Friday, July 29, 2011

The Age of Dragons

Today's guest post comes from none other than my sister's husband. Jeez, that's going to take some getting used to. "My sister's husband."

What lover of Medieval fantasy doesn’t like a good story about dragons!? I personally have a great love for the gargantuan beasts of reptilian reason; the elemental powerhouses that rule games all across the globe. One game in particular really piqued my interest: Dragon Age: Origins.

Sten the Quinari in DA:O

Dragon Age: Origins is possibly my favorite game created yet. Combining the ever-classic races of Dwarves, Elves and Humans, spinning together their stereotypes in a completely new and creative world; Dragon Age has not only exceeded my expectations for a game, but changed them.

You see, I like a good story. I like a game that has a well-thought-out villain, or a complex problem that needs to be addressed. I like a story where the Hero is not only traveling to new lands, meeting new people, and learning new skills, but is also developing as a person (or an animal, in some games). The complexity or depth of character development is something that can really make a game.

The fascinating thing about Dragon Age is that the character development is entirely up to you. Your responses to questions can span multiple personalities. I could play as a mage ten different times, each time with the same powers and the same skills, and be a completely different character each playthrough. For me to even talk about a second playthrough is rather unheard of. Some of the best games in the world (in my own opinion) I have only played through once. Dragon Age, however, has the ability to literally be different games each playthrough (or seemingly).

Not only have I played through twice, but I have also purchased most of the DLC (Downloadable Content) and played through the expansion pack (Dragon Age: Awakening) three times. So understand my excitement for Dragon Age 2.

Fighting a Rage Demon in DA2

Dragon Age 2 had a fantastic story. In fact, the story was broken up into three complete Acts. The development of the issues between the Qunari and the other races, and the tensions between the Templars and the Magi, were all really well thought out and really well told. DA2 was awesome story-wise, but it wasn’t until playing the #2 to my #1 game that I realized there is more to a game than the story.

Let me explain a bit:

You are searching for a certain artifact and the quest tells you to go to the harbor district and look around. While gathering information in the harbor district, you find that you must enter Warehouse 3 and beat up all the baddies to get the artifact. Upon defeating all the baddies, you notice a door that you cannot unlock, nor interact with in any way. Even stranger is the fact that the mini-map continues on in that direction. After spending quite some time trying to figure it out you leave to go on another quest.

The second quest tells you to go to another part of town to a completely different warehouse. When you enter this warehouse, it is exactly the same! Everyone in Kirkwall has the same architect, and that architect is lazy and only has one floor plan. Do you remember that door? The one that happens to be in the same place? Well, now you can open it and go through where the mini-map said you can go through…

Why take a fantastic game and toss out a second that is nowhere near as good? Not only did they lazily recycle maps, but Bioware made it so that items can only be equipped by your main character, instead of your main character being able to pass off any almost-as-cool-as-the-one-he's-using items to your party members. For example, my helm gave me +1,000,000 attack, and I found the super helm that gave me +1,000,001 attack. Instead of being able to give a cool bonus to my companions as well, I had to choose one or the other for myself.

Not everything in DA2 was bad. The graphics were far better and combat was improved. It was just way too redundant.

All in all, Dragon Age as a whole (DA:O, DA:A, & DA2) combine to make the beginning of a really awesome gaming world. I just hope Bioware takes a play out of Blizzard's rulebook and waits before pumping out another game, even if it takes 12 years to do so.


Jess said...

The term you are looking for is brother in law. :P

Flashman85 said...

The term I am looking for is, "WHAAAAA????" I'm still wrapping my head around this.

Double :p