Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dragon Age

Bioware has been making great single player role playing games on the PC for a long time.  From Baldur's Gate, to Neverwinter Nights, and now Dragon Age.  When I heard that Electronic Arts would be joining forces with Bioware to work on Dragon Age, a little trepidation crept into my heart.  EA, really?  EA makes the games I don't play, what do they know about making an epic RPG?  I feared the worst, but remained optimistic enough to be a little excited about the game.

Diving in to Dragon Age: Origins was a radical change from Neverwinter Nights, but most of that change was for the better.  Though it took a while for me to let go of this aching for the radial menu I had grown so used to.  What did not change was the great storytelling and character development.  Infact, it was taken to a new level.  They push the experience closer and closer to that of being a person in an epic movie.  It's safe to say that the first Dragon Age impressed me.

Reviews for the sequel to Dragon Age were not wonderful.  Once again, I was worried.  Was the streak of excellence about to end?  I did not buy it right away.  Not to long ago, the price dropped down to the $30 sweet spot, so I nabbed it.  If nothing else, I wanted to find out what happened to Morrigan!

Well, apparently I didn't do my homework.  Dragon Age II is not a continuation of the Dragon Age storyline, but runs in parallel to it.  This put a little damper on it, and added to what seems an awkward start to the game.  Fighting familiar darkspawn, you find yourself fleeing Ferelden, leaving the blight behind to lead your own quasi-epic non-blight riddled storyline.

While some people complained about the occasional re-use of dungeons in the game, that did not bother me much.  The biggest shortcoming of the game was the lack of a high level purpose.  The first two-thirds of the game felt like you were some exceptionally gifted townie doing various mercenary work.  As time goes on, your fame and power grow, and you become involved in a bigger story, but it felt pasted in.  Maybe foreshadowing is difficult in a game, or maybe I'm too stuck in a linear mindset, but it felt fragmented.

Though the overall story lacked, your companions and enemies are vivid believable people for the most part.  To the point where you become conflicted as to which of your companions to chose to adventure with as you can only pick three, but want to pick more.  Except Carver.  Carver can go fall on his greatsword.

Dragon Age II featured an adapted conversation system, which I liked for the most part, because it allows you to be sure of the intended meaning that goes along with a response.  On the other hand, there seemed to be less important conversation related to questing.  I liked the parts in Dragon Age where you had to collect information from people, and sometimes debate enemies, with the outcome affecting the game.  Dragon Age II was more straight forward.

Overall, I would say Dragon Age = Wow, Dragon Age II = not bad.  Is Bioware + EA leading the best streak of RPG games off the rails?  I don't know, but maybe it doesn't matter if Star Wars:TOR is awesome and I never play any other game again.

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