Vladerag's Blog











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There are three games that I credit with having evolved by concept of what an rpg should be, the first being The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind by Bethesda Softworks, the second and third however, both go to Bioware and the Dragon Age series, and for good reason.

Dragon Age I introduced us to a radical, and radically simple concept:  Your choices make a difference.  Sure, there were games before this were your choices influenced the game, but Dragon Age I was unique in that every choice would resound throughout the game.  For example, a relatively minor choice you made in the first thirty minutes, should you have decided to choose the mage background, will become important later in the game and can radically change your playthrough.  I wont give details and spoil it for anyone who as yet to play, but in essence this kind of pattern exists throughout the game, you can decide how you play all the way to the end.

While Dragon Age I was almost purely based on choice, Dragon Age II felt much more linear.  Mostly because it was, it really felt as if it was lacking what made me love Dragon Age in the first place.  However, Dragon Age II stands out for some of its own innovative additions, and it isnt as if choice is wholly absent, it is just that you will never make a decsion that will reverberate in the game quite like the choices in Dragon Age I.

On the topic of its innovations, DA2  had a much more streamlined combat system than its predeccesor, especially for those of us who love magic.  It really reduced the robotic look to using staff magic, and it was a major improvement in how the action played out.  In fact, magic was almost totally overhauled between I & II, and all for the better.  Mages now actually fought, and looked cool doing it, as opposed to sitting back and making vauge motions.

Other outstanding features included a vocal main character, as opposed to the silent one in DA1.  It might seem like a minor thing, but both the male and female voices are well done, and since you can choose Hawkes personality and responses in speech you can look forward to a game filled with dialogue to match the character you have created, and that is a real bonus.  But the real inovation is in the face, you get to model it yourself, of course, in true Dragon Age style, and you can make it into whatever you want.  But no matter what you do, it will still be exspressive.  Imagine, that peoples faces actually reflect their emotions and that the lips synch with what they are saying!  It really raised the bar when it came to character models and character speech.

Of course, the best thing about DA2 is that your choices from the first Dragon Age affect it and are present in it.  Allistair cant appear to talk to you if he dies after all, and you made that choice a while back, and now you get to live with the consequences, awesomely.

But for all of my love for DA and DA2, they both had some problems, and while great games, were just a little shy of amazing.

Dragon Age III, if the hints Bioware has handed to us mean anything, will be taking place in Orlais, but just what the plot and events will be are anyones guess.  Or rather, anyones choice.  In essence, Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II have created the world and set the stage, and all your choices could be reflected in the third installment of this series.  Did you side with the elves in Dragon Age: Origins?  Did you duel the Arishok in Dragon Age II?  When you begin Dragon Age 2 you are prompted to choose a save file from Origins to use as history, only there is more data in the save file than is used for the gameplay of Dragon Age II, so it seems likely that information will be passed on to three.  Because of this, Dragon Age III is guranteed to be at least interesting.  But why stop there?

Dragon Age I and II both had problems, in opposite directions.  Origins had less-than-exemplar combat, paired with sometimes a little shody character models, and somewhat suffered for its lack of a linear feeling.  Not that I particularly like linear rpgs, but I remember that if it wasnt for my penchant of checking every door to see if I could enter I might not have discovered the way to continue one part of the main storyline, and nothing is worse than spending hours of your time trying to figure out what the game wants you to do next.

Dragon Age II suffered from other maladies.  The most noticable, and infuriating, was that they reused maps.  Every single dungeon looked precisely like every other one, the only difference being which path was blocked and the occasional mirroring of the place.  It really was painful to be disapointed repeatedly by the lack creativity in that department.  Also, as I metioned before, the game is much more linear.  Little you do has a huge affect on the storyline, just on how you do it.  Hand in hand with this is that persuasion is no longer as important, and that was almost depressing.  Looking back at Origins, my character was practically the definition of sociopath, I manipulated anyone and everyone, wheedled every last coin, bit of information, and service out of every person I came into contact with, and made them love me for it.  I took great pride in betraying people at the last momment, before taking them for everything they had.  It was fascinating, and was a truly important tool in my aresnal, not to mention a fascinating one.  Dragon Age II clipped my wings, so to speak, but there were still some fun oppurtunities so it wasnt a total loss.

So what too look for In Dragon Age III?  Synthesis.  The best of both worlds.  Bioware has a good track record of listening to what their fans are saying, so it is a good bet that words like these ones have made it to their ears. 

On the other hand, my expectaions are higher than my hopes.  I am expecting that this game lands a perfect 10 at IGN, because with two great games under their belt, and the fact that they both excelled in different areas that the other was poor at, the solotion seems obvious.  I am expecting that my choices all the way from the first Dragon Age will help form the world and the ones from the second as well, and I am expecting that this game will be finally introduce the idea that how I build my character will affect how people react.  (It really is funny to watch my character, a blood mage, berate another character for using blood magic or give lectures on how blood mages give mages a bad name after I killed my through tons of people using that same magic.)

Honestly though, I hope Bioware doesnt screw this up.  While it isnt like the gaming giant is prone to that kind of thing, in such a complex game, one that will be affected by choices you made years ago (or days if like me you will be starting both Origins and DA2 over to make the perfect background for DA3.) and just choosing what choices should be important enough to carry and how to build such a multifaceted storyline is a challenge by itself.  Games are often compared to Icarus, and for good reason.  Consider the hype that surrounds it already, can it really live up to the potential we saw in Origins and II?  Rarely have I seen a game series with as much raw potential as this one has, and I expect them to shine.  Realistically, I hope they dont mess it up, but I know it will be a great game no matter what.



We all know that video games are exspensive.  Setting aside the intial sixty dollar investment, many games require “online passes,” or have Downloadable Content (DLC) that while not neccesairly required, often “fills” intentional holes left in the story or features.

All in all, you might end up paying $100 for your gaming experience, or more.  On the other hand, the quality of games are improving, right?  Well, maybe.  Some games are better than others, and if you are going to be spending $100 of your hard earned money, it should be fantastic, not merely good.  Some of the games listed here are series or collections by the way, but remember that a good series is always a safe bet, and that collections are some of the best you can get for your money.  So here we go:

10.  The Civilization Series by Sid Meier

The Civilization series is one of the best PC game series out there.  You play as one of the various cultures of the world, Spanish, French, or even Iriquois, and your goal is domination.  You can conquer with an epic military, or culture, or trade, or really whatever you want.  Even if you go back to Civilization III and play it today, you wont be disapointed, but the newest out is loaded with features, including an awesome multiplayer that will keep you coming back for more.  Not to metion that a single, single player game can take over ten hours.  This game will suck up your time like nothing else.

9.  Rainbow Six Vegas II

Available for both PS3 and Xbox360, RSV2 is a fantastic game for those who enjoy stealth/action games.  No add-ons required and has both online and local multiplayer, which is a definate plus.  The game places you in the shoes of Bishop, an anti-terrorist agent, and sends you all over as you face bomb threats and terrorist acts.  With a amazing arsenal of customizable weapons, armor, and camoflauge, not to mention a a plethora of quick action maps with a couple of different game settings, combines with local and online multiplayer, and you are set for a good long time.

8.  Castle Crashers

Castle Crashers is a downloadable game over the PSN and Xbox Live that will keep you up at night playing it.  You are a knight, and your goal is to rescue four princesses.  Easy right?  Wrong, as the games takes you all over a map in ridiculous side scrolling action.  the grahpics are fantastic and the game never has a dull momment, with up to four players in local and online multiplayer, and no split screen to deal with.  Not mention tons of knights to play with, each with their own unique powers.  And when you beat the game, it is not nearly the end.  You get to tackle insane mode, and if you thought this game was easy, prepare to be rudely disabused of that notion.  The action takes place on an entirely new plane once you go insane.  And all that doesnt even cover the pets and weapons that you can get.

Did I mention that in multiplayer after rescue a princess the knights fight for the honor of who gets to kiss her? 

7.  The God of War Collection

Do you like mindless action and bloodlust?  If no, skip ahead to number six, if yes, well look no further.  Collections are great because you are getting multiple games and at price less than a newer one.  If you like action, and havent played the first God of War, it is a shame.  Because Kratos, the character you play as, on a quest to kill a god, grinds his way through more enemies than you can shake a stick at.  And in a uniquely brutal fashion.  Honestly, you cant go wrong with a collection of some of the best-selling games ever to hit the PS2.

6. Infamous

Alright, so the sequel is out already, and that is pretty good too in terms of bang for your buck.  But because the sequel is already out, the original is even less exspensive, and you are more likely to get a deal.  Infamous drops you in a city that has been ripped apart by an unknown cataclysm, than struck by plauges and disease.  Quaratined from the outside world, the city is controlled by gangs, and the people have nowhere to turn to.  Except you, for some unknown reason you have gained superpowers from the intial blast, you have control over electricty and magnatism, with all the fun that entails.  Not to mention a whole city to explore, think of it like Assassins Creed with superpowers, and you get the idea.  Plus, those powers are customizable and upgradeable.  And your actions, good or evil, determine how they are used.  Lots of action + lots of adventure + couple of choices + superpowers = fun.

5. The Rachet and Clank series

It is worth noting that both number five and number four go to Rachet and Clank, and for good reason.  Each and every Rachet and Clank has been better than the last, and the very first one on the PS2 is one of the best games ever made, so it is fair to say that this series has high expectations and exceeds them every time.  How can you go wrong with tons of fantasitc weapons and tons of enemies to use them on?  Plus it is fun for any age group, and the latest one out All4One, is designed for four people to play the main story line, which is unheard of in gaming.  Of course, it is still playable on single player, so dont worry if you are a loner.  I have played through every Rachet and Clank game at least three times, sometimes more along the lines of ten times, you simply cant go wrong.

4. The Rachet and Clank Collection

Ok, ok.  So at the time of this post, it has not been officially released.  But come one, before R&C Tools of Destruction came out as the first PS3 R&C game, there were FOUR games released for the PS2, Rachet and Clank, Rachet and Clank: Going Commando, Rachet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, and Rachet: Deadlocked.  Each and every one was an awesome game by itself, the last two, Up your Arsenal and Deadlocked are, as far as I am concerned, the two best games in a series of absolutely fantastic games.  We are talking hundreds of hours of playtime here, and if the price tag is $100, then that is only $25 a game, and each has been remasterd for the PS3 graphics.  What more could you want?

3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The top three games on this list really deserve their titles.  We are talking about games that are so well produced, that the asking price of $60 seems cheap.  Games that are like Icarus, only that they fly higher and when the wings melt they turn it into an olympic dive with more twists and turns than any gold medaltist could hope for.

Entering into that arena is Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  IGN describes the hype for this game like icarus as well, wondering if they would fly to close to the sun of expectation and crash and burn.  Only that they didnt fall, but flew on taking all the heat and delivering only the best.

Set in the year 2027, humans now have the abillity to augement themselves with mechanical parts.  You are Adam Jennsen, the Head of Secruity for the biotech corporation Sarrif Industries, and the game begins the day before your company is set to announce a major discovery to the world.

Then, an unkown force breaks in, kills the sceintists and nearly kills Adam.  Adam goes into surgery almost dead, and leaves with more circuts and features than anything you have ever seen to embark on a gripping tale of conspiracy and ethics, of advancement and humanity, and of duty and determenation.  Action and adventure lurks in every corner, and you are fully customizable to become the ultimate tank, who takes and dishes out damage like nobodies business, or a sneak who can turn invisible and specializes in close quarters kills and submissions, or even a tech head who uses an enemies turrets, cameras, and robots against them.

No matter which you choose you will gain experience, and there is always multiple ways to accomplsih your goal.

And on that note, Deus Ex boasts something unheard of in modern action games.  You dont have to kill anyone.  Yes, you read that right.  You dont have to kill a single person, alternatively you could kill them all of course, but you are never forced to kill.  (with the exception of three boss fights.) and there is a trophy for completing the game without killing a soul. 

This game has it all:  action, adventure, choice, and consequence.  You have to have it, and it is worth every penny you spend.

2.  The Dragon Age series

Playing these games raised the bar in my mind for all other games, afterwards, I expected that peoples faces should look real both in cutscenes and out.  That when a person has an emotion, it should show.  That when I make a choice, there will be consequences for it and that those consequences will not only shape the world in ways that I might not be able to forsee, but the games I play afterwards too.

These games are all about choice and consequence, and every choice you make is important.  They are beautiful and boast people with actual expressions.  The action and story are equally amazing, espcially since your choices dictate the course of both.

Honestly, I do not have the words to describe how awesome these games are.  They are simply some of the best, and if you dont have them, you are missing out.

1.  The Elder Scrolls series

Many years ago, I stumbled across a game called Morrowind, and I have never been the same since.  They are like no other game out there, as they have more choices and openeness than any other game before or since.  I still play Morrowind today, because on the PC they can be modded by anyone exstensively and for free.

Truly there is no limit to these games, and that is why they are on top.  Simply search for mods online and you will find libraries of them, a limitless supply of modifications to improve your game.  And the games are practically perfect without these improvements! 

Like Dragon Age, words are not enough to describe these games.  Try them, you wont regret it.

And that is everything, the top 10 games, or series for your dollar.  Each and every one is good, and packed with more content than you might even be able to get through, and worth every cent you put down for it.



et cetera