Reviews by Dark217
A Pleasant SurpriseDark217 | June 29, 2013 | Review of Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition (NA)
Although I had played many Bioware games in the past and had an idea of what to expect, Dragon Age: Origins was a (very pleasant) surprise. I was simply expecting a cliché fantasy rpg with the good writing and choice elements that most Bioware games possess. Instead, I found a rather intriguing (only partially cliché fantasy) world, surprisingly strategic/tactical combat that one typically does not find in an rpg, and a story that could differ so much depending both on your choices and your origin story.
As one may deduce from the title, origin stories play a major part in the game. It is quite amazing that the developers put so much time and resources into crafting 6 unique backstories/prologues that actually can impact the later story. Although it may not have a major impact on gameplay (unless you are a dwarf and thus cannot be a mage), the fact that your unique origin story can actually continue to impact the story beyond the prologue is amazing. Also, the story itself and the characters within it are expertly crafted (as to be expected from Bioware) and every player has the ability to make meaningful decisions with differing consequences with both the story and characters.
The gameplay as stated before was a pleasant surprise, offering tactical combat where placement and maneuver actually mattered and wasn't your typical rpg slog of spamming the attack button. Then again, the combat is still not for everyone, especially if you are a fan of classic rpg combat or desire something more action-packed. Nevertheless, I believe that the game is worth playing solely on the value of the story and the choices you can make throughout it.
One of the World's Greatest Strategy TitlesDark217 | June 14, 2013 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown (NA)
The successor to what many know as the greatest PC game of all time, 2K and Jake Solomon don't disappoint with an amazing strategy game that is full of depth and complexity beneath a layer of relative simplicity. Every decision you make has consequences that can be given more meaning by the Ironman mode that disable your ability to save (with the game auto saving after every action you make). This means there is no turning back, and when your soldiers die or an interceptor gets shot down, they are gone for good. Along with the action cameras, this all adds a level of intensity to the game that almost doesn't make it feel like it is turn based. Although some may be turned off by turn based games, the turn system works well in XCOM's favor as it makes sure that every action you make has meaning. The RPG elements with the leveling system and class system also add much more depth and variety to the game, especially with the squad based combat that allows for many varying combinations of classes to tackle the battlefield the way you want to.
XCOM can be devilishly hard, with even many of the developers having a hard time beating the so-called "Impossible" difficulty (which is very, very difficult). For lovers of strategy games or anyone that loves a good challenge, this game is not just a good buy, but a must buy. (Even Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame liked it, which gives it many bonus points as he almost never likes a game).
A Mix of the Good the Bad and the Ugly that still winsDark217 | June 13, 2013 | Review of Mass Effect 2 (NA)
A question that I will answer immediately is: Is Mass Effect 2 worth buying? The answer is a solid yes, especially at today's prices. For all the criticism that the game draws, I still believe that I is a great game, especially in the department that Bioware games are most well-known for: the story. Mass Effect 2 possibly has the best story of the trilogy, with its loyalty quests that give deeper character development for your party members to an end that can actually be effected to have quite different endings depending on how you prepare for it (unlike cough Mass Effect 3 cough). The gameplay is a love or hate deal. It is completely different from the first, and many hated how it attempted to evolve into an action shooter with for too little weapons and upgrades. However, the most important aspect of the game that makes Mass Effect what it is still remains. There is still a great story that is still affected by your decisions, and that is made even greater by the fact that you can carry over your character and decisions from the first game. All of these factors combine to polish away the flaws and make this game great.
The Start of an Epic TrilogyDark217 | June 13, 2013 | Review of Mass Effect (NA)
Right of the bat I have to say that the Mass Effect series has one the most engaging and involving stories that I have ever seen. Starting with game one you are presented with characters you will learn to love as you travel with them throughout the whole series, learning about them and interacting with them and growing closer to these well written people who actually feel like they have distinct personalities. Honestly, I feel that the game's main story is merely a side dish compared to the stories you will build with these characters that you will spend the next 90 or so hours with. It is not just the big story, but all the interesting little side stories woven into it as well. For whatever gripes I and many other people may have about the game and its gameplay, I wholly recommended you to play it at least once (and hopefully the rest of them as well) in order to experience possibly the most epic story to ever grace the medium. As a game, I find it to be quite decent, but I do feel that in Bioware games that all comes second to the great story and the long lasting player choices with consequences that their games are famous for.
A Worthy Successor To a Legendary FranchiseDark217 | June 13, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
When Morrowind and Oblivion came out, both games stunned the gaming world with their sheer amount of freedom and combat. However, both games still retained many flaws. Still, Bethesda appears to be quite good and learning from its mistakes and has streamlined the game experience to be absolutely amazing in Skyrim. Although some hardcore fans may grumble at the changes, I believe (and so do many others) that overhauling the clunky leveling system that forced you to play Oblivion with a spreadsheet if you didn't want your character to become useless was a very nice move indeed. Combat is much smoother, with sword and axe blows feeling more like they should, and arrows not having to "roll" to see if they hit even though you just went through all the work of aiming them. The new perk system is an amazing addition to the series that allows for more varied and unique character builds that allow you to feel tangibly more powerful in the skills you have been leveling, and the sheer number of (pretty good quality) quests and your freedom to do whatever you want makes this game rank a solid A in terms of sheer entertainment value. And when vanilla gets old, don't forget to take advantage of your PC and check out the amazing mods for Skyrim that can easily triple the hours of fun you can get out of this game.
One Can Almost Call it ArtDark217 | June 7, 2013 | Review of Spec Ops: The Line dns
Here is a game that is incredibly unique, a kind of game that is rarely found throughout the medium. As a game alone, it has rather uninspired and generic gameplay that is made up for by a great story. However, what makes the game great is not just the story. The story alone, as tasteful as it is, is not completely original or exceptional when taken as just a plotline. However, when taken in context in how the developers present the game, one can almost call it art in the ways that it is expressed. An even higher level of meaning can be found if you take some of the characters lines and treat them as if they were addressed to you (which according to the writer, sometimes they are). The game breaks the fourth wall at times that I believe is very effective at getting a message across The fact that there is a whole book (Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops the Line) that is simply an analysis of the game lends to it's incredibly unique form of expression as an almost satirical, self-aware shooter that plays on FPS tropes, war, PTSD, and why we play shooters in the first place.
A Highly Recommended Game for Both Lovers of Stealth and StoryDark217 | June 7, 2013 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an amazing game that is full of player choices, an intriguing and immersive story, and elements of stealth gameplay that emphasize patience and thinking over action-packed, mindless run-and-gunning. This is not the kind of game that one normally finds in the AAA video game market these days, which seem to primarily focus on making money by appealing to the large action crowd. Sure, this game is classified as a shooter, but once you play, especially on the higher difficulties, you will find that mindless Rambo-style gameplay will not serve you well. Instead, you have a game with an amazing story and gameplay that is full of choices from dialog options to how to customize your character. Generally, you can tackle the various problems in the game in a rather creative variety of manners. Do you want to break into a place with brute force with your military-grade augmentations? Or do you prefer to use your hacking upgrades to break your way through locked doors and take control of the building's security system, taking out the cameras and commanding the security turrets and robots to turn on their own forces? Or do you just sneak your way in through alternative means via air vents and utilizing the ability to fall great distances without dying and turning invisible? There are so many possibilities that they can fit almost any style of gameplay (although once again, an purely action orientated character can suffer on higher difficulties). My only main gripe with the game is when these choices are thrown out the window. Without getting into spoilers, I can tell you that boss battles are encounters were the amazing element of choice is thrown out the window in the name of combat. If you were planning on a playing as a pacifist with no blood on your hands (which is otherwise possible, another point for the game), you have no choice but to tackle bosses in full front on assault where both stealth, diplomacy, and hacking are not an option. This is a rather disappointing stain on what otherwise would have been an almost perfect game with it's amazing variety and deep story (which I will not talk about in the interest of spoilers). Nevertheless, this is still a small stain on an otherwise beautiful fabric, and this game is a must play for anyone with either a penchant for a good stealth game, or a good story, or just an amazing game in general.