I thought I’d vent about something a little more relevant than what we discuss on our podcast (retro games)…so this discussion will focus on the feeling of utter disappointment I have felt with the 2011 game line up so far. That disappointment mainly stems from my bitterness towards Dragon Age 2. Read on below…you should…you may agree with me.
Lets start with the beginning of the year, Dead Space 2 and Bulletstorm. Dead Space 2 was a fantastic game that did nothing but improve upon its predecessor, but also handed us a shitty, last minute (it felt that way) tacked on multiplayer component. It was a fun diversion, but could not hold its own weight against the outstanding single player component of Dead Space 2. I have only tried the demo of Bulletstorm…it was alright (and probably what Duke Nukem Forever should have been if you know what I mean)…but the word “repetitive” showed up in many Bulletstorm reviews. So I skipped that one.
Come March we get Dragon Age 2…well…we will get back to that piece of shit shortly.
April comes around and we get Mortal Kombat and Portal 2. Both are outstanding games. I don’t need to say anything more. Just go try these two games. So you may still be wondering why am I bitching. I’ll get to that.
Now I was really looking forward to a couple more games this year. There was Brink (promising to reinvent team-based multiplayer shooters) and Duke Nukem Forever (a chance for me to revisit the Duke and my childhood memories of him). Now I have not tried Brink and have only tried the demo recently for Duke Nukem Forever. Some individuals may say, “you can’t bitch about a game and have a solid opinion unless you’ve played that game you speak so ill of.” You are right! But this article is all about disappointment…and these two games disappointed me with their horrendous reviews. I was pumped up for Brink…I wanted it to be great. Having come down off of my Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Halo Reach high, I was ready for something else to feed my multiplayer FPS addiction. The thought of something that was part Team Fortress, part Battlefield Bad Company 2, and part lots of other FPSs got me excited. But the reviews were disheartening. Then the same thing happens to me when Duke Nukem comes along. I know Duke Nukem Forever couldn’t possibly live up to its 12 year development cycle, but still…it was Duke Nukem…how could it possibly not be, at the least, fun!! Well according to the reviews I read, it pulled off what I thought was impossible…be so bad that it ended up not being fun. The game failed miserably with critics as well.
So you still may be wondering why I’m complaining. I will tell you why, I preordered all three games I am pissed about above. Dragon Age 2, Brink, and Duke Nukem Forever. I canceled my pre-orders for Brink and Duke Nukem once I read the reviews, something I’ve never done before. Before any fan boy jumps down my throat to tell me “you shouldn’t go off of a review…play the game and judge it for yourself”…let me explain this to you. Games are 60 bucks. 60 bucks is a lot of money when I don’t have anyone buying these games for me. So I have to TRUST the reviews…and since I was completely excited about these games, having to cancel my order made me a sad panda since I was genuinely excited about these games. Seriously…as excited as Mike was when he got rid of his copy of Left 4 Dead 2. (Ed: FUCK L4D2 – Mike)
So when did I begin to trust reviews…well that would be the moment I played through Dragon Age 2 and wanted my money back. See I agree that one should not base his game purchasing habits strictly on published reviews from the likes of IGN or Game Informer. I have found many games that I completely enjoy that have received a low metascore that most would say would be characteristic of a shitty game. With this in mind, I ordered Dragon Age 2 anyways. Another important note to point out was that the game received a 79 (for the Xbox version) on Metacritic which is a decent score (which also means you shouldn’t trust reviews no matter what…so where does one draw the line!!). But most reviews had pointed out issues with the game that alarmed me, yet I marched on anyways and purchased Dragon Age 2 and played it all the way through…side quests and all.
Dragon Age 2 reeked of ass the moment I started to play it. There were typos and discrepancies in character class descriptions between the Male and Female characters (which should be the same since sex was the only difference here). My character’s name was Hawke…with an “e”…which comes from the Old English name Hafoc…which just means HAWK (like the bird). I already have one Western RPG cliché shoved in my face and that is my Old English protagonist with his white pale skin and his Old English accent (of course you can change Hawke’s look, but I played Hawke with the look Bioware intended him to have).
I start to play and realize the battle system flows so much better than the system in Dragon Age: Origins. That was fine…but it wasn’t good enough to save the game from itself. The skill trees were dumbed down, as was the stat and item system. So the battle system was akin to an action RPG battle system at this point, dumbed down for our ADD gamer generation. As the game progresses, I begin to have a reoccurring sense of déjà vu come over me. This game feels exactly like Mass Effect! Well no shit, it’s a Bioware game. So I’m stuck in the Dragon Age world, playing Mass Effect now. The game goes on like Mass Effect for about 20 or so hours. During that time I meet the standard troupe of companions (like all Bioware games), most of which are boring in this game except Isabela. She likes sex and has giant breasts. What am I playing here, Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball!? The characters never leave Kirkwall (the main city and location of Dragon Age 2). Granted the city is much more detailed and focused than any of the cities or towns in Dragon Age: Origin, but the game attempts at being a grand and epic RPG which is hard to convey when you are stuck in ONE FUCKING TOWN the ENTIRE GAME!
The game can be longer then 20 hours, as it was for me since I like my side quests in RPGs. Except in Dragon Age 2, the side quests suck and every environment, cave or dungeon in these side quests is recycled over and over again. I can go on but you have listened to me vent long enough.
Now what the hell happened to the Dragon Age series over the course of just two games? Dragon Age: Origins was the pinnacle of Western RPGs for our current generation of home console video gaming. It was a reinvention of Western RPGs of old. I loved Eye of the Beholder, I loved the horribly great TSR Buck Rogers PC games, I “hearted” Baldur’s Gate, and the Elder Scrolls games are fantastic. Dragon Age: Origins gave me hope that we would see the likes of intricate, detailed and complex (yet fun) RPGs again for the current generation of gaming. Dragon Age: Origins had its flaws…characters appeared robotic at times in their animation, the battle system was extremely awkward (especially on the PS3 and Xbox), and the story could be overreaching at times and littered with your typical Western RPG clichés (Old English accents aplenty), but it was FUN. I could only hope that my complaints would be addressed in Dragon Age 2. Well…they weren’t. What we got wasn’t the natural progression most fans expected from original game to sequel…we got shat on. This was the biggest disappointment of 2011 (so far). Not only did I lose 60 sweet bucks, I also lost faith in Bioware and the Dragon Age series.
But I’m still buying Mass Effect 3.
Written Passionately By:
Co Editor and Co Host of Three Guys One Joystick