Monthly Archives: December 2012

Game: Dragon Age 2

Dragon Age 2Finished Dragon Age 2 … and it is a disappointment. Well, it is a good game. But compared to Dragon Age: Origins, it’s, it’s, … ah … a mutation into something based on Dragon Age plus World of Warcraft and Windows 8 Icons. I felt bored and distracted.

Story: the story is the strong part of the game. It is not uninteresting. And to describe it like this suits it well. It is not epic nor does it in any way fascinate. No. There are basically three substories (Deep Roads, Qunari and Mages against Templars) which are pretty loosely coupled. The link between them is pretty trying. In fact: there are three stories and none ever occupies ones attention. Plus: a lot of tiny sidequests, which in turn are pretty made up and do provide a share of twists and turns. Those are real nice. Okay: I spared myself the Mine Massacre quest in Act 3, fighting with the High Dragon. This is a very stupid fight, since the High Dragon always sends it Minions and is very hard to kill. For pretty uninteresting items (see below). In the end you have 3 mediocre stories with nice subplots which render to an overall “ok”. Whereas Dragon Age: Origins has been “epic-cool”.

Setting: the worst. At first exploring Kirkwall is fun! But visiting the same places over and over again, and over and over again, and over and over again, and over and over again, and over and over again is slightly bullshit. WTF! You get used to a pretty dull and dump world. This is not fun, this is hard work.

Role-Playing: is totally minimized. Which is very, very sad. In the end, I lost interest in equipping my character. I didn’t fell any great impact of the abilities I choose. And there are 0 (zero, null) riddles to solve. Each quest is solved by running from point A to point B to point C. Yes, there are some decisions to make, but they don’t bother you much. Further more: I am only allowed to equip my character fully but not my companions. Why? This was a very cool thing in DA:O. Now I’m covered in meaningless junk. At the end, I fully lost interesting in the items found. It was all trash to me. Useless.

The interface: is “cleaned up”. Thank you. I now play a Windows 8 version of Dragon Age. I don’t like this look and feel. All things are iconic: weapons, armor, abilities, … ah, they should rename the game to Dragon Age: Metro. But then this is more subjective.

The combat-system: is dull. I played a dual-weapon “thief” plus Varric (crossbow) plus Merill and Anders (Mages). As soon I faced opponents I pressed the H-button (“Hold”) for not letting my companions do stupid things, like Merill always trying to run into the middle of the foes. And then cover the enemies with bolts and magic. My warrior only has to keep opponents at bay not to let them get too close to my mages and ranger. I repeated this tactic from beginning to end. Successfully. No headache. Yes: you get explosions and special effects like Disney Land on LSD and you can’t zoom out like in DA:O for a more tactical overview. Nope. And yes, at first this is fun. But, uhm, … no. Please do not repeat this! Give the DA:O combat style back!

On the good side are the conversations between the companions. Like Varric and Merill. These are always good for a laugh.

I deeply hope, Bioware deals with DA 2 as in “Uuups! That went wrong. Good we learned something in how not to do it.”.

What a pity. This is a weak and cumbersome shadow of Dragon Age: Origins. Though it does have some good points, one simply expects MUCH more from a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins. Not this, this, this … ah … pretty but meaningless Hack and Slay.

For the records: I sided with the mages and let Anders live.

6/10: 6 out of 10

Game: The Witcher 2

The Witcher 2 - Assassin of KingsWow! What a great game! The universe of The Witcher is stunning. It is very adult in terms of sex and violence. The plot is great and full of twists and turns. CD Project did a very excellent job here in bringing this setting onto the computers. Delving into the lands and lore of the North Temeria, Aerdin, Kaedwin and other places, encountering rude dwarfs and outlawed elves. Plus the ever tangling fear of the dictator state of Nilfgard to the south, clearly resembling Nazi Germany. This is great!

The rating of 18+ is clearly obvious. It is not that they exalt violence or portrait pornography, no. It just happens. Think of the Middle Ages. In the witcher game you see hanging and torturing (e.g. eyes been plugged out) plus brothels with whores and hookers on the streets. And yes, you can interact with them. All the people are full of superstitious and prejudice, be it humans, dwarfes or elves. It is dirty. It is cruel.

Actually it is a fairy tale. But the Fairies are very adult. Puh! This is a must have for any RPG collection.

So why not 5 stars? Because as great the storyline, the plot, the environment and all these are, the catastrophic are the controls and the combat system. Gee! This nearly ruins it! The controls simply suck. First you tell Geralt what to do. Then he performs the action with great animations. Next you issue another command and Geralt fulfills this. However, the next command is only accepted when the first finished. This results into the fact, that if you decide an action and then decide right another one, the second one wont be noticed until the first one completed. E.g. the line is: role left – stop – jump backwards. This ain’t no matter until you are in an intensive fight. Then time is precious and any wrong command to Geralt will be punished, since the actions Geralt does are accompanied by (great) animations.

So, watching Geralt fight is great: jumping, swinging, rolling etc. *Playing* Geralt fighting is worse, since even on normal mode, any wrong decision is deadly: the system doesn’t give you second chance. Things would be different, when the commands could be stacked up e.g. this: while Geralt roles to the left, the player noticed, that an opponent throws a dagger onto Geralt at the exact place, Geralt roles to. During rolling the player might choose to jump backwards immediately and issues the command to the Geralt figure right aways. Currently this command is dropped, since Geralt is still rolling and only accepted when Geralt comes to his feet again. This results in a tiny timespan where Geralt just stands there and does nothing … eventually been hit by the dagger.

This is the reason I switched back to easy mode. In normal mode, a single failure against a more potent opponent leads certainly to death. Fighting the Keyran in the first chapter was quite hard. I had not a single chance against Letho soon afterwards.

But then “easy” mode is a piece of cake! I spent all my talents in Swordsmanship and this let me pass by the whole game inclusive the final battle with a laugh! Boy, this game is pretty unbalanced! Please, CD Project, think of it the next time.

And, while I’m on it, a) create a better world interaction system: I was not able to pick up some crates along the way even if I stood right in front of it with no obstacle in between and b) what the heck is that touching of the witcher amulet to get hot spots in the game? I mean, seriously, the amulet needs to recharge to do this again. This results in walking, touching the amulet, grab all things of interest, wait until amulet recharge and restart. Why not simply add a hotkey for this thing to lighten up all things the player can interact with? This “wait for the amulet to recharge” is just stupid.

Finally some quests and hints were rather misleading. E.g. Geralt states “I’ve got to burn this nest.” in the Nekkar quest in chapter 1. However the bomb which actually burn things is “Dragon Dream”, which is the wrong one. You have to use another bomb which works with shrapnels.

Or this one: in the last chapter you encounter rooms with glooming runes you have to touch in the correct order. There is no single hint, that you might get a book about the runes at the local bookstore … ah … why not let Geralt state something like “I’ve to get knowledge about these runes somewhere” or something like this.

So, besides these glitches: applause! An excellent great game!

For the records: I went with Iorveth, saved Prince Stennis from the Mob, chose Triss, spared the dragon and killed Letho.

9/10: 9 out of 10