One ticket, please.
16:Character you’ve hated most? From what game?
Squall from FFVIII? Oghren from DA:O and Awakenings? Det. Roy Earle, your Vice partner in L.A. Noire? Cole from InFamous? So many…
17:What game do you never tell people you play?
I can’t shut up about the games I play.
18:A game you wish your friends knew about?
The Witcher series. Seriously. Once I got past the learning curve on the combat mechanics and juvenile (but optional) sexcapades in the first game, this is just such a great RPG experience.
19:Which game do you think deserves a revival?
Like, a reboot? Or a remaster? For a franchise reboot, I’d vote for Parasite Eve.
20:What was the first video game you ever played?
On console, I’d have to say Pong, because I’m old. Arcade game, I’d say I remember playing Space Invaders in my pre-teens.
21:How old were you when you first played a video game?
See above – I think I was 8 or 9 when I played my first arcade game. I was maybe 10 or 11 when we got our Atari.
22:If you could immerse yourself in any game for one day, which game would it be? What would you do?
Wow. Like Tron or Wreck-it-Ralph-style? Most video game worlds are so full of things that can eat you or shoot you or things that you have to jump over and climb. I’m really too lazy to ever want to live like that, man. That said, my favorite video game world is the Mass Effect universe. I love Dragon Age’s lore but, yikes, no way would I want to live there. Also, oddly enough, I find playing Fallout: New Vegas so oddly soothing. Sometimes I turn it on just to run around and listen to the radio and watch the wind blow tumble weeds around.
23:Biggest disappointment you’ve had in gaming?
L.A. Noire’s game play is just…heartbreaking.
24:Casual, Hardcore, or in the middle?
Casual, man, but I play games I like over and over again and drain the hell out of every possible thing there is to do in there.
25:Be honest; have you ever used cheats (like ActionReplay or Gameshark)?
I have modded my PC games and tweaked PC gear and crap, but nothing like a straight up God-mode cheat. Dragon Age:Origins modded out on my PC doesn’t even resemble my console game.
26:Handheld or console?
I don’t care for handhelds – although Bravely Default on the 3DS is tempting.
27:Has there ever been a moment that has made you cry?
Yup. Mass Effect 3 has four or so moments when I tear up. Cried when Alistair gave the eulogy for my first Warden in my first Dragon Age playthrough, too.
28:Which character’s clothes do you wish you owned the most?
I want my enchanted Daedric Armor from Skyrim and my Reckoner Knight armor from Mass Effect 3, please. I’d also dress like Dracula in Castlevania if I could get away with it.
29:Which is more important, gameplay or story?
Both are important (see my comments about L.A. Noire) but story is my chief draw. Included in that are character, the world the story is set in, dialogue, and how the quests/tasks are presented and motivated – so writing is my chief draw, I guess you could say. I could overlook the sometimes crappy game play in the first Mass Effect because the story and world were so rich.
30:A game that hasn’t been localized in your country that you think should be localized?
I don’t keep up with those sorts of things.
Has it really been almost 2 1/2 years since I’ve updated this thing? Holy smokes. Well, here’s what you’ve missed: I’ve been watching TV, reading books, seeing movies, and playing video games. So, yeah, same old stuff.
Not sure what I’ll be posting in the future, but just to dip my toe back into these waters, here’s a quiz a found on a couple of different sites (though the one over at Jill Sandwich inspired me to take a crack at it myself).
1: Do you try to stay away from walkthroughs?
I do, unless I’m really stuck. Unfortunately, I’m a pretty shitty gamer, so I get stuck more often than I’d like. I mean, I play most games on Easy or Casual. Normal mode is hardcore enough for me.
2:Company you’re always loyal to?
Bioware, baby. Haven’t played a game of theirs that I didn’t at least enjoy if not love – and yes, that includes Star Wars the Old Republic. Bethesda has games I love (Dishonored, Skyrim) and games that bore me to tears (Oblivion), but I’ll check out anything they publish. Lately though, I’d add CD Projekt Red to this list. Loves me some Witcher.
3:Best game you’ve ever played?
I’m assuming Best here means Favorite. For that, I’d have to go with Dragon Age: Origins, although the Mass Effect series is really, really close. The games I’ve had the most fun with recently are Dishonored and the Witcher games.
4:Worst game you’ve ever played?
Oh boy. Um. Maybe DC Universe Online because it so utterly wastes the license? I’ve played about ten different characters, some as far as the 16th level, and it’s so very, very dull. Powers that don’t feel particularly powerful, uninspired quests and painful grinding, and a world that feels far too small. In terms of broken gameplay, L.A. Noire, a game that I actually like despite its refusal to let me so much as go up a ladder without fucking with my patience.
5:A popular series/game you just can’t get into no matter how much you try?
GTA. Confession time: I’m not a fan of sandbox games. I like a compelling narrative and interesting characters (Skyrim and Fallout:New Vegas may be the only exceptions that come to mind of sandboxes that just clicked for me). The misanthropic adventures of GTA’s brand of sleazes and reprobates don’t do much for me. I’ve tried two different GTA titles and, despite my love of the crime genre, they just never grabbed me enough to put more than 20 hrs or so into them.
6:A game that’s changed you the most?
Either Metal Gear Solid or FFVII. They came at the perfect time in my gaming life to really make me fall in love with video games again. These were deep, rich games that felt like they were put together by masters of their crafts. These were first video games that really sold me on the marriage of fun game play and compelling narrative.
7:A game you’ll never forget?
This is a silly question. How about this – most unforgettable gaming moment? This one goes to Anders’ actions in Dragon Age II. Even if I have mellowed on my love for the game in the past couple of years, I still think the story and themes of Dragon Age II are pretty great and that moment was the series’ version of Ozymadeus’ “I did it 35 minutes ago.” from Watchmen.
Running up to that? Just about every major character arc in Mass Effect 3. Words don’t even come into play on how emotional I get playing that game — that first bitter flight from earth with Clint Mansell’s heartbreaking piece playing over the destruction. Mordin’s fate (and his final message to Shepard if you get the Citadel DLC). Solving the Geth/Quarian conflict. My lady Shepard’s final moments with Liara. Watching the earth burn with Anderson while he…sorry, I still get so choked up. People can say what they want about the ending, but they will find no sympathy from me. As far as I’m concerned, Mass Effect 3, in its entirety, is just utterly fantastic.
I love game soundtracks. I listen to them when I work. All-time favorite soundtracks are, no surprise, the scores to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Final Fantasy VII. That said, the ones I have been really in love with lately are the score to Mass Effect 3, Michael McCann’s score for Deus Ex: Human Evolution, Jesper Kyd’s score for Assassin’s Creed II, and Cris Velasco & Sascha Dikiciyan’s work on Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (three of those games I haven’t even played!)
9:A game you turn your volume off every time you play it?
I don’t do this.
10:A game you’ve completely given up on?
InFamous. The lead is such an unsavory douche that I just couldn’t spend another minute in his skin. Which is a shame, because I have never played a game that so completely nails what I imagine it would feel like to have superpowers as that game does. But between the dull-as-dishwater story, the constantly re-spawning armies of featureless street thugs, and Cole’s detestability, I just can’t imagine ever revisiting that franchise. Before that it was Prince of Persia because I couldn’t figure out how to jump back and forth between walls.
11:Hardest game you’ve played?
Demon Souls. Hands down. Followed by Shadow of the Colossus. After that, any goddamn Lego game.
12:Shortest time you’ve beaten a game in?
Did a Clean Hands run on Dishonored that took me 6 hrs.
13:A game you were the most excited for when it wasn’t released yet?
Dragon Age:Inquisition. Prior to this one, maybe Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2? Now that I’m waist deep in Witcher2, though, Witcher3: The Wild Hunt has jumped near the top of my must play list. I just hope my PC can run it. 😦
14:A game you think would be cool if it had voice acting?
Final Fantasy IX.
15:Which two games do you think would make an awesome crossover?
Uncharted and Dead Space, because I would love to hear what Nate Drake had to say. I imagine it would be something like “oh shit oh shit oh shit WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?”
Part 2 tomorrow
I’ve played Dragon Age II once all the way through, and I’m nearly done with my second run.
The game has some serious—some would say (and have) fatal—flaws.
1) The recycled environments are disappointing at first, and gradually move on to being completely distracting. I understand that taking the time to develop fresh environments for some of these quests would have lengthened development time, and the cost-to-benefit ratio was probably deemed too marginal to do so. Still, when every mansion and cave looks exactly the same, it really yanks a fella out of the story.
2) The new inventory system is for the birds. For me, micro-managing my companions’ armor and weapons was a big draw in the first game, and here the process has been simplified to the point where it feels utterly arbitrary.
3) Why do potions now require a cool down period? WHY??
4) The in-game trigger to access doors and chests and obtain loot from fallen enemies is ridiculously touchy, so much so that finding the icon that signifies you can access these things involves making your character do the hokey-pokey for a minute or two before you see the icon letting you know that, yes, you can now get your shit.
5) The Friend/Rival system seemed really arbitrary in some cases, making appealing to any given companion character’s interests in those situations a guessing game. I had this problem with Mass Effect II’s Paragon/Renegade system as well, for what it’s worth. Sometimes you say something you think will give you some brownie points with Companion X only to see a nice little +5 Rivalry.
6) There’s a disconcerting disconnect between your character’s appearance and actions versus the reactions you get from NPCs. As an example, my mage saved a Templar from a particularly nasty Abomination using all the wicked magic at my disposal, only to have the Templar turn and remark that we need to keep an eye on mages because “they aren’t like you and me.”
7) Some of the mini-quests involving collecting items from dead baddies and turning those objects into random folks for cash reward is pretty pointless and ultimately a waste of time.
8) The final moments of the game do not provide an entirely satisfactory resolution to your time spent as Hawke. After nearly thirty hours questing and killing in Hawke’s boots, I wanted a bit more from the closing coda.
Having said all that…I loved this game. Not as much as I loved Dragon Age: Origins, perhaps, but that game has a really special place in my heart; not since Final Fantasy VII have I had so much invested in a game as I did in Origins. Still, while Dragon Age II is a definite departure in several critical ways, I found it a rich and satisfying experience. The more arcade-style combat was a hoot (particularly if you play as a mage), and while the gameplay is distinctly more like a JRPG (oddly, it reminded me a great deal of Final Fantasy VIII and X) and far less open-world than Origins, the story and world were compelling enough that I never felt it was an inferior beast to its predecessor.
Now, if you want a *really* SPOILER-filled look at the things I enjoyed most about Dragon Age II, feel free to proceed. Be warned: 1) if you have any intention of playing any of the Dragon Age series but have yet to do so, don’t read any further; and 2) this is more of a reaaally long essay than a review, so if you really couldn’t care less about those sorts of things, feel free to be on your way.
Still here? Then damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!