As you might suspect, this post is concerned with one of my favorite franchises and one of my favorite developer’s new games.
Dragon Age has a new trailer out, which has to be viewed on two levels. The first is: what the hell is that song doing in there… It’s called “This is the new shit,” by Marilyn Manson, and it sounds like the new shit smeared all over a set of speakers. It’s awful, and a very unsuccessful attempt by PR people at EA to make the game more “h4rdkore,” or something. I’d recommend watching it sans sound, but there is some dialogue in there, so maybe you’re willing to sit through it. Here it is, ready to scar your eardrums:
Now, I’d like to address the fact that this trailer reveals a few things: people will be really mean to each other and stab each other in-cutscene in this game, which seems George R. R. Martin-esque to me. People will be very bloody, as well. Finally, people will have creepy-looking sex. That’s all well and weird, but I’m excited by how smooth the animation looks. I’m not alone in thinking that this is where cutscenes (that are in-engine) need to go? The battle scenes look chaotic, yet the actors all look like they have a sense of weight and heft as they stab each other. This isn’t like watching Neverwinter Nights 2 or Fallout 3‘s battle animations and snickering. These characters look amazingly good, in that weird Bioware way. I know it’s all scripted, but think how the scripted in-game animations for most games look…
Anyway, I’m hopeful, especially if Bioware manages to escape from the Xtreme Hardcore hole they and EA are digging for themselves. Time will tell. There’s an interview here with Mike Laidlaw, the game’s lead designer. Some of it sounds cool, and some of it worries me. This gives me hope for the game’s PC-ness, if you’ll allow me that almost meaningless word:
But you can tune right in, and set it so that – say – if my elf is less than this percentage health, I want you to do the following things… When we give that level of control, you can take some of the micromanagement away so you don’t have to flip between them all, all the time.
I like the sound of that. But oh no, I speak too soon:
The nice thing is that it’s all player-driven, when you think about it. Is there sex in the game? Sure… it supports the concept. That’s why I talk about lust. It’s more about sexuality than just sex. Because otherwise that’s childish. But it’s really based on the player’s experience. And some of your party really are quite cute and flirtatious. If you go I-am-not-interested-in-talking-to-you-I-have-a-dragon-to-kill, then that’s cool. That’s your game. But I want to make sure it reacts to that. That they react to that.
Um, I guess I like the fact that you can avoid sex, but I’ll wait and see if it actually is about sexuality. And that’s assuming that will be a good thing anyway. Plus won’t it be weird to have your perpetually silent hero having sex with a talking person?
Ok, I apologize for this, but there’s also two write-ups of the new level that was demoed for press recently. Joystiq’s is pretty basic, and talks about how the game was fun/difficult. 1up’s is really fucking exciting. They talk about how the game will have spells and counterspells (think Cloudkill v. Zone of Clean Air, Globe of Protection v. Breach, and protection from Physical v. Magic Missile from BG 2. Yeah, I just went there), and spell combinations. That’s two dissimilar spells when cast together unlock a new, combined, badass spell (for people like me who don’t know what it means). They talked about the pause feature, the ease of control within combat, and the tactical nature of the fights. It sounds sweet:
Of course, when a BioWare employee who tests this very encounter for hours and hours on end is showing off his skills, the battle looks easy. The demo-er played in real-time for the whole encounter — never pausing at all. He switched rapidly between the four party members, and used a combination of hotkeys and tactical scripting (where you create a set of rules for each party member to follow when not being directly controlled by you) to tear through the encounter.
I want to be that person!
Oh, and Thief 4 (to be spelled Thi4f, wonderfully) was announced, to no surprise. I’m excited, but if this game delays my rabid consumption of Deus Ex 3, I will go to their studios and make mean faces at them. I guess that’s enough for now? I feel some kind of “series” coming on, perhaps a long, windy, discussion of why I love Clear Sky so much, piece by piece. If it happens, I apologize in advance.