Entries in bioware (14)


Mass Effect 3 review - A bittersweet goodbye

Note: No specific story beats are spoiled in this review, but it centers heavily around the general tone and nature of the ending. If such things are a concern, turn away now.

I stared blankly at the screen. The names scrolled slowly past, each one mocking my stunned visage in the darkness. My mind reached for words, silent when it knew it should be racing. I felt the controller slip slowly out of my hand.


Music rang lifelessly in my ears, little more than a distant murmur. Soon all was silent. I sat still for a few minutes more, waiting for it all to make sense. 

“This is it, isn’t it?” Liara had said only hours ago. 

The beautiful blue-skinned alien had stared sadly into my Sheperd’s eyes, her tone a mixture of lingering disbelief and the burden of dawning acceptance. The words bubbled to the surface of my disquietingly calm mind, an apt metaphor for my own feelings. 

Even now I still can’t quite grasp the truth. I feel there is a piece missing, as if some part of the experience simply escaped my memory and flew away. The last thing I had been led to believe I would feel at the end of this journey was incomplete. I can’t help but feel a little deceived.

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Dragon Age II Review - A heartbreaking misfire

There is no worse feeling a game can induce upon a poor, unsuspecting player than that of disappointment. Dragon Age II is guilty of this worst of gaming sins. It steps forward into the spotlight with a confident stride only to reveal hours later the moldy, rotting core lying within. Terrible games are easy to dismiss. Great games are easy to recommend. Those like Dragon Age II prove difficult, offering glimmers of hope bright enough to make me truly mourn the loss of what could have been. 

Dragon Age II is proof that even the best writer can have an off day.

Anyone coming into this game because of Bioware’s illustrious pedigree will find it curiously below par. Some of its shortcomings can be written off as bold attempts to do something different than the studio’s norm. They may not have worked, but perhaps they can at least be excused in the name of attempting the unexpected. Far less justifiable are those failures that come where this group of talented developers should be strongest; those that let its audience down precisely where it is expected to be at its best. 

To begin, let us examine the setting. A more generous mind could perhaps label Kirkwall as “intimate”. I think “small” is more accurate.

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Daily Contemplation: Dragon Age II on Macs on day one

The Mac version of Dragon Age II will be available right along with the PC version on the game's release date, March 8. Not only that, but it will come on a hybrid disc that includes both the PC and Mac versions.

This probably isn't news, but it's the first I've heard of it. I do wish more developers would do this. Blizzard in particular has long been good about supporting the forlorn Mac gamer, but few other studios have been. I realize those that play games on OS X are a small percentage of a PC game market that's not terrifically healthy to begin with these days, but Apple fans are a loyal bunch and certainly appreciate when they're thrown a juicy bone like this.

Plus, as Macs run on Intel processors these days, it's easier than ever to create a Mac version of a game. I'm sure it's still no cakewalk, but the OS X gaming situation is certainly better than it used to be. Apple is putting passable graphics cards in even lower end machines and, with the advent of Steam for Mac and other digital download services, it's easier than ever for Mac gamers to purchase games for their OS of choice.

Strangely, there's no sign of a Steam version of Dragon Age II for the Mac yet. This is especially disappointing as, in today's increasingly multiplatform, digital world, it's a pain to be forced to purchase separate versions of the same game just to use it on all of your capable devices. Steam's terrific service allows you to purchase a game and not only easily install it on any computer you own, but also gain access to either the PC or Mac versions of anything you buy. It's one of the most consumer-friendly places to purchase games, and it's sad that Dragon Age II won't be taking advantage of that on the Mac side, at least at first.

In any case, good on Bioware for throwing Mac users a bone. Hopefully they'll respond in kind and actually purchase the game so this kind of thing will continue to become more prevalent. 


Best of the Decade: Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2

Platforms: Xbox 360, Windows

Release Date: January 26, 2010

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Bioware

Mass Effect was a terrifically ambitious experiment. Mixing RPG elements with other genres of gameplay has become commonplace, but with this epic title, Bioware approached the gameplay from the other direction, choosing to mix an action game into an RPG. The end result was imperfect, but fascinating on a number of levels. 

It wasn’t until early this year when the potential for the series truly became apparent. Mass Effect introduced many of the concepts its sequel would polish into a fine sheen, but Mass Effect 2 sold me on why this series could be one of the most important and influential the industry has seen. 

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Uncharted 2: Loading Times and the Gaming Experience

It’s amazing how distracting a simple loading screen can be. It’s a little thing, but that seemingly unimportant static screen can rip your immersed brain right out of an amazing experience and back into the real world. It may only be for a brief moment, but it can be more than enough to break the flow of the story, to pull you out of the game, or to stifle your sense of immersion.

I’ve always found it amazing that more developers don’t try to get rid of the annoying little things. I remember back to the days when I first played games on the original PlayStation. I was so amazed by the technology of the whole “games coming off of CDs” thing that I thought loading screens were cool. They were a sign of advanced technology. No more outdated cartridges for me!

Well, those days are long gone. Times have changed, and fast. Loading screens are no longer interesting artifacts of technological progress. They are now signs that a developer couldn’t find a way to overcome the technological challenge of getting rid of them.

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