Game Review: Dragon Age:Origins

Alastair Nerys Kiss

Wow.

Just wow. Yes, that is the only word I can possibly utter as I finished Dragon Age: Origins.

I am not lying.

As I played through the 90 hours of story, I kept commenting to my friend Pete that this was probably the best game I’ve ever had the privilege to own. The best game ever made. I’m being totally serious. It’s a pretty big statement to make, and I’ll stand by it.

The world is rich and warm. It plays on familiar fantasy tropes (i.e. good vs. evil) and simultaneously keeps everything fresh.

Bioware is the same company that is making the new Star Wars MMO: The Old Republic. If Dragon Age: Origins is any indication of what is to come, I may never been seen again.

This “choose your own adventure” mechanic was a wild ride from the moment I started. Never have I been moved by story in a video game. There were a few seamless cut-scenes where I found myself crying or staring at the screen in complete and utter awe. There have been fun and frantic rides through games like Half Life 2 and Bioshock, but as far as true immersion in characters and plot, this pulled me in and never let go.

The combat system only adds to the beautiful complexity of this game. If you try to go in with swords afire and without tactical planning, you will get your ass handed to you multiple times. Have you ever had a deadpan conversation with a friend that sounded like this:

Pete: “Umm. Wow.”

Kate: “Umm. What?”

Pete: “The dragon. Yeah, it just picked up Alastair and chewed on him a little. Until, he died.”

Kate: “Yep. It does that.”

Pete: “And there goes my other character.”

Kate:”Yep.”

Pete:”And my whole party.”

Kate:”Hahahahahah.”

Even setting down the difficulty will not get you far. The fighting lures you in the early levels. It’s all glorified gore and easy battles, but as you continue on with the story, it gets substantially harder. A room of ten soldiers and a boss had me pausing and issuing commands every two seconds. There is no tank and spank. You need to approach every battle with strategy and thought.

The picture above is the other favorite thing about the game. You don’t start this adventure with your best friends. Through gifts and social interactions, you butter them up and eventually convince them you’re worth a damn. I chose to romance Alastair, the other Grey Warden in the party. It paid off with a campy but sweet love scene. Bioware chose to leave on the undies, and I can see why they wanted to save their skins from all the watchdog groups out there, but I still think they made the wrong choice. I’ve never understood the mentality that a violence fest, complete with bloody finishing moves is generally accepted, but the minute the kissing starts, we pull our kids away with disgust.

If you’re letting your thirteen year old play this game, you’ve got bigger problems than a 30 second pixelated tender moment.

Regardless, Bioware deserves the ratings it’s getting from the gaming community and I’m already itching to play a sequel.

I’d love to do a voice for one of the characters. Can anyone from Bioware help me out on that one? 😉

Go play this game. You won’t regret it. Oh and get it on the PC. Consoles are for losers. 😉 Okay, maybe not losers, but from what I’ve read, the game is far more challenging and complex when played on a PC.

I iz supah L33t! I pwn!

My friend Pete (1st place), me as a medic (2nd place) and David (3rd) on red. We ended up winning the game. As an aside, we three haven’t played the game in over 6 months. 🙂 I love pwning!

(This helped significantly in bettering my mood.)

Thanks to Pete for the screenshot. (Click to embiggen)

TF2pwnage

Sexist EA Games Objectify Women at Comic Con.

Because really, it’s totally okay for women to be sexually harassed when it’s all in good fun.

What the CAPITAL Flying FUCK was EA thinking with this contest? You know I don’t like to swear in my blog posts, but I can not believe a reputable gaming company would treat people like this.

But then again, didn’t Sony sacrifice a goat and offer fresh offal for everyone to eat to celebrate the sequel release of God of War? They had topless women feeding grapes to guests at that party, too.

It’s bad enough when I have to suffer teenage male hormones on MMO games like World of Warcraft, and Age of Conan. But offering up females in the flesh at events like product launches and gaming conventions crosses a line and manages to piss me off all at the same time.

I can see the appeal to young females willing to make some cash at these things by standing around looking ditsy and pretty, but if EA is encouraging its male fan base to grope and oogle, they lose all respect from me. I dont’ think I’ll be purchasing any more EA games.

More often than not, I’m playing FPS games that feature nothing but male characters with guns. The few games I do play that offer female leads, the women in the stories are usually half naked and boob-a-liscious or evil and turn into fire breathing dragons. I don’t know who is doing the storyboarding, but these writers need a serious dose of reality.

If designers can make a realistic, trained man, they should be able to make a realistic, trained female that retains all her clothes.

Regardless, I digress. Naked pixels and the objectification of women on a monitor is one thing. I’m not even saying that is cool, either, but it’s understandable. It’s fake. If a prepubescent teen wants to look at an almost naked night elf ass all day, fine. Not saying he needs extensive amounts of therapy.

But it seems like the decision makers who utilize real, living women the way EA and Sony have done so far, need a lot of psychiatric help.

Shame on you, EA.

Plants VS Zombies

When I first saw this game offered on the PC Steam Platform, I rolled my eyes. “Everyone is capitalizing on this zombie craze! When will it become too much?” I thought as I continued on my way to Counter Strike.

It was only on one lazy Saturday afternoon, I was bored enough where I downloaded the demo and fell in love.

There are 50 levels of pure, addicting fun in this game. The content remains fresh and keeps you on your toes as you progress from front to back yards complete with pools, roof levels, and night and day arenas. This is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s all the more hilarious because of it. Zombies drive zambonis, emulate the late Michael Jackson in his “Thriller” video, and engage in identity theft by pretending to be your mother.

Once you are done with the boss at level 50, (the only time I was actually eaten in the game) there are loads of things to keep you busy. There are fun little mini-games, puzzles and a fun zombie survival mode which if you’re stressed after playing L4D, this will make you feel better about chances in a plant friendly post apocalyptic world.

If you haven’t tried it, at least grab the demo. I’m not kidding, you will be amused and ultimately wonder where the time has gone. For me, I found out how obsessive compulsive I am while playing this game. Everything had to be planted in symmetry. If I had any plants out of order, I’d dig them up and plant again so everything looked very pretty.

What?

Steam users: Don’t buy this retail. Steam is offering at price points hovering around $7.00 to $9.00, as opposed to the $20.00 seen on the Popcap and Best Buy stores.

Game play hints: Plant at least two rows of sunflowers. I went from level 1-35 planting only one row, and while I didn’t die, the levels went by very slowly. It’s more challenging with less sun, but if you want to utilize the higher powered projectile plants, you want to plant a lot of sunflowers.

Also: Somewhere down the line, you receive a key for beating a level. This unlocks Crazy Dave’s store out the back of his van. Purchase the pool cleaners for the backyard levels. They cross the entire distance of the pool instead of dropping to the bottom like the lawnmowers. If your plants have been eaten and you  are too weak as to set off the last line of defense in the pool, you want to wipe your entire row of attackers to start fresh. 

pvz1

More Evidence Pertaining to My Geekiness

My Team Fortress 2 mobile came in the mail today. I’m kinda sad it’s missing the medic, only because that’s the main class that I play. But I have a feeling it would have looked a lot like the pryo. I think out of all of the shadow carvings though, the heavy is my favorite. Ka-boom.

Naturally, I had to hang it near my Portal Companion Cubes which are furiously guarded by the yet unnamed red dragon of desire doom.

What?

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To All The Girl Gamers: New Vocal: Girl Gamer

I was lamenting that there were no songs celebrating a rare breed; girl gamers. As we saw on this season’s WCG: Ultimate Gamer, there are female professionals out there that could probably beat the piss out of most people and look good doing it.

Here is my musical tribute and incidentally, I had a ton of fun doing this song. I especially like the third verse. 😉

Outside

I Reject Your Virtual Reality…

According to this article in The Escapist, virtual protests are cropping up everywhere from Second Life to World of Warcraft. Imagine my surprise when one of my hobbies was included in that list; the first person shooter, Counterstrike. While I applaud certain people for fighting for noble causes, I can’t express how annoyed I am at the same time. I paid $49.99 for the Orange Box. I pay a monthly fee for Internet access and I would like to use my valuable free time in a manner where I don’t feel like I’m being harassed. 

A good societal obliging woman like myself should be able to shoot the heads off of pixelated terrorists or zombies without having a peace sign shoved up my ass. 

Granted, I have yet to experience these protests online. Yet, should the experience occur, only two things will happen while these avatars lay down in the shape of heart or spam the channels with their hippie love fest. I will knife and/or shoot them and then I will teabag their dead and bleeding corpses. See, I don’t care about your agenda when I’m trying to blow off some steam.  That’s the thing isn’t it? I’m a productive member of society who finds ills and abuses just as sick and twisted as the next girl. I donate to charities and I’ve done a little marching myself in younger days. Yet, when I’m starting up a favorite video game to escape the crap that is happening on both a personal and global level, I don’t care to be reminded of anything outside my little four foot space. I am happy in my comfy chair, with  heavy beats thumping through my headphones and a large cache of weapons with which I can do substantial damage. This is my time.

I hate to say it, but I place these people on the same level as the jerkoffs who cheat and make any gaming experience miserable by not playing by the rules. Even in the chaos of staking out Pete for example and jamming a knife through his prone body, there are rules that one needs to follow in the gaming world. Even so, this new teamwork we’re seeing in the form of protests has no business interfering with the land of make believe. 

Didn’t these men and women learn anything from their childhoods? We must be able to seperate the world of fiction and fantasy from real life if only to maintain our sanity. As the lines between the real world and gaming continue to be blurred by people with their own agendas, I guess my definition of terrorist does too.

Blast from the Past – 3D World Runner

While searching for ring tones for my recently replaced phone, I looked up video game sounds and came across a blast from the past.

I thought I was the only idiot who loved and played this game!

Apparently not. I wish it were available now, I honestly think I would never be seen again until I beat it again.