Ye Olde Goodie: Dragon Age Origins

Okay, so maybe it isn’t that old in the grand scheme of things, but in game terms 4 years ago is a loooooooonnnnngggg time. After the Dragon Age 3 trailer at E3, I went back to the original to try again and see how it has held up. But I have a confession to make. I have never completed a Dragon Age game, despite how much I like them. I always play for a while, play another game and then when I come back, I start a new file and play on that.

I have made 5 characters across 2 systems in Dragon Age one, and 3 characters in Dragon Age 2, all of which have reached Act 3 (the final bit for non-Dragon Age players). Still never finished either. Never feel like it. I’ll get to it eventually, probably just before I get DA3, so I can import a finished file.

I also hold the seemingly controversial view that DA2 was pretty good. I liked the combat system and while not being able to pick a race felt a little stifling, having a fully voiced character, as opposed to DA1’s mute more than made up for it. Having your character never talk breaks the 4th wall like almost nothing else for me. And I actually kind of liked Hawke, DA2’s protagonist.

But I’ll leave DA2 to another day and talk about number 1, because as I’ve found recently, DA1 is awesome. Here are a list of some of the things that make DA1 awesome.

1. The story. It feels like a proper epic world is in your hands do something about it but it isn’t going to be easy story. I have experience only a portion of it, as I’ve never completely finished it, but just the bit’s I’ve seen are damn good. One of the best plots around.

2. The characters. Having a group of people, who respond to your actions in different ways and who can be talked to, to befriend or romance really helps the you to connect with the world.

3. Morrigan. I know she is a character, but Morrigan is cool enough to get her own bullet point. Biting wit, magic and shapeshifting are all part of a brilliant character. I would bet a not insignificant number of fans got a little happy in their pants when she appeared in the DA3 trailer.

4. This one is for PC only, but mods are well worth mentioning. There are plently of mods out there that can be installed without too much hassle.

5. The music. I won’t say any more, go listen to it. It’s up there with Lord of the Rings (okay, I said some more, so sue me)

Anyone who hasn’t picked it up yet should grab a copy, I’m sure it’s pretty cheap. I think I got the Ultimate Edition (with all the extra content) for less than ¬£10 and that was a while ago. And anyone who has played it should go back and do it again, because they won’t be disappointed. Well they shouldn’t be, and if they are they should mod it until they aren’t.

And maybe not just DA1. I’m going to do back and play some games I haven’t touched for a while, see how they are. You should to. Might save you some money, on top of everything else.

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Mass Effect: Crying Like a Small Child

Before I get into writing, I had better say that there are major SPOILERS for Mass Effect 3 in this post. Right, everyone played it? Well, everyone who cares about it played it? Good, let’s do this.

 

I wanted to talk about something I experienced in Mass Effect 3 that I hadn’t found before. I genuinely cared about the characters. Even the ones that weren’t human. In fact, the two most emtional scenes weren’t related to humans at all. I’m talking about the Legion Scene shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRa6WH90xVc and the Mordin Scene here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-_X9Tsg0Fc

I was wondering what anyone else who played through the games found were the saddest moments. But these two, when characters you have been with for hours and hours (especially if you played ME2) don’t make it, when they sacrifce themselves for something bigger than themselves made me actually feel sad in a way that few other films and games did.

Titanic… Nothing

Atonement… Nothing

In fact, the only other fictional story that made me as sad as Mass Effect 3 was Marley and Me.

Let’s not go into why I get more attached to dogs, weird lizard aliens and sentient robots than people….

 

Did I cry like a small child? No. But I wanted to. You don’t need actors to tell a story. Hell, I think in some ways, games tell it better.

Mass Effect: The Brilliant Multiplayer Time Sink of Doooom!

In my other post, I talked about one of my favourite hobbies, Magic: The Gathering. Now, we come to another of my favourites, video games. I figured the best way to start things off would be to talk about one of the best games I’ve played in a long time.

I’m going to talk about Mass Effect, of the 3 variety in particular. I’m not going to talk about the single player (maybe later), excellent though it is. I’m going to talk about the multiplayer. I’ve heard a lot about the single player online and from friends, but rarely do I hear people mention the multiplayer.

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For those of you who don’t own Mass Effect 3, or who do, but have never gone online, or even for those who tried it once or twice, then discounted it, I’m going to tell you why you should play it. I mean right now, (finish reading this first), go play it.

ME3 multiplayer is a horde mode kinda deal, where 4 players start in a map and 10 waves of guys from one of four factions, who they have apparently caused grave offence to, attempt to cause them as much harm as possible. It is a simple formula and Mass Effect is not the first game to use it. It is, in my experience, the best use of this formula. It isn’t without flaws, but no game is perfect and ME3 is about the closest we have right now in the waves of angry guys genre.

The magic (non-gathering related) comes from the huge variety of ways to shoot, explode, punch and throw across the map presented to you. At the start, you are given a choice of 6 classes, all of which are human. You can then go on to unlock 53 more combination of race and class. Then come the weapons, with approximately 7 bazillion different (okay, maybe that’s a lie, this isn’t borderlands) combinations of weapon and the two attachments each weapon¬† can have.

Then there is the equipment….

So you ask me, how to you get all this stuff. I shall tell you. This is where the game becomes a time sink, as each match completed awards credits (amount depends on difficulty, 4 difficulties available) and credits (or actual money, for people with more money than sense/free time, delete where applicable) are used to buy packs (7 different kinds available) and these packs have some stuff in.

This is where we get to one of the flaws and a bit of a barrier to entry to new players, as the contents of each pack are random. Added to this, each weapon has 10 levels, each equipment has 5 levels, each attachment has 5 levels and each character has 5 or 6 unlockable levels of customisation. I’m not sure how long it would take to unlock everything, but it could be well over 1000 hours of in game time. Starting to see the problem?

This does not reduce the fun of actually playing, and unlocking new, random items is a fun experience. But there is the knowledge that I’m probably never going to unlock everything puts me off a bit.

Despite this, I would encourage everyone to give Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer a try, or a seconf try if you already gave it one. The game has been out a while, so the price has dropped, the DLC is free and the single player is excellent.

The last thing I’d like to mention is that this was the series first foray into multiplayer and is viewed by some as a beta for the next game. In that case, its the best damn beta I’ve ever played and I’m very much looking forward to the next one.

And the doom? That was just me being dramatic…