(Not a) Review of “Leliana’s Song” DLC for Dragon Age: Origins

The “Leliana’s Song” downloadable content for Dragon Age: Origins is the best post-launch DLC Bioware has released for its outstanding 2009 RPG. In addition to the things you’ve come to exepct from Dragon Age DLC — new items, new companions, new villains, etc. — “Leliana’s Song” stands out for its excellent voice acting and storytelling. If you’ve ever been tempted by any Dragon Age DLC, this is the one to download before any of the other post-launch content.

(Spoiler alert for anyone that hasn’t played the original!) “Leliana’s Song” is a prequel that examines the titular character’s past as an Orlesian spy. The DLC recounts the circumstances that lead her to chantry life in Ferelden, focusing on the betrayal by her mentor and lover Marjolaine. (And yes, fans of lesbian make-out scenes have something to look forward to.)

The storytelling is well done, thanks to a strong script and some excellent voice acting. Leliana and Marjolaine steal the show, while companions Sketch and Tug add some decent support. If you’re a Leliana fan — and lots of Dragon Age players are — then you’ll enjoy experiencing her past as a manipulative, cutthroat bitch bard. It’s such a great contrast to the seemingly dopey, bless-the-maker character you first encounter in Dragon Age.

The DLC adds some new music that’s completely appropriate for the adventures of the bard. Some of the exploration and battle tracks are lute driven, which is just cool. Along with cowbell, videogame music needs more lute.

In terms of gameplay, there’s nothing new. It’s the same action-RPG combat and exploration that made the original so enjoyable. Most players will be able to beat the DLC in less than two hours. It takes considerably less time if you skip through the dialog and cutscenes (in which case you’re kind of missing the point). Beating the DLC nets you some nifty armor (Battledress of the Provocateur) that can be used in Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Origins Awakening. Next to the Felon’s Coat, it’s the second-best light-armor in the game.

Most diehard Dragon Age fans have already purchased “Leliana’s Song.” If you’re on the fence about it due to disappointment in the other DLC then I recommend taking a chance on this one. It’s another dose of that lovely BioWare combination of fun gameplay and great storytelling. Out of all the Dragon Age DLC, “The Stone Prisoner” and “Leliana’s Song” are the best. This DLC is a nice prequel chapter in the Dragon Age saga that offers a few hours of fun and some nice armor that can be used in the full game.

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

I’m going to be spending more time with the “Leliana’s Song” DLC for Dragon Age: Origins. I’ve beaten it thrice already and want to play around with the dialog choices. This is my favorite post-launch DLC by far. The storytelling and voice acting are top notch. It’s just great stuff.

I’m also going to hop back into LEGO Harry Potter. I’ve enjoyed the game so far, but its lack of violence makes me wish for a T-rated Harry Potter game. It would be awesome to bust out an “avada kedavra” and being T-rated means Hermione could show some skin.

Anyway, let me know what’s on your weekend playlist when you have a moment.

BioWare Reveals Dragon Age II Details

BioWare has revealed the initial details on the hotly anticipated Dragon Age II, which is due out in Q1 2011. The sequel to one of my favorite games this generation, the game appears to be going in a different direction than the original Here’s a clip from the official site:

Experience the epic sequel to the 2009 Game of the Year from the critically acclaimed makers of Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. You are one of the few who escaped the destruction of your home. Now, forced to fight for survival in an ever-changing world, you must gather the deadliest of allies, amass fame and fortune, and seal your place in history. This is the story of how the world changed forever. The legend of your Rise to Power begins now.

BioWare claims that it will be using a different combat system and art style for DAII. While I thoroughly enjoyed the combat of the first game, some felt that it was limited and old fashioned. The graphics in the original weren’t bad, but were hardly cutting edge. The visuals in the sequel should be more modern. Here are the bullet points from the official site:

  • Embark upon an all-new adventure that takes place across an entire decade and shapes itself around every decision you make.
  • Determine your rise to power from a destitute refugee to the revered champion of the land.
  • Think like a general and fight like a Spartan with dynamic new combat mechanics that put you right in the heart of battle whether you are a mage, rogue, or warrior.
  • Go deeper into the world of Dragon Age with an entirely new cinematic experience that grabs hold of you from the beginning and never lets go.
  • Discover a whole realm rendered in stunning detail with updated graphics and a new visual style.

The game’s story isn’t as transparent as the original’s. Instead of playing a point-of-view character with the name and origin of your choice, DAII uses a set protagonist. The game’s press release gave more details:

Dragon Age 2 thrusts players into the role of Hawke, a penniless refugee who rises to power to become the single most important character in the world of Dragon Age. Known to be a survivor of the Blight and the Champion of Kirkwall, the legend around Hawke’s rise to power is shrouded in myth and rumor. Featuring an all-new story spanning 10 years, players will help tell that tale by making tough moral choices, gathering the deadliest of allies, amassing fame and fortune, and sealing their place in history. The way you play will write the story of how the world is changed forever.

I’m super psyched for the game (duh), but a little disappointed that it isn’t a direct sequel. I put a lot of time into my DA characters and their relationships. I was under the impression that I would learn the fate of my character’s decision with Morrigan. While I’m sure the repercussions will be addressed, it would have been more meaningful to experience the direct consequences.

Having said that, I can’t wait to learn more about Dragon Age II! The first trailer hits on August 17, 2010. Now where’s my countdown clock???

Source

Blizzard Will Require You to Use Your Real Name: Do You Care?

Blizzard has caused quite the ruckus by requiring Real ID in its official forums. In practical terms, this means users will have to use their real names. Here’s a clip from the forum announcement:

The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. The classic Battle.net forums, including those for Diablo II and Warcraft III, will be moving to a new legacy forum section with the release of the StarCraft II community site and at that time will also transition to using Real ID for posting.

Some users are applauding the move since troublemakers and flamers will no longer be able to hide behind anonymous handles. Some hate it, preferring the anonymity and/or role-playing that’s common in forums. Others think the move is shocking and claim that it brings all Blizzard fans one step closer to identity theft.

How do you feel about Blizzard’s use of Real ID? Is it a non-issue? Are you concerned about identity theft? Do you think other publishers will follow Blizzard’s move and require you to use your real name to talk about their games?

Coffee Talk #173: Do You Finish Your Games?

My friend Ted pretty much plays anything he gets his hands on. Sure, he loves his “gamer” games, but he’s my only friend that has played Dora the Explorer, those crap Burger King titles for Xbox 360, and dozens of casual iPhone/iPad games. I’m positive that he’s started more games than anyone else I know.

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Lindsey Lohan heading to the slammer, Vinnie Del Negro coaching the Clippers (or really, someone actually wanting to go there), or your final LeBron James prediction, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

My friend Ted pretty much plays anything he gets his hands on. Sure, he loves his “gamer” games, but he’s my only friend that has played Dora the Explorer, those crap Burger King titles for Xbox 360, and dozens of casual iPhone/iPad games. I’m positive that he’s started more games than anyone else I know.

That said, he doesn’t finish most games he plays. I would be genuinely shocked if he finished more than a dozen games in the last decade. Keep in mind that he’s worked as a videogame journalist, a game evaluator, and a designer since I’ve known him, so he’s had access to a ton of stuff (which makes his love of those Burger King games even more perplexing).

What are you gaming habits like? Do you finish most of the games you play? Or are you a chronic dabbler like Ted? Estimate your “batting average” when it comes to beating the games you buy/rent and leave it in the comments section (please).

Dragon Age: Origins Leliana’s Song DLC Available Now

BioWare has released the “Leliana’s Song” DLC for the outstanding Dragon Age: Origins. This DLC prequel examines Leliana’s past as an Orlesian spy, detailing her relationship with Marjolaine and the circumstances that led her to seek refuge with the chantry. The DLC costs 560 BioWare Points on PC, 560 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live, and $7 on PlayStation Network. Here are some details from the official site:

  • Explore Leliana’s dangerous past and why she joined the Chantry
  • A fully voiced cinematic experience brings the characters to life
  • Unlock a unique reward that transfers into your Awakening and Origins campaign
  • All-new musical compositions instensify the action and intrigue

As many of you know, DA is one of my favorite games this console generation. I’ve already downloaded the DLC and will be playing it later today. Expect a not-a-review in the near future…whether you want it or not, muahahahaha!!!

Anyone planning to download “Leliana’s Song”?

Coffee Talk #172: Counting Down to Digital Distribution

In the last ten days I spent two hours waiting for a PSP game to download and four hours waiting for an Xbox 360 game to download. In both cases I was annoyed and agitated that it took so long to download a relatively small amount of data. Six hours for a little over six GBs?!? That’s a step above cavemen banging two rocks together to start a fire!!! But you know what? It beats the crap out of the alternative.

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the NY Knicks signing Amare Stoudemire, Team Armstrong vs. Team Landis, or the the super pretentious Paris Apple Store, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

In the last ten days I spent two hours waiting for a PSP game to download and four hours waiting for an Xbox 360 game to download. In both cases I was annoyed and agitated that it took so long to download a relatively small amount of data. Six hours for a little over six GBs?!? That’s a step above cavemen banging two rocks together to start a fire!!! But you know what? It beats the crap out of the alternative.

Waiting two hours for a PSP is much better than going to a mall, dealing with crowds, and interacting with funployees. The four hours the Xbox 360 download took is much better than waiting for a package to arrive. I’m so ready for digital distribution to be the norm. I can’t wait for console companies and crap-bag ISPs (like my friends at Time Warner Cable) to get their acts together so that digital distribution can happen now.

I know that some of you still have issues with digital distribution and that a few of you still love boxes (I don’t get it). Are you anxious for digital distribution to hit? Or is waiting okay with you?