Fantasy RPG for PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Between $20 and $30, depending on the system, and if it's new, used, or downloaded.
There are six different options to start your quest, depending on whether or not the player chooses to start the game as a human, dwarf, an elf, or a mage. No matter what you choose, however, your character will be trapped in a situation that will make life very problematic, and it would be best if s/he were Elsewhere and are thus recruited to join the Grey Wardens, which are this game's equivalent to the Rangers of Lord of the Rings … or the Rangers of Dungeons and Dragons … or the Rangers of Babylon 5 …. you get the idea.
The Grey Wardens are tasked to stop the upcoming “Blight”-- a chronic invasion of orcs …. oops, I mean “Darkspawn”... emerging from the deep parts of the Earth to wreak havoc on all personkind. Things go very badly, and it is up to you, dear player, along with your plucky band of followers, to drum up an army capable of stopping this threat before they wipe out Middle Earth … um, Ferelden.
This game is surprisingly easy to use – pressing down on the left trigger button (if you're an Xbox user) freezes all action in the game to let you think out your actions, and you can move from person to person to dictate what target your party follower should attack, with what maneuver, etc.
I'll start with the pros before I get into the cons. One of the more engaging parts of the story consists in your teammates – they all have colorful back stories, and they each have their own unique cycles of redemption, which your character influences greatly. One teammate is a very good, temple-going worshiper of “The Maker,” a woman with a French accent who swears that The Maker sent her to your character's aid (subtle, no?).
This is an M for mature game for a reason. First, hacking apart the enemy will cover your characters in computer generated blood spatter after you slash a spurting artery or lop off a head or two. After that, there are teammates who outright proposition your character. You can avoid romance, and the love scenes that come with them (a sex scene where everyone is clothed).
You can't avoid the blood spatter, which is less realistic as it was in the film 300. And it's hard to avoid some of the cruder aspects of dialogue. You also can't avoid mentions of cannibalism, or that one of your teammates had a wife who left him for another woman.
Believe it or not, the sex and violence are a minor part of the morality rating for this game. As you travel along, attempting to find allies, you have to break out The Art of the Deal just to gain each new ally. Black and white choices are one thing, but this game comes with a dozen shades of gray. It's a war, so you're going to have to play well with some unsavory characters in order to save everybody.
The music peaks with the main theme, and a fun rendition of “This is War” by 30 seconds to Mars. Aside from a few standout moments, there isn't much here in the way of music.
The game is from 2009, so the graphics are not the height of the Xbox 360, which in this case is a good thing, since I really didn't want realistic arterial spray. The story carries this from minute one.
Danger, Will Robinson. This game is 50 hours long, and that's in the first playthrough. There are also six different storylines in the game, depending on the character you pick. And the choices made during the course of the story will change the ending. And, if you pick up the Ultimate edition, you're going to end up with an expansion that is, in essence, an epilogue to the primary storyline that adds another ten hours. This game can not only blow a weekend, it could blow through a whole week.
However, if that were it, I'd give it a five out of five, easy. However, fatigue quickly sets in with this game. I am almost done with my second playthrough, and I can't imagine starting the game again, to go over the exact same areas, trying to make different choices.
This game is a 5 on the addictiveness scale for the first playthrough, because, like with a good book, you will want to see what happens next. However, for a second playthrough, it's going to be a 2. Then a 1. Then you're just going to want to find another game.
I enjoyed the game, but then, I had no problem avoiding the occasional crude comment or some of the characters acting the way they do. I'm also a fan of the fantasy and RPG genre. While this owes much to Tolkein, much of what they've done with the world has been original and creative.
I'd recommend it for adults who are waiting for the next Hobbit film to come out, and who have played their Lord of the Rings DVDs to death. And, considering the length of the game, and the possibilities for playthrough, it's a good investment for the money.
ESRB Rating: M
Copyright 2013 John Konecsni
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