The Changing Face of Games

Today in Skyrim, I tried to walk to Morrowind. I’d read that Bethesda had included the Vvardenfell landmass, and tried to climb to the top of a mountain so that I could peek over the peak and see Red Mountain in the distance. Unfortunately, I hit the game’s built in barriers and had to turn back, suddenly feeling desperately homesick for my pixellated paradise. Thwarted, I bumped into an ice troll and decided to leg it, conjuring a dremora and hiding behind a rock. I let the red-faced beastie do my combat for me; I just plain didn’t feel like fighting today.

Trolls of a rather nastier variety greeted Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler, who shut down her Twitter account after a barrage of spiteful personal insults, in part sparked by Bioware’s decision to include the dialogue-light “Action Mode” and combat-light “Story Mode” in Mass Effect 3. More insidiously, some fans were offended by the game’s inclusion of romance options for female and gay characters, leading to the astonishing claim that Bioware is “neglecting the straight male gamer”, despite having four dateable females in Mass Effect 2. It seems that some fans are offended by Bioware letting players play the game they want, when and how they want it.  Continue reading

Dragon Age II’s free upgrade

Bioware have just announced that anyone who pre-orders Dragon Age II gets a free upgrade to their Signature Edition, which is basically $20-worth of extra content. You get the game and a DLC code (additional quests and a new companion), plus the digital soundtrack, and a slew of downloadable goodies such as weapons. In order to get the upgrade, you need to pre-order before 11 January 2011.

The blurb:

Dragon Age II is the sequel to the 2009’s “RPG of the Year”, featuring faster-paced action, striking new art direction and a gripping storytelling approach that allows gamers to experience the rise to power with the game’s key character, Hawke. A refugee who survives the destruction of his homeland, Hawke becomes the Champion of Kirkwall but the lore surrounding his rise to power is shrouded in myth and rumor. These mysteries are the driving force behind the all-new Dragon Age II story, which spans nearly 10 years in the Dragon Age universe. Players will experience how the legend unfolds by gathering the deadliest of allies, making tough moral choices, amassing fame and fortune and sealing their place in history.

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Crush the Castle: Making A Killing

Much as I love modern games, they do rather take the fun out of the good old-fashioned bloodlust that we associate with video games. Playing Dragon Age: Origins, for example, I wasn’t so much thinking “ban this sick filth now” as “wow – this is a really good CGI movie. Um. Am I actually going to get on with killing something now?”

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Yes, it looks absolutely gorgeous, and like all Bioware games has a great story with wonderful characters, great voice acting and a nifty soundtrack. The trouble is that in the few bits where you do get to chop people up with a sword, there’s all these weighty consequences to consider. Just like real life, people don’t like it too much if you kill someone who doesn’t thoroughly deserve it – and even if they do deserve it, most people will think that cutting their head off is just not very nice.

Hooray, then, for free-to-play browser game Crush the Castle, which is also available to buy for the iphone. Armor Games’ moddable aiming game is delightfully amoral. On the orders of a king trying to crush a rebellion, your job is to destroy the castles with the aid of a trebuchet. All you do is click once to swing the boulder, and then again to release it. The skill is in timing the release of the rocks. As each boulder meets its target, you are treated to the terrified shrieks of the inhabitants you’ve just squished.

BAN THIS SICK FILTH NOW! Or, better yet, give it a go.

CRUSH THE CASTLE: PLAYER’S PACK