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Reviews: Ur Doin’ It Wrong

November 7, 2009 2 comments

wrong-mike

Having seen this article over at Sarcastic Gamer, on the need for platform specificity when reviewing a game — in this case, Dragon Age: Origins, since that’s what everyone is talking about this week — and given that the author feels the need to call reviewers moronic, I want to clarify a few things for such of my readers as may actually give a shit. I’m not taking that article personally at all — the author doesn’t know me from Adam, or in this case Eve, but it did make me think.

(I happen to agree about the need for specificity when reviewing anything that comes in different flavours.)

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll already know that I don’t OWN any consoles. I won’t debate why. I’m not anti-console at all, I just don’t happen to have any in the house at the moment, and that may not change for some time. Therefore anything I play, I play on my PC. Besides which this is (mostly) a blog about MMOs, and last I checked you can’t really play MMOs on consoles.

For those of you who are new here, here’s the 411: I. Don’t. Do. Console. Reviews.

So if you read anything here, you can be 10 out of 10, 100%, A+ certain that it’s about a PC version.

Ahhh, that’s better. I don’t feel like quite so much of a moron now, nor nearly as shameless as I was before.

This post was not sponsored by anyone and I haven’t been paid. (Remember, the Endorsement Police Are Watching.)

Dragon Age: Origins — Two lousy hours

November 7, 2009 7 comments

(WARNING: Minor spoilerishness ahead.)

Porphyry_001Some of you are sick of hearing about Dragon Age: Origins. I’m looking at you, KIASA boys! Well, suck it up. It’s a great game and to make things worse I’ve only had a few hours to play it since I got it; okay okay, not counting the most-of-the-afternoon I spent on the first session. Since then, however, I’ve been neglecting NaNoWriMo and DA:O. Stupid real life. Stupid stuff that happens. Sometimes I wish I could be 17 again — as long as I get to keep my experience and brains. Physically 17, yay. Mentally 17, god help me no.

So uh, where was I? Ah yes, Ageing. I managed to get a little playtime in yesterday and got through the Origin for a low-class Dwarven warrior. That’s her to the left, of course, and Spinks was right — dwarven lasses are really rather cute. And clearly in possession of superior Gillette shaving power, even when completely down and out. Girl’s gotta have some standards, I guess, even if she is letting a total slimebag pimp out her sister.

Porphyry_002

That’s the slimebag in the middle. I was very interested to see that Porph’s sister (and other family members) all had the same red hair as she does. Did the game do that? Was it just total coinkidink? I’m almost tempted to start that one again with a different character just to see what they look like.

The Go Dwarf Brigade (you know who you are!) is likely to string me up for this one, but personally I find it hard to see what’s so damn amazing about dorfs. This might be because I’m rather dwarflike in real life, and I play games at least partly to experience a different condition — why be short and round when I can be tall and disproportionately skinny? Besides, I’m really, really bored of big stone underground dwarven cities with lava in them. YAWN! Been there, Ironforged that. Some may think it’s daft to care about whether one is indoors or out when it’s just on a screen, but I’m funny that way. So if I had a hard time connecting with this Origin story it may be more to do with me than with any failings in the story.

In fact I’m sure it is, because the story is the most M-rating deserving of the three I’ve played so far, and it’s rather good. It’s not filled with twists and turns and unexpected events, but that’s become pretty bloody hard to manage in fantasy and thus, for what it’s trying to do — which is to rip your character out of their comfortable or miserable life and send them off to the equivalent of the Ferelden Foreign Legion — it does very well. I’ll add these screenies as thumbnails so those of you who don’t even want to be picture-spoilered can’t see too much; the rest of you can click through.

Porphyry_003Porphyry_004

Porphyry_005Porphyry_006Porphyry_007

I like my Dwarven warrior gal, she’s feisty and she takes no shit from anyone — and she has the axes to stick in your skull to prove it. Maybe now that she’s away from the underground city and the whole smothering over-Dwarf atmosphere I might have a better time of it.

But that was only three of the six Origins, and so your dashing reporter saved and started yet another character. See how I work my rampant altoholism into a blogging virtue? As Dennis Hopper would say I am one suave f***.

Anyway, next up I thought I’d go back to the Elves, so I started up a City Elf rogue. Needing a contrast from feisty-cute, I made moody-emaciated Goth. Here she is in the miserable hovel she shares with her widower dad:

Threnody_001All I really know so far is nothing more than you can find out from the blurb, which is that there’s to be a wedding and that my character is somehow involved. (Okay, I know a bit more than that by now but I’m not going to spoil it.) I’ve already seen that the range of dialogue responses is quite large, from the “Oh yay, I’m so brainlessly happy!” to “Grrr, I won’t do this (whatever it is) because I’m a miserable bitch AND I’m feeling emo today. So sod off!” with a selection in between.

One thing I’ve noticed with almost all the Origins is that there really are choices. I’m not entirely sure to what extent they influence the plot of a given Origin since you do after all have to end up in the wider world and at a specific place, but they do provide at least the illusion of choice and even just that is rather nice in an intro phase. I’m quite sure now that the decisions my characters make after the intro will have a long-reaching effect on how the game turns out in detail for them. More importantly for me, choices help you to establish who your character is by deciding what they’d do in given situations, and that’s the essence of role-playing in what is, after all, an RPG. Sure, it’s a little multiple-choice still these days, but Dragon Age: Origins does a pretty good job at masking the mechanics behind a tapestry of high-quality dialogue and acting.

I’m looking forward to the next two hours I can rip, blood-spattered and screaming, out of the fabric of my life!

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