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Posts Tagged ‘bioware’

Dragon My Feet Back To Ferelden

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I was really excited for the first Dragon Age game. High fantasy is one of my favourite genres and I was looking forward to a return to classic swords-and-sorcery fantasy. While the game had a lot of high points, I was ultimately frustrated beyond belief by the unbalanced power curve that placed magic far above everything else, the incompetent AI of my party members and the exhausting pacing of some of the quests. That said, I have been told that the PC version is superior and the game was highly acclaimed for a lot of good reasons. I chalked it up to a personal misfortune, a game that was a misfire for me but ultimately a success otherwise. So it was with caution that I approached Dragon Age 2, a game that takes the lore of Ferelden and incorporates many of the gameplay elements from Mass Effect 2, a game that I absolutely loved. The demo for the Xbox 360 version was released today (at a heifty 1.98Gb) and I got stuck in to see just what kind of game lay ahead.

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The Straight Line

January 24, 2011 7 comments

Linearity has become a curse word in the videogames industry over the past five years. Fewer words these days can sink a game’s reputation faster. Take the controversial Final Fantasy XIII: surrounded by malicious Internet mutterings of, “It’s just one straight line”, its reputation was damaged before its release and the stigma of linearity still surrounds it today. Strike up a conversation with a critic of Final Fantasy XIII and the first thing that will be brought up- I guarantee you this- is the linearity. Try it at home, you can make good money.

But are things as different as people think? I went back to Final Fantasy VII– that most treasured of titles- to find out. Upon leaving Midgar, I was instructed to go directly to the nearby town of Kalm. No detours. I decided to defy this order and see how much of this new frontier I could explore. Not much. There was a giant land snake that killed me if I went too far in one direction, and a Chocobo Stable that I couldn’t use. In-between all of that was not a land of unexplored wonder, but a big green blob of grassland filled with unusually-organised groups of monsters that wanted to hurt me. The game refused to allow me to advance, despite teasing me with a brave new world. I was, in fact, on a straight line.

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Recent Gaming Habits

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

I picked up Valkyria Chronicles II for my PSP the other day and I’m quite enjoying it. Having never gotten the opportunity to play the original (I don’t own a Playstation 3), I was quite looking forward to it, even if I had heard mixed things towards it. I think my exposure to anime has dulled my senses to the point where it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that the fate of the world could hinge on a school class of teenage misfit soldiers. The game places you in “Class G”, the absolute bottom of the barrel. And boy, does it let you know about it. Not only do most of the students moan and whine about how they never accomplish anything, their teacher calls them losers straight to their faces. It gets irritating after a while, and outright perplexing at times: some of these characters are either outright geniuses or hard-working overachievers, so what are they doing in the loser class? Despite this annoyance, the gameplay is solid and the character advancement system is interesting.

I also picked up the double pack of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Bioshock at the same time. I had actually gone into the store to look for Elder Scrolls and found the bundle for £2 extra. Bonus! I currently have two characters in Oblivion: a wandering Bard and a ruthless Assassin. I usually don’t play evil characters but I forced myself for the latter because playing an Assassin was quite a thrilling prospect. Immediately I noticed why Fallout 3 had been called “Oblivion with guns” and Oblivion very much feels like a predecessor in both presentation and style. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors involved in creating the world: for example, you can talk to nearly every NPC but 80% of the dialogue is shared. But there are a lot of interesting ideas here, like the ability to join various guilds and work your way through their ranks and storylines. I’m enjoying myself more than I did when I played Fallout 3: I think the narrative freedom offered at the start (you’re in jail, make up your own backstory) helps a lot.

Bioshock still holds up really well. I was amazed. I had watched playthroughs of the game on Youtube and played the second game, but this was my first time playing the original. The opening- where you crash into the middle of the ocean and have to desperately swim towards the entrance tower of Rapture- is one of the most thrilling and effective ways to start a game I’ve experienced. While the flaws of the gameplay are thrust into a sharp light by the improvements made in Bioshock 2 (stupid Pipe Dream hacking minigame…) the immersion and atmosphere are top-notch.

I was pretty excited when the newest Mass Effect 2 DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker, came out, and I’m pleased to say that my faith was not displaced. This is a superb piece of content that is well worth your extra money. The writing is absolutely fantastic, displaying exactly the kind of razor-sharp wit that is quoted so often by the game’s fanbase. The gameplay is solid, and even includes the one action movie cliche (in the nicest possible way, since Mass Effect is a homage to sci-fi action films) that was missing from the original: a high-speed chase sequence. The reward at the end is worth more than any armour or stat-boosting equipment: a virtual treasure trove of character development for all the important players in the Mass Effect universe, ranging from the touching to the outright hilarious.

The Clothes That Make The Man

July 13, 2010 1 comment

I’ve found myself in a very strange position regarding Realtime Worlds’ latest MMO, APB: All Points Bulletin. The game has been receiving very average marks from reviewers: though the level of customisation available to you- from your avatar’s appearance to your car radio’s playlist- has been universally praised, heavy criticism has been placed on… well, pretty much every other part of the game system. As Rob Fahey put in his review on Eurogamer:

It’s a game about shooting and driving. Unfortunate, then, that so little attention has been paid to the crucial task of making the shooting and driving entertaining. Instead, this is a game whose combat bears all the finesse and refinement of the early 3D GTA titles, and whose driving, although greatly improved since earlier betas, remains a reasonable facsimile of attempting to sail a bathtub down a canal.

Now APB has vowed to fix these issues in upcoming patches, but at the moment the gameplay is less than desirable. Yet I’m still tempted to shell out the money to buy APB. Why would I want to do that? The game’s main strength: customisation. I absolutely adore avatar customisation.

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