PC Gamer: Dragon Age Origins Review

By John Walker on November 3rd, 2009 at 10:58 am.

That's a nasty cold.

My review of Dragon Age in PC Gamer is now online. All 60 million words, but short the very pretty boxouts (and thus vital details about the “taint” – snigger). It looks very splendid in the magazine. (Unfortunately an RPS review will be a while coming as our attempts to get review code were not responded to.) It’s a tremendous game, in many senses of the word. Here’s an excerpt that captures one of my favourite details:

“Whether you play as a human, elf or dwarf, a rogue, warrior or mage, a noble or a commoner, Dragon Age requires smart use of your wits and weapons. Combat is a combination of real-time fighting and turn-based handing out of orders. You have control of all in your current party (which has a maximum of four characters), as well as an elaborate Combat Tactics system that enables you to all but program your team’s AI. But there’s also an entire realm to explore, and a central, overwhelming theme of acculturation within its many towns and races. This is about politics, moral philosophy and love. And about killing dragons with swords.”

, , .

261 Comments »

  1. EBass says:

    Much obliged John, been wanting to read this for a while, had to cancel my 12 year subscription a while back due to money constraints.

  2. Voice of the Majority says:

    What’s wrong with Eurogamer? They seem to be the most negative review site around. Unfortunately, their criticisms usually have more than a grain of truth in them. Let’s see…

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Although I doubt it’s the case here, I often think when magazines say ‘world first – exclusive review’, what did the magazine do to be guaranteed that world first exclusive review, and surely it owes the developer/publisher a good review, or it’s unlikely the magazine shall ever be privileged with such a gift again?

    • John Walker says:

      No, because lying to your readers has a far greater negative consequence than pissing off a developer.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Well we already know that deals like this have been done in the past in terms of score. With Metacritic’s (undeserved) importance, some publishers have taken to only issuing early review code to those who guarantee a certain high score. While I’m not going to argue with John over review practices because that would be incredibly stupid of me, it would not surprise me certain fudging, glossing over and lies of ommission are done in these reviews. Outright lies? No.

    • Po0py says:

      John Walker says:
      “No, because lying to your readers has a far greater negative consequence than pissing off a developer.”

      All the more of a reason for these publications to never do these kind of exclusives. It only ever causes doubt amongst us readers. And we really don’t give a hoot weather this or that publication gets the first review.

    • merc says:

      Eurogamer are negative? They gave Fable 2 10/10 – so they aren’t negative, they’re just wrong :p

    • phil says:

      Unfortunately, exclusive reviews, or in many cases reviews delivered 30 mins before everyone elses’ mean page views and increased ad revenues, hence the leverage publishers can potentially extert outside of the crude, ‘give it a 9 or we’re pulling our ads’.

      Trying to find a detailed review of the 360 version of this game led me to some fairly obscure sites eariler today for example.

    • Garg says:

      The thing that gets me about the Eurogamer review is that it doesn’t seem consistent. Reading the review it seems that it should get a 7/10, maybe a 6. But it ends up with 8, which just sounds like it was slapped on to appease the Metacritic watching guys at EA. If anything I think that is even more suspect than allegations of how exclusives effect review scores (and anyway I’m pretty sure they don’t. I remember PCG UK got a world exclusive of DoW 2 recently; everyone seems to forget that they gave that a fairly standard 84% or so).

    • bill says:

      that eurogamer review sounded like a 5 or less, i was surprised by the 8.

      But since half the eurogamer reviews are written by the RPS guys, you can’t really complain one is more negative than the other.

      having read all about the negatives in the eurogamer review, now of a quick dinner before reading john’s positives…..

    • Premium User Badge Fede says:

      EG review didn’t seem that negative to me, some things got praised and some other bad things got highlighted, that is pretty common when you review a game that is good but not perfect. Problems which could be dealbreakers for some are highlighted, so that people know what they’re going to find.
      I think Alec did something like this in his IGN fallout 3 review (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/10/28/attack-of-the-fallout-3-reviews/)

    • bill says:

      It’s interesting to compare it with the eurogamer review. All the facts are the same, the difference is simply how much the world captured the reviewers. EG reviewer thought the world was bland and gerenic, you thought it was “yet set in a highly original world”

      The trailers have lead me towards the eurogamer viewpoint… but if it’s as good as you imply it could be, it’d be awesome.

      On the other hand: ” It has been over four hundred years since the last Blight, but even those who remember believe there will never be another. One man disagrees. Duncan, head of the Grey Wardens in the nation of Ferelden, sees all the signs of a coming Blight. He is seeking new members to join this most elite band of fighters, ”

      That’s a straight rip from The Black Watch in Song of Ice and fire. Pretty much everything that isn’t ripped from that series seems ripped from Wheel of time.

      Except of course for the wh40k psykers:

      “Those demonstrating magical skills are separated from their families as children and sent to a Mages’ Circle. A mage is vulnerable to possession by demons, or to the allure of deadly Blood Magic. They must live under the control of the soldiers of the Chantry, the presiding human and city-elf religion, serving in the army. ”

      Both you and the eurogamer review agree on the difficulty settings at least. ;-)

    • Psychopomp says:

      Do you honestly think *they* didn’t “rip” that from something else?

    • bill says:

      yes. honestly.

    • Heliosicle says:

      hmm that didn’t occur to me, I love those books but I kind of forgot about the fact no one would listen to them at first..

    • Dave says:

      There are no stories that someone else hasn’t already told. It’s all in how you tell them.

    • Po0py says:

      All fiction of any kind is an evolution of fiction that has come before it. It is as simple as that. To suggest that anyone is “lifting” or maybe at a stretch, “stealing” ideas and then come to the conclusion that the work is unoriginal is just erroneous. You take the best bits of work you admire, you add to it, you twist it and mould it and present your own spin on it. That is what Bioware seems to have done. I think, from the previews and descriptions I have read of this game, Bioware have spent enough time inventing and dealing out fresh perspectives to their storylines warrant the praise they are receiving. Also, it has to be said, to any layman who doesn’t often read much fantasy fiction, this world may well seem unoriginal. It has elves, dwarves, kings, sorcerers and dragons. On the face of it that seems like any other work of high fantasy. It’s what you do with those elements and how you present them that should be judged.

  3. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Although I like the thought that has went into the combat system and the general intelligence of the game I am finding the story to be exceedingly dull, not sure if I can put up with this for 100 hours.

    • Wulf says:

      I kind of figured that would be the case.

      My Western RPG of the decade is still Mask of the Betrayer, on the merits of being an intellectual paragon and an emotional rollercoaster. Mask had me fall in love with the characters and really feel everything that they felt, and both Gann and Okku are two of the most standout characters in the history of gaming for me. If someone asks me to name the best RPG out there, I’d name Mask. I liked Planescape: Torment, but even Planescape’s characters seemed a bit flat by comparison.

      I suppose it’s what one’s looking for, but I have this funny condition where I can’t enjoy a World if I can’t enjoy it vicariously through the characters, if I think the characters are flat and/or complete jerks (which is the case with many Bioware games) then I can’t bring myself to give a damn about the World, no matter how detailed it is, it’s going to seem dull to me. I know this is a mileage may vary thing because not everyone cares about characters like I do.

      The thing is though, I was actually even mildly depressed when Brink died in Torchlight, because he seemed a really stand-up guy, and these feelings continued with how his ladyfriend spoke of him, in hushed, sad tones. It made me angry at Alric and the evils that dwelled below. So it’s not hard to get me to care about a character, but the only Bioware character I’ve ever given a damn about, ever, was Minsc. Miss you, Minsc.

      But Minsc was a moment of genius in Bioware’s writing and something they haven’t come close to replicating. The other characters of Baldur’s Gate (and II) I tried to feel something about, but failed, because they just seemed that dead to me, they were more words on a page, professionally perfect, but totally lacking in emotion. It’s a funny thing to try to describe, but Bioware characters have no soul.

      As annoying as Grobnar might have been, I still have fond recollections about the interactions between him and Khelgar…

      “[...] many Khelgars high!”
      “What did I tell you about not using me as a unit of measurement?!”
      “Errrr… many Neeshka’s high!”

      …and that’s what makes a game for me, charming characters. I feel their joy, I feel their pain, I laugh with them, I cry with them, and that’s something that Obsidian excelled at, the art of giving a character a soul, and it’s also why I can’t bring myself to be excited about Dragon Age. I know it’s going to have this amazingly detailed World, no end of lore, beautifully crafted locations, and I’m going to be bored by it.

      But yeah, I’m more excited about Alpha Protocol than this, because though Alpha Protocol is modern day, it’s Obsidian, and I have expectations of Obsidian, huge ones, because with each Obsidian game, I expect to exercise my emotional palette.

      That Dragon Age has scored more highly than Neverwinter Nights 2, and more importantly, Mask of the Betrayer, tells me that people are more into getting a professionally crafted RPG with no bugs than they are with getting a game that has characters with soul. And that’s a shame, it really is.

      I wonder if I’ll get used as a punching bag by Mr. “U NOT TLDR ENUF, U GOT BIG TINKY WURDS DAT HERT HED, I SMASH11″ again? We’ll see!

    • merc says:

      Wulf:

      Ah, you’re making me nostalgic for Mask of the Betrayer. What an excellent game, I love how in your playthrough Okku was a valued companion and in my playthrough (possible spoiler warning) I devoured his soul and made an undead monstrosity using his hide. Such excellent writing and choices.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      As good as Mask of the Betrayer was I was let down at the end by some serious railroading.

      **spoilers**
      Throughout the whole game you travel with this character who intends to tear down the wall, and you can try and help her. But then Kelemvor shows up and you’re only dialogue option was to say ” It’s okay, I won’t do it now” and then you get berated by your companion for turning your back on her. I don’t believe for one second that your character should have been able to bring down the wall (it’s you against a god; you’re boned) but they should have at least let you try and fail with a suitable ending; be a martyr for the cause or something. But to just be railroaded into changing your mind really soured me on the whole experience.
      **spoilers**

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Schadenfreude -

      The writers had intended that you could tear down the wall, but the Wizards of the Coast said no, it was too big a change to the “canon” to have in an official product.

      I think Bioware have stated that these sorts of restrictions to content and allowed topics was the reason they moved away from D&D licensing to doing their own worlds. Probably the same for Obsidian.

    • Anthony Damiani says:

      Mask of the Betrayer was horrible. You build up this whole thing to take on the god of death and free the souls from the wall of the faceless. You beat gods, you have a minor god in your party, and you just ATE the previous god of death. But when the current god of death shows up and you have no choice but to nod meekly and give up your entire quest.

      It was a disaster.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Anthony Damiani -

      *MORE SPOILERS*
      Minor God – did you refer to Okku? He was sort of a demi-God really, an ascendant spirit, wasn’t he? Also, you don’t get the chance to consume the previous God of death. He is gone, what you meet is a shadow, a memory of him, with just a fraction of its previous power. A real God in the D&D pantheon is of another order of magnitude. So I think it does make logical sense if just “the God says no”.

      I agree it did feel like a bit of a cheat, but as I explained above, the choice wasn’t really theirs. Also, taking on the God of death is an even more epic story than MotB.

  4. Theoban says:

    Eurogamer really didn’t seem to like it, then gave it a heftily positive mark at the end. Odd.

    I will stand by Lord Walker and eagerly anticipate this game reaching my grasping, clammy hands.

  5. TotalBiscuit says:

    Good, hopefully they’ll continue to be negative. I don’t need someone trying to gloss over the issues a game has or pretending things are aye-ok when they aren’t. There’s a worrying internet trend for folks to get irrationally upset when a piece of media is criticised, even when they weren’t the ones who made it. That’s a very dangerous thing. One should not sacrifice credibility and integrity to staunch the tears of a few online bleedingheart morons.

    • Mihai says:

      If they want to be negative, they should stick to it until the end and rate the game as such. A less than glowing review on Eurogamer that ends up with a 8/10 mark is more than strange.
      Take the Mafia fiasco for example (which I remember fondly)… now THAT took some balls. 4/10 and a horde of angry internet people shouting and cursing at the reviewer :)
      Besides that, Eurogamer seems to have been hit&miss since some of the old crew stopped writing the main articles. I mean, the 6/10 review for Risen is pathetic, really :(

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Scores can go fuck themselves, they are arbitrary and stupid and anyone who pays heed to them needs to seriously reconsider what they base their purchasing decisions on. These same complaints came up after the RPS ‘review’ of Borderlands, in which they hilighted a ton of totally reasonable problems but still came to the conclusion that the game was really good and deserved to be played. Games are often more than the sum of their parts and the important task a reviewer must do, as well as give their own opinion, is outline issues that could cause certain gamers to change their minds based on their personal taste. Glossing over the facts is a bad thing, because one of those facts could be a deal-breaker and leaving it out of the review may result in a bad purchase.

      To me, it speaks volumes when a game gets a laundry list of complaints in it’s review and yet the conclusion is still positive. Borderlands encapsulates that perfectly. It’s a shoddy port with a list of problems as long as my arm and Gearbox should be ashamed of themselves for letting them slide through the Q+A. However the game is the most fun I’ve had all year and I’ve already put 20 hours into it since Friday launch. The RPS review in this respect, while negative in many places, was the most valuable for me in terms of accuracy and would have doubtlessly affected my purchase decision had I not already had the 4-pack preordered on Steam.

    • Catastrophe says:

      @ TB

      I bought Borderlands but have barely played it. This is not due to it being poor, quite the opposite really, I enjoy it but I don’t want to get too far into it without my friend, and my friend has realised, since purchasing it, that his machine cannot handle it, due to needing 3.0 shader :(

    • Heliocentric says:

      I’m glad review scores exist for one reason, divisive games. Games which get 4/10 and 9/10 are some of the most interesting games in the world. I go into them knowing a might not love them but inside is something worth loving.

    • Psychopomp says:

      The flamewars that ensue are really fun to watch, as well

    • Alexander Norris says:

      The worrying Internet trend is hardly limited to blog posts and games journalism. As soon as people raise any points whatsoever about anything, the great unwashed horde of morons rushes in to tell them that they’re “pussies” and “fags” for daring to have an opinion beyond “OH YES MAKE ME SPEND MORE MONEY ON YOUR ENTIRELY SUPERFLUOUS PRODUCTS MR PUBLISHER MAN”

    • Psychopomp says:

      Fucking MMO communities are the worst

      “”

      “gb2wow n00b”

    • Psychopomp says:

      *”[legitimate complaint]“

    • Zaphid says:

      Mihai: don’t get me started on Mafia, that game had one of the best storytelling I have ever seen and only to get grounded as a game from a developer “nobody ever heard about”. Objective reviews my ass.

      Are there still any serious gamers who 100% believe in official reviews instead of word of mouth ? The release week of any big game is always a mess, between raging about the scores, complaining about the bugs and dodging the spoilers you would almost forget the game is supposed to be enjoyed (or at least I hope so). PC gamers usually have an edge in this, when the game sucks on consoles, nobody gets their hopes high for PC release.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      The point here, I think, is that John and the rest of the RPS crü pretty much count as word of mouth. John’s not only written a paid-for review that showers glowing praise on Dragon Age, but he’s also been fairly vocal in saying he likes it. If that doesn’t convince you that he wrote what he did because he holds that opinion and not because “the Man” bought his soul for a handful of exclusives, then I’m not sure what will.

  6. Spiny says:

    Photo catption:

    “ACHOOO!”

    CATCH IT
    BIN IT
    KILL IT

  7. dbdkmezz says:

    As Voice of the Majority mentioned, the contrast between this and the eurogamer review is striking. It’d be really interesting to have some kind of interview / discussion with Oli Welsh (the eurogamer reviewer) to talk about the different reviews. Seems like there would be lots of scope for discussing not only Dragon Age, but also reviewing in general.

    For me personally, I find eurogamer to be the only review source I trust. Although I’m now wondering why I base my review trust on the site it comes from, rather than the individual writer. I’ve barely heard of Oli Welsh before, and I know and trust your writing on RPS, and yet because Oli is writing for eurogamer and for PC Gamer, I’m much more inclined to trust him. Very odd.

    • whortleblurp says:

      I too would find such a discussion interesting. I had two instinctive complaints to make of the Eurogamer review on reading it: firstly, that it appears to assume that the point of the game is the combat, and the dialogue only a faintly tedious introduction to the combat; and secondly, that the lack of “inspiration” or “soul” isn’t a very fair point of criticism. On reflection, I think the first complaint is probably fair as a complaint, though I may have exaggerated the degree to which the reviewer actually uses that assumption; but as for the second complaint, I realise that implicit in John Walker’s review is also quite an emphasis on “inspiration” or “vision”, just in the form of praise for it rather than condemnation. So I can hardly reject the one review on this basis and approve of the other.

      Perhaps it just boils down to the fact that one reviewer clearly liked it, and the other clearly did not. And they might as well include that in the review…

    • Psychopomp says:

      I’d say not feeling any soul from the game is an excellent complaint. Whatsmore, note everyone is going to be moved by the same things. Borderlands feels like a husk to me, and I’m sure there’s some guy out there who doesn’t feel any emotion while playing Team Ico games.

      I’d argue that the latter is the soulless one, but I stand by my point.

    • Klaus says:

      “I’m sure there’s some guy out there who doesn’t feel any emotion while playing Team Ico games.”

      What if I felt nothing for Ico and Yorda but felt bad for the colossi? Except for the small fast one. The bastard.

    • dbdkmezz says:

      Ooops, shouldn’t really have posted without reading your review. Now that I’ve read both its clear that they are both great reviews, and not just a case of eurogamer being more careful or sceptical. Instead it just seems that all that happened is that the eurogamer reviewer didn’t connect with the soul of the world they’d created, while you loved it. Just another reminder not to only read one review of a game I suppose :)

  8. Lilliput King says:

    @TB I very much doubt the tears of online morons are what causes reviews to be overly positive. Can’t really see it as a credible explanation.

    The case is probably that a reviewer liked it to the extent where they no longer think objectively about the games flaws, or, as HexagonalBolts suggested, the review is somehow compromised.

    • Theoban says:

      Wait wait wait, John Walker gives it a great review and one site says something different, and now there’s flying accusations that his journalistic integrity has been breached?

      My my, angry internet men indeed.

    • Lilliput King says:

      No sir. I think our dear Mr Walker sometimes gets carried away, as I suggested.

    • dartt says:

      Yes, you must remember that all reviews are conducted by adding or deducting points based on an extensive check-list of objective criteria (can double jump, has shotgun, can quicksave, etc…) so when two experienced reviewers produce different results you know there was foul play.

      This is why there is redundance of reviewers!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Liliput: I dare say that arguing Walker’s a rubbish reviewer is actually questioning his credibility.

      KG

    • John Walker says:

      dartt – in fairness, double jump IS objectively crucial in all games.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Furthermore, Dragon Age doesn’t have *any jump whatsoever,* so I’d assume it’d lose double the points.

    • Azazel says:

      Just like Guild Wars. No Jump = -1.

    • Neut says:

      Furthermore, Dragon Age doesn’t have *any jump whatsoever,* so I’d assume it’d lose double the points.

      Just like Guild Wars. No Jump = -1.

      Ah so that’s why it got an 8/10 ;)

      Anyways in this case I’m gonna be more inclined to go with John’s review because I know he likes his single player games with compelling stories and characters. Dragon Age is meant to a game with an interesting world and characters so if he says its good in that regard I’lll believe him, difficulty spikes be damned.

      It also helps that the EG review had this lovely little paragraph in it:

      “Meaningful choices are lost in a near-infinite number of meaningless ones, consequences are only vaguely defined before the fact, and the cold machinations of the cast stir admiration for the game’s clever, systematic plotting, but seldom emotion. Uninvolved, you make calls with your head and not your heart, and you never feel like you can escape the gravitational pull of the game’s design the way you can in, for example, Bethesda’s RPGs. “

      If he thinks Bethesda’s RPGs got emotional involvement and meaningful choices and consequences right then I know we’re on completely different wavelengths and can safetly say that I won’t have the same opinion of a game as him.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “consequences are only vaguely defined before the fact,”

      The second he said that, I knew we were on different wavelengths altogether.

      Sorry man, but choices feel more important when you’re uncertain of the consequences.

      See: The Witcher

    • Premium User Badge GibletHead2000 says:

      If he thinks Bethesda’s RPGs got emotional involvement and meaningful choices and consequences right then I know we’re on completely different wavelengths and can safetly say that I won’t have the same opinion of a game as him.

      I concur. Much as I love Fallout 3, the “Click here for the good choice, or over there for the evil one” all gets a bit predictable. — Although admittedly Mass Effect was a lot worse for doing this.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Neut -
      “If he thinks Bethesda’s RPGs got emotional involvement and meaningful choices and consequences right then I know we’re on completely different wavelengths and can safetly say that I won’t have the same opinion of a game as him.”

      Oh, I don’t know, Oblivion had lots of quests where you could say “Yes, I will do this” when offered a quest. Or you could say “No, I don’t want to do this” and then you could walk away and come back later and say “Yes, I will do this”. Lots of choice and consequence! ;-)

      Sarcasm aside, that was mainly Oblivion, they got a lot better in Fallout 3. But they are still far behind games such as Mask of the Betrayer, Planescape: Torment or Vampire: Bloodlines though.

      And I totally agree with you and Psychopomp – not being told immediately what the consequences of an action, just like in the real world, increases immersion and my interest in the game.

      Also, after John’s review I am SO looking forward to this game.

    • Smokingkipper says:

      @Neut

      Yes of course, it is great knowing which reviewer to turn to. For single player RPG’s, I take Mr Walker’s word as I see it. Same with Keiron and the quirky, strange indie games he talks about.

      I do not know this Oli fellow, and I nice chap he may be! But I have stuck with John for a few years now, and when he gets this exited over a game, I will certainly be checking it out.

    • bill says:

      while i agree about liking Not knowing all the consequences before hand, I thought he was using the bethesda rpgs to illustrate a different point… that those games are more like a sandbox, where if you want you can ignore the “game” entirely, and do your own thing. In other words, i felt the quoted text was actually TWO points.

      Maybe i misread it…

  9. TotalBiscuit says:

    Online denizens these days have a nasty tendency to be hardcore fans, defenders and white-knights of certain products. They want to hear only good things about their chosen media idol. If they don’t get that, they will migrate elsewhere, since there’s plenty of competition to be had. That alone is one reason for appeasement and glossing over certain issues. The opposite is also true and integrity thankfully still matters to some but the ability to critically think about media in general seems to be rapidly eroding amongst the internet population. I am not suggesting that this is the sole reason for unreasonably positive reviews, I am suggesting that along with under-the-table deals with publishers and various other factors, that appeasement for the sake of advertising dollars and traffic may contribute.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Also, online people tend to thing anything below a 9.0 is a bad score.

      I fucking hate the internet sometimes.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Walker gave the void 7/10 and that review was far more exciting to me.

      Pro-tip: Read the words, form an opinion. Or yunno, worry about the numbers, whatever.

    • BigJonno says:

      The numbers aren’t as important as the words, but when the words and the numbers don’t match up, I feel it’s the sign of a poor review. If a review is consistantly positive and only mentions a couple of minor niggles, I’d expect a nine. If there was a seven stuck on the end, I’d wonder what flaws there were that the reviewer hadn’t mentioned.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I’m not sure why review scores haven’t completely died out yet. Kotaku and a few other places do pros and cons, which I am pretty sure works a lot better as a buying guide than an entirely subjective number out of another number.

    • Garg says:

      Thing is the numbers are important; huge numbers of people base their purchasing decisions on Metacritic. And, whether you like it or not, the number of sales is what gives developers their pay. Sure you can argue in an ideal world that there shouldn’t be these ultimately fairly arbitrary and falsely objective scores at the end of what is essentially an opinion piece, but actually it helps the consumer a hell of a lot more if they can make relatively reasoned buying decisions without having to read tens of thousands of words from different reviews.

    • Psychopomp says:

      In theory, you’re correct.

      In practice, http://g4tv.com/videos/36553/sesslers-soapbox-killzone-mailbag/

    • Psychopomp says:

      *1:10 in

    • James G says:

      To be honest, when I first got my DS I popped onto metacritic to make a list of the ‘top’ 20 games, and to check out the overall reaction to ones which I had heard about which appealed. (Particularly ports, where the metacritic score was an excellent way of weeding out the shoddy ports.)

      Of course I didn’t leave things here, but it was a good starting point for an unfamiliar system, and pinpointed which games were worth looking into in more detail.

    • Flobulon says:

      Yeah, that’s a perfectly legitimate use of Metacritic IMO – I know I did a similar thing when I first got into PC Gaming; while I didn’t buy any games based on their Metacritic score, it did help me decide which ones to look at in more detail.

  10. Heliocentric says:

    You’ve sold me on the game, now to wait for the price to level out.

  11. Psychopomp says:

    I didn’t find the Eurogamer review to be all that negative. For just about every slight he had against the game, he had something positive to say. He seemed to love the combat mechanics, but felt that the story, world, and characters were poorly done.

    Also, as for the nitpicking over the score, can we phase out score some time soon, please?

    Walker’s Review!

    I’d have to agree with you, though I’ve not played past an origin story yet. I…acquired a copy early, since I was tired of waiting for my steam pre-order to unlock, and I’m waiting until I can download the stuff that comes with a new copy to continue on. What little I’ve seen hints at a very well done world, and some mediocre writing aside, the major character’s I’ve met so far seem pretty well fleshed out.

    My only real niggle so far is how shoddily optimized it seems to be. It’s not normally an issue, the game is playable, but when it cuts away to a cutscene proper OOPS THERE GOES MY FRAMERATE! It makes it really hard to enjoy them, and is really driving me nuts.

  12. Gundrea says:

    I’d put down differences in the reviews to differences in the reviewers. John seemed enthralled by the vast array of text while Oli found it tedious and unnecessary. John bemoaned the difficulty settings problem greatly, Oli deemed it only worth a paragraph of mention.

    Reviews always end up being about personal tastes and I think that’s a good system. By the end of a review I am thinking “Do I agree with this reviewer? Do my own preferences align with theirs? Do I think they’re suffering from attenrtion deficit disorder or pansy spoonfeeding syndrome?”. Of course the reviewer should still strive to be unbiased, they should present features they couldn’t stand but know are good and quirks that while charming would undoubtedly annoy many people.

  13. pkt-zer0 says:

    Still not convinced, considering Bioware’s track record of mediocrity and further descent in recent years, and the surprisingly counterproductive marketing campaign of DA:O.

  14. BigJonno says:

    Glad to see this make it online, I’ve been wanting to read definitive RPS wordiness on DA for a while.

    I thought the Eurogamer review was a mess. For starters, whenever I read something on EG that makes me think “was this guy even playing the same game?” I glance up at the byline and nine times out of ten it’ll be Oli Welsh’s name up there. Our opinions just don’t mesh, which makes his reviews much less useful than John’s, for example.

    What really got me was this “But they’re so laden with interminable exposition and storytelling artifice for its own sake that the game itself – the small matter of levelling and combat – barely gets a look-in.” Even without the inclination to take Oli’s reviews with a pinch of salt, the attitude that levelling and combat are the main components of a role-playing game is enough for me to completely disregard the whole thing.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      You and me both BigJonno. Actually most of their RPG reviews end up at odds with my opinions. Perfect scores for Fable 2, Oblivion and Fallout 3 but underperforming (IMO) reviews for The Witcher, Mass Effect and Risen (Not to mention their classic Planescape review which rather missed the point by complaining you couldn’t die) just don’t tally with my views. Not that that bothers me, they like what they like and for the most part I’ve read enough of their stuff (And for that matter RPS’s) to figure out whether I’d like something after reading their review even they didn’t (A well developed internal review barometer if you will).

      One of the reasons I can’t stand Edge. If I don’t know who wrote a review it’s worthless to me.

    • BigJonno says:

      Yep, I have the same thing with Edge. I trust certain sources more than others because, after years of reading, I know how their tastes match up to mine. You can’t do that if you don’t know who wrote it!

      I’ve never got the 10/10 for Fable 2 either. I’m one of the biggest Fable apologists going and I loved both games, but 10/10? Nah. The only game I’ve played in the last few years that I’d give a 10/10 would be The Witcher and I only played that a couple of weeks ago.

    • bill says:

      I started trusting edge when they gave jedi outcast 5/10 and said it was totally average.

      Every other publication was giving it 9s or 10s for some strange reason.

  15. Schadenfreude says:

    Got a hold of it through some dark and murky channels as I was too impatient to wait for my copy to arrive and Game have already debited my card for it.

    Dwarves are bastards.

    Complete and total arseholes.

    That is all.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Yes, they are.

      I can’t we to see how this all comes to a head later in the game.

  16. GRIMDARK says:

    LOL @ The Jerk reference in the review.

    Nobody wanted to tell John’s character that his real father was the stableboy.

    • John Walker says:

      Kudos for that line must go to PCG’s prod ed Tony Ellis, who made the observation when I was telling him about that particular facepalm.

  17. Lilliput King says:

    !

    Come on Keiron, that wasn’t what I wrote.

    I didn’t even bring up Walker.

    Though now we’re there… I’ve been reading his reviews for coming on 8 years. I love them, but I have noticed that if he does particularly like a game, the flaws aren’t always dwelled upon. However, I /don’t/ consider this a bad thing for someone reviewing an /art form/ to do.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Lilliput: You said that the more positive reviews were either because they couldn’t think objectively about the game or they were compromised (i.e. Corrupt). John’s review is positive, therefore one of the two must apply to him. So he’s either incapable of objective thought or a sell-out.

      I know you didn’t mean it quite as hard as that, but that’s what you said.

      KG

    • DK says:

      “Lilliput: You said that the more positive reviews were either because they couldn’t think objectively about the game or they were compromised (i.e. Corrupt). John’s review is positive, therefore one of the two must apply to him. So he’s either incapable of objective thought or a sell-out.”
      The former.
      It was perfectly clear that Dragon Age would get top scores the moment EA started their marketing, revealing that they had a ridiculous PR budget. Cue unanimous praise by the games “press”.

    • TCM says:

      DK: I’m not exactly sure how to respond to this level of stupidity.

    • Psychopomp says:

      What is on DK’s head:

      [ ] Fancy hat

      [ ] Silly hat

      [x] Tinfoil hat

    • Flobulon says:

      /thread

    • DK says:

      Valve: “Left 4 Dead has the biggest marketing budget we’ve ever had” – cue unanimous praise.
      Valve: “Left 4 Dead 2 has an even bigger marketing budget” – cue behind-kissing the press, to the point of making fun of anyone who dares speak against it with strawmen attacks.
      et cetera ad infinitum

  18. Seniath says:

    I’ve yet to read either John’s review or the EG one (I’ve already got the game pre-loaded from Steam, so there’s little point), however could the difference in opinion not be down to the differing formats? I’d wager that the EG reviewers was playing it on the 360/PS3 with a console-player’s mindset, whilst John was (I hope!) playing it on our humble computer box. And we all know which of these two formats/mindsets a Baldur’s Gate-alike would appeal to more…

    • Lilliput King says:

      From the first paragraph of the EG review:

      “This is a review of the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins. We’ll tackle the console version separately soon.”

    • AndrewC says:

      The EG review specifically states both on the main page and in the first line of the review that it is the PC version being reviewed. I think there’s been some consolisation of your observation skills.

    • Seniath says:

      “I think there’s been some consolisation of your observation skills.”

      I fear there’s been some consolisation of your reading skills; “I’ve yet to read either John’s review or the EG one”

      But I stand corrected.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      On the subject of 360 vs PC, the Destructoid reviewer seems to have mostly been playing the 360 version and says that from what he played of it on PC, that version looks like the superior choice and Bioware shouldn’t have bothered with the console versions.

  19. The Sombrero Kid says:

    at most, i reckon the magazines tell the developer what the review score is likely to be before it gets reviewed and the developer decides whether or not they get an early print based on how much they liked it i sincearly doubt games journalists would care about pissing of a developer who makes shit games.

  20. Kua says:

    If something doesn’t meet expectations it tends to get slated. It doesn’t neccesarily mean its bad. Not that that’s the right way to go about things. Better to judge a game (or anything for that matter) in a vacuum, ignorant of the hype.

    I’m pretending to know what I’m talking about.

  21. Azazel says:

    Eurogamer gave it 8/10. John gave it about 9. That’s a one point discrepancy. And both scores are good.

    What EXACTLY are people complaining about? Rhetorical question.

  22. teo says:

    The review more or less sold me on the game but I don’t like the layout with all the pictures on one page and the text on the other. I’m not averse to change but that layout is just hard on the eyes

  23. Lanster27 says:

    Bioware’s best I would say.

    • phil says:

      Does it have John Cleese armed with a blunderbuss in it? If not please reconsider your comment.

  24. The Sombrero Kid says:

    yep the difference in reviews is a generational difference, oli welsh, as far as i can tell, despite being a pc gamer type is from a console gaming generation, also and far more important is on this site you get to find out about john, you find out about his biases & preferences, this knowledge of the reviewer helps him communicate in his reviews oli welsh couldn’t hope for that level of relevance when his only output on eurogamer is once a month or so and about something so specific as trying to justify an arbitrary number at the end.

  25. Premium User Badge James G says:

    I’m jealous of those who already have the game. Hope Amazon doesn’t do anything silly with my order.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      those people would mostly be pirates, yep bioware completely fails to grasp the concept of extra value for people who bought it yet again, e.g. mass effect dlc, i hope they finally figure it out, but i’m not holding my breath.

    • Psychopomp says:

      TF2 gets pirated.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      mash potato gets stolen.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Are you being facetious, or did you actually fail to grasp my point?

    • Bhazor says:

      Reply to The Sombrero Kid

      What? Dragon Age preorders come with a discount and bonus items.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      @Psychopomp i was being facetious, given that i didn’t mention tf2, my comment has just as much relevance as yours.

      @Bhazor i agree the announced dlc for dragon age excites me, i haven’t played it yet though, and so can’t comment on that, but the fact that Americans and subsequently all pirates get it over a week before paying customers is a gross oversight, I should clarify that I actually liked the first dlc for mass effect, but I refused to pay £8 for the second pack, given by all accounts it was lower quality & shorter than the free one, although i haven’t played it myself so can’t know for sure.

  26. merc says:

    Oh yeah, Eurogamer gave Planescape: Torment 8/10 too. So, as good as torment, then, hey Eurogamer?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Merc: 7 before it was patched.

      KG

    • Psychopomp says:

      You’re focusing on the number.

      Stop that.

      The number is a guideline, and nothing more. One game that was given and 8, and another game that were given an 8 were given those 8′s for different reasons. The number does not tell you these reasons.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Who was/is Gestalt by the way? Is he still writing? After his 4/10 Mafia review and his “I don’t like the way you can’t die in Planescape” review I have this morbid fascination to read more of his stuff. Is he still writing for EG with his real name? Has he moved on somewhere else? Did he run off and join the Moonies?

    • bill says:

      They gave The Void a 7 as well…..

      ;-)

  27. Dean says:

    If Walker was bribed, I’d love to know what it costs for “best RPG of the decade”. Thing is while magazines undoubtably offer minimum scores for exclusives deals, if the game turns out bad, they give it that minimum score and no higher. Not “RPG of the decade”.

    Interesting about the writing though. Still Walker liked TLJ and so did I, so I’m guessing I’ll like the DA writing.

  28. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Neut:

    “If he thinks Bethesda’s RPGs got emotional involvement and meaningful choices and consequences right then I know we’re on completely different wavelengths and can safetly say that I won’t have the same opinion of a game as him.

    That’s not what I got from Oli’s words. I don’t think he was making a positive stance towards Bethesda’s take on emotion or meaningful choices, but rather how, for the most part, Biowarian choice and consequence tradition tends to be more suffocating in size than in scope than those of Fallout 3 or Oblivion. In that regard, I believe he thinks Dragon Age offers so many pointless choices and sprinkles them with a handful of meaningful ones, that it’s hard to give a damn about them the same way you’d focus on Fallout 3′s choice pallette, for instance, which are fewer but perhaps with a more distinct impact.

  29. scoopsy says:

    Does this feature a morality slider ala every thing else BioWareh has done? I am soo burnt out on games assigning a binary “good” or “bad” weight to each decision, and the gameplay changes that entails.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Nope. Each companion character has a slider showing how much they like/dislike you but nothing along the lines of “You are 23% bad”.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      I really hated that. “Ooh, I just need to do 10% worth of bad stuff and then I will be officially Evil.” How does that help the player or the game?

  30. hausplant says:

    It seems “difficulty” has become a big issue these days.

    i havent played DA yet so i cant say anything about it, but in recent game reviews (risen ,void etc) difficulty levels are criticized and scores are lowered…

    it’s either the developers are failing hard in game balancing or gamers have grown a sweet tooth for instant gratification.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I’d say it’s the latter more often than not.

      Most of the games that are considered “hard” these days, aren’t actually all that hard. They simply aren’t easy.

    • John Walker says:

      It’s not about the game being “too difficult”. It’s about the game failing to provide what it states it provides. DA:O says that the Easy mode can be played in real-time which it often cannot, and worse there are sections that are stupendously hard even on Easy – that’s a failing in design, not a failing in the competence of the reviewer. (And I stress again, I *wanted* it to be tough, and I didn’t want to play it in real-time – however, when it advertises it can be it must be observed that it could not.) Hopefully this will be patched pretty quickly, although then everyone will compare their experience to my review and think me incapable!

      With The Void, I made the point that the game being so incredibly hard would likely appeal to many, but explained why it spoiled my experience.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Didn’t mean that as a slight against you, John. Your complaint was correct, I was more talking about people who simply complain that a game is hard.

      Hell, Gamespot’s review of TF2 knocked it points because “the strategy can be daunting.”

    • TeeJay says:

      “that’s a failing in design, not a failing in the competence of the reviewer”

      Maybe it’s just a ‘failure in advertising’?

  31. Rei Onryou says:

    For those interested in the score and think the reviews TLDR, download the PC Gamer podcast and listen to Walker’s wordythinks about Dragon Age. You can hear in his voice just how much he enjoyed the game, but at the same time, he talks about the things that he didn’t like.

    There is no corruption or loss of objectivity. Just a man doing his job and having fun while doing it.

    Remember, it’s the review that matters, not the score at the end.

  32. Orange says:

    Gestalt was an entertaining writer, he just hated most games and was very jaded in the end. Also gave Freescape 2 an 8 or something.

    The EG RPG reviews just haven’t meshed with my views at all, the Mount and Blade review in particular had me actively fuming at it.

  33. A concerned citizen. says:

    How’s the setting in this game? Is it like Mass Effect’s “We pretend we’re a totally unique universe but we rip off KoTOR anyway” because I’d be pissed if all this Dark Fantasy crap just turned out just to be a ripoff of the Witcher but with less tits and more blood and an army of evil orcsdarkspawn and their foul unwashed taints instead of I don’t know? Evil human people and supernatural horrors?

    I heard you can be a gay guy. That’s sounds like a huge step up from awkwardly done sex with a teenage alien. (Why is sci-fi always about having sex with space elves???)

    YOU LITTLE BLUE JEZEBEL! WREX WAS THIS CLOSE TO A PIECE OF ASS AND NOW WREX IS GONNA KILL HIM A HO.

    PS: Please stop pumping the water from the ocean. I needed to take a shower but you took all my water so I had to fill a super-soaker with bottles water and shower with that.

    • John Walker says:

      Um, you know there’s a link to a big review describing all this stuff in the post?

    • Klaus says:

      But Liara is 1″0″6!!

    • bill says:

      It’s mostly based on Song of Ice and Fire. A gritty and violent fantasy book series that’s VERY loosely based on the War of the Roses (supposedly). Good books.
      It also seems to take a huge number of names and elements from the Wheel of Time series… a book series that started strong, and then went nowhere very slowly.

  34. Kenny says:

    Hmm… 9 possible party members, and I can only take 3 of them with me…. *sigh*

    That’s something which I’ve always hated about party based RPGs; forcing you to take only a limited number of people availible to you without any credible explanation as to why you’re so limited.

    And honestly seeing as practically every RPG has a ‘only you and your band of heroes can save the world from great evil’ storyline it makes even less logical sense that your character decided to take only a few people with him/her and left the rest in the tavern to work on their bar tab.

  35. Michael Bay says:

    I would totally cast a 16 year old space jezebelf.

  36. Liquidize105 says:

    I don’t trust the score. Not that I “question the creditability of our reviewer gent” but that I question the allegiances of most all reviewers, with a few exceptions (a short list that is frankly severely out of date, pardon me I used to be in the swing of things.). In so far as to say “who is this review intended to convince,” I don’t think it’s aimed at myself. I’m compelled to agree with the line of thought that says there should definitely be two scores – one for the mainstream, and one for the niche. To quote a comment from the Risen review on Eurogamer: “I suspect that under such a scheme, Risen’s niche/mainstream score might be more like 9/5 whereas Oblivion’s scores might be the other way around.”

    I’m a very partial commentator. I wish for there to be more “Deus Exes” and “System Shock 2s” even though it’ll be to the detriment of the industry’s bottomline. Lock me up. I’ll have to try DragonAge once I settle into my cell.

    Hey Kieron, how’s it been?

    J

    • Jeremy says:

      2 scores would only make the pretentious “niche” gamers all the more unbearable though. We shall not pander to them. Never.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Hey, that was me! Actually I’ve since retracted that opinion :D

      I think that the text of the review is the best place to discuss how different players might view the game (based on age, niche / genre preference, whatever else). Multiple scores tends to make things difficult, so it’s probably best for each site to just provide one score, whether that’s an attempt at objectivity or a predicted sales indicator or whatever that site’s policy requires.

    • Jeremy says:

      I agree, because in the end, how would a person be able to determine how a niche gamer would even react to a specific game? My opinion might be that a niche gamer would love Game X, but be completely wrong and full of it. So, in the end, it could only my place to determine how I myself love Game X, and explain why to the best of my ability.

  37. robrob says:

    dragons with swords sound dangerous.

  38. Helm says:

    I’m gonna wait until RPS does a Wot I Think on this to discuss how the tactics system stumbles all over itself, because it seems this comment thread is about reviewing. I don’t find the game too hard ( I *am* playing on Hard) in itself, but I find it misrepresents its tactical aspect with numerous system failings.

    Up to level 7 or so where I am the storyline and characters are not engaging me. I don’t know if I’ll finish this, I’ll give it the half a dozen hours or maybe a bit more that John Walker suggested and see. But the combat is trying to do a few different things at the same time and failing at most of them.

    For a game where ‘tactics’ are apparently emphasized if you play on anything other than Easy, it should be then that tactics systems should be discussed at a longer length that John Walker did in the above review.

    • Psychopomp says:

      The tactics system is basically a carbon copy of FFXII’s gambits, so I’m going off my FFXII experience here…

      Do not try to rely on them. They are an anti-babysitting device, but if you don’t get your hands dirty you will die. A lot.

    • Helm says:

      Yes exactly this is why I have the AI turned off, but then *other* problems with tactical combat pop out. This is what I’ll be explaining, when we get to a Wot I Think, and if I’ve played this game long enough to be sure of my position.

  39. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I think a double score would onlu bring twice the trouble. Rabble rousers will always complain whenever they disagree with the score and 2 scores wouldn’t prevent either side from criticizing the other’s score. Plus, if the mainstream review score already ellicits such virtual flogging, how do you suppose the niche would react to a score not to their tastes? And how such a method be understood by the readership, though – trust that it would all be good and suffice? Suspicion that it may be a failsafe option from the reviewer?

  40. Acosta says:

    Oh, a review /score discussion, joy, joy!

    • Alexander Norris says:

      People discussing a very important aspect of entertainment journalism on a blog post about some games journalist’s game review published in a games magazine?

      That is entirely not predictable. ;)

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      Joyless jobs are often the ones that need to be done the most :P

    • Psychopomp says:

      Exception:Telemarketing

      NEVER
      AGAIN

    • phil says:

      From a summer job experience a while ago, telemarketing is fine providing you can drink spirits and read mind twisting novels (the Naked Lunch works well) in between calls.

  41. Anthony says:

    Am I the only one happy not to be beta-testing a game for a change?

    I think the discontent plumbs deeper depths than initially considered. People want to see soul in the things they buy – why do you think a company like Alfa Romeo still exists, considering how fucking awful they were at actually building cars for most of their history? (Although, granted, they are a lot better now)

    Same thing goes for games. People absolutely adore STALKER. I did, and still do. But in virgin form, straight-from-the-shop on release day, it was a terrible game. Buggy, inconsistent and pretty much impossible to play through. Yet it did contain that indefinable aspect of real heart and soul, so we perservered and eventually it got sorted out. Vampire Bloodlines is another good example of this, though unfortunately Troika never got the chance to fix it how I’d like.

    We want that soul. It makes something that would otherwise be a collection of electronic impulses mean something to us. It’s a powerful desire.

    Bioware is unusual in that they make highly polished titles, but are often seen as being all too cold and unfeeling in presentation. That’s a reasonable complaint, but it totally disregards the fact that you’re likely still going to enjoy playing the things, and the first time through at that.

    Sometimes I want that German-like efficiency. Sometimes I really want to be impressed with how mechanics and presentation mesh. I can deal with not caring so much about not shagging the other chick that wasn’t blue because it’s still a good game at the end of the day. Judging a title because it’s giving you a BMW when you wanted and Alfa looks all too much like the cake and wanting to eat it too.

    /rant

  42. Walruss says:

    Ripped from a Song of Ice and Fire? How about every epic fantasy ever written:P

    • bill says:

      maybe ;-)
      but they did acknowledge that SoIaF was their main influence, and many things sound almost word-for-word the same. I wonder if the Grey Wardens have a big wall?

  43. Turin Turambar says:

    RE: the EG review

    I am not sure if i like the review. There is a feeling reading it that he didn’t like the game as much as others… but just because he like other types of rpg games and not specially this.

    Things like how he mentions exposition and storytelling as “too much” and “interminable” and for its own sake instead of, quoting, “the game itself – the small matter of levelling and combat-”. As if the “true game” has to be or should be combat and levelling, and not storytelling and world building.
    Or he also mentions Oblivion, multiple times, and very positively, something out of place in a review of another game, and more when this is another type of rpg. In fact he complains how he doesn’t have ultimate freedom, which is not the point of this type of game. Not every game has to be like Oblivion…
    Another one, he complains about the difficulty and combat, saying “be prepared to pause and micro-manage frequently” as it’s something bad. That’s how the combat works here! pausable realtime. It’s realtime, but it’s supposed to work more like a turn based game, where you have to decide and micromanage every action, it’s just you who decide when there is a pause to change the orders and give more actions, instead of being an arbitrary, regular system in a traditional turn based system.

    And i am not even a big fan of Baldur’s Gate type of games, but i don’t like when reviewers doesn’t seem to like the style of the game, and he criticizes it because he would like to be more like his other favorite style of games.

  44. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    “instead of being an arbitrary, regular system in a traditional turn based system”

    Turn-based isn’t arbitrary or at least, not in the context you seem to be coming from. Time units are measured by rules such as initiative or speed, and the pauses in the flow of combat are somewhat orchestrated to focus on those elements.

    Pausing in realtime is a lot more abitrary since it depends on when you think it’s ideal to pause.

  45. Turin Turambar says:

    Substitute arbitrary with… artificial?

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      Perhaps, but no more artificial than any other game rule or mechanism :P

    • BigJonno says:

      Turn-based RPG systems are possibly the most artificial game mechanics in existance. They’re simulations of simulations of reality. I’ve always found the belief that RPG=stats/levels/dice/etc somewhat perverse, considering that automating that kind of thing is possibly the simplest and most obvious improvement to role-playing games that computers can bring to the table.

      And yes, that pun was intended.

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      “Turn-based RPG systems are possibly the most artificial game mechanics in existance. They’re simulations of simulations of reality.”

      So are automated reactions that can be given to characters in combat and freezing an entire gameworld to our whim, Bioware’s combat model a prime example. Your point?

    • BigJonno says:

      You stated that turn-based systems are no more artificial than any other game mechanic. My point is that they’re more artificial because, especially when talking about RPGs with a pen ‘n’ paper heritage, they’re simulations of simulations of reality. Most games are attempting to simulate reality (or some kind of fantasy world) directly. Compare Madden to Blood Bowl. The former is a simulation of American football. The latter is a simulation of a board game that simulates a fantasy version of American football. I’d say that makes it more artificial.

      Of course in the case of Blood Bowl, I’d say that’s the whole point. In fact, I’ve been wanting games to either go one way or the other since I first played Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat on the Playstation as a kid. If you’ve got a tabletop game licence, either make an exact copy of the game rules, turns and all, or dispense with them completely. Don’t half-arse it and make a real-time game that is ostensibly the same genre as the original game, but doesn’t play like it at all.

  46. Walsh says:

    Comparing reviews is stupid and futile.

    Everyone should find reviewers who has similar gaming tastes to theirs (for me its the fine men at RPS, but I ignore most, not all, of the indie crap) and just stick with them. The world will be a happier place with less angry internet men.

    It sounds like John Walker liked reading all of the background flavor, which I love to do in games, and the Eurogamer guy didn’t because apparently he thought it was generic.

  47. jsutcliffe says:

    I get the impression from a number of reviews that I’ve read that the difficulty spikes almost break the game, or at least prevent it from being fun later on. Does it sound reasonable to expect that to be corrected in a patch? I’m trying to decide whether to wait a while before picking up Dragon Age.

    • John Walker says:

      Yes, I strongly suspect this will be fixed in a patch. Also, and importantly, while it DOES get too hard, there’s nothing you can’t get past by switching down to Easy/Casual. One particular encounter was super-tough even then, but I got past it. That part definitely wasn’t any fun at all. But it otherwise was.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      this was common in biowares early games and i suspect it might be deliberate, as a lot of people remember the moments they won those fight fondly, i know i do, the end boss in baldurs gate was a total bitch, and the guy you stole your ship off of in kotor was hard as nails too, at least for me.

      personally i liked it.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      On Bioware and uneven difficulty:

      I do remember being stuck in a room full of mindflayers in one of the BG games, and having to summon about a hundred Drizzts to get me out of there…

      … can we summon Drizzt here too? That would be awesome. Bioware should have inserted a Drizzt cheat into all their games, not just Forgotten Realms ones. “Quick Drizzt — kill the Geth!” ^^

  48. Hug_dealer says:

    picking this up after work today, cant wait.

    I guess i am most excited about everyone talking about the difficulty. I am a firm believer in overcoming the challenge is more fun than being handed a victory. If it takes me 20 reloads to beat a boss, then i think they did something right.

  49. Azazel says:

    I do remember BG/BG2 being like that in some places. After you’d played through it about a dozen times there ended up being very few fights that were actually a REAL challenge. There was always some tactic that could cripple a particular group of enemies.

    The Beholder dungeon could be tough… until you discovered that all the beholders in the universe do not equal one cloak of mirroring.

    Etc.

    • sfury says:

      aah the good ol’ cloak of mirroring … good times indeed! :)

  50. Gundrea says:

    @Hug_dealer
    I’m of a similar mind. These reviews complaining of savage difficulty spikes only enthuse me for the game. I’m reminded of Kangaxx in BG2. Oh sure you beat some liches to get to him and then you break him down in what seems like another standard liche fight. Then HELLO UNPREVENTABLE BANISHMENT WHICH REMOVES THE TARGET FROM YOUR PARTY. And as if it wasn’t enough he could quickcast it while launching a meteor storm.

    And then there was Demogorgon.