Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dragon Age : Origins

Well, considering that this is what I've been doing with my time the last week and something, I thought it only reasonable to make a short review of the game right here. So without further wish wash talk : Dragon Age : Origins.

A note though before we start. I shall be comparing this game a lot with Baldur's Gate 2 considering the developers at Bioware considered it the "spiritual successor" of it.

The plot (thickens)
Well... truth be told, it does not. There's nothing that makes the main plot in any way surprising. It's simple and straight forward and while the game offers a lot of choices to go through with it, I didn't find the patience to go through all of the possible endings. It is an enticing story, but nothing more. (I could go into great detail about it, but I fear spoilers). If I were to rate it, I'd give it an 8, for good writing, but not further up on accounts of predictability and straightforwardness.

The Characters (maybe fonts?)
Well well well... to tell the truth, it has been an extremely long while since I've seen such well made characters in any game. All of them are memorable and fun and the voice acting is brilliant. There are romance points in the game with more than one person (seems that they learned their lesson from Neverwinter Nights 2) and all of those that I found were unique and interesting in their own way. Also the game tackles the gay (male, and I would suspect female - I didn't try that out) relationships that most other games would not touch, and I sincerely applaud them for making Zevran a very likeable character. I'd not put him past reaching the epicness of Boo. If I had to rate it I think a 10 would be sufficient, because the characters border perfection.

The Graphics (are eye candy)
To say that a game has good graphics these days is like saying it comes in a box. We have achieved a good place in time when the eye candy of a game is really important, but considering all that's out there, all the sources of inspiration etc, etc, etc, you'd have to be a blind wombat not to be able to get it right. What we can talk about is how well optimized the game is, and to tell the truth, I'm not really sure. My computer had a few hitches here and there on almost full graphics but overall it was a pleasant experience so 9 would be sufficient.

The soundtrack (chuuu chuuu!)
To put it simply... it is great... at a point one of the characters sings and I loaded the game up 3 times just to hear that... It was that awesome...

The gameplay (tossing and turning)
This is the point where I take out my PC is the master race hat and wave my flag around. This game has the same problem as all the games that are made with gaming consoles in on the prime plane. You can clearly tell when a game has that in mind and you can see it clearly in Dragon Age origins. The controls are simple enough, and the interface is okay, but the way the game works, simply puts me a bit off it. It's a certain je ne sais quoi that the game has, as opposed to, say The Witcher which is a PC exclusive title. Areas are relatively small and have very little branches or liberty of movement... I once got killed by a monster because the character I was controlling got caught in a twig. I kid you not. That's not the sort of collision detection that a game in this day and age should have. But enough of my ranting... while the game smells of console like socks in a gym bag, it doesn't really ruin the experience, and then again there are some out there who are not PC master racists like myself, so I find it unfair to give the game less than 8.

Replayability (dragon is replayable)
The game has 5 origin stories which are all well written and it is said that the world reacts to you depending on your origin. The differences as far as I played in the main story, are minor concerning NPCs but enough to warrant a replay out of the more dedicated fans... or maybe myself when I'll be bored again. Also, being the experienced gamer that I am, I think the almost a week of constant playing says much about the game's length.

All in all it's a good game, and I compared it to Baldur's Gate 2 far less than I expected to. It definitely deserves a buying but the spiritual or otherwise successor of Baldur's Gate 2, Dragon Age : Origins is not.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The cat / The house on the canal

The Cat / The house on the canal
By Georges Simenon

"Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was a Belgian writer. A prolific author who published nearly 200 novels and numerous short works, Simenon is best known for the creation of the fictional detective Maigret."

The book I got my hands on had the two aforementioned titles (which are two short stories) on it, but as the wikipedia article suggests, Mr Simenon had written a lot more novels and short works. His writing style is interesting but the object of these two stories are rather unexciting.

The Cat, says the story of a grumpy old couple who communicate by throwing notes to each other. And the rest of the story is saying how that came to be and what the main character does in reaction to that, which is not much. I mean, it's not like he'll be able to go on a journey of self-discovery and come back to see the world and his wife with new eyes. No, the novel is more realistic than that.

The house on the canal, is a bit more interesting as far as action is concerned, and while people die in it, I can't find any sort of interest in the trials and tribulations of a girl that was forced by the death of her father to move to the country with her cousins. While some rather peculiar things happen, and her odd behaviour and thought patterns are incentive enough to want to know what happens next, ultimately I couldn't wait to end this book as well and to start reading something else.

Overall, it was not a waste of time, but if presented a more interesting book, I would have read it. I have not found a quote from either of these two novels in the 5 second attempt that I had, so there won't be any. I won't be bothered to do more for a book that left me indifferent.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wuthering Heights

It's been a while but here's the next book I read. I'm a few books after this one, but I couldn't be bothered to write... something about the lecture seeping into my mind.

Wuthering Heights
By Emily Jane Bronte
"Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte.
The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centers (as an adjective, Wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather). The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.
Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative's stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty. Though Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was originally considered the best of the Brontë sisters' works, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that its originality and achievement made it superior. Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, ballet, opera, and song (notably the Kate Bush hit "Wuthering Heights")."

In a nutshell
I was rather unlucky after reading my last book to find myself in the situation to read about yet more nobles and the situations in which they live. The narrator changes a few times but that doesn't do much to disrupt the flow of the story. It's a frame story as some literary critics might want to call it.

The story itself is interesting enough, I might say, but sincerely, I'd have rather skipped it. Aside from the ending characters, I found myself lacking the power to like the main characters of the story and the fake main character, as I like to call him (is the first narrator, then the narration is taken over by his maid, which continues on with the rest of the story) is the one I personally would have liked to hear more about. That's how boring the story was.

The author gave poetic justice in the end, but the fact that the fake main character had no input on the happenings of evens in the whole book, I found it a bit lacking. Maybe it's me, maybe it is cause I really had trouble giving a damn about those others, and the story is quite interesting... But to tell the truth I didn't find it so... maybe I was just unlucky to read it so soon after Pride and Prejudice... ah well.

"I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.
'Mr. Heathcliff?' I said.
A nod was the answer.
'Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of calling as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts - '
'Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,' he interrupted, wincing. 'I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it - walk in!'
The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, 'Go to the Deuce:' even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself." ~Wuthering Heights, Chapter 1