Monday, November 1, 2010




So here's my problem with the way Dragon Age plays fast and loose with its fiction. Take into account other excellent Bioware titles. No where in Mass Effect are there blatant ads for un-purchased downloadable content. NPC's did not walk up to you in Neverwinter Nights and offer you quests that will only cost you $15 to attempt. Romances in Baldur's Gate 2 were not locked out just because you had not yet purchased the latest chapter. All of these games did of course have excellent add ons, and in the case of Neverwinter Nights the add ons were better than the game itself, but they were never advertised by 'in character' characters. The first Dragon Age had a quests available from the main camp that would dump you out to the Xbox Live marketplace if you didn't already have it. Some would call convenience. I would call it reaching for your wallet right through the fourth wall in a way that is both intrusive and unnecessary. I have no problem with downloadable content, but keep the ads for it away from what I am already playing.

Which brings us to the Penny Arcade belt. I would not call Dragon Age, as a series, very funny. There is not much levity to be had when you parents are killed and the monstrous hordes are rampaging across the countryside, destroying whatever they cannot eat. It is a dark game. That is one of its strengths. A belt that offers immunities based on what happened to kill the previous owner belongs in Deathspank, not Dragon Age, and not to pick on Gabe's art, but he does funny much better than serious. To me it just feels out of place and is pandering to a market that they already had. Like nerds need another reason to play Dragon Age (note: I did not actually think the first one was anything better than okay).

I find no fault with Gabe and Tycho for this, they are running a business and I seriously doubt that this was created for free. Given Bioware's history I find it hard to believe that this was their idea, either. Nothing of the sort has appeared in any other of their games. So who is left? Why, if it isn't an old evil that had been looking pretty normal lately: EA. Come now, EA, just because Activision is now bigger and douchbagier doesn't mean you should go and try to get your old title back. You have an excellent stable of developers now making profitable games and releasing timely content to keep the money rolling in. You gotta know when to stop, and it was about two good ideas ago. Let the game be the game and keep the ads somewhere else.

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