Review: Mass Effect: Foundation (#5)

20466 Mass Effect: Foundation (#5) by Mac Walters.

Miranda recruits Jacob to Cerberus by offering him a mission he can’t refuse: collecting Shepard’s body from the edge of the galaxy. They travel to the Terminus system to deal with Batarians. We all should know right there things are going to go awry.

This is an interesting installment in the series because it deals with the backstory of more than one character. We have Jacob’s induction into Cerberus, his and Miranda’s interest in finding Shepard, Kai Leng being all jealous at the beginning (he didn’t get the coveted mission) and TIM being his usual, charming, complicated self. There is also a good slice of action and a hint of plot that will take us beyond a single issue of the comic.

I didn’t get to know Jacob any better. He’s as uninteresting here as he is in the game. I know, poor Jacob. But not every character can be compelling. We need some to just sit back and reflect the glory of others. Miranda’s interest in Shepard is…interesting. I assume it’s a scientific thing, but for players who romanced her, more could be read between the lines. Perhaps.

Agent Rasa’s involvement serves as another introduction, but this time the entire comic seems to take place in the past, rather offer a glimpse of it. I assume this is because Rasa is a Cerberus agent, and so in place for this foundation story.

I did enjoy the story in this comic. I also liked the way many of the panels highlighted expression and directed the action. The story and art flowed really seamlessly from place to place. But Miranda didn’t look quite like Miranda and there were some instances where I thought Jacob had been swapped out for Mr. T., but with more hair.

The cliffhanger ending means I will be looking into the next issue, but I do wonder if my attachment to all things Mass Effect plays a greater part in me continuing to read this series. Probably, but I imagine the comics were created to take advantage of just that. It’s not that the stories aren’t interesting. They are. I think where the series feels off to me is Agent Rasa. I get that she’s a unifying element, but I’m not convinced she’s necessary. As a fan, I’d be just as happy to sit down and read through an ordered series of prequels.

Written for SFCrowsnest.

Spotlight: Kelly Jensen – Author, Gamer, and . . . Fan Baker?

Jenn Burke is a good friend of mine. We’ve been writing and gaming together since 2009. That’s a lot of words and (and a lot of bloody, violent deaths). In the following interview, Jenn wrings a few more words from me (like it’s hard) by asking me about my favourite moments in gaming. I had a great time reminiscing with her and thinking about the future of games.

Spotlight: Kelly Jensen – Author, Gamer, and . . . Fan Baker?.

Story: The Hope Chest

Without truly knowing Siorus Cadigan’s history, this story might not carry the same impact for the casual reader. Still, it is one of my favourites and a defining moment in his life. In reading it over, I think it details more of his ‘story’ than most of what I write for him.

Siorus is a character I role play. I like writing stories for him–he doesn’t like me sharing them. Tough luck, Rus, this one is heading out there.

Thedas belongs to BioWare. Siorus and Lostwhithiel belong to me. Sol belongs to Jenn Burke. She and I share all the other characters mentioned. Picture credit: Rolling Grape Vines


((1 Harvestmere, 33 Dragon. Lostwhithiel Castle))

A shadow flickered across the ground at the periphery of Siorus’ vision. He spun, shield raised, and caught the edge of a blade. Steel rang against steel, sharp in the quiet of early morning. A dagger poked between shield and sword and Siorus twisted into the strike, knocking the slender blade aside. Then he twisted back again, shield ready to catch the sword. A boot connected with his shin, the force of the kick nearly enough to tip his balance. He would wear a bruise for a week or more and the mark would be well deserved and familiar.

Skipping back a step, Siorus paused long enough to gather his will, then leapt forward, shield leading his charge. His opponent ducked and sidestepped with unnatural agility and Siorus stopped to breathe. The flat of a blade delivered a stinging blow to the back of his hip. Turning into the strike, Siorus swept his shield across, spun and followed with his sword. He missed. Sidestepping, he tried again.

Continue reading “Story: The Hope Chest”

Games, glorious games

When not reading, writing, watching movies or drawing, I like to play games. Like all my hobbies, my attention waxes and wanes. Sometimes I play a lot of games (translation: we eat sandwiches for dinner) and sometimes I don’t turn the PC on for more than a week. Oh, yeah, I have a PC just for gaming. (I really like to play games.) On a side note, I have an Xbox, Wii and Playstation as well. Delving into why I require so many gaming devices is another ramble entirely, however.

Aedan Cousland, my Warden
Aedan Cousland, my Warden

Some of my favourite games are produced by BioWare. What I love about their games in particular are the stories. I become my PC (player character) and I feel as if my actions have consequences. The experience is similar to watching a movie or reading a really good, involving book. Afterwards, I sometimes write stories about the characters I played (fan fiction) where I take their adventure one step further, or in the case of the handsome fellow to the left, five or six steps further. That’s my Warden, Aedan Cousland, from BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins. What a game! (Painting by Kay Steele)

Recently I had the pleasure of traveling to Boston for four days of games, glorious games. I attended PAX East 2013 with my husband and my friend, Jenn, and her husband. We drove up from PA, they drove down from Canada. We connected and  became friends through a mutual love of games (BioWare’s in particular) and because of the wonder of the internet, can play online together at any time, regardless of geographic location. In the meantime, we had a weekend together to explore all the games we hadn’t played yet, and enthuse over the ones we had. We also met up with other folks we’ve been chatting with online for a number of years.

Jenn and Samara.
Jenn and Samara.

In between all the socialising, we trawled the exhibition floor for glimpses of what was to come. There was a lot to see. It was a crazy couple of days. The evenings were spent drinking beer and talking about games. And playing a few. By Sunday I’d had my fill of convention, but not of one of my favourite pastimes.

To read my review/experience of PAX East 2013, click through to SFcrowsnest.

Story: This Is Home

Iain MacKinnon is an original character (OC) created for roleplay at the Warden’s Vigil role-playing community. I used to be one of the moderators of the board and the profile of another character, Serafina MacKinnon, captured my interest. Serafina had a twin and he was missing, presumed dead. I thought, ‘What if…’ and Iain popped into my head with a back story, a voice and a very cheeky smile.

For those unfamiliar with the setting of Warden’s Vigil, we are role-playing the aftermath of events that occurred during the game ‘Dragon Age: Origins’ by BioWare. Here is a brief description of the game from Wikipedia:

“Set in the fictional kingdom of Ferelden during a period of civil strife, the player assumes the role of a warrior, mage or rogue coming from an elven, human, or dwarven background who must unite the kingdom to fight an impending invasion by demonic forces.”

At the time Iain was introduced to the board, fifteen months had passed since the end of the ‘game’—Ferelden had a new king and the demonic forces had been vanquished. Iain missed the majority of the war. He was captured in one of the first strikes and sequestered in a dungeon. He endured six months of torture before escaping. That torture left him too weak to run far, however, and he was forced to stowaway aboard a ship to avoid recapture. He struck a bargain with the captain and after he regained his health, he served as a sailor to repay his debt. Nearly two years later, he returned to Ferelden.

This is the story of his return.

Iain MacKinnon, his family, the captain and crew of ‘La Stella Cadente’, the residents of Stormgard and the village itself are my creations. They are set in a world which belongs to BioWare. As always, my thanks go to BioWare for allowing fans to play in their sandbox.

The song ‘This Is Home’ by Switchfoot inspired the title of my story and their music is something I associate with Iain as a character.

Continue reading “Story: This Is Home”