There was a lack of posting yesterday since I was one of the
fortunate employed people I know to actually get a three day
weekend. If there was a post, I'd probably have said something about
the playoff (NFL) games. However, they all seem like distant
memories, so I'm no longer feeling like saying much. All I can
really say is that I'm still more for the Saints than any other team
out there in contention, so I hope to see them destroy the Vikings
next Sunday. Also, I can say the Jets/Chargers game was just silly
every step of the way.
Anyway, I'm still trying to play Dragon Age Origins when possible.
Unfortunately, that's not too often since the real world keeps
crushing down on me with "responsibilities". Still, I did play a bit
this weekend, and I have to say my impression of the game is not
changing much for the better.
I think my complaints now fall into two categories; the plot and the
limit of four people in a party. To start with the latter, I just
don't enjoy limited party style games. Especially if it has no real
purpose in the plot of the game. DAO is not like a RPG with parties
that are limited due to circumstances. For example, in Suikoden,
some of the party is left behind to build up your army and build
your base. In Final Fantasy 4, you must leave people behind as they
get side tracked by other plot devices (like when you reach six
people after Cid joins you, but the twins have to make a sacrifice
of themselves to save your life). There is usually some reason,
albeit some will be lame like Chrono Trigger's excuse that more than
three people out of a proper timeline with cause paradoxes, but none
with DAO. You have yourself and three others, while multiple people
wait in camp with no reason given. None.
I can see a reason, outside of the plot, in technical limitations.
If you have a large party, then you must face larger enemy mobs,
which could tax some systems. However, with no reason given, this
just makes it feel like the programmers were too damned lazy to give
any excuse beyond a big "we don't know and we don't care."
This also ties in to my other complaint; the plot. There is so much
that just feels like lazy writing. The antagonist (whatever his name
is...I can never remember his name, but he's the obviously evil
looking guy) seems to be about as one dimensional as Garland from
the first Final Fantasy game. Back then, a plot was not considered
too important for an RPG. The difference, beyond being multiple
decades later, is that we now live in a time when a plot is assumed
to matter to a plot driven genre, like RPGs. I mean this antagonist
is blindly evil. He wants to be king, and that seems like a worthy
enough cause, until you see that he's smart enough to formulate a
plan to be king while being too idiotic to know that his plan is
going to doom the world...leaving him kings of nothing. Either this
guy is a sick genius, or not. It cannot go both ways and feel
The plot of the world seems quite similar in how it's lacking. The
world is just dull and generic. You have nameless mass of evil
(called, in game, "the hoard" and "the blight"...wow...original...)
that just wants to destroy all life and a group of people who want
to stop them. You can try to dig deeper, but it's one of those
scenarios that you cannot make sound much better no matter how much
additional aesthetics you add to it. Yes, some extra details can be
found to flesh out the world if you read the "codex" entries.
However, these are entirely text based stories that only tie in to
the actually overall plot of the game in a few select cases. It's
like the books you can read in The Elder Scrolls games. However, in
the TES games, you still got some plot details from interacting with
NPCs. In DAO, the plot points that make the world seem like more
than a paper cutout of a world are almost entirely optional to
encounter, require being read and not interacted with, and just
don't tie in to why your character is doing what he/she is doing.
I won't even get into that one; why is my character on this quest?
From the end of the origin story (each character gets one of a half
dozen origin stories before joining the main plot), I was left
wondering why I couldn't (or in character, "wouldn't") just say
"screw it" and continue my life without joining the Grey Wardens
(A.K.A. "the fellowship of the ring").
Yes, I am honestly trying to have fun with the game. Actually,
compared to Mass Effect, I am having more fun than I did with that
prior Bioware mess. In fact, I have had some good fun with DAO. I
just have to turn my brain off while playing in order to ignore some
of the problems. I have to not think too much about the plot and I
have to either turn the difficulty to easy or pretend I'm playing an
offline MMORPG. I mean it's either play on easy and enjoy some of
the various party combinations and abilities, or play on normal,
hard, or whatever higher difficulty you want with an almost set
party (one tank and three damage dealers, preferably two or three
being ranged, but not including more entertaining prospects like a
rogue with stealing abilities). I mean the game offers a lot of fun
options for building characters, but there are obvious certain paths
that are more correct than others, especially when picking spells
for any mages.
To show I'm not trying to just be a jerk about the game, I can say
something quite good about DAO. Bioware did make the character
interactions quite fun and entertaining. In fact, that's the one
part of DAO where the writing is excellent. There is nothing like
having two oppositely aligned people in your group and listening to
them bicker and try to out maneuver each other in a debate about
morality, or having two people falling for your character who fight
over you as you explore town. Too bad the writers didn't put the
same level of detail to the world around these characters, or even
most of the NPCs who populate the world.