Game Tie-in Books

I finished two game tie-in books, recently. I know it seems like tie-ins are the only thing I read, first there were the Burn Notice novels, and now Mass Effect’s third novel and the Elemental novel. I do read more than that, but usually my non-game/TV related reading are trilogies or series and those are much harder for me to write about.

Mass Effect: Retribution

Let’s start with the sci-fi book. Like the previous two  novels, Retribution is written by Drew Karpyshyn who also writes the dialog for the games and it shows in the quality of both. Set sometime after the second game, Retribution picks up with most of the same characters from Ascension but puts them into a conflict that picks up from the end of the game.

Side note: I don’t think this is a prequel for Mass Effect 3. I can’t be sure but Ascension was not directly related to Mass Effect 2, except for the fact that it featured Cerberus, so I’m guessing it’s not.

As the books opens, we find that Cerberus has acquired Reaper technology and plans to test it on humans. The Illusive Man has a particular human in mind, Paul Grayson, who’s on the run for betraying Cerberus and the Illusive Man. During the course of the book, Kahlee Sanders finds out that Paul’s been abducted and enlists David Anderson to help find him and possibly take down Cerberus.

These books are a bit different from more game tie-ins that I familiar with, because they don’t involve the main protagonist from the game or ever do more than peripherally reference events in the game. Instead these books are more about filling on more of the background of the Mass Effect universe and developing some of the ancillary characters. This is nice since, if you have read them, then the world in the game is that much more alive and there are some oblique references to book events, but they’re not required reading by any means.

Destiny’s Embers

Leaving aside all of the drama around the game it’s tied to (you can Google it), I thought that Destiny’s Embers was a fun book. It’s written by Brad Wardell, whose the programmer for the game Elemental and the CEO of Stardock. So while it’s not a great book; it isn’t an awful book either. It was a fun read that kept me interested enough in the characters and plot to overlook any rough edges, and that’s not something I can say about every fantasy book I’ve picked up recently.

I would caution anyone who’s grammar sensitive that you’ll probably not enjoy this book as Brad’s style includes a frequent use of commas. This is not something that bothered me, but it is something to keep in mind. If you’re curious but not sure, then check out the except on Amazon’s site (or get the Kindle sample).

The plot itself is fairly standard epic fantasy: good versus evil. Most of the characters are either good or bad with few shades of gray. There’s a hero’s journey in search of a mythical item, a big battle scene at the climax, and an ending that sets up the game.

Elemental Limited Edition Unboxing

Controversies aside, I was excited to get my copy of the Limited Edition box for Elemental: War of Magic today. I’d already gotten my download code, so I’ve been playing, but I’ve been really looking forward to checking out the goodies that came with the physical copy. I’m a suckers for maps, so the inclusion of a nice canvas map was the main reason why I got it, and I’m extremely happy with the quality.

Quick update on the drama from last week, looks like the current 1.06 patch has corrected most of the issues that PC Gamer had.

You can see the pics here or in the slide-show below.


There were two drama’s this week that I got sick of really quickly.

The first thing was an article on Elemental by PC Gamer. Pete from Dragonchasers has already covered most of my feelings about Elemental, so I’ll leave it at that.

The second was the whole buying used games is piracy debate (and I’m using that word ironically). This whole thing was pretty off target, in my opinion. When I read Tycho’s post, I put the emphasis on the intent part of the statement and went on with my day. Then I got home and found half of the blogs in my RSS were talking about it in a completely different way from the way I understood his point. Since I’m so slow to post though, Tycho has already explained himself, so that’s that.

Moving on to more interesting stuff.

I’m reading the latest Mass Effect book, Retribution, and enjoying just as much as the prior two. This has started me jonesing to be back in that world, which is good because I still have DLC to finish. I had stopped playing halfway through the Firewalker DLC, so I finished that as well as the Kasumi missions. I was a bit disappointed that there was no real dialog on the ship with Kasumi outside of the missions, she does say some things, but she’s similar to Zaeed (which makes sense, but I was hoping for more). Her loyalty mission was still pretty fun though. I’m playing Overlord now, it’s the biggest DLC so far, and has a good mix of ground and driving sections.

I hadn’t originally planned to, buy I ended up buying SC2. Not to say that I was never going to buy it, but I had planned to wait until the sequels were out. I blame nostalgia and Twitter for my failure in self-control.

The funny thing about playing Star Craft 2, is that it has made me want to go back and play Dawn of War again. Ten years (or more) ago, when I played SC1, I’d never heard of Warhammer 40k, but now playing SC2, the similarities are is striking.

So, I’ve actually been playing a lot more DoW2 than SC2. I bought the Chaos Rising expansion during the last Steam sale, but hadn’t fired it up yet. Mostly this was because while I really enjoyed the original DoW2 campaign, the multi-player wasn’t as fun for me. This left me feeling a little cold towards the game. So I was pleasantly reminded of how much of actually enjoyed the single player when I fired up the expansion campaign. I’ve also started to enjoy the multi-player, I had a good night of CPU stomping in 2v2 with Oakstout, and I’m looking forward to trying Last Stand with Jayedub.

MMO-wise, I’ve just been dabbling. Played a little Champions yo check out the new update, popped into LotRO to get my house out of hock and catchup on my maintenance fees, and the rest of my time has been spent in STO. I made Vice Admiral, got my Discovery-class refit (my favorite looking ship in the game), and made Attaché in the Diplomacy ranks.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve also been writing quite a bit, but I’m having trouble publishing. Several times, this week, I’ve finished posts and just found no inclination to publish them. Apparently with venting, it’s enough to write it that I don’t need to share it, and honestly you’re not missing much.

I am curious though. If you blog, how much of what you write do you publish?

This is making me think about the dozen plus unfinished articles in my drafts folder. I really need to do some fall cleaning and either trash them or finish them.