Monday, February 27, 2012

Top 50 Video Games: Number 15

 Platform: Xbox 360
Absurdly Specific Genre: Hack'n'Slash'n'Chat'n'RPG
Difficulty: For being an RPG, it's got some bite to it. I'll give it a '7'.
Beaten: Yes

The acronym 'RPG' ostensibly stands for 'Role Playing Game'. That's nice, but it seems that in most RPGs of the 'hack'n'slash' and fantasy varieties define the player's role as 'dude who swings the sword'. Characterization has never really been a strong suit in most hack'n'slashes. Luckily, Bioware has never shied away from strong characters.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to give Dragon Age a try. It got great reviews and it's got all the proper Bioware (my favorite developer) hallmarks. I suppose I'd just been annoyed by one too many Lord of the Rings-style fantasy games - see a billion enemies, hack them to pieces, skip every cutscene. Thankfully, Dragon Age never succumbed to that.

Okay, so you probably couldn't tell the two apart based on this screenshot. Trust me - it's much cooler.
The dialog trees might not be quite as complex as KotOR or Mass Effect, but they have a lot of sway on the course of the game. Be a annoying do-gooder who does every single side quest for every single villager, and you'll annoy Morrigan to no end. Kick puppies left and right, and Allistair will get pissed off. It's a nice bit of depth in a genre that usually doesn't allow for it.

Oh, come on, Ms. Crabbypants, you know you want to help Billy find his pet puppy.
I don't know that there's one particular part that Dragon Age: Origins does that much better than anything else, but the combined finished product is far above and beyond the hallmarks of the Dark Fantasy genre.

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