Dragon-Age--Preliminary Thoughts


Someone asked, last week, about my favorites computer role-playing games, ones which I thought did a solid job of narrative.  Like all old people, I think everything great that ever happened in the world, happened when I was young. Thus I have a romantic attachment to the era of Might and Might II, the Bard's Tale series, and Ultima.  The Gold Box games are the pinnacle for me--I think Pool of Radiance might be the most incredible gaming experience I've ever had. It wasn't just the game, it was seeing actual D&D played out on screen. Before that, Ultima/Bard's Tale/M&M all felt like knock-offs of what we all knew we wanted--an elven Fighter-Magic User, a halfling thief, and dwarf fighter. Of course we're all knock-offs of Lord Of The Rings, so there.  A few other mentions of role-playing games from the 80s--Below The Root, Mobius and Legacy of the Ancients. Legacy was particularly well done.

The mid-late 90s crop are almost certainly better games--Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale are just stellar. I really wish they had made BG a trilogy. Might and Magic 6 and 7 are both  really underrated games--the sheer sprawl of the world, the number of options, are all overwhelming in a good way.  But the sad thing is that after I went to MMOs, I stopped playing single-player games, so there's a gap in my RPG experience. I'm actually deeply tempted to go back and play The Longest Journey, which is supposed to be just incredible.

All of this is a long way of saying I just started Dragon Age: Origins, and frankly, it's a miracle I'm here blogging right now and not hacking my way through Darkspawn. Oh who am I kidding, by the time you read this I will almost certainly be hacking my way through Darkspawn.  Seriously though, I haven't really had much time for WoW lately--work has been rather insane, so I've had to go back to the single-player joints. I find it easier to jump in, get my fix for 30 minutes, and then get back to work.

As a fan of Bioware, I've been waiting on Dragon's Age for a long-time now, and it really doesn't disappoint. It reminds me a lot of Oblivion, but better. I think Oblivion offers more options, in terms of customizing, but the game was just too big for me. It felt really lonely, and combat felt non-intuitive. The thing about Dragon's Age is you can actually see people doing cool shit--like ripostes etc.

My one beef with the game is the gore--it's way too much. Bioware was attempting to make a "mature" game. But mature can mean much more than guts and fucking, and you can tell the developers know this because DAO is actually mature in some of its themes. But the gore actually makes the game look less mature. It makes it feel like it was built for twelve year olds who want to feel like their doing something forbidden. In other words, the gore in DAO is mature in the way that Hustler is mature. I'm not arguing for no gore, and no blood. I love the realism. But in DAO it feels like the gore goes beyond what would actually happen. It feels cartoonish.

Back on story, It felt right to play the descendants of slaves (What can I say? Even when I'm role-playing, I'm hood.), so I picked an elf. I don't want to say too much about the game, but the sequence where you have to storm the castle and save your betrothed is really intense. I'll have more to say as I get further in. But for right now, color me impressed.