as the soldier screams.

“He was already dead,” 4-2795 says, reloading his gun.

As Walt opens the next door, you can see the tram on the other side. It's strewn with bodies.

“I don't like the looks of this...” you can see some of the bodies aren't right. They look... rebuilt. It's like someone had grabbed them and torn their limbs every which way then tried to put them back together.

“Whether you like it or not is beyond my concern, the core is going to go off any minute and I doubt whoever sent that RIG log made it by now-” he begins to say as a loud screeching growl echos through the tram tube.

“Walt get us moving!” 4-2795 orders, pointing in one direction in the tube.

“On it sir,” and the tram starts, speeding faster than you know it's supposed to.

Another loud growl goes off, this one angrier.

“Do you think it's the engineer from before?” you ask as you and 4-2975 move to the one edge of the tram.

“Don't know, but if it is then he's picked one big bastard to pick a fight with. I haven't heard anything sound like that before-” another growl goes, and an explosion.

“Walt, how much longer till we reach the juncture?” he asks.

“Not too much longer sir, half a minute at most,” Walt says, slowing down the tram.

As you reach the juncture, 4-2795 practically flies to the door. As he enters an access code, you and Walt run down a catwalk, signs leading to the core. As you enter the main chamber, you can see not too far off someone in an engineer RIG fighting off a huge... hell you don't know what to call it. It's big, ugly, and got more puss coming out of holes than you've ever seen.

Suddenly an arm from the ceiling comes down, crushing the huge thing. The engineer whips out a plasma cutter and opens fire on its head, blowing up part of it in the process.

The thing tries to clamp its jaws around the engineer but he jumps back.

“Come on you bastard! I can do this all day!” the engineer yells. There's something off about his voice, it doesn't seem right.

“Hey!” Walt begins to say when an arm stretches out of the jaws of the beast, grabbing the engineer around the waist.

“Fuck! Shoot the thing!” 4-2795 orders, opening fire on the beast's eye.

It retreats down into the core, the engineer's helmet flying off.

“...shit, at least he killed that thing. That's got to have been what was overheating the core,” Walt says, opening up his helmet to spit. “Now what sir?”

“We should probably try and get in touch with command. They might still be able to pick us up if we hurry,” 4-2795 says.

They head back to the tram while you stay there for a minute, just looking at the giant abyss leading to the core. As you start to turn around, you can hear some coughing and a yelp.

You turn and can see the engineer. It's a woman, she's torn up a bit but somehow she just pulled herself out of there. You start looking for a way to reach from the catwalk, you've got a spare med kit and she just saved all your asses.

“Director Tiedmann, this is Vandal. It's done... I stablized the reactor. But I'm hurt. Pretty bad. Director? Anyone? Please? Please.. My name... my name is Karrie. Karrie Norton. Can anybody hear me?” she starts transmitting into the RIG.

You manage to slide down, landing on a broken computer terminal. You can hear the chips crunch beneath you as you land.

“RIG 438642 I presume?” you say, holding out a hand as you near her.