I want to believe in Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Reviews went up pretty early for Dragon Age: Inquisition and the consensus appears to be that Bioware’s fantasy franchise is back on track. I want to believe the reviews. I want to believe the hype. I want to believe in Bioware again.

I reviewed Dragon Age II in 2011 and called it a great game with a solid story that was hampered by lazy level design and restrictive character progression. I scored that game an 8.5, a score I almost want to reconsider.

I actually took the chance and played a little bit of Dragon Age II last month. I never finished the final DLC package for the game, the Felicia Day starring Mark of the Assassin, and decided to fire the game up to clear some space. Boy was that a mess. Yeah the signature Bioware flare and conversations were all there, but without the sweeping overarching story, there was really nothing driving me forward to play the DLC chapter other than the goal of completion. What was left without that story was the mechanics of the game, naked in all its flaws.

I remember referencing the difference between Origins and II stating that the decision to streamline Dragon Age II’s skill progression and speeding up the combat both worked against the success of the game as a whole. This truth was even more evident in my brief playthrough as Tallis (the new companion in Mark of the Assassin) was a dual-wielding rogue, exactly like my Hawke. What resulted was an AI controlled character that constantly fought with me to keep spacing in fights and often found herself in trouble, leading to a couple ugly wipes against the harder fights in that game.

Any tactical advantage that would have been gained in Origins was negated by the decision to make Dragon Age II a frenetic, almost button-mashy, RPG. Complete with characters you are essentially locked into playing with.

So when review outlets are saying Dragon Age: Inquisition is a step in the right direction, I get the simultaneous sensations of excitement and dread. Because I want to believe that Bioware, some of the greatest storytellers in modern gaming, can remember how to actually craft a game.

Game Review: Dragon Age II – Sequel Syndrome

Dragon Age II

image credit: dragonage.bioware.com

BioWare has a flair for the epic. The studio that has carved out a hardcore following thanks to Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars inspired RPGs has become synonymous with epic role playing experiences in recent years. 2009’s Dragon Age: Origins, an original intellectual property that feels deeply rooted in lore akin to BioWare’s classic Baldur’s Gate, was a solid RPG that combined accessibility, complex gameplay, and BioWare’s gift for storytelling.

The sound foundation that Origins set should have allowed Dragon Age II to build on that freedom and immersion. Unfortunately, while Dragon Age II is a good game, it is not as taut as Origins. (Possible spoilers after the jump) Continue reading

Dragon Age II Initial Impressions

Dragon Age II

image credit: dragonage.bioware.com

After about 2-3 hours in I feel I can give a fairly good summary of my initial impressions of the game. A lot of my thoughts from the demo are reinforced through my first few hours, especially given that the demo is essentially the prologue of Dragon Age II. While the core concepts remain pretty consistent between Dragon Age II and its predecessor Dragon Age: Origins, there are several noticeable differences aside from Dragon Age II’s change in aesthetics. Many of the things in Dragon Age II are good, while some are a little irksome. Continue reading

Finally got my copy of Dragon Age II (and other release updates)

Since it seems that choosing not to recognize Daylight Savings results in Hawaii being in a permanent time flux, I just received my Signature Edition of Dragon Age II.

Daylight Savings

I’ve tried to avoid reading too much on the game as I want to remain surprised. I’m a little hesitant about being restricted to the city of Kirkwall as opposed to the sprawling country of Ferelden in Origins. In any case, I’m pretty excited to dive in and experience what I hope to be another BioWare epic.

Also releasing this week are a few titles I thought I’d make note of: Continue reading

My favorite BioWare moments

Gaming blog Screen Play, written by Jason Hill of The Sydney Morning Herald, featured a fan driven competition in search of gamer’s most memorable moments from BioWare’s many successful franchises. The contest, which ran in recognition of the release of BioWare’s Dragon Age II highlighted gamer’s memories every BioWare title from Baldur’s Gate to Mass Effect.

Popular choices included game shaking plot twists in Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect II, praises of gameplay elements in Jade Empire and Dragon Age: Origins and celebration of characters including everybody’s favorite blue alien Liara T’soni, the evil (and sarcastic) protocol droid HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic and the incomparable ranger Minsc from Baldur’s Gate and his miniature giant space hamster Boo.

Sadly, I have not received my copy of Dragon Age II yet as finding affordable shipping to my island state is difficult to say the least. I am however, excited for the game (as mentioned in my impressions of the demo) and have had my share of experiences to BioWare’s many franchises. I’d have to say my favorite BioWare moments have to be: Continue reading

Impressions – Dragon Age II Demo

Dragon Age II

image credit: dragonage.bioware.com

BioWare might be starting a trend of sorts.

When posed with the situation of following up a commercial and critical success, the temptation to stick to the formula is obviously the easiest way to go. Call of Duty didn’t become the best selling shooter by trying something new each iteration. Madden NFL may not receive accolades for innovation but it does receive credit for reliability.

Even BioWare stuck to the script when developing the sequel Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn that is arguably more polished and refined than its predecessor. So why fix what isn’t broken? Continue reading