Dragon Age: Oh The Acting

By Jim Rossignol on August 25th, 2008 at 9:31 pm.


Among the residual Leipzig footage was a few minutes of Dragon Age cutscene, and a it’s a pretty good barometer for the kind of acting we can expect from the new Bioware RPG. It’s looking like splendid ego-action from men in armour discussing the Fate Of The Kingdom, not unlike the RPS chatroom every morning. Sadly, it does not feature much acting from the Big Blue Toothface Of Doom (pictured) although he does a good growl.


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60 Comments »

  1. Larington says:

    Gonna get all negative on this for a moment, though it does show promise – Me nitpicking:

    1. Wheres the kings speech?
    2. Why haven’t they either replaced or re-recorded the kings dialogue? His vocals are really lacking something, doesn’t at all sound from tone of voice as though he knows that the actions he is about to take may decide the fate of an entire civilisation, which any half competent king would know…

    The scared crapless soldier was a nice touch though.

  2. Mogs says:

    The more I see of this regressive step in the RPG genre, the more I want to cast GTFO+5 with my Staff of Meh on Bioware.

  3. JamesC says:

    Ouch, that was Oblivion-bad acting.

  4. Abe says:

    Regressive? Doesn’t that imply that there’s actually been some progression in the genre?

  5. Jacob W says:

    I can’t be the only one who’s sick to death of these high fantasy RPGs. I love Bioware and all, but they really need to broaden out. Maybe instead of these generic Tolkien-y settings (or, god help us, another Forgotten Realms game) they could hark back to the old Black Isle days and come up with something really new.

    How about a game in the Eberron setting?

  6. Jim Rossignol says:

    Eberron is the one with the steampunk (clockpunk?) elements? That might be quite fun. I thought the Dark Sun stuff was quite stylish too, although that might have been the latent fetish stylings of the Brom art.

    I’m happy to bash generic fantasy too, but I quite like the look of this.

  7. Jonas says:

    I’m not gonna judge the game on the basis of this short video. It looks pretty grand, but I’ll be interested in seeing how that battle actually plays out. I didn’t mind any of the voice acting, and the king’s cocky attitude seemed to imply he was quite the rookie, which it sounded like is what they were going for.

  8. Larington says:

    Remind me, what setting is Dungeons & Dragons Online in, I thought that was Eberron too, or am I thinking of something else?

  9. onkellou says:

    How do people use gamevideos.com? That’s a serious question – I am on a 16Mb connection here, but that 5 minutes “streaming” clip takes an hour to load. And it’s always like that for me with gamevideos.com. Just bad luck? Or do you all leave it in the background for an hour till it’s fully loaded? :-/

  10. Calabi says:

    It was very droll. Maybe it plays better than it looks though.

  11. Jacob W says:

    @Jim & Larington: Eberron is a lot like standard D&D, except it has ~1930s era technology, all powered by magic, and more of a pulp adventure novel feel. Lots of dueling on the riggings of arcane-fueled skyships and that sort of thing.

  12. Jonas says:

    onkelleu: Yeah takes me about 20 minutes to load, which is less than your hour (unless you were exaggerating) but still pretty weird considering I have 20 Mbps downstream. With Gamevideos, I always get a few seconds in before the video catches up to the buffer, then I have to wait for ages for it to load completely and THEN play, otherwise it’ll keep catching up to the buffer – it’s pretty annoying.

    I’m not sure about Dragon Age’s setting, I’m all but sick of traditional fantasy, but if the story and the gameplay is good enough, I think I’ll be able to endure another Tolkien game. They say this is a lot darker than normal fantasy, but if that just means you’ll be fighting undead, I dunno…

  13. Nick says:

    “I love Bioware and all, but they really need to broaden out.”

    Eh? They haven’t done a fantasy RPG since BG2.

    (edit)

    I mean NWN, but it was a bit shit so I forgot about it.

    How more broad do they have to get from Fantasy to Sci-Fi to Far East Asian theme?

  14. N says:

    Without Black Isle to back up their tech Bioware is like a 10k a night call girl that can’t even do waves…

  15. DangerousDan says:

    The voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. Personally, I’d have loved if they’d done something in the mould of George R.R Martin’s fiction (some of the dialogue hints at that). It looks better than the lacklustre Mass Effect, at least.

  16. Jacob W says:

    @Nick: They also had a partial role in Icewind Dale 2 and NWN2.

    But you have a point. Maybe part of my problem is that I have an unrelated, but equally fervent sickness towards all things Star Wars.

    Mass Effect was a little too generic too, in my opinion, but I have to give them credit for going out on a limb with Jade Empire. And… Sonic. We’ll see about that.

  17. Sartoris says:

    Look at those dead, expressionless faces. Just look at them! I mean, making pretty faces isn’t enough, you gotta make them react, show emotion, something… and having a permanently raised eyebrow is not a step towards characterization. But I guess they’re at least not as abominable as the faces in Oblivion….

  18. John Walker says:

    Mr Yellow Armour sounds a bit like he’s reading out a children’s book. Which does somewhat spoil his gravitas. Mr Blue Armour seemed pretty good though.

    I like to pretend silent player characters are just really shy and whispering so quietly that we can’t quite hear.

  19. Pete says:

    Sounds fine to me, I’ve certainly heard a lot worse in games and at least the accents are passable. The knight in steel armour with the plan sounds like Simon Templeman, he did Kain in the Soul Reaver games (and in fact voiced characters in KOTOR and Jade Empire too it seems). Bioware rarely disappoint with the voice acting in their games IMO.

  20. danarchist says:

    Make a freaking Shadowrun RPG (that’s roleplaying game, e.g. the fanbase of the I.P. NOT a shooter ffs) and I will fly to wherever you are and my personal assistant will personally kiss your buttocks.

  21. Nick says:

    Yeah, the SNES one was great (I didn’t like the sega version though) so it can be translated well..

  22. ulix says:

    I actually liked the video very much.
    The acting was good, a lot above average, although the facial animation seemed less good than in Mass Effect.
    All those knit-pickers can knit-pick all they want, I already know that this is gonna be an incredible experience, just as Mass Effect and Jade Empire were (yeah yeah – just say it…).
    That its a “real” Party-RPG and that they claim to have drawn inspiration from GRRM just makes my mouth water even more.

  23. Orange says:

    A bit bland, but then it’s the party dynamic which will really make or break it. If there’s characters of the quality of Minsc and Boo and the player character can be shaped as you see fit then it’s all good.

  24. Nick says:

    I thought Jade Empires was pretty awful actually. A low point just above the SP of NWN but not much.

  25. Larington says:

    Its odd, because during that video some of the voice actors I’m doing a Neo “Woah” impression and then Mr King says something and I’m suddenly somewhere between ‘cringe’ and ‘LOL’. In a way I really hate saying all this stuff, I’m sure the voice actor for the king is doing his best, its just not quite cutting the mustard for me, if the character is supposedly a rookie there should be some clear element in the characterisation to indicate that, if its there its too subtle.

  26. Jesucristo says:

    No multiplayer cooperative, no buy.

  27. Masked Dave says:

    Mr Yellow Armour sounds a bit like he’s reading out a children’s book. Which does somewhat spoil his gravitas. Mr Blue Armour seemed pretty good though.

    I got the impression that Mr Yellow Armour was new to this whole Kingy business and had up till now been a rather bland Prince with his head up his arse, that war was reasonably new to these lands and he had yet to experience it (at least for his generation, Mr Blue Armour was more embittered (not a word, but it should be)). So the voice acting probably works in the context of the whole story, especially if my guess there turns out to be true, as it means the voice acting must be spot on perfect to extrapolate all that!

    My problem was that… well… that was just the battle of Helm’s Deep in Two Towers, surely?

  28. darkripper says:

    The problem is: we see voice acting and acting itself as two separate problems.

    The idea of a bunch of armoured guys standing in circle, delivering their lines without expression would make any director cry (even a mediocre one – say, peter jackson).

  29. caesarbear says:

    The voice acting was excellent, you fools.

    which any half competent king would know…

    There’s your poor assumption. Quite clearly this ‘king’ is one by name and not deeds. We are getting a wealth of interesting character details from this short clip, partly from the written dialogue, but more so from the good voice acting. I’m not claiming it’s oscar (or even bafta :) worthy or anything, but it’s clearly not terrible.

    Also the point of NWN was not to deliver a cutting edge single player campaign. It’s a brilliant game when you consider it properly, an RPG engine.

    I’m surprised by the lack of thoughtfulness around here. I though RPS attracted more stimulating readers, or was it just stimulated?

  30. onkellou says:

    Comparing stuff like the facial aimation to Mass Effect doesn’t seem to be quite fair – while Mass Effect’s details like this did look significantly better, there wasn’t ever as much happening on the screen as here.

  31. onkellou says:

    “Also the point of NWN was not to deliver a cutting edge single player campaign. It’s a brilliant game when you consider it properly, an RPG engine.”

    It was sill a shockingly bad single-player campaign. Doesn’t matter what else it was if it’s the single-player people are referring to here.

  32. James G says:

    Most info I’ve picked up on Dragon Age suggests that King Goldy is indeed supposed to be a bit wet behind the ears and still full of some of the hubris that comes from naivety.

    The ‘acting’ does feel to be a bit of a step back from that seen in Mass Effect. Also, if I’m understanding things correctly, DA is using a different engine, so I guess it wont be easy for the devs to port across whatever magic they used in ME.

  33. Jash says:

    I doubt the people moaning about the trailer are really the target market anyway. If you like RPGs, you are probably used to graphics that don’t measure up to that of other genres. The only question for me is how to pre order.

  34. caesarbear says:

    It was sill a shockingly bad single-player campaign. Doesn’t matter what else it was if it’s the single-player people are referring to here.

    That’s still a complete misunderstanding of NWN. The single player value of NWN is in the abundant wealth of single player modules available for download. In those terms, NWN supplies more decent sp content than any other RPG. If you did nothing but play the official campaign in NWN, then you wasted your money.

  35. Nick says:

    “Also the point of NWN was not to deliver a cutting edge single player campaign. It’s a brilliant game when you consider it properly, an RPG engine.”

    Which is why I repeatedly refered only to the singleplayer aspect which – I may add – they made a big thing of when they talked about it. As for the ‘wealth’ of good SP modules, I’ve played very few that didn’t make me sigh deeply at the horrible writing. The ones that didn’t were usually unfinished.

    That and the engine was, whilst good for scripting, ugly and fiddly and nothing short of a pain to endure after the beauty if the infinity engine’s hand drawn backgrounds. Obviously hand drawn was impossible in the context but the jigsaw connecting tilesets were a drab and uninspiring bunch.

    Anyway, Dragon Age then, I hope it’s good and whatnot.

  36. cannon fodder says:

    Is it just me or Does king yellow armor sound suspiciously like LaCroix from Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines?

  37. onkellou says:

    No, I didn’t just play the official campaign. But I was *talking* about the official campaign. Like everyone else here did who mentioned NWN1, actually. Judged on its own merits (and it was also marketed as an “epic single-player experience”, btw.). It’s absolutely pointless to discuss the toolset at this moment here.

    edit: Yeah, exactly what Nick said.

  38. caesarbear says:

    Which NWN modules did you play?

    And why is pointless to discuss the toolset, when that’s its principle feature?

  39. Eschatos says:

    That looks really good. Nothing wrong with the voice acting at all.

  40. Stromko says:

    I hope Dragon Age is good, but I have this sinking feeling that Bioware is succumbing to the EA curse. The list of triple-A developers that have taken the same, swirling course down the drain of mediocrity is longer than I care to remember. I don’t know if it’s from overseer meddling or they just lose pride in their company and the product, they just get progressively more sh*t. Lionhead (aka Bullfrog), Maxis, Origin, I’m looking at you. I think Maxis has dodged the curse the best, probably by throwing up a shield of crappy add-on packs and spinoff products that absorb the shit-rays from EA headquarters.

    And I say this as somebody who ADORED Mass Effect, even though on parts of day 1 and 2 of playing it I did a lot of swearing at my TV set because of a few gaffs, and the DLC was sort of crap. The new characters had some excellent voice acting at the end, nearly brought a tear to my eye, but the only returning character with dialogue was Shepherd and that was a dealbreaker for me.

  41. Psychopomp says:

    “His vocals are really lacking something, doesn’t at all sound from tone of voice as though he knows that the actions he is about to take may decide the fate of an entire civilisation”

    That’s because he doesn’t.

    “regressive step in the RPG genre”

    Return to cRPG’s of yore=/=Regressive

    Following this line of logic, Painkiller was archaic, rather than awesome.

  42. Ninelives says:

    Ye of little faith.

    Boo will take care of the details.

  43. Zarniwoop says:

    You know, hopefully videos like this will put an end to the whole ‘OMG BALDURS GATE 3!!’ attitude many people have been taking online with regards to this game. It was never going to be that good. At least, unless the setting actually turns out to be in any way as original or imaginative as many Bioware’s previous games.

    What’d be cool I think having played a lot of 3D RPGs, is if a bunch of indie devs did an isometric (or similar) RPG with the amount of graphical polish that’s available today. Part of the charm of those sort of games I think was that much more was left to your imagination, and things like bad animation and expressionless characters didn’t matter because you could barely see their faces anyway. Also: ALL 3D GAMES LOOK THE SAME. ¬_¬

  44. SofS says:

    I haven’t really been paying attention to this game thus far. Now that I’ve caught up a bit as to what it’s generally going to be like, I have one question: why does a single-player-only game that isn’t based on a license (though I have trouble with the idea that this isn’t an official D&D product) have to go and use a class system? Class systems are there for group play so that a group of people can easily figure out what they should be doing at any given time, for balance, and because most roleplaying systems of name have them in one form or another. If you’re the only actual person playing, why not just let the player pick and advance his or her stats (and maybe those of the allied NPCs, though there’s no problem with giving them their own progressions) as desired? CRPGs seem to be a bit too set in their ways about this particular pencil-and-paper legacy.

  45. Psychopomp says:

    @SofS

    A free-build system (Not including Fallout) opens itself up to cheesed builds a lot more than a class based system. With a free-build system people can make characters that are unstoppable, in every sense of the word.

    Hell, even D&D 3.5′s freedom with multi-classing had to be cut from 4.0 due to people cherrypicking different classes, I once played with someone who had a wizard/ninja/barbarian/ranger who could deal out *47* d10 of damage in one attack. *At level 11.*

    By giving someone freedom within an established class you damn near eliminate this problem all together.

    Also, as someone who loved 3.5, I love 4.0.

    Inb4″It’s no longer a role-playing game,=.” Games don’t fail to role-play, players do.

    Concerning Dragon Age not being a D&D product, look more into it’s mechanics and character creation system. It’s *far* from the same.

  46. Rudolf says:

    1. notice how these guys always seem way to comfy in their hideously heavy looking battle armor? In rain, and ligntning…
    2. king’s voice going from pampered spoiled little brat to a falsetto command voice, hillarious
    3. orcs? I mean really, that’s been done a thousand times, where’s the dragons?

  47. Martin says:

    No probs whatsoever with Gamevideos.

    About the game; not sure yet.

  48. onkellou says:

    “Part of the charm of those sort of games I think was that much more was left to your imagination, and things like bad animation and expressionless characters didn’t matter because you could barely see their faces anyway”

    Absolutely – in the end, an NPC seen from an isometric perspective, who mumbles the a few lines with the text just floating above his head is a lot more convincing than an NPC in 3D you see close up, with a robotic face and fully voice-acted, repeating the same lines again and again. Not much room for the imagination to fill the gaps in the second case.

    Our demands these days for state-of-the-art graphics, full voice-acting and cinematic presentation make another game like BG2 or Planescape: Torment pretty much impossible.

    But just imagine: a Fallout 3 (or Baldur’s Gate 3 or whatever) with a 3D engine like, say, Titan Quest’s, which looks alomost 2D but has all the advantages a 3D engine has, and extensive dialogue trees instead of voice-acting, excpet for maybe a few key scenes…

  49. theapologist says:

    Amidst the crowded room full of big grown up skeptics, I shall skip and dance – a naive little girl with a pink dress on who can see only knees, and yet is happy.

    Also, I quite enjoyed NWN campaign.

  50. CrazYvan says:

    how about a white-wolf rpg