Monthly Archives: April 2011

Isabella and the Arishok

I’m still trying to unpack the concluding events of Act 2, so I’m going to be more descriptive rather than proscriptive. The sequence of events left me feeling unsatisfied, but I’m not sure if that’s because the game successfully subverted my expectations, or because there’s an actual flaw in the design. Continue reading

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Dragon Age 2: Maps, Quests and Dungeons

A more detailed entry today, rather than a broad ramble. I wanted to take the time to focus on a smaller detail in Dragon Age 2 that feels indicative of the overall lack of polish within the game. The quest-log, the world map, and the area maps are the primary tools that the designers of Dragon Age 2 have chosen to employ in order to guide the player through the game. They’re how she decides where to go next, and what to do when he gets there. As presented, these tools are fine for navigating the main quest-line. But they have a lot of gaps and inconsistencies that a player who is trying to explore secondary content, content that’s there to provide depth to the world and context to the main story. Continue reading

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Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands occupies a very strange, intermediate sort of space. On the one hand, it’s a movie tie-in game – made so that there was a new Prince of Persia game out to coincide with the Sands of Time movie. On another hand, it can be seen as a reaction to the critiques made of the 2008 Prince of Persia reboot (henceforth, PoP ’08). And then, of course, it’s yet another sequel to the Sands of Time game – slotting in between Sands of Time and Warrior Within. In which of these contexts should the game be evaluated? While I was playing the game, I couldn’t stop seeing the game as a confluence of all three influences. Continue reading

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Dragon Age 2: Act 1

I had a lot of gripes about Act 1 of Dragon Age 2 last time, and they still pretty much stand. I think there were too many quests that felt too similar and that the game did a poor job of teaching me about Kirkwall, particularly the hierarchy and motives of, and interplay between the various factions therein. I still really wish there had been a proper tour of the city, with a guide, something like Assassin’s Creed 2 does when you first get to Venice. Or perhaps someone like the seneschal in Dragon Age: Awakening who could have introduced me to the political dynamics of the city. Just something that could give me a better feel about what and who is important.

After the jump, I detail a particularly awful quest, and then things get better: Continue reading

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Books! Under Heaven and The Wise Man’s Fear

Under Heaven feels so much like a traditional Guy Gavriel Kay novel, through and through. The contrasting dangers of journeying through civilization and the wilderness. The honoured, hyper-perceptive outsider who is forced into navigating the politics of the nobility. The catastrophic, civilization-rending event that slowly develops from the margins of the story, emerging to take centre stage in the last third. The long-separated loves and simmering rivalries that end in missed connections, without ever being addressed head-on. Good men being forced into bad decisions by prideful, incompetent superiors and relatives. The power of beautiful, hyper-intelligent women behind the throne. Continue reading

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Dragon Age 2: Early Impressions

I’m mid-way through Act 1 (and will be spoiling up to that point). I am not very impressed right now. I take issue with a number of the decisions Bioware has made, both in narrative and storytelling, and in gameplay. Continue reading

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Premise Duplication

Given that video games tend to draw their inspiration from a fairly limited number of sources, it shouldn’t be surprising that from time to time games will share similar premises. The canonical example from a couple years back is inFamous (intercaps…ugh) and Prototype, which had the misfortune of not only having very similar premises, but also being released contemporaneously, with competing marketing and PR. There have been a couple more incidents of this that I’ve recently come across that I don’t think as much attention has been paid to. Continue reading

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