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Dragon Age and Bioware games

Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 11:06am

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So I finished Dragon Age earlier and the sequel is coming in about a month. I don't know if anyone here has played Dragon Age, but Bioware really took a chance with it and made a real old school RPG. One that is nigh inaccessible for most people and gamers even. The amount of micromanaging needed to play it, and the level of interest you need to have in RPG-games is really something to behold. I love Bioware’s games and every time I caught myself thinking: “Wow, this isn’t that easy.” I was thinking of all the gamers they alienated when deciding to make the game so big. As usual I played it properly as in I listened to all the dialogue, did 80-90% of the side-quests (including a lot of the Premium Content as I bought The Ultimate Edition of the game) and it took me about 60 hours to finish the game.

The developers say they had to record 800 000 lines of dialogue. That’s insane. I don’t know how many of you have played a Bioware game, but the games let you converse with characters and through choosing what you say to them you greatly affect the plot and your relationships with other characters. To get 800 000 “optional” lines of dialouge to fit together no matter how they player plays the game and to get the whole plot to fit is such an insane accomplishment that when I play a Bioware game I find myself marveling that humans made this. It much the same as when I watch a spaceship taking off, or a skyscraper being built. In Dragon Age you play in the Tolkienesque land of Ferelden. In this world the spirit world (where The Maker i.e. God comes from) where all the spirits are and the solid world is side-by-side. The bridge between these worlds is called “The Fade” (and there is a very interesting level there). The Fade is mostly populated by evil demons that are looking to cross over to our world and posses a body or corpse. The prologue of the game tells you that a really long time ago, powerful mages that wanted to reach the Golden City (Heaven) went through The Fade and made it there, then tried to be gods. Because of their sin, The Gold City turned black and they were thrown back into world as tainted monsters called “Darkspawn”. There have been many wars to stop the Darkspawn, but they always come back.
The “Jedi” of this world are the Grey Wardens. They have made it their mission to keep The Darkspawn at bay. Thus starts “The Bioware Model”:

- Join a prestigious order
- Recruit people to your cause
- Make relationships
- Help or destroy people along the way
- Become powerful
- Save the world

You join the Grey Wardens and have to unite Ferelden against the Darkspawn. The land is on the brink of civil war so you travel across the map solving everyone’s problems so they can help you stop the Darkspawn. In true Bioware-style you are the most awesome thing that ever happened to the universe. Constantly you are put in situations where people say “We have had this problem for centuries and none of our best warriors/leaders/whatever have managed to fix it, surely you don’t think you can just march in here and fix it?”, but of course that is exactly what you do. It is the highest form of wish-fulfilment escapism.

Which brings me to my point (yes, I did have one). I think Bioware have managed to develop the most advanced from of human storytelling. George Lucas once said film was the most advanced form of art because film consists of: writing, acting, visual, sound and music (almost all art that exists). But a Bioware game truly has everything. It has all the benefits of a book, because they give you about 50 books worth of dialogue and codex entries (facts about the everything in the world and as you explore it: new entries are made) and 60+ hours to get into the plot and world. And it has one of the biggest benefits of a book which is no limit on runtime, and it has: acting, writing, visuals, sound and music so everything from film. Lastly it let’s you greatly affect the plot and experience the story as if you are the main character. It is just insane that it can be done really.

I do get a bit angry when I hear people raving about Heavy Rain, because Heavy Rain is a series of quick-time events with x amount of ways it can play out. That is a: choose your own adventure setup, but Bioware weaves all that into an actual game with a large universe and a non-linear plot. I can’t manage to explain it properly here, but play Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect or Dragon Age and you will see what I mean immediately. I know Bioware has only ever used their skill to tell one story (see “The Bioware Model”), because for your choices to really matter you have to be in a position of influence. I still maintain that this is the highest from of storytelling right now. It is a shame that most of the people experiencing it are male nerds between 16-29. At least Mass Effect has a much wider audience than Dragon Age.

Anyone else here Bioware fans? Any thoughts?


Here are some links to check out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH8dEmgPZh8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVrXW0WVXYw (Not a big spoiler, this happens about 3 hours into the game)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3EUhYk_Uk4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdKwLkEGjhg (Won best song in a video game awards, and the score won best score awards. Inon Zur is amazing.)

Playing Dragon Age is really an experience. The melding of Tolkien with Dark Fantasy was amazing. smile

Lastly I wanted to point out, if I actually inspired anyone to check out Dragon Age, that the PC version is quite superior to the console versions.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 1:27pm

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Simon K Jones

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Staff Only wrote:

Which brings me to my point (yes, I did have one). I think Bioware have managed to develop the most advanced from of human storytelling. George Lucas once said film was the most advanced form of art because film consists of: writing, acting, visual, sound and music (almost all art that exists). But a Bioware game truly has everything.
I'd perhaps agree that games have the potential to be the most technically advanced form of storytelling, for those reasons. It has everything a film has, plus a layer of interactivity and malleability you don't really get anywhere else.

However, it's very, very early days so far. It's still a very immature medium that is finding its way: it's still defining its own 'language', in the same way that it took many years for the core film language to become established.

Bioware are absolutely at the forefront of that experimentation, along with several other key developers (Team Ico, CDProjeckt Red, Valve, Double Fine, Rockstar and Quantic Dream spring to mind, off the top of my head - and that's without even mentioning all the myriad of indie developers that are taking even bigger risks). What's exciting is that each developer is trying something different, and pushing at the boundaries of what is possible.

While Bioware work has a lot of polish, it tends to be a little too simplistic for my tastes. Check out my thoughts on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 to see the problems I had with them.

It is a shame that most of the people experiencing it are male nerds between 16-29. At least Mass Effect has a much wider audience than Dragon Age.
Mass Effect has a much wider audience with men, I'd imagine. Dragon Age was pretty huge in the female gamer demographic.

Anyone else here Bioware fans? Any thoughts?
If you like Bioware's style, check out The Witcher (assuming you're over 18!). Similar in some respects, and technically far inferior to Mass Effect 2, but with much more sophistication in its storytelling. My review: http://potentialgamer.com/2010/11/30/the-witcher-experience/
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 2:23pm

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Tarn wrote:

I'd perhaps agree that games have the potential to be the most technically advanced form of storytelling, for those reasons. It has everything a film has, plus a layer of interactivity and malleability you don't really get anywhere else.
Yes, though I just want to clarify: games are already the most technically advanced from of storytelling when it comes to development. And I understand what you're saying here, but I don't believe that Just Cause 2 or Assassin's Creed is a more advanced from of storytelling than a movie for instance or a book. A book can go so much deeper than those games and a movie can easily beat Just Cause at just about anything, but "fun". I always ranted to my friends when we were young when they said: "I like games better, because you get to control. In movies you just watch." I would say that you're not controlling anything. The games you play are nothing more than if a movie just stopped in the middle of an action-scene and allowed you hack-and-slash a bunch of mobs. The game is just as predetermined as any film. You just have so sucky attention spans that you need to be pressing buttons to be pacified! (Because I was the film-guy.)

Therefore I will only agree that games that follow the Bioware-way of genuinely going through the headache of this...:

"Mass Effect 2 is problematic in one specific way. The problem is not with this game but with games themselves, or at least with the RPG genre. Playing ME2, I couldn’t shake the nagging question: Where is “up” from here?

Making games the BioWare way, with huge worlds, comprehensive mechanics, full cinematic presentation and thousands of pages of fully voiced interactive dialogue, is insanely expensive, to the point of making no business sense. At these margins, a single flop — “flopping” here means “selling fewer than 2 million copies plus DLC” — could wipe out a chunk of the industry. Only a developer with the braintrust and brand cachet of BioWare can possibly get away with it. Mass Effect 2 is a masterpiece that almost nobody can afford to emulate."


- Source

...can in any way put one over on movies and books. Otherwise, things like Uncharted only have the benefit of having a much longer runtime than a movie and still looking like a movie that cost north of $150 mill to make all the way through.

Tarn wrote:

Dragon Age was pretty huge in the female gamer demographic.
Really, why do you think so?

Tarn wrote:

In The Witcher morality is not reduced to a couple of statistics but instead works specifically through action and consequence, the game never firmly taking an ethical side but instead showing you the results of your decisions.

The real victory is that these results often only manifest themselves many hours later, so can’t be resolved with a simple quickload
Have you played Dragon Age yourself? I should have mentioned it because what you write in that quote is exactly the case in DA. I agree with almost everything you say in your Mass Effect reviews. They were always RPG-Light, but Bioware has not phoned it in just because it isn't as deep as it could be. It still stands as one the most impressive game-series ever made (as I realize you acknowledge in your review).

I feel it's almost an insult to Dragon Age to call it a "video-game", putting in in the same medium as Just Cause, Need for Speed and Singstar. It might as well be from another dimension. In my original post I wasn't really talking about the specific stories Bioware have told (and I tired to make this clear by talking about that they always tell the same one with the Bioware Model), but about their method. The hundreds of thousands of fully voiced lines, the hundreds of pages full of text in the codex entries, the cinematics, the fact that "everyone has a unique story to tell", the dilemmas (everyone remembers the Kaidan/Ashley one, but in Dragon Age you get way harder ones because you can't easily see the outcome of each choice, just like real life), the voice acting itself, and so on. I'm saying that books, campfire-tales, movies, and newspapers finally all have to kneel before the way Bioware tells a story. It truly beats them all down into ground in so many ways. (In theory, yes. There is still a lot of untapped potential as you said.)

Tarn wrote:

If you like Bioware's style, check out The Witcher (assuming you're over 18!)
I will! Might not have time to play it for quite some time though. And I'm actually going to be 20 this year. I'm starting to become so old that I'm not looking forward to being "older", I'm just enjoying youth while it lasts.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 6:58pm

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Aculag

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So was Dragon Age the first real RPG you've ever played or something? It was a good game, but not nearly as revolutionary as you make it seem. When I was on my first character, I thought "wow, I could play this game over and over again!" Turns out I played it once through, tried out a couple of the other races' origins, and then traded it in for something else. Not to say it wasn't engaging while I was playing. I spent a good 65 hours with that game, but that's nothing compared to the 120+ I spent on Fallout 3.

You mention how rich the world is, with the codex entries and such, and I agree, but a lot of that is inconsequential to me. I don't particularly want to sit and read codex entries, I want to play the game. People rave about how rich the world of Morrowind was, because there were so many books scattered around the place to read and learn histories. But I think that even without those books, Morrowind is still a more unique RPG than Dragon Age (or Oblivion) simply because of the setting. At no point do you think "Oh, this could be a real-world location!", because it's all so alien and atmospheric. Oblivion threw that out the window for the Narnia style crap that everyone is so used to and afraid to give up. Though, The Shivering Isle was very cool.

To me, what makes for a really good RPG is a unique setting and interesting story. Dragon Age, while it has a rich world, is set in an incredibly typical "European" environment. Castles, Dragons, Trading Camps, oh my! It's the same thing that we've seen in countless RPGs before it. Icewind Dale, Baldur's Gate, etc. etc. etc. This was the same problem with Oblivion. While it did have a lot to do, and I consider it one of my favorites, it's just such a BORING landscape that looks so much like everything else.

I think The Witcher is a better RPG is nearly every sense, but even it has that very typical European fantasy feel. It takes place in a land that is made up, but it may as well be Scotland. What makes it better to me is that you learn about the world and the characters through dialogue and actions, and you don't have to entirely form your own character, because the Witcher already has his own personality laid out for you. Did the player character in Dragon Age even have a voice actor? I can't recall.

So while you make some good points, I can't entirely agree that Bioware has figured out the perfect form of human expression, because come on, it's still a video game. I'm just ranting at this point, so I'll stop for now. I'm glad you liked Dragon Age, but I think you're praising it a little too much. smile
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 8:56pm

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Aculag wrote:

I'm just ranting at this point, so I'll stop for now. I'm glad you liked Dragon Age, but I think you're praising it a little too much. smile
No, this was exactly the kind of response I was hoping for. biggrin

I don't really feel like breaking your post into pieces, but you say a lot of interesting stuff. I have to ask about Fallout: is there a real "plot" to it (with a mission/last boss/conclusion)? I had this whole part written for that original post that I cut for length reasons, about why I personally am in love with the Bioware Model of plot for RPGs. And no, there is no voice for the main character. It does make him or her seem a bit silent (and the part where they yell random stuff during combat "There is no glory in bloodshed!" is silly), but at the same time I never really liked half the deliveries of male-Sherperd in Mass Effect. It ruins the role-playing because he sounds nothing like me (and his tough-guy voice sounds a bit phony at times).

Both you and Tarn mention RPGs you think are more unique and interesting from a story point of view, but I was really only talking about the method Bioware uses to tell the story. The way they make you bond with characters (by befriending them and then talking them into telling you their sob-story). The way they make you really work to set everything up for the final battle, and then pay it off with scenes like this and this. But most of all how everything you (as the most awesome lad/lass in the entire universe) do affects everything.

As I said earlier it's all about this for me:

Making games the BioWare way, with huge worlds, comprehensive mechanics, full cinematic presentation and thousands of pages of fully voiced interactive dialogue


Not about the actual world or intriguing plot. As it is I do agree with you though. I would have preferred a more..."pretty" world than Ferelden. Something more like stuff we see in LotR, Halo, Avatar and so on, but the dark european look worked well with the plot. The reason I like Dragon Age so much in the plot department is because it is the most raw version of Bioware Model's self-insertion-wish-fulfillment-nerd-fantasy yet. If you play human noble like I did, this is what happens within the first three hours:

- Your entire family is killed
- You witness the horror of Darkspawn
- You witness the horror of the Grey Warden initiation
- Most of the Grey Wardens (in Ferelden) are killed
- The king is killed
- Most of the king's army is killed
- A power hungry douche is driving the country to civil war
- The presence of the Archdemon is confirmed
- And you go to a small village filled with refugees that have seen their family eaten by Darkspawn or dragged away in the night.

When you finally get to your Camp and can take a small breather it seems like everything is so down in hell around Ferelden that the game can't possibly have a happy ending. Then you realize that people expect you to fix everything with your universe bending awesomeness. And that is what the the entire 60 hours are about. I also realize that "Ferelden" and the good guys vs. Orcs is old, but there are some interesting ideas in Dragon Age. The Fade and the Circle Tower levels made me wonder why people even bothered saying so much positive stuff about the Scarecrow parts of Batman: Arkham Asylum (even before I played DA I found Scarecrow underwhelming next to all the praise he got here). The Orzammar levels were really interesting in plot (culminating in the Anvil of the Void and even more chilling The Broodmother), though the design was quite underwhelming after the Moria scenes in Fellowship of the Ring.

I also really like the plot of the Dalish Elves and The Werewolves. No less because the music was really good. All those different places you go to have enough material and quality to make a whole movie just about them. I also really have this creepy felling now that I've been on an epic journey (actually been there, like I dreamed it while sleeping) to all these places and met all these people. That really speaks to how hard the writing team worked with filling the world with memorable stories and characters.

I get that you and Tarn prefer a less by-the-books approach to RPGs and fantasy, but I really think Bioware played the tropes correctly here. Everything was familiar enough that I could just enjoy the stories they told within this familiar world.

I'd be interested in checking out your recommendations, but the thing I really like about Bioware is how massive the whole undertaking is (in making these games as in budget and size of team). I like that they gave me 60 hours of really interesting, Hollywood-worthy (at least), material. I really like the Extended Editions of LotR, but even they clock in at around 11-13 hours. It's the "Insert myself into a giant, long, fantasy book, that presents itself like big budget Hollywood-film" that I think is gold.

To your initial question, no this was not my first RPG. I am quite familiar with all the RPG-“stuff”, if I can call it that. The building your characters, then building your party, then role-playing your character, micro managing combat and so on. But I always play it safe with choosing RPGs. I've almost only played Bioware ones and I don't think I could handle a real JRPG. I need to know that I'll feel comfortable with the tropes the story uses and that I'll feel satisfied with the ending. I also think anything over 60 hours is really stretching it for me. It becomes such an investment when you reach 100 hours for a play-through (and there better not be to much padding or grinding). Bioware certainly play it safe by always using the Bioware Modell so I know what to expect and I can safely commit to the game. I also know the plot and characters will be mainstream enough for my tastes. In return Bioware games are my favourite games. Knights of the Republic is my all time favourite game (A new Hope is my favourite film). Dragon Age is probably the longest game I’ve played though.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 9:47pm

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Aculag

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But most of all how everything you (as the most awesome lad/lass in the entire universe) do affects everything.
Does it really, though? I'm pretty sure that no matter what you do in the game, you'll still end up storming the city and fighting dragons at the end, albeit for a different reason. There hasn't really been an entirely successful "your actions affect the outcome" game made yet, if you ask me. Lots of games have multiple endings, but let's face it, the story is basically the same no matter what. The choices made in The Witcher were the only time I've ever actually felt like I should go back and do right by people. It's so subtle sometimes, and it feels like you've done the right thing, but then in the end, BOOM, you're a total asshole for doing that, and everyone hates you. But it still doesn't alter the plot by a lot.

If you've never played Fallout 3, I highly recommend it. To answer your question, yes there is a plot. You have a main quest, and you get side quests from NPCs, just like any other RPG. You can choose to just power through the main quest, which will probably take less than 20 hours, or you can take time to build your character, explore the world, collect stuff, and do side quests. I logged about 60 hours with my first character, then 40 or so with my second character. Then I traded it in. Then, maybe 6 months later, I got the craving again, bought it a second time, and played a new character for another 50-60 hours, including the DLC.

But anyway, yeah, it has an ending, not so much a "final boss", but a final, large-scale battle, for sure, and when it's over, it's over.

Now, don't get me wrong, I haven't disliked any of the Bioware games I've played, but they are rather formulaic, and I'm more interested in a different style of RPG these days. I'll still play and no doubt love Dragon Age 2, but I look forward to The Witcher 2 and the Demon's Souls "sequel" far more. Maybe not more than Mass Effect 3, though, because Mass Effect 2 was amazing, and I can't wait to see how the story ends. And I do agree that Dragon Age is probably their deepest game to date.

Oh, and I don't like JRPGs at all. Final Fantasy X was the first and last one I played.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 10:11pm

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Pooky

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I don't get it. The things you say make Dragon Age amazing are things that have been in every major good RPG of the last decade. In fact, I'd venture that Dragon Age is one of the most generic and unoriginal RPG games I've played in a long while, because it tried absolutely nothing new. It felt really old to me, like I was back to the Neverwinter Nights days. And yes, I played through it, spend about 40 hours on it, saw all the game beginnings.

Then you realize that people expect you to fix everything with your universe bending awesomeness. And that is what the the entire 60 hours are about.
Like every game ever.

Both you and Tarn mention RPGs you think are more unique and interesting from a story point of view, but I was really only talking about the method Bioware uses to tell the story. The way they make you bond with characters (by befriending them and then talking them into telling you their sob-story).
KOTOR, KOTOR 2, Neverwinter Nights and the Mass Effect stories did this, and KOTOR and ME2 did it way better than DA.

Making games the BioWare way, with huge worlds, comprehensive mechanics, full cinematic presentation and thousands of pages of fully voiced interactive dialogue
Fallout 3 did this WAY better. Oblivion and Fallout 3 have some of the most original quest structures I've seen in a game. For instance, if you happen to kill someone in Oblivion, this creepy guy in a hood comes to talk to you at midnight the next time you sleep, and invites you to join the "Dark Brotherhood". If you accept and meet him at an Inn he told you about, you get crazy quests, like one where you're locked in a house with people and must kill them one by one without being caught, as they get progressively more panicked and sometimes hurt each other. Most of the quests are like this. Dragon Age doesn't even come close!

this is what happens within the first three hours:
*stuff*
When you finally get to your Camp and can take a small breather it seems like everything is so down in hell around Ferelden that the game can't possibly have a happy ending.
See: the start of both Mass Effect games, the start of KOTOR, the start of The Witcher, the start of... you get the idea.


I never really liked half the deliveries of male-Sherperd in Mass Effect. It ruins the role-playing because he sounds nothing like me (and his tough-guy voice sounds a bit phony at times).
True. That's why you use the awesomely voice-acted female Shepard.

You want a game that tries something new while still being huge and epic, try Fallout 3, The Witcher, The Elder Scrolls, and, most importantly, Mass Effect 2.

And JRPGs are utter shite, ignore those.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 10:55pm

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Pooky, no need to tell me that I should play KotOR (1 and 2) or Mass Effect (1 and 2)! wink I've played those games many times. And I think I will play through Mass Effect as a female. I really love Jennifer Hale's work in Mass Effect, Avatar: The Last Airbender and KotOR! I just think it ruins the role-playing if he isn't male.

But I'm sticking to my guns. You guys are waaay obsessed with originality and being new. Personally I only really care about execution. Mass Effect 2 is awesome. The environments, the insane graphics that make you forget you're playing an RPG, the way you really get to know everyone as most of the game is loyalty missions, then have to make life and death decisions with all of them at the end...brilliant! But Mass Effect 2 is the lightest of RPGs. Almost the only RPG element is the interactive dialogue and multiple endings. It's a brilliant game, but far from the caliber RPG that Dragon Age is. I couldn't tell you that Dragon Age is a better game than ME2, but it certainly is a better RPG just because it's much more of an RPG.

And it's debatable whether or not you bond more with the characters in the ME2 or in DA, but apart from ME2 "cheating" by that the entire game is made to make you bond with them I think the characters are a bit more "real" in Dragon Age because they spontaneously talk with each other at times (even when they are talking about my third party member and the mechanic starts showing it seems razz), and because at least with my romance with Morrigan it was so much better than the romance set-up in Mass Effect. I did feel like Tali liked Shephard, but male-Shephard as usual sounded like he was trying to sound like a mix between Leonardo DiCaprio and Quaritch from Avatar during the courting of her. And all romance in ME amounts to a sex-scene at the end that no-one speaks of again. In Dragon Age Morrigan slept with the Warden halfway through the game and fell in love after the loyalty mission. That they were in love for a big part of the game and that other characters commented on the relationship made it feel much more epic when she left him for ever at the end.

I don't want it to sound like I'm bashing Mass Effect or think Dragon Age is "better". I don't. It's actually a bit hard for me to compare them because Mass Effect (2 at least) is so far from its RPG roots that it feels really different. I just think that you guys are waay to hard on Dragon Age (any jokes about me having a hard on for Dragon Age are too obvious). Did it fail your high expectations when it came out or something? After playing it I found some old posts about it and people commented that it might be the last old school western-RPGs in a while. With the success of Mass Effect and the "Mass Effect-ting" of Dragon Age 2 it looks like making a game of Dragon Age's inaccessibility isn't what designers want to do right now.

I just really felt it when I finished Dragon Age and had to share. I felt I had experienced a big game. I think some of the problem is that when you show up in a thread talking about RPGs you bring out the gaming-elitist in people. Like how some people think "real gamers" are super-skilled at some FPS. I honestly didn't play Dragon Age expecting something other than pure Tolkien in fact I thought it was going to be flat out LotR: Bioware style. I was surprised when they introduced The Fade, and the elves were slaves. But perhaps RPG-fans expect you to put a lot of store in how interesting and original the game is in its presentation and plot. I'm in it for the fun and I honestly prefer un-original-super-polished games than original-but-didn't-quite-work-out games like Mirror's Edge. I know a lot of people who call themselves gamers would hate me for it because it isn't helping video-games evolve that so many people are like me. But I'm "the movie guy" remember? I don't really care about gamers and their culture/pretentiousness. razz
Posted: Tue, 22nd Feb 2011, 11:46pm

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Pooky

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I think the big difference here is age. I've been playing video games for 13 years, Aculag and Tarn more than that. So once you've played one Dragon Age-like game or three, you get a bit bored. It'll happen to you too, I'm pretty sure I was like you at your age, wondering why people didn't like stuff.

So by now, I've gotten a bit tired of, for instance, inventory management like ME1 and DA, because I've done it SO MUCH that it now takes away from the experience. The reason ME2 is my favourite RPG thus has a lot to do with how they stripped away what slowed the game down (micro-management, for instance), and focused on story and characters. To me, an RPG is just that: a role-playing game. If it takes you out of the role, then it's not as fun smile

However, I should mention that the execution of the games I've been talking about are on par with Dragon Age. In fact, I thought Dragon Age felt a bit cheap, what with the collection-of-tiny-areas cities, the mediocre and dull interface design, no movement during talky bits, etc.

Fallout 3. Play that immediately. It is both original and well executed (save for crappy animation sometimes), and voted by many as GOTY of whatever year it came out. Also be on the lookout for Skyrim and The Witcher 2, both of which are almost definitely going to try something new, but fix the problems that make the previous games a bit lame to play today.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:03am

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Pooky wrote:

However, I should mention that the execution of the games I've been talking about are on par with Dragon Age. In fact, I thought Dragon Age felt a bit cheap, what with the collection-of-tiny-areas cities, the mediocre and dull interface design, no movement during talky bits, etc.
The first part of your post explains a lot. I just couldn't understand how you could be championing Mass Effect 2 as a better RPG than Dragon Age. I guess the reason I loved it is this:

The existence of a big-budget, very traditional computer role-playing game (CRPG) alone makes Dragon Age: Origins a huge accomplishment. It’s the kind of game you just don’t expect in this day in age, as development costs are always rising and five-year development cycles are just financially irresponsible. Yet, here we are, with a brand new franchise and game that goes back to what worked well back then – isometric combat, choices and consequences and skill checks – and proves that it still works just as well now.

- Source

You can't call Dragon Age cheap, Pooky! The game is huge. That's what I loved about it. It felt so different (because I am young, yes, and here I got to play a giant re-make of games I would have loved back in the day).

I really should play Fallout. Thanks for the tip. smile I have no doubt it is a brilliant game, but I'm sure I won't enjoy it as much as Dragon Age because of it's tone and setting.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:16am

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Aculag

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Pooky, I agree that things like inventory management are what slow down RPGs, but for it to be a true RPG, you need an inventory panel, and to be able to customize everything you want to, and micro-manage if you want to. Mass Effect 2 pulled it off very well without it slowing down the gameplay, but you can only really do it while during down-time. Which makes sense! No one's going to be rifling through their bag for a weapon upgrade in the heat of battle. In an RPG like Demon's Souls, stopping to check your inventory can get you killed, because you can't pause the gameplay except to quit. So I guess I personally like the inventory stuff, but I don't want the game to force it on me. I loved Fallout New Vegas' hardcore mode, that brings micro-managing to a whole new level (have to drink, eat, sleep, see doctors, bullets weigh you down, etc), but I could only use it for a little while (several hours) at a time before it got tedious.

Staff Only, understand that I'm really not talking down on Dragon Age. It's a great game, and I truly enjoyed it. But like Pooky said, I've played a lot of very similar games over the years, and the formula, while still entertaining, is a little hackneyed and stale.

I found it interesting that you went into such depth about the romance subplots. To me, most video game romance plots are hilarious anyway, because it's always so unrealistic and clearly the fantasy of whomever designed it. Uncharted is the only game that's ever made me really care about the "romance". The back-and-forth between Nate and Elena is so organic, because they're organic and normal seeming characters. In almost every other game, the women are hyper sexualized with huge, gravity-defying breasts that must be shown off at every opportunity.

Feminism in video games is a pretty big topic, so I'll just leave it with "I think most video game romance plots are silly and unnecessary". smile

Staff Only wrote:

I really should play Fallout. Thanks for the tip. smile I have no doubt it is a brilliant game, but I'm sure I won't enjoy it as much as Dragon Age because of it's tone and setting.
Then play Baldur's Gate. smile

Ps. I am currently installing the demo for Dragon Age 2. Looking forward to it!
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:37am

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Pooky

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Or Oblivion with a bunch of graphical improvement mods. I spent a good few hours finding the perfect combination of mods to make Oblivion look like a 2010 game a few months ago, in addition to gameplay fixes for the annoying stuff, and played through it again... excellent stuff.

The Dragon Age 2 demo was short, but the combat, graphics and dialogue were drastically improved, as was the UI, so that's great. What I saw of the world seemed horrifically unlively and fake, though. Here's hoping that doesn't turn out to be true, and the world is a living and breathing one. The whole feminism thing Aculag mentioned is most definitely present in this game as well, what with the girl you see at the end having breasts the size of a dwarf razz

Last edited Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:43am; edited 5 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:38am

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mercianfilm

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Staff Only wrote:

I really should play Fallout. Thanks for the tip. smile I have no doubt it is a brilliant game, but I'm sure I won't enjoy it as much as Dragon Age because of it's tone and setting.
You will...The whole game starts off with Liam Neeson as a voice over...nuff said.

Personally, Oblivion and the last two Fallouts have been my favourite rpg's in a long time- they scored major points in all the right fields- actors, music, landscapes, atmosphere, weaponry,the npc's and of course the quests were all as close to perfection as possible. Of course you do get the occasional glitch and bug but what game doesn't? Like Aculag said, a lot of rpg games go for the thinly veiled medieval European era with supernatural and mythical creatures- whilst Oblivion has that aspect it isn't forced on you-the world seems fairly unique and doesn't borrow heavily from Tolkien's works. The same goes for Fallout- the whole world is like nothing you've seen before in films or games really- it explres the reality of a post apocalypse world as people stuggle to make a living off the scorched land. Like you said for Dragon age, you basically spend hours shaping your character how you want- a master thief, a crack shot or even a meddic- the further you progress your skills the more specialised you become- much like most rpg's. I guess what i'm saying is Fallout and Oblivion are much like other rpg games except the experience, and i suppose the feeling of accomplishment when you complete it is unlike anything you're experienced before. I highly recommend both those games.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:43am

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Aculag wrote:

I found it interesting that you went into such depth about the romance subplots. To me, most video game romance plots are hilarious anyway, because it's always so unrealistic and clearly the fantasy of whomever designed it. Uncharted is the only game that's ever made me really care about the "romance". The back-and-forth between Nate and Elena is so organic, because they're organic and normal seeming characters. In almost every other game, the women are hyper sexualized with huge, gravity-defying breasts that must be shown off at every opportunity.

Feminism in video games is a pretty big topic, so I'll just leave it with "I think most video game romance plots are silly and unnecessary". smile
I agree completley. I also think Elena is one of the greatest female love interests ever in a video-game. It is a testament to Amy Hennig's commitment to character (she even mentioned that she had to ask the young, male nerds at Naughty Dog to tone down the cup-sizes on more than one occasion xD.) and her film director education.

In Mass Effect especially Shephard is...well he is a commanding officer, he's built like a boxer and everyone important thinks he is the Galaxies only hope. Of course women are wet around him, and he uses that to bone anyone on the ship. The dialog options with Kelly Chambers are especially embarrassing and cringe-worthy. I actually reloaded my save out of shame after some of the chats with Chambers. xD The same can be said for a lot of games. I still think the romance with Morrigan was very well done. She gives of vibes that she is capable of seducing a man, then turning into a spider and eating him whole. How she was "tamed" was handled with dignity.

The animation and music in the sex scenes in Dragon Age is still laughable though. razz
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:59am

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Aculag

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Staff Only wrote:

and her film director education.

And the fact that she's a woman herself. smile

The animation and music in the sex scenes in Dragon Age is still laughable though. razz
You think that's bad, go check out the OH SO CONTROVERSIAL sex scene in Omikron: The Nomad Soul. It's video game porn like only 1999 can do it. wink Incidentally, that game is worth checking out just to see the progress Quantic Dream have made. Who knew that they would go from this shonky, weird game with songs by David Bowie to the "almost a movie" Heavy Rain!?
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 1:06am

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Pooky

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Aculag wrote:

"more than a movie" Heavy Rain
Fixed that for you smile

Also, I never got the feeling that the male Shepard was particularly tough or dominant... the voice actor just seems way too passive for that. Female Shep, on the other hand, is a frickin badass razz
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 4:06am

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Aculag

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I think it's funny that even though female Shepard is one of the few examples of a strong female lead in a video game that isn't a total bimbo, you can make her have interspecies lesbian sex. wink
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 4:40am

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Pooky

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Aculag wrote:

I think it's funny that even though female Shepard is one of the few examples of a strong female lead in a video game that isn't a total bimbo, you can make her have interspecies lesbian sex. wink
I choose to see that as a cool gay rights thing rather than a OMGBEWBS thing razz I could sort of back this up with the whole Kelly relationship - 99% of it is talking and flirting, and there's no sex.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 8:41am

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Joshua Davies

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I couldn't get on with Dragon Age at all - it was horribly clunky and old school on a console. In fact, I was surprised the game was so new as I felt it was at least 10 years old when I tried it. The new one looks like more of the same to me - I might as well be playing a board game.

I've only played a bit of Mass Effect but from what I've seen I like that far more - I might even dive back in if my girlfriend doesn't complete it first (after she has completed Oblivion). Also, as she is liking (not loving) Oblivion is she likely to enjoy Fallout? I think I have that sitting around for the Xbox360 somewhere...
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 9:28am

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Simon K Jones

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The problem I had with Oblivion and Fallout is that the combination of awful writing and awful animation destroys all the good work that the setting and environment accomplishes. I have trouble playing a dialogue and character-heavy RPG written by people who can't write.

Relationships are something Bioware still haven't cracked (the closest is in KotOR). It irritates me the way supporting character stand in one place waiting for you to talk to them, like you're the entire centre of the universe.

In fact, that's the key difference between Bioware games and The Witcher: in Bioware games EVERYTHING revolves around you and your actions. In The Witcher that still happens to a large degree, but at the same time the world is carrying on in the background. I find that far more convincing.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 10:57am

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Hybrid-Halo

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schwar wrote:

I couldn't get on with Dragon Age at all - it was horribly clunky and old school on a console.
Probably because it was designed for PC, the console version had all the audio heavily compressed and couldn't handle the high resolution textures. It looked like arse and without a mouse to control all the goings on, it played like arse.

On PC, it was okay... It was definitely harkening back to the days of Baldurs Gate and Neverwinter Nights, though - which isn't something everyone will have either the patience or desire for. One of my problems with Dragon Age is that it seems to bring with it the worst of those older games.

A major problem that I had with Baldurs Gate, was that it was wildly complicated and set in the Dungeons and Dragons system of a billion level up skills - which you would have to manage for every member of your party. Dragon Age's levelling system is vastly more simplified - but the fact remains, I want to pay attention to my class and character (which should be complicated) whilst the others should be capable of handling themselves.

For me, having access to other characters levelling information and skill-sets feels like it gives me too much control over them and makes them feel more like tools than other characters. Ideally - Characters would have set persuasions regarding their skill direction which can be influenced by their experiences with you.

I don't like the Dragon Age 2 demo. I think it played like a barrel of arses. I also, somewhat controversially feel that Mass Effect 2 has had the RPG element simplified to a state where it doesn't have much excuse for being such an average third person shooter. Gears of War style play with levelling stats and an interactive story? Yes please. The same perks with the shooty play style of Operation Winback on the N64 - less keen.

So there you go! Also - I agree with Tarn re: Oblivion and Fallout and want to add that neither of their settings match up with Morrowind's Vvardenfall and am also really looking forwards to The Witcher.

Until then... I've been shocked to hear that apparently Bulletstorm is excellent. Which I was not expecting at all.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 11:55am

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Sollthar

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Just tried to get into Dragon Age again and while it's nicely designed, I just can't get seem to into it. The world feels kind of dead and static - there's no one moving around. Especially now compared to Red Dead Redemption which I've been playing in he last couple of days.
Also the writing of the dialogues seems kind of strange and drawn out to me and the battle system doesn't feel very intuitive either.

That's always been my problem with BioWare titles. They put so much effort into designing a world, but the actual gameplay never quite feels right. Hybrid sums up my thoughts on Mass Effect rather well. I have both, but finished neither because they felt too repetitive and clunky to play. Like an average 3rd person shooter.

Also, I really dislike any gams that throw stats at me and anything that's so unimaginative to work with "levels" puts me off as well. I don't want to be "levelling", ever. In any game. And I don't want to win or lose a battle based on the level I or my enemy has and most of all, I never ever want to be not allowed to take an item or wear something because my class or level is wrong. I HAVE HANDS! LET ME CARRY IT! wink

Sorry, went a bit into a general Anti-RPG rant... But yeah. There. smile
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:22pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Sollthar wrote:

I never ever want to be not allowed to take an item or wear something because my class or level is wrong. I HAVE HANDS! LET ME CARRY IT!
Yes! Exactly! Being untrained in some thing's use should just mean I am bad at using it unless there are very obvious reasons as to why I can't use it.

Also, the whole... "You can't wear this hat because it is for mages, and you are a Rogue". It's like the classes have different shaped heads or something! I understand that classes, whilst feeling a bit restrictive and out-dated (i.e. you could mix classes in Neverwinter Nights) it exists to simplify things - which is fine. But there's no reason for it to be so restrictive - let me try and wear the armour that is too heavy for my feeble mage body, the outcome could be hilarious.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:31pm

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

But there's no reason for it to be so restrictive - let me try and wear the armour that is too heavy for my feeble mage body, the outcome could be hilarious.
Not to be a complete nerd (I guess it's far too late to avoid that anyway), but..

razz
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 12:50pm

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Sollthar

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Rating: +3

//rant

Yeah, RPG's regularly annoy the hell out of me with being so last century and often plain moronic. Most still think like back in their heritage of tabletop dice games and while I realize it makes sense in that environment, it's just not appropriate for a true interactive RPG experience on a computer! At least for me.

The whole thinking in "classes" and "levels" and "stats" is just wrong. When I have a head, I want to be able to wear a helmet. ANY helmet that fits. The whole idea of "not being good enough to wear a helmet" is just WTF? I want to carry and use ALL the weapons that I can physically carry (not like having a small bag on my back filled with four different swords, three entire armors, sevenhundred arrows, two horses, an old boot, some dog meat and the head of someone I killed) and hold everything in my hands or bags that I can possibly FIT in there.
Granted, I'll be better with some stuff then others - that's all fine. I'm not a mage so I can't do magic - no problem. But let me carry the damn magic stick ANYWAYS!
I get why a game needs stats running in the background to calculate, but I never ever want to see them presented as numbers. Least of all numbers popping up anywhere on screen. They should be naturally visible, for example in the animations. I'm an inexperienced swordfighter? Then I want the "slash" animation to represent that and be slow and visually see how I get faster and better every time. I don't want to watch numbers go up, I want to take on my role - isn't that what RPG's should be about?

And if something is two times as big as me, then I want it to beat the crap out of me because it's STRONGER and me having to utilize masterful gameplay techniques in order to beat it not just be Level 147 and luckily that thing in front of me - despite having a biceps the size of my torso - is only level 4 so its hits don't even tickle. I don't want to see any levels anywhere. I want to visually be presented with something that makes friggin sense and let's me stay in character.
And never have me choose a class or anything like it. EVER! Why should I chose a warrior and then suddenly be completely unable to learn new tricks from someone who can do magic? Why can't I become a thiefing, healing, magicking superwarrior if I spent enough time learning how to do it all?
And don't even get me started on "loot"... I've seen it all. Me trying to get wolfmeat and then killing a wolf only to find out it drops some gloves, a laptop and an old can of beans - but no wolfmeat. crazy

There's so much wrong with the genre I could go on and on...


But this is not the place. Sorry. smile
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 1:00pm

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Simon K Jones

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Rating: +1

Hehe, I think we've been having that rant for the last 10 years, Sollthar. smile

It's why I actually do like what Bioware have been doing over the last decade. From Neverwinter Nights, through KotOR, Jade Empire and Mass Effect they've been continually evolving the concept of 'RPG', moving it closer towards what we'd like.

They're not quite there yet, of course, and they've fumbled in other areas, such as ME's 3rd person combat. But I like the general direction.

Similarly, it's been interesting to see 'non-RPG' games start to take on the storytelling, character and gameplay sophistication of RPGs, such as Red Dead.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 1:04pm

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You make a lot of sense, Sollthar!

Especially the part about showing the stats in animations instead of in "Hit points" and level-up screens. I'm still really capable of enjoying playing a fully cinematic board-game like some old-school RPGs, but I think there is a lot of potential in the areas you mentioned.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 1:33pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Sollthar is so absolutely right on this one.

The RPG computer game evolved from the tabletop role-playing system - the entire premise of these computer games is to have the computer manage the statistics and 'dice rolls' for us. It seems completely counter-productive to have this working out shown numerically.


And yeah, don't even get me started on classes. They're such an out-dated concept and I'm amazed that they still even exist. There are cases when for simplicities sake I understand their presence, but usually they simply act as walls for skill progressions in worlds I want to be able to roam freely.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Feb 2011, 10:48pm

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Pooky

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Oblivion and Fallout are the two games I can think of that are the most in line with Sollthar's view of what an RPG should be. You can use a staff despite having trained in being a rogue, you'll just suck with it. Enemies have a hybrid system where they sort of scale with you in Fallout, so you can defeat everything you come across, it can just become really hard with some of them, and the more you level, the more dangerous the place becomes. There are only item stats for damage, weight, and value, and all the rest of it takes place behind the scenes. Oblivion had a neat system where you level the things you do, e.g. using a sword levels up swordsmanship, running levels up acrobatics, etc. It's not perfect, but I do prefer it. Course, rats still drop laptops, though.

Oblivion is kind of like The Witcher in some way: flawed, with elements of pure genius. Sure, it's got wonky writing, animations and other stuff, but by god the mission design is incredible. Probably the best I've seen in any game, in fact, including Red Dead.
Posted: Thu, 24th Feb 2011, 10:43pm

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Pooky

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HOLY "$(*/%$&

http://www.elderscrolls.com/ New Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Trailer with gameplay. Make sure to fullscreen, sound up.

You know, I think I'm going to go ahead and call this the best RPG ever ahead of time. smile
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 12:08am

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Aculag

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Well, that looks awesome. Fantastic music, as well, and looks like a far more varied landscape than Oblivion. Can't wait!
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 8:18am

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Sollthar

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I really liked Oblivion. Despite some wonky stuff, it was one of the few RPG's I actually played through. So I'll definately get Skyrim. And it does look rather beautiful!
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 9:43am

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Sollthar

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Hehehehehehehehe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9eGtyqz4gY&feature=player_embedded
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 9:53am

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Simon K Jones

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I really enjoyed Oblivion while I played it, and then found it instantly forgettable. It was pretty much the direct inverse of Morrowind, which was technically pretty shonky but somehow managed to conjure up an incredibly convincing world that has lingered in my memory even to this day.

I lived in Morrowind. In Oblivion, I ran around and killed some monsters. Both were fun, but Oblivion did sacrifice artistic/world building achievement for technical prowess (despite a lot of the tech still being awful).

Hopefully Skyrim can blend the two together. I played Fallout briefly and didn't really get on with it - pretty much every design decision I really, really dislike with Bethesda's games. With the exception of the actual wilderness design in Fallout, which is stunning.

This trailer has LOUD DRAMATIC MUSIC, and is quite pretty, but there's not really anything in it to get me excited yet.
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 10:45am

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I agree with Tarn. It looks like an impressive enough game, But I care nothing about running around in the wilderness hunting. I played through the entire RDR and did none of that. In fact I almost always used stagecoaches and "took a nap".

Pooky made it very clear he thought Oblivion and Fallout were much better games than Dragon Age, but do Bethesda games have moments like this, or this, or this? I've been given no reason to believe that the wide-open Bethesda games were ever about moments like those, but those are the moments I even play RPGs for. It has to be for the writing. What I love about RPGs is not the RPGing in other words, but the top notch written epic story you are in that will stay with you for a long time. Also the main character in Skyrim looks so forgettable.

I've played the demo for Dragon Age 2 and I loved it! The action and visuals have really been fixed. It also seems like Bioware are trying something new with the narrative, as the story unfolds with that two people (in the future) are telling each other the story of the main character while you play. Also the new dialog wheel is brilliant. Instead of having to guess what Shephard means by the shortened version of the dialogue they have symbols that tell you which tone Hawke will use (angry, sarcastic, kind etc.) and Hawke has a much better voice actor and character than Shephard. After spending 25 minutes with him I could tell he was going be awesome. I do take issue with that they took great liberties with how things look. The main characters story starts in the Dragon Age 1 timeline not long after the battle at Ostagar. So why did they completley change how Hurlocks look? They used to look like Lizard-Uruk-Hai, but now they look like skeletons? Why? The Lizard-Uruks were much scarier.

Anyway, much more looking forward to Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3 and to a lesser extent Uncharted 3, than Skyrim.

Last edited Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 12:06pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 11:03am

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Sollthar

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Sounds like were stellar opposite gamer types, as I stopped the missions in RDR very quickly to go out hunting, playing poker, drinking whiskey, sitting at campfires and just riding through the wilderness enjoying the scenery... Thats what I want when Im supposed to play a character.
Allthough the writing in RDR is remarkably solid - especially for a Rockstar game - I've yet to encounter a game that's written half es well as an average movie. Maybe with the exception of Mafia 1. Mass Effect for example was rather well, also rather confusingly and poorly written in places and failed in both offering me an intersting story as well as an interesting game apart from the story. Hence I never finished them.

In fact, RDR comes closest to what an RPG should be like for me. Despite the fact there's sti so much left out, but I hope they'll build on that! More stuff to do and mor things that DONT tell writers stories but just let the world come to life with possibilities and choices.

Skyrim looks nice, apart from those samey lighteffects I dislike so much in fantasy games. I base my hopes solely on the fact I enjoyed Oblivion.
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 3:07pm

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Aculag

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Staff Only wrote:

I played through the entire RDR and did none of that. In fact I almost always used stagecoaches and "took a nap".
Lucky for you, this game likely will not focus on hunting random animals in the wilderness, and will feature rich quests, like every Bethesda game. Oh, and quick travel is a guarantee. So you'll easily be able to blow through the plot without taking notice of the intricacies of the world surrounding you. wink


Also the main character in Skyrim looks so forgettable.
Good thing you'll likely be able to customize him to look however you want him to. smile

Your complaints have no bearing, is what I mean. I think we get it. You're a BioWare fanboy.
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:15pm

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Aculag wrote:

I think we get it. You're a BioWare fanboy.
Yes. wink

Aculag wrote:

Good thing you'll likely be able to customize him to look however you want him to. smile
Actually one of my complaints with Dragon Age was that you had to play as "Warden" who didn't have a standard face on the box art and a voice. I always play Mass Effect as this guy, and I'll definitely play Dragon Age II as this guy.

And I wasn't trying to criticize the game, I was being completley honest. I remember on the director's commentary of Serenity, Joss Whedon said when River opened the doors and stood there with a sword and an axe, Reavers dead all around her: "This is what it's all about. I write entire movies just for moments like these." (paraphrased). That is my approach to books, movies and games. The entire thing is there to serve as a foundation for Crowning Moments of Awesome. So I actually prefer a decent film with a brilliant ending, to a good film with an okay ending if you understand what I mean. I have never played a Bethesda game, but if Tarn is telling the truth (which he usually is) they are nothing for me. Also (and this will seem like just more Bioware fanboying razz) this trailer interests me so much more than the Skyrim one because it shows off dialogue and plot in stead of a video-game. The DA2 one could be a movie trailer, while the Skyrim one is definitely a video-game trailer (at least after the opening narration which still tells me nothing of the main character story arc). It is the same reason I love this trailer. It might as well be a trailer for an upcoming movie. When Bethesda want to release a "Story trailer" for Skyrim I'll be right there waiting. smile This actually made me want to play the game more than the actual trailer. That is also because it seems the game is first person? I have somewhere between 20 and 30 games that I've played between 2000-present and none of them are first person.
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:18pm

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Aculag

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Staff Only wrote:

That is also because it seems the game is first person? I have somewhere between 20 and 30 games that I've played between 2000-present and none of them are first person.
Yet again, like every Bethesda game, you'll be able to choose first or third person. Hopefully they've updated their animations so the third person view is actually acceptable and not laughably stupid looking. smile
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:19pm

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Well, that is a big plus for me. smile
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:24pm

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Simon K Jones

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I think the difference here might be because Staff Only wants his games to be like movies, while the rest of us want games to be less like movies. smile


In terms of non-scripted, player-driven stories, the most interesting game I've encounted to do that is probably Minecraft. Absolutely zero scripted story, but I feel like I've gone on amazing adventures - all the more amazing because I know that nobody else on the planet has seen the places I've been to.

Most people I know that've played Minecraft all have amazing anecdotes and stories about what's happened to them, but it's all created through a combination of their imagination and the versatile game world.

I can't wait to see what Minecraft is like when it's actually completed and release officially.
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:40pm

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Pooky

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I'd agree with that assessment, Tarn. I do love my heavily scripted games, don't get me wrong, but the games that really blow me away and really sell me on the concept of gaming are often the ones that go beyond that and make me feel like I'm actually in a whole other world, playing poker in the Old West or walking through the wilderness of Tamriel or running through a collapsing building in Nepal as a helicopter chases me. I imagine it stems from the same part of me that makes me completely obsessed with traveling.
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:42pm

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Sollthar

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I think the difference here might be because Staff Only wants his games to be like movies, while the rest of us want games to be less like movies.
Yeah, that was my thought. Everything you mention Staff Only is why I watch MOVIES, but definately not why I play GAMES. The latter can be so much more.


I'd really love to get into something like Minecraft as it sounds really brilliant! But I guess I'm too much of a graphics whore for something that looks like a bunch of blocks. I mean, don't get me wrong, I can settle with "ok" graphics too, but for me to get into a world, it needs to feel somewhat real. Blocks just have zero appeal to me. So despite the fact I bought it, I just really can't get into this world, no matter how much I want.

I look forward though to when gaming concepts like the one of minecraft will be implemented with proper graphics and a truly open and editable MMORPG experience. smile
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:51pm

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Aculag

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This is why, although they're enjoyable, I don't really get into games like Modern Warfare. Yeah, I played both of them and had fun, but they lasted me like 8 hours each, and I never played them again. But in open-world RPGs, I can spent hundreds of hours just exploring and collecting goodies, and doing random crap.

I also agree with Sollthar about Minecraft's graphics. My dream game is something very similar to Minecraft, where you can do anything you want, with no plot, but with GTA4/RDR graphics. Half of the time I spent playing GTA4 was just driving around the city trying to do the most epic crashes possible.

Granted, it is nice to play a plot-heavy game and stick with the plot, but I appreciate flexibility in gameplay.
Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 4:55pm

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The odd thing with Minecraft is that it doesn't look particularly fun, but you get completely and hopelessly addicted to it once you try it. I kept making fun of my friends for playing such a crappy-looking game at first, then when I tried it, the next thing I knew I was making the great wall of China.

Posted: Fri, 25th Feb 2011, 11:14pm

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Aculag

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I played it for maybe 30 minutes total, and all I managed to get done was digging a tunnel through a mountain.

You're making me want to try it again, though. Maybe I'll do that this weekend, if I finish a certain something for a certain software company first.
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 12:05am

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Hybrid-Halo

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After the awards video, it should be pretty obvious how much I love Minecraft. I'm a mod over on Deadmau5's server mau5ville.com when it's public.
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 12:14am

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This was great.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeY-2ovpF9c

Love miracleofsound's work.
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 12:18am

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Pooky

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Aculag wrote:

I played it for maybe 30 minutes total, and all I managed to get done was digging a tunnel through a mountain.

You're making me want to try it again, though. Maybe I'll do that this weekend, if I finish a certain something for a certain software company first.
I'd recommend playing Multiplayer this time. Much cooler when you can show off or collaborate razz
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 4:33am

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DX6channel

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Since your talking about Minecraft:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uyxVmdaJ-w

I did not make this.
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 8:38am

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Aculag

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I played it for a little while tonight. Dug a hole, got killed by a skeleton. Dug another hole.
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 2:09pm

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Pooky

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You're doing it wrong.
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 2:11pm

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Sollthar

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Yeah, I'm doing it right: I threw it away and wait for an updated version with proper graphics. biggrin
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 2:11pm

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They also specifically mention the dice-throwing complaint in this, Sollthar. wink

Has anyone tried the demo? Did you notice how in the start when Varric (the dwarf) is telling the story with his own exaggerations, Hawke's sister has quite the well endowed chest, but when he says "You wanna know what really happened?" and they flash back again, her chest has shrunk several sizes? It was quite subtle. wink
Posted: Sat, 26th Feb 2011, 9:06pm

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Aculag

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Pooky wrote:

You're doing it wrong.
Oh, okay! Thanks!
Posted: Sun, 27th Feb 2011, 2:19am

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Pooky

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Aculag wrote:

Pooky wrote:

You're doing it wrong.
Oh, okay! Thanks!
I sense a lot of passive-aggressiveness in this one.
Posted: Mon, 28th Feb 2011, 9:02am

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I actually rather liked the graphics in Minecraft. By being so simplistic, they activate my imagination more. A bit like how simplistic cartoon drawings can be more successful than sophisticated CG people.

Descending underground and finding a cave network full of monsters, or rounding the corner of a cliff to find a half-mile-high waterfall cascading out, or building my house on the end of a frozen ice lake, with a small balcony overlooking it....all these things have conjured up stuff in my brain that is far more evocative and memorable than most of the top tier, mega budgets titles I've played.

Of course, that's not to say that I wouldn't like to try a version with Crysis quality graphics. smile But given that you're never going to get an indie developer that is capable of doing that kind of production quality while still innovating as much as the Minecraft devs, I'd rather take simplistic graphics over stale gameplay for now.
Posted: Tue, 1st Mar 2011, 5:18am

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Aculag

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I spent some time with the Minecraft Wiki, learned how to craft, learned what all the various crap I picked up was, and.... I think I finally get it, and it's a lot of fun. I can definitely see myself spending many many hours playing this.
Posted: Tue, 1st Mar 2011, 9:27am

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Simon K Jones

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As Pooky mentioned elsewhere, it'd be great to set up a persistent server for FXhome people to roam about in together. Anybody have a good connection and an always-on machine they could put to good use? smile


As for the Dragon Age 2 demo...while I like the tweaked interface and animations, the whole thing seemed incredibly dreary and repetitive and reminded me of the worst parts of the original game (ie, the whole dwarven caverns bits).
Posted: Tue, 1st Mar 2011, 3:34pm

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Aculag

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Tarn wrote:

As for the Dragon Age 2 demo...while I like the tweaked interface and animations, the whole thing seemed incredibly dreary and repetitive and reminded me of the worst parts of the original game (ie, the whole dwarven caverns bits).
Agreed. Although I'm sure the landscape in the demo is only part of the world, and there will be more variety than that, it was awfully bland. It's also 90% combat with the rest being interactive cut-scenes at best. Color me unimpressed.
Posted: Tue, 1st Mar 2011, 3:55pm

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Simon K Jones

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Roll on Witcher 2 and Deus Ex 3 - those are the two RPG-related titles I'm excited about in the next few months.
Posted: Tue, 1st Mar 2011, 4:29pm

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Sollthar

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I really hope Deus Ex 3 will be good. Deus Ex 1 was simply fantastic. Deus Ex 2 was ok at best, hence a disappointment.

I have high hopes as well as high fears for it.
Posted: Tue, 1st Mar 2011, 4:33pm

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Simon K Jones

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A massive load of previews came out today and were all very positive - which they always are, of course, but most of the journos in this case seemed to be fans of the original Deus Ex, and were still excited about the new one.

So, yes, here's hoping!
Posted: Wed, 2nd Mar 2011, 11:06am

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Rating: +1

DX6channel wrote:

Since your talking about Minecraft:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uyxVmdaJ-w

I did not make this.
Yeah, we know you didn't make it because Sidewinder and Mechaforce did... Man, kids these days don't even recognize the old schoolers....
Posted: Wed, 2nd Mar 2011, 11:47pm

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Yahtzee of TheEscapistMagazine touches upon my gripe about free exploration and as many side-quests as you can possibly want, when you'd rather want focus on the main plot and story flow, in his review of Two Worlds II.
Posted: Thu, 3rd Mar 2011, 1:28am

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Pooky

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I get where you and he are coming from - heavily scripted interactive movie-games can be and are completely mindblowing when done right. But that doesn't mean massive explorable worlds full of life and things to discover aren't also great unsure

"Flow" is something that only exists when your aim is to guide the viewer/player through a carefully planned storyline... So saying it's missing from an open-ended game seems kind of redundant to me. You create your own pace in Fallout.
Posted: Thu, 3rd Mar 2011, 9:42am

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Yeah. That's true. How people mentioned in this thread the amount of adventures they'd been on in Minecraft where there is no script at all sounds very interesting.

Also a friend of mine said to me yesterday (I hadn't mentioned Bioware or RPGs at all, he just asked me if I'd seen the trailer for Skyrim) that some of the adventures he'd had in Oblivion just felt so personal, like he was completley transported to another world. He thought they felt so unique to him that he could just write about them when the teacher asks you to write a short story in English or Norwegian class. wink I can see how people become really invested in that kind of game as well.
Posted: Sat, 5th Mar 2011, 10:57pm

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Aculag

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I have indeed been having great adventures in Minecraft. Mostly attempting to build stuff during the day, and then getting murdered at night. But I recently discovered doors, so I'm making progress.

The Wiki makes it abundantly clear that it's a terrible idea to dig straight down or up, which is hilarious to me, because that's all I did when I first tried playing, and it always had terrible results. I figured a game called Minecraft should be about building mine shafts. wink No wonder it took me so long to come around.

On the graphics note, I do really love the style of Minecraft, but if I had my way, it would look like 3D Dot Game Heroes.
Posted: Thu, 10th Mar 2011, 4:37am

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Pooky

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Soooo. 13 hours into Dragon Age 2. Have not left the same damn city (reportedly 90% of the game takes place in the same city). Have seen the same dungeon about 20 times. There has yet to be any real epic story other than inter-character stuff. They took out the ability to talk to your companions, it is now a quest where you go to their house and they say one line. Combat has no strategy because once you beat the first wave, enemies spawn randomly and attack from all sides. The story keeps skipping years and months and weeks, and feels disjointed.

Graphics, art design, UI, characters and dialogue wheel are nice, though. Basically, it feels like it could've been an awesome game with another 1-2 years of development time. As it is, it's probably Bioware's worst game.
Posted: Thu, 10th Mar 2011, 9:05am

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Simon K Jones

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Pooky wrote:

Graphics, art design, UI, characters and dialogue wheel are nice, though. Basically, it feels like it could've been an awesome game with another 1-2 years of development time. As it is, it's probably Bioware's worst game.
Ouch. I do remember thinking when it was announced that it was being released surprisingly quickly after DA:O and seemed like a rather minimal-effort production. Compared to, say, Witcher 1 and 2 and the apparent time and effort they've poured into that sequel.
Posted: Thu, 10th Mar 2011, 11:26am

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Only played two hours myself yet. So far I like that they tried to use their signature gameplay on someone who's not "saving the world" and is just a refugee.

What I don't like is that I have to play it on low (or medium) because of my old graphics card, and now I'm thinking I maybe should have got it for the PS3.
Posted: Thu, 10th Mar 2011, 11:29am

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Dragon Age has never been a visually impressive game, though, so it shouldn't harm the overall experience much. In fact, it's a bit odd how primitive it appears technically, while still being quite demanding in terms of system specs.

It's not unlocked in the UK until Friday, at which point I'll be able to render some kind of verdict. smile
Posted: Thu, 10th Mar 2011, 12:00pm

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Tarn wrote:

In fact, it's a bit odd how primitive it appears technically, while still being quite demanding in terms of system specs.


Yes, that's my complaint as well. I've seen videos online, and it doesn’t look much different on Very High (with DirectX 11) than on Low (with Dx9). You get better textures, lighting and shadows, but fire and water looks a lot alike. Mass Effect 2 runs just fine as looks amazing on the same computer. That's my biggest complaint so far. As to what Pooky said, I'll wait and see. I'm pretty sure even if it's Bioware's worst game, it will still be awesome (and reviewers seem to agree with me, many even think it's better than Origins).

As Tarn I'm behind because of release dates. It came out in Norway today.
Posted: Thu, 10th Mar 2011, 3:53pm

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Pooky

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I play maxed out on DX11 with all the fancy effects as well as the official hires texture addon and it looks MASSIVELY better than medium or high to me. Quite pretty, actually.

I also thought the game was promising initially, but give it a few hours. The parts of the world you've seen are the same for the entire remaining 28 hours. You never move. Quest structure never changes. And that one dungeon I keep seeing is in about 60% of missions, only you enter from different points and some sections get closed off. I'm having fun regardless, but it's really disappointing.
Posted: Thu, 10th Mar 2011, 9:46pm

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Pooky wrote:

And that one dungeon I keep seeing is in about 60% of missions, only you enter from different points and some sections get closed off. I'm having fun regardless, but it's really disappointing.
I noticed that dungeon already, and I'm only eight hours in (have been to it three times). So far I agree that it's fun (I think it's a good game), but yes it's disappointing. My main disappointment so far however, is with the story (*gasp!*). I just feel no need to find out what happens to Hawke. When I'd played 8 hours of Origins, I was rambling to my father (old fashioned guy who dosen't "get" video-games) about how I was itching to beat the Archdemon. I was anxious to get beck in the game to see if I could save Ferelden.

And I thought it was interesting that Bioware was going to try their hand at a less grand tale, but it's not working so far for me. It's coming back to my compliant about Bethesda games. I need to know where this is going. I need to know that this will be epic, because frankly Bioware, just playing DA2 for teh lulz is not enough for me.

I know the prologue is supposed to serve that function. Alright, so I become "The Champion". What does that mean (I know I'm not supposed to know yet)? Is that the ending? Will I get to help the Chantry put the world back together? Or are you saving that for Dragon Age 3? Because if I haven't caught up to Varric's story by the end of the second act, I'm very suspicious about this story. Fortunately reviewers are saying that it's a great RPG (one reviewer said the best of the decade so far), and that it lasts 40-60 hours and is completley engrossing. I just hope it takes off. Because this story structure reminds me of GTA4 and Red Dead Redemption and lord knows I haven't finished either of those games (in RDR I basically only liked the Mexican part, because that part flowed like a movie). Same goes for Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. I finished it, but I was bored a lot of the time.

So I'm keeping my hopes up, because of my trust in Bioware and the reviews. Hopefully this game will grab me, but even if it does I find it hard to believe that it holds a candle to KotOR, Mass Effect and DA:O.

I told my brother what I hoped would happen around the start of the third act: Hawke says to Varric that he has to do "something", but the story has already hinted that the ["something"/quest/whatever] won't work. Hawke hasn't figured it out, but the player has. The solution would be to *talk to Varric*, but after this scene Varric says in the present that it was the last time he saw "The Champion". As he said at the start; he has no idea where Hawke is. As Varric's story ends; the Chantry lady goes batshit because she understands she listened to all that crap for nothing. She looses control and attacks Varric, but bashing down the door in a "dramatic film-entrance", to come to Varric's rescue and "put the world back together" for the Chantry, is Hawke! Yay! We get a crowning moment of awesome, and seeing Hawke's endless "Rise to power" actually amounts to something when he uses his power for protagonist-stuff. Like saving the world. Fighting a war. Saving a princess. Something. Because I will feel cheated if the end is "Hawke became rich a powerful after all those basic quests"; The End. "To see how the prologue came into this; wait for the sequel."

Just please Bioware, give me a giant main plot quest like the Circle Tower (Broken Circle) from DA:O, or Orzammar (A Paragon of her kind). I just can't stomach playing an entire game of side-quests (in recycled environments no less). I would have bought a Rockstar game.

PS: I just want to say that I acknowledge what a brilliant game RDR was (and much better than GTA4), I was just a bit bored for everything but the whole act in Mexico (which really captured me). And I just think something feels off when your second act is the most exiting.
Posted: Sat, 12th Mar 2011, 7:23am

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Pooky

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20 hours in now. Oddly, it's gotten better, but without actually fixing anything. The story, while not epic at all, is quite addictive and features some really great moments and really interesting characters (much, much, much more interesting characters than the original). It's a lot less generic than Origins was in terms of story material and themes, which makes it harder to predict (while at the same time possibly making it feel a bit aimless sometimes). After 20 hours, I just kind of got used to the fact that this all takes place pretty much in the same place the whole time, and learned to deal with it. The result is something inherently flawed due to it being rushed, but completely addictive and fun nonetheless.
Posted: Sat, 12th Mar 2011, 8:07am

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Yeah, I've had exactly the same experience. It kind of won me over after the Deep Roads expedition. It became really addictive like you say.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Mar 2011, 5:45pm

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Aculag

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I just bought DA2 on Steam last night, and have enjoyed it so far (less than an hour, I'd say). The graphics are so much better than the first one, and the main city is downright gorgeous, so I don't think I'll mind spending the entire game there. Can't say much for the story or characters so far, but the gameplay has been enjoyable.

I was also pleasantly surprised that my new computer runs the game flawlessly at maxed settings. That's something I've never been able to do before, so it's a big deal for me.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Mar 2011, 9:02am

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Simon K Jones

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Aculag wrote:

I was also pleasantly surprised that my new computer runs the game flawlessly at maxed settings. That's something I've never been able to do before, so it's a big deal for me.
While my computer has no trouble running it on high settings, there's a bug in the game that conflict with DirectX10 nVidia GPUs which causes the game to freeze up at random. Currently waiting for either Bioware or nVidia to fix it - most annoying!
Posted: Sun, 10th Apr 2011, 6:31am

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Aculag

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Well, I finished the story tonight. I was really impressed up until the very ending, which let me down. It seemed rushed, and made the whole thing feel pointless. I'll probably play through it again and do things a lot differently to see how it plays out, because I didn't find the ending satisfying at all.

The final battle, however, was brilliant. Much, much better than DA:O. Not wanting to spoil anything, I'll just say that was an enemy I never expected to battle. Genius.

I would say it's a better game than the first one, but the open-ended, no explanation ending didn't work for me.
Posted: Sun, 10th Apr 2011, 12:59pm

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A better game? o.O

I can understand people liking it more than Origins, but it cant be called a better game. The re-visiting of the same dungeon 10+ times, the very short "Main story missions", the "has nothing to do with anything"-second act, which was only so Hawke could earn the title of "Champion", the re-using of every area in the game just made the whole game feel rushed.

Which is was. Origins had a development time of 5-6 years. Dragon Age 2 was made under EA's "You have to make a game per year, per IP"-policy, which might work for crap like Fifa, but not for giant Bioware games. Honestly Dragon Age 2 is a 6/10 or 7/10 if you're being generous. It's just very disappointing after the enormous game that was Origins. If the point of Dragon Age 2 was to tell a personal story about a group of people, then they should have made all the missions much more personal. Why don't I know who Bethany is? Why don't I ever talk to Mother? Because EA gave Bioware no time to make that, is why.

But I don't really care about Dragon Age 2. Origins was self-contained and it didn't take anything away from Origins that Dragon Age 2 was rushed. Mass Effect 3 I'm very worried about. That has also only had a year and a half development time, and the shortest time of any Mass Effect-game. That dosen't bode well. Things that are optimistic are that Mass Effect 3 didn't have any major changes to game-engine and gameplay to deal with like Dragon Age 2. So all the time could go to making the actual game. Also Mass Effect 3 should have a higher budget and a bigger staff.

The problems is that the final DLC for Mass Effect 2 was critically revived as rushed. Hmmm. I hope EA knows what they have in Bioware. They have sunk many developers with their moronic business model. Bioware still exists because it makes money. It dosen't need EA's help to make money. So let them be.

Also Mass Effect 2 is the most critically acclaimed game EA has ever published. The amount of memes, and place in gaming culture it has is quite special. Mass Effect 3 is like the Return of the King of gaming. They can't mess it up. It would be a small tragedy. I hope the immense backlash Dragon Age 2 faced gave EA and Bioware an idea that they can't do what they did. Nothing would make me happier than to hear that Mass Effect 3 was pushed back a year. I can wait, just make it awesome.
Posted: Sun, 10th Apr 2011, 5:23pm

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Aculag

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I'd call it a better game because I enjoyed the graphics, combat, character interaction, and diversity of missions a lot more. Half way through the game, I stopped noticing that the locations were recycled, because I was having too much fun. I actually cared for some of the NPCs, which I didn't do in DA:O, so the more personal touch worked, even without being able to have a deep conversation with someone in the middle of the street for some reason.

I don't know where all the Mass Effect 2 talk is coming from, because there is no comparing the two. ME2 is an outright classic. DA2 is a fun diversion. I'm not saying it's the best game ever, I just personally enjoyed it more than the first one.

I do agree that the story is disjointed, and a lot of the time when someone would say something like "It's been years" I'd be like "huh? Years?" Isabela for example. According to the game, she was gone for three years before the confrontation with the Arishok, but I didn't get a sense that any time at all had passed. That happened numerous times. The only thing that seemed to change was the time of day, and what people called the PC. The characters mostly all wear the same thing for the whole game, never age at all, and nothing in the city changes over all of these supposed years that have passed. I also couldn't help but wonder what the point of having Flemeth show up in the beginning was. I expected her to play a larger role, but she was there and gone in one scene.

My biggest issue with the ending was the fact that Varric says that over time, one by one, all of the NPCs left the Champion. All except Isabela. That made absolutely no sense in my game, because, while I was friends with Isabela, I was romantically involved with Merrill. If anything, I expected her to be the one to stick around, but they gave no reason why anyone left in the first place. Isabela arguably had the most initiative to leave, having her own pirate ship, and an actual desire to be out doing other things. But like I said earlier, the ending made no sense to me, and just seemed really rushed and way too open-ended for the story.

I do have a lot of complaints with the game, but what can I say? I had a lot of fun with it, and don't regret playing it in the least. I found it an improvement over the first game, despite its many flaws.
Posted: Mon, 11th Apr 2011, 8:55am

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Simon K Jones

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Aculag wrote:

I'll probably play through it again and do things a lot differently to see how it plays out
With Portal 2 out in the next week (!!!) and Witcher 2 out next month, good luck finding the time for that. wink
Posted: Mon, 11th Apr 2011, 2:39pm

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Aculag

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Tarn wrote:

With Portal 2 out in the next week (!!!) and Witcher 2 out next month, good luck finding the time for that. wink
Hah! Well, it won't be right away. I had to redeem my free copy of Mass Effect 2 of course, so now I'm playing that. And wishing it had the same controls as Dragon Age on PC...
Posted: Mon, 11th Apr 2011, 2:43pm

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Simon K Jones

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Ick. I much prefer the more direct control in ME - more like every other 3rd person game. The bizarre camera and control system in Dragon Age is a bit of a leftover from the old KotOR/NWN days and is rather arbitrary. Not in what it does, but how it does it.

Although going immediately from one to the other could be rather confusing, I imagine. razz
Posted: Mon, 11th Apr 2011, 2:50pm

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Aculag

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Tarn wrote:

Although going immediately from one to the other could be rather confusing, I imagine. razz
Exactly. I don't prefer DA controls by any means, but I started playing ME2 the same day I finished DA2, so of course, I still try to do things like turn the camera with the right mouse button. smile
Posted: Mon, 11th Apr 2011, 10:57pm

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Pooky

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Any of you have Dead Rising 2 on the PC? Coop seems really fun.