Dragon Age Review pt. 2 : Sexy Burlap
Let me end the suspense I’m sure you are are undoubtedly feeling upon beginning to read this review. The game is amazing, just like every other Bioware game ever released. One could piss and moan that this is the same old Bioware formula they’ve used since Knights of the Old Republic, which is kind of like complaining about always being served your favorite meal every night that you never get tired of.
They’re calling the setting “dark fantasy”, which is mostly like regular fantasy, except people are complete and utter assholes to each other just like they can be in real life. Expect to have to deal with situations involving one or more of the following: slavery, racism, rape, social castes, homosexuality, cooking, prostitution, pet care, death, and poor personal hygiene. Demons and darkspawn ain’t got nothing on the horrors that all the humans, dwarves, and elves seem to enjoy perennially inflicting on each other. (In fact, all the demon archetypes are based on sins, which probably makes it our fault for them, too.) As a result of this new, darker, tone, choices in this game tend to be a bit murkier than in past games. Before, you’d pick the “good guy” choice or the “bad guy” choice. A lot of times now there is no choice that makes everybody happy except Team Evil, and you have to steal from Peter to pay Paul. Somebody gets the shaft, to one degree or another, even if you’re playing a good guy. So, while you will almost certainly love this game dearly, be advised you may want to save up money for a few sessions with a good therapist when it’s all over.
Well, presumably. I have not yet completed the game yet, though I am 40 hours into it already and I never want it to end. Ever. But of the parts I have played, please allow me to list a few of the things I liked (and *gasp* disliked).
Let’s start with the tips o’ the hat.
The new Tactics system for your computer-controlled allies is a step up from before, when they would mostly just act stupid and you did all the work. However, it does mean you will probably die if you don’t do this right. You need a good healer in this game, and you need a big brawny warrior-type to keep all the nasty ogres and darkspawn from squishing the mages between their toes. Finding good combinations of tactics is an integral part of this game, so if you’re dying repeatedly, look here first.
Though you may find some scenarios familiar, the writing in this game has a way of making you look just a little differently at common fantasy stuff. The Elves are either second-class citizens or they’re like you’re used to except they’re always on the run because they’re persecuted like second-class citizens. Dwarves dress like you’re used to, but they’ve clearly been reading way too much Machiavelli and you could try to cut the politics with a knife (but someone would discredit the knife in the eyes of the people first, so nobody would ever pick it up in the first place). And let’s not forget the casteless dwarves, who it’s legal to murder and rape because they’re not real people because they’re not noble. Never thought that kind of stuff about dwarves before. (Not sure I wanted to!) But it sure as hell breaks the jolly, ale-suckin’ Gimli clones we’ve all become used to over the years. Even so, it’s never stale, and it never seems just like they just changed things to get your attention like “HEY KIDS if you liked elves then you’re gonna love ELVES XTREME: SYLVAN BRONTOSAUROIDS!!!!!!“ This stuff is really well done. And with the absolutely mind-crushingly huge amount of stuff to read in the Codex as you gather information in the game, you’ll be glad they used a large font size because you won’t want to stop anytime soon.
There are a few things about Dragon Age: Origins I’m *gasp* not crazy about too.
- VISIBLE SPELL EFFECTS DURING CONVERSATION
Is it really necessary to keep glowy spell effects going during conversations? I play a mage, which means I basically light people on fire all day long, which usually includes my party members since I’m playing normal mode where they don’t die when I do that. The end result of this is that I frequently having myself in pleasant conversation with all my immolated friends. And if the gatling gun of moral quandaries wasn’t going to put me in therapy, this will.
- WTF DRY HUMPING
It’s no secret that there’s sex scenes. But when they’re doing it, they strip down only to their underwear. I can understand why this might be done in our weird puritanical society that doesn’t mind a firehose of blood spraying out of a nun’s decapitated corpse but freaks out over seeing a pixellated nipple. What I cannot understand is why said underwear consists of large strips of what appears to be burlap. It is approximately as sexy as a Golden Girls marathon. What’s worse, is that the regular everyday outfits worn by some characters show more and look less like some sort of abstinence-cultist diaper. I guess the good news is there won’t be any storylines about accidentally knocking Leliana up. But I guess my point is that Mass Effect’s nude scenes showed us that this whole business can be done tastefully, without getting too graphic, and with the basic premise intact that your characters are not dry humping. The game is not called Amish Age: Bundlings.
Okay, that’s all the bad stuff I can think of, except for maybe that I don’t like how forehead crinkling facial expressions look on Leliana’s face. In short: run – do not walk – and get yourself a copy of this game. But be ready not to sleep. There’s no time for that! There’s darkspawn to kill, stories to discover, and burlap-clad nubiles to seduce.