Archive for November, 2010

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakenings and Romance – Point / Counter Point

Dragon Age: Origins - AwakeningI love comments of all shapes and sizes. As long as they are good I will pet them, hug them, and place them on my mantle for all to see. A good comment truly makes my day. I good comment is anything that it thought out and has any valid point to make. Good comments don’t always agree however they are still interesting. Usually when people disagree with something we’ve said we find it interesting but try not to engage in a debate with them. It’s their opinion and more power to them for having it. However once in a while someone else responds. What you see below is one such instance.

A while back I wrote a post that met with general agreement: Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: No Romance, No Tenting? As the title suggests it was a piece that helped answer the question “can you tent in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening?”. One commenter (ttruthbetold) had this to say on the subject:

This website has somewhat false info. For one thing it’s mission focused yes… and your character may mess around after your romances in Origins but others don’t. For instance, my favorite warrior’s romance with Lelianna continued after I finished awakening. It told me how he ‘retired’ from commander of the greywardens and never returned to the keep. Only to be seen beside his love the red head bard Lelianna. and so on so forth… So in a sense relationships do carry over.

And this problem doesn’t take away from the game. Unless you want to slut your previous char around. Where I do see a problem is if you start an ‘orlesian’ warden and you want to romance one of the characters. But it still doesn’t take away from the game IMO… unless you like to hoe around lol – if so… more power to you, but quit whining.

Well played, sir…well played. I was content to let it slide even though I disagreed, but then we received a comment that I could not ignore. Kytti, who Kat instantly became a fan of because of the name, disagreed with ttruthbetold. She says:

Actually, I believe what the issue is partly the fact that romancing and developing relationships with the other characters in the game is one of the major features of this game that many have come to love. The fact that it’s been stripped away takes away from the gameplay for many many people.

And while you may have had a relationship with someone in DAO and want to remain faithful to them is fine, there are also the people who didn’t have a relationship with any of the DAO characters, etc.

Also while you might be satisfied with a summary of who knows how many years of your character’s life, done in ONE measly paragraph a great many more are not.

I for one found the character development one of the things that made the game and story so wonderful and something to draw you in further. As a description of the games says ‘Immerse yourself in a shattered world’ and ‘Experience complex moral decisions that have game-changing consequences’ it really is not surprising that people would be heavily disappointed when a so-called expansion comes about that takes those interesting and dynamic experiences away.

I don’t know how many people will agree with me on this point, but from what I have read on several forums I’m not the only one who feels cheated. The ending of the game was so incredibly anti-climactic that I could only stare at the credits with disbelief, thinking… WTF?! I also wondered if I’d messed anything up for it to end so abruptly… but nope, that’s normal. So to add insult to injury they then teased with an ‘expansion’ that didn’t EXPAND onto the game, rather tried to stretch it out for as little effort as possible.

It’s like Bioware just gave us an incredible, and special experience, then left without so much as a goodbye. ‘Wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ if you know that saying.
Wham- you slay the archdemon, your regaled as the hero of Fereldan, your friends go off on their adventures and you are promised more time with your beloved (except for those with none, or Morrigan of course)… then… a disappointing 5 minute read of summary that while ended things left promises unfulfilled and unsatisfied…
BAM- ‘Guess what everyone, you get an expansion onto Origins using your PC (if you want) and get to go off on another adventure! But wait… several of the favorite gameplay features isn’t available anymore. Oh, and sorry none of your favorite characters will actually be around besides cameos’
Thank you ma’am!

And piling on yet another disappointment, this expansion isn’t even fully canon to the storyline for everyone. For those who became ruler of Fereldan… How the heck did you get away from court, WITHOUT bodyguards or troops to go adventuring? Or, using my first ending as an example:
Alistair and my character are together, and while he isn’t King, we both decide to stay with the Grey Wardens, together. Even the one paragraph summary at the ending states that Alistair never left her side except for the short time to make a memorial for Duncan. So, I ask… if he never leaves her side, then how can Awakening be canon if he only shows up for a short time for a conversation, and then the PC goes off galavanting… and without any other wardens as well for help, since she is the Commander? It can’t be. So, forgive me for feeling betrayed… but that IS what has happened to myself and many many others.

As someone pointed out in one of the other forums I read, and with which I agree, the other DLC’s are sexist. Witch Hunt- revolves around Morrigan and that is only 1-2 hour advertisement for DA2 it seems. And Leliana’s story is a prequel.

Bioware wake up and smell the coffee! Why are the characters being made 2D in personality after giving us ones with so much more depth first? It certainly can not be for the sake of money making, since every character has tremendous potential to have a continuation afterwards… like a TRUE expansion! And I would bet, despite the fact I have terrible luck, that those continuations would make a lot of money since people would want to experience them for in the very least their favorites. And most likely a lot of fans would want to experience them all. While there was a go made at expanding on things for Morrigan, that was cheapened, and the others, Zevran, Wynne, Shale, Leliana, Oghren, Sten and (my personal fave) Alistair were abandoned.

As a writer myself, I cannot understand how easily Bioware’s writer could do this to their own characters as well. It’s like killing them off, without really doing so and leaving many loose ends unsatisfied. Honestly, I hope that the writer is haunted by these characters until they are given the respect they deserve.

And Bioware, don’t you think your fans at the very least deserve more then a void of dissatisfaction left in DAO’s wake?

I’m not against DA2, but while it sounds like another good game to come it’s like another slap in the face to many of the good people who loved DAO so much. You would think that with each game that comes along in a series there would be more features, or at the very least the same. But DA2 takes away from them, the biggest that I know of so far is taking away our choice of PC race. Personally I dislike being forced into playing a human when there are other races available. Truly is it giving us the chance to build our PC around a fantasy version that we want when you have no choice? I don’t believe so. I know that it wouldn’t get changed anyways since it’s so close to when it’s supposed to be done, but I hope that this is something Bioware will consider if enough people voice their opinion regarding it.

Perhaps fellow Canadians that live near Bioware should do a protest there XD That would be hard to ignore!

But seriously, I think it’s in poor taste if they abandon DAO altogether after such disappointing continuations. They should not tease with promises that they give up on so easily.

Anywho, that’s it from me, just had to get that all off my chest. Join me in crossing your fingers in the hope that Bioware will wake up and realize the injustice they are doing to themselves, DA and their fans…

So now the question is….who do YOU find yourself agreeing with?


(polls)

Both parties raise very valid points. Both opinions have merit. Both opinions are thought provoking. Let us know below if you have more of an opinion. Who knows, your comment may wind up in another Dragon Age: Origins – Awakenings post. One thing however is certain, don’t touch Oghren’s junk.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Lionhead versus BioWare: The Emotional Battle

I’ve got to hand it to Lionhead Studios.

They’ve done it.  They really have.  I’m quite proud of them.

This Dog Smells Spoilers Ahead

What, exactly, have they done?  Well they’ve finally, FINALLY managed to really tug on my heartstrings.  With a human, that is.  The dog in Fable II was adorable, but doesn’t quite match an attachment to a human.

And yes, this post is spoileriffic.  If you haven’t finished Fable III yet (or Dragon Age & Mass Effect 1&2, for that matter), you won’t want to keep reading.

The thing about Fables I and II was that you never really felt a human connection, and emotional pull towards anyone, or any type of loyalty.  Of course Fable gave you the option to marry and have children; however all the characters you could marry were flat, one dimensional, cardboard cutouts that could easily be replaced by the next guy or gal.  I would have no qualms over leading my husband through Wraithmarsh or along the Bandit Coast and having him be killed in some way.  The characters that were unique and interesting (the far and few between) didn’t have the option of marrying.

But Fable III, I’m happy to say, has gone beyond the boring and identical characters (although plenty of them still exist).  In the very beginning of this game, you will encounter a person of opposite gender named Elliot or Elise.  You’ll learn that this person is your lover of sorts.  About 2 minutes later, you’ll have to decide if you want to kill your lover or a group of villagers.  If that doesn’t sound too bad to you, imagine letting your lover live, only to end up being apart from them.  That is, until you embark upon a quest to find a kidnapped fiancee…only to find that the fiancee missing is your former lover!

And at that point, you’re given the option to choose if that person should stay with their betrothed, or if they should move on…to you.

You really want to kill him?!

Yeah, it’s a tricky choice you’re given, and while there aren’t a whole lot of repercussions (a few good or evil points, depending on if you ask them to leave their betrothed or not), I want to applaud Lionhead Studios for giving us gamers such a difficult decision.  Even though I played a good character the whole way through, after re-meeting Elliot and hearing him talk about how he still loved me, I couldn’t bear to give him up.

However, I want to point to my favorite video game developer, BioWare.  BioWare REALLY knows how to manipulate emotions and make the player feel connected to characters even though they aren’t real.  For example, in BioWare’s game Dragon Age, when you go to fight the final boss, it is inevitable that the boss will kill someone, and you have to decide who it will kill; yourself, one of your comrades, or, in a strange twist of events, you can have someone sleep with and impregnate a witch in order to save everyone.  Imagine, if you will, you play as a female, begin a romance with your fellow team member, and then, if you want both yourself and him to live at the end, you have to force him to sleep with the witch.

Yeah, that’s painful.  See this post to glimpse the depths of my despair when I decided I wanted both of us to live.

Or what about BioWare’s epic space game, Mass Effect 2, when finally meet up with your lover from the first Mass Effect?  You were separated for two years, imagine the pain you put your lover through… and the anger they throw back at you.

So, congratulations Lionhead Studios, for finally instilling some powerful [human] emotion into the Fable series, but you’ve still got a long way to go if you want to make a true mark in that area.

-Kat

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 Review

About a week and a half ago it came in the mail. I was a Star Wars fan-boy growing up and still am to this day. The Force Unleashed was a simple wet dream for anyone who ever wanted to go absolutely buck wild with the Force and show gravity that we’re sick of living under its theoretical rule. However there were other matters at hand that kept me from playing. I was married October 30’th and quickly hit the honeymoon. There my wife put up a rule of “Absolutely no video games or Polish the Console.” She won that round so when I got back I decided it was time to get to work. I had done everything imaginable to stay away from other reviews of the game. If I hadn’t then I would have known what was ahead of me.

star wars the force unleashed 2 trailer image

This is what this game could have been. Dark, brooding, awesome.

I couldn’t wait to get back into the boots of Starkiller and traverse the galaxy throwing Stormtroopers through windows. I could only hope a few Jawas would get tossed into a large ship or chasm because, well…what else do you do with Jawas?

What I got started off on a strong note and then slowly Force Choked itself to death.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 – Controls

The controls for The Force Unleashed 2 were absolutely tightened up when compared to the previous outing. Force gripping behaved more intuitively and precisely. Plus the addition of being able to manipulate multiple objects at once became really fun.  This did however become a bit of a problem when you had to be precise with your force pickups however it wasn’t a game breaker. Force powers definitely got a big upgrade in the control department.

That being said lightsaber combat took a step back. They added the fun addition of “grapple” where you hit two buttons together and you either do a Force manipulations and lightsaber combo, or just lightsaber the hell out of the guy. However there were only two to choose from. It never varied to anything more interesting, never allowed to learn new moves. It fell flat. Add onto this that there was no variation in what you did with your lightsabers. In the first game the speed with which you tapped the lightsaber attack button caused for new combos to be unleashed. It became interesting to find the right timing and use for them. There was none of that in the Force Unleashed 2. It was almost pure button mashing.

However it was enjoyable button mashing.

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2’s controls get a 4/5

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 -Gameplay

Star Wars The Force Unleased 2 from Lucas Arts

Nothing to worry about when this pup's leash is off. It's not a fighter.

The Force Unleashed 2 does a good job of not breaking the environment. Everything flows naturally and there are no awkward load screen pauses. The downside is that I was seemingly unable to skip these scenes on my first play through. I’m willing to admit pilot error on this one. Just how the hell do you skip these things? I just don’t want to watch all of them all the time.

Conversations via communicators help to create a sense of urgency, although I feel they could have done a better job addressing these communications by a little more than “I see you still use the same com frequency.” Really guys? Couldn’t get more creative than that? Hell even ignoring it all together most likely would have made me think…well…nothing. You just had to blatantly address this? Really?

Then there is Starkiller’s incessant whining about having to find Juno and not caring about the Rebellion. While I can certainly understand his goals and his drive does he really have to keep on about it? At some point I was praying someone somewhere would just say “Hey, Mr. Jedi….stop being a whiny bitch and just do it.”

Not to mention there is a level that is 100% pointless. Dagobah’s entire purpose is to throw a few crystals, spheres, and a fancy pants movie that you can’t interact with at you. Forget adding a fun Force puzzle, or at least one boss that requires me to fire up the twin lightsabers. Nope, walk a little bit. Jump a little bit. Find a small green Jedi and sit back and watch a movie. I wanted to pull a X-Wing from a swamp damnit! I know this takes place in events after the game, but let me pull SOMETHING awesome from the swamps. Anything….

I sat down thinking I was coming back from my honeymoon to a great story that would take me a while to get through. I was ready for an all day all night Star Wars love fest that would leave me panting, sweaty, and red eyed for work come Monday morning. I didn’t get that. It took me 6 hours. Yes. 6 hours. Instead of a Force fueled nerdtastic Star Wars honeymoon of sweaty Jedi love of my own I had game that prematurely ended all over itself just when things were starting to get enjoyable. It didn’t even say it was sorry. Or that this was the first time anything like this has ever happened. WTF TFU2!?!?!!It was absolutely the let down of my gaming year.

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2’s gameplay gets a 1/5

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 -Graphics

The graphics also received a much needed upgrade from the first outing. While I would never say that they were below average to begin with they seem tighter and more thought out. Everything from the clothing to the lightning got a wonderful upgrade. They took thought and care into showing how a TIE Fighter may look when being caught and crushed by an overwhelming amount of Force power to how an active lightsaber would react when hit by rain (spoiler alert: they steam). Its the massive and minor overhauls that really make this video game feel more polished than before.

There is one minor part that irked me about the first game that was never corrected. Every time a character walked in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed they looked like they were trudging through a muddy swamp with a pant load. It it was more of a lumbering than a natural fluid motion. This wasn’t really corrected. I can’t understand why nobody at Lucas Arts seems to notice that they character move as if they have a loaded diaper and are on a floor made of caramel.

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2’s graphics get a 4/5

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 -Story

And this is the part where the fan-boy in my takes a screaming dump. Canon aside the story ends when it really begins. They had this potential to take a really captivating and potentially moving story of Jedi love but instead they give you a half finished patch work blanket of Star Wars cameos. It’s like the blanket my grandmother made me back in the 80’s. Loved it, thought it was epic,  but it never felt truly…Star Wars worthy. The greatest part of The Force Unleashed was that it told the story of how the Rebellion came to be. The Force Unleashed 2 tells the story of how cranky a Jedi becomes when it won’t stop raining. That’s about it.

And not to ruin any spoilers, but in the last scene you will find yourself thinking “Either PROXY is a lying prick bastard or a total dumbass.”

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2’s story gets a 1/5

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 – Overall Score

Overall the shortcomings are insurmountable when compared to the improvements. It’s a hastily made, poorly concluded mess of a game. If you’re a total Star Wars junkie then grab it from GameFly or Blockbuster. Else just wait until it heavily discounted and used from GameStop. Save your money. Buy a dog instead. At least that will leave you feeling rewarded.

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 gets an overall score of 2/5

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)