No, that's not a typo.
You see I've been thinking about Dragon Age 2 a bit recently. I loved Dragon Age: Origins to bits (just don't get me started on the poor DLC).
In November 2009 and January 2010 Bioware hit us with the double-whammy that was Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. Now, ME2 is my personal favourite single player title of all time, but I love DA:O too, for different reasons. Ostensibly both are role-playing games, but they are as different as apples and oranges. Of the two DA:O is much more in the mould of an old-school RPG, along the lines of the awesome Baldur's Gate series. You know the score; tactical combat, massive inventory management, creating a character from scratch, skill points to spend on feats and spells, that kind of thing.
When Dragon Age 2 was announced I got excited. Then the first details started to emerge and I got disappointed. Actually, the changes they were making sounded about as enticing as an E.coli sandwich. The sequel was going to feature a pre-made character (Hawke), fully voiced cut scenes with radial dialogue choices, and action-oriented combat. They were turning it into Mass Effect.
Like I said, I love Mass Effect 2. If anything I love it a little bit too much. I must admit, when I went to DA:O after playing ME2 the dialogue scenes felt stilted (you mean my character doesn't speak? he just stands there looking dumb and surly?!), and the voice acting was poor in comparison. It didn't matter though - they are both very different games. By turning the Dragon Age sequel into a fantasy version Mass Effect they were destroying what made it unique!
Then the leaked gameplay footage arrived. Oh. Dear. Lord. It looked like a bad version of the Dynasty Warriors or Devil May Cry button-bashers. Those might be perfectly good games (not my cup of rosie though), but they are not Dragon Age!
Well, my fears have been put to rest somewhat since then. First with the information that the leaked footage was from the X-Box version of the game, and the PC version will have a similar control method to the original. Secondly by the news that the footage was a typical Bioware story twist. The game apparently starts in this way, but it soon becomes clear that that this is a story being told about Hawke by a dwarf who is exaggerating events somewhat. He is interrupted, the story disputed, and the true story retold, and things switch back to how we would expect a DA title to be and the scene plays out very differently.
Then I read a new article on NowGamer which has got me looking forwards to the game again (well worth a read if you are interested in DA2). The framed narrative device sounds like an interesting new development for Bioware games, allowing the player to develop a character over an entire decade of their life. Talent trees and skills are still in the game, and in fact offer even more than the original game in their potential for character customization. Tactical combat is still an integral part of the game. A new rivalry system will make interacting with your companions more realistic.
In fact, it looks like they might just be taking the best of DA:O and adding some of the best things from ME. I'm just hoping its not the usual pre-release hype. I guess I'll find out next March, but for now DA2 is back on my watch list.
In other news... I've been spreading my game time between playing Civ V and AoC. Now my wife is working evenings again it frees me up a little to play AoC some more, so I've been enjoying that. She was getting annoyingly good at kicking my ass in Civ V (I mean, not just a bit, but totally whupping me - it's very embarassing).
Anyway, AoC is still fun, but starting to get a little grindy now (I'm now up to level 49). The Villas in Tarantia Noble District have started to become very repetitive - thank goodness I have a high sneak skill and can sneak past most of the guards. I've been signing up for pvp every night too, but there are too few people around at my level for the games to start. Perhaps I'll use some of my free levels soon.
Finally, I managed to catch the leaked gameplay presentation from Duke Nukem Forever. You know, that game that was supposed to come out twelve years ago?! Anyway, it made me laugh, especially the end sequence. Totally NSFW and typically puerile, but very funny all the same. I almost certainly won't buy it, but it does look like it may almost be worth the wait, which is a huge surprise. You can find the video here if you are interested.