joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
I finished Dragon Age II this weekend, so... my observations, let me show you them.

First, the gameplay. Cut for spam, no spoilers. )

About the storyline. May include some minor spoilers; I'll try to be vague about anything major. )

Companions and other characters. Again, may contain some spoilers. )

There was probably more I meant to say, but this is spammy enough for now and it's stupid o'clock, so I'll let that be it.
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
  • The graphics are improved from the first game. It's not the most gorgeous game I've ever seen, but the character designs are mostly more polished, and the environments are a lot more interesting. I'm not far in enough to have an idea of how much variety there will end up being, but Kirkwall makes the inadequacy of the Denerim maps from the first game really glaringly obvious - it's more like something out of FFXII.
  • Not sure about this new elf design, though. Ridiculous anime ears and odd noses aside, they are spindly as hell. Merrill looks like she's liable to snap like a twig at any moment.
  • The primary difference I'm noticing in gameplay between the first game and this one is that the PC no longer chases enemies automatically when they're targeted; abilities have ranges outside of which they're not available for use. This is kind of annoying (although it does prevent me from accidentally pulling a Leeroy Jenkins). There's also no easy way of switching targets.
  • The rogue's abilities are great fun. My favorite so far: Back To Back, which allows the rogue to ninja vanish and ZHOOP across the battlefield to any companion. It's proving highly useful.
  • Combat animations in general seem to be more exaggerated. I am okay with this; my dual-wield warrior from DAO never seemed this much like a walking Cuisinart.
  • Aveline is my buddy.
  • Other than that, though, I haven't gotten a lot of opportunities to chat with my companions, which I'm hoping is just because I'm still fairly early in the game. Bethany and Varric are both still kind of opaque to me.
  • On the other hand, the fact that Varric calls Bethany "Sunshine" is adorable.
  • I have run into a couple of callbacks to decisions from the first game, the most notable of which was a random encounter involving the ramifications of the Brecilian Forest sidequest.
  • I am okay with not being able to change companion characters' armor, on the basis that having to micromanage everyone's gear gets tedious and it allows for them to put more detail into their designs. I'm sure it pisses some people off, though.
  • Damn but there's a lot of vendor trash. I really hope I'm not going to need this stuff for sidequests or crafting in the future, because even with comparatively less gear to wrangle, my inventory fills up awfully quick.
  • I love having a fully-voiced player character. I do not love how tiny all the text is.
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
I said Redcliffe was next, didn't I? Well - I lied.

And then I did about 2000 words of post-Orzammar that is still not done. :C

And after Orzammar there's a bit from the Gauntlet that I have planned that I have not even started on.

But this bit is pre-Landsmeet Denerim, right after the party arrives but before they get down to business. That means spoilers for potentially everything through the cutscene that ensues upon arrival, but mostly for the human noble origin. It is way on along the timeline but I'm getting it down now while it's on my mind, since I'm still working on all of the abovementioned.

As usual, this is a draft and will probably see some editing. It's a bit squishy.

like justice I will find you through it all )
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
More of the same. Spoilers for the Brecilian Forest, assuming I'm spelling that right.

I think this is my favorite part so far, even though it is kind of all over the place.

'Nothing like a brush with death to make you... not like death very much.' )

Next up: Redcliffe.
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
Next bit. First draft. Because I found it somehow appropriate to salvage the Highever shield during the noble origin and then equip Alistair with it since I was playing a dual-wielder who didn't have the necessary strength requirement anyhow. As before, spoilers for the human noble origin and all of Ostagar.

wait a little while, give it time to heal )
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
Yeah, so, remember when I said there would be fanfic? Here's a little bit of it, part of what will hopefully be a larger sequence dealing with some of the particular issues that spring from the human noble origin, and how they dovetail with Alistair's personal damage. It's a draft and needs some work, and I demonstrate at the end why I should not be allowed to wield either foreshadowing or dramatic irony, and aside from that I'm not sure what to call it yet - I'm kind of tempted towards "The Art of Losing Everything," but I know that it only comes to mind as a title because there's already a fanfic titled "The Art of Losing" posted to [ profile] swooping_is_bad, so that's a no go.

Second draft, reposted now that I've fixed the timing some. It's still sort of fudging, since I think we're meant to suppose that Alistair doesn't hear anything about the PC's backstory until, as with the other companions, they mention it in dialogue - but all such references are glancing at best anyhow, so, pff.

Spoilers for the human noble origin and the main plotline through Ostagar, and bits of Alistair's backstory besides. And, yes, my PC's name makes it into this draft. I prefer to edge around specific details like that as much as I can, but DAO's PC unfortunately doesn't get the last-name-basis treatment that Commander Shepard gets in Mass Effect, so it's harder to work around.

to the soldier, the civilian, the martyr, the victim - this is war )
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
As my previous posts suggests, I finished a play through Dragon Age. And had an OMG WAIT THAT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN reaction to the consequences of one of my decisions.

I can't yet give an overall verdict on the game yet, though. Partly that's because there's still a lot of stuff I haven't tried out yet - four other origins and a bunch of sidequests and different choices and all - and partly because my D: D: D: reaction to the aforementioned spoiler is coloring my opinions and the part of me that reacts to how it works as a story (which is very well, really) is running up against how I intended it to play out in a kind of silly way.

Also, the fact that for some reason the choice that I made was not accounted for in subsequent dialogue - even though it was an unavoidable choice and I didn't have to go out of my way or do anything special to take the option that I did - struck me as a bit sloppy. In a game with so much depth and so many different choices, I could understand if bits were unaccounted for in some sidequest or optional extra bit someplace, but why on earth wouldn't you cover all the bases of the main, plot-critical decisions?

Of course, it's no skin off me to go back through and rearrange my choices a little, but the sudden, unexpected dissonance made me uncomfortable.

ALL OF THAT SAID, it's a great game, and I do not have enough things to say about how much I love how the party interactions. My biggest complaint right now has nothing to do with the ending at all, it's that, having gone all the way through the game with a human noble, when I try starting another origin it feels somehow wrong to play a different character type... my brain has latched onto the character I played first, which is also a problem I had a bit of with Mass Effect, but the wider variation of character backstories and the fact that the Dragon Age PC, unlike Commander Shepard, isn't fully-voiced makes things much worse this time.

I expect I will get over it. At the very least I want to play a male Dalish elf so that I can romance Zevran free from the temptation of Alistair's presence. /shallow.

I will probably write some fanfic. So much of the stuff that would ordinarily be between-the-scenes in a different game is actually played out in Dragon Age, so I don't know how much fic I will write, but the impulse is there all the same. Alistair will probably feature heavily, to no one's surprise.
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
So I've been sick for the past slightly-more-than-a-week, which has sucked. As a result, about all I have really had the energy to do has been playing Dragon Age Origins.

I truthfully wasn't interested in DAO at all throughout all of the buildup to its release. I was pretty well aware of it because I was keeping tabs on Mass Effect 2's development, but it just didn't ping me at all until I started hearing the comments from people who were actually playing it. Then I had to try it out - and if Mass Effect 2 is anything like this, I'll be very happy.

I'm especially hoping that the party interactions are handled in a similar way; I love the random in-the-field conversations and things like having the other party members comment (usually hilariously) on the romance subplot. It gave me an entirely disproportionate thrill the first time I switched control from my main character to her love interest mid-gameplay and heard him say "My love?" instead of his default response. I'm coming to the conclusion that even though we know the romantic subplot will be less prominent in ME2 than it was in the first game, if they just include such tiny but immersive details I'll be content.

There are definitely some elements that are familiar to me from the other two Bioware RPGs that I have played (KotOR and ME). Handily, they are elements that I enjoyed from those games. It's also very aware of all the usual sword-and-sorcery tropes - playing the human noble origin is a little like playing the first chapter of Mercedes Lackey's By the Sword as a video game - but it gets markedly less predictable and more complicated once the main storyline gets underway. I think I was put off, or at least left somewhat cold by, the aggressively Dark And Edgy marketing, but as [ profile] sinvraal commented on [ profile] masseffect, it's not purposelessly dark, and the player has plenty of opportunity to make their character a light in the darkness, something that appeals to me.

I'm also really liking the various moral choices - thus far I've been able to work things out pretty much the way I've wanted, but there have been a few points at which I really worried about it. More than that, there's a feeling of interconnectedness to the different quests, thanks both to the Gondor-calls-for-aid plotline and just the way little details carry over, making them not just checkpoints to be marked off on the way to the endgame. There's a nice, organic flow to it.

No complaints on the characters. The approval system was a little frustrating at first mostly because I just couldn't seem to do anything that Morrigan or Sten approved of, but I've been able to manage a bit better as I go along, and Morrigan - though she'll probably never be among my particular favorites - has mostly stopped annoying me as we've come to understand each other a little better. I mostly really like other party members (aside from Leilana who I somehow missed and Oghren who I'm looking forward to but haven't managed to pick up yet) - Alistair is snarky and adorable, Wynne is badass, Zevran is entertaining, and Sten is intriguing. And the dog! Plus various neat supporting characters, as well. As a bonus, the game passes the Bechdel test - with flying colors, if you're playing a female PC, but even if you're playing male I suspect it still passes thanks to the interaction between supporting characters.

I'm a good ways into the game at this point - I'm beginning to see the endgame looming, and I'm in the odd position of kind of wanting to start over from the beginning, not just to try out a different origin but to make the game last longer.

...being worried for Alistair might also have something to do with it. Possibly.


Nov. 12th, 2009 05:19 pm
joiedecombat: (:C)
Someday I will learn not to go looking up information online when I'm in the midst of playing a BioWare RPG. I end up spoiling myself for the big wrenching stuff even when I'm trying not to. You'd think I'd have learned from Mass Effect.


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August 2012

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