Tag Archives: Dragon Age: Origins

Geeky Comforts for Sick Days

It’s November, the holidays are coming, and the cold, rainy weather is finally here (here in San Francisco, at least!). I love fall and winter, but their arrival also means that flu season is officially upon us. Nobody likes to be sick, but there are a few things that can keep us going when we have to take a day off to recover — especially all of our geeky things like certain video games, TV shows, and movies. We love them at any time, but they’re an even bigger comfort when we’re not feeling ourselves.

VIDEO GAMES

Sometimes when you're sick you just need to kill some ogres.
Sometimes, when you’re sick… you just need to kill some ogres.

Video games are the greatest for getting through sick days. It’s so helpful to forget about whatever is ailing us and lose ourselves in a video game world for a few hours. And sometimes, by the end of the day when we finally turn off our console as roommates or family members come home from work, enough time has passed that we feel loads better.

My favorite games for sick days are Dragon Age: Origins and indie games like To the Moon that emphasize story over gameplay — nothing too fast-paced or strenuous when I’m sick, because too much action and high volume can make me feel worse. Dragon Age is a special favorite for me because I have a long history with that game and have played it many times. There’s something comforting about going through the motions of a game I already know by heart and enjoying it all over again.

TELEVISION

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When I’m too sick to game, TV show marathons are where it’s at. They take our minds off the way we’re feeling and help us zone out. If we’re lucky, we might even be able to snooze in front of the TV.

I usually start out my sick days browsing Netflix for a good show to marathon, and geek TV is always a top choice. Sometimes I’ll take the opportunity to catch up on a show like The Walking Dead or Continuum. Doctor Who is a favorite for its slightly cheesy humor that’s perfect when I’m not feeling well. Other times, a comedy will cheer me up.

But the best remedy seems to be cartoons. Two of my favorites are Archer for some humor or Young Justice because it is simply awesome. The cartoon format, even with a mature comedy like Archer or South Park, reminds me of what it was like to stay home from school as a kid watching TV and having my parents take care of me. Even if I’m on my own for the day having to take care of myself, it’s comforting to have something silly on in the background!

MOVIES

Serenity

It seems like everyone I know has a “sick day movie.” Once we start associating a certain movie with being sick, it becomes a huge comfort whenever we watch it — but it’s a little different for everyone. I know a couple of people who always, without fail, watch The Princess Bride when they’re home sick. They grew up doing that, and they carry on the tradition as adults, too. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is another great pick (and very fitting), and I’ve heard people who watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies or lots of Star Wars to pass the day, too.

My comfort movie lately has been Serenity. I’ve watched it so many times that I have a lot of it memorized, which makes it the perfect movie for me when I need a little zone-out time. Even though I love the story and action, having Serenity just about memorized means that I’m now able to sink into the familiar setting and relax with it more than I can with any other movie. Plus, spending time with beloved characters is somehow soothing when I’m feeling my worst.

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Bottom Line: It’s no fun being sick, but being a geek seems to help. Also, all of these things go well with soup and orange juice. =)

— Ashley

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BioWare Romances: My Personal Top 5

Anyone who follows my blog Robo♥beat probably knows by now that I’m a huge BioWare fangirl. I love the stories, characters, settings, combat… and the romances. I can understand people skipping the romances as a waste of time, but the way I see it, the romances add emotional depth to the already gripping stories, create more motivation for the protagonists, and provide new and interesting ways to get to know the NPCs. They’re entirely optional, but I always pursue romances in BioWare games. They’re part of the fun.

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There are many intriguing relationships you can pursue in BioWare games, and I’d round out a top 10 list with Liara T’Soni (Mass Effect), Isabela (Dragon Age 2), Kaidan Alenko (Mass Effect), Jack (Mass Effect), and Fenris (Dragon Age 2) being in the running. But if I have to pare down my list to just my very favorites, these are my top five BioWare romances.

5. Zevran (Dragon Age: Origins)

ZevranThe elf Zevran is extremely charming from the start, which is exactly why I didn’t like or trust him when I first played Dragon Age: Origins. He’s an Antivan Crow — an assassin — and the first time he sees your Warden, he’s supposed to kill you. When that doesn’t go as planned, he negotiates his way into your party, woos you with tales of Antiva, and eventually flirts you into his tent for a massage… and stuff. It’s easy to brush off his romance as a fling if you’re into someone else in the game, which is what I did at first.

But recently I replayed DA:O and decided to romance him for a change of pace. And I’m so happy I did, because winning him over for the long-run is a rewarding challenge if your character really falls for him. What I like most about him is that he can be romantic and chivalrous, but he also respects your character as a warrior and is never overly sentimental. Even when he commits, he doesn’t lose that side of himself that’s a little irreverent.

4. Tali (Mass Effect)

tali4It’s hard to think of anyone who can match Tali’s unique cocktail of intelligence, sweetness, and the occasional bit of “babbling like an idiot,” as she says about herself. She lets down her guard to become one of Shepard’s closest friends, and occasionally she gets drunk… very carefully. It’s hard not to love Tali, but I never had much use for her in my squad during early playthroughs of Mass Effect.

That’s why I had to dedicate a playthrough to having her around and trying out her romance with a male Shepard. Romance her, and she opens up with some of the most stirring dialogue in the Mass Effect games… seriously. If she’s going to jump your Shepard, she has to not only let down her guard but also take off her mask… but a smart girl with an accent who’s willing to take antibiotics to be with Shepard? She’s worth the wait.

3. Aric Jorgan (Star Wars: The Old Republic)

aricThis is a very personal choice, I know… but I just love Aric Jorgan. And let’s be honest: he’s not hot for his looks; he’s a pretty tough-looking Cathar with bright green eyes. But he’s a slow, hard woo, which makes him perfect for any woman who likes rough-around-the-edges. Sure, he digs through your character’s private records to find out if you’re up to the challenge of leading Havoc Squad. But he’s a soldier first and foremost — so of course winning him over will take time. You just have to be patient and put up with his gruffness for a while.

First, you’ll notice that flirting with anyone else drives this guy up the wall. Later, after teaming up on missions, you realize you’ve earned his respect — and he’s into more than just “barking orders and sniping Imperials.” But don’t expect romancing him to completely whisk the soldier out of him; one of his most romantic lines involves him offering you the “position” of being his wife. Really, this guy can only take so much heartfelt sentiment in one day, and that’s kind of cool.

2. Alistair (Dragon Age: Origins)

AlistairOh, Alistair. This was my first BioWare romance in my first BioWare game, and there’s a reason he holds such a special place in the hearts of so many Dragon Age: Origins players. He’s a Templar — actually, it turns out, a bastard prince — and just when you think he’s suave, he fumbles into awkwardness as your Grey Warden attempts to hit on him. Although he often hides behind sarcasm when you ask him personal questions, he eventually opens up to the Warden and appreciates others with a sense of humor, too.

But maybe the coolest thing about Alistair is that there’s not a huge need to chase after him; he’s an old-fashioned romantic at heart, giving you a rose and eventually confessing his feelings for your Warden after the two of you have built up an emotional connection. It’s old-fashioned romance that you don’t see a lot of these days. And if you play your cards right, he can even end up king to your queen… or mistress. Which is still romantic, trust me.

1. Garrus (Mass Effect)

Sometimes this is my computer backdrop, okay?

When I first started playing the Mass Effect series, I romanced Kaidan Alenko (also a great romance) because Garrus was not a boyfriend option in the first game — but try as I might to remain loyal to Kaidan in ME2, all I could think was how much I really, really liked Garrus. He is Commander Shepard’s most loyal friend, with a great combination of sarcasm, badassery, and always the most heartfelt intentions. When I got to Mass Effect 3, Kaidan was there and all… but all I could think was where the hell is my turian and when can I recruit him?!

So I stopped playing ME3, restarted ME2, and romanced Garrus so I could carry on with him as my Shepard’s true love in my canon playthrough of the series. If you romance him, you get to see his awkward side (mainly in ME2) as well as how suave he can be (mainly in ME3), which is why I consider him one of the most well-rounded and interesting video game characters ever. Being able to get to know him over the course of three games builds up quite an attachment, too. Now it’s hard for me to romance anyone but him when I play Mass Effect, because he’s really the whole package. Except for being fictional and stuff. =)

— Ashley

A Week In Gaming: Dragon Age II

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This week I decided to give Dragon Age II a shot. I previously confessed that I did not particularly care for Dragon Age: Origins due to the clunky gameplay and slow start, but I have been told that Dragon Age II would be more fitting for me, combat and pace-wise. I really enjoyed what little of the storyline I witnessed but I just could never bring myself to play it much, because of that I decided to dig in to the second game in the series.

I started off by picking a class and a gender and I chose a female mage. When I was a bit younger I really liked to play as warrior-type classes due to brute force and strength, but now that I’m a bit more experienced I prefer battle-mage’s or just the mage class in general. I typically find myself being a better support character than anything else so being a mage who stands back and attacks enemies or heals my allies feels right. My favorite character in Dragon Age: Origins was an elven mage, so it makes sense that I would choose that class again in Dragon Age II. My first contact with the Dark Spawn proved to me that my choice was the right one, mage combat is outrageously smooth in Dragon Age II.

I think that so far the combat is my favorite part of the game. It is so smooth compared to that of Dragon Age: Origins and it feels like something I will really enjoy throughout the game. I like being able to switch between characters, so that if Hawke dies I can control someone else, or if I want to use someone else’s powers I can. It’s much better than a game over or worthless allies. I like the amount of powers or abilities you have at your disposal in these games as well, it was the same with Origins as it is with this one and I really like that in both games. Having two tiers of powers/abilities to work with (six total) is really helpful as the game progresses, it seems.

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So far the few characters I have met have been pretty cool. My character’s brother, Carver, is kind of annoying but I got over it. He is always mad at me for some reason, I think it’s because I am a mage. Aveline is a really fun character, I like her a lot so far. I think she will be one of my favorites in this game. Varric seems like an interesting character too, though I only just met him. The characters seem to have a lot of depth, which is something that Bioware is good at creating in their games.

One of my favorite Bioware trademarks is the plethora of dialog options in their games and Dragon Age II is no exception. One of my favorite things about the Mass Effect series is the amount of information you can get out of conversations and the ability to choose your character’s responses. Dragon Age 2 has the same sort of in-depth dialog and I really love it. It helps someone like me who missed out on the first game learn more about the world and what has happened in the past as well as what is going on now.

I’m not very far into this game at all but I can say with confidence that I will keep pushing further into it because I really like it so far. I know a lot of people had very legitimate complaints about the lack of unique environments used in Dragon Age 2 and whatnot but regardless I think I will enjoy playing through this game. It should get me somewhat ready for Dragon Age Inquisition, which I know everyone is really looking forward to!

Combat and Magery in “Dragon Age: Origins”

Dragon Age: Origins is one of the first video games I played as an adult, and it got me hooked on gaming. Without it, I might not be here writing this today, and my life might have taken a very different path. I love Dragon Age: Origins for the clear story, feeling of heroism, character development, and romance. The fact that I started playing it for the first time on my birthday makes it feel even more epic in retrospect, and I’ve since played it a handful of other times. I’m just flat out in love with the game.

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Unfortunately, many people complain about the combat system in Dragon Age: Origins, and I can totally see why. The combat tries to be fast-hitting but instead feels clunky and far too methodical. The system might befit a turn-based tactical game, but it doesn’t quite work for this particular type of RPG battling.

Initially I played on Xbox 360, which requires awkwardly holding down buttons to view and navigate menus during combat – and if you lose your grip on that first button, you’re screwed. The menu goes away, the battle starts up again, and you’ve got to start over with finding that special combat move you want to do or that health poultice that’s about to bring you back from the brink of death, if you get to it in time.

66 Missed one riddle, just ONE!

After a few playthroughs on 360, I started playing on PC and had a much better time of it. (You can read my whole crazy playthrough of the game here!) The game is initially set up to pause the game as soon as combat initiates, giving you a chance to set up an attack. It was much easier to program my moves by having them laid out on the screen, as only a computer screen can show. I did have a bit of trouble with clicking on NPCs and loot chests when my character was blocking the way, but playing on PC, I had an easy time of scrolling the mouse wheel backwards to zoom out and up. This gave me a tactical view of the playing field, making combat particularly interesting. It was also a breeze to click on different characters in my party, hit the spacebar to pause combat, and set up the party members’ tactics one by one – with no pesky menu wheels to manage.

However, these improvements do not eliminate the problem of the combat feeling weighed down, heavy… slow. I played mostly as a rogue – first a two-handed wielder, then an archer – and I found the second class almost unplayable because my girl sent out arrows so haltingly, even if she did look kickass with a crossbow.

The methodical style simply doesn’t work well for most classes. When you’re a rogue wielding a couple of daggers, you pretty much want to target the enemy right in front of you – and you want to deal damage, fast. On PC, this means adjusting settings so combat doesn’t automatically pause at the start of a battle. It means you don’t necessarily need that tactical view of the battlefield, unless you want to jump skins from character to character to deal damage all over the field. And on any console, you probably want the game to clip along at a much faster pace while you’re delivering hits.

What I found myself doing during the archer playthrough was jumping over to control Morrigan, my party’s primary mage and healer. I had played as a mage before and enjoyed the sheer number of relevant spellcasting options; the skill tree for mages is easily the most rewarding, partly because everything applies to them – whereas with other classes, you might only choose the archery options versus the dual-wielding, etc. Plus, I always feel better about things when I’m the healer in the party. When I have a choice of paths and one involves healing, I always go for the healing. I did that in Star Wars: The Old Republic with my Imperial Agent, because I just couldn’t pass up the Operative’s medic abilities.

Mages can also freeze dragons...
Mages can also freeze dragons…

But there’s another benefit to playing as a mage in Dragon Age: Origins: the deliberate combat style suits the mage more than any other class. Magic is largely about crowd control, in my opinion, and pausing combat to choose my spell and select the area of effect worked beautifully. It’s hard to fast-target enemies with crowd control spells, such as casting an inferno of fire into a wave of genlocks; it’s much easier to pause combat, move the camera around to spot that distant enemy mage, and freeze him in his tracks with Winter’s Grasp while the rest of the party deals with the genlocks in close quarters combat.

I still enjoy the combat in Dragon Age: Origins, playing as any character class. But for new players and anyone frustrated with the system’s clunkiness, I highly recommend playing as a mage on PC to take full advantage of the meticulous battling style that punctuates the Dragon Age: Origins experience.

— Ashley

Flemeth, Sandal, and More Dragon Age Theories

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I have said several times that one of my favorite things about the Dragon Age series is the mystery that surrounds it, often through the characters. What makes this fun is the fact that these mysteries have allowed people to develop their own theories and predictions of what is to come in the later installation(s), and of course… I had to come up with my own. What I ramble about below should be taken lightly. My mind can develop some strange thoughts, and things mentioned below could be so farfetched that I should be legitimately claimed as insane.

Why is it called Dragon Age?

There are dragons in Dragon Age, but they do not necessarily hold enough presence to create a revealing title. Dragon Age: Origins focuses on the Blight and Dragon Age 2 focuses on the rumblings of religious, racial, and theological differences (mages, Templars, Qunari). When I received the two Dragon Age games, I knew absolutely nothing about them. I assumed they were medieval-type dragon-slaying RPG games and nothing more.

This is one thing I enjoy about mystery: While you are focused on the present, more dramatic events, the true story is rumbling in the background unnoticed and unchecked. There is no denying that there have been hints about what is truly happening, but let’s get back to the dragons.

In the days of the Tevinter Imperium, the Old Gods were a pantheon of deities revered by most citizens. The mages, however, worshipped them in the form of dragons. Legend says that it was the Old Gods who initially taught mages how to use magic. It is also believed that the archdemons are the sleeping Old Gods, tainted and corrupted by the darkspawn. Dragon imagery and iconography was equated with imperial power throughout the Imperium.

Out of seven Old Gods, three still exist at the start of Dragon Age: Origins:

Urthemiel – the Dragon of Beauty and the archdemon of the Fifth Blight (slain in DA:O)

Razikale – the Dragon of Mystery

Lusacan – the Dragon of Night

 

What is Flemeth?

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“We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment… and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.”

The Witch of the Wilds, Asha’bellanar, an old hag that talks too much… Flemeth contains several titles and the majority of the mystery that attracts me into the lore of the Dragon Age universe. Flemeth has two known daughters: Morrigan and Yavana (known as an Antivan Witch of the Wilds), and is said to have attracted Templars to their deaths in the wilds. In DA:O, Morrigan reveals that Flemeth “is not a blood mage, not an abomination, and not even truly human.”

So what is she? Considering that she can become a dragon… could this mean that Flemeth may possibly be an Old God? It is obvious that she is some type of oracle, and in a way her cryptic presence reminds me of the Fates (look up Greek mythology). Is Morrigan and Yavana actually daughters of Flemeth, or could they perhaps actually be other forms of this mystical being without even knowing? Whether or not that could be true, it is an interesting thought.

What is Sandal?

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Enchantment?

Sandal is one of my favorite characters in the series and he is a massive mystery inside of the Dragon Age lore that I look forward to solving. Found by his adoptive father Bodahn in the Deep Roads, Sandal offers his skills to enchant weapons and armor with runes. Bodahn claims that the Circle of Magi declared Sandal a savant, and because of that, is unable to properly take care of himself. He has a limited mental capacity, often replying with one word answers.

His character becomes strangely chilling in Dragon Age 2, even after mysteriously killing darkspawn (much like in DA:O). While living with Hawke, initiating a conversation with Sandal can pull out this quote: “One day the magic will come back. All of it. Everyone will be just like they were. The shadows will part, and the skies will open wide. When he rises, everyone will see.”

Could this imply that dwarves had once carried the ability to use magic? If so, what does this make Sandal? Some people have theorized that he could, in fact, be an Old God. Maybe he could be one of the two remaining. A theory I enjoy tossing around is the possibility that Sandal is a half dwarf, half human mage. Bodahn finding Sandal in the Deep Roads would make more sense considering that such a child would be deemed casteless.

 In dwarven society, children inherit the caste of their same-sex parent. If Sandal’s father was a human mage, he could be thrown away as casteless, particularly to keep the mother from being shunned as well. Zerlinda, a casteless dwarf in DA:O, explains that she had fallen in love and had a son with a casteless man. Because of this, her own family throws her out unless she decides to abandon her child in the Deep Roads.  

So maybe Sandal is simply a crossbred mage and nothing more, but in DA2, he also talks about an old lady with a scary laugh. I automatically assume that this is Flemeth he is seeing. And if it’s actually her… what could this mean? Is Sandal another tool in Flemeth’s unknown plan? Does she know that something powerful rests inside of him? Or is Sandal a very good actor that’s hiding his own secrets?

More importantly, what could all of this mean inside of the war between mages and templars that will no doubt be present in Dragon Age: Inquisition?

Better yet, what do you think?

A Week In Gaming – Sleeping Dogs and Dragon Age: Origins

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Hello again everyone, and welcome to another “A Week In Gaming” post! This week I will talk all about my adventures in Sleeping Dogs, the newest game in my collection. I will also tell you all about my re-adventures (so to speak) in Dragon Age: Origins. So sit down, get comfortable, and prepare to take a look into my week in gaming.

Sleeping Dogs

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Sleeping Dogs was added to the PlayStation Plus free game list this week, so naturally I downloaded it. It came as a bundle pack with all the DLC’s, which would regularly cost $59.99 but is now free to PlayStation Plus subscribers which pays for the subscription in itself. I had never purchased or played this game before due to the fact that I wasn’t really sure if I’d even like it, to be honest. Since it’s a lot like the Grand Theft Auto games in a very basic way and I didn’t care for those games, I figured I wouldn’t like this one. It came as quite a surprise to me when I couldn’t put the controller down, I found the game to be totally enticing and I even craved playing it when I wasn’t at home.

I think part of this, in comparison to my dislike of Grand Theft Auto, is because the main character is an undercover cop. I am going into law enforcement and found this aspect to be particularly interesting. I just don’t care to play the typical gangster/thug/criminal character, which is why the GTA series didn’t appeal to me other than for just driving around and causing trouble. I feel like the main character, Wei Shen, is very relatable and personable and I can understand his struggles. Throughout the game he is constantly in fear of either breaking his cover and being killed by the gang he is infiltrating or turning his back on the police he works for and becoming a part of the gang. It’s a constant struggle and it build character, in my opinion.

On top of all that, the gameplay is ridiculously fun. Kung Fu style combat takes place all the time, it’s not all guns and weapons, most of the fighting sequences occur fist-to-fist. Guns and other weapons are also involved, but I find the hand-to-hand combat to be much more enjoyable and interactive. It’s a lot of fun to play a game that embodies a lot of cool mechanics, such as fun driving and combat as well as an interesting story and characters.

Dragon Age: Origins

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Dragon Age seems to be a really popular series, yet for some reason I can never seem to get into it. I bought the Dragon Age: Origins bundle pack a couple of years ago and have yet to get more than 3 or so hours into it before I give up. It’s weird, mentally I want to play it but I can’t physically get over the slow-paced combat style. For some people that combat style is the best but I am picky with RPG’s and prefer action RPG’s like Mass Effect 3 to the straight up RPG style of Dragon Age. We all know that RPG doesn’t just describe the interactive play-style but it also describes the general gameplay. I’ve always been very hit and miss with RPGs, for instance I love the Elder Scrolls series but can’t seem to get into the Fallout series, which is very contradictory to my previous statement regarding action RPG vs. standard RPG. I know, I’m weird.

I’ve been told that the combat in the second game is a little better, but that the game itself isn’t as good as the first. I really want to finish the first one and move on to the second one, especially since Dragon Age 3 has been announced. Anyway, I restarted Dragon Age: Origins with a new character and am officially giving it another shot in between all the other games I need to play. I’m sure sometime in the near future I’ll bring this game up again for another week in gaming post.

That’s it for this week. Next week I should be discussing Resident Evil Revelations as well as whatever else I can get my hands on. Until next week, game on!

~LadyCroft3