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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Drakkhen: Boys Against Girls

Congratulations to Drakkhen on providing the weirdest monster I've ever encountered in a CRPG. Is this what you were all talking about in last posting's comments?

I want to thank Tomsk for cluing me in as to the uses of the "Shield" spell. I figured it just subtracted a few points from the armor class, but instead it makes the spellcaster essentially immune to physical attacks for its duration, which is usually longer than a single combat.

Dumaine takes on a couple of armored Drakkhen by himself.

This doesn't quite turn the two spellcasters who have "Shield" into unstoppable killing machines, because they simply can't damage some higher-level enemies with good armor (I'm not sure exactly why, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the strength score; casting "Strength" seems to help a little). They're also not immune to magical attacks like paralysis. But the ability did allow me to grind my priest and mage against random wilderness enemies and thus get them on par, level-wise, with the fighter and scout. (You can keep the fighter and scout out of the battle by assigning them to cast the "strength" spell and nothing else; when they run out of spell points, they just stand around.)

The priest and mage grind while the fighters stand around.

This partly goes to show that you can't ignore magic in this game. There are a lot of games that you can simply smash your way through, even if you have spellcasters in the party. But without "Paralysis," "Shield," "Dispel," "Antimagic," and a few others, I'm not sure Drakkhen would be survivable. Like The Dark Heart of Uukrul, this forces you to consider your characters as a team rather than a couple of fighters and their supporting pack mules.

From my last posting, you may recall that I had trouble with the Water Castle when I first entered, and I had to do a bunch of grinding before I could survive it, and the same thing happened with the Air Castle. The first few rooms weren't bad, and I encountered some excellent armor in one of the rooms. (For some reason, my mage can wear the cuirass and greaves but my priest can't.) But I kept running into this heavily-armored Drakkhen who cast paralysis spells and decimated my characters with physical attacks. My priest and mage couldn't damage him, and my fighter and scout didn't have the "Shield" protection, so they kept dying. Hence, I went back out into the ice fields to grind for a day--checking in with my characters between bouts of work and Reddit, and reloading every time something able to kill me. Eventually, I felt they were strong enough to take on the castle's denizens. By now, everyone was up to Level 9. I also had a ton of gold, but after some initial equipment purchases, gold in this game is only very useful for resurrections. Oh, and during this process, I managed to kill that flying centipede constellation thing, which was pretty cool.

(It occurs to me that if it weren't for all the waiting and grinding, this would be an extremely quick game. Despite what I said in my first posting, the game world is not all that large. There are four sections and only one or two full castles in each one. An invulnerable party could breeze through them in a couple of hours.)

I do wish the game would have named the creatures, because I otherwise don't know how to refer them. Some are nifty and weird by appearance, even if their attacks boil down to blunt force and, occasionally, a basic spell. Besides the paper-doll shimmying dancing girl at the top of the posting, here are some more interesting ones:

Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Some kind of harpy?

Heinrich?!



Okay, on to the plot. I had been directed to the Prince of Air by some notes saying he was about to be attacked by the Fire/Water axis after his sister betrayed him. When I got to his castle, it was destroyed:


One of his servants encouraged me to hurry on to the Princess of Air, who was planning to sacrifice the Princess of Earth and steal her "tear"--the eight tears turn out to be gems that the four princes and four princesses all wear.

The servant said that he'd give me a ring to help me find the castle--one of the only locations in the game not right off a main road. If he gave me anything, or it helped in any way, I never noticed it. I found it through a long process of wandering around the northern ice wastes for about 90 minutes. (Without a compass, it's very hard to keep a consistent heading and ensure that you've searched every area.) When I finally saw the structure in the distance, I felt a sense of joy incomparable to anything else in this game.

"It's...so...BEAUTIFUL!"

Like all the other castles, it had some beautifully-composed interiors, tough foes, and weapon and armor upgrades.


There was one area where a door locked behind me, and I couldn't figure out how to get out, so I had to restart. Amidst some catacombs, I found Princess Hordtkha (Earth), who told me that the "tears" referred to in the game manual and throughout the game are actually gems worn on the foreheads of each of the princes and princesses. She gave me her tear and told me I'd have to collect the eight others. She suggested I go next to the Princess of Water. I never did encounter the Princess of Air herself, despite this being her castle. The crazy old bearded guy was in the castle, but he didn't have anything interesting to say. (Incidentally, I have not found a single use for the "wave hello" or "impress" icons at the top of the panel; "question" gets me everything I need.)



I prepared for another bout of grinding, but it turned out the Princess of Water's castle actually wasn't so hard. Most of the creatures weren't hostile. There were a couple of unicorns that didn't seem to want anything to do with me. Part of me hopes that this is a puzzle that I just missed out on; you don't just drop unicorns into a game and give the player nothing to do with them.

I'd be offended, but everyone in the game says that when I wave at them.

The Princess of Water turned out to have divided with her brother. She was on our side. She claimed to lead something called the "Forces of the Ninth Tear," which was opposing the Prince of Fire's aggression. She told me that the Prince of Earth (the one that started me on this whole quest) was preparing to join with Fire, so I needed to go back to his castle and kill him for his tear, then return to her. She also gave me an awesome sword and armor. Anyway, it sounds like what was Fire & Water vs. Air & Earth is turning out to be more complicated. We've got the Princesses of Earth and Water (and, it later turns out, Fire) on the "good" side, along with the Prince of Air, and the other three princes plus the Princess of Air on the "bad" side.

Our initial conversation wasn't promising.

So, back to the Castle of Earth! That meant crossing that flashing dragon superhighway where none of my fancy weapons, armor, and spells did jack.

What IS this place?
But eventually I circumvented it and assailed Hordtkhen's (wouldn't you think the shark would be at the Castle of Water?). He hadn't upgraded his guards or anything, but he was nigh-impossible. The only weapon that would do any damage was the dragon sword that the Princess of Water had given me, and his attacks destroyed my armor. I settled on a pattern of using "Invisibility" and "Shield" to minimize attacks, while trading the dragon sword among my characters. The best outcome I could get after 10 or 12 tries was one character dead and a couple of pieces of armor (fortunately, not the really good stuff) destroyed.


With his tear, I went and raised Ferdinand (which, like yesterday, involved going to the weapon shop first, pooling my gold to Ferdinand, and then finding the temple), then headed back to the Princess of Water, who gave me her tear and told me to check out what was going on with the Princess of Fire, who hasn't been heard from in a while.


I leave you having arrived at the Princess of Fire's castle, which has a Taj Mahal theme going, and I suppose I'll go all the way to the end with the damned game at this point.


Now, from my readers, a little Christmas help. Irene likes plot-thick, dialogue heavy CRPGs that we can play on the console. I can read online reviews, of course, but they don't tell me most of the things that I really want to know, such as the extent of NPC dialogue and dialogue choices, and the presence of romances, both of which area big thing with her. I'm weighing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Dark Souls, and Dragon's Dogma, or just giving the Mass Effect series a try. Keeping Irene's preferences in mind, any opinions on these games?


77 comments:

  1. Kingdoms of Amalur isn't particularly dialogue heavy. There are dialogue trees but I don't think it makes much difference most of the time, apart from a few quests where you can alter the outcome.
    Dark Souls has barely any dialogue at all, from what I could see (I haven't played too much of it).
    No romances in either of those two (probably).
    No idea about Dragon's Dogma.
    So Mass Effect is probably your best option.

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    1. If you choose Mass Effect, then don't start with the first one. Jump ahead to Mass Effect 2. Dragon's Age may be a good choice if you're looking for a more D&D type setting.

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    2. Agreed, Dragon Age is kind of D&D Mass Effect, so if that's more your bag than Sci-Fi, it could be the route to go.

      I think I'm the only person on the planet that preferred DA2 to Origins. Sure, the world is more constricted and locations get reused, but the interaction with your companions was far better developed.

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    3. They already played DA IIRC

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  2. You might also try Persona 4 on PS2/PS3 (or Persona 4 Golden on Vita). It's very, very plot-heavy, you have various romance options you can choose from and the RPG part is great as well.

    I know you aren't really fond of jRPGs, but really, Atlus developed games are something else, and Persona 4 is the best starting point for them IMHO.

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    1. Yeah, that's what I was going to suggest too. P4 Golden is well worth playing, even if you don't normally enjoy console-style RPGs.

      If it absolutely must be a PC game... well, I can't think of many good ones besides Mass Effect.

      How about 'To the Moon'?
      http://store.steampowered.com/video/206440
      It's a short indie game, but matches the criteria.

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    2. "Irene likes plot-thick, dialogue heavy CRPGs that we can play on the console."

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    3. I guess that begs the question, what consoles do you have? Is it just an Xbox 360?

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  3. Long-time lurker, first-time poster...

    Kingdons of Amalur actually does have a fair amount of dialogue, but as the poster above says, it's entirely meaningless. I'm a fairly thorough reader of text in games but skipped almost all of it after the first hour. It's a pretty bland game all round, basically a MMORPG without any of the (potentially) interesting social/dynamic-world aspects.

    Dark Souls has minimal dialogue and no dialogue options. BUT there is a lot of story and a number of choices to be made, they're just through non-conventional means. It's a very interesting game, though may not be ideal for the purpose you state. You should definitely play it at some point though. Here's why: http://thegrumpingdrowned.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/article-dark-souls-vs-skyrim/

    Dragon's Dogma: It's probably a half-way house between the meaningless-quest treadmill of Amalur and cryptic, dense world of Dark Souls, though it's a vastly inferior game to Souls. Out of these first three, it's probably most suitable for your purpose, but Irene's still going to get mighty bored and you run from point A to B for the 100th time (no fast travel).

    Mass Effect is probably the most appropriate. I'd jump in at 2. It removed a lot of the grindy elements and upped the dialogue with crew members. I mean, it still ain't no Planescape: Torment, but it's a step in that direction.

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  4. I would go for Mass Effect 1. That would be excellent. Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma... wouldn't suit your purposes, although both are fantastic games in their own right. Persona 4 would be appropriate.

    And Kingdoms of Amalur... might work.

    I have been totally useless here, but good luck.

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  5. Irene's best bet is with the Mass Effect series. It's what she's expecting. Kingdoms of Amalour has a lot of flavour text but it's not important. If Irene likes WOW, she might dig the aesthetic of this game, though, and how fluid the combat is (for an rpg).

    Dark Souls is an amazing game, best of this decade easily, but all of its storytelling is contextual. You travel through this world and it says very little to you but if you pay attention to the environments and engage with your imagination you can piece a startingly complete story about it. It's a very unforgiving game and it requires a reconfiguration internally on the modern gamer as to what they expect from their videogame and how to get it. It's only for the patient and for those that make plans. It's very common-sense once you get past the weirdness in it, which is very refreshing. I mean, if you want to play a fast character, then equip daggers because they're short and slash fast. Don't complain about animation priority when you're swinging around a greataxe. The animations commit so you have to know when to swig.

    There is no romance in Dark Souls. Only the Eternal Return.

    Dragon's Dogma is a curious game. It does some stuff well, but it definitely is not a story-heavy game. No romance either.

    Mass Effect for Irene! ME 1 and 2 are very good if you know what you're getting into. 3 is a big disappointment, but well, you might not get to that at all.

    Merry christmas!

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  6. Also an endorsement for Persona 4, but only if Irene is fine with trying to connect with teenagers that go to school in the videogame. No mature cast, though mature themes are heavily discussed.

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  7. I would go with Mass Effect, based on reputation. I've only play the first one briefly.

    I would also suggest Fallout:New Vegas. I know you don't care for the genre. But really it feels like the wild west with some weird sci-fi stuff. And it is filled with meaningful dialogue options, multiple factions, and a lot of choice on how you want to finish the game. I think the Ultimate Edition(includes all dlc) can be had for around $20.

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  8. Mass Effect. And DON'T skip the first one. It might be grindy, but it has the least stupid story of the three, and feels less like a shooter.

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  9. Mass Effect series, hands down.

    Claus

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  10. Mass Effect is OK: start with Number One on easy. This way the grind will be toned down, and I second that the first entry in the series is actually worthwhile story-wise (the sequels are leaning towards a silly sci-fi/military plot, but the first feels like a proper high-tech mystery).

    Also, I recommend Far Cry 3: it has some nice RPG elements, and the refreshing change in the story/setting might pique some interest.

    Finally, a good jRPG might be in order: Last Story on Wii is fantastic. It has "girly themes" like romance (NOT! Actually the romance is quite moving) and the characters are quite lovely. The game is not that hard, but the start is very confusing.

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  11. Dragon Age is plot thick with relationships as well.

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  12. Kingdoms of Amalur has solid combat and good atmosphere. As others have pointed out, there is a lot of dialogue but it is all lore, no real decisions to be made. Also the combat is trivialized by the existence of healing potions. But if you can ignore that (I couldn't) then it's fun.

    Even though I dislike most everything about Mass Effect, it's still the closest to what you're looking for. Be sure not to play a Soldier, they are an incredibly boring class.

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  13. Happy to help - glad to see you're taking advantage of the near-broken usefulness of the shield spell! The game's so unfair in so many other ways that I never felt guilty exploiting this feature to the full.

    "Congratulations to Drakkhen on providing the weirdest monster I've ever encountered in a CRPG. Is this what you were all talking about in last posting's comments?" Yup, that's the badger. It loves you!

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  14. Here's a thought. How about Irene writing down some thoughts on the game she ends up playing?

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    1. I'll see if I can get her to do a guest posting at some point. It might be fun.

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  15. It looks like the game Rick Rolled you!

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    1. Yeah, WTF is up with that Rickroll dancing in the first animated GIF?

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  16. What is that crazy-looking weapon one of your dudes has towards the end of this post? Is it a sword with spikes all over it or more like a tetsubo?

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    1. Jonothan, that is the ‘drags’, most mysteriously-named of fantasy uber-weapons. Or at least that was what the Amiga version called it; I always assumed this was some messed-up attempt to write ‘dragon sword’ or suchlike. From the Addict's reference to it by the latter name I take it they managed to sober up long enough to sort this out for the PC version? In any case, I remember it being an enormous step up that enables the carefree slaying of previously worrisome foes.

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    2. Tomsk, I played on Amiga too! I think the deal with the "drags" is it may have actually been called a "saw" in the original French version, but the semi-"Blind Idiot" translation to English made it 'drags' (my theory since you sort of drag a saw back and forth).

      For extra fun, see http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlindIdiotTranslation

      --Nyxalinth

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  17. “There was one area where a door locked behind me, and I couldn't figure out how to get out, so I had to restart.”

    Another example of the game’s 'distinctive' take on the concept of the difficulty curve: screen after screen of not much to worry about, interspersed with the occasional insta-death with no warning and for no obvious reason…

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  18. Can anyone describe the bizarro desert monster in more detail (since it just got a screenshot above)? After the last post's comments I was really curious why people thought it was the strangest monster they've ever encountered.

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    1. It undulates seductively and tells you it loves you. Have a look:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnE9XEC5mWw

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    2. I have to wonder if it in the original french if it was saying something much racier than "I love you" ;)

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    3. Were these guys dropping acid as they were designing this game?

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    4. Thanks for that link! The DOS version doesn't have the "I love you" sound, which just makes the whole thing even more WTF.

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    5. Wow, that was unusually frightening. What the hell is with this game?

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  19. Another vote for Mass Effect. Irene will absolutely hate Dark Souls, based on your requirements. Romance is not present, dialog is meaningful but sparse. Truly a game you must devote many, many hours to ... although it is also intensely rewarding like no other game I've played in a long, long time.

    Mass Effect on the easiest difficulty is what you'll want. Combat will be minimalized, story maximized. There is tons of interesting dialog and definite romantic options. My favorite of the series is #2, but I have yet to finish #3.

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  20. With great shame and reluctance I also must recommend Ass Effect. It is a terrible, overrated series with the disappointment of the year for an ending, but matches your criteria the most. All the other games you listed are better of course, Dark Souls in particular is one of the absolute best games ever made for any platform, however they don't do sickening, numbing plot vomit quite like Ass Effect does.

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  21. Witcher 2, please, do Witcher 2. That one is more in the classic style of CRPGs, originally was available for PC, but they released it to xbox.

    It has a lot of adult themes, and story based on a novel series.

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    1. I preferred the first Witcher. Better combat and a more immersing story.

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    2. completely and totally agree. very plot heavy and your choices have actual meaning

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  22. I am not sure if I have played this game.... it does not sound familiar... but all of the monsters ring a bell with me... is there another game where giant monsters jump out at you.. they look so familiar.. driving me crazy..

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  23. If you haven't played Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga I'd highly recommend that. Good combat and some genuinely interesting dialogue and quest choices. Don't know how it plays on the console, but it was great on the PC. Really good game that didn't get enough attention I think. http://www.amazon.com/Divinity-II-Dragon-Knight-Xbox-360/dp/B004JHJHCC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355935557&sr=8-1&keywords=divinity+2+the+dragon+knight+saga

    Of the ones you listed Mass Effect is the closest, but also the least fun of the four that I personally had (with Dark Souls at the top, followed closely by Dragon's Dogma).

    Witcher 2 is great as well, but I think its best played after the first personally.




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  24. I have the following suggestions:

    * Dishonored - Not exactly an RPG, but has lots of dialog and choices with actual consequences.

    * The Witcher 2 (although the first one is better IMO, it isn't available for console).

    * The first Mass Effect. They get progressively worse.

    * Alpha Protocol. Not to everybodys taste, but I liked it.

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    1. Alpha Protocol is a good game for those who like to take time to appreciate a game's handling of complex branching paths and player agency.

      The actual gameplay, the third-person shooter/stealth action, is rather lacking. Yahtzee was not exaggerating when he pointed out that some time in you can turn invisible and run around shanking people.

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    2. Yes, I know that the action is lacking in many respects. But it is more varied than both Witcher 2 and Mass Effect. Also nice C&C.

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  25. mass effect (starting with 1)
    persona 4
    dragon age:origins
    witcher 2
    Knights of the old republic

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  26. I found Kingdoms of Amalur to be extremely boring. It's just a single-player MMORPG, with bland quests which nobody supposed to read and lots of quite easy repetitive combat against infinitely respawning creatures. It's extensive crafting system, which could have been its redeeming feature, is entirely unnecessary for game completion.

    I would definitely recommend Dragon Age: Origins (but not DA 2) and Witcher 2 (actually, plot-wise the first part is better, but it's not available for consoles). If possible, use Polish audio with English subtitles - it's way better that way!

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  27. Mass Effect, for sure. The first one is actually the least plotty and most shooty of the three, but it also doesn't take all that long to finish.

    The general consensus of 'it gets worse as it goes along' tends to be based on hilariously misguided concepts of what an RPG is, so don't worry that it's suddenly going to change into some entirely different type of game.

    The stories become better told and the gameplay becomes more enjoyable as the series progresses.

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    1. Okay, the sum of the comments in here has convinced me to go with that. Thanks.

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    2. The general consensus of 'it gets worse as it goes along' tends to be based on hilariously misguided concepts of what an RPG is

      An RPG is a third person shooter with conversations, apparently.

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    3. What I think of as "hilariously misguided" are those that still don't seem to realize, or refuse to accept that AAA games these days aren't even meant to fit within the confines of one strictly defined genre. In fact they're not really meant to be in any one particular genre at all, unless it's something with a very broad meaning, a blanket term like "action" or "shooter". Even if a triple-A game is marketed as an "RPG", it's still meant to be something that appeals to and is accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of what those people otherwise enjoy playing. It's also meant to be as streamlined as possible, to make it easier to please crowds that play on different platforms. That's what gets you the $$$.

      Worrying what the "hardcore", the "oldschool" and, these days, even the PC crowd expects from an RPG is OK if you're going for a niche market, which is too limited in scope for what something like Mass Effect goes for.

      My opinion is that BioWare hasn't made a 'real' RPG - according to my personal definition - in about a decade. Knights of the Old Republic was the turning point that saw them slowly move away from the traditional RPGs like Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights. Again, that's a personal opinion and I don't really care if everyone or even anyone agrees with it. The point is... does this stop me from enjoying (some of) their more recent titles? No, not really, because I don't usually go into a game with a preconceived idea of what it should be.

      Anyway, I think Chet did a very smart thing and defined what an RPG is, for the purposes of this blog, according to his own relatively clear criteria. And I'd say, according to his 3 big criteria, Mass Effect still qualifies.

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    4. Well said, Giuseppe. Bioware has definitely allowed the market to tailor their game design decisions. ME3 tries to be everything to everyone, which is nearly impossible, yet it doesn't completely fail. That is impressive. I didn't like 3 as much as 2, but I can see why they made the changes they did in order to make it work on the console and to make it appeal to a broader portion the RPG/Action continuum.

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    5. I like a lot of different kinds of game, so Bioware experimenting with genre hybrids doesn't bother me per se. I'd really like it if they'd be a lot more consistent in gameplay structure inside a single franchise, though, especially if it's ostensibly part of a single multi-release narrative the way the Mass Effect games are. And if they're going to work in gameplay from genres other than RPG, I'd really like it if they took the time to understand what makes that kind of gameplay work. Mass Effect 2 does not work as a shooter as far as I'm concerned.

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  28. Plot-thick, dialogue-heavy...how about Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition that was just released less than a month ago?

    Or, Planescape: Torment?

    Out of what you listed, Mass Effect probably is what I'd vote for, but it's not that strong of a preference.

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    1. By the way, I forgot to mention it, but BG:EE is also playable on iPad.

      Also, perhaps Final Fantasy? Paper Mario? (IMHO, the GameCube Thousand Year Door is the best version, although it is a good series overall.)

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    2. Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment aren't console releases, which is what he's looking for.

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  29. Glad you're sticking with Drakkhen, Chet - really appreciate it. To be fair I never said it was a great game, but it certainly is one of the most unique CRPGs I've ever played, and at the time the 3D engine was cutting edge.

    For that I think it deserves a spot on your blog. As much as I'm looking forward to Azure Bonds, it really is only an incremental upgrade over Pools and, in contrast to Drakkhen, it's a fairly well known game for the time. It's these weird and obscure titles that make your blog special so, once again, thanks.

    BTW - great "The Day The Earth Stood Still" reference. :)

    Oh, and one more vote for Mass Effect. Start with the first one. You might not like it for the same reasons you didn't like Dragon Age, but Irene should like it for the same reasons she did. Play a female Shepard. Much better than male.

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    1. Yeah, well, I might be changing my mind right now. I can't even begin to defeat this one guy (the Prince of Water). I mean, he slaughters my whole party in SECONDS, no matter what I do. I'm not sure I'm willing to grind to the level it'll take to defeat him.

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    2. No worries - I'm glad you made it this far. :)

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  30. Why is everyone saying that ME 1 is grindy? Not the case at all, the enemies level with you like in Oblivion, and there's a finite amount in the game anyway. It's also really easy, even on normal.

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    1. Probably the "planet exploration" segment of the game, which has almost nothing interesting to offer, but takes quite a while to fully mine of cash and experience. Of course, it's also almost completely unnecessary since as you say the game isn't particularly hard and you can get plenty of levels doing plot missions and sidequests that actually involve story and dialogue.

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    2. I wouldn't call ME1 "grindy". I would call it monotonous. The plot is fair, but the gameplay is repetitive and simplistic.

      ME2, by contrast, is one of my favorite games ever -- it blends great gameplay with good character development, and if you crank up the difficulty to the max then it requires thoughtful, strategic positioning AND good reflexes to win. Or you could crank down the difficulty and faceroll your way through the combat and focus on story.

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    3. ME2's combat was the definition of monotonous. Endless combats against functionally identical enemies (the differences coming primarily in which colored health bars they sported) set in halls full of arbitrarily placed waist high cover, with as many as two variations of five basic gun types to play with (okay, I think there were three variants of assault rifle) and no need to choose between them because the second variant was always better and which type to use was dictated by the color of the enemy health bar. At no point did my team composition matter. Most of my powers were tactically useless and those that had a use were basically interchangeable.

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    4. In ME1 you can actually use some tactics, which wasn't at all possible in ME2. And speaking of 'grindy', ME2 features the most grindy mini game of all time (the mining mini game).

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  31. Thanks for everyone's comments on the games. I should have realized that not everyone's been reading all of my posts since the beginning, so to clarify: we've already played Dragon Age: Origins and Knights of the Old Republic. I hated the second DA. And X-Box 360 is the only console we have.

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  32. Oh, and I don't think I could possibly bring myself to play a sequel without playing the original. Take what you want from that psychologically.

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    1. That's fine. The first Mass Effect is the best in any case. The most overall well told and well written storyline, the greatest amount of intraparty interaction, and the closest to being a proper CRPG. Unfortunately, if you're going to have to play it on console you'll miss out on some interface and design improvements the PC benefited from, (not to mention mouse aiming). I suspect based on what you said above about DA2, you'll react as poorly as I did to the changes they made to the series for Mass Effect 2, but at least the plot doesn't drive off a cliff the way DA2's did. ME3 is a middle ground - it has more to do with the central series plot and reins back some of the poorer design choices, but pound for pound never really reaches the same heights as ME1. Where it excels is building on the legacy of the first two games' narratives and characters. (And then there's that trainwreck of an ending. Oh well.)

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    2. ME3 is a middle ground. Beyond that, I would say the exact opposite of everything above, so it will be interesting to get your take, CRPGA. ME2 was a far better game, especially on higher difficulties.
      I do agree with both of you about DA2, as well. It seems that many other people did also, because the developer is making clear in the hype for DA3 that it will be more like DA:O

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    3. Further proof of my theory that you're essentially a nerdy, married George Constanza.

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  33. Anyone playing Nethack under Dosbox in order to play along with Chet may want to consider the following config changes:

    - In the Dosbox-0.74.conf file, change these two lines to allow you to play in a larger window:
    windowresolution=1024x768
    output=opengl

    - In the nethack.cnf file (which you can edit and save using Notepad), add ! before the rest_on_space option.

    After doing so the line should look like this:
    OPTIONS=time,!rest_on_space,nopickup,number_pad

    That will allow you to spam the space bar through multi-line messages without worrying that you will accidentally rest afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Of those games you listed, Mass Effect is far and away the best of the lot for story. I'm not a huge 'gamer' but I really explored the heck out of the hub worlds in those games. You can even make choices which matter.

    One neat thing is that the dialogue chooser is always set up (good) (neutral) (evil), but you never know exactly what your character will say, so sometimes they can surprise you.

    I highly suggest the female avatar, Jennifer Hale did a wonderful job with her voiceover. The best part of the game if you ask me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. I never played as a female, but I had the same reaction about the male voice work. Very masculine, and yet compassionate -- it really helps you care about the character.

      Delete
  35. Fun bit of trivia:

    Gary Gygax (creator of Dungeons and Dragons) helped in writing the plot for Drakkhen.

    ReplyDelete
  36. ME series is very dialog heavy and your decisions have a permanent effect in the game universe, if you start with ME1 (and I highly recommend doing so) your decisions will change the history and dynamics and even the NPC's you can interact with throughout the series (something I very much enjoyed). Combat is pretty twitch based, but setting up powerful combinations of characters and powers adds a tactical aspect. I enjoyed all of them, particularly 3, but that probably had more to do with seeing my hometown destroyed by aliens in the opening scene (and not NY or LA for once!).
    Another option is the excellent KOTOR and it's sequel The Sith lords. Not quite as polished as the ME series, but an excellent story with the same dialog heavy gameplay, plus the added benefit of the Star Wars universe if that's your thing.

    ReplyDelete
  37. You're looking for Mass Effect series - it's all about dialogue, decisions, characters and romance. Don't skip any of them, you can fully experience "your" story only if you play whole series in order and export your save to ME2 and ME3. Actually I'm surprised that you're have not played ME series yet, as it is most similar to KotOR or DAO in terms of presentation. Also try out female protagonist - her voice acting is awesome.

    Kingdoms of Amalur is oldschool-style RPG taht I think you may like yourself with lots of gear, grinding and exploration. There's a lot of text, but it's all lore and monologue exposition with no choices at all. No romance either. It's a good game, but not what you're looking for.

    As for Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma, I haven't played them. Not a fan of japanese game design in RPG genre.

    I would also recommend Witcher 2 as it's all about choices and consequences, but it's a waste to play it without playing Witcher 1 first, and it's X-Box port is absolutely horrendous compared to PC original.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Mass Effect of the choices you gave. Can't go wrong there.

    In the future, consider Jade Empire. It's very, very heavy on dialogue, characters (including romance), setting and plot. But light on RPG elements. Combat is mindless and fast paced. Perfect to play with your significant other because there's not much sitting through inventory management or drawn out fights.

    It's also a very console-oriented title so you don't miss out on anything by playing on Xbox.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yeah, we played Jade Empire. She liked it a lot. She keeps asking if there's a sequel.

      Delete
    2. I've played the enhanced PC edition (or whatever it was called) of Jade Empire and I think it has to be one of the easiest CRPG games I've ever played; at least that's how I remember it.

      If Irene enjoyed Jade Empire, I'm sure she would enjoy Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic (1 & 2). It's more complex as a game than Jade Empire, but it's still basically the same concept of action heavy game, with lots of dialogue and choices, multiples possible endings, romance (perhaps less important than in Jade Empire). And the Force. Basically with Jade Empire they took the KoTOR games and replaced the Star Wars elements with oriental/Chinese style mythology.

      Delete
  39. Witcher 2. Definitely.

    ReplyDelete

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