Monday, March 14, 2011

Improving On Fail of the Year

Just when we thought the shitstorm over Bioware's failure of a game called Dragon Age 2 was over... It just keeps getting better and better. Due to the obvious lack of quality in any way, shape or form of the game... Bioware resorted to what every major dev/publisher house would do to try and sell a piece of shit. They went and paid off every major critic site they could think of and boughtbribed, blew or otherwise paid for favorable reviews from most major critic sites out there.

However this wasn't enough to save the game from being called out by fans as the unfinished, rushed piece of garbage that it is.

So they did something called astroturfing, also known as grassroots activities. They had their staff go onto Metacritic and post deliberate inflated reviews with overly positive scores for the purpose of bumping the user score which was languishing in it's well-deserved spot of 3.0 or lower. Quite a common practice sadly, and everyone knows that any major McConsumerist Triple A Bollywood title will have a certain amount of bullshit/fake/paid off reviewing to inflate it's scores just so it will sell to the general McIdiot that actually thinks FauxFox News is gospel truth.

A day in the life of any profit driven greedy major dev backed by one of the Big Three Evils(tm) killing gaming today, nothing new. Nothing new at least, until you get caught redhanded in the act.

How did this come about? A discerning user browsing Metacritic decided it was quite odd that from a 3.0 user review average a few days ago, now suddenly the score has raised to an average of 4.0 due to a number of glowing 10/10 reviews from users that, oddly, only have the 3 platform versions of DA2 as their review. So our anonymous user decides to dox one of the reviewers... and well, the result is summed up in the image below. Click on the image to see the full thing, or simply click here.

 Either way, this is fail going from bad to worse. Not only are they banning people from games they paid for, something which, once it hit mainstream media, Bioware immediately went into damage control and called it a glitch. Now they can add astroturfing/grassroots activities to their list of fails, which, mind you, also conveniently includes lying about their DRM that is used in the game. I could also get started about their nonexistent TOTALLY AWESUMS level of customer service where customers with legitimate concerns are fobbed off and their threads locked by Nazi moderators all to happy to enforce the tiniest fine print in the T&C as a way to avoid answering difficult questions they are clearly unable to answer. I must point a finger at the Leader of the Fourth Reich moderator Stanley Woo for his shining examples of how if, you were sexually abused as a child and have no self-esteem, to make oneself feel better by becoming an Internets Forum Moderator(tm).

All in all, everything that Bioware can possibly have done wrong, has been done. Many have known for years that reviews were the result of back room bribery, but it's nice to have it shown at such an obvious level that a large dev/publisher is not above going far far over the line in the name of greed and profit. While it is a sad thing to happen to one of the formerly most loved RPG dev studios, I guess it was just a matter of time.

Congratulations Bioware once again, achievement unlocked.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fail of the Year, All Years

So, recently, Dragon Age 2 came out. My opinion of the first game isn't too bad. It's no Baldur's Gate 2 and will never be, in terms of depth of gameplay, choices and overall content, but it wasn't too bad. Now anyone following the development of DA2 would have known what to expect... Bioware were clearly going to dumb down the game to suit the Call of Duty crowd. But somewhere in the back of our minds we couldn't help but think 'it can't be THAT bad... can it?'.

Well.. unfortunately... it can...

Over the weekend I decided to give this a try. I acquired the game and all of the scam cut content DLC via the usual means... No, that doesn't mean paying for it... Paying for Bioware games is like admitting you watch Twilight and are in the Justin Bieber fanclub. It's just something you don't do. Bioware don't deserve money after all. Turns out that following this little mantra benefited me in the long run.

So, where do I start with this little review? Lets start with the install... I would never have thought that a disc containing only 40% of a game could have taken as long as it did to install. After waiting about 20 minutes, it was finally done. I grabbed a beer, sat back and proceeded to waste 3-4 hours of my life that I will, with overwhelming regret, never get back...

Graphics (4/10)
Ah yes, graphics. What makes up 90% of modern day McConsumerist Triple A Bollywood Games today. One would think, that as a bona fide modern day Triple A Bollywood title, that Dragon Age 2 would not disappoint in this area. How wrong one can be in assuming that. Even with the high definition texture pack installed... which, mind you, Bioware provided as a SEPARATE DOWNLOAD weighing in at roughly a gigabyte... Why this wasn't on the disc I have no idea... The game looks like absolute ass. Bland, uninspired, generic washed out textures that look like they come from a decade ago. Look at the screenshot for comparison. Just pathetic.

Details for characters are also all over the place. Facial shots can be quite well defined for main characters or major NPC's. Look closely enough and you'll see the quality is definitely not consistent. Backgrounds and environments, despite being a literal corridor walking game with absolutely no exploration whatsoever, are sparsely detailed and devoid of life. Totally unacceptable. They didn't even bother to put in a BACKGROUND for the party select screen... unlike the first game. The art design took a turn for the worse... taking a page out of the JRPG book while doing absolutely everything wrong. JRPG's and the anime look and style are always done deliberately to serve a purpose. Not so here. What we have here is a case of westaboo RPG wanting to shit on weeaboo RPG, and failing miserably at even doing that. Armor and weapon design is a spread of cobbled together bits of edgy metal, as opposed to actual decent designs in the first game. But I suppose this is what you get when you take a dev studio that no longer cares about anything but attempting to cash bleed and scam the fast dwindling fanbase. All in all, graphically, the game fails to deliver anything and manages to succeed in looking WORSE than the first game.

Sound (3/10)
Not really much to speak of here. Generic grunts, moans, wails and overly exaggerated clanging noises accompany overly exaggerated attack animations. If there was any music, it is completely forgettable as I cannot remember a single memorable tune. Character voices, especially the main character, are as flat and lifeless as you can get without actually being dead. They tried to go for a bit more 'immersion' by having your characters actually say something... but it's kind of hard to be immersed when choices generally consist of 'yes' 'no' and 'herp derp I wunts 2 be dragon herp herp'. Nevermind the fact that there is practically no plot to speak of anyway. Adding sound to a squishy turd doesn't make it sound any better.

Gameplay (1/10)
Ok here we go... Gameplay... Here's where I talk about how deep and engaging the new 'streamlined' gameplay and combat system is, accompanied by the deep and complex moral choices you are often presented with throughout the course of a decade long adventure that somehow only manages to last 7 years, which the last 3 years probably being cut content DLC. But, even before I can get into talking about gameplay... I have a small problem. Namely...


Calling this game an RPG is an insult to RPG's the world over. The game largely consists of you walking along a linear corridor from checkpoint to checkpoint while waves upon waves of enemies are being thrown at you like a freaking tower defense game. When you get to the end and reach your objective, or maybe midway through there is an NPC you can talk to for a bit of an intermission... You are given a DEEP AND COMPLEX MORAL CHOICE chance to flip a coin and make a herpderp choice that largely doesn't make a difference on whatever you pick as the outcome is scripted anyway. The 'dialog wheel' is honestly the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen in years. Yet the BDF (Bioware Defense Force) also known as Biofags or Bioware Buyfags, continuously laud this feature as the greatest achievement in RPG gaming since pen and paper D&D. See image to the right, sums it up.

Combat, while we're at it, consists of nothing but right clicking a target and occasionally pressing 1, maybe 2 for an alternate skill, and waiting for things to die. Bioware said that they wanted combat to become more engaging, and 'whenever you press a button, something awesome happens'. I don't know if you can call this awesome (you can't) but whenever you press a button, something does happen. Namely, characters move in greatly exaggerated motions making huge ridiculous poorly animated swings, numbers fly, and target drops dead. To quote a passage from this site because I really couldn't have said it any better:

"Dragon Age Origins had excellent combat animations with the standard fighting moves being fancy enough to look actually real and vicious while still keeping a gritty tone to them. THIS GAME FUCKS THAT IN THE ASS. Now you get mages shooting fireballs from between their legs while doing blackflips and Hawke is doing whirlwinds left and right and hitting thousands of enemies at once in ridiculous flashy and stupid looking animations. Yeah, way to keep the serious fucking tone of the game when my rogue is jumping around the game like a fucking monkey stabbing people all around the map. Way to go dipshit."

Lather rinse repeat ad infinitum for about 4 hours. Add another hour if you were stupid enough to buy the cut content DLC, or if you were smart enough to pirate it. The game is nothing but a button mashing offline WoW, and that's putting it mildly. Around the 3rd hour of play I was seriously considering loading up an auto clicker, it probably would have gotten the job done just as well. Monotonous, cookiecutter MMO style 'fetch me five rat tails' style quests do little to ease the pain of playing this game. The entire game also takes place in ONE city. One city, about 5 or 6 dungeons, and like the image on the right shows... 3 dialog choices per character.

On the subject of characters... what the hell happened to the characters? Again quoting this review as I really cannot say it any better:

"The first five minutes of the game you are stuck playing as a Human considering that ALL the origin stories are now gone which added replay and differences to the game and you are stuck with shitty human companions. One of them is your sister who DIES thankfully because her writing was terrible. You get a stupid dwarf who looks like some fat mobster from the 80s wearing a sweat suit with his chest hair flaring out. Yeah, that is great character design. These characters have absolutely NOTHING interesting to offer the game, nothing they say is even remotely interesting, their backgrounds are bland, and beyond that the love story in this game is LAUGHABLE. Beyond that, they replaced the standard text with a dialog wheel FOR RETARDS. Seriously the whole fucking game the only replies you can make are HAPPY, FUNNY, BAD. Oh wow, how INTERESTED, yeah it really sucks me into the game when my stupid replies are the same stupid set of three options everytime. Whoever did the writing for this game needs to have his fucking eyes swatted by a cat because no matter which characters speaks it is just so uninteresting that it makes my testicles hurt."

I could start talking about the usual Bioware scam, the day one DLC and preorder slightly less withheld Signature edition DLC... But I've said the same thing so many times now there's really no point repeating it. You get 40% of a game on disc, with cut content out of the box day one... They claim the game will last 'a decade' of in-game years, and yet the game ends after the 7th year with most likely the last 3 years as further cut content scam DLC. All in all, nothing new for Bioware. Totally expected, and further reasons as to why they do not deserve a cent of anybody's money.

From Bad to Worse
What I CAN get started on is how Bioware are reacting to all the negativity, and they are doing so in one of the most unprecedented, unacceptable ways for a company to react. After the game's release, it got hammered on Metacritic and received numerous poor ratings, justifiably so. Bioware, after having a large peanut butthurt and u jelly sandwich, decided they weren't having any of this, and rang SOVIET RUSSIA for halps. Because we all know, IN SOVIETS RUSSIA, GAME RATES U. They posted on their Russian community forums, a plea for the Bioware Defense Force to rise up against the evil that is North Korea and to fight fire with fire, and skew the ratings on Metacritic in favor of the steaming pile of shit GOTY all years candidate that is Dragon Age 2. Naturally, this didn't go so well and obviously nothing has changed.

Additionally, they have also taken to a draconian, heavy handed, Nazi approach and are deleting threads with any negativity in them whatsoever. Bioware employees are also taking a holier than thou attitude towards any form of criticism such as the example below, with the lead failure writer David Gayder Gaider taking absolute offense to any criticism of his deep and engaging shallow, paper thin plot and script. 

To make matters worse, people are being banned from the Bioware forums for negativity, and then finding out now, suddenly, that being banned also means they are now unable to play the games WHICH THEY HAVE PAID FOR.

This is over the line. If there was ever any reason to pirate Bioware for life, this is it. With Bioware's attitude nicely summed up in the example below, courtesy of lead faggot moderator Stanley Woo clearly stating that Bioware have the right to remove your right to play the game even if you bought it... Why should anybody pay?

However. All this really is a non issue. The game itself is trash, a total waste of time, and I want the 3 hours of my life that I spent playing this trash back. The only good thing gained from playing this, is realizing how low Bioware have fallen from their former greatness. I remember with great fondness, titles such as Baldur's Gate 2 and Jade Empire. I remember back when Bioware was a name to respect, a name to expect greatness from. Today, Bioware is a name to hate, revile, and wish death and bankruptcy upon... Even if only to save what little, miniscule face it may have left.

Normally, here's where a final score for a review would go, but there is no scale in existence that goes low enough to be able to score this game. Giving it a -100% is too nice. Giving it a 0/100 is insulting to the number 0. So regretfully I am unable to give a final score as there isn't a scale in existence that goes low enough.

However I can, and will say an honest heartfelt congratulations to EA and Bioware, for they have finally created an undefeatable, 100% working anti-piracy solution, which is:

"Make a game so ridiculously shit that it's not even worth pirating."
 Congratulations Bioware, achievement unlocked.