Sunday, August 7, 2011

Black Isle, we miss you

Obsidian Entertainment does have a bit of a checkered history, putting out sequels to excellent (and sometimes not so excellent) games of dubious quality, usually through no fault of their own. They come from excellent stock, led by refugees of Black Isle, but they have have not had a modern break out hit, and am I worried that they may never get to. First up under the Obsidian name was Knights of the Old Republic 2, a game 'ruined' by a short development cycle and rampant interference from Lucas (or so the rumors go). Played it, actually enjoyed it more than the first KotoR, probably because I set out from the start with the idea of being the biggest bastard possible. I made it through the entire game with only one light side force point; who knew that being nice to your droids counted.

Neverwinter Nights 2, and to be more specific the first expansion, Mask of the Betrayer, is the best work Obsidian has done. In is an excellent RPG in the same vein as Baldurs Gate but without out all the baggage that 2nd edition D&D had with it. Don't get me wrong, if I am going to side down with a cadre of nerds and a bag of dice I prefer 2nd edition, but for a game all the streamlining of 3rd really made sense. Mask of the Betrayer had an incredible story, surpassing the main game by leaps and bounds. I cannot help but notice that this is the only game of their list developed exclusively for the PC. It was a different time, and there was enough money to be made from one market then. It seems unlikely that they will get this opportunity again, as only Blizzard has the clout and loyalty needed to pull off PC only development (though I will put serious money on some version Diablo 3 making it to a television near your).

The less said about Alpha Protocol, the better. And while Fallout: New Vegas was a very good game, Obsidian didn't break the mold that Bethesda left behind for them. It was the same game, just in a different place.

And now we come to Dungeon Siege 3, a game so stripped down for the console audience that you can see its bones right through its recycled chain mail armor. It's not bad, it's just simple. I know that the first Dungeon Siege by Gas Powered Games was in fact designed to be a simper alternative to Diablo, but with a grand total of nine powers, four characters and around ten passive buffs it feels like I am playing My First Action RPG. I can hit a button and it tells me exactly where I need to go for the next quest, complete with the flashing path the Fable did first. The game is nothing but appetizers, and I am getting pretty hungry for a god damned steak.

Some days I wonder why I left PC gaming. Then an orange package from GameFly arrives in the mail and I remember that you can't rent PC games and that my rig is about $500 from being relevant.

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