March 25, 2014

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of RPG Elements. It's been a while since the last edition, but we are back this week in fine form. We have special guest Reviewer Scott Wachter telling us all about the latest in the Mass Effect expanded universe. We also have a few quick stories on some other interesting things surrounding some of your favorite RPGs.

With that said, on to the stories!

Review by special guest: Scott Wachter
Always on top on the latest in the Mass Effect Universe.

The comic book expansions to the Mass Effect universe have all the had a singular issue that serve as the beast of marketing before telling a good story. The four previous limited series have all been cut short on the note of 'get the rest of the story in upcoming game/DLC pack," but now with no Eezo-powered gaming on the horizon this new series should have the freedom to do whatever it wants. What exactly will Walters do with this freedom? The same thing he always does cram: Cerberus in to everything whether it makes sense or not.

Issue one tells us the story of Rasa, a young human slave in a Turian Mining colony (though questions about how she got there and why Turians are slaving human kids are not answered) as she escapes and becomes a scrappy sidekick to an assassin. She then kills the assassin, takes her stuff, and smash cut to ten years later and Rasa is signing on with Cerberus, because say what you will about radical xenophobia, terrorism, and mad science, at least it's an ethos (no, for real that's her stated motivation).

The remaining issues go through the pre-Mass Effect adventures of Kaiden, Ashley, and Wrex. To which we learn absolutely nothing about their formative experiences. These are whole issues of illustrations of minor events covered in dialogue sequences from the game. The Ashley and Wrex stories are set literally the morning before they met Commander Shepard. Kaiden's covers his angst-filled biotic school days, but it's still nothing new to anyone who played the games. But what of Rasa, our new character? She spends the whole time behind the scenes of these events investigating. That's right Cerberus knew all about what was going on with these characters and Saren's plot, but simply thought the best thing to about was have cryptic conversations with Holographic Martin Sheen instead.

The art is the standard Dark Horse tie-in work, more concered with matching character and location designs than conveying emotion or movement. It's not bad, but it doesn't stand out. After five of these series one might think the artists would have developed a better means of portraying biotic effects that feels similar to the visuals of the games, but this is not the case as the "Jedi powers" Photoshop tools are pulling double duty for this setting.

All in all this story is redundant, the characters are dull, and the whole product only serves as a reminder of how awkward the transition from the style of ME1 to ME2 and ME3 was.

Verdict: Skip it.

Comic by: Mac Walters (writer), Tony Parker (art), and Omar Francia (art)
Publication Date: February 05, 2014
Pages: 96 (collecting issues one through four)
Price: $16.99

Since the last edition of RPG Elements, Blizzard has announced a new World of Warcraft novel, War Crimes by Christie Golden. Below is a summary of what you can expect from War Crimes:

The brutal siege of Orgrimmar may be over, but Garrosh Hellscream, the most infamous orc on Azeroth, has yet to face justice. Bound in chains by his enemies, the deposed tyrant of the Horde must now answer for his crimes. Alongside renowned leaders from across Azeroth, you will bear witness to his long-awaited trial.

Visions of Garrosh's past atrocities are presented in vivid detail for all to see. But as history is revisited, old grievances and bitter memories come to light, and those in attendance begin to wonder if anyone among them is truly innocent. Mounting tensions and rising enmity steer the court to the brink of chaos . . . as the world waits with bated breath for the verdict on the war crimes of Garrosh Hellscream.

War Crimes, the new World of Warcraft novel by author Christie Golden, follows the dramatic events that grip Azeroth in the wake of the siege of Orgrimmar . . . and delves into long-buried secrets that may have been best left uncovered. Pre-order now and you can be one of the first to learn just what the future holds for the residents of Azeroth and the recently dethroned warchief of the Horde.

World of Warcraft: War Crimes is slated for a May 6, 2014 launch and you can read an excerpt from the novel on the official World of Warcraft Blog.

Udon Offers Tons of RPG Artbooks
At least twenty-eight to date

UDON Entertainment has been making big waves in the comic and artbook publishing scene lately. Since the company has a few new RPG related books coming out soon, I wanted to take a minute to highlight all the RPG offerings listed by UDON.

  • Ar Tonelico Visual Book
  • Atelier Series: Official Chronicle
  • Atelier: Artworks of Arland
  • Breath of Fire: Official Complete Works
  • Dark Souls Design Works
  • Devil Survivor: Official Design Works
  • Disgaeart!!!: Disgaea Official Illustration Collection
  • Dragon's Dogma: Official Design Works
  • Growlanser Artworks
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia +mk2 Artworks
  • Legend of Heroes: The Characters
  • Legend of Heroes: The Illustrations
  • Monster Hunter Illustrations
  • Monster Hunter Illustrations 2
  • Okami: Official Complete Works
  • Persona 3: Official Design Works
  • Persona 4 Arena: Design Works
  • Persona 4: Official Design Works
  • Shining Force Feather: Official Design Works
  • Shining Hearts: Collection of Visual Materials
  • Art of Darksiders
  • Art of Darksiders II
  • Tony's Artworks from Shining World
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2: World Artworks
  • Valkyria Chronicles 3: Complete Artworks
  • Valkyria Chronicles: Design Archive
  • World of Warcraft: Tribute
  • Ys: The Art Book

You can find a full list of all the artbooks UDON publishes here. The two most recent releases are the Dragon's Dogma: Official Design Works (complete with a nineteen page preview) and Ys: The Art Book. Look for a review of Ys: The Art Book soon. Both of those new books are currently scheduled to be out within a month's time.

Reading List: Articles Well Worth Your Time
Reaper of Souls themed fun this week!
  • Official Diablo III Merchandise Round Up
    The hype for all things Diablo has been high in the months leading up to this week's worldwide launch of the first expansion to Diablo III, Reaper of Souls. If you are feeling some of that fervor yourself and know that the game alone won't be enough to sate you, check out the link above. Blizzard was nice enough to collect all of the latest Diablo books, shirts, peripherals, toys, and more into one blog post. Useful for those looking to start their Diablo collection.

  • "The End of Her Journey" -- Crusader Class Short Story
    If you care more about Diablo lore than you do about than a pile of merch then be sure to read the short story, The End of Her Journey, by Robert Brooks. This tale is the latest in a series that dives deep into the backstory of each of Diablo III's character classes. It's only about a five page read, but well worth it if you want to know all you can about the newest hero to the Diablo universe.
  • That's it for this week. Many thanks to Scott Wachter for bitting the bullet and reading through Mass Effect: Foundations so that we don't have to. For more from Scott, be sure to follow him on twitter @FowlSorcerous.

    Being a fan of RPGs can get pretty expensive, especially if you start adding up that giant list of Udon Artbooks and official Diablo merchandise. Of course, it would be a lot worse if we didn't have the opportunity show our love and support for our favorite games and franchises. Let us know in the comments what cool RPG related merchandise or books you have been spending your limited time with and your hard earned money on.

    Until next time!

    Emanuel Merino

    Follow me on Twitter: @MerinoEm

    Send me some cool news stories!


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