Archive for July, 2011
I got to play Legacy, the first “real” DLC (with story + quests) for Dragon Age II since the release stuff (item packs hardly count). If every adventure in DAII would have been at this level, lots of the negative comments, the game received, would have been void. All the locations are new and there was no recycling. The similar goes for (several) enemies and characters met. That also makes Legacy the first (BioWare) DLC ever (probably), that was better than content in the main game. That’s especially true for the Dragon Age series (name one Origins DLC that was so good that you had to play it); Mass Effect had at least Lair of the Shadow Broker. Even the complexity was a little higher than “usual”, other than DAII, that lacked such RPG “extravaganza”, this DLC had a couple of (minor) puzzles that finally enriched the usual environments filled with countless hostiles. They really tried this time, to offer something better. In some places they built in traps, that can be triggered while enemies stand in the “proper” spot. Thus, even an otherwise bland battle can get more interesting and diverse. One of the new enemies is a darkspawn alpha, who takes cover behind a metal shield and tries to ram the party with it. His introduction is nicely done, because they placed those metal shields everywhere and by the time the darkspawn is behind it and waits to attack, I didn’t expect anything, because I thought it was only the same shield I’d seen so often already and then it suddenly moved and this huge darkspawn held it. :)
I used a post-campaign save to play it and it seemed like a good decision (I find this save quite weird, because they disabled so many hotspots in the house and I can’t think of any reason why…). In Legacy, Hawke gets a new weapon (depending on the class) and a new armor (x of the Silent One) with a bonus, if the player finds the complete set (more powerful than the champion’s armor!). The characteristics of these items depend on the character’s level, so a player who starts this quest in Act 1, ends up getting shitty items. :)
But back to production value, I especially liked the many dialogs the characters had, they really delivered lots of lines for all the people I chose for this trip (and I didn’t even select Carver, who’s recommended for this quest – it’s supposed to be “family business” after all). Just for that I can imagine playing it again, to experience what other characters have to say and how they will react. The writers also delivered many texts, letters, diaries and books that were lying around. It seemed to be as much text, as I encountered in the whole DAII campaign. :P This is no complaint, I like that and read it all.
Although I still wouldn’t describe the final boss fight as epic (as the advertisement does), it certainly deserves that classification… as a boss fight. The final battle against Meredith was less demanding and less creative.
I gained one level during this DLC and my char was at 26 then.
It’s good that this adventure was real fun, because at the end of it all my character was stuck again, in this post-campaign, dead and empty house in the now inaccessible Kirkwall. :)
PS: I encountered only a single bug, I was standing on a trap, that was still displayed but didn’t trigger (anymore). But I believe that was nothing new and could already occur in good ol’ DAII.
7.6 had to be replaced by 7.6a due to installer bug
(+) is for Plus Edition players only!
- +Restored unused OST music, thanks Rik Schaffer, SteveMV and Kendrel.
- +Enabled you to keep Jack’s .38 pistol and restored bisexual Phil.
- +Added Humanity loss for sending Copper to Nines and no-stake option.
- +Tried to fix possible name plate bug and updated missing fists fix.
- Fixed lost Mercurio email and removed extra Gargoyle XP from basic.
- Added dumpster downtown to cover map hole and made Phil stay longer.
- Corrected Imalia only handing out one camera and fixed missing pier music.
- Added Malkavian whispers transcript to Extras, thanks to an unknown.
- Fixed Nosferatu and Malkavian detection script of King’s Way level.
- Replaced ancient Python 2.1 version with 2.7.2, thanks ColonelAlias.
- Fixed spawning of Hallowbrook enemies and more minor level details.
7.6b removes Python 2.7.2 due to incompatibilies with Win64 systems
Personally I had no incompatibilities, except for having to add a DLL file (without a msvcr71.dll in the game’s root, the game wouldn’t start), after which everything worked well again. So I have no idea if further problems exist, or were implied by that statement.
I must say I enjoyed Hunted a lot (the full title is weird, since there was no demon who had a forge in this game). It’s fast-paced fantasy-action, powered by the now super-familiar Unreal Engine 3.x. This game could be bundled with Mass Effect 2. It’s probably a lot like what Dragon Age would have been, if they’d used the Unreal Engine again instead of their own brew. The similarities with Mass Effect 2 are abundant. The cover system, the 3rd person view, weapon-handling, no complex inventory… It’s easier to list what’s different. Apart from using the fantasy genre, it only “lacks” (in comparison) dialogs in which the players can select answers and thus experience resulting choices. There are only few characters and the game world, like in most shooters, only progresses, it’s not possible to return to earlier locations nor to choose from various destinations.
The game does allow, however, to find new weapons (bows, swords, shields…) and armor pieces with varying stats/looks and there is some character development through the spending of crystals, which can be collected in many places. Furthermore, regularly using certain feats will grant automatic upgrades to them, in several stages.
Instead of having a huge party, the entire game focuses on E’lara (bows) and Caddoc (melee) (although both can switch, e.g. if E’lara runs out of arrows she has a sword too and Caddoc can use a crossbow for enemies who are otherwise unreachable) – as single player it’s possible to switch between them at fixed locations in all levels and that’s cool, although the game is designed to make co-op more enticing.
A little more intrigue is introduced through (all optional) secrets and minor puzzles in most chapters. Leaving such an area right away (one character usually drops a line like “sure you don’t wanna look around some more?”), equals forfeiting all the eventual loot.
What else? Sometimes it’s possible to shoot a stationary ballista and some kind of steam-punk machine gun (fires wooden bolts, I think). Using a death stone on certain corpses grants fresh information and more background information in the form of lore, which is collected in some sort of timeline and can be accessed anytime (videos instead of text). The Wargar (bad guys who look like orcs) sometimes take prisoners and the protagonists can choose to free them.
Once someone’s got the hang of it, the game won’t deliver much surprises anymore, but IMHO the same could be said about most action games, so it’s not really a downer for me. All environments look actually different (if not completely) and I encountered only a single bug (a door that was supposed to open automatically after a big fight didn’t and I had to reload the last checkpoint). That still counts as “flawless” in my book.
Initially I only wanted to play Alice Madness Returns, but it’s been 10 years since part 1 came out, that’s why I thought it might be a good idea to play this again. I could only remember ~3 things (e.g. the black/white parts are unforgettable) from the first game. I had fond memories nonetheless, because the level design was very unusual (at the time and maybe even more today) and the epic Quake 3 engine (I need to find my copy of Star Trek: Elite Force II!) was always appealing to me (you just gotta love those skies!). Furthermore, it’s always quite the trip, to see how graphics evolved in such a time period (and gameplay + handling changed). 3D graphics more than anything else, often look shocking after a couple of years. Try to compare 12 year old Half-Life 1 with Crysis 2 and 12 year old Broken Sword with A New Beginning. Drawn backgrounds always win in this regard.
All in all I welcome every game where I’m not guided to the exit and am still allowed to find my own way. I’m curious how much I’ll like the sequel in comparison. :)
Yeah I know, it’s “older” but I happen to really like it and it’s also very well executed, I think.