Any long time reader of the blog here will know that I am a huge fan of Bioware’s Dragon Age franchise. Yes, despite the faults with both Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3, I am still a fan. Why? Bioware can weave a story like no other. Though, they ought to be careful, lots of indie companies and writers are coming out of left field with amazing stories and even more engrossing games. Consider the recent positive release of “The Evil Within” as just one example of amazing storytelling from the fantasy given folks over at Bethesda. Bethesda, personally, is not a game producer in which horror springs to me. Fantasy, yes. Terror induced nightmares, no. But they did it, and its all for the better because hopefully it’ll keep other game developers on their toes producing even better stories and games. However, we’re here to talk about Dragon Age Inquisition. So lets chat.
I was really excited about the release of Inquisition. Again, I love the series. I love creating my own custom hero and going forth on quests and dungeon raiding, and all that nerdy mess. As a writer, my medium is horror. I live and breath horror. So, fantasy games like Dragon Age allow me to step back and breath from fresh air before lunching back into the pit. So hopefully my now, you can imagine my excite with the release of a new installment. And there I was, Friday night, all to myself. Wife was out with friends. Kid was spending the night with grandma and grandpa. I was all alone!!! I insert the disk. Feet dancing away in delightful anticipation. And what do I get? I big oh 10-15 min. loading time. Apparently, without warning (thanks Bioware) the game will take up 7G’s of storage space. This wasn’t a problem for me, though not everyone has that much memory. So this is my first taste, after all the waiting, I have to wait some more. No big deal. Be patient, right? Okay…moving on.
To help clarify, I do not own an Xbox One. I’ve got the older sister, the Xbox 360. The Xbox One will be in the foreseeable future, but not yet. Not until I’m pretty much forced into forking over the hefty funds to purchase one. But with games, like Inquisition being offered on the 360, I feel like the change is not yet necessary. Or is it?
Dragon Age Inquisition is offered on a wide range of platforms, including my own 360 version. But maybe it shouldn’t have been. Let me explain. Once the loading time finally finished and I got to the game itself it became very apparent this was not the game I was sold. For the last Dragon Age that will be offered on the 360, no doubt, I expected something — more. The graphics will elementary. Plastic even. The custom options for your custom hero are languished, at best. When I heard you could add scars for your character, I got all nibbly bibbly! But when I went to look for it during my character creation slot, the scars were no where to be found… even worse, the beard option and hair options are equally despicable. You almost have to make your character as bland as toasted oats in order not to look unbearably manikin.
Look. I don’t want to sound like a sour apple. I have no idea if this game looks better on the next gen console than it does on the 360. But there are a lot of faults with this game. Mostly with the way it looks. The game play graphics, the sound effects, everything…its all weird, and, well, lazy looking. I feel, with the product that is in front of me, like Bioware rushed it out the door to meet the Holiday season, forgetting to do some coding with the 360 version. Hopefully, some of these issues can be resolved with some simple updates. I just pray they take the time to do them.
Okay. With everything I don’t like with this game, there’s a lot of it that I do like. The story, though choppy at first, is solid. I felt thrown into the mix without a narration. Okay Bioware, this is basic storytelling. You need a narration. Once I got my feet on the ground, the story started making more sense. And I am currently enjoying the game a lot more. The combat system is fun, much like the second game. The areas are massive. And the side quests are plentiful. Almost to the point where you’ll spend hours in just one area. The new details are also fun. Like with the War Room. I feel like I am actually playing the part of Inquisitor. Plenty of looting, despite the super small text font. There are plenty of new twists to the game to keep your interest. I am just into the very beginning of the game still, as I spent most of my weekend hanging out in Hinterlands. I eventually had to walk away in order to experience more of what the game has to offer. I did get to watch a giant and a dragon duke it out on the coast and then was able to take down the giant. Just watch out for the flying boulders. The impact will kill your character. The options for strategy look impressive, though the party characters all ready come equipped with general combat common sense, which is good. Plus there is an added feature, the “run away!” approach. I had to use this Monty Python strategy a few times against annoying fade creatures.
I’d give this new installment 3 out of 5 stars. I was/am disappointed on how rushed the game looks. Again, my review here is for the 360. i pray the One version is cleaner. But the more I play Inquisition the more I like it. And no doubt my rating will go up to 4 out of 5 stars if only Bioware actually puts out a patch and update all the messy glitches. If you have not yet purchased the game, you may want to wait and see if Bioware actually does put out a patch. Or, if are a hardcore Dragon Age fan and do not want to wait and can put up with mediocre graphics, then by all means. As I said, the game is growing on me, though it shouldn’t have to and if this was any other game from any other production company, I may have returned to sender! In summary, the graphics need major improvements, as well as the glitches; while, the story and combat systems are impressive.
Say what you will; BioWare makes one hell of a American RPG!! As far back as Knights of the Old Republic, in our sweet land of liberty, RPG’s had already begun leaving behind the classic Japanese styled turned based game for something entirely new. There was a time and place when Japanese RPG’s ruled the roost, we all loved and still cherish Final Fantasy 7, but those days are long gone. What makes American styled RPG’s so special is that the game becomes something completely our own, we craft our own heroes, make our own moral choices, and shape the world as we see fit; some more than others. This was the biggest upset for Mass Effect 3; BioWare took away our control we had in the previous two games and forced a controlled story down our throats. Countless nerds who had been creating something unique since Mass Effect first hit shelves back in 2008, reacted to the so-called three “choice” ending of M3 with obviously outrage.
Understandingly, we’re all feeling jaded and apprehensive with BioWare. Will they make the same mistakes with Inquisition? Considering the pitfalls with Dragon Age 2, its fare to say we are indeed nervous. Now, Dragon Age 2 wasn’t entirely awful, the combat system for one and story, for me at least, were both spot on (though the story wasn’t as deep as Origins, it was still excellent). But because Dragon Age: Origins was so amazing, so awesome, and so deeply detailed, BioWare had some big expectations to satisfy. What I didn’t like about Dragon Age 2 was the limitations in character stories. The choices you made did effect the overall outcome, but even those were limited, especially considering the total of six (seven if you count in the Awakening DLC) origin stories in the first game. In Dragon Age 2, you were either a mage or not a mage, and this simple choice set the foundation for the story you were about to play.
Notwithstanding all the past issues with BioWare, i’m actually excited and looking forward to the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Ever since Origins, there has been this underlying issue between the mages and the Chantry regarding freedom, control, and the use of magic and forbidden magic (aka blood magic). By the end of Dragon Age 2, the issue between the two groups had caught fire and spread into an all out war. According to the official Dragon Age website the new story will be driven by a cataclysmic event that happens during the turmoil. The void, separating the fade from reality, has been ripped open by a group calling themselves the Agents of Chaos, and it will be the heroes mission to hunt them down and restore order…or not restore order. If you are new to the Dragon Age universe, the following videos will show you some of the background that has developed throughout the story thus far. Now, because Dragon Age has a huge universe, i’ll only be showing you the mage version of the story with the most obvious choices nerds have made while playing.
The above clip gives you a little preview of the opening mage story and a peek into the main problem regarding mages and the Chantry: control. Through conversations with other characters throughout the story, you’ll discovery some of the history of the game and why the Chantry imposes on the magi. Because of a few bad apples in the past, they fear anyone with the ability to control magic. And as Master Yoda had taught so many years ago, fear can lead to a lot of nasty things. Understandably, the magi ar’nt so keen on being controlled, and a lot have already begun to break ties with the Chantry, becoming, as the games calls them, apostates (illegal users of magic).
This clip shows you the ending for Dragon Age 2, if you decided to side with the mages. The problems between the Chantry and the mages developed deeper in Dragon Age 2 than it did in Origins. There were a lot more choices to be made, both positive and negative. Brother turning against brother, sister against sister, lines drawn in the sand, and finally when the unthinkable happens, when Anders sets the blaze and the Knight Commander looses control, with not just her city but herself as well. The final cut gives us a little preview of the beginning revolution, the mages have risen up! Personally, since day one, I’ve sided with the mages and made their story, my story. Probably because the mages have the most tragic and most human backgrounds. Past histories shaping future events is a very real and common way to give a tale depth and substance.
Dragon Age: Inquisition has plenty of background to make a fine story indeed. Hopefully, the developers have heard the cries of wounded nerds and have taken them into account. Looking at their website, BioWare is making a lot of promises with this new addition, such as: an open multi-regional world, coordinated group dynamics during combat, being able to physically transform certain aspects of our in-game environments (bases and what not), deep and complicated characters, an extensive customizable hero (from boot color to race and everything in-between), and having overall control of our destiny through choice throughout the story. Here is a video showing us what we all have to look forward to:
Release date for Dragon Age: Inquisition has been set for sometime during the fall of 2014 on the PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC. Many of us have already begun throwing our money at the screen. Despite past mistakes, it looks like we’re ready to forgive BioWare in anticipation of Inquisition. And our curiosity with the outcome with Morrigan grows stronger each day. What happened with her love child? How will she effect the games story? Are you friend or foe? Personally, i’m more than a little optimistic for how well Inquisition will turn out, especially considering that it looks like BioWare are taking more cues from Origins than the second game. Only time will tell and so now all we have to do is play the waiting game…….