Stand aside Evil, I won’t be as gentle! Dragon Age II under (too) close scrutiny.

Just read an article over at IGN360 about Dragon Age II and it’s “improvements” and “updates”. I’m a little dismayed to tell you the honest truth. If you can’t be bothered to read their whole article (I don’t blame you – read mine instead), the gist of it is that the sequel to the acclaimed Role Playing Game (RPG) has been tweaked to look considerably better on consoles “especially”. “Especially” in that context means, ‘but dumbed down for PC’. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

– The necessity and skilled usage of the pause button has diminished it seems, as individual enemies ‘go down fairly easily’.

– Zooming out has been limited (even further) than in the original game. To the extent that you can’t zoom out beyond the ceiling of the room you are in! I think I feel sick.

In fact, this line from the IGN article pretty much sums up the changes to Dragon Age II, and it doesn’t appeal to me for obvious reasons:

It seems as though BioWare is taking Origins, which was super nerdy and very specifically targeted players like me, and giving it a graphical facelift so it can appeal to a wider crowd.

A wider crowd. Ach, what tasteless words. What that means is, they’ve stripped it of all complexity and cult attraction and all but blockbusterised it. I know that’s not a word, but come on! In the immortal words of Ricky Gervais, “Fuck the crowd, most of them are idiots.” He couldn’t be more right. The problem is, most of them are idiots with wallets, and BioWare, like every business since time itself, is all about the money.

Anti-capitalist rant aside, I am absolutely gutted about the lack of zoom out function. The main reason I loved DA: Origins was that it could be played in the style of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. All RPGs these days are way too close up and, for lack of a better word, 3D. (I’ve talked about how much I hate that before…) It was a downhill trend which started (I think) with Neverwinter Nights. Still great, but lacking.

I’m one of those gamers who plays for the compelling storyline, the spectacular magic and mystery, the ludicrously expansive side quests. Nobody cares if there’s a little more glass on the ceiling chandeliers, or if the blood splatter on your character’s face has increased since the last gory battle. Hell, at least give us the option to look on from a distance.

I want sorcery and adventure and a birds eye view. In that order. And while you’re at it BioWare, let us string the commands together like the old days. I want to prove my mastery by casting the perfect killer combo before my enemy has incanted their first spell. Sure, Dragon Age II will do for now, of course, but when you’ve created a game as thorough as Baldur’s Gate again then you’ll really have my attention.

Yup, Minsc and Boo stand ready…

Dear IGN: a few thoughts regarding Game Changer

Dear IGN,

I didn’t want to enter – I just wanted to express how unbelievably stingy and ungrateful the Terms and Conditions of your competition are. Not only does the Game Changer website offer no indication of what the awful prize is (except for in the ‘small print’ T&Cs), the four stage competition demands a hell of a lot of work for nigh on fuck all compensation. Sure – you claim to offer a helping hand for those struggling to worm their way in to the film and video game industry, but frankly this seems like nothing more than a jumped up PR stunt.

The prize for this painstakingly epic tournament is just three instances of exposure on your website, for which you offer no payment and in fact, declare that “entrants’ participation will be at their own cost.” You also mention that participants will take part in challenges in London! That’s really exciting news, and I can think of nowhere I’d rather spend all of my money while I make a futile grab at a future career in your company…

Let me lay this out clearly: you are hosting a competition with no financial or material prize, that will cost participants time, immense effort and money? Does this strike you as something you would enter?

As one of the biggest online video game sites, one would expect that you might offer up….oooo, I don’t know…a free game? A free console? There are competitions to which entrants must simply enter their name that offer much more satisfying rewards than yours. To be honest, your ‘prize’ appears to be little more than a massive, egotistical pat on the back for yourselves, that you are generously offering the humble layman the opportunity to appear, briefly, on your prestigious website. Great. You pompous arses.

Oh, and finally, if the presenter in your Game Changer promotional video is anything to go by, then standards are evidently not being set very high. You really are in dire need of some new talent. So get off your high horse, think up some original prizes, and pitch us something worth buying in to. Until then, kindly remove the Pop Factor X Idol banner from your homepage.

Yours sincerely,

yada yada yada…