Dragon Age 2: Electric Boogaloo

March 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Posted in rpg | 6 Comments
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I never start out liking Bioware games. I think they’re more complicated than that. In the beginning they feel like I’m adventuring with a bunch of strangers, or worse. Within the first few hours of playing any of their games I don’t feel compelled to come back if I log out.

I think the first Bioware game I played was Knights Of The Old Republic. What compelled me to come back then was the fact that there were OMGZ JEDI, and I wanted to be one. Am I a jedi? No, but I want to be one.

It wasn’t long after the initial play periods of KOTOR (and if you haven’t played KOTOR you are a loser who should go play KOTOR and kick in the face of anyone who tries to tell you about the story) that I noticed I was feeling compelled to go back to the game. Not because of Jedi, but because the story was great, and most of all I think, I had gotten to know my companions.

Mission, Carth, Bastila, Canderous, HK-47. They all had interesting personalities, stories, and were extremely well voice acted. My god Mission was cute.

I guess that’s what I’m trying to say about Dragon Age 2.

It departs heavily from Dragon Age: Origins which I liked a lot. Bioware must be thinking that making Dragon Age into a more Mass Effect style game is their cash money ticket, so they’ve focused on one specific character, Hawke. Whether or not that is the right move is a whole other post. In any case this is starting things out on a really bad footing for me. I would have preferred to start off with my character from Origins.

I didn’t particularly like the opening either. Just dumped in a fight with darkspawn with little to no explanation. The cutscenes aren’t even of you, just two other people talking about you. I think it distanced me from my own character.

Reliably though, I began to enjoy the company of my group. I like Merrill, because she is absolutely hilarious. No matter who she is interacting with, she is entertaining. Whether it be naive questions or even boldly poking fun at someone else.

Varric is fun to talk to, Isabella is super hot. I haven’t gotten to know the other companions all that well yet. I feel like I know who they are but they don’t entertain me yet.

They don’t entertain me, but the other 3 do, and so I am beginning to enjoy Dragon Age 2. There are a few things I don’t like, a couple of quibbles here and there. I can’t say everything is perfect, but hey, I’m just going to enjoy the ride. Take in the story. That is what Bioware games are about.

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AV Club’s Top Ten of 2010

December 28, 2010 at 11:59 am | Posted in rpg | Comments Off on AV Club’s Top Ten of 2010
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I’m not going to go through each game The AV Club has picked as the top games of 2010, but I would like to comment that I think their criticisms and reviews are often some of the most honest you’ll find.

Unlike most gaming websites they aren’t often sponsored by gaming companies and have little to worry about when it comes to bias. If you read game reviews and don’t read their game reviews you’re doing yourself a disservice.

I remember when I first started reading AV Club reviews, back when I was more interested in movies. They were well known as being some of the harshest critics on the internet, and although over time I think that has softened due to the rise in the number of their critics and dilution of their harshest writers, I still think they’re quite good.

So which is game is #1? The game that has quickly become one of my all time favourites, Mass Effect 2.

My one quibble is that Minecraft isn’t there. I’d put it on that list above a couple of those games any day.

To me, graphics matter as much as grammar. It's the content, not the form.

Bitter Springs Eternal

December 27, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Posted in rpg | 4 Comments
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What happens in New Vegas. Sorry, the second part of that phrase got nuked.

I really love that with Bethesda’s RPGs, they force you into a lot of choices. You have to choose sides, whether you like it or not, and that ends up having real consequences.

One thing I really hate about Bethesda style RPGs is they force you into a lot of choices. You have to choose sides, whether you like it or not, and that ends up having real consequences.

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship.

As far ranging as the choices are, the variety of paths, and the freedom of play style, I find it strange that you get hemmed into things as you move along. Once you’ve chosen some people to side with it gets really hard to stay on friendly terms with just about everyone else.

My problem with that is I don’t want to play through the game 2 or 3 times just to see the other paths. I don’t want to get cut off from quest after quest, content upon content, the further I progress in the game.

What starts out as a really free and open game slowly begins to narrow.

I’m a content hound, I want to do it all. I also don’t want to have to do anything twice. Starting from scratch is not fun when I’ve seen how powerful I can become.

I’ve sided with the NCR in New Vegas, but I was avoiding alienating The Legion. I accidentally ended up killing a dozen of them, or two dozen, maybe 3, and I became vilified. Immediately afterward I was greeted with about 6 “Quest Failed” messages.

I could live with that, I really could. Losing out on a few faction quests because I chose the other side is fine. However in Bathesda style RPGs that’s not the only way you get locked out of content.

Not exactly Ocean's Eleven

With New Vegas for instance, I take pity on anyone who actually wants to activate their companions side quests without looking at the wiki and thoroughly planning out which content to do with which companion. I may as well design a flow chart, it’s ridiculous.

With Boone you have to experience specific content with him, and afterward remember to speak with him to gain “history points”. Get enough of these points and his side quest activates. The problem is, unless you’re spoiling yourself with a wiki, you don’t know which content, or when to talk to him.

I’ve done most of Boone’s related content. With Veronica. I won’t get to see his side quest.

Dumb.

That said I did get to see Veronica’s, Cass’, Rex’s, and ED-E’s quests and get their upgraded perks. A good thing too, because they’re the only companions I’ll get to do that with.

If you decided to go to Novac before going to Black Mountain, and picked up Ranger Andy’s melee move (the Ranger Takedown) Raoul’s quest won’t activate. This is a bug that is supposedly fixed. I can tell you it is not fixed.

Lily is stuck. I picked up the initial quest you get with her, did it within a few minutes, the doctor is supposed to run a test on her, and then she can be your companion again. Only she’s stuck. Another bug, apparently.

I’m in perfectly good standing with Arcade, and he’s hanging out at the Lucky 38. Thing is, he won’t accept my offer to travel with me again. Why? Because the dialogue option has disappeared.

Even if I did manage to party with him, he’s got a similar deal to Boone. I have to rack up points with him in specific places just to access his quest. It really bugs me that there are only about 3 or 5 places for these triggers to go off. Out of hundreds of locations in the Mojave.

I think this is the main thing I don’t like about New Vegas and similar games. Why should I be locked out of content, not because I made a conscious choice (like with choosing a faction) but because of random happenstance. I had another companion with me, I did that content before I even met the companion, I discovered this without them, an NPC died, a bug, whatever the problem, it’s stupid.

I’ll never figure out what happens to these companions, see their background, figure out their stories unless I wiki them and read up. Hell, I don’t know how anyone could expect to fully explore their companions unless they played the entire game 4 or 5 times.

New Vegas is too big for that. I can’t be expected to play this game for months and months.

I’m going to miss out on what is probably some pretty good content. I won’t find out what happened at Bitter Springs, at least not from Boone. I won’t find out what happened to Raoul when he crossed over to Arizona. There’s no telling where Arcade’s storyline was going. Lily will remain a mystery, a crazy, crazy, crazy, mystery.

All I’m saying is, that’s a damn shame.

If I thought pixels were sexy, and they aren't, Cass would be sexy. Her voice is great though.

We’re Going To Need Bigger Guns

December 13, 2010 at 8:53 am | Posted in rpg | 4 Comments
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Oooh look at those eyes. So dreamy. Now try to say I don't objectify both sexes equally!

I am way more excited for Mass Effect 3 than Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Kind of odd really. I have spent far more time in Oblivion, Fallout 3, Morrowind, and New Vegas, than in Neverwinter Knights 1 & 2, Knights of the Old Republic 1 & 2, Mass Effect 1 & 2, and Dragon Age.

If I’m being honest, Mass Effect 2 was actually extremely short. I spent less time in that game than I have in any other major RPG I’ve played. And yet it’s one of my all time favourites. Why is that?

The only reason I can think of is that Mass Effect 2 is a superior game. I mean they nailed it. I have no complaints to speak of other than when I was done, I wanted more.

Bathesda style games have loads of content, reams of material to play through, an extensive game experience. I like my supporting cast, I enjoy playing through it. There isn’t anything wrong with those games.

You get to decide who your character is because beyond attributes, they leave the rest to you. There isn’t a story attached to your background, you’re an amnesiac, a nameless chosen one, “The Courier”. You decide if you’re a vilified or idolized.

Actually I think that may be the crux of it. Shepard, he’s full of history. I can’t care about the nameless unknown that will be my character in Skyrim this far in advance, but I’m already worried that Shepard will bite the dust in Mass Effect 3.

With Mass Effect the narrative is much stronger. You are Shepard, and whether you’re a paragon or a renegade, you are badass.

Skyrim

December 12, 2010 at 5:05 am | Posted in rpg | 6 Comments
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People have been waiting for this for a long time. It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since I closed shut the jaws of Oblivion. People have suspected that Skyrim would be next as well. There were slivers of territory in the far north that you could ride into that were clearly Skyrim.

It’s funny, watching the Spike video game awards is such a waste of time. There is absolutely no credibility attached to the winners and losers, and I usually detest the hosts. I will commend them on their announcements though, they usually have something good.

I don’t really know a lot about Skyrim. It’s cold, the people call themselves Nords, and seems to be based on a noble viking themed society. The music certainly points in that direction.

11-11-11. Who knew it would be that soon?

Meeting People

November 22, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Posted in rpg | 4 Comments
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Gabba Gabba Hey

As I’ve played through Fallout: New Vegas I keep seeing people reporting their success at finishing the game. It makes me think about how people play, and just how much content people must be missing so they can finish the storyline.

I’ve got a quest right now to do just that, track down Benny after he fled The Tops at a bunker underneath The Legion’s headquarters. Or something like that. Instead I’m at the exact opposite end of the map about to investigate a cure for the Nightkin’s schizophrenia, after I fixed up my dog companion’s robobrain.

I’m not very close to finishing the game.

Instead I’m getting to know my companions. I got enough favor with The Kings in Freeside that The King asked me to find a cure for his ailing robo-buddy. I’m not a big fan of dogs, and this remains true in game as well. He gets in the way, doesn’t follow. Barks randomly. Argh. At one point I told him to head to The Lucky 38 to wait for me, because hell, he’s annoying, and he disappeared. I was concerned that I’d never see him again, and therefore never complete the quest. I had no idea where to look, and then one day, I’m in Freeside, and he’s chasing some thug down the street. Random.

I much prefer ED-E. It’s like having your own personal theme song or soundtrack. Danger nears, the music turns up, laser blasts start to sound off. It’s pretty great. ED-E’s got her own little backstory quest but I haven’t gotten very far into it. I’m not sure how to make it progress, and although I don’t want to cheat, I may end up looking through the Fallout wiki.

The first companion I ran into was Boone. He was protecting a town I was passing through and asked me to figure out who sold his wife into slavery. At first I had no idea. I asked around town, and although the game tries to point you at one person in particular, there is no obvious villain. Add to that that you’re discouraged from stealing and breaking into things to avoid losing Karma, and I was missing all the obvious clues. Eventually I stumbled across the answer and led the culprit to their doom. Boone has been a confusing muddle of one liners ever since. “Aim that for” me? I just put a bullet in its head from 250 yards. Shut up.

I probably met Cass first, but recruited her later. She’s my favourite. Putting aside crushes on inanimate objects, I like her banter, her storyline, her background, the way she looks, and her attitude. “Shhhhh… we’re hunting shitheads”.

I met Veronika not long after Boone but didn’t recruit her until after Cass. I saw that she was melee, and not being a huge fan of melee companions put her off. At first I thought she was a Vault dweller, being sent out to interact with the world, but it turns out she’s Brotherhood. When I discovered Hidden Valley, it seemed like a good idea to bring her on board. I’m glad I did too, she’s mean with her fists, kind of sarcastic, and it’s sweet that she’s looking for a dress. I can get on board with Firefly references any day of the week.

Not exactly Ocean's Eleven

I’ve yet to recruit any other companions although I’ve met up with Arcade Gannon (is that a Zelda reference?) and intend to recruit him next. Judging by the image above, I’ve also met another, but didn’t realize they were a companion.

How many of the people who are “done” with New Vegas have recruited all of these companions? According to Steam, 5.1%. Hell, only about 62% have recruited a companion. And after they spent loads of money on a great voice cast.

I’ve spent about 80 hours in game, I admit, mostly just screwing around, killing random stuff and finishing up a quest a session. Not the fastest rate of play ever. How much of this game will people never see?

Get out there and meet people, people.

Future Weapons Today

November 4, 2010 at 12:00 am | Posted in rpg | 2 Comments
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I Prefer Milsurp Review

I’m a bit of a weapons collector. I collect all the common weapons except maybe 12 gauge shotguns. I was keeping one or two around, but when I got the lever action, I realized that altogether I was keeping 4 shotguns.

I ditched the Caravan, Single, and Sawed-Off, and have yet to even try the lever action. I think mainly I stay away from using shotguns anyway, since they always seem to take longer to kill something. Probably all the reloading.

I’ve got a Hunting Revolver, .357, 9mm, 10mm, That Gun, Silenced .22, and a .44 Magnum for hand guns. Not including energy weapons or SubMachine Guns of course. Why do I keep them all around? Hell if I know.

I like the Hunting Revolver, it’s got a scope. I find the scope is more accurate than VATS in most situations. The .357 is powerful but reloading is a pain. The That Gun and .22 have pretty rapid fire but do low damage. I mostly keep the .22 around in case I need to do some serious sneaking. The 9mm and 10mm are a nice bridge between power and reloading so I use them a lot more often, but I don’t have much ammo for the .44 yet.

As for rifles and SMGs, I’ve got the 10mm and 9mm of course, a Varmit Rifle with scope, Hunting Rifle with scope, and a Service rifle. None of the advanced carbines yet, nor any unique or sniper rifles. I’m sure some people are thinking “why is he carrying around the Varmit, he may as well have a BB gun with him” but to that I say the scope makes it halfway decent.

Why don’t I ditch handguns in favour of automatic or energy weapons? I’m crazy.

Speaking of energy weapons, I now have a Laser Pistol, Plasma Pistol, Laser Rifle, Plasma Rifle, and a Laser RCW. My energy weapons skill isn’t very high yet, guns are taking a priority, but eventually their high tech allure will draw me in.

It’s always a pleasure to see somebody vaporize into ash. Uhm. I guess that doesn’t actually work as a sentence.

As far as Heavy weapons and explosives go, I haven’t got much. Just the Incinerator and a Grenade Rifle for heavy weapons. The Incinerator seems to be the only thing that works to get Giant Radscorpions off my ass, and don’t get me started on how to deal with Deathclaws. Frag grenades and mines, Pulse grenades and mines, a few sticks of dynamite just in case, and that’s all I’ve got.

I don’t carry melee weapons around, nor any kind of rare weapons like Detonators or Plastic. Pretty standard run and gun really. I keep all these guns in my inventory and switch between them often. Why is that when I could simplify my life by specializing in a few good weapons?

I could ditch virtually every handgun, the Varmit and Hunting Rifle, the energy pistols, dynamite, the shotgun, and still have all the weaponry I could conceive of needing in the wastes. Not to mention the weight it would free up.

For some reason it just doesn’t seem like it would be any fun.

I guess that’s why I’m the baddest hombre in the Mojave Wasteland.

Variety is the spice of life

Powder Goes Boom

October 28, 2010 at 4:31 am | Posted in rpg | 4 Comments
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Good luck trying to take a screen shot in New Vegas

I have this weird compunction when I’m tooling around the wastelands. I can see some location off in the distance or I see a location on my pip boy compass that I haven’t been to and I just have to go there. Otherwise I feel bad.

Spoilers as usual folks. But nothing too bad.

As such it takes me for effing ever to get to where I’m going. On an up note it does allow me to know where I’m going and get there quickly whenever I get a new job. I tend to clear out these places too, so they’re usually empty of any predators. I can just stroll up and get to work, and not have to worry about backing into a pair of giant radscorpions.

Which I tend to do.

That’s been pretty painful lately. I wasted like 300 9mm rounds taking out like 6 radscorpions yesterday, I just kept running into them. They took forever to kill. I couldn’t find a high spot they couldn’t access, so I just ended up running backwards aiming for their head but damn if they don’t move fast and hit hard. I don’t know what their armour is like but I barely put a dent in those suckers.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I started running into my first Mohave Ghoul Roamers. I saw this half a shack lean-to in a small cliff face and wandered up. Bad move to begin with, I hit a mine, which set off the motorcycle there and barely avoided a big explosion. Not to mention there wasn’t much loot to speak of. Course the explosion must have grabbed the attention of these 2 roamers I was talking about and they come at me throwing punches. It was a big mess.

Curse you land mines!

All of yesterday was a big mess.

I happened upon a dry lake on my way up to an NCR outpost. Just taking a look around the south west region in general. Anyway turns out there’s like 15 giant ants there. Sure in retrospect it’s a bloody obvious place for giant ants, but at the time I was just looking around.

After I dealt with those with my varmit rifle, I finally get up to the outpost and the guy wants me to go guess where? Kill a bunch of ants down by the dry lake bed. I go down there and there’s at least another dozen right in the middle of the road.

At least I got a Service Rifle out of it.

Real cowboys get giant statues made of them with spotlights pointing at them

And that’s not all folks!

After dealing with those jerks in Primm I was asked to find them a new sheriff. First of all, why not ask me? I’m awesome you jerks! I just saved your butts! If not me why not the deputy? What a coward. They tell me to go up to the NCR correctional facility to find a guy who used to be a sheriff. Thing is, that whole place had a riot, killed all the guards and is the reason the powder gangers are all over the place killing people and taking over that little town, oh what’s it called….PRIMM.

Whatever, I’ll do it.

I go over there, talk to the guy, easy peasy he’s in Primm but I’ve got to get him a pardon before he officially takes the job. Sigh. No idea how to do that yet, but, while I’m at the prison, I get to talking to the head honcho and looting everything I can get my hands on. They definitely suspect it’s me but while I’m doing their little chores they tolerate it. Until I ended up killing these two jerk powder gangers who started shooting at me for no reason. So then they were definitely shunning me, so screw it. They had told me to find out if the NCR was planning an attack, they were, so I offered to help out.

I figured a big attack on the prison would help me out a lot more than being on good terms with these jerks, as I’d get to loot every single one of them, plus some NCR soldiers after the fight.

A long day. I ended up back in Primm, no pardon in hands, and no way to tie up the loose end yet.

The county jail is now the county morgue. Special thanks to mogsy.

The Mojave Doesn’t Leave Witnesses

October 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Posted in rpg | 2 Comments
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Bienvenue New Vegas

I like to explore, a bit. New Vegas is no exception. After I finished clearing out GoodSprings water source,I wandered around a bit looking for something to scavenge. If we’re being honest with each other, looking around in the wastes is looking around for trouble.

And I found it.

Out of nowhere this one guy wanders up to a fire pit close by. I guess travelers stop by there for the water and to rest, or by the signs of discarded bottles, perhaps teenagers looking to party away from their parents prying eyes.

Not that that Goodsprings is well populated.

Anyway I wander over to this guy because he looks a bit frightened and he starts jabbering on about his girlfriend being trapped up on the ridge by geckos. There’s something in his voice though, and his words that tell me different. After I agree to go rescue his girl, in the most business like of tones he says “They’re up there.” Now, the shift in tone is one thing, but he didn’t say “She’s up there” or “Please help her” like someone concerned for their loved one would. No this guy, with no emotion is only thinking of the geckos. Or maybe his buddies, waiting to ambush me.

I don’t carry around this much firepower for nothing, so I didn’t hesitate, on the off chance that someone really was in trouble. Call me an angel.

Sure enough there were geckos all over the place and a few too many for me to take on all at once, so I tried sniping at them, but I’m just not good enough with a rifle, yet. They seemed to be really confused fortunately, just running back and forth not sure what to do. So I managed to take them on one at a time. When I got to the top, there were plenty of signs of human habitation, some long dead corpses, a bunch of loot and absolutely no girlfriend. Surprise.

I took the loot, looked around, and saw the little bastard coming. I got out my gun because at that point it was pretty obvious what was what, and sure enough the idiot actually slows down enough to explain that he’s going to kill me. Big mistake.

I shot him 3 times, once in the arm, once in he chest, and once in the neck which blew his head clean off. I took his stuff off him and went back to town with my first real loot from the Mojave Wastelands.

Dragon Age: Rise To Power

October 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Posted in rpg | 2 Comments
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I like me some Dragon Age and I like me some Trailers and I like me some Dragon Age Trailers.

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