Dragon Age 2 Review and the New Steam Project!
Over the past month or so, I’ve been putting time into Dragon Age 2 (25 hours total) and now that I’ve finished it, I’ve decided to write a review of the game and my experience with it. I picked up Dragon Age 2 about a year ago in a 2 for 1 deal bundled with Mass Effect 2, which was the main reason for the purchase as I heard a lot about the changes that were made to Dragon Age 2 for the worse, when compared to Dragon Age: Origins. I decided it was time to play it since Dragon Age: Inquisition is on the horizon, so let’s dig into the story, gameplay, and graphics a bit.
Dragon Age: Origins had a very rich story that exposed a lot of interesting lore revolving around the world of Thedas, where the series takes place, and included a great cast characters that kept pulling you further into the game. I hoped that this amazing storytelling would carry over into Dragon Age 2 and distract from the gameplay “fixes” that they made to cater to the console crowd. Unforutnately, I was wrong and overall did not find the story very engaging or nearly as lore driven as Origins.
The story takes place somewhere during and after the events of Dragon Age: Origins, as told in the form of a story by a future party member, beginning with the protagonist, Hawke’s, family fleeing Fereldon during the blight and winding up in the city of Kirkwall. Kirkwall is overrun with refugees from Ferelden and the family shack’s up with their uncle who has gambled away all of their family money. The story moves forward, seemingly building towards a climax as the player embarks on a journey to the Deep Roads in search of treasure. There seems to be a looming sense of tension throughout the mission, which keeps you on edge throughout, and then nothing really happens, everything resolves itself and you go back to Kirkwall a rich man.
The game dances through this building tension and easily resolving itself cycle a couple of more times, using the same six dungeons over and over until you just push forward through the main quests to complete the game and hope that you have all of the backstory you will need when Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out. Overall, the lack of diversity in locations (the game takes place in one city, with several small locations within the city, and a few areas outside of the city where some missions take place), lack of interesting characters (the dialog and character bonding did not seem nearly as in-depth as Origins), less strategic combat, and the unimmersive story just led to an lackluster gaming experience.
Gameplay was similar to Dragon Age: Origins in many aspects, but also felt different with some of the streamlining they did based on feedback from the console crowd. They got rid of the zoomed out, overhead view of Bioware classics like Baldur’s Gate, which seemed to take away a bit of the fun and strategy involved in combat. A majority of battles could be won by just hacking and slashing your way through the waves of enemies that were sent at you, as opposed to the pausing, strategizing, and positioning party members that was present in Origins. The button mashing feel and waves of enemies really soured a lot of the experience for me and brought about a boredom with the game that made it very hard to finish.
Other parts of gameplay were more or less the same as Origins. Talk to people, get quests, complete quests, talk to people and get reward. The main issue I had with this was that, as mentioned earlier, the whole game takes place in one city which makes the whole game feel cramped and lackluster when compared to other adveture-y RPGs.
Graphically, the team made some nice improvements. Each of the races are more distinctive in their appearance, with Elves being a bit smaller with cat-like features in their faces and the Qunari actually looking like a big brutish race of a fantasy world, as opposed to the bigger humans with cornrows look they had in Origins. Environments are overall pretty bland design-wise and, as mentioned earlier, they reuse a lot of places for side-quests. However, there is a nice graphics overhaul mod that I only found out about with a few hours left of the game that might have made the whole environment more enjoyable during my playthrough.
Overall, I would give the game a 2/10 at best. The massive amount of environemnt reuse, button masher battles, and boring story and characters made it very hard to finish. However, I did finish it, so there is that going for it.
Now that all of that is out of the way, I can start talking about my new project, which is…
The Steam Backlog Project
If you have a computer and know what a video game is at this point in time, you most undoubtedly know what Steam is. With Steam comes the inevitable backlog of games from Steam sales, humble bundles, and digital game sales from any number of online vendors. Well, it turns out that if you combine expendable income and the aforementioned sales, you end up with something like 250+ games across steam and various other digital distribution platforms and gaming devices. With the recent Autumn Steam sale that occurred, I realized how many games I buy with only the intention of maybe playing some day, and when I started to really think about how much money I put into this collection over time, it made me a bit sad. So, I’ve decided to do something about my large, mostly unplayed backlog of games.
I have come up with a plan to churn through my list of games, which involves giving each game at least a little bit of the time it deserves. The plan is to attempt to work through my list of games one at a time, giving each enough time to potentially grab my attention and pull me in to finish it. If the game fails to intrigue me within 5-10 of playtime, I will check that game off the list and move on to the next one. Additionally, in an effort to make myself write more, I’ve decided to do at least a minimal review of each game as I go and discuss why the game did or did not pull my forward to completion.
To assist myself in deciding what game to play next, I started working on a web application, tentatively called “What Should I Play?” that pulls a list of games from my steam community account and randomly selects one from the list to play next. I can then mark a game as played or decide to skip it for now. This tool was built using Sinatra (an awesome and easy ruby web framework), AngularJS, and hosted on Heroku. For those who wish to check this tool out and perhaps use it for delving into their own Steam library, you can find the app HERE!
NOTE: This is still a work in progress and it will eventually store data in a database so it can be accessed from any device and could be provided as an API. Currently, data is cached locally in the browser’s local storage. In order to retrieve your games, your steam community profile must be marked as public. Instructions to update your profile privacy settings can be found here.
In closing, it looks like the game I will be playing next, based on the selection from my handy app is:
E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy
Should be fun!