A new piece of DLC is coming for Dragon Age II called Mark of the Assassin. But I’m done with Dragon Age II. I played it, enjoyed it despite some flaws, beat it, and plan to go back to it eventually (i.e. sometime before Dragon Age III). However, this coming DLC has piqued my interest due in no part to its content, but rather to its creator.
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First, congratulations on the conclusion of the Gears of War series. As someone who has shared more than a few toasts of rum and coke with the esteemed series, I can honestly say that it’s been a great run from start to finish. However, I was a little taken aback by your reaction to Jim Sterling’s review of the game on Eurogamer. As I understand it, the score of eight out of ten upset you somewhat, and you are convinced that Gears of War 3 deserves a perfect (or indistinguishable from perfect) review. While I agree that Gears of War 3 ought to be perfect, I would like to respectfully argue that it isn’t.
To begin with, let’s look at the first two games before I point out the imperfections of the finale. When the first Gears of War was released, there wasn’t anything quite like it. There were plenty of hive-minded aliens, rugged fridge-man hybrids, and even a few third-person over the shoulder shooters. But combining cover-based shooting, co-op, and a small group of heroes that truly felt alone against an endless onslaught was a unique chemistry that hadn’t been tested before and the mix worked very well.
Marcus Fenix doesn’t come across as a particularly complex character. His bombastic attitude and beefy proportions complement the type of game he inhabits. He is, however, an imposing character and the Gears of War series stands as one of the giants of this console generation. The games symbolizes important trends of the last few years, offering a look at conventions that shaped the medium as well as glimpses of what the future might hold. Certainly, Gears‘s successes are impressive and their characters have become iconic, but Gears of War 3 has revealed a deeper metaphorical layer underneath its characters’ bravado. As important as Marcus and the rest of his crew were, their uncertain future acts as an allegory of the Gears series and its uncertain future.
Y’know, I was terribly amused by the parody of the long term grind (that which is necessitated by the turn-based role playing game genre in general) in Half-Minute Hero. Half-Minute Hero more or less does what it suggests by boiling the time consuming “play” of that genre into the shortest character development of a role playing hero possible.
Gone, in that game, is the necessity for spending hours just killing, killing, killing in order to get strong enough to advance the plot by beating the next big boss in a dungeon. Indeed, while I whiled away many an hour playing JRPGs as a kid and as a teenager, these were not games that required much skill or even intellectual acumen. Winning a battle required pressing a button in a menu to “Attack” and then healing once in awhile if a member of your party was in the danger zone in terms of their hit points. All the “skill” required by a boatload of turn-based RPGs is simply just persistence (and that’s really a character trait, not a skill, right?).
This is partly why I tend to avoid turn-based RPGs these days—as my own “persistence” has evolved into simple “impatience” as I have aged alongside the genre.
Which is why League of Legends is so very tantalizing and so very compelling when played in short RPG-lite bursts.
So, our Moving Pixels podcast crew spent a couple of weeks playing in fits and starts (well, because that’s the way you have to play social games) the beta version of Sid Meier’s CivWorld.
The game seems an effort to capture a narrower audience of Facebook gamers, a more hardcore crowd, or possibly to introduce casual players to the Civilization universe. We consider the game’s success at doing so and whether or not social games can legitimately appeal to a hardcore audience.