Gaming Exclusive: Interview with Mark Meer, Shepard from Mass Effect 3

Last year This Is Entertainment caught up with Mark Meer, the man who provides the dulcet tones that bring the Mass Effect series’ Commander Shepard to life (the male version at least).

What with it being a brand new year, and there being a brand new trailer to gawp at (take a look at the Mass Effect 3 trailer), we thought we’d see how things were going.

This Is Entertainment: So how are things coming along with Mass Effect 3?

Mark Meer: Swimmingly!
TIE: Anything you can tell us?

MM: Sadly, no.
TIE: The final Downloadable Content for Mass Effect 2 re-united Shepard with Liara T’Soni, how was it getting to work more with Ali Hillis? Is there any truth to the rumour that her character will return in Mass Effect 3?

MM: I still haven’t actually met Ms. Hillis in person, but it was a pleasure to hear her voice in my headphones once again… I cannot comment on Liara’s possible presence or lack thereof in ME3 at this time. I will say that the Lair of the Shadowbroker DLC was some of my favorite work in the Mass Effect universe thus far…
TIE: BioWare Project Lead Casey Hudson has said that the series’ third instalment will have over 1,000 variables to its story line. That sounds like an awful lot of lines…how do you cope?

MM: Keep in mind that I get paid by the hour. I’m coping just fine.
TIE: Mass Effect 2 bagged best Role-Playing Game last year at the Golden Joysticks, was it a proud moment?

MM: The awards and accolades for ME2 just kept rolling in over the last couple of months – I’m certainly proud of the game’s many successes, but keep in mind, I’m just a small cog in this unstoppable entertainment juggernaut! Plus, any credit that goes to me must be shared equally with my other half, the lovely and talented Jennifer Hale.
TIE: IGN reported statistics last year showing that some people have completed Mass Effect 2 23 times. Have you ever been that addicted to a computer game?

MM: Way back when (in the mid-late nineties), I once played the original Warcraft for so long that I missed a night’s sleep entirely. I was doing a touring show at the time, and when the rest of the troupe arrived at my house in the morning to pick me up in the company van, I instinctively reached for the mouse to move myself from my front door to the vehicle. True story. These days, I tend to limit myself to one “Evil” and one “Good” playthrough of most RPGs.
TIE: The trailer released at the Spike Video Game Awards showed us a glimpse of London being overrun by the Reapers. Have you ever visited? What was your favourite place?

MM: Speaking of sleep deprivation… I’ve actually just returned from London and performing at the Annual 50-Hour London Improvathon! My wife Belinda is from London originally, and we visit there often, so I have quite a few favorite spots in that fine city. I always make a point of dropping into the world-famous comic shop Forbidden Planet, usually take in a few shows on the West End, do some improv shows with my friends from Grand Theft Improv at the Wheatsheaf pub in Rathbone Place, and of course there’s Hoxton Hall – an authentic Victorian music hall in Shoreditch where we do the Improvathon each year.
TIE: The next Dragon Age is only a couple of months away from release, have you managed to get your hands on it yet? How’s it shaping up?

MM: Not yet – I’ve been away for the last few weeks, so I’m hoping to pop into Bioware and see what’s up…

TIE: When we spoke to you last you mentioned you were looking forward to playing Fallout: New Vegas and Dead Rising 2, did you enjoy them? Anything you’re looking forward to playing later this year?

MM: Got Dead Rising 2 for Christmas, but I haven’t been able to play it yet. Now that I’m home, I’ll dive in. I LOVED Fallout: New Vegas – only had time to play it to completion once so far, but I killed Caesar! I’m unreasonably proud of myself for that (probably because people were constantly saying “That’s the man who killed Caesar ” around me for the rest of the game). I’ll definitely take another run at that one. Another Christmas gift was Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare – I’m very anxious to get to that, and to Dragon Age 2, of course. And, as a comic book geek, I’ll be looking forward to playing DC Universe Online and Batman: Arkham City…
TIE: You got a nomination for a clip called “Doug, The Last Man on Earth”, on The Irrelevant Show CBC Radio show, at the Canadian Comedy Awards last year. Were you miffed not to win?

MM: Not at all. It is, as they say, an honour to be nominated. I should mention, that wasn’t improv, which I do quite a bit of – it was a comedy sketch that I performed in, written by my good friend Dana Andersen. I’ll ask him if he’s miffed – I think he would have got the award if we’d won.
TIE: And finally, any news on Shepard’s chimpanzee sidekick?

MM: He’s going to smoke cigars and wear a little green derby. More than that, I cannot say.


James Michael Parry

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Technology: Apple-free MP3 players

Say no to iPodsBeing an MP3 player these days isn’t easy, without a shiny apple logo on your back most people don’t notice you, but there’s still a few impressive choices around for those willing to take the time to look.

The times of a countless range of brands and models is gone – you can thank Apple for narrowing the market – but the brands to look out for are Creative, Phillips and the grandfather of mobile music – Sony.

Sony E SeriesThe Walkman was first released back in 1979 as a handy tape player, before it became a ‘Discman’ in 1984, and now the brand continues to keep a hold on the market with A, S, E and W series. The E series, which comes in 4, 8 and 16GB models (take a look), is probably the most comparable to Apple’s shiny iPod range, but on top of that it boasts kareoke and easy-peasy drag and drop music organisation. It might not be packed with features but it does the job reliably, none of this style-over-substance nonsense.

Philips MuseFrom Phillips comes the Muse MP4 player, complete with FullSound – a fancy bit of tech which decompresses MP3s and ‘enriches and enhances’ the sound. Also it contains Songbird, a useful music player which you can also get on your computer to organise and transfer music.

The real champion of the flock though is Creative, who have embraced Bluetooth technology in everything they are producing, making them the most adaptable units around.

Creative Zen Touch 2Sure there might be one or two iPod compatible docking stations on the market, but Creative reinforces the sublime Zen Touch 2 with speakers and home entertainment surround sound systems all free from troublesome wires. Plus you can get a USB Bluetooth adapter to make anything compatible with the system and so you can stream your music across your room or even through your entire house.

The Touch 2 itself has WiFi and the Google Android operating system, meaning you can download lots of shiny and useful apps. There is even a version available with GPS so you can use it as a sat nav system. The inclusion of a MicroSD card slot means you can beef up the storage capacity as high as you like, though you need to be a bit careful when you insert or remove the card since like all technology if you don’t use it properly – it complains.

The music interface is easy to use and simple, again not stylish to the extreme like Apple. MP3 players like this are functional items, not fashion accessories, and with the Touch 2, Creative have created one of the most versatile pieces of handheld technology around.

So, there are plenty of alternatives to Apple, the only decision you need to make now is which path to righteousness will you choose?

 

James Michael Parry

Top 5 Albums of 2010 – Year in Review: Part 3

So we come to music, always a tricky one since people’s tastes vary so much, but think of this list as the Top 5 ‘Alternative’ albums of the year (again in no particular order), so if you’re expecting the Hollywood special edition of Crazy Love to come up you’ll be left wanting…

Jimmy Eat World – Invented

Jimmy Eat WorldA band whose rise to fame catalysed the ’emo’ movement return with another classic album. Despite the album’s title, the band haven’t done anything out of the ordinary with this latest release – the sound is similar to 2007’s Chase This Light – but it is consistent, something very important in an increasingly changeable industry.

This is a band who deserve to be UK chart-toppers, but the foolish mentality of the single-buying public denies them, instead the enlightened can be reassured that albums like this continue to get made to provide a perfect mix of relaxing melodies and punk-charged pop classics.

Stand-out Tracks: My Best Theory, Coffee and Cigarettes, Littlething.

The Audition – Great Danger

The Audition - Great DangerAnother year, another great album. The Chicago four-piece have released an album every year since 2008’s Champion and though it might not have the disco feel of that release or the pop/punk glory of the Self-Titled follow-up, Great Danger has pace. Apart from the customary slow song – a sublime track about teenage heartbreak – the album thumps along with every song a killer.

The speed of the album makes it a great driving CD, or something to kick up the tempo at the crucial transition stage at a house party, but at its heart Great Danger just makes good, uncomplicated and addictive listening.

Stand-out Tracks: You Ruined This, Ms. Crumby, Run Away

Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man

Bad Religion - The Dissent of ManThe kings of punk rock return in fabulous style with their fifteenth studio album. If you’ve heard of Bad Religion and are a fan already then this is musical genius. Nay-sayers would have you believe all their songs sound the same and they are over the hill but in fact this release has more energy than any album since The Process of Belief. A whopping 15 tracks filled with oozin-ahhs, political satire and guitar hooks you can’t ignore, Dissent of Man is the apex of the band’s talent, with only their own live shows surpassing it.

As ever the tracks are as strong alone as they are in thundering unison and the dual vocal and recording talents of Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz are on full display as the band celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Stand-out Tracks: The Day That The Earth Stalled, The Resist Stance, The Devil in Stitches.

Motion City Soundtrack – My Dinosaur Life

Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur LifeA band competing with Weezer and NOFX to put the fun back into music, Motion City Soundtrack have all the swagger of both those bands combined, and it shows with this latest release. It takes something special to pull off swearing in music without sounding crass or unnecessary, but Motion City manage it superbly throughout My Dinosaur Life, culminating in the frankly titled @!#?@!.

Blink 182 bassist Mark Hoppus produced the album, which may explain some of its cheekiness, but it’s leading man and vocalist Justin Pierre who really puts the passion across with a selection of pop punk with pleasantly varying levels of teenage angst.

Stand-out Tracks: A Life Less Ordinary (Need a Little Help), Her Words Destroyed My Planet, Skin and Bones.

Story of the Year – The Constant

Story of the Year - The ConstantA much underrated band reach a new peak with a release that lives up to its name. From the chilling beginnings as a children’s chorus ushers in the opening track to the final suitably distorted chord. The band manage a great balance between melody and hardcore to challenge even genre heavyweights Rise Against for their title. The strength of the album is anthemic choruses backed up with memorable guitar rifts and tight musicianship throughout.

The songs share a downbeat theme but the energy keeps things from becoming drab and depressing, the emotion invested in the songs show and help give the album a more personal touch.

Top 5 Films of 2010 – Year in Review: Part 2

It was a good year for film, so I’ve picked out the best five films released in the past 12 months. They are in no particular order, think of them as five experiences you should have in your life.

Toy Story 3

Starring: Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton. Released: 19 July

Premise: Rootin-tootin cowboy Woody, reserved space ranger Buzz Lightyear and the other lovable brightly-coloured toys from Andy’s room are on the verge of being forgotten forever as Andy leaves for college and leaves them to the Sunnyside day care centre. How will they escape?

In-a-nutshell: Laughs for all ages return in a way only Pixar can deliver. New recruit Ken (Michael Keaton) is a particular highlight, as is the films nemesis Lotso Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty). With plenty of action and fun the film is a suitable, and moving, end to the series.

Rating: 4/5 (Read Full Review)

 

The Social Network

Starring: Jessie Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Arnie Hammer Released: 15 October

Premise: Semi-truthful account of how Harvard computer wiz-kid Mark Zuckerberg created the Facebook Social networking site, and all the drama along the way.

In-a-nutshell: Eisenberg is fantastic and convincing as the sarcastic and obsessive Zuckerberg and Director David Fincher plays out the story in a mix of real time, flashbacks and flashforwards to keep things interesting. The best docu-film of the decade.

Rating: 4/5 (Read Full Review)

 

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans Released: 25 August

Premise: Geeky bassist Scott Pilgrim is between jobs living in Toronto going nowhere until he meets the girl of his dreams – literally…in a dream. Unfortunately and non-sensically he must fight her seven evil exs to be worthy of going out with her.

In-a-nutshell: Despite being so fantastical it could mostly be going on in the mind of leading man Scott Pilgrim (Cera). Luckily tremendous effort from Director Edgar Wright ensures top-notch quality in cast (Superman AND The Human Torch?!), fights and music. On top of that the style in honed to perfection, from the 8-bit intro to the happily-ever-after finale.

Rating: 5/5 (Read Full Review)

 

Tron Legacy

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde Released: 17 December

Premise: Beginning years after the first movie left off, Sam Flynn (Hedlund) goes looking for his lost father Kevin (Bridges), only to find him locked inside a computer mainframe controlled by Clu, a digital younger version of himself.

In-a-nutshell: The biggest visual spectacle of the year, enhanced further by 3D (which, surely, this film was made for) as light cycles and identification discs wizz around. The father-son relationship which drives the film is believable, even if absolutely nothing else is, and that’s what keeps things grounded and makes you care about what’s going on. Very much a two-tier film, like any good Disney effort, and a perfect and infectious soundtrack.

Rating: 4/5

Inception

Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy Released: 16 July

Premise: Dreams within dreams, planting ideas in someone’s head – concepts don’t get much wackier than this. A band of dream extraction experts plan to make the son of a business man break up his father’s empire, but not before multiple-layered action.

In-a-nutshell: Action, confusion and sublime story-telling in equal measure here from accomplished Director Christopher Nolan. The cast is perfect, the style is fantastic and the final seconds of uncertainty provide the talking point of the decade.

Rating: 5/5 (Read Full Review)

So that takes care of films, stay tuned for music and Xbox 360 titles.

James Michael Parry

2010 in review Part 1 – This Is Entertainment

Since we have a shiny new year upon us I thought I’d share some exciting information from WordPress about how my blog has done this year, slightly self-indulgent but interesting. Keep an eye out for some more posts about my top 5 Films, Albums and Xbox 360 games of 2010 in the next few days.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 32 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 89 posts. There were 33 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 27mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 20th with 3,823 views. The most popular post that day was Film: Review – Inception.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were wordpress.com, facebook.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, digg.com, and cardonation.sex991.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mark meer, commander shepard, inception token, reading festival 2010, and inception.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Film: Review – Inception July 2010
132 comments and 57 Likes on WordPress.com

2

Gaming: Exclusive Interview with Mark Meer, Commander Shepard from Mass Effect July 2010
1 comment

3

About May 2010

4

Music: Reading Festival 2010 Review September 2010

5

Exclusive: iPad world premier of spy thriller Nikita September 2010