Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Assassin's Den Reviews: Dragon Age Inquisition

Welcome back, my beautiful freaks, to the Assassin's Den!  Today, I finally get to review the latest game in the Dragon Age series,

Now, since I'm not considered a journalist by game companies, I didn't get an early copy of the game, nor did I have the money to get the game until the first of the year, so I know this is late compared to others out there.  Regardless, I want to give my thoughts on this.

Now, unlike many of you out there, I wasn't following this game during development, because I had lost a LOT of faith in Bioware after the founders retired.  After all, look at what EA did to Origin Systems after Richard Garriott left.  But when I saw gameplay and story footage by let's players on youtube, I was like "Wow, this wasn't as bad as I thought it would be."  So, instead of spending my money on cartel coins in SWTOR, the last game I said I was ever going to put money into, I decided to break down and pick up a new Bioware game.  And let me tell you, I don't regret it.

Now, unlike most of my reviews, I'm not going to go into story points.  This game is still VERY new in a lot of people's eyes, and I don't want to ruin it for people.  But I will say that this feels like a Bioware story, and not chopped up like Ultima 8 and 9's stories were.  In fact, the game was delayed, which, when it comes to a game like this, is a VERY good sign; the developers needed more time to polish their game.

Now, I'm playing the Xbox 360 version, and it looks great.  Yes, it still has problem where it doesn't always load textures right away, especially on Cullen.  More than once, I went to visit him at Skyhold, and when the cutscene loaded, his face and armor textures didn't load in right away.  But it controls very well; never once did I feel things were unresponsive.

That said, the 360 version is kind of buggy; particularly when it comes to sound.  More than once, dialogue tripped upon itself, and several times sound effects didn't go off right away.  And I actually had to reboot my console once in order to get the sound back once.  And there's a bug in the Josephine Romance that, if you choose to a have Leliana get her secrets thing before the duel, you are essentially locked out of the duel, though from what I've heard, that's a bug common across all platforms.

The game could have used some more polish, but honestly, if it hadn't released when it had, there would be no 360 and PS3 version; they would have been dropped when the consoles died out completely.  So I'm willing accept some bugs if it means I'm able to play the game on a platform I prefer to use, rather than not being able to play it due to a lack of funds for a new computer (I have a laptop, so no real upgrades) or for a PS4.

The game looks beautiful.  This game is the one that got me to break down and actually hook the console up via HDMI cable.  It requires it if you want to read any text, because it is so blurry if you use composite cables.  But since very few are still using CRT televisions, I doubt that's any problem.  All that means is that I'm going to need to get an HDMI splitter when I get a PS4, like I did for my composite cable consoles.

I do have a few complaints, though.  The utter lack of save game transfer bugs me.  Don't get me wrong, the Keep functionality works just fine.  But I would rather not have to go through the effort of disconnecting my computer from the internet, connecting my console, rebooting my cable modem, and then connecting my console to Xbox live JUST to shore up my continuity.  But I do understand why they got rid of that function; DA2 had problems with properly loading the flagging of stuff from DAO and its expansions and DLC packs.

But I don't hate the Dragon Age Keep.  I love it, because it gives me a chance to do things that I don't normally do in game, like giving Fenris back to his master, or killing Leliana and Wynne.  I get the chance to see the outcome of choices that I wouldn't have made in the games. So if I get to see how different choices that I wouldn't have made during gameplay will affect the continuity of the world, I'm all for it.

And that's not even considering that you may not be playing the game on the same platform that you played the previous game.

It also bugs me that you don't get a manual with the game.  I know I'm in the minority with this, but I like having a manual explain things for me, rather than in game tutorials.  I'd rather not break the immersion I get from the game with tutorials.

Speaking of tutorials, I can not find a way to turn them off.  They get annoying on a second, third, fourth, etc...playthrough.  I know how dialogue works. I know how combat works. I know how to move the camera, level up my character, switch companions, and I don't need to be reminded of it again.

But these are minor complaints, and I am actually forward to upcoming DLC and future games.  That's something I hadn't thought I would say when Bioware's founders retired.

And before anyone asks, yes, I will eventually do a retrospective on Dragon Age, once the final DLC has been released and I've gotten my hands on the books.  For now, though, enjoy your game, and stay beautiful freaks!